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Chuck Todd And I Talk About Bill O’Reilly, The Future Of Cable Prime Time, And The U.K. Elections

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Meet the Press host Chuck Todd joined me this morning to talk about the big news in television –and across the Atlantic:




HH: Joined by Chuck Todd, host of Meet the Press, and no better guest for this subject. Chuck, good morning to you, thanks for joining me.

CT: Good morning, sir.

HH: Bill O’Reilly is gone. And I have been having an argument online today with our friend, Lachlan Markay at the Daily Beast, and Chris Cillizza. I have never considered Bill a conservative. I thought he was an entertainer, bombastic and loud, and there was a reason that President Obama would much rather be interviewed by Bill O’Reilly than Chuck Todd. He was never going to take you deep and focused. What do you, where do you put him on the spectrum of people who do what we do?

CT: Look, I agree with you. He was not sort of a traditional conservative. He was, to me, he gave voice, what he did, he was the tone setter. He was sort of that anti-political correctness. That was, if he had a true north, that was it, right?

HH: Yup.

CT: If there was some way he could do that story, and if he could do that every night, right, he would find a way to do some form of that every night. But what he was, was the you know, it’s like he was the opening act that brought the crowds, but he became almost more fun to watch than the concert itself, sometimes.

HH: Yeah.

CT: But he was the entertainer, probably more entertainer than any of the others, right? And anybody else in this ecosystem is, I mean, he said it in his own statement. I thought it was incredibly self-aware that he said informed and entertained. He used the word entertained.

HH: Yeah.

CT: No real journalist would use that.

HH: Yeah, yeah.

CT: Okay, and that’s fine. I admire the self-awareness at least by saying that. But, so but he set a tone, and I think so while he was never, you cannot take an issue and say Bill O’Reilly championed that issue beyond the war, the phony war on Christmas, right? That was like a fun, that was an entertainment thing for him. But you couldn’t say championed one issue or one cause or thing like that. But what was thought, what would the conservative media ecosystem be without him?

HH: Well, he brought people to Fox. He built the mall, right? He built the mall, and the mall has Sean Hannity in it, who like me is a partisan.

CT: Yeah.

HH: But he was an anchor store in a mall, but he was not selling conservative goods. That’s what I’ve always said. I’ve got to ask you about, though, the other thing. And I’m, I don’t, allegations are allegations. There are a lot of them about it. I just point out I’ve been doing this since ’89. I’ve never had one allegation against me. And last time I was on your set, I’m sitting next to Tom Brokaw, who’s been doing this a lot longer than that, and there’s never been one allegation against him. You know, it is a business in which it’s possible to be professional and a gentleman without ever attracting these kinds of charges.

CT: It is. And the fact of the matter is, look, here’s my understanding of what happened. The board of directors at 21st Century Fox said this is just bad for business. And I, the culture is bad for business.

HH: Yeah.

CT: Obviously, advertisers are speaking. What are you doing? You’re paying all this money. And look, you cannot help but connect O’Reilly to Ailes and say there had to be a culture of look the other way if the guy approving settlements was also accused. So you know, it really underscores this idea that this stuff happens when you create a culture of tolerance for it.

HH: Yeah, workplace dynamic matters. I will say this as an NBC guy now, if they put Tucker Carlson in there, and they give Dana that hour, that’s stiff winds for us, because they’re both serious people and they’re smart. And that’s what we have to…

CT: You know, I don’t want to get into the lineup. I have, let’s just say there’s a lot of people who have a lot of theories about, I will say this. I think there has never been more, if you enjoy watching the cable news prime time game, I would just say this. There’s never been more jump balls.

HH: Exactly.

CT: The big guy, the big guy on the block looks more vulnerable than ever. Golden State, they look like, you know, it’s like Golden State without Kevin Durant. It looks pretty beatable.

HH: Wait a minute. You’re talking about the Cavaliers without LeBron, Chuck.

CT: Oh, sorry. That’s right. I’m sorry.

HH: (laughing)

CT: (laughing)

HH: Okay, let’s go to the…

CT: I don’t know, I may start, it’s like the Wizards without John Wall, brother. (laughing)

HH: Oh, you’re hopeful. You’re hopeful. Let’s go to the big election news. I love elections, and God has given Chuck Todd and Hugh Hewitt a British election in eight weeks.

CT: Ugh.

HH: And I am amazed by the number of Labourites who aren’t running. And Theresa May could win a hundred seats. This can’t go that well for her, right? There’s got a to be a trap door between now and June 8th for Theresa May to fall though.

CT: It’s funny you say that. I was thinking the same thing, because on paper, this is, first of all, look. We knew she was going to have to do something soon. Anybody that assumes a prime ministership in the U.K. usually wants to have that, find a moment to have essentially their promotion certified by the public, right? So you want to have, that just gives you more. And look, all the reasoning for it, I think, are there. I’m with you. I, now it looks like it’s clear sailing.

HH: Yeah, and that’s just dangerous.

CT: But you’re right.

HH: That’s always…

CT: I have a feeling in a month, you and I are going to go hey, you know what are these other parties that we haven’t been paying attention to are suddenly surging in the polls. Like that wouldn’t shock me given, look at what’s happening in France. Every week, there’s a new challenger to Le Pen for the run off spot.

HH: Yeah, now I’ve got to ask you as a news guy and arguing with producers, I believe the American public has an appetite for a Great Britain general election. I think they had an appetite for Brexit that American news producers were slow to warm to, but that the American news consumer is very aware of the world right now. What do you think about that, Chuck Todd?

CT: I’m with you, especially Europe. I think there’s a connectivity there of, look, the Turkey news got a lot of, I agree with you. I think there’s just a little extra attention that people are paying particularly, I think, to, frankly, it reminds me of the Cold War days when…

HH: Yup.

CT: …people did pay more attention to what was happening in Europe, because there was a sense of the Soviet Union. And so it’s funny, it’s never translated to Asian politics. Like today, you know what the big story today should be if we were talking about global politics? You know the Vice President announced today that President Trump is going to go to the Philippines for the Southeast Asia Conference.

HH: What? I didn’t know that.

CT: Yeah, it just happened. So basically, President Trump’s going to meet with Duterte, you know, who’s essentially a strongman dictator in the Philippines.

HH: Yeah, he makes Erdogan look like a liberal Democrat. He’s…

CT: It’s sort of like he is going? Like it was, like look, you had the reaction I had. But my point is the public, we have not connected with sort of Asian politics in the way I think the American public knows or at least thinks it knows something about the European system, and will follow that somewhat more closely than we do Asian politics, even though both are right now, you could argue, just as impactful on our national security future.

HH: You bet. And President Trump….

CT: And that connectivity, that one point…

HH: Yeah, his going to…

CT: We are closer to France than we are the Philippines.

HH: But in California with the large Filipino, I cannot wait to read the L.A. Times this morning, because that will have an impact.

CT: Yes.

HH: Let me, I’ve never played booker for Chuck Todd before, but the one guy I know who I admire a lot who I know you know is David Miliband. Isn’t Labour screwed by not having David Miliband? He’s such a complete individual, and he’s in New York running the refugee thing. But if Corbin goes down, don’t you think David Miliband ends up back in England running Labour?

CT: You know, I do, but I’ll tell you, I’ve talked to him about it. Others have talked to him about it. He really seems very hesitant. I think you’re right. I think it’s all Jeremy Corbin-related. I think there’s a whole bunch of people in the Labour Party who are thinking oh, geez, I don’t want to, Corbin needs to be rejected by the voters before I challenge him. Does that, so I do think you’re right that once Corbin proves that he can’t beat her, that proves that he would lead the party to one of its worst defeats, if that is what happens. And you know, let’s not assume anything on that. But if that is what happens, then I think yes, then probably Miliband gets talked into it. But I agree with you. I think he’s their best, he’s their best face for the future at this point.

HH: Absolutely. And who is your guests this week? I’ve been spending all my time with Jonathan Allen and Amie Parnes on their book, Shattered.

CT: Hugh…

HH: So I haven’t looked up. Who’s on Meet the Press this weekend?

CT: Yeah, so it’s a good time. I think hit me Thursday morning works. We’re still finalizing things here, but we will have a new NBC/Wall Street Journal poll coming out Sunday morning. And I should have my guests locked up by the end of the day.

HH: You know, we’ve going to get close to 100…

CT: It’s only the morning, brother.

HH: Does 100 days fall on a Sunday, or is it before or after?

CT: 100 days, I believe, falls on a Saturday.

HH: Oh, very good. So you do the 101st day. Terrific.

CT: Yeah, we’ll do the 101st day, exactly.

HH: Chuck Todd, always great to talk to you. If it’s Sunday, it’s Meet the Press. Don’t miss Chuck as he gathers up the news of the week on Thursday. I never get his guests, though. That’s what’s very sad about that.

End of interview.


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