In Op-ed, McClellan's Deputy Suggests He's Lying In His Memoirs

Trent Duffy, who was deputy press secretary to Scott Clellan in the White House, appeared on Monday’s Washington Post op-ed page suggesting there’s a lot of lying in McClellan’s new book, including that the White House press corps was too sheepish and deferential:

The press was easy on us? How many times did you race up the ramp from the briefing room to your office after a raucous media cross-examination to complain how the press was unfair, naive, too tough and way too "liberal." Would any in the White House press corps agree they were softies?

Duffy's open letter to McClellan began with a series of truth-or-lie questions:

– Was it the truth or a lie when you told me, during a series of personal discussions in your West Wing office in late 2005 and early 2006 (at the apex of what you now call your period of "disillusionment" and "dismay"), that you were happy in your job and proud to serve President Bush and that you had no intention of leaving soon? What about in April 2006, when rumors swirled about a change at the podium, and you again told me you wanted to stay? -- Was it the truth or a lie when you told me around Christmas that the excerpts released by your publisher were being "taken out of context" and that your book wasn't going to be a hatchet job? -- Was it the truth or a lie when you assured your former deputies that you wanted our "full participation" in the book? -- Was it the truth or a lie when, after countless briefings, you complained that the White House press corps was too tough, unfair, over the top and didn't get it? -- And, finally, you like Barack Obama's message and don't know if you're a Republican?Please forgive me, Scott, if this sounds personal, but you've just filleted me and everyone who worked with you, for you and for George W. Bush for being propagandists, manipulators and lemmings. That isn't exactly a bank shot. Since you have set the standard that it's honorable -- indeed, that it's in the public interest -- to harshly critique one's former boss in public, allow me to refresh your memory if some of the above doesn't come quickly to mind. Your recent assertion that you were becoming "disillusioned" and "dismayed" in the 10 months before your April 2006 departure is amazing. It does provide you with a neat excuse for suggesting that you left the White House on principle. But I'm having trouble believing it, as is most everyone who worked closely with you at the White House and in the press corps during this time. Yes, I know you were troubled over the Valerie Plame case, but you told me repeatedly you were gleeful about your job. Remember? You hired me as your deputy in October 2003 and said more than once that the typical tenure of a White House press secretary before burnout was about two years. After two years went by, we were about halfway into what you now call your period of disillusionment. As Christmas approached, your mood was as festive as the White House eggnog. Seeing your delight, I suspected you might be having second thoughts about serving only two years or so. So I asked you. You said you weren't going anywhere, you loved the job, you were feeling good. Now, you say you were actually suffering through a gut-wrenching ordeal and were looking for the exits. When the first "teaser" excerpts of your book hit the press in December, my phone lighted up with calls from reporters. Before responding, I called you; you said the publisher had taken liberties, you didn't mean to attack the president and to point reporters to your 2006 interview with Larry King as your genuine take on things. You told me that your book was still about the poisonous partisan atmosphere in Washington and didn't breathe a hint about Iraq or Hurricane Katrina. This was long after you were outside the White House bubble, amigo...All that aside, the revelations that you are "intrigued by Senator Obama's message" and that you don't know if you are a Republican anymore make me wonder if you ever had any convictions. If you were just drinking the Kool-Aid at the White House, have you now switched flavors with your newfound friends?

The headline on the piece is "Will the Real Scott Please Stand Up?"Robert Novak also takes on McClellan's book right below Duffy on the page, reporting the obvious point that McClellan strenuously attempts to ignore the realities of the Plame-Wilson political war on the president.

Tim Graham
Tim Graham
Tim Graham is Executive Editor of NewsBusters and is the Media Research Center’s Director of Media Analysis