Correction to This Article
ยท A May 30 Page One article about the memoir by former White House press secretary Scott McClellan incorrectly said that President Bush authorized the selective release of classified information about Iran. The information related to Iraq.
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McClellan Says Book's Tone Evolved

After the release of his inflammatory book "What Happened," former White House press secretary Scott McClellan talks with Katie Couric about his allegations against the Bush administration. Video by

Osnos called the book "a really sophisticated, thoughtful, reasoned and, in many ways, pained portrait of a president" and said, "The Bush he came to serve went off the rails."

He also dismissed suggestions that McClellan is merely hoping to cash in. Unlike some larger publishing houses, he said, PublicAffairs almost never pays more than a five-figure advance. "No one has ever done a book for PublicAffairs for the money," he said.

Book editors working on political memoirs often seek to "draw out the story and make sure the story is complete," said Paul Bogaards, the publicity director at the Alfred A. Knopf publishing house.

If McClellan had not been pushed by PublicAffairs to be candid, Bogaards said, he could have been accused of holding back. "If publishers balk at the proposal, it's usually because they get a sense that the writer is going to give an incomplete accounting of what happened. And no one is interested in publishing those kinds of books," he said.

Former colleagues continued their sharp criticism of McClellan yesterday.

Dana Perino, the current White House press secretary, questioned his depiction of a pro-war propaganda campaign, saying it did not appear to be substantiated in the book. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, speaking to reporters in Sweden, said that there was no intent to mislead Americans about Iraq and that Bush "was very clear about the reasons for going to war."

And former presidential counselor Dan Bartlett, appearing after McClellan on NBC's "Today" show, called the book "beyond the pale."

"I would not personally participate in a process in which we are misleading the American people, and that's the part that I think is hurting so many of his former colleagues," Bartlett said.

McClellan said many of the early reactions are based on excerpts rather than the whole book, which has just begun to appear on store shelves.

"They're trying to look at the book in these 'gotcha' terms," he said. "It's exactly what I talk about in the book -- it's playing the Washington 'gotcha' game."

McClellan acknowledged his own role in what he called the "spin and political manipulation" during his time as press secretary, from 2003 to 2006, including attacks on other former Bush administration officials who penned critical books or articles.

"I was caught up in the Washington game, just like everybody else," he said.

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