Mr. [Former] Press Secretary

Listen to this 'Talk of the Nation' topic

When he was President Bush's press secretary, Scott McClellan fielded questions about the war in Iraq, the administration's response to Hurricane Katrina, and the leak of former CIA operative Valerie Plame Wilson's identity to the press.

For months, McClellan denied that anyone in the White House compromised her security. Over and over again, he said that he would have more to say after the investigation was complete. Well, it seems that time has come. In What Happened: Inside the Bush White House and Washington's Culture of Deception, McClellan tries to set the record straight.

Have you read his book? What did you think of his story? Do you believe it? Is it too little, too late?

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.

Out of the bubble of self-delusion, I think the man has made the decision to live with himself at some peace for the rest of his life.

Sent by Charles | 1:59 PM | 6-4-2008

How are we now to believe Mr McClellan? He was so intrenched in the system of lies and deception while working as press secretary. I think his book is even more deception and Mr McClellan wants to collect some cash while at it. The fact that he now pleads some naivety as to the workings of his department is laughable. Even i could see their pathetic M O just watching from a public perspective. Mr McClellan should tell the WHOLE truth or none at all. Too little too late indeed!

Sent by Ian Herman | 2:00 PM | 6-4-2008

So, if Dick Cheney offers to take you hunting any time soon, will you accept?

Sent by Bill R. | 2:14 PM | 6-4-2008

So Scott,
To the best of your knowledge, exactly WHY did Prez. Bush have such a strong urge to go to war with Iraq?

Sent by Charles Hymes | 2:15 PM | 6-4-2008

There is a reason minons are underlings. They lack the emotional fortitude to ride out the heavy waves and then look to cover their butt, even if it means turning on the old Boss in servitude of the New.

Sent by RF Kidde | 2:15 PM | 6-4-2008

I am interested in more names and actions.
Who are some of the big names who received talking points from the White House, and are they still receiving them? I've often had the feeling that Rush, Hannity, O'Reilly and the like...really didn't think with their own head, and that they were basically liars for money. Is this basically true?
Are they determined that we create another distraction such as a war with Iran?

Sent by David Beckwith | 2:17 PM | 6-4-2008

The official White House talking point on this book is "We are puzzled by all this." Hasn't every word of this book been carefully vetted by officials prior to publication?

The talking points continue from the other direction. Scott says he's 'surprised' at the administration's vitriol and personal attacks in response to this book - has he forgotten the attacks directed at everyone else who spoke out through books before him?

It kind of seems like we're watching the same old dance...

Sent by Jazz Tigan | 2:19 PM | 6-4-2008

As Thomas Jefferson said, "All tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for people of good conscience to remain silent." Sadly, Scott McClellan was one of those who remained silent when he might have helped stop the tyranny of Bush and Cheney.

Sent by Bruce Foster | 2:22 PM | 6-4-2008

Isn't this book what you would expect from a politcal party that is trying to distance itself from an unpopular president. For that matter isn't this book what you would expect from a politcal party that is loosing its majority? If they become the minority they would not want to be on the recieving end of there current policies.

Sent by Travis Butler | 2:27 PM | 6-4-2008

Mr. McClellan is complaininig about partisan politics. But what is stunning to me is that on this NPR program you guys perpetuate the "partisan" problem by seperating callers into "democrat" and "republican" callers thereby perpetuating the problems...

Sent by Jane | 2:28 PM | 6-4-2008

Mr. McClellan,

Given that you participated in the morally reprehensible deception of the administration and now stand to profit from it, HOW MUCH OF THE MONEY YOU ARE RECEIVING ARE YOU DONATING TO THE FAMILIES OF THE SOLDIERS WHO DIED BECAUSE OF YOUR PARTICIPATION?!!! To just say "I made a mistake" and go on to make money and talk like you are holier than thou continues the behavior of not taking seriously your behaviors and actions during you job tenure. While it always better to come clean when you realize it, it is morally wrong to profit from doing so.

Sent by Larry Newhouse | 2:28 PM | 6-4-2008

Question:
Did anyone look at the neuroscience of denial? It matters in belief as well. The President's good intentions matter little when he has shut down science and medicine to the degree he has.

Sent by Sherrie | 2:28 PM | 6-4-2008

any comments on this admin. separating the cost and horror of the war from public opinion

Sent by toby | 2:30 PM | 6-4-2008

Scott, hy don't you apologize to us, the American people, for your part in misleading us for 3 years?

Sent by L Browning | 2:30 PM | 6-4-2008

My father who is deceased grew up with George Reedy, press secretary to President Johnson. He told me he resigned working for President Johnson due to his disagreement the policy of the Viet Nam war. I do not know the time-line of his resignation; I was too young. History repeats itself if we fail to learn from past. When will we ever learn?

Sent by Wendy | 2:31 PM | 6-4-2008

Once again another Bush employee pretending to care about the American public by pimping a book for the sole purpose of making money -- greed is the main problem with this administration and now we get more from his press secretary. Question: are you going to donate any of your profits to the American soldiers families who died in this illegal war? Probably not. Your whole presentation is a sham and I think what you and the Bush Admin have done qualifies you for treason charges. This show is insulting to the American people. I am beyond shocked at how you can pimp a book for profit when this war, which you helped to lie about has not only cost us billions of dollars, but many american lives.

Sent by Donnasue Jacobi | 2:32 PM | 6-4-2008

Can Scott comment on Don Rumsfeld? Particularly his shaping of the war propaganda versus George Bush's role.

Sent by Larry Imhoff | 2:32 PM | 6-4-2008

When I watched you perform your duties as press secretary, I never felt like you were comfortable with the press. Were you hesitant to discuss matters when you were active in the job? You sound so much more comfortable today than you did while assigned to the job.

Sent by Ardis J. Pierce | 2:33 PM | 6-4-2008

Mr. McClellan:
Listening to your responses on this program today, it seems as if you are still spinning around the truth avoiding the fact that you lied.
David from Philadelphia

Sent by David | 2:35 PM | 6-4-2008

What is Mr. McClellan's response to the opinion campaign by Moveon.org that he, because of his role in promulgating the Iraq war, donate all earnings from his book to benefit the casualties of that war, e.g. veterans' groups for the injured and the families of the dead?

Sent by Martin Rosenberg | 2:36 PM | 6-4-2008

The Downing Street Memos were official British documents that stated that the Bush administration "fixed"the intelligence to go to war. You seem to verify this. Should the people responsible for the brave young soldiers who have died bacause of this deception be held responsible either through impeachment or other legal means.

Sent by jeff jacobs | 2:36 PM | 6-4-2008

Mr. McClellan seems to be looking for absolution - having participated vigorously in bitter partisanship as WH press secretary he now decries it as "what Washington does to you". Talk about being in permanent campaign mode - he and the administration came to office campaigning as outsiders who would change the Washington culture; after eight years in office and six years of a compliant Republican Congress, they did nothing to change the tone and in fact made it worse. Now, out of office, change has again become a priority?! This is similar to Karl Rove pontificating about the agenda Republicans shoulddevelop and adopt, what was he doing for the last several years in the WH, when he had the best opportunity himself!

Sent by Amit Srivastava | 2:37 PM | 6-4-2008

It seems to me that the launch of the Iraq war and the forced withdrawal of Blix and the UN nuclear inspectors prior to that was timed to squelch them: that Blix & co were only weeks away from making strong statements that they could not find WMD, and that was why, specifically, US driven events unflded WHEN they did.

Your take on that Scott?

Sent by Ralph W | 2:37 PM | 6-4-2008

It seems to me that your argument here is that you and others are "caught up in a bubble" or "caught up in partisan politics" and thus are not able to think independently and thus have minimal responsibility for the consequences of your behavior. Is this in fact what you are arguing... that Bush has no real responsibility for what he chooses to do or not do, no responsibility for choosing to only listen to those who agree with him?

Sent by Kathy Koenig | 2:38 PM | 6-4-2008

This professional had the opportunity to do the honorable thing, quit and tell the Nation what was going on, when he could have influenced things and probably save some lives. He did not. He betrayed the trust of the people he came to serve, at a terrible cost, and he should be told that again and again, while counting his money. If you listen to his convoluted logic, you have to deduce that "temporary" campaign mode is ok, but the culprit is the "permanent" nature of this culture of spin and more spin and more spin until nobody knows what's true and what's not.
Didn't anybody in Washington and in the media take a logic course when they were young? Does nobody remember what Ad Hominem and Tu Quo Quo means anymore?

Sent by Doron Pely | 2:40 PM | 6-4-2008

Welcome to the Main Stream, Scott . But what took you so long??

Sent by jeanne Thompson | 2:42 PM | 6-4-2008

Scott,
You are a smart man, you had to have known that you are lying to the American public numerous times. You may say it was just a case of misunderstanding, or partial truths, but you did the nation a great disservice during your time in front of the mic. At least you are tyring make up for it. Now, only if you donated every dollar earned from this book to a worthy cause, we might start to respect you again.

Sent by Chris Wallace | 3:14 PM | 6-4-2008

I have heard Scott McClellan interviewed several times since the book came out. I didn't like him as Press Secretary because he seemed to be such a puppet of the administration, so I was unsure what to make of his new persona.
Your live broadcast today made me see him in a totally different light - as someone who is intelligent, insighful and not ashamed to take responsibility for his actions.
Thanks.

Sent by Claire Lamberth | 3:18 PM | 6-4-2008

I haven't read Scott McClellan's book (of which he seems quite proud), but I listened to him on Talk of the Nation today and apart from whether or not what he "reports" in his book is accurate, factual,(and most important) whether it is the whole story, he wants us to believe that he is continuing to do good by the country. Huh?

As Neal pointed out, Scott is never off message. The message is?: What a swell guy and good citizen he is, and, of all the books exposing the corrupt (and prossibly criminal) Bush administration (most of which according to Scott haver had no impact on the Matrix of Washington DC), his book will change the world! Mostly, he wants us to know that he was sucked in (and suckered) by the D.C. Matrix, but that he pulled himself out by getting back in touch with his do-good Centrist political core.

I know Scott believes it, but not for a minute do I. He didn't sucker me when he was press secretary and he doesn't sucker me now. What he did was despicable; his book of "revelations" comes too late (years after many of us suspected already knew what was going on). He has not redeemed himself by writing this book (if that is indeed his intention). The book is his vehicle for escaping blame and personal responsibility (totally in character) with his various irresponsible excuses regarding the bubble of the D.C. Matrix, with its "gangsta" culture of loyalty, conformity, thuggery and lies. McClleland is a paragon of the inauthentic existence. Pathetic.

I for one won't line his pockets by buying his book.

Sent by Jan Konigsberg | 5:47 PM | 6-4-2008

P.S. I don't understand NPR's policy regarding blogged comments (reviewed, EDITED, not necessarily posted. . . it strikes me as contrary to the spirit of blogging. . . just let my people post.

Sent by Jan Konigsberg | 6:03 PM | 6-4-2008

There seems to be increased reluctance in the country to speak out on issues for fear of retributions or possibly ending up in in Gitmo.

My question is whether you have received any direct or veiled threats of retribution from the government or any of your former colleagues? Or even if you have not, do you look over your shoulder any more carefully since the book brouhaha hit the media?

Sent by Sam in Massachusetts | 8:26 PM | 6-4-2008

Scott McClellan's experience in talking points helped him to deflect the questions, but he didn't really illuminate either the White House processes that led to such terrible mistakes nor the management style of his old boss, President Bush. He comes off as a rather nice fellow who just isn't too bright and was treated as a flunky in the Bush White House.

Sent by JKB | 9:52 AM | 6-5-2008

Support comes from: