Monday, July 11, 2005

Press Briefing by Scott McClellan

Keeping in mind that in this world today and, more specifically, in the United States, the issues that most concern people are (not in any particular order except for 1 and 2):
1. Terrorism/GWoT
2. Our troops in Iraq
3. Replacing 1, possibly 2, possibly 3 Supreme Court justices
4. G8 / African hunger/debt
6. Social Security
7. Oil prices
8. Nuclear proliferation in Iran and Korea
9. A bloated, corrupt, inefficient United Nations
10. Hurricane aftermath in Florida and Alabama
These are the questions that presidential spokesman Scott McClellan was asked at his daily press briefing this afternoon in the order in which they occurred:

Karl Rove /Valery Plame: 1st 21 consecutive questions
Terrorism / GWot: 1 question
Karl Rove /Valery Plame: 4 questions
Our troops in Iraq - 2 questions
Karl Rove /Valery Plame: 2 questions
Supreme Court nominee: 1 question
Karl Rove /Valery Plame: 1 question
Supreme Court nominee: 4 questions
Karl Rove /Valery Plame: 4 questions
Supreme Court nominee: 2 questions
Karl Rove /Valery Plame: 3 questions
North Korea nuclear talks: 2 questions
Karl Rove /Valery Plame: 6 questions
Terrorism/GWot: 1 question
Karl Rove /Valery Plame: 1 question
Supreme Court nominee: 2 questions
Voting rights legislation: 2 questions
That's roughly 59 questions asked. Here is the breakdown:
Karl Rove / Valery Plame: 42 questions - 71%
Supreme Court nominee: 9 questions - 15%
voting right legislation - 2 questions - 3%
Terrorism / GWot - 2 questions - 3%
Korea nuclear talks - 2 questions - 3%
Our troops in Iraq - 2 questions - 3%
G8 / African hunger/debt - 0 questions - 0%
HIV/AIDS - 0 questions - 0%
Social Security - 0 questions - 0%
Oil prices - 0 questions - 0%
Hurricane aftermath - 0 questions - 0%
United Nations scandal - 0 questions - 0%
How do the following word bytes, relevant to the MSM, resonate with you?
out of touch
biased leftist agenda
no longer taken seriously
losing subscribers/viewers/listeners
fake but accurate
monopoly on information dissemination
lost monopoly on information dissemination
isolated islands
distortions passed off as "news"
Dan Rather and fraud
Eason Jordan / Linda Foley and lies
no longer employed
24/7 coverage and Jennifer Wilbanks / Michael Jackson
no credibility and Paul Krugman / Michael Moore

Also commenting on the QWot, AIDS, G8, etc.:
Tom Maguire
Party of the Purple
Stromata Blog
Silent Running
Echidne of the Snakes

In search of Utopia
Armed Victim

Super Hanc Petram
Crooks and Liars
The Light of Reason

Say Anything
James Joyner @ OTB
Les Enfants Terrible
Reid Report

Joho the Blog
Age Ventures
Ramblings' Journal
Just Johnny
Think Progress

PennyWit agrees:
Get Rove. Get Bush. Embarrass the White House. These partisans make absolutely no effort to camouflage their attacks. They just carry on with the same, steady, partisan drumbeat, marching toward God only knows where.

Inside the blogosphere, the drumbeat bounces around, echoes, mutates, and grows louder and louder and louder, interspersed with cross-partisan shouting about agenda, spinning, lying, treason, and resign, resign, RESIGN.

At the same time, soldiers die in Iraq, a Supreme Court seat stands vacant, a passel of legislative business awaits Congress, and a hundred million tasks, mundane and great, await America's citizenry.
Oliver Willis
Alexander K. McClure @ PoliPundit
The Liquidlist
The Peking Duck
Suburban Guerrilla
Michelle Malkin

Lorie Byrd @ PoliPundit
Law Dork
The Captain
Kudzu Chronicle
Garden Mastery

Right Wing Nut House
Buffalo Pundit
Of the Mind
Take it to Karl

Shakespeare's Sister
File it Under
The Command Post
MN Lefty Liberal

The Loonatic Left
Vern Beachy
Mark A. Kilmer

Rob's Blog
Think Progress
Topic Exchange
Full of Crap

The Liberal Avenger
Betsy's Page
Dan's Horrendous Waste of Bandwidth
Metaphysically Wrikle Free

A Perfectly Cromulent Blog
Commentary from the Beltway
Confessions of a TV Maven
Just Johnny
File it Under

The Industrial Worker
Convex's Blog
Think Progress
Artichoke Blog
The State of...

The Sideshow
The Captain
TMH's Bacon Bits
The Deep Freeze

Blogs for Bush
Beltway Blogroll
Lorie Byrd @ PoliPundit
Common Sense Desk


mondo said...

Dude, give me a break. Quit being afraid of your own shadow and face up to the

Anonymous said...

Mark - The issue of Rove is deeply tied to issue #2. To understand when we're getting out of Iraq will have to include an honest discussion of how we got there, and PlameGate underscores how the administration suppressed all dissent at the time (which turned out to be true) with a shameful vindictiveness.

Anonymous said...

yeah, get a life. if Rove outed a covert agent, he should be axed, period.

lord knows you'd be calling for it if it was Dick Morris who did it.

show some character for God sakes.

Anonymous said...

Thanks to the above 3 commenters for proving that the left is:

(insert word byte list above)

TV (Harry)

Anonymous said...

That should be:

(insert word from word byte list above)


TV (Harry)

Anonymous said...

Yeah, man, get a life! Rove is the one who is behind all the power. You think Chimpy McHalliburton-Hitler is able to walk and chew gum without his Sith Lord whispering commands into his hearing aid?

Just because he may or may not have broken the law doesn't mean he shouldn't resign. Just like Nanci Pelosi and all the Democrats seeking Tom Delay's scalp, whether anything wrong was done or not is irrelevant.

Plus, I'm certain that Judith Miller would go to jail to protect Karl Rove- she's just that dedicated to journalism and the principle of protecting sources.

Electronic Bubba said...

dam these here lefties shore is stewpid!

h said...

I'm beginning to think that these leftists really are as dumb a they seem. Bush=Hitler, and that's all we really need to know.
Listen simpletons: if that's all you've got, we bored with it already. Got that?

Shinobi said...

Why can't there be a conversation about the stupidity of the MSM without taking pot shots at the left?

I know there is a perception of the media leaning left, but they obviously aren't doing a very good job of it of the Dems wouldn't be getting their asses handed to them at every turn.

So maybe we could lay down the whole "The Media is SOO liberal" meme and pick up the "The Media is SOO stupid" meme without having to combine the two.

Turning a conversation about the MSM into a conversation about the Left only serves to further divide our country and isn't really a productive discussion.

Shinobi said...

Oh yeah, and way to not help your cause Lefty commentors.

Anonymous said...

So to some up your post because I just wanna make sure I got it straight. People that don't support the president are stupid lefties, and if they have any other opinion than that, then they are talking about the wrong thing, and if they still have an opinion then they are;
(insert word from word byte list above). Check! Got it!

h said...

No, Anonymous, you simpleton (assuming you're the same anonymous who called Bush "Hitler," if not I apologize) I did not say that if you you don't suppoort Bush, you're stupid. I said YOU were stupid. Got that, you simpleton?

Chris said...

Anonymous 9:48

The problem is many of us don't see Rove tied to #2. Nor do we see it tied how to get out of Iraq. We see the Rove assualt tied to "Get Bush at all costs". In short, political hypocrisy.

p.s. If you want to talk about poor judgement, I have two words: Sandy Berger.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 3:03,

The problem with your logic is that you have to believe it before you hear it or it doesn't make any sense.

And mondo, the problem with parodying the left is that there are no 'over the top' lines you can cross to signal you are being ironic. No matter how crazy the idea, there is some Leftie that believes it, and will defend it as undeniable truth. Bush was behind the attacks, it was all about a pipeline in Afghanistan, you get the idea.

Jason said...

1. Terrorism/GWoT

The outing of a CIA agent who was part of the global search for weapons of mass destruction is directly related to the "War on Terror." This act was an amoral attack on our ability to find terrorist weapons, and -- as a criminal offense -- it is just a step below treason. How do you suggest we react to these kind of acts in a time of war?

2. Our troops in Iraq

The outing of Plame was apparently an act of vengeance for exposing the falsehood of certain Iraq war justifications such as WMDs and an impending nuclear threat. The deaths and injury of thousands of American soldiers are due to these justifications leading to war. According to recent polls, nearly half of Americans would seek impeachment of the the president if it were proven that he led us to war on false pretenses....

3. Replacing 1, possibly 2, possibly 3 Supreme Court justices

Karl Rove is the Senior Domestic Policy Advisor to the President. Supreme Court nominations are Domestic Policy. Get it?

All of this means that :

1) almost all off the reporters' questions related to WMD / terror/ Iraq / or domestic policy decision making

2) you're a very poor propagandist

Anonymous said...

I am entirely weary that any spirit of inquiry or questioning of authority is lost. Liberal or conservative, democrat or republican, the purpose of the media is to out governmental hypocrisy and indiscretion. Our government owes the citizens transparency. Period.

This administration like so many before it has used denial to cover its failings and manipulated the media with masterful expertise. The media will seize on the opportunity to repay in kind.

Poo-pooing Rove's alleged violations of Federal law or Delay's alleged violations of ethics rules is denying the very sense of inquiry that is required for a free and open society.

If the right has any interest in a free and open society, they will demand that all the facts be aired and let the chips fall where they may. Anything less in unAmerican.

Chris said...


With a reach like that you are starting to look like Mr. Fantastic.

But whatever. Believe what you want. But I'm certainly not buying the "step below treason" or "act of vengeance" crap.

My common sense tells me this "get Rove" action is pure political hatchetry.

Chris said...

Anonymous 4:02

All things being equal, I would agree with you regardng a free and open society.

The problem is the accusations here are so tainted with politics that they lose their value. Furthermore, there is a reasonable belief that a fair evaluation and judgement may not be possible, clouded as it would be with partisanship.

So. Facts. Real facts. Not hyperbole. Not made up MS Word documents or any other instances of politically tainted conjecture. That's what needs to be shown.

There's an investigator. Let him do his job.

Jim said...

You make a good point, to a certain extent, but you assume that a White House briefing would yield worthwhile information on many of the topics you mentioned.

Any news on HIV/AIDS today Scott? Any news on nuclear proliferation? What's your take on the bloated, corrupt UN?

Something tells me these stories are being reported. Scott wouldn't shed much light on this. Other sources would.

Jason said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Jason said...


The criminal statute is on the books. Outing a CIA agent is a very serious offense. The prosecutor and CIA also seem to be taking this case very seriously...

But apart from any criminal conviction, President Bush pledged to fire anyone who leaked the CIA officer's name. Period.

So you may not take this act seriously, but Bush certainly does.
(or does he?)

Chris said...


"Outing a CIA agent is a very serious offense"

Agreed. But mitigated by circumstances. We still do not know the facts here.

As I said, let the investigator do his job. If he has evidence enough to prosecute, let him do so.

Realize, though, that the point of the original post was to point out how unbalanced the media was. I see the reporters questions and I see "Get Rove because he's Bush's boy". The reporters dont have facts either. And their behavior in the Press Conference makes them look extremely partisan. The point is thus made. I don't need that for my news.

Anonymous said...

And the breakdown of the questions by subject suprises anyone how?

I have worked in the Television industry for 27 years. I have worked for ABC, NBC, CBS and Fox. Most of the people I know who work in the news divisions in the positions of reporter/producer/editor are about as LLL as they come. And I mean in the DU/Kos kind of LLL.

There are a few who are not that bad but still on the liberal side but they are greatly outnumbered and are generally from the "old school". They are the older guys who actually still believe in the use of journalistic basics when covering a story.

Jason said...

We still do not know the facts here.

Ahh, but that's the thing. At this point we do have a very key set of facts:

The White House stated categorically that Rove was not involved in the leak. But we now know -- for a fact -- that Rove was involved. We also know that either Rove lied to the President about this, or the President knew about it.

At best, this means there was a public effort to conceal the total incompetence and ethical blindness of one of the most senior members of the White House staff. At best.

At worst, it means there was a deliberate cover-up of a near-treasonous criminal offense which was perpetrated with the knowledge and approval of the Executive Branch.

Sounds like a newsworthy story to me....

about as LLL as they come

Judging by the questions, the reporter from FoxNews was particularly pissed off at Scott Mclellan. it doesn't matter if you're LLL of FOX -- people HATE being lied to.

Chris said...


"We also know that either Rove lied to the President about this, or the President knew about it"

Or Rove forgot the exact verbage he used in a telephone conversation to a reporter when advising said reporter that Wilson was not acting for the administration in Nigeria.

You're awfully quick on that "lie" word. Had practice? Ever said something that wasn't true. Was it a lie? Be honest.

And there you go again with the "near-treasonous criminal offense". Right over the top. It just torpedoes any credibility you have.


If you're so hot to get Rove before the investigation is concluded, do this: Google "Trousergate". Tell me your opinion on what should have happened there. Please?

Jason said...


Ever said something that wasn't true. Was it a lie?

First of all, I'd have to say that I'm pretty honest. Under the circumstances, I'd even have to suggest that I'm a more honest person that Karl Rove. Faint praise, but there you go.

But more importantly I've never been a senior adviser to a sitting President. I also don't have an extremely high security clearance. In fact come to think of it, I don't have ANY security clearance. Now if what you're suggesting is that someone who has trouble with "exact verbage" in regards to CIA officers should -- like me -- have no security clearance whatsoever, well then! We are in agreement.

"near-treasonous criminal offense"

Look -- it's a criminal statute on the books. That's the way it is.

Maybe there won't be charges or a conviction, but this is the crime for which the CIA demanded investigation, and it is only a notch or two below treason in seriousness. Sorry if that torpedoes anyones credibility, but that is what's being investigated.


I would suggest that any person with a high security clearance person be removed from any sensitive position in the current administration until the charges of document mishandling were fully investigated.

Hey wait a second -- that person wasn't in a sitting administration at the time of the incident. And he even quit as a Kerry advisor while the investigation was still pending....

So Chris, does this mean we agree that Rove should immediately lose his security clearance and that he should either step-down or be fired until these far more serious charges are resolved?

Jason said...

Chris --

A follow-up question on the topic of rank hypocrisy: Do you feel strongly about all theft and destruction of national security documents?

Chris said...

"So Chris, does this mean we agree that Rove should immediately lose his security clearance and that he should either step-down or be fired until these far more serious charges are resolved?"

Not at all.

If history is any guide, such a practice would be commonplace as politicly-generated accusations of law-breaking and "treason" are flung from both sides of the aisle. There is no fair evaluation of the facts, circumstances, intent, and consequences. A requirement to remove the security clearances of anyone *accused* of a crime would be far too disruptive to the day-to-day operations of the sitting administration. In the case of Rove, he has a job and that job presumably requires a security clearance. Unless he is proven guilty, or if his superiors (i.e. Bush) judge the risk of continued access as too great, no change should be required.

Just a little tip regarding the use of the word Treason: To quote M. Montoya: "You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means." It's that kind of hyperbole that just turns people off.

A CIA agent's identity is classified because to compromise that identity (a) puts the agent at risk, and (b) compromises the intelligence gathering capabilities of the United States. Revealing a CIA agent is no different than revealing other highly classified information. It's serious. They can put you in jail for 20 years or more if they build a big enough case. That is handled by a court of law, and it definitely involves a study of facts, circumstances, intent and consequences. Which is why I say to let the investigation run it's course.

In this particular case, so far it looks closer to jaywalking than to treason. Especially when considering Sandy Berger took a walk. Whether he was sitting in the administration or not doesn't matter, not on a legal basis. He was on deck to be Secretary of State, for crying out loud! And he was caught red-handed. And back to Mark's point on press bias: Imagine the reaction of the press if Condi Rice had done what Sandy did.

At a more mundance level, I'm sure similar information breaches have occured thousands of times throughout the bureaucracy. Most folks get a written reprimand and life goes on. "Don't do it again." A very few get prosecuted - based on intent and damage - That makes news.

And think of all the senators and congresscritters that have "accidently" leaked classified information. Why aren't their clearances yanked?

That's why I think this whole Plame thing is a big non-event.

Of course, maybe Rove's job is to just piss off the Far Left and turn them into raving nut jobs. In which case he doesn't need a security clearance; he seems to be doing fine without one.

Dougger said...

Valerie Plame used her position in the CIA to arrange her husband’s assignment as the investigator of the Iraq/Niger uranium purchase attempt.

Joe Wilson went to Niger but did not conduct a proper investigation; he only took the Nigerian official’s word at face value.

The identity of the person who sent Joe Wilson to Niger thus becomes relevant in the subsequent investigation.

Identifying Valerie Plame as Joe Wilson’s wife as well as the CIA employee (we have no evidence that anyone in the administration knew she was an “agent”, covert or otherwise) who sent him is thus relevant. If it was not relevant to the issue of Joe Wilsons performance as an investigator, Novak would not have used it.

The identity of Valerie Plame as Joe Wilson’s wife is readily available information in Joe Wilson’s “Who’s Who in America” entry, and it was common knowledge in Washington that she worked for CIA.

The Intelligence Identities Protection Act requires that a violator intentionally reveal a CIA operatives name and that the accused also knew that "the United States is taking affirmative measures to conceal such covert agent's intelligence relationship to the United States."

Can you prove that the United States was taking affirmative measures to conceal her intelligence relationship to the United States? Can you prove that Karl Rove knew that?

Chris said...

Bitter 6:58,

I have no opinion on that specific matter. The points raised are worth consideration, but I don't know the facts in that case. It's very possible England exercised poor judgement by hiring Earl. It's also possible Earl is totally honest.

In general, virtually all the folks I know who handle classifid information take that responsibility very seriously. Mistakes do get made - People are human after all. Most are investigated. The vast majority result in "be more careful" admonishments. That's usually based on intent and actual damage.

You can't be an absolutist regading classified material. If you are, everyone you entrust will eventually fail in their duty. In some way. That's why intent and actual damage are important considerations.

So even if Rove did blurt out a bit of information during a phone call which allowed a skilled reporter to conclude "aha, Valery Plame", I don't buy the malicious intent conclusion. The case isn't there. At least as far as I see.

And for the press to continue to go nutso on this is just, well, stupid.

Jason said...

That's why I think this whole Plame thing is a big non-event.


Karl Rove leaked Plame's identity.
Bush promised to fire whoever leaked Plame's identity.

These are the facts.
Think about them slowly.

At least we both agree that Rove should be stripped of his security clearance.

Chris said...

"Karl Rove leaked Plame's identity."

Not proven. Yet.

"Bush promised to fire whoever leaked Plame's identity."


"At least we both agree that Rove should be stripped of his security clearance."

Nope. Sorry. Not yet.

Jason said...

"Karl Rove leaked Plame's identity."

Not proven. Yet.



Don't go for any long walks or you might fall off the edge of the Earth....

Chris said...

Also Bitter,

Here's an opinion that's a bit stronger than mine.

You might want to consider it when forming your own conclusions about the press corps behavior.

Feel free to comment there.

Regards, Chris

p.s. Try to not be insulting by implying that I'm stupid. I'm not. And it's unbecoming of you in an otherwise reasonable conversation at Mark's place.

Rob Crocker said...

For those who are shouting that Rove outed Plame go back and read the text of the email that Cooper sent.

You'll notice that Rove is warning Cooper that the source (Wilson) was lying when he characterized the Niger trip as being orderd by the Director of the CIA. In fact, Rove notes, the trip was actually arranged by Wilson's wife who works for the CIA on WMD. At no time during that email is the name Valerie Plame mentioned.

Finally, Occam's Razor, do you really think Judith Miller would go to jail for Karl Rove?

Jason said...


unbecoming of you in an otherwise reasonable conversation

You do realize you started this conversation by comparing me to Mr. Fantastic without addressing any of the underlying points?

But whatever. Believe what you want.

Anonymous said...

President Bush DID NOT state that he would fire anyone who leaked the name. He said he would fire anyone who BROKE THE LAW in this case. That remains to be seen. From what I have read, Rove did not name names, and Plame probably didn't qualify for inclusion under the laws forbidding intentional release of the name of undercover agents.

Jason said...

Occam's Razor, do you really think Judith Miller would go to jail for Karl Rove?

Good point. And Novak's original column cited two senior administration sources.
So why is Miller going to jail if Scooter and Rove waved their confidentiality?

Sounds like shoes are still dropping....

Jason said...

Rove did not name names

Ahhh yes. The old "It depends on the meaning of wife" defense. Yeah. Have fun with that one.

See ya in court!

Red A said...

I want to see 71% of questions asked about what Sandy berger was doing.


Anonymous said...

Methinks the point is that these journalists have been lied to. It makes no sense to ask questions unless there is some hope that the answers will be truthful.

Fargus... said...

Dude, this issue speaks directly to the credibility of the Administration. Who the hell are you to say that it's not important enough for reeporters to worry about?

Anonymous said...

Who the hell are you to say that it's not important enough for reeporters to worry about?

Because most people in this country don't care!!! That was the point of the whole post, Fargus. Why is it so important to you?

This is all so simple. Wilson gets a job where his main mission is to discredit the President of the United States. He gets this job through his wife, who works for the CIA. No, nothing unethical here. Karl Rove tries to protect his boss by pointing reporters to the fact that Wilson is a liar.

And you want to hang Rove for this? You should be advocating for the complete house-cleaning of the CIA.

I don't hear Bitter, Fargus, and certain anonymous posters complaining about low-level CIA operatives trying to do a hatchet job on the president. No, that's not important. What's more important is that Karl Rove is the embodiment of an effective Republican political advisor, which makes him public enemy #1 to the flailing lefties.

Oh, I get it. It's hard to knock slimy CIA operatives when you agree with what they're doing.

What sheer hypocrisy.

TV (Harry)

Shinobi said...

OF course most people in this country don't care. Most people in this country don't care about anything besides what Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes babies are going to look like. Just because Americans don't care about it hardly means it isn't newsworthy. A lot of the things they DO care about are damned stupid, how do you think we end up with stories on puppies and celebrities?

Way to drink the party Kool-Aid there Chris, way to go. Doesn't it bother you even the tiniest bit that one of our presidents senior officials would share information about a covert operative? Even a little? For though he didn't out her, he certainly didn't do her any favors.

Anonymous said...

Hey Shinobi,

Something your mom should have done a long time ago.

---- *SMACK* -----

Now Smarten Up!

(Ah - I feel better!)

Jason said...

It's hard to knock slimy CIA operatives when you agree with what they're doing.

What sheer hypocrisy.

Anonymous said...

Right wing toolbags,

All this bitching about the MSM's horrible bias against Bush would go a lot further if it hadn't sat on the story for two year. Man conservatives are getting dumber by the minute.