tv QA with Brooke Gladstone CSPAN July 10, 2017 1:42pm-2:42pm EDT
>> watch "the communicators" tonight at 8:00 eastern on c-span2. the senate judiciary committee will hold the confirmation hearing this coming wednesday for christopher wray, the nominee to be the next f.b.i. director. if confirmed he would replace james comey who president trump fired earlier this year. that confirmation hearing gets under way at 9:30 eastern this coming wednesday morning and you can see it live on our companion network c-span3. > this week on "q&a," brooke gladstone, she discusses her book "the trouble with reality" , a rume nation of moral panic in our time.
peter: this is the smallest book we have ever done on this program in 28 years. brooke: i can imagine. there aren't books much smaller than that. peter: it's 90-some pages the most. anyway, what's it about? brooke: well, i call it a rumination. it's not even a complete argument. it's a summary of an argument. what it was was a response to the kind of incredible anxiety that people in my cohort, my eastern elite cohort were feeling and ally i realized the level of stress was really high that it really went beyond politics or a
president. it's a dread and i wanted to know why this time it's not just as simple as it's donald trump and he doesn't seem to know what he's doing. it seemed to be much deeper than that and that was my exploration and in this little book i'm taking people down the rabbit hole with me. peter: why -- it's full of a lot of stuff but why a short book, $8.95, it's not expensive, and what did you and what did you think it would be so, why would people buy this? brooke: to be honest with you, i don't really process things unless i'm writing or reporting on. i think it's a malady of many, many life-long journalists and the pun lisher workman and wync's book agent, the station where i worked, just showed up in my office and say people are
terribly distressed, we want something and i said, well, now it's pretty close to the end of february. i will write this thing in two weeks if you promise to bring it out in two months. changing so fast, i do want to process this. i want to set this task to myself and i want to see if i something, if not consoling then it can anat mize this boiling, roiling engine of anxiety that we all feel and if you define something then it's easier to manage so that was the ultimate goal. i wrote it in two weeks. workman brought it out in two it's miraculously and dense.ecause
my life is spent removing words from things as the editor of my all the he media and text and everything you hear is boiled down to its essence. grateful for the time that anybody spends listening to our show or reading this book and honestly there isn't a word wasted in t. we go back as far as john milton to what happened two months ago. and you get hopefully at the end of it you have a sense of what happened, why you feel so bad about it and maybe a few hints what you can do about it? peter: so what do you say -- and i on this network we listen to all sides to the person that lives in the red state and says, there they go again? she's new york centric.
she's not a conservative. she has no idea why we like this guy. what do you say to them? brooke it's an absolutely fantastic question and i don't get it asked enough. i am utterly france parent in this book. i -- utterly transparent in this book. i talk about the non-trump voter. i talk about how he was perceived and the foundational principles on which we all construct our independent bespoke realities, how those fundamental principles were violated, were broken, didn't seem to work anymore, creating this cosmic prime scream of istress. i will also argue that you cannot taste your individual world back together unless you know what is going on in the other world. that there is a highway of nfinite realities.
as many as are our americans, as many as there are human beings, and what we saw was a colossal smashup on that highway. what i would say to the trump voter is, you want to know what is really going on? do you want to go past the, oh, the delicate snowflake, they lost, get over it, and see what's really going on with us? from somebody who has taken as far a distance away as she can possibly get. i tried to go 1,000 miles out. i am arguing in the book for people in my political cohort to do the same. i want to say, i am not -- i am a fair journalist. i never edit to win the argument. we always invite people on who disagree with us. we are respectful and we give
our time. but i'm also respectful to the audience. here's a data point audience. here is where i stand. factor that in when you're listening to the conversation, and this is an opportunity for people on both sides of the political argument to see why the nation is so divided. i am not even suggesting that we try to hear it. -- heal it. all i am just suggesting that we figure out what else is going on out there so that when we go back into our bubbles, which we are biologically wired to create, we will make them a little sturdier next time because we are much more aware of what is going on out there. i am not asking anybody to compromise their values or their beliefs. i'm just asking them to open their eyes to other people's so that you can figure out your lace in this infinite world. host: where did it start for
brooke goldstone? brooke: gladstone? host: there is reality out the window right now. brooke: it is not the first time. it is -- where did the anxiety start? host: no, where are you from originally? brooke: oh, ok. i am from long island. my parents did the various jobs and we were mostly class. lowish-middle and then my father switched jobs and we were doing well for a while and moved to a much bigger house. i am one of six siblings. then he did terribly and we had to sell the house and moved to vermont. tripled the jewish population of the town we moved to in the northeast kingdom. i went to the university of vermont. my parents went basically from
bankruptcy to bankruptcy and ended up incredibly happy in new mexico. host: how did you get back to new york city? brooke: i took the long way around. to be honest. after vermont i moved to d.c. and i was there for 13 years and started out as the worst waitress that the nation's capital has ever had. fired from virtually every single job. ultimately a customer got me a job writing. this was the 1970's. one used what worked, right? and he's sitting outside the studio right now, as a matter of fact. but back then we were very young. i started writing on defense issues. that was his area. he was working on the hill. and then from defense i went from job to job to job to job and it's a long story full of coincidences and happy chances. then i ended up in radio, which is where i belonged.
i was a theater major in college and i liked to write. it is a tremendously great medium for telling a story because it is so intimate. host: how long have you done the radio on wnyc which you can hear across the country which is called "on the media"? brooke: i have been doing that show since january of 2001. quite a ride that's been. host: the gentleman you're talking about is sitting outside, your husband, what does he do? brooke: well, he started out -- well, he's done many jobs right now. he writes on national security and foreign policy for slate. his column is called "war stories." it's great. host: i want to show you a video from a person two died in 2003. neil. he wrote "amusing ourselves to death." you write about it here. i want to describe why you
write about it. let's see what he looked like nd talked like back in 1988. >> just generally the history of the american presidency if you start with george washington and go through to reagan refutes darwin all by itself. i find reagan, myself, appalling. t this stage in our history, that we would have chosen omeone who is so ill-informed, and so inarticulate. >> to you blame that on television? >> television produces us.
brooke: right, he felt very strongly that pictures were pushing out words and that led to a kind of simplicity. it rendered us incapable of understanding complicated ideas. i did not entirely agree with all of his conclusions, of course he could not foresee what digital media would do, how it would change landscape, it's still an open question. we're still struggling with it. there was one thing he did see, nd that was that we were getting fed tasty morsels of sugar at a much higher rate than we could have ever done it before. hat was dangerous. he liked -- what he did was he offered a contrast between two different dystopias. "brave new world," and george orwells "1984" which we know is flying off the shelves right now.
people with anxiety is wondering -- this is another symptom of that anxiety, i think. so in struggling with how we got to this place where we do not understand what is going on in our own country. i came across the introduction in postman's fabulous classic called "amusing ourselves to death," and there was the orwell, huxley contrast. host: i am going to ask you to read it. it's the easiest way for the audience to put it in perspective. brooke: sure, sure. think everybody knows that in "1984" big brother comes and takes away everybody's volition and everybody's freedom. something very different happens in "brave new world." a place is created where compliance and complacency is coped out of the population.
certainly not to contradict us. it gave us the illusion that our realities were watertight, when really they were riddled with the weak spots and places hat would crunch in. that this kind of collision, which happens periodically hrough history, and i talk about that, this kind of collision of realities, or to being faced with the fact that your reality is built on -- hat happens periodically and happens for the same reason. because we are alone, because we do not see, because we embrace our blinders. host: i wrote this down, fake reality begins at home. those are your words. brooke: that is right. ot just at your home, but in
your head. we are wired to feel the way we do. you see it in endless numbers of studies. when we are faced with a contradiction from somebody we have never trusted to begin with, our reasoning centers light up in our brain. there was a great study that showed this. if you are confronted with a lie, or misbehavior by a partisan by someone who your world view requires you to embrace, you do not light up. you distressed centers light up. a place in your brain called the angular cingulate. i would go back in the book to make sure what it was. until you figure out how to accommodate this unpleasant information, generally by lying to yourself, once you have managed to accomplish that, the interior cingulate comes down and suddenly you get a shot of dopamine direct to your pleasure center. precisely what you get if you
take cocaine. how do you resist? how do you stand in the face of reward that you get if you simply keep your universe consistent by lying to yourself? host: who in your life, or the last numbers of years have you thought told the truth in politics more often than not? brooke: you know, it is such a funny question and i will tell you why. i think maybe you have done this to trick me. because i talk about what truth is in the book. and the truth is not about facts. that is why facts don't change people's minds. they have to be relevant and they have to somehow be consistent with the world view that people have or they're very easy to reject. easy all the time for reasons that i describe in this low
one. but truth for each of us involves the weaving of the known of the fact of the seen and the unknown and the unseen is taking the facts of the known and unknown and marinating them in our traditions and values to create that is what truth is. basically you are asking me, who is a politician that best reflects my reality? which i believe, of course i believe is the right reality. every single person watching this now understands in a general principle what i am saying. but, again, we are not wired to accept the fact that we, ourselves are susceptible to the same inns pulses -- impulses that i am describing. i am and i do, all the time,
edit my world. you are basically asking me who is the politician that i most admire, the one that best reflects my view of the world. right? host: i'm not sure i care that you had -- who u.n. meyer. brooke: but it is my truth. host: but you have a sense were your lifetime was telling you the truth or it -- truth. i have done a lot of research on the lies of president in the past. there are lots of them. i would just wondered from your standpoint. brooke: are you asking about a president? can a plea out of this? host: sure. with everything you have written, when have you believed in somebody? brooke: i guess when people risk
things in order -- when they risk their political position in order to speak a hard truth, that is a sign to me that they are telling the truth and that they have skin in the game of truth. basically, i looked towards politician who have taken risks. i do not know whether there is some kind of amnesia, but i am desperately casting about for one in the u.s. i am sure they are out there, i just cannot name them. they are not in office anymore is what i would say. host: you have a letter from john adams to john taylor. i want to ask you about the first line of it. december 17, 1814. remember, democracy never lasts long. you more than once in the book talk about democracy. brooke: democracy is what john
adams is saying. he did not have a lot of true democracies to evaluate from. what he firmly believe is that, when the people take the system in their own hand, they are likely, as the greediest most terrible monarch's but -- to smother themselves and the good in the world. he did not have a real belief the way that jefferson did. that wisdom would always prevail. that a truth is putting the same room for falsehood. truth will emerge victorious. jefferson believed that, that is why we have a first amendment, which is quite unusual here it perhaps, unique in the world. john adams, alexander hamilton did not have that in kind of humanity.
they wanted the structure to work, but they also knew that democracy is just a machine. it is a template. it is a process. the success of the machine depends on its operators. if you have people who are listening to their better angels, who have values and principles and interests in seeing the machine work, interests that are greater than their own personal interests, it will always work for you. we are just human beings subject to the same frailties. if the wrong people get hold of those, democracy will not a bus. host: -- will not save us. host: i am scattering through the process to get you to talk about these people. who was hannah?
i will show some video. brooke: she was a remarkable social theorist and historian who watched with the keenest eye imaginable what happened in the run-up to hitler's assumption of power in germany? and also stalin's. she picked out, very carefully, not just what they did and anonymize that, but to whom they did it and how they did it, and why they responded. it is always a little nerve-racking. those of us who have been watching, even in this brief period of the trump presidency to use hannah to offer and allergies. that suggests that trump is hitler's or stalin, or his followers or nazis.
i am simply not saying that. what i am simply saying is that a population in distress, that has been lied to so often, ignored so continuously will respond similarly to someone who comes up with a view of the world, a reality that seems to include them, to reflect them, to validate them and to redeem them. host: this is a black and white video that comes from german television back in 1964. she speaks german. there are subtitles. i want to point out so the audience can be prepared to read the subtitles and we will come back to it. >> [speaking german] host: any reaction to what she
war, the germans did not want to believe that they had lost militarily because they just lost. the theory came that there was a stab in the back. the jews had served in the military, but the jews that lived in the country have betrayed their enemies and that is why they lost. somebody like her could see that tide rising. she saw a great view of the side. she, in the origins of totalitarianism, we are not focusing on the victims, but on those who thought they would benefit from blowing the current system up and getting some of what they thought was their birthright. something they thought they felt they had lost. and to change the direction of the future where they would no
longer be the winners and beneficiaries of the system. to move it that. germany suffered horribly in the wake of world war i. giving rise to the impetus to begin world war ii. which is why after world war ii we had a marshall plan. we would not make that mistake again. that was one mistake we learned from, which was a glorious thing and ray are in our history. -- rare in our history. she saw that hitler's could say whatever he wanted to these people because they needed an explanation for the struggles they have had to endure. they needed hope for a new direction. much of the rhetoric was almost entirely the same. host: let me read back to what you wrote. "if trump did not break the law,
he clearly was proud of outsmarting it. ducking taxes, greasing politicians and much more. supporters praise this as true telling, which it was. the system was rigged but he knew how to game it and now he would game it for us." you go on to say, "which explains why so many of us are deal -- still reeling." brooke: we always thought that if somebody behaved badly, even if they did not rake the law, they would lose in the court of public opinion. look what happened to the republicans. every time trump did something like -- diss john mccain for having a prisoner of war. i like people who don't get captured he said. or diss the nation to the south, they send us their rapist and their criminals.
the access hollywood tape, for crying out loud. when does this guy stop getting a free pass? when do than norms, that basically keep a civilized, that help organize us, uphold our values that we can share, even if we don't share political policies, wind is that kick in? and it did not, hence the distress. i think it comes from all quarters, not just liberal democratic ones. host: what did you to give hillary clinton? brooke: i thought she was a problematic candidate. i thought she was a groundbreaking figure in many respects. but in breaking background, to be honest with you, i think that she was -- i don't want to use the word traumatized, but she was so affected by her savage
treatment in her early years. beginning in the arkansas state house or governors mansion. every time she tried to exercise her intellect, to use her experience and applaud her values, all of which i thought were exemplary she became a hidden character. and if you hide and duck and deny, people believe trump is authentic, they believe hillary is fake. i believe she has put too much faith and too many campaign to the same people. her past experience in breaking
so many barriers rendered her incapable of reading this moment. >> why do you think the people who do not like her thought she was fake? >> i don't think she live any more than other politicians but she was evasive in a particular way. she would offer explanations. trump does the same thing to be sure but he was not forced to be so polished. he could be rude and crude and that would be well received. anyone who tried to do that is immediately condemn -- any woman who tried to do that was immediately condemned. an authentic woman faces tremendous challenges and so does an inauthentic woman. you have to walk a hybrid that is so fine -- typerope that is so fine, it is hard to keep your balance.
host: we interviewed him on a book called "demagogue." >> a demagogue is a mass leader. i borrow elements from an 1838 essay by jane seymour cooper -- james fennimore cooper. it is identified as a man of the people, they trigger great emotional reactions from the people. they use of those emotional reactions for personal or political benefit.
they didn't or break established rules of governments or laws. host: what's the difference between barack obama and donald trump when thinking of a demagogue? >> any successful politician has to incorporate several demagogic principles. the question is how do you use them. he resisted saying truck with a demagogue -- trump was a demagogue. but when he started identifying with the masses in a way that he did, in sincerely for his own
material gain that he had to turn into this demagogue camp with regard to trump. he is a politician himself. he knows if you cannot engage in motion, you cannot get elected but it is to what end and how. you have to do it in a way that gives basically -- you have to say a series of lies. him it is all about manipulation -- it is all about manipulation. why is it so scary? i turned to thinkprogress, who explains why it is important.
if you give people the idea there is no reality to be known, it is simply an alternative fact, some information curse you, some doesn't appear to--some information occurs to you, the truth is a liar, don't think you have any obligation to believe the engines of accountability. he said that signals of the end of democracy. it depends on negotiating from a cooler fact -- a pool of facts that you agree is true. but when truth is an arbitrary, personal decision there is no common ground to be reached, no
incentive to look for and that is opening the door to the rule of the jungle. host: i mentioned i had done some research on what other presidents had said and i want to ask you the difference. this is an article that "politico" put together on other presidents that did not tell the truth. in many cases, in 1940, franklin roosevelt surprised his speechwriter by telling a boston audience your boys are not going to be sent into any foreign wars. on at the are offered, if we are attacked, it is no longer a foreign war --roosevelt offered, if we are attacked, it will no
longer be a foreign war. woodrow wilson did the same thing. >> in the other book i wrote, i spend a long time on wars and war coverage. that is when the lies of our politicians and leaders become truly heinous. let's talk about the run-up to the iraq war. every single president lies. if you want to ask me what is the difference between those guys and trial, -- those guys and trump, i thought about it. generally when our politicians lie they do it to achieve a
policy in. -- a policy end. the lead up to the iraq war, a combination of wishful thinking --they created a idea that iraq had weapons of mass instruction and it was a matter of -- massive destruction and it was a matter of self-defense to attack them. cheny created his own and rumsfeld a intelligence agency where they tear effect among there is ideas to create a consistent reality that would drive a policy they wanted. there is no consistency in trial. --trump.
he doesn't feel he needs it. he wants to assert power over truth itself, over reality itself, to say it does not exist, everyone has an agenda. the organs of accountability, the media, are only special interest, they are enemies of the people, they have an agenda and it is not your agenda. host: here you say they lie on an outcome on policy, here is a former president talking about it. >> isil say it again and again and again. -- i shall say it again and again. your boys are not going to be sent into any foreign war.
>> the point i make is by 1961, are we going to be ahead of them, i'm not sure we are. >> the use of weapons against united states ships have today required me to order the military forces of the united states to take action in reply. >> i'm going to say this again, i did not have sexual relations with that woman, miss linsky. >> we will keep this promise to the american people, if you like your doctor, you'll be able to keep your doctor. if you like your health care plan, you'll be able to keep your health care plan. >> when richard nixon said he was running for president, he said i have a figure plan to win the war. what have we gotten as a result
in our society today with all these presidents telling us untruths. >> there is not a society on earth where leaders say things that are entirely true. the goal is to make america work better. if obama suspected that the kinds of insurance plans that people had would go away, not be outlawed by the bill but market forces would cause those plans to become unavailable or their doctors might drop out of the program, he did not say so. he likely knew that was a consequence but it certainly wasn't in the bill. he created an environment where that could happen. the missle gap.
i seem to recall that he may have inherited some bad information from his leaders. he may not have actively lied about it. jfk. there is a higher purpose. i'm not excusing that, by the way. i'm absolutely not. there seems to be no purpose except to further our president's view of himself. that is too narrow a vision. everything he said recently in the wake of pulling out of the paris accords. he said i'm not prepared, i am for pittsburgh. pittsburgh said we are not a coal mining city anymore.
they're only 50,000 people who actually work in coal. more people work at whole foods. it doesn't matter. his words that can shift and move has nothing to do with the overall idea, the policy, the principal, it is just a chaos of the mind. host: you live in your city -- in new york city? >> i live in brooklyn. host: has there been a time since donald trump was elected where you found yourself among your friends and they have the same intensity that you have in this book and say they cannot figure this out. was that what drove you to write this thing, the people can understand why we feel this way.
>> have i felt that way, have i felt that from other people? even more than i have felt it from myself. i tend to take a long historical view and i am of fundamental believe that whatever of essence in the next few years, the public -- whatever mess ensues in the next few years, the public will survive. where did i hear distress? everywhere. i have a regular game i play with a friend in boston. "words with friends". the day after the election she wrote in the chat box, i just want to die. there was not a single place,
you could not walk out -- block out the sound of terror if you had filled your place with tape and found sound blotting fiberglass. it was a hum. the city was on red alert. every one is getting used to it but that sense of stress does not abate because at some point it is not about trump, it is about this ideational principles -- those foundational principles. host: it is called "the trouble with reality." but you mentioned --who is she? >> she is a journalist who grew
up in russia and she writes regularly for the "new york review of books." her insight has been stunning. when the rest of the media said it was not possible he could win, she said prepare yourself for his victory. then she accused the rest of the press corps as having a tremendous lack of imagination. host: back in may, this is what she said about npr. >> the npr argument is that the definition of lie involved intent. npr does not have exclusive information on trump's intent.
the euphemism misstatement, takes a lack of intent and the thing is words exist in time. the word misstatement suggests a similar -- a singular occurrence. the word misstatement apply to trump is actually a lie. host: what do you think? >> i think she's brilliant and absolutely right. national public radio is taking a very narrow view statement by statement by statement. what she saw is that the entire canon and endlessly generating engine of trump misdirection, of trump mendacity has an intent
and the intent is to cast doubt on the ability to ever know what is true. to take control of reality itself. host: you write, if you think i am cracking wise to make a point, you are mistaken. >> right and then i explain inconceivable in that i'm not wired to conceive it. that ultimately is is the challenge.
because i was admitting that i believe what i believe and i do not understand what they believe but if i want to create a reality that will hold up under stress and will not leave happy nation and all of their realities in distress then we have to understand what other people believe because it is the coalition of their worldview and hours that -- and ours that has created all of this flying to bring or waiting for some great -- flying debris or waiting for a wind to blow it away. if we are waiting, it will be for a long time. host: what has been the reaction to your book?
>> i have not been trashed for bias and i think it is because people who think public radio is biased anyway, they are going to sigh. do i go screaming against the wind when breitbart says something outrageous or alex jones at info wars declared we are all being -- no, i do not, because i expected and maybe that is why the reaction i hear is all positive because of the people who expect me to be full of crap, they would not bother wasting very same set -- wasting their ink saying so.
i make an honest, clean breath of it and bring in my cohort and say we have to look outside of our bubbles if we want to feel comfortable in this world again. host: in the commercial mass media, have they been taking a more aggressive approach to donald trump than i have ever seen? >> donald trump is the first person to break the norms, the agreement the media had, this style of objectivity, walter cronkite, the man from the cloud style who would never express an opinion work in a consensus country. up and still the time that -- up until the time of the creation
of television, media got cheaper and cheaper and you could make money with smaller and smaller audiences. that whole process reversed itself when television came. it came at a time when the country was in existential fear of the atom bomb and the russians. since the airwaves were a limited resource, they had to deal with the government. rules is that we no longer have, equal time and so forth. mostly swept away by reagan and it opened up the way to am radio with rush limbaugh a creative fox news ultimately. it was also a time when you could find a center and if you try to talk to the people on the margins, it would turn off all of your audience.
you never saw people with accents, people of color, radio was far more democratic in the 20's than tv was in the 50's and 60's. suddenly there was a new technology that made everything cheap again. the internet. the cold war was over. this change by the media was inevitable in some way because of this collision of politics and culture but also on a more fundamental scale, on a cultural level, trump says i will not
accept what your role is, media, in our democracy. i will not concede that you have a right to information, i will not concede that your mission is to convey information. i-93 time -- i deny you three times. as jack shafer of political told me, they are like a hill of -- hill of red ants, if you walk around them, it will be ok, if you kick them, they will be all over you. the media believes they are relevant and the fate of the nation will depend on what they do. we know the media is incredibly polarized but there is a possibility they may.
there is a possibility facts may have meaning again. there is conceptualizing them -- context utilizing the. making those facts matter, but they have a job now. host: if you had to pin the best media organization in the united states, where you get the most information, what would you say? >> that is not simply possible right now. one thing that every american who wants to understand how the world is moving ms. is unique to get your information from a wide variety of sources. host: where do you go? >> i go to those places that are
not in love with trump, but have policies that mainstream republicans would like to see acted on. like those policies but at least i do not we can share a cultural norm about what is normal, civil behavior. it is a place to begin. host: what would be your definition of journalism today? >> i don't think the role of journalism has changed. i don't think it is the role of journalists to carry a flag in the vanguard of the counterrevolution. it is the role of the journalist to tell us what is going on
where we are not, to explain why that is of relevance to you, to lay out the facts, to be honest and accurate. i don't think you have to be objective, you simply have to be fair. host: last question, we talked about your husband, do you have kids. >> yes. twins. one lives in brooklyn, one lives in los angeles. they both are engaged in various types of volunteer work. they contribute to causes they care about. in other words, they show up. it behooves everybody who is
worried about the direction of the country, no matter where you stand, i think it was whose everybody to show up -- behooves everybody to show up. host: the book, "the trouble with reality: a real nation in moral panic in our time." the author is brooke gladstone. >> thank you. ♪ [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org] >> for free transcripts or to give us your comments about this program, visit us at q and
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