White House reporter Elisabeth Bumiller's interview with long-time Bush pal (and wealthy Democrat) Roland Betts makes the front page Friday. Given that the White House declined to comment for the article, its news value is a little suspect, but Bumiller tries her best to wring some impressions of Bush from Betts: "Clearly, Mr. Betts is not the person to go to for an unvarnished view of the president, and he invariably describes a more thoughtful and curious chief executive than Mr. Bush's public image suggests."
Bumiller returns to the Times' hobbyhorse of Dick Cheney as puppet-master behind Bush: "At the same time, Mr. Betts describes a president more concerned than he lets on about the perception among some critics that Vice President Dick Cheney is running the country. When Mr. Bush spoke to the commission investigating the attacks of Sept. 11, Mr. Betts said that the president took along Mr. Cheney not to present a consistent story but to show the panel that Mr. Bush was in charge. 'What he told me was that he wanted people to see how deeply he understood all this,' Mr. Betts said, 'and how he was calling all the shots.'"
A perception the Times has done its part toencourage .
For the full interview with Betts, click here :
"Some Economists" Say Bush "Fear-Mongering" Social Security
The day after President Bush plugged his version of Social Security reform in a speech to high school students in Virginia, Vice President Cheney made a similar speech at Catholic University in Washington, D.C. As if following that pattern, Bumiller lifts a liberally loaded line from her Bush story for her Friday piece on Cheney's speech.
In her Thursday story on Bush's speech, Bumiller wrote: "Many Democrats and economists say that Mr. Bush is exaggerating the problem, and that Social Security could be fixed with modest tax increases and a cut in benefits."
Bumiller ups the ante for her story on Cheney's speech: "Many Democrats and economists say that the administration is fear mongering and that Social Security could be fixed with modest tax increases and a cut in benefits." Are there really no economists who think Social Security is in trouble?
For the full Bumiller on Cheney's speech, click here :
Conservative beat reporter David Kirkpatrick files a short story Friday on the elevation of abortion supporter Joann Davidson to chair the Republican National Committee. Kirkpatrick leads with this take on the choice: "Ken Mehlman, chairman of the Republican National Committee, has asked an Ohio Republican who supports some abortion rights to be his co-chairman, stirring the ire of social conservatives."
At the Times, "ire" is an emotion detected almost exclusively among conservatives. A Nexis search of the last two years of stories indicates the Times has used the word "ire" within five words of "conservative" 13 times. Over that same period, "ire" was used to describe the emotion of liberals just twice.
For the rest of Kirkpatrick's story, click here :
In a surprise, reporter James Dao departs from dispensing Democratic conventional  wisdom to look at malpractice and tort reform from the angle of frustrated doctors and suffering patients in Friday's "A Push In States to Curb Malpractice Costs."
Dao sums up the fight for tort reform in the states: "But in most of the states, soaring malpractice premiums have been the driving force for the campaigns - in part because compelling stories about doctors and their patients have put human faces on the larger issue. In some regions, soaring premiums have led doctors to strike, stop delivering vital services and even quit."
Dao even points out how indebted the Democrat Party is to trial lawyers: "The battles pit two of the nation's most powerful campaign contributors: trial lawyers and doctors. In the 2004 campaign, the American Trial Lawyers Association political action committee gave $2.1 million to federal candidates, almost all of them Democrats. The American Medical Association's political committee contributed nearly $2 million, with 81 percent going to Republicans. The American Medical Association said that nearly 20 states were facing malpractice crises, with premiums having risen by 50 percent or more in the last two years. The group cites skyrocketing litigation costs."
For the rest of Dao's refreshing story on tort reform, click here :