Tuned In or Out? -- Should it matter whether the president reads the paper? That's the question many were asking after George W. Bush told Fox News that he did not follow the news. "What's in the newspapers worth worrying about?" he asked Brit Hume. "I glance at the headlines just to kind of get a flavor of what's moving. I rarely read the stories."
Not to miss an opening, John Kerry told The Nation's John Nichols that he loves the smell of ink in the morning. "I read four or five papers a day if I can," said Kerry. " I always pick up a local paper in the hotel I'm staying at. And I try to get the Washington Post, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, USA Today, papers like that."
On this one, Kerry seems to be more in line with past presidents. Nichols points out that, "Dwight Eisenhower read nine papers daily, Ronald Reagan was such an avid consumer of newspapers that his ex-wife Jane Wyman complained about his print media obsessions, and presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton were known to go through stacks of papers each day." George Washington set the pace early, as he was known to take as many newspapers as they would deliver to Mount Vernon.
But Bush isn't totally out of the loop on current events: As he explained to Hume, he gets briefed by aides who "probably" read the news.
Were You Paying Attention? -- Apparently we weren't, because in last week's commentary, "Money Over Country," we mistakenly printed that Harry Truman was president in 1943. Of course he didn't take over until FDR died in April 1945. Thanks to all of you who pointed it out!
Check Your Local Listings -- In case you haven't noticed, PBS is getting more into the punditry biz. Already home to a show hosted by Tucker Carlson, the conservative CNN regular, soon PBS stations will feature a show hosted by members of the Wall Street Journal Editorial Board. In case you didn't know, the group is considered the most reliably conservative in the nation. And they never seem to let a few inconvenient facts -- even those reported in their own newspaper -- get in the way of a stinging editorial.
In fact, the Columbia Journalism Review has documented scores of mistakes in their work. The investigation also found that the WSJ editors don't like to print corrections, a common practice in every newspaper on the planet. They ask the aggrieved party to write a letter, making it a kind of he-said, she-said when it's actually just a matter of fact. Oh well, maybe all those dittoheads switching to PBS will stay tuned and discover that deep down inside, they really love ballet.