By: Carl Sullivan
Some critics pounced on President George W. Bush’s recent revelation that he doesn’t regularly read newspapers. So how does the 43rd president compare with his predecessors?
According to this week’s “50 Years Ago” feature in E&P magazine, President Dwight D. Eisenhower read nine newspapers every day. The complete item from the Nov. 21, 1953 issue of E&P:
Eisenhower Reads Nine Newspapers Daily
ST. LOUIS — In answer to a question from the floor of the Sigma Delta Chi convention, James C. Hagerty, Presidential press secretary, revealed that President Eisenhower reads nine newspapers regularly in addition to receiving a one-page digest of the news daily. The papers named were:
The Washington Star, the Washington News, The Washington Post, The Washington Times-Herald, The New York Times, the New York Herald Tribune, the Baltimore Sun, New York’s Daily News and the Chicago Tribune.
Of course, even if President Bush was as voracious a reader as Eisenhower, he’d have to deviate from the 34th president’s list since four of those newspapers no longer exist. And to be fair, broadcast media has become exponentially more important since the 1950s glory days of print media — not to mention the impact of the Internet.
For the record, here’s what President Bush said to Brit Hume in an interview on Fox News on Sept. 22, according to a transcript on FoxNews.com:
HUME: How do you get your news?
BUSH: I get briefed by [White House Chief of Staff] Andy Card and [National Security Advisor] Condi [Rice] in the morning. They come in and tell me. In all due respect, you’ve got a beautiful face and everything.
I glance at the headlines just to kind of a flavor for what’s moving. I rarely read the stories, and get briefed by people who are probably read the news themselves. But like Condoleezza, in her case, the national security adviser is getting her news directly from the participants on the world stage.
HUME: Has that been your practice since day one, or is that a practice that you’ve…
BUSH: Practice since day one.
BUSH: Yes. You know, look, I have great respect for the media. I mean, our society is a good, solid democracy because of a good, solid media. But I also understand that a lot of times there’s opinions mixed in with news. And I…
HUME: I won’t disagree with that, sir.
BUSH: I appreciate people’s opinions, but I’m more interested in news. And the best way to get the news is from objective sources. And the most objective sources I have are people on my staff who tell me what’s happening in the world.