Scott McClellan

Last updated

Scott McClellan
22nd White House Press Secretary
In office
July 15, 2003 May 10, 2006
President George W. Bush
Preceded by Ari Fleischer
Succeeded by Tony Snow
Personal details
Born (1968-02-14) February 14, 1968 (age 51)
Austin, Texas, U.S.
Political party Republican (Formerly)
Spouse(s)Jill Martinez
Education University of Texas, Austin (BA)

Scott McClellan (born February 14, 1968) was the twenty-second White House Press Secretary (2003–06) for President George W. Bush, and author of a controversial No. 1 New York Times bestseller about the Bush Administration titled What Happened . He replaced Ari Fleischer as press secretary in July 2003 and served until May 10, 2006. McClellan was the longest serving press secretary under George W. Bush.

White House Press Secretary Chief spokesperson for the executive branch of the U.S. government

The White House press secretary is a senior White House official whose primary responsibility is to act as spokesperson for the executive branch of the United States government administration, especially with regard to the president, senior aides and executives, as well as government policies.

President of the United States Head of state and of government of the United States

The president of the United States (POTUS) is the head of state and head of government of the United States of America. The president directs the executive branch of the federal government and is the commander-in-chief of the United States Armed Forces.

George W. Bush 43rd president of the United States

George Walker Bush is an American politician and businessman who served as the 43rd president of the United States from 2001 to 2009. He had previously served as the 46th governor of Texas from 1995 to 2000.


He is now the Vice President for Communications at Seattle University. [1]

Seattle University Jesuit university in Seattle

Seattle University (SU) is a private Jesuit university in Seattle, Washington. SU is the largest independent university in the Northwest US, with over 7,500 students enrolled in undergraduate and graduate programs within eight schools.


Born in Austin, Texas, McClellan is the youngest son of Carole Keeton, former Texas State Comptroller and former 2006 independent Texas gubernatorial candidate, and attorney Barr McClellan. McClellan's brother Mark headed the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and was formerly Commissioner for the Food and Drug Administration. McClellan is the grandson of the late W. Page Keeton, longtime Dean of the University of Texas School of Law and renowned expert in tort law. He married Jill Martinez in November 2003. [2] They have three sons.

Austin, Texas Capital of Texas

Austin is the capital city of the U.S. state of Texas and the seat of Travis County, with portions extending into Hays and Williamson counties. It is the 11th-most populous city in the United States, the fourth-most-populous city in Texas, and the second-most-populous state capital city. It is also the fastest growing large city in the United States and the southernmost state capital in the contiguous United States. As of the U.S. Census Bureau's July 1, 2018 estimate, Austin had a population of 964,254 up from 790,491 at the 2010 census. The city is the cultural and economic center of the Austin–Round Rock metropolitan statistical area, which had an estimated population of 2,168,316 as of July 1, 2018. Located in Central Texas within the greater Texas Hill Country, it is home to numerous lakes, rivers, and waterways, including Lady Bird Lake and Lake Travis on the Colorado River, Barton Springs, McKinney Falls, and Lake Walter E. Long.

A comptroller is a management-level position responsible for supervising the quality of accounting and financial reporting of an organization. A financial comptroller is a senior-level executive who acts as the head of accounting, and oversees the preparation of financial reports, such as balance sheets and income statements.

Oliver Barr McClellan is an American entrepreneur, counsel and author who became widely known by his 2003 book Blood, Money & Power on the Kennedy assassination. He has also written on globalization.


McClellan with President Bush as he announced his resignation as White House Press Secretary. Scott McClellan resigns.jpg
McClellan with President Bush as he announced his resignation as White House Press Secretary.

McClellan graduated from Austin High School in 1986. He was a top ranked tennis player in high school and served as student council president. He later graduated from The University of Texas at Austin, where he was president of Sigma Phi Epsilon and a member of the tennis team in his early college years, with a B.A. in 1991. [3] He served as campaign manager for three of his mother's successful campaigns for statewide office. In addition, he worked on political grassroots efforts and was the Chief of Staff to a Texas State Senator. [4]

University of Texas at Austin public research university in Austin, Texas, United States

The University of Texas at Austin is a public research university in Austin, Texas. It was founded in 1883 and is the flagship institution of the University of Texas System. The University of Texas was inducted into the Association of American Universities in 1929, becoming only the third university in the American South to be elected. The institution has the nation's eighth-largest single-campus enrollment, with over 50,000 undergraduate and graduate students and over 24,000 faculty and staff.

Sigma Phi Epsilon North American collegiate fraternity

Sigma Phi Epsilon (ΣΦΕ), commonly known as SigEp, is a social college fraternity for male college students in the United States. It was founded on November 1, 1901, at Richmond College, and its national headquarters remains in Richmond, Virginia. It was founded on three principles: Virtue, Diligence, and Brotherly Love. Sigma Phi Epsilon is one of the largest social fraternities in the United States in terms of current undergraduate membership.

McClellan waves farewell following his final press conference, May 5, 2006. McClellan waving farewell May 5 2006.jpg
McClellan waves farewell following his final press conference, May 5, 2006.

Karen Hughes, then-Governor of Texas George W. Bush's communications director, hired McClellan to be Bush's deputy communications director. McClellan served as Bush's travelling press secretary during the 2000 Presidential election. McClellan became White House Deputy Press Secretary in 2001. McClellan replaced Ari Fleischer, who stepped down as White House Press Secretary on July 15, 2003. McClellan announced his resignation as Press Secretary on April 19, 2006 and was replaced with Tony Snow.

Karen Hughes American diplomat

Karen Parfitt Hughes is the global vice chair of the public relations firm Burson-Marsteller. She served as the Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs in the U.S. Department of State and as a counsellor to President George W. Bush.

Governor of Texas head of state and of government of the U.S. state of Texas

The governor of Texas is the head of the executive branch of Texas's government and the commander-in-chief of the state's military forces. The governor has the power to either approve or veto bills passed by the Texas Legislature, and to convene the legislature. The governor may grant pardons in cases other than impeachment or in the case of treason, with permission by the legislature. The current governor is Greg Abbott.

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Memoir and criticism of Bush administration

McClellan criticized the Bush Administration in his 2008 memoir, What Happened . [5] In the book, he accused Bush of "self-deception" [6] and of maintaining a "permanent campaign approach" to governing rather than making the best choices. [7] McClellan stopped short of saying that Bush purposely lied about his reasons for invading Iraq, writing that the administration was not "employing out-and-out deception" to make the case for war in 2002, [8] though he did assert the administration relied on an aggressive "political propaganda campaign" to sell the Iraq War. [9] His book was also critical of the press corps for being too accepting of the administration's perspective on the war [7] and of Condoleezza Rice for being "too accommodating" and overly careful about protecting her own reputation. [6]

Presidency of George W. Bush the Executive Branch under the 43rd president of the United States, 2001–2009

The presidency of George W. Bush began at noon EST on January 20, 2001, when George W. Bush was inaugurated as the 43rd president of the United States, and ended on January 20, 2009. Bush, a Republican, took office following a very close victory over Democratic incumbent vice president Al Gore in the 2000 presidential election. Four years later, in the 2004 election, he defeated Democrat John Kerry to win re-election. Bush, the 43rd president, is the eldest son of the 41st president, George H. W. Bush. He was succeeded by Democrat Barack Obama, who won the 2008 presidential election.

<i>What Happened</i> (McClellan book) book by Scott McClellan

What Happened: Inside the Bush White House and Washington's Culture of Deception is an auto-biographical bestseller by Scott McClellan, who served as White House Press Secretary from 2003 until 2006 under President George W. Bush. The book was scheduled to be released on June 2, 2008; however, excerpts were released to the press a week before publication. The book quickly became a media sensation for its candid, insider's critique of the Bush administration and ran as a leading story on most top news outlets days after the content became public. It was listed as a number-one bestseller by the New York Times and on when it first went on sale.

Permanent campaign is a political science theory and phrase.

In a Washington Post article on June 1, 2008, McClellan said of Bush: "I still like and admire George W. Bush. I consider him a fundamentally decent person, and I do not believe he or his White House deliberately or consciously sought to deceive the American people." [10]

Speaking frequently on the TV circuit, McClellan told Keith Olbermann in an interview on June 9, 2008, regarding the Iraq War planning: "I don't think there was a conspiracy theory there, some conspiracy to deliberately mislead. I don't want to imply a sinister intent. There might have been some individuals that knew more than others and tried to push things forward in a certain way, and that's something I can't speak to. I don't think that you had a bunch of people sitting around a room, planning and plotting in a sinister way. That's the point I make in the book. At the same time, whether or not it was sinister or not, it was very troubling that we went to war on this basis." [11]

As a result of his assertions in his book, McClellan was invited to testify before the House Judiciary Committee. [12] During the actual testimony McClellan said: "I do not think the president had any knowledge" [of the revelation of Valerie Plame Wilson's identity]; "In terms of the vice president, I do not know." [13]

Response to criticisms

The Bush administration responded through Press Secretary Dana Perino, who said, "Scott, we now know, is disgruntled about his experience at the White House. We are puzzled. It is sad. This is not the Scott we knew." [14]

Critics of McClellan's book included former White House staffers such as Karl Rove, Dan Bartlett, Ari Fleischer and Mary Matalin. Fleischer and Matalin have claimed that McClellan had not shared similar doubts during his tenure in the White House, and that if he had held such doubts then he ought not to have replaced Fleischer as Press Secretary. McClellan has responded by stating that he, like many other Americans, was inclined to give the administration the "benefit of the doubt" on the necessity of the Iraq War, and did not fully appreciate the circumstances until after leaving the "White House bubble". [15]

On May 28, 2008, The O'Reilly Factor host Bill O'Reilly presented a clip from an interview with Fleischer, who suggested that the book was heavily influenced by the publisher's editor. In a subsequent interview on The O'Reilly Factor days later, McClellan told O'Reilly that was not true. McClellan further testified under oath before the House Judiciary Committee that Fleischer's assertion was false. McClellan stated on MSNBC's Countdown with Keith Olbermann that "everything in the book is a clear reflection of my views and everything in the book is mine." [15]

2008 election cycle

McClellan endorsed Barack Obama for president on CNN's D.L. Hughley Breaks the News aired on October 25, 2008. The endorsement was reported in the press two days earlier as the show had been taped prior to airing.

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  1. "Former White House Press Secretary Joins SU" Archived September 12, 2012, at the Wayback Machine .
  2. Leibovich, Mark (December 22, 2005). "Unanswer Man". The Washington Post. Retrieved June 25, 2008.
  3. Scott McClellan - Profile at NNDB Retrieved 18.August 2013
  4. White House bio.
  5. What Happened . ISBN   978-1-58648-556-6.
  6. 1 2 Bumiller, Elizabeth (May 28, 2008). "In Book, Ex-Spokesman Has Harsh Words for Bush". The New York Times. Retrieved May 28, 2008.
  7. 1 2 Allen, Mike (May 27, 2008). "Exclusive: McClellan whacks Bush, White House". The Politico . Retrieved May 27, 2008.
  8. Shear, Michael D (May 28, 2008). "Ex-Press Aide Writes That Bush Misled U.S. on Iraq". The Washington Post. Retrieved May 28, 2008.
  9. "Ex-aide Scott McClellan rips Bush's Iraq 'propaganda'". Associated Press. May 28, 2008. Retrieved May 28, 2008.
  10. Yardley, Jonathan (June 1, 2008). "Culture of Deception". The Washington Post. Retrieved June 21, 2008.
  11. "McClellan: White House 'Heads in sand'". June 2008. Archived from the original on June 13, 2008. Retrieved June 22, 2008.
  12. Abramowitz, Michael (June 10, 2008). "McClellan To Testify About CIA Leak". The Washington Post. Retrieved May 23, 2010.
  13. "McClellan: Cheney should testify about CIA leak". CNN. June 20, 2008. Retrieved May 23, 2010.
  14. Loven, Jennifer (June 21, 2008). "White House calls McClellan's book sour grapes". Associated Press. Archived from the original on June 5, 2008. Retrieved June 21, 2008.
  15. 1 2 "Countdown, 2008-05-29". Countdown with Keith Olbermann . May 29, 2008.
Political offices
Preceded by
Ari Fleischer
White House Press Secretary
Succeeded by
Tony Snow