Washington — President-elect Ronald Reagan is having real difficulty finding the kind of press secretary he wants. Mr. Reagan is looking for a top-flight, veteran reporter or editor. "We'll take a woman if we can find what we're looking for," one Reagan associate told the Monitor.
But, up to now, the kind of media professional Reagan wants has proved elusive. "They're saying 'no,' " this same associate says.
Not too many years ago the press secretary spot was a highly desired position. The lure was instant fame, usually more money, and, on leaving, a big-paying public relations or publishing job.
But since Watergate, many media "pros" are no longer interested in a job that brings more grief than satisfaction.Who, they ask, wants any part of the daily meat grinder that the press puts the White House press secretary through?
Lyn Nofziger, himself a veteran newsman before getting into the political consulting business in California, was and is Reagan's No. 1 choice for his press secretary.
But Mr. Nofziger, after his stint as Reagan campaign press aide, said that nothing and nobody could persuade him to take the position in Washington.
It has been since this Nofziger rejection that Reagan has encountered his turndowns from other news persons.
Now it is reported that Nofziger has been persuaded to come to Washington as Reagan's "political adviser" and political director for the Republican National Committee.
If this report is true, Nofziger may well have worked out an arrangement where he can have the best of the job that Jody Powell has (of providing advice to the President on how to deal with the press) without having to endure the ordeal of dealing with the media in the daily briefings.
One Reagan aide puts it this way: "I think that Reagan has actually talked Nofziger into being, at least in part, his director of communications -- where he will have overall responsibility for shaping Reagan policy and strategy in dealing with the media, here and all around the United States. . . .
"Now," this aide adds, "what Reagan still needs is someone who will be willing to take the daily flak in dealing with the press."
James Brady, chief spokesman for the Reagan Transition, is willing to take the "grief job."
But some of Reagan's top advisers, notably Edwin Meese III, are said to be reluctant to take Brady on board simply because they feel he talks too freely to the press.
They think some of the leaks to the press that damaged Reagan during the campaign may have come from Brady.
But, if Nofziger is, indeed, back with Reagan in this high-level advisory role, Brady becomes a favorite to take the press secretary position. Nofziger likes Brady very much, trusts him, and would likely push to have him selected for the job.