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Face The Nation’s John Dickerson On How The Media’s Weighted Coverage Of Trump and Clinton’s Personal Challenges

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The audio:


The transcript:

HH: Joined now by John Dickerson, host of CBS’ Face the Nation. Hello, John, how are you?

JD: Hello, Hugh, how are you doing? I’m all right.

HH: One of your best guests is the estimable Peggy Noonan. Today, she writes, “It’s the big fact of American life now that we are patronized by our inferiors.” It’s an amazing column. In fact, if you take her column and Kimberley Strassel’s column today, they could have a new Pulitzer category called condensed bestness, because these columns are so good. What do you make of her statement that we are being patronized?

JD: Well, who’s doing the patronizing? I haven’t read Peggy this morning, I’m afraid.

HH: Everybody.

JD: Everybody.

HH: Mostly the Clintonites, mostly, it’s about the Catholic exchange between the Clinton supporters as to the intellectual sophistication or neo-sophistication of Catholics. They don’t want to be mocked, so they’re Catholic as opposed to Evangelical, etc.

JD: Yeah, yeah. I think, well, you know, you’re in pretty safe ground if you think that the elites are patronizing you both in politics, and there’s the overt patronizing of the sort of ‘you’re not smart enough’, ‘you’re voting against your self-interest’ and that kind of thing. And then there’s the patronizing of not telling you anything. In other words, thinking that you’re too dumb to handle the specifics of anything and just kind of making broad boasts, I think that’s patronizing, too. And so yeah, I would sign up with that. I think it’s a little, I don’t know how much she leans on that one particular email exchange. I think there’s been some overwrought interpretation of that, but in the general notion, I’d sign up for that.

HH: You know, as a Mass-attending Catholic, John, I was deeply offended by that, and I think of my young friends at Thomas Aquinas College who are Thomistic scholars who actually read the Summa in Latin every first Friday of the month. And I just thought it was so damned stupid of them to be condescending to people who are so much their intellectual superiors. That’s what Peggy is talking about. More importantly, Kim Strassel today, this one is harsh. The press buries Hillary Clinton’s sins, and it talks about the relative amount of coverage devoted to the important story of Trump and women, and the Billy Bush tape and all the other allegations, not denying that that’s newsworthy. But all this other stuff is barely touched on, from Uranium One right through the latest batch of Podesta emails. Do you agree with that assessment about the relative in-the-baggedness of mainstream media?

JD: Well, one other thing. As another Mass-attending Catholic, I think you know, Catholics, and they were on that email exchange, have long had not reading their Matthew 7, judgmental feelings about other Catholics. And that’s something we’ve…

HH: (laughing) That’s true.

JD: We’ve had that in our faith for a long time, and liberal Catholics, obviously, have, you know, uncharitable things to say about conservative Catholics and vice versa. So I think that’s why I say it’s a little much, some of the analysis, not yours, but others. Anyway, on the balance, you know, all I can do is answer for myself. Last Sunday, we talked to Rudy Giuliani for about six and a half minutes, and we talked to Robbie Mook for about six and a half minutes. Almost all of the conversation with Robbie Mook was either about the Wikileaks disclosures or about whether if you’re going to make character claims about Donald Trump, whether in a voter trying to make an assessment about Donald Trump’s character based on his predatory comments about women, whether in your thinking it wasn’t perfectly reasonable to talk about or think about what Bill Clinton did while he was in the Oval Office. So I can only answer for ourselves. More broadly, you know, there’s, I think there’s been a lot of coverage of both. I think you can’t deny, though, that there’s been more coverage of the videotape comments of Donald Trump talking about assaulting women against their consent because it’s actual videotape. But there’s, I’ve read a lot about Wikileaks, and certainly, I seem to be getting different links to different, you know, emails within that Wikileak dump every ten seconds. So I guess maybe I’m a little, it’s hard for me to judge the entire sweep of the media landscape.

HH: The one story that resonates with me the most is because I’ve gotten emails from former Assistant United States Attorneys and FBI agents who are active is that Comey took a dive, and that there is a genuine revolt and disgust within the Bureau and the DOJ. And this is covered in the Strassel column, and it’s not covered. There’s been one Fox News story about this. John Dickerson, have you heard this, because it’s actually widespread among people who have been prosecutors that he took a dive.

JD: You know, I mean, I’ve read accounts of that, but I haven’t, I don’t have any first-hand reporting. I’ve been kind of buried in the presidential here. So I haven’t, but I mean, I’ve certainly seen that, as you say, on Fox and elsewhere, and that was the accusation even before there was any reporting. So I don’t know. I definitely…

HH: Yeah, I never believed it until I saw the reporting from inside of it. I want to close with this. Donald Trump is out saying the election is rigged. I don’t believe that. But I do believe the media is rigged, and not knowingly, not in a conspiracy fashion, just that I believe that 95% of those people who we would credential as elite media will vote for Hillary, and that their coverage is impacted that way. Do you think I’m high on my estimate, John Dickerson?

JD: I think you’re a little high on your estimate. I think when we’re all, when this is all said and done, and we all sit down and have a conversation about this race, I think you know, it’s hard to pull apart what is the news media’s affection for just new information, new stuff that’s happening, and then also the challenge between when you’re judging two candidates who are, you know, who have trust issues, which isn’t to say that they’re equivalent, because there are things that, there’s a different weight that you give things that are done in office by Hillary Clinton, but there’s the more tonnage of fact checking issues that Donald Trump has had. And how do you cover that and give the right weight to each? There’s no doubt that we’ve, you know, we’ve had some serious challenges in this race. But I think your estimate is high on who would vote for both.

HH: I won’t press you until next week on what your number is, but who’s your lead guest, John, before I let you go? Who’s your lead guest on Sunday?

JD: Well, Hugh, we don’t, we’re still putting the show together, so, but we are going to spend some time looking at not only the Wikileaks, but also what we know and don’t know about what the Russians, how involved they are and what that means for the larger cyberwar question.

HH: Be sure to watch, America, Face the Nation on Sunday. John Dickerson, always a pleasure.

End of interview.


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