Disgraced former White House Press Secretary Scott McLellan has said that the Bush White House sent talking points to TV Talkers, most specifically at FNC. He added that both political parties do this.
Not McLellan, mind you, someone else at the White House:
“Certainly it wasn’t necessarily something I was doing, but it was something we at the White House, yes, were doing in getting them talking points and making sure they knew where we were coming from,” he said, although he qualified, “I think that happens both ways when people go on other networks that are favorable to Democrats.”
Dick Morris has said that Clinton (Bill) did this, and that it was his (Morris’s) idea.
Keith Olbermann has asserted that he knew all about this but is “shocked” anyway.
Bill O’Reilly has denied using WH talking points, and he has said that he no longer respects McLellan, to whom he probably refers as a pinhead. I saw a bit on O’Reilly’s show in which he dismissed Howie Kurtz, who has been making some noise about this, by saying that Kurtz does not believe it but is after ratings.
But McLellan told Chris Matthews the other people who worked at the White House were using the commentators as White House spokespeople:
Matthews: “So you were using these commentators as your spokespeople.”
McClellan: “Well, certainly.”
I’m just a blogger. I am besieged by talking points from the right and from the left. Congress does it, the White House does it, the campaigns do it. I imagine FNC, CNN, and the other networks get these talking points. I don’t recite them, and I doubt the FNC people do.
I watch the Sunday Morning Talk Shows and write a review. I heard Dem guests, mostly Congress critters, repeating their talking points. Different people, different show, same words. Talking points exist because those who generate them want them to be repeated and to become the story. Olbermann, for example, seems to receive talking points from Democrats, from lefty causes, from conspiracy theorists, and from civilizations from other galaxies. And he repeats them all.
This is neither shocking nor wrong.
What would strike me as misleading would be if people like Bill O’Reilly received these White House talking points and repeated them without attribution. Scott McClellan no longer accuses Bill O’Reilly of this:
“The truth is I messed up. I was specifically not trying to single anyone out, including you,” said McClellan [to O’Reilly on the radio]. “There were people, not you, but there were people.”
As for the response to his comments: “Some people tried to paint it in a black and white term to their preconceived notions,” said McClellan. “I should not have left it open to interpretation.”
Regarding MSNBC’s Chris Matthews, who conducted the original interview, O’Reilly said, “Matthews played you. He played you.”
McLellan later accused O’Reilly of playing him, so that’s how that is. Johnny Dollar has the Radio Factor audio.
So where does that leave this story?
Wherever. I’m done.
(cross-posted at rathergate.com)