Corner Office: Q&A with Ari Fleischer
Ari Fleischer was the White House Press Secretary from 2001 to 2003. Unflappable, witty and tough, he delivered the Administration’s daily press briefings and served as President Bush’s primary spokesperson during some of the most momentous events of our era, including the historic election recount, September 11th and the beginning of two wars. His memoir Taking Heat: The President, the Press, and My Years in the White House was a New York Times bestseller, and he now heads his own firm, Ari Fleischer Communications.
He’s also a real BlackBerry® fan. Find out the difference a BlackBerry device makes to the ultimate political insider in this Q&A with BlackBerry Connection.
BlackBerry Connection: How important was your BlackBerry device to your work in the White House?
Ari Fleischer: My BlackBerry [device] was essential to my job. There were countless occasions, but one that sticks out was when I was in a summit meeting with President Bush and the Israeli Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon. During the meeting I was alerted by my BlackBerry [device] that a suicide bomber had struck in Israel. The press were waiting for us outside, and they were going to ask for a reaction—and it fell on me to prepare the President and the Prime Minister. Without my BlackBerry [device] we wouldn’t have known, and we wouldn’t have been ready. It just shows how the BlackBerry [device] can help keep you on top of the absolute latest developments.
BC: What’s your favorite BlackBerry story?
AF: In Washington, sometimes the only way to get someone’s attention is to [email them via your BlackBerry device] even if you're sitting in the same van in the Presidential motorcade.
I’d just been issued my BlackBerry [device] and I was in the motorcade with Karl Rove. Karl’s one of the world’s great multitaskers: he was in the front seat, talking, and on his BlackBerry [device], and on his cell phone, doing four things at once, and he had his window rolled all the way down. And in the back where I was, it was getting way too windy and noisy—but we couldn’t get Karl’s attention.
So I sent him an e-mail message from two feet away, saying “Will you please roll up your window?” And literally five seconds later—he’s still on the phone, still emailing people—the window was going up. And I thought, this BlackBerry thing really works…
BC: Are you finding it just as essential now that you’re in the private sector?
AF: It’s just as important: it makes my life easier and helps me stay on top of my business, and it also keeps my mind at ease that I’m not missing anything. Particularly for a small company like mine, the BlackBerry [device] is a wonderful piece of infrastructure—and really helpful when I travel.
Also, I’ve been in board meetings where a spirited debate is going on, and sometimes I’ll send emails back and forth to try and influence it, right as it’s happening…. You could call it the high-tech version of passing notes back and forth in class.
BC: Do you have a favorite BlackBerry tip you’d like to share?
AF: Using the BlackBerry [device] together with email alerts is a killer combination. I’m signed up to news alerts from CBS, ABC, the Washington Post and more. I give a lot of speeches, and I’m asked to speak extemporaneously on breaking news, and my BlackBerry [device] keeps me absolutely up to date. And I get the Yankees scores on it every night.
So I’d say sign up for the right type of automatic emails to get that extra kick—whether it’s your stock portfolio, or news alerts or anything that’s tailored to your field. You can have instant information right here on your hip, which’ll save you all kinds of time and trouble.
But stay away from BrickBreaker. That’s just frustrating…