WASHINGTON: Edelman vice chairman Michael K. Deaver, the former deputy chief of staff and media strategist for President Ronald Reagan, died on Aug. 18 of pancreatic cancer, age 69.
Widely credited as an innovator in shaping White House media coverage, Deaver first began working with the Reagan family in 1966 as part of the then-California governor’s staff and later served in the White House from 1980 to 1985.
Iconic images of Reagan that Deaver helped craft included Reagan’s visit to Normandy on the 40th anniversary of D-Day, with the president filmed speaking to veterans with the English Channel in the background.
Deaver first ran his own DC-based consulting firm after leaving the Reagan administration and then joined Edelman in 1992.
Senior Edelman executives said they were deeply saddened by the loss of a friend and mentor who was deeply committed to helping others, including volunteer work on behalf of alcoholic supports groups.
Regarding Deaver’s legacy as a leader in the developed of the modern, media-savvy US presidency, Edelman chairman Daniel Edelman noted that Deaver often said that though people may have credited him with “making” Reagan, “it was Reagan who made me.”
Edelman president and CEO Richard Edelman added that Deaver stressed that effective messaging was always based on fact.
“[Deaver] used to always say, ‘Richard, don’t make your clients be something they are not,’” Edelman said. “’Recognize who they are and what they stand for, and make that the basis of what you are doing.’”