On today’s episode of The Daily Signal Podcast, Brent Bozell and Tim Graham of the Media Research Center discuss their new book, “Unmasked: Big Media’s War Against Trump.” It is no secret that some of America’s most notable media personalities dislike President Donald Trump. Bozell and Graham have the research to prove it and break down why it’s so bad. They also reveal who tops the list and how the American people can find other sources of trustworthy news. The full audio is below, along with a lightly edited transcript.
Rob Bluey: Brent Bozell and Tim Graham are the authors of the new book “Unmasked: Big Media’s War Against Trump.” You can find an excerpt from “Unmasked” on The Daily Signal. Brent and Tim, why don’t we begin by telling our listeners why you decided to write this book?
Brent Bozell: Well, because the publishers paid us some money. … No, I’ll take it first, let Tim comment on it. Our first reaction was—I think it’s fair to say, Tim—that we weren’t that enthusiastic, because we said, “Everybody knows what’s in there.”
But we decided to take a look at it, and Tim went off to study the research that had been compiled. He came back and we discussed it, and there was a there, there.
You think you know everything, but you put it all together, and the narrative becomes very different.
Tim Graham: It’s just the whole idea that everyone knows it’s negative. They don’t know just how tremendously negative it is.
I think for us, it was the whole notion of the media always tells us that Trump is eroding all of our political norms. They have thrown every media norm out the window for this president.
Bluey: I have some personal experience having worked at the Media Research Center at CNSNews.com—I’ll get to that in a little bit—but one of the things that we appreciate is the fact that you back up the work with research, as you referenced, Brent. Since you founded the Media Research Center, and Tim, in your time there, you go through in detail what exactly people are saying. You’re quoting them directly, and that’s one of the advantages that you bring to the table in this kind of critique of the media.
Bozell: There are two kinds of analyses on Trump. There’s the quantitative and the qualitative.
The quantitative is what you see every month in the studies that Rich Noyes comes out with. That’s a function of exhaustive research into every single network news story to determine the numbers where you see the 89%, the 92%, the 91%.
These numbers are astronomic and astonishing because they don’t end. No matter what success this president registers, it’s just going to be that kind of negative.
That’s the quantitative. The qualitative is in the analysis of just how negative it is. This was Tim’s point.
When you look at the examples of that hostility, it’s unlike anything any president has undergone before. It astonishes even us to see the level of betrayal and the personal animus directed not just at him, but at anyone around him who dares do things like be related to them.
Graham: The degree of negativity where they use phrases like, “Trump’s rallies are swallowed by fear, anger, and misinformation.” “Donald Trump spoke off the cuff and took his campaign off the rail.” It is just intense. It really sounds like a horror movie commercial.
Virginia Allen: Brent, you opened the book with a great story about meeting then-Mr. Trump at his New York City office in Trump Tower in early 2015, before he’d even announced his campaign. You discussed how surprised you were by the man that you met. Can you talk a little bit about that for a moment and about how that meeting really influenced your view of Trump?
Bozell: Sure. I think my perception was similar to most people’s perception of him.
I went to have lunch with him at his invitation to discuss the race. He knew I had endorsed [Sen. Ted] Cruz, but he wanted to know what my views were on the idea of him running.
Unlike everyone else who says, “I knew he was going to win. I knew he was going to win,” I told him he couldn’t win. So I’m being very honest there.
But here’s what I found. I was prepared, as I write in the book, I was prepared not to like the man. I had the perception of him as loud, gregarious, bombastic, self-centered, arrogant, aloof. All those things put together, to me, spelled J-E-R-K. But then you visit with the fella and I was just stunned.
It was the exact opposite. He was soft-spoken. He was courteous. He was genuinely inquisitive. He was laser-focused in his questions, listening to his guests intently, pushing back where he felt necessary, taking in what he needed to take in. A true gentleman.
I tell you something else that I noticed that, to me, was very telling. We went down that escalator, you know that famous Trump Tower escalator from whence he declared his candidacy?
You would expect that the vicissitudes of celebrity would be such that we would be dining in his private dining room or some fancy restaurant.
Instead, he went right to Trump diner, whatever that restaurant is at the bottom, and along the way stopped to to meet with staff, the people at the kiosk, the security guards, and whatnot.
He wanted to talk to them. I made note of that. So the man that I spent an hour with was completely different from the man you see in public, and I was really taken by it.
Bluey: Brent, it’s interesting that you share that story. Virginia and I have interviewed other journalists and they describe Trump in the same way. Yet, the coverage reflects something entirely different. It makes you wonder why. He’s somebody who’s had a compelling life story. He grew up in Queens. He became an entrepreneur, then a Hollywood star, ultimately president of the United States. He wasn’t always despised by the media. Then something changed.
Why do you believe the media turned on him the way that they did?
Bozell: I’ll take one crack and then let Tim give his thoughts on it. I see it as a confluence of three different things.
One was that he declared war on the Obama legacy. He ran directly with the proposition that, “If elected, I’m going to dismantle what this guy did.”
The media saw that as a threat to all they believed in, and they felt that Hillary [Clinton], with all of her awards, was going to solidify that fundamental transformation that Obama had promised, especially if she got eight years.
That was one. No. 2, the fact that they … created this monster. He was a celebrity from “The Apprentice.” They gave him unlimited coverage during the campaign, but it was ridiculing him and it was dismissing him.
I think they thought they could hang him around the neck of the Republican Party. Then it wasn’t working and it was having the exact opposite effect.
The third one, and perhaps most important one, he declared war on them. No one’s ever declared war on the media before.
You’ve had the hostility, Nixon vs. Media, Reagan vs. Media, to another degree the Bushes vs. Media. But it’s never been a situation where the Republican declared war on the media. He did.
These people are just so arrogant, they’re such elitists, they couldn’t stand it.
So you put those three things together and you’ve got the perfect storm, I think, or the greatest animus toward any political candidate, then president in the history of the Republicans.
Graham: I would just add that it’s so funny when we look at this, and we think George W. Bush, what did he do to wage war on the media?
He was photographed holding a copy of Bernie Goldberg’s book “Bias” on the lawn. That was shocking in his anti-media turn.
Republican consultants have told people for years, “Don’t pick a fight with the media.”
I think not only Trump, but other people started picking this up like in the 2012 primary. It’s like, “No, actually taking on the media is what the base likes because the media are so dramatically unfair.”
I think if Trump had been more like a Michael Bloomberg, like this moderate-to-liberal businessman, which he was, they would have been much less hostile to him.
They probably would have enjoyed the idea of him trolling all the conservatives in the race if he’d run that way. Instead, he ran an anti-immigration populist, which they could not stand.
Bozell: Trump is a master marketer and he knows that he may be unpopular, but he is the Dalai Lama compared to the news media.
They are despised by the public. So he knew he could win that fight. He also knew that the enemy of my enemies is my friend. He knew the more he attacked them, the stronger he got with his base.
It’s akin to Ronald Reagan. Same thing. With Reagan, it was he was the Teflon president. He did it in a very optimistic, positive way. You might say just the opposite way, but it was the same thing.
He also knew that in a war with the press, they declared war on him, but that was fine. He knew he was going to win.
Allen: You all have a list in the book titled “The Top 10: Who Hates Trump the Most.” Can you tell us a little bit about some of the journalists who made that list and why?
Graham: This was probably the toughest thing we had to do was, “Give us the top 10 anti-Trump journalists.” It’s like, how do you do that? That’s like opening a fire hydrant.
But yeah, obviously, we looked at each other and said, “Jim Acosta,” because he really represents to many people that whole mentality of, “I’m not here to report the news. I’m here to scream at Trump. I’m here to be a protester.” That’s really kind of the way that CNN has been.
So we kind of focused in on the cable news people, the first. Joe and Mika, Chris Cuomo, Chris Matthews, these are all people who … they’re really not in any way giving you the news of the day.
They’re coming on saying, “Donald Trump is Hitler. Donald Trump is mentally unstable. Donald Trump is going to kill us all.” That kind of tone, this is where people say, “Ultimately, it’s fake news.”
Bluey: I want to ask you gentlemen about a situation that we’ve seen develop on the U.S.-Mexico border. The crisis we find ourselves in.
For the past few months, we’ve heard from people like Jim Acosta say, “There is no sign of the national emergency that the president’s been talking about.” He says it’s “pretty tranquil down there.”
Chris Cuomo says, “Here’s a matter of fact, there is no invasion crisis at the border.” MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough said it was an “imaginary border crisis.” I could go on and on.
Do you think that things have become so bad with their treatment of Trump that they are just willing to ignore reality?
Bozell: I think they’re so blinded by hatred of this man and everything he stands for and everything he’s doing that everything he says, it becomes opposite time.
So that he said there was a crisis, and they said there was no crisis. Then you see the crisis, and they say there’s a crisis while he’s trying to calm people down.
They’ve done this on everything. No matter what he attempts to do, they fight it.
He’s been trying to do something about this crisis since he was a candidate and they’ve been dismissing it. Well, now there’s the crisis and they’re saying there’s a crisis and it’s his fault.
We just have this bizarre thing now where they’re saying, “We have a crisis that we have massive illegal immigration,” and the news media’s response is to hold debates and ask all the Democrats if they’re going to insist on open borders and making sure every illegal immigrant gets government health care.
You don’t know the story that’s missing here. Whatever happened to those caravans? Remember all the coverage about those thousands of people that were coming? It was all done in a very positive light by the media.
“This is kind of transformative! How exciting! Here they come! This is going to be wonderful!” Well, guess what? Those are the caravans.
Those are the people now who are coming into this country, who are wreaking havoc on the border, who are getting sick, who are dying, who are committing crimes. It’s mayhem down there.
The border authorities are pleading for assistance on them. The National Guard is having to be sent down. It’s an absolute calamity. This is what they said was such a wonderful thing that was going to happen. They never connected the dots.
Allen: So what is your advice to Americans who are looking for news that is credible?
Bozell: They need to listen to podcasts from The Daily Signal.
Allen: Thank you.
Bozell: I do believe that the news media’s credibility—and we write about this in the book—they set out to destroy a president and destroyed themselves instead.
Look at CNN. You will never see that as a credible network ever again. I think it has committed suicide.
Its ratings, 729,000, as we’ve written about this, you know that there are more people with pet chickens in America than view CNN? It now reaches two-tenths of 1% of the American people. It’s collapsed.
You’ll never watch MSNBC again. Look at the debate the other night and last night. Did anyone believe that NBC or MSNBC was an impartial observer? Everyone saw them for what they are. They’ve done it to themselves.
Graham: Yeah, Rich Noyes has this morning wrote up and he said, “These debates looked like … the moderators were Nancy Pelosi and Charles Schumer.” That was the sort of the tilt of the questioning.
It’s very in-house, DNC, “What do we all think?” type of debate. So I always tell people, “Get the raw data, get the C-SPAN.”
You know the problem we have, one of the things we write about in the book, is they won’t even do stats. We have unemployment now at 3.6%. It’s the lowest in 50 years. We can’t get these networks to give that 15 seconds.
In April, 3.2% growth in the first quarter. A surprise, a shock. Ten seconds on NBC [and] ABC and CBS zero. They’re not doing news now. That’s the problem, you have to hunt down the facts from people other than the so-called news networks.
Bluey: Tim, I appreciate you citing those statistics.
We love when the Media Research Center comes out with that analysis because you are actually taking the time to watch those programs and report back to your supporters and people all across the world what these news networks are actually doing.
Within the last 10 years, we have seen so many new conservative media outlets emerge, including The Daily Signal, which celebrates its fifth anniversary this year.
I had the opportunity to work for one of the first, which you, Brent, founded back in 1998. CNSNews.com is where I got my start in 2002.
It was a a great experience, put me in the center of the action on the U.S. Capitol or the Supreme Court.
I got to see firsthand what it was like to rub shoulders with some of these journalists that we’re talking about today, and just how they do go about approaching their job.
I want to ask you how conservative media have helped to change the landscape, and what role that you see them playing in the future to give Americans an alternative source of news?
Bozell: I think it’s been dramatic, and I think this is something that the media see as a direct threat to them, which is why they are so loath to give credibility to so many conservative outlets.
But a news outlet like CNS News has a simple proposition, which is that you don’t have a story unless you have two sources. That’s just Journalism 101.
Now, if you look at what is reported today by the news media, and you follow that rule, you would have a dead signal on television half the evenings because you’d have to cancel half the stories, beginning with the entire collusion narrative.
You never had two sources with evidence of collusion. You never did. Why? Because there was no collusion.
We now know there was no collusion, and yet thousands of stories were coming up about this collusion. It continues. Thousands of stories continue about collusion, even though the Mueller report has come out.
So you need other voices.
I think that the conservative news media today is akin to conservative talk radio in 1990.
When Rush [Limbaugh] burst into the scene, he filled this great void. The reason that he took off so much, besides being as eloquent as he is, is because he started telling a story where … the public said to themselves, “This is something I believe was true,” and nobody was saying it.
Now with the conservative news, what’s happening is when people read The Daily Signal, they’re saying, “This makes sense. This is something I’m not getting from CBS.” The same thing happens with a whole litany of conservative news outlets.
So to [answer] your earlier question, I would say that you have to look at other sources of information, just acknowledge what you’re getting from CBS News is not trustworthy, from The Washington Post is not trustworthy.
A lot of it will be very good. Hard, breaking news will be very good. But ultimately, you can’t trust those sources.
Graham: I would go, Rob, to one way that Rob Bluey at CNS News changed the landscape, and that is exposing the fakery of Dan Rather.
I hope you tell your young people over there the stories about how you helped take down Dan Rather for faking everything. That, I think, is one of the most important things conservative media does.
They’ve questioned the liberal media, and it can suggest to people that some of the news you’re getting is not authentic. When we can force them to actually have to retract stories and apologize for stories, that’s a big thing.
Bozell: Let’s look at you Rob, and what you did with the Dan Rather story, because it’s just Journalism 101.
Somebody had, in the middle of the night, blogged, probably in his underwear, that when the Dan Rather story about the National Guard came out, that the piece of evidence that was being shown looked like it was a computerized piece of paper, not something that was typewritten in 1971.
You saw it, and first thing in the morning, you went to, I believe it was, the top three typography experts. You asked them, and they all said on the record, “This doesn’t look real.”
You did a story, and it took off like wildfire. It became that piece which was then reported by everyone, and which made the media suddenly have to head for the hills because they knew they been had, and it cost Dan Rather his job.
This was CBS’ attempt at an October surprise, to sandbag a president and you exposed them. You weren’t on a jihad, you weren’t advancing an opinion, you didn’t have an agenda. You were simply a reporter, and that’s what reporters are supposed to do.
Bluey: Thank you for sharing that story. It was certainly a tremendous experience to work for CNSNews.com during that period of time.
You’re absolutely right. I think it’s just those basic fundamentals of reporting that reporters should get back to doing. If they did, we wouldn’t necessarily find ourselves in the situation that we do today.
So, thank you for the opportunity to relive that exciting time in my life and certainly yours. It was a great team that we had at CNSNews.com. I commend the work that you continue to do today. We certainly need more voices out there.
I absolutely concur with your conclusion and solution for what an American should do. Look at multiple outlets when you’re consuming news. That is critical, I think, to having an understanding of what’s happening in the world.
Allen: Brent and Tim, how can our listeners follow your work?
Graham: We’re at NewsBusters.org, which is our news analysis blog that’s constantly updating. We’ve talked about CNSNews.com. We have videos going up all the time at MRCTV.org. Did I leave anything out?
Bozell: Yes, there’s our book “Unmasked,” and I’ll tell you what’s important about this book.
Normally, when Tim and I do these books, these are retrospectives looking at a campaign just concluded. But this one is forward-thinking because it’s a preface for what is about to happen between now and next November, where this is going to be—and you’re already seeing it—a nonstop jihad.
They tried to prevent [Trump] from being elected. They tried to have him removed. They know they can’t remove him now, but what they can do is inflict as much a damage on him to maybe cost those two or three points that could cost him the election.
On the other hand, this campaign against him ultimately could backfire because I think that there are enough people. … You’re looking at the bleeding audiences from MSNBC and CNN.
I wonder if there aren’t that 2% to 3% of people who are moving in the opposite direction because of the media. That could [be] his margin of victory.
So ironically, either way you look at it, I think the news media will decide the election next year.
Bluey: Thank you, gentlemen. It was great to have you join us.
Bozell: Thank you so much.