TAMPA. Fla. – Of all 13 White House press secretaries I have covered, one of the most appealing and likable – as well as imaginative, to be sure – was Ari Fleischer, who served President George W. Bush.
At the Republican National Convention here, he did me the honor of coming by my broadcasting table on Talk Radio Row for a brief, but pointed, interview.
He declined, and I did not press him, to comment specifically on his successor, Jay Carney, the incumbent White House press secretary. But he did say the following, which I very much appreciated and which, I do believe, should be the fairness standard of all White House briefings.
Q: You miss us, don’t you?!
FLEISCHER: (After a hearty laugh) I miss you on days that don’t end in “Y”!
No, you know there’s always a piece that this is politics, this is the White House, this is the clash with the White House Press Corps, of which you are a prominent part – and an enjoyable part.
Q: You always were fair, you see. And that I really appreciated, because even though you might dodge at some of your – your answers were absolutely multitudinous! – but you always were fair, and you always gave everybody a chance – which is not done today! But I won’t ask you to comment on that!
FLEISCHER: Well, my view is that if people show up every day for work, as the White House Press Corps, they should get a question. I think the front of the room gets the most questions – but that shouldn’t be to the exclusion of the rest of the room. People who come to do their jobs should be able to do their jobs.