< Let’s Go to the Videotape!


Friday, November 11, 2005

DALJIT DHALIWAL: Scooter Libby, Karl Rove, Valerie Plame. It's all so confusing for those of us who want an accurate picture of what goes on in the White House. So thank goodness for White House press briefings, such as the one conducted on October the 31st by Presidential Press Secretary Scott McClellan to clarify where things stand. Here's McClellan in an exchange with NBC's David Gregory.

DAVID GREGORY: 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 a conversation.

SCOTT McCLELLAN: That's accurate.

DAVID GREGORY: So aside from the question of legality here, you were wrong.

DALJIT DHALIWAL: Perhaps you thought you heard McClellan say, "That's accurate." Well, according to the White House transcript of the briefing, you're mistaken. The official White House version has McClellan saying, "I don't think that's accurate." Listen again.

DAVID GREGORY: Senator Libby, you also had conversations - [BOTH AT ONCE]

SCOTT McCLELLAN: That's accurate.

DAVID GREGORY: So aside from the question --

DALJIT DHALIWAL: Hmm. The words "I don't think" are a little hard to make out, possibly because, as the videotape of the briefing makes clear, McClellan never uttered them. Yet the White House not only placed them in its official transcript, it approached two outside services who transcribe briefings for the media and asked them to change their versions, an offer those services declined. Maybe McClellan simply misspoke and wished to correct an honest mistake, but transcripts typically record what was said and not what was meant to be said, as the White House apparently understands. Speaking to Editor and Publisher Magazine, administration press say Dana Perino insisted she had the conversation just exactly as it appears on the official transcript. That's their story and they're sticking to it, whether it's accurate or not. [MUSIC UP AND UNDER]

BOB GARFIELD: Coming up, putting the "local" back in local news, and swing shoppers beware - Wal-Mart wants your vote.


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