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Jan 07 2008

Mike and Edye are on this blog

Are you tired of the presidential campaign yet? Well, return with us now to those thrilling days of yesteryear — exactly 20 years ago, to January 1988.

Dick Caliguiri was mayor of Pittsburgh, and Mike Hambrick and Edye Tarbox were anchoring the WPXI-TV (11) news, along with Sam Nover on sports and Dennis Bowman, who was doing the “weather outside” on the roof of the station’s recently-closed “Television Hill” facility along Rising Main Avenue in Fineview.

And Dan Rather, then anchoring the “CBS Evening News,” had made conservatives hotter than an armadillo on a Texas highway in July.

Or something like that.

. . .

Two weeks before the 1988 New Hampshire primary, Rather interviewed Vice President George H.W. Bush, and began questioning his knowledge of the Reagan administration’s controversial decision to sell arms to the Nicaraguan “contras” to raise money to ransom hostages from Iran. (A portion of the interview is available at the Media Research Center website.)

Republicans later claimed Rather was “interrogating” Bush and demonstrating a liberal bias.

Under Rather’s relentless questioning, the usually mild-mannered vice president finally blew his cool.

“I want to talk about why I want to be President, why those 41 percent of the people are supporting me,” Bush said. “And I don’t think it’s fair to judge my whole career by a rehash on Iran. How would you like it if I judged your career by those seven minutes when you walked off the set in New York?”

. . .

Bush was referring to a notorious Sept. 11, 1987, incident when Rather — angry that CBS had delayed the start the evening news for a tennis match — walked away just before the broadcast began, leaving the network and more than 100 affiliates scrambling to fill six minutes of dead air.

Bush went onto win the New Hampshire primary, the Republican nomination, and the White House. Rather endured until 2005, when he finally retired under pressure from the network, which was unhappy with his ratings and his talent for continually attracting controversy. (Critics said he was slanting the news.)

. . .

Speaking of Republican, both Tarbox and Hambrick have solidly established their conservative credentials. Hambrick is now senior vice president of communications for the National Association of Manufacturers and hosts its weekly radio show, “America’s Business.”

Tarbox (now known as E.D. Hill) anchors “America’s Pulse” weekday afternoons on the Fox News Channel. She previously hosted “Fox News Live” and the “Fox and Friends” morning show.

The Fox News Channel has been rumored (or so I’ve been told) to harbor an ever-so-slight right-wing bias.

But what do I know? As Dan Rather would say, “We’ve lived by the crystal ball and learned to eat so much broken glass tonight that we’re in critical condition.”

Uh, right.