Me­dia Peo­ple



Fox News’ Martha Mac­Cal­lum talks about Pres­i­dent Trump, Jus­tice Ka­vanaugh and try­ing to main­tain a bal­anced view.

Martha Mac­Cal­lum knows, if noth­ing else, the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion is bring­ing good TV.

“It is like the ul­ti­mate re­al­ity TV show,” Mac­Cal­lum said, sit­ting at a ta­ble out­side the New York news­room of Fox News. The area has been re­mod­eled in re­cent months af­ter be­ing moved up to the sec­ond floor from the base­ment, some­thing Mac­Cal­lum, a Fox vet­eran at this point, is grate­ful for.

It’s brightly lit and clean with mod­ern mod­u­lar fur­ni­ture — if it weren’t for the pro­duc­ers run­ning back and forth (this was the day of the al­ready in­fa­mous Kanye West sum­mit at the White House) it could be the of­fice of any new com­pany.

But it’s Fox News, the 24-hour news net­work praised by Pres­i­dent Trump and his sup­port­ers as the only source of non­lib­eral news and ma­ligned by peo­ple and politi­cians on the left as now lit­tle more than state-run TV.

Mac­Cal­lum, who hosts “The Story” on week­nights, knows the coun­try is di­vided and that it’s easy to pan­der, but she wants to present both sides of the is­sues she cov­ers and does not want to be seen as a shill for the ad­min­is­tra­tion.

Dur­ing a re­cent show soon af­ter Trump sug­gested the mur­der of jour­nal­ist and Wash­ing­ton Post con­trib­u­tor Ja­mal Khashoggi was the work of “rogue killers,” Mac­Cal­lum told her guest Ju­dith Miller, a jour­nal­ist whose post-9/11 re­port­ing at The New York Times re­gard­ing Sad­dam Hus­sein’s weapons of mass de­struc­tion later proved largely in­ac­cu­rate, that the ex­pla­na­tion “strained credulity.” Miller pushed far­ther and said how “in­ter­est­ing” she found it that Trump was the very first per­son to float the the­ory, likely af­ter speak­ing with Saudi of­fi­cials, and called the en­tire episode “a huge diplo­matic em­bar­rass­ment.”

This is the kind of TV gold that the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion keeps crank­ing out and Mac­Cal­lum finds it all “fas­ci­nat­ing” — a word she uses a lot to de­scribe po­lit­i­cal episodes of late and pos­si­ble events of the fu­ture. She’s a jour­nal­ist, not a pun­dit, some­thing else she’s keen to clar­ify, and al­though her net­work has a par­tic­u­larly sym­bi­otic setup with Trump, she says it doesn’t in­flu­ence her work or her re­port­ing.

“When I did the Ka­vanaugh in­ter­view, I spent three-and-a-half hours in the car on the way to D.C. writ­ing my ques­tions and no­body weighed in on them at all,” Mac­Cal­lum said.

She thinks she got that in­ter­view (the only one that now Supreme Court Jus­tice Brett Ka­vanaugh has given since his nom­i­na­tion and the as­sault al­le­ga­tions levied against him by Chris­tine Blasey Ford) be­cause the White House wanted some­one who would ask “tough” ques­tions and get an­swers.

She fit the bill and de­liv­ered on the first part, but his ac­tual an­swers were very few. Mac­Cal­lum saw Ka­vanaugh was “seething” dur­ing her in­ter­view and con­tended that with­out it, the judge wouldn’t have shown his rage and tears be­fore the Se­nate.

That in­ter­view seems to have had some­thing of a halo ef­fect on Mac­Cal­lum, too. If you bring up her name to a non-Fox viewer, it may not ring a bell, but de­scribe her as the host who in­ter­viewed Ka­vanaugh and they’ll place her right away. Her rat­ings, too, con­sis­tently beat CNN and MSNBC do­ing the same time slot, ac­cord­ing to Nielsen.

WWD caught up with Mac­Cal­lum to talk about the pos­si­bil­ity of a Trump po­lit­i­cal dy­nasty, whether she thinks Ka­vanaugh should have been con­firmed, ha­rass­ment at Fox and even the mer­its of elec­tions based on a pop­u­lar vote, among other things.

WWD: Let’s start with how you got here to Fox News — you ac­tu­ally started in theater, right?

Martha Mac­Cal­lum: Yeah. I worked at CNBC for sev­eral years. Theater school was way back. I loved theater and went to Cir­cle in the Square’s post-grad­u­ate pro­gram for two years and stud­ied act­ing and di­rect­ing and I loved it. I loved act­ing and di­rect­ing

— I re­ally like di­rect­ing a lot. Some days I think maybe some­day I’ll go back and di­rect some­thing. At that point I never would have imag­ined re­ally the crossover to here, al­though I was al­ways in­ter­ested in pol­i­tics — I was a po­lit­i­cal sci­ence ma­jor in col­lege and did a lot of writ­ing for the pa­per and all of that. So jour­nal­ism and theater were two tracks I was al­ways re­ally in­ter­ested in and so I kind of did a lit­tle bit of one and then whole hog the other. I worked at The Wall Street Jour­nal and CNBC, then came over here about 14 years ago.

WWD: How was it com­ing to Fox News — what about it ap­pealed to you?

M.M.: They came to me and pitched. Orig­i­nally, it was in the ear­li­est days of them want­ing to be in the busi­ness chan­nel, and I spoke to them and said, “If I come, I re­ally want to do pol­i­tics,” be­cause that’s my first love.

WWD: Was there any­thing about Fox specif­i­cally that ap­pealed to you or just the op­por­tu­nity?

M.M.: It was, I’m try­ing to think back, it was a long time ago now. Hon­estly, I can say that when I did come here I thought that the peo­ple were so great and there was just a re­ally kind of fa­mil­ial en­vi­ron­ment with the peo­ple and I liked it right away. And the op­por­tu­nity to do pol­i­tics and to do real news, that was the big­gest draw of all. At that point in my life, any net­work that of­fered me that kind of pack­age of news cov­er­age and pol­i­tics, I would have jumped at. I had been do­ing busi­ness news for a long time and I re­ally wanted to make that tran­si­tion.

WWD: Lately the com­pany has been work­ing on re-brand­ing a bit and bring out a sort of “new Fox” men­tal­ity. You’ve al­luded to the fact that the ha­rass­ment is­sues came as a shock to ►

“It’s been ab­so­lutely an in­cred­i­ble news cy­cle. And I think ev­ery­body feels that way. I would never com­plain about that be­cause that’s our lifeblood and I know we’re liv­ing in an ex­tra­or­di­nary time, no mat­ter how you feel about the Pres­i­dent or how you feel about pol­i­tics and how di­vi­sive it is right now. As a jour­nal­ist and an an­chor, I know some­day I’m go­ing to look back on this pe­riod and say, ‘Wow, was I in the cat­bird seat.’ In­cred­i­ble.”

you. You’ve said that Roger Ailes was a “ter­rific” boss and ba­si­cally ev­ery­thing was so great for you here. So I’m cu­ri­ous how you felt when the al­le­ga­tions came out and how you feel about it now with some time in be­tween?

M.M.: Well, as I’ve said, I was very sur­prised, I was shocked. And I think, you know, I think there were peo­ple who had that at­ti­tude, “How could you not know?” and I think that since then, it’s hap­pened at so many other places across the coun­try, from Hol­ly­wood to NBC to CBS, and I do think that there are plenty of peo­ple who had a sim­i­lar re­ac­tion when it hap­pened where they worked. We’ve seen a lot of peo­ple sup­port Tom Brokaw, sup­port Matt Lauer. But when the char­ac­ter­is­tics, the be­hav­ior de­scribed does not match up with the per­son, it’s very sur­pris­ing. And, I think that, you know, Roger was a com­pli­cated per­son, he had a lot of very pos­i­tive as­pects to his per­son­al­ity and to his ca­reer and his suc­cess and the other part of it was very up­set­ting and dis­turb­ing. When you feel that you know some­one and you work with them and you re­spect them, those are not the things you want to be­lieve ini­tially. So there was def­i­nitely a re­al­ity check with a lot of that, but I also still would say there’s a com­plex­ity to hu­man be­ings. So, there was a lot of good along with the bad.

WWD: With the changes that have been go­ing on, does any­thing stand out to you be­tween Fox News un­der Roger Ailes and Fox News since he was de­posed, so to speak? Was it sea change or grad­ual?

M.M.: I think it was a grind­ing hard change. It was dif­fi­cult. I think we all felt rocked by all of that. It was a lot of change. And again, I would say as I watch my col­leagues at other net­works go through sim­i­lar changes, I know how they feel. But I think we’re in a much bet­ter place now and I’m re­ally ex­cited about new Fox. Hav­ing Suzanne Scott in charge, she’s some­one I’ve known ever since I got here. It’s great to have a woman in lead­er­ship here, which is un­usual in the me­dia world, and I think there’s been a lot of con­struc­tive hard work to make sure that peo­ple feel that they’re work­ing in a work­place that’s safe and fair and open.

WWD: Do you feel like it’s more open?

M.M.: Ab­so­lutely. I mean, it’s not like peo­ple were walk­ing around the halls [be­fore] like, “Oh did you hear that this hap­pened?” Cer­tainly that wasn’t my ex­pe­ri­ence, when it all, sort of, un­folded it was very dis­con­cert­ing, very hard. But it was a cathar­tic ex­pe­ri­ence and we are in a much bet­ter place. I cer­tainly hope ev­ery­one feels that way. There’s been a lot of ef­fort made in train­ing and new h.r., Suzanne in charge, so I hope all of those things make peo­ple feel in a good place. That’s im­por­tant to me.

WWD: You took over Greta Van Sus­teren’s time slot, right?

M.M.: Well, Tucker [Carl­son] was in it, it was Greta and then Tucker for a brief pe­riod, then I took over and he moved to 9 and I moved to 7 from morn­ing.

WWD: Was that a big de­ci­sion for you, con­sid­er­ing why Greta left and mov­ing from morn­ing to night, too?

M.M: Yeah. I ini­tially wanted to stay where I was. Bill Hem­mer and I worked to­gether for seven years, we’re a great team. We do a lot of elec­tion cov­er­age to­gether and our pro­duc­ing team was ter­rific. Ini­tially I was a lit­tle re­luc­tant to make the move, I’m re­ally glad that I did and I was en­cour­aged to make it. I love hav­ing my own show, I love craft­ing it ev­ery day. It’s a re­ally cre­ative process and I feel like it’s an ac­cu­rate rep­re­sen­ta­tion of me and what I think is im­por­tant to do in news and anal­y­sis.

WWD: What is im­por­tant for you to do in news and anal­y­sis?

M.M: Well, ev­ery day it’s a lit­tle dif­fer­ent. We’ve been in the most in­tense news cy­cle I’ve ever ex­pe­ri­enced in my life for the past two years. It’s been in­cred­i­ble. I re­mem­ber be­ing in meet­ings [be­fore Trump’s elec­tion] be­ing like, “Well, what are we go­ing to do at the end of the show?” But those days never hap­pen any more.

WWD: Right, how could they?

M.M.: It’s been ab­so­lutely an in­cred­i­ble news cy­cle. And I think ev­ery­body feels that way. I would never com­plain about that be­cause that’s our lifeblood and I know we’re liv­ing in an ex­tra­or­di­nary time, no mat­ter how you feel about the Pres­i­dent or how you feel about pol­i­tics and how di­vi­sive it is right now. As a jour­nal­ist and an an­chor, I know some­day I’m go­ing to look back on this pe­riod and say, “Wow, was I in the cat­bird seat.” In­cred­i­ble.

WWD: I can’t re­mem­ber who said this, but some­one quipped that non­fic­tion book pub­lish­ing is go­ing to sur­vive the next 50 years off of just this pres­i­dency.

M.M.: Ab­so­lutely. I’ve al­ways been a per­son that thinks non­fic­tion is more in­ter­est­ing than fic­tion, I love to read pres­i­den­tial bi­ogra­phies. The other thing I’d say about that is when you do that, when you look back at his­tory, we’ve been through a lot of tu­mul­tuous di­vi­sive times in this coun­try and in the mid­dle of it, it al­ways feels un­usual and ex­tra­or­di­nary. Over the course of Amer­i­can his­tory you’re go­ing to find a lot of mo­ments that feel very di­vi­sive and very tu­mul­tuous.

WWD: Peo­ple are in­cred­i­bly ide­o­log­i­cally di­vided, but I’m won­der­ing how you feel about the rise in ca­ble news and its ef­fect on how di­vided the coun­try is right now, whether you think it’s had an ef­fect? M.M.: I think there’s a lot of things in that cock­tail, but ca­ble news is cer­tainly one of them. When I was grow­ing up there were ba­si­cally three evening news pro­grams on.

WWD: And they were all hard news.

M.M.: Ab­so­lutely. And now, if you look at it like a news­pa­per that is rep­re­sented on ev­ery ca­ble chan­nel, you’ve got your news dur­ing the day, your opin­ion at night, and you do have si­los that peo­ple grav­i­tate to that match how they look at the world. There’s no doubt about it: We’re cen­ter right, MSNBC is cen­ter left, CNN the same, so peo­ple grav­i­tate to them. I do, just in my own life, I spend a lot of time flip­ping chan­nels and look­ing at ev­ery­thing. Even in my of­fice dur­ing the day I have two big TVs on my wall, like ev­ery­one in this busi­ness, and I go back and forth all the time. I was just watch­ing the Kanye West White House visit — I don’t know if you got the chance to see it, but it was quite some­thing. So, I im­me­di­ately am flip­ping around to see what all the dif­fer­ent com­men­ta­tors are say­ing about it be­cause I don’t ever want to live in a bub­ble. I want to be fair and I want to cover all sides of the story. But I do think that per­haps if more peo­ple did that on a daily ba­sis, we might be in bet­ter shape in terms of the di­vide. But most peo­ple don’t work in the news busi­ness, they have a job to do and other stuff to do so they come home at night and watch what they want to watch, which I com­pletely get.

WWD: Do you ever feel like be­ing at this net­work, and it could be the same at any net­work, has there ever been a sit­u­a­tion where your jour­nal­is­tic sym­pa­thies were at odds with the im­age of Fox News and that cre­ated an is­sue for you?

M.M.: I can hon­estly say that has never cre­ated an is­sue for me. It’s funny, like

I said, most peo­ple don’t work in the news busi­ness so they don’t have a good un­der­stand­ing of how it works, but lit­er­ally my team and I put our show to­gether ev­ery day and there’s a lot less in­put from above than peo­ple re­al­ize. When I did the Ka­vanaugh in­ter­view, I spent three-anda-half hours in the car on the way to D.C. writ­ing my ques­tions and no­body weighed in on them at all. They trust us, which I think is great, and is a sign of con­fi­dence in our abil­i­ties. But that be­ing said, ev­ery show on our net­work has a slightly dif­fer­ent char­ac­ter and rhythm and ev­ery­body brings their unique per­spec­tives into it. Do my feel­ings ever en­ter into what I do? Of course they do, I’m a hu­man be­ing and I think there are ar­eas where I ex­press my­self a lit­tle bit more than might have hap­pened in past news cov­er­age that was a lot more… not ro­botic, but more staid. But I know what my line is that I don’t cross and I know I have to walk out of there ev­ery night and feel like I did a fair show and that I lis­tened to all sides, and that I made sure that all sides, not all sides, but you know, a good ex­po­sure to both sides are on the show. Some­times I’ll play devil’s ad­vo­cate in the show, if I feel like an­other per­spec­tive isn’t re­ally mak­ing it into the con­ver­sa­tion.

WWD: With the Brett Ka­vanaugh in­ter­view, it was in­bound from the White House.

M.M.: Yeah.

WWD: And you’ve been in con­tact with them be­fore, was there any spe­cific rea­son this time?

M.M.: Well, they han­dled the nom­i­na­tion and they han­dled all of his me­dia com­mu­ni­ca­tions Raj Shah was han­dling com­mu­ni­ca­tions for him from the minute he was nom­i­nated un­til the end. I don’t think any­one ex­pects to get an in­ter­view with a ju­di­cial nom­i­nee for the Supreme Court — it just doesn’t hap­pen — but I was grat­i­fied that they chose me, be­cause I think they, I know they wanted him to do a real in­ter­view.

And they wanted him to an­swer the tough ques­tions. I think they wanted to see how he was go­ing to re­spond; it was kind of a let’s see how he does be­fore Thurs­day. So, I felt great that they wanted me to do it. And

ob­vi­ously I was glad to be picked.

WWD: Do you feel like he did an­swer your ques­tions?

M.M.: There were times when he was a lit­tle bit rote and he kept say­ing the same thing over again about how “I never did this” and it was very in­ter­est­ing be­cause, I clearly felt like he was sim­mer­ing be­neath the sur­face and that there was more un­der­neath there. And do I wish he had cracked open more and done what he’d did at the hear­ing?

Sure, but I don’t think he was at that point yet and he was un­der an ex­tra­or­di­nary amount of pres­sure and so was his wife.

It’s not ev­ery day that you sit next to your wife and an­swer ques­tions about whether you gang raped peo­ple in high school, so it was un­com­fort­able for them to be sure. There was not a lot of chit-chat af­ter. I don’t know if they were happy or un­happy with the in­ter­view — it wasn’t re­ally im­por­tant to me, but I felt good that we gave them an op­por­tu­nity to speak. And I thought that he, there was a big dif­fer­ence be­tween the in­ter­view on Mon­day and the hear­ing on Thurs­day and I have a feel­ing that he would not have been who he was on Thurs­day if he had not been happy with how he did on Mon­day, to a cer­tain ex­tent. I think he and per­haps oth­ers felt — look if you feel wronged you bet­ter let ev­ery­body know.

WWD: So you’re not sur­prised by the ver­sion you saw [at the Se­nate hear­ing]?

M.M.: No. it was a pro­gres­sion that we all sort of wit­nessed. It was def­i­nitely seething be­neath the sur­face, no doubt. But for what­ever rea­son he was con­cerned about get­ting too emo­tional about it, per­haps. I don’t know, I can’t get in­side his mind, but we def­i­nitely saw the full brunt of his feel­ings [at the hear­ing]. And hers by the way, Chris­tine Blasey’s, ab­so­lutely. It was in­tense, emo­tional drama on all sides.

WWD: The in­ter­view, not to be gushy, but you were roundly praised for it. A lot of peo­ple on the left were pleas­antly sur­prised that you were a lit­tle more hard-line, peo­ple on the right were also pleased that you didn’t give soft­balls, so they didn’t have to face that crit­i­cism. But do you think your ex­pe­ri­ences at Fox over the last two years, now with maybe a more nu­anced un­der­stand­ing of women’s is­sues, in­flu­enced how you in­ter­viewed Ka­vanaugh at all, how you pushed on cer­tain things?

M.M.: Hmmm... Well, go­ing into it, he had not spo­ken about any of it, at all. He had put out sort of short cur­sory state­ments re­spond­ing to the al­le­ga­tions, so it was very clear to me that there were a num­ber of ques­tions that ab­so­lutely had to be asked. He had to re­spond to all the spe­cific al­le­ga­tions, so I just felt like there was a job to be done in terms of get­ting him on the record on these is­sues. So, it was ac­tu­ally very straight­for­ward for me in terms of what needed to be ac­com­plished and I felt in a way that it was a jour­nal­is­tic ser­vice that needed to be done. He needed to an­swer the ques­tions and I needed to ask him if he’d ever blacked out — it was in­ter­est­ing to me that that ques­tion came up again and again and again [dur­ing the hear­ing] and [my in­ter­view] was the first time he put him­self on the record about it. If he’d said “yes” sud­denly on Thurs­day and changed his story that would have been news. But I feel like we laid the ground­work for a num­ber of ques­tions at the hear­ing, be­cause they were the ques­tions to ask. Once he laid that ground­work, I mean he felt those were hon­est re­sponses, so he stuck with them.

WWD: Do you feel that there’s any kind of is­sue that could present it­self, pub­licly or with your own work, with how closely Fox and the Trump White House seem to be aligned?

M.M.: Here’s my take on that: You know, there have been, through­out the course of his­tory, warm re­la­tion­ships be­tween cer­tain net­works and pres­i­dents. You can eas­ily make the ar­gu­ment that MSNBC had a good re­la­tion­ship with the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion, you saw a lot of peo­ple from the ad­min­is­tra­tion on there quite of­ten.

You look at the peo­ple [Obama] chose to sit down with, it gen­er­ally was not us, al­though he did end up do­ing in­ter­views [with Fox].

WWD: And you in­ter­viewed him, right?

M.M.: I in­ter­viewed Obama be­fore he was pres­i­dent, he was just warm­ing up to run at that point. But you go back to J.F.K. — he had a very warm re­la­tion­ship with Ben Bradley at The Wash­ing­ton Post, and in fact [Bradley] ques­tioned his own close­ness and whether or not he was able to be com­pletely ob­jec­tive be­cause they were such good friends. So, is there a re­la­tion­ship be­tween the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion and cer­tain mem­bers of Fox? Ab­so­lutely. Do I think that’s un­prece­dented? Ab­so­lutely not. Does it pre­vent me from look­ing at it fairly? It doesn’t. I’ve had brief con­ver­sa­tions, well, I’ve in­ter­viewed the Pres­i­dent three or four times, I guess, and I’ve had brief con­ver­sa­tions with him where he says things to me like, “Some­times you’re nice to me and some­times you’re not.” So, I fig­ure I’m do­ing my job, be­cause some­times there’s a pos­i­tive re­sponse to things that are hap­pen­ing and some­times not so pos­i­tive.

WWD: And they keep com­ing back to you.

M.M.: Yeah. And it’s those re­la­tion­ships that the Pres­i­dent has with some peo­ple here are sep­a­rate from what we do. So....

WWD: What is your read on Trump? I know you’ve said in the past that you thought he should be more dis­ci­plined with his agenda or how he speaks in pub­lic, etc. Do you think that’s taken hold at all?

M.M.: What I like to do is not re­ally try to dic­tate any of that. I like to ob­serve what’s hap­pen­ing. I feel like there are so many peo­ple who are spend­ing a ton of air time crit­i­ciz­ing the Pres­i­dent or stick­ing up for the Pres­i­dent in dif­fer­ent ways, so what

I like to do is just peel it back and say, what’s go­ing on? What’s go­ing on with the em­ploy­ment num­bers? What’s go­ing on with North Korea? What’s go­ing on with this Saudi Ara­bia story? Is he go­ing to pres­sure Saudi Ara­bia when we all know that the

U.S. prefers to have a friendly re­la­tion­ship with Saudi lead­er­ship? He’s ob­vi­ously an ex­tremely unique per­son­al­ity, he’s un­like any pres­i­dent we’ve wit­nessed in mod­ern times, cer­tainly in my life­time. Is he brash some­times? Ab­so­lutely. Are there tweets I look at and go, “Oh my gosh.” Ev­ery­body does, I think. But I find it fas­ci­nat­ing to cover him and that’s what my job is. If it got re­ally bor­ing it would make my job less in­ter­est­ing, to be per­fectly hon­est. I like watch­ing this for sure.

WWD: I think ev­ery­one does, it’s an ad­dic­tion at this point.

M.M.: It is. Peo­ple are just so fired up and in­ter­ested in pol­i­tics, whether they love him or hate him and I think the coun­try is more en­gaged in this de­bate. It’s prob­a­bly bad for reg­u­lar TV shows, it’s the most in­ter­est­ing game in town. It is like the ul­ti­mate re­al­ity TV show.

WWD: So what are the ma­jor is­sues you’re look­ing at right now?

M.M.: Ob­vi­ously, the Supreme Court story was so enor­mous over the past few weeks. I think some of the fis­sures that it opened will re­main through the midterms — we’re laser-fo­cused on the midterms now and that’s go­ing to be a huge re­port card for the ad­min­is­tra­tion and it will be read that way, no mat­ter what. It looks like the House will prob­a­bly go Demo­crat and the Se­nate will prob­a­bly hold Re­pub­li­can, which tends to be a po­si­tion Amer­ica likes to be in.

In terms of the “me too” is­sue — I think we’ve done some very in­ter­est­ing work over the past cou­ple of years in look­ing at both sides of the story and I re­ally do feel like it’s im­por­tant to look at the truth of each case rather than be­liev­ing all men or be­liev­ing all women. You have to look at the facts of the case just like you would any other crime story and fig­ure out what hap­pened.

WWD: Do you think that Ka­vanaugh should have been con­firmed?

M.M.: That was a de­ci­sion for the mem­bers of the Se­nate. Do I think he should have been con­firmed? I think like ev­ery­one else, just as an Amer­i­can ci­ti­zen watch­ing the process, when you put against it a pre­pon­der­ance of the ev­i­dence, which is ac­tu­ally the bar that’s used in ha­rass­ment cases, whether it’s on col­lege cam­puses or in this sit­u­a­tion when you’re not in a court of law, did they prove that it was more likely than not that it hap­pened? Prob­a­bly not.

Just look­ing at it from that ques­tion. Be­cause that’s the mea­sure: Is it more likely than not that it hap­pened? It was dif­fi­cult with no cor­rob­o­rat­ing ev­i­dence. Do I know what hap­pened that day 36 years ago? Ab­so­lutely not. Did I find her to be sym­pa­thetic and to be cred­i­ble? You know, I think she be­lieves her story a hun­dred per­cent. I think she’s a very sym­pa­thetic and im­por­tant char­ac­ter in Amer­ica to­day, in a lot of ways. I think that’s why a lot of peo­ple look at her and are sym­pa­thetic be­cause these are tough cases and it’s tough when there isn’t that ev­i­dence to sup­port it. I hope that ev­ery­body can learn go­ing for­ward… women should make an ef­fort to try to grab hold of some ev­i­dence, what­ever it is, and to talk to some­one they feel com­fort­able with right away, to get some of these things writ­ten down and doc­u­mented. Be­cause I’m sure she wishes she had more to present and hang onto and it’s tricky and it’s not easy in these sit­u­a­tions and we know there’s all kinds of com­pli­cated rea­sons why peo­ple don’t re­port things.

WWD: Do you think the rise of pun­ditry over the last maybe 20 years has any­thing to do with how peo­ple di­gest me­dia and how quickly things seem to go be­cause there are pun­dits that feed into this idea of al­ways be­ing in cri­sis mode, al­ways find­ing some­thing new hap­pen­ing?

M.M.: It does to a cer­tain ex­tent, but I al­ways try to re­mem­ber that we’re so in the mid­dle of this world, this me­dia bub­ble news world. On a great night, sev­eral mil­lion peo­ple are watch­ing our show and other shows, and we’ve got 325 mil­lion peo­ple in Amer­ica. So, I think our im­pact is prob­a­bly a lot less than what we think it is. Peo­ple have lives. They’re busy. I think pock­et­book is­sues are re­ally the most im­por­tant thing for them. If they feel like they’re do­ing well, they’ll prob­a­bly vote to re­elect the pres­i­dent. If they feel like they’re not, they’re prob­a­bly go­ing to look for an­other op­tion. So, I think pun­ditry has a very lim­ited au­di­ence and within the cir­cle of peo­ple who are in­ter­ested in it, yes, I think it has an im­pact. But there’s a lot more ex­perts out there these days.

WWD: So what do you see in 2020? I heard Mika Brzezin­ski say that she thinks Ivanka is go­ing to run...

M.M.: When I look long-term, I don’t think in 2020, but it wouldn’t sur­prise me to see a mem­ber of the Trump fam­ily run for of­fice in the fu­ture. I don’t ex­pect any one of them to run for pres­i­dent in 2020. I think Pres­i­dent Trump is plan­ning to run for pres­i­dent in 2020. He shows ab­so­lutely no sign of not run­ning. And he said the other day, “This is gonna be so easy,” so I think it’s go­ing to be fas­ci­nat­ing to watch and I think there’s no short­age of peo­ple run­ning on the other side — El­iz­a­beth War­ren, Ka­mala Har­ris, Cory Booker, very in­ter­est­ing dy­namic politi­cians, and it could just make for a fas­ci­nat­ing bat­tle. I thought Hil­lary Clin­ton and Don­ald Trump was prob­a­bly the most fas­ci­nat­ing bat­tle we could pos­si­bly see, but I think the next could be even more in­ter­est­ing. I also think one of the things to watch for in 2020 is a Re­pub­li­can who de­cides to run against the Pres­i­dent, and that’s some­thing we’re go­ing to be watch­ing very closely. That per­son would have to know they could garner in­de­pen­dent vot­ers and peel off some Democrats and Re­pub­li­cans from both sides, in elec­toral states that mat­ter, to make that hap­pen. But I think that’s a pos­si­bil­ity.

WWD: Do you think there are enough “never Trumpers” left on the Re­pub­li­can side that some­one else could win?

M.M.: I think that’s a very pow­er­ful voice, the Re­pub­li­can Party is very di­vided. And you also have Democrats who voted for Pres­i­dent Trump. So, I think the dy­namic is evolv­ing in a very in­ter­est­ing way. I wouldn’t be sur­prised if you end up with three par­ties in this coun­try at some point be­cause there are a lot of peo­ple who are crav­ing some­thing in the mid­dle. Whether or not they are able to win is an­other ques­tion.

WWD: Do you think that would be worse for pol­i­tics, as it is, for there to be a third party con­sis­tently?

M.M.: To ex­pect that the sys­tem we have will con­tinue into eter­nity is prob­a­bly un­likely. I think it would be fas­ci­nat­ing to see what would hap­pen if you had three le­git­i­mate can­di­dates slug­ging it out — from my per­spec­tive that would be a great story.

WWD: The par­ties as they are now, too, are much dif­fer­ent than they were 100 years ago, and I think some­times that’s part of the up­set go­ing on, that the par­ties re­ally are shift­ing again.

M.M.: I think they are shift­ing. Some of the names I men­tioned re­ally have gone far­ther to the pro­gres­sive side and I do think there’s a lot of peo­ple who are more in the mid­dle who don’t nec­es­sar­ily be­lieve in some of the ideas that re­flect a more so­cial­ist kind of gov­ern­ment, and I mean what you see in Canada or in France or in the United King­dom. And whether or not that is a win­ning idea in Amer­ica, I think is in­ter­est­ing. You get a lot of younger peo­ple who find that an ap­peal­ing idea. I think when I was in col­lege I thought that, you know, like, sort of giv­ing ev­ery­one an equal amount and spread­ing it around seems like a won­der­ful idea.

WWD: So do you think Trump gets a sec­ond term?

M.M.: I don’t know. I think in this mo­ment, look­ing at the larger pic­ture, it’s cer­tainly pos­si­ble. It looks like he’s ab­so­lutely run­ning and he’s ex­cited about it.

WWD: And get­ting more com­fort­able, too. There’s some­thing hap­pen­ing lately, not that he was ever lack­ing in con­fi­dence...

M.M.: No, he’s def­i­nitely not, never had a prob­lem with that. I think he ab­so­lutely be­lieves that he will run again and that he will win again. Whether or not that’s the case, we’re all along for the ride. We will see.

WWD: What do you think hap­pens if the House does go to the Democrats? Im­peach­ment’s been thrown around...

M.M.: I think there’ll be a lot of time spent do­ing in­ves­ti­ga­tions. I think the Over­sight Com­mit­tee will go into over­drive.

WWD: Of the Pres­i­dent? Ka­vanaugh? Both?

M.M.: Per­haps both. I think it will look like it did when Re­pub­li­cans were over­see­ing the com­mit­tee and were in­ves­ti­gat­ing Beng­hazi and all of that. That’s the pat­tern and I would look for a lot more of that kind of in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

WWD: This weaponiza­tion, can you track it back to any spe­cific event, or any term?

M.M.: There are a lot of things you can point to. The over­sight com­mit­tees on both sides and the in­ves­ti­ga­tions that they root for. You can point to the end of fil­i­buster for judges. We don’t live in a world where judges get ap­proved by 95 votes any­more; there’s no sort of blan­ket ac­cep­tance

[among politi­cians] that we’re here to ad­vise and con­sent and to run the gov­ern­ment. We’re in a non­stop elec­tion zone most of the time and I don’t think that’s nec­es­sar­ily a pos­i­tive thing for the coun­try.

WWD: Do you sense any kind of mo­men­tum around chang­ing the elec­toral col­lege sys­tem, or ev­ery state, re­gard­less of pop­u­la­tion, get­ting two sen­a­tors?

M.M.: When I hear that, my re­ac­tion is that’s the way the gov­ern­ment was set up, ev­ery­one gets two sen­a­tors and then you have rep­re­sen­ta­tives in the House based on pop­u­la­tion. I think it’s worked pretty well for a long time.

WWD: So you think it’s bet­ter than hav­ing a pop­u­lar vot­ing sys­tem, some­thing we’ve never had?

M.M.: You have to have a pretty high bar to change the way that that’s done. That would have to be looked into by peo­ple far above my pay grade to un­der­stand what the last­ing im­pli­ca­tions of it might be. I think we have a pretty good sys­tem. It’s not the best sys­tem, but it’s the best sys­tem in the world, as far as I can see. So I think you’d have to think long and hard about that kind of con­sti­tu­tional change. ■

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