Ep. 274 - Chuck Todd


And now from the university of Chicago institute of politics and CNN the axe files with your host, David Axelrod. Chuck Todd, many years ago was up and coming young reporter for the hotline the forerunner of all these Washington tip sheets to follow. Then as now he was incredibly passionate about politics and into all the arcane of campaigns, which is to say a kindred spirit. He would become a protege of one of my favorites. The late great Tim russert at NBC and later the White House correspondent for NBC. During the first couple of years of the Obama administration today, he sits in restaurants, exalted chairs, NBC's political director and host of meet the press. I sat down earlier this week with Chuck in Greensboro, North Carolina to talk about life and sports. And of course politics. Chuck, Todd, we're here in North Carolina together for an event, and instead of at Wrigley field where the playoffs where the one game playoff with Milwaukee's going honest, we tape tape this, but you can be acted right now basically not looking at you looking. Yeah. Now Wilson says up here, bottom of the sex of the man who are. Strangely, you're a kid from Miami. Yeah, who is a dodgers fan and a Green Bay and Packers fan, and I think we should start by explaining that. Okay. All right. I know I get this all the time at the head, scratches and all this stuff. What people seem to forget Miami as a four-point for four sport town now, hey, it's one of the, what are we sixteen of? I think proximity that are forced sport when I was growing up, we were a one pro sports town. We just had the dolphins. There was no basketball. There was no hockey and no baseball fact the the assumption was in baseball. Will you have spring training? Why do you need? Why do you need a franchise of Florida got overlooked for long time? So as any kid is any son who looks up to his father just stops his father's teams. My father was got moved to Miami when he was a kit from danger from waterline. Okay. For those that don't know, Waterloo sort of I always say, described as small city, big town, but you said it properly Waterloo. I always had this argument. With Barack Obama. Remember it's Waterloo Waterloo. He said, I don't know what the difference is. Not one is Abba while do. You're saying one way you're singing, Abba, you're singing, Abba. You ain't winning a vote. Try to explain that. I wish you were with me so, so he's he. So he was a Packers. He's a Packers fan. It look water, Lila, Green Bay, Wisconsin, same town. You know, in some ways and he said, grownup, Chicago was the big city and raised the way there was a chip for for a lot of Midwesterners and smaller towns. There's a chip on the shoulder by Chicago. So who was the bears big rival? Well, the working men of Green Bay Wisconsin or is that and let me give you my dodger story. So he became a dodger fan. Dad was the Yankees fan, this fifties. Let's be realistic. You're Dodger's fan or Yankees fan in America. Right? Right. Unless you grew up near Saint Louis, so you grew up, you know, grew up near Chicago, but you know, other than that and my dad met ROY Campanella is a six year old. No kidding. In a hotel. I wanna say it's the Drake hotel in Chicago, but it was in Chicago, and my grandfather encourages he loves telling this story to curbs my dad go up, you know, like every. Grown man does with their kid. They'd really liked to go meet said, superstar, just send the kid and they just stand by and let the kid do all. I remember I got call your Stransky's autograph that I didn't know who has was dad was into. Yes, you name it. Mike? Yes. Kid played Florida state baseball against university of Miami. So yes, he's to hang out and you see Miami baseball games anyway. So you met ROY. Campanella and campy had just won the MVP. So he's, they guess he was the face a Wheaties. That was you on the Wheaties box? Yeah, he wasn't. He historic? Yeah, it with the time. That's right. You know, people forget broke, Campanella, African-American catcher, MVP nationally. My dad, my grandfather tells him ask him is not. Sweeties didn't need well, you know, I can't eat weedays every dodgers lose that day. He goes up the next day. I, this is one of those to check. You know, the family lawyer is at my dad went back up to them. You need to have those weeds lately. Campy says, I should have eaten my Wheaties. So dodger fan for life. By the way, I reminded all all celebrities of whatever it is ROY Campanella did that for my sexual father was a dodger fan till his death. We watched the nineteen eighty eight World Series together on his deathbed with the dodgers. That's how much this stuff means. Max Scherzer did this for my kid about three years ago, Dodger Stadium, my son's obsessed with MAC surger to the point of, like if Mak said jump, he would say how high, sir. I'm obsessed with them to ashes against those matters. Just listen and this and that is true. And so is it true that you inherit the sports habits of your dad? You know, my dad hated the ankles. He, he liked the giants, but when they moved couldn't root for the giants. And then we became Mets fans in New York, took me to lose a lot of dodger fans are Mets fans. Yes, exactly. Exactly. You know when I have Bernie Sanders on my very first podcast, we talked about the dodgers and he said he said there were when I was growing up in Brooklyn. There were three people that we despised Hitler Stalin and Walter O'Malley, and it wasn't even in that order. I'm not telling you what the order the real blame should be Robert Moses, but anyway we can. That's another story. But tell me about your dad. You mentioned that he was on his death. You were pretty young when that at sixteen. But as I always say, I don't know any different. So I don't know. And I say this because I say this, anybody who experienced this sort of trauma, certain age, people tell you all my God, but you don't have another script of follow. So it's just that's just the way life worked for you. He had struggles along the way he did look. He was. I could go down a large rabbit holes, but I don't want my mom to accidentally listen to this podcast and look, he he, he was a good dad. He struggled with alcoholism. Took me a long time to acknowledge that he was a pretty. He was pretty pie functioning colic. And so that's why it took me time to fully embrace that in fully predate that he ended up having liver disease. It's now called hepatitis c. and know what to call it in had no cure for it. Then. Now, of course, infects every Nicey advertisement for it. And hardest thing for me right now is to know that God damn pill and he'd be fine. Yeah, back then he was on the liver transplant list, but to on stable to this is nine hundred eighty eight and it and I'm thinking one thousand nine hundred as the modern era. I'm thinking this is modern medicine, and yet here we are thirty years later up pill would have cured him literally. Have he's sitting in ICU for fifty two days. They couldn't figure it out. Beef broth soup would poison his body, and yet it's so I'll admit that it is one of these reminders. It's like the advancements mankind makes on on medicine is is unbelievable on that front. You know people, listen to this podcast know that my dad committed suicide when I was nineteen and I didn't talk about that for. You know, thirty years because I thought somehow it besmirched his memory and sure you felt the same way, but because I didn't want it to be an excuse for what? What was wrong with my father? Because I thought nice pretty. I was always impressed with them. Yeah, so well, you can be. Many things you can be. You can be struggling with depression or alcoholism and still be a good dad. You know, he was incredible reader. He was obsessed with politics. He made me. He gave me the love for it. I did the other day that one of the, I'm sure you do this. I'm sure you have conversation with your father, that conversations that I sorta. I've piled up wish I had this conversation. I wish I had this conversation will the other day I'm watching Bill Cosby, get. You know sentenced, I was thinking, man, I would love to have a conversation my father and just ask them this question, his dad, thirty years of these two men one's going to be president imprison, Bill Cosby, and Donald Trump, which is which and because my father obsessed over Cosby's parenthood books that fatherhood books that they were the funniest things would use those lessons really thought highly of Bill Cosby one of these as as did all of America. Yeah, and it. So just he was one of, you know, he was one of the many, and it's just it's just amazing. Those two gentlemen in the eighties and where they are today. I read somewhere that you had to do book report any handed you profiles in courage, and that was sort of a gateway experience for you. So you know, all my memory of just our every bookcase that we had was we didn't have not fiction. It was all nonfiction. It was all history books and all the book to this day. I assume it's normal, organize all books by presidential term. And that's how I organized by bookshelf my nonfiction bookcases is by presidential term. So I always you bet it was only add another shelf here and some going to whole warehouse pump. Right. Right. And when I was trying to figure out eighth grade and I had a teacher that that you know, he, he knew I was struggling to sort of says, all right. You'll any any says, read this book and I did I fell in love with profiles and courage, and all the story that I take away the most is the story in Andrew Johnson and. Edmund g Ross Senator from Kansas Republican who who basically sacrificed his career by becoming the deciding vote to save Johnson who was hated by the Republicans and would have, let's be realistic. It's possible that if you set, if if if he's impeached and he's thrown out of office, you set off a chain of events as polarizing as things were. It's sort of cool things down just enough that, okay, we're not going to use this process to relitigate post reconstruction. When I can read, we're not going to relitigate the civil war this way. And so it's with that when you were watching this, this was near not even close to the magnitude of that. But when flake cast is vote the other day or at used his leverage to force a pro. We don't know how serious a appropriate actually, Linda. Being, did you have any flashbacks? I did. Actually the person I was flashing back most to Wayne Morse with. 'cause that I know little bit more about that. Arrogant back late. I was loving Wayne Morse because flake reminds me a him more than any of the other folks. Here's a guy who think. Was this US Senator is a democrat is a Republican independent. Yeah, and usually switching basically over big issues in order to in order to deal with a moment in time, so, but that's what I've always. That's what sort of got me into this like this. I'll admit it's taken me. It took me a long time to not. Lionize senators took me probably a good ten years of covering. Six from the my before I realize these guys shouldn't be lionized anymore. And I'm sorry for that. You also wonder, I think the answer is yes, but I always joke that, but it's not really a joke that there's a reason profiles in courage was such a slim volume. I mean, people got in that book because it was the unusual thing to risk your careers for matters of principle. But it does feel even in the course of my lifetime and I don't know whether it's the media scrutiny, but I don't think it is that we don't have these giant figures wide. We mourn John McCain, the way we did as a country. We don't have these large figures and and we we tend to shrink our and they shrink themselves in part because the polarization is such. That's very, very hard to dissent. Also we've combined are. You know, we're we, what we do too. We love to tear celebrities now as a culture. Yeah. And then we love the comeback. Tiger Woods, right? Is there, is there anything dramatic change from from the beatdown the Tiger Woods took an American in America's culture from seven, eight, nine and ten. Oh, you know to then God, it's a comeback and we love the comeback. And so in politics, we never, we doing the same. We love to term down, but we don't love the comebacks we don't. We don't. There's no routing, and at least with celebrities are just weird. Rooting interest to see how they survive it. Yeah, in politics now it's just a pugilist stick. I think we're just an appears Listrik mindset. And I think it's just a product of the aero wherein I mean, I kind of think that this this will pass, but I think it's, I think it's a, I I, you know, we are a self-correcting. I mean, democracies are self, but democracies are challenged now ways. We haven't really seen in a long time. I mean, you go back. We talked about reconstruction. I mean, that was a brutally polarizing time, but they didn't have social media. They didn't have cable television. It wasn't in your face all the time. Yeah, you know, it's a social media every time the wreck did a statue of somebody to confederacy that would have gotten covered. Right, right. You know, it's like we're right now. We're having we have conversations about whether this should be taken down had we had a collective national conversation and in different ways they probably would have created debate for putting one up. Yeah, how much do you think people, you know, I always sort of valued living in the mid west and not in Washington when I was doing politics because there is a conversation in Washington that is different than the conversation people are having. And how much do you think that? Is that how much of a disconnect you think there is? Because you and I both you more than I. But spent time talking about all of this stuff, and we tend to focus on. You know, these, the excesses of Trump investigations, obviously everybody's covering the hell out of this cabinet uring as they should and and all the related issues. But there is this also I have a sense of people are out there kind of trying to get a get along in life and thinking about those things that are closest to them rather than focusing on this conversation, and they get frustrated that we spent so much time talking about this stuff. You know, it's funny. It's like, I think the our problem in the beltway is that we've, there's, there's been a section of the of of Washington that has cried. Crisis for twenty five years now. And I think that so look at all the folks to take the folks folks in the progressive community who look at Donald Trump as this threat to to a way of life. And then you ask them, did you know use almost identical language when George W Bush was president and are the now I would ask you, okay, you know, you look back and, and so I think that part of it is is in you look at the right and they talked about my God Bill Clinton or own my God Barack Obama. And now they're looking back and I was I was speaking off the record of the group in front of a group of CEO's just off the record conversation. I said, well, you guys are gonna miss the days of the pro business administration of Barack Obama. Laughed in in realize what I what I saying. It's like the use of apocalyptic rhetoric that we've had in our politics for good twenty years now. And you know, maybe it's the maybe cable sort of help. Amplify and social media than all of these things. I think that's what's numbed America. So I think there's some serious things. Some serious things that we talked about that were were sort of hinting at this, right? I mean, how do we deal with social media? The fact that you have. A a media organizations that are designed to just tear down institutions are not. They're not. They're not there to do something. You know, they're not there to protect the first amendment there in some ways, taking advantage of the first amendment and I in look, there's not gonna get a Fox News. I presume you look, I, there's a look. I think there's some stuff on digital is much much. What I'm referring to in this is these advent of these fake truly fake news organizations. FOX's separate story and we can. We can you know that that's that is more. I think that's more nuanced conversation as you've pointed out there. People that Chris Wilson us. Right? So I think that's different new. When I'm when I'm talking about is, is this sort of rise where people get it in their new streams? It really is these digital feats. And so this is serious stuff, but I think I think there's a sense of Washington's cried wolf for so long. That you know, they look at, we survived it. They told us we weren't gonna survive Clinton. They told us, one can survive Bush those survive. Obama told us working survive Trump. So yeah, I do think there's some people going, they're discounting it not to say they're dismissing it, but they discount the rhetoric. Probably if four saying the rhetoric at eleven, they're going. I'm at a six. Let me know when it's really eleven. This episode is brought to you by slide belts. Sly belts are high quality, perfect fitting belts that are comfortable easy to adjust and stylish. Slide belt stone have holes like old traditional belts. Instead, they use a clever patented ratchet design that adjusts precisely to you at one quarter inch increments with thirty two sizing options, and total it's way more comfortable and easier to adjust than any other belt you'll wear and you aren't limited to just six sizing options anymore. Sly belts has a wide selection of straps to choose from from full grain and top grain leathers too high high-quality canvas, and even animal friendly vegan. 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Poor woman was born generation to sin. All the great things she could with her life and society, and I wouldn't let her do it, but I'm going to set that aside music. Very big part. My father was raised with his sister was was a professional musician for time as an opera singer. So definitely was always encouraged. I was forced to have panel essence, and my dad finally said, SAMA plane instrument. I said, I'll play Trump and he said, he says, everybody's gonna play trumpet. You make good trumpet player and you're not gonna play French horn. You'll be good French horn, playing Alaska ship offers. And so I took my dad's advice and I was pretty good and he was right. He was absolutely right. I got. I had I had full scholarship offer to the Miami. I got seventy five percent of my tuition paid for GW. I had a full scholarship offer good floor state, in fact of the matters without it. I'd been in my community college, nothing wrong with that. But I'd have been another one of those kids who had the ability to be in a decent school, but just wanna minimum afford it and you, but, but you're, you're alterior motive was to go to Washington one hundred percent. I pick schools literally. I was I was applying to schools. I looked at. I remember looking at all the schools in DC GW, Maryland, AU, Georgetown, George Mason, and I looked to see. Okay, which ones had political science and music in the same school so I didn't have to. So it'd be easier to double major and is soon to get a scholarship. I had to double major, turns out I didn't, but I soon that first so I ended up limiting Georgetown most UW kids always joke at you. Ws? Oh, guys, Georgetown weightless. I always say I never applied. So I don't know because they didn't have music and. In the same thing, but w. Yeah, it was. Why went to to to GW over the still tooting your horn? You know. It's ridiculous. Gridiron club that I belong journalistic in that. In that. Let's just say what I joined. They found out you play an instrument, and I had bring out a mothballs and it's not so bad. I actually enjoy. I'm looking forward to having time again in a couple. You know, what is that gonna happen? Well, I figure once in twenty Trump should get his fourth term in twenty thirty to that point. I think I'm done. Maybe you can play the horn in the parade. Fourth inaugural parade. So you while you were in college, you worked for Tom Harkin, the Senator from Iowa doing f. e. c. compliance. How did you get that gig. I was just interested in working in. I was in DC and I thought there's a presidential campaign going on. This would be interesting. I was little short lived, but it was. I was joking the campaign in nineteen. He ran for president the ninety. He ran for president Harkin, ninety one campaign. We're going to see a lot of those next. It was just needed work. I couldn't volunteer. They were like, oh, we got volunteers. Well, I'm not. I can't. I gotta go work. I needed to work in school and all this stuff, and they said, all right, we'll pay hourly FTC compliant. So basically I was the kid entering in data entry and then taken the checks to the Bank. Yeah, Maryland. And. Outlasted everybody. That was the irony. And what's so funny is that it was, that's all I ever did. I never get to do like, I never was. You know. Now, of course, the way political conspiracies work. I think I've run the campaign by now. No, it's so there. There wasn't a lot of a motion high points to the filing, and I never so funny. I don't have any. I never saw it to be honest jaded me it actually well, yeah, I can understand that as a young kid. It's a sort of this is what campaigns are about. Yeah, forget it. That in profiles encourage then I got an internship at how this is much more interesting and for those who don't remember the hotline was really a forerunner of of of what we see. There are a lot of tip sheets and newsletters that we see today, but the hotline was really a dating before anybody knew that word mattered, right? That's what we did is all we did at hotline. I got there ninety two. It started in eighty seven, but it was the internet before there was an internet at a buddy who was on a former colleague of mine used to call up and he's trying to explain it. He says, we're clipping service with the brain. That's right. You know it was really useful. I mean, I used to shade and it was taxed, right? It was technically always electron ick. It was us in the pornographers on the bulletin board for doctors, the gamblers, the stock market people in us. You actually downloaded it now? Yes. Most most people of your stature, you know, bulletin board. You're like, what is that? So just give me a fax that was tech, right? As we could get back then most most of us at my age is what you're saying. I just set your firm, but you know you the two things that struck me about this one is it was pure nepotism that you got this this job. Yes. And know what's funny about that is the guy who, so my cousin worked there, yes, but my cousin never. Bob Balkan, but my cousin never told the Bailey that we were related and waited six months before Bailey. Who is the founder. Yeah, and and I wanna talk to you about him. I'd love to and he it was sort of after why goes to Bob who says kit then Bob's like, you know, he's my cousin. What's funny is that I actually my first contribution to the hotline was nineteen eighty nine. I was senior in high school, and there was a special election for Claude pepper seat. And it was a huge congressman from congressman or does he race? It was a rising star in the Republican party and Ileana Russell late -ment, yes, recruited to win running red hiring this year. And that's you've run the ran the entire her entire political career. It's done. It's like, that was my first baba call me at like five thirty in the morning says, hey, is there any coverage in the Miami Herald of the race? This is eighty nine. We even have fax machine in my house, you know? So anyway, that was my first little Doug Bailey for those who don't know before he did that was really one of the pioneers and political media consulting. And when I was first covering politics and then coming up as a consultant, Bailey dear door, he and John Deere door, his partner or the go-to firm for moderate Republicans of the sort that you don't see anymore. You know, I have this. Book that I've never had in my head, but I've always or TV movie I wanted to do or however you want to do it. And it's the two brightest minds in Republican politics in the nineteen seventies when it came to understanding, modern communications was Douglas l. Bailey and the other one was Rodriguez. Yeah. And they were the two biggest media firms in the seventies and literally Roger Ailes was the guy you hired if you had to go. Right and Doug Bailey was the guy you hired if you're a moderate trying to sell to sell that it was, and I've ever geniuses at one, so television and try to always find use for good the other one television to see the use for self. I'll put it that remember you, you were a kid, but the race for that elected Mitch McConnell to the Senate. He knew Roger Ailes. Did these bloodhound commercials, where's d Huddleston? That's McConnell and bloodhounds looking all a. For because he had missed some right? Miss votes. Yeah, Roger, Ailes specialty was making someone less someone else less electable. Yeah. Doug Bailey's specialty was to make you more electable and more likable. Probably the most famous race in a Senate contest, maybe in Illinois would be what he did for Chuck Percy. And Chuck Percy to this day was just actually I had flashbacks of it because the current governor of Illinois, he essentially tried the Chuck Percy approach, which is this idea, but may occur well, the may help at yes. And the first time that a candidate Sammy eight. I made a mistake. I let you down worked in it. It did work, but you know what? In eighty four hired Rodger ales Percy goes from Doug Bailey and seventy eight because the party had shifted and he thought he needed to shift to. I, I know this because I ran the campaign for Paul Simon against Percy, and that was when I first met Roger Ailes when we go shooting debates, but. But what it raises the question of this transformation, the Republican party, Doug Bailey's Republican party doesn't exist anymore. And there probably are Doug Bailey Republicans out there among voters, but there yet because of the nature of our politics today, you cannot be what Chuck Percy was, what. A whole series of Republicans Milkin Milliken and Michigan and for people understand Bailey. What's great about Doug is this was who he was his whole life. Do you know as a college graduate student toughs he helped run the writing campaign in the sixty four New Hampshire. Primary that got was either six or sixty four the New Hampshire primary where the ambassador to the Vietnam? Yes, Henry. Wins and Bailey. Doug as basically a graduate student at tufts. Ran that campaign I got to win after he passed away his, his son invited me over to go through some political stuff to see. And I had no idea and he had all these clips up to clips. And it was just the point was he realized that the time the party was going off either too far to the progressive in or two part two of the modern and too far the conservative. But he was always about sort of disruption through voters, disruption through small deed democracy and what I, that's who sort of I learned a love politics from in some ways, sort of an extension of my father, but also the fact that he never changed who he was. He was pushing for sort of this consensus based politics his whole his whole life. Now, I'm curious question back at you because it's a question and I'm gonna ask both. You and we're going to be doing that with Karl rove is. Because I saw Mark mar presented this to me, my deputy, my sort of partner and fellow at the institute politics versus Chicago. And he had been doing basically, he's been NBC longer than I have. He said, you know, you and I got raised with PLO that the the, the way you understood a successful politician was the politician that could create consensus and could sorta bridge a divide in this day and age. That's not a winner anymore. The winner is the politician that paints bright colors and inspires the most and four. And now the middle has to force is forced choosing aside. It's just a different style of politics. This is not. This is not the politics you were raised with. It was not the politics I was raised with, and I think for those of us in the establishment, the politics Karl rove is raised with right, you know. And I think all of us in our in our own walks of life you on the democratic side of the Karl on the Republican side of myself immediate, we're in the middle of this political transformation. We haven't quite figured it out. Yeah. Well, I mean there are four. Forces that are really working against the emergence of this. A re emergence of that kind of middle. I mean, redistricting being one of them and the and the sources, our system is not designed to reward. Pragmatism or centrism our system actually punishes it and you know what I think you're gonna see in this election coming up on November six is what we've seen through successions of elections, which is Republicans killing off DEM, moderate Democrats, Democrats kidding killing off my Republicans. I mean, it's, it's, it's, it's David really cyclical. Think about this six ten fourteen now eighteen four. We probably staring at four straight wave midterms right to for these in for the ours, and we have basically killed the same one hundred districts. Yeah, yeah, and but it also creates a situation where the polarity is so great that the risks of, I mean, one of the reasons why you're going to lose a bunch of Republicans. This time is the sense that they were falling. They were not. Acting as independence in this process because there is a strong feeling the Republican party that you can only go so far, but. Whether we swing back, I think is there are more there are more headwinds. I know Carla's more optimistic because it gives them a chance to talk about all the Mankin Asians of nineteenth century politics and how bad it was then. And he was right, but we didn't have the conditions than that we have now and we didn't have this rapidly moving media media environment and also changes in the economy that been, you know, technologies is driving everything in a way that it wasn't count me on Karl side a little bit. I think the beginning of the twentieth century when you look at it, yeah, and that's what area similar what we're gilded age. There's part of me that looks at the I if you look at basically the first thirty twenty five years of the of the twentieth century, there's a lot of parallels that actually should make us feel slightly more optimistic. Yeah. Yeah, I'm not look. I'm not pessimistic. I mean, I'm a big believer a book called believer. Man, I believe in. Our democracy, and I think that we have the capacity to self-correct edges. Think the headwinds are are are strong right now. And the the the the rate of change is very, very, very, very pronounced. So I want to tell you about a new podcast. I think you'll enjoy called, I love you, but I hate your politics. We all know arguments about politics can be tense and alienating, especially in this day and age. But when you can't stop arguing with so many love, you need a way to move forward on. I love you, but I hate your politics therapist. Janie safer helps guests who care about each other, but just don't see eye to eye on political issues. Dr safer has been married to her political opposite for over thirty years, and she uses her expertise to help her guess manage these difficult conversations in the first episode CNN political, commentators, Margaret Hoover and John Avalon share how Sarah Palin nearly broke up their marriage and how they were able to stick it out here, say for help guests like Margaret and John on. I love you, but I hate your politics search for love you, but I hate your politics wherever you listen to podcasts. Again, that's I love. Of you, but I hate your politics. So Doug Bailey was one of the great influences in your life. Yeah, there's another guy who came along and hired you away, and that's Tim russert hired you for MBC. Tell me about that and the decision to make the move you were in a very good position. You know, the hotline was absorbed by the national journal and and the Atlanta and the Atlantic you were you at. You've been the editor of the hotline, and you were very well thought of and connected, which is why Tim approached you? Well, it was interesting. He did and it was. It was one of those jobs where I thought I always said I wanna be a political director. I was always. That's what I thought I wanted to be. And I remember I really wanted to just get in the door. Remember when CBS was hiring a new political director when Katy Kirk took over, I thought, oh, they're gonna be, you know, I'd love to just get an interview. CBS wouldn't even give me an interview. In and by the way, I always had an affinity for CBS because they invented the political unit. Yeah, mar Mari, listener who I got too late in life. Yeah, one of the real treats that I've got to have. I got this job. He emailed me. We had. We started having quarterly lunches, just just old stories and like. Just one of the great great guys of of sort of television of sort of modern television news history. So I always thought I wanted. And then all of a sudden when I got the offer, I don't be honest. My wife was pregnant with our second child. We had just bought a new house on. I'm like. What do they say? It's like new job, new kid and Newhouse. Well, I didn't want to add new job to. That's a lot of a lot of, yeah, it was like all at once. And so I said, no, I don't think I drove was the Washington bureau chief in addition to being the host of meet the press. And I said, you know, and I just signed a three or contract with Bradley who was the owner of the Atlanta national journal, my boss and he treated me really well. And I actually started to think, you know, I just started to write for the Atlantic and I thought I remember thinking I've never thought of it was a good enough writer for real magazine, you know, and you're like, whoa, I guess Atlantic maybe I'm, they have to publish me. I suddenly started like, well, maybe this is the track I wanna go down and maybe I wanna maybe want to be an editor magazine, and that's what I thought I was headed and perfectly excited about that. And then I slept on it for a weekend. And I said, you know, I'm not gonna. I'm gonna always wonder what if. So I said, you know, one thing about David Bradley, I to know my favorite. Well, yeah, he's going to forgive me. Yes, and he'll take me back if it's a total disaster and I still count on him to take me back when this ends up becoming total disaster for me. No, I and look, you know is interesting about Tim. Is it Tim and Doug Bailey of the same guy? Yes. The wired varies same. So Tim and I got to become good friends quickly. It was interesting. It was like it didn't take long for him to sort of trust me and vice versa. And I always say in the last six months, the best way I can describe it is last six months of his life. I, I got to spend all this time with them, and it was like he always say, let me in on the joke. I can tell you what the Joe kiss, but he let me in on it and I understood network television in a different way and understood politics, sort of. The way presidential campaigns and television networks interacted. I just sort of learned some things that you needed to learn if you're going to succeed in survive in in in the world network television both internally externally. And you know, I, I cherish those six months where I really feel like you let me in and he's another one. I have some conversations with, yeah, you know he, he was a guy who absolutely loved the game of politics and the and revered the business of government. And by the way, people are gonna hear the word you say that word gain. Yeah, that's your problem game dammit. That really. And here's the thing, yes, it's a, it's a contest. It's a contest of DEA. It's a contest of wills. It's a contest of humanity. It's a, it's a just because you call it a game. Doesn't mean it's not serious. Kindred spirits in that way. Like I think this has meaning and you let, but the exhilaration that teddy Roosevelt to spoke of of being in the arena is something that he that Tim understood because he had come from politics with Pat Moynihan with Mariel Cuomo, not just any politics. I mean, vivid gigantic, big politics on eight people and machine politics. Yeah, you know, I'm doing this long project on sort of the rise of Trump in the in the seventies and eighties of New York. Yeah. And you know what's been great about it as talked all these people who can give me some more stories about eight beam Ed Koch and all the stuff. And then he said, hey, so I gotta tell you some TIMMY stories. Yeah, it's always TIMMY, the New York Democrat. Yeah. They always have a TIMMY story. Yeah. And by the way, one is better than the next there. Fantastic. Yeah, no, he was. He was one of the kind and he approached. His interviews with that passion. You know, you had the sense that he was a guy who understood at a very high level what the person across the table was involved in and he could call bullshit on them. But he, he did it from the standpoint of someone who had been through those wars. Look, I wish thought he found this balance and it's the balance. I always say strive for which is asking a tough question. Respectfully. Yeah. Okay. Making them you're never got the sense that he didn't respect the percent cross the table. I don't like it's funny. I'm careful with who I book. I don't wanna have people on that. I don't respect. Yeah, and I just, I'll be honest with you there. Certain people we avoid sometimes because I don't want him. I don't wanna put my. I don't want to put myself in that position. Sometimes you have to you interview people because they're the people with the information and at the end of the day's what you do, but it is. It is. I do at the end of the day, I do feel as if on on the Sunday morning show for in particular. Everybody on there should be somebody I respect doesn't matter that what they believe, but that I respect that they're honest about how sometimes it's hard to enforce that because people you have to have because there and I don't want to get into a kinda, who do I respect anyone that I would. I knew you would I was there for Tim's one of his last big interviews which was with Barack Obama was I think in Indiana, it was an hour, long interview, and it was very very, you know, Russ, it was like, you got to go through this oral exam. You know he, he administered the oral exam for people who are running for president and it you couldn't do that today, could you? You couldn't do a, you couldn't do a an an hour, long interview. I mean that that's not these thirty minutes with President Obama. The first time I had him for my first show on meet the press. I've done. Twenty five and thirties with with Trump and Clinton, and. You do get the sense. It was slightly too long for the audience. We sort of could figure that out of fortunately, look, there's just a different. I. I get jealous of reading these old transcripts, you know, Dick Cheney for the full hour. Yeah, I would love Dick Cheney for the full hour. I would love Mike Pence for the full hour. You could explore some stories, but at the end of the day, the viewers. Yeah, we're there lead measuring second by second, their sticks, and but the audience is looking, you know, and and you can find and I will. We'll get people say, no, no, I love those forty five minutes interviews. I know you do. We have other ways to give you forty five minute interviews. Yeah, the other problem though it's more and more politicians won't give like that anymore. Right? They just won't. Would you advise him to give any more. Off, isn't it? It is, but you know, we've you'd it with Obama. We've you'd. We wanted the oral exam. We wanted it. We wanted the test, you know, because we were about the business of trying to push people at a guy who has four years out of the Ellen OI Senate was prepared to be president and this, and that was one of the test we had to pass. You know, it's funny. I hope every politician to me, it was pretty obvious of what kind of media strategy works and the twenty first century because Hillary Clinton tried to nineteen twenty century perch to television media. The big interview cherry picking. I want to do a big evening news anchor interview here for Sunday over here, and I'll do Donald Trump said, bring it on, right, I'll do whatever. Right? And in the twenty first century fractured media environment do whatever, right? What was always interesting day. What I found interesting about the Obama White House as you guys were trying to basically straddle both worlds, you. Cheated traditional media, like a twentieth century protest. You get this interview, but you did embrace new media with a disruption twenty-first-century broach. I'll do Marc Maron and I'll do this. And yeah, and and what I would say is I do think the public was talking to Andrew gillum the democratic nominee for governor I, I was very impressed with how well he did in south Florida without running a single there in at and I said, I know it's a pretty fractured media environment. He says, oh, you have no idea. Is you gotta do like mama, Jo's, Instagram? Yeah, broadcast, I said, excuse me, no. He said, I didn't know about it either. He says, but mama, Joe talks to more Haitian Americans out than anybody else in south Florida. And he goes, I didn't million of those things. Interesting. Yeah. No, I mean, that is the great insight of as you as you say, the twenty th century you gotta like Willie Sutton said, you got you. Got you. Your banks because that's where the money is. You gotta go where the peop- people are in. It's a lot of different banks and you know it, it's okay. To be not polished. In fact, the less policy are sometimes more and and it works better. I mean, you you can over saturate no doubt. But if I looked at twenty sixteen and I said, well, who who's who's media strategy adopt? Seems like a no brainer Dopp the Trump media strategy. Support for today's show comes from Chubb. Why do people choose insurance from Cheb? Because Chubb operates fifty. Four countries offers exceptional financial strength and abroad range of personal and commercial insurance products for your business. Your employees is your home and the people you love whether face with a wildfire and Texas a sinkhole in a museum building a wireless network in Mexico or water damage in a family's home. Chubs insurance experts are there to come up with the best solution, deliver exceptional service. Here, Chubb customers tell their stories at Chubb dot com slash podcast. That's Chubb c. h. u. b. b. dot com. Slash podcast. Meet the press. Well, let me just finish up on Russ heard he, he died. Suddenly, I, I mean, I think many, many people felt that loss acutely not just because of who he was an all of the relationships he had. I count myself among them, but because he represented something that was that that you know, that that sense of he wasn't 'institutionalised and he policed the institution in some ways. It's interesting. I think. It sort of in the way we revere Cronkite and a previous generation, and Tim is revered in that same way, put David Brinkley that same sort of mount Rushmore aspect of it. And of course now with with how fractured media is, and frankly, how aggressive the campaign is how members of the press are treated like politicians. Now, as I always said, I'm I now have more empathy for the elected official than I ever did because I get treated. I get background search. You know, people dumping up on your wife who who's been involved in politics at becomes an issue xactly. It's so I sort of like, wow, this is not something I've been used to, frankly, you know, I have no idea if Tim we're alive today, who knows how the way media, the way the world would treat him or not. But I do think he did. He is sort of that. He was the last of an era that doesn't mean there aren't going to be new era's. That doesn't mean you, you know, as you get older will start talking about the good old days of somehow. This will consider this stuff. The good old. I remember Chuck Todd. Yeah, we'll we'll just remember the, you know, the. The the, the way Obama pain there is that sense of recent see bias there, but there's no doubt Tim feels like the end of the sentence that began with Edward r Murrow. Okay. On, you know, you talked before about how he the sense of regard that he communicated for people who are in the arena. That seems almost quaint now, I mean, you you right, you know, you and others try and treat the people across the table respectfully, but but there was a sense that he conveyed that that seems sepia toned almost about about people who are in that world. You know, it's interesting. I used to say that ninety five percent people. One other great privileges I had to work in hotline is that we used to interview these candidates early on when they were running for the house of the Senate of their first or second trips to Washington. They do it off the record meeting with hotline, Charlie cook and his teams to it Rothenberg the longtime political handicappers. Yeah, backed. I, my colleague von Ververs remembers are Barack Obama meeting better than I remember our Brock Obama made. But we had it in December of two, you know, for the US Senate and here's this skinny guy comes in. I remember because I was I was working for, yeah, Ed. So. And I used to say, you know, going through those meetings, it was a reminder, ninety five percent of the people that come to Washington came here for the right reasons. You may not agree with their philosophies. The came here to do good in what they believed was good and I and I'm with sincere and I stay, you know, and look, people get corrupted by the system. I am concerned more important people wanna use politics for selfish meets to get rich to get famous. They're not interested in it for this. I'm worried that it isn't ninety five percent anymore that maybe we're down to eighty percent are doing it for the right. Yeah. I don't know what to do with that. I do think that we've celebre fight our politics in such a way, and you know, maybe it's the natural. We've always had celebrities, dip their toes in politics. I mean, let's remain. It's not a new thing, but it does seem as the advent of Jesse Ventura governorship did sort of change how we've there was a time we used to view becoming a politician as an aspirated thing, and now we don't. It's an accessible thing, but we also don't hold politicians in high regard enough when when Tim died, how did that hit you? And I mean, it he, you know, another guy who, I guess in some ways it was a father figure to you all though you weren't together that long. Well, it, you know, it's interesting what it did do is it is it. It's made things lonely. Again, you know it, it actually. Duggan I sorta got a we. We've always Remo. We always had remained closely pass Wayne twenty thirteen, but I did find myself almost leaning on him more. You know a little bit more. It's look when you go through the things that you went through nineteen and I went through it sixteen with realistic, we're really good at compartmentalizing. Yeah. Okay. So it's, you know, it it. It takes a lot of processes things, and I am pretty big, compartmentalize her anyway. And I think part of it is just because when you go through a teenage trauma, I think that's just how the human brain works, right? Especially my wife and I had this debate it. There is something about. We think testosterone forces more compartmentalization than estrogen us. We just maybe were, maybe we think scientifically someone somebody will prove this. Yeah. Yeah, that's what we were saying that. So it did hit a lot harder because. And I say this with no disrespect to, but you know, you feel it get somebody that you could get the answer from. Yeah, hardest part right now in navigating the world that I'm in right now is I don't know who has the answers. I know I don't, but you always wanna. There's always, I'm sure you have people in your life that you still want. Yeah, touch base with my dad was one of them. See all these years later. I I have these. I have more conversation with my dad. Trimbe. 'cause you know, my dad. My dad would have been an interesting hued had an interesting reaction to this period because he would have been he very much thought he had a suspicion of New York base media. The New York, he says, does New Yorkers think they're better than us? Yeah, he would say that and he would sit and I was raised with that sort of and I always channel. I always feel like that's healthy than that because and at the same time he didn't like he didn't like somebody that was trying to pull one. So of of of just been fascinated how he would process the current political environment. And it's actually those conversations. I have that with him trying to understand what the undecided voter my thing and have these have my Tim conversations with trying to figure out. All right. How would you question this Trump White House like this didn't work? How would you do it this way? So these are the commerce, or how would you react when the when the president, the United States calls you sleepy, sleepy is Chuck Todd, don't you know that was nothing. Calling me an s. o. b. and having my kids being the first one to tell me that the president called me SOB. That was the most personally angry I've ever been. I'll admit that because I'm like made a minute. This sort of cross allows had dinner with my family and my daughter's Instagram's Ballin up. Just thirteen fourteen that's terrible age. Oh, yeah. Now you know she was funny the you're getting a feeling for what people in politics. Oh, I get it. Look, I understood brick Kavanagh's family rage. I get it. You become so protective. I think that's going by the way the cabinet I look. I just worry this is this is I don't know. Here's my concern. I think the country can handle it better than our elected leadership. I worry that we don't have the political maturity of our elected leadership to. To deal with the fallout of this. I think our culture wars are, you know. But Nita, Helen. Clarence Thomas happened in odd numbered year. This is happening in even numbered years politically weeks for a very, I gene full election, I, I'm just I fear. Yeah. How this gets processed over time. Meaning. I just think it's it's. I think it's an irreconcilable thing for for large chunks of the country who are never gonna feel satisfied about this, and I don't know, you know, it's kind of a raw shot test and what we're finding which is like it's falling right into. And I think this was actually a strategic decision on the part of team cabinet, but it's falling right into if you're, you know, if you're a Republican, you see it one way. If you're a democrat, you see another and independence. No, you dare split and you struggle with it. And I look, I mean, I'm always say I'm a human being to, and I've I put myself in both shoes and I can't believe anybody would put themselves through this. So I just don't believe in accusers. Gonna make something up. 'cause right. You're putting yourself through his crazy. I mean that that is you are real. If you're making it up, you're, you really are into self inflicted wounds, right? And yet if somebody were accusing me of something I didn't do, I'd. Be jumping up and down and screaming, like heeded, judge cabinet. So it some ways they've both reacted in ways that make them believable, though. You did say to a group of kids that was quoted somewhere and tell me if it's wrong that you thought he was disqualified, not by the particular facts of this this case. Oh, well, here's what I said. I said, I think a question I didn't say what disqualified him. It's not up to me to discuss qualifier. Decide this. What I said. I said. I believe what I said was. He is, are we getting what I'm curious about is in, here's something we don't know. He's a human being. How is this process going to change his ability to be impartial judge right? Well, he how do we and here's the thing. How do we test that right now? Right? That was kind of stunning about the way he approached that hearing. Not that he was outraged, but that it channeled itself into, and I think it was part of a strategy reprieve another question. Yeah. Okay. I'm Johnny all these. I don't know. It's. What's the difference between a partisan in an ideologue? I believe there's a big difference, but there is a different. What do you think the differences? Well, I think a partisan is less concerned about Eddie algae partisan is concerned about advancing the interests of one team or another team. I mean, people go to the court all the time with ideology. I don't think it's it's hard to divorce people from that. But if you say I am there to advance the interests of a party that that is troubling in a in a in in a judicial. What I've tried to explain it, conservative friends of mine on. They don't understand the the, they've, they've been trying to process particularly younger. Excuse me, younger conservatives have been trying to process the the sort of this vehement anger that's on the left for cavenaugh particularly among official Washington. I said, Cavanaugh Ken Starr is to Democrats what judge with the word Bork is to summer. Publican's it's a trigger. Okay. It's a trigger for like a. Of of just this guttural partisan warfare. It's a horrible memory. And so- cavenaugh being part of star has always been disqualifier for guy like Chuck Schumer and a guy, some of these Senate Democrats and it's an. Do you think this was the revenge of the Clinton? Well, that the fact that he brought it up. I don't know if he's right or wrong. I could tell you that scar tissue is there. Here's the thing he has it him saying it means he believes it's there. He knows that scar tissue is there. It just, you know. You they could've found. I mean, and I think almost this is what Mitch McConnell was trying to tell the president when he leaked ROY, pay too much paper, meaning Donald in, want him to hit him and Kevin didn't want him to point cabin because he says there's too much paper meaning, yeah, he worked in the Bush White House. He worked at Ken Starr there's too much foible information because he was a partisan worker that this is no disrespect to him as an intellect as a legal mind. But he worked in. He worked in Republican politics in some of the more, you know, whether it's the Bush White House, whether it was was Ken Starr the recount room and those are all of the roster things for democrat. So it was a version of poke in them in the eye which look, we have Donald Trump too many. To too many Trump supporters Trump is a revenge we own the libs. Now, are we own the Clintons or we owned the media that's like this mindset and you're sitting to what end and in some ways AC the Cavanaugh is just more of like digging that well does double back to ideology because to what end is that Trump has been pretty good too, in terms of the judges and some of his policies, there's, there's a payoff there. No there is, but it's just this partisan warfare. I just don't know how we're gonna get out of it. And it could be that the country or at least a majority of the country spread around enough states demands it. I mean, that's I, you know, I thought Ben Sasse diagnose the problem correctly. When he said the reason we're having these knock down, drag out fights about the direction the judiciary's because we don't legislate and we don't debate in the legislature, all of our major legislation as one hundred percent, right. Most of the major legislation of the last twenty-five years has been done with partisan basically Hartson majority in order to sort of jammed it through. We haven't had a true bipartisan well, really since the first NAFTA, right? Partly because the basis of each party our compromise has become a dirty word and it sort of a central to that process of legislating. So, but again, unless people demand it, we're gonna keep keep going down this road. I gotta go, but. I wanna ask you, I be remiss if I didn't, and I think he'd insist just just gimme a minute or two on Trump as a as a as somewhat. You've covered white houses. Talk to talk to talk about him as someone you. You said you. You don't have anybody to go and ask about how to. I'm not sure there is a template for it. No, there's not. I've tried to figure out what the templates. I had fun with doors Kerns Goodwin. And I said, I said, you know, part of me says there's a little bit of Jimmy Carter and a little bit of teddy Roosevelt. You know, you know you could. You could see there where there's this a little bit of Richard Nixon, a little bit of Richard Nixon, right? There's a little bit of paranoia. There's a little bit of island convicts it Jimmy Carter's big the micromanager teddy Roosevelt sort of, you know the disruptor. So you could look at presidents and say, okay, there's pieces Trump has the ability to be pieces of of some of these folks. You know, I, I've. I spend. I've been spending a lot of time reading, ROY comb and getting to know ROY comb, which means you get to know Joseph McCarthy and get to know some of. Mentor to Donald Trump and he wasn't mentor to Donald Trump and important mentor. Now Trump and the biggest thing he learned from Trump was you just you never give right, always fight. You always fight. You always fight. The other mazing thing about Donald Trump is he always finds a way to declare victory in always finds a way to survive. And he has had so many near death experiences where he has not died, whatever death he thought would be death right for him, not having money was would have been death right in the mid nineties. And yet he somehow survived a semester vibe that it is given him. This air of invincibility about himself. That is that is that is unique to the presidency that we've not had before. The other thing is, is that he saw the great he's, he found the, you know, every every system has a bug and he exploited the greatest bug in our system shame. The most important. Disciplinary tool we've have in this country is public shame. Works in entertainment works in sports, some politics, whatever it is we brought up Tiger Woods earlier. What got Tiger Woods to do rehab. You might argue public shame. Donald Trump doesn't ksm pervious pervious to it, and it is that is his that is his superhero weapon or whatever you wanna call it and maybe his greatest weakness as well as Minnesota case people's strength. Strengthen your weakness is the same. It's why he got there. It will undo him, but do realize that the first time, if he somehow doesn't get a second term or somehow and tries for or somehow doesn't finish term. It will be the first time he was truly failed, which is why he may why he is so comfortable touching the electric fence? Yeah, he because the electric fences never killed them before Fateh. If that happens, I, my prediction is that he will not take responsibility. It will be the news media. It will be, you know, the Chinese. It will be it will not be him. No, but history will not will treat them in different ways. My gas, but. We'll see Chuck Todd, always to see you, sir. Thank you for you day. Thank you for listening to the x. files part of the CNN podcast network for more episodes of the x files subscribe on apple, podcasts, Stitcher, or your favorite podcast app from our programming from the university of Chicago institute of politics, visit politics, dot EU, Chicago dot EDU.

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