Bernie’s Q&A: AOC, Nikki Haley, the biggest stories I’ve covered, and much more (6/21) — 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 read Bias 6 times, each time I can feel myself getting upset. Is there a untold story? Like, the time you bulldozed your way into Rathers office and said something like: “After 28 years of working together, after all these years, this is how you act towards me? You know what? Your a piece of garbage, if you have a problem with that I’ll be in the parking garage! Is that a little over the top? Lol, I just had to ask, sorry. What did you think of the Stephanopoulos interview with the President? — Ralph P.

Hey Ralph.  No untold story along the lines you mention, but what I find interesting, all these years later, is my recollection of how afraid so many of my colleagues were — to get on the wrong side of Dan.  Just being seen with me after I wrote the op ed about liberal bias in the Wall Street Journal was something they feared. For folks who take on powerful people and bask in their own supposed “courage” — I found their visceral fear of Dan very sad.

Regarding the interview with Stephanopoulos:  I wish the president had said, let me ask you a question George.  If you received a call from the Russian Embassy here in Washington, and the ambassador or one of his staff said, “I have dirt on Donald Trump, would you take that meeting — or would you call the FBI?”

I understand the difference between being president and being a reporter.  Still, the answer — if George gave one — would have been interesting.

You answered in a recent Q&A session that Bret Baier and Shepard Smith were probably the two most neutral anchors on Fox. A couple of months ago, Josh Bernstein wrote that Bret Baier and Shepard Smith colluded to have Judge Jeanine Pirro suspended those two weeks she was off the air. I wrote to Fox and asked if they would confirm. As expected, they did not respond. Prior to your Q&A mentioned, I had the highest regard for Bret’s “Fair, Balanced, and Unafraid”, but Rosenstein’s article put a damper on it. Can your resources find the truth behind Judge Jeanine’s suspension? — Fred V.

First, I never said Shepard Smith was neutral.  He injects his opinions all through his newscast.  He’s anything but objective.  As for the Pirro episode:  All I know is that I think she’s a Trump sycophant who would defend the president if he started a nuclear war with Brazil.  I don’t know if either of the two Fox anchors you mentioned were instrumental in her suspension.

I notice that Bill O’Reilly has his own paid streaming video and that you – and presumably others – are using Patreon to develop a paid audience/membership. Do you believe this will be a trend? If so, what do you see as some of the implications? — Hyrum S.

Good question, Hyrum. I do see paid memberships on news-related sites as a growing trend, though it is far from a new concept. Online newspapers (including big ones like the Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal) have used this model for quite some time — primarily because of the decline in print-media subscriptions (thanks to the Internet).

With sites like BernardGoldberg.com, it’s a bit different. We’ve never had a print presence. Still, for the vast majority of online publications to stay afloat, they must turn a profit (or at least break even). This often comes in the form of advertising (ads embedded throughout the site), and as you’ve seen elsewhere, the sheer number of ads (including obnoxious pop-ups) makes some news sites almost unreadable.  This is especially the case with sites that have outside investors and/or employ a large number of employees. These sites are under a tremendous amount of pressure to generate lots and lots of web-clicks.

That pressure has created a big problem within our online media culture that isn’t all that different from what we’ve seen from the cable news model. In order to gain more web-clicks from the targeted audience, online content must be increasingly partisan (often to the point of outlandishness). A good example of this (on the political right) is Breitbart.com, which was once pretty levelheaded. During the 2016 election cycle, however, they evaluated the political winds, and adopted a slobbering pro-Trump love affair (from which they’ve never looked back). The move was very good for them financially, as it has been for other sites that went the same route. And there are plenty of anti-Trump counterpart sites on the left.

That’s not something I’m interested in with BernardGoldberg.com. I value independent commentary that doesn’t pander to partisan tribes for the sake of web-clicks. We have a small number of contributors, we’ve never sought investors, and we don’t want to hammer our readers with advertisements. Thus, we went the route of the Premium Membership to maintain the website without compromising its content. Commentary and Ricochet went this direction as well (quite a while before we did), and I’m seeing other sites follow suit.

One last thing… Let me take this opportunity once again to thank all of our Premium Members. You’re the backbone of this site and we truly appreciate your support.

I don’t know if you’re familiar with Jason Whitlock, who is a long-time columnist for the Kansas City Star and is more recently a talk show host on Fox Sports. On Ben Shapiro’s podcast, Whitlock posited as to why the media has gone from mainstream liberal to leftist. His theory is that the traditional media outlets are located in New York. Now the new media/social media is located in northern California and the Pacific Northwest. This change in locale has caused much of the media to shift its paradigm to reflect that of the leftist Northwest. Is Whitlock onto something here? — Steve R.

I like Whitlock.  But geography is not the main reason the media is left wing.  The main reason is the philosophy of the people who cover the news — usually they have a liberal worldview. Is the bias moving leftward?  Maybe.  But again, I don’t think it’s because of geography.  More likely it’s because liberals in the media despise Donald Trump and that feeling has made it easier for social media types to hate him even more.

Bernie, I don’t agree with the notion that you cannot commit Obstruction of Justice if a crime was not committed in the first place. For example, a man is unjustly accused of a crime. He finds out about an upcoming investigation and fearful of being wrongly arrested he begs potential witnesses against him to lie to investigators concerning incidents that might paint him in a negative light. That’s obstruction of justice, even though the man never committed the original crime. So, Trump, if he told people to say things that weren’t true to investigators in order to solidify the fact that he had no involvement in Russian collusion, would be committing Obstruction of Justice even though he was not involved in colluding with the Russians. I said, “if.” So, Mueller during his investigation might (I said “might) have come across evidence that Trump was telling his people to give false testimony even though Trump knew he was innocent of Russian collusion. Therefore, you can commit Obstruction of Justice even though you were innocent of what the original investigation was all about. Your thoughts on this? — Joe B.

Joe, I hope you’re not suggesting that I ever said that there can be no obstruction if there’s no underlying crime — because I never said that.  What I did say was in the absence of an underlying crime, do Democrats really want to go down the road to impeachment.  I said the president may have shown bad judgment re obstruction, but the worst he did was try to impede an investigation into a non-existent crime.  But I do agree with you analysis and understanding of obstruction.

I was astounded by Rep. Ocasio-Cortez’s remark comparing our southern border to “concentration camps.” Does she (and other Democratic Socialists of her generation) really have no idea just how monstrous real concentration camps were or does she just see this offhand remark as a political tool with no regard for how offensive this is for holocaust survivors or anyone who has an appreciation for the magnitude of just how terrible the camps of Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot (pick your socialist/communist poison) were? Ignorance of history 0r callous disregard? And she’s the new darling of the liberal/left? — John F.

She’s not too smart.  She’s the kind of person who crosses the line to make a point.  Not unlike our president.  The hard left is defending what she said but reasonable liberals aren’t.  If she were to ever make a comparable stupid comment about slavery or gay rights or women’s rights — she’d be done.  But that won’t happen.

Bernie, as a reporter (whether it be for CBS or Real Sports or elsewhere), what was the most important story you covered, and which story had the most emotional impact on you? Thanks. — Brian G.

I was part of the Real Sports team that broke the concussions in the NFL story.  That was pretty big.  We also did an expose on poor children being held as slaves in the United Arab Emirates so they could race camels for the betting pleasure of wealthy sheiks. If they fell off and died they’d get shipped home to Bangladesh or wherever in a box.  Our story freed about 4,000 children.  I also reported stories on what can happen to journalists, scholars and others who expose cost overruns and doping involving major international sporting events inside Russia.  And recently we reported a story about the deaths of thousands of racehorses each year in America — another Real Sports expose.

I find it interesting that many of my most important stories were aired on a program with the word Sports in the title.

But I try not to get emotionally involved with any of my stories.  The danger is that you run the risk of taking sides — of becoming a crusader.  I’m against that.  Am I glad those 4,000 kids are no longer slaves.  Sure.  But I didn’t do the story to feel good about myself.  I hope, Brian, you get what I’m saying.  Thanks for the question.

I’ll keep it light here: My favorite scene in “Casablanca” is when the Germans are in Rick’s Cafe and they start playing a patriotic German song, but then Lazslo tells the band to play “Le Marseilles” and it ends in a rousing display of patriotism against the Nazis. My questions are as follows: What is YOUR favorite scene from that movie? Also, I never understood why Major Strasser and the Nazis didn’t just arrest Laszlo and get rid of him like most Nazis would normally do; Since they are Nazi thugs why would Major Strasser care about what Renault thought about arresting Laszlo and getting rid of him once and for all? I would think someone like Major Strasser wouldn’t care about Renault’s opinion. –The Emperor

I have too many “favorite scenes” to list here, but I’m a huge fan of your favorite.  I also like the scene that ends with, “Round up the usual suspects.”  And, of course, the walk off in the fog that ends the movie when Rick says, “Louie, this could be the start of a beautiful friendship.”

You may have logic on your side regarding the non-arrest of Laszlo,  but if the Nazi did arrest him, that would screw up the rest of the movie, wouldn’t it?  So let me end with this: “Emperor, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.”

I often hear right wing commentator Ben Shapiro complain that President Obama gave millions to the Iranian mullahs to bribe them into being moderates who are not pursuing nuclear weapons but are doing so anyway. Progressive left wing commentator Kyle Kulinski’s rebuttal to this is that Obama simply gave the money BACK to the Iranians because it was already theirs to begin with! Is that true—is the money Obama gave to the Iranians what was left from when their assets were frozen during the hostage crisis? If so, do you think that it was a smart move on the part of President Obama to give that money back to the Iranians? — The Emperor

As I understand it, the money was Iranian money that we froze during the hostage crisis. Was it smart to return the money? President Obama desperately wanted a deal with Iran and giving them back the money was the only way to secure the deal.  Smart if you believe it was a good deal.  Otherwise, not so much.

Mr. Goldberg, in your opinion, who killed JFK — ranging from the multiple gunmen theories to whether there was a conspiracy and, if so, amongst whom and why? Thanks! — JCP

Lee Harvey Oswald.

Bernie, in your questions Joe Biden should be asked, you mentioned the 2020 debates. Here is my proposal to avoid the media bias and disgusting performances by the likes of the Candy Crowleys: each candidate selects a questioner who asks questions of the opponent and each question has say a two-five minute time period. If the candidate tries to stonewall or lies, the questioner can so note for the record. I know this would create a circus of sorts ( boosting ratings??) but would create a more balanced playing field. Would love to see a Trey Gowdy take on Biden under these rules. Your thoughts? — Michael F.

Barnum and Bailey’s circus would seem dull compared to what you’re suggesting.  So you’re saying, Biden could choose Sean Hannity to question Bernie Sanders who could choose Rush Limbaugh to question Mayor Pete?  Great for ratings, but of course this could never happen — lefties couldn’t pick a conservative to question their opponents without getting bashed. Why not this, which is not nearly as “exciting” but far more practical:  real journalists behaving like real journalists and not taking sides or throwing softballs at candidates they like.  It’s worked in the past.  For the record, I’d also love to see Trey Gowdy take on Biden — or any of the others.  And while we’re at it, I’d like to see Alan Dershowitz take on Donald Trump — or anyone else running for president.

Bernie, I just read an article about Maduro shipping out hundreds of millions of dollars of Venezuelan gold to Africa and it made me think how many “world leaders” have been mega wealthy over the decades while “serving their people.” We have read rumors about the fortune Chavez amassed while living and how wealthy the Castros are as well (among many others). Isn’t it time for our leaders to be forced to answer where they stand on issues of this sort? And while you are at it, please share your views regarding the world’s elites who serve as world leaders at the UN ( boy do I miss Nikki Haley). — Michael F.

Michael, my friend … Do we really need to ask world leaders where they stand on dictators looting the treasuries of their countries?

I miss Nikki Haley too.  I’d vote for her for president.  I even hoped our current president would decide not to run for reelection and Nikki Haley would jump in.  I’m an enthusiastic supporter.  As for other U.N. ambassadors from other countries:  They reflect the nature of the country they represent.  So ambassadors from authoritarian countries do what they’re told, lie when it serves their purpose, and nobody takes any of it too seriously.  The U.N. started out as a good idea.  Not so much these days.

Bernie, why are members of the press still relying on polls and posting polling numbers as if they mean something? How can any polling be seen as reliable after 2016? You cannot say they were much better in 2018. Yes, the Dems took back the house as predicted but here in Ohio all of the polls were way off, again. Ohio stayed red and yet I still see people in the media saying how Biden is up big on Trump in Ohio. Us Buckeyes heard that about Hillary, then about the mid term “blue wave”, and now about Biden. When will the press learn that polls are pointless? — JM

Actually the national polls in 2016 were quite accurate — regarding the popular vote.  State polls were not as accurate.  My friend John Daly has written several columns on the subject on the website; check them out.  Finally, presidential polls this far out mean very little.  But they might be warning signs for one side or the other — the most recent ones might be flashing caution for the president.  But again, it’s early.

When did it happen that so many blacks vote only Democrat? Republicans freed them (& died for them) Repubs instituted reconstruction which was starting to get them on their feet. Dems killed reconstruction and instituted Jim Crow, dems kept them from voting, dems started & con’t the Ku Klux Klan (& murdered them), the dems have put them essentially back on a plantation. It’s just that the government is the new master. How can they not understand this? — Beverly

Historically, you’re right.  But Democrats are the party of big government and lower income people have been led to believe they need to government to keep them afloat.  Republicans have not done a very good job winning black voters to their side.

In the past, you mentioned that there were groups and individuals that told journalists what should and should not be included in their news stories when it comes to certain maters regarding sex, sexual orientation and race, not to mention other. Is is still prevalent today, and if so, what could be done to stop it? — Alex P.

I’m not sure I said the higher ups actually told reporters what to put in their story.  What happens is that journalists know the thinking of the newsroom; they know what’s a supposedly reasonable position and what isn’t.  So they slant the news in a liberal direction on many hot social issues — affirmative action, welfare, feminist issues etc.  I can’t recall ever being told what I could and couldn’t say.  At Fox no-one ever told me to stop bashing Mr. Trump.  They just didn’t like it.  And in case you haven’t noticed, Fox and I have parted company.

Mr. G., I’m old school, and although we’re not too far apart in age, my preference is to address you the way I was brought up, and that is Mr. Goldberg, and not your first name until we meet and you allow me otherwise. Ok. Iran. With your many years of journalism and keen insight, what are your thoughts about Iran and the possibility of a war, not to mention Russia and China taking Iran’s side against the evil America? Thank you. — Terry J.

First off, Terry, please feel free to call me Bernie.  I thank you for the respect, but I’m AOK with us being on a first name basis.  Regarding Iran, the president says he doesn’t want war.  But if Iran keeps up the provocations — attacking ships and shooting down our drones flying over international waters — things will escalate.  As for China and Russia taking Iran’s side: To be expected.

How long do you think it will take before the left leaning media actually pushes back and asks AOC, who is quickly becoming a “power” to be reckoned with on the Left, a tough question and/or push back at some of the ridiculous things she says? Her latest comment comparing the detention centers on the southern border to Nazi concentration camps was basically brushed off. I would love to ask her if A) she has ever visited the border, and B) has she studied the Holocaust? Finally does she believe Ellis Island also was a concentration camp? Woman makes my head explode! — John M.

Helpful hint, John:  While the media and progressives take her somewhat seriously, you don’t have to.  The reason she’s on television so much is because shiny objects saying dopey things are good for cable ratings.

I just heard that she’s got a very low approval rating in her own district.  After her activist role in the Amazon matter — chasing away lots of jobs — I’m not at all sure she’ll win a second term next year.  Then the media will say, “Of course, she said too many controversial 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.




Pulling Back the Curtain on the Nikki Haley Story

On Thursday, the New York Times ran a story with this eye-catching headline: “Nikki Haley’s View of New York Is Priceless. Her Curtains? $52,701.”

Nearly $53,000… for curtains? Surely this can’t be!

But it’s true. As reported by the Times, the U.S. State Department spent that amount last year on “customized and mechanized” curtains for Haley’s new official residence as our ambassador to the United Nations. And it came at a time of deep budget cuts and hiring freezes within the department.

The social-media outrage came quickly, including from some notable folks:

Good to see there are still some fellow fiscal conservatives left in this country (or at least some pretending to be, depending on the story).

Anyway, there’s more. According to Gardiner Harris (the writer of the article), the 6,000 square-foot penthouse residence (of which Haley will be the first ambassador to live in) costs a whopping $58,000 a month to rent.

Wow! And all of this, of course, is paid for by taxpayers.

So… should taxpayers be upset? Absolutely!

Is that a ridiculous amount of money to be spent on an ambassador’s residence? Absolutely!

And is that apparent diva, Nikki Haley, being raked over the coals appropriately for insisting on such extravagance? Well, not so fast…

After five paragraphs describing the lushness, exclusivity, and unprecedented nature of Haley’s new pad, an important piece of information is finally revealed in the article:

“A spokesman for Ms. Haley said plans to buy the curtains were made in 2016, during the Obama administration. Ms. Haley had no say in the purchase, he said.”

Sure enough, plans for the curtains (and the residence itself for that matter) were put into place by Obama’s State Department, not Trump’s. Trump’s State Department did allow the plans to proceed. But as for Haley’s involvement? Well, there apparently wasn’t any.

Yet throughout the article, Harris continues to refer to the uber-expensive window treatments as “Ms. Haley’s curtains,” as if she were either personally responsible for them, or that they were somehow reflective of her leadership.

The article also includes an amusing quote from Obama White House official, Brett Bruen:

“How can you, on the one hand, tell diplomats that basic needs cannot be met and, on the other hand, spend more than $50,000 on a customized curtain system for the ambassador to the U.N.?”

It’s a fair enough question. One has to wonder if Bruen bothered to ask it of the administration that actually came up with the idea: his.

None of this is to say that a pricey, seemingly unnecessary government expenditure isn’t a legitimate news story. Personally, I’m all for the press exposing government waste. It would have been nice if there had been a notable effort put forth by journalists to do this type of thing during the previous administration.

The problem, of course, is with presenting Nikki Haley as the central figure, and implied object of criticism, in a story that apparently has nothing to do with her — or at least any decision that she has made.

Talk about a misleading narrative.

Something tells me that if Haley were part of a Democratic administration (perhaps one that presided over the addition of $9.1 trillion to our national debt), those fancy curtains would have been the toast of the town… with a price-tag deemed not to be particularly newsworthy.

—–

Editor’s note: Subsequent to this column being published, The New York Times issued the following retraction:

An earlier version of this article and headline created an unfair impression about who was responsible for the purchase in question. While Nikki R. Haley is the current ambassador to the United Nations, the decision on leasing the ambassador’s residence and purchasing the curtains was made during the Obama administration, according to current and former officials. The article should not have focused on Ms. Haley, nor should a picture of her have been used. The article and headline have now been edited to reflect those concerns, and the picture has been removed.