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Monday, June 24, 2024
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Former Clinton press secretary reveals biggest regret

The former press secretary under U.S. President Bill Clinton, Mike McCurry, said his biggest regret is not restricting White House press briefings, he told a School of Communication class on March 19.

“The biggest mistake I made was that I turned this briefing into a news event,” McCurry said of his introduction of recorded press briefings. “It became theater, posturing.”

Mike McCurry discussed the intersection of journalism and politics in SOC Professor Richard Benedetto’s “Politics of Mass Communications” class at the professor’s request.

McCurry served four years as press secretary under Clinton from 1994 to 1998. He also served as press secretary for several presidential campaigns and as spokesman for the State Department. He now teaches a course on the intersection of religion and politics at Wesley Theological Seminary in D.C.

Prior to McCurry’s tenure as press secretary, briefings were not recorded, he said. In 1995, McCurry started recording segments of his press briefings, which he said allowed him to focus his thoughts. Then in 1998, media outlets began to televise the press briefings due to the national attention of the Monica Lewinski scandal, McCurry said.

After press briefings went live, they became reality TV with no useful information for the public, McCurry said.

“Playing with the camera is the enemy of the public’s right to know,” he said to the class.

McCurry was also very critical about the state U.S. media, its lack of transparency and the inability of the American public to access accurate and useful information about government.

“If we don’t have a White House that is accountable to people asking obnoxious questions then we will pay the price for it,” McCurry said.

McCurry also gave advice for budding journalists and press secretaries. Learning how to write and how to write quickly are the most important things you can do, he said.

“Learn how to write in more than 140 characters of a tweet at a time,” McCurry said.

As the semester comes to an end and one of the founding members leaves American University, Section 202 has decided to take a trip down memory lane. For our fans, old and new, who are wondering how Section 202 came to be, this episode is a must. Listen along as hosts Connor Sturniolo and Liah Argiropoulos reminisce about the beginning of Section 202 and how it got to where it is now.

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