Was George Soros behind the publication of Scott McClellan's book? Meredith Vieira had the perfect opportunity this morning to find out—but chose to punt. The Today co-anchor certainly had the time: her much-touted exclusive interview with the author of What Happened ranged over the show's first two half-hours. But even when McClellan himself put the issue on the table—citing his publisher by name and alluding to its philosophy—Vieira failed to pursue a line of questioning that could have put matters in an explosive new light.
As MRC's Brent Baker has detailed, McClellan's publisher, PublicAffairs:
is part of the Perseus Books Group, which also owns Nation Books, “a project of The Nation Institute” which publishes the magazine of the same name, and Vanguard Press, whose home page now features The Prosecution of George W. Bush for Murder, a new book by Vincent Bugliosi that “presents a tight, meticulously researched legal case that puts George W. Bush on trial in an American courtroom for the murder of nearly 4,000 American soldiers fighting the war in Iraq.”Baker also notes that PublicAffairs is the publisher of no fewer than six books by Soros himself, and that McClellan's editor, Peter Osnos, who acknowledges having "worked very closely" with the author, is a liberal pundit in his own right.
Finally, Little Green Footballs has documented that there are several Perseus companies that actually include "Soros" as part of their name, as in Perseus-Soros Management, LLC.
Put it all together, and there's every reason to wonder whether Soros isn't behind McClellan's manifesto. But given the golden opportunity to pursue the matter, Meredith chose to move on. Here's the relevant exchange, which came during the second half-hour of this morning's Today.
MEREDITH VIEIRA: What do you say, Scott, to people who have been even harsher than Dan [Bartlett, former counselor to Pres. Bush, who also appeared] was just now, who believe what you're trying to do is really cash in on your years in this administration, that this is about making a buck: because you're angry you want to get back, but you're also --
SCOTT MCCLELLAN: Well, first of all, again, I'm disappointed that things didn't turn out the way we all hoped they would, and I think a lot of people like Dan and others, you know, could benefit the American people if they could come to grips with the fact that things went terribly off course.
VIEIRA: But what about this charge that some people have that you're just trying to make a buck?
MCCLELLAN: Well, I don't think they're familiar with PublicAffairs, the publisher that I worked with, that's not the way they operate. I don't think they're familiar with why I wrote this book. You know, I have a higher loyalty than my loyalty, necessarily, to my past work. That's a loyalty to the truth, and it’s a loyalty to the values I was raised on.
So McClellan served up the issue to Vieira on a silver platter. He mentions PublicAffairs, and even says people aren't familiar with it or the way it operates. Fine! Why not tell us, Scott? But Meredith never asked him to do so. A failure of NBC staff to have provided Vieira with the Soros-related facts, or Meredith's reluctance to undermine the impact of McClellan's allegations? We don't know, but hopefully someone will get to the bottom of the Soros connection soon. Don't count on Keith Olbermann getting into it, though, when McClellan appears this evening on Countdown.
Note: Appearing on Morning Joe today, Rick Stengel, the liberal editor of Time magazine, had the candor to acknowledge that "it feels a little like Frank Rich was the ghost-writer for this book."