tv After Words Ari Fleischer Suppression Deception Snobbery and Bias -... CSPAN August 1, 2022 1:00am-2:01am EDT
thank you, juan. let me begin by giving you the opportunity to tell people about the book the thesis. well my thesis is that the mainstream media is one of the biggest causes of the polarization in america today that the number of stories they put on the air that were wrong. most of all of which were to get donald trump and to hurt republicans or conservatives the number of stories that they suppressed which would have hurt joe biden particularly during the campaign has added up to a nation that no longer trusts the mainstream media and our democracy needs to have a mainstream media that people rely on believe in and trust and the press has let us down. well, so i think lots of people on the left would say gee, you know during the 2016 campaign. it looked like c-span msnbc certainly fox all were very much putting donald trump on the air
repeatedly and they would say gee it looks like the press whether or not for ratings, you know for eyeballs and clicks. we're pretty supportive of donald trump in the 2016 campaign. well, i i might rebuttal to that is the press made a news judgment in the news judgment was that donald trump was newsworthy because the press thought he was so bad. so at landish at the more they put him on the air the more the american people would reject him. and i think the tremendous damage done juan and i write this in the book was also done not just to conservatives who don't trust the media. but to liberals who do i i think back on 16 when most democrats and liberals were told. that hillary clinton was going to win in a landslide. you couldn't watch cnn you couldn't watch msnbc without being convinced that donald trump was going to go down in flames and then when he didn't it led to the search for how could this have happened everybody? i know knew donald trump would
lose and that was one of the things that made collusion more of a credible notion for the left because there had to be an explanation since donald trump was supposed to lose this race. if the media had done a better job being in touch with america, the coverage in 16 would have said donald trump actually may win because they're a rumblings in this country. there's tremendous discontent in this country particularly in rural areas particularly from people who pray every day particularly from people who think life may begin a conception or people who have guns or went hunting or go fishing or whose grandfather taught them how to shoot at a young age. i just think that's the mist part of america that the mainstream media doesn't see and so therefore they didn't see how donald trump could possibly rise and win and i think liberals in many way were the victims of the bad coverage that the press gave the 2016 campaign and the rest of the next four years. well our in the book, you're pretty critical of the new york times, but on this front, you know, my memory serves to say
that the new york times was the one that broke the hillary clinton email story and was very very strong and critical in saying that there was something wrong there of course ultimately. found nothing's wrong, but gee that's the liberal press going after the liberal candidate. and i acknowledge that one in iepeatedly docite stories from the new york times the washington post and other other sources and i make the point in the book of saying they're not always wrong. but when they are wrong, they're almost always wrong in a direction that hurts republicans or hurts donald trump the whole collusion narrative the whole sealed dossier narrative, which received the the lion's share of coverage and donald trump's first three years. it was a relentless non-stop feeding frenzy. all based on nothing all wrong all polarized the nation all gave liberals a reason to think that donald trump was illegitimate. and it was destructive if the news was anti-trump it got a bump and that's what i saw for
three years of coverage. yes. they covered the hillary email scandal they broke that news and then when it was clear, there was a fbi investigation. they did cover it. but as soon as james comey said that there were no charges to be made the story went away and the press reset about how dangerous donald trump was. well, you know, we were just talking you mentioned the whole collusion business. ultimately the mueller people said they didn't see evidence specifically of collusion, but i don't think there's any question. i don't know how you feel, but that the russians put their thumb on the scale in favor of donald trump and you had paul manafort. you had that russian lawyer going up to trump tower you had the emails that were hacked many believe our intelligence community the us and tells his community believes hacked by the russians. i personally had you know to john podesta some of my emails got trapped caught up in that it was no fun. so to me, i don't see how it was
wrong to have some critical, press saying hey, there's something going on here between russia's desire to get trump elected and events taking place on the ground like the emails being fed into the american media ecosystem and popping up in the press. it's a fair question one, and as i said repeatedly in 2016 live on the air. an attack on one party is an attack on all parties and i regularly denounced what russia did i didn't think it was as much to elect donald trump as it was to hurt hillary clinton who they didn't like when she was secretary of state and as much as to so turmoil into the american system and weaken our democracy. i think that's what motivated russia but the question immediately will became did donald trump do it was donald trump working with them and here the press went to overdrive and put numerous stories. especially cnn on the air that they later had to retract all of which said that donald trump has colluded with russia on the hacks of the dnc and on the
hacks of hillary clinton's campaign. so there are two distinct issues here. yes. russia was a guilty party barack obama sanctioned russian officials. the trump administration went after and punished russian officials as a result of it, but that had nothing to do with whether donald trump was involved and this was the feeding frenzy that i objected to and frankly one. it's what inspired me to write the book. i try to call balls and strikes why i've agreed with president trump on many of his policies. i've regularly disagreed with him on much of his behavior. i've regularly tweeted about when donald trump did something i thought was inappropriate rude or offensive. so i'll continue to call the balls and strikes but when i saw the press pylon all the stories about collusion all the damage done to our nation all the credibility given to the steel dossier. i blew the whistle. i just thought it's unfair it's biased it's wrong and the new york times and cnn were a massive part of what really pain
became a disinformation campaign to get donald trump, and i don't want to see that happen to any president. democrat or republican and part of what i write in the book is there's a suspicion and politics that whoever your opponent is is illegitimate or somehow criminal or that they really have crossed the line and i've tried to resist that my entire career. i believe that the other party is the loyal opposition. i believe that people's motives are good. i disagree with the liberal solutions for what can help america, but i don't question their motives and i don't like it when people question conservative republican or donald trump's motives, and that's why i try to stay fair, but i do blow the whistle on the mainstream media, which i think lost its bearings. so, you know, i came up as a as part of the mainstream media at the washington post and i was taught to be adversarial to the people in power, you know the words you question them you are critical of the people who are in power asking the questions
that the american people want answered that they may be curious about. so, how do you distinguish between a critical press and adversarial press which is what i think the founding fathers had in mind and what you would say is the overly i don't know. i guess you would say overly adversarial. no, it's not that there were overly well. they were overly adversarial to donald trump, but they were relentlessly easy on joe biden. i want fairness if you're going to be a tough on one you need to be tough on the other and let me get let me give you an example. it's in my book. i use the pictures of it when ruth bader ginsburg died front page banner across the fold headline on the new york on the washington post pioneer devoted to equality when anthony scalia died front page banner above the fold headline same paper, washington post supreme court conservative dismayed liberals. why isn't it the same? why isn't the headline that ruth bader ginsburg was a liberal who
dismayed conservatives or why wasn't it that antonin scalia was devoted to equality. but they lionized one and buried the other same thing with the brett kavanaugh's hearings when brett kavanaugh ducked questions didn't answer them because no nominee anymore answers questions about cases that are pending before the court the headline on the new york times was he ducks questions when elena kagan before her nomination hearing in the senate did the same thing and didn't answer questions the headline in the new york times was she follows precedent. time and time again want the media is easy on the democrats and relentless on the republicans. and that's where i blow my whistle and i'll give you one final example that's in my book. in 1998 when stacy abrams lost their governor's race in georgia by a margin that was four times the size of donald trump's defeat in georgia. she lost by more than 50,000 votes trump lost by about 12,000 votes. she refused to acknowledge the legitimacy of her opponent's
when the republican win senator cory booker booker of new jersey said the election was stolen senator sherwood brown of ohio said the election was stolen if the media had called them out and said you should not say elections were stolen you undermine our democracy. the election was settled fair and square. how dare you use those words. the press would have had so much more credibility taking on donald trump when he said the same thing in 2020. the election wasn't stolen donald trump did lose it. i've said right from the start. but i will not be hypocritical if i can call that donald trump. i'll call out stacey abrams, but the mainstream media shield is stacey stacy abrams. lionized her made her a hero and then called out donald trump for saying the same thing. this is the hypocrisy one. i won't participate in it, but i will blow the whistle on it. well, i wonder if people would say that you're you know jumping over some context. they're clearly stacy abrams believe that governor kent republican in the race had taken
steps that she felt helped him to win in the total vote. but so did donald trump well, so the trump supporters, they're both wrong. but you can't say one cause is right. so therefore they can say the election was stolen and the other causes wrong because they're republicans. all you do is empower the other side then to say we're going to go even further because the press isn't fair and that's what i object to the president blow the whistle on hillary clinton
when two years after the 2016 election. she said that donald trump was illegitimate president nor did they blow the whistle and jimmy carter two years later when jimmy carter said donald trump was illegitimate president. so when donald trump says things like that, the press goes nuts when democrats do things like that the press yawns. area you were press secretary to president george w bush, and i'm sitting here thinking is there any press secretary? who's ever been in the white house? would say oh, you know the press treated my guy or yeah, my guy
fairly and i have no complaints, isn't it? just part of being in the big game in the combat of the modern world, especially modern media to say, you know what? i don't think my candidate was treated fairly. yeah, but that's my point about president trump. i wouldn't necessarily say i didn't vote for him in 2016. i did vote for him in 2020. i don't work for donald trump and again one i try to call the balls and strikes as i see them. so yes if you're a partisan working for a candidate in office. yeah, you always feel like the press is tough on you, but let's go to a neutral source. there was a study done. it's in my book of the coverage of the five most recent presidents and they determined that no none of the last five god as soft and as easy coverage in their first 60 days in office as joe biden, he got easier and softer coverage than barak obama, of course the two who got the hardest coverage where trump and bush so clinton was the fifth. so empirical studies show that joe biden got the softest easiest press conference and go to the 2020 campaign. the biden press corps could not have been any easier on joe biden there were numerous scandals. there are numerous things joe biden did wrong one of them, which i relate in my book. he gave a event. it was one of his typical events from the basement where he gave a speech on a teleprompter to a friendly audience the afl-cio and a young woman asked him a question about how to get more people to join unions. and joe biden's answer was move it up here. move it up. and then he gave the answer. his teleprompter got stuck. it was clear. that the afl-cio not only gave him the question, but then his staff wrote the answer. so would all appear on his teleprompter. now you would think that the mainstream media hard-hitting reporters as you cited earlier adversarial.
that when they see a candidate who might be the oldest president in history if he gets elected would be if he gets elected white turn on the campaign and go into feeding frenzy mode and say how did you have that on the teleprompter? did you get that group to give you their cues and a's ahead of time does he need the answer to how do you get people to join a union to be written down? is this a stage event? what other groups have you gone to give you the cues and a's ahead of time. this was all the feet. they're making of a feeding frenzy, but you know what? it was joe biden. if they had covered it that way it would have helped donald trump so they wouldn't cover it that way softest easiest coverage imaginable. well, i'm just thinking to myself we're making assumptions about the teleprompter. obviously, we didn't mention that you you said very politely from his basement, but you know, it was during a time of a coronavirus so it limited campaigning for many people. i'm not a i'm not objecting to his doing events from the
basement during the crisis. i'm objecting to the fact that the afl-cio gave him the cue ahead of time. it was loaded on his prompter. the answer was there totally staged event and the press doesn't care. well, you know, it's interesting. i think that the press has covered for example biden's age much more aggressively than they cover trump's age. what do you say? no, i disagree with that. i think when joe biden fell walking up there the steps of air force one. all the coverage was by an aid say he's okay when donald trump walked slowly down a ramp from west point after a speech front page of the new york times raises a serious questions about his health and the only people they asked were critics of donald trump's so when biden falls they asked the biden's staff when trump doesn't fall they ask trump critics, so no, i don't think that's fair now. i do think there's been a turn in mainstream mess. press coverage about joe biden since the boxed withdrawal from
afghanistan. i think that did unleash a lot of reporters who then finally got tough on joe biden and it's continued ever since then i think interestingly the new york times of most recent date. it's hard to publish on the front page polls showing that democrats don't want to run again for re-election their coverage of joe biden and saudi arabia was brutal so i can't help but think if the new york times is going through a little of a phase right now sending a signal they actually do want a different democrat a younger democrat to replace joe biden for him not to run for reelection, but i also think it's a passing phase. and if joe biden does run they'll be right back to how vigorous joe biden is and how important it is to defeat whoever the republican may be now last week. there was quite a controversy about a conservative outlet getting something wrong, which was the wall street journal on this case of a rape a horrific act against a 10 year old girl who had to then be transported
across state lines, you know. i'm sitting here. i'm thinking is airy fleischer cherry-picking. to remind us of the partisan divide in the country rather than saying, you know what the press can get things wrong. and the press does get things wrong, but my point here in the book is so much during the trump years everything they got wrong was was information that never should have been put on the air in the first place the steel dossier. that's not cherry picking. that's a whole forest of cherry trees. everybody ran with a steel dossier it dominated washington they all wrote it was unsubstantiated unverified, but that didn't stop them from covering it. i mean, i guess one i grew up in an era and you did too when if an editor thought something was unsubstantiated and undocumented and unverified. you don't put it on until the substantiated. and verified but we've blown past that the internet is part of it social media is part of it. journalistic organizations, particularly the biggest most
prominent legacy organizations. no longer can have the restraint they used to have because they get beat by the internet. and it's damaged good journalism. it means everybody's in a rush to put things out in the case. you just cited, you know when i hear things like that and this is always my reaction when there's a shooting. i always wait 24 hours before i try to before i comment because you have to wait and let things settle you have to wait and see what's truthful. what's not truth will let the clouds clear but the pressure on reporters to report immediately has led for a lot of incorrect information to get reported. my beef with it, is that pressure to report combined with what i do believe is liberal bias reporters increasingly becoming activists the lack of conservatives and newsroom the overwhelming tendency of reporters to be democrat and to think the same act the same tweet the same has led to a terrible rush to condemn and that's what was done to donald
trump and that's what's going to be done. i think to whoever the republican nominee is in 2024, even if it's not donald trump, you know, you just said something and there's a little bit of this in the book as well. i just advise people to pick it up. it's worth the time but you mentioned social media sort of encouraging people to make flash calls, and that that has now extended beyond social media into what we call legacy or mainstream media, but there's a breakdown in terms of the gatekeeper function that editing function because people want to be first so is that the real target of this book? is it the liberal media? it's it's both. you know one of the things i did in this book one is i hired up position research firm to go in and pull the public records of the white house press corps the 49 reporters who sit in those seats and see what party they're registered to and it came back 12 to 1 democrat to republican in the white house briefing room.
now one why isn't it one to one? or could you imagine if it was 12 to 1 republican to democrat how different the news would be? journalism has an original sin the people who go into journalism are too much by and large cut from a very familiar similar cloth overwhelmingly democratic voters, and of course college educated. and what you have then is a slice of america college-educated democrat voters who increasingly only know how to talk to fellow college-educated democrat voters and another site poll that i have in here at some of the pew organization shows. there's only one group of americans who think the press understands them. and as college-educated democrats if you're a democrat with just a high school degree, you say the press doesn't understand me independence with or without high school degrees college degrees. say the press doesn't understand me and of course republicans all say the same thing. the media has driven itself into
ideological cultural cul-de-sac. they can only relate to one group of people and that's why they carve the news create the news cover certain stories the way they do. it's why colon kaepernick when he nailed at a football game became a symbol of heroism to so many college educated democrats including reporters, but to the rest of the country, it was an act of disrespect. but the presidents see it that way. they thought that was a narrow-minded take and intolerant take bordered on racism and this is where i will blow the whistle when you have so many people cut from that same cloth become reporters who see the world the same way you reinforce a very narrow thinking in newsrooms, and it's the same narrow thinking that was said that donald trump is a danger to the republic and we need to protect america by getting donald trump which led to so many false stories be putting on the air that had to later be retracted. i make the case in the book for more ideological diversity in newsrooms. i think a booster shot of
independent thought will be very helpful to keep newsrooms and help them. go back to being more objective more fair fewer errors. well you make this point and effectively, but i just think from my perspective the number one newspaper in america is the wall street journal which has a very conservative editorial page i think about you know, the power of internet websites boy dominated by the right. i think they are like number, you know -- maybe more than five of the top 10 political websites dominated by conservatives, you know, like the drudge report for many years and when you think about talk radio my gosh rush limbaugh, you know rest in peace, he's gone, but still it's conservatives who dominate and talk radio. so aren't you like again, you know being very selective and picking on the lip what you the liberal news media. yeah, i think there's a
fascinating split in our country and my book is about the mainstream media and i define that by saying the new york times the washington post abc nbc cbs cnn msnbc and keep in mind most americans still do get their news from the networks. they don't get it from fox or cnn or cable. they do get it from abc nbc cbs. well, hold on a second because the evening news they do get it from the internet. that's now the number i'm gonna get there. okay. yeah, i'm again there and talk radio is long been dominated by conservatives and in recent years. there has been a growth of conservative media, especially on the internet the daily wire the washington examiner the federalist all of that is relatively new and none of it would have happened. if the mainstream media didn't lose so many customers and the reason that lost so many customers and allowed these splits to develop was because they continued to tell the news from a left point of view. so a number of customers just said we need a breakaway.
we need something else that we can relate to because the existing product is not serving us. the media is the only organization business. i know that loses customers and says what's wrong with our customers instead of saying what's wrong with us? and one of the key points i'm making the book is i lament this balkanization of the news. i would so much rather pick up one paper or watch one source of news and say it's fair. it's accurate. it's objective. it's down the middle and i'm done for the day. i can believe what they're telling me and now i'll tell you what i think about it, but the problem is too much of the media now tells us what we're supposed to think what we're supposed to conclude. it's two editorial, but my book make me the mistake is about the mainstream media other people have written their books about fox news or about conservative media. i've written a book in the other direction. well, there's no question about that. now. what about the idea that you ari fleischer are such an intriguing figure to write this book
because you were the press secretary for george w bush and of course, you know even people on the right are critical of the walk up to that war, especially the issue of weapons of mass destruction and whether they existed and didn't exist, ultimately they didn't exist and people would say well is harry fleischer really not the guy to be making this argument. how do you respond? that's a i'm really glad you asked me that. i defended the media on that because the media faithfully and accurately reported what we all believed. and when i say we all i'm not only talking about the cia which concluded you're in the clinton years that saddam hussein had weapons of mass destruction. they made the same conclusions in the bush years and everybody knew that was their conclusion including us in the bush administration including egyptian intelligence is really intelligence french intelligence the world thought it want so when i hear people now retroactively go back and say the bush administration lied or
anybody lied is such revisionism. we were wrong. no question about it and as a result of being wrong of commission was formed to get into why the intelligence community could have gotten this wrong the american people through republicans out of office in 2006 our system corrected itself president bush. i'm sorry to say left office is extremely unpopular so the corrective mechanisms in our system switched into gear but not because anybody lied or misled but because we had wrong information and large part because saddam fooled everybody. he created a whole network to make people including iran think he had weapons of mass destruction, and we picked up that network and we believed it was accurate so it's a right question one, but the right conclusion and i wish people would say this in general when somebody you don't like in politics says something that you don't like it's not that they're lying.
they might be wrong or they might be mistaken. they might have bad information again. i don't rush to contradict or challenge other people's motives. i try to think it through and figure it out, but no question. the bush administration we were wrong. but in that sixth in that scenario clearly the press. was quite well, i don't know should we say gullible, but they went right along with it. they were not antagonistic towards you or the bush administration. they told the american people this is what is being. i was told to us by the administration and they in fact the opinion people were quite supportive. i think that's a fact. well, and i think it's very hard for the media when they're being told by the intelligence community and they've been told it now not just during the bush years, but you're in the clinton years as well. that's saddam has wmd. how are they to have superior knowledge? how is the press to get that right when the intelligence community gets it wrong? and that's why going back
contemporaneously into the early 2000s. i defended the press has coverage on that because they weren't in a superior position to know. there were some a few isolated people scott ritter of all people and one of the former arms inspectors. he was one of the few people who called it out and said that we were wrong. he didn't have credibility people didn't believe him. ultimately. he did turn out to be right, but how is the media to assess that? so put that into the current context and go back to collusion. go back to the steel dossier etc. nobody in the media had anybody's conclusions what they did have with people suspicions and this is where the press puffed those suspicions up into just a feeding frenzy against president trump, even though they did not have evidence the press ran with it and as the press likes to say when donald trump says something without evidence the pressed and have evidence of their charges against trump, but it didn't stop them. well, let's stick for a second before we get back to trump with
the bush years when you were the press secretary then you have the whole episode over the torture memos. and again, it looked like the press was saying you know what this is what the administration is telling us. there's a need to defend america. these people are enemies and subsequently then people to begin to ask questions and it looks like the press has simply bought into what the bush administration and it spokesman was telling them. well as soon as the pictures from abu gray emerged. everybody was writing the story and those pictures told the story and and the administration took the heat for it. i will say this one and i don't know how much you want to get back into these years one of the decisions president bush made and it was a fateful decision. he will stand by it i know is after september 11th. we were told by the cia is not a question of if it is a question of when the second wave will be and the second way could be biological. it could be chemical. and president bush made the determination to do everything
in his power to prevent it from happening and now some people now that it never did happen. we were able to prevent an awful lot of attacks. some people have said now that you went too far president bush you shouldn't have taken the steps that you've taken. he will live with a decisions he made and he's comfortable with those decisions because he knew that he was doing things like military tribunals drone strikes to protect the country and the enhanced interrogation techniques as he called them. all of that is what he did when he was told. it's not a question of if it's a question of when the criticism is understandable, but i would point out to you particularly the drone strikes the military tribunals things of that nature have now been carried out not only by george bush but by his three successors barack obama donald trump and joe biden right when i was talking to you about the well about weapons of mass destruction and the torture stuff again, you were the spokesman and that's why i'm saying people as they read through this book may think well
every maybe making points, but is he a flawed messenger? but as you noticed i instantly acknowledge that we were wrong. the bush administration was wrong. how many reporters have said we were wrong about collusion. how many reporters have said we were wrong about the steel dossier? they just sweep it under the rug and they keep being wrong. how many stories to cnn put on the air about donald trump junior having access to the wikileaks before wikileaks even released the hacked emails that they had as soon as that story went on cnn manu raju reported it feeding frenzy. cbs news said it confirmed the same story. it was never true to begin with and as soon as it was found out by the washington post that it wasn't true. they just stopped talking about it. they didn't retract it. they didn't say we were wrong. and this is what the media continued to do throughout the trump years. remember the stories about donald trump was removing blue mailboxes from street corners so he could steal the 2020
election. it was because the postal service was refurbishing mailboxes, but that became a feeding frenzy for two weeks that every time a blue mailbox was removed people thought donald trump ordered it off the street. on election night the saturday the election was called for joe biden. church bells went off in paris fireworks went off in london abc news cbs abc news nbc news and abc news all report cnn and abc news all reported that it was an international celebration of joe biden's victory and donald trump's defeat and you know what one? had nothing to do with america's election. it was the weekly call to mass in paris where the church bells ring, and it was a celebration of a 500 year old holiday in england called guy fawkes day bonfire night. and nothing to do with america's election, but my case in the book is that when you are a reporter who can't stand donald
trump when everybody in your newsroom wants donald trump to be defeated and then donald trump is defeated. the elections over joe biden is the declared winner and church bells go off and fireworks go off. you just assume everybody around the world is just like me. they're all celebrating when it had absolutely zero to do with our election yet. somehow these three news outlets put it on the air as a reaction to our election. this is the deception that i see that reporters subjected themselves to an effort to get trump where they allowed them to put their guard down and put anti-trump information on the air time and time and time again, it wasn't that they were wrong. it was that they were out to get trump and put things on the air that they didn't check. so we've been talking a little bit about the past in terms of the fact that you were the press secretary for george w bush. now you sound as if you are supportive of donald trump, is that right? is that a correct assumption?
i'm supportive of accurate journalism, and that's why i wrote my book. i haven't made my mind up yet about donald trump and 2024. i'm gonna wait and see i might not be for him. maybe i will be it depends on who a republican primary opponents are i'll tell you this. i hope he does not declare his candidacy prior to the november election. i would much rather this election be a referendum on joe biden than a choice between donald trump and joe biden if he declares before the election, i think that would be a dream come true for the democrats. so i i don't that to happen. i do want the republican party to keep moving. i do want the republican party to be a civil party, but i do admire president trump's ability to get things done for this country to break the mold to create the abraham accords to destroy isis to have the lowest poverty rate in america since 1958. pre-pandemic. there are a lot of successes under donald trump's belt on his watch. there are a lot of failures too. mostly failures of behavior. well, what about the january 6th
committee's revelation about the fact that president trump, you know appeared to be indifferent. to the violence that the capital even ignited some of that violence and when he learned that people were armed was not discouraging their presence at the capitol. doesn't that raise them questions in your mind and certainly the press if we just talk about the press the press has been slow to catch up with the january 6th to me. that's not the press making those revelations. it's the it's you know, the political body. i wouldn't say that press is slow. most of the press is covering it live, but i do write about it in my book one and i take on the president when it came to january 6th, and i have said live on fox news regularly that president's worst mistake on january 6th was holding a rally on the ellipse the same day that there was a vote in the congress. you don't put nitro and glycerin
anywhere near each other when you're a leader. he never should have called that rally that day. he should have had better judgment and i criticize everything about january 6th, and i regularly have done it live on fox news anybody who attacked the police trespassed in the capital crossed into the capitol walk through the capitol or did anything worse in the capital deserves to be prosecuted end of story and and i thought the president's behavior and i tweeted at that day was wrong. he should have been immediately calling out telling the people the violent the right riders to go home. so i've explained that i'll continue to say that but i don't think that excuses the coverage of donald trump prior to january 6 because everything i've written about in my book preceded the january 6 riot the mistakes the press made the coverage they gave to him was really an essence the press saying that the american people aired in 2016. that they never should have elected donald trump and our job as reporters is not to be fairer objective or down the middle. our job is to write that wrong
because donald trump is a threat to the republic and that's what i object to and and that's why my book is about journalists and their coverage. it really is less about president trump or president bush or any other president or any future president. it's about journalistic behavior and journalistic coverage. well, i think that's absolutely accurate and i again to the readers out there. it's about the journalism. it's not about the politics, but you are a political figure in this country. that's how i think most people know you even before president bush you were with elizabeth dole you worked for senate people in the senate so you're known as a political player ari, that's just a reality. so when you think about something like donald trump, it seems so political and i think donald trump has helped to polarize not only the country. but in some sense the media coverage and i when i think of this i think of people going on the air and having trouble just
calling out statements that he made art that are totalized but they say, you know, the press can't say lie, new york times washington post very reluctant to even write that word when in fact, that's what the man was doing. what would you have the press do? it was cory booker lying when he said the stacy elections election was stolen again. i think the context was missing. he explained why he was making this comment. it wasn't an outright statement without any of our nation and i think president was a stolen election. well, i think that's not a lie. see, this is my point one. okay, the press the press system judgment of some mostly republicans mostly conservatives certainly populists. and says things like that. and i won't do that. i'll be fair on both sides. you know my book begins with a cnn show don lemon hosting a show where he was bashing president trump, but this time it went beyond criticism of trump fair game criticized the president. but he started to mock and his
two guests on the show mocked. trump supporters disdained for trump supporters laughing uproariously a trump supporters talking about how one of his guests put on a fake southern accent and was looking down his nose was showing to stain for trump voters as he expressed the way they talk in the way they act and the way they think and don lemon couldn't control himself. he was laughing uproariously wiping a tear from his eye and after his two guests were done mocking trump supporters. he picked himself up from the table. he literally put his head on the table and said, thanks i needed that. and if you don't think what's contributing to the polarization of our country is a media that can mock half the nation. and the people they mock want just to put a point on it. these are people who carry guns. these are people whose grandfathers and fathers taught them how to hunt. these are people who pray every day. these are people who think that life begins at conception.
these are the people that depress mocks. these are the people who voted largely for donald trump or might vote for ron desantis or christy noam and the problem the media has and i blow the whistle on this book is don lemon laughs at them cnn laughs at them. we cannot be a strong democracy if the media laughs at half the country take on political leaders go hard after a candidate for office be fair, but leave the population out of it. don't mock. the people who support them. donnie deutsch went on msnbc and said about trump supporters. you are like the nazi standing at the door saying this way or that way this place that place he likened trump supporters to nazis. you don't think that's what polarizes the country. well, let's get back to a question. i asked you which was about. boot lying and the big steel. this is a lie that has now affected. people who call themselves
republicans. i think it's like three quarters according to the polls who still believe that the 2020 election was stolen from donald trump. why do they believe this ari because he's told them that the election was stolen ari fleischer says, that's not true. so what is the press to do when you see not only a lie, but the lie succeeding in persuading what was once, you know still a major american political party most of their supporters that the lie is to be believed. and right after 2,000 most democrats thought george bush stole the election from al gore and you know what the chairman of the democratic national committee terry on mccauliffe said that the george bush stole that election so, you know both sides do it want donald trump. does it the most donald trump does it more and does it louder than anybody else? but don't think donald trump's the first my book gives example of their example of the democrats who said bush slowly election in 2000 numerous
democrats because of how close ohio was in 2004 said bush stole the election in ohio. i cite cases where democrats said the machines were tainted in wisconsin in the 2004 election. there are cases where hillary clinton question the absentee vote because i'm sorry the popular vote in the state because it didn't match the exit polls and she alleged something had to have happened to turn the election away from john kerry in 2004 the democrats in 2016 case after case democrat after democrat objected to the trump vote. how many democrats tried to overturn the election and the electoral college in 2016? all through lies where they're saying that donald trump wasn't the legitimate winner. well that happened in 2016 because they said that the members of the electoral college needed a classify briefing to find out what happened with trump colluding with russia. he didn't collude with russia, but they said he did and demanded a classified briefing of the electoral college. well, i'm just thinking as i'm listening to you boy.
what a difference between people having questions clearly al gore stepped aside. he didn't, you know exercise his influence his vice president to try to undo the election result and clearly there was no attack by clinton gore supporters on the capitol. it turned violent and led to people dying and there was no suggestion from any of the democrats that somehow therefore bush was not to be present. i mean, it seems like you're comparing apples and oranges. my point is when you asked about the use of the word steel and therefore lie now i'm nothing is going to justify the january 6th riot. there's nothing i will ever say that justifies it everything about it was wrong, but when it comes to one party saying the other stolen election one is you still won't even criticize stacey abrams for her refusing to concede that race or her her refusing to call governor kemp legitimate. you won't criticize corey booker. you won't criticize rod brown
even though they said it was a stolen election. so you got a little bit of what's good for the goose should be good for the gander going on here. well, no, i say that what's they their argument was about the context about how things were set up? i think that what president trump did was clearly to say that it was stolen without any evidence, but you know, i'm not trying to excuse anybody. i just think that that's a holy different context and when we presented as the same, i just think boy that's way out of you know proportion for the viewer, whatever you want the both stacey abrams evidence was wrong and donald trump's evidence were wrong and that neither should say it was stolen. this is my point. i think the mainstream media would have so much more credibility and republicans would believe the mainstream medium before more if they called out both sides, but you're only willing to call out one side. you're still making excuses for stacey abrams right now. she had no evidence to support her claim. none, she just had a
hope and a wish that so many losing candidates have that something must be wrong and it just bothells me that to this day. you're not really willing to criticize cory booker senator from new jersey or sherry brown senator from ohio for their statements at the election was stolen you're saying context you're making an excuse for one side and you blame the other no. well, you know what? i mean? i clearly you know, i just don't think that's right. i think when you talk about issues like voters depression and possibly changing districts and like i think that is palpable real factual and that's what was cited by stacey abrams and senator booker, but let's move on. you you absolutely are known also as a press agent and you have had tremendous success past the time of being press secretary to the president of the united states as a press agent, but people go on the air and they don't always identify. hey, you know, i represent this
group. i'm with this group. it could be a gas company a tobacco company an oil company. you know, how do you feel about this? because you're a talking head? well known to the american people and trusted do you think this is the way that business should be done? well, if you've got an example you want to bring to my attention go ahead and do so, but if you're asking me about if i have any business interest that i'm not disclosing, i don't know. no, you're referring to know what no, wait a second. hold on. i i meant it in general because i don't generally think of you i know exactly who i replied sure is i think i've known you for some time. but no, i think people aren't always aware of when they see people talking oftentimes identified as a republican consultant a democratic consultant strategisters, and they don't know who these people are working for. it could be narrow or it could be a anti-abortion group. i don't know but oftentimes not said, that's what i was trying
to look. i was a contributor for cnn and fox and they both have the same policy if you make money if you have a client that you're talking about that client on the air you must disclose and i've tried to live by that and i do that. i notify fox of whom my clients are if it's a political topic or topic that could come up on the air. and either the topic isn't raised to me or it's disclosed so everybody can know but actually one i think there's something much more pernicious and that's anonymous sources. i'm convinced that the press today gives anonymity a sources like candy. and they need to stop. how do you know what to believe when you read an anonymous source. sometimes it's true. sometimes it's false sometimes in the case of the new york times where they gave somebody named anonymous the editorial page to write a op-ed that was anti-trump. it turned out to be miles taylor was the deputy chief of staff at the department of the homeland security. he was hardly had any insight to anything going on in the west wing or especially into the oval office if they're off beds.
this is by miles taylor a deputy chief of staff at dhs. nobody would have taken a very seriously. but the press gives anonymity to sources at a way to puff up the source, especially if the quote is juicy enough and it's done tremendous damage to good journalism. cnn got bit the most by giving anonymity to sources and then putting information on the air they often had to retract what their anonymous source gave them. so if there's any one area for improvement, it's journalism. it's only give anonymity to somebody if it's an intelligence operative or they're going to lose their job. don't give it in any other circumstances, but i can't tell you even to this day. how often the press will call me on things and they begin the conversation by saying we can do this on background or keep you out of it if you like and i'm going and almost always say to them. no put my name on it. reporters need to get more of a spine they need to tell their sources. i can't use what you say if you don't put your name on it. well, what if you did that we'd be a much less polarized country
because if you put your name on something chances are you're not going to go as far and say something as nasty you're going to actually say something. that's more responsible and legitimate because your name is on it and reporters should change that. well, i think people would like to do that who are in the journalism business the question is can they get the story? remember the whole controversy actually during the bush administration by valerie flame and you know, that was a woman who was covert and then all of a sudden exposed that whole thing of anonymity can be difficult if you're trying to get the facts of a story and you have people who fear that they would be politically punished or vulnerable even the reporters give it away want reporters don't even try anymore. reporters begin so many other conversations by saying we can do this on background. and especially stories that have just a nasty quote in them. there's no need to give somebody anonymity so they can say something negative about the
other party if that's what you think put your name on it and reporters shouldn't shield them or protect them? i made the allowance for somebody's in the intelligence community. this is where reporters have done good work and have written a lot of stories that otherwise wouldn't have seen the light of day because people in intelligence can't talk. they know they'll be fired or if somebody would be fired from their job if they said something but that's the one issue in particularly in political coverage. even you know pollsters they won't put their name on stories. well, then don't quote them. find somebody else to quote and journalism will be better. well, i think that it should be the goal to get everybody on the record. i'm just thinking that that's again a matter of trying to tell stories effectively and i see that across political lines liberal and conservative mediacs. do you agree? yes. yes. now you again as a public relations agent you take on very difficult clients. i think one of your clients now is saudi arabian this golf tour. well, you got a little bit
reverse. there's the golf. my client is an american group live golf. it's funded by saudi arabia. correct on that right? so that's a difficult client. i'm thinking boy harry's gonna have to really shine through here, but when you're doing something like that the people then say well i already you can't just be straightforward in terms of criticism of the saudis in the way that we're seeing because you have on a mattress. oh you can okay. well go right ahead. look at my twitter feed. all right. i have been critical of saudi arabia. i've also praised saudi arabia when they had a here. so here's what i run a sports communications firm, and i've done it since i left the white house. so for almost 20 years now, i've worked in the world of sports working in all kinds of different leagues for athletes owners commissioners players and when it comes to this issue on i've criticized saudi arabia when they've had athletes who refuse to compete against israeli athletes, i've criticized them for this on
twitter and then i praised them even before i ever heard a live golf. i praise saudi arabia earlier this year when they had a tennis player play in this really tennis player. it was one of the breakthroughs that's underway in the middle east as we're watching a middle east change dramatically. we're especially the sunni nations are working very closely with the united states and with israel on a truly reformist more peaceful direction much of it a bulk work to iran and hezbollah and hamas and yemen and syria, so these are the most important reforms underway in the middle east, but i'll always call balls and strikes but my job here is golf. it's a sport. it's the commercial enterprise of golf and i'm proud to be working for live golf. i'm just wondering though, you know in that capacity as i said your job is to sell something. i think that's legitimate and that's appropriate but again, it would raise questions when you said when ari fleischer writes a book and says well these people are biased people say, yeah, but that's that's just part of the mix of the big game when you
have someone like live golf and a big name like harry fleischer ari fleischer's out there. as a proponent for live golf while many people are highly critical even some of the most well-known golfers like tiger woods i really think live golf has nothing to do with whether the press made a mistake when they went on the air and talked about the church bells ringing embarrassing. i understand fireworks in london or the blue mailboxes that were moved from street corners one is zero to do with the other. no, but i'm saying for arri fleischer to be making this point people say arif leisure's job is to sell the press is to in fact steer the press and when harry flasher then says well, the press sometimes is critical, you know, no one i wrote the book because i lament what's happened to the press. i want our democracy to have a press for people say when somebody says it i trust it when somebody says it i believe it. i want the press to tell us the facts about what happened and leave the interpretations and decisions to meet we to the
people. that's how the pressure work in america, but as i quote two editors at the new york times is saying they're newspapers have become increasingly opinionated and as jill abramson the former executive director of the new york times said and top editor i quote her in my book that the news pages of the new york times became and washington post. we're distinctly anti-trump. that's wrong. and when people inside the media say that about themselves, yes, i'm going to amplify their voices and i'm going to blow my whistle because it's not good for the country. well, i i can very easily and proudly wear two hats one is working for the company that i run a sports company and two being a student and observer of the american media. i have a lot of experience in the ladder a lot of experience in the former and what i've seen in the media is what led me to write this book. i want the media to do better. i want the media to be credible. i want more conservatives to go into the newsrooms. i want newsrooms to have a booster booster shot of independent thought it would be
so helpful to the press if they weren't so like-minded if it wasn't a 12 to one ratio at the white house. this is what journalism needs, you know, i've twice kind of columbia journalism school to address young graduates. i mean these things really mean a lot to me because i like the press and in both times i went i asked in the previous presidential election. did you vote for the republican or the democrat? 24 to 0 was the vote for the democrat to the republican. this is killing journalism and any other field if they looked and they said we are so ideologically lopsided we might be missing some stories people would say yeah, that's right and journalism, it just seems they repeat the cycle. i'm trying to break that cycle. well, let's talk about that for a second. we're running out of time, but i think it's such a rich topic. isn't it the case though that if you already flyish or created an independent network that you couldn't compete in terms of cable news, you couldn't compete if it was a online website you
couldn't compete if it was a newspaper that in fact what you see is that people want. you know, especially in prime time on cable and especially on the opinion pages of the big papers. they want to see a point of view. they want that opinion. yeah, i think it's been cyclical one. i think people are also increasingly getting sick of that. i think people and i get this question all the time. where can i go to get the new straight right and that this is i think where the american people are going to end up we're a nation with a pendulum that swings and i think the the pendulum is swung so much in the direction of opinionated journalism particularly in the mainstream media particularly in the new york times or the story selection, and it's it's bias in washington post and the networks as well. that pendulum is swinging and people want to get objective news as well exists on the right too, but i do have to point out conservative media is booming while liberal media mainstream media is declining and that
tells you something too about the american people, but i want objectivity and neutrality particularly from what porters who are covering our government. that's not the place for them to put their opinions into their news stories. it is the place for them to put the facts into the news stories and let the people decide what the right unions should be as a result. that's would be improvement for the american media and that's why i wrote my book. that is something i hope commercially can be supported. we'll see what changes they make at cnn the new ownership at cnn knows that it was two opinionated to liberal and they're trying to change that. i'll be very curious to see what the cnn experiment leads to. well ari fleischer. congratulations, here's the book. oppression deception snobbery and bias why the press gets so much wrong and just doesn't care every fleischer. thanks for being my guest today. it was a real pleasure to talk with you. thank you on you're always a gentleman.