tv In Depth David Corn CSPAN January 6, 2019 12:00pm-3:00pm EST
>> host: david corn, , given washington a long time. what is your take on the last few years? >> guest: it's hard to have an overview because we have lived so much in the moment to moment and made one of the biggest changes we've had with this president, with this administration that seems to be crisis or tweet every hour. we keep wondering how many more wheels are going to come off the bus. we had a total breakdown and political discourse, in any degree of cooperation, even the sense of reasonable governance. having lived here through reagan years and george h.w. bush years and george w. bush years, when i as a progressive progressive had a lot of issues with the policies they were pursuing, whether it was the iraq war or
the reagan tax cuts there was still a semblance of them i do want to be overly do we hide about this, people working together, tip o'neill and reagan have a beer, that's not what i'm talking about. i'm talking about the sense people both sides still believe they could have policy debate, and honest debate and slug it out, with or lose, you move and there was some concern for the overall value of keeping things working and moving and a respect for the processes even if it didn't always work out to your advantage. and i think we seen a total breakdown the begin before trump. i think the merrick garland fight which wasn't even a fight, it was really a gigantic step in one party saying to another party we're not going to play by
those rules anymore, we're going to be as obstructionist as possible and use every loophole we can find and then trump coming in having no concern for any position, any person that really is not himself. i feel it's hyperbolic to say this, but he does act as if he is a narcissist who cares not a whit for the opinions or even for the facts rot to invite anybody else. you just see this again and again and again from people who leave and information leaks out at his own behavior pretty shows no regard for anybody else other than himself. if you're not with them you are a hater. he lies ostensibly, when the fact ticket "washington post" now had its has them up to 7000 misrepresentations of false statements. some of them are obvious weisberg "new york times" now i
can was today or yesterday had a story but all statements he's made about the wall that are just distinctly under true. all presidents live. everybody in government lies at some point or another. theirs was a sort of how far can you push the line and span as often as you present your case, your set of facts in the most positive way, often ignore the other facts. trump has just made line his stock and trade. again it feels hyperbolic to say this but i think at some point we got to talk about it. i know republicans to work on the hill i know what the republicans, what senators say about trump. they call him the singing that rex tillerson called in. they say that they can't really function with them. but we're kind of living in partial denial, the fact a lot
of folks won't say that publicly. they wring their hands, they turn away when we have a president who really in some ways it is a disgusting human being. if a look at what he said on the "access hollywood" tape, when he said for years, his misogynistic comments about women, comments that even paul ryan said were racist. and yet again the racist birther crusade, he ran against barack obama and we just keep, as a society, not i think confronting the full nature of this man. mattis resignation letter, doesn't take a lot to read between the lines that shows he has no respect for donald trump. if you read one or two of the scenes and bob woodward book, it seems as if the president can't think. and again i keep coming back to this, it sounds hyperbolic but
he is presented with information and he doesn't sit down, he doesn't look at it. he doesn't absorb it. he doesn't consider. he just shoves it aside. and he will say the world trade organization i think this example that would were jews, they vote against this every time, every time. and they present him with the data that 87% of the time the wto, the wto supports the american position. and he can't absorb it. he shoves it aside. so i think it's rather dangerous. i think there is a bit of a crisis here that is hard for us to collectively engage with and if you try to deal with it, you fall into a partisan camp because of this profound tribalism that donald trump has come he didn't create and is not the cause. he's the symptom, but that he stokes and tries to use to his advantage, whether it's with the
shutdown now or anything else. i have even got into the subject of the book i wrote about the russian intervention in the election, and donald trump's basically aiding and abetting it, refusing to come to terms with it. i think we're in a pretty dark place at the moment. i think most americans are not there. most americans did not vote for donald trump at most americans voted in a way against them in the midterms, but i do think having a person of this psychological profile in the white house with all that power is quite dangerous and risky, and we see now that tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands, maybe millions of americans are being adversely affected by this shutdown, not getting to paychecks, people who live paycheck to paycheck. he simply doesn't seem to care. he simply, he's willing to use
them as hostages to get a wall, and breaking his biggest campaign promise. mexico isn't going to pay for the wall. well now he says unless taxpayers pay for the wall he will not come he will have no concern for these hundreds of thousands of americans who are affected by the shutdown. that is mean. that's wrong. and i don't know exactly how they work out this small problem compared to the big problem is that we as a country move forward and get away from trump style politics, which is indeed name-calling, demagoguery, exploiting fear and exploiting the vision. i wrote a book about obama and will probably talk about something in the next three hours, but one thing that did impress me about him that i
think about a lot, and i don't always agree with everything you did but i was lucky, i had the opportunity talk to him a few times while he was president. and i know his critics. they will not believe me when i say this. they really won't, but i can tell you that he really believed that he had to be president for all americans, including those who did not vote for him. and that is not what we have in the white house now. and we also have a white house that by all accounts is not really functioning. it's not fully staffed. it doesn't develop policy. trump doesn't have the attention span to focus on things. in a way we've been lucky that there's been no major economic crisis, there's been no gigantic foreign policy crisis in the last two years because i don't think we have a functioning president right now. >> host: you talk about donald
trump as a symptom rather than a cause. is the political polarization that we are currently in common is that inevitable, is that the new norm? >> guest: that's a really good question. it is certainly the reality and certainly i think, you know, you can chart it back as far as you want to go. the nixon campaign had the southern strategy, which was basically to get white voters who resented changes in civil rights laws or measures of integration like busing to not vote, democrats to vote for republicans. so there was a real effort there to sort of encourage or exploit this feeling of racial resentment, might've might even racism in some instances. and you had george h.w. bush was just lauded when he passed away
recently, and my condolences to go to the family, but his campaign also played, use that to an extent. then you had the tea party come up, which was a think of a divisive mechanism. i would go to rallies, tea party rallies where they would have pictures of obama, caricature that you had to say were racist. these were people also many of them, not all of them but many of them who got into the birther conspiracy which donald trump championed, which said that barack obama was not born in america. and there was no basis for that. i think that was a racist manifestation, some degree of racism. and so there are some things that are there, and the tea party came in with i think a lot of animus and divisiveness, and the republican leadership, particularly john boehner, saw
this as a way to mobilize people who would vote for republicans. they ended up, it ended up being a tiger that they could fold a ride on the own and they got into a position where if there were not confrontational on obama and everything else, that the tea party talk with which i think is another big piece of this, talk radio would attack them. so much of this was in motion before donald trump came along. and i do believe people have different theories about how countries and nations move, develop, change, and is it because of decisions made at the top? it's because of what's happening at the grassroots with the body politic, and it's obviously a bit of both, right? so the right leadership can take concerns of american citizens and direct them in productive
ways, or they can inflame them. americans are right to be concerned about pride and about chaos and disorder and about border security. they are right to care about that stuff, but if you're out there saying there's this caravan folo tariffs, urine produced in they will be rating your loved one, that is wrong. but that does create particularly with the media we have, this sort of echo chamber, a cycle. instead of having responsible leadership saying the right to care about this and would work on solutions, trying to work with the other side and figure out what we can do, work with the mexican authorities, you have been exaggerated, the threat so people become more agitated and more fearful.
and that is a hard cycle to break. and it's hard to talk about this as well without becoming too partisan but if you look at republican polling, pulling of republicans, a lot of them still believe obama was not born in america or that he was a secret muslim or socialist. 42% of republicans recently said they would support donald trump if the shutdown newspapers have reported information and accurately. a lot of republicans still believe the exaggerated threat from the border and other things. and so there seems to me to be a bit of a fever on the conservative republican side. and if you talk to republican legislators a lot of them will admit to that. they will talk about publicly because it's their base. and you see some conservative
media commentators like people used to work at the weekly standard which closed which is sort of this issue, too. and no one has been able to quite stop it yet. and there may be reckoning for the republican party itself, or a larger reckoning for the country because if we can't get past this point it's going to be very hard to deal with these profound issues we have come whether it's climate change, economic inequality in a growing global economy, and we still, we see today a fair amount of racial divisiveness that needs to be dealt with, particularly as our country becomes more diverse. so we are really losing time by not being able to have productive conversations about this and being involved in politics where anger and fear
are the double fuels that are being used. >> host: david corn, as a political journalist and author in this town, is it hard not to report on donald trump? >> guest: oh, yeah. my twitter feed people say stop reporting on his tweets. why do you cover everything he says? he is the president. he does have control of our nuclear arsenal, which makes him one of the most powerful people in all time, in all time. we see what he's able to do, shutting down the government and the nine paychecks and even racist to hundreds of thousands of american citizens. it is a lot of power. see him not dealing with climate change. in fact, going in the opposite direction and easing regulation on industries that contribute to global warming.
so, i mean, he does deserve around-the-clock coverage. but the coverage has to be in a way that informed citizens and consumers of the news so that they can make the right judgments about what they do politically, whether it's presidential election or local election, where they organized themselves on a local issue or a national issue. so, i mean, he deserves your call given this, he deserves the amount of coverage he gets. i do think that the media collectively made some errors when you joined the campaign and just give them lots of airtime to say whatever he wanted to say because he was an entertaining carnival barker and was good for copy and good for ratings. and i long thought about why,
it's not so much why politicians lie but what happens when they live. and they lie because it gives them an advantage. that's what anybody lies. you don't tell, when you don't tell the truth, you tell the truth when it helps you come get what you want whether it's getting out of the house were getting elected, whatever. that's when you tell the truth, telling the truth helped you, you would do that. but you don't tell the truth, you lie to gain an advantage. i have long thought that mainstream media, , which i dont use as a pejorative term, i mean, i have a lot of friends in the mainstream media and often they do great work but the culture of it that we just report with someone says and then we may be report the other side, gives an advantage to the wire. because they get the first take. if donald trump says 5000 people
were screened across the border and about to kill you, then five paragraphs later you say well, such and such an expert says that's not going to happen, you are still giving him the bully pulpit and usually the headline, the lead if that's the first thing people here. there's a lot of interesting science in recent years how are brains work and how was your think. if you that first and it's alarming, that leaves a big impression. impression is what counts with in information. so if the president the presids a national threat, wow, that registers because we assume president say that when it is a national threat. then if later on the next days story, lower in the piece or later in the show you bring a three expert to say well, not really a threat but one person says it is a threat. you know, the president or whoever is acting in that way has one. he's gotten that impression out there. i've always wondered why the
statement is more newsy than the fact that the president said something false. i go back to the example and to think, i think i use it in one of the books, but the day before the invasion of iraq, march 2003, there was a story in the "washington post" by david milbank and walter, and the headline was something like experts say presidents reasons for war are wrong, don't exist, false, undermined. it basically went to all the reasons that, all the reasons that bush and cheney had put out there for invading iraq. saddam had a connection with al-qaeda. there were chemical weapons, a nuclear program, listed
missiles, rocket tubes and set at up each and every one of these, intelligence experts in the government and outside the government that there was reason not to believe them, that it was not proven. that story appeared on something like page 19. i've always come i've asked this question now, what is it, 16 years, 16 years, under what definition of news is it not front-page news that the president is bringing the nation to war on the basis of statements that experts say are not true? i mean, that to me should have been banner headline, but it wasn't. colin powell's speech a month earlier, the "washington post" in this instance, they did a similar thing.
the front page, colin powell makes case for invasion. that's the impression people get. like colin powell. he was not considered one of the enactment of the bush-cheney years. colin powell is making a case for war. then on inside they had a double spread worth a broken his argument like chemical weapons,, biological weapons, nuclear program and had a story on each, and each story contained people saying the same thing, that the case was improving, that when they said this or exaggerated for this is undermined or the inspectors have dealt with this. and so yes, the "washington post" can say well, we gave you all the information, but the big impression they gave, and oppression that was given across the meeting was that colin powell had made a case for war. >> host: and to make books david corn is written about, "hubris" and the lives of george
h.w. bush come you refer to yourself as a progressive earlier on. are you upfront about that in your book? >> guest: most of the books are reported books. "hubris" i did with michael esco who is at the time was at "newsweek," and "russian roulette" which would put out a few months ago, he is now at yahoo! news. he went -- >> host: not consider himself a progressive tractor i worked at the nation magazine and i know washington bureau chief of "mother jones" which both call themselves progressive publications. i am kind of a hybrid. i will write pieces that have analysis to it and go on msnbc as an msnbc analyst and talk about things and know that, people know by this point where i'm coming from. but my books are reporting in
depth. read "russian roulette," does not a lot of criticism along the way of donald trump. we report what donald trump has done. we report things people have not heard of before. we report on the obama administration's reaction to the russian intervention in the election, too, which i think one can read in some ways critical of them. and there's not a lot of conclusion like analysis. it's straight reporting. and so i do that. i love to do that. i do do do investigative reporting, and i done it mainly for the nation magazine and "mother jones" over the years. but i don't hide the fact that if people want to label me lyrically when they see me on tv
talking and sometimes arguing that i'm doing it from a progressive bent. >> host: in 2015 he wrote in the nation despite all the profound changes in the media landscape during the past several decades, the bottom line remains the same, recognize scandal, , there's always somewhere to dig trenches i think that's been my motto. a story which i wrote to the nation's when hundred 50th whatever anniversary issue was about coming to washington in the late '80s and the first story i code was the iranian contra scandal. i saw the was -- i kind of believe that truth wins the day and the truth leads to better politics and better political decision-making. my goal is to present the public
with truth that comes from investigation. i'm convinced that will lead to policymaking and decisions that i believe are best for the country. >> host: and from "mother jones", david corn writes when i arrived in washington at the start of 1987, the great journalist i assist on the decades had been my predecessor as washington correspondent for the nation offered me a valuable piece of advice. stay to the independent you attend and read everything. >> guest: which was horrid. what he was great at doing, and he worked for the nation, work for the "new york post," he had his own newsletter, he was in some ways the first locker. he created his own infinite newsletter in the '60s that against me in the aircraft individually to its subscribers
here he was great at finding documents things other people had ignored. i will say this. i think in a lot of ways the big media organizations do great work, you great job. but they don't always see everything and they are also very standard i what i call not a liberal or conservative bias, even a corporate bias but by an official bias here they have to spend time covering the official agenda of washington. and that often takes up space and time and resources. but it gives an opening to journalists like myself, my colleagues at "mother jones." i have 19 people who i work with in the washington, d.c. bureau alone, to look at places and find stories that other people are not looking at, not doing, and even sometimes on issues
that are indeed already in the news. i mean, there is a lot to cover, and there are often many stories that there often is, and it don't mean this in the pejorative way, a bit of a herd mentality. there's like the obvious story, the obvious part of the store that people all kind of get drawn to, and that leaves a lot of other material uncovered, undercovered or not covered or ignored. in so i've always believed that you can always find things and so in some ways it's a little bit tougher now because i think he was talking to , his expenses when the '50s and '60s and '70s, i think with more meeting out and with more independent media, more people are or were bloggers were digging through
more independent citizen type journalists. so there is more media over all, and the challenge now becomes, when you find something, how to cut through the clutter and gain eyeballs, , they say, or gain attention, or good stories, good solid stories that may not be the things that are on the hamster wheel that most of us are on day in and day out. >> host: what do you read every day? how do you start? >> guest: a few years ago, the atlantic magazine had a future where they basically asked people how to start today, what do you become what you look at? i contributed to that, and i don't know if that was five years ago, maybe or so, and to think things have changed a lot since then. i get up check my e-mail. i look at twitter.
i don't think twitter was that i look at email to save any story was breaking. and then i would glance at the hard copy of the "new york times" and the "washington post," which i had delivered. dead trees. i had. past tense. and now i guess i get the post hard copy each day but against the times only digitally, which is getting too many newspapers in the house. but now i find and i feel this is probably true for most people, that everything has become buffett style. a lot of it is driven a lease for me by twitter understand for many americans it's facebook. so i will, the more time looking at twitter to see what people are identifying as news of the
day or thinks we pay attention to. and an intro it at jones with something called -- which a lot of businesses use. it's an internal communication, almost like an internal twitter, you have different groups can have like a politics chat, media chat, do we have where are you? are you coming in late chat? those type of things. you could also do individual messaging applications. so we have, you know, dozens of people who are looking at things, reading patterns, and when they find something they think is notable that no one should know, they put in our chat. i feel like i have become much more the product of the victim of a high modification of the
media, in that you kind of like, you decide who you are paying attention to, and then as a .2 different directions you follow that. i still try every day to glance at the post hardcopy for leave the house. don't always get to that, and i do and try at some point of the day sort of go online and look at home pages, whether it's the times or the "wall street journal," the "washington post," you know, buzzfeed, "daily beast." but if you find a lot of the things that would be interested me i've already gotten some notice of your i think this is in a lot of ways a bad thing. i think this is a bad way for us to live collectively. there was something quite wonderful in those quaint days of reading the newspaper or
watch a news on tv come on network news or local news, that judges sit through or you had to turn to things that you otherwise wouldn't see. i still find a favor like pick up the new times and start flipping through, or something i can't, i'm interested in hasn't reached me one way or the other. watching local news waiting for the weather report or waiting for the sports but you're still sing with the local city council did or your mayor or governor did, i think that was great. it was a little bit of force-feeding and going through a newspaper, here's a story about myanmar that just pulls me in. i managed to look at that in the lead. we don't do that anymore. at least i don't do much. i did as much of that as i would
like and i think luckily he do a lot less of it. that's a bad thing. people talk about only getting, too many americans like it the meeting they want, reinforces their political views, the liberals are watching msnbc, conservatives are watching fox, and they feel like liberals, fox feels like a completely different planet. i do think besides the political ramifications, we were not, we can be not as broad of human beings as we should be if it so easy to get all information we want. if all you care about is sports and you can go to all of the sports sites and even the sports pages of your local newspaper and just focus on sports as opposed to having years ago on by, by a newspaper. if you flip through to get to
the sports, you still support the paper by buying it and you might have run across something else, and that doesn't happen anymore. >> host: so david corn, let's get to books. what's the difference between writing a book and doing your daily business? >> guest: oh, my god. maybe it's the difference between clipping her nails and getting surgery. i mean, books are hard. i think they're supposed to be hard, if you do the right. and the books that i've done in general i guess the last or books, three or four books, they've all been about something in the news and i have all done them on a very, very quick pace, which is in some ways frightening in a way. every time i've taken on one of these i worry at the beginning i could do it. two of these include my colleague michael isikoff, and
we've gotten through these books at a breakneck pace, reporting, editing, writing all simultaneously to do a book and basically a year. and to do a book that we are proud of that we believe will advance a story that is already in the news but also add to it, scoops and historical context, you know, it's a tremendous amount of work and it's juggling determines amount of information. i mean, if you take a book that is 300 pages long, and a book of this nature, nature like this, how many facts are there on each page? five five to ten fax on each pa? okay. that's a lot of facts to get
right, to worry about. and so if you can facts and 300 pages, that's 3000 facts. if you get, you know, 30 wrong in a book, what is that, 1%? you you still getting 99% 99% t but anyone of those 30 facts could like destroy your book if it's wrong in a certain way. there's a little bit of a risky nature in all journalism to doing things quickly while trying to go deep in the substantial. you also, it also, you know, the pain so to speak is drawn out over a whole year. i've done articles that take a lot of work and that may be sensitive or you may worry about, you know, engaged, even
some risk. but those come and go. they usually take less time and you get it up there and then you move on to the next. and so i don't feel like any particular article i've done is akin to being a child of mine, but books, you know, not to insult my daughters but books feel a little black a child, like something that you gave birth to, and they will be out there and come in hard copy on bookshelves or, hopefully forever. and the stakes are just hired for books. >> host: two of your books, "hubris" and russian roulette cowritten with michael isikoff. my guess is it's probably harder to cowrite a book. >> guest: that's a great question. jeffrey, but in question form.
people ask that and people who know me, and mike, take a asked that question. both a very strong views of how we tend to see things. i think without going too much into our own personal psychologies, the safe answer is basically when you write the book this sort with another reporter, the first half goes faster. like the reporting, the reporting half because we divvy up, okay, you're going to talk to these people, i'm going to talk to those people. so we really can cover twice the ground that one reporter could do so. the writing and editing allows probably twice as long as it would take either one of us to do on our own.
because usually one of us would draft a section, chapter, episode, whatever, and then we would pass it back and forth, sometimes once or twice, sometimes a lot more with changes and suggestions. occasionally, on "russian roulette" i think we came to a deadlock on may be three things, not a lot, and how we were going to describe this episode, chapter or whatever we should emphasize that. i think in the grand scheme of things that's not a lot. we brought in our editor as an arbitrator to figure it out, and we figured out -- >> host: carol ross? >> guest: she's our agent.
sean desmond at 12, and it really have to tip my hat to sean for always keeping his cool about this, when he was, you know, from his perspective the book advocate done by a certain time so it could be published at a certain time, and that's part of having a short deadline i think it helps a partnership. because we are both under the same deadline. both under the gun. so we realized whatever, you have to resolve it. you have to resolve it. what was the movie? i think -- was a called the fugitives? a movie in the '60s with tony curtis and sidney fortier i believe and they were -- sidney fortier. a prison, chain gang, and that escaped together. but they are chained together
what is a white southern bigot,, the other is a black man. and so they have to figure out how to survive together while chained together if they're going to skate and not be brought back. this type of project you are like that. we had to figure things out. i know people who have been in partnerships working on books, and had a much longer timeline to finish. and had a lot more problems. they had more time to argue and in time to say well, we're not going to resolve this and things will just linger and faster. we basically, if there was a wound, cut it off and move on, we had to keep going. >> host: did you find evidence of collusion? >> guest: good question. it depends on the meaning of collusion. i mean, donald trump has state so much on this, , no collusion, no collusion, no collusion.
well, , he seems to think the collusion only comes if he had a phone call with putin and told putin where russian hackers should attack the dnc computers and when to release the material. well, there's no evidence of that and probably wouldn't be because it wasn't necessary to be like that. what i think is that there is generally a collaboration. and as we put in the book on the last page, and this is something mike and i are busy had to agree on, was that trump aided and abetted the russian attack, not interference, it's an attack on the u.s. election. there are a couple of easy ways to show that. one is the infamous june tower meeting, june 2016, when don junior, paul manafort's and jared kushner, top three guys in the trump campaign met with the russian emissary who they were
told was bringing them dark on hillary clinton. now, they say the information she offered was of no use to them and that was the end of it. but the e-mail that came in to john junior described emissary -- don junior, said this is part of a kremlin plan to help trump. so they are being notified that there's a secret kremlin plan to help donald trump. what did they say to that? we are in, we love it. literally, i love it is what don junior email back to the embassy. at that point in time they are sending a signal to the russians that if you're doing anything to help us, that's fine with us, we like that. my days, i think i did after that meeting was the first public account the russians had attacked and penetrated the
democratic national committee. the trump campaign response to that was this is obviously a hoax that the democrats are making up because that such a lousy candidate. think about it, i disprove any meeting with the russian who they were told were part of a secret russian campaign, and so they of anybody in the world have now been given an indication that the russians want to mess in the election. they come out and they say this is a hoax. that's a lie, because it wasn't. why would they say that? how do they know it was a hoax? they didn't know that. he had have no basis for saying that. so the russians are attacking in the trump campaign comes out, when they're caught says it's not happening. so that's giving them cover right then and there. okay, at the convention, the democratic convention, that's when they released, the russians
released 22,000 of the dnc e-mails and documents they had stolen. broken the law to steal. they campaign chairman or manager for hillary clinton goes on tv and says the russians by doing this, they are attacking our campaign. and they want to help trump that same day donald trump, jr., paul manafort's who are in every meeting, they come out and they say how dare he say this your they are just making this up, taking this into the gutter lenses on the russians. and manafort's even says later i have nothing to do with russia, himself. he says trump had nothing to do with russia. all that is a lie. again they know that rush is doing something, denying it is happening. paul manafort had, owned -- owed
$18 million to russian oligarchs who is close to putin, and donald trump himself was working with the russians to build a tower in moscow at least until june of 2016, but through the fall of 2015 and the winter of 2016, while he's a candidate for president. he is working to build a tower in moscow, and michael cohen, while that is happening, calls putin's office to ask for help. so trump then goes on after the convention and calls on the russians to hack hillary, famously go find those e-mails, please hack her. then -- in august he gets an intelligence briefing, he is now the republican nominee, this is standard come he's told in that briefing that russia is behind
the attacks and probably the dissemination of material that came from the dnc. what does he do? he comes right out of towards ss no one knows it is russia, it's a hoax turkey says the same thing at the debates. in early october the obama administration publicly declares rush is the culprit. he comes out again and says who knows? who knows? it's like a 400-pound guy in the basement. so think about it. his people are told russia wants to mess in the election. he himself is told directly use intelligence community has concluded this, and he gets out there and he echoes come he repeats russian disinformation because putin kept think we have nothing to do with it. we have nothing to do with this. so he is making now a political issue. democrats say this, trump says it's not the russians here and politicizes it.
that helps the russians. the metaphor that i use personally is that it's like the guy on a street corner in front of a bank. the bank is being robbed. he is told the bank is being robbed. he turned around. there's guys in there with masks and dance. the bank is being robbed. as people come by they say what's happening? there's nothing, nothing stopping at all. it's all fine. now, whether or not he was in on the initial caper, he is helping them get away with a robbery. in legal terms, aiding and abetting after-the-fact come in some circumstances can be a crime even. but he's doing that. in this case he is the beneficiary of what's happening. he is the beneficiary of the russian operation which i think you can make the argument was decisive in election, as well as
a dozen other decisive factors, not on its own. so i already believe that whatever robert mueller will make known to the public, anything that comes out of senate intelligence committee investigation is still underway, there's already enough to say that donald trump acted in a way that you could call the trail. he helped a foreign power get away with an attack that was a deliberate on our democracy on our electoral system. and that's, whether you want to call that colluding, including with the big russian cover-up, helping them get away with it. and to me that is a big factor here that has not been fully absorbed, that trump has indeed succeed in trade a different standard in which to be judged. >> host: and, in fact, david corn, you wrote in a "mother jones" peace and a non-trump
applied world, revelations of this behind the scenes scheming for profit when it set off an enormous little earthquake. after all, this was the most conflict of interest in modern american campaign history. but trump has changed the rules of what counts as a political scandal. >> guest: i i mean, think about this. when he was running for president, and often asked to talk about putin and russia, in which he bizarrely often said things that were positive about putin and fended off criticism of putin, he was trying to do a deal and moscow that would've brought him hundreds of billions of dollars, according to robert mueller in one of the pleadings in the michael cohen case -- millions. so is not a dummy. he knows he can have a deal if that goes through, it is out there criticizing putin and russia. he's campaigning as america
first candidate, yet here he is engaged in this project moscow, that is not telling the public about. in fact, he's lying about his relationship to the guy, a man named felix, who was pulling it together. we write about this in the book, when asked about felix, decembed worked with for years, he says i don't think i would recognize him. that very moment, he is negotiating this deal in russia for donald trump and trump is already signed a letter of intent. he's fully aware of all this. now, any of the candidate at any of the moment in time, if he had been, while campaigning signally going to that of a foreign power, even a rival power and say hey, can you help me make
$100 million? i think that would've been it. that in and of itself, put aside collusion, put aside aiding and abetting, put aside the trump tower beating, put aside any of that stuff, that in and of itself should be subject of congressional hearings, investigation. it's a major thing, but trump throws so much chaff into the air, that sometimes it's hard to see things clearly, there's so many different scandals now that, you know, that he's i think purposefully making this busying pattern. of saudi prince went to one of his apartments, hotels last year and bought $9 million in rent that he might not have even needed. that goes directly to trump's company, directly to his pocket.
so you know, you don't think that the sound is but trump know that they did that? i mean, this is like -- that only became public because a memo about it leak. we don't know. this could be happening every week of a a trump hotel and onf his properties. that $9 million payoff. i mean, richard nixon got in trouble for taking a coat, you know, and getting a pet dog, he had a whole speech about. we we're talking about millionsf dollars in money that might be considered bribes. that's just one thing right there. you can talk about ryan zinke and pruitt and wilbur ross. i mean, nepotism, giving at security clearances. the democrats have taken over the house now, must really be puzzling hard what to focus on.
deutsche bank, the president of the united states has, owes hundreds of millions of dollars to a foreign bank that said regulatory trouble with the justice department here for a number of reasons, including a scandal of the poem which might have involved russian money-laundering. so you focus on that, you focus on the emoluments, the payments. and so going back to the russian deal, i think under any other administration, under any other set of circumstances, people would've been screening holy hell, and even republicans would have. but they have made a strategic calculation, the republican party, that they are going to tie themselves to the mast of the u.s. as trump and write it or go down with it.
>> host: welcome to booktv. this is our in-depth program every first sunday of the month. we feature one author to talk about his or her body before. of work. this month its "mother jones." chief here in washington, d.c. and best-selling author david corn. he is the author of six books beginning with "blond ghost" back in 1994. we will learn a little bit about that later. deep background which came out in 1999 is actually a novel. we'll talk about that. "the lies of george w. bush," 2003, and trying 122,006 both about the bush administration. "showdown: the inside story ofd his most recent bestseller co-authored with michael isikoff is "russian roulette: the inside story of putin's war on america and the election of donald trump." which we spent a bit of time
talking about already today, but we'll put the phone numbers. this is your chance to talk to david corn. we spent an hour talking, now it is your turn. 202-748-8200 eastern/central, 202-748-8201 mountain/pacific. if you can't get you on the phone lines still want to make a comment, try our social media site, facebook or twitter @booktv is her handle and will begin taking those calls in just a few minutes. david corn, these situations such as the election of 2016 and other scandals and things that have happened in washington, sometimes these things get a little murky. you've got christopher steele, you have a dossier. your gps fusion. you've got hillary clinton e-mails, you got the fbi, the dnc. are these things murky on
purpose, or is it just that they grow traffic that's a good question. maybe life itself tends to be murky. there's some obviously political interest in making things murkier, and making things mighty on purpose. we talked a moment ago about what i consider some of the big points of the trump russia scandal is aiding and abetting the russian attack. trump i think purposefully tries to make things murky by saying obama why attack me -- wire taps me. not true. what about the dnc server? another red herring. republicans in congas, this troubles me greatly, who are on the intelligence committee, you're supposed to get to the bottom of what happened with the russians attack on the u.s. election in 2016. instead they are at the recent all sorts of tangential issues
about a fisa warrant, whether a fisa warrant which is a go to wiretap a former trump campaign advisor named carter page was done properly or not. they spent all this time on that and make that the big issue, and should be looked at? yes. i'm not sit shouldn't but they make that the focus. they also say things, there's been a lot of line and false statements made in pursuit of that as a native. it is basically creating competing narratives. some of them have involved me personally. they are very conspiratorial. i just know for a fact that they are wrong, but they are trying to make things murky because by and large if you're on the wrong side of the skin, if you did something wrong, if you aided and abetted a russian attack on the united states, which was hard to argue that you are
right, that you didn't do something wrong. so what do you do? you create distractions or you raise other issues. what about, trump does this all the time, how come you're not investigate hillary's e-mail server? well, they did. they did investigate it. james comey gave a whole press conference, and then he investigated it again at the end of the election and that became public perhaps improperly. ..
hard for folks to absorb that and place it in the cosmos of this scandal. i was talking even to a reporter who covers this -- one of the major newspapers and he said, i really enjoyed reading your book. gave me a sense of the whole. because i still every day -- this is a person who is done a fair number of scoops -- i do think it's kind of difficult, particularly in our world of getting dollops of news here and there and everything moving on quickly. that was something we tried to do in the book to make things not murky and give people a foundation so as news stories arise, they know -- they can basically an orb and put them into context. >> host: before we go too far from your journalism background, you have had several scoops in
your career, 47%, iran-contra, et cetera. >> guest: yeah, well, that's kind of what i try to do. to me i'm happiest when i'm break agnus story that others haven't gotten. getting the 47% tape that mitt romney saying during the 2012 campaign, that he believes 47% of americans don't pay taxes, don't take responsibility for themselves and don't want to take responsibility for themselves, and we don't -- i don't have to care about them because they're not voting for in the may i thought was a revelatory moment. people got to sigh what mitt romney said to funders when he didn't believe he was being watched. and the great thing about that scoop in particular was it wasn't according to sources. here was video. everybody could watch this, we put the full video out.
the first response from romney camp, this was taken out of of context. no we gave you the context. put out a minute of the video before and after the response and the next dale we put out the whole video. so, that didn't work. so that was very gratifying because that was the type of story you really can't challenge. or can't really even ignore because video is so compelling. i've had other stories that -- >> host: valerie plame. >> guest: in 2003 when bob novak wrote a story note that ambassador joe wilson, who was a critic of the war in iraq and who said -- and changed the intelligence used to justify the war, created a fire storm, robert novak reported his wife
worked at the cia as if to suggest that this was part of a cia campaign against the bush-tcheny white house. and that caused a -- she was an undercover intelligence official, and i was the first to write that the leaking of her name might be a crime. there was something called she intelligence identities protection act which made it illegal for the people in the u.s. government to identify injured con -- undercover intelligence office. whoever told novak they were government officials might have violated the law, and that led to a lot of the discussion that eventually led to the appointment of a special counsel that investigated this, a guy who nearly indict karl rove as
we -- i tell in the book hubris and did indict and convict scooter liby, dick which henys if chief of staff. >> host: you write that steele reported that putin and the kremlin were not happy about the idea that mitt romney was being considered for secretary of state. they asked trump to find someone who is more friendly to russia, after which rex tillerson was picked. >> guest: yeah. the steel dossier -- i've never like that term. a collection of memos he sent after he was hired by fusion gps in 2016. so something that is collected and thought about and vetted. these are, here's what i'm hearing, here's a memo, one
source says this, one source says that. the first memo i thought was the -- i was the first reporter to report on these -- was to me the most chilling when it said the russians had a year's long campaign to co-opt and cultivate trump. and then there are details there about salacious acts that may or may not have been committed and then throughout the rest of the memos, details about what is purported details, what's going on in the kremlin in terms of the attack on the election, and what you are citing is one of the last memos that steele sent. all these have not be fact checked or confirmed by steele-0 anybody else. this is what sources are telling me. and they're private. as a journalist, i kind of get this. people tell me all sorts of things or what guess on in the trump white house, in congress, anyplace else, and sometimes i will send a note to my fellow
reporters or my fellow editors i'm hearing this or that, and but it's not something i put up online. something i tweet about. i haven't proven it. so here we have an unproven report, private report from steele, that, if true, would be explosive, and amazing, if this true. we do know that trump talked to romney but secretary of state job, and my own personal view is trump was playing him, wanted to get romney, who had been very critical of trump, want tote get him to basically kills the ring, and once he did that, i don't need you. we ended up with rex tillerson who had a very, very friendly relationship with putin. given him award because exxonmobil had done a lot of work that -- when he headed with
russia. so, this is exactly the type of thing that you'd want the house or the senate intelligence committee to investigate and let us, the public, know if there's any truth to this. >> host: let's take some calls. david corn is our guest and marjorie in pratt, west virginia, hi, marjorie, your on book tv. >> caller: thank you for taking my call. david, we're sort of infamous for having jailed mother jones back when she was working with unions. i'm from a coal mining union family. i thought you might find that interesting. here's my question. i'd like your observations about. as you'll know republicans are always wanting to put social security in the stock market and cut medicare and medicaid as they cite the need to fix our debt problems. there's web site i'm wondering if you're familiar with called
goodjobsfirst that tell us the amounts of money congress takes from our taxes and gives by the bills, even trillions, from taxpayer funded subsidies, every year, to wall street banks, and including foreign banks like deutsche bank you just mentioned. we taxpayers give corporations like oil companies $4.4 billion every year, all the while paul ryan's budgets call for taking 4 billion every year out of food stamps. the oil industry's quarterly profits were 18 billion. why should food stamp money, social security, medicare, medicaid, be on the chopping block every time republicans get in power, pharmaceutical companies, and as i've side these other kind -- >> host: all right, marjorie, i think we got the point. marjorie, who is mother jones? >> caller: my goodness. she was a famous coal mining lady -- we live near place
called paint creek, where there was a train that went up and down the tracks that shot coal mining families that lived in tents along the railroad tracks, but mother jones was just famous for helping the unions get their union rights. >> host: thank you, ma'am. david corn. >> guest: a longtime union organizer working with coalminers and also other high-profile basically wars, you can call them, for labor rights and union rights, when often, as she mentioned there was violence with pinkerton guards sent by coal mining companies, silver mining companies, to break up the union and to attack, if not even kill, people who were demanding labor rights, soes she is a magazine, mother jones, start he in the 70s and named
after her because she called herself a hell raiser and the founders of the magazine want to do muck raking and hell racing, to her question, it's a great question. gets to the heart of our politics. i wish it's the type of thing we could discuss on a daily basis. talking fundamentally about values. when we get together and legislatures across the straights and congress and talk about tax codes and who gets what tax cut rate and who gets what tax subsidies and write this or that out little we're talk can but values, money, and at the -- then i think she points out that paul ryan, who is considered and often hailed as a great policy wonk here in washington, just left as house speaker, often put forward budgets that really, really crunched and put pressure on social security, medicare, medicaid, at the same time while supporting tax cuts like we saw
with the trump tax cuts that really give back a lot of money to the wealthy at a time when they're not hurting and there's no evidence that doing so fuels economic growing. in fact they always say these tax cuts pay for themselves because they get spent and there's economic activity, but tax revenues are down after those tax cuts and the deficit, which paul ryan and other budget hawks always claim to care about, has gone up tremendously, but without -- because we're paying for a wall or because we're -- a war, not -- we're not pay money for a war, not come out of an economic crisis like obama inherited, and the deficit went up a little bit because he spent money on stimulus to get people working again. or he spent money on the auto bailout that work. so there are reasons when deficit spending can be a
positive. we all -- if you buy a house, take out a loan to send a kid to college, you're taking on debt for good reason. but we see now, with conservative budget hawks, they don't care about the deficit, the national debt. just went ahead and voted for tax cuts without offsetting them and come back and we say we have to cut further out of social spending programs. that's fundamental fight we have been having for decadings a fight of the bug battle during obama's years which i write about in the book, showdown, and continues today, and i think unfortunately we get -- trump is very good at distracting, and it's hard to actually focus on that now. that the democrats have control of the house i expect these value-oriented budget fights will get more attention and the wall is a little bit a part of that. here's trump promising that he
could build a wall without taxing the american public, and mexico will woo pay for it, and what is he doing? just asking for $5 billion more in def festivity spending to build a wall and he claims the money comes from a better trade deal with mexico. we don't see that money coming in and who gets the benefits of that? does that money go to to the u.. treasury? may go to corporations but not -- he doesn't necessarily flow into she u.s. treasury. so it's kind of -- kind of like at the end of ideology in a way. there's no -- at least i would say the republicans, by embracing trump, have thrown away their ideology, which was small government, tax breaks but care about the deficit, debt spending, and they've thrown away that, thrown away their hawkish foreign policy, just by
letting trump do whatever he wants to. do and and that is -- i don't know how -- what the reason is for the republican party anymore other than to support trump. >> host: kathy is in leaven with, washington, you're on with author and journalist, david corn. >> caller: okay. why don't i get to the core of the problem we have in this country and in this world, really, is that -- first of all the founding fathers didn't want another king george running rampant and in article 1, section 9, night 8, the emoll uments clause and its begins with, i quote no title of know enable school be granted by the united states. no title of know noblity, and yet, what is it? i am a progressive. i've had it with both democrat and republican parties. you kiss up what, senators,
congressmen, you're so surprised when they -- they take money that goes on and no person holding any office of profit or trust under them shall, without the consent of the congress, accept of any present, emoll ument, officer title of any time whatever, from any king, prince, or foreign state and i have to sit here from front of my tv and listen to people spinning beaut, gee, what do you think, maybe this, why dent he do that? you know what? we should prosecute those that commit crimes. their crimes get people killed. that iraq war, oh, yeah, we're helping them? then we wonder why we have terrorists over here. after we kill, what, million people? we're not going to trust iran after that coup in '53? all that we got -- and does that ever get our textbooks? no. >> host: all right, cathy, thank
you, david corn. >> guest: there's a lot to unpack in that but i appreciate and respect her frustration, because i do think there's a lot of anger out there that is justified. they look at washington and the don't see washington addressing key issues and they do see paul particularses -- politics on both sides of the aisle, taking money from corporate interests and people in washington would have you believe that washington is the only place in the entire world that if someone gives you money you don't feel obligated to them. that doesn't affect me whatsoever. and it is the -- our campaign finance system is the biggest denial of human nature that i can think of in my short time on the world here. it is -- so, i think everybody who engages in that system puts
themselves at risk of being challenged by a caller like this. how do we know where your true loyalties lie? are they to the people who vote for you, the american public and be public interests or to people who basically give you money so you can keep your job? that's a problem for democrats and a problem for republicans. now, democrats by and large support doing something about this. not all of them do. they support doesn't always go far enough. but mitch mcconnell one are his goals have gone prevent any real campaign finance reform so that is a fundamental issue that we have to come to terms with and mentioning the emoll uments clause, fits into that because that club basically says that a president cannot take gifts from foreign officials or entities. now, that -- trump has been doing this throughout the
presidency. if foreign states, foreign governments -- i noted earlier in the show -- are buying up blocks of rooms in his hotels and properties, and he owns the company. he owns trump organization. so the saudi prince spendings $9 million on a property in new york, buying room hes he doesn't stay in that money is part of trump's income stream and he has not taken the steps necessary to separate himself from that and make that not a problem. there's also a problem with conflict of interest with ivanka and with jared as well, a separate matter and there's a lawsuit that has been moving ahead, and has gone pretty far, that the group called crew has filed on -- against trump on emoll uments, and -- again, we talk but the different scandals out there and how there are so many that it's hard to focus on any, but jimmy cards' peanut fam
took in now prom the saudis to buy land, he you can bet congress would be all over it. >> host: karen e-mails in how much new material will be in the april paperback edition of russian roulette. >> guest: there's nothing set in stone about the paper back edition will come out. so mike and i have not really finished writing what will be new in the paperback edition. so i can just say, stay tuned. but we will be bringing the book up to speed on what we learned since the book came out, and -- >> host: will that be in april. no it's not -- this schedule has not been set. >> host: margaret tweets in: what is your next topic or focus for investigative reporting in book form?
>> guest: if you look at the books and the dates in which they came out, the years in which -- >> host: 1812, 6-3. >> guest: there's a pattern there. i would say give me some time. it was a great -- it was -- as i said, kind of painful to write but releasing the book and the reaction it to was very rewarding and gratifying, and so i would happily do another, but right now, kind of looking to see what the next book should be and whether there -- should be a particular followup to this or not. the story now is still unsettled and we don't know also when it will be settled, and without that it's unclear to what degree there will be the opportunity for a book followup. books are very -- they're very
special item. there's so much you can get done with news stores and with magazine pieces and people who follow the news get so much information about subjects like these that they get for free or get from reading daily papers or work i do at mother jones and that mike does at yahoo, news, that get people to sit down, get awful the twitter wheel and spend time with a book, i think you have to have something special. >> host: back on the twitter wheel, from this morning, the president's tweet. >> guest: okay. >> host: how do you impeach a president who has won perhaps the greatest election of all-time, done nothing wrong no collusion with russia, it was the dems that included. had the most successful first two years of any president, and is the most popular republican in party history, 93%.
>> guest: i mean, this is an everyday occurrence. the president tweets something that, if any other person said this, you would say they were deluded. these are delusions, done nothing wrong. i mean, there are dozens of things that deserve investigation, things he has done wrong and i went through that relation -- some of them in relation to the trump-russia scandal. and he -- i mean, we have to take notice to tweets like these and at the same time they deserve a collective shrug. he is out there saying and tweeting things constantly that are just not true. the other day, every president -- every living president told me they wish they'd built the wall. he said that. so, what happens? media reporters, doing their
job, contact every living president, and they say, never talked to him about the wall. okay. outright lies. there's a path tholing here, and if you talk but trump -- pathology here and if you talk but trump as a narcissist, a pallingologial liar it sound hyperpartisan and he hides behind that. all critics of him are loser, mattis is a loser, bad general, a guy who hi priced now because he emimplicitly criticize trump. everybody he hires this best and everybody he fires is the worst and he is the grandest. it's -- to me, that's sad. the sad thing to me is that doesn't turn off a third of the
public. whatever his base is, 35% to they sent that's. they accept him calling people on the other side losers. they accept his meanness. they accept him shouting do -- encouraging people to shout "lock her up." acting like we're a banana republic and we lock up political opponentes. a man without an ounce of grace, and without any honesty. and i don't know how future historians will deal with this and deal with the american publication's reaction to them and with the republican party's embrace. he's right. he has very high approval ratings amongst republican but not amongst anybody else. who i think see some of his traits. i mean, again, whether it's the access hollywood tape, the scores of misogynistic remarks
he made before and after becoming president, racist remarks, calling american judge a mexican and that's why he is ruling against me. when trump university -- again, we forgot about that. there's a scandal. trump foundation. there's a scandal. all these things would bring down any other politician justifiably. you run a foundation, break the law, you shouldn't be a elected president. shouldn't be elected dog catcher. and the foundation is rotten. they spend money on his own portrait? to hang up in one of his own country clubs? again, if jimmy carter had done that, bill clinton had done that, but -- so, i don't know. at some point i would say i'm at a loss for worths about i just ranted for a long time. >> host: alert hear from marie in new york city. >> host: are you with us?
marie, apologize, reminder, if you get through on the phone lines, turn down the volume. there's little deal lay and you'll hear everything through the phone, i promise. carol, greensburg, pennsylvania. hi, carol. >> caller: hello. i want to know what else you're reading that is not political? although it may have political overtones. what are you able to do in writing about other things other than political? because so much of what you're doing is political, but there's a whole world of people out there hurting, and just like to know a little bit more about what your reading and writing other than the subjects we're talking about today. >> host: you are political journalist and political author. >> guest: right. but i do like to read about other things in familiar i found in the last two years to -- as
and -- neck dote to the craziness -- anecdote to the -- crazyiness, at 10:00 at night, turn off all screens. so i look at my twitter feed, i look at my e-mail, see if anything is breaking, check miss messages and my internal mother jones chat, and then i say, okay, turn it off. and then i try to dish do some exercising and often read, and i have found that the way i can get to sleep best is not by reading anything about what is happening now that is directly related to my day-to-day job. whether it's mother jones or writing the book. so, i've been reading a lot of history, i read a great book -- sort of an historical book,
earth in human hand like a history of the plane and it's the author is a wonderful astro biologist, one awards and it was just really thinking but big picture stuff rather -- but also i read ron turnow's book on grant which was fabulous and made me think but the 1850s where things were very, very divisive in this country, and in thes of the day we failed, we failed. we ended up with a civil war and hundreds of thousands of people -- >> are you suggesting parallels. >> guest: not sharing we'llened up in the same place but it's like, okay, that was very divisive time and we could not figure out how to get out oft it collectively without a tremendous spasm of violence. but so -- put turnow's book on grants fabulous, and i don't say
it's better than he hamilton book bus grant is more interesting than hamilton. hamilton -- he had is a sex scandal but grant was basically a bum. living like hobo at one point in his life in san francisco in a flop house and didn't have a dollar to pay for that night's room and had to good to a veteran's office and ask for a buck. and he becomes this great general and a president of the united states. it's a great story and it's also -- so the trend of ugliness in the politics before the war and what happens in reconstruction after the war. the racial violence in the south, the klan. i kind of new about this but i was shocked. one racial massacre after another with white folks after the war trying to keep black people from voting, to maintain
power in the south. it is horrendous, and in some -- then i'm reading now these truths by jill la pore, which is a great history of america from columbus to the present and i read this last. >> the confederacy lost the war but won the peace because of the amount of racial violence and the power of slave-holding, formerly slave-holding whites in the south remained formed through violence in that period of time. currently we don't know enough about that. and then also, for -- i read stephen hawking's last book, unfortunately, paced away. brief answers to big questions, and i got to admit, i don't get all of it. i can't follow all of it but times bows time, space, the universe, where its came from, where it's going, whether there's a god or not, the nature
of time, i get a lot of it and i just like think income those terms. you talk about perspective. you talk about the size of the universe and how big and where we are in comparison to that, and then where we are on the planet in comparison to that. it really puts a lot of your day-to-day problems in stark relief when you think about that. he's just a such a stunning story of courage, that he can write any of the books is great. then i like to read novels as well. the last one i read, finished a couple weeks but was war light, the author is best known for writing "the english patient" and a marvelous writer burt when you and i, peter, were at the miami book fair a couple -- two months ago, he was there, and i
was lucky enough to meet him and have lunch with him. and that was, like -- i was -- >> host: like fan boy. >> guest: so fan boy and i attended the talk that he gave, and i have some real questions about the book but they all involved spoiling it, and parts of it. givingway parts of the book and it's a marv rouse story but two adolescents at the end of world war ii who are abandoned by their parents and are being watched over by folks who only have one foot on the right side of the law and have the -- greyhound smuggling and all sorts of gambling, and it ends with a pretty major twist involving a very well-known active war crimes in world war ii. but anyway issue had all these questions and i ran into him in author roz lounge and assaulted him and he said let's eat.
and he was delightful and great, and there's nothing like meeting someone whose work you really, really enjoy and has meant a lot to you and then who turns out to be a swell person. that's not always the case. but he was. >> host: charlie, new york, thank you for holding. you're on with david corn. >> caller: how are you doing? you got me with shaving cream on my face but that's okay. with i ask my questions like to make a comment. i'm an independent progressive which means i'm against vanity politics. think this is us causing us to -- identity politics is the -- i'm against black national women or women's like. believe any equality for all but against these things and i think all progressives indiana to speak out against this. if you let me get me glasses on -- can die that? >> host: sure go ahead. >> caller: now, there's two
things that i want to bring out. in the 1980s i noticed the corporate takeover of the democratic and republicans parties. i don't see anybody talking about that. that was important because that got rid of the fairness dock christian. i was involved in politics in the 70s and i remember how more balanced things were. things were not perfect but a lot more balanced and when they got rid of that in the late 80s, the fairness doctrine, they went off the cliffs. >> host: all right. we got the fairness doctrine and quickly what else doo did you want to ask. >> the corporation of democratic and republican parties. >> thank you for calling. you can go back to shaving. david corn. >> guest: first i want to give charlie a recommendation. he should go see the movie "vice." by adam mckay, which i i've seen. and i did an interview with adam
which will be coming out these week in mother jones, because it mentioned the fairness doctrine. which is viewers don't know, was a regulation, basically, for tv stations that if you covered one side of an issue, you had to give the other side basically equal time. this covered broadcast stations as they are regulated in a way different than what cable is now. and during the reagan years, the reagan administration got rid of that, and that allowed particularly radio stations to have, let's say, rush limbaugh or conservative talker on all day long and not have anything on the other side. did the same with local tv stations, like sinclair, which has a lot of local stations and is using them to promote a
conservative political position, would under the old rule not be able to do that so easily. so, that's what he is talking about. cable would not be regulated the same way so fox could still be fox and msnbc codicil be msnbc but that was something that conservatives and republicans targeted in the reagan years in order to not have to -- to have a more powerful voice for the public. >> host: to be fair, wasn't there reasoning, okay, you have the big three cbs, nbc, and abc, all reporting the same thing, all liberal, our message isn't getting out. >> guest: that's what the said but i think you can make -- citing that the coining them liberal was always a miss nomer and bill crystal has acknowledged that was something that they -- was devised as a pr thing to rally the conservative republican base, and nixon did that when he was -- the
"washington post" was liberal and going after him, not because he was crook. this was a phony conservative argument for many years. so, it's unclear how a restoration of the fairness doctrine would work in today's media landscape, and we do seem to have a lot of voices out there, so you can find information where you want to find its. i mean, i don't know -- not going to get -- even fox does have a few liberal people on. i used to do stuff at fox myself. and it's -- i don't think it's -- you're going to really win people over by getting a few more liberal voices on fox, and conservatives might say the same thing about msnbc. i don't think the two are truly equivalent. but goes back again to what we
talk about earlier but corporations and influence. if corporations influence often with media entitieses when you see the owns over sinclair, having a very, very obvious political strategy out there, trying to get their local stations to reflect their national conservative perspective, and you don't have anything like that on the liberal side. no major media operation that says we have to do something liking this but the bigger impact, a lot of corporations, corporate interests, private interests, spending money in politics. and we have seen that certain politicians, mainly democrats, but trump has done this now, too -- who connect with the public or able to raise a lot of money from small donations and don't necessarily have to rely
on big corporate donations but we saw trump doing both. taking donations from wealthy individuals and corporations and you look at something -- another scandal, and the trump inauguration fund, raise over $100 million, from all sorts of folks, people who have connections with russian oligarchs don't have though us how they spend the money and now under investigation. i think we talk about the big money problem and corporations having undo influence or outsized influence in our politics, and that caller sound like a bernie person, something that bernie sanders made a centerpiece of his campaign and i presume will do it again if he runs again. >> so what it your. >> host: what is you view of billionaires on all sides, george sorrows koch brothers,
tom steir, michael bloomberg, getting involved with their money in politics in a pick way. >> guest: i wish it wasn't necessary in a lot of ways. i wish we could have a system where it was idea driven and there are other nations and other campaign finance reforms where people who run for office would be publicly funded. you pay a dollar or two on your taxes, and people run for office and -- you can set up bench marks am major party and get the party's nomination and are you show x number of points in the polls or raise x amount of money yourself, but only from small donations to show you're a credible candidate. then you get public support and don't have to go to billionaires anymore. now think still probably be able to mount influence campaigns,
third-party issue campaigns, put on ad like that in which case you need tremendous transparency, and add -- we need to cut taxes. this ad was paid for, but in a very slow voice, by a very big billionaire who doesn't like to pay taxes. something like that. i think you can find ways to make it work. you never going to get money totally out of politics but minimizing the advantage that one can get from having a lot of money or decreasing that advantage has to be a goal. >> host: jim in kelly, california, thank you for hold; go ahead. >> caller: thank you for taking my call and thank you, mr. corn, for this. it's been great. my question is -- i've been studying politics since the late 50s when i got involved in the nixon campaign in of 60 as a very young teenager but i was really big for nixon.
at any rate, what happened to the left? specially the last 10-20 years. the tea party and the occupy movement came up at the same time, the tea party had a big peeping 'the occupy movement died. obama came in, in '08, with huge margins and its just died ever since. i really don't think we can blame the conservative media -- why can't the liberals have people like rush limbaugh? where are they? do they exist? and why can't they be bank-rolled. >> host: go ahead and finishing, jim, and then we'll get an answer. >> caller: hear your answer. well, used the bank role there, which is very interesting. over compare the tea party to the "occupy" movement that -- n that were both around at the same time and one took old and elects -- affected the election
and one didn't. the big reason is money. the tea party, were coach brothers and others, rushed in and gave money to various tea party groups and used them -- used the tea party as a wedge against democrats and progressive-mined people in washington. they were against washington. they were against obamacare, they -- and so the koch brothers and others funds these groups to help get republicans into office who would hold the line on taxes who would be in favor of deregulation. getting government out of things. that was the instance where moneyed interests and republican leaders themselves, saw this group as a way to help them gain more seats, basically, and embrace them, absorb them and funded them. the "occupy" movement, was not
seen that way by democrats and certainly no billion -- few billionaires rushing in to support the "occupy" movement. the truth of the matter is that if you're going to challenge the prerogatives of wall street, and of corporate influence in america, you're not going to get a lot of support from wall street and the corporate class. so there's a little bit of a asymmetry here. so, you do, you have democrats who often kind of straddle the fence between having a progressive populist mindset and also wanting to be pro business, because they believe that and in part because they believe they need that money for themselves or the party. so, the republican side is very -- more well-defined in a self-defines way than the
democratic side which always had this internal tension between a business wing and anti-wall street wing. and so that makes it i think harder. that's one explanation there. and i do think obama came in with a lot of support but you did have republicans with the filibuster in the senate do every they can to thwart him and our system allowed for that to happen. there was a democratic house the first you're or two and passed obamacare and got it through in the senate, but obama really -- i mean, again, obama critics are not going to accept it. but it is a fact that when it came to his two biggest moves, i think, when he became president, the stimulus package and healthcare reform, he reached
out mightily to republicans in the senate to try to come up with a plan that would have some republican support and hecourted them, talked to them, whether it was grassley and olympia snow, republicans in the senate, he -- on the stimulus electric aid a tax cut which is not the way that most democrats wanted to do stimulus because he wanted republican support, and all he got was no, no, no, and its now been widely reported that the opening days of the obama administrations, republicans got together and said we're not going do give him anything. very hard in our system, even if you come in with the majority as a president to make things happen. and. >> host: those are things that david corn talking both in his 2011 book, showdown, obama, despite the public perception that he was a cautious seeker of consensus, was a risk taker. >> guest: well, in a different way. i mean he was not a risk taker
in the way that the progressive wing of the democratic part wantment him to be hitch was willing to take risks in a kind of a political way. after the 2010 election, when the republicans gained back the house, said obama has presidency is over, there were tax cuts that were expiring from the bush tax cut bill. and obama wanted the extend the ones that applied to middle and low income americans but ran against the bush tax cuts for the rich and that was a democratic article of faith to oppose them. the wanted to extend the low-income tax cuts and not the wealthy people, and republicans had a filibuster they could use in the senate and they refused to do that. they kept saying we need to extend all the tax cuts, including those for the wealthy,
and democrats were basically urging obama to let them all expire. so that all the tax cuts would go away and then come back and just fight for the -- to restore the low-income one even though the house republicans had just taken control of the house and made its much more difficult knowledge what he did at the en -- not very recognized at the time -- was he putting to a package, negotiating with mitch mcconnell where he added a lot more middle class low income tax cuts in addition to the ones expiring that would create a ministimulus bill and allowed the bush tax cut for the wealthy to continue. and that was a risk on his part because it was hard to see progressives for democrats to see the benefit of the full package and we couldn't tack about it as a new stimulus because that would have killed the deal. it was like a secret stimulus backage. that was the risk the took and i remember, i remember hearing
about the package and the details, and i was on -- i think i was on npr and i believe i was on with sra cline and we came on throw show think can obama had not got an good deal, it was cave-in. then on the show itself, we started looking at the details and what he got, this tax break, that tax break, earned income tax credit and we kind of like, on air, turned a little bit. wait a second. if you do the numbers, he got like five timed, four times as much tax relief for the poor and the middle clag americans than the wealthy and he may have snookered mitch mcconnell here. so, then the only way he do coo do that was not talking about it in that term. so that was sort of risk he was willing to take.
take the blows from his own side to do what he thought was right from a policy perspective. >> host: lorinda, e-mail, do you have any political aspirations or are you content in your role as a investigative journalist? >> guest: well, you know, they all say -- i'm not going to say never, never exploratory committee. no plans at this anyone time to run for anything. no, no, no. >> host: have you thought about it. >> only in the wake necessary has. i've never been drawn to that. i'm not pat buchanan. her did pretty well running for president. do think, those, its would be interesting -- not saying about a presidential run -- if reporters, if journalists, investigators, peopling with that mindset, actually trade in politics and ran local office,
that would be probably interesting to see what someone like that would do in office. i'm really glad -- if you look at the new democrats who are coming in, a group of people -- just amazing in terms of diversity and -- but also diversity and background. a lot less just straight lawyers and people who have just been career politicians. i don't use that in a pejorative way. we have a lot of career politicians who do great stuff. so, i mean, having a congress -- we talk about having a congress that looks like america, and the democrats working on that a lot more than the republics but looking like america in terms of your professional experience. you're going to run for something, peter? >> host: you know, i think you probably agree with this. really come to the conclusion, i
don't envoys opinions but it takes a lot of courage to put yourself in the ring regardless of position or regardless of how you feel philosophy. takes a lot to put yourself out there. >> guest: you need a tremendously thick skin the work us hard. we can yell but congress not doing this or that but the day-to-day task of bag congress person or senator is hard. in part pause of the money raising because the spend so much time doing that a lot of them hate to do but just the scheduling, and the -- they're so many complicatessed issues out there and to be caught up on them. i'm very frustratessed when i go to hearings and watch hearings on c-span and you see, like, these members -- mark surgery,
on facebook i can send someone a message? it's like, okay, maybe if we had something who had a career in cyber something or media, they might get to the point quicker and better. so, it is a hard to do and you have to take a risk to do it. and if you lose, it doesn't help your career. that's for damn sure often. so, i don't know but i would -- i like the idea of having people's house with people in it. >> host: help to us understand washington, mr. corn. are you -- do you know pat buchanan. >> guest: yeah. >> host: would you consider him a friend. >> guest: no, no, no. i'm friendly with pat. pat did a radio show years ago buchanan and friends, three hours, but it was like cross-fire, each hour being a different subject and there
would be pat is the conservative and then he would have a liberal cohost which would change and then a lib rat guest and a conservative guest on the given issue and i was one of the rotating co-hosts with pat, and so we would fence a little bit and i would grill the conservative and he would grill the liberal and i've always said this. the thought pat was easy, fun to work with, he was joyful in his political boxing skills. he really liked a good fight. he liked a strong opponent. didn't want to -- make it easier for himself. so i always -- i agree with him on positions? no, i didn't agree with him on positions. there was issues had been raised about whether he was an anti-semite or engaged in antisemitism, and personally i didn't sense there was any
animus towards anybody because of their religion, creed, color, brown, whatever, but i actually wrote one or two pieces which i try to understand the accusations antisemitism again him and i just came to the belief he was a tribalist. he felt that his tribe, working class, white, catholics, was at war or -- competedded with other tribes and that life in the world was a zero sum game and one group got ahead at the expense of another and if you want to call that anti-antisemitism or racism, you, but that is how i saw him. i got along with pat. and i've gotten along with a lot of conservativeses. that was all. but some who i've work with on shows and so on. i find now, the culture overwears has changed. and used to be a -- the divides used to be more republican,
democrat, conservative and liberal and now trump has maded rational-irrational, trump or anti-trump, and so i find myself having a jolly old time with peoplely charlie sykes and max boot and jenner ruben and bill crystal, michael steele, all republican conservatives who have moved away from the republican party because of trump and i do think, in our political culture, that's become the dividing line now, less so conservative liberal. it's an interesting shift and i don't know if it holds beyond the trump years, what does it mean? >> host: we have one our left in our conversation with author david corn. he mentioned that he was at the miami book fair. he and his co-author on russian rue lawsuit were done there and
we want to show you a little bit of their talk. this is mostly michael and then we'll be back live again. >> obviously we are on pins and needles to see how the robert mueller investigation is go to reach its grand conclusion. there are a lot of signs throughout about some indictments to come, perhaps imminent, of a few other characters who we talk about in the book, and then there's the question of will he have a report that will see about everything the has found. ...
>> just, just, i just want to talk about, you know, the events over the last week, because i think they are so illustrative. you know, we can't tell you whether mueller is going to find the smoking gun, the conclusive e-mail or intercept that will show donald trump or somebody in his campaign was actively communicating or coordinating with the russians during the 2016 election. but whenever you have questions about that, you know, nobody fuels the story and gives it further legs better than donald trump himself. [laughter] and, you know go back to last weekend in paris, the 100th
anniversary ceremony commemorating the armistice that ended world war i. you know, a very somber ceremony. i don't know how many of you watched it, you know? and there's trump the, you know, glumly sitting there being lectured to by macron about patriotism and nationalism, and, you know, looking very out of sorts through the whole thing. and then suddenly his eyes light up, and he breaks out into a spontaneous smile. something you almost never see with donald trump. and why? there's vladimir putin, looking at him just a couple of seats away. [laughter] and putin gives him the thumb's up. i mean, you know, we've all of scratched our head trying to understand this strange, weird relationship between the president of the united states
and the president of the russian federation, why he's the one guy trump seems to be so fond of, so protective of, so friendly with. he could denounce, you know, justin trudeau in canada, that great threat to american, american sovereignty, be -- but, you know, he's always there to stand by vladimir putin. we've got, we go into a lot about the trump/putin relationship in the book. but, i mean, it is, it is behavior like that that just, you know, spontaneous smile at the sight of vladimir putin, that raises so many questions about what's going on here. of and i'll just cap it with just the other day after trump had to sit through hours of preparations with his lawyers for answering robert mueller's questions, you know, something that, you know, clearly enrages
him and causes him to go on this tweet storm once again denouncing mueller, the witch hunt, the angry democrats, it was all a set-up, why weren't they investigating hillary clinton. and right in the middle of that he throws in a line, why didn't the fbi get the dnc server. and, you know, for those of you who follow this closely, there's only one reason to throw that in there, and that is to somehow raise doubt about whether the russians did this at all. and this comes after, you know, not just the unanimous findings of the u.s. intelligence community that the russians hacked the dnc, the russians gave the e-mails to wikileaks, the russians engaged in this disinformation campaign, the russians exploited american social media, they did it all. but also the unbelievable indictment that mueller brought
last summer against identifiable russian military intelligence agents that laid out chapter and verse who did it, how they did it, you know, the actual quotes from the intercepted e-mails of the russians communicating with each other and with wikileaks, delivering the stolen dnc e-mails to julian assange at wikileaks on july 14, 2016, barely a week before wikileaks dumps it on the eve of the convention. and yet there's donald trump, who's been briefed on this multiple times, laying all the evidence out clinging to this idea that somehow it was that proverbial 400-pound guy in the living room on his sofa who's responsible for the whole thing. what trump aided and abetted was a federal crime. mueller has brought, you know, a indictment of identifiable
people for violating federal law, the russian military intelligence agents, who stole those dnc e-mails. by the withdraw, a massively larger theft than the watergate burglars who stole from the dnc in 1972. it was a theft of internal documents and then used for political effect. but i want to switch conversation -- the conversation a little bit to the u.s. government here and its response, because i think we document in the book that this was, while all this was going on, everything that david talked about, there was a really major as well as failure by the u.s. government comparable in many ways to the intelligence failure that led up to the events of 9/11 and a major policy failure by the obama administration if as well in its response.
but let's talk about the intelligence failure to begin with. as we talk about in the book, there were multiple warnings that the u.s. intelligence community had about what the russians were up to. we talk about, write about a secret source inside the kremlin in 2014 who was laying it all out to a u.s. government official about what putin was up to, about the plans that russian intelligence had to destabilize western democracies including the unite, cyber attacks -- the united states, cyber attacks, disinformation propaganda. all of that was being communicated, you know, this secret source was telling the u.s. government you don't understand what's going on here. there is something very big, there is something very major that is being planned. and all this was being
communicated back to washington to southeastern government officials who -- senior government officials who, frankly, really weren't paying sufficient attention. >> host: and that was david corn's co-author, michael isikoff. he's co-written two books with mr. corn, russian roulette and hubris. mr. corn, who is ted shackly, and why was he worthy of a book? >> guest: ted shackley was the subject of my first book, called "blond ghost." he was a cia officer who had been in the cia for 30 years, and i -- it was a biography of him and sort of in some ways a biography of the cia because he had been involved in so many of the most consequential cia actions. a lot of them included failures, but he was involved in spying in berlin in the '50s, involved with the cia's operation against fidel castro in cuba in the '60.
he was in charge of the miami station for the cia that led that fight. he then was in charge of the secret war in laos during the vietnam war when the cia put together, basically, its own army there of indigenous people to fight in the war without telling anybody. and things did not end up well for the indigenous tribes people who were part of that. then he was a cia station chief in vietnam, and, you know, you could argue had a hand in our ultimate failure there. and then he was in charge of the east asia division, in charge of the western hemisphere division and was rising up the ranks and got to be the number two in the operations direct rate, the operation that does all the secret warfare, and then he got caught in the iran contra scandal involved with a guy who
was an arms dealer at wolfson. and that kind of ended his cia career. so in a lot of ways, i thought the arc of his career was the arc of the cia throughout much of the cold war. and there are a lot of good spy stories, a lot of good, you know, stories that many, some end up being tragic, but show that -- i think unfortunately for a lot of the cia's cold war activity, particularly when it came to espionage, getting intelligence -- it had a really tough time, a bad record getting stuff on the soviet bloc in the '50s, you know? getting information and acting on it against cuba. getting information on vietnam. these are areas where the cia really fell short, you know, and areas in which it often did things that, you know, were of questionable ethics and reelty.
but anyway -- and legality. anyway, he was a fascinating character, and it took me five years to do that book. that was a very, very hard project. it was my first book, and i had no idea what i was getting into. >> host: did he talk to you? >> guest: not for years. i mean, i notified -- i contacted him when i started writing the book, and every six months i sent -- i called, i sent a letter asking if i could sit down and talk to him, and he just refused, refused, refused. at some point i got a message from his daughter. his daughter wanted to meet me. and why did she want to meet me? because she did not know much about her father's past. by that, i don't mean his cia past. she knew he worked for the cia, but his family past. i had done all this research, and i'd tracked the family back,
and he had a weird upbringing in which his mom had worked as a hostess at a, you know, in a new york city restaurant and met a very wealthy man and moved down to palm beach with him. and for some time her mother, who basically only spoke polish, ted shackley's grandmother, took care of him. so i tracked all this down, and i knew more about his family past than she did. she knew a few things, i knew a few other things, and we kind of, like, put our notes together and came up with the best story that we could -- that i could find about his upbringing. but in any event, after -- you know, after a few years he finally relented. and under very, very stringent circumstances, he a agreed to talk to me. i had to present questions in advance, and he wanted it recorded, but he wanted somebody -- he didn't want me to
walk away with a recording of it myself. so we had to find a mutual party who would hold onto the tape. and i was told by people who knew him that for all those years i was writing the book, he didn't believe i was working on a book. he believed i was part of some operation to get him. this was some other motivator, something going on. he didn't quite know what it was, and i was a journalist. i was an established journalist. i had written -- i was washington editor for the nation magazine. i'd written lots of articles. no books, lots of articles. i'd been on c-span. i was publicly known to be a journalist. yet he still believed there was something else going on, and he couldn't figure out what it was. finally after four years or so, he a agreed to see me. and he was -- i think fair to say, he's gone now, he was not a very self-reflective person. it was very hard for me to get him to give expansive answers,
like explain his motivations why he did everything. he was very much by the book and by the official account. so to me, it was great to spend two hours with him having spent four years researching him, but i didn't really get much off the him, material to use, and i couldn't really get him to reflect on the failures or successes of the cia writ large and his own career. >> host: if somebody picked up "blond ghost" today, what would they get? american history? a personal history? >> guest: well, or yeah. i think, you know, we don't know much about the people who live these lives. i mean, what he did, he did in our name. cia acts in the name of the u.s. citizen. and i think you'd with end up getting a picture of the type of person who lives that life, but you also would get a history of
the dark side of the cold war. you know, they sent -- he was responsible for recruiting agents to go behind the iron curtain to east germany and poland and czechoslovakia. he was part of a big cia program to do that. they almost all got rounded up, they almost all got killed. john mccar ray has written some novels that have predicated those operations. and we don't really know much about that. we don't know much about the people who went or the people who sent them. you learn about that, you learn about the real truth of what happened with the cia in cuba and how that might even have a connection with the assassination of john f. kennedy. so there's a lot of, i think, seminal episodes that this man, ted shackley, was directly involved in on the secret side. so i'm very proud of the book. i think it reads like real life
lecarre, which is my goal, and i think it still stands up as a good read today. >> host: when did you decide to write a novel? >> guest: well, that's a good question, when? i mean, i don't remember the moment it happened. i mean, i've always wanted to write novels, and i've always enjoyed fiction, and i've written short stories as well. i grew up loving novels, so i thought always in the back of my mind i had an idea to do it. and after spending, you know, basically five years on "blond ghost," which was really -- this was pre-internet. it would take me months and months just to locate sources, people who worked in the cia with ted shackley who would talk to me. i spent hours talking on the telephone talking to someone who might know someone who might if
know someone and then taking a year to get them to talk to me. i had a lot of lunches with ex-cia guys who liked to drink a lot of beer in the middle of the day. and i would find addresses, i would knock on people's doors and just show up. try to talk to them. so it was a lot of painstaking work to locate people and get them to talk. and a lot of that history is, some of it has been declassified since then. but getting documents was really difficult. finish the legendary psi hefer, helped me at some tock -- at some point with some documents he had gotten. my guess -- [laughter] because i don't remember, my guess is after that experience the idea of sitting home alone in my apartment and making stuff up was rather appealing.
[laughter] >> host: do you see more novels in the future? >> guest: i have a lot many me that i've thought about, you know? i haven't really sat down to write any yet. so it's conceivable, it's possible. viewers might be interested to know that in general the nonfiction market is more profitable in a lot of ways than fiction. unless you're really top seller, a household name. so i've had two kids who are, you know, going to be in college next year. i still need to think about authoring as somewhat of a potential enterprise for me. but i would love to write more fiction. >> host: well, we always ask our guests what their favorite books are, and and the first three that you list are all novels. all the king's men, "the great gatsby" and the by thomas pin champion. >> i don't know if there's any significance that they put the
fiction first, but, i mean, i assume a lot of people who watch booktv have read "the great gatsby". but i would, i mean, all the king's men still is, to me, is perhaps the great american novel. it is about politics, it's about a huey long figure, but it's really more about human nature and making hard decisions with secrets of the past. i mean, tremendously great themes. a lot of themes that fitzgerald did more obviously in "the great gatsby", but all the king's men has a tremendous epic and gothic sweep to it. so, i mean, i haven't read it in years, but i did read it -- you know, i've read it several times. and that's, you know, if i meet a young person who says, like, what book should i read i've never read, that's always on the top of my list.
>> host: the next three, nonfiction. the power broker, robert caro. bright shining lie, and lawrence in arabia. >> guest: it was really hard. your producer said what are your favorite books, you know? and i have a lot. i also said anything by lecarre, anything by graham greene, anything by william kennedy who wrote a great book called rosco, and anything by gayle doctorow. there are authors who i love, and to me it's always tragic that several of them now are gone, and we will never get another graham greene book, we'll never get another book by a good doctorow. but i mean for the three nonfiction, i'm sure i'm leaving things out. i thought about it hard. the power broker is a long book by a guy named robert moses who was, who ran the port of, you
know, what is it, an authority. not a state government, not an hecht elected official, but an authority in new york city and was in charge of bridges, tunnels, highways. sounds kind of mundane. but he got all the money from the tolls, and he got to decide where the highways and parkways would go. and some are beautiful and others totally destroyed neighborhoods, and he was really a dictator in a way in shaping what new york city -- manhattan but also the boroughs -- came to look like in the 40s, 50s, '60s, '70s. he did it for a long time. and it's, you know, by robert caro who's one of the best and most obsessive biographers out there, still working on his lyndon johnson books. and it's a great story about power, about an oversized personality. a lot of people, you know, millions of new yorkers and others were affected by him
without knowing about his existence. and in the end, you know, there was a lot of scandal and corruption that was exposed by a bunch of young reporters who came together from all the new york papers, the times, the daily news, long island newsday, who started looking at him. and in a quasi-collaborative way -- because they also competed -- they ended up exposing him and kind of bringing him down. it's a -- and the storytelling in the book is great. it's just the model for, you know, any journalist who wants to do nonfiction writing. ing even more so than all the president's men by woodward and bernstein which is a great book. it's about one thing and it's about, you know, how they pursued a story. great book, great movie. but "the power broker" shows you what nonfiction journalism should really aspire to. and "bright, shining eye" by
neil sheehan does the same thing in vietnam. it follows one guy, john paul vance, vanishing who had advisory role there. had a -- i won't give much away, but extremely interesting and somewhat dark personal life. and he tells neil sheehan, who covered the war for "the new york times" and broke the story the pentagon papers, he's referenced in the recent movie "the post," just does a great job of showing how personal decisions and individual decisions, you know, affected the course of this tragic war in vietnam if that took the lives of so many americans and so many vietnamese and laotians and others. and the last, "lawrence in arabia." not lawrence of arabia. i think this is a quince department. it's one of my favorite movies, and if any of you haven't seen
it, you've got to watch it. but nevertheless, it's about a real character, lawrence, who was a british military officer who was sent to organize arab armies against the turks in world war i. and lawrence in arabia, the book by scott anderson, is about the real life lawrence but also about five or six other operatives, spies who were in the middle east at that time as they all were jockeying to draw the lines and form a alliances. and it shows how their actions basically gave us the modern arab world, you know, in terms of geopolitical boundaries and borders and how things got so
screwed up from there. but it's sort of a, there's a lot of skullduggery. there's, like, a math that harry character, and it's really like, oh, my god, you know, a dozen people all from various interests, german interests, turkish interests, zionist interests, british interests all kind of like in the same world interacting with each other, sometimes like meeting. all of a sudden they'll meet in cairo, look at each other warily, like, i know what you're doing here. and it's like casablanca writ large in a real world. and the book -- it is just a fabulous read, one of my favorite nonfiction reads of the last couple years. but i am sure i'm leaving out a fair many books there. >> host: well, or we've got some more, and we'll show those as we go, but i've talked enough, and i want to get the callers in
here. joanna, damascus, maryland, you're on with author david corn. >> caller: hi, david. >> guest: hi. >> caller: i would really like to hear you discuss something that i think is the paramount issue of our time, and that is the rapid rise of nationalism and autocrats here in the united states and throughout the world. this issue, nationalism is what was the key impetus for both world wars, and i have to tell you it absolutely terrifies me. >> guest: well, i assure you -- i would use the word tribalism even more than nationalism. i think our inability to, you know, make bridges with people who are different than we are and connect and see a wider view is a true impediment to dealing with some of the very real problems that we face in america and that we face in the world. and i do think that, you know, biological -- evolutionary biologists and other scientists
would tell you that part of our brain is programmed to, you know, see like as like, you know? people look like you, people who think like you, people who maybe share the same religion, and to cluster and collect into groups like that. and there's power to that. we had to do it, obviously, for our survival puns upon a -- once upon a time, and you can maximize your own ability if you join together with a group of people who share values. the dark side, of course, is that you then look at others as others and not be able to join with other groups in pursuit of joint targets and goals. and that has long been exploited here. we've had demagogues in american history. you know, i mentioned huey long earlier with, but there are demagogues of the right and the left, you know? you had someone like george wallace, you had racists who led, you know, white people to kill black people in the south
after the civil war. i talked about that earlier as well. so there is a strong impulse for people to move in that direction and people exploit it. they do it for their own, you know, their own political ambitions, sometimes to make money. and it's really tough to figure out what to do. we see this with trump fanning this immigration, the immigration issue into a crisis. it's not a crisis. it's, you know, it can be a problem. there are things to work out there. it's not threatening our nation the way he says it is. it makes it very hard to have a reasonable conversation about what we should do about border security and about undocumented people who live and work among us here in the united states. and, you know, you say this is the most important issue. in a way you're right because one of the most pressing issues we have now, of course, is climate change. and i've been talking -- i've
been working on a project and talking to some scientists recently, and, you know, it's very hard not to get depressed about it. the problem is so big, the possible consequences are so enormous, and they will lead to other problems. you know, droughts, populations shifting, economic tribulations that may be like conflicts we have not seen in human history. and yet the only way to deal with this is, a, we in america, you know, have to be able to do what we can, but then join with other nations. at the same time, we deal with the rise of fundamentalism which leads to fundamental terrorism and the inability to bridge those gaps. so, i mean, we talked earlier, peter, about what shapes human history. is it decisions at the top or people at the bottom.
and it's obviously both. and on some issues that don't knox -- knock on your door, you know, if you can't get a job, that knocks on your door. if your kid can't afford college, that knocks on your door. if you need an operation and your insurance won't cover it and, you know, the republicans have eviscerated obamacare, you can't get it through that, that knocks on your door. those things all have to be dealt with. but there are some issues that don't knock on your door. climate change is knocking a little bit. you've got forest fires, you had the tragedy in paradise. you saw what happened, you know, other parts of the world where the waters are rising and taking away land from people. but for most americans, it's not really quite knocking on the door the way the other knocks come in. and that's, i think, an area where you need the leadership. you need people whether the scientific community -- they're speaking. and there are people who are elected as representatives to
judge and to evaluate what the nation needs, what their community needs. it's not just an immediacy, but also in the long run. and in some ways educate people who are pressed by these other matters. so nationalism, tribalism, all that gets in the way of having those sort of conversations. >> host: two tweets. first one is from mike. in your opinion, how is this all going to end? this. [laughter] impeachment, resignation, losing 2020 election, prison, destruction of trump inc., or does he somehow survive? >> guest: you know, i make no predictions whatsoever. i mean, every day i probably have, you know, a dozen conversations along these lines. i don't know what's going to happen with the end of the mueller investigation. there may not be a full report
that tells people what mueller found. he has no obligation to produce one. he has to submit a report on his prosecutorial decisions. why i prosecuted this case. he could do a long explanation of i looked into this matter, give us all the facts, but i decided it didn't -- there was no crime to prosecute. or he could just say here are the eight cases i prosecuted and why and, blah, blah, blah, and be done with it. we don't know what he's going to do in terms of final indictments or a final report. you know, it's unclear, you know, you can't really predict any of trump's own actions. you know, who he's going to hire, who he's going to fire, what he's going to do with china, you know? all we can do is they -- is say there's a trend line of chaos, disruption and disorder and the inability to work with others. and that will likely continue. what does that mean with him? i don't know. i mean, all i know about trump
is that he has the narcissistic personality perspective on the world where everything is about him and he's the center of all of it. people like that don't resign. don't run away. if they're going down, they blow up everything with them. or at least they try to. impeachment in the house, right now the leadership of the house is generally saying they're not interested in impeachment. i'm not a political strategist, my advice to them would be, as we've talked already today, there are at least a dozen, if not three dozen scandals you can identify or allegations of corruption that any congress doing oversight should look at. i think they should, you know, very deliberately look at those while passing legislation and tending to the other side of government. and, you know, say we are going to do our, fulfill our oversight
responsibilities, and, you know, at the end of that we'll see where we are. we'll see where he is, we'll see where the nation is. so we've been in uncharted waters. i don't see any chart appearing about where we will be. but, you know, the political trend line of this election was not good for the republicans, was not good for trump, and it showed a tremendous increase in civic action. so i hope and i doubt that's going to evaporate. >> host: second tweet, resist with hope is the twitterer. do you think, like the nixon tapes, there will be a smoking gun revealed if mueller's report? >> guest: well, as we talked about, i think there are already multiple smoking guns. i think the fact that donald trump aided and awetted the russian -- abetted the russian attack is proven. you don't need a smoking gun. and in any other reasonable world, maybe -- we talked about
stephen hawking earlier. he talks about the theory that there are infinite universes, that basically anything that could have happened somewhere did happen. so in another universe where, you know, where the political culture, the political media culture has not been as perverted by trump as it has been, the smoking guns that we know already -- the deal with russia, you know, the revelation that he was told that russia was attacking the election, and he still said it wasn't. all those smoking guns might have, you know, done something. so, you know, again, i go back to my earlier point about robert mueller. we don't know what he's going to do. we don't know if he's going to do any more indictments, if he's going to put out a report that's going to to have any evidence. and brings me to maybe a larger point. the issue in some ways here is who will tell the people. russians attacked an american election.
i can't think of any more profound matter for the american public to know everything about. yet the house intelligence investigation, run by republicans, was a circus and collapsed and was shuttered. the senate intelligence committee, we don't know what's happening. neither one have held any public hearings about these issues. really -- they have not called up any witnesses about the trump tower meeting, trump's project in moscow. now, maybe this will come with the democrats controlling the house intelligence committee, but we don't have anybody who sees it as their job to give us a full accounting. it's not robert mueller's job. his job is to prosecute cases this he can find -- that he can find. so we really did need a real congressional investigation like we had with watergate, iran contra or even the clinton campaign finance abuses in the '90s. all we needed, an independent commission like the 9/11
commission. and so far we've had none of that. >> host: conventional wisdom, or washington wisdom is that the mueller investigation team has been not a leaky ship. >> guest: i haven't got any leaks from them. i've been pretty amazed by little that leaked that seemed to come from them. in washington it's really the lawyers who leak in a lot of ways, and anybody who is, you know, involved with this, goes before, you know, the grand jury, was questioned, has an attorney. and attorneys often have reasons to leak out information to help their client or hurt somebody else's client. and so they leak, members of congress leak. we know that house republicans on the intelligence committee were leaking material to distract from the core of the investigation. so there are a lot of leaks
going on around there, but i'll be damned if i see many coming from robert mueller's outfit. i meaning when he puts out the indictments or the, called the informations when people plead about, say the michael cocohen one recently, we -- there was a lot of material there we had no idea about. wow. wow. and so, i mean, my hat's off to him as a citizen. as a journalist -- [laughter] i'd like to see more leaks, but i know anytime i've asked them anything, it's very, very by the book. by the book. >> host: mark, michigan state, indiana. -- michigan city, ann. please go ahead with your question or comment for david corn. >> caller: yes, thank you. i'm convinced now i'd like to buy one of your books. i think i'll do that today. >> guest: thank you. >> caller: russian roulette. i just want to say to you and mr. isikoff, i've been following
you guys closely, and i've never really been a big follower of politics. but since mr. trump was a candidate, i've been watching the news at least two hours a day. i'll get two hours a day, just a little bit of fox but mostly msnbc. i just wanted to tell you guys to keep up the good fight. i do have a question at the end of my comment. >> guest: well, thank you for that. a what's your question? >> caller: the question is in all of your investigating, mr. corn, have you suspected or found any of the members of our current or past senate to be involved in in this russian fiasco that we're faced with? >> guest: well, that's a good question, and i know what he's getting at, because the republicans have denied or dismissed or downplayed the russian attack and this scandal. and it goes back to the campaign
itself. and mike and i write about this in the book "russian roulette," that when the obama administration, you know, realized what the russians were doing -- they were attacking the election and perhaps trying to, you know, affect the results, and they were also probing into state election systems, and that freaked out the white house even more than what they were doing in terms of inperioding hillary clinton -- they reached out to mitch mcconnell and house speaker paul ryan, the two top republicans. so this is underway, the russians are attacking us, we'd like to have a bipartisan, joint response. we'll try to figure out how we're going to respond. mitch mcconnell particularly, a little more so than paul ryan, said no. said this is a bullshit issue, don't want to be involved with this. people who work for obama who knew about this high up in his foreign policy/national security
team were astounded. they were astounded that they could not get a leader of the u.s. senate to join them in speaking out about this. and having a united front. and one reason they couldn't to that was because donald trump was out there saying this isn't happening. this is nothing. this is a hoax. so that would mean he would have to be on the different side than his, than the nominee of his party. and they went through paul ryan, ryan tried to convince mcconnell to do something, but at the end of the day mcconnell wouldn't, and ryan wouldn't do anything on his own. so, i mean, this to me is astounding. and i don't think they're doing this because they're on the payroll of the russians, but just for political purposes they would not come together, and it says a lot about where we are as a nation at this point. because i keep coming back to
this. this was not russian meddling. this was a russian attack. information warfare, and we describe in the book how they had been thinking about this and developing this strategy for years. not necessarily attacking the election in this fashion, specific way, but doing these types of things. not against the united states only, but against other countries in the west, england, getting involved with brexit, france, getting involved in the election this and other nations like estonia and ukraine. they've been doing this. so here was, you know, the republican leadership saying we're not going to join you of politics. and ever since then you had a few republicans say a few things about this matter. but by and large, the republicans on the house side punted, and they tried to make this all about the democrats getting a dossier together, a wiretap. one former, you know, trump campaign adviser.
and the senate, they're still working on it, but they don't really talk much about it these days. and the news came out, was it like three weeks ago, peter, that the trump tower project had gone longer than 2016 and michael cohen had worked on it. and it shows that trump, you know, had this conflict of interest. correct me -- >> host: when the mueller report came out on cohen. >> guest: yeah, yeah. correct me if i'm wrong, i have yet to hear a prominent republican say anything about trump negotiating or trying to enlist putin's own office, hundreds of millions of dollars while running as a presidential candidate. i mean, i'm kind of astonished. they won't even say, oh, i'm even troubled by that. you don't even see jeff flake, ben sasse, even the people who wring their hands once in a while. and that, too, astonishes me. and i don't know, i don't, you know, think that the russians necessarily have anything on
them, which is what, you know, you see on twitter and social media, people suggesting that. i think they've just, you know, have thrown in the towel and just sort of, you know, we're with trump, you know, sink or swim. and, you know, all the other values that we care about don't matter as much. >> host: three more of david corn's favorite books. two are nonfiction, we'll ask him about the third. fear and loathing on the campaign trail by hunter s. thompson. everybody should read that at some point. just kids by rocker patty that was nominated for a national book award, and the island at the center of the world, not familiar. >> guest: that's a great book. it's about the very beginning of manhattan which was settled by the dutch. and this is one thing that i'm really -- i'm a very envious person of good reporting and great books.
it kills me to do something -- what russell found was there was an archive of all the legal and formal records of the first dutch colony that was written kind of in ancient dutch. and they were discovered by a archivist librarian i think in albany, and he -- and the way they're written, you need like a magnifying glass. you have to look at each letter to look at each word, and this guy learned ancient dutch to read these documents. and they tell, basically, the story of the first dutch colony at the tip of manhattan. who was there, the citizens -- you know, all who broke laws, what the laws were, who owed what money. and from all these records, he was able to create this account of this thriving, this was a very interesting thing, diverse
community of people from all different religions, different parts of the world. it wasn't just straight dutch. and they all got, found themselves, you know, somewhat adventurers living, you know? and they were former pirates, they were prostitutes, they were people who came to seek their fortune, and there were politics between the people running, you know, the colony, the settlement and the people back home in holland that were the trading company and the government that was supposedly in charge of this. it's a marvelous book. you can make a "game of thrones" type series out of this, it is so riveting. and he really proves his point that, you know, we now look at manhattan as a thriving example of the melting pot. and, you know, his point was it doesn't come from if, like, the brits who ended up gaining control of manhattan, but it came from prior to that. so, i mean, i grew up outside of
new york. i think of myself as somewhat of a new yorker. it was just a riveting, riveting book. >> host: julia, santa rosa, california. hi, julia. >> caller: hello. thank you for taking my call. david corn, i just want to tell you how much i appreciate your work. and having the truth be told to everyone. and and i just feel alarmed like that one lady did, that what's happened to our government, why aren't these people standing up -- democrats, republicans, whoever it is -- for us. i feel renewed hope with the new congress. i hope they stand bold and just tell him, our taxpayer dollars are not going to pay for that wall. and these people that he says the federal workers that are behind him, he's wrong. they live paycheck to paycheck, and they need their money, and he needs to just stop with his childish antics and listen to
us. and i, you know, i could go on and on, but i really can't. >> host: so let's, let's reeve it -- julia, have you been saying a what you're saying for the last two years? [laughter] >> caller: before that. >> host: okay. does it, has it made a difference, does it make you feel better, what's your end game? >> caller: my end game is, hopefully, if we have to wait til 2020 to get him out, if we can't do nothing before then, please, let's rise up and come together as a country, republican, democrat. i don't care to get our country back and get our faith back to the world. >> guest: well -- >> host: thank you, ma'am. >> guest: i said in a moment ago, i do think that trump's election led to this increase of civic activism. you know, you saw it first with the women's march, and you saw -- i know a lot of people
who got engaged in the midterm election we just had who were never engaged before. and i think, you know, for democrats, for progressives who care about income inequality, climate change, you know, a decent social safety net, other environmental matters, that there has to be a realization that none of this is ever permanent. that no political battle is ever really fully won. that if you care about these issues, you've got to stay engaged. you know, a woman's right to choose, you know, goes back and forth. that'll never be, i think, you know, an issue that ends. so if you have a particular perspective on that, you have got to stay engaged. and, you know, trump with his
extreme, you know, behavior and excesses highlights that. and they, and with the republican controlling both houses of congress for the first two years of his term showed that, you know, if you don't have checks and balances, what can happen. so it was a, i think, a wake-up call to some, and, you know, the advice give to any american is that if you give a damn about anything, you've got to remain engaged, and you've got to keep fighting. you know, that's what the nra does, it's what people in every town, the gun safety group has to do. and it's unfortunate that it takes events like parkland to make, to get people out. but, you know, my daughter is a high school student, she got very engaged and led some of the local area walkouts, high school walkouts in support of the parkland kids when they were
walking out and going to the statehouse in. i mean, this is really what makes america great. i mean, you know, this is what makes america great. we don't have to make it great again. what makes it great9 is the ability of anybody to get out there if they give a damn and try to rally others around them and have an impact on what happens. now, i think it's very hard, you know? we talk about campaign finances and corporate influences and dollars, and it's hard, hard to fight city hall, it's hard to do all these things. but in the past, you know, women had to fight for the vote, americans had to fight for freedom. a lot of, you know, workers had to fight not to work 80 hours a week and to have labor protections. these had to be fought for. and, you know, we can all get complacent and think that we've gotten them, but on many fronts you've got to keep at it.
>> host: and along that same line, here's an e-mail from judy in norwood, massachusetts. good morning, enjoying your conversation with david corn. did you notice that most of your callers were women today? i do feel that trump has ignited the wrath of american womanhood. note the women's marches and movement if, the increase in women taking up the energy to run and win political competitions. go, girls. and go, c-span, is how she credit cards that. [laughter] -- concludes that. and this is a facebook comment from kathy, referring to you. i see he has no liking for republicans and is part of the never trump movement, but am i supposed to believe that there were no democratic scandals he needed to investigate? >> guest: oh, but i have in the past. i mean, i've written about democrats who were caught up in mainly money or campaign finance scandals, but during the '90s there were campaign financial scandals about the clinton presidential campaign, and i covered that. one of my very, very first
stories when i came to washington was about a political action committee, a pac, run by dick gephardt who was the top democrat in the house then that was supposedly set up to help other candidates but was really a slush fund for his own, you know, political operation as he was thinking about running for president. and i remember calling people who donated to that, you know, meaning average citizens and asking what they were donating the money for. they all said, oh, it's for the his presidential campaign. so, you know, i have, you know, written about democrats, you know? and at "mother jones" we've written a bunch of stories on hillary clinton as secretary of state about issues she had promoting fracking. so i, you know, have not limited my focus only to republicans. these days, you know, trump and the administration, the people
in power are the ones who, i think, warrant the most, the most concentration, the most focus. sphwhs another e-mail, this is from maria. have you ever come across a serious piece of information that you did not divulge? >> guest: yeah, all the time. every journalist say that. because i maybe couldn't confirm it. people tell me things off the record all the time, and i try to get them on the record to say things. i, yeah. someone once told me a tremendously significant story about dick cheney that i believe to be true. he was in a position to know it. but i could not talk to a more direct source, and i couldn't confirm it. so, you know, in my line of work i'm often getting leads, tips,
pointers, material that i can't as a journalist can't publish, can't post because of the role role -- rules of reporting. i've spent months and sometimes years pursuing stories. okay, democrat, somebody who was a lobbyist told me about how some major corporations were blackmailing a prominent democratic chair of a house committee. i guess this was back in the '90? and there was dirt on him that a few corporations had, and they were using it to leverage him. and the person who told me i truly believed. and i tried really hard to confirm that story, but i could never do that. so i didn't write it, didn't publish it, and i can't say now who the person was.
but, yeah, this happens, unfortunately, all the time. in fact, you know, i have a staff of 19 reporters and editors who i oversee at the "mother jones" washington, d.c. bureau, and we're forever chasing things. i often say if we get one out of ten, we're doing pretty well. >> host: your reputation goes with each and every story, though, doesn't it? >> guest: oh, certainly. you know, it only takes one story to land you in the crapper if you -- >> host: rolling stone, uva -- >> guest: yeah. you can have a great career of books and stories and work for, you know, a great reputation as a newspaper, a magazine, a web site, and you get something wrong and it's trouble. it's what people will remember. and people lose their jobs over this. and reporting, like everything else, is an activity in which you can't make mistakes.
you can get things wrong but doing so in good faith. not everything that's wrong is done wrong purposefully to score a point. you just make a mistake. and that's hard when you do that in the public eye. and i think it's hard for people to acknowledge, often it's hard to acknowledge making a mistake, but it's also hard to acknowledge that a mistake was made for a non-devious purpose. but, yeah, i mean, i'm -- there are many stories that i have done that i, you know, fullly believe in or that one of my reporters has done, and we publish them, and i just wait for something to go wrong. so far it really hasn't happened, but you think -- i always think, okay, look at every fact here. is there something else that could be at play here that we're not seeing, you know? is there an alternative extra nation? -- extra nation? --
explanation. we've been sued at "mother jones" by people with a lot of money. we won those suits. we have suits threatened against us. we did a story recently on a russian oligarch, and he threatened a lawsuit against us. barely touched him. but in any event, you know, we do this, you know, we saw what happened with gawker. one lawsuit basically took them out of business. so we do everything we can. we have a tremendous fact-checking operation at mother jones unlike what happened at "der spiegel". "der spiegel", the german -- where they had someone who was making up stories. that's what happened with steven glass and the new republic years ago. you can google that -- >> host: jason up at "the new york times." >> guest: it all happens happened. it happened with the washington post, janet cook. >> host: blitzer. >> guest: got a pulitzer. >> host: have you ever lived in
fear of your life? >> guest: no. >> host: ever been threatened? >> guest: oh, on twitter by idiots. i mean -- >> host: not here in washington or anything. >> guest: i've never -- you know, i'm sorry, it's just not "house of cards." it just doesn't work that way. you know, when i worked on the cia, people asked if i was being followed, when i was doing the russia stuff, people asked if i was being intimidated by russian thugs. never come up. you know, threatened with lawsuits but not anythingen beyond that. >> host: for the last three hours we have been talking with investigative journalist and author david corn. very quickly, "blond ghost" was his first book. deep background came out in '99. it was a novel. "the lies of george w. bush" and "lieu bris" came out during the bush administration. showdown is the inside story of how obama fought back against boehner, cantor and the tea party. we didn't get to spend enough
time with that, apologize. and his most recent with michael isikoff, "russian roulette," and "the election of donald trump." should let our audience know that if they are in tucson, you're going to be at the sueton book fair -- tucson book fair the first weekend in march. which is something we often cover live on booktv. >> guest: i want to thank you for having me. i've been a tremendous fan of c-span from the very beginning, and it's always been an honor, and it's great to be on booktv and talk beyond the sound bites we're often forced into. so thank you very much, peter. ..