Maureen Dowd on Trump, fake news and #metoo | ANTIDOTE 2018

>>Hello, and welcome. My name is Julia Baird and this of course is the
legendary Maureen Dowd. Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist
for the New York Times. [ Applause ] She’s been known
as the protagonist for the American
people, the antagonist of American presidents. George W called her “the cobra.” Obama, she will tell you what
Obama called her to her face. And Donald Trump has called her “a wacky dope,” amongst
other things. [Laughter] Now I like to
think of her in the same way that her publisher,
Arthur Sulzberger did when Donald Trump came
to the New York Times. In an attempt to seek support. And he walked out of the
room very genial in saying that we’ve made this
contact now. Just give me a call if you want
to talk to me about something. Just everyone, you can
just give me a call. The only person who can’t
give me a call is Maureen. [Laughter] Because
she’s so tough on me. And the publisher turned to
him and said, “With Maureen, what we always say is
it’s not your fault, it’s just your turn.” [Laughter] She’s also a lot
of fun and a great friend. And when I went to interview
her years ago now, in 2005. I was working on a paper
about U.S. columnists when I was a Fellow in Boston. And three years later, sorry. Three days later, after
going to try to go to Washington to interview her. We were like getting kicked
off blackjack tables in Vegas. [Laughter] That’s
what it was like. And I want to start off first
of all by talking about one of the weirdest adventures
that we’ve had recently. Which I think is a kind of an
insight into, into, into you and your kind of journalism. Which is, in a roundabout way. Which is that on New Year’s Eve,
we went to the opera together. And we went to– which
was incredibly beautiful. And it was really cold. I think it was snowing. And there was a black
tie dinner on afterwards. And we were sitting
there and very merrily, and then suddenly the head of
the Metropolitan Opera came up to us and said, “Maureen,
I am so sorry to do this. But the Clinton’s are here. And they want you to move
you from your table,” because we were sitting
right next to them. So they got Maureen. So there’s a round table here. And Maureen’s back was to them. So they got, they walked her– well, they didn’t
walk her around. She was able to make her
own way around the table. And then come over
and sit next to me. So we were now just staring
straight at them instead. And there was a security
detail that was kind of placed right behind us. And I knew she’d been
reporting on, you know, three American dynasties for– and, and that, the Clintons
particularly, for 25 years. And in a very open
interrogative fashion. But that to me seemed to
be an extraordinary moment.>>This was the proudest
moment of my career. [Laughter] Because the
Secret Service agent was sent over to guard my ass, or
“ahss,” as you say here. And my “ahss” became a
national security threat. And that was great. Just to, to interrupt
myself for a minute. I just want to say this is
so [laughs] cool and scary. [Laughter] And you know I
tried to move here right after college, and
then I thought, “Oh, gosh, what would I do?” And now I realise I could have
just made my career torturing Prime Ministers instead
of Presidents. But– . [ Applause ] But back to the Clintons. The funny thing was I was
thinking about this last night. And I realised that the
opera that we saw was Tosca. And since we’re in the Opera
House, you guys will get this. And Tosca’s now known
as the #MeToo opera. Because you know,
it’s about a guy who violently forces
himself on a woman. And then she jumps out a
balcony and you know, it’s, it’s about you know
sort of sexual abuse. And it was just weird watching
Bill Clinton watching that. [Laughter] Very operatic.>>But he got caught quite
flat-footed in this recent way, discussions about #MeToo. What would have happened to him, his presidency, were
it post-#MeToo?>>Yeah, well, you know, he
has been, there’s been a lot of revisionism about that now. And that’s why the
Clintons stopped speaking to me 20 years ago. Because I said, you know,
it was an abuse of power. He was in par– parentis loc– . How do you say? Locus?>>In loco parentis.>>Yeah. Because he was
the father of the country, but also Monica Lewinsky’s boss. And also if Hillary wanted to be
a feminist icon, she shouldn’t, you know, be directing these
smear campaigns against women. Who were truthfully saying they
had slept with her husband. You know, she should not be
actively involved in that. Or what Betsy Wright
called “bimbo eruptions.” And they would smear them as
trailer trash or stalkers.>>And he said he still doesn’t, he still doesn’t
need to give a– .>>Well then he gave,
you know, he did a book with Robert Patterson,
a kind of thriller. And they were on book tour. And, and someone on MSNBC or
CNN began to press him on this. And he seemed really shocked. And I just think that Hillary
and the feminists had spent so many decades kind
of enabling him. And he was able to hide behind
their skirts on this issue. And what I didn’t like about it. It was kind of a
gun-to-your-head approach. Where Bill and Hillary
would say, “You can have our amazing
progressive policies on women, but in return this
handful of women have to be collateral damage. You have to let us smear them so
that they won’t get in our way.” You know, it was kind of
like conflating the fate of the Clintons with the
fate of the Republic. And that’s what bothered
me about that.>>I want to come back to
the whole question of #MeToo. Because you’ve done some
really important reporting around that as well. And a lot of it’s come
from the New York Times. But let’s just come to
the present day and in, in particular what’s happened
over the past few days. With the grieving
for John McCain, and in particular the funeral. So Donald Trump is
on the golf course. But we have two former
presidents there. And so much excitement. I mean, I think two things. Firstly a discussion
about American identity and what it meant to lose
someone like John McCain. And secondly, to even have
a moment when W passes a, a mint or a piece of
candy to Michelle Obama. And people get so
excited about it. Because it’s like a
moment of rapprochement. What do you, how do you view
this kind of spectacle of grief and nostalgia that
we’re seeing now?>>You know, as a political
journalist, I often get asked, you know, who, which politicians
do you really like or love? And or hate? And I always try to tell
people that those are not, those are emotions I save for
boyfriends, not politicians. I don’t really want to
have dinner with them. I don’t want to, you know,
pal around with them. And so, but the closest that
I would say, you know, of, of sort of being friendly
with someone or kind of admiring them was when I got
to know John McCain in the ’80s. And at that point he would joke
that journalists were his base. Because he was feuding with
the Republican leadership, Mitch McConnell hated him. And he was, wouldn’t
talk to them. He would just talk to us. And he was really fun. Like, you know, I think
he pictured himself as a pirate and you know. He, going out to dinner with
him was so much fun because he, I remember this one night. We were having dinner,
and he turned to me. He goes, “Do you think I
should get a neck job?” [Laughs] He goes, “But I’d
be out of work for too long.” I mean, no other senator in the
history of Washington would talk to you about getting
work done, you know? And he was, he was fun. But then, you know,
as time went on. He got you know, he
wouldn’t be so idealistic. He got a little more
obstructionist when President Obama came
in after Obama beat him. And he, you know, he
created Sarah Palin, which created the Tea Party. And then he had to kind
of pander to the Tea Party to keep his seat in Arizona. So he was sort of a, you know, a
different guy as he went along. But his funeral was so amazing
because it was like a tableau of vivant, of this
nostalgia for bipartisanship. And a time when the
norms mattered. And, and President Obama and W. And Meghan McCain all made these
veiled speeches, trashing Trump for politics that
are petty and ugly. But– .>>Can I just say I didn’t
know what Meghan McCain said. It, “The America of John McCain
is generous and welcoming. She’s resourceful,
confident, secure. She meets her responsibility. She speaks quietly
because she’s strong.”>>Yeah, it was, it’s
a beautiful thought and we are having
hideous identity crisis. But the thing is it’s
also a little bit– what would the word be? Kind of disingenuous because– . A lot of politicians. For instance, a lot of Republicans have used
racist ploys in the past. Trump, that is not a
new thing to Trump. But the Republicans like
their racism more subtle. And they have supported
cruel pol– policies. But they like that cruelty
to be delivered in a more, in a way that respects
the norms, norms. So you know some of the
Trump stuff is, I mean, it’s way out there
and it’s embarrassing. And crazy. But on the other hand, you know, it isn’t like we
had this amazing, perfect political system where everyone was
great to each other. I mean, in fact, it was
interesting that he, that McCain chose W
to give the eulogy. Because the most hurt
John McCain ever was, was in the South
Carolina primary in 2000 when he was running against W. And he had done really
well in New Hampshire. So then W was under pressure to
have the firewall in the South. So the Bush campaign you
know, and, rather supporters, launched this really bad
smear campaign against McCain. Which he, just knocked
him on his heels. It was, you know, he
has an adopted daughter, Bridget, from Bangladesh. And in the smear campaign
he had had a black child out of wedlock. And Cindy McCain
was a drug addict. And McCain was gay, and just all of these things they
hit him with. And he sort of never,
you know, got over that. He never got his footing back. And so you know, these, these ugly strains have
been used by other people. But in the case of the
Bush’s, they had a middleman. So what Trump has done
is cut out the middleman. [Laughter]>>And what people seem to
be particularly nostalgic for already is, is
Oba– President Obama. He is seen as the
hallmark of decency. Of integrity. Of deliberation, a
positive for some. A negative for others. Can you tell us what you
thought of his presidency? How much those characteristics
mattered? And I’d also be, I
want you to tell him, to tell us about your
encounter with him when he gave you some
constructive feedback [Laughter]>>Well, David Axelrod has, who you know was
Obama’s top strategist. Has this theory the
like a romance, people always want the
opposite with a president. So with W, they had–
like with Clinton, they had kind of loosey-goosey. So then they wanted like
straight, black and white, with W. And then they
got tired of that because of the Iraq wars. So then they wanted cerebral and
nuanced and greys with Obama. And then they got tired of that. And so then they wanted, you
know, black and white again with Trump And you know,
I think there’s something to that theory. But my, [chuckles] encounter
with President Obama. You know, I think I was one
of the first people to suggest to Rahm Emanuel that Obama
would make a great candidate. I mean, he, he just
has many, many gifts. And so I was covering him almost
exclusively in 2006 and 2007. And we were on the
road together. And at one point, he
went to Europe to try and get some foreign
policy experience. And we were flying
between Paris and Berlin. And they decided to give us
all 15-minute interviews. So the Washington
Post guy went up. And Time Magazine went up. And then it was my
turn, and I went up. And I was really excited. And he, and I, he
said to his aides, “Can Maureen and I be alone?” Like, he dismissed
all his aides. And I thought, “Oh, my god. He’s going to give me some
amazing scoop, you know. I’m going to be the
new Scotty Reston. It’s going to be so great.” And he looked at
me, and he goes, “You are really irritating.” [ Laughter ] And I was so devastated. Because this cool
future, you know, Commander in Chief was you
know already done with me. So then he looked at
me and repeated it. “Like you are really,
really irritating.” So I, it turned out
that you know I’d been, my coverage of him
had been very gushing. But I teased him a little
because when he went into working-class states like
Pennsylvania and Ohio, you know, he would order a beer. But then he’d, wouldn’t
really want to drink it. So he’d pass it off
to his bodyman. And then he would like
order a cheesesteak which is a tradition
in American politics. But then he wasn’t
going to touch that because he was very
concerned about his weight. Like, literally, his
wedding ring was falling off. He was like one of
these actresses who considers an altoid
a three-course meal. [Laughter] But he
looked great, you know. So anyway. I would tweak him a
little about that. That he was a little
finicky about food and stuff. And he told me, you
know, that, he goes, “You set this [inaudible]
and I don’t like this [inaudible]
you’re setting about me.” Because he, he felt he
wasn’t coming across as cool. He was coming across
as, you know, finicky. And that he liked
things like arugula which Julia says is rocket here. [Laughter] And, and I was
kind of like, “But you do!” You know? [Laughter]
You do like that. But, yeah, but we, you know, then our relationship was
never really very good. And, and but the
columnists would go for off-the-record
briefings at the White House. So I went once and he
leant over Paul Krugman who was between us and said. “I want to thank you
for giving me– .” I had given him, during the
campaign, a DVD of Mad Men. Which was new then. And he said, “I really loved it because the Elizabeth
Moss character reminded me of my grandmother. Who was one of the
first businesswomen, a banker, in Hawaii.” And you know, it was
interesting for him to see that. And then, this great
thing happened. Paul Krugman spilled his whole
salad in the President’s lap. [Laughter] And for
that one moment, I wasn’t the least
popular columnist. [ Laughter ]>>Well, let’s talk
about Donald Trump, the short-fingered vulgarian. Who as you pointed out, likes
to start sentences with, “The beauty of me
is,” which I love. [Laughter] You’ve likened
him to, “a mobster living in an alternative,
dark universe.” And you also have talked
about this thing of his. Your term for it is
“ego arithmetic.” Which I think has been
consistent through his life. And when I was at the New
York Times editorial meeting with you. When he came in and
everyone was quite surprised that he would be
coming in at all. And seeking endorsement
from a newspaper that he had so consistently trashed. And would again the minute
he came out the door. And what he handed out to everyone there was
just a thick wad of papers. With a series of like
unexplained numbers on it. That was all supposed to be his
interpretation of the polls. Cut and pasted in this almost
bizarrely amateurish way. So tell us about
this ego arithmetic. And how, what, how that works
for him psychologically.>>Well, first of all, Trump
is a narcissist, right? He’s a malignant narcissist. So we are the mirror. So his most intense relationship
is not with Melania. Obviously. It’s with the press. Tortured, intense,
passionate, you know? And he, I got to know
him when he was sort of [inaudible] around New York. He was almost like a cardboard
cutout who would just be taken around to different parties. And he didn’t drink. So you know, he would just
be there holding court at different parties
in New York. And he was a very flashy
businessman about town. So I would interview him. Funnily enough, the first time
I interviewed him was in 1987. And I called him because
Mikhail Gorbachev was on his first visit to America. And he was meeting
with the Soviets. And I asked him what he
thought, you know, would happen. And he goes, “Well you can’t
trust the Russians, you know? We have to be really careful. We don’t want to make
a deal with them. They’re like totally
untrustworthy.” And then I called
him after he met with Gorbachev and the Russians. And, and I said,
“How did it go?” And he goes, “They’re fantastic. They want me to build a
Trump Tower in Moscow.” [Laughter] And, you know, “I
love them, they’re great.” So that’s when I realised like basically one
compliment, and he’s yours. [Laughter]>>And when, and when you asked
him about becoming president?>>Yeah, so then I would
do these lightning rounds with him sometimes because he
has a very short attention span, as you might have noticed. They actually have to write his
name in briefings when he goes to foreign countries
to keep him reading from one graph to the next. [Laughter] They’ll say, “Donald
Trump,” you know, every graph. So. [Laughter] True story. So he, he dipped his
toe in the water in ’99. And he, I went with him
on his plane with Melania who he was dating then,
to Miami where he talked to a bunch of Cuban Americans. And the minute he saw
a Trump 2000 sign, he kind of skittered away. He was liek scared of
the whole enterprise. And we went in his
plane, which was all gold and had a double bed and
French Impressionist paintings which he said were real. But of course couldn’t
have been. And junk food. And, and I said to him, “What on earth makes you think
you could be president?” And he goes, he looked
at me like really hurt. And he goes, “I get the
biggest ratings on Larry King.” And then he was trying to think
of other number-related things. And he goes, “Melania’s been
a lot of magazine covers. And a lot of men hit on Melania. And my name is in the General
Motors Building five times.” He even, you know, has a
fake floor in Trump Tower to just have more floors. A floor that doesn’t exist. So, you know, so it
sounds like it’s higher. So obviously, and, and you
know the first thing he did when he was inaugurated
was to get into this total conniption fit because the U.S. Park
Service tweeted out a picture that made his crowd not
look as big as Obama’s. And he just went crazy and,
and now he has pictures all over the White House of his crowd looking
bigger than Obama’s. So but this has not changed. It’s intensified. As one of his biographers
said, “He’s getting distilled down to his essence,”
which is a scary thought. But he always used
that ego arithmetic. He always gauged the value
of everything by numbers.>>And now he’s just
discovered that the, the– a different kind of arithmetic. The Google algorithm
doesn’t work so well for him.>>Oh, this is so funny. So Trump does– even
though he’s the first, like, President who kind
of got elected and makes policy on Twitter. He does not really know
how to get on computers. And you know Mark
Cuban said that he, if he sends them an email, Trump will have his
assistant print out the email. And then Trump will get his
trusty black felt marker and write on it. And mail it, you
know, to Mark Cuban. He used to do that to #MeToo. But it’s funny, he hasn’t
evolved as far as computers. And he calls the
iPad, “the flat one.” Like bring me the flat one. [Laughter] And he, so early on in the
White House, his press team. The usual thing during
the campaign, he’d have Hope Hicks print out
30 of the top stories about him. And he would read the printouts. He wouldn’t be reading
it on the computer. And so early on, the White
House staff began to get upset because when they gave
him the printouts, most of them were negative. And Trump would get really
in a grumpy mood all day. So they began scouring
for some positive thing. No matter how weird the outlet. And also soliciting from
friendly outlets, you know, positive stories so they would
have, be able to have some in this pile they
would give him. So the other day, I guess
someone taught him how to Google. And he’s on Google. And with horror, he realises that nobody likes him
[laughter] around the world. I mean, he’s getting
this unfiltered stuff. So he starts tweeting about
how horrible Google is. And then he, Larry Kudlow, his economic advisor
announces they’re going to have a big investigation into
Google and Facebook and Twitter. And Stephen Bannon
wants them nationalised and wants all their data. And all because he
just looked on Google and realised, hey, you know. He’s not Mr. Popularity. [Laughter]>>Speaking of investigations. Can you answer this question
which has been circu– orbiting Twitter for months now. Which is does Melania
have a body double?>>Okay, this hasn’t
been revealed yet, so don’t tell anybody. [Laughter] It’s just between us. Yes. She has many body doubles. Actually no, but. I do love– this is a
big thing on Twitter now where they’re analysing. You know, she got on a plane
the other day, and then got off. And in the picture,
her hair looks darker, and her face looks fatter. And so everyone’s analysing
like is it the same woman? But I do love the image of
Melania kind of in a sable coat in her room at the White House,
reading Vogue or something. While she sends out,
you know, body doubles. But then the body
doubles don’t really work because they flick the
President’s hand away. [Laughter] But the funny
thing about Melania is that you know I’ve called
her, “The Slovenian Sphinx.” And we, because she
rarely talks. We’re all trying to
figure out, and you know, the liberals have turned her
into this liberal fantasy. They were thinking that she
was going to go in disguise to the pussy hat
inauguration march. And they think maybe that
this Democratic billionaire, Tom Steyer, could
pay her the money that she would have
gotten in the pre-nup. And then she could come
out and trash Trump. But I really, I think
that’s a fantasy. I don’t think she
really will trash Trump. She may leave him. But I’m not sure she would
publicly hold a press conference to say how awful he is. But so anyway, we analyse her. But she is a great
troll because A, she made her project
cyber bullying. And every time she gives a
speech about it, like last week, Trump is spewing all
this ugliness on Twitter. Being a cyber bully. So that has to be a troll. And then she like after
the Access Hollywood things where Trump was grabbing
women’s pussies, she wore a pussy-bow blouse, as they’re called,
to the first debate. And then she wore the jacket that said I don’t
care, which was weird. Because then we thought she
was trolling her husband. But with that jacket to the
border, you know, to visit kids in Texas when they were
separating families. With that jacket,
we weren’t sure was that trolling the press? So we don’t know. She may be trolling both. But she is a master troll. [Laughter]>>Now were Trump to
be Googling himself? Or having someone Google himself
on his flat thing on his behalf? He, the words that
would be coming up often would be
impeachment, indictment, you know, [inaudible]. There, there’s a list
of misdemeanours. We’re not sure what it
will actually result in. How consequential will they be? Is he in serious danger? He or his son in serious
danger of impeachment?>>Yeah, he just was
tweeting about that. I always forget if it’s
morning or night there. But he was tweeting about that
just as I was leaving the hotel. No collusion. But at least he’s learnt
to spell collusion. [Laughter] So we’re
making headway there. [Laughter]. My former assistant, Ashley Parker is a wonderful
Washington Post White House reporter. And she has a story in this week that says he’s getting
increasingly nervous about impeachment and has taken
to calling it, “the I word.” And because of all
the felonious activity around him with people flipping. And now it’s like a movie. Now his accountant
has kind of flipped. And gotten immunity. And as you know from movies,
whether it’s Mel Gibson and Joe Pesci in Lethal Weapon. Or The Untouchables
when the accountant gets in the [inaudible]
the accountant gets in the middle of it. Something bad is
going to happen. [Laughter] And I’m sure
Trump is nervous about this, this accountant was his dad’s
accountant and his accountant. He knows where all
the bodies are buried. He’s come up with
the fake companies to pay off the Playboy model
and the, and the porn star. I can’t believe I’m saying that about an American
President, but yeah. [Laughter] Yeah.>>The, the risk of impeachment?>>Oh, yeah. So because of all the
felonious activities around him, obviously the noose
is tightening. And it makes impeachment
more likely because if it will help the
Democrats, the blue wave, in the midterms, and then if they take back
control of the Congress. I think it will probably
be irresistible for the Democrats
to impeach him. Even though they know that when
the Republicans impeached Bill Clinton, it backfired on them. Because after that, Bill Clinton
was more popular than ever. And they began using sears. So they know that, but
I just don’t, you know, they’re like lemmings. They’re just going to
go for that impeachment. They don’t care. And but then, probably the
Senate will still be Republican, so Trump wouldn’t be
removed from office. And Mueller is a very, you know, it’s a fascinating cultural
collision with Mueller. Because he is straight
arrow Marine, Boy Scout. He’s so straight that he
only wears white shirts. He doesn’t even wear blue. Like that would be
too daring for him. So he calls the Justice
Department “mother justice.” And he does abides by, he,
he’s like a rule-abider. I don’t know why the Republicans
don’t just drop Trump and run Mueller, you know? But so he is abiding. And the policy as
it stands now is that a sitting president
couldn’t be indicted. And everyone seems to think
that Mueller will abide by that. So he will deliver
a harsh report. Trump won’t be indicted. The Democrats will
probably win the House, and they won’t be able
to resist impeaching him. And the I-word will get, make
him increasingly anxious. And you know, it’s
hard for me to believe that I would have
covered three impeachments of U.S. Presidents
in one career. It’s crazy.>>Okay, we spoke about
“the beauty of me.” I want to talk about the
beauty of #MeToo movement for a while as, as well. And just because the
New York Times has done such significant
reporting on this. As the Pulitzers would attest. Now, and, and you reported
on a story about Uma Thurman. She indicated in the
middle of it, when, when all those initial
stories were breaking that she was angry. That she wanted to contain her
anger and when she was ready, she was going to speak. And you contacted
her, and she decided that she would speak to you. Not just about Harvey Weinstein,
but about her relationship with Quentin Tarantino. And you went to see
her after her play. And she said she had
obtained this footage and you had the flu. I’m laughing because– .>>Well this is where Julia
saved the whole story. Because after my ass became
a national security threat, we went to a play. We went to Uma’s
play on Broadway. And just that day, I got this
really bad case of the flu. And so I had requested, I don’t
know her, I just had asked her if she wanted to
do an interview. Because she had indicated
she had something to say about #MeToo. And she said, “Yes,
why don’t you and Julia come backstage
after the show?” And we went backstage. But and she kept saying,
“I have this footage. I’ve spent 15 years getting
it out of Quentin Tarantino. And you know, I think
he tried to kill me.” And so it’s the best
story of all time, right? And but I had the flu. So I was like, “I
have to go now.” And Julia’s like,
“Let’s see the footage!” [Laughter] And– .>>I was dying.>>Yeah, and any, she, she said
this story was burning a hole in her, but she very
graciously waited till she got, till I got over the flu and
was able to interview her.>>Emma was like, “I suppose
you want to tell my story. You’re writing a story.” Maureen’s like, “No, I do not.” And I was like, “No, no. She doesn’t mean that.” Umm, and we’re really– and she’s like, “Shall
I show you the footage?” And her co-star was like,
“No, don’t show the footage. This is so sensitive. You may not win Harvey
Weinstein. You mean, when Quentin
Tarantino tried to kill you?” And I was like– . And she’s like, “No,
I’m going to show it.” And Maureen stands up and
goes, “I’m going home.”>>Well, I hear, I hear
that Australians have like 15 different
words for throwing up. So that’s what I thought
was about to happen.>>Anyway, you got a copy of it. Which ended up being a
story that Maureen wrote which was about– now she did
mention that she had been, you know, assaulted
by Harvey Weinstein on two separate occasions. One of which he went on a
complete mind-blank about. So she can’t properly
remember it. But the other was when she
was on set of Kill Bill. That iconic scene when
she’s driving a car. It’s a convertible, and
she’s going to kill Bill. And he’s flapping around
in the breeze behind her. And Quentin Tarantino had said
that he didn’t want the medics or the stunt people
to be on set. She tried to say repeatedly,
“I don’t want to do this. I don’t want to drive this car. This is [inaudible]
malfunctions in this car. And can someone else drive it?” No, no, no, no. And he said, “I’ve driven
the course myself before, and it’s straight. I checked it out for you. You drive straight,
and I need you to go at least 60 miles an hour because I want your
hair whipping around.” And eventually she
ended up doing this. But, but when she got in, very
quickly it became apparent that the road was not straight. And tell us about
reporting this story. And, and what, you know,
because it, it can’t, it was a whole different kind of
element to the #MeToo stories. As someone who was amused
and part creator-director.>>Well, you know, it reminded
me of they had a relationship that was often compared
to Alfred Hitchcock and Ingrid Bergman, the
auteur and the muse. And she actually, you
know, helped him come up with the idea for Kill Bill. And he had their
initials in the credits as you know coming
up with the story. And but Alfred Hitchcock was
obsessed with Tippi Hedren. And she did not res– you know, she was not romantically
interested in him. And so when they shot one of
the scenes with the live birds, he let the scene go on and
on to the point of sadism. And Quentin Tarantino I
learnt, I asked Uma this. And, and it was true. When he, when the scene. It was Michael Manson in Kill
Bill where he spits on her. Quentin actually spit on her. He wanted to do it himself. And in the scene with
the little Japanese girl when she has rope
and strangles her. Quentin wanted to strangle her. So there was just
something weird. He was obviously, he
has a foot fetish. And he would, you know
be obsessing on her feet. And was sort of in
love with her. And, and at 3:00 one morning,
I was interviewing her. And she began crying and she
was saying it took her 47 years to realise that when
someone says they love you, that it shouldn’t be
manifested in cruelty.>>We’re about to open it up to
questions in about two minutes. Just, just while we’re
preparing for that. And I think there’s
microphones there. Can you tell us where you think
the #MeToo movement is at now, particularly with what has
happened with Asia Argento, the relationship
with Rose McGowan, Ryan Dove sending text messages. It’s this whole messy story. But we know that one of the
key, you know, iconic voices of the campaign herself has
been severely compromised by an allegation of her own, you
know, alleged sexual assault. Where does that leave #MeToo?>>I think if you grow up on
a diet of film noir as I did, you know that woman can
be as deadly as men. It doesn’t happen as often
that women are involved in sexual assault cases. But it happens. So I think we were kind
of in a rigid position on #MeToo for a while. Where every woman
had to be believed. And every man was not believed. And there were no gradations
and you know, I just, Asia Argento was
sort of one of the. There was a sort of unhealthy
coliseum aspect to it. Like urging on with bloodlust that men use their
reputation and career. Before, people had had a
chance to give due process. So I think now there’s going
to be more of an idea that you, you know, victims
have to be respected. And we have to investigate. But men also have
to have due process.>>It’s been fascinating. Alright. I think we’ve got, we’re going to open
up for questions now. If– I can’t see properly. Oh, there we go. People. Oh my gosh. That’s so scary. And while we’re waiting to see
if anyone’s got a question. I’m going to ask you some of
the lightning rounds that you do which is the things you
used to do with Donald Trump when he would just give you a.
You would just give him a line? And then he would give
you a very quick answer. Are we still waiting. Ivanka Trump.>>Ivanka, or Javanka, as
we called Jared and Ivanka. [Laughter] I think in the
beginning, Ivanka tried to present herself
as the sunny morning in the dark American carnage,
White House of her father. But I, I think that’s been
kind of blown apart now. Because when the hideous
thing happened in America about these children
being separated from their parents and mothers. Even small babies. And then they sent them off
and didn’t seem to keep track of where they were sending them. Ivanka had said one of her big
issues was going to be women and children and parents
and children, mothers. And so there was this national
kind of scream of pain. Ivanka, where are you? You know, can you address this? Can you talk to your father? But I talked to her
about it once. And you know, she’s like, “I can’t be Bernie
Sanders, you know? And I can’t, I can’t, I can, I
can try and persuade my father of the things I think he
should do differently. But kind of like I can’t
do it all the time. I have to pick my spots.” But I think everyone has
completely lost faith in the idea that she’s
going to be a softening or leavening force on this
dark, dark White House.>>Okay, over here, yes?>>Hi. I’m been an avid follower of American politics
for a long time. And obviously I’m following
the mid-terms quite closely. I mean I was really upset that
Chelsea Manning was bullied into stepping, not running. And I wanted you to just
comment and feels a lot like what’s happening
here in Australia with the Liberal Party
bullying candidates who they don’t deem suitable
And also what do you think about the in-fighting
in the Democratic Party? Are the progressives, left
side of the Bernie camp, are they getting any
traction, do you think? Yeah, that’s it.>>Yeah, I, I interviewed
Alexandria Cortez-Ocasio. Or Ocasio-Cortez. I forget. But she is absolutely
cool and a pistol, you know. Obama, for some reason,
didn’t endorse her. But I think she has the
kind of energy and appeal to her district that the
Democrats need to cherish if they’re going to,
you know, win the House. And but the problem is
a lot of socialists now, that was the scariest word in,
you know, in Obama’s campaign. He really didn’t want to
be labelled with that. But now, you know, and this is
a problem with the Democrats. They were always so scared. They stopped calling
themselves liberals. They were scared to call
themselves liberals. And so they called
themselves progressives. But the socialists now running
aren’t scared, you know. They’re very kind of fearless. And but the problem is that the,
the it puts the Democratic Party in kind of a civil war. Because they also need
more centrists, you know, to win parts of the country
that those candidates can’t win. And then so it’s like we’ve got
more socialists on the left. And then you know more kind of
Trump mini-me’s on the right. So it’s, it’s everything
is getting much more riven, you know? And, and yeah, we, Julia and I think Chelsea Manning
should have been allowed to come, obviously. [ Applause ]>>This is for the both of us.>>Yes?>>Love your work. There’s a lack of
queue on this side, so I’ve got two questions
to make up for that. One is a personal one. What are the sliding doors in
your life that led you into the, into the position of
political journalism? And number two, many people say
that the respect for the Pre– U.S. presidential
office has been lost. Do you think that it can
ever be regained, post-Trump?>>Those are great questions. I, you know, I majored in
Shakespeare in college and. [Laughter] That seemed
like good preparation for covering politics. And you know, as you
know in recent years. And this was one of
Hillary Clinton’s problems. She put absolute
faith in big data. And when Bill said he sensed
there was something wrong with the white rural voters. He’s the world’s
leading expert on it. And wanted, he wanted
to campaign, you know. Hillary’s 35-year-old
campaign manager made fun of him to reporters. Imitating his southern accent,
like, “I should go check out the white rural voters. There’s something wrong.” He would literally mock
the former President for realising correctly what was
going wrong with the campaign. And so there they thought
they had the big data model. And I highly recommend Amy
Chozick’s book on this. Because she has a very– our
former Hillary [inaudible]. She has a very chilling scene
where they had a big data expert who they compared to the mathematician
in A Beautiful Mind. That he was this genius. And he came in on election
night to the expensive suite in New York where they have
the custom-made Ralph Lauren purple outfits. And he’s like, “Well,
there’s a problem in Florida.” You know, they had lost Florida. And they were sort
of flipping out. And they’re like, “Well, at least we still
have Pennsylvania.” And the mathematician goes,
“Well, actually if the model in Florida’s wrong, it’s
wrong in Pennsylvania.” And the whole thing kind of
turned around in an hour. And, and I had always been
suspicious of big data. But actually earlier
on election night, I had kind of shrugged
and given up. And I figured, okay,
eve0ryone seems to think that the human factor
doesn’t matter here. It’s all baked in
the demographic cake. And so when that happened, you
know, it justified my feeling that it is like Shakespeare. Because Shakespeare tracked
all of the primal emotions. And nothing has really changed
about that in two centuries. And running for president
is the most personal. I mean, voting for a president
is the most personal vote that you make. It’s like about your future,
your children’s future. People lie to pollsters. I just think a lot
of human stuff comes into play that big data– . Big data’s a great tool, I just don’t think it can
replace the human element of covering and reacting
in presidential races. And your other question
was about what’s going to happen with, what
influence Trump will have on our future politics. And that is the central
question. You know, we’ll– is
her an aberration? Or will our politics
forever be– you know. I call him “the Rosemary’s
Baby of reality TV, social media and politics.” [Laughter] And are
we doomed you know? Mark Cuban wants to run. All these, The Rock, all
these Kim Kardashian and, and Kanye are looking into it. So will the appetite. Are Americans replacing the
old kind of experienced pols with sort of entertainment,
celebrity candidates. Oprah, you know. There was a flurry about Oprah. So I think that we don’t
know the answer to that. Will they scurry back to
the safe kind of candidate? Or will their appetite
be you know for the big celebrity stars? The one thing I do know. I do think Donald
Trump is an aberration because no one will be
able to do what he does. It’s a unique kind of amalgam
of scary traits he has. That I don’t think
can be replicated by all the little mini-me’s. [Laughter]>>Alright, and just
one question? Yep, hi.>>I, I just had a question about the trade war
going on in America. Have the [inaudible] placed
against China imposed by Trump, Donald Trump, had any pos– positive outcomes on the
American or Chinese economy?>>Yeah, I don’t, you
know, I think the, the jury’s out on the trade war. I mean, I have heard politicians
in American complaining about these inequities
for 30 years. But nobody was going to
do anything about it. And so like many things, Trump
has this bat sonar where he, you know, there’s
always a kernel there. Of something that he
has going for him. He just can’t match
it up with knowledge. [Laughter] Because he
doesn’t read anything except about himself. So I, I just think the
jury’s out a little bit on whether he can make
some of this a success. And more fair. Or whether our whole economy
is going to go down the tubes. I don’t, I don’t really know.>>And which reminds me of
that, the editorial meeting which I often talk about because
it’s my only ever in-person contact with him. And he, he was asked about the
tariff he was going to place on, you know, importation
of Chinese goods. And he was like, and someone
said, “Well what, what amount? What level?” And he was like, “Thirty?” That was at that meeting.>>Yeah.>>And someone pushed him on it,
and he went oh, uh, maybe 35. The difference? Like the exponential difference.>>Oh yeah, of economic impact. He’s just calling out crazy. It was like Joe McCarthy
was calling out numbers of communists. Like 25, 125?>>But the kernel
being, being there, being that instinct
you’re talking about. Yes?>>Alright, I wanted to
touch on the first part of the answer of your, before. Five-thirty-eight currently
has the blue wave coming in at about a three or four,
three out of four chance. Which is as they keep on
telling us, the same percentage that Hillary had in 2016. At around the same time in the
election season, two months out. My concern really is how the
media or the liberal bias that tends to come out. Not saying that it is there. But whether it’s
Stephen Colbert, or lot of the entertainment
shows or Roseanne gets put off of ABC for saying, having
her own racist rant. My concern as an American living
in a far-off land, down under. That there’ll be that turn away and that the Democrats
again will snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. And so I want to know what
your take on how we can be more at least have it go
more moderate from now until election season.>>Which takes us back to the
question of now what do we do?>>Yeah, that’s, that’s
a really smart question. And. It, Democrats just have
this way, as you say, of, of going too far sometimes. But I think that we’re, Democrats are making
their mistake is. Hillary made a mistake because
her whole ad campaign was about what a dog, to
use a Donald Trump word, Donald Trump was. That he was just
this hideous person. But I think his votes
already knew that. That’s wha0t they wanted. They wanted a rottweiler
who would bite the face off of Washington, D.C. so
they knew he was awful. You know? That, that isn’t
what bothers them about him. They like other things
about him. So the Democrats seem to me to
be going down that road again. Where, you know, they’re just
counting on the awfulness of Trump to get them through. And I just think they should
be developing a more positive vision and more alluring
candidates. And you know I asked
David Axelrod recently. I’m like well, who, who
in 2020 do you have who’s really appealing. And he’s like, oh, we’ll worry about that after,
you know, 2018. And I’m like really? You know, because this is
historic chance you have to defeat Trump. And they don’t really
seem focussed on it.>>Why not?>>I don’t know. I, I– well, partly, they’re
sort of out of practice. Because in the 20 or 30 years that the Clintons
dominated the party, they were not grooming
attractive successors, you know. They were dominating. The part was basically
the Clintons. Then when Obama came
in, he was not grooming. He didn’t even let
other politicians stand on the stage with him. He was the man alone
in the arena. You know, and I, I just think that you know you see the
frustration among a lot of younger Democrats. Where they just feel like they,
you know, no one’s setting them up to kind of be known.>>Thanks. We have, oh yeah, we
have someone up here? Hi.>>Hey. I want to ask
you about fake news. Every time we hear Trump
utter those words, fake news, the action almost
universally is the thing that is fake is the person
who’s making the claim. But it’s not new. And actually I think there is
probably some substance behind those two words. In Australia, for decades
we’ve had problems with, with really quite appalling
editorialising on radio. Radio shock jocks. And the [inaudible] press has
for decades been manipulating and massaging opinion. They take sides, blatantly
in political debate. And last week, the media were
clearly players in the game. So how fake is fake news? And is there really a
problem with the media we have to be concerned about?>>Well, I agree with you. I think fake news, while
it might be a new coinage, is a very old issue. Because we had fake
news in the Vietnam War. They were making up
results, you know? And finally Walter Cronkite
had to call them on it. And fake news is obviously
what got us into Iraq. That we were fed by Dick Cheney. Information, Condi Rice, information that was not
true to justify that war. So you know America’s
been rocked by fake news. We just didn’t call it that. You know, it’s a new term. But so Donald Trump has created
a whole alternate reality that as you say is basically
based on what he sees on Fox. You know, we, and then he
goes into the TV and plucks out people from Fox to put in
the White House in top jobs. His new image guy who’s
turning the White House into a reality show said,
and working on lighting and Rose Garden statements
is Bill Shine who got fired in the #MeToo thing at Fox. And so he has you know this
whole alternate reality. But again, his definition of
fake news is slightly different. Because what he means is news
that is not favourable to him.>>Actually saw a great tweet by
an indigenous actor this week. Who was like, we’ve
had fake news about who we are for centuries. Which I thought was very apt. [ Applause ] It’s true. We’ve been told lies about,
well, here’s that part of our history for a long time. Yes?>>Hi, Maureen, and Hi, Julie. Thank you so much for
coming what’s a very, very long distance
from New York. My question’s a little
bit back more to something that you mentioned at the start. And what America’s going
through at the moment and this identity crisis. Because I think it’s very
easy to laugh and be horrified by the things that Trump does. He does a very good job
of doing that himself. So it makes us all very worried. But the other things that
I think that worries a lot of people is what this
says about America. And about the divisions that
seem to be coming to the front. And they seem to be, you
know, dividing the country and dividing people’s opinions. And at the end of the day,
Donald Trump was elected. We can argue that maybe
he got a little bit of help from the Russians. But he was elected. So if he goes away tomorrow, and
we talk about what happens next. How do we deal with? Or how do we, how does America
cope with those divisions? Do you find that the candidates
will continue to be like Trump? Because there’s that
voice there? Or do you think there’ll
be a recognition and a reconciliation
of some sort?>>Well, you know,
I, I’ve spent a lot of time trying to
figure this out. Did the internet
culture in America, which is so vicious and nasty. We constantly have reporters,
most recently our tech editors. Saying, and Maggie Haberman, our
amazing White House reporter. Saying they’re going
to get off of Twitter because it’s just too hateful. And then of course
they sneak back on because it’s an addiction. But I think that did that course
in the culture, and that allowed for Donald Trump to rise. Because you know, it’s
unimaginable that someone who is talking in a veiled way. Not that veiled, but you
know about my organ is bigger than yours with Marco
Rubio in a debate. You know, how does that
guy get to be president? And I just wonder
if that whole– the way he got to be
president was again, he– . Stephen Bannon claims
this is Jungian, you know, that he reads Jung and come ups,
comes up with the nicknames. But he comes up with
these really nasty but sometimes effective
nicknames. Like Jeb Bush was “low energy”
and then you started thinking of Jeb Bush as low energy. You know, so but and insult
Don Rickles’ kind of campaign, I just wonder if the
reason that can work is because that’s how
people are on Twitter. So Jaron Lanier who’s
a friend of mine. Who’s the father of virtual
reality, one of the founders of Silicon Valley has a
book out about ten reasons to delete your social
media accounts. And he calls the social
media giants behaviour modification empires. And indeed, Twitter just
retooled its whole algorithm to get more negative response. So Jaron thinks that Twitter
is rewiring Trump’s brain in a negative way. Which is the scariest
thing I’ve heard yet. But i, I think your
question is really smart. Because to me, the question
here is the American identity. We, we were lost. And I think a lot of
people voted for Obama because they thought
he’d talk them through to the other
side of who we are. And you know, Obama was more
like, “Come on, globalisation. Get on the train.” You know, rather than sort
of talking these lost people, you know, who were losing
their factories and their sort of identity in America
through it. And I think you know
because we used to be, we had this one image of John
Wayne, strong and silent. And now we’re kind of
weak and shabby and mean. But obviously we
don’t want to be. We want to get back to
some sense of values and be the shining
city on the hill. So in a weird way, Trump
is helping Americans define who they want to
be, a lot of them. Because they don’t
want to be Trump. And that’s why he’s revived
a lot of civic society, a lot of institutions. That have been moribund,
like journalism and feminism. And liberalism. And the ACLU and
Stephen Colbert. And [inaudible]. So he’s kind of having
an energising effect because I think it’s
causing people to think about the American identity
and who we want to be. And we don’t want to be this
embarrassing apricot toddler, you know? [Laughter] [ Laughter and Applause ]>>I think that’s a
great note to end on. The apricot toddler. I’m so sorry, but we are
all– we are all out of time. In fact, we’re over time. So I’m sorry about that. But Maureen will be
signing her book, copy of her book afterwards,
The Year of Voting Dangerously. Which is excellent. I’ll also be signing copies
of my book on Queen Victoria which has very little to
do with this discussion. But nonetheless I will be there. [Laughter] It is such a delight and a treat to have
Maureen Dowd. Her columns have informed and
entertained and made us laugh and made us think
for so many years. So let’s just thank
her for being here now.>>Thank you. [ Applause ]


  1. Gee I wonder why this woman was labeled as irritating, aside from that chalk board voice, "o my god" Obama had her dwn pat.🤮 a

  2. Tnx for exposing hypocrisy of politics. What we sow so shall we reap is working…Divine Law never leaves anything … its just slow and steady… Trump is part of this law… exposing the SWAMP …

  3. Maureen Dowd, you are an evil racist bigot that also hates white men.
    What crimes have you committed? We will find out. What is it that you think we don't already know. We do….tick-tock.


  5. I've read a lot of her–she's kind of a precursor to the ditsy bloogers that have now taken over what remains of MSM print journalism. No real wisdom, or substance there, lots of pretentious purply prose.

    So slow, and uninsightful in real time.

  6. All most a year …has gone by since this one was published…I lived in Palm Beach in the months before the Inauguration…and Maureen was slated to appear on the Op-Ed page once a week , in the Palm Beach paper,but was made not to appear….at all. So really this algorithmic censor is at work hiding Maureen too….this is pathetic,stupid ,Republican bullying at work.

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