Kessler Gets Flak

From Howie Kurtz:

    Washington Post reporter Glenn Kessler hasn’t been the most popular person at the State Department since his biography of Condoleezza Rice was published last month. “The Confidante” describes Rice as “one of the weakest national security advisers in U.S. history” and says her appointment of spokesman Sean McCormack “greatly angered traditionalists at State” because others were viewed as more experienced.

    When Rice was about to hold a news conference with several foreign leaders at the U.N. on Sept. 23, the assembled reporters–who rotate questions at these brief availabilities–told McCormack’s assistant that it was Kessler’s turn to ask a question for the American press. The assistant returned with word that CNN producer Elise Labott would be called on instead. Labott, who heads the State Department Correspondents Association, refused. The aide said McCormack didn’t want Kessler to ask the question. If that was the case, Labott said, the U.S. press corps would forego its question.

    At the news conference, the U.N. spokesman, working from McCormack’s list, called on Labott, who announced that she was deferring to Kessler. He asked Rice about a planned Mideast conference.

    McCormack says he asks the press for “suggestions” but that “I reserve the right to make my own suggestions.” He says he told the U.N. spokesman to call on Labott first, and Kessler if there was time for a second question. As for “The Confidante,” McCormack says: “I don’t do book reviews.”

    Kessler says he was “surprised” by the incident, adding: “I’ve never been officially told by anyone at State that there was any issue with my book.”