Radio & TV Correspondents’ Dinner | White House Correspondents’ Dinner


Radio & TV Correspondents’ Dinner | White House Correspondents’ Dinner


White House Correspondents’ Dinner


Radio & TV Correspondents’ Dinner | White House Correspondents’ Dinner


Radio & TV Correspondents’ Dinner | White House Correspondents’ Dinner


Radio & TV Correspondents' Dinner


Radio & TV Correspondents’ Dinner | White House Correspondents’ Dinner


Office of the Press Secretary


The President of the United States

Remarks to Radio & Television Correspondents’ Dinner

Washington Hilton

April 12, 1994

I can’t tell you how happy I am to be here tonight to honor the 50th anniversary of the TV dinner. In fact, I was a little disappointed the entrée wasn’t Salisbury steak.

Really, I am delighted to be here tonight. An d if you believe that, I have some land in northwest Arkansas I’d like to sell you.

I do want to congratulate you on fifty years of television and radio coverage of Washington politics. And your fifty dinners dating back to 1945. Not only do I want to congratulate the Correspondents’ Association but also Helen Thomas. Helen attended that very first dinner and most of the dinners between then and now. Tonight, I get to ask Helen the first question: Why?

All of you deserve congratulations as well. I’d like to thank your president, Brian Lochman, for inviting me and Garrison Keillor for joining us this evening. As you described the fabled Lake Wobegon, we like to think all the kids at the White House are slightly above-average.

I see your colleague Cokie Roberts is sitting with us at the head table tonight. At least it looks like the head table.

I know Rick Kaplan told me it was.

This past half century has witnessed some of the greatest moments of political history. And you have been responsible for many of them. Tonight, I’d like to recount a few of those highlights:

Your impact dates back to 1922, when Warren Harding utters the first words ever spoken by a president over the radio: "Gergen, come here. I need you."

In 1944, your association's first year, Franklin Roosevelt delivers more of his Fireside chats over the radio. Today, of course, you insist the president sit directly on the logs.

Following a reliable source hours after the 1948 election, network news airs the very first televised interview with President-elect Thomas E. Dewey.

1952. Dwight Eisenhower says he will go to Korea. First question from the press is about their seating arrangements on the plane.

1960. Researchers discover that people who watched the Kennedy/Nixon debate on television thought John Kennedy won. But people who listened to the debate on radio thought -- "when the hell am I gonna get a television?"

1972. Democratic presidential candidate George McGovern concedes a 49-state, 23-point landslide election. The press demands to see the records of his losses.

1974. Two crusading young journalists take on a president for abuse of office. And to this day, Evans & Novak have never forgiven Richard Nixon for price controls.

In 1981, Dan Rather replaces Walter Cronkite. Soon after, an impressionable Jim Leach purchases his first sweater.

1982. The introduction of the first Saturday morning political cartoon, called The McLaughlin Group.

1988. A network news producer whispers in the ear of a Dukakis advance staffer. "Why use a jeep when you can put him in a tank?"

1994. George Mitchell goes live on CNN to withdraw his name from Supreme Court consideration, fueling speculation that he’d rather argue with Steinbrenner than Scalia.

I can only imagine how grand your future will be. Just take all of these proud moments and multiply them by 500 channels.

Yours is a proud history indeed. My history with the press is another matter.

Some say my relations with the press have been marked by self-pity. I like to think of it as the outer limits of my empathy. I feel my pain.

Others say "if you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen." My problem is: I don’t want to leave the kitchen.

In fact, my next major interview is with Kathleen Sullivan.

Despite what is being reported now, I think history will show that, in fact, I had a very good relationship with the press. And if it doesn’t, I’ll complain like hell about the historians.

Many of you know that I have some strong opinions on the issue of privacy. And they’re none of your business.

I don’t want to alarm any of you, but it’s three days before April 15th and most of you have spent more time with my taxes than your own. Many happy returns.

I happen to believe, however, that amid all the recent media frenzy, many important accomplishments of this administration have gone overlooked and under-reported.

For example, since I’ve taken office, the United States government has raised $21 million in back taxes from people with nannies. And that’s in the West Wing alone.

Millions of Americans feel better about how they look in jogging shorts.

There is an increasing awareness of the information superhighway. Today, 72% of Americans are in favor of the idea, provided the rest stops are clean.

Not only do we have an administration that looks more like America, but one that changes jobs and careers at the same rate as the American work force.

Ours is the first administration that’s had a senior advisor featured on the cover of both Time Magazine and Teen Beat.

We established the first smokeless back room of American politics.

My Vice President has made great strides in his first and most daunting assignment, Reinventing Al Gore.

We’ve created 2.3 million new jobs. Nearly half of them in the health insurance lobby.

I think you can expect to see more great things in the years to come. Because this is an administration that doesn’t know the meaning of the word "surrender." The meaning of the word "cowardice." The meaning of the word "timidity." And for an administration with such a limited vocabulary, I think we’ve done pretty well already.

Over the last eight months, this administration has brought in some very good people to get me over the bumps of my first year. Because I still believe in a place called "Help."


I have been called the first President to have grown up in the electronic age.

It’s true. I also had a radio in that pickup, and I’ll tell you why: it told me what was happening in the world.

And television showed me. I saw Presidential debates. I saw election night returns. I saw a process unfold.

The fact is: the media have changed how we all see the world and how the world sees us. And the media have changed, too.

On any given day, in any given hour, news, talk and opinion -- they all collide on the airwaves. But if you listen, you’ll hear a very sweet sound: the symphony of free speech.

Tonight we pay tribute to radio and television journalists. I am honored to know many of you. You hold a special place in this democracy.

Thank you for including Hillary and me tonight.

God bless you.

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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.

    I saw Andrea Mitchell’s report today and I think it’s an outrage. Let me know how I can help. -- Jeff Gilhooly

    I don’t have a clue what people want from you. Trust your instincts. -- Stan Greenberg

    Bill, remember it’s 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 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.

    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 Journalism’s ?basketball team makes it to the Final Four.

    4. Learn to play a reed instrument.

    5. Don’t borrow money.

    Don’t lend money.

    Don’t make money.

    And for God’s sake, don’t lose money.

    Remember the beauty of the barter system.

    6. You are never too busy for a good haircut.

    -- And I’m 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 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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Remarks of President Bill Clinton

Radio & TV Correspondents' Dinner

Washington Hilton, Washington, D.C.

March 14, 1995


Thank you all for inviting Hillary and me to this wonderful evening. I am told that this is the largest group of radio and television correspondents ever assembled away from a Los Angeles courtroom.

I know that trial has been tough on the Washington press, cutting into your airtime. I watched a few minutes last week as the camera zoomed in on Judge Ito's computer monitor. There was an urgent e-mail message from Wolf Blitzer begging for a recess.

This is my third year coming to these dinners. Every year when we come here, Hillary and I recognize more and more faces. But I noticed a few who are missing. This year, PBS could not afford a ticket for both MacNeil and Lehrer. At least that's what Louis Rukeyser told me when he checked my coat at the door.

It's a shame that PBS has gotten caught in all this political crossfire. It's now Day 69 of the Contract, and the Republicans are starting to hedge. It turns out the fine print of the Contract reads 100 business days.

Have you noticed that the Republicans are suddenly all up in arms over affirmative action now that the Democrats are a minority?

This week, one of the issues on the Hill is term limits. I've made my position clear: I'll settle for two terms -- no ifs, ands, or buts.

There are so many Republican candidates for President, the operator at L.L. Bean told me they are back-ordered on red-flannel shirts. And mine won't arrive until June.

But as I've said, I'm just going to keep doing the job the American people elected me to do and let the rest take care of itself. And we have lots to do. I was working on a Saturday a couple weeks back, trying to get to the things a President hardly has any time to do during the regular work week: reinventing my filing system, adding up my frequent flier miles on Air Force One and doing some spackling in the Roosevelt Room.

The Vice President was also in that day, mulching the environment in the Rose Garden. He came into my office and the next thing you know, we were brainstorming on new ideas to streamline government.

Maybe it was because it was the weekend and we were relaxed, but we came up with ideas that had never occurred to us before. Exciting ideas. Breakthrough ideas. Third Wave ideas. Here, let me read you the list:

Right off the bat, we discovered an extra "C" at the FCC. Not a bad start.

We asked: do we really need North and South Dakota? But given the Balanced Budget Amendment vote, we ended up deciding that we should propose a Central Dakota.

Quite graciously, the Vice President suggested we do away with the White House Christmas Tree and, next year, just hang the decorative ornaments on him.

Leon came by. He said that, given what he deals with every day, we could save money if we put him in charge of FEMA as well.

We said we could combine the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Bureau of Indian Affairs. Just call it "Joint Chiefs."

Then the three of us figured out a way to re-organize the White House staff: replace fifteen thirty-year olds with five ninety-year olds. Now we were getting somewhere.

Other people came by.We discussed opportunities for entrepreneurship. Instead of salaries, we could put the President and Congress on commission. Forget deficits. We'd be turning a profit in no time.

We could seek corporate sponsorships for government events. Make February 12th Lincoln-Mercury's Birthday.

Someone said: "We can do better marketing. We should put Ed McMahon's picture on IRS refund checks." . . . Just imagine: envelopes from the Treasury Department with the words "You may already be a winner."

Someone suggested we cut back the Defense Department. But that is where I drew the line. Let me make this clear: I will not allow the Pentagon to be reduced to a triangle.

Then, we came to the issue of school lunches. And I believe we have found a much better way to save money through streamlining, so we don't have to deprive children of their lunch. One word: Spork. [President holds up a "spork"]

It's a cross between a spoon and a fork. Now that is streamlining. The "spork" is the perfect symbol for my Administration. Because I have long believed the choice between utensils is a false choice. The spork is neither spoon nor fork. It defies labels. It is the third way.

We decided to combine the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearms with both the Bureau of Fisheries and the Interstate Trucking Commission. We'd call it "The Department of Guys."

You'll be relieved to hear one consolidation we rejected out of hand: the F.B.I.R.S.

We were coming up with so many ideas, I couldn't write them down fast enough. We even talked about moving the U.S. Senate to New Hampshire to cut down on commuting costs.

And then, finally, we had the best idea of all. The idea that is sure to streamline government and cut out all the things that make people so angry at Washington. Borrowing an idea from tort reform, we want to clamp down on frivolous campaigns. I say we make losers pay for the winner's campaign. Retroactive to 1992. Now that's good government.

Just another Saturday afternoon at the White House. That's the kind of thinking you can get when you put a bunch of motivated people in a room who don't get enough sleep.

Well, I could go on forever. But you already know that. So let me thank you for hearing me out. For 51 years, you've gotten together and invited people to join in celebrating the best in the electronic media. And while times change, our purpose for coming together does not. It's nice to enjoy the company of people who work in the same town and to get to know each other a little better. Whether we always know it or not, we are all linked here -- by our interests and concerns and most of all, by the people we serve in our different ways. In this time of change, we all have our work cut out for us.

Thanks again for having us here tonight. I know the next speaker, Bill Maher, has a TV show named Politically Incorrect. Out of respect for him, I have tried very hard tonight not to be "politically incorrect." So I know we would all appreciate it, Bill if you would try not to be Presidential.

Thank you and good night.

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The Speech Too Funny to Give

Undelivered Remarks to

the White House Correspondents’ Dinner

April 29, 1995


Good evening ladies and gentlemen. I especialy want to welcome those viewers watching this speech live on C-SPAN and CBS.....

Welcome. Welcome. Welcome. There, I think that’s everybody.

I know that calling the White House press corps together in one room in these days of an ambitious Republican Congress raises the relevant question: is the President funny? You bet I am. The Constitution makes me funny. The power of the presidency makes me funny. If any of you don’t believe me, don’t laugh at my jokes. And have a nice audit.

Most of you also know that Mike McCurry and his wife Debra just gave birth to their third child, Christopher, last Friday. So it won’t be long before young Chris is old enough to work in the press office.

Mike has served me well and I trust he’s done the same for you. I particularly liked his new policy, instructing the press office staff to send him a note each day chronicling a good deed they’ve done for the press corps -- or kick in a dollar to a pizza fund.

This of course was an expansion of my idea, where each day everyone at the White House kicks in a dollar and we just order pizzas.

By and large, Mike’s plan has really had some great results. I’d like to share with you tonight some of the notes the press staff has sent to Mike in the past few months:

•?To Mike from Ginny: I told Wolf that -- Ito or no Ito -- he’s still got the best looking beard on CNN.

•?To Mike from Kathy: I added Brit Hume to my Friends & Family calling circle.

•?To Mike from Mary Ellen: I whispered the President’s statement on the peso into Connie Chung’s ear and she repeated it verbatim on the news.

•?To Mike from Laura: I administered CPR to Jack Germond after he jogged with the President.


•?To Mike from George: I snubbed Eleanor Clift in public, just like she asked me to.

•?To Mike from Rica: I told Brian Williams that when the Klieg lights hit him in a certain way, he looks just like Tom Brokaw.

•?To Mike from Julie: I told Lois Romano what kind of hair conditioner George uses.

•?To Mike from Laurie: I told Rita Braver that Andrea Mitchell was a milquetoast by comparison.

•?To Mike from Ginny: I took Diane Sawyer to lunch. Note: she likes the honey mustard sauce on her McNuggets.

?(So do I, Diane.)

•?To Mike from Rahm: I held the door open for Elizabeth Drew............She still wouldn’t leave my office.

However, because not every person was able to meet Mike’s challenge every day, there was about twenty bucks in the pizza fund. The First Lady offered to manage the fund. She has invested it wisely and I’m pleased to announce we’ll be serving surf and turf instead.


It was just two weeks ago when I announced the new government policy for declassifying what were once closely guarded government secrets. I know it will benefit all Americans but members of the press corps especially. Because now you won’t have to make stuff up.

This whole initiative began when I personally lobbied the FDA to release the recipe for McDonald’s "secret sauce."

Among the documents and disclosures that now can be released:

•?Henry Kissinger’s little black book

• A revelation from NASA that Apollo 11 took off with 4 men and came back with 5. The fifth was James Carville.

• J. Edgar Hoover’s 10 tips for a fabulous summer look.

• Joseph McCarthy’s secret interrogation of all 25 players on the Cincinnati Reds.

• The certificate that proves that Douglas MacArthur didn’t fade away. He just died.

• A recording of a 1957 cabinet meeting where Eisenhower staffers repeatedly mispronounced the word "Shiite."

• Al Smith’s prescription for Prozac dated only weeks before he was first referred to as the "Happy Warrior."

• Secret communications between Eisenhower and Kruschev exchanging tips for maintaining a healthy scalp.

• Francis Gary Powers’ frequent flier number.

• A secret CIA plan to destabilize the government of the District of Columbia. (Thank God that one was nipped in the bud!)

• Woodrow Wilson’s secret involvement in the establishment of the International House of Pancakes.

• John Kennedy’s first draft of his inaugural speech with the words:"What can you do for your country? Don’t ask."

• Although John Kennedy’s advisors have come to be known as the "best and the brightest," in his private papers, he referred to them as the "Chowderheads."

• Disturbing photographs of LBJ picking up his own grandchildren by the ears.

• Gerald Ford’s plans for his own controversial military personnel policy that reads: No shirts, no shoes, no service.

• Never before revealed testimony of Ollie North telling the truth under oath.

• And the most recent: The National Security Council's plan to keep Kato Kaelin out of the Lincoln bedroom.


I’d like to conclude by introducing a fascinating young man. Consider Conan O’Brien for a moment. Here is a young man who came from obscurity, given a sidekick with more inside experience and despite the successes he’s so proud of and mentions to anyone who will listen, 248 million Americans never see him in prime time. Conan, believe me, I feel your pain.