Episode #2

Ed Rollins

« previous episode | next episode »

Monday, November 07, 2011


“Pretend I’m your priest,” says political strategist Ed Rollins, when he starts to work with prospective candidates. Rollins encourages his clients to tell him everything—even still, he tells Alec, “they always lie.” 

A boxing phenom as a kid, Rollins went on to work on six presidential campaigns and knows what is really required of a president. He talks to Alec about his work with Michele Bachmann, offers new insight into Ronald Reagan’s legacy and shares some of his personal history—of a Democratic bent.

 READ | Ed Rollins Interview Transcript


Ed Rollins

Hosted by:

Alec Baldwin

Produced by:

Emily Botein and Kathie Russo

Comments [57]

Jill Stahl from Bay Area

Why not interview some really intelligent men who investigate, not just follow party lines as Rollins does? Like Mark Feldstein who wrote "Poisoning the Press" and uncovered evidence about Richard Nixon attempts on the life of Jack Anderson. or Interview Rick Perlstein, author of "the Invisible Bridge: The Fall of Nixon and Rise of Reagan." or
but this is corporate radio so I guess you have to play it safe.

An excellent political podcast that goes into depth is Letters and Politics by Mitch Jeserich

Feb. 12 2015 06:50 PM
Nacho Man from Stockholm

Would you consider doing interview against type, as it were, with people with whom you might be unsympathetic? I'm thinking of people like Sarah Palin, Roger Ailes, Wayne Lapierre etc. Getting these people out from behind their handlers, speaking frankly, may be pure pie in the sky but still, if anyone might get them and get them to open up a little, it's you. I would love to hear that.

Feb. 09 2014 09:17 AM

Good interview. Sharp man. You seemed very prepared and didn't interrupt much.

Apr. 07 2013 03:33 PM
Fatima from us

It would be interesting to see Alec's response to what ppl have said about his remarks on Pakistan. I would love to see what sort of courage he has to face us Pakistanis who are probably more civilized than he can ever be. Waiting to hear directly from you.

Sep. 09 2012 01:31 AM
Zayn Ahmed

Alec Baldwin. What a sc*mbag, the real terrorist.

Sep. 06 2012 09:31 PM
fouzia from Waterloo Canada

the person who can't control his temper, who dosen't know how to talk to his own child, he is "demented".

Sep. 04 2012 11:12 AM
Sarah Eleazar from Pakistan

I'm a political analyst from Pakistan and I'd like you to answer these questions:

1. How has terrorism affected you personally, that you'd want to wipe 500,000 Pakistanis out, by building your mega awesome military base to station your mega awesome army (which lost to mountain goats in Afghanistan so bad it impoverished half your country). What's your sad story?

2. Invest in a history text book, educate yourself on the glorious 80's when America triumphed over evil USSR. The Soviet-Afghan war which finally crippled the Iron Curtain was a result of the biggest funding project America had ever undertaken via the CIA. poured in lots of weapons and money to train the mujahideen, then you called them to Washington and called them the equivalent of your founding fathers. Then you stopped funding them and left the equivalents of your founding fathers with a tonne of weaponry and military training.

3. Now you're calling this place the birth place of terrorism. As a liberal in this country I'm offended at what you said. The birthplace of terror houses the world's biggest volunteer ambulance service, it has churches, schools, fashion homes, tv channels, students, teachers, humans. Humans who blame the US for the mess they left us Pakistan in the 1980's. I wonder if you'll realize that calling the off spring of the seed of terror is unfair. Call the one who planted the seed of terror in the first place a terrorist. In that case mister Baldwin, it's America.

Sep. 04 2012 06:32 AM
Ahmad from Pakistan

This is the real terrorism, when you talk about killing 500,000 innocent people, on public talk show. The real terrorist nation is the USA, not Pakistan.

Sep. 04 2012 05:38 AM
ZEE from UK

So on this show Alec Baldwin and whomever has the right to think and say whatever they want right?

500,000 troops in Afghanistan to level and then crush Pakistan - very interesting!

What a great mindset and an example being set for young Americans

Basically, US is right no matter what - bombing and destroying Iraq based on lies about WMD and then Afghanistan using hot headed pathetic military strategies and leaving over million people dead is what Americanism is all about?

Its people like Alec Baldwin that are the worse enemies of America - they do not represent the majority but have access to the power, resources and media to manipulate and corrupt the minds of the masses - common Americans really need to step outside the United States to embrace and appreciate the different cultures, values and belief systems offered by the wider world...

America - please wake up - trust me - life is much more than McDonalds, Coca Cola, Hollywood and Starbucks ;-)

[sorry i just find Alec's comments too low and pathetic]

Sep. 04 2012 03:22 AM
Tim from New York

I am plowing through these podcasts as I sit at home, doing some work. I would love to hear you both continue that conversation for 10 hours, as Mr. Rollins suggested. As a democrat, I am opposed to virtually all of the candidates he has supported but I have great respect for him personally. I would love to hear a respectful, insightful and engaging interview with more guests that you are not politically in sync with. This segment should be used as a template for Congress on how to deal with opposing views. Fascinating stuff.

Jun. 29 2012 11:54 PM
adam feibelman from San Francisco

ditto to comment below

May. 18 2012 05:54 PM

I am totally addicted to this show! The interview with Lorne Greene, Kristen Wiig, Dick Cavett were outstanding...but this interview with Ed Rollins was fascinating! Please, please, keep it up!

Apr. 25 2012 10:56 PM
Mike from Seattle, WA

At the end of the day, does Ed know how many times he says "at the end of the day?" He really tried to cram in a few more "at the end of the day" before the show wrapped up. It's Ed's catchphrase.

Apr. 14 2012 03:33 PM

Alec, this was by far my favorite interview. You ask great questions. I'd love to hear you interview Romney or Santorum.

Mar. 21 2012 11:01 AM
Rowena from Michigan

Alec, 'Have listened to your podcasts with Michael Douglas,Chris Rock, the Jongs, Saldry and Rowlins. Wow! I'm impressed. You are in the Terri Gross /Larry King league. I'm hooked to "Here's the Thing" as long as you're the interviewer.Great catch ,NYPR! But be on the alert. Wouldn't surprise me if CNN approaches Alec Baldwin to replace Pierce Morgan.

Mar. 07 2012 06:01 PM
Danny from London

So this political genius says that who wins in Iowa wins in SC? So Perry was tipped for SC? So the lesson of Vietnam is to stick half a million US troops in Pakistan?

Rollins, a man who rightly celebrates the multi ethnic background in which he grew up then takes the Bachmann cheque?

Interesting interview, but Baldwin's attractive style shouldn't mean he allows these huge contradictions to go unquestioned.

Jan. 21 2012 03:10 PM
Steve from Queens, NY

When all is said and done, "at the end of the day" you still have my respect as an actor and human being. Keep up the good work.

Jan. 10 2012 01:44 PM
Daniel Miles from Phoenix, AZ

Interesting conversation. Mr. Baldwin pleasantly surprised me several times with his questions and observations. Mr. Rollins has experience in his field that most of us will never really be able to relate which has clearly shaped his outlook. One thing I think we can all agree on, however, is that he needs to retire the phrase "at the end of the day" from his vocabulary. If this episode was a drinking game we wouldn't be wasted. We'd be dead from alcohol poisoning.

Jan. 04 2012 06:12 PM
barny drood

i don't care about rollins. what he stands for is mercenary and deranged. he and franky lutz should get married. they are made for each other.

Dec. 27 2011 09:18 PM
Christopher Tennies

Alec Baldwin, love your podcast and will definitely be listening every two weeks.

Dec. 15 2011 06:34 PM
David MacDonald from Grand Rapids MI

Finally, a non self serving intelligent conversation between two human beings where
One can actually learn and digest thoughts.
Please keep it up.

Dec. 08 2011 08:24 PM
Robert Rees from Bloomington, IL

Interesting. Good job

Dec. 06 2011 06:37 PM
Jeff H in TX

Ed Rollins doesn't give a rat's ass who gets elected. That raises some serious questions about his own moral picture.

Yeah okay Ed, you found yourself a gig, great.
You're going to offer help to some deranged, deluded messianic moron take the reins of power in this country and drive it straight to Hell, but you got yourself a gig, wow.

Screw you Rollins, and the horse you rode in on.

Dec. 06 2011 09:55 AM
Bill Cunningham from Pleasant Hill CA 94523

Have liked all your interviews. Look forward to your next show.

Dec. 04 2011 09:36 PM
Nick from NY

Ahhh discourse how we need you so. The respect and honesty that was shown on both sides was fantastic. Keep them coming!!!

Nov. 27 2011 01:44 PM
Miriam from Woodside, Queens

Alec, I loved both your interviews! Both revealed things about Michael Douglas and Ed Rollins that I hadn't known, and which increased my interest in these men. Keep it up. You are a terrific interviewer. Please, try to get Rachel Maddow for an interview!

Nov. 20 2011 12:52 PM
Vitaliy from Kiev, Ukraine

Great interview! Thank you, Mr. Rollins, for sharing your experience with us, your audience.

Nov. 20 2011 06:51 AM

really, really interesting. thanks for it!

Nov. 19 2011 06:57 PM
Jeremy from New York City from New York City

I absolutely loved this conversation. Hearing you speak with someone on the opposite side of the political aisle was incredibly fascinating and ultimately inspiring. This show is a wonderful idea. It is something quite rare in today's media landscape: a (seemingly unedited) civil, intelligent conversation, reminiscent of the Dick Cavett show, or something from another era. At the same time, it feels very topical and relevant. Totally refreshing. Keep up the great work!

Nov. 19 2011 04:33 PM
Norma Jeane from Los Angeles, CA

I look forward to your podcasts!! So insightful and interesting. Thanks!

Nov. 19 2011 01:08 AM

Not sure if Alec Baldwin is a surprisingly good host or Rollins is just a great interviewee.

Nov. 19 2011 12:55 AM

I really appreciated this interview on both sides. It was admirable of Mr Rollins to be so honest. On one thing, it was just obvious to me that when you pay someone not to influence people, you are paying them to influence people just in a different way. It's real simple. Maybe there's legality involved and all in wording or with the idea of doing something actively or passively or whatever. These influential people were bought. It definitely seems unethical, possibly illegal, suspect at best. Maybe such people should not be allowed to take money from political campaigns or their agents.

Nov. 14 2011 10:39 PM
JUSTmeALISEO from Staten Island NYC

Here'sTheComment... Nice job, enjoyed the style and the way you conversed with your guest, you drew out Ed Rollins feelings and opinions nicely. Look forward to next broadcast, thanks!

Nov. 12 2011 01:12 PM
Nelson Arce from Brooklyn, NY

Great interview with Ed Rollins...insightful and engaging. Alec Baldwin, for all the kidding around about "Mayor Baldwin," I think you need to give it serious thought! I'd vote for Mayor Baldwin WAY before Mayor Quinn without hesitation!

Nov. 12 2011 09:22 AM
wendel meldrum from los angeles

i would like to hear you interview Joseph Chilton Pearce and/or Bruce Lipton. Outside your sweetspot perhaps but stretching your boundaries.

Nov. 12 2011 06:17 AM
Jodi from Brooklyn, NY

How refreshing to not only listen to a thoughtful interview but to also hear an opinion from the interviewer. Great radio.

Whilst I enjoyed Michael Douglas, I thought Ed Rollins was more interesting. I'd love to hear more from folks behind the scenes.

Nov. 11 2011 12:36 PM
Chris Blair from Portland, Ore.

Alec Baldwin gets better and better at this interviewing thing. Really enjoyed the Ed Rollins podcast.

Nov. 11 2011 02:56 AM
mats andersson from madison WI

VERY good conversation, informative. Alec, get more guest that you dont agree with ideologically, makes for a very good conversation! Thanks

Nov. 10 2011 10:06 PM
Jody from Alabama from Wilmer, Alabama

Alec, I love your work and completely disagree with your politics, but this interview is an example of exactly how discourse should happen. Two very sharp and engaging men having a respectful real discussion. If we all adopt "America above party" we'll be a lot better off.

Also refreshing was the fact that neither of you ran away from your agenda or bias. Subscribed, and telling friends. Best of luck.

Jody Dunn, Reaganite.

Nov. 10 2011 12:39 PM

Alec, this was great. Definitely give Ed $5K and let him dig up all the dirt on you and run. It would be fabulous!
(Can you still act on 30 Rock from City Hall?)

Nov. 09 2011 05:43 PM
Daniel from Chapel Hill, NC

Nice conversation. I would love to hear more about why today's political climate is so polarized. Maybe bring on more guests to talk about that?

On that note, I'd love if you could interview Nick Kristof. How did he get his start, what motivates him — and what motivates him to take difficult stances. For example, he bought two girls out of slavery, and got jumped on for violating journalistic objectivity. One of his OpEds begins "In these polarized times, few words conjure as much distaste in liberal circles as 'evangelical Christian'" and ends with "I’m not particularly religious myself, but I stand in awe of those I’ve seen risking their lives [fighting poverty & oppression] — and it sickens me to see that faith mocked at New York cocktail parties."

He has a capability to be a bridge-builder, to create empathy between disconnected groups. Given that, I'd love to hear how he got there, his thoughts on the current media environment, and what he thinks the role(s) of journalists should be.

Nov. 09 2011 04:49 PM
tim dingman from newark nj

Never run for office; it would be a waste of your talent, credibility and ethical standards

Nov. 09 2011 02:59 AM
Sid from South Bend, Indiana

Great conversation with Rollins. On Stitcher in the car on the way to work and on the way home, eavesdropping.

Nov. 08 2011 07:46 PM
Glenn from Los Angeles

Did I hear that right? Alec Baldwin is a Christian Conservative?

Nov. 08 2011 07:34 PM
Tom Newman

great to hear you two disagreeing and friendly. we need more of that. maybe you do need to run, Mayor Baldwin, with Mr Rollins in your corner

Nov. 08 2011 06:06 PM
John Murray from Clarkston, WA

Good podcast. Alec's not a hardball interviewer, but he's got the charm to get someone like Ed Rollins to open up. Interesting insights. I think Rollins glossed over the "mercenary" label, and Baldwin let him. After all, would he work for free, even for his hero Ronald Reagan? I'm sure he's a great guy, but what he does is everything that's wrong with politics today.

Nov. 08 2011 04:16 PM
Doug Smith from San Francisco

This was a good interview, but I must say I totally don't understand this person. He comes from a blue collar background where he must have seen first hand the diversity that made America great and provided middle class possibilities for people. Yet he's a strategist for some of the most hateful, fear-mongering, unqualified candidates imaginable. What does that say about him in a moral sense?

Nov. 08 2011 03:42 PM
Mike jones

Ron Paul 2012

Nov. 08 2011 12:18 PM
Claude C from Denver, CO

This was a very interesting episode. Thank you.

Nov. 08 2011 11:24 AM
Van in Nevada from Sparks, NV

Very entertaining and informative podcast, Alec. Thanks.

Nov. 08 2011 10:34 AM
Johan from Amsterdam

Big fan of Alec Baldwin ; was however disappointed with his views on foreign policy- keeping massive bases in Afghanistan, attacking Pakistan, threatening other nations if they dont support the US in the occupation of Afghanistan.

That said will keep listening to the podcasts and still keep up hope to see Alec Baldwin transition to a more libertarian foreign policy stance.

Nov. 08 2011 10:28 AM
Joannie from LI, NY

Thank you, Alec, for a very interesting interview with Ed Rollins. I enjoyed listening to it very much! Great to hear your views and Ed's views on things political. Very direct and to the point.

Nov. 07 2011 02:45 PM
Motaz from Jedda,Saudi Arabia

I love this program,keep it up!

Nov. 07 2011 02:42 PM
lori gibb from Virginia

Fantastic interview__I do have to say Ed Rollins is a very knowledgeable, talented and driven __his political views are sound and smart and not judgemental___however, this is just like The View without fists clasped__Ronald Reagan was right and a very talented actor Mayor Baldwin__you work hard for your money and your neighbor does not want to work wants to live off your taxes that is the thought instilled by Liberals all together offer no solutions but pointing fingers__they have instilled in the minds of Americans that is how it should be the more free they get the longer they wait to do for themselves! Ed Rollins is an honest and tells it like it is but with a degree of panache!!!

Nov. 07 2011 01:48 PM
George Myers from The Bronx, NY

I might add we had a Mayor of New York City from Long Island, from now Deepwell Farm Historic Park, St. James, NY ( which last time I stopped at, belonged to Suffolk County and had "dinner theater" events there. Many prehistoric artifacts collected by archaeologist Edward Johanneman, MA, while at nearby Stony Brook University, are stored there. I enjoyed this podcast. I think former President R.R. started his campaign in Upstate NY. Once along the highway, HHH passing by in a convertible, said "Thank you boys" outside MacArthur Airport, running then. Later the re-election campaign of former President Nixon's crew had all the protesters there moved behind the grandstand "out-of-sight".

Nov. 07 2011 01:26 PM
Julian from Washington DC

Alec's true colors show in this episode. At least about foreign policy.

Nov. 07 2011 01:24 PM
Maggie Williams from San Diego, CA

Spectacular interview! I wish my entire day was going to be that intellectually stimulating and entertaining.

Nov. 07 2011 09:18 AM

Leave a Comment

Email addresses are required but never displayed.

Get the WNYC Morning Brief in your inbox.
We'll send you our top 5 stories every day, plus breaking news and weather.