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Populism And The Fear Factor; Bill Weld Explores Challenge To Trump Nomination; The Vicious Cycle Of College Admissions; Cities Fighting Back Versus Cashless Businesses; Your Privacy At Risk In Everyday Life. Aired 9-10a ET
Aired March 16, 2019 - 09:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR, NEW DAY WEEKEND: We're going to see you back here in one hour for "CNN NEWSROOM," but off to "SMERCONISH" you go. Thanks for being here.
Michael SMERCONISH, CNN HOST, SMERCONISH: I'm Michael Smerconish in Philadelphia. Let me tell you about Steven from New York. He called my Sirius XM radio program yesterday in its second hour. We were reacting in real-time to the news of the horrific execution of 49 in New Zealand mosques. Now, before a caller gets on my air, a producer puts a blurb on my computer telling me what the caller said while being screened. In Steven's case, it said that he wanted to talk about an Australian politician who had just said something controversial.
Turns out, Australian Senator Fraser Anning released a statement blaming the massacre on immigration policies. It has since been removed from his own social media, but it said this, "The real cause of bloodshed on New Zealand streets today is the immigration program which allowed Muslim fanatics to migrate to New Zealand in the first place. Let us be clear, while Muslims may have been the victims today,
usually they are the perpetrators. Worldwide, Muslims are killing people in the name of their faith on an industrial scale."
Presumably that's what led to this incident of the Senator then being egged while defending his words. But Steven, my caller, called the politician's words courageous.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STEVEN FROM NEW YORK: Quite honestly, and in no way, shape or form am I justifying or approving of this attack, but this is what happens when you push a population to the breaking point.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SMERCONISH: In my response, I said that he was defending the conduct of someone likely mentally ill. He disagreed.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STEVEN FROM NEW YORK: He's absolutely not mentally ill. He made a conscious decision to say I am not going to allow my nation to be taken over by these Muslim invaders. (END VIDEO CLIP)
SMERCONISH: The call immediately alarmed me. My program's not a clearinghouse for hatred, but nor do I censor. I road what we call the dump button as he spoke, but I let him continue. All told, the conversation lasted nearly three minutes. I told him I found his phonecall frightening. He said this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STEVEN FROM NEW YORK: People are going to take the law into their own hands because they're not going to be replaced. Now, in no way, shape or form am I one of these guys. I don't want the FBI, you know, sent out on me, but this is just my opinion. White men are not going to take this anymore.
SMERCONISH: OK. All right. Maybe -- thank you, Steven. Maybe to my detriment, I allowed you to express it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SMERCONISH: I keep thinking about that call. I just keep running it through in my mind. I don't regret taking it. Those feelings are out there. They need to be exposed and they have given rise to populism around the globe. Don't take my word for it. Take Hillary Clinton's.
In an interview with "The Guardian" published in November of last year, she said this, "I think Europe needs to get a handle on migration because that's what lit the flame, the use of immigrants as a political device and as a symbol of government gone wrong, of attacks on one's heritage, one's identity, one's national unity has been very much exploited by the current administration here. There are solutions to migration that do not require clamping down on the press, on your political opponents and trying to suborn the judiciary or seeking financial and political help from Russia to support your political parties and movements."
She's not alone in recognizing how the rise of populism, mostly right- leaning, is the most important European political development of the 21st century. William Galston, a senior fellow at Brookings Institution and a "Wall Street Journal" columnist, wrote last year, quote, "Left unaddressed, the rise of anti-immigrant, anti- internationalist sentiment which has shifted the political balance within Europe could have grave consequences for liberal democracy itself."
It's hard to have this conversation, especially after such bloodshed because some will hear justification. Nothing could be further from the truth. Only a hate-filled lunatic would do what just occurred in New Zealand, but we need to recognize that the white nationalism that drove this killer also exists among others like my caller Steven who says he has no murderous intention, but he has political will, a desire to maintain the status quo.
Sentiments like those that fueled both Brexit and the rise of Donald Trump, the same President Trump who yesterday said he doesn't see white nationalism as a rising threat. But fear is driving the rise of right-wing (ph) populism around the globe. Not all populism is white nationalism, but white nationalism is a subset of populism.
It's a movement that will continue to spread until world leaders address the sort of policy concerns that Hillary Clinton was referencing to "The Guardian," migration, immigration, national identity. Ironically, those conversations were just made all the more difficult by the white nationalist gunmen in New Zealand.
[09:05:03] Of course, I want to know what you think. Go to my website, Smerconish.com, and answer this question. Does white nationalism pose a threat to liberal democracy?
Joining me now to discuss is Khizr Khan. You'll remember he is the father of the gold star U.S. Army captain Humayun Khan, killed in Iraq in 2004 and who made a memorable speech at the 2016 Democratic National Convention waving the Constitution at President Trump and subsequently wrote the book "An American Family: A Memoir of Hope and Sacrifice." Mr. Khan, thanks so much for coming back to the program. What should I have said to this caller who wanted to speak about populism and tie it to his immigration concerns?
KHIZR KHAN, FATHER OF U.S. SOLDIER KILLED IN IRAQ: Well, fear of immigrants, let me add to that. At this moment, there are reportedly 70 million people in the pipeline of immigration from East to West. I would have asked him what is causing this immigration? Wars, destabilization where West has its hands in those countries causing this immigration. Climate change is causing the immigration.
This half-baked thinking about immigration is nothing but hatred towards immigrants, hatred towards others. It's the same hate that caused the attack on Mother Emmanuel Church in South Carolina, killed the black Americans, then Tree of Life attack, then, of course, New Zealand attack and other attacks burning people's places of worship. Our condolences to all of the victims of this violence. Violence is no solution.
After I spoke at the convention, I received and continue to receive thousands of letters of encouragement. One letter stands out that I must mention a small paragraph from that that has the answer to your question that you should raise, you could have raised and it's written by a retired Army nurse. She served in Europe and her last assignment was in Germany.
She writes to us saying, Mr. Khan, continue to speak against this hatred of immigration, hatred of immigrants and others and faith communities. It was exactly same circumstances, same rhetoric that caused the Second World War, the atrocities that were committed by these Nazis and neo-Nazis against the humanity. All decent people of America must continue to speak. All decent people of the world continue to speak against this hatred.
We do not look deeper into what is causing this immigration. You ask the immigrants in the process where you rather be, they will tell you that they'd rather be at home with their families where they were born where they would like to live, but it is the destabilization caused by the West throughout the world, it is that that is causing this immigration.
And this hatred, this white supremacy, this evil of our time is exploiting this immigration and that issue to their advantage to spew hate and to create division. I would go this far, at this time around those who do not wish America well, those who are against the unity of United States, they have their hands in destabilizing American democracy, Western democracy. It's their hand that is stroking this hatred. They are stroking this chaos in the Western world, in the Democratic world, against democracies.
This is too deep and one warning to the communities of the faith is that please protect yourself. This menace is not going away. Up until it is defeated, up until it is put to rest, we must protect ourselves, our places of worship, our places of gathering. There is nothing wrong with that.
And finally, I would say this, that this menace in the West in United States must be defeated at the ballot box in the United States.
[09:10:10] It rose its ugly head in 2016 by the election of this most bigoted candidate then and now as a president. It must be defeated at the ballot box and be buried forever so it never rises again. This is not first time it has happened in the McCarthy era. It was ...
SMERCONISH: Mr. Kahn?
SMERCONISH: I said in my commentary that not all populism is white nationalism, but white nationalism is a subset of populism. Politicians around the globe are doing quite well riding on a wave of populism. How do we distinguish between the two?
KAHN: Well, look, populism is, as you said, is part of this nationalism. It is a sentiment. It is a sentiment of the people that express that. I don't agree with that. I respectfully disagree with that. It is -- what is causing the populism is the sentiment against others and against what we are not familiar with with immigration, with others, with other faiths, with other creeds, with other nationalities. And so we are using this moment, we are using this conversation to further our own agenda.
SMERCONISH: Mr. Khan, thank you so much for coming back to the program.
KAHN: Thank you.
SMERCONISH: What are your thoughts? Tweet me @Smerconish or go to my Facebook page. I will read some responses throughout the course of the program. "Smerconish, your caller Steven shouldn't surprise you. America's well-kept secret is finally getting some eyes and ears on it."
Hey, Paul, I want to expose the sentiments of Steven that are out there because Steven might not be acting on a murderous rage. I wouldn't imply that he was, but I'm saying that the same sentiments that are running through his mind are the type that were acted on by that gunman in New Zealand and politically speaking, we need to assess the political dynamics that's giving rise to politicians all around the globe based on those sentiments.
I want to know what you think. Go to my website at Smerconish.com. Make sure you're answering the survey question today. Does white nationalism pose a threat to liberal democracy?
Up ahead, while Donald Trump is popular among Republicans, a surprising number say they'd like him to be challenged in the primaries. My next guest is exploring that possibility, Bill Weld, the former Massachusetts Governor and 2016 Libertarian vice-presidential candidate.
And if cash is king, how can stores refuse to take your dollars? Should cities force businesses to accept cash? It's happening here in Philadelphia. Will others follow suit?
Plus, look past the juicy celebrity headlines. The varsity blues college application fraud scandal has exposed some larger systemic problems with the admissions process and I will explain.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LORI LOUGHLIN, ACTRESS, ALLEGED COLLEGE ADMISSIONS CHEATING SCAN PARTICIPANT: You know what I don't ever do? I never push my kids to -- I always say do the best you can.
ISABELLA GIANNULLI, DAUGHTER OF LORI LOUGHLIN: Yes.
LOUGHLIN: I never -- I was never that kid -- my husband too, their dad, never -- we were never like at school, you got to get straight A's. You got to -- we were never those parents. We were always like, you know what? Give it your all. Do the best you can.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SMERCONISH: Can anyone make a serious dent in President Trump's march to the GOP nomination in 2020? My next guest hopes so. Much has been made of the fact that the President is supported by 90 percent of self-identifying Republicans, but in a recent CNN poll of Iowa voters, 40 percent of registered Republicans hoped there'd be a primary challenge to the President, 41 percent do not.
Not exactly a promising sign for an incumbent and it means there could be an opening for a candidate with strength in early caucus and primary states. One notable combatant has already stepped into the breach and formed an exploratory committee, Bill Weld, the former two- term Massachusetts Governor and U.S. Attorney for the District of Massachusetts, later the U.S. Assistant Attorney General for the DOJ's Criminal Division. He also ran as Gary Johnson's Vice President on the 2016 Libertarian Party ticket.
And there's something else timely about Bill Weld's bid. He was once Robert Mueller's boss. Hey, Governor. Welcome back. What was it like to be Mueller's boss?
BILL WELD, FORMER GOVERNOR OF MASSACHUSETTS: It was terrifying. He's so well informed and so thorough, you just -- you hesitated to even make any editorial comment. Let me ask you something, Michael. I think I heard it said on the show a few moments ago that President Trump yesterday expressed the thought that what's so terrible about this idea of white nationalism or white supremacy?
If that's so, and I think he's expressed similar thoughts in the past, it lies, in my mind, that a few weeks ago, a Republican congressman from Iowa was stripped of his committee assignments for saying exactly the same thing. If that's true, what's going on here?
SMERCONISH: I've got the clip I think. If so, Catherine, can we run what the Governor is referencing and let everybody else see it? Maybe not ...
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... white nationalism as a rising threat around the world?
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I don't really. I think it's a small group of people that have very, very serious problems. I guess if you look at what happened in New Zealand, perhaps that's a case. I don't know enough about it yet. They're just learning about the person and the people involved, but it's certainly a terrible thing, terrible thing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SMERCONISH: What is it, Governor ...
WELD: Charlottesville ...
SMERCONISH: that we should do as a result of the -- go ahead.
WELD: I think the President's earlier comments were in connection with the violence in Charlottesville. Same point.
SMERCONISH: What's this all about? Is the intention here to win or, politically speaking, to beat him up so that he can get knocked off in the general election?
[09:20:03] WELD: No, no. The intention is to win. There's no point doing something like what I'm about to do unless you -- unless you intend to go all the way and win. I've thought candidly for the last 10 or 15 years that I could start Monday in that job at 1600 Pennsylvania.
I have a mix of domestic and international experience that I think would fit me for the job, which is more than I can say for the current incumbent who specializes in buzzwords and platitudes which he flings about for all they're worth, such as, you know, all our problems are caused by foreigners. That's where the only problem lies. It's not with us. Foreigners caused all the trouble. The future of the energy industry in the United States is coal. That's where we've got to go. Climate change is a hoax.
These are just buzzwords. There's nothing behind them and I don't think the President is knowledgeable on any of these issues. He simply repeats his buzzwords. Now, it's not entirely his fault. Before he was elected President of the United States, he was a New York City and Palm Beach socialite judging beauty contests and employed in the reality TV industry. That's no preparation, with all respect, for being president of the United States. So I'm not saying it's his fault. I'm saying he's kind of a fish out of water and I think as the campaign goes on, that idea is going to take root.
SMERCONISH: Haven't all the Bill Weld Republicans, people like me, already left the party?
WELD: Well, you talk about leaving the party, I've never left the party of Lincoln. You know, when I started in Republican politics, which was way back in the '60s, people still listened to each other, policy was made in Washington by hammering things out and yes, compromising, but a lot got done and lions walked the earth in the Senate.
If someone was giving an important speech, the galleries would be filled with people who would want to listen. No one wants to listen anymore. If someone gives a speech, it's at 3:00 A.M. in a dark chamber with the C-SPAN camera not allowed to leave the face of the speaker. It's because ...
SMERCONISH: Right, but my point is, his standing is like 90 percent among Republicans. It's because there's been an exodus of we moderate Republicans.
WELD: Well, you know, the Trump party, if I may, Trumpism is the natural heir of the know-nothing party of the 19th century which, like the Trumpism, was founded on anti-immigrant fervor. They hated, in that case, Catholics. The Catholics coming in from Germany and Italy. They had violent rallies just like Trumpism. They believed in conspiracy theories just like Trumpism and that party just disappeared into the mist and I think the same thing is going to happen with Trumpism.
I think this is -- you're right. It's a flash, a real flash in the pan, but I think it's going to wind up being that when the sober second thought of the community kicks in.
SMERCONISH: Governor, are you formally in? Can we make some news here today or are we still going through the dance?
WELD: I think month of April, Michael, but it does pay to get your ducks in a row before you formally announce and my sense is by some point in the month of April the stars will be in alignment.
SMERCONISH: Governor Weld, thanks for coming back.
WELD: Great, Michael. Always a pleasure.
SMERCONISH: Let us see what you're saying on my Smerconish Twitter and Facebook pages. What do we have? "Smerconish, Governor Weld is doing what true Republicans should be doing, trying to stave -- pardon me -- save the conservative party."
You know, I think the strategy here, if I had more time I'd have gotten into it with him, is that he's in an adjoining state where he was a two-term governor, a Republican governor of a very liberal Democratic state, Massachusetts. He's well known in New Hampshire and I think that probably his strategy is that if he runs well in the New Hampshire primary, maybe even wins that state, all of a sudden it upsets the apple cart and the invincibility surrounding the President and his nomination is cast into doubt. My hunch is that's what Governor Weld is hoping for.
Still to come, this new ad touting Apple phones privacy is just the latest reminder how vulnerable our data is these days, but what if I told you there's another way each of us is unwittingly revealing crucial personal information?
And the college applicant fraud scandal got a ton of publicity because it involved a couple of TV stars, but it reveals a deeper systemic problem with the admissions process. Here's what Bill Maher said last night on that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BILL MAHER, HOST, REAL TIME WITH BILL MAHER: This is the college admission scandal everybody is talking about. I have shocking news for everyone here tonight. Rich people cheat and their kids are f****** (ph) stupid.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SMERCONISH: Operation varsity blues got lots of attention this week when it was revealed that 50 people were charged, 33 of them parents, in what was billed by the DOJ as the largest college admission scam ever prosecuted. As a father of four, now the parent of a college applicant for the final time, I paid particular attention. This story hit right when many high school seniors and their parents are on pins and needles just two weeks before they'll hear final decisions.
There's no excuse for the alleged conduct of the parents in this case. I just hope that the scandal that ensnared some Hollywood A-listers will spur an overdue conversation about the big picture that has created such a cutthroat competition for a finite number of slots.
The only thing for sure is that currently, nobody's happy. Asian Americans think that they're being limited by quotas. Other minorities think that it's a game of white privilege. And those who are white and privileged think the minorities and the athletes are reducing slots for their kids.
According to prosecutors, William Singer, the college admission consultant offered two services, fraudulently boosting entrance exams and falsely identifying students as stellar athletes. The latter allegedly involved candidates for the Stanford sailing program and the Georgetown tennis team among others.
And now everybody is seeing in this story what reenforces their beliefs. And I guess that includes me. My Sirius XM radio listeners know of my bias against the SAT, that it can be gained is evident from this case. Studying for it has created a cottage industry catering to the wealthy.
It receivers undue influence in the admissions process. And I think it's an unfair predictor of performance. Admittedly that's because I did poorly in the SAT back in the day. But it didn't hold me back from graduating Phi Beta Kappa.
I see the SAT as a part of a vicious cycle. Consider this. Last year, Stanford had 47,451 applicants and accepted just 2,071. That was a 4.3 percent acceptance rate, their lowest ever.
Meanwhile, Georgetown had 22,897 and accepted 3,327, a rate of 14.5 percent, also their lowest. Now why would nearly twice as many apply to Stanford as Georgetown? You might say ranking or climate? True, that according to U.S. News and World Report Stanford is number 7 in the nation and Georgetown is tied at number 22 and the weather in Palo Alto is more predictably nice than Washington, D.C. Agreed. But I think there is an additional explanation.
Stanford accepts the common application as do many other schools. Georgetown does not so if you are a high school senior it's far easier to apply to Stanford than Georgetown so long as you want to pay the $90.00 fee. But if you want to apply to Georgetown you've also got to fill out the application just for that school including numerous Hoya (ph) specific essays.
Georgetown also strongly recommends taking three SAT 2 exams which is more than other schools. Stanford admissions need to sort through enough file from applicants to literally fill a football stadium.
And that puts particular emphasis on the numbers, the SAT in particular. The reality is probably that the bulk of the Stanford applicants have no shots to get in but they figure, hey, what the hell, maybe lightning will strike?
Well, here's some good news, more schools are now discounting the SAT and ACT exams, according to Fair Test, the National Center for Fair and Open Testing. As of today 1,023 accredited bachelor degree granting colleges and universities will make admissions decisions about all or many of their applicants without regard to the ACT or SAT scores. The test optional list now includes more than half of the nation's top ranked liberal arts colleges and a rapidly growing number of selective universities.
The University of Chicago, Wake Forest, Brandeis, American, Worcester (ph) Polytechnic Institute and George Washington University. I'm hoping this trend will continue. Grades earned over years should be a primary import, not performance on a single Saturday morning. That it will take the edge off competition and put families of all economic background on equal footing is a plus.
Again, there is no excuse for those parents who allegedly did something reprehensible. But let's try to fix the underlying process.
Still to come, are you like me, frustrated when go to your local deli or wherever and they don't accept cash? Should these businesses be forced to legally accept it?
And I want to remind to you answer the survey question right now at Smerconish.com.
Does white nationalism pose a threat to liberal democracy?
SMERCONISH: Do you still use cash when making purchases? The world has been rapidly embracing the convenience of a cashless society while businesses may love the faster and safer transactions not everybody benefits and lawmakers are starting to intervene saying going cashless discriminates against people who lack financial stability.
Massachusetts, the only state with a law that requires businesses to accept cash. But when a new law goes into effect in July here in Philadelphia, it will become the first U.S. city to require most retail stores to accept cash. New York City and New Jersey are now looking at similar measures.
Will cash make a comeback or is this a losing battle? Joining me now is Kenneth Rogoff, a Harvard economics professor and former chief economist at the International Monetary Fund. He is also the author of "The Curse of Cash."
Professor, should businesses be able to determine what form they'll accept?
KENNETH ROGOFF, PROFESSOR OF ECONOMICS, HARVARD UNIVERSITY: I think it's good that this issue is getting looked at because we don't have sufficient financial inclusion here. I don't think we're ready to have a cashless society any time soon.
On the other hand, the question who, if you are a liquor store that's been violently robbed three times at night, should you be having to have cash? Should cash be required for big ticket items? I think is a question of where to draw the line, but grocery stores, certainly pharmacies, I think a lot of things, I think this is something good to look at.
I think most of them do accept cash. But it's an important issue.
SMERCONISH: To a certain extent, many vendors already exercise control. We've all walked into the deli that has a sign that says we don't accept 50s or 100s. But I've never been quite clear as to whose decision it should be as to what form of currency is appropriate or lawful.
ROGOFF: Well, I think the federal law is incredibly broad. I think in principle, the store could say we only accept Euros as a foreign currency but of course nobody does that. I think for most stores they are looking at their own costs.
If you are a heavy cash business, you have higher insurance costs, there is all sorts of problems with theft, violence. There's a lot of tax evasion, let's understand that goes on with particularly stores that accept only cash. There is a lot of money laundering that goes on with cash.
This is not a simple issue that just has to do with financial inclusion. $500 billion a year roughly are not paid in federal taxes alone and maybe half of that has to do with cash intensive businesses and drug smuggling, human trafficking, bribes, corruption, arms dealing. Buying expensive apartments in Trump Tower, cash is a fraud issue. But we're not ready to go cashless any time soon.
SMERCONISH: The mayor in Philadelphia, Jim Kenney, says that 26 percent of his residents are below the poverty line. I've read that 7.5 percent of America is unbanked, to use that expression, data that may surprise some of our viewers. The bottom line is there are a lot of folks out there who just do not have a card in their wallet and cannot participate at this stage in a cashless society.
So what do we need to do for them?
ROGOFF: Well, I think we have to do a lot more to promote financial inclusion. If India can afford to give people free debit card accounts, and of course the Scandinavian economies have, the U.K. is looking at it, we should do it too. And a very good place to start is people who receive transfers from the government could be given basic debit card accounts, which the government pays for and have the money put there.
That would save the government actually a lot of money that would partly pay for the debit card accounts. Eventually, I think we should be giving people free smartphones.
SMERCONISH: Professor Rogoff, thanks so much for being here.
ROGOFF: Thank you.
SMERCONISH: Up next, security breaches and data mining have made us painfully aware of how exposed our private information is. But a law professor used an experiment to prove how we are all revealing secret information every day. I'll explain.
Here's a hint embedded in this ad from Apple.
SMERCONISH: We've all been made hyperaware recently of how exposed we are online, whether it's security breaches or the selling of our data. But are you aware of how much private information you simply reveal in public and how much someone who overhears it can do with that information?
My next guest, a professor specializing in law and technology recently assigned her students an exercise and the results were pretty shocking. Joining me now is Kate Klonick. She's assistant professor of law at St. John's University and author of this recent "New York Times" essay, "A Creepy Assignment: Pay Attention To What Strangers Reveal In Public."
Doctor Klonick, what was the experiment? What did they do?
KATE KLONICK, ASSISTANT PROFESSOR, ST. JOHN'S UNIVERSITY LAW SCHOOL: Yes, this was an assignment that I gave to my students to do over spring break, in part because a lot of them had expressed concerns that people didn't need to worry about their privacy. That if they had nothing to hide then they had no problem if people knew things about them. And I just wanted to see -- make them aware of how much information people give off that they're not aware of.
And so the assignment was very simple. When you're in a public place over break take a few moments and if you can hear someone loudly having a conversation with someone else on a phone call or any identifying information on their clothing or bags or things like that you weren't to eavesdrop or to listen in on anything that was purposefully private, but this was just to see thing that people were explicitly saying and use that information and just on your smartphone use Google and see if you can deannonymize them.
Don't look up tons of information about them but just see if you can find out who they -- who they actually are. And the results were pretty robust. Everyone was able to deannonymize a person or multiple people over the course of break. And to varying degrees and levels find other types of information about them.
SMERCONISH: So I'm sitting in a Starbucks or an airport lounge or maybe I'm on mass transit. I'm not going to eavesdrop, I'm just going to pay close attention, and there is always a loud talker. I'm then going to try and figure out who is that person. And you are saying with a pretty high degree of reliability, you can do it?
KLONICK: Yes. And I think that the point of that was really just to show not that we don't have privacy anymore just that the nature of our privacy is changing and how we have to protect it is changing as well. And so -- yes, with a high degree of certainty, you can find information, there is of course as you've said there's always loud talkers.
And that was -- the results of the study actually -- or the study -- the little exercise kind of split into two camps, some students heard really private things like social security numbers and addresses, medications that people were on, telephone numbers, credit card numbers. And other students were able to -- found a much more robust exercise in just deannonymization.
So they would have -- they'd be sitting on a train and someone wouldn't be talking at all but just have a jersey on from high school and they would be able to figure out who that person was remarkably quickly.
SMERCONISH: OK. That's pretty scary, especially for the person who doesn't say anything and still can be outed, at least according to their identity. So what's the lesson for all of us?
KLONICK: Just that you have less privacy and your security than you think you do and -- in public places and that basically a lot of these privacy protections rely on norms which are pretty thin protections. The idea that we're not walking around and Googling everyone on our smartphones everywhere we go.
And so right now, it is up to us to kind of respect each other's privacy, to enforce those things as a society and then to also just do our own job protecting -- maybe protecting our own information a little better.
SMERCONISH: Give me your favorite anecdote either from one of students or from the reaction to your "Times" essay.
KLONICK: Yes. So I think that one of my favorites anecdotes was -- was really simple it was kind of the point of the experiment, it wasn't as scary as others but it just was -- like was clean and -- there was a student who was sitting on a subway car and he heard the first name, just a first name of a person, and they were wearing a college sweatshirt, and he Googled the first name and the college sweatshirt and the person had a fairly unique first name and he was able to find the person, the year that they were graduating, their major, and interestingly, their student I.D. picture which was the exact same outfit that the person was wearing that day on the train.
SMERCONISH: All right. Change up the wardrobe is something else we should all do. Doctor Klonick, thanks. Very interesting.
KLONICK: Yes. Thanks for having me.
SMERCONISH: Still to come, your best and worst tweets and Facebook comments and the result of today's survey question. Have you voted yet? Here it is. Does white nationalism pose a threat to liberal democracy?
Go to Smerconish.com, vote right away.
SMERCONISH: Time to see how you responded to the survey question at Smerconish.com.
Does white nationalism pose a threat to liberal democracy?
Wow! A lot of votes, 11,869 say, yes, it does, 84 percent, yes, it does, 16 percent saying no. Continue to vote. I'll leave the poll question up the remainder of the day.
Here's some of what else came in during the course of the program.
Smerconish, you really are a shill for the left pretending to be impartial.
You know, that's so ridiculous. I don't even have a cogent response to it. Because you may be pissed from one end of the spectrum and somebody else is going to respond from the other end of the spectrum. Watch the show. You'll see that it is loaded with balance.
Give me another one.
Smerconish, so you let it slip smerc. You're a moderate Republican. As if we didn't know that already.
No, Philip Cramer, what I said to Bill Weld is that, look, my political cards are all on the table, from 1980 when I registered at age 18 through 2010, I was a registered Republican and then I left the party and became an independent. Everybody knows that.
What I said to Bill Weld was haven't all the more moderate Republicans, people like me, left the party? We're not around to vote for him in primaries any more. That was the point, which you apparently missed, which is fine.
Next, what do we have?
Really disturbing dialogue with the caller. The whole I don't agree with violence but they have a point sentiment is chilling. Trying to find middle ground attempt with bigotry is just about as dangerous as those who commit these atrocities.
If you missed it I played excerpts at the outset of the program from a very troublesome phone call that I fielded on Sirius XM yesterday, here -- here's a snippet of it in case you didn't hear it.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He is absolutely not mentally ill. He made a conscious decision to say I am not going to allow my nation to be taken over by these Muslim invaders.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
SMERCONISH: That was a self identified Steven from New York who was saying look, he doesn't approve obviously of the violence of the gunman in New Zealand but that the underlying premise of migration and immigration issues are something that he thought were deserving more of voice. That's probably a weak summation.
Here's the point I was trying to make. I was trying to make that the acts of this barbarous gunman, these indefensible acts of a murderer don't draw support in terms of the violence but that the logic of immigration needing to be addressed is what's driving a lot of the populism that you see around the globe. We would be mistaken not to acknowledge that.
White nationalism is a subset of populism. Not all populism is white nationalism, they're not synonymous. I'm just saying there's an issue out there that needs to be addressed, not because of the lunatic who go killed 49 people but because of people like Steven who are motivated at the ballot box.
Join me for "American Life In Columns" tour. I'm in Chicago, sold out tomorrow. Wilkes-Barre on April 7, New York City April 22, Atlanta April 29, and Nashville on April 30.
You can catch up with us anytime on CNN Go and On Demand. And I'll see you next week.