TheBlaze founder Glenn Beck interviewed Full Frontal host Samantha Bee on his show Thursday as the first part in an effort between the rightwing talker and the leftwing comedian to find common ground.
“We’re doing a piece with Glenn,” Bee said. “And so you [Beck] generously invited me to be on your show. We are merging worlds in a way.”
Beck and Bee — both vociferous critics of President-elect Donald Trump from the right and the left, respectively — bonded over their mutual distress at the election outcome, the dangers of “fake news,” and their desire to “stand up for people who are imperiled” now that Trump won.
While they both conceded that there are “many things” they don’t agree on, Bee said, “It’s okay with us to agree with each other on some things. I feel like there’s a shared humanity, right?”
Beck agreed and complimented Bee’s humor, saying that he finds her “very, very funny.”
Beck suggested that the way he responded to Barack Obama’s victory in 2008 was comparable to Bee’s response to Trump’s election.
“Does it bother to you that we seem to be playing musical chairs, that under the last president I was freaked out and thinking, ‘Oh, my gosh.’ And now, under this president, you’re saying, ‘Oh, my gosh,’” he asked.
“Well, it’s not just me saying it. There are a lot more people,” she replied.
“I’m saying it as well!” Beck said, quick to add himself to the list of people disturbed by Trump.
Beck explained that he doesn’t believe any leader should “ever make you feel that way.”
“No man should have so much power that he can reach into your life and change our culture and change everything,” he said.
“I guess fundamentally I don’t really trust anyone,” Bee replied, saying that she doesn’t see presidents as “messianic figures.”
“I just don’t think that any one person or leader is going to be everything to everybody. And, you know, the pendulum swings,” she said.
Bee, who is from Canada, noted, “I think what we’re going through right now feels very different to me, in my experience, which is limited because, remember, I’m an immigrant. And this is the first election that I was able to vote in.”
Beck suggested that the Bill of Rights is the one thing “they could unite on.”
“I was dumb enough in 2003 to go, ‘Oh, George Bush, he’d never misuse the Patriot Act.’ By 2006, I’m like, ‘Oh, my gosh, how stupid was I,’” Beck said.
“The people on the left were right there,” he continued. “And the reason why a lot of us didn’t listen to that warning was because, ‘You’re just the other side. You’re just against George Bush.’ Oh, my God, shut up. And now, under Barack Obama, it expanded and got worse. And under this guy [Trump], it’s going to expand and get even worse.”
Bee explained, “Part of the reason why we’re here today is because I do think that it’s important for us to kind of redraw the lines a little bit. I don’t think that it’s as clear-cut as left and right or liberal and conservative anymore.”
I feel like you need to form alliances in a different way now. I think that, you know, there are things that are imperiled now, or certainly there feels like there’s an urgency and there feels like there’s violence in the air to me. And I think that it’s going to be more important than ever for people to kind of reach into areas where they wouldn’t necessarily feel comfortable and hold hands with people in a different way.
They both agreed that while it’s important to engage in “civil discourse” and “speak nice” and “listen to each other,” that isn’t enough.
“Civil discourse is really, for me, just the beginning of change,” Bee explained and Beck agreed.
“There’s an action moment too, where you have to defend people” she continued. “You have to stand up for people who are imperiled in this new world. You have to take action. I don’t know what the action moment is. We do have to find it.”
Beck said that when the time comes, the left and the right will have to “stand on common principles.”
He lamented, “No one wants to talk about common principles. Everybody is talking about policies. And that’s been our problem — that’s been my problem. I wanted you here because I think you felt — you feel right now like I felt — not in ’08, but in ’12.”
He explained that after the 2012 election, he was astonished that people re-elected Obama despite all of the information available showing how unacceptable he was.
“And you feel that way now about Donald Trump. So do I,” Beck said and Bee agreed. “You kind of lost faith in, ‘Crap, it’s not just the president, it’s the people around me too. I don’t understand how they’re disconnecting from truth. They’re just accepting it.’”
“So my question is: How do we take on — how do you take on your side and say, You know what, there are some things that — lying about Benghazi did matter. It did matter,” Beck asked.
“There are consequences to lies. I think we are seeing that,” Bee responded.
“There are just false narratives,” she explained. “I mean, we’ve all been talking about fake news. We were talking about it on the show the other night. There’s so much distrust.”
“People are receiving their news in their own bubble of the internet,” Bee said, as Beck nodded in agreement. “It’s very difficult to penetrate that with actual information.”
“On both sides,” Beck interjected.
“I agree,” Bee said.
“We’re self-selecting out,” Beck added.
“Well, of course,” Bee agreed, adding: “I don’t really know how to penetrate that. I don’t think anybody really does.”
“But that’s what we’re here for,” Beck offered.
She agreed, “That is why we need to be so vigilant and so diligent and do things in a different way and take ownership of those.”
“We’re going to spend some more time together,” Beck said, getting back to their collaborative project. “I’m doing something for your show. And then we’re going to spend some time on Facebook.”
“It’s going to be delightful,” Bee said.
The call for civil discourse, speaking “nice” to each other, and “hold[ing] hands with people in a different way” is a striking departure from the tone these hosts took during and immediately after the election.
The day after Trump’s victory, Bee claimed on her show that “white people” “ruined America” by voting for Trump. This was in keeping with her penchant during the campaign of smearing Trump’s supporters as racists.
Beck, for his part, has been unrivaled in his invective against Trump. During the campaign, he regularly described the New York builder as a Hitler-like psychopath with supporters he compared to Nazi Brownshirts.
The former radio shock jock’s disdain for Trump reached a crescendo in April when he donned swim goggles and rubbed his face in a bowl of crushed Cheetos to see if he could “look like Donald Trump.”
Beck’s interview with Bee seems to be the latest example of his recent rapprochement with liberals. In October, he was featured in a flattering profile in Rolling Stone magazine. In early November, a New Yorker profile of Beck explained that he had “rethought some things” after listening to a recent speech by Michelle Obama that he praised as “the most effective political speech I have heard since Ronald Reagan.” The article described Beck as a “Black Lives Matter supporter” and quoted him praising the president he once harshly criticized, declaring that Barack Obama made him “a better man.”
Listen to the full audio of Beck and Bee’s interview below. Read the transcript here.
Follow Rebecca Mansour on Twitter @RAMansour