Bernie’s Q&A: Sean Hannity & Seth Rich, Biden’s appearance, Manchin, Sowell, and more! (5/17) — 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.

Let’s get to your questions (and my answers):


Bernie, I am curious if you have met or appeared with either Thomas Sowell or Walter Williams. I have read many of their books and articles over the years and learned much from them. Much of my thinking was transformed and crystallized by Professor Sowell’s book, “The Vison of the Anointed.” Earlier today, in a comment to an article by Professor Williams, it was suggested that the President award both of these scholars A Presidential Medal of Freedom. Are you able to weigh in on that and are you in a position to help us all out here lend our voices and support? — Michael F.

I was on the radio with Walter Williams a while back, when he was sitting in for Rush Limbaugh.  I like him.  And I’m a very big fan of Thomas Sowell.  I’d be in favor of either or both of these men getting the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Hi Bernie, after you wrote Bias did you expect a sort of sea change in how the media reported news or was your goal more to an expose the left wing media for who they actually are. Bias was a great book, thanks. — Mike G.

Thanks Mike.  Bias — as an idea for a book — had been percolating in my head for quite a while.  When I left CBS News I decided to try to actually write it.  My goal was simply to say, This is how it is; this is how they operate. I wanted to take the reader behind the curtain.  I expected nothing.  Certainly not how popular the book became.  Since Bias came out in 2001, things have gotten worse.  Cable is one reason.  But the most prestigious papers in America have also gotten worse.  Nothing will change until they lose customers because of their bias.  Here’s the really bad news:  The customer wants bias — as long as the bias validates his own bias.

Sir Bernard–Great minds think alike….as I often agree with your LOGICAL responses. My sense is you value your privacy, which I respect….but I would ask that you consider an opportunity where your most loyal fans (myself included) can meet you in the flesh, so to speak. Hopefully, from my brief profile, I come across as a reasonably sane and balanced human being. And THANK YOU for indulging me with my multi-question submissions. Be well, do good work, and keep in touch. BTW, are you or have you been a fan of Garrison Keillor’s work? — Matthew Q.

I used to speak to audiences about my books — and in the process met all sorts of people … not all fans, by the way.  Not sure how we would accomplish a get together … I see practical logistical “issues.”  But who knows, I may be somewhere and can let you all know and maybe some gathering could come of it.  As for Garrison Keillor:  There was something about the tone of his voice, the cadence of his speech, that didn’t connect with me.  He sounded like a funeral director.  Too calm for my taste.  But hey, that’s on me, right?

Bernie, I’m a right wing guy, I make no bones about it. You often mention that bias is bias, and you are correct, guys like Hannity often states he’s not a journalist but a opinion guy, Fox News is touted as a right wing propaganda network. I disagree Hannity is up front about who he is, and in my opinion, does more investigative journalism than actual journalists! Over the past 2 years it seems like Fox has gotten stories right and everyone else got it wrong, also doesn’t the fact that they get more viewers than all cable news combined point to credibility? That’s why I believe Trump is correct labeling CNN fake news! Covington High School and Jesse Smollet just 2 examples! Your thoughts. — Ralph P.

Hey Ralph.  I understand what you’re saying, but let me try to add a few thoughts for you to consider.  My problem with opinion people on Fox and CNN and MSNBC isn’t that they give opinions instead of straight news facts.  My problem is that they’re ideologues.  Hannity and the others will praise Donald Trump for doing something that they’d condemn if Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton did the same thing. They’re not honest analysts.  They’re sycophants who cover for Mr. Trump or Mr. Obama … for liberals if they’re liberal hosts and for conservatives if they’re on Fox.  They’ll tell you what you want to hear but they won’t act on principles.  The real problem, for me anyway,  is that it’s ok with a lot of the audience, an audience that wants their own views validated.

As for fake news:  Donald Trump says journalists at times flat out make up sources, that they don’t really exist.  He’s wrong 99.9 percent of the time. The president is playing you, Ralph.  He’s putting the idea of fake news in your head — and the heads of all his most passionate supporters — so that you won’t believe negative news about him when it’s true.  All I ask is that you consider what I just wrote.  Thanks.

Bernard. My question is long so I’ll begin by apologizing for that.

Sean Hannity has shown that he’ll say pretty much anything to defend his friend, President Trump, but I think his spreading of the Seth Rich conspiracy theory was probably the most disturbing example.

Hannity tormented the Rich family for weeks by using their murdered family member as a political pawn to provide an alternate/phony explanation for Russia’s hacking of DNC e-mails. Hannity even embraced Julian Assange, who he once said (when Obama was president) should be arrested for declaring war on the U.S.

Mueller determined that Assange (arrested last month), did indeed fabricate the Rich story to draw suspicion away from Russia, who he was secretly working with. Being that Hannity lent Assange a huge television platform from which to spread that lie (which turned Assange into a hero of the MAGA people), one would think that Hannity would have suffered some professional consequences for the stunt.

That hasn’t happened. Instead (as far as I can find) Hannity hasn’t apologized or acknowledged responsibility for his role as an unwitting Russian asset who fed his audience weeks of Wikileaks/Russian propaganda. I doubt he even lost a single viewer over the fiasco. Its like it never even happened.

Who’s to blame for this lack of accountability? Is it 100% his viewers (who couldn’t care less)? Should Fox have penalized him at some point, in some way? Thank you — James

Who’s to blame?  Let’s start with Hannity, who as you correctly point out, will say pretty much anything to defend the president.  Then let’s go to Hannity’s bosses, people who put the bottom line on the top of their list of concerns (though, as I recall, management did tell him to knock off the Seth Rich misinformation).  Then there’s the audience, that loves Trump and hates just about anyone who doesn’t love Trump.  It’s a corrupt operation, James — and I’m not simply talking about opinion shows on Fox.  The other outlets follow the same business model: Tell the audience what it wants to hear … validate their biases … give them red meat so that they’ll come back for more.

Bernie: I have a theory of the American economy and economic/political perceptions I wanted to run by you. I have long struggled with the (mis)perception that the President is in charge of the U.S. economy, currently at $20 Trillion. In my opinion, no one person, committee, The Fed, etc. is “in charge” of such a large, diverse and robust force. But Presidents clearly have influence over economic activity. So what’s the explanation? My metaphor is that the economy is like a large river like the Mississippi. The President doesn’t make it flow; that’s ridiculous. The Mississippi is a huge and massive force that hurdles downriver on its own. However a President can keep it flowing unimpeded, keep it clean and unpolluted, make sure those using it do so responsibly and in coordination with each other. He/She can make sure the economic river doesn’t flow out of its banks and ruin other objects in its path (externalities). So getting outside of my metaphor, when Obama weighed down the economy with regulations and restrictions, he caused a pitiful recovery after one of the worst recessions of the past 50 years. While Trump gets credit for deregulation and tax cuts, he gets demerits for these Chinese tariffs. Let’s put to bed this notion that the President is in charge of the economy. The people in charge are those huge, thick and willing participants in the daily exchange of goods and services (otherwise known as capitalism). You like my river analogy, or no? — Steve R.

Me Likey! I totally agree with you, Steve.  I just told my barber a few days ago that no president is “in charge” of the economy.  The real people who run the economy are businesspeople, big and small, and their customers.  People like my barber. But, as you say, presidential policies can do things to keep the river running smoothly — or they can do things to muck it up.  You nailed it, Steve.

What is your opinion of drivers who advertise the COEXIST bumper stickers? My personal opinion is that they are naive at best, and arrogant at worst for this reason: I may be wrong, but it always appeared to me that the bumper stickers are NOT aimed at addressing the ones who actually SHOULD take the attitude that we need to COEXIST with one another. As another bumper sticker reads: “I can’t coexist with people who want to KILL ME!” Your thoughts are appreciated. Best Regards—The Emperor

Look at it this way, Emperor:  The original COEXIST number stickers represent 3 major religions: Christianity, Judaism and Islam.  The greater of the bumper sticker was simply sending out a hopeful message that we should all live side by side peacefully.  You can’t possibly be against that, right? The message is aimed at everybody.  Is it a tad idealistic.  Sure. So? You think the message is aimed at you — and you don’t need the pep talk, the other guy does.  Emperor, we’re polarized enough already.  Let it be.

Last Sunday I heard Mark Levin’s program at 10 on Fox. He had a guest who was a constitutional prosecutor who outlined unequivocally why Trump did not commit obstruction. Did you hear his program and what do you think?? I don’t feel he obstructed the investigation because he asked McGann to talk with Rosenstein about firing Mueller because he had a conflict of interest. — Jeffrey W.

I did not see the program, Jeffrey, but I have some thoughts on your question.  Mark Levin is a smart man but every week he has people on who agree with him; people who say the kind of things Fox viewers want to hear.  You tell me:  Has he ever had anyone on who had a view contrary to his?  Has he ever had a liberal on who told him something he hadn’t considered?  Do you think he wants to have an interesting conversation or just feed the viewer what the viewer wants to consume? CNN and MSNBC are just as bad.  I’m worn out by all of them, though, in fairness, Levin does have interesting people on his show.

Is it my imagination (I doubt it) or has Joe Biden had plastic surgery recently? He looks stretched out and gaunt and older. I just saw some older pictures of him with President Obama and the smile lines, wrinkles and fullness are more appealing. Or is this something you’re not supposed to notice or talk about? He was open about his hair plugs, wasn’t he? — John F.

According to an April 28th story in the Daily Mail: “Former Vice President Joe Biden has undergone numerous cosmetic procedures to alter his appearance, including Botox, hair transplants, and dental work, plastic surgeons say.

“Surgeons say that Biden, 76, who polls show is the front runner in the race for the Democratic nomination for president, began to look noticeably different during the 2008 campaign.”

So you’re onto something John.  The article concludes with this:  “Biden has never confirmed undergoing any of the procedures, nor has he spoken about his appearance publicly.”

Hi Bernie, I dislike when people complain about things without offering solutions, so never do so myself. A few years ago I came up with some solutions to what I consider to be the nation’s biggest problems. For example I determined, following a root cause analysis, that the biggest problem we have is how few people understand our own economic system. Aware that there are hundreds of museums in DC dedicated to everything from art, to spying to space, and even to news, but none to our system of economics, I outlined a plan for a Museum of Capitalism where parents could take their kids and learn about the prosperity and innovation that free markets bring. (and maybe some politicians, commentators, and journalists too) Recently, I have added to the ‘problem list’ the attacks on due process and free speech — not by government — but by campus mobs, censorship by tech companies, and social media police. But I wanted to ask your opinion about the other ‘new problem’: incompetence in journalism. I was in the automotive business and obviously familiar with the ISO-9000 standards to assure quality and wondered if there were journalism standards developed by an independent non-governmental body like ISO and a monitoring system. It sure seems that the business of journalism is lacking in standards and accountability. — Michael E.

Here’s a link to the standards put out by the Society of Professional Journalists.

But, and forgive me for stating the obvious … No one goes to journalism jail if they don’t follow the rules, which aren’t really rules, but guidelines.

Hello again, Mr. Goldberg! Last time I asked you a question regarding citizen journalists and cited a pair of examples, though I am more interested in the concept of them than the examples themselves. This week I would like to ask you about taxpayer funded media (ex. BBC in UK, and SVT on TV and SR on the radio in my country of origin, Sweden). Is this concept good or bad? Why/why not? — Carl-Simon Pihl

I’m not a fan of tax funded media, Carl-Simon.  I understand that in theory the journalists are not beholden to their benefactor — the federal government.  But what if the news organization displays biases against either Democrats or Republicans.  Will there be retaliation by the offended party?  Maybe.  Even if there isn’t, journalists should be free to cover government without wondering if the government they’re covering will cut off their funds.  I know it works in other countries.  And I realize that the U.S. government funds, to some extent, NPR and PBS.  I just don’t like it.

What is your opinion of the Better Angels Nonprofit Organization that is attempting to help unify (or depolarize) the country? — Ival S.

Their heart is in the right place.  Anything that might unify or depolarize the country is worth a try.  But I’m not Pollyanna.  It may be asking too much for the organization to have much influence on our deeply divided country.  But like chicken soup, it couldn’t hurt.

Bernie: What is your perspective on the issue of guns, the second amendment and related issues. Does the right to bear arms really protect us in this modern age? — William W.

The Supreme Court has decided that Americans have the right to have guns.  I have no problem with that.  In fact, I believe the bumper sticker notion that if the government outlawed guns only outlaws would have guns.  But in the past when I’ve written that all rights come with limitations — including the First Amendment — so you have no right to have a surface-to-air missile in your backyard, I’ve heard from gun people who were not happy with me; they believe that limitations are nothing more than a slippery slope. People have a right to protect themselves, they have a right to have guns, but there are limits, as I say — and if they’re reasonable, I have no problem with them.  Of course, what I think is reasonable may not be what the other guy thinks is reasonable.

Mr. Goldberg, Like you, I believe that the news media should provide us the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. Which is why I am so appalled – and presume you are, too – by how the biased media have for so long gotten away with hiding from the American people the real story about all these “no fly zones” our government has been creating in foreign lands. Every one of them is in a country whose leaders hate America – yet we do for them something truly wonderful that we don’t do for our own country. You and I and our fellow Americans have to swat flies – yet our tax dollars are enabling people living under the rule of some of our worst sworn enemies not to have to. There’s no area in America that is off limit to flies, right? But at our cost foreign adversaries enjoy huge spaces where their people are guaranteed never to be bothered by flies. You can be sure these despots are taking the credit for eliminating the menace of flies; they sure aren’t telling their people to be grateful to America.

Two questions:

  1. Why do you think the media never ask presidential or congressional candidates to state a position on this important issue?
  2. As someone with such an abundance of awards for insightful reporting and such a well deserved reputation for sound thinking and great analysis, do you have any suggestions for how we the people might be able to arouse public opinion enough to put an end to this disgraceful practice?

You’re funny.  Ever think of going pro?

To follow up on your response regarding the positive qualities of Joe Manchin in the “truth to power” question posed last week, I’ve often thought that he leans Republican regarding his support of the Kavanaugh confirmation and his support of fossil fuels in his coal rich state. Have you heard any conjecture regarding the possibility of him switching parties? What is your opinion on this topic? He clearly does not fit the vision of the ultra liberals who now run the Democratic Party. — Ken M.

He should switch parties and I keep hoping he will.  But I don’t think it’ll happen.  He’s a lifelong Democrat and a switch to the other side wouldn’t be easy for him.  But you’re right, Ken, he clearly does not fit the vision of the lefties who run the Democratic Party.Maybe someday he’ll get fed up with their left-wing nonsense.  One can hope, right?

Bernie, I think that “Unreported News” (for lack of a better term) has long been more of a problem with news reporting than “Fake News”. For example stories like Fast & Furious, Benghazi, or the IRS and VA scandals during the Obama administration as well as the classified email abuse, etc… during Hillary’s campaign I’d often see first on Fox News or on conservative websites, and then updated regularly. At the same time CNN, MSNBC, the Big 3 nightly news broadcasts along with the major newspapers would seem to only grudgingly and briefly report on, or in some cases outright ignore, such a subject until it came to a point they no longer could and had to give it the coverage it deserved. I realize that it goes both ways; that Fox News et al. tend not to harp on Republican or Trump’s controversies, missteps and failures. Do you have any thoughts on news organizations ignoring or undereporting news they think could hurt “their side” of the political spectrum? — Barry R.

I’m glad you added that last thought, Barry … about how it goes both ways.  Because it does.  You’re absolutely right that unreported news is a bigger problem than so-called fake news.  It’s not only a form of bias, it’s journalistic corruption.  It’s most obvious in the cable news business — the key word being “business.”  Because that’s why it happens: Money.  As I’ve said many times before, it’s about giving the audience what it wants to hear.  And, to your question, NOT giving the audience what it doesn’t want to hear.

Facebook continues to silence/ban conservative thought under the “they’re breaking our rules of conduct” excuse which apparently consists of posting non liberal viewpoints. All the while vile liberal posts continue with impunity. My question, when do you think the FCC will step in and treat it like any other public communication forum? Hold it’s feet to the fire. If ever……. — John M.

As much as I’m against silencing voices social media sites don’t like, I’m against the federal government stepping in.  I’m probably in the minority on this, but I see these companies as purveyors of information not unlike old school newspapers.  The NY Times, for example, can ban any voices it chooses to.  It can publish letters to the editor only from liberals.  They can ban conservative voices on the editorial page.  It’s not good, but the government has no right to “fix” the problem.  But, as always, I can be wrong — especially about this because I’m not a social media guy.

Mr. G, In view of the biases and misleading reporting by pretty much every medium, except a select few, where is one to go for simply honest and objective news? I read the WSJ and enjoy most of their paper, but it is limited news for the most part. So, any recommendations? — Terry J.

It’s a good question, Terry, and the best I can offer is to go to more than one place for news.  If you like the WSJ then check out the NYT also. The problem, of course, is that too often bias creeps into hard news reporting.  Sometimes it shows up by what the paper doesn’t cover. (See an exchange between Barry and me above.)  I’ve said before that on TV, I like Special Report on Fox.  I think they’re straight shooters.

Is William Barr the only adult in the room? — William W.

It sure looks that way, William.

 


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: Mike Tyson, Tucker Carlson, U.S. Senators, George Soros, and more! (5/10) — 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.

Let’s get to your questions (and my answers):


Sir Bernard—Can you kindly comment on the following:

  1. Which current U.S. Senator do you believe to be the most credible, worthy of speaking truth to power.
  2. Can you comment on any behind-the-scenes feedback regarding the uh-oh moment during Presidential candidate Clinton’s interview on 60 Minutes
  3. Would you care to share with your supporters, 2 legitimate news organizations that you consider to be truly fair and balanced
  4. Who is the most impressive professional athlete (to include quality of character) that you have personally met.

Thank you for indulging me, as I missed last week’s deadline for submitting my questions. — Matthew Q.

Here you go, Matthew:

  1.  If “truth to power” is the main criterion, I’m coming up blank.  Some, on a particular issue, will show backbone.  But profiles in courage are hard to come by.  Everybody’s on either the blue team or the red team  and they usually don’t color outside the lines.  But if we’re talking credible, who’s smart and trustworthy, I’ll give you a list — not just one name.  If you see this as a copout, let me know next week and I’ll narrow it down to one.  In no particular order:  Mitt Romney, Lindsey Graham, John Kennedy, Marco Rubio, Tim Scott, John Thune.  I like Joe Manchin but he’s on a team that doesn’t let him speak truth to power — unless his vote doesn’t matter.    For the record, I don’t agree with everyone on my list all the time, of course, but they all have good qualities, I think.
  2. I think the biggest uh-oh moment is when they realized the light was coming down and might kill a future president and his wife. But here’s something “civilians” don’t know:  According to a 60 Minutes source, “Mike Wallace threatened to fire his entire team because it was a Steve Kroft producer, not one of his, who landed the interview.”  I believe it!
  3. For hard news, I like Special Report on Fox.  I no longer watch network news and very little CNN or MSNBC.  (I don’t watch much Fox either, these days.  I’m trying to stay clear of the polarization on all 3 major cable news channels.)
  4. I like Charles Barkley, Shaquille O’Neal and Kenny Smith a lot — all 3 who are on TNT’s basketball show.  I like their honesty, their personalities and their smarts.  No snobs in that group.

I surprisingly love your Friday Premium Q & A. I imagine when you started it, you had no idea how it would go, much like your premium subscription which I hope is doing well. Have you yet gotten to the point of, “Man this is a lot of work reading and answering all these questions?” — James G.

Not quite.  But I have been surprised by some of the questions I’ve received.  I get questions about all sorts of things, some of which I know absolutely nothing about.  Different things interest different people, I guess.  I’m waiting for the questions about personal relationships.  “I like pizza but my wife/girlfriend doesn’t.  Should I dump her, Bernie.” Please don’t.  I’m begging you.  But generally, I like the questions and try my best to answer them.  But … and this is an important but … I’m not a Renaissance Man.  So please, amigos, be reasonable.

Over your career, you’ve interviewed some pretty huge celebrities (in entertainment, sports, politics, etc). Are there any that you secretly felt starstruck around, to the point that it made the interview run less smoothly than others? — John D.

Nope.  I won’t let myself go down that road.  I’m conscious of the lure of stardom. I spent 4 days with Paul McCartney — and was a big Beatles fan.  But I went into that interview as a journalist, not a fan.  Good question, John, and I’m glad I got the opportunity to respond.

Hi Bern. When you interviewed boxer Mike Tyson a while back (I think for RealSports), I remember him getting emotional over one of your questions, telling you that you needed to leave, and quickly standing up. Keeping in mind Tyson’s unpredictable past (think incidents like Holyfield and the ear, lol), were you worried at any point about your safety (having pushed the wrong buttons)? — Al J.

Editor’s note: Below is the exchange:

It was a scary moment.  He was telling me about the death of his daughter and as you say he got very emotional.  Then he leaned in — we were inches apart — and said something like, “You’re going to have to go now.”  At that point he was very calm.  That’s what made it scary for some reason.  Then he got up and left.  But while walking upstairs, he broke down and started crying.

Here’s some behind the scenes info:  When he was upstairs, out of sight, the producer said to me, “Are we going to leave?”  I said, “Hell no, he’ll be back.”  And he was.  He had calmed down.

One more thing:  Mike Tyson is a lot smarter than he’s given credit for.  His rough guy manner masks a native intelligence.

What is your opinion of Tucker Carlson’s approach and show? — Randy

Not a fan.  The formula gets old in a hurry.  He tells the guest, “Thanks for coming on” then works him over.  The problem is, even when the guest makes sense, even when the guest is smarter than the host, Tucker argues with him because that’s how it works on cable.  I find him tiresome.

Bernie, are you as thrilled as I am to see Lara Logan joining in unmasking the ultra biased MSM? Guessing you are! — John M.

I like Lara and I’m glad she’s speaking up.  I did it, as you know, in 1996.

Is George Soros really the sinister James Bond villain that many right wingers claim him to be? Many on the left claim that Soros is simply some boogeyman created by paranoid conservatives and that in reality, Soros is NOT funding Black Lives Matter, ANTIFA, and any number of other violent left wing groups. What specific evidence is there that Soros is funding these subversive groups and that he really is a villain worthy of a James Bond movie? On a lighter note, if the Bond franchise of the days of Sean Connery and Roger Moore were active, whom do you think would be the actor to play Soros the Bond villain? Best Regards –The Emperor

The Right doesn’t like Soros because he really does fund a lot of left wing organizations.  Even if it’s not BLM or Antifa, he does shell out a lot of money to keep left wing operations afloat.  Hey, it’s his money and he can spend it any way he wants.  And conservatives have every right to point that out.  What actor could play Soros?  Alec Baldwin?  Sean Penn?  Michael Moore (I know he’s not an actor, but close enough)?  Like any of them, Emperor?

Can you please share how the election of Donald Trump has affected your relationships with family and friends who are viciously anti-Trump? What is your advice as to how someone should relate to friends who have essentially shunned them because of differences with respect to political issues? — Michael F.

I make clear to friends, let’s talk about something else, anything other than Donald Trump.  He takes up too much of our time.  As for my advice:  If a friend shuns you — or anyone — because of political differences, then the person isn’t really a friend.  The person wants his supposed friend to agree or be banned?  Fine.  Ban me, but I’m not changing my opinions to make some ideologue happy.

According to your IMDB page (among more well known BG television credits), you wrote an episode of Law & Order, and appeared on a 1960’s episode of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood. Are these citations correct, or did someone confuse you with a different Bernard Goldberg? — Bob

I didn’t write the Law & Order episode, but it was based on a story I suggested.  That’s what the on-air credit says.  As for Mr. Rogers … not me.

Do you think Trump would serve his cause better if he stopped saying “fake news” and instead called it what we had before, when he came on the scene: “Liberal Media Bias”? — Barry

Yes.  Trump calls it “fake news” because he wants his loyal fans to think journalists are making stuff up out of nothing; that they’re inventing non-existent sources.  And many of his loyal fans buy into it. Mr. Trump knows what he’s doing.  It’s a cynical ploy to divert attention from him and onto the hated media.  If it’s liberal bias — and it often is just that — call it liberal bias.

I would argue that the Democrat party better renamed the New Democratic Socialist (OXYMORON) Party has embraced totally the 2009 declaration of Obama to “fundamentally transform America.” 1) Can the now defunct Party of Truman and Kennedy survive?” 2) Are the Democratic Socialists out to destroy the vision of the Founders and Framers? 3) Can America and We, the People survive as the fracture of Left Right divides the nation even MORE? — Geoff M.

  1.  The party of Truman and Kennedy went bye bye.  It can come back if the hard left loses elections and the grownups come to their senses and move closer to the middle.
  2. The progressives are out to make America in their image — not the Founders image.
  3. If the polarization continues unabated, this country will be in great peril.  We survived a Great Depression and two World Wars.  I guess we’ll survive the fracture you ask about.  But it won’t be easy.

Mr. Goldberg, You’ve mentioned broadcast journalists whom you find worth following (such as Brit Hume). What print or on-line columnists do you find it useful to follow and why? — Fred E.

Dan Henninger, Karl Rove, Kimberly Strassel, William McGurn  — and a few others who also write for the Wall Street Journal.  I find David Brooks and Brett Stephens of the New York Times occasionally interesting. And I like lots of writers at National Review — David French and Victor Davis Hanson top that list.

Hello again, mr. Goldberg! I was wondering about your opinion on citizen journalists (like Tim Pool) and reporters funded by Patreon (Dave Rubin of the Rubin report for instance). Are they a good thing? Why/why not? Are they an option to keep mainstream media bias in check? — Carl-Simon Pihl

The Internet, like the Universe, is pretty big — and getting bigger by the second.  I can’t keep up with either.  I know a little about Tim Pool, but not enough to comment on him or Dave Rubin. My apologies.

Do you think AG Barr will uncover the nefarious activities of the FBI in the Russian hoax? Do you think it was ok’d by Obama himself and members of his administration? — Ralph P.

To your first question, Ralph, I sure as hell hope so.  Regarding the second, don’t know.  Stay tuned.

You once wrote that when it comes to setting the agenda for the mainstream press, the New York Times is the leader of the pack. In the years that have followed, do you believe that has changed or remained the same? — Alex P.

I was told by a former CBS News executive that they no longer take their cues from the New York Times.  I think they do.  If the reporters at the Times went on strike, I’m not at all sure the people who run the news divisions at CBS, NBC and ABC would know what to put on their shows that night.  Since I no longer watch a lot of network news, I can’t say the Times is as big a factor as it used to be, but I’m guessing it is.

Recently, there were were a couple of stories that indicated that Social Security and Medicare are facing insolvency in a few years. While I have praised outlets that have reported the dire situation confronting the U.S. why have others been silent? — Alex P.

I think the main reason is because Social Security and Medicare aren’t sexy subjects.  Another reason is that it’s going to happen down the road, not tomorrow.  Of course that doesn’t stop journalists from reporting on climate change — but the “end of the world” story is more interesting than a numbers story that mainly affects a demographic age group TV doesn’t care that much about.

What exactly has President Trump done to improve the economy? When he took office wasn’t the economy already improving? Will the perception of a good economy cause it to improve more? Thank you. — George V.

First, yes the economy was recovering from the great recession.  But president’s preside over the economy and if things go south they get more blame than they deserve, so it’s understandable that they get more credit than they deserve when the economy is booming. That said, the president did cut regulations that were strangling business and he did lead the way on a corporate tax cut.  Both of those things helped the economy.  So he deserves some credit.  The perception of a good economy may help improve the economy, but perception only works when there’s something resembling a strong economy behind the perception.

Hello Mr. Goldberg, I’m in a bit of a quandary. Facebook has recently banned several right wingers (along with Minister Farrakhan whom they ridiculously labeled as a “right winger”), and so the controversy started over the free speech question. Some say that Facebook is a private company that has the right to accept or deny anyone they want according to their rules. Okay, but then wouldn’t this also apply to Christian bakers who own their own private companies, and shouldn’t said Christian bakers be allowed the same rights that Facebook has of denying service to clients that they don’t want to deal with because it violates THEIR personal beliefs? And hypothetically speaking, if the Christian bakers at the heart of the original controversy had been Muslims named Mohammed and Fatima, do you believe that there would ever have been any lawsuit or attempts to shut them down that occurred to the Christian baker? Somehow I cannot help thinking that the same people supporting shutting down the Christian bakers for refusing to cater a gay wedding would be standing by that same bakery had they refused to bake a wedding cake for a Westborough Baptist Church couple—a wedding cake that says “God Hates F*gs” and “Thank God For I.E.D.s and Dead Soldiers”===Your thoughts? — The Emperor

This is a complicated question, but I would expect nothing less from The Emperor. One could make the case that a private company like Facebook may establish its own rules based on corporate values and ban whoever it wants, within reason.  I think if Facebook banned African Americans it would be found guilty of discrimination under all sorts of laws.  I’m not sure the analogy holds up with the Christian baker.  The baker opened shop on a public street and opened his business to the general public. If gays are protected under state law, the case could — repeat could — be made that there is discrimination here.  But the baker says he’s the one being discriminated against, that he has rights too.  Here we have competing rights.  In the case of Facebook, I don’t think we do.  Alex Jones doesn’t have a right to be on Facebook.  As I say, this is complicated.  And the best place for resolution is in the courts — where the case is absolutely clear cut, not one based on a narrow, technical issue.  As for the Muslim part of your question (and the Westborough Baptist Church part) … let’s just say you may be on to something.

I’m guessing my answers won’t satisfy, but it’s the best I’ve got.  This space works best for less complicated questions.  It doesn’t work so well for long, nuanced discussions.  Just sayin’ …

Who in the Sam Hill uses the name “emperor” when everyone one else is candid enough to provide at least a first name when submitting a question to you? — Terry J.

Hi Terry. Some people prefer to use a screen-name online for privacy reasons. I’m fine with this as long as they aren’t stealing a different person’s identity to misrepresent that individual.

 


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Bernie’s Q&A: Stewart, Lemon, Watters, and more! (5/3) — 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.

Let’s get to your questions (and my answers):


As a journalist, are you ever embarrassed for the profession when networks like CNN and “hosts” (like Don Lemon and Chris Cuomo) act as though they are truly unbiased, truth seekers and acting as watchdogs for government overreach? For example, if Trump people were given immunity the way Hillary people were, do you think that CNN would totally ignore that as they did with Hillary’s group? Though as I write that, I realize that is a dumb question as the answer is obvious. — James G.

Not a dumb question, James, but they’re the ones who should be embarrassed for what they’ve done to journalism.  IF they don’t know how biased they are, then they’re delusional.  If they do, then they’re corrupt.  Either way, there’s a great big problem.  I’ve never seen the media as bad as it is in the age of Trump.  He brings a lot on himself.  But just because they loathe him, doesn’t give them carte blanche to beat up on him.  Even liberals notice the bias.  And the credibility of the profession sinks.

Hi Bernie. Really love your takes on bias in Media as a freelancer in sport. I work in a western European country we have a mainstream media that is generally liberal and left like the rest of the West with few truly neutral or conservative voices. I don’t mind sports reporters having political/social/moral beliefs or opinions. I just don’t like them making expressing those beliefs more important than their actual work covering sport. As someone working in Sports Reporting it bothers me that those in a freelance capacity like myself can’t bring the issue up with those who avail of my services for fear of losing work. How would you suggest bringing this up in a professional way? — A Sports Writer

You’re right.  If as a freelancer you challenge the biases, you could lose work.  Vent right here with me, but don’t do anything foolish.  At some point in your career you may have the money and the clout to speak your mind.  But I suspect that time hasn’t yet arrived.  Consider me a friend you can chat with.

Mr. Goldberg, I enjoyed your book “100 People Who Are Screwing Up America”. As I recall, you went on the Daily Show to discuss the book and Jon Stewart smugly dismissed the book because it included many perceived unimportant people rather than (presumably conservative) lawmakers. Did he not read the book like the hosts of another show you were on or do you think he just missed (or ignored) the point that many of these so-called unimportant people were actually symptoms of larger problems in our culture? Also did you hear back directly from any of the people on the list of 100? — Brian

In fairness to Mr. Stewart, his position was that what government did was more important than what those who influence the culture did.  It’s not a crazy position.  My book was about the culture — and those who were, in my opinion, screwing things up. Reasonable people can disagree on which takes a greater toll on the nation — government or a crummy culture.

I heard from the head of the ACLU who was very polite and wanted to meet me so he could explain the ACLU to me.  The ball was in my court and I never followed through.  But again, he was quite civil about the whole thing.

Howard Stern said something about it on his radio show … and Jerry Springer did too.  Neither was especially upset. They may have even been flattered.

Hello, mr. Goldberg! I have followed your work since I found one of your books in the Stanford campus bookstore during a visit from Sweden (my country of origin and where I am currently). I am interested in your take on which president has eroded the least amount of liberty from the American people and why? — Carl-Simon P.

Glad to hear that one of my books made it into the Stanford University bookstore.  I spoke to a class at Stanford a few years ago.  The students seemed interested.  The professor — and a few others who came in to listen — weren’t impressed.  They all worked for major newspapers before arriving at Stanford — and didn’t believe what I was saying about bias.  Let’s just say I wasn’t shocked.

Now to your question:  Not sure what you mean by “eroded the least amount of liberty.”  Does that mean … which president took away less liberty?  In any case, I’m not a historian so I’m not equipped to answer your question.

Even though you’re not asking this, let me say that in a country of more than 300 million people, I’m constantly amazed that the choice for president so often comes down to the kind of people who get the nominations. Hillary an Donald are two good examples.  Better people, I guess, are smart enough not to enter politics in the first place.

Over the years, I’ve heard people like Juan Williams and the late Alan Colmes referred to as Fox News’s “token liberals.” The implication being that they’re not skilled or particularly effective liberal commentators, but rather dupes (or foils) for network’s Republican/pro-Trump hosts to take a partisan hatchet to.

While there’s certainly truth to the idea that they’re often placed into “fall guy” positions (outnumbered and beat-up on for the pleasure of FNC’s right leaning audience), I don’t feel like they’re intellectually inferior to, or any less effective than, the liberal commentators found on the liberal networks. In fact, I think people like Williams (while overtly partisan at times) put a better, more reasonable face on liberalism than the others.

What are your thoughts on this topic, and can you share some personal views on Williams and the late Alan Colmes. — Jen R.

I agree with you, Jen, that they’re not intellectually inferior or any less effective than liberal pundits on other channels. But on those other channels it’s the conservative who’s a token.

I think they’re all referred to as “tokens” not because of anything to do with brainpower, but as my dictionary defines “token”: “a member of a group (such as a minority) that is included within a larger group … a token employee.”  That’s how they use the word.

I have spoken to Juan on several occasions.  I like him personally and think he’s quite bright — smarter than several conservatives at Fox, whose names I won’t bother to mention.  Alan was a good guy too, but when he was teamed up with Hannity, he had a role to play.  He believed in what he said, I have no doubt about that … but he always had to take the liberal position to conform with the show’s format.  I once made a point on that show and Alan said something that kinda, sorta annoyed me.  I looked at him and said something like, “Have you heard a single word I just said?”  He had.  But, as I say, he had a role to play.

Bernie- There’s been an emergence of young, knowledgeable, articulate conservative voices, such as Ben Shapiro, Candace Owens, Dave Rubin, as well as the folks at Campus Reform, the College Fix, & the Daily Wire. My observation is that these folks are making headway with thoughtful young voters through social media to a degree greater than the publicity around these groups would appear to demonstrate. Meanwhile, I am pretty sure that Brad Parscale is aware of this group of voters, and influencers. I also think this group I refer to could affect the 2020 election while not necessarily influencing the polling leading to the election. Do you have any opinion about this subject? — Joseph R.

Here’s my opinion, Joseph:  I hope you’re right.

I hope they are making headway as you suggest.  I hope they are swaying young voters.  Not sure why you think they might not influence the polling.  Because they only have cell phones and some polling calls mainly landlines?  Also not sure there are enough of those young people moving to the conservative side to have a great affect on the 2020 election.  But as I say, I hope you’re right.

Hey Bernie, What did you think of the 1999 film, “The Insider,” about the 60 Minutes / big tobacco story? You were still at CBS News when this was going on. — Thomas K.

Here’s what Jeff Fager, then the executive producer of the CBS Evening News and who later took over at 60 Minutes said about what was going on at the network:

“It was a low point in our history and it wasn’t, I think, anybody’s fault at the broadcast,” Fager says. “60 Minutes was under incredible pressure from the corporation.”

He’s right.  CBS was in the process of being sold and CBS management was worried about a multi-billion dollar lawsuit that might screw up the deal.  The legal department ordered 60 Minutes not to run the story — and as I recall the top management of the news division went along with the order.  That’s what really annoyed a lot of CBS News people.  The Wall Street Journal scooped 60 Minutes with a front page story. Nine days later 60 Minutes ran its story.

The story was of huge importance.  Fager said, “This was a watershed moment in understanding what cigarette smoke does and the company’s complicity in trying to get people addicted.”

But here’s the most “important” part:  I’m in the movie.  Or more accurate, my name is.  The character playing Dan Rather is on a TV set in the background and says something like “Tonight on Bernard Goldberg’s America …” and a nanosecond later the Mike Wallace character blows up upon hearing news CBS won’t run his story.  The blowup stole the scene.  But I was in the movie, for a brief moment.

Editor’s note: Here’s that brief moment (graphic language warning):

Hello Bernie. Longtime fan of your columns and really enjoyed watching your segments on O’Reilly, even moreso when you were allowed to finish your point without interruption. Regarding the Talking Heads seen on the cable news channels… I’ve often wondered if some of them really believe in what they’re saying and the positions they take, or if it was just an act for when they were on-air. Have you ever talked to someone in a Green Room, etc.. who appeared to be a mild-mannered centrist but then turned into a raging left/right wing pundit when in front of the camera? And a second, baseball related question if you have room and time: What are your thoughts about the “Designated Hitter” possibly coming to the National League? As somewhat a baseball purist who prefers the National League (and specifically the Atlanta Braves) I would hate it to see it happen. But I also realize MLB is trying to broaden interest in their product and another hitter in the line-up could mean more action, scoring, etc… — Barry R.

The only person who was really different off the air than on the air was … wait for it … Bill O’Reilly.  Off the air he’s really low key. I pointed this out to him once, in a car heading to dinner, and he said, he could never keep up the on air Bill off the air because it would be too exhausting.  I never told that story publicly before, Barry.

As for the baseball question:  Isn’t there an old saying about how baseball is a perfect game except for … the designated hitter?  As a purist, I can understand why you’re against it.  I’ve accepted it, but the reason it’s there at all is because of what you say:  MLB was trying to get another big hitter in the lineup to please the customer.  Purists weep.  But baseball is a business, after all.

A lot of Fox News hosts have turned into Trump advocates in recent years. However it’s still weird to watch someone like Jesse Watters righteously scold Trump’s critics, then when called out for a double standard (like when Trump has done the same thing as his critics), smirk and jokingly say something like “I’m not going to talk about that,” or “It’s not the same, and we’ll leave it at that.” His other hosts on the Five laugh, because he’s basically admitting that he’s just playing a character role and has no principled/sincere argument. And he seems quite proud of it.

My question: If a commentator on a news network basically admits on the air that he’s full of crap, and is just saying whatever he is saying to fire up the audience, why do producers allow it? I understand the difference between reporting and analysis, but doesn’t “fake” or “admittedly unfair” analysis make a mockery of the network? — Edward D.

I like this question, Edward.  Re Jesse Watters:  He’s an embarrassment.  And I blame Bill O’Reilly for his climb up the Fox ladder– Bill having featured him on the Factor.  He cannot and should not be taken seriously.  Nor should anyone else who employs the double standard you correctly mention.  But it’s not the producers who allow it.  They’re part of the problem.  Fox, like CNN and MSNBC, makes money by reinforcing the biases of the audience.  The producers would howl if Jesse or anyone else said, I criticized Obama for such and such and now I’m going to bash Trump for doing the same thing.

And yes, it makes a mockery of the network.  But the people in charge not only don’t care — they want it that way. Partisans like Jesse Watters are what Fox wants on its air.  Pathetic!

Hi Bernie – In your book, “100 People Who Are Screwing Up America”, George Soros was #19. I thought for sure his money and influence would keep Trump from becoming President. If he thought Bush was a Nazi, what is Trump? Would he move up on your list if you were to write the book with today’s top 100? I know you swore off writing any more books, but how about a quick top five list for 2019? Enjoying my membership. — Evelyn

Here are a few more than 5 … in no particular order:

Jeff Zucker — for screwing up CNN

Joe Scarborough — for losing his mind and not realizing it

Dean Baquet, exec editor NY Times — for letting so much bias creep into his news coverage

Jim Acosta — for corrupting the role of White House Correspondent

Adam Schiff — because his passive-aggressive manner annoys the hell out of me

Rob Reiner/Robert De Niro — as representatives of liberal Hollywood hate and intolerance

Elite University Presidents — who not only cave to liberal snowflakes, but actually condone and agree with their authoritarian anti-liberal behavior

Jussie Smollett — because race isn’t something you fool around with in America

(Note to my liberal friends:  Donald Trump is not on this list for two reasons.  1.  he’s done a lot of good, the economy for example. 2. He’s in a class all by himself)

Given the benign perception of socialism provided by the mainstream media, will its Totalitarian Dictatorship take hold again if the people give Bernie Sanders their full support. Enemies of the State etal? — Joseph V.

If Bernie Sanders is elected president … and if both Houses of Congress wind up in Democratic hands … We are all in trouble.  They will run the country into the ground and (as I’ve said before) may even pass laws banning certain speech.  The news media are supposed to be the watchdog, the entity that holds powerful politicians accountable.  Tell me when you stop laughing.

I always enjoy your commentary; so to speculate, do you know if the citizens and government people currently in Vietnam have warmer feelings toward the United States than say, roughly fifty years ago? Thanks again –The Emperor

Do the Vietnamese like us more today than in 1969?  Is that your question?  Yeah, i’m pretty sure they do since in 1969 we were bombing the hell out of them.

What you wrote in this week’s column (“Free Stuff Can Be Very Expensive”) is all very true, but there must be a way to approach the student debt crisis. Reform of bankruptcy code? Suggestions? — Ronald M.

Way over my pay grade.  No idea.  If a college has a very big endowment, the trustees might want to think about forgiving the debt or at least reducing it.  But how are students whose debt wasn’t forgiven or reduced going to feel about that?  It’s a mess, Ronald.

Greetings Mr. Goldberg: In an effort to help you kill some time between now and mid-December (wink wink), I wish to hear your opinion. I understand that Walter Duranty was very sympathetic to Soviet Communism, and he won a Pulitzer Prize for his articles. Eventually I believe the NY Times acknowledged how blatantly biased he was by downplaying the horrors of life in Soviet Russia. I’m wondering, if many others saw how awful it was in Russia, why did the NY Times in those days give any credence to what this man wrote? And why did so many people who came from Russia to the U.S. want to bring that lifestyle TO the U.S.? What was the appeal to the “Useful Idiots” in the U.S. who actually were living a decent lifestyle? Until mid-December –Best Regards from The Emperor

Durante was there, on the ground in Russia.  His editors were thousands of miles away in Manhattan.  They figured he knew what he was writing about.  And who knows how many of them were also sympathetic to the idea of communism.

Communism for some Americans was an appealing idea — especially during the Great Depression,  The Communist Party USA promised jobs to desperate people.  A lot of them didn’t like the authoritarian part of communism; that’s not what they were buying into.  It was the promise of not just a better life, but simply a job.

It’s possible, Emperor, to have a decent lifestyle and still be wooed by a philosophy that says everyone should have that decent life, not just the fat cats or people with connections.  The problem with all of this is simply that communism doesn’t work; it’s a disaster; it goes against human nature.

Bernie, many of us come up with costs for programs proposed by the Democrat presidential contestants, but we likely are not dealing with accurate information. Can you give us a list of those proposals and what they will cost? This will help us create powerful rebuttals. — Hugo S.

I included a short list of what Democrats are offering for “free” or at least heavily subsidized in my column about how Free Stuff Can Be VeryExpensive.  As for the costs, they’re all over the place.  I suggest you see what each candidate is offering and what each claims their giveaways would cost and how they all plan to raise the money to pay for this free stuff.  There’s just too much for me to dig out, Hugo.  Hope you understand.

Thank you for the “Free Stuff” article. I’ve often thought how easy it is to run as a liberal. Just stand up and announce what you are going to give away and listen to the cheers. Surprised no one has thought of free lobster dinners for everyone! The reality of your point that Republicans have to explain why this doesn’t work is frightening. It’s not obvious by now? It is an embarrassment that even members of Congress need this explained to them, let alone voters. On another subject, do you have any information as to the Statute of Limitations for the officials involved with possible corruption regarding FISA abuse, obstruction of justice, leaks, perjury, and other crimes currently under investigation at Justice? Having been in business, I am always puzzled as to why it takes months and even years for the government to get to the bottom of a story and hold people accountable, when it would take a few hours to do the same in a business. — Michael E.

What the GOP needs to explain — very specifically — is that the very people getting the “free” stuff at some point will be asked to pay for it too.  They already know there’s no such thing as “free” stuff.  What they don’t know is that their taxes might go up along with the tax increase on wealthier people.  That’s what the GOP needs to explain.  People who like “free” stuff don’t understand this.  And it’s not entirely their fault.  The progressives tell them the “super rich” will pay for everything.

I don’t think the statue of limitations is the issue so much as congressional bureaucracy is the issue.  Like you, I follow congressional investigations and can’t quite grasp why they go on and on — with no resolution.  Maybe the GOP is afraid to bring charges against Democrats because they know Democrats will repay the “favor” when they get the chance.

I was never a Washington correspondent so I don’t know enough to answer your question any better.

 


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Bernie’s Q&A: Mark Levin, Michelle Obama, Ginsburg, Reagan, “What’s the Frequency, Kenneth?” and More (4/26)

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

Let’s get to your questions (and my answers):


I recall even before Israel had built walls, the borders were still relatively secure compared to what is going on at our Southern border. I believe they merely relied on the governments in the neighboring countries to provide security by holding their leadership responsible for any issues. Don’t you think if we were serious we could do the same? Maybe an F22 Raptor buzzing Mexico City would make a point that needs to be made? — Michael E.

For some reason the U.S. government has not been able to convince our neighbors to the South to stop the caravans. Cutting off aid to Honduras and Guatemala is tempting but it’ll make things worse.  It’ll drive more immigrants north. Mexico is the key.  No one comes up from Guatemala without passing through Mexico.  Mexico doesn’t have to let the immigrants in.  Whatever Mexico is doing to help hasn’t been enough — but now there may be some good news.  Mexico in recent days has been cracking down on immigrants, rounding some up — but who knows how long this will last or what long term affect it will have on the caravans heading our way.

As for your idea about sending low flying F22s over Mexico City — a tad over the line, Michael.  A tad.

Is there not one “journalist” in this country that wonders why Bryan Pagliano, the man that set up Hillary Clinton’s private server, was given immunity? He never was charged with anything. As far as I know he never gave up any actionable information. Usually someone trades information to get out of trouble. He was given immunity and we never heard another word about him or from him. Where is Woodward and Bernstein? — Doug R.

Good question, Doug.  I’ve had friends ask me the same thing.  And your question raises even more:  How did a whole bunch of Clinton cronies — not just Pagliano — get such “polite” treatment from the FBI?  Why were they allowed to keep their computers?  Why weren’t they questioned under oath?  Why did James Comey begin writing up his final report clearing Hillary Clinton weeks before the FBI spoke to her?  (In his book, “A Higher Authority,” Comey explains it this way:  “Prosecutors routinely begin drafting indictments before an investigation is finished if it looks likely to end up there, and competent ones also begin thinking how to end investigations that seem likely to end without charges.”)

Attorney General Barr needs to get to the bottom of all of this.  One more point:  When a journalist is given information by an anonymous source, it’s a story if the information is true.  But it could be an even bigger story if it’s NOT true.  Why did the source pass along false information?  What are his or her motives?  The journalists who got collusion wrong for the past two years might want to try to make up for their past deeds by looking into the question you raised — and the other ones too.

Despite her protests to the contrary, I believe that Michelle Obama will be the Democrat 2020 nominee because none of the announced candidates will win the nomination prior to the convention and by that time , their hard left turn will make Michelle a compelling choice due to her “perceived moderation,” something her book and President Obama’s recent moderate statements will reinforce, not to mention she checks off the two critical boxes on race and gender and the former president would ensure a huge turnout in November 2020. Why hasn’t this possibility been more discussed by conservative pundits? — Michael F.

Because they and I don’t think it’s going to happen.  And for good reason.  As the Democrats move from primary to primary, laggards will drop out.  Before long there’ll be a relatively few survivors.  One of them will win the nomination — unless it goes to a brokered convention.  I don’t see Mrs. Obama surfacing in either scenario.  If I’m wrong, I’ll give you a great big mea culpa apology, Michael.

A lot has been made on the point that Mueller did not exonerate President Trump. Isn’t it on him to prove the charges of conspiracy and obstruction? Without proof, isn’t there essentially no conspiracy or obstruction. — Kip V.

Regarding conspiracy, Mueller concluded there was no evidence to support such a charge.  On obstruction, you could argue that as a prosecutor he should have either said, “He obstructed justice even if we can’t, as per DOJ rules, indict him” — or he should have said, “There’s not evidence to support that charge either.”  Instead he waffled and said he wasn’t exonerating the president.  But as the Report makes clear, President Trump tried very hard to obstruct the investigation.  The only reason he didn’t succeed is because his people refused to follow his orders.  See John Daly’s excellent column on this on this website.

Outside of my religious background, I believe the 20th century to be one of the most intriguing, historical, periods of mankind. If you could pick five historical decades to work as a journalist, outside of the years you did write, what decades of mankind would that be? Both BC and AD timeframes are accepted. — Tim H.

Interesting question.

Much of the first century AD would top the list.  I’d go back to earlier Roman times but if I reported what was going on one of the ruling despots would put ME on the cross.  Let’s move closer to home.  1776 would be a good time to work as a journalist. The 1860s because of the Civil War.  The 1920s because of how they roared … leading up to the Great Depression in 1929.  The 1940s provided lots for a journalist and finally the 1960s, but I was around to cover part of that decade. That’s six.  You made me think.

As a kid, I remember my parents thinking that the “What’s the frequency, Kenneth?” incident with Dan Rather was a hoax, and that he (and possibly CBS News) had made it up as a publicity stunt. I know that it was proven years later to be legit, but I’m curious as to whether any of Rather’s colleagues at CBS News (including you) were ever skeptical of his account. — John D.

Lots of my colleagues were skeptical.  No one thought CBS News was in on it, but yes, more than a few wondered what really happened.  There were theories — none of them good for Dan.  I won’t reveal what they were because none panned out. As you say, John, the crazy story turned out to be true.

Sir Bernard– I haven’t asked a question in weeks, so I am hoping you will indulge me with these multi questions. Although I realize you have to be somewhere by mid-December, would you be so kind to share with your new, ever-growing and very interested audience the following:

1) Any info regarding your children?
2) What you do for fun?
3) Where, other than the U.S., would you consider living and why?
4) What was your most memorable interview and why?
5) If you could have an honest conversation with any living person, who might that be?
6) Do you have an opinion as to why Mark Levin rants and raves on his radio show, but presents a harmonious demeanor on his TV show?
–Matthew Q.

  1.  No.  Family stuff is private.
  2. I used to play pick up basketball until I decided I don’t like chasing guys much younger than me all over the court on Sunday morning.  Now, I play AT golf.  I’m a beginner.  And it’s hard.  Real hard.
  3. In Fantasy Land, I’d say Australia.  They speak English.  Nice people.  A lot like America used to be.  But it won’t happen.
  4. I interviewed the head of the Russian Olympic Committee ahead of the Sochi Winter Games for Real Sports on HBO.  He was a friend of Putin’s. Let’s just say I’m lucky I made it out alive.  I’d also put my interview with Paul McCartney on a memorable list.  We hit it off.
  5. I’d say Putin, but it wouldn’t be an honest conversation.  Same with Mr. Trump. I’ve interviewed Alan Dershowitz and would like to do it again.  THAT would be an honest conversation.
  6. I’ve thought about that too.  Show Biz, Matthew.  Pure Show Biz.  Though, to be fair, he is a conservative ideologue and I trust really believes what he’s yelling about. But … That schtick wouldn’t work on TV — not in the present format where he interviews guests.  I did see a Levin TV show recently where he had no guests, and there was a little of the ranting style of his radio show.

Hello Mr. Goldberg: What is your opinion of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg as a judge? As a Supreme Court Justice? As a person? Is she rightly lionized by the left? I know that she was friendly with the late Justice Scalia…that must have been interesting. Best Regards—The Emperor

She’s an outspoken liberal woman. That’s why she’s lionized by the left. I know nothing about her as a person off the bench.

When are you going to writing your next book. Surely your taking good notes on what’s going on right now! How about, “an Unslobbering Love Affair with Trump!! — Robert P.

I made a vow: NO MORE BOOKS.  I made it after my second book and violated the pledge 3  times.  But now I’m serious.  It’s too lonely, too time-consuming and hawking the book on a million radio shows is torture.  No more. This time for real.

(Editor’s note: The below question was shortened due to length and some personal details):

Bernie: What is your opinion of Mark Levin’s Fox show “Life, Liberty and Levin”? I usually try to tune in because he seems to have a unique ability to draw information out of a broad range of interesting people, making him more or less a male Barbara Walters.

Last week I was shocked when I tuned in to see Levin interviewing Mike Lindell, the ubiquitous “My Pillow” guy. I was vaguely aware that Lindell had a past history of cocaine abuse and at some point he cleaned up his act, but until Levin’s show I didn’t know the details of his sordid history. With a big smile on his face, Lindell bragged that he had been a “functioning” crack addict for over 40 years, and he was high as a kite when he started his pillow business. Things got so bad that at one point his drug dealers cut him off. He went on to claim that a few years ago he found Jesus and now he sells pillows and religion all mixed up together. As a practicing physician with over 40 years of experience, I can absolutely guarantee you that there is no such thing as a “functioning addict”. When someone abuses alcohol they usually only hurt themselves, their families and perhaps friends and some co-workers, but it usually doesn’t have any broader effects on society. For people who abuse drugs like cocaine, heroin or methamphetamine, the picture is much different. Unlike alcohol, the substances they abuse are illegal and are moved into this country by drug lords like the notorious El Chapo Guzman, who was directly responsible for killing thousands of people and indirectly responsible for the death of hundreds of thousands of people. When you connect the dots, it is clear that by supporting people like El Chapo for 40 years, Lindell is indirectly responsible for the deaths of countless people throughout the US, Mexico and many other countries around the world. Levin seemed oblivious to these obvious facts and he seemed to be fascinated by this obvious psychopathic con man. Do you think Mark Levin owes his viewers and the general public an apology for showcasing this psychopathic clown? — William W.

WOW!  You don’t want to give a guy credit for turning his life around?  Really?  I think the interview was legitimate, William. I defer to your medical knowledge, but if someone finds a way to get off drugs, that’s a good thing.  I don’t have a problem with an interview that shares that story.  And if you connect the dots as you suggest then anyone who’s ever lit up a joint is also responsible for the deaths of “countless people.”  Sorry, William, while I get your point, I’m just not on the same page.

Hi Bernie, Long time fan. I want to know your opinion on our western values and if you see a bright future or a dead end. Keep us educated. — Evelyn

That’s a pretty big question, Evelyn — the future of Western values and I assume Western Civilization? I have hope. I’m guessing our values will survive.  But …  I think the Left in this country — if they had free reign — would do a lot of harm to our values and our civilization. It’s not crazy to think the hard Left would like to criminalize speech they don’t like, to use just one example.  We already know that they want to confiscate wealth from those who have it and spread it around to those who don’t.  Sooner or later a so-called progressive will win the White House.  Then we’ll have an answer to your question about western values.

Dear Bernie, First off, I just want to say that I love your column! My question regards Mayor Pete. Of all the democratic presidential candidates, he impresses me the most. I want to make it clear that I have absolutely nothing against gay people, but if Mayor Pete was elected president, do you think his sexual persuasion would prevent him from dealing effectively with foreign leaders from Russia, China or Saudi Arabia and perhaps others? — Fred L.

Donald Trump is straight.  You think he has trouble dealing effectively with foreign leaders?

If the mayor from a small city in Indiana can get all the way to the Oval Office, then he’s smart enough to know how to deal with foreign leaders who may have discriminatory tendencies. But the fact that he’s gay shouldn’t influence whether the American people think he’s capable of being president.  Vote for him because of his policies, or vote against him for the same reason.  Not whether foreign leaders will accept him.  We can’t let them influence decisions that are ours alone.  Thanks for the question, Fred, and the kind words about my columns.

Bernie… What are your thoughts on the proliferation of social media use in the world of sports today? Does it not seem that athletes are more worried at winning Twitter than their game of choice? We’re seeing more and more of athletes checking devices while games are in progress. New Arizona Cardinals Head Coach Kliff Kingsbury is going as far as implementing designated ‘phone times’ during practices and meetings. Make some sense of this!! — Greg W.

Remember, Greg, these athletes are young guys, some aren’t even 20 yet.  And despite their athletic talent which makes them different, they’re like other people their age who are on social media all the time and who care what somebody tweeted.  To me, it’s all too much, but as I say, they’re no different from young guys (and women) who aren’t athletes.

Hi Bernie, I’m just curious of your take on what’s driving supposedly intelligent democratic leaders to take on truly insane positions these days. My favorite new one is Bill de Blasio stating that he wants to do away with “traditional glass and steel skyscrapers.” Is it just me, or are grade school kids starting to make more sense than leftist politicians? — Keith M.

It is NOT just you, Keith.  It’s me too.  And a lot of others.  The Left has gone nuts.  That may be a bit glib, but it explains a lot.

I’ve heard many on the left refer to how stupid they believe that Ronald Reagan was. One point they made is that Ronald Reagan said that pollution came from trees. However nobody gives me the context on which he made this remark. Could you please clarify this for me? Always a pleasure — The Emperor

I got this very long answer from NASA and in case you’re wondering.  I don’t understand any of it. Warning to everyone other than The Emperor: The following may put you to sleep.

In 1981, President Ronald Reagan claimed that trees produce more air pollution than automobiles, fueling a spate of jokes about “killer trees.” He was mostly wrong, but not completely.

It is true that forests emit volatile organic compounds and reactive hydrocarbons such as isoprene, a chemical that contributes to air pollution. Although isoprene is harmless by itself, the gas reacts with other substances in the atmosphere to form certain types of fine aerosols and ground-level ozone. (Ozone near the ground causes health problems, damages crops, and contributes to climate change. In the stratosphere, it is beneficial because it prevents harmful ultraviolet rays from reaching Earth’s surface.)

What Reagan neglected to indicate is that unhealthly levels of ozone wouldn’t form without nitrogen oxides (NOx), pollutants emitted when gasoline and coal are burned,” explained Bryan Duncan, an atmospheric scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center and the deputy project scientist for the Aura satellite. Since sunlight is ubiquitous and forests emit large quantities of volatile organics in the summer, it is the amount of nitrogen oxide that determines whether ozone forms over cities on hot summer days. That NOx is most often supplied by vehicles.

In the 1970s and 80s, the United States spent billions trying to limit hydrocarbon emissions, but such efforts had little impact on ground-level ozone because forests were providing plenty of natural hydrocarbons. Research conducted by William Chameides of Georgia Tech underscored the futility of trying to limit hydrocarbons while ignoring nitrogen oxides.

“Hydrocarbons from forests are so common and widespread in the eastern U.S. that their presence simply overwhelms anything happening with anthropogenic hydrocarbons,” Duncan said. “The only realistic way to try to limit ozone formation is to do something about nitrogen oxides, which is what has been done in the U.S. over the last several decades. As a result, surface ozone has declined. Not to mention that forests are a natural and crucial part of the environment. Cutting down trees just doesn’t make any sense.”

While satellites cannot measure isoprene emissions from forests directly, they can measure formaldehyde (HCHO), a gas that forms as a result of oxidizing isoprene emissions and as a byproduct of fires. The map above, based on data collected by the Ozone Monitoring Instrument (OMI) on the Aura satellite, shows the global distribution of formaldehyde in September 2013.

The highest concentrations of formaldehyde were present over the Amazon rainforest, in southeastern Africa, and in the southeastern United States. While isoprene from forests was the primary source of the formaldehyde in these areas, observations from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) show that fires, most likely crop burning, contributed to the high levels in these areas as well.

 


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Bernie’s Q&A: Rather, Schultz, Stengel, The Sopranos, “Fake News”, Palestine, Abortion and More (4/19)

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

Let’s get to your questions (and my answers):


Really enjoy the weekly Q&A. I have been thinking a lot about the potential impact if H Schultz runs in 2020 as an independent. While it is very unlikely he could garner a majority of the electoral college votes, I have read nothing about the possibility of his winning a few states and thereby depriving the two major party candidates of an electoral college majority. Do you think this could occur, what states are the best targets, and if this were to occur any predictions as to how Speaker Pelosi would deal with the resulting circus that would then take place in the House and the MSM? — Michael F.

I don’t believe Howard Schultz will run, Michael. So I think the rest is moot. But …

It’s clear that if he does, Donald Trump almost certainly will win re-election. Schultz would split the Democratic vote opening the door to a Trump second term.  I don’t believe his candidacy will deprive either major party candidate of the electoral votes they need to win.  As you say, “very unlikely.” Schultz believes in many things, high on the list is that Donald Trump needs to go.  He, Schultz, is a smart man and can figure out that he’d be the spoiler.  People will convince him not to run.  Donald Trump should pray that he does.

Have you read Ilan Pappe’s book “The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine?” It seems to me that until the well documented actions of the Israelis are addressed that there will be no peace in the Middle East. — Thomas W.

I have not read the book, but it seems to me that until the Palestinians decide they love their children more than they hate the Israelis there also will be no peace.  We can argue the pros and cons of Israeli settlements in the West Bank.  But let’s not forget the Israelis have already tried “land for peace.”  They gave back every inch of Gaza and got, not peace, but rockets on a daily basis.  The Palestinians a while back had a chance to get 95 percent of what they claim to want, and turned the deal down. As the great Israeli diplomat Abba Eban once said:  “The Arabs never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity.”

I have been a fan for many years. I find you to be a consistent and rational source w/ about how the national media operates. W/ regard to FOX News Channel I wonder if you would agree w/ this. While I don’t watch FNC opinion programming I understand why it is there (same w/ MSNBC and CNN). But I find that the ‘news’ division inside FNC to be the most balanced of the national broadcast media. Chris Wallace, Shepard Smith, Bret Baier, and many of the correspondents do a reasonably good job of covering both sides of the news. Far better than any other national organization. But since both ‘news’ and ‘opinion’ programming are rolled up under one brand they get confused. What isn’t confusing – rather blatant – would be MSNBC and Andrea Mitchell. She has/had a daytime opinion program and then would report in the evening for NBC News as their Chief Foreign Affairs Correspondent which breaks the ‘golden rule’ for a news organization and any journalist. This is where a set of enforceable rules would be handy. W/ regard to FNC maybe they could create another channel (think FBC) called FNC News for their news division and keep their opinion shows on FNC. It could create a revenue opportunity while helping the national media get back on track. — Chuck

I’m with you, Chuck.  In terms of straight news reporting, Fox is way ahead of CNN and MSBNC.  I also agree that when a hard news reporter has an opinion show then covers foreign affairs for the network it creates problems.  We shouldn’t know how a hard news reporter feels about any subject she’s  covering.  You’re also correct when you say news and opinion get rolled under one brand — and cause confusion.  As for creating a news channel and a separate opinion channel:  First, FNC would have to do opinion all day long (which some people think already happens) — and then do news all day long on a separate channel.  The former would be torture (for me) and the latter wouldn’t be interesting enough for a mass audience.  Interesting thought, though.

I’m surprised and a bit dismayed to read your words in the last Q&A to the effect that fake “made up” news is a rarity in media journalism today. For the past two and half years we’ve endured blatantly false news reporting nearly every day by the likes of CNN and others promulgating a preposterous “Trump is Russia” narrative based on a discredited dossier. We saw similar bad faith media reporting on Judge Kavanaugh as possible college serial rapist allowing Michael Avenatti a platform for his clients’ ludicrous accusations. So please tell me what difference there is in the media’s making up its own false news stories or reporting false news stories—via other sources—such as the FBI leak of the Steele Dossier? — Phillip R.

Fair enough, Phillip.  Legitimate question.

Donald Trump has said, repeatedly, that journalists “make up” sources and that this constitutes “fake news.” If they did make up sources, he’d be right.  But except for the very rare cases, they don’t.  Getting things wrong is not “fake news.” I’ve said before that journalists have made mistakes and they seem to go in one direction — the anti-Trump direction, and that this constitutes bias.  Bias, while not a good thing, is not “fake news.”  If the media believe sources that aren’t telling the truth, the villain first, is the source with an ax to grind and second, the journalist who should have been more skeptical.  If you define “fake news” as putting out stories based on speculation that turns out not to be true, Ok, then it’s fake news.  That’s not my definition and more importantly, it’s not really Donald Trump’s definition.  Again, he has repeatedly said that reporters just make stuff up.  Not true.  That said, you make good points about the constant drumbeat of negative stories about the Donald Trump and Russia.  That tells me that too many journalists have it in for this president.  But that’s just not the same as concocting sources out of nothing.

Hello Mr. Goldberg: In your book “100 People Who Are Screwing Up America” you have a chapter on Al Franken. You mentioned that Casey Stengel used to line up his players and talk nonsense to them and “he wasn’t joking.” I’m not much of a sports fan, so I have to ask: what kind of gibberish would Casey Stengel spout at the players, and why did he do it if he wasn’t joking? Was this some kind of head game he was playing? What would be the purpose? And while I’m at it, in “A Slobbering Love Affair” I recall that there were some documents from Barack Obama’s college years that you mentioned were being held under wraps, and you were wondering what is in them. Could you please elaborate? Which documents were you specifically referring to? What do you think would be revealed? Finally, why can’t they be revealed? Mr. Obama is a public figure, so such information (along with Donald Trump’s tax returns) SHOULD be made public, shouldn’t they? What’s the holdup? Best Regards –The Emperor

There’s a lot in your question(s), Emperor and I have to be someplace by mid-December, but I’ll give it a try.

Casey Stengel would go on and on when chatting with reporters, bouncing from one subject to the next without so much as a breath in between.  He was a character.  At spring training one year he told his players to line up in alphabetical order — according to height.  He must be on Google someplace.  You have to listen to him to truly understand how “entertaining” he was.

As for Mr. Obama’s records:  They’re not public records, they were college records.  His grades, his term papers, anything he might have put on paper that would give us a clue to his thinking then — and maybe during his presidency.

The holdup is that he’s never given Columbia (or any of the other colleges he attended) permission to release whatever they have. And since it’s all private, the public has no legal right to know what’s there.  Why hasn’t he released his college info?  That’s what’s so intriguing.

It seems to me, as the news media becomes more and more of an entertainment product, that there’s an unprecedented amount of importance placed on the youth and looks of news commentators. Of course, it has long been an advantage in television journalism to be good looking (news organizations and producers strive for an attractive news presentation). But in recent years and especially on cable news (most noticeably on Fox), I feel as if it has become somewhat of an overriding factor on the opinion side — overriding in the sense that if someone has the “right look”, they are not necessarily expected to be able to put forth serious or informed commentary, even when seated at discussion tables alongside individuals who can and do.

Do you feel that today’s cable news audiences for the most part even notice this type of thing, or feel insulted by it? Or do you think they just appreciate the “eye candy,” as long as that person is saying the stuff they want to hear? — Andrew D.

There’s plenty of eye candy on cable, most notably at Fox, as you say.  But a lot of those attractive people are also pretty smart.  Not all, but more than you’d think.  Let’s not assume that a beautiful woman can’t also be a very smart woman. Here’s what’s not a good thing, especially for women:  If you’re a good journalist, but not especially attractive, you’re going to have a tough time getting an on-air job at places like Fox.  That’s troubling.  But the audience isn’t complaining — especially the guys watching the women show leg on Fox shows.  They don’t call it Infotainment for nothing, Andrew.

By any chance have you ever watched the Big Interview with Dan Rather? It’s on AXS TV. Dan has some really interesting guests, which is why i’ve watched it a few times, but I’m very surprised by how bad of an interviewer he is. The questions are surprisingly bad and he seems quite unprepared. I don’t recall what kind of interviewer he was when he was with CBS News. Was he generally good back then? — Beverly

I have watched the show, Beverly, and when the guests are interesting I like it.  Regarding Dan:  He’s not out to grill his guests on a show like this.  He’s there to be a pal and have a conversation with them.  I’ve long believed that the most important single factor that makes for a good interview … is the person being interviewed.  If he or she is interesting and engaging, the interview will be a success.  Yes, the interviewer can screw things up by not asking good questions or not listening and missing a needed follow up question.  But for The Big Interview, Dan is fine.  As far as how he did at CBS News, he did good work.  The problem with Dan — and I’ve said this before — is that he was either unwilling or unable to take serious criticism seriously.

Years ago I remember you talking to O’Reilly on Fox about The Sopranos. You had some pretty deep thoughts on the show, and you were clearly a fan. Are there any current television series, or series since then, that you really enjoy and would perhaps place in the same league? — Jeff P.

My favorite show is Homeland on Showtime. I’m a HUGE fan!  I watch Billions on Showtime but it’s not in the same league as the Sopranos or Homeland.  I also watch Curb Your Enthusiasm on HBO — and each week root for Larry David to get hit by a bus.  Not in real life, of course.  It’s just that he’s so annoying in that role — which I suspect is not that much different from Larry David in real life. I watch almost nothing on network TV — except big sporting events and every now and then Shark Tank. I recently watched the 6 part series The Bodyguard on Netflix and thought it was pretty good — but not great.

Mr. G., In view of the vitriol being tossed back and forth, between AOC and her ilk, and Mr. Trump, do you think we’ll ever see real civility in politics ever again? — Terry & Kathi

That’s the $64 million dollar question.  My gut answer is … no.  Things have gotten so bad, so uncivil, that I see no path back to reasoned, decent disagreement.  All I see is Resistance.  I used to think that a national tragedy would bring us together.  9/11 did.  For about 10 minutes then it was back to what passes for “normal.”  Maybe if a charismatic politician comes along who shows “the other side” respect and calls on his team to also show respect … maybe then things would change.  But I must sound like Pollyanna saying that.  I don’t see that person on the horizon. I’m pessimistic, Terry and Kathi.

With very few journalists such as yourself, it’s hard to biased journalists to really make a name for themselves anymore. They just parrot each other. Will it ever become fashionable again to take a more clear and honest approach to journalism? Unbiased! — Paul M.

For quite a while now, journalism in America has lost the trust and confidence of the American people.  And for good reason. As long as bias sells, things won’t change.  And make no mistake, it does sell.  News organizations — and not just cable TV — have made a business decision:  give the audience what it wants.  Don’t challenge its biases.  Instead, validate what the viewers  already believe, what they already think about Donald Trump or the Democrats.  As long as that model continues to bring in money, things won’t change.  The viewer or the reader is an indicted co-conspirator as far as I’m concerned.  They’re not asking for change.  They like it when CNN, MSNBC, Fox, The NY Times, et al give them what they want.  That said, there’s some good journalism going on.  But too much slanted journalism .

After the David Shaw series in the L.A. Times detailing an abortion-rights bias in the newsrooms, I thought that the media would look at how it reports on these stories and stop giving it a slant. That was 29 years ago. Do you feel that reporting on abortion has changed for the better? — Alex

I once jokingly suggested that we need affirmative action in America’s newsrooms for a minority group vastly under-represented in the world of journalism.  That minority was conservative journalists.  After a while, I stopped joking about it and started pitching it for real.  I don’t want conservative journalists to bring their opinions and biases into the newsroom — any more than I want liberal journalists to bring their opinions and biases into the newsroom.  But with so few conservatives in journalism, abortion coverage — to use the example you mention — is seen through a liberal, pro-abortion rights prism.  With more conservatives we’d have a different perspective injected into the conversation.  A conservative might see how a story on “late term” abortion is being discussed in the newsroom and chime in with a different position.  I don’t follow abortion coverage closely enough to answer your question beyond what I’ve already suggested, but I’m pretty sure some diversity of opinion in the newsroom would make abortion coverage — and a lot more — a lot better.

Have you read Michael Luo’s article “The Urgent Quest for Slower, Better News”? What is your take on Slow Media (e.g. Delayed Gratification, Tortoise Media) and its pros and cons? — John M.

Sorry, John, I know nothing about this.

 


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