BNN Intern Tyler Interviews Ken Bone


BNN Editorial Note: The following is an interview between Ken Bone and Tyler. Tyler is the BNN intern who’s been running the social media accounts, helping with the videos we’ve put out, and running a test podcast. He was recently able to land the one and only Ken Bone on that podcast.

I’ll leave the rest to Tyler. Follow him here.

On Friday, July 28, 2017, I sat down with Missouri coal worker Ken Bone for a 20 minute interview that touched upon his life thrust into the political spotlight and what he is planning on doing moving forward. The following is the audio of that interview and an unedited transcript.

Tyler O’Day: Alright, so we are joined by phone today by none other than the man himself Ken Bone. Ken, Thank you so much for joining us on the podcast today.

Ken Bone: No problem Tyler. Happy to be here.

TO: So, I just wanted to preface this conversation with my immediate reaction to your introduction to the public sphere. I’m looking at my own tweets from the debate night in October, and I just want to reads them to you real quick. There’s about a million here but I’m reading my favorite ones. The first one was “The name’s Bone. Ken Bone.” That was immediately as you came on. The second one was “ANYTHING THAT HAS EVER HAPPENED EVER HAS BEEN WORTH IT FOR KEN BONE!!!!!!!” Which is still how I feel and the third one was “College freshman: Can we come in? Ken Bone: Who do you know here?” Those were my immediate reactions to you being introduced. In all seriousness, I and my friends were in my apartment at school at UMass Amherst and it was a long weekend and we were watching the debate. I’ll be frank, you electrified the room. The debate had been kind of drab up to that point, your introduction was incredible. I just wanted to first ask, how you managed to wind up on the debate stage that night.

KB: It’s 100% random. The Gallup poll calls people who live close to the area where the debate takes place. They do their regular political survey. They ask who you’re going to vote for a how likely are you to change your mind on a scale of 0-10. 0 is no way am I going to change my mind. My candidate could shake a baby to death on television and I’d still be with them. 10 is a total coin flip, I have no idea. I told them, 2. Pretty close but I wanted to leave myself a little wiggle room in case something huge happened. Everyone on the stage was a 4 or less. This election cycle was so contentious and so horrible that everybody had pretty much made up their minds. Undecided meant something a lot looser than it normally does.

TO: I would think not knowing that they would really be looking for the 4, 5, and 6’s that’s really interesting…..

KB: They normally want people who are a 6 or a 7 or above but here just weren’t many of those to be had this time around who were eligible to come to the debate and able to be there. Of the 40 of us who were out there, nobody who I talked to was above a 4, there might have been one 5.

TO: Once you decided to be a part of that immediate debate audience. What kind of process is there for, you know, clearing someone to be on stage with one of the two people who are going to be the next President of the country?

KB: Well, after you do the survey the invite you to be part of the debate. Up to that point you have no idea why they are calling. It’s just a regular survey. Then they reveal that their looking for people to be at the debate. They ask if you’re able to be there. They ask you some basic questions. They ask if you’re a convicted felon or any of that crazy stuff. Then they give you a whole bunch of resources so you can vet them and make sure they’re not a scam that’s phishing for your personal information. They need to know everything about you so the Secret Service can do a really thorough background check and that takes 4 or 5 days. So, about three days before the debate, a packet shows up, telling you where to be and when to be there and if you clear the background check. I cleared the background check because I’ve never stabbed anyone with a sharpened tooth brush and they told me to be there for 8 in the we were all there for 14 hours where they do additional security screenings.

TO: Jeeze, 14 hours

KB: It’s a really long day

TO: I was in Washington. These security clearances are just unbelievable. I had a friend in Washington last year. We both had a mutual friend who was interning at the White House and the buddy invited us to come check out the EEOB where his internship was and my roommate whose full name is Jacob but goes by Jake so when he sent his information to the Secret Service he put Jake Westerberg and when he showed up, they didn’t even let him into the White House. I know how taxing these clearances could be. I just want to get this right, your question was pertaining to energy, right?

KB: Yeah, I work in the energy industry as an operator at a coal fire power plant so I wanted to know how they are going to balance our environmental concerns. Climate change is a very real and very dangerous thing and I want to know how were going to balance that with not just putting every fossil fuel power worker out of work and leaving ourselves short of energy.

TO: Did you give any other thought about asking about anything different from that or was your main concern that it was going to be an energy question?

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KB: Well each of us wrote two questions, in case one of them was a repeat or whatever you know. All forty of us were to write two questions, surely there would be some overlap. My alternate question was going to be about the student loan crisis. By the time I’m done paying off my student loans my son will probably be in his sophomore year of college so there’s no way I can help him go to school while I’m still paying to go to school and that’s the average American now. They’re having a hard time helping their kids go to school because they still owe tons of money from going to school. But, a lot of other people asked about that and unfortunate we didn’t end up getting to that in the time allotted.

TO: Did you know that you were going to be specifically asked before that happened of did you not know until the moment it came up?

KB: No, The only people who get to see your questions are the moderators. Anderson Cooper and Martha Raddatz and their personal assistants. They see the questions and pick out the one’s they like the best. They consolidate which ones are repeats and decide which person they thought had the best worded questions and they just kind of make a list. These are about foreign policy, the economy, and health care, what have you. And they go through all that and they make a list but they don’t tell anyone what order they are going to be in. It can change once the candidates just starting sniping each other and stop answering the question, they just kind of brush that topic aside. Well we just wanted to ask three foreign policy questions but after one it’s just not constructive anymore and they say were moving on to the economy. We had no idea whether we would called on in what order.

TO: So, I have a question for you, so immediately following the debate, just on the live coverage, there was a camera pointed at you at all seconds and I’m sure you’ve answered this before but the disposable camera which I think I just such a vintage and classic move it was a thing of beauty. Have you always been a disposable camera guy or was that just the right time and the right moment?


KB: The debate commission wouldn’t allow us to bring any electronic devices of any kind, couldn’t have phones, cameras, tablets. Anything that could be possible used to communicate with anybody. We were sequestered for the whole day so all we had were books and stuff. But they wanted us to be able to take picture because they knew it was a big event for us so they can gave us all a disposable camera. Everybody that was on the stage had one. I was standing off by myself so they saw mine, they didn’t really see everyone else’s. I was standing by myself because everyone was taking pictures of the moderator’s table and Ivanka Trump and stuff like that and I was like I can see that on television. I want to take pictures of all the sound and camera equipment because I’ve always been kind of a broadcast junkie. I love all of that inside baseball, behind the scenes stuff. The shots of me waling by myself and sapping pictures of the thing were on me taking pictures of the jib crane. They had a really big camera on the jib and it was the biggest one I’d ever seen. That was why everyone saw me with the disposable camera. I didn’t bring it. The debate people gave it to me, everybody had one.

TO: It seems to me that the PCD may be keeping the disposable camera industry alive. They need to come up with…

KB: There were a lot of volunteers who sat with us all day. Giving us instructions or whatever, A couple of those volunteers went out to Walmart to get disposable cameras for everyone and they wound up having to go to 2 or 3 different Walmart’s to get 40 disposable cameras.

TO: [laughter]

KB: Somewhere there’s a couple of Walmart managers saying there’s a rush on disposable cameras we better order a thousand now they’re just sitting on the shelf.

TO: So, how soon after the debate was overdid you do your first media availability? How quickly were people trying to talk to you?


KB: Like I said, I couldn’t have my phone with me. I got back to my car where I had it locked in my glove compartment, maybe a half hour or 45 minutes after the debate. I turned my phone on and to my great surprise, I had missed dozens of text messages, emails and Facebook messages. I start trying to sort through it and a lot of it is people from the media. They’re trying to get in contact with me. The very first interview I did was the next morning at 5o clock my time with a girl I went to high school with is now a segment producer for a local news station in Dallas and she got a hold of me on Facebook and asked me to call in. We talked about it and I said obviously since it was somebody I used to know so I said I would call in. No big deal. By the time I told her I would do it then all of a sudden I’m getting emails from Jimmy Kimmel, his producer and Fox Sports radio. The first national interview I did was at Fox Sports radio at 5:30. Throughout that day I had one interview booked at Washington University. CNN still had their camera crew there and when I got there a bunch of other media outlets were there and just saw me and kept grabbing me and I did 80 or 90 interviews that day between every local station, dozens of radio station. I was on all of the cable news network for a two to three minute segment. It was insane

TO: That just goes to show you what the absolute fervor of social media does to the way news works. If that debate happens in 2004, there’s no real way to tangibly and visually display the kind of phenomenal that your appearance created and…

KB: No, no, ten years ago my local newspaper, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch might have put a picture of my face on page six with a column about me and that would’ve been it.

TO: Did you have to take time off after that? It must’ve been a whirlwind. I mean, I get excited when I get ten retweets and within a week, what did you have 170,000 followers?

KB: At my peak I had 256,000 that was after about three weeks and now about 50,000 of them have come to their senses. I’m sitting at about 200K now.

TO: Those are 200,000 Patriots in my opinion.

KB: I did have to take about 4 or 5 days off of work and I ran out of vacation time after that so I couldn’t take any more time off so I’m working the night shift trying to do interviews during the day

TO: In the aftermath, we are almost a year removed, actually a little less than that, what types of things are you still doing pertaining to this event, obviously excluding this prestigious production?

KB: I’ll be doing some traveling here in the next couple of weeks. I’ll be going to a political event, we haven’t done an official announcement yet so I can’t give you all the details on that yet. I’ll be traveling to do spokesmanship work for a company I work for called Victory Holdings. We’re featuring this political fundraising software that they came up with and it’s trying to get people who don’t have a lot of money be able to get them into running for office because now you have to have access to tens of thousands of dollars to even try to run. This is to help people get off the ground with almost a crowd funding effort. In the fall when school starts up, I’m scheduled to be at Yale to talk the student body in the late September. There’s a couple of schools on the East Coast that I might be stopping at while on that trip. There’s not a whole lot of stuff, not like it used to be but still some fun events.

TO: What types of stuff will you be impugning the Ivy Leaguers at Yale when you go and give your talk?

KB: I’m just trying to tell them, one, be careful what you wish for. Everyone wants to famous for 15 minutes but there is much more to it than just being on television. There’s a lot of work and stress behind the scenes. But. Mostly I’ll be teaching them about political activism. You don’t have to wait until you’re 35 and married with two kids before you care about who you vote for. You can get out and be politically active now. We’re seeing young people, maybe even younger than we saw in the 1960’s and 70’s being active in politics, going to rally’s, trying to educated themselves about the issues of the day and I really like to see that and I want to encourage it to continue.

TO: Now had you been politically active locally prior to your rise to national prominence.

KB: No, I didn’t even go to HOA meetings. But, now that people ask my opinion as if it actually means something, I feel like I owe it to them to be educated on the issues.

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TO: Yeah, I think a lot of times, people feel that way because a lot of people don’t feel their opinions matter and they think that but it is clearly evident through your rise that people took a lot with your opinion. I think a lot of that activism in the youth now does stem from the fact that social media is so prominent and you can talk a lot about immediate satisfaction that people can get from displaying their political opinion on social media and somebody else caring about their opinion or just the ability to tweet at your given congressman or senator, I think you know is doing a lot for political activism. I was a communications major at UMass and professors would talk about the cone of silence and selective exposure where people really just wanted to see what they want to see and it only reinforces their background and obviously that’s not great for democracy or polarization but I think social media is good at making people feel like they have a voice. When people feel disenfranchised they sit out and I think, what you’ve done and I’ve looked at your twitter and I see that you’re still speaking out about the things that matter to you and that you believe in and I think social media is going to do a lot for younger people and making them a apart of the process. I see all the time people I thought would neve really care speak out about because they have the platform to do it. I think the work that you’re doing with college students is great, that’s really tremendous stuff.

KB: That’s one of the big takeaways of this. If people realize that have the right to be heard it was all worth it. It’s been fun for me but being able to do some good for the community is a pretty big deal to me.

TO: As they said about Charlie Brown, Ken Bone you are a good man and I thank you for much for sitting Down with me and I wish you the best of luck with your eastern tour this fall.

KB: Thanks a lot Tyler.