Irmo’s Donna Rice Hughes interview with Barbara Walters to air Tuesday

Donna Rice Hughes, left, interviewed by Barbara Walters.
Donna Rice Hughes, left, interviewed by Barbara Walters.

Donna Rice Hughes, who burst on the national scene as Donna Rice in 1987, will revisit her relationship with then Senator Gary Hart and the scandal that ended his presidential campaign with Barbara Walters.

The Irmo High and University of South Carolina grad was interviewed for “Barbara Walters Presents,” which will be broadcast from 8-9 p.m. on Tuesday on Investigation Discovery (Time Warner Cable channel 138).

“I sat down with Barbara in June for a couple of hours to tape the interview,” Hughes said. “The one-hour show covers my journey over the past several decades.”

In 1987, Hart, the Democratic presidential front-runner, faced damaging allegations of a relationship with a woman other than his wife – Hughes.

The Miami Herald reported that Hughes spent the night at Hart’s townhouse in Washington, D.C. while his wife was away. Rice was a model-actress living in Miami at the time. The former Colorado senator and Rice denied any impropriety, but Hart ended his presidential run a few days later, following a media firestorm.

Then 29, Hughes maintained she was “just a typical Southern girl” who did nothing wrong. Some who knew her told The State at the time that she was a jet-setting beauty who sought out rich and famous men.

Hughes was dragged into the limelight of constant gossip tabloids. She was called by one media outlet the media’s favorite punching bag until Dan Quayle came along.

Walters discusses the historical repercussions of the scandal on the program.

“I haven’t seen the entire show yet, but the producers tell me it’s a great hour of journalism, the way investigative reporting should be,” Hughes said. “For those of you who are history buffs, you might appreciate the historical significance of this show which chronicles the year the mainstream media went tabloid.”

Hughes has become president and CEO of Enough Is Enough, a non-profit organization that advocates for Internet safety for children and families. She said the interview will include some key EIE victories since 1994.

EIE’s mission statement says it’s dedicated to raising public awareness about the dangers of internet pornography and sexual predators, cyberbullying and other dangers and to advancing solutions that promote equality, fairness, and respect for human dignity with shared responsibility between the public, technology, and the law.

Hughes returned to the national spotlight during the recent presidential campaign. She praised President-elect Donald Trump for signing a proposal to make the internet safer for children, including preventing the sexual exploitation of children online. On its website, EIE says it looks forward to working with the Trump administration on implanting the Pledge goals and with first lady Melania Trump in her efforts to end the epidemic of cyberbullying.

Hughes said she formed a friendship with Walters during the scandal, and that bond was one of the reasons she revisited the events of 1987.

“One thing is for sure, I respect and love my longtime friend Barbara, who held my hand during one of the most difficult years of my life,” Hughes said. “And for those friends and family who walked though that season with me, I will always be grateful.”


What: “Barbara Walters Presents” – Donna Rice Hughes, and other key figures, discuss the historical repercussions of a single scandal

When: Tuesday; 8-9 p.m.

TV: Investigation Discovery (Time Warner Cable channel 138)

A clip of the interview is available at http://bit.ly/2gK9gZc