07/12/2005: WTF is up with the White House Press Corps?
They've suddenly grown testicles and a spine. Air America (Morning Sedition and Al Franken) has been playing tapes of White House Spokesdroid Scott McClellan's press conferences yesterday, and apparently the White House Press Corps has been going after "poor Scotty" for the contradictions between earlier statements he's made about Karl Rove's sterling ethics and complete non-involvement in the l'affaire Plame, and Matt Cooper's email stating that Rove told him about
Valerie Plame Joe Wilson's wife:
Q: Does the president stand by his pledge to fire anyone involved in a leak of the name of a CIA operative?Unfortunately, the bare transcript doesn't give you an idea of the reporter's obviously rising level of frustration with McClellan's weaseling.
MCCLELLAN: I appreciate your question. I think your question is being asked related to some reports that are in reference to an ongoing criminal investigation. The criminal investigation that you reference is something that continues at this point.
And as Iíve previously stated, while that investigation is ongoing, the White House is not going to comment on it.
The president directed the White House to cooperate fully with the investigation. And as part of cooperating fully with the investigation, we made a decision that we werenít going to comment on it while it is ongoing.
Q: I actually wasnít talking about any investigation. But in June of 2004, the president said that he would fire anybody who was involved in this leak to the press about information. I just wanted to know: Is that still his position?
MCCLELLAN: Yes, but this question is coming up in the context of this ongoing investigation, and thatís why I said that our policy continues to be that weíre not going to get into commenting on an ongoing criminal investigation from this podium.
The prosecutors overseeing the investigation had expressed a preference to us that one way to help the investigation is not to be commenting on it from this podium....
Q: Scott, if I could point out: Contradictory to that statement, on September 29th of 2003, while the investigation was ongoing, you clearly commented on it. You were the first one to have said that if anybody from the White House was involved, they would be fired. And then, on June 10th of 2004, at Sea Island Plantation, in the midst of this investigation, when the president made his comments that, yes, he would fire anybody from the White House who was involved. So why have you commented on this during the process of the investigation in the past, but now youíve suddenly drawn a curtain around it under the statement of, 'Weíre not going to comment on an ongoing investigation'?
MCCLELLAN: Again, John, I appreciate the question. I know you want to get to the bottom of this. No one wants to get to the bottom of it more than the president of the United States. And I think the way to be most helpful is to not get into commenting on it while it is an ongoing investigation. And thatís something that the people overseeing the investigation have expressed a preference that we follow.
And thatís why weíre continuing to follow that approach and that policy. Now, I remember very well what was previously said. And, at some point, I will be glad to talk about it, but not until after the investigation is complete.
Q: So could I just ask: When did you change your mind to say that it was OK to comment during the course of an investigation before, but now itís not?
MCCLELLAN: Well, I think maybe you missed what I was saying in reference to Terryís question at the beginning. There came a point, when the investigation got under way, when those overseeing the investigation asked that it would be ó or said that it would be their preference that we not get into discussing it while it is ongoing.
I think thatís the way to be most helpful to help them advance the investigation and get to the bottom of it.
Q: Scott, can I ask you this: Did Karl Rove commit a crime?
MCCLELLAN: Again, David, this is a question relating to a ongoing investigation, and you have my response related to the investigation. And I don't think you should read anything into it other than: We're going to continue not to comment on it while it's ongoing.
Q: Do you stand by your statement from the fall of 2003, when you were asked specifically about Karl and Elliot Abrams and Scooter Libby, and you said, "I've gone to each of those gentlemen, and they have told me they are not involved in this"?
MCCLELLAN: And if you will recall, I said that, as part of helping the investigators move forward on the investigation, we're not going to get into commenting on it. That was something I stated back near that time as well.
Q: Scott, this is ridiculous. The notion that you're going to stand before us, after having commented with that level of detail, and tell people watching this that somehow you've decided not to talk. You've got a public record out there. Do you stand by your remarks from that podium or not?
MCCLELLAN: I'm well aware, like you, of what was previously said. And I will be glad to talk about it at the appropriate time. The appropriate time is when the investigation...
McClellan's being compared in some circles to Richard Nixon's famous press weasel, Ron Ziegler. With good reason.
I really like Pete Vonder Haar's comments:
I understand many people are rah rah-ing the Press Corps and their dogged pursuit of the truth about Karl Rove's involvement in Valerie Plame's outing as an undercover agent. We in Texas have known about Mr. Rove's capacity for scumbaggery and black bag politcal ops for some time (anyone heard from Mark White lately?), but don't let that take away from the fact that a number of people across our great nation would love to see that sneaky little bastard go down in flames (even if this all seems like waaaaaay too much of a hanging curveball for my liking).
But let's not be too hasty forgiving the White House Press Corps, that bastion of Administration apologia for the last five years, for playing yes-men to the White House's unending stream of BS about yellowcake uranium and Iraq's connection to 9-11. It might've been nice if they'd grown a spine some time before March, 2003.
Len on 07.12.05 @ 01:43 PM CST