During a live interview in 1988, then-Vice President George H.W. Bush was seeking the support of the American people to lead the nation. As would be his calling-card, CBS News anchor Dan Rather went on the attack.
The network began the interview with Bush by launching into what might be considered a ‘fake news’ segment prior to Rather’s line of questioning.
They produced a 6-minute segment that pushed the idea that Bush had been far more involved in the Iran-Contra scandal than he was admitting to the American people. The combative tone had been set.
While H.W. Bush has been heralded since his passing as a gentle, God-fearing man whom everybody admired, he wasn’t afraid to mix it up a bit with critics who tried to portray him in a negative light.
The interview would spark the interest of an entire nation, with Bush, at one point, thoroughly humiliating Rather on live television.
Bush immediately called out CBS’ fake news
After running a lengthy bit on how Bush must have been more involved in the Iran-Contra Affair than he admitted – despite the fact that House and Senate investigations (controlled by the Democrats) had concluded otherwise – the future President wasn’t exactly thrilled to then be grilled by Rather on the matter.
“Let’s set it (the record) straight,” Bush seethed. “You implied from that little thing – I have a little monitor sitting on the side here – that I didn’t tell the truth.”
“This has all been looked into,” he said. “This is a rehash.”
Rather then insisted that his network hadn’t produced a biased segment. But Bush would have none of it.
After claiming the network could have played a clip that shows one of the witnesses testifying under oath that Bush didn’t know about the Contras, the Vice President said: “I’m asking for fair play and I thought I was here to talk about my views on education or on getting this deficit down.”
That’s when things hit the fan
Throughout the first several minutes, Rather kept trying to hammer Bush on Iran-Contra, but Bush kept hammering back. The running theme in the Republican candidate’s mind was that it was unfair to judge him on a slanted version of one event in his career.
At about the six-and-a-half minute mark in this clip, Bush introduces him to a first-hand example of why what Rather was doing was wrong.
“It’s not fair to judge my whole career by a re-hash on Iran,” Bush said. “How would you like it if I judge your career by those seven minutes when you walked off the set in New York? Would you like that?”
Bush had flustered Rather. Even the New York Times in 1988 described it thusly:
At one point, Mr. Bush seemed to stun Mr. Rather by referring to the anchor’s much-noted walkout from the set of the ”Evening News” last September, which caused CBS to transmit a blank signal for nearly seven minutes.
Rather, it seemed, was upset that a tennis match was running long and cutting into his program’s time, so he went walking around the studio demanding answers. Over 100 affiliates were forced to run the dead air.
Rather now lectures on civility, using Bush’s death
In a stunning display of chutzpah, Rather used the occasion of Bush’s death to lecture the current President on civility.
“Watching today’s eulogies I thought about our national reckoning,” Rather announced on social media. “We can’t rely on the consciences of those who have shown none or humility from those who refuse introspection. Forces of change must swell in the population at large to shake our republic into a more just future.
DAN RATHER uses Bush death to lecture Trump on ‘humility’ and ‘introspection.’ What a disgrace. He completely lacks humility and introspection. If the Bushes won’t talk to you, you must be a Grade A bully. https://t.co/fpbRFM6g03 pic.twitter.com/POA7jwUXOn
— Brent Bozell (@BrentBozell) December 7, 2018
We’re glad Bush was able to point out Rather’s hypocrisy 30 years ago. It makes it so much easier to understand when we see it on full display now.