My Response to Chris Wallace on Trump and the Press
Dec 13, 2019
RUSH: To Portland, Oregon, next. Tony, I’m glad you waited, sir. Hello.
CALLER: Hey, Rush. Happy Friday to you. Thanks for taking my call.
RUSH: Yes, sir.
CALLER: I had a couple thoughts recently I wanted to run by you. President Trump by nature is entrepreneurial. He’s always had a knack for seeing need or opportunity, and he’s driven by just creating and building answers or solutions. And I was thinking the other day in his ongoing effort over time here of basically fighting back against false information, false narratives, accusations, basically fake news. You ever think he would consider when he’s out of office after another four years starting his own cable news network?
RUSH: I think it’s possible. I think it’s possible that he would, yes.
CALLER: He could even, just to tick CNN off, he could call it TNN, Trump News Network, “Everything else is fake news,” you know.
RUSH: It would have Trump in it and the icon, the logo would be gold, Trump News Network, Trump Real News, TRN, TFN, Trump No Fake News.
CALLER: Yeah. I’ve never known anybody —
RUSH: It will be the best network there’s ever been. It will be news done better than anybody’s ever done. It will be perfect, perfect news, Sean Hannity will host from 12 noon to 9 p.m.
CALLER: Exactly. I’ve never known anybody in the market that has had such an impact —
RUSH: No, I take it back, Sean Hannity, 3 p.m. to midnight, is what I meant, Sean Hannity from 3 p.m. to midnight with guest appearances by Shep Smith wherever he lives, for a while. What else were you gonna say?
CALLER: I’m sorry, no, I was just saying in my lifetime, Rush, I’ve never seen a person have such —
RUSH: That’s why he might do it. I wouldn’t be surprised.
RUSH: Grab sound bites 13, 14, and 15. You probably have heard this by now, that Chris Wallace was speaking at the Newseum — I think that’s where he was speaking. Yes, it was at the Newseum. And he ripped into Trump as somebody doing more damage to the news business than any president he could remember. The most direct assault on freedom of the press in our history.
But he also said some things beside that — well, that don’t mitigate that, but it wasn’t as one-sided as just those comments. So I want to play the first couple of bites here. I just have some questions. As you know, I have a regular standing appearance on Fox News Sunday every February. I don’t know if I’ll be invited back. (interruption) Well, no, no, no. It just depends. But anyway, here’s the first bite. This was Wednesday at the Newseum, Chris Wallace speaking about Trump and his assaults on the media.
WALLACE: I believe that President Trump is engaged in the most direct, sustained assault on freedom of the press in our history, and I will get to that in a moment. (applause) Before you applaud, listen to the rest of this, because I think many of our colleagues in the news business see the president’s attacks, his constant bashing of the media as a rationale, as an excuse to cross the line themselves to push back, and that is a big mistake.
RUSH: All right. So you may not have even heard the second part of that. I don’t know how much — based on the reactions I’ve gotten, all people heard was Wallace accusing Trump of being engaged in the most sustained assault on freedom of the press. He’s assaulting the press. What’s Trump doing about freedom of the press? He can’t do anything about that. But before I get into this in detail, he then went on and he lambasted CNN, and here is the next part of the bite.
WALLACE: I came here today from having spent all day at Fox News covering the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on the IG report. One of our fellow networks, CNN, today ignored the IG report, ignored all of the statements about terrible misconduct, perhaps illegality on the part of the FBI in its seeking of the FISA warrants against Carter Page.
Now, the last time I checked CNN was pretty interested in the Russia investigation, but they didn’t seem interested in this. The fact is, to be clear, the president has given us plenty to work with. But when we respond to him like that, when we respond with bias, we’re playing his game, not ours.
CALLER: Right. So he was unabashed here in his categorizing CNN as engaging in bias, in this case the bias of omission. And it’s true, CNN did not cover even yesterday, they didn’t cover anything Lindsey Graham said, nothing in his opening statement. They really only covered Horowitz saying there was no political bias, and then every Democrat asking that question 15,000 times. They covered that.
They didn’t cover Horowitz getting into any of the details of the abuse, of the actual FISA warrant application and process. They didn’t cover any of Lindsey Graham’s opening statement or of Ted Cruz’s question — well, they had a little bit of Cruz, but not much. But Wallace is dead on about that. He’s dead on about it. And he called ’em out. Here’s the last bite of this.
WALLACE: Now let’s talk about the president. He has done everything he can to undercut the media, to try to delegitimize us. And I think his purpose is clear. To raise doubts when we report critically about him and his administration that we can be trusted.
RUSH: Okay. Now, my overall question is something that’s not new to what Chris Wallace is saying here. I would like somebody to tell me where it is written that the press cannot be criticized, by anybody. By a president — you know, just because the press has constitutional reference in the First Amendment does not mean they are immune from criticism. The president gets all kinds of constitutional references, and it seems like the press thinks the reason they exist is to criticize and destroy this president and Richard Nixon and George W. Bush and to support presidents like and Barack Obama.
But where is it written that an attack on the press or an analysis of their unfairness and bias threatens them? The one thing I have never understood. The press is beyond criticism? Look, when Trump was elected — and I don’t know if it’s when he was elected or when he got the nomination. I think it was when he was elected. Jim Rutenberg wrote a piece in the New York Times saying it was a new day, that all past journalism principles had to be thrown out the window now. How do we cover a piece of scum like Donald Trump?
Now, he didn’t use those words, but it’s what he meant. The New York Times, which is the leader, the New York Times is responsible for what’s on CNN every day and what’s in the LA Times or the Washington Post. They won’t admit it, but every news organization consults the New York Times to figure out what the news of the day is gonna be and what the angle of it is. (interruption) Oh, don’t question me on this.
Look. When I got to Sacramento in 1984, I got there in October, and I was doing a talk show 9 a.m. to 12 noon, and it was an all-news station. It was KFBK. It was news and talk. And the program director was a great guy by the name of Norman Woodruff. And he had just recently been hired, and he hired me. And he’s running from the newsroom one day, and he can’t find a copy of the New York Times.
So he called a meeting. He started lambasting everybody in the news department. “How in the world can you get up every day? How in the world can you do your job if you do not have a copy of the New York Times? The New York Times is the news. If you don’t know what’s in the New York Times, how in the world can you put on news on this station?”
I said, “Whoa.” We’re 3,000 miles away from the New York Times. But that was my first introduction to the purpose and how the New York Times is used. So the point is, the New York Times runs this piece basically saying bye-bye fairness, bye-bye objectivity, we have got to take this guy out. This guy poses a direct threat to the United States and we gotta take him out. And it was applauded and it opened the door for everybody in the media that was so inclined to begin operating the same way.
And at that point, these people ceased being media, they ceased being the news. It wasn’t the news. It was the daily agenda oriented toward getting rid of Donald Trump, toward overturning the election. Now, why can’t that be said? Why is pointing that out an attack on the freedom of the press? And if the president is being lied about, why can’t he say so, if that’s what he thinks is going on?
Okay. You want to do a chicken or egg thing, who started it. Okay. Well, you go back to the campaign and Trump starts calling ’em fake news. Why did he call ’em fake news? Because they were demonstrably reporting a bunch of things that weren’t true. They were trying to make a big deal out of things that weren’t true. They had made it abundantly clear going as far back as the Republican primaries that they were gonna try to take this guy out.
So what’s he supposed to do, just sit there and watch them try to take him out without calling them out on it? And why is it that the media can say anything they want about whoever it is they’re targeting and whoever is the target cannot respond without being accused of destroying press freedom? The very existent of CNN and MSNBC and the New York Times today is the greatest evidence that there has been no interruption of press freedom that I can think of.
Is Donald Trump not allowed to enter the public arena and attempt to persuade people he wants to vote for him that the coverage he’s getting is packed with lies? Is he not permitted to say that? The media can make things up about people, I know. It happens to me routinely. The media can make things up about people, and even when it’s demonstrated they’ve done that, they will not apologize, and they very rarely will retract. They’ll blame it on a source or something and then tell you to get a thick skin.
But let anybody go after them and it all of a sudden becomes this dangerous assault on the First Amendment. I don’t know anybody who has the power to shut down the media. I don’t know anybody who has the power, other than themselves. CNN’s doing a good job of shutting themselves down. You might want to blame Trump for that, but CNN owns it. CNN owns the fact that they’re bleeding audience, as evidenced by Chris Wallace’s own assessment of the way they covered just one day of news this week. Multiply that day by as many days as there have been since the election of 2016, and that’s what CNN has done.
But CNN’s not alone. The New York Times, the Washington Post, all of these anonymous sources. This story on the Russian meddling or collusion story, it’s all now demonstrated to be bogus? It was all made up? Where is the apology? Where are the mea culpas? Where is the press apologizing to its own audience for misleading them and getting it wrong? Why isn’t that more damaging to them than criticism of them is?
Why is their own work product when it is pathetic and irresponsible and just plain wrong, why isn’t that stated as the reason they are in trouble, instead of trying to blame it on the president criticizing them? But the real thing is, where did this idea derive that they are immune from being criticized, that to criticize the press is somehow to attack freedom? When it is an institution where people in it make their bones destroying people. It’s called speaking truth to power, and it’s called being a watchdog. And it’s called making sure that people with power do not use it in corrupt ways over the defenseless population.
And it works fine when Republicans are in office. There aren’t very many Democrats that have had power spoken to them. The press has become, in my estimation, the energetic and the intellectual leadership and organizer of the Democrat Party. That’s what I think has happened. I no longer think that it’s the media getting its cues from the Democrats. It’s the other way around.
You take a look. When Pelosi got that question from someone, “Why do you hate the president?” Look at what happened. That’s a standard, ordinary, everyday question. That was so unexpected, so uncalled for, and it was so not permissible. As far as the Democrats are concerned, you don’t have the right to be tough with them, and you don’t have the right to put them on the spot like that. And that question came from a journalist the Obama administration literally spied on, James Rosen, who used to work at Fox News.
I’m supposedly in the press. I’m supposedly in the media. But, man, I’m a target like other conservative Republican politicians are. I hit back at ’em. To me it’s all part of the daily process. But the idea that there are those among us immune from criticism and the targets of literal destruction are not permitted to call that out and to react to it? “You need a thicker skin. You need to realize that’s what the press does. You better find a way to get around it. Stop complaining about it.” That’s what we always hear, until Pelosi starts complaining. Then the press feels guilty.