NY Times uncritically reported that Bush said he was "focused elsewhere, like on gasoline prices" after he admitted he "hadn't heard" that gas could rise to $4 per gallon

››› ››› ANNE SMITH

In an article about President Bush's February 28 press conference, The New York Times uncritically quoted Bush saying the following in response to a question about the source of funding for his presidential library: "I, frankly, have been focused elsewhere, like on gasoline prices and, you know, my trip to Africa, and haven't seen the fund-raising strategy yet." The Times did not mention that earlier in the press conference, Bush said he "hadn't heard" that gas prices might rise to $4 gallon.

In a February 29 article on President Bush's press conference the previous day in which Bush was asked whether he expected to receive foreign donations for his presidential library, The New York Times uncritically reported that Bush's "detail was scant" regarding his plans for the library because, according to Bush, "I, frankly, have been focused elsewhere, like on gasoline prices, my trip to Africa, and haven't seen the fund-raising strategy yet." Nowhere in the article did it note that earlier in the press conference, before he was asked about his plans for the library, Bush admitted he "hadn't heard" that gas prices might rise to $4 per gallon. Asked by a reporter, "What's your advice to the average American who is hurting now, facing the prospect of $4 a gallon gasoline?" Bush said, "Wait, what did you just say? You're predicting $4 a gallon gasoline? ... That's interesting. I hadn't heard that," and added, "I know it's high now."

The February 29 New York Times article in its entirety:

President Bush said Thursday that he would probably accept foreign donations to build his presidential library in Dallas and would consider keeping the donors' names confidential if they do not want to be identified.

The comments, at a White House news conference, were the first time Mr. Bush had talked in any detail about his plans for the library, which will be at Southern Methodist University, the alma mater of First Lady Laura Bush. But his detail was scant.

"We just announced the deal," he said, "and I, frankly, have been focused elsewhere, like on gasoline prices and, you know, my trip to Africa, and haven't seen the fund-raising strategy yet."

Secrecy surrounding the financing of presidential libraries has become an issue in the campaign to succeed Mr. Bush, as Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, Democrat of New York, has faced questions about who financed her husband's library in Little Rock, Ark. Former President Bill Clinton has accepted foreign donations and has declined to release a list.

Mr. Bush's library, which is to include a museum and a public policy institute, is expected to cost more than $200 million, though Mr. Bush said Thursday that he could not confirm that amount. He said he would "probably take some foreign money, but don't know yet."

From President Bush's February 28 press conference:

QUESTION: What's your advice to the average American who is hurting now, facing the prospect of $4 a gallon gasoline, a lot of people facing --

BUSH: Wait, what did you just say? You're predicting $4 a gallon gasoline?

QUESTION: A number of analysts are predicting --

BUSH: Oh, yeah?

QUESTION: -- $4 a gallon gasoline this spring when they reformulate.

BUSH: That's interesting. I hadn't heard that.

QUESTION: Yes, sir.

BUSH: Yes. I know it's high now.

[...]

QUESTION: Thank you, sir. Now that you've found a location for your presidential library, you've got to find the money to build it. Reports indicate that you may be trying to collect as much as $200 million. Is that figure accurate? Do you believe it's important for the American people to know who is giving that kind of money to their President? Will you disclose the contributions as they come in? And will you place any restriction on who gives money and how much they can give?

BUSH: No, yes, no, yes. [laughter] Next question. [laughter] I haven't -- phew, man. You obviously haven't asked a question in a long time. It was like, you know, -- one, I haven't seen the final budget. Two, as Donnie Evans said, who is the chairman of the foundation, we'll look at the disclosure requirements and make a decision. You know, here's -- there's a lot of people -- or some people; I shouldn't say "a lot" -- some people who like to give and don't particularly want their names disclosed, whether it be for this foundation or any other foundation. And so we'll take that into consideration.

Thirdly -- and what was the other?

QUESTION: Any restrictions on who can give? Will you take foreign money for this?

BUSH: Yes, I'll probably take some foreign money, but don't know yet, Ken. We just haven't -- we just announced the deal and I, frankly, have been focused elsewhere, like on gasoline prices and, you know, my trip to Africa, and haven't seen the fundraising strategy yet. So the answer to your question, really, I can't answer your question well.

Posted In
Economy
Network/Outlet
The New York Times
Stories/Interests
Gas Prices
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