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Character Is What You Do When No One Is Watching; Why An Open Mind Is Essential, Even During Divisive Times; How Will Children Catch Up On Education?; WH Offers "Full Support" For Space Force After Dismissive Comments; Interview With Retired Commander Of Air Force Space Command General William Shelton; Sportscasting Legend Bob Costas On Super Bowl LV. Aired 9-10a

Aired February 06, 2021 - 09:00   ET


RYAN NOBLES, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I'm Ryan Nobles on Capitol Hill and this is CNN.

MICHAEL SMERCONISH, CNN HOST: Character, it's what you do when no one is watching. I'm Michael Smerconish in Philadelphia. That quote is widely attributed to the late great Bruin John Wooden and it was on full display this week in Washington. On Wednesday, quite a juxtaposition. Capitol police officer Brian Sicknick laying in honor in the Rotunda where, on January 6, he was victim of an attempted insurrection.

Rioters, intent on overturning an election result due to their belief in conspiracy and as a result of a president's incitement. The night of the Sicknick memorial, one of the spreaders of the very type of conspiracy that gave rise to his death, now herself a member of Congress, was subjected to scrutiny by her GOP colleagues, but rather than being disciplined by her team, she was lauded, some even giving her a standing ovation.

That same night, a separate inquiry began for a different GOP congresswoman, one who thought a president deserving of impeachment for his role in the rioting. As Republicans were voting behind closed doors on whether to remove Liz Cheney from leadership, I tweeted this, "So House Republicans are now voting secretly about Liz Cheney. That might help her. GOPers have no need to show their beer muscles to colleagues and can instead vote for what is really best for the party to support her."

See, I suspected anonymity would provide Cheney the security of her colleagues who could vote without fear of the base that elects them. In the end, 145 of 211 Republicans voted to keep Cheney in leadership, 61 were against. That's quite a change from the vote taken the night of January 6 when the House reconvened after the Capitol had been secured. At stake then was a challenge to the Electoral College, specifically on the certification of the vote from Arizona and Pennsylvania.

In a public vote to certify Pennsylvania, 138 Republicans voted to object to the state's election results. For Arizona, the number was 121 Republicans. In both cases, Republicans voted for what President Trump had advocated, a challenge to the legitimacy of the Electoral College vote. The Electoral College challenge and the Cheney leadership votes, I think, are inconsistent.

Think about it. You can't believe the election was rigged, but also want to protect Liz Cheney for her vote to impeach. Just imagine for a moment you're a Republican in the House, you think the election was stolen. Logically, if you want to overturn the Electoral College, then you'd be upset at Liz Cheney who wanted to impeach Trump for falsely claiming the election was stolen.

But in the light of day, 138 Republicans in the House voted to challenge the Pennsylvania certification, roughly the same number, 145, who, behind closed doors, defended Cheney. So what happened? In the public vote, the members performed. Where their primary mission is renomination in secured districts, they played to the base, all 138 of them.

Ah, but when behind closed doors with nobody watching and no individual accountability, they voted their conscience, that Liz Cheney was right and the Electoral College challenge was bogus. Only 61 disagreed. It was a stunning admission. If the base can't see, 138 becomes 61.

Yesterday, Democratic Congressman Tim Ryan, on my radio show, made this observation.


REP. TIM RYAN (D-OH): It was the most inconsistent thing I've seen in 20 years of being in Congress where we live with inconsistency.


SMERCONISH: OK. So then came Thursday night. The vote by the entire House where Republicans refused to clean their own house, it was left to Democrats to demand a vote on stripping Greene of her committee assignments. Again, in a public vote, one watched by the base, now only 11 Republicans were willing to strip Greene of her committee assignments. I suspect if they'd had the chance to discipline her without the base watching, they'd have done it.

You know who gets what I'm saying? Marjorie Taylor Greene. Here she is yesterday.


REP. MARJORIE TAYLOR GREENE, (R) GEORGIA: I hope that my Republican colleagues really think about what they've done. I'm sure they're going to hear from their voters at home because the base is loyal to President Trump and the base has been very loyal to me and they've shown me that.


SMERCONISH: It all begs the question of whether this Republican fear of the GOP base is warranted. Sadly, the answer is yes. In a Quinnipiac University Survey just released, 76 percent of self- identified Republicans say they believe there was widespread fraud in the 2020 election.

[09:05:04] And according to an Axios Survey Monkey poll, Greene is more popular than Cheney or party leaders Kevin McCarthy and Mitch McConnell, but one question remains. While Marjorie Taylor Greene may have lost this short-term battle, will she and her brand of politics win the war? Since McCarthy and House Republicans failed to police Greene from within, she's positioned herself as a martyr of the conservative cause.

Even while attempting to walk back her past comments on the House floor, she still claimed the mainstream media are just as guilty as QAnon, attacked big tech, cancel culture and Black Lives Matter and she's being rewarded financially.

In late January, Greene said that she'd already raised $1.6 million amid the media's coverage of her controversial comments. She told the "Washington Examiner," "They don't even realize they're helping me. I'm pretty amazed at how dumb they are."

Now, with more free time on her hands, Greene said that she'll boost conservative candidates and former President Donald Trump's plans to oust so-called weak Republicans. If she's right, we could see more Greenes and fewer Cheneys.

Bottom line is this. Republicans decided this week to keep everybody in the tent, Liz Cheney and Marjorie Taylor Greene, instead of disassociating themselves from the fringe. They made a calculation that they cannot win without people like the guy who stormed the Capitol bare chested and wearing horns. That move comes at the expense of winning back people in the burbs who are still Republicans, but couldn't stomach Trump and voted for Biden.

And you have to wonder if, while watching Greene's emboldened presser on Friday, maybe Kevin McCarthy a company had buyer's remorse.

Joining me now is Adam Grant. He's an organizational psychologist at the Wharton School where, for seven straight years, he's been rated the most popular professor. His TED Talks have been viewed over 25 million times. He's the author of the just-released "Think Again: The Power of Knowing What You Don't Know."

Professor, thanks so much for being here. I find that so much of what you write about in this book applies to our political climate. For example, you argue in favor of embracing the joy of being wrong, but that seems the antithesis of the way our politicians as compared to, like I was just describing. Explain.

ADAM GRANT, ORGANIZATIONAL PSYCHOLOGIST/WHARTON PROF. OF MANAGEMENT & PSYCH: Yes, it does. I think too many politicians are afraid of being accused of flip-flopping or hypocrisy. You know who was a great flip- flopper? Abraham Lincoln. He came into office convinced that if he abolished slavery, it would tear the Union apart and I think we're all lucky that he was willing to change his mind on that. But we need our politicians who stick to their principles, but are flexible on their policies. SMERCONISH: I can't think of a politician who, upon reflection and says so, faces the public and says, geez, I've thought about this more or there's new data on this issue and I have changed my mind. Instead, you get derided such as Secretary Kerry, well, he was against the war before he was for it.

GRANT: Yes. I think this is a cultural problem. I think there's too much stigma attached with admitting that you're wrong. It's seen as a sign of weakness when, in fact, last time I checked, it could be a mark that you've learned something. I think if you're committed to being a lifelong learner, you better be evolving your beliefs, otherwise you're not really making any progress.

SMERCONISH: There's a discussion in the book about Red Sox and Yankee fans and all the while I was reading your analysis and your research, I kept thinking about Republicans and Democrats. What can Republicans and Democrats learn from that analysis that I'm referring to?

GRANT: So Tim Kundro and I ran these experiments where we got Red Sox and Yankees fans to abandon some of their animosity toward each other just by imagining would you root for a different team if you'd been raised in a different city?

And we recently extended this to people on opposite sides of the gun debate and found out that if you're somebody who's passionate about gun rights and you think about growing up in Columbine, you actually become a little bit more open to hearing the other side.

And I think that this is different from perspective-taking, right? People are constantly encouraging us to imagine yourself in the other person's shoes and that's just too far of a bridge for most people. What works better is to rewind the events of your own life and say you know what?

If I'm on the other side of this, what would I believe if I had grown up in a hunting family? Probably be a little different and that means that when I look at the other side, I see that one belief they hold as less capturing the essence of who they are.

SMERCONISH: Isn't part of the problem that there's less and less intergroup contact? For example, to put this back in a political context, the members are in session essentially on a Tuesday through Thursday schedule and they follow roughly an old school calendar.


Nobody relocates to D.C., brings the spouse, has cocktails and so forth. It's all about getting into town, getting out of dodge and fundraising, but in your book, you talk about the value of spending time together.

GRANT: Yes. I've talked to members of Congress who are frustrated about this on both sides of the aisle and the evidence is just overwhelming on this, Michael. So in over 700 studies, in 94 percent of the cases, just interacting with the out group is enough to reduce prejudice. There was a recent study looking at Israeli and Palestinian teenagers which shows that when they go to summer camp together, if they just happen to be in the same discussion group or the same bunk, they are 11 to 15 times more likely to develop a real friendship. So we need that contact to get to know each other, respect each other and maybe even understand each other a little bit.

SMERCONISH: I would like to think that someone could read your book and be a practitioner of the advice and get elected to office, but I'm not sure. For example, nuance doesn't seem to go viral.

GRANT: Yes. You know, it's hard. I don't know that there's a simple solution to this, right? Which is proving your point. I think, though, there's no reason why we can't have politicians running experiments to say, all right, I have an idea, it's a hypothesis, I want to go out and test it and if I find out that I was wrong, then I'm going to update my beliefs.

And I think until we run that experiment and we see what happens when a candidate actually puts that forward, we're not really going to know if it's going to work. We do have some evidence, though, from the past that Americans are willing to tolerate this kind of leadership, right? This was FDR's signature -- bold, persistent experimentation. Try something was his philosophy and he didn't know what that something was going to be, but it seemed to give us a new deal.

SMERCONISH: The book is great, "Think Again." I intend to. Thanks, Professor.

GRANT: Thank you.

SMERCONISH: What are your thoughts? Tweet me @Smerconish or go to my Facebook page. I'll read some responses throughout the course of the program. From Twitter, "Michael, your data and logical approach make great sense." Wow. How did this get in there? "But human psychology doesn't do so well with data. You're preaching to the choir. People will see what they want to see and believe what they want to believe. Welcome to our dystopia."

I just thought that this was such a stunning juxtaposition. These two votes which exposed the fraud of how Republicans acted, acted inconsistently when evaluating Liz Cheney and when voting on the Pennsylvania results, and the only conclusion I can reach is that one was done in a public setting and one was, to quote the late great Buddy Rich, "Behind closed doors." And if there were more conduct perhaps behind closed doors, we'd find out what they really think.

Up ahead, have you heard of the COVID slide? It sounds like a dance move, but it refers to the adverse impact of the pandemic on kids' education. Can they ever catch up from the learning they've lost?

I'm about to speak to a Florida state lawmaker who proposes a solution to the COVID slide and that's what prompts today's survey question at Here it is. Given the pandemic, should parents have the power to decide whether their kids should be held back a year in school? Go to and cast a ballot. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)



SMERCONISH: So fast forward to when we have widespread vaccination. School problem solved, right? Not so much. The damage inflicted by many months of unconventional life and learning is very clear. Kids have fallen behind in their education and there's no COVID-19 disaster plan aimed at getting them caught up. A tidal wave of headlines over an increase in failing grades tells part of the story.

For example, some Houston area school districts report that nearly half of middle and high school students are failing in at least one class. North Carolina, a school district, 46 percent of students in grades 3 through 12 failed at least one class, more than double the rate from the same period in the fall of 2019 and in Virginia's largest school district, the percentage of middle and high school students who earned Fs in at least two classes jumped from 6 percent to 11 percent.

Hit especially hard are children with disabilities, those learning English and of course low income and minority children who are less likely to have appropriate technology and home environments for studying. Each child, each family deals with their own unique fall- out.

And it's for this reason that one Florida state lawmaker wants to address the so-called COVID slide head on. She's introduced a bill that would give parents the power to decide if their kid should repeat a grade. That lawmaker joins me now, Florida state Senator Lori Berman. So Senator, how would this work?

LORI BERMAN (D), FLORIDA STATE SENATOR: Thank you so much, Michael, for having me on. So the mechanics of the bill are that if you have a student in grades kindergarten through eighth and you file a request before June 30th, they can repeat the next academic year automatically without anyone asking any questions. They're simply allowed to go and repeat that next year.

SMERCONISH: Why the cut-off at eighth grade?

BERMAN: So we looked into doing high school and there's a couple different reasons why we went with eighth grade. First of all, in high school, the children interact with many more teachers. So there's a lot more eyes on the student to see if they're failing, if they're having problems and also the high school students are more mature and can verbalize and tell people that they're having problems and get the help that they need to get up to the level.

[09:20:00] And then you also have parents potentially wanting to have their child hold back for athletics or to go to the prom. So we don't want that situation.and I think the K through eight students are really the ones who have been suffering because they can't verbalize it as well. So we cut it off at eighth grade. SMERCONISH: Do you worry that if a student today knew that they're going to repeat the grade, that it's an encouragement to just be a slacker from now till the end of this current school year?

BERMAN: I do, but I will tell you this law will not be -- if it is even passed, which I'm hopeful for, it won't pass until May. So we're not going to have people applying right now. It will not happen in this school year. What we will -- I'm also worried that we're going to have parents who use it who -- I want to make sure parents understand how important this is and it is a method of last resort.

We put in the legislation that they cannot change their mind once they have started the school year. So we don't want parents who, two months into the year, saying my child's not challenged anymore because they already did this material. So it's a really serious decision and we're going to try and give parents information so that they can make this choice that is a one-time choice based on the pandemic and will be pretty much irreversible once they make that decision.

SMERCONISH: Is this being contemplated, Senator Berman, as far as you know, anywhere else in the country? I went looking for unique responses to the COVID crisis, the COVID slide, and I found you. I'm wondering anybody else doing this?

BERMAN: I haven't heard of anyone. I have to tell you it did -- it was my own bill. I did think about it. We were trying -- people would come to me and say what are you going to do about COVID? And I realized that the schools are such a problem right now because of the remote learning, because of the quarantine and, like you said, there are certain specific children who are suffering right now.

So it was my own thought process to file this bill. It has been heard in the first committee in the Education Committee and Tallahassee this past week and it did pass unanimously. I wouldn't be surprised if some other state legislators pick up the idea, but to my knowledge, this is the only bill of its sort right now in the United States.

SMERCONISH: And finally, you may have just anticipated my last question when you say that it was voted unanimously in committee. Is it a Republican bill? Is it a Democratic bill? Are there politics already associated with this?

BERMAN: It's interesting because I'm a Democrat, I'm in the minority party, it's often very hard in the minority party to get legislation passed, but I think the concept of giving parents control is a bipartisan concept and so we're seeing that and the fact that the bill moved so quickly and got unanimous support, I'm hoping that it will not become a political football in any shape or form.

SMERCONISH: All right. I am using your idea as my survey question today, So we'll have an unscientific look at what people across the country think. Good luck and thank you for being here.

BERMAN: Thank you. I love the question and thank you for having me on.

SMERCONISH: Cool. Okay. Go to the website. Now you understand. As Paul Harvey would say, now you know the rest of the story. Go to and answer this week's survey question.

Given the pandemic, should parents have the power to decide whether their kids should be held back a year in school? What I love about it is that I can't see ideology in that question and by the way, vote even, you know, if your kids are older or if you don't even have kids.

From the world of Twitter, I think this just came in. What do we have? "Smerconish, kids are not falling behind. They are learning to survive a pandemic." Oh, Nancy. I so disagree with that. They are falling behind, not the least of which I think are the social dynamics.

You know, these conversations about where college kids should be, which is slightly different from that issue, I think tends to focus only on scores and not on social skills and interactions that benefit us for the rest of our lives, but I beg to disagree. I think they are suffering, especially those in lower income, predominantly minority communities that don't have, you know, what my kids take for granted, which is connectivity and computers everywhere.

Up ahead, asked about the status of America's Space Force, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki laughed. Here to explain and defend the program and its name, retired four-star general who led the Air Force Space Command.

And when Tom Brady won his first Super Bowl 2002, last year's MVP quarterback, Patrick Mahomes, was six. Now they're squaring off for Super Bowl 55 in the midst of a pandemic. What can we expect?

[09:25:02] So thrilled that Bob Costas, the legendary sportscaster veteran of seven Super Bowl broadcasts, will help break it all down.


PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: I'm Phil Mattingly at the White House and this is CNN.

SMERCONISH: Since President Trump formalized the United States Space Force as the sixth military branch, some inside and outside of Washington mocked its formation. This condescension came back in the spotlight this week, except not from Hollywood or Capitol Hill, but from the new White House administration.

During Tuesday's White House press briefing, Press Secretary Jen Psaki was asked if President Biden planned to keep Space Force intact.


JEN PSAKI, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Wow. Space force. It's the plane of today.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, it's interesting (ph).


PSAKI: It is an interesting question. I am happy to check with our Space Force point of contact. I'm not sure who that is. I will find out and see if we have any update on that.


SMERCONISH: Hours after the briefing Congressman Mike Rogers, the top Republican on the House Armed Services Committee called on her to apologize telling "Politico," "It's concerning to see the Biden administration's press secretary blatantly diminish an entire branch of our military as the punchline of a joke, which I' m sure China would find funny."

In response to the criticism Psaki didn't apologize but the tone definitely did change. Instead she tweeted support for Space Force Wednesday inviting Space Force guardians to come by the briefing room anytime. When pressed further on the issue at Wednesday's press briefing Psaki said Space Force has President Biden's full support. Space Force is tasked with taking on serious national security threats from adversaries like China and Russia.

Here to discuss those threats and Space Force's role in addressing them retired four-star Air Force General William Shelton. He served from 2011 to 2014 as the commander of the Air Force Space Command, the organization that became Space Force. General, thank you so much for being here. Why is this not a laughing matter?

GEN. WILLIAM SHELTON, (RET.) COMMANDER, AIR FORCE SPACE COMMAND: Well, I think there are a couple things that resulted in the creation of the Space Force. One was we are critically dependent on space for both military operations and the American way of life really. Most of us don't even know when we're using satellites. But trust me, in our daily lives we are all using satellites every day and almost every minute.

And then that creates a little bit of a vulnerability and that vulnerability is being exploited by adversaries such as Russia and China and they are creating weapon systems that would take our advantage from space away from us. So to have a service focused on defending our critical assets in space I think was something that became a bipartisan issue in the Congress and then of course the president in the last administration was very much behind us.

SMERCONISH: You wrote recently for "The Gazette" -- I'll put the words up on the screen and read them aloud. "This is not a future problem that provides the opportunity for more study and kicking the can down the road. The threats are real. We know successful testing is complete and operational capability exists today in China and Russia. And development of additional counterspace weaponry continues in those nations and others as well." What worries you most?

SHELTON: Actually, the laser threat worries me the most. A high powered laser -- let's pause it -- a high powered laser in the center of China, very difficult target to get to if you want to take out that laser. But it can sit there and recharge and just hit satellite after satellite in the lower Earth orbit. And there are some very critical assets in the lower Earth orbit these days.

SMERCONISH: Where do we rank if you're able to say vis-a-vis the Chinese or the Russians in terms of our mastery of space for defense purposes?

SHELTON: I think we've got some incredible capability in space. Things like missile warning, warning of attack for both us and our allies and our deployed forces. We've got protected communications that on the worst day for the United States when the president needs to get orders to deploy forces he can get those orders out over our satellite systems. We have certainly GPS, the GPS constellation.

So I think -- we've got weather forecasting capability. I mean, there are all kinds of things that we do from space and do uniquely from space. And I think -- I think we are head and shoulders above other countries in terms of our capability to execute those kinds of missions through those constellations where, I think, we really need to play a little catch up here is defending those assets from attack.

SMERCONISH: And, I guess, the takeaway at least for me is that Space Force ought to be evaluated on its own merits and not in association with a former commander-in-chief. In other words, let's not pass judgment on him and therefore say we should or shouldn't have Space Force. Let's look at it and make a decision that way. Final word is yours.

SHELTON: I think that it's very unfortunate that it became a bit of a political issue because the need is certainly there.


There have been other organizational changes as well. We've created the United States Space Command to oversee the operational side of this. So the Space Force does the organizing of units, it does the training of the personnel, and it does the equipping. In other words, buying those satellites. That is the responsibility of the Space Force. But the employment of those capabilities is really up to the United States' space command. So there is recognition operationally, equipment-wise, training of people that all needs to come together.

SMERCONISH: General Shelton, thank you so much.

SHELTON: My pleasure. Thank you.

SMERCONISH: Up next, you don't need me to tell you tomorrow is the Super Bowl. Joining me next, sportscasting legend Bob Costas.



SMERCONISH: It is so easy to overhype every Super Bowl, but number LV promises to truly be like no other, not just because of the quarterback showdown between Tampa Bay Buccaneers 43-year-old legend Tom Brady appearing in his 10th Super Bowl, and last year's Bowl MVP 25-year-old Kansas City Chiefs phenom Patrick Mahomes.

But also the big game will be played in front of a decidedly less than sellout crowd, 25,000 fans in a stadium built for 65,000. Plus among them, 7,500 vaccinated health care workers interspersed with 30,000 cardboard fan cut outs. To keep the half time show socially distant "The Weeknd" instead of performing on the field will be on a stage up in the stands.

So will it still feel like a Super Bowl? Joining me now to discuss the American sports broadcasting legend Bob Costas who was America's guide to seven Super Bowls, has earned 28 Emmys across many sports and happily now is a CNN contributor. Bob, I so love the story line of Brady and Mahomes because even the casual fan can suit up and root for somebody.

BOB COSTAS, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Yes, everything seems to be different in sports and outside sports during COVID. But one thing remains the same, it's the Super Bowl and here is Tom Brady again, different uniform but for the 10th time.

And a quarterback matchup is always a headline story but Patrick Mahomes isn't just a star. He's an electric and charismatic player. He came this close two years ago to defeating Brady and the Patriots in the AFC championship game, lost an overtime, otherwise they would be in their third consecutive Super Bowl.

So Mahomes is right now and Tom Brady continues on at age 43. Remarkable enough that even five years ago he would have been playing at that level at least based on the history of other people at the position. But here is now saying that it's entirely possible he will play to 45 or beyond.

He isn't quite as great as he was by any objective measure, not quite as great as he was during what everyone would call his prime with the Patriots, but still more than good enough to get a new team to the Super Bowl.

SMERCONISH: And his age makes him well suited for the age -- pardon me -- of his coach Bruce Arians. There's an interesting difference between Andy Reid's style, Bruce Arians' style. And now we've got this breaking news story from just the last 24 hours of a potential distraction for Andy Reid and the Reid family in so far as his son, the outside linebacker coach, Britt Reid involved in a bad car crash.

COSTAS: Yes, more than a distraction, potentially a tragedy. This is what we know at this point. Britt Reid admitted to police that he had in his words two to three drinks also some Adderall. Apparently, a car was broken down, may have run out of gas on the side of the road, this is very near the Chiefs' practice facility where young Britt Reid may have been working late in preparation for the Super Bowl.

Another car pulls over to help the first car. Britt Reid is driving his truck. Goes off the side of the road, collides with at least one of the cars. Two children in the back seat, one four and one five, both injured, taken to the hospital. The 5-year-old with life- threatening injuries.

And there some background here. Britt Reid had previous difficulties with drugs and alcohol. He served five months in prison, five-year probation after that, there was a road rage incident. And tragically his older brother Garrett in 2012 died of a heroin overdose. Andy Reid is not only one of the most accomplished coaches in the NFL, he is one of the most popular people, but his family life has been marked by tragedy. And let's hope that this goes no further than what we now know, but the one child is in critical condition.

SMERCONISH: Boy, it's so damn sad. On happier notes, the tight ends, two of the best in the business.

COSTAS: Yes, Rob Gronkowski brought out of retirement to team again with Tom Brady. So much success in New England and now in Tampa Bay, back in the Super Bowl. Gronkowski one of great characters in recent NFL history. But his counterpart Travis Kelce of the Chiefs is putting together a hall of fame resume of his own.

Both Brady and Mahomes have tremendous weapons, at tight end, at wide receiver. This figures to be a wide open game. Earlier this season the Chiefs beat the Bucs 27-24, I think people are looking for a score at least that high, maybe both teams in the 30's, kind of a shoot-out game.

SMERCONISH: A real sign of what COVID's impact has been, the Kansas City Chiefs' barber has become an issue in this week's contest.

COSTAS: Yes, two Chiefs got their hair cut by a barber who turned out to be COVID positive.


So they had to quarantine. They did not test positive. They had to quarantine for five days which kept them away from full practice activities, but they can both play in the game tomorrow.

SMERCONISH: Is there any such things as a home field --

COSTAS: Oh, you got a shot -- hold on. You got a shot up there. I wasn't looking at monitor. The one guy, they actually intercepted him, no pun intended, halfway through the haircut. It was like, wait a minute. Get out here. Get out of here right now. You know, Michael, I think this is a look you might want to try.


SMERCONISH: Who says I haven't tried it in the past? Hey, is there any such thing as a home field advantage? You'll correct me if I'm wrong. I don't think that an NFL Super Bowl team has ever played in the Super Bowl in their hometown, but the Bucs have that honor tomorrow.

COSTAS: Yes, many years ago the Rams played the Steelers in -- at the Rose Bowl, so that was close to a home game but wasn't their home stadium. The 49ers played the Dolphins at Stanford Stadium. I think so close by San Francisco but not really their home stadium.

This is Raymond James Stadium. This is the Bucs' home stadium. There will be some fan support obviously 25,000 people there. Some are not necessarily Bucs fans but the majority will be rooting for the Bucs I would guess. But I would think the main advantage is they stayed at home during these circumstances. They didn't have to travel, didn't have to stay in a hotel. Usually the visiting to both teams actually come to the Super Bowl a week before for all the media activity and whatnot.

The Chiefs aren't even traveling until today. They will arrive in Tampa Bay today. Meanwhile the Bucs have been home for two weeks preparing.

SMERCONISH: Bob, I was surprised to read that some of the major advertisers have taken a pass on this game. It remains my favorite part of Super Bowl Sunday. And I thought of all years, this is the year when everybody is home and certainly will be watching. Am I missing something? That doesn't add up to me.

COSTAS: You know, I can't quite figure it out. We should say that CBS has sold out all the spots at very high rates. There will be some newcomers, maybe some products that have become -- or services that have become more prominent during COVID like DoorDash or Uber Eats.

And then other big names that you associate with the Super Bowl like Budweiser or Coca-Cola. They're taking a pass this time and my understanding is that in some cases they are directing the funds that they would used on the production of these epic spots and also purchasing the time itself, they're directing that toward COVID related causes.

SMERCONISH: Give me in 30 seconds what you're most looking forward tomorrow in the game.

COSTAS: Mahomes versus Brady. It's simple. You don't have to be an expert. And I'm not sure I qualify as an expert anymore. I'm not as closely connected to the NFL as I once was.

But Mahomes versus Brady is the story. It has been the story when they met a couple years ago in the conference championship game. It was the story in a regular season game this year. I'm pretty sure it will be the story tomorrow night.

SMERCONISH: Hey, thank you so much. I really appreciate Bob Costas being here. Enjoy the game.

COSTAS: Thank you, Michael.

SMERCONISH: Checking in on your social media. I think from the world of Twitter. What do we have?

Smerconish, in your professional opinion -- I'm already nervous -- in your professional opinion what color will the Gatorade be that is poured on the winning coach? I'm old school. I like that classic yellow gold. So that's my choice. When I go and buy my own at Wawa that's always what I reach for.

Still to come, your best and worst tweets from Facebook -- and Facebook comments and we'll give you the final survey results from survey question. Here's what it is. "Given the pandemic, should parents have the power to decide whether their kids should be held back a year in school?"



SMERCONISH: Time to see how you responded to do the survey question this week at "Given the pandemic, should parents have the power to decide whether their kids should be held back a year in school?"

Survey says, wow, 83 percent, pretty decisive, of 22,000 and change say, yes, give them a mulligan. Really interesting issue, State Senator Lori Berman from Florida was here earlier in the program and speaking of how she has introduced this in Florida. Now it would apply only to K-8. I'm left wondering what about those high school years. And I get that it's complicated because of athletics, because of college admissions, because of the prom. But I like the initiative as well.

What came in from social media? Here's some more this week. Smerconish, as an alternative to solving the COVID slide instead of repeating a grade, how about having kids continue school through summer?

Shawna, absolutely, I agree with that. I think the Biden administration is already on board in looking at that. Hopefully the teachers would be. I think it would be incumbent upon them to be, right?

But here's an issue. The issue is I think a lot of these, especially lesser funded schools aren't equipped with air conditioning. I say spend the money, air condition those schools and, yes, let them go all the way through. I like the idea. Another one if I've got time and I think that I do.

What about the implications this would have on high school sports? This would have a huge impact and an unfair advantage for those kids when it comes to being chosen for intercollegiate sports. Voteplanet, that's the point I was just making where Senator Berman's proposal only applies through K-8. And I think, although I didn't ask her this, I think one of the reasons might be that it doesn't apply in high school is exactly what you said.


There's a whole redshirt issue then that would kick in and perhaps an unfair advantage. Another one if I've got time. I like moving at a rapid clip. Yes.

Greene is entitled to her views, but don't throw someone out for that. Any fair minded American should support her.

Totally agree, RI. And here's the thing because I got a lot of what about-ism on radio this week. People would say, what about Ilhan Omar? What about Maxine Waters? Greene's record, these comments are beyond the pale of anything I've ever seen. I've been paying attention for 30 years. That's the difference.

See you next week.