May 28th, 2008
02:51 PM ET

Anderson's View: What Happened to McClellan

Anderson Cooper

We are continuing to work today on the revelations and accusations made by former Bush spokesman Scott McClellan in his new book. The story broke late yesterday, and last night we only had a few excerpts to discuss. Tonight we will go into much more depth, and we'll talk to people who served as White House Press Secretary and the people who question them – White House reporters.

It's interesting to see the public relations machinery already at work on this story. The White House and its surrogates are out in force now to discredit McClellan. They've said he wasn't a key player, he wasn't in important meetings, he's disgruntled, he wasn't qualified for the job, he's trying to sell books, his editor re-wrote parts of the book.

I don't know what's true and what's not in their allegations, or his for that matter, but he was the President's spokesman for nearly three years, and what he is saying can't simply be discounted. So we will check the facts tonight, and go indepth on what McClellan is saying.

I've also gotten some e-mails today about an article on the website of a local television station in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. The article is about Louisiana's governor Bobby Jindal. In the article they state that I have endorsed Jindal as the best choice to be John McCain's Vice President. I have no idea where the reporter got this information, but I haven't endorsed him, or anyone else.

I don't endorse candidates. Never have. Never will. That's not my job. I called up the station and asked them to remove the incorrect sentence from their website, but just in case anyone thinks I've suddenly decided to start taking sides in political races, I haven't. I leave that to folks on other networks.

Filed under: Anderson Cooper
soundoff (133 Responses)
  1. Perry

    The decision to go to war was already taken and any deviation was either ignored or dismissed.Look at the U.K, Blair was having difficulty making the case.David Kelly, a government weapons expert,says to a reporter the dossier on WMD was "sexed up" to make the case for war.His name was leaked to the press by the government and he was found dead in a wood a little while later.Wilson Plame affair is similar in the fact that if someone speaks out the government machine comes in to action to discredit or ruin lives.Nothing was going to stop this war from happening. Ari Fleischer says with McClellan what propaganda what manipulation,surely it should be about finding out the truth not ignoring a report or statement that doesn't agree with your point of view, thats the manipulation.I'm sure it will eventually come out that Colin Powell,a man of honour, was duped just like the whole of the U.S & U.K were.Does the truth matter anymore.

    May 29, 2008 at 6:33 am |
  2. Anita

    Isn't just amazing that the media is suprised what comes out in the books about the present regime in the White House, I knew there were no WMD's as Bush lied to us, the CIA even said that, if the media would have listened to their own reports, but no they coddled to the White House afraid to be called traitors, this is a war of lies by this regime...the other countries also told us that Iraq had no WMD's, the U.N told us....yet the media still seems to be suprised, what ever happened to"speak the truth" and to investigative jounalism???

    May 29, 2008 at 5:16 am |
  3. Rick Richman

    I am glad folks like McClellan are finally providing their opinions on what happened at the White House. David Gergen, who is one of my favorite commentators, stated on your show that he was surprised by the deterioration of standards in relation what former White House staffers are saying about their former employer. I believe that this deterioration is likely the byproduct of another deterioration, that of the integrity of the office of the current President, as it is perceived by the majority of Americans. Personally I haven't heard any compelling argument discrediting McClellan, as the folks presented to argue against his statements seem disingenuous so far.

    May 29, 2008 at 4:10 am |
  4. Cynthia Bishop

    Dear Anderson,

    So glad you are not endorsing anyone as most seem to do in the reporting business today. I firmly believe that is a large part of how we find ourselves in such a big mess. Not that any of us are blameless or flawless, the news representatives have a special responsibility in our nation.

    I was hopeful that we as a nation and individuals could learn from our mistakes there by not repeating them. That is why I find myself putting my opinion across to you after watching some of CNN today.

    I am disheartened to see everyone discounting Mr. McClellan's opinion and book. I am sure more than most he knew what it would cost him personally. I am sure we will ever know how this will effect his future but rest assured unless he is very strong it will be personally devastating.

    As I watched President Bush across town today speaking at the Air Force Academy, I couldn't help but shed a tear for us all. I could only thank my God for His grace . What in my view, this poor unfortunate man has cost this world through either ignorance or sociopathic behavior he still can not understand. Thankfully these actions have yet to totally cost us our nation and through that same grace the light of the world.

    My great fear is it could and will if "we the people" also prove incapable of facing ourselves in the mirror honestly. Then we too can't correct our horrendous errors. The only way to have democracy is through accountability. Instead, once again it seems we are going to take the easy way out....shoot the messenger.

    Truthful facts are our only hope. Thank you for trying to provide that for a nation that is literally dying for it. Please keep up the good work.

    May 29, 2008 at 3:46 am |
  5. Sharon

    I think it is wonderful what Scot McClellan has done and is telling the truth and choosing his country before party. I think people should be thanking him and standing by his side and defense as a true fellow American. He was as much of on insider as you could be and I guess his conscience just forced him to write the book. Good for him! He hasn't really told us anything we didn't already know, and it is refreshing to know that there are still decent people out there. he should get a medal for this.

    May 29, 2008 at 3:25 am |
  6. Dana

    Hey Anderson,

    I am glad that you cleared that up with the news station about endorsing Bobby Jindal. I knew that article wasn't true, but it still left me a little curious last night.

    I have always wondered if you were a Conservative. I've always gotten that vibe from you, so a part of me was still kinda hoping that the article was true. I think that's mainly because I'm a Conservative Democrat.

    May 29, 2008 at 2:20 am |
  7. Julie San Diego, CA

    One more time?

    Did I hear that right or were the members of the press collectively beating themselves up over the rush to war and the yellow cake that Saddam didn't bake?

    If the bank's been robbed, blame the robber, not the policeman. The spin doctors have got the media believing the war is their fault. Not so.

    The "you didn't try hard enough to stop us" excuse just isn't flying.

    Which brings us to Ari Fleischer. I actually miss the guy. Watching Ari in action was like studying a psychopath – they're so interesting to observe because of their absolute conviction in their delusions.

    Anderson, I could tell you were trying so hard to find some truth in what the man was saying, and your innocence is disarmingly sweet, but let me save you a little emotional angst next time you have to deal with the guy: It's easy to tell when Ari is lying – his lips are moving.

    The man is a pro at what he does...he could have taught a thing or two to some of the sales guys I used to work with...

    May 29, 2008 at 2:13 am |
  8. Lessie Donelson

    I think those who take Mr. Obama lightly, are very misinformed.
    The man is "brilliant." He has forgotten, more than those other
    candidates ever knew! We need a healer, a "real" man, not a
    female, who wants to make history for her own personal gain,
    and have something to "toot" her horn about! We who watch very
    closely knows
    history" in the making, when we see it! I can guarantee that Mr.
    Obama will not embarass himself or his supporters. The Obama
    "haters" must think that he will show up in the White House with
    his trousers "below his butt" NOT!

    May 29, 2008 at 1:40 am |
  9. EJ (USA)

    My sleeping pill is starting to set in but I wanted to follow up with Anderson on the possibiilty of building an Academy in New Orleans – say from 6th grade to 12th grade. The theme of the school could be focused on rebuilding, survival, journalism, or a whole host of other things. The curriculum should be the standard as required by the state – but offer more enrichment type courses where students can grow and express their creativity and opinions.

    The idea is like the school Oprah created but the details should fit more with being on American soil and should take into account the hardships of the children in the area. What do you think Anderson?

    Lots of work but its not an overnight thing. You could take a few years. I think it would be the ultimate tribute – not simply in symbolism but as an actual way to further develop the area, generate ideas, and be an example for other schools that may be built in the future.

    May 29, 2008 at 1:36 am |
  10. Lessie Donelson

    I'm so glad that someone has the courage to speak out for normal
    everyday law-abiding citizens who has to sit for almost eight years
    and watch those "crooked, oil-hungry, Washington Repulicans sit
    in the White House and feed that bull-crap to us daily!
    Does anyone ever notice that Bush does not call a press conference
    to speak about anything but the Middle East? Why doesn't he relocate his
    residence from Crawford, Texas, to Baghdad?

    P.S. We are sick and tired of the Clintons, the entire family of them!

    May 29, 2008 at 1:28 am |
  11. Brendan

    The underlying debate about this book is the cold hard truth, and if that ever existed during George Bush's stay in the Whitehouse.

    Ask yourself America... Did the virtue of truth and the last 8 years of George Bush's reign ever coincide?

    This debate is useless and nothing more than media gibberish on a Wednesday evening in May 2008. The truth was never a policy of the Bush administration so it should not be a surprise now...

    Wake up America. You used to be smarter than this. You have been fleeced by facists for the last eight years...


    May 29, 2008 at 1:23 am |
  12. Lessie Donelson

    We all who are hardworking citizens should give Mr. McClellan
    a standing ovation: 1. He didn't wait until "slick" I'll do as I please
    George Bush" left office.
    2. He had the guts to tell the truth.
    I believe every word he says! Period!

    May 29, 2008 at 1:22 am |
  13. Sandy P

    I think Scott McClellan was right on what is going on. I think Ari Fleischer is wrong and is almost too defensive and of course Ari is going to defend Geo Bush. Especially since GW's rating poles are so low.

    This administration is coming out as the bully on the block to everyone that disagrees with them. It is time that the truth be published and out to the public. I will be buying a copy of the book.

    The Scooter Libby thing is a huge joke. Let me guess his attorney didn't put him on the stand? Ted Wells is known for not putting the guilty on the stand. I know this for a fact as I saw court case in 1997 where the person he was defending did not testify at all in the court case. I was in the court room when that happened.

    This administration has been a joke and continues to be a joke.

    May 29, 2008 at 1:20 am |
  14. Michelle in CA

    Thank you, Anderson for being as neutral as you are. The news used to be presentation of the facts and not just a media personality's opinion. I appreciate your commitment to true journalism. Frankly, I cannot even guess who you would vote for. ( ;

    I remember right after 9/11 we had a friend warn us to fly the American flag from our door because they feared some clients might boycott our business if we didn't. My mother refused to fly the flag, not because she is unpatriotic, but because it felt very undemocratic to be told we must fly the flag or be boycotted. Our friend finally secretly put a flag sticker on our window. Talk about an Orwellian experience.

    I also remember a T.V. news person stating in a promotional spot citizens should fly flags or be thought unpatriotic. In other words, even though I felt the war was not right, I was pressured to appear as if I supported the changing rational for the war or be branded unpatriotic. I even felt freedom of speech was under attack. We had whispered conversations with other store owners who also did not support the war but who flew flags outside their business never-the-less.

    The Bush propaganda machine put a tremendous pressure on the American public and the press in the year following 9/11 to avoid any investigation or criticism of Bush policies. Perhaps this is why the press seemed to politely hold back or, immediately following 9/11, often just reported the talking points the Bush administration distributed.

    The culture of fear that Rove initiated reverberated throughout not only the people and press but Washington in general and Bush's own staff members specifically. If you didn't agree with the Bush/Cheny/Rove doctrine you were replaced. I am not surprised McCellan acted as he did in such a repressive and fear-based environment. I am glad he has come forward to share his version of what he experienced. I doubt he is lying. He could make just as much money if he'd written even a mildly critical memoir. He knew what he said would be attacked and the Bush Administration would try to discredit him.

    May 29, 2008 at 1:20 am |
  15. Judy

    Hi EJ USA,
    I used the word"establishment" which meant powers that be, inclusive of both parties. However, Anderson's rant was opinionated and he has said that he doesn't like to give opinions like those on "other networks." We all know he was right but it is a point of fact that it happened.

    May 29, 2008 at 12:48 am |
  16. Lily

    Hi Andreson,

    Good to see you. Keep up the good work. You have been very careful not showing whom you support. At times, I thought you were hard on Obama but some thinks you endorse Obama.
    You have always try to be favor and respestful and that is all I care about.

    May 28, 2008 at 11:39 pm |
  17. comet

    Alot of people who feel the press let US down running up to the War, see the same thing happening this year as most of the MSM is trying to shove Obama down our throats and refuse to vet him, but jump on Hillary for every small thing. We are more than angry that you think you can pull the same thing now as the MSM did not only with the War but the way they treated Bush vs Gore or Kerry and why we will NEVER vote for Obama. Fool me once shame on you fool me twice shame on me. It's pretty ironic tho that the "low education" voters can see what the "creative class" is to blind to see.Luckily the Republicans will do the job of getting people to know about Obama and his friends and McCain will win.

    May 28, 2008 at 11:39 pm |
  18. Michael


    Please, please, please keep covering the McClellan story. We know that the White House will try to discredit him, but most of us know what he is saying has a lot of truth. Not in the loop? Then why was he the press secretary?

    This administration has much to answer for, and somehow, had not answered for anything. This may be the moment that we get answers. As a journalist, this may be the story that may give you a chance to chance America. You seem to be in a fairly untouchable position. Go after the truth, not the ratings. I think people are hungry for the truth.

    May 28, 2008 at 11:35 pm |
  19. wesley

    Anderson, understandable that Scott McClellan conscious has taken a toll on him. It was clear to me, and should've been clear to others, that Saddam and his family was doomed when Bush, Chaney, Rice, Rumsfeld, Rove, Wolfawich, Libby, Powell, Peerle and many others first came to Washington. Also, when the decision was (is) made; as a former senior military officer, we become cold blooded just like the poeple who is responsible for us to be sent to war!!!

    May 28, 2008 at 11:33 pm |
  20. Ruby J. Peters

    The attacks on Scott is typical from our government. I you are brave enough to step out on faith and tell the truth about any thing that shine a light on mistakes made with in our goverment expect to receive retalitation from many different agencies and talking heads.
    The media could do our nation a great service if they used some of their time to do real investigative reporting. Keep them honest by going after those agencies who conduct these covert activities. If the media put a question out there to the people experiencing actions taken against them so much could be uncovered. Authentic investigative reporting could really make a difference in our country for many people. Be aware of those who try to point you in a different direction.

    Leave Your Comment

    May 28, 2008 at 11:29 pm |
  21. Howell Hopson

    Dan Rather and Bill Moyers have had the integrity to point out that the press failed to ask hard questions prior to the start of the Iraq War. Last night CNN ran interviews with reporters who said we did a good job. There were two reporters from Knight Rider who tried to call attention to the lack of weapons of mass distruction. Others including CNN did not emphasize the lack of proof prior to the invasion. Only tonight did you begin to acknowledge the lack of critical coverage of the President prior to the invasion. The coverage was poor and it should be acknowledge now. McCellan is right about the press.

    Howell Hopson

    May 28, 2008 at 11:23 pm |
  22. reed feldman

    does anyone else sensor their words on here from fear of government action?

    May 28, 2008 at 11:21 pm |
  23. Arthur Wesley

    Please tag it for what it is in Iraq. It is an invasion, not a war! It is an occupation, not a win or lose proposition! Show the courage and conscience that Scott MacCallum has. In speaking out, he has destroyed his career and his reputation. I would imagine that if I were in a similar position I would have a very difficult time coming to terms with loyalty, culpability versus truth. Is the media going to step up to the plate for once? Do you seriously believe that Bush and his crew will walk on this?

    May 28, 2008 at 11:20 pm |
  24. wesley

    Anderson, for all the so-called facts we (the American public) were given; Why hasn't anyone asked: "Did this president go to war to avenge the (alleged) assassination of his father by Saddam? Clearly, this was one of the reasons given that he had to be removed. We, however, are still duped that the intelligence reports were faulty.

    May 28, 2008 at 11:20 pm |
  25. reed feldman

    would someone explain to ari fleischer that once mcClellan got his job and was in a position to hear things. people tend to discuss things more than once so he could have heard the things about propaganda. i personally would like to believe our gov't on this one, but c'mon. they outed a cia agent and isntead of being charged with treason and shot if convicted nothing happened except her life was put in danger and at the very least her career was ended.

    May 28, 2008 at 11:19 pm |
  26. Daniel Pearson

    Scott McClellan says that President Bush lied to the country in order to sell the war on Iraq. If President Bush honestly thought that Saddam posed a threat to the United States and then decided to go to war.....how is that a lie? On the other hand, if President Bush did not act on his conviction that Saddam was a threat and then the United States was attacked, the media would be criticizing him for doing nothing. This is all just an attack on the President and the Republican party in an effort to make the Democrats look better for the upcoming election.

    May 28, 2008 at 11:12 pm |
  27. Jana, Indiana

    Anderson is where he is because of a lot of hard work and by doing stories others don't seem to stick with. It seems like several people are in an attack mode today.

    May 28, 2008 at 11:11 pm |
  28. Tim

    People please... Most of you don't even research things put out by the media much less research the Presidential candidates. If you did then none of the people that the corporate media has been trying to sell to the American people would be still running for president. I have read many of the comments and it saddens me to see the real ignorance of all of you. 5 corporations own the main stream media. Do you understand this at all. We have 700 bases in 130 countries. Most of you work your A$$ off every day and I understand that you turn on the T.V. expecting to get the news to help get you the stories needed to make informative decisions. Well, wake up America! I've been to Iraq and I know how my government treated us. We didn't have armoured hummers or body armour to wear. Our vehicles were'nt painted desert colors they had woodland camaflouge. I didn't wear desert camos because they weren't issued to us. We wore woodland camos. It is not about Democrat or Republican any more because both parties are bought and paid for by lobbyist and special interest. Listen, you want to know more then take the time to research. Read Ron Pauls new book " The Revolution A manifesto ". McClellan is telling the truth. Yeah he might have wanted to make some money but why would he have to lie to write a book. He could have wrote the book and said only good stuff about the Bush administration.

    May 28, 2008 at 11:09 pm |
  29. EJ (USA)

    It has occurred to me that even though I respect your unbiased opinion, you were far from unbiased in Nola back in 2005. Wasn’t it you who showed utter contempt for how the establishment was handling the situation? I f you hadn’t been that “emotive” would you be where your are now??? JMO

    Hi Judy – I think that Anderson means he doesn't take sides in political races and in endorsing candidates.

    Hurricane Katrina was life & death.

    I personally felt that Anderson was pissed at everyone in charge regardless of what their political leaning was. His stance was anything but political. To see something like the aftermath of Katrina happen in America - it's unthinkable – it can't be justified or defended by any politician.

    May 28, 2008 at 11:09 pm |
  30. Donna

    Isn't it funny how many Bush's cabnet members keep changing. Even Colen Powel couln't stomach it any longer. I'm glad McClellen had the nerve to come out and findly tell the truth. Sure he was nervous, don't you remember Susan Dougal she said she was happy to be in jail, she felt safe. The only weapons of mass distruction Sadam had and chemical he used on his people, were sent to him by the United States.

    May 28, 2008 at 10:56 pm |
  31. Keith Watt

    You can tell Mr. Gergen that the press secretaries of the past may not have turned on their former bosses so soon , but we have never had an adminastration this corrupt.

    May 28, 2008 at 10:52 pm |
  32. Genevieve M, TX

    I never thought you took sides and the fact that you get people telling you that you are both an Obama and a Clinton supporter proves this.

    May 28, 2008 at 10:50 pm |
  33. Jean V

    They say confession is good for the soul.

    I think Scott McClellan just wants to be able to sleep at night and someday, face his grandchildren's questions.

    He wasn't the first ambitious young person to be flattered and seduced into selling his soul by older, wealthier, more powerful men. He won't be the last. But when these young people are no longer subjected to daily manipulation by the powerful, and they have time to reflect, they are often deeply disappointed with their former "mentors"–and with themselves.

    I pray that more members of the Bush "inner circle" will tell the truth. It will be healing not only for themselves and their families, but also for the nation.

    May 28, 2008 at 10:43 pm |
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