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President Trump's First Year in Office; Interview With the Investor of Blank Box. Discussion Regarding Tech Gadgets Using Microphones to Eavesdrop on Conversations to Pair Advertising to Goods and Services. Aired 9-10a ET

Aired December 23, 2017 - 09:00   ET


[09:00:23] MICHAEL SMERCONISH, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Michael Smerconish in Philadelphia. We welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. Merry Christmas everybody. We know what the president wants for Christmas, credit from all the media for all of his achievements. He tweeted; sadly the fake mainstream media will never talk about our accomplishments in their end of year reviews. We're compiling a long and beautiful list.

Well, Mr. President stick around, I'm about to talk about your impact. Plus, with 750 million packages delivered by UPS this holiday season, a growing number are being stolen by so-called porch pirates. I'm about to talk to a man who has figured out how to fight back with a bang. Plus, did you ever talk about something on your phone and suddenly start seeing ads for it? Is it a coincidence or our smart phones spying on us? And, a look back at some memorable moments on both sides from 2017 including everybody's favorite blooper, by your truly.

George Papadopoulos, Papadopoulos, Papadopoulos, Papadopoulos, I know, I'm a dope, I'm a dope. But first, we're almost one year into the Trump administration and the end of any year is a time of assessing. Especially this one. Mike Allen had an interesting observation this week in his "Axios" news letter. He pointed out how little President Trump and perceptions of him have changed in the last year.

Think about it. Roughly the same number of people support him today as did at the beginning of his administration. The Russian probe has remained constant. The elected Republicans remain skeptical of leadership, but largely compliant, the elected Democrats, they still don't like him. The war with the media has never subsided and neither have his Twitter fingers.

All true, but there's a temptations in those observations to conclude that him administration, the passage of the tax bill not withstanding is static, gridlock, that nothings getting done in a polarized climate. That would be a mistake. In fact, if the pace of change continues for the duration Trump's presidency, however long that might be, I think he could become the most consequential president in the modern era. Consequential meaning, most important and significant, having the biggest overall impact.

As with the criteria that "Time Magazine" uses when determining its person of the year, this is not necessarily a good think. Think about it. A Supreme Court position, that was by rights a Democratic pick, instead went to Trump. And his influence on shaping the federal (ph) is far greater than just Neil Gorsuch on the nation's highest court.

He broke a Senate record this year by confirming a dozen new U.S. circuit court judges, the most during a President's first year in office in more than a century. At the rate that he's going, by next year, more than 12 percent of federal cases heard will be by Trump appointed judges. Those picks will be his longest lasting legacy. The tax bill that he's just signed is the first major overhaul of policy since the Regan era, whatever the effect, that won't be undone anytime soon. And by ending the individual mandate, President Trump has fell a major domino that will upset the economic viability of the Affordable Care Act.

After all, how can you provide coverage with those with preexisting conditions if you don't have everybody in the insurance pool? Trump has made cutting federal regulations a priority. He's revoked 67, he's delayed or derailed more than 1,500 others. He's pulled out of the Paris climate accord, okayed the keystone pipeline, recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, and refused to recertify the Iranian nuclear deal.

On his watch, the Iraq Prime Minister just declared victory over ISIS; the "New York Times" Ross Douthat called it a war Trump won. In immigration enforcement, ICE has arrested more than 100,000 people who entered the U.S. illegally, 70 percent of whom were already convicted criminals. His State Department has undergone massive restructuring and shrinking, again, for better or for worse.

And don't forget about the influence that ideologically driven members of his Cabinet are having out of the spot light. Betsy Devos in education, Scott Pruitt at the EPA, Ben Carson at HUD, Rick Perry in Energy, Jeff Sessions at Justice. No, "Time Magazine" got it wrong. When not naming the President, it's person of the year in 2017.


By their own definition, the person who most affected the news and our lives for good or ill, and embodied what was important about the year was absolutely, Donald J. Trump. Joining me now to discuss, Douglas Brinkley, he's a presidential historian and history professor at Rice University and Larry Sabato the Director of the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia.

Larry, he's getting lots done but without popular support. Can that continue?

LARRY SABATO, DIRECTOR OF THE CENTER FOR POLITICS UNIVERSITY OF VIRGINIA: I doubt it. Look how difficult it was to get that tax bill passed, and he never could get Obama Care repealed. I know about the individual mandate being abolished but that's not the same thing as abolishing Obama Care. And this was with a new presidency usually coming with some kind of honeymoon.

Republican majorities in both houses, I grant you, thin majority in the Senate but still most new presidents with the majority in both houses get a great deal done. I would say that while certainly Trump has accomplished some things, and I agree with you on the (ph), he could have accomplished a great deal more if he were a different kind of president. I don't know bout being the most consequential, but I'll tell you this, he's the most different president in the modern era.

SMERCONISH: I think everybody could agree on that including the president. Douglas Brinkley, there's a lot to be said for that which takes place through inaction. Differentiate between action and inaction and what it means for this presidency?

DOUGLAS BRINKLEY, HISTORIAN: Well, just take a look at what you said pulling out of the Paris Accord. Yes, he did that. What does that mean in the end? And it means that Donald Trump's turned his back completely on climate change. What history may show is the overridingly important issue of our time. I mean, we've having unusual wildfires, hurricanes, glaziers melting, the planet is really alarmed right now and Donald Trump decides it doesn't exist; I don't want to believe and listen to the scientist. So by that very inaction this year, we're losing momentum.

We're not educating the society on what to do to make some changes with climate change. I just picked that one. You can go all over and see, you know, he's gutting the Environmental Protection Agency by 33 percent. Okay, you can save some money right now and you'll also make a little money with being a mining and leasing of the public lands. What does that mean long term?

What does mean 100 years from now? When we start just willey nilley, you know, desecrating public lands for gauging quick gain profits. Conservation is always about our children's children. So there's a lot that went on this year that I don't think is going to shine well on history. They'll be remembered for Charlottesville, Pocahontas, NFL issues, issues that divide the nation on race and identity.

SMERCONISH: You know what occurs to me, Larry Sabito, is that everything that Douglas Brinkley the historian says might be true and yet it will be seen differently in different ends of the county. For example, the laundry list that he just rattled off of the negatives will be embraced by the 46 percent that put him office.

SABITO: Well, you're probably right about that. At least most of the 46 percent. Remember, he has dropped somewhat. He's in the mid thirties, maybe you could exaggerate it up to 40 based on the fact that the polls often underestimate his support, but he has lost support. Why is that? Because, as Doug was suggesting, he is terribly divisive.

Instead of trying to bring people together and this is not an era when you can bring people together, but he could of won a few percent more. He could of won a few percent more. He could of won over some people who are kind of in middle about him to begin with. Instead, because of what he has done and because of the way he does it, Michael, he has divided people. I think more than in any time since perhaps the last year of Richard Nixon's presidency. That is not a good thing. It is not a good thing that we are now

truly the dived states of America. Red states over here, blue states over there. And oddly enough, those purple competitive states, they're also choosing up sides.

SMERCONISH: Gentleman is it possible to put this in some historical perspective. I want to show you what the president said yesterday. And then Douglas, I'll ask you to respond first. Roll the tape.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Legislative approvals, for which I'm given no credit in the mainstream media, Harry Truman had more legislative approvals than any other president. We beat him on legislative approvals, for which I get no credit.


SMERCONISH: Historian, Douglas Brinkley, he references Harry Truman, who comes to your mind if anyone?

BRINKLEY: Well, just Harry Truman created the CIA, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the National Security Council, the Pentagon, the Department of Air force, the Secretary of Defense Ship, I can go on and on. What did Donald Trump create this year? What is going to be remembered for? I mean, John F. Kennedy in his first year in office, Michael, did some bold things.


He said we're going to put a man on the moon by the end of the decade and he started getting money put in the states, like places like, Alabama, Houston Texas, infrastructure money on technology that worked with the space program. Kennedy created his first year of the Peace Core, Alliance for Progress. What's Trump known for? All over the world he's seen as a bully.

That's the net take away at the end of the year. And perhaps a bigot. And so it's very hard to see why history's going to be shinning a great flashlight on a president with 35 percent approval rating. The lowest since poles have been taken. Whose big home run was a tax bill that doesn't really excite people. It is a success at the end of year and he did get Gorsuch in but it's been a very rocky first year.

SMERCONISH: Doctor Sabato, I think what he's achieved is that which he said he was going to do. Which was largely, for better or worse. To reverse Obama iropolocies(ph).

SABATO: Well, you're correct on that too Michael. Let's talk about what that means though. When you base your presidency around your base, your party base, and you are unable or incapable of bringing some people from the other party in, in the long run that means the same thing is going to happen to Donald Trump. What karma that's happening to Barak Obama, Obama's presidency is being deconstructed piece by piece. Trump and his appointees are pulling out by the roots Obama Cares

policies and regulations and programs. Look, at some point, I don't know when is it, 2020 is it 2024, can't tell you. But at some point, you will have a democratic president a democratic Senate and a democratic House again. And I can almost guarantee you, I can almost guarantee you that the democratic base will insist that the democratic president and Congress do the very same thing to whatever is left of Trump's legacy.

SMERCONISH: Can I just say as a final word to both, Douglas Brinkley and Larry Sabato, I worry most about a crisis. Knock on wood; we really not had one in the first year of his watch. And I worry about what happens in a very polarized setting. In one of those moments when in another time we would most certainly rally around the flag. Happy Holidays to both of you. I really appreciate your expertise. Perfect guest for today. Thank you, sir.

SABATO: Thank you.

BRINKLEY: Thank you, Michael.

SMERCONISH: What are your thoughts? Tweet me @smerconish, go to my Facebook page. I will read some responses throughout the course of the program. What do we got Katherine. Can you give the Trump bashing a break? Why not point out the positive facts versus the negative opinions, Smerconish? Trisha, are you blanking me? That was the most; I wrote every word of it myself, that was the most even presentation of what this year has been that you will find anywhere.

That's not an MSNBC view, that's not a FOX view that is a straight down the middle assessment of for better or worse here is what has just transpired. And it gets frustrating for me for people who hear what they want to hear, hear what they think they hear and just don't listen clearly. One more if we've got time for it. You're paying of Trump was disgusting, see what I mean?

This shows your true preferences. I mean, Rajiv, can you please get together with the last Tweeter and maybe the two of you can work it out. It's remarkable how people hear the same thing and just take away from it different conclusions. Up next, it's peak package delivery season, which means porch pirates are in full thievery mode, but one man hopes to tort them in an explosive new style. Is it wrong that I laugh every time I see that?



SMERCONISH: Hey, this holiday season with all those packages being shipped around the country, what can be done about the growing problem of porch pirates? UPS estimates it will deliver 750 million packages this Christmas. That's a 50 percent increase from just five years ago. And when residents aren't home and no signatures required, thieves can get to the packages before the consumer. A recent report says that at least 23 million Americans have had packages stolen from their porches, their mailbox, and their stoops. The "New York Times" reported the case of a Tucson woman robbed of a package sent from an Oklahoma funeral home. It contained her father's ashes.

My next guest tried to foil robbers by capturing them on surveillance video but there were never any arrests so he decided to fight back. Joining me now, Jaireme Barrow. Jaireme, I understand that what like 20 people stole packages from your stoop before you were able to figure out a response.

JAIREME BARROW, INVENTOR OF THE BLANK BOX: Good morning Michael, yes yes, 20 at least.

SMERCONISH: And, and one guy who stole from you dropped his cell phone and he lived, what, three blocks away?

BARROW: Yes, he was really close. He, it was funny watching him run off of my front porch. I didn't notice it until after watching surveillance camera. I saw something fall out of his pocket in my yard and I noticed it was his cell phone.

SMERCONISH: All right, you have developed, you are the inventor of the Blank Box. We're going to pull the camera back, explain what it is, and do a demo.

BARROW: OK, so this is the Blank Box that comes with this frame, made in America of course, it goes inside this box right here. And then this is the Blank triggering mechanism. It's pretty simplistic; only one moving piece unless you count the guy running off your front porch that is. So what you do is you take it and you slide it over top and it is fully moveable.


You can move it around anywhere you want. And then once you lift it vertically is when it goes off. And just hope this shell isn't the one out of a thousand that happens to be a dud. So you wrap it up, put it on your porch and when you lift it, there you go. See, completely harmless. You know, there's nothing that penetrates the box, the blank shell, just a loud noise.

SMERCONISH: So I understand that the local police say we have no investigations pending but you're not allowed to assemble explosives and you would run afoul of the law if that were the case.

BARROW: Well I don't know who you've talked to, but it's a blank shotgun shell is not considered an explosive.

SMERCONISH: So you have no worries about tangling-by the way, here comes the guy with the hood. Hopefully you can see this. And he lifts it up and, boom, it goes off. And then he stumbles out the back, falls down, gets over the fence. What do you know about that?

BARROW: Great. I mean I think it's, it's, basically the thing is a viral video in a box. I mean it's awesome to be able to see karma served instantly. You know these people are coming here trespassing to commit a crime and it's just nice to see them leave empty handed.

SMERCONISH: Do you have any litigation worries? I mean I am trial lawyer. I am not one into bashing the trial bar, but some minds say that if somebody should get injured, that there would be an issue. What are your thoughts on that?

BARROW: Well, like I said, I have a fence, no trespassing signs, I also have a label that says do not touch anything on my porch. I reference this just like any other alarm system. It's a loud noise just for effect. Just like a car alarm when someone's breaking into your car and they get scared and run off and hurt themselves. I don't see them suing you for your alarm system being on your car. So I kind of relate that to (INAUDIBLE) package.

SMERCONISH: All right, so now, now, here's a guy in shorts, kind of a husky fellow there. It's just happening. All these all legit images of what has happened at your place?

BARROW: Yes, 100 percent. I don't have to, I don't have to fake viral video, take videos to have it, you know, go viral. It's just the neighborhood I live in. I don't think it's just a (South Koma) issue, it think it's a worldwide issue now with everybody moving to ordering things. Go ahead.

SMERCONISH: OK, I, I, I saw the guy with the hoodie. I saw the woman. I see the heavy-set guy. I mean the people who are these porch pirates; they seem to cut across all demos. It's pretty scary stuff.

BARROW: Yes, it runs, it doesn't matter-race, religion, age, they are everyone. You know, it seems like that make it a 9 to 5 job just driving up and down the street to steal whatever they can get their hands on. I live on a busy street so it's a little bit more predominant in my neighborhood than in some, but you know I've tried to build a fence. That didn't stop them. I mean this is the only thing that I have found that works.

SMERCONISH: Do you have a favorite story, a favorite anecdote of how the Blank Box has succeeded thus far and if so, tell it.

BARROW: So far, the last video the guy looked like he was doing the invisible box challenge on my front porch. He was trying to run so fast that he forgot there was a step there and was trying to run on air. It's just, it's just a great feeling to know that someone didn't get away with something that I have worked hard to buy.

SMERCONISH: Is it wrong that I'm laughing every time I watch this? I guess you're the wrong person for me to ask.

BARROW: No, I think you're in good company. I mean I've got nothing but positive reaction online. It's fun.

SMERCONISH: All right. Good luck with your business. People can go to the website. I know you're hawking the tee shirts there as well. Show everybody your tee shirt before you leave me. Don't touch my package, I get it.


SMERCONISH: Yes. I'm not sure we should say what that one says. But OK. Jaireme, thank.

BARROW: Go ahead.

SMERCONISH: Thank you Jaireme. I appreciate it.

BARROW: Michael, Merry Christmas.

SMERCONISH: And to you. Merry Christmas to you as well. Made in America he said. The President will love that. All right, Katheryn, what's the reaction to the Blank Box?

I may have to get this. I loved this. No Michael, it's not wrong to laugh, thank good. It's darn funny watching that mischievous would-be thief skedaddle the hell away. Saxon, so well said. Coming up, when you see an ad, this is going to be great, when you see an ad on social media for something you were just talking about, is that a funny coincidence or is your cell phone eaves dropping on you?



SMERCONISH: Is you phone spying on you for advertisers? I keep hearing stories of ads that seem to pop up coincidentally for products you were just talking about. Consider this experience of my neice. She was merely talking about shopping for a bra of all things. And then, low and behold, in her social media, this ad popped up. I asked my Sirius XM radio audience if anything like that had ever happened to them. Here are just two of many examples.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My husband and I went to a buffet-style restaurant. I chose a piece of lemon pie and we sat at the table and talked about it. Since then I've been bombarded with lemon pie ads and recipes. I asked my son who is in IT and he thinks I am crazy. I don't know, it's the craziest thing.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I had my iPhone next to me and I was talking about how I needed to get an oil change. Maybe four hours later, three hours later, I got on some of my apps and there were ads for oil changes in my Facebook feed.


SMERCONISH: So is it all a coincidence or an Orwellian plot to track out thoughts. Joining me now, CNN Money's Business and Technology Correspondent, Samuel Burke. Samuel, I have come to expect that when I am looking at something online, I am leaving a marker, or a cookie, but is there some level of microphone or camera surveillance from my phone as well?

[09:30:00] SAMUEL BURKE, CNN MONEY CORRESPONDENCE: Michael, there have been cases of hackers accessing the cameras and microphones on our smart phones. The smart phone makers have quickly patched that. But there's really no real evidence to suggest that any of the big tech or social media companies are somehow surreptitiously using the camera mic to listen to what we're saying and then target ads. But if any of those tech companies told you that it was a complete coincidence that somebody talked about something and then it showed up on their Facebook page or other social media type pages, that would be complete bologna. Nothing is a coincidence in the world of targeted marketing.

They're pulling data from us with all different types of methods. Facebook doesn't talk about this very often, but when you buy something at the pharmacy, they know what you're buying maybe at the corner store because of the loyalty card. So I could go and buy some M&Ms at CVS and it could pop up on my Facebook page because they have all that data connected. That's why it's happening. They're not listening but it's no coincidence.

SMERCONISH: You know what makes me suspicious? You reference Facebook. This brings to my mind that picture that went viral of Mark Zuckerberg that when you zoomed in, you saw that there was a piece of tape over the camera, yes, there it is, there was a piece of tape over the camera, on, on his laptop.

BURKE: Well, that's because he's smart and he knows that hacking is a real threat. I mean he's seen it especially this year. But the message that they use, they're usually pretty clear about and unfortunately we've tolerated them for too long. Let's just take Gmail for instance. That's the email that so many of us use. For years, they were skimming through everything that you wrote and they were showing you ads based on that. I started out as an intern at Anderson Cooper's show, so it said Anderson Cooper in my email. What did I get? And ad for Anderson Cooper's book. That message was seen as so ugly by so many businesses that used Gmail that Google at the end of this year is turning it off. I tell you this example, they say, "We don't have to put up with all this." Business said, "No thank you." Google is turning it off completely now for everybody- business and personal. So a lot of these messages that people don't realize, we can stand up and say no thank you and eventually the tech companies could, and maybe in some cases, should cave.

SMERCONISH: OK, but how do you explain the radio listener. She sounded very earnest. I'm inclined to believe her, with the lemon pie. She's sitting there talking about lemon pie, now she gets ads for lemon pie. I mean is there some algorithm that's figured out, "Hey this is a lady who would probably like lemon pie."

BURKE: Oh it's absolutely an algorithm and I don't doubt anything that she said. But odds are if she ate that lemon pie at that buffet, she's maybe gone to her grocery store and purchased a lot of lemon pies. And like I said, they connected that data and figured it out. Another example I have that shows you don't even have to be so blatant. I've never put that I'm Jewish on Facebook, and Facebook wished me a happy Jewish New Year. So how does it know? I call it Jewish by association. They looked at my Facebook page, figured out mom, dad, brother are Jewish, and they've said, this is how we do this type of thing. Even your political leanings. You can go onto Facebook, you and I will tweet this link as soon as this segment is over, you can go on and look and see and Facebook will tell people all the time, we think you're liberal, very liberal, conservative, not just based on how you list yourself what you can do, but based on the people you know. So it's very straight forward, some of the methods. And, some of the other ones like Jewish by association, liberal, conservative by association that these algorithms are figuring out.

SMERCONISH: All right, one more. My eldest son came home from college sporting a growth like the old man. And he tells me he's now getting beard product ads in his social media.

BURKE: So if I had to guess maybe he went on Google and typed on beard trimmer and that's why he's getting that. That's the most obvious ones, but I think it's the -

SMERCONISH: He says no.

BURKE: He says no, but chances are if he's sporting a beard like that, someplace he said it. But we do have to think about the fact that we're putting microphones in our homes with products like Amazon's Echo. The Google Assistant, which you can use your voice with. When you do a search with that using your voice, that data is used, and so it's no stretch to know that one day the companies could be using this. But again, I think we got stop, stand up, talk about this a lot, and make sure they stop before we get to that Orwellian society that it feels like we are on the verge of if we're not already there.

SMERCONISH: Samuel, great stuff. Happy Holidays. Thanks for being here. Thank you. Let's check in on your tweets and your Facebook comments, what do we have?

This from Facebook. I think these people are crazy and just don't realize they Googled it. Jeffrey, they may have, they may have but they may not have. I mean I-I-I see the example of leaving cookies everywhere. It's not a leap of faith for me to assume that somehow they're much more knowledgeable about me than just the websites I Google. Hey, still to come, it has been a crazy year but difficult to keep up.


2017's memorable moments as well a few things I simply could not remember. George Papadopoulous, Papadopoulous, Papadopoulous, Papadopoulous, Papadopoulous, Papadopoulous. Kathryn, did I say Papadopoulous incorr-I did didn't I? Just never put that in the prompter. I can't handle the word.


SMERCONISH: Hey it has really been quite a year and sometimes it feels like we just lived several years. So in this, our last live show of 2017, I want to thank you for watching and revisit some moments that typified our time together. Every week I strive to present


different viewpoints from Patricia Arquette to Pat Buchanan.


PATRICIA ARQUETTE, ACTRESS: People, I think, were really depressed when you won and needed to come out and say we're afraid for our country. We're afraid for democracy. We're afraid for civil rights.

PAT BUCHANAN, FORMER PRESIDENTIAL ADVISOR: But you know all this talk of bipartisanship. Look the American people didn't vote in November of last year for bipartisanship.


SMERCONISH: Often times we've been ahead of the curve like when months ago I asked Green Party Candidate, Jill Stein, about that now notorious photo of her, Michael Flynn, and Vladimir Putin at a gala for Russian TV station RT. That's a subject now being investigated.


JILL STEIN, 2016 GREEN PARTY PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: That's funny Michael, you have to ask, why is that picture kicking up a storm right now, that the Democrats are looking for someone to blame. They're looking at Bernie Sanders. They're looking at James Comey. They're looking at me. I think the Democrats really have to look internally. People have had it with being thrown under the bus.


SMERCONISH: I'm also not afraid to admit when I've been wrong. More than a decade ago I criticized Pink Floyd co-founder Roger Waters for defending the rights of Gitmo prisoners at a New York City concert very close to Ground Zero. Now, with some still held without a trial, I had to acknowledge he had a point and that sometime listening to great music means listening to someone who's message makes you uncomfortable. Here's some of what he told me in our sit down.


ROGER WATERS, CO-FOUNDER OF PINK FLOYD: The problem is that entertainment has gotten mixed up with news and in consequence, he's actually, Donald Trump is great for the mainstream media because he's such a buffoon.

SMERCONISH: What would you say to someone who is looking for escapism? They're not coming to -

WATERS: Katy, Katy Perry, you know, watch the Kardashians. I don't care what, you know whatever you want to do, go and escape.


SMERCONISH: After tweeting at me to compliment something that I'd said here on CNN, Arnold Schwarzenegger invited me to his home in Los Angeles to talk political polarization and gerrymandering. Instead, what made news was a final throwaway question about a tweet from President Trump attacking Arnold after "The Apprentice" was cancelled.


SMERCONISH: Why do you think the President is fixated on you? Why does he keep talking about you through his twitter feed?

SCHWARZENEGGER: I think he's in love with me.

SMERCONISH: Is that what it is?

SCHWARZENEGGER: Yes, I think so.


SMERCONISH: That response was all anybody talked about. I worried that nobody had paid attention to the topic at hand. Then Arnold sent a note and he said this, "If we can get people to pay attention to seven minutes of gerrymandering, to hear me say that the President might be in love with me, I'll take it." And he was right.

I also conducted what was Bill Cosby's only pretrial interview before being tried for sexual assault. He was guarded, of course, but I found the conversation was a roadmap of Cosby's defense in the upcoming preceding that ultimately ended in a hung jury. Most memorably, he quoted a philosophy that I've seen attributed to a feminist icon, Gloria Steinem.


BILL COSBY, ACTOR: The truth shall set you free, but first it might piss you off.


SMERCONISH: After a terrific wide-ranging interview with sports casting legend Bob Costas, I kept him around for viewer tweets which included an interesting proposal.


SMERCONISH: I always and still believe Bob Costas should moderate presidential debates.

BOB COSTAS, SPORTS COMMENTATOR: I do not expect to be.

SMERCONISH: If asked, would you serve?

COSTAS: No, no, no.


COSTAS: Despite what some people who don't want to make valid distinctions think, I talk about certain political issues when they have obviously intersected with sports. And I think in that respect I stay in my lane.


SMERCONISH: Four days after the mass shooting in Los Vegas, I was in Vegas to give a speech. I had a pre-existing commitment to have a drink with former Mayor Oscar Goodman, whose wife is the current mayor. He was angry. He was wounded on behalf of his city but I admired his carpe diem mentality.


OSCAR GOODMAN, FORMER LAS VEGAS MAYOR: I'm having a drink you bet I am because this guy isn't going to change the way I spend my life because I know he's rotting in hell in eternal damnation and I hope that Mangle(pf) is his roommate. How do you like that?


SMERCONISH: We've really had a good year and that's due to lots of hard work and preparation from many people whose faces you never get to see-Kathryn and Korina, David, Dick, Adam, Chloe, T.C., and the gang here at VideoLink in Philadelphia, our director David, and Troy and their crew in Atlanta, and still, some of the most memorable moments have been unscripted, the joys of live TV like my inexplicable inability to enunciate a name in the news.

George Papadopoulous, Papadopoulous, Papadopoulous, Papadopoulous. I know I'm a dope. I am a dope. Listen, put that camera back on me. Look at this.



SMERCONISH: Inability annunciate a name in the news. George Papadopoulos, Papadopoulos, Papadopoulos, Papadopoulos. I know, I'm a dope, I'm a dope. Listen, put that camera back on me. Look at this. I can't say it, I'm never going to live it down. I'm never going to live it down. Papadopoulos, Papadopoulos, I love responding spontaneously to Tweets like those that come in from the TV audience. Here is a classic. Smerconish, you are an asshole. I am, you are correct. You only respond to Tweets that align with you.

Trump is right, and you are stupid to realize it, RSVP. Hey Lynn, I think I just did. And by the way Lynn, have you noticed on balanced? That the Tweets that get put on the screen are not the ones that kiss my, well, the word you just used. I also occasionally feel compelled to reply to recent public Tweets by our Tweeter in chief. The President up early and Tweeting again, this time about his desire for equal time on TV.

Come on Mr. President, you have your own channel. And you're welcome here on any Saturday of your choosing. And I will treat you with dignity and respect. That offer still stands in 2018. And finally, this year my family holiday Christmas card was easy to select, it's a picture from an event that caused me, one of my only absence from my, absences, what's wrong with me, absences, absences, see it's live TV. The only the day I took off this year, all right? Was for our daughter's wedding.

There were several who worried, or maybe hoped, that I'd been fired, to whom I say, not yet. Mine was an excused absent, our daughter was being married. And for once, I didn't sit in the middle. I sat on the bride's side. Boogying to Scarlotte Bingonous. Hey Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to everybody and I will of course see you I hope in 2018. Still to come, your final Tweets and Facebook comments of the year. Like this one, Smerconish, your Papadopoulos moments are some of my favorites. Hey Diane, wait until you see what mistakes I will make next year.



SMERCONISH: Hey please remember to follow me on Facebook and Twitter. Here some of what's coming during the course of this program. Smerconish, lay off the eggnog. Trump is the most damaging president USA morals and standards in modern history. #dumptrump Debbie, I knew when I wrote that opening commentary, where I argued that he is the most consequential president to the modern era, that some would interperate the word consequential in the a favorable light.

I went to get tides to say, I'm using the same definition that "Time Magazine" uses when they determine who should be the person of the year. It's a for better or worse thing, but respectfully I say, you're kidding yourself if you think that this is not a very impactful presidency that is unfolding. And I laid out all the reason why I believe that to be the case. But I think you're misinterpreting the way in which I delivered it. Hit me with another one Katherine.

What do you got? Smerconish, by your assessment Osama bin Laden should at one point have been "Times" person of the year? Von, absolutely. Absolutely. And and the year was 2001 and Rudy was the "Time" person of the year. And I certainly understood that and had tremendous respect for Rudy Giuliani impact in New York City in the aftermath of September 11. But, would you really argue that in 2001 Osama bin Laden wasn't the person who had the greatest impact on world events?

Of course he was and in that instance, "Time" took the easy way out because I'm sure there would have been enormous blow back if they pinned that on bin Laden. Many people regard it as an honor, when it isn't. What's next? Smerconish, my neighborhood has at least 20 packages stolen everyday. One person has been packing up cat poop in hers. I like it. I like the cat poop, now listen, if you combine the cat poop with the blank box that that gentleman was here selling, then you would really have something that, come on, let's watch it again.

A little cat poop in there and then the explosion would be terrific. Give me another one. Smerconish, here's the issue. Who eats lemon pie in the first place? Very suspicious. Come on Brian, that was on of my radio listeners. I thought she told a very compelling story and then there's the guy who needs an oil change and he say so and the next thing that happens is adds pop up for an oil change. My son just home from school sporting a growth. Now being hit with beard ads. I said, did you Google any beard products? He said, no dad, I didn't.

What's next? Smerconish, Peter piper picked a peck of pickled Papadopoulos. Merry Christmas. Thank you, Dawn. Yes, on radio I never struggle with it. It's on television. Something about seeing it in the prompter. Time for one more. Better be a good one. This is the final Tweet of the year.


Smerconish, now that Mr. Trump has given me permission, may I wish you a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. Wait a minute. Did Mr. Trump give me permission to wish a Happy New Year? Greg, I don't know if he did or he didn't.

So I'm wishing, I'm wishing everybody Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas, Happy Kwanza, Happy New Year, whatever you're celebrating, I hope you're safe, you're happy, you're with friends and family, and that you'll come back to us in 2018. Thanks everybody.