Sully's Blog

The profile on AP White House correspondent Ben Feller in the May/June issue of the “Penn Stater”    provides a terrific behind the scenes look at what life inside the gates is like for White House   correspondents.  Feller, the reporter who broke the story of Sonya Sotomayor’s selection as President  Obama’s Supreme Court nominee, is a 1992 graduate of Penn State.

Before working with Feller during my White House days, I dealt with him when he was AP’s national education reporter and I headed up communications at the Department of Education.  I always found him to be fair and enjoyable to work with.  This profile is must reading for anyone interested in how the press covers the President both inside the White House and on the road.

One update since the story was... +Continue Reading

 

As I read Mrs. Bush’s column (below, “Do Not Forget Burma”) in this morning’s Washington Post, I thought back on all of her First Lady communications firsts – milestones I wish I had room to include in yesterday’s Real Clear Politics column on the history of Presidential communications.

For example:

  • She became the first non-President to deliver the weekly radio address when President Bush turned the microphone over to her on Nov. 17, 2001 for remarks on the brutality towards women and children in Afghanistan.
  • In June 2007, she became the original First Lady blogger with her posts on iVillage.com from Africa.
  • In February 2008 she delivered another radio address, this time on heart health.
  • On May 5, 2008 Mrs. Bush became... +Continue Reading

 

The way-too-cute, pre-arranged Huffington Post moment in Tuesday’s Presidential press conference was actually a good idea, poorly executed. President Obama answering a question from an Iranian citizen is an inspired notion – but one that would have been more appropriate as on online chat at Whitehouse.gov than a planted question in a press conference.

But make no mistake: President Obama’s use of digital media platforms has not only been effective, it is redefining Presidential communications.

Looking back through history, however, a pattern becomes clear: The contributions made by the pioneer of each new medium are largely forgotten when his successor – with the benefit of further advancements in technology and broader adoption of the new medium – masters it.

... +Continue Reading

 

Sports + Media + Politics + Entertainment + Business

Veteran White House correspondents will tell you the toughest story to break is a President’s Supreme Court nominee. So a hearty high-five to Ben Feller of the Associated Press, who beat the competition by at least a couple of minutes with the story Tuesday that President Obama would name Sonia Sotomayor as his nominee for Justice David Souter’s seat.

The AP didn’t stay happy all day, however. After the word was out about the Sotomayor nomination – but before President Obama had made the official announcement – the White House made senior advisers available to reporters to discuss Sotomayor – but only on the condition the advisers’ names not be used. This is a fairly common tactic – a good way to shape... +Continue Reading

 

Sports + Media + Politics + Entertainment + Business

The “Week in Review” returns after a one-week absence (just too busy, which is a good thing) – special thanks to pal Jay Clark of Englewood, Colo. for noticing…topics this week range from Bruce Springsteen and the Steelers’ visit to the White House to Nancy Pelosi and Shaquille O’Neal.

THE BOSS: One of the highlights of the week was attending the Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band show at the Verizon Center in D.C. Monday night. Jo and I have seen the Boss many times over the years (first in November 1984 at the late, lamented Reunion Arena in Dallas on the “Born in the USA” tour) and this time we brought our two... +Continue Reading

 

Kevin Sullivan is the founder of Kevin Sullivan Communications, LLC. He was White House communications director under President George W. Bush, and before that was a communications executive with NBC Universal, NBC Sports and the Dallas Mavericks.

Michael Vick’s return to the NFL is inevitable. As long as there is demand for record-breaking, Pro Bowl QBs, there will be a team willing to bet that what he can contribute on the field will be worth the headaches and distractions off it.

Before Vick can put the pads back on, however, he must convince NFL commissioner Roger Goodell he is worthy of reinstatement. Vick’s fancy footwork will do him no good with the commish, who will come at him likeTroy Polamalu in the open field. After all, Vick looked Goodell in the eye... +Continue Reading

 

Sports + Media + Politics + Entertainment + Business

The annual White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner was held Saturday night and while I can’t say I missed it after attending the last three years, I did check out the replays on cspan.org and peruse the tsunami of tweets from the Washington Hilton.

President Obama delivered plenty of good one-liners (shrewdly relying, as President Bush did, on self-deprecation) and got big laughs when he opened with a bit about needing the teleprompter “to speak from the heart.” Later, when announcing his plans for the second 100 days, President Obama said, “I will learn to go off the prompter and Joe Biden will learn to stay on the prompter.”

MY 3 FAVORITE WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENTS DINNER MEMORIES:... +Continue Reading

 

President Obama’s Support Will Reassure IOC Voters

Over the weekend, the White House Counsel’s Office issued a waiver to allow Senior Presidential Adviser Valerie Jarrett to lead White House efforts in support of the Chicago 2016 Olympic bid. This is a good thing.

Chicago is competing with Madrid, Tokyo, and Rio de Janeiro for the right to host the 2016 Summer Olympics. The winner will be announced on October 2 in Copenhagen, where an appearance by President Obama could deliver the knockout punch (as Tony Blair’s did for London’s winning 2012 bid back in ’05). Whether the President appears live or on video, Chicago appears to be well positioned. It has mounted a strong bid that reportedly impressed the IOC evaluation team when it visited in April... +Continue Reading

 

Sports + Media + Politics + Entertainment + Business

Here in Washington, the week was dominated by the commemoration Wednesday of President Obama’s 100th day in office. White House communicators know to expect the unexpected at the most inopportune times and not even the 100th Day was safe from intrusion. Swine flu (which should have been called H1N1 from the beginning) with added fuel in the form of VP Biden’s ill-conceived comments on the Today show, and the ill-advised Air Force One/State of Liberty photo op authorized by the White House Military Office without the knowledge of the West Wing, were uninvited distractions and interference.

A few more observations, albeit without benefit of all the inside information I used to have:

 

I am in sensory overload mode – flipping back and forth between Mavericks-Spurs Game 4 on TNT and NFL

Draft coverage on ESPN…while also monitoring NFL Network coverage on NFL.com… all this after seeing Monsters vs. Aliens 3D for the second time earlier in the day.

NFL.com is making lots of video available from its NFL Network coverage, including player interviews in the “Ready for Primetime Presented by KFC” segment in which Deion Sanders chats up the newly minted NFL draftees who are on site in New York.

Here are my quick observations regarding the very favorable impression made by the top picks in their first interviews as NFL players and how effectively they drove a message or told a personal story:

Humility & Gratitude // Stafford Quick on His... +Continue Reading

 

Pages