Friday, December 07, 2007

Lies, Lies, and More Lies. Meet the White House Press Secretaries.

Dana Perino

Icy Sexpot Dana Perino Makes a Funny!
Tuesday, 03 April 2007
by Ken Layne

So you’re elevated to your current position because your predecessor got cancer, and every single official you represent is a thieving scumbag with 2% approval ratings, and the country is so crippled that Honduras could probably launch a successful invasion. What do you do, Dana Perino? You make Alex Trebek jokes, obviously:
Q Yes, thank you, Dana. Two questions on American business. In the -
MS. PERINO: American business for 200. (Laughter.) I’ve always wanted to be on that show. Go ahead, Les, I’m sorry.But what was the question? Something about how America has been intentionally deindustrialized and wages have stagnated or dropped for all but the top 10% of earners and blue-collar union jobs have been eliminated leaving a vast working class with no hope for anything beyond lifelong credit-card debt and children who finish school unable to read?
Ha ha, of course not. Let’s run down the category JOURNALISTS ARE SELF-OBSESSED TWATS, after the jump.
Warning: This will probably make you want to throw up on your keyboard:
Q That’s all right. In the just released 2007 annual report of The Washington Post Company, Chairman Donald Graham writes, “The Washington Post circulation continued to fall, and a sharp drop in classified advertising raised questions about the future of our business.” Question, since The Washington Post is a leading part of one of this nation’s most important businesses, do you and the President share Don Graham’s expressed questioning about its future?
MS. PERINO: No. I think that the free press is alive and well.
Q By striking contrast, The New York Post is constantly gaining circulation. And my question, do you and the President believe that The Washington Post might also gain, rather than lose, if its editorial and reportorial writing were more like The New York Post rather than like The New York Times, which is also seriously losing circulation?
MS. PERINO: Maybe they ought to look at the tabloid format, I don’t know.
Q But how about the content, not just —
MS. PERINO: I’m not going to comment on that.
Thank you, Dana, for not further dignifying that.
True, the question was asked by Les Kinsolving — a sort of surrealist version of Jeff Gannon (in the softball conservative question sense, not the gay hooker having sex with senior administration officials sense). But we are simultaneously losing two wars on the other side of the planet and this nation is so utterly crippled that Costa Rica could successfully invade. Shouldn’t the rest of the White House Press Corps be obligated to “silence” anyone who makes Washington journalists look even worse than they already are?
Because Dana won’t answer the stupid leading question about the New York Post, we will. This is why it succeeds while the other Post fades:
The Post is entertaining; the Washington Post isn’t.
The Post is easy to read on the subway; the Washington Post isn’t.
The Post has a great sports section and a great gossip section; the Washington Post doesn’t
The Post is fairly well written and easy to read; the Washington Post is both abstruse and boring.
The Post is populist, the Washington Post is middlebrow, which is increasingly what passes for highbrow in this country, which means the audience is shrinking by the hour.
The Post is mostly read by people who don’t read news on the Internet; the Washington Post is marketed to people who only read news on the Internet.
Delusional Arrogance: Bush Forgives Gore For Election 2000

Mr. Bush made no comment when the Nobel was announced, and today, the two stood silently, and a bit awkwardly, during the photo opportunity.But the president did personally telephone Mr. Gore to extend the invitation, and the White House changed the date of the event so Mr. Gore could attend. Mr. Bush’s press secretary, Dana Perino, told reporters the president is willing to let bygones be bygones.
Perino: ‘Once a Bushie, always a Bushie.’
In an interview with the London Times Online, White House press secretary Dana Perino describes her loyalty to her boss: “Once a Bushie, always a Bushie.” She adds that history will judge Bush kindly: “The president once said popularity is a puff of air; it can be gone in an instant. What matters are principles.”
Karl Rove, also quoted for the piece, can’t understand what Perino doesn’t see in men like him, and why she married a British man:
Karl Rove, Bush’s former senior adviser, believes Englishmen have all the luck. “What has Peter got that the average American male like me doesn’t have? An accent? That’s not fair. One of our great American treasures has been taken by the British.”
Rove remains close to Perino, although he left the White House in August. “She has a really sharp mind, fine judgment and a great sense of humour. She is one of the most talented professionals I’ve seen,” he said.
Tony Snow

Tony Snow Named White House Press Secretary,2933,193176,00.html
Wednesday, April 26, 2006

WASHINGTON — President Bush named Tony Snow to be his White House press secretary on Wednesday in the latest round of staff changes in the West Wing.
"I am here to break some news," Bush told the White House press corps in the briefing room. "I have asked Tony Snow to be my press secretary. Tony already knows most of you. He agreed to take the job anyway."
Snow, former host of FOX News Talk's "The Tony Snow Show" and anchor of "FOX News Sunday," will replace outgoing spokesman Scott McClellan. Snow had been considering the White House's offer for the last several days.
“I am very excited and I can’t wait,” Snow said. “I want to thank you, Mr. President, for the honor.
"One of the things I want to do is make it clear that one of the reasons I took the job is not only because I believe in the president, but because believe it or not, I want to work with you," Snow said. "These are times that are going to be very challenging, we’ve got a lot of big issues ahead and we’ve got a lot of important things that all of us are going to be covering together."
Bush also praised outgoing spokesman McClellan, saying he will always be proud to call him “friend.”
“I’ve known Scott since he worked for me in Texas. We traveled our state together, we traveled our country together and we have traveled the world together. We have also made history together,” Bush said. “Scott should be enormously proud of his service to our nation in an incredibly difficult job. I will always be grateful to him.”
The talk radio host was given a clean bill of health by his oncologist Tuesday, following a CAT scan and other tests that were undertaken last Thursday. Sources said Snow was Bush's first choice, but he needed the all-clear from his doctors before he took the job. Snow is recovering from colon cancer.
Snow is the latest new player to join Bush's team in an administration shake-up that began with former Chief of Staff Andy Card's resignation, later followed by McClellan stepping aside. Josh Bolten took over Card's position last week. Snow said he expects to begin a transition into his new job the week of May 8.
Sources say Snow demanded more access to the Oval Office, wanting more power to shape policy than past press secretaries.
“He’s not afraid to express his own opinions. Those of you who have read his columns or listened to his radio show, he sometimes has disagreed with me. I asked him about those comments, and he said, ‘You should have heard what I said about the other guy,’” Bush said.
Some critics point to Snow's criticisms of the president's policies in the past as a cause for possible discord in the White House, but Martin Frost, a former Texas Democratic representative, said Snow will just have to tamp down on those in his new position.
"I think Tony obviously has credibility ... He's somebody that the press respects. He'll obviously have to tone things down a little bit if he's criticized the president on some past issues. He's the president's spokesman now and he can't differ with the president," Frost said.
Snow is a good choice for the position because he has a good reputation, Frost said.
"I think he was a good choice and I think it's good for the president to put somebody out with somebody like Tony who has credibility and let's hope that people can work together in Washington a little bit more," Frost said.
Lanny Davis, former White House counsel to President Bill Clinton, said Snow should not be compared to more divisive radio talk show hosts like Rush Limbaugh and Laura Ingraham.
“I hope that the Republicans don’t try to label him as a right-winger because he’s a conservative, but he’s a man of fairness and integrity. I think he will have a great deal of credibility on behalf of President Bush,” Davis said.
Democrats were quick to blast Bush’s pick, saying Snow is not the fresh start the administration needed.
"This is an interdepartmental move from one part of the conservative infrastructure to another that allows a darling of the right-wing to deliver the same misleading message, cherry-picked information and spin to the American people," said Karen Finney, Democratic National Committee spokeswoman.
Snow will be able to employ his humor in the new position, said Barbara Comstock, a former director of research and planning at the Republican National Committee.
"He has a great common sense, a great understanding of the issue. He is able to do it with good humor. We see him handle cancer with good humor, I think he can handle (NBC's) David Gregory with that same great humor, but also be somebody who would really communicate to the American people in a good common sense way," Comstock said. Gregory is known to aggressively challenge McClellan during daily press briefings.
Snow told FOX News' Bill O'Reilly last week that he was considering the job, but realized that it would come with a lot of responsibility, time away from his family, a "massive cut" in pay and other demands.
"There's no guarantee after you get out of the White House whether there's any landing place," Snow told O'Reilly.
Snow joined FOX News in 1996, when he launched the Sunday morning talk show that airs across the network. He then moved to FOX News Talks, the radio network, to be a morning show host. He still anchors "Weekend Live with Tony Snow" and contributes as a FOX News political analyst.
Snow, a former speechwriter for President George H.W. Bush, has interviewed Bush administration figures, including Vice President Dick Cheney, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, former Secretary of State Colin Powell and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. He has also interviewed congressional and world leaders.
In 1991, Snow took a sabbatical from his job as editorial page editor at The Washington Times to work in the White House for President George H.W. Bush. He first served as the deputy assistant to the president for communications and director of speechwriting, and later as deputy assistant to the president for media affairs.
Snow earned his bachelor’s degree in philosophy from Davidson College in Davidson, N.C. He grew up in Cincinnati and currently resides in Virginia with his wife, son and two daughters.
Fred Barnes, editor of The Weekly Standard and a FOX News contributor, said Snow would be a good fit with the White House press corps, will likely offer greater access to the president than McClellan did and that he will spend a lot of time with the president.
"He's a major media figure, he's someone people know all over the country," Barnes said. "I think what he'll bring is greater access to the president. ... I think reporters in the press room are going to see a press secretary who fights back very toughly."
"If I were to take a job like that, no, I wouldn’t come in there and try to beat them up. But on the other hand, you have to stand your ground, you have to know what the facts are and you’ve got to know your brief," Snow said.
Other prospective names to replace McClellan were former Pentagon spokeswoman Victoria Clark and Dan Senor, the former Coalition Provisional Authority spokesman in Iraq. Senor, now a contributor on FOX News, served the U.S. civil administrator in Iraq, Paul Bremer.
More changes could still be on the way in coming weeks, as Bolten shapes his team.
U.S. Trade Representative Rob Portman was nominated for Bolten's spot at the Office of Management and Budget, and more and bigger names could still come.
Bolten told staffers to let him know if they were planning on leaving the White House before the end of the year because he wanted to "re-energize the team." Shortly after that discussion and McClellan's resignation, the White House announced that longtime presidential adviser Karl Rove was also jumping ranks.
Just over a year ago, Rove was promoted to deputy chief of staff in charge of most White House policy coordination. That new portfolio came on top of his title as senior adviser and role of chief policy aide to Bush.
Rove is shifting from overseeing policy development to return to his forté as a political adviser, a switch that comes about eight months before the November midterm election. Rove's position as deputy chief of staff for policy goes to Joel Kaplan, current White House deputy budget director.
Saying he was "ready to move on" after more than two years as the president's mouthpiece, McClellan told reporters Tuesday that he didn't expect any announcements that day, but one could come none too soon for him.
“I’m doing my part to push it along,” McClellan joked to reporters, adding at a later briefing, “I’m still here for a little while.”
McClellan, who has served in the job since replacing Ari Fleischer in June 2003, plans to leave in about two weeks.
Last week, Bush said McClellan had performed a "job well done," and the two touched on their long relationship predating the presidency.
"I thought he handled his assignment with class, integrity," the president said. "It's going to be hard to replace Scott, but nevertheless he made the decision and I accepted it. One of these days, he and I are going to be rocking in chairs in Texas and talking about the good old days."
FOX News' Carl Cameron and Wendell Goler contributed to this report.

Tony Snow: Idiot or Liar?
Direct quote from Tony Snow tonight on Real Time with Bill Maher after drivelling on about how great it would be that, even though the president of Iraq won't shake hands with women, there would now be women serving in government in the country:
You didn't have girls in school when Saddam was there.
But Tony, if none of Iraq's women have gone to school for the last several decades, however would they end up with women qualified to serve in government?
Now either Tony Snow is an imbecile, which I somewhat doubt, he's woefully ignorant of something he should definitely know, or he told a boldfaced lie today in public. Does someone really have to detail all the ways in which his statement was wrong?
This, in addition to his other lie during the program suggesting that Valerie Plame was the person who sent Joseph Wilson on his trip to Niger, would send the ordinary person running for cover in embarassment at being so obviously wrong. But Snow will just take his sorry arse back to FOX News where he'll probably get a pat on the back.
And here, I just wanted a little light entertainment for the evening. To top it off, Maher mentioned that only 15% of the American public believes in evolution. Maher suggested changing the country's motto to "I'm with stupid," but considering that we're also armed and dengerous, I was thinking that something like "Abandon all hope, ye who enter" would be a better fit.
Even more Tony Snow falsehoods
Summary: Media Matters for America documented a number of Tony Snow's false or misleading claims when it was reported that he was on the shortlist for the position of White House press secretary. Following are numerous additional claims advanced by Snow in print and on the air.

Speculation that the Bush administration will tap Fox News' Tony Snow to succeed Scott McClellan as White House press secretary has intensified in recent days. The New York Daily News reported on April 20 that Snow "is emerging as the front-runner to replace McClellan," and an April 21 New York Times article disclosed that he is "in negotiations for the job." Snow is a syndicated columnist, host of Fox News Radio's The Tony Snow Show, and co-hosts Fox News' Weekend Live with Brian Wilson.
Media Matters for America documented a number of Snow's false or misleading claims when it was reported that he was on the shortlist. Following are numerous additional claims advanced by Snow in print and on the air.
Warrantless domestic surveillance
Suggested Democrats objected to Bush's warrantless spying because they think the "government should not be able to listen to Al Qaeda": While speaking to Fox News political analyst Bob Beckel, Snow suggested that "Democratic opposition" to the warrantless domestic surveillance program arose from the belief that "the government should not be able to listen to Al Qaeda people talking to American citizens." Further, Snow claimed that the lack of additional domestic terrorist attacks was "a sign of [the program's] success." As Media Matters has noted, this false claim was first made by White House senior adviser Karl Rove during an address to the Republican National Committee at its winter meeting and was quickly spread as a talking point by numerous conservatives. But, contrary to Rove and Snow's assertion, no national Democratic figure -- member of the Democratic leadership in Congress, Democratic governor, or Democratic Party official -- has said that the United States should not be intercepting calls suspected to involve Al Qaeda. Moreover, Snow's claims about the program's effectiveness are not supported by the evidence.
Claimed that Carter and Bush both authorized warrantless surveillance of U.S. citizens: Snow asserted that former President Jimmy Carter had "signed an executive order that authorized the attorney general to approve electronic surveillance to acquire foreign intelligence information." Snow went on to claim that this represented "exactly what the president is doing." But Snow ignored a crucial difference: Carter, unlike Bush, prohibited such surveillance of U.S. citizens. Indeed, Carter's order specifically required the attorney general to certify that the surveillance will not contain "the contents of any communication to which a United States person is a party." [Fox News' Weekend Live, 12/24/05]
Claimed that the FISA probable cause standard kept the FBI from inspecting Moussaoui's laptop: Snow said that FBI agents in possession of Zacarias Moussaoui's laptop "decided not to go ahead and look at the contents because they ... had no definite proof that the guy was a terrorist" and, therefore, couldn't meet the probable cause standard necessary for a warrant under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). But Snow ignored the bipartisan finding by the Senate Judiciary Committee that the investigators had possessed sufficient evidence but that FBI attorneys had applied a too-stringent standard for establishing probable, preventing the investigators from petitioning the court for authorization. [Fox News' Weekend Live, 12/24/05]
Claimed that 2002 FISA review court opinion allowed for warrantless domestic surveillance: Snow stated that a 2002 opinion (In re: Sealed Case No. 02-001) by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court of Review "says the president's inherent authority allows him" to eavesdrop on the international communications of U.S. residents. But the claim misrepresents the 2002 decision, in which the court said only that the president has inherent authority to conduct foreign intelligence surveillance without a warrant. The court did not rule on the question of whether a president has the constitutional authority to spy on people in the United States without a warrant, in apparent violation of FISA.
CIA leak investigation
Falsely claimed that Wilson said Cheney had sent him to Niger: Snow claimed in his July 15, 2005, column that former ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV said he "had been dispatched by [Vice President] Dick Cheney to conduct a secret mission to Niger." In fact, Wilson never claimed that Cheney sent him on the trip. To the contrary, he wrote in his July 6, 2003, op-ed in The New York Times that the CIA requested he go on the mission "so they could provide a response" to questions raised by Cheney regarding allegations that Iraq had attempted to purchase uranium from the African country.
Claimed that Intel Committee "discovered" that Plame recommended Wilson for the Niger mission: In his July 15, 2005, column, Snow further claimed that the Senate Intelligence Committee, in its 2004 "Report on the U.S. Intelligence Community's Prewar Intelligence Assessments on Iraq," "discovered that Wilson's wife, Valerie Plame, did indeed recommend him for the trip" to Niger. But the committee did not officially conclude that she had been responsible for Wilson's assignment. Media Matters previously noted that Snow had falsely asserted that Wilson said his wife "wasn't covert for six years" before she was exposed as a CIA operative by syndicated columnist Robert Novak.
TerrorismFalsely accused Clinton of rejecting bin Laden offer: Snow advanced the discredited claim that Sudan had offered to "hand over" Osama bin Laden to the United States in the 1990s, but that the Clinton administration responded, "Nah, don't want to do it." But this claim is derived from an August 11, 2002, article on right-wing news website NewsMax that distorted a speech Clinton made in 2002. Indeed, the bipartisan 9-11 Commission found (page 3) "no reliable evidence to support" the claim that Sudan offered bin Laden to the United States and determined that, based on Clinton's testimony, in "wrongly recounting a number of press stories he had read," Clinton had "misspoken" in his 2002 speech. [Fox News' Weekend Live, 2/25/06] Claimed botched CIA attack on Ayman Al-Zawahiri "was a success": Snow claimed the January 13 CIA drone attack in western Pakistan targeting top Al Qaeda official al-Zawahiri "was a success." Further, Snow and guest Richard Miniter both claimed the attack "knocked off four to five key Al Qaeda" figures. In fact, the strike reportedly killed at least 18 civilians, sparking widespread Pakistani condemnation and protests. Initially, U.S. officials claimed that, at minimum, some high level Al Qaeda officials were among those killed in the attacks, but this claim was never officially confirmed. A January 20 Financial Times report (subscription required) noted: "Pakistani intelligence official confirmed the identities [of alleged Al Qaeda officals] were made on the basis of intelligence information and not 'facts gathered through DNA tests or any other means.' " [Fox News' Weekend Live, 1/21/06]
Deemed Gitmo "the most humane prisoner-of-war facility in history": In a June 15, 2005, column, Snow wrote that the Pentagon's military detention facility at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, "may be the most humane prisoner-of-war facility in history."
ImmigrationCalled immigrants rights protestors "idiots": In response to Republican strategist Linda Chavez's claim that the flying of Mexican flags by Mexican-Americans at a 1994 protest led to the passage of California's controversial Proposition 187, Snow said, "So, to quote the famous movie Napoleon Dynamite --'idiots.' " [Fox News' Weekend Live, 4/1/06]
Scott McClellan

Did Bush ask Scott McClellan to lie -- or didn't he?

Former press secretary Scott McClellan says someone in the Bush administration made him spread "false information" about Plame-gate to the press. Time for Congress to ask tough questions.
Editor's note: This article has been updated since it was first published, based on McClellan's publisher's statement here that McClellan's book will not say that Bush knowingly misled him about the Plame leak.
By Joe Conason

Nov. 21, 2007 Scott McClellan, the former Bush press secretary famed for his robotic stylings, repetitive sophistry and rejection of candor, has at last turned on the powerful men who made him. Evidently he now claims to have grown weary of playing the patsy for their crimes and misdemeanors.
In a short, tantalizing excerpt from his forthcoming memoir posted on the Web site of Public Affairs Press, McClellan complains that he was duped into misleading the public and the media. Although the excerpt does not mention Valerie Plame, it clearly refers to her whispered exposure as a CIA agent by ranking aides to President Bush and Vice President Cheney:
The most powerful leader in the world had called upon me to speak on his behalf and help restore credibility he lost amid the failure to find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. So I stood at the White house briefing room podium in front of the glare of the klieg lights for the better part of two weeks and publicly exonerated two of the senior-most aides in the White House: Karl Rove and Scooter Libby.
There was one problem. It was not true.
I had unknowingly passed along false information. And five of the highest ranking officials in the administration were involved in my doing so: Rove, Libby, the vice President, the President's chief of staff, and the President himself.
McClellan is not the first insider to try to escape disgrace by expressing disappointment, and presumably he won't be the last. All such tittle-tattle comes too late to restore the honor of the confessors or repair the damage done. His book, "What Happened: Inside the Bush White House and What's Wrong With Washington," proffers advice on government and politics that we probably can live without.
By press time today, he had called his own probity into question again, in fact, when his publisher partially retracted the incriminating excerpt in an interview with Bloomberg News.
According to Peter Osnos of Public Affairs, McClellan didn't mean to say that Bush deliberately lied to him about Libby's and Rove's involvement in the Plame leak. "[Bush] told him something that wasn't true, but the president didn't know it wasn't true," said Osnos. "The president told him what he thought to be the case." How McClellan knows what Bush knew at that time -- let alone how Osnos knows -- remains to be explained. (Perhaps the former press secretary would speak more clearly and less cutely under oath, as his predecessor did in the Plame grand jury.)
But despite this apparent stunt, McClellan's recollections have value because he reminds us of important business that Congress has yet to complete: namely, a full investigation of what Bush and Cheney knew about the outing of Plame, a veteran operative working to stop the spread of nuclear weapons, and whether they indeed ordered that reckless act.
Highly suggestive information about Cheney's role in the scandal has long been available in the public domain, which once encouraged speculation that he would be indicted by special counsel Patrick Fitzgerald. Plame was plainly a victim of Cheney's vendetta against her husband, former Ambassador Joe Wilson, who had protested the lies at the center of the president's argument for war against Iraq.
Yet Libby took the fall, leaving Fitzgerald bereft of sufficient evidence to prosecute the crime's suspected mastermind. After Libby was convicted and the president commuted his prison sentence, Bush declared that the case had "run its course" and that he no longer felt bound to find out what his subordinates had done and punish them, as he had initially promised.
The Libby commutation silenced the only potential stool pigeon who could implicate his bosses. Rove resigned without penalty, and Cheney sits in his office, mulling an attack on Iran. The Washington press corps, which had brought so little investigative energy to bear on the Plame case (except to speculate idly and stupidly about whether she was actually a covert officer), accepted Bush's facile closure. So did most members of the new Democratic Congress.
But the damning questions remain unanswered.
Those questions date back to McClellan's first remarks on the subject, when he famously said that the president would dismiss any official determined to be responsible for leaking Plame's identity. "If anyone in this administration was involved in it, they would no longer be in this administration. There's been nothing, absolutely nothing, brought to our attention to suggest any White House involvement." Sworn testimony eventually proved that the leakers included Libby, Rove, former Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage, and McClellan's predecessor, former press secretary Ari Fleischer. The same raft of evidence also indicated that Cheney orchestrated Libby's leak to New York Times reporter Judith Miller.
Not only did Cheney oversee the activities of his chief of staff, but he actually ordered McClellan to "clear" Libby in a press briefing on the case. A note in Cheney's own handwriting, explaining why he insisted that the White House press staff should defend Libby just as vigorously as Rove, was introduced as an exhibit at trial.
And that note, echoed in the excerpt from McClellan's book, implicated Bush in the coverup.
Cheney's furious scribbling said, "not going to protect one staffer + sacrifice the guy this Pres. asked to stick his head in the meat grinder because of the incompetence of others." The allusion to "incompetence" was a nasty dig at Rove, whom the vice president evidently blamed for the clumsy execution of their conspiracy. Though Cheney had crossed out the words "this Pres." and replaced them with the phrase "that was," his reference to Bush was both legible and incriminating.
What did Cheney mean when he wrote those words? Why did he write that "this Pres." had asked Libby to "stick his head in the meat grinder"? What did Bush know about the extent of the vice president's involvement? When did he discover what Cheney, Libby, Rove and Fleischer had done? Or was he in on the scheme from the beginning?
Several months ago I noted that both Congress and the press ought to ask the president and the vice president to release the transcripts of their interviews with Fitzgerald and his staff. Those documents remain highly relevant. The special prosecutor interviewed the president and the vice president during the summer of 2004, according to published reports. Even if Bush was not under oath during those sessions, to which he was accompanied by private counsel, both he and Cheney were still obligated by law to answer the prosecutor's questions honestly. It seems most unlikely that they did, if McClellan's accusation is to be believed.
Yesterday Sen. Chris Dodd, D-Conn., demanded that Attorney General Michael Mukasey immediately open a new investigation of the Plame case. Calling the book excerpt "very disturbing," Dodd said, "If in fact the President of the United of States knowingly instructed his chief spokesman to mislead the American people, there can be no more fundamental betrayal of the public trust."
To demonstrate his independence, Dodd added, the nation's new chief law enforcement officer must seek to "determine the facts of this case, the extent of any cover-up and determine what the President knew and when he knew it." He's right. So when will the rest of the Democrats -- and honest Republicans -- speak up?

Ari Fleischer

Ari Fleischer's View From the Briefing RoomBy Howard KurtzWashington Post Staff WriterTuesday, March 1, 2005; Page C01
Day after day, Ari Fleischer stood at the White House podium and insisted the administration knew that Saddam Hussein had chemical and biological weapons.
Is he embarrassed about that?

"I said what the government was thinking at the time," says the former presidential press secretary. "I accurately articulated what we believed."
But since that turned out to be untrue, wasn't his own credibility tarnished? "Everyone recognizes the press secretary is not the finder of facts."
Fleischer's book, "Taking Heat," is out today, and while his style isn't to smack people around, he is the first Bush administration insider to offer a sustained indictment of the media. White House correspondents, he says, are mostly liberal. Mostly negative. Mostly opposed to tax cuts. Mostly unwilling to give his president a break. Mostly interested in whipping up conflict.
He portrays journalists as good human beings who, sad to say, are biased and defensive. Even when ripping Hearst columnist Helen Thomas -- "I don't care for her politics one little bit" -- Fleischer hastens to add: "Helen and I could go at each other in the briefing room but in private we really like each other."
His technique is to publish some of her questions:
"Does the president think that his hands-off policy has contributed in any way to the hopelessness and the rising violence in the Middle East?"
"Ari, does the president think the Palestinians have a right to resist 35 years of brutal military occupation and suppression?"
"My follow-up is, why does he want to drop bombs on innocent Iraqis?"
Says Thomas: "The questions I asked should have been asked by 10 more reporters in the run-up to war, which proved that everything they said was not true." She says Fleischer was not only a spokesman for the president but "owed credibility to the American people. I'm sure he got mad at me. He had to defend what was indefensible, in my opinion."
Fleischer had questioned whether Jeff Gannon, the conservative reporter who turned out to have an X-rated past, worked for a real news outlet before agreeing to call on him. But there are plenty of oddballs in residence, the former spokesman says. He cites radio host Lester Kinsolving, who asked such questions as: "Does President Bush believe that his predecessor President Jefferson was a child-molesting rapist or not?"
"The briefing room has a long tradition of being home to colorful characters of the left and right," Fleischer says. "It'd be easier on the press secretary if those characters were gone. But I don't think that's the right thing to do."
Fleischer was a longtime GOP spokesman on Capitol Hill who joined Bush's 2000 campaign as
press secretary, a job he held in the White House for 2 1/2 years until succumbing to "burnout." He has returned to his home town in Westchester County, N.Y., with his wife, Becki, a former White House aide, and their 9-month-old daughter. Now he makes speeches for cash and advises corporations.
Rather than hurl adjectives about media bias, Fleischer inundates the reader with examples. Two days after Bill Clinton took office, Dan Rather reported: "Today with the stroke of a pen, President Clinton delivered on his campaign promise to cancel several anti-abortion regulations of the Reagan-Bush years." When Bush rescinded the Clinton order, Rather said: "This was President Bush's first day at the office, and he did something to quickly please the right flank in his party." (ABC had a similar shift in tone.)
Fleischer ties this episode to the botched Rather story last year on Bush's National Guard service. "If you happen to privately be on one side," he says, "it's easier to accept facts that support your side than accept arguments that support the other side. . . . It's not out of malice. It's human nature."
Unbalanced labeling also makes him angry. A New York Times story calls the Heritage Foundation a "conservative research group," but calls the Citizens for Tax Justice -- dubbed liberal by other papers -- "a nonprofit research and advocacy group" funded "in part by labor unions." A Washington Post story on a Bush proposal to make fetuses eligible for health insurance describes opposition from "women's groups and abortion rights advocates," while the measure appears "aimed at satisfying social conservatives." Writes Fleischer: "Why does the Republican side get an ideological label while the other side has the universally appealing label 'women's groups'?"
Even when the news is good, Fleischer argues, journalists are "trained" to end many of their stories on a "down note." After the third straight month of job growth last year, NBC said: "The job market, finally gaining momentum. But is it enough to put over 8 million unemployed Americans back to work?"
Fleischer says that networks, far more than newspapers, are reluctant to correct mistakes. He called ABC's Peter Jennings to complain about a story that said the anthrax sent to Tom Daschle's U.S. Senate office in 2001 had characteristics that made it "a trademark of Saddam Hussein's biological weapons program." After Fleischer complained for six days there was no such evidence, ABC backpedaled in a follow-up report.
The former spokesman admits to a couple of blunders but defends his style of rarely conceding an inch, even in background conversations with reporters.
When correspondents asked about the growing split between Colin Powell and Vice President Cheney over the impending Iraq war, Fleischer said things like "This is much ado about no difference," even though he admits he was carefully couching his denials. Still, he chides the press for being fixated on internal conflicts.
Fleischer takes a very literal view of his job. He recalls telling NBC's Brian Williams the day after the 2001 terrorist attacks that there had been a threat against Air Force One. That turned out not to be true, based on the misuse of a code word by a White House official. But for all that Bush, Cheney and he knew at the time, Fleischer writes, "the threat was real."
In the same vein, he once complained to CBS's Bill Plante that "you're ignoring the tremendous number of success stories that have taken place inside Iraq."
"What success stories?" Plante shot back. They later argued privately about whether the media's coverage was too negative.
Plante says that "the continuing daily death tolls," then as now, were the big story. "I thought Ari as press secretary stuck very closely to the White House line, toed it very carefully," he says. "There are ways to address questions like this without being disloyal. For the most part, he was reluctant to do so."
Pressed about his penchant for robotic spin, Fleischer says both he and White House reporters have become performers since the White House began allowing the daily sessions to be televised: "The modern-day briefing room has lost a lot of its value. The press is playing its aggressive role and the press secretary is playing a defensive role. The press focuses on, 'Isn't everything wrong?' and the press secretary, myself included, focuses on, 'Isn't everything good?' "
He says Bush reads some newspaper stories but only occasionally watches network and cable news, presuming that most of it would be negative. "He's keenly interested in what the press is thinking but is not consumed by it," Fleischer says.
"Taking Heat" makes clear that Fleischer is a true believer who got a thrill from such things as playing catch with the president on the South Lawn. The book does contain one hint of disagreement with the boss, though, when Fleischer, two weeks after the Sept. 11 attacks, told the president during a limo ride that the issue of terrorism "was more complicated than 'good versus evil.' "
"If this isn't good versus evil, what is?" Bush replied, adding that Ronald Reagan didn't go to Berlin and tell Mikhail Gorbachev to take a few bricks out of that wall.
"The president has a morally declarative speaking style that makes millions of people nervous," Fleischer says. "It also makes millions of people inspired."
Why didn't he include more behind-the-scenes material from the West Wing?
"I could have made a lot more money if I'd decided to write about clashes, or criticize the president, or even criticize the press more," says Fleischer, "but I chose not to."
When asked about Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney’s questions about the official 9/11 story, Ari Fleischer, White House Press Secretary stated, “All I can tell you is the congresswoman must be running for the hall of fame of the Grassy Knoll Society.” Fleischer did not respond to McKinney’s actual questions about possible foreknowledge of the attacks, instead he connected her to a completely unrelated topic (JFK) and laughed the whole thing off.
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