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George W Bush: Kanye's Katrina comment low-point in presidency. Kanye West: Just like when I grabbed Taylor Swift's mic at VMAs

By Lisa de Moraes


[This blog post has been updated]

Former president George W. Bush told NBC News's Matt Lauer that the "all-time low" of his eight years in the White House came when notorious loose-cannon Kanye West appeared on a Hurricane Katrina relief fundraiser and said, "George Bush doesn't care about black people."

Really?

"You say you told Laura at the time it was the worst moment of your presidency?" Lauer asked Bush an a taped interview, citing a passage in Bush's new book, "Decision Points" which officially goes on sale Tuesday.

"Yes. My record was strong I felt when it came to race relations and giving people a chance. And -- it was a disgusting moment," Bush responded to Lauer in the interview, which NBC is holding to air in prime time on Monday.

A clearly agitated West made the comment about Bush, on national TV, on Sept..2, 2005, during a telethon to raise money for victims of Hurricane Katrina, which had devastated parts of the Gulf Coast.

"Were you watching?" Lauer asked Bush about the fundraiser.

"Nope," Bush responded, according to a transcript issued by NBC.

That's too bad, because it is one of The TV Column's Top-10 TV Moments Ever:

The rapper was among the celebs and singers participating in the one-hour special, produced by NBC News and run on the NBC broadcast network, as well as MSNBC and CNBC, to raise money for the American Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund.

West was not scheduled to perform; he was one of the blah-blah-blah'ers, who would read from scripts prepared by the network about the impact of Katrina on southern Louisiana and Mississippi.

West and actor Mike Myers had been paired to appear about halfway through the show. Their assignment: Take turns reading a script describing the breach in the levees around New Orleans.

Myers: "The landscape of the city has changed dramatically, tragically and perhaps irreversibly. There is now over 25 feet of water where there was once city streets and thriving neighborhoods."

Myers threw it to West, who looked extremely nervous in a super-preppy designer rugby shirt and white pants.

West: "I hate the way they portray us in the media. You see a black family, it says, 'They're looting.' You see a white family, it says, "They're looking for food." And, you know, it's been five days [waiting for federal help] because most of the people are black. ..... And even for me to complain about it, I would be a hypocrite because I've tried to turn away from the TV because it's too hard to watch. I've even been shopping before even giving a donation, so now I'm calling my business manager right now to see what is the biggest amount I can give. ..... We already realize a lot of people that could help are at war right now, fighting another way -- and they've given them permission to go down and shoot us!"

West threw it back to Myers, who looked like a guy who stopped on the tarmac to tie his shoe and got hit in the back with the 8:30 to LaGuardia.

Myers: "And subtle, but in many ways even more profoundly devastating, is the lasting damage to the survivors' will to rebuild and remain in the area. The destruction of the spirit of the people of southern Louisiana and Mississippi may end up being the most tragic loss of all."

And then, because Myers is apparently as dumb as his Alfalfa hair, he threw it back to West.

West: "George Bush doesn't care about black people!"

Back to Myers, who by now was looking like the 8:30 to LaGuardia turned around and caught him square between the eyes.

Myers: "Please call ....."

At which point someone at NBC News finally regained control of the joystick and cut over to Chris Tucker, who started right in with more scripted blah, blah, blah.

Cut back to present day, and George W. Bush talking to Matt Lauer about the worst moment of his presidency being West's comment.

"You remember what he said?" Lauer asked.

"Yes, I do. He called me a racist," Bush responded.

"Well, what he said: 'George Bush doesn't care about black people,'." Lauer corrected Bush.

"That's: 'He's a racist'," Bush responded, adding: "And I didn't appreciate it then. I don't appreciate it now."

Lauer began to wonder whether some people, reading the passage in Bush's new book in which he writes that West's comment was the "worst moment" of his presidency, "might give you some heat for that. And the reason is this -- "

"Don't care," Bush snapped.

"Well, here's the reason," Lauer persevered. "You're not saying that the worst moment in you're presidency was watching the misery in Louisiana. You're saying it was when someone insulted you because of that."

"No -- that -- and I also make it clear that the misery in Louisiana affected me deeply, as well," Bush said. "There's a lot of tough moments in the book. And it was a disgusting moment, pure and simple."

Responding to Bush's comments, West said: "I definitely can understand the way he feels to be accused of being a racist in any way because the same thing happened to me -- I got accused of being a racist,"

Kanye's reference was to the criticism he got after jumping on stage at the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards, yanking the microphone out of the hand of Taylor Swift -- who had just won the VMA for best female video -- and shouting that Beyoncé had been robbed.

"With both situations, it was basically a lack of compassion that America saw," West said Wednesday in an interview with a Houston hip-hop radio station.

"With him, it was a lack of compassion with him not rushing, him not taking the time to rush down to New Orleans. With me, it was a lack of compassion of cutting someone off in their ÖMoment. But nonetheless, I think we're all quick to pull a race card in America. ..... I really more connect with him just on a humanitarian level because that next morning, the next morning when he felt that, I felt that same thing, too," the morning after the VMAs.

Here's Kanye West's appearance in that TV fundraiser:

And here is the only clip of the Lauer/Bush interview we've seen so far:

By Lisa de Moraes  | November 3, 2010; 7:19 PM ET
Categories:  TV News  
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Comments

I never liked Bush as a president but I never dislike him as a person and I feel that Lauer is playing with words to make an issue where there is none in the following:

MATT LAUER: Well, here's the reason. You're not saying that the worst moment in you're Presidency was watching the misery in Louisiana. You're saying it was when someone insulted you because of that.

Taken totally out of context. It was a personal moment between spouses discussing a personal insult.

By the way, “ … you're Presidency …” ??? HUH??

Posted by: hock1 | November 3, 2010 1:31 PM | Report abuse

And you Goobers call Obama vain and egotistical.
Lauer hit it right on the head; not watching the people of New Orleans suffer, my worst moment was when an impolite jerk criticized me. For the president to even mention Kanye West by name in his book is evidence of his shallow character, thin skin and adolescent temper.
Restore dignity to the office of the presidency indeed.

Posted by: cjbass55 | November 3, 2010 1:58 PM | Report abuse

george w. bush; worst president ever.

Posted by: MarilynManson | November 3, 2010 2:16 PM | Report abuse

Kanye West is garbage. As he proved a couple years later when he interrupted that girl at the awards show to tell her she didn't deserve her award.

He was probably just as drunk at the telethon as he was at the awards show.

Posted by: corco02az | November 3, 2010 2:26 PM | Report abuse

President Bush is a very sincere and genuine man. You may not agree with all of his decisions, but to attack him personally is just irresponsible and uncalled for. Tell me again, how is New Orleans ANY of President Bush's fault? When is Nagen going to be blamed for ANY of it? Last time I checked, the gov't at the local level is the one to call for a State of Emergency. Inform yourself before you start accusing. Kanye has time and time again shown how racist he is...President Bush, Taylor Swift...so, really who's racist? President Bush had the most black people on his staff than Clinton and Obama. I hate when people use the race card as an excuse. UGH the ignorance!!

Posted by: Tsblack72 | November 3, 2010 2:36 PM | Report abuse

I didn't care for his policies, but his near sociological detachment and myopic hindsight are actually pretty bad ass.

Posted by: ozpunk | November 3, 2010 2:47 PM | Report abuse

I agree with the comment by hock1.
Mr. Bush said it was the most "disgusting" moment in his presidency, not the "worst" moment in his presidency, as Mr. Lauer suggested he had said. I find this tiring. This wasn't a tabloid news show, it's mainstream news. These kinds of errors on the part of journalists used to be far fewer and were a source of embarrassment to a professional. Now it's par for the course.

Posted by: jdVA | November 3, 2010 4:06 PM | Report abuse

A racist with a heart of gold, how American...

Posted by: houndog | November 3, 2010 4:17 PM | Report abuse

I understand what Bush is trying to say. There's a difference between people attacking what you have done and people attacking who you are. The latter hurts more.

Posted by: forgetthis | November 3, 2010 4:57 PM | Report abuse

LMAO @ ozpunk!

Posted by: ProfessorPeabody | November 3, 2010 6:17 PM | Report abuse

You'd think the worse moment would be when he realized that Saddam didn't have any weapons, had no ties to 9/11, was no threat to America, and he'd killed all those people for nothing.

Posted by: Dremit97 | November 3, 2010 6:58 PM | Report abuse

You'd think the worse moment would be when he realized that Saddam didn't have any weapons, had no ties to 9/11, was no threat to America, and he'd killed all those people for nothing.

Posted by: Dremit97 | November 3, 2010 7:01 PM | Report abuse

Is this the same Kanye West who got drunk and grabbed the award from Taylor Swift's hands a year or two ago? That guy's a jerk. He doesn't speak for black people, just himself and a few other thugs.

Of course, this doesn't excuse President Bush's shameful handling of Katrina. Actually, in a twisted way, Bush and West sort of deserve each other. They're both thugs, as Mr. Bush proved in Iraq and Mr. West proved in the awards ceremony.

Posted by: rickedelson | November 3, 2010 7:58 PM | Report abuse

Whodathunkit? A battle for supremacy among self-centered idiots. Who will win: Kanye or Bush?

Well, on first glance, I woulda said it's gotta be Kanye. But on further review - nope, it's Bush... and here's why: when you admit that, years later, you *still* carry the burden of having been insulted by a childish fool like Kanye, then you're the bigger idiot.


...It's like a mobius strip of idiocy.

Posted by: ProfessorPeabody | November 3, 2010 9:11 PM | Report abuse

The names they call President Obama.
BTW,Lisa, didn't Glenn Beck call Obama a "racist"?

Posted by: Bajiquan | November 3, 2010 10:25 PM | Report abuse

The low-point of his presidency was not when he sat reading to elementary school children and FINISHED THE BOOK when this country was being attacked by terrorists and the WTC was falling?
That was the most disgusting moment of his presidency for me. Disgusting, stupid, ignorant on every conceivable level. Then it went downhill from there.

Posted by: bigpaws12 | November 3, 2010 11:40 PM | Report abuse

Kanye said that he was going to call his business manager and see what is the largest amount he could donate to the Katrina victims. Cause I'm black and from New Orleans, and I lived through Katrina.

Does anyone have any info or sources to see if he actually donated any money?

I'd like to see if and how much he actually donated. That guy makes millions, and I'm sure he could have sold one of his, probably many, houses or fancy cars and use that money to give.

Or, I wonder if he could have donated one of his houses and let some poor black people live their.

Anyone have any info about Kanye's promise to donate?

BTW, I hated Bush as a President, but I was right here in New Orleans during the hurricane. I wouldn't blame Bush or Mayor Nagin for the lack of response. I blame Governor Blanco. She was the one who waited way to long to activate the National Guard. At least I got money from FEMA, and I think that was more on Bush's side of the deal.

Posted by: wsmuller | November 4, 2010 6:00 AM | Report abuse

Kanye said that he was going to call his business manager and see what is the largest amount he could donate to the Katrina victims. Cause I'm black and from New Orleans, and I lived through Katrina.

Does anyone have any info or sources to see if he actually donated any money?

I'd like to see if and how much he actually donated. That guy makes millions, and I'm sure he could have sold one of his, probably many, houses or fancy cars and use that money to give.

Or, I wonder if he could have donated one of his houses and let some poor black people live their.

Anyone have any info about Kanye's promise to donate?

BTW, I hated Bush as a President, but I was right here in New Orleans during the hurricane. I wouldn't blame Bush or Mayor Nagin for the lack of response. I blame Governor Blanco. She was the one who waited way to long to activate the National Guard. At least I got money from FEMA, and I think that was more on Bush's side of the deal.

Posted by: wsmuller | November 4, 2010 6:01 AM | Report abuse

OK why is it as a black woman I understood exactly what Pres Bush meant!!! I can't stand Kanye West because he's an insult to his mother's memory being part of a media hungry will do anything for PR clan. Jay Z and Beyonce got mad at Kanye because he made Taylor a VERY rich woman!!! hahahaha

Matt's job is to get eyeballs and attention to his interviews by twisting Bush's words. He was saying calling him a racist during a telethon to help suffering people still bothers him to this day. Sept 11 wasn't personal. He has the right to list this as a low point in HIS career. Sadly if Obama were Pres people would find fault in his reaction as well because Katrina and Sept 11 weren't yearly events a President can be prepared to tackle!!! Mistakes will be made.....

Posted by: MDlady2 | November 4, 2010 1:18 PM | Report abuse

OK why is it as a black woman I understood exactly what Pres Bush meant!!! I can't stand Kanye West because he's an insult to his mother's memory being part of a media hungry will do anything for PR clan. Jay Z and Beyonce got mad at Kanye because he made Taylor a VERY rich woman!!! hahahaha

Matt's job is to get eyeballs and attention to his interviews by twisting Bush's words. He was saying calling him a racist during a telethon to help suffering people still bothers him to this day. Sept 11 wasn't personal. He has the right to list this as a low point in HIS career. Sadly if Obama were Pres people would find fault in his reaction as well because Katrina and Sept 11 weren't yearly events a President can be prepared to tackle!!! Mistakes will be made.....

Posted by: MDlady2 | November 4, 2010 1:19 PM | Report abuse

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