Answer: James Schlesinger
The fallout from the famous “Halloween Massacre” – the Ford Administration’s cabinet shakeup on November 4, 1975 – played out on Meet the Press in the weeks following. President Gerald Ford was the Meet the Press guest the Sunday after the dismissals and was pressed by the panel to explain his decision to replace several of his key cabinet members and advisers with more conservative men, including Donald Rumsfeld at the Pentagon and George H.W. Bush at the CIA. One of the most prominent “victims” of the massacre, Defense Secretary James Schlesinger, appeared on Meet the Press two weeks after his dismissal. On several occasions, Schlesinger used the interview to subtly criticize the administration. When the MTP panel asked if he had been dismissed because of his well-known tension with Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, Schlesinger said, “I think you would have to direct that question to someone else. So far as I can see, there is value to the President to have differing points of view with regard to the issues that he must ultimately decide.” He also declined to offer an endorsement of the President’s re-election in 1976, a stance that angered the Ford administration. In response to the endorsement question, Schlesinger offered only this: “I have always been inclined to support the Republican candidate. There are, as you point out, some very important issues, central issues to the security of the United States. But we would have to see how those issues shaped up in the election.”
Watch the clip below to see Ford’s comments on the Halloween Massacre and how he defended firing Schlesinger.
Every Monday, Betsy Fischer - the Executive Producer of Meet the Press - poses a trivia question on Twitter about the 63 years of history making moments and guests on Meet The Press. Check back every Tuesday for answers and video clips!