tv Alexander Burns and Jonathan Martin This Will Not Pass - Trump Biden... CSPAN June 21, 2022 6:44am-8:01am EDT
topics. so i'm just thankful that i've had opportunity over the last few years find some things that i'm excited about, but it's not easy to find good topics where they're interesting personalities or characters or in important topics at least to me and those that know much about i throw myself to stuff it partly selfishly to learn and understand so i don't have anything right now that i'm as passionate about and it's kind of a high bar. so i'm if you have a good idea let me hear. thank you. thank you for everyone's attention.
hi there, welcome to the latest iop speakers series event trump biden and the battle for america's future. my name is katelyn van balen. i'm a fourth year student from new jersey studying public policy and the managing editor of the gate the iop's undergraduate political magazine. we're thrilled to be joined today by two national political correspondents for the new york times jonathan martin and alex burns whose new book. this will not pass trump biden and the battle for america's future covers how the stability of american politics has been racked by two years of perpetual crisis before joining the times mr. martin was a senior political writer for politico and a writer for the hotline in the national review. he also coauthored a best-selling book on the 2012 election and frequently appears as a political analyst on television and radio. mr. burns before beginning his work at the times covering the 2016 election was a reporter and editor at politico where he covered the 2012 election and
previously was the editor of the harvard political review. the conversation today will be moderated by david axelrod former senior advisor to president barack obama, and now director of the institute of politics here at uchicago now, i'll turn over to our speakers. thanks. thank you. thank you. harvard that's in the east right? it's just near boston. good to see you guys. thanks. i want to. as i read this book, i read a lot about the book before the we saw the book because you guys were very skillful at disseminating some nuggets there. that would be enticing to people but well, let me ask you about that first. i mean my fundamental point is this book is so much bigger than the things that we read that were kind of exclusive sort of
scoops the narrative of what's going on in our country and what went on in 2020 and i guess into this this year was was really really deep and wonderfully written but how much pressure are you under when you write a book like this to produce things that nobody else has scoops that will i see you rolling your eyes. no, i'm not. i mean, i think they're about alex. oh, i think it's rolling his eyes at you. well, first off, let me just say thank you to the university of chicago to the iop. you are our friend at former college jennifer steinhauer and to david for for hosting us here. it's a thrill to be back in hyde park. there's certainly pressure from the publisher of your book. that obviously is paying you to produce a work that they want to
see people purchase themselves, by the way. it's available out there. so and on the way, i would love for you to grab a copy. we sign them all but i think with alex and i we've been colleagues now for nearly 15 years. i there's just the pressure that we fell was just from ourselves like we're competitors. we wanted to produce the best possible book and that means like two things like a well-written. well crafted narrative and it means a lot of reporting and so were committed to getting those scoops david and you know driving news and getting inside the rooms of american politics getting those conversations. not necessarily because we felt pressure for any external forces, but because we wanted to and we felt that this is extremely important period of american history and we wanted to offer we'll be hopeful the
building blocks. for future histories who look back on these tumultuous years and try to capture what was going on in american politics. and why did it happen? and so that's probably so committed to you know capturing, you know, not just second hand accounts beginning first hand accounts getting primaries source material whether it's the audio recordings that hopefully you've heard or whether it was memos or documents. so that brought people to this period and it could stay in the test time and not and not just in washington, but what so interesting about your book is you have players across the country who have who interacted with the politics of the moment and including own mayor here. lori lightfoot is represented in this book. but alex and i don't want to be parochial about the book writing business. there are a ton of books out
already and some coming. about the 2020 election. you guys got a book contract. you knew that you knew woodward and costo were out there and maggie haberman whose book has yet to come and all the other books that are being written. how did you decide what the contours of this book would be and what what did you hope the story would be well, first of all, let me just say my own thanks to you to the iop to jennifer to caitlin and to all the for being here. no it look that's a huge challenge to at the start of any major reporting project whether it's a book or whether it's a long-range story that you're working on is to figure out. how do you put together something that will benefit from long-range intensive reporting and also still feel new and current and competitive when it comes out and yes, there's the
commercial pressure to attract readers who will spend money to consume it, but it's also just look like we have a demanding day jobs we have demanding my personal and family lives. i'm doing a book is an extraordinarily laborious undertaking and we didn't want to do that and then find ourselves generating something that nobody would find a particularly valuable because they've heard it all before so look, i think you mentioned the woodward and costa book you mentioned the maggie book. there were we knew that isaac dover was doing campaign book we knew there were a couple other, you know books that we're going to be more tethered to the 2020 election and a couple other books that were going to be anchored really really squarely in the trump white house and we thought both for the you know, those competitive reasons and also because of just wanting to say something new to readers that they really really would not feel like was entirely familiar to them that we just sort of campus with this idea to
try to take a risk on a narrative that would span, you know the run up to the 2020 election the aftermath and the consequences of that election and when we started talking about doing that, we didn't know that january 6 was coming. we didn't know that trump would refuse to but well that to the authorities right, but what we did know was that the country was going through an extraordinary crisis in 2020 in the form of covid and then crisis upon crisis after that and that it was going to be a real test of the system. could we have a free and fair election and a transfer of power and then a new administration that actually got some stuff done. so that was the sort of broad shape of this thing even before you started to fill in the most alarming details of that picture. i want to get to the story of the two parties the two presidents but what i mentioned the narrative the the story of of january 6 has been told and retold in a million different ways, but somehow it seemed
fresher in this book because of the first-hand accounts that you had and i was mentioning to jaymark before we came out here that i found it. what's so clear in this book is just how much people on in both parties? really felt their lives were in danger that day you talk about anthony gonzalez who ended up? voting for impeachment on a republican and probably cost him as political career to do it but on that day talk about what he did in on the other side jason crow and the conversation that he had with his wife a republican a democrat young former military. speak to that sure, you know one of the things that we prior ourselves on in the process of reporting this book was talking to so many members of congress who are not a household names right and really trying to animate the forces that we're
driving them to make excruciating decisions like ending your own political career by voting to impeach donald trump as a republican or just what's going through your head in those crucial moments that we knew that if we generated a narrative about january 6th that told you all the donald trump gave this speech on the national mall and evacuated mike pants from the senate floor and then they all you know, they took the congress to secure. position etc, etc. like that's all pretty familiar. material. we know that we had to get deeper into that and and jonathan had the enormous advantage and dubious opportunity of actually being in the capital complex while the attack actually remember was seeing you wandering around. on the feeds from the capital that night. yeah, but you know anthony told us this well. these members told us told their colleagues told friends and family about these really
renting things that they did in real time. so jason crowe is calling jason crows a democrat elected in 2018 from colorado former army ranger a call. he's in the gallery when the capital is locked down and he calls his wife and she knows that he's a soldier and she knows the kind of training he has and the way he might want to behave in that situation and she tells him don't be a hero, you know, she's scared that her husband is going to try to do what he thinks is the right thing and she mentally and that he has children and we should add that he sent her home early sent her home early. this was this was this is one of the most chilling things. i think we discovered in the run-up to reporting on the run up to january 6th is how many members felt like something terrible was about to happen. so jason crowe andy came from new jersey, i did the same thing their families were either going to come to washington or already in washington for january 6th, and they just felt like something feels really wrong. i don't want my spouse. i don't want my daughter or son to be in this city anymore.
yeah, and a gonzales. yeah, left a note. yeah. so infinit gonzalez is our republican from ohio who some folks in this room might recall played pro football. he played for the peyton manning era indianapolis colts and he entered politics pretty young guy. he's still in his 30s fascinating story a cuban american. and was sort of widely seen as this rising star in gop politics in congress and he is he is really shaken by the events of that day, and we talked to him a great length about his experience that day. it's one of the most compelling parts of the book. i think he he was in his office in the capital complex and he decides to write a note for his wife and to put it in the desk just in case he lost his life and no, just hearing that in the
interview is sort of gives you chills because you realize what was going through the minds of lawmakers in those hours. and just how how close we worked. we even greater catastrophe on january 6th. and just to finish the story on gonzalez. he decided a few months after january 6th. he was not going to run for reelection. he's 37 years old, i think and he had voted to impeach president trump a week after january 6th and obviously caught hell from president trump because of that vote and he talks about sort of death rents have come in against he and his family about being met at the airport back in ohio with you know, uniform police officers to escort them off the the gate. and he's i i just don't want
this life anymore. it's just not worth it. i have you know wife and young kids and who needs that and frankly. he's pretty honest about it's i am worth it to come back here for a party that is still sort of in the throes of trumpism anyways, and so he's a fascinating character in this book both for his experience on the sixth and then for everything the flows out of that and sort of his disillusionment with his party with politics, generally. um you have a lot of scenes from inside the republican caucus and i want to talk about we're going to talk about both parties here, but i want to talk about things that have meaning beyond the the storyline of this book and into the future. there was a debate, you know, we had a great republican in this in the state named abraham lincoln. who said in illinois is for his first he was born here though, david he in his first inaugural
address. he said we are not enemies but friends, this is right before the civil war. we must not be enemies though passion may have strained. it must not break our bonds of affection. so you have a republican from arizona now named andy biggs and he had a slightly different message in the republican caucus. in the aftermath of january 6th and his ira was aimed not a demo not not well a democrat certainly, but at least cheney for for for taking on trump. and he accused of aid in comfort to democrats and he said they're not just an opponent. they're an adversary that's trying to wipe this country out and change it forever. yeah, and it strikes me that that quote. >> it strikes me that that quote is heavy with meaning because it is what is driving so much of republican politics
now. we talk about trumpishim and the senate race in pennsylvania, donald trump is endorsed doctor ours, there's another candidate who spent $40 million or something and a woman who is going to very likely when that primary or certainly could who has spent virtually nothing, buddies, but is, in steve bannon's words ultra amag 8, to the right of trump and all of them. what does this say about the state of republican politics? >> the notion -- >> are is that a leading question? >> i think it is, but i'm willing to be lead on this one. the sentiment behind what andy biggs said is so pervasive in
republican politics even among people who are comparatively ideologically mainstream relative to andy biggs, people who don't have way out there right wing policy ideas but just feel like democrats are out to take this country apart at the building blocks and when you see the other party that way it makes the basic operations of american government virtually impossible. the story in pennsylvania is extraordinary. i think it speaks to a couple things but one of them is we have written so many times about trump's control of the republican party. this is not a study in trump controlling the republican party. he is not able to make the doctor out of the decisive front runner in pennsylvania but some brand of politics is definitely in control, candidate kathy burnett is in many ways more trump than trump and she's out there saying,
paraphrase but, trump doesn't control the mag movement, we are more than that. it is a hell of a signal about the overall trend, you could even make the case it's a little ominous for donald trump personally that the point at which this next generation of revolutionaries starts to say the guy who led them on the long march is not in control of the revolution anymore that makes things pretty unpredictable for everybody involves. >> in the governor's race, the governor's primary you have a candidate likely to win who is running in tandem with the senate candidate or loosely in tandem who is far to the right of the other candidates there. >> we use terms like far to the right and i get why but ten years ago if you are using that language about the so-called tea party candidates, that
would be a shorthand for, like, down the line, ideological conservatives on issue xyz. for limited spend and culture issues. how did they get so much and more now based on pugilist him now, more than a menu of issues? it is not just what policy she's talking about but the packaging, her story, her profile of the republican party is organized chiefly around opposition to and contempt for the democrats. sort of finger in the eye platform is what the platform is, we are against those guys and we want to take it to those
guys and what better way to take it to those guys than putting forth a conservative black woman who was saying a lot of the things you believe pretty emphatically and her own fascinating life story that serves as a rebuke to what you believe are the pieties of the left, that is powerful stuff and it is wrapped up as a profiling image and appearances it is any sort of set of issues. >> it speaks to why governor desantis has become -- >> trump first, now desantis, now this. >> he comes across like the quarterback of a high school football team claiming the geeky against the lockers to get laughs from the
cheerleaders except the geeky kids are the democrats and you are looking at me like you don't like my analogy. >> it is the slamming against the locker that is the appeal. >> the muscularity of it. >> we are sitting here obviously you know this, in the district that spawned barack obama's political career. how much of this nativism, when you hear andy biggs's quote about they want to change america, you hear this discussion about, you know, they want to replace us, push us out, how much of that was a reaction to the election of the first black president? >> no question it accelerated that and brought it to the
mainstream of conservative politics in a way that it hadn't been before. part of it is the actual reaction to the election of the first black president and part of it also is the political success of democrats in the 2006-2008 election wiped out a generation of comparatively mainstream conservative politicians and opened the door to whoever put their name on the ballot, broke the old guard establishment of the republican party by defeating them at the ballot box in consecutive elections. it is a bigger story than a reaction to barack obama. the proof is when you look at other western countries where the style of politics has been on the rise, in some cases before us, in some cases accelerating and substantially after us, the right wing populism broadly defined has
been on the march across central, western and eastern europe and the uk for some time and in some respects we are lagging indicator in the direction of western democratic politics culturally but look, i think jonathan alluded to the tea party before, one of the things the media has been pretty upfront about, looking back at coverage of the tea party is yes, there were a lot of candidates who put their names on the ballot in 2010 and "after words" who sincerely believed in limited spending and small government, that hated the aca and other obama era policies but were there voters really motivated by a profound ideological opposition to expanded government spending? some of them were motivated by some other stuff. >> what is different now is it is kind of okay to move -- >> he removes both sides, that
it is not about race and identity in the pretense that they care about spending, the trump era republican party doesn't give a damn about that. >> i want to spend very little time on this because it has been so picked over in the coverage of your book but it does speak to the power of this movement that we have been discussing. both the republican leaders, in the senate and the house, their initial reaction to january 6th was repugnance, it is fair to say, or at least they expressed that and in mitch mcconnell's case it seemed very visceral. in mccarthy's case, who knows? but they both expressed themselves to their caucuses and to their leadership on this. that very quickly in mccarthy's
case, later and more subtly in mcconnell's case dissipated. i thought one of the most telling quote in the book was when mcconnell was explaining why he didn't go along with the impeachment. he said i didn't get to be leader by voting with five members of the caucus. so what does that say about their future and their command of their caucuses as we move forward? >> it says they are willing to be led by their caucus rather than lead the caucus. that's the short answer. politically it is easier for kevin mccarthy to bow to what he perceives as the center of gravity in his conference than to push his conference to what
may be more advantageous long term, but in the short term it will create political challenges for him, the path of least resistance. in his case it was a pretty speedy path tomorrow lago. >> he said it was in the neighborhood. >> he was in the neighborhood. he happened to stop in at the compound of the former president. >> what it has is implications for the future because it is very likely when you think about gonzalo's and others who are leaving and lower results in west virginia. there was a primary last week when two incumbents went up against each other and one had the temerity of voting for the january 6th commission and infrastructure. the caucus is going to be more polarized and more ferocious than it is right now.
what you are saying is so will mccarthy. >> i think the parties are being purified. the election cycles role by, the house and senate are more doug in, ideological, partisan trenches. look at the senate turnover, who is replacing the senators. for that matter who is replacing democrat senators. often republican senators. i think it speaks to this. and in both parties too, it is possible in the next few weeks you could have two of the most conservative house democrats lose and be replaced by much more progressive house lawmakers. >> one of the interesting things in your book is nancy pelosi's private observations of her own caucus, she said you
couldn't give me $1 billion to be speaker again which does raise the question about how long she will remain. >> what we don't know is whether she meant she couldn't give her billion dollars because she would do it for free. this is something she says in november or december or november of 2,020 after is clear the democrats held the house by this margin and she is begging and scraping for votes from across the democratic caucus to get to 218 and become speaker of the house again and she finds this sort of humiliating experience that she is the most formidable figure in the house and my lifetime by a lot and she has to go hat in hand to all these freshman or long serving but in her view irrelevant people and ask them please -- >> arguably after being the thin blue line -- >> 20 of people in the
democratic party would never do it again at a pretty significant block of people who want to make her beg for it and she is saying this is the last time. there is nothing they could have me do what i'm doing right now again which she also says almost a year later when the left wing of the house caucus is giving her headache after headache, she's trying to get the infrastructure bill through the house, they are killing her on it because they are so matted biden and some added joe manchin and two of the most prominent progressives, the head of the house progressive caucus and aoc, what they are doing is competing to go we -- queen bee of the house minority where she feels her own members on the left are sabotaging the party on the left and trying to seize power. >> speaks to the larger question, so many anecdotes on the democratic side speak to
the atomization of the democratic party and how difficult that is not just for nancy pelosi but for president biden and some of the decisions he had to make, political decisions he had to make to try and signify to this identity oriented party base that he has a 77-year-old white guy was okay. >> this is a lot of material in the book, you have somebody in joe biden who is trying to forge consensus with the party that has grown unwieldy. the blessing of the curse of the trump era for democrats is it has and large the party. it has also enlarged the party and that creates challenges. what you are trying to put
together, a majority of votes for a party that spans actual socialists like aoc with conservative democrats like joe manchin who happened one thing in common, they oppose donald trump and that one thing was very significant in the reason joe biden's president but once you achieve that one thing, what is next and that gets to the heart of biden trying to forge consensus in the party and you see that immediately after his election, the chapter you are alluding to as he is putting together his government and biden is trying to satisfy this divergent party that is extremely or ever more interested in organized by identity so he is cobbling together a cabinet but potentially a gop held senate will have to confirm all these nominees and that in mind
trying to please various democratic groups and this is difficult. it is a real puzzle, and you see it when he is trying to figure out who should be secretary of health and human services. somebody i have in mind could do it but the hispanic caucus is giving my staff grief over lack of hispanic individuals in the cabinet so how do we fix this? that is where this begins, you see it in the challenges putting together a cabinet. it doesn't end there. >> don't know if that is the right expression but let me bore down on that. secretary of health and human services is a significant position but more so in the middle of a 100 year pandemic
and yet they chose someone who had no discernible background in order to check that box because the forces they were contending with were so strong they felt they needed to and that has policy implications. >> the way you just put it is the right way to put it. the forces, they felt the forces they were dealing with were that strong. it is a choice on the part of president biden and his advisors to say we don't know how -- biden botches his name when he announces him as the nominee. the rationale for him having a health background is really thin. there are other finalists for the job, the governor of rhode island, michelle grisham, the governor of mexico who wanted the job badly and was former chair of the congressional
hispanic caucus who have more extensive executive experience, health management experience but the chc is breathing down our next and to me, i'm not saying that specific choice is the original sin of the biden administration. it is an important choice, not singularly important but pretty important in the context of the pandemic and if you signal to your party in those early weeks after the election that you can push me around like that and i, the incoming president of the united states, who as a 76-year-old white guy won the nomination of this party and then won the election, i am so scared of what folks are saying about me in this identity based caucus in congress and even on twitter that i'm going to be rushed into choosing this guy who i barely know. from the started sends a signal across the democratic coalition.
>> we should point out the joe biden got elected and some of this in your book as well, as a kind of moderate. he was the guy who stood on the platform and said do i look a socialist to you? >> her most affect -- his most expect of speech after the kenosha riots when he went to pittsburgh on labor day of 2020 and said just that line and they put that line on tv, heavy circulation around the midwest to defang the attacks, the great irony of the biden administration is he was the least most popular candidate on college campuses like this, certainly on twitter. he was somebody who was seen not just as yesterday's news because of his age but his
affect, his politics, his eagerness for consensus, his affection for mitch mcconnell, he said something about mike pence, that he is actually a nice guy and the back lash that he got for saying mike pence is a nice guy was enormous. for him to defeat those forces of the modern left, and once he becomes president he sort of that constituency so much as he governed is striking, because he didn't have to do that. those were never his voters in the first place. in fact biden's age, twitter is not reality, this is not who the democratic party is but practice what they preach.
>> there is one big decision, the biggest personnel decision he made which he made during the campaign is when you write extensively about, and there is an aspect of local interest here because one of the people who was a prime contender for vice president was our own senator tammy duckworth who according to the reporting got pretty far in the process and intrigued the biden campaign so what happened to her and how did this end up falling to, let harris and what was biden's mindset in all that? you've got great reporting on that? >> the main picture that emerges from our reporting on the vice president whole process, it is driven by biden and people closest to him, overwhelming by short-term political considerations, what
do we need to do to get from early august or early november without blowing this thing it seems like we are going to win so they have this rubric of traits they want the running mate to have and not to have and nowhere in our reporting did we discern that inside that rubric an important place was a genuinely close relationship with joe biden and his complete and total confidence they can take over the presidency and carry the torch forward in 2024 or at any time. >> maybe they couldn't fit that in a rubric. >> is a pretty big rubric, the polling they were considering. they bombarded people with questions about all these potential candidates and one of the things that inspired the search committee about senator duckworth was obviously her euro a life story, the diversity she would bring to the ticket not just in terms of her background as an asian american politician but as a
figure from the middle of the country, a war hero and somebody who grew up in poverty and our reporting was that biden connected well with her but the lawyers had a problem with her, that she was born in thailand to one parent was an american citizen and one who wasn't and they felt on the merits they ought to be able to win a lawsuit against her, challenging her eligibility on birther grounds but they didn't want to fight pat lawsuit in the middle of the campaign, and of course trump would make it an issue if they were running against jeb bush maybe they would have gone ahead with it anyway. but there rationale was it is only going to take one judge in one state to knock us off the ballot, maybe not just knock her off the ballot but the whole democratic ticket off the ballot in a state we can't afford to lose and to me >> what made them think trump would make citizenship and issue?
>> to me that is one of the most revealing aspects of this, that biden knows as well as almost anyone how pernicious birtherism it is in this of course it was in trump's rise, not that we are saying he would have chosen tammy duckworth if not for this. he and his advisors felt strongly by the time he was coming up on his decision that he needed to choose a black woman for the ticket and there were reasons it made sense to choose somebody who had been road tested in national politics the way kamala harris had been and very few other people on the shortlist had but the choice to say we are going to take tammy duckworth out of consideration because of this attack we think is bogus and profoundly offensive but we are going to practice defense in short-term politics is another case study in sort of letting your adversary win preemptively because you don't want to lose later on.
i will add a lot of people in biden's or but believed kamala harris was always going to be the pick, that she made the most sense on a lot of levels and biden did not have a close relationship with her, she attacked biden fiercely. >> jill biden was not a fan of her attacks as we report in the books during the democratic primary. but that makes the fact that they never deeply grappled with what the world would look like or her role would look like if biden did when is more striking. kamala harris is probably going to be the vp and you maker the vp pick, wouldn't at some point you consider, what are the implications for governing after biden becomes president if he does when and what are
the implications for soon to be 80-year-old incumbent president who may not be able to run for reelection, what does that mean for succession? we never got the sense the biden folks considered that. it was so not sure more narrowly focused on who is the short-term pick who can help us beat donald trump. i get the imports of getting donald trump out of the white house if you are joe biden's campaign but they never wrestled with the day after the election and now here we are in a situation where may of 2,022, grave questions every democrat is asking when the cameras are not on, about joe biden's capacity for run for president again in 2024 and if he can't, what do we do and it is not clear to me that there's any kind of a plan for scenario b >> you've done some reporting on this and everyone has seen it, not as if we made the vice
president an interval part of the administration. biden was in the obama administration. he ran a recovery act, he was sent to a rack to negotiate the new government there and sent to the hill to negotiate. we don't see that with this vice president. >> the task she has she has not embraced fully or struggled with. >> they said you want a couple cars without carburetors in the back and you can have those. >> he didn't try to drive the car is the problem. think for example about the voting issue, something astonishing to both of us to report, the she never once talked to joe manchin or lisa murkowski, the most pivotal senators on a voting issue about the voting issue.
how are you handling that issue if you don't have a conversation with the two most important senators on the issue. it speaks to what you said a minute ago about not exactly an integral part of the administration. wise that not happening? >> let me ask you a couple other things. you talked about a decision that i think looms larger than people realize that the time which is the decision to jump on the movement increase the stipend in the rescue act from the $600 the congress passed in december 2, 0202, the additional 14 - 2000 and turns out that was not exactly the work of economists around the
table trying to get to the right number so much as trump, who was mad about being left out of the negotiations, democrats jump on fat, these two georgia republicans in a special election shortchange people, and 2000 it became. after january 6th, when is the meeting with that, chuck schumer was not campaigning for 2000 chocks prior to donald trump, he brings in rafael warknock to say we need to keep our promises so it goes from being this idea that donald trump throws out in a video on twitter one afternoon to being a campaign issue in this unusual special election to the carved in stone economic agenda of the biden administration and
underlying it is not just a weird sequence of events that leads to this policy, it also represents this larger wedge of the biden administration makes early on which is that if you give people in distress direct cash benefits or direct government benefits of another kind they will recognize you've done something concrete for the man they will reward you for it so even before you get to the issue of inflation and whether sending all that money helps with the economy that doesn't pan out. we talked to members of the house who raised it with the biden administration, they would talk to people in their district, they got that money and thought was part of the trump stimulus, they don't see that showing up in their bank account and say thank you, president biden and the democratic party. it was a policy that came through a weird sequence of events the did nothing for president biden, that is before them.
>> but now the real political problem he is facing is not that he didn't get enough credit for that but that he's getting a lot of credit for runaway inflation, not all of which by any measure can be blamed on that one decision but when you look at other countries, our country, every country has experienced inflation, ours may be a bit more. >> because they are fighting the last war. we heard this so many times in the spring of 2021. we are not going to make the mistake the you know who, the guy from this neighborhood made, barack obama. should have been a bigger stimulus package, we are not going to do that again, we are going to get the biggest possible stimulus package here and get this economy moving again and so they overcorrect,
in part i think because of economic and political impulse and also if we are being honest because of sibling rivalry, barack obama and joe biden have a rivalry, they are not the closest of friends and i think joe biden felt in his time as vice president he was not always well respected in the obama white house, he still has a grudge that he was not tapped to run for the presidency in 2016, people rallied to hillary clinton and we have this seen in 2021, biden is riding high answers in a very unguarded moment to an advisor i don't think barack would like one but the coverage of me is a more transformational president than him. you can't take the personal out of the political equation here, talking about biden's economic policy in that first year as
president and why he was so intent on getting the biggest stimulus package. >> there's a microphone there, those who have questions please q up behind the microphone. i want to ask one more. if you don't q up i threaten right now i will ask more. >> i want to ask you guys. i think this conversation reflects it. this book is called this will not pass. it operates on a lot of different levels but the implication of it is we are in the throes of large forces that are not going to be easily undone. talk a bit about that and see if either of you can squeeze out a positive message so our audience doesn't go home deeply depressed. >> spoiler alert, there is not the happy ending.
>> they are we working on this past. >> the political fever that this country is in shows no signs of abating. just the opposite. all signs point to more division, more disdain for the political opposition and sadly the risk of more political violence we saw on january 6th. i don't see a scenario where that becomes less likely at least in the short-term. in the short term. the incentives are towards more partisanship, partisanship based on contempt for the opposition. on a positive note the history of the country offers the best sort of note. we had enormous challenges in
the past, we've had crises, we eventually overcome them and grown stronger as a country. a couple steps back and steps forward. i am heartened by the long-term that the american story does tend to borrow a line obama borrowed, towards justice. >> we mentioned before that in a lot of ways the us has been the lagging strand and the rise of the far right across the west and i think it is possible we will be the lagging strand in the fall of the far right across the west. if you look there was this moment after trump's election it looked like you have these borderline fascist parties on the rise in germany, italy, france, they elected a right wing strongman in brazil and a
conversation about that, germany had another election, they elected a chancellor, italy's prime ministers like italy's larry summers, not sort of except on some college campuses, figures of the extreme right, but also naro is likely to lose in brazil, we have a particularly rigid and slow-moving political system that doesn't sort of process electoral results, turned them into policy and let the voters repudiate them or embrace them as quickly as it happens elsewhere. don't know if that's a real upbeat message but i do think give the system a little more time. >> if we did biden would face a tough vote of confidence right now in the parliament of the united states. >> there is your upbeat -- he gives us an upbeat button and you have to jump in and stamp
all over it, let's take the question. >> thank you very much for the nice overview. i have a question about the centerleft side. you mentioned that the biden administration and the choice for example of, her looked at the very short-term results. do you see a political figure in the centerleft or even more, the very progressive side that could embrace more long-term view of development for progressive policies and push them forward because i believe that is, at the end of the day,
one of the most vivid distinctions between what progressiveness is compared to trumpism. >> this is a very active conversation in democratic circles these days, most often held when the cameras are not on and that is who can pick up the torch. joe biden said himself he is a transitional figure. but look. joe biden was an emergency -- first to stop bernie sanders, and then to eject donald trump from office and that was the entirety for a lot of voters the rationale for joe biden's candidacy. back to this now what, what is next? it is not totally clear who the air is.
if joe biden does not run for reelection kamala harris will be a formidable candidate, a sitting vice president, first black woman in history to be a national elected official. >> you think she would be -- >> i was going to say she will have a robust primary, democrats will not see the nomination to her if biden doesn't run. there will be an intense primary in the progressive wing of the democratic party and certainly among the more moderate faction of democrats, you will see a number of governors give it a look, senators, cabinet members, mayors, i can see the governor of this state, in colorado, gavin newsom in california, roy cooper in north carolina, if stacy abrams was the
governorship this year absolutely. phil murphy in new jersey, the cabinet, gina romano the more moderate wing of the democratic party and you have to consider bernie sanders and elizabeth warren. they have run for president before, a good indicator they would consider doing it again and same for other senators like amy klobuchar. you would have a pretty robust primary. >> this is the first democratic administration in my lifetime arguably first administration period in my lifetime where neither the president nor the vice president is seen as a person of real sort of deeply anchored ideological perspective. the trump administration also in a different way not -- pence wasn't a big vision guy but he was a guy with a pretty fixed
principal but when you think about what bill clinton did to set the direction of the democratic party and what barack obama did to set the direction of the democratic party come you can't look at joe biden or kamala harris and say either of them has attempted to do that and when you look back at the last primary campaign whether it is elizabeth warren on one wing of the party, or pete buttigieg, you can tell there's a hunger for somebody to say what on earth they are about for the future. it's a huge opportunity for somebody. >> let me ask about this -- a parochial political question but one that i think about a lot. doesn't it matter when biden announces his decision? all of the people you are talking about are not household political names. >> celebrity is a huge driving
force in today's politics. >> if biden says in summer of 2023, and his habit is not to make these decisions early. if he says in the summer of 2023, you know what? i am going to devote myself to the work of the country for the rest of my term or late summer, what -summer, what does that do to all those people -- >> late-summer could be faster. >> i think the second the midterms are over, midnight of election night this year the clock starts ticking and every day that goes by after the midterms is democratic anxiety levels spike as trump is in the wings attempting his comeback and democrats uncertainty about who is going to be our standardbearer and more pressure on biden. when joe biden does not want to
say no he doesn't say no very quickly. is this is the ultimate final know that he would have to offer, extinct wishing his own political career. he's not in a huge hurry to do that if that is the decision. more likely the biden what offer a quick decision about running for reelection then he would offer one about not running for reelection. >> this is like crist is important to watch. if biden decides not to run by labor day of 2023 are going to have to get someone well or fast. can you imagine if labor day 23, biden hasn't said what he's going to do? the democratic party would be on fire across this country. >> i can imagine. we have more questions. >> a 2-part question. >> i know this fellow, full disclosure, this is my cousin. >> cousin larry.
>> when you put together a book -- >> how could you put together a book so great? >> when you put together a book like this how do you decide what to release as news and what you hold onto and publish a larger narrative and any additional recordings not recorded of the insurrection that could impact the january 6th committee? >> happy birthday. he just turned 30. great guy. and went to school up the road here. the second question first. the best reporting we've got we put in the book for obvious reasons but we have a lot of primary source material, a note to readers in the beginning of the book that gets at why we
think it is important to only use quote marks when we know those were the precise words of the protagonist in the book at the moment. so we have obviously quite a bit of material some of which you heard the audiotapes of, not the last of it but the best material in terms of what is in those documents in those tapes you see in the book. on a larger question. >> have you been asked for those tapes by -- >> we have not had a formal request. on the larger question, pretty easy, don't want to speak to sourcing in the book for obvious reasons but generally
speaking if you have the scoop of the century and you work for a newspaper you are going to put it in the paper but that's not how reporting typically works. that the hollywood version where you walk out of your house and in front of the doors a big bow on a gift like the scoop of a lifetime. it is much grittier than fat. it takes months and months of work, verifying material, get access to material and put it together, not the kind of thing you are sitting on necessarily generally speaking. >> there will be cake from been in the back of the room "after words". >> my name is morgan, i mustache here and the evening program for public policy. so my question, you guys are
both journalists of a credible news room. your lead up to january 6th and the follow-up, how large an impact social media had in terms of fake news getting out there and if your sources talk about that at all and also on a related note do you find major news conglomerates such as fox news, are they bleeding those stories or reacting to social media? >> are they driving the narrative? those are both really good and tough questions. on the second, i think it is very clear that fox news has an enormous amount of proactive driving of warped or otherwise inaccurate information.
one of the things i dislike about the discourse on disinformation on social media is in some respects it let off the hook some really big, well-known, powerful institutional players that are very much implicated in office. the impact of somebody, we have all seen going back to birtherism and before that, junk information, pernicious junk spreads of its own momentum but it spreads a lot faster when you have the number one cable network pushing at least some of it. the stuff that is on social media goes beyond what fox will put on the air and in some cases way beyond what fox will put on the air. neither of us is an expert on social media and mapping of how that information spreads but i know people who are and it is a major focus of elements of the
january 6th investigation. how did this stuff get out there and get organized, how did people get motivated to go to washington with these ideas about the election in their head. the one force that i want to mention is donald trump, he was using every platform available to him to trumpet this garbage about a stolen election and conspiracy theories about specific counties in specific states. i don't think there's any level of control on the part of social media companies or restraint on the part of television networks that can offset the impact of the sitting president of the united states behaving that way. the big test is what happens next time? and it is not a sitting president saying this stuff but one of a bunch of different candidates in a primary saying iowa was rigged, giving them plenty of reason to question the integrity of the process but that's a meandering answer
to your question, the answer is all of the above. >> can i ask a quick question? i noticed in one of the stories, kevin mccarthy denied saying things that you reported, having baited the trap, you then released the audio of him saying that. in your reporting of that in one of your pieces you refer to mccarthy's dishonesty. i wonder if you had a discussion about using the word dishonesty. >> a good question, does belabor those questions. it was so black-and-white, he was dishonest with his denial and he was lying.
>> would that have been the case five years ago? >> probably not. one of the things that was so revealing about mccarthy after denial, we presented them with comments, he denied having said he would call trump to resign and this other piece saying social media companies take down the accounts of some of his members gave more legalistic denial, never called for the banning of specific lawmakers. that is an important tell. i didn't say any of that. picking and choosing what he was going to deny. >> mccarthy himself in his own words would put out a blistering statement, more of a wholesale denial of what he
didn't do the previous night. >> false color. >> he is our colleague in the paper. >> in past white houses there has always been personalities that emerged to give the white house texture and personality. stephen miller, trump, david axelrod, always been a figure. it amplified the president's personality. why you think that hasn't happened with the biden white house, his that harmed the white house in some sense? who is the david axelrod of joe biden?
>> we were having a conversation in the car a few hours ago. what happened to celeb a strategies. who came out of the 2020 election? >> who came out of 2020 as the architect? bush's brain character. it was not as visible. it is close knit and euphemistic, long tenured inner circle around joe biden because people -- >> one thing about this. someone, basically a recluse. >> a couple people, and --
>> these are characters who in a different kind of campaign are more hungry for the cameras themselves. >> a different kind of campaign or, i didn't say and. this is a huge cultural shift. >> part of it is joe biden is so well known, because of social media, the sort of personality around the courts are somewhat less compelling when they are relatively reclusive. >> the elephant in the room, donald trump doesn't leave much space for anyone else in the political conversation. he is not president anymore but the coverage of him is so intense still and i get why. he might run again. he has a grasp of the party that he led as president.
still, there's not much space for much in the way of reporting generally about the biden administration because the curiosity is so deep about trump and trumpism. and political culture more broadly. >> the culture of the biden thing welcomes people stepping out, taking credit even if they are not claiming credit for things, endemic to that organization. we are on minute and 57 seconds, the thing explodes when we are five minutes over. [applause] >> one last thing.
we would love for you. the obligation, finished with enthusiasm because it is really, the narrative is so well written. i said at the beginning they are great tidbits interesting to read but the larger implications are clear and put you in the scene. these guys are among the best there is in political journalism and you can see why. if you don't buy it now i am really going to be disappointed. >> sandy hook, an american tragedy in the battle for truth.
and parents of the victims, defending themselves against conspiracy theorists. >> when he was doing this he was making money and started doing it and it looked good. he saw the numbers. >> when called on the carpet, round 2014-16. he didn't come up with these theories but repeating claims of others. within hours, started to say this is a plot to get americans done. never made any money from this. these controversial theories.
it is wrong, 2015-16 his audience double to 50 million viewers. >> and the money? >> the first thing were records from his divorce in 2013-14 and had his personal income was $5 million a year but record started to emerge in the last several days suggest during the trump presidency when alex jones was riding high he had revenues of 50 million a year. >> $50 million, much of it sandy hook. genius business model. all he was doing was sells products absolutely geared to the paranoia and fears of his audience.
dry food for your doomsday prepper shelter, untraceable gun components. you've got a weapon you don't need to register when the end of times comes, it is vitamin supplements and diet supplements for those who don't trust traditional medicine. fluoride the government puts is meant to write your brain. from the warehouse from his headquarters, $50 million a year. he is taking advantage of his customers. and at the same time using crap to sell that. >> it works. >> watch the full program online anytime, booktv.org. elizabeth williamson or sandy hook. >> you have been watching booktv every sunday on c-span2.
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