Interviews

Gingrich: President Trump is in a 'real war' with media

Former House speaker backs the president's attacks on the press on 'Your World'

 

This is a rush transcript from "Your World," February 24, 2017. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

NEIL CAVUTO, HOST:  I don't know if my friend Newt Gingrich would like this comparison, but long before Donald Trump came along, he was a pioneer in ripping the media and going after what he thought was unfair reporting.

The thing that I liked about the former speaker is, it was said and done and he didn't really dwell about it.  

Now, here's where I draw the exception, then, Mr. Speaker, if you will indulge my comparison.  Donald Trump can't let go of it.  He spent a good part of the first portion of his remarks at CPAC reminding folks of this, telling a crowd that has that view anyway.

And I don't know if he is really advancing the ball.  In other words, he can't do that in his address to Congress next week.  So, if you had to advise him on this subject, taking on the media, dealing with this, singling out people from a gaggle, you know the drill, what would you do?  

NEWT GINGRICH, R-FORMER SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE:  Well, I would tell him to basically recognize -- and you and I may disagree about this.  

I think this is a real war.  I think the people on the other side, whether they're the demonstrators at the rally or they're the college professors or they're many of the senior reporters, they are the other team.  

Some of the stuff that's been done, CNN's total miscoverage of the FBI relationship, was crazy.  You look at this stuff, you think to yourself, The New York Times' continual misrepresentation of fact just borders on propaganda of the worst kind.  

So, I think this is a president who understands he's in the long game, that part of the long game is to make sure that his half of America understands how bad much of the news coverage is, because what the newspapers are trying and what the news media is doing is establish a storyline which makes Trump hopeless.  

And what he has to do is establish an alternative competing storyline which makes them false.  And I don't think he has a choice.  And if I were in his shoes, I would kick some of the organizations out.  I would flood the White House press corps with lots of people.  

I would go to Skype a lot more.  And I would go to local reporters from all over the country.  I would take the old Washington establishment head on and be pretty cheerful about it.  

CAVUTO:  All right, you probably would.  

And here's where I will respectfully disagree.  You still took on questions from all comers, Newt.

And I can well see your frustration.  I can see it myself.  It's not a balanced media.  There's a disproportion of negative stories on Donald Trump.  And I always argue, as we have here, we have all a lot of time in the news business, 24-hour news channels, business channels.

We have the time to get into the good and the bad.  There's a disproportionate amount of attention to the bad.  I understand that.  

But don't you risk then sending a message, unless your tone is better or your questions are better, we're going to ignore you?  I mean, be careful what you wish for there...  

GINGRICH:  Sure.  

CAVUTO:  ... because then you are going to have a knee-jerk media, which might be a welcome development -- I see your point -- but then everyone is pulling their punches or afraid to take on the emperor.  

GINGRICH:  Well, I mean, first of all, there's -- you look at the totality of America, there's very little danger that Donald Trump in the near future is going to be above being taken on.  People are going to cheerfully take him on.

But I had this experience.  Tony Blankley, I remember one time, when he was my press secretary, the late Tony Blankley, who was a great, great guy, believed totally in the press.  

CAVUTO:  Indeed.

GINGRICH:  Loved the press.  

And we had one particular issue come up.  And the people he liked most deliberately covered it falsely.  And he was just shattered.  And he never fully recovered.  And I think it made him a little -- much more cynical.  

I have never seen in my career, in Ronald Reagan's career, you name it, I have never seen the level of deliberate dishonesty that we're getting out of The Washington Post, The New York Times and CNN.  I mean, some of these stories are so false.  

And I think it's fair to say to a reporter, look, if you're engaged in absolute falsehood, you don't get to play.  I don't care.  They can send somebody else.  They have got lots of other reporters.  But you don't have to pretend that somebody is a serious reporter if they're just a propagandist.  

CAVUTO:  All right, so would you do is sort of challenge the press to up its game, right?  You would be saying, we think you have to be fair to us.

GINGRICH:  Right.  

CAVUTO:  But what is fair to you might be very different than fair to the media.  And you're right.  The media's version of that, in particular when it comes to Republicans...

GINGRICH:  No, no, I'm not even saying fair.  

CAVUTO:  So, what are you saying then?  

GINGRICH:  I didn't use the word fair.  No, I didn't use the word fair.  

What I said was, you have to be factual.  If somebody walks in and says, I'm going to run the following story, and you say to them it's totally false, and then you prove it's totally false -- and my favorite was the woman The New York Times covered who supposedly said Donald Trump had made advances to get to her 16 years ago.  

And the woman shows up and says, I totally liked him.  I admired him a great deal.  I told The New York Times it wasn't true.  

Now, at that point, why would you deal with the reporter as though they were a serious person and give them the dignity of the White House press operation?

CAVUTO:  Fair enough.  All right, I see what you're saying there.  

But all I'm saying, though, final thought on this.  And just feel free to give me your point of view then, that when we get so distracted by the press -- and he has every right in a lot of cases to say they are out to get him.  Sometimes, that old line that you look over your shoulder, there are a lot of people back there.

Why feed that beast?  Why make them feel better that they're the target and make their colleagues rally around?  You know what I'm saying?  Why do you do that?  To what end?  

GINGRICH:  Sure.

CAVUTO:  How do you advance your cause?

GINGRICH:  But I like to -- look, I like the nuance he began to have today by talking about the fake media, drawing a distinction between serious reporters and people who are writing fake news.  

This is an ongoing story.  But it's integral to Trump's vision of reshaping America that the hardline left-wing propagandists have to be taken head on.  You cannot allow them to pretend that they're neutral, because they will destroy you if you allow them to pretend they're neutral.

CAVUTO:  You know what got lost, though, in the argument, Newt?  The Dow hitting an 11th record, still more market wealth, because people are going to be obsessed on this story, because he elevated it.  

GINGRICH:  But, look, in the long run, it won't matter, because he's convinced the Dow is going to keep going up.  

CAVUTO:  All right.  

GINGRICH:  He's going to continue to get more people to invest in America.  

CAVUTO:  OK.  

GINGRICH:  And look at all the strong things he's doing around this fight.  

But this fight is central to defining the Trump world and the anti-Trump world.  

CAVUTO:  OK.  

And don't start invading my little nerdy world of stocks, Newt.  It's the only comfort I have here.  

(LAUGHTER)

CAVUTO:  So, always good seeing you, Speaker.  Thank you very, very much, Newt Gingrich, in Washington.  

GINGRICH:  Good to be with you.  All right.  

END

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