Anne Kornblut (who's taken on the White House beat while Elisabeth Bumiller works on a book on Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice) on Tuesday offers this view of Bush's trip to the site of the Hurricane Katrina disaster.
It's not a bad story, but this paragraph portrays Bush in an unnecessarily unflattering light: "When the storm actually hit and his advisers began to realize the scope of the catastrophe, Mr. Bush was in Southern California on a campaign-style travel swing. Images of a remote president playing guitar on a military base, then later posing for a picture as he peered out the window of Air Force One as it flew over the devastation helped fuel the perception that Mr. Bush failed to respond adequately to the storm."
But as the Times well knows, perception becomes reality courtesy of big-media megaphones like the Times, which has gone out of its way to show Bush as out of touch during Katrina. And the perception ofa guitar-strumming Bushlacks context.
As former White House press secretary Scott McClellan noted last year when challenged by a reporter about Guitar-gate: "That was an event to go and thank our troops and talk about the war on terrorism....The person that was entertaining our troops there presented a gift to the President. So I think you need to make that clear to everybody who's watching this or to your viewers."