10 Questions with ... Buck Sexton
October 1, 2013
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
CIA; Council on Foreign Relations; TheBlaze.com/TheBlaze Radio Network.
1. How did you get into radio, TV, and commentary from the CIA? How did you make that transition?
It was luck -- or maybe fate? Depends how you see the world. I wanted to broaden my skills and tackle the private sector after 6 years as an intelligence analyst. I was weeks away from starting a full time MBA, probably headed to Wall Street after that, when I had a chance coffee with an executive from TheBlaze. I didnâ€™t realize this until speaking with her, but she was actually very senior - Betsy Morgan, President & Chief Strategy Officer of TheBlaze, formerly CEO of The Huffington Post. She talked to me for an hour, figured out that I was really conservative and a complete media junkie. She convinced me to forgo school, come work for Glenn Beck. I then met with Glenn, and the rest is history.
2. Besides your background in intelligence, what else makes you different as a talk host? What's different about your show from what else is on the radio or online?
I believe very strongly in â€œgoing deep,â€ as I say on the show. By that I mean really learning about the subject, dissecting it based on the facts, and tying its history into the present. Past is indeed prologue. I spent six years of my life learning about national security, intelligence, and the Middle East firsthand, all day, every day.
Before that, I studied political philosophy from a great conservative scholar, Hadley Arkes, at Amherst College, and Iâ€™ve always been a fanatic for learning about history. So I bring all those threads together, along with lots of jokes and mimicry to lighten things up, on my radio show. Bottom line: I do the show I would want to listen to.
3. What do you think is the greatest misunderstanding the American public has about the Middle East? What's missing from most people's perceptions of what's happening there?
There are very few surprises once you understand the history of the region. Many of the struggles playing out today are decades, centuries, in some cases even millennia in the making. You must know the past in the Middle East to understand the present. And you must really master the past to have any hope of anticipating the future.
Iâ€™m starting to sound like Yoda, but you get the idea.
4. Are you optimistic or pessimistic about the developments in the Middle East? Do you see the chaos ever ending? Will the conflict become broader at some point (and, if so, when do you think the regional wars will spill into an effective world war)?
We are in a particularly unstable period right now, but it is cyclical, and things have been much worse from a violence perspective in the recent past. But with the introduction of nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons capabilities into the equation, coupled with the still thriving global Jihadist movements, in a sense we are in uncharted territory now.
Certainly, the Obama administration has no idea what the heck is going on over there.
I donâ€™t see a fight between the major world powers occurring there in the next ten years. But proxy wars? Battles for influence? Thatâ€™s going to happen. Itâ€™s really the status quo, and it has been going on constantly throughout history.
5. Do you see social media and the Internet, widely credited at the time with prompting the "Arab Spring," as ultimately a beneficial or detrimental thing in world politics? Is increased access to communication and information playing out as a good thing, long term?
More information is better, more communication is better. In the long term, connectivity around the world will benefit mankind. It has already changed our reality. Are there many challenges? Will there be ethnic cleansing, violent coups, and political oppression that harness digital technology? Of course. But a printing press can mass produce Bibles, or "Mein Kampf." Tools can only be judged in their usage.
6. Who would you say have been your greatest influences or inspirations?
George Orwell, Christopher Hitchens after 9/11, Rush Limbaugh (the Michael Jordan of radio) -- and New York City. Yeah, itâ€™s a city, not a person, but it is a huge part of who I am, and how I came to be.
7. Of what are you most proud?
I wish I could say briefing the President or working to avert some of the biggest terrorist plots in history. I have tons of awards and medals and such from the federal government stuffed in a drawer somewhere. But itâ€™s honestly much simpler than that for me.
I treat other people the way I want to be treated. Nothing is more important. And there is not enough of it in media. In this country we excuse the well-known far too easily for acting like monsters. Every successful person in media is lucky to have the job they do, even the most famous and talented.
As I have said on my show, kindness is our first obligation. Maybe that sounds self-aggrandizing or clichÃ©d. Doesnâ€™t matter. Itâ€™s the truth. Everything else is noise.
8. How do you prepare for your radio show? What's the process before you open the mic?
Ha! I have some rituals set up at this point. I put out a ton of energy during my 3 hour show- I have very few guests and donâ€™t take many calls. So I drink what is called a â€œRedeyeâ€ at my coffee shop - a large coffee with a shot of espresso.
Once I get into the studio- â€œThe Freedom Hutâ€ as I call it- I blast some music to wake up and get moving. Sometimes itâ€™s classic rock, but I have to admit, I often listen to stuff like DJ Tiesto, Skrillex, and Deadmau5 to get fired up. Hey, whatever works.
As for content preparation- my life takes care of that. I am a reading machine on current events, history, and philosophy. I never have enough time to cover what I want to on any given day.
9. Fill in the blank: I can't make it through the day without _______________.
...COFFEE. And if itâ€™s a bad day, chocolate.
10. What's the best advice you've ever gotten? The worst?
Best Advice: Find the thing you love to do, and do it.
Worst Advice: I donâ€™t remember, because I ignored it.