S1: This ad free podcast is part of your Slate Plus membership.
S2: Hello and welcome to the Slate Political Gabfest for September 26 2019.
S3: I would like you to do us a favor Ed.. How could it be titled in any other way. I am DAVID PLOTZ About with Obscura. I’m here in Slate DC.
S4: John Dickerson of CBS 60 Minutes joins me from CBS his radio studio. Hello.
S5: John good morning. How are you.
S6: Well that’s like a super 60 Minutes a portentous CBS newsy voice. You can do better than Barack you can be a casual casual Dickerson. Emily is absent this week. But that’s OK. No worries we have Kirsten Powers who is of course a CNN political analyst and USA Today columnist and and frequent gab fest host sub host in although Pierson I realize we’ve never met so you’ve never Palin you’ve always said for me apparently.
S7: I think where we I think maybe we’re were when we were on we’re in another place so I only saw you far away. Yes. I’m very happy to be sitting here.
S6: Well she’s now she’s now in Washington. We are sharing an extremely humid and hot studio but we’re both wearing very short sleeves very summer class. So it’s OK on today’s cap vest. Well guess what we’re talking about. We’re into a double dose of Ukraine and impeachment for a first thing that we’ll talk about the substance of what’s happening in this incredible Ukraine affair that is breaking instantly breaking as we speak. And then the second part of that discussion we’ve got the politics of impeachment to Nancy Pelosi’s move to start an impeachment inquiry and then further topic we will talk to Jodi Kantor the co-author of she said the incredible new book about her and make into his investigation of the Weinstein affair and the ME2 movement. Plus we will have cocktail chatter the Ukraine whistleblower scandal is moving so fast and so so sinuous Lee. The facts may have changed dramatically by the time you hear this. As we tape man as we tape I think the DNI the acting DNI Acting Director of National Intelligence is testifying before the House. This morning the House released the whistleblower complaint which I think Kirsten you have print is that I didn’t have it printed out in front of you yesterday. God was only yesterday the White House released a sort of transcript or quasi description of the July 25th call between President Trump and Ukrainian President Vladimir Vladimir. I don’t know. I mean I’m just gonna mangle it. Vladimir Zelinsky in which Trump pressured the Ukrainian to start an investigation about whether Joe Biden had interfered in Ukrainian legal matters to protect his own son and urged Zelinsky to confer with the attorney general and his personal attorney Rudy Giuliani.
S8: Giuliani about this that call the whistleblower complaint that goes into how that call was covered up. It all has echoes of mob shakedown. And of course there’s the mystery of this President Trump freezing 391 million dollars and a that Congress had had specified for Ukraine. And the reason he froze that aid is not yet clear anyway. There’s so much happening so much so much so much so much happening here it. I hesitate to to ask you to characterize this but insofar as you can see this landscape right now what is scandalous about what’s happening and what isn’t not necessarily what is impeachable what is scandalous.
S9: There’s a lot that’s scandalous about it. I think that first of all it’s never happened where you have a president going to a foreign government asking them to do an investigation to help you get re-elected. And and really blackmailing them right using foreign policy a foreign aid to them which there’s really no other reason you would withhold that aid at this point. I mean the whole point of it is to try and help them protect themselves against Russian aggression.
S10: So surprise surprise also Donald Trump did something that helps Russia. So there’s there’s just that is almost interestingly a side story of this. And then for him to have done this the the lying about it in the press conference yesterday and but now on the whistleblower whistleblower report we find out that they actually went out of their way to cover this up. So they they went out of their way to take the notes from the that the call and put them somewhere where they wouldn’t be found basically. So if you’re not doing anything wrong why or why are you covering it up. And so I think that it’s I’m actually not somebody who’s prone to hyperbole or getting over overly outraged even during the investigation over the Russian collusion. I was always a little dubious that they were going to find any kind of smoking gun. There is a smoking gun here even without the whistleblower whistleblower report. Rudy Giuliani has already said publicly that this was what he was doing. They were strong arming the Ukrainians to investigate something and then the last thing I would say about it is what makes it even more scandalous is that Biden didn’t ever do the thing that they claim that he did and that they want investigated and nobody who has even read for five minutes about this thinks that he did.
S11: John I mean if you want to answer that same question I answered Why do you. My question is sort of why do you think that’s captured the imagination of Democrats in a presidential critics so quickly.
S12: Well the tender was in the it was in the field which is to say there was already pressure on the House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to do something. She was and this is pre Ukraine. This is just based on the president already and she was doing a pretty good job recognizing that the country is not made up of the same political makeup as the Democratic caucus. One of the things we’ve seen just from a straight up political standpoint I know we’ll talk about that in the second section but is the movement of a lot of Democrats in the House who are in purple districts or districts that are that are more politically risky than the safest ones. So that gives you some sense of how the political landscape has changed.
S13: But I think that one of the things is that this all happened quickly. It’s quite easy to understand it’s quite cinematic. And there is a summary of a phone call that is pretty close to a transcript and so you have a lot of elements here. And by the way this the president is at center stage in the collusion matter.
S14: It was always it was always the president who is at the center stage of the obstruction question but not collusion and and the obstruction question was kind of fuzzy it up by. Well he you know this is a guy who’s new to politics he doesn’t know about all these funny norms and all of this. This phone conversation happens a day after Robert Mueller testifies. So among the many things about this story is that it’s a failure of near miss learning near miss learning is when you almost crashed your car and then realize I’m going to put my phone down and not check it while I’m driving here the president after a two year investigation into whether there was any foreign influence in an election solicited by his campaign is then on a phone call in which that seems to be what he’s doing. And just to go take listeners through if they haven’t read the transcript the president starts out this conversation by saying the United States has been very good to Ukraine. I wouldn’t say that it’s reciprocal necessarily. OK. So he raises the idea that the United States has been much better than Europe in helping Ukraine but it hasn’t been reciprocal. The president of Ukraine who is very well versed and briefed in ways to kiss up to President Trump including using his same language and all of that asks for some additional missiles and military help and the president instead of talking on this phone call about anything having to do with the principal issues of national interest. Which of which there are several. And with respect to Ukraine and if you want to read about them the Director of National Intelligence has put a threat assessment together of the threats facing United States there’s a big chunk in there on Ukraine. None of that gets discussed. Instead the president goes right to two things one the question of a server that might be in Ukraine which is related to the Clinton election 2016 and then and then Joe Biden. And so he basically says this relationship is not reciprocal. And then names two things he’d like to have the president of Ukraine take care of for him. And then finally I think it’s worth going back to this idea of of a cover up as Pearson said a lot of the original defense of the president was including the president’s own defense of himself was oh there’s a perfectly fine phone call nothing wrong with this. That’s why we can release the transcript but if the White House officials and there were apparently according to the whistle blower report maybe a dozen on the call. If they if it was such a non you know a nothing burger of a phone call Why did they get so concerned as the whistleblower tells us about the call and then try to basically hide it. This is before this is ever public. Nobody knows about the call in other words not to hide something that has burst open and has become a political thing. But this is after the call takes place and nobody knows about it. They think it’s so bad that they have to put it in this system about which we’re learning now which is some kind of extra special system not for national security purposes based on what we know so far but basically to disappear things that the president has said on some of these foreign calls that are a problem and we don’t know the nature of the problem but we know that the whistleblowers said in the beginning of the complaint that the concern is the president is using the power of his office to solicit interference from a foreign country in the 2020 U.S. election.
S8: Right. I want to point out one important thing is we refer to it perhaps during this conversation is the transcript. This is not a transcript there may well be things that are that are missing here. And and this this way may well be bold arised in a way that is beneficial to the president so let’s not let’s also not take this as being hard to see hard to see how it could be worse.
S15: Hard to see how it could be good for me. It’s pretty good that the summary of the phone call is pretty awful.
S8: Well they could have cut stuff out of it. One thing that that I just want to connect this to. There is also this letter from the New York Times A.G. Sulzberger this week about ways in which the administration had made the life of the press difficult and there is an example which is it’s kind of eerily parallel here which was the Times got wind that the Egyptian government was going to arrest a Times reporter in Egypt. The Times sort of tried to bring this to the attention of the Trump administration Trump demonstration didn’t care administration in fact was in effectively encouraging the Egyptian government to arrest a American reporter working in Egypt American reporter working for an American newspaper. Another example of this administration colluding with a foreign government against what they perceived to be political opponents. And that’s genuinely genuinely chilling. It’s genuinely disturbing the idea that you would you would as the president of United States as the administration not seek to protect American lives American interests even if they’re people who are who might be your opponent and instead work with nasty foreign governments this is awful the actions that are inspired by the impulsiveness or the signal sent from the president this this process of of what we’re learning about this covering up and putting into these secure servers is created by the behavior of the president.
S12: So you have people acting on the things that he does you see the contagion I guess is the. In other words that a lot of the defense of the president over the course of his time has been well these are his idiosyncrasies and they exist kind of only in him but the institution around him is off doing. You know basically the country’s business what what is at issue here is a whole system that is created to basically cover up for at least what we’re learning now those those problems and carrying out in Egypt and other places the president’s wishes.
S8: PEARSON One odd aspect of what’s going on here is is Rudy Giuliani is the president’s personal lawyer. He is not anyone who has been appointed to any office not confirmed by the Senate. He is the president’s personal lawyer and there’s this commingling of the president’s personal legal interests and personal financial interests and personal interests and being re-elected and the public interest and that it appears from a story I remember the supposed story or time story now that there was this shadow foreign policy that that Giuliani was helping to orchestrate against the interest of the National Security Council against John Bolton who was sidelined from this against the entire State Department being sidelined the ambassador to Ukraine being sidelined and that you have effectively Giuliani acting as the president’s lawyer counsel Gary carrying out a foreign policy and the the people who have been designated by the various you know by the administration officially to carry out that foreign policy emasculated from it. What do you make of it.
S10: Well yes I mean and that’s something that has caused a lot of concern and that’s also in the whistleblower report that there is this concern about this freelancing and I do. I you know Giuliani technically is his lawyer and putting that kind of an air quotes because he’s really not lawyering right. He is he is a political hit man for Donald Trump and he just basically goes around to sort of trying to do his bidding politically. And so I think that they have inserted political interests in place of what the national interest would be the whole idea of what they’re asking Ukraine to do which is to investigate Joe Biden for something that didn’t happen and it’s basically the idea is that somehow he was protecting his son from investigation when in fact what he was doing was the opposite. He was basically trying to get a prosecutor fired who wasn’t prosecuting. And so it’s the opposite is which makes me wonder are they just asking Ukraine to manufacture information because if they were to go forward and look into what he’s asking them to look into they know perfectly well that the prosecutor that Biden was complaining about wasn’t prosecuting anybody that was the problem. So that’s what I feel like they’re doing. I feel like they’re basically putting on Ukraine to say like you need to come up with some information that’s going to help me get re-elected in the same way they want the Ukraine to somehow you know convince everybody that they were the ones that were meddling in our election and not Russia.
S11: Before we move on to impeachment John I just want to turn back to the transcript or the quote unquote transcript of the phone call and one of the things that you hear from some of the Republican defenders of the president right now is is oh there is no quid pro quo here why is that. Is that a reasonable standard is that true or is that just a that’s just a very convenient way to read something where there’s obviously a quid pro quo happening it’s just not it’s just not spoken explicitly like here’s what you’re going to do. Corruptly so that I’m going to get this criminal benefit.
S13: Yeah. Well you know the idea of the quid pro quo. First of all it doesn’t have to be a quid pro quo. Impeachment is shaped by the articles they choose in the debate. And while it’s got legal aspects in the Senate it is obviously there’s politics and there’s there’s some greyness here so but it needn’t be the case that the president says if you do this I will do that. But what he does is pretty close to that anyway by saying we’ve given you a lot. The relationship hasn’t been reciprocal I’d like to ask you a favor. I mean that’s his bout is usually the people are more clever than that. That’s actually quite clumsy and it reminds me of the the quote attributed to Henry the second with respect with respect to getting rid of Thomas Becket and one of the versions of that quote comes is Will none of these lazy insignificant persons whom I maintain deliver me from this turbulent priest. And the reason I like that better than the usual one which is Will no one rid me of this turbulent priest is that it contains that idea of these people around me whom I maintain. In other words who I give you all these things too and there’s no reciprocity which is exactly what’s in this in this phone call. But I think more to the point I mean the president whose key job is national security. This is not in the national security interest in the United States. He’s putting his personal lawyer who is not elected by anyone or even confirmed by any body of elected people in on this. This job. The attempted use of his prior of his office for private gain is seems to me to be sufficient. But now you’ve got this question of whether there were others in the White House and again I’m struck that the whistles whistleblower says there were a dozen other people and the whistleblower report it should be remembered was put together by without firsthand listening to the summary of the phone call. Why is that important. It tracks with the actual summary of the phone call which the whistleblower has not seen which means the whistleblower was in contact with enough people that the whistleblower could put together an accurate description of what took place on the phone with. Which means a lot of other people know that this exists which means there are other people who can testify to the president doing this and not only testifying to doing it but to their concerns people who work inside the White House not Democratic hacks to their concerns that he was doing precisely what the whistleblowers concerned with him doing and as a result went then and took these cover up measures. There’s plenty here without there having to be the kind of quid pro quo that would that would never really happen probably in real life anyway.
S8: Slate Plus members you get bonus segments on the gab fest and other Slate podcasts and today if you’ve got a slate that complex gab fest plus and you become a member today you’ll get to listen to our segment on Reddit tune Berg. The 16 year old Scandinavian climate activist why does she make so many people so angry and also why is she so wonderful and mesmerizing. We’ll talk about her inflate. Plus let’s turn to the politics of the Ukraine scandal. So on Tuesday afternoon House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced that she would or that the House would open an impeachment inquiry something she had long resisted. There is now according to various counts done by various media outlets. There is a majority of House members who support this inquiry which is not surprising there’s a House Democratic majority no Republicans seem to report it. The Senate which would have to convict the president if if he were impeached by the House is of course still controlled by Republicans does not seem likely at this moment that that could be removed from office by Mitch McConnell controlled Senate. But I guess stranger things have happened. I can’t really think of them but perhaps here’s what made Nancy Pelosi change her mind. Why did this affair break the camel’s back after so many other straws had been piled on that poor camel.
S9: I think because the moderate members that she was trying to protect basically came out and said we want to move forward with impeachment. And so I think that I think that that hurt her concern always has been protecting her majority. Right.
S8: Why did they want one the moderate members changed their mind.
S9: Well they say they changed their mind because this is what they were sent to do. You know it is to stand up and protect the Constitution and the rule of law. And I think that this is a more open and shut case it’s a less confusing case and it’s. And I think the looking at the the Russia investigation you know there wasn’t there was just was a lot of disagreement in the Democratic caucus about whether or not this rose to the level of impeachment and even if it did that it would probably harm Democrats. Right. If they went ahead with it I think that this is so open and shut and so obvious that it would be almost impossible for Democrats to look away and not do something about this.
S8: John at the moment the polling suggests that the American public at least is not particularly interested in impeachment. I think there’s a fairly strong I like for 37 to 57 against polling numbers about impeachment. Do you think that is that’s an artifact of these polls don’t really take into account what’s happened with Ukraine or do you think that that reflects kind of a public that just doesn’t want to decide things this way and would rather just not have to think about this and get get to an election maybe.
S12: I think probably but I think both and also a all of public that’s worried about other things in their lives and and puts this in the category in part because there’s been so much both real and hysterical coverage of the last two and a half years that there’s there’s a fatigue and also a kind of like Wake me when this resolves feeling out there. So I think there’s probably a mix of of things. And also you haven’t had this has followed up though the though we should you know it’s absolutely clear as everything we’ve said points out that this is new and extraordinary and different from the past. However anybody who’s not paying attention to it too closely hasn’t seen the kind of things to make it to distinguish it particularly in other words. Yes you have more Democrats were in favor of impeachment but that’s not surprising. What you don’t yet have in this is Republicans who are not rallying around the president. There’s a lot of rallying around the president. You’ve had a few comments by you know Mitt Romney says this is troubling in the extreme but essentially this is sorting roughly along the lines of all the previous things that have never happened before. And so for anybody who’s who’s not paying super close attention they’re not yet seeing a charismatic dissenter from the Republican Party say we should go forward with impeachment and here’s why or anything that really breaks the traditional way of sorting these things.
S10: I also think that there was sort of an argument before that an election was coming up and so therefore rather than impeaching you let you let the American people decide what this is showing is that that Donald Trump is taking steps to impede that election. Right. So that does change the dynamics a little bit. Whereas before it wasn’t as cut and dry. There were these accusations but it wasn’t it wasn’t just right there for everybody to see.
S11: That’s an excellent point. Do you think Kirsten that Trump wants to be impeached. Ross Douthat had an interesting column about this. And I think that the case I’ll just lay out the case for why he might want to impeach one is that it has Democrats doing something with basically at the moment unpopular rather than doing things that are popular like focusing on some sort of protection of health care or raising the minimum wage or or other things that that the public might be excited about. Another is that he loves the circus. He just he’s been at the center of attention. He just thrives on being at the center of attention. And then third I think maybe he just priced in the idea that the actually it’s always a mistake to attribute any kind of long term thinking to Trump but that he might recognize that the half life of all this stuff is so short these days that that even if today we’re thinking about you know this is the hugest story. He will surely be impeached that by next week. It will be overshadowed by some other nonsense.
S10: Yeah. So the way I thought this immediately actually what I what I don’t know is is this conscious or unconscious. But he has some sort of desire and it could be entirely unconscious to to to a always be the victim always be being persecuted by the big mean Democrats because that really resonates with his base as well because there is there’s a sense of agreement. Right the Democrats are persecuting us because we’re Christians the Democrats don’t like us because we’re conservative. All this kind of agreed meant politics and so it definitely feeds into that. I also don’t think that Donald Trump’s functions very well in an ordered society. He needs it to be disordered. Right. And so he loses if it’s ordered. And so he has to create chaos and as all demagogues do. And so I again. And whether it’s conscious or unconscious I can’t say I just know that he is driven to do this and that on some level yeah he wants to be able to say oh look at Democrats they can’t do anything they just are driven by hate. They’re just coming after me them and the fake media and that’s sort of a storyline that works well for him. And and people say well he should just be running on the fact that the economy’s good or whatever other accomplishments he allegedly has. It’s like obviously he doesn’t think that that’s how he can win. He thinks he can win by acting like this.
S12: Here’s where we have where he faces a challenge is that that portion of his electorate from last time who didn’t like Hillary Clinton and thought they’d rolled the dice on him suburban suburban women Republican women in particular are not. If somebody like John Bolton comes forward and says Yes we couldn’t get our Ukraine policy off the ground because of this fixation the president had on on the Bidens or some other person comes forward who is in the traditional Republican Party who is not an ever jumper necessarily but if this with the process of bringing witnesses forward with the process of of you know John Kelly still out there John Kelly remember when he left the office said someday the world will.
S14: He didn’t say exactly this but he talked about all the things he kept the president from doing. Is that the kind of material that’s in this secret server by the way one should stop and meditate for a moment on the fact that it appears there is a White House it’s kind of off the books server in which some of these conversations were disappeared after we just had an election in which still at Hillary Clinton’s server was such a big deal.
S12: But I think there are other people out there who the portion of the Republican electorate that’s not in the president’s most base of bases that could appeal to them on national security grounds which is separate and apart from the usual Democratic kind of being baited by the president falling into the trap that we’ve seen in previous scandals from the administration. One of the things that has me.
S4: Puzzled is from a I think from a Washington perspective what’s going on. What we’ve learned so far is truly truly disturbing.
S1: You have the manipulation of the political system you have this file the president using using the power of his office to to bully a valued ally for personal gain in order to distort the upcoming election. You have the abuse of an ally in a disturbing way. You have the undermining of Congress. Congress has allocated this three hundred ninety one billion dollars for Ukraine and the administration has decided not to give it in order to to get some sort of advantage for itself which as a member of Congress I would be really peeved if that happened that I’ve done something and then the administration is preventing it so I can understand why this would be extremely unnerving. If you are Abigail Spann Berger and your moderate House Democrat or your you’re Mitt Romney and your Republican senator in this sort of destruction of the legislative power and this undermining of the principle the basic integrity of the of the system. But are Americans in general going to be actually interested in this. I don’t know. I’m worried about that.
S10: Well I think it’s historical analogies only go so far just because our world has changed so much. But if you look at Watergate most people really weren’t that interested in it until they had the smoking gun. And then you start to see people you know in the tapes basically came out. Then you started to see people shift a little bit so that so the argument I think for Democrats has always been you do the investigation and you have to bring people along right that you’d like out of the gate they’re probably not going to be that interested.
S1: But the other the other part of that next I mentioned both of your takes on this because you’re both such members of your deeply card carrying members of the media. There is a partisan media today that there wasn’t really during Watergate. And there is a counter narrative that will unless Fox somehow has some bizarre change of heart not going to happen. It’s not going to happen. There will always be a story a countervailing story that people who want to support the president are always gonna be able to hang their hat on. And so I’m not sure that the ability to move significant chunks of of conservative America or even any chunk of conservative America or any conservative senator exists in this in this media environment and therefore I’m not sure that you can project what happened in Watergate happening here right.
S10: And I think that that’s to John’s point which is I don’t think he would move conservatives. I think he would move the voters the Democrats would move the voters potentially John was talking about.
S12: Right. Different from our Watergate. We don’t we have a re-election coming here that Nixon didn’t face. Nixon already been re-elected. So. So the one thing is whether impeachment goes. You know we as First we have to have actual vote on articles and all the rest and has to get to the Senate. So a lot will happen between now and then. But then you know that doesn’t happen. This has a political effect. And the political effect may just be if it was for a certain kind of Republican voter I love what he did on taxes I love what he did on judges he has changed the culture of America for 40 years locked that in. Wow.
S13: That’s fantastic. And a lot of regulations are now gone. He’s done good work. Let’s send him to his retirement. We don’t necessarily need four more years of this. He’s gone. He’s done good irrevocable work. That can’t be fixed by a new even Democratic president. So I think that that’s a possibility for a certain number of Republican voters. With respect to impeachment if we play up the drama a little bit more everything you say David about the power of the Republican base which participates in primaries that can really kick Republican senators out of office. You do have some people who are retiring Lamar Alexander is retiring. You do have Mitt Romney who is a long way from an election and is a little bit more encased in protection from the base of the party. So you and then you could probably get to the three or four that you would need. I think the calculation for other Republicans if we if this goes down the road and continues to be real as opposed to a fever dream other Republicans then have to somebody like Ben Sasse for example who’s been critical of the president has to make a determination whether in the end this is going to get so bad that you will for him all time be associated with not standing up to something. Now on the other you know on the other hand let’s say goes the other way and you stood by the president when everybody was calling for his head and it turned out to be nothing. Well that’s that’s a route to glory too. But in this scenario that I’m playing out it gets all the way to the Senate and seems legitimate. You have to have you can imagine one or two and it doesn’t get a lot of Republican senators saying for all time I want to be on the right side of this story. Again that’s under the theory that this is you know continues to be very bad for the president.
S11: One of the things that that I’m interested in is we’ve had administration and one of the things that some people think the president should be impeached for that has resisted at every turn turning over documents allowing people testify they have prevented investigations prevented testimony from the House Democrats. And now if there is an impeachment inquiry there will be significant demands for I don’t know if they’ll be demands for tax returns but there would be demands that that officials testify and the documents be turned over and so far this administration has refused to do it. How do you think that might play out. I mean are they going to continue to hide everything behind this national security cloak will they get away with it is the Supreme Court going to involve itself with the Supreme Court ever ever give the Congress the benefit of the doubt here. What do you think.
S9: I mean I assume it’s going to continue to play out the way that it has played out in that the administration is going to make things as difficult as possible and when they do testify it’ll be the way Corey Lewandowski testified where it just turns it into a circus. And and it makes it look like a partisan event. That’s the risk of impeachment of an impeachment inquiry is that it just does that that Trump people do what they always do which is they turn everything into a circus sense into the chaos and make it seem more partisan than it is. Look I’m not saying Democrats aren’t acting out of partisan interests but I do think that there is a sincere concern about this and that I really do believe any person who’s just being objective and stepping back and looking at this and being honest and checking their you know Republican credentials at the door you know this is something that has to be dealt with this is something has to be addressed this cannot be something that is normalized and that we now say presidents can do these kinds of things John.
S4: I’m going to give you the last question on this which is do you think there is any way this investigation this impeachment inquiry can be carried out that will be not entirely partisan.
S15: Not unless and based on based on the the the early questioning of DNI Maguire it looks like it’s everybody’s playing to type and and so the answer your question is no it’ll be it’ll be totally partisan. I do. I do think again we just everybody has to wait for whether there will be any charismatic dissenters. You know the role that Margaret Chase Smith played or that Barry Goldwater played or that Hugh Scott played during the Watergate era where you had Republican senators again as you pointed out before. Not only is there a is there a media arm that didn’t exist with Nixon but you also have the parties have gotten a lot more polarized and a lot more conservative than they used to be. And so structurally you don’t even have really moderate Republicans in any kind of possible way. And you also don’t have to kind of break from the mold conservatives that way you had with Goldwater some people say that’s a good thing. With respect to the Civil Rights Act but also with respect to Nixon it’s a it’s helped push the impeachment thing along. So I think the only way that it wouldn’t go to its normal partisan sorting is if you have some Republican who is not you know of some stature say this is real this is serious.
S16: And and we’ll have to see if that happens in 2017 Jodi Kantor and Meghan to give the New York Times broke one of the most important stories of our time. Their investigation into Harvey Weinstein sexual misbehavior assault harassment intimidation toppled Weinstein and then opened the floodgates to charges of sexual misbehavior across many industries leveled at many men leading to the ME2 movement and the fall of men like Louis C.K. and Matt Lauer. Now Kanter and we have written she said an account of Weinstein’s misdeeds but also in fact much more so on account of how they got the story of those misdeeds by relentlessly finding women to talk and money to follow. And now we are joined in Brooklyn by Jodi Kantor investigative reporter at The Times. And I’m very proud to say former Slate colleague Hello Jody and congratulations. Thank you so much. So there’s so much to talk about in this book which is a great book and people should totally get read get out and buy it and read it. But one of the things that’s most shocking to me and she said it’s not necessarily the grotesque ness of Weinstein which we all now know about and processed but the incredible number of kind of collaborators he had in every place in every way. Why now as you look back over it why were there so many lawyers and partners and employees and other people so happy to be his collaborators and do you think that’s something that will change in the future while other powerful people have that same level of protection that he’s had.
S17: So before we answer I just want to say how thrilled I am to be here because in particular of the Slate connection what I what I have to disclose to gab fest writers is that about 20 years ago I was not a distinguished investigative journalist. I was a very unhappy law school student and I wanted to see if I could get into journalism but I didn’t know if I could do it it seemed very narcissistic to think that I could be the one writing or editing the stories. But I had a friend Frank for who put me in touch with you David and I wrote you kind of this I wrote you and your wife Hannah had this sort of beseeching email from my from my little apartment in Cambridge. And lo and behold you took a chance on me and I became a Slate editorial assistant which is what led me to becoming a reporter at The Times. And so I just feel very indebted to you permanently and very excited to be here.
S16: All right. All right. I’m going to say thank you to that and then I’m actually just going to go back at you for one second. Well I thought the mutual love fest here which is that Jodi had a remarkable quality in those of you who are young journalists or young anything which is a Jodi was and you can see this in her work today. She would come to me with 10 ideas and 10 of them would be bad and I would just send tell her there were 10 ideas and then like two hours later she’d be back with 12 ideas and 11 of them would be bad and then she’d go do the one that wasn’t bad and it would be amazing. And she was a kind of relentlessness and get back up at it. That is incredible that you see in this book anyway. Now you can answer the question.
S17: So to answer your question I think the hardest part of the big question who protected the women and who protected Harvey Weinstein and that’s part of why we wanted to write the book there were really two reasons One is to take you behind the scenes of these events that on the one hand had come to mean so much to so many people. But on the other hand we knew that the true story of what happened was still in many ways secret. And so that’s why we spent a year getting all of this off the record information onto the record and and reconstructing the whole thing so that we could really bring you there with us. But the second reason is the reason you name because there were these in the moral disaster that is the Weinstein story there were so many lessons left for the rest of us. You know when you ask your question the figure who really comes to mind is Bob Weinstein who is Harvey Weinstein’s brother. And not just his brother but a co-founder of his companies and kind of his lifelong business partner Bob Weinstein participated very significantly in the book he gave Meg and my partner a bunch of interviews and. And the question that sort of hovered over those interviews was was why why didn’t you do more. And he had a variety of explanations including the fact that he had this history that he had never discussed publicly of substance abuse and he talked about the fact that he saw his brother’s behavior through the the realm of addiction. Bob Weinstein in in kicking his own alcoholism had become kind of committed to this 12 step view of the world in which you say I can’t change anybody else’s behavior I can only change my own which he used. I think as a as sort of disastrous excuse to ignore his brother’s own behavior. But the reason why Bob Weinstein is so interesting is because of that question it poses to the rest of us what do we do in the workplace when we see wrongdoing. What if we don’t actually see it. What if it’s more like a rumor. What kind of choices are we going to make and who are we going to try to help.
S10: That’s a great segway into what I want to ask you about which is we’ve had this big movement and you and Megan are national treasures and all the work that you have done and there’s been so many changes in a very short period of time. What I do wonder about is has it changed enough where people feel comfortable doing exactly what you just said. If you are a person who brings up this kind of information within a company or you go public or you’re a woman who you know wants to accuse someone of sexual harassment do you think things have changed enough or people feel safe to do that.
S17: The confounding thing is that in the last two years everything has changed and nothing has changed. On the one hand you can argue that social attitudes are really different. There was this unprecedented series of firings we all lived through. Men whose careers really just evaporated all night once that overnight. Once this behavior was exposed I think there has been a very private reckoning among a lot of people with past behavior. On the other hand if you look at our fundamental laws and our systems and the way things work very little has changed. Sexual harassment laws in this country are so weak the federal sexual harassment laws they don’t protect you if you’re a freelancer they don’t protect you if you work for a business with under 15 employees. Just to give you a few examples. The biggest thing that has not changed is the secret settlement system. What we started to uncover during the original reporting but we uncovered a lot more of during the writing of this book is essentially the fact that the United States has kind of a secret system for silencing sexual harassment and abuse claims. If a woman goes to a lawyer and says something horrible happened to me I need your help. What that lawyer is likely to say is your best option is a confidential settlement and you’re going to get some money and you’re going to get to keep your privacy but you’re going to have to sign paperwork saying that you’re never going to tell anybody else about what happened and that’s what’s happened over and over again not just in the Weinstein case but we see settlements as an element in almost all of the big me two stories. And so what I think we’ve were just beginning to realize is that these settlements have not even come close to solving the problem and they’ve also enabled alleged predators to just silence the whole thing and go on to the next victim.
S10: But again just grow quick follow up on that though because I’ve been torn on this because at the same time if you’re a woman who lodges a sexual harassment complaint you only want that story told if you tell it on your own terms right because you don’t what you don’t want is the company to go around bad mouthing you and telling other people watch out for her. She sued us and she’s going to sue you. So is there is there a way to do N.D. where the company is actually not allowed to talk about it and the woman if she wanted to speak about it would would be able to speak about it.
S17: That’s exactly what some lawyers say that essentially what’s needed here is privacy not secrecy and there is a distinction and that the confidentiality should be at the discretion of the alleged victim that we’ve met a lot of women who sign these papers you know 20 years ago thinking it was the best thing at the time and 20 years later they’re like wait a second I don’t have the right to talk about my own experiences.
S15: Jodi I wondered if you have come up with a kind of scale of awfulness on which you plot behavior and I don’t mean necessarily the perpetrators in fact.
S14: In fact I mean of the enablers because it seems on the one hand you have the enablers who hire the lawyers or are the lawyers to discredit those who come forward who promote the system of secret settlements and that so there’s there’s kind of that’s at one end and then there’s the other thing which which you started by talking about and I was struck by a quote from Mitt Romney. And Romney was asked why no other Republicans were speaking out about the president’s call with the Ukrainian president. And Romney said I think it’s very natural for people to look at circumstances and see them in the light of them. What’s most amenable to their maintaining power and doing things to preserve that power. And that seems to me to be part of the enabling culture which is you know I don’t know there are these rumors. I don’t want to fuss with that. I just want to maintain my association with this powerful person or my position in this company. And that seems to be not on the same part of the scale as the actively awful but nevertheless a contributory factor. And I just wonder how you’ve sorted all that.
S17: So let’s talk about two figures. Let’s talk about Lisa Bloom and David Boies both very very prominent lawyers totally figures Lisa Bloom cuts this figure if like this feminist super lawyer she is Gloria all Red’s daughter. She very loudly proclaims herself to be a fighter for women. And what we discovered in our reporting we’ve known since the first summer of the investigation that Bloom crossed the line to the other side and went to work for Weinstein. What we publish in this book however is this extensive memo that’s essentially Bloom’s job audition memo for Weinstein and it’s chilling because she’s explicitly saying I will smear on your behalf. I will manipulate on your behalf to counter the allegation of Rose McGowan and other Weinstein abusers. So that’s the case of. That’s pretty. I mean I think on your scale of your sort of scale of the moral spectrum of complicity I think that’s pretty far to one end because she’s saying I’m going to use my credibility as someone who represents women to instead help Harvey Weinstein. David Boies one of the most famed litigators in the United States helped get gay marriage passed litigated Bush v. Gore. What’s interesting I think about Boies this work for Weinstein is the duration of it. Lisa Bloom was involved for a relatively small period Boies was Weinstein’s lawyer for 15 years and over that time he helped a race and pushed to the side and minimize and spin and bury a variety of allegations. And if you look at that time span that 15 year time span there are a lot of women who have made complaints during that time. So I think that’s also sort of a serious moral and ethical situation that also raises questions about the limits of legal practice. I mean how far is a lawyer supposed to go on behalf of his client. Now what Lisa Bloom and David Boies have in common though which goes to your second point is that they both wanted to be in the movie business with Weinstein. Lisa Bloom got very excited in the spring of 2017 because Weinstein Weinstein and J.C. optioned who by the way I don’t think I don’t know that J.C. has ever spoken about what’s happened. Basically her book which was called Suspicion Nation was optioned by Weinstein and Jaycee and she was very excited about that. David Boies wanted to be in the movie business as well. And in the book we actually have emails involving Weinstein helping to get roles for his daughter. So. So there you see. I think just like the attraction and the law of the movie business and the role it apparently played in the decisions these people made.
S6: Jodie this is kind of weird question but it really occurred to me as I was thinking about one thing. Do you think this story would have had the same impact if Weinstein wasn’t such a physically repellent person. Was that important the idea of this kind of grotesque looking monster assaulting young beauties and that helped make it grab the attention of people.
S17: Well I think where you’re really on to something is that one of our editors Matt Purdy has made the point that this was the first big story of this kind where the accusers actually had more public stature and credibility than the accused. If you think of the history of these stories going back to you know Clarence Thomas Anita Hill and Bill Clinton allegations it was often the case of this really powerful man being accused by a woman who is somehow of lesser stature you know either she just wasn’t as important in the culture or you know her her reputation could somehow be criticized or she was very young or whatever. And I think that there was a reversal in this story where and this was part of why we felt it was really important to get some of these famous actresses on the record. I worked with Ashley Judd Gwyneth Paltrow and Angelina Jolie to go on the record. And I think it became you know on the one hand I hate the idea that a famous woman’s word sort of counts for more than a regular woman’s. But it’s just undeniable that the stars had a kind of special power in this story not only are they very respected in society but people feel really familiar with them sort of like these celebrities belong to us. And so I I think it kind of goes along with what you’re saying in that there’s there’s sort of a respect and attachment in society to these female celebrities.
S9: Yeah. And I think there’s also been a lot of talk about if the you know if the accusations haven’t been coming from white women as well. Right. I mean if it had been coming from people of color would they would have had the same reaction in culture. The thing I was wondering is when you go into reporting on a story you always have sort of you know an idea of what you’re dealing with right. You wouldn’t be pursuing it if you didn’t. But I’m wondering as you got deeper into this what was the most surprising thing that you encountered or even shocking thing. You know did you have a moment where you thought like I didn’t really see that coming.
S17: Absolutely. The idea that nobody appeared to be immune. In June 2017 round like the second month of the investigation and Gwyneth Paltrow is barely on my list of people to call because I just think she was Weinstein’s biggest star. She was completely on a pedestal. You know her nickname was the first lady of Miramax and we all remember you know that beautiful picture of her winning the Best Actress Academy Award and she’s wearing that pink dress and she’s standing next to mine Stine. And then lo and behold I was sort of working a network of Hollywood women who were helping me. And one of them said Jenni Konner said to me Gwyneth is willing to talk to you. And I was so surprised. And then Gwyneth told me this story of sexual harassment. So basically let me lay out the situation. Gwyneth at that point is not a big star but Weinstein has offered her. Two roles one of which is really important. It’s the starring role in Emma. And it’s very clear that that’s going to be her big break before then she gets called to what appears to be a business meeting in an L.A. hotel with Weinstein. He according to her ends the meeting by placing his hands on her and saying let’s finish this in the bedroom. She is shocked and appalled. She lives doesn’t comply tells Brad Pitt who is her boyfriend at the time. Pitt then confronts Weinstein a few weeks later at an event. Weinstein gets incredibly angry that Gwyneth has told her boyfriend what happened. And Weinstein calls her and threatens her and basically says you’re you’re going to screw this up and you know essentially these jobs are on the line. If you tell anybody else he’s denied the story by the way. So that story gets us to the crux in some ways of the Weinstein allegations which are not just about the kind of physicality and the violence they’re about work and the fact that these women’s ambitions and dreams and aspirations around the line. And that he’s in some sense using those two he’s he’s almost like turning those against the women and then another thing that was surprising to us is that Gwyneth really wanted to help the investigation. So she started to ask us for all these tips on investigative journalism. And she set off trying to find other women in Hollywood who would speak to us. So we never would have predicted that that would’ve happened.
S12: Jody too from the journalists. And you know there was a long time these rumors were around. Q Tell us a little bit about kind of what allowed it to go forward. I mean obviously the Times was supporting you but. But what is also true and this would be true of of any news organization so I’m not saying this about the times but if this had been you know 1960 1972 maybe 1981 one would they have let a reporter go off and do the dogged and and time consuming work that you did.
S17: So our story really came about because of a bigger New York Times commitment to sexual harassment reporting are our sort of immediate predecessor was the O’Reilly story which I know now seems like it was a thousand sexual harassment stories ago but it was a real hit really really key one because Emily Steel and Mike Schmidt were able they essentially came up with a new technique for reporting on these kinds of claims which as it turns out that Bill O’Reilly had settled again sort of paid hush money to a bunch of women to silence their complaints about him over the years. So they were able to reveal that in the pages of The Times using the kind of legal and financial trail to talk about these accusations. And he was fired which was shocking at the time. It was just completely shocking. And that’s when the editors asked what now seems like a quaint question but was a very important one which is other other powerful men in American life who have abused women and covered it up. So basically what happened from there is that we were looking at all of these different industries. You know we were looking at academia and Silicon Valley and it was a big times team with you know reporters looking in every direction people were looking into the restaurant industry into factories. It was never really about one alleged predator it was always about a system. And also the fact that we were working together I think is definitely part of the answer to your question about what allowed us to finally prevail. You know we’re investigative journalists. So for us it’s not only about getting the on the record interviews. Obviously that’s a very important but we’re looking for documents we’re looking for. H.R. records we’re looking for internal company memos we’re looking for a legal and financial trail. And I think that that really helped finally break the story because it meant that there was less pressure on the women. In a way it wasn’t only about them coming forward. They had this kind of mountain of evidence to stand on.
S6: So Judy one of the things that that this book conveys and maybe maybe you won’t like this characterization was that you guys had a lot of fun doing this that it was there’s a lot of cloak and dagger. There’s this amazing moment when I won’t give too much away when a Weinstein executive does just you know it’s sort of just as as kind of movie as you can get a cinematic as you can get with his phone and you have Gwyneth Paltrow house that you’re at was it was it super stressful or was it incredibly fun.
S17: It’s such a good question because I think the sort of like elephant in the room in terms of what you’re asking is Jodie. This is a story about sexual assault and and and the ending of women’s careers. You know so can journalism about that be fun. I think the way I’d answer is to say that fun is is not exactly the word I would choose because the material is just sort of too painful. But I think that you’re exactly right in that there was something really galvanizing about it and empowering it was really I don’t want to speak on my sources behalf. What I hope they would say is that connecting these dots was empowering. It reached like beginning to see the pattern and beginning to understand there was always this like positive life force aspect to that. That I think countered some of the pain of what we were seeing.
S12: And Jody what when and how and how much did you think they’re coming after me. All these lawyers that you knew had had taken extraordinary efforts to try to discredit these women and protect Harvey Weinstein.
S17: Well look Megan and my attitude is that we live to do this. This is why we get up in the morning confronting the powerful is our job. We’ve got a lot of protection in doing it we’ve got the protection of the times. We’re much more worried about our sources. You know I’m going through the summer of 2017 just trying to do this reporting trying to be very careful obviously but not worrying too much about potential intimidation or whatnot. And it turns out that there are all these things happening that I would only learn about much much later. And some of this by the way is thanks to Ronan Farrow who did the black cube story and you know if you read that black cube story it’s in large part about us Black you took out a contract essentially on Meghan and my head saying I mean not to kill us God forbid a particular story and saying you know black who was going to get a bonus of hundreds of thousands of dollars if our story never appeared there was a black agent who tried to dupe me into giving her information. I had no idea who she was and I just ended up like brushing her away because she seemed like she seemed like a sort of like random. Person I didn’t have time to deal with. I was like Meghan and I have toddlers. So I don’t know if there are any parents listening to this. You know it’s that attitude of like I have to get my work done and then I have to get home to the kids. You know I don’t have time for like random coffees with people who want you know with like sort of vague you know I don’t want to sound rude but I just didn’t have time to meet with her anyway. The. And then the other thing that was surreal is that you know reporting for this book Meghan obtained Lisa Bloom’s billing records for Weinstein. So it’s like this hour by hour record of what she did for Weinstein because that’s what lawyers do they put together these these very itemized bills. And so there there are these items like research Jodi Kantor. Two hours at heat hundred and ninety five dollars an hour. So anyway I’m glad that I didn’t know about what was really happening in real time but I want this but also I want this I really want this to not be a story about intimidation. I want this to be a story about the journalists winning and the women winning because our experience in this specific example is that you can hire all of these fancy lawyers and you can pay all of this money and you can hire all of these you know sort of manipulative P.R. people. But if that cannot stand up to the facts and to dogged reporting and to these brave women’s voices.
S19: Jodi Kantor is the co-author with Meghan Tuohy of she said breaking the sexual harassment story that helped ignite a movement. It’s a great book. Jodi thanks for coming on. Jeff thank you so much.
S4: Let’s go to cocktail chatter when you’re having Harvey Wallbank. That is not probably a drink that people will still continue to order in the post wine scene era. I wonder what comes from God anyway when you’re having your non Harvey wall banger. What would you be chattering about.
S20: Kirsten Powers so I will be chattering about this article I read about a book that has come out called Dog is love. Why and how your dog loves you. Now Jon I know you have a dog that you love right. Yes indeed and no. No dog. No no dog. So you’re a sociopath basically right.
S21: Interestingly I’m not a sociopath. I’m a dog.
S20: Yes I’m highly suspicious of the people who don’t have dogs. Basically there’s always been this idea that dogs just love us because we feed them. Right. And what what this psychologist found when he did all these studies was in fact that’s not actually true. They actually really really love us and how in your ear I can see that you are not buying this. But they did studies where they you know so oxytocin levels spike when you’re with somebody that you love. Right. And so they studied that you know when they put the human and the dog together and then they started the levels and they not only rose in the human but they also rose in the dog. They also did MRI scans to check where the brain was lighting up and if they did a signal that suggested food was imminent or senior owner was imminent they actually the brain lit up more at the prospect of the human. Their human being nearby. So I feel like you’re very skeptical if like you’re looking at this very skeptical a hundred percent right. Yes. So you’re not buying this you think they just love us for the food I I’m sure.
S8: No I’m sure they love us for all sorts of reasons and I imagine they have love that it’s not food dependent. Well I must say I agree with you.
S20: So the other thing that they found was that there’s also been this assumption that dogs have been sort of very they call it successful which I think is kind of funny but they’ve been very successful as animals in the sense because they’re so intelligent. But then they went and they did studies on all sorts of other animals that are intelligent and found that you can train them to do things but you can’t they won’t ever love you. They won’t ever have that kind of interaction with you. So you know I just I’m obviously like a huge dog person and I just feel totally vindicated.
S4: I was just noticing this morning I’ve been away for a few days and my cats I’ve cats were very attentive to me and like coming in sort of pulling my face are very affectionate but also my children were also very attentive and affectionate.
S21: So they love you maybe they love they love John.
S19: What does your chatter.
S15: My chatter is from the Twitter feed of Lindsay Fitz who is has a great Twitter feed. She’s the author of a book called The butchering art which is about Victorian surgery. But she posted something a 19th century AD which we will which people can look at and should look at because of the way it’s laid out for Coco threats. Coco threats are a mixture of sugar. They are basically cigarettes made from tobacco and coca from the 19th century and it just given all of the conversation about vaping and and all of the flavors and the prom and the basically the attempt to get younger people to vape based on the pleasant taste. This made the promise that it would supply the place of food make the coward brave the silent eloquent and render the sufferer insensitive to pain and then it lists the ten reasons why it’s such a great idea to have some but it slightly undermines the case in this ad which lists the 10 reasons and then has this very odd looking kind of young woman smoking one. The first reason though undermines the case of how wonderful these are which is first they are not injurious and then it goes on anyway. So once you get over the first one though the cocoa is the finest nerve tonic and an accelerator ever discovered stimulates the brain to great activity. So check out the link and this ad and and let’s you could say this is actually a finding constantly finding fascinating fascinating stuff from the history of medicine. And just as this is some of it’s slightly grisly.
S4: What do you think that when when when our descendants look back on the advertising of this age what products do you think they’re gonna be like oh my god that’s hilarious.
S11: They believe that.
S7: I think both do you think most vitamins but vitamins aren’t super harmful but do you think botox isn’t super harmful also. That’s what it seems like right but then I always feel like it’s going to be like cigarettes where you look back and they’re like yeah they were in Jeff botulism into their heads. And you think that doesn’t really sound good.
S4: All right. We’ll find out. Check back in a century. My chatter is I have a secret. Incredibly boring vice which is that when I just this is just advice about how to fall asleep. So if you were like me somebody who’s having some sleep problems can I recommend. There is. There are now several documentaries one on Amazon and one on Netflix primarily about car racing culture. There’s a formula one documentary called drive to survive which is about Formula One racing and there’s a one on Amazon called lemons. Racing is everything which is about the 24 hour at Le Mans race. These are super high production documentaries about auto racing. It is so incredibly boring that it is the best way you’ll ever fall asleep. They’ve spent millions and millions upon millions and millions of dollars to produce these beautiful documentaries about auto racing which is the most boring reprehensible sport populated with people who are wasting their lives polluting the planet.
S8: All the fans are like it’s just rich people wasting a huge amount of money in places where you wouldn’t want to go because you could only get there on your yacht. And it’s it’s the culture is terrible. The drivers are terrible the way the money is being spent is terrible. The races look super boring and it’s. And yet these documentaries are are addictive and mesmerizing in their boredom. So good. Good. Good narcolepsy also listeners you have been sending us your chatter you’ve been tweeting chatter to us at Slate gabfest. So many good chatters John you want to listen carefully here. You’re gonna want to listen carefully to our listener chatter this week because fuzzy Marmont at real fuzzy Marmont.
S4: I also think has given us some chatter before points us to another story of a marine mammals encountering Russian military forces there’s a walrus or fact several walruses attacked and sank a Russian navy boat in the Arctic this week. It’s a wonderful story got to go check it out there’s some it wasn’t it wasn’t a big boat with a small boat who’s sort of more like one of those as inflatables that you date when you’re when you’re in your boat in harbor you’re anchored and you need to get into the beat yourself so that you can do whatever you’re gonna do on land you take one of these inflatable boats with ten people on it and it was. What’s their beef with the boats. Why not. Wouldn’t you. Would you be pissed off these dumb boats are coming and messing with you. And so the walruses were just like Hell no.
S11: And they they took this boat and there’s this and they they took it. Apparently they took the boat. They like it. They they seized the boat and then the Russians managed to get it back. But it’s a great story. So please keep sending us your chatters at at Slate gab fest please send them to us that way.
S3: That’s our show for today. The political gaffe as it’s produced by Joslyn Frank a researcher is Bridget Dunlap. We had engineering help from Melissa Kaplan here in D.C. married Jacob in New York and Rachel pier in also in New York with Jon at CBS. You should follow us on Twitter and at Slate get this tweet out your chatter to us there. For John Dickerson and Kirsten Powers. I’m David Plotz. Thank you for listening. We’ll talk to you next.
S16: Hello Slate Plus how are you so overshadowed unfortunately slightly overshadowed by the the the impeachment news of the week was the climate discussions here in the U.S. and particularly the presence of gratitude Berg the Swedish 16 year old climate activist who is that kind of incredible compelling presence.
S8: Did you see Kirsten the the that little clip of her in the background as Trump came in to talk and there was this. So there’s a pick there’s this Trump is coming and say whatever stupid remarks he’s going to say it at this clip. I think at the climate conference anyway she was in the back of the back and this camera person caught her and then moved to trump. And you just see this look on her face and the look it killed. Look literally could murder somebody her look of disgust and rage at watching Trump enter it was incredible. But she gave this this very very powerful extremely extremely powerful speech just attacking attacking us attacking everybody attacking all adults not just the ones who are say that climate change doesn’t exist but those who are say it exists but are unwilling to to make any hard choices. There’s the you know you’ve stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words were the beginning of a mass extinction. All you talk about is money and fairy tales of eternal economic growth how dare you. And she’s just her presence is gripping. But she also enrages people why does she enrage people.
S10: Well I think that people that seem enraged by it are people who don’t want to talk about this issue. Right they don’t want to hear about climate change. And so instead they they have to attack her base and she’s not just as you said she’s not just criticizing climate change I mean she’s she’s criticizing the whole system. She’s criticizing capitalism. She’s she’s pathetic honestly is the way I look at her. I mean I think she’s she’s speaking real truth and a lot of times people don’t like that when that happens and say you have a particularly conservatives attacking her and basically saying Oh she’s just a pawn and she’s just a prop and you know we shouldn’t listen to them. Rich Lowry wrote in his column kids have nothing to teach us. I just was like I ve been around a child I don’t even understand what you’re talking about. I learned so much from my nieces. I think children you know out of the mouths of babes you know it truly. Children have very important things to say to us and a lot of times it’s because they haven’t been jaded and they haven’t been weighted down with all of all of the baggage of life and they can see things in a much more innocent pure way. And so I think that she is also an incredible role model for for everybody. But in particular you know she has Asperger’s and you know so she is she’s such a great role model for people who have Asperger’s who have autism.
S8: And for I think for young people to speak up I have a son who’s just got to tune Burke’s age who has Asperger’s. And I was thinking about what is it that’s so distinctive about him and one of the thing. And why is it that she is able to say the things that she’s able to say and say it with such force and I realize that one of the the kind of features slash bug that people with Asperger’s generally is like general you know often an indifference to social norms convention and the social norms around what you say around climate around what you say to people are so strong and yet the crisis is so enormous and it’s it’s very hard for most of us to look at the enormity of that crisis in the face it’s too fucking scary to look at in the face and gratitude Berg made whether it’s because you just have a powerful moral sense or powerful policy sense or that Asperger’s kind of magnifies it has the ability to speak kind of honestly and directly and intensely that most people don’t have. Whether they’re kids adults anybody.
S10: But I think that Asperger’s is part of what what has given her that was feel it and she had tweeted that you know that being different. Her superpower right.
S4: I really I really think that’s true. John did you watch her at all.
S15: I did. I did I. I tend to find that the dislike of her kind of obvious. I mean these people who you know who don’t either don’t believe in significant man made contribution to climate change or don’t believe in the most of the solutions but who usually who often don’t like the people who are making the case for it. And in this case I guess the the idea is that there is a kind of emotional leverage that a child has that that that supporters of hers are using against them and that it’s kind of a it’s kind of dirty trick dirty pool to use her to advance a political argument is I guess one of the ways that I was reading the opposition to her.
S8: I think that’s so weak. I actually thought the most interesting discussion of her was from Macedo and they were in the New Republic seat of the former colleague of ours at Slate that actually what’s happening towards what he describes as Santa Claus defecation which is that she’s been made into this this happy this interesting mascot.
S4: People are meaning her having fun with her and they’re not actually taking her seriously that the ideas she’s proposing are incredibly threatening and they’re threatening not just to people who don’t believe in manmade climate change but people who do believe in it but just aren’t comfortable and don’t want to have lower economic growth and don’t want to constrain their flying and don’t want to drive less and instead that people have adopted her in this kind of mascot way and are enjoying that enjoying using her as a mascot against the right and against that. You know the Trump ish work part of the world but they aren’t willing to actually engage with her very threatening ideas.
S9: Well I think they’re doing that at their own peril because I think she’s representative of probably what we’re going to be seeing more and more of even if you just look at millennials or Generation see their values are very different. There they are they are questioning this idea of worshipping at the altar of economic growth. They are more predisposed to socialism.
S10: They are they are they are looking at the older generations and saying thanks you know for what you’ve done to us. And so I think that I think this is going to continue and I think she’s just one particularly articulate person and the right on this. I think there’s nothing you can do to ever be a valid spokesperson they will always find a reason to say you’re a hypocrite. So for example she sailed instead of taking a jet. And so she’s getting attacked for that publicity stunt you said you know you sailed instead of taking a jet but is she taking a jet right the way to talk of her taking a jet there’s nothing you can ever do actually to be an acceptable spokesperson on this issue because they don’t want to hear about it right.
S19: All right Slate Plus calculator. Bye bye.