Michael Berry, the Czar of Talk, Welcomes C&B to Texas

4 Mar 2022

BUCK: We are in Houston, Texas. We are guests of our wonderful affiliate KTRH, which has a massive audience all across the Houston area. And those of you listening on that station — and many other stations across the country — certainly know who is with us right now, the man himself, the Czar of Houston Talk, Mr. Michael Berry in studio. Michael, honored. Thanks so much and welcome.

MICHAEL: For the record, it’s the Czar of All Talk, not just Houston talk.


CLAY: (laughing)

MICHAEL: Y’all cannot enter my czardom. You have your own space. The czardom is international.

BUCK: (laughing) The czar, the czar indeed. I like it. Do you spell it with a “Z” or a “T,” though?

MICHAEL: I spell it with a “Z.”

BUCK: A “Z.” Ah.

MICHAEL: I’m not Russian and, thank goodness, I had the foresight to know. The story behind that actually was, do you remember when Obama was appointing people that couldn’t get passed through the Senate? They couldn’t get confirmed through the Senate?

BUCK: Yeah, of course.

MICHAEL: So, he would name Van Jones the green czar ’cause he didn’t want his record being out there public, people would find out, and so he would name everybody a czar to something. So on his 32nd czar, I said, “All right. If he can name czars to everything, I’m the Czar of Talk.” So that was it.

BUCK: He didn’t last very long in that White House, by the way. You mentioned Van Jones.

MICHAEL: (laughing) No, he didn’t. But he lasted longer on CNN, which is pretty impressive. It means he has a zipper on his pants. Gotta give this guy credit.

CLAY: (laughing)

BUCK: So, tell us this. We have been trying to fight for covid freedom — we’re gonna talk about it more this hour — ’cause I come from New York City, which has turned into very expensive East Germany during the covid period.


BUCK: I mean, the lockdowns, the madness. Clay sounds like a Tennessee guy, so he didn’t have to deal with the same level of crazy that I did. Texas it feels like was obviously better than New York, California, during covid, and everyone walks around here; there’s no masks.


BUCK: Although if you get an Uber here you still have to wear masks, which is annoying.

MICHAEL: You don’t have to.

BUCK: Right but technically under their policy you do.


BUCK: I’ve had to take the selfies when I the violate policy.

CLAY: Did you have to keep taking the selfie? I only had to do one once.

BUCK: No, I had to do it probably five or six different times —

MICHAEL: So is this your punishment?

BUCK: Yes.

MICHAEL: You’re kidding.

CLAY: If somebody turns you in for not wearing a mask, then the next time you get an Uber, you have to take a picture of yourself to send to them to verify that you have a mask in order to be able to book a car.

MICHAEL: That’s stupid!

BUCK: Crazy.

MICHAEL: I’ve never heard of that here and I’ve never worn a mask in an Uber, ever. Never.

BUCK: Yeah, how did Texas do in this overall? How did you guys do in this?

MICHAEL: You have to realize right now we’re in the midst of the whole Texas Independence thing. It was 1836, but we’re in that 13-day period were where the Alamo battle and our Declaration of Independence from Mexico. This is a frontier spirit people and they were all Tennesseans.

CLAY: A lot of them. That’s why we’re the Volunteer State, well, one of the reasons.

MICHAEL: You met my son last night. Crockett is named after Davey Crockett, right? He died at the Alamo. We are a very frontier-spirit people. Those things stay with your character. We’re in the middle of the rodeo. Buck’s gonna be there Saturday night having a heck of a good time.

BUCK: Am I really gonna get on a horse, there, by the way, ’cause there are rumors?

MICHAEL: You’re going on a horse. You’re going in the cattle shoot.

CLAY: I didn’t know this You should be a little bit nervous, I think.

BUCK: Is this your way of getting me on a horse?

CLAY: I’m just saying. That seems like it’s a recipe for viral disaster for you.

BUCK: I’m gonna get on one of the little sleep, like the kids do, you know?

CLAY: If you get tossed, if you could bucked on the — “bucked, no pun intended there, on the — Houston radio, that thing is gonna go viral as a meme.

BUCK: I love The Horse Whisperer Buck, because finally that name started to mean something other than John Candy’s portrayal of Uncle Buck in the movie. So Horse Whisperer Buck is great. But I’m sorry. You were saying? Frontier spirit, Texas.

MICHAEL: Yeah. So people here don’t do well with government. We resent government. We’re still statewide Republican. We are still… When Ted Cruz came out of the gate and the rest of the country thought he was crazy because he was talking about the Constitution and independence and freedom and these sorts of things and liberty…

People understand that we don’t want that here, and our politicians understand we don’t want that here. It’s pitched battle. We’re not wearing masks. We’re not getting vaccines. We’re living our lives, we’re going about commerce, we’re raising our kids, we’re opening our schools, and that’s just how we roll.

BUCK: I need a grade from you, though, for Governor Abbott when it comes to covid, the defense for freedom I know he just won the primary here.

MICHAEL: On a curve, I’d give him a C-. In an open grading system, to be honest, I’d give him a D. The rest of the country doesn’t know that Abbott is no Ron DeSantis. He’s no Ron DeSantis at all. Abbott is closer to Gavin Newsom and Cuomo.

BUCK: Ouch!

CLAY: That’s an indictment.

BUCK: The range is hot.

MICHAEL: He only won 66% of the vote in the Republican primary. Allen West and Huffines ran against him. Only two-thirds of Republican voters in your own primary, when you’re sitting on $65 million in cash running against Beto, is an indictment that the base doesn’t like you. So he has great name ID, he spends a lot of money, he’s not well liked among the base here. He’s no Ron DeSantis, I’ll tell you that. He’s not Glenn Youngkin.

CLAY: That race is gonna be not remotely close though, right, Beto is close in your mind?

MICHAEL: It will be closer than it should be.

CLAY: You think so?

MICHAEL: Yeah. Ted Cruz bet beat Beto in ’16 in kind of a weird year, but he barely beat him, and there was a lot of money that came in from California and New York. Abbott will beat him. Abbott will poll higher, because he’ll pull more independents than Ted Cruz does. He’s less liked by the base, Abbott will beat him but Abbott’s sitting on a pile of cash; t will take everything he’s got to get there. Beto’s a good campaigner. He is.

CLAY: We talked yesterday about the Hispanic vote and how much it’s moving toward Republicans particularly in South Texas.

MICHAEL: It is. Yes.

CLAY: Do you feel that? Do you see it? Is it sustainable? Is it a real thing? Certainly, it happened in ’20. Will it grow in ’22?

MICHAEL: It will. So you take Henry Cuellar’s race. Henry Cuellar is a moderate Democrat, and he truly is a moderate Democrat, but he’s hawkish on” Build the wall, seal the border.” Cuellar got pushed into a runoff by an AOC-backed, Bernie Sanders-backed candidate. So Cuellar is a guy that is kind of a representative of where Hispanics, Latinos on the border are.

We talked about this as dinner last night. Latinos in this state are mostly Catholic, they’re pro-life. Everything I’m gonna say is anti-Democrat, right? They’re pro-life, they’re pro-family, they’re military veterans, they’re police officers, they’re public servants, they’re people of faith, everything the Democrats stand for now is the exact opposite. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez does not represent them. And I think as we discussed last night Trump was really good at reaching out to these people ’cause he didn’t pander to them. He talked honestly to them — and, yeah, you see it, you feel it, especially second-, third-, fourth-generation Latinos. First generation we’re still struggling.

CLAY: And a big part of that obviously is obviously the small business component to shut down everything with covid. The Latino community wanted to work —

MICHAEL: That’s exactly right.

CLAY: — and the Democrats wanted to shut down and so that continues.

BUCK: And the Latino —

MICHAEL: Is there a harder working group of people than Latinos in this country? That’s not… That’s the God honest truth. They work.

BUCK: And the attention that the Democrat Party gave specifically to BLM and the riots I think in the election year also ’cause Trump did do better than the Republican average at a national level with Latino voters —

MICHAEL: Absolutely.

BUCK: — and I think there was a sense of what is going on with law and order in this country, too, which obviously also extends down to the situation at the border. I want to ask you about that a bit, because if there’s one place where media…Well, I can’t really say that. There are a lot of places where immediate reality versus the actual reality has an enormous gulf, but on the border and border coverage, you don’t see it a lot from the national outlets. You don’t see much talk about it. The polling shows this is a top-three concern nationally for a lot.


BUCK: That’s nationwide. That’s not even just along the border, the border states. How are you seeing it? Last year was 1.6, 1.7 million, I think, “encounters.” The official number doesn’t include got-aways. You’re looking at basically two million illegal entries into United States last year. How do you feel and see and hear about that reality as a Texan here along the border?

MICHAEL: Buck, that’s a great question because it manifests itself in news stories. Nobody counts how many illegal aliens are standing at the Home Depot waitin’ on jobs. But where you see the number of illegal aliens — the real problem where it manifests itself — is that you’ll have a murder by an illegal alien of a woman who’s out for a jog, and you combine that with the bond reform, which meant that when you catch these guys, they’re getting put back out on the street so now it’s a multiplier of their ability to do damage and wreak havoc.

So you see these murders. You see violent crimes. That’s a real problem. The sex trafficking is through the roof — that’s a big problem — and the fentanyl deaths. I mean, this is the Cartel Corridor. They’re moving drugs up into our country across this border using mules that look like just a person that wants to cut grass or raise babies, and it’s really, really bad on our streets. We’re seeing record fentanyl deaths, and so I think you’re seeing it manifested in violence. You’re seeing it in sex trafficking — which is now way up — and you’re seeing it in drug trafficking.

CLAY: What about the crime rate in Houston? We talked a little bit about this. Everybody focuses on Chicago. There’s been a great deal of discussion about New York and L.A. But Houston’s crime has been out of control and gotten nowhere near the national attention. What’s going on here?

MICHAEL: Fox News two weeks ago declared — after the January numbers came in — declared Houston the Murder Capital of America. That’s not something… You don’t want to take that from Chicago. Let them have it. The bond reform has been really bad. When Democrats swept in under Barack Obama, they took all the county-wide seats, they took all the criminal district court judgeships, and as a result, they’re just putting people back out. One guy was out on multiple bonds; murdered a police officer.

We’ve had just case after case after case of this. It’s a perfect storm of awful. Democrat mayor, Democrat county judge, Democrat district court judges and criminal court judges, Democrat sheriff. And so what you’re witnessing is the cops are doing their job, but you bring somebody down with blood all over ’em and they’re released back out on the streets the same day and they’re out committin’ more crimes. It’s really, really bad. We don’t necessarily have more criminals. It’s a multiplier effect on the damage that a criminal can do to a society because they commit more crimes when they would have been in prison before.

CLAY: Is there a blowback here like we’re seeing in New York and L.A. against the district attorneys and everything else?

MICHAEL: Absolutely. There was a block back in the Democrat primary, Clay, which was really surprising. We had eight criminal court judges — Democrat criminal court judges — in Harris County, the county you’re sitting in right now who were up for reelection and were contested. Five of them either lost outright — one of them was 17% of the vote in his own primary, a guy named Greg Glass. Five of them lost outright or pushed into a runoff and all of them are trailing.

So even the Democrats understand that bond reform has been a bust. You’ve gotta have trials, you’ve gotta punish bad people, because what we’re seeing is the victims of the crimes are minorities themselves. So the Democrat Party locally relies on the minority voter. That’s been their stronghold. That’s who’s being hurt the worst by the crime that’s being visited on this community.

BUCK: Before we let you go, Michael, the great dream of the Democrats — we’ve heard it for many years — is to flip Texas blue. We’re at a time when Florida is trending more solidly red than anybody could have thought I think even a few years ago. How do we keep Texas red?

MICHAEL: You have to hold your own among Latinos in South Texas, and we’re seeing that and a wide-open border plays right into the hands of Republicans. We also need to do very well with suburban moms. That’s where Trump really suffered in ’20. We have to do well with suburban moms, and that’s where I think mommy issues matter. Critical race theory? That matters to mommies.

Opening the schools, getting the masks off of them, transgender issues in the school, age-appropriate education — these sorts of issues really matter — educational choice. To moms, these sort of things matter. That’s how Youngkin won in Virginia. That’s how we keep… Look how they turned Virginia red from being purple, and that’s how we do that in Texas.

CLAY: We got an event tonight Texas barbecue, beer, and bourbon. What do you expect, what should people who are coming — and we got a good crew, what should they — expect?

MICHAEL: Well, first of all, they’re gonna get to meet Clay Travis and Buck Sexton.

BUCK: Woo!

CLAY: That’s an incredible honor.

MICHAEL: No, no, all kidding aside.

BUCK: We’re going to try not to dress the same.

CLAY: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

BUCK: That happens by accident.

MICHAEL: Listen, listen, we talked about some of the legends yesterday that we grew up listening to. But when you get to listen to a guy that’s been coming through your radio whether he’s making music or talking on the air, you’re listening to his opinion — you get to shake his hand, take a photo with him — that to me is the fun part but you know from a selfish perspective for us, you and I get to meet our listeners.

CLAY: It’s pretty great.

MICHAEL: Veterans and cops and firefighters and business owners and couples and wonderful people. So, it’s gonna be a lot of fun. We’re gonna drink some bourbon, some beer. We’re gonna eat some barbecue. We’re gonna do a panel discussion of us and Jesse Kelly, Tracy Byrd’s gonna perform, Josh Fuller Band is gonna perform. It’s gonna be a heck of a good time.

BUCK: Thank you, Michael, for pulling it all together and we’re excited you’re welcoming us to your home city in Houston. Check out the Michael Berry Show, everybody. You know him. You know him here on KTRH and other stations across the country. Michael, thank you.

MICHAEL: I gotta say a big thanks. You guys let me guest host at Christmas. That was a bucket list. Dream come true. I really appreciate it. You guys are wonderful.

BUCK: You did a fabulous job.

CLAY: Thank you for doing that for sure.

BUCK: Thank you.

MICHAEL: Yeah, thank you.

CLAY: And by the way, I gotta clean something up. I said that Tennessee was the Volunteer State because of the war in 1836 when Texas became independent. There were a lot of Tennesseans there. We’re the Volunteer State because of the War of 1812 —

MICHAEL: Ohhh. You missed it.

CLAY: — and I know there’s gonna be people out there… I haven’t even checked my phone.

BUCK: Your Tennessee nerd card on suspension.

CLAY: I know they are coming after me for making that historical error live on the radio. So I want to fix that.

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