From a letter Martha Gellhorn wrote in 1967 after a selection of her war reporting was brought out as THE FACE OF WAR (one of my all time favorite books and looks at history as it happened) and she went on her first press tour:
“…The English jaunt was incredible: 8 cities in 5 days: Birmingham, Manchester, Leeds, Newcastle, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Belfast, Dublin. 8 Press Conferences, 4 telly interviews, 2 radio interviews; I never saw anything more ghastly. I fooled everyone by never mentioning my book but talking only about/against the Vietnam war…And I learned a lot because now I know, as fact, what I’ve always surmised: our rulers travel like this on a grander scale, everything arranged, straight from train or plane into waiting car to waiting reception to press conference to talk with one or more of their own kind. You never see the people in the street, you never are in the street; one place is like another; there is absolutely no contact ever with daily reality, with the strains and stresses of real life as lived by real people, and you are always the star, always telling, never listening, never learning. No wonder they rule us as if we were punched cards for a computer and they the computers. They don’t know anything else.”
And, as the perfect example of what Gellhorn is talking about, the people who live that way all the time, these quotes from transcripts reprinted in The New York Times, from Barbara Bush.
First, her comments to Diane Sawyer on ABC’s “Good Morning America” on March 18, 2003, the day before the invasion of Iraq, about her choice not to watch TV coverage of the war once it begins:
“Why should we hear about body bags and deaths, and how many, what day it’s going to happen, and how many this or what do you suppose? Or, I mean, it’s, it’s not relevant. So why should I waste my beautiful mind on something like that?”
And in 2005 while visiting the victims of Katrina at the Houston Astrodome:
“And so many people in the area here, you know, were underprivileged anyway, so this—this is working very well for them.”