Rather basks in glow of presidential access

March 26, 1993|By Knight-Ridder News Service

How sweet it was. Having been shut out by George Bush for four years, CBS's Dan Rather was glowing yesterday about his White House chat with President Clinton. The interview -- Mr. Clinton's first prime-timer since the inauguration -- ran as a special "48 Hours" Wednesday.

"It felt terrific," said Mr. Rather, whose previous one-on-one with a sitting president was with Ronald Reagan in 1981. "This sounds corny, but I never walk through the White House gates without feeling a sense of honor and responsibility. I feel it."

After their celebrated on-air confrontation about Iran-contra early the '88 campaign, Mr. Bush denied Mr. Rather one-on-one access during his presidency. The snub was "frustrating and puzzling" to Mr. Rather.

"I have known George Bush for a long while. I thought I knew him well, at least well enough to believe he was not the kind of person who carried a grudge. I had told myself after he won the election that we could start with a clean slate. I never understood the animosity."

Adding salt to the wound, Mr. Bush made himself available to ABC's Peter Jennings, NBC's Tom Brokaw and CNN's Bernard Shaw. And when he did, someone from the president's staff usually made sure Mr. Rather knew about it, he said.

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