In a pre-recorded report shown on Friday's Anderson Cooper 360 on CNN, correspondent Gary Tuchman recalled examples of "dirty campaigning" in presidential elections going back 200 years, but, when he got to more recent elections, he focused on negative campaigning from the Republican side -- citing Richard Nixon, George H.W. Bush, George W. Bush and Donald Trump -- while ignoring infamous examples from the left except for current candidate Hillary Clinton.
As nearly all of the examples given involved the actual presidential candidates themselves or at least someone closely linked to them as making crass attacks, the report recounted that George W. Bush's campaign "was accused of" smearing John McCain with a false accusation of fathering a black child, without even mentioning that Bush advisor Karl Rove not only went on the record denying any involvement by the campaign, but even accused a professor at Bob Jones University in South Carolina of being responsible for the rumor.
And, as the report included some bona fide examples of crude personal insults -- like Teddy Roosevelt accusing William Howard Taft of being a "fathead with the brains of a guinea pig" -- George H.W. Bush was included for merely portraying Michael Dukakis as soft on defense and of quipping that Dukakis "thought a naval exercise is something you find in Jane Fonda's books."
CNN host Anderson Cooper segued to the report after filling viewers in on Maine Republican Governor Paul LePage leaving a profanity-laced message on the answering machine of a Democratic state legislator. Cooper turned to the presidential campaign and recalled Democratic vice presidential nominee Tim Kaine claiming that Trump has "KKK values."
After a soundbite of Kaine, the CNN host introduced Tuchman's report: "Well, there's still two months to go. This is shaping up to be one of the nastiest elections in American history, and that is saying something. Gary Tuchman looks back."
The CNN correspondent began the report by recalling that Thomas Jefferson and John Adams had "associates" who used personal insults like "gross hypocrite" and "godless atheist" against each other's candidate, followed by John Quincy Adams accusing Andrew Jackson of being illiterate, with Jackson accusing Adams of selling his wife's maid to the czar of Russia.
After informing viewers that Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas traded charges over the issue of temperance, followed by the name-calling between Roosevelt and Taft, Tuchman then moved to more modern politics where he seemed to have more trouble finding Democrats behaving badly than Republicans.
Tuchman linked the Nixon White House to the "conservative Manchester Union Leader newspaper" publishing charges that Democratic presidential candidate Ed Muskie had used anti-French racial slurs, and that his wife had engaged in "unladylike" behavior. The CNN correspondent then turned to the 1988 race between George H.W. Bush and Democrat Michael Dukakis.
Playing a clip of an ad accusing Dukakis of opposing the development of military weapons, Tuchman griped: "In 1988, George H.W. Bush let loose on Mike Dukakis, asserting he didn't support the military, and stating that Dukakis thought a naval exercise is something you find in Jane Fonda's books. Bush went on to win."
The CNN reporter then took aim at George W. Bush from the 2000 presidential campaign:
And in 2000, George W. Bush's campaign was accused of starting a whisper campaign that his primary opponent, John McCain, had fathered an illegitimate black child. His daughter Bridget was actually adopted from Bangladesh. But the false rumor had its intended effect, stalling McCain's momentum, and Bush, of course, went on to win.
Not only did Tuchman fail to inform viewers that Bush's campaign likely had nothing to do with the racist smear, he missed an opportunity to highlight an anti-Bush ad run by the NAACP from the same year attacking the Republican for opposing a new hate crime law in Texas in response to the infamous James Byrd murder.
Even though the men responsible for the vicious killing of Byrd were all sentenced either to the death penalty or to life imprisonment, the daughter of Byrd was featured in an ad charging that when Bush opposed a new law, "it was like my father was killed all over again."
Below is a complete transcript of the report from the Friday, August 26, Anderson Cooper 360 on CNN:
ANDERSON COOPER: Since then, the governor has sort of apologized, but also said he wishes it was 1825 so he could have a duel with the, quote, "snot-nosed little runt." Governor Paul LePage is a strong Trump supporter. Whether Trump should be held accountable for the people who support him, of course, that's obviously up for debate. But at an event in Florida, Hillary Clinton's running mate, Senator Tim Kaine, did just that.
SENATOR TIM KAINE (D-VA): Yesterday, Hillary Clinton gave a speech in Reno, Nevada, calling out Donald Trump on a lot of things on this equality idea, calling him out on the fact that he has supporters like David Duke, connected with the Ku Klux Klan, who are going around and saying Donald Trump is their candidate because Donald Trump is pushing their values. Ku Klux Klan values, David Duke values, Donald Trump values are not American values.
COOPER: Well, there's still two months to go. This is shaping up to be one of the nastiest elections in American history, and that is saying something. Gary Tuchman looks back.
GARY TUCHMAN: "Gross hypocrite," "godless atheist," who said it? Trump or Clinton? Well, neither. It was associates of Jefferson and Adams trading barbs. That's Thomas Jefferson and John Adams.
HILLARY CLINTON: A man you can bait with a tweet-
DONALD TRUMP: Lying, crooked Hillary.
TUCHMAN: The fact is, all this name-calling and dirty campaigning is nothing new. Take the election of 1828. John Quincy Adams versus Andrew Jackson in another political brouhaha. Adams taking aim at Jackson, asserting that Jackson didn't know how to spell, was too uneducated to become President, while newspapers portrayed his wife Rachel as a short, fat dumpling. Jackson shot back, claiming that Adams had sold his wife's maid as a concubine to the czar of Russia.
The election of 1860, another political slug fest. This time, Abraham Lincoln versus Stephen Douglas. Douglas accusing Lincoln of hypocrisy on the issue of temperance, claiming that Lincoln had once operated a grocery store that sold hard liquor, causing quite the stir. Lincoln's reply: That if that was the case, then surely Douglas was his best customer.
In the election of 1912, Theodore Roosevelt called his opponent, William Howard Taft, a "fathead with the brains of a guinea pig." Taft in kind calling Roosevelt's followers "neurotics."
TUCHMAN: Modern campaigns have seen their fair share of nastiness, too. In 1972, Senator Edward Muskie of Maine -- then a frontrunner for the Democratic nomination -- that is until the conservative Manchester Union Leader newspaper ran two pieces. One article, planted by the Nixon White House, accused Muskie of using racial slurs against French Americans. The second implying Muskie's wife enjoyed smoking, drinking and cursing in an unladylike way.
FORMER SENATOR EDWARD MUSKIE (D-ME): -by attacking me, by attacking my wife, has proved himself to be a gutless coward.
TUCHMAN: But it was also reported at the time that Muskie broke down and cried, sending a message that he couldn't handle the heat, and sending his campaign into a tailspin.
In 1988, George H.W. Bush let loose on Mike Dukakis-
CLIP OF AD: Michael Dukakis has opposed virtually every defense system we've developed-
TUCHMAN: -asserting he didn't support the military, and stating that Dukakis thought a naval exercise is something you find in Jane Fonda's books. Bush went on to win.
And in 2000, George W. Bush's campaign was accused of starting a whisper campaign that his primary opponent, John McCain, had fathered an illegitimate black child. His daughter Bridget was actually adopted from Bangladesh. But the false rumor had its intended effect, stalling McCain's momentum, and Bush, of course, went on to win. Another example of how, even though it's ugly-
DONALD TRUMP: Hillary Clinton is a bigot.
HILLARY CLINTON: This is someone who retweets white supremacists online.
TUCHMAN: -it can work. Gary Tuchman, CNN, Atlanta.