George W. Bush was slow to react to news of the 9/11 attacks (or, as Reuters describes it, had a "blank face") because he "wanted to project a sense of calm," he tells National Geographic in a new interview. Bush says his first reaction upon hearing the news in that Florida classroom was "anger. Who the hell would do that to America?" Critics have long mocked Bush’s delayed reaction, which was filmed by news cameras, but Bush says his focus was "on the children, and the contrast between the attack and the innocence of children."
“I made the decision not to jump up immediately and leave the classroom. I didn't want to rattle the kids. I wanted to project a sense of calm,” he says in the hour-long interview, which will air Aug. 28 on the National Geographic Channel. "I had been in enough crises to know that the first thing a leader has to do is to project calm." Watching the reporters receive word of the attacks on their phones "was like watching a silent movie," says the former president.