PBS Gets Cozy With Mike Huckabee

The topic below was originally posted in my blog, the Intrepid Liberal Journal. as well as the Independent Bloggers Alliance, the Peace Tree and Worldwide Sawdust.

Below is a transcript provided by the Public Broadcasting System (PBS) of Judy Woodruff's interview with Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee. Or you can listen to the audio by clicking here. This interview illustrates why bloggers like myself have utter contempt for the corporatist media. And yes that now apparently includes PBS which is supposed to be a cut above and serve only the public. In a disgraceful display of inept journalism, Woodruff asks one horse race question after the other.

This man may become the Republican nominee and perhaps our next president. I don't think he will but it's not impossible. So why not ask him questions of substance? They're plenty to chose from.

Why not ask Huckabee about the Bush Administration's policy of supporting Musharaf in Pakistan? Or how long the United States should maintain an occupying force in Iraq? Does Huckabee agree with his new best friend John McCain that it's acceptable if we remain in Iraq for another 100 years? For that matter, how the hell does Woodruff not ask Huckabee a single question about Iraq or Afghanistan where American forces are currently fighting, killing and being killed themselves? What does Huckabee intend to do about facilitating peace between the Israelis and Palestinians?

There are plenty of domestic policy questions to ask Huckabee as well. Such as why he doesn't believe in evolution and whether he supports science education. Also, given Huckabee's penchant for granting pardons as governor and his disillusionment with the justice system, does Huckabee intend to tackle the prison industrial complex should he become president? How much government intervention in economic policy does Huckabee support given his adversarial relationship with conservative stalwarts such as the Club For Growth, National Review and Rush Limbaugh? Since Huckabee has expressed sympathy for citizens earning $50,000 per year or less, would he support revoking the bankruptcy law passed by congress in 2005 and signed into law by President Bush?

These are just a few examples of questions Woodruff could've asked. Many of you reading this post no doubt have better questions. I would be just as angry if Woodruff asked fluffy questions of Democrats, including my preferred candidate John Edwards. Woodruff approached this interview as if she were questioning a football coach about how his season was going. For damn sure I know I could ask far better questions of a presidential candidate than this. So could many citizens. Anyway, read the transcript below and judge for yourselves. If you share my disenchantment with this interview, let PBS know by clicking here. It's only the presidency at stake.

JIM LEHRER: Judy Woodruff was on the flight with Huckabee to New Hampshire this morning and spoke with him again early this afternoon.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Governor Huckabee, congratulations.

MIKE HUCKABEE (R), Presidential Candidate: Thank you.

JUDY WOODRUFF: The first question, is you had a lot less money.


JUDY WOODRUFF: You had a much smaller organization.


JUDY WOODRUFF: How do you think you did it in Iowa?

MIKE HUCKABEE: I think we did it because we had a message that people resonated with.

And they wanted to believe that there was still a place in American politics for a person who didn't come at them with a lot of money and razzle and dazzle, but came at them with an authenticity that they felt like was about them, not about the campaign, but about the people, who are supposed to be the very recipients of all this message we create.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Do you think that what happened in Iowa translates to the state of New Hampshire, where we are right now, a very different state...


JUDY WOODRUFF: ... everybody has started to point out?

MIKE HUCKABEE: Americans different in some maybe thoughts or emphasis still have the same ideas. They want a government that lets them be free, that leaves them alone, that doesn't interrupt and interfere with every aspect of their life, that lets them go to work and keep more of what they've worked hard to have.

Those are principles that I think are valid anywhere. Now, there may not be as much focus, for example, in New Hampshire on the sanctity of life or maybe even traditional marriage, as you would see in Iowa. But on issues like lower taxes, less government, and then a more efficient government, that'll be a focus here in New Hampshire that I think is universal anywhere.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Why do you think there's less focus on those issues here?

MIKE HUCKABEE: It's probably just because of the demographics of the state.

There are a lot of conservative people on social issues -- values voters I think is now the vogue term -- a lot of them here in New Hampshire. But this state has a long history, dating all the way back to the fact that it was the state that declared independence six months before the rest of the country did.

It's an independent state. Their motto, live free or die, and they mean it up here.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Now, you're coming in here competing in a place where the polls are already showing Governor Romney and Senator McCain neck and neck. You're way back. Are you going to compete all the way here?

MIKE HUCKABEE: We'll compete. Whether or not we can win New Hampshire, that's never been something that we said we had to do. We knew that we needed to do well in Iowa. We didn't think we had to win there to stay on our feet.

But we're running first place in South Carolina, first place in Florida and in Texas and a lot of other states. And, so, what we want to do is to still be one of those people that are competing in these early states, and then start winning in places like South Carolina and Florida.


MIKE HUCKABEE: In essence, we ended up doing better than we thought in Iowa, better than we should have done, by anybody's conventional standards of how politics is supposed to play. We might even surprise some people in New Hampshire.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, Governor Romney, among other things, this morning, he complimented you on your win, but he went on to say that you were helped, in his words -- and he used the word unusual several times -- unusual strengths. And he mentioned the fact you're a pastor.

Your base, something like 80 percent, or maybe even more, of the vote that you received in Iowa was from Christian conservatives. And they are saying you don't have that situation in New Hampshire. You don't have it in a lot of other states.

MIKE HUCKABEE: You know, there's this sort of myth that Christian conservatives only care about God and gays. Well, you know what? Christian conservatives care about their families eating. They're concerned about energy independence. They're concerned about functional government.

And so the fact that they're Christians, there may be a lot of them in Iowa, doesn't mean they're not also fiscal conservatives, doesn't mean they also want a strong national defense and they want a strong position on terror. Those are issues that are also important to them.

So, I think it's the same mind-set that said all along when you say, the commentators say that this is why it was, these are the same commentators that said, if I didn't have $100 million by the end of the year, I wouldn't make it. Well, I made it, so they were wrong. And I'm still here.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Governor Romney also ran some pretty tough ads.


JUDY WOODRUFF: He might say they're not so tough. He would say just that he's pointing out the facts...


JUDY WOODRUFF: ... about your record, being lenient with illegal immigrants in the state of Arkansas.

Do you expect that kind of a campaign here over the next few days? And, if so, are you going to run ads that are critical? You ended up pulling one back in Iowa.


You know, I felt that the positive approach worked better for us there. And people appreciated it. His ads hurt us, there's no doubt about it, because he attacked me. He ran over 14,000 ads in Iowa -- that's a lot of ads -- many of them targeted toward me.

In addition, Washington special interest groups, like Club For Growth, hammered me with over half-a-million dollars of negative, nasty television ads.

But I think, at the end of the day, a lot of people in Iowa just said, you know, this political dumpster-diving has got to stop. It demeans all of us and the system. And no matter what they said, people just got to the point they said, I'm not believing this stuff.

JUDY WOODRUFF: And does that mean you're not going to be criticizing him? I mean, what exactly does that mean in this campaign?

MIKE HUCKABEE: Well, I certainly reserve the right to defend my record. I reserve the right to point out where he's been completely inaccurate when he's portrayed things on my record, which he has on many occasions.

Senator McCain's doing a pretty good job of taking him on here in New Hampshire, because he did the same thing to Senator McCain here that he tried to do to me in Iowa, and that's just act like, "Well, we're both good men, but" -- and then relentlessly hammer away and make up things about our records, which I found very offensive.

It's one thing to say something about my record that I have to say, hmm, boy, he got me on that one. I really did it.

But when he said things like that I had cut the sentences for methamphetamine dealers, when, in fact, I had doubled the sentences, and they were four times harsher than his in Massachusetts, meth labs went down 48 percent in my state during the time I was governor, when he said that I increased spending, and The New York Times called him out on that, and pointed out that his figures were totally made up, and that, in fact, my expenditure increases during the 10-and-a-half-year tenure was pretty much in line with what he had done in his four years in Massachusetts.

JUDY WOODRUFF: You mentioned John McCain. The two of you are saying pretty nice things about each other. Some people are wondering if you have reached some kind of a pact, where you're not going to -- where you're basically going to let each other alone.

MIKE HUCKABEE: It's not about a pact. I think it's about the fact that both of us believe that the discourse of politics ought to be more civil.

We both believe that we have unique positions that we ought to stand for. We're not so weak in our own positions that we have to attack somebody else as to kind of do the political sleight of hand, so, watch this hand, so you don't see what I'm doing with this one.

I think both of us have records that we can proudly stand on and defend. So, I don't have to attack John McCain. John McCain doesn't have to attack me.

Besides that, I do -- I like the guy. I think he's an honorable guy, and I've said that publicly. I've said it in debates. I will say it to you. I will say it to anybody.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Are you going so far as to say as you would cede New Hampshire to him, that you wouldn't compete as much here?

MIKE HUCKABEE: Oh, I don't know about ceding anything. I think he's in a very strong position. He's a well-known commodity here. I'm not that well-known here.

He's spent a lot of time, has deep relationships here. He'd be the favorite to win it. But five days is a long time in New Hampshire. I'm not giving up yet.

JUDY WOODRUFF: And, finally, the turnout in Iowa last night, big turnout -- bigger turnout on the Republican side...


JUDY WOODRUFF: ... much bigger on the Democratic side. In fact, the turnout in the Democratic, almost twice what it was among Republicans, even though the voter registration is about even.

Does that say something nationally that should be a cause for concern for Republicans?

MIKE HUCKABEE: Not yet. No, I don't think so.

We had a much bigger turnout than was predicted. Some people thought that the turnout would be as low as 80,000. It was clearly over that. We saw that. We went to Waterloo, almost couldn't get in, got stuck in traffic, didn't think I'd get in or get out and get back to Des Moines.

In fact, when I got back to Des Moines, I landed, my BlackBerry was lighting up like crazy when we got to turn it on. Turned out, while we were gone, flying around, trying to get back there, I'd won the doggone Iowa caucuses.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Governor Huckabee, thank you very much, and congratulations, again.

MIKE HUCKABEE: Thank you, Judy.

No votes yet


Baptist minister role that Judy was concerned with when interviewing Huckabee ;-)

I don't think I would be happy with a President Huckabee but there is something genuinely likable about him in spite of his far right views. At least he sounds genuine when saying "doggone Iowa caucuses" unlike the faux Texas guy displaced in D.C.

and just think what could happen if he picks Stephen Colbert as his running mate.

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If it's true that our species is alone in the universe, then I'd have to say that the universe aimed rather low and settled for very little. ~ George Carlin

telegenic and appealing but so what? We're supposed to be choosing a president. Al Gore wasn't likable. Neither was Mike Dukakis. This country would be a lot better off today had we elected both of them. It's great when our preferred candidates are "likable" as is my preferred candidate Edwards.

Likable or not, the media has to ask these people legitimate questions that produce revealing answers. Especially PBS. We ought to bombard PBS with feedback about that disgraceful display by Judy Woodruff. I've sent my feedback and I hope others do the same. As our press goes so goes the country. Is it any wonder the public is so uninformed when even PBS stoops to the level of insipid fluff?

Without the media properly doing its job this country is doomed. The blogosphere isn't enough. Jon Stewart isn't enough. PBS is supposed to be a bastion of professionalism and integrity. Obviously their dependence on corporate donations has changed that.

Intrepid Liberal Journal