Philip started the video clip as soon as Rose closed the door to the editing bay. Charlie Clark, the newly elected President’s head speech writer moved on screen. He was familiar to the small group in the sound-proof room; he had worked at their news station for three years before taking his current position in November of 2016. He was dressed nicely and spoke eloquently enough, but his hands betrayed his nerves. He kept running fingers through his hair, straightening his tie, and sipping water.
“…and, unlike the President, I can say whatever I want,” Charlie quipped onscreen to the laughter of the assembled journalists. “But seriously, the goal of a speech writer is not to tell the President how he feels – we are not in danger of running the world accidentally – it’s to put the President’s feelings, the feelings he was elected to have, into the perfect words.
“Say the President is fuming over a human rights violation. The President is human, he’s allowed to be angry. In fact, he’s so angry his commendable diction slips. It’s my job to craft a statement that encapsulates the President’s anger – is the verbal embodiment of his sense of injustice – so he can deliver that to the world.”
Philip stopped the video and spoke. “As the Secret Service led us away from this conference, one of them pressed a paper into my hand. It was a code Charlie and I used as war correspondents in Afghanistan. It says the phrases made when he touched his tie were false.”
Philip played those segments. “I can say whatever I want.” “We are not in danger.” “The President is human.”