Top Clinton Staffers Speak

McCurry, Carville Discuss Media's Coverage of President

Addressing issues from campaign finance reform to President Clinton's temper, two top Clinton officials and two IOP fellows held a lively panel discussion at the Institute of Politics (IOP) ARCO Forum last night.

White House Press Secretary Mike McCurry and James Carville, senior political advisor to the president, spoke on the Clinton presidency and its coverage in the media.

"People should understand that most newspapers now have multiple reporters covering this," McCurry said, adding that the Washington Post has about 16 reporters on its White House beat.

One of the panelists, Richard L. Berke, an IOP fellow and national political correspondent for The New York Times, asked McCurry and Carville to address current hot topics in Washington--campaign funding and campaign finance reform.

McCurry said the White House tries its best to provide the public with the information that is available.


"The president instructed us to answer questions, get information out there and be candid and forthcoming," McCurry said.

At the same time, he added that coverage of issues such as the current questions on Clinton's campaign funds, comes at the cost of coverage of other important work being done by the Clinton administration.

"There are a lot of interesting things happening that you are not hearing about because of this," McCurry said.

"There used to be some real demarcation between campaigning and governing," McCurry said. "There's some damage in always covering the White House as a political beat."

Carville, whose sneakers and jeans stood in marked contrast to the more formal attire of the other panelists, said that, unlike McCurry, he is free to speak more bluntly on many of the issues.

"I decided that I wasn't going to ask anyone's permission," Carville said. "I'm 52 years old," he added to audience laughter.

"The defenders of the president and the president are held to an entirely different standard than the attackers of the president," Carville said. "I am not going to shut up and they aren't going to shut me up."

The panelists also discussed the role of foreign affairs and international coverage in relation to the White House.

McCurry said the White House plays a significant role in the determining the coverage given to international affairs, and said he believes that Secretary of State Madeleine Albright will help to increase the profile of international stories.

"One of the things Secretary Albright said she will do is make more vivid the role of the U.S.," he said.