Presidential aides who've joined the media -- Pierre Salinger, John McLaughlin, Eleanor Mondale, and Mary Matalin all moved to TV

By Kristen Baldwin
July 28, 1995 at 04:00 AM EDT

The recent allegation that Diane Sawyer was the fabled Watergate informant Deep Throat made some Beltway insiders gag. Surely Sawyer, then a Nixon communications aide, wouldn’t have broken ranks to help the press. Then again, many a presidential aide has broken ranks to join the media, including Bill Moyers (Johnson press secretary), Roger Ailes (Reagan and Bush political consultant), John Sununu (Bush chief of staff), and Dee Dee Myers (Clinton press secretary). Some others who went from spin control to remote control:

Pierre Salinger
Press secretary for Kennedy and Johnson; during a press conference, reportedly drank a glass of milk to reassure the public that cows had not been contaminated by radiation.
On TV: In 1967, guested on Batman as ”Lucky Pierre,” a shady lawyer defending the Joker and Catwoman; ABC News correspondent, 1978-93. ”I would not go back to journalism for 10 years after I left the White House. I thought it would be a mistake.”

John McLaughlin
Speechwriter for Nixon and Ford, 1971-74; called Nixon ”the greatest moral leader of the last third of this century.”
On TV: Host of the nationally syndicated One on One and The McLaughlin Group. Says former politicos make sharp reporters because they’re ”able to expose the weakness of public-policy positions.”

Eleanor Mondale
Campaigned for Vice President/Dad Walter in 1984; presidential campaign manager in 1988 for Morris the Cat.
On TV: Reporter for L.A.’s KABC in 1985; anchor of E!’s celebrity news show Q&E! since 1994. ”People may call [what I do] fluff, but I think there’s a wonderful place for it. I enjoy being aware of what’s going on in the world, but I don’t want to work there.”

Mary Matalin
1992 Bush campaign deputy manager; wrote that notorious press release titled ”Sniveling, Hypocritical Democrats.”
On TV: Since 1993, cohost, now with Myers, of CNBC’s Equal Time. ”I don’t consider myself a media person. I consider the media I’m involved with an extension of my political career.”

And what about that Diane Sawyer-as-Deep Throat theory? Matalin debunks it: ”I don’t mean to be sexist, but most women are not disloyal. John Sununu is the biggest bonehead ever created in politics, and I remained loyal to him. Now that I’m out of that arena, I can say this.”

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