White House Rips ‘NYT’ Column On Bush Economic Reaction

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By: Joe Strupp

In a harsh press release, The White House slammed The New York Times for a Thursday column that criticized President Bush’s reaction to the economic crisis.

The White House response, posted on the official Web site, is titled: “Setting the Record Straight: The New York Times Mistakes Its Own Blindness for Presidential ‘Invisibility'”

It then states, “Apologist For Democrat-Led Congress? Inaction, Paper Criticizes President Bush For Public Unawareness Of Housing Event Old ‘Gray Lady’ Forgot She Failed To Cover.”

The press release contends that the Times’ assessment is wrong and cites numerous examples of what it claims are Bush’s economic-related actions. It also blatantly accuses the newspaper of bias, even citing a 2004 study that alleged the Times was among newspapers prone to being pro-Democratic.

The angry release was in response to a Page One “White House Memo”, titled “In Economic Drama, Bush Is Largely Offstage” by Sheryl Gay Stolberg, which claims Bush has not been directly involved enough in the economic crisis.

“The first hint that President Bush might be detached from the nation?s economic woes was in February, when he conceded that he had not heard about predictions of $4-a-gallon gasoline,” Stolberg writes. “Then Mr. Bush went to Wall Street to warn against ‘massive government intervention in the housing markets,’ two days before his administration helped broker the takeover of the investment bank Bear Stearns.”

She later opines: “While Mr. Bush may be talking, Americans do not seem to be listening. When the president visited a debt counseling center on Friday in Freehold, N.J., it did not generate major headlines. But the papers were awash with the news that Senator Bob Casey of Pennsylvania had endorsed Senator Barack Obama for the Democratic nomination for president.”

Stolberg could not yet be reached for comment Friday. Times officials had no immediate response.

The White House release jumps on the New Jersey event reference, then criticizes the paper for not covering it.

“Today, the New York Times criticized President Bush for failing to generate headlines for his visit to Novadebt counseling center in Freehold, N.J. to meet with mortgage counselors and discuss the housing market,” it stated, in part. “The ‘newspaper of record’ further claims ‘Mr. Bush has sometimes seemed invisible during the housing and credit crunch.’

“The New York Times neglects to mention that it failed to send a reporter to cover the President?s housing event in Freehold, N.J. ? a town inside its own circulation area,” the press release adds. “The New York Times also criticizes President Bush for attending the NATO Summit this week, saying ‘now Mr. Bush is in Eastern Europe, one of eight foreign trips he is taking this year.’

“President Bush is overseas on an important mission to advance critical issues at the NATO Summit, such as missile defense, increased troop presence in Afghanistan, and enlarging NATO?s membership to include new democracies in Europe,” The White House states, adding, “The New York Times inaccurately accuses President Bush of being out of touch with the economy, while ‘Senate Democrats and Republicans were holed up in the Capitol, scrambling to produce a bill to help struggling homeowners.’?

But, the release says, “Since August 2007, President Bush has appeared at public events where he has discussed issues pertaining to the economy or housing at least 28 times. In the meantime, since the start of 2008, Congress has been on recess almost as many days at they have been in session.”

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