tv Reporter Roundtable on American Identity CSPAN November 22, 2018 3:30pm-4:35pm EST
afterwords, journalist was antonio vargas. c-spanican history tv on 3, today at 5:30 p.m. eastern, on american artifacts, celebrating the first in which thanks giving at berkeley, 1619nia, near jamestown in . friday at 6:30 p.m. on the presidency, reflections on former first lady barbara bush during saturday at -- bus. saturday, lectures and -- first lady barbara bush. saturday, lectures in history. sunday, scholars talk about how the u.s. constitution defines impeachable offenses for the president. >> white house correspondents
association president olivier knox moderates a roundtable on media and politics with robert costa, cnn's abby phillip, and mona charen of the ethics and public policy center. kevin: ladies and gentlemen, thank you. i want to introduce myself. my name is kevin butterfield. i am the new executive director of the washington library. the national library for the study of george washington here at mount vernon. [applause] kevin: thank you. i think you can sense i needed that encouragement. i have been on the job for five weeks. [laughter] kevin: i am thrilled and excited by it. i want to thank you for your support of washington library and being here tonight. we had great events like this on regular occasions. we have a three lecture series called the george washington
lecture series. we've already had one, but there are two more coming. we had one of the world's greatest legal authorities. she will be back again on october 11. i promise you i can get you up to speed if you want to know what you missed in lecture one. we have great offense like that all the time. but opportunities to have a variety of viewpoints. historians and journalists, and in one place, on one evening. those only come every now and then and i am excited to be here tonight. i wanted introduce the second panel, but i will not introduce every person on the stage. our moderator will do that. this will be recorded for a program on sirius xm. a tremendous panel journalists you are about to meet. olivier knox, the chief washington correspondent, as well as president of the white house correspondents association. when i asked if those are the two things i should mention, he said there's a third thing, and probably the only person in the room who was there when george
w. bush had a shoe thrown at him. [laughter] that's probably worthy of mentioning. please join me in welcoming olivier knox. [applause] mr. knox: thank you for this introduction. i am in most of the photos with my double chin like that. [laughter] thank you, mount vernon, for convening this conversation on what it means to be an american. let me start by saying i'm not sure there is a right answer, but at a time when americans are living increasingly in silos, some of them in their own making, whether ideological, or living with people who share their means or their political leanings, i think it is an important one to ask at a time when politicians slice and dice the electorate for political and
their own personal gain. we talk in my profession a litte too glibly and too much about red america and blue america. it is an important question to ask. the reason for assembling this team with a panel drawn from news media rests on a question that has probably always been with us, which is that, the question of whether americans share never mind a common set of values, but just a common shared set of facts, a shared reality. and what that means for the way we exercise our first amendment rights. let me lighten this by saying, there is a mark twain essay and it is a scathing dismantling of a french sociologist. in it, mark twain suggests only the national characteristic is what he calls "the national devotion to ice water." [laughter] joining me now, senior white house correspondent abby phillip.
she helps to cover the trump administration. no small feat. fellow basement dweller. robert costa from the washington post. and mona chair in from the senior ethics and public policy center. her column is widely circulated. welcome to all of you. [applause] i will direct my questions -- we can do this individually, but i wanted to be more like a conversation. if you want to ask, i am not territorial about the moderator role. i think at the time when prospects of an unexpected presidential tweet have reporters feeling like a longtailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs, i think we can have a comfortable conversation and stay off twitter. [laughter] mona, we hear a lot today about americans being more polarized than ever. obviously, this is from people who neglected to study the civil war, but i want your sense of how bad it is. i think mentioning the
civil war is a good reality check. one might also cite the 1960's. i was a child in the 1960's. i can remember in the neighborhood where our family had just moved out of -- we moved in 1966. the following summer on the streets where i as a little kid had been playing, there were tanks and armored personnel carriers because of the riots in newark in 1968. sorry, in 1967. even within my lifetime, things have been worse in terms of polarization, in terms of violence, worry about the future of the country, what's happening to us, and so forth, than now. on the other hand, that is not to diminish what we are going through. i'm sure you have seen the surveys that show people -- most americans would not want their child to marry someone of the other political party.
that is really an amazing finding. so parochiale about who we know and who we live with and who we socialize with. i think the decline of local communities and a sense of being part of your own neighborhood and your own states and all of that has broken down. we're all so focused on what's happening in washington. as an audience. we are supposed to be spectators now about a show that's being brought us to from washington d.c. rather than citizens from participate in our local communities and then in our
communities and then in our states and so forth. that's another reason we're seeing this tremendous polarization. people are not participating themselves and having to sit across the table from the city council or school board who has a different point of view. olivier: good time to remind the audience, we'll be taking questions at the end of this. it's striking, bob, how often on social media and people who on the surface seem to be average citizens who are actually feeding the talking points. the exact talking points of political parties. i wonder where they get it. to what extent is the news media to blame for this sorting, for this polarization of the electorate? robert: you need step back when you think about the news media question and think about what is happening in this country as a reporter, i look to my notebook for anecdotal evidence that will explain how we got here and how we got to this division. when you think about it as a reporter, you realize that the
parties are totally reorienting themselves. the republicans and the democrats. there's so much pervasive anger in this country. i see sharing of the anger that overlaps. on many different fronts. as much as social media and media coverage, it seem like we're divided. the way parties are framing themselves against closure and the world. it remind me of two conversations. one was steve bannon and supported sarah palin. he said the middle class has been destroyed by the global economy. they will turn to populism and nationalism. i said what you're talking about. he said that's the future of major politics. the parties are so broken the republican party will reach for
whoever brings it, whether it's palin or someone else. he didn't even know trump was on the horizon. the parties would reach for that. because the global economy had got in people their ideology and connection to the republicans. the other conversation that sticks out my mind, 2014 and beverly hills with senator bernie sanders. he sounded so much like bannon. we were on the bill maher show and we had breakfast the next morning. he said the future of american politics is going to be about nationalism on the left going against corporations and the global corporations that have really in his words, gutted the middle class. you saw bannon was picking in 2011 and trump with birtherism picking trade and immigration, few years later, bernie sanders no one took him seriously in 2014. he was picking similar foes in a thematic way. it was driven by this anger what happened in 2008.
we just hit that ten-year anniversary. i hear this naval guying about the media and the divisions in this country. i think we need to step back and think about the historians we heard from and forces at work in both of these parties that are driving us toward this anger and division. it's not in our control as reporters. i sometimes think as the media, we have to stop thinking we dominate everything. we do dominate too much. we are not the -- what sanders and bannon saw the things that were changing and the country and world is moving in a new direction. i don't like this question about the media -- there's so much more happening. we can't watch it and go well to a point. we're on a bigger ship. the other thing is
we're not as dominant as we used to be. people are getting their news from a wide range of sources. there are youtube channels that dwarf traditional outlets by factor of 10, 20. people are taking what they get there and they're going to war on social media. this is a little simple -- to a degree it's social media -- how is it making it worse? abby: i think social media is helping people do things that they think they would otherwise do. which is connect with people who have similar views to them. something that bob said that resonated with me, what we talk about when we talk about social media, is something i think people have always done but just in different ways. they might have distributed
tracts at times in their lives or gone to church to find out what people are think being. now people are connected online. what we're seeing online people trying to find similarities with each other, sharing that, sharing talking points to your question earlier about where people get this stuff from. frankly the answer is they get from each other. it's literally word of mouth except online. the way that that works, actually is really important because i think it's one of the things that we don't as a society, fully understand how it's working. it's one of the things that's contributing to this black box like this russian interference. what it does mean when a foreign power might create a meme online and it's shared millions of times? it's word of mouth that is causing information and sometimes misinformation to travel. i think that's what people are
trying to do online. what i think is interesting about our political moment and about the internet and about divisions that we are experiencing as a country is this -- what seems to me to be the ideology of people like steve bannon and bernie sanders and the culture of their supporters online which is much more driven by personal grievance, by fighting with each other online spaces and less about ideas, less about populism or nationalism or individualism. but just about winning up over the next person and in cases just literally gathering more likes, more retweets, more views. i do think that's a real phenomenon. i wish i can say i felt strongly that everything that was driving this political moment
were ideas, were the idea of populism or nationalism or the working class fighting and wanting to rise up. i think lot of people are driven by that. some people are driven by that. i do think people are not driven by that. they're driven by a desire to have a sense of identity with each other. sometimes they find that identity online. sometimes they find it at trump rallies. sometimes they find it by wanting to own the libs as they say online. there's something about this political moment that's giving people a sense of community. that's something we need to unpack. i think sometimes it's driving pretty distortionary forces in our politics. there's a reason why people gather at trump rallies. that reason is not
always -- it's not even populism. sometimes it's a sense of belonging among people who share their views. that is fostered online. one of the things that trump makes real is that people can physically go some place and be part of that. i think that that is totally different. to answer your question -- i think in some ways the internet is about people wanting to feel more connected and becoming more connected. olivier: i'll to bob and then mona. give us a sense recap of how you got here today.
i don't mean uber, i mean professionally. i'm interested how has your job changed since the day you started doing reporting? pick any aspect of it at all and also, shape that answer, when you sit down to craft a segment and write a story, is this audience on your mind? one of the biggest differences in my life now from when i started working in politics, political journalism, about eight years ago, i read lot of tweets now. i try to explain tweets pretty much. i think that's a huge thing in our political moment is that it's the way in which the white house and politics is driven by what is happening on twitter. how did i get here? i started working at politico, which i assume many of you might know.
early in my career, i was very young. i was 21 years old, i was barely old enough to drink. i was how assigned to cover the white house as a blogger. i was very much out of depth. it was very different operation. it was much more centrally controlled, at least they tried to be. in many ways it was imbued in different ways and certain kind of history and there was a newness to obama and the kind of politics that he thought he was going to bring in and who he was as a person. i think that experience is so dramatically different from what i do today. at that time i felt like what i job was to take all of the bureaucratic gibberish and
explain it to people in a way that made more sense to them. it was a very traditional administration in that sense. they did things really by the book. we would have tomes and tomes of paper that would come out everyday. this administration is literally the exact opposite. there's almost no paper that comes out of this administration. instead, what we are trying to explain to people is what is motivating the things that their seeing and the things they're seeing is chaos. also, i think one thing that after doing this for over a year now, year and a half, 18 months
what i have stopped doing is trying to make sense out of things that don't make sense. [laughter] i think that's like we all goat that point as white house correspondent. we say you know what, the reason it doesn't make sense to you, it doesn't make any sense. i think it's okay. as a journalist, i felt like it was my job to help people understand. i think it is still that but sometimes helping them understand is just being honest and saying, that hasn't been thought through. what you're seeing is what you're getting. they're figuring this out and here's how i know that they're figuring this out. just in the same way that you're taking it in as a consumer of the news. i felt like lot of white house correspondents when we started out, always wanted to explain what this tweet meant and what he meant by this word or that word. sometimes it's not always possible. i've gotten to be okay with that. [laughter] bob, how did you get
here and when you sit down to write a story, what role does your thought about the audience play in it? the reader has to be at the fore of your mind for everything. at the end of the day the job of journalist or a white house correspondent or a reporter or host, you need to inform the public. the job hasn't really changed since the beginning of time when you're a reporter. you find a story, you investigate, you interview people. you construct the story in an objective way and you do it in a illuminating way. this is the best of times. now, what used to be in your notebook because you can never share with the readers, now you can share it on twitter, instagram and other platforms. that's able to illuminate the story more.
you're bringing people in now in an unprecedented way. the challenge, of course, you have a real responsibility as a reporter that you do not become the story. we also live in such tense times that both sides, whether it's senator sanders saying corporate media and president trump with fake news, they want to politicize the press day in and day out. you have to take precaution to not allow yourself to become politicized, to not become a player in our times. that is a challenge. people say fake news. i don't respond to it. then you're engaging it in a defensive way. we're not at war we're at work. just focus on the work. if you can just focus on the work, it's like any job. people say how do you do it and put your views on the shelf. if you're a lawyer or doctor or insurance salesman, everyday at 9:00 a.m. you're expected to put your views on the shelf and do your job. shouldn't reporters do the same? do it vigorously.
the biggest thing i'm worried about the conversation about civics is when i'm on the road for the presidential campaign, i meet one out of every two voters i meet, when i say, robert costa "washington post," they say i don't want to talk to you. the other voter say, what do you think? you're doing heroic work. we're not heroes, we're reporters. half the country thinks we're heroes and half don't want to talk to us. how do you deal with that? you deal with it by not indulging people who calling you heroes too much. for people who don't want to engage, you have to engage. you have to perform as a reporter. sometimes it's hard in this media age. the spotlights are on you all the time. you have platforms hundreds of thousands of people. there's opportunities to indulge constantly. we all make mistakes starting with myself. but, that aim for balance it's a relatively modern phenomenon.
this idea of the mainstream media providing objectivity. we may be moving to a different era. i think day-to-day reporters could do a better job starting with myself, just trying to be with myself, just trying to be balanced and informing the reader, think about the reader and not about ourselves. olivier: i know engagements with readers potential readers, i came to this late and-in my career. i found the most useful thing is to invite to ask me questions so i'm not asking them questions. it's been the single best engagement tool when i'm out on the road. mona, how did you get here and
how have things changed for you? mona: this city has changed a lot since i first came here to cover the jefferson administration. [laughter] okay, do i think about my audience? all the time. i was taught the basics of what it meant to be a journalist by the late great william buckley who said that great writing means first trying to put yourself in position of your reader. you have to be engaging, logical and you have to be entertaining hopefully. all those things. informative. but, i will also confess freely that in my world, it really has changed in the last couple of years. because of the changing nature of the conservative movement and it's becoming less like when
i was coming up. it's much more nationalist and trumpy. there's lot of my readers unhappy with me. i'm aware of that. it's a bit of struggle when i sit down to write to say to myself, there's a little bit of writer's block that can creep in if you think my audience won't like this maybe i shouldn't say it. i have to give myself a pep talk. you know what, they may not like it. your job is to give them your best judgment and not what they want to hear. that's what i try to do. it definitely has changed the world for me. olivier: stay with you mona. i remember seeing you on television on some of these debate shows. one thing that, we're still having that debate but they're
not on the same set. they're on separate networks. how has that -- you lived the on set experience. how has that changed? mona: it's interesting. i do think that abby, you wouldn't know this, for many years i was on the cnn chat show, it was called capital gain. it was actually little bit of an icebreaker. every week we had a different politician on. it was always alternating. republican and democrat back and forth each week. also my fellow panelists were always -- it's divided republicans and democrats. because we would see in the green room and we would clat before the show, you saw these people as human beings. you didn't see them as the enemy. there was a lot of bonhomie on the set. it really did facilitate seeing the other side point of view. all right, we didn't usually change our minds. at least we didn't see the other side of the enemy. now it is just, you're either on
fox or cnn. there's a lot of bit of cross pollination. pbs is pretty good. for the most part, -- but now it's just people -- this is going back to our earlier discussion about the nature of media, is the media part of the problem? bob said it's not the media it's what's happening out there in the real world and the media is reflecting that. abby saying maybe it is the media. one of the things that's happening in my judgment that, the media -- we are getting to craft our own media. each one of us as a consumer. with all of these algorithms that say you liked this story, you get fed more stories along those lines. same thing on facebook and twitter. it reinforces instincts where you are getting positive feedback and getting deeper in our own
trench. therefore less available for contrary evidence. i do think that is in part a technological thing that's changing our minds. olivier: jumping from the agency from yahoo! news. to illustrate your point, i was part of panel at the george h. w. bush library. i got up and said, i don't know why you have the news guys up there. that's not news and that's crap. every time i go to your site, it's kim kardashian this and that. i said okay, where are you going? i'm going to yahoo!.com. you're not going to the news. well, no. okay here's the deal. the news site is people picking stories. the regular site is driving by an algorithim. what it does it shows you things that you've clicked only
before. [laughter] so sir, if all you're seeing is kim kardashian -- he didn't like me much. we are going to get into some deeper issues here. i'm not interested in knocking president trump around on this panel. let me quote from his speech. "i honor the right of every nation in this room to pursue its own beliefs and tradition. united states will not tell you now live, work or worship. we only ask you that honor hour sovereignty in return." i'm not putting on rose colored glasses. maybe it's the nature of the way the cold war shaped america's place in the world. other american presidents that you covered spoken in much more universal terms. potentially hypocritically.
i will start with abby. how does this change what it means to be america? abby: i heard him say that, the first thing i thought was, man, couple of years ago, democrats would have been like, yeah. we totally agree. we shouldn't be telling other countries how to live their lives. that's kind of trumped in a lot of way on foreign policies. he's both here and there. i thought it was interesting that line has come to mean something little bit different because of the second part of it in which he says, you don't tell us what to do with our lives. i think that's the part that where you lose some of the former, noninterventionist democrats.
which is to say that, i think, trump -- what he's trying say is don't mess with our internal affairs and cares little bit less about the first part. i don't think that's a total redefinition what it means to be an american, necessarily. we've gone through periods in our history where many americans have felt that we have been too involved elsewhere and other countries ought not to tell us what to do. that is quite american in many ways. we kind of ebb and flow in those ways. in recent american history, what he's raising there is to what extent are we advocating any kind of authority on the global stage? that leader of the pack. where we are at the front of the line, where we are charging at the front. i think he often tries to have it both ways but the reality of the last two years has been that we have not been leading from the front of the pack on certain issues. that is a difference in recent modern history. i think the fact that he so tried to undermine institutions that america built like the u.n. and nato and the w.t.o.
these are all pieces of evidence of trump retreating from america as we try to establish ourselves over the last 50 years, 60 years. i don't know that it's like in the broad sweep of our country that it is that far off. i think that in fact, if you ask people like steve bannon and others they would say, there have been periods of time in our history when we have said enough. we need to focus on home and i think that's what trump is trying to say now. olivier: bob? if you want to trace the president's remarks at the u.n. this week back. you could look at advisers like miller or bannon. really for miller and bannon,
president trump was a horse, politically that they wanted to ride. as someone who has interviewed president trump, many times over the years, as olivier said, sometimes you have to listen to people. they will reveal themselves. one time i went up to the 26th floor of trump tower, back in 2014, you noticed the president, then businessman, doesn't use a computer, sips diet coke all day and constantly eats hamburger. in front of his phone is black and white photo of his father fred trump. only thing he brought to the oval office as president of the united states, that big heavy frame of his father. one time in another interview, guy on the phone all day, looking at a photo of his father, all day on the phone looking at his father, one time
i asked him about his father. he kept going on as you expect him to. tough guy. he said something interesting. he signed every check. what do you mean by that? he said, he was always concerned about getting ripped off. he wanted to know where all the money was at all times. you think about the two constants in president trump life, trade is it. sometimes immigration, sometimes racially charged stuff but really trade. what is trade? trade is about transactions, the transactional view of the world. you see in the united nations speech elements of nationalism sprinkled into his career. at its core someone who doesn't enormous world view when it comes to how he sees these institutions how he sees the united states role. he's someone who stared at a picture of his father who is all about transactional affairs. when you're on the plane with president trump, he's watching you constantly, how much food of
his are you eating, what are you using on the plane? this is someone who is a billionaire. he's someone who's very wealthy but a cheap escape. he really is focused on money constantly. there's fred trump. questions.erious can i ask you actually, the other part to me, when i listen to trump in that u.n. speech but specifically in that section, it seemed to me he was also talking about sovereignty in the sense of borders.
that's the other part of trump. there's been nationalism, populism in terms of economics, making nato doesn't rip us off and u.n. can you -- what do you see in trump that explains his fixation with physical borders? robert: not to read the president's mind, the most vivid moment i had with trump was in august of 2015. he just got in the campaign. we were working together at the post. i was with him in arizona backstage. remember, at his core he is a marketer. he's taken the trump name. he developed properties, he did trump tower. this is someone building around the world. this is a licenser. someone who understands the power of images. when he was in arizona and phoenix and it was his first major rally, i was with him the whole trip. he comes out there and he starts tearing into mexico and he
starts going off on the wall, he just announced and he got all that criticism for his announcement speech, he went double down on it and he saw the visceral raw reaction of people. maybe it was because of race or how they had their own grievances. trump, i can see him watching it as a marketer. he said, this is it. this is what i'm going to go with. he almost runs for president in 2000. he dangles with the idea in 1999. he thought pat buchanan was crazy. he thought he was going too far to the right. he had all these public interviews saying the republican party is offer the rails on immigration. this is someone who has had this position on immigration his whole life. roger stone came up with the idea of the wall. this is a marketer. core instinct on trade and transaction. immigration, he saw the
republican party post 2012 mitt romney went in a moderate direction. he told me this, when i was a birther candidate doing this stuff, there was real power. the republican party wasn't speaking to that voter. in 2012 and 2013, he sees steve king and all of these house republicans do the anti-immigration crusade against mccain and establishment republicans. he's one of the most street smart politicians i've ever covered. he saw immigration something he can seize and make it his own. i want the full panel on this one. lots of public opinion slows that the news media is among the institutions that lost faith in
the american people. mona, your prescription? mona: well, one thing that i would certainly say is that the snarky, rolling your eyes, can you believe what the president just did style that has been adopted by a number of the networks is not working. it's making a tiny sliver of the viewing public happy. they go for their fix. it cements the idea this is a war between the press and the president and they are not really objective. on the other hand, fox has lost tremendous credibility by just being cheering squad for everything the dear leader does. those are the broadcast outlets. there's a lot of great print journalism right now that
doesn't need improving. you can applaud it and say, what a great job they are doing. some people on the air, are doing great job too. it really does amount to not -- to wanting to be -- telling the truth as you see it. more than you want to be a star. unfortunately, so many people in the business, it is all about them. they want to raise their own profile. bob, restore the americans people trust in their media. just do your job. one of the things news media is finding challenging is our power and influence is really increasing. it has -- one the books they're talking about the books in the
prevent panel that shook stick out to you, i read "bowling alone" by roger putnam. which is about the collapse of civic culture. people used to have bowling leagues. no one has leagues anymore. that was a book written in 2002. bowling alone that was before the iphone, all day everyday on the phone. you see politics in a way it's become the civic culture of this country. fewer people are going to church or synagogues or to a mosque and you have politics going into that vacuum. politics is a national religion. if politics becoming that powerful, civic idea, not the actual civic institutions or connections to the state or community.
so many state capitols are barely covered. too much of is on the national stage. everything is nationalized because politics have become this national civic religion. the media, then has to be careful because if everyone turns to a national way for information, it is immense responsibilities to get it right and not to be pulled in the rip tide. abby: i agree with what both of you said. i think three things strike out -- two things. one, to bob's last point, i think as journalist we can help ourselves by slowing it down and talking to each other less on social media. some days i don't like tweeting.
i see lot of journalists talking to each other and doing a lot of instant analysis in ways i don't find to be helpful to our audience or broader conversation around politics or to our understanding of the facts. a lot of mistakes get made on social media and quickly spread virally all over the internet in ways that -- i started off by saying that the internet isn't just another tool of people discussing things by word of mouth. i seen it happen where real mistakes are made by journalist on social media. then they become the talk of the water cooler. they've become the fodder of word of mouth and it becomes something that helps the public.
i think my second big thing is that we need to revive local media and local reporting. i don't know how that is going to happen. i do think the demise of local news and local information is contributing to making national politics be the only form of information that people get. that should not be the case that people don't actually even understand the degree to which the things that are happening in their localities are some ways more important to them but it trickles up the political system. obviously those are not new thoughts. i do think that the local news problem has become less urgent because we feel like the national news is so healthy. and it is. i worked with bob at the "washington post." i worked at cnn. we're doing pretty great. people are watching, reading and listening. we need people to be more focused on their communities, understanding what's going on closer to their home. if we don't fix that problem, we
will continue to have a nation that is polarized by talking heads on television. i think that that can't be good in the long term. olivier: in terms of local and regional reporting, my first act -- shortly after the capital gazette shooting, i subscribed out of couple of outlets. there are lot of stories happening at the state and local level that quickly become national stories or they have a national importance. i think it's very valuable. if you can afford a latte, you can afford a digital subscription. let me pivot to from questionings and comments from the audience. the media seems to encourage disruption in our politics to increase their ratings.
mona? mona: that's true. there's no question about that. i was quite critical during the 2016 primaries of the coverage of trump. which i felt was ratings driven. trump said it himself all the time. "where would you all be without me?" he's aware of that there's this, they gave him $2 billion in free media in 2016. yeah, that is definitely -- they are businesses and they are profit-driven and sometimes that gets the better of news judgment. olivier: >> bob, this is directed to you. you spoke sanders and trump as they though they represent something different. trump lost the popular vote.
isn't sanders just a minor figure and trump an oddity? >> fair point. they're seeing lot of things to learn from trump and to learn from sanders. of course the country is going to change and the democratic party will evolve. they're looking to trump and looking at people like avenatti. they are not laughing. if celebrity populism can win on the right, why couldn't it win on the left? the media gets all this criticism from trump in 2016. he wasn't covered enough.
too much flippant stuff. itshould have been a deep dive everyday. i say to the post, we got to be covering avenatti deep, oprah winfrey deep. let's not assume anything. people assume, sander will never go far, donald trump is a clown. that's an assumption. the media has to be vigorous in research. the democratic party saying populism, maybe it's not the way trump does it. if you look at senator elizabeth warren what a powerful foundation she's already building. the way she articulates her message against the banks. she talks about herself as a populist. she paints trump as someone who is corrupt and has not fulfilled his promise of being a disrupter.
she's defined by a message of populism. trump thought about with bannon raising all taxes on millionaires. republicans in the party said no way. trump had this idea and warren sees an opening there. warren and whoever rises on the left in this new progressive movement in this country which is so connecting with the culture and the metoo movement. is sanders directly responsible? no. i remember having breakfast with sanders in california, the democratic party probably in 2020 will be more like bernie sanders than secretary clinton. people in 2014 would have said you're crazy. they would have said she's the future, center, left, establishment democratic party. no more. almost every top democrat trying to go to the progressive
left. trump stole the issues from democrats. trade was the democratic union issue. the republican party is now taking trade and becoming this protectionist party. totally changed the republican party. drastic historic changes. they matter. you may think they're not serious and these people matter and shouldn't be shrugged off. >> two more, one for abby and the panel. you mentioned this, why are we worried about foreign powers that get shared a thousands times. abby: it doesn't matter where the memes come from. they can come from the russians or from whoever really. it's just that they just happen to have figured out how to use
them pretty effectively. i don't agree that only weak characters are moved by memes. a lot of people are moved by memes. lot of people unknowingly, view things online that are memes. it may or may not be true. they take them and they share them. that is how they spread. that's how information spreads. that's how misinformation spreads. it is not new that shady characters have been using that kind of thing to -- chain letters have been around for so long. that's the thing that has been around forever since the internet has existed. the russians just happened to figure out how to use them. i think it is a huge mistake to assume that the spread of that information is not widespread. it is very widespread.
it's important from the news perspective we need to have better understanding as a society what word of mouth means in the 21st century. it does not always mean going to the bowling alley and talking to your friends about whatever it is. sometimes it means sharing memes on instagram. i think for the next generation and the generation after them that is going to be there day-to-day. that is going to be their bowling alley. that's their bridge club. it's their country club. it is online and until we understand that and accept it for what it is, we'll be behind
the eight ball on this issue and broader issues. if we're concerned about misinformation infecting our politics, how does that happen? it's because people are sharing information differently than we're used to. we need to investigate that. i think the russians have gotten good at figures out something that is not at all very sophisticated. very basic. they just did it with a great degree of frequency, they honed in on certain messages that were not hard to figure out and it worked. anybody can do it. maybe it's the russians today and chinese tomorrow maybe it's whoever. i think it's a real problem. olivier: all right, the clincher question. i won't read all of it. i will just keep it short. mona, why is the press overly obsessed with president trump?
abby: you know, that is -- i agree with the person who wrote that. i think that -- i said earlier that we have part of our as a society and culture and i think little bit what bob also saying, we sort of become spectators. you said that politics has become our religion. it's also become the mainly entertainment. people are just tuning in like the audience. if you're going to have a healthy democracy, people can't see themselves as a passive audience watching a show. they have to educate themselves. one of the things i hate about the leftist politics, they're always saying people should get out and vote. that's what being a citizen means. no. if you don't educate yourself first and know what you're voting on, then just voting is
not a good idea. by the way, there are surveys found that some huge percentage of voters actually support candidates who don't agree with them on the issues. it's interesting. but this idea that it's all a big show and we're all sort of now part of the donald trump reality show. there's a lot going on in this country outside of his antics on twitter and every breath he draws day by day. but there's a breastlessness to the way it's covered. there's a crowding out of other news which i think is unfortunate. i think it would help all of us maintain our sanity a little better too if we can get little bit distance and recognize that it's a big country. the president does not run the country, particularly not this president, really, we have a huge country, complex world, and there's lot more going on than what happens with trump and twitter. one other thing, me personally, i frequently listen to bbc radio
just to get an idea what's going on in the rest of the world. it's just amazing. there's like wow, this happened in zimbabwe and something is happening in egypt and what's going on in indonesia and scotland. we have so little interest in the rest of the world. i think about this a lot. i do think you're right. but the question was why is the media so obsessed with trump. the answer is because people are obsessed with trump as we all know. you go places and that's literally all anybody wants to talk about. i've been outside the country many times over the last two years. that is all anybody wants to talk about. mona: it is self-reinforcing.
wouldn't you agree? abby: it is self-reinforcing. i do think that one of the challenges that i believe that the media faces, not make it all about the media, we often want to give our audience what they are seeking. if people want to watch trump news, we want to give them trump news. it is kind of like this cycle that we're all in. i don't know that the answer is necessarily we just cover trump specifically less. i think that the public right now, there's someone -- when i deal with people, whether it's in washington or in the rest of the country, i'm stunned by how much people think about trump, know what he's up to, know what he's tweeted, they know everything that is going on in washington. on a very granular level. they want to talk about it. they think about it. they're obsessed with it. i don't know that we can really solve that problem but that is exactly -- the president knows that. that is his bread and butter. that is probably why he's
it is not our responsibility in the media to guide you every day as a reader. you have to challenge yourself to find new information. askedcollege student, i do you read a newspaper a day? no, they don't. they don't understand because when you look at the front page, there is a story about trump, but on the left column, usually it is china, the u.s. and the relationship falling apart. are you reading that? fingerasy to point the and say you are giving us too much trump. mediarump has so much available curative so much
complaining about the media. what about citizens to inform yourself? we are not the country. you are the country. stop blaming the media. we need to do a better job, but so do you read thank you. [applause] >> thank you all very much for coming. [applause] olivia as well. you have all earned it. brighture looks very because there is a bar on the other side of the door.
kevin the lastve word. we have champagne. the fifthto enjoy anniversary of the library and thank you so much. >> tonight at 8:00 eastern, supreme court justices on the public perception of the corporate chief justice roberts responded to criticism on being an independent judiciary. here are some of his remarks. i have great respect for our
public officials. after all, they speak for the people and that commands a certain degree of humility from those of us in the judicial branch who do not speak for the people, but we speak for the constitution. our role is very clear. we are in -- to interpret the thetitution and ensure branches asked within them. requires independence from political branches. the story of the supreme court would be there a different without that sort of independence. without independence, there is no brown versus board of education. without independence, there is versus mrs.inia barnett. independence, there
is no case where the court held that president truman's subject to the constitution even in a time of war. you can watch the remarks tonight. at 8:00 eastern, georgetown law school and the university of minnesota as they discuss public perception of the court. over the next hour, a panel politicians on the media.
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