Reporter’s Notebook: A conversation with Jerry Springer


After unsuccessfully chasing Sen. Cory Booker through an art gallery, ogling Sen. Joe Kennedy III as he crossed a sidewalk, and interviewing angry Bernie protesters outside in the sweltering heat, I was officially done with politics on day two of the DNC.

Disillusioned and exhausted, I found one of maybe five free non-arena seats in the Wells Fargo Convention Center -- a nice white couch in the Microsoft lounge -- and fell into it with the intention to take an open-eyed nap.

I had barely been there for a minute when a man I saw yesterday being hounded by reporters and television crews casually walked in and sat down on the other end of the couch.

"Is that Jerry Springer?" someone whispered.

It was, indeed, Jerry Springer -- the esteemed talk show radio host and former mayor of Cincinnati. In between Springer's television interviews with major news outlets and photo opportunities with fans, The Daily Pennsylvanian caught up with the longtime Democrat for a quick conversation about his personal relationship with Hillary Clinton, the Sanders revolution and cheesesteaks.

The Daily Pennsylvanian: So how are you enjoying the DNC so far?

Jerry Springer: Well, I’m loving it. Every convention we go to has its own rhythm, its own personality. This is particularly neat because it’s historic. In 30 years I won’t be around, but people will look back on this and say, "Wow, this was when a woman was nominated for the presidency and ultimately became president of the United States."

It’s a magical moment, as 2008 was with Barack Obama. So to be a part of this, and to see it actually happening — the lifelong struggle to get here — it’s wonderful.

DP: What would you say is the main difference between this convention and the last [Democratic] convention that you went to?

JS: The last one, you had the incumbent as the candidate, so there was no controversy. It was Barack Obama and all the delegates were for Barack, so it [was] a much calmer place. This convention, you have the delegates of the other candidate as well. They’re committed to their candidate, and this is very hard for them to not have won. So we go through this. That’s the beauty of the Democratic Party — we’re a party of coalitions. You look at the Republican Party, it’s monolithic and white. When you look at the Democratic delegates, it’s a picture of America. It’s the way it ought to be.

DP: Do you think there’s a real chance that Donald Trump will become president?

JS: Well, when you’re down to two people, there’s always a chance the other one will win. It’s always possible, [but] I don’t think it’s probable.

DP: Okay, so if Sanders was still in the race, would you supporting Sanders or Clinton?

JS I’m more for Hillary. I’m closer to Sanders on the issues, I just think Hillary’s more prepared to be president. Nothing bad to say about Sanders at all — it’s just that probably in American history, there’s never been someone so prepared to be president who hasn’t already been president. There is literally no subject, no policy, no issue, that you could talk about with her that she wouldn’t know what you're talking about. She’d know more than you, than me. To lose this talent is crazy.

We ought to take advantage of this -- and keep up Sanders’ revolution. [His] cause didn’t lose. The cause took a giant first step. You’re not going to start a revolution last year and then the revolution’s over in a year because you win. You build it up. Two years ago it was unthinkable, the kinds of things Bernie was talking about. It’s wonderful what he’s accomplished. This is the beginning. So, you support Hillary for president now over Donald Trump, and you continue with the Bernie revolution. It’s what [Sanders] is advocating.

DP: Do you have a personal relationship with either Sanders or Clinton?

JS: I’m closer with Hillary, yeah, over the years. She’s been a part of the Democratic Party for over 40 years.

DP: So from what you’ve seen personally from her, you can vouch for her as being a good president?

JS: She is a lovely human being. I would say this—if God forbid something happen to my family and I needed someone to raise my daughter or grandchild, I would put [her or him] in the hands of Hillary Clinton. That’s how good, decent she is. She’s [like] your mother—assuming you have a good relationship with your mother. She’s brilliant. You may not like her politics, [but] as a human being? It doesn’t get any better.

DP: That would seem really unfair then, to think that so much of the American public thinks she’s dishonest and a liar. Why do you think she’s had such a reputation?

JS: Well, number one, she’s been in politics for 40 years, so she’s had enemies for 40 years. She’s been the wife of the president, which caused some issues. So she’s been in the spotlight for 40 years, plus you have Fox News, plus you have the Internet. [If] you keep repeating it over and over and over again, they say, “Oh, she must be!” In the age of social media, anything you say about someone, if you repeat it for a hundred times, becomes fact. And that’s what’s happening. She hasn’t changed as a person.

There’s still this double standard. "I don’t like her voice. What is she wearing? Why did she stick with Bill?" What has that got to do with anything? Ask any United States Senator who worked with her when she was in the Senate for six years, any Republican, any Democrat, any one of them, and they will all say the same thing: “I respect her. Didn’t always agree with her on the issues, [but] she worked hard, she was honest, she was great to work with.” Ask the people who know her and work with her, even Republicans.

DP: Last question for you—do you like Philly cheesesteaks?

JS: Actually, I do. I’m a cheeseburger guy myself, but I realize when I’m in Philly, you gotta do cheesesteaks.

This interview has been lightly edited for length and clarity.

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