Monday, February 16

Well, NOW We Know That When You Smile, It Really Means You're Pissed Off - Right?

Very Seinfeldian.

White House Press Secretary Lashes Out at Reporter: “There’s a Difference Between Trashy Rumors and Journalism”

Scott McClellan finally lost it Friday, according to White House reporters. He doesn’t see it that way.

The White House press secretary had kept his cool all week as reporters pounced on him about President George Bush’s 1970s service in the National Guard. Facing perhaps his toughest week as press secretary, McClellan got testy Tuesday under questioning by CBS correspondent John Roberts during the televised briefing. He then blew up at old pro Helen Thomas during the private “gaggle” for reporters on Friday.

Thomas had gotten a tip that Bush might have been absent from duty in Alabama because he was performing court-ordered community service in Texas in 1972. She asked McClellan if that was accurate.

According to reporters in the press room, McClellan got red-faced and became so angry, it looked to some as if he were ready to pounce. He characterized the question as coming from “gutter politics.”

Thomas, who has covered every president since Dwight Eisenhower and now writes a column for Hearst, was not fazed. “I think they are getting pretty nervous about this,” she said Friday afternoon. “I’ve learned over the years that when you put out records, it often leads to more questions.”

Some questions are out of bounds, McClellan told The Washingtonian: “Helen was asking about trashy rumors. There’s a difference between trashy rumors and journalism. I will not dignify them from the podium.”

And he says he’ll try not to lose his cool. “I hope to keep a smile on my face,” he said.