Office of the Press Secretary

Remarks of President Bill Clinton

White House Correspondents’ Dinner

April 23, 1994


I know how these dinners can drag on so I brought a little work with me. I figured I’d go through my short list for Supreme Court nominees. I got about six names down before I realized I had taken my MCI Friends & Family list with me by mistake.

Over the past few months, I’ve gotten thousands of letters and telegrams from friends and concerned people offering their advice and best wishes during trying times. With their help, I think I’ve finally gotten a handle on how to get along better with the White House press corps. So tonight, I’d like to share the telegrams that touched me most deeply.

The one lesson I’ve finally learned is not to assign the worst motives to the reporters and news organizations that cover you. There is no conspiracy among the press corps. Hunting in packs is just a matter of instinct.

I know some people say the Washington press corps has been pretty tough on me. But I’ve done research and have reason to believe that the opposite is true. In fact, they’ve been holding back.

We got our hands on some magazine cover stories that were rejected for being too tough. (You don’t have to work at the White House to leak information.)

Scoop, can we show those rejected magazine covers?

[slides appear on four large screens around the room.]

Here’s one that almost ran in U.S. News:?

cover photo: First Couple??

• caption: "1994 Tax Tips"

Here’s a Consumer Reports that almost made it to the newsstands.

cover photo: President & Bobby Ray Inman

• caption: "Rating the Clinton nominees"

We knew something was up when Field & Stream applied for a White House press pass.......?

cover photo: white water rafters

• caption: "Whitewater edition"

...the same week Motor Trend did too.?

cover photo: President in Mustang?

• caption: "Recall?"

GOURMET wanted a piece of the action.???

• cover photo: Ronald McDonald?

• caption: "New White House Chef"


One magazine wanted to do a story about my most senior advisors.

Modern Maturity

cover photo: Cutler, Bentsen & Christopher

And here’s a Sports Illustrated cover that might have been.?

cover photo: President swimming in San Diego?

• caption: "Swimsuit Issue"

We found this old magazine lying around from the Reagan administration.

National Review

• cover photo: David Gergen??

• caption: 1984 Man of the Year

And this more recent magazine.

Mother Jones??

• cover photo: David Gergen??

• caption: 1994 Man of the Year

Something that just came in the mail.

Lands’ End catalog?

• cover photo: Jim Leach ??

• caption: "Fall Sweater Issue"

Here’s an interesting comparison. Here’s a Time Magazine cover they ran in 1993.

• "The Incredible Shrinking President"

I thought it was kind of tough at the time, but here’s the one they rejected.

"The Incredible Growing President"

• [President’s head pasted on sumo wrestler’s body]

Some of you may remember this cover story:

• "Deep Water"

I think that photo really managed to capture George’s sense of unbridled joy about being on the cover of Time Magazine.

By now everyone knows that the cover photo was old and was cropped. But the truth is, Time cut me a big break. Because how many of you have seen the original photo, uncropped?

[uncropped shot with Roseanne Arnold pasted in over Dee Dee]

It’s not what you think. She was talking to me and George about some kind of unusual marriage arrangement.

The point is: these rejected covers show the courageous restraint and collective good judgment of the Washington press corps. That’s something the American people need to know about you.

As someone who’s been working to overcome some of my own image problems, I want to help you do it, too. Tonight, I want to extend my hand to you and offer my advice on how the press might work to improve its image. Now some of you may ask, Why do I want to help you?

Why do I want to help you? [pick up index card]

Message: I care.

I believe that we’re all in this together. And the hits the American people have taken are nothing compared to the hits the people inside the beltway have taken. So I’ve come up with a few things I can do to help you in the months ahead:

I will stop jogging with obscure Congressman and spend more time with the people who really matter -- you. Tomorrow morning at 6 a.m., Jack Germond and I are going on a 3 mile run. I’ll be the one wearing the Razorback t-shirt.

I promise not to get mad when Brit Hume refers to me as "the current president."

And even if I do lose my patience once in a while, you have nothing to worry about with this White House. Ask Jay Stephens. We don’t get even, we just get mad.

I know how tough a slow news day can be, So I’ve instructed Dee Dee to release details of potential scandals for you to use at your leisure:

.......overdue library books from law school

.......grapes I’ve eaten in the supermarket

.......and the discrepancy between my actual weight and what’s listed on my driver’s license.

In fact, I’d like to take this opportunity to come clean on a statement I made earlier this week. At an appearance on MTV, I was asked a question about my undergarments. More specifically, whether I wore boxers or briefs. I answered I wear briefs -- which is a true statement that speaks to the current facts. However, it is also true that for a short time during my youth, I did in fact wear boxer shorts. It was actually a "brief" period of time and this semantic coincidence may have been the source of my confusion.

The number of boxers totaled six pairs in all: three white, two striped, one baby blue with a Razorback motif and little red hogs.

I was reminded of this fact while reading a passage in my Mother’s book about doing our laundry.

I am taking this opportunity to make a full and complete disclosure. I have turned all of my underwear to Mr. Fiske’s office -- including the receipts from their donation to charity and the tax deductions I took for them in 1962. $3.38. I am also making copies of my underwear available to the news media. Naturally, since the Special Prosecutor has all of my current underwear, I will need to buy some more. I will keep all of you apprised as to the type, size, brand name, national origin and fiber content.

I have no further statement at this time.

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