Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Mad as hell, and not going to take this anymore?

I didn't post this yesterday, while in the throes of All-Star fever (Can't catch it! It's gone!), but it brought a huge smile to my face, so I wanted to make sure I didn't forget about it.

In lieu of the revelation that White House Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove leaked the identity of CIA operative Valerie Plame to Time reporter Matthew Cooper, Democrats (such as Senators Harry Reid and Charles Schumer) went on attack mode. After all, didn't President Bush say that he would fire anyone involved in the leak? On Monday, the White House Press Corps played the dogs, while White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan was the raw meat.

Here's how the press briefing began:

Q: Does the President stand by his pledge to fire anyone involved in the leak of a name of a CIA operative?

Mr. McClellan: Terry, I appreciate your question. I think your question is being asked relating to some reports that are in reference to an ongoing criminal investigation. The criminal investigation that you reference is something that continues at this point. And as I've previously stated, while that investigation is ongoing, the White House is not going to comment on it.

Hiding behind "I can't comment on an ongoing investigation" wasn't good enough for the reporters, however, and they kept going after McClellan.

Q: So could I just ask, when did you change your mind to say that it was okay to comment during the course of an investigation before, but now it's not?

Q: Scott, can I ask you this; did Karl Rove commit a crime?

Q: When did they ask you to stop commenting on it, Scott? Can you peg down a date?

How about this exchange?

Q: Scott, I mean, just -- I mean, this is ridiculous. The notion that you're going to stand before us after having commented with that level of detail and tell people watching this that somehow you decided not to talk. You've got a public record out there. Do you stand by your remarks from that podium, or not?

Mr. McClellan: And again, David, I'm well aware, like you, of what was previously said, and I will be glad to talk about it at the appropriate time. The appropriate time is when the investigation --

Q: Why are you choosing when it's appropriate and when it's inappropriate?

Mr. McClellan: If you'll let me finish --

Q: No, you're not finishing -- you're not saying anything. You stood at that podium and said that Karl Rove was not involved. And now we find out that he spoke out about Joseph Wilson's wife. So don't you owe the American public a fuller explanation? Was he involved, or was he not? Because, contrary to what you told the American people, he did, indeed, talk about his wife, didn't he?

Mr. McClellan: David, there will be a time to talk about this, but now is not the time to talk about it.

Q: Do you think people will accept that, what you're saying today?

Mr. McClellan: Again, I've responded to the question.

Just give those two some boxing gloves and let 'em go at it. Jab! Jab! Bob-and-weave, bob-and-weave. Jab! Jab!

There's plenty more from the official White House transcript, if you're interested in reading it.

Are reporters mad because one of their own, Judith Miller, was sent to jail over this, as the New York Daily News' Michael Goodwin writes? Maybe. But I think there's a Howard Beale complex among the White House Press Corps, as well. And it makes the old Journalism major in me smile.