The “Last Debate of Donald Trump’s Career” Edition

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S1: This ad free podcast is part of your slate plus membership, enjoy this episode of The Gabfest contains explicit language.

S2: Hello and welcome to the Slate political gabfest for October twenty third, twenty twenty, the last debate of Donald Trump’s career, Ed.. I am David Plotz of Citi Cast.

S3: Yes. Oh, John, you know, it’s good when you get a Dickason sound effect. David, what is Citi Cab I’m going to talk about at my cocktail chatter. But briefly, City Cast is a network of daily local news podcasts in cities around the country that I am going to launch, that I am launching this winter and I am going to need folks to work with and and advice and but mostly colleagues. So I’m going to talk more about it as my cocktail chatter today. But City Casca FM David Plotz is here. Check it out. So joining me today, supporting me from their cities, Emily Bazelon of the New York Times Magazine and Yale University Law School from New Haven. Hello, Emily. Hello, David. And from somewhere not at home, I think maybe he’s in D.C., actually is John Dickerson of CBS’s 60 Minutes. Hello, John.

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S4: Hello, David. Yeah, I’m in D.C. for the debate at Hotel at least five. Yeah. Oh, my gosh. A hotel room right there.

S5: Just give them give them a little visual. First of all, I’m on a Dell XPS 13, which has the camera so that it is perfectly shoots up your nostrils. Some somebody was just napping when they designed this. And then I’ve got the saddest DMV curtains behind me, but enough light coming through. So then I’m backlit that so that it really makes it feel like I’m in some kind of awful ward.

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S3: The gabfests is brought to you by Del Mar on today’s Gaffed the second and final presidential debate. What happened? Will it change the dynamics of the race going forward? Then there have been a mind blowing array of Trump outrages this week. The 500 plus children separated from their parents whose parents cannot be found. The twenty five billion dollar potential giveaway to a company with shady Trump ties the secret bank account in China. The possibility that Trump got ten million dollars out of Egypt mysteriously before the 2016 election as a secret gift. So many, so many outrages. What does this mean about what a second term or what a lame duck might be like? Then a new surge in covid across the world and across the US, along with ambivalence about opening schools, a crazy theory of herd immunity coming out of the White House. How are we going to get through the dark winter that we are warned is coming? Plus, of course, we’ll have cocktail chatter. Last night, Joe Biden and Donald Trump held the second and final debate of this presidential campaign. It was very different than the first debate. Moderator Kristen Welker had a firm handle on it and rules about when the mikes were muted and not limited. Trump’s ability to interrupt, but mostly the president came out clearly intent on showing himself to be less of a bully interrupting hyper manic monster than he was last time. John, you have spent a lot of time thinking about debates, watching debates, analyzing debates, and you were, of course, doing that with last night’s debate. What was the most important thing that came out of last night’s debate, if anything?

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S4: Well, it depends what category you want to if you believe the debates are changed on debates only matter and change things when there’s a huge gaffe or a huge mess up like the president’s behavior in the first one then and then the most important thing is that the race will continue along the lines that it did before without much interruption by the events in the debate, which is a big win for Joe Biden. I mean, this would be this is the most watched planned event between now and the end of end of voting. And to have gotten through it with a highly unpredictable adversary across the way is a big victory for Biden, who in the three set piece moments, there should have been four. But in the three set piece moments of the campaign, the convention speech and the two debates, he has gotten through them and gotten through them. Well, I thought he did better in this debate, actually, than even in the first one for the president who needs needed something more. He didn’t get it. He may get it some other way or the election may continue down some other path. But he didn’t do anything to change the dynamic last night, which is a hard thing to do in a single debate. But he needs to do it because of where the state of the race is. The final point is the most important thing for me is debates. I have mixed views about them, but I thought the last question was a really great one and we can talk about it later. The question about how would you reach out to the other side in your inaugural speech? I thought it was just a great a great question and the answers were interesting and revealing.

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S6: I thought that there was no game changer. There was a ton of line from Donald Trump. And so I always wonder in the moment it’s quite effective because Biden kept calling him out and saying that’s false. But it’s really not until after the debate when people come on and start fact checking that you really know for sure. I mean, there’s so many factual claims. I still, in listening to Donald Trump, think to myself, well, he can’t be just like making that up. And then it turns out that he is.

S3: Can I ask a question about that, Emily? And interrupting sorry. Which I was I had I was wondering about this last night. Donald Trump lies so often and so prevalently and and it has you know, it has cost him some things, but but it’s been the basis of his political career and a lot of ways. Do you think that Trump’s success line and the little account he’s been held to about it means that other politicians are going to adopt the same strategy? Or is he uniquely capable of it because he is a sociopath and then can get away with it? He just couldn’t do it so brazenly, whereas other politicians, because they are not sociopaths, are less able to do that.

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S6: I mean, I think we already saw Mike Pence lying prodigiously in the last debate in a way that I found surprising. So I do think that there is an effect on other people. I don’t know if they’ll take it to Trump’s highs or lows. Probably be the better word, but I think it is bleeding into the rest of the political culture.

S4: Depends how much he loses by. If he loses, though, if he wins, of course, everybody will do it. But if he if he takes if he loses, it takes a shellacking that might reset things a tiny bit.

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S3: So going into these debates and going even to this presidential campaign, one of the clear strategies of the Trump campaign was Biden’s a senile, doddering old fool. And they were kind of banking on this. And clearly part of Trump’s strategy in the first debate was to throw off Biden and to make him increase his stutter and to make him word salad, everything, and to use that as a way of of suggesting that Biden is unfit for office. And clearly that failed. Clearly, Emily, that overall strategy of using the debates to to make Biden seem incapable of being a cogent president did not succeed, right?

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S6: Yeah. I mean, I’m sort of puzzled why they went so far with this. I sort of feel like Trump must have drunk his own Kool-Aid on this because there was never real evidence for it, at least not to anything like the extent Trump was anticipating or laying out. And I don’t know, maybe he overestimated his own bullying capabilities. And maybe this is part of the bubble of the presidency that nobody is telling, you know. And so you think it’s going to be more effective in the moment than it really is? I mean, the needling last night was, I think, a more restrained version of what we saw in the first debate. But I feel like Biden just kind of stayed on his path. And I mean, he is not a great debater. Like, he is really not that good at it. He doesn’t have zingers at his disposal. He’s not quick on his feet, particularly with rejoinders. It’s frustrating because if you were taking umbrage at Trump’s bullying, you want someone who’s more effectively cutting him down to size. But he but Trump did not succeed, enabling him. And Trump had set the bar at at that which was pretty high.

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S3: John, you were making a face there without a face of. Yeah.

S4: Emily, Emily ended up saying it, which is that Joe Biden is not good, it has not been good in his career in debates. And remember, one of his highlights from 2008 was when Brian Williams said, Joe Biden, you have a history of being verbose and are you going to be able to not be and his maybe butchering it slightly. And his answer was wonderful. He said yes. And that’s all he said. But but implicit in that whole drama was that he just goes on and on and on and on.

S5: And his debate to debate performances and his convention speech showed an adaptability, notable late in life, hard to do with humans, particularly ones who’ve reached a certain level of success, where he was disciplined and focused, didn’t take the bait, didn’t do things like attack the president’s children when his children were attending. Best supporting. Tempting. Exactly. No, exactly right. Didn’t take didn’t take the bait and basically also delivered several of the obvious setpiece lines, which matter because those are the ones that get replayed, you know, on cable TV and the rest of it.

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S4: So it was kind of striking to see him perform. I mean, he has Ron Klain, who’s his former advisor, Current Viser, you know, has an expertise in this.

S6: But you can have experts around you and not listen to can I say Biden has still failed to clearly explain his own health care plan? I really think that, like what he said about automatic enrollment in Medicaid, like, no, a public option is like everybody gets to have the public option if they want to. He didn’t really ever clearly say that.

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S3: I don’t think he is one of the worst explainers. Trump is worse, I suppose. But Biden I was going to say Biden is a shockingly poor explainer.

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S6: Trump is like unexplained, but Biden is failing to explain clearly.

S3: But I think the thing the thing that I find powerful in Biden’s debate performances and whenever he speaks is when there is a moment where you need to show humanity. Yes. And I you know, his response to the news that we have lost the parents of 500 plus children and the kind of clear sorrow and anger that he evinced there and and the shame that he feels as an American and the shame that we should feel as a country about it, I thought was was his most effective moment.

S6: I also thought he handled the question toward the end about people who live on what he called fence lines, like near power plants or near oil industry, his invoking of his own childhood, that very specific image of the oil slick on the windshield when he was growing up in Claymore, Delaware.

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S3: Like, you’re not from Scranton. You’re not even from Philly, Emily.

S6: Oh, come on. He lived in Scranton until he was ten pounds. And I lived in Philadelphia until I went to college.

S4: Getting to the theater review of this. I agree with you, Emily. He did it several times when he talked about the empty place in the bed for people who who’d who whose spouses had died of covid-19 when he talked about the bald tyres of the family. That was all played on two levels. One, it might have actually appealed to you to when Joe when the president made fun of it and said, oh, this is just political pandering. I wonder if now, after four years of Donald Trump, like the stuff that might have irritated people about politics in the old days, which is that kind of quasi pandering and Biden’s response to Norah O’Donnell about about increasing the number on the Supreme Court and saying he’s going to have a commission, which is the kind of typical political punt on a tough issue, nevertheless, is kind of reassertion of a norm of typical political behavior, which, after four years of the untypical, might actually be comforting, even if it’s not genuinely comforting in and of itself.

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S6: Right. And Trump is unable to have a single moment like that. I mean, he’s blustering and he’s boasting. And sometimes he makes you kind of with this sort of cadences and insistence of his words. He makes you think like, oh, I guess, yeah, the economy is OK, but he doesn’t ever give you any kind of like kernel of humanity and compassion to hang on to. He always turns it back into either his own aggrievement or his own Bradberry people.

S5: No. Said he wasn’t interrupting as much in the first debate. But what he did, he left so much on the table. And this we talked about this before. If you’re trying to convince people outside of your base, which he clearly was trying to do in the debate, all of his other behavior seems very base motivated. But this was obviously an attempt to appeal to voters outside of his base. You have to speak beyond the rallies edge and even in the way he speaks that staccato insider language. Who in America knows what AOK plus three is to me?

S4: I still on his rally. And what is Ágúst plus three? It’s. Cosio, Cortez and the other members of Congress like Guyana in the squad who are in the squad, so anyway, but it’s just an inability to speak beyond his own base. And that was really true in the final question, which is a crucial question. Well, grass during inauguration. How will you speak to those people who didn’t vote for you in a time of high partisanship? This is a key question to ask any presidential candidate and Trump just shank that one, too.

S3: Why did that question move you so much? And do you think Biden handled it well?

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S5: I thought he handled it pretty well. It moved me because, you know, as you know so well, I’m obsessed with the distance between what we talk about in campaigns and what we talk about in the presidency. And I felt like that one was a pretty close fits in both categories. It tells you it’s useful in the context of a debate, especially as an ending question. It’s nice to kind of rounds the evening off, but also it’s really important for a president to be able to speak to the people not in his base. It is one of the two component aspects of character as my favorite definition by James Q. Wilson, which is empathy, which is meaningfully taking into account the thoughts and feelings of other people. And so when you speak to those other people not in your base, you are showing empathy, not in a kind of touchy feely let’s all get together and hug at the right distance. But you need to understand what people are going through so that you can speak to them as a president of the whole country. It’s what the president had trouble and is continuing to have trouble with on the race question. He doesn’t hear the pain and anguish of the people protesting in the streets and can’t speak to it. Well, you can’t have that in a country. You must be able to take in and speak to people who are not, you know, attending your rallies. And so that was a nice for me. It’s a way in which the attributes required in the job are tested in the debate.

S6: Well, and his response about Black Lives Matter was unbelievable, like the idea that he brought up, like the worst slogan associated with Black Lives Matter, when that movement has come to mean so much more than that and is so much more popular and as accomplished more than just I mean, I don’t know. To me that was I couldn’t get over that moment, but it was very effective politics.

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S3: And I mean, it is a way of I think so mean it’s a way of saying the black lives. First of all, the support for Black Lives Matter has dropped, especially among whites.

S6: And so it’s still the majority. I think I felt like that was an insider thing to do, like a sort of twenty, sixteen, twenty, seventeen move. That doesn’t actually resonate to the best degree anymore. I mean, it’s fine for turning out your base, but I question whether it actually is good politics more broadly speaking.

S4: Well, and particularly in the venue, he was clearly trying at some level to reach people outside his base. The base is locked in on this question. You got him. You’re good. What you need to show, it seems to me in that moment, is some understanding, some ear, some empathy, some recognition of something other than the absolutely worst element of the entire set of ideas on the Black Lives Matter front. I mean. Just say something else.

S6: Well, here’s something else is I’m the best president for black people since Abraham Lincoln, which is bananas and all about him, and like puts him in this very weird position of whining about something that he just cannot defend.

S3: One of the things that was great about this debate with the moderator, I thought Kristen Welker did an excellent, excellent job. Emily, thoughts.

S1: Kristen Welker disclosure is a dear family friend and I am extremely fond of her. And I was so proud of her and impressed by her. She just had the reins from the beginning. And, you know, obviously Trump was in a different mode than he was at the first debate. So this isn’t a knock on Chris Wallace. But I just thought from beginning to end, she handled the whole thing with great aplomb. And I thought her questions were excellent, especially the question at the end that John was just pointing to us, too.

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S4: I totally agree. Bravo. And also, it was fun to watch little bits of art if you go back. And one of the things I learned after a while at Face the Nation was that that sometimes you can’t you can’t fact check or you’ll go down a road forever and you’ll lose the whole conversation. But you can slip in a fact check before you move on to the next question to which they can’t respond. And she did that elegantly on one of the first one of the early questions. And so I that was a particular little sparkly moment. But the other great thing was she asked short, sharp questions. Key, right.

S5: Don’t spend a thousand years asking your question. Second thing, she had great follow ups which were on point and was able to keep that’s the way you keep the reins, is you keep them tight. And she was short and sharp and those follow ups as well. And also, by the way, on a huge, incredibly complicated stage. I mean by which I mean the moment the build up, the build up, all that and the president attacking her, Fox News attacking the donations that her parents made, which is just the worst anyway.

S3: So bravo to her. So to close this out, Emily, this was the last big public event of this campaign. We have 10 days to go before Election Day or about ten days, something like ten days, 11. What is it that can happen? Do you think in the next ten days that could change fundamentally the dynamics of the race? Or is there nothing really that can happen that could change the dynamics of the race? And I would point to the fact that the some of the president’s supporters that seem to have been putting a lot of hope in this strange, incomprehensible Hunter Biden story, and that has landed with a soft drop of a feather hitting the ground. It is not it is not Annville to anyone.

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S6: Right. So I think we’ll continue to see weird, potentially fishy, scurrilous information dribble out. I can’t imagine they’re finished with that. There was a really weird, I thought, collision last night between the Wall Street Journal editorial page and The Wall Street Journal newsroom, which seemed to have come to different conclusions about more Hunter Biden, not revelations. I suppose it’s possible we will see as yet some agency of government like the Justice Department used on behalf of the president. I would not rule that out. And then there’s all the fighting and jockeying over voting and the potential for voter suppression, which also continues. So those are the things I have my own eye on. John, what about you?

S4: Yeah, I think that’s right. I mean, the the Biden thing is an attempt by the president to win a virtue contest. But obviously, if you use the same standard of proof that he uses with respect to Hunter Biden and applied that to the president and his private holdings and the conflicts with his job and the reporting about the countries to whom he is still in hock, it’s an order of magnitude, except I don’t really understand orders of magnitude. So let me just say the president has a much, much greater problem on that front. But that doesn’t matter. What he’s trying to do is just throw mud at Biden to strip enough off of him that he can maybe diminished Biden’s vote a little bit. I don’t think that’s that doesn’t appear to be happening again. As you said, Emily, the conflict within just the journal itself, between the editorial page or really Kim Strassel and the and the actual newspaper, you know, helps the Biden campaign. Since the journalists undermine the case of the partisans. The biggest thing to watch is, of course, is the voting madness. And then I think the rest is, you know, I’m I and I know you are, too, Emily, kind of driven by this piece opinion piece in the Times by Diana Cryptic often John Barry Ryan, who I quoted in the book for other research that they did. But in their piece in The Times, they write that basically the partisan Democrats are obsessed by the president’s latest outrage. Partisan Republicans are obsessed by the, you know, Biden’s latest outrage. But like 80 percent of the voters, regular voters, not regular Americans, but regular. Voters aren’t paying much attention to any of that because the partisans are gone, they’ve done they’re voting for the people who might even be remotely up for grabs.

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S3: This is just noise gabfest listeners on the Slate plus segment this week. We’re going to talk about the story that obsessed a lot of people who are on Zoome, at least this week. The Jeff Toobin the Jeff Toobin story. Those of you who are listening to the show probably know what I mean without me having to get into the graphic details. But we will get into graphic details, maybe so honestly, in any other presidency, in any other time, there probably would have been about 10 stories this week that would have ended a presidency. We have the president this week doing things that corrupt on every axis of the presidency. He is obviously trying to warp the rails of justice to get the FBI and the attorney general to gin up investigations of Joe Biden and announce those to benefit him publicly. We have the news that 500 plus children separated from their parents by the Trump administration. Have not found their parents or the administration cannot find their parents, for which Jeff Sessions and Steven Miller and Donald Trump and others should be in prison for this. The New York Times revealed a very shady Trump bank account in China with mysterious 15 million dollar payment to Trump. Very recently, CNN revealed another shady set of indications that Trump received perhaps 10 million dollars, maybe in the form of a gift or some sort of sweetheart loan from Egypt during the 2016 campaign. CNN revealed appallingly the depth of the corruption this White House is such that they are trying to cram through a 25 billion dollar sweetheart deal for a company tied to Karl Rove and Newt Gingrich. And then I just saw today, this morning, that the president is trying to strip civil service protections from tens of thousands of federal workers, which is another way that another thing that would warp the how government works and make government worse than all respect. So, John, I don’t really have a question here, but it is. But what’s shocking is that, of course, none of it is shocking anymore.

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S4: Right? You have different categories. You have the the policy choices that are that are shocking, the family separation and the president’s response to it during the debate, which is one category. Then there’s the the self enrichment or enrichment of friends, which might escalate on the way out the door if the president is not elected. So you’re right. I mean, it’s not it’s not shocking. And what’s what is interesting to me, though, is we are about a week to get a verdict on the price that’s paid for any of this, because people have often said, you know, when the president pays no penalty for these various things, well, we might see that he is either reelected, in which case that’s totally true. He has pressed every boundary of the office beyond its breaking point in some cases, and he has consumed an entire political party and gotten everybody to line up behind that behavior. And if he wins, it will have been an extraordinary it will be, I think, arguably a greater act of political success than his original election, because he did in practice what his critics could only talk about in theory when he was a candidate in 2016 and he won nevertheless in twenty sixteen. And if he’s re-elected, it will be sort of proof of his Fifth Avenue claim about he can basically do what he wants and and he will be re-elected. If he loses catastrophically, then then it will not just be his loss, but it will it will reverberate throughout his party, I think. And so as you list off these things, I’m I’m conscious of the fact that the verdict is coming is coming due soon. And the kind of existential feeling people have at all of this happening without any kind of judgment is about to be, you know, that you’re going to get the judgment soon enough.

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S3: Emily, when I look at these stories, they’re all horrible in their own way. But the one that is, of course, the most horrible to human level is what was done to these children and these families. And what I think is so shocking about the revelations this week is not simply the pain and the suffering of the parents, which is like and these children, but the laziness of the United States government, like the the kind of sort of desultory, lazy efforts that the government has made to not it’s not even the government that’s trying to find the parents. The government has sort of outsourced it. It’s not even bothering to do it. The Trump administration was so callous about these children and these children’s lives that they don’t even they didn’t even bother to keep track of anybody. And it’s it’s unforgivable. I mean, I don’t even know what what is the appropriate punishment for the people who have done this?

S6: Yeah, that’s a really good question. I mean, I went back and read the reporting from earlier this month about this inspector general report about the family separation. And what’s also really illuminating about it is the way in which underlings get pulled into doing something that they originally have a great moral hesitation about. You know, basically, Trump was really frustrated. He wanted some way to bring the number of illegal border crossings down. He started talking about prosecuting. And then Jeff Sessions, who was the attorney general at the time, and Rod Rosenstein, his top deputy, gave orders to the U.S. attorneys at the borders, like don’t decline to prosecute just because someone has a kid. And then you start seeing these emails and comments from people who are actually at the border saying we’re taking breastfeeding babies away from their mothers. Like, I can’t believe we’re doing this, but they did it. And then you’re absolutely right. They did it in a fashion. That was absolutely, completely disinterested in reuniting people again, and it was about punishing the parents and deterrence through like the worst kind of consequences for families, it’s really just unbelievable that this happened in the name of our government and in the name of all of us, and that to this day there are five hundred and forty five parents out there who don’t have their kids and those kids don’t have their parents. And the Justice Department says this isn’t our problem. This is Department of Homeland Security. And then they pass the buck on to someone else. And all these people are implicated in this system, which is like just this this perpetrated horror that nobody wants to own and take responsibility for.

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S4: And yet there it if it doesn’t turn out well, it’s amazing how much is really riding on this election for a lot of people, because this is all happening in absolute broad daylight. You know, it’s become kind of a joke of the Trump era that Republicans say, well, I didn’t see the tweet. You can’t say I didn’t see the tweet when it comes to some of these policies, and particularly for the party of character, which has a long and storied tradition of saying that the crucial test of public life is your demonstration of character. These are these are going to be seen as huge character failures from those who are in a position to do something and who knew about it. So we’ll see.

S3: Yeah, I mean, I can’t you know, obviously Donald Trump is a is a sociopath. I used that term already three or four times on the show today. There is no such excuse for the Republicans in Congress, for the judges who have chosen to look away at these acts committed in our name and for a a conservative media establishment, that it’s that it’s decided it is better to be a propaganda outlet than to hold the administration to account. These are these are literal crimes that are being committed against children. I mean, they are they are it is acts of profound evil and immorality committed against children. In the case of this Rigveda that sort of going to the twenty five billion dollar spectrum giveaway, we have an effort by some Trump insiders, apparently to steer a 25 billion dollar contract to a company that essentially has no track record, no history. And what it does have is close ties to certainly to Karl Rove and and other Trump allies. And again, like the level of this is like a level this is theft from the country, is theft from the United States. And where do we see the Republicans in Congress, the right wing media, the judges who have some capacity to stop us doing anything? We just don’t see it. And it’s the failure of these other institutions and the complicity of these other institutions that is going to kill this country for many, many years to come. Even if Trump is voted out of office. Now, hopefully, John, you think they’ll learn lessons? I’m not sure they’re going to learn lessons. I’m not sure these lessons are going to be learned in the way that we want.

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S4: Believe me, I can line up behind that that view in a second. And I don’t I again, it depends on how the election turns out and the size of the loss if there is a loss and if and where it takes place. A lot of people haven’t been punished for a lot of things in American life when you might have expected them to. And the great book written by I’m not sure who, but that pulls all of these threads together when that book is written. Because when you go back and look at some of the stuff that you’ve forgotten, the various things that the president has said, which have been total fabrications and then saluted not just for the purposes of getting past a reporter asking you in the halls of Congress, but policy that has been saluted and supported when you string it all out and in a powerful narrative way, it’s quite it’s quite a lot of material. And when that book is written, it could very well come to define an age. And so there might be different waves of of this as also all kinds of things get discovered that we don’t even know are taking place right now. Because as Emily, going back to your point, Emily, about what Jeff Sessions and Rod Rosenstein did, is it’s the it’s the the frantic efforts to please the boss that have created all these behaviors. And we saw it with Kirstyn Nielsen and others. And this is just in the immigration range. There are know every department has a version of those stories.

S6: Yeah. The grifting also makes me feel like this has been if Trump loses and that remains a big if, it’s going to be going on until January 20th, like there’s still several weeks of the actual administration. And I. Not at all sure that even if Trump loses those people who just see this as a chance to grift off of the government’s money are going to be deterred, right. So you still have time to complete these contracts and defenselessness.

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S3: You still have time.

S6: The other thing I worry about in terms of lessons learned and consequences is there’s just so much like, you know, if Trump loses, it will be for so many different reasons. And I wonder if just the huge volume of corruption and bad judgment and immorality, will that make it easier for people who participated in one corner of it to let themselves off the hook?

S3: Right. Good question. I would make one final point here, which is to, I think, echo something one of you just said. I can’t remember which I apologize. In the case of the twenty five billion dollar potential spectrum giveaway, this was uncovered by CNN. Great work by Jake Tapper over there. And because of some very brave government sources who clearly channeled information to Tapper or let it be somehow got this information out. But what has not gotten out like that’s that is, I think, what’s going to be amazing to excavate if if there is no second Trump term, is what are all the things that you didn’t get stopped or didn’t get publicized, which were enormous, magnificent giveaways or or corruptions that we didn’t know about. On covid, there’s been a mix of good and bad news in recent weeks, we have case loads rising in Europe and the United States. The US is headed towards about 100000 new cases a day. It looks like we’re going to get there at some point this fall or in the winter. We have mortality at quite tragic levels around the world and in the US, although case death rates are going down, fewer, fewer people who get covered are dying of it. We have schools that have reopened, shutting back down in Boston. Restaurants that have reopened are not shutting back down in various places. The economy is in tatters. You have a Congress that has yet to pass a new rescue bill, even though people desperately need a new rescue bill. So, Emily, I want to start with you. You, like me, are massively frustrated by what’s going on with schools. What’s frustrating you?

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S6: Well, my school district still isn’t open at all. Not for one single day of instruction, though. There is a vote coming up here in a couple of weeks and it’s possible they’ll open in November, which I hope they do. On the other hand, winter is coming and the covid rates are up, ticking everywhere. What’s intensely frustrating to me about this part of the debate is that more and more we have research that shows that schools are not spreaders of covid in any kind of super spreader outbreak way, especially elementary schools. There’s been more research, more press coverage of this. And I think the notion that keeping elementary schools closed is grounded in science has just been really at this point, we can just cross it off the list. And yet we continue to have cities democratically run cities that are closing schools instead of closing things like indoor dining, which clearly do have an effect on increasing the rate of covid. And I mean, you know, restaurants pay taxes and school children don’t. And they don’t seem to have a powerful enough constituency pushing for them to be in school. But we started getting the first data from remote learning this fall actually from D.C. and it was really distressing. K through to kids are nine percent behind hitting their literacy benchmarks and the kindergarteners were more than 20 percent behind. And then we are going to see the price of what we have done with this focus on remote school. We’re going to see it play out for a long time, I fear, and the the choosing of priorities in cities that are supposed to be thinking about science and be putting kids first is really baffling to me. And I also feel like and I’m sure people will criticize me for saying this, but I think the teachers unions have not been willing to really look at the data and in any way put themselves on the line. And I am not saying the teachers who are high risk or older should be in the classroom. I understand that fear, but there were better ways of doing this than we have chosen. And I feel like this is true in my city and a lot of cities, the lack of creative thinking and the cost to the kids, it’s just really, really upsetting to me.

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S3: Do you think there’s been any significant improvement in that question, any significant experimentation or ambition? And that question since we started talking about this for five, six months ago, Emily, I mean, what’s what’s surprising to me is like yet we knew that spring was going to be a rat fuck and it was a rat fuck. Like it was clear once schools shut down, spring was lost. But then it was by in starting in June, July, every person who had a child in school that was thinking, how the hell are we going to get through this fall? What’s going to happen, how we’re going to deal with this. And so there were all kinds of things, outdoor classrooms, you know, doing paths, different forms of remote learning, you know, bringing back younger kids. Is it your sense that there has been adequate experimentation and change in that or just not?

S6: No. I mean, there are some some places like Rhode Island, Gina Raimondo, who’s the governor of Rhode Island, she really pulled for this. And those schools are open much more than some of the other blue states. I mean, in the red states, there are schools open and they actually have not been super spreaders of covid in those places either. There’s increasing data shows that, not surprisingly, if the kids if everybody wears masks, you can really, really keep the rate of transmission very low in terms of outdoor to air. I mean, what I see are the private schools experimenting and doing really well at it. And, you know, never in our history that I know of have we basically given up on universal education for people who go to public school for free. And that’s where we’re at. We are at the point now where if you pay for school, you are likely in a nice pod, which much more outdoor learning and things are going fine for you in terms of your kid’s schooling. It’s not perfect. It’s not the normal, you know, more fun in. Her actions, but you’re getting in-person instruction, and if you are not paying for school, especially if you live in a city, then you have little or no in-person instruction. I mean, in Connecticut, every district is open except for New Haven. And, you know, that is largely the fault of our Board of Education. And the suburbs are doing fine and the private schools and the charters are doing fine and is very, very unequal.

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S3: Emily, one of the things I’ve struggled with is this. I live in Washington, D.C. My youngest is in public school here. It’s all been remote learning. And there is a lot of anxiety in D.C. public schools and D.C. public school families about returning to in-person education. And D.C. public schools are very heavily black. The school population is very heavily black, also significantly Latino. And covid has hit so hard in those communities in a way that it hasn’t hit nearly as hard and wealthier suburban communities where public schools may be more open. Like, how do you think? I totally agree with you that this has been a massive failure, but there is this real dread about the disease. And it’s not it’s not an irrational dread. It’s a dread based on how devastating it’s been for black and brown people in this country. So how do we balance that anxiety with the fact that we’re also losing a generation of children?

S6: Oh, absolutely. I mean, and also the mistrust, the idea that the public schools are really going to be equipped and are going to keep everybody safe. I think in lower income communities where the schools often have fewer resources, it’s much harder to have that trust. I mean, I and it is absolutely true. I completely understand. And also in my own city, why people of color are more frightened about covid. Absolutely. Rationally, it is also true that the surveys of parents have to fear learning loss for their children. You also see people of color more concerned in that domain, too. And so it’s like they’re getting hit both ways. And what should have happened last spring and summer was a huge national effort to make sure the schools had the resources they needed to open, to reach out to families, to reassure them that we were going to do this really carefully and safely for their kids and that they were going to be a priority. And I think it also had to be teachers and staff to a set of reassurances that you are being honored for doing something heroic here, just like we talk about first responders and we are going to have your back. And none of that happened. And some of it was because Trump was so divisive and he called for reopening schools in this blanket kind of irresponsible way. Part of it, I really do think the unions had a role here. And then I think there was a failure of state and local leadership also. Now, it is fair to also mention, like there are huge so many other challenges going on during these times, but it’s the lack of prioritization for the kids that just gets me every time. And as I watch this third wave or whatever, we never really ended the first and second waves. But this spike going on across the country, it just feels like school is going to be potentially out of reach for a longer period of time.

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S4: And that is a tragedy and it has generational consequences. Yes. Yeah. The one other thing to just add to this is that when we talk about the summer, this spike in in the fall, which, by the way, was predicted and which, by the way, public health officials were trying to get the president to help. When you talk about a national message and he didn’t lend lend a hand or didn’t put his order in the water, it’s now according The New York Times, the worst fires outbreaks in the US are now in rural areas, which has a whole set of challenges already, both with hospital capacity. This is not exactly on the school question, but it’s these are areas where it’s going to where getting hit is a greater challenge because of the they don’t have the infrastructure to handle it if it gets truly out of control before we close this out.

S3: We’re just a couple of weeks out from the election and Congress and the president have not agreed on another relief package, even though it is quite clear that Americans are in terrible economic shape and they’re not in terrible economic shape because of the they’ve been locked down there in terrible economic shape because the nature of this virus and the nature of the anxiety means that huge swaths of the economy travel, any in-person gatherings, dining out, lots of other aspects of it are not working. And that has put millions and millions and millions of Americans out of work. And many who remain at work are getting paid less or are at risk of losing their job. And there’s an enormous amount of economic anxiety and uncertainty. We’re already in this recession. People are spending down their savings and yet there is not yet a relief package. Mitch McConnell this week basically said blatantly the president should not sign a relief package. He I mean, I think it was a purely partisan move. It was. A way of making the economy weaker in the event of a Biden presidency. What’s going on here, John, with the politics?

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S4: Well, he also can’t get the votes for some of his I mean, he can’t get the votes for some of his members. And so a big, bloody, ugly fight within his caucus is not what you want going into an election.

S3: But he just needs I mean, honestly, they need three votes, three Republican votes to get a package passed. It’s just him saying we don’t want to pass a package that doesn’t have a majority. I mean, it’s not that they need 26 Republicans to pass. A relief bill, they need all the Democrats and three Republicans. That’s it, that’s just like want their own stupid rule. Sorry.

S4: Well, but you don’t want that. You don’t want to do that going into a into an election. You know, there will be something that that happens after the election once we see what the results are really during the lame duck, you think? Well, I think I mean, let’s imagine I mean, it depends what the results are. You know, if it’s a huge swamping for Republicans, then those who are still around might find I mean, I am of this view that if there is a swamp thing and this is not to say that that’s what I think is going to happen because I don’t know what’s going to happen. But if there’s a swamping of Republicans, one of the ways to again, this is in the scenario of a big loss by Republicans to bleach out the the the trumpeter’s would be to do lots of aggressive action. That is the opposite of what happened in the Trump years. And this would be a way to start on that road. Won’t happen. Well, yeah, that’s the scenario relies on a lot of things happening that that are, you know, not certain.

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S3: Let’s go to cocktail chatter. This week’s cocktail chatter is brought to you by the Makers series featuring Adelaida Vineyards. John, when you were having a glass of their Saraa, what will you be chattering about?

S4: Well, I’ll be chattering about a sad piece when normally I try to find things that are this is bittersweet. Anyway, it’s a wonderful piece in The New York Times by Nate Chinen. It’s about Keith Jarrett, the piano jazz piano virtuoso who had a series of strokes and he can no longer play again in public. So that’s incredibly sad. And the piece is very well done. And listening to Jarrett talk about his relationship with being a piano player and the fact that he no longer identifies himself as one when he was one of the great jazz pianist is just it’s it’s crushing and yet. It reintroduced me to his music and particularly this live concert that he did in nineteen seventy five, that’s just amazing. And so it’s a great it’s a great piece to read. And it and his music is worth discovering or listening to, if you like, jazz piano. So I was just really affected by it. And so I think other people might be too.

S3: Emily, when you’re having a glass of Adelaida vineyards and estate cerar, what are you going to be chattering about?

S6: My chatter is about an article in ProPublica by Joe Sexton. The title starts with the phrase, He’d waited decades to argue his innocence. And it’s about a man named Nelson Cruz who was convicted of murder in 1999 when he was 16 and has maintained his innocence and his efforts to get his conviction overturned in Brooklyn. He was before a judge who seemed like she was sympathetic and granted him a hearing. This is Judge QandA Simpson. But then it turned out that she had Alzheimer’s and was just incredibly sad because she was in her early to mid 50s while this was going on. And so Sexton just does a great and very sensitive job of tracing all the twists and turns of this case, which the Brooklyn DA’s office continues to stand behind this conviction. The Brooklyn D.A. has a conviction integrity unit. But this case, they don’t believe that Cruz is innocent. And yet the mystifying behavior of this judge who, of course, turns out to be suffering from dementia is just makes it very hard to figure out whether Cruz really got his day in court. And I think particularly because my grandfather was a judge who had Alzheimer’s, this was really affecting for me to read.

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S3: I feel like Emily. Have we discussed this, that there was this pretty good study about the prevalence of Alzheimer’s among older judges and that. Yes, that there’s a significant amount of it and it’s not really acknowledged and it’s covered up and that there should be some there needs to be some sort of more systematic way of of nudging judges off the bench when they’re not really capable of judging anyone.

S6: One of the things SEXON does really well is talk about the research showing that there’s really no remedy for judges who suffer from mental afflictions like this. I think often because judges are in positions of power and they can be kind of buffered by their staff, it can be really hard to get them to step down. And so all of that plays into the story. So I recommend it. The beginning of the table is he’d waited decades to argue his innocence. And you can find it if you look for Joe Sextons work and Pro Publica.

S3: All right, my Chatur. I have had the Adelaida vineyards and estates are in fact, I finished a bottle of it last night and chattered a lot as I was doing it by Chatur today. Is about my new venture, so those of you who are at the top of the hour, you heard me say that I’m now at city cast, so I’m now running a company called City Cast. You can go to City Castle Farm to see it. The firm is a clue. It’s an audio company. So what I’m going to build I’m going to chatter about what I’m going to build at City Kest. We’re going to build a network of daily news podcasts around the country and cities, and we’re going to launch in a handful of cities this winter. I have written a couple of pieces about this and done some interviews about why I’m doing it. But just to boil it down into a few sentences, basically with the pandemic, with the economic crisis, with the Black Lives Matter movement, America has an immense need for great local journalism and it’s never needed it more. And yet this is a moment when local journalism is in deep trouble. We’ve had 2000 newspapers close in the past 16 years. I believe that podcast and I think this podcast is proof of it. It’s testimony. I believe that podcast, which are intimate and curious and passionate, are the ideal mechanism for building community and connections and cities that are buffeted by crisis and fighting for their future. I think that if you create a great podcast that is a that with a charismatic, dynamic host who really wants to speak for their city and really wants to ask great questions about their city and loves their city to death and also thinks it’s it’s really messed up and needs to be fixed. And having podcast hosts like that and combining that with some elements of news and and culture, I think you can create something that’s going to be wonderful. So I need your help doing it. When I went to Atlas Obscura, a number of you wrote in and I ended up working with some people who are gabfests listeners. And it was great. They were fantastic colleagues. I also end up working people who are friends of gabfests listeners. So I’m going to be hiring a ton and I need great people around the country who have competitive pay. These are full time jobs, excellent benefits. We’re going to build a diverse, inclusive workplace. And I would like to hear from you. So I’m hiring especially need charismatic, curious, dynamic talk hosts who really love the city they live in. I need great senior producers. I need great junior producers. I need reporters. I need editors, because we’re also going to do a daily newsletter. So we need people can write it, need project managers. And I’m not sure yet what cities we’re going to build in. Where we’re going to build is going to depend a lot on where great people are and especially where I can find great producers and great, great hosts. So please, you can write to me at David Plotz at City Kasdorf FM or just check out City Cast FM. There’s a jobs page you can put your application in. I am really hungry to hear from you. And I would note that city has has a which shares an owner with the Slate political gabfest. It’s owned by the Graham Holdings Company, which is the company that owns Slate. It used to own The Washington Post. It has a really long history in local journalism. It owns six local television stations and it has a long history and audio with Slate, of course. And it was a big investor in Gimlet and it was a megaphone, which is a big podcasting company. And we’re a for profit because we think it’s really important to figure out for democracy, to figure out how journalism can be a profitable business and how local journalism can be a profitable business. It’s really critical. So, again, check us out at city form or email me at David Plotz at City Castrato FM. And I can’t wait to hear from you and hopefully to work with you.

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S4: It’s so exciting. It sounds it’s great and has a great name and it’s a great project.

S3: Listeners, a panoply, a plethora, a cornucopia of amazing listener chatter that you tweeted to us at at Slate Gabfests this week. I actually ended up with like four of them, six of them that I wanted to do. I apologize. We we need to find a way to give a home to all these incredible listener chatters. But I’m going to point to one that came from at Green Neck Green Neck. And it’s actually a story which I remember seeing when it first came out, which is back in twenty thirteen in the Smithsonian. But it just because it came out in 2013 doesn’t mean it’s not still amazing. It’s a mind blowing fact. The headline is there are whales alive today who were born before Moby Dick was written. And it’s just like this astonishing fact that whales have this tremendously long lifespan are certain ones do, and they’ve seen the whole stretch of modern human history as green rights. Like what? What would it look like? You were born in a pre-industrial world and now you’re seeing, you know, nuclear submarines coming by you. And all of that has happened just in your lifetime. And it’s and it’s amazing to think that these whales, most of whom the ones are writing about in this, were bowhead whales in the waters off Alaska. What they’ve been through in the time that, you know, are we’ve lived our parents lived their parents, their parents, their parents and their parents lived so well.

S5: What a deep thought feel like that’s a John Dickerson and thought, you know, I was I was in a house recently that was built in seventeen ninety five and and looking at them old beams that are still holding up its roof.

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S4: And I had a similar thought, which was just the that, you know, some dude probably, you know, in some kind of smock with with a weird kind of hammer, was putting that up when George Washington was in his second term.

S5: And just the kind of, I don’t know, to be in the presence of things that are that old really hit me at that time. And it was just I was just walloped again. When you were talking about the bowhead whales, do you think a whale helped build it? No, I don’t think so. I don’t I think that they’re most of their construction was underwater.

S2: That is our gabfest for today were produced by Jonathan Frank, our researcher is Bridget Dunlap. Gabriel Roth is editorial director of Slate podcast. And Thomas is managing producer. And Alicia Montgomery is the executive producer of Slate podcasts. Please follow us on Twitter at at Slate Gabfests and tweet Chatur to us there for Emily Bazelon and John Dickerson. I’m David Plotz. We’ll be back with you regular time next Thursday. Our last show before the election. We’ll talk to you then.

S3: Hello, Slate plus. How are you you’re better than Jeff Toobin, I bet. So this is just a crazy, crazy story and those of you who follow media probably already know it. But I’ll quickly recap it for those of you who don’t, because it has relevance. I was telling my brother about it last night. He had not heard it so clearly. Not all of our listeners know the story. Jeffrey Toobin is a distinguished legal analyst for The New Yorker and CNN. He has been a writer at The New Yorker for 25 years. And he was participating in an exercise that The New Yorker was doing with WNYC, the radio station where they were doing an election simulation, where they were role playing, what might happen under certain scenarios and the election, I guess, where are they going to turn to a podcast?

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S6: Emily, was that the purpose or are they just practicing? I’m still confused about that.

S3: Anyway, it was a big zoom zoom call and various people were participating. Masha Gessen was playing Trump. There were other camera, but there there was lots of it was sounded fun, like it would have been a good time. And Cuban was playing the role of the courts on this. At some point, he decided to stop playing the role of the courts. At some point there’s a zoom breakout session and the cameras are still rolling. And but it’s sort of situation slightly changed, but the cameras are still rolling. And the other people on the call, the Zoome call, realised to their horror that Jeffrey Toobin is masturbating on the call and does not realize that his cameras on and. It is obviously excruciatingly embarrassing for them and it is humiliating for Tubin when I guess he realizes what’s happening. This story gets written up by Vice Tubin has been suspended by The New Yorker. And there’s been a whole kind of raft of discussion and debate about whether he should be punished for this, whether he should be punished more for this. Why are so many men defending him for masturbating? Like what’s what’s what’s the deal with people defending him for masturbating during a Zoome call? Is this about some sort of white privilege, like what’s going on anyway? It’s just a wild, wild story. It obsessed media Twitter for about twenty seven hours this week. And I’m interested in your thoughts. Emily, do you want to go first? John, why don’t you go first. Emily Resat, you feeling relief and not having to go for this with Joe Biden to be like, oh yeah.

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S4: Oh so I mean this is. Where to begin? So let me see if I can put the things on the table that are a part of the conversation without seeming to prioritize one over the other or or make a case for one over the other. So you have there’s a workplace question and a harassment question, which is in one area, then another is just human sexuality issues and uncomfortableness with that which is in another basket. Then there is the great phrase that Chris and Tropp used on this podcast a thousand years ago, which is on the Internet. The Internet allows everybody to egg the same house. Hmm. Which is the punishment in the crime. And whether, you know, global humiliation is is a sufficient pun, is a sufficient to the event. Anything else? It’s a part of this, Emily, that we should put on the table as we try to.

S6: Well, I think also just the mixing of the workplace and the home. Right. Like, obviously, this wouldn’t have happened at a meeting. And we’re all at home in our work lives and home lives are blending together. And I mean, this was an incredibly unfortunate example of this, but I feel like that’s also part of the conversation, right? Yeah.

S3: Emily, did you. Was it you who mentioned this or. I read it elsewhere about the boy I think was black, a kid, maybe eight six who was on a Zoome call for school and there was a toy gun.

S6: I think I checked somewhere that at some point.

S3: Yeah. And he was and he was, you know, accused, charged with bringing a gun to school. Like, here’s a toy that’s in his home that’s visible. And it’s like he’s he’s one of the the Columbine killers. It’s it’s crazy that these things. But it also I mean, but it’s not as simple as saying like, well, you should be allowed to do in your home what you want to do in your home, because you also need to be highly aware of of the situation you’re in. Like that’s the that’s the price that we’re paying for the stupid pandemic. It’s like you do have to think about. I was I mean, this is like posthuman. One of my kids was on a Zoome call for school and I realized and I was like walking into my room to change. And I realized, oh, I’m slightly visible in this shot. I got to, you know, have him move his camera because, you know, you can’t have your father changing while you’re while you’re at school. Like, that doesn’t make sense, but it’s. Yeah, I don’t know. I mean, do you think do you think the humiliation is sufficient, Emily, that punishment enough or does there need to be more punishment because it was a form of sexual harassment in the workplace or sexual caused? It’s caused certainly discomfort for colleagues.

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S6: So I mean, I should preface this by saying I know Jeff a little bit. I respect his work a great deal. So maybe that’s affecting my view of this. I do feel like the humiliation is maybe more than sufficient punishment. And I guess I, I, I’m not really sure, like, you know, of course what I’m sure the people on this call could have or did experience it as like super weird and maybe in some way is like a violation. But if someone is not aware of what they’re doing and doesn’t in any way intend to put you in a situation that has sex involved, it, that’s discomforting. Is that really harassment? And like, I’m sort of wonder why this even had to get reported out in some public way. I just really wonder about that. It just seems like one of those things that, like, you could argue that it’s wrong. I mean, you know, maybe this is like in some way and a violation of his marriage oath, but that seems like it’s between him and his wife. And I am just a little uncertain about why we’re all gawking over it, why that was like a necessary development. I mean, I was trying to think, like, is this like Louis C.K. who was asking women?

S4: No, no, not even not not with him. That’s the I think you put your finger, though. I think you’ve put your finger on a very important distinction. And yet some people are treating it as if it’s the same as Louis C.K. and it’s not. And making that distinction clear is probably quite important. What’s the difference between the two of them?

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S6: Yeah, to me it also seems different, but I also feel like we’re on some slippery slope. So Louis C.K., just to spell it out, not that I’m dying to, was asking women what he did if he could masturbate in front of them and they didn’t really feel in a position to consent or not consent. And that seems like super creepy and definitely like harassment. But this was not that. And I, I just and I don’t know, it just makes me a little puzzled, like and I do think that humiliation has. It’s been I mean, over the top for that everybody’s egging the same house reason that you brought up John and and I do think that that’s enough personal.

S3: Why? Why is it so? I feel the same way, Emily. But then then I feel like, well, this is because I’m a middle aged white guy. And and so I think I’m sure my my empathy, my mind goes to the humiliation to being felt first and foremost, and that that is where I’m resting. But. I saw so many people on the Internet, mostly younger people and not all women, but more women than men sort of say like, well, why are you why are you so filled with with so much sympathy and you giving so much care to this this person and. And I had to ask myself, like, why am I filled with sympathy and giving care? I mean, he’s been grotesquely humiliated. Like any time Jeff Toobin is in public for the rest of his life, every person he meets his has that thought in their head, which is so distressing because he’s socially important, valuable body of work standing behind him.

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S6: Like the idea that you can ruin all of that in a moment is just distressing to me. And yeah, like he’s a middle aged white guy, but we feel sympathy for lots of people who are publicly humiliated. I mean, the analogy of that kid bringing the toy gun not to school at all, to his computer screen, like we felt compassion and empathy for that person to it just seems to me like you can’t rule out feeling compassion and empathy for middle aged white men. Like that’s not fair either.

S4: Yeah. Here’s another question, which, David, you, I think put wisely and I’m going to not do it as well as you did during the Anthony Weiner business, which was I think you asked. What whether he would be the subject of the same kind of derision and and mocking if he’d just been having a garden variety affair, which on the moral balance sheet or hierarchy, I guess is what I mean, an actual physical affair with a woman, not his wife, is worse on the moral hierarchy and yet would not make someone the subject of such derision. Right. Right. And so let’s so pore through that for a moment.

S3: Yeah. I always felt like I mean, I know, John, your your feelings about Eliot Spitzer and mine are different, but I always felt like one of the things that was so devastating in the Eliot Spitzer case and the Eliot Spitzer’s sexual disgrace and Eliot is a friend of mine, I should note, was the details, which I have no idea if they’re true or not, about him wearing socks. And everyone remembers that. And like you talked to anybody about about the Eliot Spitzer case, they’ll bring up the socks and just think like, you know, this is a man who’s who’s engaging in that was an illegal act. But it was you know, it’s a private sexual behavior. We are all everyone deserves to have a zone of their own, which is private, where they can express certain things about their sexuality, so particular and so unusual. And in people, you know, express it in so many different ways that that the casting judgment on it and casting judgment on for the for the ways that people are carrying out is feels so wrong to me, especially in assuming that people are not being hurt and people are, that whatever is being done is consensual. It’s like like let people do what brings them pleasure and joy. If it if it is consensual and and people are not being hurt. And it does feel to me so cruel to mock certain kinds of sexual behavior because it’s not like the norm.

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S4: I agree with all that. I just just to read it, just to remind listeners of our disagreement on Eliot Spitzer, I agree with all that and all of that. With respect to his case. My only point was that I wish he had ever shown any of that similar compassion in the way he used to do his work then. And so I agree totally with that sentiment, though.

S1: Point taken. I mean, I think the other thing about this and part of why it got so much attention is we’re all human zoo like we can all imagine humiliating ourselves on Zoom.

S6: In fact, it’s amazing that this or something else like it hadn’t already happened 50 times. Right. Or variations thereof. And so there’s this way in which like even if you’re not someone who would call a stranger for sex and like, masturbate on a work call, you might do something else on a work call that would embarrass you. And so that, like we’re all slightly separated from this is also added to the sort of titillating factor. And I think our own, like, mob mentality about it.

S3: I don’t know if you guys remember this. There was a conundrum show a couple of years ago, maybe even this year. One of the questions was what’s the most embarrassing thing you could do at work? And my example was this because this happened to me all the time, even the presumed era I would be on Zoome calls before a pandemic started. I was on a lot of them calls at my old company. And there were there were absolutely times when I had camera on, totally forgot about it, wasn’t looking at the screen, was doing things that I probably shouldn’t be doing, like nothing. I wasn’t too borning. Let’s just let’s just get it out there. Not to many, but like, you know, not paying attention in ways that were disrespectful and and, you know, clipping my fingernails and things like at that level. And it’s a it’s fucking embarrassing and it must happen all the time. But I don’t think people tubin I don’t think most people are tuning and also hears this.

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S4: Now I’m going to throw another cat amongst the pigeons, which is someone short for me on the hierarchy of offenses and particularly the workplace. Part of it, those people who have not realized that they were on Zoome call and have gone into the bathroom or have thought they they turned off the radio and did so. Yeah.

S6: The person who flush the toilet on the Supreme Court argument last spring.

S4: Yeah, right. And so what where does that fall and why is that? And by what degrees is that so much more forgivable as it was immediately forgiven as an accident of time then this accident, which there is no evidence that this was planned, obviously, you know, so there you go.

S3: Yeah, it was wild, man. I yeah. All right. Well, Byfleet plus.