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tv   HAR Dtalk  BBC News  December 16, 2020 4:30am-5:01am GMT

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mitch mcconnell, the most powerful us republican after the president, has finally broken ranks with donald trump, and congratulated joe biden on winning the presidential election. mr mcconnell also urged fellow republicans not to object to the result when congress meets to ratify it. a second coronavirus vaccine looks about to be approved for emergency use in the us. the food and drug administration says the moderna jab is safe and 94% effective, and can be stored at higher temperatures than the vaccine developed by pfizer and biontech. if approved, shipments could begin within 2a hours. pressure is increasing on the uk government to revise its relaxation of covid restrictions in england over christmas. days before the changes are due to take effect, two leading medicaljournals are saying they would be a mistake and could cost countless lives.
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now on bbc news it's hardtalk, with stephen sackur. welcome to hardtalk. i'm stephen sackur. the us electoral college has spoken, even if outgoing president donald trump refuses to hear it. joe biden categorically and conclusively won the white house and he'll be moving in next month. so what now for the enraged incumbent and his most loyal associates? well, my guest today is chris ruddy, ceo of newsmax, the right—wing media organisation that's trying to outfox fox news by being trumpier than trump. is post—trump america destined to be paralysed with division? chris ruddy in new york, welcome to hardtalk.
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great to be on with you, stephen. thank you forjoining us. simple first question — donald trump has not yet conceded, but are you and is your newsmax network now prepared to acknowledge thatjoe biden did win the election? he is the president—elect? yes. and it's been our consistent statement all along on election night when the president was in a very close contest, there were six states where the result was 1% or less, two of the states were half a percent, one of the states, georgia, was a quarter of a percent. we said that we should allow
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the president to contest these legally through recounts and other challenges — he has been doing that — that we would accept the state certifications in each case to declare the winner because the race was so close. and, you know, most of the media did this back in the 2000 election with al gore. in this case, theyjust decided they wanted to anointjoe biden. so we waited and we have been calling those states forjoe biden. and then on the electoral college meeting on monday of this week, whenjoe biden won, we declared him the president—elect because he officially was the president—elect. so there's a media spin that somehow we're trying to deny the election or, as you say, out—trump trump. but i don't think anybody can out—trump trump. but we certainly are sticking to the facts and we've been very consistent. right, so are your presenters, who are not short of opinions, are they now making it clear to your viewers that when donald trump tweets out that "there is evidence pouring in of voter fraud, "the country
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has never seen anything like it," are your presenters now indicating, as other news media groups are, including fox news and, of course, twitter with its labels, are you indicating that this donald trump claim is no longer valid? well, we have decl... we have referred tojoe biden as of yesterday as the president—elect, and he is the president—elect of the united states. and we will continue to do that. so there's no problem with that. the president is continuing his legal challenges and we are covering that as a news story. there's a strange phenomenon going on in american media right now that, for instance, if newsmax said we were going to wait for the final recounts, that somehow we were denying the election result, that if we report on stories involving what the president and his lawyers are saying, that we shouldn't really even be doing that and that if we do, we're... we're pushing conspiracy theories.
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there are no conspiracy theories that i know of that we're pushing at all. we're covering this as straight news. and, stephen, the american people are responding. newsmax's app, which your viewers can download, but people all over the world can download, we have four million downloads of that app since election day. it's been an incredible experience. and then on cable news we are beating fox in some of our ratings. we just beat in the key demo one of their major shows on the evening time. so there is a phenomenon where people want straight news that's factually based and that's what we're delivering. yeah, well, it's interesting. your ratings have gone up the more you have included, in your line—up of contributors, people like the attorney lin wood who, on your airwaves just a few days ago, said this — "if the us supreme court does not act," and, of course,
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we know it didn't act in terms of helping mr trump legally, "i think," said lin wood, "i think the president should declare some extent of martial law." now, that was on your airwaves. you're going to tell me that it's legitimate to have opinions like that on newsmax? stephen, are you responsible for everything that people say on hardtalk or the bbc? i think very hard about who we bring on to hardtalk, who we give a platform to and what kind of messages... lin wood. sends. lin wood is one of the most respected trial attorneys in the united states, he's famous as a lawyer. he's been on all the other major networks. we had no idea he was going to make that statement. i believe that statement is wacko, it's crazy, it's possibly illegal, but it's certainly inappropriate. no—one at newsmax has ever called for that. so to suggest...
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for you to say, "somebody said this and therefore you're promoting that," i think, is grossly unfair. and we have no history of ever... we have said consistently and i have said publicly that ifjoe biden wins the electoral college, he is president—elect and that newsmax will respect him as the president of the united states when he is inaugurated and as president—elect. so there's no, you know... it's very unfair, i think, and unusualfor the bbc to be calling me out on something as silly as this. i don't want to be silly and i don't want to be unfair, butjust one more point about lin wood, who is a regular contributor on your airwaves. you say he's a top lawyer. he is also a man... he's an occasional guest. he's not... hang on. he's not a regular... he's an occasional guest and he's been a lawyer and a plaintiff in this case. he's appeared on other media. and i understand your point that he speaks for himself and you just put him on air occasionally. but let us address something else he said after that thing about martial law, he said,
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"0ur leader is donald trump, not biden." and then he added — this is in a tweet, nothing to do with newsmax, it's in a tweet — he said, "make sure that you have plenty of water, food, flashlights, batteries, candles and second amendment supplies." now, we all know the second amendment refers to the right to carry arms. that clearly means guns and ammunition. the reason i mention this and i want you to take it seriously is because one of your staffers, your white house correspondent, emerald robinson, then tweeted back saying, "lin wood tells people to prep and i listen." what do you make of that? well, again, iam not... what she tweets is not out of the news organisation of newsmax. i'm not aware of that tweet. maybe she was being facetious, i don't know. i'll have to ask her about it. does it worry you? but it's certainly not the editorial view of newsmax. does it worry you that she appears on twitter... lin wood's been on f... lin wood... wait a minute. stephen, lin wood's been on fox news. why don't you call them and ask them why they had him on?
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my point, if i may... he's been on all the major networks. call them and ask them why he's been on their network. my point is, as you said... your point is you're trying to find some silly, stupid thing and you don't want to talk about the facts. and it has no relation to the very sincere and good journalism my people have been putting out at newsmax. i'm simply trying to get to the mind—set of members of your staff right now. and i put it to you one more time that you... what you're trying to do, stephen, is find... you're trying to find a little stupid thing and blow it up and make it emblematic of my network. i mean, you started off by saying that we're out—trumping trump, which is not true. we criticise the president on the network. we're right—wing. i wouldn't describe newsmax as... we're a conservative news channel. i would say fox news is more right—wing than newsmax. you know, these type of things you keep saying, you're setting the stage to give the people of britain and around the world
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that newsmax is... anybody can download our app and watch us and they can make their own judgment. they can look at our website,, and make their own judgment about our content. you would acknowledge, i guess, that donald trump and his determination to fight this election result post—election day, it's been great for you. you've already told me it's been great for your ratings, it's been great for your business, yes? well, newsmax has been rising as we are a 20—year—old business and we cover the news. so donald trump has been a phenomena for all news organisations ever since he announced he was running. even before that, he was all over the news. so i believe donald trump has been good for the news business. i don't think there's any question about it. you see, a lot of commentary in the united states on the rising ratings of newsmax has essentially concluded that you are a very canny media operator. you don't believe a lot of the stuff that's on your own network,
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but what you do believe is that there is a very commercially viable space to represent the die—hard, ultra, trump—supporting opinion that still exists in the united states, and that's what you have gone for, is that right? well, that's, again, spin, because we did not accept immediatelyjoe biden because there were six states the president was legal—contesting and there was no way of dealing with us other than saying that we're cynical and we're just out looking for ratings. the truth is, on election night, before any of this happened, we said we were going to wait on the six states the president was contesting. we would have made that decision, stephen, whether it was going to increase our ratings or whether it was going to lose us ratings. we did it because we thought it was proper and appropriate. i think other media organisations should have stood down and waited as well. fox news on election night called arizona forjoe biden with 14% of the ballots.
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only one other news organisation did, and most waited a week or two before the ballots were counted. it was that close. i think we acted in an appropriate way and it was not done to boost profits or, you know... new york times went from one million paid subscribers to five million paid subscribers under donald trump. they made a lot of money on donald trump and covering donald trump from a negative perspective. i'd like hardtalk and the bbc to do a story about all these people that profited big—time by being very critical of the president. right now, i'm really focused on you and your news network, and i am mindful that... i get that. ..while the election was unfolding and the post—election was unfolding, america was also grappling with a terrible, terrible crisis, the coronavirus crisis — the death toll now beyond 300,000. i'm also looking at the way you've covered that.
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while you're prioritising trump's fight against the election result, you're also, in terms of the presenters and their opinions on your network, suggesting that there is something very strange about coronavirus. two of your presenters have called it a "scamdemic", and have explicitly linked it to a democratic plan to rig the election. again, i ask you, when you hear that on your own network, do you intervene and tell them to stop? can you give me the specifics? because this is — anybody that watches our network knows that's not the editorial point of view of our... if some individual that comes on the channel, like we talked about earlier, makes an opinion, that's not representative of everybody on the network. i don't know who you're talking about. i'm talking... we have taken this virus very, very seriously. we have medical professionals of all sorts coming on day and night on newsmax talking about covid.
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nobody has sought to downplay that. nobody has said, that i'm aware of, that it was a political scheme. so, i don't know what you're talking about — but maybe there's somebody that once said it in... yeah, diamond and silk used the phrase "china virus", they also used the phrase "scamdemic", and they also, in recent days, when we've seen the surge... right. hang on — the surge of cases in california, they have targeted the governors of new york and california saying, quote, "these two governors of those two states are acting like tyranny dictators, acting like slave masters." i mean, these are quotes from your presenters. well, as you know, and your audience doesn't know, diamond and silk are basically comedians, and they‘ re political pundits that like to parody and make fun of — anybody that watches them for 30 seconds, it's a show we have on the weekend. forgive me...
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you wouldn't quote somebody saying... forgive me for interrupting, chris... stephen... ..but in august, when you hired said diamond and silk, you said, quote, "these two are on the cutting edge of political opinion on cable news today." that's a direct quote from you when you hired these two, when they'd been let go by fox news. i think that they can have a lot... they were on fox news for many years, and as political pundits and people that are comedians, they can have cutting edge. people go to the comedy channel in the united states for news and analysis. saturday night live is covering a lot of politics now, so we like to mix it up on the weekends. we have entertainers talking about news. it's infotainment and it works, and other channels do it, so i don't think there's anything wrong. i don't think — and if they think that there's
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tyranny by the governors, you know, there's a lot of people believe some of the lockdowns are a little authoritarian, you know, new york state has had one of the most rigorous, rigorous lockdowns in the united states. it's effectively killed the city of new york. they're closing restaurants again here in the city of new york, and i think that when you consider that they've had a mask rule and other things and nothing seems to work and they keep doing lockdowns, maybe the lockdowns are not the solution. mr ruddy, i don't know whether you believe, like mr anthony fauci, who — dr fauci — who was on our show the other day, that america faces the most profound crisis. the only way out of it is to get the vaccine rolled out and to build public trust in the vaccine across the united states — but another of your staffers, and i come back to emerald robinson, the white house correspondent on your network, tweeted, saying the pfizer vaccine, which is currently being rolled out, quote, "tampers with your dna". now, that is absolutely, categorically untrue. what are you going
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to do about that? so, again, i'm not going to go through every tweet, and if you wanted to share those things with me before the programme, instead of ambushing me about these while i'm on the show, i would have happily looked into it and researched it. the editorial viewpoint on newsmax has always been supportive of vaccines. there are individual medical experts and others and a lot of individuals that don't like it. a lot of vaccines have questions about them. it's a free country. they're certainly allowed to have their point of view. our view is — i take vaccines all my life and i have no problem with vaccines. i think they should be done in consultation with your doctor and following the rules that are set by your local state and health authorities. that's always been the position of newsmax. there'll always be people that don't like vaccines. maybe that includes emerald robinson, but it's not, again, emblematic. i could go through the staff of the bbc and find people
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at the bbc that don't like vaccines and have tweeted about it. do you think if i had you on newsmax, stephen, that it would be proper for me to spend five minutes talking aboutjoe shmoe or anne shmoe at the bbc that didn't like vaccines? ithink... you don't have anything really critical to say about newsmax, you don't really have anything bad to say, so, you have to find some silly, stupid thing like this to try to show that somehow that newsmax is out of line or crazy, and it's not representative of the facts. you can call these questions silly and stupid, but there is something really important going on in the united states. if you look at the latest gallup polling on trust, trust in the election, trust in the vaccine, there is a profound problem — and, particularly when it comes to trust in the election, one recent gallup survey suggested 92% of republican voters believe there was a problem.
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now, do you believe that your network is acting to build trust, or is it corrosive to trust in the united states today? we are pointing out serious irregularities that have happened, especially with the mail—in ballots. there were states — you have to remember, in the united states, we have, actually, 50 elections, there's 50 states, and each one of them has different rules, and some of the states made up the rules as they went along in violation, potentially, of the constitution and other laws about sending out ballots and how those ballots were gathered, how they were processed. i don't mean to interrupt you, mr ruddy... all of that's very important... you've made a lot of important points about the election, but we are short of time, and i just want you to address the much bigger question about trust in america today. a lot of people are worried about fake news. they're not sure what to trust and what they cannot trust. do you believe newsmax is enhancing and helping build trust, bringing the nation together or not?
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i think newsmax is one of the most trusted news sources in the united states. do you? do you really? a recent study found that 20% of americans watch us — one even indicated that we had as much trust as the associated press, in a national survey, and we are giving people both sides of different issues so they get information that they can make informed decisions. i think, again, if you or check out our app, you'll be able to see that we're giving balanced news presentations, both sides. that you don't get in the rest of the media. let me ask you a couple of questions about donald trump playing upon your personal relationship with him. you are a friend of his. you talk to him very regularly. i know you do. what do you think donald trump is thinking and planning to do right now? he hasn't conceded. we don't even know if he's going to go to the inauguration — but what do you think his strategy is?
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well, i believe that he should respect the electoral college and the fact thatjoe biden has the electoral college. if he wants to engage in legal contests, he has that right as a us citizen, as a current president — but i do think we have to respect the constitutional process. i hope, ultimately, he does that, but, you know, he's a guy that likes to make up his own mind on things. he's very strong. most people have, i think, advised him to accept the results, even if we're not completely happy with those results, and i believe that he will be a media and political force when he leaves the white house. he will find that in many ways he's more influential than being in the white house, and i think people will continue to listen to him. he'll be certainly an influence in the republican party, and i think he's already setting the agenda for the biden administration. the picks that they are making and selections for the cabinet are far more conservative and moderate than people expected, and i think biden‘s
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going to be strong on china, and a number of the things that trump started as agenda items. you... you could offer him a job — or at least you could perhaps join forces with him. there is much talk of donald trump wanting to be a major media player over the next four years, whether or not he still thinks he's got a political future. is there something that you are cooking up with donald trump? there's nothing being cooked up. i've said publicly, and i'll tell you, stephen, that we'd be very happy to have donald trump on newsmax as a guest, as a contributor, as a weekend host — but i don't believe that he wants to be aligned with any particular media. this is a guy that likes all media. he's an omnivore when it comes to media. so i can't see him aligning with just one media organisation — but we would certainly be happy to have him as part of as a voice within the larger voice of newsmax. joe biden made a major speech,
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i'm sure you saw it, and he talked both about his... well, he condemned donald trump for the way he's handled this post—election period, but he made a point of saying that his absolute determination and commitment is to unify and heal america. so, i'm wondering, for you, chris ruddy, you have a choice to make when donald trump leaves that white house and biden takes over onjanuary 20th — are you going to see that you can play a role in the healing and the bridge—building, or is newsmax going to go after the biden administration? well, ifind it very ironic, this question, because, forfour years, the media has not accepted donald trump as president. congress — 70 members of congress didn't show up at his inauguration. there was a sense in the beginning he was illegitimate. there were calls for his impeachment almost the entire four years, and you're asking me, will i accethoe biden? i never had a problem with ba rack 0bama. i mean, we disagreed on many
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issues, but i think i showed a lot of respect forjoe biden — for barack 0bama — and, as president, respected him in that office and did not do anything unusual in our coverage. we are going to cover the biden administration, ask a lot of tough questions, do the things thatjournalists are supposed to do, whether there's a democrat or republican in the white house. i thinkjoe biden is uniquely a very gifted guy in terms of bringing people together. he has a lot of friends on both sides of the aisle in washington. i think he'll be a very positive force in the white house for bringing people together — but we're still going to ask him tough questions about his policies, and i think that's our job, and we'll do it. chris ruddy, it's been a pleasure having you on hardtalk. thank you very much indeed. thank you, stephen.
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hello there. tuesday night started on a dry note, but it's turned increasingly wet and windy during the early hours of wednesday courtesy of this deep area of low pressure moving up from the south, the centre of it moving across the republic of ireland. a swathe of rain and gales spreading across much of wales, western england, northern ireland and into scotland. so, wednesday's going to certainly start very windy, with gales at times. but the winds will slowly ease down through today. and there will be heavy rain for many of us. now, the heaviest of the rain will be across northern and western areas through the morning, pushing
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northwards across scotland. meanwhile, this band of rain will spread eastwards, exiting wales and western england and arriving towards the eastern side of england late in the day, although not reaching the far south east and east anglia probably until after dark. a windy day for all, though not as windy as how the day will start. we'll see plenty of showers pushing into northern ireland and western scotland. some of these will be heavy. temperature, on the face of it, 9—ii degrees, which is fairly mild for the time of year, but when you factor in the wind, it might not feel quite as mild. now, that rain eventually reaches the far south east during wednesday night. it clears away and then we're into clear spells and blustery showers. some of these will be heavier across some western areas. but because of the strength of the wind and the showers around, it's going to be a largely frost—free night, with those lows of 5—7 degrees for many of us. so that's wednesday's low to the north of the uk. we're in between weather systems for thursday, so a brief respite before the next system arrives later on thursday and into friday. so, for thursday, we should see quite a bit of sunshine around, some areas staying dry altogether across eastern scotland, eastern england. most of the showers will tend
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to be across western areas and they could pep up to produce longer spells of rain later in the day, particularly in the far west, as this frontal system arrives. and it will be quite mild here, generally mild, but those values a little bit lower across scotland and eastern england. then as we head on into friday, you can see plenty of isobars and active weather fronts right across the country. it's going to be very wet indeed with some heavy rain in places, and very mild, too, though as we head on into the weekend, slightly cooler air will push in from the west. so friday is very mild, very wet and windy, the risk of flooding in places. we'll see sunshine and showers as we head on into the weekend. it'll start to turn cooler, particularly on sunday.
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this is bbc news. i'm ben bland with the latest headlines for viewers in the uk and around the world. europe imposes some of the toughest restrictions yet ahead of the christmas holidays in an all—out bid to avoid more coronavirus infections. pressure mounts on the uk's four nations to review plans for christmas, after warnings that the current rules will "cost lives". the most powerful republican in the united states after the president, mitch mcconnell, congratulatesjoe biden on his election victory. canadian fashion designer, peter nygard, is charged in the us with trafficking women and girls for sex. he vows to clear his name. and after a deal to become film and tv producers, meghan and harry team up
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