tv Martha Raddatz and Chris Wallace Discuss 2016 President Debates CSPAN December 6, 2016 7:57am-9:14am EST
to take bowling balls, or the two songs, you follow police. he went on a rant that went off the stage. only for one reason, because there were people there, whether or not there are people or a rant happens you have a lawsuit. that matters. what happens if trump come in the moment the white house press pool and photographers walk out of the room turns around and goes off message to the prime minister of japan pete souza or whatever his successor is going to show a picture of the president doing that, talking down to the japanese prime minister? i don't know but i doubt it. that is why it matters. that is the case you make about why access matters, kanye and trump.
sorry. >> chris johnson, time for one more. is what is going to happen with the white house? on both ends, they jump down and have calls in the day and nothing on camera, trump, so vain he wants to be himself every day. >> a great question. i will not hide my frustration with former press secretary's advocating against having daily briefings or criticizing the mainstream media as a vehicle for doing that. i find that frustrating. but i don't have any intel from
the trump folks about that. i had a conversation about their plans for daily briefings. genuinely right now they are not thinking that far in advance because they haven't identified who the press secretary is going to be yet. once they have a structure for the trump white house press team that will be the time to have the conversation about how you envision the day by day operation. i don't think anyone in the white house press corps would support getting rid of briefings. clearly there is room for reform of some kind of a new president wants to have a gaggle instead of a briefing or make it a shorter briefing, there might be many people in the press who would have thought that.
it is entity making the same argument. >> i think this'll probably have to be the last question. >> we talked yesterday about politicians are bypassing media using social media outlets, but at the same time i think there's two trends going on as well where there's a liberation of or ideological news media publications, everything pretty widespread belief a lease among conservative voters the traditional press is a liberal establishment i do wonder how you see those two transplant under president trump? >> run that by me again. how we see the trends of the proliferation of more ideological news organizations
at a time the public thinks news organizations that might not think of themselves as ideological our, you know, weather, you know, who is getting access to president trump, breitbart or somebody else, that trend. >> the short answer is i don't know. my guess is that like any, i can see some comparisons between kind of a geographic connection and what i mean by that is when president obama won the election, and were more chicago me became and was interested in being part of the white house press corps. is it possible that after mr. trump election that it would be more conservative leaning news organizations that will start covering the white house on a daily basis and perhaps get encouragement from the white
house to do so? probably. what we have control over in terms of the white house correspondents' association is our standards for admittance into the pool will not change. that will apply to come those same standards will apply regardless of affiliation and potential bent one way or the other. we can't, we are a neutral association represents a diverse press corps. so we cannot obviously instruct our members how to report our what to report but we do have a certain standard for membership and we have a certain standard not just from the worship in our organization but for the pope which gives access at the white house regardless of who is in power. >> if rumors of news are being drawn towards more ideological
outlets, i mean, does that just continued to increase this polarization that brought us to this point? to you see a remedy for that? what direction do think that is moving? >> you absolutely right year we are seeing a trend towards more people being more silos in sort of operating in an echo chamber. and again i think the only thing you can do is be visual in your reporting. also sort of goes back to the same thing i said about literacy. we have to teach people what is -- were not going to be able to report the truth because truth is so subjective, but we can report fax. and realize that people are going to go to their preferred source of information, but we have to somehow teach them a what they are doing, you know,
and what type of, where the sources of information are coming from. i think it's the only thing we can really do. >> i think with that we need to close it down. i want to thank all three panelists very much. [applause] >> so that's it for this afternoon. we and our panels have been invited to come are moving up to the national press club next for a reception. i want to thank the former paul miller's a given all the the other folks who came out, and thank you very much. >> president-elect trump continues his thank you to her today with a stop in fayetteville market a lot of the watch as a speech to supporters live at 7 p.m. eastern here on c-spanc-span2.
follow the transition on c-span as president-elect donald trump the lexus cabinet, and republicans and democrats prepare for the next congress. we will take you to keep it as they happen without interruption. watch life on c-span, on demand at c-span.org or listen on our free c-span radio app. >> the co-chairs of the commission on presidential debates sat down with two of this years presidential debate moderators, chris wallace and martha raddatz to talk about lessons learned from the election. they looked at potential changes on a future debates are structured. this is an hour and 15 minutes. >> from the national press club washington, d.c., this is the caliber report. [applause] -- "the kalb report."
>> hello and welcome to the national press club and to another edition of the caliber report. i marvin kalb and our topic tonight, democracy in action, the presidential debates of 2016. with a few exceptions during the height of the vietnam war, we have had these televised presidential debates since 1960, and they've always added to our understanding of the candidates and their policies. grabs not as much as what we would've liked but enough to be put on a must see list during any presidential campaign. this last one in 2016 a special in many ways and we shall discuss the presidential debate of 2016 with two of the moderators and the two co-chairs of the commission on presidential debates. first, the moderators. martha raddatz who is chief global affairs correspondent for
abc news where she has been for 20 years. earlier she worked for npr. this year she co-moderated the second presidential debate. four years ago she moderated the ninth presidential debate. the other moderator, chris wallace of fox news, where he has been for the last 13 years after long stints with abc news and nbc news. in fact, chris has been a broadcaster for 50 years, following a distinguished family tradition. the two co-chairs of the commission our first, frank fahrenkopf who helped set up the debate commission in 1986, working them with a democrat paul kirk. he is a washington lawyer who was president of the american gaming association. the other co-chair, the democrat, is mike mccurry, a
communications specialist and professor of public theology at westlake theology seminary here in washington, d.c. he was also a spokesman at the white house and the state department under resident bill clinton. martha, we start with you. the two candidates in the 2016 raise, donald trump and hillary clinton, were not your run-of-the-mill candidates. they were in their wake very special. so i'm asking you, how did that specialness affect the way in which you prepared for the debate? >> whenever you prepare for a debate you approach it, i approached it in the same way i approached the vice presidential debate. first of all it is the super bowl of debates, without question. we had done some primary debates, all the networks had done primary debates, but when you go into a general election debate and the candidates as you
said our special, i do think it to take about that. you have to think about how you ask the question, but that's the same thing i would have done no matter who the candidates were. i mean, the special part of the preparation is you prepare for that candidate. you prepare, you look at the candidate over the campaign, you look at both candidates over the campaign. you want to ask questions in a way you think will get answers. it was a town hall debate, so we looked at the questions that the people were presented to them and decided amongst ourselves and with anderson cooper, which one would be best for the candidate. i don't mean i'm going to trip you up with this or that, but there are questions the audience has, the council members have for particular candidates. we could follow up. i'm sure chris does the same
thing, when you follow up and when you think you might get a certain kind of question you going to follow up in the way you hope you get even more of an answer. or an answer, treated. >> chris, you seemed at least in my judgment very surprised by donald trump's response to your question about respecting the result of the election. that was a very special moment. i'm wondering what your feelings were at that time. were you prepared for his answer? >> i did know what his answer was going to be but i thought there was a great question because whatever he answered i knew was going to make news. it was very much out there. his vice president has said yes, he will respect the results and his daughter that data is going to respect the results, but as we've learned until donald trump says it doesn't matter what anybody else says. so when asked the question, and he, and martha is exactly right. you are a lot of debates but the
general election debates are different and there's just allow a seriousness, a level of attention. you were saying what was different, donald trump was different about these debates and because of donald trump, i think the audiences were enormous. it was the first debate, the most watched first debate. ours was the most third watched debate ever. i knew that whatever he said he was going to be a big deal. when he said it even though i was prepared for it, i was still kind of shocked in the moment. less than three weeks, 20 days before the election, here is a presidential candidate saying i'll have to think about accepting the results of the election. and then purely ad lib., i just thought i want to put this in historical perspective that there was a long tradition of a peaceful transfer of power, and long tradition we grope, we know what nixon did in the 1960 raise
or what al gore did after the recount of the supreme court ruling, that that was a big deal and i wanted to put it in historical perspective and, of course, the then said i'll keep you in suspense. >> he did. frank, you've been a co-chair since it was started in late 1980s. in your judgment what makes a good moderator of? >> the hardest job that we have on the commission is determined to the moderators are going to be. in my experience, we have done 30 presidential and vice presidential debates since the commission was created. the hardest thing is to who you're going to because moderators. you must think about diversity. we examined as much as we can the work product of the would be moderators to see whether or not this as a person who has not gone far left or right with regard to any particular candidate, so they can't be a
fair moderator asking of questions. we spent a lot of time on. it's got to be something, there's a great deal of debate before these debates as to what the job of martha and chris and anderson were going to be with regard to quote fact-checking. there were people who wan wantes to have a trailer all on the bottom of the television tube saying what they said was wrong or right. our view is that's not the job of the moderate. the moderator is to facilitate the discussion i get out of the way. if one of the candidates says something that won't, debate, the other candidate is supposed to be the one who corrects them. >> do you set ground rules? >> we said no ground rules. we are just indicating when people ask us what you just asked me, what we're looking at in a debate that's overlooking it, someone who can take that rule and do the job. >> mike, and selecting
moderators, do you have to clear your selections with the presidential candidates? >> no. >> has there ever been a time when a candidate has said i don't particularly like a reporter, i do want to go on? >> in the past, maybe yes. but not in the last two or three cycles. >> in 1984 i think it was, before the commission started, the league of women voters gave to the two campaigns the veto right and believe it was over 90 reporters were either next or zeroed out as moderators were painless because then it was a moderator along with a panel of reporters. >> it was marching orders. what were the marching order to give to these moderators? >> yourself, ask the questions. that was it. we don't know what the questions are going to be. guido asked them what the question to going to be. we trust their journalistic integrity and they rewarded us, particularly visa to.
>> the two that we picked a pretty good examples of what we did work the way we do it. we picked qualified, intelligent journalists are going to ask very, very good questions. we do get lobby but a lot of different people. we work to put on -- >> lobbied by whom? >> mostly the networks because we -- >> the networks want to push their anchored? >> right. there are five networks and we collaborated with or they are part of the network pool and they're all very aggressive in pushing their favorite correspondents. we sometimes of examples of where we don't necessarily follow those networks. >> i just want to give a sense of how little. the executive director calls me up and it's a bit like being, becoming a made man in the mafia. she almost reads like -- [inaudible]
and it's like to you except? it's quite formal and quite moving actually when you get that phone call. she said now, you're going to get asked all the question. we don't want you to share them with the commission or was it a campaign. she said about a week before the debate you're going to have to come up with six topics, and the six topics that we will tell the campaign, these are the six topics, six segments, immigration or foreign policy, whatever. and i said who decide to those wrecks she said you do. and i went well. >> you didn't decide the sex? >> i did decide to the point is she said, we get ahead of time you tell the camping what are the six topics to will be in the debate, like minor supreme court, economy, immigration go on and on. but when i said who decide what by six topics are going to be,
she said you do. is completely left up to you. >> those are publicly announced. it's important to note. >> there really is the purity to the process. when you get that call you were on your own. you hit the books and then -- >> what happened any relationship with the network? mike was -- wanting to push certain anchors? what kind of relationship did you have? >> i'm not told -- my network could not have been better in backing the in every step of the way. not only that but hey, i need time to do this. and i think the message to me was always at some point when you want off world is off good morning america and are coming up against the debate, just tell us. they gave me time to prepare. they helped me prepare spirit of what they think they gave you time? you didn't have to do your regular us simon? >> i did not.
my big assignment became this. >> digit people helping you with research? >> you bet. i had a research team at. remember, did they know the follow-ups that if we got this question this is a follow-up? we worked on that for weeks your. >> tell me, for both of you, what was the most gratifying part? >> as i say, it is an enormous statement of frost on the part of the commission and to help in the course of talking about the commission because i think it's really a national treasure. i remember in 1980 and 1984 when i was covering reagan and the debates are basically decided by the campaigns, and jim bakker for the reagan campaign and jim johnson of the mondale campaign,
they would get together and they would negotiate everything. by this time, and i think frank and mike would say this, that power of the commission has grown over the years so they now decade. they say we will have the debate in las vegas on this date and it will be this kind of the debate, townhall or one on one, and so-and-so will be the moderator. they do take it and because of that it is taken on an independent body which is not concerned about electing either of them as president. the most challenging thing for me was, the good news was i'm getting a debate. the bad news, and i love the way frank set it, he's a great salesman because he made it sound like this is a good thing. he said you are batting cleanup, chris. doing the last debate. that sounds good but this is about september 3 and the last debate was october 19 which meant i had a month and half this do about this.
my wife was sitting in the front row and she will tell you. the funny thing is, basically, first you want to get to work and prepare. i had to wait until the debate was over on october 9. i wanted to see what had been asked, what the campaign was comp what the issues were, what the scandals were. it was on those last 10 days that i prepared. >> martha, the most challenging moment for you? >> i would say the most challenging moment for me was friday evening after the access hollywood tapes were released, and we are prepared for the debate which was sunday, and we really had to reconfigure everything. and think about what our responsibility was. because of that. how we would deal with that. between our teams and yet it was a townhall. we didn't know whether people would be really asking about that or whether they want to ask
about that at a national debate. i would say the most gratifying, the moment you get that call you are part of history. you are part of presidential history, and it is a profound moment. you know you have a huge responsibility part of that is what we talked about, it's not about you. that you facilitate that conversation. you certainly want answers and in a both chris and i tried very hard to get answers and i think we did a pretty good job of that, but it is a profound sense of responsibility and an honor. i really don't say that lightly at all. it is an honor to do these debates. >> have you ever and he did a presidential candidate like donald trump? >> nope. [laughter] >> do you think -- >> and i think everybody in the press would probably answer that the same way. >> but as you are a protein or
moment that sunday, and you have not ever any did anybody like him, you couldn't really anticipate what his response was going to be. >> you couldn't, absolutely you couldn't. i have done a primary debate with him and i think we're down to maybe seven republican candidates at that point. i had the bandage of washing the debate with lester holt so you had a clue of how it might handle it or lester had the most challenging being the very first and not knowing how the debate would proceed. you look at that. i had done an interview with the donald trump before so i knew in that sense it but again, whatever you think of how unusual a candidate he was, you do it the same way. you study, figure out, try to figure out how they will answer it. it might be more difficult with him. >> we talked about this a moment ago.
chris, you mentioned the first debate attracted 84 million people, andprobably 100 million if you were to throw in c-span. i heard was about 15. that got you up to 99. that did not count people who were on their computers or string under ipads. >> well over 100 million. >> that sounds absolutely wow. >> i thought so. >> what i'm try to get at here is that we have heard from the moderators what an awesome responsibility it is. no question about that. the idea of interviewing somebody who's going to be president is a big deal. big deal. you have all these people out there, and it strikes the data could be seen as mass entertainment as opposed to a very large classroom of civics.
mass entertainment. when you have that many people and that many television this and that, you are an entertainer, right you guys are putting together the best show that you could. >> this is a child report. how would you do it carefully? >> if you guys did as well as we do. [laughter] >> serious question. how do you prepare a show? that's what you did. >> that's not true. our job is to take the leading candidate for president of the united states with a realistic chance, got a chance to be elected president and we have a measure of that and there's some controversy about that if you want to get into that. and give them a place where they can present their best argument. why they want to be president of the united states. what more do you want us to do than to present good moderators
who ask good questions and let the candidates do whatever they want to do ?-que?-que x you saw what they did into a 16. that wasn't the most substanti substantive, serious, sober discussion about the future of the country i've ever heard? no. but that's what the two candidates gave us. that's what we the people -- >> i want to make a dichotomyrte really felt in this series of debates. i felt that one of the difficulties we had come at the door member martha having to do with it a chris and lester did, that we had audience participation in this where in the past we really don't we go out until the audience this is different. this is not the primary debates where i felt sometimes watching the primary debates that the networks were holding up applause signs and things of that nature. it got wild and it got wally. our debates have always been we have a white house event goes out.
there is no interruptions, no commercial. and networks take will be put out. we go for 90 minutes. we hopefully think they candidates are going to answer smart questions asked by moderators. it's not only the answers. i've done 30 of them since the beginning. one of the things i learned from someone said to me what have you, you've done 30, what's the thing they teach you? the thing i came up with, which was a challenge i think in the series of debates is i have learned of the american people after doing 30 of these don't necessarily like and vote for the smartest person. they want to like the president. that was a challenge when you have both candidates with negative approval raised by the american people. that's what made this a little more dynamic than it has been in the past. mike and i both, the other members of the commission said you should have had a button where you chris or martha or the
other moderators could shut off the microphone of the other person. but you learn a lot about a human being when they're on that stage, if they're interrupting, if they are not being courteous. you're learning a lot about character. it's not just the answer to the question from a substantive standpoint or an educational standpoint, but you are seeing a person, making judgment. >> absolutely. to the moderators, jim lehrer who did many, many debates and did them so very well, 12, said the best approach is just ask your question, don't fact check, but the candidate say what he or she wants to say and then move on. to you by that? >> i had lunch with jimmy for my debate and that i talked to him about two or three days before the debate. a guy has done 12 debates, pretty good advice. not entirely i don't agree with that and i don't think he necessarily will agree with that either, even if he said it.
i'll give you an example. one of the hardest things to the way the debates and each segment, a segment on immigration, i'm going to ask a single question to both candidates, and clinton is going to get, whoever surgical first will get two minutes to answer uninterrupted and sometimes that meant mr. trump is heard today. he will get two minutes to answer and then there's 10 minutes for a free flow conversation. unisys are going to interrupt because you will not let one person go for 10 minutes. there were times when you have to interrupt. i would give an example. one of the more difficult judgment call just to make as, i was asking about the controversies that they both faced about e-mails and with him about winning making allegations. i wanted to ask about the clinton foundation so i asked secretary clinton, mr. trump says you blur the lines between public and private and that this
is patently. she says thanks so much. that's all been investigated. it's not been proven but i love to talk about the clinton foundation. i'm thinking now here she goes and she's going to talk about all the good works they do all over the world. which is interesting but not the question i asked. it's not the easiest thing in the world to say to the former second estate i don't want to hear about what you're doing for poor children in africa. i want you to talk about the scandal that has rejected as a moderate. sometimes you can't just let them go on. >> you can't let them just go on but that's different from saying what they are saying is wrong. if you know, martha, if you know that that candidate is saying something that is inaccurate, is a lie, it is wrong, but is your responsibility to tell the american people what you just heard is wrong? >> i don't think that's my responsibility to say what you just heard is wrong.
one of the ways i approach it is, here are your words, i mean, it's what frank said. you know, mr. trump, do you do anything to say about what secretary clinton just had? i mean, i think at one point on the iraq, on public pronouncements of being against the iraq war, that has been litigated so may times for the debates and news media, i think at one point when he said that again during the debate i said something like, i know critics say otherwise. it is the response that of others. to i think i should just sit back? if they say to me, and no-fly zone is really easy to do, i might with some expertise to say actually, what so-and-so says about a no-fly zone is it would take 10,000 troops. it's not me debating donald trump or hillary clinton. it is me trying to get answers from the candidates and let the other debate.
and again am i prepared for things to come back at them and say, but you said on july 19 this? it's the same thing you do on our sunday shows that you want to come back and have a follow-up that is tough, but it is not my job to say you are wrong about that. it is my job to find perhaps some evidence what he said something else or to let the other -- >> but there was something very distinctive about these debates and about the entire campaign. chris said before, the essential element in it was donald trump. he was the one, if it were not for donald trump you would not have had these astronomical ratings. >> i agree. >> so what i'm trying to get at here, and we will get into more detail in a little bit, but the whole idea of a candidate saying something that is undeniably a
lie, if you don't feel it's your responsibility to challenge -- >> i'm not saying don't challenge the i'm just saying the way you worded that, marvin, you are wrong about that, i don't think that's the way to do it. >> i don't either by the way spirit then you shouldn't have said it. [laughter] you have follow-ups. you have material. you have stuff you can talk about with a candidate and bring it up to the other candidate. they are debating. you can make that conversation. >> can also add a point that seems not to be given as much relevance that should? the other person on the stage told untruths as well bigger was a like it was just donald trump who told whoppers. so did hillary clinton. it got into a slippery slope. if you start to say i'm going to fact check and see what donald trump said here is wrong, do you have an obligation than to do
hillary clinton? if you do it on this level, you know, what you consider an outrageous whopper, how about that kind of medium whopper? i don't want to slander burger king here but in other words, you can run into, at what level do anything at what level do not intervene? at a certain point it stops being a debate. >> hang on just a minute. >> i want to take a moment speed is we are very well behaved. behaved. >> i want to take a moment to remind our radio, television and web audience is that this is a dekalb report. i am marvin kalb and a discussing the 2016 presidential debates with martha raddatz and chris wallace, and mike mccurry and frank fahrenkopf, the co-chairs of the commission on presidential debates. now, i'm picking up the point which is sort of been lurking in the underbrush.
to discuss a relatively new phenomenon in our public discourse that is called post-truth. the oxford dictionary defines post-truth as, quoting, relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential than shaping public opinion that appeals to emotion and personal belief, unquote. chris, journalists are supposed to be in the truth business. we tell the truth as best we know it. how did we suddenly get into this post-truth business speak with i don't know that we're suddenly ended the there have always been in appeals to emotion. as frank said, an awful lot of people in politics is a kind of visceral reaction to ronald reagan won the debate by saying there you go again. it wasn't an untruth, actual a
kind of was. but my point is that it was an appeal to emotion, and appealed to i am a reasonable god and you can trust me to be president and that made a difference. >> he was cracking a joke. >> i think he was making a comment. >> where is the truth in that? that's the kind of thing when you talk about fact checking. there's different views. >> i'm trying to get a something more serious than the post-truth of phenomenon is a very important thing that does affect our politics. i think it does affect our journalism. it does suggest that if you play with things in a skillful way, you can win over public without even laying your cards on the table. you don't have to do that because you have somehow or another gone beyond the responsibility of you laying out the truth as best you know what.
do you feel, maybe you don't at all, but frank, do you feel there is any danger that we may be approaching a post-truth world? >> that's the first time i've ever heard of post-truth. i'm glad you educate me tonight. i look at this differently, marvin. what is the responsibility of chris or martha doing her sunday shows where they are interviewing candidates, and it's one on one and chris is asking the question or martha is and they give an answer that is post-truth or is working with the facts in such a way. then i do their job as moderators, moderating their own show what i want to correct and go after them and say wait a minute, you said this last week when that's really not true. the debates are different, in my
view, and mike can speak for himself in the debates are different at a debate is the debate. the reason that we change the format four years ago and got away from this, you ask a question and then two minutes to answer and then the other candidate has one minute to respond. 30 seconds and then you move on. we divided it in six segments where we can get down and drill down and get facts. but it's not a job in our view of that moderator to do what they would do other sunday shows one on one. i think that's a vast difference. that's the point of trying to make which is different. >> the questions are different the windy city around with his research teams, we often say this is not an interview. this is a debate. the questions are going to be a different way that you approach those candidates. >> so among the four of you here, the concept of post-truth is in no way an aggravating, not aggravating, a disturbing
phenomenon? >> i think politicians have been doing that for years. this is nothing new. i don't think there's anything you began to talk about a politician take a set of facts and try to come out with an approach to to those facts are a result of those facts that you don't agree with what other people, that's part of politics. >> mike, go ahead. >> i think the question is about the crisis that exists in journalism. the fact that there is no economically viable model to support the kind of excellent journalism that we've been accustomed to for a long time. the challenge is how do you take truth, post-truth is just a silly comment, a silly phrase. there is truth that journalists have to uncover and report and
aggressively go after come advantage to it with creativity and inspiration, and at work hard to make it compelling for the audiences that need to get the truth. that failure of journalists to do that is why we're in this quandary and why we have allowed content to go off to fake news in social media and other places. it is the responsibility of our established, respectable verifiable, accurate news organizations that we depend on. as americans, to do a better job. that's what we need. >> based totally on what mike just said, how do you guys both feel about the quality of the journalism, not individually, but the industry itself atthis point? and how well do you think it did in the coverage of the 2016
campaign? >> chris? [laughter] >> i got -- i don't think that the fact checking was the big problem. i think we did a lot of that and i think to the degree that people cared that the record was set straight on things that all of the candidates said but i will focus particularly on hillary clinton and donald trump and i think, generally speaking, people knew the truth or falsity of what they were saying. the thing that bothered me the most, particularly during the primaries, was the over coverage of donald trump's rallies. that was i think a business decision. i'm talking particularly now about cable news and, frankly, we were not the worst offenders. that if donald trump was giving
a rally and you didn't have them on and your competitor did them on, that you're going to lose eyeballs to your competitor. it was not only they carried the rallies but we all know that they would show the podium before the rally for 45 minutes and say waiting for the donald trump rally. i know that just go the other campaigns in the primaries not. that was i think a terrible mistake and we shouldn't have done it. there should've been, with 17 candidates you're not going to cover everyone the same but they were candidates that were more viable than other candidates, and we always do that kind of process. but i think the over coverage of trump, because you was good for business, money, bottom line, was a mistake. but having said that, people say they think they get it wrong, they said we were trying to push trump. we were not leading public opinion. we were following public
opinion. he wasn't driving ratings, and so we and fortune i didn't have to make that decision, caved to it. >> martha, do you agree? >> first of all i just think that we as journalists have to take a hard look at 2016. absolutely we want to move on. we just want to cover the administration but i do think we have to be self reflective of things exactly right, chris this talk about and how we covered it and how we are fair. i think that when you're in the moment and you're in a campaign that is one of the most unusual in history, you are just as you go along. i think there were some very, very good journalism, and people sort of caught up with what was happening. >> forgive me. where was the very, very good journalism? the martha raddatz show on abc last night. >> chris wallace.
did a lot of great journalism. >> "new york times," breaking the back hillary clinton had a private you know system in march -- spinning that people forget about. that was a huge breaking story and that drove, and that drove campaign coverage spent on the "washington post" on trump and the charities. there was a lot of good journalism. >> another point -- >> can i interrupt? i think he would have to give donald trump a tremendous amount of credit for changing maybe journalism in the future. i mean -- >> spell that out for me. >> win has to be a candidate who would get up in themorning and call "morning joe" or cbs morning news and say hey, i'm up. >> is not a good thing for journalists? >> do you think it's good journalism? >> i don't know.
i'm not a journalist. >> but you just made the point that we have do the what to him? i am saying what he did to you was the best, and it may be to do with the profit margin that you're talking about. if you are a morning show and you don't have to go through what you know they do, and the oldies with a candidate, he had to go to press secretaries and so forth, takes forever to schedule people to be on the shows. you would get that call and say i'll go on, interview. it was incredible. >> and let us say that he made that call to fox or abc, any of them, and it actually nothing to say that it was just a repeat of what he had said before, except he was utterly outrageous in what it said. they would put him on but they did put him on. >> they put him on. >> not everybody put him on. one sunday show -- spinning [talking over each other]
>> that's a good deal. that's a good deal. that's fascinating. mike comment do you buy that analysis of the media and the relationship with trump? >> my role at the white house was to be kind of a human piñata for the press corps to get beat cop. that skin cancer from california growing up. it seems to me, i like the fact that donald trump made himself accessible and called into shows, but i also think the scrutiny and accountability that he needed to have from journalists who would then have that opportunity to talk to there should've been a little more aggressive, more akin to what i was then we went at the white house. >> i think they were pretty aggressive. >> when trump said i don't -- >> did anyone ask them, by the way, are you going to try to upset at a humble everything we've done in asia for the last 25 years and give taiwan spitted
he wasn't on this week but i was asking kellyanne conway about it. my competitors were asking mike pence and reince priebus about. he got hammered for his opening statements about the immigrants crossing the border and mexicans being a rapist and criminals or saying that john mccain can it wasn't for lack of coverage, marvin. >> thank you for raising that, because in the past week, his spokesman, including kellyanne conway, was trying to explain the way in which he used words and the way in which he would present ideas. and what she was saying in effect was that he was saying these things but the american people should not ever taken that seriously. it's just the mood he was striking. you can't go with the facts, she said. you have to go with the mood spewing she can say anything she wants. >> of course.
>> but that's her spin on it but we didn't take it that way. we didn't say he said that, but that's just a doll and we -- >> hillary clinton to hold a press conference for how long? it was months. >> 250 days. >> here's a guy saying i am available. >> marvin, you talk about during the debate, is it difficult to ask questions to donald trump. it's also difficult to ask questions to someone who is just getting your talking points. you have to have a different approach with that as well command secretary clinton is very good at those talking points. you tried to get her back to something that will be a meaningful answer as well. >> i totally agree. let me ask the two of you, if the commission in its wisdom were to ask you to come back in four years and the moderators again, what would you have learned from the 2016 experience that could be profitably put
into a 2020 debate environment? chris. >> i would ask to do the first debate so i wouldn't have to stew over it. >> do you really think that artie think you benefited from -- >> i do think i benefited it took about eight inches of colin out of me but i did benefit. i saw what -- >> a tougher assignment then you have because you could actually build on the record that had come and who was the first moderator. >> i'm just going to tell you, when we sit and talk about topics, it was when we did lie, chris can have it. [laughter] we will just leave that for chris. >> i had some topics and very near the end of the debate one of the guys asked and i went damage. because i was hoping it would be simpler vote for me in the debate spin not to shortchange marvin but one thing i've been asked a lot is why they would not have a substantive discussion about global climate
change or some issues that were sort of left off the table? which actually came to you then because you had the chance at the last debate to add more substance. i have gotten a question of lot so i am just asking both of you. you could have come up in the town hall. >> because this is going to ask about it. [laughter] >> it didn't come up in the 2012 debate and h it didn't come up n the 2016 debate. it is arguably one of the most important things where to think about spin when you ask public opinion polling it really wasn't. >> so what? it matters. >> of course it matters last night. >> obviously it's a really important topic. one thing about our debate, there were topics that we hope to get to but because of what happened on that friday, we probably lost a lot of time at. >> another one for me is poverty
and hunger and homelessness in this country. >> absolutely things like that. we thought would come up in that town hall debate where you can guide the conversation in that way. >> what were you waiting for the candidates to raise that, or do you think it responsibility? >> all of us can we sit down, again, i had a town hall debate so i'm pretty -- >> so you're relying on the people. >> i can go back to 2012 and what chris did, that you have topics that you read about, that you hear covered every day, that people talk about, that people send you things, veggies and social media. and see how important those are. we really did try to that topics, and what was important commented to talk about on social media come is a somebody behind that generating more social media so we'll talk about it. i think you have to be very careful in choosing those topics.
>> my point back would be the candidates are going to talk about the issues that they think the broad swath upper middle income average taxpayer cares about. so those who are marginalized in our country need to have someone who will voice their concerns in these debates. i think that is a role the moderators need to play. >> but what is that suggesting? what is the point of what you are just -- >> that we need questions that come from moderators to get at some -- >> but these are smart moderators. >> other than what is the top five issues that the polls tell us. >> but we do try to get beyond them your. >> i know, i'm just -- >> these are really important that we never get into them. >> by the time i got to my debate, the supreme court had never been asked. very briefly. had never been asked. immigration had never been asked.
even the wall had never been asked. you've got to do those are the because they had never been asked. you've got to do something on the economy. you have to do something on foreign policy, and now my "national enquirer" segment, which is about stuff. [laughter] >> but i did putit 45 minutes into the debate spin it's good evidence that we do not dictate the content. we on the commission leave it to the moderators of the moderators best judgment of what they need to ask. it's also incumbent upon the candidates to engage in the subject that i think most important. they will follow whatever their political people government or who is the persuadable voter, what you need to get at, what other messages you need to convey. i'm just kind of think about ways in which in these debates we can elevate those subjects that are truly important.
>> truly is a subjective. >> it is in the global climate change is not subjective and neither is poverty and homelessness and hunger. [applause] >> one in five children -- >> i agree, they are. but the question of whether it's number one or number three or number five. that's another question. we have limited amount of time. we have 90 minutes with a hell of a lot of subjects to cover. >> if you just follow what the pollsters or we won't get to any of these other -- >> these people of the toughest job to go out and that stage in front of 109 people for 90 minutes and try not to screw up. spring what he said to me just before, don't screw it up. >> frank and i really disagree on anything spent i don't disagree with you that those are important issues that you want have so much time. >> okay. we have covered that point, thank you, mike, very much. very well done. well done. >> whatever.
>> i want to talk about where journalism is today, and so i'm directing at at the two of you. there are a lot of people who feel that journalists are having a very difficult time. the art economic reasons, financial reasons for the. we brushed aside the post-truth idea a moment ago. let that sit is one of the subjects along with climate change, that we should have discussed. what i'm interested in now is this idea, that if journalism has reached a point in our society where a lot of people, for whatever reason, don't believe what the journalists are saying. they believe that the journalists are using facts that they don't recognize as fax. whatever the explanation might be.
it's reached a point where the language of journalism is inadequate to meet the responsibilities of journalism in a society under phenomenal change, and where the tweets that all of the modern means of communication seem to have overwhelmed so many of us. we are living with too much information perhaps. and i'm wondering whether overview think about questions of journalism's role these days, where it is, where it could be better? is it being overwhelmed by this general suspicion? i remember in my time, granted, that was a couple of years ago, most of what, not all of it by any means but an awful lot of what we said was accepted if not
as truth, and effort on the part of his reporters to get ou at te truth. i don't sense that now. if i am wrong, correct me. if i am right, help me understand where we go. >> first of all i think you have to divide what journalism is and what online hits are or what rumors on the internet are. that's a real problem. when you've got fake news and go social media that is throwing stuff out there that is not true, that's a real challenge. it's a challenge for our public. as far as journalism goes, i think there are people in journalism today who have not changed from the time you were a journalist. there are people who are fighting to get the truth, they will continue to do that every day. one of them is sitting right next to me. i certainly pride myself on trying to do that as well, and the thing that was heartening
hear from you tonight is meeting all these young journalists who want to be like that journalist you talk about. but the social media element of this and a public who does not know the difference between a journalist and someone just write something or make something up online is a real issue. >> you remember walter cronkite, and on that show -- [laughter] on the show a couple of times -- >> i'll have to ask you to cool it for one second. >> come back to be. >> i will in just a second by want to stick with this idea of the role of journalism speed is that for i am going. >> i will maybe give you a chance. the role has always been, it's a special role in a democracy, a vibrant democracy. we are supposed to serve as a kind of watchdog, government officials, policy, all of that.
we are always delighted to quote our founding fathers. we say that they place the concept of freedom of the press right up there in the first amendment of the bill of rights of the u.s. constitution, and he was not an afterthought when they do that. it was fundamental. thomas jefferson once said famously that if he had a choice between government without newspapers or newspapers without a government, he would take the newspapers. what i hear, the journalist again, many colleagues, maybe me not the two of you but many i know, fear that a top administration me in one way or another cut back on freedom of the press that the also feel that many americans are so distrustful of the media that they would raise no meaningful objections if the government attempted to crack down. do you share these concerns? and asking all of you and i appeal to you to give me no more
than 30 seconds come and want to start with mike. do you share those concerns? >> about the future -- i'm not sure your stomach we are what the question was. about the role of the press? >> well, i said, if you're listening. [laughter] that there were a lot of people who are concerned that journalist may be losing their way, but the people are not trusting him any longer. ..
20 so week -- i think it was twice a week the gentleman would come out, his name is eric sabra and cbs underneath his commentary, a sad commentary appeared in jail it was his commentary and his opinion. that wasn't necessarily the news. that's where the big change has been. too many times reporters report a story with a tagline at the end to determine what is going to be. the national chairman of the party of my candidates are always complaining. quit arguing about it, i assume it, do your thing to be a lot to do same in the president will not be with you. i think it's moved even more so after this lastcampaign.
>> 30 seconds. >> i certainly want the press to continue to have access, traditional media as well in a administration and i think we will all fight to make that happen and try to be tested fair. >> they're certainly more noise now than there's ever been in that call about social media. people seem to find their way to the truth. in fact the numbers, the audiences are astronomical. i mean, they've never been bigger. people are drinking and is chemically hard news out of a firehose and our job -- my job is exactly what it's always been, to be the cop on the beat, keep them honest, check the facts, tell the truth. i think there may be certain fascination with certain phenomenon that people will find their way back to core values.
>> the clock tells me that we are quickly running out of time. so my thanks first to our wonderful attentive audience here at the national press club and all over the world and super thanks to our two terrific moderators and the cochairs of the commission on presidential debates. i think it was a from winston churchill. democracy he pointed out is the worst part of government except for all the universe. that is different now. i am barfing kelp. good night and good luck. [cheers and applause] [cheers and applause] >> what happens now as we have
about 15 minutes and we are very happy to take your questions. there are microphones on either side and back here. so stand up, go to the microphone, ask a question and please identify yourself and ask a question because if you don't i'll cut you off. over there. >> kia, vincent scarborough from florida. i read an article about how a failure in this election season that we didn't focus on policy. they focused on personality. and i look at the debate, there are another policies in place to answer questions the way they want to answer them and they realize a lot of people don't
want to have a very detailed discussion of tax policy. what's your reaction to that? do we focus enough on policy and politicians into the way they wanted to weather wasn't enough of a focus on policy? >> could you address that to anyone at the four panelists? [inaudible] >> the moderators. >> yes, we definitely want to talk about policy and we definitely want to guide us back to the policy discussion in the middle of the debate and it doesn't always work. they're going to answer it and take it in a direction i want to. i do think this is a pretty personality driven campaign without question. we try to move to the issues and we try to not just in the debates but in our general
conversations us all to talk about the issues. >> i agree with that completely about the debates. in terms of news coverage, we do talk about the issues, but i will sad and this is not something new. this is true as long as i can in journalism which is a worse race is always fascinating. who is often down and it is especially enlightening but she can't ignore it. if a candidate is either a soaring or sputtering, that is part of the story too. we do try our best to get the issues particularly in the debate and not slide a answer and some of the doubt should we don't have power -- a limited degree we do. when i was asking hillary clinton about the flag as an issue, but to a certain degree they will do what they want to
do. >> thank you very much. over to the right, please. >> been in the salmon casting. i entered into the united states back when it used to be a legal as an immigrant to 1980. my understanding of journalism is embedded in me by other presidents men which which is why i appreciate being here tonight and appreciate being in the presence of two great journalists. my question is to you, chris and to you, martha appeared we all have regrets than 50% of our country does today. if you could rewind the tape it and go back through the last debate, what question would you have asked the candidates that you wish you had asked? >> climate change. [laughter] [applause] >> can i say something? i probably shouldn't do it.
here is where i would disagree with you on this because i thought about it and you get a lot of e-mails of people suggesting questions. they are writing to us. there are a lot of big issues that haven't been discussed in depth that i wanted to ask. i did think about climate change. there is some subject that a lot of you won't like what i'm going to say. i won't say the issue is an important but i'm not sure climate change is the best 15 minute debate topic. i think it gets technical staff. and gary gets technical faster against general fast. as opposed to things like what are you going to do about entitlements? where are you in deportation or sanctuary studies? is there clear, obvious topics. i think climate change could be a little bit like grasping at
clouds. i thought about it a lot as a topic that it's not an easy 15 minute topic. >> this goes back to what the challenge is to you to figure out how to take a difficult subject like that and draw out at the candidates and then that gives us some sense of what will happen if they get elected. now in retrospect i think back to drew out of either secretary clinton or minister trump enough information about what would you do if you're going to be in office. i fully appreciate that it's very hard to do. we are now in the post campaign, postelection time. now we have to do with the reality that one of those elected is governing and we are shocked every day that we are surprised by all this stuff that
is being suggested. maybe if we elicit more of that, that would be more helpful to where we are right now. >> next question please. >> kia, holly goldberg himself loretta, journalism student. i have a question for chris. he said that the journalist role is to follow public opinion and not lead public opinion. the journalist said this kind of responsible for being the agenda setters. so how do you differentiate following the public opinion and laid in the public opinion and having to consider your viewership and getting views and how leaving donald trump's nikon to get barbie is, how do you balance leading public opinion in following public opinion? >> i guess i brought that up. i want to make it clear to
anybody that has any doubts. i was speaking also to the issues to the issue that some people say we were favoring donald trump are building donald trump. if you put them on tv and people like that, which i thought was an irresponsible decision, i don't know that were supposed to do anything. we're not supposed to shape public opinion one way or the other. we are supposed to report the news and report what they think. we are not there to shape or to follow. we are there to report the news. people can make up their own minds. >> hold on. we've got a lot of questions. pathetic out of other people. >> hi, rachel, reporter with cq rollcall. this question is for the panel including you, marvin. it's about the relevancy of the president's debate. i'm saying that if someone who really wants in and relevant.
as you said earlier tonight 100 million people tuning into the first presidential debate. myself and many other people and their analysis of the debate came off as more presidential, had more control of herself and the policy in her temperament, but then donald trump won the electoral college. >> what is your question? >> my question is given that you had 100 million people watching and one candidate was seen as stronger during the debate, what does that mean that the candidate who is seen as being the weaker debater won the election. what does that mean for the debates ability to influence the voters or are we in a washington novelist journalist were watching the debate saying this person did better and we have fundamentally different takeaways. >> you are in a bubble. there are three bubbles in this
country. and they echo chambers. one starts on the east coast of boston, one hartford goes to new york, post on from only 10, philadelphia, baltimore and washington. if "the new york times" "washington post" bubble. and then to go to seattle and come down from seattle to portland to francisco, l.a. that is "the l.a. times." the san francisco comical bubble. and then he got a small bubble around the great lakes. if you look at the map of where the rat and the blue is coming to see that what happened. the buffalo bob the broke this time. he broke that blue bubble there. the point i made before is the american people aren't necessarily looking for the smartest candidate. they are gaining something. he was talking to someone totally different then you and they voted for him.