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SMERCONISH

"One Nation, One Team?"; Female Reporter Told To Bring Male Colleague On Campaign Trip; Politician On Why He Wanted Female Reporter To Bring Male Colleague; Police: Mob Kills Man After He Steals Car With Kids Inside; ICE To Raid Nine U.S. Cities For Undocumented Immigrants. Aired 9-10a ET

Aired July 13, 2019 - 09:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


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MICHAEL SMERCONISH, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Michael Smerconish in Philadelphia. In lower Manhattan on Wednesday, a ticker-tape parade celebrated the U.S. women's soccer team. Of course they deserved this level of recognition. Their play was dominating and extraordinary. I watched as the parade moved from Battery Park to City Hall and when the women arrived, they were greeted with a banner that read, "One nation, one team." If only that were the case.

Instead, it was sad to see that partisanship seeped into people's reactions to the World Cup champions. Again politics intruded on yet another area that should have been a unifier for the nation. Long before the final match, team co-captain Megan Rapinoe famously said she'd not visit the effing White House which drew a pointed response from the president who said he'd nevertheless extend an invite. After winning the World Cup, Rapinoe said she was unaware of a single teammate who'd be willing to go.

No surprise then that a formal invitation to the White House has yet to follow, but at the opposite end of Pennsylvania Avenue, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Nancy Pelosi said they'd welcome a visit of the champions to Congress, an opportunity to which Rapinoe was receptive and so instead of the universal setting (ph) of these remarkable women on Capitol Hill, we'll again be separated into our red and blue corners and we can cross one more item off the diminishing list of common ground that we have as Americans.

Used to be that military service was a common denominator, but without mandatory conscription, that burden is shared by very few. Gone are the days when we watch the same TV shows in great numbers. There's just too much choice for that. We get our news from opposite ends of the spectrum. Local newspapers used to provide community glue, but they're being shuttered and technology generally has enabled us to associate with the like-minded, bypassing interaction with people who come from different places and hold differing viewpoints.

So tolerance is fleeting unification is rare and community is in decline and nothing has contributed to that like partisan bickering. It used to be that our internal differences stopped at the water's edge, but 2016 marked the ending of that thinking when even the foreign meddling in a presidential election was viewed through partisan lenses. And so gone are the days that we'd unite against a common foe, whether in the world court or on a soccer pitch.

This week, a reporter denied access by a candidate for Mississippi governor became an international news story. Why? Because the reporter, Larrison Campbell, is a female. The candidate, State Representative Robert Foster, is a man and Foster said that for Campbell to be allowed to cover him, she'd have to bring along a male colleague. What was his reasoning? Robert Foster joins me now. Representative, thanks so much for being here. So what kind of a truck is it?

REP. ROBERT FOSTER (R-MS): It's a Chevy Silverado 2500. Thanks for having me on.

SMERCONISH: I know because you said, you know, my rules, my truck. that's a big truck. wasn't there a practical solution where you could have just brought somebody along?

FOSTER: Yes. See, the situation is she wanted to do a ride-along interview that was going to be about a 15 to 16 hour day and I'm running a small campaign, grassroots campaign. It's early on in the election. We haven't even gotten past the primary yet and there's a lot of times that my campaign director, who's the only full-time paid staff member on the ground, has to go different directions throughout the day.

And it would have been many a hour (ph) or opportunity for us to have time alone in that vehicle from stop to stop and perception's a reality in this world and I just simply stated it would be better if you brought along a male counterpart with you if we're going to be riding in a vehicle for the interview and she got offended by that.

We didn't ever really have the opportunity to work out the details of me being able to arrange to have someone with us the entire 15 to 16 hour day, which could be done, but at the time, I didn't have somebody that could commit to that long of a day with me at the moment and so she got offended and wrote the article and here we are.

SMERCONISH: We put on the screen a moment ago -- in fact, we'll put it back up, from "Mississippi Today," a political cartoon that suggests that the wheels are coming off that truck of yours. I'm curious. How is this playing in Mississippi?

FOSTER: I think it's going very well for me in Mississippi. The people of Mississippi overwhelmingly agree with me. In fact, I've had people from all over the nation reaching out to me that are professionals, men and women, that practice this same practice.

[09:05:01] It's the Billy Graham rule. Mike Pence himself, the vice president practices this rule. Many successful businesspeople, both men and women, practice the rule of not being alone in a closed-door room with a member of the opposite sex or riding alone in a vehicle with a member of the opposite sex because it's not professional in my opinion to do so.

And the biggest thing here is that I had a vow with my wife that I put first and foremost above anybody else's feelings. I understand that she was offended, but my vow to my wife and my faith go before anybody else's personal feelings.

SMERCONISH: What of the argument that says that you are aiding the limitation, you're preventing the advancement of women professionally? I've watched this play out and I'm mindful of the fact that I have both a wife and a mother who are successful realtors and, you know, if this were the practice in my area, they'd be very limited in their ability to sell houses. You can make that same argument about a number of other professions for women.

FOSTER: Well, here's the thing. Everybody can have the choice to live their lives the way they want to choose to live them. I choose to live my life by putting God first in everything I do and putting my wife and my family second and everything else comes after that to me in this world and I'm not going to change that for anybody else's views.

And the thing that everybody else needs to think about too is that when I'm alone in a vehicle with a woman that is not my wife, people may perceive there to be something going on whether there is or not. And the other thing that has to be taken into consideration is that now in the #MeToo movement era, people could come back at me five, 10, 15 years later and accuse me of assaulting them and I have no witness there to protect me from that accusation and so I have to protect myself and both my professional and personal career.

SMERCONISH: Representative, in this case, and I know this from reading in on the subject, the reporter is gay. Is that of any consequence?

FOSTER: How are people to know that? Can you tell by looking at someone that they're gay? And when I'm riding around in a vehicle with a woman, they're not going to have any clue that she's gay and how is that -- how does that have anything to do with the fact that can a gay woman not accuse a man of sexually assaulting her? That doesn't make sense either. So that, to me, is a mute point.

SMERCONISH: But I -- but I guess what I'm saying is my understanding of your argument is that you're worried about perception, not about reality. You're not worried about your own conduct. You were not worried about any impropriety on the part of the reporter. You're worried about perception. Why isn't the outcome best if you fight a false perception instead of succumbing to what people might think?

FOSTER: Because perception is actually reality. People don't look to the details and dig to find out what the truth is most of the time. They see an image or they see a sound bite of somebody saying something and that's all it takes.

And I am running a very strong candidacy for this race for governor in the Republican primary. It's going to be a very tight race on August 6th and I've had two professional trackers being paid by my opponents to follow me on every public stop that I make and they are filming me, trying to catch a glimpse, a picture or a short statement from me that they can use against me in my campaign and so I'm not going to give them that opportunity and have to ...

SMERCONISH: OK. I have another ...

FOSTER: ... spend the rest of my time trying to defend myself. OK.

SMERCONISH: A hypothetical for you.

FOSTER: OK.

SMERCONISH: A gay -- a gay male reporter -- this was a gay female reporter and you thought that people might assume that there was something going on between the two of you. What if there were a male who was out and is a reporter and similarly requested a ride-along in your truck?

FOSTER: Well, here's the thing. I'm not gay. I'm married to a woman and, you know, generally people aren't going to be able to tell somebody's gay by looking at them. So it's -- again, it's perception. Perception is reality.

SMERCONISH: OK. But assume for this purpose that I'm a -- I'm a gay guy. I'm a gay guy and I'm a journalist and I want to do a ride-along with you. I'm out in Mississippi, but I'm a political reporter. Are you going to let me in the truck?

FOSTER: I would and generally there's going to be somebody with us at a lot of the stops and so it's going to be a situation where ...

SMERCONISH: But wait a minute. Come on.

FOSTER: ... perception's not going to be there that a women's not ...

SMERCONISH: That's an inconsistency. I mean, if you're worried -- if you're worried about perception ...

FOSTER: Yes.

SMERCONISH: ... if you're worried about perception with a female, but I'm a guy who's gay, why are you not similarly worried?

FOSTER: Yes.

SMERCONISH: Why are you letting me in the truck if you're not letting her in the truck I guess is my question.

FOSTER: Because I'm not gay and people aren't going to perceive me to be. I'm married to a woman.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Nobody's ever been called (ph) ...

SMERCONISH: Right. Therefore your thought is they know that that's not what I'm up for, but in this particular case, that was exactly what you had because she was gay as well.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Nobody ...

FOSTER: Nobody can know that by looking at her.

SMERCONISH: All right. By the way, I'm going to have to -- I have to interview whoever else is with you. Either that or I'm getting some reverb.

[09:10:01] FOSTER: Oh, I'm sorry. It's somebody in the back.

SMERCONISH: Gotcha. All right. Bottom line is to those who say that you are hindering women's advancement, you want them to know what?

FOSTER: That's not true at all. There's two things here. One, she reached out to me for an interview. I don't have to grant anybody an interview anytime, anywhere. That's my decision whether or not I want to sit down and do an interview with anyone. I do interviews with women reporters all the time, but we do it in a professional setting where there's somebody else around for the interview. She wanted to do a 15-hour ride-along with me and I made one simple request that she bring another male counterpart with her for that ride-along.

She could have arranged that if she really wanted to do the interview, but what she really wanted was a -- was a -- was a story and so how am I to know that her story was not going to be negative to begin with?

And so here's the situation too, in professional settings, you never have to be alone with somebody with a door closed or in a car with somebody. You can always arrange to have somebody sitting outside of the room with the door open and have a conversation and it doesn't inhibit anyone from moving along in their professional careers. People practice this all over the country, always have and most big corporations practice this policy.

SMERCONISH: Yes. Just there are a lot of practical considerations. I used the realtor one. I could think of a dentist. I could think of an Uber driver. There are just a whole host of situations where women aren't going to have equal access to the workplace. Anyway, I'm appreciative of the fact that you came on to describe this. So thank you.

FOSTER: Yes. I would just disagree with you. It doesn't -- hurt anybody's advancement and one last thing I would like to mention. Everybody please keep in mind the people on the coast. This hurricane is going to devastate not just Louisiana, but Mississippi has already had a tremendous amount of devastation from the flooding in the South Delta and all of the fresh water that has ruined the fishing industry in the Mississippi Gulf. And they're going to be under a tremendous amount of flooding as well and we don't need to forget about Mississippi when this hurricane comes through.

SMERCONISH: We certainly won't. Thank you, Representative. I appreciate it.

FOSTER: Thank you.

SMERCONISH: Well, I think this makes for a great survey question today at Smerconish.com. Here's the way we worded it. Ready? Is a male Mississippi gubernatorial candidate justified in precluding a female reporter from traveling with him one on one? Go to my website. Vote on that. I'll give you the result at the end of this hour. What do we have so far, Catherine? Via Twitter I think, "Robert Foster is a sexist who doesn't want to be alone with women because he's afraid he'd be tempted to break his marriage vows. This is his problem, not Larrison Campbell's."

Doug, I found the obvious inconsistency in him saying that if it were -- if it were a male who's gay and out, that he would allow that individual to be in the truck because he knows that he's straight, but that's in contrast to him saying it's all about perception, right? I mean, because perception was his argument, not that something would happen with Larrison Campbell, but that the perception of him being alone with a woman.

One more if we've got time for it. "Smerconish, I'm as left as they come, but said a strong yes here. I recall my HR recommendations along similar lines." Wow, a lefty who says a strong yes, meaning that he's -- what? Justified. Go vote at the website. I'm really curious to see how this is going to pan out by the end of the hour.

Up ahead, tomorrow's planned ICE raids of nine U.S. cities aim to round up thousands of undocumented immigrants. I'm going to talk to somebody involved in giving dozens of them refuge.

And after a man allegedly carjacked a vehicle with three young children inside, an angry mob here in Philadelphia beat him to death. Should his attackers suffer any legal consequences?

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[09:15:00]

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SMERCONISH: Mob justice or a crime of revenge? Guy in Philadelphia allegedly stole a car outside a pizza shop with three young children inside, the youngest seven months old. Twenty-five year old mother had left the engine running as she ran inside to visit the father of two of the children. He worked at the pizza shop. The parents chased down the stolen vehicle on foot after it became stuck in traffic, pulled the alleged carjacker, Eric Hood, out of the car. Hood then allegedly assaulted the father and fled, but a group of people nearby stopped him and beat him to death.

Philadelphia police say that they have video of the encounter. They're trying to identify members of the mob, but no arrests have been made. Should the members of the mob be charged or is this a case of street justice?

With me now to discuss is veteran criminal defense attorney, William Brennan. Billy, what would be the charges if those in the mob were to be prosecuted?

WILLIAM BRENNAN, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, Michael, in a case like this with this vigilante type justice, there's a fine line between praise and prosecution and if it leans towards the latter and there is a prosecution commenced, and that decision has not been made, as I understand it, by DA Krasner, I think the lead charge would likely be voluntary manslaughter.

Malice is an element that is necessary for murder. I don't see it here. Involuntary manslaughter, which is a serious charge, there's a mistaken belief that a killing is justified or a sudden and intense passion that is aroused that leads one to commit acts they wouldn't normally commit.

SMERCONISH: If you ...

BRENNAN: So I think the lead charge would be voluntary manslaughter, but I don't know it's going to be charged.

SMERCONISH: Well, if you were retained by anybody in that mob to defend them, how worried would you be about this case going to a jury in this town?

BRENNAN: Well, I worry about all the cases. Having said that, I would think that this case at it's worst for me would be a hung jury. I don't think 12 people will agree that taking a man out of a car with three children -- I understand their ages were five months to three or four years old, little babies. I don't think that any jury of 12 will be unanimous in convicting for those actions. I just don't see it. I think it's a hung jury at worst for the defendants, if they're defendants.

SMERCONISH: What about the mom? I mean, the mom -- the mom pulls up to the pizza shop.

[09:20:02] She's the one who leaves the three kids in the back. She goes inside apparently to see the father of two of the children. You know, arguably, but for her leaving them there, none of this happens. Should she face something?

BRENNAN: Well, that's the problem here. I mean, as citizens, as parents, I'm sure we can understand we all do things that are risky and we don't think anything will come of it, but if you back out the end of the story, if this is a five chapter book, you take the last chapter at where they grab Mr. Hood and beat him to death and you just have mom going into the pizza store, leaving the Hyundai running with the three babies in it and the cop on the beat is walking by, I think she gets charged. I think it's child endangerment.

I mean, you've got a running car, you've got three little babies it. The car could pop out of gear. Anything could happen. So I think that probably has been somewhat mooted by the fifth chapter, so to speak, the fact that a man jumped in that car, drove away with those three babies. It's likely that nobody gets charged.

SMERCONISH: You know, it brings to mind, especially at this time of year, those horrific instances where somebody is driving an infant to preschool and forgets that they are in the car when they stupidly get out to run an errand of some kind and we go through the same kind of machinations and thought process as to whether that individual should be charged. Is that an analogous situation in your mind, Bill?

BRENNAN: No, I agree. We see those every three or four years though, but I think that's kind of apples and hubcaps. I think here, this is more analogous to about 10 years ago, almost to the day, a man named Mr. Carrasquillo was accused and suspected of a child raping -- Kensington, in the Kensington section of Philadelphia and a mob of 12 beat him senseless. They not only were not charged, two of them got 11-5 from the FOP as a reward for apprehending him.

And I don't know if it was the same mob, but a mob, maybe the same, maybe a different mob, beat the wrong man a day earlier. So I mean, it's very difficult to balance our desire to take bad guys and deal with them in a quick efficient manner against the need for society to respect our jurisprudence and our system of laws our manner of handling cases. I mean, if everybody beat everyone ...

SMERCONISH: I remember -- I remember that case.

BRENNAN: ... to death, we'd be out of business.

SMERCONISH: I remember that case.

BRENNAN: Yes, it was a big case. Big, big case.

SMERCONISH: Yes. Big, big difference is there's been a sea change in the DA's office, now headed by a progressive prosecutor, which used to be a contradiction in terms, and it'll be very interesting to see whether charges are brought. Bill Brennan -- Bill Brennan, thank you so much for being here.

BRENNAN: Thank you, Michael.

SMERCONISH: What are you saying on my Twitter and Facebook pages? This comes from Facebook I think. "Charge, but minimum sentence. Should have held for police. Mom charge for endangerment." It'd be very interesting, Jerry. I'm not sure what the outcome will be in this case. Look, you can't just give a green light to vigilante justice. That's the bottom line. In this outcome, the guy had a long rap sheet. Mom did something foolish, admittedly foolish, but it's complicated. I want to see exactly how it gets handled by the DA.

I want to remind you. Go to my website at Smerconish.com. Answer this question. I got into it in the first block of the program. Is a male Mississippi gubernatorial candidate, and you met him, justified in precluding a female reporter from traveling with him one on one?

Still to come, yes, AOC is one of the biggest stars in the Democratic Party, but her hard left agenda is creating huge problems for her colleagues seeking the 2020 nomination.

And protesters rallied in cities around the country against tomorrow's scheduled ICE immigration raids, but if everybody knows that the raids are coming, how many will actually be deported? That's my question. I'm about to talk to somebody who's helping give many of them safe harbor.

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[09:25:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SMERCONISH: According to the administration, tomorrow ICE will conduct raids in nine American cities, aiming to round up thousands of undocumented family members to get them deported. This is the map. It was going to be 10, but New Orleans got a pass because of the incoming storm. Some of those with pending deportation orders seeking legal relief have been taking refuge in houses of worship around the country. So what will happen to them and to others?

My next guest has been providing safe havens to some Reverend Noel Andersen serves as the grassroots coordinator for the Church World Service which currently has 45 immigrants taking refuge in their churches, some of them in targeted cities. Reverend, thanks so much for being here. Does anything, legally speaking, preclude ICE from entering houses of worship and removing those individuals?

NOEL ANDERSEN, GRASSROOTS COORDINATOR, CHURCH WORLD SERVICE: Hi. Yes. Thank you so much for having me on your show. Yes, we do have, of course, the tradition that goes back thousands of years, the symbolic tradition of sanctuary that is part of our faith communities, but then of course there is the Immigration Customs Enforcement memo called Sensitive Locations and this memo says that ICE should not be doing immigration enforcement actions in houses of worship, schools or hospitals.

Now, we don't see that -- we have seen ICE actually encroaching on that space, but so far, the houses of worship have remained protected and we expect that that will continue so in these oncoming raids.

SMERCONISH: Should anyone -- I want to ask a very broad and generic question. In your mind, should anyone who is here illegally ever be deported?

ANDERSEN: Well, you know, we always have to circle back to our faith values, right? Which is that every human has inherent dignity and that we are called to love our neighbor and to welcome the immigrant in our midst and so it really isn't our decision. Our role is to welcome all people and that's what we're trying to do and we are -- and then, because of that, we do, of course, stand against deportations and part of our prophetic tradition is to stand up to these unjust laws that are tearing communities ...

SMERCONISH: But --

ANDERSEN: -- and tearing families apart.

[09:30:00]

SMERCONISH: But, Reverend, that's -- that is synonymous then with open borders. I mean, why have differentiation of any kind between countries?

ANDERSEN: Well, you know, of there is a nation state system and I think that most advocates would agree that, you know, people should have a legal process in which to come through ports of entry. And in fact asylum seekers are part of that legal process. But the problem that we have is there is no way for most of the immigrants that have come to -- there essentially is no line.

People say get in the back of the line, but there is no line especially for low skill labor where our economy is pulling in people all the time for whatever part of like construction jobs, restaurant jobs. And so there is a need here and those people are part of our communities. They are part of our economy. They are a part of our congregations.

And they deserve to stay and live here in dignity and respect and with fair treatment. And our congregations and our faith leaders are stepping up to say these are our values and that is what we believe in and these people are a part of our family.

SMERCONISH: And the response to that would be they have been afforded some level of due process, those that we're talking about, because they are subject to a court order that they be deported. You can have the final word.

ANDERSEN: Well, in the case of these raids, we understand that lot of these Central American asylum seekers actually haven't had the chance to go to court because they didn't get their notice to appear because many times they don't have their correct address. And even so, there is an appeal process these people have that a lot of the people that are probably on this list haven't had access to legal services.

And more than 90 percent of the people that have a lawyer are showing up to the courts and we need to support that due process and we need to support the way in which faith communities and the way in which all our country is set upon due process, constitutional rights. And we will fight -- continue to fight to keep families together and everything --

(CROSSTALK)

SMERCONISH: Reverend Anderson, thank you so much for being here.

ANDERSEN: Thanks for having me.

SMERCONISH: Let me check in on social media. Tweets and Facebook comments. This from Facebook I think.

ICE raid announcement is already a success as I believe it's meant to creative fear, fire up the base and further divide the country.

Deborah, interesting observation. Look, it seems to me that the way you go about gathering, rounding up, whatever your word choice is, those who are here illegally and subject to deportation orders is not to announce it in advance. Anybody who tomorrow is in the same place that they were Friday when the story broke should be deported for stupidity.

I mean it is crazy that this was confirmed by the president yesterday. There has got to be something else to it. By the same token, if they have had due you process and they are subject to deportation orders, I don't think that you can embrace open borders and not apply the law to this circumstance.

It will be interesting though to see come tomorrow night or Monday what is the number. Because you know the media is going to want to know the number. How many were deported? And the administration will have to provide that data.

One more if I have got time. Sorry, I got long winded.

The whiners complaining about these raids and deportations -- F.U. This situation is targeting people who have already had their day in court.

Well, Jamal, that's the point that I brought up to Reverend Andersen if in fact they've already had due process and are subject to a court order. Then what are we saying if we don't enforce that order? Then we are acting synonymously with open borders.

I want to remind you to answer the survey question at Smerconish.com. I am told that there is huge voting on this. I don't know which way it is going. Although I have a suspicious.

Is a male Mississippi gubernatorial candidate justified in precluding a female reporter from travelling with him one on one?

Go to Smerconish.com and answer that. Still to come, could the biggest booster ensuring President Trump's re-election turn out to be Democratic Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. I'll explain and although Jeffrey Epstein was charged with sex trafficking of minors by the U.S. attorney's office for the Southern District of New York, the real prosecution hero in the case was a tireless journalist. So what will happen to truth and justice if America's newspapers continue to disappear?

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[09:38:12]

SMERCONISH: On Monday the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York Geoffrey Berman applauded -- quote -- "some excellent investigative journalism" -- unquote -- while talking about prosecutor fact finding concerning Jeffrey Epstein. He without a doubt making reference to Julie K. Brown of the "Miami Herald" whose investigative reporting has given voice to the victims of Epstein whom she depicted as -- quote -- "a freeman despite sexually abusing dozen of underage girls according to police and prosecutors."

Brown's work has been expressly cited by many media outlets in the past week in their own Epstein coverage. For example the "New York Times" said this, "While Mr. Epstein moved about freely, reportedly building a new compound in the Virgin Islands, Ms. Brown continued to dig, accumulating enough documentation to fill a spare bedroom in her Florida home."

While doing my own read-in on the Epstein saga at the "Miami Herald" Web site under the heading "Perversion of Justice," I noticed reminders spaced throughout the series listing all the work that had gone into it and urging readers to buy subscriptions to support investigative journalism like this.

The solicitation was a reminder that there is great investigative journalism all around us, but it is in jeopardy. It is the reason after all why the Mueller record didn't generate more of a reaction upon its release despite its stunning revelations. We had heard it all before. Mainly from reporting in "The Washington Post," "The New York Times" and CNN.

But here is the thing. Many newspapers are no longer able to undertake this kind of journalism especially on a local level. The shift of ad revenue in the internet era has come at the expense of old fashioned investigative reporting that has not been adequately replaced by electronic sites.

[09:40:00]

A 2018 study conducted by Pew Research found that 36 percent of the daily newspapers that they studied had gone through major reported layoffs. Pew also concluded that newspaper newsroom staffs dropped by 15 percent between the years 2014 and 2017.

And a 2018 UNC study show that had between 2004 and 2018, the number of local newspapers decreased by nearly 1,800. In addition, 200 counties in the United States are currently operating without any newspaper at all.

Every time newspapers layoff reporters or shutter, the public loses the opportunity to shine a light on misconduct in the public sphere. One recent closing, the Youngstown, Ohio "Vindicator" which will cease after 150 years of publication on August 31st for financial reasons. Youngstown thus becomes the first American city without a newspaper.

Denise Dick, the director of communication and public relations for Youngstown City Schools wrote this in "The Washington Post" -- "Without the 'Vindicator,' no one will report on the board's performance. No one will call the school board on it if the members try to go into executive session to talk about something that they should discuss publicly.

No one will ask for a copy of the contract with the new company that is providing teacher professional development for the district or of the latest hire. No one will dissect school taxes called levies in Ohio, explaining how much they will cost the taxpayer, why they are necessary or how they will be used. There will be a void. And it will be the public that suffers."

Well, she is right. Just consider the past few winners of the Pulitzer Prize for investigative reporting. In 2019 "L.A. Times" singled out for exposing a USC gynecologist who violated hundreds of women. 2018, "The Washington Post" recognized for its reporting on a Senate candidate Roy Moore, his alleged sexual harassment of teenage girls. 2017, it was the Charleston, West Virginia "Gazette-Mail" that had reported on the opioid epidemic in West Virginia. And in 2016, "The Tampa Bay Times" and "Sarasota Herald-Tribune" were recognized for exposing violence and neglect in Florida mental hospitals. Without newsrooms, staffed with people like Julie Brown, victims like those of Jeffrey Epstein arguably wouldn't get justice. And we need to continue to support their efforts.

Up ahead, who might be the biggest secret weapon in helping President Trump get reelected? Well, according to the "Wall Street Journal" Peggy Noonan, it is AOC, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. I'll explain.

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[09:46:36]

SMERCONISH: Is the GOP's secret weapon Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez? That is the theory that's posited by former Reagan's speech writer Peggy Noonan in a piece that is currently number one on the "Wall Street Journal" Web site in "I Come to Bury Biden, Not to Praise Him." Noonan says AOC -- quote -- "has been destructive to her party's chances in 2020, she is a one woman committee to reelect the president." She cites AOC's attacks on party elders like Pelosi and Bide and her ongoing push to the left.

Could this divisiveness lead President Trump to victory? Joining me now to discuss is Democratic presidential candidate and former Maryland congressman John Delaney.

So, Congressman, did Peggy Noonan get it right?

JOHN DELANEY (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think she got it more right than wrong. I mean, listen, I think President Trump is the worst president of our lifetime. And it is incredibly important that we defeat him in 2020. And, I think, these efforts to push the party too far to the left or these efforts to divide the Democratic Party just put him on a glide path for re-election.

SMERCONISH: Here is something that Peggy Noonan wrote -- quote -- "It is that in doing these dramatic things" -- referring to the so-called squad -- "and amplifying them though their impressive social media skills, or compulsions, they have fully broken through and made their mark. In their fame and celebrity they altered the face and feel of the party into something that appears more radical, more hissing and accusatory, more hard-left."

Is that how you would describe it?

DELANEY: Well, there is definitely -- look it, I'm running against two dozen people. Many of them have moved very far to the left. They are talking about things like making private insurance illegal, or writing off all the student debts in our country. Things that don't make any sense.

They are impossible promises, they're pie in the sky ideas. We have to be running on real solutions that solve problems affecting everyday Americans and we need to become a big tent party. That is how we took back the House in 2018.

We took back the House with 40 great moderate candidates who flipped seats that were held by Republicans to Democrats. That is the lesson that we need to apply to 2020.

So I think what AOC is doing and what some -- you know, Bernie Sanders is doing and to some extent Elizabeth Warren, they are pushing the party very far to the left. There is definitely energy for that in the primary. But that doesn't represent where most Americans are. You know, that is not how you win general locations.

As someone who has won a tough general election when my congressional district went for a Republican who was at the top of the ticket by big margins, I know what it is like to be in these districts, right? You have to run in the center. You have to run on solving problems, bringing people together. Focusing on policies that big majorities of the American people support.

You have to be a pragmatic idealist. You should want to do big things but you need to be realistic about how you get them done and focus on actually policies that make sense.

So, I think, these efforts --

SMERCONISH: Right. But you don't --

DELANEY: -- you know, to call Nancy Pelosi a racist? It is crazy.

SMERCONISH: But you don't get to stand for a general election unless you can survive this gauntlet. So as to who is out of step, you or AOC, isn't the argument you for the primary and nomination process and her for the general election season?

[09:50:02]

DELANEY: If you break the primary down into the social media primary and you compare that to say the Iowa caucus or the New Hampshire primary, I think what I'm running on is much more in step with the Iowa caucus and the New Hampshire primary where you get a broad spectrum of Democrats represented and participating.

The social media primary, which is actually what's happening now, and in many ways, the DNC has encouraged this social media primary with their requirement for all these online donors and has oriented everyone towards that, that is not representative of where the Democratic Party is.

I really don't believe that, Michael. I think most Democrats self- identify as people who want solutions, want us to work together, want us to make progress, want common sense main street solutions to all of these big issues that the American people are facing, whether it's health care and jobs or climate change, whatever the case may be, the fiscal trajectory of this country.

They want people with real ideas, real solutions. They want workable ideas. They want us to tell people how we're going to pay for them and they want us to tell people how we're going to get it done. And I think what's going on right now is there are certain members of our party who are trying to divide the party, who are calling out moderates and saying they don't really represent who the party is while in fact they are the path forward -- right? That's how we took back the House.

So, I think it's actually very dangerous and it actually, as I said, puts the president on a potential glide path to re-election. And it's not where most Democrats are.

SMERCONISH: Congressman --

DELANEY: So, I just think that's what this primary in many ways is all about is finding that soul of the Democratic Party.

SMERCONISH: Congressman John Delaney, thank you for coming back.

DELANEY: Thank you, Michael.

SMERCONISH: Still to come, your best and worst tweets and Facebook comments, and we will give you the final result of the survey question. This is your last shot to vote before I give the result. Enormous voting.

Is a male Mississippi gubernatorial candidate justified in precluding a female reporter from traveling with him one on one?

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[09:55:31]

SMERCONISH: Time to see how you responded to the survey question at Smerconish.com.

By the way, I have a prediction about this. I don't see the results. I don't know -- you know, I'm on the same footing that you are.

Is a male Mississippi gubernatorial candidate justified in precluding a male/female reporter from traveling with him one on one?

I predict that the nos will have it but not by the margin that many viewers are anticipating. All right. Let's see what it is.

Oh, my god. OK 19,029, what a knuckle head I am. The nos didn't have it, the yeses had it which, I guess, makes my point even more.

I talked about this on radio, and I was -- I was really surprised. I anticipated that people would say, hey, he can't do that. And the audience on the radio was very, very divided.

Wow. I'm shocked, I must say. I'm going to leave that question up through the weekend.

Time for just one more, Catherine (ph), if we have it. So much for my prediction. You think I had learned my lesson in 2016.

Smerconish, are you seriously suggesting that a female reporter bring a colleague with her to avoid her being alone with a candidate? Sexist!

I didn't suggest that at all. You know, you -- you read too much into the question. I'm here to ask provocative questions. And I will see you next week.

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