Media Blog

When ‘Candor’ Means Trashing Conservatives

As a press secretary, Scott McClellan was always lacking, starting with the constant facial expression that looked like a lawyer caught in the headlights of a nasty 60 Minutes interview. But is there a lamer spin out there than this line in the Washington Post today, as his Bush-lied-people-died book came out?

McClellan said many of the early reactions are based on excerpts rather than the whole book, which has just begun to appear on store shelves.
“They’re trying to look at the book in these ‘gotcha’ terms,” he said. “It’s exactly what I talk about in the book — it’s playing the Washington ‘gotcha’ game.”

It’s quite obvious that it’s McClellan who put on the professional-wrestling outfit with GOTCHA written in glitter. But it’s the White House’s fault for reacting? No newspaper or television outlet presents an entire book, so that spin defines the term “non-starter.” The Post story by Dan Eggen and Linton Weeks also includes quotes from McClellan’s publisher, Peter Osnos, a former Post reporter and editor.

“We are journalists, independent-minded publishers. We weren’t interested in a book that was just a defense of the Bush administration. It had to pass our test of independence, integrity and candor.”

In the Post/Osnos account, McClellan grew more anti-Bush (“honest and forthright”) as the publisher pressed the author for candor. But this account utterly (and typically) leaves out the ideological motivations of Osnos. Eggen and Weeks ignore how Osnos writes a column regularly trashing conservatives. Brent Baker noted how he lashed Rush Limbaugh, loved Molly Ivins, and bemoaned William F. Buckley upon his death for “providing unfortunate cover to others who followed with a spirit that was distinctly and consistently malevolent.” He was bemoaning Jonah Goldberg’s Liberal Fascism.

Tim GrahamTim Graham is Director of Media Analysis at the Media Research Center, where he began in 1989, and has served there with the exception of 2001 and 2002, when served ...