Let me clarify my position a little.
G.W. Bush has lied to the public, to the press, and to domestic and foreign government agencies. It is uncontroversial to note that he tells the truth only when he finds it convenient.
Therefore, when he makes a public statement we are not in a position to know whether any part of it is true. And so it effectively has no meaning of which we can be reasonably certain.
Therefore, it is not news. There is nothing to report. Nothing has been said. All we know with confidence is that the President stood in a room and spoke. That’s not news. He called it an announcement, but that doesn’t make it one.
Therefore, the press should not report presidential pronouncements as if they are guaranteed to be interesting. They are guaranteed to be false. I mean, look. This president takes it to be part of his job to have us understand less once he has spoken than we did earlier. That is the purpose of most of his “announcements.” Does anyone still imagine that such speeches are intended to inform? Of course not. They misinform, mislead, confuse, and intimidate, and that is why they are given.
I say again. The press should not repeat any presidential statement without first reminding readers that few if any previous claims by this man have turned out to be correct. Of course the Bush’s words will be recorded, if only for completeness, for archival purposes, because he is after all nominally the country’s chief executive. Reporters can’t say, “The president stood in a room and said something, but we knew it wouldn’t be true so we didn’t write it down.” But they can say, “The president stood in a room and said some things that, if the past is any guide, were shameless, vicious, calculating, poisonous lies. But if you’re curious, here’s a transcript.”
Well, they can’t say that either. But you get the idea.
Of course the problem here is that once something is said it sounds like it means something, and it takes more effort to disbelieve things than it does to believe them. As Daniel Gilbert puts it, you can’t not believe everything you read. So it would be best were Bush never quoted – if the reporters and editors and anchors said, “We’re sorry, Mr. President, but you’re a world-class liar so we’ve stopped listening to what you say. We’ll keep watching what you do, though.”
I don’t expect them to go all the way there, but they should at least be moving in that direction.