[FOUNTAIN]Styles differ in handling the mediaIn Christopher Anderson’s “George and Laura: Portrait of an American Marriage,” First Lady Laura Bush said that “she had seen her husband so frustrated by his inability to get a message across that he sometimes broke down in tears,” as she recalled the 1992 reelection campaign of her father-in-law, George H. W. Bush.
During his father’s campaign, George Bush had frequent collisions with the media. At the Republican Party convention in Houston, Texas, he had a big argument with a CBS anchor. In another live interview, he threw down the microphone and left. He even stopped unfriendly media from contacting his father.
During his own presidential campaign, Mr. Bush’s relationship with the media remained hostile. When a television reporter from Boston asked him whether he knew the name of the Pakistani president, he could not produce the right answer. The reporter followed up by asking the names of the Indian prime minister and Chechen president, and Mr. Bush was completely lost. The media haunted Mr. Bush during the campaign by accentuating his “ignorant” image.
After the election victory, the media continued to pick on Mr. Bush, and criticism exploded as he pushed for a military campaign against Iraq. Even during the early days of the war, the New York Times and Wall Street Journal attacked him. The Washington Post wrote that he had been too optimistic about the war.
David Frum quoted Mr. Bush’s words in his book, “The Right Man: The Surprise Presidency of George W. Bush.”
“I realize sometimes people don’t like my decisions. That’s okay. I’ve never been one to try to please everybody all the time. I just do what I think is right. The good thing about democracy, if people like the decisions you make, they let you stay. If they don’t, they’ll send me back to Crawford.”
As some media attacked President Roh Moo-hyun on the capital relocation, he got furious and said that real estate owners were attacking him. Interestingly, President Bush never accused the Washington Post or New York Times of trying to topple his administration. Both Mr. Roh and Mr. Bush are 58 years old, but the two presidents have very different ways of dealing with the media.
by Ahn Sung-kyoo
The writer is a political news deputy editor of the JoongAng Ilbo.