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Bush reads the papers!

New York, Dec. 25: Is there hope for newspapers after all' Readers may be abandoning the printed versions, but over the last couple of years, at least one person seems to have started reading them, at least sometimes. He lives in the White House.

President George W. Bush declared in 2003 that he did not read newspapers, but at his final news conference of the year last week, he casually mentioned that he had seen something in the paper that very day.

Asked for his reaction to word that Vice-President Dick Cheney would be called to testify in the CIA leak case, the President allowed: “I read it in the newspaper today, and it’s an interesting piece of news.”

That was a marked contrast with his position in 2003, when he told Brit Hume on Fox News that he glanced at the headlines, but “I rarely read the stories”, because, he said, they mix opinion with fact. He said he preferred to get his news from “objective sources” — like “people on my staff who tell me what’s happening in the world”.

Critics howled that his statement showed he was out of touch with both the world and average American. Last year, in an interview with Brian Williams, he softened his stand. “I see a lot of the news,” Bush told Williams. “I — every morning I look at the newspaper. I’m not — I can’t say I’ve read every single article in the newspaper, but I definitely know what’s in the news.”

In April, Bush reinforced the idea that he read the paper but at the same time suggested it had little influence on his thinking. “I hear the voices and I read the front page and I hear the speculation, but I’m the decider, and I decide what’s best,” he said.

Still, despite his statement in 2003 that he did not read the papers, his wife, Laura, said last week that she and her husband had read the morning papers for years. “We’ve done the same thing since we first got married,” she said. “We wake up in the morning and drink coffee and read the newspapers.”

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