From Publishers Weekly
A former White House press secretary, Fleischer became a lightning rod for accusations about the Bush administration's alleged spin, secrecy and hostility to the press, claims that may not be quieted by this sunnily defensive memoir. Fleischer acknowledges the White House's fanatical "message discipline," which still seems in force in his glowing portrait of Bush as a decisive leader, stalwart in advancing freedom and opposing "evil," forever comforting the families of terror victims and military casualties. And he cops to some stonewalling at press briefings, explaining, with some justice, that many questions concerned security and military operations he couldn't discuss. The many lengthy fencing matches he reprints sometimes evoke sympathy, as reporters badger him with provocative questions and he responds "with the same non-answer every time." Mainly, though, he blames his testy relations with the media on the media themselves and what he sees as their knee-jerk controversializing and pervasive liberal bias, and gleefully cites examples. Fleischer is less forthcoming on his own responsibility for relating false claims about Iraqi weapons of mass destruction; "we may all have been wrong," he shrugs, but contends it doesn't matter because Saddam might have gotten WMDs someday. Seldom have a press secretary's inaccuracies had such momentous consequences, so Fleischer's reluctance to examine how and why they occurred is disappointing indeed. Photos.
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Former White House press secretary Fleischer offers a behind-the-scenes look at one of the most high profile positions in any administration and observations on bias in the media. Born into a Jewish liberal Democratic family in New York, he traces his personal journey to the Republican Party and the campaign and early administration of President Bush. He details private moments from the contentious 2000 presidential election when Bush declined to worry about the outcome to Bush's expressed desire for peace in the Middle East even as he fights against terrorism. Fleischer also offers quotes and anecdotes on the president's thoughts and actions on the war in Iraq and domestic policies. Fleischer criticizes a press he sees as biased in favor of the Democrats, noting differences in press treatment of positions from affirmative action to abortion. But the first and foremost bias of the press is in favor of conflict, Fleischer maintains, in this revealing look at how the news is made and covered from the perspective of the White House. Vanessa BushCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved