In yesterday's story about the three new reporters President Reagan called on at Tuesday night's press conference, some statements by Bob Rowley of the Chicago Tribune were attributed incorrectly to Ben Taylor of the Boston Globe.
A brief moment in the spotlight: At Tuesday night's nationally televised press conference, President Reagan singled out three "newcomers to the press corps" for some of the early questions of the evening.
"How can I turn that down?" asked Candy Crowley of Associated Press Radio, the first "newcomer" Reagan called on. She launched into a series of questions on sending troops to Central America, ending with, "Sir, do you feel the people support your policies in Central America?"
As it turns out, the three reporters weren't such newcomers. Crowley has covered the White House since January, as has Ben Taylor of the Boston Globe. Bob Rowley has been the Chicago Tribune's White House correspondent since May.
But was it exciting?
"You get calls from people you haven't heard from in years," said Taylor. "It's fun and exciting, but you've got to remember that's not what it's all about."
The reporters and two other relative newcomers met with the president in a brief, closed session at the White House July 14. Crowley described the meeting as lasting "five or six minutes . . . real casual, informal conversation with him." She added that Reagan told them, " 'Gee, since you're all new here, I guess I should call on you at the next news conference.' Deputy Press Secretary Larry Speakes replied, 'Well, actually, Mr. President, they're not all that new.' I said something to the effect of, 'That's okay, you can still call on us.' "
The day before the press conference, Taylor said he was on the phone with an administration official in the course of his regular reporting.
" 'Are you going to show up tomorrow?' " Taylor said the official asked. And then, a strong hint: " 'You'd better.' "
At Tuesday's press conference, Taylor and Rowley continued the line of questioning about U.S. involvement in Central America.
You always have a million things to ask him," said Crowley. "I had sort of thought that I'd like to ask him a question on women and minorities, which he has recently discovered, but I would have been changing midstream from Central America, and indeed there were a lot of questions I wanted to ask him about that."
"They're very skillful media manipulators,"said Taylor, referring to the White House press office. Reagan "gave his casual preamble, giving the impression that we're all one big happy family. It's their job to do that and it's our job not to play ball with it."
But Bob Rowley said: "I think that what he did was a classy move."
The five reporters who met with the president before the press conference were chosen "more or less randomly" from a list of recent assignments to the White House beat, said Mark Weinberg of the press office.
Did the reporters feel that Reagan tried to catch them off guard?
"By the time you get to that beat, I don't think you'd be there if you weren't prepared," Taylor concluded.