Press spokesmen Larry Speakes and David Gergen have had their differences, but lately they've tried to make their dual arrangement work. On a recent morning, while a reporter's tape recorder purred, the two seemed quite friendly. Speakes was in his office after his early briefing when Gergen, who'd gone skiing in upstate New York over the weekend, stuck his head in the door.
"Anything happen here?" he asked, looking for questions that might be asked at his noon briefing.
"Haig versus Weinberger," Speakes said, referring to the sometimes-at-odds secretaries of state and defense. "And on the feud, what did the president review with Weinberger yesterday? Have you looked at Weinberger on the television? I looked at it, it's fine. He talks everything down, says there's no proposal to sell arms, but there is a constant review . . . Another key question is, the F16s and the Hawk missile, there's no request from Jordan . . ."
". . . then why are we doing it?" Gergen finished.
"Yeah," picked up Speakes, "why are we talking about it? Who interjected that? But that's about it. I think you need to know, to find out at noon, did the president talk to . . ."
". . . Cap," Gergen said.
". . . Cap about it," Speakes finished. "Haig says they reviewed everything before they both left on their trips, Weinberger says we get along fine."
"Okay, that's good," said Gergen. "Did you settle on a briefing time?"
"Ah, 1:30," said Speakes.
"They wanted to go at 1:30?" Gergen said. "They figured I'd start about two o'clock?"
Then the discussion turned to a letter the president had written to Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin, calming fears that U.S. arms might go to Jordan. Reporters had wanted more on it that morning.
"I'll let you guys get everything from, ah, on this letter," Gergen said.
"Okay. You don't see anything else brewing, do you?"
"Ahhh, speaking of that," Speakes said, "CBS had that, too."
"CBS had a bad report on this morning," Gergen said. "As I understand it, from the State Department, I heard about it."
"But they know all about the letter, and the draft of it, and all that."
"Have you had a chance to look at Sunday's Post story?" Speakes asked. "Long take-out on the . . .
". . . Central," Gergen said.
". . . Caribbean policy," Speakes finished.
"Oh, I always figured . . . ."
"Lot in it," Speakes said. "Quite a big leak. What you call a hemorrhage for sure."
"That's right," Gergen said.
"All that CIA news."
"Okay," Gergen said. "Talk to you later."