The open hostility between the White House and the press corps may not have actually sunk to the level feared. MSNBC footage and Jay Leno gave rise briefly to the notion that President Bush gave the finger (a.k.a. “the bird”) to the assembled horde of reporters on Capitol Hill yesterday (see left).
The press or at least Cox’s Ken Herman took a moment away from the Rove questioning to confront Scott McClellan about it at today’s briefing:
KEN HERMAN: Scott, last night on the Tonight Show, Jay Leno, who apparently is subbing for Johnnie, displayed a video of the President at the Capitol yesterday. In that video, the President walking away from the press lifts his hand and raises a finger. Mr. Leno interpreted it as, shall we say, a finger of hostility. Each of our fingers has a special purpose and meaning in life. (Laughter.) Can you tell us what finger it was he held up?
MR. McCLELLAN: Ken, I’m not even going to dignify that with much of a response. But if someone is misportraying something, that’s unfortunate.
KEN HERMAN: Well, it was not a finger of hostility?
MR. McCLELLAN: Ken, I was there with him, and I’m just not going to — I’m not going to dignify that with a response. I mean, I haven’t seen the video that you’re talking about, but I know the way the President acts. And if someone is misportraying it, that’s unfortunate.
Unfortunately (or fortunately) Dan Froomkin says it’s a thumb, not a birdie.