Book-smart image management.

The story about Bush's vacation reading list—which is so goshdarn newsworthy, it's being reported by most major papers—really irks me. One version begins:
George Bush has never had a reputation as a bookworm, but for a man derided by his critics as an intellectual lightweight the president's holiday reading list packs a punch.
The president will allegedly be reading Salt: A World History by Mark Kurlansky, Alexander II: the Last Great Tsar by Edvard Radzinsky and The Great Influenza: The Epic Story of the Deadliest Plague in History by John M Barry.

But before we get all impressed, let's step outside the mainstream media's echo chamber for a second and consider: why is it that the media knows about this list? By glancing at W's bedside table, or through an orchestrated media campaign by the White House? Anyone think this is really the reading list the president would choose? Maybe so. Or maybe Bush's handlers knew that any story, especially one that makes him look more intelligent than his handling of the war or Cindy Sheehan down the road would suggest, would be picked up by a media in the news-parched days of summer.

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