Love it or leave it is brought to you by our presenting sponsored a single malt Scotch whisky made by the same tiny island community since 1810. Every year at the end of November, holiday lights go up and run throughout the island of Jura from the whisky distillery down its one road ending at the general store. The Jura whisky distillery contributes each year to help put the lights up for the entire holiday season and keeping this tradition alive for this tiny island community. That's very nice.
Very nice. I think that's very nice to discuss.
Personal holiday traditions, Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Xmas. Well, you see, there was only a small amount of oil and ended up lasting eight nights. And that gave that gave rise to Hanukkah. And it's not a particularly salient holiday and Jewish tradition. But, you know, Christmas got really big. It got really popular. It built up like a really big brand. It blew up. Yes. Super popular. That's right, Tommy. Yeah.
So Christmas is like here's my SoundCloud. Hanukkah. Yeah. Yeah. Hanukkah was like, well, you know, we want to get in on this. It looks like people love this Christmas thing. So, you know, Hanukkah hired sort of a brand consultant. And the next thing you know, Hanukkah crushin at the point is Jurez great.
It's a great wisky. We love it. There's a lot of things we're not going to do this holiday season. But one thing you can continue to do is have whiskey at home to make the whole experience of this winter go down real smooth, you know. Yep. Yep, that's right.
Start knocking out your holiday gift shopping. Now go to Jaroussky, dot com slash. Love it and use the code love at ten to save ten dollars from now through the end of the year. As they say in Scotland, gingiva, which is Gaelic or Gaelic or Gaelic, still not sure. And every version I say I'm told I'm wrong for. Oh no. They're trying to let Rudy talk in court.
Welcome to love it or leave it back in the closet, elect someone in the street. Of course, we should all celebrate the virus spreading much more than before and there's an opportunity to give to others because love is in the closet.
He wrote that song is by Scott Interent, and it was fantastic. If you want to make a back in the closet elect theme song, whatever that means to you, please send it to us and leave it at Crooked Dotcom. That's leave it at Crooked Dotcom. They've been amazing. We've got to find a way to share all of the back in the closet homestretch back in the closet like theme songs we have to share and people have been asking for and we've got to share for you to the show some housekeeping.
The deadline to register to vote in Georgia's runoff Senate races is on December 7th, which is why votes if America is raising money for register to vote for every two dollars raised, they'll be able to reach one new voter with the materials they need to register by first class. Expedited mail you can head over to vote Save America Dotcom's Cash Register Geia That's Vote Save America dot com register to donate. And if you want to find more ways to get involved in Georgia, you can sign up to adopt.
Georgia will be sending you remote volunteer opportunities and ways to support groups on the ground ahead of the January 5th runoff that will determine control of the Senate vote. Save America dot com. And finally, the holidays are here. You know what that means? Crooked Holiday, Merche. It's the season. We have some really great stuff from your favorite crooked pontes, including a certain garden show that somehow managed to squirrel its way into the into the merch store.
So check out some of that garden show merchandise. I don't even know how it got approved. I certainly didn't approve it.
And by popular demand, a deeply weird apron from chaos in the kitchen on Instagram where I make things while Priyanka is horrified. Lots of great stuff. There are cricket dot com slash to check it out. Later in the show, we will be joined by Eric Lander, Guy Branum and Ronan Farrow.
But first, she's a comedian, actor, filmmaker and co-host of Hysteria. Please welcome back here and deal.
Hi. Hi, John. How are you? I'm OK. You know, Trump lost. Now he's trying to unloose. Rudy Giuliani's face is melting. The coup attempt is ongoing. I'd rather our country be stronger than our villains be dumber. I think that to me is fundamentally the issue here. We are relying on the idiocy of our enemies as opposed to the power of our allies. And I think that's a troubling trend because there are smarter villains waiting in the wings.
There will be a sequel. That is what I'm at. That's where I'm at emotionally right now. I'm not letting the bastards get me down, but it's obviously deeply troubling, not because of what it means for this election, which thankfully we won decisively, but for what it means for the fact that there won't like if you only believe in democracy when you win, you don't really believe in democracy. You believe in power, and you like what democracy does for your power.
It is like an outfit for power, right. If you don't actually want to give up power when you lose, if you don't respect that as part of the game, then you don't really care about democracy. You want power in a democracy suit. You want power that's democracy shaped, but you don't want democracy. That's the real rub to me, John.
The question was, how are you?
Oh, sorry. Yeah, I see. Now I see. No, I'm OK. How are you?
It look, honestly, that was on me because quite frankly, the question should have been banned. The question should be banned from the year. It should be struck from the list of questions that you're even allowed to ask diatribes about power and supervillains and sequels. I hope Christopher Nolan is directing that sequel that's par for the pockmarked course that we are on together.
The question was, how are you? Well, I think you know what your mistake was, and I do believe it is on you, I think you're right about that. It was Masumi. You know what you've left out. I think legally during this period, you have to say, how are you? All things considered? You know, you're not allowed to just say, how are you? You go to jail for that. Right now, that's a felony.
But I think they'll let you off with a warning for the first time.
I think. Anyway, I'm OK. I'm out of the country. So they can't they can't get me. They can't get me right now. That's that's still a lot. Yeah.
You're allowed to ask it here, but but maybe you'd like to repeat just in case anyone lost the last part about the power and the suit, because I definitely lost it. It's the powers, the power suit part.
Let's get into it. What a week. So we'll start out, get back on track. We like to start off with a joke everyone's going to hate. Here it is the worst joke submitted to ever. Leave it by our writers this week.
Are you ready? Oh, I'm excited. I'm excited to hear this. In a story published in Vanity Fair, a childhood friend of Ivanka Trump said one of her earliest memories of Ivanka was when she blamed a fart on a classmate. That's real. That is from the piece supposedly. Ivanka also dismissed reports of an accident during a field trip as fake Pu's.
It felt it felt poetry slam worthy. That was, you know. Thanks. Thanks. Thanks. The setup's as punch lines is going to be a thing that we're not going to get to the same extent with the next administration. Like not we're not going to get the depth of that. I think that's right. I think with the Bidens.
Yeah, I think that's right. I think that's right. You know, there's a Norm MacDonald talks about the platonic ideal of a joke being where the setup and the punch line are the same. I don't know. Anyway, we've approached that many times. Rudy Giuliani's face melted today. Yes, I like that. That is both setup and a punch line.
And the dildoes story made me think of that to the dildo story very, you know, but you did just quote Norm MacDonald as if he was fuko. That was Sheff's kiss, I have to say.
That was doing exactly what he said. The setup was the punch line. Norm MacDonald says not a reference you hear every day in November of twenty twenty.
I'm just saying I have to say you have not once now, but twice so cleanly eviscerated me like just like just like true fatal blows.
And I just love it. It makes me really happy. They're just, just devastating hits. And just by stating the facts, the question was, how are you? You just quoted Norm MacDonald absolutely brutalizing me.
I will say the norment. The reason I remember it is Norm MacDonald is because his version of the joke and then I realized I didn't want to share the joke. The joke was. But the joke is I mean, the joke was Lyle Lovett and Julia Roberts are getting a divorce because he's Lyle Lovett and she's Julia Roberts. Like, that's the joke. And they're, you know, anyway.
Yeah, but it's not like I get it. There's there's an elegant construction. And John, we're just having fun here.
Just two friends having so much fun. We're having some friends, having fun, having so much fun, not eviscerating, not eviscerating.
I honestly, I the it's it was so I was earned with so funny. With the Thanksgiving holiday coming up, covid-19 is back on everyone's mind, but good news. Moderna announced their vaccine is ninety four point five percent effective and can be stored in common. Household refrigerators all have to move some Diet Coke around, but I don't think that's a problem. Moderna did add if you have roommates, you should label it right.
What is it coming? It what container is it coming in Moderna? I don't know. Would you go Madinah Fizer. Are you going to. Are you going Moderna. Pfizer.
I'm interested in either. I don't know which one is ultimately going to be easier to get. Obviously the Pfizer one is has to be stored at super cold temperatures. And a part of me is if you have to keep something refrigerated all the way to your arm, that seems easier to do. So I worry about getting, you know, a version of the Pfizer vaccine that's a bit like, you know, shrimp that's been in the fridge too long.
You know what I mean? Like, I want I don't want to have that fishy smell, you know, I want it to be fresh. Yeah.
You don't want to Janki Bache. You don't want to janki much of the illness.
No, I don't want one that was on somebody's radiator, you know.
And you're not afraid. Right. I just want to make sure you're not afraid of taking the vaccine. OK, me neither. I'm not afraid of taking the vaccine either. In the words of a friend of mine, I would just stick it in my neck. I need to get out of my house, stick it in my neck. I need to get out of my house, stick it in my neck.
I want out. No, I'm in on the vaccine. You know, I actually talked to Eric Lander, a scientist, about this. And the point that he made, which is a good one, is that like even if there is some tiny risk, like everything we do for safety has some small amount of risk, seatbelts occasionally hurt people. Right. Like like this things we do that make all of us safer. They make us safer in our lives.
Nothing is without a tiny element of risk. And at any point, of course, we should all take the vaccine. Yeah, a hundred percent put in my neck, as you say, I put it in your neck.
And the other thing is a friend of mine was saying a friend of mine in New York was really nervous about taking it. She goes, oh, well, what if ten years there's like crazy side effects because they developed this thing so quickly? And a scientist friend of mine pointed out to me, he was like, well, what do you think is going to be worse, the side effects of the vaccine or the side effects of covid in 10 years?
I just like pick your poison. There's plenty to be afraid of without speculating. There's enough we can see that we should be afraid. I'm not adding new hypothetical fears. I'm just not I don't have space. That was good.
That was good. I felt that was a you revisited me. That was a good that was a revisitation. So now we're two one. You got one more to go, buddy.
That was that was a good sweet of you. But this is a root. Republican Senator Chuck Grassley, who's 87 years old, has tested positive for covid-19. Grassley plans to self isolate for a couple of weeks and then either plans to spend Christmas with his family or Herman Cain.
Oh. Oh, too much, I think, maybe too. Oh, that's a lot tough. It's a lot. It's a lie. That's why I was on the board. I was on the fence about it. I was on the fence about it. We wish him a speedy recovery.
You have final cut of this show. It doesn't have to go in, you know.
But see, now the the thing is the conversation about whether or not to include it and our revulsion at having heard it is entertaining.
Right. Right. What would Norm MacDonald say about a moment like this is the real question.
I hope you're out there, Norm.
If we can consult our our guru, Mr. MacDonald.
Dr. MacDonald, Dr. Dr. MacDonald, Dolly Parton was a major investor in the research that led to the Moderna vaccine.
People underestimate Dolly Parton. But even on the vaccine, she kept the publishing rights, which I think is pretty cool.
Huge fan. Huge fan of Dolly. Huge fan of the publishing rights. Taylor has taken a lot of pages out of her, out of her work, took the words big fan of her chest, her amusement park, her business practices. Surprisingly big fan of Dolly. I know that was a joke.
And I wasn't supposed to have real opinions. No, I want the real look. I love Dolly Parton. I love Dolly Parton. Meanwhile, speaking of Taylor, bad news for Pfizer. Their research was funded by Taylor Swift, who is now just redoing the research on her own to keep the profits from going to school to run. Hmm.
Turns out it's a crazy business. It's wild is a crazy business. Yeah.
Just put the Taylor rerecordings in my neck with the vaccine. It's good.
Every time you tell me that Taylor Swift has published another box of text with regard to her masters, I am excited to read it.
There is nothing I look forward to more on Instagram than a big chunky block of Taylor Swift text relating to the fucking master recordings. It is every time it is a plus. It is so good. I love the writing. I love the tone. I love the energy. I love every aspect of it. I am so excited. It's like, honestly, Taylor Swift's Instagram of text of her rebukes to Scooter Braun having purchased her masters. That is my favorite Taylor Swift album.
You put those things together.
Those to me are my favorite performance, I think. And there are great performances. But I love those. I love those blocks of text. There's delicious every time.
Would you say that they are worth three hundred million dollars? Would you pay three hundred million dollars for them? That's the rule.
I mean, first of all. Sure, OK, you and Ronan, you and Ronan pooled cash. I'm going to set up a deal.
I'm going to set up the deal and let's get those letters Instagram. Let's get those masters in a book. In his book, Barack Obama referred to a girl he had a crush on in college as an ethereal, bisexual. Craziest part is it turned out to be the actual ghost of Virginia Woolf. That's it.
I don't know why. I don't know why. I like that. I do like that. So you got me any time you got to Virginia Woolf reference in something.
It's Virginia you just mentioned celebrities like Barack Obama and Virginia Woolf.
The alternatives here are some of the alternatives that I could have gone for ghost bisexuals. All right. Tell me what you would have. Here are some other options for Ghost. This is Furt.
Wait, this is for etherial, ethereal. No ghost, no brog for the etherial. Barack Obama referred to having a crush on an etherial bisexual. I gendered this person as a girl, but I didn't need to for the purposes of the joke so I could have said. Craziest part is it turned out to be the actual ghost of Walt Whitman.
OK, ok. Virginia was better.
Turns out to be the actual ghost of Oscar Wilde.
See, there's no I thought we were going we're going to go in different directions. Like, are you going to do Casper?
I will do. I know because I know I'm really quite limited to the first Google result for famous bisexuals in history. OK, OK. And I combed the list of famous bisexuals in history and the ones that jumped out at me in comedy terms were Virginia Woolf, Walt Whitman and Oscar Wilde. That said, you know, I felt Virginia Woolf was the was the funniest for some reason. I think we should probably move on.
What would Norm do? That's the. Oh, man. Never going to live that down. You would move on. I would probably move on, go gambling or something.
Soon to be congressman and handsome racist. Madison Kathyrn gave an interview about his effort to convert Jews to Christianity.
And I was like, so this isn't a date because Madison, he has risen. I it's OK even just to the. So this isn't a date.
I mean, I love that one. I did that. That was funny. It was funny. You're personalizing you're coming back to the self. No, I'm a fan. Oh, look, here's the thing. All right? It's vulgar if you think about it. And it's about a handsome race.
I do like the idea that, you know, so often we still associate beauty with good. And there is something about when you have someone beautiful who's bad, it's kind of a good societal example to remind us that, you know, I think it's a really good point.
On Tuesday, Twitter unveiled their new feature fleets, which are kind of like Facebook stories, which are also like Instagram stories, which are basically like Snapchat stories, which got popular five years ago because they let you look like a dog. Anyway, the American president is attempting a coup. So now it's time for a segment we call Canoe's News. This week after tweeting something that implied Biden one Trump followed up with. I won the election in all caps.
But if you have to keep reminding people you're the king, you won't be king for long. And that is either a reference to Shakespeare, a Game of Thrones or The Lion King.
And I honestly don't remember which after both of those, the sound effects should be a guillotine. A guillotine just going down. Yeah. Yeah, for sure. It'll sell both of them. That'll be.
I hope you're taking notes on that. Travis. Travis, take some fucking notes.
Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger said Lindsey Graham pressured him to toss out legitimate Biden votes in the state's recount. This is shockingly unethical. This was a private conversation. Brad may have show some respect.
It's just hard for me to laugh when I hear it. Every time I hear his name, I feel my butthole clench now. Yeah, you know, it's just automatically clenches. I'm just like because this guy is going to be he's going to sneeze in there and he's going to stay in with Mitch. It just sucks.
And in Michigan, the Wayne County Board of canvassers deadlocked on Tuesday when its Republican members refused to certify the results unless they admitted Detroit, which is both majority black and the largest city in the state. After hours of angry responses from residents, the Republicans relented in the vote to certify passed on reversing their initial votes. The Republican members of the board explained, We wanted to disenfranchise black people in defiance of both the Constitution and basic human decency. But we didn't count on anyone getting mad at us.
Then, hours after the results were certified, Trump called them and they reversed course again, now saying they no longer wanted to certify the results they had already certified. There is no legal way to do this, and the certification will stand. Also, it is worth noting that the person now in charge of this legal fight is Rudy Giuliani, which seems like a great plan just as long as he can make sure the judge isn't secretly Borat.
Do you think as fast as you talk?
I don't think I've had a thought in a really long time.
It's all just the talking now, OK, because when you even I didn't understand any of that except for Borat. But I will say I was fascinated watching your mouth move. I was like, gosh, you can talk. So it that he's like an auctioneer.
He's like an auctioneer. I know that people out there listen to these podcasts at one point to speed, one point four speed, one point six speed, some go faster. And I dare you. I dare you listeners. All right. We are pumping out fast pace. Hey, how about this? Join me as I live my life at one point, two speed.
You're not listening to John fast. You're not do not fast forwarding through any of this now. It's as fast already. I got slowed down a little for me. Got to go out of more than a Daria pace.
You know, Biden signaled this week that he does not want to spend his presidency investigating Trump. That is a job best left to the Department of Justice or, if we're lucky, a true crime podcast from the people who brought you the shrink next door.
I do love a good podcast. So, yeah, it should probably be left on them justice.
I'm very frustrated every time the language about whether or not we hold people accountable for their crimes is put in terms of we should just move forward. Like the reason you prosecute crimes is so that when we do move forward, it is in a society where people respect the rule of law like that, that the failure to hold Nixon accountable, the failure to hold Ronald Reagan accountable, the failure to hold George W. Bush accountable now now the potential failure to hold Donald Trump accountable.
This has it leaves a mark. It leaves a pattern of incentives and acceptable behavior. And each time I do think you can draw a line from our failure to hold previous presidents accountable to the fact that there is such a morass around what the law even is as it prescribes behavior by the president, him or herself. There is a whenever we have legal arguments now about what the president can or cannot do, it is always couched in this kind of mealy mouthed language about what some say, some experts say, even when there are really clear cut cases.
So if we want to live in a society in which the president is accountable to the rule of law in which corruption is not tolerated, in which our institutions can withstand the kind of pressure campaigns that. Donald Trump has ways to get the system that dis incentivize the kind of behavior we've seen over the past four years, if I want to move forward into a world like that, the only way we can do it is if we go back and make sure we understood what happened and hold the people accountable and have the fear, which is one of the one of the pieces said if the fear is that these kinds of investigations will be divisive.
Well, why don't we ask the question, what do you do if the truth is divisive? Do you ignore the truth or do you tell the truth until it stops being divisive? If you don't tell the truth because a bunch of people no longer view the truth as something nonpartisan. If you don't tell the truth because there's a whole media and propaganda apparatus that denies reality, you're surrendering to the divisiveness, you're contributing to the divisiveness. If you don't fight it by telling the truth about what Donald Trump did, you're conceding and I really hope we don't do that.
And I you know, when I interviewed Adam Schiff, we talked about this this incredible pressure that would exist to move forward. He seemed pretty committed to the fact that for the sake of moving forward, we need to make sure we understand what happened. And so I hope that that happens. But it is alarming to me, that's all.
There's three things I can say to this. No. One, I'll knock on wood. Number two, it's basically refer to my first point. And number three is, again, like, isn't this also what lawyers do?
Isn't the whole thing with lawyers? I've never heard a lawyer be like move forward. Lawyers are generally like, take your heels in to take your position. Like, don't they make three hundred dollars an hour to do that?
Isn't that kind of the vibe with the whole justice system, the only people that are in charge of telling us what the future is or whether people and psychics, everyone else is debating about the past. It's the only stuff we can debate. The president is very, very small. You can't, you know, blink and you'll miss it. Yes. And then it's the past, you know. Right.
Philosophically, we're already in the past when we're even saying that last thing.
If you're saying you know the other thing. Yeah, I do want to say this about fake news. Like it's remembering. And I think about this all the time, because even the way that this election shook out and how many people still voted for for Trump, it's like when you think about the fake news thing, it's always existed. It's always existed.
It's not a new phenomenon. It's just that this dissemination of it is new. The sources are new, like the new media aspect of it is new. But like there's always been that element that has existed and truth has always had a very subjective narrative behind it. And facts. I mean, even if you're making a documentary, whatever it is, it's always going to be to some extent a cherry picked a version of what that is. But we've taken that to the extreme now.
So the question is, can our country find a footing where we all believe the same, you know, five points of how many people voted in an election, how many people were standing outside cheering in a rally like hard numbers, can we get back to a place where we believe that collectively as a nation?
I think that's right. And I think that starts by being honest about the actual crisis. And I think when we talk about being polarized, that is deeply misleading. When we talk about living in two different realities, that's deeply misleading. When we talk about being divided, that is deeply misleading. I mean, even right now, the vast majority of the country believes Joe Biden will be the next president and states that he won the election. But a majority of Republicans don't.
In previous generations, when independents started abandoning George W. Bush because of his failures in Iraq and Katrina, independents abandoned, but so did Republicans. He actually started losing support among Republicans. That hasn't happened with Donald Trump. Richard Nixon, you know, he had popular support among Republicans. But by the time he resigns, that support has faded and Republican Party is punished by voters in the elections that follow. That didn't happen this time. We may have removed Donald Trump, but Republicans picked up seats and held the Senate.
So to me, when I see all this, what I see is we do have a cosmopolitan majority in this country that does get its news from a diverse range of sites, including progressives who, yes, get their news from left leaning publications, but also CNN and NBC and all the rest. And then you have this minority that is fully enveloped in the right wing Fox News Facebook ecosystem, and that that group of people have slowly been shifting away from us, like through plate tectonics, like slowly being pulled by propaganda and these systems.
And so we have to figure out when we say how do we make sure we share a collective set of facts? What I think is how do we stop that low information to disinformation pipeline? What do we do about this group of people that have basically inoculated themselves against reality? And how do we keep people from getting into that bubble in the first place?
Do you have solutions for that? Because I will say that, like, when I go on those Facebook rabbit holes, which I want to do, and I'll go on all different kinds of conspiracy sites, whatever you name it, I'll go.
And they are seductive. Even if I don't believe something, I can look at it and be like, this is a seductive pitch and I can see how of reasoning person could still fall down that that rabbit hole or that belief.
System is actually something I talked to Eric Lander about as well, like what are some of the potential solutions to misinformation? You know, you think about misinformation and disinformation, you think about the creators. You think about the platforms that spread it, and you think about the users. I think a lot of times we talk a lot about the creators. We talk about the platform. But we actually do need to have a conversation about why so many people are interested in this stuff, why so many people want information that makes them that confirms their biases so completely.
That doesn't challenge them. They either believe it's true and are wrong or don't care whether it's true or not or no, it's false and share it anyway, like what has happened that has allowed so many people to find that intoxicating and not want information that challenges their point of view at all. Never, never want to see it. Never want to experience that. What do we do when people have put themselves in that kind of a bubble? It's a hard problem.
It's going to be with us for indefinitely. We have you know, we're going to get rid of Donald Trump. But a big chunk of the Republican Party just rejected democracy today. So, you know where we won this election, but we're in trouble. I don't have good answers. Here, let me end with a joke.
Yeah. And finally, I was like prophetic, prophetic.
And finally, a new study found that 38 percent of Americans say they are likely to attend a large gathering this holiday season. But two, if you count the ICU.
Wow. Could have ended on the Dolly Parton thing.
Probably on a high note. We can shift those in the cut. Yeah.
Ending on the death of the country with this massive raging pandemic is let me add this so that we can stick it up or stick this in earlier if we want to end this crisis. John, I need a hug.
There we go. John, I need a hug.
And that's Quddus Carindale.
What an absolute delight it's been to see you. So good to see you. Thank you so much for doing this. Wherever you are, I hope. Where are you?
You know where auntie is? Where? No, I'm in England. That's cool. That's cool. Yeah. Well, I hope you have a very nice Thanksgiving, even though you're in a place that doesn't really market, you know. But no, it doesn't exist over there. It's not they're not there.
It's not their thing. And enjoy, enjoy Ronan Farrow's childhood home.
I like how many times you said exactly that phrase, it'll stay with me because it paints such a like.
Is this where you will be celebrating Thanksgiving? Actually, this will be good for the audience. Paint that picture for the audience because that I think will be ending on a high note, maybe some of the fixin's on the table.
It's going to be that's a thank you, Karen. It's going to be a lovely time with Ronan and Ronan's mother and Ronan's brother, Fletcher, and his sister in law, Gillian, and their two kids. And it's going to be a lovely Thanksgiving. There'll be turkey and mashed potatoes, some kind of stringbean. I assume I may make a dessert, but only if I can create content as I do it. If I can, it will be dessert both to eat, but also for the gram.
So if I can create a situation in which I can, I also have an apron, a new apron, a comedy apron. I would like to debut so I may make a dessert. So that's what we're going to do. It's going to be very lovely. I'm sad that I won't be able to see my parents who are in Florida and who were at some point considering driving up to see my sister and my brother in law and my nephew.
But because cases are so high, I don't think that they should travel, not because they couldn't do that part of it safely. But when you're driving, it's like, what if a car breaks down? What if something goes wrong? So they're not going to make it. So I'm sad about that. So happy Thanksgiving to my parents and my sister and Isaac and Bennett, but I'll be here in Connecticut making the best of it. Yeah.
Happy Happy Thanksgiving to the love. It's what are your parents names? Fran and Robert. Fran, Fran and Robert. I love Fran and Robert. I'm immediately in love with them. Happy Thanksgiving, Fran.
And what are you doing over there? What are you going to what are you going to do for Thanksgiving?
It's a lockdown here. So I'm going to do, you know, probably a lot of staring at a wall. Then I'll probably turn 90 degrees and stare at a blackout curtain that I have. That's brown. So that's a brown curtain. I'll turn again and then I'm going to look at the weird painting on the wall. This is kind of you get the mix, you get the mix of activity. It's going to be a lot of turning and staring over here.
OK, Karen, deal, everybody.
Thank you. Happy Thanksgiving, you guys. When we come back, it is time for a Thanksgiving edition of the actually spread game with Guy Branum hosting and me and Ronan once again answering Traviss questions.
Hey, don't go anywhere. There's more of love it or leave it coming up.
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Hammerback He is a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist currently working on an exposé, a deep investigation into my refusal to share the brand new PlayStation five. Please welcome back. Returning champion Ronan Farrow.
It's important stuff. Good to be here. Hi, Jonathan.
Hi. Hi. So Ronan has graciously agreed to play a Thanksgiving edition of the A Truly Spread Game. That is where Travis writes questions to try to drive a wedge inside of our relationship.
Devastating consequences every time. Thanks, Travis.
And before we get to that which we have already recorded and was honestly a nightmare, I didn't want to take a moment to talk with Ronan about a piece he published in The New Yorker. He just published an investigation into some malfeasance at the Department of Justice involving the CIA. And it involves a whistleblower and threats by Gina Haspel, the current head of the CIA. It is a fascinating story, Ronan. What exactly is the misconduct that this DOJ whistleblower brought to you to start out?
I just think it's important, even with everything going on in the world, to remember many of the most important reforms we've seen of our government over our history have been because government whistleblowers came forward and were brave and said, hey, I see something bad happening on the inside and going back to the founding fathers. It's been an enshrined principle of this country that we protect those people. There are protected ways for them to come forward. And this is an example of a veteran Department of Justice prosecutor, a former Marine who served his country for years and years and who did everything by the book, came forward with something really shocking in protected government channels to inspector generals within the government.
And what faced in retaliation for that, a really sweeping campaign trying to shut him up and eventually costing him his career in public service. This was important because of those larger reasons that we need whistleblowers and we've got to protect them. And also important because of what he uncovered. Which to your question, this is a DOJ lawyer who stumbled into what he calls a vast criminal conspiracy, secret CIA surveillance program that was classified at the highest level of secrecy the agency has that was being used to effect arrests in drug cases and domestic prosecutions.
And then in a scheme between the CIA and the FBI that those agencies were lying about to prosecutors and to judges. And that also violates really basic principles. Right? We in US courts are supposed to be transparent. We are supposed to give defense attorneys accurate access to information to let them discover the reasons why their clients were arrested. And in this case, there were some pretty crazy lies going on up to and including the FBI telling prosecutors that this information from the CIA program actually came from a bunch of investigations that were totally made up at the FBI named after the Pirates of the Caribbean movies.
So so basically, there's a highly classified CIA program for gathering information about drug running into the country. The CIA doesn't want that information to be revealed, not just in open court, because they don't even want it to be revealed in a closed setting to judges. They say to prosecutors, basically, you either can participate in this cover up of where this information comes from or you can't use the information.
Basically, the way that this is supposed to work, Jonathan, is Jonathan Doors, the Classified Information Procedures Act allows for these situations. Right? There's super national security sensitive CIA programs at work. We, the CIA, don't think that this should be discussed in open court. Judge, can you guarantee that this won't be discoverable, that the defense won't be able to get at this, that this won't happen? To be aired in open court and, you know, I talked to tons of veteran prosecutors and what they said was if a court says, sorry, we can't protect this information, then you just have to drop the charges.
That's how it's supposed to work. And in this case, you know, what intelligence officials told me was this was a super secret surveillance program, not just directed at drug runners that had national security ramifications. That was so secret, in fact, that they didn't even want to play by the rules and consult judges about this. And so there was a system of lying about this that this lawyer uncovered.
And so, I mean, this is not going after kingpins. This is about prosecuting the lowest level, lowest rung of the ladder. These are people who are desperate, taking on these jobs, of bringing the drugs into the United States. And the CIA is providing information to the Justice Department to use in these prosecutions. And a lot of these prosecutions, it seems like. Ah, well, what's happening now? Are these prosecutions going to be undone?
What happens to these cases now that it's public that the affidavits submitted by the Department of Justice are not true?
Yeah, I mean, so this has ramifications on a couple of levels. One is, as you say, for the cases themselves, I've got a bunch of defense attorneys saying, you know, this was a violation of our client's rights to a fair trial. We were lied to and looking at what their options, if any, might be. It's complicated because in these individual drug cases, these are all low level drug runners who were caught with bales of cocaine and they pled guilty.
But what's at stake here is a bigger violation of rights. Jonathan, once you start getting undisclosed and not just undisclosed, but covered up by lies information into American courts as the foundation of prosecuting and imprisoning people, that's something that frightened a lot of legal experts that I talked to. The extent and brazenness of the lies, I think, is a reflection of just how hard it is to challenge the government on this sort of thing. I mean, you've got emails from FBI agents who are sworn to tell the truth in these contexts, telling prosecutors who were saying, hey, this seems fishy.
This seems like not a guy that was nabbed on a routine Coast Guard patrol. This seems like you guys must have had precise information that you followed. And instead of saying, yeah, this came from a sensitive program, you know, that we can only talk about classified channels. They sent these elaborate cover stories saying, you know, this came from Operation Wicked, Wenche or Operation Calypso, you know, and here are the details of this fake operation, none of which existed.
They concocted a fake Mexican crime group that they were supposedly going, after all, to defraud and deceive the courts.
In the argument of this DOJ whistleblower, if you read the story like a really straight laced person who's trying to expose genuine wrongdoing through the proper channels. What did intelligence officials do when they were confronted by this? Completely by the book example of somebody using whistleblower protections to try to raise the alarm.
So this DOJ whistleblower, Mark McConnell, you know, did everything by the book. As you say, he went to an inspector general hotline. He complained in this protected way. He was interviewed by inspector general investigators. And as this is going on, the CIA gets very, very angry about this. And we document this through hundreds of pages of documents and meetings that happened. And there's a pretty extreme, first of all, cover up effort, repeated efforts to delete evidence of this wrongdoing off of government systems and off of McConnell's computer.
And so he winds up, you know, there are these very extreme, like spy thriller like scenes where he's trying to physically print and hide copies of this material because he's convinced it's going to get deleted. And indeed, deletions do happen. And, you know, he starts making these disclosures through these protected channels within the government and very quickly starts getting what numerous officials said was a campaign waged against him by the CIA. And that manifested in all sorts of ways.
He tried to stop repeated efforts to delete evidence. He, meanwhile, was getting excoriated by intelligence officials. There's a working level operative on the civilian military task force where a lot of this story plays out, who, you know, I don't name in the story for security reasons. He's an undercover CIA operative, but we're just, you know, in open workspaces. He's shouting of one of the officials who issued complaints about this. You know, that cocksucker, if he wants to fuck me in the ass without Liuba, you know, it's a crazy series of quotes.
I know this is a family establishment miftah and believe that on this fine podcast yours.
But, you know, everything is an exciting a saga that that he goes through from an outside reader's perspective, but harrowing, obviously, for his perspective as a doctor.
And what are you what are you to do? The movie rights just chill out.
And, you know, ultimately it culminates in this going all the way to the top of the intelligence community. And he and others allege Gina Haspel comes to this task force where he's working and and explicitly says, you know, there should be repercussions against this guy. And indeed. There were repercussions, you know, he was frozen out of that assignment, marched unceremoniously out of his office, you know, told to clear out his desk and then frozen out of subsequent assignments that he was lined up for.
So he is, you know, nominally on DOJ payroll, but unable to secure an assignment anywhere. And this is a guy who has been an upstanding public servant for decades. And, you know, that is a mild example, Jonathan, of what happens to officials who issue complaints. You know, we've seen across the Trump administration now people around the earlier whistle blower complaint on on Ukraine were unceremoniously removed, demoted, fired. How Trump has really lashed out in his tweets and public remarks at both people who make public disclosures of this kind and those who complain within the government.
This is an important thing that needs to be turned around if we want transparent and accountable governance.
So everybody should check out the story. It's in some magazine, New Yorkers to subscribe to journalism. So thank you, Ronan, for being here in this room. And always a pleasure to come one room over her shirt or leave it recording session.
And when we come back, we will play the game.
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And we're back. Thanksgiving, a holiday that combines two of America's favorite pastimes eating to the point of failure and telling deeply misleading stories about the past. But we thought it would be nice to bring back yet another tradition here at Love It or leave it to mark the occasion. So please welcome Ronan Farrow for another edition of the actually spread game.
I have no idea what we're doing here. And as Kumail pointed out, the first time we played sneezing is not usually a symptom of covid 19. We have not even tried to beat that name and that's how it goes. But because Ronan and I will be playing, we wanted to make sure that I was impartial. So we brought in a ringer as the host of the game. You know him. You love him. Please welcome Guy Branum.
Oh, no, no, no. You have to do before playing the Newlywed Game. You have to go. Oh, no, no, no.
Yeah, we need some kind of 70s fanfare for sure. We can put it in post.
I'm still as I'm from the. Or with The Newlywed Game, as I was when you first maybe play the new, you really get this you really seems like you should be getting the gist. I have a lot on my mind. I don't know. We get it. You're very young. You didn't waste your youth watching television. That's what I no one needs to hear running you. Don't tell me that you've lived through the past 20 to 30 years and you never saw the lady hold up the card that says in the books not know.
The lady who holds up the card that says in the book is just the one piece of Newlywed Game information that has it went into the meme zeitgeist.
OK, yeah, but look, I have been busy with important things like playing video games. That's fair. What do you think I was?
I thought he might say journalism. Oh gosh. Thank God it was going to ended up self-deprecating. I will say this. Ronan does not there's cultural gaps.
I'll just say that I don't know things. There are some gaps.
The Newlywed Game, I don't. Did you watch prices right when you were sick from home? From school? No. OK, see, this is what I'm talking about. This is what I'm talking about.
I watch Turner Classic Movies. He's like he's like, no. When I was home from school and I was sick, I watch Ingmar Bergman films like A Normal Time.
All right, guy, kick us off. I have no come back because it's true. Go ahead, guy. Here's how it works.
I will ask one of you a question about the other person who loves to write down their answer. You have to guess what they wrote down. That's a big question for running. If John Lovett could pick one side, one side dish for his Thanksgiving dinner, what would it be?
What counts as a side? See, this is what I'm talking about. This is what I'm talking about.
We would define turkey and or ham as being your main rights, depending on where you live in this great country. And then everything else would be a side other than beverages or desserts.
I'm trying to divine from the sounds of his scribbling, how long the side is.
All right. OK, all right. Rubenfeld, what's your answer? I'm going to be boring and say mashed potatoes.
You got it. Oh, got a classic, classic choice though.
Let's be clear. John has written down mashed potatoes with skin.
Well, I was giving him there's a chance for a bonus.
I submit to the court that there is no other appropriate way to eat mashed potatoes if you don't fuck yourselves and go back to the early 2000s.
OK, craftsmanship is about producing like a smooth Flosse Pormpuraaw. No, no, about.
Look at me. I love Brown on that.
The skin is where the nutrients are. I read it on the Internet.
Oh, Ronan, are you not getting enough nutrients on Thanksgiving short of niacin?
All right. Final question for Lovett. OK, put yourself in the situation. OK, Thanksgiving dinner has ended. It is dessert time. What is wrong in grabbing first?
It's actually quite technical because it depends on the sweet. I'm to just let him right. But I have I have some things I need to say to couch my answer, but I think I know what the answer should be. I know what the answer should be. What are the classic desserts in the loving household?
We were there was always a chocolate pudding pie.
There was noodle kugel that could be a side or a dessert or a solid foundation for a home. Yeah, that's true. That's true.
Yeah. You can use Google to fill in any missing bricks.
Are you ready? I'm ready. I'm going to say I want as long as it's not the kind that's too too sweet. It should be pecan pie.
Oh yeah I did. Oh pumpkin pie. It could have been. I have also scribbled out creme brulee after realizing that nobody has cranberries and sort of what we're dealing with here. But but I did say pumpkin pie. So you're kind of adjacent to the answer. I would I could have said pumpkin pie. It's it's it's more savory. You're not doing great. We're not. I think that's reasonable.
My big hope in getting to do this game with you guys is the opportunity to police your exceedingly northern pronunciation of bacon. And I just want to say you're wrong and you need to accept that you're wrong because I said pecan.
Yes, I think the is correct. Well, yeah, but he you know, he talks like a real lord.
I like look, I learned to speak, you know, where I learned to speak. We say things like Super Mario Brothers. We say pecan pie. We say Vaisse. You know, we don't say Vachss that Long Island lives in you.
All right, Travis, where's the question about my most recent New Yorker piece?
Oh, God, everybody, please check out Ronan's piece in The New Yorker. It came out just before the election. And it is about an incredible story of a whistleblower in the CIA about some illegal prosecutions of low level drug runners using CIA information that was kept secret from the court. It's a huge scandal and everybody should check it out.
Hey, guy. Yes. And that's the game.
And that's the game. Everybody I forget who won or had the most points guy. I think anyone paying attention to that, I'm going to say Ronin one. I think I did one. We think he won. I think we think he won. We come back. So I'll be gone maybe forever, maybe for good. Don't go anywhere, there's more. Love it or leave it. Coming up. Love it or leave it has brought to you by Nordstrom Rack.
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And we're back. He is a geneticist, director of the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard and host of the podcast Brave New Planet.
Please welcome Eric Lander. Eric, so good to have you here. Thank you so much.
Hey, great to be here, John. And I just want to say I love the podcast and I hope everybody checks it out. It is a fascinating look into a bunch of really big scientific questions from misinformation to climate change, but does it in a way that's unexpected and fascinating. So I really encourage everybody to check it out. That's just my plug. I'll keep plugging it. That's going to be part of it now.
No, it's it's a great plug. But, I mean, in a way, it's it's about more than science and technology. It's about like really cool new technologies that have amazing upsides. But, you know, if we don't make wise choices could really leave us a lot worse off. So, like its tagline is Utopia or dystopia, it's up to us and took me a long time to figure out why I was making this anyway.
But it was because I was missing, having like thoughtful people, passionate people, being able to argue about hard problems without yelling at each other. Norvelle They agree on the facts, they agree on the goals and they don't agree on the solutions and they're willing to engage. And I guess I haven't seen as much of that in my life over the last four years.
It's true. Just say. And so for me this was a bit of an antidote to take some of the most important kinds of things that we could be struggling with as a society, you know, in this case, coming out of science and technology. But I I think it's kind of a metaphor for a lot of other things and see if we can actually grapple with solutions. So it's a small ray of hope in my world that we can do it.
And it was fun talking to people about all these things and seeing them willing to, like, even change their minds. How's that?
Never seen it before. I've heard about it. I heard people change their minds, but I've never seen it actual. It's been done. I think it's the kind of thing where it's been done in lab tests, but it's never actually been found in the wild. Yeah. Yeah. Well, so, Eric, I wanted to start by asking you about the pandemic because, you know, as you said, the podcast talks about dystopian utopia. And it does seem as though, like we've seen both in equal measure in the past, basically week or so, we have this terrible third wave, which is an entirely preventable disaster.
But on the other hand, we've seen Pfizer announce a vaccine that's 90 percent effective. Then Moderna announces its night. They got a vaccine that's ninety four point five percent effective. And then Pfizer says, like the competitive older brother, actually ours is ninety five percent effective. Can you talk a little bit about this achievement? And I know that from your position, you've had a lot of these conversations. You've been in contact with people doing this work.
What does it say that they were able to get these two vaccines? Ready this quickly, I mean, from a scientific point of view, it's amazing, but let's just not gloss over this. You know how our heads are exploding between the two different pieces of what's going on. I mean, I would describe the scientific achievements as kind of this light at the end of the tunnel.
But it's a really long tunnel. It's really a dangerous tunnel.
We're kind of asking, how did we get in this tunnel in the first place and why are we here? And so it's like holding all of those things simultaneously in our heads because we didn't have to be here.
You and I are talking on November 19th. So yesterday the US passed a quarter of a million deaths. We had almost two thousand deaths just in the day. And the number of people who were in new cases every day is creeping up to about two hundred thousand. This is much worse than we've seen before and the vaccines are amazing achievements, but it's going to be many, many months before they're all really rolled out in full. So we have to hold these two things in our head simultaneously that we're in the midst of a terrible storm that's going to cause a lot more death and suffering.
And yet in record time, much less than a year, many different companies produced and are running clinical trials on vaccines. And you think about it, the land speed record for making a vaccine. It's been like four years.
Often it takes a lot longer than that.
And if you stop for a minute, you think about what happened scientifically that makes that possible. It's pretty cool.
The two vaccines, the one from Pfizer beyond and the one from Moderna, both use the same approach instead of the old fashioned way of making a disabled virus kill the virus and use that to immunize people or make a protein from the virus. They actually use a cool new trick.
They take a genetic instruction from the virus's genome, wrap it up in a little lipid particle and inject it into you and your cells.
Take it up and they read the instructions, the what are called RNA instructions, and they make the proteins to immunise you with. Now, why is this a big deal? Because because it's so fast. The Chinese identified a virus, sequenced it in two days, put it on the Internet. Two days later, companies here were able to design the the vaccine they would like to make. Two weeks later, they could make small quantities of it. A couple months later, they could start immunizing people.
And frankly, the slow step is waiting for enough people to get the disease in the placebo group and the vaccine group to see if you had had a big effect. It's hard to imagine that the design step can get any faster. I think the design could get under a week. You know, the other parts still have to be sped up, but it's getting done. And then, you know, I talk about the old things is old fashioned.
Those are happening, too. There are a bunch of companies that have made the inactivated viruses, a bunch of companies that make viruses that carry in DNA instructions, a bunch of companies that made proteins like everything on the menu somebody is doing and often multiple somebodies, and it's getting done and read out in ten months.
Why are we doing this for many more things?
So I think that's what people are thinking right now.
We're watching a scientific community, which I've got to say there's a lot of dysfunction that we may that we've seen with regard to the pandemic.
But scientifically, like people have come together and figured out how to do things fast without compromising safety. I'm impressed. And I just want to make sure we don't lose that because they assured me last time we need it. This is not the last pandemic. We see new outbreaks coming out of there. I mean, the rate of new outbreaks of new new viruses and things like that, it's sort of doubling every five years. And God forbid there was a bioweapon.
So this is not a one off. I mean, the last big pandemic like this was a century ago. The next one is not going to be that far off.
So you brought up this change in leadership that we're in the middle of seeing take place, even though the outgoing party is not relinquishing the baton and not everybody's with the program, right?
Yeah, exactly. But, you know, and I will only mention Trump this once and I apologize for doing it even once. But after these announcements about the vaccine came out, Trump started a conspiracy about how this was meant to hurt his re-election by not announcing it. And my honest reaction was, I'm glad that that's the conspiracy he chose because it's pro vaccine, right? It's the vaccines too good. They tried to hurt me by not releasing this.
Too good of a vaccine. What are you hoping to sell? I mean, what are you hoping to see in terms of public education? Right. Like. These vaccines are now being manufactured and hopefully, hopefully they continue to be proven safe and effective and they begin being distributed. Obviously, people are going to want it, but success is about mass adoption. Yeah. What are you hoping to see in the next few months to make sure we have as big a pool of people willing to take it as possible?
Well, look, I think the most important thing is transparency, because we've had so much distrust, so much conspiracy theory. I'm sorry. The president thought that the vaccine approval announcements were time in some political way. But, you know, it's pretty clear the companies weren't given the data until a couple of days before they announced. That's the way these trials work. They're kept secret by the data safety monitoring board, not revealed to the company. So nobody could have released it.
But at this point now, John, I think if we're going to win trust, it's got to be by transparency.
Like my fantasy is there's a Reddit AMA and everybody in the country can write in with questions and say, tell me about this vaccine. And, you know, some of the things they're going to say are, well, let's see, we tried it in.
Forty thousand people. Half of them got the vaccine and half of them got a placebo Salt-Water. And we waited a bunch of months and like one hundred and sixty people who got the placebo, they got infected and have symptoms. And like eight people who got the vaccine, that's roughly what the numbers are, got infected and and got symptoms. So it's like 20 times less. And so when people say, why is it. Ninety five percent. Well, because 20 times less people got infected so far than the people who took the placebo.
But then you got a lot of questions like, OK, but how does it do for older people?
How does it do for women as opposed to men? How does it do for people of different races, ethnicities, health complications? How long is this protection going to last?
Am I going to have to do it again? Are there short term side effects? Yeah, there are. But it sort of aches and pains and flu like symptoms that appears to mostly be might knock you out for a few days and stay home, but that seems like a small price. Are there long term? Well, we don't know yet because there hasn't been long term. I think the more we can just say this stuff is totally comprehensible to the general public in the general public or ask questions.
And when we don't know answers, we ought to say we don't know the answer yet. And here's why. Because there's no data and you make up your mind.
Would you like to take a vaccine that seems to have reduced the number of cases by 20 fold and the people who took it and seems not to so far have side effects other than aches and pains for the two days after your vaccination? Do you want to risk it otherwise? In the long run, it is going to matter that enough people take it because that's what actually cuts the spread in the end. Is that a lot of people are immune. And so the virus, when it tries to get transmitted to another person, that person's immune and it kind of exponentially dies out.
That's how epidemics end. But I think there's a lot of self-interest in this, too, because even for people who are not in the age groups where you're at much higher risk of dying, you're still in the age groups where you could be one of these long haulers who have long run symptoms, you could still spread it to your grandparents or your parents or something.
But we got to somehow rebuild trust. And there's no better place right now to rebuild trust than around the vaccine. There's a lot of credit to go around and let everybody get credit for.
So if we can't manage to do that, you know, we're really in trouble trying to take on other conspiracies and things like that, because this is one where we know a lot of stuff, we don't know everything, and we can just admit that.
Yeah, like Trump wants to take credit through operation warp speed and that's going to get a bunch of Trump people to do it. Just take the credit. Take the credit. And you're not worried at all. About six, eight months from now, anybody who had designed a vaccine is going to suddenly become zombified in some way. I mean, you know, that that every movie with a rapidly made vaccine has about a year later produced a pretty significant zombie population.
And you think the odds of that are slim?
Look, I mean, the honest answer is until you're six to eight months out, you know, you can't say things definitively.
The thing about sciences is scientists should be careful not to say what's going to happen ten years from now because, you know, you can't be absolutely certain. What you can't say is when people do things like that, there's no evidence of zombification that has been identified.
Good to know, you know, no zombies coming out of stuff like this.
But any vaccine could have a side effect in some small number of people.
There are very few truly perfect solutions in the world. But then again, seatbelts aren't perfect either.
They help you an awful lot. And occasionally, you know, you get in a car crash and. They don't help you. All sorts of safety measures that make a tremendous amount of sense could occasionally have a problem, and I think we're much better off saying that. The upsides are very clear. Serious downsides haven't been found. Certainly low probability zombies and people are grown ups.
They will make a decision. And I think when they think about infecting elderly parents or grandparents, when they think about, you know, risk of being one of the people who has really serious disease or frankly, when they just think about the fact that most covid gets passed by people who don't even know they're sick because they're not symptomatic. That's why the virus is so insidious, smarter than most viruses. It doesn't make most of the people sick who pass them on.
I think most people make the right choice, and I hope enough of them make the right choice that we don't lose a lot of lives and that we also reach the point where the virus can't spread very easily. But it's going to be trust. The biggest thing that has distinguished countries that have succeeded from countries that haven't succeeded is social cohesion. Countries with high measures of social cohesion have done much better from New Zealand to China. I think it's a great time for us to get together some social cohesion.
I don't know what far right host you'd like to get on your podcast where you can both get together and discuss.
Absolutely not. Not. I knew that. I knew not to hard pass, but. But you taught the look.
One of the one thing you also talk about on the show is one of the obstacles to social cohesion. And it's misinformation. You know, the podcast goes into deep fix. Yes, but you but you also note in the show, right, that we weren't overrun by debates this election. Actually, some of the most damaging disinformation was run of the mill, deceptively edited video. You talk about Pelosi being slowed down. The one that I think sort of strikes me as sort of where we're at is you have Joe Biden in Minnesota saying, hello, Minnesota.
They take out the word Minnesota. They put in the word Florida. And all of a sudden he doesn't know where he is. Right. This thing went really far. Donald Trump share that video. Right. That didn't require new technology. So it seems to me that when we talk about deep fakes, we're afraid of the creators, but we're really afraid of platforms and we're actually afraid of consumers. People sharing things they either know are false, don't know they're false or don't care that they're false.
Right, right. Right. Every every couple of months, Mark Zuckerberg and and and Jack go to Capitol Hill and they take their lashes and nothing really changes. What are some of the solutions that you talk about? You know, I recognize Reid Hoffman's voice in the podcast talking about the potential for fines per view. Right. That if they publish something that is, you know, that spreads like heinous, violent content or misinformation, that there's some kind of I think you talk a little bit about some of the ways out of this sort of misinformation spread.
It's worth sorting out the different ways out that people think about, because what's good is people are trying to struggle with how could we fix it? There are techno fixes and then there's like regulatory fixes and economic fixes. And let's let's hang up for a second on the technical question because because what you're talking about Nancy Pelosi or Joe Biden getting splicing in Florida instead of Minnesota to Joe Biden's remark, those are what people sometimes call cheap fakes.
And it turns out that cheap fakes rather than deep fakes work really well because like listeners are not that discriminating and platforms have no controls at all, that would stop even the most obvious cheap fakes.
But you could stop things like that if you wanted to. So, for example, let's just make this up. The Joe Biden quote, you know, hello, Minnesota. Well, that's on the web somewhere.
So when somebody uploads hello spliced Florida, if there was a five second delay that they have on television, if it's searched really quickly over the Web and it said before I'm posting this, I'm noting that the exact same hello, Minnesota thing has been spliced here into that. You could see that because it's such a cheap fake. Now, the platforms aren't doing it, but if they had a liability, they probably could do it. And if things got I don't know if the world would come crashing down if it took five minutes for your tweet to get posted because it was checked to make sure that it hadn't actually spliced in a cheap fake.
It would look at the Nancy Pelosi thing and say, wait a second, that's already there at real speed.
So I think the question about the deep fakes is that at some point I hope we're going to push platforms to do this basic, simple checking that the thing that's going up there was not some cheap fake. But I agree we're not doing that yet.
The deep fakes bother me because that becomes a cat and mouse game, given the technology where it's going to be hard to know, you know, like public comment in the podcast, we talk about the FCC got comment on net neutrality, the current administration.
Wanted to repeal this policy of Internet neutrality, and they got twenty two million comments and like 98 percent of them were just bots but creative bots that were like moving words around and all that. And shockingly, the bots were the ones who had a different opinion than the real people and carried the day.
Shocking, isn't it?
I think the first order is we ought to fix the most obvious ones.
Then we have to think about what are other measures. And so Reid Hoffman talks about, like the shooting in the mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand. And he says if your platform has videos of violence like that, shootings in that and you're posting it, there'll be a fine per view now.
I thought that was really creative.
So if it's viewed by 20 people, all right, the platform might not care about a five thousand dollar fine per view if it's viewed by five million people. Well, that's twenty five billion dollars. Maybe they care.
Basically, the platforms then say, well, you can't do that. You'll destroy the business. And then all of a sudden, like magic, they figure out they figure it out of all of a sudden these things that were impossible. They can figure out if there's money on the line. Well, exactly.
It's not impossible to do things and it's not even impossible to do things fast enough. And then you've got to create an incentive like there's some financial penalty. You know, there are other things I think about and I don't know if it's a good idea or not. We have all of these unverified identities that are on the Web spreading misinformation, bots and phony accounts and things like that. And we have this law that protects platforms from legal liability for posts.
You know, one thought is maybe at least in the United States, you get protected for legal liability if the account is a verified account. But if it's an unverified account and nobody has recourse to go against the person who posted this, maybe it's a fake porn video of somebody.
Well, then the platform gets the liability and suddenly, you know, they might care a lot about figuring that stuff out now. Now I know and you know that anonymity serves a useful purpose in society.
And how do we balance where some degree of anonymity is needed and protecting whistleblowers, other things?
So I don't know. But I think what we're trying to do with the conversation of the podcast, I think we ought to be doing on all of these problems is encouraging people to just think up solutions because some of them will stick.
And we certainly can't keep going where this much disinformation. Again, we're not having a discussion about the aftermath of the election, but where this much disinformation can be circulating. And of course, in that context, I will acknowledge that it isn't all unverified fake accounts.
We also have information spread quite effectively by accounts with verified names, but maybe we put that in another bucket in other ways. So, I mean, a real issue.
Yeah, it's tough. But I appreciate about the conversation is that I do think we especially in politics, you know, you see a lot of Democratic infighting about why did some of these moderates go down in moderate districts? Is it because left wing people talked about defund, fund the police because moderates didn't do enough? Campaigning is about a lot of recrimination. And we should have the debate about what the best way for Democrats to win. But it seems to me a lot of times what happens right now is people only debate the questions they like.
Yeah. And they only debate the people that they think will join them in the conversation. What do you do when there's this big problem of misinformation and disinformation and those people don't care about having a debate? If they wanted to have a real and sincere debate, they wouldn't be spreading misinformation. So I do appreciate that in the show, you you actually get into some of the solutions to this big kind of dark cloud that hangs over politics and all of these debates, because that is the upstream I mean, mixing clouds and streams.
But you get it. We're upstream and in the cloud.
They both have water. They both have water. They both have water. All right. Well, you know, you're yeah, I've I've humiliated myself in front of one of the most cited scientists. It's a huge, embarrassing moment.
But we're moving on one. You know, one thing you talk about in the show, too, I just want to touch on this briefly misinformation in the role it plays in climate. But you focused on on geoengineering. Yeah. And you talk to about a few specific ways in which we could fight climate change through geoengineering. Can you just say what some of the options are?
And then I want to I want to pick one to do OK rather than take on climate change in it's straight science. And I hope we can come back to it because I think the real answer lies in taking on climate change directly.
But I thought an interesting way into it was a debate that's going on amongst at least some people in science about, well, if the earth is getting warmer and the earth is getting warmer and it's because we've got carbon dioxide holding it in heat, why don't we just reflect some heat back out into space by putting up little sulfur dioxide particles?
So you just go around in planes and you spray sulfur dioxide particles or other kind of particles and they're like tiny little mirrors, and though they could bounce back one percent of the sun's rays and and cool off the earth, and it sounds so seductive and tempting.
It's great. And I'm in. And of course you are. How could you not? Because you know what? It costs about two billion bucks a year, which is a steal for the whole earth.
Right. For that kind of money, you can get a plane that doesn't fly from the Pentagon. Let's do it. I'm in. I'm in.
OK, but then the problem is. And so so there's a wonderful, really smart physicist at Harvard who's proposing this, and he has a very good friend, the professor at Oxford, who says you are barking mad. I think it's howlingly barking mad, is what he says.
The problems, of course, are once you put the particles up, you can't control where they go.
So maybe they accumulate in some places and not in other places. There's good evidence to think that might be and it might change temperatures in different parts of the world. It'll change rainfall in different parts of the world. Who knows, might cause hurricanes. Who's got the insurance policy for that liability? That's interesting. And then he raises questions like and, you know, if we start relying on those sulfur particles up there because it's sort of holding off the climate change temporarily, we kind of get addicted.
And he calls it like the sword of Damocles, that it's hanging over you, because if you ever stop for two or four or five years, because, God forbid, there's a war or pandemic, let's say, then suddenly you get hit with all the accumulated climate change.
So it would only make sense to use if you were really confident you are on a path to zero emissions, but maybe you're not confident about that.
And then I don't know if we're not confident about that.
But then finally, is it the case that if we had a solution like that, people who were opposed to taking action on climate change would use it to kind of say there's no need to proceed right now?
And so I ask the proponents of this, are you concerned that your proposed solution here is actually going to get used by climate change deniers or people who don't want to see climate change action? And he says, I am absolutely certain it's going to get used that way, but I think we need it because, et cetera. And his friend thinks he's crazy. And I also introduce Marcia McNutt, the president, National Academy, and Varshney Prokosch, the director of the Sunrise Movement.
And I don't know where to come down on these things. I think Varshney says something very wise in this discussion, which is if the problem is carbon dioxide emissions, how about we just solve the carbon dioxide emissions? Wouldn't that be the issue? And of course, this other discussion is still alive discussion. But I think it's important to grapple with stuff like this. And can we actually find a better way to grapple with the real problem of reducing carbon dioxide emissions?
Because, you know, as we go into a new administration, I worry a lot that we might not get any consensus to make progress. And, you know, I listen to the debates, such as they were discussing climate change.
I think we have to find some new ways to describe this, because the idea that addressing climate change is going to wreck the economy or going to be impossible, I think everybody really deep down knows there's like one solution.
We figure out how to make renewable energy that's cheaper than fossil fuels and that's it.
Science and technology question. I mean, everything else is a temporizing measure, right?
If we can actually make renewables cheaper than fossil fuels, then the market will do the rest because it becomes the economic solution. And so, really, in the end, the only way out is innovation. And we've done this before.
So like I always point to, why do we have like a semiconductor industry in computers? That stuff used to be ridiculously expensive. And the US Department of Defense pumped tons of money into buying semiconductors when they were unbelievably expensive to create a market for it. They created incentives and then that gave rise to the US being like the economic leader.
I don't know why we're not thinking about it this way, because I would think if one is a pretty extreme free marketeer or not, you would say we do want to be in that position and government has done this before and why don't we just get our incentives straight? We got them backwards now, get them straightened out. We've seen it's working. Solar energy's gotten a lot cheaper. Let's finish the job.
And so I don't hear any of that. I listened for that and needed you know, nobody's really saying it's the way out. And I don't want to be Pollyanna here either, but I do think there are solutions and we got to somehow find language that is going to be understandable by people on all sides. But this is just the optimist in me. I can, you know, get me on a given day. And I'm as pessimistic as you are, John.
Yeah, but right now I'm just feeling like why not try to push one option that's hinted at in the podcast, which I think is worth considering, is if we can get some of these island nations that are threatened by climate change, you know, Kiribati, Vanuatu, we can get those islands together and have them basically say we're putting the sulphur dioxide up there, whether you like it or not, and we're going to do it every year until you Cheyennes economies solve this problem.
You let us know we're going to take care of this because we have to survive. We need somebody to just decide because right now, right. According to Lasley, there's nothing to stop any country right now on Earth from deciding they're going to sell climate change for the rest of us.
Yeah, although as Marcia McNutt, the president of the National Academy, points out, they could do that for a couple billion bucks and it's very affordable. Somebody could shoot those planes down. And even worse, she notes, you can put up gases that accelerate climate change. So if Russia wants to keep the Arctic melting so that you. I'm not saying they do.
You know, I'm not one to cast any aspersions on Russia. But if they wanted to have the Arctic open for navigation, there's some gases that would counteract this stuff. So, sadly, John, it might require international cooperation. All right.
Well, you know, you tried to tell you took us to a utopian place. I brought us back to a dystopian place. Then you brought us back. I think that's probably where we should leave.
So you got the point, Eric. That's exactly right. Eric Lander, thank you so much. This was a great conversation. The podcast is Brave New Planet. Everybody should check it out. Thank you so much. When we come back, let's end on a high note.
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Here it is, the Heino.
I love it. This is Hannah from Maryland. And something that gave me hope this week is that when I was having a very bad day earlier this week, a bunch of other organizers who I only knew from Twitter were so quick to jump in and offer a shoulder to cry on some good advice and pictures of their pets. It was just a really nice and needed reminder that there are some really amazing people who are doing this work with me. There is so good and kindness in the world and that it goes a long way.
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I love it. This is Carla from Billericay, Georgia. I live in a tiny little town in West Georgia. I'm a little blue dot in a big red county. I'm still very happy that Joe Biden is going to be our next president is giving me a warm, fuzzy feeling that I carry with me every night when I go to work at our local hospital where we are overwhelmed with covid patients. So it's a bright, shining hope. Things are soon going to be better.
And I'm so looking forward to walking in the center with my friends again. Thanks for everything, you guys. You have a good night.
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And I get to share my joy with a bunch of seventh graders and they tell me that I'm like their favorite teacher. And I get to listen to them share how excited they are every day to see me in the morning. So and of being a blessing in disguise. Thank you for everything that you do, because listening to Loverly that on the weekends is my little pocket of joy. So thank you for everything that you do. I hope you have a great rest your week.
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