BLITZER: The president, Gloria, has just given an interview to Rush Limbaugh, radio interview in which he doubled down on his decision that unless there’s a border wall with Mexico and other immigration issues, he’s willing to shut down the federal government. He says, “A lot of good people ask me, could we do it after the election? They’ve been good to me.” This what the president told Rush Limbaugh. Quote, “I think it’s a great campaign issue. I think it would be great before. But I don’t want to disappoint a lot of great people.” So he’s insisting he’s ready to shut down the government at the end of September when the fiscal year ends.
BORGER: It sounds like he’s listening to them. Plus, don’t forget, they want to get Brett Kavanaugh confirmed for the Supreme Court. Well, how are they gonna do that if the Congress is shut down?
RUSH: Easy. You get Kavanaugh confirmed first and then you shut it down. This isn’t hard. What do you mean, how do you get Kavanaugh confirmed? You know, this reminds me, I’ve been going back and forth about how introspective to get on this program today vis-a-vis 30 years into it. But that just — I’ve gotta say something. But here’s the second bite.
This is Wolf. They had not had time to actually cut up any audio, so they’re just talking about it. The president’s appearance on this program, which is about an hour and a half ago. So here’s Wolf now picking up from Borger, who just said, “How are you gonna get Kavanaugh confirmed if the Congress is shut down?” Here’s Wolf.
BLITZER: The president also said there are evil people here in Washington in this interview with Rush Limbaugh. Let me read to you another quote from the president. “You have a lot of bad people in Washington. You knew that a long time ago. Frankly, before I knew it. I had no idea how evil some of them are. But you have some great people, too.” So he’s doubling down on his evil people here in Washington.
RUSH: What you mean doubling down on his evil people? So he’s doubling down on shutting down the government, and he’s doubling down on his evil people here in Washington. Wolf, let me help you out. This is so frustrating. Wolf, if you’re Donald Trump — no. Wolf, you’re not Donald Trump. You’re you.
You’re you, and the entirety of the Washington establishment who you love and respect, and you think love and respect you, all of a sudden start reporting stories four or five times a day that everything you’ve achieved has been because Vladimir Putin or somebody else helped you. That you’re not genuine, Wolf, that you’re a pretender, that you’re a fake, that you’re a phony, and this goes for a year and a half.
And it’s people that you’ve known all of your life, people that Donald Trump has known, people that he has been aware of and have known him, he gets elected president, all of a sudden he becomes the absolute worst example of humanity in the country. He becomes a racist, he becomes a bigot, he becomes a sexist, he becomes a traitor, he becomes Adolf Hitler. Are you telling me that he’s wrong to think that there are some really bad people in that town?
Wolf, they’re trying to destroy him, and you’ve joined them! You’ve signed on to ’em, Wolf! You and all of CNN have signed on with the idea that Trump needs to be sent packing, despite the fact that he won an election that you nor anybody else at CNN could ever hope to accomplish. And yet he’s the one that’s disqualified, he’s the one that’s unqualified, he’s the persona non grata, by people who could not wear his underwear, could not do in 10 years what Trump does in an average day. This is what galls me about these people. Which leads me to something else.
You know, I was telling people here during the break that I was kind of stressing over this program today. Thirty years is a big deal to a lot of people. It’s another day to me, but it is a big deal. But the people that have worked with me for all the years, it’s a huge deal to be part of something that has been number one, that has been dominant, that is winning.
I mean, the number of people on the highly overrated staff who have left this program in 30 years, you can count ’em on one hand. I think only one of them’s been fired, two of ’em have been close. They’re still here. There are some people barely cutting it here, but we hang onto ’em because we’re good people. They don’t know who they are.
No, seriously. It’s a big deal to them, because everybody wants to be on a successful, winning team. It’s a source of great pride, especially when you are an important contributor to it. And so I realize this. And it’s something that I want to acknowledge for all of the people who have enabled me and helped me and assisted me to do this. And one of the main ways they do it is by not distracting me. They take care of things without having to ask me about it. That’s a luxury, folks, to have people who you just trust to do what needs to be done, whatever it is, whatever area they’re working on.
And they don’t complain or whine when something goes wrong, somebody’s not carrying their weight. ‘Cause all of that is nothing but distraction, and they know that that’s not good. So it is a big deal to them, and it is an equally big deal to me. My only reservation is that this is not the end of it. After we finish today, gotta get ready to do it all again tomorrow.
I’m not saying that for effect. I mean, that’s crucial. Last Friday I sent an assignment for Monday’s show up to Cookie one hour after the program ended on Friday. I’d gone home and I’m already working on Monday. I’m looking at things that I missed and so forth. So they’re very much attuned to what happens here. And it is a big deal.
But I was stressing over how much time to spend on that today. Because the things happening every day are crucially important, and when I haven’t commented on something that people think is important, then, well, it’s not good, because they’re expecting me to, and they want to hear what I have to think about it; so those are expectations that I try to fulfill every day.
So how to balance all of this on this program has been a challenge. And I decided I’m not gonna try to balance it; I’m just gonna do it as it happens, and if I feel like doing a remembrance, I’ll do it. Which I do right now. And it’s related in part to this sound bite that Borger and Blitzer just had. But it’s also in relation to an email that I got last night and the phone call from the Trump supporter who said two years ago he could wear his Make America Great Again hat, go to dinner with anybody that he knew, even if they weren’t gonna vote for Trump, and there wasn’t anything wrong, everybody laughed about it, had a great time.
Trump wins, and people he thought were his friends have abandoned him. They think his nuts, don’t want anything to do with him. And I was listening to the Rush to Excellence sound bites from Sacramento — it was in July, by the way, of 1989. And it got me to thinking about the success of this program and how truly, if you’ll excuse what will apparently sound like a trip to Egoville but isn’t, the degree of success of this program is unique in this business.
This business has changed tremendously from when I was in it, when I started. My first job away from home, as I say, was in suburban Pittsburgh 1971. I’ve been fired seven times in this business. And only one of them for something I probably should have been fired for. The rest of it was just the vagaries of the business. That’s the point. People get fired all the time. It was not something negative on your resume unless it was malcontent kind of stuff. It wasn’t necessarily resume enhancing, but it was just the way the business is.
That doesn’t happen now. More people than ever are working in broadcasting. There are more people who’ve never done broadcasting who are in broadcasting. There are more people on television that have never been on television. The media world has expanded and has grown, and there’s all kinds of people in it who have never studied it professionally, they’ve never apprenticed in it, they’re just in it. And they have the freedom to make the mistakes you make when you’re young and have it looked at the other way; so forth.
But it wasn’t that way for me. I had to climb the ladder as it existed back then. And without boring you the details ’cause you know them, your life has been the same. But where I’m really headed with this is that in an America not too far long ago, the story of this program from its beginning to its success would be something celebrated by everybody. Not because everybody would agree with it, but because of the distinctive nature of the achievement and because of whatever it took, be it work, commitment, or talent, devotion, in order to achieve what’s been done. That would be one of the reasons why it would be noteworthy.
But in today’s America, a story like mine — and there are many like mine — is of very little value. It’s not very impressive, and it doesn’t matter much to people because of the divisions that exist in the country. We are a country governed by a pretty relatively small group of elites who all go to the same schools, who grew up in the same neighborhoods, summered and socialized the same ways, same places, with the same people. And if you don’t come from that elite strata of our society, then you don’t count. And whatever success you have is not noteworthy; it’s not anything special; it’s nothing. And, as such, it’s not something that could be used to inspire others.
But when I was growing up, stories like mine, when I read about them and other people, were the kind of thing that inspired positive thinking and a can-do, you-can-do-it attitude. And we come to a point now where in America, because of the nature, you know, my program occurs in the world of politics. So the success that I’ve had and this program has had, has actually made me an enemy of this group of elites — and if not an enemy, then a nonentity. And I think it’s a sad thing.
America used to be known for people — you’ve heard the old cliche, people who pulled themselves up by their bootstraps. What that meant was that people without connections, without having the road paved for them — and nothing wrong with that, by the way. People can’t help how they’re born, where they’re born, they can’t help who their parents are. But for people who didn’t have those advantages and made it anyway, that was a big deal. And those people always had a story to tell, and the story they told was always inspiring. It was also motivating for people. ‘Cause it told other people that didn’t have those connections that they could do it too.
Well, now these kinds of success stories are mocked, they’re made fun of, and the people who achieve these kinds of stories like mine are ridiculed, and the people responsible for the success are also ridiculed, such as you. “Well, of course you could be number one,” they’d say, “I could be number one if I had a bunch of idiots in the audience that believed everything I said.” That’s the way they will disqualify this program as an American success story by mocking and denigrating anybody that had anything to do with it, including you, including me.
Now, this is relatively new. Little did I know, when I went back to my hometown to do one of these Rush to Excellence appearances, I’ll never forget, it was at the Arena building. I think the Arena building holds 2,500 people if you could convince that many to go into it. But somehow I think I got close to filling it up. And I thought, you know, in my speech tonight, I’m gonna say some complimentary things, and I told them I’m being truthful. I do not think — and I’ll say here — when I did this. This is like 28 years ago. I sometimes wonder if I would have been as successful had I not been born and raised in the heartland, in the middle of this country.
I didn’t come from any elite family status. In our little town it may have been, but in the big consideration of things, it wasn’t anything special, certainly no wealth. And I didn’t even finish college, hated it, didn’t want to. My parents were devastated when I quit. But I wouldn’t have the value base that I have, had I not grown up, probably. I mean who’s to say? But if I’d grown up in one of these elite patches of the Northeast, I doubt that I would have the core beliefs that I have now and that I have not shed in the endure 30 years that I’ve been doing this.
But, see, people that come up not just geographically from outside the Northeast or the coastal capital, but if you don’t have a college pedigree, if you don’t have particularly an Ivy League pedigree, then these kind of success stories in many places are mocked and laughed at.
Now, at first, it disturbed me, because at first success meant gaining approval. But it didn’t take me long to figure out that I was being silly. Here I am criticizing the people I’m expecting to bestow this successful vibe on me. But it’s a shame at the same time, because not rags to riches, but bootstraps. People following their passions, going against the odds.
You know, I can’t tell you how many people told me, “Don’t do radio. It’ll chew you up and spit you out. You’re not good enough. You don’t have what it takes. If you want to stay in radio, go in sales.” I can’t tell you the number of people, but everybody’s had people tell ’em that, “You’re not good enough.” Those are people that are afraid you’re gonna do better than they did. But whatever odds that you overcome and whatever success you reach, to me that is its own success story. It has its own value as inspirational and motivational.
But in the America we live in today, it has no value. What has value is networking associates and friends and where you came from, not what you’ve accomplished. It’s how somebody like Wolf Blitzer and Gloria Borger who couldn’t do Donald Trump for a day can sit here and claim he’s the problem with America. And not just Trump; anybody else. But we’ve gotten to a point where people who can’t do diddly-squat but sit there and criticize and lie and defame people are considered the smart people in the country, and they get to sit in judgment of who is worthwhile and valid and who isn’t.