Media consultant, Ari Fleischer Sports Communications
As former White House press secretary, Ari Fleischer was the primary spokesperson for President Bush. He served as spokesman during the historic presidential recount, September 11th, two wars and the anthrax attack. His best-selling book, "Taking Heat," details his years in the White House and reached No. 7 on The New York Times best-seller list.
Since leaving the White House, Fleischer has worked extensively in the world of sports. He has helped Major League Baseball deal with its controversies, as well as its opportunities, and he has worked for the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour and the Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association. He also helps advise several major corporations about their communications issues.
1. What are some of your most memorable moments from your time as the White House press secretary?
My best memories are the people I met and the meetings I attended. I twice met Pope John Paul II; I attended meetings with Russian President Vladimir Putin; I ate dinner at the Elyse Palace in Paris and I regularly spent much of my day in the Oval Office in the president's meetings. I was a firsthand witness to history. I also played catch next to Air Force One and had one of my briefings busted up by Arizona Diamondback pitchers Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling. They didn't like the fact that I'm a Yankees fan.
2. Looking back at these memories, would you ever want to do it again?
No. Once was enough. I spent 21 years in Washington, D.C., and loved it all, but I'm happy now to be in the private sector. Plus, I promised never to let my children grow up to become Redskins fans. So I now live in New York.
3. How has social media changed the way that communication professionals do their job?
It's changed everything. You no longer must rely exclusively on the press to get a story told – you can do it yourself. It also, though, has made reporters' jobs harder because everything moves so fast. There is less time for reflection and a greater emphasis on speed.
4. What was your transition like from the political world to the sports world?
Surprisingly, the two are not that different. Picture an athlete or a head coach surrounded by a dozen reporters asking tough questions. That's what my life was like every day and it's increasingly true for America's premier sports leagues and athletes. The scrutiny of the press is similar, and that's why I was able to move from the White House to the world of sports.
5. Are you a college sports fan?
Growing up in the Northeast, college sports wasn't what it is in the rest of the country. I attended a Division III school where the football "stadium" held 500 people – and we never filled it up. I do like watching now – when my kids let me. Of course, I follow Auburn.