Former USA Today Reporter
Editor's note: Richard Benedetto covered the White House for USA Today during the administrations of Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush. He retired in 2006 and now teaches political science and journalism at American and Georgetown Universities.
Former White House press secretary Scott McClellan's indictments of the Bush White House, some three years after the fact, ring a bit hollow to me. I say that because he was such a staunch and seemingly naive defender of President Bush and his policies during the time he was press secretary; even more so than his predecessor, Ari Fleischer, and his successor, Tony Snow.
Having seen McClellan during his days as press secretary come out every day and robotically press the administration view in the daily gaggles and briefings, even in the face of tough and sometimes badgering questioning from reporters, led most in the White House press corps to conclude that Scott was a true believer and there was no way were going to shake him or get him to tell tales out of school.
His most common tactic when continuously hectored by reporters to answer a question that they felt he tried to evade was to repeat the same obviously scripted line, over and over, until we finally gave up. We often walked away from the briefings in frustration, shaking our heads and muttering to ourselves.
So for him to come out now and tell us in his book that much of the information he was peddling to the media was false, or at least misleading, causes me to ask why he waited to long to tell what now he preceives as the truth. He charges that he was misled by high level White House aides such as Karl Rove and Scooter Libby. Did he know that he was misleading us, or was he a total rube?
While I have not read the book the things I have heard reported about it make me wonder if McClellan really wrote it. Having heard him speak many, many times, formally and informally, I know his voice. The lines being reported are quite candid, something he never was a press secretary.
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