Behind the lies of Congressman George Santos. Diane talks to the owner of the small weekly paper that first broke the story, and a Washington Post journalist who is following the money to see who financed Santos's political rise.
U.S. officials reveal that more than 20 million Americans were affected by a hack of federal employee files – a far greater number than originally thought. That news came a day after technical glitches hit the New York Stock Exchange and United Airlines. The Confederate flag comes down from South Carolina’s statehouse grounds after flying there for more than half a century. The Obama administration revives its plan for Medicare to cover end-of-life counseling. And Republican leaders worry about Donald Trump’s message. A panel of journalists joins Diane for analysis of the week’s top national news stories.
- Ron Elving Senior Washington editor, NPR News
- Christina Bellantoni Editor-in-chief, Roll Call.
- Jeff Mason White House correspondent, Reuters
Video: Debate Over The Confederate Flag Isn't Over
South Carolina’s decision to take down the Confederate Flag is “a signal of good will and healing, and a meaningful step towards a better future,” President Barack Obama tweeted Jul 10.
But the debate over the symbol has a long way to go, our panel says.
Video: How To Protect Yourself Against Online Security Breaches
More than 20 million Americans were affected by a hack of federal employee files, officials revealed this week. Our panel talked about how consumers can protect their data online.
MS. DIANE REHMThanks for joining us. I'm Diane Rehm. Technical glitches temporarily shut down the New York Stock Exchange and United Airlines. The GOP reacts to Donald Trump's rhetoric on Mexican immigrants and debate over Confederate symbols reaches the U.S. Congress. Here for the domestic hour of the Friday News Roundup, Ron Elving of NPR, Christina Bellantoni of Roll Call and Jeff Mason of Reuters.
MS. DIANE REHMI hope you'll join us throughout the hours, 800-433-8850. Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow us on Facebook or send us a tweet. And welcome to all of you.
MR. JEFF MASONGood to be with you.
MR. RON ELVINGGood to be here, Diane.
MS. CHRISTINA BELLANTONIGood morning.
REHMGood to see you. Ron Elving, we are now told that some 21.5 million people may have been affected by this breach of government computer systems. Add that onto United Airlines, the New York Stock Exchange, even the Wall Street Journal. What do you end up with in your mind?
ELVINGThe sense that computers are our lives now and they are not entirely secure as we should have all been remembering all along. And let's not forget to add in the earlier information we had about another hack into federal computers and OPM having to do with federal employees' data. So that number maybe more in the realm of 26 million or so when you count everybody in.
ELVINGWe trust computers with our lives and like, let's say, automobiles and highways and bridges and many other parts of our more old fashioned infrastructure, they are mortal as we are and they are going to make mistakes. Now, that doesn't mean that we shouldn't make every effort to have the very finest protections and cyber security and everything else, and we do need to pay more attention to that in terms of the federal government, but it is going to be with us.
REHMAnd Christina, people are actually now starting to get letters telling them they need to change their password, they need to change this, that. I mean, what can the government do to protect us?
BELLANTONII think people are really starting to realize that they are vulnerable for all of the reasons Ron just outlined. Think about the New York Stock Exchange, the tweet that they put out to sort of inform people was this is not a breach. This is an internal technical issue. That's what they had first called it. And people are having to get used to that as part of their daily lives and then, you throw on top of people stealing your data, if you go shopping at Target over Thanksgiving.
BELLANTONIYou know, millions and millions of people affected over that. The OPM hack affected members of Congress. We know at least two senators who have gotten a letter saying their data might have been compromised. That's a huge deal. And Mitch McConnell has said he would like to make some sort of cyber security measure a priority. But when you build it, people can figure out a way around it. It is really the next threat for this country.
MASONI think it's important to note that the New York Stock Exchange, as well as the United Airlines and The Wall Street Journal, incidents were not apparently cyber attacks and the...
REHMI love the word you used there, apparently.
MASONWell, it's because, right, Ron and I and Christina were talking before the show, it seems, you know, we've all seen the movie. We've all seen these things happen so often that it's hard not to think that there's some kind of coordinated action there. But the FBI, the White House have come out and said there were no malicious actors behind these moves so it's important to, at least, report that.
MASONAnd also, to separate that from what happened at OPM, which seems, in many ways, to be much more egregious because so many millions of people's data were affected. And this data includes Social Security numbers, health history, education history, employment history on both government employees as well as, you know, millions more.
MASONI mean, 22 million people, roughly, have been affected and that's 7 percent of the population.
REHMSo what more can the government do to protect its own files and then to protect the rest of us?
BELLANTONIWell, I will say, lawmakers are saying what they've done so far is not enough. They're calling for the OPM leaders, you know, essentially to resign. Katherine Archuleta, she's saying she's not going anywhere. Senator Susan Collins, you know, pointed out she got this form. When she got it, this is --basically they're saying, here's some credit monitoring we'll offer you. Oh, thanks for that. Great. And she's saying the credit monitoring form itself requires you to put your Social Security number, your date of birth...
BELLANTONI...your home address. She says, so it's like, boy, I hope they bothered to encrypt this one. I debated whether to fill it out. And when you have senior lawmakers saying things like that, this is a very dangerous place for the OPM to be in. I mean, in this town, especially, there are millions of people who have applied for jobs through government agencies and their data is all at risk.
REHMIt's true, is it not, Ron, that it affects people who've applied in the last 15 years?
ELVINGThat's right. That's the timeframe we've been given so far. And it also affects anyone that might have been listed on any of those applications as someone that might be contacted for them so that would include friends and family and a lot of information about all of those folks that greatly expands the universe of people who are affected.
ELVINGAmong others who have said that they were among these people who were being checked out and their data's been compromised is the FBI director, Jim Comey. So we can all feel as though we've been included in a very large class.
REHMAll right. So if people like Susan Collins are included, what should people do?
MASONWell, first of all, you should probably take really good care of your data. You should change your passwords regularly. Take, you know, health monitoring of your own personal information, which is just really important in today's world, as Ron was mentioning, how important computers have become. On the broader debate, in terms of policy, I think that you'll hear more now from Congress, from the White House and others about stricter cyber legislation and cyber moves.
MASONEncryption will come into the debate and there's a lot of debate about the use of encryption with hacking and companies that are for and against it because of not necessarily wanting to share some of that data with others.
MASONSo there's a lot of controversy about how to deal with it, but no doubt a high-profile attack and the number of people affected by this will lead to calls for a lot more to be done.
BELLANTONIAnd it becomes a business opportunity, too. I mean, there are millions of companies trying to figure out ways to help you with this. You know, your own company you work for might remind you to change your password once a month and not allow you to log in unless you don't. There are companies that are -- just think of the shredder industry becoming technological, that there are apps, there are ways that you can -- whether that's encrypt or make sure that you are not being compromised elsewhere creating different identities for log-ins.
BELLANTONIThere are a lot of ways people can make money off of this potential problems.
REHMAll right. And we should not that the Confederate flag has now come down. President Obama has tweeted South Carolina taking down the Confederate flag, a signal of goodwill and healing. How much healing, Christina?
BELLANTONIThis has been such a rapid development. I mean, this has been a massive change over just a very short period of time. I will say that it has still embroiled people showing that this country is divided. You know, you saw that on the floor of the U.S. House yesterday. It is very interesting President Obama made this an issue and then was joined by Republican Governor Nikki Haley, now in the spotlight over this.
BELLANTONIBut I also, as we walked into your studio, there's a line of TVs there. Everybody was live broadcasting this moment. There are still people who feel that his is an attack on heritage and a dismantling of history. That is a debate this country is going to continue having.
REHMAnd what Nikki Haley has said is to remove it to the museum, stays it, keeps it in the heritage place where it belongs.
ELVINGThat's right. And apparently in a room that's reserved for Confederate relics. That's the word, relics, which is particularly an ancient word. That is symbolic. It feels, in some respects, as though after 150 years, we are ending the Civil War, at least officially. But you asked the question about healing and Nikki Haley, I thought, gave a beautiful speech yesterday in talking, not first about anything having to do with the flag directly, but going back to the events at Emmanuel and the loss of those parishioners and the extraordinary show of compassion and forgiveness that their families showed toward the shooter.
ELVINGAnd that was the kind of healing that she was lifting up.
REHMAnd she signed it with nine pens, each one of which is to go to the families.
MASONTo family members of those killed. Yeah, I thought that was a very emotional moment. But, you know, you talk about what happens next in terms of healing. The Ku Klux Klan is planning a rally in Columbia after this having happened. On the other hand, the NAACP is looking at lifting its embargo on the state, which shows, you know, on both sides of this issue that there is movement, but the divisiveness continues.
REHMBut now, it's coming to the Congress.
ELVINGThis was remarkable. Christina made mention of this, that Congress as passing a bill that is a normal appropriations bill for the interior department, some other departments and included some language having to do with the national parks service and some cemeteries on federal land that include Confederate graves in ten states. And they have allowed over the years, the sale of little Confederate flags to be placed on those graves.
ELVINGThey, then, removed them rather quickly after that day, but in those states that honor the Confederate Memorial Day, they allowed these flags to be sold, Confederate battle flags. Well, they wanted to cut that out. They wanted to stop that and not sell those flags anymore and that was in the bill. And some southern Republican members objected to that and said, no, we think that that practice should be allowed to continue. And they had gotten an amendment into the bill at the last moment, which just...
REHMAnd they pulled the bill.
ELVING...just announced on Wednesday night. And when the fracas began, when people became aware of this, the fracas really got a little bit out of hand at certain points during the day. There was a lot of shouting. There was a lot of vituperation on the floor, even more than usual, and they had to pull the entire bill.
REHMRon Elving of NPR. We'll take a short break here. Remember you can watch this program video-streaming. Go to drshow.org.
REHMAnd welcome back to the domestic hour of our Friday News Roundup. This week, with Christina Bellantoni. I love that name.
REHMShe's editor-in-chief of Roll Call. Ron Elving, senior Washington editor at NPR. And Jeff Mason is White House correspondent with Reuters. You want to say something further about the White House reaction to the flag issue.
MASONI thought it was interesting yesterday, at the very beginning of the White House briefing, spokesman Josh Earnest came out -- and sometimes he'll come out and not have anything to say before we start asking questions -- but yesterday he did. And he absolutely pounced on the White House's behalf on this debate in Congress about the Confederate flag and said, "If anyone wants to know whether the Republican's Party is in touch with or in line with American's thinking -- and when we talk about their not being -- this is an example of that." And it was straight down the line, saying, this is a contrast. And he wasn't the only one.
BELLANTONIAnd this will be something you will see in ads, in fundraising emails. The Democrats enjoyed sticking this to Republicans.
BELLANTONIIt did not look good on the floor. They just went one person after another. What I find interesting about this from a, like, national perspective is that there's really been a sort of reevaluation of our history over the last 25 years. And when you think -- think about California, my home state -- there's actually a movement, like Junipero Serra, who you grew up learning California history is kind of a hero. Well, you know, we're telling -- learning more about him and his methods of establishing the Mission System and the statue that's in Statuary Hall, people are talking about whether that really should belong there. And there's sort of a new discussion here and that's, you know, obviously been permeating the South.
BELLANTONIAnd when state legislatures come in, in January, I predict you will hear more about confederate imagery.
BELLANTONIYou'll hear more about different types of, you know, battles in the West -- the Alamo, all of those things are sort of going to get another look.
ELVINGYou know, Nancy Pelosi has already proposed that they not fly any flags in the Capitol that have any of the Confederate battle flag in them. And some of the southern state flags do have that flag embedded in the upper left-hand corner of their state flag. And certainly this is -- this is a sticking point. This is something where, given the upper hand now for the moment, the Democrats and particularly African Americans, who have always felt angered and oppressed by this particular symbol, suddenly have the opportunity to make the rest of the country understand how they feel about this.
ELVINGAnd they're pressing that advantage. And that is making a lot of the people who regard it quite differently as heritage or as Confederate honor and pride to feel like victims.
REHMYou know, it's not just the Capitol, it's not just the Congress, it's the Washington National Cathedral, which has a Confederate flag stained-glass window. And the dean of the cathedral would like to see that stained-glass figure removed. So lots of places where this discussion is going to continue. But, you know, I cannot help but make the comparison you were talking about, how we revisit symbols, how we revisit dignitaries -- people who have gained such prominence in our country. And look at what's happened to Bill Cosby this week. Can we talk about that a little bit, Jeff?
MASONIt's phenomenal. And I think -- so to review what's happened, he -- the court document from 2005 was released, in which he admitted obtaining drugs with the intention of giving them to young women with whom he wanted to have sex. And for many of his more than two dozen accusers, that was vindication. His PR people and his attorneys had really, really gotten aggressive in fighting back against those allegations. And now they've turned very quiet. And that is -- that's just been one more step in what has been sort of a long fall for Cosby since these allegations came out.
REHMAnd there is even talk of rescinding his Presidential Medal.
ELVINGYes. And many other honors that he's received over the years are going to get reexamined. This is -- this is an icon that has been absolutely smashed. And it is sad. I think it is, of course, a moment of vindication for the women who, themselves, suffered quite a bit for the accusations that they had made. It is a moment of vindication for them. But perhaps not even for them is it really a triumph. It feels bad. I think most of the country feels bad about it because as, you know, Huxtable -- the family Huxtable, as their patriarch, as we all know, he was a kind of national father figure and regarded as -- universally as a positive role model for American men and for African-American men in particular.
REHMAnd spoke out against the way blacks were behaving. Christina.
BELLANTONIThat is a huge thing that has really toppled. I would point out for -- just think about people that have been victims of any sort of abuse or violence, who were afraid to come forward or thought that they'd be tarnished in the way that these women who have accused him have, you know, withstood. I mean, they've been saying this for many years and were ignored for a long time or not at least treated as substantially as they're being treated now. Does this open up an entire new -- whether somebody's famous or not famous, right -- does it empower any victim of abuse to come forward? We've also seen trends of that.
BELLANTONII mean, think about all of the different scandals within churches. Or people have seen that even many years after the fact you can say something and you can make something actually happen to get some sort of closure for yourself.
REHMNow, we don't have any lawyers here on the panel, but there is a statute of limitation apparently that's run out. But, I mean, you bring down the reputation of an individual, what more can you really do?
MASONWell, and he's not facing any criminal charges. But he is facing some defamation lawsuits. And that's probably one reason why his people are being fairly quiet right now. Because now that this particular court case and record has been released, that is -- that's adding some fuel to those particular cases. I think it's interesting as well -- you asked about the Presidential Medal being taken away -- that was a debate again this week, twice at the White House briefing, about whether you can do that. And Josh Earnest says there's no precedence for it.
MASONBut it just -- it shows the extent to which public institutions like the White House, like the Hollywood Walk of Fame, are facing questions of how do you deal with a fallen star?
REHMNow, years ago, this kind of story would only have been on one of the pulp magazines. But this has been on the front page of every newspaper. It cannot be disregarded.
ELVINGNo. And this is the way we now live our lives. We live in a media world. And everyone -- not just the famous, not just people whose names are household names -- but literally any American citizen can suddenly become a media sensation, positive or negative, often beginning as one and becoming the other. And that is a fate that very few of us had anticipated. And yet that is part of our media-driven world that we live in now.
REHMSad story for all involved. Pardon me. Christina, Hillary Clinton granted her first national interview of her 2016 campaign to CNN this week. She talked about guns and that was something new for her.
BELLANTONIYeah. That might have been one of the most new things in the interview. I thought part of this is there's been a lot of scrutiny of when does she start talking? We all know she's going to. I'm sure she will sit down with NPR. Hopefully she will sit down, you know, with all of us here at the table at some point as well. And she's under so much scrutiny. And when you throw in this sort of spectacle of the weekend, of her trying to walk a Fourth of July parade and balancing that with, you know, detailed policy rollouts, the question I want to ask of her -- guns, I think, is important but we can recognize that there's a political reality that she would face were she elected president and that that's going to be difficult.
BELLANTONIThe issue's probably not going to be her campaign platform. But, okay, you've just had the Supreme Court validate the Affordable Care Act, which everyone has said does need some fixes. So what is Hillary Clinton's next step? This is clearly an issue that's very important to her. This is something that she had made the fundamental tenants of her being first lady. So what is next? How does she do that? That's a real policy debate that this country should have.
REHMI thought it was fascinating yesterday, with former President Jimmy Carter on the program saying that Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders have come to kind of the same positions taken by Elizabeth Warren, who's very outspoken on the economic disparity that currently exists. And that she is moving more to the left on these issues.
MASONTotally. She's totally moving to the left on these issues. And that is certainly an effect of Elizabeth Warren. Also of Sanders' remarkable success in states like Iowa and New Hampshire.
MASONThe middle class has been an important issue for Democrats and Republicans for that matter for the last couple of election cycles. But it's certainly something that the president used to win in 2012 and that Hillary Clinton is focusing on now. But you're right. I mean, she's moving to the left and it gives her some freedom to talk about guns in addition to the more economic issues. And that, I think, is an interesting shift in political reality. It may be true that she wouldn't have any more success in getting gun legislation passed in Congress than President Obama did. But just the fact that she can talk about it is something that Democrats in many previous election cycles just would have stayed away from.
REHMAnd she is a woman.
ELVINGAnd she is a woman. This issue of guns, too, is a little bit of a subtle advantage for her. There aren't very many issues where her record is to the left of Bernie Sanders. But Bernie Sanders, being from Vermont, a rural state largely, where guns are very much part of the lifestyle...
ELVING...for hunting, exactly -- you know, Bernie has not had -- let's put it this way, the NRA has other people they have bigger problems with, historically, than Bernie. I think his positions on guns are quite reasonable. So, and I'm not trying to make him out to be some sort of a gun nut. But if you were trying to find one place where Hillary Clinton could say, "My record is a little bit better than Bernie Sanders'", from this perspective of liberal activists of the Party, that might be one.
BELLANTONIAt this gray point.
REHMYeah. What about her roping off reporters in New Hampshire?
BELLANTONISo, okay. I'm going to get some hate mail on this one. It looked bad. It sort of reinforced this image of her trying to be closed off to the media. But at the...
REHMWhy did she do that?
BELLANTONII'm sure she didn't do it, right? But I will say, my -- what I thought of the second I saw that was covering Barack Obama at the Iowa State Fair in 2007. And there was (sic) 300 reporters with cameras and running around and frantic. And they were right, that voters cannot get to the person.
BELLANTONIAnd they were angry. And it does affect how that candidate is viewed. And so from the perspective of her handlers, they were thinking, oh, this is a bad scene. But I mean, there are so many other ways. And it's not like they have a problem restricting access. They could easily have said, "Stand here. This is the only spot you're going to see her. This is your little pen." I mean, every single one of us has dealt with that kind of press handler. And that would have been a much better optic than what you saw, which just makes her look terrible.
MASONAnd it's the optics that were...
MASON...the biggest problem. I mean, we all get roped off a lot. But it was that sort of lasso roping off and pulling them along that just looked really, really rough.
REHMOh, my. Jeff Mason and Christina Bellantoni and Ron Elving, they're all here to answer your questions after a short break. Stay with us. And we're back. We've got lots of callers waiting. I'm going to open the phones and let's go, first, to Jacksonville, Fla. Jennifer, you're on the air.
JENNIFERYes. Thank you for taking my call.
JENNIFERYeah, supporters of the Confederate flag say it's their ancestors that they're honoring, who died during the Civil War. No one's mentioned all the Union soldiers, white and black, who fought and died against slavery. As for those Confederates who died on the battlefield, it was usually a quick death by bullet. But for many years, African Americans not only had to tolerate horrific slave conditions, they had to endure hangings, KKK terrorism and fighting for their vote in the Jim Crow South, all the while, having that Confederate flag flaunted in their faces. It's divided our country and it's time for all Confederate symbols to be removed from public land.
REHMThanks for your call, Jennifer.
BELLANTONII mean, as Jennifer points out, like this is an issue that really makes people very upset in a lot of places. I will say that the sort of tourism around the Civil War is still thriving. You know, there are places all throughout the South and Pennsylvania -- you know, you can go in and see battlefields and pay tribute to people who fell from both sides of that war. I, personally, you know, I'm about to leave Washington. I -- the Lincoln Memorial is my favorite place in D.C. And I can't stop going. And I keep thinking, is this the last time I'm here. And that is such a representative of what this nation went through, torn apart. And I think that there are strong monuments to that and to recognize that it happened and, you know, to prevent it happening again. There's Lincoln looking right out at Congress...
BELLANTONI...saying, "I'm watching you.
REHMAnd I think we should point out here, Christina is not leaving because she no longer wants to be among the political reporters. She's going home to California next week to become assistant managing editor for politics at the Los Angeles Times. She'll start there on August 10.
BELLANTONIThank you. Very nice. Thank you.
REHMWe're going to miss you.
BELLANTONII will miss D.C. a lot.
REHMAll right. And here's an email saying, "Is there any action from Congress to move away from the Social Security number as a unique identifier? Something like public-private keys?"
ELVINGThere has been discussion. There is nothing that's really moving in the sense of legislation that might pass next week or anything of that nature. But in the end, I think, what we're going to have to have is some kind of biometric. Some kind of way by which you can identify yourself personally through some sort of a device, your handheld or something of that nature. But it's -- it is a relic, to use that word again, of the past that we would think that this one eight-digit number was going to have some kind of permanent -- or how many ever -- nine-digit number, that -- how many -- how many, what?
ELVINGYeah, I'm doing a little mental count here. That this one number would be magical and secret forever. I mean, it's been compromised many times. Everybody knows that it has been. I mean, this business about "give us the last four digits of your Social Security number" is not very reassuring. It is certainly imperfect and it is from another century, quite literally. So we need something for the 21st century.
REHMOne more thing about Hillary Clinton before we take our break. Jennifer Palmieri, her communications director, said the campaign is worried about the impact of Bernie Sanders. Should they be?
MASONWell, I think they should certainly act like they're taking every rival seriously. And that's, I think, the reason for Jen's remarks there.
MASONYes. I mean the last thing you want to do as a communications director or as a campaign more probably is totally dismiss someone who's generating big crowds.
REHMAnd he certainly is.
MASONAnd he is. And he is. On the other hand, Hillary Clinton's in a very, very strong position.
REHMAll right. Short break now. And we'll be right back.
REHMAnd welcome back. I know, Christina, you wanted to add something about Bernie Sanders.
BELLANTONISo, Stu Rothenberg wrote a column this week for Roll Call looking at the NBC News Wall Street Journal poll that evaluated Democratic primary voters, or likely Democratic primary voters. And the number, there were only eight percent of primary voters who said they wouldn't support Hillary Clinton. Where 32 percent said they couldn't see themselves supporting Sanders. And Stu's point in this column, when I read it, I really started to feel these numbers, you're getting these crowds, there's a bit of a firewall situation.
BELLANTONIWhere voters who aren't necessarily thrilled with the direction, they want to be more liberal in general, they would like to see the country be more liberal, they'd like to see Barack Obama be more liberal. Are being able to say they support Bernie Sanders, but that doesn't make her unelectable in their minds, and in a primary, you know, do they pull the trigger for her? There's a lot that she can do to say and show respect for Sanders, like we are worried about him. We're respecting his candidacy that can ultimately help her in the primary.
ELVINGHe's helping her, in a lot of ways. That's not his intention, but he is helping her in a lot of ways. The contrast that he draws with her, ultimately, in terms of personal dynamics, is not what she fears. She is not particularly worried about a considerably older, white male who is really not going to, in the end, have the kinds of resources that she has. But he also helps her because he forecloses the possibility of somebody else getting into the race.
ELVINGThat would be, in some sense, a greater threat to her. He's in it for himself and he's in it as a resurgent and he speaks to a big part of the Democratic party.
REHMHe sure does and says really important things.
ELVINGAnd Democrats expect some competition before they give their heart.
REHMAbsolutely. Now, what have we got on the Republican side? We've got Donald Trump and I know we've got one email up here saying, please don't talk very much about Donald Trump, because he's such a side issue. But, how is he polling, Jeff?
MASONHe's polling well. He's polling well in Iowa. He's polling well in New Hampshire. That doesn't mean he has a super solid pathway to the Republican Presidential nomination, but he is polling well and people are listening to him.
REHMBut you've got all these protests taking place downtown here in Washington, about his conversion of the post office.
MASONAnd also a sign of how seriously the Republican Party is taking him. You had the RNC Chairman this week on the phone with Trump, apparently for an hour, asking him to tone down his rhetoric on immigration. Trump has called illegal immigrants rapists and murderers and it is not only getting a lot of attention to him, but it's drawing a lot of negative attention to the Republican Party.
REHMAnd yet, Trump said it was really a very pleasant call, one of congratulations.
MASONYes, you can probably imagine which of those accounts is more likely to be the case, but, you know, Reince Priebus is in a tough spot here. If he really calls out Donald Trump for what Donald Trump is acting as, if the other candidates do it and Jeb Bush has come pretty close to doing so. But most of the rest of them are really trying to stay away from this, because they don't want to get into what has been called a mud fight with a great mud fighter. And if they do, in some sense or another, really suppress his candidacy.
MASONSay, deny him his space in the debate that his poll numbers would otherwise mandate, he could go out on his own and be the Ross Perot of 2016. Now, Ross Perot is getting to be in the past a long way, 1992 candidate, he got 19 percent of the vote, and many people believe he ultimately cost H.W. Bush his second term in the White House. That's what the Republicans fear more than anything else.
BELLANTONIIt is a fine line that they're walking, but the debate is about a month away, the first debate, and my prediction is that he will be on that debate stage.
REHMThe first debate stage, because there are only going to be 10.
BELLANTONIRight. And they're looking at poll thresholds, and so far, he's meeting those.
REHMAnd they've already got 19 candidates?
MASON17 on the Republican side.
BELLANTONIAnd more to come. And Donald Trump, if he's standing on that debate stage, it does give the other nine people on that stage an opportunity to say his language doesn't speak for us. That's not where the Republican Party is, which is good for them. But we have to remember that voters often tend to reward outsiders, people that have a new message they haven't necessarily heard before. And he's probably not going to be inflammatory. He's probably going to say like what he told Howie Chris this weekend, you know, I'm running against Senators and Governors with no real achievements.
BELLANTONILook at me. I'm a businessperson. I've done all these things, I have all these achievements. And he knows the television business very well, too. He knows how to command an audience in that way. I don't think he's going to be the next President of the United States, but I think that people are going to continue to say they're going to vote for him in polls.
MASONAnd I think many Democrats see him as a gift. And I think you saw Hillary Clinton viewing it that way, even this week in her CNN interview that we talked about earlier, where she said she was disappointed in Trump's remarks. And also was very critical of the other Republican candidates for not very quickly criticizing him for them. And that was an opening that she took, and it's an opening that she and other Democrats will continue to take as long as he's a presence in the race.
REHMAll right, time to open the phones. First to Lillington, North Carolina. Darrell, you're on the air.
DARRELLHey, how are ya'll today?
DARRELLHey, I was just wondering, I was born and raised in the South, the Confederate flag, whatever they do with that is no big deal to me. I'm still proud. You can't take that away from me. But, I'm a Christian too. So, I'm just wondering what's the politically correct world gonna go after too, because the cross is also used as a negative thing by some crazy people. Are they going to go after our Christian symbol next, too? How far is the politically correct world going to go?
MASONI don't think there's any discussion about anything beyond the Confederate flag, in terms of symbols right now. And this one is very much focused on that flag, on its presence in South Carolina after the murders in that church. Also, an interesting fact that I learned while reading about this, that flag was put up again in the capital in the 1960s, at the height of segregation. It's not like it had been flying continuously since the Civil War. So, yes, there's a debate about what it symbolizes, but I think the debate, certainly in South Carolina, and in Washington, as well, is coming down on the side of it has no place being there anymore.
REHMAll right. To Kathleen in San Antonio, Texas. You're on the air.
KATHLEENYes, thank you very much Diane.
KATHLEENFor taking my call. I love your show because I believe that you really do try to be fair to both sides.
KATHLEENAnd however, I just heard a few minutes ago that Republicans are going to have a real problem with Nikki Haley taking down that flag. And I was waiting for somebody on your panel, I assume you have both Republicans and Democrats there, to say something back. But I heard nothing. So, I feel like it's time for me to say something. Why didn't you even mention that Republicans are the ones who freed the slaves? Abraham Lincoln was a Republican. Republican is the one who just took down that flag. Nikki Haley is a Republican.
KATHLEENWe Republicans are not racist. We love all people. We want people, even the immigrants coming in, we want them to come in legally. Immigrants are the strength of our country. People who just want to work hard and get, and go to school and get scholarships so (unintelligible) so are absolutely the type of people that we want in our country.
REHMKathleen, I wish that what you said represented every single Republican and every single Democrat. However, there are individual reactions, individual feelings. And yes, I agree with you, Nikki Haley is a Republican. She did, however, refer it to her House Legislature before she agreed to take it down. Christina.
BELLANTONISure she did, and I think Kathleen gets at, you know, a tension that still exists in this country. And something that Democrats have attempted to exploit. In many cases, they have attempted to use isolated incidents or people that do have racist tendencies to paint their opponents with a broad brush. And I think fortunately, the majority of the country is not like that. And it would be nice if we had a political debate that sort of got past the name calling and the Republicans have acknowledged this.
BELLANTONIAfter their loss in 2012, they said, we need to do more outreach to the types of voters Democrats tend to win, who tend to be non-white voters. And that they're trying to have a more inclusive party, just in general. Whether that's policies or the types of people they welcome. Their recruitment efforts everywhere, from city council races to people running for President. This is an effort they're trying to make, because they don't like that portrayal.
ELVINGJust to amplify the caller's point a little bit, not only did Nikki Haley, a Republican, come out immediately and say that she thought it was time for that flag to come down, but the two Republican Senators from South Carolina both quite influential, Lindsay Graham, the Senior Senator and Tim Scott, the other Senator from South Carolina, both very much Republicans, quite conservative Republicans. Lindsay Graham is running for the Republican nomination for President. Both came out and said the same thing.
ELVINGThat the flag ought to come down. And I should also mention Tim Scott, Republican Senator from South Carolina, is also African American.
REHMHow did that vote go?
ELVINGWhich vote do you mean? Do you mean the vote in the State Legislature?
ELVINGIt was overwhelming in the Senate. It was crushing in the Senate. It was almost unanimous. And that, I think, also surprised a number of people.
BELLANTONIThe debate was played out on CSPAN and some of the rhetoric used was not very flattering to some of the party members who were opposed to the decision.
MASONAnd it was a long debate. I mean, it was like a 15 hour feud, really, that happened there before, as Ron says, the overwhelming majority came down in favor of getting rid of the flag.
REHMAll right, here's an email from Richard in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Totally changing the subject. He says, coincidences happen, but three glitches, temporarily disabling New York Stock Exchange, Dow Jones Publications and United Airlines seems a bit of a stretch. Jeff.
MASONIt does. It does. And what can you say other than it's being investigated. And all three organizations have said that they were, essentially, technical glitches. And the FBI and the White House and the federal government, at large, has said there was no nefarious actor. But you're -- the writer is absolutely right. When all three of those things happen, at the same time, on the same day, at, you know, the nation's biggest airline, the nation's biggest stock exchange, and a very prominent newspaper, it's hard not to ask the question.
BELLANTONIIt's interesting, though. We get reports of, you know, people trying to hack into our site all the time. And there are thousands and thousands, from all over the world of just little attempts, small attempts from what I -- so, you have to imagine that large organizations, particularly ones dealing with our financial information and network in the United States, are probably getting hit constantly at all points. And so, these are the ones that got in.
ELVINGThere needs to be evidence before we have that ah-ha moment. But I think a lot of people would say, ah-ha if we suddenly learned that there was some coordination going on.
REHMAll right, and to Steve in Cincinnati, Ohio. You're on the air.
STEVEThank you for taking my call.
STEVEThere's so much to comment on, I don't know where to start. However, what I do have experience in is technology. And what we're missing is the elephant in the room, and that is that the doors are locked. All these big companies. The firewalls are there, the websites may go down, but that's not where they're getting in. Where the people are getting in, and at Sony, this is where it happened, is somebody's personal email was received, opened, and that email co-opted that computer inside the network.
STEVEAnd now you're inside the network, and once you're inside, you get the keys to the castle, people will say passwords at Sony, it was a safe password sheet, but in this case, we have an operating system that runs the world, it's the Microsoft operating system, that is effectively defective. And we put up with it, and that's -- we're all looking at making us more secure by applying millions of dollars and billions of dollars against the security, when in fact, the operating system and the makers of the operating system need to step up and say, we're going to lock this thing down so it can't execute these things.
REHMAll right. And you're listening to "The Diane Rehm Show." Microsoft.
ELVINGInteresting point. Interesting point. There certainly are people who could do a great deal more than they have done to make all of these systems that much safer, and I think they're going to be required to before that much longer. Because of everything that we're looking at. You brought up the National Cathedral earlier and the tremendous symbolism that it carries with it. The New York Stock Exchange is, in some respect, the National Cathedral of American capitalism.
ELVINGIf it shuts down with, you know, electrical failure or plumbing problem, you can go to a lot of other churches and get services. You can go services someplace else. But those places are not going to be the National Cathedral and the New York Stock Exchange. You know, trading went on in all those stocks all day long on Wednesday, even though the New York Stock Exchange was down for several hours. But the symbolism of it was incredible. And people know what they're doing.
REHMAll right. Let's go to Bluntsville, Tennessee. Hi Joe, you're on the air.
JOEThank you. Regarding the hacking of the information, the response seems to always be how to better protect the data and to issue credit monitoring, so that they can catch applications for credit after the fact. I just wonder, I understand that our economy is fueled on easy credit, but why is it so easy for people with your few numbers to make a few mouse clicks and to get a credit card or other credit issued in your name? Why can't I have a maybe something like the do-not-call registry that works to try to stop advertisers from calling you at all. Can you have a do not issue credit registry to just, I do not want any credit to come from mouse clicks.
BELLANTONIAnd at the same time, when you go, let's say you buy gas in Tennessee because you're driving across the country, you get a call from your credit card saying, are you sure that gas charge is correct? Yet, I also get a call saying, oh, somebody bought a computer in your name at Best Buy for five thousand dollars. So, it is very strange. And you think of all the physical mail. I could, you know, credit card offers constantly, you gotta shred everything, it's just the volume of please get our credit is very high and it is very easy to take.
REHMBut I'm sure all of you do, as I do, if I'm going to another state, or if I'm going out of the country, I always call the credit card company to let them know.
MASONThat's a good practice.
REHMAnd, but the key here is do not open any kind of email you don't recognize.
MASONBasically, don't open the attachments.
REHMThe attachment is what's going to get you in trouble.
ELVINGNo candy from strangers.
BELLANTONIThere's a computer literacy element of this. You know, particularly, you know, senior citizens, you know, my grandmother, you know, she had email, and like, how do you know if you're getting a fishing email? You think it's a message from your granddaughter. And so, there's a bit that we have to do at educating everyone of how to use email. We all take it for granted, cause it's our trade, but there are a lot of people who don't know how to use it as well.
REHMAnd some of friends name comes up and says, I'm stuck at a hotel in London. My credit cards have been stolen. I need your help. And if your grandmother opened that and thought it was you, what would she do?
BELLANTONIExactly. Hopefully, she wouldn't put her credit card number in there. We've taught her well, but you just never know. And, you know, change your password. There's always these stories that come out that say, people's passwords, the first thing on their list is the word password. Don't do that.
REHMDon't do that. And use a combination of numbers, symbols, letters, but I'm told they can still find your password just like that.
ELVINGIt all depends on how much it matters to them and how much time they have to spend, how much money they have to spend to get at what they want to get at.
MASONAnd they are very savvy.
MASONAnd what the government needs and what others need is the same sort of savvy people looking at how to put up defenses against them.
REHMJeff Mason of Reuters, Ron Elving of NPR, Christina Bellantoni, soon to become Assistant Managing Editor for Politics at the Los Angeles Times. Good luck to you.
BELLANTONIThank you so much.
REHMThanks all for listening. I'm Diane Rehm.
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