Neuharth: 'Media Owe Mea Culpa' for Not Warning of Bush's 'Misdeeds'

In his weekly Friday column confusingly titled “Media should offer Bush a mea culpa,” USA Today founder Al Neuharth contended “many of us in the media owe a mea culpa to Bush -- and to you -- for failing to properly inform” him and the public “of the possible consequences” of Bush's “major misdeeds.” We've lacked enough critiques of Bush policies? Bush, Neuharth condescendingly opined, “simply did not understand much of what he did as the self-proclaimed 'decider'” and “he listened too much to his two worst advisers, Vice President Cheney and the forgotten former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld.”

He scolded journalists for having “failed to warn” of the Iraq “ mistake” and for how “most journalists (including me) failed to warn adequately what the credit card craze and home buying binge might lead to. Bush couldn't comprehend it.” Thus, “many of us in the media owe a mea culpa to Bush -- and to you -- for failing to properly inform of the possible consequences of those major misdeeds.”

In the “Other views on Bush legacy” below Neuharth's column, former New York Times reporter Alex Jones, nor Director of Harvard's Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy, maintained: “The press owes a mea culpa, but not to Bush, who disparaged and ignored news he didn't like. It is owed to the public.”

An excerpt from Neuharth's January 9 “Plain Talk” column:
....Bush's departure will have widely varying thoughts from his admirers (there are still some), his critics (there are many) and his sympathizers (a growing number).

Count me among the latter two. Here's why:

- He simply did not understand much of what he did as the self-proclaimed "decider."

- He listened too much to his two worst advisers, Vice President Cheney and the forgotten former secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld.

- He didn't listen enough to his dad, the former president who understood it better.

I voted for "W" the first time he ran for president, as did 50,456,002of us. But I wised up before he ran for re-election.

Iraq was the main reason....

Most journalists failed to warn of that mistake....

Likewise, domestically most journalists (including me) failed to warn adequately what the credit card craze and home buying binge might lead to. Bush couldn't comprehend it and others in the government ignored or encouraged it.

Many of us in the media owe a mea culpa to Bush -- and to you -- for failing to properly inform of the possible consequences of those major misdeeds.
Brent Baker
Brent Baker
Brent Baker is the Steven P.J. Wood Senior Fellow and VP for Research and Publications at the Media Research Center