Schaefer, aide fault Sun on mix-up story

July 25, 1992|By Marina Sarris | Marina Sarris,Annapolis Bureau

ANNAPOLIS -- Gov. William Donald Schaefer was unhappy yesterday, and his press secretary was unhappier.

First, a subdued governor gathered reporters to announce he had formed a commission to examine serious problems with the state's emergency medical services, but he refused to say what those problems are.

Then he criticized The Sun for a story about a public relations mix-up involving the State House and the White House, although he confirmed the mix-up occurred.

In doing so, Mr. Schaefer contradicted his press secretary, Frank Traynor, who was even more critical of The Sun.

Mr. Schaefer confirmed that he had expected to be called out of a news conference July 1 to take a telephone call from President Bush, as reported yesterday.

According to the script, Mr. Bush was supposed to tell the governor that Maryland had received federal permission to reform its welfare program. Mr. Schaefer then was supposed to return to his press conference and make a dramatic announcement about the call. But the president never called because of a scheduling conflict.

Some Bush administration officials were disappointed at a missed opportunity for Mr. Bush to get publicity for his welfare-reform efforts. Ditto for the governor, who said he saw it as a way to share the spotlight with Mr. Bush, whom he admires.

Earlier this week, however, Mr. Traynor denied that such a call ever was planned.

A Sun reporter asked him yesterday to explain the difference between his account of events and his boss' version. He was asked if it was possible that he didn't know about the plan when he denied that the president was supposed to have called Mr. Schaefer. "I only have one comment for your paper," Mr. Traynor replied. "It's a carefully crafted comment. Are you writing a book. Question mark. If so, kiss my a and make it a love story. Period."

He declined to elaborate.

Another reporter asked if the remarks attributed to him in the Sun story were accurate. "I don't know," Mr. Traynor replied. "I didn't find it accurate when I read it."

Mr. Schaefer said The Sun was incorrect in suggesting a link between his disappointment over the failed attempt to attract publicity for welfare reform and his issuance of a gag order the next day.

Mr. Schaefer said that delays in releasing even the most basic facts from state agencies has happened because employees have misunderstood the new policy, which he now says is neither permanent nor as far-reaching as originally reported.

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