A makeshift memorial is viewed at the gate of WDBJ's television studios August 27 in Roanoke, Virginia.  The former television reporter who shot dead two journalists during a live broadcast before killing himself warned he had been a "human powder keg... just waiting to go BOOM."

A makeshift memorial is viewed at the gate of WDBJ's television studios August 27 in Roanoke, Virginia. The former television reporter who shot dead two journalists during a live broadcast before killing himself warned he had been a "human powder keg... just waiting to go BOOM."

A shooting tragedy that unfolded on live television reignites the gun control debate once again. President Barack Obama holds up New Orleans’ comeback from Hurricane Katrina as an example for the rest of the country. Strong economic news helps stabilize the U.S. stock market. Vice President Joe Biden says he’s undecided on whether to make a third bid for the White House. Republican presidential candidates Donald Trump and Jeb Bush clash over immigration policy. And rhetoric over women’s health issues heats up on the presidential campaign trail. A panel of journalists joins Diane for analysis of the week’s top national news stories.


  • Karen Tumulty National political reporter, The Washington Post
  • Byron York Chief political correspondent, The Washington Examiner
  • Gerald Seib Washington bureau chief, The Wall Street Journal

Video: Why Does America Have So Much Gun Violence?

“There’s a reality that I think everybody has to deal with and it’s an American reality,” Wall Street Journal’s Jerry Seib says.

Video: Will The Shooting Of Two Reporters Force Change In Gun Laws?

The father of one of the victims in this week’s shooting in Virginia is calling on President Barack Obama and 2016 candidates to do something about gun control. Will anything change? Our panel weighs in.

Full Video


  • 10:06:53

    MS. DIANE REHMThanks for joining us. I'm Diane Rehm. The shooting of two journalists renews calls for stricter gun control. President Obama visits New Orleans to mark the tenth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina and the U.S. stock market takes investors on a wild ride. Joining me for the domestic hour of the Friday News Roundup, Jerry Seib of The Wall Street Journal, Karen Tumulty of The Washington Post and Byron York of The Washington Examiner.

  • 10:07:29

    MS. DIANE REHMI hope you'll join us. You can also watch live-streaming of this hour of the Friday News Roundup. You can go to drshow.org and watch live. You can call us, 800-433-8850. Send an email to drshow@wamu.org. Follow us on Facebook or Twitter. And good morning to all of you.

  • 10:08:00

    MR. JERRY SEIBGood morning.

  • 10:08:01

    MS. KAREN TUMULTYGreat to be here.

  • 10:08:02

    REHMGood to see you.

  • 10:08:04

    MR. BYRON YORKThank you.

  • 10:08:04

    REHMSo Karen, another public shooting made headlines. Adam Ward, Alison Parker, two people who worked at the television station in Roanoke WDBJ. Anything new going to happen as a result?

  • 10:08:31

    TUMULTYI am really skeptical. I mean, what -- this is becoming sort of, you know, we see this over and over and over again. What was different about this was that people saw this beautiful couple of young people on the cusp of their lives and their careers shot down right in front of their eyes on live television. But the fact is that the shooter, or the alleged shooter, who was apparently a disgruntled employee at the television station bought this gun legally from a federally licensed dealer.

  • 10:09:11

    TUMULTYHe went through a background check. There was nothing in his background that suggested any kind of encounter with the criminal justice system or any mental health problems that would have disqualified him as a purchaser of a gun. He did have some employment issues and he, you know, had been fired from a number of jobs, including from that very television station where he had, you know, had, at one point, had to be escorted out of the building.

  • 10:09:41

    TUMULTYBut that is just not the type of thing that shows up on a federal background check and it is really difficult to see how, you know, you could devise a system where somebody's entire employment record, especially given the confidentiality of a lot of this, would have shown up on a federal background check.

  • 10:10:01

    REHMJerry, Karen called him the alleged shooter. In fact, we saw his image holding the gun. Would you use the word "alleged"?

  • 10:10:14

    SEIBThat's an interesting question. I guess not in this case, but it's -- because this is almost the equivalent of a snuff video, you know. He videotaped the event himself. He posted videos. He posted reasons for the killing and then he faxed an actual long explanation why he was doing this to a television network. And so it was -- the part of the spectacle here wasn't just another killing.

  • 10:10:38

    SEIBIt the way this one was done and it was almost the social media campaign that was waged around the killing by the killer, which is remarkable. And I think people don't know what to make -- I don't know what to make of that, but it basically says people who -- in a lot of cases, people who do these things want to make a splash. It's easier than ever to make a splash by doing something crazy.

  • 10:10:59

    REHMAnd Byron, would you agree with Karen that literally nothing will change as a result?

  • 10:11:08

    YORKLiterally nothing. You have to remember that nothing happened after a very disturbed young man went into a school and killed 20 young children and nothing happened. And I think, in part, in cases like this, there is a disconnect between some of the proposals, these preexisting gun control proposals that have been around for a long time that proponents do bring up in the wake of these things.

  • 10:11:33

    YORKThere's a disconnect between what the proposals would do and the facts of the particular crime. So indeed, the killer in this case had bought the gun legally. It's hard to see what kind of questioning or test for a gun that he would've failed. In the Charleston shooting, for example, I believe the killer had a drug arrest that you could look at and say, well, he should not have gotten a gun -- or a drug conviction. He should not have gotten a gun.

  • 10:12:00

    YORKBut in this case, it's hard to see a policy option with legal handguns in the United States, protected by the Second Amendment, hard to see a policy option that would work.

  • 10:12:11

    SEIBThat's all true. I agree with that. I do think one thing will happen, though, and it started to happen this week already, which is that it gave Hillary Clinton a reason rearticulate something that she shows every sign of wanting to make a very big part of her presidential campaign, which is, in fact, pushing ahead an argument about greater gun control laws.

  • 10:12:31

    SEIBNow, that wouldn't really have done anything in this case. I think that's a -- you can make that argument very easily. But it makes people concerned about the issue and that provides an opening for her. And she's shown every sign, for several months now, of wanting to make this not a peripheral part of her presidential campaign, but a central part of it.

  • 10:12:49

    TUMULTYAnd the governor of Virginia, Terry McAuliffe, a close ally of Hillary Clinton's, had, in fact, campaigned for governor on gun control issues and, specifically, on particular part of the Virginia law is the so-called gunshow loophole, which is that if you go to a gunshow and buy from a private seller, not a federally licensed dealer, you don't have to go through a background check in Virginia.

  • 10:13:13

    TUMULTYThis, again, would not have applied in this particular case, but Terry McAuliffe has been up front and under some criticism for sort of trying to revive that proposal.

  • 10:13:24

    YORKWell, the gunshow loophole's been around for a long time. Arguments about it have been around for a long time. Perhaps you could see something change, but here again, there's that disconnect between the policy prescription and what actually happened. What made this so horrible is that there's something just horrifyingly 21st century about it.

  • 10:13:42


  • 10:13:42

    YORKBecause the killer actually created a point of view video of him doing this. He puts it out on Facebook after he's done this, when he's on the run. And it's so Quentin Tarrantino-ish, it just boggles the mind. But in terms of actually resulting in real policy changes, don't see that happening.

  • 10:14:01

    TUMULTYAnd one of the most twisted parts of it was that he said that he was motivated by the racially-motivated killings in Charleston. I mean, it...

  • 10:14:11

    REHMTotally twisted somehow.

  • 10:14:13


  • 10:14:14

    REHMYou know, we are the only industrialized nation in the world that has such a high rate of gun fatalities and we're going to do a program on that on Monday. It does bring into question the reasons why this continues to go on.

  • 10:14:42

    SEIBIt does and it's an argument that has opened on many different fronts. A lot of this conversation has morphed into a conversation about mental health issues, mental healthcare in the country because one of the common threads of all the disasters we all know so well has been that not only is there a gun involved, obviously, but there seem to be mental health issues involved over and over again and is the system that we have for dealing with mental health issues adequate for that?

  • 10:15:07

    SEIBThat's part of this debate. There is going to be a conversation about why do Americans have so many guns, but I think we all know the answer to that. It's a cultural question and there are, you know, hundreds of millions of guns out there. They're not going to go away. There will be a conversation about how many more new guns are required. But there's a reality that I think everybody has to deal with and it's an American reality.

  • 10:15:28

    REHMAnd Byron, you raised the 21st century technology, the fact that this all occurred through social media is really frightening in and of itself.

  • 10:15:42

    YORKWell, it is. And he did -- the killer did a couple of traditional sort of things. He actually created some sort of manifesto, which I believe he made three version of, and sent them to three news organizations who have not yet released these. They'll probably become public at some point in the future. But what it showed was that through Facebook and through Twitter, he could get his message out, which was then immediately went viral, of course.

  • 10:16:09

    YORKHe accused the woman that he shot, Alison Parker, of having made a racist comment. I believe he actually went to -- she came to work there after he had even left, but he -- these gave him a forum. Twitter and Facebook gave him a forum for getting out his grievances in a way that hasn't been done before.

  • 10:16:31

    REHMAnd Alison Parker's father is now appealing to President Obama and the candidates to do something now.

  • 10:16:43

    SEIBRight. And that argument will, as you said before, will -- now that's going to resonate. This is another reason for it to resonate.

  • 10:16:48

    TUMULTYAnd this posed a question for those of us in the media. When the killer -- when the video -- I'm resisting my journalistic-trained use of the word "alleged" here, but when the video was posted on the internet, it went crazy and a lot of news organizations, including my own, sent out a, you know, warning in the newsroom saying, no one is to post this video anywhere to be found on our news site.

  • 10:17:16

    TUMULTYYou know, you have a killer who was obviously looking for attention, obviously looking for some twisted form of glory and on the one hand, we're torn between our need to report a legitimate, enormous news event and the, you know, agenda that the killer himself had, which was for us to do that.

  • 10:17:36

    SEIBWe had the same debate, came to the same conclusion. But, you know, this is, in a way, a cousin of the same issue we grapple with in our newsrooms when it comes to ISIS beheading videos. You know, what do you do under these horrible circumstances.

  • 10:17:50

    REHMJerry Seib of The Wall Street Journal, Karen Tumulty of The Washington Post, Byron York of The Washington Examiner. They're all here to answer your questions, comments, stay with us.

  • 10:20:02

    REHMWelcome back. If you've just joined us for the domestic hour of the "Friday News Roundup," here in the studio: Jerry Seib of The Wall Street Journal, Karen Tumulty of The Washington Post, Byron York of The Washington Examiner. Jerry Seib, Wall Street and the U.S. economy breathing a little easier after yesterday's economic report.

  • 10:20:32

    SEIBYeah, it's been a strange week, you know? You had a stock market slide that began a little more than a week ago, actually, that turned into a route by Tuesday and Wednesday of this week, then was a recovery by Thursday, and who knows where it's going to end up on Friday. That is playing out against the backdrop of a lot of concern, mostly about China. The China -- the real Chinese economy, plus the Chinese stock market, although that's a little thin and artificial and shouldn't be taken too seriously.

  • 10:20:59

    SEIBBut at the same time, you've had a series of real economic indicators that have actually been pretty good. Consumer confidence is up. Retail sales were pretty good this week. Homebuilding was pretty good this week. And the sort of underlying measure of the gross domestic product turned out to be much better in the second quarter than people had realized.

  • 10:21:15

    SEIBSo when you put all these things together, what are you supposed to conclude? Well, I think you have to conclude that the U.S. economy is still moving along, although not at a breakneck speed and not strongly enough to pull the rest of the world behind it, A. And, B, concerns about China are very real and they tell us this is a very interconnected global economy. So doing a little better in the U.S. isn't enough, these days, at all. And, C, the Federal Reserve has a very interesting decision to make in a couple of weeks about whether to start raising interest rates or not, which looked very likely a month ago, now looks like a dicey proposition for September. Maybe it'll be December. But maybe they'll just go ahead and do it anyway.

  • 10:21:53

    REHMWhat do you think, Byron?

  • 10:21:55

    YORKWell, I think for the little guy, people who have a 401 (k), I think Jerry's point B is kind of terrifying. Do you now need to keep up with what's going on in China? Do you have to accept what the Chinese government says is their growth rate or is it really half that or how skeptical should you be of everything you hear coming out of China? I think it's going to require a level of sophistication that a lot of us have not shown in putting some money in a 401 (k) and just hoping it evens out and gets better in the end. I think that's kind of the lesson of this week, is that there are these forces that many investors -- informal investors just don't understand, having a huge effect on their savings.

  • 10:22:40

    REHMI think there are an awful lot of financial advisers out there who are simply saying, hang tight. You don't sell at the bottom. You just ride it through.

  • 10:22:54

    TUMULTYI remember at one point during the height of the financial crisis in 2008, when it looked like the whole world financial system was about to collapse...

  • 10:23:00


  • 10:23:01

    TUMULTY...I asked Mitt Romney, I said, so what are people to think about their 401 (k) s? And he said, think of it this way. If you're on a rollercoaster, the only way you can get hurt is to jump off.

  • 10:23:13

    REHMInteresting comment. So despite the stock market recovery, there are still a lot of people out there worried. And what can we say about the Chinese stock market and what's happening there?

  • 10:23:31

    SEIBWell, I think the first thing to say about the Chinese stock market for most people is don't pay any attention to it. It's not really -- it doesn't -- it shouldn't be pulling the rest of the world's markets behind it. It's sort of a strange, new and still relatively thin place. The real question is, what's the Chinese economy doing? There the problem is, it's a very opaque place. You know, there are official statistics. Nobody actually believes the official statistics.

  • 10:23:54

    SEIBThe -- you know, is the economic growth really 7 percent? It somehow magically seems to stay around 7 percent every quarter, even though it doesn't look as if that's real. Is the unemployment in China really 5 percent or so? That's what they say but somehow that never changes from one quarter to the other. People just don't really know. It appears, consumers in China are still buying things like Apple phones. That's a good thing, because one of the goals of the world economic masters has been to get the Chinese to start buying more of other people's goods. That still seems to be happening.

  • 10:24:24

    SEIBBut this great manufacturing infrastructure boom that China has been undertaking for the last decade, which fuel lots companies and commodities markets, that seems to be slowing down. Net-net, I think the reality here is the U.S. and the Chinese economies are, in fact, intertwined in a way that the U.S. and the Soviet economies, in those superpower days, were never really intertwined.

  • 10:24:46

    REHMSo the question Jerry raised, what is the Fed likely to do? Is it likely to move ahead with plans in this atmosphere to raise interest rates in September, wait till October, November, December?

  • 10:25:05

    YORKWell, it seemed like a done deal before. And then, now, it doesn't seem like a done deal. We've had one top official say that it's less than assured -- completely less than assured that it's actually going to happen in September. So it seems to me that the Fed's position has be cautioned all along. And given these new signs of instability, why not wait a little longer?

  • 10:25:31

    REHMWhat do you think, Karen?

  • 10:25:33

    TUMULTYWell, again, it was, you know, the president of the New York Fed saying that there is a quote, unquote, "less compelling case" than there was to raise interest rates. How long that remains the less compelling case, I mean, who knows?

  • 10:25:45

    REHMGot a guess?

  • 10:25:47

    SEIBNo. But, you know, there is a -- there's a counterargument within the Fed, which is, look, let's stop this psychodrama. We're going to start raising rates sooner or later. We'll always find a reason. Let's just get on with it. We're not talking about rate increases that will tank the economy. Maybe we should just, you know, tell people we're going to do what we signaled we were going to do and raise rates a little bit in September. There is that argument. I mean, if you forced me to guess, I would guess that, considering that Janet Yellen has always been a bit of a Dove. She's not been wild about raising rates. She wants to stimulate the economy. That's a good argument to wait until December and not do it in September.

  • 10:26:20

    REHMAll right. We'll leave it at that. President Obama was in New Orleans this week marking the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. He praised the city of New Orleans, saying that it was a model for what the U.S. could be doing, should be doing. What did you think of his comments and former President George W. Bush, who's going to be there at a school today?

  • 10:26:53

    YORKWell, a couple of things. The 10th anniversary has been this occasion to look and see where New Orleans has come since 2005. And if you look at -- they've got about 90 percent of the population that they had before. They have about, I think, 91 percent of the number of jobs that they had before. Although food service jobs are an even bigger part of the New Orleans economy than they had been before, meaning lower wages. Obviously there's a lot of the city that has not been rebuilt. I was in the Lower 9th last year and they had this section of what are called Brad Pitt houses. The actor has caused about, more than 100 homes to be built. But there's still a huge amount of empty space there. So there's a lot of progress.

  • 10:27:43

    YORKOne thing that was interesting on the Bush front is that there was a little bit of a rehabilitation of George W. Bush in this visit, not from President Obama, but Donna Brazil, the Democratic operative, and Walter Isaacson, who both served together on the Louisiana Recovery Commission. Both actually said quite good things about Bush's work -- remember there was three years of Katrina recovery during the Bush administration -- said that the president had done a lot of good work to bring New Orleans back.

  • 10:28:13

    REHMI thought it was interesting that Governor Bobby Jindal said that President Obama should not make a political issue about climate change during his speech.

  • 10:28:29

    SEIBWell, and he didn't actually make that big an issue of it. He mentioned it but he didn't dwell on it, which is I think what some people expected. I think the White -- I don't know this, but I suspect the White House decided that the people in New Orleans don't want to be the backdrop for a policy debate about climate change. They just want to breathe a sigh of relief that they've made it through the last decade. And so I think that was the character and the nature of the president's remarks. But that doesn't mean that debate isn't going to happen. It's just -- it wasn't going to happen this week while President Obama was in New Orleans for different reasons.

  • 10:28:58

    REHMWhat Bobby Jindal said was that it is a time to mourn the loss of loved ones, not to espouse the divisive political agenda of liberal environmental activism. Karen.

  • 10:29:16

    TUMULTYWell, it's interesting because Katrina has also become a political metaphor for mismanagement. I mean, every time this president has hit any kind of setback or any sort of gigantic outside event with which he is dealing, it is always called Obama's Katrina. So, you know, I think that, you know, for all the human tragedy and human loss and economic loss, it has and remains a political metaphor.

  • 10:29:47

    REHMAll right, let's turn to a new labor ruling. Byron York, the National Labor Relations Board ruled that Browning-Ferris Industries, it's a waste management company, qualifies as a joint employer alongside one of its subcontractors. So what does all that mean?

  • 10:30:14

    YORKWell, it has to do with big companies that you've heard of, like McDonald's...

  • 10:30:18


  • 10:30:18

    YORK...who have restaurants that are actually owned by franchisees, or other big companies that large parts of their business is done by contractors. So you are an employee of the contractor or the franchisee and you're unhappy with your work conditions and you want to take some kind of action against them. In the past, the bigger company, McDonald's, was always separate from that. You couldn't take this -- you couldn't enter into a labor negotiation with McDonald's, it was always the guy who owns the particular restaurant you worked at.

  • 10:30:50

    YORKNow the NLRB, in a straight party line ruling -- why elect a Democratic president unless you can control the NLRB -- in a straight party line ruling, they have said that McDonald's has responsibility in this case. And that the workers will have to negotiate not just with the franchisee but with McDonald's as well.

  • 10:31:12

    REHMSo what does this mean for labor unions?

  • 10:31:15

    TUMULTYWell, it's a -- labor hasn't had much good news in recent years and this is good news for them. And I think it is also an effort by the NLRB to sort of adjust labor laws, adjust labor policy to the realities of the 21st century economy, the realities of the facts that, you know, so many people no longer work directly for these big companies but for franchisees or contractors or, you know, in many cases, sort of for themselves. I mean, you wonder how this is going to affect an economy that -- of Ubers and Airbnbs and whatever else as well.

  • 10:31:52

    REHMAnd it will.

  • 10:31:54

    SEIBWell, it will, if -- and here's the if. If the small business lobby and the Chamber of Commerce and the franchisees' organizations don't convince Congress to pass a law that basically overturns what the NLRB just did, which is what will happen next. And I would mark this and put it in your file of things that will happen if Republicans win the White House and keep control of the Senate in 2016. That's the path of recourse now for the business community that does not like this. It's not feasible while Barack Obama is there to veto a bill but it might be feasible, you know, in a year and a half, for example. So this is not entirely over yet but it's a big deal for now.

  • 10:32:30

    YORKA lot of litigation to come, that's totally correct.

  • 10:32:33

    REHMAll right. Hillary Clinton certainly had lots to say about Republicans and Planned Parenthood this week, Karen.

  • 10:32:44

    TUMULTYShe actually compared them to terrorists, which set off a...

  • 10:32:48

    REHMShe did not use that word.

  • 10:32:52

    TUMULTYBut -- I don't have the exact quote in front of me. But that was the message and the implication. And that set off an entirely, you know, new round of combat over this. They're, you know, again, the Congress comes back and this -- I think this Planned Parenthood -- the videos are going to remain a big, big issue. And, you know, you're going to see Ted Cruz in the Senate leading an effort to potentially shut the government down over defunding Planned Parenthood.

  • 10:33:23

    REHMDo you think he'd go that far, Byron?

  • 10:33:25

    YORKUnclear where that happens. You look at Ted Cruz now and you'd think, when he looks in the mirror and says, well, you know, was my political career killed by leaving the government shutdown before? Not at all. So Republicans feel very strongly about this Planned Parenthood stuff. And by the way, their proposal to defund Planned Parenthood does include lots of funds for women's health care for other organizations that don't perform abortions. But I don't know where it's going to go on that. But I do think, as far as the Hillary Clinton thing is concerned, you'd have to look at this as a distraction from some of Secretary Clinton's recent troubles.

  • 10:34:04

    REHMAnd you're listening to "The Diane Rehm Show." Jerry Seib.

  • 10:34:09

    SEIBWell, this is really an issue in which it's clear that, if you're running for president in a Republican primary, there is very little downside in going after Planned Parenthood and calling for defunding it. And if you're running in a Democratic primary, there's no downside in defending Planned Parenthood to the hilt. It gets a little more complicated for both sides and, I think, for Republicans more so when you get into a general election campaign in which support for Planned Parenthood is synonymous with a lot of women with support for women's health, not just support for abortion.

  • 10:34:39

    SEIBAnd that's a tougher debate in a general election. Right now, it's kind of like free-throws for both sides, because the party bases are so clear on what they think about this issue. That's not going to be true in a general election campaign.

  • 10:34:53

    TUMULTYYeah. I agree as well. And you do wonder if this is one of these fights that, you know, a year from now is going to be, you know, completely off the radar screen...

  • 10:35:03


  • 10:35:04

    TUMULTY...or whether this is something that's still raging.

  • 10:35:06

    YORKBut Republicans are going to jump on this whole terrorism thing. And I think Marco Rubio immediately said -- and he was one of the ones that Secretary Clinton was talking about -- he said, look, Democrats won't even call terrorists, terrorists. And they're calling us terrorists? So I think you're going to see Republicans make a big deal of this.

  • 10:35:21

    REHMHere's what she said. She said, now extreme views about women, we expect that from some of the terrorist groups. We expect that from people who don't want to live in the modern world. But it's a little hard to take from Republicans who want to be president of the United States.

  • 10:35:46

    SEIBYeah, I actually think the key word in that passage is extreme. That's the one -- you're not going to hear terrorists again, let's just stipulate that here. But you are going to hear extreme a lot. And it's going to be applied to Marco Rubio, in particular, who, in the first Republican debate, took a very firm position on abortion that probably pushed him a little further to the right than he really wanted to go. So that's -- that will be the definition of extremism. And you're going to hear that term a lot more. You won't hear terrorists again, I suspect.

  • 10:36:13

    REHMAnd, Jerry, what's the latest on Vice President Biden apparently debating still whether to get in. What's the deadline?

  • 10:36:23

    SEIBWell, if you talk to people in Biden world, they think, they say, he said he would decide by the end of summer. The end of summer, remember, comes on September 21. So that's the kind of timetable we're talking about. I think he's not there. My sense of it is he's really not there in terms of his own decision. I think he would, in many ways, like to do it. The case for doing it has gotten better, as Hillary has had a difficult summer. I think the big issue is, would it be good for my family? I think that's a difficult one for him.

  • 10:36:51

    SEIBThere also are some people who are saying to him, you know, if you do this and fail, it will be a bad way to end a really good political career. And I think that has some resonance, too. So I think that, you know, most people who know the vice president now think the betting is a little better than 50-50 that he'll do it. But he's not there yet one way or the other.

  • 10:37:09

    REHMWhat about if he went in with Elizabeth Warren by his side? Quickly, Karen.

  • 10:37:16

    TUMULTYI think that is not likely. He -- we'll talk about that more.

  • 10:37:20

    REHMAll right. We'll talk about that a little more after we come back. Want to hear from our listeners who are not only listening but watching. You can go to drshow.org and click, watch live.

  • 10:39:59

    REHMWelcome back. Time to open the phones. Let's go first to Ben, who's in Boston, Massachusetts. Hi there, you're on the air.

  • 10:40:12

    BENThanks so much for taking my call.

  • 10:40:15


  • 10:40:16

    BENI'm calling to ask about the role of the media as it relates to the Democratic debates this year, and what I'm talking about is that the DNC is actually banning the candidates from debating each other more than six times, when in 2008 there were 26 debates. And telling candidates they can't debate the issues seems incredibly undemocratic, and the media is the one that actually organize and host the debate yet I don't see the media talking about the -- or pushing back at all, and I want to understand why that is.

  • 10:40:44


  • 10:40:45

    YORKWell, I'm with you on that. I mean, the Republican Party did the same thing with its debates, although perhaps with more reason because they felt that having so many debates had created this long, bloody process that weakened their nominee. But basically the party has used its pressure to say to candidates, if you participate in an unauthorized debate, you will lose all of your delegates, and you will die, and you will get a hotel room 6,000 miles away from the convention.

  • 10:41:12

    YORKBut it seems to me that the opportunity is there for someone to go rogue and create their own debate.

  • 10:41:19

    TUMULTYBut of course, you know, the media would love to have a debate every day, but it's getting the candidates to show up that is the challenge under these -- under these rules that are set out by the party.

  • 10:41:32

    REHMAnd help me to understand what those rules say, Jerry.

  • 10:41:36

    SEIBWell, they say, essentially as Byron suggested, if you don't -- if you participate in something other than the authorized events, you will lose delegates at the convention. Now, I will also add the Republicans tried the same thing in 2012, and the net result was 23 debates. You had a debate, they came. And when the third- or fifth-place candidate shows up, if the leader doesn't show up, the leader knows he becomes the subject of the debate. So they have an incentive to stay away, but they also have an incentive to show up.

  • 10:42:03

    SEIBIt's a very difficult thing for a party to do, and it's -- they try to maintain the discipline, maybe they will, but there's precedent that says, suggests it's not that easy.

  • 10:42:14

    REHMAnd what about the next Republican debate? Is there going to be a first tier, second tier again?

  • 10:42:20

    YORKYeah, well, there's controversy about this. It's going to be September 16, Reagan Library, California. CNN will do the debate. Like Fox News, CNN is going to have a two-tiered debate. There'll be a first debate and a second debate because the field's just so big. They split it. The difference is, and Carly Fiorina is the one who is complaining about this, Fox used the several most recent polls right before the August 6 debate to determine who got in the big debate and who got in the earlier debate.

  • 10:42:48

    YORKCNN, back in May, they didn't do this recently, back in May they announced that they would use polls from July 16 to right before the debate on September 16, which means for Carly Fiorina, back in July 16, she was nowhere, she was a blip on the screen. After the debate, in which she did very well, in Cleveland, she begins to go up in the polls, and now I believe in the Real Clear Politics average of polls she's seventh in the Republican race, which would be -- of course include her in the main, primetime debate.

  • 10:43:20

    YORKBut because CNN is using those older debates, in which she had no standing at all, she might not make it. So that is kind of the controversy about the CNN debate.

  • 10:43:31

    REHMIt makes no sense at this point.

  • 10:43:35

    SEIBThere is no system that will make any sense at this point.

  • 10:43:39


  • 10:43:40

    SEIBThis is a total lose-lose-lose situation. Somebody -- every decision anybody makes about this is going to make somebody mad and somebody being mad for a justifiable reason. It's the -- what doesn't make sense is 16 or 17 candidates in a party.

  • 10:43:50

    REHMCandidates on the stage.

  • 10:43:52

    SEIBThat's what doesn't make sense.

  • 10:43:52

    REHMDonald Trump changed his mind about contributions this week.

  • 10:43:58

    SEIBYeah, he's starting to take them, essentially, and there's an affiliated super-PAC that's starting to raise money for him. He's not making a big deal of it. He will still say I am my own man because I have $10 billion, and that will continue to be his argument, but if somebody wants to give him money so that he spends less of his $10 billion and more of your $1,000, that's perfectly fine with him.

  • 10:44:16

    SEIBSo I think he's going to try to take some money because it's, why not, and not make a big deal of it and hope people don't pay too much attention to it. But he is doing fundraisers, so that's a change.

  • 10:44:26


  • 10:44:26

    YORKWell, one of Trump's big appeal if you -- appeals if you talk to voters is that -- is that all his money means that he is beholden to no one, and we have this weird situation where in 2012, Mitt Romney's wealth meant that he didn't care about you, and now Donald Trump's wealth means that he's no one's man. He can't be bought. So I don't think...

  • 10:44:52

    REHMBut he cares about you.

  • 10:44:52

    YORKHe does care.

  • 10:44:54

    REHMHe cares about you.

  • 10:44:54

    YORKActually, he's doing reasonably well in the polls on that. But I don't see him changing any of his appeal based on that.

  • 10:45:00

    REHMOne person he cares little about is Univision's Jorge Ramos.

  • 10:45:07

    TUMULTYThat's right. He -- this week he was giving a news conference, and Jorge Ramos showed up and asked questions when he had not been called upon, and basically Donald Trump had him ejected from the room. Jorge Ramos, who's got just a huge, huge following in Hispanic media, is sometimes compared to the Walter Cronkite of Hispanic media, was allowed back in. They had a very testy exchange. But, you know, it's, like, Donald Trump, it wasn't like he was going to be getting a lot of Hispanic votes anyway, even though he keeps insisting he's going to win the Hispanic vote.

  • 10:45:47

    SEIBEnded on a friendly note, if you -- if you -- it was so perfectly stage-managed by Trump. I mean, clearly there were questions about whether Ramos needed to be removed from the whole room. I mean, other candidates, Scott Walker, Chris Christie, have had some very determined hecklers in the past, and Ramos was acting a bit like a heckler to begin with. So there's a question about whether he should've been removed, but Trump's showmanship...

  • 10:46:12

    REHMWhat do you mean -- tell me what you mean when you say he was acting like a heckler?

  • 10:46:16

    SEIBWell, he stood up, he had not been recognized to answer a question. And most of these...

  • 10:46:18

    REHMOkay, he had his hand up a number of times, okay.

  • 10:46:21

    SEIBYeah, but most of these news conferences, people are reasonably well-behaved. And so he gets up, and he just starts talking, and he -- there's a lot of declarations in his questions. You cannot deport 11 million people. And so it wasn't really in the form of a question. He claimed that he had a right to speak as a citizen and a reporter. But anyway, Trump, a really big Trump guy booted him out of the room.

  • 10:46:51

    REHMWas that a good decision?

  • 10:46:52

    SEIBNo, I think it was a bad decision to remove him from the room, which is why you saw Trump bring him back, absolutely.

  • 10:46:59

    REHMOkay, who decided to bring him back?

  • 10:47:01

    SEIBMy belief is that Donald Trump was orchestrating the whole thing. He wasn't, of course, telling Ramos what to say, but in terms of ordering the removal, Trump, ordering the come back in, Trump.

  • 10:47:14

    YORKTrump is a master counter-puncher. You know, I think about the first debate, in which Megyn Kelly comes after him with a very tough question on women, and he comes back with Rosie O'Donnell, and everybody laughs. I mean, that was a brilliant moment, if you think about it. What am I going to say at that moment that could diffuse the situation?

  • 10:47:30

    REHMI think it was a terrible thing to say. But not for him, not for him because that was the only thing that would lighten up that room that they were in, and it worked. He -- but whether you like it or not, how many people can think that quickly on their feet and read the situation? Jorge Ramos, kicking him out didn't work. Within 10 minutes, he's back in the room. He's like amazing in that sense.

  • 10:47:50

    TUMULTYBy the way, can I just make the argument that that is why they need Carly Fiorina on that stage, not just because she's a woman but because I, at least in my observation, in the entire Republican field, she -- has got the best instincts for the counter-punch. She's got basically the reflexes of a fighter pilot on this. It will be a much more interesting debate if she's onstage.

  • 10:48:10

    YORKI agree with that because she actually can do this just as well as Donald Trump can. She may be the only one.

  • 10:48:18

    REHMAll right, let's go back to the phones, to Will. He's in Manchester, New Hampshire. Hi there, go right ahead, please.

  • 10:48:26

    WILLHi Diane.

  • 10:48:28


  • 10:48:29

    WILLWell, I wanted to ask you, you know, you guys just spent a lot of time talking about Donald Trump and before that Hillary Clinton and before that at least a couple other candidates in the mainstream of the political world right now. But I wanted to ask you why you're not talking about Bernie Sanders today. You know, I think that there is certainly a mainstream -- kind of unspoken mainstream media blackout that is happening, talking about him. And he is, at least in New Hampshire, the Democratic frontrunner at the time. So I wanted to get some of your thoughts about why people aren't talking about him.

  • 10:49:05

    REHMOkay, and you know he was on this program for an hour. We have talked about him a great deal in other Friday news roundups. We neglected to mention him this morning.

  • 10:49:20

    TUMULTYI think Will's got a good point here, and in fact were you watching the livestream video of this show, as we've been speaking, there's a CNN screen on the wall, and it is actually broadcasting this brand new poll out of the University of New Hampshire that has Bernie Sanders taking the lead there.

  • 10:49:39

    REHMHow is Bernie Sanders affecting Hillary Clinton?

  • 10:49:44

    YORKWell, I don't think he's putting pressure on her to change. I do think, in terms of the Democratic electorate, he acts almost like a forward scout, showing her where it's safe to go. Oh, free tuition for everybody? Oh, maybe we'll go there. And so he's outlining really the outer limits of what is acceptable now in the Democratic Party that's more liberal than it was many years ago.

  • 10:50:11

    REHMInteresting. He's an email from Paul in Oxon Hill, Maryland. He says, there's one person responsible for the Joe Biden possibility. It's Bernie Sanders who's shown that Hillary Clinton's inevitable coronation is not inevitable after all. Sanders has created an opening, and Biden is considering taking advantage of that opportunity. Let the real debate begin.

  • 10:50:45

    SEIBThere's a lot to that. I think a few months ago, I suspect Joe Biden had told himself, much as I would like to run, there's no point, there is not an opening against Hillary, there's not a lane. Bernie Sanders showed there is an opening and there is a lane. I think a lot of that has to do with Hillary Clinton's problems, not just Bernie Sanders' discovery of ways to make this happen, but I do think it has created an environment in which it seems plausible to take on Hillary Clinton, and that's a big deal.

  • 10:51:11

    YORKAlso, I think Sanders has simply shown what everybody really should've known, which is that Democrats would like a contest. I mean, several months ago, when it appeared to be a coronation, Sanders was nowhere, there was nobody else. If you scope it out a little bit, you think, well, the Iowa caucus is coming, the New Hampshire comes, and Republicans are having this big, raucous, competitive race, and Hillary Clinton is just running by herself, and Democrats, I don't think, wanted that any more than Republicans would want something like that.

  • 10:51:36

    REHMDavid Ignatius in this morning's Washington Post wrote a piece saying that the emails, the Hillary Clinton emails, really are not that important. What do you think, Jerry?

  • 10:51:50

    SEIBThey're not. Substantively, they are not that important. I think the problem is that, you know, all these things are metaphors. This is a metaphor for, well, why didn't she come clean right away, why has it been so hard to drag out the actual story. It plays into a Clinton meme that's sort of out there, and that's the problem. I think the substance of the emails will be found to have been less than -- less than gigantic, I think.

  • 10:52:11

    REHMAnd what about Caroline Kennedy saying that she had used personal email account to conduct State Department as ambassador to Japan?

  • 10:52:25

    TUMULTYWell, I think, if anything, it hurts Hillary Clinton even more because if, you know, there's anybody else who looks like she comes from an entitled class, it is probably Caroline Kennedy.

  • 10:52:37

    REHMDo you agree with that, Byron?

  • 10:52:40

    YORKWell, yes, but I think on terms of the email matter itself, this does hurt Mrs. Clinton the trustworthiness question, and we just had this Quinnipiac poll, it got a lot of attention because they asked an interesting question, which is what's the first thing you think of when you hear the name Hillary Clinton or Jeb Bush or Donald Trump. The words, which were unbidden, were amazing. Hillary Clinton's were liar, dishonest and untrustworthy. Bush's were Bush, family and honest. And Trump's were arrogant, blowhard and idiot. So it kind of tells you the problems that each candidate has.

  • 10:53:18

    REHMAnd you're listening to the Diane Rehm Show. To Chris in Spring Hill, Florida, you're on the air.

  • 10:53:26

    CHRISHi guys.

  • 10:53:26


  • 10:53:28

    CHRISHi. My question is, I'm just not -- I can't wrap my head around is what qualifies Donald Trump to be a president. What is -- what are his qualifications that people -- you know, you used -- you know, at the time Obama was, they said, well, he's not qualified. You know, that was a big thing at the beginning of '08, and that's just something that I can't get -- put my head around is what are the qualifications nowadays for -- to run as president.

  • 10:53:58


  • 10:53:59

    YORKWell, there's a long tradition of businessmen thinking they can run for president, most recently, I guess, Ross Perot, who won 19 percent of the population vote in 1992. But I just got back from South Carolina a few days ago, talked to a lot of voters there, Republican, conservative voters, about Trump. And I just, I asked them all, you know, what is the -- what is the most important thing when you're evaluating a candidate?

  • 10:54:26

    YORKThey didn't say immigration. They didn't say any other issues, actually. It was a set of personal attributes. They view Trump as a strong leader. They view him as someone who, as was said before, can't be bought and someone who can push a bureaucracy around. That's the image they have of him, and if you want to put in the shortest possible way, they see Trump as big and everybody else in the Republican campaign as small.

  • 10:54:50


  • 10:54:51

    TUMULTYYeah, and I think that this is not about the issues. One of the things that people saw in this confrontation with Jorge Ramos is so many people say why isn't the press pushing him harder on the issues. The press is pushing him plenty hard on the issues, but his answer to every question is because I'm me. I will build that wall. Yes, it's technically -- other people say it's not feasible, but I can do it. I know how to build things. He is his own answer to every single question.

  • 10:55:19

    SEIBIf this were about issues, there would be no conservative support for Donald Trump, who, you know, supported the single-payer health care system once, who supported a giant tax increase at one point in his career, who supported abortion rights, who supported a ban on assault weapons. For almost all other politicians, those would be serious problems, if not disqualifying, among conservatives, but the debate has blown past all those things.

  • 10:55:42

    SEIBAnd, you know, as Karen suggests, we -- people try to ask Donald Trump about those, and he just says, oh, that was then, this is now.

  • 10:55:49

    REHMBut this is now almost an election year. Is the public really widely in support of him, or is it simply those people who are showing up...

  • 10:56:05

    SEIBWell, you have to remember the polls tell you that 20 percent of people who say they will vote in a Republican primary are saying they're for Donald Trump. That's -- I don't know, that's about one-sixth of the public. And the -- I think Byron referred to earlier, these same polls tell you that there's 60 to 70 percent of Republican primary voters who say I will never support Donald Trump. So there's a ceiling out there for Donald Trump, you have to believe. We just don't know exactly where it is or when it's going to get hit.

  • 10:56:30

    YORKAnd there really is an entertainment factor here, and part of it's frivolous. They -- people just like the show. But the other part is they view Trump as fearless, who, because of his wealth, can say things that maybe other candidates can't say. And in that -- in the doing that, actually pushing other candidates in his direction on certain issues.

  • 10:56:51

    REHMAnd what about the fact that he says if he doesn't get the nomination, he'll run as a third-party candidate?

  • 10:56:59

    YORKWell, he's left that door open.

  • 10:57:01

    REHMHe certainly...

  • 10:57:01

    YORKBut that is going to be the one thing that Republicans will hit him very, very hard on.

  • 10:57:05

    REHMByron York of The Washington Examiner, Karen Tumulty of The Washington Post, Jerry Seib at The Wall Street Journal, thank you all so much. Have a great weekend.

  • 10:57:17

    YORKThank you.

  • 10:57:17

    SEIBThank you.

  • 10:57:17

    TUMULTYYou, too.

  • 10:57:18

    REHMAnd thanks, all, for listening. I'm Diane Rehm.

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