As if he didn’t have enough on his plate already this past weekend Howard–Somebody Stop Me Before I Write Again–Kurtz wrote up a piece about the increasingly tense White House press briefings. It’s no surprise that, as any president’s troubles increase, so, too, do the briefings become more tense. But, what’s notable about recent spats between Scott McClellan and reporters is that they seem to be taking on a more personal tone.
The good parts (which sort of read like a three year old yelling, “Mommy, Daddy, Scotty’s being mean!”):
- CBS correspondent John Roberts said that McClellan “has adopted this siege mentality in which the best way to deflect the question is to attack the questioner.”
- “‘There’s been an attempt to put reporters on the spot and question the motivation of reporters,’ said David Gregory, NBC’s White House correspondent. ‘It is irritating, and I for one think it’s an attempt by the White House to change the focus from what is a legitimate question to what the talking point is. It’s an effort to cast the media as out for red meat.'”
- “‘I don’t take it as a personal affront that someone who’s an advocate is going to try to present things in the best light,’ said CNN correspondent Bob Franken. But, he said, “many of us thought Scott had crossed a line by characterizing the motives of the reporters . . . We are foils, because we’re riffraff in the eyes of the public, the ink-stained wretches.'”
- “Jim VandeHei, a Washington Post reporter who also mixed it up with McClellan last week, said the spokesman’s style has evolved since he succeeded Ari Fleischer in 2003. ‘He used to be nice-guy Scott who always gave the exact same answers, very polite. He’s become increasingly feisty and increasingly confrontational with reporters.'”
- “McClellan, in his defense, said his job is ‘to mix it up a little bit and keep them on their toes. Reporters like to swing away at others, but they don’t like it when you punch back. The pack mentality goes into overdrive . . . The media’s trying to get under our skin and get us off-message. My job is to help the president advance his agenda.'”
“‘My criticisms are extremely mild in comparison to the tone of some of the questions fired in my direction.'”