Ari Fleischer is a big fat liar.
May 30, 2002 9:01 AM   Subscribe

Ari Fleischer is a big fat liar. Or so says Jonathan Chait in the New Republic. Clinton-style truth parsing is so 90's. We're now in the age of the bold statement, whether or not the statement is true is merely secondary.
posted by PrinceValium (26 comments total)
Interesting corollary here.

Fleischer has broken new ground in the dark art of flackdom: Rather than respond tendentiously to questions, he negates them altogether.

That pretty much summarizes the article. Good read, thanks for the link. Fleischer's style has always driven me nuts, from the beginning of the administration until now. I always get this ironic feeling that he is trying to talk with a lot of authority and yet weasel his way out of everything by claiming he knows nothing. Of course, the very way he talks gets under my skin, but he doesn't come anywhere near the annoyance level of Dick Cheney. He's the Bill Lumberg of the government, in my opinion. I just get angry when I hear him say "nuclear posture." I miss that dorky spokesperson Clinton had during the last few months in office, Jake Siewert. He looked like he should have been a VJ for mtv2.
posted by insomnyuk at 9:31 AM on May 30, 2002

Ari starting lying the first day the Bushies were in the White House with all of that Clinton vandalism propaganda.
posted by BarneyFifesBullet at 10:01 AM on May 30, 2002

Nice link. I hadn't been able to put my finger on why Ari is so irksome, but this article manages to put it quite clearly.
posted by zpousman at 10:31 AM on May 30, 2002

Ye gods, people...if you start questioning Ari the Worm, the terrorists have won! Government mouthpieces are there to placate, appease, distract and dissemble, right? Well, there's never been one better at it.
posted by rushmc at 10:37 AM on May 30, 2002

I'm just glad that we have such a lying sack of shit in place to communicate all the honor and integrity that has been restored to the white house.
posted by Dirjy at 10:43 AM on May 30, 2002

Ari Fleischer lies? Oh my! Let's see, he's the front man for an administration that would rather spend tax dollars on lawsuits than admit who they had meetings with, anoints their leaders with Wesson oil, can't eat snack food without injury and is selling pics of the 911 disaster to raise money so they can keep doing all of the above...surely Ari isn't an ingenious storyteller...really? :)

Good rant though, nice link. :)
posted by dejah420 at 10:57 AM on May 30, 2002

I'd love to hear his rebuttal on this article.
posted by twitch at 11:04 AM on May 30, 2002

I think the article says more about the low quality of reporting available from the white house than it does about the press secretary. So the white press secretary is a liar. Which past press secretary wasn't?

The embarrassing part is the lame tactics do seem to bamboozle professional reporters. A 5 year old wouldn't stop asking "Why? But Why?" if a parent tried the same tactics.
posted by srboisvert at 11:11 AM on May 30, 2002

The embarrassing part is the lame tactics do seem to bamboozle professional reporters.

What's a "reporter?" Oh, you mean the cadre of professional "news entertainers?"
posted by rushmc at 11:14 AM on May 30, 2002

Srboisvert - Reporters need to be aggressive in following up their own questions, but being whiny gives the press secretary license to end the current line of questioning without argument. Despite the relatively free exercise of First Amendment rights that takes place in the press room, there still exists the dynamics of group interaction, as well as the instinctive tendency to disproportionately weight the impact of a speaker who stands taller, apart from, and in front of a group of people with an opposite objective.

Lots of people, myself included, struggle to make conversational impact in a group of three, let alone fifty. I'm not saying that reporters suffer from the same problem to the degree as the rest of us, but sometimes the dynamic is too strong. Your best bet to "defeat" Fleischer is to have all the other reporters on your side and have them badger him in the same manner as you intend to badger him. Rarely happens, of course.

I'm a Joe Lockhart fan, myself..
posted by PrinceValium at 11:24 AM on May 30, 2002

The Washington Post also ran a lengthy and worthwhile article on Fleisher's control of information, and of the Enron affair in particular. One quote from that article in particular stuck out (to me):
He was, in short, the symbol of an administration that valued secrecy, that hoarded information, that often viewed the press as the hostile opposition. It was not unlike being the ambassador to a strange and unfriendly country.
Michael Kinsley also offers his take on Fleischer here. And Bill Hutchinson's "My Nine Innings With Ari Fleischer" is pretty dang funny....
posted by mattpfeff at 11:26 AM on May 30, 2002

Great examples of Ari's style.

Russell Mokhiber: Ari, does Israel have nuclear weapons?

Ari Fleischer: That's a question you'll have to ask to Israel.
posted by Ty Webb at 11:27 AM on May 30, 2002

I thought the way he answered the "Why is Sharon a man of peace?" question was the best:

I think there is no question that the people of Israel want peace. The people of Israel -- Israel is a democracy. Ariel Sharon is the representative of the people of Israel.

So if the people want peace, then their leader must do too...sounds like the fallacy of composition, only worse. Thanks, Ty Webb!
posted by Gaz at 12:00 PM on May 30, 2002

Even if you generally like the administration and support it, Fleischer is an embarrassment. Looking back to the prior officeholder, there were many times when something needed the tuckpointing skills of a consummate flack, but you still got a sense of the decency of someone like Mike McCurry. The damnedest thing is that Bush may have done something completely on the up-and-up, that's not politically or personally embarrassing in any way, and the weaselacious Fleischer spins like it's Watergate.
posted by dhartung at 12:40 PM on May 30, 2002

Psst, BarneyFifesBullet - even the General Accounting Office says there was vandalism. Propaganda indeed.

The General Accounting Office has found that departing Clinton aides vandalized the White House and Old Executive Office Building, stealing two historic doorknobs, scrawling obscene graffiti on walls and inflicting $14,000 worth of damage.

Those who have seen the GAO report, a preliminary document, say as many as 75 computer keyboards had to be replaced — at a cost of more than $5,000 — because Clinton staffers had broken off the W keys, a jab at George W. Bush, the winner of the bitterly contested 2000 presidential election, who was often referred to during the campaign as W.
posted by schlyer at 12:45 PM on May 30, 2002

Favorite new word: weaselacious.
posted by Ty Webb at 12:49 PM on May 30, 2002


1. It's a preliminary report.

2. Former Clinton staff are apparently saying the report exonerates them; at the very least, it cost $200,000 to find somewhere between $1,000 and $14,000 of damage, depending on which side you believe.

3. The report appears in the Washington Times. 'nuff said.
posted by yhbc at 12:53 PM on May 30, 2002

I defer to my previous comments.
posted by jpoulos at 12:55 PM on May 30, 2002

No, schyler, the Moonie Times said there was vandalism. BIG difference!
posted by nofundy at 12:57 PM on May 30, 2002

2. Former Clinton staff are apparently saying the report exonerates them; at the very least, it cost $200,000 to find somewhere between $1,000 and $14,000 of damage,

Assuming you believe the Congressional Democrats and former Clinton officials who are pushing that $200,000 number.

Anyone who really believes that letter 'W's dissapearing from keyboards all over the White House is from normal use and not a deliberate cheap shot by the exiting administration probably still believes that Clinton didn't have sex with that woman, Miss Lewinsky.

3. The report appears in the Washington Times. 'nuff said.

Right. Because it's only media bias when you want it to be.
posted by ljromanoff at 2:28 PM on May 30, 2002

Psst, BarneyFifesBullet - even the General Accounting Office says there was vandalism. Propaganda indeed.

Where is all of the massive damage that we were told about?Taking keys off of keyboards?That's a joke. C'mon...

BTW, where are the pictures, the video?If it were so bad, why didn't we get to see it?Because they blew it all out of proportion for propaganda purposes, that's why.If it were that bad, they would have had cameras all over the White House getting footage.Why were no extensive records kept?

White House Vandalism Caper Was Overblown, a Report Finds
May 19, 2001, Saturday
National Desk - 657 words

WASHINGTON, May 18 - General Accounting Office reports that accounts that departing Clinton administration officials destroyed office equipment and committed other acts of vandalism in White House during presidential transition were significantly overblown; Rep Bob Barr, who requested investigation, expresses disappointment that White House did not keep better records on damage (M)

Psst, schyler, you're a tool.
posted by BarneyFifesBullet at 4:28 PM on May 30, 2002

75 computer keyboards had to be replaced — at a cost of more than $5,000

When all they needed was a "w" key? Isn't this supposed to be a fiscally responsible republican government? Just buy the 'w' keys (though I understand you can't order a w key over the internet when you don't have a w key).

As for the "two historic knobs" that left the Whitehouse we know who they were and their replacements were arriving the same day!
posted by srboisvert at 5:15 PM on May 30, 2002

Sounds like anyone here could do just as good a job as Ari. None of you seem to be answering one another's questions, instead choosing to attack one another directly, or by invoking 'taint by association', or deliberately misrepresenting previously made statements.

Welcome to meta-metafilter, I guess.
posted by clevershark at 8:12 PM on May 30, 2002

Fleischer is ultra-maddening - his answers just barely pass the Turing test. Good article, overall, but I think it implies some undue credit.
posted by Opus Dark at 12:20 AM on May 31, 2002

75 computer keyboards had to be replaced — at a cost of more than $5,000

The truth is replacing those keyboards cost the taxpayers exactly 0$. Geez, take those ditto blinders off and do your own research! And it WAS funny. Cheney in charge now is not funny.
posted by nofundy at 6:21 AM on May 31, 2002

Where is Cheney anyway? I haven't seen him in weeks... it's like the Wizard of Oz or something.
posted by insomnyuk at 7:06 AM on May 31, 2002

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