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Thursday, September 08, 2005

Scott McLellan -- No C.J. Craig Is He

Courtesy of KGB, I bring you this absolutely surreal exchange between a reporter with a simple yes or no question and a press secretary who knows there's only one way to keep his job.

The following exchange is posted at KGB without a link to a source, but if this isn't McLellan then the fabricator deserves some sort of award for mimicking perfectly a pattern of evasiveness we've come to expect from administration spokesmen, and for capturing precisely the tone McLellan has adopted every other time he's been confronted with a direct question to which there is no safe answer (the truth, of course, being demonstrably unsafe for -- and evidently odious to -- the administration).

Q Scott, does the President retain confidence in his FEMA Director and Secretary of Homeland Security?

MR. McCLELLAN: And again, David, see, this is where some people want to look at the blame game issue, and finger-point. We're focused on solving problems, and we're doing everything we can --

Q What about the question?

MR. McCLELLAN: We're doing everything we can in support --

Q We know all that.

MR. McCLELLAN: -- of the Department of Homeland Security and FEMA.

Q Does he retain complete confidence --

MR. McCLELLAN: We're going to continue. We appreciate the great effort that all of those at FEMA, including the head of FEMA, are doing to help the people in the region. And I'm just not going to engage in the blame game or finger-pointing that you're trying to get me to engage.

Q Okay, but that's not at all what I was asking.

MR. McCLELLAN: Sure it is. It's exactly what you're trying to play.

Q You have your same point you want to make about the blame game, which you've said enough now. I'm asking you a direct question, which you're dodging.

MR. McCLELLAN: No --

Q Does the President retain complete confidence in his Director of FEMA and Secretary of Homeland Security, yes or no?

MR. McCLELLAN: I just answered the question.

Q Is the answer "yes" on both?

MR. McCLELLAN: And what you're doing is trying to engage in a game of finger-pointing.

Q There's a lot of criticism. I'm just wondering if he still has confidence.

MR. McCLELLAN: -- and blame-gaming. What we're trying to do is solve problems, David. And that's where we're going to keep our focus.

Q So you're not -- you won't answer that question directly?

MR. McCLELLAN: I did. I just did.

Q No, you didn't. Yes or no? Does he have complete confidence or doesn't he?

MR. McCLELLAN: No, if you want to continue to engage in finger-pointing and blame-gaming, that's fine --

Q Scott, that's ridiculous. I'm not engaging in any of that.

MR. McCLELLAN: It's not ridiculous.

Q Don't try to accuse me of that. I'm asking you a direct question and you should answer it. Does he retain complete confidence in his FEMA Director and Secretary of Homeland Security, yes or no?

MR. McCLELLAN: Like I said -- that's exactly what you're engaging in.

Q I'm not engaging in anything. I'm asking you a question about what the President's views are --

MR. McCLELLAN: Absolutely -- absolutely --

Q -- under pretty substantial criticism of members of his administration. Okay? And you know that, and everybody watching knows that, as well.

MR. McCLELLAN: No, everybody watching this knows, David, that you're trying to engage in a blame game.

Q I'm trying to engage?

MR. McCLELLAN: Yes.

Q I am trying to engage?

MR. McCLELLAN: That's correct.

6 Comments:

Blogger Kevin said...

Hi, KGB here...

You can get that surreal exchange directly from the White House:

http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2005/09/20050907-2.html

The video is available as well.

12:56 PM  
Blogger Moon said...

Thanks for the link, KGB.

1:49 PM  
Anonymous binky said...

It used to be I had to travel to Brazil or Cuba for outstanding moments of surrealism in politics.

2:35 PM  
Anonymous Yaga said...

Ah -- you missed the nice exchange at the end of that briefing when someone tried to call Scott on his behavior:

Q Scott, you declined in this news conference to express the President's explicit confidence in Secretary Chertoff or Director Brown --

MR. McCLELLAN: Absolutely not.

Q In the past you've said anyone who serves in this administration does so at the pleasure of the President and with his full confidence.

MR. McCLELLAN: This is an attempt by some in this room to engage in finger-pointing and blame game and I'm just not going to do that. I've made it very clear --

Q Can you say the President has full confidence?

MR. McCLELLAN: I've made it very clear -- and the President spoke about them last week, and his comments stand, in terms of what he has said about the great work that they have been doing round-the-clock, 24 hours a day, to help people on the ground. There are some in this room that want to continue to engage in that. We're going to continue to focus on solving problems and getting help to people on the ground.

If you all want to continue to engage in that, that's fine. But we appreciate the efforts of Secretary Chertoff, Undersecretary Brown, and all the others at FEMA and at the state and local level that are working round-the-clock to help the people in the region.

--
The White House press briefings are always fun; if you look at the one for the 8th you can see Scott's really trying to change his tone from that of the above, with some success.

8:04 AM  
Anonymous binky said...

I am already well past the nausea-induction point on both "finger-pointing" and "blame-game." This morning, the most ridiculous use I heard was a response to Nancy Pelosi. Pelosi said something like: the investigation won't be bipartisan if it doesn't have equal numbers of Ds and Rs. The response? "You're just finger-pointing AND blame-gaming." I actually thought about it for a momeny (because I was waking up to NPR) wait, where was the poinnting? the blaming? Then I woke up and remembered that reality had nothing to do with it.

12:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

jan 17 - I watched yet another press conference where any question of substance was greeted with a no comment or /I need very specific info to answer you ( was speaking to david gegory). I want to know what country i'm living in. This administration forgets inner workings of the government are not subject to a no comment, nor is there any such thing as these meetings are confidential or is any question not important enough to answer. The government belongs to us, the people and all of it's inner workings are subject to our review, speculation, grievance you name it. They have a duty to comment. I pay Scott Mclellan's salary as do we all. Why don't these reporters ban together and demand that the people want to know. He has no right to end a meeting simply because he doesn't like the people's questions. If he can't answer these questions than he should not be press secretary - his job is to answer questions and provide information as a link to our government workings - not to provide endorsements for the white house. He is not in charge of the reporters we are - the people. What does he do for work if he can't provide American's with information through the press for more than 15 minutes without answering anything. Let's start a petition to demand his resignation - for not doing what we pay him to. This is not a corporation (yet). And when he challenges reporters and gives them his authoritative response - then they should strike back with the fact that they are an inquiring citizen whom he works for. He doesn't work for George Bush - anyone on the taxpayer's dime works for us.

7:40 PM  

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