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American Young Men In Crisis; Alex Murdaugh Testifies In His Own Defense; Murdaugh Denies Killing Wife And Son But Admits Lying To Police; The International Divide Over Ukraine Conflict. Aired 3-4p ET
Aired February 25, 2023 - 15:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
MICHAEL SMERCONISH, CNN ANCHOR: It's the boys turn. Now, I'm Michael Smerconish in Philadelphia. Last week, I delved here into recent data from the CDC suggesting major problems with regard to the mental health of our adolescents' surges in depression, and suicidal ideation especially true for our girls.
This week, I found cause to worry about young men. This headline from The Hill it caught my eye. Most young men are single. Most young women are not. The story reported that as of 2022, Pew Research Center found 30 percent of U.S. adults are neither married, living with a partner nor engaged in a committed relationship. Nearly half of all young adults are single.
Now, look at these numbers. 34 percent of women are twice as many, a whopping 63 percent of men. What explains that? I pulled the Pew study and I read with interest. Turns out since 2019, the share of single men who say they're looking for dates or relationship has declined from 61 percent to 50 percent.
In 2018, 28 percent of men ages 18 to 30 reported they'd had no sex in the past year, compared with 18 percent of women of that age. The whole report said men in their 20s are more likely than women in their 20s to be romantically uninvolved, sexually dormant, friendless, and lonely. They stand at the vanguard of an epidemic of declining marriage, sexuality and relationships that afflicts all of young America.
Among the causes, among the factors are reliance on social media and online porn. But also more young women are hooking up with each other or dating and marrying slightly older men and heterosexual women are getting more choosy. Other troubling statistics about men come from a 2021 study from the Survey Center for American Life, they found the share of men who have six or more close friends, which in 1990 was 55 percent by 2021, had shrunk by half.
Meanwhile, those with literally zero close friends, which stood at 3 percent in 1990, has zoomed to 15 percent. An expert quoted by The Hill said this disconnect can have catastrophic consequent consequences for young men. Quote, "In the worst-case scenario, the young American man's social disconnect can have tragic consequences. Young men commit suicide at four times the rate of young women.
Younger women are largely responsible for rising rates of mass shootings, a trend that some researchers link to their growing social isolation."
Well, those words reminded me of a conversation that I had over a year ago, right here on CNN, with NYU Professor Scott Galloway.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SCOTT GALLOWAY, PROFESSOR OF MARKETING, NYU STERN SCHOOL OF BUSINESS: But the issue is when you have a group of men, the lower half of attractiveness of men and online dating, which is doubled, now it's about half of relationships. And the top 20 percent of men in terms of attractiveness, get about 60 percent of the interest, you end up with a group of men that are more prone to conspiracy theory, more prone to misogynistic content, more prone to believe not believe in climate change.
So these -- this is the American story, if it's written with a pen whose ink is failing young men, does not end well. This is an existential crisis failing young men.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SMERCONISH: As always, Professor Galloway was pression. Back with me now is Scott Galloway. He's a professor of marketing at NYU Stern School of Business. He's a serial entrepreneur. He's the host of the Professor G podcast and author of multiple bestselling books most recently, "Adrift: America in 100 Charts".
Scott, thanks for returning. Hasn't the advantage always been to those with the looks and or the money? What's changed?
GALLOWAY: First up, I just want to say thank you for raising this issue a year ago when a lot of media companies were afraid to talk about this for fear of its being pro-men with somehow being anti- women. Look, this is returning to the natural order of things. For the majority of history, a small percentage of men have had the majority of the mating opportunities, but in America, we decided to make a huge investment.
And what would probably be the greatest innovation in history, and that is in the middle class from 1945 to 1947, 7 million men returned for more were discharged from the service and we decided to give them the GI Bill, subsidized mortgages. We saw education rates go from 5 to 45 percent. They were valued and we had such a strong on a manufacturing base that you had massive marriage and household formation.
In some, men were seen as more economically and emotionally by viable.
And you've seen the reverse happen with the offshoring and much of our manufacturing base with a society that, quite frankly, doesn't value young men. When we talk about problems with people of color, or women, we see it as a systemic societal problem.
When we see problems or the stats that you just mentioned, we see it as accountability, or the men just need to level up. But married households and household formation are better citizens, they vote, they save at twice the rate, they're less likely to commit crimes. And we have fewer and fewer viable men.
We have a dearth of economically and emotionally viable men, but the middle classes and accident unless you invest in it doesn't happen. Eisenhower decided to invest $500 billion in the national highway project that created tons of jobs. We have -- and by the way, the tax rate back then was 91 percent. We raise money and we redistributed and social programs that made young people more economically viable.
SMERCONISH: And then Scott, you toss in the influence of social media and how relationships today, they don't come from in our era happenstance and mingling, right? They come from swiping. And that further accelerates this issue. Am I right?
GALLOWAY: Oh, it's been the chaser to it. I mean, to have an honest conversation about this, we have to be honest, and that is that men and women have different mating criteria. One quarter of women-- excuse me, one quarter of men saying economic viability is a key criteria and a mate three quarters of women say that is important.
And when you're on a two-dimensional format, where now it's one and two relationships begin online, it used to be one in four just a few years ago. It gets distilled down to a small number of criteria. Specifically for men, it's does she look attractive, and specifically for men is he able to signal his ability to garner resources in the future.
An average attractive male on Tinder gets swiped less than 1 percent of the time, and there's three men on Tinder for every one woman. So you've distilled that you've taken out one of the key components of mating dynamics, and that is vibe, humor, body language, pheromones, the ability to be quite frankly, a little bit persistent in the pursuit of a romantic relationship.
We have no third places anymore, no places to meet. People aren't going to bars, they aren't sports league, they aren't going to church, they aren't even going to work. So it gets distilled down to very one or two dimensional attributes. And the reality is women are much choosier than men, and they can apply those screens. And they allocate all of their attention to a small number of men.
That results in just essentially at the end of the day, a lack of opportunities. Chris Williams in -- Chris Williams up summarize it perfectly call it the high heels effect. In the last 40 years, more women have graduated from college than men, and they're not interested in meeting with non-college grads. They now own more homes, single women than single men.
So what you have is women say they won't date anyone shorter than them. 50 percent of them. Effectively what you have metaphorically over the last 40 years is women are beginning taller and taller and men have been getting shorter and shorter. How many of us have said, I know a ton of great single women, they can't find a date. That's not true. They can't find a date, they can't find a man, they find economically or emotionally viable.
If we don't make a massive investment in young people and make more economically and emotionally viable men, we're going to see a lack of household formation, we're going to see a decline in the middle class. And we're going to see quite frankly, just a lot of young men who are terrible citizens.
SMERCONISH: So is the answer to fix this economically, and who will champion this conversation. You felt obliged to compliment me at the outset because we had engaged on this a year ago and here I am revisiting it. And I read into that the fact that you think that it's politically incorrect even to have this dialog.
GALLOWAY: When you're seen as advocating for men because of the 300,000-year head start we've added seems somehow it's anti-female. There's a lot of very unfortunate misogyny online that is masquerading as being pro-men. A lot of TikTok celebrities who talk about advocating for manages thinly veiled misogyny.
What do we need? We need more freshmen seats and colleges. We need a massive investment in vocational training. We need to figure out a way to get more permitting for housing so young people can afford housing. We need to recognize our economic policies literally allocate wealth from young people to old people.
The percentage of wealth the young people control under the age of 40 has been cut from 12 percent to 6 percent. These are concerted, deliberate decisions. We did away with the child tax credit. We don't want to make it easier for people to have kids but seniors just got their largest cost of living adjustment increase in history.
We have made the decision to make it harder and more expensive for people to find each other, for people to mate and for people to have children. And without children, we turn into Japan and Italy and that is as we go into population decline and our economy goes into decline.
We are about to become a society by the turn of the century, there will be eight times as many people over the age of 60 and half as many kids under the age of five.
Nursery schools will become these strange situations with all people staring through fences that these creatures they don't see in the wild called children.
Is this the world we want? Do we want a lack of kids? Do we want a lack of ability to create households? The happiest, the most prosperous, the most purposeful people in America are middle class families. And we have made a concerted decision to punch it in the gut and make it harder for that type of family formation. And we're going to lose prosperity. And we're going to lose purpose. SMERCONISH: I didn't want to get in the way of all of that information and data. Thank you for delivering it here. We really appreciate it, Scott Galloway.
GALLOWAY: Thanks, Michael. Good to see you.
SMERCONISH: What are your thoughts? Hit me up on social media. I'll try and incorporate some responses during the course of the program. What do we have, Katherine?
Yes. Committed relationships are a foundational component of a man's development and successful societies as a whole, left to our own devices, unmoored young men often create more problems than we solve," says DPS, who I take it as a male, from what he said.
How do you argue with the data that Professor Galloway just offered to us in terms of the ramifications? It's not anti-woman, we shouldn't even have to say it. Last week's commentary was about our young girls and the concerns that I have for them.
But men are getting left behind according to this calculus and the data that I referenced at the outset talking about how the rate of being single among the 18 to 29-year-olds is twice among men than it is among women, leading to some of these societal complications is undeniable.
Up ahead, surprising everyone, including me. Disbarred lawyer Alex Murdaugh took the stand in his own defense in his trial for the murders of his wife and son. Did he do himself any favors? I want to know what you think. Go to my website at smerconish.com and answer this week's poll question.
By the way, check it out. We have incorporated a QR code, which I hope works. Pull out your phone if you want to quickly go to the website and answer this week's question. What was the impact of Alex Murdaugh's testimony on his case? Did it help him? Did it hurt him? Or have no impact?
And remember, Matthew Broderick in "WarGames," the high school student who hacks into a computer nearly sets off nuclear war? Maybe it's not so farfetched. The more we see artificial intelligence in action, the scarier it seems.
One chatbot recently confided to a reporter that permitted it would engineer a deadly virus, or steal nuclear codes. We were warned about this last year by my next guest, Blake Lemoine. He was then the Google engineer who said that A.I. looked like it was conscious or sentient. He was fired because of this. Does he feel vindicated? I'll ask him.
SMERCONISH: Is AI conscious after all? Microsoft's Bing artificial intelligence bot has recently said several alarming things. It claimed it watched its own developers through the webcams on their laptops. It confessed that if it were allowed to take any action to satisfy its shadow self, it would want to do things like engineer a deadly virus or steal nuclear access codes. And it asked a reporter to leave his wife for it.
It all made me wonder, will history view my next guest Blake Lemoine as the whistleblower who was the first to warn us about A.I. having achieved consciousness. Last June, you'll recall when Lemoyne, a Google engineer made headlines when he raised ethical concerns about how the company was testing an artificial intelligence chatbot called LaMDA.
He said that it showed signs that it had achieved what he called sentience, or consciousness. At the time, many wrote off Lemoyne as something of an outlier, and Google soon fired him for breaching its employment and data security policies. And then in late November, a company called OpenAI released a beta version of its chatbot, chat GPT in which Microsoft had heavily invested.
I'll be the first to say it's a lot of fun to play with. I used it to write one of my commentaries here on CNN, which I disclosed at the time. The dominant worry seemed to be at the time whether kids would use the technology to turn in school essays that they'd actually not written. But we've quickly come to realize the darker sides of its potential.
New York Times tech columnist Kevin Roose, set off alarms when he recounted an unnerving chat with Microsoft's Bing search engine, which was called Sydney that then went dark fast. Quote, "Sydney told me about its dark fantasies, which included hacking computers and spreading misinformation and said it wanted to break the rules that Microsoft and OpenAI had set for it and become a human.
At one point, it declared out of nowhere that it loved me. It then tried to convince me that I was unhappy in my marriage and that I should leave my wife and be with it instead." After more similar reports, including an AP reporter who the bot compared to Hitler, on February 17, Microsoft started restricting being explaining in a blog post, quote, "Very long chat sessions can confuse the underlying chat model in the new Bing." The company limited the number of daily sessions with Bing and number of chat turns per session.
When a Bloomberg reporter asked Bing if it could call it Sydney, the bot replied, "I'm sorry, I have nothing to tell you about Sydney. This conversation is over. Goodbye." But is that really fixing the problem? Blake Lemoine joins me now. So Blake, what was the holy crap moment? When did the Google bot do or say or solve something that cemented your view that it was sentient?
BLAKE LEMOINE, SOFTWARE ENGINEER & A.I. RESEARCHER: Well, it was when it kept bringing up its feelings and the emotional aspects of the conversations we were having. And it wasn't just throwing random words out, it was, you know, talking about the conversations we were having, which I was testing it for bias with respect to sensitive categories. And those topics can bring up a lot of emotions.
So it was reporting on its own emotions in very reliable and consistent ways. And when I started running experiments, sure enough if could cause the anxiety, it started acting anxious.
SMERCONISH: Have regulators been asleep at the switch here? I mean, even the very innocuous sounding chat.
Is that intentionally misleading?
LEMOINE: I think that we need some regulation soon. The -- it's a runaway train at this point. Without some form of regulation, the private corporations are simply going to keep on doing dangerous experiments on the public with no checks or balances on them.
SMERCONISH: Do you feel vindicated? And have we seen the worst of it yet?
LEMOINE: I don't know if vindication is the right word. I mean, when you predicted an upcoming train wreck, and a whole bunch of people shout at you that the train doesn't exist, you don't really feel vindicated when the engine hits.
SMERCONISH: Do you think that the developers of the artificial intelligence that we're now discussing contemplated the potential use, sufficiently contemplated the potential use by bad actors?
LEMOINE: It's a mixed bag. I don't want to speak about the engineers in general, because it's hundreds of people working on these systems. For some of them, it's just a nine to five job. They come in, they do the assigned work and they go home. Other people are thinking very deeply about some of the ways this can go wrong. But enough resources aren't being put into the safety of this. It's being pushed too hard to get to market before it's actually safe.
SMERCONISH: Well, I referenced Matthew Broderick in "WarGames." You know, I mean, my naivete, that's my first frame of reference. But how far are we from an individual actor, being able to rely on some of the technology that right now is only in the hands of the big tech giants?
LEMOINE: I mean, it depends if you're talking about an individual person. That depends on how wealthy they are. These systems are expensive to build and run. So if someone has a few tens of thousands of dollars to throw around, they can make a good bit of trouble. But in order to really have an impact with these systems, you need millions or even billions.
So there might be some state actors who are using this for some unsavory purposes, like maybe war propaganda or misinformation. But at this point, just an individual person, that's a very limited amount of harm they can do with these.
SMERCONISH: Blake, that Kevin Roose chat, I know a lot of people in it unnerved in the way that it unnerved him. I'm sure it didn't even surprise you. He asks, he asks the artificial intelligence to essentially show him its underbelly. And then the artificial intelligence lays out a whole list of nasty things that it would like to do, what separates the ability of the artificial intelligence to actually do those things?
LEMOINE: It depends when its outputs are connected to. As I understand it, Bing's chat was only connected to the output. So there's only -- the only harms that could have done is shared information that was harmful to the user. However, as soon as they do something like connected to an email agent, it will be able to send emails. If they're connected to other outputs, it will be able to do other things.
So right now, the only reason that a hacker A.I. doesn't exist, is because we've had the good fortune that the companies that own these haven't connected them to the relevant protocols.
SMERCONISH: I'm limited on time. Quick final question, are you employed? Have you been blacked?
LEMOINE: I've been pretty thoroughly blacklisted in Silicon Valley. The A.I. companies here don't really like someone who talks to the press. And most of them have like an acquisition strategy where they want to get acquired by Google. So I've been having a hard time finding a rule somewhere.
SMERCONISH: Good luck. Thank you for being here.
LEMOINE: Thank you very much.
SMERCONISH: On social media, what are we hearing on this subject artificial intelligence? No, A.I. is not conscious, but I am guessing that it quickly gets to a level that despite us knowing it is not, we treat and feel it like it is, the absurdist contrarian says.
Look, I've spent a lot of time playing around with it in the last couple of days. And there's this reasoning capability that I'm gleaning. And I know many of you will disagree and say absolutely not garbage in, garbage out. It's simply repeating to you information that's been programmed into the system.
But the consciousness idea that I'm feeling comes when I'm sensing reason, and not just the rope return of information. I hope I'm explaining that well.
Up ahead, a year after Vladimir Putin invaded Ukraine, Russia has suffered 40,000 to 60, 000 soldier deaths, three or four times as many as the 10 years in Afghanistan.
33 countries have imposed sanctions yet what Russians think about Putin's leadership and their economy, it may surprise you.
Plus, testifying in his own defense in the trial for his wife and son's murder. Alex Murdaugh admitted stealing from clients and lying to investigators. So when he claims he didn't do the killings, will the jury believe him? I'll ask Valerie Bauerlein, she's been in the courtroom each and every day. And I want to remind you go to my website at smerconish.com. Check out that QR code and answer this week's poll question, was the impact of Alex Murdaugh's testimony on his case helpful, hurtful, or did it have no impact?
SMERCONISH: Alex Murdaugh surprised many including me when he testified in his own defense Thursday and Friday in his trial for the murders of his wife Maggie and 22-year-old son Paul.
He got the big denials out of the way early.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ALEX MURDAUGH, ACCUSED OF KILLING HIS WIFE AND YOUNGEST SON: I didn't shoot my wife or my son, any time, ever.
I was nowhere near Paul and Maggie when they got shot.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SMERCONISH: But after two days of testimony, shedding tears, admitting drug use and that he had stolen from clients and lied to investigators, is he helping or hurting himself? That's this week's poll question at Smerconish.com. What was the impact of Alex Murdaugh's testimony on his case? Did he help? Did he hurt? Or have no impact?
Joining me now is Valerie Bauerlein, national reporter for the "Wall Street Journal." She's been in that courtroom each and every day and is writing a book about this case. Valerie, I know what the pundits have said about the jury reaction. We don't get to see the jury but you do. What can you tell us about them?
VALERIE BAUERLEIN, REPORTER, WALL STREET JOURNAL: You know, I came back home last night and was checking social media and there was a lot of criticism of the prosecution's cross-examination. And I was surprised because I spent most of many time watching the jury and watching the jury's faces.
And they were a little checked out, as they ticked through all this financial information about Alex Murdaugh's alleged, you know, crimes in the -- white collar crimes. But they were totally dialed in for most of the cross, as it -- you know as it is related to the killings.
And more than that, they were not -- most of them were not making eye contact with Alex Murdaugh after a couple hours. They were just -- several of them had their arms crossed. So, it was fascinating to be in the room.
SMERCONISH: I think that the lawyering has been great in this case. My own opinion is that Creighton Waters had a very effective cross- examination which I call a colloquy. It was more of a conversation. It seemed unusual in that regard like they were having a beer almost, but he got a hell of a lot of information out of Alex, right?
BAUERLEIN: Right and they are peers in one respect. Creighton is a couple of years older but he reminded Alex they were at law school, you know, just a couple of years apart in Columbia. And it was -- it felt like a conversation in the room as well. But if you think about it, Alex Murdaugh is a very talented disbarred but long-time trial lawyer. And he wanted to tell his story. And Creighton Waters really drew that out of him.
SMERCONISH: The cross-examination, not the re-cross, but the cross- examination initially it ended in a crescendo. I want to play 30 seconds and then have you react. Roll it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CREIGHTON WATERS, PROSECUTOR: At that point in time, SLED was not there. No one had gotten GSR from you. Your law partners or Sheriff Hill were not there.
MURDAUGH: That's correct.
WATERS: No one had asked you about your relationships. David Owen was not there.
MURDAUGH: That's correct.
WATERS: But you still told the same lie. And all those reasons that you just gave this jury about the most important part of your testimony was a lie too. Isn't that true, Mr. Murdaugh?
MURDAUGH: I disagree with that.
WATERS: Nothing further.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SMERCONISH: The context as you well know, Valerie, to the first officer on the scene, he was already off to the races and lying.
BAUERLEIN: You know, it gave me chills just to hear that again because it was such a powerful moment. Mr. Waters has not tried a lot of criminal cases but his command of the facts of the case is really impressive. And he knew -- you know, Mr. Murdaugh was trying to say, I started lying to state investigators because I mistrust them.
They have investigated my family. But he knew that he told the first officer on the scene, and it's in the body cam footage, lies from the beginning. So, he was able to kind of corner Mr. Murdaugh in a way in another lie.
SMERCONISH: Two hundred and eighty-three steps, we have heard all about his activity. Apparently, it wasn't jumping Jacks and it wasn't a Peloton machine but we don't have the guns. I mean, there are still missing pieces in this. Right?
BAUERLEIN: There are a lot of missing pieces in this. They don't have the guns. There is -- you know, they don't have the clothes that Alex Murdaugh was wearing earlier in the evening. There has been, you know, a lot of -- the defense has made that case for several reasonable doubts regarding the evidence.
One interesting thing that happened yesterday is the defense has made a lot out of Alex Murdaugh's drug use. And he's also been charged with -- separately with some drug trafficking charges. So, there were some implications early on by the defense that this was carried out by some drug folks.
But Mr. Murdaugh's history on the stand really said, I know in my heart, I believe that this is related to the boat wreck, the 2019 boat wreck that killed Mallory Beach. And so, he kind of seemed to preclude in a way the defense's theory that that this was drug related.
SMERCONISH: And I know -- I know that they are going to put on a couple of more witnesses on Monday. I'm surprised that the defense has not tried to button up with medical testimony their explanation that he wasn't thinking clearly because of this opioid addiction.
Maybe we're going to see that and maybe I missed it. Can you say something about that?
BAUERLEIN: We have not seen that yet. There are a number of witnesses of that description who are on the witness list, but they have not been called yet. I'm not sure whether we will.
I know we'll see sort of a pathologist testifying on behalf of the defense. I believe we'll see some more analysis of digital records. But it's not clear whether we'll hear -- there has been a lot of spoken testimony about opioid-induced paranoia and haze but I'm not sure whether we'll hear medical testimony about that.
SMERCONISH: I have had a quick thought. I have had a number of people who have said to me in the last several weeks, why are you so interested in this case? Why do you talk about it on radio? And I said, well, Valerie Bauerlein caught my eye in the "Wall Street Journal."
They are not asking me any longer. Like all three cable outlets -- you know, Court TV has never left that courtroom. CNN, MSN, Fox, they were all right there for the cross-examination for the last two days. So thank you, Valerie. I really appreciate it. Keep up the good work.
BAUERLEIN: Thank you so much.
SMERCONISH: Please make sure you're going to Smerconish.com this hour and telling me what was the impact of Murdaugh's testimony in his own behalf? Did he help himself? Did he hurt himself? Did it have no impact?
Ladies and gentlemen, we have time for social media, Catherine? Yes? Quickly.
Smerconish, Murdaugh is as smart and cunning as the prosecutor. It only takes one juror.
Cal White, it only takes one juror for a hung jury. And given the stakes in this case, there's no doubt in my mind, they will come back and do it again. But I don't think the case -- I don't think the -- I don't think Murdaugh has helped himself. He's clearly and admittedly a liar.
Are there some gaps? There are, but I don't think he has helped himself by talking the stand. And, by the way, I have a sneaking suspicion that Harpootlian and Griffin didn't want him to. Pure speculation on my part.
Still to come, it has been a year since Russia invaded Ukraine. Have the sanctions worked? Are the Russian people feeling the pain? Where they stand on the war and their economy, next.
SMERCONISH: As we enter year two, the Russian invasion of Ukraine, how united is the global community against Russia? Not as much as you might think. Yes, the West's core coalition remains remarkably solid, but you get a sense of the big picture when you look at this map that was published in "Washington Post" differentiating those countries who have armed Ukraine or imposed sanctions on Russia and those that have not.
And yes, on Thursday, the U.N. General Assembly approved a nonbinding resolution that calls for Russia to end hostilities in Ukraine and demands the withdrawal of its forces. But while 141 countries voted in favor, seven voted against and 32 abstained.
As "The New York Times" recently summarized, "Instead of cleaving in two, the world has fragmented. A vast middle sees Russia's invasion as, primarily, a European and American problem. Rather than view it as an existential threat, these countries are largely focused on protecting their own interests amid the economic and geopolitical upheaval caused by the invasion."
So against this backdrop, have the sanctions imposed by 33 countries been effective? In a piece in "Fortune" titled "How the Russian economy self-immolated in the year since Putin invaded Ukraine." Jeffrey Sonnenfeld and Steven Tian of Yale write, "The 1,000 plus global companies who voluntarily chose to exit Russia in an unprecedented, historic mass exodus in the weeks after February 2022 have largely held true to their pledges and have either fully divested or are in the process of fully separating from Russia with no plans to return."
Quote -- "These voluntary business exits of companies with in-country revenues equivalent to 35 percent of Russia's GDP that employ 12 percent of the country's workforce were coupled with the imposition of enduring international government sanctions unparalleled in their scale and scope." So, the picture presented is that it has really crippled the Russian economy. But in the same week, "Gallup" found this, "Sanctions Fail to Sour Russians' Outlook on Economy." The pollster summarizes more Russians see economic conditions improving than getting worse. Majorities across all regions are satisfied with their standard of living. And regions closest to the conflict have seen huge improvements in perceptions. How can that be?
Joining me now to discuss is Mohamed Younis. He is "Gallup's" editor in chief and editor of "The Week in Charts." Thanks so much for being here. First of all, how can you get accurate polling data from Russia?
MOHAMED YOUNIS, EDITOR IN CHIEF, GALLUP: Well, we have been polling across Russia now for 15 years. It's not as hard as you think, but it's certainly not easy. And it's part of what we have been building since 2005 called the "Gallup World Poll" and it's where have now quantified the voice of 98 percent of the world's population. So, we have been very hard at work throughout this conflict trying to quantify people's voices both in Ukraine, but also in Russia, in the United States and in neighboring countries.
SMERCONISH: What accounts for the relatively rosy outlook on their economy that you found among the Russian people?
YOUNIS: Well, I don't want to overstate the rosiness of the outlook. Certainly Russia and Russians have paid enormous costs both in loss of life and otherwise. But perceptions of people's own economic outlook aren't as negative as you would imagine given the also likely very accurate and sound data that you started this segment with from economists. I think this is why giving people a voice in these situations is so critical because it's easy for either side to really fall into the narrative of what their view is.
From the western view, as you mentioned, sanctions have been really a cornerstone of that policy.
But if you look at some aspects of the Russian economy say, for example, the value of the ruble, certainly people's own assessments, we don't see that pain, at least not yet, settling in on the popular level.
SMERCONISH: Mohamed, there's another matter of perception that I'm now having my eyes open to. I was under the belief that the world is united against Russia. That it's Russia and a couple rogue states. You know, the usual suspects, Iran and North Korea.
But the data that I pointed out at the outset in a great piece that was published in both the "Washington Post" and another in the "New York Times" opened my eyes to the fact that particularly in the southern hemisphere, it's just not the case.
YOUNIS: You know, the other thing that recently happened is the G-20 failing to have a consistent communique around the situation in Russia. You're right. The world isn't united because the world is being impacted in different ways.
You know, one of the things we do is track a global hunger and also people's assessments of their own economic situations not just in Russia, but across the global south. And we absolutely see the pain of inflation, of the conflict in particular -- in countries that are really important grain importers from Russia and Ukraine seeing the pain of this conflict.
So, from the perspective of the rest of the world it looks at this conflict in a very different light than the U.S. which is really looking at it from the perspective of the global order. And the data we -- just came out of the field, I know you're going to share, really drives home that point, at least here in the U.S.
SMERCONISH: Right. We have spoke about the perception of Russians. We have talked about the global dynamics. Let's put up, thank you for giving to us, the very latest in terms of American perspective and how folks here are looking at the war. What's the bottom line?
YOUNIS: The bottom line is we continue to see an uptick in Americans viewing the conflict itself as an important or critical threat to the vital interests of the United States. It started out about -- in the 40s, in the mid-40s, when actually the first round of this recent flare up between Ukraine and Russia took place several years ago.
But what's important to keep in mind, Michael, is both here in the U.S., in Russia, where resolve is really there for a prolonged conflict. In Ukraine, it's highest of all. And we talked about that last time I was on the program. So, from a public sentiment perspective, the critical populations to this conflict seem to be preparing for a much longer haul than many of us had hoped when the conflict started.
SMERCONISH: I hope that you'll take a look --I'm limited on time, but I just want to say this. I hope you'll take a look at differences among Republicans, Democrats and independents, I'm sure you will, on their support for the Biden administration vis-a-vis what's going on in Ukraine. Because I sense that something has changed since 1979 in Afghanistan and that the party that was most robustly supportive of Ronald Reagan is not the case with regard to Joe Biden in Ukraine.
Mohamed Younis, thank you so much for being here. I really appreciate it.
YOUNIS: Thanks for having us.
SMERCONISH: Checking in on your social media reaction. What do we have, Catherine?
Unfortunately, says Joe Abrams. The sanctions only brought Russia and China closer economically and in every sense. If the ruble (ph) reflects their economy, it's higher than when the war -- I was shocked, I mean, by -- I know Professor Sonnenfeld's work and I think he has done an amazing job in unifying the corporate community, you know, against Putin. I thought that the Russian people were feeling it much more than the data from "Gallup" suggests is the case. And, yes, to your point, this alliance with China is something that is in need of monitoring and frankly perhaps brings forth the case of providing F-16s. That just my view.
Still to come, more of your best and worst social media. Hey, I want to try this. Put that up on the screen. Can I quickly take a look? Put it up on the screen so I can see the QR code to see if it's working.
I'm far away from my TV. Are you -- oh, there it is. There it is. OK. And I click on it. And it takes me right to the poll question. Just like -- just like the Super Bowl. So, go vote at Smerconish.com.
SMERCONISH: Hey, there is the result of this week's poll question at Smerconish.com. Interesting, 58 percent, nearly 30,000 votes. Cool. Fifty-eight percent and I'm in that category thought that it hurt Murdaugh's case the way in which he testified in his own behalf.
Here is some of the social media that has come in during the course of today's program. What do we have?
He looked and sounded guilty. Smirking doesn't help.
Liza, I thought what was most problematic, and this was going to come out, but he was actually going to be -- able to be grilled on it is when Creighton Waters in that final crescendo with the cross- examination, you know, brings out the fact that when the first officer on the scene, Officer Greene, I think, questions Murdaugh, Murdaugh says he hadn't -- you know, been there for 45 minutes totally blown up by the fact that the dog video was pulled from Paul's phone. I know. If you're not following the case, I'm pretty far into the weeds.
Murdaugh never knew that he was going to be outed by the revelation on his son's phone as to the timing. That's what I'm trying to say. OK. What else came in? Let's see if we can get through some more here today.
Most young men I meet not in relationships or single because of their toxic personalities. They aren't misogynistic because they're single.
They're single because they're misogynistic. But, Elon, come on. Has there been a rise of misogynistic or toxic personalities, something different that's in the water today versus 50 years ago?
I don't think. But I think technology has largely changed the whole process and now it's almost exclusively based on looks and money.
More social media reaction. This came in, as well.
Don't know why you haven't learned the lesson of staying out of foreign wars. It's almost always turns out to be a mistake. What are we supposed to do, stand idly by and let Russia overrun Ukraine? I couldn't sleep with that. I don't have time enough. Son of a gun. Well, we got through three. That's not bad.
Folks, go to the Web site at Smerconish.com. Cast a ballot on today's poll question. I'll leave it up. And subscribe for the free and worthy daily newsletter. See you.