CQ Interview: Bernard Goldberg

Bernard Goldberg has a new paperback edition of his book, The 100 110 People Who Are Screwing Up America (And Al Franken Is #37), coming out tomorrow and available now through Amazon and through his own website. He has added ten new entries to his list, expanded his opening comments, and discussed some of the experiences he had last year when promoting the book the first time around.
CQ readers will remember that I interviewed Bernard last year on the first release. I just concluded a terrific interview with him this evening and will be posting a long article based on the interview. (Podcasting will not be possible due to some technical problems with the recording.) Stay tuned!
Bernard Golderg Interview
When we started out, I knew that Bernard would have some time constraints. He had very graciously allowed me to reschedule to the evening while still giving me the first interview of his promotional tour. I thanked him for that at the start of the interview, but he told me that he wanted to make sure that we could connect. “You were the first person I spoke to a year ago,” he explained, “and the buzz it created is still appreciated to this day.”
The new version adds ten more people to the list, as I noted above, and I asked Bernard if that meant that we were ten percent more screwed up than last year. “No,” he replied with a laugh, “what it means is that I wanted to update the book, and I did it in two way. I wrote an extended introduction which told about some of the insane things that happened to me since the book came out … and the second way I did it was to add the names of people who have done things since the book came out. I wanted to freshen up the book by writing about some of those people.”
Bernie and I talked about the “insane things” that happened to him on his first promotional tour for the book last year. I asked him which experience was the most insane, and he answered as I suspected: his appearance on the Donny Deutsch show, The Big Idea. I covered that story in these posts last year, when an inside source tipped me to the brouhaha. It would be hard to imagine a more insane experience on a promotional tour than that. “There were five people yelling at me,” he said, “all of whom had not read the book. I was the only one on the show who actually read the book.” However, Bernard also says that most of his media experiences were positive and that he enjoyed promoting the book, for the most part.
So who made the addendum to the Top 100? You have to read the book, of course, but Bernard spoke about three of the new additions. The first person on his mind was Ramsey Clark, the defender of many tinpot dictators and torturers, with Saddam the latest in a long line of miscreant clients. Bernard acknowledges that every defendant deserves a defense, but he points out that Clark has a long pattern of defending America’s enemies. “I’ll grant you, Saddam Hussein deserves a lawyer,” he told me. “Over the last twenty years — let me just go over a quick list [of Clark clients].”

  • 1980 – “While Americans were being held hostage in Iran, Ramsey Clark flew over to Teheran and attended what they called a Crimes of America Conference.”
  • 1984 – “He defended a Nazi concentration camp boss. They were trying to deport this guy, and Clark defended him.
  • 1986 – “After the United States bombed the terrorist training facilities in Libya, Ramsey Clark got on an airplane to Tripoli to console Gaddafi.”
  • 1986 again – “When a civil suit was filed against the PLO for the Achille Lauro hijacking … where the PLO killed Leon Klinghoffer and threw him over the side because he was Jewish … Ramsey Clark took the case for the PLO.”
  • That isn’t all. Clark also represented the defendants of the first World Trade Center attack when they came to trial in 1995. He also represented Slobodan Milosevic at the Hague in his war-crimes tribunal. His last client before Saddam was a Rwandan pastor who assisted in the genocide that took place under the nose of the UN. “This guy is a terrorist ambulance chaser,” Bernard says. “You have to really hate America to take on the clients he has taken on.” He says that taking any one case would be understandable, but that this pattern shows a deeper antipathy towards America.
    Speaking of antipathy, the second entry on his new batch highlights the Graede twins, Lamb and Lynx. If the names do not sound familiar to you, you may know them as Prussian Blue, the neo-Nazi teenage singing sensations. ABC News called them “the Olson twins of the white nationalist movement”, a description echoed by Bernard. “They’re impossibly cute, and they remind you of the Olson twins. The Gaede twins are the neo-Nazi version. … They sing at fun events like Holocaust denial events, white-supremacist meetings, and they sing songs honoring people like Rudolf Hess.” Saying that “it’s almost like a Mel Brooks movie,” Bernard described how they give little sieg Heil! signs during their performances, which get mirrored back by the men in the audience. “You can make a case that the real villains are not the Gaede twins — after all, these are just pathetic little girls — but the stage mother, April, who really is the white-supremacist grown-up in the family.” Their inclusion will hopefully revulse enough Americans to put an end to their career, but it’s probably wishful thinking at best.
    The third entry revealed by Bernard are the five justices who voted to uphold the Kelo decision. He makes the distinction that the five contribute positively to America as individuals, but in this case they did real damage to the most basic of our freedoms: property rights. Souter, Breyer, Stevens, Ginsburg, and Kennedy took the Constitution and turned it on its head by making the government the arbiter of the value of the private use of property. “I can’t believe Jefferson meant that,” he exclaimed, “I can’t believe that for a second.”
    At the end of the book in its first release, Bernard asked readers to send him suggestions for others who might qualify for the list I asked him if he took his additions from reader input. Not directly, he replied. “The people on the list got mentioned by readers,” he says, “but I didn’t count the entries to make my decision.” The additional entries came from his own judgment of them, but he did enjoy the input. I asked him if he would make this an annual event, but he seems inclined to let this be the last word. He has given his agent permission to take violent action if Bernard even suggests that he might write another book on the culture wars.
    I asked Bernard about the heavy tilt towards liberals on his list, and he acknowledges that. However, he points out that liberals control most of the cultural communications, and that most of the intolerance and rage comes from the Left. (If you doubt that, watch the Donny Deutsch show again.) Bernard points out that he used to identify as a liberal until recently and still considers himself more of a libertarian than anything else. He feels that liberal anger from the election of 2000 drives most of the irrationality coming from liberals, and that the only cure might be losing more elections. He reminded me that conservative Democrats used to exist, and used Joe Lieberman as an example of why they have become such an endangered species. Bernard also thinks that Hillary Clinton is smart enough to avoid the problem in 2008.
    We also spoke of his experiences at HBO and CBS. Bernard has reported for HBO for seven years on Real Sports, and the first season he worked for both companies. I asked him if he felt more able to do the kind of reporting that he prefers at HBO. Bernard recast the question in terms of the cultural differences. At HBO, he says, colleagues root for each other to succeed in their ventures inside and outside of the network. At the Tiffany Network, it’s very different: “At CBS News, correspondents rooted for other correspondents — to get hit by a truck. … The atmosphere at CBS News was pathological. Only after I left, Ed, did I realize how liberating that decision was.”
    He plans to continue at Real Sports for the foreseeable future, good news for fans of the show and of Bernard’s reporting. He has won six Emmys for his work at CBS News and one at Real Sports, but also added a Columbia-du Pont award last year for a story in which he takes particular pride. He revealed the abuse of young boys in the United Arab Emirates by forcing them to become camel jockeys — and earned the first du Pont award for a sports journalist.
    The paperback comes out tomorrow morning. Be sure to add it to your reading list. My review of the original release can be found here.
    UPDATE: Thanks, Glenn, for the link and for pointing out the formatting problems!