Cliven Bundy and the amazing history of the post-political uproar interview

This post has been updated.

Since Cliven Bundy's views on slavery were revealed by the New York Times on Wednesday, he has been making the rounds on national media trying to explain himself. This has not gone terribly well.

Cliven Bundy, a Nevada rancher who gained national attention with his comments about African Americans and slavery, holds a news conference to explain his remarks. (AP)

There is a long tradition of politicians, people with politically-tied causes or people who just said politically unsound things having to do a painful television interview as penance after committing a particularly egregious foul. Here are a list of some of the most memorable.

(Warning: These interviews are uncomfortable, unless you are a schadenfreude enthusiast.)

Rob Ford

On November 19, 2013, the Today Show aired an interview that Matt Lauer did with Toronto Mayor Rob Ford. The previous day, the city council had stripped him of much of his powers, given revelations about his drug and alcohol use.

He did not make things better by saying he wanted to see a recording using crack cocaine in order to prove it happened "I can barely remember it. I was very, very inebriated."

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Anthony Weiner

It's hard to pick which post-scandal interview to use when talking about Anthony Weiner — the truth behind his sexting habits unfolded abnormally slowly. Perhaps the most uncomfortable for Weiner, however, was the interview he gave with Lawrence O'Donnell before last year's Democratic mayoral primary in New York City — an interview he was likely assuming to be smooth sailing and instead began with O'Donnell asking, "What is wrong with you?"

Todd Akin

The Missouri Rep. Todd Akin wasn't present at his Piers Morgan interview after making remarks about "legitimate rape," but it was nonetheless an uncomfortable experience for the Missouri Senate candidate.

John Edwards

In 2007, the National Enquirer reported that Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards was having an extramarital affair. Since it was the National Enquirer, most media outlets didn't pay attention. On August 7, 2008, however, Edwards admitted his affair to ABC News' Bob Woodruff, who asked Edwards questions like, "How could you have done this?"

Bill Clinton

Everyone knows why former president Bill Clinton needed to do an awkward interview. He got a nice long recess before he needed to, however, speaking to Dan Rather in 2004.

Trey Radel

On January 3, 2013, Trey Radel was sworn in as the representative of Florida's 19th congressional district. On January 27, 2014, he resigned from that position, after a conviction for cocaine possession

He talked to NBC2's Kellie Burns about the scandal in early January 2014. It was tense.

Chris Christie

Diane Sawyer conducted the first interview with New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie post-Bridgegate. It was a very Chris Christie awkward interview.


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Rod Blagojevich

In December 2008, Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich was arrested for corruption. In January 2009, he was impeached and kicked out of office. He was convicted of lying to the FBI on August 17, 2010. On August 20, he sat down with the Today Show's Meredith Viera for an awkward interview.

Eliot Spitzer

On March 17, 2008, New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer resigned after he became embroiled in a prostitution scandal. A year later, he gave his first post-politics interview with Matt Lauer, the apparent king of the awkward interview.

When Spitzer ran in the 2013 New York City comptroller race, he had to do a whole other round of awkward interviews. (He still lost.)

Mark Sanford

The South Carolina governor had been mysteriously missing for days in June 2009. When Sanford returned, he admitted he had been having an extramarital affair, and that he and his wife were getting divorced. He went on Piers Morgan, the brief usurper of Matt Lauer in the awkward interview department, in 2011 to discuss the incident and his life since. He admitted that he had been scared of the interview.

John Ensign

Nevada Senator John Ensign was in trouble in 2009 for trying to get the husband of the woman he was having an affair with to keep quiet with a cushy lobbying gig. He was very surprised when CNN's Rick Sanchez brought up his scandal during an interview that he assumed would mostly revolve around the underwear bomber.

Paula Deen

Paula Deen's scandal may have not been overtly political, but it draws from the same deep-set problems over race in America at the foreground of Cliven Bundy's comments this week. In a videotaped deposition for a $1.2 million lawsuit filed by one of her former employees, the celebrity chef admitted to asking her black employees to dress up as slaves for a catering gig at and antebellum-themed wedding, among many other controversial things. Soon after, she sat down with Lauer to discuss the scandal. She canceled at the last minute, but rescheduled the following week.

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Correction: A previous version of this post included allegations against Eliot Spitzer that were proven untrue. The post has been updated to reflect the most recent facts.

Jaime Fuller reports on national politics for "The Fix" and Post Politics. She worked previously as an associate editor at the American Prospect, a political magazine based in Washington, D.C.
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