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The Chris Wallace Show

Presidents of Elite Universities Criticized for Testimony before Congress about Antisemitism on Their Campuses; Progressive Caucus Leader Representative Pramila Jayapal Criticized for Comments on Hamas's Use of Rape as Weapon of War against Israel; Republican Presidential Candidates Except Former President Trump have Fourth Debate. Aired 10-11a ET

Aired December 09, 2023 - 10:00   ET




CHRIS WALLACE, CNN ANCHOR: Hello again, and welcome. It's time to get together with some smart people to break down the big stories in our own way. Today, we're asking, why is it so hard for some on the left to condemn objectively horrible things like antisemitism and sexual violence?

And then amid the outrage over Donald Trump only on day one admission this week, is he really a dictator in waiting? Or just playing one?

And I've got a hot take on why "Time" magazine picked Taylor Swift as its Person of the Year, and these guys can't wait to tell me why I'm wrong.

The gang, as you can see, is all here and ready to go. So sit back, relax, and let's talk about it.

First, the heated debate on the Israel-Hamas war ripping apart liberal America. Take a look at this, an airplane carrying the words "Harvard Hates Jews," flying over the school's campus, a plane hired by a group of Jewish students to condemn what they call rabid antisemitism at Harvard. It's part of the growing backlash many progressives from college campuses to Capitol Hill are facing for failing to punish antisemitism and for downplaying Hamas atrocities against women.


WALLACE: The presidents of Harvard, the University of Pennsylvania, and MIT, grilled by lawmakers this week.

REP. ELISE STEFANIK (R-NY): Does calling for the genocide of Jews violate Harvard's rules of bullying and harassment, yes or no?

CLAUDINE GAY, HARVARD UNIVERSITY PRESIDENT: It can be depending on the context.

STEFANIK: What's the context? GAY: Targeted as an individual -- targeted at an individual.

STEFANIK: It's targeted at Jewish students.

WALLACE: University donors say those responses reflect a moral bankruptcy. Some of the presidents now walking back their testimony. Harvard's president stating, "Those who threaten our Jewish students will be held to account."

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: I was just asking about the women.

WALLACE: Another fire storm over progressive Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal's response to Hamas's use of rape against Israeli women.

REP. PRAMILA JAYAPAL (D-WA): Rape is horrific. Sexual assault is horrific. However, I think we have to be balanced about bringing in the outrages against Palestinians.

WALLACE: Like the university presidents, Jayapal also doing cleanup, saying she unequivocally condemns Hamas's use of rape.


WALLACE: With me today, podcaster Kara Swisher, Reihan Salam, president of the Manhattan Institute and "National Review" contributing editor, "New York Times" journalist and podcast host Lulu Garcia-Navarro, and author and conservative pollster, Kristen Soltis Anderson. And welcome back, everyone. So Reihan, let me start with you. Has the left gone soft on antisemitism?

REIHAN SALAM, CONTRIBUTING EDITOR, "NATIONAL REVIEW": I believe there is a serious antisemitism problem, and it's in part a generational problem. When you look at older Democrats, their views are broadly similar to Republicans writ large. When you're looking at younger Democrats, and particularly, I'm sorry to say, Democrats of color, you do see a very different set of views. And that's something that is causing huge anxiety in the Democratic coalition because I think when you're looking at President Biden, when you're looking at this older generation of Democratic officials, their views are at odds with those of many of the young voters they depend on, they need to energize and motivate. And that's part of why we are seeing the controversies right now.

WALLACE: Lulu, at some universities, students face discipline, they face punishment for misusing a pronoun. So why is it that we have these university presidents so reluctant to call out genocide and say yep, if that happens on my campus, we're going to punish it.

LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO, JOURNALIST, "NEW YORK TIMES": I think it was an absolutely terrible performance by these university presidents.


They needed to have just absolutely condemned it, full stop, end of story. Unfortunately, I also believe that this was over three hours. This excerpt was taken out of context, and I think they are paying the price for it.

KARA SWISHER, PODCAST HOST, "PIVOT" AND "ON": Although when the word "genocide" comes up, there is really just a simple answer. And when you throw in the words like "context," it makes it more confusing. It was just disastrous.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: It was disastrous.

SWISHER: And it was disastrous for the representative, too. There is a very simple answer to all these, even if you want to get out of it very quickly, and it was short of shocking that they couldn't do it.

WALLACE: How do you explain it? We're talking about three pretty smart women, the presidents of Harvard, Penn and MIT. One assumes they were prepared. They knew this was going to be --

SWISHER: Maybe they weren't not that prepared. The communications failure was enormous. But I think --

WALLACE: And the legal failure that they didn't have the smartest lawyer in town.

SWISHER: There is a difference between being on a campus and throwing around words like "context." You're doing a blunt in a college room, you can argue like this in some way. But this is a congressional hearing. It is a very clear question. And it was not a gotcha. And they couldn't do it.

WALLACE: But Reihan, is it just that they froze in the moment? Or is it that they were competing pressures if you're the president of a liberal university that you have to respond to, and that that is what kept them from giving the obvious answer?

SALAM: You've got it absolutely right, the deeper problem, yes, there is a hypocrisy problem. If you talked about genocide directed against black Americans, genocide directed against gays and lesbians, the conversation would have had to be very different. These are institutions that now claim to be rock-ribbed defenders of free speech that have indulged in disinvitations, defamation, demotion of conservative voices on campus. This happens routinely. It happens all the time. These university presidents themselves have been directly guilty of those practices.

But another big problem, Chris, is that when you have this philosophy, right, you have this philosophy about victims and victimizers, oppressors and oppressed, in which basically white males, Asian males, are overrepresented, and other groups are underrepresented, and you champion the underrepresented, it necessarily follows --

WALLACE: So that Jews are considered in this world to be oppressors?

SALAM: The racial justice, social justice philosophy, unfortunately, makes Jews the bad guys. I think that's a part of the --

KRISTEN SOLTIS ANDERSON, FOUNDING PARTNER, ECHELON INSIGHTS: What is so galling about all of this is that over the last decade we have seen this revolution on college campuses. And some of it has been good, right? The push around the Me Too movement to say we're going to take things like sexual assault more seriously. In some cases, maybe there have been campuses where due process has been trampled on, but generally the idea of believing women has certainly come into more vogue, especially on the left.

The idea that words are violence, you hear that on campuses and on the progressive left. And yet suddenly words aren't violence when it is talking about exterminating the Jews? Suddenly, it's not believe all women when video of Hamas engaged in atrocities is readily available? Now suddenly, oh, let hear both sides, let's put it in context. It is absolutely --

WALLACE: Kristen, let me pick up on that with you, because just really in the last week, we've seen this extraordinary situation, which we talked about in the piece, where -- and all props to my colleague Dana Bash, she questioned the head of the Progressive Caucus, Pramila Jayapal, about the use of rape as a weapon of war by Hamas on October 7th, Jayapal felt the need to balance it, say, well, yes, that was bad, but so was things that are happening to the Palestinians. How do you explain that?

ANDERSON: It is extraordinary. But it is not just that one instance. You have institutions like the United Nations that took an enormously long amount of time, organizations like U.N. Women that are supposed to be advocating for the rights of women around the world, and it took them weeks and weeks --

WALLACE: Also Amnesty International.

ANDERSON: -- to condemn what happened.

SWISHER: It took actually Sheryl Sandberg who did that video, which was a terrible video, it was a good video, but it was tough to watch. And this is sort of, I talked to her about it quite a bit, about what she was doing. She wanted to call attention, and she knows she can convene people. This is Sheryl at her best, where she got people to pay attention. She couldn't believe that they didn't do it, and so started to really press on it. And she is able to bring people together, and it is very important. A lot of what you're talking about here is just simple communication, and empathy. But you have to stack rank tragedy, you're already lost.

WALLACE: But Lulu, I think there is something deeper here that we need to talk about, which is this idea, if Reihan is right, and I know you seldom think he is, that there is identity politics involved in here, that people are either victims or victimizers, and so, therefore, our sympathy for them needs to be parceled depending on their status.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: I don't think that there is any disagreement among this group about this particular issue. I want to be completely clear. I think that what happened here was a bit of a travesty.


When we're talking about what the universities have gotten themselves into, I mean, I agree, actually. I think that they have gotten themselves into very tricky territory because they have tried to, in the past, endorse certain language, police certain language. And now when they're faced with this, they're saying, oh, wait, actually, we're not going to try to get involved in this because this is a political issue. And so I think they're really having to look at this.

WALLACE: Do you think there would have been a difference if the question were people on campus talking about genocide for blacks, do you think the response from the presidents of those universities would have been different?


SWISHER: It was, actually.


WALLACE: And why?

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Well, because I think -- I think, listen, I think unfortunately, what ended up happening is that when they were faced with this, it was put into the context of the use of the word intifada, and what that words mean, and how that word is used by people who have a pro-Palestinian cause. And so what I would -- so in that context, I think they were trying to give context, parse language. I'm not defending it, I'm just trying to understand what was going on there.

SALAM: When you look at what happens when you have --

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Just to be clear, I'm agreeing with you.

SALAM: -- faculty members who are just expressing very straightforwardly that sex is biological and binary, that is an opinion you can agree with or disagree with. But faculty members who have expressed that view have experienced pretty sustained campaigns aimed at stripping them of tenure and getting them bounced from elite universities. That is something that is very much within bounds when it comes to free speech, and that is a place where these institutions have signally failed to protect those constitutional values.

WALLACE: It's been quite a revelation this week.

So much on the left. On the right, the fight is on for second place in the presidential race. And after this week's insult-throwing, sharpie sign waving debate, we're asking who should drop out of the race right now.

Then, helping Ukraine beat Russia seems like a no-brainer, but not for some Republicans in Congress. Are they willing to let Putin win?

And later, Tesla's new truck, made for the end of the world. Our group hits the gas on their yea or nay.



WALLACE: Donald Trump returned to court this week as part of his civil trial in New York and once again took the limelight from his Republican primary opponents, who just hours earlier went head-to-head in a blistering debate. But despite his big lead, most of the onstage attacks were not aimed at Trump.


NIKKI HALEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Love all of the attention, fellas.

WALLACE: Nikki Haley in the line of fire at this week's Republican debate.

GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL): Her donors, these Wall Street liberal donors, they make money in China. They are not going to let her be tough on China, and she will cave to the donors.

VIVEK RAMASWAMY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You have a corruption problem, and I think that that's what people need to know. Nikki is corrupt.

This is a woman who will send your kids to die.

WALLACE: Haley said that wasn't worth responding to, but did take a swipe at the attacks on her new big name donors.

HALEY: They're just jealous. They wish that they were supporting them.

WALLACE: It got so bad, Chris Christie jumped in to defend Haley.

CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: While disagree about some issues and we disagree about who should be president of the United States, what we don't disagree on is this is a smart, accomplished woman, and you should stop insulting her.

WALLACE: Now another Republican may join the race as an independent. Liz Cheney leaving the door wide open.

LIZ CHENEY, FORMER U.S. REPRESENTATIVE: I will do whatever I have to do to make sure Donald Trump is not elected.


WALLACE: Lulu, it's now just 37 days until the Iowa caucuses. It's getting serious now, and none of those candidates we saw on the stage really making any serious headway. Who should drop out of the race right now?

GARCIA-NAVARRO: They all should except for Nikki Haley, I think, because I've been saying this for a while. I don't know what everyone is up to, here. I think Chris Christie is making the best anti-Trump case that anyone is, including the Democrats, so perhaps for that reason alone he stick it out. But at this point, it's just not going to happen for any of the other candidates. And I do think that the Republicans who don't want Trump to be the nominee need to rally around one person and basically step aside for the good of the republic, if nothing else.

WALLACE: Kristen, the question I have about that -- of course, you'd have to convince Christie and Ramaswamy and especially DeSantis -- even if they all dropped out, would Nikki Haley get their support? In the end, would Trump end up being a bigger beneficiary from somebody like Ron DeSantis dropping out than Haley? And in a funny way, does she need a crowded field at this point?

ANDERSON: So for DeSantis, his supporters would split between her and Haley. There are a lot of people that like Ron DeSantis because they view him as the true conservative, the one who is going to really go fight the culture war fights, et cetera. DeSantis has fashioned himself as Trump-lite in so many ways to try to appeal to that lane, that it is not a guarantee that if he were to leave tomorrow all of his supporters would, say, go to Haley or some other Trump alternative.

Chris Christie is very different. He is kind of a nonfactor in a place like Iowa or South Carolina. But in New Hampshire, he is very appealing to those independents that are going to play a huge role in the primary. And so his continued presence in the race is really only doing one thing, making it easier for Donald Trump to win the nomination by holding back some of these voters from making that pivot to Nikki Haley.

WALLACE: Kara, I know you talked with Liz Cheney this week.


WALLACE: And I kind of wonder, what's her game? Is she really serious?



WALLACE: Let me get my question out.


WALLACE: Is she really serious about running for president?

SWISHER: No, I think she is being theoretical to point out that she will do anything it takes. I think she wants to light a fire under the Republicans, get people serious. I don't think she would run. Mike Madrid had an interesting idea, that she runs only in states where Trump is strong, where there's problems where she would take away votes from Trump. But I think she is just putting it out conceptually. I don't think there is any serious --

WALLACE: Are you certain, is she certain, that even if those states, that she would take more votes away from Trump than she would from Biden? You've got to figure people who want Trump are going to be for Trump. SWISHER: Yes, she will take the states to weaken it. I think that's

it. I just think theoretically she's making a bigger point, which is what she made in the book, is that he is dangerous to the republic.

WALLACE: Well, that brings me to you Reihan, because there is all this talk and all this hand wringing, especially this week. It seems to have been started by an op-ed piece in "The Washington Post" about, is Donald Trump a threat to democracy? And in this recent town hall this week, his buddy, Sean Hannity, was at pains to try to say to him, you know, you're not going to be a dictator, you're not going to be a bad guy, you're not going to abuse power. Here is how that went.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: He says, you're not going to be a dictator, are you? I said no, no, no, other than day one. We're closing the border and we're drilling, drilling, drilling. After that I'm not a dictator.


WALLACE: So Reihan, is Donald Trump a dictator in waiting, or is he just playing one?

SALAM: Well, look, what he was saying in that moment is something very similar to what Barack Obama said back in 2014. At his first cabinet meeting, he said I've got a pen and I've got a phone. And what he meant by that is if Congress does not do what I want them to do, I can sign executive actions, and I can use my phone to rally outside groups to create pressure on Congress to get things done. And the big, deeper problem, you've seen that under President Obama, under President Trump, under President Biden, is that Congress has abdicated its responsibility --


SWISHER: Dictator? Come on.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Nobody asked Obama.

SWISHER: I know, nobody -- he is trying to use the term "dictator." He's trying to get all this leakage about the Heritage and these groups, they're going to get rid of everyone, Kash Patel saying we're going to come get the media.

WALLACE: Who was a former adviser to Trump, and came out after the meeting this week --

SWISHER: And J.D. Vance asking the Justice Department to investigate this columnist. He's a persistent clown on these things.

WALLACE: Vance, not the columnist.

SWISHER: No, the columnist was fine. It was a little bit much.

WALLACE: All right, but anyway. SWISHER: In any case, this is very different. It is a plan to try to

put the fear --

WALLACE: I want to ask you, Lulu, because I just, I could feel your hackles even though I wasn't looking at you. How do you compare what Donald Trump is saying and doing to Obama saying I've got -- after he had lost control of Congress, I've got a pen and a phone?

GARCIA-NAVARRO: These are two different things. Nobody asked President Obama, are you a dictator, people say that you're a dictator, and in response to that, he said I have a pen and a piece of paper and I can do what I want. This was a direct question, where actually Hannity was setting up a softball for former President Trump where he was saying, hey, people are worried about this, people are writing about this because of some of your statements. Why don't you calm him down? And his response was, actually, guess what, guys, I can do it. And it wasn't -- and you know what the most chilling part of that was, which you cut off? It was the response of the crowd, which was to cheer, because that's what they like about him. They like that he --

WALLACE: Don't be so --

GARCIA-NAVARRO: They like he has authoritarian tendencies.

SALAM: Look, respectfully, the real issue is we have a broken constitutional system, and the reason it's broken is because Congress has basically said we are going to cede the authority that belongs to us under the Constitution to a whole slew of agencies --

WALLACE: But Reihan, there's a broken congressional system, so the answer is to suspend the Constitution, to weaponize the Justice Department, and to conduct mass deportation?

ANDERSON: The answer is that Congress should try to reclaim some of its power. But the reality is that it is not just that Donald Trump wants to put in place a lot of executive orders. The thing that worries me about a second Trump term is that, to quote the great Taylor Swift, he is dressing for revenge. But he is coming look at the White House in a second term with the idea of I am going to try to do all the things that I couldn't do last time. I'm going to put in place people that aren't going to sell me out. And that's where things begin to get a little bit scary.

WALLACE: There is going to be a lot of Taylor Swift in this show, I have a feeling.

From Republican politics to policy, proof this week the party of Ronald Reagan is no longer about win one for the Gipper. And Vladimir Putin couldn't be happier about it.


What has happened to the GOP? We'll try to answer that question next.





WALLACE: President Biden's urgent plea to Republicans in Congress to approve more aid to Ukraine or risk letting the Russians win there. But with polls showing most GOP voters think the U.S. is already doing too much, Senate Republicans this week blocked an emergency spending bill. A growing number of GOP lawmakers not interested in helping Ukraine unless they get big concessions on border security.


SEN. THOM TILLIS (R-NC): We have to be concerned with our safety at home. And we are not safe and sound, and it's getting worse.

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): We're more exposed here at home in the short term than Putin winning in Ukraine.



WALLACE: Reihan, the Biden White House could not be clearer. You heard it from the budget director. You heard it from the president. I think before the end of the year, money for Ukraine is going to run out, and yet Republicans seem perfectly willing to let the year go by without any more aid for Ukraine. So are they willing to let Putin win?

SALAM: Let me give you a non-caricatured, serious view of what the underlying debate is here. The underlying issue is that the United States does not have unlimited resources. You see it right now. When it comes to munitions, material, these are things that it actually takes time to build. If you want to train a welder to work in a nuclear sub, it is going to take them about three-and-a-half years to do it. This takes time. Over the long term it's not zero sum. In the near term, it is zero sum. And if you --

GARCIA-NAVARRO: That's not question though.

SALAM: The question is very straightforward.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: I'm sorry. Let me, let me --

SALAM: Lulu, just to be clear, we have to decide --

WALLACE: Let her talk.

SALAM: We have to decide and make choices, and you cannot say the Germans are off the hook, the Europeans are off the hook.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Excuse me. We know that the United States is the biggest supporter of Ukraine, and if this money is not given to the Ukrainian government, then Putin will win. This isn't a hypothetical. This isn't a question of maybe if and maybe when. It is a question of fact. And so the fact that the GOP is playing politics with this, is trying to get something on the southern border which is utterly unrelated to what is the most dangerous conflict in the world right now, to me, seems absolutely insane.

SWISHER: And let me add, let me add. I interviewed Mike Esper this week, former defense secretary. This is a domino situation if there ever was one. If we don't support them now, Putin is going to go elsewhere. And if he wins here and we show a lack of resolve, Ronald Reagan is not just spinning in his grave, he is hurtling around.

WALLACE: It's interesting you brought Ronald Reagan up because I may be the only one here -- were any of you alive --


WALLACE: You were alive when he was president?

SWISHER: I'm old, my friends.

WALLACE: So any case, what I was going to say is, I covered Ronald Reagan's White House for six years, and one of his, the pillars of his platform was taking on what he called the Evil Empire, and especially he talked about the idea of using proxies to bleed the Soviets so that the U.S. didn't have to. And here he is in his 1985 State of the Union address.


RONALD REAGAN, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We must stand by all of our democratic allies, and we must not break faith with those who are risking their lives from every continent from Afghanistan to Nicaragua to defy Soviet-supported aggression and secure rights which have been ours from birth.


WALLACE: Kara, I bet you don't know who that guy was at the end.

SWISHER: I didn't see him.

WALLACE: OK, well, in any case, it was Soviet Ambassador Dobrynin, Anatoly Dobrynin, who was reading along in the speech as the president was saying what he was saying. But the question, which Kara was talking about here, Kristen, is what has happened to the Republican Party? I mean, the party of Reagan seems to have been completely taken over by Donald Trump and America first.

ANDERSON: Well, this is not a new tension on the right. So on the one hand, you have Reagan, let's go fight the Soviets, project American strength abroad, that's the way you find peace in the world, strain of thought that has been around for decades. But at the same time during the 90s, you had this moment where Republicans were in some cases more opposed to intervention. Actually, when George W. Bush first came into office, before 9/11, he ran on a foreign policy platform of let's refocus at home. So you have had, even before Donald Trump, this sort of thread of thought within the right -- WALLACE: Are you shocked at the idea that Republicans would be

perfectly willing, some of them because they honestly believe it, some of them because they want to tie it to the border, but they're perfectly willing to let Ukraine go down the drain?

ANDERSON: I don't think that Republicans should let Ukraine go down the drain, but it doesn't surprise me that these cross-pressures from the types of folks that say fiscal concerns are number one, the types of folks that say, like Ron Paul and Rand Paul, and before Donald Trump even says --

SWISHER: It's not a zero-sum game. This is not a zero-sum game.

SALAM: You are badly misreading the situation. What is going on we are a different position vis-a-vis China than we were vis-a-vis the Soviet Union. The Chinese are able to crank out surface vessels four to five times faster than we can. It is reasonable and appropriate to expect burden sharing from allies. And as we've said, we expect more standards.

SWISHER: I am going to interrupt you now.

SALAM: What happened is that actually Europe is stepping up more --

SWISHER: Yes, but we don't have enough weapons --

SALAM: We don't Ukraine to lose.

SWISHER: That's not the argument. That's not the argument. We don't have enough weapons -- I talked to Esper about this. We don't have enough weapons, but we don't have them going, but it doesn't mean we cannot understand what exactly is going to happen here if Putin prevails. It is a disaster. We will be paying -- it costs billions to do this. We will be paying trillions.


SALAM: That is not the outcome Republicans in Congress want. What they want is accountability and some pressure --


WALLACE: They don't want to give any more money. Isn't this what Vladimir Putin was counting on that, it took a little longer, that the west was eventually going to get tired?

SALAM: And also another thing, China is counting on it, as well, right? They want to bleed us in this conflict as well. And we need to think about the long-term -- Germany can't do a damn thing about China. Only we can. We're the only ones that stand between them and hegemony if they decide to flip a switch.

SWISHER: I can't believe I am saying this. I can't believe I am saying this, but we are the United States of America. We stand for this.

SALAM: You're damn right we are. And Ronald Reagan made choices. SWISHER: He did, that's right.

SALAM: Ronald Reagan did not do everything --

SWISHER: Tear down this will. He made choices of projecting American democracy there, and he did it over and over again. And I cannot believe that I am praising Ronald Reagan, but I kind of liked him when I was 18.

SALAM: This is revisionist history, OK. Ronald Reagan knew that the United States could not be everywhere at once. He had a restrained approach when necessary. Then an adroit use of --

WALLACE: The question though, is, Reihan, if we were -- let's say Putin just rolls into Kyiv, takes it over. Do we think he stops there? Do we think that that doesn't send a message to Xi in China about what he can do in Taiwan?

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Precisely. Precisely. If you're worried about China, you should be very worried about what Russia is doing in Ukraine.

SALAM: It is crazy to believe that Republicans in Congress want to see that outcome. I do not think they do.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: They are acting like it. And frank what we're seeing at the moment --

SALAM: Well, because they're negotiating with an administration that has had --


WALLACE: Hold on for just a second. Speaking of Congress, recently ousted House member George Santos has a new side hustle where he's trying to show off he's got something that's also the Oxford dictionary's word of the year. Our panel gives its yea or nay on the gig and the word. That's next.



WALLACE: While we like to dig into the big stories, there are some headlines that are just interesting. So it's time once again for the group to give us their yea or nay.

First, disgraced former congressman George Santos sure didn't waste any time joining the personalized video app Cameo, just a few days after getting kicked out of Congress. Take a look at this post to an early customer.


GEORGE SANTOS, FORMER U.S. REPRESENTATIVE: Botox keeps you down, fillers keeps you plum. Look, don't let the haters get to you. Haters are going to hate. And if you have haters, that means you're doing something right, girl.


WALLACE: Well, that would make me feel better about myself.

Santos's new gig seems to be working with reports that at $400 a pop, he is making more now than he did in Congress. So Kara, yea or nay to George Santos on Cameo? Because depending on your answer, you may get a little message from George Santos.

SWISHER: I may. He is good at this. George Santos is good at this. I have interviewed the Cameo CEO. I'm fine with it. It will be over in 15 minutes, because it's just a stunt.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: He's such a grifter.

SWISHER: He's such a grifter. It is a perfect place for him. I like it. I like where he is now.

WALLACE: Reihan, as we all know, George Santos is all about the Benjamins, and what do you think about his cameo on Cameo?

SALAM: Look, it's disgraceful, but I suppose I'm glad he's not on the dole, you know? He's got to do something. But it leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

ANDERSON: He is also making a lot less money through Cameo, even if it is more than he was making in Congress than if he was leaving to go sit on a bunch of corporate boards.


WALLACE: I don't think it's as much of a paycheck.

All right, next, you may see one of these contraptions driving down the streets as Tesla's long-awaited cyber truck is finally on sale, with an early price tag of $120,000. Elon Musk calls it the go to vehicle for the end of the world. Lulu, are you buying the cyber truck, the Apocalypse?

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Are you lending me the $120,000?


WALLACE: No, I'm not saying that you are actually going to get it.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: No. I find this --

WALLACE: Would you get it if you could?

GARCIA-NAVARRO: No. I find it to be a terrifying, terrifying vehicle. I think it's ugly. And also, I just think that the end of the world is not where I want to be sitting in this truck, kind of mowing people down. It's not --

SWISHER: The best tweet about it was "Incel inside." (LAUGHTER)

WALLACE: All right, finally, the 2023 word of the year announced this week by the Oxford dictionary is "Rizz," r-i-z-z. And in case you don't know it, is short for a word you do know, charisma. So Kristen, how do you feel about "rizz"?

ANDERSON: I was not in on this at first in that it doesn't sound like something you want. It doesn't sound like a positive attribute, a thing you want to embrace in the way that charisma does. But then I saw what the words were that were like the backup choices, and it was things like "Swifty," "prompt," and the worst one was, I think, "situationship," so given the options, I actually think "rizz" isn't the worst one.

WALLACE: I have to say, kara, I got on the rizz train about six months ago and felt very cool, like I was in the inside club.

SWISHER: That's what we think of when we think of rizz. We think of rizz and we think of you all the time.

WALLACE: I actually think I'm dripping in rizz.

SWISHER: I think you have rizz. It's fine. The other word of the year was "authentic," which is Merriam-Webster's word of the year. I like these things. It's fun to talk about them. But rizz is over since now the olds know it. Sorry, but it is.

WALLACE: I knew it six months ago. Excuse me.


WALLACE: Anyway -- I think I knew it before she did.

From the word of the year to "Time" magazine's Person of the Year, Taylor Swift. Up next, the panel tells me why I'm wrong about why she was picked.


And this could get ugly.


WALLACE: Let me be clear from the jump. I like Taylor Swift, although I prefer her earlier songs like "You Belong with Me," to some of her more recent stuff. And I understand she has a huge cultural and economic force. But when "Time" magazine this week named her its Person of the Year, I thought, oh, please. First of all, hasn't Taylor received enough well-deserved coverage this year? And how about some of the other finalists like Xi Jinping, or Sam Altman of OpenAI?

But then "Time" wouldn't have gotten the Taylor cover and it wouldn't have gotten the interview with Taylor who doesn't do interviews. To me it sure looks like a pure marketing play for a magazine that used to have a circulation of more than 4 million and is now down to a little more than 1 million.


And I am sure that some of my colleagues on this panel don't agree. And I know there's a good course of you to tell me why I'm wrong. Kara, I'm going to start with you, and be gentle, because I am wearing the Swifty bracelet that you gave me.

SWISHER: What is the issue, and it is all men, I have to say, that this woman, she is $5 billion dollars in economic benefits just in the United States, huge social phenomenon, brought people out to concert sites and out in the public. We had Jeff Bezos, his head in the box, as the "Time" Person of the Year many years ago, he's a big business person, big impact. What is the issue with her? And they do this all the time. And the last thing, media trying to attract audience, you're kidding me. Of course, they are trying to attract audience. And she is someone lots of people really like and have consumed a lot of her content.

WALLACE: Wait a minute, in my defense, and this is not about Taylor. It is about "Time." Here is some of the breathless language that "Time" magazine used in its article with the interview that it got about Taylor Swift. "To discuss her movements felt like discussing politics or the weather, a language spoken so widely it needed no context. She became the main character of the world."

GARCIA-NAVARRO: I do not think it was a good article. That said, I do think you need to give your Swifty bracelet back to Kara.

SWISHER: I agree.


WALLACE: How dare you?

GARCIA-NAVARRO: I am so sorry. I think it is over for you.

WALLACE: Do you not think that language is maybe a tad overheated?

GARCIA-NAVARRO: You can criticize the magazine, but I don't know that you should be criticizing Taylor. That's all we're saying.

WALLACE: Reihan?

SALAM: Honestly, I do think that she is a single millennial, woman, cultural phenomena. I get it. I see the case.

WALLACE: I do, too.

SALAM: But I will also say that, you know what, Olivia Rodrigo's music is way, way better. And you know the song "Ballad of a Home School Girl." Guys, listen to it. It's dynamite. I'm 100 percent team Rodrigo. But I'm OK for Taylor for Person of the Year as a cultural phenomenon.

SWISHER: And economic. SALAM: And economic phenomenon.

WALLACE: "Time" magazine used to be a big deal. "Time" magazine's Man of the Year which is what they called it until, it turns out -- I looked it up -- 1999 before they suddenly got woke and called it the Person of the Year, used to be a big deal. What do you make of this?

ANDERSON: Well, I don't think changing it from the Man of the Year to the Person of the Year constitutes woke in my book. So let me push back on you briefly on that.

WALLACE: In my book, it does --

ANDERSON: A smart change, first of all. Look, they made some real, I think, idiotic choices in the past. Remember the year when we were all "Time's" Person of the Year.

WALLACE: The cover was like a reflection, you saw yourself?

ANDERSON: Right. So like gimmick choices are not new. This has not always an honorific that has been given to people who are good. I believe there are a number of dictators and pretty bad fellas.

WALLACE: It's always for good or ill. The ayatollah was --

ANDERSON: But Taylor Swift has had, I think, she is one of the few things that still kind of unifies people. In an enormously divided worldwide, she's a global phenomenon. She's not just packing stadiums here in the U.S. She is worldwide. I'm fine with this.

WALLACE: And you hadn't already heard enough about her?


ANDERSON: You know what, I think she is great. I'm fine hearing more.

WALLACE: OK, and you will get more. The panel is back with their predictions on what will be news before it comes news. "Hit Me with Your Best Shot" is next.



WALLACE: Welcome back. It's time for our panel's special takes on what's happening, or predictions of what we should be looking out for. So Reihan, hit me with your best shot.

SALAM: I, believe it or not, actually have something positive to say as a prediction. I think that this is going to be the year of great, serious, substantive debates. The debate between Gavin Newsom and Ron DeSantis actually had more viewers than the Republican presidential debate. We just had a debate on CNN between Jamaal Bowman and Mike Lawler, both congressmen from suburban New York. And I think we're going to see a lot more of this as people want to get in the mix. And I think that there actually is a hunger for substantive, thoughtful discussion between public officials.

WALLACE: I sure hope so, because that's what this show is all about. Lulu, best shot?

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Best shot is TikTok came up with the best of the year, and I do like best of the year lists because it gives us an insight into what people are doing. And it is a bit of propaganda, they did a lovely, cutesy little video and everyone was smiling. But there were some really cute rodents eating spa spaghetti, and I just thought I need this at the end of the year. So check it out, TikTok's best of the year.

WALLACE: How much time do you spend on TikTok?

GARCIA-NAVARRO: None of your business.


WALLACE: Kristen, what is on your mind this week?

ANDERSON: I'm a proud Florida gator, so anything that makes SFU and Georgia fans mad --

WALLACE: FSU, Florida State.

ANDERSON: Florida State. Anything that makes FSU and Georgia fans sad can't be wrong. But the College Football Playoff Committee eliminated both of those teams from the college football playoffs and chose to put Alabama in, instead. Now, this was controversial because part of this is because FSU's quarterback was injured. I'll spare you the sports details, all of which is to say, in Florida, politicians are now getting up in arms, threatening to spend upwards of $1 million of Florida taxpayer money fighting this. Look, I can't believe I feel any sympathy for FSU, but I do think they got a little screwed by all of this. At the same time, we do not need politicians getting involved.

WALLACE: Kara, what is your best shot from the wonderful world of tech?

SWISHER: Technology. All I want to say is go blue. My son is at Michigan.

WALLACE: Yes, you have said that before.


SWISHER: Yes, I know. Go blue.

I want to focus in again on AI. I'm going to and stay on this AI train. The introduction of Gemini, which is Google's effort in this to finally caught up. It's a really impressive video if you haven't seen it.

WALLACE: Because you talked about it, I did look at it. This is the coolest thing I've ever seen. The guy draws things and Gemini, the Google AI, it recognizes them and has a conversation back and forth. SWISHER: Yes, exactly. And so that is really important because Google

is the most important company in this space, and OpenAI, ChatGPT-5, and Elon Musk raising $1 billion.

WALLACE: Thank you all for being here. Thank you all for being here. And we'll see you right back here next week.