On Sunday, Washington Post ombudsman Andrew Alexander wrote a column examining former Bush press secretary Ari Fleischer’s complaint about how Post columnist Dana Milbank characterized his post-9/11 comment that Americans need to “watch what they say.” Fleischer said it was mischaracterized and demanded a correction.
At the beginning of his column, Alexander claimed that Fleischer has pretty much stayed out of “the public spotlight” since leaving the Bush administration in 2003:
Ari Fleischer hasn’t been seen much since he stepped down as White House press secretary in 2003 and moved out of the public spotlight. So it was a surprise when he e-mailed recently asking The Post to “correct the record” on a comment he made nearly eight years ago.
Fleischer, now a sports media consultant in New York, said that Post columnist Dana Milbank was guilty of repeating an “old canard” that has become an “urban myth.”
Alexander’s claim is not supported by Fleischer’s record of continuous media appearances. A Nexis search of CNN, Fox News and MSNBC transcripts shows that Fleischer has made at least six cable news appearances in the past three months. In the past month alone, Fleischer has been quoted on the record twice by Washington Post reporters.
Additionally, Fleischer is part of the “loose confederation” of former Bush aides that are defending the former president’s record in TV appearances and conversations with reporters. Describing the role of the Bush defenders, Fleischer told Politico, “We’re invited to comment on the events of the day and along the way, we remind people that there was, indeed, good news under President Bush.”
As part of his supposed effort to stay out of “the public spotlight” since leaving the White House in 2003, Fleischer also released a memoir about his White House days in 2005.