September 24, 2003

Bush the News Monitor

Andrew Cline of Rhetorica posts an excerpt from the transcript of an interview between Brit Hume of Fox News and President Bush during which Bush admits he doesn't read newspapers - not that unusual, since all presidents receive daily news summaries - putting him in the category of news skimmers (in contrast to news scammers like Jayson Blair).

Those who just nibble on news but leave the full-scale feasting to others, says Cline, are "monitorial," someone who "scans the headlines on a regular basis to get the surface details but little depth. When an issue of particular interest arises, however, monitorial citizens know how and where to get the depth of coverage they desire."

Cline attributes the coinage to historian Michael Schudson, who in his book The Good Citizen "contends that we have evolved into 'monitorial' citizens."

That would, of course, explain changes in the methods of news consumption - the devolution from a medium that requires more time (newspapers) to one that demands less (television) and, now, to one that can be skimmed at will (the Internet).

The Hume-Bush interview, in its own right, demonstrates the exponential growth of journalistic silliness that occurs when the fatuous interview the vacuous.

Here's a Bush response: "I glance at the headlines just to kind of a flavor for what's moving. I rarely read the stories, and get briefed by people who are probably read the news themselves."

Posted by Tim Porter at September 24, 2003 08:34 AM

I think it would be better if you just omitted this kind of reporting from your blog. I know our President is not interested in any new ideas, does not have a curious cell in his body, and is a very, very slow reader. Reminding me of this is extremely depressing.

Posted by: d rabin on September 24, 2003 05:13 PM
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