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tv   Smerconish  CNN  September 17, 2016 3:00pm-4:01pm PDT

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i'm michael smerconish. 51 days until election day and showing a dead heat. donald trump has been embracing his negatives as he turned his
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birther retraction into a pr circus and last night, entered a florida rally under the le deplorables. the crucial debate 9 days away will only include clinton and trump claiming they're biassed eliminating them all together. i'll ask the co-chair mike mckur ray wh mckurry. and live instead of waiting for the polls to close. is this good or bad for democracy? jeff greenfield will weigh in and nobody knows these candidates better than pulitzer prize-winning columnist. colin powell's hacked e-mails expose salacious gossip about the candidates but partisanship is now trump's patron.
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but now i want the final word on birtherism. finally he stated the obvious that president barack obama was born here only after claiming hillary clinton started the rumor and she didn't. >> hillary clinton and her campaign of 2008 started the birther controversy. i finished it. i finished it. you know what i mean. president barack obama was born in the united states, period. >> his handling illustrates his lack of accountability. the statement that his campaign released the night before his acknowledgment of obama's birthplace is my exhibit "a." will you put that up objen the
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screen please. it begins, hillary clinton's campaign first raised this issue to smear then candidate barack obama, smear. why was it a smear? because it was not true. why was it a smear by clinton's campaign, by the way, it wasn't, according to fact checkers, but not a smear when raised so often by mr. trump? nasty is another word used. so too,co conniving. it was relying on smears. trump said hillary clinton engaged in the behavior he's employing and they're smear and nasty not to mention vicious and conniving but also weak for not getting an answer. an answer to what exactly, mr. trump? a nasty smear? who should have been demanding answers about a nasty smear? if it's bogus, nobody. put up the next paragraph.
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here's how it begins. in 2011, mr. trump was finally able to bring this incident to its conclusion. what ugly incident? the ugly incident of trump asserting a nasty smear against the nation's first african-american president so as to delegitimize him. let's keep reading. mr. trump did a great service to the president and the country by bringing closure to the issue that hillary clinton and her team first raised. this is now kafkaesque. he is claiming where he spread a nasty smear about the president, something he now characterizes as vicious and conniving and for five years, refuses to retract it, somehow done the president and nation a service because he's a closer, in his words. it was only the closer of a nasty smear he himself initiated which he admits was vicious and conniving. there was more but you get it. why does this need to be addressed, because the poll is
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neck and neck. nothing is more important than the debates. trump has been using this outright fabrication for a year. what should a moderator do if he or hillary clinton makes assertions that are obviously baseless? joining me now is a man with all the answers, mike mccurry. bill clinton's white house press secretary. he hasn't been on cnn in 12 years. thank you so much for being here. what is the job description of a moderator? >> i think to get out of the way of the candidates. the candidates are the ones that have to fact check each other and moderators have strong opinions like you just said. that's probably not the role we expect for the people who are going to put the ball in play and let the candidates then have their discussion as they see fit. i think there's questions about asking someone in a debate like
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this and there are right ways to do that. i think we pick moderators that are very effective at that. i don't doubt donald trump is trying to work the ref but that happens every four years. i think these moderators will present the candidates with opportunities to challenge each other to fact check each other and that's exactly the role they should play. >> so in my example that i've just offered, my cross-examination, it would be the responsibility of hillary clinton, not lester holt. >> if you moderated like this program, i think people would howl and probably so because you're putting yourself in the role of trying to, you know, do what the candidates themselves need to do and that's not what we expect of these moderators. we expect them to basically get out of the way of the candidates so it's the candidates debates.
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bob schieffer, the long time cbs veteran correspondent and moderated many debates said the first thing you should do as a moderator before the debate is go look in the mirror and say, it's not about me. >> i noticed that bob schieffer and jim lehrer, they both say the role is not to intrude and to get out of the way. i think i heard mike mccurry you say in your opening answer that you think donald trump is trying to work the refs a little bit. what do you mean by that? >> i think sometimes you sort of say if i say that i expect to get howled at by our first moderator who happens to be lester holt from nbc, maybe that will tone him down a little bit. and who knows, i don't want to try to get into donald trump's head. that would not be a useful exercise, but the candidates do this. we see this every four years and there are comments back and
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forth about the moderators but the important thing i think is both secretary clinton and mr. trump who were invited, by the way, to the commission on presidential debates to participate on september 26 have both indicated they plan to be there and both have accepted the moderators have we have pithat . i think we picked excellent moderators to help guide that discussion. >> am i right in saying your job is to make a studied determination as to who should moderate and then you step out of the way and that man or that woman has total discretion to what will be asked? >> that's right. they have to use their editorial and journalistic judgment and ask the question most americans would expect the candidates to be asked and the candidates have to respond to each other and challenge each other and engage
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in the debate. that's what we want to see. we want to see a good discussion in a dignified setting. we don't have audience reaction in these debates. they are there to watch a moment of history but it's really about the candidates themselves challenging each other, talking to each other about the future of the country and then probably making some arguments that, you know, will in one way or another impact the way in which one of them will govern if elected president. >> donald trump is talking a little lincoln douglas action. he proposes no moderator. what do you think of that idea? >> i have some fondness for that idea. i think it's great when we have got candidates who will stand with each other and actually do that kind of debate. the moderator can put things in play. by the way, on our format, one of the things we've done is to get away from these highly structured one minute here, 30 seconds there back and forth. we have divided the debate 90
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minutes into 15 minute chunks of time so that the candidates will have to have lengthier presentations and longer discussions and more reasonable and substantive answers about the day. we'll approximate that lincoln douglas format but make sure the moderator makes things stay in control. >> were either of the candidates able to exercise a veto over your selections? >> no. we suspended that kind of practice a long time ago. we have to use our best judgment in picking moderators. we have not heard from the campaigns that they have objections to the moderators we picked. we picked some distinguished journalists, as you know, including your own colleague, anderson cooper from cnn, and, you know, i think the fact that there hasn't been any kind of real protest about the moderators indicates that people expect them to do the job they've been assigned to do and there's been a large favorable
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reaction to those we did pick. >> gary johnson and bill weld took out a full ad drew attention they were at 13% in the quinnipiac survey which they argued put them within the margin of error to the requisite 15%. what of the idea where you have two two-term governors united on all 50 ballots, doing well, perhaps better than we've seen in the past 25 years. why shouldn't they be on the debate stage? >> we have, by law and legal precedent, establish criteria well in advance, let that be known publicly and it has to be objected. we did that last fall. almost for a year now, the campaigns have known they have to reach the 15% threshold. some members thought it was too low and some thought it was too high. we had a beilong debate and baco the league of women voters
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sponsored the presidential debate. and thought it was a good historic precedent for that number and not without the possibility that both governor johnson and weld or jill stein from the green party if they work hard and build support during the course of the fall, they might well be invited in the second and third debates. we'll apply the criteria that we use before each of the presidential debates. and so there's some possibility we might see gary johnson on that stage in one of the subsequent debate but he did not make that threshold for the debate that will happen september 26th. >> final question, you stood before the nation defending president clinton's white house on matters like whitewater, the outset of the lewinsky scandal and teaching in the wesley theological seminary. what's more? >> being in front of a group of seminar seminarns and guiding them.
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i guess given my past, this would be the doctrine of atonement but i enjoy my teaching now. >> i cannot wait, the nation cannot wait. i salute the work of the commission on presidential debates. >> thanks, michael. >> that's mike mccurry. tweet me at @smerconish. no newspaper columnist knows the clintons or donald trump better or more critical of them. i'll talk to maureen dow and colin powell exposed the general's disdain for both candidates but it also revealed a problem, i think, with partisan politics and dan abrams will be here to explain. and can you explain to me why you recommend synthetic over cedar? "super food"? is that a real thing? it's a great school, but is it the right the one for her? is this really any better than the one you got last year? if we consolidate suppliers what's the savings there? so should we go with the 467 horsepower? or is a 423 enough?
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won the pew lisulitzer prize. maureen covered nine campaigns but never seen anything like this year's race and chronicled her amazement in her new book. the year of voting dangerously. the derangment of american politics. thoroughly enjoy the book and it's filled with columns and work of yours only about these two. that's how much you've written about clinton, the clintons, and donald trump. >> yes. but it also has a long essay about the bush family whom i've covered for 30 years. and also, i started covering on the national stage obama and biden. so all of the cast of characters of this crazy dinner party i started with. >> i've gotten so many things wrong as donald trump likes to remind people about this cycle. what have you gotten wrong that stands out? >> oh, wow.
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i don't know. you tell me. i don't know. >> maybe it's all subjective. donald trump listens to you. when you listen, and you point this out in so many columns, when you raise with him concerns or questions, it seems like he's interested to know what maureen dowd is thinking. >> well, listens to me is a bit strong. i picture kelly ann conway like a lion tamer trying to keep donald trump on his stool. but i have confronted him with many different things that seemed wrong to me. for instance, i asked him, i told him that it was wrong that there was violence being incited at his rallies and that reporters were getting roughed up. he paused, yes, he listened but then disagreed and thought the violence added excitement. i said, how can you criticize
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bill clinton for infidelities? you're making that part of the campaign and maybe in the upcoming debates when you had one of the most famous infidelity scandals in new york history, the marla may best sex new york headline and said, well, i wasn't the president. and he always has some glib answer. he did not listen to me but my sister who has an essay in the book. like you, sometimes she's a republican and sometimes she's not. but i told him, said is your sister still voting for me? i said, no, because you retweeted this unflattering picture of heidi cruz and he tried to say it wasn't that unflattering. and said, why don't you just apologize and he did. but not much does he listen to me. and just stating what is unacceptable behavior. >> you talk about your sister. you also talk and writes, your
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brother kevin and the two things we have in common, we're both a butter knife away at the thanksgiving day table from trump supporters. how is trump doing among your kin? >> well, you know, it's funny because i have my own little basket of deplorables and i read all of these other columns who go on an tthropological. he said he would like to meet a trump voter and reason with them and i just have to go home. i hear all the conspiracy theories. all the hillary clinton complaints and i'm sure it's the same with you and michael. >> let me address hillary. one that stands out the most for me is for her.
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all of these woebegone republicans whining that they can't rally behind their flawed candidate is crazy. it's getting old. they already have a 1%er who will be totally fine in the oval office, someone they can trust to help wall street, boost the the u.s. chamber of commerce, cuddle with hedge funds, secure the trade deals beloved by corporate america. seek guidance from henry kissinger and hawk it up, unleashing hell on syria. and heaven knows where else. the republicans have their candidate. hillary. >> she's a goldwater girl that became much more liberal but donald trump's ideology is his ego. so the republicans are twisting and turning to try and fit in with a platform basically about his ego. when he cozies up, not at all on
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the ration of republican politr policy, it's crazy to watch like a grade school thing. he complimented him, so he likes putin. but according to steven lee myers, our reporter who has a biography. he called him flashy, not brilliant. so this crazy bromance may be based on a mistranslation, so he was a new york democrat. so we have these kind of new york democrats. so anyway, hillary is, you know, she is into muscular intervention. she's a hawk. he loves kissinger. she cozies up to goldman sachs and hedge fund people and they are her supporters, the 1% money people are supporting hillary. >> own that subjethe other colu
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book was the joe biden bo biden. it was the point that bo wanted his dad to run. can i put that quickly up and remind people of what maureen wrote? beau was losing his nouns but he had a mission. he tried to make his father promise to run, arguing, contin continues on, should not revert to the clintons and the country would be better off with biden values. here's the question for maureen dow. do you think joe regrets not having gone into this race? >> he has said himself he thinks about it every day and if i were joe biden, i would be really angry because he would be walking straight into the white house and that's usually the vice president has the right of first refusal, but they thought that he would shoot off his
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mouth and have a lot but in the era of trump, his gaffes would seem like nothing. and there was some democrats the other day when hillary had her health scare saying, you know, maybe she, if it got worse, maybe she would have to step aside for biden which would be ironic because they pushed out biden for hillary. >> the year of voting dangerously. never seen anything like it in my life and i hope i never do again. >> i agree with you, michael. thanks. >> tweet me your though thoughts @smerconish. opinions of trump and clinton were hacked and widely published but one later apologized. why? i'll speak to him. also, election day turnout is never revealed until the polls close but a new organization plans to change all that. is that good or bad for democracy? multiemmy award winner jeff greenfield will weigh in.
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here's another tweet. this one about my opening salesmen teacommentary. he did close the deal. you're a clinton surrogate. no, i'm not part of any crooked media. i'm calling out facts and not enough have done so in this cycle. certified pre-owned lexus comes with a 161-point inspection, 24/7 roadside assistance plan, 2 years or 20,000 miles of complimentary maintenance, an unlimited mileage warranty up to 6 years, and the confidence of being awarded the best luxury certified pre-owned program. ♪ l/certified, exclusively at your lexus dealer. ♪
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partisanship so bad in this country it now exceeds patriotism. that's any takeaway from the colin powell e-mail hack. surely, you saw the huge headlines this week when the hack exposed the former secretary of state scorn for donald trump and difficulties with hillary clinton in unvarnished language that the general clearly thought would remain private. every organization, enjoy the juicy details with the morning after. concern over colin powell hack e-mails becomes a fear of being next. are any of us safe and we're caught up in the salacious gossip of the partisan politics we're missing the bigger
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picture. where's our patriotism? he's hacked by no friend of the united states. enter dan abrams, the publisher of two highly tracked web sites. he issued a public apology for printing the e-mails and rather than powell being the victim of a crime, the hands of the russian government and pride shamefully compromise, we in the media have just exacerbated the violation by amplifying and spreading the news with little to no guilt. dan abrams joins me now. it's media and law news with a z at the end, your two wblss and as you point out, you enjoy feasting on every morsel. what brought you to the kmachan? >> i needed to expose my own hypocrisy. my web sites are publishing the details of this and i feel horrible about it. the point of this was at least let's admit this is terrible.
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it seemed like no one was even talking about the fact that it may have been the russian government that had hacked colin powell e-mails. think of it this way. what if someone ala watergate went in and stole colin powell's diaries and then come out and publish them. wouldn't there be at least outrage or hand wringing or thinking out loud, should we be publishing this? in this case, there was none of that and my only point, at least let's incorporate that into our thinking and i laid out in that piece why i came to the conclusion that while i was incredibly sorry about this, in the end, i had to go ahead and publish it because it was muse. >> i had an older brother and growing up, we would fight but if you came along and wanted to fight my brother, believe me, we were both against dan abrams. why hasn't that kicked in this
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scenario? we've got hillary, trump, but we're talking about the russians here. why aren't we united against a common enemy? >> there's not 100% certainty it's the russians and most importantly, i think the gossip is just too juicy that we just can't resist it. that, oh my goodness, colin powell, the ceremonious powell who sort of rarely gives unvarnished opinions about politics offering up juicy gossip and analysis of this political campaign, i think it was just too much but beyond that, think about it. it's not the first time. the sony hack in 2014. there was very little sense of, boy, this is wrong. it was all about what did the sony executives say that was bad and wrong and there were heads that were going to fly, et cetera, instead of saying, wait
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a sec, why aren't we making any judgments about the hack? in particular, in this case, when you're potentially talking about not just the russians hacking but potentially the russians hacking to try to influence the election. where's the outrage on that? you previously broke down for. s >> relative to hillary clinton's private e-mail servers and analysis. i'll ask a street smart question. may be the russians, we don't know, you're right, but somebody hacked colin powell, a former secretary of state. doesn't that increase the likelihood that hillary operating multiple devices, her own domain and private servers probably was the victim of such a hack as well and maybe we're going to find out in the next 55 days? >> i don't know about probably. i certainly think it makes it clear that it could have
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happened, right? i'm not going to sit here and say, oh, well this means, therefore, hillary was hacked. it certainly means that hillary could have been hacked. and i think that that's been agreed to and i don't think, as you and i talked about, that that relates to the legal analysis on the hillary clinton case. but there is real concern, i think, on everyone's part now, that we all can be hacked. and as a result, you know, you see people now incrypting their e-mail and making greater efforts, that's fine. but again, that seems to me to shift the issue away from pointing the finger of blame at who did this and then having a little soul searching on our part. in particular, on the media's part to say, huh, shouldn't we be thinking a little bit about why we're publishing this? are there certain aspects of the powell e-mails maybe we shouldn't have published? maybe we should have just published the ones that related to specific thoughts on the
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election and not some of the more salacious ones. should we in the media have offered him any privacy, knowing what the source of this information was? it's a tough question. i think the answer is that the vast majority of what was in there can be considered news and that's the reason i didn't ban it. and i admit it. i'm sort of laying it out there for the public to judge me by saying, i didn't have the fortitude to do it. i'm competing with my welcome back web sites against the politicos that double my traffic and i admit, that's coming into my thinking. you can argue, that's horrible, dan abrams, that's the way you make the decision and i'm just laying it out will for the readers and viewers to decide, at least i'm admitting it, at least i'm thinking about it and at least i'm talking about it. >> i think it's a healthy conversation. thank you for being here to explain, dan, i appreciate it. >> all right, michael. still to come, news os have
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always been careful not to call elections until voting was completely done but a new plan for this year to reveal what's happening in realtime. is that a good idea? here's an example from the 2000 election of how calling an election doesn't always work out. >> excuse me, senator. we have a projection. nbc news is coming on the air right now and we are projecting that when all the votes are counted, the state of florida will go tonight to the vice president, mr. gore will take the state of florida. >> stand by, stand by, cnn right now is moving our earlier declaration of florida back to the too close to call column. hold onto your forks. endless shrimp is back at red lobster. that means you get to try as much as you want... ...of whatever flavors are calling your name. seriously. like new garlic sriracha-grilled shrimp. it's a little spice... ...a little sizzle... ...and a lot just right. and try new parmesan peppercorn shrimp.
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at precisely 11:12 p.m., election night 2012, nbc was the first to declare that barack obama had been reelected president. until then, everyone followed
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journalistic protocol waiting until the last closed but not news to obama or romney ka campaigns that operated sophisticated war rooms with voter turnout. why did the public watching tv all hear reports about the weather or turnout in a general sense but nothing more definitive? if the campaigns know they're doing well in realtime, why can't that information be made available to the public? my next guest wants to give americans insight into who's winning the election as the vote is taking place. would that be good for democracy or will this technology suppress or otherwise impact the vote? joining me now to discuss both points of view, ken smukler from vote turnout and jeff greenfield who worked with cnn, abc, cbs. let me begin with you. how would this work? >> sure, thanks, michael.
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we basically collect four pieces of data, three pieces prior to the election. one piece on election day. we take the early vote numbers which allow us to set the table for election day. we do our own survey research just like nate silver would be doing but we do large scale surveys immediately prior to the election and then historic turnout tracking models to tell us what to expect in each precinct in the battleground state in terms of total turnout. election day, we send our field in and capture one piece of information over time on election day which is actual turnout at that precinct. when you have that actual turnout number and you run it against the models that we've set up with the other data, you get projected outcome in realtime. >> how far will you go? you're going to do this in seven states. colorado is a state. are you going to say that at some point during the course of the day while the nation is voting, donald trump is winning colorado, hillary clinton is winning colorado.
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>> well, colorado is a hybrid because colorado is entire vote by mail. so that call may in fact come right when the polls open on the east coast. i would rather focus on the six states where we actually do play by play on election day and i want to be clear on this. we are the play-by-play announcers so if the eagles for example were crushing the giants in a football game, the play by play guy doesn't say the game is over, we know what the score is. the play-by-play keeps going until the final whistle. it's for the networks to call the election, whether they succeed or fail is on them. >> i know that veteran journalist like jeff greenfield will immediately be thinking, 1980. let me show some tape and then i'll turn to jeff. >> well, the time has come. you've seen the map. we look at the figures and nbc
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news now makes its projection for the presidency. reagan is our projected winner. ronald willsson reagan. sports announcer, governor of california is our projected winner at 8:15 eastern standard time on this election night. >> hey, jeff, you know that people were upset. they said, well, the west coast was still voting. they're calling the election. what concerns, if any, do you have about ken's proposal? >> i did a 180. when i first heard this, they're barbarians and changed my mind. i'll tell you why. the exit poll, particularly back in 1980, don't forget, carter conceded while the west coast opened, that concer is largely based on two democratic members of the house that lost close races and the evidence is all
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anecdotal. i've never been able to figure out who stayed home. the people who won or knew their guy lost but the difference is in this case, let's say that you're a clinton voter in a battleground state and vote casters are telling you the trump turnover so far at 11:00 in the morning is higher. you have the option to call your friends and e-mail and to facebook and say, hey, let's get out there and vote as opposed to numbers that tell you what has happened, you know, and you can't do anything about it. so in this sense, i do think it's potentially an empowering mechanism for voters. unlike the notion of leaking exit polls at 1:00 or 2:00 in the afternoon that used to happen before they locked all of these people in a sealed room and took their cell phones away but it may surprise you. it could be good for democracy. >> jeff, why not the full mon t tee?
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if the ability to tally votes in realtime, the projections, run the board all day long. >> i think that the, i'm not sure. but i think one of the differences may be that you actually can't do that. i mean, there's a point at which you can't just keep going in to a voting booth every hour and pick up the numbers. the thing that concerned me about early leaking of exit polls. i'll make this story very brief. 2004. a bunch of us journalistic types are at a steakhouse, you know, and it's 1:00 in the afternoon and oh, let's get the first wave results. one of our colleagues, it was tom brokaw and said these numbers are really sketchy. my guys back home said don't believe them but everybody said we've got to have the numbers and all for kerry. he's tied in south carolina. winning every battleground state. newt gingrich goes apoplectic
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and misinformerd. the potential for misinformation is much less. >> ken, you get the final word. what makes you think you can do it accurately? >> we have the best and brightest teams working to execute this plan. teams that model turnout and did the dashboard for obama one and teams that did it for george w. i think we have the best and brightest. a group out of palo alto that's designing our mobile app and setting up our platform. and we're working with slate to make sure there's a robust enough platform to make sure every eyeball that wants to see this data can see this on election day. you put the right people in place and execute and you can succeed in this game. >> jeff greenfield, slate is his media partner.
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it will be very interesting to see come election day, what other media outlets, if any, feel comfortable in running with his data. >> that's right. and the one cautionary note is this may tell us decisively whether or not this were to be a blowout. whether or not down ballot votes were affected in later states. so there is that question, i think, we still have to answer. but i just don't think we should yank our hair out just yet. >> i think it's a great conversation. intrigued is a wonderful word. thank you so much. appreciate your being here. thank you both. still to come, the best and worst tweets. i haven't seen anything. i have no idea. what goes on here? cnn, is it? i wish that he would use my twitter handle. when he hammers me, can he at least acknowledge who he is hammeri hammering. thank you, mr. trump.
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hey, i always like to say you can follow me on twitter if you can spell smerconish. let's put some on the screen into if a candidate uses the forum of the debates to promote the idea that the moon landing was faked, the moderator should let it go. no, matt lauer i have the most respect for. in that kind of -- here is my standard, in that scenario, the moderator has to say wait, mr. trump or mrs. clinton. beyond that, it's a debate. that job of cross-examination and confrontation is left to your opponent, not lester holt. hit me with another one. a butter knife away from trump supporters at thanksgiving
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at smerconish, my life. thankful the holidays are after the election this year. i like the way that mauren said other journalists have to look for contradicting points of view. maybe we have time for more. i don't agree with anything from cnn, watching for entertainment purposes only. i don't chair if you watch me for entertainment purposes or factual purposes, as long as you're watching. hit me with another tweet, please. so instead of it being 15% to make the debates, why can't it be being on the ballot in all 50 states, it means all want
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them. they are on all 50 state ballots, they should be on there. thank you so much, see you next week.
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this is cnn breaking news. tonight we begin with breaking news on cnn with truly global implications. military actions in syria, the united nations security council centralbling for an emergency meeting at this hour, and the military air strike that may have been a mistake. we take you to the pentagon for every angle of this breaking story and how it's impact will have a ripple effect across the globe. first, i take

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