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Kal Raustiala 0:07

Good afternoon everyone. My name is Kal Raustiala and I'm director of the UCLA Burkle Center for International Relations. Today we come together as we do every year to honor the life and work of Daniel Pearl. Almost exactly 19 years ago today, Daniel Pearl was murdered in Pakistan while working as a foreign correspondent for The Wall Street Journal. A free and active press has been an essential part of American democracy since our founding, and as a journalist, Daniel Pearl devoted his life to seeking truth about the world, and he risked and ultimately gave his life in order to bring that world home to all of us. Today, we remember his work and we honor his legacy. I want to thank our partners, the Daniel Pearl Foundation, UCLA Hillel and the University Religious Conference for helping us make this event happen. For this year's Daniel Pearl Memorial Lecture, we're fortunate to have as our guest, someone I think, is familiar to all of us. Jake Tapper has been an incisive voice of fact and reason, not only in this unprecedentedly news-filled year, but for many years before. Jake Tapper began his career in journalism over two decades ago. He joined ABC News in 2003 and moved to CNN in 2013 as the network's chief Washington correspondent. A constant presence on the network, he has been host of State of the Union with Jake Tapper and The Lead. In addition to his work on television news, which I think we've all seen, he's published four books, including most recently The Hellfire Club, a novel and in 2001, the prophetically titled Down and Dirty: the Plot to Steal the Presidency. A lifelong Philadelphia Phillies fan and a father of two, Jake Tapper is a graduate of Dartmouth College. So we're honored to have him with us today. But before we get to hear from him, as is our tradition at the Pearl lecture, we have a few preliminaries. We'll begin with some brief remarks from Rabbi Aaron Lerner, UCLA Hillel. Then Judea Pearl, Daniel's father and an emeritus professor here at UCLA, will say a few words for remembrance. Following Professor Pearl, Jake Tapper will give this year's Daniel Pearl Memorial Lecture. And when he concludes his remarks, I'll come back on the screen and we'll have a conversation together. I will then pose a few questions from all of you. So please use the Q&A portal on the bottom of your screen to submit your questions and we'll pose them to Jake. Today's event is being recorded and will be available on YouTube and other platforms soon. So now let me please welcome on screen, Rabbi Aaron Lerner.

Aaron Lerner 2:42

Thank you Kal. I'll start by saying that I miss you. And in fact that I miss everyone here. This lecture has brought together multiple overlapping communities. And though we're larger in numbers without traffic on the 405, we feel the loss of one another's presence. I usually try to say a few words about the student experience here at UCLA, and I'll just say there's no sugarcoating it. Students are struggling, whether with food insecurity or mental health, there simply is no panacea to the challenge of being a social animal forced to isolate. UCLA administrators, professors, and those of us who work in various Student Life roles had already seen our roles change to a kind of constant vigilance for depression and anxiety. The pandemic has, of course accelerated that process. But I'm proud of so many capable colleagues who have been able to add mental health consciousness and resources to their portfolio. It takes a village and thankfully, we have one here on campus that cares deeply about the whole community. Secondly, and of interest for this forum, many of us are also working with students on distilling facts from the onslaught of misinformation that they're fed online. The news consumed by our current undergraduates is often assembled by an algorithm designed to maximize profit for big tech companies. It thrives on confirmation bias and feeding us information that we want to believe. The idea of opening multiple news sources, reading a whole newspaper, it's no longer the norm. Of course, those of us in the 40 and above camp also now I struggle with this, but it's a particular challenge we are seeking to address with students, who literally have no other experience of current events. But learning to discern truth is part of the university experience. And it's a more important part of our jobs now than ever. Judea, I want to say that I miss you as well. And as I invite you to join us on the screen, I look forward to seeing you in person at a time when people can't tell whether or not we're wearing shorts. I miss all of you so much. Thank you for being here with us today. We now welcome our friend Judea Pearl.

Judea Pearl 4:50

Thank you, Rabbi Lerner and Kal, for the introduction. Ruth and I thank you all for being with us today, friends and colleagues and students and sponsors, and supporters of Daniel Pearl Foundation and all members of the UCLA community for whom this annual event has become a cultural landmark of shared values and shared aspirations. Special thanks this year go to Alexandera and Odessa of the Burkle Center for managing the transition of this lecture from Korn Hall to the virtual world, and for helping me personally navigate this transition. Now, friends, this lecture coincides with two major crises in our lives. The first was February 21. 19 years ago, we received that fatal phone call from the US consul in Karachi, Pakistan, informing us of a video that was found and that he hasn't got the heart to tell us what's in it. It was, and still is, incomprehensible for us to understand how the kindest of hearts could fall prey to the lowest of beasts, how a masterful pen and a friendly fiddle could be destroyed by one wing of one group. The second crisis clouding this lecture was last week's decision by the Pakistani Supreme Court to free Danny's murderes. If there was such a thing as justice, that thing lost its bearing yesterday when Omar Sheikh was acquitted in a court of law. In 2002, Danny's murderer had shocked the civilized world. In particular, it shocked his journalist friends into realizing that they no longer are protected by that invisible aura of safety which they imagined to have until that day. It also shocked them into asking more profound questions. Who are we? Who has anointed us with authority to tell fact from fictions, relevance from irrelevance, real news from fake news? These questions were raised forcibly when I first met our speaker, Jake Tapper the day he received the 2017 LA Press Club Award. And in his acceptance speech, Jake quoted profusely from fellow journalist Eric Blair, better known as George Orwell, who reportedly said, "In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act." Now, what I got from Jake's speech was also revolutionary. I came to realize that journalism in times of universal deceit is not too different from science in times of uncertainty. In science, too, you can never verify theories, you can only falsify them. Yet what makes the scientific process successful is not our certainty in the truth of theories, but our courage to refute prevailing theories and go about it in a principled and honest way. And this is precisely what Jake demanded from his fellow journalists in his acceptance speech, and exemplifying constantly in every day of his professional life, to fight for truth, and to do it in an honest way, without fear or favor. My second encounter with Jake was when he got into trouble with Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib, when Jake suggested that conservatives condemn Trump's incitement of his followers the same way they condemn Palestinian leaders for validating terrorism against Israeli civilians. Rashida tweeted, "Comparing Palestinian human rights advocates to terrorist white nationalist is fundamentally a lie." Uh oh", I said, "Jake is in real trouble." He touched the untouchable: Palestinian incitement to terror. And sure enough two weeks later, we saw Linda Sarsour and her followers demonstrating in front of the CNN office in New York City, waving a petition signed by 17,000 people calling for CNN to fire Jake Tapper, the anti-Arab, anti-Palestinian anti-movement... "Cancel Tapper," they shouted. This is getting serious, I thought. So I wrote to Jake, "Can I vouch for your innocence?" And Jake answered "Don't worry. No one at CNN takes Linda Sarsour seriously, but thanks for the offer. I may need it someday." Our next encounter however, it was Jake who came to our help. When the Pakistani court issued a shocking ruling, Jake was among the first to express an outrage and to call attention to this travesty of justice. Throughout this ordeal, Jake was a great source of support to us, and to the entire team that is fighting for justice to Danny. So thank you, Jake, for honoring our son with your lecture today and for everything that you and the journalistic community are doing to bring him justice and to keep his legacy alive. I now give the microphone to our speaker, Jake Tapper.

Jake Tapper 11:56

Thank you so much, Judea. It's really my honor. I want to thank Judea and Ruth, and Tamara and Michelle and any other members of the Pearl family that are out there. I don't know if Marianne or Adam are watching. I want to thank officials with the Pearl Foundation, students and alumni and faculty of UCLA, and any other guests who have joined us today. It is such an honor to deliver the 2021 Daniel Pearl Memorial Lecture, a deep and profound honor, especially significant as Judea just noted, given that this event comes as the Pakistan Supreme Court has ruled that Omar Sheikh and other terrorists involved in the heinous crimes against Daniel should go free. Regretfully, just earlier today, the Supreme Court ordered that Omar Sheikh should be taken off death row and moved to a government statehouse. The Biden White House has called all of this an affront to terrorism victims everywhere. Secretary of State Blinken last week called his Pakistani counterpart to express outrage and ensure accountability. And we'll see what happens; we're gonna stay on top of it, stay on top of this this outrage. I had Chris Christie on my show before this came to court, the Pakistani Supreme Court. He of course was the US attorney at the time of Danny's murder. And he recently told me that if Omar Sheikh and the others are freed from prison, the US should demand that they be extradited, that the New Jersey US Attorney's Office is ready to act to ensure justice. And as much as as journalists such as myself stay on top of this, I hope that with people like Secretary Blinken and former Governor Christie, justice will be done. But it's all a reminder that when it comes to the fight for justice and the fight against extremism and hate, vigilance must be eternal. We're never going to arrive at a place where we can just relax and not worry about it. And that vigilance can come through any number of places (vigilance for justice I'm talking about now), whether you're active in politics or you want to go into the legal system, whether you're a community activist, whether you want to be a journalist, you just want to be a well-informed citizen... that vigilance is the responsibility of all of us. I believe in a balanced and independent and nonpartisan news media, but that's not the same thing as a valueless news media. Journalists can stand up for justice, we can stand up for democracy, we can stand up for decency. I believe that it's our role. It's an essential part of the watchdog role for journalists. And I know that being a watchdog and telling stories is what Danny Pearl dedicated his life to. I would remember him when he was alive, I remember his work (I'd never had the honor to know him but I remember his work) and I know that this is an early calling for him, whether reporting for Stanford's KZSU, or co founding The Stanford Commentator, which was a student newspaper at the time that invited writing on all sides of contentious issues so people could hash things out and do so in a respectful way based on an evidence and facts and well thought out opinions. Whether he was dedicating his time to writing under deadline, a perfect 14 inch story about a six car pile up in Lanesborough, Massachusetts for the Berkshire Eagle, or tracking down terrorists in Karachi for the Wall Street Journal to find out more about why they were doing what they were doing. And that was Danny's legacy: facts and truth brought with clear eyes and context. His former editor at the Eagle, Louis Kyler, would later recount how Danny would have to tell him to stop making phone calls to make deadline. "I had to tell him 'Dammit, Danny, write, no more calls.' He always wanted to make more calls because there were so many dimensions of the story he was curious about curious about," the editor said. A former mayor in western Massachusetts recalled threatening Danny, he was going to cut off Danny's access to City Hall if Danny reported on a building development before the powers that be wanted it devolved to the public. And Danny said, "No, you won't." And he reported it to the public and he was right. So many journalistic values exemplified in just a few anecdotes about Danny and Danny's life: a curiosity about the world; a recognition that more information, more facts, more viewpoints would enhance all of our understanding of the world; and diligence and perseverance and a strong work ethic, and the courage to stand up to people in power whether a local mayor or something more nefarious. Those of us who work at CNN and on my shows The Lead during the week and on State of the Union on Sunday we aspire to live up to the these values that guided Danny, to be watchdogs to be storytellers, to inform, to come at issues not with an allegiance to any partisan view to come at it with no allegiance to a party, but an allegiance to our viewers and our readers, to bring them the facts and the truth and bring them an analysis and a context that that helps them understand what was going on. Because what was Danny doing in Karachi? He was trying to understand. He was trying to explain. He wanted to foment understanding. And that was difficult, what he did, and he ultimately gave his life to it. Every era of course has its challenges and then in this era where facts and truth are so willingly being disregarded, were bigotry and indecency and conspiracy theories are being mainstreamed. It is our belief on my shows that journalists need to stand something as lighthouses in a fog, hoping and helping the world to steer around rocky, treacherous shoals. And right now, in the world of politics, those rocks are lies and bigotry and indecency. Some of the lies about the election, ones that have been adjudicated in courtrooms and before election boards, and have almost entirely to be found without merit. And we need to be precise. We need to be clear-eyed with the public. If we have any hope that the facts we share, that the truth that we aspire to protect has any hope of surviving the assault by lies that we are now witnessing, we in journalism need to be extra diligent, even more so than before. The big lie of, course, right now is the one that Donald Trump actually won in a landslide victory. But because of fraud and malleable software, the election was stolen. And we all know that that's not true. What is shocking and dispiriting is to have seen so many other people beyond Donald Trump give this lie credibility. For months, this lie was repeated over and over on Fox and by Trump and by Pence and Rudy Giuliani and others. And then, lied to for months, millions of Americans got angry, got angry because they had been misinformed. And enraged and incited, thousands of them came to Washington D.C. Far right groups,, radicalized Trump supporters stormed the Capitol. Five were killed that day. Three died by suicide subsequently. And yet the lie continues. And like any virus, the lie mutates. It has variants. The Oregon Republican Party is now pushing a lie that the Capitol insurrection was actually a "false flag operation designed to discredit President Trump and conservative Republicans." The letter even compared the attack to the 1933 Reichstag fire. Some of the believers of the big lie also believe in the deranged QAnon conspiracy theory, that a cabal of Satan-worshipping pedophiles secretly rules the government and Hollywood, and Trump is a messiah0like figure who is going to bring about an end to it. The Hawaii Republican Part, in expressing support for QAnon believers, amplified the voice of a fringe conspiracy theorist who also denies that the Holocaust happened. And then, of course, is the big lies poster child Georgia Republican Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene, who is a bigot and a QAnon adherent, who over the weekend tweeted that she had received a supportive phone call from former President Trump. She tweeted attacks such as "Yes, there is an enemy within and that enemy is a poisonous rot of socialist policies and America-last sellouts who are pompous hypocrites that believe they are untouchable elites," which is certainly interesting language. In 2018, then-citizen Marjorie Taylor Greene wrote on Facebook that the "Vice Chairman of Rothschild Inc," international investment banking firm may have used "space solar generators" beaming the sun's energy back to Earth to fire a "laser beam or light beam coming down to Earth" to cause the 2018 Camp Fire in California in order to manipulate the stock market. And who would this benefit? Whose pockets would it line? Rothschild, Inc. and Senator Dianne Feinstein's husband Richard Blum. Greene has also expressed support on social media for an account that tweets conspiracy theories about the Israeli intelligence agency, the Mossad, suggesting that Israel killed John F. Kennedy. Now, needless to say, none of this is true. And needless to say, it is blatantly anti-Semitic. Blatantly. And yet it is a debate right now, a debate, a discussion about whether or not Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greeneshould be sanctioned at all. And sadly, we are in a period where deranged lies, whether they're anti-Semitic or not, deranged lies continue to be mainstreamed instead of isolated and condemned. And the question then becomes what is the role of a nonpartisan journalist at a time like this? I don't believe that it's our role to sugarcoat any of it. And we all need to know that those who push the lies will continue to attack us as well. And they will try to attempt to rewrite history. They will try to tell Americans that up is down and the moon is the ocean. Douglass Mackey is an anti-Semitic far right social media influencer, a troll, a very successful one in 2016. He was arrested the other day by the Justice Department on charges of conspiring with others in advance of the 2016 presidential election to use various social media platforms to disseminate misinformation designed to deprive individuals of their constitutional right to vote. He was sending out false information telling people that they could vote via text, Democrats, that they could vote via text. Mackey was known in 2016, he would tweet under the name Ricky Vaughn. And if you followed his account that year, you can find anti-Semitic canards as blatant as an octopus with the Star of David controlling the world. I guess this is for people who thought Marjorie Taylor Greene was too subtle. Mackey a few days ago was a cause célèbre on Fox ,he was described as a mere "conservative journalist who upset Democrats by mocking them." That's of course not a factual representation of the man or the crime. We need to be honest about what's going on. We are now all watching as there is a struggle in the Republican Party, among Republican officials, and it would be much easier for journalists who do not like to take sides who do not like to say one side is right and one side is wrong, it'd be much easier if I could come to you and say this a similar struggle to the similar extent is going on on the side of the Democratic Party. But it's not. There are Democrats who say offensive things and yes, anti-Semitic things. And they will continue to be called out by me and others. But this is something different because this has taken root in the mainstream of the Republican Party. What's going on right now in this struggle is that the party is trying to figure out how much it wants to embrace conspiracy theories and falsehoods and lies. 126 House Republicans, including the House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy and the House Republican Whip Steve Scalise, signed on to a lawsuit to go to the Supreme Court to overturn the results of the election, to strip away the electoral votes from four states that voted for Biden, a lawsuit so mendacious, so unfactual and disreputable rven just describing it factually might make it seem as though I'm engaging in hyperbole, but I'm not. The suit claims that the probability of Biden winning the popular vote in in Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin independently, given that Trump was leading in those states as of 3:03am, November 4, that Biden would then take the lead in those states.... According to this lawsuit, the odds the probability is less than one in one quadrillion. Anybody who was paying attention to the election knows that that's not true. We all knew when we all had been reporting that Trump had been discouraging his voters from vote by mail and Democrats had been encouraging their voters to vote by mail. Obviously, there was much more vote by mail than before because of the pandemic. So we'd all been reporting that that we're going to be states like Ohio and Texas, where the vote by mail was counted early in those states, which suggests early on a Biden lead, that Trump would almost certainly overtake, and that the reverse would take place in Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin... er, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, it was very close as to what was gonna happen in Georgia. But that's just one liein this and, fed these lines, months later a crowd of angry Americans stormed the Capitol. And the question is, how far is the distance between the big lie about the election, that McCarthy and Steve Scalise and Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley gave support to, how far is the distance between that lie and QAnon? How far is the distance between QAnon, and the lie that the Parkland and Sandy Hook shootings were false flags? And how far is the distance between any of those lies and the desire to blame the evils of the world on a minority group, whether Mexicans or Muslims or Jews, or any group? How far is it, what is the distance once you start lying willfully, eagerly? How far is it from the big lie about the election to saying that the Rothschilds are firing space lasers to make money? And how can any one of us sit back and let it happen? Because we're all seeing what happens when you let these things become mainstreamed. I know a lot of you see it on college campuses today, except perhaps the accusations aren't really coming from the political right but maybe from the left. Attacks on students or faculty members because of their faith or ethnicity, their religion, the kind of discrimination that assumes that because of your religion, you support all sorts of policies carried out by others who share your religion, or you support all sorts of policies carried out by a foreign government. Lies told in the name of justice. It's not acceptable, whether it's done by the left to the right. It's not acceptable, whether it's done by a student leader or a member of Congress. But obviously, right now, the bigger threat I see is the lies that are incubating inside the leadership of the Republican Party. Because we saw those lies turned into violence on January 6 2021. And to be honest, we saw it before then, too. We saw it on October 27 2018 in Pittsburgh at the Tree of Life synagogue shooting, 11 killed six wounded. What else was going on in October 2018? It was the midterm elections. Donald Trump and his supporters were saying over and over that a caravan of Honduran migrants were coming to the US. They would help destroy the country. Many of the President's supporters blamed George Soros, a Jewish billionaire. They blamed leftist groups. And the gunman that walked into the Tree of Life synagogue, he took them at their word. As Adam Serwer wrote in The Atlantic magazine, "the apparent sparked for the worst anti-Semitic massacre in American history was a racist hoax inflamed by a US president seeking to help his party win a midterm election. The shooter might have found a different reason to act on a different day, but he chose to act on Saturday. And he apparently chose to act in response to a political fiction that the President himself chose to spread and that his followers chose to amplify." And then came August 3, 2019 in El Paso, when another white supremacist, poisoned by the same lie, killed 23 people and injured 23 others at the Walmart in Texas. The big lie about the caravan is similar to the big lie about the election. The President and his supporters, such as congressman Matt Gaetz, spread it on channels where it was open and welcome, like Fox. It wasn't true. It was entirely in the service of maintaining power. Supporters took it seriously. Many were incited to violence. And now there are dead people because of a lie. I do not believe that journalists do anyone any favors by covering this kind of story with kid gloves. And I include myself in who I'm criticizing because I look back at how I covered Trump (and I do think I covered him fairly aggressively early on), but I look back and I am disappointed in myself in that I allowed him to move on from his racist comments about Mexicans that he made on his announcement day or his anti-Islamic bigotry that he made when he called for a ban on Muslims entering the United States in December 2015. Yes, I provided critical coverage. Yes, I called him out on his lies. But maybe I didn't fixate on those lies because I allowed him to move on and change the subject. I'm still grappling in many ways with what I could have done differently, what I should have done differently. But I'm confident it's something. Demonizing our fellow human beings, whether Latinos or Jews, or Mike Pence, or members of Congress... urging action against them, even vaguely urging action against them that could be seen as encouraging violence, whether it's stochastic terror, vaguely suggesting violence, or directly ("trial by combat", as Rudy Giuliani said, on January 6), underneath all of it is the corruption of facts and the destruction of truth. So my friends, in honor of Danny Pearl, whom I will admire for the rest of my life, in his memory, and in honor of his loving parents and sisters, his widow and his son, and in honor of Danny Pearl's search for truth and decency, defined in his all too brief life, let us all of us commit to standing up for these values, even in the face of their assault by some and callous indifference by others. Let us learn a lesson from this era by not just moving on from lies and bigotry, but by recognizing that toxins in our body politic need to be called out and they need to be expunged. It's not easy to do this. And it won't be easy for all of us to get through this era. And we will never succeed completely and utterly and totally, but in Danny's name, let us pledge to each other that we will try. Thank you so very much for this honor. I now look forward to our conversation.

Kal Raustiala 35:05

Great, thank you so much for that, Jake. And I couldn't really agree any more with what you said. I think the issues that you raised are incredibly important and really kind of shocking in many ways for those of us who have been around for a little while and seeing what American politics and journalism was like in the past. So I guess I want to ask you a few things, but one is about the role of social media in the things you describe. So, you know, I follow you on Twitter, you're a pretty active presence, many reporters and journalists are. And I think we all know that social media has been an important vector, maybe the single most important vector for all of these problems. So what should we do about that?

Jake Tapper 35:49

It's such a complicated question. In fact, I was just watching before this event the governor of Florida, Ron DeSantis, just announced a new proposal (I think? I don't... I assume it's a proposal, I don't think you can do it by executive action but I might be wrong, don't hold me to it.) where if a social media company deplatforms someone who is a candidate for office, then that social media company has to pay a fine of $100,000 a day for that deplatforming. Now, I don't think that that proposal passes constitutional muster, because social media companies are not the government and the First Amendment applies to the government, the government cannot regulate our speech. Social media companies can regulate whatever they want. So it's on its face unconstitutional. But it gives you an idea of how there there are a lot of people who look at social media and think, "Wow, there are a lot of lies being told on social media, what do we do about it?" There are a lot of people who look who who control the social media who thinks, "Wow, we're making a lot of money." And then there are other people who think, "I don't understand who's making these rules and how are they deciding what happens and it seems to unfairly go after conservatives." So let us assume that everybody except for the people that are just sitting back and making money are acting in good faith. I don't know. I mean, the truth of the matter is... look, I live in Washington, and I imagine that January 6th was traumatic to everybody in this country. But I do think, you know, working a few blocks from Capitol Hill and now not being able to take my kids sledding on Capitol Hill because there's a police presence, and it looks like a green zone in Baghdad. And maybe, maybe it's a little bit more... maybe it hits us a little bit more personally here in Washington, maybe, I don't know, maybe not. But it's a complicated issue. But one thing that I don't think is... I think that it's it's important for people who have these debates and discussions to do so in an honest way that relies on facts. So if people in social media actually think that conservative outlets are being discriminated against in favor of liberal outlets, okay, let's have that conversation. But what I do not, what I cannot, stomach is the falsehoods that a publisher dropping Senator Josh Hawley's book is muzzling Josh Hawley, it's a First Amendment violation. It's not. First Amendment applies to the government, the government is not allowed to regulate speech. It says nothing about a publisher. Josh Hawley cannot say I am refusing to interview him on my show, therefore I am suppressing his First Amendment right. It just doesn't work that way. And these private companies have a lot of power now. So maybe people wish that they could be violating the First Amendment based on the decisions that they make, but that's just not how it works. I don't have an answer. And it doesn't really... you know, social media is here. It's with us. I generally think there's a lot of opportunity for good. I constantly promote charity fundraisers and I have an auction every November for for wounded veterans on Twitter. And it's just a way to reach people. And I'm constantly learning things from people who have different life experience than I do, whether they are in Yemen, or they're a different gender or religion or upbringing or whatever... I mean, I learned so much from people on social media. But I recognize that it is also a very dangerous place. I don't have an answer is the long answer.

Kal Raustiala 40:13

It's a very hard question. And I think one, unfortunately, we're going to be facing for a long time. So let me ask you about one of the chief social media users who's gotten a little bit quiet lately. We talked about this in the greenroom just before we started. But we've not heard a lot from President Trump. In fact, very little. Not only was he obviously taken off Twitter and some other platforms, but interestingly, he hasn't been on Fox News, he hasn't, as far as I'm aware, been on One America News or Newsmax or any of the other outlets that might really welcome him (certainly welcomed him during his presidency). And so I'm curious, from your vantage point, why do you think he's so quiet now? And what do you think we're gonna hear from him in the future? Let's say once the impeachment trial is over.

Jake Tapper 40:57

Well I do think the impeachment trial, which starts one week from today, is no doubt one of the reasons we have not heard from him because the more quiet a presence he is, the easier it is for Republicans to vote to acquit him. But if he takes to, you know, if he were on... In a way, Twitter did him a huge favor, and Facebook, even though I know it's not perceived that way by his allies. But by banning President Trump, or at least, you know, temporarily removing him from Twitter and Facebook, he's not causing problems right now for Republicans. He's not causing headaches. And everybody in the world has a short attention span and a short memory, relative to transgressions (or most people do). And, you know, the more he recesses into the back of people's minds, the more people are inclined to say, "Oh, he's the former president, just let him live his life." If he were on Twitter right now, who knows what he would be saying, what he would be doing? I mean, it's not, you know, he said things that were supportive to the insurrectionists, the terrorists who attacked the Capitol, he said, "We love you" after they had attacked the Capitol in a video. So who knows? I do imagine that after the trial, and after he is in all likelihood, acquitted (because you need 67 votes to convict, and I do not see them getting more than five Republicans, so that's 12. Republicans. And once you're in the territory of the, you know, wondering how Rob Portman is going to vote when you know... I mean, I just don't see 12 votes. 12 additional votes), I imagine that he will return to Fox and perhaps OANN and perhaps Newsmax. I mean, he likes the limelight, and I'm sure we will see him. I think the bigger question, I think, will be how much does he realize that he'll get more attention if he is selective and appears on TV rarely? And I think what if he wants to do a big network interview, and he wants it to be live, so it can't be edited down? Will an ABC, CBS an NBC, will CNN... I mean, well, he would never do it with us so I don't really have to worry about that, we're the only channel he didn't give one interview to his entire term. But what will they decide to do? I mean, would ABC News, would CBS News refuse to give somebody whose utterances are accused of inciting violence, would they refuse to give him the platform? I don't know, but I'm sure we haven't heard the last of them.

Kal Raustiala 44:00

Would CNN take him on if he was actually interested in coming on? Would you interview him?

Jake Tapper 44:04

It's a great question, but the truth of the matter is I don't have to even make that decision because: a. he never gave... like, the last interview I did with him was when I challenged him on the fact that he was being racist about Judge Curiel, who was the judge from Indiana who had Mexican American heritage who Trump said he couldn't be fair because he wants to build a wall. And I said, "Isn't that the definition of racist?" And that was the last interview I had with him, Summer 2016. So a. ... and he hasn't done an interview with CNN, since I think August of 2016. So he'll never do one with us. If he did one with us, he would never do one with me. But that said, what would I do? I mean, just to engage in your hypothetical (because I shouldn't dodge questions because I'm a reporter), yeah, I would do it. Absolutely. But I wouldn't let him get away with filibusters or lies or racism or calls to violence, so I'd have to eat my Wheaties that morning. But yes, I would, I would do it.

Kal Raustiala 45:16

I personally think it's important to have him be interviewed by people who aren't just gonna nod at whatever he says and actually follow up with tough questions. So I'm glad that you would consider it I, I agree, it's far-fetched. But if it happened, I think that would be great.

Jake Tapper 45:31

I think the likelihood that I'll be interviewing Elvis in the next year is stronger, but...

Kal Raustiala 45:36

Let me ask you another issue about journalists and the changing nature of journalism. So I happen to be teaching my UCLA Law School students about the story of Julian Assange and WikiLeaks. And so this is for some of them distant history, they barely know about him. But it raises, it's back in the news, as you may know, because Julian Assange may be extradited to the United States and of course, was was implicated in the 2016 election. And so one of the interesting things from a journalistic point of view is whether Assange is a journalist, right, and is Wikipedia some kind of publication? And so just curious from the inside, what do you think about that?

Jake Tapper 46:15

Well, I tend to be a on... I tend to think that the more you start carving out exceptions, the more you potentially undermine people that you like, and I tend to be the kind of... like, I was raised where I learned about the ACLU defending the Nazis who wanted to march in Skokie. And I was raised to believe that as much as I hate Nazis, and it is reciprocated, that that is an important freedom that we stand for in the United States and that the freedoms are not there to protect us from the people we like and approve of, but the freedoms are there for the people that we don't like and we don't approve of, as long as they're, you know, they don't cross the line into advocating for violence, libel, slander, that sort of thing, when it comes to freedoms. So, yes, I think that Julian Assange, I think that going after him and saying he is not a journalist, causes... you're asking tough questions that are going to get me in trouble... poses First Amendment problems for other people because then it becomes... if it's just like, well, we don't like how he got this information. Well, I mean, the Nixon White House didn't like how the Pentagon Papers, you know, ended up at the Washington Post and the New York Times. I mean, how they got the information is not really the issue. Oh, Russians did it. Okay, let's see the evidence, but at the same time, is there a law against publishing factual information that is obtained illegally by a foreign government? If there is, okay. But if there isn't, then there are First Amendment questions that I think the prosecution of Julian Assange raises. Now, let me also state that I think he is a particularly malevolent person. And I think that he... like, the way he toyed around with the idea, with the lie that Seth Rich was a source of his when Seth Rich was not a source of his, and that's crap. And he kind of like played coy about it, which was playing along with the Seth Rich liars. You know, the idea that Seth Rich who worked at the DNC who was murdered tragically and then there was this whole other (I don't know how much everybody watching knows) this whole other campaign by Hannity and Lou Dobbs and all these right wing crazies to say that Seth Rich is really the one that gave the DNC emails to Julian Assange. So it's not the Russians, it's all it's all done in the service of Donald Trump, the Russian hoax, blah, blah, blah. And Assange played with that. He also engaged in anti-Semitism on Twitter. I mean, I saw him doing it. So, you know, I don't like him. But that doesn't mean that I don't think that... I do have problems with the government prosecuting him for the way they're going after him. If there's some other way they want to go after him. I'd be willing to listen to that. But I don't approve of how they're doing it.

Kal Raustiala 49:49

I mean, to be fair, I think some of the charges involved the Espionage Act and other things where there's classified information. And, you know, I think your example is an interesting one going back to the Pentagon Papers...

Jake Tapper 49:57

But can I point out, I mean, the Obama administration use the Espionage Act to go after whistleblowers and leakers as well They did so more than every other president combined up until that point. I'm not sure what the Trump folks did. But up until that point, Barack Obama was the most aggressive user of the Espionage Act. So that doesn't necessarily mean anything to me. Look, I'm, I'm happy to like... if people disagree with me, and Julian Assange comes back in the news and they want to come on my show, I'm happy to have this discussion and have a debate (and I wouldn't be the other person in the debate. I'd have Glenn Greenwald come or something) but that's just because you asked me my opinion, that's my, that's my basic opinion. I tend to side with, "I don't like what they do, but they have a right to do it in this country."

Kal Raustiala 50:45

I think that's an important perspective, and I tend to agree. Let me ask you about another journalist. You've spoken out... we talked obviously here about Daniel Pearl, and that's who we're memorializing today... You've talked about Jamal Khashoggi's death as well and spoken out a few times questioning, whether, you know, of course, what did the Saudis really know? What was their complicity? Do you think that the US government also knew or in some way looked the other way at this?

Jake Tapper 51:20

Well, I don't know if they knew... I don't know if they looked the other way while it was going on, but they certainly look the other way after it. And I mean, that's just factual. And I think MBS's [Mohammed bin Salman] complicity has been made pretty clear. And it will be interesting to see how the Biden administration handles Saudi relations because it's very easy when you're not in government. But I mean, it's very easy for people like you and me to criticize China and Saudi Arabia for various and horrific acts. But once you are the leader of the United States of America, and you have lots of competing interests, including fears of a nuclear Iran, or a need to have China control North Korea, I mean, then these things become a lot more complicated. And a lot of people who are now in the administration were like you and me, you know, criticizing China and Saudi Arabia and not having to worry about other things that we were going to need from China and Saudi Arabia for the benefit of world peace. But that's it, I think the Saudi government is horrifically corrupt and, you know, has a 17th century mindset and, you know, was complicit not just in, you know, the the murder of Khashoggi... I mean, you know, they were they were responsible for it. But there's a lot that they, I think, there's a lot that the Saudi government at the time knew about 911. I mean, it is one of the most amazing... I mean, 15 of the 19 hijackers, plus Osama bin Laden, were from Saudi Arabia. And it is one of the most amazing things that we that, you kno... not that I'm not calling for war in Saudi Arabia, but that the United States went to war in Iraq and not Saudi Arabia is something that 100 years from now people are not going to understand. So I think that there needs to be a lot more openness and transparency. And I don't know what's going to happen. I mean, I think that the the calculation that Jared Kushner made was probably not dissimilar from what I was saying about Julian Assange, which is, "this is what I need to deal with in order to achieve ABC." And maybe I'm wrong. Maybe I'm giving Jared Kushner too much credit, but perhaps he thought this is the best The United States is going to get in terms of a leader of Saudi Arabia in terms of his views on allowing women to drive or not executing people for being gay. And he has a more forward-looking view of peace in the Middle East or whatever. We'll see if Tony Blinken and President Biden come to the same conclusion, I don't know.

Kal Raustiala 54:23

Yeah, that's a tough one. And I agree, I think it's something that Democrats and Republicans haven't necessarily been that far apart on in the past.

Jake Tapper 54:29

No, not at all.

Kal Raustiala 54:32

Okay, so let's go to some audience questions. There's quite a few. So what I'm gonna do is, I'm just gonna, I'm gonna... we're picking and choosing amongst them, many of you I know, sent in questions, we got over 60 at this point. So obviously, we're not going to get through more than a tiny fraction. But so let's start off here. So Jake, I'm just gonna read these to you and you can answer. So first question: it seems that citizens are becoming more divided due to partisan views ultimately creating distrust of both parties. How can the media better balance the need to cover leaders who subscribe to white supremacy ideology and spread conspiracy theory, while not at the same time giving them a greater platform?

Jake Tapper 55:13

Well, those are two different questions. The one about partisan media concerns me all the time and it's concerned me for a long time, and I don't think it got better under Trump. I think it got worse. And I'm not blaming that on Trump. I just think that the effect of Donald Trump had on on the media and on the country in many ways was disruptive to the extent that, like, many people just became so opposed to him that they lost kind of sense and reason. And many people became so enamored of him that they lost sense and reason. I'm talking about people in the media, as well as the public. And I think that, you know, it'd be great for everybody to step away from the ledge and kind of come back. I'm not talking about the political center, but but just to, to to a world where not everything is like... for instance, there have there are legitimate debates to have about schools and whether schools should reopen during pandemic, and what's the best way to do it. And Donald Trump was saying things along those lines in like May or June of last year, and because it was Trump saying it, a lot of people just didn't want to listen to it. I'm not calling for schools to be open right now, it's a very complicated issue, that first of all, necessitates investment of PPE and safe conditions. And if people have pre existing conditions, they don't have to do it, all this other stuff. But my only point is just because Donald Trump said it doesn't mean it was wrong. Same thing with like, for instance, the Abraham Accords, or Operation Warp Speed or whatever. But I think because it was Trump, a lot of people just immediately hated it. Same thing with other people immediately loving it. So I do think that people in the media need to kind of like have a recalibration. And I think that that also, news consumers need to do the same thing, too. If you are only consuming media that reaffirms your worldview about everything, then maybe you're not stepping outside enough from your comfort zone to learn. So that's all I'll say about that. In terms of the white supremacist ideology, this is a challenge because you know, a few years ago, we have a great reporter out in California named Sarah Sidner (at our LA bureau actually, just phenomenal, CNN is so lucky to have her)... And in addition to all the other things she covers for us, she does a lot of stuff on hate groups. And one time, it was right after Donald Trump had said the empirically racist thing about those four Congresswomen of color, Rashida Tlaib, Ilhan Omar, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and Ayanna Pressley, three of whom were born in the United States (Ilhan Omar was not, she was born in, I believe, Somalia, but came here as a refugee and is an American citizen). So he said they should go back where they came from. Well, first of all, three of them came from here and the fourth is an American. And it was just an empirically racist statement. Sara did a piece for us in which she went out to talk to bigots, because these hate groups are a part of American political life. And if you don't... I'm not saying that they should be an accepted part of political life. They need to be called out. But I mean, yeah, look at what happened January 6, I mean, part of what was going on there were the hate groups. And so anyway, Sarah went and talked to one of them who basically said that he agreed with what Trump said, but then, but basically, it was all talk, because at the end of the day, he talks a good game, but, you know, doesn't enact enough racist policies or something like that. And we got attacked for it (Because this was like two sound bites in a three minute piece or something like that) and I got attacked for it and CNN got attacked for it for giving voice to this neo Nazi white supremacist racist, as if we were approving of what he said. And it's an interesting discussion. Because and, you know, I really thought about it, and we really discussed it a lot now, because obviously, we don't want to be in a position of platforming, approvingly these individuals, but how do you cover it if you are not covering it? Um, so I mean...

Kal Raustiala 59:52

It's a great question.

Jake Tapper 59:53

Yeah, it's, it's just, I mean, I think you could argue well, you just need to make it more clear that these are racists and that what they're saying is horrible, or you don't put them on air at all. Maybe you read a quote of theirs? I don't know. I don't know. It's easier for people who do print versions of this than TV. But I don't have an answer to that question. I will say that I pay even closer attention to those scripts now, when they come in to my show, to make sure that if we are talking about this stuff, it is very clear, editorially, what our position is on this. But I don't think we've used I don't think we've... well, we've put I mean, how do you cover racism if you never talk to racists? I don't have an answer to that. Um, I mean, I tend to believe that if you're calling it out is racist and saying it's horrible and not glamorizing it, not just giving a microphone to some bigot and letting him talk for 30 minutes, then I don't know how you cover it otherwise, and it is part of what's going on in our politics. But I do not think I have the answers to this, and my mind is open on it. But I also just think that there are a lot of racists in this country, a lot of anti-Semites in this country. Some of them are in Congress, and like, do we pretend they don't exist? Do we cover them by like referring to things that they've said but not explained... Yeah. I mean, I don't know. I think we have to be... as long as we're clear eyed about what we're covering, I think we have to cover it.

Kal Raustiala 1:01:45

I mean, certainly, as a news consumer, I would want to see that. And I would want to know that is a reality, as you say, of many of our, unfortunately, many of our fellow citizens certainly want to see that and know it, and in some ways, see it direct, not filtered. Let me move on. I'm going to combine a couple of questions here, just in the interest of time that are sort of... these are a little bit more personal. So what what's your most difficult interview ever? And then a related one is what are your personal news consumption habits that you wish more people knew about? So in other words, you're a professional. What do you watch? Where do you get your news? What do you think people should do?

Jake Tapper 1:02:27

Um, toughest interview? I mean, emotionally, the toughest interviews are the people who have just been through something horrific. Or people who are trusting you with their story and are crying because of their re-experiencing the trauma, that is much more difficult than confronting a liar on TV, or, you know, even a skilled filibusterer or changer of subjects, like most politicians are. So yeah, I mean, you know, victims of a school shooting, you know... when we did that town hall at Parkland a week after the shooting, it was really raw, it was a very raw event. They came to us, they wanted to do it, they wanted to talk about these issues. And it was very raw, and they were very angry. And you could feel it when you walked into the arena. That was difficult. Just because of the pain that you're seeing and feeling from all these people. My news consumption is... I mean, I just read everything. And social media is actually a pretty good place. Like if I follow like, 8000 people and like a lot of them are journalists. And they're all over the map, ideologically and experientially. And so I read a lot of what they put in front of me, obviously, I read the Times, the Post and the Journal. I listened to NPR on my way to work, I listened to a lot of podcasts, a lot of podcasts. I didn't use to, but then I got into Slow Burn. And I was just amazed at it. And in fact, I just saw that the new season just dropped today. So I'm excited about that. But yeah, that's pretty much it. When I come home, I do not watch the news at all. And in fact, if my wife is watching the news, I I asked her to turn it off. She is watching CNN but I just I can't watch. I watch Netflix or HBO Max when I'm at home like I do need to decompress. I read a lot. I read a lot and I read a lot of magazine articles too (smart writers whether it's Kevin Williamson at the National Review or you know any of the writers at the New Republic I mean, the Nation, Mother Jones, all over the map).

Kal Raustiala 1:04:52

So related question is do you watch Fox or Newsmax, not to critique but to learn how about half the country things?

Jake Tapper 1:05:00

Well, it's not half the country, right? I mean, like, the truth of the matter is, half the country is 180 million people. And, you know, if Fox has a, you know, 5 million people watching it at any given time, that's a great audience (for anybody, for me too). Um, so it's not half the country. But yeah, I mean, I see clips here and there, you know, that pop up on social media or, you know, on Facebook or whatever else, I'll see clips of MSNBC or conversely, on the right side, Fox. It's not really my thing to like, attack... I've been outspoken since Election Day about the lies thatFox has allowed to be amplified because I thought it was dangerous and that it ended up getting people killed. But generally speaking, if people want to watch Fox, that's their right.

Kal Raustiala 1:06:06

Last question, as we're almost at the close. So this from, I think, a student, certainly a young person, who says "I admire your work. I'm wanting to be a journalist one day, do you have any advice on how to be an effective journalist?"

Jake Tapper 1:06:21

Oh, I have a lot of advice. But I'll try to make it quick. So first of all, I would read and (I don't know what kind of journalist you want to be, but let's assume you want to start off in writing because that's really the foundation for anything you want to do) I would just read and read and read as much as you can. And listen to podcasts, listen to NPR, listen to the talk radio, listen, wait to watch 60 minutes, watch CNN watch Fox watch, you know, watch as much as you can figure out what you like. And then, if you're a student, or if you're right out of college or whatever, write! Write as much as you can. And, I mean, I decided I wanted to be a journalist when I was like late 20s? I started doing freelance writing. And I just kept on writing and writing and pitching stories and pitching stories. And usually, you know, the way to do a successful pitch is to come up with an idea or observe something and pitch to... you should start off like at a local free weekly, or your local newspaper. And then you just build your stack of clips and then figure out what you want to do next. But read as much as you can and write as much as you can are the two, the two rules I have, and then figure out what you like. And then try to figure out how to how to become that, you know. There are so many different kinds of journalism. And so many different kinds in each world radio, print, TV... and learn how to do it. And be prepared to be rejected, and don't take it personally.

Kal Raustiala 1:08:02

Solid advice. Well, Jake, thank you so much for for coming on with us today and for doing this. Normally, we give you a big round of applause. It's a little hard on Zoom, but we really appreciate you doing this.

Jake Tapper 1:08:13

It's my honor. I hope this was... I hope people enjoyed it. Thank you so much.

Kal Raustiala 1:08:17

Thank you. Thank you, everyone. Have a good evening.