The Lady Speaks

Scott McClellan: ‘…a victim, a pawn, or a PR disaster?’

Michael Wolff has a great article on the Minister of Propaganda….Scott McClellan in Vanity Fair.

Turns out, Scotty isn't pretending to be an inarticulate boob.

From Vanity Fair:

 Now that the daily White House briefings are instantly available online, Press Secretary Scott McClellan's mangled sentences, flat-footed evasions, and genial befuddlement have made him the butt of a thousand blogs, as well as of an increasingly savage press corps. Is he a victim, a pawn, or a P.R. disaster?


[…] But here's the thing that seems to have caught many people in and out of the administration quite unawares: outside of any plan or design or strategy (countermanding the plan, really), the briefing has slipped its bonds, defied its relegation, and become the true public face of the White House.

This supposed side-show works now as something like the White House's daily discourse with the nation (if not for the nation as a whole, at least for the ideologically polarized Internet nation) and the world. It's the White House reality series. Or the briefing is our stumblebum version of challenging the P.M. on the House of Commons floor (we get the vitriol without the grandiloquence and good cheer).

Beginning with the advent of the live broadcasts, under Clinton's last press secretary, Mike McCurry, then as a staple of the cable news cycle, and now as endlessly repeated, ever available streaming video, the briefing has become the living, inarticulate, comically absurd voice of the White House. Under Mc-Clellan the briefing is not only the source of news but news itself: McClellan's performance, its degree of ham-handedness, echoed and refracted in a thousand blogs, is a central political event.

"You're talking on [the White House] Web site?" says McClellan, a little bewildered, when I ask him about the transmutation of the briefing process in the last few years, as well as the embarrassment of having his every grunt and pause and garbled sentence rendered in freely available, near-instantaneous transcriptions. "When did that start?" Mc–Clellan fuzzily asks Mike, the transcriber he insists upon having at our interview. "Do you have any idea?"

Anyway, Scott McClellan, ready for prime time or not, may be the first real-time political figure and, arguably, the most public, or most exposed, man in America, gamely, doggedly repeating his set phrases ("We're going to keep focusing on the pressing priorities of the American people"; "We're going to continue to focus on the priorities of the American people"; "We're moving on to the priorities of the American people") long after they've become punch lines.



April 5, 2006 - Posted by | Bush, Government, Media, Politics, Television, White House

1 Comment »

  1. Poor Scotty. He is in an impossibe job.

    Comment by Gort | April 5, 2006 | Reply

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