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Media, Lawmakers React To President George H. W. Bush’s Death

Former President George H.W. Bush died Friday night at his home in Houston, Texas, less than eight months after the death of his wife, Barbara, whom he had been married to for 73 years.

As with the death of any prominent Republican, it becomes easy to see where media outlets fall on the ideological scale. The Associated Press, for example, tweeted out its obituary with a lengthy statement disparaging the former president, who served just one term.

“George H.W. Bush, a patrician New Englander whose presidency soared with the coalition victory over Iraq in Kuwait, but then plummeted in the throes of a weak economy that led voters to turn him out of office after a single term, has died. He was 94,” the tweet said.

It’s doubtful that the second part of that tweet would be included had Bush been a Democrat.

The Washington Post initially couldn’t be bothered to put out an up-to-date obituary, and accidentally posted whatever stock obit they had prepared for Bush. As Slate tech columnist Will Oremus noted on Twitter, the Post’s original article contained the sentence, “Mr. Bush died of SPECIFIC MEDICAL CAUSE OF DEATH, said/according to xxx.”

The New York Times included a reference to its own smear of Bush from 1992 with a photo and mention of the former president being “amazed” at a supermarket scanner.

“His critics saw him as out of touch with ordinary Americans, pointing to what they portrayed as his amazed reaction during a demonstration of a supermarket scanner when he visited a grocers’ convention while president. (He later insisted that he had not been surprised.)”

Bush’s “critics” were a New York Times reporter who made up the incident, which to this day is still believed by some Americans. Ann Compton, another White House reporter who was there that day, wrote in 2014 what actually happened:

One instance in which the media unfairly caricatured a president was at a grocers’ convention in Florida during the first President Bush’s re-election campaign. I was among the pool reporters watching the president, who was unfailingly gracious in public, praise what his hosts claimed was a dramatic new supermarket scanner. The New York Times, on its front page, ridiculed him, claiming it to be yet another example of how out-of-touch he was with average American voters. In fact, the invention was new; it could instantly read a bar code that had been ripped up into small pieces and scattered over the scanner. The newspaper declined to post a correction, and its account lives on.

Even the liberal “fact-checking” website Snopes rated the scanner claim as “false,” yet here it is, 26 years later, and The New York Times still pretends this actually happened.

The Atlantic also joined in Republican-bashing, taking to Facebook to backhandedly smear other Republicans, writing, “He was the last of his kind—the sort who could hold his office without embarrassment or apology, who wore his wartime heroism lightly, who took his duty seriously, but never himself.”

The title of the article is: “A Kindler [sic], Gentler Republican President Is Dead.”

He was the last of his kind—the sort who could hold his office without embarrassment or apology, who wore his wartime heroism lightly, who took his duty seriously, but never himself.

Posted by The Atlantic on Saturday, December 1, 2018

Thankfully, not all media outlets were so callous toward such an honorable man. USA Today’s tweet mentioned Barbara Bush’s death as well and included a quote from a love letter Bush wrote in 1994.

“I have climbed perhaps the highest mountain in the world, but even that cannot hold a candle to being Barbara’s husband,” he wrote.

Peter Baker, Chief White House Correspondent for The New York Times, shared a letter Bush sent to his predecessor, Ann Devroy, upon learning she had cancer.

“Bush 41 ranted about my predecessor on the White House beat, Ann Devroy. But when she came down with cancer, he wrote her: ‘I want you to win this battle. I want the same toughness that angered me and frustrated me to a fare-thee-well at times to see you through your fight,’” Baker wrote.

And many politicians from both sides of the aisle offered words of respect and sorrow following Bush’s passing.

President Donald Trump tweeted out a statement from him and his wife Melania.

“Through his essential authenticity, disarming wit, and unwavering commitment to faith, family, and country, President Bush inspired generations of his fellow Americans to public service – to be, in his words, ‘a thousand points of light’ illuminating the greatness, hope, and opportunity of America to the world,” it read, in part.

Trump followed up that tweet with one of his own.

“President George H.W. Bush led a long, successful and beautiful life. Whenever I was with him I saw his absolute joy for life and true pride in his family. His accomplishments were great from beginning to end. He was a truly wonderful man and will be missed by all!” Trump wrote.

Former President Barack Obama also offered condolences to the Bush family through his Twitter account.

“America has lost a patriot and humble servant in George Herbert Walker Bush. While our hearts are heavy today, they are also filled with gratitude. Our thoughts are with the entire Bush family tonight – and all who were inspired by George and Barbara’s example,” Obama wrote. He also provided a longer statement.

Former President Bill Clinton, who defeated Bush in his re-election bid, took to The Washington Post to share a letter his predecessor sent to him upon leaving office.

“There will be very tough times, made even more difficult by criticism you may not think is fair. I’m not a very good one to give advice; but just don’t let the critics discourage you or push you off course,” Bush wrote to Clinton, in part.

Clinton’s vice president, Al Gore, also offered a statement regarding Bush.

Bush’s son, former President George W. Bush, released a statement from himself and the rest of the Bush children regarding their father’s death.

Amy Klobuchar, a Democrat senator from Minnesota, offered kind words for the former president that should serve as a model for anyone reaching across the aisle to mourn a politician.

“George H.W. Bush was the last World War II veteran to serve as President. But also remember him as a statesman. He treated both friends and rivals with grace and dignity and viewed the world through the lens of history. America has lost a true leader,” Klobuchar wrote.

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