Flashback: Press Didn't Like Tell-all Books About President Clinton

May 28th, 2008 7:43 PM

As media gush over Scott McClellan's latest tell-all book about the Bush adminstration, a 1999 article by Margaret Carlson depicted a much less-pleased press corps when George Stephanopoulos's "All Too Human: A Political Education" cast an unfavorable light on then President Bill Clinton.

In fact, according to the former Time magazine columnist, people in the media referred to Stephanopoulos as a "turncoat," a "backstabber," and an "ingrate."

'Tis a far cry from the standing ovation McClellan is publicly receiving in press rooms around the country, wouldn't you agree?

Without further ado, here were some of the highlights from Carlson's rather stunning by comparison March 14, 1999 column (emphasis added throughout, grateful h/t to NBer Gary Hall):

Books by people seduced and betrayed by the President are coming out of Washington at the rate of one a week. Just as Monica's Story was hitting No. 1 on the best-seller list, George Stephanopoulos uncorked All Too Human: A Political Education, an account of his years at Clinton's side. While it is a good read--galloping through the 1992 campaign and Clinton's bumpy first term--it will be known as the latest example of disloyalty at the top, an attempt to cash in on trickle-down celebrity with an instant book.

Hmmm. I couldn't have said it any better: the latest example of disloyalty at the top, an attempt to cash in on trickle-down celebrity with an instant book.

Somehow these sentiments aren't being punched into keyboards today. Why might that be?

In a nonstop round of interviews, George has been hit with scathing criticism. On NBC, Katie Couric asked him how it felt to be called a "turncoat" whose take on the President was "kind of creepy." Over at CBS, Mark McEwen said the author was being called a "backstabber" and an "ingrate." On CNN former Clinton adviser Mandy Grunwald noted that if the President hadn't given George the "opportunity of a lifetime," George might still be a Capitol Hill aide, not a "multimillion-dollar book writer and commentator" (inside the White House make that "commentraitor"). And James Carville says Washington has become The Truman Show, broadcasting Clinton's private life in something approaching real time.

Yet, here might be the best part:

Even George, at one time, wouldn't have approved of George. Commenting on Dick Morris' memoirs, George said, "You have a responsibility not to embarrass the President. It hurts the country. It's just stupidity and weakness." That sentiment may have held Stephanopoulos back. He may have been disloyal enough to take nearly $3 million to write the book, but something kept him from stripping Clinton bare.

Hmmm. You mean sometimes people do things for money? Noooooo.

Stupid question of the day alert: Why isn't this greedy motivation ever raised when a former member of a Republican administration gets rich off such a tell-all?

Maybe this is why NBC's David Gregory is grimacing today.