tv Tavis Smiley PBS March 22, 2017 6:00am-6:31am PDT
good evening from los angeles. i'm tavis smiley. during last year's presidential campaign, donald trump was bashed on the right for not being a true conservative. many hard core old school republicans publicly dingsed themselves from the controversial candidate. donald trump, of course, won the election and now some of those never trumpers are searching for new ways to define and characterize conservatism. one of those persons is glenn beck often a few years ago was considered too far right even for fox news. in recent years, beck has experience ad transformation of sorts and he will tell us tonight how he thinks we can work together in fact to unite the country. we're glad you joined us for a rare conversation with glenn beck in just a moment.
political conservative commentator glenn beck believes that the divisive language and hate mongering he preached on his radio paved the way for the instability and sbolt rance that we see today. he joins us tonight. good to have you on. >> thank you. >> good to have you on. is it fair to say that you have been on an apology tour and if so, what do you apologizing for in. >> i guess, i mean, we jokingly call at this time apology tour because it's been going on now for almost three years. and i guess what i was attempting to do, what i am attempting to do is to show people that if it is reasonable and rational to look back on the things that you have done, and especially with the light of day now and say, was that right?
did that help? did that hurt? did that move us forward or backward? while it was never my intent in some ways, my dialogue moved half of the country in the wrong direction. and moved us away from each other. what i was hoping was that i would see others on the right and the left that would be self-reflective enough to say what role did i play in this? did i do anything? was i really listening to the other side? so far, tavis, i haven't found anybody. that concerns me. >> i'll come back to that in a second. let me ask in follow-up, to those who see what you are attempting to do, to your credit, you've been at it for a few years now. this is not a story that just happened with the election of donald trump. you were a never trumper before
he got elected. to those who see it as a ruse of glenn beck's way of building his new network. how do you respond to that critique? >> you're smart enough. you've been in the business long enough. can you figure out a business plan where they works? i mean, i wish i was some evil jean just but i'm not. i don't find a business plan where you take on the people who brought you to the dance and say, you know, i think really we are misguided on the way we handle some of the things, at least the way i've handled them. take that on and stand against the guy who is, you know, the great savior now, apparently. and at the same time try to reach out to a group of people who despise you? if that works, that will be a
miracle ask an unforeseen miracle. >> i'll come back to why you can't find any compatriots at the level that you operate on the left. let me ask first about the parishioners, if i can put it that way. are you converting anybody in your audience? >> i think so, tavis. i've taken, i don't know if you've had a chance to listen or watch or read any of the things that i've printed in the last two years. >> i have. i have. >> i'm not preaching to the choir by any imagination. my audience size has not grown which is typical in talk radio but it has not diminished. that's pretty remarkable in and of itself. i believe my audience has gone with me on this journey. it has been a long time coming. it's not now, what was it?
four years ago. we put the first sold out spoken word performance at the, at the dallas cowboy stadium in dallas and it was called restoring love. we have to change our tone. we have to serve each other and approach life in a different way. >> pardon the pun, glenn, but what's love got to do with it? >> everything. it is why i believe i can strongly empathize with those on the left right now. i can see the pain, the suffering and the fear. and it is what i went through. and half the nation went through under barack obama. now it's the left's turn. and even some people like me,
i'll very concerned as well. unless you ca see yourself in other people, you can't have any empathy. and if you don't love other people, you won't have any empathy either. i think that's what we're missing here. we're not hearing each other. we're not listening to each other. and more often than not, we're not seeing each other for who we really are. we're neighbors. we're all neighbors. we're in this together. >> let me ask you, what it was genesis of this damascus road experience that you've had? >> it has could that in several different ways. when i was at fox, when i was at cnn, i went from the fourth most admired man in the world, in between nelson mandela and the pope. that shows you how screwed up the american people are. and a year later, i was one of
the most hated people, i was on the cover of time as a madman. and the story was wrong at both times. i am not the man between nelson mandela and the pope and i'm not the most despised man in america. but you can't have that turn praund fast and not ask yourself, wait a minute, wait a minute. who am i? a lot of people are saying this about me. is that who i am? what is causing them to say that? that takes a toll. it is one of the things concerns me about our president. he doesn't seem to have moments of reflection. in fact, he said at one point in an interview that he didn't like to reflect. he didn't like time to think because he regrets too much. that maybe is something that he
should do more often. it is something that all of us should do more often. >> what have you learned about the notion of introspection? >> oh, that silence strool golden. that anything said in haste is usually a mistake. that when you take time to really listen and assume the best of someone, not assume the worst of someone, your entire count nance and your entire view of the situation may just change. >> i agree with you and i try to live my life as such. no matter who i'm dealing with, i try to find and try to look at
the best in that person. i believe we can see fellow citizens in that way, it might make the world a better place to live in. which raises the question for me. when there's so much of donald trump and so much to dislike, so much to disdain, so much, how do you look for the good in that guy and have you seen any good in that guy? >> i would like to answer this way. i'm not looking to wooashingtono find good. it is rarer than gold is uranium. it is not commonly found there. so i am looking for the good in the average person. that's who is being misled. we're all caring about things,
we're all caring about things shouldn't have a place in our life at all. >> let's assume for a moment that you're right about the fact washington is a cesspool and finding good is more rare than uranium and gold. what does that say about it that we are the ones who set the person there? they didn't get imagimagically. what does it say about us? >> one, we have foolishly bought into the lie that if it's not our side, the other side is the devil is that will go to hell. it has been a carefully crafted game between these two parties which i think are almost identical in many ways. that's why nothing ever gets done. also it says we want the excuse for ourselves. when i see people excuse
behavior that is so far beneath public officeful are they that excuse because it makes it easier for them to behave that way? >> back to the point i promised i would make earlier. your ability to find someone on the left to join out this apology tour. i'm hearing rumors about you and samantha b, that you may hit the road together. to the question specifically, maybe it is the case that you can't find glenn beck on the left because there wasn't a glenn beck on the left. maybe there's nobody on the mole left that feels need to apologize because they didn't go as far as you did oh that same period of time. your thoughts on both of those points.
>> that may be true. if everybody feels, let me ask you this, tavis. if glenn beck dropped dead tomorrow, or dropped dead in 2010, hit by a bus, would our country be saved today? >> the answer is no. and i pray that you don't get hit by a bus any time soon, brother. >> so the question is, i know at least in my family, we all play a role in wherever we're getting. big or small, we all play a role. i'm not just asking the people in politics and media. i'm wondering how many of us have taken stock and said, i may have played a role in that. because for instance, let me reverse things so you can understand. anybody who is on the left. right now, there are people on
the left who are really, really frightened about donald trump. and there are a ton of people on the right who think that's ridiculous. i don't happen to be one of them but they think it is ridiculous. and i have said to them so many times. please don't mock. please don't dismiss them. their feelings are valid and real. you may not see it that way but that's how they really feel. why don't you reach out to them and say, i understand how you feel. i don't happen to feel this way about this guy. but this is way i felt. and i felt dismissed and ridiculed and mocked for it. i don't want to be that person. how can i reach out and make you feel better? what can we do to come together? let's talk. because you might have some things that you're concerned about that i might be able to
say, no, have you looked at it this way? you might have some things you're concerned about that you can say, hey, have you looked at it this way? maybe i haven't. what happened eight years ago is half the country was freaked out of their mind, and the press ask the left just dismissed them and treated them like they were unamerican, racist, or anti-government people. they were none of those things. some of they will probably were but some on the 11 were crazy, too. why is it, why is it so unreasonable when we now both have the experience of being freaked out by a president to say, gosh, you know what? maybe we have given the president and washington too much power. because nobody, donald trump should not be able to make so
many people afraid that all of a sudden we could have, i don't know, internment car. s for muslims or whatever people are concerned about. this is a problem. no president should have that much power. >> do you want to address the rumor that you and samantha b will hit the road together sometime soon? >> i can only hope. i'm trying to go with samantha. samantha has been really kind and gracious. she sat down in my studio to do an interview and it was starting off to be the typical interview. and she was really trying to be a decent human being. and i said, samantha, this will be a comedy interview where you're making fun of me and your audience laughs. she said, so what do you want to talk about? how about we talk about what we really care about? so we started talking about the things that really motivate us. and one of the things we agree
on is slavery. there are more slaves today by far than there ever were in the western slave trade. all the hundreds of yeyears combined. and yet we dismiss it. and i started an organization called o.u.r. rescue. operation underground railroad. where we rescue kids that have been kidnapped, kids that have been sold into slavery, all over the world. and we're going to uganda here soon and this is a particularly scary and frightening look at slavery. where these kids are used as slaves and then they're sacrificed to a mountain god. and we are going to try to build some shelters and build some rehabilitation centers for the slaves that are currently being held captive. >> i applaud you on that work. it is high quality work and i'm
glad you're doing it. it is a legitimate issue. we've talked about it before. let me go back to the comment you made a moment ago about how that interview with samantha b started. i'm not raising this question to cast dispersion on her. how complicit, how much of a problem are those of us in the media, not the just glenn beck but the media at large. i asked because you had to stop smanth and say if we don't get to a place and have an earnest and conversation, i'll going to take shots at you, you're going to take shots at me. i will be the typical interview, to use your phrase. so how much is we're not being as real as we ought to be. we're choosing sides. that we have axes to grind. pick your metaphor. how much are we the problem? >> i think we all are. in our own ways. some bigger than others. but i think that it is not
necessarily always that we have our own axe to grind. some do but it is not always that. in some ways, i don't know how to do my job any other way. i don't know how, you know, samantha b. if you're samantha b. how do you do that job another way? it is comedy. but it is left comedy so mocking and ridiculing the right. do you do it just by balancing? do you pull back? how do you do it? it is what i wrestled with for a long time. if i didn't have, what? 260 employees, i would have been up in the mountains a long time ago. the last four or five years, i have really struggled with how do i do my job and keep people employed? how do i walk this line and move
to a place to where i'm not throwing big buckets of raw meat out to a crowd. and in one way or another, we all do that. in some ways, your audience expects what you are and what you believe and you have your own style of raw meat. i don't mean to put you in that category. but everybody does. what is it that we are, what is it we're doing and how do you change? it is difficult. it takes an awful lot of courage. especially for someone like samantha b. >> i hope you didn't ask that question rhetorically. even if you did, i want to satisfy the a stab at answering it. >> i love your language. >> i think the answer is that we must always be in search of truth. it seems to me that life at
large, especially in the media business. it seems our job ought to be seeking the truth, speaking the truth, standing on the truth and staying with the truth. if you do that to an empowerment platform but you still seeing the truth, then i'm okay with it. if you do it through an entertainment platform and you're still seeking the truth, i'm okay with it. if you can speak it in empowering ways and still not demonize people. yes or no. >> yes, you can. but that's not necessarily what everybody is doing on both sides. look at what's happening to us. and so i believe you can do it. is it being done for the most part? no. is it being done like the simpsons do? if you're going to pound one side, found others just as hard within the same else? it is very rare. it is why the simpsons is as good as it is. but it also takes humility,
tavis. i think, you know, that one of the things that with the best intentions, and not really trying to soul check and really not seeing it. when i was at fox, i just really felt no, no, no, i'm right on this. and it takes a great deal of humility. one of the phrases that really changed my life came from thomas jefferson. and it is the mantra of my life. i read this a few years ago in a letter that he wrote to his nephew, peter carr. and he was talking about how to educate yourself on everything. and he got the last one which was religion. it applies to i believe every topic. when it comes to religion, above all thin, fix reason firmly in her seat and question with boldness even the very existence
of god. for if there be a god, he must surely rather on this questioning over blind folded fear. that changed everything for me. and honest questioning is some of the hardest to find. go look. go watch the news. go watch any of the cable shows. and there were very few asking hogs questions. they're asking the questions that they know the other person has the response to. and then they have somebody to answer that. we're not searching for truth. >> i agree. what i was trying to intimate earlier, i believe there is the truth and the way to the truth. to your point, we have to be honorable enough that none of us has a monopoly on the truth and all of us are on the way to it. you can't demonize them. i have a minute to go with you. let me close by asking "time" magazine, as you mentioned earlier, put you on the cover as
madman. donald trump has called you a whack job. what do you think of what the president thinks of you? >> well, it is pretty amazing. when you start to center yourself the way you should be. because he obviously thinks of me more than i think of him. i don't think of him very often anymore. i am trying to have he perspective on what really matters. >> do you have any regrets about the journey that you're on now. >> that i'm on now? >> yeah. >> not today. but check back with me in about three years. i'm sure i'll have tons of them. >> in three years, i don't want to see a u-turn again. >> i hope i am on the right path. emtrying to be quiet enough and listen to other points of view. >> that's the answer always. generous listening, charitable
listening. and you've been kind enough to listen to my questions as i listen to your answers. that's our show tonight. good night from los angeles. thank you for watching and assaas a always, keep the faithful. >> for more information on today's show, go to tavis smiley.org. >> join me next time for conversation with sister simone campbell.
good evening from los angeles. i'm tavis smiley, and our fast-paced, almost relentless news cycle we have over the last few days heard a lot about health care, a new immigration order, and an unbelievable bugging accusation and a budget that puts struggling americans on the edge, hurting some of the voters who made trump's election possible in the first place. it's another week of controversy and whirlwind activity from the trump administration, and so, tonight, "new york" magazine's andrew sullivan is here to talk about all that and then some. andrew sullivan, coming up in just a moment. ♪