tv QA with Bill Press CSPAN February 22, 2016 6:00am-7:01am EST
for twice, and glad i did, but announcing measures or making arguments, or taking moves that betrayed the promise he had made to progressives, and not what i thought a progressive president should be doing. shouldhought, somebody tell that story. and then i remember the president that on more than one occasion, hold me accountable. he said, hold me accountable. so i think it is fair as we near the end of his presidency, told him accountable. brian: how long ago? mr. press: about a year and a half. brian: you became an intern in bernie sanders' office in 2010 at your age.
[chuckling] brian: why? mr. press: that's a long story, i'm not sure we have time. during that time i have to say, bernie and i never talked about barack obama, or any disappointment in barack obama. i'm not sure where you are going, i want to make that clear. the reason i did it because i had applied -- i was a member of the white house press corps. i had a standing white house pass, went to the briefings every day. i got out of that for my own program, because i could ask questions. i thought i could expand that opportunity by getting a press credential of the u.s. capitol. i applied, and i was told i had to appear before the full senate reporters accreditation committee, because there were questions about whether or not i qualified. i was told because i gave my opinion -- actually first, i was turned down because i gave my opinion on my show.
i am a talk show host, of course i give my opinion. i pointed out there were others on the press corps already who i thought should be disqualified. so they gave me a hearing in front of the full accreditation committee. the vote was 12-1 against me. al jazeera voted against me. fox news voted against me. i had one vote, from c-span, i'm proud to say. brian: is that right? right.'s at that point, somebody told me that they had heard, they suggest that i should apply for an intern position. so, i called michael briggs, senator sanders' press secretary, now the campaign secretary. we talked, he suggested it to the senator. i went over and met with the senator, and he hired me as an intern. i had more access -- it was a way of getting back at the senate credential committee, and
the reporters there. i had more access than they did with my intern pass. brian: so are you still in intern? mr. press: no, i did it for one year. brian: how well do you know bernie sanders when you were an intern? mr. press: i didn't at all. i had lunch with him once. which is kind of another long story. i am a radio talkshow host, progressive talkshow host. we haven't had a lot of trouble with stations dropping progressive radio, not enough stations in the country running progressive or willing to take on progressive radio as part of programming. we thought that the fcc ought to put pressure on stations to have a variety of voices and opinions. there was just a couple of senators willing to take that on.
byron from north and bernieone, sanders was one. i met him with another group of radio talkshow hosts. that was the only way i knew him. and then i got a call from his office, saying he wanted to have lunch with me. so i came over. that was the only time, the first time i had seen him one-on-one. we went to lunch in the senate dining room, which was also very funny, because it was the first time senator sanders had ever been in the senate dining room. he doesn't -- you know, he's not part of that crowd, right? we went over to the senate, and the subway from the senate office building, and we went up
to whatever floor it was, and we got off the elevator. bernie turned to me and said, do you know where the dining room is? i had no idea. we had to ask a police officer where the dining room was. and then the maitre d' in charge of the dining room did not recognize senator sanders. he had never seen him before. probably more than you wanted to know. brian: the reason i ask, there is controversy over the fact that on the back of the book, this was all about how progressives don't like bill clinton, barack obama. i think i saw you, you are watching television and one of the shows asked, if bernie sanders does not like barack obama. why did he endorse your book? mr. press: the question was asked on meet the press, asked
by anderson cooper in the cnn town hall, and bernie has been asked that question many times. first of all, the blurb is totally harmless. it does not endorse the book. the blurb really repeats a point he makes in every speech, which is twofold. one, we need a political revolution. that is his phrase. and that political revolution means progressives have to keep the pressure on the next president, who we hope will be a progressive and democrat, to stick to the progressive agenda and follow it through, and not compromise, and that the president has a responsibility
to rally the progressives to keep the pressure on him, and put the pressure on congress. which is again, why i think the timing of this book is important. i think we are on the cusp of a progressive revolution. i consider both bernie sanders and hillary clinton progressives. one of them is going to be the next president, i believe. now is a good time to take stock, and say, ok how does this guy do that we thought it was a real progressive, how did we learn from that experience as we move to the next administration? delivery.get a better brian: you called president obama in your book, hamlet like. mr. press: yeah, meaning -- hard time making a decision, maybe taking too much time. it is both a blessing and a curse, maureen dowd had a great phrase. she says we went from george w. bush to barack obama, we went from mindless certainty, too mindful uncertainty.
maybe somewhere in between is where we want to be. but for example, when syria used chemical weapons, and president obama had said, we are not going to intervene, and we are not going to use military force or send in troops, unless he uses chemical weapons. that is a redline. he said it. said it.said he never it. i was there. and then, it was agony. should we do this? i think that it diminished the power of his decision when he finally -- in the end, we did not do it because of a deal with the russians. rid syria said they'd get
of the chemical weapons. it was the same thing when the president was decided to send in anymore troops into iraq towards the end of the conflict. i was sitting in the briefing room every day. it went from we are going to do it, we are not going to do it, send this many, it is just the agony of making a decision. this is why i used that phrase. hamlet-like. brian: do you endorse bernie sanders? mr. press: yes. but nothing against -- brian: bernie sanders is saying, we will pay for college education and all that, and we got the money from taxing the rich. mr. press: he doesn't say that exclusively.
brian: here's my point. nobody talks about the point that the minute he is president, and he talks about the tax, it has to go to the ways and means committee in the house of representatives. the leader is a conservative from texas, with a tremendous amount of power. why would you expect bernie sanders to be able to move that, when barack obama could not move it in the same world? mr. press: i think that has to deal with the revolution. i think that is what bernie is saying. if the american people really want change -- i think they do. i think bernie sanders and donald trump have tapped into something very real, that the political establishment and media establishment missed. and i know, the latest talking point of the clinton campaign is, bernie is just angry, and you just don't get anywhere by being angry. i don't think he's angry so much as determined. but the american people are angry, angry that they had been left out, and the system has been rigged against them, and it has been that way for 40 years
and no one has done anything about it. so what bernie is saying, bernie recognizes, and he is a realist, he has been in the house for 16 years. he recognizes the difficulties. he thinks that is his agenda, and if he can rally the american people to turn out and elect people to go along with him, or put pressure on the others to say we have to right this ship, we can get it done. but bernie would also raise taxes on the middle class, which he has been honest about. brian: how many years have you been in washington now? since 1996. brian: how many years have you had your daily talk show? mr. press: 10 years.
brian: where can people listen? mr. press: on any progressive radio station in the country, if they are lucky to have one. there are only maybe 50 total left in the entire country. we're there. they can listen to it online. billpressshowonline.com. we stream it, 6:00-9:00 a.m. eastern time. if people on the west coast are not up early, they can just go to the website, and listen to the podcast. they can pick up part of the show, one interview, or the whole three hours. by the way, in the archives, they can go back as long as we have been podcasting, at least a couple of years. 15,could listen to july 2013, for whatever reason if you
wanted to. brian: you are older than bernie sanders? mr. press: by one year. [laughter] why would you ask that? brian: well, i am going to ask it that way. for this reason. why do you get up at 4:00 in the morning to do a 6:00 a.m. show, why do you stayed up late to be doing a show on cnn? a man at your age should be retired. why do you do it? mr. press: i love it. i think it is the best job in the world. ever since high school, and i talk about this in the book, ever since being on the debate team, i love debating the issues and studying the issues. i loved writing about them, or talking about them. my entire media crew, that started in 1980, was the commentary. careerntire media 1980.d in
it was commentary. i auditioned once as an anchor, and i realized that i did not want that job. they just report news. i wanted to talk about what it meant. good or bad. i get to give my opinions, and i get paid for it. i enjoy it. when i stop having fun or enjoying it, i will stop. brian: you can write books, write a column, gives speeches around the country, the or talk show. on television, right? mr. press: i am cnn's newest and oldest contributor. brian: let me go to some video. this is way for you to talk
about what you think about barack obama and this book. we are going to go way back to august 1, 2007. [video clip] pres. obama: i will provide our intelligence and life was made agencies with the tools they need to talk and take out terrorists, without the need to undermine the constitution and freedom. that means no more illegal wiretapping of american citizens. no more national security letters despite spy on citizens not suspected of a crime. no more tracking citizens who do nothing more than protest a misguided war. no more ignoring the law when it is inconvenient. brian: he was running, kind of then. mr. press: look how young he looks. no gray hair, he just looks much older today. i guess we all do. my reaction? promise made, promise broken. the national security area is one area where progressives had the highest hopes, and had their hopes dashed the most. almost everything the president mentioned, he either failed to do, or did the opposite. on these issues, there is not -- there is no difference between
george w. bush, dick cheney, and barack obama. we expected, that was the one area -- he promised that this was the one area he would stop these practices, like the nsa spying on americans, going after whistleblowers or journalists, and protecting our privacy. he didn't do it. as i mentioned in the book, as a senator, he was one of the most outspoken critics of the nsa. he and senator ron wyden from oregon with the two who introduced legislation and gave speeches, we have to reign in our intelligence agencies. we cannot have this massive spying on american citizens. the first time senator ron wyden went to see his colleague in the oval office, he was stunned to find out that the president now is on the exact opposite side, basically saying we have to let the nsa do their thing.
it is the old needle in the haystack. which i think it is bogus. the haystack is so big you will the needle. so the president has allowed the nsa to expand the eavesdropping on americans. every single phone call made, domestic and foreign. also allow them to spy on our e-mail. still mapping all of this data and still storing it somewhere. the government has it. and so, you know, it is on and on. as i say, in terms of journalists, this administration went after the new york times, went after fox news, associated press, actually tapped the phones of the associated press
reporters who were doing nothing else than their job. is just outrageous. asan page from usa today, very well respected journalist here in washington, d.c., said, for the media, this is the most dangerous administration ever. brian: here is march 4, 2008, still running for president. [video clip] president obama: we are going to have doctors, nurses, members of congress, patient advocates. i will have the drug companies at the table, they just won't be able to buy every chair. i want input and we will have to make compromises. but here's the point. we will do all these negotiations on c-span, said the american people will be able to watch these negotiations. openness, transparency. you will hold me accountable, will hold congress accountable. that is how we will get health care reform passed. mr. press: hold me accountable.
i just did, in the book. brian: why did you wait so long? mr. press: i guess it just took time to build. i couldn't really answer that. but i did not deliberately say i'm going to wait until your -- year number eight. by the way, hold me accountable, i talk about that promise, about negotiations on c-span. they were not. they were behind closed doors. there were many cases where the insurance companies and pharmaceutical companies did purchase every chair at the table. look, obamacare is his signature legislative achievement. it is one of the good things that he has done. it just does not go far enough. what it really ends up -- it is again, as close to universal health care as we have ever had, but there are still 30 million americans who do not have health insurance, and according to the office of management and budget,
may never have health insurance under this plan. the pharmaceutical companies, we still cannot negotiate with them for medicare to get lower cost of drugs. we still cannot import drugs from canada, legally. the insurance companies, this is their big payday. every single american under this act is required to purchase insurance from a private insurance company. there's no other product, they don't have to buy a car, or a house. we don't have to buy socks or underwear. you have to buy health insurance. brian: let me quote from your book. you are talking about a man
named billy tozan, he was a democrat, and then a republican congressman, and headed big pharma. the same man who barack obama excoriated as everything wrong, he did what? mr. press: he cut a deal, that if they did advertisements on behalf of, or maybe did not oppose obamacare, that they would let him off the hook in terms of price of drugs. this is basically a faustian the president made. brian: here is a short clip -- mr. press: can i say one more thing? the other thing is, the president recognized there was a real problem with this, in that it was making us too dependent on private insurance companies, so he came up with an idea called public plan option. basically medicare for everyone. he convinced me, and americans, this is the way we will have the public option. you don't have to buy private, you can enroll in medicare no matter what age. that would provide competition to private insurance, and lower cost. it was necessary for
competition, to lower cost. and then suddenly, he dropped it. never brought it to congress, it was not part of the bill. brian: would you agree if bernie sanders were elected, and there was a republican congress, he would not be able to do this either? mr. press: i don't agree with that. brian: why? mr. press: bernie sanders would at least have fought, so it lyndon johnson and fdr. barack obama did not. that is one of the faults i have with him. there are too many cases. he did not fight and lose, heat -- he was not even willing to fight. brian: i was starting to say, a clip, steve kroft on 60 minutes. let's watch. [video clip] >> there are a number of things you could do on executive orders. one of them is to shut down guantanamo. pres. obama: i have said repeatedly i intend to close it and i will follow through. brian: you say he had the power
to do that all along. mr. press: if you remember, that was his first executive order. i don't know now whether it was an executive order, but it was his first. -- it was announced going to be closed in january 2009. he said guantanamo will be closed in one year. january 2010. he was not able to do it, and did not do it. so then the plan became we will hold on until we can get the population down below 100. at that point, it will not be from a monetary point of view, even the conservative congress will say, this is not worth spending money to keep this -- those few people there and they will allow them to be brought to the u.s. he hasn't done that yet. if he were to do it, the white house says he could do it because the authorization for guantanamo originally says they can keep prisoners there as long as hostilities remain.
who decides as long as hostilities remain? they say the white house does. so, the president will be able longer haveo hostilities against al qaeda, so we can close guantanamo. he has had that power. he never used it. i think it is a case that the president, in too many cases, was not willing to make the fight or use the power he has, i come back to the hamlet line. almost a reluctant to -- a reluctance to take full advantage of the power of the president. brian: he spoke to the national council of la raza conference in july of 2008. in which he made this commitment. [video clip] president obama: i don't know about you, but i think it is time for a president who will not walk away from something as important as comprehensive reform is because it becomes politically unpopular. that is the commitment i'm making to you.
i marched with you in the streets of chicago. i fought for you in the senate. and i will make it a top , priority in my first year as president of the united dates of -- states of america. brian: immigration, did he do it? mr. press: he's so good at that platform. he is so good. you can see why he got that. but, he did not. i have a whole chapter on this. this is one area that he has still not delivered. for the first four years, nothing on immigration reform. nothing. the latino community was really -- they expected a lot more. i mean -- it was all obamacare, all obamacare. nothing about immigration reform. finally, on the fifth year, he kind of came up with a plan, a couple of executive orders, which now are being challenged. but he missed the opportunity in
the first two years when democrats were in control. they could have gotten the immigration reform plan. either he walked away from it, or for whatever reason, that was not a priority. as he said here in this speech. not only that, he not only failed to deliver on comprehensive immigration reform, but he now has the title from the latino community of the d porter -- deporter in chief. as we sit here, the department of homeland security is rounding up people, breaking up families, breaking into homes, and deporting people. he has deported more people in the last couple of years than george bush did in eight years. so, you know it is promising , comprehensive immigration, but not delivering, and having this draconian round up of people who are here, and family members here, leaving some here in sending the others back, that has the latino community very outraged.
brian: does it ever concern you that there are all of these illegals in the united states that we are paying for, and that they have broken the law to get here? and why is it that so-called progressives feel that they ought to stay here and eventually become citizens, and so-called conservatives want them out? mr. press: first of all, as a californian, i have been dealing with this issue for the last 30 years. either when i was working for governor brown, when i was just -- first time around, i should say. when i was working the media in los angeles. southern california. very familiar with this problem. when i was democratic state chair, this was an issue in --tewide politics and
statewide politics in california. there has been study after study, including the california business roundtable, looking at this question, whether or not people here illegally cost more than they contribute. every one of those studies has shown the myth that we are paying more than we are getting. it is a myth, in terms of taxes, and contribution. they are making a positive contribution, just like the immigrants who came before them. so, and then the other thing is i think, where progressives and up on this issue is where ronald reagan and up on this issue. wasn't 1980, it forget exactly what year, but during his eight years he proposed a plan. 5 million people were here eagerly. -- were here illegally. ronald reagan said, these people came here illegally, but their families are here, they have
jobs, but they are to -- they have children, they are going to school. we are not going to get rid of them. he called it amnesty. for him, it was 5 million. for president obama, it is 11 million. i think the argument is the same. you are not going to send them all back. recognize they're going to build a better america and have a path for them.hip brian: you point out in your book that the last three presidential elections, that the republicans are getting less and less percentage of the vote from the hispanic community. if the hispanic community is so upset with barack obama, why did they vote almost overwhelmingly for him last time? mr. press: the saving grace for barack obama and democrats on this issue is republicans are worse. democrats may be ignoring them and have ignored them in terms of making them a priority, president obama is doing this deportation, and then you have mitt romney.
the republicans have declared war on the immigrant community. look at donald trump, look at ted cruz, even mitt romney who talked about self-deportation. as you recall after the 2012 election, in the committee'sational own study and analysis of what went wrong in 2012, they concluded that unless the republican party took the lead in immigration reform, they could never win the white house. and yet here we are, for years -- 4 years later and what are they doing? the same old stuff. brian: i want to take a short break from the obama clips, and show you i think it is four or five talk hosts in the united states. mr. press: you have to watch out
for those talkshow hosts. [laughter] brian: these are all conservative. i think if you add their salaries up, it is in the millions. they are very popular, they have the highest rating in the country, and since the beginning of the obama administration they have probably never set a good word about this president from the very beginning. i want you to listen to this, and tell me what you are hearing here. [video clip] >> mr. president, if you actually believe that global warming is the biggest problem we face was terror all around the world, and $18 trillion debt, $9 million of which is yours, riots in our streets, riots in our universities campus. race relations worse than the 1960's, and the distress of our fellow americans unlike anything i have ever seen, you either are delusional or you are the dumbest son of a pitch on the planet.
>> millions of americans have lost their homes because of obama's policies. millions of americans have more -- have lost their savings because of obama's policies. millions of americans are losing their pensions because of obama's policies. millions of americans do not know it yet, but they are going to lose their health care thanks to obama's policies. >> when is the last time this guy talked about entrepreneurship, and private property rights? and self interest? and individual well and free will? never. government, government, government. power, power, power. >> i looked firsthand at how bad that crisis is. we are being invaded by illegals from rogue states hellbent on destroying our way of life.
mr. obama, it is time for you to stand up. it is time for you to lead. >> obama has declared war on traditional values and dominant culture. what me to spell it out for you? i already did. we are in a civil war. it is not yet a shooting war, but it is a civil war. eric holder and those surrounding them, these hooligans who have seized power, have declared on america. brian: they all have very high ratings. why? mr. press: to your first question, what do i hear? lies. pretty, i think, disgusting disrespect for the president of the united states. you know, you will not find any words like that to in this book. you will not find any words like that in the book i wrote about
george w. bush in 2004. brian: the white house were sitting here, they went saying that is certainly has twisted and turned everything against this president. just like they did. mr. press: i think they would have a hard time making that case. i am the author of the book, so certainly some bias, but there are 60 pages of notes that backup every statement i make. nobody yet, the white house is not happy with the title of the the, they're not happy with fact that i wrote the book. but nobody has challenged one fact that is in this book. i lay it out, and give president obama credit for every good thing he has done. did you hear any credit at all in the videotape? none. it is all lies. millions of americans have not lost their homes. millions of americans have not lost their pensions. there are 18 million people who could never afford insurance before who have it today thanks
to president obama. no, this is just pure propaganda. what is frightening about this, and that is what i lay out in the book, what is frightening is that there are millions of americans who believe these jokers, just like the millions of americans who believe donald trump, that he can build a wall and mexico is going to pay for it. and if mexico would ever pay for it or that would solve the problem. you have a top four in the country, and there are people and that is the sole source of information. brian: i want to go back to the book. this president and his people would say, we have been up against this for six years, a republican congress that set out to say we want to make you a one -term of president, and any time he proposes something and put up their hands and say no way.
wouldn't it you give up after that? mr. press: no, you don't give up. why did you get elected if you are not going to fight the fight? no doubt about it, at least for the last six years he has had a congress that is dead set against getting anything done. a couple of points. why didn't he do more when he had the democratic control of the congress? why didn't he do more to keep democrats in control of congress? the members of congress i have talked to feel that he lets them down, because he was not out on the campaign trail, he was not backing them up. did not have their back. and you know, the president's job is to get things done, working with congress. one of the problems the president has had is that he has not reached out to congress. he has not made any friends.
most members of congress, most of them say they do not have any relationship with him at all. he does not invite them down like bill clinton used to do for movies or dinners or receptions. so, there was no reservoir of goodwill, even among democrats. i quote congresswoman jackie speers on that. when he was trying to get the immigration bill passed, even among democrats, bill clinton, it can be done. bill clinton got more done when it was the same thing, he lost control congress after two years. he got more done when it was republicans in control than democrats, because he worked with them. the even that newt gingrich, the speaker. bill clinton got things done. lbj, the civil rights bill, democrats may be against him, but he did not give up. he broke their arms and got it done. brian: would you vote for bill clinton again?
did you vote for him twice? mr. press: i did, and he let us down on several issues. don't ask don't cap -- don't ask don't tell, bill clinton. defense of marriage act, bill clinton. repealed glass-steagall act, bill clinton. for bad moves. brian: what do you think of mrs. clinton? mr. press: i think she is much more liberal. i think she is much more cautious, and may be more willing to compromise and bernie -- they and bernie sanders. she is not as far left as i or bernie sanders is. i do not think she would be willing to take the country as far as bernie sanders. as far as it has to go and bernie sanders would take it. brian: why do you call yourself a progressive and not a liberal? mr. press: i am a liberal.
i don't mind calling myself a liberal. brian: why does that happen? mr. press: in a sense, don't ask me. i mean, i always gave speeches saying i am a liberal, i am proud i am a liberal. today everybody uses the word progressive, so why fight it. liberal, proud to say it. progressives are those who are afraid of that term because republicans have made such a deal of it. i'm not afraid of it. brian: let's go back to july 17, 2009. another issue. president obama talking about opportunities, not just for african-americans, but all americans. let's watch. [video clip] president obama: that is why my administration is working so hard not only to create and save jobs in the short term, not only to extend unemployment insurance and health for people who have lost their health care in this crisis. not just to stem the immediate economic record, but to lay a
new foundation of economic growth and prosperity for not as african americans, but all americans. [applause] all americans. of every race, of every creed, from every region of the country. we want everybody to participate in the american dream. that's what the naacp is all about. mr. press: you guess. i quote that speech in the book. i am not the right one to sit here and talk about where president obama has disappointed the african-american community. but those i talked to, i reflect in the book where there was the hope on the part of many leaders that he would be willing to directly address those problems
affecting the african-american communities, especially like unemployment among young black men particularly. like sentencing of so many young prisonen serving long sentences for very minor, nonviolent drug offenses. and, i remember at the briefings on urban radio, they would sometimes raise these issues. and the answer always was, which you find in his answer to, which they find very frustrating, they would always talk about the issues, where he was saying, i am not just doing this for african-americans, is for all americans. hard to argue with unless you are an african-american who has not had the attention the community deserved for a long time. the firstnally get african-american president, and
he loves them in with everyone else. i would say it is the area where president obama has most disappointed people, but i was surprised and talking to african-americans that even they feel let down by their first president. brian: on december the 16th, 2012, this is the president talking about newtown. president obama: since i've been president, this is the fourth time we have come together to comfort a grieving community torn apart by mass shootings. the fourth time we have hunks -- we have consoled survivors. we cannot tolerate this anymore. the strategies must end. to end them, we must change. mr. press: i think the most moving speech that president obama gave as president was
three different ones. in tucson, when gabby giffords was shot. werethe little angel's mowed down in their first great faster. carolinaarleston south , at the mother emmanuel church. there is no more important issue for the access to guns in this country. 30,000 people killed every year by gun violence. i know that president obama feels that, too. but here we are, at the end of his presidency, and nothing has been done. in the first two years, and the first four years, nothing about gun violence. and, i will just give you one example. i kept, as a reporter at the white house, i would raise the issue with jay carney and others, what is the president doing about the ban on assault rifles? they would say, he supports renewing the ban.
no, what is he doing? he will sign it, but he wasn't doing anything to work to get it done. brian: what makes you think he could get anything done if the nra is for a powerful and the republicans do not want to move on that? mr. press: they are not as popular as they say. congress is just cowardly. in together and, one of the things the president never did was go around and say, we are going to get this done. rallying the american people. how teddy roosevelt and frank roosevelt used it to you that -- to go out and get the people, not just exercise but get them to and demand action. likeresident was never that. it was always, if congress
passes it, i will sign it. that is not leadership on this issue. it's very sad. eric holder has said the one regret he has is when he left office they had not done anything about gun violence. i'm sure when president obama leaves office he will say the same thing. that is eight years wasted. senseyears without common measures that he has proposed, none being an active. -- enacted. brian: when was the first time you knew that bernie sanders was even thinking about running for the presidency? mr. press: i had heard rumors around washington that he might be thinking about it. so i went to see him in his office, and i said what do i hear? he told me he was thinking about it. only this was 2014. he was onlyt
thinking about it in the sense that he had realized that the only way people will seriously take you seriously or take your issues seriously and the ones he cares about like a quality for instance, is if you run for president. you can be a senator and give speeches, and nobody pays attention. if you are a presidential candidate, there is an aura around that. these issues that he talks about should be front and center in this 2016 presidential primary. somebody had to do it. if somebody else did it, fine, but if nobody else did it he was thinking he might do it. in of course the other person at , the time they thought, would be elizabeth warren. if elizabeth warren had run, i'm pretty confident to think that bernie sanders would have never run. brian: did he ask your opinion on whether he should run?
mr. press: not at that time. bryan: did he later? when, how? at the first, meeting i suggested, i said, you are really serious. is you wantt to do to get a group of people who have been involved in presidential campaigns and. and, before that i said, if you arehis, my fear is you going to run, you are going to be another ross perot or another away nader and take votes from the democrats. he said, i would never do that. i would never do anything to help the republicans win the white house. i said then, if you are really serious about this, get people together and let them know what you are thinking. get their opinion and get solid advice about whether this is realistic or not.
and so, he said to me, would you organize that? that is a good idea. bryan: and what happened then? around in i kicked it my house and at that time, people were saying, yes, this is worth pursuing and it looked -- one of his chief advisers was there and kind of laid out what he felt was a plant. the realistic changes were, how much money they might be able to raise. how much it would take. when they would have to start. very preliminary strategy. a group of about 10 or 12 political strategists gave their good advice. saying, this is worth pursuing, it is not crazy. this is a real uphill battle. you'll be up against the biggest political machine in the country. one of the most experienced people in the country.
hillary clinton. and who knows who else? right? just a way, way, way long shot. but not crazy. brian: how long ago was that? mr. press: it was probably, i would have to say, in april 2014. brian: and he announced when? mr. press: april or march of 2015. brian: how much more that did you pursue? did you start to get interested? did he ask you at any point, would you come work with me? mr. press: no. he caught me at one point and said -- i may be off, i will have to check, but at one point he said, i would have to look at the photos and let you know, but he said, i learned a lot at that, that was good.
do you think we could have another meeting? we did. we have been used in the second was chicken cacciatore. [laughter] so we were figuring out, if you're going to run, you can run as a democrat. the second time, it was you are not crazy, but you ought to do this. it was pretty clear in elizabeth warren was not going to run at that time. to, if you was down want to run, you have to run as a democrat. even think about running as an independent, run as a democrat, otherwise you will not at all. support the second time, it was more like, you're not crazy, you want to do this. brian: i suspect you would not tell me who else was at that
dinner? it was done off the record. were there people at that dinner that now support hillary clinton? mr. press: i don't know. not that i know of but i don't know. brian: was there a time that you worried that it would interfere with your talkshow responsibilities? mr. press: no, because -- as a talkshow horse i could endorse. i certainly and doors to barack obama. way, in two thousand eight, i endorsed hillary clinton over barack obama. i was really doing a favor for a friend and getting some people together and giving him an opportunity to make his case.
the rules were, just come and listen, no commitments. you are not signing on to the bernie sanders campaign. brian: you are one of the few talk shows in the united ace -- in the united states that unions support. are you the only one that unions support? mr. press: i do not know that. i know a lot support my program because i'm a lifelong union man. for the most part i support their issues. the keystone pipeline for example. i am a union man. i just reached out to some unions, asking for their support in helping to sponsor the show. i have been very lucky and very grateful for the support we have had. brian: i want to ask you about that time when you were on current tv. and you had your morning show on current tv, which was owned
mostly by al gore. lat was your reaction when yours group sold that to al jazeera? mr. press: number one, i felt he had been pulled out from under us because we had been told by andformer vice president others that this was a serious effort to build the first progressive television network in this country and we were in it for the long haul. from a callind out from a friend of mine, what is up with al jazeera? we had never been told anything was in the works. never. ofhink the vice president america made a lot of money, i mean god bless america, but i sort of felt betrayed that his interest was, nothing wrong with that, he saw an opportunity to make a lot of money. to sell out and make a lot of money. he did.
he did. and not pursue building this progressive network, which the country really needed. brian: how much of the anger in the united states centers around the fact that he sold out to an oil country? mr. press: i do not think it was that. brian: that didn't make you mad, that he is building this progressive network, that he cashes out at $500 million for an oil company. mr. press: what bothered me more was that finally a statement came out from al gore and joel hyatt that we are selling to al jazeera, but they are just like us. we have the same goals, same interest, nothing is going to change. they are going to pursue the same agenda, to which i said b.s.
they said this was going to be like our tv. but no. it was a state-owned a operation, and you know which will not be the same. they put out a good newscast, but things did not stay. brian: what was your reaction when you heard they were shutting it down? mr. press: i was not surprised. they were just a side note. it was crazy as a business decision. they already had an al jazeera english channel, which is very good, which is covering the united states. this was trying to separate the american audience and think that they could build news that people would watch. the other thing was one of them told me at this time, because there was a transition time when we stayed on until the al jazeera was ready to go. during that time, i met with a couple of the al jazeera people and one of them told me the that american television has is that like c-span, they were only appealing to 1% of the
american people. appealera was going to to 99% of the american people. time,ch point type bit my almost telling them to change their name. but american people are not going to watch al jazeera. brian: you attend almost all the white house press briefings. you're known as a liberal progressive. has this president ever given you an interview? mr. press: no. brian: have you asked? mr. press: no. brian: why not? mr. press: for one thing, i inquired about the possibility, and i was discouraged from asking. he gives very few interviews. and so i just decided i was not going to waste my time trying to do the impossible. i felt with the access i need, i can ask a question at a press briefing to satisfy my needs. so, i did not pursue that. brian: the name of the book is
buyers remorse: how the democrats and obama have let progressives down." brian: our guest has been built mr. press. mr. press: thank you, brian. ♪ announcer: for free transcripts, or to send us your comments about this program, go to q&a.org. "q&a" programs are also available as podcasts. announcer: if you enjoyed this week's "q&a" interview, here are some other programs you might like. former abc news correspondent ann compton on her 41-year career covering the white house.
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holdingandidates rallies, after the campaigns in nevada and south carolina, the republican race has narrowed, the democratic race has sharpened. untill stay with them saturday and then move onto the multi-state primaries and caucuses in early and mid march. this race is just heading under way. you can follow it here on c-span, and of course, on c-span radio. presidentrning, the of of americans for tax reform 2017 budgetdent's request as well as the tax plans of the presidential candidates. the bernie sanders and hillary clinton get out the vote campaigns. geman talks about the
plan.ents clean energy as always, we take your calls and you ♪ good morning. 2016., february 22, the presidential primary calendar gets busy starting this with republican caucus tomorrow in the data and the onth carolina primary saturday. as we look at the road ahead will focus on the democratic pass this morning on the washington journal and the minority voters that hillary clinton and bernie sanders are reaching out to and the messages they are taking to those communities. how do you think the campaigns are resonating in minority communities and which campaig