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FAREED ZAKARIA GPS
Michael Bloomberg Announces Candidacy For President; The Politicization Of The U.S. State Department; A New Cold War Between U.S. And China?; Benjamin Netanyahu Faces Indictment In Corruption Cases; How Is Russia Reacting To The Impeachment Inquiry?; Does America Need Hate Speech Laws? Aired 10-11a ET
Aired November 24, 2019 - 10:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
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DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: What you are reading is not what's happening.
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TAPPER: "ALL THE PRESIDENT'S LIES" airs at 9:00 p.m. Eastern tonight, only on CNN.
"FAREED ZAKARIA" starts right now. Have a great Thanksgiving.
FAREED ZAKARIA, CNN ANCHOR: This is Fareed Zakaria. Welcome to GPS. To all our viewers in the United States and around the world, I'm Fareed Zakaria coming to you live from New York.
TRUMP: I want no quid pro quo.
ZAKARIA: Today on the show.
REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): Do you swear or affirm --
ZAKARIA: Vindland, Volker, Sondland and Hill. This week's star witnesses in the impeachment inquiry.
GORDON SONDLAND, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE EUROPEAN UNION: We followed the president's orders.
ZAKARIA: What did we learn from them about how America conducts its foreign policy under President Trump?
Also Iran's protest, Netanyahu's indictment, and more. I will talk to Tom Friedman, Anne-Marie Slaughter and Ian Bremmer.
Also Russia's response to the impeachment inquiry. President Putin said this week he was happy to see blame for the 2016 election interference shifting to another nation, Ukraine. Fiona Hill says this is all Russian disinformation. FIONA HILL, FORMER NSC RUSSIA AND EUROPEAN AFFAIRS EXPERT: This is a
fictional narrative that is being perpetrated and propagated by the Russian Security Services themselves.
ZAKARIA: Is it? I'll ask one of Moscow's top foreign policy analysts.
Then in Germany you can't publish hate speech on the Internet. In America you can. But does America need to become more like Germany?
ZAKARIA: But first here's my take. While impeachment has been dominating the headlines, we're missing a set of stories about American foreign policy that might prove equally consequential. The Trump administration has been doubling down on a policy of unilateralism and isolationism. A combination that is furthering the abdication of American leadership and the creation of a much more unstable world.
This week talks between Washington and Seoul broke down after the administration demanded a 400 percent increase in what South Korea pays for the stationing of American troops in that country. The annual operating cost of the U.S. military presence there is approximately $2 billion. Seoul pays a little less than half that. Trump is asking for $4.7 billion.
The frictions with South Korea will likely be replicated with America's staunchest ally in the Pacific, Japan. According to "Foreign Policy" magazine, Trump has also asked Japan for a significant hike in its payments to the U.S.
These demands are not simply damaging to the ties between key allies. They are also based on bad economics. If American troops were withdrawn from South Korea and Japan, they would have to be housed somewhere in the United States where there would be no burden sharing and no contributions from Seoul and Tokyo.
The Trump administration has also given up on support for broad-based norms and values. It withdrew from the U.N. Human Rights Council ceding the field to countries like China and Saudi Arabia. Trump's tariffs have rocked the free trade system perhaps irretrievably. This week the administration reversed the long-standing U.S. position that Israeli settlements in the West Bank violate international law.
French President Emmanuel Macron was criticized for his recent statement that NATO is experiencing brain death. But in a thoughtful interview with the "Economist" he explained, pointing out that Trump's policy on Syria was undertaken with no coordination with its fellow NATO members. Europe's interest in the Middle East are potentially greater than Washington's, refugees flood into Europe, not America, and yet the Trump administration blindsided its allies across the Atlantic.
Macron believes that Europe faces an unprecedented challenge in Trump. "We find ourselves for the first time with an American president who does not share our idea of the European project." He notes that Trump often distances himself from Europe's defense even against Islamic terror. "When he says it's their problem, not mine, we must hear what he's saying. I am no longer prepared to pay for and guarantee a security system for them, and so just wake up."
It's ironic and tragic that Europeans now believe that they are alone in their fight against Islamic terrorism given that the only time in history that NATO invoked Article 5, an attack on one is an attack on all, was in response to the 9/11 attacks on New York and Washington.
It's often said that Iran, Russia, and China are rogue regimes whose actions are destroying the rules-based international system that the U.S. built and maintained over the last 75 years.
And those countries have certainly engaged in actions that are illiberal and irresponsible. But the greatest threat to the liberal international order right now is surely the Trump administration, which is systemically weakening the alliances that have maintained peace and stability and rejecting the rules and norms that have helped set some standards in international life.
For more go to CNN.com/fareed and read my "Washington Post" column this week. And let's get started.
All right. We now know that the 2020 presidential race officially has a new wild card. Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has announced his candidacy for the president on his Web site.
So let's bring in the panel to discuss that and more. Anne-Marie Slaughter is the former director of policy planning at the State Department. She is the president and CEO of the think tank New America. Tom Friedman is the foreign affairs columnist for the "New York Times" and the author of the best seller, "Thank You for Being Late." And Ian Bremmer is the founder and president of the Eurasia Group, a firm that specializes in geopolitical risk and consulting.
Tom, let me start with you. You wrote a column, an echo of "I Like Ike," 1950s button. "Why I like Mike." You say in that, and I assume you've talked to Mike Bloomberg, that he knows it's a long shot. Why is Mike Bloomberg running?
TOM FRIEDMAN, COLUMNIST, THE NEW YORK TIMES: I think, Fareed, first and foremost because Mayor Bloomberg understands that four more years of Donald Trump will be a disaster for the country. When you see how Trump has behaved when he's restrained by the need to get reelected, imagine how he would behave if he didn't have to get reelected again.
That has led him to conclude, I believe, that the only way to defeat Trump is to be able to appeal to the moderate Republicans, the independents, and suburban women who actually flipped into the Democratic camp in the last -- the 2018 elections for Congress and the Senate.
I think he believes the best way to appeal to them is with a broad centrist Democratic agenda that appeals not just to re-dividing the pie but also growing the pie. That's pro-business. That's strong on climate. That's strong on gun control. And that he can really put together the kind of package of issues that will appeal to the broadest constituency to defeat Donald Trump.
I think he knows it's a long shot, but if Biden were to stumble or Buttigieg were to stumble, or if the Democrats couldn't coalesce around a candidate at the center who would deliver that agenda, I think he feels it's such an important moment, it's worth to try to put himself forward.
ZAKARIA: So, Anne-Marie, I think there are a lot of people I know and frankly I would include myself who'd say whether or not he can get elected, he'd probably be the best president. You know, you could -- if you could wave a wand, this is a guy who ran the city well. He's sort of the anti-Trump.
He's disciplined. He delegates authority. He doesn't hog the limelight. He's results and facts oriented. But is that going to excite passion in the Democratic base? What does he need to do to excite passion?
ANNE-MARIE SLAUGHTER, PRESIDENT AND CEO, NEW AMERICA: So I think his best bet by a mile would be to line up Stacey Abrams as his vice president now and say this is an unconventional candidacy. I'm going to unite old America and new America. He's -- we now have a sort of debate between which of the 70-year-olds can line up the youth, and the best thing he could do is to do something dramatic that would say I'm not just your grandparent's candidate or your parent's candidate. I want a new America.
ZAKARIA: Very briefly, Bloomberg could spend money on a scale nobody else has. Presidential candidates basically spend a billion dollars. Mike Bloomberg could spend $10 billion and still be one of the 20 richest men in the world.
IAN BREMMER, PRESIDENT, EURASIA GROUP: Easily.
ZAKARIA: Could -- would that make a difference?
BREMMER: It matters in terms of picking up delegates on Super Tuesday. So if it's a broken convention, he's going to be very attractive and relevant. But if it's a democratic process that has to go by state to state, then -- I mean, the four of us clearly would vote for him in a hot second. We also reflect -- no, over Trump. But we also reflect one of the narrowest demographics in the United States. I don't think this is emblematic of where the Democratic base is going.
ZAKARIA: Yes. Great point. All right. Next, when we come back, we will talk about the foreign policy fallout of impeachment and the politization of the State Department.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) ZAKARIA: So what did the impeachment hearings tell us about America's relations with the world and things like that? The panel is back with me. Anne-Marie Slaughter, Tom Friedman and Ian Bremmer.
Anne-Marie, you were at the State Department. What strikes me about all this is Mike Pompeo comes across as not just at the center of this whole strategy to persuade or pressure Ukraine, a chief enabler of Trump in this kind of political agenda, but also somebody who ran rough shot over the State Department in order to do it.
SLAUGHTER: It's really amazing because he came in after Tillerson who was so unpopular, saying, I'm going to restore the swagger of the State Department, I'm going to stand up for the State Department. And he has thrown everybody under the bus, essentially, so that he could stay close to Trump.
The other thing, though, is he is deeply political and planning a run for the Senate in Kansas and what's interesting is now the conservative news outlets are reporting he's looking for a way out sooner than he thought, which tells us he thinks being caught up in this impeachment stuff is actually going to hurt him with the Republican voters of Kansas.
ZAKARIA: All fascinating.
Tom, you wrote a terrific column on Mike Pompeo. But I want you to talk about that, but broaden it out to tell me what is the effect of all this, you know, in the world? What is this doing to America's standing in the world? Where -- you know, how should we think about this kind of at the level of the big picture?
FRIEDMAN: Well, you know, Fareed, I was talking to Bill Burns, the former deputy secretary of State, the other day and he was making the point that he's not worried about the deep state. He's worried about the weak state. What happens when all of our institutions get hallowed out, namely the State Department?
You know, Fareed, about a decade ago you wrote a book called "The Post American World," really about how the rest of the world was rising up and equal to us, and that we'd have to live in a more balanced powered world.
I'm actually worried about a different post-American world today. A world where America is no longer the arbiter of truth and trust. That basically the world has always looked to us as the arbiter of what is true, what is right, what is scientific and what is just. And at the same time we've always been the generator of trust around the world. Building alliances and inclusion, knitting the world together.
All together over the last 70 years, that's worked out really well for us. What happens if we have a post-American world where America is no longer that generator of the arbiter of truth or that generator of trust? ZAKARIA: Ian, you gave a speech at this big China conference
sponsored by Bloomberg, the company, not Mike personally. And you said something similar. You said welcome to the end of the American order.
BREMMER: That's right. And I mean, I recognized that a piece of that is because Trump is, you know, withdrawing from so many of these international agreements. Some of which we cobbled together ourselves. But a lot more, it's because Xi Jinping is creating an alternative. It's belt and road.
It's the decision by the Chinese consciously to decouple from U.S. technology and data and 5g, and that moves us, as Kissinger said at the same conference to the foothills of a cold war, and that's -- you know, if we look about the last 70 years, it's not just an American order. It's also been globalization.
We've has goods and services, thoughts and people moving faster and faster across borders. Now suddenly when you take data and data echo systems around people and say that's not globalized anymore, it's going to be split into two, that tells us something very negative about the way that humanity is actually heading and the geopolitical order is going to be much more dangerous in consequence.
ZAKARIA: So do you think that's true, Anne-Marie? A bipolar world, a particularly bipolar in technology, every country having to choose, do we go Huawei or do we go with Cisco and Erickson?
SLAUGHTER: I think it's true with technology, yes, that there are these two different visions of what technology should be. Open versus closed. But I think that order was not just an American order. It's a rule-based order.
It's a multilateral order. And in your column you point out Trump and his allies around the world are actively pursuing unilateralism, tear down anything that smacks of constraining sovereignty with rules. And that to me is just as big a danger.
ZAKARIA: Tom, I noticed Robert O'Brien, the new National Security Adviser, gave a talk I think in Halifax in which he said he compared -- sort of compared China's internment of the Uyghurs to Nazi Germany, gave some very dark comparison. And it struck me that -- did this signal, you think, that the Trump administration has decided that it is in a sense prosecuting a cold war against China?
FRIEDMAN: You know, Fareed, the words decided and the Trump administration have become an oxymoron because --
FRIEDMAN: What one guy says can be overtaken by a tweet the next day. I think it's one of the most confusing things we have is to think of this as normal administration, normal people actually consider policies and then articulate them then follow up on them. You know, that said, I'm glad he spoke out against what the Chinese are doing against the Uyghurs there. This is horrendous what's going on there. And so horrendous that a
senior Chinese official leaked to the "New York Times" a huge trove of documents showing the debate inside China about this. But at the same time, Fareed, this relationship we have with China is incredibly complicated.
They're rivals, they're opponents, they're partners, they're suppliers, they're a source of intellectual capital. And we've got to find a way to manage all of these at the same time. And I think that's the real challenge. And that's what worries you about these people. Who knows, Trump may have had O'Brien do that just to get some leverage in the trade talks and if they're trying to decide to buy some more soybeans for us -- from us, then he might say, oh, no problem what you're doing with the Uyghurs.
ZAKARIA: Yes. In fact, you know, Tom's point is exactly right because Trump I think a couple of days ago tweeted, I'm not going to pressure them on Hong Kong, and by the way, Xi Jinping is a great man and a great friend of mine. So one part of the administration compares to the Nazis, the other -- is there going to be a trade deal?
BREMMER: I think there will be this phase one trade deal. And I think it's going to matter not a whit. It's only because Trump is looking in deal mode whether it's with the Taliban, inviting them to camp David, or it's the North Koreans, begging them for a third summit, or it's the Iranians saying please take my phone call at the United Nations. They've all gone nowhere. And so he is prepared to give away the store for anything that looks like a deal with the Chinese.
But Xi Jinping made very clear at this meeting in Beijing that he is not in the mood to take lessons from the Americans. That if anyone should be giving lessons on economic development, he said it should be the Chinese. That's not a message that either Trump or anyone in foreign policy circles in Washington right now really wants to hear.
ZAKARIA: All right. When we come back, we're going to talk about what Tom Friedman calls the off-Broadway version of Donald Trump, Benjamin Netanyahu's upcoming indictments and his response to his legal troubles which was very Trumpian.
ZAKARIA: Bribery, fraud, and breach of trust. Those are the charges announced on Thursday that have been levelled against Benjamin Netanyahu. The Israeli prime minister in return said he was the victim of a witch hunt and called on Israel to investigate the investigators.
Sounds familiar? Let me bring in the panel, Ian Bremmer, Anne-Marie Slaughter and Tom Friedman.
Anne-Marie, do you think there are parallels between Netanyahu and Trump? SLAUGHTER: It's remarkable just how parallel it is. In the first
place, bribery, fraud, these are like the Articles of Impeachment but equally, the tactics. Right? You know, deny, attack, pretend you're the victim, say it's a witch hunt.
But even more, there's this choice in both places between going the legal route or the political route. So effectively Netanyahu's best hope is to actually get a resolution through the Knesset that will maintain his immunity while he's prime minister. The people against him are thinking about going through the courts. And similarly here, Trump is playing a political strategy and the Democrats are trying to uphold the law.
ZAKARIA: You know, Tom, it seems to me that the defenses at core, the same as the Trump defense, which is an attack on elites, an attack on the establishment saying, you know, these guys have always hated me and they found some maneuver with their fancy-pant lawyers and media allies to bring me down. Will it -- you know, in Trump's case, it does seem to be working. Right? The hatred of the establishment is greater than the concern about corruption.
FRIEDMAN: Well, you know, Fareed, you allude to it. I believe Israeli politics is sort of the wider trends in the world Israeli- Palestinian politics, what off-Broadway is to Broadway. So I follow it very closely. And if you look there, I think Trump should be a little concerned. One, Netanyahu ran an openly racist campaign against Israeli Arabs and what happened, they all turned out and voted the next time and created the third largest party in Israel.
Netanyahu was all over Twitter and Facebook. His opponent Benny Gantz was not. It turns out Israelis got sick of it. And at the same time Benny Gantz was really not just an opponent to Netanyahu. He was actually an antidote in the eyes of a lot of Israelis. They understood that Netanyahu and his politics were putting toxins into the veins of the society. And I think if I were Trump I'd pay attention to that because, you know, there's one big difference between Israel and America now, Fareed.
And that said, you see now in the Likud demands for a primary happening this morning to run against Netanyahu. You see Likud ministers not defending Trump. It turns out Likud ministers, at least a few of them, seem to have a little more spine, self-respect, and integrity than the entire Republican caucus, you know, in the House and the Senate where other than one exception basically are not ready to challenge Trump. So that may be a diversion in Israel, but that itself might be a warning sign to Trump as well.
ZAKARIA: Ian, do you think that -- you know, as long as Benjamin Netanyahu's prime minister, he can't be indicted. Even if he were to go into a coalition government and become deputy prime minister, he can't be indicted so, his incentive is to string this out as long as he can, maybe have a third election. Can he -- you know, if that happens, could he somehow overcome all these problems? BREMMER: Look, I mean, he's holding on by his fingernails, but it
turns out he has really long fingernails, right? We're potentially heading into a third election here and they're even talking about a potential where there'd be a unity coalition where Gantz and Netanyahu would switch off. But that would give Netanyahu another year. I mean, he's playing kick the can. I mean, this is a day-by-day scenario for him.
But while it's happening, let's keep in mind that Gantz actually has the same policies on things that matter to the United States, the region and the world, as Netanyahu does. So at some point he's going to be gone and at some point that indictment is going to stick in my view. But Israel's governance isn't going to change one iota. From a regional perspective, actually, that's probably more important.
ZAKARIA: Very quickly, do you think that the American recognition of Israeli settlements or the recognition of the Golan Heights, does all this -- has this helped Netanyahu? Because Trump is doing all this as favors to Bibi hoping to get him, you know, more votes.
SLAUGHTER: I think, actually, he's -- it doesn't make a difference at this point. It is so clear that he is 100 percent behind Netanyahu that that -- I can't see that the additional recognition of these things would make a difference to the Israeli public. What it is doing, though, is announcing to the rest of the world that we -- that the United States will have no role going forward in any eventual Israeli-Palestinian negotiation because we have now taken a position that says we are completely, firmly on the hard right Israeli side.
ZAKARIA: Tom, let me ask you -- final thoughts on, you know, you mentioned the Republican Party just, you know, completely AWOL on this impeachment issue. That seems -- is that a response to where they see their voters? You know, how should we think about this in terms of why is the Republican Party so bereft of the Howard Bakers, you know, people who are saying look, this is a real problem?
FRIEDMAN: Well, you have entire eco system of FOX News basically constantly arousing the base, sometimes with real news. Sometimes with fake news. That, then, creates a disciplining force that Trump can activate to use against Republican legislators.
That said, though, Fareed, you'd think that, my god, just one. Maybe if I really dream just two, I might actually say, you know what, I'm going to stand up for truth and the right thing here. And our enlisting a foreign leader to intervene in our elections and affecting, using American aid appropriated by the Congress as a bribe, that's just not -- you'd think you'd find just one or two.
And the fact that you don't really says to me that our conservative party is sick here, Fareed. And that's why you're not going to persuade these people. You're not going to change these people. You can only defeat these people. It seems to me, defeating this version of the Republican Party is the necessary but not sufficient thing to produce what the country needs, which is a health conservative movement that can balance the liberal movement and give us the right kind of governance we need.
Right now, we have a sick, I would say, conservative movement in this country and that is not good for our future.
ZAKARIA: All right. We've got to wrap it up, fascinating conversation. Thank you all.
Last week, we've brought you Ukraine's response to the impeachment inquiry. This week, we will bring you Russia.
ZAKARIA: On Wednesday in Moscow, Russia's president, Vladimir Putin, said on stage at an event, thank God no one is accusing Russia of interfering in the U.S. elections anymore. Now, they're accusing Ukraine.
It made me wonder what do Russians make of the impeachment inquiry.
To answer that question, I wanted to bring in the Andrey Kortunov. Mr. Kortunov is the Director General of the Russian International Affairs Council, a top think tank based in Moscow.
Andrey, what is your sense of how Russians are reacting to what they are watching or witnessing or hearing about in Washington?
ANDREY KORTUNOV, DIRECTOR GENERAL, RUSSIAN INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS COUNCIL: Well, I think that if you take the Ukrainian dimension, many in Moscow might be happy that, finally, the U.S. attention has turned away from Russia. It doesn't mean it has turned away forever, but for the time being, it might be a break.
On the other hand, I don't think that many in Moscow are happy about the impeachment procedure in Washington because they understand perfectly well that only a strong U.S. president can fix problems with Moscow. A weak president is not in a position to mobilize political support inside his own country to deal with Moscow successfully.
ZAKARIA: But to what extent is the feeling that Ukraine is now properly being accused by some Republicans of disliking the president? The president says it himself. Is there a certain kind of glee in that? Is there a kind of happiness in Moscow that the Ukrainians are being under attack in some sense?
KORTUNOV: Well, the Russian-Ukrainian relations are very emotional. And, of course, there is a lot of animosity towards the former Ukrainian elite. The perception -- the predominant perception in Moscow is that these people are not honest, that they are ready to use various schemes.
And I think that in this story, they see a confirmation of how they saw the former Ukrainian leadership. It is not necessarily related to Mr. Zelensky but it is definitely to his predecessor. ZAKARIA: And Fiona Hill says that the idea that Ukraine was involved in the hacking of the 2016 election is a fiction and it is essentially disinformation that is being propagated by Russia, by the Russian government. What's your response?
KORTUNOV: Well, I know Fiona Hill. I have a lot of respect towards Fiona hill. But I'm not sure that the Russian government has been directly engaged in this Ukrainian story. I don't think that it has the capacity or the interest to it directly.
However, definitely, the Russian propaganda will make and is already making full use of this story, and definitely it tries to turn the public attention away from the alleged Russian interference into elections of 2016 in the United States.
ZAKARIA: You say alleged. Do you feel that Russia people think there was no Russian information campaign, information war in 2016? Because, you know, most -- it's not just the United States. Most western intelligence agencies believe it happened. Most independent observers believe it happened.
KORTUNOV: Well, you know, I think that there is the official narrative in Moscow. We never interfered. We never do -- we will never do.
But there is a footnote to that. And in small print, you can read that, basically, everybody interferes. Everybody uses information wars in this world of post-truth. Everybody distorts facts or at least puts accents in a certain way.
So, basically, if everybody is guilty, then no one is guilty. I think this is the hidden narrative that you can find here in Moscow.
ZAKARIA: In his annual press conference, President Putin was asked, what would you do to try and fix the relations with the United States. And he sounded pretty pessimistic. He didn't think there was much that could be done.
KORTUNOV: I agree. And, actually, I heard Mr. Putin making his speech at the Valdai Club Annual Meeting, and he said exactly that. He said that the election campaign in the United States is not the best time to try fixing the relationship. And, essentially, everything that we could have proposed, we already proposed, all our ideas, all our proposals on the table. So it's now up to Americans to decide whether they are ready to go for any of them.
I think that, basically, in Russia, they are so used to symmetry as the only mechanism that can fix this relationship.
It has always been this way since the early days of the Cold War. The two leaders had the chance to get together. They were able to agree on something, and then they set into motion this big bureaucratic mechanism on both sides. But it didn't work with Trump. Putin met Trump in Helsinki, and after
the summit, really, the summit meeting, the relationship didn't get any better. It got really worse. So I think that right now, there is a kind of confusion, Moscow, what we can do on top of what we have already done in order to fix this relationship.
ZAKARIA: I think there are a lot of the world is confused about how to deal with President Trump, and it's fascinating to hear that the feeling is true even in Moscow.
KORTUNOV: I would say so. I think that they might like President Trump, but they understand that he is very constrained in what we have -- he can do toward Moscow. Moscow remains a toxic asset for Trump. This situation isn't likely to change, even if Trump gets re-elected.
ZAKARIA: Andrey, a pleasure to have you on. It's always so interesting to hear your perspective.
KORTUNOV: Thank you, Fareed.
ZAKARIA: Up next, in America, you can wave a Nazi flag or post a picture of one on the internet. In Germany, you can't. It's illegal. Does America need laws like Germany, when we come back.
ZAKARIA: Hate speech, there's a lot of it in America today on the streets, on the air waves, on the internet. But should it be policed? Should, for instance, walking around Charlottesville, carrying a Nazi flag, or chanting, Jews will not replace us, be in some way illegal?
My next guest says the First Amendment should not stop us from asking that question. And Rick Stengel was the Editor-in-Chief of Time Magazine and then the undersecretary of state for public diplomacy and public affairs.
His new book is Information Wars, How We Lost the Global Battle Against Disinformation And What We Can Do About It. A pleasure to have you, Rick.
RICK STENGEL, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, TIME: Great to be with you.
ZAKARIA: So you are one of the most storied journalists in America. You had one of the great positions in American journalism, the editor of Time Magazine. And in that capacity, you are always an absolutist on free speech. You always talked about the Oliver Wendell Holmes line that we protect speech, not just the speech that we love but the speech that we hate. But you've sort of changed your mind now.
STENGEL: Well, I was a free speech absolutist and I was on the front lines of it, as you know. And you know what the phone calls are like when the White House calls and says, we don't want you to publish something. You have to make those decisions because it's about government interfering in speech. But as I traveled around the world at the State Department and I saw the sense that people had that the First Amendment was an outlier, that they couldn't understand that we would protect the thought and the speech that we hate, it made me rethink it.
ZAKARIA: And what do you -- give an example of something you just found difficult to defend.
STENGEL: Well, I found it difficult to defend Muslims around the world why we would allow a pastor in Florida to build a Koran. I find it difficult to understand why we would protect hate speech, speech that accuses somebody on the basis of religion or sex or gender or sexual orientation of something that's just awful. I mean, what is the -- do the framers really want to protect that? So I've just started to rethink it.
ZAKARIA: Europe has some laws like that. Do you think we should go in that direction?
STENGEL: I think we should explore that direction. They're more stringent than I would be. I'm just suggesting that we have this debate. I mean, you'd be surprised at all the protectors of the First Amendment who don't think I should be able to debate whether we should even talk about the First Amendment.
But I think we should look at some hate speech laws, look at the state level at laws that penalize it, not putting people into jail but fine it, and also giving the platform companies more liability. Right now, they have complete immunity for publishing hate speech. Let them have some liability about that. I think that would change the nature of the debate.
ZAKARIA: Let me ask you about something Fiona Hill said during her testimony. She talked about how the idea that Ukraine was actually the country that had hacked the 2016 election was part of a kind of Russian disinformation campaign. It was fiction. And yet it has taken hold in a large part of the American public that, you know, a lot of people in -- on the Hill, the republicans believe it. A lot of people who watch Fox News believe it. What does one do about that kind of disinformation?
STENGEL: By the way, there are decades of Russian disinformation. The CIA caused AIDS. The CIA shot John F. Kennedy. All of these things get embedded in our psyches. That's why disinformation is so dangerous. It's hard to rebut it. It gets stuck in our brains. And the Russians are very good at it.
I think the other reason that disinformation works is people want to believe it, right? And it's confirmation bias. If the Republicans are looking for a conspiracy theory to help Donald Trump, of course, they're going to be more receptive to it. That's why disinformation works. It's not just a supply problem. It's a demand problem.
ZAKARIA: Right. And it seems to me the demand problem is almost at the heart of it. Because, as you said, there were conspiracy theories in the past, but you didn't have a third of sometimes half, sometimes more of Republicans believing it. I mean, if you have a desire to want to believe this, it becomes --
STENGEL: Yes. I mean, we may have something in our DNA to believe conspiracy theories. Maybe it's evolutionary, effective behavior. But, I mean, a third of voters during the last campaign believed that Hillary Clinton was running a child sex trafficking ring out of a pizza parlor in Washington D.C. I mean, that's part of the problem. And you can't disabuse people of that.
Another cognitive bias is the backfire effect. When you try to disabuse someone of a strongly held belief, it makes them double town in that belief. That's a problem.
ZAKARIA: So what is the solution?
STENGEL: The solution human beings evolving faster, I think, maybe as fast as technology. But I do think education. I mean, one of the things I've said for a long time, we don't have a fake news problem. We have a media literacy problem. We have to help people figure out the difference between fact and fiction, the kind of thing we've done for decades as journalists. People have to be taught to do that. We need to teach it in the schools.
And by the way, the platform companies should pay for those programs in schools.
ZAKARIA: Do you think that part of the problem is that there's so much media narrow casting? People choose --
ZAKARIA: -- the place they want to hear from. In a sense, they want to go to church. They don't want to be educated. They want to hear the catechism. They want to reaffirm their beliefs rather than exposing themselves to contrary views.
STENGEL: Yes. And, of course, in our era in journalism, it was pushed journalism. Now, people can pull what they want. Which is one reason conspiracy theories and disinformation have so much power, is because people are pulling them in to confirm what they already believe. That's also a design problem.
ZAKARIA: All right. This is a terrific book even if you haven't solved the every problem.
STENGEL: I haven't.
ZAKARIA: Rick Stengel, a pleasure to have you on.
STENGEL: Thank you, Fareed.
ZAKARIA: And we will be back.
ZAKARIA: A new Brookings report this week uses A.I. to analyze how A.I. will disrupt the job market, really. And It brings me to my question. Occupations in what income percentile are the most vulnerable to Artificial Intelligence? The 10th percentile, 30th percentile, 70th, or 90th percentile? Stay tuned and we'll tell you the correct answer.
My book of the week is a podcast. As you watch the 2020 race, you will get amazing perspective by listening to American Elections, Wicked Gain. The host, Lindsey Graham, no, not that Lindsey Graham, tells the story of every American election starting in 1789. It's very well done. It is now my favorite podcast to listen to when I work out.
The answer to the GPS challenge is D, the report points out that while automation threatens jobs like manufacturing, Artificial Intelligence threatens white collar jobs, especially at the upper end of income. These fields utilize the same pattern recognition and forecasting that machine learning does most successfully. The authors emphasize that just because a job function could be computerized doesn't mean it will.
But think back to after the 2016 election when so much ink was spilled on economic anxiety of the white working class, struggling miners and manufacturers across the country. If that taught us anything, it is that shifts in one job sector can be felt by the entire country.
Thanks to all of you for being part of my program this week. I will see you next week.