[Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: William J. Clinton (1995, Book I)]
[March 3, 1995]
[Pages 301-302]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office www.gpo.gov]

Remarks at the National Public Radio Reception
March 3, 1995

    Thank you very much, Carl. I have all these notes, and then I have 
all these things I really want to say. [Laughter] What can I tell you--
I'm just sort of an NPR-kind of President. [Laughter]
    President Kennedy, many of you will remember, in 1962 hosted a 
dinner here of the Nobel Prize winners and said it was the most stunning 
array of talent ever to dine in the White House since Thomas Jefferson 
ate here alone. Well, tonight you did Thomas Jefferson one better. You 
joined him with Abraham Lincoln and Teddy Roosevelt and Harry Truman and 
Mark Twain and George Bernard Shaw and Click and Clack. [Laughter] And 
you all did very well.
    I want to tell you that Hillary and I are particularly grateful that 
you spared us from all the things you said that were not true and from 
the things you said that were. [Laughter]
    I thank you for giving America this wonderful history lesson of the 
White House. Those of you who may or may not have known, the things they 
told you were really true, all those wonderful little history lessons, 
everything except what Jane Curtain said. This is ``Friday Night Live.'' 
    I am honored to have all of you here at the White House as we 
celebrate NPR's 25th anniversary. You should know that NPR is alive and 
well in the real White House. We are members of both the NPR stations in 
Washington, DC, Hillary and I are. And when we lived at home in 
Arkansas, Hillary helped to bring the full range of NPR programming to 
our State. In fact, we woke up every morning to NPR at 6 a.m. We had one 
of these little radios that ticks on, and instead of an alarm clock, we 
had NPR. Some days it was so soothing, we didn't wake up. [Laughter] But 
still it was a lot better than talk radio. [Laughter] At least on those 
days we did wake up, we were able to eat breakfast. [Laughter]
    Let me say that there were a lot of interesting things said tonight. 
And I have to shorten my speech because of all those things you heard 
about, nature's call and how there was only one restroom in the White 
House for the longest--[laughter] Well, guess what? There's still no 
restroom on this floor. So just take a deep breath, I'm nearly done. 
    Public radio stations are partners in America, partners in things 
that are worth doing. They offer reading services to the blind, town 
meetings on violence, information on health care and voting. They team 
up with schools and libraries. They help our children learn. They bring 
more than issues and news, from live classical and jazz performances to 
radio drama and, of course, that car advice. And you get it all for 29 
cents a citizen a year, about the price of a day's newspaper.
    I know it's fashionable today to condemn everything public, but it 
seems to me that public radio has been a good deal for America. You 
know, I've done a lot of work here as President trying to build up the 
private sector, and we've got a lot more people working in it than we 
had 2 years ago, and I'm proud of that. But we're having this great 
debate in Washington about what the role of the Government should be as 
we come to the end of this century, and I'm glad we are. But I think 
it's important that we not forget that we have some great challenges 
here. How are we going to get into the next century with a country where 
everybody still has a chance to make it? And how are

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we going to deal with all this diversity in ways that bring us together 
instead of tear us apart? And how are we going to learn enough as 
citizens to make good decisions about those issues that don't fit very 
well into the screaming and the clamoring, cutting us up in little 
pieces and making our blood boil instead of our hearts open and our 
heads clear? NPR can play a role in all that, for 29 cents a person a 
year. It's a good deal.
    I'm glad that one of the many fights we're going to be waging this 
year for ordinary Americans is the fight to preserve National Public 
    Hillary and I are deeply honored to have every single one of you 
here tonight, honored by the generosity, especially, of our performers 
who came here, who have been so gifted and who have shared their gifts 
with us tonight. We thank you for doing it, and mostly we thank you for 
the purpose for which you have done it. We thank you for caring about 
your fellow Americans, who really need this great institution to be here 
25 years from now celebrating the 50th anniversary of National Public 
Radio. Let that be our dedication on this wonderful night.
    God bless you, and thank you.

Note: The President spoke at 9:05 p.m. in the East Room at the White 
House. In his remarks, he referred to Carl Kasell, newscaster, NPR News.