Clay and Buck

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Brian Kilmeade on Liz Cheney’s Betrayal and More

17 Dec 2021

BUCK: We want to bring on someone you’re all quite familiar with, I’m sure, Brian Kilmeade. He is a Fox News host and author of The President and the Freedom Fighter: Abraham Lincoln, Frederick Douglass, and Their Battle to Save America’s Soul. Brian, great to talk to you. Thanks for joining us.

KILMEADE: I’m honored to be on your last show of the year.

BUCK: Yeah, man. It’s a good one and we’re happy to have such esteemed guests today. So, Brian, I want to start. We got a couple questions in the news world before we dive into the book, which I am hearing people love, so congrats on that. We have right now, New York City… You’re a New York guy like me. I think you’re a Long Island guy, born and raised, aren’t you? I know you live in the New York area.


BUCK: You’re seeing what’s going on here. We were promised something that feels very different for this wintertime. What do you make of it, given that the covid surge is hittin’ pretty hard?

KILMEADE: Well, put it this way. We’ve already been educated and stop taking care of us. We get it. I already saw how it works. We’ve been to Florida, been to Tennessee. I understand. We understand how to keep ourselves safe. We know the risk. We know if we have an underlying condition — I know if I’m overweight, I know if I’m an older person — that I have to worry about certain things.

I got it. I really have a huge problem with the way, the abrasive way in which the president attacking this, the mandate, the all-or-nothing attitude — and Anthony Fauci all over the place again with this variant, we hear about that variant. The scary thing is, they kept saying it looks like it’s impervious to the vaccine. Okay. Now we say not only is it not impervious to the vaccine, we think you gotta get a booster. Really? For a vaccine that wasn’t supposed to work? Didn’t the South Africans tell us it didn’t work against the vaccine? So, you feel like they’re just winging it.

CLAY: I think there’s a lot of truth to that, Brian. This is Clay. Appreciated you coming on this show. I’ve done your shows for a while now, Fox & Friends among others, and I saw on Tucker. I know you’ve been in the news this week. I’m sure it was interesting for you to see suddenly that Liz Cheney is reading text messages that you sent a year ago. And as soon as I saw it, I said, “Man. People are gonna attack this,” but I actually think this is good because it shows that Brian’s being consistent.

And I can’t believe this didn’t get more attention. In the same way that Buck and I said, “Hey, if you’re rioting, looting, pillaging in any way for any political cause, you should be prosecuted,” and what I was impressed by is Fox News prognosticators had consistent positions no matter what the political motivation was.


CLAY: What’s it been like to kind of be through the car wash with your text messages coming out, and what did you think about the media coverage surrounding that?

KILMEADE: Well, you’re right. I don’t expect you to know where I stood on this. I barely remember where everyone else stood, but I just know that CNN runs January 6 every day, 50 minutes of every hour.

CLAY: No doubt.

KILMEADE: And I would say this. I’m watching this unfold. One thing I said to Pete Hegseth as we were saying good-bye to him, he was covering rallying, and I said, “Pete, where are they going?” He goes, “They go to the Capitol,” and I said, “That’s not gonna be good.” I didn’t know. I ran up. I had six minutes to go do my radio show. So, I run up there and I’m putting the sound up in the breaks like you guys probably do when you see news break or a story break while you’re doing the show.

Now, at least one of you can split up and probably get to it. But I have cuts on January 6th. “There’s nothing patriotic about taking down the American flag and putting on the Trump flag. If you are sitting in Nancy Pelosi’s office with your face exposed, expect to be arrested. There’s nothing good about this.” At the same time, I care about the country. I’m saying to myself, “Do they not realize at the White House what’s going on?” So I had Mark Meadows’ cell, and I texted him and I texted Kayleigh and I texted Marc Short.

I want to know. Number one for my show I want to know what’s going on. Number two, I want it to stop. I don’t want… I do not want to see our Capitol raided. I don’t want to see our stuff destroyed. I don’t want to see cops abused — and, yeah, was there possibly people on the inside? Was there a Donnie Brasco infiltration inside the Proud Boys? Perhaps.

More than likely, yes. The FBI does undercover work. So does the NYPD. So does every police force listening to me. They get in plainclothes and they’re infiltrate. I got it. But there’s no excuse for it, and I thought that was consistent. And if I could play a role in stopping it, I would do it. If I was there, I would have went out of my way to stop it.

CLAY: Brian, I thought it blew up on Liz Cheney because I think she thought she was gonna embarrass Fox News, Laura Ingraham, Donald Trump Jr., Sean Hannity. I thought Tucker said it really well on his show, which is all this showed is that in private Fox News employees found pretty much the same as they do in public, which is to me the true test of authenticity.

KILMEADE: Yeah. Guys, I text Liz Cheney. I’m friendly with Liz Cheney. I have nothing against Liz Cheney. She was a contributor here. I’ve known her since her dad was vice president. I’m not saying we’re hanging out. But she’s a true conservative who I thought was able to understand that Trump was different and that you gotta take the good with the bad, speak up when you want to. But for the most part, you see what life is like without him.

That’s the alternative. Look at the hell we’re in right now by incompetent people with their own agenda who could care less about this country. They just just want to green it out and they want to socialize it out. That’s the alternative. He was the only guy that could have won, and my feeling is… I went back and forth with Liz Cheney the whole time. So I was surprised that she would… I shouldn’t be. I’m naive. I was surprised that she would go out of her way to blind side me without even saying, “Listen, Mark Meadows handed over stuff with your names on it,” but I guess I’m naive on that.

BUCK: Once you betray your own side, unfortunately, Brian, betraying individuals on that side becomes a whole lot easier. So you are being very kind to Liz Cheney.

KILMEADE: You must be laughing.

BUCK: I feel a little… I don’t have a relationship with her. I don’t think we’re going to anytime soon. But I appreciate your loyalty to somebody that you know personally, ’cause I feel the same. I always tell Clay this: I do not attack my friends on air and I tell everybody that if someone’s a friend I’m up front about it. We’re speaking to Brian Kilmeade, Fox News host, author of The President and the Freedom Fighter: Abraham Lincoln, Frederick Douglass, and Their Battle to Save America’s Soul.

Brian, people love the book. I’ve gotten folks ask me to have you on just to talk about the book. Can you tell us a bit about that right now? Look, we’re going to the holiday season, people looking for gifts, they’re also looking for things to read on their own to, you know, sit back relax and dive into history. Why this story? Why do folks need to know?

KILMEADE: Well, number one, you know, sometimes if you have a book that just doesn’t fit with the format, if I was doing a sports book outside… I know, Clay, you love sports especially. I would feel kind of bad coming on. But this is right out of the news. I mean, if you want to talk about what’s wrong with CRT and why the 1619 Project should be on the fiction side?

What if I told you exactly what Frederick Douglass lived through, what he overcame, the abolitionists he combined with, and Lincoln, the abject poverty kid who had one year total formal education? He was able to overcome it all and rise up in the most inexplicable form you’d almost think it’s fiction. But I was able to look at every speech that Lincoln gave, everything that he wrote.

Frederick Douglass had a newspaper, the North Star and wrote for The Liberator, another abolitionist newspaper. He wrote his biography seven years after fleeing for freedom. So I was able to put me right back into the 1840s 1850s, and the backdrop is the Civil War. So if you want to find out America’s original sin, I don’t duck it. Nobody should. Slavery is terrible.

There’s no redeeming qualities. We also didn’t have the market cornered on. It every continent had it. We fought a war to get rid of it. Reconstruction was uneven. So through their eyes, through their words, through the imperfect nature of America at the time, it was America was not living up to its Constitution. It didn’t have to be torn apart. It had to live up to the ideals that it wrote down.

And that’s what you see. You also see two people without any connections come out of nowhere to rise up at exactly the right time with exactly right character to bring us through the toughest times. Now, listen Frederick Douglass was going at it with Lincoln. Lincoln didn’t return fire. We don’t really know what Lincoln thought of Douglass. When Douglass found his way to the White House, he waited in line five minutes before Lincoln summoned him and a friendship took root.

BUCK: Brian, I am a huge history nerd. Buck is too, and I know you are as well in terms of all the great books that you’ve been putting out there. In times of national crisis, I find history to be much more compelling oftentimes than the current events. Let me explain why and I’m curious if you agree.

Because if you study history, you can recognize that we have been through as a nation and certainly as a world far more difficult and challenging times than whatever may be going on in the present. And many times, we lose perspectives in the day-to-day battles that we fight. Does that help you as you write these history books to have a longer-scale version of the historical context and to have better perspective as a result?

KILMEADE: Well, to both of you, how many times have people say we’ve never been more polarized? How many times have people told you we’re pulling apart at the seams? And I’m saying to myself, “Get a perspective.” The reason why you want to take these men and women and — you know, people critical of Susan B. Anthony and others — you want to take these men down off their pedestals ’cause you have no perspective of the time in which they live.

You cannot put them in the same ideals in 2021 that they lived in 1776, 1783, and in this case 1860. So, Lincoln made some statements today we would find racist because he did not think the races were equal. By the time he evolved at 56 years old, I really… Driven by his actions he’d be hard praised to make an argument that he did not think they were equal. He grew up in a time in which they told him that! We live differently the education was not the same.

But guys like Benjamin Franklin, the genius, Benjamin Franklin, had slaves. He was the smartest man on the planet at the time. He evolved to become an abolitionist. That’s called growing up. What did people listening to me right now…? If you’re listening to me and you’re 50 or 60, do you really think you have a better moral compass now than you did in your twenties or your teens? Of course. What’s the difference between these historic figures? Understand where this country was, the time in which they lived, and then you’ll understand why they’re on a pedestal and they mean so much to our country.

BUCK: Brian Kilmeade of Fox News. Check out his book The President and the Freedom Firefighter: Abraham Lincoln Frederick Douglass, and Their Battle to Save America’s Soul. Brian, our buddy. Thanks for being with us man I appreciate it.

KILMEADE: Congratulations on your success, man. Enjoy Christmas.

BUCK: And Merry Christmas to you, Brian. Thanks so much.

CLAY: Merry Christmas to you and your family.

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