Ah, the power of the blogosphere. We were the first to report on President Bush teasing reporter Peter Wallsten for wearing “shades” at a Rose Garden press conference — sunglasses that Wallsten wears because he’s legally blind. Wallsten suffers from Stargardt’s disease, which causes vision loss.
And now, news of a presidential apology:
Wallsten said Bush called his cell phone later in the day to apologize and tell him that he didn’t know he had [Stargardt's] disease. Wallsten said he interrupted and told the president that no apology was necessary and that he didn’t feel offended since he hadn’t told anyone at the White House about his condition.
More details, after the jump.
Additional info from the AP story:
“[Bush] said, `I needle you guys out of affection,’” Wallsten said. “I said, ‘I understand that, but I don’t want you to treat me any differently because of this.’”
Wallsten said the president said he would not treat him differently, so Wallsten encouraged him to “needle away.”
“He said, `I will. Next time I’ll just use a different needle,’” Wallsten said.
Wallsten said he thought that was a pretty good line. And his only complaint is that the president didn’t answer his question at the news conference.
Both President Bush and Peter Wallsten are to be commended for their graciousness. And if the president cuts back on his “clowning with the press” as a result of this incident, then some good has come of it.
Bush Apologizes to L.A. Times Reporter [AP]
Bush’s Banter Goes Too Far: Taunting a Blind Man [HuffPo]