Return to Transcripts main page
Trump's Poll Numbers Rise with GOP and Independents; Trump Attacks Amazon as Bad for American Business; The Tale of Tiger Woods; Ex-Justice Stevens Advocates Repeal of Second Amendment; Aired 9-10a ET
Aired March 31, 2018 - 09:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[09:00:00] MICHAEL SMERCONISH, CNN HOST: Who'd a thunk it??
On a related note, the biggest TV show in America, a re-boot from 20 years ago, "Roseanne," and she is now a Trump supporter. What does its success say about our political divide?
Of course there is also a real life Roseanne Barr who last night praised the president for his work against pimps.
Plus the president has declared a war on Amazon. Up early today tweeting about it again. He says Amazon is bad for America. Is he right? Or is he picking on CEO Jeff Bezos because Bezos owns the "Washington Post"?
Also, a golf star since age 2, he's one of the most famous people on earth and one of the least well-known. But a new biography finally makes us understand Tiger Woods as he prepares to tee off at this week's masters. I'll talk to one of the authors.
But first, one of the more interesting stories this week was the huge audience that the revival of "Roseanne" attracted when ABC launched with two episodes Tuesday night, the show had an average of 17.7 million viewers in the first half hour, 18.6 million in the second. It's already been renewed for a second season.
The story of a working class family of five that hasn't been on air since 1997. Clearly struck a chord. And the question is why. Some will say that nostalgia is at play, but I discount that. The show did a strong 5.1 share among adults 18 to 49, and 20 somethings who partially comprised Tuesday night's audience weren't part of the original viewership. Others say it's the political subject matter.
Roseanne Barr, the series star, in real life voted for President Trump and her character in the reboot is revealed to be a Trump backer.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROSEANNE BARR, ACTRESS, "ROSEANNE": Thank you to making America great again.
LAURIE METCALF, ACTRESS, "ROSEANNE": How could you have voted for him, Roseanne? BARR: He talked about jobs, Jackie. He said he'd shake things up. I
mean, this might come as a complete shock to you, but we almost lost our house the way things are going.
METCALF: Have you looked at the news? Because now things are worse.
BARR: Not on the real news.
METCALF: Oh, please.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SMERCONISH: The president thinks it's that simple. He called the real-life Roseanne on Wednesday to congratulate her and on Thursday in Ohio, he told his audience this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Even look at Roseanne, I called her yesterday. Look at her ratings. Look at her ratings.
TRUMP: I got a call from Mark Burnett, he did "The Apprentice," he's a great guy. He said, Donald, I called just to say hello and to tell you, did you see Roseanne's ratings? I said, Mark, how big were they? They were unbelievable. Over 18 million people. And it was about us.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SMERCONISH: Here is the thing about that us. Look at the top markets for the debut as the "new York Times" puts it. It's a red state checklist. Cincinnati, Tulsa, Indianapolis, Kansas City. Liberal enclaves like New York and L.A., they didn't crack the top 20 markets. And that fits what Ben Sherwood, the president of ABC, told the "New York Times" that this was a heartland strategy.
He says that the day after the president's election, ABC executives looked at one another and to their credit said, "There is a lot about this country we need to learn a lot more about." He said that Roseanne's revival was a direct effort to reach an audience that they were underserving.
I get all that. I'm sure it is accurate. But on this, the day before Easter and the day after many enjoyed family at Seder, I think there's a related aspect. Roseanne tells the story of family dynamics, and while Roseanne supported candidate Trump, her sister Jackie, played by Laurie Metkamp, is revealed to be a Hillary supporter who nevertheless voted for Jill Stein.
That is a real snapshot into America. A world where the all or nothing red state or blue state portrayed by cable television news is not reality. For many of us, enjoying the company of friends and relatives this weekend our worlds will be much more like Roseanne's than the narrative we see in our leaders and their media mouthpieces. This weekend many of us will be a butter knife away from a loved one
who sees the world differently. The president said that Roseanne was all about us and he is correct. But it is not just about that Ohio crowd. It is about all of us.
I want to know what you think. Go to my Web site, smerconish.com, answer this question. Roseanne's ratings success is more attributable to the show's politics or the show's quality?
Through all the staff chaos, the resignations, the indictments, porn star scandals and the tweets, the president's poll numbers are going up.
[09:05:03] In the latest CNN poll the president's approval has gone up since last month from 35 percent to 42 percent. It remains steady among D's in the basement at 5 percent. But for Republicans, his approval has risen from 80 percent to 86 percent and even more interestingly to me, among independents, an identical six-point rise from 35 percent to 41 percent.
Neal Newhouse is a partner and co-founder of the premiere Republican polling organization, Public Opinion Strategies. He was lead pollster for Governor Mitt Romney in 2012.
Hey, Neal, you're a political polling guy. But I must ask you about television ratings. I want to know if you see a connection between "Roseanne's" success and this new data showing an uptick for the president.
NEAL NEWHOUSE, LEAD POLLSTER TO ROMNEY 2012 PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN: My first question is, what took so long for the networks to kind of get it in terms of programming. You look at the country right now and it reflects obviously President Trump's numbers, but 37 percent of Americans are conservatives, 47 percent have a gun in their household, 70 percent of Americans describe themselves as either working class or middle class.
This is flyover country. You look at that data, you're exactly right in terms of the top 10 markets being kind of red state targets, with the exception of Chicago obviously. This is flyover country. This is the heartland of the country. There wasn't a single coastal city, you know, in the top 10 there. The networks -- there is an appetite out there in middle America for this kind of programming, for real programming, that has, you know, some conservative elements to it.
SMERCONISH: To what do you attribute the uptick in the president's numbers? Is it the economy stupid?
NEWHOUSE: Well, I discount any one single poll. I mean, the CNN's -- I don't think President Trump's numbers have moved seven points. But what I did is I took a look at the last seven kind of credible national surveys and averaged them all together, kind of, you know, reweighted it. And what you found is exactly what we talked about, which is the president has edged up among Republicans some, but his major move has been among independents. And I think what's really pushing that is the perception that we're in
good economic times. If you look at the other polling data showing economic numbers, Americans were more positive toward the economy than they have been in more than a decade. And some data indicates more than since the turn of the century, since 2001. So I think it's the economy driving that data and secondly I think it's -- some would say it's the president showing strength. This is the man that voters thought they were electing.
He has shown strength with respect to tariffs, with the economy, and now taking on and, you know, working with North Korea, for instance. So I think it's an example of the president being strong and the economy kind of boosting his numbers somewhat.
SMERCONISH: Is he wise -- politically speaking, is he wise to take on Amazon? Because when he speaks of the size of Amazon and Amazon posing a threat to brick and mortar, mom and pop operations, I totally get that. On the other hand, don't interrupt my Amazon Prime, I'm accepting a delivery today.
NEWHOUSE: You and I both are I think, Michael. I think it's an interesting strategy. I think he is playing back to his roots of kind of small town, rural small town mom and pop businesses, small businesses. People who think they've really been hurt by this. People who are not able to kind of keep up with technology. So whether that is a good play or a bad play long term, I'm not sure yet. But it's really interesting.
You wonder how much it's tied to his antipathy toward the "Washington Post" and others, but there is a sense out there that Amazon has cost main street cities and towns across the country hundreds of thousands of jobs.
SMERCONISH: Hey, Neal, I talked about "Roseanne's" ratings and Roseanne for all the strength of her Tuesday night showing lagged behind where Anderson Cooper was in interviewing Stormy Daniels last Sunday night. I mean the nation turned out to watch Stormy. But politically speaking, can't we conclude now it is not moving the needle?
The White House, quote-unquote, chaos, all the turnover, not moving the needle because of these polling numbers that we've just seen for President Trump?
NEWHOUSE: It is not moving the needle because it's already baked in. People know that the president, you know, maybe messed around. This is not new news. What moves the needle is when voters are exposed to something new. Something they hadn't heard before. And something they maybe didn't expect. That is just not the case here. And so a little more turmoil in the White House or the Stormy Daniels -- it's interesting, you want to tune in.
[09:10:04] But it's not going to change anybody's opinions. Those numbers aren't going to change because of Stormy Daniels. But hey, Michael, the one thing I think that's really interesting is
if you look at President Trump's numbers over the past year since he's been elected, he has traded with very narrow band. I mean, like, his high has been 45 percent, his low has been 35 percent. And when you compare that to other previous presidents, George W., Bill Clinton, Obama, those presidents in the first year, year and a half in office, they were on a 30-point margin between their highest number and their lowest number, which really indicates to me that even though President Trump has maybe a rock hard, you know, floor and rock hard base, he has a very low ceiling. And the ceiling right now is probably not much more than 45 percent, which is really unusual for a first term president.
SMERCONISH: I appreciate your analysis. I don't share your desire for Kansas to win tonight against Villanova. But thank you for being here anyway.
NEWHOUSE: Michael, I've got something for you. You would look great in this T-shirt.
SMERCONISH: No, not going to do it. No --
SMERCONISH: And the Villanova Wild Cats.
Thank you, Neal. Appreciate it very much.
Tweet me at Smerconish, go to my Facebook page. I will read some responses throughout the course of the program. What has come in already?
"Smerconish, on ABC, American voters are taking our country and values back one Roseanne at a time. Look out, Hollywood."
Hey, Mike, this is pilot season. And I am sure this ratings success for ABC on Tuesday night has completely up ended that which is in the pipeline.
One more if we've got time for it. "I watched nostalgically. I don't think watching is a political statement. And if so, I'm team Jackie."
Hey, everything old is new again. I mean, you know, U2 was out doing the Joshua Tree on concert. I love going to see or did love going to see Steely Dan create Asia in its entirety. I get that some of it is nostalgia. But that is not a complete explanation.
I want to remind you to answer the survey question at Smerconish.com, Roseanne's ratings success is more at attributable to the show's politics or the show's quality? Cast a ballot, I'll give you results at the end of this hour.
Up ahead, President Trump is going to war against Amazon, saying it's hurting the U.S. economy. Is he right? And is he hurting his calls by politicizing this? I'll talk to the former CEO of Toys "R" Us.
[09:16:29] SMERCONISH: President Trump stepped up his ongoing attack of the retail giant Amazon this week firing off two more tweets this morning accusing it of hurting the U.S. economy. The president has been attacking Amazon for not paying its share of state and local taxes, draining resources from the U.S. Postal Service and driving other retailers out of business.
The president has been accused of singling out Amazon for criticism because its CEO Jeff Bezos also owns the "Washington Post" which is regularly a thorn in the president's side. But is he right?
I asked my Sirius XM listeners this week whether the president's criticism of Amazon was founded. Over 4,000 voted and we had a statistical dead heat. A 50-50 tie.
Joining me now is Jerry Storch, he is the former CEO of Toys "R" Us and former vice chair of Target. He is now the CEO of Storch Advisors. He knows Bezos and once did a deal with him.
Hey, Jerry, let's put back on the screen the morning tweets from the president and parcel them if we can. They say this. "While we are on the subject, it is reported that the U.S. Post Office will lose $1.50 on average for each package it delivers for Amazon. That amounts to billions of dollars. The failing 'New York Times' reports that the size of the company's lobbying staff has ballooned."
Before I deal with that, let me ask you about the Post Office criticism. Is it founded as far as you know?
JERRY STORCH, FORMER CEO, TOYS "R" US: Well, it's very difficult to break that out. Benjamin Franklin is turning over in his grave. As you know, being there in Philadelphia, the reason for the Post Office was to deliver first class mail. Unfortunately, that is on steep decline as people use e-mail, Facebook, other ways to communicate. So the Post Office has moved to parcel delivery as a theoretical saving hail Mary pass.
The problem is they lose money in total in general. How would you like to run a business that is overseen by the government? And, you know, which are you, government or business? So it's basically a utility that loses money. So the question then is, that utility that loses money, more and more becomes a package delivery service, with Amazon as the largest company, and it's still losing money, are we subsidizing, you know, a for-profit company in Amazon?
There's one study out there that says they do lose money on each package they deliver for Amazon. Other people argue with it. Most of the articles, by the way, in the last few days have been so superficial to be ridiculous because all they looked at is revenues and they say, look, the revenue growth is growing on the parcel side so Amazon is good for the Post Office. But we don't know if they make any money on it.
My bet is if I really got in there as Storch Advisors and tore apart the cost of operation there, what you would see is on the margins they make money, but if you fully loaded the cost, they lose money on each package they're delivering.
SMERCONISH: My kids don't even know what a number 10 envelope is.
SMERCONISH: You know, it seems like such a snapshot of the past so I get that the Post Office problems are much more deep that whatever the Amazon deal might be.
Let me ask you this. Especially given your Target and your Toys "R" Us background, what the president says relative to big box stores or brick-and-mortar locations, he is absolutely right there, is he not?
STORCH: Well, look, Amazon is great. And Jeff Bezos is a genius. All right. So they are mostly good for the world. He is a revolutionary. But they're not all good and they're not going to be good forever the way things are going. So I have argued for over 20 years that Amazon needs to charge sales tax. They started in 1995, they should have charged it from the beginning.
[09:20:00] Only most recently have they charged sales tax on first party sales and they still don't collect sales tax on the over half their sales that are going on third party market place. All this is based in some antiquated Supreme Court decision, pre-Amazon where the court begged Congress to get involved and fix what it called a quagmire and it hasn't been fixed in all that time.
And so, you know, Jeff has done what any good business person would do. He's used a -- you know, what I think is a mistake and it's a loophole in the law to avoid charging sales tax. It helped them get started. Even today, it's favoring this huge volume of third party marketplace sellers on Amazon over main street, putting people out of business. These are people on main street who have to collect the sales tax and it's not lost on customers that it costs more to buy it when you have to pay the sales tax.
These are people who support the neighborhood, you know, hockey team. They're people who pay their sales tax. They're people who give money towards infrastructures, schools, roads, et cetera. And so it is a big problem and all we've ever asked as retailers is for a level playing field. How ridiculous that Amazon should have this kind of advantage. So that is just horrible. Meanwhile --
SMERCONISH: And Axios has reported this week --
SMERCONISH: I'm sorry, I was going to say Axios has reported this week that the president has spoken of changing the government's tax policy with regard to Amazon. Does it feel a little personal? I tell you that the president's opposition to the AT&T-Time Washer merger has always felt a little personal to me taking out his antipathy toward CNN. Is this the same? Is this really because of the "Washington Post."
STORCH: Well, there's no way of knowing anyone's motive and so it's pretty difficult for me to get into that. I can deal with the facts of the situation. The facts are that Amazon does not collect sales tax on over half of its sales. You know, the third party market place sales. And the facts are Amazon pays little or no taxes. You know, they basically don't make any money which is the other infuriating thing when we talk about competing against. So it's a great company, is that they don't have to make any money. And everyone else does. And as our business shifts from bricks and mortar stores online, we see lower profitability into online sales and yet we are supposed to make money. So that's always been a big problem.
So they don't pay income tax, they don't have income, so (INAUDIBLE) change the tax laws, which brings you to the last topic that has been increasingly on everyone's mind, is there some form of antitrust action that should be taken or will be required against Amazon.
Now, by my way of thinking, you know, you have to do something wrong if people are going to take anti-trust action against you and I don't think by and large they've done anything wrong. They've gotten large by being great, by running their business very well. But the future could be a little bit different. As their search business has grown tremendously, right now over half of all searches for products on the Internet are done on wall garden of Amazon.com and they're buying up a lot of Google search. So they're controlling a huge part of the search market.
Secondly, their home automation through Alexa, heck, I've got five of them or something, you know, is the leading home automation device. So if that is a closed system and the only way to getting access through merchandize is sue Amazon through search and through their home automation, I see this in the future of tying that might become, you know, critically important along the lines of what we've seen in a lot of antitrust cases over the years.
You know, Microsoft was a great -- got into trouble over tying Internet Explorer with their Windows products.
SMERCONISH: I don't see the clock getting turned back. I lack your credentials in this regard, but I think we are all now so accustomed and enjoy using our devices to make purchases that even if the government were to break up Amazon and like you I don't see an antitrust violation that they can hang their hat on, but I think it will just be replaced by some other Internet based purchasing capability.
You get 30 seconds for the final word.
STORCH: Well, Amazon is a fantastic experience. Jeff Bezos is brilliant. They should collect sales taxes on all their sales like everyone else and contribute to local economies in a proper way. And, you know, as far as I see it, they have won primarily to this point by being a fantastic competitor and offer the customer what she wants.
SMERCONISH: Jerry, thank you. Appreciate you being here.
STORCH: Thank you.
SMERCONISH: Let us see what you're saying on my Smerconish Twitter and Facebook pages.
Katherine, what do we got?
"Should we go back to horse and buggies? Darn those things called automobiles that put those horses out of business."
I get it, Mary. Hit me with the next one. What do we got?
"Bezos is the richest man in the world and Uber successful. Trump is going after him because he is jealous. Trump has to borrow money from the Russians because every venture he touches failed."
Angry American, you are angry, aren't you? I don't know that he is jealous of him, but the criticism that comes from the "Washington Post" that he regards as being unfounded, it's hard not to believe that that is a factor in the president's thinking.
Up next, this week Tiger Woods tees off at the Masters where he won his first victory 21 years ago. I'm going to talk to the co-author of the new biography that many say finally reveals the real Tiger.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When he was 11 months old, I took a break and he walked right over.
[09:25:03] Picked up his little putter, set up just like I did, looked at the net as his target, took the club back and hit the ball right in the center of the net.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SMERCONISH: He's one of the most famous people on the planet, yet one of the hardest to get to know. Until now. Golf star Tiger Woods will tee off at this week's Masters tournament in Atlanta just as the most in-depth look at his life and career hits bookstores.
Remember, once was ranked number one in the world for a record 683 weeks, at the height of his career he helped golf beat the NFL and NBA in TV ratings.
[09:30:01] He was the youngest golfer in history to win a Major. And the first golfer with African-American heritage to do so. But after an SUV crash in November of 2009, it's just never been same. For three years, authors Jeff Benedict and Armen Keteyian interviewed more than 250 people. They create a portrait being praised by writers who've been covering Tiger for years.
The book, "Tiger Woods," has already been sold as a docu-series to Netflix to be directed by Alex Gibney. And joining me now is co- author Jeff Benedict, who's also a special features writer for "Sports Illustrated."
I'm glad that you've began in November of 2009 with the SUV crash and now I get it. Tiger had taken an Ambien, he is zonked out. Elin picks up his phone, sees a message that he has received and she replies to it as Tiger, and that's when it all hits the fan.
JEFF BENEDICT, CO-AUTHOR, "TIGER WOODS": It does. We had a lot of discussion, Armen and I, internally about how to start this book, where to begin, and we thought that we should start with barefoot and groggy, the most powerful athlete on the planet hid behind a locked bathroom door. And that's the first sentence of the book and it's the right place to start because Tiger makes a decision in that moment to flee. And it's the start of the most precipitous fall in the history of sports.
SMERCONISH: So the perception is he's never been the same since then, proving that it's all in his head, that it's not in his game. Is that really true though?
BENEDICT: No, I don't think that's true. I think Tiger's head, his -- what's between his ears is what's made him unbeatable when he was at the prime of his career. A big part of our Tiger Woods biography is going back to how Tiger was made. His father used to use language like he wanted his son to be, you know, a cold-blooded assassin. He wanted him to be lethal on the golf course. And Tiger was really wired that way by his parents, but largely his dad.
It was why he was such an unbeatable opponent on the golf course, but it also factored into why he had some of the social issues that he had off the golf course. One of which was a longtime disdain for the media, an obsession with privacy. And we think that a lot of that was misunderstood in terms of why Tiger is like that. And that was one of the things that we tried to get into and try to figure out is why does Tiger have such a disdain for the press, why is he so obsessed about privacy?
And we came around to that finally by realizing if you look back at how this all started for him as a 2-year-old, he was put on national television. He was --
SMERCONISH: I'm going to show --
BENEDICT: -- put in front of audiences with millions.
SMERCONISH: I want to show it. I want to show that unbelievable Mike Douglas clip. Let me tell everybody going into it, you are about to see not only Mike Douglas, also Bob Hope and Jimmy Stewart. Roll it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So right now I'd like you to meet Tiger Woods and his father Earl Woods. Come on out here.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Earl, how old -- how old are you, Tiger?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Two.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Two?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SMERCONISH: Hey, Jeff, this is the ultimate nature-nurture question. If my father had me golfing at age 2, would I be Tiger Woods or was he just born with the gift? Was it Earl or was it innate?
BENEDICT: You would not be Tiger Woods. I can tell you that.
SMERCONISH: I don't think so either. You're right.
BENEDICT: But the answer to your question is it's both. There is a tremendous amount of nurturing that goes on from Earl and Kultida but there's also some innate gifts that Tiger Woods clearly has that, you know, you could take another kid and put him in that situation and he wouldn't become what Tiger became. But let me just go back to that clip you just showed a minute ago.
It's interesting, as Armen and I watched that and we watched that segment over and over and over again, it's easy to see on the surface that this is funny, it's cute, there is Bob Hope and Jimmy Stewart and all this going on. But if you look really closely at what is actually happening in this, there is also a sad side to this. If you watch the end of this clip, Tiger is asked to do some putting, to putt into a cup. And it's a simple putt and he misses and misses and misses, and finally the last time that he's going to get to putt, he picks up his ball and moves it right to the edge of the cup and taps it in. And Bob Hope is slapping his knee and laughing.
It's a hilarious moment but if you look closely what it really is you're seeing a boy at 2 who is so -- he wants so badly to please his father, that's one thing, and the second thing is you see this incredibly nervous tugging of the ear.
[09:35:13] And it's interesting that after that interview Jimmy Stewart pulled Mike Douglas aside and said, you know, I've seen a lot of precocious innocent children like this and a lot of starry-eyed parents. And I think that that was a very insightful observation by Jimmy Stewart who had certainly seen his fair share of both of those.
SMERCONISH: Let me say this, I'm for Tiger. I want a redemption story. I followed him around at the U.S. Open a couple years ago on all four or five days. Am I going to get what I'm looking for?
BENEDICT: We sure hope so. In the last chapter of our book, you know, we talked about it opens in a locked bathroom in 2009. The last scene of our book takes place at Torrey Pines just two months ago. It's Tiger's return to the PGA Tour. And we were so -- by the time we got to that point in the book, both of Armen and I were so impressed frankly by this man's comeback.
Forget golf for a second. I mean, it's great that he's going to play in the Masters and he might win. He could win. We hope he does win. But what's far more important and I think transcends golf and sports is the human comeback of Tiger Woods. If you look at what this man has been through in the last nine years of his life, everything from the infidelity crisis to the opioid problem to four back surgeries and being away from the game, to be where he is now, when you see him, it's clear he is a different person.
He is a new man. He is 42 years old. He is a happy father. And he's got his swing back. And I think it's a great American story.
SMERCONISH: I agree. Hey, Jeff, thank you. And we all -- you know, after seeing somebody bottom out, we want to see them rise again like the phoenix. So anyway, thank you. The book is terrific and I wish you good things.
BENEDICT: Thank you.
SMERCONISH: Still to come, former Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens advocates repealing the Second Amendment, but in doing so is he actually hurting the cause of gun reform?
Remember, if you haven't yet done so, go to my Web site, this is my final call now. Go to Smerconish.com, answer this question. Is Roseanne's rating success Tuesday night more attributable, more attributable, to the show's politics or the show's quality? I'll give you results in just a couple of minutes.
[10:42:19] SMERCONISH: It's not often a former Supreme Court justice publishes an op-ed in the "New York Times" weighing in on the Constitution, but that happened this week when 97-year-old John Paul Stevens who stepped down in 2010 published an opinion piece that the Second Amendment should be abolished. But that extreme view played right into the hands of NRA diehards who have already worried the talk of reform would inevitably lead to their guns being, quote, "taken away."
When there is constitutional issues like this to be wrestled with, my go-to guy is Jeffrey Rosen. He's the president and CEO of the National Constitution Center. He's also a professor at George Washington Law School and a contributing editor at the "Atlantic." And, as if that's not enough, he just published the latest book in the "American Presidents" series on number 27, "William Howard Taft."
Hey, Jeffrey, I say it's unusual. Does it ever happen? I mean, this is like a former president weighing in on their predecessor right after they leave office. And that doesn't take place.
JEFFREY ROSEN, PRESIDENT AND CEO, NATIONAL CONSTITUTION CENTER: I can't think of a justice writing an op-ed calling for the repeal of a constitutional amendment before. The historical precedent that comes to mind is Chief Justice Taney who ruled against Lincoln, no one is listening to him so he self-publishes his own opinion in the Merryman case hoping someone will pay attention to it. But generally justices call for decisions to be overturned in their decisions themselves. So this is a remarkable and striking departure.
SMERCONISH: Take us back to civics class. Remind us what's necessary for the repeal of a constitutional amendment. ROSEN: It's a very hard thing to do. Generally you need two-thirds
of both Houses of Congress to propose the amendment and three quarters of the state legislatures to approve it. Therefore Justice Stevens' claim in his op-ed that repeal of the Second Amendment would be easy seems overly optimistic.
SMERCONISH: And to the point that Lawrence Tribe and other makes that this is the worst strategy because it plays politically speaking into the hands of the NRA, provide me your assessment.
ROSEN: I think Professor Tribe is correct. The core meaning of the Second Amendment agreed to by liberals and conservatives was to prevent the federal government from taking away these arms of citizens so they could defend themselves against federal tyranny. You can get that from the National Constitution Center's Interactive Constitution, check out the app, where the top liberal and conservative scholars, Nelson Lund and Adam Winkler, agree about that.
So a concern about total disarming of the citizens is at the core of the Second Amendment. This is what the NRA is constantly warning will happen. And what is so striking about this proposal is it's completely unnecessary. In the Heller opinion that Justice Stevens dissented from in 2008, the Supreme Court said that reasonable regulations of guns ranging from preventing guns in school and having background checks and so forth are perfectly constitutional.
[09:45:11] And furthermore, 44 states allow open carry even though the Supreme Court hasn't said that's constitutionally required so in other words you could pass all of the gun control regulations that Justice Stevens is calling for without repealing the Second Amendment and to call for the Second Amendment would indeed inflame our politics to a degree that we haven't seen since "Roe v. Wade."
SMERCONISH: The 2008 Heller decision to which you just referred is the only case in the modern era. Perhaps the only case where the Supreme Court really has drilled down on what does it mean a well regulated militia. And what did they decide?
ROSEN: They decided that the Second Amendment has in its core an individual right which includes the right of self-defense, but that nevertheless reasonable regulations are perfectly OK. And Justice Scalia singled out regulations of guns in schools or in hospitals, regulations of unusual weapons that are in general use such as assault weapons and background checks and so forth.
So in other words, if we have a gun control problem in this country, it's not the fault of Supreme Court, it's the fault of Congress and the state legislatures that are refusing to pass the kinds of reasonable regulations that the Supreme Court said was OK.
And I really do want listeners to check out the Interactive Constitution, you'll see areas of agreement and disagreement for this core concern with not having the citizens disarmed by the federal government was at the historic center of the meaning of the amendment at the time of the framing. SMERCONISH: Hey, Jeffrey, I have only 30 seconds left, but I want to
say this, this is important. I read your Taft book and I think it's excellent. It was a reminder to me that there has been a role reversal of our two parties in terms of who are the protectionists.
ROSEN: Yes, it's remarkable that President Taft tried to lower the tariffs, to increase corporate taxes, and to balance the budget. The Republicans before him had been the protectionist party. He set the GOP down a path toward free trade that prevailed until the 2016 election. And I argued that Taft was our most judicial president and presidential chief justice trying to defend the office against new populist threats represented by Wilson and Roosevelt that we are seeing resurrected in America today. So he can teach us a lot about our current vexations.
SMERCONISH: All I remembered is he is the one who never wanted to president.
Jeffrey, thank you. Appreciate you being here.
ROSEN: Thank you, Michael, as always.
SMERCONISH: Still to come, your best and worst tweets and Facebook comments. So what do we got?
"Unfortunately, it's this kind of talk that makes conversation about commonsense gun laws difficult. It's swinging the pendulum too far."
Well, Tonya Lucas, you're absolutely right, and that's Lawrence Tribe's position at Harvard is to say Justice Stevens, don't do it, because all you are doing politically speaking is playing into the hands of the NRA because this is what they've been telling people we've wanted for years and we don't. It's unnecessary and it's impractical.
Remember, if you haven't gone -- if you've not yet been to my Web site, it's Smerconish.com, go there immediately and cast a ballot in the poll question of the day because I am about to give you the result. Roseanne's rating success, which is it more attributable to, the show's politics or the show's quality?
[09:52:49] SMERCONISH: Hey, let's do this. Time to see how you responded to the survey question at Smerconish.com. Which is Roseanne's rating success more attributable to? Survey says, 10,000 and -- come on. Come on. How can that be? 10,007 votes, a 50-50 statistical tie. That's unbelievable. All right. I'll leave it up. Keep voting. I'll leave it up throughout the course of the weekend.
What else do we have in terms of social media reaction? That is too funny. Well, look, it's a divided audience. I love that. I love the fact that it's an audience that is reaching all sides. And I mean mine, not hers. So true.
"You don't have to hate those you disagree with. I'm tired of the boycott mentality. I love the real Roseanne even though I disagree with her politics."
Look, Chris, my opening commentary point was simply to say that many of our holiday tables last night or tomorrow, we're going to have people of mixed views, right? And we love them nonetheless. They're our friends and they're our family. As I say, I will be a butter knife away from people who are of all political persuasions and perspectives.
Give me another one. "Michael, you are carrying the water of this president. And can you please stop being the Trump basher -- you keep carrying the water of the president and can you please stop being the Trump basher in chief?"
Lewis, welcome to my world. It's unbelievable how people will come to such opposite conclusions like oh, you're for Trump. Oh, you're so unfair to Trump. I'm simply here calling it as I see it. Week in and week out. And by the way, I find it remarkable that given the coverage that he has been afforded, his numbers are on the rise. And that requires some discussion which we had.
Give me another one. "Donald Trump's vendetta against Jeff Bezos and Amazon is 100 percent political and should be below a U.S. president. Sadly, not this one."
Hey, Bob, that's the way I feel in terms of how he's targeted Time Warner ala CNN because of the AT&T merger. So in that regard, I fear that you are correct.
[09:55:02] Hey, before we go, I want to send get well wishes to my friend and friend of this program, Arnold Schwarzenegger, who I just interviewed here last week. On Friday he went into the hospital in L.A. for heart surgery to replace a valve for a congenital heart defect. Now of course after the surgery, Arnold being Arnold, his first words when he woke up, "I'm back."
Well, here's hoping for a very speedy recovery, Governator.
Everybody else, have a great week. Happy Passover, happy Easter.
CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning. So grateful to have you with us here on this Saturday, 10:00. I'm Christi Paul.
VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Victor Blackwell, CNN NEWSROOM begins right now.