Photograph courtesy of the Clinton School of Public Service/Neemah Esmaeilpour.
It all begins in Bill Clinton's Little Rock. Who knew Geoff Morrell, the Pentagon's press secretary, got his start covering Clinton back in the early 1990s when he was just 23? That is just one of the revealing tales Morrell told the Clinton School for Public Service last week after attending the Pentagon's 9/11 ceremony.
If any of the reporters who cover the Pentagon want to blackmail Morrell, they need only to look in KATV's archives in Little Rock, where he said there is a vast library of his on-air gaffes. "I had zero on-air experience," he said, recalling his first breaking news story about a fatal factory shooting. "It was as if I was writing dialogue for a Batman comic," he says about reporting that one of the shooters was "released from the hospital on his reconnaissance."
What did he learn in Arkansas? "My Mike Wallace style didn't go over well at the state fairgrounds." Maybe, reports our Suzi Parker, it had something to do with his Brooks Brothers suit and tassel loafers.
But he learned barbecue is better with coleslaw and pontoon boats are perfect for cocktail parties in Hot Springs—Bubba's hometown.
In 14 months at the Pentagon job, he's been to more than 30 countries and traveled a quarter of a million miles. Morrell admits that at the start, he was overwhelmed with the job and its big briefing notebooks. "It took far more than a village to get me up to speed." And now that he has seen the government from an inside seat, where he takes lots of notes, Morrell promises that he's not planning to pen a tell-all, despite having a bird's-eye view of the war in Iraq and Afghanistan. In his own words, he has "no intention of pulling a Scott McClellan."