THE WHITE HOUSE
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 Id 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, Ive 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 Ive finally gotten a handle on how to get along better with the White House press corps. So tonight, Id like to share the telegrams that touched me most deeply.
I saw Andrea Mitchells report today and I think its an outrage. Let me know how I can help. -- Jeff Gilhooly
I dont have a clue what people want from you. Trust your instincts. -- Stan Greenberg
Bill, remember its never too late to pull out of the 92 election. -- Ross Perot
I support you 100% in this so-called Whitewater scandal. Furthermore, I do not believe it has ever been conclusively proven that there is, in fact, a state called "Arkansas". -- James Johnston, R.J. Reynolds
This one from Dave Gergen: Can I list you as a reference?
The one lesson Ive 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 Ive done research and have reason to believe that the opposite is true. In fact, theyve been holding back.
We got our hands on some magazine cover stories that were rejected for being too tough. (You dont 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.]
Heres one that almost ran in U.S. News:?
cover photo: First Couple??
caption: "1994 Tax Tips"
Heres 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?
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.
cover photo: Cutler, Bentsen & Christopher
And heres 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.
cover photo: David Gergen??
caption: 1984 Man of the Year
And this more recent magazine.
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"
Heres an interesting comparison. Heres a Time Magazine cover they ran in 1993.
"The Incredible Shrinking President"
I thought it was kind of tough at the time, but heres the one they rejected.
"The Incredible Growing President"
[Presidents head pasted on sumo wrestlers body]
Some of you may remember this cover story:
I think that photo really managed to capture Georges 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]
Its 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. Thats something the American people need to know about you.
As someone whos 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.
Number one. Get booked on Larry King. Go around the president and speak directly to the American people.
2. Hire Gergen.
3. Pray like hell the Columbia School of Journalisms ?basketball team makes it to the Final Four.
4. Learn to play a reed instrument.
5. Dont borrow money.
Dont lend money.
Dont make money.
And for Gods sake, dont lose money.
Remember the beauty of the barter system.
6. You are never too busy for a good haircut.
-- And Im not just talking to you, Sam.
7. Since you are going through the White House trash anyway, please separate glass, paper and plastic.
(That one came from Al Gore.)
8. Be positive. Instead of describing me as "beleaguered," use words like "courageous", "sage-like" and "Lincolnesque."
Finally: if you want a friend in Washington, get a dog. I wish someone had told me that before I showed up here with?a neutered cat.
I believe that were 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 Ive 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. Ill 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 dont get even, we just get mad.
I know how tough a slow news day can be, So Ive instructed Dee Dee to release details of potential scandals for you to use at your leisure:
.......overdue library books from law school
.......grapes Ive eaten in the supermarket
.......and the discrepancy between my actual weight and whats listed on my drivers license.
In fact, Id 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 Mothers 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. Fiskes 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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