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Did President Bush Admit Lying to Reporters on National Television?



BushmediaThe question came early in Preisdent Bush's backpedaling press conference this afternoon, asked respectfully by a reporter who had good reason not to be so nice.

You told us a week ago Defense Secretary Don Rumsfeld was staying indefinitely, the guy basically said. What happened?

Bush came up with a response that sounded more like a Will Ferrell skit than an actual quote from the President.

"I didn't want to inject a major decision about the war in the final days of a campaign," he said. "The only way to answer that question -- and to get you onto another question -- was to give you that answer."Bushedia3

In other words, I didn't want to upset the campaign, so I lied to you (he also said, rather lamely, that he hadn't had a final conversation with Rumsfeld).

Not only did Bush admit lying to reporters to keep from upsetting the campaign -- he also admitted delaying implementing change in the Defense Department, at a time when soldiers are dying daily, to avoid hurting the Republicans' chances at the polls. (MSNBC anchor Keith Olbermann also took issue again with Bush's contention that he rarely used the term "stay the course" re-showing his clips proving the president used the phrase 29 times in public speeches.)

I have a feeling we have many more moments like this in our future.

$15 Million for Third Place?

Couricelection_1 Nielsen Media Research has had a difficult time pulling together TV ratings for last night's election coverage on the big networks, so the final numbers may change tomorrow.

But it looks like CBS' $15-million anchor Katie Couric earned the network a third-place finish Tuesday evening, drawing about 6.3-million viewers with her hourlong, 10 p.m. report.

ABC's Charlie Gibson won the night, retaining 9.6 million viewers for his 90-minute report at 9:30 p.m. from the 23 million folks who watched ABC's Dancing with the Stars the half hour before. NBC drew 7 million viewers at 10 p.m.

But the guy who once held Couic's seat, Dan Rather, urged against paying too much attention to ratings when i asked him about the show last week (my full interview with him will hit the paper next week).

"It’s going to take time...I think it will be the end of February -- by the time they get through November sweeps and February sweeps -- it will be clear what the new direction that they've settled on...They’ll experiment some, and while they’re experimenting, I’ll keep an open mind. We need to see the new CBS News -– when a big, unscheduled news event happens. When the new anchor and the new CBS News has to come on the air handling a 9/11 or a tsumani -– where they have to stay on for hours on end, sometimes for days on end -– without a script. That will be a decisive time. Then we’ll be able to draw a breath and say, OK we have an idea of what the new direction is.”

Actually, that's something I've also thought for a while now. All these breathless stories on Couric's ratings feel a bit premature; she had a good, long ratings bump from people curious to see what she was up to. Now the field has settled back down to the people who watch the evening news regularly, and it will take Couric months to change this crowd's viewing habits -- just like it took her predecessor, Bob Schieffer, a year to gain 300,000 viewers.

As always, click on photos to enlarge

[Last modified: Wednesday, July 21, 2010 2:37pm]


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