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McClellan Tells ABC & CBS: 'Intrigued' by Obama, May Vote for Him --5/30/2008


1. McClellan Tells ABC & CBS: 'Intrigued' by Obama, May Vote for Him
In the midst of media hype for "insider" Scott McClellan's attacks on the Bush White House, ABC's Martha Raddatz and CBS's Katie Couric prompted a revelation from McClellan that undermines the presumption he's any kind of partisan Republican or conservative ideologue. They asked a question NBC's Meredith Vieira did not in two lengthy live segments on Thursday's Today show: Will he vote for John McCain? He told both Raddatz and Courtic that he's "intrigued by Senator Obama's message," also confirming to Couric that he's no conservative as he praised John McCain as "someone who has certainly governed from the center, and that's where I come from." So why not vote for him over the left-wing Obama? But Couric wondered: "There's some feeling this will tarnish the candidacy of John McCain. Do you support John McCain?" McClellan conceded: "I haven't made a decision...."

2. McClellan's Publisher Demanded 'Candor,' Not Defense of Bush
Peter Osnos, the liberal founder of PublicAffairs books who "worked very closely" with Scott McClellan on his anti-Bush screed which has enraptured the news media, denied, the Washington Post reported Friday, that McClellan had "undergone heavy-handed editing," but in maintaining that he had not steered McClellan to write anything he didn't believe, Osnos exposed a political agenda as he conceded he had no interest in a pro-George W. Bush book. Equating criticism of the Bush administration with "integrity and candor," Osnos, the former Washington Post reporter and editor who in March denounced Rush Limbaugh as "bombastic, aggressive, and mean," told the Post: "We are journalists, independent-minded publishers. We weren't interested in a book that was just a defense of the Bush administration. It had to pass our test of independence, integrity and candor."

3. Vieira Presses McClellan to Charge White House Was 'Lying'
NBC's Today show gave Scott McClellan two segments, on Thursday morning, to slam the Bush administration and promote his book What Happened and while Meredith Vieira repeated his charge that the administration was "shading the truth" in the run up to the Iraq war, that wasn't enough for the Today co-host as she pressed McClellan to go further and accuse the White House of "lying" America into the Iraq war.

4. CNN's Costello: 'Tell-All' Bush Books Show 'Suppressed Dissent'
CNN correspondent Carol Costello, covering the reaction to McClellan's new "tell-all" book about the Bush administration on Thursday's American Morning, added some liberal-leaning psychoanalysis to the obligatory quotes from current and former administration officials and a clip from Rush Limbaugh. "Unflattering kiss and tells about the Bush administration are a dime a dozen. Spilling the beans: former Treasury secretary Paul O'Neil, former Iraq Envoy Paul Bremer, and former senior economic adviser Larry Lindsay. From a psychological standpoint, that's not surprising. Analysts say the Bush administration demanded loyalty and suppressed dissent -- a perfect recipe for rebellion." Costello included a clip of Dr. Gail Saltz, a psychiatrist, who noted that McClellan's book "appears to be an act of revenge" done "in a potentially very self-destructive way." Because of this, she concluded that "you have to wonder about the guilt that they feel," because "they're asking for punishment, in a sense."

5. Yellin: Press 'Under Enormous Pressure' From Execs Before Iraq
CNN congressional correspondent Jessica Yellin, during a segment on Wednesday's Anderson Cooper 360, accused her former bosses -- presumably those at MSNBC, where she worked prior to joining ABC in July 2003 -- of pressuring her to run positive stories about the Bush administration before the invasion of Iraq: "When the lead-up to the war began, the press corps was under enormous pressure from corporate executives, frankly, to make sure that this was a war that was presented in a way that was consistent with the patriotic fever in the nation...and my own experience at the White House was that, the higher the president's approval ratings...the more pressure I had from news executives to put on positive stories about the President."

6. ABC's Cuomo Gushes Over 'Great,' Honest Liberal Author Clarke
Good Morning America news anchor Chris Cuomo touted Bush-bashing author and former anti-terrorism official Richard Clarke on Thursday's Good Morning America. Cuomo lauded Clarke's first book, Against All Enemies, as "great." (In that book, Clarke slammed the White House for focusing too heavily on Iraq.) The GMA host also attempted to pass off the ex-government official's liberal comments as simple, non-partisan advice from an expert. During the course of the segment, Clarke lamented the lack of action on global warming, Bush's failure to capture Osama bin Laden and the war in Iraq. A telling indicator of Cuomo's agreement with some of Clarke's liberal points was the way in which the anchor mangled the title of Clarke's new book, "Your Government Failed You." The ABC journalist misstated, "But this is 'Your Government Lied to You' -- failed you, rather."


McClellan Tells ABC & CBS: 'Intrigued'
by Obama, May Vote for Him

In the midst of media hype for "insider" Scott McClellan's attacks on the Bush White House, ABC's Martha Raddatz and CBS's Katie Couric prompted a revelation from McClellan that undermines the presumption he's any kind of partisan Republican or conservative ideologue. They asked a question NBC's Meredith Vieira did not in two lengthy live segments on Thursday's Today show (see #3 below): Will he vote for John McCain? He told both Raddatz and Courtic that he's "intrigued by Senator Obama's message," also confirming to Couric that he's no conservative as he praised John McCain as "someone who has certainly governed from the center, and that's where I come from." So why not vote for him over the left-wing Obama? But Couric wondered: "There's some feeling this will tarnish the candidacy of John McCain. Do you support John McCain?" McClellan conceded: "I haven't made a decision...."

On ABC's World News, Raddatz touted the ambivalence as a "change" though McClellan's self-identification as a centrist may suggest otherwise: "To show how truly big a change McClellan's made, he's even considering voting for a Democrat." After he told her "I'm intrigued by Senator Obama's message," she followed up: "So you haven't made up your mind about a candidate, which means you haven't decided whether you'll vote Democratic or Republican?" McClellan demurred: "I haven't made any decision."

Couric's most loaded question: "Do you feel any sense of guilt that the Iraq war, which you helped sell to the American people, has resulted in the loss of life for thousands of American soldiers?"

McClellan's admission makes more understandable his choice of a publisher. The Thursday CyberAlert posting, "McClellan's Publisher a Liberal: Advances Soros & Slams Limbaugh," detailed how McClellan went with a liberal publisher with ties to Bush-haters: www.mediaresearch.org

[This item, by the MRC's Brent Baker, was posted Thursday night on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

For the online version of Couric's interview highlighted McClellan's voting orientation, "McClellan: I'm 'Intrigued' By Obama; Ex-WH Press Secretary Tells CBS News Obama's Message Is Like Bush's in 2000," go to: www.cbsnews.com

ABCNews.com posted the online version of the Raddatz session with McClellan under a headline that does not touch on his political views, "McClellan: I Became What I Wanted to Change; ABC's Martha Raddatz Interviews Former White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan." See: abcnews.go.com

The relevant portions of the interviews aired Thursday night, May 29:

# From ABC's World News:

MARTHA RADDATZ: To show how truly big a change McClellan's made, he's even considering voting for a Democrat.
SCOTT McCLELLAN: I'm intrigued by Senator Obama's message.
RADDATZ TO McCLELLAN: So you haven't made up your mind about a candidate, which means you haven't decided whether you'll vote Democratic or Republican?
McCLELLAN: I haven't made any decision.


# From the CBS Evening News:

COURIC: There's some feeling this will tarnish the candidacy of John McCain. Do you support John McCain?
McCLELLAN: I haven't made a decision. I have a lot of admiration and respect for Senator McCain. He is someone who has certainly governed from the center, and that's where I come from. I also am intrigued by Senator Obama's message. It's a message that is very similar to the one that Governor Bush ran on in 2000.

McClellan's Publisher Demanded 'Candor,'
Not Defense of Bush

Peter Osnos, the liberal founder of PublicAffairs books who "worked very closely" with Scott McClellan on his anti-Bush screed which has enraptured the news media, denied, the Washington Post reported Friday, that McClellan had "undergone heavy-handed editing," but in maintaining that he had not steered McClellan to write anything he didn't believe, Osnos exposed a political agenda as he conceded he had no interest in a pro-George W. Bush book. Equating criticism of the Bush administration with "integrity and candor," Osnos, the former Washington Post reporter and editor who in March denounced Rush Limbaugh as "bombastic, aggressive, and mean," told the Post:
"We are journalists, independent-minded publishers. We weren't interested in a book that was just a defense of the Bush administration. It had to pass our test of independence, integrity and candor."

[This item, by the MRC's Brent Baker, was posted late Thursday night on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

An excerpt from the May 30 front page Washington Post article, "McClellan Says Book's Tone Evolved: Aide-Turned-Critic Tells of Growing Disillusionment with Bush Administration," by reporters Dan Eggen and Linton Weeks:

....McClellan and Peter Osnos, the founder of PublicAffairs, the small company that published "What Happened," rebutted suggestions from some Bush defenders, including former press secretary Ari Fleischer, that McClellan may have had a ghostwriter or undergone heavy-handed editing. Fleischer and others have repeatedly said that the book does not "sound like" McClellan, who is known as genial and soft-spoken.

McClellan said that he started focusing on writing the book about a year ago and that the work was especially intense over the past several months as the publishing date approached.

Osnos said McClellan just needed editorial guidance to tell the story he wanted to tell all along.

"First we had to ascertain what kind of book he wanted to write," said Osnos, a former Washington Post reporter and editor. "We are journalists, independent-minded publishers. We weren't interested in a book that was just a defense of the Bush administration. It had to pass our test of independence, integrity and candor."...

Osnos called the book "a really sophisticated, thoughtful, reasoned and, in many ways, pained portrait of a president" and said, "The Bush he came to serve went off the rails."

He also dismissed suggestions that McClellan is merely hoping to cash in. Unlike some larger publishing houses, he said, PublicAffairs almost never pays more than a five-figure advance. "No one has ever done a book for PublicAffairs for the money," he said....

END of Excerpt

For the Washington Post story in full: www.washingtonpost.com

The May 29 CyberAlert item, "McClellan's Publisher a Liberal: Advances Soros & Slams Limbaugh," recounted:

Peter Osnos, who wrote Wednesday that he "worked very closely" with Scott McClellan on McClellan's new book published by PublicAffairs which Osnos founded, is a liberal whose publishing house is affiliated with the far-left The Nation magazine and the publisher of The Prosecution of George W. Bush for Murder. PublicAffairs has a roster of authors who are nearly all liberals and/or liberal-leaning mainstream media figures, including six books by far-left bank-roller George Soros. On Wednesday's CBS Evening News, Ari Fleischer related that "Scott told me that his editor did 'tweak,' in Scott's word, a lot of the writing, especially in the last few months." In an "Eat the Press" blog entry Wednesday, Rachel Sklar asked Osnos: "Did you work directly on the book with McClellan? (Who was his editor?)" Osnos replied: "The editor was Lisa Kaufman and yes, I worked very closely with them."

A reporter and editor at the Washington Post during the 1970s and 1980s before going into book publishing, Osnos pens a weekly column for the left of center The Century Foundation. In a March column he denounced Rush Limbaugh as "bombastic, aggressive, and mean," bemoaning how the late William F. Buckley Jr. left behind "a right-wing culture that tends to be as coarse and leaden as his demeanor could be buoyant," charging Buckley provided "unfortunate cover to others who followed with a spirit that was distinctly and consistently malevolent."

In contrast, he hailed the late left-wing columnist Molly Ivins and wished she had more impact: "In the contest for power in America, Molly Ivins had a good perch in her column, nearly perfect pitch, and, alas, too little influence." Ruminating this week about the Kennedy family's legacy in the wake of Senator Ted Kennedy's cancer diagnosis, Osnos asserted that "we are a distinctly better country for the message" which "Ted conveyed about our priorities as a people."...

PublicAffairs is part of the Perseus Books Group, which also owns Nation Books, "a project of The Nation Institute" which publishes the magazine of the same name, and Vanguard Press, whose home page now features The Prosecution of George W. Bush for Murder, a new book by Vincent Bugliosi that "presents a tight, meticulously researched legal case that puts George W. Bush on trial in an American courtroom for the murder of nearly 4,000 American soldiers fighting the war in Iraq."...

The entirety of the previous CyberAlert article: www.mediaresearch.org

Vieira Presses McClellan to Charge White
House Was 'Lying'

NBC's Today show gave Scott McClellan two segments, on Thursday morning, to slam the Bush administration and promote his book What Happened and while Meredith Vieira repeated his charge that the administration was "shading the truth" in the run up to the Iraq war, that wasn't enough for the Today co-host as she pressed McClellan to go further and accuse the White House of "lying" America into the Iraq war:

MEREDITH VIEIRA: Let's go back in time now.
SCOTT MCCLELLAN: Sure.
VIEIRA: Because in the book you say the Bush administration made a decision to turn away from candor and honesty and you point to the war in Iraq as the prime example. These are your words now, "Bush and his advisers knew that the American people would not support a war launched primarily for the ambitious purpose of transforming the Middle East. Rather than open this Pandora's box, the administration chose a different path, not employing out and out deception, but shading the truth." And you say, "In an effort to convince the world that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction, the administration used innuendo and implication and intentional ignoring of intelligence to the contrary." Innuendo, implication, shading the truth. You seem to stop just short of saying that President Bush and his administration flat out lied.
MCCLELLAN: Well actually, I say in the book, I say that this was not a deliberate or conscious effort to do so. What happened was that we got caught up in the excesses of the permanent campaign culture in Washington, D.C.
VIEIRA: What does that mean when you say that?
MCCLELLAN: Well what it means is that, that everything is centered on trying to shape and manipulate the narrative to one's advantage. Each party, or each side is trying to do that. That's what Washington has become today. They're trying to manipulate the narrative to their advantage. And that's the way the game is played. It's, it's a battle over power and influence. And how can we gain, or how can we win those battles, how can we win over public opinion instead of, you know what it should be more on, which is bipartisan, deliberation and compromise. That's become a distant second. And so-
VIEIRA: But however you word it, isn't it lying, Scott? Isn't that what they were doing?

[This item, by the MRC's Geoffrey Dickens, was posted Thursday afternoon on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

The following is a complete transcript of the first interview segment with McClellan as it occurred on the May 29 Today show:

MEREDITH VIEIRA: Scott McClellan good morning to you. Thanks for joining us.
SCOTT MCCLELLAN: Meredith, good morning. Thanks for having me on.
VIEIRA: The book is called, no problem, the book is called What Happened, which is the same question people are asking about you this morning, particularly folks who are watching right now in Washington D.C. What happened to the Bush loyalist who defended this administration, stood up for it when you were a part of it? Why now write such a critical book?
MCCLELLAN: Well because I believe it's important to look back and reflect on my experience. And talk to people about what I learned and what we can learn from it, to hopefully change Washington for the better. The, the larger message has kind of been lost in the mix of some of the initial reaction to the book. And I think it's important to go to that larger message. My hope is that by writing this book, and sharing openly and honestly my, what I lived and what I learned during my time at the White House that in some small way it might help move us beyond the destructive partisan warfare of the past 15 years.
VIEIRA: But you had to know this was gonna create a firestorm.
MCCLELLAN: Well I, I think I expected some of the reaction that was gonna come out. You know the White House would prefer that I not talk openly about my experiences. But I think there's a larger purpose to this book and that is the message I just talked about. It's really about looking at this permanent campaign culture in Washington, D.C. and talking about how can we move beyond it. When I went to work for President Bush back in 1999, then Governor Bush, I had all this great hope that we were gonna come to Washington and change it. He talked about being a uniter, not a divider. This was a president that had a, had a record as governor of Texas of being a bipartisan leader, of someone who brought people together to get things done, and an approval rating well into the 70s. And then we got to Washington and I think we got caught up in playing the Washington game the way it's played today. And I think a lot of Americans like me would like to see us move beyond that bitter partiness, partisanship that exists today.
VIEIRA: So he let you down then, this man that you believed in?

MCCLELLAN: Well, you know, I think I'm disappointed that things didn't turn out the way that we all hoped they would turn out. We, we all had high hopes coming in. And I think this is sharing my personal experience of going through that. Coming into Washington D.C. as deputy press secretary, then becoming the White House spokesman, the White House press secretary. And by the last 10 months or so of my time at the White House, I grew, I grew increasingly disillusioned by things. When the first revelation came out that what I had been told by Karl Rove and Scooter Libby, that they were in no way involved in the leaking of Valerie Plame's identity, which we now know is not true. When I, and despite the fact that I went to the podium and said these people assured me they were not involved. You know, I started, I started to become a little more disillusioned about things.
VIEIRA: Well, well you say in the book, "It was my reputation crumbling away." So essentially are you saying that they threw you under the bus?
MCCLELLAN: Well, you know, I guess that's one way to look at it. But the way I look at it-
VIEIRA: Is that the way you look at it?
MCCLELLAN: No the way I look at it and I talk about this in the book. There, there's no one I'm harder on in the book, I don't think, than myself. For all the faults I might talk about in terms of others and the key personalities, and also talk about some of their good attributes as well. These are good, good well-intentioned people. But like everybody, they have their own personal flaws. And I talk about my own flaws in, in the book as well and I blame myself for putting myself in the position of going to the podium and passing along information that I did not know was false, but later learned that it was. And-
VIEIRA: Are you talking specifically now about Rove and Libby or are you talking about the war in Iraq and-
MCCLELLAN: Yes. I'm...specifically right now I'm talking about the leak episode. The Valerie Plame leak episode. And I promised White House reporters, at the time, during that time period, I said, some day when this is all done. My hands were tied. The White House Counsel office said, "You know you cannot discuss this," when those revelations became known, that they had been involved in the leak. And I said, at the time, you know some day I look forward to talking about what I know and about, you know, my involvement in, in defending the White House in terms of the leak episode. And so I do this in the book but the book is, that, that was a kind of a launching-off point for the book. But the book is much larger than that. It looks really at how things went off course.
VIEIRA: Well let me go back to that for a second and then we'll look at the bigger picture because Karl Rove has responded to what you said and he says, "This doesn't sound like the Scott McClellan I knew. This sounds like left wing bloggers." And the administration has come out and said that you're disgruntled, that you're just mad because you got pushed out of a job. And this is your way of getting even, by writing this book.
MCCLELLAN: Actually disappointed is, is the word I would use. I'm disappointed that things went so badly off track, disappointed that we weren't able to come to Washington and change the tone-
VIEIRA: You have to be more than disappointed-
MCCLELLAN: -and rise, rise above it.
VIEIRA: -if you're pushed, pushed out of a job.
MCCLELLAN: Well actually I talk in the book about those last 10 months as I became increasingly disillusioned. And one of the most defining, two, two defining moments that caused me to become increasingly dismayed and disillusioned with the way things were going in Washington, D.C. One was the revelation that I had been assured, and Karl Rove and Scooter Libby both, I asked them point blank, were you involved in this in any way? Both assured me, in unequivocal terms, "No, we were not involved in this." And they even, Karl Rove, even told the President and the President and Vice President directed me to go out there and also exonerate Scooter Libby on this. And that's when I went to Scooter and asked him the same question. But the other defining moment was in early April 2006 when I learned that the President had secretly declassified the National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq for the Vice President and Scooter Libby to anonymously disclose to reporters. And we had been out there, talking about how seriously the President took this selective leaking of classified information. And here we were, learning that the President had authorized the very same thing we had criticized. I this, this-
VIEIRA: Did you talk to the President then, say why are you doing this?
MCCLELLAN: Actually I did. I talk about the conversation we had. I, I walked on to Air Force One, it was right after an event we had, down in, in the South, I believe it was North Carolina, and I walk on to Air Force One and a reporter yelled a question to the President, trying to ask him about this revelation that came out during the legal proceedings and the revelation was that it was the President who had authorized or enabled Scooter Libby to go out there and talk about this information. And I asked, I told the President, that's what the pre-, the reporter is asking about. He's saying that you, yourself, were the one that authorized the leaking of this information. And he said, "Yeah, I did." And I was kind of taken aback. And, you know, that was the kind of, for me, I came to a decision that, at that point, I needed to look for a way to move on. Because it had undermined, I think, a lot of what we had said.
VIEIRA: Let's go back in time now.
MCCLELLAN: Sure.
VIEIRA: Because in the book you say the Bush administration made a decision to turn away from candor and honesty and you point to the war in Iraq as the prime example. These are your words now, "Bush and his advisers knew that the American people would not support a war launched primarily for the ambitious purpose of transforming the Middle East. Rather than open this Pandora's box, the administration chose a different path, not employing out and out deception, but shading the truth." And you say, "In an effort to convince the world that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction, the administration used innuendo and implication and intentional ignoring of intelligence to the contrary." Innuendo, implication, shading the truth. You seem to stop just short of saying that President Bush and his administration flat out lied.
MCCLELLAN: Well actually, I say in the book, I say that this was not a deliberate or conscious effort to do so. What happened was that we got caught up in the excesses of the permanent campaign culture in Washington, D.C.
VIEIRA: What does that mean when you say that?
MCCLELLAN: Well what it means is that, that everything is centered on trying to shape and manipulate the narrative to one's advantage. Each party, or each side is trying to do that. That's what Washington has become today. They're trying to manipulate the narrative to their advantage. And that's the way the game is played. It's, it's a battle over power and influence. And how can we gain, or how can we win those battles, how can we win over public opinion instead of, you know what it should be more on, which is bipartisan, deliberation and compromise. That's become a distant second. And so-
VIEIRA: But however you word it, isn't it lying, Scott? Isn't that what they were doing?
MCCLELLAN: And so what we, well, the, the point that I make that whether it was or not, it's just as problematic. And, and you get caught up in trying to sell this war to the American people. Paul Wolfowitz went and said publicly that the rationale that we all agreed on, that would be the best selling point for this war was the weapons of mass destruction and obviously the connection to Iraq. And much of that information was based in what could be substantiated. But at the same time, as we accelerated the build up to the war, the information that we were talking about became a little more certain than it was. The caveats were dropped. Intelligence, you know, contradictory intelligence was ignored, intelligence that had a high level of confidence was combined packaged with intelligence that had a low level of confidence. And together that made it sound like the threat was more urgent and more grave and gathering than it really turned out to be.
VIEIRA: But if you, but if you saw this happening, and right, at that point you were deputy, right, press secretary to Ari Fleischer?
MCCLELLAN: I was.
VIEIRA: Why didn't you express any concerns? He said you never said a word about it. You didn't say anything to anybody. If you were that worried, why not speak out or resign?
MCCLELLAN: Well, yeah, like I say in the book, I was like, I shared the view of many Americans. Which we were in a post 9/11 world and the President had a highly experienced foreign policy team. A team that was well-regarded for what it had done in Afghanistan in toppling the Taliban and done so, so successfully and a team that had taken strong action in other ways to prevent a terrorist attack from occurring again.

VIEIRA: But you saw them going down this road, Scott, that you said...

MCCLELLAN: And, and I gave them the benefit of the doubt just like a lot of Americans. I wasn't sure. I felt like we were rushing into this. But because of my position and my affection for the President and my belief and trust in he and his advisers I gave them the benefit of the doubt. And looking back on it, reflecting on it now, I don't think I should have.
VIEIRA: Was it cowardly not to stop then and say something?
MCCLELLAN: Well again I, I think my views were different then because I was, like I said, I was giving the benefit of the doubt. You're living in the White House bubble, you great affection for the man you're working for. I continue to have great affection for George W. Bush to this day. But at the same time, you've got to be able to step back and look at the big picture, and look what you can learn from this so that we don't repeat these mistakes in the future. And that's what I try to do in this book, is take readers behind the scenes, inside the White House during these defining moments and defining periods for the presidency so that they can get an understanding of what I was going through and what I was experiencing.
VIEIRA: Let, let me talk to you directly about Bush because you describe the President as, "Plenty smart enough to be president, but with a leadership style based more on instinct than deep intellectual debate." Who is the man in the suit? Is he somebody who just follows his gut but doesn't, isn't reflective about anything?
MCCLELLAN: Well, he largely is a gut player. I mean I think he will admit that, that he goes on gut instincts when he makes decisions. And that's what happened in the, in the decision to go into Iraq. I think very early on, just a couple of months after September, a few months after September 11th, he had made a decision that we're gonna confront Saddam Hussein. And if Saddam Hussein doesn't come fully clean, then we're gonna go to war. So there was really no flexibility in his approach. And then it was put on the advisers, "Okay how do we go about implementing this? How do we go about doing this?"
VIEIRA: But you also say in the book he saw it as an opportunity to create a legacy of greatness, almost as if he was concerned about his future reputation than he was at the reality of the moment.
MCCLELLAN: Well he absolutely cares very passionately about what he talks about, which is the freedom agenda and spreading democracy throughout the Middle East. It's a very idealistic and ambitious vision. That was really the driving motivation that pushed him forward on Iraq. This chance to, in his view, really transform the Middle East by making Iraq a linchpin for spreading democracy. And we now know that some of the expectations that were set early on were not properly set. It was, it was confusing. The selling of the war, the political propaganda campaign, as I talk about, with the realities of the war making campaign in talking to the American people about the hard truths of going to war. And I think the expectations later came back to haunt us because they were out of whack.
VIEIRA: You're also pretty tough on some of the other people who surrounded the President and you describe Vice President Cheney as "The Magic Man" and no one knew better how to orchestrate what was happening from behind the curtain. How did he shape events?
MCCLELLAN: Well the Vice President was given a lot of deference by the President. He was someone, he's someone that he trusts very much. And, and-
VIEIRA: Was he basically running the show?
MCCLELLAN: -he's very close to, no. I wouldn't, I wouldn't describe it that way. But he was given wide authority to go about implementing certain things the way he saw best. And he's someone that the President looked to for advice throughout these key policy decisions, particularly in the foreign policy realm and on economic policy as well.
VIEIRA: Do you think he was giving the President bad advice?
MCCLELLAN: Well I, I think that in a number of ways, he has not served the President well. And part of that is the, the secrecy and compartmentalization that exists within the White House. It's one of the things I talk about. The, the White House is very compartmentalized and, and sometimes decisions are kept just among a few, very few people and not shared widely with other people. I don't think that's a healthy thing, particularly in this transparent society we live in. It's very important to be open and forthright and, you know, embrace a high level of forthrightness with the American people.
VIEIRA: You also talk about Secretary of State Condi Rice and you say that, "No matter what went wrong, she was somehow able to keep her hands clean." Are you suggesting that she was more concerned with her reputation than she was with the good of the country?
MCCLELLAN: Well I think readers are gonna have to make those judgments. I try to-
VIEIRA: What do you think?
MCCLELLAN: I try to, I try to give them a glimpse of her. I don't think you can get inside her mind and read that. She's, she's a hard person to really get to know well. But I was around her an awful, an awful lot. And I came to realize that she is someone that, she and the President are very like-minded in their foreign policy views. And I felt that too often she was too accommodating of his views instead of challenging those views and questioning those views and too accommodating of the other strong personalities on the foreign policy team like the Vice President and like Sec-, the Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld, and too deferential to those individuals.
VIEIRA: Why now write this book, Scott?
MCCLELLAN: Well I think it's important that we-
VIEIRA: But why now? I know you explained, but why now?
MCCLELLAN: Well no. Because I mean I think it's, it's important to today's political debate to today's political discussion. You have both candidates. Senator McCain, just a few weeks ago, talked about the importance of ending the permanent campaign and changing politics as usual. You have Senator Barack Obama talking about changing the way Washington works. A message that is very similar to the one that the President ran on in 2000 when he talked about being a uniter not a divider. And so I think it's timely for us to look at these issues and learn the lessons from these experiences so that we can make better decisions in the future and hopefully change Washington for the better.
VIEIRA: You know when you left the White House in 2006, it was an emotional time for you and the President. You said to the President, "I have given my all, sir." He responded, he said, "One of these days," you and he "are gonna be rocking on chairs in Texas, talking about the good old days in his time as the press secretary." Do you believe you'll ever talk with him again?
MCCLELLAN: I, I don't know. I certainly don't expect it any time soon. I know that this is a tough book for some people to accept but-
VIEIRA: We're running out of time. We'll be right back.
MCCLELLAN: Okay.
VIEIRA: This is Today, on NBC.

CNN's Costello: 'Tell-All' Bush Books
Show 'Suppressed Dissent'

CNN correspondent Carol Costello, covering the reaction to McClellan's new "tell-all" book about the Bush administration on Thursday's American Morning, added some liberal-leaning psychoanalysis to the obligatory quotes from current and former administration officials and a clip from Rush Limbaugh. "Unflattering kiss and tells about the Bush administration are a dime a dozen. Spilling the beans: former Treasury secretary Paul O'Neil, former Iraq Envoy Paul Bremer, and former senior economic adviser Larry Lindsay. From a psychological standpoint, that's not surprising. Analysts say the Bush administration demanded loyalty and suppressed dissent -- a perfect recipe for rebellion."

Costello included a clip of Dr. Gail Saltz, a psychiatrist, who noted that McClellan's book "appears to be an act of revenge" done "in a potentially very self-destructive way." Because of this, she concluded that "you have to wonder about the guilt that they feel," because "they're asking for punishment, in a sense."

[This item, by Matthew Balan, was posted Thursday afternoon on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

The CNN correspondent threw in an additional component, that of "ethics." For this, Costello brought in another "analyst," Business Week's Bruce Weinstein, who noted that "[t]here's no statute of limitations on telling the truth. And he may be alienating people. But he may very well feel that, and perhaps justifiably so, that it's more important to be truthful and to let the American people know what was actually happening."

Besides Limbaugh, Costello included the reactions of Dana Perino, Ari Fleischer, Fran Townsend, and the conservative blog Red State, who said of McClellan, "what a scumbag."

The full transcript of Carol Costello's report, which began near the bottom of the 6 am Eastern hour of Thursday's American Morning:

JOHN ROBERTS: 'Sad,' 'sour grapes,' 'total crap.' That's what some of Scott McClellan's former colleagues are saying about his new book bashing the White House that he once served as Press Secretary. He claims the Bush administration used, '€˜propaganda,' to sell the war in Iraq.

KYRA PHILLIPS: And as you can see those accusations are pretty stunning, given -- and the feedback, as you heard from John -- given McClellan's long-time relationship with President Bush, but he's not the first former insider to tell-all about the Bush White House. CNN's Carol Costello has more.

CAROL COSTELLO: It appeared to be beautiful, as beautiful as a relationship made in the world of politics can be. That's Scott McClellan on his last day as White House spokesman.
SCOTT MCCLELLAN, FORMER WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Mr. President, it has been an extraordinary honor and privilege to have served you for more than seven years now.
COSTELLO: Now it's safe to say McClellan has burned that bridge and incinerated many more. His book, 'What Happened,' is a scathing account of the Bush administration's policies, so negative the President's new spokesperson, Dana Perino, says, 'We are puzzled.' Ari Fleischer, who was McClellan's boss at the White House, says passages in the book 'don't sound like Scott.' Others weren't so kind. Former Bush homeland security adviser Fran Townsend says McClellan's book is, well, ill-timed.
FRAN TOWNSEND, FORMER HOMELAND SECURITY ADVISER: For him to do this now, frankly, strikes me as self-serving, disingenuous, and unprofessional.
COSTELLO: The conservative blog Red State said 'what a scum bag.' And Rush Limbaugh called him another Republican turncoat.
RUSH LIMBAUGH: They'll throw anybody under the bus, even their own grandmothers to have a seat of power with the liberals -- get their approval. Not just Scott McClellan. He's the worst example of it lately.
COSTELLO: Unflattering kiss and tells about the Bush administration are a dime a dozen. Spilling the beans: former Treasury secretary Paul O'Neil, former Iraq Envoy Paul Bremer, and former Senior Economic Adviser Larry Lindsay.
From a psychological standpoint, that's not surprising. Analysts say the Bush administration demanded loyalty and suppressed dissent -- a perfect recipe for rebellion.
DR. GAIL SALTZ, PSYCHIATRIST: When you see someone commit what appears to be an act of revenge and do it in a potentially very self-destructive way, you have to wonder about the guilt that they feel, all right? Because they're asking for punishment, in a sense.
COSTELLO: And Scott McClellan is certainly feeling a backlash. But ethicists look at it another way.
BRUCE WEINSTEIN, BUSINESSWEEK.COM: There's no statute of limitations on telling the truth. And he may be alienating people. But he may very well feel that, and perhaps justifiably so, that it's more important to be truthful and to let the American people know what was actually happening.
COSTELLO: Of course, only Scott McClellan can explain why he wrote this book and we should have an answer soon. He's about to hit the interview circuit to promote his book. Kyra, John?
ROBERTS: All right. Carol Costello for us this morning. Carol, thanks.

Yellin: Press 'Under Enormous Pressure'
From Execs Before Iraq

CNN congressional correspondent Jessica Yellin, during a segment on Wednesday's Anderson Cooper 360, accused her former bosses -- presumably those at MSNBC, where she worked prior to joining ABC in July 2003 -- of pressuring her to run positive stories about the Bush administration before the invasion of Iraq: "When the lead-up to the war began, the press corps was under enormous pressure from corporate executives, frankly, to make sure that this was a war that was presented in a way that was consistent with the patriotic fever in the nation...and my own experience at the White House was that, the higher the president's approval ratings...the more pressure I had from news executives to put on positive stories about the President."

[This item, by Matthew Balan, was posted Thursday afternoon on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

Her statement on the post-9/11 "patriotic fever in the nation" mirrored that of her former colleague at NBC News, Brian Williams, who said on The Early Show on Wednesday that "people have to remember the post-9/11 era and how that felt and what the President felt he was empowered to do" Yellin also repeated the typical left-wing spin on the pre-Iraq invasion period, that "the press corps dropped the ball at the beginning."

Host Anderson Cooper seemed stunned at Yellin's statement: "Really? You had pressure from news executives to put on positive stories about the President?" Yellin answered, "Not in that exact -- they wouldn't say it in that way, but they would edit my pieces. They would push me in different directions. They would turn down stories that were more critical and try to put on pieces that were more positive, yes. That was my experience."

Yellin made the comments 23 minutes into the 10 pm Eastern hour of the CNN program, as part of a panel discussion which included CNN's John Roberts and Ed Henry. The three have at some point covered the White House in their career, and Cooper asked them about Scott McClellan's upcoming book, in which the former White House spokesman accused the media of not living up to its liberal reputation in the run-up to the invasion of Iraq.

Given this reputation, one wonders what Yellin had initially submitted to her editors that caused them to edit her pieces and "turn down stories that were more critical."

ABC's Cuomo Gushes Over 'Great,' Honest
Liberal Author Clarke

Good Morning America news anchor Chris Cuomo touted Bush-bashing author and former anti-terrorism official Richard Clarke on Thursday's Good Morning America. Cuomo lauded Clarke's first book, Against All Enemies, as "great." (In that book, Clarke slammed the White House for focusing too heavily on Iraq.) The GMA host also attempted to pass off the ex-government official's liberal comments as simple, non-partisan advice from an expert.

During the course of the segment, Clarke lamented the lack of action on global warming, Bush's failure to capture Osama bin Laden and the war in Iraq. A telling indicator of Cuomo's agreement with some of Clarke's liberal points was the way in which the anchor mangled the title of Clarke's new book, "Your Government Failed You." The ABC journalist misstated, "But this is 'Your Government Lied to You' -- failed you, rather."

[This item, by the MRC's Scott Whitlock, was posted Thursday afternoon on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

Cuomo also effusively praised Clarke's 2004 testimony to the 9/11 Commission in which the former terrorist czar, who was retained by Bush from the Clinton administration, apologized for the government's failure on September 11, 2001. Cuomo rhapsodized, "Not only was it the first time that kind of candor had come out, it was also the first time someone said enough blame, enough finger pointing." Continuing to build up the man who is also a former consultant of ABC, Cuomo fawned that the testimony was "the first time a high ranking figure said the buck stops here."

On another topic, the program did feature a rather fair interview with former White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer, who was defending the Bush administration over the charges leveled by fellow ex-press secretary Scott McClellan in his new anti-Bush book. Co-host Robin Roberts empathized to Fleischer: "It's hard to sit here and not notice how when you were watching the [ABC clips of McClellan] and just, that you really feel betrayed...You were Scott McClellan's boss. And there is a feeling among you and others that you were betrayed." She also allowed Fleischer time to make this salient point about whether McClellan was out of the loop.

ARI FLEISCHER: One, it's not loop or no loop. It's whether Scott meant the things he said. If he can now so easily take them all back, it makes you question the convictions he held either now or when he stood at the podium. But as for whether he was or wasn't in the loop, the most salacious actions here deal with the lead-up to the war in Iraq and the war in Iraq. During that time I was press secretary. Scott was the deputy press secretary in charge of domestic issues. He shouldn't have been in those loops. He wouldn't have been in those loops. No deputy press secretary is for those type of meetings. But that's what he wrote a lot of this book about. That's a legitimate reflection on what role Scott had. He wouldn't have known a lot of those things. It wasn't his job.

A transcript of the May 29 Richard Clarke segment, which aired at 8:49am, follows:

CHRIS CUOMO: And now, who could forget the moment in the 9/11 investigation when the highest ranking anti-terrorist official said this?
RICHARD CLARKE (Fmr. White House Counter terrorism Chief): Your government failed you. Those entrusted with protecting you failed you. And I failed you. We tried hard, but that doesn't matter, because we failed.
CUOMO: Not only was it the first time that kind of candor had come out, it was also the first time someone said enough blame, enough finger pointing. The first time a high ranking figure said the buck stops here. That man is Richard Clarke, admitting to families of the 9/11 victims that the disaster could have been prevented. He expanded on that theory, in a book whose title has been taken from that emotional testimony called "Your Government Failed You." Mr. Clarke, of course, a former consultant of ABC News. Very happy to have you here today. The obvious question in this book, you say 9/11, the government failed you. You've seen it again in Iraq and Katrina, the same types of failure. Why does this keep happening?
CLARKE: It happens in all of these national security issues. And it happens in related issues like global warming and in cyberspace. It happens because no one at the highest level of government tries to fix the system. They worry about today's crisis. Well, if the system that you have to handle policy and to solve problems is never fixed, then you'll never get to actually solving the problems. And you can't just focus on today's crisis or on the blame game. It's not about Bush and Cheney and moving on beyond them. If you just replace the president and vice president and their team, the next team, no matter how good they are, is going to inherit a system that's broken.
CUOMO: System doesn't sound sexy. And you say that's a big reason there is no change?
CLARKE: That's right. And whether it's in intelligence or Homeland Security or cyber security or global warming, there are systemic problems in why the federal government doesn't work on national security, even though, Chris, we spend a trillion dollars a year, a trillion with a "T" on national security and still we have failure after failure after failure. So, this book goes beyond 9/11. This is what happened since 9/11 and why those failures happened.
CUOMO: So, obviously this isn't much we're hearing about in the political dialogue. But it is in the book, so thumbnail a couple potential solutions. What needs to happen?
CLARKE: Well, one thing we need to do is stop outsourcing the government. You know, in the last several years we've started taking inherently government jobs, whether it's intelligence analysis or even interrogating prisoners and giving them to for-profit companies. That has to have an effect on what the analysis is. It has to have an effect on the size and nature of the bureaucracy. We need to professionalize the civil service. Stop beating up on the government, and professional government employees. They're the ones who have been trying to fix things. CUOMO: And the proof is in the pudding. Are we safer now then we were after 9/11, for all of the money and talk?
CLARKE: No, I don't think so. We're safer in certain areas. Passenger aircrafts are safer, not as safe as they should be. But if you look at the net net, we're not because we have invaded Iraq. We've not crushed al Qaeda, we've not got bin Laden. The CIA director just recently said that bin Laden's group, al Qaeda, is reconstituting in Pakistan and training terrorists in Pakistan to send back out. All these years after 9/11, we should have crushed al Qaeda and we haven' t. No, we're not safe enough by a long shot.
CUOMO: Richard Clarke. The book-- This is now your second book. "Against All Enemies" was a great book as well. But this is "Your Government Lied to You" -- failed you, rather. Thank you very much. Good luck with the book. Appreciate you being here. Always good to see you.

-- Brent Baker