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The Immigration Crisis; Mueller Investigation Losing Steam in Public's Interest; The Dangerous of Partisanship; Public Discourse Losing Civility; Rob Reiner Interview on movie "Shock and Awe"; Does Drug Illegalization Play Role in Immigration Crisis?. Aired 9-10a ET
Aired June 23, 2018 - 09:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
MICHAEL SMERCONISH, CNN HOST: I'm Michael Smerconish in Los Angeles. We welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. The immigration issue tearing at people's hearts and minds to the point where the president made a rare concession, but what's the actual solution on the border mess?
Governor John Kasich is here. And as Special Counsel Robert Mueller continues to toil in secrecy, his poll numbers are dropping. Is America tiring of the Russia probe before Mueller even releases his findings? Plus although Trump's numbers in the GOP are at record- setting highs, is it because those who oppose him are abandoning the party altogether, most recently Steve Schmidt, manager of John McCain's presidential campaign, he's the one who chose Sarah Palin as the running mate.
And now columnist George Will is advocating that everyone vote Democratic in the mid-terms to "quarantine" Trump. And our current culture of incivility has been blamed on everything from the president to Hollywood, social media, and the politically polarized country. What can be done about it? I'll ask filmmaker, actor and activist, Rob Reiner.
But first, there's no doubt the images are upsetting as is the policy. Immigrant children housed in tent cities and/or transported to shelters around the country. I will not defend separating children from parents and I'm pleased that for the first time since I can recall, the president yielded to public opinion. That's a good thing.
People who despise Donald Trump ought to note that on the immigration issue, he listened to reason and changed his mind. People who don't like what the president is doing on other issues should focus on how this happened and try to replicate it. But equally important is to realize that the border crisis, the underlying crisis, is not of Trump's creation.
We cannot allow people's antipathy toward the president and those images and sounds of kids to overshadow the reality that we have a crisis that requires resolution, how to control the borders and make immigration an orderly, legal process.
As Rich Lowry pointed out in National Review, "There is a significant moral cost to not enforcing the border. There's obviously a moral cost to separating a parent from a child and almost everyone would prefer not to do it. But under current policy and with the current resources, the only practical alternative is letting family units who show up at the border live in the country for the duration. Not only does this make a mockery of our laws, it creates an incentive for people to keep bringing children with them."
If an adult files an asylum claim, he or she is likely to be detained longer than the government is legally allowed to hold their children. The current policy is clearly overwhelming the systems to house and sort people and the administration's justification for its policies? It just keeps changing.
But the answer cannot be to allow individuals who arrive with kids to game the system. Last night, I discussed the roots of this whole crisis on Real Time with Bill Maher.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BILL MAHER, TV HOST: The drug war is at the heart of this. The reason why people, even when they know they're going to be facing horrors like Donald Trump at the border, are still willing to make that trek. It's because their own countries are just unlivable.
SMERCONISH: Our interdiction in Mexico and Columbia has caused the re-routing of the drugs through Central America.
SMERCONISH: It's created this horrific environment. I know where you're headed because you've been on this for a long, long time.
SMERCONISH: I think the nation is getting ready for the kind of conversation that you want to have because of the scourge -
MAHER: Well -
SMERCONISH: -- of opioids and heroin in all countries.
MAHER: I couldn't help -
SMERCONISH: Heroin -
SMERCONISH: -- that you used to see on television. Now everybody's within one degree of separation from having a person who is at risk.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SMERCONISH: All right. I want to know what you think. This is a really provocative question at smerconish.com. If the drug trade is partly to blame for the migration crisis from Central America should drugs be de-criminalized? Should drugs be de-criminalized? What might the impact of this issue be on the Republican party?
I spoke earlier with Ohio Governor John Kasich.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SMERCONISH: Governor Kasich, welcome back. Did this border issue just cost Republicans control of the House?
JOHN KASICH, GOVERNOR OF OHIO (R): Well, I - I don't know about that, Michael. I think that, you know, this one has been very, very difficult. I think people understand this when you have children involved who are, you know, separated from their family and they're crying and wailing and this - this one gets kind of to the heart of things as to whether there can be a recovery.
I don't know. There's a lot of things that I thought were going to result in a Republican beginning to question some of what the administration has been doing. You know, this one has really kind of changed things because I understand there was only 58 percent approval on this policy as opposed to 85.
But I'm not sure how - how much the 58 percent really is and if people really understood what was really going on. But Michael here - here's the problem. The problem is in the country, we're just so divided up into our own team. I wear red, you wear blue, we go to the game, we cheer, and you know, this is just not helpful not just on the issue of immigration but across the board on so many issues that need to be addressed that are not being addressed because of partisanship.
But I must say, what people saw was really breathtaking. This is not the America, Michael, that you and I learned about, not only from our parents but our grandparents. A welcoming, caring, loving country. We didn't see it and that's why I believe that people of all stripes were aghast at what they were witnessing.
SMERCONISH: Well I agree with the statement as you just framed it. I'll also say that I worry that antipathy toward the president in some quarters and those images and sounds from the kids have obscured the very real issue that we've got a problem on the border. You know there - there are folks coming here and not playing by the rules and that can't get lost in our analysis.
KASICH: Well it's - there's a humanitarian crisis. You know, when you think about this if people feel as though their families are being threatened by drug lords, by gang members, they're going to leave. You would leave, I would leave. But there is a process to come here and its called that asylum process.
But when you don't have enough of people - enough of the asylum judges, if you don't have a way to take your families, things break down. Michael, here - here's the way I look at this. This is a humanitarian crisis and when you get a crisis like this, you need to get all hands on deck. You need to have everybody that could possibly touch this issue, not just the Border Patrol, not just national security, mental health, all - all the people that would touch this thing need to be put in a room.
Then what do you need to do? Forget the politics. You need to think about the people because that's what the lord wants us to do, to think about the way we would want - that we should treat somebody else. The way we want to be treated, and then you put a policy together that deals with the crisis.
If you do this considering who's going to yell the loudest or what the politics is or who gains politically or who loses politically, it's just a terrible way to do anything. We went through just a little smidget of this in Ohio when we thought we had a major ebola crisis. We just got everybody together, doctors and nurses, public health people, everybody that could possibly be involved and we sat down and said, "What's the right thing to do?"
Now this different than that but just to illustrate when you have a crisis like this, you can't do it piecemeal. You can't leave it to somebody else. The leader of the country needs to say, OK, let's get together, let's figure this out, let's forget the politics. Because you know what? At the end of their lives, they'll be remembered for having done something positive for human beings.
SMERCONISH: He's pointing a finger at the Congress. You served in the Congress for many years.
KASICH: It's time to - it's not time to stop pointing fingers. You got to stop this pointing fingers. Who's - who's fault is it? Let's fix it. We should have fixed DACA long ago. You know, Michael, here's the problem. Here's what's got everybody upset. I'm worried about my primary. I'm worried about my general election.
The country - OK, that's secondary. Let me take care of me first. No, it's his fault, no, it's their fault. How - Michael, in your family, if you operated like that, your family would fall apart. So I'm not interested in whose pointing fingers. Knock it off. We're talking about flesh and blood and a humanitarian crisis on the border of the United States of America.
Get about fixing it, together, everybody.
SMERCONISH: Final question. If I ask you your plan in 2020, you're not going to give me anything. So I'm going to ask a different question. When will you decide - when will you decide your plan for 2020? That you ought to be able to answer.
KASICH: No, I have no way of determining that. I'm just - look, I'm governor, I have six months to go, by the way. We're up over a half a million jobs in our state. We got a couple billion dollars in the bank from $0.89 when I came in, but the beauty of Ohio now, is that people not just at the top but the people from top to bottom have an opportunity to be hopeful and think they - they can have a better life. That's what I'm thinking about now, Michael. I can't tell you the political side of this thing, because frankly I don't know. And even if we were alone, you know, talking about our old days back in Pittsburgh and everything.
And you say, c'mon, tell me. I'd have to say to you, "Michael, I don't know." If you get any ideas, give me a call.
SMERCONISH: I will do that. Governor thank you for being back.
KASICH: Michael, you're the best. Thank you.
SMERCONISH: Thank you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SMERCONISH: So I want to know what you think? Go to my website, it's smerconish.com. Answer this provocative poll question, do it right now. If the drug trade is partly to blame for the migration crisis from Central America, should drugs be de-criminalized? Results at the end of this hour. What are your thoughts? Tweet me @smerconish, go to my Facebook page, I will read some during the course of the program.
"Smerconish, are you selling cocaine or heroin, today? Typical left- wing, Socialist statement?"
No, Kathy (ph), I don't think its coming - I'm not a typical left-wing Socialist. I'm none of those. What I'm saying is let's think smart about this. What's driving the crisis? The crisis is our interdictor efforts in both Mexico and in Columbia, therefore, re-routing all the drugs into Central America.
And its that drug trade and the violence that results from it that is causing these families to want to flee where they're coming from. I mean, you might have said the same thing if I had said 10 years here, isn't it time to de-criminalize marijuana? You probably would have called me a typical left-wing Socialist then.
So far? I think that's working out. I'm only asking whether we're ready to have that conversation. OK? Up ahead, as Robert Mueller grinds it out, new CNN polls show he's losing favor with Americans. Will this dull the impact of any findings? And the poll finds a whopping 90% of Republicans approve of President Trump. But is that because of the growing number who are abandoning the party affiliation altogether like former McCain presidential campaign manager, Steve Schmidt?
And now George Will is calling for a vote against the GOP this November to "quarantine" Trump.
[09:15:42] SMERCONISH: As the Mueller probe wears on, guess who's going down in the polls? That would be Robert Mueller. In the latest CNN poll, approval of how Mueller is handling the Russian investigation stands at 41%. That's down from 44% in May, 48% in March.
While most Americans continue to believe that the Russian efforts to influence the 2016 election is a serious matter that should be investigated, the constant criticism by President Trump seems to be taking its toll? Just this morning, he tweeted this: "Poll numbers plummet on the Democrat inspired and paid for Russian withchunt."
Mueller's own favorable rating is just 32%. Former FBI James Comey stands at 28%. President Trump at 40%. While this investigation, obviously, isn't a popularity contest and he's been operating in utmost secrecy, could this is all impact any impeachment debate if there were to be evidence of high crimes and misdemeanors? Joining me now, Tom Fuentes, the former FBI Assistant Director.
Tom, what are you thinking as you look at that polling data?
THOMAS FUENTES, FORMER FBI ASSISTANT DIRECTOR: Well, I think Michael, it reflects to me that this investigation and all the investigations regarding this issue have just dragged on way too long. You know, the FBI almost two years ago began the - what we now call the "Collusion Investigation of the Trump Campaign." And then now, over a year ago, Mueller takes it over as the Special Counsel.
Where is that at? And we've seen the charges that Mueller has brought Manafort for violations 10 years ago of - of tax violations. We see 13 Russians indicted that, you know, are never going to stand justice in the United States.
And we don't know who, if anybody, they directly colluded with so so far after all of this investigation, we've seen no real evidence or charges that actually prove the original allegation that the Trump campaign or members of the Trump campaign colluded with the Russians.
And I think the public is getting fed up with, not just the Mueller Investigation, but the fact of all of these investigations seem to bring no real resolution. There's all kinds of activity, investigations, and committee hearings and IG reports. My term for this is "dynamic stagnation."
We have all of this dynamic activity, but all of the results are stagnant. Nothing's really changed. And you couple that with the Director of the FBI solution to a handful of senior agents that appear to have, you know, botched or deliberately obstructed the Clinton investigations, e-mail and foundation.
And his answer to that is we need to conduct training for all FBI personnel about the lack of bias. That's absurd.
SMERCONISH: Katherine (ph), put up on the screen the favorable unfavorables for the president, for Special Counsel - there you go. This - I find this interesting. So the president's favorable rating is higher than that of Mueller and Comey, but his unfavorable number is much higher as well.
Bottom line is there are some people who are undecided about Comey and Mueller. But, Tom, I think that this strategy by the president of delaying whether he'll sit down with Mueller while meanwhile - and today, I mean, he's up early and at them again with - with Twitter feed banging him down in a public way, might be part of a calculated strategy.
Because then by the time Mueller does finish the probe, a certain part of the American public is already predisposed not to believe it.
FUENTES: Well, I think that's true but I think that, you know, the president is getting conflicting advice from his varied advisors and legal scholars that have - have gone on the various networks saying he absolutely should not be interviewed - agree to be interviewed by Mueller.
And others that say do it and get it over with or set certain parameters on the type of questions. So I think he's getting conflicting advice and, you know, he's going to do what he's going to do, as we already know about the man. So we're going to have to wait and see with that.
But the longer it drags on where there's no resolution, particularly in the Mueller investigation now or in the IG's investigation, that doesn't help anybody including the president. And we don't know whose investigating what. Is the Clinton Foundation and e-mail investigation re-opened? Is it ongoing? We don't know.
The FISA issue of whether - whether false information was provided to the FISA court to get the - the wire tap, you know, on people on the Trump campaign. Where's that? Is it under investigation? We don't know.
We know that the Utah U.S. attorney has been brought back to Washington to apparently work with the IG because the IG has no authority to have a grand jury or to do undercover operations, wiretaps, any of the sensitive techniques that are routine for the FBI in big cases.
So this U.S. attorney - is he a de facto special counsel? We don't know. So I think that's the problem is now going on almost two years of these investigations, what do we really know and is any real discipline or real action being taken against any of the culprits that have been named such as McCabe or Comey?
SMERCONISH: I'm going to leave you and everybody else with a final thought that you, Tom Fuentes, the ultimate company man when it comes to the FBI first put in my head nine months ago. All this criticism leveled at law enforcement, I worry about the long term implication.
I worry that - that old desire on a local level to bring in the Feds because, you know, the reputation of the federal government and the FBI was such that it was on a pedestal. I hope that's not being tarnished in a permanent kind of way. We'll come back and have this conversation. Thank you, Tom.
FUENTES: Thank you, Mike.
SMERCONISH: Let me see what you're saying via my smerconish Twitter and Facebook pages. What do we have?
"Who cares if people are tiring of Mueller? Time to grow up." I'm not sure what that means, "time to grow up," I guess you're saying, hey, hanging in there for as long as it takes. But I made that observation to Tom Fuentes that perhaps the president's game is, you know, a rope-a-dope.
Remember the old Ali rope-a-dope? Just wear out your opponent because as Mueller is - is still toiling and Trump is banging him publicly, you saw those numbers. It's having a huge impact, at least among some Americans. One more quickly, if I've got time.
"Smerconish, poll on Mueller meaningless. We don't need law enforcement, judges, firefighters to do jobs by popularity polls." No, no, no, Bill (ph), and I need to take a second and explain this. This is where you're wrong because to the extent - remember - remember what's going to happen.
Mueller's going to hand Rosenstein - Rod Rosenstein, the Deputy AG, a report. Rosenstein then is going, presumably, to hand it over to the Congress and these poll numbers are indicative of the public tolerance, willingness to be fair when they judge that report.
In other words, if the cake has already been baked and people just don't want to hear it because they think it's fruit of a poisonous tree, then this is all very relevant to where Mueller ends up. I didn't explain that so well, but hopefully you understand what I'm thinking.
Still to come, when I left the Republican party in 2010, I was ahead of the curve. This week the GOP operative Steve Schmidt who ran McCain's 2008 campaign and chose Sarah Palin as the running mate publicly declared his defection joining the growing ranks that include Joe Scarborough, Mary Matalin, and George Will. Is it finally time to rethink the two party system?
And the immigration debate got ugly fast when Hollywood celebrities joined the uncivil war like this vicious tweet from actor Peter Fonda. Do they help or hurt the cause? I'll ask veteran actor and director, Rob Reiner.
SMERCONISH: Steve Schmidt made national headlines this week when he announced he was quitting the Republican party.
The GOP strategist and now MSNBC analyst who ran John McCain's presidential campaign and notoriously lobbied for Alaskan Governor Sarah Palin to be the V.P. nominee tweeted, "Twenty-nine years and ninth months ago, I registered to vote and became a member of the Republican party which was founded in 1854 to oppose slavery and stand for the dignity of human life. Today I renounce my membership in the Republican Party. It is fully the party of Trump."
Schmidt likened the separation of immigrant children and parents to "the same evil that separated families during slavery and dislocated tribes and broke up Native Americans families." He quoted Ronald Reagan's tombstone that "there is purpose and worth to each and every life," and wrote that Reagan would be "ashamed of McConnell and Ryan and all the rest."
And he concluded "this Independent voter will be aligned with the only party left in America which stands for what is right and decent and remains fidelitous (ph) to our Republic, objective truth, the rule of law, and our allies. That party is the Democratic Party." In later interviews, he also cited Trump's recent friendliness with Kim Jong Un while criticizing allies like Canada.
Schmidt was following in the footsteps of other prominent GOP media figures who have fled the party in the past few years, including Joe Scarborough, Mary Matalin, George Will. Will just wrote an op-ed in the Washington Post that went so far as to advocate voting against the GOP this fall to "quarantine" Trump.
Yours truly was ahead of the curve switching back in 2010. I switched from R to I and I published this essay in the Huffington Post explaining under the headline "For Me, the Party is Over." I wrote then, "The national GOP is a party of exclusion and litmus tests dominated on social issues by the religious right with zero discernible outreach by the national party to anyone who doesn't fit neatly within its parameters. Instead the GOP has extended itself to its fringe while throwing under the bus long standing members."
I similarly explained why I was not comfortable joining the Democratic Party. So Schmidt now joins the 45% of us who don't ID as R's or D's and I say that its time that our voices are represented in closed primary states, on debate stages, and in the media. Joining me now is Kansas Gubernatorial candidate, Greg Orman.
You'll remember he left the Republican party to become an Independent, ran a very close race for the United States Senate in 2014, ultimately loss to Pat Roberston - Pat Roberts, I always say that. Pat Roberts - you didn't beat - you didn't lose to the evangelical leader, Greg.
I always stumble on that, but you're back. React to the news of Steve Schmidt.
GREG ORMAN, CANDIDATE FOR KANSAS GOVERNOR: Well, you know, I think we've seen a lot of these high profile defections from the Republican Party. But, frankly, they're lagging indicators not leading indicators. As you mentioned, you left the party in 2010. The fact is Americans have been leaving both parties in droves, really, since 1998 and - and they're doing it or a range of reasons but most notably because this system of government just isn't working for them. You know, the average American household hasn't seen a pay increase since 1999. Think about that. The amount of time that it takes a child to go from being born to graduating from high school, that's how long its been since the average American has seen household income go up.
And so obviously they're dissatisfied with both parties and they're reacting with their feet.
SMERCONISH: So there are some who will look at you, who will study your record, and they'll say, you know, Greg Orman is - is a smart guy, Princeton educated, successful business man, entrepreneur. But I don't want to waste my vote for him.
I had an exchange on this very issue last night with Bill Maher. Roll the tape and then let Greg reply.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MAHER: In this country we really only have the two choices.
MAHER: We've tried many times to change it and if we were a parliamentary democracy, it would be different.
MAHER: But third parties just wind up making the better party lose too many times, so I - I -
SMERCONISH: I have radio listeners who hold me singly accountable for the election of Donald Trump because I admitted on the air that I didn't vote for him and I didn't vote for her either. I voted for the Libertarian ticket and I'm still proud of that vote. And I say take it up with the 102 million who were eligible and didn't go out and exercise -
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hey -
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SMERCONISH: You get this criticism. What's your response to those who say, you're a smart guy, Greg, you'd be a great public servant but I don't want to waste my vote?
ORMAN: Well, you know I - I think if you look at what's happening in the country today and we certainly see this as we travel throughout Kansas. Voters desperately want something different. They want leaders who are going to tell the truth, who are going to serve them and not special interests and party bosses. And invariably, what's happened is both parties have done a lot of work. It's the one thing they agree on in keeping out competition. And so we're working not only to get people elected but also to break down those barriers that both parties use to deprive voters of legitimate choices. And you and I have had the opportunity to talk about some of the things that we're working on but we're trying to break down those barriers.
But the biggest barrier is psychological. You know 44% of Americans are politically independent. If they just got behind Independent candidates, Independent candidates would start winning. We'd create a third force in our politics and we'd be in a much better position to hold both parties accountable to meet the needs of the American people.
SMERCONISH: If we could just establish a beachhead in the Senate, it would only take three or four I's to be elected, and then they would have to play ball with you to get anything done. All of a sudden, an Independent caucus could hold the cards. Am I naive in thinking that?
ORMAN: No and, in fact, that's exactly what we were trying to accomplish in Kansas in 2014. I was deeply concerned that because we weren't solving problems as a nation that our standard of living, our status in the world, and the very existence of the middle class in America was at risk, but if we could get that fulcrum.
If we could get a few people elected to the U.S. Senate who could mediate between Democrats and Republicans and ultimately determine who the majority leader is and who holds those gavels, we could get the Senate back focused on a problem-solving agenda. You know, we're also looking at the same thing in Kansas with our governor's race.
You know William Allen White, the famed Emporia Gazette editor once said, "When anything's going to happen in America, it's going to happen first in Kansas." And so we're looking to make that happen.
SMERCONISH: Let me just say in closing, we - we may not be a majority, but we, the I's, we are a plurality. Here's where we're deficient and I don't mean Orman and Smerconish, but the passion exists on the fringes. And that's why, you know, we've ceded the debate because they are the loudest voices and that's what has to change.
All the people watching us who say, yes, I don't feel comfortable as an R or as a D need to get off the sofa and into the game. Anyway, good luck and thank you for being back.
ORMAN: Thanks for - thanks for having me.
SMERCONISH: I want to remind you to answer the survey question at smerconish.com. It is provocative one.
I cannot wait to see how this is going to turn out in just about 25 minutes time. If the drug trade is partly to blame for the migration crisis from Central America, should drugs be de-criminalized?
Still to come, lately more and more political celebrities have been going low instead of high. Does the vulgarity diminish their message? I'm about to ask Rob Reiner.
SMERCONISH: The dialogue in America keeps getting increasingly coursened across the board, but most publicly visible in politics and in show biz. Samantha Bee's calling Ivanka Trump the C-word, that lead to an apology; Robert De Niro walked out on stage at the Tonys and dropped the "f" bomb against President Trump. After De Niro's outburst, Frank Bruni wrote this op-ed in "The New York Times" warning Democrats that anger is not the way to win the midterms or to defeat Trump.
He set off a debate about whether the time for civility may have passed. More recently "The Times" attributed this new era of incivility to the President himself, laundry listing Trump's behaviors dating back to the campaign trail. The President is definitely a bad influence, I'm not letting him off the hook, but I trace the origins back further to the early '90s and the rise of a polarized media.
I also think technology has ratcheted things up, the ability to behave badly anonymously or at least not in person and I'm not sure it's really going to anything but make people more defiantly in their corners. I'm big on the time and place outlook of life meaning there's a time and place for certain behaviors and opinions; it's not a popular stance these days. However we got here, we are here now. How do we get out?
Since we are in Hollywood, I thought let's check in with one of its most outspoken citizen, Rob Reiner, the actor from "All In The Family" and director of such classics as "This Is Spinal Tap," "Stand By Me," "The Princess Bride," "When Harry Met Sally," "A Few Good Men," and "The American President." His latest, "Shock and Awe" is about the reporters who uncover the falsehoods behind Iraq's alleged weapons of mass destruction that led us to war. Great to be here. Great to be with you.
ROB REINER, ACTOR AND DIRECTOR: Thanks for having me, Michael.
SMERCONISH: I would be derelict if it didn't ask about "Roseanne" without Roseanne.
REINER: Yes, I'll be curious what they do about that and how they - I mean because there is room for a red state/blue state kind of show. I mean Norman Lear and I were talking about this the other day; we had dinner the other day. And, you know, we're more polarized now then we've ever been, so there is definitely room for that. I will be curious to see how they handle it.
SMERCONISH: In all the states I flew over to get here from Philadelphia, there's a perception when you get to this town, it's about ideology, more so than money. Put that to rest.
REINER: Well, I think it's about issues, for sure. I don't know about ideology. I mean, you are in liberal Hollywood and there's a reason why I believe that artists and film makers and actors are liberal because to be a liberal is to have your mind open. You have to have your mind open to experience all of life, to be able to process it and communicate it in whatever media you are communicating. So, there is a liberal vent here and we are liberal on certain issues. I wouldn't call it ideology, necessarily.
SMERCONISH: Do some of your neighbors and colleagues take it too far? I could go through a laundry list of bad behavior that helped the President. The most recent is this horrific Peter Fonda tweet of Baron Trump in a cage and pedophiles and all that...
REINER: I didn't see that, doesn't sound good. I would say you are on to something here and that I wouldn't put it at the feet of Hollywood. I wouldn't put it, necessarily, at the feet of Trump. It has been coursening over the years and I think social media plays a very big part of that because you can tweet something out or put something on social media and you are kind of hidden, you know?
You kind of don't, you are not right out there, not having to take responsibility for it and I think that gives people license to go further than they might go and certainly, this President, has given us a license to say all kinds of things.
SMERCONISH: Right, but do you subscribe to the Michelle Obama logic when they go low, we go high or fight him on his own turf?
REINER: You have to go high and at the same time, fight. It's a very difficult thing but you have to do both. You can't just be in the mud. You have to hit hard back, but you have to have a high standard.
SMERCONISH: You run the risk of tossing the midterm elections to the GOP, if, in fact, it's perceived as people are beating up on him unnecessarily and unfairly.
REINER: Well you have to energize your base, no question about it. What you don't want to do is energize the other side even more. There's ways of energizing the base that doesn't energize the other side necessarily, and again, you have to strike that balance.
SMERCONISH: How do you walk that fine line is the challenge for people who see the world as you do, politically.
REINER: Well, you have to attack what needs to be attacked and there's a lot to attack in President Trump, but you have to offer a positive message of what we can do to make things better. You can't just say things are bad, things are bad. I used to say, satire. Satire is always tearing things down and it's fine. You tear things down that deserve to be torn down, but you have to say, what would you put in its place? What would you say would be making the world better and you have to present that as well.
SMERCONISH: Your movie "Shock and Awe" which is really a tribute to those who were sounding the alarm about the Iraq invasion, but nobody was listening. You must have made this film because you worry it could happen again.
REINER: Yes. You know, I was of draft age during the Vietnam War. I was against that war as I was against the war in Iraq. I, you know, I couldn't believe in my lifetime, we were about to go to war. This is back in 2003, based on a lie again. It was happening twice in my lifetime. So, I wanted to get this story out of how does this happen? How does the government -- I understand propaganda, every Administration needs propaganda to sell a policy or a rational to go to war.
But, to lie, to know you are lying about things, that, to me, was too much. I worked for a long time to figure out the best way to tell it and I found these four journalists from Knight-Ridder News who got it all right. They figured it out and they couldn't breakthrough.
SMERCONISH: You know, I'm a bit embarrassed because I consider myself to be fairly well read, until I watched "Shock and Awe." I didn't know of their efforts.
REINER: Yes, I didn't either. That's the problem. Here are four journalists doing the principle thing you need to do in journalism and my character in the film says it, if the government says something, you have one question to ask, is it true? That's the job of journalists. So, the fact that these guys were getting it right, were asking those tough questions, getting it right and nobody listened, to me was astounding. That's why I made the movie.
SMERCONISH: Congratulations. Thanks for being here, I appreciate it.
REINER: Thanks, thanks for having me.
SMERCONISH: Still to come, your best and worst tweets and Facebook comments like this. What do we have? "Does vulgarity minimize the message? You're quibbling over the make of weapon used to vanquish a dictator metaphorically." Hey, Frank (ph), unless you think I'm prudish, you should hear me when I'm on a commercial break. I don't think it's effective as a political strategy because I think it adds to the perception that is held in some red states of the piling on of the President, especially by the Hollywood elite.
Still to come, we are about to give the final results of the survey question. You have the last chance to vote at smerconish.com on this provocative issue. If the drug trade is partly to blame for the migration crisis from Central America, should drugs be decriminalized?
SMERCONISH: A friend just texted me and said I kind of missed the logic of legalization. If we legalize heroin, et cetera, won't people still flee to the U.S.? I mean the theory I guess as Bill Maher was expressing last night is you're undermining the illegal drug trade in Central America and, therefore, the stability that would result would cause people to stay in their native country. Well, it's time to see how you responded to the survey question at
smerconish.com. If the drug trade is partly to blame for the migration crisis, should drugs be legalized? 8,000 votes cast, thanks for that. Wow, 59% say yes. Now that's really interesting.
Maher would be thrilled with that, wouldn't he; 59% say yes, if this is what's driving it, then decriminalization is something we should be considering. Maybe that says something about our audience. I don't know. Here is what else you've been saying throughout the course of the program. What do we have?
"Hard drugs should never be legal. Does anyone want them as common as cigarettes and beer? I think it would usher in an unprecedented era of addiction." Jeffrey (ph), may I recommend to you a really good piece and I'll tweet it out as soon as this program is over from "The Guardian" on what's going on in Portugal because Catholic conservative Portugal overwhelmed by an opioid and heroin epidemic did exactly this.
Now of course treatment is a big part of what they're offering. It's not just, hey, let people do drugs. Treatment and recognition of what drives it is a critical component but thus far they've had a very positive result. So do some reading on the Portugal experiment and see what you think.
What else? "Don't be fooled. Your Republican comes through loud and clear." Hey Peach Pie (ph), do you know what's so funny? Like to you my Republican comes through loud and clear. Believe me, I could fill screens from tweets from this hour of people that says I'm so sick of you, the lefty, that they put on CNN. Over the span of a program I think it all comes out in the middle. What else?
"Smerconish, please tell us why have you not joined the Democrat party? Because the D's are not offering me solutions with which I'm comfortable." I'll give you a great example. What exactly is the democratic plan relative to fixing the border? I get everybody kicking the crap out of the President for separating families; I don't want them separating families.
As you heard me say, the underlying crisis is not of his doing. The underlying crisis was created by 20,000 apprehensions at the border going to 50,000 apprehensions this year. That's not because of Donald Trump. I don't like his solution but where is the Democratic alternative? Because I'm paying close attention and I haven't heard it.
You can catch up with us anytime at CNNgo and on demand. I'll see you next week.