The press corps gets all up in Scottie’s grill over Newsweek.
Q With respect, who made you the editor of Newsweek? Do you think it’s appropriate for you, at that podium, speaking with the authority of the President of the United States, to tell an American magazine what they should print?
MR. McCLELLAN: I’m not telling them. I’m saying that we would encourage them to help —
Q You’re pressuring them.
MR. McCLELLAN: No, I’m saying that we would encourage them —
Q It’s not pressure?
And later, the gagglers want to know if Little Scottie is calling Gen. Richard Myers a liar.
Q Back on Newsweek. Richard Myers, last Thursday — I’m going to read you a quote from him. He said, “It’s a judgment of our commander in Afghanistan, General Eichenberry, that in fact the violence that we saw in Jalalabad was not necessarily the result of the allegations about disrespect for the Koran.” He said it was “more tied up in the political process and reconciliation that President Karzai and his cabinet were conducting.” And he said that that was from an after-action report he got that day.
So what has changed between last Thursday and today, five days later, to make you now think that those — that that violence was a result of Newsweek?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, clearly, the report was used to incite violence by people who oppose the United States and want to mischaracterize the values and the views of the United States of America. The protests may have been pre-staged by those who oppose the United States and who may be opposed to moving forward on freedom and democracy in the region, but the images that we have seen across our television screens over the last few days clearly show that this report was used to incite violence. People lost their lives —
Q But may I just follow up, please? He didn’t say “protest,” he said — he used the word very specifically, “violence.” He said the violence, as far as they know from their people on the ground — which is something that you always say you respect wholeheartedly — it was not because of Newsweek.
MR. McCLELLAN: Dana, I guess I’m not looking at it the same way as you do, and I think the Department of Defense has spoken to this issue over the last few days. But the facts are very clear that this report was used in the region by people opposed to the United States to incite violence and to portray a very negative image of the United States, one that runs contrary to everything that we value and believe, and it has done some serious damage to our image.
Q Scott, to go back to Dana’s question, are you saying that General Myers was wrong, therefore, that this — the violence he’s talking about? Are you saying he was wrong in his assessment of what happened in Afghanistan?
MR. McCLELLAN: No, not at all. In fact, maybe you didn’t hear me, but as I said, there are people that are opposed to the United States that look at every opportunity to try to do damage to our image in the region, and —
Finally, watch as “Elisabeth” (is it Bumiller? OMG!) gets all sassy-like.
Q Let me follow up on that. What — you said that — what specifically are you asking Newsweek to do? I mean, to follow up on Terry’s question, are you saying they should write a story? Are you going that far? How else can Newsweek, you know, satisfy you here?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, as I said, we would encourage them to continue working diligently to help repair the damage that has been done because of this —
Q Are you asking them to write a story?
MR. McCLELLAN: — because of this report. I think Newsweek is going to be in the best position to determine how to achieve that. And there are ways that I pointed out that they can help repair the damage. One way is to point out what the policies and practices of our United States military are. Our United States military personnel go out of their way to make sure that the Holy Koran is treated with care —
Q Are you asking them to write a story about how great the American military is; is that what you’re saying here?
MR. McCLELLAN: Elisabeth, let me finish my sentence. Our military —
Q You’ve already said what you’re — I know what — how it ends.
Whew! Now, relax a moment with Your Daily Les.
Q The Jerusalem Post reports that PA Chairman Abbas invited leaders of Hamas and Islamic Jihad to relocate from Damascus to Gaza after the Israelis leave. And they also report that leaders of the Abbas co-founded Fatah organization sent birthday greetings to Saddam Hussein, wishing him, “Long life to free the Arab nation.” What is the President’s reaction to these actions?
MR. McCLELLAN: Whose comments? I’m sorry.
Q This was the greeting that Fatah sent to Saddam Hussein, wishing him, “Long life to free the Arab nation.” What does the President think about this?
MR. McCLELLAN: I think the President has made his views very clear, Les. And I don’t — I just haven’t seen what you’re bringing up.
Q Well, it’s been reported, Scott. I mean, what does the President think of this?
MR. McCLELLAN: I think you know what the President’s views are.