Granite State Student Voice

New Hampshire Student Media Association

Fitzwater: Manipulation a fact of politics

by Megan Twitchell

Manipulation is a way for politicians to work the press in both positive and negative connotations, suggests  Marlin Fitzwater, former press secretary who served under presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush.

“You manipulate a little bit when you schedule a press conference for certain times.” Fitzwater says. “If it’s ten o’clock you’re giving them more time to deal with a story that has to go out at three o’clock, and if you know that if you schedule it for ten o’clock that they’re going to spend half the day sending opposition people to tell you why that’s a bad idea, you’ve manipulated them.”

Manipulation could be having the ability to say say right thing at the write time in order to work the press for your benefit, he said.


Former press secretary Marlin Fitzwater still has an extensive knowledge of media coverage of presidential politics. Photo by David Valdez


Fitzwater told a  of a time when a British prime minister Labor candidate met with President George H.W. Bush. Bush did not mention a point of contention about the nuclear free zone in Europe. After the meeting, the candidate claimed that he and Bush were in agreement over the zone. 

Knowing that was false information, Fitzwater corrected the press and told them, “The president did not mention the nuclear free zone, he did not comment on it, and he did not say he supported it.” Headlines came out the next day saying Fitzwater had denied the candidate’s claim. 

“This whole thing occurred because this guy had gone out into the driveway and tried to manipulate me,” said Fitzwater.

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