Murray to Bush speechwriters: “Knock it off!”

The Matthew Scully/Michael Gerson affair finally brings Speechwriter’s Newsletter Editor David Murray to a conclusion on the subject of speechwriters and anonymity.

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1. Don’t ask, don’t tell. Even if asked, a speechwriter should vaguely say, “I help President Clinton with his speeches,” in a tone of voice that leaves the questioner to wonder if all the writer did was research.

Will the real Michael Gerson please stand up?

“The narrative that Mike Gerson presented to the world is a story of extravagant falsehood,” Scully writes, referring to Gerson’s book, Heroic Conservatism. “He has been held up for us in six years’ worth of coddling profiles as the great, inspiring and idealistic exception of the Bush White House. In reality, Mike’s conduct is just the most familiar and depressing of Washington stories—a history of self-seeking and media manipulation that is only more distasteful for being cast in such lofty terms.”

Naturally, Gerson was crushed. “The last acknowledgment in the book I did was to Matt Scully and John McConnell, who I called the finest of writers and the finest of men,” Gerson told The Washington Post. “So you can imagine how I feel. I feel heartsick about it. It’s very difficult.”

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