Happen Stance

Friday, June 06, 2008


In his new book, What Happened, former White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan says he was misinformed and misled and, surprise, so too were the American people. Too little, too late?

Comments [20]

Daniel Bennett from Washington, DC

Although the interview was much better than most with McClellan, I would have liked to ask him a question that has been rattling around in my head and not heard in the media as far as I can recall. How important was it to discredit and then kick out the UN/UNSCOM team before it could find any potential weapons that would need to be destroyed? Unlike most of the media that concentrates on whether the administration knew or did not know if the Iraqis had held on to such weapons, I feel that the question is whether the Bush administration pushed the UN/UNSCOM out before it could find and destroy any weapons. If the US had given the UN any evidence at all that led to weapons, those weapons would have been destroyed as well as any pretense of need to go to war. Already the drones and missiles that the Iraqis did not hide because they believed those weapons were within the rules were destroyed when the UN ruled otherwise.

Jun. 12 2008 09:59 AM


see ya on the other side.

Jun. 12 2008 09:48 AM
derek monroe from round lake , IL

For all the discourse about nature of water torture.
The Spanish Inquisition referred to the technique as "Tortura de Aqua." I think that doesn't need a translation .

Jun. 10 2008 09:46 PM
Jack from Chicago

Bob's complete naivete could not be more clearly demonstrated than by his question, "What would have happened had you sat in one of those meetings and said, well, here's an idea for what we can say – the truth?"

Please, the truth. McClellan and you never establish that he ever knowingly lied nor was in a meeting where it was contrived to lie. Washington is all about the debate of versions of the truth. To imply that there is only one, and it's clear which one Bob favors, truth is ridiculously naive. Consider the next two segments of this week's show as a for instance.

In addition, everyone in Washington is a political operative. This isn't cynicism, it's reality. The stakes are too high for altruists. Bob clearly operates in a politically biased way so he's just part of the game.

Jun. 10 2008 02:26 PM
Chris Gray from New Haven, CT

Frankly, a one page apology letter including the acknowledgement of waterboarding as torture would have been sufficient for this "Great job, Brownie" of White House spokesfolk.

Still, since he did write a book, I'm glad you pulled an Olbermann on him.

Interestingly, I listened to this segment the other evening and, then, the whole program tonight and I would swear I heard an even harsher interview then but it is the same mp3. I did like the one I remember more, but I've already written on the tricks memory can play on..., well, me and every one else.

Jun. 10 2008 12:24 AM
chris o from New York City

I appreciated the interview. I feel a little bad for McClellan, getting kicked around even more than Tenet did for his book. McClellan is a spokesman, a voice, not a policy maker. Yet the anti-Bush group (of which I have been aloud and proud member for 7.5 years now) is bashing him for too little, too late, saying he is a hypocrite, coward, he should have resigned, etc. And the right, needless to say is bashing him, too.

I have been struck by how decent, intelligent and responsive McClellan has been to all the questions about the book. Perhaps that is because for 3 years he was about as responsive (and intelligent) as a stone wall to questions from the press.

Jun. 09 2008 06:13 PM
tim from Washington, D.C.


I don't think waterboarding is torture, and I think it's anti-intellectual for you to call my position "a lie" (and thereby, of course, NOT have to address my position).

Does waterboarding endanger life or limb? Thats what I thought.

The fact that the UN and other international organizations and NGOs WENT BACK and amended anti-torture agreements that the United States signed AFTER THEY SIGNED THEM, does not place the U.S. in violation of those agreements--all it does is display the bad faith and obvious hostility with which those organizations hold the United States. And while I am not suggesting you share that hostility to our country, I do wonder if it informs your reporting and your "objectivity."

Jun. 09 2008 05:52 PM
tim from Washington, D.C.

I heard this interview on Sunday and really could not believe it. I was so surprised by the obvious bias against and open hostility to the Administration that that Bob Garfield exhibited, that I had to look up this show online and see what it was all about.

His entire tone was angry; he tried to box McClellan into calling himself a "stooge" and to get him to agree that the administration were a bunch of "scoundels."

It was absurd. Is Garfield or is he not a "journalist"? Does he or does he not make a claim to "objectivity."

Lastly, NPR is tax supported--this is my money Garfield is using with his "journalism" does he not feel an obligation to practice even a little objectivity?--I was embarrassed both for Garfield and by Garfield.

Jun. 09 2008 05:29 PM
Bob Garfield

dear disappointed,
thanks for the follow up. that "send" button can a bitch, eh?

Jun. 09 2008 03:31 PM
Disappointed from The New South

And let me add, that "I was misremembering your conversation with McClellan, and in its place remembering a different podcast I listened to in the same period" is no excuse for my incendiary remarks. I really should have double checked. Obviously, I'm not the journalist in the room.

Jun. 09 2008 12:38 PM
Disappointed from The New South

Thanks, Bob. You're right, and I totally apologize. You're right that McClellan forthrightly acknowledges that it was torture, and that you asked him about that issue specifically. I was wrong - I think I was misremembering your conversation with McClellan, and in its place remembering a different podcast I listened to in the same period.

I sincerely apologize. Thank you.

Jun. 09 2008 12:33 PM
Bob Garfield

sorry to intrude, but couldn't let this pass unreplied to.

complicit? i called the notion that waterboarding isn't torture "a lie." mcclellan, in the end, agreed. i don't know what "disappointed" was listening to, but it's all right there in the interview

Jun. 09 2008 10:55 AM
Disappointed from The New South

What "jonny goldstein" said, above. And:

Waterboarding is absolutely torture, and I am extremely disappointed that Bob didn't call McClellan out about that equivocation - which is, without hyperbole, evil, in its most basic and elemental form. We prosecuted Japanese for the torture for waterboarding during WWII - it is simply not in question.

Bob did an overall good job with this interview, but EVERY TIME any media commentator lets pass the claim that waterboarding is something OTHER THAN torture, that commentator becomes complicit in the normalization of waterboarding, and thus complicit in torture. There is no gray area there.

McClellan is a useful idiot, a torturer, and a moral coward for having advanced the line that waterboarding is not torture and subsequently failing to repudiate that line, and sadly, Bob is complicit for failing to challenge him on that.

Jun. 09 2008 10:03 AM
Jon D. Kessler from San Francisco, CA

Kudos to Bob Garfield! How many interviewers would have the b#**s to ask Mr. McClellan if it would be appropriate for one to consider him a "stooge"?

Great interview, especially considering the plethora of interviews that have recently been conducted with this man.

Jun. 09 2008 12:18 AM
derek monroe from Round Lake , IL

The new "revelation" in the book is nothing new. It's just a very self-serving whining and excuse of the bureaucratic apparatchik who now feels that he was "cheated" and used. This very brazen attempt of the political pornography is a very good indicator of what type of people the Bush administration surrounded itself with and surprisingly enough they are not all that bright after all. If Mr McClellan had any shred of decency, propriety and honor left he would donate all proceeds from his book to the people who suffered the most by his efforts: the poor Iraqis and wounded US servicemen. But this would require a character which McClellan obviuosly lacks.

Jun. 08 2008 02:41 PM
Birck Cox from Philadelphia

Dear OTM:
To the extent that the copyright laws affect you and me (illustrator), there are two bills in the legislature right now that will definitely change copyright, and not to our advantage. The Orphan Works legislation is designed to free up old visual materials for which a copyright holder cannot be found easily, thus making the items useless because of the threat of later lawsuits if a holder eventually appears. The House and Senate bills, H.R. 5889 and S. 2913, go far beyond simply solving that problem-which is admittedly a real one-and essentially do away with copyright as we know it. In favor of the laws: Lawrence Lessig, the Creative Commons, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and Gigi Sohn and Public Knowledge.
Against the laws: Brad Holland and the Illustrators' Partnership, and most of the organized groups of photographers, artists and illustrators. I agree with Ariana Huffington's take on the "Two sides to every argument" principle. There may be two sides here, but the truth does not lie somewhere in between, composed of 50% of each viewpoint. The truth is on one side and one side only. There's an argument here. Look into it.

Jun. 08 2008 12:11 PM
Greg Gaudet from Nova Scotia Canada

I'm glad that Bob was one of the few interviewers this week to treat McLellan with the nuanced derisiveness that he deserved. Scott's self serving platitudes induce a 30 point blood pressure rise and the gag reflex simultaneously - he was a spokesperson not a policy maker - did he really think that we believed anything his puppetmasters chose for him to spew on any given day? He doesn't even have the courage to invoke the names Hewitt, Ingraham, Hannity, etc. when specifically asked to by Bob. Bob - keep up the great work!

Jun. 08 2008 11:09 AM
RF Kidde from Philly PA

Bob nailed it with "stooge".

There is a reason minons are underlings. They lack the emotional fortitude to ride out the heavy waves and then look to cover their butt, even if it means turning on the old Boss in servitude of the New.

Jun. 07 2008 02:25 PM
jonny goldstein from Hyattsille, Maryland

I am glad that McClellan wrote the book. I am looking forward to reading it. At the same time, I am a bit repelled by the way that in the end, no one seems to be held responsible. "This administration went terribly off course," just doesn't cut it for me.

George W. Bush led a government that lied, tortured and plunged plunged us into an unnecessary war. Words fail me, but I will try anyway: the fish rots from the head.

Jun. 07 2008 11:25 AM

Titanic sinkable? No comment. Next book.

Jun. 06 2008 09:39 PM

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