ABC's Martha Raddatz: 'Disappointed' McClellan Didn't Bash Bush Sooner

ABC reporter Martha Raddatz openly editorialized on Wednesday's "Good Morning America" that she is "disappointed" in former White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan for not slamming the Bush White House sooner. McClellan, who has written a tell-all book bashing the President, Karl Rove and other operatives, was prominently featured as GMA's top story.

After being prompted by co-host Robin Roberts for her opinion, Raddatz unloaded: "...I'm really surprised....and disappointed." She lamented that as press secretary, "[McClellan] didn't stand up and say wait a minute, I'm not going to say these kind of things anymore. So, we're surprised." Co-host Diane Sawyer could not restrain herself from describing the new book in the most dire terms. In an intro, she breathlessly announced, "A scathing presidential review. One of the President's most loyal political aides turns on him..."

Later, she termed the book a "bombshell." Raddatz called the tome, which claims that President Bush used "propaganda" to sell the war in Iraq, "brutal" and announced it delivered "one stunning criticism after another."

A transcript of the May 28 segment, which aired at 7:02am, follows:

7am tease

DIANE SAWYER: New this morning: A scathing presidential review. One of the President's most loyal political aides turns on him, saying President Bush is responsible for, quote, strategic blunders, a misguided war and abandoning honesty when it was needed the most.

7:01am

SAWYER: Bombshell book.

ROBIN ROBERTS: It is. It really is.

7:02am

SAWYER: But we begin with the harsh criticism of President Bush, from inside his own camp. Scott McClellan, the former White House press secretary is speaking out in a new book, making headlines with this new book, saying the President has made grave mistakes and blunders during his tenure. Our Martha Raddatz has the very latest for us. Good morning, Martha.

MARTHA RADDATZ: Good morning, Robin. There is one stunning criticism after another in this book. But it is all summed up on the back cover.

ABC GRAPHIC: Bush Aide Slams White House: McClellan: War a Strategic Blunder

PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: One of these days he and I are going to be rocking in chairs in Texas talking about the good old days of his time as the press secretary. [Screech as tape theatrically rewinds.]

RADDATZ: Well, not so fast. McClellan says through his three years as press secretary, his defense of the President was sincere.

SCOTT MCCLELLAN [File footage]: The President has said no one was to get to the bottom of it more than he does.

RADDATZ: But now, McClellan says some comments were "badly misguided." On the war in Iraq, McClellan is brutal, calling it a "strategic blunder," a "grave mistake." But McClellan says there was a even more fundamental mistake made in the Bush presidency, quote, "a decision to turn away from candor and honesty when these qualities were most needed." He said the administration instead used "propaganda" to sell the war. McClellan says the real jumping off point for writing the book was the leaking of CIA officer Valerie Plame's name to reporters and the deception, says McClellan, in which he unwittingly took part in defending Karl Rove, then the President's senior adviser and Scooter Libby, then Vice President Cheney's chief of staff.

MCCLELLAN: I spoke with those individuals, as I pointed out, and those individuals assured me they were not involved in this. And that's where it stands.

RADDATZ: McClellan says that when his words were exposed as false, quote, "I was constrained by my duties and loyalty to the President and unable to comment." Now he says he was at best misled by Rove and Libby, calling Rove, "an operative who places political gain ahead of the national interest." Last night, Rove had a few words for McClellan.

KARL ROVE [On "Hannity and Colmes"]: It doesn't sound like Scott, it really doesn't. Not the Scott McClellan I've known for a long time. Sounds like a left-wing blogger. Second of all, you're right. If he had these moral qualms, he should have spoken up about them.

RADDATZ: The current White House press secretary, Dana Perino, said similar things. She said, that is not the Scott I know. But, Robin, clearly the White House is stunned by the harshness of this book.

ROBERTS: Absolutely. So, Martha, you were there for so many of McClellan's briefings, day after day after day. What's your reaction?

RADDATZ: Well, I have to say, I'm really surprised, too, Robin. And, and disappointed. Because we did hear him day after day after day defending the President, and he did not exactly walk away from this job. It didn't seem to be willingly. He didn't stand up and say wait a minute, I'm not going to say these kind of things anymore. So we're surprised.

ROBERTS: Martha Raddatz at the White House. Thank you, Martha.

Scott Whitlock
Scott Whitlock
Scott Whitlock is the senior news analyst for the Media Research Center and a contributing editor for NewsBusters.org