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Could Two Supreme Court Cases On Abortion And Gun Rights Affect 2022 Midterms?; Presidential Polls Saw Highest Level Of Error In 40 Years; Is America Ready For Ford's New All-Electric Truck?; Is America Ready For An All-Electric Truck?; Depression And Suicide On The Rise Among Gen Z; Lawmakers Urge Facebook Not To Create Instagram For Kids Under 13. Aired 9-10a ET
Aired May 22, 2021 - 09:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
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MICHAEL SMERCONISH, CNN ANCHOR: All rise for the midterms. I'm Michael Smerconish in Philadelphia. Historically, voter turnout for midterm elections is a big drop off from presidential years and usually the more motivated voters are those from the party not occupying the White House.
In midterms since George W. Bush's second term, the party of the incumbent president has lost an average of more than 40 seats in the Senate and House combined and all the Republicans need is a handful of Congressional seats and one senator to put Kevin McCarthy and Mitch McConnell back in control of the House and Senate, respectively.
No doubt that explains this week's opposition of both those individuals to any Congressional 9/11 style inquiry into the events of January 6. The inevitable drip, drip, drip of revelations that would result could bring nothing but harm to the GOP and the release of any final report would coincide with the beginning of midterm campaign season.
There remains, however, another midterm intangible that cannot be avoided by either party. Two cases will be heard this fall by the Supreme Court which has been reshaped by three Trump-nominated justices. Rulings will come on two of the most hotly-contested issues in American politics -- abortion and gun rights.
Here's a brief primer. The abortion case, Dobbs versus Jackson Women's Health Organization, it seeks to overturn a Fifth Circuit Court block of a Mississippi state law enacted in 2018 which banned abortions after 15 weeks. The Roe versus Wade precedent protects abortion rights at the point of viability or a gestational age of about 23 or 24 weeks for a fetus. The Mississippi case would reduce that timeline by about two months.
And by the way, not to be outdone, this week, Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed a law that would effectively ban abortion after just six weeks. Take a look at this map. It shows the result of a "New York Times" analysis as to where abortion rights would be restricted if Roe were to be overturned.
And then there's the gun case. Here, the precedent at issue is Justice Scalia's 2008 opinion in D.C. versus Heller which interpreted the Second Amendment to mean that citizens have the right to gun ownership at home. Lower courts have been citing part of that decision that says the right is not unlimited to allow for some regulations.
Now the court will rule on a New York law being challenged in the case, New York State Rifle and Pistol Association versus Corlett. It requires a resident to show demonstrable need to be licensed to carry a concealed handgun outside the home. In other words, the court is being asked to say the concealed carry is also a part of the Second Amendment.
The Supreme Court takes the summer off. These two cases will be argued in the fall. Decisions will come in the spring or early summer of 2022. Should the court adopt conservative positions, that might remind a Republican base of the importance of White House control and spur a GOP turnout which retakes the House and Senate or it could motivate women and the young which would advantage Democrats, but if you're gaming this out, there's one more consideration.
Conservative rulings on abortion and guns might convince the President and Democrats to shed any reluctance they've had about expanding the size of the Supreme Court so as to counter the current ideological imbalance which will otherwise likely continue beyond the Biden years.
The President created a commission to study potential changes to the court in April. That commission met for the first time just this week. They're supposed to deliver a report to the President in about six months or just about when the abortion and gun cases will have been argued.
I want to know what you think. Go to my website at Smerconish.com and answer this week's survey question. Will Supreme Court decisions in 2022 on abortion and guns help Democrats, Republicans or neither?
Joining me now to discuss, the anchor of CNN's "THE LEAD" and "STATE OF THE UNION" as well as CNN's chief Washington correspondent and best-selling author, Jake Tapper. His new novel, "The Devil May Dance," continues to follow the hero from his first novel, fictional Republican Congressman Charlie Marder. He goes to Hollywood in the early 1960s. Hey, Jake. I'm loving the book. I'll ask you about it in just a moment. What do you make of my thought --
JAKE TAPPER, CNNANCHOR: Sounds good.
SMERCONISH: ... that the Supreme Court could really put its thumbprint on the midterm elections?
TAPPER: I think you're spot on, everything you said. I would say there is also an argument that it will help Republicans in some states and help Democrats in other states. [09:05:02]
The idea that these cases, especially, I have to say, especially I think the abortion case and there really does seem to be a majority on the Court. At the very least the fact that they're taking up the case suggests that there are five justices willing to reconsider the precedent set by Roe v. Wade. I think it's pretty clear that there's five justices ready to do that right now.
But it's also possible that this will be good to motivate Democrats in, for example, Virginia to get the women and young voters and progressives out to vote in Virginia and in other places, it might be good for Republicans.
It does reaffirm, for example, this is probably the longest-lasting legacy of the Trump years, for good in the eyes of conservatives, the idea that he got these three justices on the Court and then now, instead of a divided court where Roberts is the swing justice, it's a 5-4 Court if you put Roberts with the liberals. So it's really a 6-3 Court. So that will reaffirm to conservatives, hey, we need to keep fighting for this, we're winning.
SMERCONISH: One wonders if these events could overturn the, I think, traditional path which has been that Republicans and conservatives much more consider this issue when they vote for presidents of the United States than do Democrats and progressives.
TAPPER: Exactly. I mean, this has been more of a motivating force for conservatives, for Republicans in the past, but right now, because Republicans have been so singularly focused on the Supreme Court and the judicial nominees -- remember, this is why Mitch McConnell and other Republicans went along with Trump for so long, because he let them do what they wanted to do with judges.
I think it is -- it is entirely possible that this will have the effect of motivating women, motivating young people, motivating progressives because it's true that abortion rights really do hang in the balance. It's not, "Chicken Little, the sky is falling." it really could happen.
I mean, look, I'm no Supreme Court analyst, but it looks to me, based on what I've read of these justices, that there are five votes to affirm the Mississippi law and if that law is affirmed as constitutional, the ban on abortion after 15 weeks with punishments for physicians if they violate it, then what's to say that Greg Abbott's law in Texas that you referred to -- which essentially bans abortion.
I mean, they say they ban it after six weeks, but a lot of women don't even know they're pregnant before six weeks into a pregnancy. So it essentially bans abortion. What does that mean? Does a ruling in favor of the Mississippi law set a precedent that the Texas law can go forward?
SMERCONISH: Jake, you had me at page one. It's the Rat Pack with Sam Giancana in tow in a booze-fueled visit to no less than Forest Lawn. And I got to say, I'm halfway through and I'm thinking where the hell does Tapper come up with this stuff? I mean, the weaving in of the fact and the fiction really says a lot about what's going on in that imagination of yours.
TAPPER: Well, thank you. I mean, first of all, can I just say you are exactly the kind of person that would love this book. I mean, I watch your show and when I'm in Philly, I listen to you back in -- back in the day. So I know you're -- I know how you think and, yes, I mean, look, a lot of the stuff is just true, right?
I mean, the inspiration for the book was I had heard this story, and it was an accurate story. Sinatra worked his heart out for Kennedy in 1960, he and the Rat Pack, and he expected that President Kennedy would stay with him in California when he came out as President.
So Sinatra started having his Rancho Mirage estate built up, adding rooms, phone lines, a helipad and then Attorney General Robert Kennedy -- I mean, this really is all in your sweet spot. Sinatra, the Kennedys. Attorney General Robert Kennedy ...
TAPPER: ... who was -- who was going after organized crime says to himself, can I really have my brother stay in a -- in an estate at a compound where mobsters like Sam Giancana have slept? And that was the dilemma that Attorney General Kennedy had. Do I offend one of the biggest stars in the planet who helped get my brother elected or do I let my brother sleep in a bed that maybe a mobster has slept with -- slept in?
And that's a true story and all I did was like send Charlie and Margaret in there and then just let my imagination go wild based on all the characters that were just sitting right there to have fun with.
SMERCONISH: So you've now had enormous success with fiction and non- fiction. I'm thinking of course of "The Outpost," the great Rod Lurie, by the way. Good match for you in bringing that to the screen. Which is more fun?
TAPPER: Without question fiction is more fun. Non-fiction, the story of "The Outpost," this Afghanistan outpost and the U.S. soldiers, the true story, that's more meaningful. That was, you know, to this day the most meaningful professional experience of my life, telling those stories and bringing their voices to the book and then to the screen because it was an -- it was a tale that nobody knew at the time.
Now people know it better because of the book and even more so because of Rod Lurie and his amazing work in the movie and I hope people get a chance to see it. I think it's on Netflix and iTunes, but fiction's a lot more fun because the stakes are so much lower.
SMERCONISH: I'm really enjoying the book. As I said, I'm halfway through and I wish you continued success. TAPPER: Thank you so much. Continued success to you too, my friend.
SMERCONISH: Jake's new book, "The Devil May Dance." What are your thoughts? Tweet me @Smerconish, go to my Facebook page. I'll read some responses throughout the course of the program. From the world of YouTube, "Will expanding the Court then energize the Republicans for the next presidential race?"
Great observation, Eric. And so it goes, right? So that if the Court, having its say on abortion and guns, short-term benefit to the Republicans, Democratic response is to expand the Court. You're right. It sets up a dynamic where, in 2024, you could then see the Republican response.
Make sure you're going to the website at Smerconish.com and answering this week's survey question. I think -- I think we got an indication as to what Jake thinks, that this will be pretty significant for the 2022 election. Will the Supreme Court decisions on abortion and guns help Democrats, help Republicans or help neither?
Up ahead, they got the winner, but, man, not the margin. A new analysis finds the 2020 polls were the worst in 40 years. The leader of the research group joins me for a postmortem to discuss what the heck went so wrong.
And according to Strategic Vision's annual survey in 2020, people who drive the Ford F-series trucks, they tend to lean to the right, but with over 44,000 pre-orders in just 48 hours and the company's stock on the rise, has the auto makers big bet on electric and climate just paid off?
SMERCONISH: Public opinion surveys conducted ahead of the 2020 presidential election missed the mark at historic levels. National presidential polls saw the highest level of error in 40 years, overstating support for Democratic nominee Joe Biden by 3.9 percentage points in the national popular vote in the final two weeks of the campaign.
That's according to a task force with the American Association for Public Opinion Research. It's a group that consists of experts from renowned institutions and major media networks, including CNN, Gallup, Vanderbilt University, Pew Research Center, the University of Pennsylvania and "CBS News." The chair of the task force, Joshua Clinton, joins me now. He's a Vanderbilt University political science professor.
Dr. Clinton, does this sort of error ever benefit Democratic candidates? Because what I see when you look at 1980, Ronald Reagan was the one who was undervalued. In 2016 and 2020, it was Donald Trump. Does it ever go the other way? JOSHUA CLINTON, PROFESSOR OF POLITICAL SCIENCE, VANDERBILT UNIVERSITY: Yes. So in 2012, for example, the polls overstate support for Romney relative to Obama. So what we saw this time, though, was pretty unique. I mean, never before had we seen the polls so systematically, regardless of the type of poll, regardless of whether it was for a senatorial race, a presidential race, basically favor the Democrats over the Republicans by such a large margin across the board. So this was pretty unique, different from what we see in the past.
SMERCONISH: In other words, it's not just -- in 2020, it was not just the top of the ticket, it was something that could be said about Republicans generally or Democrats generally.
CLINTON: No, that's right. I mean, the errors were actually larger as you got -- as you got further down the ticket, right? So I mean, everyone was thinking the Democrats, for example, were going to pick up seats in the House and that did not materialize.
Everyone thought a lot of the Senate contests were going to be a lot closer than they actually were and so although a lot of attention is paid at the presidential level, it was actually far more consequential for some of the down ballot races going into 2020.
SMERCONISH: In 2016, the sort of postmortems said, well, there weren't a sufficient number of individuals considered who had less formal education or there was the additional thought that maybe there were late breakers for Donald Trump. What's the explanation as to why there was this four-point miss in 2020?
CLINTON: That's a super great question. Unfortunately, I wish I had a good answer for you, but we're still working on that. So for example, in 2018, the polls were pretty good, you know, much better than they were in 2016 and so we're still trying to unpack exactly what went down, but, you know, our gut tells us that, you know, politics has changed.
Like everything now is politicized. Whether or not you get a vaccine, whether or not you wear a mask and it seems nowadays like whether or not you choose to take a poll is also increasingly a partisan political as compared to. Especially when you have, for example, President Trump talking about voter suppression polls and fake polls, it's not beyond the realm of possibility to imagine that some people, and in particular Republicans and Trump supporters, may have been less likely to take polls than Democrats who are very eager to talk about how they're going to support, you know, President Biden.
And so that's going to be a real challenge for polling. Now, we can't prove that yet, but it's something that a bunch of -- that everyone's kind of working on to try to figure out, you know, what's going on and how can we make it more accurate going forward.
SMERCONISH: Well, maybe it was harder to reach Trump voters or maybe Trump voters lied and when I say that, I mean because he was looked at with such disfavor, right? That they didn't want to admit to some stranger who calls their house that they're voting for the politically incorrect guy.
CLINTON: Yes. So I mean, you know, so we don't know whether they were like talking to pollsters and lying or they just were not even bothering to pick up the phone or kind of responding to those surveys. So I think like trying to figure out whether there's differences in the Republicans who took polls and Republicans who didn't take polls, you know, that's an issue that's facing pollsters and we're -- you know, part of the problem was like we still don't know what the 2020 electorate looked like.
We don't know who voted and who didn't vote and so if you only look at who took the polls, it's really hard to know who didn't take the polls and so that's ongoing efforts. That's true across the board and so to be clear, like this isn't just like an impact of industry or the media, but it also affect all the partisan polls. So Democratic pollsters and Republican pollsters made similar errors.
And if you think about how consequential that is -- so I mean, the Republicans were playing defense for the U.S. House of Representatives because they thought they were going to lose seats based on their polling, but if they actually had a better sense of what they were doing in terms of what the polls were saying, it's not inconceivable that they could have retaken the House if they were playing offense.
And so this is a miss of polling that's across the board and affected everybody, including the political parties, and it's really consequential for how campaign strategy played out in 2020.
SMERCONISH: One other element, very important because this story was broken by "The Wall Street Journal" and former President Trump then responded to it and said essentially, aha, I told you so and this was all voter suppression, meaning that it was deliberate to hold down his electorate. They were led to believe he had no shot to win and it was all by design. Did you see any evidence of that?
CLINTON: No. I mean, not -- I mean, not really and in fact, if you think about 2016, just the opposite argument was made, right? People were worried that perhaps the polls had Secretary Clinton up by so much and that caused some of her voters to support third-party candidates and so, you know, there's a lot of interpretation, but there's not really been any evidence about, you know, voter -- you know, how it affects polls and particularly not pollsters intentionally trying to suppress votes.
You can be sure that Republican pollsters, for example, were not trying to suppress Republican vote. They were just trying to get a sense of what the electorate was looking like and that's true across the board.
SMERCONISH: You know, a final thought if I may. In this technologically advanced world in which we live, it's kind of remarkable that the polling seems to get worse in many respects. You get the final word.
CLINTON: No, I think that's right. I mean, it used to be that everyone took polls and polls were much more accurate, but part of the problem is that we're all on so many different devices now and it's very hard to reach individuals and so as we get more fragmented in terms of how we consume news and how we interact with one another, that actually makes it more challenging to try to figure out how to reach the right balance of individuals and make sure you get a representative sample to kind of what's going forward.
So thank you so much for having me on the program, Michael.
SMERCONISH: Thanks, Dr. Clinton. Appreciate your analysis. Let's check in on your tweets and Facebook comments. What do we have, Catherine? From the world of Twitter I believe, "This is one simple no one was ashamed to say they planned to vote for @JoeBiden, but many were ashamed to say they planned to vote for Donald Trump. There should be a rule. Do not vote for anyone you are ashamed to admit you voted for. Vote proudly," The Absurdist Contrarian. Love your name.
Well, I raised that with Dr. Clinton. I mean, I think -- I think that that's certainly a possibility. I've had this conversation with the Trafalgar Group. Like how is it that they came closer in this cycle and they say because they try and focus on, you know, the network of people. You don't call up and say how are you voting? You call up and you ask about the family and the people who surround them because people are more inclined to answer your question that way.
I want to remind you to go to Smerconish.com and answer this week's survey question. Will the Supreme Court decisions in 2022 on abortion and guns help Democrats, help Republicans or help neither?
Up ahead, Facebook planning to roll out a version of Instagram for kids under the age of 13, but with teen depression and suicide rates rising over the last decade, members of Congress and 44 states attorney general are taking a stand. Can they stop Mark Zuckerberg and what can we learn about Gen Z amidst the pandemic?
Plus, Ford made a big gamble this week with the help of President Joe Biden, but will electric pickup trucks sell? Can the automaker convince conservatives to be eco-friendly and if they can, will this be a monumental turning point for green energy? My next guest is the chief engineer behind the all-electric F-150. Here she is demonstrating the prototype's power of F-150 truck owners as it attempts to tow 44 trucks weighing over a million pounds.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
[09:25:02] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Come on, baby.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Come on now. Is it going to work?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's doing it.
LINDA ZHANG, CHIEF ENGINEER OF FORD F-150: We're going.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's doing it.
ZHANG: I can definitely feel the weight more with the 42 trucks and ... UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That is unbelievable.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SMERCONISH: The F-150, it's been the best-selling vehicle in the United States for more than 40 years. Ford, they sell more than 1 million F-series trucks a year, raking in more than $40 billion annually. It's so popular either you've got one or you know somebody who does, right? But is the demand there for an all-electric model?
According to an automotive research firm's 2020 survey about political tendencies and the car you drive, maybe not a surprise that the F-150 is a top five favorite amongst conservatives and Republicans.
So, will mainstream America really accept and embrace an electric truck?
Well, in the first 48 hours of the F-150's public reveal on Wednesday, Ford had almost 45,000 reservations. So, will the truck be the tipping point? Will this vehicle cause green energy to skip the culture wars?
Here to discuss is Linda Zhang, Ford's chief engineer behind the all- electric game changing F-150 Lightning truck. I love your personal story. Batman, Knight Rider and MacGyver all having or played a role in your career development. How?
LINDA ZHANG, CHIEF ENGINEER, FORD F-150 BATTERY ELECTRIC VEHICLE: Well, those are my childhood favorites in terms of TV shows, and they all had really cool automobiles inside. Whether it's KITT or the Knight Rider and then also problem solving. So, I really loved those shows and that was kind of where my passion for the automobile came from in a way. And this Lightning is just so exciting and I'm so glad to be here to share that with you.
SMERCONISH: Linda, I showed the footage a moment ago of the new electric pulling a million pounds. What I didn't show was my favorite part. I'm going to run the clip and then ask you to discuss. Roll it, guys.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ZHANG: I've got one major thing that I still haven't told you yet. Are you guys ready?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Woo-hoo!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Whoa!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Come on.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No way.
ZHANG: So, this F-150 prototype is all electric.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SMERCONISH: So, we all know the slogan, right? Which is "Built Ford Tough." How difficult is it going to be to convince, you know, these machismo guys, hey, this electric truck is cool?
ZHANG: Well, I think that is exactly what we start is making sure that we are building on that truck know-how with over a century of manufacturing experience, but also 73 years of truck experience, building on what customers know and love about the product, and then from there, adding the electrification.
So, that base is still very much a truck core fundamental for the product. Making sure that it can drive, work, haul -- tow and haul, but then adding the electrification pieces of it so that it does have awesome performance, new spaces that our customer does -- didn't expect or capability to be able to power up your entire home for days on end.
So, this F-150 Lightning is really a historical turning point for the company. And every so often a new vehicle comes along that disrupts the status quo and changes everything. And, in a way, that is this truck. Not only an inflection points for the company but also a tipping point for E.V. adoption in the industry.
SMERCONISH: So, Catherine Rampell in "The Washington Post," I thought, summed up what most interests me about this rollout. I'll put the quote on the screen, and I'll read it to you.
"This is no pokey, jelly-bean-shaped car designed for tree-huggers. Nor is it a spaceship-like ride for Bay Area tech bros. This is not a vehicle designed for virtue-signaling concerns about climate change, though it absolutely does broadcast the virtues of a bright, decarbonized, lower-pollution future."
Did she get it right?
ZHANG: Yes, I think so. And I think that's what we heard loud and clear from truck customers is that it has to be a truck, first. It can't be a science experiment. And it needs to be able to work. And that is what this truck does.
So, we put it through the same engineering and testing regiments, all our F-series, so that our customers can depend on the durability and reliability that they would normally expect with F-series. F-series, in itself, is such an important brand for the company with 44 years of sales leadership.
And if you just think about that brand alone it's such a valuable consumer good in America generating more revenue than some major companies like McDonald's, Nike, Coca-Cola, and even Visa. So, we had to make sure we came out with a product that could live behind that shield, that "Built Ford Tough" shield and that credibility that our customers want and, in a way, deserve to have with this product. So, it does put all of those things and a lot more.
SMERCONISH: Quick final question. I understand that the president lingered like you couldn't get him out of the thing once he got in it. And you had the pleasure of briefing him. What was that like?
ZHANG: Oh, it was wonderful. He was so interested about the vehicle and the truck and what it could do. And we were inside the vehicle for a little bit as well taking a look at the awesome 15 1/2-inch ginormous screen which is -- which has just all kinds of features inside and we were looking through a lot of those.
And he was asking some really good questions about the technology in the vehicle, as well as about the functionality of the vehicle and making sure that it can continue to do the work that our customers need. We also talked a little bit about price point and the entry pricing that comes in at lower than $40,000 before federal and state incentives. So, he was pretty excited --
SMERCONISH: Good luck. Congratulations -- and congratulations.
ZHANG: Thank you.
SMERCONISH: Let's see what you're saying on my Smerconish Twitter and Facebook pages. I think this comes from Facebook. Using everything today, aren't we? Twitter, Facebook, YouTube.
Here's my question. Will electric vehicles kill the road trip? How often will you have to stop for a charge and how long does it take?
Hey, Larry, you're asking the right guy, OK? Because when I leave this studio in 25 minutes, I'm going fishing in the Pennsylvania Poconos for the weekend. I have arranged on my electric vehicle of 300 miles. No, it's not an impediment at all.
I remember before I pulled the trigger, I had range anxiety but it has turned out to be no issue whatsoever. And I know from the Ford rollout, they're going to have charging stations all over the place. Don't let that hold you back says this guy who went electric a year ago.
I hope you're answering the survey question at Smerconish.com. Will the Supreme Court decisions in 2022 on abortion and guns help Democrats, help Republicans, or neither?
Still to come, will the kids be all right? Gen Z, the first generation to grow up with iPhones has higher rates of suicide and depression more than any generation dating to 1950. This is why some lawmakers on Capitol Hill do not think a version of Instagram for kids is a good idea. Mark Zuckerberg disagrees. Congresswoman Kathy Castor joins me next to discuss.
[09:41:10] SMERCONISH: How has Gen Z fared during the pandemic? Well, a study co- written by academic psychologist Jean Twenge showed that teens' mental health actually improved in the pandemic with overall decreases in depression and loneliness.
Why? The quarantine routines afforded them to get more sleep and spend more time with family members. They even spent less time on social media.
But the mental health bar for this generation was pretty low to begin with. Between 2005 and 2017 rates of depression increased 52 percent among adolescents between the ages of 12 to 17. Members of Congress see these troublesome trends regarding Gen Z's social media habits and their overall declining mental health and they want to take action.
Facebook told lawmakers in an April letter they are still in the exploratory phase to create a version of Instagram for kids under the age of 13. And this week in response a group of Democratic lawmakers, my next guest included, urged Facebook to scrap its plans citing mental health and privacy concerns.
It's illegal under COPPA, the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act, to track and target people online younger than 13. And Facebook's current policy forbids children under the age of 13 from using the platform.
The social media company denies the correlation between increased social media use and poor mental health calling links to depression inconclusive. In an April letter to lawmakers Facebook said, "The privacy, safety and wellbeing of young people on our platform is essential, it's our top priority." But is it actually?
Here to discuss is Congresswoman Kathy Castor who introduced two bills last year aiming to protect kids and teens from harmful content on the internet, rein in big tech and strengthen the COPPA law. Congresswoman, thank you so much for being here.
I watched with great interest, just a five-minute exchange that you had recently with Misters Zuckerberg, Dorsey and Pichai. So, really the heads of these big social media platforms. You told them that they use manipulative methods to keep people cemented to platforms. Were you satisfied with their responses?
REP. KATHY CASTOR (D-FL): Absolutely not. And for Facebook and Mark Zuckerberg now to continue to promote an Instagram for kids really is unconscionable. Because, you know, parents and families are very concerned about this potential new social media platform and rightfully so because there is a growing body of research and evidence that shows a correlation between social media and higher suicide rates, anxiety, depression, obesity.
And so for Mark Zuckerberg and the other platforms to continue to press their behavioral surveillance, their targeted ads is really unconscionable.
SMERCONISH: Here is one of the exchanges that you had with Mark Zuckerberg. Roll it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CASTOR: Are you aware of the 2019 journal of the American Medical Association Pediatrics study that the risk of depression for adolescents rises with each daily hour spent on social media? Are you aware of that research?
MARK ZUCKERBERG, FACEBOOK FOUNDER AND CEO: Congresswoman, I'm not aware of that research.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SMERCONISH: Did that pass the B.S. meter?
CASTOR: It did not. And now we know Facebook has said themselves that they have a lot of that research and we want them to provide that to us and other researchers as well.
And here is why that is important. Understanding the harms and potential harms for getting kids hooked early, they benefit enormously. They profit enormously by keeping people engaged. But it's different for children. Their brains are still developing.
Think about it as kind of candy cigarettes. Remember the tobacco company said smoking doesn't cause any health impacts and they promoted candy cigarettes to try to lure kids onto -- into smoking? I think this is very analogous to that.
SMERCONISH: So, you also asked the heads of these giant three media platforms whether they allow their children on social media. What do they say and what did you think of the answer?
CASTOR: Well, they demurred. And I asked them if they watched the documentary "The Social Dilemma" where a lot of their former employees set out right because of these -- the harms to kids, higher rates of depression and anxiety. They don't let their children interact with social media.
SMERCONISH: So, please tell me this is not a partisan issue.
CASTOR: Well, I was particularly heartened at that hearing that there was bipartisan concern expressed to Zuckerberg and the other tech CEOs about the harm. You simply cannot ignore this growing body of evidence of the higher rates of anxiety and depression, especially among teen girls.
The problem is that these platforms, they are all about making money, keeping you -- your eyeballs engaged on that platform. That's why they employ these auto play techniques. They -- so, we are going to propose legislation to update the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act.
This is a law that was passed in 1998 well before the cell phone, well before the modern internet. It says that these companies cannot track children under age 13. But you know what? They have done it any way and because they see it as the cost of doing business.
So, we want to outlaw these manipulative tactics, outlaw the behavioral advertising. They shouldn't be advertising -- targeting ads to kids. They certainly shouldn't be surveilling them and tracking them.
If someone were sitting outside of your child's bedroom door or following them to school, you would call the police. But these online platforms have gotten away with it for too long. They simply pay the fine. So, we are going to update the law and we are going to increase the penalty so it's not a cost of doing business.
SMERCONISH: Congresswoman, unless anyone think that I'm a Luddite and against technology, I'm completely dependent upon it. But the eye opener for me was Jean Twenge's book "iGen" because I know that you're still guarded and using the word correlation and so is she.
I came away from that book looking at the data that she had assembled about the relationship between when a majority of us started walking around with a smartphone in our pocket and the rapid acceleration of all these mental health trends. I don't know how it's anything but causation. If there is another explanation out there, I'd sure like to hear it. You get the final word.
CASTOR: Yes, I have two daughters that are Gen Z. I watched what happened in their friend groups and now it's time to give parents the tools they need. They feel like they are entirely over the barrel and don't have any control. Let's put the power back into the hands of parents and protect our kids and make sure they are not tracked, they are not surveilled, they're not targeted, and they're not lured into these online harmful social media platforms.
SMERCONISH: I encourage people to watch your five-minute exchange. You covered a lot of ground in a short period of time. Thank you for being here.
CASTOR: Thanks so much.
SMERCONISH: Still to come, more of your best and worst tweets and Facebook comments. Oh, that's interesting. Now you can respond to me by social media, right?
And we'll give you the final results of the survey question at Smerconish.com. It is this. Will Supreme Court decisions in 2022 on abortion and guns help Democrats, Republicans, or neither?
SMERCONISH: Time to see how you responded to the survey question this week at Smerconish.com. Will Supreme Court decisions in 2022 on abortion and guns help Democrats, help Republicans, or neither?
Here comes the result. Forty-six percent say help Republicans. Interesting. Twenty-eight percent say neither. Twenty-six percent say Ds. And let's call it 14,000 votes.
I mean, Republicans traditionally seem to care more about the courts. But in this case if it's a conservative decision that benefits the leanings of the Republican Party, in the short-term won't that bring more women out, won't that bring more of the young out in the midterm?
Could that therefore cause the Biden White House to say we really do need to expand the Supreme Court of the United States, and might that cause blowback for 2024? The only thing I know for sure is it's going to be an interesting couple of years.
Here is some of the social media that came in during the course of the hour. What do we have? The F-150 drivers in my neck of the woods have one question. Can they still fly the American flags on the back gate?
I am taken with this F-150 issue because I drove one for 15 years and it's a great vehicle. The question is, are those conservative Republican-leaning truck owners, and according to the data, this is not just stereotyping, they comprise a lion's share of them, are they ready to go electric?
I didn't really bring out in my interview with Linda Zhang all the details about the F-150 electric that I'm aware of but this is pretty cool stuff. I mean, like 11 different power outlets on it.
Or the fact, how about this, that you can power your house for three days. I think it's going to bring them around. Then I believe it's going to be a game-changer. And I -- this is not my original thought, but I do think it will lessen green energy as a cultural issue.
One more, real quick. I think I've got time. Smerconish, has anyone considered the move to cell phones from landlines and the ability to block all spam calls or unknown numbers from actually reaching a voter?
Yes but, Kimberly, do you think that Republicans and Trump leaning voters do that more so than Democrats? I think people don't want to admit to a stranger that they are voting for the politically incorrect candidate.
That's it. See you next week.