The beating death of Tyre Nichols has renewed calls for reforming the police. But can anything really change?
Guest Host: A Martinez
New polling of likely voters shows Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump nearly tied in the presidential race – and indicates many voters believe electing either candidate would be risky for the country. Hillary Clinton gets back on the campaign trail after taking several days to recover from pneumonia, and both candidates release a doctor’s letter about their health. The Justice Department investigates Wells Fargo, after revelations the bank’s employees opened millions of fake bank accounts. And new Census Bureau data show middle class incomes saw the biggest jump in decades last year. A panel of journalists joins guest host A Martinez for analysis of the week’s top national news stories.
- Rebecca Sinderbrand Deputy national political editor, The Washington Post
- Jeff Mason White House correspondent, Reuters
- Susan Glasser Editor, Politico
MR. A. MARTINEZThanks for joining us. I'm A. Martinez co-host of Take Two on KPCC, Southern California Public Radio. Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton each released more information on their health records. Russian hackers leak emails from former Secretary of State Colin Powell. And the NCAA moved championship games out of North Carolina over the state's so-called bathroom bill.
MR. A. MARTINEZJoining us for this week's Friday News Roundup, Rebecca Sinderbrand, deputy national political editor of The Washington Post, Jeff Mason, White House correspondent for Reuters and Susan Glasser, editor of Politico. Thank you, all three, for being here.
MR. JEFF MASONGood to be here.
MS. REBECCA SINDERBRANDThanks for having us.
MARTINEZAnd we're going to be taking your thoughts, too. You give us a call at 800-433-8850. That's 800-433-8850. You can also send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or join us on Facebook or Twitter. All right, Rebecca, you're leading off for us here. So there's a poll that is showing a very tight race for the White House. Tell us the latest.
SINDERBRANDSo you know, there was a New York Times/CBS poll out this week basically showing Donald Trump is seeming to gain a little bit of ground of Hillary Clinton nationally and this is what we're seeing at the state level, too. It's starting to trickle down. You're seeing Trump making up ground, tightening up races where it hadn't been tight and surging ahead in races where it had been neck and neck.
SINDERBRANDUnclear whether it's a temporary blip. The interesting thing about the New York Times/CBS poll, kind of when you go a little bit deeper into the numbers, it’s a very clear contrast on just two questions. Whether or not the person is honest and whether or not the candidate will bring real change to Washington. Donald Trump has the edge on the honesty question. Hillary Clinton has the edge on -- and Donald Trump has the edge on who will bring change to Washington.
SINDERBRANDAnd Hillary Clinton has the edge on who has the temperament to be president. I'm sorry. You know, do they want someone who has the temperament to fill the job or do they want someone who's going to shake things up a little bit. That's the question right now.
MARTINEZAnd Susan, it seems like no one is quite happy with either choice, regardless of leanings.
MS. SUSAN GLASSERWell, one thing about this extraordinary campaign that will long be remembered is that fact that both nominees are extraordinary unpopular and by the time they're done with it, certainly they'll have made the job of running for president one of the most unappealing jobs you can imagine in America. But, you know, it's very striking. Their unfavorable are just at extraordinary highs.
MS. SUSAN GLASSERAnd by the way, I think we should contrast that with President Obama's approval rating, which now it seems in direct inverse proportion to how we feel about the presidential candidates. President Obama's approval ratings are now a bit -- very high levels for him, 58 percent, that's very high for any national figure in the United States. And it does seem to be very much related to really not only the distaste, but even the antipathy that Americans are feeling towards both of these candidates.
MS. SUSAN GLASSERSo that, I think, is one striking finding. The other thing is as we get in this sort of collective poll frenzy, on the one hand, it's not surprising at all. If you ask any seasoned political observer the week before Labor Day, even not knowing about Hillary Clinton's pneumonia, even not knowing about any events that would come, is this race going to tighten, are we going to have a whole round of polls and the subsequent kind of media an echo chamber frenzy over the fact that this is a very close race, and I think that almost all of them would have predicted this tightening in the race.
MS. SUSAN GLASSERIt's not just one poll. There's very clear evidence across the board and in all the surveys that we've seen over the last couple weeks of a tightening in the race. And it does reflect certainly the distaste that people across the political spectrum seem to feel for both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. But it also reflects, I think, a country that is really deeply divided. And remember, even something that counts as a landslide victory, President Obama's win in 2008 was just by a few points. And we're basically, no matter who the candidates are, looking at a very tight race.
MARTINEZJeff, in the world of sports, we always talk about how polls, are they important in college football, do they matter early on, we have a championship game in college football so it doesn't really matter who's ranked first at the start of the season and Susan mentions poll frenzy, I mean, how much importance do we place on these polls until they actually meet on the field, so to speak, for the -- that would the presidential debates.
MASONYeah, I think it's a good question. The campaigns, I think, would say -- certainly the Hillary Clinton campaign, most recently, would say, we're not paying attention to the polls, Clinton actually, in one of her first meetings with the press last week, after a long drought, said, you know, I don't look at the polls when they're good for me. I don't really look at the polls when they're bad for me. We expected this race to be tight.
MASONAnd I think it's probably true that they expected the race to be tight. I think what Susan says is correct, the history of presidential elections in the United States for the last several cycles has been it's going to be a tight race. That said, I think that there are certainly Democrats who expected Clinton to have this in the bag or certainly be in a much stronger position in polls. And some of these specific numbers are concerning.
MASONIn the swing states like Rebecca mentioned, the state of Colorado where Clinton has been doing pretty, the polls are showing Trump gaining there as well. She also had some sort of unfortunate polling trends in that New York Times/CBS poll with young people under -- people under 30. She still had more support than Trump, but not as much as Obama. I think we'll probably see her and also the president, thanks to his strong ratings, really reaching out to those types of constituents in the coming weeks.
MARTINEZWhat about battleground states? How are things going there?
GLASSERWell, you know, it's important that you brought that up because really, in the end, you talk about what's the poll that matters? It's not even the national popular vote, of course, that matters on Election Day. It is the electoral college math, as much as anything. And what I think is really probably the more interesting numbers to look at are in the individual states, as Rebecca pointed out. You know, we've identified sort of 11 key states that we see as this year's battleground that reflects sort of the most competitive states of recent elections, plus some that are on there because of the unique nature of Donald Trump's candidacy.
GLASSERAnd there, you know, Democrats have had a pretty built-in advantage in recent presidential elections. That's why they've had this long running -- winning streak in presidential races. And that's what's interesting is that Trump has now pulled even or ahead in key battlegrounds where he looked quite out of the running. For example, he -- there were several surveys this week that looked at Ohio, which is, perhaps, our most bellwether state and that had him running slightly ahead there.
GLASSERDead even tied in Florida and that's very interesting because it's been assumed, actually, that of all the very competitive even too close to call presidential states, Florida, obviously, was the one that decided 2000 presidential race that Trump would have bigger troubles there because of the rising Hispanic population and his apparent targeting of Hispanics with his comments about Mexicans and the wall, for example. And yet, interesting enough, despite that, despite disorganization in his campaign in Florida -- which is reflected in many of the states, actually.
GLASSERHe's just not running a super professionalized operation and yet, even with all of those factors, it looks like he's running dead even with her in Florida. And then, there are the states, like Jeff pointed out, like Colorado and also Virginia where it had appeared that Hillary Clinton was taking those off the map, that she was actually close to locking down those as Democratic states and yet, they seem to be still competitive now in the middle of September.
SINDERBRANDAnd one of the questions, of course, that we have this year and this is different than many other years is exactly that imbalance we talk about in the campaign where you have this really dedicated campaign infrastructure from Hillary Clinton. She's really developed at this. It's a really professional operation on the ground. And Donald Trump is running a very untraditional campaign. So the question, and this is unlike any other cycle that I've covered before, is when we look at these polls, generally we're looking at two campaigns with fairly equal turnout operations, fairly equal advertising, television advertising on the airwaves.
SINDERBRANDSo the questions, are they gonna get all those voters to the polls who say that they support Donald Trump?
MARTINEZWhen numbers shift dramatically, I think, that's when maybe most people or maybe I pay attention. Have the polls shifted dramatically even, say, since last month?
SINDERBRANDThere has been a shift, absolutely.
MASONYeah, they've tightened. I mean, they've tightened a lot. In August, Trump had a little bit of a blip after his convention. Hillary Clinton had a pretty major blip after hers and during a period when Trump had sort of a bad week or two of scandals that really hurt him in the polls. More recently, that has shifted a little bit because Hillary Clinton has had some moments that did not go over well with -- in the polls, her comment about half of Trump supporters being in a basket of deplorable and then having to jump off the campaign trail for awhile and not being up front right away about her pneumonia diagnosis has hurt her a little bit.
MASONSo all of those things have contributed to a tightening. But I think you're right, A, when you said earlier do the polls really matter ahead of this first debate. Yes, they matter and it's one thing Democrats are doing to show that they matter is really trying to tell their voters not to get complacent and Republicans, no doubt, as well. But that first debate is going to be huge and it's really going to be critical for both candidates. And I think it's -- it will be watched closely and it will have an impact on the polls as well.
MARTINEZLet me squeeze in really quick, Naomi in Pensacola, Florida. Naomi, you're on "The Diane Rehm Show."
NAOMIHi. Thank you for taking the call and I just want to say I listen to NPR radio all the time and NPR News and all the talk shows and I'm very pleased that they give a balanced, even coverage of the news and of the campaign. But what I am disliking and disappointed in at the moment is that nobody is giving any coverage at all to the third party candidates. And I would like to hear more information about them because I think if ever there was a year that a third party candidate could get in, this would be it.
MARTINEZNaomi, thanks a lot for the phone call. So Gary Johnson, Jill Stein, I'm assuming that's who she's talking about. But do -- are they still in the conversation?
GLASSERWell, you know, actually I'm really glad she brought that up because I think one of the interesting things that we've all seen with this new batch of polls that's come out this week is actually challenging some of our assumptions about the role that these third party candidates would play. Gary Johnson, we thought, well, he's going to take votes away from Donald Trump with the Republicans who aren't really comfortable with Trump as the nominee and yet, actually he may be hurting Hillary Clinton.
MARTINEZWe'll get more into it, Friday News Roundup here on "The Diane Rehm Show," A. Martinez filling in.
MARTINEZWelcome back. I'm A Martinez of "Take Two" on KPCC, Southern California Public Radio, sitting in for Diane Rehm. It's the "Friday News Roundup" and we're joined by Rebecca Sinderbrand, deputy national political editor, Washington Post, Jeff Mason, White House correspondent for Reuters, and Susan Glasser, editor, Politico. We'll also take your calls too, 800-433-8850. That's 1-800-433-8850. Or you can email us, email@example.com.
MARTINEZAll right. So, medical records. Everyone wants to know about everyone's medical records. Donald Trump spent some time on his own health. His doctor, Harold Bornstein says that he is in excellent health. I can imagine that would have been the answer no matter what. But what, if anything, did we learn, Jeff?
MASONWell, so he also spent some time on "The Dr. Oz Show."
MARTINEZThat's true, yes.
MASONAnd that was revealing on some level in terms of his health. He talked a little bit about his -- some numbers from his most recent physical. He takes a cholesterol-lowering statin drug, for example. He doesn't have heart problems or type-2 diabetes. He is overweight. It's just a bit shy of the medical definition of being obese. And he told Dr. Oz that he gets exercise by going to campaign events...
MASON...and moving his hands and being present in sauna-like hot rooms. So that was the revelation about his health.
MARTINEZThat's his exercise plan?
MASONThat is, at least currently, his exercise plan.
MARTINEZI don't -- yeah, I don't mean to be critical of anyone's exercise plan. But moving your hands around at a campaign event I don't think would be enough.
MASONProbably not the 30 minutes of...
MARTINEZI'm know Jack LaLanne.
MASON...aerobic activity today.
MASONThat said, it is a lot of work to be on the campaign trail. And I know it is probably hard for candidates to get their exercise. Although I will say that having covered President Obama's campaigns in '08 and 2012, that man got up and went to the gym every single day.
MARTINEZI always tell people, 30 minutes a day, that's all you really need. So did we learn anything, Susan?
GLASSERWell, we learned that the facts don't matter all that much to Donald Trump. And, you know, that even his health can be turned into part of the sort of the reality show aspect of this campaign. And I have to say, it's -- listen to us having this conversation. It's pretty extraordinary. So, you know, Donald Trump, what has he done? He's turned it into a spectacle, in which he's actually refused to release the same amount of information as any of the other candidates, while also running for president when he would be the oldest president ever elected to this country.
GLASSERAnd instead of having a real serious conversation around that, we're having a serious conversation about, oh, gee, he went on a TV show with a doctor who is also a lightning rod for controversy, who has been accused, you know, by a lot of people who have studied it a lot more than I have...
GLASSER...of peddling quack cures. Whose -- Trump's own doctor, his proof of his health, is releasing a letter from his doctor that says that he would be the most terrific, best, healthiest president ever. Notwithstanding the fact that he would be the oldest president ever. Notwithstanding the fact that he doesn't exercise. Notwithstanding the fact that he, you know, is overweight or whatever the other issues are.
GLASSERAnd so, to me, there's two aspects of this. One is the legitimate and important and interesting conversation that we have candidates in both parties who are very old. And historically speaking, what does that mean to the United States? It -- we know it's a very demanding job physically and mentally. What are the potential consequences of both parties turning to people of such advanced age? That's the serious conversation. But once again, you know, as we look at Donald Trump in 2016, we're not having that conversation.
GLASSERWe're having a conversation about a spectacle. And how come he didn't release this? And, you know, we're doing it on his terms on a TV show that also brings into question the issue of Americans and their view about science and what's legitimate and what's not. And of course, then the third bucket is, why has Donald Trump consistently sought to make health both an overt and a covert issue against Hillary Clinton, who is younger than him. Women have a longer life expectancy than men. There seems to be an issue around his desire to project himself as this very masculine, virile, strong person. And we don't really know, evidence wise, whether, you know, how much that's the case or not.
MARTINEZWell, like his friend, Vladimir Putin.
GLASSERExactly. He's a strong guy and the implication is that the woman candidate, she's very weak because she got pneumonia.
SINDERBRANDI mean, and to that, you know, you would add another issue that this race, which is the transparency issue, once again for Donald Trump we are getting just the amount of information that he wants us to hear and absolutely nothing more. You know, you pointed out that he's just shy of the medical limit for being obese. That appears to be because he's magically sprouted an inch in this latest medical report. Up until this week...
GLASSERYes. This is a great point.
SINDERBRANDUp until this week.
GLASSERIf you look, all previous reports have said this man is 6'2". Donald Trump, this week is 6'3".
GLASSER...according to this.
SINDERBRANDAnd if he had been 6'2", given the weight that he says he is, he would be classified medically as obese. But now that he is 6'3", he is now overweight. So again, this highlights again, we just see from Donald Trump precisely what he wants us to see and nothing more. Not the documents that people are asking for down on the health front, not on the tax front, not on the charitable foundation front, not on the immigration...
MARTINEZCould he have been wearing flats at a physical before this? I don't know.
SINDERBRANDYou know, it's hard to say. But, you know, again...
MARTINEZSandals, barefoot? I don't know. You know.
SINDERBRAND...we're waiting for these documents. We have, you know, reporters who've been chasing down that, particularly, you know, when it comes to his charitable foundation, looking for the documentation of these donations that he says he's made. And we're still waiting for these documents. And all we see is what Donald Trump would like us to see and nothing more.
GLASSER"The Economist," this week, called this the post-truth campaign that Donald Trump is waging.
MARTINEZHmm. Well, one thing we did see though, his child care proposal this week. What more did we learn on that, Jeff?
MASONThat was partially a brain-child of his daughter Ivanka, who's really championed that issue. We learned that, if he were to become president, that Trump proposes allowing people, large families to deduct the cost of child-care expenses from their income taxes. Specifically, families could deduct those expenses if they have up to four kids, or two elderly dependents. And it would be available for individuals who earn less than $250,000 a year or couples who make less than $500,000 a year together.
MASONAnd I think one of the purposes of this policy proposal was to reach out to women. That's a obviously very important constituent group in the United States and one that he has struggled with. So that was one of the reasoning behind this proposal.
MARTINEZHow does it compare to what we've seen from Hillary Clinton?
MASONClinton has spent a lot of time in her entire career and certainly on this presidential campaign talking about child care, talking about helping kids, helping families. I don't have the numbers for her program in front of me. But this is standard fare for Hillary Clinton and for Democrats. This is sort of a bit of an anomaly for Trump.
GLASSERWell, not only is it an anomaly, but once again in terms of accountability and consistency, anyone working for the Donald Trump organization would not have been eligible for anything like the kind of policies he was talking about this week.
SINDERBRANDI mean, one other kind of notable element of this roll out of the child-care plan was again, as you point out, this was a brain-child of his daughter Ivanka, who lobbied very hard for it. It did not seem -- Ivanka is someone who's been on the campaign trail seen as a stabilizing influence, had almost universally good views from people across the political spectrum for her performance on the campaign trail. And yet, this week, when she came out to speak about this child-care plan, she did not seem prepared for the questions that she received about her father's record, about the details of that plan. And so she stumbled a little bit.
SINDERBRANDThis is one of the first times we've seen that from her. And so it seems as though perhaps the campaign did not prepare her well for what she was about to face.
MARTINEZLet's go out to a Jeff in Broken Arrow, Okla. Jeff, you're on "The Diane Rehm Show."
JEFFHi. Thank you. Hey, right off the back, I'd take exception. There was a statement, no one likes either candidate, discussion about the historical lows. And it sort of becomes a self-fulfilling attitude. I support Hillary Clinton. I like her. I think, as Barack said, she's likeable enough. So...
MARTINEZWell, listed to what you just -- she's likeable enough. That's not a ringing endorsement, Jeff.
JEFFWell, I know that's not a ringing endorsement. But I actually like her a great deal. And Oklahoma is one of the reddest of all states. We've had also one of the most financial disasters, having had a dozen years, a decade of Republican failures. So I think that we're going to see a surprise in which a lot of folks are going to come out and be positive in the polls. But, you know, as I say, it becomes a self-fulfilling attitude. People don't want to admit, you know, oh, I like one or the other of the candidates, obviously for different reasons. But I think Hillary is a wonderful candidate.
MARTINEZAll right, Jeff. Thanks a lot for the phone call.
MASONWorth noting that the comment that Jeff referred to by then Senator Obama was during the 2008 primary...
MASON...and probably not one of his prouder moments. And worth noting that he has given a very, very strong endorsement of Secretary Clinton since then, not least, just this week when he went out on a campaign trail on his own and just gave a resounding speech for her. So I think it's fair to say that President Obama views Hillary Clinton as more than likeable enough.
MASONBut what the caller is asking about is our discussion earlier regarding the polls. And the polls show that both candidates are historically unpopular. That doesn't mean, of course, that there aren't people who like them both. They wouldn't have become their respective parties' nominees if that likeability wasn't there. But they are at historic lows in terms of popularity.
SINDERBRANDAnd that's actually a very important question, the question of enthusiasm and intensity heading into election day. Kind of looking at the gap between the two parties, as of right now, the people who feel strongly about Donald Trump, at this moment at least, looking at the polls, are more enthusiastic about him than the people who feel strongly about Hillary Clinton. And so the question of how much that intensity matters heading into November.
MARTINEZNow, Jeff in Oklahoma mentioned how he likes Hillary Clinton. And we haven't talked about her health. She had an issue a few days ago. And now she released a letter from her doctor. She returned to the campaign trail yesterday. She's actually here in D.C. today. Susan, what do we know about her medical records? I know, now -- I am feeling a little icky about the whole medical thing from Trump all the way now to Hillary.
GLASSERWell again, look, she, first of all, just to be clear, right, she has released a lot more documentation...
MASON...than Donald Trump has. Basically, he said, take my word at it and offered a few tidbits on a highly controversial TV show. She's released pages and pages of information from her doctor. You know, you can look up on the Internet now what Hillary Clinton's heart rate is. And it turns out to be quite low, which, again, there is a slightly higher risk of, you know, someone fainting or things like that from the level of heart rate that she has. She, as well, is taking various medicines. She has these seasonal allergies. She has a diet that is characterized as strong on fruits and vegetables, unlike Donald Trump's or her own husband's, famously, for that matter. At least back in his pre-heart-condition days.
GLASSERYou know, basically, you know, her doctor has pronounced her to be fit to run for president and to serve as president. Again, you know, the overall issue, it seems to me, with Hillary Clinton is the fact of her age. There has been nothing that these doctors reports have released that would indicate any evidence to feed these conspiracy theories that have been on the Internet and fed by the far right about any lasting damage, for example, from the head injury that she suffered several years ago that led to her, you know, being temporarily absent from her job as Secretary of State. There's been no additional evidence of any long-term consequences of that.
GLASSERBut, you know, that's the kind of narrative that's been out there. It's not found in these records, which basically show a healthy almost-69-year-old woman.
MARTINEZComing up in just a second, we'll answer the question if there has been a double standard when it comes to health records. I'm A Martinez. You're listening to "The Diane Rehm Show." If you'd like to join us, give us a call, 800-433-8850. Or send us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Or find us on Facebook and send us a tweet as well. And you can find me on Twitter, @amartinezla. That's @amartinezla. All right, Rebecca, has there been a double standard? That's what we've been hearing.
SINDERBRANDWell, you know, certainly that's what Hillary Clinton's supporters would say. You know, the issue here, I think, from what we've seen unfolding in the days since Hillary Clinton's health incident at the 9/11 Memorial was, people's concerns are not just about her health. It's again going to that larger question of transparency, the feeling that, kind of, as the details have come out about what transpired in the days and the weeks leading up to this incident, that perhaps Hillary Clinton was not completely forthcoming. That people had no idea, even people within her campaign had no idea that she was battling this health incident.
SINDERBRANDAnd it goes to the kind of larger questions that some people have had about whether she is in general completely transparent and honest with the American people. So beyond the question of health, that's the bigger picture here.
MARTINEZBecause I actually thought what she said rang really relatable to a lot of people, when she said, I was trying to power through. Who doesn't, man or woman, try to power through if you've got a cold, if you've got a stomach ache? You just try and -- so I thought that actually was a pretty genius way to frame it, Jeff. The, you know, just like anybody else in America, we try to power through and do their job.
MASONWell, and I think the keyword there is relatable. I think a lot of people can relate to that. I mean, I spent a lot of time overseas in my career. And Europeans, when they're sick, usually stay home. And when I came back to the U.S., I'm sort of astounded by folks who come to the office with a cold, folks who...
MARTINEZWhich is not good, by the way. If you're sick, you should stay home.
MARTINEZEveryone should stay home.
MASONStay home. And even Hillary Clinton said this week or in some of the interviews right after she -- the diagnosis was made that, you know, she ignored the advice of her doctor and she should have gotten rest. And now she has gotten some rest and she looked well-rested yesterday when she got back on the campaign trail and also said that the time off was a gift for her. And that she'd used the time to reflect a little bit on the campaign. And -- but it's an interesting sort of comment on Americans and how we deal with our own health, that people feel the need to show up when they're sick.
MASONObviously it's not an apples-for-apples comparison to a person who's running for president and only has less than 60 days left in the race. So you can understand why, in that particular situation, you'd want to power through. But it's -- in the long run, it's better to be healthy to finish the race.
MARTINEZSusan, what about you?
GLASSERWell, it does feel like we're, you know, anyone in public life, whether a Democrat or a Republican, faces a pretty unforgiving echo chamber of judgment. So on the one hand, you would think this might be a political opportunity for Hillary Clinton. After all, she's being called unrelatable. She's been called distant. She's been called, you know, not like regular people. And this is a very humanizing moment, right? You know, this is a -- something happening to her that happens to anybody.
MASONPeople get pneumonia.
GLASSERPotentially, you know, especially when undergoing such an extraordinary schedule. And it's a grueling physical exercise to become -- to run for president. Many of her staff have been ill for months. They've been hospitalized. You know, they are human and so is she. So on the one hand, you would think it might be a political opportunity for her to show her grit, to show her resilience, to show the fact that she's just like an ordinary person at a time when she's been typecast as someone who doesn't feel normal to people.
GLASSEROn the other hand, she's gotten clobbered, as Rebecca put it, around this question of, you know, turning a health issue into a transparency and disclosure issue. And you know, that seems where people have really stuck with their critique of this incident, why did she not...
MARTINEZBut I'm wondering where it goes from here.
MARTINEZEvery stop she has...
GLASSERWell, that's right.
MARTINEZ...I've got a tummy ache right or I've got a sniffle.
GLASSERExactly. The American people -- well, that's exactly right. And...
MARTINEZDoes she have to reveal it?
GLASSERI'm sure that if she were sitting down with us here, that's what she would say. Is like, are you kidding me? Like, you know, what information is too much for you people, on the one hand? And then of course there is the other bucket which concerns us as journalists, which is, is Trump being held to the same standards?
MARTINEZMore of your thoughts coming up, 1-800-433-8850. That's 1-800-433-8850. You can also email us, email@example.com. This is A. Martinez filling in on "The Diane Rehm Show."
MARTINEZWelcome back. I'm A Martinez of "Take Two" on KPCC, Southern California Public Radio sitting in for Diane Rehm. Our guests, Rebecca Sinderbrand of the Washington Post, Jeff Mason from Reuters and Susan Glasser, Politico. You can also get on the phone with us, 800-433-8850. That's 1-800-433-8850. You can email us, firstname.lastname@example.org. And you can see a live video stream of the Roundup. Just go to drshow.org. That's drshow.org. All right, something that we talked about earlier this week on The Diane Rehm Show.
MARTINEZMiddle class incomes and good news this week when it comes to rising incomes for the middle class. Jeff, do we know what's behind the improvement?
MASONWell, probably several factors. An improving job market, low inflation and rising wages. In particular, for people who make, for low income earners. Those are all behind some of these really excellent numbers. The real median household income in 2015 went up to 56,500 dollars. That was a 5.2 percent jump from 2014 and the largest percentage gain since the 1960s. The poverty rate fell by 1.2 percentage points. Still, a lot of poor people in the country. 43.1 million, but that was an improvement from 3.5 million fewer in 2014.
MARTINEZAnd Susan, one of the things I wondered about when I saw these numbers come out, and only because I know people that say, well, yeah, our household income went up because I got a second job and my wife went back to work. Or vice versa, so sometimes maybe these numbers can be a little misleading.
GLASSERWell, I think they can, although, you know, because they're tracked so closely every year, this, this, this jump is a very large jump, and you know, I talked to a couple of people who follow economics much more closely than I do this week, because I was interested in this, and you know, they said this was the bump that we expected but didn't get out of the sort of post 2008 crisis recovery. You know, so the overall economy recovered and one of the things we've been talking about and its impact in politics as well is the fact that it didn't seem to be reflected in Americans income and that it hadn't sort of reached a broad enough swath of the population.
GLASSERSo this does seem to be somewhat of a delayed benefit from the post 2008 stimulus and recovery that followed. But I, you know, I think your point goes right to the big political question of 2016, right, which is you have one candidate, Donald Trump, painting this very sort of dark and dyspeptic portrait of America right now. At heart of which is this notion that well, maybe the rich are doing well, but that everyday Americans, somehow, you know, are not moving ahead in the way that they would like to, that this sort of forward momentum in American society, for the middle class, has somehow halted.
GLASSERAnd counterbalancing that are this, you know, basically trumping -- a very, very positive economic data. Remember, you've had, I think it's 58 straight months or something of, of economic growth in this country, one of our longest growing steaks ever. You have, you know, very strong evidence across the board that during the two terms of the Obama presidency. The economy has grown in a lot of positive ways, and yet there's this feeling of sort of angst and unhappiness.
GLASSERAnd so, one of the things we're gonna find out, I think, is, you know, how much does the middle class feel like they're gonna choose the more optimistic version of America being sold by Hillary Clinton and the Democrats this fall? Generally, economics do decide American elections.
MARTINEZAnd the White House did a bit of a victory lap when these numbers came out. So, I'm wondering, from Hillary Clinton's side of things, how does she take the baton, if she wants to take that baton? Does she say, look, a vote for me means these numbers can continue? Then, on flip side, how does Donald Trump counter that?
SINDERBRANDYou know, it's an interesting balance. You know, two of the numbers that we look at heading into an election year, when you have a two term presidency and you have a member of the President's party looking to succeed him is where is the President's approval rating and where is economic growth? So right now, technically, looking at both of those metrics, Hillary Clinton has the wind at her back. And yet, it is an interesting balancing act. On the one hand, when you talk about these numbers, one of the new things we've seen this year is a presidential candidate who questions the numbers themselves.
SINDERBRANDWho will say, you know, you see these economic numbers released by the government that says we're doing so well. You shouldn't necessarily believe these numbers you're seeing so that the notion of whether or not the economy actually is doing well is no longer tied to objective numbers, but suddenly becomes a partisan question. That's always been true to some extent, but it's particularly this year when you're questioning the very notion of authority and truth and so on on these numbers. And for Hillary Clinton, it's an interesting balancing act.
SINDERBRANDOn the one hand, running on President Obama's record, running on this economy that is, by all objective accounts, growing. On the other hand, there are these long term trends in place that proceeding Obama and will likely succeed Obama whoever succeeds him in office. Which is there are people who have been left behind by globalization. They definitely feel -- you're seeing this anger, it's the driving story of this election on both sides of the aisle. You saw it with the move with Bernie Sanders, you saw it with Donald Trump, this, this anger over trade.
SINDERBRANDAnd the decisions that are being made and the way this economy is benefitting people at the top or perceived to be benefitting people at the top. And leaving other people behind. So, you have to balance those two messages. On the one hand, the economy is booming. On the other hand, people are being left behind and not seeming out of touch or not able to relate with the pain that ordinary people are feeling.
MARTINEZYou mentioned Bernie Sanders. There's an email from Lauren in Seattle. My question for today's panel is why has there been a noticeable absence of Bernie Sanders on the campaign trail in support of Hillary Clinton? It seems the last time we saw Senator Sanders was at the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia. Is this by design or maybe mutual agreement?
GLASSERI think, actually, he and Elizabeth Warren are going to be in Ohio. Isn't that right?
SINDERBRANDYes. Yeah, he's -- Bernie Sanders, I believe, is in Pennsylvania. Elizabeth Warren in Ohio, so they are out there actually for Hillary Clinton.
GLASSERJust this weekend, yeah.
SINDERBRANDJust this weekend, yes.
MARTINEZOkay, so the plan is there -- is in place at least for him to be out there. All right. Let's go out to Christian in Houston, Texas. Christian, you're on the Diane Rehm Show.
CHRISTIANYes, hi, thank you for having me on.
CHRISTIANI am a millennial Clinton supporter and I've watched the news quite a bit recently, so I have a question for the panel. I'd like to ask them if -- whether it be CNN or Fox News, if they've been taking on so called kids gloves with Donald Trump and his policies, especially his tax returns. And the lack of them.
MARTINEZGo ahead, Susan.
GLASSERYou know, it's, it's really interesting the caller raises this question of, you know, as if it's the media's fault he -- Donald Trump hasn't gotten tough coverage. If only we'd been writing these stories and talking about it more, then Donald Trump somehow wouldn't have risen in the polls. I think if you go back and look that the record is going to show there's been a lot of great, tough important journalism about Donald Trump and his record, his record of lies, exaggerations, falsehoods. Refusal to disclose things.
GLASSERThe Washington Post, Politico, many others have done extensive reporting on all these issues, the tax returns are an issue, largely because the media has kept it up and hasn't stopped. And so I think that, you know, it's an understandable critique, and I think we all, every day are challenging ourselves, you know, how do we cover this most unusual candidate and campaign? But when it comes to this specific question of have we done enough aggressive reporting on Donald Trump?
GLASSERI think the answer is yes. The question is why isn't it sticking? It's a phenomenon that I'm increasingly, you know, feeling this year, that I would sort of call transparency without accountability. You know, that we have more information, more reporting, more of everything when it comes to, in the public sphere, when it comes to both of these candidates than arguably ever before. And yet, certainly in the case of Donald Trump, there doesn't seem to be a lot of accountability that is going along with it.
GLASSERAnd you know, that is almost like the central tenant of the journalist's religion, right? Is that, you know, bring the sunlight out and the disinfectant will follow.
MARTINEZJeff, and Rebecca, I want to hear both of your thoughts, too, because I'm wondering, when you hear, you know, this media criticism, do you take it personally? Does it bother you at all? Do you feel a sting?
SINDERBRANDWell, you know, to be honest, right now, the longer that this campaign has gone on, it feels like there's two very different things going on, which is there's the critique of the media, which is proxy for how people feel the frustration they feel, the story that they feel strongly about is not (unintelligible) . Other people don't feel as strongly about it. I can't tell you the number of times I'll hear from a reader and they'll ask why we don't cover issue X or issue Y.
SINDERBRANDAnd it will literally be a story that's on the front page of Washingtonpost.com at the moment. But they're not really critiquing the media as it actually exists. They're critiquing, you know, to put quote marks around it, the media, the idea of this kind of journalistic space where the stories that they think should rise to the top are not the ones that most readers are looking for. That most viewers are looking for, and so they just don't catch fire.
MARTINEZJeff, what about you?
MASONI don't think it's our job to take it personally when there's criticism. I do think it's our job to listen when the criticism is legit. And I think some of the questions that have come up about coverage and wall to wall TV coverage and dating all the way back, of course, to the primary campaign of Donald Trump and the others raises some, some legitimate questions. And I think it's good that they're asked and I think it's important for journalists and the managers of news, who make the decisions about coverage to reflect on them.
GLASSERYou know, I am glad Jeff brought up this issue of TV because I do think that you can and should make distinctions. While we have been having this conversation this morning, we have a TV screen in this room that shows CNN for the entire time of the conversation. So we're now 15 minutes in to this hour. Basically, CNN has been running a blank podium and saying, soon, Donald Trump will speak. And you know, this is almost a caricature of really, of the entire 2016 campaign. Which is that, you know, the empty podium of Donald Trump.
GLASSERAnd by the way, Donald Trump has called an event that seems to be both a combination of publicizing his new hotel.
MARTINEZIt's one of his projects. Yeah, right there.
GLASSERAnd he's going to talk once again about the issue that really first propelled him into politics which is the questioning of President Obama's basic facts of his life in a way that is, you know, outrageously, flagrantly untrue and yet somehow has persisted, even into 2016. Donald Trump has continued to question President Obama's birth. And now, the media, in the form of TV and not the media in the form of the Washington Post, Reuters or Politico, has been sucked into basically a show that Donald Trump has thrown this morning. And literally, we're now 52 minutes in.
MARTINEZThe same screen, yeah.
GLASSERCNN has been showing an empty podium for 52 minutes. So, you know, when this caller talks about the media...
MARTINEZWell, there's people on the podium. It's just not Trump.
GLASSER...that's the media.
MARTINEZThat's the thing. Everyone's breathlessly awaiting, yeah.
GLASSERWell, they're not doing anything. They're not talking. CNN is just breathlessly, you know, quote unquote covering a show that Donald Trump has thrown. Apparently to promote his private business interests.
MARTINEZI'm A Martinez and you're listening to "The Diane Rehm Show." You can also get a hold of us, 800-433-8850 or email@example.com. And see a live video stream of the roundup. Just go to drshow.org. All right, the NCAAP took action this week in response to a very controversial North Carolina law known as HB2. Jeff, what was the decision and how impactful will it be?
MASONSo, first, it's probably useful to explain the law. It makes it unlawful for, for someone to use a restroom that is different from the gender on their birth certificate regardless of their gender identity. And the NCAA decided because of that law to move seven championship events, including basketball, golf, lacrosse, out of the state. And that was followed then by the ACC, the Atlantic Coast Conference of collegiate sports, also moving 14 of 21 championship events in this academic year.
MASONAnd for just to put some context there, when it comes to the ACC, Atlantic Coast Conference, in the state of North Carolina, four of the seven original schools that founded that conference are there, that's North Carolina, North Carolina State, Duke and Wake Forest. And Rebecca, I loved the example that you put it in context for people that maybe don't know sports too much. But tell us about how you phrased it.
SINDERBRANDYeah, I was saying, you know, before the show, it's basically as though they'd taken the Macy's Day Thanksgiving Parade and said it can't be held in New York this year. We're going to hold it across the river in New Jersey somewhere. It's just not the same. It gets to the heart of what North Carolina is.
MARTINEZSo I'm wondering if we'll see a domino effect here, because all across the country, this -- well, bathroom bill issue has -- like, when you think about what the NBA did with the All Star game, I mean, that -- really kind of no one really thought about too much, other than maybe people in sports. But now it's starting to become something that everybody is paying a lot of attention to.
GLASSERWell, what's striking to me is that this isn't just something that you can dismiss as oh, gee, it's, you know, liberal celebrities who don't want to come to North Carolina anymore, that, you know, this is really a pretty, you know, it's core to the identity of the state. It's, you know, sort of red blood, American sports and you've seen this, by the way, with some of the other kind of boycott driven politics in Indiana, I'm thinking of. In recent years, on the question of gay rights more broadly. And, you know, turning civil rights issues into economic issues, where you basically have sort of not only mainstream American business, historically aligned with Republicans.
GLASSERSaying wait a minute, you know, we can't turn our states into platforms for conservative political causes. And I think it's a very interesting kind of a macro trend, right? It's clearly not just in North Carolina. I think the politics of this are interesting and suggest that the American public or at least the mainstream business part of it is moving along with a new generation of voters in a direction of more progressive civil rights point of view. And that's not -- clearly not been fully reflected in our national presidential campaign this year.
SINDERBRANDAnd not to be too one note about this, but we are in a presidential election year and North Carolina is a battleground state so the question becomes again, what sort of impact this might have on voters there?
MASONAnd Hillary, I was travelling with Hillary Clinton last week when she was in North Carolina and she brought it up. She brought up the law, she brought up the Governor, and she made a point of drawing that line that Susan was just drawing to decisions like that and having an economic impact. And this will have an economic impact.
MARTINEZAnd as of right now, there are no Super Bowl scheduled for the state of North Carolina, but if that ever -- that, I think, would be maybe the straw that breaks the camel -- or at least that causes movement one way or the other. Because a Super Bowl and the NFL are the most powerful things in this country when it comes to sports entertainment. Real quickly, I want to squeeze in Wells Fargo. The Department of Justice opened an investigation into Wells Fargo over some fake accounts. Rebecca, what does the DOJ think happened there?
SINDERBRANDSo the DOJ is basically saying that what happened is the millions of fake accounts may have been established in an effort to kind of hide the true economic condition, the true performance of the company. And I have to, again, circle this back. This goes back to what a lot of voters are feeling, is that people at the top at these banks have gotten away with murder in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis. And so, again, we're in an election year. You're looking at the possibility of actual charges and the discussion of criminal elements happening right now around a bank. So it's a very interesting discussion to be having right now.
MARTINEZAnd as a Wells Fargo customer myself, I get shaken. When I heard the news, I was like what? I wondered -- I had to check everything. I think I'm okay, but you know, you hope that people in charge fix things or at least address things. And who knows, right?
SINDERBRANDAnd it's worth noting, of course, one of the largest investors in Wells Fargo is Warren Buffett. Who is, of course, a very prominent supporter of Hillary Clinton.
MARTINEZAll right, my guests today are Rebecca Sinderbrand, Deputy National Political Editor with the Washington Post. Jeff Mason, White House Correspondent, Reuters. And Susan Glasser, Editor of Politico. My thanks to all three of you.
MASONThanks for having us.
MARTINEZI'm A Martinez of "Take Two" on KPCC Southern California Public Radio, sitting in for Diane Rehm. Thank you very much for listening.
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