CLEVELAND, OH - NOVEMBER 02:  The Chicago Cubs celebrate after defeating the Cleveland Indians 8-7 in Game Seven of the 2016 World Series at Progressive Field on November 2, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio. The Cubs win their first World Series in 108 years.  (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)

CLEVELAND, OH - NOVEMBER 02: The Chicago Cubs celebrate after defeating the Cleveland Indians 8-7 in Game Seven of the 2016 World Series at Progressive Field on November 2, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio. The Cubs win their first World Series in 108 years. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)

Polls show the presidential race tightening in the final days of the campaign. President Obama criticizes the FBI’s handling of a new investigation into Hillary Clinton’s emails. And the Chicago Cubs win the World Series for the first time since 1908. A panel of journalists joins Diane for analysis of the week’s top national news stories.


  • Susan Page Washington bureau chief, USA Today
  • Ron Elving Senior Washington editor, NPR News
  • Ruth Marcus Deputy editorial page editor and columnist, The Washington Post
  • Jonah Goldberg Senior editor, National Review

Live Video


  • 10:06:54

    MS. DIANE REHMAnd thanks for joining us. I'm Diane Rehm broadcasting live from the Knight studio at the Newseum in Washington, D.C. (applause) Thank you. Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump make their final pushes in key states ahead of Election Day. More than 30 million Americans cast their ballots in early voting and the Chicago Cubs break the curse and win the World Series for the first time in 108 years.

  • 10:07:39

    MS. DIANE REHMHere for the domestic hour of the Friday News Roundup, Susan Page of USA Today, Ron Elving of NPR, Ruth Marcus of The Washington Post and Jonah Goldberg of The National Review. For our listening audience, we will not be taking your calls today. We will, instead, be taking questions from our live audience here at the Newseum as well as from your emails and your tweets.

  • 10:08:20

    MS. DIANE REHMSo this morning, Susan, we got new job numbers. What do they tell us?

  • 10:08:26

    MS. SUSAN PAGEAnd employment is down at 4.9 percent. We saw some growth in wages, that is good news. And I think we already see this data reflected in people's attitudes toward the direction of the country and toward, particularly, President Obama. You know, he has had a resurgence in his approval rating. It's now over 50 percent in just about every national poll. So I think that this is helpful, if you're looking at the political impact, which is, of course, what we're all doing just a few days before the election.

  • 10:08:57

    MS. SUSAN PAGEI think it's probably helpful for Hillary Clinton because the better the incumbent president is doing, the better that is for the candidate from his party.

  • 10:09:04

    REHMJonah, do you agree?

  • 10:09:06

    MR. JONAH GOLDBERGYeah, I agree with all of that. I do think, though, that, you know, we tend to look at these jobs reports numbers and say, aha, this is going to be a game-changer and -- or have impact, and the reality is that they're a lagging indicator, that the people on the ground have experienced whatever this jobs report is reflecting already. So in some ways, I think it's already priced into a lot of the polling that we've got. At the same time, it's not bad news, which is very good for Hillary Clinton.

  • 10:09:35

    REHMGood news.

  • 10:09:36

    GOLDBERGAnd very good for Barack Obama because it doesn't change the narrative in ways that would be beneficial to Donald Trump.

  • 10:09:43

    REHMHow do you see it, Ruth?

  • 10:09:45

    MS. RUTH MARCUSI think, actually, the lag can go the opposite direction as well and I'm thinking about an improving economy that was clearly improving, but voters hadn't felt it yet. That did not help George H.W. Bush when he was running for reelection, even though things were getting better, but voters kind of didn't know they were getting better. This is a different situation, though,.

  • 10:10:09

    MS. RUTH MARCUSIt is helpful, but marginally helpful for a couple reasons. One is that we've had so much early voting already and the other is the lag. It's much better for Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, but certainly for Hillary Clinton, than that alternative, but not, you know, not even close to game-changer.

  • 10:10:29

    REHMAnd Ron Elving.

  • 10:10:31

    MR. RON ELVINGNo news is good news in a sense and this is going to have a very hard time breaking through. If we had seen some sort super dramatic numbers on the upside, it would have looked fishy and if we had seen some terrible numbers on the downside, that would've broken through. That would've been a bad story for the Clinton campaign, a kind of final confirmation to the much more negative view of the economy that we've been hearing from Donald Trump and Republicans in general, but especially from Trump who has portrayed, particularly the job situation and the wage level as being dire to the point of revolution.

  • 10:11:06

    REHMSo that drop to 4.9 percent, does that figure stand out in people's minds?

  • 10:11:15

    PAGEI think it -- oh, I think getting below 5 percent, that that's the kind of level that people say, oh, it's below 5 percent. Remember, it was 10 percent when Barack Obama took office. So that is a pretty healthy number. But you know, for the people who are supporting Donald Trump because they're worried about jobs, this number does not address their concerns because their concerns are quite long term, over the long term loss of manufacturing and middle class jobs in places like Ohio and Pennsylvania and Michigan.

  • 10:11:43

    PAGESo it's like -- it's good news and as you said, it's not bad news. Maybe that's another way of saying it's good news. But it doesn't undercut the kind of unhappiness that has been responsible for Donald Trump's success.

  • 10:11:55

    REHMAll right, and...

  • 10:11:55

    MARCUSHowever, if you -- I'm sorry, but if you are Hillary Clinton, you can talk about 4.9 percent unemployment rate, you can talk about, I believe, the first rise in real wages since 2008 of, you know, a very healthy amount, 2.8 percent. You can talk about 73 months, I think it is, of continued job growth. That's a pretty good argument to be able to make if you're essentially arguing for a third Obama term.

  • 10:12:26


  • 10:12:26

    GOLDBERGEspecially -- but that would be mostly true if this campaign had any semblance of being about issues or facts. And I'm sure on Earth II, right now, they're having a wonderful substantive debate about issues and facts, but that -- I think going into this weekend, particularly given that every Friday -- not every Friday, but every time we've had a major news development, an "Access Hollywood" video or anything like that, it's dropped on a Friday. I would not be surprised if by the time we leave this studio, some horrific face-melting, the Potomac has turned to blood, kind of thing is released by someone.

  • 10:13:02

    REHMWell, that's just great. All right. Let's talk about early voting and it's setting records all across the country. 37 states plus the District of Columbia have already had voting. This is record-breaking.

  • 10:13:24

    ELVINGIt is and I think it augers a change. One of the many ways in which this is the first election of the 21st century. It's not the first time we've had early voting, not the first time we've had Twitter, not the first time we've had many other things, but it is the first time they have played a role so dramatic and salient as they're playing right now. As you say, more than 70 percent of the states now have early voting and we expect that something like a third or approaching a third at least, of the voters will, in some sense or another, vote other than in the traditional fashion.

  • 10:13:53

    ELVINGEither by mail, three states now are exclusively by mail, Colorado, Oregon and Washington, and we also expect that lot of people are going to show up and vote in person early. That has become increasingly popular. And if a third of the people are voting early, I suspect that as we go forward, next cycle, the cycle after that, unless some kind of big problem develops with the early voting -- and actually, that is easier to count and to count accurately than to look for a crush on November 8th.

  • 10:14:20

    ELVINGUnless there's some big problem that develops, I expect this will become more or less normative.

  • 10:14:24

    REHMBut how predictive is this early voting? What could happen next Tuesday? Ruth.

  • 10:14:33

    MARCUSWell, the early voting gives the campaigns a chance to assess who it is that's turning out, where they need to concentrate their resources. And so it's a good indicator for campaigns that are in a position because they are organized and operating like real campaigns, and you can tell which campaign I'm talking about here, to really mobilize their resources in appropriate and effective ways.

  • 10:15:01

    MARCUSThe other impact of early voting, of course, is that many people have voted before some of the latest developments and before, as Jonah says, the Potomac turns to blood, so that to the extent that there is a trend in one direction or another, the early voting kind of obviates or mitigates that trend.

  • 10:15:21

    PAGEYou know, Diane, I think this is a huge advantage for Hillary Clinton, number one because she has the kind of infrastructure to monitor who's voted and who hasn't so she can turn out her vote. Also, we know that Democrats tend to dominate -- in swing states, Democrats tend to dominate in the early voting. Republicans tend to dominate on Election Day. So to get those Democratic votes in the bank are very important.

  • 10:15:42

    PAGEIt also enables them to look at things like Hispanic turnout has been up in early voting. African-American turnout has been down. That's been a big red flag for the Clinton campaign and you've seen them respond by dispatching Barack Obama, among others, out specific with a message that's is very much targeted at African-American voters to get them out to vote early.

  • 10:16:00

    GOLDBERGYeah, I would say, first of all, just as a matter of full disclosure, I am against early voting or the prevalence of early voting as a matter of civics. I think that as a culture, it's very good to have something called Election Day where everybody has a deadline that focuses the mind and you don't have situations like we've had this last week where Donald Trump is going around in Wisconsin saying, everybody, you can change your vote if you've already voted.

  • 10:16:24

    GOLDBERGI think that it actually lessens civic commitment to voting and -- but we can have that conversation another time. I -- Sean Trende had a very good piece at RealClearPolitics today about over reading early vote totals because it is not like a poll. It is, you know, one thing that social scientists or the political scientists have settled on -- have all agree on is, at least historically, the most intense partisans are the ones who vote earliest because they know they're not going to change their mind. They're the ones that the party knows how to reach out to and flip the switch on and all the rest.

  • 10:16:59

    GOLDBERGAnd so on Election Day, to a certain extent, the undecideds, the waverers, the ticket-splitters, they're ones that are going to be overrepresented on Election Day and therefore, it becomes very difficult to draw a predictive straight like, except for the Hispanic part, which I think is really significant, from what the early voting totals are versus what Election Day totals are.

  • 10:17:23

    REHMWe have a tweet from James asking, "with massive early voting, how confident are you in the polls?" Ruth.

  • 10:17:34

    MARCUSI think that no one should be hugely confident in the polls because we've seen issues before. We've seen issues in other countries with polls. I think that -- and many of these states are extremely close. I do want to say just in contrast to Jonah, 'cause I share his romantic attachment to the notion of standing in line with my neighbors on Election Day, no -- and I've really enjoyed, but I have a kind of bigger romantic attachment to the notion of making participation in democracy easier.

  • 10:18:09

    MARCUSSo this was my first election early voting. I did it on Sunday and actually with a bunch of people from my community and I thought it was great. And I think as nice as it is to imagine that the difficulties of Election Day are a problem...

  • 10:20:02

    REHMAnd welcome back to our Friday News Roundup, the domestic hour here at the Knight Auditorium in the Newseum in Washington, D.C. We have four guests with us, Ron Elving of NPR, Jonah Goldberg of the National Review, Susan Page of USA Today, and Ruth Marcus of The Washington Post. We've seen a lot about the latest national polls. What are they telling us, Ron?

  • 10:20:42

    ELVINGThe race is close. Most people would have said -- I think most academics and most people in both campaigns would have said they expected it to be close. Whether they really did or not, for many, many months they would have said we expect the race to get close at the end. This is not untypical. However, it also coincides with the change of news atmosphere and general attitude towards the election that was occasioned by James Comey's decision to talk about what was going on internally at the FBI regarding the discovery of some more emails on Anthony Weiner's laptop. And I'm sure you can fill in all the further details.

  • 10:21:22

    ELVINGThat has been a dominant storyline and fits beautifully into the closing narrative of Donald Trump, is the most annoying, if -- at minimum, and perhaps destructive thing that could happen to Hillary Clinton in the closing two weeks of the campaign. And so we are still processing that, we're still working through the shock of that. We're still waiting to see if Mr. Comey might pop out this afternoon and tell us something more. Not to predict that, not to even anticipate it, but it is Friday afternoon, as Jonah said.

  • 10:21:51


  • 10:21:51

    PAGEThere's been a huge -- this would have been a huge change in the temperature since a week ago, since last Friday morning. Last Friday morning, Hillary Clinton was planning to have a positive close where she would talk about reasons to vote for her, not just against Donald Trump. A week ago, we thought the Senate was almost certain to switch to Democratic control and there was even speculation about whether the House could be in play, although that was always unlikely. But in -- since the FBI director's announcement a week ago, that has shifted. Things have gotten tighter.

  • 10:22:22

    PAGEThere was a poll -- a Suffolk University poll out of New Hampshire yesterday afternoon that -- in which they asked, did Comey's announcement make you more or less likely to support Hillary Clinton? Forty-nine percent of voters in New Hampshire said it made them less likely to support her. And New Hampshire is the kind of independent state where that is a -- where the effect of this I think probably was pretty outsized and is one reason her comfortable lead in New Hampshire is now pretty much an even-up race. This is a different contest than we would have been talking about a week ago.

  • 10:22:51

    REHMAnd now, Jonah, you've got President Obama out there publicly talking about Director Comey.

  • 10:23:01

    GOLDBERGRight, which I -- first of all, I just want to say on the polling front, I think that -- or the Comey front, in terms of the poll, both of these candidates, whenever they are in the limelight of the media, whenever the media's more focused on them than the other candidate, they do badly. And so whatever -- because the American people, by large numbers, don't like either of these candidates. And they're basically voting against the other one. And so I think, even if you take out the substance of the Comey announcement, just the simple fact that the media moved the spotlight that way was a big deal.

  • 10:23:33

    GOLDBERGI, look, I think personally that we are in a serious mess that is largely -- that Hillary Clinton is largely the author of. It was her decision to set us off on this path with her server and the way she's handled it. And I think James Comey's decision was a terrible one, but he had no good decisions available to him. And that is the mess that we're in. I mean, look, I mean, I spend my days searching Amazon for deals on hemlock.

  • 10:24:03

    GOLDBERGThis entire year has not gone the way it should by my lights, so.

  • 10:24:07


  • 10:24:08

    MARCUSI didn't know you could get that on Amazon.

  • 10:24:13

    MARCUSI agree that Director Comey was in an unfortunate situation with -- and he -- but of the two bad choices in front of him, he chose the absolute worst one. He chose -- and I've spent the -- since Friday afternoon, spent countless hours on the phone and emails with former senior officials of justice departments of Republican administrations and Democratic administrations. And they are not unanimous, but the overwhelming majority of them are just really heartsick over the director's choice. I think that it was not a choice in which he was hoping to help one side or another. I do not impute any ill will or partisanship to him.

  • 10:25:01

    MARCUSBut I think he was protecting his own reputation and the reputation of the Bureau and that imperative -- an imperative of being honest with Congress and totally forthcoming with Congress -- over the imperative of not doing anything in the closing days of an election to affect it. And I think the polls are proof of the wrongness of that choice.

  • 10:25:22

    REHMAll right. And how influential could President Obama be in speaking directly to this issue of Comey?

  • 10:25:36

    ELVINGThat's a mysterious kind of a calculation. I think the most effective thing that President Obama can do at this point is motivate Democratic voters, tell them not to worry about the Comey announcement, tell them that it was something that shouldn't have happened, and most particularly to stimulate the turnout among African-Americans. Of course you've seen where he's going, the states he's going to, the venues he's going to. Beyonce is being deployed this weekend.

  • 10:26:02

    ELVINGThe big guns are out. And there is an awareness that the outcome of this election depends on putting back together as much of the Obama coalition, as we all call it, as possible. And there's surely no one better at doing that than one of the two Obamas, both of whom will be at it.

  • 10:26:21


  • 10:26:22

    PAGEBut if FBI Director Comey wanted to protect the FBI's reputation, this did not work out in that way. We now have...

  • 10:26:29

    MARCUSOr his own.

  • 10:26:31

    PAGEOr his own. But even if it was a more institutional instinct, we now have competing stories by news outlets on a separate investigation, an investigation by the FBI into the Clinton Foundation where Fox News reported on Wednesday that an indictment was likely as a result of the -- of Hillary Clinton as a result of the Clinton Foundation. And then we had competing stories, you know, on NBC and ABC and in The Wall Street Journal saying that's not the case. They're not anywhere close to an indictment. There's a feud between FBI agents in New York -- aligned, by the way, with Rudy Giuliani -- and Justice Department prosecutors in Washington about whether there is even a serious investigation to be had.

  • 10:27:12

    PAGESo this is, you know, we know that the -- we know that this kind of debate within the FBI and with the Justice Department, that's not uncommon when you have an investigation going on. What's uncommon is that it's playing out in public five days before an election.

  • 10:27:26

    REHMAnd what's also uncommon is that people like Donna Brazile have been fired from their news outlet, apparently in her case it is said that she fed questions about the debate to Hillary Clinton prior to the debate. But she's not the only pro-candidate person on the news networks. I mean, what about the fellow who was advising Donald Trump, who got fired and then went to CNN?

  • 10:28:12

    ELVINGFired is probably a term of art, when you talk about Mr. Lewandowski and the Trump campaign. It seems to me he's done a lot more good for the Trump campaign as a television commentator than he did as a campaign manager. And I'm not at all certain that he is not still in a very real sense part of the general Trump campaign -- as I think it's fair to say Donna Brazile was part of the general Hillary Clinton campaign. She's the interim chair...

  • 10:28:34

    REHMBut the networks knew...

  • 10:28:35

    ELVING...of the Democratic National Committee. I don't think that there was any mystery about her...

  • 10:28:38


  • 10:28:38

    ELVING...political identification. It does not shock me that she would see something going around, hear something going around and pass that along. I think probably a lot of other people who do that particular kind of hybrid -- that's a kind word, I believe -- hybrid operation...

  • 10:28:55


  • 10:28:55

    ELVING...where they're taking money that they're -- that is to say salaries, perfectly legitimate compensation -- both from a political entity and from a supposedly news-oriented media outlet.

  • 10:29:09

    REHMSo how is Donna Brazile different from Corey Lewandowski?

  • 10:29:15

    MARCUSWell, one answer is that we've seen the WikiLeaked emails of John Podesta that helped expose that behavior. And we haven't seen the WikiLeaked emails of somebody in the Trump campaign to expose that. I think we're in a new era, where we are seeing the sausage being made on a much more close-up and intensive level. And that's very, very dangerous for people who thought their emails were private. And I think Ron said that he wasn't shocked that somebody would be passing along information to campaigns. And to some extent, there is some dual-hattedness inherent in the hybrid nature of some of these commentators. I'm much happier with those of us who are not working with or for or alongside of campaign.

  • 10:30:04

    MARCUSBut I think that to say you're not shocked is not -- if you pass along inside information like that from one role to somebody in another role, I think we just have to acknowledge, that's just wrong and it shouldn't happen.

  • 10:30:18


  • 10:30:19

    GOLDBERGYeah, I should say upfront, I'm an old friend of Donna Brazile's. We started out at CNN almost 15, 16 years ago. And I think she's a wonderful person. I also think CNN made the right -- basically the only decision it could by saying we have to sever ties with her, which I think is unfortunate for everyone concerned. I've had a longstanding gripe -- take Donna out of it -- longstanding gripe about -- and I'm a Fox News contributor -- it's true on every cable news network, the intermingling of journalists -- including opinion journalists -- and Democratic consultants and Republican consultants.

  • 10:30:54

    GOLDBERGAnd the problem is, is that when you, as a journalist, my only job is to say what I believe is true, right? I can be wrong. I can revise my opinions. But I -- just don't lie. The job of party hacks is, by definition, to do whatever is good for the party. And it is infuriating to debate them. And I have liberal friends with the same problem going the other way. And I think that this blurring of the lines, where you basically are hiring people to play a role, rather than actually give their honest opinion, is a problem. And it's -- it fuses cable news networks. And I hope that that kind of turns around.

  • 10:31:30

    GOLDBERGBut on a broader picture, I think one of the problems we're looking at -- when Susan was talking about the FBI and looking, this feud playing out in public, we have the WikiLeaks stuff -- the entire institutional arrangement of American politics is undergoing a terrible stress test at the moment. The media, government institutions, private institutions, they're all basically being tested by both -- by a whole bunch of forces, populist forces on the left and the right. And I don't think that they're standing up to the gales of anger at Washington and at big institutions nearly as well as we might have thought.

  • 10:32:06

    GOLDBERGWe saw this early with the Republican Party, which it couldn't handle Trump in the primaries. And I think we're seeing it now with these revelations from the Democratic Party. And I think the changes in 2016 are going to have a very long half-life for a long time to come.

  • 10:32:19

    REHMAnd, you know, what we really ought to remember is that the visits to therapists and psychiatrists has gone up, up, up, because of the stress in the general population. You know, I want to go back to this early voting issue. Because if you talk about revising opinions, Donald Trump is telling people, if you've already voted and you'd like to change your mind, to go back to the polls, change your votes. How easy is that to do?

  • 10:33:00

    MARCUSI don't know.

  • 10:33:01

    PAGEYou know, it's legal...

  • 10:33:01

    MARCUSAsk Susan, because you might know actually the answer to this.

  • 10:33:03

    PAGEIt's legal in four states. You can do it because your early vote and your absentee vote hasn't been opened and counted yet. You can't do it in every state where there's early voting. But in four of them, including in Michigan, which is where -- one of the kind of long-shot hopes Trump people have. But going back to something I think Ron said, the people who bother to early vote are the people who are very sure who they're going to vote for. So I think this is not going to change any kind of significant number of votes.

  • 10:33:28

    REHMAnd you're listening to "The Diane Rehm Show." Let's talk about what Donald Trump is telling the media these days about what he is promising the American people.

  • 10:33:49

    ELVINGThere's a simplified message here that is being delivered in a lot of highly effective ads. They were on the seventh game of the World Series. They have been elsewhere on television. This is the most serious thrust into television advertising that we've seen from the Trump campaign all through the year. Largely, they felt they could get along without it. And, largely, they have. But in this closing stage, they have really gone after television in a big way. And the argument is, he'll turn Washington upside-down on day one.

  • 10:34:18

    ELVINGNow that's a statement I think a lot of people can agree with, whether they're planning to vote with Donald Trump or not. And I think a lot of people in Washington are not necessarily thrilled to hear that. They think if Washington gets turned upside-down, everything that they respect about Washington, everything they think about government and what government ought to be, will be upset with it and it will be very difficult to put back together and the half-life will be quite long.

  • 10:34:41

    ELVINGOn the other hand, as we know, there are many voters around the United States -- and we have heard from them all year long -- who could not hear anything that would be more music to their ears. So that is a very highly effective message. It's being delivered in these ads by another voice, not that of Donald Trump. And we only hear or see Donald Trump at the very end saying I approve this message. It's a message he should approve of. It's the most effective message he's had all year.

  • 10:35:05

    REHMI must say, on Monday, we're going to do a program in our first hour on exactly how government should work. And I think that'll be an interesting show. Donald Trump stuck to the script much more closely this week. How effective was that, Ruth?

  • 10:35:28

    MARCUSHe has, including in this magnificent moment where he channeled advisers speaking to him and just said out loud -- Donald, focus, Donald, stay with the message.

  • 10:35:39


  • 10:35:40

    MARCUSAnd one of those messages has been not just that he would shake up Washington, but that a Hillary Clinton presidency would inevitably and certainly involve the specter of a sitting president being indicted and having to stand trial. And we can't risk that, folks. And I'd just like to say, having spent a lot of time on -- well, covering the impeachment, having spent a lot of time on the law underlying issue relating to both the Clinton Foundation and the handling of the emails, I think the prospect of having her be indicted over emails or foundation business is extremely, extremely low, no matter what FBI agents think. And so, but it's a very effective tactic for that group of voters who are having flashbacks to Clinton fatigue.

  • 10:36:32

    REHMAnd, Jonah, we've had GOP leaders go back and forth on Trump. Where do they stand now?

  • 10:36:40

    GOLDBERGWhat time do you have?

  • 10:36:44

    GOLDBERGYou know, full disclosure, I am -- I've been a critic of Donald Trump's and I don't think that this has been the highest, best moment for a lot of Republican leaders. I particularly like the people who've endorsed, then unendorsed, then re-endorsed.

  • 10:36:58

    GOLDBERGI think that is a, you know, the Profiles in Courage Award is in the mail.

  • 10:37:04

    GOLDBERGI think the frustration for a lot of Republicans -- and this gets to your earlier question -- is that this is the Republican's election to lose. And if Donald Trump had been on message like he is the last 10 days, this whole campaign, we would be in -- it would be in the bag.

  • 10:37:19

    REHMJonah Goldberg, he's senior editor for the National Review. We're going to take a short break here. And when we come back, we'll take some of your questions, your emails. Stay with us.

  • 10:40:02

    REHMAnd welcome back to the domestic hour of our Friday News Roundup. This week with Jonah Goldberg of National Review, Ruth Marcus of the Washington Post, Ron Elving of NPR, Susan Page of USA Today. And before we go to our commenters here at the museum, Susan, I want to ask you about New York Times that obtained new documents suggesting that Donald Trump may have avoided paying millions of dollars, hundreds of millions in taxes. What do those documents tell us?

  • 10:40:49

    PAGESo, there have been two New York Times stories this week that go to Donald Trump's finances. And the first one involves his very aggressive use of a loophole in the tax laws in the 1990s, when he had casinos that were going bankrupt. And basically, this, using what's called an equity for debt swap, he was able to claim as a loss for him, millions of dollars. In fact, it had been lost by other people. And this was the provision that allowed him to, we think, avoid paying any income taxes at all for 18 years because the debt was so substantial.

  • 10:41:19

    PAGEThis is a provision of the law that has now been ruled out. Congress closed it for corporations in the 1990s and just about 10 years ago, they closed it for partnerships, which was the form that Trump was using it. So his very aggressive use of a loophole. We don't know if he got audited for that, because we haven't had a chance to look at his tax returns, and that's a question he has to answer -- hasn't answered. Today, we have a New York Times story that says that he, in his financial -- you know, he has, unlike major party nominees for the past 40 years, he has refused to release his tax returns.

  • 10:41:51

    PAGESo we don't have the kind of information about his finances that we have had for presidential candidates in the last four decades. But he filed a financial disclosure statement. And the story this morning says that he has exaggerated his amount of income and assets in this financial disclosure statement by talking about gross income, not about net income on some of his big properties.

  • 10:42:14

    REHMAll right. Let's go our first question here in the auditorium. Good morning.

  • 10:42:20

    MS. HAZEL DENTONGood morning. My name is Hazel Denton. A critical component of a functioning democracy is an informed public. But this campaign has been full of misinformation. Are you surprised, as reporters, at the extent of misinformation? Do you accept that reporters have not adequately pushed back at the torrent of lies? Could you do better?

  • 10:42:44

    REHMJonah Goldberg.

  • 10:42:48

    GOLDBERGCould the press do better? That's one of the easiest questions ever. Yes. The press could always do better. I think that, you know, we just saw these numbers coming out from newspapers about them losing money and revenue and, you know, the newspaper industry, which I love, is in rough shape. The media's in rough shape, precisely because social media and the internet has gone around the old gatekeepers. And a lot -- well, there was this fascinating story in Buzzfeed just yesterday about how a village in Macedonia has over -- runs over 100 pro-Donald Trump websites.

  • 10:43:24

    GOLDBERGBecause they can make money off the ad sales. And they pump out whatever nonsense they can find. This is a challenge that we've never really faced before in the sense of how the internet can encircle and run around the old guard media.

  • 10:43:39

    REHMRon Elving.

  • 10:43:40

    ELVINGI will put in this in defense of the press and the media in general. But particularly the newspapers. I believe the newspapers have done what they could do. There are fact checking operations in our newspapers. Some of the best ones have worked overtime throughout this entire campaign and they have found that if you fact check the things that Donald Trump says, it runs something like two thirds false. It's well into the 60 percentages. With Hillary Clinton, it's in the teens.

  • 10:44:08

    ELVINGNeither one is entirely truthful all the time. That's not a surprise to anyone who's over the age of 12. But, but, the percentages are stunning, truly stunning. And it shows that some newspapers at least, many newspapers have been telling people all along that there are things being said that are not true. Also, let's note that many newspapers that have never endorsed a Democrat before or have always endorsed a Republican, have broken with those policies this year. And only a tiny handful of minor and one, well, one sort of tabloid publication, have endorsed Donald Trump.

  • 10:44:48

    ELVINGWe have never seen a ratio like this. Generally speaking, historically, Republicans do quite well with newspaper endorsements. Maybe they reflect the publisher more than the journalists. Nonetheless, that has been the history.

  • 10:44:59

    REHMWhat are the standouts there in terms of endorsements?

  • 10:45:03

    ELVINGWell, I would start with the Arizona Republic which had never endorsed a Republican, and which has suffered terribly from the recriminations that have happened since they endorsed Hillary Clinton. The Cincinnati Enquirer is another one. Very long history of endorsing Republicans. And a number of papers, I will let you speak for your own newspaper, Susan, a number of newspapers have either declined to endorse or have said we're endorsing Gary Johnson. But a number of very Republican newspapers have gone with Hillary Clinton.

  • 10:45:32


  • 10:45:32

    PAGEThe USA Today has never endorsed a candidate and we didn't endorse a candidate this year, but our editorial board dis-endorsed Donald Trump. They said, we don't care who you vote for, just don't vote for him. That was, I should hasten to say, not my (unintelligible) , that was the editorial board's decision. But that was a change from the history of our paper.

  • 10:45:49

    REHMInteresting. And Ruth.

  • 10:45:51

    MARCUSCan we do better? Of course, but we've done way better than you think. We have not done very well as an institution in terms of trying to have some substantive debate on the real issues facing voters in this campaign. But my newspaper and others have done a terrific job exposing, to the best we can, some issues, for example, I'm thinking of David Farenthold's reporting on the Trump Foundation. I'm thinking of the excellent reporting of the New York Times on his income taxes.

  • 10:46:22

    MARCUSIf you didn't have newspapers and other media institutions, you wouldn't have that knowledge.

  • 10:46:28

    REHMAll right, let's go to a question on this side. Sir.

  • 10:46:33

    MICHAELHello, Diane Rehm. I'm a longtime listener. I enjoy your show.

  • 10:46:36

    REHMThank you.

  • 10:46:36

    MICHAELThank you for having me here. My name is Michael. I'm a 30-year veteran from the Army. I also work as an IT analyst here in D.C. I grew up in the mid-west. I'm a longtime Republican and this year, I see that I'm disgusted by my party. And I’m one of those people that is actually entertaining a vote for the other side. My mother has always been on the other side, and so we've had very interesting discussions and comments about both of our parties over the years.

  • 10:47:09

    MICHAELI've always maintained a Republican straight ticket through the years, but this year, I find myself, because of the absolute onslaught of just the disgust of what I hear coming out of the leader of this party now, the nominee.

  • 10:47:27

    REHMI understand.

  • 10:47:28

    MICHAELYeah, and do you see, my question will be do you see, and for the whole panel, do you see the Republican Party changing or maybe becoming something else after this election?

  • 10:47:39

    REHMInteresting question. Ron Elving.

  • 10:47:43

    ELVINGYes, I think the Republican Party is going to go through a struggle, internally, after this election. It's been going through one, actually, for several years. And if you want to say decades, you can say decades. But let's just focus on the most recent period of time. The struggle between what we have called either establishment or main street Republicans, or traditional Republicans, and people who are coming to the party with a much different attitude. Maybe not small c conservative at all.

  • 10:48:09

    ELVINGMostly about anger, mostly about resentment, mostly about not feeling comfortable in their own country anymore or in their town or in their state. Displaced, disenfranchised in their own minds. Those people have come to the Republican Party, flocked to the Republican Party in large numbers. Donald Trump obviously reflects that. And the struggle between those people and the people who used to think of themselves as traditional Republicans, my father, my grandfather, those kind of Republicans, is going to be a pitched battle, I think, going forward, whether Donald Trump wins or not.

  • 10:48:43

    REHMAll right. I want to hear from Jonah and then we'll move on to the next question.

  • 10:48:47

    GOLDBERGYeah, I can talk for several hours about this, which I won't. You know, at National Review, we have been sharply critical of Donald Trump. We have some very pro-Donald Trump people who write for us, but we're not endorsing, for the first time in a while, the Republican candidate for President. Because for the same reason that in 1960, we didn't endorse Kennedy or Nixon. Because we felt neither rose to the threshold of our principles that we hold up.

  • 10:49:10

    GOLDBERGThere is an enormous fight coming in the conservative movement and in the Republican Party. It's going to be fought on many fronts. Are we still a party of limited government? Are we still a party of individualism? Are we still a party of constitutionalism? Or are we not? And any party that isn't those things isn't a party that I'm going to belong to, and so I may end up being homeless like the Libertarians are for a while. But it's going to be a door to door fight. Lots of friendships have been ruined behind the scenes about all of this.

  • 10:49:40


  • 10:49:40

    GOLDBERGOh yeah, and it's, it's going to be a mess, and there's going to be a reckoning on both sides.

  • 10:49:45

    REHMAll right. Next question, please.

  • 10:49:48

    MS. ELAINE BROADHEADMy name is Elaine Broadhead. I'm calling from Middleburg, Virginia. And one issue I think that has been completely ignored and sidelined has been the environment. Bernie Sanders talked, and he was the only one. Trump, of course, doesn't believe anything exists. And Hillary did have Gore. But what is your panel's opinion? Are we a nation of ostriches?

  • 10:50:09

    REHMJust one reminder. We did a program just this Tuesday on the candidates' positions on the environment. Just want to put that out front. I don't think it's been completely ignored by the media. I do think it's been overshadowed in the campaign by the kind of rhetoric you've heard that has sort of overshadowed everything. Ruth.

  • 10:50:41

    MARCUSThat sort of goes to the point I was making earlier about the absence of substance during this campaign, because we've always been chasing the bright, shiny objects, usually some outrageous thing that Donald Trump has said. But then, things like Director Comey's letter the other day. It was pretty striking that in the debates, there was not a single question about climate change. That said, there is, if you are a voter who cares about the environment, or who is worried about over-regulation and doesn't take climate change seriously.

  • 10:51:15

    MARCUSThere is a very stark and obvious and not hard to discern difference between these two candidates.

  • 10:51:18

    PAGEYou know, there are consequences to the fact that this has been a substance free campaign. And that is, whoever is elected does not come in with any kind of mandate for what it is they want to do. So, Hillary Clinton, in fact, has a pretty detailed position on the environment, which you can get by going on her website. Not that it's been part of the conversation of this debate. But since it hasn't been, she can't, when she, if she's elected, she's not able to turn around and say to Congress, I ran on doing this about climate change.

  • 10:51:44

    PAGESo we, you, the American people said this is what we want to do. She can't say that because we didn't have a conversation about it.

  • 10:51:49

    REHMHas there been a deliberate effort to avoid substantive issues, or has it simply been because Donald Trump didn't want to talk about substantive issues?

  • 10:52:03

    PAGENo, I think the Clinton campaign came in with a very traditional idea that you needed to have a position on everything. So you go on her website and there are dozens of issues and 16 point plans and bullet points on what she would do. But then she was running against somebody who has almost none of that. You go on his website, there's almost no explanation about what he would do about, about anything. About tax policy, about the debt, about entitlements, about the environment. So, and it's not been the ground on which this campaign has been fought.

  • 10:52:34


  • 10:52:36

    ELVINGDonald Trump has been very clear about his plans, which are to make America great again. And seriously, I mean, that is a vision that is resonant with a lot of voters. And they have...

  • 10:52:50

    REHMJust that phrase.

  • 10:52:50

    ELVINGJust that phrase. Well, the concept that everything bad can be reversed and that, for example, despite worldwide trends and global warming, we can open all those coal mines and put all those coal miners back to work tomorrow.

  • 10:53:04

    REHMRon Elving of NPR. And you're listening to "The Diane Rehm Show." And a question over on this side.

  • 10:53:17

    MS. BONNIE BECKERBonnie Becker from Springfield. Separating out newspapers, which you've already spoken to, when the television and other kinds of media do their post-election analysis, what kind of things do you think they're going to say we have got to better on this for next time?

  • 10:53:37

    REHMWell, Ron, as a representative of the broadcast media, what would you say?

  • 10:53:46

    ELVINGThere should be a discussion, in my opinion, among people who allocate time on television. There should be a realization, and I'm sure they have the realization, that that is an extraordinarily valuable commodity. And when the great preponderance of that time during the primaries, it is devoted to one candidate out of 17, that is going to be a rather large thumb on the scales. Now, way back last spring, someone estimated, and I've never seen this really knocked down.

  • 10:54:12

    ELVINGThat something like 2.9 billion dollars worth of air time had already gone for free to Donald Trump. Hillary Clinton has a substantial figure too, roughly half that. But none of the Republican rivals trying to contest the Republican nomination, had anything approaching that kind of exposure. Now, we're way past the Fairness Doctrine, we're way past the Equal Time Rule. Those are all relics of the past. But we still have cable television and broadcast television and those are still extremely important, particularly for primary voters, particularly for people who are highly engaged in the process.

  • 10:54:43

    REHMAll right. I think we have time for one last question.

  • 10:54:47

    MS. SALLY GREENBERGYes, Sally Greenberg, Washington, D.C. There is talk among some on the far right in the Republican Party about impeachment if Hillary Clinton gets elected. And so, my question is, what advice do you have for her and will she have a chance to govern if elected and the knives are out already?

  • 10:55:04

    REHMRuth Marcus.

  • 10:55:06

    MARCUSI have a column coming on this topic. My advice for her is to sort of overcome some of her worst instincts. Which are to circle the wagons, to reject criticism, to just not be forthcoming. There's going to be, whether it's impeachment or investigations, it's just going to be a fact of life. If she's elected, she's going to have to sort of set that to one side and just plow ahead with trying to govern in this horribly gridlocked situation that we have.

  • 10:55:34

    REHMAll right, and finally, a shout out to Scott Simon, because the Chicago Cubs have won the World Series.

  • 10:55:47

    ELVINGMay I just say for Scott, we should hang a big "W" here. Scott suffered through the entire three game home stand in Chicago, which the Cubs lost two games out of three. Scott was there for all of them, suffering in public and even on television. We should hang a great big "W" for Scott. I went to my first Cubs game at Wrigley Field as a child in the Eisenhower administration. I'll just leave it at that. And have been a lifelong fan, but I can't touch Scott Simon, who really should have been allowed to get out there and throw out one of those first pitches.

  • 10:56:18

    REHMAnd Susan.

  • 10:56:20

    PAGEWho could not want the Cubs -- I mean, obviously, Cleveland Indians fans maybe didn't want the Cubs to win. But 108 years? Hillary Clinton made an amusing point yesterday when she said the last time the Cubs had won the pennant, women didn't have the right to vote. That tells you how long it's been.

  • 10:56:37

    GOLDBERGI want to dissent just a tiny bit. And it's not as a baseball guy. First of all, my favorite stat like that is that the last time the Cubs won, was 20 years before the invention of sliced bread. But I think the world is a slightly less magical place, because I like curses. And the billy goat curse was one of these great things of lure, and now it's sort of gone. And...

  • 10:57:02

    REHMAll right, I'm glad it's gone. Jonah Goldberg of National Review. Ruth Marcus of the Washington Post. Ron Elving of NPR. Susan Page, she's Washington Bureau Chief of USA Today. Thank you all for being here.

  • 10:57:23

    PAGEThank you.

  • 10:57:23

    ELVINGThank you, Diane.

  • 10:57:24

    REHMAnd thank you all for being here as well. I'm Diane Rehm.

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