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tv   Charlie Rose  PBS  May 12, 2016 12:00am-1:01am PDT

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. >> rose: welcome tok the program, we begin this evening with politics and talk to mark halperin, john helleman and mark mckinnon at a conversation recorded at the the-- 92nd street y last night in new york city. >> the opening for somebody to run as a businessman, outsider, not beholden to special interests, not with a plitd kal background was enormous. >> but the fact that it was done ald trump is a complete-- is a surprise. but it-- we shouldn't be surprised that somebody has captured that space of fundamental change, that is so fundamental, that as mark said, they're willing to risk somebody that might be risky because they tried everything else and they have been letdown. >> rose: and we begin with the incredibly popular musician mark ronson. >> especially because of the result of this song uptown funk, are milestones that i never,
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ever thought that i would achieve. and i would have been perfectly happy if i hadn't have. i was on a good enough path and these ridiculous things of playing the super bowl or playing snl are things i would never-- they wouldn't even be on my bucket list because i would say my bucket list is more grounded in reality. >> rose: we conclude with michael eric dyson call his book is called the black presidency, barack obama and the politics of race in america. >> i do not blame barack obama for what we see going on in 2016 with donald trump, but i will say this, race will be interpreted in america. if you leave a vacuum and a void, the wrong people will rise up to interpret it. i think that we could have used more early on, the intelligence, the passion, the insight and perspective of barack obama on the issues and crises of race in america. >> rose: politics with mark halperin, john helleman, mark mckinnon, music with mark ronson and looking at the o bat
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am-- obama presidency with michael eric dyson when we continue. >> funding for charlie rose is provided by the following: >> and by bloomberg, a provider of multimedia news and information services worldwide. captioning sponsored by rose communications from our studios in new york city, this is charlie rose. >> so let me just start with the guy in the middle, halperin, tell me right now, right now, what of the five most important questions about the political year that we are in. >> five? >> rose: take ten. tell me what are the most
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important that you are in search of. obviously we know one of them is going to be what is going to happen when donald trump talks to paul ryan. but i'm interested in the bigger questions, in terms of what trump's strategy might be. who is he going to choose for a running mate. who is hillary going to choose for a running mate, what is her strategy going to be. does trump have a serious chance, is there a path as we've seen in recent polls which suggested in certain very crucial states they are very close. >> right, okay. thank you all for coming. five, i will do this in no particular order. i think how does donald trump make the big decisions of this campaign and to perform in the big moments. selection of running mate, convention in cleveland and the debates which will be the most watched events of all time, bigger than roada's wedding, this will be big. two is can donald trump convince people that he's ready to be
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president, qualified to be president. how many people in this room will admit in front of the group, raise your hand if you are going to vote for donald d how meaning people think there are people in this room that are secretly going to vote for trump but won't raise their hand, raise the hand. this may not be the perfect demographic to do this. it is his neighborhood. do i this question all the over the place. can donald trump be a place to go because they want chance. three, i think is can hillary clinton bees alikable as engaging as donald trump. you look at the modern history in the television age of presidential elections, what are two things that are true of everybody who has won. taller, arm's not being into prediction but by november, trump will still be taller than hillary clinton, and two, more likable. and not everybody likes donald trump but even hillary clinton, we talked in the clip there about his wedding, hillary clinton was asked why did he go to donald trump's wedding. she said he's fun to be around.
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anybody who knows him knows he's fun to be around. she will have to show the private side of her which we have seen which is more likable. four is i think does the country want change so badly that they're willing to take a risk on it, or request she convince people that stability is important. and i think the economy and president obama's approval rating. his popularity, the economy is getk a little better but if groalt is still 2%, getting a third term for the democratic party is tough. >> john, what would you add to that? >> first of all, just thank you for those extraordinarily gracious introductions. you read them just like we wrote them so-- i don't-- . >> rose: i don't think mark would have allowed me if you had any editorial control. >> i should say you read them just like a wrote them. how about that. i agree with all of those things that are really important. i think that there is two big
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questions that relate to trump. and they are can he fix the current problems that he has with two enormous and enormously important parts of the american electorate, that would be hispanic voters and women voters. right now he's disapproved of by roughly the same percentage of those two groups, like in the mid 70st. there's not a mass or a map that accommodates being disapproved of by more than half of the electorate in the case of women. and the crucial and fastest growing part of the electorate of hispanics that will allow you to be president if you are at that level of approve. i have no idea how he goes about fixing those problems. but they are very large. an potentially disqualifying. >> taco bowl didn't do it for you. >> i want to say, i want to say i enjoy a taco bowl. but i'm also not under the
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illusion it has anything to do with texas. >> rose: why is he within four percentage points of her in florida and leading her in ohio, if all of this is. >> look, this is going to be-- the election is always going to be close, some what close in america. you have a very divided country. we have seen this over the past few cycles. very polarized country, 47, 48% of republican, 47, 48% are democrats. what trump is doing is maybe a little bit surprising given that level of elite, the elite di vices of the republican party over trump. there is not as much division over republican voters, republican voters are am couldk home to donald trump as he has been named the pre-- presumptive nominee. you get a boost, you get a bump and your party starts to could a less around you. even though there are elite republicans still arguing about am i for trump, am i against trump, what can make me for trump. the voters are largely going to be satisfied with him and will come back to him. the last thing i will say, quickly, to me one of the
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biggest questions is, is this campaign going to be governed more by art or science, right. and all campaigns are about both. there's the slicing and dicing of the demographics and targeting of states and how do you win this voter group and what neighborhood-- . >> rose: sounds like the clinton campaign. >> and it was the obama campaign in 2012 and in 2008 the bush campaign, in 2004 and 2 thousand. but there is an art to campaigning. the human element, the charismatic element, the spinning of the narrative, the catching light thing in a bottle. what somebody called the art of the deal. >> certainly at least one would call it that. so that so me is a big question, right. because she has, again if you want to go to mario cu omo. poetry in prose. prose is all she knows. and you wouldn't say that trump is a poet, but he is-- . >> rose: no one would say. >> but he is a much more as mark suggests a much more dynamic, captivating figure who feels more of this moment and the
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frustrations of this moment for a lot of americans than she does necessarily right now. >> rose: if trmp is a poet, i would say his main peferred mode is the body. >> >> rose: what mario cu omo said is campaign is poetry and governing is prose. >> first i willive go you the texas version, but thank you for the introduction, which is you are pissing on my leg but it was warm and it felt good. (laughter) >> let that sink in. >> very classy state. >> yes, we're from texas. but from the front here, from the country, i am just want to back up a little bit because and talk about sort of the macro elements that are going on here, that are driving a lot of this. a few years ago, you know, as i began to look at sort of the thing that, the fundamentals of what was happening in this country, the erosion of trust among voters toward government,
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toward politicians, toward the party, and the sense of the country was headed in the wrong direction, concerned about economic future, and i went back and i said i wonder how this looks compared to 1992 when there was this character, a businessman outsider named ross per ot decided to run. i went and looked at it. what was remarkable was how much worse those numbers are today or a few years ago then they were back in 1992. and in 1992 they were bad enough that a-- this character from texas, from dallas, texas, as you recall, was leading bill clinton and george h-w bush for two months of that election. and arguably, had he been a different candidate with the same message might have won that election. so the opening for somebody to run as a businessman outsider, not beholdeen to special interests, not with a political background was enormous. >> but the fact it was done ald trump is a complete-- is a surprise. but it shouldn't be-- we shouldn't be surprised that
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somebody has captured that space of fundamental change, that is so fundamental that as mark said, they're willing to risk somebody that might be risky because they have tried everything else and they have been letdown. >> rose: what is it about trump's record in business that suggests he would be a good president. >> he brings opposing sides together. i mean he brings people that are arguing together and becomes a problem solver, that is what a lot of people want in american politics today. the other thering thing about trump is he is kind of post idea logical. is he not a very idea logical cab dat and that is where a lot of the country is. at this point i don't care if it is a democratic solution or a republican solution, i think trump is tapping into that as a businessman, a guy without says i will go in, and cut a deal. >> let's turn to the democrats, hillary clinton. bernie sanders still winning primaries. >> might be winning one as we speak. >> exactly. >> hoy do i erck-- how do you
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explain his phenomenon? >> in every other industrialized democracy there is a political party home for people who believe what he believes. we have the strange system, unlike every other one, these two centrist parties. every other one has something, social democrats, liberal democrats, whatever it is called where is you have people believe income single pair universal health care. a much more broader view for government and regulating the market, financial market. and a world view about the force overseas strks much more a strain than our republican and democratic president. >> yeah. >> free stuff as the republicans call it. and bernie sanders through discipline and strong belief and really good use of social media and television now, shows like ours have put him on, is able to reach those tens of millions of people who share those views. so. >> they don't pay him $20,000 exactly.
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>> it's a little bit of luck that he was the right guy at the right place at the right time. but the overlap much commented on by donald trump and bernie sanders, against special interests influence in our politics, against washington special interests in general, against trade deals, a belief that the system is rigged against working class people, these are strongly held beliefs and some of the longer-term trends that mark referred to are things that he has kind of road the wave of. and he's exciting. and he's authentic. >> he's exciting and awe thoan-- authentic and those are things that break through. >> three really important things. one, there was going to be a progressive challenge to hillary clinton. someone was going to do it the part that mark talked about about luck t was lucky elizabeth warren didn't fill that space, that corrie booker didn't fill that space, he was lucky that somebody with more conventional, younger, more conventionally attractive, more conventionally acceptable didn't run. that is the first thing. the secretary thing su and i
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talk about political narrative all the time. no one has told a story that is more coherence-- coherent, whether you agree with it or not, than bernie sanders story about what is-- about america. like the story of the billionaire glass, the oligarchy, the need for political revolution, for fundamental reform, his argument, and that's really all he has done is make an argument. you go to see bernie sanders on the stump, he doesn't talk about his biography, jokes, his family. he makes a critique of everything that is wrong with america and it's hangs-- . >> rose: the american establishment. >> a real worldview. and the third thing is, something mark just said, the most important thing, is that all of the things that we all thought, and i should say mark halperin and i put him on our show earlier than almost anybody and took him seriously earlier than almost anybody, but even we totally underestimated the extent to which you normally would think are problems. 74 year old, stoop should erred, jewish guy from burlington, vermont, self-described socialist, cranky, dyspeptic,
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dandruff on his shoulders, that all of that-- . >> rose: get off my lawn. >> that all of that, that all of that added up to in this age a bunch of assets because he was real. and people looked at him and said that guy has been saying that same-- for the last 40 years. he's never changed. he's-- he's never changed. he's never trimmed. he's been consistent. and that dude is not a blow dried prepackaged poll-tested politician. he's for real. and that's why kids like him. that's why-- . >> rose: can she win over that vote because they have nowhere else to go? >> mark, you know more millenials than any of us. you have got some kids. >> i think at the end of the day, the clinton campaign will drive a very strong message on policy and issues that ultimately will likely appeal to millenials. they will appeal to them on any number of issues that the matter to them and most of them ---- . >> rose: and more will go to the polls. >> that is the big question. i mean passion drives turnout
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and right now sanders is driving the passion. now there may be anti-passion against trump that drives them. it could be a neck tiff passion. >> rose: do they hate each other? secretary clinton and senator sanders? >> hate is a very strong word, charlie. >> rose: okay. do they intensely dislike each other? >> i mean she feels like look, i won this ingvar this. and yet he queeps winning primaries. >> nomination fights that go on this long tend to breed a fair amount of friks. >> rose: which is why jim baker said to george bush, get the hell out. >> yeah. i think that the friks and the intensity of the motion is nothing close to what it was between her and barack obama eight years ago. i don't think it's close. and i think putting things back together between them, their campaigns and most of their supporters in philadelphia will be substantially easier than-- . >> rose: why hasn't she picked up the phone to call him to say not so much you have to get out of the race, that is his decision, but to try to appeal to him? >> well, i think people, the candidates who are in combat
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don't talk to each other that way. she i think particularly was, you know, someone who was told to get out of the race in 2008 over and over again and she thought it was her right to fight. >> she gave him that right too. but i will say about what mark said, it is true that i think that the level of intensity and the level of bitterness is less than in 2008. but here is the truth, at the worst day in 2008, barack obama did not think hillary clinton was a corrupt crook. and bernie sanders basically thinks hillary sanders is a crook. >> rose: because she took money from goldman sax for the speech. >> that he sh she severing about the governing class that he finds corrupt and dispiptdable. not personally about her but there is an element of she represents something that he thinks is mall ian in a way that obama and clinton were basically both establishment arians, cut from the same cloth. >> rose: ivy league law schools. >> both members of the senate, et cetera, et cetera, and bernie sanders is a senator but he looks at her and thinks big money, all of the things that he critiqued are, you know,
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clintonism. rrs what is your judgement, even though we are all part of the media, what is your judgement in terms of the performance of the media so far? >> same as always, abject failure. i mean in all-- all seriousness. i think we perform our jobs as a group as poorly as any elites in society. it's harder than it's ever been for a variety of reasons. but-- . >> rose: like what? >> well, the economy is of scale are harder to achieve because our market share, even for the biggest places is smaller than it's ever been. and so you know, does "the new york times" have the same budget to file for your information act request and fight to lit gailt them then they did when they had a bigger monopoly or part of a bigger duopolly, in this market,
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no one does. so it's different to-- it's difficult to applaud the overall coverage. i will say if you are on the right side of the digital divide, you have more access to information than ever in human history. >> rose: mark ronson is here, the british producer made his name as a dj in the '90s, new york city club scene. he has since gone on to work with some of the biggest names in pop music including adele, amy winehouse and sir paul mccarth nee. his new album uptown special earned ronson two awards at this year's grammys including record of the year. time magazine writes every inch and detail of uptown special rains will real skill and intelligence. his single uptown funk has been viewed on youtube more than 1.5 billion times. here's a look at uptown funk featuring bruno mars. >> harlem, hollywood, jackson, mississippi. ♪ if we show up, we going to
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show out. ♪ too hot, hot damn ♪ caught a police and eye fireman. too hot. ♪ hot damn. ♪ make a dragon want retirement. ♪ too hold. ♪ say my name you know who i am. ♪ i'm too hot. ♪ break it down. ♪ girl hallelujah ♪ kus uptown funk don't give it to you. ♪ cuz uptown funk going to give it to you. ♪ saturday night and we in the fight. ♪ don't believe me just watch. >> rose: all right, i'm pleased to have mark ronson at this table for the first time, welcome. >> thank you very much, thank you for having me. >> rose: how do you think of yourself, producer, musician. >> producer, song require, musician and dj. djing is sort of how i became nope known in the early 2,000s playing in new york clubs. i think that they all kind of inform each other. like djing you get to see rit emand how it moves people which
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you then take into the studio, maybe where you are crafting a drum beat. the others sort of pick up along the way. >> rose: you said about uptown funk that you worked on it to within an inch of its life. >> yes. what happened with that song is it started off as a jam in bruno's studio. it was an improve vacation-- improvisational jam, bruno was on the drums, i was on the-base. and every now and then a jam is just a bunch of useless wasting time. and then sometimes you hit into a rhythm. and that one felt great. and then the difference is, i guess, with when you are starting a song, the jam is like conceiving the baby. anything is possible, you know. it's endless, like it could go this way, could go that way. >> improvisational. >> and that's fun. the sky is the limit. and then you kind of, you basically, then you get to the point six months down the line where you are like oh, crap, how do we rewrite the bridge for the
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15th time. that is basically like raising the chart. everything is fun when areou just jamming, you have the initial ideas. but when you have something that everyone in the room feels like has the potential to be great, it's a little tougher to get it to the finish line. >> rose: and what is the video done for you? >> you know, i was doing a photo shoot i think with a photographer from the associated press one day. and he said he was leaving the house and his wife said who are you going to go photograph today. and he said the white guy from the bruno mars video. so that is-- you know, bruno mars is one the great, great performer, entertainer, dancers of this whole generation. i know standing next to him, i'm not going to be pulling any crazy moves or anything. but it's been, you know, it's just been amazing to be in something that brought people a lot of joy, people seem to really love, something that we worked on and that we actually love. because sometimes you get this
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with bands, they have their biggest hit and they are like man, we hated that song. or we never new that. this is something i'm really proud of and it's crazy to see the life it's taken. >> rose: but how has it affected you? has it changed your life totally? >> no, you know, like, i-- i mean in london where i live, you know, i take the tube, i walk around, like new york i take the subway. i would-- i'm so lucky in a way that, you know, i don't have fame on the level of some of the great talented people have i worked with like adele or, you cause i can still live myuno and life. it's fine. >> rose: take those three. what is it they share? is there some common denominator? >> i think that all of those people sort of, you know, pop music sometimes can be quite like a homogenous field where it is really rare, you could have someone who is really talented, doing a bit of what everyone else is doing just a little belter and they can break into the top five. then every now and then you have
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somebody that come as long that just blows the doors off because their talent is so remarkably different or what they offer. >> rose: it touches you in such a different way. >> i think the greatest connection we have in pop music is still the human voice. there's nothing like when we hear a great vocal performance. nothing hits harder. and i think that those people all just have such a singularly great voitions-- voices, you know they mean it the minute they said it. >> rose: you said you want to capture the feelings that you remember from new york. >> yeah. i feel like coming up as a dj in new york, i was djing maybely in hip-hop clubs but obviously, like you know, r&b, disco, rock 'n' roll, this music t was kind of a magical time when i was playing. everyone remembers the stuff they were into in their early 20st and maybe it holds a special place. but that record, you know, i had-- i wrote a letter to my favorite-- michael shaiman and i thought okay, well, why can't we make music that feels good and has a groove to it but it can
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tell great stories as well. usually you think stories are the territories of the bob dylans and the people that hold guitars and stuff. so we can have a great beat that you can dance to and still put some interesting lyrics over it. so i asked him, and he wrote back and was interested. and then we took a trip to the deep south through you know new orleans, drove up to chicago. went to, you know, 30 different churches looking to discover a great young singer. and we stopped in memphis and fell in love with a studio there where al green used to work and we recorded a lot of the album there. it was just a kind of journey that i don't know, every kind of little stop along the way opened another door that we never would have happened had we stayed in new york or london or wherever. >> rose: you produced most of back to black. >> yes, i did. >> rose: amy winehouse. >> that is the record that i probably first became known for, you know. and i met amy in new york when i used to live here. i had a studio on merszer
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street. and we just hit it off right away. and i could just tell she had this-- we just clicked. and i really liked her. and we started writing the first few days. we wrote back to black and she wrote rehab and i made demos out of the songs she already had. and it just kind of happens, in two weeks we made that album. >> rose: did you see the documentary? >> i did. yeah. i saw it twice. >> rose: is it real? for for you, somebody who knew her. >> it's very real. i think they all got very tabloidy at the ind with amy and a lot of people forgot she was there because of the music and her voice, not because she was stumbling out of her house at certain hours. it is hard for me to watch some of this stuff t is about hard to anybody it watching a friend you lost. but it there is something beautiful, the celebration, how funny she was and the things that maybe other people didn't really see, i liked that. >> rose: you said that you just knew you had to work with her. >> yeah. yeah, we just started talking
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and sometimes when you meet a singer for the first time as a producer, might play them some different chords you have or tracks to see if they respond to it. but for her, i knew she was like nobody i met. so i just said go home tonight and come back in the morning. i want to write something and play for you, something, because i really wanted to impress her and have her stay over in new york. because she was originally leaving to go back to london that day. i played her the chords for back to black the song, she really liked it and she wrote the song quickly and then we just kind of-- the momentum went on from there. >> rose: what have you wanted to do that you haven't done? >> i think a lot of things. i mean i look at-- i mean i definitely, some of the things, especially because of the result of the song uptown funk, are milestones that i never, ever thought that i would achieve. and i would have been perfectly happy if i hadn't. i was on a good enough path and these ridiculous things of like playing the super bowl or
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childhood dreams of playing snl is just thing thases i never-- they wouldn't even be on my bucket list because i would say my bucket list is more grounded in reality. but i think that my heroes, people like george martin, quincy jones, you know, they have decades and decades of making great, yeah, and a legacy of great music. maybe i have a best self tone eight years of having made records that could be considered important or that people like. but i just, it's all i want to do and just get better as a producer and arranger and do that. >> this is a clip from summer breaking featuring kevin parker. it was shot entirely using smartphones. entirely. >> entirely. ♪ the sky. ♪ ♪ you get high.
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>> rose: wow. >> i mean that's amazing tow moo. >> rose: we talked about it, this notion of shooting with a smartphone. >> yeah. >> rose: we penlt is on beer. i can't remember. it is amazing. and theeo one of the director, he shoots coverage for rollingsp coming director. he said i want to do this on an iphone. i liked the idea of just doing something a bit different than everyone else. >> rose: this is you and lady gaga performing talking heads burning down the house at the met. >> oh wow. >> rose: here it is. >> also a nice. >> rose: also an iphone. hard life. ♪ you might get what you're after. ♪ cool baby. ♪ strange by not a stranger. ♪ i i'm an ordinary girl. ♪ burning down the house.
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>> rose: tell me about that. >> yeah, so i have been working for the past few months with lady gaga on her upcoming record. and you know, just kind of blown away by her talent and her voice. and i think that opportunity came they wanted us to perform a song at the afterparty for the met gala, the apple party. and she has never played guitar in public really before, she is great on the piano but guitar is something she is learning for this record. she just smashed it. she is such a fast learner and obviously as a performer, the charisma is insane so i know she could have carried in anyway. it was great. it was a very last minute thing. we got to rehearse maybe one day. and you know, it was one of those things where it could have gone every which way wrong but it just kind of came off without a hitch and it was a lot of fun. and i'm having an amazing time working with her. >> rose: what is her next album? >> well, that's kind of what we are writing and working on now. but you know, she's really like, she's kind of a-- at heart, she
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is the happiest when she is sitting at a piano barkk orders at a drummer, here are the changes, like, and that side of her, i don't think a lot of the world is seeing it. they have seen the massive pop singles and tours and dance numbers and stuff. so it's really great to make this very honest, authentic analog kind of record with her. >> rose: you worked on adele's 19. >> i did, yeah. >> rose: and 25 as well. >> and 25, yeah. she calls me every six years. i hope i get to do 31. >> rose: yeah. explain her to me. >> just another thing that the voice is just so, i guess, instant. i feel like-- i feel like for somebody who has such a sunny disposition and so warm as she is, like all the pain and the things in her voice that i don't even know, it's that passion, that emotion that just locks you in right a watch. i mean she could sing the phone book probably and we would line
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up to buy it i think that she's just, you know, she's a great songwriter. and i think also that authenticity, you know. like that's what we are missing right now. >> rose: paul mccartney. >> yeah. he is somebody that, when i was in the studi like of course your first day with paul mccartney, it is the most nervous you are ever going to be because not only is he a legend, he say better producer than you, a better musician, betser songwriter and also in the room with george martin, elvis costello, all the great producers he has already worked with. so you are just there. and he gives you a day, he knows everybody is nervous. so you get a little window of kind of like, all right, we'll let you flub a few things. and then you better kind of get over it quick and get on and be giving him sounds and making him excited about arrangement things. but mainly i learned so much from him in that time about arrangements. and the stuff he was doing with
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the beatles was so ground breaking for that time. he's still like constantly thinking about technology and how to make his stuff interesting. so it's very inspiring working with him. >> rose: why hip-hop for you? >> i guess that was just the music that i was drawn to, probably am i moved here from england when i was eight years old, in 1983. and you know, that was the era of like run dmc into dela sol and it was very much the sound of new york and growing up. that is what-- sitting on the school bus like on the way to long meets up in van courtland park, or whatever. and that was the music i was drawn to. probably because of the groove and the rhythms and the way they sample james brown and a lot of things from the 60st. then i would go on to discover my favorite kind of music. >> rose: you've always been fascinated with vinyl. >> always fascinated with vinyl. you know, because i started in the era of djk when that is what you did. you had vinyl. and i still love it. i actually don't really play them that much. but i have 5,000 records in my
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studio that i just need to see them every day to be a reminder of like where you come from. i can see a little spy and know, remember where i bought that. >> so was being a djst of perfect training ground for you? >> i think it's almost like drk dsh it's probably the closest you can get to having like a modern musicology kind of course. you learn everything about musicianship, arrangement, playing, especially if you are studying old records. and it is a good thing. there is a lot of great djst like dr. dre and people like that that went on to become producers. because it's something about the way your mind works, about putting together music. but there's also amazing producers that have never touched vinyl. so i think it's just everybody has their own kind of entrance point. >> rose: where do you think you will be ten years from now? >> or five or. >> five or ten years from now, i
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think we're kind of living in an age where all musicians, there is this giant sense of entrepreneurialism. w i want to have my app and my own line of polo shirts. for me i was kind of saying about my heroes, like quincy and george martin and people that leave a legacy of great music and are constantly studying to get better, i feel like that is really what i want to do. so i will be quite happy five or ten years from now i am still working with exciting artists. >> thank you for coming. it is great to have you here. >> a pleasure. >> thank you very much, thank you. >> back in a moment, stay with us. >> michael eric dyson is here. he is a professor of sociology at georgetown university. he's also a political analyst at msnbc. this new book is called the black presidency, barack obama and the politics of race in america. walter isaacson called it a provocative and important book on president obama and his relationship with the black community. whatever your views say, it will help you understand the complex puzzle of race. i'm pleased to have michael eric dyson back at this table. welcome.
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>> it's great to be back here. >> so you have isaacson endorsing your book. >> a couple of people like mr. ice ak sok said some very kind wordses rses i like william-- michael eric dyson account of barack obama and the politics of race, rivetting essential reading for people understanding the pit falls and trials of america's racial maiz. >> i wanted people to understand how race has been used for and against president obama since the very time he entered public office. and then to take a step back to understand how he has himself regarded race, engaged the issue, and then finally, how race has structured our understanding of him, has often pitted him in interesting ways against a narrative that suggests that we are in a post raise nir vana that he has rejected. but at the same time he has been quite hesitant to embrace the issue of race and to engage it
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as the president of the united states of america. which is a real loss to me. >> we'll talk about that. the majority of african-american opinion, celebratory about the fact that here we have the first american president who is black. >> absolutely. you know, the first time around, i think 97% of black people voted for him. the second time, 93% of those who were voting. and there is a saturday night live sketch that comes on from time to time where the black journalists are there to be objective and to examine obama. and no matter what goes on, even if he is diametrically opposed to their beliefs, the question is, he is an atheist, aren't you a christian we yns do you believe in god. >> yes. >> if he was an atheist, would you still vote for him. >> yeah, we would. so it's pretty ironclad. >> rose: but is there a general feeling that he should have done more? >> i think there is a growing feeling that he should have, and could have done more. the diehards will continue to
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deny that. but obama is protected by a class of black people who believe that no matter what he has done and no matter what he does he will be unfairly opposed and unjustly criticized. so they don't want to add on to that. they don't want to engage in any legitimate critique of the president les they fear that their words will show be joined with those obstructionists or god forbid those who are clearly racist. to criticize this president. but the problem with that, of course, is that those very black people, many of whom are christian, who believe in the bible that says if you have not for, you ask not, they didn't ask anything of this president. gay, lesbian, transgender, by sexual, as a group did, many of whom were black. environmentalists did, and other constituent-- constituency groups did but black people were loathe to say anything les they be considered traitors to this particular president. >> rose: what might they have asked for? >> well, how about addressing an unemployment rate that at its
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height was 14.3%. how about asking him-- . >> rose: he would say well, i did address that. and it's now 5% and i was reasonably successful at addressing it. >> that is the larger american public is five percent. 4.9% recently. but black unemployment is twice that, maybe 8 something right now. >> rose: he should have done with what that in what way. >> he should have ak mojed that, because number one, any president without doesn't acknowledge it, can't deal with it, so by acknowledging it as a particular problem. then you develop resources. you constitute panels as he's done. you pull together a initiative on urban america. in other words, you begin to do what presidents do. pers, to think about ways weite can strategically alleviate the suffering of that group. because he was not interested in being specific about race, obama believed for a long time in his presidency, and still does, that a risek tide lifts all boats. that if we address a problem in its universal dimensions that
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the particular elements of african-american people will show be enhanced. i think he's got it wrong. i think if you help african-american people, think, for instance, about the 1960, three, four, 64 civil rights bill where that bill has been the tell plat for anybody now who wants to come along as a minority group or an interest to say we want our fair share of the american pie. they have used that civil rights bill as the pred cat for that. so when you help black people, you help the larger american society. >> when you look at his record, in terms of speaking, speaking to him, does he fall short there? >> well, he's been pushed to do. so and when he does, &x@añi doeo brilliantly. the fact is that he gave the famous 2008 race speech in march. and then when he became-- . >> rose: this was after all the controversy about the church in chicago. >> exactly right. >> and look what she wrote himself. >> he wrote a lot of that himself. he put forth his idea about what
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america was. and he said in that speech that at its best america must engage the issue of race. but when he became president, anything but occurred. after professor henry lewis gates of harvard university had that fiasco that lead to-- at his house, arrested, the beer summit was the resolution of that. i think the president learned a wrong lesson. the lesson he learned was, you know, as the novelist said back in the 18th. 19th century, that way lies tears. we don't want to deal with that. we don't want to address the issue of race. if i deal with race, poll numbers tank, this is what his advisors suggested to him. >> unfortunately-- do you think he has not done more on race because he feared the political repercussions of it? >> he feared the political repercussions of it to be sure. which means you can be strategic about it how about since he's one of the smartest guys i think in american politics right now, why not figure out ways that you can address that issue without making a commercial. we don't need the commercial, just the product. so we don't want him to stand up and speak s-wahili and raise the
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black power sign. we want him to address consistent intelligence as he has done on other issues, this shoof the persist int enequality of arne can american people and the broader society and not to be loathe to address the issues in a serious way. >> rose: has he not spoken to the issue of black americans in prison. >> he has recently, charlie. >> rose: but he has spoken to it. >> he has. >> rose: that is what you would like to have seen early and more. >> early and more. and let me tell you why it makes w black americans were nothe informed of anything by that statement. they didn't think they were elected the president of the naacp. they knew he was the president of america. so first of all, that condescension aside, what he was trying to say is that look, i got a job to do for everybody. wait a minute, you may not be the president of black america, but you are the president of black americans. and are we not americans. >> rose: and white americans. >> we know that. because he doesn't feel it
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necessary to say that i'm not the president of white america. that is not the problem. the problem comes when african-american people who have been a distinct constituency, population, demographic book, have been marginal ietzed and now seek to be brought into the larger circumstance em of american privilege, how can we do. so and how can the president, who happens to be black, not take up the spobilityd that every other president who has occupied that office has had to do. i mean lyndon bains swron son wasn't a black man but the last time i checked, the three pilars of the great civil rights bill, the voting rights act and then in the aftermath of king's death, the fair housing act, he did something. he was motivated to do something serious. he went to howard university and delivered a great speech. >> rose: he did more for african-americans than any other president. >> any other, including lincoln. >> rose: including clinton -- lincoln. >> lbj. >> rose: he movies like selma suggest. >> selma was try totion right the spiech of-- ship of interpretation of how black people themselves were involved in their own salvation. i think that movie was great.
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but there is no question that lyndon bains johnson with all of his, you know, pickadillos and idiosyncracies was one of the greatest presidents to up that place and for african-american people. >> rose: and for the great society. >> no doubt. against poverty, trying to really lash out against the brutal forces that had reduced naryk to vast waste lands of pofer ert that dr. king spoke about. >> rose: you wanted to see barack obama more like lyndon johnson. >> i wanted him-- look, barack obama wrote one of the greatest memoirs on race in america. dreams from my father. it would be akin to michael swrord an being the president but couldn't talk about basketball. i think you're pretty good at that. so he doesn't even have to be johnson, he could be barack obama the man who is intelligent and insightful, that doesn't lash out at black people by giving condescensioning lectures at moore house to warn them in a global economy that they must get what they earn, and only
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what they earn will they get. >> rose: the moorehouse commencement speech was condescending towards. >> african-american people. and particularly those graduates who were there that day. >> rose: did they take offense. >> some of them did for sure. and many african-american people celebrated him and many african-american people were quite resentful. of a pattern here. not only at moorehouse. i was there at the congressional black caucus when he told them stop complaining. take off your bedroom slippers and put on your marching booteds. when he was knee high to i a tad poll they were out there et going their skulls cracks. people were heroic. i think there is something beautiful about this president, not only his skin but the fact that he has had a biracial experience, his mother was white from kansas, his daddy an african from kenya. he brings together the unimagine able, paradox kal opposites in american society and in one body
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unites them on those thin shoulders rests the future, some believed, of american democracy, the lamental fangt of his rise is that he is not felt safe enough, secure enough, motivated enough to address these issues until forced to. most presidents will not on their own without being forced. i don't know if the stories is-- or not but do you remember the story of fdr meeting in the white house over dinner with a philip randolph and the mary-- the great black leaders, he said i agree with all of this. go out and mike me do it. in other words, protest in the street, raise enough social raucous that i could tell the american people, what else could i do. >> should black people have put more pressure on barack obama. >> absolutely. no president will give you anything without you having some serious pressure. >> why didn't they. >> first of all, he is the first black president. you see, white brothers and sisters could be bored, andrew jackson, andrew johnson, whatever, is he, i don't know. we've got 43. when you ask who is the first african-american and the only one is barack obama. there is a proprietary consciousness about him. and a protective impulse toward him. a mothering of him, a fathering
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of him, a brothering of him. and people who reached out to him as families. so that kind of bond of kinship made it very difficult for black people to go but you know what, beyond all that, if he is not doing anything in substantive political fashion for african-american people, the symbolic representation of his ascent will be in one sense mitigated by the fact that he didn't do anything in a concrete way to address its things that he knew so well. when he finally began to speak about police brutality was beautiful, but initially he was giving us law and order. >> rose: you said he could have been my son. >> he said that after he cass forced to say that, encouraged to say that. after he delivered-- . >> rose: you don't think his instinct is to speak without fear of drk drk. >> fear of wielt america, fear about white reprisal, a fear about what might happen, the misinterpretation that would occur. and also his reluctance and reticence is fed by a genuine understanding that america is
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often a racial powder keg and he doesn't want to explode it. but i think this. i do not blame barack obama for what we see going on in 2016 with donald trump. but i will say this, race will be interpreted in america. if you leave a vacuum and a void, the wrong people will rise up to interpret it. i think that we could have used more early on, the intelligence, the passion, the insight and perspective of barack obama on the issues and crises of race in america. >> rose:-- has been saying this for a long time as well. >> uh-huh. yes, tabis an his exait yot corner, who have been quite vicious and bitter. -- colonel west to me has been engaging in personal rereit upperation, a nasdaqiness, a unexplained animus toward the president that is personal and uncomfortable in terms of vy len imagination toward him. i am talking about principalled
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criticism, loving yit civil, even the legitimate criticism that some of the critics have including west might have got enthrough had they not couched it in such bitter nasty terms. have i nothing to do with that. but what i have to say is that principled criticism of the president is a healthy reflex of any population much any country, without which-- we get left on the side. >> rose: he perceived it on his foreign policy. >> he has. >> rose: he has received it on some of his economic policy. >> so you are making my point for me. why is it that that criticism-- . >> rose: i'm trying. >> why is it that that criticism can't be had on the issue of race because there is some internal racial dynamics. >> rose: you have said that bill clinton had a bad policy with respect to african-americans. >> uh-huh. >> rose: barack obama has no policy. >> right. >> rose: and i remind you toni morrison said that bill clinton was the first black president. >> right. and she mentd the way he was treated. not the substance of his ideas. not the contented of his vision or perspective. what she meant was they treat him like they treat the average
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brother on the street. they disrespectful to him. they are dismissive of him. and i think that look, bill clinton had more permission to be black in public than barack obama does. barack obama couldn't play the sax phone on a late night show. he couldn't engage in some of the ritual. >> rose: he couldn't? >> no, not without -- not without being you know, are you stereotyping. are you engaging-- stereo typical behavior. >> rose: i think he probably could and it would be applauded. >> i think, look, i think that, my point is that i'm using that as a metaphor. >> rose: he could sing al green. >> he can sing al green at the apollo, certainly, among the people who were there. that constituency or amazing grace at the church. but i'm saying, when i say permission to be black in public, i'm talking about, the way obama is blackest, aside from that remarkable sermon he delivered and u lodge-- eulogy and note worthy places in charleston s when he goes to the white house correspondent dinners and he significant fies his blackness in a way radiates from the heart of his blackness in a way that he is rarely able
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to do, and it's a beautiful act of signifying and code switching. >> rose: which is comedy. >> which is comedy. that is the way he can do it. through humor he can significant fie who he is. his blackness has to be med yaited through a forum that is already set up to knee that what we are doing here is humorous and comedic. >> rose: do the majority, would you say that the majority of black america believes what you believe. >> absolutely not. >> rose: do not. >> no, no, pointeau head intellectuals like me we do not only intellectuals but some of the culture critics who vn been saying this and ak vises who have been saying look, we have been asking this president, engaging this president, and we don't get any purhase. we don't get any serious response. we get lectures, we get condescension. we get after we forced a kind of a serious engagement, yes, the president will occasionally speak to these issues. he went to the u.k. recently. and could not help but remondaystraight about black lives matter. he acknowledged the good. he said you can't just yell at
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people. i don't deny what he said is true. but what is interestingk, he placed the gay and lesbian activists but i know larry kraimenter acted up. there was a lot of stuff that gay lesbian and transgender people did to get the attention of america, and american presidents. so i think that obama again feels boxed in. he was loathe to speak about race early on because he didn't want to be blackened like cat fish. he wanted to be free to breathe the air of the american presidency but here is the irony. every president before you has had to deal with the issue of race. you cannot be exempt from addressing that issue as well. >> rose: i'm sure he would say to you, i have not failed to speak out. i am telling you what he would say. i have not failed to speak out when i thought it was necessary to speak out, in terms of all of thoses cases in which we have had police violence. >> he would. and when i talk to him. >> rose: and he would say that, in terms of prisons, he with say that in terms of unemployment. >> right. >> rose: he would say all that. >> i will say what he said to
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. i don't have to hypothesize. when i am the white house-- . >> rose: i hear you. >> this is what he said. he said i told him i said you know, i disagree. to his credit he is not thin skinned as many of his followers are. i said sir, when you go to the emergency ward, if you have a hangnail you get aspirin. if you have diabetes you get insulin. if you have cancer you get chemotherapy. there is no such thing as medicine, it is medicine targeted toward an ill. public policies like medicines work best when they are targeted to the ills they are meant to relieve. your approach to me, with all due respect, suggests that this universal concept shun of how we can help african-american people is lacking. he said to me, i preecialt you. thank you for sharing that. i disagree. i stick with the belief that when we help everybody those who are at the bottom and those who are most vulnerable will be helped as well. so we have a philosophical difference though our end goal is the same, to help. and i think that he
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without-- when i press him on the reluctance to speak, i think he would acknowledge that he had to build up a head of steam. that he looked for places to pick and choose where he could speak about race and i think he felt that he did some wrong things there. his attorney general eric holder not a month in office said that we arary a nation of could you ards, obama immediately came along and snagged that he-- signaled that he wasn't playing stars key and hutch good cop bad cop. he said if i were my attorney general i would not have said st that way. we know that, you're the president. he's the attorney general, can you two work together to figure out a way to emphasize both approaches to the issue of race. and early on, i think he failed to do that. >> the black presidency barack obama and the politics of race in america. michael eric dyson. thank you. >> thank you, sir. >> rose: thank you for joining us. see you next time. >> for more about this program and earlier episodes visit us online at and charlie #r
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