“Anarchy Is Good, Regulation is Bad”


NewCo Shift Forum

The tech industry is poised to lead the resistance to Trump. But will it?

At the dawn of the Trump administration, a diverse panel of technology veterans — Fred Wilson, co-founder of Union Square Ventures, Rachel Whetstone, head of policy and communications for Uber, and DJ Patil, the outgoing Chief Data Scientist for the White House — went on the record to discuss the impact of a new and unpredictable administration on their industry. What resulted was a compelling, wide ranging, and sometimes salty exchange. Below is the video and the full transcript, edited for clarity.

John Heilemann (JH): Rachel Whetstone is the head of policy, and a bunch of other stuff at Uber. Fred, come on up. Fred, from Union Square Ventures. A man who’s a great venture capitalist, and also really interested in public policy. Then DJ Patil, who was the chief data scientist for the United States of America until a couple of days ago, and like Valarie Jarrett, now is enjoying actually sleeping regular hours.

This panel, which could basically range across a wide variety of things, is basically meant to focus on the effect of Donald Trump on technology and the technology industry.

I want to start by asking each one of you this: The election of Donald Trump and in concert with that the total control of the legislative branch by Republicans. We now have an all-Republican government on the legislative and executive side. That means what to your industry and your company at the highest level?

Rachel Whetstone (RW): I think if I was going to make a prediction, it would lead to more activism on the part of companies. I think that a lot of the, I’m speaking mostly for Silicon Valley or Seattle-based companies, the things that their employees care about and the things that they care about culturally are at odds with a lot of what’s been said and is being done.

I think the travel ban is the first of those. If you go back, I first got into the Valley ten years ago when I was working at Google. Ten years ago we were focused on campaigning around free expression issues, which mattered a lot culturally and also commercially around LBGT issues and also immigration has always been really, really important to the Valley.

If I was going to predict what’s going to happen, I think that’s my best guess.

JH: A future of greater activism and more engagement in Washington and political and policy issues because of this turn of events. Fred, talk to me about this from the perspective of someone who’s seen a lot over a long time.

Fred Wilson (FW): I agree with Rachel that there’s a lot of opposition in the tech sector to some of the most out there issues that the Trump administration has put forward. I also think that there’s the possibility of much less regulation in areas that really matter for tech.

The rolling back of Dodd-Frank and a lot of the regulatory issues around raising capital and going public, that’s very promising.

I think this administration will be more aggressive in supporting disruptive things like blockchain technology and other things because they just don’t give a fuck and they don’t really care. I think it’s going to be more of anarchy is good and regulation is bad. Honestly, that’s good for tech.

JH: DJ, you have seen government’s role in technology from both the perspective of being somebody who’s been inside the government on two different occasions, under a Democrat and a Republican. You’ve seen it from the outside as someone who’s built stuff here in Silicon Valley. Give me your 30,000 foot view here. Trump means what?

DJ Patil (DJ): It’s a little weird for me, I get to say things and I don’t have to worry about going to jail. [laughter]

JH: If you say certain things, you’ll still end up in jail. Just to be clear. Not everything is unlimited…

DJ: The number one thing I think that I’m looking at is that I think it’s going to be substantially messier and that it’s going to be increasingly more challenging to think about how to plugin to the process.

You’ve had people, historically, who’ve been cabinet officials that are the best of the breed, the secretary of defense, Ash Carter, who was a Rhodes scholar and nuclear physicist. You had Steve Chu from Department of Energy who was a noble laureate. Then Eddie Mannis who was a well regarded scientist.

You had people who could discuss issues at that very highest level. The other thing is that president Obama took a very deep interest in learning about these technologies.

My concern is now as we move from something about health care policy, on interoperability, to encryption, to drones, or big data, or AI, all these things had an extraordinary depth of listening to figure out and craft policy.

Many times that was…Let’s not put direct policy. Let’s put guidance knowing that this field is going to evolve. There hasn’t been another CTO or chief data scientist appointed yet. I think that’s troubling, for who is providing the technical expertise at the top levels directly to the President or the members of the cabinet.

That’s going to add to a lot of confusion as to not only what to prioritize, but how to go forward. There’s going to be a lot of voices that are messy and driven by very large industries because they have their people in the place, and that we’re seeing in the FCC.

JH: I just want to ask you this real simple question. If Donald Trump came to you and said, “You know, I’m in the market for a chief data scientist.” Would you like to stay on, come back, and do another tour of duty? And offer you the opportunity to do that and also have control of his Twitter account, access to his Twitter account…[laughter]…would you take that job on behalf of the American people?

DJ: I might have to take one for the team.

JH: OK. Rachel, you’re about to say something.

RW: I just think one other area of policy that no one’s really talked about. I think if the tax reforms go through around lowering the US corporation tax rate and changing repatriation rules, that will have a profound effect in the Valley because you’ve got large billion numbers of dollars overseas owned by tech companies.

I think that that money will start coming back and it will be invested in new and interesting ways. It could have a very, very profound effect on investment in the Valley and in tech in the US.

FW: We could also see if capital rates and ordinary income rates come together. We don’t have this big differential anymore. We could see companies choosing to compensate their employees more in cash and less in stock which, I think, would be unfortunate, but it could happen.

JH: Let me try disentangle this a little bit, we have issues that really directly affect the tech industry because there are technology policy issues, and there are broader economic policy issues similar to what you’re mentioning that affect the tech industry in particular ways because of its unique characteristics. We have to divide those out a little bit.

Let’s start, at least for now, just because some of the things that Brad Smith just said [Ed. note: Smith spoke earlier in the event] and because it’s so much in the headlines right now with the appeals court hearing to reverse the stay of Donald Trump’s travel ban. You’re here, Rachel. I want to get into this with you a little bit because we obviously had a bit of a moment here over the last month.

Travis [Kalanick, Uber CEO] first, going on Trump’s business advisory council going to Trump tower sitting with…or not going. He was not there. He came on after that, right? He joined it along with the Elon Musk as the two representative of the industry. The travel ban gets implemented.

Various things occur including protests around the world. New York City cab drivers who decide to go on strike will not go to JFK and other New York area airports. Uber decided to keep doing that. That causes controversy. Lots of accounts get deleted.

Travis that announces that he’s not going to be on the business advisory board. That’s a high-level overview of the basic things that happen, that it was a crisis moment for your company.

Just walk me through that from the beginning, how the company and Travis thought about these decisions they made, each stage of that. I do think it’s instructive and it provides a window into how a lot of tech companies are dealing with what is an increasingly chaotic scenario with this administration’s operating.

RW: Yeah. I think your characterization events are entirely accurate. Look, from our perspective, it seemed like a non-crazy thing to do to go on a business advisory board. I think there’s lots and lots of people who, at the time, thought it was non-crazy. It didn’t generate very much publicity or controversy.

I think with hindsight, we can all see that, probably, it wasn’t quite the right thing to do for lots of different reasons, most important because we, as a company, and Travis, as an individual, came to be seen as somebody who is supporting every single one of the administration’s policies.

JH: A collaborator, right?

RW: He would basically wake up in the morning and say, “Oh, gosh. The president’s going to do this. What is this thing? What do we need to think about that thing?” We didn’t really sign up to be this sort of staffer in the White House, trying to figure out whether every policy was bad, good, or indifferent. That was clearly just the wrong place for us to be.

We didn’t really sign up to be this sort of staffer in the White House, trying to figure out whether every policy was bad, good, or indifferent. That was clearly just the wrong place for us to be.

Then, for us, the question is, “How do you just get off it, and how do you do it in a way that is not disrespectful to the office of the President of the United States,” which I think matters for something.

I’m not an American citizen, but I know it matters in America. How do you do it in a way that is principled and stands for what you believe in? For us, the company, immigration is a very personal issue.

Our CTO, Thuan, was a refugee from Vietnam. He came on a boat. His family nearly died twice as they came. Our chief business officer is a Christian from Egypt whose family had to leave because they couldn’t get work. And so it’s very personal. That’s the decision we made. It’s a sensible decision to go on clearly. Last week, it was no longer sensible to be on, so we decided to come off. That’s how we did it.

JH: You had the pressure, it seems to me from three different things in that moment of crisis. You had employees, obviously, were unhappy with the fact that Travis was going into this meeting in the wake of what had happened. You had customers who were obviously unhappy and were deleting the app in large numbers.

Then of course there was obviously just the general optics of this notion of Uber as being somehow collaborationist with the Trump administration. Can you disentangle which of those mattered the most in terms of making the decision to then disengage because I do think there’s a cost to disengagement, right?

In the sense that Elon Musk, as he argued, “I’m going to stay on this, not because I agree with Donald Trump but because I want to make arguments within the room that might be influential and get him into a better place in terms of implementing policies that are more tech friendly.” So there’s a cost Travis stepping down.

Which of those things were driving the decision-making among the different pressures?

RW: I think you end up discussing lots of different things, but throughout the conversation was this issue of, given where we were, was it the right thing to be on it because we were going to be seen as endorsing every single one of the new administration’s policies. That was never the intention. That is not a tenable way to run a business.

You know, there was some other stuff. The Muslim ban that came out was absolutely at odds with our cultural values. So for us that was just a very clear decision, and then the question is how do you do it in a way that isn’t being a jerk, and that, I think, was the consistent conversation the entire time we discussed it.

JH: DJ, immigration right now has got a lot of attention on it. It seems to me that, again, as I’m trying to make this distinction between that’s an issue that has a direct effect on the tech industry but it’s not tech policy, right?

The tech policy, it seems to me, that at the very top of the list of things that people should be focused on right now is net neutrality. There was a story in The New York Times yesterday that really laid this all out.

It’s been building in people’s minds for a little while, which is that the new FCC chairman, Ajit Pai, who was on the commission before, has now been elevated to chairman. There are two open seats. Trump will fill those seats.

There will be a three to two Republican majority, and Trump throughout the campaign, people around him, everyone has made it pretty clear that they want to roll back net neutrality rules, and that has a huge effect on basically everyone who does business online.

Talk about what it’s like to see a story like that in the Times, where there is a broad sense that there’s going to be rollbacks of a lot of stuff that the Obama administration did in this area and what can be done about that if that is the way that this is going to go.

DJ: The first is the good news, is that these things actually went through a very rigorous process of public engagement and all those things. One of the last acts I did in my office was, I went to Dallas to naturalize a large number of newly minted citizens and those comments are public online.

The reason I did that is I’m an immigrant myself, and I feel very strongly about that. As you go through every one of these issues, you find that a technology and a technologist is needed at the table to think about all the policies, and so we touched everything from immigration all the way through the very technical areas of net neutrality and other areas.

In this case here, what I think is important is, and the way we started every morning at the White House was to remember that you can’t let the urgent get in the way of the important, and if we thrash from issue to issue as an industry, we’re not going to be able to focus and make sure that there’s clear progress about what’s there.

There needs to be careful thought and push from not only the lawyers but by all those that have a vested interest round net neutrality to express why this is so important and this is the case. But this true whether it’s also including healthcare.

A lot of people haven’t realized that the ability to have preexisting conditions removed has also enabled a large number of companies from Color Genomics all the way through 23andME and GRI Bio, to see a world where healthy people actually contribute data.

We have to look at all these places where technology has an impact or there’s an opportunity for technologists to build something unique as organizations and ask, “How do we make sure that our policies don’t encumber us, but also simultaneously make sure that we’re really driving forward with the perspective that is needed for those that need to build.”

JH: Fred, if you think about the things that Trump said over the course of the campaign, and again, we’re just getting into this administration, very early days in trying to figure out how some of this will translate, what was campaign rhetoric and what is going to be translated into actual policy.

He talked about closing off parts of the Internet in order to keep Jihadi propaganda off of it. He urged a boycott, at one point, of Apple products because the company refused to help the FBI unlock the iPhone associated with the San Bernardino terrorist attacks. He threatened anti-trust action against Amazon.com.

This is a guy who was, throughout the campaign, hostile towards a lot of people and flamboyantly so, but never seemed to be down with the tech sector, and has used some of his most flamboyant or some various elements of flamboyant rhetoric to be hostile and threatening towards the industries of the future.

Also seems to be focused largely in his economic policy on, and no disrespect to them, the industries of the past, trying to figure out, “How do we rebuild what used to be the backbone of the American industrial economy?”

Given that backdrop and given what’s now happening on the immigration front and some of the looming fights whether it’s over net neutrality and other things, is it overstated to say that there is a chance that, as we go forward here, that the tech industries broadly defined will become part, like an integral part of the resistance movement against Donald Trump?

Because that would be an extraordinary development in American history if that were true.

FW: I think so. I think that it’s already happening. I think that the resistance movement is headquartered here in the Bay Area as is tech. I think the most progressive parts of America are here in California and here in the Bay Area and I think that’s where we will see the resistance movement flourish the most.

I think that the people who make up the tech sector are progressives. They’re immigrants. They’re people who think about the future, not the past. Ultimately, they’re going to be very hostile to the Trump agenda.

I also want to say something about the CEOs who have chosen to get involved with Trump in an advisory way. When you lie down with a dog, you come up with fleas. If you get anywhere close to Trump, you are going to get shrapnel as Travis did.

It’s not Travis’s fault. I think he made the right decision but in the end, he felt it first. I think Elon will feel it, and I think anybody who gets close to those fuckers are going to feel it. [applause]

JH: I’ll just say that the last time that I laid down with my dog, I came up with a biscuit, but that’s….[laughter] …sort of a different dynamic between me and Fife. DJ, I want to ask you about encryption just because I mentioned it a second ago. You’re in the interesting position where you were, as a representative of the Obama administration, also, was frustrated with Apple at various times in terms of the backdoor issue…I’m not asking you to represent the DOJ’s position, but just open up that discussion a little bit because this is not a Republican-Democrat issue, and it’s not necessarily a Trump versus Obama issue.

There’s an interesting debate here on that question, but it seems clear the direction that Trump and his justice department will be much more vocal potentially on this question of back doors and dealing with encryption policy.

DJ: This is a perfect example, thank God we’re talking about this, because this is what happens when you have technologists at the table and you have the ability to actually really inform the president, and the president actually takes time to listen and learn about the issue.

You don’t end up with crazy proposals that were being discussed. We didn’t do anything crazy. Now, there was a lot of noise and a lot of thrash, absolutely, but one of the arguments that is most important is you look back at World War II is what happens in military conflicts if you don’t have strong encryption.

The US Department of Defense is the largest purchaser of any type of encryption products. We have to have that to keep the jets flying, troop movements, all of those things. It’s essential.

There is a balance there that comes from national security outside our borders, and how do you deal with issues that are crime fighting in those areas. There has to be a better forum to do that. What is not helpful is when FBI starts saying, “This is the way it shall be,” without actually sitting down with technologists and talking about it. That is that decorum that has to happen.

What I am afraid of, and I will make the prediction that by the time we get to summer, you’re going to see a lot more insanity, whether it’s the next shooting that you’re going to see, shooting by an officer against a Hispanic or a black American, just general gun violence, another type of encryption type of issue or something else that’s going to be crazy.

By the summer time, we’ll see that next level, and that crisis is one that we should all be deeply concerned about how we come out on that side of the equation.

JH: I see Rachel, she’s twitching over here which I think suggests either she’s got some of those fleas that Fred was talking about or she has something she wants to say. [laughter]

RW: I haven’t got fleas.

JH: Those are metaphorical fleas, let’s be clear.

RW: No, I’m just twitching because having lived through Snowden and having worked at tech companies for 12 years, I think there is a real fundamental tension between what the United States government wants to do and has wanted to do for the last 12 years and what other governments want to do. I think the tech companies are caught in the middle.

I think we are trusted, collectively, different companies, with huge amounts of personal information. People expect it to be encrypted, and they expect law enforcement to have to go through due process to get that information, and I do not believe that that is universally respected within government, whether it’s my own government in the UK or within parts of the US government.

They believe that they should be able to have access to that information and they should be able to have access to it in ways that are fundamentally unaccountable, and I think that is a real problem. The tech industry should rightly fight it because otherwise we don’t have businesses because no one can trust us.

I think it is particularly acute if you’re a Google or a Facebook, when you’ve actually got human rights activists using your products to do their work, and so I think that’s why you see the tech industry there, but it’s been going on for a long time now, a big concern. [applause]

FW: I think we have, as citizens, trusted these large companies to handle our secure communications. I think we will see people stop trusting them because the government will make it increasingly difficult for them to do that.

People will take encryption into their own hands, and I think the next big consumer-based tech company will be a company that makes encryption available for consumers in a way that they can understand it and use it like they can use Gmail.

RW: Isn’t that WhatsApp…I mean, that’s the sort of…

FW: I don’t trust Facebook to give me encryption, do you? You can’t trust any of these big companies.

DJ: That’s why you’re seeing Signal grow so fast. I strongly agree with this premise.

FW: It’s Signal, or it’s something else. It’s not Facebook or Google. They’re too embedded with the government. They can’t really fight the government the way…You need somebody who’s an insurgent, who’s right there with the citizens, and none of those companies are. Yours isn’t either.

JH: I came with an amazing experience in the middle of this campaign, I suddenly realized that there was this rapid migration of all my sources were suddenly on Signal. It happened in that year, almost everyone I dealt with in government, in politics, now had a Signal account. It was overnight, around the time that the Russian hacks were disclosed.

DJ: I use it.

JH: Everyone switched over…

FW: Every board that I’m on has moved their email communications to Signal. We now have board groups on Signal. We do all of our board communications there.

DJ: It’s terrible from product experience, there’s lots of room for innovation here. [laughter]

JH: The fact that people will adopt it and stick with it, even though it’s crappy as a user experience, tells you how much they want the security feature of it. Anyway, I want to get to Q&A because if we let this go on for much longer, it will be really entertaining to me but we’ll soon be getting nasty tweets from Donald Trump saying that we’re sad. [laughter] Yes, ma’am.

Audience Member: On the way to schoolwork today, my 14-year-old said, “Why doesn’t Twitter just block Trump for his lack of fairness and accuracy in reporting?” I’m just curious, from a technical, political, and, well, in a general…What might you say?

FW: I think Trump is good for Twitter. I mean, that would be like…

Audience Member: Well, is he good for discourse, is really my question.

FW: They’re a for-profit company. They have to ultimately do what’s in their best interests, as does Facebook, as does Google, as does Uber, and they should. That’s what’s their business to do. They can’t block him. He’s the best thing that ever happened to them.

Audience Member: Sure. The question is more, what would happen if they did?

RW: I might answer to my four-year-old, I’ve been asked a similar question, that the US puts a high premium on free expression, and that unfortunately when you defend free expression, you defend the right of people to say things that you may disagree with, and sometimes strongly disagree with those things, but that’s the purpose of the existence of it, and I profoundly believe that.

JH: Also, I’ll say that if you actually tried to ban everyone from Twitter who was full of shit, there would be no users on Twitter. [laughter]

FW: Wait, you’re on Twitter.

JH: There’d be like eight people…yes, including me. I’m on Twitter, too. The entire user base.

DJ: There’s a part here, though, that I think we also have to address, which is whether it is ISIS using propaganda to recruit people, or the alt-right, whether it’s within the US or external, using it to spread information.

Whether that’s Twitter, or Facebook, or LinkedIn, or whatever, we have to start asking, “What are the mechanisms when nefarious actors are using propaganda techniques against us?” That’s a broader question than, “What do you do about Trump?”

I’ve dealt with this on counter terrorism issues the same way. We go, we’re like, “Hey, gee, how are these guys getting this information to unsuspecting people who could be radicalized?” That’s a challenge that I think the tech community has to wake up to.

As myself having spent most of my time building these type of companies, I’m very concerned about how people have abused that layer of technology.

Audience Member: Thanks.

JH: Over here.

Audience Member: Hi, Fred. You mentioned anarchy before as a possible scenario we might be in, in terms of technology policy where there might be lax oversight, lax policy, in some of the emerging areas. I’m just curious what that leads to. Does it lead to tons of litigation all over the place as a substitute for clear policy?

What do you imagine happening as a result therefore if that’s not there? Is our legal system prepared for it? Are companies prepared for it? Do they have to become more prepared for more litigious kind of environment in that case? I’m just curious if we played that out, what happens?

FW: I think there are people inside the inner circle in the White House who are anarchists at their core, and I think that there’s a big part of the Trump agenda which is to blow all this stuff up. I think if they could literally get rid of the Department of Education, they would. I think if they could get rid of the Department of Energy, they would.

I think what I meant by that is just less rules, just more chaos, and I think that’s good for innovation, actually. I think stuff happens when there’s less rules. I’m not for anarchy. I’m willing to pay the tax that good regulatory oversight creates on our industry but really I actually think if that were to happen, it would be good for tech.

JH: Sir.

Audience Member: We’ve seen, I think, unprecedented amount of organizations and protests from tech workers in multiple companies, Google walkouts, Comcast. It seems that there’s a level of formal organization that’s happening that’s actually putting pressure on these companies, especially their management.

Do you think that there’s actually going to be a point which the demands being made by the workforce and the threat to walk out is going to put management in direct conflict with whatever Trump decides or the US government decides, and that you’ll actually see that become a threat that workforce uses as a formal pressure point?

JH: I think that, Rachel, on top of that question, it seems that there’s a chance that one of the tensions that you’ll see is increase in the tension between workforce and the C-suite of companies.

Where companies in the C-Suite want to basically figure out a way to go along and be not accommodationists but figure out a way to be pragmatic in working with the administration wherever it wants to go, and a lot of the workforce is maybe just much more militant about forcing, wanting more confrontation. I’m not saying that’s necessarily going to happen, but it’s not impossible.

RW: In my experience, having been through various crises of different kinds with different governments, it’s everywhere. The conflict is everywhere. If you look at Google’s decision to do what they did in China, the conflict was within employees and within the C-suite, and they were very open about that at the time. I think that people in these companies care a lot.

You have a founder-driven culture. You often have a dual class of stock which affects people’s independence, makes it much easier to be independent, and you have employees who care passionately about these issues.

It’s interesting, I’ve just started working with someone from Target who’s just become our head of ride-sharing, and he says actually, “Your tech believes that it’s unique in this regard.” He said that it was exactly the same at Target. I think that people care passionately about certain issues. They affect them.

I notice it when people are telling people I work with that they can’t marry the person they love. I find it very offensive and I get very emotional about it. So I’ve just seen it everywhere and it affect everything and I don’t necessarily think that this will change.

DJ: As long as these things stay as American values, it’s not a Trump versus something else. If people care about American values and stand up for American values, then that’s what the moral compass of every citizen is.

That’s what drives a democracy, and as companies see what their employees want, you’re seeing the democratic process of citizen activism take place, and I think that’s going to be fascinating and exciting to watch.

JH: This is our last question.

Audience Member: I’m going to continue talking about tech. It’s obviously over broad, but I think we can blame tech for the evisceration of the fourth estate, which is the media’s role in being a watchdog over government.

I think we can probably also draw a direct line between the evisceration of that fourth estate and the election of a band of people that believe in alternative facts.

The question is, what is tech going to do to get that back for us because I think without it, alternative facts and propaganda, as you rightly brought up, are going to dominate a public that is relatively easily deceived.

RW: Personally, I think the benefits of what’s happened over the last 15 to 20 years massively outweigh some of the downsides. There are real downsides, the way that terrorists use stuff, the way that people use the Internet to spread misinformation. I think it’s much easier to find real information than it was 20 years ago.

Certainly, from the country that I came from, you had a very polarized press. You had right-wing and left-wing newspapers. You pick your wand and that was the filter through which you saw the world. You didn’t hear many outside voices.

I’m not saying where we are today is perfect, but we have the tendency to think where we were 10 years ago may have been perfect. There were challenges with that.

You bought your right-wing or left-wing newspaper in the morning. That’s where you got your information from. That’s the silo you sat in. Certainly, in the country I lived in, there wasn’t much cross fertilization between the two.

JH: Go ahead, Fred.

FW: I’m just going to agree with that. I don’t think eviscerated is the right word. I think reshuffled is the right word. There is new voices. You look at something like Breitbart. You say it’s horrible, but Breitbart is something that has emerged out of tact and same with the Huffington post and other things as well out there. It’s just reshuffled the landscape.

There’s still plenty of people paying attention to what’s going on, writing about what’s going on, analyzing what’s going on. Laying the blame on the media and text and the destruction of it is a very incorrect conclusion.

DJ: I would just point out that I think it’s very easy to blame the media. There’s a whole lot else going on. We’re still sort of discovering that, whether it’s…We always talk about that co-worker. We talk about the flyover states. We make these things as glib things without actually knowing the names of these people and really spending times.

The most powerful thing that happened to me in the White House was getting to actually know the names of data points, then realizing that people are always greater than data, and understanding what their story is, how they are marginalized, and what’s happening.

I really fundamentally believe that if we start asking, “How do we find those solutions for those direct people?” we’re going to find a different way to engage.

What we haven’t done is we haven’t asked the basic questions of, “What is the relative nature of civic discourse, and how do we evaluate policy?” In most high schools, you don’t see a civics class.

When was the last time you see a utopian movie? Everything is dystopian. If you’re aliens and watched our TV and our everything else, you’d be thinking we’re constantly invaded by zombies.

There is a missing degree of hope that people see as an outlet. I think that has led to this question of, “Do you trust these other sources or are you just looking for some type of panacea that’s an easy out?”

JH: I’ll tell you as the representative of the fourth estate here. This is such a complicated topic. I agree with everything you guys just said about…It’s so much more complicated than the notion that technology has eviscerated the fourth estate. It’s a really complicated country. It’s a really complicated media ecosystem.

I will say this, that the fact that every media business that I know and certainly the one’s with great credibility have all seen a huge boon in subscriptions and interests since the election of Donald Trump as a hugely encouraging sign, the ones with real credibility.

The second thing that’s true is that just this small, little thing we joked last night. I think one of the sessions about the Bowling Green Massacre.

What has happened around that that Kellyanne Conway made the statement was called on it. Reporters did what they’re supposed to do, go back and found that she was lying about her explanation for the mistake that she made and now has been apparently…

Her credibility has been sufficiently damaged that we’re not going to see her so much on television anymore, at least for a while. That’s encouraging in and of itself, but also encouraging that the feedback loop that’s supposed to work in our media and political environment has not been totally crushed.

DonalI’m looking for small signs of life. It was a discouraging 2016, but we’re not dead yet.


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