Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Pres. Bush Does, Too, Read Newspapers

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One of Bob Woodward's sources in "State of Denial," which I just finished reading, told Woodward that Pres. Bush is not intellectually curious. I'll say. It's front-page news today in the Paper of Record that Bush now claims he does read newspapers:

Is there hope for newspapers after all? Readers may be abandoning the printed versions, but over the last couple of years, at least one person seems to have started reading them, at least sometimes. He lives in the White House.

President Bush declared in 2003 that he did not read newspapers, but at his final news conference of the year last week, he casually mentioned that he had seen something in the paper that very day.

Asked for his reaction to word that Vice President Cheney would be called to testify in the C.I.A. leak case, the president allowed: "I read it in the newspaper today, and it's an interesting piece of news."

That was a marked contrast with his position in 2003, when he told Brit Hume on Fox News that he glanced at the headlines, but "I rarely read the stories," because, he said, they mix opinion with fact. He said he preferred to get his news from "objective sources" -- like "people on my staff who tell me what's happening in the world."

Steve Benen, who is subbing for Kevin Drum at The Washington Monthly, calls it "the soft bigotry of low expectations":

It's come to this. Expectations for the president have fallen so low, the New York Times devoted an entire piece to Bush's recent claim that he read a newspaper article.

Benen also quotes what Bush said to Washington Times editor Bill Sammon two years ago:

... "I get the newspapers -- the New York Times, The Washington Times, The Washington Post and USA Today -- those are the four papers delivered," he said. "I can scan a front page, and if there is a particular story of interest, I'll skim it."

Steve dryly comments:

(When most of us see a newspaper article that we think might be interesting, we read it. When the president sees a story of particular interest, he'll "skim" it. How reassuring.)

And how unsurprising.

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