Remarks at the Dedication of the New ABC Building for the Washington Bureau

November 12, 1981

The President. Thank you all very much. It is a pleasure for me to be here, and am I impressed now when I stop to think that I used to go walking on the beach with Elton Rule in California. [Laughter]

I knew that I wanted to bring something to you today, so I have a news flash. Chase Manhattan has lowered the prime rate to 16\1/2\ -- [laughter] -- the 3-month bill is down to 10 - 5 - 0, having opened at 11, and the long bond has improved two points on par in the first hour of the market. [Laughter] Oh, yes, and I think you should know that the space shuttle got off. [Laughter] That's the only thing my administration favors in going up. [Laughter]

Seriously, to see this, the largest building, as I understand, devoted totally to electronic news, is really something -- and to know that in the late fifties, your entire staff here in Washington consisted of four TV commentators and one for radio. But I'd just like to take you back a little further, being the only one here, I think, that's old enough to do it. But, yes, in those WHO days in Des Moines, Iowa, 50,000 watts, another network in the middle thirties, even the four and the one that were here in the fifties sounds pretty extravagant.

Now, I can't claim -- maybe it isn't true if we look far enough -- that we were the first to do radio news. But we had a kind of free soul that owned our company, B. J. Palmer. The Fair Trade Practices Act said that radio could not do news in those days because it was unfair to the printed media. And our boss came to a day in which he said we were going to do it. UPI was the only one that would sell us a news service. We hired a newspaper reporter who later became H. R. Gross, the conscience of the United States Congress in his many years as a Congressman here. But he did the news, and I did the sports, and the only other news source we had, legally -- [laughter] -- was a Western Union ticker that in the appropriate season would bring in whatever scores there were. And Charlie Gross and I -- that was it.

There was an illegal source. I had a 10:30 at night sports summary, and I found that it went much easier if I ducked out of the studio a little before 10 and picked up the early morning edition of the Des Moines Register and Tribune -- [laughter] -- and from which I would ad lib a very entertaining sports summary.

But we've come a long way in all of this, and I am very proud and happy to be here. I understand there's going to be an unveiling of the plaque and all. And I'm not going to go into any great dissertation about freedom of the press, and you know how I feel about regulations. Let me just say that in our efforts to reduce them, cut them down and get rid of the unnecessary ones, your industry is included. We'd like to go to work on that, too, and free you up as citizens.

Mr. Donaldson. Mr. President, what would a newsroom be -- [laughter] -- try to make a little news from you. Let me ask you, sir, can David Stockman continue to be effective after saying such damaging things about your economic program?

The President. Sam [Sam Donaldson], when I leave here today I'm going back to have a meeting with Dave Stockman. That's all I can tell you.

Mr. Donaldson. Well, we were told by Republican Senators that he got a round of applause during a Cabinet Room meeting with you this morning.

The President. Well, he made a statement in there that did, yes. But I'm not going to say anything more until he and I meet this afternoon.

Mr. Donaldson. One final question as we say in -- [laughter] -- as H. R. Gross would have said, ``One final question, please.'' You don't agree that your plan is a trickle-down, aid-the-rich program?

The President. No. As a matter of fact, if anyone wants to look closely, our original tax plan did not contain the reduction of the 70-percent bracket. That was suggested by the Democrats.

Thank you. [Laughter]

Mr. Arledge. I was only joking when I said the first question would be by Sam Donaldson. [Laughter]

Mr. Donaldson. So, fire me.

Mr. Arledge. You know, that's not a bad idea. [Laughter]

Note: The President spoke at 12:09 p.m. at the ABC News Washington Bureau. Elton Rule is president and chief operating officer of ABC, Inc., Roone Arledge is president of ABC News, and Sam Donaldson is a White House correspondent for ABC.