Inquiring minds want to know how many right-wing “journalists” are on the administration’s payroll.
Q How many journalists does the administration have on its — under contract to promote its programs? And what are the guidelines that you spoke of earlier this morning? You were very vague, and I’d like to know what they are.
Good question, so one must assume that’s Helen Thomas who is asking.
Here comes the non-denial denial:
MR. McCLELLAN: I’m not aware of any others that are under contract other than the one that’s been reported on in the media. And questions have been raised about that arrangement. It ought to be looked into, and there are ways to look into matters of that nature. As a matter of principle, we believe very strongly that the media ought to be reporting in an objective, unbiased and fair manner. And so that’s the principle upon which we believe people should be guided. And the government certainly has a responsibility to help when it comes to providing accurate information and helping to adhere to that principle.
Q It’s your job, too, isn’t it?
MR. McCLELLAN: That is my job.
Yes it’s Scottie’s job. Personalize it a bit more, Helen dear.
Q The point is you have hired someone. And why did you, and who would do this investigation?
MR. McCLELLAN: In terms of the specific contract you’re referring to, I don’t know all the details of that contract. The Department of Education can provide you with information on the specific details within that arrangement. But I think I made it very clear as a matter of principle what our view is, and I think the Department of Education Counsel’s Office looked into the matter and reviewed it. There are also questions about whether or not this commentator should have been disclosing this information publicly. And so those are all legitimate questions.
What does that last bit mean, Scottie? Are you saying that Armstrong Williams’ mistake was admitting that the administration violated federal law by giving him payola? Or are you trying to cover your flabby ass by claiming that Williams was supposed to tell people he was shilling for the administration?
Q So he wasn’t properly supervised in that respect, or he didn’t have the proper guidance to know how he was to behave?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, see, that’s one of the questions you might want to direct to Department of Education because I’m not sure about the specific details within this arrangement. But as a matter of a principle, I think our view is very clear.
Q Just to follow up, will you check as far as you can to see if you’re paying any other journalists?
Yes, don’t let that question die. Keep asking it. Now, back to the non-denial denial.
MR. McCLELLAN: I don’t know of any. Obviously, decisions are made by individual agencies. I’m not aware of any other arrangements of that nature.
Q Was anyone at the White House aware of the fact that Armstrong Williams was on the payroll?
Good one! Follow the money to the White House.
MR. McCLELLAN: I’m not sure that senior staff was consulted before this decision was made. I haven’t heard anything to that effect.
Geeze, with an entire weekend to find out the extent of the payola scandal the best Scottie can do is to say he was not sure whether or not senior staff were consulted! Keep pulling on that thread and watch the entire cheap sweater unravel.
But Helen’s not done, and now I’m sure that it is Helen Thomas at bat as she is the only member of the White House press corps who ever mentions torture.
Q And then on a different subject, does this administration transfer detainees or prisoners in the war on terror to third countries in order to have them interrogated with means that would be against this country’s law — in order to have them tortured?
MR. McCLELLAN: First of all, I think the President has made our view very clear when it comes to torture. The President does not condone torture, and he would never authorize the use of torture. So I think it —
Q That’s not what I asked, though.
Oh yeah, that’s Helen alright.
MR. McCLELLAN: Understood. So I think I want to make that very clear right off the top. Our policy is to adhere to our laws and our treaty obligations. There are very clear laws in the United States regarding torture, and there are clear laws at the international level regarding torture. And our policy is to adhere to that. So I make that very clear.
In terms of intelligence or national security matters, I’m not in a position to get into commenting — to get into discussing those. Those are questions you might want to direct to the appropriate agencies. But our policy is very clear, and that’s what the President expects to be followed.
Q Right, but you can’t tell me whether or not there are detainees that have been transferred to third countries and then tortured, with the acquiescence of the United States?
MR. McCLELLAN: Again, I made our view very clear. And in terms of torture, we do not condone torture and the President has never authorized torture — nor would he.
Yet another non-denial denial, I think Scottie just set a new indoor record! That means the real answer is, damn right they authorized the rendition of detainees from Iraq and Afghanistan to countries where the fine art of torture has been refined. Keep hitting him, Helen, you are all we have left of what was once the profession of journalism.