Hours After His Death, MSNBC, CNN Hit Bush’s ‘Racial Animus,’ Willie Horton

Just hours after George H.W. Bush passed away, MSNBC and CNN felt the need to immediately jump to Willie Horton and the legacy of Bush’s 1988 ad against Michael Dukakis. During live coverage Saturday morning, MSNBC analyst Eddie Glaude insisted, “We have to bring up with Willie Horton.” Glaude sneered, “Dukakis was leading and then that ad started running. And the way in which he appealed to racial animus.”

He attacked the just-dead President: “So, there’s a way in which he would do anything to get elected.” Finally, he added some nice words: “His commitment to the country. We can disagree with the policies, but one thing we can't question it and that is his loyalty to the country.”

 

 

Susan Page of USA Today complained of Bush’s “more conservative position on civil rights when he was in Texas.” She hammered:

It is true that he was a part of a movement of the Republican Party that took advantage of situations.... It's one of the ways Republicans made inroads in Texas and across the south with those southern, those white southern Democrats to convince them to vote first for Ronald Reagan and for the Republicans who followed Reagan.

Over on CNN at 2am, the network credited the Horton ad with Bush's 1988 presidential victory: 

JOHN KING: Bush and his allies made up the ground by attacking Dukakis as too liberal, soft on defense they said and soft on crime.

WILLIE HORTON AD: His revolving door prison giving furloughs to first-degree murderers not eligible for parole. One was Willie Horton, who murdered a boy in a robbery, stabbing him 19 times.

KING: The strategy worked. In the end, Dukakis lost 40 states and Bush was president.

Partial transcripts are below. Click "expand" to read more: 

MSNBC Live coverage of George H.W. Bush’s death

12/1/18

9:45

SUSAN PAGE: He did strike a more conservative position on civil rights when he was in Texas. But as president, he was, I think known, as someone who to reach across racial lines in ways Republicans haven't always done. It is true that he was a part of a movement of the Republican Party that took advantage of situations and that's how Republicans. That’s how Republicans --- it's one of the ways Republicans made inroads in Texas and across the south with those southern, those white southern Democrats to convince them to vote first for Ronald Reagan and for the Republicans who followed Reagan. But President Bush was never known as someone who, you know, struck racial --- who seemed to exploit that. He was, in fact, someone who I think tried to reach across racial lines. And that is something that goes back to even in his days in college when he was active in civil rights groups on the campus at Yale.

DAVID GURA: Eddie Glaude, jump in here if you would.

EDDIE GLAUDE: Well, I mean, it’s a really complicated story. We have to bring up with Willie Horton.

GURA: The Lee Atwater ad.

GLAUDE: The Lee Atwater ad and what it meant in the battle against Michael Dukakis. We know he was losing, Dukakis was leading and then that ad started running. And the way in which he appealed to racial animus. But at the same time, this is a guy who passed the American disabilities act, a guy who talked about the Clean Air Act. He passed the Clean Air Act. So, there’s a way in which he would do anything to get elected. But the sense of what it meant to govern, his commitment to the country, we can disagree with the policies, but one thing we can't question it and that is his loyalty to the country.

CNN

12/1/18

2:03am ET

JOHN KING: Bush and his allies made up the ground by attacking Dukakis as too liberal, soft on defense they said and soft on crime.

WILLIE HORTON AD: His revolving door prison giving furloughs to first-degree murderers not eligible for parole. One was Willie Horton, who murdered a boy in a robbery, stabbing him 19 times.

KING: The strategy worked. In the end, Dukakis lost 40 states and Bush was president.

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