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tv   The Stream  Al Jazeera  July 31, 2014 12:30pm-1:01pm EDT

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freedom, because public opinion just like the one each and every one of you have a public opinion, does matter. >> now you can find a lot more about our al jazeera journalists in jail in cairo on the website. ♪ think i'm lisa fletcher and you are in "the stream." eric cantor stepped down this week. what does it mean for the g.o.p.'s future. plus is the trial of governor bob mcdonald an example of larger problem within the system? and later, government wants to know how you handle your affairs? how do you get a more transparent view of washington? you will be surprised at some of the tools being rolled out to keep uncle sam in check. ♪
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our digital producer, wajahat ali is here bringing in all of your feedback. this is so interesting when you get into in eric cantor lost and the role the digital space may have played. >> yes, darth vader is currently the leading presidential candidate according to the "washington post" poll. and the most hated star wars character of all time is more popular than all of congress. and the reason for that, a lot of people are saying it's corruption. a loyaling streamer says . . . and that's a major reason, lisa
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why people want a change. >> yes, they do. house majority leader eric cantor losing his election bid to tea party candidate dave prat. many believe he is one of the only people to beat such a high-ranking leader. so what is behind brat's win? and what was it indicate about the way props our entire political system is heading. joining us is a columnist for tech republic, and the found inner of a blog focusing on technology. and senior fellow of kato institute. and on skype, senior congressional reporter for "politico." thanks to all of you for being here.
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>> thanks for having me. >> david brat a virtual unknown, eric cantor positioned to probably be speaker of the house. war chest eight to ten times that of brat. what did this race demonstrate? >> well, it demonstrates that there was a lot of discontent of cantors leadership in his home district. you had exceptionally high turnout, and when you have an engaged electorate like that, that matters a lot. you have to look at the power of talk radio, and other sources as part of that. you have two paid staffers, one of whom ran the whole show, and they were able to produce a lot of original content which was able to
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be used by those outlets. and i think the libertarian message clearly was effective. >> alex mentioned bright bart, and talk radio, but i think when people hear those names, they think g.o.p., they think republican, but really it has become quite siloed, hasn't it? this >> i think the g.o.p. -- you know, we're a big family, and there are a lot of different viewpoints. and in this instance it was partially disconsent with the leadership of cantor as a g.o.p. figure, but also you have to take into consideration that one of the basic tenants of being a member of congress is taking care of your constituents, and many of his constituents didn't
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feel like he was taking care of them. and they wanted somebody they could express their feelings to directly. and they didn't feel he was spending enough home at time in his own district. majority leader cantor spent more money on steaks than brat did on his entire campaign. and that really underscores that the grass root voters in the end will make a decision on who they want to represent him in washington, d.c. >> i don't know if there is a meat joke in there between the [ laughter ] >> are we giving too much credit to brat and the gas root organizations, if cantor would have paid more attention to his constituents, would there have been a different outcome here? >> i'm not a professional political operative, but there
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are many contributing factors to his loss. not spending time in the district is certainly a lot. there are a lot of different things. brat successfully conveyed a message of, you know, preventing the crony capitalism that is the theme of this program, i think, business and government getting in bed together, and we thought that this message of free markets and liberty and whether you call it libertarian are simply just getting back to basics, and i allowing people to leave their lives the way they want. they felt that cantor became in them. >> our community echos some of those sentiments . . . and you mentioned social media being the great equalizer here. can social media equalize the
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playing field for citizens against politicians, and this streamer says . . . and speaking about harm coming to politicians from social media, here is a clip from mitt romney two years ago. >> there are 47% of the people who will vote for the president no matter what. there are 47% who with him . . . >> all right. you know that 47% quote from mitt romney was leaked by "mother jones," it cost tremendous damage to his campaign in 2012, but in this day and age can social media be the great equalizer, give the average joe or jose, the same level playing field? >> i think it can make a big
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dent, but i don't think it can equalize the millions of dollars that are spent on air. the big thing that dominates midterm elections and dominates presidential elections is the millions of dollars that are spent on attack ads on the air, those can really change the the - narrative of a debate. and what you saw in that 47% clip while it went viral, it was the attack ads that followed, that were really used effectively against mitt romney andively hurt his campaign at the end of the day. so while social media can galvanize a segment, but it's not nearly enough to reach those independent voters, people not paying attention to the ins and outs of the campaign, but could be swayed by a tv ad at the end of the day.
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>> there have been a lot of examples of how the digital space has helped to make or break a candidate. >> i'm not a witch. i'm nothing you have heard. i'm you. none of us are perfect. but none of us can be happy with what we see all around us. >> republican christine o'donnell, so let's not leave out the democrats. campaign. >> we're going to south dakota, and oregon, and washington, and michigan, and then we're going to washington, d.c. to take back the white house. yeah! >> alex we're talking about how the digital space can take these viral videos and help a candidate. we're seeing main stream media take things off of the internet and use it, and amplify the message. but can it also derail important conversation. because the media gets so hyperfocused on quirky things?
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>> i think the answer is yes. the extent to which a singular gaffe can derail a campaign is beautifully illustrated by howard kaine. we know that really did make a difference to his campaign, fairly or not. there is a real cacophony of voices now. and if you have the ability to pick and choose which media you choose and which media you want to see, that does enable a certain amount of [ inaudible ] which leads people to see more things which they often -- basically support what they already believe in. i think you will start to see more efforts to create better efforts of architecture online. but the amount of media that covers it is
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unprecedented. to your earlier point, i do think we are moving towards the point where the internet will become an increasingly important source of news, so even if this cycle is dominated by people spending money on television ads there will be a point where that will shift. if you look at the under 30 set, you'll see that their principal engagement may be through social media and the search engine. so ads targeted towards them will become an important part of the conversation. >> that's exactly something we were talking about earlier this idea of can you still target ads in the age of social media? >> i think you can target them the best you can. if you talk to people who sell
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these ads at facebook and twitter, and google, there's now this vast amount of dark cash moving in from these external political groups, and they are spending it there. and because of the way people express their interest in a click by click basis. you can have more personalization than ever before. but that's exactly what they are selling against. you don't have to buy a single ad for $2 million in the super bowl, you can buy a million ads for as much money as people spend clicking on them. and we have to make sure that people don't get marketed to near the polling booth. >> you mentioned the phrase dark cash. we'll talk about that in our next segment. still away, the former virginia governor and his wife are facing corruption charges. have we institutionalized forms
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of bribery in our campaign culture? and is the mcdonald trial just a symptom of a greater problem within the system. but first here are some hashtags that we're following . . .
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>> i'm a national affairs correspondent for policy mic, and i'm in the stream. >> welcome back, former virginia governor bob mcdonald and his wife are facing corruption charges after receiving gifts from a wealthy campaign donor. so the citizen united ruling are all ways for the well-funded to get what they want from politicians. is institutionalized bribery just part of american policies? > i don't agree with that it? citizen united allows americans to contribute to the candidates and the politicians they support, and the electorate out there, they are smart and savvy, as long as they know where contributions are coming from, they can make their own minds up on who they want to support.
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in the mcdonald case a sitting governor was illegal -- >> soliciting. >> yes, exactly. allegedly illegally policies sitting gifts, he and his wife, and the system caught up with him, and we'll see what happens. but again, i'll emphasize voters are smart and can make up their own mind. and i think artificial limits on who they can give money to and how much they can give money to only will push people underground and push for more corruption. so you want full disclosure, and the abilitity to support home with ever they want to support. >> i think about something like who most of the ambassadors are and how they get appointed. and the fact is they get appointed based on the number of parties they throw for a party
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before he becomes president. >> well, you can make that case. super pacs, one of the parts of that decision is saying disclosure of those contributions has to be on the books somewhere, but as with so many other areas, the data being collected is always subject to the amount of power the institutions have. one area has been disclosures of ethically related data in the house of representatives. the senate, however, still does payable filings. so there's an issue there. >> but lisa there is an important distinction to be made there. superpack contributions are not contributions to elected officials or candidates. they are contributions to a super pac advocating on behalf of particular issues. so there -- >> let's unpack this a little
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further, sit sins united was no to -- campaigns. it is about political speech. and before that the government could tell all of us how much we could spend, what we could speak on and that sort of thing. there are still very strong limitations on who can donate and how much exactly to politicians and campaigns. and when you are talking about disclosure, it's not clear that knowing who that $100 or $1,000 contributor is. when you have the big boys playing everyone know who that is. the question is, is it proper for them to be rewarded to political decisions. that's a separate discussion.
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but we have laws against bribery -- >> but money equals access in our system. in that kind of is the bottom line, so whether it is transparent or not, i think there's a sense among the average american that if you have enough money, you can getting something in exchange. this group -- it's a citizens for responsibility and ethics in washington is calling for an inquiry about wide-spread bribery in the house, based on a statement from a representative who said he changed his vote in contribution. >> then that's bribery and he should go to jail. >> yeah. that's alleged bribery number 1. number 2, the government has put into place these artificial limits on where americans can spend their money and express themselves and those limits will be struck downtime and time again. that's what we're seeing the supreme court do. in the end what you want
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is -- what you want is tran - transparency of any contributions and the voters can make the decision. >> our community actually disagrees. we asked them how should the united states reform financial and political corruption . . . a question to you, how should the united states reform political corruption, which, if not rampant, a lot of people say is systemic. >> well, the criticism is to
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require increased disclosure from these 501c groups. they can give a limited amount of money, and these are these groups that are not disclosing their money groups like the americans for prosperity, a conservative group, patriot majority, and across the gps, the karl rove cross roads group. all of these groups can really define this midterm election more so than in the past. the people pushing for this wants this reform to happen. but there are republicans in congress who are worried that once you start disclosing these names folks will be intimidated, so don't expect any of that to happen this congress, and probably not in president obama's
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presidency. >> thanks to you, and the rest of you are going to stick around. still ahead, hear about some surprising tools being rolled government in check. >> tech kno.
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>> we're here in the vortex.
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only on al jazeera america. we should never forget that we are hear as public servants and public service is a privilege. >> welcome back, we're discussing the scope of institutionalized corruption in our political system and what if anything can be done about it. there are details about government, wikileaks, how do you see the digital space changing the transparency landscape? >> i think it has been great.
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it is giving more power to the individual citizen to find out more about their government. and we need to continue to push for government, again, state and local and federal to put more information in real time online, so this average person can find out what decisions are being made and where money is being spent so they can make their own decisions on who they want to support, and it will be a good way to get to corruption. it is said that best disinfectant is lots of sunlight. >> our community is agreeing . . . and then we have some citizens who are using social media to get more information.
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alex i know you know these websites, you are the one who actually gave me some of these websites, can social media be the conduit to your average joe to get the transparency that the government would never give up. >> they can help, without a question. you mentioned putting lots of information online. social media is a way of connecting to people with that information. you have to get the original disclosure right, and oftentimes that means cleaning up the data. there are a lot of people who may not be very well versed in going through raw campaign data, but a lot of these services can help you explore that, and help you see these relationships. so it's something like influence explorer you might have seen what influence to give in person. you have to be careful not to go too far.
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just because you see correlations between different donations. but if you go back to the original discussion about eric cantor, there was an issue of populous brought up by mr. brat. and he got quite a lot of money from wall street, mr. cantor, from these different sources. and you can also use these databases to explain to the readers what they should be looking for within them. there does need to be quite a bit of work to dig through and see what is clean and what isn't, and then deline where disclosures didn't happen. and that's what happened to the former governor mcconnell, the "washington post" brought the story. we talked about wanting more transparency on the part of government. is that really attainable? and two, how much so given that a lot of the information rolling
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out is actually government websites so the go is filtering the information we're getting. >> i think government should be transparent on what it actually does. what it spends money on. the actual work of government. i think there can and should be more done on that. in terms of disclosures in terms of donations and things like that, that can be a 2-way street, because oftentimes people know generally who the funders are, whether the enemy is koch brothers or whoever. a lot of it is to intimidate and shut down, chill certain types of speech. >> on that note thanks to all of our guests. until next time, waj and i will see you online. ♪
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>> welcome to al jazeera america. i'm del walters. these are the stories we're following for you. with or without the cease-fire. prime minister benjamin netanyahu vows to destroy hamas network. west african government scramble trying to contain the spread of the deadly ebola virus. >> no place isaf