The Art of Headline Writing

Lots of people have criticized President Bush for failing to articulate his policy in Iraq persuasively to the American people. As I’ve written many times before, I think this criticism is misguided. In fact, Bush has given many eloquent speeches in which he has laid out his strategy for winning the war on Islamic terror, and the role of Iraq in that strategy, in great detail and to great effect. The problem is that very few Americans ever hear those speeches, and news reports systematically gut them of their persuasive impact.
Likewise with press conferences. Today, President Bush again did an excellent job in articulating and defending his goals and strategy in Iraq. But hardly anyone saw the press conference, or will read the transcript. Instead, people will see a headline like this one: Bush Unsatisfied with Iraq War Progress; or this one: Bush has decided to cut and run from ‘staying the course’; or this one: Bush acknowledges public discontent with war in Iraq.
No matter how great a job the President does in promoting his vision for a more peaceful and secure world, those negative sound-bites are all that most Americans will ever see or hear. For what it’s worth, the transcript of Bush’s press conference is here.