tv Panel Discussion on the Media CSPAN March 25, 2017 4:00pm-5:31pm EDT
from the gaithersburg book festival in maryland. [inaudible conversations] >> and starting now live on booktv on c-span2, it's the final author panel from this year's virginia festival of the book. and it's a discussion on the media, white house correspondent april ryan is the moderator. >> good afternoon, everyone good afternoon. charlottesville. how are you this afternoon? all right.
yes, you can clap. [applause] >> welcome to the virginia festival of the book. and the panel discussion, hot discussion this afternoon. questions, expertise, and the president. not just for news junkies and we would like to think the city for providing the venue for today's event, and we want to welcome all of you viewers on c-span and tv 10. during the question and answer pouring we ask that you please wait for a meek crow -- microphone to be brought for you. the q & a is coming up. i want to introduce our wonderful panel of authors. we're not washington. we're in charlottesville but these are top reporters and thinkers that delve into politics and we have a penal for you -- panel for you. frank sesno, the author of "ask more, be power of questions to
open doors, uncover solutions and part change." a former cnn anchor, white house correspondent. he has interviewed dozens of world leaders including five u.s. presidents. now, i believe it might we six with this one, right? >> hope springs eternal. >> and he's also the creator of planet ford. let's give frank a big round of applause. applause maas. >> tom nicholls, the author of the death of expertise, professor of national security affairs the u.s. naval war college and an adjunct professor to harvard extension school and a former aide in the u.s. senate. he has also a five-time undefeated jeopardy champion. five-time up defeated jeopardy champion. my gosh. [applause]
>> i'm not sure i want to be on a panel with him. >> i wonder if he won the spelling bee, too. next, michael kranish -- >> my copy editor. >> michael kranish is the co-author of trump revealed, an american journey of ambition, ego, money and power, political investigative reporter the "washington post" and he previously coauthored biographs of mitt romney and john kerry and the author of flight from monticello. thomas jefferson at war. a big round of applause. and marc fisher, a senior editor at the "washington post" and author of something in the air, history of radio and germany after theberline wall and
received put litter prices in 2016, 2014, for reporting on police shootings and government surveillance and let's give the whole entire panel a round of applause. [applause] >> and of course, these gentlemen are authors and authors of these major books you see before you and they're for sale and you can purchase them after this q & a session. want to start off with each author talking -- i forget to introduce the moderator. april ryan. white house correspondent and washington bureau chief for the urban radio narrative. the author of the latest book, black and white. i've been the white house for 20 years covering now four presidents. and with that, let go to frank sis dis -- frank sis noh. >> my park is born of be viewer
and asking questions of all ranges of people. artists, scientists and business leaders and, yes, politicians. and the recognition and the realization that we ask entirely differently depending on who we're asking. and what we're asking about. what our outcome is and i wrote this book because i felt that all of accuse incorporate into our lives better, sharper, more purposeful questions to become better, more successful, more purposeful partners and spouses and parents, and workers workerd inventors and learners and citizens. i feel, going into this, that i felt going into this that observing the world round us we are indone dated with information. no before in human history head so pa many people had so much access to so much information to rapidly but we have drive-by questioning etch going al question and get a quick answer
and off we go what we need to do, believe, and what i try lay out in the book, in all of these cases, is pause, and question deeply, purposefully, sometimes tough, really tough, intense, and then listen and that's the other part i write about and that is missing so much of in america today and i know we'll get into that. how do we hissen? who do we listen to? what is the intent of our listening? what is the outcome and n and so the book what have done is i have created 11 categories of questions. decisionic question doing diagnostic questions. what is going on here what's gone wrong? and whether it is your elbow or health care in america, we cannot reasonably suggest responses, answers, and prescriptions if we don't have the diagnosis to the problem. strategic questions. thinking down the line.
looking over the horizon. each chapter revolves ron the character and the character for that chapter is colin powell. collin powell had to think strategically for war. and he asked president bush, only if we can say yes to these questions should we go to war ask the included do we have the support of the american people in do we know what our and it strategy is? we went to war to push saddam hussein out of khweis and the ground campaign lasted 100 hours. the questions were not asked in the second gulf war and we're thrill and he said, powell said, you know, i'm left holding the bag because he knows his performance the united nations and elsewhere was insufficient and he was not allowed enough voice in asking the questions -- a loud enough voice. creative questions. what we ask ourselves and others to transport ourselves with the
use of he a series of questions into the future. i want to finish and wrap because i know everybody wants to talk and we'll come back to this. i'll tie my other categories involved all these different -- and i won't give them because you have to buy the book. but as a culture, as a society, in journalism in media, and beyond, we need to do a better job of asking. asking the right questions of the right people in the right construct, over time, in the fabled followup question. a to my students questions are like grapes, they come in bunches. you don't ask one and then move on. ask any reporter, especially investigative reporter, it's the fourth, fifth, tenth question down where you start to connect. as a culture, as a society, as a body politic we need start
asking more and asserting less and understand what goes into the listening involved in crossing the divide. i'll close with this. one of i favorite chapters is bridging questions. this character is barry spodak, the group therapist for john hinckley after he shot ronald reagan. he advised the fbi, secret service and u.s. marshals how to interview, waterboard -- interview people who issue threats to determine whether they might actually carry out those threats. dangerous threat assessment it's called. his whole methodology of questioning is about bridge-building, rapport-building. microaffirmations. really? i hadn't thought of that before. to draw people out who are angry, alien yesterday or distressed. there's a lesson in each chapter
for all of us but i think that one in the context of today's question will be key, how do we use our questions to build bridges to one another so that we can, a piece at a time, understand those who are very different from us. >> wow. thank you so much. let's go to tom about death of expertise. >> well, i'll try to be brief so we can get to questions. i have to start by saying don't represent the navy or the government or hard lot or charlottesville or anybody but myself. one questions gets, why write a book with such an obnoxious title and this very challenging, almost inure face approach, and it was because of was frustrated. i did not start this book actually was not born in anything about the election. i started writing something related to it years ago, and i found that i was trying to figure out how have we got ton this point where ignorance is common but prized. it's a virtue, something people
brag about. i don't know how big in the u.s. budget is, and that makes me a better person somehow. and i -- the first hint i had this was happening was i noticed that people went from talking to experts skeptically. no one ever -- i certainly don't ever advise people is your doctor walk inside if a big needle say go ahead, wherever you think. i hit me up. of course not. i want people to be informed. i want them to ask questions, good questions. i want them to be participants in their own health, society, whatever it is. this is born out of more than skepticism about expertise. this is peek starting to lecture back to experts as though they were peers and i found remarkable and the wordeye throughout the book that caused some controversy, this part of an epidemic of narcissism in our see site that is really out of control.
i my background is in russia studies. know i am useful looking but i got my career started during the cold war and i was a russian speaking kremlin guy. that's what i kid. for a good part of my professional and academic career. and people would -- i was used to people saying, you guys are going screw up the world, blow thin planet. it understood that. then later people would say to me, you're a russia expert in let me explain russia to you. everybody here has said you're a journalist? i have a few things totle you about journalism. well, please, let me 30 years of experience go -- if you have ha thought, i certainly want want to interrupt it. and i started to a question, why is this happening. why do people think they're their peers of professionals and operates ignorance?
why did they respond to facts with nonsense -- i'm -- facts with fantasies and i think in the end -- i think disdove tails back -- americanes have become a people that don't want to be told anything they don't want to hear. they want to -- don't want to be educated. the want to be affirmed and have have somebody to blame, nothing is thunder fault and everything has a magical solution and experts walk in and tell you've that number of that is possible, which makes this least popular person the party. but i decided to delve into and it we can talk about it more later. do identify some culprits. think that -- i think the modern university bears its share of the blame. the media bears some of the blame. certainly the presence of the internet, the galactic answer machine that is usually wrong bares some plame.
but -- bears some blame. tried to identify the problem in this book. >> thank you. tom. michael, trump revealed. >> thank you. it's great to be back in share lostville way. here working on a book about thomas jefferson, contradictory character and fascinating. throughout my career, i spent a lot of time covering white house and congress and always striking that lot of people think what you do in washington is good to press conferences, write down what they say and write a story, and spent four years covering the white house should you have my sympathies. >> i'm 20 in. >> april is a very good exam of someone would tries to dig beyond what the spokesperson is saying. my interest is for a long time has been what a candidate's live say about and predict perhaps what the person would do if they're elected to higher office, the presidency. i was the co-author of "the
boston globe" of biographs 0 john kerr ask and mitt romney and in those case what we had been printing were not the case and i had an editor there the globe, and marty bareron, and his assignment to me is just start over with john kerry. with hey written stories for years and years. read those and then start over and leave nothing on the table. which sounds daunting but was a great assignment because, number one, it meant i had a lot of time to work into shim and long story short, john kerry, i have been trust evidence to writing biographs of presidential candidate. we hat wherein that hays ancestry was irish and he was irish catholic. none of that was true. the family was jewish, the family name was koehn and never lived in ireland and whatnotted to change their him in to something that didn't sound so viewish, they dropped a pencil on the map, ended one county kerry in ireland and said, okay,
kerry is the family name. and kerry himself did not know this story, and i have ever reason to think, having spent a lot of time researching this, he had some suspicions that one side of the family but knew nothing about this side of the family. including the fact that his grandfather committed suicide in the bathroom the plaza hotel where kerry has spoken for many years, so there's a lot in there that tells us, okay, this is little bit more complex history. what is the family history and what does that tell us about this curiosity. in the case of mitt romney, i told him we want to do the same thing for romney and write about his background and career himself spokesperson said to me, why would you want to write a book about mitt. he's already written two books at himself. in the back of the book there was a 59-point about what he wanted to do for the country but they tell you almost nothing about who mitt romney is and what happened in his career.
for instance, at bane capitol, he was great -- everything was wonderful. the more complex story is the only company he was ran was bane capital him and which is profitable but he ran other companies and there's a complex history what happened with each company he invested no. not ran, actually. now, when it came to donald trump, we had a much, much shorter time frame. but reality was the same thing. the narrative that donald trump tells about himself is pretty simplistic. he has been an incredible dealmaker, very successful, no one has been as successful as donald trump has been, and therefore he would be a great president. but we wanted to find out what actually happened. the only way to do that is go step by step and we used a team of reporters to try to understand what happened. want to tell you one example and then move on to take question talk about the genesis of writing the book and that is one of the really surprising thing wiz found in the book, we all knew he had troubles in his
career financially. the reality is that in the campaign he didn't talk about his failures but the failures were more illuminating. corporate bankruptcies, six. he created one public company and that was with a stock ticker of djt. that company had a share price of $35, and went down to 17-cents ahead. teaches millions, shareholders. no so much. so there were shareholder lawsuits. look at what happened yesterday on health care. people who supported while say, hough could this happened? the great dealmaker. if you read the book, he wasn't so great sometimes. he was successful, able to come back but the reality is that far more complicated. we wanted to make sure the end of the day if one who was really interested who donald trump was. and were there all kinds of stores but here in one reading narrative you get the full story. whatever you think about donald
trump, love him or hate him, you'll have a better understanding what he did in his career, what was successful, was was not success philadelphia -- successful. it's surprising how he performed as president. i always say no, i hasn't surprised me in the sleight els because he is acting as he did as a business person, probable problem has been that's not applicable to being president. even if you have a republican controlled congress. that party is at odds which is why he got elects because the party was torn apart, and were able to defeat other nominees who might be the party powerful favorite but there's more too it than that. we were able to tell a fuller story that gives you a sense about what he was like in the business person and how he is performing now as president. >> and let's go to mark. mark, the co-author of trump revealed. >> michael gave you a sense of our mission, which was to find
the complexities in donald trump's life. that was not really a concept donald trump was into. the entomology of the book, we had done a n number of books on the presidential candidates the "washington post" and in most cycles we had a good sense of year, year and a half in advance who the candidates would likely be and we could set people off to begin delving into the lives of a the candidate. as you recall from last spring, this was not entirely clear and so mid-march rolled around and we said, well want to do a book but know who the candidate will be. so at that it point the republican choice seemed to be down to trump and ted cruz and we thought let's go with trump and see what happens. so i wi made deal with the pressurer -- publisher on a this and acalled donald trump's press secretary on friday to let her
know the following monday would we would aoccupies nouns the book. so as a curtsy i called her and insays we're doing this biography on mr. trump and wanted to spend as much time as we can to talk about his life. before i could get explanation of the book out she said, you are profiteers off mr. trump. we will not be cooperating with this book. and i said, excuse me in this is a guy who spends all -- virtually all of his waking hours involved with media in one way or another, whether it's watching cable news or talking to reporters, calling reporters out of the blue. >> or on twitter. >> right. and she said, we're not taking part in this. so we thought that might well happen and we had a plan for reporting the book around him, and researching his life and so on. -lo and behold monday morning the first call i got was from hope hicks i and told mr. trump
about your fabulous idea, and he would love to see you come up to trump towers a often as you thought. and so one revelation from that is that hope hicks didn't know the man she was working are for and the other one this tells us something about donald trump and that is that if you're willing to write about him, whether it's good, bad or indifferent. he will be there, and that proved to be the case. he was incredibly gracious with his time. gave us more than 25 hours of interviews of the course of the three months we were reporting the book, because we had such short time to do the back we -- there was no way that two people could do justice to a person's life in that amount of time so we put 25 reporters on the book and three or four reporters on each chapter so we had report who witness to atlantic city for six weeks and spend six weeks diving into the casino records
and we sent reporters to his ancestral home towns in germany and scotland. we sent reporters to the foreign capitals where he had business projects and kazakhstan and panama and so on. but the core of she book in some ways is the conversations with trump where we learned as michael said, the main themes of the book which are really a good guide no to what we're now seeing unfolded. his nothing but consistent. provocative, will do whatever it takes to get on the front pages and the top of broadcasts, but his -- the patterns of his life are incredibly predictable, particularly the way he deals with the press. you see him every day bashing the press. we're the enemy of the people, the opposition party and all of that. and yesterday, at 3:30 congress was supposed to take the vote on the health care bill, at 3:31,
donald trump called bob kosto on his cell phone. book picked up the phone and it said blocked number and he thinks it's an angry reader. i don't know. and he picks it up and answer it and, no, it's the profit the united states. who had nothing better to do at 3:31 than call the reporter to spin the story his way and say, this is all the democrats' fault, and so he is -- the master marketer. thinking marketing first. thinking about the trump show. how do get people to come back for the next insold of the show. -- episode of the show. that's top of mind always. >> wow. wow. [applause] questions, expertise, and the president, not just in the news junkize. that was newsy.
i'm serious. i want to focus on history from yesterday. you talked about yesterday. it was historic, 64 days in, i believe, his first major loss. who is donald trump today after what happened yesterday? the fact that the republic republics, all ryan, had to pull back and not vote on trump cair to repeal and preplace obamacare, ore the official title the affordable health care act. who is donald trump? who is he today? >> he was for the previous 50 years, guy who when thing goes well, all credit goes to donald trump. when things go poorly, he will find out who that person to blame and is destroy them. and so his immediate instinct was let's blame the democrats publicly. privately he is sending out another message, at people in the white house were discussing how to deal with this loss they were talking about we're going to blame paul ryan.
so both stories went out simultaneously. so you had anonymously sources stores about this is all paul's fault and the straight dope from the president himself saying this is the democrats fat fault. it's fine with him because it's deflecting attention from trump himself. he was not involved in the actual policymaking here. he probably didn't know the bill any better than any one of us knew it. but he knew the messaging he wanted and he knew that he want -- was never terribly interested in the healthcare bill to begin with and wanted to do tax reform first and is now able to say to the people around him, told you so. >> but michael, for a man who does not like to admit failure, this is not a winning picture for him. >> well, obvious he hates the picture and he lost office health care but his ick imagine has been shattered. he built his ol' reputation he is a great dealmaker and can bring the parties together and get things done and here he
issued an ultimate. there would be a vote and there was no plan b. and then the last second he pulled the bill. in other words he wrenched and when you blink in washington, peach look at you the next time a little differently. they know you'll back down. don't have the same power so the start he had his travel ban overturned by the court and attacked the judges. and on health care, he lost and he blinked and i think the latter in the end could be the more damaging. we could have said, okay, heard the voices, i'm reasonable person, wayn't could tom up with something else. instead he cast blame in classic trump style and backed him in corner and said the democrats have to come to me when it explodes and this was an issue for the party and simples.
so sitting waiting is not the kind of thing an techtive president does. you want to be pro-active. >> frank, today president trump is on the golf course here in virginia, having meetings. and right now. and seriously. he complained about then president obama always on the golf course and now he is on the golf course and they're making it clear he is having meetings. so what are the questions for us? what should journalists be asking todays a he is now moving the ball to tax reform and infrastructure efforts that still have yet to have a price tag on them. >> well, let me get to the future in a second. i'd like to comment on the present and disagree with marc just a tiny bit. don't think donald trump today is the man he was yesterday. he is the damaged president today in ways he wasn't. this is a very substantial defeat.
and in politics, in certainly from my many years covering white house and washington, perception matters. momentum matters. your ability to pull people in room and crack the deal by cajoling, trading, doing the business of politics, matters. ronald reagan used to the the story that went before -- before he launched health care, he brought danny rostenkowski into the oval has and they had a meeting and rostenkowski was the chairman of the house ways and means committee and said to reagan we both want tax reform so we'll work on this together but i have to say some things publicly that will distance me from you because i have to play to my base. i'm asking you keep quiet. if you can do that we can do this together and reagan said, well, sure. >> you do that very well. >> he has hangen around with the
kremlin -- they shook hands and dade deal. who will shake hand with donald trump and will they be confident the can -- cliff. great leaders ask great questions and solicit questions from people who don't agree with him to break group think. did he ask who is the republican isn't that right did he ask what dough the freedom caucus want? did he ask what dough moderates want and the american hospitalization association goes to daigh, what doctors saying? did he ask what are americans going to hear especially those who voted for me when this unfolds? i'm not sure he asked those things. so going forward the questions are, who is your coalition, how are you going to put it together? what are the pieces in? are you going to invite the experts in. last night it was fascinating, president trump want as chairman on the council of economic
advisers who is not an economist. okay. this stuff is really complicated so you got to ask a lot of questions and educate yourself and understand this the nuance level and that's what we should be watching as journalists and as citizens. who is he asking, what is he asking, what lessons have been learned from this and how does this get put together move forward. >> wow. >> he didn't ask questions. >> he leak icks to have people around him who don't require him to ask questions or don't solicit questions and he believes you never look back, everything is in the moment, there is no past tense. no regrets no defeats. so, yes there are people out there who may see him in a different way now, but there are -- what he understands is that his core, his base, they don't see him in any different way now, and the people who were against him, they were against him to start with. >> he is governing and not come
paining and that's the difference. >> maybe but his title is president. >> that is a very key point you brought up something that leads into tom about expertise. he is president. the president of the united states. and he has many people around women do not have experience in governance or experience in certain areas that they are overseeing. with that, tom, when you talk about the death of expertise, how dangerous for the democracy, the nation, and also -- i want to go into the media as well because we are now seeing the line obscured more so now than every between fact and opinion and that's where the fake news comes in. we don't know now if it's fact versus opinion. so talk to me about those issues. >> let's remember. the president ran against experts. he said, at point, the experts are terrible.
who needs experts. would it be so bad -- what if i didn't have expert? we're in the process of answering the question in real-time right now. he-think the president in his campaign, tapped into this notion with a lot of ordinary americans that their problems, whatever those problems are, that their dog is sick, the kid i living in the basement, they're car broke down, and expert somewhere created this world that is harming them, and that he was going to put them install their place. he was going to come to washington and he was going to tell these experts what is what ask tell them to sit down and shut up. that's why he doesn't need an economist. the only experts he does seem to want to surround himself with are former military guys. he has real attraction -- he wanted general mattis as secretary of defense and mcmaster as national security adviser. fine by me.
made me sleep a little easier to be honest. but this leading this charge from the white house, against expertise, is really just plain down to people's worst instincts. i would say about almost everything. about -- again, the overwhelm narcissism that says, don't wow, running a government is not that hard. anybody can do this. all these guys in washington are just getting fat off your tax money. they don't really know any more than you do. this is a really pernicious notion that you don't need these guys, and i think that is already kind of blowing up in the white house's face because, again, i think -- what was in the bill? i don't think he knows, i don't think nick it new. paul ryan will wave his hands and something will help and there's a bill and i'll get the credit for it, but you can't
actually run a functional government that way. so, i think this is incredibly dangerous because we're not actually a democracy. we're a republic, and a republic requires people to defer to elected representatives and advisers. i was one of those guy, a staff guy, personal staff to a senator. and they have to make decisions all day long on everything they do. people here know this. -- they too child cair in the morning, nuclear weapons of launch, environmental policy by dinnertime. they have to have experts giving their best advice. when the people onmass say don't listen to those guy, let's do everything by a passion pup list rafe rein. people say i hate obamacare but i really like that affordable care act. >> that happened in appalachia: that happened in appalachia, where people did not understand
that obamacare was aca and that is how -- >> but it's happening everywhere. you're also seeing people across the country, one thing i opened the book with is people -- a couple of years ago were asking, what should we do about ukraine and people -- not just people saying, gosh, it's worried about that. people had really strong opinions weapon should engage in military intervention, which of course courts the possibility of world war iii. and that we have very strong opinions about ukraine. you ask emthis where is ukraine? i don't know. i'll just continue issue with this. the average respondent when asked to identify ukraine on a map was off by an average response of 1800 miles which these people couldn't put it on the right continent. >> could i comment, too, tom on something else? seems to me that expertise comes in a lot of shapes and sizes and i think this is one of the very interesting challenges we confront in thinking about our democracy now, and the situation
we have with the trump administration. expertise is about getting out and living and learning and listening to real people. it's not just the expert from the top. it's the experts who are living, and one wonders how much -- well, i remember when i interviewed reagan a million years ago, his complaint about being president of the united states was that he felt like the bird in the gilded cage. he couldn't get out. he couldn't talk to people much. and so he sort of intuitive things. i think donald trump has been a bird in a gilded cage for some time in trump tower. it would be interesting how much intuitive knowledge from the experts who are living with health care did he bring to this? has he talked to people or sat down and talked to people who have a disabled daughter a single family parent and trying to figure out where the health care is going to come from so he could relayed to question about medicaid other than on a sound bite level which we in the media feed.
>> the man in tower for decades and he -- because he was a celebrity for so long, we have this sense of him as son some one who out the clubs and calling gossip columnistsists ae built this image of him as a social being. his is actually quite a solitary figure and we went through all the old gossip pages in the 70s and 8s so and called all the women who were associated publicly with donald trump and said what really happened in those instances and therefrom a person they said -- almost to a person they said as soon as the cameras were turned off, he had no further interest, he wanted to go home and watch tv all night by himself. and that is a theme throughout donald trump's life. he chooses to be alone. you see him now in the white house, already we have these stories of him wandering the
white house in the mid of the night by himself. >> in a bathrobe. >> yes. which i -- >> thank you for sharing that. >> it's presidential, as a white house correspondent, you cover all things presidential. that's part of it. >> but he is someone who really has not reached out and wanted to learn much about the people around him. we're seeing it in the way he runs the government. his business, although we think of itate it as this valling empire it was handful of executives 0 in trump tower and never had more than six or seven people around him and this is an entirely new experience for him. >> i just want to make a point that donald trump is very typical of the people who elected them. part of the reasons experts have been pulling back from the public space is because they're finding it impossible to reason with people who believe things that are flatly wrong to say,
example let's talk about eee electoral. people ask about what are you going to do about the people voting ill leally. that didn't happen. they said, shut up. gravity exists, the sky i blue -- >> speak offing volt-under fraud -- >> well, the argue. -- and they don't want those answers. i don't think the president is interested in a dialogue about the answers. the people who you argue with bet questions north interested in the answers and as a result the experts have stepped back and said, okay, then we don't have to have this argument anymore. just talked to each other. >> i want everyone who is ready for questionses to raise your hand. i see some hand going up. michael, when you think of donald trump, he is a businessman. he ran an empire. he is a mogul. wouldn't you think, just common sense --ing thissing not analytical or anything, common -- wouldn't you think being a businessman he understood the idea of health
care for his employees? >> well there weren't that many employees. a lot of -- >> i mean, at casinos he had a lot of people the casinos. >> right. he had in hi hiss business career a lot -- in his business career a lot of success and failure. for donald trump, he is looking out into the business person for himself. asked him the question about the fact that a lot of people were hurt. bondholders, stockholders, contractors, and he said well when i was running a business it was all about me. it was making sure could i survive. and so in talking about narcissism. he has said -- >> a quote about. >> a quote about himself. that was -- if i'm president, he said, he'll leave out all the people and talks about the power of narcissism. he cites a particular book about the power of narcissism and i interviewed the author of the book whoa was surprised that donald trump cited it but that
author said there are some people who are is in cysts who can handle it narcissists who can happen it well. the connecting tissue is they're so focused one way or the other. for donald trump he had to do this to get people out of his way earning that's what he did. and that is the die finding character -- defining characteristic him said he would look out for everyone and he campaigned that way and was very, very effective. give him credit. he was at single digitted in polls when he announced and convinces a lot of people why would look out for. the and that's one thing he faves -- faces with health care. he said i'll protect medicare and medicaid and social security and those are democratic values that are rock sod solid for the democratic party and he was trying to say, i'm looking out for you and he faces a sort of far right republican caucus and they don't agree with those factors. so, trump feels himself hemmed in.
>> a fascinating conversation. i'm learning stuff just sitting here. city in front hoff them every day and it's like, my gosh, i'm learning more here. >> you have to get out a little. >> and beautiful charlottesville, yes. our first question, yes. >> well, first, thank you so much for being here. it's been a very interesting discussion. i'm interested in the role of blogs in the shaping the media landscape for the last 15 years, and i was hoping each of you could speak whether that's hemmed or harmed the news industry. >> help organize harming the news industry we'll have to get a bunch of authors to come back and have a long conversation. there's a lot that has harmed the news ireverything from the collapse of classified ads the back bone of print revenue for so long, to the rise of cable television, my alma mater i come
from and certainly blogs even more importantly, social media. i think that what we have got out there now is -- this actually gets to some of what tom was talking about -- just so much information, and the power has shifted from the executive editor and the executive producer to the news consumer. we don't talk about that and we should. a lot is broken in the media. the issue with blogs per se, they're very, very successful. many -- thousands and thousands of them. the issue is, who is it, again, in my book i asked all my characters, what is your favorite question? and i've been asked this myself and i've decided the environment in which we live, my favorite question now is: how do you know? how do you know? and so to bloggers, who is it? where do that's come from? how knowledgeable are there? is it a rant and rave or a blog that is built on expertise in
can you tell based on the credentials this is expertise. my feeling feeling in the immede world in which we live, let a thousand flowers bloom. more -- the more voices the better. then that makes or lives us a news consumerrers a lot more complicated because how do we tell the flowers from the weeds. there are plenty of weeds that bloom. so i think that's my off the cuff response to you. think that -- so my concern for example were when ted turner but cnn on he air, the skeptics sid the will never work. not enough audience or news to power a 24 hour news channel. they may have have been right. if you watch the cable news channels there's a lot of talking, a lot of talk radio, on cable news. >> well, it's uncomfortable for know say because the first version of whatever i wrote about expertise was on my blog,
but i did it like as therapy. i'd been argue with some who was explaining russia to me, and i sat down and i sort of did this kind of primal scream into my blog. but i'll save with that said and with the experience of blogs over the past decade, i'm not a fan. my students often will come across my blog, which is going -- i think it goss dark today. after six years. i decided it was enough and now i write nor edited stuff because editors are better -- my students would say, can we cite your blog? i said don't cite that. this editor is an idiot. that guy will publish anything. there's no editorial control over that thing. there are two things in particular i worry about with blogs. first, convinces everybody who has one their thoughts are just so important. and encourages this motion that i have a big thought and have to share it with the world. it's okay to have thoughts you don't express. [applause]
>> if you feel the need to express them or you want to talk about to yourself our practice your writing that's why god invent diaries and they're not supposed to be public. the other problem with -- >> is that as one -- i cite a chapter on journalism which was an expert violation for those who "star trek" one-third cry latest the -- violated the prime directive. i talked to someone who said to me interviewing him he said younger journalists would not a toward nat blog is nothing journalism. they north same thing. blog isous sitting around thinking stuff, journalism is the kind of stuff frank is talking about, very structured inquiring questions and so on, and the real flute of this -- we
have been talking.trump and the collapse of expertise here. but let remember it wasn't that long ago in the last days of the obama administration that ben rhodes said -- theirs is practically in quote -- the average journalist we deal with is 27 years old and doesn't know anything. well, that's, i would argue that comes from too much blogging, too much talking, and not enough reading. too much blogging, not enough experiencing. and so blogs can be interesting, especially if they're day i tailored to something or a form of expertise where you're -- this is my blog about engine blocks or aviation or whatever it is to other hobbyists but the idea that everyone in america should sit done and say i have really important thought has turned into michigan bad. >> michael. >> well, i don't want to generalize and say blogs are good or bad. depends on who the person is or what they're writing.
i want someone to challenge my viewpoint as a journalist, i'm objective reporter, but maybe i just wasn't thinking about something in a way that well enlighten me that and is extremely important. there's a new model that the "washington post" started running enough the mast head and it's democracy dies. which "the new york times" editor said sounds like a batman sequel. but it's gotten a lot of people talking, and the point here is that if i can just say something in defense of the industry, is that, yes, there's blogs. i am personally bored by, let's read the column on the left and right because i know what they're going to say. it's hard to tune into channels so preformated. want to be challenges with hopefully an interesting discussion that makes me think and that's what a president should do, constantly challenge inside his ore her thinking about what is going known world. so, our publication, one thing that is so heartening to me and people are down on the industry -- is that time and
again i do hear from readers of the book and the newspaper, thank you for what the post is doing. thank you for what journalists are doing. for what the times is doing. a lot of people el especially after the election who say we need journalism and we want to support you. our subscription base has actually gone dramatically up. because there are people who are realizing we're concerned that without an independent newspaper that we're not going to get the information we need. so they're plenty of people, they want to get affirmation. they're millions of people who want to get information and they want to get it from a source that is not biased and trust but it's trust we earn and that's important and trying to make that our mission. that we provide you with information that you can put faith and that's not biased. yes, plenty of opinion people who are great but the majority of the work is report and that's
something that the post and others are still doing and we thank you for supporting that. [applause] >> i think president trump is not possible without blogs and social media. the way we go bat getting information has shifted so dramatically. the majority of the people who come to read stories in the "washington post" come through facebook. great majority. and they're not reading the "washington post." they're reading individual stories that their friend recommended to them. and they often don't even know where they have landed. when we go back and survey people. where did you learn this, where did you read that? they say i got it through facebook. and so by -- we lose something there because of the brand recognition isn't as strong as it was but the reader ands the community is losing something because they're not understanding the sourcing. not understanding where this information came from and why
and whether it should be trusted. so i would defend the 27-year-old journalists, because we have a lot of them in our newsroom and they're month the most aggressive and smart reporters that we have. the difference is not generational. the difference is in the intent, whether the intent is to inform the public or fool the public. so, if you turn on any of the cable news channels, whatever your ideology, you'll see an enormous difference go back and look of youtube of any of the channels from ten years ago or 15 year ago. they're elementally difference. you see reporter going into the field earning interviewing people, looking at documents, doing -- using all of the the toluides traditional journalism. go to those channels today and you you see big panels of peopleamerring at each oomph that's enormously cheaper to produce. bring beam into a studio, have them talk, yell at each other.
people with watch and you county do it as a fraction of the cost. >> ed had a producer at a network, not named. save to me at one point, to your point, don't put experts in news packages. experts don't rate. they don't hold the ratings. now, that was a shocking thing to hear. don't put an expert in a news story. >> i don't want to be voice of pessimism near here but i'm going to be, and say that i wish that people were going to these sources looking for informed information. what i found in writing this book, the way people use information resources on the enter it in they go there to confirm their confirmation bias and find stuff they already believe and they discount the stuff that conflicts with them and this problem you're talking about dish dent even know how i landed on the story. it's lucky if they land the "washington post" because they
are just as likely to land at info wars wars wars or breitbare outlet that is meant or rt. so i'm concerned about this because people don't discriminate about this and there are studies that it find that people, after clicking and blowing through stories and headlines and then kind of quizzed will what anyway know about the subject, that after spending enough time on the internet, they're actually dumber -- not making this up -- dumber when anywhere finished because they believe they acquired knowledge they don't have and the quick example, if you tell somebody to look up stuff about fossil fuels. people saw i understand i know a lot of dinosaurs and what i it is they don't know anything and they're not resistant to learning anything else.
they're worse off by having gone to the internet to do this than if hey hadn't done anything at all. >> how many of you get your news from facebook? >> twitter? how many of you are on the twitter getting your news? how many of you still pick up a newspaper to read -- wow. subscribe. what about -- >> [inaudible] >> what about those who watch tv, be it cable or the three main networks for your news? pbs. okay, pbs. oh, okay, i like that. just unscientific. just wanted to know. do you believe you're seeing and hearing fake news? fake, news. facebook? do you believe you're getting
very fake news? that's what be president called it. next question. >> marc, you mentioned that donald trump doesn't really ask questions. i wonder if you can walk us through what a briefing would look like and how he would handle that situation and then also maybe if you could chime in on how -- if you were and expert in a room how you would handle someone like trump who you had an obligation to provide information to but who may not be very receptive. >> we'll be leaving now. >> in one of ourer into views with trump -- our interviews in donald trump -- in june it was clear he would the nominee and good chance he could become president of the united states. said are you preparing -- i know your out there campaigning cut are you preparing to be president? are you reading, say, biographs of the great presidents? and there was this long pause
and then he said i've auld wanted to read a biography but don't have time. so let him sit in silence and then he said, i don't really have time to read books. i said how will you then deal with the complex issues that come behalf president? nothing to do with -- i'm not questioning your background or knowledge, but this is the nature of the presidency. things pop up you have no background in. how would you want to get up to speed? and he said, well, i tell you one thing, i'm not going to read any fing memos. -- f'ing memos. said -- he told this whole story about how when some guy from wall street came to see him about an investment, some innovative kind of financing in china. and he said i dent know anything about that. and the guy from wall street said, no problem.
we have a report we have just done. 100 pages. i'll send it over. he said don't bother if won't read it. he said, i said how will you learn about these things? he said my people will come in, and they can talk to me and in 20 seconds i'll know. >> before you -- okay. i'm going to ask another question and i want you to raise your hammed do you want your from be well-read? >> yes. >> go ahead. >> to marc's opinion. donald trump wrote that the day i learned that it was smart to be shallow was a very deep day for me. whatnot he meant by that -- [laughter] >> normally shallow is not a positive quality but trump has a way of saying here's i know what the criticism will be and will turn it around. i'm so smart i can absorb complex information on a sing sheet of paper. he used the word shallow which is an awkward word to use.
he said i don't need all this information. she is smarter then the generals. he says, i'm really smart. things like that. that is the way he perceive him, whether it's correct or not is for you to decide but that's the way the looks at thing. he ceases him as being smart, able to absorb information quickly and knowing better people who are to use your phrase, expert is. >> can i jump in with a moment of history. a lot of parallels with ronald reagan and that ronald reagan was not a deep reader or terribly well-read and did not ask requests surrounded himself with very smart people, and people who had a lot of experience in government. and i think that it may not be a fatal flaw for a president to say, give me memos. i want to hear quickly then it will depend on who the president or any leader surrounds themselves with to be the adviser and convince, synthesize the expert expertese.
>> trumped surrounds him with yes peel. three or fewer might be family members and then one other person whose livelihood depends ago inning sync with donald trump. so the last year i interviewed a bun of former cheviots staff to presidents presidents and i asked eve them. the. what-under-under concerned about donald trump and whatever party they were with they were concerned would be willing to learn about things and understand he doesn't know anything. no president no matter how smart hare do possibly know everything about all the issues that will come to the fore up will he be willing to say i might be wrong. tell me why i'm wrong. give in the counterargument here and not live in fear that you'd be fire the next day. >> that is something to your point that i don't know if that's a distinguish can factor. i did briefly cover reagan. i thing one of first assanements was sir view ronald reagan, running for president and i was like 21 years old. >> uh-oh.
21, not 27. >> and i asked him a series of questions and i was surprise he had a seasons over index cards he was reading answers from. but they were consistent. he wasn't just popping off. so he thought i'm making sure i have my points right. to me as the young reporter i was surprisedded he didn't have the facility to say everything off the top of his head but he wanted to be consistent. for trump, it's -- he has certain viewpoint whether he is per waded by facts goes back to health care. has he learned that the with a he thought things would run are not the case? is he going to now rely on his instincts or other people's opinions that maybe need to change the way he operate? ...
as strange as this may sound, there are guys, and my boss to be one of them sometimes. when they ask questions and such death that you want to stop. you know okay so saddam hussein has invaded kuwait. how many billion cubic leaders of natural gas transport stay with me here. this is a bigger issue. every step has had that moment where the boss starts to disrobe down and throw them. he almost wish they would just come back due to the big stuff. fine. with that said, you asked how do you do this when the boss does not want to hear this stuff? your client is not just your boss. i say this repeatedly. the client of every expert including journalists, including defense plants, our clients the society.
and we have to serve our client. when you serve your client as you tell your boss the truth. even when it hurts. and i really got along with senator hines.i love the guy, we have a great relationship. but i can say this before the gulf war he asked me for my estimate of casualties. because he was going to have to go. this is before the vote in 1991. and i give an estimate that i thought, it turned out i was pretty much on the ball. because of what i knew about the weaponry and this extra stuff. and he thought, he was really concerned it was going to be higher. he threw me out of his office in a hail of f bombs. i mean i was practically, he followed me out the door like for the rest of the afternoon i was like that guy with the thundercloud over my head. you had to stick to my guns. i said this is my best expert opinion. whether you want it or not. i came out of the office about four or 5 o'clock that
afternoon and he was coming out of his office and i said bad timing, here it comes again. and he said all right, i did some checking and i asked other people. that is what a responsible boss does. he says okay i blew up on you, i'm not sure this was right but he said, it's as if you're in the ballpark. we need to talk about it again. and we had a very productive conversation. if you're asking how you do it, you just do it. take that risk you tell the possibly nice to hear because that is the only way you are serving him and the larger client that you serve. >> this is a great conversation we had literally 10 minutes -- i want to get to as many people as we can. shortly after that we can. but this has been great. i want to ask michael something fast. yes, sir no. the donald trump -- [laughter] >> yes, sir no?
>> there is no gray area. >> no he is not. he is what the american people elected. an, they elected him to be provocative, to push back against experts, against the system and they, the people who supported him have spent 30 years saying over and over again in increasingly loud voices that neither parties listening to them. neither party reflects what is going on and they are liars. ended up more and more extreme over they chose to be the vehicle for that message. finally they said, is not listening. this is what we're going to do. >> michael is smiling very hard. next question? >> i'm wondering whether the media has not been the contribute effective to the depth of expertise.in the times we do see experts
particularly on television there always the economist who says this or that. he had the scientist that says climate change is happening and so the media says we have done our job. we represented viewpoints. but it leaves the people to say they cannot grant basic ideas of science and economics. so what's today's post guys? >> i think our two-part space. the problem with media is there is too much bandwidth and airtime. so it becomes segmented into boutique outlets that people can go to and never have to really hear anything they do not want to. even those debates are really mock debates. almost let's set up. they're about as real as progressively most of the time. but the other problem and i will say this, in the book i
keep putting the blame back where i think it belongs. on the shoulder of the american public. t.v. is giving people exactly what they want. which is gladiatorial arguments although elopement -- like mark just said there is a little gray, there is a little more nuance. people are not interested in that. they want jerry springer over climate change. and so the networks driven by this they give the people what they want. so yes the media are responsible but the public is also demanding it. >> they are using overly large media.days in the "washington post", breitbart, your neighbors face book feed. they are completely different animals with different values and motivations.
when we lump them together we are buying into newt gingrich and what he was talking about the other day the anti- intellectualism. his response was i happy being that. and they were going to these categories and he said the academics and the media, the intellectuals in the country are all wrong. that is why we are pushing back again. you know it is easy to say they were wrong. there is specific places that you're looking at you might have and much more useful discussion. >> -- they will be a rush for the experts and they will be and i told you so moment.that will be the unfortunate piece that i hope never happens. [inaudible] [laughter] but i'm serious. people are saying something catastrophic happens, that is what will see the middle of
those in the inner circle and see what happens. i just hope we never get to that point. >> thank you all for being here today. i am a 23-year-old, not 27 yet. but i wanted to ask, the thing i really love about being a journalist is that you are speaking the truth. whatever that she is. you do not have a bias, you do not have an ideology that you are carrying into your work. after the election i sesame facebook posts via conservative or liberal people making statements about everything. and you know you can go down the middle for truth. so maybe just how would you tell people who seem to be so entrenched in their troubles to come out of that horrible? >> if i may, first of all we have a question about the bubble and the other is about journalism. because people do not understand what journalism is and how it works and it is now
largely confused. but we should not be confused. it is not speaking the truth. it is about attribution. it is a blind allegation. you attribute the allegation to an individual, three documents, to something you can actually put your hands on. it is about accountability. if you screw up you get fired. there is someone over your shoulder asking why. does anyone remember maxwell smart? i would take a reporter and they would put it with an unnamed source and say who is it? there are consequences for getting it wrong. people get fired if they get it wrong birthday plagiarize or anything else. no consequences in the world. there are very few that i know about. we are at the virginia festival of the book. so i book that i recommend to all of my students and to anyone who wants to know about
journalism it is an easy vehicle the elements of journalism. it is a fabulous book.11 principles of journalism. verification, seek the truth, -- their job is to adjudicate so that both sides, all sides, whatever points if you can be brought and then let the jury decide. >> my back is with russia. fake news is an intentional lie created. it is constructed and then disseminated usually through willing minions on fake websites. it is not been, is not bias, is not correctable error that is then handled by these kinds of rules of accountability. we have to stop using this term fake news. because increasingly is being
used to mean stuff i do not like. and that is certainly the way the president uses it. fake news is anything that just happens to penetrate that bubble that is not right. fake news for someone like me who has been studying the russians for good part of my career is very specific. it is intentionally constructed falsified. and i had to get that because we tend to use it and it is entering the vernacular yet even that journalism, it is not fake news. >> yes ma'am, questions? [applause] >> i have a question for michael and mark are doing research about mr. trump what is the most surprising feeling about him or rather it was absent the uncovered that completely contrasted with his public persona? >> to me the most surprising thing is the depth -- [inaudible] the depth were very quite something. if the report is that looked deeply into the six corporate
bankruptcy. it was much worse than you can imagine. it took extraordinary measures to get out of it. he was at one $0.900 million in debt. that is an awful lot of debt. i mentioned earlier, one public company he had, every time i mention that people are shocked.very few people know the story. to me that was the most surprising thing. partly because it was so bad. and partly because somehow he was able to recover and come back and be successful and we came back was representing himself so successfully. he did the apprentice television show. it was all based on the premise that he was an incredibly successful business men. without that he would not been so successful after. he had so much money and revenue from that alone. and also doing branded billing.
so it was surprising the depths of how unsuccessful he was that he was able to then recover. so when i talk about restoring the campaign i say he realized he was able to go on this roller coaster ride and come back. and if you forget that he -- >> to me the most surprising thing was the depth of the narcissism. this is an example.were at his office and before we came into sit down he said i want to show you something. he took us across the hall to a conference room. the only contents of the conference room was a table stacked with magazines. dozens and dozens of magazines. all with himself on the cover. as he brought us into the room, he said i want to shake something. i just discovered this. and he brought us in the room shows us the magazines and tells us he is been on the
cover of time more than anyone in the history of the world. then he says you know i just discovered this. this disappeared here. and i said well this is right across from your office. it is four feet outside of your office. you just discovered this? and there were the odd moments again and again we just could not get off it being so much about himself. >> wow. well, it is 5:15 pm everyone. i know, i know, i know. this has been an excellent channel discussion. [applause] you have a new perspective about questioning, about expertise or lack there of. and number 45, correct?all right. we want to thank the virginia festival of the book and also we would like to thank the city of charlottesville for providing this venue we are in the city council chambers.
and also we cannot and be occasion without saying thank you to our authors. frank, the author of ask more. let's give him a big applause. [applause] and the author of the depth of expertise. . the author of trump revealed and mark fisher the co-author of trump revealed. [applause] i am april ryan. >> april ryan, the author of -- [applause] all of the authors are here to sign books. once we conclude this portion of the event today. thank you so much. this has been so much fun. i learned something. i am sure you guys learn
[inaudible conversations] that rex of booktv's live t.v. coverage of the virginia festival of the book. if you missed any of our live coverage today it will re-air tonight starting at midnight eastern time. you can also watch all of the programs you've seen here on our website booktv.org. >> this is booktv on c-span2. television for serious readers. here is our prime time lineup rate at 7:45 pm natasha -- examines what college students
in the us and uk think about race and diversity programs. and i'm booktv afterwords graham at 9:00 p.m. eastern, report on alternatives to traditional banking. at 10:00 p.m. thoughts on america's political and cultural landscape.to wrap up our sunday prime time lineup at 11:00 p.m., peter moscowitz looks at gentrification in detroit, new orleans and new york. and what the impact has been on residents of these cities. that all happens tonight on c-span2 booktv. >> we need to ask the basic question here. how did congress choose the 12 rights that they did and what are the basic things it they want the audience know about what the bill of rights will protect? >> the most basic thing and i've already given you some hints about it.
we were just playing a game. and some of you play this with me before so if you have do not spoil it for you because you one of the answer. i like folks in the audience is to shout out the names where the famous, when i said bill of rights, cases in american history that pop into your -- what the big bill of rights cases are. shout out their names. [inaudible] >> brown versus board of education, citizens united, now - i cannot pull this crap. it is a very sophisticated crowd. that said, half of the cases that you shut it out are not bill of rights cases.
so first xander is before the constitutional.june 4 just type is about a fundamental right to have slaves or something. but that actually could count as a bill of rights idea but here in the cases he tossed out are not bill of rights cases. gideon versus wainwright. new york times versus sullivan. brown versus board of education. roe versus wade. miranda versus arizona. none of those is a bill of rights case. why not? because the bill of rights originally applied only against a federal government.congress shall make no law of a certain sort.
in the 10th amendment is about states rights. an image in the celebrations of local jury and local militia. the bill of rights of an anti-federalist local list, suspicion of the central government.and that is important but it is not our bill of rights today. because you believe that some of your most fundamental rights need to be protected against and localities. board of education of kansas, gideon versus wainwright in florida. roe versus wade when you agree with it or not is texas. lawrence versus texas, and others to shut down free speech. miranda versus arizona again, griswold versus connecticut. most of the cases that ordinary people think of as bill of rights cases are not. because the amendments only
about limited the federal government. so what kind of cases are gideon versus wainwright and lawrence versus texas and brown versus board of education and new york times and sullivan if they are not bill of rights cases? what are they? the 14th amendment cases. no state or locality shall make or enforce any -- that is the second bill of rights. when actually more intuitive for most americans today. because state misbehaves because madison lost when he tried to get that original. no state shall violate rights but the senate did not go long so he lost that fight. but he wins in the end. thanks to the 14th amendment and it is utterly apt that we
give madison the credit for the final 14th amendment but also it is a little ironic because all of this is precipitated in the 14th amendment by the slave, abuse of power and medicine jefferson were charter members founded a political party who is basically had a base that came from the presence of slavery. because jefferson and madison and their parties got extra electoral votes every election because the southern states that are voting for them are getting extra seats in the house of representatives and therefore also in the electoral college because of the existence of slavery. so it is both ironic and apt. our bill of rights doesn't stem from medicine but through the