Flashback Video: Uncomfortable Journalists Being Asked If They Committed Adultery

 

In case you haven't heard, the Media Research Center is moving. Starting June 10, the MRC (which publishes NewsBusters) will be located in Reston, Virginia. As we prepare for the move, we've discovered old, unseen gems. During the 1992 presidential campaign, George H.W. Bush was asked whether he had ever been unfaithful to Mrs. Bush. Tom Sherwood, a local journalist for NBC's Washington affiliate, cornered Dan Rather, Charles Kuralt and Tim Russert at the Republican National Convention in Houston. He turned the tables on his fellow reporters, quizzing them about possible affairs.

An awkward Rather first shot back, "You been asking this to Tom Brokaw, have you?" After Sherwood demanded, "Have you ever committed adultery," Rather retorted, "Have you?" Following another pause, the then-CBS Evening News anchor clumsily concluded, "Mmm. Well, thank you very much. Pleased to see you." [See video below. MP3 audio here.]

Sherwood also ran into Kuralt, who, unbeknownst to the public at the time, was carrying out a 30-year-affair and had a secret family. On the topic of adultery, the CBS journalist responded, "I take the Barbara Bush position on this thing...I don't think it's relevant."

In contrast, the late Tim Russert offered a friendly, natural response. Laughing and smiling at the question, he explained:

TIM RUSSERT: I have no problems. I was born as an Irish Catholic kid who got married late in life. So– and happily married to Maureen Orth, a great writer for Vanity Fair-- and my son Luke. Hello, Luke! Six years old.

A partial transcript is below:


NBC 4

8/19/1992

TOM SHERWOOD: When President Bush was asked whether he had ever committed adultery, there was a big uproar. It turns out, the news media doesn't like the question very much either.

...

CHARLES KURALT: I take the Barbara Bush position on this thing. I don't think it's– I don't think it's relevant.

...

SHERWOOD: Would you care to answer that question?

TIM RUSSERT: I have no problems. I was born as an Irish Catholic kid who got married late in life. So– and happily married to Maureen Orth, a great writer for Vanity Fair and my son Luke. Hello, Luke! Six years old.

DAN RATHER: Well, what's the question? I don't–

SHERWOOD: Have you ever committed adultery? That's what the delegates want to ask the media.

RATHER: You been asking this to Tom Brokaw, have you?

SHERWOOD: Everybody.

RATHER: [Pause] Have you?

SHERWOOD: The delegates are mad. I'm going to answer the question at the end of my story.

RATHER: [Pause]: Mmm. Well, thank you very much. Pleased to see you.

Scott Whitlock
Scott Whitlock
Scott Whitlock is the senior news analyst for the Media Research Center and a contributing editor for NewsBusters.org