CNN’s Costello: ‘Tell-All’ Books on Bush Point to ‘Suppressed Dissent’

NewsBusters.org - Media Research CenterCNN correspondent Carol Costello, covering the reaction to McClellan’s new "tell-all" book about the Bush administration on Thursday’s "American Morning," added some liberal-leaning psychoanalysis to the obligatory quotes from current and former administration officials and a clip from Rush Limbaugh. "Unflattering kiss and tells about the Bush administration are a dime a dozen. Spilling the beans: former Treasury secretary Paul O'Neill, former Iraq Envoy Paul Bremer, and former Senior Economic Adviser Larry Lindsay. From a psychological standpoint, that's not surprising. Analysts say the Bush administration demanded loyalty and suppressed dissent -- a perfect recipe for rebellion."

Costello included a clip of Dr. Gail Saltz, a psychiatrist, who noted that McClellan’s book "appears to be an act of revenge" done "in a potentially very self-destructive way." Because of this, she concluded that "you have to wonder about the guilt that they feel," because "they're asking for punishment, in a sense."

The CNN correspondent threw in an additional component, that of "ethics." For this, Costello brought in another "analyst," Business Week’s Bruce Weinstein, who noted that "[t]here's no statute of limitations on telling the truth. And he may be alienating people. But he may very well feel that, and perhaps justifiably so, that it's more important to be truthful and to let the American people know what was actually happening."

Besides Limbaugh, Costello included the reactions of Dana Perino, Ari Fleischer, Fran Townsend, and the conservative blog Red State, who said of McClellan, "what a scumbag."

The full transcript of Carol Costello’s report, which began near the bottom of the 6 am Eastern hour of Thursday’s "American Morning:"

JOHN ROBERTS: ‘Sad,’ ‘sour grapes,’ ‘total crap.’ That's what some of Scott McClellan's former colleagues are saying about his new book bashing the White House that he once served as Press Secretary. He claims the Bush administration used, ‘propaganda,’ to sell the war in Iraq.

KYRA PHILLIPS: And as you can see those accusations are pretty stunning, given -- and the feedback, as you heard from John -- given McClellan's long-time relationship with President Bush, but he's not the first former insider to tell-all about the Bush White House. CNN's Carol Costello has more.

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It appeared to be beautiful, as beautiful as a relationship made in the world of politics can be. That's Scott McClellan on his last day as White House spokesman.

SCOTT MCCLELLAN, FORMER WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Mr. President, it has been an extraordinary honor and privilege to have served you for more than seven years now.

COSTELLO: Now it's safe to say McClellan has burned that bridge and incinerated many more. His book, ‘What Happened,’ is a scathing account of the Bush administration's policies, so negative the President's new spokesperson, Dana Perino, says, ‘We are puzzled.’ Ari Fleischer, who was McClellan's boss at the White House, says passages in the book ‘don't sound like Scott.’ Others weren't so kind. Former Bush homeland security adviser Fran Townsend says McClellan's book is, well, ill-timed.

FRAN TOWNSEND, FORMER HOMELAND SECURITY ADVISER: For him to do this now, frankly, strikes me as self-serving, disingenuous, and unprofessional.

COSTELLO: The conservative blog Red State said ‘what a scum bag.’ And Rush Limbaugh called him another Republican turncoat.

RUSH LIMBAUGH, TALK SHOW HOST: They'll throw anybody under the bus, even their own grandmothers to have a seat of power with the liberals -- get their approval. Not just Scott McClellan. He's the worst example of it lately.

COSTELLO: Unflattering kiss and tells about the Bush administration are a dime a dozen. Spilling the beans: former Treasury secretary Paul O'Neill, former Iraq Envoy Paul Bremer, and former Senior Economic Adviser Larry Lindsay.

From a psychological standpoint, that's not surprising. Analysts say the Bush administration demanded loyalty and suppressed dissent -- a perfect recipe for rebellion.

DR. GAIL SALTZ, PSYCHIATRIST: When you see someone commit what appears to be an act of revenge and do it in a potentially very self-destructive way, you have to wonder about the guilt that they feel, all right? Because they're asking for punishment, in a sense.

COSTELLO: And Scott McClellan is certainly feeling a backlash. But ethicists look at it another way.

BRUCE WEINSTEIN, BUSINESSWEEK.COM: There's no statute of limitations on telling the truth. And he may be alienating people. But he may very well feel that, and perhaps justifiably so, that it's more important to be truthful and to let the American people know what was actually happening.

COSTELLO (on camera): Of course, only Scott McClellan can explain why he wrote this book and we should have an answer soon. He's about to hit the interview circuit to promote his book. Kyra, John?

ROBERTS: All right. Carol Costello for us this morning. Carol, thanks.

Matthew Balan
Matthew Balan
Matthew Balan is a news analyst at Media Research Center