At a morning briefing with reporters held by White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan, CBS correspondent John Roberts, still trying to make a name for himself within the network famous for its liberalism, used a crude sexual term to describe the nomination of President Bush's Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito.
As reported by Matt Drudge, Roberts asked the following question: "So, Scott, you said that -- or the President said, repeatedly, that Harriet Miers was the best person for the job. So does that mean that Alito is sloppy seconds, or what?"
Sloppy seconds is a slang term for having sexual intercourse with someone immediately following another person.
After Roberts's comments were brought to light by Drudge, CBS's damage control unit aka its blog Public Eye, printed an apology from the would-be-anchor. Roberts later apologized at the formal afternoon daily briefing. Read on for details and video.
Here's what Roberts said to Public Eye:
At the morning White House gaggle, I used an unfortunate choice of words in a question to Scott McClellan. Please be assured that there was no perjorative [sic] intent to my question. I was merely attempting to reconcile past statements about Harriet Miers with the President's new nominee for the Supreme Court.
The early morning White House gaggle is an informal, free-wheeling and often irreverent forum, which is not broadcast and generally not publicly available.
Obviously, my tone this morning was a little too casual.
As we all experience from time to time, it was one of those 'oops' moments which we wish we could rewind and re-record.
I apologize to anyone who took offense to my poor choice of words. I can assure you I meant none.
Best case scenario, Roberts uses terms of which he has no knowledge to attack a Republican administration. Worst case, he meant something derogatory. It's hard to see how this can be spun away. It also makes one wonder. Will Roberts be so eager in the future to make a fuss when administration officials make a verbal miscue?
UPDATE 16:00. At this afternoon's formal press briefing, Roberts apologized for his remarks. Here is the relevant transcript as recorded by the MRC's Ken Shepard. More to come.
Scott, on the subject of rude, my apologies for my unfortunate choice of words this morning to you. But I think the question bears asking again, and that is that the President said repeatedly when he nominated Harriet Miers that she is the best person for the job. Does that in any way indicate that while Sam Alito may be well-qualified for the Supreme Court he is not, as was ascribed to Harriet Miers, the best person."
UPDATE 16:30. I'm starting to favor the mistake of ignorance theory for Roberts's remarks, especially since it appears he can't spell pejorative correctly in his apology. After reading a comment from NB reader jwm45 to this effect, I called up CBS's Ververs who told me that Roberts had emailed in the mea culpa. Time to issue another one?