Sunday, May 30, 2004
Q Scott, I frequently communicate with soldiers stationed in Iraq. And many of them ask me why only the bad news about Iraq is reported in the American media. More than one has told me how demoralizing it is to hear so much about the Abu Ghraib pictures, and so little about the murder and annihilation of American contractors and the beheading of Nicholas Berg. Can I get you to comment on the negative impact our reporting is having on morale of our troops?
MR. McCLELLAN: One, I always try to avoid being a media critic from this podium. I'm here to address your questions.
But let me point out that the President is solidly behind the outstanding jobs that our troops are doing in Iraq. Our troops are performing brilliantly as they work to provide for a secure, democratic and free Iraq for the Iraqi people. And they're doing an outstanding job, and we should always express our gratitude to those who are serving and sacrificing to make the world a better and safer place and to make America more secure.
Q Okay. But is it time to take the filter off again? Is it time to go around the filter? Because, you know -- because there are men and women that we have sent to defend our country that are hearing nothing but bad news in the press.
MR. McCLELLAN: Your point is well taken. There is important progress that is being made in Iraq. The President talked about some of that progress the other night in his remarks at the Army War College. There are also tough days and difficulties that remain.
There are those who are enemies of freedom who want to derail the transition to democracy, and we shouldn't lose sight of what we have accomplished in Iraq to this point. We removed a brutal regime from power, a regime that, when its economy started going down, went and found seven merchants and tried to blame that on those merchants and had their hands cut off and Xs put on their head. That was the kind of brutal, oppressive regime that has been removed from power. And thanks to the gratitude of some Americans, those individuals came to the United States and received prosthetic hands. And they met with the President the other day. And it's a clear reminder of what we have worked to accomplish in Iraq, and there's more to accomplish as we go forth.
This is especially poignant: "There are those who are enemies of freedom who want to derail the transition to democracy, and we shouldn't lose sight of what we have accomplished in Iraq to this point." Did the press secretary just call journalists who did not spout the administration's line "enemies of freedom"? Where's the follow up? Like "Did you just call Bob, here, an enemy of freedom? And if so, does that mean your going to revoke his press pass?