​Almanac: The Gary Hart scandal

Almanac: Gary Hart 02:41
"I'm not a beaten man. I'm an angry and defiant man. I've said that I bend but I don't break, and believe me, I'm not broken."

And now a page from our "Sunday Morning" Almanac: May 8th, 1987, 29 years ago today ... the day former Colorado Senator Gary Hart quit the Democratic race for president in the face of a media frenzy.

Donna Rice and Gary Hart. AP

A media frenzy many people remember today by the photograph that eventually emerged of Hart and a woman named Donna Rice on a dock next to a yacht called "Monkey Business."

When asked if he'd ever committed adultery, Hart responded, "I don't have to answer that question."

Just a few days before he dropped out, an anonymous tip about a possible affair had led Miami Herald reporters to confront Hart outside his Washington, D.C. townhouse.

Their story ran the next day ... the very same day The New York Times printed quotes from an earlier interview with Hart. Asked about earlier rumors of infidelity, Hart had answered: "Follow me around. I don't care, I'm serious. If anybody wants to put a tail on me, go ahead. They'd be very bored."

Boring, it was not.

With Hart's statement giving them license, the media launched into full scandal mode. And within a week, candidate Hart announced the inevitable:

"Clearly under present circumstances this campaign can't go on. I refuse to submit my family and my friends and innocent people and myself to further rumors and gossip. It's simply an intolerable situation."

Not content with a simple statement of withdrawal, Hart went on to deliver a lecture:

"We're all going to have to seriously question a system for selecting our national leaders that reduces the press of this nation to hunters, and presidential candidates to being hunted."

For all Hart's protestations, the release of that "Monkey Business" photo was all most people needed to see.

And with that incident, the precedent of non-stop, 24/7 coverage of the personal failings of politicians -- from both parties -- was firmly established.

Something all candidates, current and future, ignore at their peril.