Lanny Davis, former special counsel to President Bill Clinton, will teach a class on damage control next fall in the School of Media and Public Affairs.
Davis oversaw press relations during the campaign finance scandal, and was in charge of releasing potentially damaging information to the media. He appeared on numerous television programs defending the president and was involved in the initial stages of the Monica Lewinsky controversy.
“I am anxious to teach some of the lessons I learned in the White House regarding the impact political scandals have on culture,” Davis said.
Davis’ class, entitled, “Scandal, Damage Control and American Politics,” will be offered as a course in political communications in SMPA.
“Its a wonderful opportunity for SMPA students to interact with someone who has been recently involved in political communication in practice at the highest level,” said SMPA Director Jean Folkerts.
Davis served on the Democratic National Committee for 12 years and was a partner in the Washington law firm, Patton Boggs, before joining the White House in 1996.
He came to the District in 1970 to work as a National Youth Coordinator for Edward Muskie’s presidential campaign.
Davis said he will bring a variety of his experiences into the class.
“I will use anecdotes and case studies of specific stories that developed and were written about in the coverage of the 1997 and 1998 White House scandals as a means of gaining insight into the operation of scandal machines,” he said.
Davis said the White House is unaware of his new teaching position, but said he will not be violating any confidences he made while working for the president.
Folkerts said the presence of a former presidential official like Davis will have a positive reflection on SMPA.
“We have a lot of prominent people here,” she said. “The more prominent people here, the more outside exposures we will receive.”
Davis said he is enthusiastic about being a professor in SMPA.
“The combination of (media and public affairs) is what I did in the White House, with a third area being legal issues,” he said. “SMPA really encompasses a combination of subject matters that I like to talk about and derive lessons from my White House experience.”
Davis said he hopes the class will enlighten students about how journalism and government interact.
“There are lessons to be learned from stories written and approaches taken by journalists reporting the government scandal beat at the White House.”