Look at that: The tell-all book from former White House press secretary Scott McClellan is flying off the shelves, ranking number one on Amazon.com and spurring his publisher to double the print run to 130,000 copies. Sales are no doubt helped by the fact that the dishy memoir is a well-timed and fairly complete betrayal of his old Texas buddy George W. Bush, instead of a self-serving and half-hearted repudiation of the administration like the book put out by former CIA director George Tenet. But McClellan hardly took home Tenet's $4 million advance. Nor did he garner a $1.5 million advance, like Bush political adviser Karl Rove. Heck, doughy little McClellan couldn't even get "mid-to-high six figures" like Bush counterterrorism adviser Richard Clarke. It turns out the Bush mouthpiece took in less than $100,000 up-front on his book deal, according to Salon — about $75,000, said an AP source. It turns out his wonky publisher PublicAffairs didn't think he would deliver the goods. Writes Salon blogger and fellow PublicAffairs author Osha Gray Davidson:
I'm not sure that McClellan knows this (he and I have never met or spoken), but PublicAffairs was at first skeptical when McClellan and his agent made their pitch. Doubtful enough that, says [PublicAffairs editor Lisa] Kaufman, founder/publisher Peter Osnos called around first, asking White House reporters what they thought of McClellan. "They told Peter that Scott was a straight shooter," says Kaufman. "That if he says he's going to tell the truth, he will tell the truth."
Obviously, I can't vouch for McClellan's veracity. I have, however, had a chance to read his book. And having also known and worked with Kaufman for several years, I can say this: "What Happened" was not, as Rove et al. have charged, written by his "New York editor." Stylistically, that is just not her voice on the page.
Of course, McClellan stands to earn some hefty residuals if his book keeps selling well, assuming the credulous former Bush mouthpiece has toughened up enough not to accept any B.S. from his publisher.