tv QA Major Garrett CSPAN September 23, 2018 11:00pm-12:02am EDT
author major garrett, talking about his book on the donald trump presidency. after that, a town hall meeting virginia. the debate for candidates running for the texas senate seat is also coming after that. ♪ this week on q&a, cbs news chief white house correspondent major mr.rett discusses his book, " wild ride, the thrills, chills, screams and occasional blackouts of an extraordinary president."
reporter: major garrett, your book "mr. trump's wild ride." you say this, this book is not primarily about trump's lies, rancor, lies or flamboyance. why? major: because that is a fairly well covered aspect of the trump presidency. brian, i learned during the campaign that one of the biggest challenges come i mention this in the book about donald trump come as a political force, as a reality, american politics, is every day there are 10-12 or more really interesting things. but there are also three or four really important things. as i worked every day covering this white house, and as i work for 60 months covering the campaign, the biggest challenge, what is it? focusing on the important and not relentlessly being distracted by the interesting. donald trump generates tremendous amount of interesting things. intentionally, sometimes. unintentionally other times p of . so the book is about what happened in the year and a half first on the trump presidency, that we are going to as a country be living with the 10,looking back on, possibly 20 years from now. if not turning points, differences that last. as opposed to things that are somewhat transient and headline
-grabbing, of which there are many where donald trump is concerned. brian: you open your book with fantastic -- with major. fantastic. what is that about? major: the first two words donald trump ever spoke to me. i never engaged with him before he became a presidential candidate. didn't consider him seriously. as anything in american life, except an oddity. apprentice," "the never paid any attention to his flirtation with running for the presidency early in his life. we were in michigan, the first rally of donald trump that i was assigned to cover for cbs, sitting in the first row to the left in a press conference before the rally. trump walks in, looks around, takes one or two questions, sees me, and says, major, fantastic. what he meant by that was, hey,
there is a network correspondent on the front row at this press conference. this was in early august, 2015. what did he say to himself? that must mean i'm getting somewhere. because until then, a network correspondent that he knew and had somef and that memory about, was not covering his campaign. he considered himself personally, if not a breakout moment, a moment that he wanted to savor. brian: how did you set this book up? major: in that opening, the prologue, i described my first interaction with donald trump. all the things that were obvious that he was not intentionally telling me, but if i had been wiser and martyr, i would have paid closer attention to. so i take myself to task. that is why it is called, "what i should've learned." i think anyone who cover the trump campaign, who covers the trump white house, who does not approach the american public and say, i have had to learn a few things, i missed a few things. i was not as smart as i thought i was. if you don't say that, if you don't acknowledge that, you will
have an instant credibility problem, because most of the coverage of the trump phenomenon was, if not skeptical, sort of, this has no chance of happening. guess what? it did. those of us who were along that ride have got to take stock. of what we could have thought more clearly, been more sensitive to, been more aware of. in the moment. so i started the book by saying, i missed a few things. that acknowledge ran up front. so you can have a sense that i don't come to you as a reader, as this all-knowing, all seeing, because i wasn't all-knowing and all seeing. because i think that is too static, but through the most important events as i saw them, of the first year and half of the trump presidency.
some of those are foreign policies, some of those are domestic policy, some of them are successes, some of them are failures, but in totality, they give you a feel and explanation of what happened. not what did not happen. what did happen. brian: you started as a guest with us many years ago. 27 years ago on the washington , we did not call it the washington journal, i don't think -- anyway, here you are in 1991, just so that people can see what is happened to you in 27 years. [laughter] major: i think one of the things this country will recognize and in the whole thomas debate is that black conservatives do exist. i think one of the small hurdles in the way that our country approaches the issue of race is to get over the hurdle of describing somebody is a black conservative or a black liberal. washington times at the time. brian: you were with
thewashington times at the time. major: yes. brian: in the history of journalism -- major: i still have a -- have an affinity of green ties, apparently. [laughter] brian: in the history of media, rather than peter baker, are you the on the 2 made it out of the washington times to dig media? major: others did. lori kelman worked at the washington. she worked for the associated press. lorraine waller is a reporter in town washington. she was on the business desk. others did. peter baker and i are probably the two best-known. peter baker was on the metro desk at the time. a sensational reporter. but there are others, and what we were very young, very aggressive, we were looking for a place to work in washington that would give us a place to do that work and move on if we could, and we all have. brian: nobody cares about this much today, but back in those days, as you know, everybody moonie paper." major: yes, they did.
brian: were you ever labeled that and did you -- when you are inside that paper, did the reverend moon have an impact on the content? major: not at all. other than to finance it without the money, the paper would not have existed. other than that, putting the money behind the newspaper, i never felt any editorial interference at all. to the contrary. the people who ran the paper were given what i consider to be free reign. the idea of the moonie paper, but unification church paper, that anybody who works there, there was something wrong with them because he took that job -- peter baker proved that wrong, i proved that wrong, laura kelman proved that wrong. other journalists proved it wrong. -- all were looking for that we were looking for young, , aggressive, eager journalists in washington, was a place to find a home. we did. i don't think any of us said, this will be the only job we ever have in washington. it was a springboard. and an effective brian: what one. year did you leave there and where did you go? major: 1997 i left after serving for more than a year and a half as the deputy national editor. in charge of all political coverage in 1986, of the
presidential campaign. i went on leave, to write my second book. where ifch a threshold i stayed in washington, i would go into senior management, and having been an editor and line editor, not being out in the field for more than a year, i learned that it was not what i loved to do in journalism, but i loved to be where the story was happening, and to bring it back. i went to write my second book. landed at "u.s. news." was a senior congressional correspondent for two years. frank brought me into the interesting world of television. i have been there since. brian: what is your best memory of cnn that had an impact on you? major: it is not my best memory, but it is by far my most indelible memory. being in sarasota, florida with george w. bush the morning of 9/11. brian: what is your memory of that experience? major: it has every aspect of the tragedy, horror, and disbelief that every american felt. on that morning, and i have described this in other
interviews and speeches, every day except that day, there is a pyramid of information atop which the american president sits. a vast array of information collected by the cia, national security agency, fbi. that pyramid of information sons sends all sorts of information to the president about what is happening, threats, everything else. that morning, that pyramid fell like this. the amount of information that the president of the united states had to act upon was not altogether that much higher than any other american had. in those first frightful hours after everything happened. i know that because the senior officials who were with the president there did not know what was next, did not know what they were most afraid of, what to be most afraid of, and how to begin a reaction process. so that pyramid of information,
collapse,hours, almost flattened and then gradually, it had to be built back up and the president had to be in charge of studying the nation and then come at leading the nation. without a doubt, my biggest and most unforgettable take away of that day. brian: what did you do next? major: we were there for three days, couldn't get out. brian: i mean with your job. major: i was there since 2004. -- until april of 2002. brian: what did you leave, and where did you go? major: cnn decided to do without me. that is what we call in the industry, being fired, or not for cause. they just wanted to move on. it happens in television. there is an old expression that you are not really a television reporter until you have been fired. brian: they tell you why? major: they said we are moving on. totally within their prerogatives. we had a very equitable settlement, because he knew that they had no cause, and had to make it equitable to avoid friction, let us say.
and they did. then i went to fox, and i was there for eight years. brian: what was that like? major: i worked for bret hume. a tremendous leader. a great journalist. i had a lot of fun. i covered two democratic presidential campaigns, that was a great ride. i covered the hillary clinton-barack obama campaign of 2007-2008. which brian, i thought at the time, would be the most fascinating presidential campaign i would ever have the chance to cover. then came 2016. brian: why did you leave fox? actually, before we do that, what was your biggest memory from your experience at fox? fox gets on a amount of criticism from what they call the "mainstream media in this town." is it deserved and why did you leave and what do you remember about your experience? major: when i was there, 2002-2010, i worked alongside a lot of people who put together what the marketing team called "fair and balanced journalism." i just called it journalism. tell both sides of the story,
and get out of the way. that is what bret hume would ask everybody to do during the signature broadcast. tell the story and get out of the way and the audience will appreciate it. those who cover will appreciate it. they will not say it publicly, but they will appreciate it. at her know if i have a really particular indelible memory at fox brian: any difference for . brian: any difference foryou fox from cnn? major: no. i did what i did. when i came in, everyone knew and saw my work as a journalist, and knew i would get the story. knew that i knew how to get the story, and left me alone. i never, ever dealt with anything other than the normal, creative conversations, any any lively engaged and curious newsroom goes through. that is because of the standard established by britt hume. brian: one of the places you can find in norman's criticism of the mainstream media is on talk radio.
this is only 30 seconds, we put together a montage of the kind of things that are being said on talk radio. first is chris plant, a stepson of bill plante who used to be at cbs, -- >> dear friend and colleague of mine. brian: then, there is a rush limbaugh and sean hannity. this is what they say almost every day about what you do at cbs. >> the democratic boot lick , fluff or, dummy wrapped news media, they are bidding for them. >> the media is praying to the unstable. they are playing to the in firm. they are playing to the loosely -coagulated and afraid. >> these people really need help. they have no, let's say, they don't want to adhere to truth anymore. that is a sad thing. brian: what do you say? major: first of all, i hear that in the heard that during the campaign, when i met trump supporters at more than trump 75 rallies. i have given speeches on this.
i say that whenever introduced, there is a nice introduction, but really, where you should know, is major garrett. i am a semi-well-known member of an industry with record low popularity and approval and declining market share. and everyone laughs. because i'm being self-deprecating, but i am also making a this industry has to point. reconcile itself to those two facts. and this was long before donald trump came along. credibility, as defined by democrats, republicans, and for the last decade, before 2016, was on a study dissent. study among republicans, but still study among independents -- but still study among independents and self identified democrats. what was happening simultaneously? market share was decreasing. i asked out loud repeatedly come , was that a coincidence or a cause? i think our industry has took him to terms with that. are we approaching every story
with the same level of curiosity in both directions, and rendering that story that our audience can were believe is credible and believable and bankable? not necessarily true to them, but true and defensively true, overtime. and when you see evidence like i just described, i think you have to ask about question more profoundly, more deeply and more persistently. i understand some of that is a trope. some of that is criticism , because taking down the mainstream media creates a those whoentive for are competing with the mainstream media, and we are all competing for audience, for ears is eyeballs, so some of that purposes, forting our critics. but, if it had no basis, it .ouldn't work, and it does work and we have to ask ourselves, why? one of the things i tried to do in the book is explain and show people what actually happened in
the first year and a half of the trump presidency. there is, i think, in the entire 326 pages of the book, one blind quote. everything else is attributed. everything else happened in full public view. i give assessments of what happened behind the scenes. but this is something that you can literally, in my opinion, humbly, take to the bank and believe, because it happened, and i am describing it as it happened. brian: here you are may 3, 2018, in a news conference room briefing in the press room at the white house with sarah sanders. >> have you been advised not to wade into this, to protect her yourself from any potential legal exposure, by giving either false information or information that proves later not to be and a to be understood in court? always: no, but i would
advise against giving false information. >> jonathan's question earlier, when you say before that you give the best information you had at the time, and it turns out not to be correct -- brian: explain to those of us who watch it from afar, what is going on in that room? is she telling the truth every day? and why is there such an antagonistic attitude in the room against her? a good question, one of that the white house internally thinks about all the time, probably more than those of us who sit in those rows think about, and maybe more than trump supporters might imagine. they are sensitive to it. why it is this antagonistic place,ere in the first and white as it persist? some of that, quite obviously, has to do with the rhetoric the president has turned toward the news media, that is part of the psychology of this interaction. when the president says that rallies as he repeatedly does,
we are fakes, we are disgusting, we are dishonest, where liars, we do all of this intentionally, and audience turns and screams and brays at us. that has a psychological effect. no human being is immune from that. i dealt with it during the campaign. i have dealt with its at rally -- i have dealt with it at rallies since donald trump was elected president. does sarah huckabee sanders always tell the truth? i will only quote her. there have been several times in the briefing where she said, i gave the best information i had at the time. which speaks to a process question inside the white house , which i think, is different than other white house is i have covered, which is -- the best information i have at the time may be limited, and everyone knows it is limited, but they're momento with it for the and see if they have to back away from it. but they will test that proposition. sometimes it has worked out, sometimes it hasn't. the dynamic in that room is, and
this has always been true for every presidential daily briefing i have done, they have a message that they are trying to drive. we have a set of questions that either tries to eliminate that that message, or knock them off that message to get at a deeper truth, whether legislation, or things that are in development behind the scenes, but they are not ready to talk about. all of that is part of the attention of that room that always exists. one of the reasons it is more tense now is that the briefings are far more infrequent than they used to be. and they are shorter. so the pressure builds in the room to get questions asked and answered. when you don't have lots of briefings, and the ones you do have are short, 19, 20, 21, maybe 22 minutes, there is more desire to get in there and "scrap," if you will. then there is some showmanship that goes on. i have never been one to orient myself in that direction. other reporters have no , no criticism, it is their
style, just not mine. but fundamentally, if there is a white house reporter, the most -- if as aart of you white house reporter, the most important part of your day is a briefing, you are not doing it the best way. most of the best information about any white house is developed outside, then you bring it in. then you require them to ask and answer when you have developed outside of that briefing. brian: just a couple small questions about doing your job every day. how many people are with you at cbs, from cbs, with you come at at the white house? major: i have at least two ws every day, a videographer and sound person. anywhere from three or four producers who come in and out of the booth where we work on any given day. then there are lots of people back in the bureau that are part of the newsgathering and development of the story for the evening news or the cbs this morning. brian: when you go out and stand in front of the camera live on the evening news show, is your report written, or do you read
it off a teleprompter? major: it is written by me and i never use a teleprompter. you do that? major: i memorize it. brian: you memorize it? major: most of it is track. prerecorded. my voice is laid down over the picture. we do that around 5:00, 5:30 a rushed0 if it is day. there are maybe 15 seconds of me at the end. there is something out the top and all of that i commit to memory and i present. i don't like to read off a teleprompter. there is something unnatural and artificial about that. that is why i will never be an anchor. [laughter] brian: how many different presidents have you covered? major: four. i covered george h.w. bush when i arrived here in washington in a january of 1990, from the vantage point of congress, but i never covered george h.w. bush presidency from the building , meaning inside the white house gates. i think i flew on one flight for george h.w. bush because they had no one else in the newsroom and they put me on the plane. that presidency, i covered from
the distance of congress, which means i got to do cool things like state of the union. i will never forget my first state of the union address. being in the house chamber. looking down at the rostrum, seeing everyone there. it was one of those moments in my life where i said, this is what always dreamed about, i always hoped it would have a chance to do this. now i it was unforgettable. am. brian: george w. bush. major: bill clinton, barack obama and donald trump. all up close, every day. brian: i want to ask you something. i have never seen an article written about this and i have been around town for a long time. i have noticed this seems to be a change with donald trump administration. this is a former anchor for cbs. let's watch scott pelley back on february 16, 2017. i want you to explain this. >> today, we learned the length of the president's views. 28 days. after four weeks of being blocked by courts, challenged by congress, and held to account by
the public, president trump called a hasty news conference and went on offense, with of the the familiar tools that built his career. bluster, bravado, exaggeration and a few lose facts. brian: i don't remember anchors doing what they are doing today liessaying, "the president ." scarpelli was the emperor there for some time, and all of a sudden, he disappeared. he went on to 60 minutes and we never saw him again. what happened? major: there was a change. quite obviously. brian: why? major: the network decided that they wanted a different anchor. networks are allowed to do that , networks possess that power, and the results since then, speak for themselves. about, an anchor
intro that is so forward leaning and heavy on adjectives to in thee, feels different trunk era, sounds different in the trunk era and strikes many supporters as if not over the top -- feels different in the trump era, sounds different in the trump era, and strikes many trump supporters as, if not over the top, aggressive in a way that they, like you, never heard before. what is that about? one of the things i talk about in the book is trump himself likes to pick fights. and likes to do things that rattle the norms. rattle the norms of expectations, rattle the norms of what we think about, and we have commonly associated with the american presidency. as i point out in the book, donald trump is unique in many ways. among the ways he is unique, he is the first person elected president who never served in the military, never led armies to successful battle, or served in previously elected office.
what i say about that is it is telling us as a country , something new about what our expectations are for who should be in the oval office. that is changing before our very eyes. donald trump is a representation of that change. and the way he is perceived, because he is a disruptor and because he is so different in the office and does not do things the way previous presidents have, there is an edge.
there is uneducated edge to the presentation. there is an edge to the evaluation. that seeps in. brian: is that ordered by the producers of these programs? major: i can say for everything that scott pelley said, scott pelley wrote. brian: did get scott pelley in trouble? major: i don't think so. brian: you didn't get removed because he was angry about donald trump? major: i don't think so. brian: if you watched it every night, he did it every night. anchors across the board are stunned every night. they are shocked. you sit and watch it and you go, whatever happened to journalism? major: taking the question at its full measure and full weight, i get that question a lot. the first thing i say is i am one person. i wonder those with a long track record. you can read everything i've ever written. brian: why do you think this is happening? major: because i think, and even those close to the president who like him and admire him, knew appreciatebout him, this one level and know another level, he provokes outsized emotional reactions. he does. that is one of the things that his strength and his weakness. one of the tension points within the campaign and with of the presidency is how to best channel this thing that donald
trump evokes within people. on the positive side, for people who admire and respect and adore donald trump, it is at almost a level of adoration. it is almost feverish. they know it and they love it. for those who can't abide donald trump, there is something so visceral about their reaction. they don't even know how to cope with it. this is a reality that is going on and playing on in our american politics. it is not just about partisanship. i think it transcends party. i describe donald trump in the book as proto-partisan. he is bigger than partisanship. because there is this emotional dynamo that he spins within people. he does it intentionally, sometimes he doesn't even know that he is doing it, but it happens. and it is influencing every
aspect of american life culture, , economics, politics, and in ways you have detected, the way journalists interact with this ongoing story. brian: so, you were in the obama white house, you have been in the trump white house. people that like donald trump think that president obama was given a pass by the media. major: they do. brian: you know these people up close. do you know anyone in the media, mainstream, if that is what you want to call it, that likes donald trump? and do you know anyone from anybody in the white house but -- that liked barack obama? major: let me answer it this way. i like them both. in a general, generic sense. brian: but you know what i'm talking about. you know the chatter about -- once the cameras go off, or people stop and say, i can't stand this man, versus, i really like this guy, i'm happy he is president.
major: so, you're going to think that this is a dodge, and it will accept that as a criticism. one of the things i have done in my career -- i've worked in places that are, let us say, different. i worked at the washington times, fox, cnn, cbs, i've written cover stories that is a is a freelance journalist for the weekly standard and mother jones. i might be the only person who can say that, by the way. what is the common denominator? welcome other checks both cleared, that is one, denominator. [laughter] major: i worked in lots of different places and bumped into of veryt in newsrooms different constructs and characters. operated theways same in every place i have ever .orked as a result, i don't spend a lot of time engaging with my colleagues about who they like and who they don't like. a) because i'm not interested in it. and b) i don't think it is what our job should be about at any level.
if you were to ask me, major, how many people in the press corps love donald trump, i would say, there is probably a very small amount. probably. have i polled them? no. will i ever? never. would they have set about barack obama? major: they would have said over time, that he is -- he is unwilling to accept legitimate criticism, he thinks he is way smarter than everyone else is, he is a historic figure and i more than ie him dislike him, in a general sense. let us show some video of you on july 15, 2015 in a news conference in the east room with a barack obama. >> as you know there are four americans in iran. three held up on trumped up charges. one whereabouts unknown. can you tell the country, sir,
why you are content with all of the fanfare around to leave the conscience of this nation and the strength of this nation unaccounted for in relation to these four americans? fmr. president obama: i've got to give you credit, major, for how you craft those questions. the notion that i'm content as i celebrate with american citizens languishing in iranian jails? major... let's nonsense. and you should know better. i have met with the families of the folks. nobody is content. it like?at was major: i knew it was coming. as soon as i stopped talking, i could see president obama's reaction in his eyes. i interviewed him six times during the campaign when i worked for fox.
i would suggest that he appreciated not only the audience that i spoke to, but me, in the locker room of fox. softere exception of a cleared white house war on fox in 2009, in the obama administration, we had a solid, professional relationship it wasn't the first time at a press conference he said, " i got to hand it to you major the way you craft the questions." did he think i was lawyery stop ping him and preventing them from questioning? i take pride in the way i put my questions together. i knew he was going to come at me. that's what i put it in the book . don't do anything with your face don't look away. don't shift in your chair. just take it. you've asked the question. he has the opportunity to come to you -- come at you with everything he has got.
and i had a very strong sense that he was going to, which he did on his terms. other presidents have the more boisterous, but that is about as loud as barack obama gets. but that is a great question. well constructed, and it touched a nerve. and he knew it, i knew it, the audience knew it, and as i write in the book, from that point forward, in ways he had not before, when he spoke of the iran nuclear deal, which was the underlying subject of the entire press conference, he mentioned m by name, the four americans. there was a shift in his appraisal and willingness to place the rhetorical weight of his presidency behind those name and through intermediaries of all for families, some directly, i heard words of appreciation. brian: do the obama white house, after you after that? major: no. that after i walked into the
office. i'm not spoiling any confidence. i walked in, i said, our regard? he said, all good. it's all business. ask. answer. that is the way this works. you ask a tough question. you get a tough response. and guess what, the american people get to evaluated and that is the way it is supposed to happen. brian: one of the chapters in the book is about jeff sessions. here's some video from january the 10th, 2017. you can explain it once we look at it. it is former senator al franken .uestioning jeff sessions >> if there is any evidence that anyone affiliated with the trump campaign communicated with the russian government in the course of this campaign, what will you o? notenator franken, i am aware of any of those activities. i have been called a surrogate of the campaign at a time or
two, i did not have any medication with the russians and i am unable to comment on it. very well. >> without divulging sensitive information -- bbrian: what's the importance of that in the book? isor garrett: the importance twofold. i had no communications. that turned out to be something that became disputed in the jeff sessions as a senator and as a surrogate, had had communications. there was a separate report about how important they were, , what they actually led to or did not lead to, but on that basis -- i did not have any communications -- that was not a defensible assertion by jeff sessions. that answer and the dispute over ethicsed him to consult attorneys within the justice department, which led him to recuse himself from all matters
related to the ongoing russian investigation. the second part of it that is important is, and i learned this as a reported on the book -- that question was based on a breaking news story that had come from cnn. senator franken mentions that, jeff sessions takes on the question and sort of goes in directions that are defensive and not responsive to what senator franken actually asked. i pointed out in the book, and i know that there are people who were counseling jeff sessions at the time and look back on it and wince at the way it was handled. said, if there's evidence, i will give it to the relevant authorities and you have my word on that. and of answer. but he diverged and went off into these other areas. of thes in the first day confirmation hearing process, i believe, and at the time, many of those closest to then-senator sessions, the designee for attorney general, thought it was going great and they let their guard down. they thought they got through
most of the toughest questions and they were feeling good about where they were, a set of looking over -- not over in another direction, but looking ahead to the next day or two and anticipating that this was going smoothly. this question sort of came out of nowhere. they weren't sure it mattered. they didn't catch the import of it until somewhat later. that happens in politics. everyone thinks everything is so mechanized and so structured. frequently it is. but there are real moments where things are missed. an answer is given that is not foundation really defensible and then things start spinning. and the things that spun out of are if not central, deeply embedded in the story of the jeff sessions and this administration. seeing al franken, who had to resign from the senate because there was the pressure on him from his female colleagues, because of allegations of sexual --
major garrett: some admitted misbehavior his part, yet. brian: i have to ask you what it is like working on cbs when your ceo ran out and possibility will pick up $120 million before it is all over and charlie roast rose, one of the biggest names in the business, was fired. what is it like in your own organization, having to deal with this? major: it is difficult. people you know, respect and admire. i knew and interacted with charlie rose all the time. from my perch in washington. i would occasionally go up to new york. i saw him on the set. i walked off the set. honored enough, once, to be a substitute host on his pbs show, one of the great thrills of my life area because charlie rose had this place in our industry. --les moonves has a place in our industry as an
accomplished television executive. they have the other aspects of their lives. what happened to me and i think matter to everybody, is that reckoning now goes all the way. .he elevator used to stop as i have said in many speeches, after the supreme court decisions in the late 1990's that told companies -- and doesn't matter if you know, you have to take a proactive effort to communicate to your employees or the standards are, and do everything you can before anything happens to discourage this kind of behavior, hostile work environment, sexual harassment, the like. that all happened through all ranks.except the top now, it is happening at the top ranks across america. brian: what is the impact on the industry of all these people that you know well, i'm sure, you can go down the list of all the people that have been run out, including matt lauer and
others, what is the impact on the way that the public looks at the media? major: that is a bigger question than i can answer, what the public thinks about the media. i think the public is observing this the way we are all observing it. the media is not the only place this is occurring, it is a conspicuous and highly visible place where this reckoning is occurring, but it is a occurring in other aspects of american life as well, as it should. the effect of it is, to say, these standards apply universally. when they apply at the very highest echelon, that reinforces that they apply everywhere else, and my point earlier was, it had been a plank everywhere else for a long time, but not appear, which created a perception gap about how serious organizations really were about these standards.
communication is absolutely clear. standards are real. they apply universally. that's the kind of workplace we need to achieve. we're all better for that. brian: i want to reach from page 171 in the book. this is another aspect between trump and the russia investigation. time and again it was in the best and again, the explanation was incompetence or animation. in my experience around trump and his team, and competence was an acceptable explanation for absolutely nothing. everything trump does is great. his team is great. his people are the greatest. achievement everywhere. and yet, numerous russian-related revelations have been chalked up to ineptitude. major: that is the established record. when they explain or seek to explain what questions arise from the russia investigation, when you get to the specifics, not to -- there was no collusion -- but to the specifics, either people don't remember, or they blunder, they made a mistake.
and sometimes it is characterized as an innocent mistake, but it is still in mistake. and i find it fascinating and worth noting in this book, to be clear, it is not about russia or the russia investigation. even very clearly, i don't know what the bottom of that is.stigation i have people have told me, oh my gosh, this person will be indicted tomorrow and you need to get on that, but it never happens, it all just drifts away. i don't know the bottom line of robert mueller's investigation is or isn't going to be. most people don't. those that pretend they do, should stop pretending. i don't know. what i do know is, amnesia or incompetence has been the most reliable seller upon which trump -- reliable pillar upon which trump people and trump officials have leaned against when dealing with some of the un fax or revelations that of come along as a story has progressed. brian: you continue to write in there the trump world also suffered a plague of amnesia on one topic and one topic only,
russia. trump forget. pence forget. clint forget. kushner forget. eric trump forgot, kt mcfarland forgot, spicer forgot, sanders forgot, everybody forgot, how is it that russia and only russia and effective top trump personnel with amnesia, how could all those people forget? major: that is a public explanation for what is happened that is presented to them in a later sequence of events. i remember this did not happen, blanket denials, oh, well this happened -- how do you explain this happening and you say that it did not happen? how much has that led to people saying that the president and his administration are lying again? major: i think one of the reasons the story continues and has this -- if there is smoke,
there must be fire aspect to it, is because situations have to be situations have to be denials had to be recanted. acknowledged, that weren't originally acknowledged. or recontextturized. aha.le say, you said this thing then, now you have to say this thing now. what's going on? that's one of the things that keeps the russia story part of the conversation. i recounted in the book, that there was a blanket denial from the campaign during the transition, which meant that it was no longer from the campaign but from the presidential transition -- no foreign contacts of any kind. i didn't make them say that. no reporter made them say that. they said that. well you know and i know, and everyone in the world knows, that isn't true. there were contacts. because, if we acknowledge one, we have to
explain, we don't want to explain -- they said it. it is part of the record. it is part of the record that didn't withstand scrutiny. that's happened more than once. and this explanation or the subsequent explanation either in incompetence or ineptitude, seems to be visited upon one story and one story only, russia , and not others. brian:: you talk about movies in the book. why? major garrett: i love movies. i am a huge movie fan. i am not as well-versed as movie critics, i don't even fancy myself an aspiring movie critic, but i do love movies. i love books. movies talk to america. and part of the cultural resonance, what we carry with us, i think, is informed as a broad society, as a mass society, but movies. i was, to be me as honest, taking breaks from writing the books, watching lots of movies just to clear my head
and move in a different direction, just to take a break -- because i wrote this book while i was doing my day job, something i would not recommend and will never do again -- i came across movies that struck me as sounding as if they were representing something or a set of fears from another era that people view them that now might feel or coming to life in some way. 1957, andy griffith, "a face in the crowd." let us watch an excerpt. >> this whole country is just .ike my flock of sheep rednecks, crackers, hillbillies, everybody has got to jump when somebody else blows the whistle. [laughing] they don't know it yet. they are all going to be fight es -- fighters for voters. they are mine. i own them. they think like i do. only they are even more stupid than i am. so i've got to think for them. show less text 00:46:46 good point. --
good point. major garrett: good movie. great scene. the point of that part of the movie is andy griffith's character, lonesome rhodes has become a star for spinning on television the wisdom of the common american person. he describes there the people that love him most. there is an aspect of the people who love him most as portrayed in that movie that i came across at trump rallies. people who have to answer when somebody blows the whistle someone who is in a position where they are working two or three jobs and can't get ahead and feel frustrated and are looking for someone who has, if not the answer, a set of answers that are different than what they have been hearing before. and the point of that movie is, this can be misleading, it can be possibly manipulative. in that aspect where lonesome
rhodes, andy griffith character says, "i have to think for them," was part of a warning signal that the writer of the point in time was saying hey, the afraid of someone who thinks he or she has all the answers. be skeptical of someone who may approach of that way in any walk of life. that is not something that is on, or not attached to politics in general, but i read in the book, those people who had those fears back then might look at the trump phenomenon and say, i have feeling those same fears now. i don't say that they are the same and i don't compare donald trump to lonesome rhodes. but i say that those writers were talking about something that they were fearful of and those fears, to those who think exactly the way those writers did might feel to them now as if they are coming to life. brian: in your book, you quote a lot of people you have met around the country and trump supporters? major: yes, for a precise reason. i wanted the book to not just
reflect my experience here in washington, but the people that i have met and people that as a practical matter, every month, through cbs news, that my dear ,olleague reynolds talks to month by month of the trump and gets their take on what is going on presidency. weaving them in was important to me to get their voice if not a balancer or leveler in the assessment. brian: you have a character -- jimmy in your book. i wonder how much of this has to do with the way that you see some folks out there that follow either donald trump or anybody. he paused for a moment and looked as if he was going to walk away, but decided to add "i like who het, picked for vice president, mr. pence," you ask why. i like what he did in arkansas
." you say, indiana. , arkansas,diana wherever it was, i mean, he turned it around." often do you help people who have no idea about what's going on? major garrett: that's not what i say in the book. no idea what's going on. they lack what i would regard as a precise understanding of person, place, and thing. what matters to them. this is where i really try and yes, this is an advertisement for the book, full on. i try to humble myself about what the truth might mean to them, because the truth and the way it mattered to them, guess what, mattered in the country, because of the truth as it mattered to them, and led to the election of donald trump as president. and the truth that matters to them is -- is it impression is take? yes. is it specific in key respects?
no. is it but it doesn't make it any less -- but it doesn't make it any less vital or less motivational to them. i would have conversations with trump supporters about facts or times or things, and it would say yeah, yeah, yeah. yeah, yeah, yeah. i'm interested in a larger truth , he speaks larger truths. he speaks about big things and tendencies and trajectories. and that is what i care about. ok? i am not in a position, nor yourd i ever be, to say sense of things, impressionistic or otherwise, is invalid. it is valid to them. and them acting on it made it valid for the whole country. brian: 40 seconds from another movie. tell us how this fits in. in may." s burt lancaster and frederick march -- >> i am prepared to brand you for what you are, general. with a napoleonic complex.
i am a weakhink person, general, but when it comes to the oval office, defending the constitution of the united states -- >> somebody has to teach you about the democratic processes that flag represents -- >> somebody should take over your jobs, mr. president. this treaty with the russians is a violation of any concept of security. you have a weak system, president -- >> the as -- you are a weak assistant. brian: what is the topic of that movie? major garrett: the topic of the movie is a disagreement between the pentagon and the sitting president over the nuclear treaty. there are those that believe in the pentagon it is hurtful for this in the country to go through. the clash between civilian leadership and military leadership. the military wants to be more aggressive and believes the president is dangerously placing
the united states in a weakened position. one of the constructs of the movie is, what is weakness, what is strength? frederick march later as the president in the movie, talks about a disease of helplessness caused that the nuclear age. people feel they can't make things happen, they feel powerless and frustrated in their inadequacy. ,nd as i say in the book nuclear age was the phrase then, we might call it age of terrorism now, we might call it age of globalization, where people feel a sense of powerlessness, a sense of frustration. a sense that the system that they believe in, and have believed in his either incapable of addressing their needs, or no longer oriented toward addressing their needs. theme i came across a through trump supporters at all the israelis i want to that
either the system didn't work, or didn't even bother to think about working as a base thought it ought to work, or they wanted it to be appearing to work on their behalf, and that is the disconnect that donald trump jumped right in the middle of. and that every capable politician even as newly minted one as of donald trump was, learned how to navigate. brian: january 18, 2018. your podcast, the "take out -- take out podcast." i have a bunch of questions such as, what is the president's lawyer talking to you in a podcast? here in the january time was ty cobb and your podcast. major: is it from your vantage point right now, ty cobb, a certainly that the president will have a q&a with the special counsel, robert mueller? >> that's my belief. major garrett: when do you
believe it will reach the conclusion? >> there's no reason not to conclude soon. major garrett: what's soon? >> soon would be in the next four to six weeks. brian: he's gone. john is gone. john dowd is gone, there is no interview, so why would ty cobb talk to you? major garrett: interesting question. i didn't know the answer at the time. i took what is sometimes described in our industry as a flier. hey, ty, would you ever consider doing my show? sure, wendy want to do it? >> what? minute.a are you serious? sure. i will do it. what i didn't know was -- i learned later, and i talk about in the book, ty was trying to move the president toward an interview with mueller in late january. they had a date selected, january 27th. and the point of him appearing on my show, not a sit down interview or in network thing,
kind of interesting, kind of part of the network sphere, not exactly, kind of an oddball place, was to lay the predicate for the president, you can do this. we can work it out. let us do it sooner rather than later. also a signal to robert mueller, because in that interview, ty cobb says, i have respect for robert mueller, i think he is a formidable but fair prosecutor. the president shouldn't worry , meaningerjury trap that someone of robert mueller's knowledge and legal skills and character it would never lay a surgery trap for the president -- sending signals in all sorts of different directions. that show generates global head lines. this is the first time my podcast popped up and got significant notice. and that began the unraveling. because john dowd as related to buy ty cobb in the book, reacted quite negatively to that
appearance. he is becoming more fearful about the president sitting down with robert mueller. as i point out in the book, think about where this story would be now if, in fact, the president had an interview with mueller in late january before so many other revelations and other things had come to pass. brian: before you go, the university of missouri journalism? major garrett: yes sir. and political science. two degrees in four years, i was an active time. brian: where did you meet your wife? major garrett: that is a two-part question. [laughing] i met my first wife in las vegas , nevada. he was a reporter at kles, the cbs affiliate. i was a reporter at a las vegas review journal. i met my current wife here in washington. she was the professor of political science at villanova. she's now the director of management in george washington. -- the grudges goal of political management in george washington. brian: what year did you marry her? major garrett: 2016, right before the primaries ended.
we stuck while we could. -- it was not a good idea but we struck while we could. brian: you have three kids? major garrett: yes. 22, 23, and 18. guest has been white house correspondent for cbs news, major garrett. thank you very much. major garrett: thank you. >> for free transcripts or to give us your comments about this program, visit us at q&a.org. q&a programs are also available at c-span podcasts. ♪
next week on q&a, jeffrey engel, director of southern methodist university center for presidential history on his book about president george herbert walker bush and the end of the cold war titled, "when the world seemed new." that is next sunday at 8 p.m. eastern and pacific on c-span. c-span's washington journal, live every day with news and you.y issues that impact coming up monday morning, we will bring you the latest news on brett kavanaugh, supreme court nomination with congressional correspondent lissa muska. then, christopher dodd and rick santorum talk about their work on the bipartisan policy center's task force on paid family leave. they sure to watch washington journal live at 7:00 eastern monday morning. joined the discussion.
>> professor christine blasey ford has agreed to testify before the senate judiciary committee about her sexual assault allegation against supreme court nominee brett kavanaugh on thursday. we have live coverage beginning thursday at 10:00 a.m. eastern and-span three, c-span.org the c-span radio app. >> what does it mean to be american? that's this year's studentcam competition question, and we are asking middle school and high school students to answer it by producing a short documentary about a constitutional right, national characteristic or historic event, and explain how it defines the american experience. we are awarding $100,000 in total cash prizes, including a grand prize of $5,000. this year's deadline is january 20, 2019. for more information, go to our website, studentcam.org.
the british parliament was in recess this week. prime minister's questions will not be seen tonight. now, virginia democratic senator tim kaine and republican challenger corey stewart take part in the first of two town hall events hosted by liberty university and hampton university. the topic of this townhall was domestic policy and the economy. this runs just under one hour. c-span is your primary source for campaign 2018. >> good evening and welcome to tonight's u.s. senate town hall between the democrat, senator tim kaine and his republican challenger, corey stewart. brought to you by the center for law and government at liberty university and hampton university's center for public policy. events like tonight's are extremely important as we head into a crucial midterm election. tonight's