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Nixon didn’t ban Dan Rather from the White House

Nixon didn't ban Dan Rather from the White House

by digby

There has always been a contentious relationship between some members of the press and the White House. It's supposed to be that way. There's always an aggressive Jim Acosta from one of the news networks. But until now no president has banned them from the White House or insulted them crudely and personally.

Take Dan Rather and Nixon:

April 08, 1974

Dan Rather stands waiting to be recognized, calm amid the cries of “Mr. President,” and cool in the press conference glare. President Nixon half smiles and seems to tense as he points to Rather. It is the beginning of another confrontation in what has become a running, real-life drama in prime time television.

The most recent encounter came during the President’s press conference in Houston. When CBS White House correspondent Rather introduced himself, the nonworking press in attendance applauded and Mr. Nixon asked, not good-naturedly, “Are you running for something?” Rather, usually unflappable, was a mite rattled this time and shot back rudely, “No sir, Mr. President, are you?” Then he asked a tough Watergate question.

The brief dialogue dripped bitterness, like an exchange of kidney punches between two boxers who, having fought often and inconclusively, have come to dislike each other personally. And there were practically audible gasps at the breach of press conference decorum. To Rather, a 42-year-old tall, dark, handsome and persistent Texan, his role is to be neither “an attack dog or a lap dog. I want to be a watchdog. If I see something wrong, I start barking and barking and barking. Sometimes I’m wrong; sometimes I’m not.”

He has been barking at presidents since 1964, when he won the White House beat by his reporting of the Kennedy assassination from Dallas when he was CBS Southern correspondent. Lyndon Johnson called him “Dan,” but treated him as something of an apostate. How could Rather, a fellow Texan, be pressing all those prickly questions?

As for the present incumbent, Rather insists, “I feel no hostility toward Mr. Nixon. He was pleasant when I dealt with him in ’66 and ’67. But I knew from the day he became President that we weren’t going to get along. He’s a distant person. It’s his nature that he needs to be by himself, and in his job that can’t be.”

President Nixon and his staff have made no secret of their dislike of Rather for what they consider to be his unnecessarily critical treatment of the President. In 1971 presidential aide John Ehrlichman made a special visit to CBS News president Richard Salant to complain about Rather and suggest that CBS might transfer Dan to, say, El Paso...

But Rather, for public consumption at least, says he is happy making presidents sweat. Mustering all of his drawling charm, Rather smiles pleasantly and explains, “I’m not trying to win a popularity contest.”


Trump justcn't ake the heat because he's a thin-skinned bully who doesn't know how to deal with anything but a tabloid media who treats him like a celebrity.

Seriously, he consistently makes that creep Nixon look good by comparison.