Don’t miss Glenn Beck tonight on ABC’s 20/20 at 10 PM ET. For a sneak preview click here…
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GLENN: From Radio City in Midtown Manhattan, third most listened to show in all of America and strangely we’re proud of that. Hello and welcome. My name is Glenn Beck. John Stossel is on the phone with me. John is doing a piece on 20/20 where they followed me around for I believe 400 days and wow, what a I mean, you are going to look at this piece at the end and say what a colossal waste of time and money that was, really seriously. But he is doing a piece on me tonight and I’m going to speak in very nice tones to him because it hasn’t aired yet. Too late either way.
STOSSEL: Too late. We are going to trash you, the dirt we have found on you.
GLENN: Let me ask you something, because you really did, you guys followed me I think for three solid days, two or three solid days. Did I say anything that is going to get me fired?
GLENN: Did I say anything that made you go, "Holy cow"?
STOSSEL: Yeah. When you said that you only became a Mormon because you wanted to have sex with your wife.
GLENN: Well, that
GLENN: Can I tell you something, John? Remember in the piece I said she hits me? I got so she hit me so hard after that, she’s like, I can’t believe you said that! I said, you should have said that then! Why are you hitting me now when you didn’t do it on TV, make me look like a liar.
STOSSEL: Yeah, be better if she hit you right in front of the camera.
GLENN: I know. I would have had evidence. So John, we’ll talk about that later. It’s on tonight, 20/20. You don’t want to miss it, or you may want to miss it. I’m not really sure at this point. Only John really knows, but that is on ABC 20/20 tonight where you kind of get a glimpse of my life, a little bit of the tour. I know you guys were there for the tour. I don’t know what you included. And also me at home as well. So anyway
STOSSEL: We’re still cutting it together. So some things are going in and other things are coming out.
GLENN: Oh, boy.
STOSSEL: It is frustrating in that we did follow you for several days and our story will be about eight minutes long. Heck, you’re on TV for ten times that every day.
GLENN: Let me ask you this, John. Is this the story you expected to get?
STOSSEL: Yeah, I think it is. I mean, I
GLENN: I don’t like the way you say that.
STOSSEL: I had never seen your comedy tour before. So I don’t know all of what you do. I know you have a checkered past and I know you used to put away a lot of booze and you wrecked your career. So much of what we have on I already knew. I don’t know that all your listeners do.
GLENN: Now, let me ask you this, John. When you said "I didn’t know you did a comedy tour," I’m a little nervous just because, have you read the reviews from the New York Times, Newsweek?
STOSSEL: That was I just read them. I had never really met you before except briefly on the air and we do the interview and then I say, "Oh, the Times is covering the comedy tour, giving it great display. Maybe they got interested." And what a snarky, smarmy review. "Oh, there’s no one in the theater with me here in New York. Oh, this lady came in and, oh, she was lost." I mean, it’s like they felt they had to cover you because you’re a big hit but then they couldn’t even cover the content.
GLENN: Yeah, they couldn’t cover it honestly. Let me switch gears and go to David Letterman because it’s the same kind of thing. First of all, when it comes to people’s children, I think your children are off limits. Let’s leave politicians’ children alone, let’s leave families of anybody alone. Just leave them alone unless it’s like Bernie Madoff’s kids, you know what I mean, that are actually involved in it, or Chelsea Clinton when she was 25 and campaigning. Then, you know, you’ve got something they are bringing themselves into the story. But is it amazing to you on two stories, first the David Letterman, what the press has done to Sarah Palin, whether she is smart or dumb, this woman doesn’t have a chance of survival with the media the way it is now, does she?
STOSSEL: It’s a fatal conceit to predict what will happen, but
GLENN: Well, how do let me rephrase the question. How does somebody get a fair shake in the media, John? You’ve been in the media forever. How does somebody with a differing opinion from the elite view in New York, how do you survive?
STOSSEL: It’s very, very tough because a lot of people believe time, Newsweek and the Washington Post and New York Times and they are powerful not because they have a big audience. Their audience is a fraction of yours, but the sense all over the media and local TV hosts all copy what they read in the New York Times. You really can get totally smeared. But at least now there are so many other choices. If it was ever possible, it’s possible now.
GLENN: You’ve been following the shooting at the Holocaust museum?
STOSSEL: Only slightly. I mean, I was with you when you learned about it.
GLENN: Oh, that’s right, you were.
STOSSEL: That you turned your show upside down for it because, I don’t know. I mean, 20,000 people are killed by gunshot every day every year, sorry, and certain ones we consider much more important, a shot if it happens in a prominent place, if politicians were involved. I mean, this was one horrible, I also know why it’s such a big story.
GLENN: Here is my angle on it because I forgot you guys were following me that day and you were in the office when that happened and I found out about it and we were working in a different, completely different way for the show and we flipped it all upside down and went in that direction and here’s why. Because of what I believe is coming with the press. I think the press is I mean, have you noticed that this guy’s rightwing? I mean, that’s the way the press is he’s a rightwing zealot. Since when is rightwing somebody who hates all the Jews? When is that rightwing? That’s crazy. That’s racist. That’s not rightwing.
STOSSEL: Well, even crazy is that there are lots of people in the mainstream media who are hard right and far right, but nobody’s ever hard left or far left.
GLENN: I just, I find it amazing that the media, when the abortion doctor was killed, immediately it was Bill O’Reilly’s fault. When this guy goes and shoots, immediately, immediately it’s, you know, it’s the far right that’s doing it. When the Muslim convert, the guys goes down in, where was it, Alabama and shoots our recruiters, he’s just an isolated incident. It’s so clear the bias in the media.
STOSSEL: What’s remarkable is how so many of my colleagues would deny that. And not that they are lying. They genuinely don’t see it. They are so surrounded by people who think just as they do and they read the New York Times that they just think that’s the world, like asking a fish about water. What water?
GLENN: So this is why they just think we’re stupid because we’re just not readers or whatever it is. I can’t tell you how many things my audience has been called, you know, that we’re just not smart. I will put my audience against any audience. It is a very well read, very smart audience. And here we have these elitists whose numbers are dwindling in newspapers, magazines, television, everything. You would think somebody somewhere would say, you know what? Maybe we’re wrong. Maybe we’re wrong because nobody’s reading our crap anymore. Nobody’s doing this anymore, yet they just seem to get more and more embittered on their own point of view.
STOSSEL: But they can make a pretty good argument that they, or I should say we are losing audience not because we are saying the wrong things but because people have more choices.
GLENN: Yeah, but more choices, if you are providing what people want, they will go to it. I mean, my example is AM radio. You’ve got a lot of choices now, a ton of choices. AM radio is not easily accessible. It sounds like crap, it’s staticy, go under a bridge, blah, blah blah, but this is the place offering this kind of content. People aren’t going to go buy a magazine if you have the right content, they are not going to go buy a newspaper, but they will find they will seek out AM radio?
STOSSEL: Well, that’s a good point and you’re certainly proving your point with your ratings.
GLENN: John, I was thinking the other day, what I try to get across, and I you are probably the guy to make this point. The argument that we have about left/right in this country is so incredibly stupid because if the guy on the right is the guy who is a racist and a Nazi, a Nazi, then the guy on the left would have to be Stalin. Well, that is an argument between big government and big government. Well, I don’t want either of those and I don’t think most Americans want that, and they will say, well, I’m in the middle. Well, no, you’re not. You’re not in the middle of that. You don’t want those to be your two ends. You want big government at one end and no government on the other end. What is how do you make the case to people now that we are arguing a ridiculous argument, we have been conned into a strawman argument here of big government versus big government. The best kind of government is the smallest. It doesn’t matter. If Germany wouldn’t have had a huge government, you know, and would have rejected framework, they could have had Hitler in, but he wouldn’t have had any power to do anything, you know? It doesn’t matter if Obama is in if he doesn’t have the power to do anything. Doesn’t matter if George Bush is in if he doesn’t have the power to do anything. The smallest government is the one that is the best, but nobody seems to understand the small government idea anymore.
STOSSEL: Well, I certainly agree with you there and one of the things I’m happiest about our profile of you tonight is I got a number of lines where you make the point about the size of the state and freedom and how you don’t you are accused of being a Republican shill, but you take on both parties. But I don’t know that most Americans want that. I do. And I wish they did but it’s not intuitive. It wasn’t intuitive to me. Thomas Jefferson said it’s the natural progress of things for government to grow and liberty to yield. And I think if you ask most Americans, do you want government to make sure you’re safe, well, yeah. Do you want government to make sure that you have healthcare or you guaranteed a right to healthcare? I think most people would say, "Yes," I want government to make sure the poor are taken care of, that we had food, clothing, shelter.
GLENN: So make the case against that, John. Make the case against government healthcare.
STOSSEL: The case against government healthcare is that it would be like the motor vehicle’s experience, it would be like the post office, that it might be okay at the beginning, the eager beavers come in like the peace corps and they might do an okay job. But government always atrophies, the quality always atrophies. It took 70 years for the Soviet Union to fail. The best car the planned economies could produce was the Trabant. It was so bad you had to put the oil and gas in separately and shake the car to mix them together and yet that was the best that the government could produce and yet people think of government as, yes, they will take care of me. But it won’t get better. We won’t have innovation and eventually you’ll have horrible lines and lousy treatment.
GLENN: Yesterday the Senate approved taking over and regulating all tobacco, et cetera, et cetera, and they made this big case that this is so great because people are going to stop smoking and they are going to be able to regulate. Aren’t they paying for children’s healthcare through smokers?
STOSSEL: Well, first they don’t like it, then they were going to punish it by taxing it. But I think Americans say, "Well, we’re never going to get rid of smoking or beer. So let’s just tax it and support wonderful government."
GLENN: Yeah, but if they’re trying to also stomp it out. I mean, I think they should be running ads promoting smoking. If they are going to be getting rich off it, if they are going to be running all these government programs, they shouldn’t be trying to stomp out what’s giving them money. That’s like me going in the radio business and then going on the radio and saying radio is bad.
STOSSEL: There’s a good parallel in gambling. The Republicans have banned Internet gambling and put all kinds of restrictions on gambling in various forms but then they get elected and their states depend on the lottery for money which and they introduced the lottery because we have to get the numbers racket out of business. But the Mafia numbers runners were offering much better odds than the states do.
GLENN: How did you survive in television so long?
STOSSEL: I started as a consumer reporter bashing business and everybody liked that and so I had established my reputation, and once I woke up to the evil of regulation and big government and changed focus, I had to fight for it and it was touch and go for a while, but I had a reputation already and now ABC will often say, you know, "Well, we don’t agree with you but these are ideas that deserve to be heard."
GLENN: Did you think about editing me out of the interview tonight where my wife is sitting next to her because next to me just because I look so horrible in comparison?
STOSSEL: She does look a lot better than you do.
GLENN: I mean, I don’t I mean, you could have just said "No" to that, John. You could have
GLENN: (Laughing). I haven’t seen the piece yet, you know, but I have to say in a time where the, you know, media never does its job, you guys did an awful lot of work and very in depth and I could regret saying giving you any kind of credibility on this, you know, come, well, come tonight. But as it stands right now, I’m going to kiss your butt and say that you guys did a great job and then I’ll, of course, on Monday deny it and say these guys didn’t even do their homework, how could they possibly say they had film of me saying that, huh? Oh, boy.
STOSSEL: I’m dreading that, but it is what it is.
GLENN: I know. Thank you very much, John, I appreciate it.
STOSSEL: Thanks, Glenn.
GLENN: You bet, bye bye. John Stossel tonight on 20/20.