Region 8 Author Recalls Days As Diarist For President Clinton

February 4, 2005 – Posted at 6:56 p.m. CST

JONESBORO – They say everybody has a story, but author Janis Kearney has one that's hard to match. She visited ASU last week to discuss her new book, which chronicles her life from the cotton fields of Arkansas to the White House. If you want to know how Kearney landed a job with the Clinton administration, you have to start in the cotton fields of Gould, Arkansas.

"We started at seven-years-old chopping cotton, picking cotton," said Kearney, admitting it was a hard life.

Kearney talked of her own college days at the University of Arkansas and how she went to work on Governor Clinton's presidential campaign.

"After the election, whether he won or lost, I was going to go back to the newspaper," said Kearney.

But he did win and Kearney got an officer she couldn't refuse from Clinton's press officer.

"She asked if I wanted to go to Washington, D.C.," laughed Kearney.

Kearney obliged and eventually President Clinton created a job he wanted her to fill, she became his diarist her job was to observe everything, everyday. They called her "The Official Fly on the White House Wall."

"This was the first time that any president had ever hired someone to be a diarist," said Kearny, "I would sit in on meetings, I would sit in on events I'd go to events, I was part of the Oval Office staff so I would hang around the Oval Office and just observe," said Kearney.

She wrote about everything. "Devastating" is how she described the day we all found out the truth about Monica Lewinsky.

"It was an emotional day not only for me but for a lot of people," said Kearney, "I didn't want to write about it but it I knew I had to put it in there," said Kearney, "I didn't include any personal feelings or emotions, just basically what happened."

In the end President Clinton was thankful for her work, because it made his job of writing his memoirs much easier. And now Kearney has a published memoir of her own. The story goes something like this.

"Dreams have to be backed up by hard work there's no sense in dreaming if you're not going to commit to hard work," said Kearney.

A life lesson from the cotton fields of Gould, Arkansas to 1600 Pennsylvanian Avenue. Mrs. Kearney lives in Chicago now and she's still writing. This time it's a book about President Clinton.

Her diary of his White House years will be put into to the Clinton Library.