Hard as it is to believe now, it was quite scandalous back in the ’70s when White House correspondent Dan Rather and President Richard Nixon butted heads over a question at a news conference.
Rather was a thorn in the side of Nixon but he knew how to get presidents to answer questions.
He unloaded on Nixon at a National Association of Broadcasters convention in Houston.
Rather: Mr. President, I wonder if you could share with us your thoughts, tell us what goes through you mind when you hear people, people who love this country and people who believe in you, say reluctantly that perhaps you should resign or be impeached?
Nixon: “Well, I am glad we don’t take the vote of this room, let me say.”
At the time his retort and question were considered an insult to a sitting president.
We’ve changed a lot since then and it’s been a long time since a controversy surrounded a question to a president.
Major Garrett, the current holder of Rather’s old gig, stirred the pot yesterday when he framed his question by basing it on the assumption that President Obama was “content” with leaving imprisoned Americans in
Garrett could easily have changed the wording of the question to “are you content…” rather than “why are you content…”
Today, he told Charlie Rose he doesn’t regret the question.
“I asked the question I asked, and I can’t take it back. What I wanted to drive at, aggressively, was why in a context where the president conceded many times in that press conference that choices had to be made, and priorities had to be established, these four Americans were not prioritized in the context of the Iran deal. I believe that’s an important question on behalf of these four families.”
It is, indeed. Which is why he should’ve asked that question.