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The Chris Wallace Show

President Biden Holds Press Conference after Special Counsel Investigating His Harboring Classified Documents States President Biden's Memory is Poor; Republicans in House of Representatives Fail to Impeach Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas and to Pass Funding Bill for Israel; Republicans in Senate Fail to Pass Bipartisan Immigration and Border Security Bill. Aired 10-11a ET

Aired February 10, 2024 - 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. Today we're asking, following the special counsel's scathing report questioning President Biden's mental fitness, can he dig himself out of the growing age issue?

Then, the rift on the right in Congress, leading some to question the future of the top two Republicans on Capitol Hill.

And the face-to-face flop -- I'll break down Tucker Carlson's so- called interview with Vladimir Putin, and you don't want to miss it.

The panel is here and ready to go. So sit back, relax, and let's talk about it.

Up first in the category of things you don't see every day, the president of the United States called a snap news conference the other night to show he still has his marbles. Here is how that went.



WALLACE: A victory for the president after the special counsel said Joe Biden won't face charges in his classified document probe. But while the report cleared Biden legally, it savaged him politically, saying one reason they didn't charge Biden is he'd come off to a jury as an elderly man with a poor memory.

BIDEN: I'm an elderly man and I know what the hell I'm doing.

WALLACE: The special counsel's report details Biden didn't remember when his term as vice president began or ended, and worse, when his son Beau died.

BIDEN: How in the hell dare he raise that? Frankly, when I was asked the question, I thought to myself, it wasn't any of their damn business.

WALLACE: But as Biden defended his abilities, he made another gaffe, mistaking the president of Egypt.

BIDEN: The president of Mexico, El Sisi.

WALLACE: Republican lawmakers quickly piled on, calling for Biden's removal under the 25th Amendment for incapacitation.


WALLACE: Here with me today, podcaster Kara Swisher, Reihan Salam, president of the Manhattan Institute and "National Review" contributing editor, "New York Times" columnist and podcast host, Lulu Garcia-Navarro, and also from "The New York Times," opinion columnist Bret Stephens. Welcome, everyone, especially you. You're a first timer, Bret. Thank you.


WALLACE: So you wrote a column back in 2021 at the end of Biden's first year as president suggesting that he should announce then and there that he was not going to run for reelection. Did he persuade you the other night that he is up to another five years?

STEPHENS: No, and I don't think he persuaded a lot of people. I think, if anything, I should have persuaded him two years ago to do what he said he was going to do as president, which was to be a transitional figure. I think a lot of Americans came away from not just the special counsel's report, but from his performance last night thinking, if this is where he is now, where is he going to be as a re-elected president in 2026? Many of us have seen relatives decline, and we know it happens the way Hemingway said, bankruptcy happens, slowly, and then very quickly.

WALLACE: Lulu, how damaging was both the special counsel's report and Biden's presser? Given all of that, are you still on board for five more years of Joe Biden?

LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO, JOURNALIST, "NEW YORK TIMES": So one of the things that no one has mentioned here is that in the special counsel's report, they said he was a well-meaning person who had memory issues. And I found that to be very compelling because you have now two potential candidates who have memory issues. One is, of course, Donald Trump, who is the kind of malapropisms and says things all the time that are not exactly correct. And then, of course, we've seen President Biden.

I've got to tell you, I think, of course, it was incredibly damaging. I think it was a really political hot potato for him. I think we're going to be discussing this all the time. And I also agree with Bret in this.

[10:05:00] I was sitting the other night in a coffee shop. There were two elderly men, probably about the president's age, and they were talking about how they felt that this was a real liability, and that they didn't think that he should run. I know that this isn't exactly a poll, but it is something that worries many, many Americans, and I think it's going to be something that he's going to have to face head on.

WALLACE: Reihan, it's interesting, political reporters, and some of the president's own people say, the way he's going to combat this is he's got to go out more on the campaign trail. He's got to engage more with people and reporters and more interviews to show that age isn't an issue. The problem is, the more he goes out in public, he keeps having problems. So how does he dig himself out of this?

REIHAN SALAM, CONTRIBUTING EDITOR, "NATIONAL REVIEW": This is extremely difficult. I don't envy him, and I don't envy the folks in his White House staff. He has one advantage, however, which is that when you're looking at his White House staff, when you look at his advisers, in many cases they are to his left. They are in a position that is less popular with the broad American public.

The perception that is problematic for him is the perception that he is not there, it's "Weekend at Bernie's," that he's essentially a kind of puppet. If he were to back away from trying to, for example, denounce Israel rather than Iran, if he were to take a position that's more firmly in line with the broad American public, if he were to embrace oil and gas and not say I'm going to shut off LNG exports, then he could demonstrate, hey, I might make a flub here or there, but I'm in charge, I'm a moderate, I'm with you, the broad American public.

WALLACE: So you're saying that if you liked his policies better that you wouldn't mind the fact that he's a well-meaning man with a serious memory problem?

SALAM: Honestly, what I'm saying is that, look, I'm not a huge fan of the incumbent president, period. But if he wants to win re-election, what he needs to do is demonstrate what people liked about him in the first place, the sense that he was not with the hard left of the Democratic Party. And I think his administration, the folks who some people believe are pulling the strings, are not where the broad American public is.

STEPHENS: I just think Democrats are in deep denial. He was barely at 40 percent. He was the most unpopular incumbent president this last month of any president in memory. That was before what happened on Thursday. If Democrats are really -- really have an opportunity now for one last time to say, is this the candidate we want to run in the election that we consider the most important of our lifetime because the stakes are so great --

KARA SWISHER, PODCAST HOST, "PIVOT" AND "ON": But he's got to be the one to do it, right? You can't just make someone who has gotten to this level, which is the president of the United States, to do it. So he's got to be persuaded by the people around him if he was going to do that. The second thing is, Trump is literally just as bad. He just screams

more enthusiastically. So he's an older person who seems more vibrant, but does almost similar things all the time, forgetting people, forgetting names, tripping over things. And this is something Biden has done for a long time, by the way.

STEPHENS: It's true, they hold Trump to lower standards.

SWISHER: That's correct, but they don't do that because he's the old man. He's like the old man shaking his fist on the lawn.

WALLACE: Forgive me, it's not the same.

SWISHER: Because he's president?

WALLACE: No, it's not the same because he makes more mistakes and he seems more compromised.

SWISHER: Makes more mistakes than Trump?



WALLACE: I'm not talking issues. I'm talking mental acuity. Just this week he talked about recent dealings with Mitterrand, who died in 1996. He talked about recent dealings with Helmut Kohl who left office as chancellor of Germany from 1998.

SWISHER: And Trump thought Nikki Haley was Nancy Pelosi. There's an equal amount with Trump. It's just he's enthusiastic and seems more vibrant. I'm sorry, they're both too old. They're both too old.

STEPHENS: I don't think we have an argument here. But the question is how it's perceived by a majority of Americans. And Trump seems in all of his mania, vigorous. And he seems -- he does.

SWISHER: A more vigorous person --

STEPHENS: That's just a reality that you see reflected in polls, much more serious doubts about Biden's ability to live out his term. He's going to be an 82-year-old incumbent. Just from an actuarial point of view, the chances that he will not live to see the end of the second term is real. And people should address this.

SALAM: And also in charge, and I think that that's another element. Trump might have his malapropisms as well, but there's no denying that he is firmly in charge of his campaign and his movement.

WALLACE: All right, take a look at this recent poll -- I want to throw one more element into this -- 76 percent say they have a major or moderate concern about whether Biden has the necessary mental and physical health for a second term, 76 percent, while 61 percent have major or moderate concern about Donald Trump facing multiple felony charges. Lulu, is Biden's age now a bigger political problem than Trump's indictments? GARCIA-NAVARRO: I don't mean to laugh, but this is what we're left



Is the man who is 81 and might die in office in a worse position than the man who is facing absolute legal jeopardy? I think at this point what we're faced with in America right now are options that nobody wants. I think what polls and what people will tell you is that both of these candidates are not ideal.

Trump, of course, has his base, it's about 25 percent, right, of the electorate who really feel very strongly that he is their man. But other than that, people want other types of options. And so what I think is going to happen here over time, if these are the two candidates, is that people are going to be voting on issues, less on the personalities of the presidents and the potential president and more on the issues and the parties.

STEPHENS: The tragedy of our time, I think, is that we've become an unserious country at a very serious moment in history. And it's really worrisome to think that this is the choice that Americans are presenting themselves with, because at the end of the day the Republicans are choosing Trump, the Democrats are choosing Biden. It's going to take an act of grace by the president to make that choice a different one.

WALLACE: Republicans on Capitol Hill have also seen better days. Up next, the infighting, the failed votes, and the embarrassing moments that have some questioning the future of the party's congressional leaders.

Then, parental precedent -- we'll explore the fallout from this week's conviction of a Michigan mother after her son shot and killed four classmates.

And later, forget the game, forget the teams, even forget Taylor Swift. Why her fans, the Swifties, may be the biggest focus of Super Bowl Sunday.

It's you. It's the Swifties, you're the focus.

SWISHER: You're a Swiftie.



WALLACE: On Capitol Hill, the usual squabbles between Republicans and Democrats were replaced this week by fights inside the GOP over measures they've wanted for years, fights that led to humiliating moments for the speaker of the House, and questions about the future of the longest serving leader in Senate history.


REP. LANCE GOODEN (R-TX): I was embarrassed for our conference, for our party.

WALLACE: The embarrassment starts in the House --

REP. TROY NEHLS (R-TX): We're not acting like we're the majority.

WALLACE: -- where in just a couple of hours Republicans tried and failed to impeach Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, and then couldn't come up with the votes to pass their own bill providing aid to Israel.

REP. MIKE JOHNSON (R-LA): It was a mess what happened here.

WALLACE: A mess, especially for Speaker Mike Johnson, who even chose the bad optics of announcing the defeat himself.

JOHNSON: The resolution is not adopted.

WALLACE: Over in the Senate, the disarray is about a bill to crack down on illegal immigration. Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell assigned one of his most conservative members, James Lankford, to spend months getting bipartisan support for a Republican wish list. But at the last minute it was blocked by Republicans.

SEN. JAMES LANKFORD (R-OK): Americans are ticked off that this is not resolved, and they expect us to get things done.

WALLACE: Now there are questions whether McConnell, long known as a master of the Senate, has lost his once powerful grip on his own conference.

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): We have no real chance here to make a law.


WALLACE: Kara, let's start in the House. Why does Speaker Johnson keep getting embarrassed?

SWISHER: Well, he doesn't even have the excuse of dementia. He's just demented and incompetent. He just can't count. I'm really not clear why he didn't know this was going to happen and why he put it up for vote when he knew it wasn't going to happen, unless he didn't know. And then that means he's incompetent.

WALLACE: Nancy Pelosi, the long-time speaker, had a saying. You don't go to the floor unless you've got the votes.

SWISHER: And she said it last week, too.

WALLACE: You mean rubbing it in.

SWISHER: Yes, rubbing it in.

STEPHENS: He's the beneficiary of what was imposed on Kevin McCarthy, which McCarthy humiliatingly accepted. And so you have a diminished office of the speaker, along with a tiny, tiny majority. So tiny Johnson couldn't get his bills passed.

WALLACE: That's what I was going to ask. Is it fair to blame it on the speaker, or is it really that nobody could govern or handle this razor thin majority?

STEPHENS: I think if Nancy Pelosi were in charge with a one seat majority, she would make it happen. But the real problem is the rules imposed on the speaker and the ease with which a handful of Republican dissenters -- maybe that's too nice of a word for them -- can cripple a speakership. And they proved they were willing to do it many times over with McCarthy, with all of his potential successors. They'll do it again with Johnson. Their goal is a kind of an anarchy, not governance.

WALLACE: Let's turn to the Senate where Mitch McConnell, somebody who has covered this town a long time, has long been regarded as a legislative mastermind and complete iron control, sort of the Nancy Pelosi of the Senate, complete control of the Senate, which is in some respects more complicated parliamentary. Lulu, when you look at the debacle over the border bill, which he was all for and he sent Lankford out for months to negotiate, and then the rug got pulled out, is McConnell losing his touch?

GARCIA-NAVARRO: If you mean, is he losing his touch because he's out of touch with his party, then yes. It is astonishing with the record of Mitch McConnell, if you are a Republican, you would look at that record and you would say that he is someone who has really been the standard bearer, has delivered to the Republican Party many of the priorities that they wanted. And now what we're seeing is that they are eating their own.


You do not see the Democrats looking at Nancy Pelosi and throwing her under the bus. You do not see the Democrats undermining their former leaders and their present leaders. You are seeing the Republicans just absolutely destroy their own party.

WALLACE: Reihan, do you think that McConnell has lost his grip on the Senate Republicans? And do you think his position -- he's the longest serving leader of a party, either in the minority or the majority in history. Do you think that his position as leader is in jeopardy the next time they have an election, which is after the November elections?

SALAM: Well, I think it's been clear for some time that Leader McConnell is not going to be in place forever. He has commanded a lot of respect and appreciation, partly because he's been a prolific fundraiser. He's someone who even, some of the more obstreperous members of the Senate Republican Conference has been loyal to him for that reason.

But I think that this was a big misstep, that is appointing Senator Lankford, who has many virtues, but Senator Lankford is someone who is conservative on a great many issues, but he was known as one of the more dovish senators on the immigration file. The wiser move in my view would have been to have someone who anchors the rightward end of the party who would have more credibility on the issue. If you had Senator Cotton, for example, who gave buy-in to the deal, then you would have had a different outcome. So I think that this was a miscalculation by Leader McConnell.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: That's not true. That's not true. I mean, the problem that you see right now with Mitch McConnell is that you have Donald Trump --

SALAM: Sorry, it's not true that Lankford is someone who is not necessarily trusted in the center of the party?

GARCIA-NAVARRO: No, what I'm saying is that it would have had a different outcome. I do not believe it would have had a different outcome.

SALAM: -- in not having a deal, right?

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Let me just finish my thought. Mitch McConnell is someone who right now is being excoriated by Donald Trump, by the members of that side of the party. He is being vilified.

SALAM: That's not new, to be clear.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: That's not new, but they are smelling more blood in the water, and what you are seeing is that he has a time -- an expiry date on him.

STEPHENS: I think there are two issues, one of which is the Republican Party that is a party is failing because the Republican Party that is a cult is succeeding. And those are the two wings.

But the second issue, not to go back to what we were talking about last time, but it's an age issue. And this is coming up again. McConnell is old. I recently heard a recording of Richard Nixon talking to someone on the phone, and Nixon's view is if you're not in the Congress by the time you're in your 30s, you're going to be useless, you're never going to achieve seniority. Anyone over 70 is essentially out to pasture. Granted, this was 50 years ago. There's been some more longevity. But the point still holds. He is a leader who visibly lacks vigor, lacks health, and people notice it, and they circle his chair the way sharks circle a raft.

WALLACE: I want to talk about the actual issue of the border and the politics of it, because as soon as the border deal went down, Joe Biden, who gets terrible numbers for his handling of immigration, started pointing fingers. Take a look.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Every day between now and November, the American people are going to know that the only reason the border is not secure is Donald Trump and his MAGA Republican friends.

(END VIDEO CLIP) WALLACE: But look at these numbers. Since Biden has been president, there have been more than 7 million encounters at the southern border. At the same point in the Trump presidency, there had been less than 2 million. Kara, can Biden succeed in shifting blame for immigration because of the blowup of this bill when his record is much worse than Donald Trump's over the course of his presidency?

SWISHER: He can try. That's the thing you would do, right? Wouldn't you do that if you see this huge scale disaster in terms of Republicans saying they wanted something and then obviously it feeling political? He can try. It's going to be the biggest issue in the campaign. It's edging out abortion, which I think was a strong issue for Democrats. So I think he's got to do things like this.

WALLACE: Quickly, Reihan, do you think that Biden can successfully make immigration either a wash or somehow pin it on the Republicans?

SALAM: I think it's his best shot, but I don't think it's going to pan out.

WALLACE: OK, that was brief.

Up next, the jury verdict that could have a lasting impact on how parents deal with their troubled children.

And did President Biden fumble the ball on an opportunity to reach millions of people without spending a dime?



WALLACE: This week's conviction of a Michigan mother for involuntary manslaughter marks the first time the parent of a school shooter has been found directly responsible for the crime. Jennifer Crumbley was found guilty for her son Ethan's actions when he killed four of his classmates and wounded seven others at Oxford High School in 2021. As is often the case, there were signs something was wrong with Ethan Crumbley, signs his mother didn't act on. This gets us to the responsibility parents have, including legal responsibility to stop their child from committing a terrible crime.

So, Lulu, do you think the Crumbley conviction will make parents more vigilant about troubled children? Do you think it should make them more vigilant about troubled children?

GARCIA-NAVARRO: It should. But I think we're debating the sort of outcome of the crime and not really the cause, which is guns. So leaving that aside, I do think parents have a responsibility, if you are going to have a child in your house who is disturbed, you need to make sure that, first of all, you don't give that child a gun. And secondly, if there are weapons in the house and you think your child is disturbed, you need to take action. I mean, the school told that family that there were problems, and they decided to leave their child in the school where that person committed that terrible, terrible crime. WALLACE: Bret, when should parents -- or should parents be held

responsible for, as in this case? And did Jennifer Crumbley get justice?


STEPHENS: No, she didn't. Look, I think it's pretty clear these were very crummy, terrible parents of a very disturbed child in a horrible tragedy. Read the book "We Need to Talk about Kevin," turned into a movie with Tilda Swinton. I'm sure Jennifer Crumbley is going to be living with horrific guilt for the rest of her life, whether it's in jail or not.

But the question of justice is very different. My colleague Megan Stack made what I thought was a very important point, which is that Ethan Crumbley was tried as an adult and put away for life. But the mother is being tried on the grounds that Ethan Crumbley was a child. So which one is it? If you're going to try Ethan as an adult, then you have to treat him legally that way. I don't think this is going to have much of a deterrent effect, but many parents will struggle with children who go through phases, and then they end up just as phases. They have difficult teenage lives and then emerge from it. In a handful of cases it turns into horrific tragedies. But those cases should not be turned into legal precedents.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: But that wasn't what happened in this particular case. In this particular case what really was an issue was how the gun was provided to the disturbed child and the negligence with which that was treated, and all the signs that were there that the child was disturbed. And so that's why I bring the actual gun issue. This isn't about -- yes, there is, of course, a limited amount sometimes that parents can do when their children are suffering and in pain and act out. But the issue here is the weapon, and how it was provided.

SALAM: I suggest that there's another issue, which is the unwillingness to punish until it's too late. You all may have heard of the term called the school to prison pipeline. We've had a decade-and- a-half in which people have been incredibly anxious about expelling students, removing students who are disruptive, who are violent, who represent a threat to other students, and saying we're going to put a stop to it. We need to take more seriously crime and disruption at every level. Sometimes that's going to mean actually punishing and suspending students. And also, it's going to mean punishing gun crimes, seeing to it that prosecutors have the resources they need, law enforcement has the resources they need to take care of it.

SWISHER: This is the episode of "Minority Report" we're talking about. We didn't know what he was going to do until he did it. And now we have to deal with the repercussions of that.

SALAM: Kara, I urge you to talk to a lot of public school teachers and administrators who feel as though they're under a microscope and cannot deal with violence --

SWISHER: The school did tell the parents precisely that. I think it's a case of very bad parents who provided their kid with a gun. (CROSS TALK)

STEPHENS: This is a question for the two of you --

WALLACE: Excuse me. I want to bring up -- because I don't think this is as much of an outlier as you all are portraying it. It certainly is an extreme example, but let's look at some of the worst school shootings. Columbine in 1999, the two shooters, the kids, had arsenals of guns and bombs in their family homes. Uvalde in 2022, the shooter had a cache of guns and ammunition. Some of his classmates were calling him school shooter. So Kara, I've got to say, I'm OK if parents have to worry -- if this is going to make them take it more seriously, have to worry they may end up in jail them.

SWISHER: The very parents that do worry are the ones that it doesn't happen.

WALLACE: Right, exactly. So if they don't worry, they should get punished.

SWISHER: I think this woman should have gotten punished. And I think she --

WALLACE: I think maybe more should have.

WALLACE: And the father should, also, by the way. It's not just the mother. He's going to be tried. And we'll see what happens. I assume it's the same. I don't think they shouldn't have gotten punished, but I think schools do warn these parents, and these parents didn't do anything about it. In this case, they did, the school apparently tried quite hard to tell them what the problem was, and then allowed that kid to stay there with a gun in his backpack and never searched him.

SALAM: Just to be clear, expulsion is a tool that should be used more often. And I think that there are a lot of teachers and administrators who are anxious about it and who feel like they're unable to take that step.

WALLACE: How do you feel, Reihan, about the idea of holding parents legally responsible, more legally responsible than they have up to this point? The fact that there have been hundreds of school shootings, and this is the first time a parent has ever been held criminally responsible?

SALAM: I think it is a wise idea, and I think there's a wider range of juvenile crimes where this precedent can be very relevant and helpful in ensuring that people keep a watchful eye and try to ensure the safety not just of their own children, but of others as well.

STEPHENS: I think this is going to have perverse consequences and cases like these are a bad basis for making law.

WALLACE: Why perverse?

STEPHENS: Because a lot of family situations are ambiguous, a lot of parents don't have full information even when they're trying to be good parents about who their kids are hanging out with, what it is that they're doing. And we're going to end up committing as a society travesties of justice by punishing parents for the sins of their children. I'm sorry, but they're separate.


WALLACE: All right, on a much happier note, up next, getting set for a Super Bowl Sunday, from something you won't see, thanks to President Biden, to something you will see a lot, thanks to Taylor Swift. And we're not talking about reaction shots of the pop superstar.


WALLACE: This is the time in the show when we usually ask our group if they are yea or nay on some big talkers, but in honor of tomorrow's Super Bowl, we're polling the panel on whether key moments of Super Sunday will be touchdowns or fumbles.

Let's kick off with President Biden bucking a Super Bowl tradition again, turning down an invitation from CBS for a pregame interview. It's a curious decision in an election year, foregoing the chance to reach a massive audience. More than 8 million people watched Biden's last pre-Super Bowl interview in 2022.


So Lulu, is Biden fumbling the ball by punting on a pregame interview?

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Yes. That's it, yes. There's no other answer to that but yes. And now looking at what's happened, wouldn't it be good if he could sit down with an interview and it would have been cogent and he would have seen forceful, and then perhaps that might have actually helped the situation he finds himself in now? It is always good to talk to the press. That is my position.

WALLACE: So Bret, Biden turned down the interview last year, but FOX was carrying the game, which meant that it would have been a FOX News interviewer, and you can understand that they might have been somewhat wary of that. But how do you explain to me that Biden turns down an interview by a CBS News anchor that's going to get millions of viewers? He didn't know he was going to be in the political fix he's in, but he's running for re-election.

STEPHENS: I mean, I think maybe we were spared remembrances of his conversations with the current prime minister of Britain, Margaret Thatcher and Benjamin Disraeli, another good friend of his. Who knows? It might have been Gorbachev, and --

WALLACE: Wait, wait, go ahead, Kara.

STEPHENS: This is the thing, this gets back to what Reihan said, which is he's caught between a rock and a hard place. If he gives the interview, he makes mistakes, and he's going to get --

WALLACE: He's going to very --

STEPHENS: And if he doesn't give the interview, people draw their conclusions.

WALLACE: Next up, legendary pop star Usher headlines the halftime show. In 2009, billboard ranked him one of the music industry's biggest artists, but Usher hasn't had too many hits for a while. Kara, will Usher be a touchdown or a fumble, not as an artist, but as a big- time halftime draw?

SWISHER: I was not interested. I would have, again, picked Sousa (ph), Dua Lipa, Doja Cat. There's so many great artists I would have had rather --

WALLACE: So what's wrong with Usher?

SWISHER: OK, sure.

WALLACE: Churning butter?


SCHLICHTER: Yes, churning butter. He's fine. He's great. He's a great artist.

WALLACE: Reihan, are we being unfair to Usher as an artist and as a draw?

SALAM: Yes. I will say I will lament as a member of Generation X that millennials are the new Boomers. They are the big consumers. They are the massive generation reshaping our culture. And Usher is so beloved by millennials not just for his album "Confessions", his unique --

WALLACE: Stop showing off, OK?

SALAM: But also, for the fact that he's also someone who has been a great mentor to a generation of younger artists. He is beloved by that generation, and he is a perfect pick.

WALLACE: Our final play, you'll notice a change in this year's commercials thanks to Taylor Swift. The Budweiser Clydesdales are being joined by beauty brands, willing to pony up $7 million for a 30- second ad to target Swifties, who are new to the Super Bowl audience. Here is one ad you don't usually see during a football game.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That's suspicious. That's weird.


WALLACE: So, Reihan, tumble -- touchdown or fumble, or tumble, to have a lip gloss ad during the Super Bowl.

SALAM: You know what, I've struggled with this one, and I think it's probably a touchdown for this reason. Women make the purchasing decisions, they're the ones who spend, they're the ones -- they call it the pink pound on the other side of the Atlantic. I that think this is smart because, yes, they're the ones who are the big consumers. WALLACE: Lulu?

GARCIA-NAVARRO: You wanted to jump in? It's about lip gloss.

STEPHENS: That ad was awesome.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: It was an awesome ad. And this is the thing, is this 1952, or are we in like 2024? Women have purchasing power. We like sports. Oh, my goodness, it's not just men who watch TV and watch football. Yes, it's good.

WALLACE: Up next, a lesson in how to actually interview a dictator.



WALLACE: Now for another edition of "Tell Me Why I'm Wrong". Tucker Carlson showed up in Moscow this week to interview Vladimir Putin. It turned out to be anything but an interview. Putin droned on for two hours and seven minutes while Tucker sat there like an eager puppy. Occasionally, but rarely, he got in a question, like this one about the power of the deep state in Washington.


TUCKER CARLSON: It sounds like you're describing a system that's not run by the people who are elected in your telling?

VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): That's right, that's right.


WALLACE: But more telling than what Tucker asked is what he didn't ask. Nothing about why Putin invaded a sovereign country, nothing about targeting civilians, nothing about Russian war crimes. A reporter can ask Putin a tough question if he wants a real interview.


WALLACE: Why is it that so many of the people that oppose Vladimir Putin end up dead or close to it?


WALLACE: But apparently that's not why Tucker went to Moscow. During the Cold War, gullible westerners who spread Soviet propaganda were dismissed as useful idiots. But calling Tucker that is unfair to useful idiots. He's made a cynical decision to chase MAGA's affection for dictators, and what better way to cash in than Putin's Kremlin.


All right, Bret, tell me why I'm wrong. STEPHENS: You are not wrong. You are not wrong. And any of us who have

had opportunities to interview bad guys, and as we should, ask tough questions and hold them at least to a moment in a spotlight to which they are not accustomed. And what you saw there, I think I mentioned this to you, you're looking at the Tokyo Rose of our day, basically broadcasting fascist propaganda to a credulous people in the west who are eager to buy into the mythology of Putin as a champion of the Nordic races against their enemies, and as an enemy of wokeness. It's one of the most disgraceful -- to call it a journalistic performance is wrong because he's not a journalist. I don't even think it was a performance. It was just simply being a scribe to one of the most vicious dictators of our time.

SWISHER: Also, he did sit there -- that was astonishing -- for that half-hour allowing Putin to go on about the history. It just wasn't even very good. It was like watching someone who can't play a sport just fumble over and over again as an interviewer.

WALLACE: So what do you think Tucker was up to in Moscow?

SWISHER: I don't know. I don't know that he was doing --

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Rehabilitating himself, trying to make himself relevant.

SWISHER: Getting attention for himself because he's washed up, I guess. I guess that's how I would put it. He was trying to get attention for himself and make himself relevant, and I can score this interview. And the reason he scored this interview is because he's a lapdog.

SALAM: I'm surprised you didn't mention, though, the fact that he did ask some questions about Evan Gershkovich --

SWISHER: Come on. He had to.

SALAM: "The Wall Street Journal" reporter who has been detained. And he was forceful about it, he pressed the issue.

WALLACE: I wouldn't say --


WALLACE: He wasn't forceful about it. And secondly, he said, well, maybe he took -- he was a spy, maybe he took some information. And "The Wall Street Journal" said, no, he's a journalist, which Tucker Carlson isn't.

STEPHENS: My proudest achievement, the one thing I have on my wall, is that I was banned for life from Russia. And I think we should have more journalists who are in that category rather than in this one.

WALLACE: The panel is back with their takes on big stories or predictions of what will make news before it's in the news. That's right after the break.



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

STEPHENS: A number of lawyers have told me I'm dead wrong, so this is why I'm going to go with this. I think not only is Trump going to easily win the case of being on the ballot in Colorado, that's the way it seemed from the court, I think the court is also going to take up the immunity case, which is the more significant case, because it involves a court case against him. And I think he's going to win that by a five to four decision. And I would be happy to be proved wrong.

WALLACE: Wow, that is a big best shot.

Kara, you're focused on a big deal this week in the world of sports media.

SWISHER: I'm going to take the other side of the bet, nine-zero on that one.

WALLACE: Against immune?

SWISHER: Yes, I'm going to take the bet against you, against immunity.

There's a deal between Disney, Warner, and FOX around a sports streaming service. Really important that these companies get together because they're fighting enormously powerful tech companies that are going to try to dominate streaming. And so it's really important that they assert themselves and offer, finally, a version of these streaming services where they can actually work together and make a real business out of it. It's so expensive to do this and it was important that they do this.

WALLACE: It may mean, there was even talk this week about a pay-per- view Super Bowl.

SWISHER: That's the way it's going. That's the way it's going.

WALLACE: Churning butter.

Reihan, best shot.

SALAM: As Joe Biden struggles, Democrats are panicking and looking for plan b. As they look for plan b, one name that's coming up again and again is the governor of the keystone state, a state that's going to be absolutely essential to winning the next presidential election, Josh Shapiro. He's been an absolute stalwart when it comes to the war in Israel. He's someone who is very much a forceful moderate within the party, and someone who really is a rising star and who could help right the ship if Joe Biden were to recognize that his time has come.

WALLACE: I was going to ask you, what do you think are the chances, realistically, that do you think are the changes that Joe Biden either voluntarily or force majeure is not the nominee of the party and somebody else is?

SALAM: It's really the latter scenario, that is that something happens, something unexpected might happen because I think that he's very invested in the idea of re-election. But I sure do think that there are a lot of folks behind the scenes who are thinking hard about who could step in. Phil Murphy is another possibility --

WALLACE: New Jersey governor.

SALAM: Exactly, the governor of New Jersey. The governor of Illinois, those are folks who are people that could step in quickly because of their vast personal financial resources. But Shapiro is someone who would give Donald Trump a run for his money.

WALLACE: Lulu, Tuesday is Valentine's Day.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: That's why I'm wearing pink and red.


WALLACE: I didn't get that. What's your best shot?

SWISHER: You didn't get it?

GARCIA-NAVARRO: You didn't get it?

WALLACE: I didn't think that.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: First of all, happy Valentine's Day. Secondly, I found this very depressing story about good-bye pies. Pizza Hut has started this Valentine's Day promotion in which if you want to say good-bye to the person that you don't want to spend Valentine's Day with, you send them a pizza pie, and with it they give you a version of why you don't want to be with them anymore. And the reason they decided to do this is because actually 40 percent of people break up with their significant other before Valentine's Day.

WALLACE: Wow, pizza pie.


WALLACE: Gang, thank you all for being here on that really bad note. Thank you for spending part of you day with us, and we'll see you right back here next weeks.