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Donald Trump Reportedly Makes Controversial Statements about Immigrants; Interview with Scott Adams; Federal Judge Rules Gerrymandering in North Carolina Unconstitutional; President Trump's Lack of Dog Ownership Examined. Aired 10-11a ET
Aired January 13, 2018 - 10:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[10:00:14] MICHAEL SMERCONISH, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Michael Smerconish in Philadelphia. We welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world.
Regarding those disparaging remarks about immigrants, President Trump tweeted a partial denial, but in private bragged about them. I think I knew -- I know exactly what he's been doing in that regard, and I'll explain. Look at what he's saying about it now, though -- America first. This during a week that he also repeated no collusion like a mantra, and giving Dianne Feinstein, one of his attack nicknames. How will that work with his base? I'm about to talk to Trump persuasion expert and "Dilbert" cartoon creator Scott Adams.
And why do so many supposed swing states have lopsided congressional delegations? Well, because of rigged electoral maps as we await a ruling from a similar Wisconsin case now before the Supreme Court. A federal court in North Carolina just threw out that state's map.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, (R) PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'm watching Marco sweating like a dog. Romney choked like a dog. He's choking like a dog. Boy, does he choke like a dog. She lied like a dog.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Why does 45 keep using the word "dog" as a negative? Because clearly he's not an owner. I am. I'm about to talk to bestselling author Jennifer Weiner about this presidential deficiency.
But first, you know how I feel. I have no doubt he said it. Where it fits his M.O., he is no longer deserving of any benefit of the doubt. I'm not holier than thou when it comes to cursing. You can ask the people who hear me during our commercial breaks. But it's unacceptable behavior when coming from a president in an official meeting, especially when said about an entire class of people.
And nor is there any defense in the fact that other leaders have used salty language, especially where in this case it was not a one-off. Coupled with his past comments about birtherism, Mexican rapists, the Muslim ban, very fine people among white supremacists, and that December report of the president having said that Haitian immigrants have AIDS and Nigerians who visit the U.S. never go back to their huts, it paints a disturbing picture.
His reference to Norway, I think, was a tell. Yes, he'd just seen the prime minister, Erna Solberg. She was probably top of brain. But I've been there. Many are tall and blond and blue-eyed. Condemning the president's words, that's the easy call. But there's something else, something curious about the incident. There's no such thing as off the record, and in an Internet world where everybody has a smartphone in their pocket, hence a recording and video device, public figures have to assume that everything is in full view.
Barack Obama learned this in 2008 when he was at a San Francisco fundraiser and referenced Americans who in despair cling to their guns or religion or antipathy towards people who aren't like them, or anti- immigrants sentiment. Mitt Romney, too, in 2012 when he was recorded by wait staff in Boca Raton as saying there's 47 percent who are dependent upon the government and will vote for the president no matter what. There's no such thing as a private conversation anymore.
Surely a man who is self-described as a very stable genius knows this, and he said it in a room full of people, including Democratic Senator Richard Durbin. It wasn't a dog whistle. It was a deliberate foghorn. He knew what he was doing. No matter how many times some have hoped this is finally the end, he surprises when having a better read of his base than anyone could have initially imagined. And my hunch is that this is another of those intentional instances.
President Trump tweeted last weekend that he's a stable genius. Well, my next guest thinks Trump is a genius when it comes to his skills of persuasion. You'll remember in August of 2015 when most saw candidate Trump's campaign as a flight of fancy, Scott Adams said on his blog that Trump had a 98 percent chance of winning. He's the creator of "Dilbert," he's the author of a fascinating book about Trump's methodology called "Win Bigly, Persuasion in a World Where Facts Don't Matter." Hey, Scott, nice to have you back. Have I persuaded you that the president meant to say exactly what he said, there was malice aforethought, he knows what he's doing in this regard?
SCOTT ADAMS, CREATOR, "DILBERT": Well, let's put some context on this. First, let me say that the comments were offensive and insensitive and unforgivable, and all that.
SMERCONISH: Of course.
ADAMS: So I think we're all on the same side of that.
[10:05:00] But in terms of understanding what they meant, I would question that the American Psychiatric Association just cautioned that even professionals shouldn't try to imagine what's in the mind of somebody they haven't sat with and had as a patient and talked to. So in terms of professionals, they would say that it would be quackery to diagnose from a distance.
Now, what we have here is what I've been describing for two years where the people who are the supporters and the people who are not have formed two completely different movies. And in the movies of the anti-Trumpers, this is proof positive of what they always believed. In the minds of the people who are supporters, who don't believe that he's speaking racist but is speaking selfishly and insensitively in his usual hyperbolic way, they would see it as really the context was talking about a merit-based immigration program versus a more humanitarian based.
But the context also should include the fact that the president's own plan, as I understand it -- I think we need more details, but would bring in the people who pass some kind of a merit. And given that the world is mostly nonwhite, it should bring in 75 percent nonwhite people as well. So you're comparing two plans that both would get us to a far more diverse place, but one with a slightly better economic situation, which you could argue is less moral, and I think that's worth a discussion worth having. But he's been clear that's been his plan all along.
SMERCONISH: So, you watched the reaction in the last 24 hours. I've watched the reaction in the last 24 hours, and for many Americans, literally the sky is falling given what the president said. Does Scott Adams think the use of that word by the president in any way negatively impacts his standing in his base?
ADAMS: The trouble is that almost nothing is changing the base anymore. So neither his critics could be swayed by his good performance, nor will his supporters be swayed by somebody claiming that they can see what's in his mind.
Now, one of the advantages we have of this president is, as you pointed out, he should have known that his statements were a semipublic or could be public setting. So we can just ask him and say, if somebody passed the merit standard that would be applied to the rest of the world, would you have any problem allowing them in as an immigrant? If he says, yes, I do, I think he's a damn racist. If he says the merit system will allow in plenty of diverse people, they just will be the ones who have skills to add to the country, then I think you can say, well, let's consider this in context.
SMERCONISH: I agree with your point that people are talking past one another and there's just no room for nuance, which I find so frustrating. Similar question about the hottest book in the country, Michael Wolff was my guest last hour. Is anything he has written making an impact with the Trump base?
ADAMS: Probably not, because the trouble is that if any part of something like that is discredited in a way that everyone agrees, and I think it has been, then it gives permission for people to ignore the rest even if they think it is, as I think Maggie Haberman called it, notionally accurate. So his base has permission by the nature of so many things which have been proven to be not true that they can be skeptical about the other stuff and still be, you know, sane.
But that doesn't mean we don't have things to worry about. I would echo what Geraldo Rivera said, that is if a book says that 100 percent of the people around him say he's mentally unfit, that seems so unlikely that that really is the case. You can't rule it out. I wasn't there, but it seems so unlikely that you have to, you know, put that in context, as well.
SMERCONISH: Two new monikers since you were last a guest on my program, 'sloppy Steve" and "sneaky Dianne," as in Feinstein. Do either stick? You have a particular ear for whether they are going to work.
ADAMS: Well, "sloppy Steve" has the advantage of being visual, and the ones he tries to attach to people that are really kill shots are the visual ones that you're reminded of every time you see the person. So "sloppy Steve" is probably a little bit sticky. "Sneaky Feinstein" looks to me like a soft touch. In other words, he's not trying to wound, he's just trying to tap on the shoulder. So I think that one was more fun than weapons grade.
SMERCONISH: Hey, Scott, no doubt you paid attention to Oprah's speech last week at the initiation of awards season. I thought of you as I watched her speak, because it was a barnburner, and I thought if she really gets into this thing, does he give her a nickname, as well, and is there anything he could come up with to take her down a couple of pegs?
[10:00:12] ADAMS: You know what's interesting about this -- first of all, I don't think she'll run. And if she did, he would have to have a bit of a softer touch until he felt his way through things. He might get harder later on. But I don't think we're going to have to worry about it.
What's interesting about it is a lot of people produced an old video in which he was asked long ago when he was thinking about running for president, I guess decades ago, who would be a good vice president, and he said Oprah. The trouble is for those that are holding the racist view of him, they have to also hold in their head at the same time that his first choice out of hundreds of millions of people was Oprah. And I think he kind of meant it. It looked serious to me. So there's an interesting thing happening with Oprah that might help him somewhat accidently.
SMERCONISH: In your book you speak of hypnotism and what can be learned from it. Quick final subject, I want to show a montage and tell me if you think this was with hypnotism in mind. Roll that sound bite.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, (R) PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There has been no collusion between the Trump campaign and Russians or Trump and Russians. No collusion. Bottom line, they all say there's no collusion, and there is no collusion. I can only say this, there was absolutely no collusion. But it has been determined there is no collusion. When they have no collusion and nobody's found any collusion at any level.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SMERCONISH: That was eight times in what was in truth a minute, 35. What's going on there? ADAMS: Well, repetition is always good persuasion, and if you repeat
to the point where people are calling it out, then you've also done something that's a little bit wrong, which is also good persuasion. The reason we're talking about it is because he did it the way he is doing it, so you're repeating his message.
Now, typically, you would not want to say I'm not the thing I've been accused of, because that reminds you of the thing that you're being accused of. So instead of saying I'm not crazy, you should say I'm a very stable genius. That, even though it's funny, is really good persuasion. Unfortunately there's no word that's the opposite of collusion that would be a common word we would understand, so he's stuck with saying no collusion, which is very suboptimal for persuasion, but at least with repetition he can get his message across.
SMERCONISH: Hey, Scott, thanks for coming back. I appreciate it.
ADAMS: Thank you.
SMERCONISH: What are your thoughts? Tweet me @Smerconish, go to my Facebook page. I will read some responses throughout the course of the program. What do we have, Katherine? "Smerconish, the problem is not the swearing, it's the sentiment being expressed, #indefensible." Richard, the point that I was trying to make is, let's go beyond the fact the president said it and try to understand why does it have so many receptive ears in the country.
One more if we have time. "Smerconish, if these countries aren't blank holes, why the rush to immigrate away? President was talking about conditions on the ground and not people." Well, Austin, at my website right now, I'm asking that question. Was he talking about conditions or was he talking about the people? More than 4,000 have already voted. You should do so, too, at Smerconish.com.
Up ahead, we all heard about the president's explosive remarks about Haiti and African nations this week, but what will the long-term fallout be for immigration? Veteran political consultant Mark McKinnon is here.
SMERCONISH: President Trump's slur against the third world exposed how far the GOP has veered from its predecessors, compassionate conservatism, towards immigrants. What does it mean for our country, for the GOP, and how does a deal get done on immigration? Joining me now is Mark McKinnon, the veteran political adviser to so many, including George W. Bush, and John McCain. His Showtime show, which is terrific, about politics, it is called "The Circus," returns for its third season in April. Hey, Mark, we are a far cry from compassionate conservatism. What the heck just went on here?
MARK MCKINNON, FORMER ADVISER TO GEORGE W. BUSH AND JOHN MCCAIN: We are, Michael. Good to see you. So I was thinking this morning where we started and where we are now, at least where we started with George W. Bush, he had a message of compassionate conservatism that drew millions of supporters, including Democrats and independents like me to become Republicans. And a lot of that message was an immigrant- friendly language and immigrant-friendly policies that attracted us to the party.
And I think about that now, and George W. Bush campaigned in 1999 on immigration reform. That was one of the big issues. Some people said he shouldn't talk about it. He said I'm committed to it, I want to do this. And I think about that now. That was almost 20 years ago, so for a third of my life we've been talking about immigration reform. And it's just incredible to me that we haven't made any more progress. In fact, in many ways we're much further away.
And I'm particularly disappointed at least at the end of this week where we were from the middle of the week when we had a fairly encouraging meeting. We had what appears to be a deal on the table, and I think it's a pretty simple deal that we can kind of blow away the smoke. It's a DACA deal, Republicans have to swallow amnesty for children of immigrants, and Democrats just have to swallow some funding for the wealth. That's it. It's that simple. And yet I think what increasingly occurs to me there are actually a lot of people that really don't want a deal, which is so depressing.
SMERCONISH: We're showing the footage of that, I think it was Tuesday, that White House meeting to which Mark McKinnon is making reference. I was interested in a "Washington Post" editorial this week that said, hey, Democrats, take the deal. If you have to fund the wall, we think the wall is a dumb idea, but take the deal and protect the 700,000 or 800,000 in DACA because essentially what they said, Mark, is federal government wastes money all the time. At least there's something tangible here that we're getting in return.
MCKINNON: Exactly right. It's $18 billion over a period of years, which, of course, is a lot of money, but in the entire scope of things, and actually Trump was the one who said he can build it for less.
[10:20:01] So take the deal, give Trump and Republicans what they need, it's just money for the wall. We know it's not going to be the whole border, even Trump admitted that, it's going to be fences, it will be whatever. Give them some funding and protect those children of immigrants. Give them a DACA piece. DACA for the wall, it's pretty easy.
SMERCONISH: Mark, I want to show a headline from today's "Wall Street Journal," followed by the front page of today's "New York Post." In any other administration this would have been the lead when I came on the air an hour and 20 minutes ago. Could we put the headlines up, guys? "Wall Street Journal," there it is, "Trump lawyer arranged $130,000 payment for adult film star's silence." Now the "New York Post" with a tabloid take on this. There it is, "Oh, Crap!" On anyone else's watch, Mark McKinnon, we'd be saying this is the end. There, "Trump Rep, Former Porn Star Denying" -- but there is a Reagan-esque, and I say it with Teflon in mind, quality to everything else playing itself out around us. Your thoughts?
MCKINNON: Well, I think you're right, Michael. I heard and saw the news this morning and five minutes later -- you know, this was -- first of all, it wasn't surprising, right? People, I think, almost everybody who sees or hears this news today will say I'm not surprised. So -- but to your point about the Teflon nature of this, Donald Trump supporters are supporting him because he's a disruptor, because he's standing in for them for people who feel like they've been left behind, like they were part of America when it was great in their mind, and it's not great now because their quality of life has changed, their job prospects have diminished or they've lost jobs. And Trump represents a lifeboat for them, a lifeboat in life. So all this other stuff is just complete collateral stuff. They don't care, they don't mind. In fact, it just reinforces to most of them that he is different and not a typical politician. So it actually just reinforces the brand and image that they already have of Trump. It doesn't matter.
SMERCONISH: I had the same conversation a moment ago with Scott Adams of "Dilbert" fame, and I was thinking of the Wolff book and I was thinking of the slur, the expletive that he said this week. It's like none of this matters because we're all talking past each other. And I know you care about independent thinking. When, if ever, do we get back to nuance where you could be for something and against something within the same party?
MCKINNON: Nuance, I haven't heard that word in a long time in politics.
MCKINNON: Listen, the bigger picture for me is let's get this immigration deal done, and I think, again, you touched on it, I touched on it, but at the end of the day, if Democrats will just swallow wall funding, and that can mean just about anything. Give them -- give Trump something where he can say I got something for the wall. That's all he needs is something that he can defend and the Democrats can keep children of immigrants in this country. That's really what the Democrats want. That's all the Republicans want. Let's just do it, let's blow the smoke away and get this deal done.
SMERCONISH: Hey, congratulations are in order. And I don't mean the renewal of "The Circus." Katherine, put it up on the screen so I can single out this debonair guest of ours because the Stone Zone's list. His trademarks are hats and scarves, which he pulls off in almost any climate or setting with aplomb. McKinnon only wears ties when going to the White House. Taking a look at how you're dressed today, I guess you're not headed to the White House today.
SMERCONISH: Mark, it's good to have you back.
MCKINNON: Hey, thanks, Michael. Always good to see you. Tell Stan Powers hi. SMERCONISH: You got it. Thank you for that. Let's see what your
reference to my novel "Talk," appreciate that. Let's see what you're saying on my Smerconish Twitter and Facebook pages. What do we have, Katherine? From Twitter, I think. "Smerconish, could stricter immigration standards in the U.S. result in economic decline as a subsequent consequence of immigrants opting to immigrate to other countries?" Well, geographically speaking, where are they headed? Are they going south? I'm thinking of Mexico in particular. But the more interesting question behind your tweet, I think, is that age-old one of are Americans going to do those jobs? Are Americans going to do the jobs that illegal labor is doing today? And I don't think there's a clean, easy answer to that question.
Still to come, a federal court ruled the North Carolina GOP improperly rigged its election maps. Just one of many swing states being brought into court. Are we on the road to fairness? I'll talk in a moment with a gerrymandering expert.
SMERCONISH: In the 2016 elections, Republicans won just over half the popular vote in North Carolina, but took 10 of 13 congressional seats. And that lopsided result was no one-off. In the 2012 cycle, Democrats won 1.4 million more votes than Republicans nationwide, but still lost the House by 33 seats.
So how does this happen? According to my next guest, each was the result of a GOP gerrymandering strategy called "Operation Red Map." And while costing only $30 million, which is a campaign drop in the bucket, it was immensely successful. After our census every 10 years, the party-controlling state legislatures gets to redraw the boundaries for state legislative and congressional lines.
In North Carolina this week a three-judge federal court panel ruled that the resulting congressional maps are unconstitutional, and the state has a three-week deadline to redraw its maps in a fair manner for this year's midterm elections.
[10:30:09] This is coming as we await the outcome of a Supreme Court case from Wisconsin. Question is this, are we turning points now -- are we at a turning point for this undemocratic, small d, process? Joining me, David Daley, he's author of the book that detailed GOP Map drawing plan. It is called "Rat-Blanked, Why Your Vote Doesn't Count." David Daley is also a former editor in chief at "Salon" and senior fellow at Fair Vote. David, what was operation red map?
DAVID DALEY, AUTHOR, "RAT--ED, WHY YOUR VOTE DOESN'T COUNT": It's short for the Redistricting Majority Project, Michael. And it was the most consequential and perhaps historic reinvention of the gerrymander really in our time. It's always been a tool for incumbent protection going back to the beginning of the country. Now it's become a process by which one party can really rule in multiple states from the minority. Republicans --
SMERCONISH: Was North Carolina one of the states that was impacted? DALEY: Oh, most certainly. Really, after the 2008 election in which
Barack Obama is elected and Democrats take a super majority in the U.S. Senate and a big majority in the U.S. House, Republicans took a look at the demographics in the country and realized they had to do something different in order to have a path back to power. They recognized that redistricting after the census of 2010 represented a possible road back.
So Red Map was a $30 million attempt to take control of the state legislatures nationwide in all of these swing states -- Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Michigan, Virginia, Wisconsin, Ohio, and to have every seat at the table when these new lines were drawn in 2011. It has been a highly effective plan. If you add up Michigan, Ohio, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin, these are five swing states. They now send to Washington 49 Republicans and 20 Democrats. That is more than two to one, and this happens in years even which Democrats get more votes in these states.
SMERCONISH: So, I'm illustrating your point now by putting up a map of the country with those states isolated, as well as Virginia, and we all, those of us who follow this even remotely, know that Pennsylvania, Ohio, Virginia, Wisconsin, Michigan, they are all nip and tuck states, and yet you correct me if I'm wrong, even though a presidential margin might be endowed, could go either way, the congressional delegations are 56-24 in favor of the Republicans in total for those states.
DALEY: That's exactly right. We are a 50/50 country, a deeply and closely divided country, and yet at every level in Washington, at the White House, in Congress, and in almost 70 percent of state legislatures, Republicans have all the power.
The gerrymander is a huge reason why, and the gerrymandering that took place after 2010, it was not your father's gerrymander, it was not even the founding father's kind of gerrymander. This is the kind of technologically and deeply sophisticated computer and data-driven gerrymander that has endured throughout this entire decade.
The amazing thing about all of those swing states, Michael, to get back to Pennsylvania and Ohio and North Carolina, is that not one of those districts has turned blue over the course of this entire decade on these maps. So as we head into 2018, a year in which a lot of people think it could be a big wave year for the Democrats, Democrats have not had any success as far as getting a victory in any of these swing states in 2012, in 2014, or in 2016. There is a huge structural challenge that they have to climb, and it was really illustrated in Virginia back in November when Democrats got 225,000 more votes for the state house of delegates, and yet Republicans are still going to control that chamber 51 to 49.
SMERCONISH: Well, we shall find out in the spring what the Supreme Court is prepared to do about this when we learn the outcome of the Wisconsin case. David Daley, thank you so much for being here, I appreciate it.
DALEY: Always a pleasure, Michael, thank you. [10:35:00] SMERCONISH: Still to come, still to come, still to come --
he says to the prompter operator -- what Trump doesn't get about dogs being man's best friends. Other presidents got it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I know you wanted to be in my cabinet, but I've already given you an important job. Your job is to take care of Ms. Beasley.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SMERCONISH: President Trump often the focus of subjective comparison to his predecessors. By one objective measurement, however, there's no debate.
[10:40:00] He lacks what they had, a dog. And he constantly uses reference to man's best friend as a pejorative, like in his recent tweet about Steve Bannon, quote "Michael Wolff is a total loser who made up stories in order to sell his really boring and untruthful book. He used sloppy Steve Bannon who cried when he got fired and begged for his job. Now sloppy Steve has been dumped like a dog by almost everyone. Too bad."
He often plays the dog card when people are fired. Glenn Beck got fired "like a dog." He uses it to describe the looks of a woman he doesn't like, Arianna Huffington, a dog who wrongfully comments on me, or for women cheating on their man. Kristen Stewart, she cheated on him like a dog and will do it again. An election loser, Mitt Romney, what did he do? He choked like a dog.
The president often accuses the media of being biased. Let me make a confession. I am biased in support of dogs. Mr. President, meet Mr. Lucy. He is our miniature dachshund. That's an earlier picture of him, I don't like to calculate his age at this stage. It just makes me nervous, and he's been battling cancer. Or how about Winston who was our cocker spaniel? Look at him. My wife gave me that picture as an engagement gift. She made him pose for it. How cool is that? I took him to the E.R. one night because he was convulsing. They said your dog has hiccups. One more of mine, checkers, our white lab -- big, beautiful white dog with a heart of gold.
Anyway, this is why I pay particular attention to an essay in "The Times" by my next guest under the headline "What the president doesn't get about dogs." Joining me now, Jennifer Weiner, the number one bestselling author of such novels as "Good in Bed" and "In Her Shoes." Her most recent book is a memoir, "Hungry Heart." Jennifer, is this a serious conversation, or are we just pimping for opportunities to show our dogs to the world?
JENNIFER WEINER, AUTHOR: Well, I never turn down an opportunity to show my dog to the world. But, you know, like many people, I am perplexed by our president, and I've been searching for, like, my grand unifying theory of Trump, and I think I finally found it. He doesn't get dogs. And I think dogs -- dogs teach you so much about how to be an adult, how to be a human being, how to have compassion, how to get through a death in many cases, because many of us who have had pets have lost our pets. And Donald Trump has none of that. And this is a guy who wants loyalty. He demands loyalty. What is more loyal than a dog? Nothing.
SMERCONISH: I want to show Moochy. Tell me what Moochy teaches you and what the president might benefit if only he knew Moochy?
WEINER: If only he knew Moochy. OK, do you remember that cabinet meeting back in June where he made everybody go around the circle and thank God for the opportunity to serve him, they love him so much, he's the best president ever, yes, he is, yes, he is. A dog, all you have to do is walk through the door after you've been, like, at the wawa for 15 minutes, and your dog will act like you are Christ down off the cross. The love that you get for doing nothing, and I wonder -- a lot of people have talked about President Trump as sort of this black hole of need. He wants everyone to like him. He needs everyone to love him. Get a dog. Get a dog, and then you can function as a human being and let some people like you, some people don't.
SMERCONISH: In your essay in "The Times," here's what you said. I'll pick it up midstream. "Our president doesn't understand any of that. He mocked Vice President Mike Pence for allowing his family to bring their cats, snake, and rabbits to Washington, deriding them as low class and yokels. Meanwhile his adult sons are big game hunters whose relationships to higher mammals seem to be informed with questions like, am I allowed to kill it and can I cut off its tail?"
SMERCONISH: I shouldn't be laughing at this subject matter, but you write beautifully. Anyway, what are you conveying here? What are you saying here?
WEINER: Well, I'm saying that somebody who looks at a bunny rabbit, Marlon Bundo I believe is the name of the Pence's rabbit, and thinks low class, dirty, yokel, or somebody who looks at the magnificence of an elephant or a lion and thinks I'm going to shoot it, you have to kind of wonder, like, on a really visceral level, what is wrong with these people? Where is the love?
SMERCONISH: OK, final question for Jennifer Weiner, if we have convinced -- if we have convinced the president right now that he needs to be a dog guy, here's the question.
[10:45:00] WEINER: Right this minute.
SMERCONISH: What kind of dog suits him? What kind of dog suits him?
WEINER: Well, I think it's got to be a rescue dog. I think there's so many dogs that need homes.
SMERCONISH: For sure.
WEINER: And I think the message that that would send after the whole bleep-hole countries, for him to go to a shelter and just pick out, you know, some poor dog that maybe doesn't have a pedigree, that maybe doesn't look like it comes from Norway, that's not blonde and beautiful.
WEINER: If he just gets a mutt, don't you think? I mean, you know what he'd want, which would be the best golden retriever, but I would love to see him get one of those dust mop dogs, you know, that's like a little bit of everything, and just love it.
SMERCONISH: Jennifer Weiner, thank you so much for being here.
WEINER: Thank you for having me.
SMERCONISH: Getting a lot of feedback about my earlier interview with "Fire and Fury" author Michael Wolff, so we'll get into that. And here's a highlight in case you missed it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHAEL WOLFF, AUTHOR, "FIRE AND FURY": You are now doing the job of the White House. Just so everybody knows that.
SMERCONISH: Well, wait a minute. I read the book. I took the time to read the book. There it is.
WOLFF: Yes, I know, but you have --
SMERCONISH: I have questions.
WOLFF: Hope Hicks -- I know this.
SMERCONISH: I have questions as a reader.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[10:50:44] SMERCONISH: I'm told my interview with author Michael Wolff, author of "Fire and Fury," which is the hottest book in the country, is on fire online. Katherine, give me a sample headline of what you're telling me in my earpiece so I can see it. This is "The Washington Examiner." Michael Wolff accuses CNN of doing the work of the White House to discredit his book in fiery -- was that a fiery interview, really? Do we have any of the tape? Can we play a minute of it for people who may have missed it? Roll it if you have it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SMERCONISH: I asked the question because it sounds like you're presenting yourself as an individual who has his best interest at heart, likes him, wants to show a more humanizing side of him. And for that reason you should be given access. It becomes relevant, because many of us who have read the book, and I read the book, are trying to understand where the White House denies it, what's true and what's not true, and, therefore, your level of veracity in walking in the door becomes significant.
WOLFF: And I'm missing -- and so what are you implying here? I mean, that's the way -- that is exactly -- no, no, that's exactly what I had in mind to do. It was -- open your kimono, let me see. I'm willing to write -- I'm willing to write any story here.
You are now doing the job of the White House, just so everybody knows that.
SMERCONISH: Well, wait a minute. I read the book. I took the time to read the book. There it is.
WOLFF: Yes, I know, but you have --
SMERCONISH: I have questions.
WOLFF: Hope Hicks -- I know this.
SMERCONISH: I have questions as a reader.
WOLFF: Hope Hicks in the White House is giving you e-mails that I wrote. So, therefore, this is -- you're doing the work of the White House.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SMERCONISH: You know what's funny, I'm hearing this for the first time, I'm going to have to go watch that interview again in total. But I'm not doing the work of the White House. I'm doing the work of the readers, the 1.4 million of us apparently who have read the book, except unlike the overwhelming majority of them I have access to the author to be able to ask some questions.
And I had really two lines of inquiry that I think were entirely appropriate. One was, how did you Bill yourself? Did you misrepresent yourself in order to get into the White House? And, yes, I was looking at communications that he had sent to the White House where he said let me humanize the president. I like the president. Let me help change perceptions of the president. There was a lot more where he's essentially saying I'll be your agent of change against this liberal media bias.
That was one area of inquiry, and the second inquiry was to say how much access did you really get to the president, because it seems to me there were no interviews done with the president with the book in mind, per se, which I think is entirely legitimate. Maybe it's because everywhere else he's gone people only wanted to hear the salacious aspects without asking the tough questions. Just wondering.
One other thing. Sorry, Katherine, I know I'm over, but I have to make this point. You know, there's a bigger issue here, and that is there's an absence of nuance. There's an absence of nuance. You've been conditioned, you viewers, to believe that it's all one way or it's all the other. It's all black and white. It's all liberal/conservative, all red state and blue state. And some of you don't know how to react to a guy like me, who both enjoys reading the book and tore through it, but doesn't buy all of it and has legitimate questions, and then when afforded the opportunity to question the author, to probe more deeply about those things, all of a sudden it's, oh, he's a sellout for the White House, right, because to that way of thinking, well, you couldn't possibly be in agreement on some things and in disagreement on others. And that's what's driven this country into a ditch is all this doctrinaire thinking of it's my way or the highway. And I'm just not a part of that. I'm just not a part of it.
Anyway, what a privilege to host two hours on CNN for the last couple of weeks. I enjoyed it. If you ever miss any of the program, you can catch us any time on CNN Go online through your connected devices and apps. Follow me on Twitter and Facebook. By the way, Smerconish.com, a great clearinghouse of independent thinking. If by chance you like what you're hearing from me, then go and visit that website.
[10:55:12] I will see you next week. It will be the one-year anniversary of the Trump administration. More reaction? Central to his M.O., distraction. Yes, there it is, right? It's all snowbird season, all one way, and somebody else will see it entirely different.
All right, I am out of here. Thank you for a great couple of hours.
[11:00:00] MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN ANCHOR: It's 11:00 on the east coast, I'm Martin Savidge in for Fredricka Whitfield. Newsroom starts now.