A President Who Doesn't Read Newspapers

Helen Thomas writes about President Bush's disconnect with the rest of the country, which she partially attributes to the fact that he doesn't read newspapers.

The President of the United States doesn't read newspapers? We find this astonishing. Apparently, in an interview with Fox News' Brit Hume, Bush said he relies on aides to tell him what's important in the daily papers.

Bush was asked how he gets his news. Answer: He relies on briefings by chief of staff Andrew Card and national security affairs adviser Condoleezza Rice.

He walks into the Oval Office in the morning, Bush said, and asks Card: "What's in the newspapers worth worrying about? I glance at the headlines just to kind of (get) a flavor of what's moving," Bush said. "I rarely read the stories," he said.

Bush said he has been getting his news this way for quite some time.

Busy as he is, Bush would be better acquainted with the daily lives of Americans if he read his daily newspapers. I don't know of many brave White House staffers willing to risk the president's anger by dishing him the bad news.

Instead, Bush is spoon-fed the relevant news from his staff. Top aides usually know the buttons not to push when it comes to bad news. More often they will tell the president what he wants to hear -- the good news if there is any. Or they may just sugar coat the news that is tougher to swallow.

We find Bush's statement pathetically sad for him, and frightening for the rest of us. Sad for him because almost everyone reads a newspaper somewhere. Maybe we all don't subscribe to one, but we all read one--in the taxi cab, at the coffee or donut shop, at the barber's, in the doctor's waiting room, at the car dealership, the airport, hotel lobby, shoe shine stand.... all of us but the President of the United States.

And frightening for the rest of us because here is a man whose awesome responsibilities include making the most important of decisions for our country, those that affect our daily lives and the lives of those in other countries--as well as decisions that shape and define our country's role in the world -- and he fulfills these responsiblities by relying upon second-hand news.

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