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tv   Fareed Zakaria GPS  CNN  July 4, 2021 7:00am-8:00am PDT

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welcome to our viewers in the united states and around the world. i'm fareed zakaria, and this is a special edition. state of america. today on the show, a report card on america. as the country celebrates its 245th birthday, we take stock of how the nation is fairing. we'll start with the state of
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democracy. president biden pledges to do big things. >> this is a generational investment to modernize our infrastructure. >> congress remains deeply divided and the states try to limit voting. >> change can happen, and i still believe we're at that moment now, but it's up to us to write the end of the story. >> then, race relations. just 13 months after the killing of george floyd. we've seen protests, but have we seen change? >> mink most african-americans have had that hope that the country can do better. >> also the state of the economy. stocks and housing and everything are up, up, up. but are we at peak america?
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finally, tiktoks, broadcasts, watching movie premieres from the comfort of your couch. we'll examine the state of american culture. but first, here's my take. we've all read stories of how americans don't care about history. a few years ago, a survey found that only one in three americans could pass the citizenship test that is required of all immigrants seeking naturalization. but that tells us more about the decline of civics education than about what americans value. in fact, this country has always passionately discussed and debated its past. we are going through a particular bitterly period of consternation now as some americans require a deeper reckoning of our history and what some decry as denigrating
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our country. last week gwyn berry turned away in the olympic trials as the national anthem was sung. >> it talks about our blood and slaying and it's pilfered all over the floor. it does not speak to african-americans. >> wherever you fall on this issue, it forced me to learn about the star-spangled banner, which was only adopted in 1931. its third verse does talk about slaves who tried to escape their captivity. and the man who wrote it, francis scott key, was a nasty racist. this is a country founded not on blood and soil nationalism but on ideas.
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that's why we have the concept of something being unamerican that is contrary to these american ideals. it's rare to hear a position described as un-italian or un-russian. you can have many ideas and still be russian because your nationalism is unrelated to idealogy. the united states, however, is a nation dedicated to a proposition, to use abraham lincoln's famous phrase. when we debate the past, we are debating the meaning of america. as the historian henry steele commodor once revealed, even though european states became more recently, asia and germany became nations about half a century after america, from them it can be said that the nation was a product of america, he wrote. but with the united states, history was the creation of the
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nation. for americans the country's history is not the accumulation of past events but rather the product of active choices that highlight the country's meaning and message. there was no golden age when americans lived in happy agreement. after all, the country began with deep discord. the constitution itself was so bitterly opposed by powerful voices that it could only be adopted along with ten amendments to the document. for almost two and a half centuries since then, americans have debated fiercely over everything, from national expansion to economics to wars, to, above all, slavery. slavery and its consequences are the greatest disgrace in american history. naturally this is the issue that produces the biggest and most re wrenching debate. i realize people see out llandi
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assertions or see a protest that makes them wince, or something that's taken too far this time. but it's all part of life in a free society. it is a much better indication of a country's vitality than some imposed heroic history that glosses over failures and mistakes and misdeeds. if that means we have to grapple with the reality that men like thomas jefferson or woodrow wilson were complicated characters with great achievements and great flaws, that happens to be the truth. we should have faith that in a free society we can honor men and women for what they did right and hold them to account for what they did wrong. many are concerned that in this intellectual atmosphere of anything goes bad ideas, even da dangerous ideas, might be let loose. they might. so fight against them with your own better ideas. cancel culture on the left is a
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liberal trend. but perhaps more worrying about laws being passed by republican state legislatures that ban the teaching of certain ideas and theories. the rights version of cancel culture is fast becoming legal censorship and state propaganda. this week the chinese communist party celebrated its 100th anniversary. amidst all the fanfare, there was no public discussion of the party's terrible failures, from the great leap forward to the cultural revolution. that is a sign of furor and f frag fragility, not strength or confidence. go to for my podcast this week, and let's get started.
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so how will history view this moment in american political life, and how can the past help us understand what is happening today? i am honored to have two pulitzer prize-winning historians with me today. doris goodwin earned a pulitzer for her book called "no early time." her other book is "leadership in turbulent times." and my colleague this week was honored for his book "american liar." his latest is title ld "his tru is marching on." leach is a previous advisor to president biden. jon, how would you characterize this moment. we do seem divided. what's your best suchlry. >> well, i hate to say it
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because of the way the decade turned out, but i think we're in the 1850s in america. i think you have a dedicated minority of the population. it was the successionist slaveholder interest in the 1850s, today it was this vast swath of people who have found a home in the republican party who are no longer part of a coherent and constructive and good intentioned conversation about the future of the country. and when you turn politics functionally into religion -- and i believe that's what's happened -- is you have your own holy books, you have your own profits, you have your own path to salvation -- that is a terrible, terrible blow to free government because a democracy fundamentally depends on our
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capacity to see each other not as adversaries or heathen but as neighbors. and so i really do believe that the divisions we're enduring now are a difference of kind and not degree of certainly those that have affected us since the 1930s. >> and, doris, when you look at a period where there is no question that we're deeply divided and you look at the 1850s, what gets the country out of it? what changes the phase? does it take, i mean, a terrible c c conflagration like the civil war, does it take what lincoln displayed? what do you think? >> i think what it takes is a combination of the people on the outside pressuring in and the leadership that's there. at the end of the civil war when lincoln was called a lib rerate
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because of the emancipation procl proclamation, he said don't call me a liberater, it was the war overall. if the people who lost an election, in that case the south, the democrats lost the election, think they can break up the union because they lost. that's somewhat where we are today. on the other hand, the republican party was formed, lincoln became the president of the united states, the civil war was fought. yes, thousands of people had to die, but in the end the emancipation was proclaimed and the union was restored. you do have a similar threat that jon may have thought about, too, from teddy roosevelt who warned that democracy would be underthreat, and in some ways
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there is an echo today that if people in certain sections and regions begin to think of each other as the other rather than common american citizens, but the answer to that is what you said in your opening piece. it's civil education. i believe it's national service. you get city to the country, country to the city, and you begin to share a revolution with shared values and you get an understanding of what's right about america. we had more people voting than ever before. we have to get more people out to the polls. that's the key. >> jon, how much of this -- are we grappling with the fact that abraham lincoln died and his vision for reconstruction was never really pursued and reconstruction then failed and jim crow was reimposed? in a sense, does it all go back, or a large part of it go back to that fact that while there was the emancipation proclamation, while there was the freeing of slaves in the 13th, 14th, and
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15th amendments, it didn't mean a lot for hundreds of years afterwards. >> the civil war changed laws but it didn't change enough hearts. i didn't think there was any doubt about that. it didn't change enough minds. one of the tragedies of american history, if not the central tragedy of american history, is that we are founded on an idea of equality, but we profess it far more often and with greater passion than we practice it. the struggle for justice and equality and a history of which we can be proud is a daily one, i would argue, at the risk of self-parody, in everybody's soul. the soul of a person, i believe, is not all good or all bad but is an arena of contention in which our worst instincts do battle against our better angels. i don't want to drag you two into this, but i know my worst instincts win a hell of a lot
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more often than my better angels do. and because democracy are a sum of its parts, and the parts are human, not clinical -- this is a country not founded on pa parchment, it's founded on people. if we, the people, cannot realize that a sense of neighborliness and the sense of pursuit of justice for all are not animating principles, then we fall into this hobsean world where it's the war all against all. and i fear, far more than i would have even a year ago, because of the aftermath of the election, because of january 6, i fear for the first time, in my adult life, that we may be handing over democracy to our children that does not resemble the best parts of the democracy that shaped us. when we come back, more of this conversation with jon meacham and doris kearns goodwin.
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we are back with doris kearns goodwin and jon meacham. doris was talking about how the world can lead us to the better angels of ourselves or our darker impulses. the question i have that sort of relates to that, if leadership is so important, clearly donald trump is viewed by some very large part of the country as his leader. so much so that he dominates a party in a way that i can't recall any prior president in american history. the one that i think of is teddy roosevelt who so dominated the republican party that he left it and tried to, in effect, create his own party, the bull moose party. are there any other perils? what does it mean when a leader gets so powerful that he is more powerful than the party itself? >> i think partly it has to do with the nature of the media today, right?
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i mean, you had -- one of the scary things about the 1850s is you had a partisan media. so when lincoln goes to a debate with stephen douglas, the republican newspaper says, he did great, he was carried out on the shoulders of his supporters, and when a democrat does badly today, they say he fell so flat on the floor that he had to be carried out. we have people listening to different cable networks, different social media, and you have former president trump that dominates one of that form of media. it is a scary thing, but i think we have to remember, what are the mysteries of when citizens become active? you've got the civil rights movement that's there before lyndon johnson is able to get free civil rights laws through. you have the women's movement, the gay movement, the environmental movement right now, the climate change movement. we have to depend that there are
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times when the movements happen, you need a leader in there. if the leader can get in there and mobilize the sentiment of the people, change happens. i still believe we are in that moment now. it's up to us to write the story. we know how the civil war ended. we are still writing the chapter of where this is going to end. there is a quechance for what bn will do with climate change, infrastructure, and there are leaders out there that we're going to have to take hold of, as jon said, the better ane skb -- angels of our nature, but it's up to us. we are the collective entity right now. >> jon, when you think about what direction we are going, left or right, you said something interesting in the break to me. you said, economically, clearly we've moved left, but culturally we may be center right or right. how do you account for that
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puzzle? >> well, i have a theory about this, which is that one of the reasons for the republican flight from reason is a fundamental and almost elemental sense that from eisenhower until trump, republicans and conservatives supported presidents who, in the end, did not deliver for them. and when you come to 2016 and you have this choice of former governors related to presidents and senators, and then you have this voice, the trump voice, there were enough people who thought, you know what? we're like lucy and the football, we're not going to fall for this again. and that's because -- you and i have talked about this for years. eisenhower was not a radical right wing republican. he said if anyone were to attack social security, that would be political suicide. richard nixon and gerald ford were centrists.
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neither one could even conceivably be nominated today. george w. bush would tell you that there is a line between t.a.r.p. during the financial crisis and trump. and so i think that -- i believe republicans at some level know that they basically lost the argument over the role of the state in the marketplace. now, i know a lot of folks on the left think that's crazy, but from their point of view, government keeps getting bigger and that was a central claim. so, therefore, their anxiety, their political energy has to find a channel, and that channel has become cultural. the republican party as currently constituted right now is far more about having power so that liberals can't have it than having power for a positive agenda. >> it is what the historian
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fritz carved in terms of the 1920s, the call for despair. doris, you have a blunt nationalism about america. do you worry there is this very dark strain of people who feel their country is going away, this is the last stand? there is a kind of, you know, dark milinarism that if we don't stop this now, the country is going down to perdition. >> i do kind of worry about it, but i guess that bland realism that i'm not willing to get rid of is this country has had things happen before and we've come out with greater strength. when fdr was about to take
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office in 1923, they said, if your ideals happen, it will be a failure. if they don't happen -- the idea that people are trying to restrict the vote, the very thing on which a democracy depends, lbj said voting is the basic right upon which all the rest is meaningless, because it controls your destiny. the real fight for the biden administration right now, the most important thing that will happen in congress, are they going to be able to protect voting rights against these state attempts to not only take away people's rights to have the option to vote but take away the counting of votes. this has to be fought with every bone in every people's body. it should be a bipartisan majority that cares about voting
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or democracy itself really is at risk, and i think that's the central point we're at right now. >> what a fascinating conversation with the two of you. thank you so much. it's an honor to have you both on. next on "gps," we will tackle race relations in america 14 months after george floyd's murder. i will be joined with another historian, amet gordon reef. neutrogena® for people with skin. dawn antibacterial cuts through tough grease with 50% less scrubbing. it also removes 99% of bacteria from your hands. dawn antibacterial. an easy way to clean your dishes.... a smart way to wash your hands. listerine® cleans virtually 100%. helping to prevent gum disease and bad breath. never settle for 25%.
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♪ watch the olympic games on xfinity ♪ ♪ root for team usa and feel the energy ♪ ♪ 7000 plus hours of the olympics on display ♪ ♪ with xfinity you get every hour of every day ♪ ♪ different sports on different screens, ♪ ♪ you can watch it anywhere ♪ ♪ and with the voice remote ♪ ♪ you never have to leave your chair ♪ show me team usa. ♪ all of this innovation could lead to some inspiration ♪ ♪ and you might be the next one to represent our nation ♪ ♪ this summer on your tv, tablet, or any screen ♪ ♪ xfinity is here to inspire your biggest dreams ♪ it's been just over a year since george floyd was murdered at the hands of the minneapolis police. and it's been just over a week
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since derek chauvin was sentenced for that murder. in that span, the country has seen mass protests, statues come down, schools change their policies all to be more equitable and try to remove remnants of the country's racist past. a president prone to racist dog whistles was voted out of office. the new president signed a law making juneteenth a federal holiday. it would seem that the arc of history may be bending to its justice. is it? for the state of race in america, i want to talk to annette gordon reed. she is a professor at harvard and a pulitzer prize-winning historian. her new book is "on juneteenth." annette gordon reed, welcome to the show. >> gad to be here. >> i know this is an impossibly large question, but if somebody were to ask you, what is the state of american race relations today, how would you answer?
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>> well, i think it's like a river. there is a surface and a deep part of it that could be going with cross currents. i think we're sort of at an interesting time because we see the growth in white nationalism, we see a growth in efforts to suppress the vote, which, in many instances, means suppressing the black vote. on the other hand, we go through our daily lives and we seem to get along. there is not a race war going on, but there seem to be people who wish to foment one. >> let me tell you how i look at it and tell me if i'm wrong. i do think there has been an enormous amount of progress made. blacks are more integrated into every echelon of american society, whether college, grad school, professional life. you look at the protests with what happened with george floyd, and it seemed to me for the first time there were truly multicultural and lots of white
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people involved. you have juneteenth becoming a holiday. so there is real progress. it's not just that we're getting on day to day, wouldn't you say? >> i would, but surely -- i'm thinking of the starting point. yes, we've made an enormous amount of progress. but at the same time, i don't think we can ignore the fact of the sort of warning signs of dissent from this idea that we should get along. and we have to be concerned about that. >> do you think that the kind of things you're worried about are a backlash to the things i was talking about? >> absolutely. yes. i think we're still in something of a backlash from having had a black president. we do know that throughout history, any time there has been a sort of visible advance of african-american people, there is a backlash. and then things settle down, and there's progress, and then there's another backlash. and, you know, we have this cycle going on, and i think we're in the midst of that right now. it is a backlash.
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but not -- we haven't gone back, obviously, to the bad old days. but we have to be vigilant about this. i guess what i'm saying is i don't want people to be complacent about the idea that progress is inevitable. history has no end, it has no side, and we just have to keep at it, and the only way to do that is not to become complacent about our situation, even though, you're right, we should mark progress when it has happened. >> what do you make of these efforts to look back, to kind of have a reckoning with american history, things like the 1619 project? there is one side that says, look, it's very important to look plainly and frankly at america's history which has a great deal of racism, and there are others who worry it's going so far that we will not honor the country's founders like jefferson and washington anymore. where do you come in? >> i don't think that there is -- it makes sense to assume that just because people talk about 1619 or people raise the
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issue of slavery that that means that people don't love the country. african-american people have been among the most patriotic people in this country from the very, very beginning. african-american men and now women have fought in every war that the country has ever had, they've tried to uphold the values of this country. we've been the people who have been pointing to the declaration as america's creed and as something that's an important part of what it means to be an american, and yet we have a critique of the country as well. i have said, you know, loving something doesn't mean that you take an uncritical stance towards it. if you really want a person or things to be better, you have to deal realistically with them, and you have to have a hope, and i think most african-americans have had that hope that the country can be better. james baldwin says he criticized the country because he loved it. and that's -- i mean, that's my stance on it. >> there is a line in your book
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where you quote w.e. du -- dubois where there is a fundamental blackness. can you explain that? >> i think he's saying black americans have existed in the country as second-class citizens. we've lived in a place that we've loved and known our families in, had great experiences in, had hopes for, and many in the country don't -- have not accepted us fully as american citizens. so that creates a tension that african-americans have had to resolve over the years. people ask you, how can you love a country that treats you this way, where you're treated in this fashion, and so that creates the dilemma that he was talking about. >> on that note, annette gordon-reed, thank you for being here. >> it was a pleasure. thank you very much. next up, the state of
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america's economy. it looks like it's booming, but is it really? and if it is, will the boom last? that story when we come back. knowing you understand your glucose levels. ♪ i just heard something amazing! now for the first time one medication was approved to treat and prevent migraines. don't take if allergic to nurtec. the most common side effects were nausea, stomach pain, and indigestion. ask your doctor about nurtec today. you need an ecolab scientific clean here. and here. which is why the scientific expertise that helps operating rooms stay clean now helps the places you go too. look for the ecolab science certified seal.
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♪ the post-pandemic reopening has brought a new sense of giddiness and optimism on the new economy. housing is down, the economy is booming, life is bustling. is this here to stay? what will the new normal look like? with me is the chief global strate strategist and the author of "10 rules of successful nations, ruchir sharma.
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is that really what's going on in long historical context? >> fareed, i think so, because we went through the last decade for the first time in american history without a recession in the u.s. we had the pandemic-induced recession which was, in many ways, artificial, and now we are back to where we were, where we left off. the only difference being that we have spent a lot of bullets in fighting this pandemic from an economic standpoint in terms of the deficits we're running and the debt we're being forced to take on to deal with this pandemic. but the main point is this, that america has been the comeback nation of the last decade. i think this is still artfully appreciated and understood by many people. the fact that america shared in the global economy contrary to all the pessimism that existed exactly a decade ago has ended up going significantly higher over the last decade.
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>> so when you think about, you know, sort of this decade, what you're saying is that after the global financial crisis, america sort of got its act together or whatever and has basically been on a kind of long boom that has really -- most people talked that we would decline as a gdp. we've actually increased over the last ten years. >> exactly. and think there is a further point here. america has shared that the global economy has been steady for the last three or four decades. but as a financial superpower, america has never been as powerful as it is now. that is a bigger distinction. ame america's power is unprecedented. but this may be as good as it gets, that a lot of people are
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getting excited and optimistic about mamerica now, but the tim to get really excited and optimistic is when people were pessimistic a decade ago, or even to that medium, but to this giddiness, i would just point to the fact that america's assets, you look at the stock market, you look at the bond market, you look at american housing, you put it all together, america has never looked this expensive compared to the rest of the world. when it comes to looking this expensive over the last 100 years, generally it has done more poorly compared to the rest of the world. >> what about the debt? you hear a lot about the fact, particularly after the pandemic, but a lot of people now say, look, we were wrong about debt. ten years ago we worried too much, we should have borrowed more and gotten the u.s. out of the recession then faster. what do you think about the pandemic-related debt?
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>> i think that we still don't know what the consequences of that are, all because what happened in the past doesn't mean it will happen in the future. but here's what really concerns me, which is the amount that america owes the rest of the world today is about 60% of its economy. that number is staggeringly high, and historically if a country has been that indebted to the rest of the world, it has led to a decline in its currency in particular. that is one of america's particular advantages, that it has the world's dominant, we are able to borrow from expenses because of that, but now we may take it to the extreme and on the edge here. the next decade things may not look as good for america compared to the rest of the world. >> ruchir sharma, sobering
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insight. thank you very much. >> thank you, fareed. let's not look at the aspect of any country's help. it's culture. what can we say about american culture today? how does it compare to the past? i'll talk to one of the great scholars of the day when we come back. when technology is easier to use... ♪ barriers don't stand a chance. ♪ that's why we'll stop at nothing to deliver our technology as-a-service. ♪
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are you a christian author with a book that you're ready to share with the world? get published now, call for your free publisher kit today! louis menand is perhaps the foremost historian on the technical landscape. his book won the pulitzer prize. his new one, "the free world" has received many more rave reviews. he teaches history and writes for the "new york times." wel welcome. when you look at america today,
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how does it compare to the period you wrote so much about? >> the period i wrote about was the period right after the second world war from about 1945 to 1965, the cold war years. so comparing that period to today, i think we would say that today cultured america is doing extremely well. i mean, we have to bracket the pandemic period when cultural industry struggled a bit, but on the whole there is an enormous amount of product out there, people are creating it, people are consuming it, people go to museums, they buy books, they download music, they stream everything, and all those things are infinitely more accessible than they were 50 years ago. and i think that we're central to people's lives. plus the bar to entry for creators of culture and consumers of culture is just very low. anybody can record a song and post it on spotify or youtube,
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and most anybody can listen to it there. remember, video games are culture, tiktok is culture, music videos are culture, and all these products now circulate worldwide. i would even say criticism is in great shape because the web is filled with criticism. a lot of it is very learned and sophisticated and it's all very easily accessible. by that measure i would say culture today is very strong. >> what about the big difference that strikes me between culture today and the period you are writing about this this book, which is -- and you alluded to it at the start which is it's totally decentralized now. there are no gate kekeepers, yo don't need to go through a certain set of established avenues or things like that, whereas culture in the 1950s, '60s was still very heirarchical. is that a good thing, or does it
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mean anything goes and standards have gone down? >> how could it not be a good thing? when i started writing in the 1970s and 1980s, it was all print and there were relatively few publications where you wrote a review or wrote an essay people would pay attention to it. so the gate was very narrow to be part of the political conversation in a public way. very few people could get into those venues. today is completely different. anybody can write a review on amazon. believe me, they do. and we have to sort through, you know, the stuff that we find online. it's like when you're buying a product. you read all the customer reviews, some of them get one star, some get five stars, you have to kind of sort it out. as you say, there is no gatekeepers and no vetting but allows all kinds of opinions to get out into the public realm. i think that's a great thing. i also think it's a great thing
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that people can write a book and sell it digitally on amazon, make a music video and get it on spotify, that there is all this incredible access. a does that mean the standards are different? yes, i think it does. there is no history that creates heirarchical greater goods. but that's what consumerism is all about. we like to make choices for ourselves. what's missing, which is what i think you're trying to get at, fareed, and that i agree with, that there is a sense that all of it matters. i that it's more of a cultural product that makes us satisfied. i don't think we talk about culture in that way except for some political senses that people are sensitive to. generally, is it a good movie?
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we don't talk like that anymore. >> we're living in a less than ideal time, don't you think? >> about culture, that's right. it's very idealogical politically. >> we can get $100 million for a painting more than it did probably in 1950 or '51. >> we do care about that. we care about sales. we care more about how much movie stars make. i think people probably assume how much movie stars with paid, but now we know how much at the get, sports stars, et cetera. that is more important to a lot of people. >> nice to have you on. >> thank you, fareed. >> and thanks to all of you for being on my program this week. happy fourth of july to those who are celebrating, and to everyone, see you next week. wi.
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with schizophrenia, i see progress differently. it's in the small things i look forward to. with the people i want to share it with. it's doing my best to follow through. it's the little signs that make me feel like things could be better. signs that make it feel like real progress. caplyta effectively treats adults with schizophrenia. and it's just one pill, once a day, with no titration. caplyta can cause serious side effects. elderly dementia patients have increased risk of death or stroke. call your doctor about fever, stiff muscles or confusion, which can mean a life-threatening reaction or uncontrollable muscle movements which may be permanent. dizziness upon standing, falls, and impaired judgment may occur. most common side effects include sleepiness and dry mouth. high cholesterol and weight gain may occur, as can high blood sugar which may be fatal.
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xfinity internet customers, take the savings challenge at or visit an xfinity store to learn how our switch squad makes it easy to switch and save hundreds. i'm brian stelter live in new york and this is "reliable sources "where we examine the story behind the story and try to figure out what is reliable. this hour we are going live to kabul for anna coren's notebook where america's longest war draws to a close. can you spot the difference between these two men? is tucker carlson the new alex jones? we'll get into that. and later, what needs to change in the coverage of climate