tv After Words Bill Press From the Left CSPAN June 17, 2018 9:01pm-10:01pm EDT
cspan, where history unfolds daily. in 1979 cspan was created as a public service by america's cable television company. and today we continue to bring you unfiltered coverage of congress, the white house, the supreme court and public policy events in washington d.c. and around the country. cspan is brought to you by your cable or satellite provider. next on book tv "after words", television and radio host retraces his transition to progressiveolitics. he is interviewed by syndicated columnist. "after words" is a weekly interview program with relevant guest host. the interview top nonfiction authors about their latest work. >> bill, you have a new book from the left, life in the
crossfire. this is the memoir as well as a political testimonial about where you stand, right. >> it is. good to see you mona. >> good to see you too. >> i called my memoir part one. i don't necessarily think this is the end of the road. >> barack obama wrote a memoir when he was in his 30s so that's not saying anything that you wrote a memoir now. >> thank you for helping me make that point. i've had a good run and i want to talk about some of the fun things we had been able to do so far and people that i've met so far and they really want to get a story down, we have five grandchildren. >> are they the ones were pictured? >> yes. >> and i wanted them to know what granddad was up too. >> you are a delaware boy, who was bootsy carter nyc in the
story? >> booty. >> i had a cousin named bootsy. i never realized the connection there. booty carter was a wrf guy who lived in delaware city where i grew up, little town on the banks of the delaware river 15 miles south, kind of a forgotten town with 1200 people and i had a great life growing up there as a kid, fishing and hiking and swimming in the river and to me it was all great. didn't realize until "after words" that it was really a good little place to grow up if you were white, but delaware city was a segregated town. i went to the white school and the colored kids went to school outside of town. >> so you had the local school you could walk a couple blocks and the black kids had hiked a mile - yes.
>> and there were white businesses and black businesses and white churches in black churches that i grew up with that. i didn't realize how wrong it was. my father had a gas station that he built himself and he was one, if not the only business in delaware city who would do business with black customers and welcome black customers and even let the by on time so the end of the month my mother would send out the bills and he would even extend that to african-americans. booty was one of his best friends and really a leader in the black community in delaware city, and my father always made a point of including him, as a friend, and he would have a christmas party at our house and he would always make sure that booty and other after an american friends were invited
and as i recall he was the only one who would come but he would always come but he would insist on using the back door. my father said what are you doing he said i don't want to embarrass you that i don't want to be an embarrassment to you or your neighbors. that really struck with me. living through that experience in looking back, the n-word was common and there was just no mixing of the races. it was sad. >> there are two experiences in the book where you describe having to lie down flat in a vehicle to avoid danger. one of them was in croatia
where you had to lie down in the vote. the other one i want to get to tells us more about how we developed in your life developed in south-central los angeles during the riot. one of the most exhilarating things is to be shot at and miss. >> i was doing radio and tv in l.a. at the time i was at casey opt be and the rodney king riots happened. we were on the brea avenue near where the studios are located, and at the time, i was a membe fst ame church which is the black church in south-central l.a., a wonderful community.
and so, that's where most of the burning was taking place. i suggested that i would do my commentary that night from the church. he said you go down there now and i will send a crew. i went to the church. suddenly it started getting really hairy. fires got closer, we could ar gunfi and there was ash falling and there was cars covered with ash and bob long
called me and said dude, you're stuck, we can't get a crew in there, it's too dangerous. they won't let anybody in. so i was standing on a step with a couple ministers and parishioners and we were just looking out and the guy turned to me and said so, how are you to get out of here. i was the only white person there, one of the only white persons in the congregation and i so will my cars right here i'll just, and he said oh no you're not. you're not going to live i drive home. i lived in west hollywood which was only about 5 miles away. >> but at that moment white people were being dragged out of trucks and terrible things were happening. >> it was a war zone. he said i've got an idea, i'll take youom he said come with me. he was parked about a half block away and he said sneak through and we got to his car and he opened the back door
and he said get on the floor, i'm going to cover you with this blanket. whatever you do don't move. and you have to stop and start, i don't know, but you don't move. i was scared to death and this brave guy, he drove me right through lots of noise, i don't even know everything we went through and got me too west hollywood home where my wife didn't know what was going on and was really frightened for me and for the city and i feel so badly that this guy, i think he really saved my life, he certainly was a good samaritan beyond what you can imagine and i don't even remember his name. but i'll never forget him. >> he will know who he is when he reads the book. >> that whole experience of going through those riots, one other quick thing that oblong
might remember, we went up on the roof of our studio one night and you could see the gangs coming up la brea avenue reet to the other. side t democrats came, no firemen came, it was just anarchy. >> a lot of people held the l.a. police responsible for that and felt that was a dereliction on their part. >> i was also doing talk radio at the afi, on the air and the police officer came in and said the building was being fired on there were snipers in the area, again, what you do, you crawl under your desk or whatever, but they moved the radio station up to the hills above pasadena for two days
just to vacate the area and broadcast from the chief engineer's home. we just all camped out for two days when we did the show. >> one of the things you talk to be at this church you which is a protestan denomination and you were raised cholic and studied forthoo back to delaware for a bit, let's talk about your attraction to the priesthood. did you feel like you had a cation, or was it something where you just thought i want to be involved in public service so this seems like a route to that? >> it wasn't that dramatic, i wasn't knocked off my horse like st. paul. >> were you ever on a horse? >> i grew up catholic. my father was catholic so i went to catholic mass every
sunday and then catholic high school. for me it was just like that was like falling off a horse. thereas no big decision there, but when i was in high school, i was thinking about what i was going to do after i graduated. it was public service that i was interested in and i'm thinking about becoming a lawyer and being a public interest lawyer. the priest that i knew at a school, i went to a catho boys school, grade school, but this good life, they played a lot of golf, everybody loved them, they were considered up on the pedestal, people invited them to their homes and they were like little movie stars. no fily, no responsibility, no bills to pay or whatever. it looked like a pretty good
life to me and a public service life. it wasn't a religious thing, it was more the lifestyle that appealed to me. so i decided to give that a try. i was in for nine years, studying for the priesthood and a tenth year on a leave of absence just to make sure that i wanted to leave, i had decided by them that it wasn't what i wanted to do for the rest of my life and i was never ordained. i was part of her religious order. the head of the order said you've been here nine years and we have an iestment in new and you have an investment, let's at least give it a year before you cut the cord. >> the thing that confused me in the way you described in the book is that when you talk about leaving the priesthood
and you say am i a catholic can you say what do i believe in you talked about a bunch of things were you say you i am, but i don't believe in jesus and i don't believe he was divine and a whole series of things that would pretty much mark you out as a nonbeliever. >> my definition is pretty broad. there is a bridge that i ignored. i come out of the seminary and i'm still a person of faith and i was looking for a meaningfuleligious experience and safe experience of which i could not find in the catholic church. when i left the seminary i was living in switzerland. i came back to the united states, i did not want to go back to the small town delaware. i was able to get a job teaching school in salem cisco. i'm in san francisco and i went to a few catholic churches and it just wasn't meaningful.
i joined the methodist church, it was a wonderful, active church in the tenderloin of san francisco. then when i moved to l.a., this was a baptist church, first ame baptist and i first went there with jerry brown and i loved the service in the sermon was right on in the music was great. so my catholicism, i guess some people call cafeteria catholicism. having been born and raised a catholic i don't feel that i have to do any other organized religion. i'm kind of skeptical about all and never got a letter from anyone thing you no longer catholic. >> right. well if they had such thing. >> after this program i probably will. >> since you mentioned jerry
brown, you leave switzland and you find yourself in california and you bounced around a bit with different jobs, political jobs and you helped a really nasty guy get elected to the state legislature. >> to the board of supervisors. >> not entirely nasty, he could be a wonderful person to be around but he was not a good foster work for. >> but eventually you find yourself working for jerry brown. tell us about how that happened. >> i did teach school and then i got involved in politics volunteering for eugene mccarthy for president. then i got a political job. i actually got a paid job and then i ran a campaign for a republican for state senate,
number one environmentalist. then i moved from his office to lead an environmental organization so it was head of pcl that i met jerry brown who secretary of state running for governor. this was in 1974. i didn't support him for governor because there was a speaker of the house, but he carried all the environmental legislation so he was our guy. not that i liked jerry but then jerry gets elected. he had four things he said he would do. one of them was i'm going to start an office and create a new office to deal with state land use planning.
one time i saw him on a plane or what just happened to be on a plane and i said jry, i just want you to know i'm never going to say anything publicly, but you don't have to create a new office. there's already an office. as part of the governor's office but nobody knows about it. it's called the office of planning and research. he gets elected. >> how much time elapsed between this conversation and when he was elected? >> maybe three or four months and then he appointed someone else. i'm going on my way and i get a call from the legal advisor and said jerry would like to talk to about that office of planning and research. he had a mind like a steel trap to remember that. he knew he who he wanted in there.
[inaudible] so my point is, this was jerry's way of doing business. he was much more organized thanks to ann. i said i'd love to do it the governor wanted to talk to me and i said fine, i'm here for the next three months and then carol and i have a long planned vacation to france but otherwise i'm here. the will. his secretary called me, about 10:00 o'clock at night thing the governor wanted to know if i could join him for dinner to talk about this job.
we went out for chinese food and talked about a lot of different stuff and said i would start when i came back. >> i was going to ask you about the way jerry brown operated because he tells story about working on his presidential campaign. he wasn't even on the ballot and he decided i was gonna run in this state and that state. >> when i got to sacramento, ronald reagan was governor. the contrast was night and day. i used to see governor reagan come in, there was a three car motorcade and 9:00 o'clock in the morning he would drive in from his house in east sacramento up the elevator,
5:00 o'clock you could set your watch back. with jerry he lived in a little bachelor pad across the park and slept on the floor on a mattres and he would saunter across capital park around 10:00 p.m. and he would be there until two or three in the morning. meetings always started later than they were supposed too. they always lasted longer than they were supposed to, they seldom covered the matter that the meeting was all about, you never knew where he was going to go, but what i discovered is they both got things done. it was amazing how you could get things done one way or another. , but then, when you want to run for president, you've got to be a little more
organized. jerry surprised the hell out of all of us by announcing one day that he was going to run for president. there was no organization or operation in place. he entered the maryland primary. he was, at the time the most handsome, the most exciting politician in the country. >> didn't you say by then it was already too late to get his name on the ballot. >> he wasn't on the ballot in maryland, but we always thought it was a joke. the secret was that nancy pelosi's father was mayor of baltimore and it was a machine politics thing. they didn't like jimmy carter and they were looking for somebody else. there was none of the above candidates and jerry when in
and one the state of maryland. then he recruited me and yanked me and to join the presidential campaign. we went to oregon, we went to rhode island, we went to new jersey and other states and we won all of those as nonofficial candidates. if your name's not on the ballot, it doesn't really count there are some states where you don't get the delegate. is impossible to ever get the math. i really believe to this day had he been on the ballot he would have been the nominee and he would've been elected president. we joke about the sometime, we were in our early 30s.
okay, it was an exciting time and it was exciting to be working in sacramento and around the country with the most exciting, dynamic, creative politicians and smartest in the country. >> so you talked a little bit about your belief in land use planning and planning, i would say it's fair to say you believe in planning in general. i have a sliver of an agreement about one thing which is you talk about we bail out people who build expensive homes and then they get subsidized from the state government. not too smart as ross perot used to say.
>> it's insane. it's building in floodplains, there certain places where you know it may not happen this year but it's not safe to build there. people say that about places in california but you never know what the earthquake but floodplains are identified. also in terms of tied surges and all of that, and also fire zones. people build in these canyons in l.a. and you know the fire will rip down those canyons and there's no style of building that you can come up with that's going to protect them when the fires hit. >> would they build their they didn't have the subsidized insurance. >> my father retired to lower delaware and after he passed,
he had given the little house to the five of us and hurricane sandy came along and we lost that house. if you wanted to rebuild on that property then they would require you to put it up on stilts, but otherwise, everyone was getting flood insurance while they were buying and building flood zone houses. to me it just makes basic cents. we were able to get builders, developers, labor unions and environmentalist together and to a certain extent say let's just identify, instead of fighting over every project, let's identify where new housing should go, where new roads should go and try to keep it compact and that seems
to be a good sensible way of approaching it. rather than fighting over every single project. >> while were on the subject of the environment, onehing jumped out at me. there are two issues that are the biggest threat and one is climate change and the others population control. i thought really? i thought that one out with the 1970s. the really still think that's an issue. >> i do. i think their limited, i'm not saying one child. family or anything like that, but i think certainly in certain parts of the world particularly the developing world there are limited
resources an ever-expanding population molonies on mars of the moon. >> actually we have tons of resources. when i fly across the country i see a lot of unlivable land. >> if you look at the prices of commodities you see plenty of them. if it was scarce the prices would be going up. the second most arguable commodity is fuel. theris have come down. it doesn't look like were facing a world of scarcity, and the population has come down, population growth as people get richer and have fewer children. maybe not the pressing problem that you think.
>> i don't see as a pressing problem that we thought it was , but i still think it's an issue. >> okay. >> certainly climate change is one, what stuns me and disappoints me is i don't think this is an issue that should be a partisan issue. i think there are differences in what we do about climate change, but to deny climate change, to deny that it's actually happening now and that we will have more serious effects on our lifestyle and our crops and where we can live and all of that, the economy particularly is just sticking your head in the sand. >> i would suggest part of the reason we have such a poisonous debate on the subject is that, you're right, there are some people who simply say it's a hoax, it's
not true, it's made up by china or whatever. but moving right along, there is some of that but there's also a lot on the left that if you don't agree with every single proposal that we make for how to deal with this issue then you are a denier, and they chose that term on purpose because it conjures up terms like holocaust denier. we can have reasonable difference of opinion about how dire the threat is from climate change. : : : >> host: other people say no and you do certain things to protect low-lying areas and take mitigation efforts and so on.
don't you think both sides need to back off the extremist talk in order to begin a constructiv- >> guest: absolutely but the beginning point has to be recognizing the existence of climate change. itseal. the temperature are rising and if you look at 13 to the last in the 13 and. >> host: bearing in mind that recorded history is not that long. >> guest: but what do we know that reagan recognize that that the glaciers are disappearing. ice caps are melting. >> host: they are melting. >> guest: they are not coming back. >> host: you don't know. i'm not saying it's not a problem but i'm saying there's a lot we do not know. >> guest: i say if we start by accepting it and then saying okay, what are some of the possible impacts and how can we avoid it. to me in the interest of everybody --
>> host: it is wrong to suggest, as al gore did, that we can event this because even if we were to stop affirming carbon tomorrow it will still continue to warm and we don't know for how long. >> guest: we have passed the point of no return. >> host: it's only an issue of medication. >> guest: you are right. we will not ended and we will not prevent it. no more than we can bring back coal as a major industry for a lot of reasons, not just environmental but, as you know, economic reasons. [inaudible conversations] >> host: okay -- >> guest: mona, yo and ian fix this. >> host: no, because now we need to get to some of the things we really disagree about. here i will quote you and this is from page 131.
this is your sojourn in central america. you say regarding nicaragua that by the way i will warn you that i worked on the garage rough issues when i worked in the reagan house so i know this very well from my personal experience. use a quote, there was no reason, except the stale meaningless fear coming is a leftover from the cold war, that for the united not to recognize -- now, the sphere of communism? let's talk about that themselves. you don't talk at all in your book about the human rights abuses that they committed or the fact they made it outright attack on the courts and they had cuban advisors on every block basically teaching them how to spy on their own people and that they had tens of thousands of political prisoners that they made war on the indians and none of this comes up and i am wondering just the
long history of communism but what about -- >> guest: i am pretty sure in my memory may be failing me here. [inaudible conversations] >> guest: i also don't talk about the human rights of the human dictator in nicaragua and we invaded twice in our history. >> host: but why is that -- >> guest: no, i think we have a too many extent a stable history of america and in what we did in chile and overthrowing that government but back to nicaragua let's talk about the human rights abuse but the they were elected partly because the nicaragua didn't want to live
they were the elected government of nicaragua and we decided, by the way, i was in contravention of american law at the time to support rebels in a civil war against the elected government. >> host: the elected government of nicaragua was a proxy of cuba and therefore of the ussr and it was they were originally elected in a broad coalition included [inaudible] who were democrats and they immediately saw what they were doing copying cuba and trying to determine nicaragua into a communist totalitarian state closing down newspapers and locking up opponents and
doing secret trials and all of those things whatever you might think about him -- yeah, he was a dictator but he was not an agent of our teeth m&a, the ussr. he was not an agent of cuba, another chief agency that wanted us to hit with nuclear weapons during the cuban missile crisis. why are you so eager to make excuses for the regime like that on the grounds that we have so much to be ashamed of? >> guest: first of all, i've been to nicaragua maybe five times and the people i talked to were a lot happier under [inaudible] then [inaudible]
>> host: they voted him out as soon as they got the opportunity but go on. >> guest: they were much happier and -- i'm not holding them up as the perfect role models for american democracy but i think they were better for the nicaraguan peoplanom was we had no business overthrowing the that not our job. i also don't buy the threat that cuba was such a that the cuban missile crisis, yes, kennedy handle thate got out of that but other than that this idea that for decades we had to consider cuba as a mortal enemy that would invade florida is ridiculous. >> host: no one said they would invade florida but they were mercenaries throughout latin america in the world to undercut and undermine democratic elected governments and -- >> guest: so did we. who is perfect? >> host: one second. bill buckley my old mentor used to say that this argument that you're making now which is -- so did we, so did we -- if we intervene for a completely different process it's like
saying -- let me get the line out -- i think that is -- there may be -- to give you an element of that but it was not the primary reason. the fact is that most of the time the united states when it did intervene was doing so to stop an even worse regime from taking power -- even worse than the ones they had their but we didn't always get to pick an ideal, beautiful democratic regime. here's the great line from bill buckley -- one man sees a bus coming in pus a little old lady into the path of a bus and another man is a bus coming and pushes the little old lady out of the path of the bus and they're both condemned for pushing the little old ladies around. it really matters why you are doing something. >> guest: i would agree. by the way, bill buckley, i love and he was a friend of mine and i debated him on crossfire and
we had good times together. i admire him a lot but i didn't agree with him on everything obviously. it's a simplistic approach to our farm policy in america which is overall he still not that od today and i never saw as the cuban that t idea that that danielle was a friend of fidel and he was better for the cuban people than baptista was in the now is better than somoza was. >> host: i haven't article looking at the economic situation under him then somoza -- >> guest: i thought we should all let that nicaraguan people if they want to elect him fine, that was their choice but -- >> host: as long as the government permits reelections and that is what nicaragua was
they were trying to prevent. luckily, it turned out differently and partially arguably because they were forced to have an election. anay -- okay. all right. we have a great quote in here from and i have to mention because we just praised bill buckley and the one person that bill buckley did not like it all was gore vidal. most the time he was a gracious person and always but gore but all would try anyone. but he did say this funny thing that you quote and the next phase which is he wrote the only person who can never escape a boar is a man who needs his vote and i love that. >> guest: by the way, from his great novel i think the best novel about washington called washington dc. >> host: i think i read that a
million years ago. you quoted that because you iran for state senate. >> guest: i ran for -- i was going to run for u.s. senate and i sort of dabbled in that and dropped out and i did run for insurance commissioner. >> host: how did that go. >> guest: i am here which means i did not win. my other favorite quote of gore but all is never give up an opportunity to have sex or be on television. classic gore that all. i still have the political bug and when you got it you have to scratch it or have the political agenda scratch it so i was always thinking about maybe i can run for state assembly or maybe state senate and i set my sights higher and i just decided
to go for broke and run for u.s. senate and i quit my job on k abc-tv and la and raised money and took a poll and raised a little bit of money and quit my job and started this exploratory committee but pete wilson, a us senato a time, there was a democrat who speaks at the assembly, liam mccarthy, who was very strong in support and the establishment candidate, if you will, i realized there was no way dropped out and endorsed him. later, this position the insurance commissioner became an elected position for the first time and that was -- it should have been a consumer protection helping people with health insurance and car insurance was a big issue at the time.
i ran for that and lost in the primary to [inaudible] who is now a congressman from california. that has been my experience. >> host: no you didn't. you just said you had not got it out of your system. >> guest: well, running for office, yes. >> host: i will call you back to yourself because this is my favorite thing and i guess you iran for office for the same reasons every other candidate does. it's mostly a desire to do good in improve people's lives and it's also the burning need to be recognized, admired, approved and fawned over as my old boss used to joke, politics is the only fatal disease that people want to die from. i love this because it is so honest and refreshing. people don't usually admit the part of what motivates them is it's nice to be admired and fawned over. >> guest: that's what motivates these people. >> host: and that's why they don't want to give it up , too.
>> guest: you could take the same line and apply it to the studying for the priesthood. i love the idea that they were fun of her and admired and they looked up to and the whole thing but i think people go into politics go into religion for the same reason they went into politics or vice versa which is why, by the way, if you go around the state capitals in this capital you will find a lot of former priest, nuns, pictures, ministers either holding office or working in agencies. >> host: and you know sometimes people ask why would somebody been in this congress for x number of years and why would they not want to go make money in the answer is it is so ego gratifying. >> guest: it is. and i also think there's a
feeling that you are doing some good in that you can make a difference in people's lives. there is a public service motivation, too. you can't ignore o deny the repetition side. >> host: at some point when you are contemplating this whole thing and when you're running you mortgage your house and you said you learned a lesson which is always that other people spend other people's money, pm. is that a basic will of politics that most people know? >> guest: it's a basic rule of politics which most people break. we did too and we didn't have a lot of money at the time and that is one thing that carol will rightfully always hold against me. that i talked her into taking a hundred thousand dollar mortgage out on the house. we never got it back. >> host: live and learn. >> guest: 's only people excited today particularly younger people and women running for office and all over the country state legislators, city council,
god bless you but my advices other people's money. remember that. first of all, the we could talk about giving money to politics or at least regulating it or controlling it and there's a big issue but the system today you have to raise money in order to compete just don't spend your own money. you can raise money to compete you will probably not be a good candidate. >> host: one argument on behalf of the supreme court's ruling in citizens united is always easier for somebody who is not independently wealthy to run because they can raise the money. that way you don't always have to have ross perot being the -- >> guest: yeah, you can raise the money from a big corporation who did not use to be able to give to politics and you're more
beholden to the corporations. >> host: and big unions, the same. >> guest: [inaudible] >> host: they have huge pockets. yes, they do. of stock about but talk about jumping to you are also that we should say the chairman of it -- you were three years any of the work and tv and radio and constantly it sounds like you are working really hard. >> guest: hundred. >> guest: i was a volunteer chair and my and tv and radio was not up. it was a busy time. >> host: then you jump to across the continent to come here and be on crossfire from the left.
>> guest: yes, that was a great experience but doing radio and tv in la which is the second largest market in the company and not a bad place to be but i was always intrigued by the national media and particularly what struck me at the time was that when you watch the sunday shows particularly all you saw were the same people from the same area and they were all boston washington and then i read in the la times as i was in the abc affiliate i would try to get to the brinkley show and there wasn't they wouldn't even return my phone calls. i read in the la times that cnn is looking for to hire someone to replace michael kinsley that is leaving crossfire and it listed the people they interviewed and they were all the same old game. i literally made a cold call to
rick davis, the producer, who i knew in crossfire and said hey, there is some wisdom west of the potomac and maybe it's a different kind of voice and he said i will put you in the mix. >> host: of tryouts. >> guest: right, of tryouts. >> host: do you remember what you were auditioning? >> guest: yeah, i do. i was on with bob novak and our guest i believe there was only one guest which is unusual because usually there were two guest but i know the guest i was up against was then senator don nichols. >> host: okay, from oklahoma. >> guest: yeah, and the issue was tax policy. tax cuts. and not my suit. but i really phoned up for that and by the way, this was novak's
gravy. >> host: he lived and died tax cuts. >> guest: and so i remember after and at the end of the show we had we used to call it the yet yep. >> host: we should probably explain. >> guest: at the end of the show the gas were gone and it was maybe a minute and a half and the two posts would go back and forth with one last little shop. and then we would say good night from the left and right and i remember novak turned to me and said what i want to know is what do you think -- american people pay too much in taxes or not enough in taxes customer. [laughter] and the only thing is i had presence of mind to say i think some people pay too much and some people pay not enough and everyone should pay their their
share. i didn't know where to go. >> host: but you never back down so that was a strength in the show i think. now, looking back you were there for six years so who was the most or it doesn't have to be the most but who is one of the most persuasive guests that you can remember. >> guest: john mccain. >> host: on what subject? >> guest: on just about any. he was a maverick and i consider myself a maverick and he was also brutally honest and willing to take on his own party. i wrotek ctical about barack obama called buyers remorse which i got a lot of crap for my fellow democrats. but i thought there were some things that i believed that barack obama let the progressive side down so john mccain felt his party was not living up to what he believed republican party should be and he was willing to say so. he did have a great elation chip with the media and he liked
teasing and being around the media and you had to meyer what he suffered for this country and what he was willing to do the fact that he stayed in prison when he could've gone out to his father was and he said until my buddies get out so you know how it is you get up close to people in power and som of them become you come away with more respect and some with us. with john mccain i came away with the most respect for. >> host: during the course of your time at crossfire we had the whole monica lewinsky thing and one of the. [laughter] >> guest: you had to go there. >> host: one of the stories you say you're doing the same thing night after night with a new wrinkle in the story and anyzing and arguing and you say one night pat beginning i
think he said we can't do it again and enough is enough let's do something else and you suggest what about nato expansion which was an incredibly important issue that arguably we are still living with the consequences so you do nato expansion and whatap? >> guest: ratings went [inaudible]. you know by the next morning what your readings were the night before and it's different in radio but television is instant and pat and i begged, please, please don't make us do monica lewinsky again tonight. nato expands was particularly important to pat but i wanted to get away from monica so we did it and it is and it still we are living with the consequences of that right now. look at ukraine and all of that and we did it and no one cared. it was and so basically brick davis whoever was in charge of times at sea, we told you so.
>> host: what is that tell you about the fate of the media and politics and how much of this entertainment values determine our national debate? >> guest: it doesn't say good things about the state of the media today. want to go back one second becaus the first night that rick davis told me that something was big was going to hit and h wanted me to know and they had been told something big was going to hit about bill clinton it was not going to be good and i was going to be on the line and when i found out what it was that first night and we had the other house that night i took a position that what he did was wrong and you cannot defendant but it was not in impeachable offense. i stayed there and glad i did. to me that was solid ground all
the way through. but back to what you said about the media. we are there has to be a certain amount of entertainment, i think, so people will watch but the entertainment value has taken over particularly with cable news today. how much time have we spent talking about not you and i but in the last few days talking about stormy daniels? you know, it gobbles up everything else because it's so salacious and people get into it and the media, i must of it, do help fan the flame. there's a story there but the media helps fan the flame. they think that will get i've always in ratings and that is what we go with. i think there is good investigative journalism being done today but not enough and i'd rather see more of that getting stories to matter they hit then just the easy go for
glitz and glamour kind of stuff. >> host: the show you are on, crossfire, was criticize a lot of the time for being a lot of snarling people and yelling at each other on television but when you compare it to what we have now it seems like, you know, the lincoln douglas debate because at least there was a half an hour devoted to one of subject where you could dive in and what you think? >> guest: totally. i've a certain bias here but that was the first -- and i think the best political debate show on television. certainly classier than. >> host: don't forget firing line with bill buckley. >> guest: i see that. but no one had the wit that he did. >> host: know. >> guest: but compared to what we have today it was it was
focused and half an hour on one topic with two expert guests and to host who knew enough to ask a couple good questions to keep the conversation going. at the end of it people knew a lot more about the topic and they could decide where they wanted to come down on it. compare that to what see wh e screaming today and no department of an issue and you have two minutes or something to make a point and then they move on to something else. it's cheap and it. sometimes i believe cable-television has destroyed american politics. everyone plays -- that is what happened to crossfire which, i think -- you know, i was only there six years and the show lasted 19 years with those other people getting a lot of the credit but scene and decided to talk about it in the book that they wanted a different kind of show. pat is gone, i'm gone and the
total format of the show has changed and move it to george washington university in front of the studio audience and it became a gong show. >> host: before we were getting close to the anime times i want to get in front of final thing and that is looking back over the lastr years of arguing is there a big issue on which you have changed your view? >> guest: that's a very good question. you know, there are issues that i talk about when i was raised a catholic and i was really taught that homosexuality is totally permitted and wrong, morally wrong and i don't believe that anymore. i was taught that abortion was under no circumstances ever to be condoned or permitted and i don't believe that anymore.
but those are a long time ago. >> host: since you became a progressive would you say there's any progress of you that you no longer think is right. >> guest: i have to tell you none pops into my head. groucho marx said these are my principles and if you don't like them i have others. [laughter] >> host: that's a great line. >> guest: that's a good question and i wish i had a good answer for you. >> host: something to think about. >> guest: i don't want you to think i'm stuck in the mud, you know? sure there are but ty are no not -- medical marijuana pat and i uso debate that and now maybe i talked them around. >> host: one of the things you criticized obama for. >> guest: let's start with obamacare. i think it was a cello.
obamacare, for me, for my point of view it left the insurance companies in charge and left the pharmaceutical companies in charge and he had an opportunity to do which i think was the best plan medicare for all. we could debate that, right? but whatas troubling was that he took that off the table and were not even let it be part of the discussion. to my mind, if you start by taking your strongest position of the table then you will not get it. i think we ended up with a plan that did not cover everybody or as many people as should and did not do anything with prescription drugs. >> host: bill press, thank you very much. great to talk to you. >> guest: that issue i'll get back to you on that thank you, thank you so much. >> host: ice to talk to you.
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