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Longreads (The Secret Podcast PREVIEW)

September 22, 2023
Notes
Transcript
On Murdoch and Milley.

The Secret Show is exclusively for Bulwark+ members. To listen to the rest of this show and gain access to all Bulwark+ member benefits (newsletters, podcasts and more!) sign up today at TheBulwark.com/secret.

This transcript was generated automatically and may contain errors and omissions. Ironically, the transcription service has particular problems with the word “bulwark,” so you may see it mangled as “Bullard,” “Boulart,” or even “bull word.” Enjoy!
  • Speaker 1
    0:00:00

    Hey there. It’s JBL. On the Secret Show today with Sarah Longwell, we talked about the gigantic piece about Rupert Murdoch and Tucker Carlson and Tucker Carlsonson And also the other gigantic piece about General Mark Millie. Here’s the show. Okay.
  • Speaker 1
    0:00:20

    So we should preface this by saying that this is an excerpt from a Michael Wolf book about the end of Fox and Michael Wolf tells he’s a fabulous storyteller, and many of the things he reports are true. But not all of them.
  • Speaker 2
    0:00:37

    Not all of them.
  • Speaker 1
    0:00:38

    He’s he writes in this omniscient voice with there being almost no sourcing at all, you know, with lots and lots of verbatim quotes of conversations. And so this is not like reading Bulwark and Costa, where you can hundred percent trust everything.
  • Speaker 2
    0:00:58

    Right. And I actually recall specifically. He had that book about Trump. He was one of the first people out with a trump book, and he remember he just, like, sat. Somebody let him just sit in the White House.
  • Speaker 1
    0:01:09

    He sat in the White House.
  • Speaker 2
    0:01:10

    But he also alleged in that book that Trump and Nikki Haley were sleeping together.
  • Speaker 1
    0:01:15

    Yeah. I think that he, But again, I I this is not the first time that my goal’s credibility has been called into question. He is not revered by his peers. And So, again, you you gotta you gotta read between the lines and do your own. You gotta do your own research, as the people say.
  • Speaker 1
    0:01:37

    So what struck you most? I mean, the the best part of it is Ron and Casey DeSantis coming to dinner at the Charlie Sykes house. And Ron DeSantis, like, shoving one of their dogs under the table, maybe kicking their dog and Susie Curals and wife known for a long time saying I never want to be around that person again.
  • Speaker 2
    0:01:58

    Yeah. So I I this is Carlson thing was interesting because obviously, I it’s never really occurred to me like, who is married to Tucker Carlson? And the description of her in the piece is that she is a stay at home, mom who is concerned with manners, her children, her dogs, and, like, re loves to read books. And so she is, what, genteel, and it’s It’s pretty good description of somebody. Nobody said old money, but I got this.
  • Speaker 2
    0:02:24

    There was a lot of, kinda old money that and and not just her, but, like, that’s what Murdoch is. Right? This, like, old money Republican who believes in a certain gentility in the way you do things. And so these like gauche, Donald Trump type Republicans is gross, and, and and would also be gross to somebody like Susie Carlson. Because actually what most struck me just overall in the piece, although that incident is a good one.
  • Speaker 2
    0:02:55

    Is the fact that Murdoch likes Carlson. Like, did not like the persona that he was presenting on television, but still felt close to him. And, like, his whole thing
  • Speaker 1
    0:03:11

    I’ve just seen.
  • Speaker 2
    0:03:13

    Yeah. If you would like to equate if you would like to equate yourself with Rupert Murdoch in this piece who I do not think comes off as a particularly moral person. Like, when you say that there was a good line that was like, Murdochock would say of Carlson, but he doesn’t really mean it as though that is a defense.
  • Speaker 1
    0:03:36

    Yeah. That was a good line.
  • Speaker 2
    0:03:38

    And I think that’s true. The idea that, oh, but he doesn’t really meet it. That’s not a defense. It’s an indictment of one’s character.
  • Speaker 1
    0:03:44

    Yeah. No. I mean, look, you’re not wrong. But I I found it hysterical that, burdock, again, reportedly, absolutely detests Sean Hannity like, do anything not to be near Sean Hannity. But Tucker, he enjoyed hanging out with Tucker.
  • Speaker 1
    0:04:00

    He
  • Speaker 2
    0:04:00

    likes Tucker. Thanks Tucker smart. But, no, this incident, right, where the so they invite the DeSantis is over and that this is part of. Right? So Murdoch wants to do anything he possibly can to get out from under Trump.
  • Speaker 1
    0:04:13

    Right.
  • Speaker 2
    0:04:13

    So sees the opportunity of the the future, which was what that New York post headline, So they were trying really hard to make DeSantis happen. To the point where and this is just at such a gut level, the extent to which the Fox News is just we know this. This is but the mouthpiece of the Republican Party, like, Ron DeSantis needs to go kiss Tucker’s ring to get him on his side and help be a kingmaker for him.
  • Speaker 1
    0:04:44

    Mhmm.
  • Speaker 2
    0:04:45

    And when they show up to the house, this is DeSantis kept using his outdoor voice inside. And then it’s like Good. Yeah. Then it’s like pushing the dogs away with his feet, to such a degree that that the wife wonders Susie wonders whether or not he’s in fact kicked a dog. I’m not sure.
  • Speaker 2
    0:05:09

    It’s like, I keep thinking like, what could be worse to happen to Ron DeSantis at this point. And I’m not sure, like, a story about you potentially kicking a dog might might be might be on the list of things where it could get worse.
  • Speaker 1
    0:05:23

    It’s, I mean, look, this it just reinforces my My belief that all of these people who hitched their wagon to DeSantis did so without ever actually watching him It was it was just on paper. Like, they just looked at the resume. Yeah. I’m like, yeah, that guy. Mhmm.
  • Speaker 1
    0:05:41

    You know, he deployed with the navy seal and he won reelection by nineteen points. So, he’ll he’ll win. Let’s do that. Yeah. So that’s that’s pretty good.
  • Speaker 1
    0:05:53

    There’s a lot of stuff about how Rupert so I guess here is the Here’s the thing. I read this entire story as as a synecdoche for the entire Republican Party establishment and its relationship with Trump.
  • Speaker 2
    0:06:12

    Yeah.
  • Speaker 1
    0:06:13

    And you could say that Rupert’s story is Kevin McCarthy’s story is Mitch McConnell’s story, is Marco Rubio’s story. They’re all the it’s the same story for all of them. And what happens is they are confronted with the choice between losing something. And in Rupert’s case, it’s just ratings points. Yep.
  • Speaker 1
    0:06:39

    Just ratings points. So Fox doesn’t even make any money from ads. It makes its money from carriage fees. So it’s not like, you know, going down in the ratings, means, I mean, they they weren’t they’re barely able to run ads on Tucker’s show to begin with because advertisers had no you know, just like people selling gold coins. On his show because the the big big money advertisers want nothing to do with that brand.
  • Speaker 1
    0:07:01

    And so Fox’s profits come mostly from cable carriage fees. And that is a declining business anyway irrespective of whatever your ratings are. Carriage fees is, you know, the death of Linear TV is gonna mean that all of stuff is going away over the course of the next fifteen or twenty years. Rupert has more money than he knows what to do with. And so But he is obsessed with the number.
  • Speaker 1
    0:07:24

    Like, you know, he’s he’s running around going, we gotta get off of Trump, but but our ratings are down four percent. Oh, that how don’t we fix that? And I it’s just as if as if it should be free. Right? As if doing the right thing should be free.
  • Speaker 1
    0:07:41

    And you know what? If doing the right thing was free, then everyone would do it. Right? That’s That’s why people don’t do the right thing. Yep.
  • Speaker 1
    0:07:49

    Because it it costs. And it’s the same for all of them. It’s the same for Rubiovio. It’s the same for McConnell. And I don’t understand not being willing to pay the costs when you have the means to do so.
  • Speaker 1
    0:08:05

    That’s what I don’t get. Like, I understand I understand the foot soldiers. Right? Somebody who, you know, who was living paycheck to paycheck who just realizes that they can make a ton of money as a trump influencer, you know, and like, really turn their lives around and do it, like, okay. I get that.
  • Speaker 1
    0:08:22

    But, you know, Mitch McConnell’s gonna be fine. If Mitch McConnell lost his Senate seat, he’d be fine. You know, porter, you know, Bob porter is fine. All of these people are the I I don’t I really don’t get it. You know, and Rupert not being willing to, like, lose lose a little bit more money a little faster than he would have anyway because the of the decline of linear cable carriage.
  • Speaker 1
    0:08:49

    I don’t get it.
  • Speaker 2
    0:08:52

    Yeah. Okay. So this is the nature of faustian bargains. You’re right that they’re all the same. Right?
  • Speaker 2
    0:09:00

    They all made a bargain to do a thing they knew was wrong to try to something in return or hold on to something, actually, in in in most cases. But the thing is and I think this is, when people tell this story decades from now. It’ll be Shakespeareian in the tragic way that ultimately, like, the last line is something like not much of a way for a kingmaker to go out. That’s not what it says, but it’s it’s it’s like you know, the voices of his angry children clamoring in his ears, because, you know, this family has been split over the aiding abetting, of Trump. But it will be a tragedy of the way people sold their souls.
  • Speaker 2
    0:09:48

    And just came to ruin in return. Right? And, like, soul ruin. Like, it it they end up hollow. Like, they they thought they were protecting something.
  • Speaker 2
    0:10:00

    But at the end of the day, They’re just, like, empty inside living with living with the realization that they they help make this happen. And and, actually, this is something I, I don’t know if you saw Tim getting in this argument with baseball crank, that stupid Dan McGlox.
  • Speaker 1
    0:10:20

    I promise you I didn’t tell me all about it.
  • Speaker 2
    0:10:22

    No. It’s whatever. He you know, there’s this way that sort of the the folks who didn’t haven’t lifted a finger against Trump, but claimed to be anti trump, but have not nothing but carry their water and talk about how the other side is worse. There’s so little self awareness of the role that they played. Right?
  • Speaker 2
    0:10:48

    They’re they’re in fact, they try to take this moral high road that says, like, no. They stuck to their principles because they’re pro life and pro constitution. And so they are they are sticking to their principles. The stories that these guys tell themselves I do wonder at what point they do it’s that are we the baddies. But it’s like, do they look themselves because it this is what it felt like for Rupert Murdoch that there was this this slow realization that the whole thing had gotten away from him, right, that he couldn’t control it.
  • Speaker 2
    0:11:23

    But there was not, like, a reckoning yet of the role he played in it. You know what I mean? Like Yeah.
  • Speaker 1
    0:11:33

    Yeah. Well, but here’s, you know, history is written by the Victor’s. And I think that story and that reckoning only happens. If trump loses again, and the Republican Party eventually overthrows this Maga insurrection. If Trump wins, none of this stuff matters.
  • Speaker 1
    0:11:58

    Right. I mean, the the those the people who who ate it and abetted, they’re never held to account. They’re, you know, they’re just part of the story of trumpism, you know? The this idea that these people will wind up shamed and, you know, the the blue viewed as tragic figures presupposes that the forces of good win.
  • Speaker 2
    0:12:17

    I actually think it’s the opposite, though. I think that if Trump wins, And we like, I don’t know what events follow that, but I can tell you they’re probably pretty bad. At which point, I think that’s when people are forced to reckon with it. I actually think that a Joe Biden winning, like, kinda lets these guys off the hook. Right?
  • Speaker 2
    0:12:45

    Because that’s what they all want. They wanna be like, I didn’t do anything with this. I didn’t vote for Democrats. But, like, we need Joe Biden to win because this guy’s bad.
  • Speaker 1
    0:12:55

    Maybe. But, you know, Trump wins are just gonna keep carrying water for him. I mean, none of them none of them are gonna
  • Speaker 2
    0:13:02

    none of
  • Speaker 1
    0:13:02

    them are gonna get a flip and say, oh, wow, wow. This is really bad. Some other nuggets from the the Michael Wolf story, Tucker’s firing was explicitly part of the deal with, with dominion. And that originally Fox had offered a Hannity as the sacrificial Lam. So this was fascinating.
  • Speaker 1
    0:13:24

    So Dominion wanted a billion. Rupert said, I won’t do a billion. Like, he just he had to be under ten figures. That was his, you know, It could be nine hundred ninety nine billion and not you know, nine hundred ninety nine million dollars, but he wouldn’t go to a billion. And so Deminion said, well, what if we went under a billion, but, but you gave us hannity?
  • Speaker 1
    0:13:48

    And Trump, like, the Trump, Murdoch lowballed them underneath. It was like, no. I only wanna do I only wanna do seven hundred eighty million. And I’m like, oh, they’re gonna need a little bit of something more then. And he’s like, how about Tucker?
  • Speaker 1
    0:14:00

    I’ll give you Tucker. And so this was a handshake deal. And the So these these bargains are given a week to sort of, you know, See if everybody’s complying with them before they actually signed signed the documents at the courthouse, and that’s why Tucker was fired six days after. The dominion settlement was announced, which is fascinating. Well, I found it fascinating anyway.
  • Speaker 1
    0:14:30

    All all of this stuff, all the maneuvers with, the CNN town hall as well, where
  • Speaker 2
    0:14:37

    This part is really interesting. The way that Trump leverages, his celebrity to play off because, like, so Fox Blackballs him. Right? Murdoch says, no, because they’re in the tank for DeSantis. And they’re trying to keep Trump off the air.
  • Speaker 2
    0:14:55

    And so Trump says, good. I’ll go to CNN. CNN’s happy to take him. Because Trump knows, like, trump’s not troubled by the Fox Blackball because he believes his celebrity is bigger than all that. And he he leverages.
  • Speaker 2
    0:15:09

    Like, handy is to call and beg him not to do the CNN town hall. At the same time that Hannity shows on the air when Mike Pence is supposed to be the guest.
  • Speaker 1
    0:15:19

    And so Trump originally says that they’re gonna do the CNN town hall during Hannity’s time slot. And only our because as a out of deference to Tucker. But then when Fox kicks Tucker out, then they say, Fine. We’ll do it during Tucker’s old time slot, and Hannah is totally relieved, and then Hannah starts calling the the Trump to people up and begging. Please don’t run over the hour.
  • Speaker 1
    0:15:43

    Please don’t run into my time slot. But the again, the complicity of CNN, for saying yes. Yeah. CNN agreeing to be a pawn in Trump’s war against Fox News is absolutely despicable. Absolutely despicable.
  • Speaker 1
    0:15:58

    And Chris Licks just
  • Speaker 2
    0:15:59

    And an un and and interestingly kind of an unexplained part of the Chris Licked story. Right? And all of the things in the profile of Chris Lick and all of the back story around that that piece that, like, he was doing it to leverage Trump against Fox. Was that was something. And and that
  • Speaker 1
    0:16:20

    Trump is the one who then changed the timing out of it.
  • Speaker 2
    0:16:23

    Yeah.
  • Speaker 1
    0:16:24

    Again, if true, because this is Michael Wolf.
  • Speaker 2
    0:16:27

    Yeah.
  • Speaker 1
    0:16:27

    But, you know, so original again, originally, they were gonna do it at a different time, and Trump is the one he said, no. We’re gonna do it at this other time. And it’s purely as part of his own, you know, trying to work Fox. And and it worked. Right?
  • Speaker 1
    0:16:40

    I mean, Fox is back on the Trump train, and Sienna helped make that happen. That’s really bad. It’s really bad.
  • Speaker 2
    0:16:48

    It’s really bad.
  • Speaker 1
    0:16:52

    Anything else from that, that big piece that stuck out at you?
  • Speaker 2
    0:16:58

    I mean, it’s full of fun stuff. There’s that story that kinda got leaked about Rupert’s fourth Fiance and how she it was meant the whole dinner with Tucker talking about how he was an agent of god or something. Yeah. And how that Rupert called off the engagement.
  • Speaker 1
    0:17:14

    Like, two weeks later. Yeah.
  • Speaker 2
    0:17:16

    That’s great stuff. I don’t know. Some of this stuff about talker as this. He’s as he’s he’s this part about he’s not anti black. He’s not anti
  • Speaker 1
    0:17:31

    He’s just anti Catholic. Yeah.
  • Speaker 2
    0:17:33

    He’s not anti semitic. He’s anti Catholic, but that that’s actually him saying he’s, like, against people coming to America period. Like, he’s against the the, like and so that that weird Blue Blood, Old America, daughters of the American Revolution, my family, like, landed on Plymouth Rock, like, came over on the Mayflower. And therefore, We live in a different universe than the rest of you. That stuff, I find wild.
  • Speaker 2
    0:18:05

    Because I just don’t understand it. It’s so against the concept of America.
  • Speaker 1
    0:18:10

    But it is true.
  • Speaker 2
    0:18:11

    I I know that this thing exists, but, like, it’s weird to be confronted with it and also to have but this is a Trump’s not exactly the same because, trump is always sort of like trashy in his own way. Like, he’s not of that that group of people. Like, they would never, accept him. But it is these people who are, like, insanely rich and their entire lineage has been rich, but somehow what they do is court people that they would never sit down with for one second, like, that they would never spend time with or let into their club or into their penthouse or sit on their golden toilet.
  • Speaker 1
    0:18:53

    And those people are so stupid that they fall for it. Yeah. Oh, how
  • Speaker 2
    0:18:57

    about the bit about Tucker when he started noodling running for president.
  • Speaker 1
    0:19:02

    And and, Trump floating the idea, like, maybe I should have Tucker’s my running mate. Which could absolutely happen.
  • Speaker 2
    0:19:10

    Which, you know, the more you read about this stuff, like, it’s funny. I don’t wanna the the millie piece and the Wolf piece are obviously very different. But the extent to which Trump like, is sort of playing people all the time off of each other? Like, like the He does he he I don’t know. He he really does understand some things about human beings, and knows how to how to play them.
  • Speaker 1
    0:19:42

    He’s not smart, but he’s cunning.
  • Speaker 2
    0:19:43

    Yeah.
  • Speaker 1
    0:19:44

    Right? So let’s talk about the milly piece, which is is the more important piece and the piece that you can trust everything in because it’s Jeff Goldberg who had an all access pass to Mark Millley. I was it’s a Like the the the Tucker Murdoch thing, like so many of the things that we read now, it is shocking without being surprising.
  • Speaker 2
    0:20:09

    Right.
  • Speaker 1
    0:20:09

    Because we didn’t know all of the details, but we all got the sense that these things were happening. It isn’t like, you know, hey, it turns out there is an area fifty four and we have aliens there. And people go, what Holy crap. We have aliens. It’s yeah.
  • Speaker 1
    0:20:25

    All this stuff that we thought was happening actually was happening. And it’s It’s terrifying. The the I had forgotten that, Jim Mattis and John Kelly had a pact that they would never both be out of the country at the same time because they were afraid of Trump doing something that would need to be stopped by one of them? What the fuck? I mean, this is I I I just wrote this in in today’s newsletter.
  • Speaker 1
    0:20:58

    This is a state of affairs, which not only had, you know, has never happened before. We have never in America contemplated that it could happen. Yeah. Nobody has ever imagined that we could have a president so dangerous that his own appointees would be coming up with systems to stop him. Because they believed him to be a danger to the Republic.
  • Speaker 1
    0:21:20

    And it’s like all in in the millie piece all of the the damning stuff, it’s not coming from resistance lives. It’s not coming from Democrats. It’s not coming from people like, you know, never trumpers like you may It’s coming from the people Trump appointed to work with him most closely at the highest levels of his own government. And somehow this makes no impression on voters? I don’t understand it.
  • Speaker 2
    0:21:47

    Oh, I gotta so Let me ask you something actually before I say this. How did you come away feeling about Millie from this piece?
  • Speaker 1
    0:21:58

    Grateful.
  • Speaker 2
    0:21:59

    Yeah. That’s how you felt.
  • Speaker 1
    0:22:01

    Yeah. How about you?
  • Speaker 2
    0:22:05

    I’m not grateful. I am it makes me angrier and angrier. Do you know why people don’t know this story because these voters don’t read the Atlantic. And because these guys do not get up in front of microphones. They didn’t then.
  • Speaker 2
    0:22:26

    They don’t now. And say, let me tell you what I saw. Like, we are in the middle right now of a Republican primary, and every Republican who ever worked with Trump, where everybody he appointed, knows what a psychopath he is. And every time I read one of these stories, where the scale of the threat, half this piece Well, I don’t know. Half of the piece of that of that I read.
  • Speaker 1
    0:22:50

    Half of the half you read. Half of
  • Speaker 2
    0:22:51

    the half I read is about our nuclear triad. It’s about What it would take to launch it? Do you know why? Because people think that Donald Trump is a psychopath and they wanna understand both this reporter and it what it would take for Trump to push a button and send us all into nuclear annihilation. Okay.
  • Speaker 2
    0:23:10

    No higher stakes. No higher stakes in the universe. So you what? Sit down with the Atlantic and let them write a really, a profile that makes you look like a hero. With, like, nice photographs.
  • Speaker 2
    0:23:23

    Look, I’m not saying he didn’t do the right thing. Would it mattered? I’m not saying he wasn’t behind the scenes, making like, good judgments, although there’s also mixed in some very horrible judgments, which he acknowledges. Right? I support this.
  • Speaker 2
    0:23:37

    Like, he acknowledges that him walking out in his fatigues when Trump cleared the protesters, that that was wrong. And he said that publicly, and that’s good. And and I think that Of the on the scale of people who sort of, like, worked for Trump and and talked on background and Bulwark whatever. He’s he he’s up in the higher. Echelons of this, but the higher the up these guys are, the mattresses.
  • Speaker 2
    0:24:01

    Mattis is another one, right? It’s a piece for the Atlantic a while back. Right? And it’s a A good piece talking about the threat that Trump poses. But if this guy poses a threat, I have nuclear annihilation because he’s an insane person who would have control of the button.
  • Speaker 2
    0:24:18

    Why aren’t you every day? Out in front, telling Republican voters what you saw, constantly on on, on TV, constantly, pleading with people. Why aren’t you getting George w Bush out there too? Why aren’t you getting condoleezza rice? Why aren’t you convening rooms?
  • Speaker 2
    0:24:37

    Of everyone who can make a difference in saying, guys. This is the scariest thing I’ve ever seen. What are we doing gonna do about it? What are we all gonna do about it? The way that just telling the Atlantic is not enough, and I had they hate the way.
  • Speaker 2
    0:24:50

    It seems like these guys say, well, you know, I sat for a big profile in the Atlantic and I told the truth or I told I did a lot of things on background and it’s in Susan Glasser and Peter Baker’s book. That isn’t do you know who doesn’t read Peter Baker and Susan Clacer’s book? Why not?
  • Speaker 1
    0:25:05

    Oh, why why doesn’t Pletus read their books, Sarah Longwell.
  • Speaker 2
    0:25:08

    It’s just
  • Speaker 1
    0:25:11

    don’t respond to that. I’m just baiting you.
  • Speaker 2
    0:25:14

    Anyway, this is Like, I actually find pieces like this. Just their mind blowing in the They are saying explicitly we have this scale of fear about Trump. He’s mentally and morally unfit. That’s there’s nothing clearer than that in these pieces. And yet there’s no action that seems to fit the scale of that threat.
  • Speaker 1
    0:25:41

    So let me agree in general, but disagree in the specific.
  • Speaker 2
    0:25:44

    K.
  • Speaker 1
    0:25:45

    I I agree wholeheartedly about all of that. I don’t agree in the specific case of Millie because Hey, again, it’s JBL. The conversation goes on from there. If you wanna hear the rest of the show, head on over to Bulwark Plus and subscribe. We’d love to have you.
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