The vice president and some members of his family and staff are outraged by the current issue of Newsweek, which appeared on the newstands Monday, the day Bush declared as a candidate for the 1988 GOP presidential nomination. The cover, with a picture of a determined-looking vice president steering a boat, is headlined, "Fighting the 'Wimp Factor.' " Bush told the Detroit Free Press in an interview published yesterday that "it was a cheap shot. I kind of liked that cover picture, but I'd like to take the guy who wrote that headline out on that boat."
But George Bush Jr., a senior adviser to his father's campaign, went further. Newsweek's Washington bureau chief, Evan Thomas, said White House reporter Thomas M. DeFrank was called yesterday morning by George Jr. to say that the campaign had ceased communicating with Newsweek and its reporters.
"He said we've been cut off. We're out of business," Thomas said, adding that they were told that the decision was made by the candidate himself.
Sources in the Bush campaign said that the message George Jr. was supposed to be delivering was that Newsweek would get no "special considerations," particularly in their project to put out a book on the 1988 campaign. Some suggest the vice president's son went somewhat beyond the authorized message.
Little of the message seems to have gotten through. Several Newsweek reporters said Bush officials had returned their calls as usual yesterday, and Bush spokesman Peter Teeley said, "We're not cutting them or anybody else off from their efforts to cover the campaign."