Bernie’s Q&A: Jordan, Pelosi, Krauthammer, Cuomo, and more! (5/22) — Premium Interactive ($4 members)

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Now, let’s get to your questions (and my answers):

Like you, I aim to be both conservative and objective. I’ve tried to make sense of this nonsensical political divide during a pandemic that doesn’t discriminate by party affiliation. I’m trying to understand the situation from each side’s worldview, so here’s my take: Conservatives believe in the rights and efficacy of individuals and local officials to assess their own risks, govern their own behaviors, and make their own health decisions. They are distrustful of elitists in government and media who have their own agendas in harshly dictating the public and private actions of a free citizenry. Liberals, on the other hand, believe that experts in science and public policy are best able to coordinate a nationwide effort to control a deadly pandemic. They are distrustful of individuals making their own decisions that can have deadly effects on the public at large, as they are equally appalled at the thought of taking direction from an incompetent, corrupt President who ignores science and common sense at his whim. Fair assessment? — Steve R.

Totally and completely fair, Steve. I think you nailed it. And you might want to listen (again) to my Off the Cuff this week which deals with this subject. Apparently great minds really do think alike.

I noticed that the new Pelosi $3T sweepstakes would extend the unemployment insurance bonanza through the end of the year. I also read some comments in WSJ from a fellow in Va that when he and others went to get a haircut the barbers were staying home since they made more via unemployment than working. Query when Granny Nancy and AOC wake up and figure out there are consequences to giving people incentives not to work and if we will see the worm turn with the Democrats ( if in power) then forcing people to work ( doing whatever our overlords deem most “essential.”). As the expression goes in Texas, we may be “fixin” to find out if George Orwell is THE prophet of our era. — Michael F.

Nancy Pelosi doesn’t care if people make more by NOT working. She’s hoping they’ll thank her and her party in November for the extra pay. As for how all this will play out on November 3 … too early to tell. Orwell chronicled absurdity as well as anyone.  He’d have plenty to write about today.

Bernie, did you have a chance to watch any of the Michael Jordan “Last Dance” documentary on ESPN? If you have, I was wondering what your thoughts were on Obama’s interview during the show. The former President seemed to be upset that Michael Jordan was not (and still is not) more of an activist that took up some of the liberal causes Leftist promote. I think Obama’s position is short sighted and sad because it overlooks the fact that Michael Jordan was one of the great uniting forces in history. Jordan was so talented in his craft that everyone, of every race, and every nation, who stepped on to the court wanted, “to be like Mike.” Jordan’s greatness transcended race and it is disappointing to see Obama claim that Jordan could have done more when in reality, Jordan’s greatness was something we all marveled and rallied around (except maybe Pistons fans). — Joe M.

Let’s say that reasonable people may disagree. Sometimes athletes, because of their high profile and influence, need to take up important causes. Here’s a behind the scenes story: A friend of mine was making a movie based on a book about inner city kids and what basketball meant to them. It was about a culture of poverty and violence in the inner city and how basketball was a way out. It was a serious book and would be a serious movie. Michael Jordan was supposed to star in it. But he backed out and wound up making a cartoon movie. Your points are well taken but Ali stepped up, Billie Jean King stepped up, Arthur Ashe stepped up — they all spoke out about important American causes. Not Mike. That’s his choice, of course. And that’s why I say that reasonable people may disagree.

Brit Hume has been saying on Twitter today that it is an “unproven hypothesis” that kids can spread COVID-19 to adults, and that we shouldn’t have closed schools over these past few weeks for COVID-19, because we didn’t close them for chickenpox and rubella outbreaks in the past.

In reality, kids can absolutely spread COVID-19 to adults (any human can), and chickenpox and rubella mostly result in skin infections. Hundreds of thousands of Americans were never in danger of dying from these chickenpox and rubella, or even requiring hospitalization. Are you surprised by how many national news-media figures on both sides of the aisle seem to have completely lost their sense of perspective on serious issues? — Ben G.

I’m not surprised, Ben, because all sorts of “pundits” think they know more than they actually know. Full disclosure: I’m a big fan of Brit Hume. But here’s the dirty little secret about the very nature of journalism: People who report in print, on TV, and online aren’t Renaissance men and women. Are we supposed to really believe that they’re experts on matters of the the economy, religion, the military, farming — and a virus that nobody ever heard of just a few months ago? Journalists are supposed to talk to people who know what’s going on and then report what they’ve learned. But given today’s media landscape where opinion is far more provocative than mere facts, we’re going to get all sorts of journalistic opinion masquerading as expertise.

Mr. G, Let’s talk about our hometown. When will the New York press start turning on Cuomo and Deblasio over the horrific job they’ve done handling the virus? They were both late in the game, they both panicked and whined, they both miss managed and made deadly decisions, they both grossly under utilized federal assistance that they begged for. Now they both want non-New York taxpayers to pay for their misgivings and miss management of New York city and state. The New York press of the the 60’s & 70’s would have skewered both of these guys straight out of office. So what gives? — ScottyG from Queens

You just asked an excellent question, Scotty — one that’s also been bothering me. Let’s keep this discussion to the virus. Andrew Cuomo is being portrayed by much of the (liberal) media as a hero. But as you correctly point out, he and the mayor of New York were late to the game and many people died because of the decisions they made. If Donald Trump were governor of New York they’d be calling for his head. Here’s what I think: Because he’s a liberal Democrat — and Donald Trump isn’t — they’ve chosen sides: Attack the president for his bad calls — and ignore Cuomo’s. One more reason the media have lost so much credibility.

You recently wrote about how much journalism has changed since you wrote “Bias.” Your previous position was that Dan Rather and the New York Times staff and their ilk were simply living in a liberal bubble & so as far as they were concerned, THEIR opinions were reasonable, informed & central thinking (unlike those conservative rubes). You point out now that The current climate among journalists & news editors is that Now they don’t even make the slightest effort to hide their biases and agenda. So…what do you think caused them all to blatantly start admitting to it? What changed in the past two decades that gave them the gall to actively and shamelessly push their agenda openly. For that matter, why do they continue to do it despite constantly having egg on their faces after they are shown to have pushed false narratives in debunked stories like the Jussie Smollett hoax, the Covington Catholic School debacle, and of course Russiagate? These aren’t stupid people; don’t they feel any shame or humiliation or even the slightest bit of embarrassment after being shown up by those “evil conservatives” and their leaders? And If not then why do you think they don’t, even after being debunked more than once? — “Curses! Foiled Again!” Regards from The Emperor

Good one, Your Highness. I don’t think I said they admit their biases — just that they don’t try to hide them anymore. It’s a complicated question but here’s something to chew on: They hated W because they thought he was an idiot. They loved Obama because he was a lefty just like them and a person of color to boot. And now they detest Trump. So for the last three presidents they either hated or loved each of them which greased the skids for their move to the left. Also, cable — as I’ve said before — wasn’t about journalism, it was about business. So we got more blatant opinion than in pre-cable days. One more thing: As newsrooms became more diverse, they also became more liberal. Hiring more minorities and women was a good thing. But those groups, by and large, weren’t composed of conservatives. If I go on any further, I’d be writing Chapter 1 in a book — Bias 20 years later — and I’m not doing that, Sir Emperor.

Bernie, Do you think we’ll ever see another Charles Krauthammer as a regular fixture on cable news? By that I mean someone who has a passion for (and is incredibly well informed on) complex issues, calls out the nonsense on both sides, and puts forth thoughtful and serious commentary instead of just adding fuel to the partisan culture war? Or do you think we’ll just see more people in the mold of Brian Stelter and Jesse Watters, who just turn every story into an attack on the other side? — Arthur C.

No on another Krauthammer … yes on more jerks like Stelters and Watters.

I hope I’m wrong, Arthur, but cable thrives on conflict. It needs contributors to pour gasoline on the fire. CNN and MSNBC won’t tolerate a liberal who every now and then embraces a conservative position. And Fox is just as bad. It doesn’t want conservatives around who see the other guy’s point of view. Why? It’s bad for business. And they don’t call it the news business for nothing.

(Editor’s note: the below question was quite long, so it has been shortened):

The CDC tracks the total number of weekly deaths from all causes in this country (COVID-19, heart attacks, suicides, auto accidents, etc.). Here’s what they’ve reported from February 1st through May 9th. The cumulative reported deaths are 101% of what the CDC considers to be ‘normal’ (based on 2017-2019 data). In other words, COVID-19 has increased the overall mortality rate in the country by 1%.

A 1% change seems statistically insignificant to me. So despite 60,000+ COVID-19 deaths in their data (7% of all deaths), the overall death rate is ‘normal’. Also, deaths from auto accidents and suicides are actually up (fewer people are on the road, but more people are driving like maniacs). Suicides are up presumably up too.

So what gives? Deaths from other causes like heart attacks, cancer, etc. are apparently down and deaths attributed to COVID-19 don’t represent incrementally + deaths as is suggested by all of the media hype and the politicians. Does that mean COVID-19 has been a ‘cure’ for other ailments? And for a statistically insignificant 1% increase in overall deaths, we’ve put the economy into the biggest contraction on record?

I’m not saying that COVID-19 isn’t serious, but we’ve gone through other more serious pandemics (1918, 1957, and 1968) that, adjusted for population growth, were far more deadly than COVID-19 but we didn’t shut the country down. Thanks and best regards! — David B.

First, I understand why you think 1% is “statistically insignificant” but I think we can agree that it’s not insignificant to the people who make up that 1% and their loved ones.

That said, here’s a piece from National Review on this subject (with some important perspective) that you might find interesting. It includes the stat that COVID-19 killed more Americans in one month than the flu does in a year.

And because I can’t do your question justice — it’s just not something I know a lot about — I’m turning the rest of the answer over to the brilliant Mr. John Daly, who follows this stuff more closely:

Hi David. I see where you’re coming from, but here are a few things to keep in mind:

1) Our country saw less than 100 total deaths from COVID-19 in the first 7 weeks of that 14 week date range you’re referring to, thus that cumulative 101% figure is a bit skewed in regard to the true impact of the coronavirus. It wasn’t until the third week of March that the death numbers began skyrocketing. That’s when we went from 51 deaths in one week, to over 500 new deaths the following week. The week after that, it was nearly 3,000 new deaths, then 9,000, then over 14,000. In mid April, we were up over 130% of expected deaths for that week.

2) A very large percentage of these deaths (the CDC page stated 60k, but we’re close to 100k now) came after we had begun shutting things down and practicing extreme social distancing. In other words, if we hadn’t done those things, our death numbers would assuredly be much higher than they are now.

3) Lastly, the CDC does revise its reported numbers as more data comes in from medical facilities across the country. So the most recently reported figures (roughly two weeks worth) do go up. And if you check back on that same date range now, you’ll see they indeed did.

None of this is to say that we shouldn’t now be (cautiously) re-opening the economy. I personally think we should (my state — Colorado — started it a couple weeks ago). As you stated, the economic impact is devastating. The spread of the coronavirus isn’t growing exponentially like it was a few weeks ago, and that’s a result of a lot of distancing. With serious (but pragmatic) guidelines, I think this can be done relatively safely. And if some areas start seeing spikes again, as a result, they’ll probably have to reconsider some things.


Thanks, everyone! You can send me questions for next week using the form below! You can also read previous Q&A sessions by clicking here.

Off the Cuff: Even Maureen Dowd Has to Be Fair

Even opinion journalists have to be fair. They can’t simply make things up. Maureen Dowd of the New York Times recently crossed the line.

That’s the topic of my new “Off the Cuff” audio commentary.

You can listen to it by clicking on the play (arrow) button below.


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Side note: If you’re a Premium Interactive member (the $4 tier), and have a question for this Friday’s Q&A, make sure to get it to me before Wednesday night at midnight. You can use this form on my website.

No, Masks Aren’t Part of an Anti-Trump Conspiracy

Those who follow me on Twitter know that one of my irritations with the government response to the COVID-19 crisis was the early insistence from the Surgeon General and CDC that wearing masks (that cover the nose and mouth) was completely ineffective at protecting people from the coronavirus. At times, there was even the suggestion that doing so was counterproductive.

The narrative didn’t make a whole lot of sense at the time. After all, we were talking about a respiratory disease. And it’s not as if wearing a mask around infected people to block the spread of germs was a new or uncommon practice. It’s been done all over the world since before any of us were born.

As it turned out, the government was indeed being disingenuous. Dishonest is the better word.

At the time, federal agencies were concerned with a national shortage of medical-style masks for our country’s health care workers (who would be treating an increasing number of coronavirus patients). If regular folks had gobbled them all up, the problem would have gotten much worse. Thus, the answer was a disinformation campaign designed to discourage consumers from buying them.

It apparently worked. And in late March, as infection rates skyrocketed and our national strategy switched from containment to mitigation, the CDC reversed itself. The agency began recommending that everyone cover their face when out among others.

While I’m sympathetic to the situation the government was in, outright lying to Americans was a bad move. It assuredly kept people who already had masks from wearing them, as well as removed any incentive for people to make their own masks, or even wear something as simple as a bandana when they left their home.

Masks aren’t as effective as social distancing, but they do put up a barrier between the droplets that fly out of people’s mouths (when they talk, cough, or sneeze) and individuals within close proximity, which is a common transmission route of COVID-19.

In other words, masks do provide some protection for people. One can only wonder how much slower the virus’s spread could have been, had Americans understood weeks earlier the benefits of wearing them.

Anyway, that fiasco is behind us. Most Americans now get that masks are helpful. Unfortunately, some popular right-wing political commentators seem to want to take us backwards on the issue.

Earlier this week, Vice President Mike Pence took a good amount of criticism over a trip he made to the Mayo Clinic. News footage of a meeting with medical workers and patients revealed that Pence, unlike everyone else on camera, wasn’t wearing a mask. This amounted to a violation of Mayo’s health policies.

Unsurprisingly, Trump defenders in the media felt inclined to defend Pence. And the only way to defend a guy not wearing a mask, in a medical facility that requires masks, is to discount the notion that masks are even important in the first place.

Fox News’s Laura Ingraham was up for the task.

On her show Wednesday night, Ingraham explained that “social control over large populations is achieved through fear and intimidation and suppression of free thought. Conditioning the public through propaganda is also key, new dogmas replace good old common sense.”

Ironically, Ingraham wasn’t referring to the dishonesty campaign I described above, where federal officials under the Trump administration fooled Americans into believing masks were of no benefit in our battle against the coronavirus. No, she was instead taking aim at members of the mainstream media who criticized Pence for his negligence.

“They’ll say this whole mask thing is settled science, just like they do with climate change,” Ingraham said. “Of course, it’s not and they know it. Our own experts have gone from ‘masks aren’t necessary’ to ‘masks are essential, you have to wear them when you go jogging’ in just a few weeks’ time.”

Of course, Ingraham had it somewhat backwards. It wasn’t “settled science” that compelled federal officials to tell us that “masks aren’t necessary.” It was supply and demand concerns. Medical science didn’t factor into it at all. And that’s unfortunate, because if these people had presented the settled science to the public, I think Americans would have been better prepared for the crisis, and our country would be in a better position right now.

As for telling people that masks are “essential,” and that they must be worn while jogging, I’m not sure which “experts” Ingraham is referring to. I’ve certainly heard recommendations, from officials like President Trump himself, that Americans should wear masks when they’re out in public (as in close to other people). And that guidance, as I described above, makes perfect sense. But I haven’t heard any dire warnings about a need for joggers to wear masks — not if they’re maintaining a distance of at least six feet from others. It sounds to me like Ingraham was just tossing out a straw man there.

Regardless, Ingraham thinks she knows the real reason for why masks are now being widely promoted, and to explain it she quoted (or perhaps summarized) something Rush Limbaugh recently said on his radio show:

“The virus itself, as it weakens and states start reopening… The media that has been selling this panic, panic, panic for weeks and weeks and weeks — they have fewer images to sell their hysteria to justify continued lockdowns. But the masks, they’re kind of a constant reminder… You see the masks, and you think you’re not safe. You are not back to normal, not even close.”

Well there you have it, I guess. Masks aren’t being hyped because they block contagious droplets from noses and mouths. It’s because of some U.S. media conspiracy to end capitalism, or to end Trump’s presidency, or maybe both! And the conspiracy is so far-reaching that the rest of the world is doing it too!

I’m sorry, but this is just plain stupid. Worse than that, it’s dangerous. Millions of people watch Ingraham’s show every weeknight (along with the rest of Fox News’s prime-time lineup), and they buy into a lot of such nonsense.

Most of these viewers are rather old, and therefore are at a particularly high risk of serious health complications (and even death) if they get the virus. Why on earth would anyone who values the human condition be suggesting to them that they (or those around them) are contributing to our country’s economic ruin, and the unseating of a president they like, just by taking the simple preventative measure of wearing a mask?

Is defending a gaffe by Mike Pence really worth convincing our most vulnerable citizens to take unnecessary chances with their health and the health of others? Are the ratings spawned by tribal politics and our grievance culture really that important?

Unfortunately, I think I know the answer to both questions.


Bernie’s Q&A: Cuomo, Bennett, Smith, Land O’Lakes, and more! (4/24) — Premium Interactive ($4 members)

Welcome to this week’s Premium Q&A session for Premium Interactive members. I appreciate you all signing up and joining me. Thank you.

Editor’s Note: If you enjoy these sessions (along with the weekly columns and audio commentaries), please use the Facebook and Twitter buttons to share this page with your friends and family. Thank you! 

Now, let’s get to your questions (and my answers):

So recently, the Indian girl who has been on the package of Land O Lakes butter for ions, disappeared. Apparently some PC policeman woke up one morning and decided that in the name of political correctness, she needed to go. It never ceases to amaze me how with all that’s going on in the world, some people get a burr in their saddle over something as innocuous as this. I guess Aunt Jemima and Uncle Ben can’t be long for this world. SMH — John M.

Let’s leave Aunt Jemima and Uncle Ben out of this, for now. It’s bad enough that I’m going to agree with you regarding the Indian — oops, I mean Native American — on the butter package. When the backlash against PC nonsense comes, it’s going to be nasty.

Hi, Bernie, love the site, been following you for years. There is a little thing that bothers me about the way people (not just you) deal with Trump’s way of dealing with people. So the question I have is pretty simple: If you are buying a car, and you say you can’t spend more than $10,000 for it, and you end up buying the car for $12,000, would I be justified in calling you a liar? Thanks again, and hope you’re doing well in these trying times. Regards, — Chris H.

Hi Chris. Thanks for your support, and I hope you’re also doing well.

If I understand your question correctly, what you’re describing is a negotiating tactic — a bluff or a compromise. When I refer to the president’s dishonesty, I’m not talking about him bending on a deal with the Democrats, or even caving on a campaign promise. I’m talking about his frequent, demonstrably false remarks about himself, his opponents (real and perceived), events, history, his policies, etc. I’ve given plenty of examples in the past, and he provides new ones all the time.

A lot of enthusiastic Trump supporters find creative ways to frame the president’s dishonesty as something other than dishonesty (because it’s politically helpful to do so). But I don’t play that game…for either side.

Thanks again for the kind words.

If Biden were to win the presidency, I do not believe he is mentally capable of running our country. I feel he would be a puppet president, so the question begs, who would most likely be the puppet master? The Vice President he (or someone picks for him) or maybe Obama becomes his go to guy ( there by his 3rd term) or Bernie is running things? God help us but if he should win, whose really running things. Government by fiat? Thanks Bernie. — Beverly

If Biden wins, Bernie’s influence will be in the Oval Office. Why? Because in exchange for his endorsement, Bernie will have won some concessions. So Bernie will have a voice. So will the progressive wing. But Beverly, this is all based on an assumption that Joe isn’t mentally up to the job. That may be true but I can’t say at this point. Does he say incoherent things on TV?  Yes. But who knows if that’s a symptom of something serious.

Bernie, I just read your article “Bernie Sanders takes a hostage”, which I think is another good analysis. However, you left out one thing, Biden’s pick for VP. He could appease them with his VP pick. Here is how I see it. It seems almost certain that Biden is going to pick a woman as a running mate and the two most likely are Amy Klobuchar and Elizabeth Warren. If he chooses Klobuchar, he runs the risk of further alienating Sanders voters. This decision is going to say quite a lot about the direction that he is going to go. Who do you think he should pick and, if you had to guess, who do you think he will pick? –Michael T.

I wrote on my website a long time ago that if Biden wins the nomination he’ll pick a woman. Then I added, most likely a woman of color. That said, you make a good point. That his VP pick will influence, one way or another, how the Bernie Bros react. But Bernie’s base will demand more than a VP. They’ll demand that Joe move even further left … and that he give them a say on his cabinet. What’s fascinating is that Bernie lost and yet he’s the one calling the shots.

Bernie: I thought I would take a break from COVID and politics to address race and sports, especially on the heels of Jackie Robinson Day last week. Much attention is given to the decline in African-American participation in baseball, both at the youth and professional levels. In addition, the presence of black families at major league games is extremely low. Baseball and Jackie Robinson played a huge role in launching the civil rights movement of the 20th century when he broke the color line in 1947, and baseball cannot walk away from its position in American history and culture. On the other hand, participation and opportunity among the world’s nationalities is at an all-time high. While only 7% of MLB players are African-American, 42.5% are classified minorities. The rise of Latin and Asian participation is especially notable. So should baseball pay absolute attention to its declining black demographic, or should it congratulate itself for what Jackie Robinson and Branch Rickie set out to do – provide the ultimate opportunity for all races and nationalities? — Steve R.

A great big thank you, Steve, for such a thoughtful question. First, the number of black MLB players may be relatively low, but that is not the result of racism. As far as I’m concerned, that’s all that counts. Black kids apparently prefer other sports for a variety of reasons. The popularity of basketball being just one. And yes, Jackie Robinson and Branch Rickey were pioneers who did, in fact, “provide the ultimate opportunity for all races and nationalities.” And that, my friend, is something for all of us to celebrate.

On Monday, CNN’s Chris Cuomo staged his official on-camera “re-entry” up from his basement to join his family, after battling and finally recovering from the coronavirus. There was a lot of dramatic effect, including Cuomo saying he had been “dreaming of this moment for weeks.”

In reality, Cuomo hadn’t confined himself to his basement (or even his house). Earlier this month (when he was still infected with COVID-19), he and his family were seen together in front of a second property he owns (a 30-minute drive from his house), where he was openly socializing. A passerby even called him out on it, reportedly telling him, “Your brother is the coronavirus czar, and you’re not even following his [quarantine] rules.”

What do you make of this type of news-media theater? Is it an actual example of “fake news?” — Ben G.

Well, Ben, let’s begin with my definition of fake news:  It’s when a journalist flat out makes something up. When he lies about something and knows he’s lying. By that definition, Chris Cuomo is indeed guilty of fake news.

What makes this so egregious is that it wasn’t only a lie that he came out of his basement for the first time since he was diagnosed with coronavirus … it was that it was a well-documented lie.

That line between news and entertainment keeps getting fuzzier and fuzzier every day, doesn’t it?

Bernie, first of all I think we your faithful readers should be referred to going forward as The True Bernie Bros. I wanted to get your views on the recent actions and attitudes regarding the lockdown as expressed by Mayor Bill (NYC) and Governor Phil (NJ). NY seems to have found the replacement for stop and frisk : Snap N Snitch. And in NJ Gov Phil, one of the best and brightest, developed Bill of Rights Amnesia. Are those of us who hold the Constitution in high esteem (I have little doubt there are many millions who have disdain for the Constitution or at least the parts they don’t like) paranoid or should we all remember what the great Satchel Paige once said? — Michael F.

I’m pretty familiar with the great Mr. Paige but must admit I’m not at all sure what you’re referring to. Help, please.

I get your drift, Michael, but I have to say I’m not on terra firma when it comes to deciding what’s constitutional and what isn’t. For instance, the Constitution gives us the right to free speech, the right to worship, the right to assemble. But are those rights absolute? Can a state or city declare an emergency and mandate a curfew? I think government can do that. So that means you cannot protest or go to church or assemble during the curfew hours, right (or wrong)?

All that said, I did find the Governor of New Jersey’s comment on Fox that First Amendment concerns were over his pay grade … let’s just say … bad PR at best.  I don’t want to attribute bad motives to actions I don’t agree with; sometimes people just make mistakes.

As for whether you’re paranoid: I don’t think so. You’re concerned.  (And a very good writer, too.)

Thanks for the Bernie Bros comment, but the other Bernie had it first. It’s his.

Bernie – my first question for you, so allow me to state that I’ve always enjoyed your reporting- because – I typically learned something. So, thank you for creating this forum enabling that to continue for me. My question – I did watch with concern for another irrelevant news story when our president made his “total authority” declarations. All narcissism aside, he had to know better. Then I had a thought directed by my history in negotiations. I have learned that my best negotiation strategies are centered around giving the other side what they are asking for, when the side I am working for will benefit, while never letting on about my side’s value – it’s important to allow the other side to think they won. This tactic comes under the ageless wisdom of be careful what you ask for. I felt some validation on my thinking when the news line of the next few days being everyone letting the President know that constitutionally the States are in charge, eventually leading to the narrative with the typical line being, yes the states are in charge,’but we need the federal government’s help”. Your thought? — Rocco

First, Rocco, I like your negotiating philosophy. Give the other side what it wants — so long as it benefits your side too. Makes sense.

As for the president’s declaration that he has “total authority”: I think he really did believe that he can do whatever he wants. I don’t think it was a ploy that he could, at some point, turn on his adversaries — and say, “See, you should have listened to me when I said I had authority to do anything.”

I think he didn’t know what the Constitution says on the matter. I don’t believe he’s very smart. Cunning? Yes. Smart? No. So I don’t think he was negotiating when he made the comment. I think he believes — or did at the time anyway — that he’s Donald Trump, the president, and that he really could do anything he wants. The man has many problems.

Two questions this week:

1) Would you agree that the 2020 election hinges entirely on whether the American people blame Trump for the effects (economic and otherwise) of COVID-19? Methinks that if they blame him, he loses. If they don’t, he wins.

2) Shepard Smith was often the only good anchor on Fox News. When his exclusivity contract runs out and he returns to broadcasting, where do you think he lands?

— Joel E.

Thanks for the tight questions, Joel. I don’t think the 2020 election hinges “entirely” on how the electorate sees Trump’s leadership regarding the coronavirus. The key word being “entirely.” A very big part of whether he wins or loses will be on how the voters see Donald Trump, the person. If he has exhausted enough — mainly independent, swing voters, he’ll lose.

But I do agree with you that if they blame him for the virus aftermath, he loses; if they don’t, he has a much better chance of winning.

Regarding Mr. Smith: He’ll wind up, I believe, at CNN. Jeff Zucker has already spoken highly of him.

Bill Bennett (among others) recently insisted on Fox News that the coronavirus is NOT a pandemic, and that it’s no more serious or deadly than the flu. The real story, however, is that from March 20 to April 20 (one month), the coronavirus killed more Americans than the flu kills in an average YEAR. And that was WITH all the shut downs and social distancing that we’ve never done for the flu. Do you think this is an example of shocking ignorance from Bennett, or is he just telling Fox News viewers what he thinks a lot of them want to hear? — Jen R.

Good question, Jen. Over the years, I’ve interviewed Bill Bennett. I was impressed both by his intelligence and his decency. In plain English, I liked the guy. But you’ve hit on something I too have noticed. Something happened to Bennett in the Age of Trump.  I have trouble believing he suddenly has become ignorant … but when you become an apologist for a president’s behavior, maybe you also become stupid. As for “telling Fox News viewers what he thinks a lot of them want to hear” …  I admit, I’m not totally comfortable with that one, either. But it certainly is possible. He’s not the same Bill Bennett I thought I knew.  That’s all I’m sure of.

Mr. G, With almost two hours a day of repetitious questioning during the daily Virus briefings, why aren’t these savvy journalists asking questions about the mishandling and misallocating of relief funds to non essential businesses, large corporations, major universities and the like? Who the hell is managing the application approvals and allowing the payouts? This to me is the bigger problem directly after Congress approving funds in the first place for Non-virus related funding. WTF! — ScottyG

Beats me, Scotty. I might have a better answer to your question but for one problem:  Every day after the president says the same thing, word for word, for the 100th time, I slip into a coma. Apologies.

Harvard Professor Elizabeth Bartholet claims that home schooling turns children into white supremacists. She argues that many parents “homeschool precisely because they want to isolate their children from ideas and values central to public education and to our democracy. Many promote racial segregation and female subservience. Many question science. Many are determined to keep their children from exposure to views that might enable autonomous choice about their future lives.”

I don’t doubt that many DO home school because they’re uncomfortable with what’s being taught in public schools (as well as the general atmosphere and social engineering), I hesitate to promote fear mongering by saying that home schools are sneaky ways to raise children to be racists and sexists. Using Bartholet’s logic, some parents who home school their children could say that public schools are breeding grounds for violence, immorality, drugs, promiscuity and communistic thought. I’m sure she’d disagree. What are your your thoughts? –Home School Regards From The Emperor (and a friendly “Hello” from Mrs. Emperor who enjoyed your comments recently).

You have painted with a broad brush, Emperor. Yes, the professor does in fact believe that in some cases home schooling promotes sexism and racism, as you say. But here’s what a piece in Harvard magazine says about Professor Bartholet’s thinking:  That she believes “Some [parents] find local schools lacking or want to protect their child from bullying. Others do it to give their children the flexibility to pursue sports or other activities at a high level. But surveys of homeschoolers show that a majority of such families (by some estimates, up to 90 percent) are driven by conservative Christian beliefs, and seek to remove their children from mainstream culture. Bartholet notes that some of these parents are ‘extreme religious ideologues’ who question science and promote female subservience and white supremacy.”

I just wanted to give the professor her say … and put her thinking into a broader context.

It didn’t take long for Climate change advocates to find a new friend, namely COVID-19. I am a hard green guy. I believe we need to invest in our oceans to remove plastic. I believe natural gas is a great way to reduce carbon emissions. But John Kerry in a recent Boston Globe article has related the Pandemic to Global Warming. Bill Gates has warned us about a Pandemic for years. His foundation has helped reduce Malaria in the world by one half since the Millennium. But the 97% of the smart people in the world say we have to change the climate to stop malaria. Where is the scientific community on real life threats? Your opinion please. — Tim H.

The scientific community hasn’t gone anywhere.  Journalists just don’t seem especially interested in putting them in the news.  If you’re suggesting that people like Bill Gates are better equipped to deal with real life threats than scientists who spend too much time on theoretical solutions … you may be right.  Not my field of expertise.  Sorry, Tim.


A personal note from yours truly aka Bernie Goldberg: I have an admission to make. Sometimes I just don’t understand the question. Maybe I’m dense. Maybe they’re not written clearly. But I try my best to answer your questions … as I understand them. In the future, I may just tell you: “Sorry, I don’t understand your question. Maybe that’s on me; maybe it’s on you. But you might want to try again next week.”

Thanks, everyone! You can send me questions for next week using the form below! You can also read previous Q&A sessions by clicking here.

Bernie’s Q&A: Bill Maher, Joe Biden, Tara Reade, Brit Hume, and more! (4/17) — Premium Interactive ($4 members)

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Now, let’s get to your questions (and my answers):

Sites like the Blaze, Bill O’Reilly, and John Solomon’s “Just the News” seem to be gathering steam these days. I know I have been taking a look at them, as I am tired of the same old stuff ad nauseam from all the cable news, which I think is driven by placating the left and right bases but even more so, by a corporate agenda to either destroy or build up President Trump (forget journalism for the most part). I definitely am hearing a perspective and news on these sites that are not part of the cable landscape. I view your site here on Patreon as part of that trend. What’s your opinion of this development? Will it be successful? Are you satisfied with the response to your efforts? Thanks, again, for your commentary and your posts. I look forward to them as signposts in the journalistic wasteland (you can use that as a title for your next book, which I know you are eagerly anticipating…ha!) — John F.

First, many thanks for the kind words and support, John,  They are very much appreciated.

I completely agree with your analysis of cable news. It is, as you say, driven both by placating the left and right bases and “even more so, by a corporate agenda to either destroy or build up President Trump.” That corporate agenda, John, is based on your other point — placating the base. And all of it is about … MONEY … not JOURNALISM.

As for the Blaze, O’Reilly, and John Solomon, I’m not knowledgeable enough to comment with any expertise. But I caution you to keep an eye out for their biases too. All three lean right. If their choice of news does too, take note.

Thanks for your answer to my question regarding the leftist agenda and the possibility of the Democrats wrecking the economy and fundamentally transforming America if given the chance. You expressed concern if Bernie Sanders types were to be in power. My question is this: how do you define leftist policies and am I wrong in thinking that there are really no longer any moderates running the Democrat party? For example, are the following positions leftist or moderate: limitations on freedom of speech, open borders, single payer health insurance, compromising American sovereignty ( positions on UN, Iran , Paris accords etc), confiscation of guns legally acquired by millions of citizens ( I use the word confiscation in contrast to edicts limited to future gun purchases), and many other issues where all the Democrat candidates took what seem to me to be non-moderate positions? — Mike F.

The examples you cite, Mike, for the most part are not liberal positions so much as they are progressive, left radical positions. Limitations on free speech are not liberal. Open borders are not liberal. Single payer health insurance? Debatable. Confiscation of guns? Unconstitutional. There may be a few moderate Democrats left — Senator Joe Manchin from West Virginia comes to mind. But the energy and power in the party is not in the center; its on the left … and moving further in that direction.

I have been critical of the WHO, the CDC, and the FDA in my commentary on social media. And, I have been attacked personally because of that. Many believe I am making a stand for Trump, and not Dr. Fauci. But I have been critical of both. It appears dedicated Republicans and Democrats don’t want to hear either side. Let’s face it; everyone was wrong. I want a nonpartisan commission to find out why we missed the boat on this and how we take corrective measures for the future. I know you don’t like to make predictions but how do you see this playing out? — Tim H.

You’re right when you say “dedicated Republicans and Democrats don’t want to hear either side.” The passionate right and the passionate left live in bubbles — and they don’t want anyone to burst them with a new idea. As for a nonpartisan commission: At some point, I’ll predict, a commission will be established. Democrats would like it set up tomorrow hoping it will hurt Donald Trump in November. Republicans would like to hold off until after the election. As for the nonpartisan part: I don’t know that anything is nonpartisan anymore.

Explain something to me: How do violent terrorists and hooligans like Bill Ayers & Bernardine Dohrn And Rev. Al Sharpton become left wing icons of respect? Why are two Weather Underground terrorists teaching college students instead of spending the rest of their lives in prison? Why is Al Sharpton a respected Democrat who the media looks to as a voice of racial consciousness when even a lot of black Americans have no respect for that race hustler? — Power To The People (but only the politically correct people) Regards From The Emperor

Who controls most of the culture, the left or the right? Who controls the academic culture? The Hollywood culture? The news media culture? I could go on but you know the answer to all of those questions. So … Ayers and Dohrn are respected members of a certain academic and media culture because they fought against a war that the left and much of America was against.  Sharpton: He’s done enough harm to be banned from TV for life. But who controls TV? Hope this helps, Your Emperorness.

One of your tenets of media bias is that members of the press don’t get together every morning and plot the downfall of conservatives. They don’t need to. They generally all think alike and move in natural coordination. Don’t you think this is what’s happening with the Joe Biden/Tara Reade alleged sexual assault non-story? Reporters and liberals in their Zoom meetings aren’t concerned about this, have no curiosity about a liberal Democrat being accused, and it’s just not a topic of conversation in their circles. — Steve R.

Two things, Steve: When I wrote that journalists don’t get together and plot their anti-GOP strategy, it was true. But that was a while back.  Now I believe, “journalists” at CNN and MSNBC DO COME IN EVERY DAY and plot their anti-Trump business model strategy. So my opinion changed because the facts changed.

Now to Tara Reade: I have said, and will repeat here, that journalists salivate more when going after a conservative Republican than they would going after a liberal Democrat. That accounts for their lack of interest in the Biden/Tara Reade story.

Bernie, did you happen to catch Bill Maher taking shots at his fellow liberals? Every now and then his head explodes over the idiotic PC BS on the Left? [He was the Politically Incorrect guy on ABC 20 some years back] This had to do with calling the China virus – the China virus. — John M.

I saw the clip.  Maher is a strange cat. He can be a crazy left-wing screwball at times — and an old fashioned (in the good sense) liberal at other times … meaning he’s against PC BS. I like that Bill Maher a lot more than I like the crazy left-wing Bill Maher.

I imagine you will be getting other questions or comments re Bill Maher’s comments last weekend about the Wuhan or Chinese Virus. I will simply ask: What is the proper way to define “racist?” Has the left ever explained what constitutes racism and who can or should be deemed a racist? Can a non-white person be a racist? Will we ever have the dialogue ( meaning two way discussion and civil discourse) that Eric Holder called for ? If the term is used by someone in an undisciplined way, to what extent should that person be given credence in the future ( the boy who cried wolf syndrome)? — Michael F.

Because of their promiscuous use of the word “racist” the word has lost its power. Too often it means nothing — nothing more, anyway, than a way to shut people up with whom they disagree. People who throw the word around loosely lose their believability. But liberals in the media will continue to give them a platform because liberals in the media are, well, liberals.

Trump’s false claim this week that he has “total authority” over governors to “re-open” states drew a lot of pushback from members of the media, and even political allies like Liz Cheney. Brit Hume, however, took to Twitter to go after Trump’s critics. Here’s what he wrote:

POTUS claims of absolute power in Covid 19 emergency are constitutional nonsense, another of his serial exaggerations. The reaction to them are another case of media’s insistent focus on the stuff he says, as if that is more important than what he actually does. He constantly blusters and threatens all sorts of things, most of which never come to pass. In this instance, he is claiming supreme executive authority, but there is no sign he will try to exercise it. Indeed, he actions so far have been highly deferential to governors & mayors.

Brit seems to be arguing that the media should give Trump a pass on the things he says because Trump says a lot of stupid and untrue stuff (and they should just kind of be used to it by now). This seems much more like a partisan defense than a journalistic one. This idea that a president’s words are unimportant never existed before Trump. What are your thoughts on this? — Ben G.

Good question, Ben.  Let me acknowledge that I’m not a big fan of Donald Trump.  It looks like Brit was trying to criticize both sides — first saying that Trump’s statement was “constitutional nonsense.”  Between you and me, I’d have ended my tweet right there.

Since he didn’t, you make a solid point.

Bernie, I will keep it in the realm of presidential politics and bias. [In regard to the Joe Biden/Tara Reade story,] the liberal media is doing one step less than what the right-wing media did for Trump. The left may be ignoring this to help Biden. The right actively helped Trump. Trump, who has accusations against himself, brought some of Bill Clinton’s accusers to a debate with Hillary and sat them in the front. And Fox News (Hannity) interviewed them, all the while ignoring or playing down Trump’s situation. But here is my question, Bernie. How did you cover that if at all? And for the record, you are right about the liberals. I just don’t have a short or selective memory. — Douglas S.

Both sides are corrupt in my view and if one side is a tad less corrupt than the other, OK … I’d rather not get into that kind of nuance. I’ve written about the story and concluded — as I said earlier in this Q & A session that liberals in the media salivate more when going after conservatives than when going after liberals. That doesn’t mean that conservatives in the media are without fault. Hannity is a poster boy for all kinds of fault.

Mr. G, So Obama just gave us 12 a minute endorsement on why Joe Biden is more than capable of holding the most stressful job on the planet. If we are all nuts, yet we can easily see that Joe Biden, who by the way is not currently running around on a tiring, pressing and frantic campaign trail, can’t even keep his words and thoughts coherent from his cozy den; then what will the high ranking endorsing Dems and Media say in response should he bail out due to an “all of the sudden recent health related issue”? I think they’re nuts if you ask me. — ScottyG

I don’t think he’ll bail out … though I DO think the Dem establishment wishes he would. If he does, trust me Scotty, they’ll have no problem “revising” their script.

Apparently it’s okay during this pandemic crisis to push through bills and legislation that have nothing to do with COVID-19. In the past few days Virginia Govenor Northrum (also known as Govenor Blackface) has passed several anti gun laws, and decided to undo the States Voter ID law… just in time for the coming election. Not that it matters much as Virginia is a very Blue State and will go Blue in November, but someone tell me why we shouldn’t have voter ID laws? How many things can you not do if you don’t have a photo ID in this country? To many to name, but should people not have to prove who they are to vote? Democrats can deny it all they want, but this is about perpetuating voter fraud. Michelle Obama wants a system where you can print a ballot off of your computer…are you kidding me? — John M.

If you need an approved ID to get on an airplane, and get a driver’s license, and get White House press credentials, why not for an election? Democrats say the GOP wants to “suppress” voter turnout — that’s why they’re for IDs. Republicans say Democrats want everyone to vote even if they’re not legally allowed to, that’s why they don’t want IDs. I’m with you John. But we’ll never convince liberals that we’re right.

I was wondering what you thought about Vice President Mike Pence and how he is doing in his role leading the virus task force, how he handles himself in the daily media briefings when called on and in interviews he does on the various networks. It seems like he has a tough job and I wanted to get your views on he navigates it all as there don’t seem to be many profiles or stories on him for his work. Thanks. — Warren M.

Mike Pence strikes me as a very decent guy.  As for his leadership of the coronavirus task force: Some things have gone wrong. It hasn’t always been a smooth ride. But I don’t know who’s fault that is. I do know that the president makes statements that aren’t always true and that only makes the vice president’s job more difficult. You say, Warren, that it seems like he has a tough job. Bingo on that — and not only in his role as the head of the task force. Serving under this president IS a tough job no matter what the VP’s assignment might be.

I saw this story about the Kentucky governor. Even if his intentions are good, it seems extremely disturbing. Pandemic or not, I never thought any Democrat or Republican would tell law enforcement to take the license plates of those who attend church services, and then tell those people that they’re forced to quarantine for 14 days. The right to religious freedom (and due process) doesn’t come from our government but it sure as hell seems like the government doesn’t see it that way now (even if they claim they are talking about more than religious mass gatherings when pressed on the issue). Let’s not forget that the left and a large bulk of our MSM has called people racist for suggesting that China shut down its wet markets in response to this pandemic. If I understand this correctly, China needs to change nothing but we in the US need to give up our faith? Similar fear drove us to make some regretful decisions in the wake of 9-11. Do you worry we will have similar regrets when this is over, or should the ends justify the means? — Joe M.

I’m not sure that the freedom of religion outlined in our Constitution forbids government from telling people, in the event of a pandemic or other emergency, that they must shelter at home — no travel except for emergencies.   At some point the courts may have to weigh in.  But on your broader point, the government is not compelling anyone to give up their faith. Faith, as a friend of mine says,  isn’t dependent on unhindered church accessibility.


Thanks, everyone! You can send me questions for next week using the form below! You can also read previous Q&A sessions by clicking here.