tv Book Discussion on Dollarocracy CSPAN January 12, 2014 2:00pm-3:31pm EST
>> host: randy barnett, as a former prosecutor, when she taking people's liberties away from them? >> guest: course good advice, government takes people's liberties away when they violate the rights of others and also can properly regulate is on its regulations are reasonable and can be shown to be reasonable in the pursuit of an appropriate government purpose. i don't know if its nose, but a great many regulations are in pursuit of helping some special interest groups at the expense of the general public were some other competitor. those would not be general-interest types of regulation. reasonable regulations are constitutional prohibitions are also constitutional. i became a state prosecutor because state prosecutors prosecute crimes of murder, armed robbery, theft and those violate the rights of others. >> host: why is the individual mandate in your view in the health care law unconstitutional? >> guest: is actually not only my view.
i justices on the supreme court including chief justice robert thought requiring people to engage in economic activity or commerce in order that it can be regulated was beyond the powers of congress. therefore, the individual mandate is unconstitutional and the reason he was unable to uphold the affordable care act with his view that do this ceiling construction which he changed mandate into an option to either pay a tax combat pay the penalty which he construed as a tax or buy insurance, but you are no longer required to buy insurance because i was unconstitutional, just like we argued. >> host: randy barnett, if someone reads a "restoring the lost consultation," do they have to be a law scholar? >> guest: i hope not. it was for a general lay audience i have people who fret at more than one third event of gifts to others because it really opens their eyes about what is missing in the constitution and how it came to be. it is a serious book.
it is not superlight, although i try to be lighter than a material added at the end of the updated edition, which came out of the last few weeks. their 60 pages of new material at the end and i think there's a lighter touch to that than there was the beginning of the book. generally speaking, is accessible to a generally educated audience. >> host: do you think the constitution is further amended? >> guest: i proposed an amendment to the constitution. the intention is to restore the lost count to two shin. ..
>> host: another one? >> guest: oh, i think there's a proposal to, well, there's a proposal that the court should follow the original meaning of the constitution which is what the book is about. there's a proposal to, basically, repeal the income tax amendment and say congress cannot tax income no matter how derived, but they could have a national sales tax instead. so there's that proposal in there. there's a proposal to ban unfunded mandates that are imposed on states. although there are very few of these proposals that have to do with states across states, they're mostly all to do with individual liberty. >> host: randy barnett, what courses do you teach here at georgetown? >> guest: well, after teaching
my way through the curriculum, i teach our course on common law i, common law ii which is constitutional rights, and this book is about both of those things, and i've taught contracts since i started teaching way back when, and i have a case book in contracts and constitutional law as well. >> host: a lot of our political discussion these days is about national security agency, privacy. what's your take? >> guest: well, i don't talk about it in this book, but i do have a recent piece in the journal called engage published by the federalist society, and i had an op-ed in "the wall street journal" arguing that this bulk data seizures that the nsa has been engaged in is unconstitutional under the fourth amendment and it's actually illegal under the usa patriot act which is what they purport to have as their authority for it. so i'm actually greatly concerned with what the nsa is doing, and i've argued there's serious constitutional questions, and i even joined an amicus brief with jim harper arguing it was unconstitutional.
>> host: i think i read that texas has passed a law making e-mail, giving e-mail fourth amendment protections. >> guest: um, i'm -- i haven't heard about that one. >> host: right. but if that's the case, i mean, with the commerce clause and the interstate commerce clause, how would that play out? >> guest: well, all texas could do is protect e-mail from their own law enforcement officers in the state of texas, which is what they ought to do. they can't really have any effect on what the federal government does when they pass a law like that. >> host: in your view, is e-mail due fourth amendment protection? >> guest: absolutely. i do think they claim to give can it fourth amendment protection when they say they can't read your e-mail, they can only survey the headers, information as to who you send it to and who you got it from, and they're claiming not to be able to read your e-mail, so they're sort of admitting that e-mail is protected already. but be i think metadata which is what they call the headers or in the case of a telephone who you
all or how long you talk for, metaa data ought to be protected as well. it doesn't mean you share it with the world, including your friendly government. >> host: when you look back at the supreme court, who are some of the justices that you most admire, some that you don't? >> guest: i actually don't have very many heroes on the supreme court. most of them i probably am sort of tepid to lukewarm about. i would have to say the first justice harlan who wrote the dissenting opinion in the civil rights cases which was otherwise unanimous besides his vote was -- and also a dissenting opinion in plessy v. ferguson on behalf of a very important reading of the 13th and 14th amendment, he is somebody who at least at that stage in his career i admire. also chief justice salmon p. chase who was an anti-slavery lawyer. his nickname when he was a lawyer was the attorney general for runaway slaves. when he became chief justice succeeding the racist justice
roger tawny appointed by abraham lincoln, i thought that was a great moment for liberty, and i've done a lot of work on salmon chase in recent years. >> host: randy barnet, t, restoring the lost constitution is the name of the book. >> you're watching booktv, nonfiction authors and books every weekend on c-span2. >> coming up next on booktv, a columnist for the nation magazine argue that the increase in campaign spending over the past four decades has hurt democracy. their program, from the international house at the university of chicago, is an hour and a half. >> hey, folks. my name is rick pearlstein, this
is john nichols, robert mcchesney. we are here under a triple-barreled auspice, the global voices author series or which is sponsored by the international house of the university of chicago in whose home room we sit for the folks on tv, and it's also sponsored, the global voices author series, by the very distinguished seminary co-op bookstore which is around the corner from here, and my own interview series every month at the seminary co-op in which i interview chicago activists and authors and troublemakers of various sorts which until today was named after my 2008 book nixon land, rixonland, but i decided that sounded like a bad charlie chan movie. so i'm changing the name as of today, it's the rickipedia
series. [laughter] so welcome, and welcome to john and bob. i'm going to briefly tell you guys a little about them. john is a native of kind of a small rural town in wisconsin, union grove, right? >> yeah. >> and did some newspapering in various places in the midwest and in pittsburgh and came back to work in madison at one of the most distinguished institutions of progressive newspapering in america, capitol times, whose editor was the legendary baiter of joe mccarthy, william evue. and the smart alecks in turn baited him by having an evue/mccarthy lecture every year in which they printed the invitations on pink paper.
[laughter] and coming back to madison, he also became an essayist and a journalist with a national audience for both the progressive -- which is another outstanding wisconsin institution based in madison going strong almost 100 years now -- >> yeah. >> and the nation's old toest journal of opinion -- oldest journal of opinion, the nation, for which i am a regular contributor too. and he is the washington correspondent. and he's the best kind of washington correspondent there is, the kind who lives a thousand miles from washington. [laughter] so he's not messed up in the tangle of egos and distraction and insanity which we all know about. we're speaking today on the day of the end of the government shutdown or the -- as senator cruz called it, the government slowdown. bob mcchesney was a rock and roll journalist in seattle. his magazine, "rocket," is
enshrined in the rock and roll hall of fame in cleveland as one of the tap roots of the seattle music scene that gave us nirvana. but he decided that that was not nearly romantic and sexy enough, so he went to graduate school and became one of the most distinguished historians on questions of telecommunications, mass media, democracy which, of course, is the name of his seminal book "telecommunications, mass media and democracy" which came out in 1993, and a history of how the broadcast system that we know today came about. which was in no way an inevitable story with lots of interesting contingencies in it. and another book that has gotten a lot of attention and still speaks to a lot of debates we're having called rich media, poor democracy. and we'll certainly hear a lot about those themes.
john has written a bunch of books too, the most recent being "uprising." and it's about how madison kind of became the global symbol of the democracy movement we see springing up in places like cairo, tiananmen square. some of us in chicago, including me, would point our cars to madison and rally around the state capitol when governor walker, who ran as a sane, sensible republican, the day after he got into office decided he was going to crush public unions. >> you know a little bit about republicans who change their -- >> that's right. >> -- stripes. >> a little like george bush saying, you know, the day after the 2004 election he had a mandate to privatize social security when he hadn't even run on that. but anyway, we are all people who get very distracted when we talk about republicans.
[laughter] so we're going to stick to the script here. today we're here on behalf of a very interesting, very readable and very purchaseable book. [laughter] best read new and in hard cover right here called "dollar -- doll rock rah si." i wanted to ask them about this word that they've coined for the book, dollar rassi. book, dollarocracy. >> what does this word mean, and why did you go in this direction? >> we wrestled with, and you know about this, rick. we wrestled with the idea of finding a one-word title. like nixonland or something like
that. because we know it's important when you have these debates about elections and politics, it's so easy to make it complex and say, oh, there's all these things, you've got to understand all this stuff. in fact, we know what the problem is in the american experiment. most americans want and actually to some extent think that they should live this a democracy. -- in a democracy. in a democracy, the vote matters most. but what we argue in this book is that we have moved very, very rapidly this the last 20-30 years toward a dollarocracy where the dollar matters more than the vote. and we think this is a critical thing for people to understand. when we're talking about the dollar mattering more than the vote, not simply campaign finance. it's not simply, you know, people giving big money to support candidates, although in the book we detail that, in fact, in the 2012 campaign in the full cycle roughly $10 billion was given and spent. in fact, a little more than that. but it's also how our media
works, how the whole of our political structure works in deference to the dollar rather than in deference to the vote. and the best way to sum it up is to simply say that we think that today we live in a system where massive infusions of money and respect for that money trumps the will of the people. and, thus, when the people of this country say we don't want to have any more debates about social security, medicare and medicaid, we believe that those programs should be maintained, we don't want them to be ripped apart, we don't want them vouch offerrized and privatized, and we say that quite loudly in an election, three or four months later we find the folks in washington once again discussing privatization of social security, means testing of medicare and things like that. and what we believe happens in our country is ideas which are defeated, that lose, that are actually killed and buried are reanimated by money. >> and the idea -- >> what we refer to as the
zombie ideas that walk among us, and that isn't how it's supposed to be. the will of the people ought to guide the debate, not the ability of a handful of very, very wealthy people to steer us toward what they want to talk about. and so that's the great wrestling match. democracy versus dollarocracy. >> how quaint. >> yeah. >> bob, anything to add? >> i would just say the research is pretty striking in this regard. princeton university press published two leading books by political scientists last year in 2012 that were the years of research on how congress works. >> yes, wonderful stuff. >> wonderful stuff. marty gillens, i mean, the best political scientists in the country. and they both reached identical conclusions that if you look at congress and the decisions it makes, the values, concerns and interests of the constituents of members of congress count for nothing until they get to be very wealthy. and it's really dollarocracy personified or typified. really people have no influence over their members whatsoever.
even worse, what they discovered was that most members of congress, they will usually take the exact opposite of what the poorest third of their constituents want. they can be counted on to never support their poorest constituents. the forward is by be u.s. senator bernie senator sanders, and bernie -- senator sanders was at our release party three weeks ago in washington, d.c. >>? a graduate of this institution. >> we saw preparing for the march on washington here. >> and he's been in the u.s. senate for seven years now, before or that he served eight terms in the u.s. house of represent tefs. and in his introduction he said he could state emphatically and without qualification it is impossible to get any legislation passed in congress that is opposed by wall street or corporate america. impossible. that's dollarocracy this a nutshell. >> right. and these two political science books, this is not a question. it's done using the most rigorous methods -- >> these are the best people in the country.
>> yeah. and doing vote by vote and doing opinion polls of what people in the lowest third believe and middle third and the upper third. >> yeah. >> so there's really no questioning that. and, of course, we all know this, we all know how money has become the dominator of politics. so what i've kind of chosen to do next is, actually, throw it straight to the center of the book -- >> okay. >> do -- the middle of the book and the stuff i found myself eye-opening to me which is something we don't think about at all, which is the role of money in local news broadcasts. >> yeah. >> by the early 90s, the revenue numbers constituted around 2% of local tv station revenues, and a decade later tv political advertising was between 5-8% of a total local tv ad revenue. in 2012 political advertising accounted for around 20% of tv station revenues. 20%, and we're talking about elections that don't go on all
the time. so these quadrennial elections and these, you know, senate elections every two years, congressional elections, are just basically like bonanzas in which political campaigns shovel money to these local newscasts, and fascinatingly enough, there used to be -- this is probably stuff you should say, but this is my favorite stuff -- there used to be a gentleman's agreement that you just didn't show political ads -- >> no. >> yeah, that's what i'm talking about. and there was also a section 317? >> uh-huh. >> of the federal communications act which stipulates, i guess, the force of law, i guess. even if it isn't enforced. all tv commercials have to be identified as to who's sponsoring them. which, of course, is not even honored in the breach. and, um, a fascinating development -- twofold, i think. one is that they've expanded the time that newscasts go on during the election season not to
include more news, but to include more commercials. and because this is, you know, 20% annual revenue but probably 80% during these hot, contested campaign seasons, the fact that what's going on this these tv commercials is the biggest political story going -- >> [inaudible] >> can't be covered. >> right. >> so why don't you guys dilate upon that. >> let me take an initial piece, and then bob can take -- just to set this up, one of the things we do in the book was that we started this book three yearsing a, four years ago now -- three years ago, four years ago now, and our purpose was to look at the entire process of electing a president and a congress and all of our elected officials and understanding how it works. we didn't want to look at it with preconceived notions. we believed things had changed, so we wanted to look at that fundamental process in an american democracy from the start and look at it all the different ways. and one of the things that surprised us the most was that in this country we have no
system to figure out how much money is spent on our campaigns. so we don't, we don't know how much money is spent on our campaigns. and particularly on -- >> oh, yeah, that's kind of funny. the first chapter you say, oh, the first $10 billion election, and you're like, $10 billion? >> the thing that struck us was there were all these assumptions about it, and yet there is no system. and so we literally as authors had to step back and create a model for measuring the money. and what we found was that instead of the six billion that was initially reported in all the newspapers around the time of the 2012 elections said $6 billion was spent, that's an amazing amount of money. what we found is it was actually $10 billion. and because all of those $6 billion figures only looked at federal elections, president and congress. we started digging down can, local elections, state elections, judicial elections, referendums n. california alone, $550 million was spent on state reference -- referendums, the
better part of $100 million in maryland. huge influence of money. now, almost all of this money -- i shouldn't say that. say an overwhelming proportion of this money goes to television, particularly local television stations and particularly to that area around the newscasts and the popular programs in the evening where most people are watching. so what we began to understand is there is this massive, largely unregulated and even unmeasured inflow of money into these television stations. and lo and behold, it does transform them. it transforms not merely how they approach their own schedule, how they structure their evening, but also we would argue that there's been a tremendous standing down of journalism at the same time that you've had this massive inflow of money. and at that point i throw it to bob, because it's bob who has really looked a lot at what it
does to these stations and how they respond to it. >> well, the subtitle of the money is how the money election complex is destroying america, and the reason why i wanted to make sure media was many there is going babb to the 1990s, commercial broadcasting has become one of the core elements that has opposed any form of our election system because they are the main economic beneficiaries. and they are to campaign finance reform what the nra is to gun control. it's quite clear. they own the board in washington. the chronicle is in the 1990s there was a concerted effort to get free air time for candidates as a condition of broadcasters getting their licenses, there was an effort to allow, have debates aired locally. and the nab was so strong concern. >> the national association of broadcasters, which no one knows about. everyone knows about the national rifle association. the national association of broadcasters is treated by politicians in washington as the more fearsome lobby. >> unquestionably.
the second head of the fcc commission, william canard, went around the country and found there was of unanimous support to have local broadcasters give free air time to candidates, really draw people into the elections in their community. and he went back to washington, and he was told in so many terms -- i interviewed him on this, it's in the book -- that if he continued, it would ruin his career. it was simply not an issue you could touch in washington. that was in the 1990s. now since then the revenues has increased dramatically, and what's striking about this increase is that these are not ma and pa stations. you say local commercial broadcasters you think mr. and mrs. mcgillicuddy on the station. no, these are owned by about eight to ten of the largest media companies in the country including disney, comcast, news corporation, excuse me. and so what's happened is this is where it gets cynical and shameless in these companies. these companies get monopoly
broadcast licenses for scarce spectrum to get tv channels on airwaves, and they're supposed to do it because they'll to something in the public interest, something they wouldn't do for if they were out to make as much money as possible. that's why they get the license. and when that federal communications commissioner and the courts have defined what's the highest form of public service that a local station can provide its community, the answer is they should cover local elections, they should cover debates, they should give free time to candidates. that's how they're supposed to legally qualify to earn their monopoly license to get that local tv channel. and what we see is the amount of ads are gone up. this sort of coverage has basically been eliminated. we had five million candidate ads and political ads on tv in the 2012 cycle, double what we had in 2008. they filled up the airwaves. i mean, basically, at one point in some of the battleground states 30 be, 40 ads in a row. and what you get is the
government is not enforcing that law. this lobby so strong, it doesn't have to fear that they will enforce the law and demand that free air time be given. and then there's one thing that's worse, and, you know, the great development of the citizens united case in 2010 was it said, basically, everyone can give as much money as they want, corporation, labor union or individual to a campaign as long as they didn't give formally to the campaign itself, but a third party group. this was a change in the law by the supreme court that affects one-tenth of 1% of americans, those americans who might give what is more than the legal limit which is several thousand dollars for most campaigns and $120,000 total for federal campaigns. so basically, citizens united had no effect on 99.9% of americans. but for billionaires, they can give as much money as they wanted to cover campaigns. most of this money went into what are called third party groups, dark, shadowy groups that don't have to meet the same eye tier ya for disclosure.
much of the money became dark. we don't know who gave a lot of this money -- >> and there's a really good study showing that, i think it was jamison who did it, showing ads sponsored by these third party, dark money people are demonstrably more false. >> that's what i'm getting to. >> okay. sorry to steel your mojo, man. >> and fiercely negative. >> yeah. the ads are almost all attack ads against other candidates, and they're the slimiest, sleaziest, worst ones. this is why it's important. these ads that are run by third party groups are not covered by the first amendment. candidates can basically run whatever they want to run because the candidate has a first amendment right to run whatever they want in a political ad. third party groups are not candidate ads, they're supposed to be treated like commercial ads like a used car lot. and if a commercial property wants to run an ad, the tv station has to verify it's accurate or it can lose its license for a commercial product. >> does that ever happen? [laughter] >> you cynic.
[laughter] >> lowdown, brother. >> here's the crucial point, so these third party ads that the koch brothers paid for, these attack ads that filled the airwaves by law were supposed to be reviewed by the station, and if they weren't proven to be accurate, the station was not supposed to run it with fear of losing its broadcast license if it continued to run it knowing it was frawj element. and be what the found, this is the shamelessness of the media in this process jumps out. all these ads are bogus. everyone knows that. i mean, they're all attack ads. at worst, their contextualized lies. and so tv stations with their few remaining journalists would do fact checks on their tv ads, and stations would actually review these third party attack ads and find, like rick said, that they are filled with fraudulent claims. they're completely lame. and the same station whose news team would air these ads would still run the same ad a hundred,
two hundred more times and rake in the money even though, you know, by the law they should be held liable for that. and the federal communications commission refused to enforce the law, they refused to touch it -- >> their news organizations have stipulated to their illegality. >> yeah. they've done it with their own news organization. and as a result of this, you have of this absurd situation where there's simply no accountability whatsoever. anything goes. the head of the iowa broadcasting association said the only criteria for whether an ad runs is if the check clears. >> right. right. and then you get into some of these stories that get missed because local elections are not being covered, you know? of course, presidential elections are covered very poorly, but the book is studded with these stories. you have you have one about how governor walker in wisconsin, your best pal, the guy who probably bought your vacation this year, managed to sneak in and change the pension law in wisconsin? >> oh, yeah. >> so the state employees are no
longer vested in the pension system until they have of worked for the state for five years instead of being partially vested immediately. >> uh-huh. >> and it wasn't broken by any of the news stations in madison. maybe you can tell the story. >> well, i mean, it's, in fact, we see again and again and again that media has stood down as regards coverage of local, state and national politics. but it's at its worst at the local and state level. and we detail in the book how many statehouses across this country are barely covered, i mean, by the standards that anyone would have traditionally thought. and one of the mistakes we make is to think that because a bunch of people crowd into the white house briefing room, that we've got to -- we have a sufficient media to do journalism in this country. we don't. we don't have sufficient coverage. so literally things like this. you talk about massive changes in how a state operates are
exposed by bloggers or by, you know -- >> progressive magazines, you know, 20,000 subscribers. >> exactly. and thank heavens for them. it's very, very important. but understand this, this doesn't work. >> yeah. >> it doesn't, it doesn't fill the void. and it doesn't cover our politics. because here's the deal, if you're bringing $10 billion in ads into the game and then you're saying to, you know, like saying to a couple journalists, yeah, hold the this all to account, make this all work, fact check the whole thing, they cannot possibly keep up with it, and here's an even bigger crisis, fact checking ads shouldn't ought to be what political coverage is about. political coverage ought tonight about big ideas and important, you know, really important things that are being debated. instead, we're literally saying, well, what did they say in this ad, and how effective will this be. it feeds the horse race. and the last thing i'll say just to give you an example, the wisconsin fight becomes very
rell rapt to our book. because -- relevant to our book. we spent an immense amount of time looking at local races across the country and how they are dramatically warped by money. the presidential race in 2012 was not a situation where, you know, scrappy barack obama beat big, tough mitt romney. it wasn't david v. goliath. obama raised -- he and his supporters and groups that supported him -- raised almost as much as romney. huge amounts of money. and so in the presidential race you ended up with a situation where big money beat slightly bigger money. that's the reality of that. but when you move down into these local races, these state races, you end up with situations where you have literally an overwhelming inflow of money, huge amount of money often from out of state, and that is not counted by journalism that gives people some sort of sense of what's going on. because you have so much less coverage. that's -- just the final thing,
the best story that we tell, our favorite one, is in west virginia. >> ah. >> we tell a bunch of stories about west virginia where in west virginia, working class state, state with a lot of mining, you know, the mining companies are pretty powerful. they basically run a lot of what goes on politically and economically and even culturally. and in west virginia they felt like they weren't getting the best break from the state supreme court. and so as a key case involving a mining company that was moving up to the state supreme court, the owner of the company came in and spent millions of dollars to displace the swing justice on the court. and that's a very, very convenient way to, very inexpensive way, actually, to buy results. >> yeah. >> but then we also look at the west virginia attorney general -- >> attorney generals are so important. they regulate commercial products. >> well, and they also protect consumers -- >> yeah. >> they have a huge role in open records, open meetings, so many things that attorneys general do.
so in west virginia they had this longtime attorney general, he'd served forever, and he was pretty pro-consumer. no big lefty, no big liberal, and by all account, an on the side of the people attorney general. they wanted to get rid of him. so they got a guy who had been a washington insider who had not practiced law in west virginia, this is the top law enforcement officer in the state. he got a west virginia law license, and i think it's four days later he filed to run for attorney general. and then they had this massive inflow of money, and he beat the incumbent attorney general, a guy who was fresh into the legal community of the state. >> kind of like getting married by one of your friends who got an internet license to be a preacher. >> well., and here's what the trouble is. this new attorney general is or there and knows exactly why he's there. he's not -- he didn't work his
way up the political process, he had huge amounts of money behind him. so much money that he could overwhelm the sentiments of the state and actually overwhelm the media in the state. we write a lot about that in the book, because we think the real power of the money and media election complex is at the state and local level where so many of decisions about our lives are made. >> right. and a big part of all your work, bob, is a it did not have to be in this way story. these things happened because political decisions and political struggles happened along the way, and one of my favorites in the book is the whole saga of public broadcasting which was really fascinating and really kind of held out some promise. it was kind of like the lost promise of the public option for health care, the lost promise of -- >> yeah. >> -- public broadcasting. so maybe you can take us through a little. i was disappointed by one thing, you didn't mention the guy in the nixon white house who helped put the stranglehold on public broadcasting was antonin scalia. >> well, young antonin.
>> last book. >> okay. >> other countries don't have tv commercial advertising for campaigns. you know, if you take all the money that -- germany just had a national election about a month ago, and the christian democratic party was returned to power. if you took every dollar that german politicians' campaigns spent per voter in their german national elections, for every dollar that they spent in 2012 just on our federal elections to be compared, to be accurate for the comparison for president and congress, we spent $32. we outspent germany 32 to 1. and most other countries spend like germany does per voter, not like us. we're way off the democratic grid. as jimmy cart canner said this -- carter said this summer, the united states is no longer a functional democracy. when you outspend a country like that, like germany, the more money doesn't improve the quality of your elections, it demeans it.
because it just opens the floodgates for that top one-tenth of 1% to come in and do across the country. and where this money goes is to commercial broadcasters for these ads. now here's what happened. in the 1960s, tv advertising started in earnest. it started a bit in the '50s, but in 1960 it was pretty clear it was going to become a growing, even dominant part of our political culture, and commercial broadcasters were more than willing to sell the product. other countries had public systems that dominated all the other democratses, so that was never even an issue, and they never developed that culture, and they still don't have that culture. it's illegal in germany, britain, sweden or norway. they're considered to campaigns what chemical gas is to warfare. they're simply off the chart of acceptable types of communications in a free society. and in the united states, our media response of our politicians in the 1960s was not up like that of other
countries. they realized these were going to be expensive and of dubious value. so from the get go there was a concern that maybe we can do something to limit the role these tv ads play -- >> a bipartisan -- >> a bipartisan consensus. this was not a liberal versus conservative. everyone sort of got it this was fundamentally changing the nature of politics in way that was not healthy both in terms of raising the amount of money that was going to have to be raised and the dubious nature of the content of these alds. and as a result of that, there were efforts in the 1960s when we set up our public broadcasting system, one of the key components of why it was pushed for with pbs and npr and one of the main things that rallied popular support for the idea more than anything else is the idea we would have election coverage, campaign coverage. even by 1968, people were nauseated by all the tv ads, by the lame spin. and here we were in 1968 one of truly great political years in american history as you know more than anyone with so many crucial issues on the table.
and instead we're getting moronic ads, nixon's with the with marching bands like a car commercial. >> that's a great ad. [laughter] compared to now. >> one of the things we discovered, people hated political advertising from the beginning. when they were polled for it, they didn't like it. >> it was so fascinating how these old ad guys hated -- >> yeah. >> it's great to sell soap, it's honest, honorable work, but the idea of selling a political candidate, they didn't want to do it. >> that's right. in these early ads, one of the ad agencies yoused to -- used to poll people every year, and no one ever liked political advertising. finally they even stopped giving the option that you could like it, it was just how much you hated it was the scale. [laughter] but what's striking is the ads from the '60s and early '70s were not that negative compared to today. by comparison to today, they were quite striking. robert redford made a movie called "the candidate" in 1972
which was supposed to be a critique of how the marketing campaigns and how horrible it was and how demeaning it was, and they showed several of the ads that the robert redford senate candidate does in 1973. they're all positive, and they're supposed to be really horrible. but today compared to what we've just gone through, they look like the gettysburg address. wow, that's a powerful statement. >> so the 1972 one where nixon had a guy in a hard hat eating a sandwich saying that if george mcgovern wanted 47 percent of the country to free load off the other 53% of the country was pretty bad. but, yeah -- >> this was a movie i'm talking about. >> yeah. >> so, i mean, at all times the idea of getting rid of these ads was understood right now we had to do it. >> what happened? >> what happened with public broadcasting was that it never had the political support. i mean, it had some support. the difference between american public broadcasting and public
broadcasting in europe and east asia is that in those countries public broadcasting provides the full array of services for the entire country, sports and entertainment, news and documentaries, feature films, the works. and its job is to serve everyone in the country with everything. and commercial broadcasters don't get first claim to things. in america the way it was set up in 1967, was that public broadcasters would do all the stuff commercial broadcasters couldn't make money on. the way they wanted to make it a great system, to their credit this 1967 -- and we have this in the book with bill moyer's conversations with lbj -- okay, they can't do the stuff that's commercially successful, let's have it do the edgy stuff, bring in people who are cut out of the picture, minority groups, young people, artists, dissidents. let it be sort of the provocative agent of our culture. but, you know, they tried that for about a week, and then people in congress said what are you doing these exposes on
banks' red lining practice -- >> yeah, the selling of the pentagon. >> and it was enough of that. we just want a tepid, lame broadcasting that doesn't take viewers away and also doesn't offend us and do anything that's too racy. so you got dinosaur shows and classical, you know, animal shows. >> and yanni at the acropolis. [laughter] [inaudible conversations] >> high-end stuff too. >> somehow c-span ended up as a part of the system. maybe we should give a nod to that. >> and that was a victory, one of the concessions they made to have their cable monopoly, and you pay for c-span accordingly was we pay -- because we pay much higher rates. are you allowed to run that? [laughter] >> of course. >> and now we have citizens united which, basically, in a lot of ways is the story of the west virginia supreme court writ large, because a story i think a lot of people who follow be politics because, um, supreme court reporting can be
difficult, and there is sort of like some false equivalency in supreme court reporting too. but the way that citizens united went down was kind of an offense to sort of every canon of judicial good order. i'd love to hear you guys tell that story, and i would love you to tell the sequel which unfolds last week where they're going to take it into the separate sphere. >> you asked that exactly right, rick. >> thank you. >> i'm sure there'll be a question you ask wrong later. [laughter] but you nailed it there because you put it in the context of not just one decision, but many. and this is how we approach the citizens united ruling in the book. citizens united, most everybody knows about it, is a ruling, very simple, very minor case in some senses. it was a group of people who had made a movie about hillary clinton. they wanted to publicize this very critical movie, and so they
wanted to put ads up saying we have got this movie that exposes hillary clinton. it was rough stuff, questions of how it was funded. so there was challenge back and fort. and it got up to the supreme court. interestingly enough, john roberts -- the chief justice of the supreme court -- said, you know, you guys haven't really asked for enough here. we want you to bring in more briefs. we want everybody to kind of think bigger on this thing. and suddenly citizens united -- >> literal judicial activism. >> right. like the most active you could possibly be because you're literally saying to people, we want a bigger case. you tepid lawyers here aren't doing the job. >> like going on judge judy and saying, you know, my roommate stiffed me for $1,000, and the judge saying didn't he stiff you for $8,000? >> don't you want to get his house, you know? and his car? and so they expanded it out. and it became this case which knocked down 100-year-old barriers to corporate money in politics and really opened up the process to such an extent
that it became a shorthand for money in politics. and this is the important thing to understand, we begin the story of citizens united in the book in the 1960s. not in 2010 when it was ruled on. and what we argue is that going back a long time ago you saw some people who recognized the power of the court as a vehicle by which to strike down campaign finance laws, some of which had been put in place by teddy roosevelt a hundred years ago. and the most interesting character and a guy who becomes a real celebrity in our book is louis powell. louis powell was a lawyer in virginia, and he was quite a respected lawyer. corporate lawyer -- >> aba. >> yeah. tobacco, you know, kind of worked for a lot of corporations. he worked for william morris -- >> yes. >> and at the time when tobacco regulation was becoming a big question. >> philip morris. >> here's the great thing, this is way you get to understand the
thing, and i do recommend the book. it's a fine holiday gift and and also a great way to get the whole story. >> i read it, it's good. >> it's really fun. [laughter] bottom line is that louis powell in the late 1960s, early 1970s, he saw the regulation of the tobacco industry as well as corporations in general. and he started not having tobacco ads on tv anymore. the last tobacco ad aired, and right around that time louis powell, very close to the u.s. chamber of commerce and other groups, he sits down and writes a memo. it's a very short memo. we detail it in the book, and it's mostly there. basically what he said was, look, you know, if this government has the power to tell corporations, you know, what they can advertise and if they begin to really regulate corporations, we might well end up in a situation where the people have some significant voice over the direction of the economics and the business life
of the country. and that could be very, very problematic for high profits. and so in this memo he outlined and said, look, you know what? corporations have got to enter in this political game in a much more serious way. they've got the start think tanks like, i don't think, like the heritage foundation. they've got to start legislative groups at the state level like the american legislative exchange council, perhaps. they've got to get involved in creating their own media, maybe having conservative media. i know it's an incredible concept. but one of the most important things they've got to do is get really serious about the courts. they've got to make sure there are people on the courts who understand the importance of business and the importance of, you know, corporations being able to do what they want to do, wealthy people be able to do what they want to do. this memo moved like wildfire through the business community. there were literally people in 19, in the early 1970s who were saying can i get a copy of the powell memo? it was like this hot commodity, except that nobody outside the business community knew it
existed. >> yeah. >> nobody knew. and yet in its existence it so excited the business community that corporations began to move their lobbying shops out of new york and out of other places to washington. >> the national association of manufacturers have been in new york -- >> forever. >> -- decades. >> and so suddenly you saw this massive explosion of lobbying and this massive explosion of money in politics. >> but a different kind of lobbying. when a company like quaker oats in chicago or morton salt or something like that or, um, you know, a communications company sent a lobbyist to washington, their brief was to make sure that the bills that were passed advantaged their company vis-a-vis the competition. >> right. >> the idea of lobbying kind of for corporations as a class, a kind of union of capital was what was the innovation of the '70s. and there's lots of great young historians burrowing into the
archives and figuring out how this happened. >> and we borrow and build on the work of many, many good writers and many, many good thinkers here. but i think one of the things that perhaps makes our book unique is a connection of the powell memo to then the story of what happened with the court. because, of course, shortly after louis powell wrote his memo -- >> he was nominated by nixon. >> -- richard nixon, who was having a terrible time getting a southerner on the court -- >> right. he's seen as a moderate. >> well, you know, he had not join with the the darker forces during the segregation era, at least in any kind of way. and so it was different than some of the previous guys that nixon had tried to nominate. and so the end result was that powell was swept through and got quickly on the court. only one member of the senate voted against him. >> yeah, 90-1. >> and the senator who voted against him was fred harris from oklahoma. >> great left-wing -- >> pop list, you know, real kind of old school, populist senator. and fred harris said, you know, when i look at this guy, i just
don't think he's going to be all that twood for working people -- good for working people on the court. and lo and behold, as soon as powell got on the court, he became the intellectual underpinning of a series of rulings going back to buckley v. vallejo, then through -- these are all the names of different ones -- that clock knocked down campaign finance rules and regulations again and again and again. >> yes. >> now -- >> you trace that out very -- >> he had an enemy, he had a guy -- >> ironic. >> he had a guy, i'm going to tell you, you guys won't believe it. name a supreme court justice who you think was a powell adversary. anyone? anyone want to guess? >> rehnquist. >> rehnquist. >> exactly right, william rehnquist, one of the most conservative people ever to serve on the u.s. supreme court. >> >> and wisconsin native. [laughter] >> but william rehnquist said, you know, look, this is crazy. if you start to knock down all these campaign finance rules,
let money flow into politics, you're going to end up with a situation where rich people are going to define what the issues are and who wins. you can't do that. that's not a fair political game. so rehnquist kept pushing back at him, powell ultimately left the court very honored, very, you know, well regarded, very little talk about his role on this. >> yeah. no one ever talks about the chamber of commerce cases, they always talk about -- >> yeah. >> you know, and gay marriage and all this wonderful, important stuff. but this stuff kind of sneaks under the radar. >> and it snuck all the way through. so finally powell leaves the court, he gets replaced. rehnquist leaves the court. finally rehnquist goes off the court. he's replaced by john roberts. and john roberts, unlike rehnquist -- >> also sold as fairly moderate. >> boy, he was all in for this stuff. so that's the arc of history that we tell in the book, of how the powell position from the outside in the early 1970s has now become the law of the land as imposed not by the congress,
not by the people, not demanded by citizens, but, in fact, scoped out by our supreme court. and what we argue is that this is a dire circumstance not because of what's happened already, but because, as you mentioned, there's no evidence that this court is going to stop. >> uh-huh. >> and so when we try to talk about campaign finance reform, when we try to talk about regulating lobbyists and money in politics and all this, the reality is that it certainly looks to us like we have a court that will shoot down any effort to do it. >> yeah. in mccutcheon, there was no evidentiary record that they were kind of ruling on. it was almost kind of spun out of midair. >> we should explain to people that mccutcheon is a case that says rich people can give more money to candidates because there are some limits on how much a wealthy person could give to a bunch of candidates. now, once it dramatically expanded -- >> as opposed to third parties.
>> as opposed to third parties. but here's the interesting part of it, why would you care? why do you care? it gets back to what bob was talking about. because those candidate ads come at the lowest rate on the rate card. they're cheap. you can put a lot more of them on. so if we expand the amount of money that rich people can give to candidates, we supercharge the power of their campaign contributions. now, why at this point in our history, why would the supreme court see as an essential, you know, front-of-the-ticket chase one that supercharges the ability of wealthy people to influence our politics? do they not have enough? [laughter] >> never enough. >> and there's -- >> it was said the goal of the labor movement was -- >> more. >> -- more. >> you know, the other side of the coin that fits in with this discussion is that the other major issue that roberts is obsessed with and has his opinion written before the case comes before him is justifying
voter suppression. and we had the great -- i use the term -- >> which rehnquist does not have an honorable history -- >> no. >> we wouldn't have counted on rehnquist. >> but we've seen in the last four years at the same time there's been this effort to unleash the ability of billionaires and a hundred millionaires to give unlimited money and ceos, in an effort to make it harder for poor people to vote and people of color. and it's one of the great tendencies, and the court has ratified this. the supreme court the this summer, threw out the relevant part of the voting rights act which prohibited southern states from reinstituting meds that traditionally keep black people from voting. immediately after that's pieced -- and then they said, of course they'd never do that anymore. >> right. and, basically, it was like a floodgate opened. >> within 40 hours, five southern states -- >> right, and congress was going to fix it. let's get back to that when we get a look at what is to be done. look, isn't the internet going to is save us from all this? >> um -- [laughter]
you want me to field that first, john? >> i would take a little piece and let you take the big piece. >> okay. >> that's a joke, by the way. >> we write a lot about the internet, and the one critical thing i want to emphasize is that i have been, i i started blogging in 1999, and i've been, i live on the internet. i tweet, i do all -- i have nothing against the internet. >> john, did you hear that obama in his remarks today blamed bloggers for the government shutdown? >> who wouldn't, you know? >> don't listen to the bloggers. >> well, unless they're good bloggers like me. but this is an important thing to understand. it is not -- bob and i are not against the internet. but we do want people to understand the internet and put it in context. there is one of the most dangerous things that happens today is the suggestion that the internet is going to fill the void created by the death of old
media, of journalism. and this is, it's an easy concept. and it's one that makes us feel good. it's like, well, there's something out this that's -- that's going to get us through this crisis. but i'll just cite a pew study from a couple years ago and let bob take it up from here just on the journalism side of it. pew looked at baltimore, maryland, a very classic u.s. city. and they studied all the ways people fete their information, and they said, you know, how do you get, how do you find out? they found that even in recent years most people still got their information from old media, from the newspaper, from television. and they also found be mostly what was called journalism was produced by old media, newspapers and television. what happened on the internet was a restating of that, maybe a commenting on it, but very little actual journalism, very few people actually running out and doing journalism. the reason for this is that as we see newspapers lay off reporters all over the place, radio stations lay off on-air
personallies, journalists really leafing the the field in huge numbers -- leaving the field in huge numbers and actually old media outlets literally shutting down, you're not seeing a commensurate hiring on the internet. there's no, no evidence of this filling of the void. and so communities that not that many years ago might have 500 people going out to cover their local and state governments on a daily basis -- that's their job. they're going to do it no matter what. that's their job. they go out and cover their school board, their city council, their lower -- you're down now to many, many fewer people in the old media outlets, and there aren't -- there's no filling of that void on the other side. and the critical thing that we found was this: in the pew study, it showed that newspapers are still the primary source of gathering information, but the baltimore sun, the newspaper they looked at, was doing 33%
less, producing 33% fewer stories than ten years ago, 73% fewer than 20 years ago. so the old media's producing less and less, but the new media isn't filling the void. so it gets back to the core of what we write about in this book. if you have this standing down, then what fills that void? that's just an empty space. >> well, you guys in your last book had a great answer, because you looked through the census data, public relations people. >> well, public relations, but we say something else in this book as well, campaign ads. the ads film the void. and at this point i'll throw it to bob, because bob will explain why it's even worse than you think. and bob is the it's even worse than you think guy of our team. [laughter] and -- >> we're having a reception -- you get cyanide pills -- >> no, no. [laughter] but the critical thing is why the internet cannot fill the void. >> yeah. i mean, i think for a long time -- you know, the crisis of journal i'm john just described, the freefall collapse of
reporters covering politics, covering anything in independent, competitive newsrooms, it's the great story of the past two decades in the united states. and it means that when you go to vote, most of the races get no coverage whatsoever. they're not covered at all. you're left at the mercy of campaign ads if you have any information at all. and this is a central problem because our entire governing system, our constitution is based on having a credible, viable process that gives information to people who don't have a lot of property so they can participate as effective citizens. it's really the centerpiece of american history, something we should be very proud of. and it's collapsing before our eyes. and for a long time, the hope was eventually the internet we'd have american enyes knewty, yankee ingenuity, figure out how to make money online, and eventually we'd have great journalism, solve the problem, we'd all live happily ever after. now it's becoming clear, however, that that will nebraska happen or will not happen in the
visible future. for the last hundred years, advertising has supported between 50-100% depending on the medium. the deal was advertisers had to buy ads in news media in order to reach their target audience and, therefore, they had to help subsidize journalists and reporters. they never wanted to do it, it was purely opportunistic. they were forced to do it, that's the only way they could get their target audience. now, however, on the internet they found they can avoid supporting content. they don't have to give a cut of the action to the web site. they go to one of the great four internet advertising networks -- yahoo!, aol, microsoft or google -- and they simply say i want to buy 20 million women 18-24 who are interested in x product. and they will find be those wherever they go on the internet in realtime right away. >> let's get to that, because that's a lot of what goes on on the internet vis-a-vis politics, as you guys write about, and no
one -- there's some magazine articles that you cite, but not enough people really talk about this, really resembles more what the nsa -- >> oh, yeah. >> the national security agency. basically, we have a surveillance system, and the great agent of hope and change over here in chicago had a massive supercomputer-driven system to, basically, i'll let you talk about what they do. p.m. ..
public policy, we have to solve a way to have funding so independent, competitive, unfiltered media. it's as important as anything we talk about. journalism is a -- the market can't produce in sufficient -- we have 0 come up with ways to support it with public money. now, to your question. the issue with -- the obama cam campaign -- the one great development was they completely revamped the use of the internet between '08 and '12, and it's a vacuum cleaner that sucks up information and they know everything about us. and instead of having 40 or 50 different types of information spread around on voters, obama campaign put it all together on the cloud, so they have all
their information combined, and 1200 and 2,000 pieces of information on every voter in america. and the super computer power and a couple thousand of to the best scientists in the world they could do fun things with that information, what issue you cared about. >> and now they're making -- eric schmidt from google was there looking at this, and after the campaign was done, essentially made an offer to just.everybody there saying, we'd like to -- you people should being too this professionally. and not in politics. >> just like people hate tv advertising, once people learn -- which people don't know -- that campaigns collect these massive nsa style
documents and follow them around the internet to give them specified ads. >> the evidence is clear -- >> does obama -- part of the obama campaign that did this was completely offlimits to reporters. >> they refused to let anybody know about it. the budget was kept top secret. everybody 0 who studies is closely in the election industry, acknowledged this is the future of politic. romney didn't do anything close to this. americans hope the internet will solve or problem. the initial promise of the internet was brilliant. we saul shared the same road. we could be anonymous. we were in control of the experience, and we had that power. and what's been turned on its head now. they know everything about us. they create a world for us. if you do google searches you get different answers de, a
different page on the web site. it's a completely new world order. we have the illusion we control it now but we don't. >> no one talks about this, what does it mean for life when messages are individually targeted to individual voters and there's no common narrative about what the candidate means and is trying to achieve. you quote someone from politico. imagine one of your neighbors keeps seeing campaign ads attacking environmental regular luigss and another sees ads for stronger environmental regulations, and the campaign ads you see never mention the environment. now imagine all these ads come from the same candidate. that can't happen on tv, but it's business as usual on internet. and mind-blowing.
this is the thing we wright about in the book. everybody we talked to said, oh, 2012 was just a test run. 2012 was people literally figuring things out, whether things would work. romney's effort crashed and burned. but here's the critical thing to understand, what this does to our politics. i know it's hard to imagine this. maybe there might be cynical players in politics. but if you were a cynical politician you could jettison any kind of public message, any kind of ideology whatsoever. you don't have to come in on principle. you can say i can tell everybody what they want to hear. i can get power because that's what an election is, a competition for power. i can get power, and objects i have it -- once i have it, it doesn't end there. i can govern is a choose. i have all the votes, all these
people telling me what they want to hear, and once i get power i can continue to tell them that i'm doing what i said i would do. and in a moment when journalism has stood down, really don't have sufficient coverage, especially at the state and local level, you have a situation someone could live their entire political life, could be a very successful politician, where americans think very different things about you. >> this mixes with tv. the two aren't isolated. the work together. with journalism standing down, it means that wealthy interests, spend a fortune on tv ads and create stories, create a narrative that has no basis. >> we're broke. >> yeah. >> we're breck. so you guys, despite what it sounds like in the last hour or so are happy warriors and optimists. so what is to be done?
>> well, -- >> division of labor. i'm the get them out, out to the ready to jump stage, and then john pulls them off and gets them ready to go to battle. i'm a big believer in optimism. pessimism is self-fulfilling. the only thing we control is what we do. so if you're alive you have to have a certain amount of optimism to pursue lymph life -- life. one great problem we have, all of us, assume those are the way things are going to be, never get out of that. no matter what the situation. it's a very paralyzing thing. then we look at history, what we see today in america, there's all sorts of pressures. the growth over inequality. the climate, things that are going to have to be addressed.
doesn't mean they'll be addressed positively, but the status quo cannot go on forever and it's going to change. we want to understand it. so when the crisis is more pronounced, we're able to interject and have positive change and know that something is going to have to change. one lesson i got graduate school. it had a professor at the university of washington, a white south african and he moved to the united states with his wife, who was of frick cane, -- and he was a militant antiapartheid activist in the united states and knew more about south african politics than anyone. he visited there a lot. his family was there. i went into the office in 1988 and he was depressed. i said, i'll see you later, tony, but what's wrong? he said i talked to my relatives and it's now clear, there will
never be a peaceful social change in south africa. the ruling apartheid government will never negotiate with the anc. justice for black africas will require bloodshed like we have never seen. i've never been so depressed. a knowledgeable gay in south africa. thought he read every paper in the country almost, and here he is -- he said this in 1988. two years later nelson mandela was released from prison. five years later elected. president of south africa, and there was less violence in those five years than a new jersey bar fight on saturday night. so the smartest guy in the world on south africa, completely wrong, totally wrong, devoted his thrive citieding it. he is on the precipice of a revolution and can't see it. we're not know extra dam muss. -- nostradamus. he can't predict the future. we all have that problem.
we can't get too hung up on that prediction thing. >> nostradamus couldn't predict the future. >> let's go from what bob just said. we're not naive opt manipulate -- optimists. most of our book is about the crisis. we think people need to know about the crisis so they can address it, and we think that the host of the american experiment is that this country, because of our -- because of a couple of structural things, others who are imperfect, who -- the constitution they developed at the start of the american experiment, a document that even many of them were unsatisfied with -- they gave us the ability to respond in major ways to major problems by amending the constitution. and what we argue in this book, the conclusion we come to in this book, when looking at supreme court that seems to us to be absurdly activist, looking
at massive inflows of money. looking at standing down of journalism. all the things we described here. what we say is that we must respond as people have responded through the history of the american experiment, by amending our constitution, to make structural changes that are not about candidates and parties, not about a particular grouping, but are about fixing the structures of our politics so they respond appropriately to the moment we are in. i know that everybody in this room will say, that's impossible, the constitution was written on stone tablets and handed down to michelle bachmann hundreds of years ago and that it cannot be changed. it can never be changed. that's an impossibility. well, except it's been amended 27 times, and in the book we detail almost every major amendment had to do with democracy, with making the system work. so across the history of the
america experiment, when we reached crisis moments, we have amended the constitution. and we rarely do it with just one amendment. usually it's a period where there are two, three, multiple amendments coming through, because people are really ready to fix it, and those amendments come in the context also of a host of other changes. what we would refer to as an age of reform. and that is how we got votes for african-americans, votes for women, votes for everybody. we struck down the poll tax, the wealth tax in 1962, and then we came around and eight years later and said, well, 18 to 21-year-olds should be able to vote, but a if we can send them to war, they ought to be able to weigh in on it. again and again we changed our constitution to make our democracy functional and to expand it. today we believe that the constitution of the united states should be amended to say that, money is not speech, corporations are not people.
and the citizens of the united states have a right to organize elections in which the vote matters more than the dollar. simple concept that teddy roosevelt would agree with, that most of the political figures of the last century would agree with, and that amendment should come in the context of other amendments. we should eliminate the electoral college. the electoral college shouldn't exist because no one loses the popular vote should become the president of the united states. we think that we should have a constitutional amend that says you canned jerrymander congressional district because it's absurd 85% of americans live in areas where congressional elections don't matter. finally, we think the constitution of the chutes be amended to say that every american has a right to vote and a right to have the vote counted. that right is not detailed anywhere in the constitution, and the lack of that right has been used again and again and
again to strike down protections for groups that need to vote. i know what you're saying at this point. i do know. that you're all sitting here, as every group we see, saying, wow, those are great ideas. i love those ideas. and i like being in this room at this wonderful institution, with this great moderator, some and i feel great. that's what we need to do. but i fear that when walk out of this room. i'm walking into the chicago might, doubts might creep in. i might think it's hard to amend the constitution of the united states. it's a difficult thing. we can't possibly do it. so what we do in the book is argue that there are critical junctures in american history where the problems back to severe that the great mass of people start to recognize the need to do big things, and that change doesn't come from washington. it comes from outside, as a wave that begins to overwhelm both political parties and make something big happen.
note publication 16 mesh states have formally called on the congress of the united states to get big money out of politics, get rid of citizens united. that wave is coming. it's real. it's not well covered in the media that doesn't cover grassroots politics. but it's out there. and even there where we say there's always grassroots activism where real things happen, it's easy to talk yourself out of it. the best thing is to do is look at the history go back 100 years ago and say if you look across the country 100 years ago you would recognize you live in a country where little girls don't go to school. they go to work in mills, often at bobbin girls where they change the bobbins in machines. and in the best of circumstances it's the worst they do. and the worst of circumstances they may be injured son the job, lose a finger or a hand and that's okay because they're expendable because little worked, children worked in
factory, and it was a guildded age. so people who owned the factories got to do what they want ended with the people who worked there. and as the girls grew up they might work in a factory where they sewed shirts and pants and might work there with italians and jews and lebanese and people from all over the world, and african-american young women who have come up from the south to escape segregation, and all working together in this factory, and then when the factory caught on fire, when a fire swept through it, the girls would run to the doors and try to open the doors, but they were locked shut bus when you worked 12 hours a day, wealthy honors didn't want you to steal a bathroom break from them. you didn't have that protection. so those girls had to make a choice, do they burn alive or jump to their deaths? and when the families of the fire victims came to correct collect the bodies of their
cousins and aunts and mothers and sisters, they walked in those streets of new york and saw their loved ones having had to make that most horrendous of all choices, and they recognize those young women didn't have the right to vote. and if they had the right to vote, they didn't have a right to elect their u.s. senate, didn't have a right to define their congress because we had an appointed rather than elected u.s. senate, and they didn't have the right to tax corporations and to create the structures of regulation and control, and tell a ceo, owner of a company, they have to treat people as human beings. and ten years later, just ten years later, women had the right to vote. we had an elected u.s. senate. we had established a tax system. we had begun to practices child labor laws and protections for women in the workplace and laying out the ground worker who new deal, the fair dealing are all of the changes of the 20th 20th century, and it was
because in that moment of recognition, millions of americans decided that they were not going to take it anymore. they were going to make the fundamental structural changes that gave them the power, the right to control their future. we argue in our book we have reached that moment once more and it's our duty to be what our grandmothers and our grandfathers were. full citizens. committed to making this experiment work. knowing it will be hard. knowing that we have to raise that cry for functional democracy because if we don't, we will live the rest of our lives in a dollarocracy, and that's what the best of the partisans of this american experiment had fought against from the start. >> i'm going to applaud that. you can, too. [applause] >> we have a good, solid 15 minutes for questions, even though pretty much everything
that could possibly have been solved has been solved here. and we are being broadcast on c-span, so please stand and wait for the boom mic to come. so you can smile for the cameras. and i would love to hear what you guys have to say. i know marshall has something to say. >> the young man right there. >> knocked over the leaning tower of dollarocracy. >> what advice might you have for a college student who could be interested in pursuing a career in journalism in this day and age? >> we all three can address that. >> bob teaches -- >> i've been teaching journalism students for a long time, and i
get this question all the time. believe it or not. three talks earlier today, got it at every one of those. and it's a great question. what i would say is that, first of all, we have to have journalists as a society. we cannot live without journalism as a society. we need people who get paid to do it, competing in newsrooms and committed to covering beats and are accountable. i system of government that doesn't have that wouldn't work. so it's one of the great professions you can think about going into and if you're interested in it, do it. anyone in the room who wants to. but economically, when john came out of column -- columbia journalism school he had jobs lined up. but today coming out of journalism school isn't like that. there's so few reporting jobs left compared to a generation ago, and they're not coming back. i see so many talent young people. every school pant -- they want to be journalists and there
isn't employment for them. it's -- i tell them is what i tell my own daughter. she wants to be an actress, only job harder than being a journalist for employment. you have to build your clips. you have to work much harder. you have to have a day job. it takes a dedication that didn't exist before to do downism, and i encourage people to do that. it's hard to say to someone, take those risks with your life, and the certainty of your future for. it's still worth it, and this country will not be worth living in without journalism. they're heroes, people that make the effort to be journalists now should be regarded that way. and as a society to come up with institutions so support journalists because we have to and don't. but finally i would say -- i have daughters and students i teach -- it's a terrible economy
right now. most of the jobs people are getting are horrible jobs. from my experience. they don't pay very well. when i came out of college in 1977 i got a union job. you probably heard that, this thing called unions. and it was paid $10 an hour in a lumpber yard. i figured out if someone got that salary out of college today it would be $78,000 a year. i thought of they'd fall over, chop off a foot for $78,000 a year job. i just walked off the street and got that job. it's a hard time. it's hard to find good jobs so might as well do something you love. give it your best shot. there are no great other options out there. so i know it's not a great pep talk, but -- >> mine is worse. >> the best i can do. >> my-and, don't do it. >> don't listen to him. >> because then -- >> you'll be competition -- >> no, no, in the only responsible thing to nil young person is to say, don't do it.
it doesn't matter what your say. if they're meant to do it they'll do it okay. >> there you go issue got to come from within. >> the human will to do creative, meaningful work, is indomitable. i don't care what they say down the street at the economics don't. we're not utility maximizing creatures, we're meaning creating creatures, and art and writing and -- i would say this to students who want to get ph.ds in humanities, too don't do it, but that you'll do it anyway if you have to because the will to create meaningful lives is indomitable and people keep on doing it. when i was in new york in the mid-'90s, we were all accepting starting salaries of $18,000 a year, to be assistant editors and editorial assistants, and now all these friends of mine are mediocre
staff writers and write 900 page articles about republican presidents, and are tv critics and novelists and it's the same people. all my friends. it's like it's a pretty good rate of success of people who are self-directed enough to enter into a profession that they know wouldn't be remine ative and wouldn't be -- remunerative and would require honor and integrity. >> i think these guys have said it better than i. there are people -- especially young folks who are out there literally creating the journalism of the 201st 21st 21st century. at the nation mad ya we work with the center for media and democracy and other groups that are literally producing groundbreaking investigative reporting, and the striking
thing to me is that the need is so great that it's going to happen, and it's just a question whether you're going to be part of it, and if you want to be part of it you'll find you've way to do it. a few years ago, guy name glen greenwald was on them office the discourse, and rights some pretty good essays and making people think about things, and he did it well enough that he ended up getting a gig with "the guardian." and i think that the whole world is a little bit different because of that. and what glen did was some incredibly courageous and bold journalism as a young guy, shows you what is possible. jeremy sky scahill ex-exposing military contractors, and what naomi cline has done with her incredible thinking and reporting, shows you that we --
we're doing it in different ways. sometimes through an investigative reporting center, sometimes writing books, sometimes making document riz. i think documentary film is the any wave of journalism. it's happening. and my frustration is not that young people will come up and try to do it. i think they will and they'll fight to get there. i want to make sure that middle age people -- that's an interesting dynamic. the young person, i have faith they're going to come, but there comes a time when you try to support yourself, and that is where i think that thing is starting to fall apart. we're not sustaining big news rooms. we're not sustaining situations where -- if somebody wants to cover a school board can do that. we're creating models where you can do the big blowout story and expose the national security agency. i'm not sure we're not doing
nearly enough to make sure our local drainage commission is covered, and unfortunately the reality is for a lot of us, what happened at the drainage commission might well matter as much -- >> want to be a great newspaper editor. >> that's right. so, i want you to -- you'll do it. if you want to do it, you'll do it. but i want to make sure if you want to do it for your whole life, we have the structures to support media, and most important thing to understand, jut about every other country want to compare officerses with does. they want to make sure they have a vibrant journalism, whether it is public or private. they don't leave it to chance and say we hope there's journalism in the future. they say, no, you can't have democracy in a functional society without journalism so that's where i want young people to come in and also to become not just advocates advocates fon careers but for a structure that
makes sure that people can have a life in journalism. >> front row? wait for the microphone. identify yourself. >> it's easy to be concern it about being able to create the change given the nature of the problems you have been talking about. if money is driving the system and the politicians and the court, it actually makes -- seems that would make it incredibly hard to create the type of change that you think needs to be there. i think about the change of -- with all the recent gun violence we have had. one would have thought while be easy to bass gun control laws in the country, and the nra brought money to bear and made that impossible. so you're hopeful but worried whether or not things that have worked in the past, the very nature of this problem, the fact that so much money has been pushed -- by business and makes
it impossible for things that worked in the past to work. can i push back on that? >> that's a very -- it's hard to -- almost a self-evident question in the sense that if you're going to work through the system and the system is entirely corrupt and impervious to popular pressuring it's hard to see our popular pressure can work the system. the other lessan ol' dollarocracy, the one that drives a lot of our book, is that the crisis of our political system today is it's been colonized bit corporations and large money. they dominate it. and jeff cohen puts it, the range of debate in american politics extends from ge to gm, we have a system, the republican toes the right and the democrats are behind them. and there's permanent stagnation no unions, declining incomes,