Hot Under the Spotlight

Sessions between White House spokesmen and reporters often include a sharp word or two, but the briefings by Larry Speakes on Ronald Reagan's health, which sometimes seemed more like sparring matches than news conferences, have highlighted some frailties of the President's press office and its tense relationship with the often abrasive White House press corps. The tone was set when Speakes distributed copies of the letter temporarily transferring presidential powers to Vice President George Bush but refused to read the missive on live television. The ensuing chaos embarrassed all involved: while TV reporters in the front row faced their cameras and...

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