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Transcript (CSPAN): 7-9-08 Q&A - Brit Hume - Washington Managing Editor & Anchor, Fox News
Cspan - Q&A ^ | 7-20-08

Posted on 01/01/2009 1:30:17 PM PST by STARWISE

Uncorrected transcript provided by Morningside Partners. C-SPAN uses its best efforts to provide accurate transcripts of its programs, but it can not be held liable for mistakes such as omitted words, punctuation, spelling, mistakes that change meaning, etc.


C-SPAN/Q&A Host: Brian Lamb Guest: Brit Hume July 9, 2008

. .

BRIAN LAMB, HOST: Brit Hume, if you had to go in front of a journalism class and define the term ”journalism” today, what would you say?

BRIT HUME, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: That’s a big subject today. But I think journalism is in new forms, pretty much what it’s always been, which is reporting and commentary on current events of interest to the public.

As I mentioned, many forms. But it’s, at the end of the day, it’s still reporting and analysis and opinion dispensing.

BRIAN LAMB: When in your lifetime have you been the happiest practicing journalism?

BRIT HUME: Well, I probably had the most fun, when I was working for Jack Anderson all those years ago. I was young and full of vigor and energy and there was a lot of freedom. And we had a blast there for a couple years. And I moved on to other things.

BRIAN LAMB: What’s the difference between working for Jack Anderson and anchoring the Fox show at 6:00 everyday?

BRIT HUME: Well, it – a lot of the work I did for Jack Anderson, I would report the story. It would go out under his byline with some credit to me or whoever else on the staff did it.

This is – and I didn’t have to worry about synthesizing the column together. I didn’t have to worry about any of that. I would work on one story at a time and do them. And he would make such use of them as he saw fit.

What I do now is much less about my own reporting than maybe my own news judgment.

It is – I’m really kind of a ringmaster for the work of a lot of other people, unlike a lot of programs on cable news.

My program isn’t about me. It’s really about the work of a lot of other people. It’s about the analysis and commentary of some of my colleagues. And really the reporting on the correspondents and so on. I used to do an interview segment on the show.

I don’t do that anymore, because it’ got in the away, I thought, of the show, moving along and telling you more.

BRIAN LAMB: Go back to the beginning of when you – well, it’s the night you met Rupert Murdoch. Had dinner with him over here at La Brasserie or whatever. But go back when it started for you with – Fox was beginning and you were at ABC.

BRIT HUME: Well, I was at ABC and quite by chance really I met Rupert Murdoch. And I didn’t think or imagine at the time that any would ever come of it. It was a group of journalists, I guess it was organized by ”The American Spectator” and they have something called ”The Saturday Night Club.”

It never meets on Saturday night, but they call it that anyway. And they’ll have a guest in for dinner with a bunch of journalists from time to time. On this particular night, it was at the ”La Brasserie” up here on Massachusetts Avenue. A place that’s famous for a lot of reasons. I guess it’s gone now, but – and he was the guest and he was proved to be a genial, amiable and approachable and interesting man. And it was fascinating to listen to him.

And when the dinner was over, it was late. It was a winter night as I recall it. My car was parked the other side of the restaurant from where I lived. And so, I went and got the car and turned it around up on Massachusetts Avenue, which is – that part of town up there, Massachusetts Avenue is not the great thoroughfare that is elsewhere in Washington. It’s a narrow, two-lane street.

And I turned around. And I drove back past the restaurant. There’s a guy standing out there by himself in a trench coat trying to hail a cab. It was Rupert Murdoch.

There was no entourage of aides with him. There was no parade of sedans or limousines. There was none of that. He was out there trying to catch a cab. And he wasn’t going to catch a cab up there for awhile, I didn’t think.

So, I stopped and I said, Mr. Murdoch, where you going? And he said, I’m going to The Willard. And I said, well, I’ll take you there. That’s right along the way. So, I drove him to The Willard.

And we chatted about family and ski trips or whatever. And I found him to be totally easy to talk to and genial and pleasant. And he had no mogul aura about him. None of that.

And he was news oriented. And there was – talked a little bit about what was in the news and so on. I thought he was fascinating and very different from the caricatures of him that I’ve seen elsewhere.

BRIAN LAMB: So, how did it go from there did you…

BRIT HUME: Well, not much happened. There was a – at one point when I was at ABC News, there was a – they were trying to get something started on the Fox Broadcast Network, a magazine show. I think he was thinking about.

And they wanted to try use that as a basis to sort of build a news division. And I didn’t think the idea worked very well or would work very well. And they asked me about it. And it was very preliminary. And it was – he wasn’t even involved. It was one of his – some of his top people, whom I liked, but the opportunity wasn’t right for me.

And then, in 1996, I was coming to the end of an eight year tour of duty as the chief White House correspondent for ABC News. And I was coming out of the White House. And I didn’t want to do that anymore.

It was – I just had enough of that. Eight years is long enough. And I was looking around to see what I might do next. And ABC News didn’t seem to have much in mind.

And then, the announcements began to come with people starting 24-hour cable channels. And ABC announced one. And I thought, this is great. They’re going to go 24 hours. That gives an old goat like me some place where I can go and do my stuff. And be kind of a maybe a sort of a veteran commentator and analyst or whatever and it’d be wonderful. And I was enthusiastic about it.

And then, Microsoft and NBC teamed up to create MSNBC and that was announced. And in the middle of all this, along comes Fox with no real domestic news organization.

They had a little Washington bureau and a few – and they had an exchange system for their stations to exchange video, but they didn’t have a Washington bureau or – they didn’t really have the instruments of a network news operation.

And here comes Rupert Murdoch and announces that they’re going to start a 24-hour cable channel. Well, the world laughed.

But not long thereafter, Disney pulled the plug on the ABC 24-hour operation. And apparently what happened is that they looked at the numbers. And they concluded that it would be x number of years before they could turn it black. It would hit the stock to the tune of however much they were able to estimate and that it wasn’t it wasn’t worth a candle.

So, now, I was working for a company, which was essentially an entertainment company. A wonderful company. Disney’s a very good company. And I’d had a wonderful experience there.

And they were bailing out on the idea of going 24 hours, even though they were the gold standard at the moment. Number one in the evening news ratings. It was, at that point, ABC News was the leader.

In the meantime, here comes Rupert Murdoch with no domestic infrastructure with the need to make an enormous capital outlay to do this. And he’s willing to take a risk with less to start with than ABC was. And I began – and I realized that the name of the company matters.

News Corporation, that’s the name of Rupert Murdoch’s company. And I realized that, and it’s proved to be true since I’ve worked there. This is a news company with some entertainment properties.

Disney, a fine company, is an entertainment company with some news properties.

And so, what you see with News Corporation now is and you see it in the purchase of ”The Wall Street Journal” and in a multitude of other ways is, that’s the focus of this company.

That’s the willingness to put a billion dollars, or whatever it was, at risk to build the Fox News Channel. That’s the willingness to buy with the eye to greatly expanding ”The Wall Street Journal” and so on.

So, I ended up thinking that that was the place to be. If he was willing to make that – willing to take that risk, I thought, this is the kind of guy I want to work for.

And then, he hired Roger Ailes, whom I knew from covering politics. And I knew two things about Roger Ailes.

One was that he shot straight. And the other was that none but a fool would ever underestimate him. And I thought, between these two guys, I bet they’re going to make this thing go.

And I had dinner with Roger Ailes in I guess about March of 1996. And he said that he wanted to make the operating concept of Fox News, fair and balanced news.

And I thought, man, this is music to my ears, because I had long believed that there was an opportunity there for somebody who wanted to do basically three things.

One was balance all your discussion segments. Most people do that. That’s not so big a problem.

The other was to cover the stories that others are covering with a different angle. A little – journalistically legitimate different angle. And I saw them all the time.

And in fact, when I was at ABC and I never had a lot of trouble. I mean, they’d say, they’d read whatever ”The New York Times” or somebody had in the morning. And they’d say, do you want to do this – your story this way. And I’d say, no, I’d rather do it this way. And they’d say, oh, well, that makes sense. Do that.

And they were not difficult about that. But it would not occur to them.

And I thought, if you had somebody who was looking at things that way from scratch everyday, it gets to be like picking up money off the street. The opportunities to do stories legitimately in a different way. They’re all around. Or the opportunities to do stories that others aren’t interested in.

We had a wonderful example just last week, when the report came out from the administration, which the administration didn’t produce with any fanfare to Congress that said now that 15 of the 18 political benchmarks were showing satisfactory progress in Iraq.

And you say, well, that’s just the administration.

Well, maybe so, but a year earlier the same administration had said that satisfactory progress had been made only 8 of 18. Something had obviously happened.

And we – our reporting over there had sort of indicated this. And there had been a lot of individual reports on this and that that happened.

But here it was all in one place. That’s a big story. We’ve made it a big story. I led my broadcast with it. And it was virtually ignored everywhere else. Everywhere else.

So, I’m thinking, great. And so, that was what – the opportunity to do that kind of was what drew me to Fox News.

BRIAN LAMB: I read in Howard Kurtz that your contract’s up this year?

BRIT HUME: Yes. End of the year.

BRIAN LAMB: Are you going to stay with it for awhile?

BRIT HUME: We’re talking about a new arrangement.

BRIAN LAMB: Would you like to give up that 6:00 spot?

BRIT HUME: Well, that’s something I have thought about, but basically all I can say to you know is that we’re discussing what comes next.

BRIAN LAMB: Let me go back to February the 1st, 2004, and read you a Peter Johnson story. I know you remember this in ”USA TODAY.” And I want you to parse this. The headline is, ”Brit Hume Honors – Honor Triggers Protests.”

Is Fox News fair and balanced as its motto claims? The National Press Club Foundation’s plan to honor Brit Hume angered Geneva Overholser, who says, Fox practices ”ideologically connected journalism.”

Let me just stop there for a moment. When you read that, what was your reaction?


Rest at link

TOPICS: Culture/Society; Front Page News; Philosophy; Politics/Elections
KEYWORDS: brianlamb; brithume; charleskrauthammer; cspan; foxnews; foxnewschannel; fredbarnes; interview; mortkondrake; rogerailes; rupertmurdoch; specialreport; transcript
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Fascinating accounting of Brit's entree to FNC and its beginnings that I mostly caught on the tube last night. He's such a decent and honorable journalist.

Here's the extremelty candid and touching segment about his reactions after the suicide of his son.


And on the particular night, he was drinking and speeding, I guess, afterwards down on Canal Road and the police chased him.

He tried to get away. Ran his car into a puddle. Stalled the car out. Got caught. He thought it was all over. He thought this was a ruinous development from which his life and career would not recover.

That was crazy.

He committed suicide.

Fortunately, for me, I was – I escaped the terrible burden of guilt that one might have when you think, if only I’d had a better relationship with him.

I had a wonderful relationship with him. And I didn’t – I didn’t have to look back and say, if only I’d done this or done that. I mean, it was – I had none of that, which was a tremendous relief.

The other thing was that a time like that, Brian, is when you find out what you really believe.

And I grew up in Washington. I went to St. Albans School nine years. Church school. Baptized and confirmed in the Episcopal church. I was a kind of nominal Christian all those years.

Suddenly this unspeakable tragedy hits. And at a moment like that you find out what you really believe.

And the one thing I recognized almost instantly was that I believed in God and I believed that God would come to my rescue.

And I remember I said to people and it was kind of a half in jest, but it – there was truth to it, that I kept expecting in the days after what happened to Sandy that the phone would ring. And I’d pick up the phone and the voice on the other one would say, this is God. This is what this was about, because it seemed so inexplicable.

And it seemed so undeserved for him, for me and for everyone else in the family. Well, obviously, nothing like that occurred, but something did occur.

Somewhere in the middle of that, I felt closer to God and to Christ than I had ever felt in my life, which is in a sense paradoxical. But there it was. And it was unmistakable.

And I got – I don’t think what the exact number was within about three weeks of his death, I had received in my mailbox, this is quite apart from any emails, and a reason I have a number in my head is that my assistant and I were sending out thank you responses to the people who wrote to me. The number within three weeks had hit 973.

Now, look, my program on Fox was just starting then.

BRIAN LAMB: 973 letters.

BRIT HUME: 973 letters, prayer cards, expressions by mail to me of sympathy, support and so on. I would go home at night and my mailbox would be crammed with them.

Sometimes, there’d be some on top of the mailbox. And I read everyone of them. Everyone of them. And I remember, I wept over some of them. And I – but I was enormously buoyed by this outpouring.

Now, think about this, Brian. I mean, my – Fox News was really kind of nowhere. This was 1998. We were just in business a couple years. We were mired deep in third place. The ratings for – we were doing 25,000, 30,000 viewers tops some nights. My show had just started. I’d been – had some people who knew of me from my days at ABC News, but I was--compared to where Fox News and the people on it are now, we were nowhere.

So, somehow, this event touched these people and somehow they found in them to respond. I consider it to be sent a miracle. And it was – and I, I mean, I just felt so buoyed by it. So supported. So loved. And I thought, thank you, God.

1 posted on 01/01/2009 1:30:18 PM PST by STARWISE
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To: srmorton; used2BDem; txroadkill; JDoutrider; AGreatPer; exist; penelopesire; Miss Didi; SE Mom; ...

~~Very interesting interview .... PING!

2 posted on 01/01/2009 1:31:57 PM PST by STARWISE ((They (Dims) think of this WOT as Bush's war, not America's war-RichardMiniter, respected OBL author)
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To: All

BRIAN LAMB: What this – let me stop for a second and ask you about this.

David Brinkley, Dan Rather, John Chancellor, Jane Pauley, Barbara Walters and Nina Totenberg and others, are they all objective?

BRIT HUME: None of us is objective. You can’t be objective. But what you can try to be is fair.

I mean, David Brinkley, as I recall, is one of the first people I ever heard say that. You can’t be objective. You’re a sentient, thinking, human being. You’re going to have views in reaction to things.

But I’ll say this about it. I believe that fairness begins with an awareness that no, you’re not objective. And it is your professional duty and responsibility to be aware of that. And to carry that with you into the work that you do so that you can be fair. So, you could screen out.

You can be – you can think if you go to a hearing and you think that the politician whose running the hearing is obstreperous personality, whether it’s Phil Graham or Barney Frank, that you think, I got to be careful here, because I don’t particularly cotton to this person. I need to make sure that I play this straight. That I’m fair. I think that’s where it begins. I’ve always thought that. And it’s not that hard to do.

I mean, think of the people in the professions that we – other professions that we – in the practice of law. Lawyers represent clients they disagree with. They even represent viewpoints they disagree with. They do it all the time. And they do a good job of it, because they’re professionally trained to do it.

We as journalists are or should be professionally trained to do that as well. To go out and assess a story based on its news value and to order it and prioritize what we see in such a way as to reflect news values and report it that way.

BRIAN LAMB: Did Roger Ailes ever say to you in a conversation, we’re going to use this fair and balanced slogan and it’s going to drive them crazy?

BRIT HUME: He said, it was going to drive them crazy. He said, he knew it was going to drive them crazy.

BRIAN LAMB: But let me show you.

BRIT HUME: It does drive them crazy.

Now look, Brian, the examples I cited to you earlier – the earlier example of that story is a meaningful example is the kind of thing that where we see opportunity where others see nothing.

Now, can anyone, Geneva Overholser or anyone else seriously argue to me than when a report comes out from an administration that a year ago said that progress – satisfactory progress was being made on half of these political benchmarks, which had been so much at the center of the debate. And a year later comes along and reports more than twice as much. That that isn’t news. Of course, it’s news by any reasonable, fair-minded standard.

Our colleagues neglect such stories with some regularity, providing us a competitive opportunity. We pickup on stories like this.


Brit will be missed.

FNC isn’t perfect, but where would we be if we learned news the way we did BEFORE FNC?

3 posted on 01/01/2009 1:40:44 PM PST by STARWISE ((They (Dims) think of this WOT as Bush's war, not America's war-RichardMiniter, respected OBL author)
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This was a great interview. I caught probably the last half of it. Brit seems like a great guy, like your neighbor.

4 posted on 01/01/2009 1:50:00 PM PST by My hearts in London - Everett (Remember the 3 Rs: Respect for self; Respect for others; and Responsibility for all your actions.)
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Thanks for the thread!

5 posted on 01/01/2009 1:54:00 PM PST by Red_Devil 232 (VietVet - USMC All Ready On The Right? All Ready On The Left? All Ready On The Firing Line!)
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Brit is a wonderful MAN and a marvelous JOURNALIST and it
shows in every segment of his show. He is just the BEST
there is!

Thanks for this report...I had missed it on TV.

Very sad about his son...I didn’t know about his suicide. =\

6 posted on 01/01/2009 1:59:58 PM PST by LUV W (Now....on to 2012........Palin/Jindal)
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Thanks for the thread.

Brian Lamb and Brit Hume are the best media guys on TV. Period.

God Bless CSPAN.

7 posted on 01/01/2009 2:00:04 PM PST by BGHater (Tyranny is always better organised than freedom)
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Great guy...and the best news man in the country...maybe the World.

8 posted on 01/01/2009 2:44:32 PM PST by VaBthang4 ("He Who Watches Over Israel Will Neither Slumber Nor Sleep")
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To: VaBthang4; srmorton; used2BDem; My hearts in London - Everett; txroadkill; JDoutrider; AGreatPer; ..

Didn’t realize that you could watch THE WHOLE INTERVIEW with Brit Hume, but there’s a link on the article page I just discovered ... to the right. It’s a fantastic interview.

It crashed Firefox for me, but I reopened the Q&A site in Internet Explorer, and it’s playing just fine.

He is such a decent professional. FNC and we will be poorer without his presence every day.

9 posted on 01/01/2009 3:23:52 PM PST by STARWISE ((They (Dims) think of this WOT as Bush's war, not America's war-RichardMiniter, respected OBL author)
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Excellent interview. I watched it last night.

10 posted on 01/01/2009 3:27:06 PM PST by Retired Chemist
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To: AdmSmith; Berosus; Convert from ECUSA; dervish; Ernest_at_the_Beach; Fred Nerks; george76; ...
11 posted on 01/01/2009 3:29:02 PM PST by SunkenCiv ( finally updated Saturday, December 6, 2008 !!!)
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Brit Hume is a class act in every sense of the word. Special Report will not be the same without him.

12 posted on 01/01/2009 4:17:57 PM PST by St. Louis Conservative
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BRIAN LAMB: Did Roger Ailes ever say to you in a conversation, we’re going to use this fair and balanced slogan and it’s going to drive them crazy?

BRIT HUME: He said, it was going to drive them crazy. He said, he knew it was going to drive them crazy.

They bent too far back with their ‘fair and balanced’

13 posted on 01/01/2009 4:25:25 PM PST by Krodg
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Thanks for the ping Star! This is a phenomenal story, just phenomenal.A real inside look at Britt! What a great American.

14 posted on 01/01/2009 5:41:21 PM PST by rodguy911 (HOME OF THE FREE BECAUSE OF THE BRAVE--GO SARAHCUDA !!)
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To: St. Louis Conservative
You are right. No one can actually take his place.However, I like Brent Baer and I think he will do an excellent job and I would bet he has had a lot of tutoring from Hume.
15 posted on 01/01/2009 5:47:12 PM PST by rodguy911 (HOME OF THE FREE BECAUSE OF THE BRAVE--GO SARAHCUDA !!)
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To: Krodg; All
When I thin of Britt he reminds me of the Dirty Harry of big league News,fearless,standing up for what's right, always telling it like it is.
16 posted on 01/01/2009 5:50:09 PM PST by rodguy911 (HOME OF THE FREE BECAUSE OF THE BRAVE--GO SARAHCUDA !!)
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To: VigilantAmerican

I am really going to miss Brit Hume. I think you know why. Fair is so hard to find these days.

17 posted on 01/01/2009 5:52:56 PM PST by jacquej
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To: Krodg

No other network offers what they do ... zero, nada.

They broke the steel barrier of the lib press. Sure, they hire folks with a more liberal bent, but you won’t find ANY of the conservative viewpoints in the numbers they do anywhere else.

Other networks have been forced to add conservatives .. a totally new wrinkle .. due to FNC, to stay competitive, and FNC is #1.

18 posted on 01/01/2009 6:26:33 PM PST by STARWISE ((They (Dims) think of this WOT as Bush's war, not America's war-RichardMiniter, respected OBL author)
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To: rodguy911

He truly is .. the last of the real journalists.

19 posted on 01/01/2009 6:27:00 PM PST by STARWISE ((They (Dims) think of this WOT as Bush's war, not America's war-RichardMiniter, respected OBL author)
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4 later

20 posted on 01/01/2009 8:31:55 PM PST by AprilfromTexas
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