Monthly Archives: January 2004

Sometimes the truth blurts out in one big glob

Rove Teases Press Corps ‘Weenies’
By Dan Froomkin
Special to
Tuesday, January 27, 2004; 10:03 AM

Members of the “travel pool” — the reporters and photographers who actually travel with the president on Air Force One — normally arrive early and get in position outside the plane to watch the president alight, so they can capture his deportment.

“Is he drink? Stoned? Or — Nah, he always looks that way.”

Yesterday, because of the foul weather, the pool was instructed to stay inside so that workers could de-ice the plane just before the president arrived for his quick trip to Little Rock.

As designated print pool reporter Edwin Chen of the Los Angeles Times wrote in his briefing to his colleagues, “the pool’s absence on the tarmac as POTUS arrived did not go unnoticed.”

Senior adviser and White House political guru Karl Rove himself popped his head into the press cabin and snarled, “Weenies!”

Chen described Rove’s demeanor as “mocking disdain. . . . In the same vein, he also offered to take orders for hot drinks and blankets, as press secretary Scott McClellan smiled benignly.”

Why “mocking”? Genuine disdain would be perfectly appropriate. It’s all that they deserve. They’re just children, after all. Just toddlers to be kept in line. In fact that’s what’s clearly at play what with ‘the help” (McClellan) being instructed to hand out drinkies and blankies.

Why you’d almost swear you were at “Neverland” with Prince Michael and Paris!

Shortly afterward, Rove returned, “this time with pen and paper, again asking to take orders for hot drinks. . . .

“Back off, Scott — I’LL play stewardess!”

“In Little Rock, on the tarmac, your pool had a third encounter with Mr. Rove,” Chen wrote. ” ‘Oh yeah, you can get off the plane when it’s 62 degrees,’ he said with a laugh as he walked to the staff van.”

Affection or hostility? You decide.

I think we’ve all decided, don’t you?

Just Friday, President Bush himself razzed the press pool during an unscripted stop at a New Mexico rib joint. (See Friday’s column.) And all of this comes in the wake of a searing New Yorker article by Ken Auletta (see Jan. 12 Howard Kurtz column, second item) in which Rove is quoted as saying Bush has “a cagey respect” for the press but views it as “elitist,” a bunch of people trying “to get a headline or get a story that will make people pay attention to their magazine, newspaper or television more.”

Yes, being treated like children is a step up.