November 29th, 2015

Guests: The New Yorker’s Ken Auletta and AARP New York’s Beth Finkel

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The New Yorker’s Ken Auletta

Auletta’s harsh criticism of the media’s coverage of the 2016 presidential race:

KA: “The media coverage of Donald Trump is embarrassing. … I think that they have given him so much—way too much—attention and I think that all of his opponents have real complaints about fairness. I mean, people talk about the press being unfair and the Republicans love to harp at their debates on the unfairness of the press. Well, the real unfairness, which they don’t harp about and are silent about, is the amount of coverage they give to Trump versus the coverage they give his opponents. … Trump is a ratings bonanza for television and so they just swallow hard and say we want to do anything we can, including prostrating ourselves, to get Donald Trump on our air because he jacks up our ratings.”

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Auletta says the media’s job is no longer educational, but profit-driven

KA: “It’s inherently unfair and it’s basically making an entertainment decision that has grave political consequences to it and I think that’s … it’s just wrong. … We claim we’re here to educate the public, but we’re really here to get ratings and sell advertising.”

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Auletta says politicians and press responsible for voters’ disaffection:

KA: “I think they’re upset about the dysfunction in Washington. They’re upset about some of the outrageous lies that politicians make when they stand up before a TV camera. For instance, take a look at Carly Fiorina’s argument about what Planned Parenthood did and claiming that what they were proposing to do was trading body parts from a fetus. That didn’t happen and yet she continued to make that claim even after the press properly pointed out that it was untrue. Or look at Donald Trump making these claims, which doesn’t seem to be affecting him in the polls yet but I suspect it will, making these claims about people in Jersey City standing up and cheering on 9/11 because the Twin Towers went down—which never happened. So I mean I think there’s lots of reasons that people are disaffected with politics and politicians, just as there are a lot of reasons that they are disaffected by the other unpopular group, which is the press.”

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Auletta calls for the shaming of the press:

KA: “One of the things you have to do with the press is you have to shame the press. We need more press criticism. We need more reporters held up to ridicule for some of the outrageously simplistic and stupid things they do and reporters are much more sensitive than politicians because they are much less used to being criticized. And when you criticize them it really has an impact.”

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On the ridiculous use of polling: “The press is so desperate to create narrative and make competition exciting.”

KA: “What the press has slipped into with polls is a … they treat campaigns like horse races and … the poll is not ‘What are the issues that are on the public’s mind or who are the candidates that are relating to that issue?’ The polls are treated like … they’re weekly. They’re multiple. And ‘who is ahead at the quarter pole? Who is ahead at the eight pole?’ That’s insane. I mean, people are not, people don’t know who John Kasich is. He happens to be the governor of Ohio. People don’t know who Chris Christie is—I mean, the larger public—and Marco Rubio. And I think you’ve just got to give it time, but the press is so desperate to create narrative and to make competition exciting. You see that’s actually … the major bias in the press. People argue, ‘Is there a conservative bias? Is there a liberal bias?’ I would actually argue that the biggest bias the press suffers from is a desire for conflict and the polls serve that bias because it serves this false conflict. ‘Well, Donald Trump is up! Or ‘Donald Trump is losing!’ It’s kind of insane.”

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AARP NY’s Beth Finkel

Gen X New Yorkers anxious about retirement:

BF: “61% of them told us that they were worried about not planning enough for their retirement. And it’s really funny because another 61% of them—actually Gen-Xers 66%—told us that they were likely to leave New York in their retirement years and we’ve dubbed that “Gen-Xodus.” So even if only half of them actually did move, I mean what a hit to New York State’s tax coffers, etc., not to mention the human capital that they would be taking with them.”

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AARP’s plan for a government-run retirement savings program:

BF: “We’ve been working on some proposed legislation called ‘Work and Save’ that would allow for a state-facilitated savings program, and that we hope would have a number of basic components to it: One would be automatic deduction, but people would have an opportunity to opt-out if they did not want to do that saving. It would be portable, because we know that younger people today are not just going to have one or two jobs in their lifetime. They are going to have many, so they need to be able to take this savings vehicle with them wherever they go.”

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