Return to Transcripts main page


Roger Waters Tour Blasts Trump; Do Fans Want to Hear Politics from Showbiz Idols?; Has U.S. Meddled in Other Countries' Elections? Aired 9-10a ET

Aired July 15, 2017 - 09:00   ET


[09:00:00] PAUL: Don't go anywhere. "SMERCONISH" is starting now.

MICHAEL SMERCONISH, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Michael Smerconish in Philadelphia. We welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world.

What a week for people named Donald Trump. Not long after we learned that Trump golf clubs had fake "TIME" magazine covers featuring Trump Senior hung on the wall, a real-time cover is published that Donald Junior probably wishes were fake.

To many the e-mail trail on Trump Junior proves his willingness to collude with Russia.


SHEPARD SMITH, FOX NEWS CHANNEL ANCHOR: They tell us there's nothing to this and nothing came of it. It's a nothing burger. Why is it lie after lie after lie?


SMERCONISH: But as I'm about to document, others they could care less. And with all the concern and outrage over Russia meddling in our election, how often has the U.S. acted similarly? One researcher's answer may shock you.

Plus, he's performing one of the summer's biggest rock concert tours and lacing it with angry anti-Trump imagery and polemics. I'll ask Pink Floyd co-founder Roger Waters if his fans want to hear that or just the music.

First, I began this year by pledging right here on CNN that I wanted to escape my bubble more often. The election results they took me by surprise and I was feeling disconnected. Well, this week I got more than I bargained for from my own Sirius XM Radio audience.

There had just been a succession of significant stories published in "New York Times" about a June 9th, 2016 meeting in Trump Tower that we now know was attended by Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner, Paul Manafort among others.

As I've updated my radio audience on those developments, I've been careful to balance my coverage with perspective from the right. On Monday after my new summary, the phone lines quickly filled. And first up was a caller who told me that I should be ashamed of myself because I had spent time on the latest bombshell from the "New York Times," notwithstanding that I had balanced it with a view from "New York Post."

The first caller was Brad. He was from Iowa.


BRAD, CALLER FROM IOWA: I thought you were better than this. Keep kicking that dead dog, Michael. Maybe it will wake up.

SMERCONISH: Do you find it significant that the president's son took a meeting with a Russian national, involved Manafort and Kushner, where the promise was we are bringing you dirt on Hillary? Significant or not?

BRAD: Big deal? No, not at all. Who cares about dirt on that old hag Hillary?


SMERCONISH: That's not typical. My callers tend to come from the lower 48 and usually represent a nice cross section of the country, both racially and politically, but to my surprise the next caller from Vermont basically agreed with Brad.

Many on hold wanted to castigate the president and his son. But instead of taking their calls, I did something I've never done in 27 years of radio hosting. I cleared the call board and I requested only callers who agreed with the first two. And the results were eye and ear opening. I discovered a huge number of others also maintaining it was the proverbial nothing burger. Take a listen.


CHRIS, CALLER FROM VERMONT: CNN, "New York Post," "New York Times," these guys, they have zero ounce of credibility. I say zero, negative zero. I mean they're just horrible.

JOE, CALLER FROM ILLINOIS: Some of the media outlets get so in the weeds with some of these stories that it just disinterests me after a little while. So even if it's true, that's fine. Eventually didn't affect my vote at the ballot box.

LAURIE, CALLER FROM PENNSYLVANIA: It is an important worthy story, but give it the time it needs and then move on.

DOUG, CALLER FROM OHIO: So at this point it just seems like a witch hunt after President Trump.

MARK, CALLER ROM MASSACHUSETTS: The only thing I'm angry about Trump is he hasn't arrested that witch yet. She should be in cuffs. You're an establishment (EXPLETIVE DELETED). That's all you are. You're a piece of (EXPLETIVE DELETED).


SMERCONISH: That last part by the way directed at me. I'm the establishment a -- well, you heard it. So if you think the Donald Trump Jr. story is the one that changes Trump supporter minds, you might want to think again. My experience reminded me of candidate Donald Trump saying that he could shoot somebody on Fifth Avenue and not lose his base.

These voices were clearly a revelation to many who don't typically hear them on their go-to news outlets. I made a Facebook montage of the audio of these callers to share these thoughts with the world. It quickly racked up more than 100,000 views in less than 48 hours.

Now, just to recap, here's what all those callers deemed to be unimportant, over three days the "New York Times" had kept drilling down on the story of Donald Trump Jr., Paul Manafort and Jared Kushner meeting with a Russian lawyer.

[09:05:08] First the meeting was denied, then a false reason for the meeting was offered, the discussion of adoptions of Russian infants. And then finally "Times" called to tell Junior they were about to publish his e-mails and he released them himself. They revealed that at a minimum he was game to collude with the Russians.

Who could have imagined that there would actually be an e-mail to somebody named Trump offering, quote, "very high level and sensitive information," able to, quote, "incriminate Hillary" as part of, quote, "Russia and its government's support of Trump over Hillary."

But not even these revelations impacted his standing with the base.

Joining me now, Matthew Rosenberg of the "New York Times" who's been part of the "Times'" ongoing terrific reporting of all of this. Salena Zito, the Trump whisperer who writes for the "Washington Examiner" and "New York Post" and is co-authoring a book about why Trump won.

Matthew, does that frustrate you to know that your hard work and that of your colleagues in some instances is falling on deaf ears?

MATTHEW ROSENBERG, NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT, NEW YORK TIMES: No, I mean, I think that's kind of the nature of the beast here. People aren't always going to agree. And I do hear people when they say why is this important to me, because look, you're going to go to work tomorrow, you've got bills to pay tomorrow, your kids are going to school tomorrow, this doesn't change your life immediately.

But I would say to people who are concerned or who don't think this has any real import that, you know, it's not just dirt on Hillary Clinton or dirt on a political opponent. We don't want -- or we don't have, I guess, allowances to have foreign governments feed information, provide resources to political campaigns because we don't want foreigners playing a role in our elections. The same reason why you have to be a citizen to vote. You can't just wash up in the U.S. and said I'm going to vote today. You know, you have to live here, you have to be a citizen. And these e-mails really do establish more than anything else a direct

line to the Trump family, to their inner circle between them and the Russian government saying, look, we want to help you. How far did it go? We don't know. And that's the thing, there's a lot we don't know here. One of your -- one of the callers who you cited being on the show say, you know, this needs time, she's absolutely right.

This kind of investigation could go on for years. But it is something that I think we should be concerned about and the most -- I guess the last point and the most important point is that this kind of interference attempt at meddling election, yes, it happened last year. It's going to keep happening. And people are going to learn from their mistakes. And the one way you learn and you learn to stop it is by studying what happened in the past by investigating it. And I think that's one of the reasons why people should be a bit concerned, yes.

SMERCONISH: Salena, you know this constituency. Is it that they are standing with the president of the United States or that they are anti the anti-Trump? And does it matter?

SALENA ZITO, REPORTER, WASHINGTON EXAMINER: Well, I think the thing that we need to maybe think about and explore deeper going forward is, is this distrust that the American people have with big institutions but also with media. This is something that has been ongoing. The last time we had a broad trust with the media was 1964. Right? 78 percent of the people trusted government, trusted the media. That has just cratered since then.

And it's in the opposite, you know, sort of flipped around. And so it's not just that they firmly, you know, are not going to be dislodged from Trump. It's also that they view us with a lot of skepticism. Some of that is deserved. Most of it is not. But I think that that's the thing that we need to -- honestly we need to address that because the American people should have much more level of trust with the people that are, you know, who are guarding and digging into the greater powers in this country. And, you know --


SMERCONISH: Let me tell you what I think --

ZITO: Go ahead.

SMERCONISH: Let me tell you when I think it changes. I don't think it changes -- no disrespect to Matthew and "Times." It doesn't change when "Times" has yet another revelation on the front page. It changes when those mouthpieces for the right to which leadership of the Republican Party has been abdicated, when they start to take a serious look at what Matthew and his colleagues are reporting.

I'll give you an example. I showed a snippet of it, let me show you more of what Shepard Smith said on FOX News yesterday. Roll this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) CHRIS WALLACE, FOX NEWS CHANNEL ANCHOR: This shouldn't be a matter of liberal versus conservative, pro-Trump versus anti-Trump. If you're a fair-minded citizen, you ought to be concerned about the fact that we were repeatedly misled.

SMITH: They tell us there's nothing to this and nothing came of it, there's a nothing burger, it wasn't even memorable. Didn't write it down, didn't tell you about it because it wasn't anything so I didn't remember it. Why all these lies? Why is it lie after lie after lie?


SMERCONISH: And maybe you're saying, well, you know, Shep, unlike some of the others will step outside the box from time to time.

[09:10:03] Katherine, put up on the screen Krauthammer's syndicated column. This comes from "The Washington Post's" Charles Krauthammer. Just look at the first line. Charles Krauthammer, "The evidence is now shown this is not hearsay, not fake news, not unsourced leaks. This is an e-mail chain released by Donald Trump, Jr. himself."

Matthew, when it's the Charles Krauthammers, when it's the Shepard Smiths starting to say, hey, you know what, this "Times" reporting, substantive. Maybe then the base reconsiders or not, what do you think?

ROSENBERG: I mean, I think it's possible. I think there's a certain percentage of Americans both left and right who vote their identity. They're not going to shift. But there is a tremendous amount of Americans, I think a huge number of them, who would be fairly horrified to know that the president now, if he did or if anyone close to him did, work with the Russian government to help secure his election, even if it didn't have any effect, would be horrified to know if that is the case.

And so yes, I do think these things can have an effect over time and you're absolutely right. The "New York Times" is not going to be the people who immediately make people say, oh, wow, I've changed my mind. It's going to come when their own leaders, the commentators they look to for guidance say, hey, you know what, you've got to pay attention to this. There's a problem here.

SMERCONISH: Hey, Salena, I don't want to focus only on the media. Let's also take note of the fact that, although I think that this was an enormously significant week, the Republican leaders in the House and Senate have largely been silent, much in the same way that those callers from the base were reacting to me. What do you have to say about the GOP leadership on this?

ZITO: I think the GOP leadership is in a really terrible position, right? Because, you know, if you drill down and you look at the numbers of where Trump won and where he won big, you know, that's in their districts. And so there's a political price to pay as to do you step out in front of this, do you stand back.

I think that your -- the caller, the female caller that you had who said this is important and we should, but we'll give it time, I hear a lot of that not just from regular voters but I also hear that from people who are inside Washington, people who are part of the establishment, people that are elected officials.

One thing I do want to point out that I have found fascinating is the amount of people who didn't vote last year, you know, who found both of them sort of, you know, repulsive, they tend to cheer Trump on when he has a problem with the media when these kinds of stories come out. And I find that, you know, part fascinating. Like we really have a problem that we have to take on.

SMERCONISH: Matthew, final question for you, as I've read carefully the stories unfold, I wondered, did the "Times" have the Trump Junior e-mail all along? Did you reveal only a little and almost set a trap for him to come up with that adoption story and sort of frankly dig his own grave politically speaking?

ROSENBERG: You know, I wish we were that savvy. I can't get into exactly how the story unfolded, what we had when and who we got it from. My colleagues did fantastic work on this story. And I think, you know, it really does highlight the fact that there's an e-mail out there. There are -- this has been news for months. This has been an issue for months. There were multiple opportunities for Paul Manafort, for Jared Kushner and for Donald Trump Jr. to say, hey, you know, we had this meeting and here's what happened. I don't think -- I don't know why this is a big deal.

Nobody ever did. And then the transparent moment when Donald Junior said, I'm just going to publish all these e-mails. That was done because that morning the "New York Times" had called them, told them we've got this e-mail, we're printing it. We're going to publish it. And then suddenly the White House and Donald Trump Jr. became transparent. That was not a kind of self-awareness kind of, oh, I'm going to have this moment, I'm going to become transparent. They did it in response to the fact those things were about to be published. I think that is something people should --

SMERCONISH: OK, but I think you're saying the "Times" didn't have the e-mail when last Saturday you dropped the first story. That's what I'm hearing.

ROSENBERG: I can't say one way or the other. I really can't. And I hate to pull like a James Comey or an FBI or CIA thing here, but it's one of those things like on the internal reporting we don't get into. We tend to publish what we know when we know it.

SMERCONISH: All right.

ROSENBERG: So I can say that.

SMERCONISH: OK. I hear you. It's a part of the story I'm eager to learn.

Anyway, thank you. Salena Zito, as always, Matthew Rosenberg, thank you both. I appreciate it. What do your thoughts? Tweet me @SMERCONISH or go to my Facebook

page. I'll read some responses throughout the course of the program. What do we have, gang?

"It's just wild. These callers sound like they've been brainwashed by a cult. They just refuse to believe the evidence right before their eyes and put on blinders when it comes to Trump."

Jennifer, I didn't have to go to the callers to be exposed to this mindset. I'm, as like I say a butter knife away at family gatherings from much of this thought process, but it's a wakeup call for those of us who are reading all these revelations, the "Times," the "Post," here at CNN and thinking, my god, this is really significant. 46 percent of the folks in this country are saying hogwash.

[09:15:13] One more if we have time. "I'm glad you took these calls, Michael, because it ultimately does no good to ostracize or ignore people with differing views."

Patrick, I don't ostracize and I like to hear from all points of view, even the guy who called me -- you heard what he called me.

Up next, Roger Waters, formerly of Pink Floyd is back on the road staging one of the most successful and controversial summer concert tours.

Do his fans want to hear and see his vehement anti-Trump message? Well, I sat down with him and asked what's up.


SMERCONISH: There have already been intense culture wars over the presidency of Donald Trump. Kathy Griffin, the staging of Shakespeare in Central Park, even Stephen Colbert, but they all might pale in comparison to what is attracting music fans all over the country.

Roger Waters, a founding member and chief lyricist of the legendary Pink Floyd is back on the road this summer. I have personally enjoyed his music for 40 years. His politics sometimes not.

Waters has amped up the volume turning one of the summer's bigger tours into one of the most political. Several portions of his us and them show in support of his new album, "Is This the Life We Really Want," are as much anti-Trump rally as they are a rock concert. Take a look.

His trademark "Inflatable Pig" now has Donald Trump's face on the side, screens display doctored images of the president vomiting with Vladimir Putin as a big baby and as Hitler. He's turned the 1970s Pink Floyd animals Orwellian classic pigs three different ones into a diatribe against the charade that he sees in the Trump White House.

There's no debate about the impeccable quality of the sound or the production values of the Waters tour. But the vehemence of the message has taken some by surprise. In New Orleans a few fans simply left. And according to Waters a major corporate sponsor pulled out in the states, although maintaining its commitment in Canada.

In 2006, I myself was unsettled when watching him perform at Madison Square Garden. The famous Pink Floyd pig circled over the crowds about prisoner rights at Gitmo. Seated three miles from ground zero, I was in no mood for that just five years after 9/11. 15 years after 9/11 I had to admit that he had a point.

But Waters is defiant in defense of his music and message, notwithstanding the way that politics has harmed other entertainers. Anybody remember the Dixie Chicks? And just this week when I flew to Miami to interview him and watch his show, an old Waters criticism surfaced, the charge of anti-Semitism.

The Greater Miami Jewish Federation took out an ad in the "Miami Herald" protesting his appearance which read anti-Semitism and hatred are not welcome in Miami. Waters says his criticisms are political, not religious. He has drawn ire as an Israel BDS supporter, boycott, divestment and sanctions. He has lobbied performers not to play in Israel and he has regarded the Israeli treatment of Palestinians as apartheid.

On this tour however his performance is silent on that issue. Training his bass guitar instead on Donald Trump. But back in 2013 he had illustrated the inflatable pig with the Star of David alongside a dollar sign and sickle and hammer.

I was invited to a Thursday night rehearsal in Miami to witness a dozen local teens from the Miami Beach parks summer program rehearse "Another Brick in the Wall" with Waters, but at the last minute the city pulled the plug on their participation. In the end, other kids did perform the song but not those who'd been eagerly rehearsing.

In the midst of this flare-up I went backstage and I asked Roger Waters about those charges.


SMERCONISH: For my interview and you for CNN I've been flooded with Facebook comments that say, why are you giving a platform to Rogers Waters the anti-semi.


SMERCONISH: To those people you say --

WATERS: I'm not anti-Semite, obviously. It's as plain as, you know, your face. I'm not. I've never done anything anti-Semitic. What I have done is I've become an activist to try -- this is what I say to these kids, right. An illinformed local official and an organized campaign of malicious propaganda which it is, call me an anti-Semite is malicious propaganda. It's because they want to silence my voice. I'm -- because my voice speaks about nonviolent loving resistance to the impression of an oppressed people.


SMERCONISH: Now more of my exclusive sit-down with Roger Waters.


SMERCONISH: Let's talk about this leader that we've elected in the United States.

WATERS: All right.

SMERCONISH: Speak to the audience. Tell them the mindset that you put into the presentation of "Pigs Three Different Ones."

WATERS: We were running up to that election and I did feel very strongly about it.

[09:25:04] And much as I disparaged Hillary Clinton, and I do, I make no bones about it, and however big the questions are that I might have had, you know, with Obama and the past administration, Donald Trump? I've watched this guy operating for the last 20 years.

SMERCONISH: Do you run the risk of helping him by going over the top?

WATERS: No. I don't think help or hindering. What we need to survive his presidency.

SMERCONISH: Right. But --

WATERS: Because it's totally unpredictable. I don't think he knows what he's going to do.

SMERCONISH: I'm thinking of a few cultural touchstones recently. I'm thinking of the Kathy Griffin ISIS-inspired photograph that she tweeted.

WATERS: Yes. Yes.

SMERCONISH: I'm thinking of the Caesar play in Central Park.


SMERCONISH: And it occurs to me that it plays into his hand insofar as he gets to say look at these liberal entertainers and the liberal establishment, they're all against me. And insofar as the criticism is never ending --


SMERCONISH: -- he's somewhat inoculated from it.

WATERS: Well, maybe. This is the responsibility that you and the mainstream media have is to not allow this to be taken as seriously as it is. I mean, I've sort of stopped watching all the talking heads about Russia-gate and this and that and the other because it seems to me largely irrelevant. There's a larger picture that we could maybe all be focusing on.

The problem is for entertainment has got mixed up with news a lot in this country. And in consequence you've got to keep -- I'm not pointing a finger at you. I mean, but in general, my general sense is that everything has to be entertaining. And in consequence Donald Trump is great for the mainstream media because he's such a buffoon. There is totally --

SMERCONISH: Is there any line you won't cross as you were putting together the tour?

WATERS: Of course I would never be violent in anyway. You know my activism such as is and my protest is always nonviolent.

SMERCONISH: Now you're a third of the way into the tour, how is it playing in the red states?

WATERS: Great. You know, the first four or five gigs we started in Kansas City and then we went Louisville, Tulsa, St. Louis. And now it's like that was kind of whoa, I wonder how this is going to be?

SMERCONISH: I'm sitting here and I'm thinking for someone who's on the road selling a new record.


SMERCONISH: Putting fannies in seats and stadiums.


SMERCONISH: You're just completely unconcerned about the way that might be received by some of the very people that you wish to reach.

WATERS: I'm not unconcerned at all.

SMERCONISH: I mean commercially concerned.

WATERS: Well, you know, in life you have to make your choices to whether you do the right thing or the thing that makes you the most money.

SMERCONISH: You've managed to do both.

WATERS: Well, who knows how much money I could have made if I'd not made --

SMERCONISH: Do you think it's cost you?

WATERS: I have no idea. It costs -- American Express pulled out of this tour. That cost 4 million bucks. That's a short term thing. Mind you they're still sponsoring the tour in Canada. So it's not the whole corporation. It's like --

SMERCONISH: Roger, is it important to you that your fans, A, understand the message of your music, and B, that they agree with it?

WATERS: Well, it's very important to me and that's why the beginning of this tour we've done 20 gigs so far is so great is that people are getting it. SMERCONISH: To that person who's grown up loving the music, who

doesn't share your world view.


SMERCONISH: Do you still want to look into the audience and see them at this concert?

WATERS: You know, we have maybe 10 leave every night. And they go, I mean, I -- you know, I read. I read the trolly stuff on my Web page from time to time and I go -- you know, this is no big surprise to me. But I do find it slightly surprising that anybody could have been listening to my songs for 50 years without understanding.

SMERCONISH: What would you say to someone who is looking for escapism? They're not coming to --

WATERS: Go see Katy Perry, you know, or go watch the Kardashians. I don't care, whatever you want to do, go and escape.

SMERCONISH: But if they're looking for escapism from politics, I guess the message is the last place you should be is at a Roger Waters show.

WATERS: Yes, if you're looking for an escape from a connection from other people on this planet, if you want to be, you know, separated from your potential to empathize with others, if you want to live in an ivory tower where everybody's an enemy and you need to build walls and you've got to do a better deal with the Chinese or whatever it might be that this leader that you've elected thinks is a good idea. Well, that's what you believe.

SMERCONISH: Well, Roger, I may as well tell you five years removed from September 11th, off by just a day or two, I came to Madison Square Garden, and I watched you perform "Dark Side of the Moon." And when the pig came out and had, written on the side of it, "Habeas corpus matters"?


SMERCONISH: Five years removed, I was in no mood for that message. Now, I will grant you that when Obama left office and there were, I think the number was 41, still being held at Guantanamo with no charges having been filed against them, I'm an attorney, I'm deeply unsettled about that.

Five years removed, I wasn't. Fifteen years removed, most certainly I was. So --

WATERS: Do you what --

SMERCONISH: -- I'm one of those who's in the audience, I -- you know, I'm old enough to have read the liner notes, and I'm embarrassed at the times that I didn't quite comprehend what you were saying.

I've never wavered in my support of the music. I think it's a healthy conversation to have. It's why I like being in your company is because I like thinking about all these things, but I don't agree with you on all of them. I guess --


SMERCONISH: -- I just need to say that.

WATERS: But you do agree with me about habeas corpus?

SMERCONISH: After that length of time, absolutely. Yes, it's not right. It's not right that they should be held without --

WATERS: OK. Well, this is --

SMERCONISH: -- charges, I mean.

WATERS: This is why the rule of law is so important because if we can figure out a rule of law, then that means that we are civilized, at least to some extent.

SMERCONISH: You enjoying yourself on the tour?

WATERS: Yes. Yes, I am. It's --

SMERCONISH: Is this the last go-round? You look great, but?

WATERS: I don't know. Yes, I don't know if it is. You know, who knows? It may be, maybe not. I don't know.

We're like -- all of this political stuff that you've been asking me, you know, it would be a lot easier to be on tour if I wasn't doing any of this, if I didn't have opinions.

SMERCONISH: Right. Thank you.

WATERS: Thank you.

SMERCONISH: I appreciate you being so gracious with your time.

WATERS: Oh, Michael, I'm -- you know, I only wish we could sit here and talk about love more.


SMERCONISH: My radio producer, T.C., in my head, telling me that the reaction online to that interview, already so overwhelming on both my Facebook page and via Twitter. We're going to take the time when we come back and try and run through some of your reaction to my conversation with Roger Waters.

And then, are we, the United States, guilty of meddling in other countries' elections? I checked with an expert and he will be here with the results.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [09:36:59] SMERCONISH: So about that interview I just did with musician Roger Waters, formerly of Pink Floyd, do the anti-Trump theatrics of his "Us and Them" tour this summer detract from the musical experience? In other words, do fans like it when their show business idols hold forth like this?

You might be interested to know that I polled my Sirius XM audience as to what would determine their decision to attend a Waters concert. About 3,000 people have already voted.

And the results were: 55 percent said I would determine only by his music. That would call the shot. Forty percent said I'd take into account politics and music. Five percent said I'd make that decision solely based on politics.

So I want to hear what you think. Visit my Facebook page and Twitter.

Catherine (ph), what do we have? I know it's an enormous reaction.

From Facebook: just saw the show in Tampa. I loved the Resist part but thought that the rest of the anti-Trump show was way over the top and out of line for a concert.

I looked, as I watched in Miami, for signs of people who were unsettled by this. Did anybody walk out? I heard no boos. And you know, big arena, it's where the Heat play, but I couldn't see anybody walking out. But some, obviously, have had that reaction.

Give me another one.

He is welcome to his beliefs, but when you pay hundreds of dollars for a concert ticket, you want to hear and see the show, not listen to someone raving and drooling -- I get the lyrical reference -- about politics.

Tom, let me tell you what Roger Waters says about that because I asked him exactly that. He would say to you, you really haven't been paying attention all these years. That there's a consistency to his worldview and he's expressed it through his music for 50 or so years, so nobody should be surprised. That's what he would say.

Another one, I think, from Facebook.

Controversial is Bob Dylan and he won a Nobel Prize. Arlo Guthrie. Just following in a grand tradition.

Yes. And I -- you know, I mean, you could single out performers on both sides of the -- look, I think I said this earlier. If I made my musical and movie selections based on the politics of artists, I'd be staying home all the time, you know, because it's awfully hard to find somebody who, by the way, has talent and shares your worldview.

One more. Via Twitter, if we can. And thank you for all of these. I really do appreciate it.

Waters is quintessential artist expressing his opinion through his craft. Don't like it? Don't go. It's that simple.

I watched. I think that's exactly what he would say. In fact, that is pretty much what he said to me.

[09:39:30] Up next, with all the talk of Russia meddling in our election, few are discussing this question: has the United States engaged in similar attempts to influence or even interfere with other countries' elections? One expert says more often than you think.


SMERCONISH: Question. Do we have clean hands in the United States? With all this conversation these past months about the Russian meddling in our election, there's one question that rarely gets asked and answered. Does the United States do the same thing, to influence other countries to have a pro-American result? And if so, with what rate of success?

Joining me now is Dov Levin. He's a post doctoral fellow in the Institute for Politics and Strategy at Carnegie-Mellon University. He has studied this issue.

Dr. Levin, first of all, what do you bring to the table in terms of bias? Are you looking at this with a jaundiced eye, or are you just trying to determine what has taken place?

DR. DOV LEVIN, POST DOCTORAL FELLOW, CARNEGIE-MELLON UNIVERSITY'S INSTITUTE FOR POLITICS AND STRATEGY: Well, I come from a social science perspective. I began studying this long before this issue became, you know, daily news issue, and I'm trying to learn what are the facts in this regard and provide them to decision makers and to the general public.

SMERCONISH: OK. I just didn't want people to think that you come with a preconceived bias. Tell me about your research. Summarize briefly what you did and what you found.

[09:44:58] LEVIN: Well, I study partisan electoral interventions, in other words, situations when great powers intervene in elections in other countries in an attempt to determine the election result.

And I find, when it comes to the case of the United States, that the United States intervened in 81 elections of this -- in 81 elections in this manner in 47 countries for this purpose between 1946 and 2000.

SMERCONISH: Give me an example.

LEVIN: Well, one example of such intervention occurred in Italy in 1948 where the United States was worried about the possibility of the Communist Party winning the election there. So we basically did everything including throwing the kitchen sink in order to prevent it from winning the election.

Everything from increasing our aid to the Italian government, to threatening that all aid totally would be cut off in case that the Communist Party would win, to giving very large amounts of covert campaign funding to the Christian Democratic Party, to designing campaign materials for the Christian Democrat and other techniques.

SMERCONISH: You say that 81 times in 60 countries between 1946 -- let's put this up on the screen, I think we've got a list -- 1946 and the year 2000, the U.S. has sought to influence the outcome of an election. By the way, are we good at this? Are we successful?

LEVIN: Well, my research finds that basically, on average, the side we assist gets a bump of about three percent to their vote share. But that is an average effect. In other words, sometimes the effect is much larger and sometimes it is much less, so to speak.

SMERCONISH: Your research ended in the year 2000, the birth really of the internet age and era. Have we ever done what the Russians are -- have we ever hacked?

LEVIN: We did not use computer hacking, no.

SMERCONISH: In each of these instances, because this has quite a negative connotation to hear that some will take away from this, well, the U.S. has done it too, has it always been in the name of democracy?

Have we always sought to oppose communism? Have we always sought to oppose a theology governing a nation's politics? I mean, what's the common denominator that has guided the United States?

LEVIN: Well, of course, sometimes we assisted, you know, pro- democracy candidates. Sometimes, of course, we assisted the -- sometimes we, of course, assisted, you know, authoritarian-minded and corrupt candidates. You know, it varied from case to case and from situation to situation.

SMERCONISH: Right. Authoritarian, though, in opposition to who or to what? I take it we went with the authoritarian less a nation should be ruled by a communist. Is that the kind of a devil's choice that the United States had to make?

LEVIN: That was, many times, the case during the Cold War, yes. That was frequently our situation, yes.

SMERCONISH: Are our efforts, have they been covert or overt? And if your answer is both, which is more effective?

LEVIN: Well, basically, I find that about two-thirds of these type of things were covert and about a third were overt. And I find that the overt were usually the more effective than the covert in this regard.

SMERCONISH: The overt is more effective, meaning we openly are supportive of one candidate or party over the other as we make our financial support known. That has a better track record than trying to do it, as some would say, on the down low.

LEVIN: Exactly.

SMERCONISH: It's a fascinating analysis. I leave to the Facebook posts and the tweeters whether there's any kind of a moral equivalence here. Dov Levine, thank you for being here. I appreciate it.

LEVINE: Thank you for inviting me.

SMERCONISH: Keep your tweets coming, more like this, and Facebook posts. What do we have?

Smerconish, you are so carrying Putin and Trump's water, saying U.S. meddles in election after the Russians -- it's unbelievable.

Sandra. Sandra, listen to me. Watch the whole show, OK? Don't pick and choose. Watch the whole show, and then tell me what you think.

I'm carrying Trump's water? Were you not watching Roger Waters, the interview that I did and the segment that we just broadcast, where the most successful and controversial concert tour of the summer season is all predicated -- not all predicated, largely predicated on an anti- Trump diatribe and I had a conversation with that artist? And now I'm carrying Trump's water?

Give me another one.

[09:50:00] I'm carrying nobody's water, but my own, which is independent thinking.

Clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right, stuck in the meddle -- I think you mean middle. Sorry, Mike, I couldn't help myself.

Yes, Steve, love it. Stealers Wheel, it's the theme song of my Sirius XM program. And that is how I feel. Clowns to the left of me, and jokers to the right.

Got to keep moving. Still to come, your best and worst tweets. Please stay with us.


SMERCONISH: Hey, if you ever miss any of the program, you can catch us any time on CNNgo, online, and through your connected devices and apps. So thanks for following me as well at Facebook and Twitter.

Here's more of what you've been thinking while I've been broadcasting. Hit me with it, Catherine (ph).

Smerconish, the tone of your right-wing callers shows that Russian interference and fake news was effective and is still having an impact.

August, it's a really good point that you're making. What was Putin presumably seeking to do? Throw us off balance.

[09:55:02] And regardless of whether there was collusion per se, we've been thrown off balance. Look at the lack of progress in Washington attributable, I think, to all the attention that this story is taking.

Hit me with another one. Smerconish, thanks for opening my eyes to yet another artist or group

that I will no longer listen to. Yes, it bothers me that much.

Eddytree, you're probably not alone. But have you been paying attention to the content all these years?

Look, I've had my own differences. I was angry when that pig came out and I was at Madison Square Garden and it was talking about habeas corpus. Roger Waters would say, well, weren't you listening to the lyrics of the song to begin with?

One more, if we have time for it.

Smerconish, great interview with Roger Waters. I want to go see the show.

Warwick Carter, it's kind of funny. You know, I feel like some people right now are going to StubHub to get their tickets, and others are thinking, oh, maybe the show is not for me.

Thank you for watching and stick around. There is another really good program at the top of the hour.