75q: Ron Nessen / Patti Smith
Ron Nessen's Monologue
NBC Page.....Neil Levy
President Gerald R. Ford: [ on tape ] Ladies and gentlemen... the Press Secretary to the President of the United States.
[ dissolve to Home Base, as Ron Nessen runs down the steps ]
Ladies and gentlemen -- Ron Nessen!
Ron Nessen: Uh, thank you very much. I guess, uh -- I guess a lot of you are wondering why the press
secretary to the President is acting as the host on a live, late night comedy show. Well, actually, this is not very different from my daily press briefing at the White House. A lot of people probably don’t understand exactly what it is that a press secretary does. It's my job to take complicated, high-level events... and take the jargon of politics and simplify it, and tell it to the press, who then pass it on to the public. And to do my job effectively, I’ve learned a few phrases that make this job easier. Phrases like: “What the President really said was...” Or: “What the President really meant was...” Or: “what the President really bumped into was...” [ the audience applauds ] Or: “What the President mispronounced was....” These are some phrases that I’ve, uh, used quite a lot on this job. I do have, I think, a good relationship with the President, and I usually know what he means even before he says it. It’s after he says it that I get in trouble. It is a rewarding job, as I’ve learned a lot about aspects of the government that I had never considered before, like, uh, how to remove a neck tie from a helicopter rotor blade -- while he’s still wearing it. And, uh, how to take stairs a flight at a time. Things like that.
NBC Page: Uh, excuse me, Mr. Ziegler?
Ron Nessen: No, no -- I’m Nessen.
NBC Page: Oh. I’m sorry. It’s the telephone for you, sir.
Ron Nessen: Oh?
NBC Page: It’s the White House.
Ron Nessen: Oh! He’s watching. [ he grabs the phone ] Hello...? Yes, Operator, I’ll accept the charges... [ a beat ] Yes, Mr. President. You’re watching the show.... and you heard the monologue... and you had it explained to you. [ pause ] Betty thinks it's funny. Good. [ a beat ] I'm fired. [ he laughs ] I thought you said I’m fired. [ pause ] You said I’m fired. Oookay. Uh, thank you, Mr. President.
[ Nessen hangs up the phone and hands it back to the NBC Page, who then exits the stage ]
Ron Nessen: Well... you see, the President said, "Ron, you’re fired." Well, I think I know how his mind works, and I think I, uh, I think I understand what he really thinks of this show, and, uh, the things they do and the fun they make of him, and Chevy Chase and the other people who appear on it. So, I think when the President said, "Ron, you’re fired," uh, what he really meant was, "Ron, you’re fired." Good night, Mr. President. We’ll be right back after this message.