Two business groups advising the Trump administration have dissolved in the wake of President Donald Trump’s third round of comments on last weekend’s white nationalist rally in Charlottesville.
Trump failed to unequivocally condemn the Nazis who marched in Charlottesville and several days later made startling comments that were perceived as making excuses for the white nationalists. A woman died on Saturday after a white supremacist allegedly drove deliberately into a crowd of counter-protesters, killing 32-year-old Heather Heyer and injuring 19 others.
In response, business leaders withdrew their companies from two major advisory groups, the Manufacturing Jobs Initiative and the Strategy & Policy Forum. Trump has claimed that he wanted to close the two advisory councils himself.
Rather than putting pressure on the businesspeople of the Manufacturing Council & Strategy & Policy Forum, I am ending both. Thank you all!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 16, 2017
“Racism and murder are unequivocally reprehensible and are not morally equivalent to anything else that happened in Charlottesville,” Campbell Soup chief executive Denise Morrison, who was part of the Manufacturing Jobs Initiative, said on Wednesday.
If Trump had refrained from making his follow-up comments earlier this week, the jobs advisory councils probably would have stayed intact.
“That’s the problem that Donald Trump has, that he can’t constrain himself,” Bill O’Reilly said on radio Thursday.
O’Reilly and Glenn had a heated debate over the reasoning behind the business leaders’ decisions to leave the jobs council.
“If you walk away because far-left groups say to you, ‘If you don’t, we’re going to organize a boycott against your company’ … our democracy is shot,” O’Reilly asserted, saying that companies who crumble under the pressure are in the wrong.
“I agree with that; however, that’s not the world we currently live in,” Glenn objected, explaining why business leaders have no incentive to stand with Trump when it damages their company.
SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images
This is a rush transcript and may contain errors.
GLENN: Bill O’Reilly has come out with an opinion piece on Charlottesville. And I want to just read one thing: America, there is indeed a civil war underway. And the president along with his supporters will lose that war, unless they fight it smarter. Any time Nazis are involved, you condemn them and walk away. That’s all.
There will be time to expose the hard left fanatics down the road. It’s about picking your spots. It’s about an effective wartime strategy.
Bill O’Reilly, welcome to the program. Could not agree with you more, Bill. But I don’t think the president — you asked me this on your podcast two days ago, and I gave you a different answer.
When I saw what happened with Bannon yesterday, I think the president is unfortunately done. I don’t know if he recovers from this.
BILL: I don’t see it that way. When you are president of the United States, even if your opinion polling is low, you still have an enormous amount of power. And he has the ability — Trump does — to kind of isolate Bannon. And Bannon doesn’t really have anything other than the court of public opinion to fight back with.
GLENN: Okay. So hang on just a second. But Bannon came out yesterday and pretty much announced, “Hey, I’m the leaker,” talking to not only the New York Times, but the Prospect. What he said to the Prospect and the New York Times, stunning. He’s —
BILL: Well, give me an example of what stunned you in what he said.
GLENN: Let me see here: First of all, in Kim, Trump has met his match. The risk of two arrogant — no, no, no, sorry. That’s not it.
STU: No. Yeah, he said, “They’ve got us.” He said, “North Korea has got us.”
GLENN: Yeah. “They’ve got us.” He said — he said, “There is no military solution to North Korea’s nuclear threats. Forget it. Until somebody solves the part of the equation that shows me that 10 million people in Seoul don’t die in the first 30 minutes from conventional weapons, I don’t even know what you’re talking about. There’s no military solution. They’ve got us.”
Not something the president would approve of. Then he goes in to say, “I’m changing out people in East Asian defense. I’m getting hawks in. I’m getting Susan Thornton out at state. That’s a fight I have every day. And then I’m going to take on the Treasury with Cohn and the Goldman Sachs lobbying.” So he is saying basically, “Here’s my agenda, and I’m going to do these things,” while he’s saying, “The president was bluffing. We don’t have — there’s no way to win a war with North Korea, which we all know.” But you don’t say that if you’re in the White House.
BILL: All right. So you have a guy who is sending a signal because he believes he will be fired, that, you know, he’s powerful. And if you fire me, bad things are going to happen. That’s my assessment of the bluster that is —
BILL: And you agree with that, right?
GLENN: Yes, yes.
BILL: So okay. Trump’s got to make a decision. And the decision most likely will be that Bannon will be fired. And that will I think come probably next week. Because Trump can’t back down. He’s not that kind of guy anyway.
BILL: So Bannon leaves. And then Bannon basically tries to rally through Breitbart and other, you know, conservative places. Tries to rally that Trump has lost his mojo. And it’s all over.
So what? I mean, the American people aren’t going to listen to Steve Bannon, en masse. They’re not. And all Trump has to do is basically do it quickly and not say anything, not comment to what Bannon does. And then in a month, it will all be gone.
GLENN: Okay. That assumes a couple of things: One, that Donald Trump can fire somebody and then not say anything about it.
BILL: All right. But Kelly will fire him. And I’m sure that Kelly and Trump will basically have a strategy going forward. But you might be right. Trump might make a bigger deal out of it than he should, which is what happened in Charlottesville.
GLENN: So here’s the thing: As I’ve been watching the Charlottesville thing, as you said in your op-ed, you know, you got to — for the love of Pete, you’re — the Nazis, good or bad? They’re bad. White supremacists, they’re bad.
BILL: But there was never a time when Trump said they weren’t bad. That’s just propaganda crap.
GLENN: No, I know that — but wait a minute, Bill. Wait a minute. Wait a minute. Wait a minute. Out of dead sleep, you’re the president of the United States, you know you take a hard-line stance because that’s what we all believe.
BILL: Right. Right.
GLENN: And then he says, “Well, I wanted a couple of days to figure it all out.” He comes out with a statement that he’s reading. And everybody knows, those aren’t his words. I’m not saying he supports the Nazis or white supremacists. But then he comes out and says it. And then he won’t leave it alone. And then the next day, he comes out and he undoes everything.
BILL: Well, that’s — that’s the key: Leave it alone.
BILL: He doesn’t have the discipline to walk away from provocations on the far left.
Look, that’s — and that’s what I say in the column.
And, by the way, if folks want to read it, they can go to Bill O’Reilly and read it. It was also originally printed in the Hill.
But that’s the problem that Donald Trump has, is that he can’t constrain himself. All right?
BILL: His hatred or his annoyance, whatever word you want to put, is valid. I mean, the far left is trying to overthrow, not only his election, but the entire country as we discussed.
GLENN: Oh, I — I agree with you.
BILL: But you don’t bring it in when you’re talking about Nazis.
GLENN: So here’s the — so help me out with this. Because there are many things. The — the left is beyond reason with hatred of Donald Trump. And it’s never going to stop. And the press is never going to stop. I got it. I got it.
GLENN: And I think everybody knew that going in, and that’s fine. But if you’re in a war like that —
GLENN: — you have to play your cards right.
So here’s the jobs council: Merck, Under Armour, Johnson & Johnson, United Tech, Corning, GE, Intel, Campbell’s Soup — these guys — all these guys didn’t like Donald Trump. But they have fiduciary responsibility. They all walk out this week. So the president has now —
BILL: Do you know why they walked out?
GLENN: Yeah, pressure. Pressure.
GLENN: The far left.
BILL: Yes, Glenn Beck. Good.
GLENN: They have a fiduciary responsibility. They cannot have their companies — they would all be sued by their shareholders. And so I want you to know, I’m not —
BILL: Whoa, whoa, whoa. You nailed the reason, but the fiduciary responsibility comes in operating your corporation honestly. So to say that, “Oh, well, I disagreed with Trump’s analysis of Charlottesville, so I’m quitting. That’s not why they quit.”
GLENN: No. No. No. Perception is reality, Bill.
BILL: No, no, no. But you have to look — you have to understand your audience and then focus on how dangerous this is.
GLENN: Perception is reality. You’re fighting — your argument is, so you stood with the guy — perception is reality. That’s — I’m not saying this is what happened. I’m saying this is what everyone will believe and the case that will be made. And it will be swept —
BILL: No, they won’t. Look, there’s a poll out today that say 67 percent of Republicans have no problem with Trump’s analysis of Charlottesville. All right?
So you’re a CEO. You’re on the economic council.
It’s an economic council. It’s not a council on racism or Nazis or anything else. All right?
So you choose to walk away because your belief system is opposed to Donald Trump. I don’t have any problem with that. Okay? I don’t have any problem with that.
But if you walk away because far left groups say to you, “If you don’t, we’re going to organize a boycott against your company,” if you walk away because of that reason, our democracy is shot. That’s what it means to me. That’s what it means to you.
GLENN: You’re living in a dream world. You know corporations settle litigation all the time even though they’re in the right, and it is destroying our system.
BILL: But this is far beyond that.
GLENN: I know that.
BILL: This is extortion. And if American corporations are going to allow themselves to be extorted —
GLENN: Of course, they are. Tell me what —
BILL: Well, this has to be exposed.
GLENN: To what end?
BILL: Look, then every single commentator on every single television, radio, or internet program, all right? Will go out of business because nobody will sponsor them when threatened with boycotts by the far left.
GLENN: And that’s what’s happening. That’s what’s happening.
BILL: I know!
GLENN: So, Bill —
STU: Loud agreement right now.
GLENN: Okay. So wait a minute. So, Bill, hear me out here.
GLENN: You’re talking about right and wrong.
BILL: No, I’m talking about —
GLENN: Doing the right thing.
BILL: — doing the best for the country. Doing the best for the country.
GLENN: Correct. Correct. I agree with that. However, that is not the world we currently live in. And just hear this one thing out: You have the jobs council walking away. You have Steve Bannon threatening. You have the media just ripping him to shreds. And you have the G.O.P. quietly canceling all of their appearances everywhere because nobody in the G.O.P. wants to stand next to Donald Trump. He has isolated himself. And he doesn’t have the ability or the strength to be able to hold the line and to make this moral case.
I would love a president — and Ronald Reagan could have made this case. I don’t see Donald Trump having the discipline, the — the acumen to be able to make this case and withstand this storm — this ongoing storm, much of it of his own creation because of sloppiness and no discipline. How does he survive?
BILL: Well, I’m not going to disagree. But it’s speculation. All right? You’re speculating that he doesn’t have the resources or the discipline to overcome what’s befallen him. You might be right. But that’s not my job — you know, your job is different than mine.
GLENN: I don’t understand this.
BILL: But my job is to basically say to the American people, “This is what’s actually happening.” Okay? This is what’s happening.
So Trump goes out and he basically makes a big mistake by not just condemning Nazis and walking away, he brings in other matters.
BILL: And then the press takes that and says, “He’s a Nazi sympathizer.” And they run wild.
GLENN: Yep. Yep. And he is not —
BILL: No sane person believes Donald Trump is a Nazi sympathizer.
GLENN: And I don’t believe that even Steve Bannon, who I despise, is a Nazi sympathizer.
BILL: I don’t even care about Bannon. You care far more about him than I do.
GLENN: Because he’s a powerful player. Not only in the White House, but in conservative media —
BILL: I think if Trump fires him, which is likely, then in a month, that most people will even forget him.
But, look —
GLENN: That’s what they said about Van Jones. He’s now at CNN.
BILL: All right. That’s probably — Bannon will probably wind up somewhere.
Anyway, you’re speculating that Trump cannot overcome it. You might be right. You might be right.
But in the meantime, the American people should get the truth, that this walkout of this economic council was not driven by moral outrage. It was driven by fear.
BILL: Fear of economic damage caused by far left boycotts.
GLENN: Exactly right. You and I have no disagreement on that. None.
BILL: Good. Good.
GLENN: But what you’re saying is, you deal in reality. No, no, no, Bill, I deal with reality. That’s the reality. There isn’t a CEO — you show me the people who actually have a spine to stand up. So I would like people to have a spine. I try to have a spine. You try to have a spine. But none of those people have a spine.
BILL: Well, the only solution to that is transparency. Is to get out what the forces of darkness are doing. Make it easier for these CEOs not to fold. But right now, people don’t understand what the boycott situation is. Why sponsors were pulled from the O’Reilly Factor because Media Matters threatened the sponsors. They don’t understand it.
So once it’s exposed — and, of course, the New York Times is not going to expose it. They’re in on it!
GLENN: No. Yeah.
BILL: All right. But the threat to our freedom —
GLENN: I know.
BILL: — by this kind of behavior is off the charts.
GLENN: I know. I know. I agree with you.