Even in the depths of his tenure as Bush press secretary, Scott McClellan always seemed to me like the most likely administration official to write a scathing tell-all. His divided consciousness was always visible as a series of tells that would have led him to the slaughter at any poker table. McClellan's deer-meets-headlights demeanor at tough press conferences signaled a lack of belief in his own statements—a fear that he might be caught out. Contrast this to the airy control of his predecessor, Ari Fleischer. Now he was a master. After an Ari Fleischer press conference, there was less information in the world than there had been before it.
Sure, McClellan is moving some books. Still, I can't help feeling a little sorry for him, and admiring the thoroughness with which he’s donned the hair shirt. His basic thesis couldn’t wring more hatred from all sides if it were calculated for that purpose. For the rightosphere, there’s the obvious act of betrayal of the team when it's already down. He assures the continued teeth-grinding of the leftosphere by insisting on a shred of personal admiration for the president they despise. And for failing to time his epiphany for greater strategic impact. If that's not enough, he poxes both ideological houses, blaming a culture of lawyerly spin, which he traces to the beginning of the Clinton era.
He calls this the permanent campaign, but the idea that a press secretary's chief function is not that of truth-teller of course predates this considerably. (See the Yes Minister episode where Sir Humphrey patiently explains to Hacker that one does not tell the truth, one expresses one's position.)
Just in case he might have an ally left in Washington, McClellan goes on to blame the press for its supine acceptance of the patent balderdash he guiltily dished at them.
I have trouble buying the argument that McClellan wrote his book for the money. The one-time windfall of a best-seller can't possibly compete with the lifelong opportunities that are available to top White House staffers after they escape. The disloyalty he's shown by being so frank in his criticisms blows his chance to make serious money working on GOP campaigns; delivering speeches; serving on corporate boards, think tanks and PACs; or gladhanding leaders as a lobbyist. Republicans won't hire him now and Democrats would be leery of trusting a guy who worked over his last boss.
The only place where the book helps McClellan's job prospects is at Media Matters for America, the liberal hell-raising group founded by fellow Republican turncoat David Brock.
Waitaminnit ... so that means he did this for ... IDEALISTIC REASONS??? 1/2 :-)
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I'm not sure even McLellan knows why he wrote the book he did, given his original proposal.
The public holds the national media in low esteem. I think there are several reasons why, and I intend to write about them in some detail while discussing ways the media could improve their image. It is more than just the perceived arrogance, cynicism, gotcha-journalism, and lack of accountability. The establishment media does not tend to reflect Main Street America, or spend enough time focusing on the issues that matter most to the general public, and too often sacrifice substance for process. They tend to reflect the liberal elites of New York and Washington that are part of the social circles in which they run, and it shows in their reporting. Yet, they live in a constant state of denial when it comes to acknowledging such an obvious fact.
Fairness is defined by the establishment media within the left-of-center boundaries they set. They defend their reporting as fair because both sides are covered. But, how fair can it be when it is within the context of the liberal slant of the reporting? And, while the reporting of the establishment media may be based on true statements and facts, is it an accurate picture of what is really happening? And, how much influence do the New York Times and Washington Post have in shaping the coverage? And, why does the media do such a poor job of holding itself to account, or acknowledging their own mistakes?
In addition to covering the above issues and questions, I will get into the influence of activist liberal reporters, like Keith Olbermann, Nation editor David Corn, and Washington Post blogger Dan Froomkin, and activist liberal media personalities, like Cindy Sheehan, Michael Moore, Al Franken, Bill Maher, and Arianna Huffington.
There's a ton more, and it's not all anti-lefty by any means, but clearly his concept changed heavily from this to what was printed. Conservative publishers don't pay squat, anyways, so he probably did the right thing. Not to mention a lifetime of media darling status, which is somewhat more of a reward than a single book deal.
I have to take issue with the idea of permanent campaign. Had I been Bush in the run-up to war, I would have made a much more powerful case for war than he did. Seemed like every day he let another opportunity to explain himself, and his reasoning, pass. It was a major source of frustration for most conservatives I know.