Q. How can Scott McClellan tell he's pushed his turncoat trip a tad too far?
A. When even leading media liberals suggest his reputation's in tatters.
Say what you will, but I like Joan Walsh, editor of Salon.com. Liberal? No doubt. But also a grownup. On this evening's Hardball, Walsh had the integrity to acknowledge that by accusing Sean Hannity and Bill O'Reilly of regurgitating Bush White House talking points, McClellan was looking "worse for wear."
View video here.
Sitting in for Chris Matthews, Mike Barnicle [who I must say does a more "fair 'n balanced" job than the regular guy] rolled video from the this past Friday's show in which McClellan leveled his accusation.
CHRIS MATTHEWS: Did you see Fox television as a tool when you were in the White House, as a useful avenue for getting your message out?
SCOTT MCCLELLAN: Well, I make a distinction between the journalist and between the commentators. I mean, certainly there were commentators and others, pundits, at Fox News that were helpful to the White House.
MATTHEWS: Did you use --
MCCLELLAN: Certainly we got talking points --
MATTHEWS: Did people say: "call Sean [Hannity], call Bill [O'Reilly], call whoever? Did you do that as a regular thing?
MCCLELLAN: It wasn’t necessarily something I was doing, but it was something we at the White House were doing, getting them talking points and making sure they knew where we were coming from.
Barnicle then rolled tape of O'Reilly from last night's Factor stating he had never received talking points from the White House and calling McClellan's assertion "a lie."
McClellan was a guest on O'Reilly's radio show today, and as per the tape Barnicle played, admitted that "the truth is that I messed up. I was specifically not trying to single anyone out, including you."
Pat Buchanan was first up to comment on Hardball, opining that McClellan left a false impression. Then Walsh, to her credit, unloaded.
JOAN WALSH: This story, for liberals, was too good not to be true. It sort of conformed to all of our stereotypes. We enjoyed it for awhile. But, you know, from the minute Scott was talking with Chris he started backpedaling. You saw him say "well, I didn't do it. It wasn't the news guys. It wasn't Brit Hume. I'm not sure who, exactly."
And so, you know, it's rare that I would ever come to Bill O'Reilly's defense, but I don't see any evidence at this point that they were officially disseminating points one through nine, and they were then being parroted on Fox News.
On the other hand, you know, you have this network that bills itself as fair and balanced. It seems anything but, especially in its commentary segments. So, you know, it's understandable why people wanted to believe it. But, you know, Scott's looking a little bit worse for the wear today.
Was it all worth it, Scott?