This is the political urban legend that just won't die. On Glenn Beck's August 23 show, longtime Democratic strategist and media advisor Peter Fenn perpetuated the media-rooted myth that George HW Bush was amazed at how regular grocery-store scanners worked, which fed into the media themes that he was in a “bubble” and “out of touch” with how Regular Joes lived.
So, this seasoned Democratic operative dredged up an old canard while discussing Barack Obama's recent elitist sounding gaffe of asking a group of Iowa farmers, “Has anybody gone to Whole Foods lately and seen what they charged for arugula?” Fenn had to show that Republicans are also out of touch elitists and authoritatively repeated the fake Bush story to Beck who didn't dispute it (emphasis mine):
We had President Bush I who didn`t know what a scanner at a grocery store was. I`ll tell you, I think one of the things that when candidates try to be a little too down-to-earth, it doesn`t come off very well. Actually I think that Barack Obama probably does relate to folks. I think you`re going to see it in these upcoming primaries.
The story behind Fenn's tall tale is that during the 1992 presidential race, Bush stopped at the National Grocers' Convention where he was shown a latest-generation optical grocery scanner that could reconstruct torn labels.
According to reporters who were there, Bush knew what a scanner was and reacted mostly with politeness and even boredom, but a New York times reporter twisted and rewrote a pool article and crafted this fake story which has been parroted by Democrats and the media ever since.
Beck likely didn't know the tale was a myth, but a professional like Fenn who has over 25 years as a media consultant and even advised Gore's presidential run in 2000 should have known better.
Surely, someone as media-savvy as Fenn would recall the truth. Perhaps he did remember and chose to repeat a lie anyway. Who knows?
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Contact Lynn Davidson at tvisgoodforyou2 AT yahoo DOT com