McClellan's Publisher Required 'Integrity & Candor,' Not Bush Defense

Peter Osnos, the liberal founder of PublicAffairs books who “worked very closely” with Scott McClellan on his anti-Bush screed which has enraptured the news media, denied, the Washington Post reported Friday, that McClellan had “undergone heavy-handed editing,” but in maintaining that he had not steered McClellan to write anything he didn't believe, Osnos exposed a political agenda as he conceded he had no interest in a pro-George W. Bush book. Equating criticism of the Bush administration with “integrity and candor,” Osnos, the former Washington Post reporter and editor who in March denounced Rush Limbaugh as “bombastic, aggressive, and mean,” told the Post:
We are journalists, independent-minded publishers. We weren't interested in a book that was just a defense of the Bush administration. It had to pass our test of independence, integrity and candor.
An excerpt from the May 30 front page Washington Post article, “McClellan Says Book's Tone Evolved: Aide-Turned-Critic Tells of Growing Disillusionment with Bush Administration,” by reporters Dan Eggen and Linton Weeks:
....McClellan and Peter Osnos, the founder of PublicAffairs, the small company that published "What Happened," rebutted suggestions from some Bush defenders, including former press secretary Ari Fleischer, that McClellan may have had a ghostwriter or undergone heavy-handed editing. Fleischer and others have repeatedly said that the book does not "sound like" McClellan, who is known as genial and soft-spoken.

McClellan said that he started focusing on writing the book about a year ago and that the work was especially intense over the past several months as the publishing date approached.

Osnos said McClellan just needed editorial guidance to tell the story he wanted to tell all along.

"First we had to ascertain what kind of book he wanted to write," said Osnos, a former Washington Post reporter and editor. "We are journalists, independent-minded publishers. We weren't interested in a book that was just a defense of the Bush administration. It had to pass our test of independence, integrity and candor."...

Osnos called the book "a really sophisticated, thoughtful, reasoned and, in many ways, pained portrait of a president" and said, "The Bush he came to serve went off the rails."

He also dismissed suggestions that McClellan is merely hoping to cash in. Unlike some larger publishing houses, he said, PublicAffairs almost never pays more than a five-figure advance. "No one has ever done a book for PublicAffairs for the money," he said....
My May 29 NewsBusters posting, “McClellan's Publisher a Liberal: Advances Soros & Slams Limbaugh,” recounted:
Peter Osnos, who wrote Wednesday that he "worked very closely" with Scott McClellan on McClellan's new book published by PublicAffairs which Osnos founded, is a liberal whose publishing house is affiliated with the far-left The Nation magazine and the publisher of The Prosecution of George W. Bush for Murder. PublicAffairs has a roster of authors who are nearly all liberals and/or liberal-leaning mainstream media figures, including six books by far-left bank-roller George Soros. On Wednesday's CBS Evening News, Ari Fleischer related that "Scott told me that his editor did 'tweak,' in Scott's word, a lot of the writing, especially in the last few months." In an "Eat the Press" blog entry Wednesday, Rachel Sklar asked Osnos: "Did you work directly on the book with McClellan? (Who was his editor?)" Osnos replied: "The editor was Lisa Kaufman and yes, I worked very closely with them."

A reporter and editor at the Washington Post during the 1970s and 1980s before going into book publishing, Osnos pens a weekly column for the left of center The Century Foundation. In a March column he denounced Rush Limbaugh as "bombastic, aggressive, and mean," bemoaning how the late William F. Buckley Jr. left behind "a right-wing culture that tends to be as coarse and leaden as his demeanor could be buoyant," charging Buckley provided "unfortunate cover to others who followed with a spirit that was distinctly and consistently malevolent."

In contrast, he hailed the late left-wing columnist Molly Ivins and wished she had more impact: "In the contest for power in America, Molly Ivins had a good perch in her column, nearly perfect pitch, and, alas, too little influence." Ruminating this week about the Kennedy family's legacy in the wake of Senator Ted Kennedy's cancer diagnosis, Osnos asserted that "we are a distinctly better country for the message" which "Ted conveyed about our priorities as a people."...

PublicAffairs is part of the Perseus Books Group, which also owns Nation Books, "a project of The Nation Institute" which publishes the magazine of the same name, and Vanguard Press, whose home page now features The Prosecution of George W. Bush for Murder, a new book by Vincent Bugliosi that "presents a tight, meticulously researched legal case that puts George W. Bush on trial in an American courtroom for the murder of nearly 4,000 American soldiers fighting the war in Iraq."...
Brent Baker
Brent Baker
Brent Baker is the Steven P.J. Wood Senior Fellow and VP for Research and Publications at the Media Research Center