Morning Report 2/23/05Wead to Bush Beat: Yeah, The Tapes Made Bush Look Good


Bush family loyalist now vows to give book profits to charity—and the tapes to Bush

Ultimate networker Doug Wead (left) in the early ’80s with wacko ex-Interior secretary James Watt and Ronald Reagan, in a photo on his Web site


Preacher, peddler, and Beltway meddler Doug Wead, who selectively released furtively recorded conversations with George W. Bush, told me this morning that he has changed his mind and will turn over book profits to charity and the tapes to Bush.

Yesterday, in “The Zelig of the Religious Right,” I wrote this about Wead’s very selective release of only a small fraction of his tapes to the New York Times:

This latest “revelation” that George W. Bush is a flawed man of faith and prayer who is thoughtful is just more propaganda.

I said that Wead would never hurt Bush, that Wead “played” the Times. I can say this about Wead because I’ve written more about him than any other reporter on the planet. (See my 1992 stories about Wead’s run for Congress in Arizona, two of which I posted Monday: “The Tangled Roots of Doug Wead” and “Doug Wead and the Bushes, Part II.”)

Yesterday, I sent my “Zelig” story to Wead. This morning, he wrote me back:


If you think I plotted all of this, well, then the right has no monopoly on weird conspiracy theorists.

Actually, I agree that the released tapes made him look good, that unlike other tape stories this was not about catching someone doing something wrong but catching someone doing something right. I guess the word “tapes” generated the excitement. Perhaps this story illustrates what a disconnect there really is between red and blue states.

Anyway, this is what I am doing now, not sure what else I can do.

Wead followed this with a “personal note” to everyone on his marketing list:

My thanks to those who have let me share my heart and regrets about recent events. Contrary to a statement that I made to the New York Times, I have come to realize that personal relationships are more important than history. I am asking my attorney to direct any future proceeds from the book to charity and to find the best way to vet these tapes and get them back to the president to whom they belong.

Doug Wead

Not sure what more I can do.

I told you yesterday that he had no intention of hurting Bush. The thing is that Doug Wead is a brilliant networker.

But the part of his reply to me about red states and blue states is hogwash, in my view. I don’t believe in that dichotomy. I don’t fall for that us vs. them “culture war” b.s. that the religious right promotes, and that the left and the mainstream media get suckered into. It’s a false dichotomy, but unfortunately it’s turned into a self-fulfilling prophecy at the polls. If there is a dichotomy, it’s between the vast majority of the country and the few million religious conservatives whose savvy leaders have inordinate control of the presidential apparatus, the Congress, and TV talk-show babble and who lord it over us.

Let’s stick to the tapes. If the tapes really caught George W. Bush “doing something right,” that’s fine. But what else is on the tapes, Doug? We’d love to hear the 90 percent that you haven’t released. As I said before, the Times got played on this. But the Times often gets played these days. Look at Timeswoman Judith Miller‘s hype on WMD. (See Slate‘s Jack Shafer on that score, and go to this Bush Beat item from last March.)

Back in 1990, Wead got an honorary degree from Oral Roberts University, and his advice to the Bible Belt school’s grads, as I noted back in 1992, was this:

“God didn’t put you here to watch television! He put you here to be

    • on


Well, Wead has made it on to television in the past few days, and it has turned on him. Maybe what Wead is referring to in his note to me when he says he didn’t plan all this was that he didn’t expect to catch shit from the White House.

David D. Kirkpatrick of the Times quoted a White House flack as saying, “The governor was having casual conversations with someone he believed was his friend.”

Gulp. That must have hurt Doug Wead—the past-tense bit about “someone he believed was his friend.” But what did Wead expect the White House to say? He did make Bush look good, at least that was his intent, but maybe, where the Bush regime was concerned, Wead went too far in pursuit of his own marketing goals. Shortly before the story about the tapes appeared in Sunday’s Times, Wead launched an e-mail marketing blitz on behalf of his new book, which focuses on the parents of presidents.

Am I and thousands of other Americans “conspiracy theorists” because we point out the connections between big business and the lucrative invasion of Iraq? Or the tax cuts for the rich? Or the planned looting of Social Security for the profit of Wall Street firms? Conspiracy talk is whipped into a Crusades-like frenzy by right-wing talk shows on TV and radio, and sometimes the mainstream media buy into it.

But it doesn’t take a conspiracy theorist to see a connection between Wead’s selective release of only parts of the Bush tapes and the marketing of Wead’s own bad self.

And it doesn’t take a conspiracy theorist to note that Doug Wead—former aide to George Sr. and former mentor to George W.—is still in the service of the Bush family—whether they like it or not.

One thing the Bush regime will like is that Wead is now saying he’ll turn the tapes over to the president. I sure as hell wish that Wead would just send them to me.

I wrote him back this morning, saying essentially that:

Hey, Doug:

Thanks for replying. But doesn’t the release of the tapes happily coincide with your publicity campaign for your new book? Good marketing on your part.

And as for the tapes, didn’t you select the ones that you let the

    • Times

reporter listen to? I mean, I’d love to listen to the tapes, but I wouldn’t want someone to pre-edit them for me.

I know you like the Bushes and are loyal to them. Nothing wrong with that, certainly. But it’s not a conspiracy theory to think that you put out a version of George W. that’s in keeping with your loyalty to him and that you yourself selected.

I guess I’d be very curious about what else was on the tapes. Any chance I can listen to any of them?

If Wead doesn’t give the tapes to me, he could at least turn them over to some respectable scholars.

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