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Interpreter Is No Fitzwater Fan

December 10, 1987

WASHINGTON (AP) _ One seasoned observer of summit week proceedings, William Krimer, a gruff veteran interpreter at U.S.-Soviet summits since 1967, hasn’t got a lot good to say about White House spokesman Marlin Fitzwater.

The retired State Department interpreter, who handled this week’s briefings by Fitzwater and Soviet spokesman Gennady Gerasimov, said, ″I think Gerasimov has an excellent sense of humor.″

″Fitzwater seems to have the impression he’s conducting a White House briefing. He’s not. ... And he’s totally insensitive to the needs of the interpreters.″

Krimer said he passed a message to Fitzwater through the White House press office and also taped a note to the press center podium, asking him to slow down and talk in complete sentences.

″I don’t know if he ever saw them,″ said Krimer. Asked if Fitzwater had improved over the course of the summit, he replied with a crusty ″no.″

Krimer said that in the past ″I generally was the principal interpreter at the summits. Now I’m on the sidelines. It’s much more enjoyable.″

He worked in a glass booth tucked against a side wall of the J. W. Marriott’s Grand Ballroom, the press center for thousands of reporters.

Krimer said he turned down a chance to interpret at the Reykjavik summit and only did this one for the money.

Not the history?

″History is going to be written by future generations,″ he scoffed. ″Newsmen don’t write history.″


The hotel staff was bracing Thursday for another all-nighter, this one to dismantle the international press center set up in the dead of night earlier in the week.

Working journalists were given a 2 a.m. curfew. That’s when their enormous lair was to be stripped of computers, telephones, wiring, tables, chairs, stage, speakers, lights and the twin flags that had served all week as a dramatic backdrop.

″At 9 a.m. we have a board of directors meeting in this section,″ said hotel marketing director Kurt Krause, pointing to the left rear. ″And boards of directors don’t like to be delayed.″

The press had been treated royally - with free souvenir T-shirts, special carry-out food arrangements, 24-hour room service - throughout the summit. But, as a Marriott spokesman pointed out, almost apologetically, ″life goes on.″

Hints thatthe honeymoon was ending came as early as Wednesday, when the Marriott’s ″summit diary″ held the press largely responsible for the hotel’s daily six-ton garbage haul during summit week.

Journalists, said the diary, ″are internationally known for being messy.″


Not only messy, but boisterous.

Television crews scuffling for good angles at Gorbachev and Vice President Bush at the Soviet Embassy ended up breaking some crystal glassware with their microphone booms.

Embassy press attache Boris Malakov described the scene to reporters waiting to get in to the embassy for a meeting between Raisa Gorbachev and a group of Armenian-Americans.

″The American press,″ said Malakov, ″is just crazy.″

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