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God Bless Helen Thomas
November 9, 2005 9:55 AM   Subscribe

Being Press Secretary is a difficult job. Link to a hilariously uncomfortable transcript of Scott McClellan dancing his way through a White House press briefing doing his best to clarify whether or not the American government sanctions terror.
posted by jonson (52 comments total)

 
White House Press Secretary dodges difficult questions in order to delay having to answer them truthfully. News at 11.

*yawn*
posted by NationalKato at 10:03 AM on November 9, 2005


I'm not going to discuss an ongoing press conference. There will be a time and place for these comments.
posted by odinsdream at 10:04 AM on November 9, 2005


Scott McClellan : defending the indefensible.
posted by crunchland at 10:05 AM on November 9, 2005


Video linked here.
posted by Armitage Shanks at 10:06 AM on November 9, 2005


The White House's War on Transcripts
posted by rxrfrx at 10:06 AM on November 9, 2005


These comments could not be more clear! Please refer to our website for more about the comments I just made.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 10:08 AM on November 9, 2005


It does strike the layperson as somewhat hypocritical. That GW says we dont tortue, yet Cheney is asking for the ability to torture (or at least the ability to not get in trouble for it).

The transcript is quite funny to see how well he dodges the questions and weaves his answers..
posted by SirOmega at 10:09 AM on November 9, 2005


"I've told you as vaguely and ambiguously as I can! If you want it any less clear than that you're going to have to look at our prior statements and press releases."
posted by Pollomacho at 10:13 AM on November 9, 2005


I assume that should read: "...doing his best to clarify whether or not the American government sanctions torture," right?
posted by nobody at 10:14 AM on November 9, 2005


i find it annoying that whenever this subject comes up the president and his spokespeople launch into a bunch of fear-baiting palaver rather than explaining how they can be against torture while asking for an exemption for the cia

my translation of all this is "we're going to say we're against it but we're going to do it if we can get away with it"
posted by pyramid termite at 10:15 AM on November 9, 2005


So this is what it feels like to be the Marquis de Sade's press secretary?
posted by petrilli at 10:16 AM on November 9, 2005


nobody: "I assume that should read: "...doing his best to clarify whether or not the American government sanctions torture," right?"

Torture is terror.
posted by Plutor at 10:22 AM on November 9, 2005


Love the Orwell and Costello routine.
posted by kingfisher, his musclebound cat at 10:22 AM on November 9, 2005


I like how he lists off the names of presumably Arab terrorists as justifications for terror. It's saying "Well if you're bad enough we'll torture, oh and by the way we define what bad is."
posted by geoff. at 10:24 AM on November 9, 2005


Orwell and Costello? Brilliant.

What McClellan should have said is the obvious: "Of course we don't torture people. But we'd like to start."
posted by klangklangston at 10:27 AM on November 9, 2005


"Hilariously uncomfortable" to read, just plain fucking uncomfortable for the taxi drivers, local political opponents, and other unfortunates stuck in Guantanamo Bay and the rest of the CIA's friendly hostelries, getting their legs broken, faces disfigured, teeth pulled out, etc etc etc.

They should put McClellan and Bush through the system they've created and approved.

"Do you approve of torture Mr Bush?" (pokes steel spike harder up Bush's anus)

"Er, well I've answered that question earlier and I'd like to refer you to our press releases..."
posted by cleardawn at 10:27 AM on November 9, 2005


See Scott Run. Run Scott, Run!
posted by iamck at 10:29 AM on November 9, 2005


It does seem that the White House insists on redefining the term "torture" to basically not include whatever it happens to be doing at the time. As such you end up in a situation like the one put forward in last night's TDS -- "if we're doing it it's not illegal, therefore it's not illegal if it's something we do." I always liked Catch-22, I just didn't think I'd live to see it put forward as the basic blueprint of today's US government...
posted by clevershark at 10:30 AM on November 9, 2005


So, does that mean that Cheney wants to torture Libby? Or lock him in a cage to be constantly raped by bears or something like that?
posted by clevershark at 10:34 AM on November 9, 2005


Can you imagine how fucking quiet the Thursday night poker games must be in the White House?
posted by NationalKato at 10:36 AM on November 9, 2005


Scott McClellan is the biggest whore in politics. I don't know anyone who's lied as much in their lives as this horror of a man does at every single press conference.
posted by Manhasset at 10:37 AM on November 9, 2005


If only these people had had the foresight and courage to ask those in power similar questions during the lead-up to war.
posted by you just lost the game at 10:38 AM on November 9, 2005


"I assume that should read: "...doing his best to clarify whether or not the American government sanctions torture," right?"

nobody is right (heh), I did indeed mean to write "torture". I guess with all the TerrorTalk coming from the press secretary, it's just right at my fingertips these days.
posted by jonson at 10:43 AM on November 9, 2005


Metafilter: Love the Orwell and Costello routine.
posted by lodurr at 10:45 AM on November 9, 2005


Scott McClellan is the biggest whore in politics. I don't know anyone who's lied as much in their lives as this horror of a man does at every single press conference.

Ahem: You do remember Ari Fleischer, don't you?

At least Scott seems to care that he's lying.
posted by lodurr at 10:46 AM on November 9, 2005


Au contraire Petrilli, you are putting the Bush "complex" in too good of light by alluding their actions to those of the Marquis.

The Marquis was merely and merrily testing and tasting the limits of bourgois taste and sensibilty against his backdrop of literary possibilities, eroticism, and human imagination in the 18th century. He was a forerunner of surealist, dadaist, and "horror film script writer-ists" of the best kind.

On the other hand, he was just another bored son of a wealthy patriarch.
posted by tzelig at 10:52 AM on November 9, 2005


What indicates that he seems to care? At least Ari quit his job to end the humiliation. I honestly don't know why Scott stays on.
posted by odinsdream at 10:54 AM on November 9, 2005


I think he only cares, lodurr, because he knows he's really bad at it. I think he fears the wrath of Cheney and Rove should he say something really stupid. That and not getting a talking-media-head job when it's all over.

Seriously, guys, can we get a new actor to portray Press Secretary? This guy's so bad he should have his SAG card revoked.
posted by sarahnade at 10:54 AM on November 9, 2005


I feel kind of bad for poor Scotty and his freakish baby hands. What an awful job.
posted by S.C. at 10:55 AM on November 9, 2005


I watched this on c-span.org ealier today.

My favorite part is when someone in the press corps asks if he ever wakes up wishing he were doing a completely different job or something.

You could hear McClellan's gulp as he spouted the usual "I love being here, putting the POTUS' case before you..."

that was a Gannon-quality softball question that should have allowed him to pause with a smile on his face, then deny wishing he had any other job.

McCurry had those human instincts, even when under the worst fellatio-related assaults. Then again, he was smart.
posted by Busithoth at 10:55 AM on November 9, 2005


sarahnade, I seem to recall McClellan taking the trouble to point out, last week, that he'd 'provided wrong information' w.r.t. Scooter and teh T-Blossom's involvement in 'plamegate'. I just can't imagine getting that out of Ari.

As for Ari quitting to end the humiliation -- hell, the guy still flatly denies that he lied about anything.

The Ari or Scott question might be akin to a "dogs or cats" test, but with moral justification. A lot of people seem to feel that conviction somehow ameliorates the sin committed. Other people believe that sins are sins, and that their zealous pursuit only exacerbates the wrong. I confess I fall into the latter camp: 'In for a penny, in for a pound' just doesn't apply to most of the moral situations I've seen in my life.
posted by lodurr at 11:01 AM on November 9, 2005


... oh, and: Are we all so jaded that none of us will dare speak of "hard work" anymore? (that's so 10-2004....) and jonson gave us such a good setup...
posted by lodurr at 11:04 AM on November 9, 2005


It does strike the layperson as somewhat hypocritical

Oh, but it's all explained quite clearly on Fox. They won't actually use the exemption, it's just there to scare the terrorists.
posted by CynicalKnight at 11:30 AM on November 9, 2005


I really don't like McClellan. He can't speak and they may as well just replace him with a robot that spits out the talking points of the day. Ari could at lease enunciate and didn't seem like such a boob. Evil yes. Dunderheaded Boob no.

I thought Helen Thomas was banned from the White House because she consistently asked tough questions like this. How did she get back in there?
posted by aaronscool at 11:43 AM on November 9, 2005


I love Helen Thomas. She rips into Ari, and he clearly despises her despite his smiles. So he refuses to answer, and that is like blood in the water for the other correspondents.
posted by smackfu at 11:46 AM on November 9, 2005


Also, I can't stand the Indian reporter. No matter how badly things are going, Scott can reliably call on him and get some random question about India that he can spout a paragraph on. The only reason he's there is because he's so on-message.
posted by smackfu at 11:51 AM on November 9, 2005


Q: How do you tell when the whitehuse press secretary is lying?
A: His lips are moving.
posted by blue_beetle at 11:52 AM on November 9, 2005


Helen Thomas wasn't booted from the room, she was just demoted to the last row during questions and answers (though only if it's a full house, then she must go to the back of the bus).

She is pretty good. It's kind of sad to think that a septogenarian is leading the pack of watchdogs, and she's got a good lead to boot.

I used to watch these obsessively, but after 2001, it became a depressing witness to the flaccid nature of our free press.
posted by Busithoth at 11:56 AM on November 9, 2005


Helen was never banned; she was just shunned for a long time. I think maybe it got to be embarrassing when she starting talking about it in interviews and in the "Not My Job" segment on WWDTM. She'd still be shunned in a Presidential PC.
posted by lodurr at 12:02 PM on November 9, 2005


"Q But Scott, do you see the contradiction --
MR. McCLELLAN: Jessica, go ahead. "
Speaks volumes.
Holding two completely contradictory concepts as both valid is not only Orwellian, it’s schizophrenic.

Which is why Capt. Kirk uses it to make robots and A.I. computers ‘asplode.
posted by Smedleyman at 1:39 PM on November 9, 2005


Helen Thomas for Supreme Court justice.
posted by bigskyguy at 1:52 PM on November 9, 2005


For those of you who'd like to snag the latest White House and State Department press conference transcripts, the gubmint actually provides a free service that, I have to admit, is pretty good. Maybe it's one of the few things they're doing well right now.

Anyway, rss feeds, e-mail alerts, and podcasts of the State Department and the White House can be subscribed to here.
posted by Deathalicious at 2:47 PM on November 9, 2005


Deathalicious; are those transcripts before or after the white house has "revised" them for "accuracy" ?
posted by odinsdream at 2:53 PM on November 9, 2005


CynicalKnight: That's hilarious.
posted by brundlefly at 2:57 PM on November 9, 2005


Scott is exactly the sort of soul-less, lying scumbag that happens to be exactly what's required by his role as President Bush's interface to the world.

I mean come on, you don't honestly think that a moral man could actually associate himself with the people who currently occupy the White House, do you?
posted by clevershark at 5:07 PM on November 9, 2005


I mean come on, you don't honestly think that a moral man could actually associate himself with the people who currently occupy the White House, do you?

Yes I do if that person thought what they were doing was the right thing (ends justified the means sort of thing). I just don't like is automaton canned responses. The man does not look human up there. I honestly think they deliberately picked the least photogenic, least empathetic mouthpiece, who only had the ability to memorize the talking point of the day, they could find.
posted by aaronscool at 5:46 PM on November 9, 2005


I am reminded of the man whom Hunter S. Thompson referred to as "otherwise unemployable"
Ron Ziegler
, Nixon's press secretary.

"If my answers sound confusing, I think they are confusing because the questions are confusing and the situation is confusing."
posted by Danf at 7:47 PM on November 9, 2005


WH Press Secretary must be the worst job in the entire world, even worse than these. It looks like Scotty's painful tenure is coming to close as journalists have started to lose respect for him. Good riddance.
posted by caddis at 8:19 AM on November 10, 2005


Deathalicious, I've actually been disappointed with the briefing feed. It is not timely at all.
posted by smackfu at 10:10 AM on November 10, 2005


He can't speak and they may as well just replace him with a robot that spits out the talking points of the day.

You mean the website to which he refers?
posted by pompomtom at 2:49 PM on November 10, 2005


This'd be a lot funnier if Yakkity Sax was playing in the background.
posted by Smedleyman at 3:58 PM on November 10, 2005


Sigh... This makes me long for CJ Cregg. Then again, most things make me long for CJ Cregg.

And by the way, Scotty looks like he's putting on some weight, no?
posted by lalalana at 4:38 PM on November 10, 2005


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