BROOKE GLADSTONE: From WNYC in New York this is NPR's On the Media. I'm Brooke Gladstone.
BOB GARFIELD: And I'm Bob Garfield. George W. Bush is coming to Washington, and even though he's been in the media's glare for most of his life, he's never experienced the high voltage scrutiny he's under now.
BROOKE GLADSTONE:The President-elect is not a great fan of the press corps. He's had the occasional fight with reporters and more than the occasional harsh words. Most of those incidents date back before his years in the Texas Statehouse. But a hint of that old hostility emerged during the campaign. Bill Minutaglio joins us now. He's a reporter for the Dallas Morning News and the author of First Son: George W. Bush and the Bush Family Dynasty. Mr. Minutaglio -- hello!
BILL MINUTAGLIO: Hi! How are you?
BROOKE GLADSTONE: Good! I'm going to play that famous off mike moment of Mr. Bush during the campaign, commenting on a member of the press. GEORGE W. BUSH: Where did they ever find a major league asshole [....?....]. DICK CHENEY: Oh, yeah. Yeah -- big time.
BROOKE GLADSTONE: Was that fair? Was this just an unguarded aside in a tense moment or is this an accurate reflection of how he generally regards the media?
BILL MINUTAGLIO: Well it, it was all of that actually. It was an unguarded [LAUGHS] aside and a true, true reflection of-- of his feelings for some members of the media. I frankly think a lot of members of the national media were surprised when they had heard that. He had worked very, very hard and vigorously over the last year and a half as his campaign rolled forward to present himself as a, as a gregarious, likable-- frankly, compassionate conservative, to use his, his title for himself. There have been a few other moments here and there where the, the volcanic Mount Vesuvius type anger toward the media's cropped up. And most notably I, I think it really emerged during his father's presidency. George W. was known as a, kind of a loyalty-enforcer or kind of a, a media - a backroom media monitor if you will, a guy who, if he had determined that some member of the media had slighted his father, would approach that member of the media and essentially tell them hey, you're frozen.
BROOKE GLADSTONE: And as you say he blamed the media for his father's loss.
BILL MINUTAGLIO:Absolutely. He is very suspicious of the media. I, I can tell you [LAUGHS] it was real interesting when I was starting work on my book, he asked-- the name of my publisher. I told him it was Times Books, a division of Random House. He immediately began railing and I'm almost using his exact words here about the liberal Northeast media establishment, and for a second I literally thought he was kidding, but, but he was serious! He feels I think in his soul--, in his marrow that there is a liberal bias in the media that's probably concentrated somewhere in the Northeast and--and it's out to do his family and his own political interests a disservice.
BROOKE GLADSTONE: And yet George W. had a pretty cozy relationship with the Texas press corps. In fact Molly Ivins who you probably know--
BILL MINUTAGLIO: Sure.
BROOKE GLADSTONE:-- is a columnist for the Fort Worth Star Telegram once observed that the Texas media has, with a few notable exceptions, and this is her quote, "been in the tank for Bush to an embarrassing extent." [LAUGHTER] How did he manage that?
BILL MINUTAGLIO: He's extraordinarily charming, gregarious. He threw a lot of stardust at the Texas media, and Molly will, will be the first to admit this, as fierce a critic as she is of George W., she'll tell you that this is the kind of guy that one on one can be very disarming. I should tell you George W.'s -- one of his favorite expressions, and, and he mentioned this to me when I was with him, he pointed his index finger at me and said this: perception is everything in politics. He is wise enough to know that the media has a great hand in shaping your public image, your perception and probably your re-electability.
BROOKE GLADSTONE:Well, if perception is everything, then the President-elect is in really big trouble already! Because he's been saddled with an image in the popular mind [LAUGHTER] nurtured by the media that he's a big, goofy dope!
BILL MINUTAGLIO: Yeah, I'm afraid that that's set in, in stone and I, I maintained a long time ago that George W. is already suffering from a, you know, premature case of Dan Quayle-itis and, and I don't know how you ever escape from that. His buffers elected some time early on to, to hide him, to keep him under wraps -- I think partially out of fear for his perhaps inability at times to answer a question about a policy area, the fact that he might mangle the King's English here and there. I think beyond that though they did him a disservice by almost exacerbating that feeling and accentuating that possibility about him by keeping him hidden. I don't think that they can afford to do that any more.
BROOKE GLADSTONE: Bill Minutaglio, thank you very much.
BILL MINUTAGLIO: Thank you!
BROOKE GLADSTONE: Bill Minutaglio writes for the Dallas Morning News and is author of First Son: George W. Bush and the Bush Family Dynasty.