White House Smackdown

[Update at bottom of post.]

Overstated? Always. Anyway, in yesterday's White House press briefing (which is suffering terribly from Gannon's absence), Press Secretary Scott McClellan was confronted by a reporter who refused to roll over and pant (update: click here for the second half):

Q Scott, you said that the retraction by Newsweek magazine of its story is a good first step. What else does the President want this American magazine to do?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, it's what I talked about yesterday. This report, which Newsweek has now retracted and said was wrong, has had serious consequences. People did lose their lives....

And I think Newsweek can do that by talking about the way they got this wrong, and pointing out what the policies and practices of the United States military are when it comes to the handling of the Holy Koran....

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?

MR. McCLELLAN: Look, this report caused serious damage to the image of the United States abroad. And Newsweek has said that they got it wrong. I think Newsweek recognizes the responsibility they have. We appreciate the step that they took by retracting the story. Now we would encourage them to move forward and do all that they can to help repair the damage that has been done by this report. And that's all I'm saying. But, no, you're absolutely right, it's not my position to get into telling people what they can and cannot report.

(Emphasis mine.) Feel free to be unimpressed. But in today's Washington press climate (i.e. morgue-cold), this passes for courage. Way to go, whoever that was.

UPDATE: Later on in the briefing, these reporters asked some pointed questions that everyone should be asking. Scroll about halfway down the briefing-transcript page or click here for an excerpt.

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