What Scott McClellan said

The White House press secretary finally uttered two words of substance about the Valerie Plame case last week. The White House wants to revise them.


Tim Grieve
November 10, 2005 9:06PM (UTC)

If the American people were already calling into question the integrity of George W. Bush, and if Scott McClellan's credibility was already in doubt after his early assurances in the Valerie Plame case, what can be said of this? At a press briefing last week, NBC's David Gregory walked McClellan through what is known so far about White House involvement in the Plame case. "Whether there's a question of legality, we know for a fact that there was involvement," Gregory said. "We know that Karl Rove, based on what he and his lawyer have said, did have a conversation about somebody who Patrick Fitzgerald said was a covert officer of the Central Intelligence Agency. We know that Scooter Libby also had conversations."

McClellan interjected: "That's accurate."

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Or at least, that's what the videotape of the press briefing seems to show, and the transcripts provided by Congressional Quarterly and the Federal News Service agree. The White House transcript of the briefing has it differently. In the White House version, McClellan interrupts Gregory by saying, "I don't think that's accurate." And, according to a report in Editor & Publisher, the White House is pushing CQ and FNS to change their transcripts to fit the White House version of reality.

They're not budging. "They asked me to take a look at it about a week ago," Kirk Hanneman, news director of Federal News Service, tells E&P. "We took a look at it because they did have a problem with it and in the end, we had what we originally had and we are sticking by that because we believe it is correct." Hanneman says the White House version of McClellan's comments may well have reflected what McClellan meant to say or wishes he had said, but that it doesn't reflect what he actually said.

CQ's editor, David Rapp, had a similar response. He says the White House contacted CQ and asked for a "correction," which CQ refused. "Their comment is a little bit bit incongruous," he said. "It doesn't jive with what we have."


Tim Grieve

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

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