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Wasting Police Resources; The Damage Smollett Has Done; Smollett Suspended From "Empire" After Hate Crime Hoax; When Mueller Files His Report, What Will We See? Does Stone Indictment Mean Trump Will Escape Collusion Charge?; How Will AG Barr Handle Mueller's Report; Does Bernie Sanders Best Represent 2020 Dems?; Why Are White Male Dems Hesitating To Run?; Combing Through Klobuchar's Past; Nike Sneaker Fail; Is Recycling A Waste?. Aired 9-10a ET

Aired February 23, 2019 - 09:00   ET



MICHAEL SMERCONISH, CNN HOST, SMERCONISH: I'm Michael Smerconish in Philadelphia. We welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. I want to link two of the hottest stories in the country, Robert Kraft and Jussie Smollett. News broke Friday that Patriots owner Robert Kraft was charged with misdemeanor solicitation of prostitution. There are reportedly hundreds of arrest warrants and some reports say Kraft is not the most well known person entangled.

News reports have all the elements, sex, money, stakeout, allegedly even videotape. My take, legalize it. In a world where men and women swipe right for companionship and send nude selfies before showing off the real thing, surely an exchange of money for sex between consenting adults is not an absurd suggestion. Like pot, prostitution should be legal, cleaned up, regulated so that those working in the industry are healthy and being paid fairly.

Now, let me be clear, of course, no woman should be forced into this line of work and anyone who would attempt to make them indentured servants should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law, but not a 77-year-old guy who lost his wife of 48 years back in 2011. As it is, and as I tweeted, it represents the largest waste of resources since Jussie Smollett.

Now, about that case, I was in Chicago on Thursday, the morning after "Empire" actor Smollett was charged with disorderly conduct, a felony, for filing a false police report involving an alleged hate crime against him. and that was the lead story, page one, above the fold, of the "Chicago Tribune," which was bad timing for "USA Today" and for the rest of us because that was the same day that paper published a lengthy investigative piece about an examination of 900 college yearbooks across the country.

This nationwide review involved 78 reporters across 25 states and reporters collected more than 200 examples of offensive or racist material from public universities in the south, Ivy League schools in the northeast, liberal arts boutiques and Division I powerhouses. And the analysis proved something that I recently posited here. Namely that there's nothing unique about Virginia when it comes to blackface. The editor of "USA Today" herself needed to apologize when the 1988- 1989 yearbook at Arizona State University, which she was involved in publishing, was revealed to include a photograph of two people at a Halloween party in black makeup dressed as Mike Tyson and Robin Givens.

The "USA Today" investigative work should have dominated the conversation on Thursday. You'd think the documentation of widespread racist images would be a time for national dialogue, but it wasn't because all of the oxygen was taken out of the room by Jussie Smollett's alleged hoax. That's the damage he inflicted. If the Chicago police are correct and he made it up, his victims are people of color and gays who are the real targets of hate crimes and he robbed us all of opportunity for reflection like that which "Usa Today" sought to provide, even to the detriment of its own editor.

Joining me now is "Entertainment Tonight" host Nischelle Turner. Nischelle ...


SMERCONISH: ... Jussie Smollett, does he ever work in this town again?

TURNER: Wow. Someone asked me that question yesterday and I said it's going to be a tough road back for him. Now, people have come back from crazier things and other sort of scandals like this, think Mel Gibson, think back in the day, Robert Downey Jr., they have come back and resurrected their careers when they've had different scandals.

This is so fresh. It's so new. It's such a charged environment right now and what he is alleged to have made up involves race, involves homophobia, involves all of those really hot button topics right now. I think it's going to be extremely hard for him, especially if he is convicted of this, to ever come back and work in Hollywood again because, of course, the general consensus in Hollywood is that it is a liberal town who embraces everybody ...


TURNER: And for someone to make something like that up, they would become a pariah.

SMERCONISH: If he did it, if he's convicted, then the longer that he avoids an admission and contrition and seeking redemption, then the worse off that he is. Maybe I'm naive, but we do love a comeback story.


SMERCONISH: And he's got every right, if he didn't do it, of course, he should deny it. but we love a comeback story and I can't help but thinking if there were a very quick admission and seeking of contrition, in the long term, people might be receptive to that.

TURNER: Yes. I mean, you know, I do -- I'm a believer in second chances as well. And I should say, full disclosure, I do know Jussie, I'm friendly with him ...


TURNER: And, you know, Wolf Blitzer asked me the other day, well, if he did it and if he -- if he apologized to you, would you forgive him?

[09:05:02] Of course, because we all deserve second chances and lest I be the one to say, no, no, no, when I've needed to ask for forgiveness in my life. So I think you're right in that respect that if there was a situation where he said, OK, maybe I will admit to this -- and again, he is denying it all. He is doubling, tripling, quadrupling down and maintaining his innocence.

But if there was a situation to where he said, OK, I did this and he really was contrite, went on an apology tour and did the works behind it, because he would, if in fact, if he did this and he would have a lot of work, a lot of repair work in so many different arenas to do.

SMERCONISH: As things stand, he is denying the charges. Did the studio have an alternative? I mean, some might argue that he's entitled to a presumption of innocence and they should have let him keep working

TURNER: Well, you know, I think -- I think they were up until yesterday. I think that they were standing behind him vigorously. I mean, you saw several statements by the studios, by the writers at "Empire," by the executive producers all saying, we believe in him. He is a part of our family. Then, once the spectacle at court happened, once he was charged and went back to work and then had this really emotional, you know, time with the cast and crew, saying to them I'm sorry for what you've been through, but still maintaining his innocence, I think that everybody was split.

And at that point, I think that the executive producer said, this work environment right now is so divisive and so charged, we've just got to figure out the best way forward for the majority of us to get through this season. So what do we do? Do we keep making this a really tough spectacle for one person or do we say, all right, let's take the rest of everybody, do the best we can and deal with this later? And I think, you know, that's what they did.

But I'm interested to see how this plays out because Jamal Lyons is one of the central characters of that show. So pulling him out, recreating the entire story line, is going to be something to see how they figure this one out. I'm not really sure how they do it.

SMERCONISH: Is there -- is there a road map for this? I'm thinking Roseanne ...


SMERCONISH: ... I'm thinking Charlie Sheen, I'm thinking Kevin Spacey, but it doesn't seem to line up with any one of those.

TURNER: Yes. You know, it doesn't and I've heard a lot of people throw out the, well, listen, Roseanne got fired. Why shouldn't he get fired? And I think that that's a nuanced conversation that people can have. I don't know. I really don't know. I mean, people in Hollywood, as well as myself, and I cover this, are really just gobsmacked by this, Michael.

I mean, nobody understands what happened here because the idea of who we thought Jussie Smollett was, I've never heard anyone until all of this say a bad word about him. He is widely known as the most generous, kind, funny, engaging guy in Hollywood. I mean, and an activist, a musician, an actor, all of those things, come from a great family and now this. So nobody knows what to do with it or where to put it. You know what I'm saying? It's really odd.

SMERCONISH: I know what you're saying and what I find offensive are those who, for political purposes from either side ...

TURNER: Absolutely.

SMERCONISH: ... find glee in this situation.

TURNER: Absolutely.

SMERCONISH: Because here's one thing I think we should agree on. Whatever occurred, it's sad. It's a sad story.

TURNER: I agree with you. And I said this on the air, we're making this right and left and I think we need to be talking about right up and wrong and that's what's really -- and to -- and to be fair, if, in fact, this is true, I do believe that Jussie thrust this political conversation into this by saying, they said this is MAGA country, that type of thing.

SMERCONISH: Right. For sure.

TURNER: So that, it becomes politically charged.


TURNER: And people take sides right there.


TURNER: But I do think that it has become a bit of a political football, this whole issue here, and he has become the poster child for all things that the right looks at and blames and then, you know, Trump supporters become all things that the left look at and blame and it just doesn't make this -- it doesn't fix it. You know what I'm saying? It doesn't fix it at all.


TURNER: And it just makes it worse and mucks it up even more. But I will say this, you mentioned something at the top and you said if, in fact, he did this, he made this -- all he did was make it worse for, you know, young black, gay folks who ...

SMERCONISH: Yes. Yes. TURNER: ... and to a certain extent, I agree, but I also say that if you out there, if you go into a situation and say, I don't believe you now because of Jussie Smollett, you didn't believe people in the first place. I think that that's a cop-out. I think that it's a coward way out and there's in no circumstance where you can say Jussie Smollett said something or did something or lied, so, therefore, all you all lie. I don't -- I don't lie (ph).

SMERCONISH: Nischelle, thank you. I appreciate your commentary.

[09:10:03] TURNER: Absolutely.

SMERCONISH: What are your thoughts? Tweet me @Smerconish or go to my Facebook page and I will read some responses throughout the course of the program. What do we have? "Smerconish, of course you don't because you do you not see the real victim here, the women forced to perform sex acts on gross old men."

Nan, you clearly weren't listening to my commentary because in my commentary -- put that camera back on me. I want to make this point. I clearly said no woman should be forced into this line of employment and to the extent that's what went on here, then those who forced them into a life of indentured servitude should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law, but that's not a 77-year-old guy named Robert Kraft. Just saying.

Up ahead, we learned that Mueller's report is not coming out next week, but will there be any evidence of collusion or will the President be vindicated?

And Bernie Sanders jumps back into the race only to stumble on a question about whether he best represents the Democratic party. Does he have a white male problem?

Plus, could this college hoop star's disintegrating Nike finally dissolve the NCAA's rules against players making money? I'll explain.


[09:15:02] SMERCONISH: We learned last night that Special Counsel Robert Mueller's special report is not coming out next week and the sentencing memo submitted to the judge last night in Paul Manafort's case, which many thought would reveal intriguing details, remains under seal. But whenever Mueller's report is delivered, my question is what will we, the public, actually see?

Mueller's required to, quote, "provide the attorney general with a confidential report explaining the prosecution or declination decisions reached by the Special Counsel," and then it'll be up to the newly appointed attorney general, William Barr, what happens to that report. Will there be any evidence of collusion or will the President be vindicated? In either case, what is the possible political fallout?

Joining me now to discuss is Jonathan Turley, the constitutional law scholar and professor of law at George Washington University. Professor, permit me a long set-up because I know what I want to ask you and it's this. If a collusion conspiracy case is to be made, you'd think that Roger Stone would factor in it, but he wasn't indicted for that. He was indicted for these so-called process crimes. You can say, OK, well, the Feds can charge successively, but now comes word that Mueller is finishing up. So doesn't the absence of additional indictments against Stone suggest, as the President would say, no collusion?

JONATHAN TURLEY, PROFESSOR OF LAW, GEORGE WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY: Well, it does. I mean, you have to call them as you see them. There is no evidence thus far of collusion between the Trump campaign or President Trump and the Russians in hacking these computer systems.

And moreover, it's really quite unlikely, right? If you were a KGB spymaster, would you really collude with Donald Trump and put yourself one tweet away from destruction on perhaps the most secret operation in its recent history? The answer is no, they wouldn't do that. Would you hold a hypersensitive meeting at Trump Tower with half the media downstairs and not actually produce the evidence promised and instead talk about adoptions? No.

The most obviously explanation is probably the right one, that there was not collusion in the hacking of the system. Now, what appears to be the case is that Stone wanted to get access to this information. That's not illegal. Journalists, political operatives, even academics all try to get their hands on material like this, whether it's whistle-blowing or whether it came from one source or another. There is nothing illegal in that. And so I think that so far, we're one collusion short of making that case.

SMERCONISH: OK. So, and I can only imagine the blowback that the two of us will get for delving into the details. It's OK. I just want to follow the facts. But how about this. So you've got Manafort and Kilimnik at a cigar bar in New York City, but, again, I'm looking at it from 30,000 feet and I say, if Mueller were going to indict Manafort for collusion, conspiracy more literally, that would have happened by now and it hasn't.

TURLEY: Yes. What's fascinating, Michael, is I wrote a column recently that Mueller has done a better job finding Ukrainian collusion than Russian collusion.


TURLEY: I mean, what's astonishing in all of these filings is how many Ukrainians are involved. I mean, Manafort was in the pocket of the Ukrainians. Now, it's true many of them were pro-Russians, but their interests were not identical to that of Russia. There was a lot of different Ukrainians and contracts going to Ukraine that were floating around here, but there really still is not that critical piece of evidence that shows some collusion before the hacking. What is clear is that many people wanted to see these e-mails, but so did a lot of journalists.

SMERCONISH: So let's talk about the President for a moment. Bill Barr, in his confirmation hearing, I thought had a very interesting exchange. Roll that tape. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WILLIAM BARR, ATTORNEY GENERAL: And the other thing is if you're not going to indict someone, then you don't stand up there and unload negative information about the person. That's not the way the Department of Justice does business. It sort of shows you what happens when you start disregarding the normal procedures and established practice is that you sort of dig yourself a deeper and deeper hole.


SMERCONISH: Professor Turley, he's talking about Jim Comey.

TURLEY: Right (ph).

SMERCONISH: Not by name, but I hear him saying, I'm not pulling a Comey. I'm not going to hammer Hillary without indicting her. So apply that now to the current president.

TURLEY: Yes. For full disclosure, I testified after Bill Barr at that hearing in favor of his confirmation. He is also is my former client and I represented a bunch of former attorneys general. But Bill Barr means it. You know, the senators asked me at that same hearing, why won't he commit to releasing the whole report? And I said, because that would be unethical. You're asking, as a condition for confirmation, for him to promise to do something he can't promise. Under federal law, he has to review the report, he has to remove certain types of evidence.

[09:20:01] So if he had said yes to that, then I would have opposed his confirmation and he didn't because he's an ethical lawyer. Bill Barr is -- I got to tell you, I've known him for many years. You can take it to the bank, what he said. He's going to try to disclose as much as possible. Does that mean he's going to do a Comey? No. He is a really straight shooting prosecutor. He's friends with Mueller, you know, and they are cut from the same bolt in that sense.

So I think that he's going to try to get as much out as possible, but under the law, it says that he supplies a summary as to what was stated. Now, Michael, as you know, that's not going to satisfy anyone. No matter how full some of that summary may be, the Democrats in the House may then try to subpoena the whole report and/or bring in Mueller.

SMERCONISH: Give me the 20-second answer, what of the prospect that there are sealed indictments out there that are going to blow the doors off all of this?

TURLEY: Oh, there is a possibility of that. I am not discounting that Mueller could have sealed indictments or actually bring down an indictment next week. There is a certain strategic value in holding off some indictments to the very end. What is clear is that he's winding down on this report and we're going to have some answers, one way or the other, sooner than later.

SMERCONISH: We should be giving out your e-mail address today, not mine, Professor Turley. Thank you for being here. I appreciate it very much.

TURLEY: Thanks, Michael.

SMERCONISH: Let's see what you're saying via my social media, Twitter and Facebook pages. What do you have, Catherine? "Smerconish, I just want all of this to be over. I'm tired and getting old. I hope I can muster some optimism for the future before I die." David, I think you will soon get your wish. I've been saying for quite some time it feels like we're in the 11th hour, but this time it really appears to be the case.

Up ahead, Senator Bernie Sanders entered the race again and immediately raised a lot of money, but also some questions about where he stands on race and gender issues.

Meanwhile, "The New York Times" reporting another contender. Amy Klobuchar under fire for how she treats her staff. In one memorable incident, she ate a salad with a comb and then asked a staffer to clean it.




SMERCONISH: In his first 24 hours as a 2020 presidential candidate, Senator Bernie Sanders raised $6 million from more than 225,000 donors, far outpacing the others who have jumped in the race. But he also immediately got into hot water for his response when asked if he thought he best represented the current democratic party.


BERNIE SANDERS, UNITES STATES SENATOR: We have got to look at candidates, you know, not by the color of their skin, not by -- not by their sexual orientation or their gender and not by their age. I mean, I think we have got to try to move us toward a non-discriminatory society which looks at people based on their abilities, based on what they stand for.


SMERCONISH: You might not find that objectionable, but it received blowback from Democratic women on Twitter like Neera Tanden, President of the Liberal think tank Center for American Progress, who said, "At a time where folks feel under attack because of who they are, saying race or gender or sexual orientation or identity doesn't matter is not off, it's simply wrong."

Soon after, Sanders was suddenly singing a different tune when asked what he'd look for in a running mate. He said this.


SANDERS: I think we would look for somebody who is maybe not of the same gender that I am and maybe somebody that might be a couple of years younger than me.


SMERCONISH: So apparently gender does matter. This interested me because Sanders is one of only two straight white men who has so far announced, whereas nearly all of those who haven't yet decided are straight white men and Eric Holder. As was pointed out by Bill Scher in this piece in "POLITICO," "How does a straight while male Democrat run for president?" Answer, "Very carefully."

Bill Scher joins me now. He's a contributing editor to "POLITICO Magazine" and contributing editor to "RealClearPolitics." Why does it seem like the white guys, as a group, are hesitant?

BILL SCHER, CONTRIBUTING EDITOR, POLITICO MAGAZINE: Well, I think that Democrats, in general, have a pretty big appetite for a nominee that is going to be an advocate for fighting bigotry, for healing the country along racial and gender lines and if you can embody that, you're partway there. I don't think that means that white males -- straight white males have no shot, by any stretch, nor would I argue that if are you a woman or a person of color, you're getting a free ride. There's plenty of institutional bigotry, sexism, racism that those candidates have to put up with as well.

But for the straight white male candidates like Bernie, there is an extra challenge to communicate how are you going to be the advocate, the representative of a Democratic party that sees itself as the party of civil rights?

SMERCONISH: In your piece for "POLITICO," you drew on Ron Brownstein and his analysis. He's the best of the numbers crunchers and data analyzers, I think, and not just because he's here at CNN. Can we put on the screen and have our guest speak to the Democratic base, at least as it existed in 2016 and how that factors into this, the composition of the voting electorate?

SCHER: Well, the -- as Brownstein found, the Democratic primary electorate is almost 60 percent women, it is over a third non-white and it's over a third college educated white, which is a particularly Liberal segment of the Democratic electorate.


So you can see from that there's a big opening for candidate who don't fit the traditional straight white male model.

However, you look at the current primary polling, who are the top two candidates? Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders. You take all the straight white males who are in the field, they take them about two-thirds of support as it stands today.

That's not the end of the story, it's not necessarily predictive but it shows that there is plenty of opportunity for, you know, non-white voters and female voters to support straight white male candidates. So no one suggested they are being chased out of the party but they do have to communicate what are they going to bring to the table in terms of these issues.

SMERCONISH: Bill, front page story of the "New York Times" I think is the talker of the day. It's a discussion about how Senator Klobuchar has interacted with her staff. It begins with an anecdote about getting on an airplane and a staffer losing a fork for Senator Klobuchar's salad. The senator according to "Times" proceed to eat her salad with her own comb and then to ask the staffer to clean it.

I can imagine some people are going to say, well, that's sexist reporting. Would they be writing that kind of anecdote about a man? I can imagine my Monday radio program where I will be asking listeners which is more gross to eat a salad with a comb or ask somebody else to clean the comb, what thoughts do have?

SCHER: Every candidate -- almost every candidate is going to have some moment where a story like this some kind of scandal or quasi- scandal of varying degrees of severity is going to crop up. And the challenge for that candidate is, how do you handle it?

You are looking at 2008, when the Jeremiah Wright videos came out and people took a breath how is Barack Obama going to deal with this and he came out with speech of a lifetime about race in America. A lot of Democratic voters said, OK, this guy knows how to handle what gets thrown at him.

Hillary Clinton at the start of her campaign gets hit with the allegations about her private e-mail server. She has a press conference, very unsatisfying, doesn't put the questions to bed, and it hangs over her for the entirety of the campaign so I think voters are going to want to see, how do you deal with this stuff.

Elizabeth Warren has already had a tough go with falling into Trump's Pocahontas trap and that's definitely limited her ability to break out of the pack so far.


SCHER: Now it's Klobuchar's turn.

SMERCONISH: Senator Klobuchar -- well, her answer is, you know, because this guy brought out in the CNN town hall meeting among other places is, she says, look, I'm a hard worker, I'm demanding of myself and I'm demanding of staff. But I'm telling you, this is something that's hard to get out of your head. Saying to a staffer, I just ate a salad with my comb, go clean my comb?

SCHER: That's the thing she has to worry about. Are there going to be individual incidents that seep out that make her look either weird or abusive? I don't know.

This is the one that's going to be the end of it for her. So far as you point out, she has had an answer for this. She turns the table and suggests so --

SMERCONISH: Yes. SCHER: -- it shows how demanding she, that she has high standards, she has high standards for the country, she has high standards as president. If there is more drip, drip, drip, if there is a staffer that comes on camera and articulates a particular story that seems horrific that might be harder to Klobuchar to deal with.

SMERCONISH: Bill Scher, thanks for being here.

SCHER: My pleasure. Take care.

SMERCONISH: Let's check in on your tweets and Facebook comments, what do we have?

"Smerconish, of course, it's defensible. She's a super buy woman and the staffer's only on job get a freaking edible salad. She was probably pissed. A man does this and there's no story. Woman not allowed to be tough bosses? Should she have used her hands? I thought very resourceful using a comb."

AK, if we're really having the conversation and I guess we are did the comb get cleaned before it went in the salad?

Still to come, 30 seconds into a game the sneaker of Duke basketball star Zion Williamson shredded. It both twisted his ankle and reignited the debate about why is it that the only people not to make money, not to make money off college sports are the athletes?

Plus, I was shocked to learn that more than half the recycling in my hometown goes straight to the incinerator, is everything we think about recycling wrong?



SMERCONISH: Could a torn sneaker finally ignite a long overdue revolution and show college athletes the money?

The incident happened on national T.V., 30 seconds into the biggest game of the season, Duke-North Carolina, college basketball's biggest star 285 pound Duke freshman Zion Williamson pivoted with the ball and his Nike sneaker basically disintegrated. His foot popped out.

But it also shown the spotlight on the influence the shoe company money has over college basketball. While Nike pays Duke millions of dollars to keep its athletes exclusively in Nike footwear the students themselves seen none of the money. Williamson's case raises issues about the fairness of that and of the fact that players like him are prohibited by the NBA from going pro straight from high school.

Joining me now the perfect person to discuss all of this Joe Nocera, "Bloomberg" opinion columnist and author of "Indentured: The Inside Story of the Rebellion Against the NCAA." Joe, do you think this will be a turning point in a cause you've long been advocating?

[09:40:04] JOE NOCERA, AUTHOR, "INDENTURED: THE INSIDE STORY OF THE REBELLION AGAINST THE NCAA": I think it's a minor turning point in the sense that people are talking about it and thinking about it. I don't think it's going to be a turning point in terms of what the NCAA does or even what the NBA does, although, I will say, and I think this is really important to know that just the other day, the NBA and the NBA Players Association have started talking about lowering the age of the draft to 18-years-old. That's the game changer.

SMERCONISH: Right. But then I guess you are inclined to go straight into the NBA and bypass a college education. Now I'm doing your bidding. But in a perfect world, we'd rather they get an education and then those who can go to the NBA.

NOCERA: Absolutely. No question about it. That would be the best of all possible worlds.

Right now the problem for Zion and every other good player is that they don't get paid and they are, they have a lot of economic value as this incident proved. I mean, this is the best player in college basketball. He's a freshman.

Imagine if he had gotten injured so seriously that his career ended? Imagine that. I mean, this guy is going to be worth 50, 60, 70, $80 million as a pro. His insurance I read recently is only $8 million. So, you know, that's a heck of a difference for getting hurt in playing college basketball.

SMERCONISH: Speak to those in the audience who are watching this right now and they're saying, yes, but, they're getting a free ride. In this case, he's getting a Duke education. Why is that not enough compensation for all of them?

NOCERA: Sure, there's basically two reasons. The first reason is, many, many, many, if not most of these players do not get a decent education. They get a terrible education.

They usually major in what I like to call eligibility. They take courses that are simply designed to keep them on the course, simple courses, easy courses, courses that have nothing to do with any kind of real major, it's ridiculous.

But the second reason is a player like Zion Williamson or any other marquee player is worth a heck of a lot more money than simply the cost of that education and so what you are basically saying is that I'm going to future a cap on how much you can make. Anyone in America can reap their own economic value but a college basketball cannot. They can only reap whatever we tell them they can reap.

SMERCONISH: OK. If Zion Williamson is only a minor turning point, final question for Joe Nocera, what would bring about the change that you think is necessary?

NOCERA: There's two possibilities. One, according to California, a judge is about to rule whether the NCAA is in violation of anti-trust law. I think she will rule that and then the question is what the appeals court does. That could blow up the whole system.

The other possibility is this idea that you lower the age to 18. And you have a real minor league in the NBA, which they're talking about the G League which would draw many of the best players to the G League instead of the college. If that were to happen, the NCAA would have to change its business model in order to compete with G League and they'd have to start paying players.

SMERCONISH: Or as you told me when I read your book if any of the final four teams would choose not to come out for the opening buzzer, that would be a wake-up call.

NOCERA: Absolutely. It would take about a half an hour to change the system.

SMERCONISH: Joe Nocera, thank you.

NOCERA: Michael, always a pleasure to talk to you.

SMERCONISH: Up next, everybody thinks recycling is the right thing to do. But my next guest, an environmentalist and college professor says recycling is actually bad for the environment. You are about to find out why.



SMERCONISH: I try to do my part for the environment, separate my recyclables, and when I have too much to be picked up, I drive it myself in my truck to the recycling center. So imagine in my shock what I read both in my local paper and "The Guardian" that half of Philadelphia's recyclables are now being burned in an incinerator.

The explanation, China, until recently, China had been taking about 40 percent of U.S. paper, plastics and other recyclables, but in January of 2018, China implemented a strict none contamination policy that most American cities can't meet. The economic fallout massive, by way of example. In Philadelphia the city has gone from getting paid for its recyclables to having to pay to get them taken away.

Joining me now is Trevor Zink. He's an assistant professor of management at Loyola Marymount University. Trevor, many of us who recycle we think we're doing right by the environment but you challenge that assumption.


And I think you are right to be shocked about the news article from Philly and I think it's right to be upset that people are being misled about what's going on with their recycling. But I think over what I found over the course of my research is that people are being misled on a much broader scale and in general about recycling.

SMERCONISH: How so? ZINK: Well, most people think that recycling is automatically a good thing that it sort of happens for free environmentally speaking. That when you recycle something, it just sort of goes away, it becomes something new and doesn't create any environmental damage, but that's not the case. Recycling is a complex industrial activity involving collection trucks, sorting facilities, washing facilities, reprocessing, remelting facilities, and all of those activities have significant environmental impacts.


So the only way --


ZINK: Yes. Go ahead.

SMERCONISH: I was going to sway so at our house, you know, it is the paper and it's the plastic that all goes in one particular bin. How do you do it at your place?

ZINK: Well, to be honest, I don't recycle. I'm an avid environmentalist and I don't recycle. And the reason is -- again, in order for recycling to make sense environmentally, what it needs to do is prevent something that's more harmful than itself, so it needs to prevent primary production, making things from raw materials, virgin materials.

And over the course of a decade of research that my colleagues and I have done, we found that that just doesn't happen. Recycling -- there's no guarantee that when you recycle something, it prevents your recycled plastic bottle for instance that it prevents a new bottle being made from crude oil. And furthermore, the reason I don't recycle is partly because of my own research in terms of the inefficacy of recycling.

But more so, it's from behavioral research coming out of Boston University that says that recycling actually subconsciously increases the amount of materials that we consume. It increases our usage and our purchase. And the reason is we think that recycling sort of atones for our sins of consumption, and we know we shouldn't buy the plastic bottle but it is OK, because I will recycle it later. So it removes the incentive to be more frugal with our usage.

SMERCONISH: OK. So what I'm hearing from you is consumption, consumerism is really at the root of this, and subliminally, we're buying a lot of crap because we say, hey, I'll be able to recycle the carton, or the plastic, or whatever it comes in.

What should we be doing? Take the final 30 seconds and tell us what we should be doing.

ZINK: That's exactly right, Michael. And there -- the thing is there are very good environmental decisions people can be making. To purchase less, consume less. Eliminate single use items entirely, eliminate, or reduce meat from the diet. These are all very meaningful things that an individual can do.

But the fact is recycling is not really one of those things. By the time you get to the point where you are deciding what bin to put your trash in, it is too late. The environmental decision happens not at the point of disposal it happens at the point of purchase.

SMERCONISH: Trevor Zink, thank you for your analysis. It is provocative.

ZINK: Thank you very much.

SMERCONISH: Still to come, your best and worst tweets and Facebook comments, like this one.

"Smerconish, I was out for early morning run while visiting my family in Virginia, saw garbage collectors load all the carefully separated recycling into the main truck."

Caroline, I was floored when I saw this report that said 50 percent of Philadelphia's recyclables go straight to the incinerator.

By the way, I have a solution, although I think what he said is very interesting, it should probably be at the root cause that we focus, but maybe, just wondering, we should be recycling one item and having no contamination. If they can't properly separate plastic from glass, et cetera, et cetera, then why don't we just go with glass and do the best that we can in that one area.

Back with more comment in just a sec.



SMERCONISH: My Twitter and Facebook pages are crackling today. What have we got? Put something up there for me.

"I can't believe Smerconish is defending Bob Kraft as an unwitting perp in a sex trafficking ring. Kraft chose these girls because he knows they're voiceless and powerless."

How do you know they're voiceless and powerless? Patricia, respectfully, how do you know they don't choose that life? Look, I said very clearly at the outset of the program that if this is a case of indentured servitude, then those who put those women in that path, their employers, need to be held accountable to the highest extent of the law.

But does he deserve this, seriously? Does he deserve this Kraft American sleaze or ban Bob -- ban Bob for a misdemeanor? Seventy- seven year old guy who was looking for short term companionship? We should ban him?

That's ridiculous. And what a waste of law enforcement resources. No greater waste of law enforcement resources except Jussie Smollett's hoax, alleged hoax. Give me another one.

"Smerconish, awesome job at carrying Trump's water again." Hey, Duckhunter, I'm not here to carry his water, sir. It just occurred to me that if there's a collusion case to be made, seemingly all roads lead through Roger Stone. Right?

The conduit to WikiLeaks and presumably therefore to the Russians. Stone hasn't been prosecuted for any conspiracy which would be the literal charge, he has been prosecuted for the process crimes, so if Mueller is indeed wrapping up, then doesn't that logically say, hey, Mueller has not put together a case for conspiracy.

I'm not carrying the president's water, I'm just offering you some legal analysis that frankly you need to hear.

One more quickly if I've got time. I told you people are fired up today.

"Amy Klobuchar was smart"-- if she -- "was smart she'd market a line of patented salad combs and roll with the punches."

Jonathan, you're right. You're absolutely right. Look, if Amy -- I cannot believe we are talking about this, but we're talking about it because it is the front page of the "Times." If Amy Klobuchar wants to eat a salad with her comb, God bless her.


But guess what? Don't ask somebody else to clean it, because that's gross.

See you next week.