This is a rush transcript from "Life, Liberty & Levin," May 19, 2019. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
MARK LEVIN, HOST: Hello America, I'm Mark Levin. This is "Life, Liberty & Levin," and we have a little different show for you today. Actually, it's a lot different.
We have a question. Do we have a free press today or an unfree press? As I contend in my new book "Unfreedom of the Press." What about the press is? Is it a one party press mostly? Is it a press that's interested in objectivity giving us news? What is it exactly? Nobody better to start this discussion with me than my buddy, Pete Hegseth? How are you?
PETE HEGSETH, FOX NEWS: Oh, my goodness. I'm great. Thanks for having me.
LEVIN: It's a great pleasure. We're doing things a little differently tonight. So you've had an opportunity to read the book.
HEGSETH: Yes, I have, cover to cover.
LEVIN: What do you think?
HEGSETH: Well, I think it's fantastic. I think it's badly needed. And I'm pinching myself that I'm here in the bunker, interviewing the great one here having a conversation.
LEVIN: You like the bunker?
HEGSETH: The bunker is the brick and steel of a nondescript building. It fits the description completely.
LEVIN: We really are hidden away, Pete.
HEGSETH: You are hidden away. I couldn't find it if I tried. But liberty and freedom lives here. And you know, having read all your other books, this is an extension. You hadn't written as much about the media before. What is it that made you say, I want to do an expose of the American media?
LEVIN: It's the 800-pound gorilla in the middle of the living room. It has such an enormous impact on our country. We watch a lot of TV, there's the media. We listen to a lot of radio, there's the media. Go on the internet, there's the media.
So I wanted to try and determine, what do we mean by the media? And the media seem out of control to me. They seem to be ideologically driven, especially with this President. And so I wanted to try and get to the bottom of this. Also look at the history of the press in America.
You know, we looked at the Constitution and many of the same people who abuse quote, unquote, "freedom of the press" point to the First Amendment. But why do we have freedom of the press? Freedom of the press is aligned with freedom of speech. And how did we get here? We got here because of the American Revolution and before. These were printers, who were really the great patriots and pushed the American Revolution, and pushed the ideas of the American Revolution.
Printers who were printing pamphlets, and maybe two dozen newspapers in the lead up to the Revolution, and they were talking about people like John Locke and Montesquieu, and others, and colonists, farmers and others, blacksmiths.
They would read these things and they would spread throughout the colonies, often by word, different pubs so forth and public places. And so the early press, as we call it, is the Patriot Press. They pushed liberty, representative government, low or no taxes, small government, patriotism. That was their purpose. That's what they did. And that was followed by a period of something called the Political Party Press. It really started in the early 1800's.
Jefferson and Adams -- two of our great founders, right? Well, newspapers started to align with them and started aligning with parties. But here's the thing, they're very transparent about it. We have newspapers in this country that are still the progeny of that era. "The Arkansas Democrat," the "Arizona Republic" used to be called the "Arizona Republican."
Well, you had papers like that all across the country. So they were outspoken about who they support. And matter of fact, sometimes they were on the payroll of the Post Office or something like that, depending who the President United States was.
But fast forward to about 1900 or so give or take and the progressive movement arises, and it devours all aspects of our society as it does today. The progressive movement was not going to allow the media to go off on a tone, be diverse, and so forth. So they decided, you know, we need to have a professional media. And what did a professional media mean?
Well, they told us what it meant. It meant that a relative handful of so- called experts would be the media, would collect the information, digest it and explain it to the plebs out there who are just too busy or too stupid. We call them the American people.
HEGSETH: They're going to play it straight, though, right?
LEVIN: But they're going to play it straight. And so they didn't play it straight. As a matter of fact, many of the progressives of that era, John Dewey, and so forth were a great influence. But it was a lot straighter than it is today.
And then we move fast forward to today. That's the heritage of the modern media. But it's gotten worse, why? They picked up the bad habits of the political party media. But they don't represent both political parties. They represent one political party, even worse, they're not transparent about it. They're opaque about it. They pretend that they're objective.
And then when you study their standards and so forth, there's actually debates that go on with so-called the media experts. They debate what objective means. Does the reporter have to be objective? Does the process have to be objective? But more and more -- that are kind of revealing themselves as social activists.
HEGSETH: Do they know it? Or are they lying to themselves?
LEVIN: I believe most of them know it. Because at this point, especially the last three years, you have got to want to be a social activist to keep this up, day in and day out, and day in and day out with the criticism they're receiving from a lot of the public. The media is destroying the Free Press, I make a distinction between the media and the Free Press. We have mostly a media. And we mostly having media not a free press because of the media.
The media is destroying the press, not the President by calling out newspapers and journalists who are very thin skinned and don't like it.
HEGSETH: They say they're under greater threat than they've ever been because of this President.
LEVIN: Well, isn't that fascinating? You know, you have Jim Acosta, you have others out there saying we've never seen anything like this before. "The New York Times" publisher said the same thing. Well, that's because they're illiterate when it comes to history.
As I explained in the book, John Adams, the Sedition Act, well, he put journalists in prison. He shut down newspapers. It was a big problem. Jefferson ran against this. Jefferson won. Jefferson got rid of the Sedition Act. You have Abraham Lincoln, during the Civil War. Through his Secretary of War, they shut down over 300 newspapers, they put a number of journalists in prison for a variety of reasons. You can argue one way or the other, but that's what they did.
One of the great so-called progressives, intellectuals, Woodrow Wilson, really an accidental President in many ways, he had a new Sedition Act in 1918, an extension of the 1917 Espionage Act that we often talk about and he put a number of journalists in prison. He actually put a number of political opponents in prison and even more in modern times, you have FDR who used the IRS to go after the owner the "Inquirer." His wife, Eleanor Roosevelt, used the IRS to go after "Gannett" because they were conservatives.
They went after -- Kennedy, LBJ also used the IRS. And of course, Barack Obama used the FBI to go after James Risen of the "New York Times," James Rosen of Fox and 20 Associated Press reporters -- of course, he knew nothing about it. They just sorted it.
So the say this President -- long story, to say this President by calling a particular reporter, or news operation, fake news is like a dictator, it's the worst thing we've ever seen is so absurd, it is so outrageous.
I'm not aware that he has used the FBI or the IRS, or a Sedition Act to shut down anybody or put anybody in prison. And yet, if you ask the left about FDR, they love FDR. You ask them about Woodrow Wilson. They love Woodrow Wilson.
HEGSETH: He has used all caps on Twitter, though.
LEVIN: And it's very painful to watch.
HEGSETH: It is. I feel like that shuts a lot of people down.
LEVIN: So this is part of the problem. Part of the problem is, when you look at the stretch of history in the media, I would argue, we're at the lowest point ever. You have half the American people, give or take the vast majority of Republicans, I'm not making this up, it's in the book. You can look at the research that's done. That does not trust the media.
You have the vast majority of Democrats that do, that's fine. But that means you're playing to a political party, you're playing to agenda. You couldn't tell me the difference really between the Democratic agenda and what you hear from Chris Cuomo or Don Lemon, or a whole list of so-called reporters, same with MSNBC.
HEGSETH: Well, because you layout in the book how inseparable the two really are, when you look at transition from the media into the Obama administration. How many executives and hosts and others took senior positions. It appears it's a two-way street back and forth.
LEVIN: It's extraordinary. Now, they'll say, well, look at this Republican or look at that Republican, they serve in this administration -- yes, that's like the exception to the rule. The rule is you actually have dozens of Democrats who served in the Obama administration, and now are back in the media, or vice versa.
You have an enormous number of their family members who work in Democratic administrations, who worked on the Hill, there's just no going around it. It's the absolute truth.
You look at CNN, there's several over there. You look at MSNBC, and Chris Matthews and others, there's several. There is this incestuous relationship. It's a social relationship. It is a geographic relationship, pretty much on the East Coast, pretty much New York and Washington, and really pretty much Washington, D.C. But you've got a whole rest of the country out there. So you have this relationship also that's geographical and political, oddly enough, again, all of this is in the book, they took a look at the new rising internet news.
And they said there's no getting around the fact that most of these people on the internet who are so-called news people live in dark blue counties said Hillary Clinton one.
So geographically, politically, ideology, there's really no question. And that's why when you're watching TV, there are exceptions. But when you're watching TV, and you're seeing something, and it's doesn't seem right, it seems very liberal, or if it is -- it is.
You know, the Shorenstein Center did a study.
HEGSETH: They've got a number of great studies there.
LEVIN: There's a number of great studies in there. But I decided I don't want to just list things over and over again. So I took the time to really dig out some of these. It's a Harvard organization. They looked at the first hundred days of the Trump presidency. And they found that CNN and NBC were negative 90 percent of the time.
In other words, almost a hundred percent of the time. They looked at CBS, they looked at the others, they were negative, well, over 70 percent of the time, "New York Times" was over 80 percent of the time. There was really only one network that was relatively even handed, it's this one. Fifty two percent negative -- some of the news; 48 percent positive, isn't that kind of what you want.
So you can see there's very little ideological diversity in some of these organizations. And there's very little difference between news and opinion in some of these organizations. And I think that is the Achilles heel of the media today.
HEGSETH: I want to come back to that. I want to come back to this channel, Fox, as well as the "New York Times," you've got a fascinating chapter about the "New York Times" which we'll get to as well.
But what would the Patriot Press? What would Thomas Paine, what would -- if they were here today, what would they say about our press?
LEVIN: I think they would be astonished at how monolithic it is. It is it ideologically monolithic. And I don't think there's any question about that. You cannot find me a study or a survey that says otherwise. You cannot show me a study or survey that says a majority of this particular newsroom is conservative, or either right of center, even moderate Republican, there's none that exist.
I know, I looked. It's all the other way. And it's been that way even long before President Trump was President of the United States. It's just that it's all come to a head right now with him as President of the United States. I think Thomas Paine would be absolutely disgusted. And you know, his great pamphlets made an enormous difference.
And also, the press today, it doesn't push the agenda of the Patriot Press. Look, the Patriot Press wasn't so much a news operation. It was pushing a revolution of certain principles and so forth.
LEVIN: The media today for the most part push the opposite principles. Do they push limited government? No. A representative government? No. They're kind of like the massive administrative state and ruled by judges. They like popular government when their guys win. You know they don't like it otherwise. They talk about changing the various aspects of the Constitution, the Republican aspects of the Constitution.
And you can also see what happens in a lot of these newsrooms by the nature of the guests that they have and the so-called experts they have or the Members of Congress who have repeat performances. And you can see on again, CNN, MSNBC, but it's not just cable. It's the written word, too. And when we come back, I want to talk to you especially about the "New York Times" because the "New York Times" is supposed to be the gold standard, right? It's supposed to be the iconic newspaper, right? And you read Chapter 6 of the book.
HEGSETH: You did not pull any punches in Chapter 6.
LEVIN: I didn't pull any punches and I want to have a real discussion with you about the "New York Times" when we come back.
Don't forget, folks, almost every weeknight you can watch me on LevinTV, LevinTV. I hope you'll join us. Go to blazetv.com/mark to sign up, blazetv.com/mark or give us a call at 844-LEVIN-TV, 844 LEVIN-TV. We'll be right back.
LEVIN: Welcome back. The subject tonight is "Unfreedom of the Press." And that's the title of my new book that comes out Tuesday. Pete Hegseth.
HEGSETH: Yes, sir.
LEVIN: My brother. We left it with the "New York Times".
HEGSETH: We left it at the "New York Times" and it was probably the most fascinating chapter of this book. You know, the President today calls it the failing "New York Times" and what you laid out is one of the biggest failures in journalistic history and "The Times" sort of pioneered the idea of unbiased journalism, at least attempting to do so, yet, when it came to the Holocaust, when it came to World War II, they were worse than bad. Why?
LEVIN: You know, Pete, it's shocking. And what's also shocking is how most Americans don't know about this. The rest of the media pretty much covers it up. Everybody keeps quoting the "New York Times," "New York Times" -- tell me how many businesses would still be around if they did their very, very best to censor what took place in the Holocaust? I don't think a lot of them would be around.
HEGSETH: Active censorship of the Holocaust.
LEVIN: Active and real time. The "New York Times" and many scholars -- I cite three in particularly who have written outstanding books -- "The New York Times" during the course of the Holocaust did everything it could to push the news to the back pages, to the extent it ever printed it, which was very rare.
"The New York Times" knew some -- a lot of what was going on in Europe at the time, the attempt to exterminate all the European Jews. There were eyewitnesses to this. There were foreign news reports. There were Jewish groups that came to "The New York Times." "The New York Times" was owned by a Jewish publisher. But he didn't want his newspaper to be pigeonholed as a Jewish newspaper.
And he very much was supportive of the New Deal and FDR and FDR didn't want to really focus that much on the Holocaust. And so what they did was worse than push it to the back pages.
The American people really didn't know much about the Holocaust, about 1944. Millions of --
HEGSETH: Hence, American involvement lagged behind as well.
LEVIN: That's correct. And millions of people in Europe who had been killed, you would expect "The New York Times" to at least point that out. They had front page stories in "The New York Times" of events where hundreds of people were killed; non-avowing Jews and they had other kinds of events.
You know, people might say, well, they were focused on the war. But the whole "New York Times" was not focused on the war. They did a lot of reporting on the war, but they did a lot of reporting on other things, local things going on in New York City, other things going on in our country and so forth.
But the Holocaust was given short shrift. And I want you to think about this. You're the paper record, right?
LEVIN: You're all the news that's fit to print. You have more journalistic resources, not just in the United States, all over the world, and particularly Europe than any other American newspaper. And you effectively cover up the Holocaust. It was -- it's an outright and it's even worse than that, about 10 years earlier.
They had a reporter there, a correspondent in Moscow. His name was Walter Duranty and he'd been there 10 to 12 years and he was the senior correspondent of all American correspondents and he was there going, you know, the height, the strength of Stalin. Stalin decided to starve the Ukrainians because the peasant farmers didn't believe in all this command and control. You can take my farm stuff, so they resisted.
The Ukraine was the breadbasket of Europe. He cut it off. He cut all transportation of all food, all clean water, everything. Ten million people starve to death. A few reporters from Britain got in there, from the "Manchester Guardian," and they started reporting on this, they saw cannibalism. They saw the most horrific things you can imagine.
There's a story where Solzhenitsyn in a gulag and they hear at night, Ukrainians trying to get into the gulag because they are literally --
HEGSETH: There is food in the gulag.
LEVIN: And there's nothing for them in Ukraine. And Walter Duranty was a newsman for the "New York Times" and he was writing lies, propaganda. Some people think he was in the back pocket of Stalin because he lived very well. He would be transported with these black sedans and you could only do that really, if Stalin knew about it at the time.
HEGSETH: How does it -- how does the newspaper of record, "The New York Times" recover their reputation if they ever did, or be seen as reputable when you miss and/or cover up the biggest story of a century?
LEVIN: And by the way, they got a Pulitzer for that.
LEVIN: Duranty did and they won't give it back. I don't know.
HEGSETH: Is it your buddies covering up for you? Is it elites padding the backs of elites? Why does that not change? I mean, people go out of business in the private sector when they miss something that big, but not the "New York Times"?
LEVIN: And yet people come out of journalism school, they all want to work for the "New York Times" and all these other newsrooms, they have "New York Times" - it's the guide star for all the news that takes place. And I thought it was crucially important to put that in the book, so people understand that these reporters are of flesh and blood, and they have biases.
And you can never say, certainly since what took place in the last century. And it wasn't just the "New York Times," it was "The Washington Post," at the time with respect to the Holocaust, also downplayed it. Almost every newspaper in the country downplayed it. The owner of "The New York Times," Sulzberger proposed the idea of a Jewish state in Israel. He didn't much like the Jewish organizations in New York that were lobbying him, begging him to do some stories about what was taking place. All these things were going on. And I want the American people to understand, they still go. They still go on. You have Jeff Zucker at CNN.
Look what CNN has done with these phony collusion Russia issue.
HEGSETH: That's immediately what comes to mind to me when you talk about missing the biggest story.
LEVIN: Yes, exactly.
HEGSETH: We have a contemporary example right here.
LEVIN: It has been so outrageous, yet he praises his reporters.
HEGSETH: They say, it's golden age of journalism.
LEVIN: It's the golden age of journalism. It's the yellow age of journalism. It's the lowest point of journalism. What I'd like to do with you and get your comments on this, too, and again, all this is in the book. I want to talk about Russia collusion, a great modern fail of the American media, and the basis for that. We'll be right back.
AISHAH HASNIE, FOX NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Live from "America's News Headquarters," I'm Aishah Hasnie. The U.S. military confirming a rocket exploded earlier today near the U.S. Embassy in Iraq's capital of Baghdad. According to the Iraqi military the rocket appeared to come from an area which is home to several Iran-backed Shiite militias. That attack comes amid new tensions between the U.S. and Iran. Just hours after the attack, President Trump tweeted this, "If Iran wants to fight that will be the official end of Iran. Never threaten the United States again."
This year is a Morehouse College graduates receiving a major gift. The keynote speaker billionaire tech investor, Robert Smith, stunning the 400 graduating seniors by promising to pay off all of their student debt. The price tag comes at an estimated $40 million. Morehouse is an all-male historically black college in Atlanta.
I'm Aishah Hasnie, now back to LIFE, LIBERTY & LEVIN.
LEVIN: Pete Hegseth, in the book I talk a lot about collusion.
LEVIN: What about collusion?
HEGSETH: And the role of the press. It brought to mind for me a time about two years ago, March 6, 2007, when you appeared on our weekend show at "Fox and Friends," and you had done the work that no other members of the media, were doing it all by simply pulling together information from public sources and building a case as to what had been done to then candidate and now President Trump.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HEGSETH: As you go on --
LEVIN: Hold on. Hold on.
HEGSETH: Okay, keep going.
LEVIN: I'm not done. I need to make the case.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HEGSETH: In the book, you lay out how much the press has dropped the ball or you called it, created pseudo crisis or a pseudo story. Talk to me about that.
LEVIN: I remember that day. I came under attack.
HEGSETH: I think you went for eight, nine, ten minutes straight.
LEVIN: Which is pretty rare, right?
HEGSETH: It was great.
LEVIN: All I did was started to pull together the news stories. And you could see the links were coming out of the FBI. I'm an old chief of staff to an Attorney General, because nobody else would know about FISA Court and these sorts of things. And they were leaking mostly to the "New York Times" and so I started pulling those things together. And on your program, I put them in exhibit forms like you would when you're litigating. One exhibit, two exhibit, three exhibit.
The media -- I mean, almost in the aggregate started to attack me as a right winger and all the rest of it. We had the broad outlines of it that are consistent with what's being uncovered more and more each day. And it was a really strange thing, because I was not the source of this information, various media outlets were the source of this information.
It clear various media outlets had received leaks. And I think that's one of the reasons why they refused to cover the police state tactics of the Obama administration at the FBI, the Department of Justice, the various Intelligence agencies, and I would contend right out of the Oval Office.
They didn't want to do those things because they were part of the process. And more than that, they want to defeat Trump.
HEGSETH: Of course.
LEVIN: They want to destroy Trump. So in the book, I call these things, pseudo events. And if you look at the news, and I didn't invent that, there was a brilliant historian who did, Daniel Bornstein in 1961, he would become the head of the Library of Congress. And he wrote a whole book on this.
HEGSETH: And you called them pseudo events, but President Trump calls him fake news.
LEVIN: And he's right. He is right. It's fake news. These are pseudo events, these are creations. For instance, the "New York Times" ran this hot bed call "Anonymous." It became news for a week. The real news was, who wrote it? And they wouldn't tell us.
Well, why is that the real news? So you and I, and 300 million other Americans could know who is behind the effort to sabotage the President from within that was the big news that the "New York Times" wouldn't tell us. So they run a wholly anonymous op-ed, that becomes news. That's pseudo news.
When Jim Acosta disrupts a press conference or makes outrageous allegations, he knows what he's doing. He is creating fake news, pseudo events, and then all of a sudden pseudo events become daily reports on the news.
And so what Bornstein says and what I write in the book, too, is, so much of what we see on TV or listen to on the radio is non-reality. It is non- reality, it's not what's going on in the world.
HEGSETH: Is there -- by the way, folks need to Google March 6, 2017 on "Fox and Friends" with Mark Levin, because you laid out the case that is devastatingly accurate to this day.
But speaking is there -- would any reporter in any of the places you mentioned have the ability to actually do the work, follow through and report on it in a meaningful way inside these newsrooms? Or is it complete groupthink get in line or you're out of here?
LEVIN: That is a great point. I don't think they would. There's two reasons for it, you do not have ideological diversity in these newsrooms. You really shouldn't have to. In other words, your job is to try and go out there and find the objective truth and report it to the American people and let the American people synthesize that you know, in their own craniums and so forth.
But apparently, we're stupid to do that. So stupid people in the media have to do it for us.
HEGSETH: They act like they're smarter, but they're actually not.
LEVIN: But this is a very, very important point that you raised. I don't think so. Because I think the pressure all goes one way.
In the book, I talk about an old time reporter for "The Washington Post" named Thomas Edsall and he wrote a piece and he said, hey, let's stop pretending, we're liberal. The news is liberal, I'm liberal, were liberal, and defend it and explain why that's important. Because the new should be watched through a progressive ideology. Others have said this, too, and we're better reporters.
Can you name any good conservative reporters? He says, well, of course, can you name many conservative reporters in the first place? A handful, maybe. So he says, that's good and we need to have the news washed through the progressive agenda. And that's the point.
HEGSETH: Why is that? Okay, why are newsrooms overwhelmingly left wing? I mean, what is it about that profession that draws or is the pipeline now so controlled by liberals that they're producing more liberals?
LEVIN: It reminds me of what goes on in colleges and universities, faculty hiring faculty, it becomes almost an ideological inbred situation. They go to the same schools to hire people. They want people who largely agree with them. They don't really want minority views or independent thinkers in the newsroom.
You know how TV -- Fox or my show or whatever -- we put together these montages. Well, they say the same thing. It doesn't matter who it is. It doesn't matter what the newsroom. Well, how is that possible? They use the same words. Last week was constitutional crisis. You could put together 20 sound bites from five different news organizations, and they say exactly the same thing.
Before that it was obstruction of justice. Before that, for two years it was collusion. Before that, it was the President of the United States is mentally unhinged. Before that it was Stormy Daniels day in and day out. You can change the channel you see the same thing, you don't even really have to change the channel.
There a number of reasons for this. Number one, as I say it, there is an incestuous hiring situation. Number two, you have a whole lot of Democrats who are now in the media and vice versa. And number three, even if you didn't, for a hundred years, this has been building since the progressive movement all the way into to our current day. But it's gotten worse today because they don't even really pursue objectivity.
You know, in the halls of journalism, I call it where the people figure out --
HEGSETH: The scary hall.
LEVIN: They are scary halls and they are very thin. They argue over what their standard should be. And they argue over this word objectivity, or this phrase, objective truth, and they debate over what it means.
Most people say, you know, you see the news, report the news, leave with us to decide. Well, it's not that simple, they say. There needs to be an explanation for it, there needs to be a reason why we're airing this.
HEGSETH: News analysis is the --
LEVIN: Analysis, interpretation, and so forth. And so, this is why you have now this horrific problem of news and opinion combined. You know, this network, Fox, we do a better job of segregating news and opinion, I would argue than really any -- certainly, any cable program better than the "New York Times," better than "The Washington Post." We know who the news people here are. We know who the opinion people here are. But you can't really tell over at MSNBC what's what and who's who and same with CNN and really in the pages of "The New York Times" these days.
HEGSETH: Don't you think people are sick of that, of being lied to and told "I'm an independent journalist," and they appreciate folks that stand up and say, "I'm a conservative," or "I'm a liberal. This is where I'm coming from." Are we moving away from that era of independent journalism back to, "Hey, here is who I am and here's what I represent."
LEVIN: Right after the break, I'm going to answer your question.
HEGSETH: Okay, good.
LEVIN: We'll be right back.
LEVIN: Pege Hegseth, you asked.
HEGSETH: I said so the media has been unmasked effectively under the Trump era, their bias in full display. Do you think that this will take us back to a place where people are open about where they're coming from more directly, and as a result, you choose your content accordingly?
LEVIN: Well, what's fascinating is within the Democratic Party media is what I call it, the Democratic Party media today, there's a debate. Now they don't have it in front of the cameras or anything like this. But you could see it when you start to read what some of these folks are saying. There's a debate.
There's a big movement that's been underway for a couple decades, they get out front. We're social activists, we're liberals. This is who we are, this is who we should be, and this is how we ought to explain the news because, you know, that's a good thing.
And then others who seek to continue to conceal that ideology. Same ideology, pretty much, and then pretend that they are pushing news, pure news, objective news. The President and the rest of us know otherwise. Half the country knows otherwise.
You look at "The "Washington Post"." "The Washington Post" was dead a couple of years ago. It was going broke. Bezos of Amazon came and bought it, saved it for a quarter of a billion dollars. I remember when I was younger, it was worth $2 billion or $3 billion. Nobody would invest in it.
"The New York Times" was going broke. A billionaire -- a telecommunications billionaire out of Mexico bought 20 percent or so of the "New York Times" to save it. You have other institutions. CNN --
HEGSETH: Is that a product of newspapers? Or is that a product of, you think the bias that they've been exposed for or a combination thereof?
LEVIN: Probably both, but particularly the bias. And I think what's going to happen now -- look, the bottom line is, the media are destroying the free press and I want to emphasize this.
You have in the past, you have press that was partisan, they admitted it. you had press there was aligned with a party, they admitted it. You had a press it was very elitist, they admitted it. What do you have today? You have a party press, a Democratic Party press that is pushing, pretty much - - they are monopolistic in their ideology. They are very aggressive in pushing their social activism.
They're actually pushing social activism and then reporting on their own social activism, which is extraordinarily dangerous. And they've lost the respect of millions of millions of Americans.
Tell me how many businesses can survive when you've lost the respect of millions of millions of Americans? You claim to be accurate in what you're doing, but you're not producing a lot of news, you're producing a combination of news and opinion, when you're advancing a political ideology and agenda.
And nowadays, when you're spending most of your time trying to destroy a duly elected President of the United States, because he doesn't represent your ideology or your party, and you've been trying to destroy him since before he was elected President of the United States and right up to the day. People see this.
HEGSETH: Have they created the thing they then hate the most? Because when you listen to the pundits and the news types and other networks talk about it. They always point to talk radio. Guys like you, the great ones, saying, you are the one that's destroying the public conversation because of your irresponsible rhetoric on the airwaves or point to Fox News Channel in prime time. Did -- what will they then try to do to shut that next thing up?
LEVIN: I'll tell you why they do this. They do this -- and by the way, they do this exactly the same thing Democrats in Congress do. They react exactly -- it's knee jerk. They ought to be listening to talk radio, if they were serious.
We have people calling in from all over the country. They ought to be listening to Fox, your 52 percent to 48 percent according to the Shorenstein Center. And this is the problem, uniformity of ideology, conformity of approach to the news. They are very intolerant. And that's the problem with an ideologically driven business model.
And you have a business model that turns off millions and millions of people and that's why you have all these other new media platforms being developed, because you have new technologies that allow them and will have other technologies in the future.
And if the media doesn't start to reform itself, and this is one of the things I want to talk about. I don't expect the media to listen to me. But the media belong to the American people.
The First Amendment, freedom of the press belongs to the American people. If we have basically a state-run media that supports the administrative state and left-wing judges --
HEGSETH: Effectively what we have right now.
LEVIN: Effectively what we have now, it weakens the Republic. That's why we need these alternatives that need to be developed. And that's why we need to speak out more not just take it, not just take it every day. This stuff is coming through the monitor. It's coming through the radio. It's everywhere.
HEGSETH: In podcasts.
LEVIN: It's everywhere. It's the same thing all the time, same agenda all the time. They need to understand they're destroying themselves. We, in many ways want them to go away and we want to be replaced with truly free press.
HEGSETH: And a patriotic press, too, which it feels like.
LEVIN: It would be nice from time to time if they advanced the cause of the Republic. When was the last time you heard most of these anchors talk about liberty? Individualism? Private property rights? These are the things that generated and motivated the revolution in the first place as opposed to single payer healthcare, or healthcare for illegal aliens, or a Green New Deal. What do you think Thomas Paine would say by the way?
HEGSETH: I don't even want to imagine.
LEVIN: Ladies and gentlemen, don't forget, most weekdays you can watch me on LevinTV, LevinTV. Go to blazetv.com/mark, blazetv.com/mark to sign up. We'd love to have you over there or give us a call 844-LEVIN-TV, 844-LEVIN- TV. We'll be right back.
LEVIN: Pete, during the break, you were asking me about a particular section of the book.
HEGSETH: Well, the last chapter, the truth about collusion, abuse of power and character, sticks out character in a book about unfreedom of the press, why?
LEVIN: To provide context or to provide history. We've had past Presidents and you can look at the characters of some of these past Presidents. You can look at what they did. You can look at John Kennedy. John Kennedy had numerous affairs when he was in the Oval Office. Some of them were just -- they are really indescribable with a 19-year -old intern.
Before he became President of the United States, he had an affair with an East German spy. When he was President, he had an affair with a mobster's girlfriend. We're not allowed to talk about these things.
HEGSETH: And the press didn't talk about it. They knew about it.
LEVIN: The press covered it up. One of his best friends was Ben Bradlee of the Watergate fame. He was working for "Newsweek" at the time. Ben Bradlee actually received from Pierre Salinger some FBI files on groups at opposed Kennedy. Kennedy from time to time would talk to Bradlee about other people like Getty how much he paid in taxes.
They had a person, a contact at the IRS that would provide information as they wanted on their political enemies. FDR had done the same thing. Johnson did it even worse.
You know, Johnson actually had bugs placed at his own convention at Atlantic City, the Democratic Party convention, he sent the FBI in there. They bugged Martin Luther King's hotel room. He was scared to death of Robert Kennedy as a challenger. He would get reports once or twice a day and what was going on in his own Democratic convention from the FBI, a summary and I point all these things out.
Because if you're a young person and you don't know history, or apparently if you're a journalist and you don't know history, and you're reporting on the President of the United States, when you watch somebody like Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski, something like that, that we've lost, you know, a balance of powers that the President is out of control, that he is a dictator, that he is abusing power. I think to myself, how?
The media covered up for these other people and now, the media are manufacturing these pseudo events about Trump. Even look at the investigation that took place with Mueller. All documents, no privilege, there's a separation of powers, a legitimate separation of powers battle now between Trump and the Congress and he must fight it to protect the Office of the Presidency and the Executive Branch. It's a legitimate battle and they accuse him of obstruction because he's doing that.
HEGSETH: Why were they covering up for previous Presidents? Was it patriotic duty to protect the --
LEVIN: Because they liked them.
HEGSETH: Because they liked them.
LEVIN: They liked their agenda. They covered up for Franklin Roosevelt because they liked his agenda. Franklin Roosevelt really went after the media. In fact, to the extent that they were getting the telegrams that took -- with Western Union and so forth to see what some of these news operations have been saying.
Franklin Roosevelt, he put one of his operatives in as head of the FCC, and they changed the licensing rules from radio from two years where you had it to six months. So he can put the squeeze on them to make sure that they were doing quote unquote, "the right thing."
So all these things -- so I want to --
LEVIN: They didn't like Nixon. They didn't like Reagan, they didn't -- you know --
LEVIN: That's exactly right and Nixon was impeached. One of the things he was impeached for were the things that he inherited from Johnson and Kennedy, so he paid a price, they did not. So if you're pushing the progressive agenda, if you're a Democrat, if they like you, they're going to take after, even Bill Clinton. It took a long time for the media to really latch on to what he had done, his lies under oath and what he had done in the Oval Office at the time. I have a whole section on character there.
Donald Trump has been President now for two and a half years. Have you heard a single thing about any kind of moral impropriety by Donald Trump?
HEGSETH: No, but it's all you hear about all you hear about.
LEVIN: All you hear about. We'll be right back.
LEVIN: Pete, I want to thank you for coming to our bunker here.
HEGSETH: Well, what an honor. I can't believe we actually made it happen. I want to thank you. This book -- this hour is gone way too fast. We just scratched the surface. Guys, if you're watching, "Unfreedom of the Press," Mark Levin. I've read all of his books. I can't say which one is my favorite because they all are, but this one is a topic that is top of mind for everybody right now. What is the press? What does it actually mean? What is the future? You answer a lot of those questions, but I want to take the prerogative to ask one more. What is the future of the free press in America?
LEVIN: The distinction between the media in the free press, I think the future the media that is most of the current news outlets is bleak. The way they disrespect their audience, the way they deceive the American people, the way they mix opinion with news and the way they treat the American people. I think we're going to have a Renaissance. That's the goal here, a national discussion, a journey, just like the colonists did.
We need to grab hold of our Constitution, our First Amendment, and freedom of the press belongs to us and there are going to be other outlets. We have technology now, the internet and so forth, there are different platforms. And there will be technology in the future.
So I say, hold on, ladies and gentlemen, we need to be very critical of what's taking place in our country. It's undermining our Republic. But on the other hand, it creates opportunities for others, other technology. So I think freedom of the press will see a Renaissance. The mass media today, I think you'll see their self-destruction.
HEGSETH: You're taking on the medium with "Unfreedom of the Press." Mark Levin, a fantastic book. I know it'll be number one.
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