RUSH: Okay, where are we on the situation here with Trump and the debate? So far Trump says he’s not showing up. He claims he’s not showing up because Megyn Kelly is going to continue to be a moderator. And if you believe that, I can give you substantive reasons. And it’s all in The Art of the Deal. Trump is not that hard to understand if you pay attention to him and read his books. In The Art of the Deal, one of the things that he makes a huge deal about is being able to know when to walk away and have the guts and the courage to do it.
Trump is so far outside the formula that has been established for American politics that people who are inside the formula can’t comprehend it. They don’t understand why somebody would want to venture so far outside it, because it is what it is, and there’s a ladder of success that you have to climb. And somebody challenging it like this in more ways than one, as Trump is doing, has just got everybody experiencing every kind of emotion you can: They’re angry, they are flabbergasted, they’re shocked, they’re stunned — and all of it because he’s leading.
Everything he’s doing goes against the book. Everything that any analyst or consultant or professional would tell you not to do, Donald Trump is doing it, and he’s leading the pack. This creates its own set of emotions and feelings and thoughts that run from person to person. Now, the political business, if you want to look at it that way, is like any other business. It has its people who are considered the elites in it — and like any business, they hate outsiders. They don’t want outsiders just storming in trying to take over, and much less succeeding at it.
Like any group of elites, they’re exclusionary.
They want to keep people out.
They want to be in charge of who gets in the club. They want to be in charge of who’s allowed to rise or climb the ladder in the club. Politics is no different, and all of those determinations are made by who gets money and who doesn’t. But Trump is functioning totally outside this structure that has existed for decades. As such, the people who are only familiar with the structure and believe in it and cherish it and want to protect it, feel threatened in ways that you can’t even comprehend. So that leads them to try to figure out: How is all this working for Trump? Why do his followers grow? Why does his support expand every time he busts a rule wide open?
RUSH: It probably isn’t necessary, but let me again say that whatever I say today about this or anything else today is not coming from a position of support for any candidate or opposition to any candidate. So whatever I happen to say about what I think of Trump skipping the debate, reaction to it, it’s not rooted in — and don’t even consider that it’s rooted in the fact that you think I might be doing it in support of Trump or in opposition to Trump or in support of Cruz or anybody else. It’s none of that.
You’ve heard the phrase “the game.” Every business has aspects of it that are considered the game, and that’s the routine. And the game is characterized by everybody knowing the rules of the game. People involved in it play by the rules. Some venture outside now and then, but the rules pretty much of the game are adhered to because it’s a matter of respect for the game in which everybody is in.
And in this business one of the games is that when the media calls, you answer, and when the media wants you, you go, and when the media is going to host a debate and it’s part of a Republican presidential campaign, you go. You just do it, no matter what the media’s done to you in the past, no matter what you think of it, whether you want to go or not, you go. That’s the game.
Trump is so far outside this game, he’s so far outside the rules, he’s never been a player in this game. He’s always been an outsider. I heard people on Fox last night talking about this. “Who does he think he is? He can’t control the media.” I got news for you: He is controlling the media, and it’s his objective. He is controlling the media. He controls the media when he’s not on it. He controls the media when he is on it. He controls the media when he’s asleep. Nobody else has been able to do anything like this short of the Kennedys, and they’re pikers compared to the way Trump is doing this.
Now, it’s very simple, if you read The Art of the Deal or if you know Donald Trump at all, it’s very simple: He had an unpleasant experience in the first debate, and in his mind, the question that he was asked was rigged. Don’t forget, before that first debate, remember all of the news stories that were floating around saying that that debate, somebody at Fox had been given orders by the Republican establishment to take Trump out. Remember that? There were any number of so-called sources for this. Some said it was the donors demanding it. Some said that it was Fox News executives demanding it. Some said it was the RNC demanding it.
Well, Trump’s not immune. He hears it. And even if he hadn’t heard it he would have to know that they want to take him out; he’s outside the game; he’s breaking all the rules. He’s exposing so much as fraud that has gone on inside the American political process for so long they can’t allow somebody like this to win and succeed. It’s quite natural they would want to take him out as well. It’s Bengals-Steelers time here, folks. It’s quite natural they’d want to take him out. Well, he heard it.
Here comes Megyn Kelly’s first question. He didn’t hear anybody else get a question like that. He never sees Hillary Clinton get a question like that. He never hears Bill Clinton or another Democrat get a question like that. So he answers it and says screw this. I’m not putting myself in that position again. Why should I? I don’t have to.
But the rules of the game say when there’s a debate, you show up. Screw the rules, he’s saying. Why should I willingly give them another shot at me in a circumstance they control, why should I do it? What’s the sense in it for me? I’m leading; I’m running the pack here; why in the world should I put myself in that circumstance? I’ve already seen what’s gonna happen.
I don’t think it’s any more complicated than that. I mean, there could be some personal things going on here that I don’t know about. But just from the standpoint of knowing Trump, reading his book, and seeing how he operates elsewhere, in his mind, screw the rules, screw what’s expected, screw “This is just the way you do it.” I’m not gonna put myself in a position go where I’m gonna be treated unfairly. I don’t have to. I’m Donald Trump. Anybody can do this. Ted Cruz could choose to do it if he wants to. They just don’t. Cruz and the rest of the pack are playing the rules of the game. Trump is saying I don’t have to do it. I don’t want to do it. I don’t have any respect for these people. What the hell.
In addition to that, Donald Trump knows that by not showing up, he’s owning the entire event. Some guy not even present will end up owning the entire event, and the proof of that is Fox News last night. I have to tell you, folks, this is where this gets tough for me. I was stunned watching Fox News last night. Fox News was acting like they had been jilted at the altar. If it had been me — and this is easy to say — if it had been me and Donald Trump makes a big to-do about not showing up for the debate, report the story and move on. Talk about Ted Cruz. Go talk about the other candidates. Go talk about Hillary and the FBI. There’s a lot of news out there. But don’t devote the rest of the night to how a candidate’s not showing up because of you. I mean, the network, not just Megyn Kelly.
Then they bring in the analysts to analyze what it all means. I’m watching this and I’m really — very hard for me to say here — I’m stunned watching this. Because everybody has to know, everybody that’s involved has to know that this is exactly one of the things Trump is hoping to achieve. Then bringing Michael Moore on late in that program to mock Trump.
Look, I understand the warfare that has been established here. If you look at some of the things that Trump’s campaign spokesman, Corey Lewandowski has said, if you read between the lines, it looks like what really has ticked ’em off over at Trump central is the mocking of Trump in the official PR statements that Fox has released, making fun, they’re gonna call Putin, they’re gonna call in the ayatollah, and the ayatollah and Putin, whatever. That might have been the nail in the coffin as opposed to any lack of desire to face Megyn Kelly.
But folks, one other thing about this. If I heard it once last night, I’ve heard it a thousand times since, that Trump is afraid of Megyn Kelly or afraid of Fox News. That is not what this is. There isn’t any fear. What is there is here — in my opinion — is a desire to control this and a purposeful decision to not put himself in a circumstance where other people want to make him look bad.
In his mind, that’s a dumb thing to do. You don’t put yourself in a circumstance where a whole bunch of other people are gonna be able to make you look bad while you’re there. If they do it when you’re not around, that’s another thing, you can counterprogram it, you can do whatever, but you don’t have to put yourself in a circumstance where you have to personally deal with it as a sign of disrespect or somebody else trying to notch their belt. It really isn’t any more complicated than that.
Now, Trump’s out there talking about how they’re desperate to have him because high ratings means a lot of advertising revenue. Lower ratings means lower advertising revenue because Fox has to charge less. They were hoping to get $750,000 a minute, I heard, and they may be down to $150,000 a minute if Trump isn’t there. I mean, these are samples of the kind of things going around.
Now, should Trump be there or not, that’s a whole other question. Is Trump right in avoiding someplace that makes him look bad, or has the potential to make him look bad? Is it a smart move? Is it a bad move? Well, is it a smart move in terms of Iowa? I heard last night — this is another thing. I’m sorry, it went in one ear and out the other. “You know, the people of Iowa are not gonna like it. The people of Iowa, they’re not gonna take it very well, a guy purposely avoiding them, that’s what Trump’s doing, he’s avoiding the people of Iowa.” He’s not avoiding the people, come on.
He’s not avoiding the people of Iowa. He’s all over Iowa. The guy does more TV and radio than any other candidate out there. So I don’t think there’s fear, and I don’t think it’s disrespect for the people of Iowa. This is what it looks like when some guy stands up to the rules and the game and says, “Screw yours; I’m looking out for me first. That’s all this is. And you can say whatever you want, but I am not dumb. I’m not gonna give you the gun and the bullet and stand still. You want to hit me, come get me, but I’m not gonna put myself in your line of fire.” That’s what he’s doing, if you ask me.
RUSH: We’ve just scratched the surface on this. There’s a lot to add to this because there’s new elements now to add to it. But I routinely am asked in the e-mail by people in the audience, “Why don’t you do more TV? You’re never on TV.” And there’s an answer for that: “I don’t want to.” The reason is, why would I go someplace where I know that exactly whatever they tell me they want to talk to me about, it’s not gonna be that? Why would I go someplace that I know doesn’t support me, doesn’t like me, disagrees with me, would love to embarrass me or damage my show?
Why should I do that? I have no desire. But the rules say, “Camera, TV! You gotta go on.” No. I don’t want it, I don’t like it, and I certainly don’t want to reward the people who have been spreading misquotes and lies for years. Why should I help them? That’s me personally. That’s why I don’t do a whole lot of TV. Folks, you wouldn’t believe the number of times a week that we turn down invitations here. I don’t mention it because there’s never been a reason to, but it’s appropriate now to tell you since I get questions about it anyway.
It’s all about not rewarding people who I know do not have my best interests at heart, who I know have no interest in anything other than notching their belt. Why help ’em? Especially when I don’t like doing makeup anyway. So for me, it’s a no-brainer. And it’s also easy. I don’t have to go on TV to be seen or heard, so I’m fortunate in that regard. A lot of people, the only way they can be seen or heard is to go on TV. And they end up loving it and so forth. It’s never captivated me.
Anyway to the phones. I want to get started on phones early here ’cause people I know have their own thoughts and questions. We’re gonna start with Peter in Seattle. Thanks for calling, sir. You’re up first, and hello.
CALLER: Thank you, Rush. It’s wonderful to talk to you on a day like today. I’m always excited to hear your guidance and your view on things.
RUSH: Thank you, sir, very much. My view is basically that Megyn Kelly needs to step out of the way of the story. We’re talking about the presidential race, leadership of this country. If somebody needs to be able to take a shot at Trump, it’s Cruz and the other candidates. Megyn had her chance in the first debate. I don’t believe she laid a glove on him. She may want a rematch, but Trump’s the champ and the card is the other candidates.
RUSH: Okay. So you’re serious. You think that Megyn…? On what basis? For what reason should Megyn say…? I guess you’re saying she should announce that she is removing herself from the moderators table, and —
CALLER: I think this would be a very journalistically ethical thing to do.
RUSH: No, no, no, no. That would…? Oh. Now, look, let’s construct a scenario here. Let’s put your idea together in an actual hypothetical, okay? Let’s examine it. Let’s say later today Fox News and Megyn Kelly jointly announce that in the interests of the country, in the interests of the Republican presidential contest, that she is taking the great move of removing herself because she doesn’t want to be the reason the people of Iowa are not permitted an opportunity to see one of the candidates. Can you see something like that happening?
There is just no way anything like… These are the rules of this game I’m talking about, folks. The media run this game. The media are never to blame for anything that goes wrong. They have total immunity where all this is concerned. The media has their immunities, and the way everybody plays the game, you have to go through the media to get where you want to go if you are in politics. You have to. And you have to bite your lip along the way. And if you don’t, then you have made a perpetual enemy of people (as goes the saying) who buy ink by the barrel.
In this case, that’s cable news, airwaves, whatever the analogy would be. The media does not look at themselves as an obstacle. The media looks at themselves as part of the obstacle course anybody has to pass in order to get where they want to go in politics. And Trump is saying, “I don’t like those rules. Who says I have to go through you? Who says I have to look good according to what you say? Who says I have to get to the American people through you? Why can’t I just do my own event?
“Why can’t I buy my own microphone, my own camera, my own time, and talk to the American people without you? It seems to me a lot more efficient — and, more importantly, I control it, and I don’t have to deal with people maybe misrepresenting me or putting me in a bad light.” The other players in the game who’ve always abided by these rules were shocked and dismayed that somebody would mock the game this way and to upset it like this. “This cannot stand,” and so forth. But no journalist is ever gonna take themselves out. I don’t think they should, by the way.
You might consider it to be super patriotic.
But don’t forget one of my favorite journalism stories of all time.
Bernard Shaw was in the al-Rashid Hotel during the first Gulf War. It was one of our targets. He got out of there. The US military got Bernard Shaw out. When he got home, the US military wanted to debrief him to find out what he had seen about the enemy, and he said, “I refuse! That would compromise my journalistic ethics.”
“What do you mean, ‘journalistic ethnics’?”
“Well, I can’t help one side over the other.”
“Well, it’s your own country in a war, for crying out loud.”
“Sorry. I can’t help.”
Not even realizing that it’s his own country’s Constitution permitting him to do what he’s doing. But he couldn’t compromise his ethics to help his own country.
I’ve never forgotten that.
RUSH: No, no. I know the guy from Seattle, Peter, the point was that journalists shouldn’t be the story. Hey, folks, that ship sailed long ago back with Dan Rather and Sam Donaldson. You can pine away, but that’s all you’ll be doing.