GLENN: Well, Ed Gillespie decided to write NBC. I have a copy of the letter but I would rather just have Ed just explain the meaning of the letter, why you wrote the letter, what your concerns were. Hi, Ed, how are you?
GILLESPIE: I’m fine, Glenn, thanks for giving me a chance to have your listeners hear about this.
GLENN: Sure. NBC, first of all — well, let’s start at the beginning. Tell me about the letter. What was your problem at the White House?
GILLESPIE: Well, what NBC did was we granted them an interview over in Egypt to talk about, you know, the peace process and Iran and other subjects and they raised this bogus notion that the President, in asserting U.S. policy in his speech to the Knesset which he said that our policy is to stand by Israel as a friend in the Middle East, our policy is to not allow Iran to obtain a nuclear weapon, our policy that we don’t negotiate with terrorists like Hamas and Hezbollah and Al-Qaeda and the Obama campaign said that was an attack on Barack Obama, which it was absolutely not. It was a statement of U.S. policy. Those are the President’s policies. They have been for a long time. And so when Angle asked the question, Angle, the reporter for NBC, asked the President that question, the President said, well, no, you got that — you know, you got that wrong; read the speech. And he said, you know — he started by saying, my policies haven’t changed, maybe the political calendar has, but read the speech; you got that wrong. And then went on to talk about Iran.
Well, NBC news cut, selectively edited out the part where he said, "Read the speech," you didn’t get that exactly right is actually how the President put it. And in the edit they cut to a shot of Angle himself and then back to the President with the, you know, with the line about the, you know, what I actually said was about Iran, talking to Iran. And they made it look like he was affirming the premise of the question when, in fact, he had rejected explicitly the premise of the question and they masked the edit.
GLENN: Okay. Let me read exact — word for word, Jim Angle said, you said negotiating with Iran is pointless and then do we have the audio? Give me the edited, please. Here’s the edited first.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
VOICE: Negotiating with Iran is pointless. And then you went further. You said that it was appeasement. Were you referring to Senator Barack Obama?
PRESIDENT BUSH: You know, my policies haven’t changed but evidently the political calendar has. And when, you know, a leader of Iran says that they want to destroy Israel, you’ve got to take those words seriously.
VOICE: A lot of Iran’s empowerment –
(END AUDIO CLIP)
GLENN: Okay. Now, listen to what he actually said.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
VOICE: You said that negotiating with Iran is pointless and then you went further. You said that it was appeasement. Were you referring to Senator Barack Obama? He certainly thought you were.
PRESIDENT BUSH: You know, my policies haven’t changed but evidently the political calendar has. People need to read the peach. You didn’t get it exactly right, either. What I said was, is that we need to take the words of people seriously and when, you know, a leader of Iran says that they want to destroy Israel, you’ve got to take those words seriously.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
GLENN: Why would they do this?
GILLESPIE: Why would they do? I think it’s because they want to affirm the notion that anytime the President states a policy — and they will start with this one, that, you know, it’s our policy, like I said, to stand by Israel and not allow Iran to obtain a nuclear weapon, don’t negotiate with terrorists, that’s a policy apparently that someone disagrees with. The media will treat it and the Obama campaign will treat its an attack on an individual when it is absolutely not. When the President says raising taxes will harm the American economy, that’s not an attack on anyone, it’s not an attack on Nancy Pelosi or Harry Reid or others who disagree with that point of view. When the President says that we should be able to drill in an environmentally sensitive way in ANWR in the northern slope of Alaska to meet the demands for oil in this country domestically rather than relying on foreign sources of oil, those who disagree with that, that’s not an attack on them. And the notion that you can say, you know, that the, any campaign or the media can say that the President asserting his policies of this administration somehow translate into an attack on someone is a premise we’re just not going to accept.
GLENN: So he said it was fitting that I talked about not taking the words of Adolf Hitler seriously with you also talk about the need to defend Israel, et cetera, et cetera, and not to negotiate with the likes of Al-Qaeda, Hezbollah and Hamas. When Barack Obama responded to this, he said it was an outrage that the only person’s policies that had made the world more dangerous was George Bush. So wasn’t Barack Obama, in fact, without taking him out of context, doing exactly what he was blaming on the President and saying the President shouldn’t do?
GILLESPIE: Well, and, of course, it’s been awfully hard for Senator Clinton to get much attention in the midst of all this. But look, they are free to campaign to do what they need to do to get the nomination, Senator Clinton and Senator Obama. And that’s fine, but the fact is the President of the United States is the President of the United States through January 20 of 2009 and he is going to make the case for U.S. policy. And we’re going to do that. And people are free to disagree with it, but it’s not an attack and it shouldn’t be portrayed as such.
GLENN: You also went in with something else on NBC and you asked them about their coverage of calling Iraq a civil war. Can you explain this part?
CALLER: Well, you may remember back in November of 2006, there was this very public hand wringing and, "Oh, we’ve looked at this very carefully and, you know, we know that the U.S. Government and the Iraqi government disagree with this, but we are declaring today that Iraq is in a sectarian civil war and that our troops are in the midst of a civil war there. Well, Glenn, as you well know, the unity government there in Iraq is a government of moderate Shia and moderate Sunni. They have been routing out extremist Sunni and extremist Shia in that country, ethnosectarian violence is down. In November of 2006, NBC made this very public announcement that this was their determination. And then in around September of 2007 after the effect of the surge had kicked in and the Iraqi government started making progress and passing laws, they quietly dropped it. And my question to them was a simple one: Have you declared an end to the civil war and you just haven’t said so? Is the civil war over in Iraq in your view? We never thought there was one? Or were you wrong in declaring it in the first place? Just a little clarity, please. Can you publicly tell us about your deliberations and where that decision stands.
And then secondly — or thirdly, I should say, when the last quarter GDP numbers came out and showed that we had growth of 6/10ths of a percent in the first quarter, they said if you believe the government numbers, you know, we’re just — you know, they came out and, you know, officially declared that we’re just short of a recession. Well, that’s not what the Department of Commerce said. And are there other numbers that we should believe? Is there a reason we shouldn’t believe the Government numbers? I would like them to clarify that. There a reason that the government numbers shouldn’t be believed. So look, you know, I’ve had a concern with NBC news for some time. I’ve expressed it privately to them. My concern is that, you know, the likes of commentators and quotes when really they’re advocates.
GLENN: No, they’re journalists. They’re not commentators. They’re journalists.
GILLESPIE: On MSNBC. Like Christopher Matthews and Keith Olbermann who are, you know, left wing attack, you know, part of a left wing view of the world, which is fine. You know, they’re labeled as commentators in that arena. But I worry that the commingling that you see and the blurring of the lines between NBC broadcast division and the NBC commentary division is constantly blurred and you now see the news anchors and others sitting down with Olbermann and Matthews on election nights talking to them like, you know, they are Edward R. Murrow.
GLENN: Yeah. You know, it’s very interesting because I do not call myself a journalist. Keith Olbermann will. I don’t call myself a journalist. I’m not a journalist, even though the San Francisco Chronicle called me one and we had an argument about it. But I’m not a journalist, nor would I anchor the coverage on CNN for the election and do it in a serious sort of way.
GLENN: Wouldn’t do it. I’ll give you commentary about the election.
GILLESPIE: Sure, absolutely.
GLENN: But I’ll let you know it’s commentary. They have intentionally blurred the lines over there.
GILLESPIE: They have and I don’t think it’s in their interest. I don’t think it’s in the public’s interest and I don’t think it’s in their interest.
GLENN: Here’s the thing. I don’t know if you’ve been following what Bill O’Reilly has been saying about how GE is profiting by selling things over to Iran. You also have GE, the largest, with the largest lobbying group on Capitol Hill being green week. They are burying agendas like crazy. It is not a possible if you come out and say, look, GE makes a ton of money and, in fact, we have the biggest lobbying group down in Capitol Hill and we believe in green energy; by the way, we own NBC and so we’re pulling these together. That’s fine, but nobody’s ever disclosing this stuff. And it’s really dangerous.
GILLESPIE: Well, like I say, Glenn, I think the concern of this blurring of the lines between the commentary side and the news side is a legitimate one. I don’t think it’s in their interest and I hope they will respond by the way, their response to the concern about the mass editing that your listeners just heard and if you see it, you see they mask the edit. They hide it so you would think that the President didn’t have those three sentences in between. The fact is they say the response was, well, if people want to see that, they can go on the MSNBC.com website and download it.
GLENN: You know what, we edit for time on television, we edit but you put a white flash between the edit so you know there’s an edit there.
GILLESPIE: Yeah. And you don’t entirely alter the meaning of the response. They edited it in a way to make it seem like he was saying, yeah, good point.
GLENN: Let me ask you this question because it bothered me with Barack Obama, it bothered me with Hillary Clinton that the extreme left has taken on Fox News and they won’t even play ball with Fox News. They are trying to blackball Fox News and put them out of business by choking off any information from the left side of the aisle. Thus cutting themselves off from half of the population. I mean, there are Democrats and Republicans that watch Fox News just like there is on CNN. The demographics may be skewed and the psychology of the people may be skewed a little bit differently or the political landscape is different, but there’s still a great number of people that go over there and I believe that Fox tries to be somewhat fair and balanced. While their journalists clearly or their commentators are clearly conservative, nobody in Washington is trying to — or the Democrats are trying to blackball Fox by not going on any debates, et cetera, et cetera. You don’t see Republicans doing that to NBC, do you?
GILLESPIE: No, and sometimes I question why. It is beyond me frankly. As you know I’m a former chairman of the Republican national committee and this is my own view. I don’t know in they would hold debates sponsored by Chris Matthews, but they do. So they have not taken that step in the way of the –
GLENN: I mean, if you can’t — you’re saying, I want to be able to sit down with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad but I can’t sit down with Chris Matthews, you shouldn’t be the President of the United States. You know what I mean?
GILLESPIE: Glenn, I don’t want to be pulled into the, you know, into the campaign debate.
GLENN: No, no.
GILLESPIE: We have our plate pretty full dealing with congress and working through policies and happily not in the political arena right now but I think your point is a fair one.
GLENN: Yeah. I don’t want to — I’m not trying to get you to comment on that. What I’m saying is please don’t let the Republicans go down the same road that apparently the Democrats are doing and that is you don’t — you just don’t say I’m not talking to this group of people over here.
GILLESPIE: Well, look. I think that’s a fair point. Your point is that, you know, the news side of Fox, which I do think is — let me tell you, you know, I’ve been — have had my fair share of interviews from the Fox News people and they are tough as nails.
GILLESPIE: I mean, you prepare with an interview for Fox News in the same way you prepare for one with CNN or NBC or any of the others.
GILLESPIE: Because they are out to make news and they are out to ask the hard questions. Now, in terms of their commentators, you know, like you said, they are clearly identified as commentators and that’s fair game. But, you know, to me I don’t — I believe that Christopher Matthews and Keith Olbermann are commentators. Actually they are advocates and I don’t think you can kind of take your advocate hat off and say, okay, for the next hour I’m going to be a newsman and I’m going to be an objective journalist. And then when that’s over, you know, go and put your advocate hat Bock on and launch all this vitriol against the President and other Republicans.
GLENN: You say you prepare for interviews with Fox. You didn’t prepare to this one, did you?
GILLESPIE: I did, by the way.
GLENN: We’re out of time. Ed, thanks a lot.
GILLESPIE: Thanks, Glenn.