1. Nets Dissatisfied with Bush National Guard Records, Won't Let Go
The White House on Tuesday released pay records which disproved the unsubstantiated allegation of DNC Chairman Terry McAuliffe that President George W. Bush was AWOL from his Air National Guard duties for a year in 1972-73. But instead of rebuking McAuliffe and other liberals for such scurrilous tactics, on Tuesday night the networks avoided castigating McAuliffe and moved the goal posts on the subject as they assumed Bush is guilty until the White House proves him innocent by accounting for his activities for every week 30-plus years ago. ABC, CBS and NBC all led with the subject and stressed the lack of eyewitnesses to Bush's 1972-'73 activities. "The issue is not going to go away," ABC's Terry Moran insisted in a self-fulfilling promise as CBS's Dan Rather declared that the White House effort "did not put the issue to rest."
2. A Very Contentious WH Briefing, Reporters Snap at McClellan
Tuesday's White House press briefing was quite contentious, with the press corps pounding away at Press Secretary Scott McClellan for nearly 30 straight minutes over their dissatisfaction with the 1972-'73 pay records proving George W. Bush's service in the Air National Guard. The reporters demanded proof of what Bush did every month and eyewitnesses to it. CBS's John Roberts snapped at one point: "I asked a simple question. How about a simple answer?" And when McClellan pointed out how he'd already answered a question, NBC's David Gregory shot back: "I'll ask it until we maybe get something."
Nets Dissatisfied with Bush National
Guard Records, Won't Let Go
The White House on Tuesday released pay records which disproved the unsubstantiated allegation of DNC Chairman Terry McAuliffe that President George W. Bush was AWOL from his Air National Guard duties for a year in 1972-73. But instead of rebuking McAuliffe and other liberals for such scurrilous tactics, on Tuesday night the networks avoided castigating McAuliffe and moved the goal posts on the subject as they assumed Bush is guilty until the White House proves him innocent by accounting for his activities for every week 30-plus years ago. ABC, CBS and NBC all led with it.
ABC's Terry Moran, for instance, treated the AWOL charge as credible as he relayed how Bush's "critics charge he went AWOL at that time, but the President claims he served." Moran countered: "But the records released today do not prove that, and no witnesses have ever come forward to say they saw Mr. Bush performing military service in Alabama."
Moran challenged the White House's case: "The White House insists this matter is now closed. But given those gaps in the record, given the absence of any witnesses who could fill in those gaps and corroborate the President's recollection, and, Peter, given the fact that it is a campaign season, as you note, and there are plenty of Democrats who are only too happy to stoke this, the issue is not going to go away."
But it is the media which are stoking it by treating it as such a credible issue worthy of such air time.
"The President's service record has become an issue in Campaign '04, specifically whether he ever showed up for duty in Alabama over several months for which, so far, there are no records," asserted CBS's Dan Rather before adding: "The White House did release some of what it called newly discovered documents today. But as CBS's John Roberts reports, it did not put the issue to rest."
Roberts emphasized how "White House officials still can't fully explain why even during the times when President Bush is shown to have reported to the Guard, he was, quote, 'not observed by his senior officers,' only saying that he was doing odds and ends at the time under officers whose names he can't recall. And they still cannot produce one person who remembers serving in the Guard during that time with the future President."
Roberts, however, at least characterized Democratic tactics as dirty as he related how "Democratic operatives are only too happy to get down in the mud, forcing Republicans to aggressively defend the reputation of their wartime President."
Over on the NBC Nightly News, anchor Brian Williams began by stressing how "some have questioned whether a young George W. Bush failed to report for duty for a time during the early 1970s. The White House hoped to settle it all today, but instead it may have re-ignited."
David Gregory's story, like the ones on ABC, CBS and CNN, ran through how there are no witnesses to Bush's service during the one year when he went to Alabama to work for an unsuccessful GOP Senate candidate, but he at least noted how "at the request of the White House, a retired colonel, who was the personnel director for the Texas Air National Guard, reviewed the files and concluded that Lieutenant Bush earned enough points during this period, 56, to meet the requirements."
Gregory uniquely highlighted how a man "who worked with Mr. Bush on that Alabama Senate campaign, does recall asking why Mr. Bush was absent from a meeting" and was told Bush had to fulfill National Guard duty.
CNN's Wolf Blitzer, on his 5pm EST show, contrasted Bush with the Democratic candidates: "While John Kerry and Wesley Clark trumpet their military service on the campaign trail, Democrats have raised serious questions about President Bush's military service and that sent the White House rummaging through the National Guard records."
Later, on CNN's NewsNight, Aaron Brown discussed, with Washington Post reporter Lois Romano, supposed "holes" in Bush's record.
On Special Report with Brit Hume on FNC, Hume set up the story: "The White House has released President Bush's payroll records from the National Guard for his service during the Vietnam war. Mr. Bush hopes to refute Democratic critics who claim he did not show up for duty in Alabama."
Like NBC's Gregory, FNC's Wendell Goler pointed out how "a 39 year veteran of the Air Force and Guard said the documents clearly show First Lieutenant George W. Bush has satisfactory years for both '72-'73 and '73-'74, which proved that he completed his military obligation in a satisfactory manner."
Goler recalled how on Sunday John Kerry had challenged the contention that Bush's honorable discharge proved critics wrong. Kerry asserted: "The issue here, as I have heard it raised, is was he present and active on duty in Alabama at he times he supposed to be and just because you get an honorable discharge does not in fact answer that question."
But none of these stories noted Kerry's rank hypocrisy since he denounced Bob Kerrey and others in early 1992 for daring to question Bill Clinton's efforts to avoid military service and then dissemble over what he had done to get out of it. Nor did any explore why Bush's record is relevant when the media consensus was that Clinton's was not when he faced World War II veterans in 1992 and 1996.
ABC's Jim Wooten, however, in a piece on Tuesday's Nightline, reminded viewers how Clinton had "gone to great lengths to avoid military service" yet he beat "a President who'd been the youngest naval aviator to fly combat mission in World War II." Wooten also recalled how in 1992 Kerry argued: "We do not need to divide America over who served and how. I have personally always believed that many served in many different ways."
For the text of Kerry's February 27, 1992 remarks on the Senate floor, in which he argued that "the race for the White House should be about leadership and leadership requires that one help heal the wounds of Vietnam, not reopen them," see: www.opinionjournal.com
For the record, below is the full text of the February 10 evening newscast stories on ABC, CBS, NBC and CNN as collated by the MRC's Brad Wilmouth:
-- ABC's World News Tonight. Peter Jennings: "Good evening, everyone. It certainly felt for a while today as if the country was already deep into the presidential campaign, not still selecting a Democratic nominee. We'll get to the primaries today in a minute, but we're going to begin at the White House because there is a full-fledged battle going on between the Democratic Party and the President's staff about the President's service record during the war in Vietnam. Today the White House released a package of 30-year-old documents relating to Lieutenant Bush's service in the National Guard. The White House hopes this resolves the debate about how faithfully the President served in the early 1970s. Here's ABC's Terry Moran."
Moran began: "Today the White House tried to use the newly released records to launch a spirited defense of Mr. Bush."
Scott McClellan, White House Press Secretary: "These records I'm holding here clearly document the President fulfilling his duties in the National Guard."
Moran: "That did not quiet the controversy. [video of contentious press briefing cross-talk] The records released today show Lieutenant George W. Bush earned enough training points during 1972 and 1973 to maintain his status in the National Guard. His payroll records show he was paid for service on more than a dozen occasions in that period. During that time, Mr. Bush received permission to train in Alabama, where he worked on a political campaign. His critics charge he went AWOL at that time, but the President claims he served."
George W. Bush: "I got an honorable discharge, and I did show up in Alabama."
Moran: "But the records released today do not prove that, and no witnesses have ever come forward to say they saw Mr. Bush performing military service in Alabama. Another question, the records show Mr. Bush was paid for service in November 1972, and January, April and May of 1973 when he says he was in Texas. But in another document, Mr. Bush's two commanding officers in Texas stated they could not evaluate his performance during the previous year because 'Lieutenant Bush has not been observed at this unit during the period of report.' The White House says the discrepancy in the record may be due to administrative reasons. Democrats, including the party's presidential front-runner, Senator John Kerry, have sought to fuel the controversy, but today Kerry suddenly backed away."
John Kerry: "I just don't have any comment on it. It's not, it's not an issue that I've chosen to create. It's not my record that's at issue."
Moran: "The White House insists this matter is now closed. But given those gaps in the record, given the absence of any witnesses who could fill in those gaps and corroborate the President's recollection, and, Peter, given the fact that it is a campaign season, as you note, and there are plenty of Democrats who are only too happy to stoke this, the issue is not going to go away."
Jennings: "Terry, I noticed Senator Kerry there backing off a bit. I wonder if the White House has some feel for how this is playing out in the country."
Moran: "Well, Peter, they put on a brave face. They say they've been through this in every campaign the President has waged, and that the voters have taken a look at the facts and resolved them in his favor. But circumstances have changed. He's up against a war hero now, and there are plenty of National Guardsmen and women in Iraq today."
Next, Martha Raddatz looked at how the Guard was not called up during Vietnam, unlike now.
-- CBS Evening News. Dan Rather: "Good evening. Playing defense, the White House is trying to prove President Bush did fulfill his duty as a member of the National Guard during the Vietnam War. The President's service record has become an issue in Campaign '04, specifically whether he ever showed up for duty in Alabama over several months for which, so far, there are no records. The White House did release some of what it called newly discovered documents today. But as CBS's John Roberts reports, it did not put the issue to rest."
Roberts began: "It was a paper trail the White House had tried for years to find, long lost documents they claim prove President Bush earned an honorable discharge from the National Guard."
Scott McClellan: "The President of the United States fulfilled his duties, and that is the reason that he was honorably discharged from the National Guard. The President was proud of his service."
Roberts: "The documents, duty and payroll records from May of 1972 to May '73, helped fill a one-year gap in President Bush's service. While he met the minimum requirements, he was away from the Guard for five months in the summer of '72 while he worked on an Alabama election campaign, then three more months the following winter, not reporting for eight of the 12 months. Democrats, looking at the prospect of a Vietnam vet as nominee, charge the President escaped Vietnam by joining the Guard, then shirked his duties."
Allan Lichtman, American University: "They're trying to contrast Kerry's war heroism with Bush's dubious service record. And subtly they're even questioning Bush's moral authority to send American troops into harm's way."
Roberts, over video clip of Kerry testifying in 1971: "Candidate Kerry, who will no doubt face questions about his own record of post-war activism, is trying to appear above the fray."
John Kerry: "I just don't have any comment on it. It's not, it's not an issue that I've chosen to create. It's not my record that's at issue, and I don't have any questions about it."
Roberts: "But Democratic operatives are only too happy to get down in the mud, forcing Republicans to aggressively defend the reputation of their wartime President."
Ed Gillespie, RNC Chairman: "They just made something up. The President was not AWOL. The President is not a deserter."
Roberts: "White House officials still can't fully explain why even during the times when President Bush is shown to have reported to the Guard, he was, quote, 'not observed by his senior officers,' only saying that he was doing odds and ends at the time under officers whose names he can't recall. And they still cannot produce one person who remembers serving in the Guard during that time with the future President."
-- NBC Nightly News. After Tom Brokaw in Afghanistan opened the broadcast with plugs for upcoming stories, Brian Williams announced: "During this time when American fighting soldiers are on the ground in several hot spots, including the one you're reporting from tonight, in this country many political candidates, especially Democrats, have been making the very most of their own military credentials. Now, President Bush's own record of service in the National Guard is tonight, once again, under a microscope. Some have questioned whether a young George W. Bush failed to report for duty for a time during the early 1970s. The White House hoped to settle it all today, but instead it may have re-ignited. We begin tonight with NBC's David Gregory."
Gregory began: "The White House produced new documents today which they argued should end the controversy over Mr. Bush's Vietnam-era service in the National Guard. The documents, pay records and other personnel files from the Guard cover the key period in question: May of 1972 through May of 1973. That's when political opponents charge that Mr. Bush failed to report for duty, though he says he did. The documents back up Mr. Bush's account. They show that he was paid for six days of duty between late October and mid-November 1972 when he was on temporary duty with a Guard unit in Alabama. Mr. Bush had transferred from Texas to work on a Senate campaign. The personnel records also show that Mr. Bush attended drills in the spring of 1973. At the request of the White House, a retired colonel, who was the personnel director for the Texas Air National Guard, reviewed the files and concluded that Lieutenant Bush earned enough points during this period, 56, to meet the requirements."
Scott McClellan: "These records I'm holding here clearly document the President fulfilling his duties in the National Guard. The President, the President was proud of his service."
Gregory: "Joe Holcomb (sp?), who worked with Mr. Bush on that Alabama Senate campaign, does recall asking why Mr. Bush was absent from a meeting."
Joe Holcomb: "I just innocently asked, well, where George was since wasn't there, and then I was told that he was at the National Guard that weekend."
Gregory: "Still, Mr. Bush's critics say all of this is not the end of the story. The problems? The White House has never been able to produce a fellow guardsman to confirm that Mr. Bush performed his duties. And there's a contradiction. While the records show Mr. Bush performed duties in Alabama and Texas during the key period, his superiors don't recall him showing up. In fact, his superior officers in Texas wrote they could not evaluate his performance because he was not observed. Jim Moore wrote a critical book about the President's military record."
Jim Moore: "How could the President claim to be getting paid at a time when his commanders said that he wasn't there? It makes no sense at all."
Gregory: "Another issue. Though he was paid in the fall of 1972, there is still a six-month gap in Mr. Bush's service record between April and October of that year. It's unusual, say Guard veterans, but the White House says the Guard was flexible with Mr. Bush's work schedule. Despite lingering questions, White House officials claim they have come totally clean on Mr. Bush's military record, and are hopeful they can put a thorny election-year issue to rest."
-- CNN's Wolf Blitzer Reports. Blitzer set up a story: "While John Kerry and Wesley Clark trumpet their military service on the campaign trail, Democrats have raised serious questions about President Bush's military service and that sent the White House rummaging through the national guard records. Let's go live to our White House correspondent Suzanne Malveaux -- Suzanne."
Malveaux began her story, a nearly identical version of which aired on NewsNight with Aaron Brown five hours later: "Wolf, it's become a very hot political issue. It's also an issue of credibility here. That is why White House, in releasing these documents, hopes that it puts this whole thing to rest. In a effort to silence the critic, the white house released new documents that it claims shows President Bush fulfilled his national guard duty during Vietnam."
McClellan: "When you serve for the national guard you're paid for the days on which you serve."
Malveaux: "The documents include point summaries and payroll records that White House says shows Mr. Bush logged the time required between 1972 to 1974 to be considered active in the national guard. He received what military analysts consider only a passing grade for his time, 56 points out of 50-point minimum. The personnel director for the Texas Air National Guard asked to review Mr. Bush's record by the White House issued a statement saying: 'This clearly shows that First Lieutenant George W. Bush has satisfactory years for both 72-73 and 73-74 which proves he completed his military obligation in a satisfactory manner.' One point of contention: a controversial six-month period when Mr. Bush transferred to a guard unit in Alabama. No one has come forward to attest he showed up for service, including his former commander. But the President stands by his own memory."
Bush on Meet the Press: "There may not be no evidence, but did I report."
Malveaux: "But the head of the National Democratic Committee, Terry McAuliffe, said 'there is still no evidence that George W. Bush showed up for duty as ordered while in Alabama.' Senator John Kerry, the frontrunner for the Democratic presidential nomination and Vietnam War hero, regularly campaigns with his band of brothers from his military days. Republicans are accusing the Democrats of attacking Mr. Bush's military record to score political points."
Ed Gillespie, RNC Chairman: "This is the kind of tactic I think we need get used to. I think it's the kind of dirty politics that the Democrats are intent on engaging in this election year."
Malveaux: "Now, Wolf, despite the release of these documents there are still some holes about where President Bush was and when, but they say he was honorably discharged. Of course, White House officials hoping that people will focus his military leadership as Commander-in-Chief, as a war-time President, and not focus on his record from some 30 years ago, but they stand by it, Wolf."
Later, on NewsNight, after going through the primary results, Aaron Brown ran Malveaux's piece and then cued up Lois Romano of the Washington Post: "Suzanne talked about holes in the record. The most significant hole, if you see any holes, would be what?"
Romano: "Would be exactly where he served and what he did. The White House produced documents today, but only the point summaries were original documents. The rest were just summaries of his service and his points. But they didn't say where he was or what exactly he did. So we don't know if he was in Alabama. We don't know if he was in Houston. And it's a sharp contrast to the rest of his record in his file, where you can actually see where he was during those times."
Brown: "So, it is only -- if you look at everything that has been released, just so that I understand this, it is only this one area where there has been controversy that is ambiguous?"
Romanao: "Yes. I would argue that it's actually a year. Suzanne said six months. But it's basically from May of 1972 to May of '73. He asked for and he received a leave in May to go to Alabama. He did no work during the third quarter. The White House admits that. Then, in the fourth quarter, he says that he did drills in October and in November. But nobody in Alabama can remember him, which is a little bit unusual. No one's come forward...."
Brown: "Here's how I remember this, because I was in the Reserves too, that you would go into these drills, whether they were on a weeknight or a weekend, and you'd sign in. There was a sign-in sheet. You'd put your name and your Social Security number, your service number. Is there such a sheet that deals with this period?"
Romano: "Well, interestingly, the expert that the White House themselves put forward today, the former personnel director of the Texas unit, says that there absolutely should be a record of this. And, basically, you sign the sheet, and then, at the end of every month, to receive your pay or your retirement points, you receive a record of what you worked. And there's four copies of that record. The unit member receives one. One goes to the state headquarters. Another goes to the payroll department, if you're to get paid. And the fourth goes to the archives. So there's supposed to be four records. And we have not been able to see any from that period, from that 12-month period."
Brown: "You don't sound like a reporter who is done with this story yet."
Romano: "I don't think it's over. And I think you could tell today. You know, that was a very hot briefing today. The reporters, the journalists themselves, were not satisfied with answers. I think that the Democrats obviously feel like they have some traction on this and are not going to let it go. And I don't think the story is over."
Indeed not given the media's interest in stirring up a now settled issue.
A Very Contentious WH Briefing, Reporters
Snap at McClellan
As Washington Post reporter Lois Romano alluded to on CNN in item #2 above, Tuesday's White House press briefing was quite contentious, with the press corps pounding away at Press Secretary Scott McClellan for nearly 30 straight minutes over their dissatisfaction with the 1972-'73 pay records proving George W. Bush's service in the Air National Guard during a time period some Democrats falsely claimed he was "AWOL."
McClellan repeatedly pointed out how the reporters were "moving the goal posts" on the issue and how the records showed on what days Bush was paid for drills, nothing more and nothing less, but the reporters demanded proof of what Bush did every month and eyewitnesses to it.
CBS's John Roberts snapped at one point: "I asked a simple question. How about a simple answer?" And when McClellan pointed out how he'd already answered a question, NBC's David Gregory shot back: "I'll ask it until we maybe get something."
As taken from the White House Web site, some highlights from the session with the names of the reports filled in where I could recognize them from the coverage provided by MSNBC, which carried the entire session, and CNN and FNC which ran most of it (CNN cut out early, FNC joined late):
-- John Roberts of CBS News: "Scott, a couple of questions I have -- the records that you handed out today, and other records that exist, indicate that the President did not perform any Guard duty during the months of December 1972, February or March of 1973. I'm wondering if you can tell us where he was during that period. And also, how is it that he managed to not make the medical requirements to remain on active flight duty status?"
McClellan: "John, the records that you're pointing to, these records are the payroll records; they're the point summaries. These records verify that he met the requirements necessary to fulfill his duties. These records-"
Roberts: "That wasn't my question, Scott."
McClellan: "These payroll records-"
Roberts: "Scott, that wasn't my question, and you know it wasn't my question. Where was he in December of '72, February and March of '73? And why did he not fulfill the medical requirements to remain on active flight duty status?"
McClellan: "These records -- these records I'm holding here clearly document the President fulfilling his duties in the National Guard. The President was proud of his service. The President-"
Roberts: "I asked a simple question. How about a simple answer?"
McClellan: "John, if you'll let me address the question, I'm coming to your answer, and I'd like-"
Roberts: "Well, if you would address it -- maybe you could."
-- Roberts: "I do want to know the facts, which is why I keep asking the question. And I'll ask it one more time. Where was he in December of '72, February and March of '73? Why didn't he fulfill the medical requirements to remain on active flight duty status in 1972?"
-- David Gregory of NBC News: "Scott, can I follow on this, because I do think this is important. You know, it might strike some as odd that there isn't anyone who can stand up and say, I served with George W. Bush in Alabama, or in Houston in the Guard unit. Particularly because there are people, his superiors who have stepped forward -- in Alabama and in Houston -- who have said in the past several years that they have no recollection of him being there and serving. So isn't that odd that nobody, you can't produce anyone to corroborate what these records purport to show?"
-- Gregory: "One other thing on this. To corroborate these records, will the President do two things -- one, will he authorize the relevant defense agency in Colorado to release actual pay stubs for the President? And if those don't exist, will the President file a form, as he can do at the IRS, to at least look for a '72 or '73 tax return that would corroborate what you claim are payroll summaries that he actually got paid for this duty?"
-- Terry Moran of ABC News: "Scott, two questions, one on the documents, one on the issue. There seems to be a discrepancy now in the President's record that I wondered if you could help me with. These documents that you're holding up show that the President showed up for duty in October and November of '72, January, April and May of '73. But the President's officer effectiveness report, filed by his commanders, Lieutenants Colonel Killean and Harris, both now deceased, for the period 01 May '72 to 30 April, '73, says he has not been observed at this unit, where he was supposed to show up and earning these points on these days. How do you square-"
McClellan: "You're talking about which unit?"
Moran: "The Texas -- at the Ellington Air Force Base."
McClellan: "From '72 to '73?"
Moran: "Correct. And certainly by -- the President said he returned to Texas in November of '72. So some of these dates of service, which are in these records, ought to have been noted by his commanding officers, who, nevertheless, said, twice, he has not been observed here. Can you explain that?"
-- Moran: "Then on the general issue, Senator Kerry has said that the National Guard was one way for people to avoid service in Vietnam. The President and the White House have taken umbrage at that, saying that's denigrating the National Guard. In 1994, the President told the Houston Chronicle, in relation to his joining the National Guard, 'I was not prepared to shoot my eardrum out with a shotgun in order to get a deferment, nor was I willing to go to Canada, so I chose to better myself by learning how to fly airplanes.' It sounds like the President, himself, acknowledged that he went into the National Guard because he didn't want to go to Vietnam."
-- Reporter named "Mike": "Scott, may I re-ask Dana's [Bash of CNN] question? You keep saying he served -- he fulfilled his duty, he met his requirements. You're not saying, he drilled, he showed up, he attended. Is that intentional?"
McClellan: "No, he recalls performing his duties, both in Alabama and Texas. I said that in response to Elisabeth's question."
Unknown person: "Define that."
McClellan: "Well, again, I don't have a minute-by-minute breakdown of every single thing he did throughout that time period."
Female reporter, not Bash: "What did he do? You keep saying the word, 'serve.' Define 'serve.'"
McClellan: "He met -- he served both in Alabama, and he served both in Texas."
Same female: "Doing what? Did that period -- can you at least tell us the difference between inactive -- because it's not clear in these documents."
-- Reporter named "Keith": "It's your position that these documents specifically show that he served in Alabama during the period 1972, when he was supposed to be there. Do they specifically show that?"
McClellan: "No, I think if you look at the documents, what they show are the days on which he was paid, the payroll records. And we previously said that the President recalls serving both in Alabama and in Texas."
Same reporter: "I'm not interested in what he recalls. I'm interested in whether these documents specifically show that he was in Alabama and served on the days during the latter part of 1972-"
McClellan: "And I just answered that question."
Same reporter: "You have not answered that question. You-"
McClellan: "No, I said -- no, I said, no, in response to your question, Keith."
Same reporter: "No, so the answer is, 'no'?"
-- Ed Chen of the LA Times: "Scott, we all know people who tomorrow may not show up for work and will be paid. And their payrolls will show they were paid."
-- A reporter named "April": "You keep saying this is a shame, and you're talking partisan politics, but don't you think the American public, as well, particularly the U.S. military, who has been tested right now with the fact that they went to war on faulty intelligence, possibly, and now finding out that their Commander-in-Chief possibly tried to avoid going to the Vietnam War -- don't you think that the American public is owed a little bit more than photocopies that we can't see things of? Don't you think the military is owed a little bit more than just, 'he served'"?
McClellan: "April, I'm really sorry that you phrased that question the way you did, some of it, when you were saying that they're owed more than the documents that show that he served during that time period. Now, let me go back-"
Same reporter: "But wouldn't someone know what he did?"
McClellan: "And the President -- we have previously said, going back to the 2000 campaign and even before that, that he recalls performing his duties, both in Alabama and in Texas, during the time period that some have questioned. So let's be very clear about that. Let's be very clear about the facts. Because the American people should have the facts, and the facts are right here in these documents. The facts are right here in these documents."
Same reporter, boasting of her laziness in not being able to read the photocopy: "We can't see facts. We can't see -- these facts are very messed up, they're blurred."
McClellan: "April, I mentioned earlier that we were going to be putting this out on email, if we haven't already, because it was sent to us in email form. You are also welcome to contact the Personnel Center in Denver, Colorado. I am sure that they will be glad to walk you through this."
Same reporter: "You're saying that this is political -- this is all politics and everything and people are obscuring in putting the facts up. But people are not able to stand up for the President. There are dates that aren't accounted for. You can't even tell us what kind of drills or what-have-you. What do you say to the U.S. military?"
-- David Gregory again: "I don't really have a question that goes to the politics of this. I just want to ask a question about a contradiction, and a question about a specific record. After all of the things you've repeated here, you cannot explain this contradiction, the fact that his payroll records indicate he was paid for a period of time for fulfilling service, and yet his commanding officers at that time wrote that he was not observed. Can you or can you not explain that contradiction?"
-- Gregory: "Here's the second point, the President said to Tim Russert, very specifically, on Sunday, that he would be willing to provide pay stub records and tax return records to corroborate-"
McClellan: "And we addressed this situation previously."
Gregory: "Wait a second, to corroborate-"
McClellan: "It's the second time you've asked this question."
Gregory: "Right, and I'll ask it until we maybe get something -- which is to corroborate these payroll records that are coming from one source. Will he request that all the records are released, from Denver and from St. Louis, to prove that he actually received money, not just that they say he did?"
McClellan: "These are the payroll records that we understand are available. This is it."
Gregory: "All that's there?"
McClellan: "It is our understanding that these are the payroll records that are available, yes."
For the full transcript: www.whitehouse.gov
If I were McClellan, about five minutes in I would have insisted that the reporters move on to another subject and, if they didn't and pressed away at their petty pickiness, just walked out instead of accommodating the puerile whining.
-- Brent Baker