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Ted Koppel: Rush Limbaugh is the Reason Congress Can't Get Anything Done

BEGIN TRANSCRIPT

RUSH: Ted Koppel's back, and Ted Koppel says that I have made bipartisanship impossible, me and Jon Stewart, made bipartisanship impossible.  Last night at George Washington University, during a Kalb Report Forum on Ethics and Excellence in Journalism, Marvin Kalb of the Kennedy School interviewed Rock Center special correspondent Ted Koppel.  He said, "In a recent interview with Bill O'Reilly of Fox you derided ideological coverage of the news as bad for America, making it difficult, if not impossible, for Congress to reach across the aisle and find compromise." 

Oh, people are asking me, "Rush, what would your compromise be on the fiscal cliff?"  I have a proposal, a moderate little proposal.  Because I have heard, I got an e-mail of deep intel this morning where there are going to be powerful forces trying to drive a wedge between me and Grover Norquist.  You know, Grover Norquist has the no-tax pledge, and I think it's in one of these Politico roundup stories where each news item is a paragraph, sort of a highlight of either what's coming today, in combination of what happened yesterday.  I was alerted to this by somebody that said, "They're gonna try to drive a wedge between you and Grover.  Grover is adamantly opposed to any tax increase anywhere, any time, for anything.  And they think if they can get you to do a Bill Kristol and just come out and say, 'You know, folks, if we can get the guaranteed spending cuts, I can see raising taxes.'" 

They want me to do this. "The pressure is gonna be brought to bear on you, Rush."  So with that in mind, I've been pondering it a bit, and I'll share with you later as the program unfolds my thoughts on this, to the extent that they matter.  But, anyway, here's Ted Koppel and Marvin Kalb said, "Bill O'Reilly, you derided ideological coverage of the news as bad for America, making it difficult, if not impossible, for Congress to reach across the aisle, find compromise.  You also wrote in an op-ed piece, 'This is not good for the republic.'  What did you mean?"  Now, doesn't the question kind of spell out what Koppel says?  So "what do you mean" is a little redundant.  But, anyway, here's what he said.

KOPPEL:  You cannot, in a democracy, expect people to be able to reach across the aisles and make the accommodations for important issues if they are terrified that in so doing they're gonna expose themselves to the wrath of either the right or the left, either Jon Stewart's humor or Rush Limbaugh's sharp tongue.

RUSH:  So what does this mean?  It means that our brave and courageous elected officials would be happy to work with one another.  They would be happy reaching across the aisles, as it's said, they'd be happy compromising here and compromising there.  Harry Reid would be thrilled to work with Mitch McConnell, if I would just shut up and if Stewart would stop making jokes.  Does anybody believe, especially now, that there's any -- I mean, Harry Reid before the election said that if Romney won, we're not working with him, to hell with Romney, to hell with the Republicans, we're not compromising. 

There is no such thing as liberal compromise.  Look at the election returns, look at the results, look at the aftermath.  We lose.  What do we do?  We beg to be forgiven for taking the positions we took.  We beg to be accepted by the people that beat us.  "Okay, okay, we'll come out with an amnesty plan, okay, and, okay, okay, we'll give away abortions and contraception to women. We'll make all kinds of accommodations to what we believe."  Do Democrats ever, when they lose an election, do you ever see the Democrats publicly speculate, "You know, maybe we lost because we're too strident on abortion. Maybe we lost because we're too associated with the unions who are destroying businesses."  Do the Democrats ever? 

I mean look at Debbie "Blabbermouth" Schultz.  (paraphrasing) "I'm proud to say that we have the most diverse and colorful Congress in the history of the country and the other side is just a bunch of old white guys," as two of our fine minority candidates were replaced by old white Democrat guys.  Folks, my father would not believe my life.  He knew Ted Koppel. I mean, he knew who Ted Koppel was, he watched Nightline. My father would not believe that if he was watching Rock Center last night, which he wouldn't have, but had he been watching Rock Center last night, he would not believe that Ted Koppel would be blaming his son for the lack of anything getting done in Washington.  (laughing) And then my father would be happier with me than he'd ever been.  But he still couldn't believe it.  He would not believe this. 

He'd look at my mother, and say, "What did we miss when this kid was growing up?  He couldn't even hit a curveball, and now the Congress is blaming him for the fact they don't get anything done."  This is, what, the fourth election in a row and every day since the election I have been blamed in one way or another.  There's more to this.  Marvin Kalb said, "Well, remember years ago when we knew every cameraman who was taking pictures?  I don't know who's taking the pictures anymore, Ted.  I don't know that they're even working for a network."  This is Kalb's lament that they've lost their monopoly.  And now they got all these people in the journalism business, they don't even know who they are anymore. There's just too many people out there, too many people in journalism, too many cameramen.  Gee, Ted, it's impossible to know everybody doing this.  What does that mean?

KOPPEL:  When you go to see a doctor, you're not asking that doctor what his or her politics are.  You simply want that doctor to deal with you on the basis of her best professional expertise.  And whether or not our critics want to believe it, I argue, and I think you'll agree with me, that there really was a time, and there really remain in this country today men and women who can be professional journalists, capable of objectivity.  That doesn't mean that they don't go home at night and rail against the darkness.  It doesn't mean that they don't have favorites in an election.  To this day -- you've known my wife, Grace Anne, for many, many years -- Grace Ann doesn't know how I vote in an election.

KALB:  Really?

KOPPEL:  I don't tell her.  I don't think it's appropriate. 

RUSH:  I don't believe that. 

BREAK TRANSCRIPT

RUSH:  You know, not even Marvin Kalb bought this.  When Koppel said, "You've known my wife, Grace Ann, for many, many years.  She doesn't know how I vote in an election."  "Really?"  "I don't tell her.  I don't think it's appropriate."  That's how good a journalist Ted Koppel is, he doesn't even betray how he votes to his wife.  And she has no clue.  Ted actually said his wife has no idea how he is voting.  Now, Snerdley said, "What in the world have you stopped?  What in the world have you prevented from happening?  What do you mean, these guys all over you preventing people from crossing the aisle.  What have you stopped?  You haven't stopped anything." 

The first two years Obama had a total Democrat Congress, coulda done anything he wanted.  There wasn't anybody that coulda stopped him, and he didn't need anybody crossing the aisle to get anything done.  And that points up, that's really not what these guys are saying when they accuse me of preventing compromise, when they accuse me of scaring Republicans to not crossing the aisle.  That's not really what they're talking about.  They're talking about something entirely different.  I'll explain that. 

RUSH: This is last night, and I guess C-SPAN televised it.  The George Washington University Kalb Report Forum on Ethics and Excellence in Journalism, and we put together here a montage of Marvin Kalb, the host, and Ted Koppel, the guest, talking about the way the media in America used to be when they started in the business.  Now, we all do this, in whatever business we're in, we all go back and talk about "the way it used to be."  These guys are lamenting the loss of their monopoly because that was real power.  They shaped opinion, and that was their purpose.  They may think that they were objectively reporting the news, but they're living in fantasy land if they believe that.  They shaped opinion.  They determined what was covered and how.  And, more importantly, they determined what wasn't covered.  They had their choices. They knew who they wanted to win.  There's always been a pretense at objectivity. 

So when these guys, for example, lament the fact that congressman, Senate, a bunch of cowards, they're afraid of my sharp tongue or Jon Stewart's humor, they're really not saying that I am thwarting compromise.  What they are attempting to do is simply discredit me throughout and entirely on anything and everything that I say, that I am unworthy of this microphone. I am not worthy of the position that I have earned. I'm not worthy of it.  I should not be on the air, is what this means, because this notion that members of Congress are afraid -- look, if they're afraid of anything, it's the mainstream media.  They're afraid of the charge of racism. 

The one thing that shut down the Republican Party in the last five, six years is that charge, maybe even longer than five or six years.  And now this pursuit of Susan Rice, Graham and McCain actively trying to stop her nomination to be secretary of state, James Clyburn of the Congressional Black Caucasians, is out now saying that using the word "incompetent" describing a black is racist.  It's a code word, just like "lazy."  Well, of course it is.  This is where we are in our culture.  Any criticism of any African-American is racist, why, there would be any criticism if it weren't rooted in racism.  This is what they want everybody to believe.  Anyway, I jumped the gun here a little bit.  Listen to Koppel and Marvin Kalb lament the good old days.

KOPPEL:  Take it back to when you and I were young and when you and I began in this business.

KALB:  The good old days of journalism.

KOPPEL:  When you and I were young, there were three networks.  Nightline, we had 70% of all the homes watching television at 11:30 at night.

KALB:  Really?

KOPPEL:  These days we are lucky to have 25%.

KALB:  I remember being able to charter a plane from Rome to Istanbul.

KOPPEL:  In the mid-sixties, if I did a piece out in the field it would be --

RUSH:  Wait a second.  Wait, wait, wait, wait, wait a minute.  What the heck does that mean?  "I remember being able to charter a plane from Rome to Istanbul."  That was Marvin Kalb.  I'm sorry for the interruption here.  But what does that mean?  You think it's economic? (imitating Kalb) "I remember the days where the bottom line didn't count.  I remember the days when we didn't have to be concerned about capitalism and profit."  This is your point?  "I remember the days I could charter a plane from Rome to Istanbul and nobody said anything.  But now I can't.  I'm stuck here at the Kennedy School in Boston and occasionally they let me out to do forums like this in Washington."  That's what he's saying? 

Well, they had big budgets, but they didn't have to make a profit, was the point.  I'll never forget when Laurence Tisch bought CBS.  The first thing, he's looking at the balance sheets of every division at CBS, he said, (paraphrasing) "You know what, I gotta cut some people out of the news division. This news division is losing its tail."  And Dan Rather had a cow, publicly had a cow and went out and started making speeches. (imitating Rather) "The news division should be exempt from the bottom line. The news divisions ought not have to play that game.  I mean, our task is too important.  Our role is too fundamental.  Our job means too much.  We shouldn't have to make a profit.  I'm in the First Amendment." 

I remember about this time I was in Sacramento, in fact, 1984, '85, whatever, and Brokaw was in town, and he was doing something at a local NBC affiliate, and they arranged a phone interview with me, and I asked him about this.  I said, "Can you explain something to me. What is it about news and its desired exemption from the bottom line?"  "Well, no, no.  I think Mr. Rather's very wrong. You have to show a profit."  He knew that it was the wrong thing to say in public.  Okay, take it back to the top.  I mean, of all the things, (imitating Kalb) "I remember the good old days. I could charter a plane from Rome to Istanbul. I could take three reporterettes with me, by the way, at the same time."

KOPPEL:  Take it back to when you and I were young and when you and I began in this business.

KALB:  The good old days of journalism.

KOPPEL:  When you and I were young, there were three networks.  Nightline, we had 70% of all the homes watching television at 11:30 at night.

RUSH:  Stop and think about that.

KALB:  Really?

KOPPEL:  These days we are lucky to have 25%.

KALB:  I remember being able to charter a plane from Rome to Istanbul.

KOPPEL:  In the mid-sixties, if I did a piece out in the field, it would be three days, sometimes, before that piece got on the air.

KALB:  Remember years ago when we knew every cameraman who was taking pictures?

KOPPEL:  I remember a woman by the name of Kernig, wasn't it?

KALB:  Yes, Marie.

KOPPEL:  Marie Kernig.  My memory may be playing tricks on me, but I think I still remember hearing Edward R. Murrow's reports being rebroadcast on the BBC.

KALB:  If you eliminated MSNBC, Fox, and CNN, it would probably improve American democracy overnight.  I'm not saying that we can ever return to the good old days.  That's gone.  That's done.

KOPPEL:  That is seen as hopelessly old-fashioned.

KALB:  I was about to say, Ted --

KOPPEL:  Those days are over.

RUSH:  If you eliminated MSNBC, Fox, and CNN, it would probably improve American democracy overnight.  You see, there is too much democracy out there.  There are too many opinions.  There are too many people saying too many things.  And this guy, Limbaugh, is the root of it. This guy Limbaugh started all this.  There would be an MSNBC if it weren't for Limbaugh.  There wouldn't be a Fox.  This is what these guys think.  There wouldn't be any of this alternative media if it weren't for Limbaugh.  All we'd have to deal with is CNN, and we'd still have 70% watching us.  But when the competition kicked in, they couldn't hold their audience.  So now they lament the good old days.  By the way, what is this, charter a plane from Rome to Istanbul?  Don't you liberals know you're supposed to take the train, save the environment.

BREAK TRANSCRIPT 

RUSH:  Yeah, I'm wondering how these people at CNN feel hearing Ted Koppel and Marvin Kalb talk about how American democracy would be improved if they didn't exist.  'Cause the guys at CNN think they are Ted Koppel and Marvin Kalb and those old guys in the old days.  Nobody watches CNN enough to affect democracy either way, is the bottom line. 

But, anyway, it's funny to listen to these people reminisce.  They had their monopoly, and that's what they can't stand, and that's why, folks, I really believe that's why they've done all-in partisan now.  I think the nature of the media beast is competition obviously.  They were always able to sweep that under the rug. They were always able to act like they were all colleagues, ABC, CBS, NBC, that they didn't care about the ratings, when they always did, they didn't care who was number one, when they always did, they didn't care who made what, when they always did. 

But now that they don't have their 70 shares and now that they don't have this dominance, and now that they don't have this power, they are in a funk over it, and it has forced them out from behind the curtain, so to speak, in a Wizard of Oz kind of circumstance.  I really believe that they have thrown away the pretense to objectivity in a fit of anger over what's happened.  I think they try to prove to themselves each and every day they have not lost that power they used to have.  I think that's the reason that they're so partisan, so admittedly partisan.  I think that's why they've clearly chosen sides and have made no bones about it anymore.  It's all about demonstrating to themselves, as well as everybody else, that they've still got that power.  And they have this deep resentment for all of us interlopers, as I described yesterday. 

These anchors, the Jennings, the Cronkites, they were gods. In their own minds, they were gods.  I mean, you had LBJ saying, "I've lost Cronkite, I've lost the war."  You don't think Cronkite ate that up?  You don't think Cronkite was aware and used that kind of power?  I mean, they loved it.  Anybody would probably, and now it's gone.  But they still like to pretend that it's there.  These are the same people that are always preaching diversity.  These are the same people always preaching inclusiveness.  These are the same people preaching the more, the better, the gorgeous mosaic. 

But where is the gorgeous mosaic when it comes to thought?  Where is the diversity?  See, that's not what they want.  They want diversity of surface characteristics, but they don't want diversity of actual thought.  They want one dominate way of thinking, and anything outside that dominant way has got to be taken out or dealt with or discredited somehow.

END TRANSCRIPT

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