RUSH: Now, just to review, I understood the point that our first caller was making, Peter from Seattle was his name. He basically said, “Look, Megyn Kelly ought to just bump out of this. This is not about her. It’s about the candidates. We got a presidential campaign going on here, and people want to find out what these candidates think, not what the moderators think.”
His real point was not that she should be gracious and back out. His point was that reporters shouldn’t be the ones making news. And on that basis, reporters ought to just step aside here. You know, moderate it, fine, just ring the bell when time’s up. And other than that, let it go, let it be a real debate, not an elongated Sunday show. And a lot of people have this view.
But see, this is my point in the first hour: The game, the rules, the way this has all evolved, the media does control who gets access. The media does control. You’ve heard it, you’ve called here and complained about it. The Republicans have to not only beat the Democrats, they have to beat the media, and you complained that to the Republicans and what do they tell? “Yeah, that’s just the way it is. Yeah, I know. But that’s our cross to bear.” Well, Trump is saying, screw it. I’m not playing that game. It’s a guaranteed loser. I’m not running against Megyn Kelly. I’m not running against Brit Hume. I’m not running against Chris Wallace. And I don’t want them to act like they are running against me.”
But, see, the game has evolved in such a way now that the media does have this prominent role. They determine what is news; they determine what isn’t news. And they determine what you hear about the news in terms of commentary. And they used to have a monopoly on it. Now they don’t, which has made them I think even more partisan. Openly partisan. They’ve always been partisan. Make them more openly partisan than they’ve ever been. But here comes Trump outside the parameters of all this, outside the boundaries, he’s not playing the game. He’s done it, he’s played the game, he’s been a good boy up until now, but this, for whatever reasons that he cites, is too much.
But don’t kid yourself. This isn’t over. There are negotiations going on. The UK Daily Mail has a story here that the feud that Trump is having with Fox News has resulted in Roger Ailes calling his wife and daughter in an attempt to get him back to the debate. Headline of the story: “Donald Trump feud causes panicking Fox News CEO Roger Ailes to call Ivanka and Melania in attempt to get the frontrunner BACK to the debate — but he’ll only speak to Murdoch. Donald Trump’s refusal to attend Fox News’ debate on Thursday night has sent Fox News into chaos.”
Well, now, let’s look at that, ’cause in some people’s minds, that’s what the Daily Mail’s reporting, UK Daily Mail. We’ve cited them as a credible, really good publication. Let’s take a look at this from a number of different angles, shall we? Trump says that he’s not gonna participate in the Fox News debate on Thursday and instead he’s gonna be raising money for vets. Stated reason: Megyn Kelly is gonna be a moderator, and he doesn’t want to go through that again, whatever it is.
Now, over here, let’s not forget there’s a presidential race long after the primaries are over. And for all we know, Trump’s already begun to run that. And one thing that Trump knows is that Democrats and liberals despise Fox News. They hate it. Fox News is Satan to them. Fox News is the anti-Christ. It’s irrational, but they literally hate Fox News. It’s on the brain. I’m sure Roger Moore last night had to get tetanus shots and all other kinds of inoculations before — (interruption) Michael Moore. What did I say? Roger Moore. Oh, yeah. That’s definitely not Roger Moore. Yeah, Michael Moore. I’m sure he had to go over there and get shots before he walked in the building.
Thinking Trump might be making a play to broaden his base for the general election, some people may think that’s what’s going on, which no votes have been cast yet. What if Trump already thinks he’s got this wrapped up and he’s already running the general campaign now? I don’t think that’s the case, but some people are gonna be analyzing it that way. Maybe Trump is just ticked off in general about something, and Megyn Kelly and Fox happen to be the target today for what is ticking him off. Maybe he’s fed up with what he hears from everybody on Fox about himself. Who knows? Is it strategic? Is it personal? Is it both?
The bottom line is, nobody does this. In the process, Trump has taken charge of the media. Well, the media is out there saying you don’t get to control the media, Trump is controlling the media. “Nobody gets to control the media.” Yeah, they do, if they can. Are you telling me that Bill Clinton hasn’t controlled the media, Barack Obama doesn’t control the media? Don’t make me laugh. Any way you slice this, Donald Trump is the story. He’s the story when he’s there; he’s the story when he’s not there. Telling Fox News he doesn’t want to be there is a story. He says he’s got endorsements to announce. You know, you don’t have time for you people at Fox, but this guy, this evangelist over here, Falwell Jr., in my camp. Guy’s smart. Guy loves me. Best evangelist going. Better than any evangelist out there, ’cause he endorsed me. You know the drill.
So here we are, he’s trailing in Iowa on some polls. Some polls he’s ahead in Iowa, nip and tuck. He’s in the process of orchestrating massive media attention on his terms, just before the caucuses on Monday night. He hasn’t won Iowa, and for all we know he’s still a few points behind. People say if he wins Iowa, that means he’s gonna run the table and win the whole shebang. Ted Cruz is out saying that’s a possibility, that’s why you’ve got to vote for me. Don’t waste your vote on any of these other Republicans up here, says Cruz, you got to vote for me.
By the way, if Trump actually doesn’t show up — and I think it’s still an open question — that’s another thing. You don’t know for sure what’s gonna happen until the thing starts and he’s not there. And even then you don’t know if he’ll try to join the thing in progress. I mean, look, folks, where Trump is concerned, there aren’t any rules. And if there are, he has no problem blowing past them.
Now, just recently Donald Trump is talking about he’s the guy, he could make deals. He could do deals with Harry Reid; he could do deals with Nancy Pelosi; he could do deals with Chuck Schumer. I would expect tomorrow night we’ll hear Ted Cruz speak a lot about that. Cruz will probably ask, “Doing deals with Schumer, Pelosi? Is that how we’re gonna make America great again?” The risk Trump runs not showing up is that there will be nobody to rebut whatever anybody says about him, from the other candidates. But he’s obviously tossed that into the calculations that he has made.
How’s it gonna play with the caucus-goers? Well, that’s like trying to analyze why Trump’s supporters hang with him through everything that he does or doesn’t do. Nobody knows any of this stuff yet. All of this, much of it, in a real sense, is unprecedented, which is why a lot of people are so unnerved by it. Now, there are people that hate Trump, too, and for them, Megyn Kelly’s a hero. And for them, Fox News is the greatest thing to come down the pike. There are people that despise Trump, Republicans, conservatives, think Trump is dangerous, the worst thing that could possibly happen. So all of this that Fox is doing, they love it, they’re supporting it, don’t doubt that Fox has their allies in this.
Fox is getting plaudits from all over the place. But Fox is making it clear they would rather have Trump there. They’re disappointed Trump isn’t gonna show up, for whatever reasons, take your pick. Trump has positioned himself, you could almost say that he is beyond news. You can’t just cover Trump from the prism of news. You have to cover Trump also through the entertainment prism. And Megyn Kelly, she herself has been featured on the covers of many pop culture magazines and at websites.
That is called broadening the base. That’s called reaching out beyond the confines of what people think a news anchor is. That’s called redefining and resetting the table for the purposes of marketing and expanding the number of people that might tune in. Fox News would love to have viewers that are interested in things other than just the news. I mean, how else are they gonna grow their audience? So you could argue that all of this, boiled down to its essence, is show business of one form or another. And if that’s the case, who’s better at it than anybody else? Who’s familiar with it, who knows how to do show business media?
Some people, when they’re faced with the media, are simply compliant and polite and try to answer the questions and others look at them as people with whom you have to engage in combat. And some say I’d just rather them not be involved in what I’m doing at all. The hell with them. Why do I have to basically bow down and kiss their feet to get where I want to go? Trump is media savvy. He knows TV and a big part of knowing TV is not fearing it. That’s why I have to chuckle when I hear people, “Oh, man, Trump, not looking good, afraid of Megyn Kelly? What do you mean? If you’re afraid of Megyn Kelly how you gonna negotiate with Putin?”
It isn’t about being afraid of anybody. And, by the way, let me restate something. Every syllable of commentary from me today is coming from a point of absolutely no support or opposition to one candidate or another. Nothing I say today is shaped by personal preference in this race. That’s why I opened the program the way I did.
RUSH: If I may, folks, let me remind you of a point that I have made on many previous occasions over and over again. There isn’t any news anymore. The media is not news. Not in the sense that you turn to the media to find out what happened couple hours ago that you didn’t know or what happened last night that you didn’t know. That’s what people think the news is. It isn’t the news. The news, depending on where you get it, there’s an agenda behind every bit of it. The Drive-By Media, mainstream media, is the Democrat Party agenda and how to advance it.
It consists of never-ending criticism and mocking of the Republican Party and conservatives. It’s called “news.” It’s called “the news media.” But there isn’t any news. Oh, there may be some news on weekends when the agenda’s gone to sleep for a while. They may be telling you what’s going on at some — I don’t know — national park with a fire or something. But there’s no news anymore, every bit of it. And more and more it’s descending into show business, entertainment news of one degree or another.
That’s the reduction that is taking place here in much of — and by that, I mean it’s all personality oriented, on both sides of the camera, on both sides of the microphone. Now, Trump isn’t even unprecedented here. Do you remember the RNC canceled a debate on NBC? Remember why? ‘Cause they didn’t like the questions that were asked by the CNBC moderators, if you remember that. Remember, that was the debate where Ted Cruz stopped everything for a minute and said. “The questions being asked here are absurd. They’re ridiculous, they’re offensive, and they’re distracting.”
Everybody applauded and all that, and the CNBC moderators smirked and laughed and they chuckled. Even though they were being ripped to shreds, they thought, “Home run, man! We became the story.” The idea that members of the media are not the story? Don’t make me laugh. The idea that the media gets out of the way, doesn’t want to become the story? Wrongo. Who’s gonna pay you $6 million a year to anchor a program where you aren’t the news? You have to be. If they’re gonna pay you $6 million, $12 million, whatever it is, you better be the reason people are tuning in.
And if you are the reason people are tuning in, it’s not that you’re doing news in the standard definition of the news. There’s something else going on. And it’s happening throughout the media. It’s all now personal. It’s all opinion in one degree or another. And the reductio ad absurdum is show business. Reductio ad absurdum. That, if you want to say, the lowest common denominator. That’s what all… It’s all personality oriented. But the RNC told NBC, “Screw you guys. We’re pulling the debate from your network in February.”
Did you see NBC spend two days (crying)? NBC did not act like anything big happened. “Okay, fine. You don’t want to debate here? All right, we’ll kill you somewhere else.” The RNC told National Review, “You know what? We’re not gonna let you moderate the next debate.” “Why? What’d we do?” “Well, that anti-Trump issue you ran! He’s our front-runner. Screw you! You can’t come here.” So what Trump’s doing is not unique. Bernie Sanders… I don’t know if you care or if heard, but Bernie Sanders is not gonna do the next Democrat debate.
Now, Bernie’s not gonna go, not because of the moderators. See, the reason this, with Trump, is news, is because he’s saying the media is the reason. And the media, everything’s about them. Do not think anything but. Everything’s about them. “He’s not showing up because of us? How dare he!” Whatever. If Trump had said, “You know, I’m not showing up ’cause I think Ted Cruz is whatever. I’m not gonna put up with Ted Cruz anymore.” They would make news, but they wouldn’t be righteously indignant and so forth.
It would not be covered nearly the same way as when the media — and don’t think for a moment they don’t love being the reason, because everybody wants to be the story. If you’re on social media, you want everybody to know who you are, and you want gazillions of followers. If you’re in the broadcast media you want everybody watching you knowing who you are because of what you do, not because of what anybody else does on your show.
RUSH: Here’s Rich White Plains, New York. Hello, Rich. Great to have you with us.
CALLER: Hey, Rush, thanks for taking my call.
RUSH: Yes, sir.
CALLER: Rush, there’s a fundamental flaw in the debate process that’s being overlooked. There’s a conflict of interest when the ratings-driven broadcast network provides moderators where it isn’t issue driven, but intended to start infighting between candidates — or, like you said before, shine the spotlight on the moderator with their great-but-stupid gotcha questions. And I think these debates should be conducted by Hillsdale College, National Review, or the Heritage Foundation and let the highest bidder in the universe of broadcast networks point up the cameras and set up the microphones.
RUSH: The highest bidders. You mean as opposed to assigning it by some debate commission?
CALLER: Well, I’m not exactly sure how that would work, Rush. Maybe you would know better. I mean, if that were the format where they were independent, the people putting on the debate, and then how you would go about getting a broadcast network to —
RUSH: Let me translate what I think you’re really saying, and you tell me if I’m on the mark or not. It seems to me your real point is that we wouldn’t even be talking about this if it weren’t for the fact that debate moderators end up being so damn important in this process —
CALLER: Exactly right, Rush.
RUSH: — and that ought not be.
CALLER: Absolutely. You got it. That is exactly right.
RUSH: That’s why I sit in this chair, folks. I make the complex understandable. And it’s a good point. I think your point reflects the thinking of a lot of people. My dad… You know, my dad lived and breathed this stuff, and he had the same attitude you do. “Why are these people…?” His idea was, put blindfolds on the media. We don’t even know they are. They should just be in the background. Anybody can ask questions we want to know the answers to. But they become as important as the candidates. That’s part of the game, folks. That’s the rule, ’cause it’s showbiz.
Don’t forget, this is… As much as we might want to think that civics and public responsibility and the issues of the day and finding the best candidates — making sure that they are best equipped to deal with the evil in the world that opposes us and the right economic policies — don’t forget that before we get there, we have to make sure that the noted stars get their due along the way. Candidates, media people, moderators, endorsers, you name it. I’m not trying… No, no, no, no, folks. It is what it is. That’s why you have to wade through the noise here. That’s what I mean by making the complex understandable. It’s a great point that he’s raising here.