Bush Was Not 'Amazed'

Did The New York Times hype George Bush's encounter with the wonders of the modern supermarket? A headline on a front-page story by White House correspondent Andrew Rosenthal described Bush as "amazed" by the electronic checkout scanner at a grocers' exhibit in Orlando, Fla. Other papers reported the scene but played it down in their stories. No matter. The Times account became fodder for Democratic candidates, cartoonists and commentators.

The White House press secretary, Marlin Fitzwater, denounced the scanner story as "media-manufactured." Bush was simply impressed by a new type of scanner, he said. Other reporters said privately they thought Rosenthal's story was a cheap shot.

In fact, Rosenthal wasn't in the press pool that saw Bush try the scanner. He wrote his story from a TV tape of the event and the pool report of a reporter who watched Bush at a distance. After reviewing the tape, the Times last week ran a story backing Rosenthal's account. NEWSWEEK'S view of the tape: Bush acts curious and polite, but hardly amazed.