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Legendary Investor Bogle on the Economy; Passing Basketballs or Passing Grades?; What "Socially Conscious" NCAA Brackets Look Like. Aired 9-10a ET

Aired March 18, 2017 - 09:00   ET


[09:00:00] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And ammunitions within the structure. Yes, we are aware of that.


SAVIDGE: The explosion were so powerful, the home next door had to be condemned because of the significant structural damage. Again no serious or even significant injuries.

That's it for us. We'll see you back here at the 10:00 hour, Eastern Time of course.

PAUL: All right. "SMERCONISH" is coming at you now. Stay close.

MICHAEL SMERCONISH, CNN HOST: I am Michael Smerconish coming to you from Philadelphia where we welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world.

President Trump and the White House still promoting an unsubstantiated wiretap accusation even at an Angela Merkel press conference. So what would happen if the known facts were litigated in court? In other words, does President Obama have a case for libel? And where is President Trump's ongoing battle with the intelligence committee heading?

Former NSA and CIA head General Michael Hayden is here.

Plus, we live amidst great political uncertainty but the stock market is at an all-time high. What explains the disconnect? Investment titan John C. Bogle, founder of Vanguard, is here to explain.

And the "The Washington Post's" Chris Cillizza says White House spokesman Sean Spicer hit a new low this week. But what does Spicer's boss think? Cillizza, soon joining the CNN team, is here.

And March Madness is in full swing. But how many of the collegiate players will actually graduate? I am going to talk to someone who built a fantasy bracket based on academics. Look who wins.

But first it's now been two weeks. On the morning of March 4th, President Trump sent a series of tweets that have now literally been viewed around the world including this claim. "Terrible. Just found out that Obama had my 'wires tapped' in Trump Tower just before the victory. Nothing found. This is McCarthyism." And of course that Twitter storm ended with Trump flat-out calling his predecessor, President Obama, bad or sick, quote, "How low has President Obama gone to tap my phones during the very sacred election process. This is Nixon/Watergate. Bad of sick guy."

Look, I'm a trial lawyer. And it occurs to me that the combination of those tweets is potentially defamatory. Not that I'd expect President Obama to file suit but let's game this out. If Obama were to sue Trump, Trump a public figure, then Obama's burden of proof would be actual malice. Meaning he would have to show knowledge of falsity or reckless disregard for the truth. In other words it would be reckless for President Trump to say that President Obama committed a crime if President Trump knew that to be false or that he was reckless in making the assertion.

Now of course truth would be a defense for President Trump. So what evidence or witnesses might Trump present on his own behalf to establish truth?

Not Devin Nunes, the Republican chair of the House Intel Committee who this week says he doesn't think there was an actual tap of Trump Tower. Nor James Clapper, the former director of National Intelligence who said no FISA warrant was issued on his watch for such a wiretap.

FBI Director James Comey will see testify on Capitol Hill come Monday. We already know that he was reportedly so upset at President Trump's claim that he wanted the Justice Department to refute it. And trump can't count on the Brits whose Prime Minister Theresa May had a spokesperson issue a statement saying the claim that their intel aided Obama in tapping Trump was, quote, "ridiculous."

Now on Thursday, Sean Spicer spent nine minutes quoting a long list of mostly conservative news sources that have reported in varying degrees about theories of the government having surveilled President Trump or people close to it. But none of that is coming into evidence in our hypothetical. It's all hearsay. In fact it's unreliable, double or triple hearsay at best.

Many relied on anonymous sources of the very kind that President Trump has been railing against. Trump relied on Andrew Napolitano at FOX who had no firsthand information, of GCHQ, the equivalent of our NSA, having spied on Trump at the behest of Obama. FOX News itself said it could not substantiate Judge Napolitano's commentary.

And speaking of the former president, we know from the statement issued by Obama's spokesperson that he claims to have never ordered the surveillance of a U.S. citizen.

So what's the verdict? The verdict is that President Obama appears to have a very strong claim for libel.

[09:05:02] He can establish every element of the tort. So what are President Obama's potential damages, conceivably he's entitled to punitive damage. Think about that for a minute. Punitive damages are damages designed to hurt, to punish, to deter. But of course, it all depends on the composition of the jury because to the 46 percent that got Trump elected, this is just noise.

So what's going to happen next with President Trump's ongoing battle with the intel community?

Joining me now the former director of the CIA and NSA, General Michael Hayden. His memoir, "Playing to the Edge: American Intelligence in the Age of Terror" is now in paperback.

General, GCHQ is the British equivalent of the NSA that you ran here in the United States. Is it conceivable to you that the British equivalent of the NSA would get a telephone call from an American president who says please tap the phones or the office space of someone running for president and that they would cooperate.

MICHAEL HAYDEN, FORMER DIRECTOR OF THE CIA AND NSA: Michael, I'm sorry, I'm trying to suppress a laugh here. That is -- that is so far from reality, so far from the relationship we have within the five communities. We are really close.

It is an integrated operation but one absolute rule is no one can ask a partner to do that which is illegal for himself or that which is illegal for the partner. And that's never been done in the Five Eyes alliance.

SMERCONISH: Has the NSA, to your knowledge -- I have to ask this just to close the loop -- ever been asked in a similar type of circumstances by one of our allies, will you please eavesdrop on someone seeking the highest office in our land?

HAYDEN: Michael, that's way up there in terms of seriousness. I'm telling you we can't do anything for an ally that the ally itself isn't allowed to do. And so no, you can't -- you can't export or offshore these requirements because your law prevents you from doing them. I mean, look, this is done by the rule of law.

I get it that it's espionage, it's secret, it gets to be mysterious. But you're actually seeing some things and your reporting already has reflected it, we get tight oversight from our Congress if they ever got wind of this. My god, it would be a nuclear detonation.

SMERCONISH: Where is it going and what concerns General Michael Hayden the most?

HAYDEN: Yes. So number one, because the White House is sticking to this story in about what, Michael, 15-minute period yesterday, we embarrassed, one, and angered another of our most important allies in the world. So that's what I'm looking at right now is the collateral damage, and oh yes, by the way I'm sure spirits are not really that high out of Fort Meade and the National Security Agency right now.

But, Michael, your core question, where is this going? I found that interview with the president and Tucker Carlson quite interesting. Some folks said that he was doubling down on his claim. Actually I don't think so. I think he was picking up his chips and going to another table. He was backing away from the literal accusation that President Obama had done which you've reported on ordered the wiretapping of Trump in Trump Tower.

I think where this is going, Michael, and I think this is the lifeline, I think the administration is hoping they can grab onto is something that we call incidental collection. It may take a minute but I can explain to you and your viewers how this might work, if you like.


HAYDEN: So if we're up --

SMERCONISH: Please, do it.

HAYDEN: Yes. If we're up against the legitimate borne intelligence target, and let me just, for purposes of explanation say we're up against -- we're targeting and you'd want us to do this, a Russian oligarch who's involved in money laundering or how about sanction busting? All right? And so we're on that target. And this is by the way, Michael, this happens fairly routinely. If that target now gets involved in a communication to, from or even about a U.S. person, we're still allowed to continue to cover the target.

We just have to protect the U.S. person's privacy. We do what's called minimize the information. So we might say, this Russian oligarch in an extended conversation with a named U.S. person so on and so forth said this and we keep the U.S. identity minimized, unavailable to our customers, unless, of course, Michael, the name U.S. identity is critical to the intelligence. Let's say, for example, that the oligarch was actually arranging an illegal transfer of funds.

[09:10:04] In which case we would unmask the identity so that we'd have a full picture of the intelligence. Now keep in mind, we're just targeting the foreigners. This is called incidental collection and the unmasking of U.S. identity isn't Trump, isn't Bush, it goes back 40 years these procedures to the reforms in the American intelligence communities in the 1970s.

So I suspect if there is any example of a U.S. identity being unmasked that has any relationship to the Trump campaign or Trump Tower, and again, Michael, very normal, very correct, very legal, I think at that point the White House goes, a-ha, I told you so. I think this is where it is going.

SMERCONISH: Do I understand General Hayden to be predicting that perhaps the next step of this is that the Trump White House seeks to criminalize the incidental collection of U.S. intelligence? Is that what you are saying?

HAYDEN: Yes. Mischaracterized and criminalized, and Michael, very tellingly, Devin Nunes and Adam Schiff, chair and ranking of the House Intelligence Committee, within the last 36 hours have actually asked the American intelligence community, was there any incidental collection? Were any identities unmasked, and who requested the unmasking? So I do think we are going to that point, again which I think at the end of the day will be mischaracterized and there will be an attempt to claim that that's some sort of violation.

SMERCONISH: OK. That's a pretty significant prognostication from General Hayden. What would be the impact of that on the intelligence community?

HAYDEN: Look, anybody who knows the goodness would simply go yes, that's how this is always done. This is actually a very good way to do our job and protect American privacy. And so it would be just kind of the wheels of the process going forward.

By the way, Michael, that procedure I just laid out for you is approved by the attorney general, reviewed annually, and those procedures are annually laid out to the intelligence committees who understand them and remember that unmasking thing that I did, Michael? Is so routine that it's done within the agency. You don't need to go to the White House. You don't need to go to the court. It doesn't even come to the director. It's done by the analysts in closed operation with NSA lawyers who know this best.

SMERCONISH: Imagine that you're still running the CIA or you're still running the NSA, and President Trump calls General Hayden and says, General, I need to know, was the Trump Tower surveilled, could you answer that question?

HAYDEN: Of course, I could. And that if he had the follow-on question, whether was there any incidental collection, and did you unmark any identities, I can answer that question, too, because, Michael, I have. Recall this is years ago when we were trying to get an ambassador, Mr. Bolton, confirmed for the United Nations. He had actually asked for some unmasking of identities and some members of Congress were kind of rendering their garments that this is some kind of great offense.

I went on, explained the process to them, and actually indicated that these requests from Ambassador Bolton were actually quite appropriate and innocent. So again, we're not out of the norm here. It's just new to a lot of people. It's not new itself.

SMERCONISH: Final question, and you've just answered it, but I want to underscore this. He often watches us. Thank you for that, Mr. President, we like you watching. If he's watching right now at Mar-a- Lago, he can pick up that phone this minute, call the CIA, call the NSA, and ask the question, was Trump Tower surveilled and he'd get an answer, right?

HAYDEN: Michael, all he needed to do two weeks ago was to roll over, punch that button on the red switch, and say, get these guys down here for lunch and he would have been satisfied and we would have been done with this.

SMERCONISH: General Hayden, thank you as well. I really appreciate you being here.

HAYDEN: Thanks, Michael.

SMERCONISH: What are your thoughts, tweet me wow. Tweet me @smerconish. And I have nothing for forensic. I mean, just nothing would preclude that kind of a phone call from being made at this moment. So then of course, folks, you've got to ask, why doesn't he make that call? Maybe because he already knows what the answer is and doesn't want to have to then be held accountable for it.

Anyway, tweet me @smerconish. I'll read some during the course of the program.

Catherine, hit me with something. "Smerconish, to 46 percent who got Trump elected, you and the media are just noise."

Robert, that's sad, isn't it? Because I deal in facts, my friend. And I just presented to you as a trial lawyer how this issue would be litigated if that were to be the case.

[09:15:04] And what a shame if a certain number among us don't care about the facts.

Up next, Chris Cillizza, editor of the "Washington Post's" "The Fix," wrote that Sean Hannity had the worst week in Washington and he had hit a new low on Thursday. But would Spicer's boss agree? Chris is here to discuss.


SMERCONISH: At Sean Spicer's press conference, he refused to back down from the president's wiretapping claims. The "Washington Post's" Chris Cillizza said that Spicer had the worst week in Washington but would Spicer's boss agree?

Joining me now is Chris Cillizza, managing editor of the "Washington Post's" politics section. He writes "The Fix" blog. Has been a frequent guest on my Sirius XM radio program and I am elated that he's coming to CNN on April 3rd.

Thank you so much for being here. Hey, I think before the break, I think I said that Sean Hannity had the worse week in Washington.


SMERCONISH: His week wasn't so great -- his week wasn't so great either. But you said that Sean Spicer's week wasn't so hot. But would his boss agree?

CILLIZZA: Yes. First of all, thank you for the kind wishes. It's wonderful to be on TV with you.

[09:20:02] No, his boss wouldn't agree and that's the sort of fundamental problem here, Michael, which is there is an audience of one for these briefings and I mean, an attentive audience of one. Donald Trump watches Sean Spicer perform in these press briefings. And what you saw on Thursday I think is something that Donald Trump probably applauded.

The problem is by Thursday night, the U.S. was apologizing to Britain for saying, as General Hayden made clear, saying something that simply isn't true. That, well, maybe Britain was involved in the wiretapping of Trump Tower.

So the problem here is that, yes, I think Sean Spicer in Donald Trump's eye did a good job but in terms of presenting facts and using the words that matter when you are standing behind the podium as a spokesman of the United States, not just of Donald Trump but of the United States, I think it is a dangerous precedent to cite columnists and people who are -- these are not intelligence professionals. These are people just writing things. You cherry pick what you want to make a case that pleases your boss, sure. But this is the United States and our well-being in the world we're talking about.

SMERCONISH: I vacillate. I mean, he is an awfully nice guy and I dealt with him throughout the course of the campaign, Sean Spicer, came on the program with regularly. And I find myself saying, you know, he's a nice guy, and he's got a really tough job having to please his boss.

CILLIZZA: Virtually impossible.



SMERCONISH: Impossible. And then, Chris, I say, yes, but you can't spin it this way and rely on unsubstantiated charges. Where do you come down in this calculation?

CILLIZZA: Yes, I mean, look, I have known Sean on and off for probably 20 years, I'm getting old, and I agree with you. Not a malevolent person in any way, shape or form. And at some level to your point, Michael, doing his job. The problem here, though, is that he -- he knew what he was getting into it. It's not as though when you accept to be the White House press secretary for Donald Trump, you are not clear on what that might mean.

You know your boss, the president of the United States, is an avid media consumer, no matter he says. You know he is someone who think he is his best spokesman. Right? So you know it's a difficult job. You know that you are going to have to walk a very fine line between being honest and as transparent as you possibly can be with a press corps that is a constituency of yours as well in terms of trying to make sure that their jobs are not easy, but that their job -- you're doing what you can to help them do their job day in and day out and with a president who is fundamentally adversarial to that group of people.

So the thing about Sean is he knew what he was getting into. Now I would say any flak, anyone who's been in press relations for a long time, this is the top of the mountain. White House press secretary is the -- you know, the big job. There's a reason we remember, you know, Jay Carney or Tony Snow, or Mike McCurry, right? These are very -- Robert Gibbs. These are high profile jobs. It's hard to say no. It's just, I think, Sean is in an incredibly position, caught between sort of a huge press critic, who also happens to be his boss and a media who is I think very rightly saying you can't just say things that aren't true and we have to write them down. That's not our jobs.

SMERCONISH: President Trump this week appearing with Tucker Carlson I think took a step backward. Let's watch the tape and Chris Cillizza can then comment.


TUCKER CARLSON, FOX NEWS: You are the president. You have the ability to gather all the evidence you want.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I do. I do. But I think that, frankly, we have a lot right now. And I think if you watch -- if you watched Bret Baier and what he was saying and what he was talking about, and how he mentioned the word wiretap, you would feel very confident that you could mention the name. He mentioned it. And other people have mentioned it. But if you take a look at some of the things written about wiretapping and eavesdropping -- and don't forget, when I say wiretap, those words were in quotes. That really covers -- because wiretapping is pretty old fashion stuff. But that really covers surveillance and many other things. And nobody ever talks about the fact that was in quotes. But that's a very important thing. But wiretap covers a lot of different things. I think you're going to find some very interesting items coming to the fore front over the next two weeks.


SMERCONISH: Let's be fair to the president, Chris. There has been no evidence of collusion. There's been a lot of speculation and rumor and innuendo, but there's been no evidence of collusion between the president nor folks associated with the president colluding with the Russians relative to the election.

CILLIZZA: That's right.

SMERCONISH: React to what you just heard.

CILLIZZA: Well, so you are 100 percent right about that. And I think some Democrats do themselves a disservice, frankly, Michael, when they say, well, of course, he was bought and paid for by Russia. Well, you know, Jeff Sessions taking meetings with the Russian prime ministers that he didn't immediately divulge in front of the committee is not good. But it is not evidence, to your point, that this is a president who has bought and sold, you know, by Russia.

[09:25:02] The thing that is difficult with Donald Trump is an unwillingness ever to admit any weakness or any misstatements. It seems clear now that the wiretapping tweets -- was sort of month ago, on a Saturday morning, I remember it well, were not the results of intelligence information he got from the intelligence community. It appears 99.9 percent certain this is what we thought initially which is a Breitbart article that basically detailed a theory by conservative radio show host Mark Levin.

There is no evidence -- citing Bret Baier who's a good man and a good newsman, Bret Baier is reporting on that. That's not evidence. That's like me quoting you as evidence that I am -- that you said, you know what I mean? It's like a -- it's a circle that virtuous for Donald Trump.


CILLIZZA: Right. It's virtuous for Donald Trump but that it is not a fact in any way shape or form. And that's what's difficult. I think one of the hard things as a reporter dealing with Donald Trump is he seems to view everything, a tweet he saw, an article no matter what the site, a report on that article no matter what the site as all equal evidence in terms of to use to make his point.

Now politicians do cherry pick. Sean Spicer -- politicians do cherry pick information here or there and everywhere to make their case but never to the extent that Trump is doing where the "Washington Post" and "New York Times" or CNN is on equal part with people you are not intelligence -- people who are not intelligence community reporters. Just people tweeting things. That's not evidence that a president of United States should cite as proof positive that will of course, we were wiretapped because Bret Baier, for example, said it. Bret himself would say that's not good enough evidence.

SMERCONISH: Chris Cillizza, we are elated that you are coming to CNN. Thank you so much for being here today. I really appreciate it.

CILLIZZA: I'm excited, my friend. Thank you.

SMERCONISH: Keep your tweets coming to me at @smerconish. Hit me with another one, Catherine. What do we have?

"Smerconish, Spicer isn't a victim, he's a volunteer. He has no sympathy from me."

Xavier, on a personal level, having dealt with him during the course of the campaign, he's a very decent guy and I am sympathetic to the fact that he's got a brutal job but I am not excusing making assertions that can't be substantiated.

Warren Buffett calls him the person who has done the most for American investors. I'll talk to John C. Bogle, founder of Vanguard, about the economy, the president and what it means for your money.


[09:32:08] MICHAEL SMERCONISH, CNN HOST: You know, we live in an age of such political uncertainty, and yet, the financial markets are on fire. The Dow Jones Industrial Average recently broke 21,000 for the first time ever.

So, what explains the disconnect between our political and financial environments? Well, this week, I sat down with the perfect person to ask. John C. Bogle, the 87-year-old founder of The Vanguard Group, Incorporated, in his recent annual letter for Berkshire Hathaway, Warren Buffet said this. "If a statue is every erected to honor the person who has done the most for American investors, the hands down choice should be Jack Bogle." An idea that Bogle had when writing his Princeton thesis in 1951 has

blossomed into the world's largest mutual fund organization. Today, Vanguard oversees $3.5 trillion in assets. And Jack Bogle has earned many distinctions over his lifetime.

TIME said that he was one of the world's most powerful and influential people. Fortune listed him as one of the investment industries four "Giants of the 20th Century." Institutional Investor has given him a lifetime achievement award.

I spoke to him in his office outside of Philadelphia.


SMERCONISH: We live in a climate of such political uncertainty, some would say instability, and yet, the market is been on fire. Help me understand that disconnect.

JOHN C. BOGLE, FOUNDER & FORMER CHAIRMAN, THE VANGUARD GROUP: Well, clearly, we live in a time where there's a lot of instability, a lot of political instability, calling into question something we haven't faced in the United States very often, we lost the ability to go in ourselves. And this goes back a couple of Congresses, this is not the first time that it's happened. But it seems to me to be getting worse and that's the biggest risk of all.

In addition, I worry about the division of wealth in the country, in equality, that in a long run is bad for our economy or society in our markets. Now, why is the market so - we're doing so well? I think the answer to that is, it's driven more by near term hopes for big budget cuts, big tax cuts, particularly corporate tax cuts which will automatically raise corporate earnings, and the market likes that, and then there's a feeling of bullishness in the air. Don't ask me quite why, but when the feelings are out there, when the emotions are out there, they override the economics of the market.

But in the long run, Michael, believe me, it is 100 percent economics in the stock market and 0 percent emotions. The record of the last century shows exactly that. It reverts to the mean as we say, the market can get very much ahead of the economy and then back and below the economy, and then back up. So the economy kind of goes like this, if we draw a chart, and the market goes like this.

So, it's emotions that's doing this, and positive emotions on those few facts that I mentioned about tax cutting and so on.

SMERCONISH: Fed Chairwoman Janet Yellen this week said that the economy is doing well. She raised the benchmark interest rate, but at the same time said that, she doesn't share the optimism of market investors that economic growth is gaining speed. Did she strike the right balance?

[09:35:14] BOGLE: Yes, she did. In my - no question about it in my opinion.

We don't see that we can possibly have 4 percent growth, which is what they're talking about, and our GDP or gross domestic product, you know, it could be two or 2.5 percent, it's hard to see it much more than that. So we'll be growing but not nearly at the rate that we've been accustomed to in the past.

SMERCONISH: How do you evaluate President Trump thus far?

BOGLE: I'm not sure he's quite comfortable of what he's doing to be honest with you.

You know, I think presidencies by tweets (ph), they're maybe wonderful, they're maybe awful, but they've never been tried before. And these comparisons I read in the paper today that, you know, President Trump and President Andrew Jackson, I think are a little farfetched.

SMERCONISH: When you articulated the things that concern you about the long-term direction of the economy, a number of them seem associated with this particular president. I don't know if you meant to particularize them to him, if you had him on the brain or if I'm reading too much into it.

BOGLE: No. Yes, I think you are. I don't think presidents can control the economy. They may think they can, and if it does well, believe me, they will take the credit. If it does badly, it's someone else's fault.

I mean, I've never seen a president take the blame for recession. But I've seen them an awful a lot of them take the applause for a --

SMERCONISH: A full market.

BOGLE: -- a full market, sure.

SMERCONISH: What worries you most about the future of the country?

BOGLE: I worry about political disunity. I worry about us -- this might sound funny to you, but I worry about us being -- becoming too much of a democracy when our Founding Fathers created a republic. Where the people that knew more could help more, had more of a public spirit, better educated.

For the ones that were elected that still loves (ph) various posts and various competitions. And now, it's more like a democracy where the people speak, and sometimes that can be very unfortunate. I think a good example of the unfortunate thing is the so-called Brexit. The British -- that's a purely democratic thing. Let's ask the people whether Britain should be remained in the --

SMERCONISH: You think that was a mistake?

SMERCONISH: I think it was a terrible mistake. I think - the price will be paid for decades, if not, even longer. A lot of dominoes falls, Scotland is now thinking of leaving, and the United Kingdom won't be united anymore.

So, you know, you (ph) really - there are so many people who have not get taken the time and trouble to think about these issues and they get the same vote of someone who really thinks and understands about. I'm not saying they will vote differently, but you want more informed electorate -- a more politically aware of electorate. A more -- an electorate is more concerned about their community and not their own interest, and, you know, in the ideal society, that's the way we should emerge. And the Founding Fathers got it, and their successors, right up to today, mostly are, I think, moving troubling away for the basic values of the country.

SMERCONISH: You remind me that in that annual letter where you were praised by Warren Buffet, in reference to the Founding Fathers. He made an interesting observation. He said, they weren't necessarily harder working nor smarter, than any of their contemporaries. But the genius, I'm paraphrasing, is the system they crafted when they got here.


SMERCONISH: That's the genius of capitalism, right?

BOGLE: Well, you know, they actually -- there's a -- there's a sentence -- you may recognize this that comes out somewhere out of the Founding Fathers. They were geniuses that created that system that could be run by idiots. I don't think we quite got there yet, but we're working on it.

SMERCONISH: It's a system that creates great wealth but doesn't quite distributed, sometimes, in the most equitable fashion.

BOGLE: Yes, that's what people have to understand about capitalism. It is the best way to run an economy, just have the marketplace do it. Sometimes you don't like the results. But there's no question, we tried communism, we've socialism, not we, but the world has, and we've tried dictatorships, none of it worked. It's capitalism that has democratic capitalism that will -- that will finally be the way that we all have to come out.

But people have to understand that free market system, that it bestows its blessings very unevenly.

SMERCONISH: You're a super-ager, the term that we've to come ascribe to individuals 87, nearly 88, am I right?

BOGLE: Yes, nearly 88.

SMERCONISH: And have recently celebrated the 20th anniversary of a heart transplant. What's the secret?

BOGLE: Well, the secret the super-agers studiers up at Harvard say is hard work -- all the time, and I'd be very hard-pressed to the night out (ph), Michael. I mean, I'm just throwing myself in to my life and career, hoping to be fair to my family, two at the same time, but I love what I'm doing, I'm still able to do it.

[09:40:09] The spirit is definitely willing, the flesh getting a little bit weak but as long as you, you know, put yourself together, I said -- say to people their ambitious, what's the secret? And I say, first rule, get out of bed in the morning, because if you don't do that, not much is going to happen.


SMERCONISH: What a privilege that was for me. By the way, Bogle, would say stay the course, stay the course.

And there's more, because the full uncut conversation is right now posted on our website, Keep Tweeting me @ smerconish. I'll continue to read some during the course of the program.

But let me tell you what's coming up next. Next, March Madness is upon us. But what would the NCAA brackets looked like if college teams were ranked by which had the best classroom achievement and graduation rate?


[09:45:30] SMERCONISH: College basketball's March Madness is upon us. But in recent years, the NCAA has been questioned about whether the athletes playing are bonifide college students.

In 2014, The UConn Huskies won the tournament, but the team had only graduated 8 percent of its players over a six-year span. So what would the brackets looked like if we rewarded programs that graduate students and pay attention to classroom attendance, then we'd be crowning a national champion that many of you, perhaps, have never heard of.

That's the thesis put forth by veteran sports journalist Larry Platt in his article for the Philadelphia Daily Citizen, "March Madness for the Socially Conscious." In which, he provides a bracket that shows what happens favoring teams with a higher classroom achievement and graduation rate.

Here to discuss is Larry Platt. He's the co-author of the best seller, "Every Day I Fight," ESPN sportscaster Stuart Scott's memoir. He's also the author of four other sports book and the co-founder and editor of Philadelphia Citizen.

Why did you do this, Larry?

LARRY PLATT, EDITOR THE PHILADELPHIA CITIZEN: Well, because, Michael, I started to feel as a sport fan complicit in the exploitation of these student athletes, the so-called student athletes. Especially, watching that Connecticut run graduated of 8 percent of their players, it's actually -- you know, they're actually professionals who are apprenticing for a year.

And, so, we thought it would be fun to look at what a bracket would look like if graduation rates were taken into account. So we published the bracket with graduation rates, along with the one loss record.

SMERCONISH: All right, here's the big bracket, put that up on the screen, and then we're going to iso on your final four.

Some familiar names and some unfamiliar names. Walk me through the outcome.

PLATT: Yes. So, I'm probably not going to win any pools with this bracket.


PLATT: Two of my picks with 100 percent graduation rates lost in the first round. That was Bucknell who I picked to win it all. I'm the only person in America that picked Bucknell to win it all. And Dayton also lost in the first round. But Duke is still alive and so is my favorite team Villanova, by the way.

And, you know, so, it's actually surprising how many -- there are 12 in this tournament that graduate 100 percent of their players.

SMERCONISH: Look, the good news is, it can be done. I mean, look, Duke and Kansas, have great basketball programs. You just referenced Villanova, and I know you've got a profile of Jay Wright right now in GQ. So, the good news as you just referenced is, there are schools out there committed to academic excellence, and they are also playing great hoops.

PLATT: That's right. These things do not have to be mutually exclusive. That's what this exercise proves. It requires a coach who gets it, so if Villanova, their athletes are not sequestered in their own down, they have to be part of the college experience, and generally, they have to stay for the four years for that college experience.

It's possible to do this and do it right. And that's who we -- I, as a port fan, want to root for.

SMERCONISH: Jay Wright has had the most dominant college basketball team in the nation for the last three years, so what's his secret sauce?

PLATT: You know, Michael, the secret sauce is he's emotionally intelligent. He's straight up with his players. He is vulnerable with his players. He doesn't -- he's not an X's and O's guys and -- guy.

In fact, he told me that, you know, when they see -- you see coach in the huddle with the diagram he plays (ph), he said, yes, it really doesn't mean anything, we really just -- its filler. What he does is teach like a glorified high school gym coach, and he's got a Zen master on the -- on the bench with him who coaches him on how to relate to his players. He is a 21st century kind of coach.

SMERCONISH: Hey, truth is sometimes stranger than fiction.

A couple years ago, my alma mater, Lehigh defeated duke. One of those moments where I know right where I was and how I was watching. But, unfortunately, Larry, it's not your year, and it's not the year for Bucknell. I don't even know what their mascot is, or I've give them a plug.

PLATT: No. But, you know, they should -- they should be having me as their commencement speaker, because I'm the only person who picked them to go all the way.

[09:50:08] SMERCONISH: All right, Larry, good work. Thank you for being here.

PLATT: Thanks, man.

SMERCONISH: Continue to Tweet me @smerconish. Hit me with another one. Let's see what we've got.

Let us see. Eric Metzner, "Smerconish, what would the world look like if academics were more popular than professional sports?" Far more interesting, but less entertaining. And to Larry's point, we can have both. I mean, that's why I was so eager to have him on the program.

Keep Tweeting me @smerconish. We'll get to some more in just a second.


[09:55:05] SMERCONISH: Hey, breaking news. As many of you have Tweeted at me, the Bucknell mascot we now can report is, Bucky the Bison. What else came in during the course of the program? Hit me with it.

Smerconish -- Harry Shearer, woah, Smerconish, Clapper lied under oath at a Congressional hearing. Why is he a credible source? Harry, when I heard Clapper's testimony, I was listening at 11:00.

Hit me with another one. You spinal tap fans know exactly what I'm saying. That's Harry Shearer.

Tangela Hamilton, Smerconish, if you close your eyes while Bogle is speaking and listen, you'd think it was a 20-year-old man. Sharp as a whip. Great interview. So glad you liked it. He is an unbelievably decent individual and I would elect him, right now, at age 87 or 88 to be president of the United States.

Keep Tweeting me @smerconish. We've got something really funny on my Facebook page as well. I'll see you next week.