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America Needs To Reconnect; Are Democrats Playing With Fire?; Whatever Happened To Kids Working Summer Jobs?; Interview With Pink Floyd's Co-Founder Roger Waters. Aired 9-10a ET

Aired August 06, 2022 - 09:00   ET



MICHAEL SMERCONISH, CNN ANCHOR: To unite America, get back to the office. I'm Michael Smerconish in Philadelphia.

The two most important stories of the week had nothing to do with January 6, the midterms or Nancy Pelosi's trip to Taiwan. One pertained to our return to the office and the other dealt with friendship. They're interconnected and provide a hopeful roadmap to both unite us and make us more prosperous.

On Tuesday, I read Emma Goldberg's "New York Times" story about how American corporate workplaces have splintered. Some are nearly as full as they were before COVID-19, other offices, they sit abandoned. The big city offices are slower to fill than the small cities. The reporting is both anecdotal and data driven.

San Francisco's office occupancy is at 39 percent of its pre pandemic level, New York City, 41 percent, Austin 57 percent. At the Huntington center, a 37 storey office tower in downtown Columbus, Ohio, they have about 85 percent of pre pandemic occupants on site at some point during the week.

Online Job Postings also reflect differences in remote work between large and small cities. In San Francisco, 26 percent of postings permit remote work. In Birmingham, Alabama, that number is just 10.4 percent.

Now there's debate as to what drives the difference. Red state, blue state divide, is it millennial Gen X work habits, commutes, maybe all of the above? In a moment, I'm going to ask Scott Galloway what he thinks.

A second story caught my eye the same day, it had to do with friendship and economic mobility and so much more. Harvard economist Raj Chetty and colleagues released the result of a massive database study, the social networks of 72 point 2 million users of Facebook between the ages of 25 and 54. The researchers didn't have names, they didn't have identities, but they were able to use zip codes to estimate users' income, college and other characteristics.

The conclusion that drove the headlines was this, that for the poor, the best ticket out of poverty is having wealthy friends. It's a part of social capital known as economic connectedness. The more connections between the rich and the poor, the better the neighborhood was at lifting children out of poverty.

The new data provided validation to the long standing work of Harvard political scientist Robert Putnam, who in 2000, published a book called "Bowling Alone, the Collapse and Revival of American Community," which dealt with declining social capital.

On my Sirius XM radio program this week, he told me this.


ROBERT PUTNAM, HARVARD UNIVERSITY PROFESSOR: What's keeping kids from moving up is the increasing rarity with which poor kids or poor adults talk to rich adults. That is our society is becoming increasingly segregated, in always, by social class. We don't go to school with people who come from a different background as we do. And even if we do go to school them, we don't hang out with them."


SMERCONISH: Putnam says that we've been headed our separate ways for a while, but that the internet has accelerated the trends. Well, Bill Bishop dealt with that consequence in his 2009 book, "The Big Sort." His premise was that 50 years ago, we disengaged as a society think fewer Elks clubs, fewer bowling leagues, fewer local newspaper subscriptions. And when we reengaged in the Internet era, we did so among the like-minded.

And I would add to this list of social scientists, Charles Murray, who analyzed what happens when there's little intersection between the rich and the poor. In his 2013 book coming apart, Murray chronicled our increasing class segregation. He cited Belmont in Massachusetts, the Kensington section of Philadelphia, and said that we live among those who are like us, which further perpetuates are coming apart, because the better off can't as easily extend opportunity to the less fortunate when they don't cross paths.

So, put it all together and what does it mean? It means that good things happen when we intermingle and have common experiences, the sort that my father told me benefited him from his Korean war experience. Day one people from different backgrounds all across the country suddenly reduced to the same haircut, uniform, cut, food. Where you came from that didn't matter people lived and they work together, they had to build bridges.

And today, that too, is lacking. Every branch of the U.S. military now struggling to meet its fiscal year 2022 recruiting goals, fewer Americans are choosing to serve their country in this fashion. And no doubt, when we're all living in our bubbles it perpetuates the political divide, driven further by gerrymandering and self-sorting.

So, if there's so much data, pointing to societal benefit when we get out of our bubbles where can we find more of that sense of communion? Where are you inclined to be with someone dissimilar?


Here are a few that came from my radio conversation with Professor Putnam, student exchange programs, houses of worship, volunteerism, maybe mandatory government service that need not be military, youth sports. And I would add to that list, the workplace, like the military, in many cases, it's an environment where dissimilar people are united for common purpose, the carpark, the cafeteria, diverse clients, company meetings, those in the C suite having to deal with those in the warehouse.

The workplace is yet another opportunity for fostering friendships of the type that lift the poor out of poverty and bridge our political divide, but not when practiced over a Zoom call. The new data found that bringing people together is not enough on its own. Relationships need to be forged. And they won't be if we're only connected by Ethernet.

About my next guest, the "New York Times" recently asked is Scott Galloway, the Howard Stern of the business world? My answer is yes.

Scott Galloway is a professor at NYU Stern School of Business, a serial entrepreneur who founded nine companies, the author of multiple books, including the upcoming "Adrift, America in 100 Charts," which is out September 20.

So, Professor, you heard the commentary, why do you think this disparity exists between the larger cities and return to work and the smaller cities?

SCOTT GALLOWAY, PROFESSOR OF MARKETING, NYU STERN SCHOOL OF BUSINESS: Hi, Michael, good to be with you. I think in addition to some of the factors you mentioned, and that is the bigger cities tend to be kind of lean blue and have a different approach to the pandemic, they also have longer commute times. I think people are more scared about contracting COVID on the subway or on the Long Island Railroad.

But also in big cities, I think that the tension between capital and labor, advantages labor, and that is a young worker in an urban area with a degree and certification, quite frankly, just has more options, and can demand that he or she work from home. In addition, you have a better deal on the side of capital in the sense that if here -- if the firm has lesser demand for office space, more of it flows to shareholders, because office space is much more expensive in urban areas. So you have political leanings, you have labor, which has more options and chooses to stay at home and has the ability to stay at home.

Why are people working remotely? Because they can. And you also have firms that have decided that it's not a bad deal. I have a venture backed EdTech company when I sent everybody home from my firm and abandoned our office or gave our office back to the landlord in April of 2020, we cut a million dollars a year out of our budget. So it's sort of the perfect storm of things. It's created a bifurcation in the approach to work from home across different regions.

SMERCONISH: What do you think the impact is on the real estate itself? Catherine (ph), put up the Peggy Noonan quote. Peggy Noonan in the Wall Street Journal, in referencing the abandoned office buildings spoke of them being a metaphor for decline. How do you see it, Scott?

GALLOWAY: Well, Peter Drucker was right, the a great economist said in the 60s that large office buildings would be like the pyramids, and that is we would come to marvel at them, but they wouldn't serve any functional purpose. And you capture what is going to be a huge economic shift. And that is, most people would or most economists would estimate commercial real estate, it's somewhere between four and $12 trillion, based on if include retail or medical office space.

And if most firms go the way of Apple and ask of their employees come back three days a week, and by the way, Apple is having a tough time enforcing that, you're talking about a net destruction and demand of about 40 percent of an asset class, a multi trillion dollar asset class or put it another way. You're going to have the dispersion or the transfer of the GDP of Japan or Germany from commercial real estate from offices to residential real estate. And we've already seen it happen. We've seen home prices skyrocket, we see rents up 20 to 28 percent across our major metros, but we see malls and office space declined dramatically. So we're seeing one of the biggest shifts in asset classes of the last 30-40 years, and that's from commercial real estate to residential.

SMERCONISH: Will you take our final 30 seconds and respond to the arguments I made about social capital? You've spoken yourself about relationships and how people working remotely impact relationships.

GALLOWAY: It's pretty simple. If you're young and you're ambitious, get into the office. Your career is a function. Your career trajectory is a function of relationships, and that is there are two or three people go qualify for every job and the decider who gets to decide, who gets the promotion will pick the person to have the best relationship with. So, relationships are a function of proximity.


So before you collect dogs and spouses, get into the office, establish mentors, establish friends and also establish partnerships, a third of relationships begin at work. We have taken away a great platform for establishing relationships. Don't give up on it. Get into the office while you can, while you're young.

SMERCONISH: Hey, don't cut Scott's feed. Let's let him respond to this comment. It comes from YouTube, I think.

Put it up, Catherine, and I'll read it aloud and he'll know what it is. I hate the work from home for my 29-year-old, he needs the social interaction, needs to learn how to read the room. Scott, you think what?

GALLOWAY: Putting on a shirt, blow drying your hair, learning how to behave around others, we need guardrails. When we don't have guardrails, we come off the tracks, we literally go crazy. Young people need to be around other people. Anyone who has little boys or little girls know that the key to their emotional wellbeing is that they socialize with other people. And that is the same for young adults.

SMERCONISH: Appreciate you as always. Thank you so much.

My two heroes, by the way. You and Howard Stern in the same "New York Times" headline, who'd have thought it?

GALLOWAY: Go on. Go on, Michael.

SMERCONISH: Up ahead, part of the reason Donald Trump is looking like a kingmaker this primary season. Democrats have helped promote the more extreme Republican candidates, thinking they'll be easier to beat in the general election this fall. But what if they aren't?

And if unemployment is at a 50-year low? Why are beaches so short on lifeguards? Why is McDonald's holding drive in hiring events? Well, because today's young people are shunning entry level jobs. But in doing so, I think they're missing out on a lot of important life skills.

Plus, I tried to go toe to toe with rock star Roger Waters, whose new tour, "This is not a Drill," is peppered with political imagery. Why does a preshow announcement tell those who don't want to hear his politics to eff off to the bar?

Well, that leads me to this week's poll question Go and vote on this. Do you support entertainers, even when you disagree with their politics?


ROGER WATERS, SINGER: If you don't know that, you're not reading enough? Go and read about it.

SMERCONISH: OK. Did we solve anything here today?

WATERS: This -- no. Well, yes, we did. Well, I mean, no, we didn't.

SMERCONISH: I mean, Nancy --

WATERS: Because you're believing your propaganda, your sides of propaganda.

SMERCONISH: You're defining it as prop (ph) again.

WATERS: But Taiwan --




SMERCONISH: Are Democrats playing with fire? This week, Congressman Peter Meijer, who was one of the few Republicans in the House to impeach former President Trump after January 6, narrowly lost his primary against John Gibbs, who Trump endorsed.

Meijer was the first freshman Congressman in American history to vote for the impeachment of a president of his own party. Republicans and even some of the left placed the blame for the one term congressman's loss on Democrats. The party's campaign arm, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee spent over $400,000 elevating Gibbs with big ad buys like this.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: John Gibbs is too conservative for West Michigan. Handpicked by Trump to run for Congress. Gibbs called Trump the greatest president.

The Gibbs-Trump agenda is too conservative for West Michigan.

DCCC is responsible for the content of this advertising.


SMERCONISH: In other words, the Democrats spent more on Gibbs campaign than he spent the entire race. Meijer is accusing the Democrats of not just helping his Republican opponent but quote subsidizing his entire campaign. And the ads messaging, that Meijer can't believes, raised Gibbs appeal among the district's conservative voters and gave him name recognition he could not otherwise afford.

And this isn't the only case, the left has spent 10s of millions interfering in multiple GOP primaries across the country. In my home state of Pennsylvania in the gubernatorial race, Democratic nominee Josh Shapiro ran an ad that appeared to elevate MAGA candidate Doug Mastriano, who went on to win the Republican primary.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Senator Doug Mastriano, was also accused of passing barricades and police lines as a mob took over the Capitol building.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now, Mastriano says he could overturn future election results and let politicians handpick the winners ignoring the vote of the people.

DOUG MASTRIANO, (R) GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE, PENNSYLVANIA: As governor, I get to decertify any or all machines in the state.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Doug Mastriano, he's extreme and way too risky for Pennsylvania.


SMERCONISH: So what's the left's goal in theory to boost more conservative Trump endorsed candidates so that Democrats don't have to face more moderate Republicans in the fall. It's a controversial tactic one that even the "New York Times" called repugnant and risky, but it's not new.

In 2012, former Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill was a vulnerable Democrat in a state turning increasingly red. Her campaign saw Republican Todd Akin as the weakest and easiest to defeat. They began airing ads promoting his conservatism hoping to give his candidacy a boost.

McCaskill strategy worked, Akin won the primary, she cruised to victory over him winning reelection by 16 points. But will it pay off for Democrats this November? And if it doesn't, are they prepared for the consequences?

With me now to discuss is Richard Hasen, a UCLA law professor, director of the Safeguarding Democracy Project.

Professor, nice to have you back. So, put that quote back up on from the "New York Times." They said, this is a disappointing low for the Democratic Party, President Biden and party leaders should renounce this repugnant and risky strategy. Wherein lies the risk?


RICHARD HASEN, DIRECTOR, SAFEGUARDING DEMOCRACY PROJECT: So I think what's different here is that, you know, we've always had parties interfering. You've had Republicans supporting green candidates and Democrats supporting libertarians. What's different here is that there are major parts of the Republican Party that are not supporting democracy. And what you need to have a working democracy is people who support democracy in both major parties.

If Democrats knock off the few Republicans who are willing to speak up or willing to say, Donald Trump was violating the rule of law, he was trying to steal an election. It's going to be a lot harder to keep our democracy together. And they really are playing with fire, as you said in your introduction.

SMERCONISH: So here's a comment. I'll put this on the screen and I'll share it out loud so that you know what it says, from that same "New York Times" editorial, one reader says, The Cook Political Report changed Meijer's district from lean Republican to lean democratic. My question to you, it seems to work.

HASEN: Well, it might work. It might not work in Pennsylvania, if you look at the polling in the governor's race. And what you see in the Pennsylvania governor's race is that mainstream Republicans who were shunning Mastriano in the primary are now uniting behind him. Meijer is now uniting behind Gibbs.

I mean, this is really bad stuff because not only might these anti- Democratic candidates win, but imagine if you had the January 6 committee, but there was no Liz Cheney, there was no Adam Kinzinger, these people are being forced out of the party. And, you know, obviously, it takes Republican voters to vote for them. So this is not mainly a democratic problem. But Democrats are making things worse when they target the few prodemocracy voices in the Republican Party. That's why I think this is different than the normal politics of trying to pick a weaker opponent.

SMERCONISH: Theoretically, might this cause an extremist candidate on the left or the right to try and rein in their own behavior so that they're not catching flack from both sides during primary season? And then perhaps that person gets elected? And we really don't know what we have on our hands with them.

HASEN: I think the more likely scenario is that someone who is, you know, an Adam Kinzinger type, someone who is deciding, do I speak up against what Donald Trump has done to the Republican Party? They now know they're not only going to take incoming from their own party, they're going to take it from the Democrats too who are going to try and pick them off. So just creates more incentives.

So, you know, there's just -- there are not that many Republicans who are willing to speak up against nascence authoritarianism. And when Democrats target those people, it might be a good short term strategy, but it's one that depends on the idea that only Democrats can save democracy.

And I think what we see what the January 6 commission, thinks are much stronger when you've got both Democrats and Republicans who are standing up for the rule of law.

SMERCONISH: You make a good point, because I spoke to Congressman Meijer yesterday, and I'm paraphrasing, but he said, I know I'm not the only one among the Republicans who felt as I felt, I was one of the few willing to say it and vote that way. And yours is a good point. Other Republicans are looking at him and they don't want to go the way of Peter Meijer, they don't want to go to the way perhaps of Liz Cheney. We're going to find out soon.

Thank you, Professor Hasen. I always appreciate seeing you here.

HASEN: Great to be with you.

SMERCONISH: More social media reaction, find me on Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, et cetera, et cetera. What do we got?

It's a risky, borderline stupid strategy that is being given way, way too much credit and blame. I don't know, Cap. I -- when I look -- I mean, I know the Pennsylvania situation best, Mastriano won that race, in the end, you know, Trump put his thumb on that scale. And of course, there was the Shapiro ad. And when the Shapiro ad ran, it's the sort of thing where I immediately said, well, if in the end, Josh Shapiro was elected governor, then people are going to say, that was brilliant. Hey, you remember when Shapiro ran that commercial and elevated Mastriano so they could portray him as being a kook.

But then again, if Republicans coalesce around Mastriano in what's still perceived to be a strong Republican year, and he pulls it out, I think people will look back and they'll say, remember that commercial that Shapiro ran, man, was that stupid?

Up ahead, if America's job numbers are so robust, then why are several McDonald's holding a drive up recruitment seeking 14,000 new workers? I'll tell you why. Because kids don't want to do entry level jobs anymore. And that's a mistake that I think could impact their futures.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you're one of those "I love Pink Floyd, but I can't stand Roger's politics people, you might do well to (bleep) off to the bar right now.


SMERCONISH: On Roger Waters' latest concert tour, fans get a lot more than music. They hear many of the former Pink Floyd front man's political grievances. I'll ask Roger Waters why he thinks rock arenas are the proper venue for that. Which brings me to this week's poll question, go to, I'm curious, do you support entertainers even when you disagree with their politics?



SMERCONISH: Whatever happened to kids working summer jobs? The just released Bureau of Labor Statistics Report shows 528,000 jobs added in July, employment down to 3.5 percent, the lowest in nearly 50 years. So what's the problem?

Well, on my radio program and in my personal orbit, I'm hearing many stories from small business owners who are trying to fill entry level kinds of summer jobs and they can. They'll hire someone who will show up the first day maybe but not necessarily in the second week. Many pools and beaches nationwide are having trouble finding lifeguards. In Chicago, a restaurant tour lured away busboys from a competitor by guaranteeing them $1,000 a week.


In Roanoke, Virginia, and in several locations in North Carolina, McDonald's holding a drive-up event Tuesday trying to find 14,000 new recruits. According to the American Hotel and Lodging Association, 97 percent of its respondents are experiencing staff shortages and nearly half of all hotels are severely understaffed.

I think it has become a generational problem. In the '70s I had lots of varied employment experiences. Yes, McDonald's, I was a maintenance man. The Mountain Lake Pool and Patio company, I was a truck driver. Delivered flowers, washed dishes at an ice cream parlor and more. And I would think that I learned many life lessons doing those jobs, they served me well. In fact a decade ago I wrote a column in the "Philadelphia Inquirer" about exactly this phenomenon, the value of a summer job.

But these days, many kids are instead spending their summers enhancing their resumes with internships and other save the world kind of stuff to look good on their college application. Is it catching up to us that a generation which bypassed and is still bypassing entry-level jobs is now struggling to hold down something that's more permanent?

My next guest expressed similar thoughts in a recent piece in the "New York Times," "The Best Extracurricular May Be An After-School Job," which includes this line, "Having an afternoon job cultivates skills like time management and instills a sense of independence and personal responsibility, attributes that many college administrators say some student lack today."

Joining me now is Pamela Paul, opinion columnist for "The Times." She was previously the editor of "The Times Book Review" and is the author of eight books including "100 Things We've Lost to the Internet."

Pamela, you wrote this. "Personally, I learned more working outside school -- starting with three afternoons a week when I was 14 and ending with three jobs juggled, seven days a week, my senior year of high school -- than I did in the classroom." Give me an example of something you learned.

PAMELA PAUL, OPINION COLUMNIST, NEW YORK TIMES: Well, I mean, for one thing, when you're working outside the school you're not just around people your age and people in your own situation. You're working with people from a wide range of backgrounds. People who are older than you. People who are living paycheck-to-paycheck. I think you learn a lot more about how the real world works and about how the economy works when you're outside of school than you are when you're within it.

SMERCONISH: Here's an interesting critique that was appended to your column in "The Times." I'll put it on the screen and I'll read it aloud. A self-described San Diego professor says, "What extra- curriculars teach self-discipline, effort, competition, being a good sport, working with others? Sports -- making an effort, playing on a team, dealing with defeat. Music -- working hard at the athletic challenge of playing an instrument, playing in the band or orchestra, on a team. And much more -- crafts, art, writing poetry, building rockets, any of the things that take effort, produce results, and enhance one's life." Now, the key line, "Not flipping burgers."

Can you speak in defense of flipping burgers or I'll have to?

PAUL: Well, I never flipped burgers but I did scoop ice cream. I did work as a cashier in a supermarket. I did work as a hostess. I did work as a waitress. And I actually think there's a lot of value to doing that kind of work, including, for example, basic respect for all of the other people who end up doing that work for you.

So when you work in a service industry, you learn that you -- the customer is always right. You're always outward facing. You often have to suppress your own needs and desires because you are representing a company.

And I actually think those are all values. I think it's really important to have respect and an understanding of the hard work that flipping burgers involves.

SMERCONISH: To the extent this is a problem, and I believe that it is, you and I are kindred spirits on this issue. I think there's a very easy solution. And the solution is a clarion call from college admissions offices that say, "We respect you working at McDonald's. We respect the type of jobs that Pamela Paul had when she was in your station in life." I mean, isn't that part of what's driving this?

PAUL: You know, I think there's a misunderstanding. I honestly do think that more colleges, more college administrators value this than we assume that they do. I think that, you know, certainly, for kids who have to work, they understand that these kids are incredibly responsible, that they are contributing to their families.

And then I also think that it's a sign of, you know, good character that you would choose to be responsible for your own support rather than relying on a parent's allowance, even if you can afford not to work. So, you know, I think that colleges do respect that. I think maybe it's us parents who are often -- assume wrongly that that's not valued by universities.


SMERCONISH: I hope you're right. By the way, you're living proof. I mean, all those jobs that you held in college to the detriment of the traditional extracurriculars and it worked out well for you. I had to look it up. Brown, not too shabby.

PAUL: Well, I also had no talent with musical instruments or sports. I was lucky not to have much competition for my time.

SMERCONISH: Thank you so much for being here. I appreciate it.

PAUL: Thank you for having me.

SMERCONISH: Checking in on your social media reaction. Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, what do we got?

David -- Smerconish, when I was in high school, I couldn't follow my dreams because I had to work. Maybe now my generation is raising kids and making sure they get the chances we couldn't have. More drama club, less McD's.

It's funny because here I am so prideful, as many are in, you know, what I did when I was in my teens. And yet, do I walk the walk and talk the talk with my own kids? Not always. Somehow, it's like we've lost the lessons that we gleaned from our parents. But now, because we have it a little easier in life, we have made it perhaps too easy for our kids. Guilty as charged.

Still to come, I will talk to Pink Floyd co-founder and chief lyricist Roger Waters who is back on solo tour and ask him why he has updated his list of political targets to include President Biden, who he calls a war criminal just getting started.

Let me remind you to answer this week's poll question at Do you support entertainers even when you disagree with their politics?



SMERCONISH: On Pink Floyd co-founder Roger Waters' current solo tour, instead of turning down the politics, he's amping them up to 11. Last time out, he preached against Donald Trump and in favor of Palestine. This tour, twice delayed by COVID and ominously titled "This is Not a Drill," includes references to police murdering Black men, semiautomatic weapons and abortion, and giant video screens in the shape of a cross.

Waters' guitarist Jonathan Wilson has explained why Waters' tour differs from those of fellow older classic rockers -- quote -- "Even the Stones or members of the Beatles, it's more of a trip down memory lane than it is a current show. The activism, that's sort of the key to the whole thing."

As a long-time fan of Waters' music who doesn't always agree with his messaging I wanted to ask him about his mix of performing and preaching. Things got a bit animated.


SMERCONISH: So, here's the quote, as I understand it begins the show.

ROGER WATERS, CO-FOUNDER, PINK FLOYD: If you are one of those "I love Pink Floyd, but I can't understand Roger's politics" people, you might do well to (EXPLETIVE DELETED) off to the bar right now.

SMERCONISH: "You might do well to F off to the bar right now," at the outset of the show?



WATERS: Because it's a really good way to start the show. Apart from anything else it sets a few things straight.


WATERS: Well -- it also encourages a lot of the people who have come to the show. A, because they have listened to everything I've written since, you know, 1965 or whenever I started writing songs. So they do know what my politics are and they do understand what my heart is. And they understand sort of why I'm there.

But maybe it also gives a message to people who don't want to be there. In which case them effing off to the bar is probably not a bad idea. Except that you never know those people, if they sit in a community like my audience is, on these shows of "This is Not a Drill," on this tour, there is such a great feeling of communication in that room between me and the audience and between us combined, with all of our brothers and sisters, all over the rest of the world, irrespective of who they are, where they live, their ethnicity, their religion, their nationality or anything else. Because if "This is Not a Drill" has a message it is that we have to communicate with one with the other.

SMERCONISH: To the guy who says, shut the F up, play the hits, do you want him -- as long as he doesn't shout it out, do you want him in the arena?

WATERS: I don't not want him there. As long as he doesn't annoy the people who do understand what's going on in the arena I'm happy for him to be there.

SMERCONISH: But I'm saying like do I have to buy in? Does a person in the crowd have to buy in to the message?

I have always loved the music. Some of the messages I can buy into and some I can't.

WATERS: I've only got one message. Two strangers passing in the street, by chance two passing glances meet, and I am you and what I see is me, that is my message. And that was on "Meddle" which was in 1970. And, basically, my message hasn't changed. I recognize your humanity but I recognize all the Russians and the Chinese and the Ukrainian and the Yemenis and the Palestinians.

SMERCONISH: Are you an equal opportunity offender on this tour? Here's why I ask. I remember the last tour, of course, I came and watched, very much, you know, about Trump. And in the current show, you've got a montage of war criminals, according to you, and a picture apparently of President Biden on the screen and it says, "Just getting started." What's that all about?

WATERS: President Joe Biden.


WATERS: Well, he's fueling the fire in Ukraine for a start. That is a huge crime. Why won't the United States of America encourage Zelenskyy, the president, to negotiate, obviating the need for this horrific, horrendous war that's killing --

SMERCONISH: You're blaming --

WATERS: We don't know how many Ukrainians and Russians --

SMERCONISH: But you're blaming the party that got invaded.


Come on. You've got it reverse.


WATERS: No. Well, that's -- you know, any war, when did it start, what you need to do is look at the history and you can say, well, it started on this day. You could say it started in 2008. OK? It's basically -- this war is basically about the action and reaction of NATO pushing right up to the Russian border, which they promised they wouldn't do when Gorbachev negotiated the withdrawal of the USSR from the whole of Eastern Europe.

SMERCONISH: When you say this, then I have to say what about our role as liberators? You of all people --

WATERS: You have no role as liberators.

SMERCONISH: World War II -- World War II -- you lost your father -- come on.

WATERS: You got into World War II because of Pearl Harbor -- Pearl Harbor. You were completely isolationist until that sad, that devastating, awful day.

SMERCONISH: I would argue we were always going to get in and that pushed us in, but thank God the United States got in, right? You lost your father in World War II. Thank God the United States --


WATERS: Thank God the Russians had already won the bloody war almost by then. Don't forget 23 million Russians died protecting you and me from the Nazi menace.

SMERCONISH: And you would think the Russians would have learned their lesson from war and wouldn't have invaded Ukraine, fair?

WATERS: Well, you -- you with all your reading -- I would suggest to you, Michael, that you go away and read a bit more and then try and figure out what the United States would do if the Chinese were putting nuclear-armed missiles into Mexico and Canada.

SMERCONISH: The Chinese are too busy encircling Taiwan as we speak, OK.

WATERS: They're not encircling Taiwan. Taiwan is part of China. And that's been absolutely accepted by the whole of the international community since 1948. And if you don't know that, you're not reading enough. Go and read about it.

SMERCONISH: OK. Did we solve anything here today?

WATERS: No. Well, yes, we did. I mean, no, we didn't because you're believing your propaganda, your side's propaganda.

SMERCONISH: You're defining it as propaganda.

WATERS: But Taiwan -- you cannot -- you can't have a conversation about human rights and you can't have a conversation about Taiwan without actually doing the reading.

SMERCONISH: Roger -- Roger, if you are having a conversation about human rights, at the top of the list of offenders are the Chinese. Why is it always the western world -- why is it always the western world?

WATERS: It's at the top of your -- the Chinese didn't invade Iraq and kill a million people in 2003. In fact, as far as I can recall, hang on a minute, who have the Chinese invaded and murdered, slaughtered?

SMERCONISH: Their own. Their own.

WATERS: Bollocks.


WATERS: That's absolute nonsense. Complete nonsense. You should go away and read but read some proper literature --

SMERCONISH: Hey, my problem is I spend too much reading your liner notes. OK? Thank you for doing this. I appreciate it.

WATERS: Thanks. Appreciate you talking to me.

SMERCONISH: All right.

WATERS: It's always a pleasure.

SMERCONISH: Is it? OK. Oh, my God. You're such a troublemaker.

WATERS: Please don't call me that.


WATERS: My god.


SMERCONISH: Still to come, more of your best and worst tweets and Facebook comments, and we will give you the final result of the poll question. By the way, now that you have watched the Roger Waters exchange, it crystallizes this week's poll question. Do you support entertainers even when you disagree with their politics? Go vote.



SMERCONISH: This is going to be interesting. Time to see how you responded to the poll question this week at By the way, when you go to the Web site register for the daily newsletter. You'll enjoy it.

The question, do you support entertainers even when you disagree with their politics? I'm thinking about my summer concert season. So far I have seen Dead and Company, Jon Anderson with the Paul Green Rock Academy, going to see them again, and Roger Waters. The politics, if I had to analyze Dead and Company, Jon Anderson and Roger Waters and then decide if I'm going to buy the tickets, I can't imagine what show I would end up going to. So you know how I'm voting.

Give me the result. Let's see. Sixty -- do you support -- whoa! Are you kidding me? Do you support entertainers even when you -- two- thirds of you are saying, nope, that's it. Like if you just heard what Roger had to say to me about Ukraine, about Russia, about the legacy of the United States and World War II, that's it, I am not going to go hear him do "Sheep" or "Another Brick in the Wall Part IV." I'm surprised.

Here is some of the social media reaction that came in this week. What do we have?

Don't know about the using their platform part of it. One reason, not the only one, for example, I lost interest in the Oscars.

Interesting because it was just too activism. You know, it is funny. I wouldn't stay -- but here is a great example. I wouldn't stay away from a movie because of an actor or an actress, but if the presentation at the Oscars is over-the-top I can understand why that would cause ratings to tank. But when you are watching the film or when you are listening to him play the bass and sing those songs, you are not thinking about the politics.

Some more social media reaction. What do we have?

I tell you what happened to summer jobs, colleges. The requirements to get a scholarship. No one wants student loans. My children are busy with sports and music requirements to get scholarships so that they can attend college.

Yes, the escalating price, I'm sure, but you would think -- then it is kind of contradictory because you would think if money is the factor then all the more kids would be out there getting a summer job.


I think that the word needs to go out from the schools that says, "Minimum wage employment as you are applying to school is just fine with us. We respect it."

One more, Catherine, if I have time for it. What do we got?

Social interaction is necessary for society to grow. I feel truly the rich getting richer and poor getting poorer is happening. True loss of the middle class.

Well, one solution to that is you rise those who are poor out by having them foster relationships, extend a hand and establish real relationships. One more real quick. Go ahead. Let's see it. Go ahead.

You really need to save the last 10 minutes of your show to answer comments. John, I keep saying that. I will see you next week.