May 28th, 2008
03:15 PM ET
14 years ago

Blitzer: Most explosive charges I can remember

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="CNN Anchor Wolf Blitzer"]
WASHINGTON (CNN) - I don’t remember a time when a White House press secretary has written a book and made such explosive charges about a sitting president. That is exactly what Scott McClellan has done in his new book: “What Happened: Inside the Bush White House and Washington’s Culture of Deception.”

Yes, there have been White House insiders who have written books critical of their respective bosses. I remember George Stephanopolous and Robert Reich writing books that came down hard on Bill Clinton and his administration.

But McClellan goes way beyond any of that. He says the war in Iraq was a blunder. He writes that war “should only be waged when necessary, and the Iraq war was not necessary.” Does that mean that the 4,000-plus American troops killed in Iraq and the hundreds of billions of dollars spent were for naught?

He says President Bush and his senior advisers “confused the propaganda campaign with the high level of candor and honesty so fundamentally needed to build and then sustain public support during a time of war.”

And he goes further in charging that President Bush has “always been an instinctive leader more than an intellectual leader” and did not “delve deeply into all the possible policy options.”

McClellan’s aides, including his former boss, Communications Director Dan Bartlett, insist this is not the Scott McClellan they knew and worked with for some ten years. They say he never complained about any of this during his years in the White House.

McClellan is about to start a series of television interviews, including one with me in The Situation Room. He will have a chance to make his case.

I suspect the political fallout from his charges will have ramifications out on the presidential campaign trail, given John McCain’s strong support for the war.

Filed under: Wolf Blitzer
soundoff (263 Responses)
  1. raf

    To everyone saying McClellan's just doing this to sell his book:

    Um, hello – Karl Rove has a new book out too. It'll talk about the Bush Administration in glowing terms, but still be a bestseller.

    McClellan's criticisms reflect his true feelings, not greed.

    May 28, 2008 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  2. Candi California

    Why should any of this come as a suprise? Everyone except the media wimps have been saying this for years.

    May 28, 2008 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  3. What if?

    Dear: Former White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan's.

    We the fathers, mothers, husbands, wives, sisters, bothers, sons, daughters, voters, ect. would like to say thank you.

    May 28, 2008 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  4. Bill

    Release the dogs ("total crap"), the truth cannot be told! Bush, Rove and Cheney will deal with this turncoat and his reputation will be destroyed. Bush and his followers are smart enough to know that 51% of American voters don't read or aren't smart enough to catch on.

    And remember, Bush knows that God is on his side, so he sleeps very well at night. Mean while, 4,000+ dead and 30,000+ wounded and a trillon+ dollars spent. And now we have John McCain. LOL

    May 28, 2008 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  5. mary, Dallas, Tx

    He is not saying anything that people have not already said. John McCain was speaking and stated that we went to war because of the oil and then corrected. That was the true reason. It is all about hormones.

    May 28, 2008 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  6. Alonzo Demetrius

    Wolf, you are jumping right on the bandwagon saying McClellan's book is full of truth, when all the time you say the White House (including McClellan) is just a bunch of liars. Which is it?

    May 28, 2008 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  7. what's in a name?

    You mentioned 4000+ US causalities and hundreds of billions of dollars. What about hundreds of thousands of innocent Iraqis that were killed because of this false war?

    May 28, 2008 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  8. Proud American

    Remember folks McCain is Bush part 3!

    May 28, 2008 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  9. 4000+ lives later

    Shame on CNN and the other cowardly media outlets for not challenging the administration years ago. Shame on the gutless politicians who voted for the invasion w/o allowing UN inspections to run the course. The blood of our best young men and women are on your hands.

    Obama '08

    May 28, 2008 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  10. JJ

    Bamboozled is the perfect term EDW. We were hood-winked and tricked beyond imagination. I for one will be getting this book to read it. Has anyone noticed how the Bush Admin is not saying that any of what Scott said is untrue? All I keep hearing is that it's not the Scott they knew for 10 years and they were disappointed????

    May 28, 2008 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  11. Sharon Minnesota

    May 28th, 2008 4:36 pm ET
    Your comment is awaiting moderation.
    Wolf is getting older and maybe his memory has faded a bit. I find it hard to believe that in his long career of reporting this is the "most" explosive issue he has ever heard. My guess is it's related to the ONN propaganda machine and a way to inflame the electorate into going along with the Obama Network brainwashing that's been going on for several months now.

    This guy, McClellan, is a politician who is looking for a new job and could use some extra money by writing an expose' on the Bush's. Some of his recollections will contain a grain of truth of which he has undoubtedly embellished with glee. It's going to be a big money maker and possibly get him a job with the democrats. Be careful of what you believe in this politically charged atmosphere we are living in.

    May 28, 2008 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  12. Ticker Shock, Richmond, VA

    Isn't everybody today "writing" books? Maybe he's just posturing himself in hopes of getting a position with the next (Dem) administration.

    The real test is if his book will make it to the shelves of the dollar store like all the other political ones I see collecting dust there.

    May 28, 2008 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  13. arc

    Why haven't the Democratic majority acted upon the current administration's policies long before this book? Bush and Cheney should be impeached for their High Crimes and Misdemeanors while in office. The American media, for the most part, does not report civilian casualties in Iraq. Foreign media sources have estimated the total deaths of Iraqi women, children and other non-combatants to be well over a half-million lives. Bush, Cheney, Rice, Rumsfeld and others would be brought before The Hague for Crimes Against Humanity and Genocide if they weren't American.

    May 28, 2008 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  14. Joe Reg

    The man has some dignity left.

    He spoke the truth, however late.

    He stood up for the truth instead of deception.

    May 28, 2008 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  15. Frank Hanley

    Well .. George Bush, et al, are genuine treasonous criminals!! Yes, we all have known what a lying bunch of self serving crooks the Bush administration is. Now, Congress won't even do anything about it because even congress is failing to do its job as intended by the constitution and the founding fathers. Namely, impeach all of these bastards, and try them for war crimes, etc, then lock them away for life! They deserve no less! Truely, they deserve to be executed for their horrendous crimes against the people of these United States! Cogress's failure to do this NOW! will only hurt the US even further. America is no longer a great country nor a light to the world. In Waterboarding We Trust!

    May 28, 2008 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  16. Larry B

    You sound like some old maid saying: "Well, I never........." Fact is you are also a mouthpiece for all the ridiculous propaganda over the last 7 years. Otherwise why do you still give a disproportionate forum for all of this administrations excuses? Instead of regurgitating 'he said/she said', how about some investigative journalism. Your liberal, corporate newsmasters want that right? Oh,I forgot you don't work for a news network, it's an "infotainment network". Nevermind, I thought I was talking to a journalist who should be taken seriously.

    May 28, 2008 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  17. GT

    Unfortunately, the direct result of lying is loss of credibility. So now everyone believes Scott McClellan, no one believes Bush and his loyalists.

    Same as no one believes "Bush lite" Hillary Clinton.

    May 28, 2008 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  18. AZM

    Yea... like JFK and LBJ did in the 60s... foster all that long term support... LOL....

    I put no faith in a statement that makes profit... if the book were free... I might believe it... or even if he wrote it... and not a publisher who paid for a signature.

    I'm sure there will be more to follow.

    May 28, 2008 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  19. Paris

    "Does that mean that the 4,000-plus American troops killed in Iraq and the hundreds of billions of dollars spent were for naught?"

    Wolf, Did you just declare that what Scott has written is all correct with the above sentence.
    What gives you the expertise to make such a declaration? What kind of formal investigations have you done?
    How is that honest reporting?

    There is always two sides to the story but I guess you only need one side to decide! Or you are making a prejudgment and you see everything through that perspective.

    It is a sad era in American history when media has its own agenda.

    CNN should not = Politics that is the problem.

    May 28, 2008 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  20. Citizen's

    What happen to the brains at CNN. We know that Bush made this his war but does'nt fight it. Once he realized what he had done, you could see the shock on his face, he had sent innocent Americans to die for his cause. While OBL runs around having tea partys, this is the biggest goof up in our time. An Cnn just panders to there republicans , while innocent men and women die. To secure Bush and Channey oil profits. Its funny gas is so high while he's in office. Bush and CNN have turned the US upside down. The reason I say CNN is part , because you interview Dems hardcore, but you throw softballs to Repubs. Your show is on right now , but you still have'nt correct the republican on how bad a job they have done the media should be having non stop laugh a thon. Based of Bush alone not to mention Granpa Monster MC Cain.

    May 28, 2008 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  21. Karen from Texas

    This sounds like an Obama victory all the way!!!

    Obama 08

    May 28, 2008 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  22. Mike in Atlanta

    4000 dead....4000 dead.....PEOPLE HAVE LOST LOVED ONES BEHIND THIS. 4000 DEAD SAD REAL SAD

    May 28, 2008 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  23. Bob Stephens

    Wolf, I am so tired of your Puff Ball questions to the politicians. It is a shame you couldn't become a real journalist.

    May 28, 2008 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  24. R1100RT in VA


    ONLY an islamofascist-loving, terrorist-coddling, Blame-America-Firster, non-Flag-lapel-pin-wearing, Cut-and-Runner would say, "Bush LIED. People DIED." !!!!


    May 28, 2008 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  25. Texas Bob

    We are about to get to 100% agreement that the war in Iraq was a mistake. As a Texan, I supported Bush, even though he wasn't the strongest Governor we had. Second term, i couldn't vote for him for what he had done on the war, committed the billions to the war, and wrecked the surplus we had. BUT he will never admit mistake on the war. Even some of us conservative republicans are and have been turning away from him. I certainly can't support war-monger MCCain, so I like other moderte republicans probably won't vote. This book will do nothing but turn the tide further from Bush.

    May 28, 2008 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
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