Saturday, October 04, 2003

White House Press Briefing, 10/2 

The best place for information on the leak and other administration problems still is the daily White House briefing, where you can find tons of interesting nuggets and framing strategies.

On October 2, the main focus of the briefing still was the leaking of the name of Ambassador Wilson's wife to six media people, of which only Robert Novak bit and ran in his "Washington Post" column in July.

In a question to Scott McClellan, one reporter asked whether CIA Director Tenet or anyone else during the period of July to late September communicated to the President or anyone on his staff that this leak was crime and they wanted it investigated by the White House. McClellan's answer: "No, I'm not aware of any such conversation." The "no" portion of his answer could lead one to believe that a conversation never took place. However, the qualification that he was not aware of the conversation means just that--he does not know whether one took place or not. Press Secretaries often are excluded from conversations that would put them in a difficult position during a press conversation. It allows the press secretary to honestly answer a question.

Then there is this question:

How the White House deals with the press, in giving information, ever since this "leakgate" situation has happened?

This is something the administration does not want to happen. By attaching the "gate" to the leaking, it equates in the public consciousness the abuse of power and the violation of law that occurred during the Nixon presidency and Watergate. During the Clinton administration, there was "Filegate," "Travelgate," "Whitewatergate," and "Monicagate," of which only the Monica Lewinsky story was valid. The others, although extensively investigated, never produced anything wrong on the part of the Clinton administration, yet most of the public continues to believe there was an abuse of power and violation of the law attached to each.

McClellan answers the question with "I don't know what you're referring to specifically" to which the reporter clarifies his answer and then again asks "Is there some kind of thing to prevent this kind of "leakgate" from happening again?"

And then there is a series of questions about an ABC news report on former Bush administration people and those with close connections to the president profiting from the effort to rebuild in Iraq. A consulting firm ran by Joe Allbaugh, who used to be the President's director of FEMA, is advertising on the Internet that it can help companies get Iraqi contracts from the administration.

McClellan says that these people are outside the administration and that he does speak for people outside the administration. The reporter says he does not want McClellan's opinion but rather the President's opinion. McClellan asks if he means "people outside the administration seeking business in Iraq?" and the reporter comes back, "His cronies, his friends, yes." I am quite positive the President does not want to hear stories about his cronies.

Again, if you want to go to where the real meat of the government/press interaction is, go right to the source--the press conference.


Thursday, October 02, 2003

Rush II 

Now we know why Rush Limbaugh is a big slim idiot.

Thanks to Pat and MHM for the reference.

Wednesday, October 01, 2003

Pundit Wannabe 

For those of us who have to receive the "Cincinnati Enquirer," Sundays, Wednesdays, and Fridays are low because those issues contain the illogical ramblings of pundit wannabe Peter Bronson. Bronson has never seen a liberal conspiracy that he couldn't expose, and his column today continues in that fine tradition of exposing him for the bizarre incoherence that he is known for.

Bronson does not like the media (unless it is "his kind" of media), academia (unless it is his kind of college), or politicians (unless they are his kind of politicians). So you get the point that he is inconsistent in addition to being insulting to the average reader's intelligence.

In his column today, he wants to tell us about the plight of a dog named "Foxy" that has been put in an animal shelter after it's owner went to a woman's shelter to escape an abusive spouse. Remember, that is the focus of this story. Here is how Bronson starts the story out:

I've suspected for years that dogs share more human DNA than rats, monkeys and some presidential candidates.

Even an average dog can do better floor tricks than Curley of the Stooges, mooch like Kramer from Seinfeld and patrol the yard like John Wayne chasing Apache squirrels.

A cat, on the other paw, shares DNA with Robin Williams, Peter Jennings and Jacques Chiraq. If a burglar breaks in, the dog is leading a coalition to war while the cat is still vetoing United Nations resolutions.

I guess that there is a logic to this looniness. You write columns that make no sense whatsoever and leave the reader flummoxed. Do you really write and attack the column or do you feel sorry because he was left short the day they handed out reason?

I think this is his feeble attempt to make the bigs--Fox News, perhaps, where he and Bill O'Reilly can try to outstump the other in the lack of sense battle. Whatever it is, it sickens me that I have to keep a subscription to this paper that helps to pay his salary (my wife's choice, not mine).


From Bush I and Rush 

This from Vice President Bush in 1987 when Philip Agee, a former spook who wrote a book naming names of CIA agents:

"Those who go around publicizing the names of CIA people abroad are despicable..."

Right On!

And Rush Limbaugh really is a big slim idiot.

Tuesday, September 30, 2003

Press Briefing  

It is a shame that so few people read the press briefing transcripts, because they can be quite lively, as witnessed in the briefing on the 29th between White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan and the press.

The subject, of course, is the leak of the name of Ambassador Joseph Wilson's wife, who is a CIA operative. The leak happened in July, and was done through Republican mouthpiece Robert Novak, who said on CNN Monday that "nobody in the Bush administration called me to leak this..."

At the start of the press conference, Helen Thomas comes out firing:"Scott, has anyone -- has the President tried to find out who outed the CIA agent? And has he fired anyone in the White House yet?"

Through the briefing, the press try to pin down McClellan to get some sense of what the White House is doing on this matter and whether the White House is involved. He first says that the only thing the White House knows is what they read in the media, that the White House is letting the Justice Department take the lead, yet he then confirms that Karl Rove had nothing to do with the leak. This leads to the obvious question that if the White House is not being proactive, why was Rove asked? And by whom was Rove asked? And who else in the White House has been asked?

McClellan then stumbles further by disavowing any White House involvement. Well how does a White House that is taking a passive role in this know that no one in the White House is involved? Here is the volley:

Q Scott, does he know -- is he convinced that no one in the White House was involved with this?

MR. McCLELLAN: There has been absolutely nothing brought to our attention to suggest any White House involvement. All we've seen is what is in the media reports. The media reports cite "senior administration official," or "senior administration officials."

Q But they're wrong, as far as you're concerned?

MR. McCLELLAN: But I haven't seen anything before that. That's why it's appropriate for the Department of Justice, if something like this happened, to look into it.

Q Those media reports are wrong, as far as the White House is concerned?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, we have nothing beyond those media reports to suggest there is White House involvement.

If you look carefully, you will note that he does not deny White House involvement, only that the media so far has not proved whether the White House was involved.

McClellan then tries to switch tactics--that it is impossible for the President of the United States to monitor the thousands of employees in the executive branch to know who leaked what:

McClellan: Are we supposed to chase down every anonymous report in the newspaper? We'd spend all our time doing that.

This is interesting. One of the key roles that President W. Bush played in Bush I was to track down leakers. In fact, one of the boasts by this administration was that they ran a tight ship because the President could easily find out who leaks something, and yet now, in the face of a felony, the President is pleading ignorance?

Let's hope that the words of one reporter ring true:

"Scott, this is clearly a serious matter, with possible penalties being going to jail. It's not going to go away."

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