Helen Thomas, the oldest member of the White House Press Corp. on the secrecy of the Bush Administration:
I did think that tough questions were always very important. With Kennedy, we knew he enjoyed the banter with the press, and he had the first live televised news conferences. And it made a big difference in terms of really capturing the imagination of the public. It was the first time they really saw reporters in action, they saw a witty president that was able to dodge questions as deftly as anyone, and he had great eloquence. That was the first time the American people really became interested in presidential news conferences.
And then Johnson had a love-hate relationship with the press. He couldn’t live without us, and yet at the same time, he thought we were hurting him every day. The words “credibility gap” were created in that era.
With Nixon, that is when news management and manipulation really began. Now, every president wants to put his best foot forward, and always be able to manage and manipulate news coverage.
All presidential candidates, especially, vow to run an open administration. But they step foot in the Oval Office and the Iron Curtain slams down. Suddenly, all information that I think belongs in the public domain becomes their private preserve.
The manipulation of the press has become greater and greater. This is the most secretive administration I have ever covered. And they’re all secretive.
The whole interview is on Salon.com.
Thanks to Michael Parker for this post.