Channeling Ron Ziegler

by on July 11th, 2005

Referring to the announcement that President Nixon believed no one in the administration, “past or present” should be given “immunity from prosecution,” Ziegler stated that this was “the operative statement.” New York Times correspondent R. W. Apple, Jr. asked if that meant all other statements were “inoperative.” Yes, responded Ziegler.

Nixon Administration Press Briefing


For a minute there I thought White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan was going to channel Ron Ziegler. Ziegler of course is the infamous Nixon press secretary who uttered the famous disclaimer “that statement is no longer operative.”

Confronted with previous statements declaring that Karl Rove and others in the White House had nothing to do with the outing of CIA operative Valerie Plame and the attacks seeking to defame her husband Joseph Wilson, McClellan refused to answer any of at least 35 questions Monday about revelations that top Bush aide Karl Rove was Time magazine correspondent Matthew Cooper’s source for the story.

McClellan is previously on record saying:

“I’ve made it very clear that it was a ridiculous suggestion in the first place. … I’ve said that it’s not true. … And I have spoken with Karl.”

I’ve made it very clear, he (Rove) was not involved, that there’s no truth to the suggestion that he was.

Sept. 29, 2003

“They are good individuals (Scooter Libby (Vice President Dick Cheney’s chief of staff), Karl Rove and Elliott Abrams). They are important members of our White House team. And that’s why I spoke with them, so that I could come back to you and say that they were not involved.”

Oct. 7, 2003

I spoke with those individuals, as I pointed out, and those individuals (Rove, Abrams, Libby) assured me they were not involved in this.

(Q: They were not involved in what?)

A: The leaking of classified information.

Oct. 10, 2003


Whether those statements prove to be “operational” or not remains to be seen. But for the time being McClellan fell back on an old standard refusing to comment on an “ongoing criminal investigation.”

Bottom line though, either Scott McLellan knowingly and intentionally lied to the White House Press Corps, or Karl Rove cut his throat and fed him to the sharks. Either way, McClellan’s dead, he just hasn’t had a chance to lie down yet.

But as McClellan is probably figuring out right about now, he is just a small fish in this cesspool. The Bush administration is facing some very tough questions over Rove’s involvement in the outing of Valerie Plame and my guess is that Scotty doesn’t have the answers.

But for starters, here’s some questions he should be thinking about:

Why is Judy Miller in jail? If Karl Rove has been confirmed as Matt Cooper’s source, who is Ms. Miller protecting? Maybe she just needed a vacation, but my guess is she isn’t doing time at the GrayBar hotel so that Matt Cooper can go to his kids’ soccer games this Fall. Is there another White House source? And if so, does it mean that the Bush White House was engaged in a criminal conspiracy to defame Joseph Wilson by outing his wife? (P.S. – I’ll give a six-pack of the beer of their choice to the first reporter who can tell me the number of steps from Rove’s office to the Presidents.)

Who told Karl Rove that Valerie Plame was in the CIA?

No doubt, the White House minions are working overtime tonight to come up with some “operative” answers to these and other tough questions they will face in the days ahead. And while they might not want channel Ron Ziegler for answers, my guess is that Karl Rove and friends are wishing they had paid more attention to Nixon’s advice to him. According to Ziegler’s obituary in Editor and Publisher, Nixon once admonished Ziegler “that anyone in the White House who talked to Time (magazine) reporters “should have their resignations requested within one minute.”

John McDonald