Wednesday, March 09, 2005

On Dan Rather's Retort

I was watching the Dan Rather Special tonight and they played that scene at a press conference where Nixon and Rather went at it.
In March 1974, Rather reported on President Nixon's trip to Houston, Texas, Rather's hometown. "By this time," says Rather, "President Nixon was beginning to get cornered by the facts."

President Nixon held what was billed as a news conference, but Rather recalls, "It was designed to be not a news conference. It was designed to be a political rally in support of the president."

In that atmosphere, when the president called on Rather, "there were some cheers, but there were a lot of boos."

Rather: Thank you, Mr. President. Dan Rather, CBS News. Mr. President ...

Nixon: Are you running from something?

At that point, Rather says, "I was thinking at the time, you know, don't let him throw you off. ... And that's when I said what I did."

Rather: No sir, Mr. President. Are you?

"What I meant was, let me get on with my question. That's what I'm here to do. And I think it's fair to say, there was some hell to pay after that," recalls Rather, of his exchange with President Nixon. "My only regret about it, that whole thing, is that everybody remembers that exchange where I wish they'd remember the question I asked."
He got applause, but I think it would have been even better if he said: "No, but are you running from something?" You know, Watergate accusations and all of that. But, maybe that was the idea he was getting across, given that it was the idea that came across my mind.


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