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This section lists some of the accolades Dan Rather gave former president Clinton over the years, as well as some statements rebutting miscellaneous accusations against Clinton. For sections devoted exclusively to Rather's defense of the former president on his bigger scandals,
go to Impeachment and Personal
Life. See also Kenneth Starr.
New president Bill Clinton congratulated Dan Rather on his on-air partnership with Connie Chung:
"Thank you, Mr. President. Thank you. Thank you. Mr. President. If we could be one-one-hundredth as great as you and Hillary Rodham Clinton have been together in the White House, we'd take it right now and walk away winners."
--Dan Rather at a meeting for CBS affiliates, May 27, 1993. Quoted in Columbia Journalism Review Sept./Oct. 1993.
"What a comeback for President Clinton! Right after the Monica
Lewinsky story broke there was widespread talk of possible resignation or impeachment,
but look at this: A CBS News poll out tonight indicates the President with his
highest job approval rate ever, 73 percent, that's up 16 points since the State
of the Union address."
--Dan Rather on the CBS Evening News, January 29, 1998.
Talk show host Don Imus asked Dan Rather what he thought of the Juanita
Broaddrick incident, where Bill Clinton allegedly raped a woman, and tried to,
years later, make her keep quiet:
"[E]ven if it...turns out to be true, it happened a long time ago and...they've gotta be figuring maybe, just maybe the American public has heard all they want to hear about this and are saying, you know, 'Next; let's move on to the next thing.'"
--Dan Rather on Imus in the Morning, February 23, 1999.
"You've got to be bitter about some of it."
--Dan Rather to Clinton on 60 Minutes II, March 31, 1999, asking if he was angry at congressional Republicans as a result of impeachment.
"For better or for worse, we Americans are a forward looking people. Americans
always have their eye on the far horizon. Clinton and what happened to him in
his personal life and elsewhere is near history. People are not voting on that
basis. A lot of reporters, including this one, made the mistake of saying, 'Oh
well, Clinton fatigue is going to be a very big factor in the race.' Hasn't
proved to be the case so far and I'll be amazed if it's much of a factor in
the race this fall. A lot of people want it to be and therefore they will be
talking it up but people are concerned about their future. They want to know
what will happen with them, that is to say their pocketbook, and what's going
to happen to their kids, their grand-kids and that's the basis on which they
make their vote."
--Dan Rather on Imus in the Morning, February 1, 2000.
"Let's go to Phil Jones, who's been covering many of these stories about campaign financing and the, quote, 'scandals' surrounding them. Phil, did you hear anything in the news conference you thought particularly newsworthy?"
--Dan Rather during a CBS Special Report, May 7, 1997, after a press conference by President Clinton.
C-SPAN Booknotes host Brian Lamb asked 60 Minutes executive producer Don Hewitt about interviewing Bill Clinton on his program:
BRIAN LAMB: If he called you today and said "I'd like to do 60 Minutes," how much time would you give him?
DON HEWITT: 60 minutes.
HEWITT: Because I think that whatever he has to say--I tried. And we got nowhere. He's going to do something with somebody. I'm guessing he'll do it with Dan Rather. He--he likes Dan. And Dan likes him, I think.
--Don Hewitt on Booknotes, April 1, 2001.
After discussing Dan Rather's plans for the future, Larry King and Rather discussed what Bill Clinton might do after leaving the presidency:
"You talked about what President Clinton is going to do. How do you feel about a talk show that had President Clinton and myself on a national talk show, maybe 9:00 Eastern Time? How would you feel about that?--I'm kidding."
--Dan Rather on Larry King Live, January 10, 2001.
"How concerned is the President about the potential of his being, sort of,
tied down as Gulliver was by the Lilliputians, by all this scandal investigation,
ethics investigations that are bound to be unleashed?"
--Dan Rather on Election Night coverage, November 5, 1996.
"Punishing the President. A court committee says Bill Clinton should lose
his law license for allegedly giving false testimony under oath....
"Good evening. A committee of the Arkansas Supreme Court today recommended that President Clinton's law license be taken away because he allegedly gave false testimony about his relationship with Monica Lewinsky. This disbarment has long been sought by Republicans and some other Clinton critics." "The President's lawyer made it clear tonight it will be challenged."
--Dan Rather on the CBS Evening News, May 22, 2000.
Note: Clinton was found in contempt of court by an Arkansas judge and did not appeal. He did not allegedly commit perjury.
"...an Arkansas disciplinary panel's recommendation that President Clinton
be disbarred. Does the panel's recommendation have its roots in partisan politics?"
--Dan Rather in an online preview of the night's Evening News, May 23, 2000.
"Senator, when you talk to other Senators, particularly older Senators - those
who've been around for a bit - is or is there not some concern of the public,
concern in some quarters, not all of them Democratic, that this
is in fact a kind of effort at a quote 'coup,'
that is you have a twice-elected, popularly elected President
of the United States and so those that you mentioned in the Republican Party
who dislike him and what he stands for, having been unable to beat him at the
polls, have found another way to get him out of office."
--Dan Rather to former Senator Warren Rudman during CBS coverage of the Senate impeachment trial swearing in, January 7, 1999.
BILL O'REILLY: And I want to ask you flat out. Do you think President Clinton's an honest man?
DAN RATHER: Yes, I think he's an honest man.
O'REILLY: Do you really?
RATHER: I think -- I do. I think he's an honest man.
O'REILLY: Even when he lied to Jim Lehrer's face about the (unintelligible)?
RATHER: Listen, who among us have not lied about something?
O'REILLY: Well, I didn't lie to anybody's face on national television. I don't think you have. Have you?
RATHER: I don't think I ever have. I hope I never have. But look, it's one thing.
O'REILLY: How can you say he's an honest guy, then?
RATHER: Well, because I think he is. I think at core, he's an honest person. I know that you have a different view. I know that you consider it sort of astonishing anybody would say so. But I think you can be an honest person and lie about any number of things.
RATHER: Yes, I do.
O'REILLY: See, I can't. I can't -- I want my government to be honest across the board.
O'REILLY: I don't want people lying.
--Dan Rather on the O'Reilly Factor, May 15, 2001.
PAULA ZAHN: You got a lot of attention last week for on "The Factor" calling Bill Clinton an honest man. You said you know that you consider sort of astonishing anybody--oh, someone--I--Mr. O'Reilly said that he found it astonishing you would think that Mr. Clinton was an honest man. And you said you thought at his core, he's an honest person. "I know that you have a different view, and I know that you consider it sort of astonishing anybody would say so, but I think you can be an honest person and lie about any number of things." Well, Sam Donaldson reacted to that interview several days later--
DAN RATHER: I didn't see Donaldson's reaction.
ZAHN: Yeah, and he said, clearly, Bill Clinton was not honest and thinks that the record speaks for itself.
RATHER: Well, he's entitled to his view. And I do remember the conversation with Bill, that who among us can say that we have never lied? My point is, I don't approve of lying. I certainly didn't approve of Bill Clinton lying. I think it was very serious. Btu I'm not going to be hypocritical and say I've never lied in my life. If you or Bill or Sam can tell me that you've never lied in your life about anything, well, a tip of the Stetson to you.
I do think you can be an honest person. I think you can be a decent- you tell a lie believing that, "Well, maybe I'll be protecting somebody else by telling the lie."
But look, I have no argument with anyone who says "I have a different view." Bill Clinton's record stands for itself, but I would stand -- my own belief is, yes, you can be an honest person and still sometime in your life, maybe several sometimes in your life, have lied about something.
For example, in--you're the interviewer here, and understand it. Are you prepared to tell me--I would be very surprised if you were--that you have never lied about anything in your entire life? If you say yes to that, I would say, well, you're one of the rare people on earth who can say it. So it's in that context that I say--yeah. Yeah, I'm not one going to attack him.
My job as a reporter is to say, "All right, what did he do? Let's look at his record." Now, the record shows that he lied. He stood up in front -- lied in front of the country, lied on television. That -- I do not approve of that. I don't know very many Americans who do. But I do understand it.
--Dan Rather and Paula Zahn on The Edge With Paula Zahn, May 22, 2001.
"God bless you. Thank you very much and tell Mrs. Clinton we respect her and we're pulling for her."
--Dan Rather interviewing President Bill Clinton via satellite during CBS's annual affiliate meeting, May 27, 1993.
"For his part President Clinton's public reaction was to criticize the Republican
majority for running a do-nothing Congress [During the impeachment inquiry]. The President accused Republicans of ignoring the U.S. Federal budget and allied
problems and the global economy, health care and Social Security."
--Dan Rather on the CBS Evening News, October 5, 1998.
"Some of your staff members, not by name, have been saying, 'Yes, the President thinks Bob Dole is a nice person and has been a pretty good leader in some ways, but, they say, he's been captured by extremists in the Republican Party, the radical part of the Republican Party, including Newt Gingrich.' Is that what you think?"
--Dan Rather interviewing President Clinton on 60 Minutes, August 18, 1996.
"[Clinton] pointed out the Andrew Jackson magnolia tree. He's a very good historian. Harry, I think if you had been in the room, any viewer-listener who had been in that room, would have been impressed with the breadth of his knowledge. I mean he talked about the Oscars. He talked very knowingly about Clint Eastwood and his new movie Unforgiven, Jack Nicholson's role in A Few Good Men, and then switched very quickly to a knowledgeable analysis of Arkansas's chances against North Carolina in the big basketball game tomorrow night."
--Dan Rather to CBS This Morning's Harry Smith, after a March 25, 1993 Clinton interview.
"I should have known that this so-called scandal with the alleged potential to bring down a presidency was more he said, she said than headline, more hype than history, more gossip than news, at least on the basis of the facts known then, and known know."
--Dan Rather in a speech at Harvard University, receiving a Goldsmith journalism award, March 12, 1998.
"Some days I say 'Why is he [Clinton] doing that?' or 'Gosh, can he do it a little better?' But it may be time to, sort of as you
--Dan Rather on Fox's Arsenio Hall Show, January 28, 1993.
"Whether you like him or not like him this is one of the great, get up, political
fighters of all time. I know you box and you're very good at it, Geraldo, and
I once tried to. And among one's peers in the boxing world there's no great
accolade than to say, 'He's a get up fighter.' You knock him down and he gets
up. Maybe he has to take an 8 count but he gets up. And Bill Clinton for whatever
else he is or is not, once again proved what a great get up fighter he is. I
know a lot of people say well, it isn't justified that we allow him to do that.
But there's something inside Bill Clinton and time and again, that gets him
to get up and keep on moving forward."
--Dan Rather to Geraldo Rivera on CNBC's Rivera Live, July 8, 1999.
RATHER: "With all respect, but also directly, everybody acknowledges you have a brilliant mind, you're an excellent
speaker. But sometimes people, and people who support and like you say well he parses words too closely." "When you say
you have no intention to commit ground troops to accomplish the mission in Kosovo, does that mean we are not going to
have ground troops in there no way, no how, no time?"
BILL CLINTON: "It means just what it says. You know, I'll come back to the point, but you say people say I parse words too closely. That's what they said about President Roosevelt too and he made a pretty good President. And when people say you parse words too closely it usually means they want to ask you a question and get you to give an answer which is inconsistent with the objective you're trying to pursue for the American people and so you don't do what they want you to do. So normally they criticize not for what you're doing but for what they wish you would do."
RATHER: "Fair enough."
--Dan Rather and Bill Clinton during the President's first post-impeachment interview, 60 Minutes II, March 31, 1999.
Note: This quickly abandoned question was the only difficult one Rather chose to ask in the interview. The rest of the questions were about Clinton's "feelings" and being a husband of a senator.
"I'm told by those close to you that you have a lot of
pent-up feelings about what's happening in the Balkans, what we're
doing there. Can you share some of that with us?"
--Dan Rather to Bill Clinton on 60 Minutes II, March 31, 1999.
DAN RATHER: "Mr. President, you know Americans like to know that the First Family is okay, that they're doing all
right. Given the year plus what you and our First Family have been through, tell us what you can about how the three of
you are doing."
BILL CLINTON: We are "doing reasonably well" since "we do love each other very much,"
--Dan Rather and Bill Clinton on 60 Minutes II, March 31, 1999.
"With the economy humming, CBS's White House correspondent Scott Pelley reports,
President Clinton was singing his own praises, this time with the facts and
figures to back him up."
--Dan Rather on the CBS Evening News, March 6, 1998.
RATHER: "Arkansas Governor Bill Clinton made it official today. Environmental
expert and Vietnam veteran Senator Al Gore of Tennessee will be his
vice presidential running mate. This makes both halves of the
Democratic ticket forty-something and from the South. Jesse Jackson
for one is not sure he likes it. Richard Threlkeld reports on
Clinton's choice and the strategy. [. . .]"
THRELKELD: "Both Gore and Clinton are centrist--some would say conservative--Democrats, and white, and male. That bothers Jesse Jackson, who hasn't said whether he will endorse the ticket."
--Dan Rather and Richard Threkeld on the CBS Evening News, July 9, 1992.
"Bob Dole has reversed himself on deficit reduction versus tax cuts. Jack Kemp
has reversed himself on how he feels about immigration. Isn't that, or is it,
going to make it more difficult to attack Bill Clinton on the character issue?"
--Dan Rather on the CBS Evening News, August 1996.
"Rubin has been one of the major reasons the U.S. economy has done so well under President Clinton, after the down times
of the late Bush administration and some of the Reagan years."
--Dan Rather on the CBS Evening News, May 12, 1999.
"[I]t is not partisan to say that during the Clinton years the economy has been outstandingly good. That's a fact."
--Dan Rather, May 12, 1999.
Bill Clinton apologized for his sexual relationship with Monica Lewinsky at a prayer breakfast of religious leaders:
"The President of United States has given a solemn apology."
--Dan Rather on CBS's live coverage of the prayer breakfast, September 11, 1998.
"At an extraordinary White House prayer breakfast this morning the President went beyond his recent round of apologies.
He went to acknowledging sin and expressing remorse and repentance."
--Dan Rather on the CBS Evening News, later that day, September 11, 1998.
"The 15 percent tax cut is the heart of their [Bob Dole's campaign] strategy to win, but it is very closely welded to one of
their other major themes, and this is basically the way they put it, 'It's his character, stupid.'"
--Dan Rather to Bill Clinton on 60 Minutes, August 18, 1996.
"Bill Clinton's been running pretty hard to the right, so far that some Democrats now call him a 'Republicrat. Do you go that
--Dan Rather to Jesse Jackson during the 1996 Democratic National Convention.
"If Bill Clinton stays in office, if he finishes his term, it will not be because the press decided he should do so. And if he leaves office, through resignation or forced by impeachment or what have you, it won't be because the press got him. It will be because the facts came out and the people decided they wanted to do it."
--Dan Rather in a speech at Harvard University, receiving a Goldsmith journalism award, March 12, 1998.
"Clinton's big jobs bill is still being held prisoner in Congress tonight."
--Dan Rather on the CBS Evening News, April 21, 1993.
"President Clinton got an unusual public apology today from the journalist whose 1993 article in a Republican-connected
journal, helped set in motion, among other things, the Paula Jones case. Reporter David Brock says he no longer believes in
the credibility of the Arkansas state troopers who were sources for his story. He now says they were, and I quote, 'greedy'
and had, quote, 'slimy motives.'"
--Dan Rather on the CBS Evening News, March 9, 1998.
Note: Rather quotes the apology of Brock, but when Brock's story, the Paula Jones story, about an accusation similar to Anita Hill's, first came out, Rather did not report it.
Bill Clinton's video tape of his testimony before the Paula Jones grand jury was made pubic to the nation:
"Presidents have been in awkward spots before, but only recently could technology make witnesses of the entire nation, indeed, the entire world. And even when technology advanced in capability, it has usually retreated before any scenes so personal, so potentially embarrassing, and indeed, dangerous to the nation as this one."
--Dan Rather on the CBS Evening News, September 21, 1998.
Juanita Broaddrick, who accused former Clinton of raping her, was told about Dan Rather's comment on Fox News's O'Reilly Factor that "I don't remember all the details of Juanita Broaddrick, but I will say that - and you can castigate me if you like - when the charge has something to do with somebody's private sex life, I would prefer not to run any of it." Broaddrick responded:
"I really do not know what to make of the recent statements of Dan Rather. It really sickens me to think that Mr. Rather would think what happened to me should be relegated to the category of Bill Clinton's private sex life. I have to live with the fact that I did not come forward 23 years ago, but it becomes more difficult when someone such as Dan Rather makes such frivolous statements about the most horrific event of my life. I am wondering how he would feel if this happened to his daughter or wife. I am also wondering if his family has thought about having him tested for Alzheimers or some other chronic brain syndrome disease. He apparently has something very wrong with his reasoning."
--Juanita Broaddrick, quoted in NewsMax.com, May 20, 2001.
Fox News commentator Bill O'Reilly talks about his interview (see above) with Dan Rather:
"I left CBS to take an anchor/reporter job in Boston. Nineteen years after that, Dan Rather himself walked into the No Spin Zone.
"That surprised me. Rather was on the broadcast circuit promoting a book, but a few weeks earlier I had conducted a fairly intense Zone interview with the chief of 60 Minutes, Don Hewitt, who was also selling a book. During that conversation, I challenged Hewitt about the 'soft' coverage I believe CBS had given Bill and Hillary Clinton. 'Where was the investigative reporting?' I asked. Hewitt seemed to enjoy the joust, but there was no question that I felt CBS had gone into the tank with the Clintons.
"So here comes Dan Rather into the Zone. I had seen him a few times over the years and we were always polite to each other. But I was still amazed that he, as the managing editor and the face of CBS Evening News, would face what he had to know was going to be some unfriendly fire. I didn't waste any time getting to the point."
[Quotes from the interview]
"[W]hen my assistant buzzed me the day after the Rather interview and announced that Dan Rather was on the line, I was prepared for the worst. But Rather was complimentary and told me I did my job. The same job I tried to do for him all those years ago. [O'Reilly had quite CBS News because they wouldn't run his reports.]
"Life is like that: You never know what will come around. I have never disliked Dan Rather and have followed his career closely. That interview with him is one of my all-time favorites and I respect him for engaging the Zone. What we talked about really matters. The conversation vividly demonstrates the difference between us. I am a journalist who insists on honest government; I'm an absolutist (some say fanatic) in that way. Lie, cheat, steal in the public arena--I'm gonna let you have it and I don't care who you are.
"Dan Rather is more of a pragmatist. He indeed has seen it all and is willing to tolerate far more shenanigans than I am. He understands that a certain amount of corruption is built into the system and is willing to play by those rules. I am not. There is no room for any public dishonesty in the Zone and we will expose it with vigor. I'll leave it to you do decide which journalistic entitity is more relevant in the first part of this new century. The Zone is there and CBS Evening News is there. America is all about having choices. And one of the choices each of us has to make is whether or not to put our beliefs on the line and defend them in the toughest circumstance."
--Bill O'Reilly in his 2001 book, The No-Spin Zone: Confrontations With the Powerful and Famous in America.
"True or false, that part of the Republican agenda is now to try to paralyze the White House with so-called ethics inquiries?"
--Dan Rather to Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott, Election Night, 1996. print_file('footer'); ?>