Lauer Hits Bush: You Were Appalled at Racism Charge, Not the 'Misery in Louisiana'?

Football fans watching NBC on Sunday night were presented a brief commercial at halftime for Monday night's NBC interview with former president George W. Bush. Liberals might have been disgusted, since Matt Lauer's only question was to ask Bush to explain how military families supported his war policies. But on Thursday, Lisa de Moraes of The Washington Post picked up on an earlier NBC promotion, that showed how Lauer pushed Bush around about charges of racism surrounding Hurricane Katrina, and even suggested that Bush taking offense at rapper Kanye West's racism charges (on NBC's airwaves) as the “worst moment” of his presidency was heartless, since the actual suffering of the Gulf Coast residents should have won that title.

Can anyone imagine an NBC anchor asking Barack Obama if he was heartless because he cared about his own reputation more than the people he's caused to suffer? First, NBC liberals don't think anyone is suffering because of Obama, and second, that would be rude to a fellow liberal. Here's how it will unfold tonight in prime time:

"You say you told Laura at the time it was the worst moment of your presidency?" Lauer asked Bush in a taped interview, citing a passage in Bush's new book, "Decision Points," which officially goes on sale Tuesday.

"Yes. My record was strong, I felt, when it came to race relations and giving people a chance. And -- it was a disgusting moment," Bush responded to Lauer in the interview, which NBC is holding to air in prime time Monday.

A clearly agitated West made the comment about Bush on national TV on Sept. 2, 2005, during a telethon to raise money for victims of Hurricane Katrina, which had devastated parts of the Gulf Coast.

"Were you watching?" Lauer asked Bush about the fundraiser.

"Nope," Bush responded, according to a transcript issued by NBC.

You remember what he said?" Lauer asked.

"Yes, I do. He called me a racist," Bush responded.

"Well, what he said: 'George Bush doesn't care about black people,' " Lauer corrected Bush.

"That's: 'He's a racist,' " Bush responded, adding: "And I didn't appreciate it then. I don't appreciate it now."

Can the Post say Lauer “corrected” Bush? After all, West had just asserted that the government had given orders to shoot black people (below). It continued:

Lauer began to wonder whether some people, reading the passage in Bush's new book in which he writes that West's comment was the "worst moment" of his presidency, "might give you some heat for that. And the reason is this --"

"Don't care," Bush snapped.

"Well, here's the reason," Lauer persevered. "You're not saying that the worst moment in your presidency was watching the misery in Louisiana. You're saying it was when someone insulted you because of that."

"No -- that -- and I also make it clear that the misery in Louisiana affected me deeply, as well," Bush said. "There's a lot of tough moments in the book. And it was a disgusting moment, pure and simple."

Notice how typically, NBC left out the "misery in Mississippi," since that part of the affected disaster area doesn't resonate as clearly as racist. What this snippet of Lauer's seems to overlook is that President Bush worked hard throughout his presidency to reach out to black Americans, which is precisely why networks like NBC went out searching for radical-left black academics like Michael Eric Dyson to suggest Bush was an uncaring rich white guy.

Can Lisa de Moraes really insist West wasn't on a binge against an imaginary white racist government led by Bush? She'd just reproduced this part of West's splenetic rant:

"I hate the way they portray us in the media. You see a black family, it says, 'They're looting.' You see a white family, it says, 'They're looking for food.' And, you know, it's been five days [waiting for federal help] because most of the people are black....We already realize a lot of people that could help are at war right now, fighting another way -- and they've given them permission to go down and shoot us!"

The fact that NBC put on the man even Barack Obama has called a "jackass" has never been something Lauer feels a need to apologize for, and Bush should have pressed Lauer right back on why Lauer doesn't seem to feel that was a low moment for NBC. At the time, Lauer blew it off as just something that happens on live television.

Tim Graham
Tim Graham
Tim Graham is Executive Editor of NewsBusters and is the Media Research Center’s Director of Media Analysis