Return to Transcripts main page
Fareed Zakaria GPS
Russians Rally For Jailed Putin Critic Alexei Navalny; Interview With John Kerry, Special Presidential Envoy For Climate. Aired 10-11a ET
Aired January 31, 2021 - 10:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
DANA BASH, CNN ANCHOR: Jake is going to be back in this chair next Sunday so please tune in.
Thank you so much for spending your Sunday morning with us. The news continues right now.
FAREED ZAKARIA, CNN ANCHOR: -- the GLOBAL PUBLIC SQUARE. Welcome to all of you in the United States and around the world. I'm Fareed Zakaria coming to you live from Washington, D.C.
ZAKARIA (voice-over): Today on the show, in 10 days we've gone from a climate change denier in the Oval Office to this.
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We've already waited too long to deal with this climate crisis. We can't wait any longer. We see it with our own eyes. We feel it. We know it in our bones.
ZAKARIA: I'll talk about Biden's decision to put the climate crisis at the center of American foreign policy with John Kerry, his special envoy for climate.
JOHN KERRY, SPECIAL PRESIDENTIAL ENVOY FOR CLIMATE: No one nation can do this alone.
ZAKARIA: Also, there is anger on the streets of Russia. From St. Petersburg to Moscow, from Vladivostok, and many places in between. And it is directed right at President Putin.
Should he fear the movement that's rising around Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny? I'll ask the experts.
Finally, I will give you a preview of my latest documentary, which premieres tonight. "THE DIVIDED STATES OF AMERICA, WHAT IS TEARING US APART?" In it I explore the existential crisis America finds itself in today and how we got here.
TOM FRIEDMAN, COLUMNIST, NEW YORK TIMES: When we cannot agree on what is true, when we cannot agree on the basic facts that politics should be about, you cannot have a functioning democracy.
ZAKARIA: Tune in at 9:00 p.m. Eastern on CNN and CNN International.
ZAKARIA: But first here's my take. We can all now see the outlines of a post-pandemic world. With vaccinations ramping up in the U.S. and Britain, with Israel and the UAE racing toward herd immunity, it's easy to damage that a return to normalcy is just on the horizon. The only question seems to be, how long will it take?
But we might be seeing a false dawn. Despite the amazing progress we've made with vaccines, the truth is that our current trajectory virtually guarantees that we will never really defeat the coronavirus. It will stay alive and keep mutating and surging across the globe. Years from now, countries could be facing new outbreaks that will force hard choices between new lockdowns or new waves of disease and death.
The basic problem is in how the vaccine is being distributed around the world, not based on where there is the most need, but the most money. The richest countries have paid for hundreds of millions of doses, often far in excess of what they actually need. Canada, for example, has preordered enough to cover its 38 million residents five times over. Meanwhile, Nigeria's 200 million people have not received a single dose of the vaccine.
Rich countries make up 16 percent of the world's population. Yet they have secured nearly 60 percent of the world's vaccine supply. In a recent "Foreign Affairs" article, Thomas Bollyky and Chad Bown pointed out Australia, Canada and Japan have less than 1 percent of the world's coronavirus cases, but they have locked up more doses of potential vaccines than all of Latin America and the Caribbean, a region with more than 17 percent of global coronavirus cases.
Even though several African countries have been used for vaccine trials, almost no Sub-Saharan nation has received vaccines in any significant quantity, while more than 40 million doses have already been administered in rich countries. And Duke University researchers say many developing countries will not be fully vaccinated until 2024, which means that the virus will have years to spread and mutate.
In their annual letter Bill and Melinda Gates note that low and middle-income countries will be able to vaccinate only one out of every five people over the next year. Like it or not, we're all in this together, they say.
The problem goes well beyond public health. The International Chamber of Commerce has released a study showing that this lopsided vaccination of the world will cause global economic losses between $1.5 trillion and $9 trillion, of which half could be borne by the richest countries in the world.
Looking at data from 35 industries and 65 countries, the study concluded that the world economy is so interconnected that having large areas still suffering from COVID-19 would produce bottlenecks, frictions and loss of demand that would affect everyone everywhere. Another study estimates that rich countries would get back $5 in economic output for every dollar they invest in vaccines for the developing world.
Despite these realities, vaccine nationalism is actually rising as slow supplies and bureaucratic delays in rich countries have caused politicians to demand speedy action for their populations. European nations are threatening to restrict exports of vaccines and to take legal action against AstraZeneca because of suspicions that it has prioritized delivering vaccines to Britain over E.U. companies, which, by the way, the company denies.
Dozens of countries have also restricted exports of medical supplies, which will seriously hamper efforts to eradicate COVID-19 worldwide.
Now, let me be clear. It is entirely understandable that rich countries want to vaccinate their own populations first. But there is a way to act rationally and sensibly without hoarding vaccines and to make policy that will ensure that the disease is eradicated faster everywhere. Bollyky and Bown lay out an excellent plan in "Foreign Affairs." They argue that Washington should use the lessons from Operation Warp Speed to ramp up production and distribution of the vaccine worldwide.
Washington could build the same kind of international coalition that it did to tackle AIDS in Africa. There is now a global vaccination effort to help developing countries COVAX which provides a powerful framework for action. Donald Trump refused to join this effort despite the participation of over 118 nations. But Biden has reversed that decision.
He could go further, using it as a platform to demonstrate America's unique capacity to bring countries together around a common problem, to help raise the resources needed and thus to solve the most pressing problem facing the world today.
Go to CNN.com/fareed for a link to my "Washington Post" column this week and let's get started.
We're going to start with the extraordinary events in Russia. For the second weekend in a row, Russians have come out in a rather extraordinary way to express their support for the jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny and their dissatisfaction with President Putin. Today protests were planned in over 127 cities across all 11 of Russia's time zones and marchers came out in force, chanting slogans like "Putin is a thief."
They were met with a massive police response. A watchdog group says more than 3,500 people have already been detained among those CNN correspondents Fred Pleitgen who was later released and Navalny's wife who is still detained as far as we know.
Julia Ioffe and Alexander Gabuev join me. Gabuev is a senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment's Moscow Center and Julia is a Russian-born journalist, currently a correspondent for "GQ."
Mr. Gabuev, let me ask you. If you can simply explain to us what are these protests about.
ALEXANDER GABUEV, SENIOR FELLOW, CARNEGIE MOSCOW CENTER: First, they are about Alexei Navalny and the investigation that he has done into Putin's wealth and Putin's secret palace, but also they are a tip of a larger bay of discontent with declining incomes. Russian disposable incomes have decreased 10 percent compared to 2015, the pandemic and the economic recession.
ZAKARIA: If you saw the video of the palace, I should say we are required to point out that the Russian government, President Putin, denies that that is his palace. Nobody knows whose it is then.
Julia, explain what Navalny has been able to do. He's built an extraordinary political infrastructure, but almost a kind of media network of his own on YouTube, right?
JULIA IOFFE, CORRESPONDENT, GQ: That's correct. He was blacklisted from state media, which has the widest reach in the country, and I think he wasn't fully satisfied with the way opposition and independent journalists were covering him, so he built his own. He also -- you know, and it's on YouTube, which is now one of the primary ways that people can cut the cord to state TV and watch independent content.
We've seen that the video that he produced about the palace has been seen over 100 million times. The population of Russia is 143 million. We don't know that all those views are unique views and inside Russia, but it's still a stunning figure.
He has also built something a political organization that Americans would recognize. He has offices and staff around the country in cities large and small. In 2018 when he was running for president knowing that he would not be allowed on the ballot, he used the opportunity to (INAUDIBLE), to meet with volunteers, to meet with fans and supporters, for his people to train people all around the country in how to investigate corruption and how to get people to the polls and how to monitor elections.
And he created a kind of personal connection with millions of voters around -- millions of Russians that Vladimir Putin, who doesn't really, you know, ever come down from Mount Olympus really have with his people.
ZAKARIA: Alexander, so what -- tell us what the Russian state's reaction has been and what happens if they just jail Navalny indefinitely?
GABUEV: I think that the Russian state is trying to create a very delicate balance between repression and overreaction because they see the risks that the overreaction and police brutality and torture has created in neighboring Belarus last summer. So they are raising the stakes and increasing the cost for participation in street protests that's not something unfamiliar to us. We've seen a decade of protest in Putin Russia following the global credit crunch. The numbers of protests are increasing. They are both Navalny-led and
connected to local issues and the state tactic has been increasing the cost and starting to unpack a very vast tool kit of intimidation and repression. That's exactly what we are observing over the course of the last two weeks.
And unfortunately, Mr. Navalny's problem is that because of this very high cost that the state has put for a protest, it's very difficult to translate millions of viewers into millions of people on the street. So last week we've seen an optimistic figure would tell you about 40,000 people on the streets in Moscow. That's a large number but not for (INAUDIBLE) so it could make a big difference.
Unfortunately, now the trend point to the fact that Mr. Navalny will be imprisoned and, yes, it will cause a new spike in protest, but it's very unlikely that it will change the Kremlin's decision or Mr. Navalny's fate.
ZAKARIA: Julia, very briefly, Navalny is unique, right? I mean, he's very charismatic. He's funny on those YouTube videos. It would be a serious blow if he were not part of this movement.
IOFFE: I think it would be a serious blow. It would -- it remains to be seen if the infrastructure he's built can continue working without him. But Mr. Gabuev is completely right that, you know, the state has infinite resources and all it has to do is wait the protest out or crush them and intimidate anybody else who is thinking of protesting.
For the state, you know, this is an existential question. Navalny is not proposing reforms around the existing system. He wants to tear the system down and build a new one. And obviously if you're the system, which includes the riot cops beating up protesters with truncheons, it's an existential crisis and I think Putin will pursue it to the bitter end.
ZAKARIA: Stay with us. Next on GPS, the U.S. secretary of State and the Russian foreign minister have been sparring on social media this morning over these protests. I will ask our guests what they make of those responses when we come back.
ZAKARIA: As the world witnessed a heavy-handed police crackdown against protesters across Russia today, the U.S. Secretary of State Tony Blinken condemned the use of harsh tactics and called for the release of the Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny. In response, the Russian Foreign Ministry said, "We demand an end to interference in the internal affairs of sovereign states."
We are back with Julia Ioffe and Alexander Gabuev talking about today's protests.
Alexander, the last time there were serious protests in Russia after the Arab spring and Hillary Clinton, then secretary of State, supported them or made similar noises of encouragement, Putin was enraged and U.S. intelligence believes that is part of the rage that Putin had that caused him to interfere in the 2016 elections.
Is this a parallel? And is the Kremlin presenting Navalny as some kind of an American puppet or a CIA tool?
GABUEV: Absolutely. So, Fareed, Mr. Putin has said it in public that Mr. Navalny is assisted by Western intelligence and that a lot of information which is allegedly false has been given to him by Western intelligence services. So it's a very familiar trove and trick of the Kremlin to castigate its opponents as the fifth column supported by the vast forces that are seeking regime change and call a revolution in seeking to ultimately topple Mr. Putin.
And by the way, these tactics work. Polls time and again show that considerable part of the Russian society is convinced and is binding to this narrative.
ZAKARIA: Julia, you mentioned that this was existential for the regime. But the regime also has supporters. And is it fair to say that -- I mean, things could get quite nasty. You could end up with almost a kind of civil war because the two sides really now have maximalist goals.
IOFFE: Yes. And we saw this morning a cop in St. Petersburg pull his gun on protesters, which seemed, you know, an escalation that we haven't seen before in these protests and hopefully not a eerie portend of things to come.
But I do want to say to your previous question, Mr. Gabuev is absolutely right. The thing is, though, that the Kremlin would paint Navalny and has painted Navalny to be an American stooge, whether Washington says anything or not. You know, during the four years of the Trump presidency when Trump and his administration did absolutely nothing to support Navalny or to call for democracy and an end to corruption in Russia, they were still calling Navalny an American stooge.
So in some ways it doesn't really matter what the Americans say. It's not really going to change anything in Russia and it's not going to change how they smear Navalny and his supporters at home.
ZAKARIA: Alexander, just a final quick thought. The back of all this, as you pointed out when we started, is declining economic conditions in Russia. And I presume that at the heart of that is the Kremlin's dependence on oil revenues and the Western sanctions.
GABUEV: I think that the sanctions don't matter that much. Yes, they're taking an economic toll on Russia, about half percent of GDP. Growth ratio is not happening because of the sanctions. But at the heart of that is really oil revenue and the Sooner -- the technological revolution happens that will send the oil price in a knockdown for years. That will be the ultimate blow to the Kremlin's ability to run the country. And at the same time right now, the Kremlin is presiding over half a
trillion U.S. dollars in reserves, so it has a lot of currency and a lot of steam to kick the can down the road for a number of years now.
ZAKARIA: Thank you both. Fascinating conversation. We will definitely come back to you as we watch this story.
Next on GPS, we will go to that technological green revolution and whether and when it can happen. An exclusive interview with John Kerry, President Biden's climate envoy.
ZAKARIA: Donald Trump called climate change a hoax, pulled America out of the Paris Climate Agreement and rolled back some 100 environmental rules and regulations. Shortly after his inauguration, President Biden signed an executive order to re-join the Paris agreement. And this past Wednesday, Biden signed an order mandating among many other things that the entire government get behind the fight against climate change.
He also makes the climate crisis a central consideration in American foreign policy. And central to that strategy is the appointment of the former Secretary of State, John Kerry, as the Special Presidential Envoy for Climate with a seat in the cabinet and on the National Security Council. John Kerry joins me now.
Welcome, Secretary Kerry.
JOHN KERRY, SPECIAL PRESIDENTIAL ENVOY FOR CLIMATE: Glad to be with you. Thank you, Fareed, for inviting me.
ZAKARIA: So let me first ask you, do you think that we have the time to actually ramp up not just rejoin Paris, but to do more because as you know, many climate scientists believe that the 2050 goals are just too inadequate now for the challenges we face?
KERRY: Well, the goals thus far have been inadequate, the goal out of Paris. The goal of achieving a 1.5 degree limitation on the rise of Earth's temperature is absolutely the appropriate goal. But the current promises of countries through the Paris Agreement are insufficient to get the job done.
But you asked do we have time to be able to do it? Yes. Scientists, three years ago, said we have about 12 years within which to make the decisions that would avoid the worst consequences of climate crisis. We've used up three of those years without the Trump administration doing anything, in fact, working against those efforts.
So now we have nine years within which we have to make key decisions and actually less, because obviously you can't make all of those decisions in the last two years. You have to start making them now.
So this is the year. We have a huge conference and negotiation in Glasgow at the end of the year in November. And we have nine months now within which to raise the ambition of countries all around the world and that's what we're setting out to do. And the President has made a very bold, very visionary program to bring every agency of government to this task.
ZAKARIA: Now, in order to do it even to send a signal to the world, most experts believe the important thing is that the United States get its house in order. And to really tackle the climate crisis and to really take on the -- because carbon is produced in so many different ways, in cement, in steel, in plastics, it's much more than just the burning of fuel for transport, you need a carbon tax.
Do you think that the United States could do that? It's the simplest price signal that will change the - slowly but surely change the economy, can we do it?
KERRY: Well, we could do it, I think. I mean, theoretically, yes, it is one option of many things we're going to have to consider and may wind up doing. There are many people who make the point that - and I personally accept it that that is one of the most significant bold steps you can take to actually have an impact in a rapid way. And I believe there are ways to do that and make it very progressive to protect people who have to drive long distances, to get to work, do things like that.
There are ways to cushion any negative impacts on it. But, here's the but, we really need to do a great deal more than that. General Motors just announced that they are going to be moving to pure electric cars, nothing but electric in 15 years. A lot of European motor manufacturers have made the similar kind of announcement, and I think that is the trend. People are going to move to electric cars, which means you're going to have to produce more electricity, ultimately, but there are ways to do that clean.
So this is all achievable and I think the important point, Fareed, for people to really focus on is it's a very exciting economic transition. It's a job creating transition. There are just going to be millions of jobs created with new products coming online, innovation that takes place, technology advances that will help us do things that we may not be able to do today, but it will happen because the demand is there and that demand is going to have a huge change in the kinds of things, the kind of work that is available to people.
Nobody is going to be told they have to go do that. They're not going to be ordered to go do it. But the marketplace itself is going to work in a way that makes it inviting and profitable. And frankly, cleaner, and healthier and more secure.
ZAKARIA: You talk about it being exciting in the marketplace, telling people to do this. But right now there are areas where President Biden's actions will put people out of work, canceling the Keystone Pipeline, the decision on no new fracking on new federal lands.
Those governmental decisions are going to put people out of work, in fact, already are doing so. What do you say to those people after all you were a politician and you understand there has to be - you have to find a way to bring people along?
KERRY: Well, we're a great nation at creating jobs. We've historically constantly been creating jobs when our economy is growing. Obviously, the first objective to do that is to be able to deal with COVID. COVID has knocked economies all around the world for a loop, so that has to happen.
But as the President has said, as President Biden has said many times, that COVID actually offers us the opportunity to build back better. Because the economy has been rocked, as we come back, we will be putting major investments into various sectors of the economy to get it moving again.
And if those investments are done in a way, Fareed, that agreeing - that are looking to develop hydrogen fuel, for instance, or the making of those electric cars, I mean, people don't lose a job in the transition to electric cars because the car still has to be built, the wheels have to be put on it, the electric - the batteries have to be put in it and people are going to work at doing those things.
So we've already seen remarkable growth. There are 55,000 new jobs in Texas all in wind. In Texas, the home of the fossil fuel industry. I mean, this is a transition with the fossil fuel companies themselves. I mean, look at BP or Shell or other large fossil fuel companies, they're diversifying. They're engaged in the creation of these renewable jobs now and doing research in carbon capture and storage and so forth.
So they're going to be massive, literally millions of jobs created over these next years. And there will be a transition in our economy just the way there was in the 1990s when computers and cell phones and other things started to be created and AT&T changed.
ZAKARIA: When I listened to Republicans and I listened to Fox News, I watch Fox News, the thing that they are hammering on is the Green New Deal, the Socialist New Deal and a lot of it is attacking these subsidies or regulations favoring green technology.
Do you think the Republicans will come along? And if they don't, is it possible to just move ahead anyway?
KERRY: Well, first of all, I laugh when they talk about the subsidies to clean energy or something like that. Fossil fuel industry is - probably had the biggest subsidies in human history and some of those still continue. I mean, they're getting subsidies. I don't hear them complaining about that.
Farmers in certain sectors and other people get payouts. Donald Trump paid vast sums of money to try to offset the effect of his ill-advised tariffs. So let's get real here, the private sector in the United States of America has already made the decision that there is money to be made here, that's capitalism, and they are investing in that future. There are going to be huge fortunes made by people who make the breakthroughs in these sectors.
The person who discovers how to take carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere and store it adequately, the person who comes up with battery storage that is 25 or 30 days of storage, those are game changers. And there's going to be a huge amount of money made in that because the demand is there to do this and the alternative is that the planet changes so profoundly negatively, that life itself is not supportable in many parts of the planet and will be changed forever in others.
So the alternative to this is that we actually have citizens paying more money than they would be paying otherwise. Right now, for instance, we paid $265 billion to cover the cost of about three storms several years ago; Maria, Harvey and Irma. Harvey dropped more water on Houston in five days than goes over Niagara Falls in a year. Irma had winds sustained at 185 miles an hour for 24 hours. First hurricane we've ever measured that in.
So we spend 265 billion just to clean up after those storms, Fareed, not to prevent them. So every economic analysis now shows it is more expensive to do nothing, not to respond to the climate crisis than it is to respond to it. So you're going to be - citizens are going to spend this money.
They're either going to spend it cleaning up or building barriers or moving homes or whatever it's going to be, but there's a way to do this productively that actually moves our economies forward and allows the United States to push the curve of technology which we're really good at and begin to invent the new products of the future, create the economy of the future, make the air cleaner, life healthier and make the United States of America more secure.
ZAKARIA: Nothing the United States does will be enough by itself. I think the United States accounts for something like 13% or 14% of global emissions and, of course, China is the biggest global emitter right now. And I wanted to ask you about what your strategy is going to be in getting China to sign up for more ambitious goals, because the Biden administration has started out, taking a pretty tough line on China.
The President and his Secretary of State have accused China of engaging in genocide against the Uyghurs. None of the tariffs that Trump put in place that Biden criticized, none of them have been reversed. They're reaching out to Taiwan. So with all of those policies toward China, how are you going to get Beijing to cooperate on climate?
KERRY: Well, all of those issues need to be addressed obviously, Fareed. We have some very real differences, needless to say, with China on big issues; trade, on technology and intellectual property protection, access to the marketplace.
You mentioned Uyghurs and other things. I mean, there are big issues. Nations have had those through history. Ronald Reagan, who called the Soviet Union the evil empire because it was, met with Gorbachev in Reykjavik. And he and Gorbachev came to the critical decision to stop having 50,000 warheads pointed at each other. That's where we were, nuclear warheads, 50,000 approximately.
And they decided to go the other direction, down, start to take them away. We're now down to about 1,500 plus weapons somewhere in that vicinity and many people think we could go further. But that changed the dynamic of planet, of great nation competition. And the fact is that we need to do that in climate now.
The United States and China together are about 45% of all the emissions on the planet. So if one nation or the other ignores this and doesn't join together to try to resolve this problem, we're all going to see these profoundly catastrophic changes take place. But from the warming of the ocean, the destruction of ecosystems, I mean, I don't need to run through all the list of that, but most of the world has come to the conclusion.
The leaders of 196 countries signed an agreement all saying we have to move in this direction. Only Donald Trump, the only president of any nation in the world who decided to pull out of that agreement and go in a different direction against all science, all common sense.
So we need to come back together, China, United States, India, I mean, Mexico, Canada, all of these countries, Europe, everybody has to be part of this. And you made the point, precisely. No one nation can do this alone.
ZAKARIA: If there is increasingly confrontational policies between China and the United States, if there is what some people describe as a new cold war, does that make it essentially impossible for you to do your job and find an agreement between China and the United States?
KERRY: Well, I don't know the answer to that. I mean, I'm not going to start predicting the impossibilities. What I do think is we don't have to go down that road. I think there are ways, and I think President Biden is deeply committed to and understands how to find those ways as well as anybody. I think he's the right president for this moment partly because of that. His experience in foreign affairs, the relationship that he already has with President Xi is strong.
I think that he's going to be critical to helping to get this equation to come together in the right way. And I think that he has confidence that it's worth exploring that possibility, before you start going down the road to harden down everybody's animosity and long-term conflict. Are there tough issues? Yes. As I said earlier, there are tough issues. But this isn't the first time the United States of America and others have stood up for values and principles and fought to find a way forward with nations with which we have disagreements.
And I think the world wants us to pursue sober, mature, humble, thoughtful diplomacy in the effort to avoid conflict in the future.
ZAKARIA: John Kerry, a pleasure to have you on, sir.
KERRY: Thank you, sir. Good to be with you. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
ZAKARIA: America is deeply divided, more so than at any time since the Civil War. Today the country no longer seems indivisible, as the pledge of allegiance proclaims. And the Capitol riot showed us that nothing less than the future of the republic is at stake.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
(UNKNOWN): We are at war.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ZAKARIA: I have a new documentary premiering tonight that examines the crisis and all of the forces that have led us to this moment. It's called "The Divided States of America: What Is Tearing Us Apart." And it airs at 9:00 p.m. Eastern.
Take a look at this clip, which explores just who is responsible for the ugly, war-like politics that have come to define Washington in recent decades.
ZAKARIA (voice over): It's tempting to say that Donald Trump is the reason for America's great divide...
FORMER PRESIDENT DONALD J. TRUMP: We're going to walk down to the Capitol.
(UNKNOWN): Fight for Trump!
ZAKARIA: ... especially after his dangerous rhetoric led to this.
(UNKNOWN): This American revolution must (inaudible).
(UNKNOWN): People climbing the walls, breaking windows, breaking into doors.
ZAKARIA: But before there was a Donald Trump, there was a Republican pioneer who paved the way for the Trump brand of destructive politics.
FORMER REP. NEWT GINGRICH (R-GA.): I am a genuine revolutionary. They are the genuine reactionaries. We are going to change their world.
ZAKARIA: This is the story of Newt Gingrich, the man who wrote the playbook for the modern conservative movement.
(UNKNOWN): Newt Gingrich, a Republican, is taking over a congressional seat that's been a Democratic stronghold for a quarter of a century.
GINGRICH: And I've also put together a one-page proposal...
ZAKARIA: In 1979, when Gingrich arrived in Washington, he had a singular goal, to blow up the political establishment, including the Republican Party. Democrats had been in control of Congress for so long, it was called a
permanent Democratic majority. It was a very different time in politics, when civility and compromise mattered. House Republican leader Bob Michael was widely known as "Mr. Nice Guy." Imagine that.
VAN JONES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Newt Gingrich comes in with a buzz-saw.
GINGRICH: What we are living through is a fundamental civil struggle, a civil war fought in public speeches rather than with armies.
ZAKARIA: The Gingrich philosophy? The only way for Republicans to win back power was to be nasty, really nasty.
GINGRICH: For the Democrats to basically say, "Not only are we going to rape you, but you have to pay for the motel room" is a bit much.
ZAKARIA: To treat Democrats not as opponents but the enemy.
JULIAN E. ZELIZER, AUTHOR, "BURNING DOWN THE HOUSE": Newt Gingrich saw politics like war.
ZAKARIA: At first, the Republican old guard shunned him. They thought his tactics were toxic.
JANE MAYER, AUTHOR, "DARK MONEY": Gingrich was kind of a nobody. He wasn't a great legislator. But what he had was a knack for stirring controversy and getting attention.
ZAKARIA: Gingrich formed his own brigade called the Conservative Opportunity Society to launch an ideological insurgency.
ZELIZER: They were going to undertake political guerrilla warfare.
TRUMP: American patriotism.
ZAKARIA: Long before Trump used Twitter and Fox to get around media filters...
TRUMP: Democrats have lost control of the radical left.
ZAKARIA: ... Gingrich had C-SPAN.
GINGRICH: I'm going to speak this evening on the loony left, the machine which controls the U.S. House of Representatives.
ZAKARIA (on camera): C-SPAN? Yes, believe it or not, C-SPAN.
You'll have to tune in tonight to find out how Newt Gingrich weaponized that sleepy but vital cable channel.
My special is called "The Divided States of America: What Is Tearing Us Apart?" It premieres tonight on CNN and CNN International at 9:00 p.m. Eastern. Thanks to all of you for being part of my program. I will see you
tonight, I hope, and again next Sunday.