Taking Heat: The President, the Press, and My Years in the White House

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9780060747626: Taking Heat: The President, the Press, and My Years in the White House

The early years of the twenty-first century were a tumultuous time in America. The country faced a hotly contested presidential election, the largest terrorist attack in the nation's history, and the early stages of war. Through it all, President George W. Bush surrounded himself with a handful of close advisers. During this time the man beside the President was Ari Fleischer, his press secretary and one of his most trusted confidants. In this role, Fleisher was present for every decision and became an eyewitness to history.

In this riveting account, Fleischer goes behind the scenes as he recalls his experiences in the West Wing. Through the ups and downs of this time, he took the heat, fielded the questions, and brought the President's message into living rooms around the world.

In Taking Heat, Fleischer, for the first time, gives his perspective on:

  • The 2000 election, from the recounts to the transition to power
  • September 11, 2001, its aftermath, and the anthrax scare
  • The pressure-filled buildup to the war in Iraq and the President's thoughts as the war began
  • Life in the White House, from learning to adjust to the pace of the West Wing and his early briefings to his relationship with the press
  • The White House press corps, who they are, and how they report the news
  • The factors that led to his decision to leave Washington behind.

This is the story of the men and women of the White House press corps and the cornerstones of democracy: freedom of speech and the freedom of the press. Fleischer presents an in-depth, insider's view on the Washington political arena from a perspective few have seen.

Fleischer writes of his belief that the press has a bias in Washington. It's not a question of partisanship or press-driven ideology. Instead, it's a focus on conflict, particularly if it's a conflict they can attach to the President. It's the nature of the White House press corps, regardless of who's in power. The members of the White House press corps are masters at being devil's advocate, able to take with passion the opposite side of whatever issue the President supports. Fleischer's job was to calmly field their questions, no matter how pointed.

Taking Heat is an introspective exploration of the top political events in the first half of the Bush administration, as well as the candid observations of a professional who stood in the bright lights of the world stage.

"synopsis" may belong to another edition of this title.

About the Author:

Prior to resigning his post in 2003, Ari Fleischer served as the official liaison between the White House and members of the press, acting as the primary spokesperson for the President and delivering the daily White House briefing. Fleischer served as press secretary for Senator Pete Domenici from 1989 to 1994 and later spent five years as spokesman for the House Ways and Means Committee. Prior to joining the campaign of then Governor Bush in the fall of 1999, he served as communications director for Elizabeth Dole's presidential campaign. He is a graduate of Middlebury College and lives in Westchester County, New York, with his wife and daughter.

From Publishers Weekly:

A former White House press secretary, Fleischer became a lightning rod for accusations about the Bush administration's alleged spin, secrecy and hostility to the press, claims that may not be quieted by this sunnily defensive memoir. Fleischer acknowledges the White House's fanatical "message discipline," which still seems in force in his glowing portrait of Bush as a decisive leader, stalwart in advancing freedom and opposing "evil," forever comforting the families of terror victims and military casualties. And he cops to some stonewalling at press briefings, explaining, with some justice, that many questions concerned security and military operations he couldn't discuss. The many lengthy fencing matches he reprints sometimes evoke sympathy, as reporters badger him with provocative questions and he responds "with the same non-answer every time." Mainly, though, he blames his testy relations with the media on the media themselves and what he sees as their knee-jerk controversializing and pervasive liberal bias, and gleefully cites examples. Fleischer is less forthcoming on his own responsibility for relating false claims about Iraqi weapons of mass destruction; "we may all have been wrong," he shrugs, but contends it doesn't matter because Saddam might have gotten WMDs someday. Seldom have a press secretary's inaccuracies had such momentous consequences, so Fleischer's reluctance to examine how and why they occurred is disappointing indeed. Photos.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

"About this title" may belong to another edition of this title.

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