"Mr. McClellan got a taste of life on the other side," Sheryl Gay Stolberg writes in The New York Times. "The White House and a tight-knit group of former aides pushed back. They sought to paint the former press secretary as a disgruntled man trying to redeem his own reputation after long remaining silent about concerns he is suddenly taking public."
"The result was a kind of public excommunication of Mr. McClellan, waged by some of the people with whom he once worked most closely, among them Karl Rove, the political strategist; Frances Fragos Townsend, the former domestic security adviser; Ari Fleischer, Mr. Bush's first press secretary; and Dan Bartlett, the former counselor to the president," she continues.
Trent Duffy, McClellan's former understudy, tells The Washington Post: "Tomorrow maybe we're going to learn he's rooting for the Oklahoma Sooners. . . . Here's a man who owes his whole career to George W. Bush, and here he's stabbing him in the back and no one knows why. . . . He appears to be dancing on his political grave for cash."
If you recognize this playbook (Paul O'Neill, Richard Clarke, David Kuo, John DiIulio . . . ) that may be because McClellan used to read from it.
Per ABC's Jake Tapper, this is McClellan in March 2004, referring to the Clarke book: "Well, why, all of a sudden, if he had all these grave concerns, did he not raise these sooner? This is one-and-a-half years after he left the administration. And now, all of a sudden, he's raising these grave concerns that he claims he had. And I think you have to look at some of the facts. One, he is bringing this up in the heat of a presidential campaign. He has written a book and he certainly wants to go out there and promote that book."
Maybe not everyone's shocked: "Several of the reporters who jousted with McClellan during his tenure at the briefing room podium from July 2003 to April 2006 -- the same group of reporters who McClellan now describes as being 'too deferential' in the run-up to invading Iraq -- say they are not surprised that the mild-mannered spokesman has lashed out," Politico's Michael Calderone writes.
But of McClellan playing media critic, saying reporters weren't aggressive enough? "It's a stunning and unsupportable statement," CBS radio's Mark Knoller tells the Los Angeles Times. ABC's Ann Compton: "Is Scott suggesting the White House press corps can stop, or start wars?" NBC's David Gregory: "I think he's wrong."
The AP's Terence Hunt on the fallout: "His word, it turns out, was worthless, his confessional memoir a glimpse into Washington's world of spin and even outright deception."
And who knows how to get in the news? "Scott McClellan must now appear before the House Judiciary Committee under oath to tell Congress and the American people how President Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, Karl Rove, Scooter Libby, and White House officials deliberately orchestrated a massive propaganda campaign to sell the war in Iraq to the American people," said Rep. Robert Wexler, D-Fla.
Such a pity -- the RNC clock on Obama had just started ticking, too. Obama's plans for Iraq could de-fang what could have emerged as a powerful McCain argument -- a key data point in his efforts to portray Obama as too inexperienced for the job.