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Why Oh Why Can't We Have a Better Press Corps? (Newsweek Edition)

Dan Froomkin notes yet another reason not to accept anything in Newsweek at face value, ever:

Mr. Big Government: Amid a slew of stories this weekend about the embattled presidency and the blundering government response to the drowning of New Orleans, some journalists who are long-time observers of the White House are suddenly sharing scathing observations about President Bush that may be new to many of their readers. Among them was Newsweek's Evan Thomas.

Now Aaron Kinney writes in Salon, comparing Thomas's piece with some of Newsweek's earlier coverage: "Witness its cover story by Richard Wolffe from Jan. 24, 2005 . . . the subhead of which read: 'He's hands-on, detail-oriented and hates 'yes' men. The George Bush you don't know has big dreams -- and is racing the clock to realize them.'" Wolffe described the president as a man whose 'leadership style belies his caricature as a disengaged president who is blindly loyal, dislikes dissent and covets his own downtime' -- a caricature that looks like a dead ringer after the vacationing president's reaction to Katrina.

Kinney offers a few examples of the contradictions. Wolffe: 'To hear his friends tell it, Bush hates toadies.' Thomas: 'Bush can be petulant about dissent; he equates disagreement with disloyalty' and 'aides sometimes cringe before [his] displeasure.' Wolffe: Bush's 'style in policy briefings is to narrow the debate with a series of questions, crystallizing the competing opinions and exploring the disagreements between his staff.' Thomas: 'After five years in office, [Bush] is surrounded largely by people who agree with him.'...

The interesting thing is that Wolffe--and the high executives of Newsweek--believe that their denials that Bush is a "disengaged president" will have any long-term reputational cost.

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