Matt Bai

October 13, 2014 - Matt Bai 10/13/2014 Views: 23,202

Matt Bai explains how the Gary Hart scandal altered the boundaries between politicians' public and private lives in "All the Truth Is Out: The Week Politics Went Tabloid." (6:50)

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)>> Jon: WELCOME BACK,

MY GUEST TONIGHT THENATIONAL POLITICAL

CORRESPONDENT FOR YAHOO!NEWS, HIS NEW BOOK CALLED

"ALL THE TRUTH IS OUT, THEWEEK POLITICS WENT TABLOID."

PLEASE WELCOME TO THEPROGRAM MATT BAI.

MATT!

>> NICE TO SEE YOU.

>> NICE TO SEE YOU, THANKYOU.

>> THANK YOU FOR BEING HERE.

THIS IS "ALL THE TRUTH ISOUT.

THE WEEK POLITICS WENTTABLOID."

I HAVE TO TELL YOU, SO THISCONCERNS GARY HART RUNNING

FOR PRESIDENT IN 1987.

>> 1987.

>> AND I WAS ALIVE THEN.

I WAS AN OLD MAN THEN,EVEN THEN.

BUT IN REREADING, IN GOING ITOVER, I HAVE MISREMEMBERED

ALMOST THE ENTIRE AFFAIR.

>> YES.

>> AND IS THAT SOMETHING THATYOU FOUND THE GARY HART

AFFAIR HAS ITS OWN SORT OFLEGEND AND THAT MUCH OF IT

IS NOT TRUE?

>> YES. YES, ARE YOU NOTALONE.

BASICALLY EVERYTHING PEOPLEREMEMBER ABOUT THIS, IF THEY

REMEMBER IT AT ALL, IS NOTTRUE.

EVERYBODY THINKS THERE WAS APICTURE OF THE WOMAN DONNA

RICE ON HIS LAP AND THATDROVE HIM OUT OF THE RACE.

>> Jon: RIGHT.>> IN FACT --

>> Jon: AND THE T-SHIRT THATSAYS, WHAT IS IT,

MONKEY BUSINESS.>> MONKEY BUSINESS.

>> Jon: YEAH.>> IN FACT,

IT DIDN'T DRIVE HIM OUT OFTHE RACE IT WAS THREE WEEKS

AFTER THE RACE AND IT WASN'TTAKEN ON A BOAT, IT WAS TAKEN

ON A DOCK WITH HUNDREDS OFPEOPLE MILLING AROUND.

AND THE BIGGEST THING I THINKPEOPLE MISREMEMBER,

IS EVERYBODY THINKS HE SAIDFOLLOW ME AROUND.

AND-- .

>> Jon: RIGHT, HE CHALLENGEDREPORTERS, YOU THINK I'VE

GOT A PROBLEM.

FOLLOW ME AROUND, I WILLPROVE I DON'T.

>> RIGHT, THE REALITY IS HEDID SAY THAT TO A SINGLE

REPORTER, BUT IT WAS NOTPUBLIC OR KNOWN TO ANYONE AT

THE TIME WHEN THE "MIAMIHERALD" SENT A BUNCH OF

REPORTERS TO GO PUT HIM UNDERSURVEILLANCE AT HIS TOWN HOUSE.

>> Jon: RIGHT.

>> IT WAS VERY SIGNIFICANT, ASYOU KNOW, BECAUSE WHAT IT MEANS

IS THAT THE BOUNDARIESWEREN'T ACTUALLY REWRITTEN

BETWEEN PRIVATE AND PUBLICLIVES BECAUSE GARY HART SAID

LET'S REWRITE THEM. ITACTUALLY WAS A MEDIA

DECISION, IT WAS A DECISION MYINDUSTRY MADE.

AND HERE YOU HAVE THE PRESUMEDNOMINEE OF THE DEMOCRATIC

PARTY, HE'S THE HILLRY CLINTONOF HIS DAY.

>> Jon: RIGHT.>> WAY AHEAD IN THE POLLS.

PINNED UP AGAINST A BRICKWALL ON THE SIDE OF HIS

TOWNHOUSE.

>> Jon: RIGHT. THEY CHASED HIMOUT OF THE BACK DOOR OF HIS

HAT, YES? -- OF, OF HIS HOUSE.

>> YEAH, YEAH, WEARING A WHITEHOODIE.

AND THEY'RE PEPPERING HIM WITHQUESTIONS ABOUT WHO IS THE

WOMAN IN YOUR HOUSE, HAVEYOU HAD SEX WITH THAT WOMAN,

THIS HAS NEVER HAPPENEDBEFORE.

IN THAT ALLEY, I THINK THERULES OF POLITICS AND

POLITICAL JOURNALISM CHANGEDFOREVER.

IT'S A GRIPPING STORY.

>> Jon: THE IDEA TOO THAT,YOU KNOW, IN THIS DAY AND

AGE PEOPLE CATCH THINGS ONCELL PHONES AND THINGS.

THIS WAS SET UP SURVEILLANCE.

>> YES.

>> Jon: TO CATCH A GUY BASEDON AN ANONYMOUS TIP.

>> THAT'S RIGHT.

>> Jon: THAT HAD COME IN,THAT HE WAS HAVING A

DALLIANCE.

AND PART OF THE ISSUE IS,WHEN DID THAT BECOME FODDER

FOR THE CAMPAIGN.

BECAUSE CERTAINLY KENNEDY,CERTAINLY JOHNSON, CERTAINLY

MANY OF THE POLITICIANS THATHAVE RUN THIS COUNTRY AND WE

IDOLIZED, HAD ISSUES LIKETHIS.

>> RIGHT.

WELL, CHARACTER WAS ALWAYS APART OF POLITICS.

AND SOMETIMES SEX BECAME APART OF POLITICS.

THE MEDIA DID NOT GO LOOKINGFOR IT.

>> Jon: RIGHT.

>> AND NO ONE WAS SORT OFCOMPLETELY DEFINED AND

DISGRACED IN THE WAY QUITETHAT HE WAS BEFORE.

AND THERE WAS A LOT GOING ON, ASYOU MENTIONED THE SATELLITE

DISH.>> Jon: RIGHT.

>> YOU HAD THIS GENERATIONCOMING INTO JOURNALISM AFTER

WATERGATE THATS HAD WOODWARDAND BERNSTEIN IN THEIR MINDS

AND ALSO WHAT THEY SEE AS THEMORAL FAILURES OF NIXON AND

THAT THAT HAS TO BE ADDRESSED.

SO YOU HAVE A LOT THAT ISCHANGING WITH HIM.

>> Jon: RIGHT.

>> AND IN THAT CAULDRON,HART SORT OF WALKS INTO IT.

I MEAN, IT WAS GONNA HAPPEN.

I THINK IT WAS INEVITABLE. IDON'T THINK THE "MIAMI HERALD"

DID THIS, I DON'TTHINK GARY HART DID THIS.

I THINK SOMEBODY HAD TO WALKINTO IT.

>> Jon: IF IT WASN'T GARYHART, IT WAS GOING TO BE SOMEONE

ELSE.

>> ABSOLUTELY. YEAH.

BUT WAS HIM AND I THINK THATMOMENT TELLS US A LOT OF HOW

WE GOT TO THE PLACE WHERE WEARE WHERE OUR POLITICS

FEEL SO STERILEAND OUR POLITICIANS SO

REMOTE AND OURJOURNALISM, OFTEN...

>> Jon: RIGHT.

>> SO NOT ILLUMINATINGFOR THE THINGS THAT MATTER.

>> Jon: SO AT THIS POINT, THEGENERAL RAMIFICATIONS OF THIS

ARE POLITICIANS BECOMEINCREDIBLY CAUTIOUS.

THEY DON'T-- IT BECOMES NOWABOUT REALLY SCRIPTING A

CAMPAIGN IN A WAY THAT DIDNOT EXIST PRIOR TO THAT?

>> THAT'S RIGHT.

>> DID NIXON DID NOT DO THAT,KENNEDY -- I MEAN, THEY MUST

HAVE ALL HAD SPIN TEAMS BUT WERETHEY MORE, WERE THEY LESS

GUARDED WITH THE PRESS THANTHEY ARE NOW?

>> MUCH MORE SO.

MUCH MORE SO.>> Jon: YEAH.

>> AND YOU KNOW, YOU SEE IT, INTHAT MOMENT, JUST AFTER THAT

STAKEOUT, RIGHT, THEY GO TO NEWHAMPSHIRE AND THERE IS THIS

FAMOUS NEWS CONFERENCE WHERETHE REPORTER FROM "THE

WASHINGTON POST" PAUL TAYLORSAYS IN FRONT OF A CROWDED ROOM

OF PRESS SAYS TO HART, SENATOR,HAVE YOU EVER COMMITTED

ADULTERY.

NO CANDIDATE WAS EVER ASKEDTHAT KIND OF BLANKET QUESTION.

>> Jon: AND DO YOU THINK IT'SBECAUSE IT'S, IT'S EASIER,

IT'S MORE SALACIOUS, IT SELLSMORE PAPERS THAN TRYING TO FIND

OUT THE MORAL FABRIC OF ANINDIVIDUAL WITH REAL VIRTUES

THAT MATTER IN GOVERNANCE?

>> WELL, I THINK CERTAINLYAFTER RICHARD NIXON THERE

WAS A LEGITIMATE AND GENUINEFEELING THAT PERSONAL

MORALITY MATTERED MORE.>> Jon: RIGHT.

>> THAT CHARACTER HAD ACTUALLYDONE HIM IN AND DONE THE

COUNTRY IN MORE THANPOLICY.

AND SO THERE WAS A, THERE WAS AREASONABLE IMPULSE THERE.

BUT I THINK MOSTLY WE HAVEVEERED AND BEGAN TO VEER IN

THAT MOMENT INTO THE REALMOF ENTERTAINMENT.

INTO THE IDEA THAT CAMPAIGNSAND POLITICS HAD TO UNFOLD

LIKE STORY ARCS, HAD TO HAVECHARACTERS, HAD TO HAVE PLOT

TWISTS.>> Jon: A DRAMATIC NARRATIVE.

>> WE HAD TO HAVE, SUDDENLY WEHAD THESE SATELLITE DISHES AND

YOU COULD GO LIVE FROM ANYWHEREAT ANY POINT.

AND YOU HAD TO HAVESOMETHING TO GO LIVE WITH.

>> Jon: RIGHT.

>> AND REMEMBER THAT SAMEYEAR IS THE JIM BAKER AND

TAMMY'S FAYE BAKER SCANDAL.>> Jon: YES.

>> WHICH YOU WOULD HAVE HAD AGREAT TIME WITH.

>> Jon: OH YES.

>> WITH THE MASCARA STREAKEDFACE AND ALL THAT.

>> Jon: SO MUCH MAKEUP.

>> AND FAWN HALL AND OLVERNORTH.

>> Jon: FAWN HALL, RIGHT. THEYWENT ON A JAG.

>> ALL THE SAME YEAR.

>> THEY WENT ON ACRAZY -- YOU'RE RIGHT.

>> YEAH>> Jon: THAT WAS --

>> SO YOU CAN SEE THAT MOMENTCOMING --

>> Jon: AND I DIDN'TREALIZE, I DIDN'T REMEMBER HART

WENT BACK INTO THE RACE.

>> YES, HE DOES.

>> Jon: HE WENT BACK IN.

>> YEAH, YEAH, THAT'S THEDECISION I THINK HE REALLY

REGRETTED.>> Jon: RIGHT.

>> IS HE SORT OF WALKED AWAY ANDHE SAID THIS IS NOBODY'S

BUSINESS, AND THISIS NO WAY TO RUN A

CAMPAIGN AND I'M NOT GONNAPUT PEOPLE THROUGH THIS.

>> Jon: AND THEN HE JUMPED BACKIN.

>> HE CAME BACK IN IT WENT VERY,VERY POORLY.

HE REGISTERED 0 PERCENT INIOWA WHICH IS NOT IDEAL.

(LAUGHTER)

>> Jon: RIGHT. THAT IS TRUE.

DO YOU BELIEVE THAT WE HAVE,BECAUSE OF THE WAY THAT

POLITICS IS COVERED NOW, DOYOU BELIEVE WE HAVE LOST OUT

ON TRULY GREAT AND POSSIBLYGREAT LEADERS BECAUSE OF THE

WAY THAT WE COVER THEM?

ARE THERE, AND THIS ISOBVIOUSLY A HYPOTHETICAL,

BUT DO YOU THINK THERE AREPEOPLE OF SUBSTANCE WHO

COULD HAVE DONE THIS COUNTRYGREAT THINGS, WHO WE WILL

JUST NEVER KNOW ABOUTBECAUSE OF THE CORROSIVE

NATURE OF OUR POLITICS?

>> I DO, JON.

I HAVE BEEN COVERINGNATIONAL POLITICS FOR 15 YEARS.

>> Jon: RIGHT.

>> AND HAVE COVERED FOURPRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGNS.

I DO THINK WE LOSE PEOPLEWHO DON'T WANT TO PUT

THEMSELVES THROUGH THISUNENDUREABLE PROCESS,

OR THEIR FAMILIES THROUGH IT.

I THINK WE DRUM GOOD PEOPLEOUT OF POLITICS WHO ARE

DEFINED BY THE SINGLE WORSTTHING THEY HAVE EVER DONE AS

OPPOSED TO THE CONTEXT OFTHEIR PUBLIC LIVES AND I THINK

WE MAKE IT MUCH MUCH EASIERFOR PEOPLE WHO HAVE NO

BUSINESS HOLDING OFFICE TOENTER THE PROCESS.

BECAUSE WHEN YOU'RE NOTTALKING ABOUT IDEAS AND

WORLDVIEWS AND AGENDA.

WHEN ARE YOU TALKING ABOUTCHARACTER AND PERSONALITY,

IT MAKES IT VERY EASY FORSOMEONE TO FLOAT THROUGH THE

PROCESS WITHOUT EVER HAVINGTO EXPLAIN THEMSELVES OR

DEMONSTRATE WHAT THEY KNOW.

(APPLAUSE)>> Jon: THAT WAS AWESOME.

YOU SHOULD WRITE THAT DOWN. THATWHOLE THING YOU JUST SAID.

>> I THINK I DID.

>> Jon: "ALL THE TRUTH ISOUT."

IT'S ON THE BOOK SHELVES NOW,MATT BAI.

>> THANK YOU.