Editor's note: Tonight on AC360° we have Anderson's interview with Scott McClellan. You can read the entire transcript here, but note: this is a rush transcript, there are typos and abbreviations. No need to point each one out!
Anderson Cooper: TODAY THE WHITE HOUSE SEEMS TO HAVE A NEW TALKING POINT OUT ABOUT YOU. FOR DAYS IT'S JUST KINDA BEEN.. WE'RE PUZZLED, SCRATCHING OUR HEADS, THIS IS NOT THE SCOTT WE KNEW. TODAY, WHITE HOUSE SPOKESPERSON DANA PERINO HAD SOMETHING ELSE TO SAY LET'S LISTEN...
"And our central objection to the book is that it is not based in fact and I think that one of ther reasons we are puzzled and surprised and saddened by it is because...the...charge, the loaded charge in the book...is that the president and his senior advisors purposefully misled people in to war and we sent our young men and women knowing something we weren't telling the american people. That is not true."
Anderson Cooper: HOW DO YOU KNOW THAT IT IS TRUE?
Scott McClellan: Uh..First of all I have a lot of fineness for Dana Perino. I actually hired her and brought her on the staff when she was deputy press secretary. Returning to the comments she made today the White House is now suggesting that they deliberately misled the American people, and that is actually not what i say in the book. I said that it was not deliberate or conscious.
AC: SO THEY'RE ACTUALLY ATTACKING YOU FOR SOMETHING THAT YOU HAVEN'T ACTUALLY SAID IN THE BOOK.
I just got done interviewing Scott McCellan. He’s been interviewed on a couple of other programs already, but I think you will find the interview we are going to air on 360 tonight is much different.
I was up until about 4am last night reading the book, and I finished it earlier today. I believe in holding people accountable for their words and actions, and not taking political sides, and I think you will see my effort to do all those things in the interview tonight.
I wanted to give McClellan the opportunity to directly address some of the specific attacks being made against him by the White House and its surrogates, but I also wanted to directly address some of the things that are vague in his book.
He blames being stuck in the White House “bubble” but is that really a valid excuse for his actions? He says he was caught up in the Washington game, but does that justify making what he now admits were misleading statements?
Anyway, I think you will be interested in the interview tonight. It’s tough, but fair. I hope you tune it.
AC360° Senior Producer
Scott McClellan says it took time for his "partisan blinders" to come down. Ok...but why? Is this White House really as unreflective as critics have claimed?
I know... it can take us all a while to see the other guy's perspective, or the "truth," as McClellan put it. But if the White House has been so caught up in "permanent campaign" mode that it missed "the value of truth and honesty," as McClellan said, well... those are pretty big elephants in the room to miss… are they not?
What's your view?
Anderson interviews McClellan for tonight’s show. We hope you’ll join us at 10p ET.
Editor's Note: Bruce Weinstein, "The Ethics Guy" will analyze the ethical issues at stake with former White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan and his new book, tonight on 360° 10p ET.
The Ethics Guy, BusinessWeek
For the past several days, there has been a lot of discussion about Scott McClellan and why he has written his tell-all book, “What Happened: Inside the Bush White House and Washington's Culture of Deception.” Much of the criticism has focused on McClellan’s motivation for writing this book. Is he disgruntled? Does he feel guilty? Is he simply trying to cash in on his former position in the Bush administration?
As provocative as these questions may be, they are not nearly as important as the central ethical question raised by this story: was it right for McClellan to write such a book?
Looking at the ethical issues at stake, I argue the following:
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.
[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/05/28/art.mcclellan.jpg caption="File photo of Scott McClellan and President Bush in 2006."]
Editor's Note: Below is Ari Fleischer's statement on Scott McClellan's book, What Happened: Inside the Bush White House and What's Wrong with Washington. You can see Ari Fleischer on 360 tonight at 10p ET.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 28, 2008
Statement by Ari Fleischer on Scott McClellan’s Book
“There is something about this book that just doesn’t make any sense.
For 2 ½ years Scott and I worked shoulder to shoulder at the White House. Scott was my always reliable, solid deputy. Not once did Scott approach me – privately or publicly – to discuss any misgivings he had about the war in Iraq or the manner in which the White House made the case for war. Scott himself repeatedly made the case for the war from the podium and even after he left the White House, I remember watching him on Bill Maher’s show – about one year ago – making the case for the war.
If Scott had such deep misgivings, he should not have accepted the press secretary position as a matter of principle.