RUSH: Snerdley actually reminded me of this in the break. When the Republicans won the House in 1994, they had their orientation at Camden Yards, the ballpark in Baltimore. I was invited to address the freshman class of the 1994 Republican congressional caucus, because those freshmen members in large part thought that I was responsible for their victory given the program at the time and discussing their candidacies all over the country and so forth. They made me an honorary member of the freshman class of 1994, actually ’95 when they were inaugurated. They asked me to come down and make a speech to them. I went down there to the Camden Yards. This was on C-SPAN, and I got up, and one of the things I said to them was, Do not fall for the temptation that the media here in this town is happy that you won and happy that you’re here. They are not. This is a Democrat-run town. It’s a liberal-run town, and you have gotten in the way of the natural order of things — and as such, you are going to be treated accordingly. You are going to continue to be treated, really, as the minority.
I said, The cameras and microphones are still going to seek out the Democrats for what they think of what’s going on because the impression will be conveyed that they still run the town. Do not think that any media member that calls you up and wants to take you to lunch is doing it because they like you. They’re not doing it because they’re interested in making you look good. They don’t want to get to know you so that they can publicize what it is you’re working on in a favorable light. They want to sandbag you. You’re going to have some of these delicious little reporterettes and info babes call. Cokie Roberts is going to call you up. She’s going to bat those big eyelashes at you and a lot of other info babes are going to do the same.”
Cokie Roberts actually sent me a note after that when she heard about it and said, Let’s go to lunch. (Laughing.) She did bat the eyebrows at me. I never did go, although I met her later. Anyway, I’m reminded of that when I see what happened here. In large part, what got Libby in trouble? Talking to reporters. Now, the Republican administration is caught between a rock and a hard place here because they have to talk to them. The administration cannot dissociate itself from the national media. They’ve gotta talk to NBC. They’ve gotta go on Meet the Press. They have to talk to the New York Times. The problem is — I think, looking at this in hindsight, is — that many in Republican administrations think they can spin these people. They think they can turn them into friends, turn them into supporters. I guess it’s one of the reasons I don’t want to work in that town and I don’t want to spend too much time there, because it’s seductive and you get caught up in it. That town is many things. Of course, it’s the national capital. It’s the center of power. It’s a place largely defined by the social pecking order — and conservatives, Republicans are never, ever going to be high up in the social pecking order, unless, of course, there are Supreme Court justices who turn lib and then they’ll get great puff pieces written about them in the Washington Post Style Section.
That’s how the process begins of turning them.
Given all of that, why anybody in the administration would think that they’re going to be dealt with fairly by media people that are out to undermine them, is something I will never understand. Now, you can say whatever you want to say about Bill Clinton, but the one thing that you have to say about him and his wife is they are ruthless, and they will not put up with double-crossers. I’m not talking about the media now. Within their own administration, they’re not going to put up with people sandbagging them or undermining them. If that happens, all hell is brought down on these people in a number of different ways, which is why there haven’t been any Clinton tell-all books. Which is why a guy like Sandy Burglar would risk his reputation and jail time to go in and do whatever he did at the National Archives to make sure the Clinton administration would end up looking good when the 9/11 Commission started looking at things that happened prior to 9/11.
This administration is not ruthless in any way. It doesn’t punish or penalize people who attempt to undermine it. It seems to accept that you can talk to reporters from the Post and the New York Times and these networks and get a fair shake. As I say, you can’t not talk to them. Of course when the Wilson story breaks and he writes this op-ed that’s full of lies, the administration says, “We gotta refute this! It was in the New York Times.” So you start trying to refute the fact Cheney didn’t send the guy, as he is saying was the case, which is a big thing — and that did come out in the trial. Wilson was trying to make it known to everybody that the vice president’s office sent him to Niger. They didn’t. When he comes back and writes his op-ed, they’re all saying in the White House, Who is this guy? They called the CIA, How did this guy end up over there We didn’t do this. That’s when it was learned that Valerie Plame worked there, and Valerie Plame recommended her husband to go, and then you’ve got the political connections those two have, and whatever their political and ideological orientations are, and bammo! You’ve got a giant interagency gang sabotage going on here.
This kind of thing was just not permitted in the Clinton White House. They just wouldn’t put up with it. Nobody had the guts to even try it. But when you have a desire to work with these people and try to spin them and convert them into, A, liking you — and I’m going to tell you, I don’t care whether it’s in politics or just in any avenue of personal life: if your prime objective is to make somebody like you, you’ve lost, especially if they don’t. The idea to try to turn them and explain your way of things I don’t understand the that. These reporters show up for interviews and conversations with Republican officials, administration, congressmen, senators, but their story’s already written.
Their minds are already made up, because they have a prejudice about what Republicans and conservatives are. So the whole point of talking to members of the administration — Republicans and otherwise — is trip ’em up, and what happened here? Russert, Matt Cooper and Judith Miller? It’s a bunch of journalists at the center of this and what Libby told ’em, and then the FBI and grand jury and so forth. This juror that came out and talked. He said they have “a lot of sympathy” for Judith Miller, the New York Times info babe that ended up in jail for not revealing her sources to Fitzgerald. The juror said, I really feel sorry for her. The defense was just pounding her. They were just too hard on her.
You don’t hit the girl. It is one characteristic or aspect of that. But until people learn that you’re not going to be able to bring a bunch of reporters in from Washington or New York, and explain conservatism or your policy and have a sympathetic ear (or even an ear that wants to understand what you’re trying to do) is beyond me. Why they keep thinking they can do this is also beyond me. I know what you’re saying. “What would you do? You have to talk to them.” I understand a presidential administration has to talk to them. They have to do press conferences and you have to do all this. I myself have had experience dealing with these people, as you know.
Here’s an example, and I could give you many. Yesterday after the program we got a phone call from a cable news network, and they wanted to take five seconds of what I said about the Ann Coulter kerfuffle and use it all afternoon and all last night. Now, I spoke for 14 minutes on the Ann Coulter kerfuffle, and the five seconds they wanted to take was totally out of context and was irrelevant. But it fit their preconceived notion and prejudice about what the whole Ann Coulter thing was about. Five seconds out of 14 minutes! The same thing happened with the Michael J. Fox thing. People say, Well, how come you don’t go on these places and get your side of it out? Why don’t you go on and explain yourself? I’ve learned that that’s not what happens. We denied permission for them to use the five seconds that they wanted to use yesterday. I don’t know if they ended up trying to use it anyway. I didn’t watch. I didn’t get any e-mail. Normally when I appear on a cable news network somewhere, somebody sends me an e-mail, Rush! Rush! Rush! I saw you on CNN, MSNBC or Fox this afternoon. I didn’t get any of that. But I don’t talk to them much because of this. I’ll give you another example.
The New Yorker’s Jane Mayer, who with Jill Abramson (who is the Washington bureau chief of the New York Times) wrote a book about Clarence Thomas, and just smeared the guy. She was going to do a story in the New Yorker about “24”and so forth. It was going to be basically a profile of Joel Surnow. I was told that she wanted to talk to me about this because she knew that I was a friend of Surnow’s. So I called some people who had already talked to her and found out that, basically, it was a story on how the program “24” is promoting torture and just going to be a treatise on torture. So I called her under those circumstances, knowing what this was about, and I talked to her for about 20 minutes. The first 15 were purely social. I’d been on a TV show with her once. Way, way, way, way back, Bob Beckel hosted a local TV show in Washington, a panel show, i.e., the McLaughlin Group. I appeared on the show, and she remembered that, and I have a good memory. I remembered that she had to hustle out of there and go play tennis, and I reminded her of that, and she, Oh, wow. Yeah. You’re right.
She congratulated me on all my success, how wonderful it all was, blah, blah, talking about, I understand you’re friends with Joel. I understand he had a party at your house. She was in the mall with her daughter shopping, had her cell phone, and she wasn’t taking any notes, and then starts asking me about torture. The last five minutes were what she really wanted my thoughts on and all this other stuff was just setup. Knowing full-well that it was about torture I did my best — and I was honest, but I did my best — to tell her, You know, you’re barking up a tree here that’s got no branches on it. But the story was written before it was published, is the point. So what I can’t figure out is why other people are not as aware. I’m not trying to give myself credit. This has been learned by experience. This is no great insight of mine. I got sandbagged I can’t tell you how many times the first five years of this show thinking you could be nice, fair, and just be honest and they will report what you say. It’s not that way with us. It doesn’t happen. Why other people don’t figure this out…? This is why I get so fed up when I see some of my conservative brethren in the DC media trying to curry favor with the Drive-By Media.
It’s why I get so bent out of shape when I see potential Republican candidates and elected officials trying to make the media their best friends, because it’s all temporary. Even if it works for a while, come back and the media is going to end up stabbing you! Ask Senator McCain. They’re dumping on him after him being their favorite Republican for four years. It’s why it irritates me when elected Republicans go on Sunday shows and trash their own party and their own president just to curry favor with these people. But in this case, you have the administration talking to them, and they have to talk to them, but to think that there was a chance that the administration — especially on this subject, the war in Iraq, there’s just a different way to approach it.
They walk in the office or you meet ’em for lunch or whatever, and you just say, I know why you’re here, Mr. Reporter. You’re here to sandbag the administration. You’re here to do us wrong. You’re here to lie about us, blah, blah, blah. Put ’em on the defensive. The last thing they want is for you to peg ’em. The last thing they want is for you to be able to know what they’re going to say, what they’re going to do and then have them do it. It has worked for me in the past, but I don’t even find it interesting enough to have time to do it anymore. But why this administration thinks that they can sit down and talk to these people and they’re going to get a fair shake, is beyond me.