America’s Collision Course With The Debt Ceiling
As the nation counts down to default, Diane talks to longtime Congress watcher Norm Ornstein about the debt limit negotiations, what's at stake and whether he sees a way forward.
Guest Host: Amy Walter
The presidential race tightens as Florida and Nevada move back to battleground status. Republicans turn their focus to down-ballot races. And some Affordable Care Act premiums are set to rise sharply next year. A panel of journalists joins Diane for analysis of the week’s top national news stories.
MS. AMY WALTERThanks for joining us. I'm Amy Walter of the Cook Political Report sitting in for Diane Rehm. She'll be back on Monday. Both Obamas hit the campaign trail for Hillary Clinton this week with the race tightening in Trump's favor in some key states. Fireworks erupt on Fox News as host Megyn Kelly and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich spar over the ongoing allegations of sexual assault in the presidential campaign. And new data on the Affordable Care Act shows some Americans could be facing higher premiums.
MS. AMY WALTERHere to talk about the week's top stories for our domestic news roundup, Susan Glasser of Politico, Rebecca Sinderbrand of The Washington Post, and David Rennie of The Economist. Thank you all for being here.
MR. DAVID RENNIEHello.
MS. SUSAN GLASSERThank you.
MS. REBECCA SINDERBRANDYeah, good morning.
WALTERGlad to be here with all of you on Friday. We also want to be with you, our listeners. We're going to take your comments, questions throughout the hour. You can call us at 800-433-8850. You can send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can join us on Facebook or Twitter. And because it's Friday, we're doing a live video stream of this hour. You can see just how wonderfully beautiful all of the guests here in the studio are.
WALTEROkay, you guys, we are so close. We are 11 days from this election being over. Rebecca, I want to start with you and start with the sort of big picture right now, looking at the polling because it seems to me that we've taken a little bit of turn in the polling in the last 48 hours or so. A week ago, The Washington Post polls showed Hillary Clinton up by double digits. Today, their tracking poll comes out and it's only, what is it, five points? Four points?
SINDERBRANDIt's four points. That's right.
WALTERSo what's happening?
SINDERBRANDSo you know, the polls have been all over the place. We have to kind of separate this, as you know, into kind of two polling stories. The first is what we're seeing right now at this moment, the kind of snapshot in time, which is it looks like a slight narrowing from where this was a week ago. On the other hand, there is the big picture, long term polling trend, which over the course of this campaign has been remarkably consistent with Hillary Clinton having a slight advantage over Donald Trump. That has not changed.
WALTERAnd is there anything in the polling that you've seen, you know, especially whether it's The Washington Post poll or others, that explains why it got closer?
SINDERBRANDThat’s right. Well, so the kind of the clues we've seen at least in our own tracking polls have been, first of all, Republicans. Some Republicans coming home. The prospect of a Hillary Clinton presidency doing a bit to kind of boost Republican enthusiasm. We are seeing, as many others have found, that people who are voting for Donald Trump at this moment are driven more by their aversion to Hillary Clinton than they are by love for Donald Trump. So you know, that's a pretty big motivator.
SINDERBRANDAnd he's working that as much as he can and also, you know, we're seeing that in some areas, Hillary Clinton's favorables, on the other hand, have eased a bit. They are getting a little better. It's perhaps in contrast. So you have these two trends. But what's driving the kind of narrowing that we're seeing is the Republican enthusiasm. There was a fairly significant gap as recently as a week ago. It's narrowed slightly at least in our numbers.
WALTERAnd Susan, is this what we're seeing at some of the state level polling as well, states that may be a little bit closer or is it -- does it still, as Rebecca pointed out, look as if the battleground map is not that much different than it was a week or two ago?
GLASSERWell, that's where the story probably is a bit a stronger, even, for Hillary Clinton. And, again, she's leading both in the national tracking polls and in key battleground states with a few important exceptions, of course. But basically, you know, states that Trump thought he would be competitive in, he is not competitive in, states like Virginia, Colorado, which early on were perceived to be important states for him to win, he does not seem to be competitive in.
GLASSEROther battleground states like Pennsylvania, it might be a lagging indicator, but so far, the polls still show a very wide lead there, although you also have the Clinton campaign aggressively campaigning there and surrogates and a sense that that state is still in play even though the actual numbers don't indicate it. And that's what I would say, pulling back to this sort of 11 days out, what are we talking about? As Rebecca pointed out, the polls are remarkably consistent, which is that Hillary Clinton, you know, has had a lead all along.
GLASSERAnd certainly, when you look at the electoral college map, you know, she looks in a strong position going into it. And yet, right, dot, dot, dot, and yet everything about 2016 has felt exceptional to us so now increasingly, I'm getting, and I'm sure you're getting, all these questions like, well, is there some hidden pool of Trump voters? Is there -- is the model for these surveys off? Is there anything we're missing? It seems in a rational sense that we have a strong, clear view of what the likely outcome is.
GLASSEROn the other hand, it feels like a very irrational moment in American politics. So I think that's, more than any individual poll, that's what we're struggling with, the bottom line is no presidential candidate in recent memory has ever overcome a deficit of this size, this close to the election, period. The only guy ever to come back from a disadvantage in October of the presidential year was Ronald Reagan back in 1980 and that was basically a three-point deficit that he overcame.
GLASSERSo let's just stipulate to the fact that were Donald Trump to pull off an upset, it would be an enormous upset that would go against all historical precedent that would, given the wide range of polling that we have both nationally and at the state level, would implicate every single poll ever.
WALTEREvery single pollster in all of the...
GLASSERYeah, and talk about a conspiracy.
WALTER...United States, yeah.
GLASSERIt would literally involve every single model being used by every single person being wrong.
WALTERAnd David, let's look at the battleground map for a second because there are some states that have popped up on there that we've never talked about as potential swing states, Arizona, Utah.
RENNIEArizona, yeah, yeah.
WALTERTexas. So tell us what the battleground map today really looks like.
RENNIESo I think Utah is slightly a case on its own. I mean, essentially, it's still a Republican state. It's still a conservative state, but it's got specific Mormon issues. They were desperate to find someone who wasn't a bigot, who didn't seem to dislike religious minorities, which clearly resonates in Mormon history, the idea of expelling, you know, or persecuting one religious minority. You have this candidate, independent, conservative, ex-CIA officer, Evan McMullin, who is a Mormon.
RENNIEAnd, you know, that's a kind of out for Utah. So I think Utah is a special case. It's also 86 electoral college votes. Arizona is really interesting. There seems to be -- it's a classic example of we are seeing -- we may see ticket splitting, which we had thought was maybe, you know, going the way of the Dodo, it wasn't going to happen anymore, because John McCain's Senate race, if you talk to people there, he's not actually as vulnerable as people had assumed he would be because people saw, you know, Donald Trump, the big chunk of Latino voters in Arizona, changing demographics.
RENNIEHe had a tough primary. But actually, he seems to be in reasonable shape down there. People are making a distinction between him and the top of the ticket. But on the presidential level, it really does seem to be quite tight. I think, having just spent a long chunk of time out in the field in some swing states, I think that one thing -- Rebecca used the very useful phrase, people coming home. I think people who were saying that they weren't enthusiastic enough about their candidate to do the thing that they usually do to vote Republican or vote Democratic, I think that as we get close in the stakes are clearly high, that sort of self-indulgent sort of protest, sort of thing is fading.
RENNIEPeople are coming home. So you meet a bunch of ex-Bernie Sanders people who say, you know what, actually this is real. You know, I'm going to vote for Hillary Clinton. And I was in, for example, in Nevada last week. Now, the candidate there for the Senate, Joe Heck, disavowed Donald Trump after the Billy Bush tapes came out and you had a lot of people saying to reporters like me, I'm so angry with him for disavowing Donald Trump that I'm never going to vote for him.
RENNIEHe's not going to get my vote. But then, I went to a couple of events and I just kind of trotted around the room saying to people, what are you actually going to do? And they'd say, I'm really cross with him. He shouldn't have done it, but we need a Republican Senate because of the Supreme Court or whatever. So there's a kind of reality sinking in for an awful lot of people. What I think hasn't changed, and that's why I think, again, we should take seriously the fact that Hillary is still in the lead, is separate from that kind of enthusiasm, kind of sulking thing, there have been just gigantic numbers of people deserting Donald Trump consciously for Hillary Clinton.
RENNIESo the most fascinating group, I'd say, is college-educated white women, a group that used to go 50/50 between the two parties and they really have deserted Donald Trump. And that's another kind of protest enthusiasm thing that's a conscious rejection of one program in favor of another.
WALTERWell, and let's look at another one of those states that has popped up. Like, Arizona, Georgia is another diverse state, a state that Democrats had hoped in 2008 that maybe Barack Obama can win. That's also very competitive. And Rebecca, we're also hearing about some issues there between the ACLU and Secretary of State over some voting rights issues.
WALTERAnd, you know, can you tell us a little bit about that?
SINDERBRANDSo, yes, of course, there's a Republican secretary of state in Georgia, Ryan Kemp, and he's someone who has tangled in the past with Democrats and with voter registration groups over access. And so you have these complaints, these questions about whether all of the voters who've been registered have made it onto the rolls, about whether access is being limited in terms of the number of polling places involved that are open in the most populous counties. Already, talk of people waiting in lines for hours for early voting.
SINDERBRANDSo that's very much an issue. I want to kind of circle back, just very briefly, talking about the reality on the ground in the swing states and something we, you know, haven't really touched on is that fact that, you know, we had the new fundraising numbers come out. And Donald Trump in a huge disadvantage heading into the home stretch beyond which his infrastructure on the ground already was just, you know, we...
WALTERYeah, tell us those numbers because they're pretty striking.
SINDERBRANDIt's pretty amazing. Hillary Clinton has more than 2.5 times as much money in the bank heading into the final weeks of the campaign. And, you know, we've heard all along from Donald Trump he's willing to spend, you know, $100 million on this race and yet, the one number that's been shooting all over the Internet for the past few hours, donating roughly $31,000 or so of his own money in the first 20 days of the month. That's $30,000.
WALTERThousand, not 30 million, yeah.
SINDERBRANDNot 30 million.
WALTERWe just need to take a quick break, but coming up, we're going to have more of the Friday News Roundup. You can see all of our guests on our live video stream at drshow.org. We'll be right back.
WALTERWelcome back. I'm Amy Walter with the Cook Political Report sitting in for Diane Rehm. I'm here today for the Domestic News Roundup with Susan Glasser, who's an editor at Politico, Rebecca Sinderbrand, deputy political editor at The Washington Post, and David Rennie, who's the Washington bureau chief and Lexington columnist -- I love saying that -- at The Economist. Remember, you can watch us live. Our video is -- we have video streaming at drshow.org. And of course you can always tweet and email us and call at 800-433-8850.
WALTERI want to move right now, David Rennie, to the closing arguments that these candidates are making right now in these last 11 days. You spent some time in North Carolina with both of these candidates. Tell us a little bit about how they are, you know, their final message to voters here.
RENNIESo with Donald Trump, I was -- I watched him do a rally where he flies in, in his Boeing 757 into an airfield. He did this in Kinston, N.C., on Wednesday night. And you saw the strengths and the weaknesses of the Trump campaign we've seen all along, that at some levels, when it comes to kind of shear sort of theater, he's really, really effective. So this big plane lands. The speakers blast out the theme from "Air Force One," that Harrison Ford action movie. The crowd is going absolutely crazy.
RENNIEHe then has, when he sticks to his notes, a pretty punchy, conservative kind of message -- the Supreme Court, lower your taxes, Obamacare premiums going through the roof, the latest WikiLeaks emails. And you think, wow, you know, he's pretty good at this. And then, he then noted that he'd been criticized for spending that morning opening his hotel in Washington. And he went on this kind of long ramble for several minutes about how he hardly gets home nowadays and he still has the energy to do these things. Whereas Hillary Clinton needs to sleep for three days after every speech.
RENNIEAnd anyway his kids had done a lot of good work on the hotel and isn't he allowed to -- and it was like, really? Really? Are we like 10 days from the election and you're doing this? And you could also see, he's got a fundamental problem. You know, where he sits right now, behind in the polls this close, he has two big jobs. One is to bring home essentially unhappy Romney voters who have always voted Republican in the past and certainly did last time, and he doesn't have them right now. He needs to do something to bring them home. He just isn't doing that. He's playing to his base. I mean, it wasn't just lock her up from the crowd. It was -- some people started shouting, burn her at the stake, at this rally.
RENNIEAnd you had people wearing deplorables badges, you know, adorable deplorable, I'm a deplorable. That makes them feel great. But, you know what? There are not 65 million voters in this country who want to call themselves deplorable. He's not growing his vote.
WALTERAnd yet he -- but he did propose, while he was in North Carolina, this new deal for black America.
WALTERSo what was that? And what was he trying to do here. I mean, obviously, as you pointed out, he's been speaking a lot to his base. He has historic low approval ratings with African-American voters.
RENNIEHe does. And he's getting, you know, 3 percent in some polls.
RENNIESo between cutting the ribbon at the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C., and landing at the rally that I saw in Kinston, he did a kind of classic candidate event in Charlotte, big, obviously, African-American city. And he met some church leaders and some civic leaders. And he offered a few policy details, the kind of stuff you hear, you know, tax breaks for small minority-owned businesses and things. But he wrapped it around with his usual kind of dystopian language about how, if you go out to buy a loaf of bread, you get shot, and how you don't have anything to lose.
RENNIEAnd the problem is that, when you talk to African-American voters, they do not hear someone who sounds sympathetic to their cause. They sound someone kind of deriding everything that they stand for.
WALTERI want to take a call here, as long as we are in -- talking about the 2016 campaign. This is Molly from South Bend, Ind. And, Molly, you're on the air. Thanks for joining us.
MOLLYThank you. Good morning, panel. I'm a long-time Hillary supporter. And what I'm worried about -- while the polls do look good -- is the apathetic voter who will say, well, I was Trump, but he's saying all these things, you know, especially women. And not necessarily jumping on the Hillary bandwagon but just the not voting at all or the write-in candidate vote.
MOLLYI was wondering how that might affect the election.
WALTERGreat. Thanks, Molly. Susan.
GLASSERWell, I think Molly is making an excellent point, which is this question of, you know, there are two ways to close the campaign, right? You know, positive, rally your people, bring in new people, and negative. And Donald Trump, as David pointed out, is closing negative. And that means, you know, driving down overall enthusiasm levels. We can all agree that, you know, also it's been a pretty icky set of conversations ever since the Trump tape emerged. And so this enthusiasm issue, I think, is a real question in terms of, you know, Hillary Clinton and how reliable are these polls?
GLASSERBecause the question is then, the pollsters are modeling who's going to actually turn out to vote. And if this year is somehow different, that's where you would see the difference turn up, in the composition of the electorate. That being said -- and I think this is an important point to make when you talk about why is Trump, on the one hand, really saying his program for black America. On the other hand, he has this dark, dystopian vision of urban America that seems drawn from like, sort of, race war in the 1970s. And, you know, he doesn't seem to be genuinely pitching for black votes.
GLASSERSo what is he doing? Well, there's a very interesting report in Business Week that came out yesterday that -- where there's Trump advisers openly talking about their vote suppression campaigns, in particular among the black community. The bottom line is that North Carolina, where Trump appeared, is a battleground state that will be won and lost on the percentage of turnout by African-American voters for Hillary Clinton. So Trump doesn't expect those people to vote for him. The question is how many come out and vote.
GLASSERBy the way, Hillary Clinton is extremely popular at this point with African-American voters. And there is the scenario in which she actually receives a higher percentage of the black vote -- and we're talking like way in the upper 90 percentages -- than Barack Obama, the first African-American president...
GLASSER...did in 2012. Not in 2008. I think that record will probably go unchallenged by him. But that's an extraordinary fact. And that speaks to the kind of campaign, in many ways, that Trump has run up until now, which has been encoded with a lot of sort of racially fraught rhetoric.
WALTERWell, this is a great, then, transition, Rebecca, to the fact that the Obamas have been very active with Hillary Clinton on the trail. Michelle Obama, for the first time, campaigning with Hillary Clinton yesterday in North Carolina. Tell us a little bit about what that looked like and what Hillary Clinton's closing message -- especially to people like Molly on it, worried about enthusiasm.
SINDERBRANDAbsolutely. You know, it's -- Michelle Obama has been the star of this campaign season. And, you know, there was no question, yesterday, at that event, that Hillary Clinton was the opening act. People were there to see the First Lady. You know, the interesting thing again also was, when you talk about the theater -- we've had this discussion all year long about cable networks and the way that they kind of zero-in on Donald Trump and these empty podiums -- you had cable networks cutting away from the Donald Trump rally to go live to the Hillary Clinton rally to see Michelle Obama speak. And, you know, they took all of Hillary Clinton's remarks.
SINDERBRANDSo that, right there, kind of gives you a sense of where people see the star power going. And Michelle Obama is presenting kind of a two-pronged message. She's presenting a very, very positive message. On the other hand, of course, she has been -- gone on the attack against Donald Trump. And she specifically spoke yesterday to the people saying, look, this is unprecedented for a First Lady to kind of take the message to this political, this partisan a place. And she said, you know, this is an unprecedented election.
WALTERIndeed. It has been unprecedented. Now Hillary Clinton has not had a great week though, take away the big rally with Michelle Obama. Two big issues came up this week. One is the announcement by the government that premiums for the health care exchanges are scheduled to go up in 2017. David, can you tell us a little bit about what we learned about the Obamacare and the cost issues and how do you think that's going to impact the race at this point?
RENNIESo in a normal election, with a normal Republican on the other side, this would have been a very bumpy week for the Democrats. Because this is something that sounds horrible and it's easy to explain and it's going to happen right now. So what this affects is basically people who buy their health insurance through the Obamacare exchanges. Now about 70 percent of those people, they're actually going to receive government subsidies that leave them more or less, you know, no worse off.
RENNIEThe people who are going to suffer are, say, self-employed people who don't -- who earn too much money to get government subsidies but they still buy their insurance through the exchanges. Now, they are going to be worse off, because the premiums are rising. And they're basically rising because the people who've turned out to sign up for Obamacare through the exchanges turn out, on the whole, to be sicker than the insurance companies were expecting. There are slightly fewer of them and the ones who've signed up are the ones who really need health care and they need it because they're sicker. So there a worse business proposition.
RENNIEThe government kind of knew this was going to happen. The big, interesting argument that will sort of last beyond the election is whether this is kind of a death spiral for Obamacare.
RENNIEMy colleagues, who are kind of up to their eyeballs in spreadsheets, tell me, it isn't. It's kind of bumpy, but it's not the death of Obamacare. But in political terms, if Donald Trump, say it again, were a more disciplined campaigner, this would be a really useful rallying cry for him. And you can see him, when he's reading off his teleprompter, he starts citing the numbers and they don't sound great. And certainly down-ballot Republicans, who are desperate to have an argument that sounds like a kind of traditional government messing stuff up, we're going to give the private sector a chance to kind of work with ordinary Americans, they love this.
RENNIEAnd you'll see, for example, the Koch brothers network, which has been spending big on the down-ballots, ignoring the presidential races, they've been kind of getting some pushback until recently. Because they've been running tons of ads about Obamacare and sort of smarty-pants strategists were saying, you know, why are you talking about Obamacare? That's the last elections issue. Now those people are saying, ha, see we're not so stupid. Because actually this resonates with voters. The problem is that you have a presidential ticket that is incapable of kind of capitalizing on this stuff. And then he starts talking about, you know, his hotels and how little he gets sleep and stuff.
GLASSERWell, and in fact he even bobbled it when it first came out and basically made it seem that he didn't offer health care to employees and that they were on Obamacare and isn't that terrible? And he seemed to be not in command of the facts either about his own employees or about Obamacare. And I think, you know, the collective groans of Republicans around the country could be heard, because in that -- even in that sort of first couple hours after this news came out, you saw him sort of almost signing away an issue that they needed to run on.
WALTERThere was another issue that came up, Susan, and I was just reading it in Politico this week, of some more of the leaked emails, the WikiLeaks, John Podesta, the chairman of Hillary Clinton's campaign was given a memo from a man named Doug Band, who is in the leadership at the Clinton Global Initiative. There was some pretty not good stuff in there about Bill Clinton. Can you tell us a little bit about what that was.
GLASSERWell, you know, I'm glad you raised it. Because I do think that in a different moment, news moment, we would be really focused on a pretty extraordinary revelation. We already had indications of this rift, really, that had occurred between President Bill Clinton and Doug Band, who had been his closest post-presidency staffer -- the guy who, together with Bill Clinton, built up the Clinton Foundation, left a few years ago to go out and build this sort of strategic consulting business called Teneo, which is now at the heart of questions, concerns and allegations around, is there too much of an overlap between, in effect, the Clinton Foundation's perceived good works and monetizing it for their -- and those connections for their personal benefit.
GLASSERAnd what happened, that's fascinating -- and, again, we had already had some indications of this, we at Politico reported it a year and a half ago -- Chelsea Clinton came into the Clinton Foundation to play a bigger role, also perhaps with her mother's future presidential campaign in mind, and she decided she needed basically to clean up dad's team at the Clinton Foundation. That provoked a furious internal fight, which we had only some glimpses of. She brought in a friend of hers from Yale, I believe, who was from McKenzie, to run Clinton Foundation. He was forced out after a period of time.
GLASSERAnd, you know, so we had a sense of this break. We had a sense that Doug Band was no longer so close to Bill Clinton. Still, this 13-page memo that turned up in the WikiLeaks to John Podesta from Doug Band was -- it was basically guns blazing against the former president, the guy who built his career.
GLASSERNot only was he criticizing Chelsea Clinton -- in previous emails that have come out, he called her a spoiled brat at one point and, you know, clearly saw himself in a power struggle with her -- but here in this memo, he's criticizing the president, the former president of the United States, basically for doing the things that Republicans have criticized him for, which is influence peddling and leveraging connections made for the Clinton Foundation and Clinton Foundation donors and turning them in to people who paid him personally, in a way that is very questionable.
GLASSERNow, Doug Band's purpose in this was very self serving. It was, see, if Bill Clinton can do it, why can't I? Why are you criticizing me? And I don't think he comes out all the better in this, but at the expense of Bill Clinton's reputation in some significant way.
WALTERI'm Amy Walter. You're listening to "The Diane Rehm Show." If you'd like to join us, call 1-800-433-8850. Send us an email to email@example.com. Find us on Facebook, send us a tweet. And don't forget, you can see all of our guests on our live video stream at drshow.org.
WALTERAnd to Susan's point, Rebecca, here's an email from Rob in Tulsa, where he asks, the Clinton campaign, any fear that the steady drip of emails will become increasingly toxic and embarrassing as we get closer to election day? I think Susan pointed out pretty clearly, they are embarrassing. The question is whether they're toxic to her chances and how this plays in for these last 11 days? Is there enough in here that could erode her support even further?
SINDERBRANDWell, certainly, you know, in a different environment. You know, I've said it before, I'll say it again, Hillary Clinton definitely owes Donald Trump a fruit basket or something for keeping this out of the news. On Earth 2, as people have said throughout this campaign, this is dominating conversation, this steady drip, drip of revelations. And yet, again, still, Donald Trump has managed to dominate the news.
SINDERBRANDAnd one of the ways he's done this, again, is -- I think we have to kind of think about his closing message in a couple of different ways. Yes, he's gone sharply negative. Yes, he's gone on the attack against Obamacare. And he has to some extent kind of glanced on the Clinton Foundation, though by no means zeroing-in on it the way some other candidate might have done. But he seems to be looking at his closing argument, in part, as a way -- almost offering a rationale for a possible or likely loss. I mean, we've seen this enemies list that he has started to unveil at these rallies and it's gotten very, very long. We're talking about pollsters and journalists and government statisticians and military leaders and, you know, people who he is specifically saying are working against him. So when you are focused on that and focused on that fight and almost rationalizing why the system is rigged against you personally, it's very difficult to then turn the attention...
SINDERBRAND...to someone else.
RENNIEI think there's also a sense -- and this is partly sort of more anecdotal, just out on the trail, week after week, than polling -- because so many of his base thinks she should be locked up in prison, you know, for, you know, they tell me that she's a murderer. Why don't journalists like me report that she's murdered people or, you know, that Benghazi, she, you know, she is directly to blame for the deaths of the American servicemen and the ambassador in Benghazi. Once you've made that case, it's kind of hard to get people to focus on, you know, what Doug Band did and with Bill Clinton.
RENNIEAnd I think there's a sense that they've, you know, they've thrown so much at her and there are so many conspiracy theories coming out. So it's not just that -- as Rebecca says correctly -- you know, he doesn't have the message discipline to focus on this, but also that he kind of jumped the shock so long ago by saying she should be in prison already and shouldn't be allowed to run. It's hard to kind of break through that. Because, you know, they're already kind of -- they've already indicted her of murder in their minds.
GLASSERRight. So if you've exploded facts, then it's hard to litigate the facts, basically.
WALTERWe're going to take another quick bake -- quick break. Coming up, your calls and your questions for our panel. Please stay tuned.
WALTERWelcome back. I'm Amy Walter with the Cook Political Report sitting in for Diane Rehm. I'm here today with Susan Glasser of Politico, Rebecca Sinderbrand of the Washington Post and David Rennie of The Economist. Well, it wasn't just Hillary Clinton that had a little bit of an awkward week. One of Donald Trump's surrogates got into something of a scrap earlier this week with Fox Host Megyn Kelly. I want to play a little bit of audio from that interaction and then go to our panelists to talk about this.
MEGYN KELLY...as a media story, we don't get to say the ten women are lying. We have to cover that story, sir.
MR. NEWT GINGRICHOh. Well, sure, okay. So it's worth 23 minutes of the three networks to cover that story and Hillary Clinton in a secret speech in Brazil to a bank that pays her 225,000 saying her dream is an open border where 600 million people could come to America, that's not worth covering.
KELLYThat is worth covering and we did.
GINGRICHAnd you want to go back through the tapes of your show recently. You are fascinated with sex and you don't care about public policy.
GINGRICHNow, that's what I get out of watching you tonight.
WALTERRebecca, that was kind of a fiery exchange. Two things I want to explore. The first is Newt Gingrich's overall point, which is even a network like Fox, he's saying that they are overselling the discussion about Donald Trump and his -- the women who've accused him of sexual harassment and not spending enough time about the stuff we just talked about, the WikiLeaks, et cetera. So, there's that piece I want you to dig into, as well as what is this fight between Megyn Kelly and Newt Gingrich?
WALTERIf you watch that entire exchange, she's definitely poking at him throughout that. So, does this suggest a deeper -- this is about the deeper rift within, sort of, the Republican establishment.
SINDERBRANDWell, I mean, we're going to have a very long conversation once this election is over. You know, you're just waiting for November 9th. It feels like a lot of people are going to have a lot to say, particularly in the conservative media sphere. I think, you know, to speak about Newt Gingrich and just kind of putting him in the constellation of Trump surrogates more broadly, they have made headlines quite a bit this election, not necessarily for the reasons that a traditional campaign might have wanted them to.
SINDERBRANDAnd, you know, Newt Gingrich right there, you saw that moment, you know, you can't see it right here, because we're on radio, but in that moment, Megyn Kelly looked as though she needed instant replay on reality. That she did not quite believe that she had heard what she had just heard. And that may have been the reaction of a lot of people. So again, if you're trying to reach those more traditional Republican Romney voters, that is perhaps not the best way to reach them.
SINDERBRANDTo his larger point, that is a point that Donald Trump has made time and time again, made a centerpiece of his closing argument. The idea that the media is not doing its job, that it's not focusing enough on the issues with Clinton and the Clinton campaign. This kind of steady, steady drip, drip of revelations about what was going on in the Clinton Foundation and those sorts of issues. I think, you know, one thing we have to circle back to, and we've said it time and again, Donald Trump is a big reason that we are talking about Donald Trump's issues.
SINDERBRANDHe raises it himself consistently. And in addition to that, one of the reasons that many of these women that we've seen start to come forward have cited, for having come forward, is his comments at the debate about these allegations to begin with. So, the fact that we're having this steady stream of women coming forward with these new allegations and the fact that Trump continues to respond to these allegations. He's threatened lawsuits against these women, you cannot not mention that.
SINDERBRANDParticularly when these allegations are -- some of them are essentially criminal in nature. And so that is something that -- these are fresh, these are new. And we're going to have a conversation about that which is not to say as Megyn Kelly tried to point out, you know, she has in fact covered that story. It just hasn't gotten the pickup. And a lot of times when we have this conversation about media bias, one of the things you find is that people are less speaking about whether or not a story has been covered than whether or not it has gotten the sort of reaction from the public that they would like to see.
SINDERBRANDAnd, you know, the fact of the matter is, for whatever reason, the public is more fascinated by, more drawn to the coverage of these Donald Trump issues than it has been the coverage of emails and the Clinton Foundation. You know, we can speculate endlessly as to why, but we can't force people to take it our coverage.
GLASSERWell, I mean, a couple quick points. Those are all really good points. I would just add, number one, you know, it's a tough row to hoe when you're saying Fox News is bias against the Republican candidate. Secondly that the context that really made the part about accusing Megyn Kelly to be obsessed with sex, such a jaw dropper coming from Newt Gingrich, who is a man who had to leave his position as Speaker of the House because he was conducting an extramarital affair while also going after Bill Clinton and impeaching him.
GLASSERSo, the idea, and I think that in general, that's been the issue with Newt Gingrich, with Rudy Giuliani, another prominent Trump surrogate, and with Trump himself, is that they seem to be, time and again, raising the issue and injecting the issue of gender into the campaign at a time when women are deserting the Republican Party in historic numbers. And that is the broad frame context here is that no matter what happens on November 8th, we're going to have the most gender divided election and electorate that we've ever had before.
GLASSERAnd this seems to be playing right into it in a way, that's a little bit mystifying. Because, you know, all of our conversation today about the polls and about what is Donald Trump's strategy, and why is he pitching to his core voters. Let's remember that we talk about him having a problem shoring up Mitt Romney Republican voters. Mitt Romney lost. You know, if you, if you get all of the votes that Mitt Romney had in 2012, you lose. And so, you know, that's what's really amazing about this being so close to the election.
GLASSERIs that Trump has a problem even getting the sort of Republican base, and that's largely because of Republican women. Megyn Kelly on conservative Fox News -- they're going to war with her. How is that going to help them get the Republican women's vote that they need, even in order to draw back to the level of Mitt Romney's performance in 2012.
SINDERBRANDAnd, and I would just add, you know, you speak about kind of the -- this is the most gendered election. No matter who were to win the presidency, whether it's Donald Trump or whether it's Hillary Clinton, this issue will not go away. It will remain a part of the conversation. It's impossible to see issues of gender not entering into the conversation about the interaction between Hillary Clinton and Republican leaders in Congress. Or Donald Trump and virtually anyone. And so, this is going to remain a challenge for the Republican Party.
WALTERI wanted to switch gears for a second. It's almost impossible to pull us away from the campaign, but other things have happened this week. Including something that just happened yesterday. And that is the story of the Bundy brothers. They and five others were acquitted of federal conspiracy and weapons charges. If you remember, back last year, they had taken over a wildlife refuge in Oregon. David, maybe you can tell us a little bit about that case and a little about what -- how the decision was reached. It was a jury decision.
RENNIESo, in the next, sort of, few hours and days, we'll learn more about the jury's reasoning, no doubt. But there is a strong, sort of, sense that this is -- there's a big thing on the sort of, the anti-government right about jury nullification. This appeal to juries to understand that as Americans, they have the power to say the law is unjust. And that they shouldn't convict on the basis of a law that they dislike. And that was certainly the strategy being pursued by the Bundies.
RENNIESome of whom represented themselves in court. They also had some lawyers who are very much in that kind of movement. An anti-federal government, kind of, you know, the Constitution is the only law that counts. If that's what explains this, on the face of it, extraordinary kind of acquittal on all accounts, that's a big deal. Because that shows that a court in Portland, Oregon was essentially agreeing with a pretty far out message that the federal government really doesn't have the right to control land.
RENNIEThat the entire Constitutional basis on which things like the Bureau of Land Management control vast tracks of the west is, is kind of flawed. And that, I mean, let's remember, federal prosecutors were saying the charge was that the Bundies and their allies had prevented federal officials from doing their job because they had, with arms strapped to their hips, taken over the Malheur Wildlife Refuge and stopped federal officers from going to their place of work, which is the Malheur Wildlife Refuge.
RENNIEIt doesn't look a very hard case to try. But the Bundies and their -- and the other defendants said that they were political protestors, that this was a much broader argument about the federal government's overreach and tyranny. And the jury acquitted them on all charges. I mean, there are some other protestors who'd already earlier pleaded guilty. So we don't know now what happens to them, because they had accepted that the law said what the law said. But this jury has taken this extraordinary step.
RENNIEAnd things are in a real, kind of foment down there. I was in that area of Oregon a few weeks ago for a column on another proposed national monument that they're thinking of opening down there. And there really is a sense that the BLM, the Bureau of Land Management, is slightly under siege. I mean, people, people shoot at these BLM agents and their vehicles all the time. This is a very, kind of, strange tense situation. It should be said that the ranchers who live right there in that place, they're pretty unhappy with the Bundies.
RENNIEThey say the Bundies came from Nevada. Most of the protestors came from other states. That although they don't like the way that the federal government, you know, regulates them, they don't actually want the federal government to go away completely. And so, actually, there is a sense that outside anti-government groups and some of these militias are gloming onto this particular, kind of, patch of land in eastern Oregon to try and make their case.
RENNIEBut legally, this is an extraordinary decision and I think is -- you're already seeing people near the federal government looking very, very anxious about what this means.
WALTERWell, that is a great transition too, to a lot of emails we're getting about this case and its relationship to another standoff we're seeing. The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and the discussion there. And one -- this is an email from Stewart, and he says that if the Bundy clan was acquitted, why can't the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe peacefully demonstrate? This is about the proposed pipeline going through their land. Law enforcement let the Bundy clan occupy a federal facility with a well-armed force. Meanwhile, law enforcement shows up in militarized riot gear with air support to address primarily peaceful protestors.
SINDERBRANDYeah, and this is a conversation -- it's almost impossible, it feels impossible to remove from this political moment where we are right now. You know, as you said, this sense of, among some, that seems to be driving the Trump phenomenon -- that government is overreaching and there's tyranny and they're pushing back. It's, you know, a bunch of angry people pushing back against the government and that's what we saw in Oregon. The other thing that you saw last night, very quickly, and you know, comparisons not only to this protest in the Sioux Reservation.
SINDERBRANDBut people kind of raising the question of let's assume for a moment that these were Muslim extremists that had taken over a federal building with arms. How might the reaction have been? How might the jury have reacted? And so, that sort of conversation as well.
GLASSERWell, I think that's an excellent point, and, you know, the other thing that occurred to me, right, is that basically you can look at this as a free speech issue, right? Their argument, essentially, was we're engaging in protest, but you, at the same time, have a Republican nominee who's both appealing to this sort of activist, armed segment of white America. On the other hand, Donald Trump is not someone who takes an expansive view of free speech. And we know that as representatives of these organizations that have been banned by Donald Trump, repeatedly, from even covering his rallies.
GLASSERHe's said that he wants to change the definition of how liable laws would apply to American journalists. And, you know, you can't have one first Amendment for guys in the West who are waging a noble protest and another First Amendment that doesn't apply, right, to Muslim Americans or other banned groups. So, I think that that's really the contradiction at the heart of it in the middle of this campaign season, it seems, like, hard to escape.
WALTERI'm Amy Walter. You're listening to The Diane Rehm Show. Finally, there is a couple of big stories in the world of telecommunications this week. Just the other day, the FCC ruled, had new rules for consumers' privacy online, for content providers. David, what can you tell us about the FCC ruling?
RENNIESo, the FCC, essentially, came down against internet service providers. And said that they -- they imposed some pretty strict restrictions on the ability to which the people who kind of pipe the internet to your house or to your place of work and sell your data to -- whether your location data or things that you've been searching for to marketers. And there's an interesting distinction starting to be drawn here between the companies that look a bit like old fashioned utilities.
RENNIEThat you pay them a bill and they deliver the internet to your house like water or gas. And companies that seem to be giving you something for free. Like Google giving you Gmail for free. Consumers seem to make a distinction in their minds between if I'm getting Facebook or Gmail for free, then I kind of understand that there's a tradeoff. That at some level, it's not a surprise when on the side of my email, there's lots of ads for squash rackets, because I did buy a squash racket last week, or I at least Googled searching for squash rackets last week.
RENNIESo people are aware that when stuff comes for free, then kind of you're the product. But when people are paying a bill every month, and it's more like a utility, they do seem to be very uncomfortable with the idea of those utility companies kind of double dipping. Charging you a bill and then selling your data.
WALTERAnd this is coming, of course, at the same time that AT&T and Time Warner announcing a partnership, exactly for the reason that David makes. Which is AT&T saying we need to be able to get content and we need to be able to find other ways to make money.
SINDERBRANDYou know, and you have a lot of entertainment companies right now who are trying to say, look, you know, what we're seeing in terms of this takeover attempt, it's not going to make for big changes. You know what? There are big changes coming. I mean, you look at someone, not to point to myself, but I'm someone in my 30s who has not had cable television for nearly a decade now. And I am by no means alone. I don't -- most of my friends don't either. And that's in part because the industry has been extremely slow to evolve and change into the way Americans are starting to get their news, get their information.
SINDERBRANDWant to get their entertainment. And so, these changes need to take place. There need to be, you know, the unbundling of these channels. All of these different issues, and perhaps this is the first step.
GLASSERWell, it's interesting, though, because it's not at all a foregone conclusion that this deal would actually...
GLASSER...and it's not subject to review by the Anti-Trust Division of the Justice Department and there is, you know, those people who understand it a lot better than I do, think that there's almost a 50/50 shot as to whether it ultimately goes through.
SINDERBRANDCongressional hearings coming as well.
WALTERWell, I mean, right. We're at a time, of course, when the idea of big mergers, rigged elections, the talk of big corporate (unintelligible) has been pretty hot. But I guess the question, I don't know if anybody here can answer this, is if NBC and Comcast were approved, is there a reason why AT&T and Time Warner would not be?
RENNIEYou certainly see Time Warner and AT&T making that argument, that theirs is a vertical integration. They're in two different business sectors, effectively, and that will all be kind of fine. I think one of the big problems for us in the media industry is, you know, what we do is expensive. I mean, all this flying around to swing states and sending people to mountaintops in Afghanistan, it's hard to do it off the digital only models that -- I mean, Politico is a tremendous success with a digital only model.
RENNIEBut the kind of the full service news operation is very expensive. So although, you know, we at The Economist absolutely live for kind of competition rules being, you know, enforced very strictly. We don't like big monopolies. There is a sense that, you know, we're a bit like these kind of big old dinosaurs, you know? And every time one of these deals doesn't go through, there's another kind of, you know, Brachiosaurus, kind of, falls in the woods somewhere. Because the new upstart models, the kind of Bush babies on the floor of the primeval forest, they don't pay for the full service news that used to be a staple.
WALTERWow. You have Brachiosaurus, the floor of the primordial forest. That is impressive. They should be paying you. They should be paying you much more. That is all the time we have for the domestic news roundup. I want to thank my guests. Susan Glasser from Politico, Rebecca Sinderbrand from the Washington Post, and David Rennie of dinosaur fame from The Economist. I'm Amy Walter with the Cook Political Report. I've been sitting in for Diane Rehm. Thanks for listening.
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