Editor’s note: The following is a lightly edited transcript of former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s appearance at the 2017 Code Conference.
Below, we’ve embedded the full audio of the interview from our podcast Recode Replay. We’re posting all the other sessions from Code to that feed on Apple Podcasts, Google Play Music, Spotify (mobile only), TuneIn and Stitcher.
Kara Swisher: So now, we’re going to do an interview we’re very excited about. Walter, why don’t you ...
Walt Mossberg: Uh, we are just ... I’m just going to do it. Hillary Clinton.
[applause, cheers, Katy Perry plays, laughter]
Swisher: I think they voted for you, I think they did, a lot of these people [HRC laughs]. Before we start, there’s a distillery in Washington, D.C. and I’ve heard you like whiskey.
Mossberg: There is? In Washington?
Swisher: Yes, there’s a new distillery.
Hillary Clinton: I’ve been known to, yeah, right [laughter].
Swisher: So we brought you Rodham Rye [HRC laughs], which is — people see it? — it’s actually Hillary Clinton rye made for you.
Yes, that’s what they told me.
Swisher: And if you’d like a drink at anytime during this ... [laughter].
Mossberg: We brought cups.
Swisher: Now let’s just get the alt right platform — Hillary Clinton has a drinking problem [HRC laughs]. But if you’d like a drink at any point, this is for you to take home.
Well you know, it may depend upon how the interview goes.
Swisher: Ok, all right. We’ll just put it right here, just go, “Give me a shot.”
Yeah, but I was thrilled. I mean, hey, not in the White House but Rodham Rye is on the shelves. [laughter]
Swisher: All right, great!
Mossberg: It seems like a fair trade-off, I don’t know.
Well, you know, you gotta take what you can get.
Mossberg: So, we’re going to talk a lot about tech and politics and tech in our country, your views on it. We were talking backstage and I think this was the first election where tech sort of got weaponized in a way that directly affected the outcome of the election ...
Mossberg: ... and I know you have stuff to say about it. But I have to ask you first, discounting all those outside forces which were obviously very important, what misjudgement did you make, and your staff, that thinking about it was something serious and that you wish you had done the opposite?
Well you know, I’m writing a whole book, Walt ...
Mossberg: Well I don’t want to wait for the book.
Yeah, we don’t probably have enough time for everything, but look. The overriding issue that affected the election that I had any control over — because I had no control over the Russians, too bad about that, but we’ll talk about it, I hope — was the way that the use of my email account was turned into the biggest scandal since lord knows when. And you know, in the book I’m just using everything that anybody else said about it besides me to basically say this was the biggest nothing-burger ever. It was a mistake, I’ve said it was a mistake, and obviously if I could turn the clock back, I wouldn’t have done it in the first place, but the way that it was used was very damaging.
Swisher: And you didn’t handle it? That’s a mistake on your part? Or they way it was used was a mistake on your part? Because we’re trying to get at what you think you misjudged.
Well, if you went all the way back, doing something that others had done before was no longer acceptable in the new environment in which we found ourselves. And there was no law against it, there was no rule, nothing of that sort. So I didn’t break any rule, nobody said, “Don’t do this,” and I was very responsible and not at all careless. So you end up with a situation that is then exploited, and very effectively, for adverse political reasons. And it was maddening, because in the middle of a hard-fought campaign, it’s hard to stop and say, “Wait a minute, what you think you know about this is not accurate, let me tell you. You can still judge me, you can still hold me accountable, that’s fair game.” But there was so much else going on at that time.
And the investigation that they conducted ended in July, it was over, and I have my complaints about former director Comey, but it was done. And then it was reignited and it became the major reason toward the end, based on the best analysis that I can find, that I lost ground and ended up losing. So obviously, turn the clock back. But what was done, and I think it was interesting, I know you had Dean Baquet here from the New York Times yesterday, and they covered it like it was Pearl Harbor. And then in their endorsement of me, they said, “This email thing, it’s like a help desk issue.” So it was always a hard issue to put to bed, but we put it to bed in July and then it rose up again.
Mossberg: Okay, I want to do one more of these misjudgement things and then we’re going to go on. Goldman Sachs.
Mossberg: You knew you were going to run for president, or you thought you might, or probably, you were thinking about it — you had to be thinking about it as a possibility — why did you do those?
Why do you have Goldman Sachs here? [laughter]
Swisher: Because they pay us.
They paid me [laughter and applause]. You know, look, again ...
Mossberg: Let’s get serious ...
Mossberg: I know they paid you ...
Mossberg: And they paid you a lot.
Mossberg: But you’re not somebody who needed that money for the next week’s shopping, and you knew you might run, so why do it?
Well, I gave speeches to many, many groups. I spoke to camp counselors, I spoke to health-care executives, I spoke to, you know, just a wide range of groups, right? And not just in the United States but particularly in Canada and a few other places.
And I was a Senator from New York. I knew these people and I knew what they did for the economy and I knew what they did to the economy. And I think that speaking to them, raising questions — which I did in 2008 and 2009 — you know, people have no reason to know this, but in the 2008 campaign before the Iowa caucus, I actually ran an ad about the looming mortgage crisis. So I have to say, Walt, I never thought that anybody would throw out my entire career of standing up and speaking out and voting against and voting in favor of what I thought are good policies, because I made a couple of speeches. When you’re the Secretary of State, people want to hear what you talk about. The most common thing that I talked about in all those speeches was the hunt for Bin Laden. You know, that was one of the central missions that I felt from the time the towers fell on 9/11 as a Senator from New York.
And to be part of that, to be one of the very few people advising the president on that, that was a fascinating issue. And I thought I could tell that to a lot of different people, and you know, men got paid for the speeches they made. I got paid for the speeches I made. And it was used, and I thought it was unfairly used and all of that, but it was part of the background music.
Swisher: So let’s talk about that ... but it was used. And I think we’ve discussed this, you and I have discussed this, this idea of ... how many years did you talk about the vast right-wing conspiracy?
Um, about ... let’s see, it was probably ’98?
Swisher: And at the time people thought you were ...
A little crazy [laughter].
Swisher: Right, okay. [WM laughs]. What is it like now? How do you look at it now? Because it is used. Because you’re someone that’s got to know that a target’s on your back almost every ... You know, right now every bot in Russia is working their way with the last 20 seconds of things you said.
Yes, right. Well I hope we get into this because look, I take responsibility for every decision I made, but that’s not why I lost. So I think it’s important that we learn the real lessons from this last campaign because the forces that we are up against are not just interested in influencing our elections and our politics, they’re going after our economy and they’re going after our unity as a nation. So yes, back in ’98 — look, I have been watching this and have been, obviously, the target for a number of years. And what is hard for people to really — although now after the election there’s greater understanding — is that there are forces in our country — put the Russians to one side — who have been fighting rear-guard actions for as long as I’ve been alive, because my life coincided with the Civil Rights movement, with the Women’s Rights movement, with anti-war protesting, with the impeachment ... you know, the driving out of office because he was about to be impeached president ...
Swisher: Let’s be specific.
Yeah, let’s be very specific as if people didn’t understand what I was saying [laughter].
And let’s talk about, you know, Watergate and all the stuff that we lived through. And we were on a real roll as a country despite assassinations, despite setbacks. You know, opening the doors of opportunity, expanding rights to people who never had them in any country, was frankly thrilling. And I believed then, and I believe now, that we’re never done with this work. And so part of the challenge is to maintain the energy and the focus to keep going forward. But you’ve got to recognize the other side is never, never tired either. They’re always looking to push back.
And what we saw was, in the election particularly, and I appreciate what Walt said, the first time that you had the tech revolution really weaponized politically — before it was a way to reach voters, you know, collect fundraising, do things that would help the candidate who was behind the messaging — that changed this time, and it changed for a number of reasons we should talk about. You had Citizens United come to its full fruition. So unaccountable money flowing in against me, against other Democrats, in a way that we hadn’t seen and then attached to this weaponized information war. You had effective suppression of votes. Those of us who can remember the Voting Rights Act, the expansion of the franchise, and then I was in the Senate when we voted 98 to nothing under a Republican president, George W. Bush, to extend the Voting Rights Act.
And the Supreme Court said, “Oh, we don’t need it anymore,” throws it out, and Republican governors and legislatures began doing everything they could to suppress the vote. So, that was before we get to the Russians, or Cambridge Analitica, or anything of the outside. And there were lots of factors at work and yeah, it was aimed at me, but it’s a much deeper, more persistent effort to try to literally turn the clock back on so much of what we’ve achieved as a country.
Swisher: So talk about the weaponizing of it. Because one of the things that’s interesting ... Now you’ve recently, and we’ve talked about the uses of Facebook, the uses of — we can get into Donald Trump’s Twitter thing in a second, because that can be a whole conference, essentially. But how do you see how it was weaponized, and it begs the questions, why weren’t you weaponizing it? Like, why is the right wing so good at it?
Mossberg: And not just you, but the Democrats.
Well, look. Here’s how I see it, and I hope others will jump into this debate in the months ahead because there’s a lot we have to understand if we’re going to avoid this continuing assault on our sources of information. Here’s how I think about it. You know, I was very proud of my data and analytics team. They were largely veterans of the Obama campaigns, ’08, ’12, and then we brought in new people and brought in a lot of new expertise to build the next generation. And we had a lot of help from some people in Silicon Valley as well. And what we thought we were doing — here’s the arena we were playing in — was going to like Obama 3.0, you know, better targeting, better messaging, and the ability to both turn out our voters as we identified them, and to communicate more broadly with voters.
Here’s what the other side was doing, and they were in a different arena. Through content farms, through an enormous investment in falsehoods, fake news, call it what you will ...
Mossberg: How about “lies”?
Lies? You’re really ... that’s a good word too [laughter and applause]. The other side was using content that was just flat-out false, and delivering it in a very personalized way, both sort of above the radar screen and below. And you know, look, I’m not a tech expert by any stretch of the imagination. That really influenced the information that people were relying on. And there have been some studies done since the election that if you look — let’s pick Facebook. If you look at Facebook, the vast majority of the news items posted were fake. They were connected to, as we now know, the 1,000 Russian agents who were involved in delivering those messages.
They were connected to the bots that are just out of control. We see now this new information about Trump’s Twitter account being populated by millions of bots. And it was such a new experience. I understand why people on their Facebook pages would think, “Oh, Hillary Clinton did that, I did not know that. Well that’s going to affect my opinion about her.” And we did not engage in false content. We may have tried to put every piece of information in the best possible light, and explanations, but we weren’t in the same category as the other side.
Mossberg: But, okay. So you weren’t going to lie.
Mossberg: Good for you.
Well ... Yes ... [laughter]
Mossberg: I see you’re rethinking that [laughs].
I’m not rethinking it, but everybody else better rethink it, because we have to figure out how to combat this.
Mossberg: Okay, but that’s my point. My impression is that the left, the Democrats, liberals, whatever you want to call them, including Bernie Sanders’s folks and everybody on the Democratic side, which at once time, 12, 15 years ago, was ahead of the Republicans on tech as it existed then, is way behind now.
Mossberg: And it’s not just ... I mean, there’s a way to weaponize tech that doesn’t involve lying.
Mossberg: Or having Russians help you. But it is a political weapon, it’s a fact of life now.
Swisher: So how do you do that?
Mossberg: How do you do it? How do we do it going forward?
Let me just do a comparison for you. I set up my campaign and we have our own data operation. I get the nomination. So I’m now the nominee of the Democratic Party. I inherit nothing from the Democratic Party.
Mossberg: What do you mean nothing?
I mean it was bankrupt, it was on the verge of insolvency, its data was mediocre to poor, nonexistent, wrong. I had to inject money into it ...
Mossberg: This is the DNC you’re talking about.
The DNC, to keep it going. Okay. Donald Trump, who did nothing about really setting up any kind of data operation, inherits an RNC data foundation that, after the Republicans lost in 2012, and they thought they had a very good operation with the setup that Romney did called ORCA, they thought that was really state of the art, they lose.
So they raised — best estimates are close to a hundred million dollars, they brought in their main vendors, they basically said, “We will never be behind the Democrats again,” and they invested between 2012 and 2016 this hundred million dollars to build this data foundation. They beta tested it. They ran it ... somebody was able to determine about 227,000 surveys to double check, triple check, quadruple check, the information.
So Trump becomes the nominee and he is basically handed this tried and true, effective foundation. Then you’ve got Cambridge Analytica and you know, you can believe the hype on how great they were or the hype on how they weren’t, but the fact is, they added something. And I think again, we better understand that the Mercers did not invest all that money just for their own amusement. We know they played in Brexit, and we know that they came to Jared Kushner and basically said, “We will marry our operation,” which was more as it’s been described, psychographic, sentiment, a lot of harvesting of Facebook information, “We will marry that with the RNC on two conditions: You pick Steve Bannon, and you pick Kellyanne Conway. And then we’re in.” Trump says, “Fine, who cares,” right? So Bannon, who’d been running the Breitbart operation, supplying a lot of the ... untrue, false stories ...
Mossberg: You gotta start saying lies.
Yeah. We know. So, they married content with delivery and data. And it was a potent combination. Now, the question is, where and how did the Russians get into this? And I think it’s a very important question. So, I assume that a lot of people here may have — and if you haven’t, I hope you will — read the declassified report by the Intelligence community that came out in early January.
Mossberg: This is 17 agencies ...
Seventeen agencies, all in agreement, which I know from my experience as a Senator and Secretary of State, is hard to get. They concluded with high confidence that the Russians ran an extensive information war campaign against my campaign, to influence voters in the election. They did it through paid advertising we think, they did it through false news sites, they did it through these thousand agents, they did it through machine learning, which you know, kept spewing out this stuff over and over again. The algorithms that they developed. So that was the conclusion. And I think it’s fair to ask, how did that actually influence the campaign? And how did they know what messages to deliver?
Swisher: Who told them?
Who told them? Who were they coordinating with, or colluding with? Because the Russians historically in the last couple of decades and then increasingly, you know, are launching cyber attacks, and they are stealing vasts amounts of information, and a lot of the information they’ve stolen they’ve used for internal purposes, to affect markets, to affect the intelligence services, etc. So this is different because they went public, and they were conveying this weaponized information and the content of it, and they were running ... You know, there’s all these stories of guys over in Macedonia who are running these fake news sites and I’ve seen them now and you sit there and it looks like a sort of low-level CNN operation ...
Mossberg: Or a fake newspaper.
Or a fake newspaper ...
Mossberg: Like the Denver Guardian.
Like a fake newspaper, and so the Russians — in my opinion and based on the intel and the counterintel people I’ve talked to — could not have known how best to weaponize that information unless they had been guided.
Mossberg: Guided by Americans.
Guided by Americans and guided by people who had polling and data information.
Swisher: Who is that?
Now let me just finish, because this is the second and third step. So we know that they did that. We understand it. Best example: So within one hour, one hour of the Access Hollywood tapes being leaked, within one hour, the Russians — let’s say WikiLeaks, something — dumped the John Podesta emails. Now, if you’ve ever read the John Podesta emails, they are anodyne to boredom [laughter]. But ...
Mossberg: Yeah, we had him here once.
Yeah, [laughter and applause], and forgive him for what he said about you. So, they were run-of-the-mill emails, especially run of the mill for a campaign.
“Should we do this?” “What should she say?” You know, just the stuff that is so common, basic. Within one hour they dumped them, and then they began to weaponize them. And they began to have some of their allies within the internet world, like Infowars, take out pieces and begin to say the most outrageous, outlandish, absurd lies you could imagine. And so they had to be ready for that, and they had to have a plan for that, and they had to be given the go-ahead. “Okay, this could be the end of the Trump campaign, dump it now. And then let’s do everything we can to weaponize it.”
And we know it hurt us. Because as I explain in my book, you know, the Comey letter, which was, now we know, partly based on a false memo from the Russians. It was a classic piece of Russian disinformation — comprimat, they call it. So, for whatever reason, and I speculate, but I can’t look inside the guy’s mind, you know, he dumps that on me on October 28th, and I immediately start falling. But what was really interesting, since the mainstream media covered that, as I say like Pearl Harbor, front pages everywhere, huge type, etc. And all of the Trump people go around screaming, “Lock her up, lock her up,” and all of that. At the same time, the biggest Google searches were not for Comey, because that information was just lying out there, it was for WikiLeaks. And so voters who are being targeted with all of this false information are genuinely trying to make up their minds.
What does it mean? And we know that the Google searches for this stuff were particularly high in places in Wisconsin and Pennsylvania.
Swisher: So, a couple of questions to this. That was fascinating actually. I was like riveted to that. Who was directing them, from your perspective? And do you blame — and I’m just going to use Facebook, because that’s where a lot of this was done, especially around the fake news, either the Pope was voting for Trump, or there was one particular one I got in an argument with Facebook people about, you being a lizard, that was going around. And they kept arguing about the gray area and this and that, and I remember being in a call saying, “She’s not a lizard!”
Thank you, Kara, thank you [laughter].
Mossberg: That’s actually a kind thing from Kara.
I’m very touched!
Swisher: But ... [laughter] do you blame ...
I have that on a pillow, “She’s not a lizard.”
Swisher: I don’t know if you’re a lizard or not but ... [HRC laughs] I’m guessing you’re not a lizard. But who do you think directed it? And do you blame Facebook, or any of these platforms, for doing nothing? What should they have done and are they culpable?
Let me separate out the questions. First, we’re getting more information about all of the contacts between Trump campaign officials and Trump associates with Russians before, during and after the election. So I hope that we’ll get enough information to be able to answer that question.
Swisher: But you’re leaning Trump.
Yes ... yes. I’m leaning Trump. I think it’s pretty hard not to. I think that the marriage of the domestic fake news operations, the domestic RNC Republican allied data, you know, combined with the very affective capabilities that the Russians brought. You know, basically the group running this was the GRU which is the military intelligence arm of the Russian military and they have a very sophisticated cyber operation, in bed with WikiLeaks, in bed with Goosefer, in bed with DC Leaks.
And you know, DC Leaks and Goosefer, which were dropping a lot of this stuff on me, they haven’t done anything since early January. Their job was done. They got their job done. So we’re going to, I hope, be able to connect up a lot of the dots, and it’s really important because when Comey did testify before being fired this last couple of weeks, he was asked, “Are the Russians still involved?” And he goes, “Yes, they are. Look, why wouldn’t they be? It worked for them!” And it is important that Americans, and particularly people in tech and business understand, Putin wants to bring us down. And he is an old KGB agent. I had, obviously, run-ins with him, because that in large measure prompted his animus toward me, and his desire to help Trump. But it is deeper than that, it is way beyond me.
So with respect to the platforms, you know, I am again not exactly sure what conclusions we should draw. But here’s what I believe. I believe that what was happening to me was unprecedented and we were scrambling. We went and told everybody we could find in the middle of the summer, the Russians were messing with the election. And we were basically shooed away, like, “Oh you know, there she goes, vast right-wing conspiracy.” Now it’s a vast Russian conspiracy. Well, turned out we were right. And we saw evidence of it. We could track it. And we couldn’t get ... we could not get the press to follow it and we never got confirmation. Remember, Comey was more than happy to talk about my emails, but he wouldn’t talk about the investigation of the Russians. So people went to vote on November 8th having no idea that there was an active counter-intelligence investigation going on of the Trump campaign.
So if I put myself in the position of running a platform like Facebook, first of all, they’ve got to get back to trying to curate it more effectively. Put me out of the equation, they’ve got to help prevent fake news from creating a new reality. That does influence how people think of themselves, see the world, the decisions that they make. I don’t know enough about what they could have done in real time. It’s not like we were not having conversations with them, because a lot of the people on my team were. I also think I was the victim of a very broad assumption I was going to win. “It doesn’t matter what you do to her ...”
Swisher: Victim that you were going to win ...
Yeah, just you know, everybody.
Mossberg: You’re talking about Nate Silver and the Times. “She has an 88 percent ... No she has an 89 percent chance.”
Yeah. And you know, I never believed that, I always thought it was going to be a close election because our elections are always close. And you know, if you have an R next to your name or a D next to your name, you end up often falling in line to vote for your candidate.
So I think a lot of people ... “We’ll get to that after the election. We’re not going to worry about it right now.” And that turned out to be a terrible mistake.
Swisher: So a victim that they thought you were going to win ... So what’s the difference?
Well, I think that was part of it.
Swisher: What about a financial element? That they made money from this?
Oh I think... Well, look. The networks made more money than they’ve made in years, and we’ve got lots of network executives saying things like, “You know, he may not be good for the country but he’s good for business.” And there was that. And putting him on all the time. Calling in wherever he was from. And here’s a really telling statistic that has been validated. So, I had this old-fashioned idea that it really mattered what I would do as president [laughter]. And so I laid out very specific plans and I costed them out because I also think it’s important to be fiscally responsible.
A number of people in this audience were helpful to me, and I thank you. And we had a really good ... we had a great tech program. We had a really good set of policies. Okay. In 2008, which was the last time you had a contested election, not somebody already in the White House, the policies put forth by President Obama, Senator McCain, got 220 minutes of air time, okay? In 2016, despite my best efforts and giving endless speeches and putting out all kinds of stuff, we got 32 minutes. That’s all.
Mossberg: Over like two years, or how long was ...?
Well, over 18 months. Yeah. That was it. Total.
Swisher: So does that signify that you need to think about campaign ... Not you in particular. Are you running again, by the way?
Swisher: Okay. But you need to campaign differently, because you know, you were saying policy doesn’t matter, politics did. And Donald Trump ... Look, a lot of people say that he was a great campaigner, a bad president. You were a terrible campaigner, you would have been a great president kind of thing. But you have to win and not ...
Look, let’s put the campaigning stuff on the table ...
Swisher: But don’t you have to change? Or not?
I won three million more votes than the other guy did [cheers, applause]. And I had a very, very close contest with President Obama. Basically, our votes were neck and neck. He ended up with more delegates and you know, depending on how you counted, I was slightly ahead, slightly behind. So we were absolutely on par when it came to actually getting votes. I won two Senate races in New York. So I never said I was a perfect candidate, and I certainly have never said I ran perfect campaigns, but I don’t know who is or did. And at some point it sort of bleeds into misogyny. And let’s just be honest, you know, people who have ... [applause] a set of expectations about who should be president and what a president looks like, you know, they’re going to be much more skeptical and critical of somebody who doesn’t look like and talk like and sound like everybody else who’s been president.
And you know, President Obama broke that racial barrier, but you know, he’s a very attractive, good-looking man with lots of ...
Swisher: Well, he’s likable enough.
He’s likable enough, absolutely! [WM laughs] More than, more than. So the campaign ... Look, were there things we could have done differently? You can say that about any campaign.
Swisher: But is campaigning going to change in the future?
Mossberg: Yeah, but I want to ... I want to follow up on something while we’re on this bleeding over into misogyny thing, and it comes from the recent New York Magazine profile of you, which I thought was fascinating and interesting. But the part of it that just leapt off the page for me as a reader was you and some of your staff, folks were quoted in there as saying, “Okay, Bernie Sanders could get angry at the podium about the fate of the people who are trapped in the globalization/automation thing.” Trump certainly did that, oversimplifying, getting angry.
You couldn’t do that because you’re a woman. And if a woman does that, it just backfires on her. And it made me think, are we never going to be able to have a woman in politics who can use that technique, which is an effective technique, which shows I’m emotionally with you just by oversimplifying and getting angry. Is that true? Do you really feel you couldn’t do that?
Well, let me say this. You know, I have been on many speaking platforms with many men who are in office or running for office. And the crowd gets you going and you get up there and I watch my male counterparts and they beat the podium and they yell and the crowd loves it.
And a few times I’ve tried then and it’s been less than successful, let me just say that [laughter]. And it’s a little maddening because I’m as angry about what’s going on as anybody because I’ve seen us go backwards as I said in the very beginning about so many things. Economic opportunity, advancements in human rights, civils rights, and the rest.
Swisher: Health care.
Health care. I care deeply about this. And I remember when I was doing health care back in the day, ’93, ’94, and we were trying to move an agenda forward and I went to the American Academy of Pediatrics. And I’ve always been particularly concerned about what happens to kids who don’t get the health care they need.
And I gave a really hot speech, and I got hammered for it, repeatedly. Because I don’t know what the way forward will be for others, Walt, but for me, trying to convey my commitment, my lifelong commitment, and not only that, what I’ve done.
And you know, I’d put up against anybody who ran, or thought of running, what I’ve already accomplished compared to what they have on behalf of people. It just is very difficult to go from intensity, passion, emotion, to anger. So, yeah. Try and stay on the other side of that line.
Swisher: So spinning it forward, what do you think a Democrat ... how do you assess the current Democratic scene in terms of tech, and also what will happen with this Russian investigation?
I’m not going to speculate on who might end up running. We have to first win elections in New Jersey and Virginia in 2017, we’ve got to take the House back and keep our incumbents and maybe make progress in the Senate. Everything will change if we win in 2018.
Mossberg: Do you really believe we can?
Yes I do.
Mossberg: I say “we,” I’m retiring soon.
Yeah, we. Yes.
Mossberg: We [laughter] can take the House back? [applause]
Mossberg: We’ve got 20-something Senate seats that we have to defend. I mean seriously, come on. You’re really smart about this. Let’s be honest.
Let’s look at the House. We have to flip 24 seats, okay? I won 23 districts that have a Republican Congress member. Seven of them are in California, Darrell Issa being one. If we can flip those, if we can then go deeper into where I did well, where we can get good candidates, I think flipping the House is certainly realistic. It’s a goal that we can set for ourselves.
Mossberg: Is the party organized to do that?
Well, we’re working on it. I’m working on it.
Mossberg: We don’t have a lot of time here.
Well you know, but we’ve got two very good political strategists running the Senate and the House for Democrats, Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer. They know how to win elections. They’re incredibly focused, tireless and effective. So honestly, I’m hopeful about the House. And I’m working on it. I have a new organization called Onward Together and I’m helping some of these new groups that have sprouted up online to recruit candidates, run candidates, help candidates go to town halls, expose Republican members for their hypocrisy and the like. So we’re working really hard on this.
Mossberg: What about the Senate?
I think the Senate is hard to make progress, but I think it’s possible to hold our own. All of this depends on what we’re talking about. So if the Republicans continue to make progress as they are in going into the next generation of personalization, message delivery, phony stories ... Go to Netflix and say you want to see a political documentary, eight of the top 10 — last time I checked a few weeks ago — were screeds against President Obama or me, or both of us.
Now, I love Netflix. We’re not making the documentaries that we’re going to get onto Netflix.
Mossberg: This is because Hollywood isn’t liberal enough? [laughter]
No, it’s because Democrats aren’t putting their money there. You know, there’s a classic line. Democrats give money to candidates, they want a personal connection. So the classic line is Democrats like to fall in love, Republicans just fall in line. Republicans build institutions, Republicans invest in those institutions, Republicans are much more willing to push and cross the line, and Democrats ... I’ve talked to dozens of donors since my election experience and I’ve said, “Look, I’m all for you trying to figure out who you’re going to support in 2020, but what about 2017 and what about 2018 and what about helping the DNC try to leapfrog over its horrible data deficit, and how about supporting some of these new groups and see what they can do to generate some activity?”
We are not good historically at building institutions. And we’ve got to get a lot better. And that includes content. We have a great story to tell. You know, I found when I started the campaign that I had to say in practically everyone of my speeches, “Barack Obama save the economy, and he doesn’t get the credit he deserves.” I had to say that because people had been told differently. They didn’t feel it yet. You know, income didn’t really start inching up until 2015, late 2015.
So I was swimming against an historic tide. It’s very difficult historically to succeed a two-term president of your own party, because you know, we’re itchy people, we like change in American, and I get it. So there was that, but he had done a good job.
And you know, it was comparable ... I obviously think back to what my husband inherited, which at that time seemed to be an exploding deficit and an increasing debt. The debt of the country had been quadrupled the prior 12 years. So he had to do a lot of cleanup work, he paid a huge political price for it, lost the Congress in ’94, had to fight back for getting reelected, and then we all know what happened in the second term which was bloodsport of the worse kind. And then the Supreme Court, despite Al Gore winning 500,000 more votes rules for Bush. So Bush comes in, and I worked closely with him on 9/11, but honestly the financial crisis, the morass in Iraq, and a lot of the other decisions that were made were very damaging. So then we elect President Obama, he comes in, he inherits the worst economy since the Great Depression, and he has to do a lot of things that are not easy to get it back and moving.
And it was like, “Okay, thank you very much, let’s get excited about somebody who’s going to really stir us up as opposed to do the job that needs to be done now.”
Mossberg: Great analysis on the congressional at the national level [applause]. Let’s move down ballot for a second. One of the things that just depresses me all the time is where are the Democrats running ... You know, they’re mad at everybody. Every Democrat, every liberal, lots of moderates, even some moderate Republicans, are scared and angry about Trump.
Mossberg: I don’t see him running for school board, I don’t see him running for city council, I don’t see him running for state legislature ...
That’s starting to change, Walt. It really is. I’ve got every finger and toe crossed. So among the groups I’m supporting is a group called Run For Something, started by a young woman who worked for me and my campaign.
And they’ve had thousands of people go on the website to try to figure out what does it mean to run and then to put in information, “Here’s what I’m thinking of.” And they’re beginning to win some races. Another group that’s been around for a longer time called Emerge America supports women who run. Their grassroots operations invested in women in Nevada, we flipped both houses. I won Nevada, we won the House and the Senate of Nevada. So they’re playing catch-up and trying to be more progressive and smart about their policies. You’re absolutely right. We used to leave so many races uncontested, and we’re not going to do that anymore.
Swisher: So when you think about that ... One of the things that we were also talking about last night is Republicans own local television stations, they own radio, they’re better at the internet, that got that cable going — although there’s some issues they have over there at Fox News these days. What do you do then? Where do you leapfrog?
Because obviously the internet is the best way to leapfrog that. And let’s be honest, you have Hollywood on your side. There’s a progressive media, most people think of the media as progressive. Well you don’t, you think it’s not. Like the New York Times for example.
Mossberg: The false equivalency.
The false equivalency.
Swisher: Right, we try to be fair.
Mossberg: I sense that that’s changing.
I hope so.
Mossberg: That memo has been received.
I hope so. Because what ...
Swisher: So where’s the in? Technologically?
This goes back to the institution building. Because the media forces on the Republican side are entrenched and very effective. So you’ve got obviously Fox, but you also now have Sinclair buying 140-plus local stations. And they’re beginning to call the shots on those local stations.
Swisher: Give the example of Montana we talked about.
Yeah, well so you know Montana, those of you who saw the now newly elected member of Congress literally beating up, body slamming, pushing around, a young reporter, you know what happened.
You know that it had a really terrible look to it. The guy should never have been doing that. I don’t know what enraged him so much being asked about health care. Sort of a strange trigger [laughter]. So the NBC affiliate in Montana, can’t remember which city, Missoula or Billings. Anyway, they’ve just been bought by Sinclair. So the NBC mothership in New York calls this station and says, “Can you send us the footage of what happened?” They said, “No, because that reporter was from a liberal paper, and we don’t think it’s a story we want to be part of.” Now, I find that terrifying. Because local news, yeah, there is the internet and how important it is and everybody who gets their news off of the internet, but local TV is still incredibly powerful.
Mossberg: So what are we going to do about it?
Well I’ve been ...
Swisher: You and Walt, what are you going to do about it?
Well I mean, we have a few ...
Mossberg: I’ve got some time now.
You would be a great adviser to one or more of our tech billionaires who want to buy some media.
Mossberg: Eh, they don’t listen to me.
Well then, we’re going to have to find other people who will compete against what is a considerable advantage on the other side.
Swisher: What do you think about Jeff Bezos owning the Washington Post?
I think that Jeff Bezos saves the Washington Post. I think his purchasing the Washington Post ... [applause] Which you know, I think a lot of people, a lot of his peers and friends thought, “Why would you buy this ancient medium called a newspaper?” But newspapers, like the Post, the Journal, the Times, a few others, still drive news. Drives news online, drives news on TV.
And what Bezos has done, from what I’m told, and Walt and I were talking about this backstage, you know, he’s interested in making it a good proposition, but he’s hands off on the editorial and content front and he’s basically said, “Get out there and do investigations,” and they’re doing some of the best investigations about what’s going on with the White House now. So I think that was really a very good use of his financial resources because now we have a very good newspaper again operating in Washington and driving news elsewhere and doing kind of Whitewater-level investigations.
Swisher: So we have to get to questions from the audience, and I don’t think we can get into covfefe right now because it’s a longer thing [WM laughs], but ...
I thought it was a hidden message to the Russians [laughter].
Swisher: Oh you did [laughs]. That is perfect, thank you so much for that. That’s going to be on our site in about five seconds [laughter].
So there’s a lot of calls. One of the things that I’m struck by is a lot of some of the articles are like, “You’ve got to stop, you’ve got to move on, you’ve got to sunset yourself and go away.” How do you ... I’m offended by it, but what do you think? Because you seem mad as ever, which I love. You know what I mean?
You know, look. I’m not going anywhere [applause]. I have a big stake in what happens in this country. I am very, you know, unbowed and unbroken about what happened, because I don’t want it to happen to anybody else. I don’t want it to happen to the values and the institutions that I care about in America. And I think that we’re at a really pivotal point. And therefore I’m going to keep writing and keep talking and keep supporting people who are on the front lines of the resistance.
Swisher: Terrific. Question for Hillary Clinton.
Mossberg: Why don’t we start over here.
Guy Horowitz: Guy Horowitz, I’m from Israel. So if it’s any comfort, we also had an election decided by an election day weaponized social media case. I don’t know if it’s comforting at all.
Swisher: No it’s not, it’s worse.
Horowitz: That guy also had like a very questionable hairdo. But we survived. So my question to you is ... In Israel we look at everything that’s happening outside the U.S. and what Donald Trump is saying and doing from the Paris climate thing and everything else that’s happening. It looks like it’s a clear and present danger to the world. And we’re all talking here, which is good. But I don’t feel like we’re doing enough, maybe in the U.S., definitely in the world ...
Swisher: So question ... I’m sorry ...
Horowitz: ... to eliminate this clear and present danger.
Mossberg: And the question?
Horowitz: And the question is, what can we do right now?
Yeah. You know, I’m really glad you asked the question because I do think what he’s doing is very dangerous to our position in the world, our leadership, and the stability of the world. I mean, when you give a blank check to the Russians and the Saudis, and others who are in engaged in authoritarian and dictatorial regimes, you are sending a message, “We don’t care what you do.” And that message will be heard. Now, we weren’t always able to control what others did, but we sure made it clear we didn’t think it was a good idea to engage in invasions and mass murders and other things that we see from the Philippines to the Middle East. When you turn on your allies and you treat them with such disdain and contempt, our democratic NATO allies who have stood with us, who came to our aide after 9/11, you are sending a message that you don’t care about history, or even about the current problems that we face. Now, the only comfort I can get out of having lost in the way that I did and having the Russians play such a role is that Necron was ready and able to rebut that. He said, “I’m the Hillary Clinton of this election.”
And they had certain institutional and media predictions that we don’t have. But he also was really smart about how he dealt with it. And it also has given a lot of good understanding to Angela Merkel and her team as she moves towards her election, okay? And I think that is important because we need to reform democracies, we need to reform economies, we need to deal with some of the issues that are coming at us like artificial intelligence and robotics and what the heck we’re going to do with all these people who are not going to have jobs. There are lots of big questions that the democratic world has to face, including Israel.
But we cannot stand idly by and allow Trump to continue to undermine the very strong foundation based on values that we in democracies share. Politicians come and go, but these values and the role that they play in stabilizing the world after the worst war in humanity, is critically important. You mentioned climate change, apparently they’re debating in the White House whether to pull out of the Paris agreement. There are only two nations in the world that are not signatories to the Paris Agreement: Nicaragua and Syria. For the United States to throw our lot in with the very, very small number of countries that have turned their backs on climate change, is not only a breach of an agreement ... Usually when you come into office you can try to reform, maybe tinker with agreements, but part of what keeps us going is that America’s word is good and you stand with your prior administration, whether it was of your party or not.
They’re looking to throw all that out the window. But what’s really stupid about it is they’re throwing out the economic opportunities that being part of the Paris Agreement provide for the United States. That is what I find totally incomprehensible. Now, it is going to be interesting to see where they end up. The president is a very impulsive, reactive personality. So if we all like the Paris Agreement, he may decide to get out of it. Not even understanding one bit about what that means.
Or understanding the economic costs of it. You know, somebody is going to really ... probably more than one somebody, will really have the market for clean energy exports. China is moving full speed ahead to be that country. Some of the European countries, particularly when it comes to wind, are already there. Israel I know has some great research being done, particularly on solar. I mean, there’s a huge market that somebody’s going to own, and we’re giving it up. There will be entrepreneurs and businesses, you will do your best to be competitive, but you won’t have the full force and support of your government, and I think that is incredibly foolish.
Swisher: All right. Short questions so we can get to them.
Alexia Bonatsos: Hi Hillary.
Bonatsos: I’m Alexia Bonatsos. First off, thank you so much for what you have done for women [applause]. Thank you. So the present administration is very befuddling. This morning Spicer said that only the president and a small group of people knows what covfefe means. [WM and KS laugh] You’ve been a party to a lot of classified information.
Bonatsos: And you were at Donald Trump’s wedding.
Yeah [WM laughs].
Bonatsos: What do you know about him that we don’t, and how do you explain his bizarre behavior and appeal? [laughter, applause]
Swisher: That’s such a good question!
Ah, the small group explanation. You don’t have a high enough classification to know what covfefe mean [laughter]. You know, look. I was never even a social friend, it was kind of a lark to go to his third wedding [laughter, applause]. But I have to tell you, I sat behind Shaquille O’Neal, so I didn’t see anything [laughter, applause].
But, seriously. The behavior that we are now seeing was always present, but it was sort of subordinated to real estate interests, right? He started attacking Ronald Reagan in 1988. You know, “Our government is a disgrace ..." So he’s been an equal opportunity insulter going back many years. Started thinking about running for president in the ’90s. Latched onto the lie of the birther movement about President Obama, rode that as far as he could. But he does have a visceral grasp of America’s political underbelly.
He really understands how to inflame people, how to motivate them, how to bond with them. Over whatever their grievance is. Whatever resentment or point of anger that you may have, if he can get into it, whether it’s race or sex or xenophobia or anti ... Islamophobia, whatever it is. And so we’re seeing it on a broader stage. And it is deeply troubling for not only our politics but for our position in the world. And I think the best thing we can do is to continue to stand up, continue to defend the truth. You know, I gave a commencement speech at my alma mater and I quoted my predecessor in the Senate, Daniel Patrick Moynihan, with that famous remark, “Everybody’s entitled to his own opinion but no one is entitled to his own facts.” And that’s why we need the media, we need the tech world, we need the online world.
We need everybody to be calling them out on their outrageous lies and make it clear that we can have a debate about what is the best way to provide health care, we can have a debate about a budget, but when you present a budget with a trillion dollar mathematical error, it’s not like we’re going to ignore it. And I think the more voices that can be pushing back, especially in areas that you know things about, the better. And then I’ll just get back to politics and elections. We got to have your support here in California and across the country to try to take back the House and too, as Walt rightly says, field more people to run. And if you’ve ever been interested ... you know, Kara, if you’ve ever been interested in running, now is the time to get in there.
Swisher: I’ve got it.
And because I think people will be hungry for straight talking, common sense, factual information. We don’t want to act like the American public isn’t capable of making informed decisions. We just have to make sure the information we get is founded in evidence and reality. And then we can have a real debate.
Swisher: And you also have to be good with the Twitter. But go ahead.
Fred Davis: Hi, I’m Fred Davis, I live near you in New York. It’s the day before the election, maybe the morning of the election. From everything I’ve read, I hear you think you’re going to win.
Davis: Are those accounts accurate? Is the polling industry as inaccurate as we perceive it? And is there any quick suggestions to this crowd on how to fix it?
Well, Fred, yeah, I did think I was going to win. I spent the night before the election, I started in Philadelphia. We had a 40,000-person rally with Barack and Michelle and the president had been following it closely.
Those of you who know him, he was running his own polling, running his own analytics. And you know, and we thought we were going to win. That’s all I can tell you. We knew, I knew, that I’d taken a tremendous hit after the Comey letter. And then later I understood the role that WikiLeaks played in it. But the Comey letter was measurable. You could see my drop. So you know, I needed a big majority to come out of Philadelphia, which I got. Close to 500,000. And I needed about a 15 to 17 point lead to come out of the Philadelphia suburbs. Before the Comey letter, based on our polling, I had about a 22 point lead in the Philadelphia suburbs. After that letter, my momentum, particularly among women in the suburbs, stopped and dropped. So I won the suburbs, but I only won them by 10.
And that wasn’t enough. I mean, Pennsylvania’s always a tough state and you’ve got to come out of the city and suburbs and Pittsburgh and a few other places. Which I won! I won Pittsburgh, I won the country there, I won Scranton, I won the county there. But I just got killed out in the country and my numbers couldn’t hold me up. So yeah, we did think... I think polling is going to have to undergo some revisions in how they actually measure people. How they reach people. The best assessments as of right now are that the polling was not that inaccurate, but it was predominantly national polling, and I won nationally. What was not as obvious was what was happening in states where I was under a lot of pressure from Comey, WIkiLeaks, voter suppression, fake news, all of that. And that’s kind of what happened.
Swisher: Okay, Rob?
Rob: Secretary Clinton, good to see you.
Rob: As we discussed last night, you were originally on the Senate Watergate committee in the ’70s, so you know that part of it firsthand. What has to happen in 2018 to get robust activities in the House, particularly around an investigation? And to tie that back into your comments, how important is a democratic majority in your opinion to have a proper investigation into the Russia stuff and the kleptocracy and the other things that appear to be going on?
Well it’s critical, Rob. Now one would hope that more Republicans, as they did during the Watergate investigation, because as Rob said, I was on the impeachment enquiry staff of the house judiciary committee, and Republicans then were not happy about investigating a president of their own party, but they were open to the evidence. And we ran under the great leadership of the late John Doar, a meticulous investigation and presentation of facts.
We don’t have that right now in the Republican majority in the house, although they are continuing with the House investigation. And I’m hoping that that will building some momentum, because the Republicans have to be constantly pushed to put country above party. But I think it will more likely happen if we’re successful in taking back the house. That’s where investigations could come. Now, in the best of all worlds, if they would set up not a non-partisan, bi-partisan outside committee like we did for 9/11, and put people of unimpeachable integrity, both Republicans and Democrats, liberals and conservatives, but people who were willing to go where the facts led them, that would be ideal. I don’t see that happening right now.
The only point I would make is if the Republican leadership begins to believe that Trump is a big political burden to them, then they will begin to be more open to a more thorough investigation.
Mossberg: So what do you think the odds are that McConnell, not Ryan, but McConnell, will come to that conclusion?
It all depends upon the numbers.
Mossberg: You know this guy.
Yeah, I do. And it all depends upon the numbers. I think that the Senate intelligence committee is working very well together from everything that I can see. You’ve got the Republican chairman, Senator Berg, working with the Democratic vice chairman, Senator Warner. They are pursuing a lot of leads. So I think both ... I mean, the House Committee is trying. I have to commend Adam Schiff, if any of you are in his district he’s doing an amazing job [applause]. He’s just so thorough and he’s so clear.
So there are... there’s some movement. Now with the special prosecutor being appointed, and I served with him, when I was Secretary of State he was still at the FBI. He’s a man of great integrity. That will affect the pace of the investigation, it will affect what happened probably in the Congress, but it will move inexorably forward, because they will not be rebuffed the way that the Congress has been up until now.
Nilay Patel: Hi, Nilay Patel, the Verge. I’m from Wisconsin. Why didn’t you spend more time in Wisconsin?
Well, I will tell you. We thought we were doing really well in Wisconsin. I spent a lot of time in Pennsylvania, a lot of time in Florida. We sent a lot of great surrogates including Tim Kaine and others to Wisconsin.
We watched up until the very end how Russ Feingold was winning. And you know, you make these scheduling decisions based on the best information that you have, and it turned out that our information was not as reliable as I wished it had been.
Patel: Did you see that before, or is that in hindsight?
That’s in hindsight, yeah. The other thing that’s in hindsight which is really troubling is — since you’re from Wisconsin you may find this particularly interesting — the AP did a really well-researched piece about voter suppression in Wisconsin. And they literally found people who showed up to vote and were turned away, because Wisconsin under the current governor, Scott Walker, has been one of the leaders in voter suppression, making it difficult. So the 85-year-old woman who doesn’t have a photo ID because she doesn’t drive anymore shows up with her medicare card and her utility bills and they turn her away.
Or the African American. Or the veteran, also African American, who moves from Illinois to Wisconsin, registers to vote, gets on the rolls, but he still has his Illinois driver’s license, shows up, they turn him away. The best estimate is that 200,000 people in Wisconsin were either denied or chilled in their efforts to vote.
I don’t think we believed at the time before the election that it would be anything like that, anything as big as that. So, I will also say that I referenced earlier, there were all these Google searches going on about WikiLeaks, and they were particularly prevalent, very high incidents, in certain counties in Wisconsin. So you had counties that had voted for Obama and were not particularly keen about voting for Trump but worried that I was going to jail, worried that I was running a child trafficking operation in the basement of a pizzeria, the kind of things that were in WikiLeaks [laughter].
You laugh, people were obsessing over this stuff. Obsessing over it. And you put yourself in the position of a low-information voter, and all of a sudden your Facebook feed, your Twitter account is saying, “Oh my gosh, Hillary Clinton is running a child trafficking operation in Washington with John Podesta.” Well, you don’t believe it, but this has been such an unbelievable election, you kind of go, “Oh maybe I better look into that.”
Swisher: Yeah, and you are a lizard.
Yeah, and well, whatever I am, I’m everything. And so you being to get sucked into it. So some people stayed home, some people voted for Trump, some people stayed with me, and some people went third party, because they wanted to vote, they thought it was their duty, but they didn’t like Trump and now they thought I was as bad as they were being told. So it was a confluence of all kinds of things.
Samantha Miller: My name is Samantha Miller, I’m known for founding one of the first cannabis labs in the U.S. And what I wanted to say to you is that I’m inspired by you as a leader, not as a woman.
Mm, thank you, thank you very much [applause].
Miller: And one of the questions I often get asked as an executive, what is some advice you can give to young women who want to attain success? I always say to them, the one thing that I point to for young women is if you can shed the need for external validation, because that’s the thing that often keeps you out of the board room, that’s a huge step to your success. So I would really appreciate what your advice to women is who are trying to achieve those heights of success.
Well I would echo what you said. It is absolutely the case. You have to be better prepared than anybody. You have to know your stuff as well as you possibly can.
You have to be brave because there’s going to be a lot of setbacks and push-backs and all the things that go with it. And you have to be aware of what, up until now, has been a pretty predictable pattern. You know, Sheryl Sandberg writes about this in “Lean In” and the research is convincing. So, as a man gets more successful, regardless of his personality, he gets more likeable. As a woman gets more successful, regardless of her personality, she gets less likeable. It is just inverse. And you have to ... Eleanor Roosevelt said, “If you’re going to be a woman in the public arena, you have to grow skin as thick as the hyde of a rhinoceros.” And you really do have to be prepared. And it’s not just in politics, it’s in business, it’s in, you know, the tech world, it’s everywhere. And it’s not easy.
I mean, it’s really, really hard. And I just tell young women to develop more confidence in themselves. You know, I’ve hired lots of young people over the course of my long career, the private sector and the public sector, not-for-profit sector, and the conversation usually goes like this. You say to a young man, “I want to give you more responsibility, I want to give you a promotion, I want to pay you more.” And he goes, “Wow, great! I’m ready! Send me in!” Sometimes he says, “What took you so long?” in getting to that point.
But for a young woman, it’s like, “You think I’m good enough? You really do? You think I can do it?” Well I wouldn’t be asking you if I didn’t. But there is still, even for upwardly mobile, successful young women, those doubts, that sense of insecurity. And then when you’re bombarded with expectations about how you’re supposed to look and how you’re supposed to act and what you’re supposed to say and all the rest of it, it can become very disorienting.
So, I guess the final thing I would say is, it really is important both for men and women, for mothers and fathers, for employers of both genders, to be really ready to support young women, and to give them that confidence, that external confidence, but to do everything you can to help them weather all of the push-backs and knockdowns that are going to come their way. [applause]
Mossberg: All right, we only have time for one more question, and it goes back over here.
Swisher: So make it good.
Mossberg: Yeah, make it good.
Pete Pachal: All right, no pressure. Pete Pachal from Mashable. Looking at Twitter specifically, you spoke a little bit about Facebook, but on Twitter, if you weigh all its good qualities of bringing realtime information to pretty much everyone, and its bad qualities of basically rewarding sass over substance, and generally not having a lot of nuance, do you think it has been bad or good for our national discourse in the United States?
Wow. Haha. Hmm. I think it has certainly provided, as you say, positive information, quick turn-around information, to a very large audience. But I think it has become victimized by deliberate efforts to shape the conversation, and push it towards conspiracies, lies, false information. And I think it’s the same problem that Facebook faces, that when you try to be all things to all people and you try to open up your platform so that people can come in, and you want to be influential because you expect people will actually tune you in and read and watch what you have, what do you do to try and contain the weaponization and manipulation of that information? I don’t think we know yet.
And I have a lot of sympathy at this point. Kara doesn’t, but I do [KS laughs] for people trying to make these decisions. I would just urge them to hurry up. Because even if you err slightly more on the curating editorial decision-making, so some voices are going to be cut off, some fake news outlets, the guys in Macedonia are going to be denied entry into your platform, I’d rather see us erring on that side for a while to see what the effects are, instead of being kind of overwhelmed by the challenge, like, “What do you do?” I mean, how do you try and determine who should or shouldn’t be on your site? And so I think it’s a mixed bag.
Let me just pose this question: Who is behind driving up Trump’s Twitter followers by the millions? We know they’re bots. Why? I assume there’s a reason for everything. Is it to make him look more popular than he is? Is it to try to influence others on Twitter about what the messaging is so that people get caught up in it and lose sight of what they’re trying to say?
Mossberg: Well, it puts the Tweets on more feeds. More people’s feeds see the Tweets.
Yeah, that’s my point. You’ve got millions of people ... the bots are coming in, you’ve got these repetitive arguments, you’re driving up his numbers. But what is it you’re trying to achieve? What is the message behind this? So you’re sitting in Moscow or Macedonia or the White House, wherever you are [laughter], and you’re saying, you know ... [WM laughs]
Mossberg: Just three random places.
That trip may not have worked out so well, you know, there’s no blowback.
Mossberg: Really, pushing the guy. ..
Pushing the guy, failing to reaffirm our commitment to NATO, all of that. And how do we recover from that? Well, we begin to divert people again. I mean, you can’t let Trump and his allies be a diversion. They are a threat. And they have been effective up until now. So Twitter is a perfect example. You’re going to drive up the numbers. You’ve got more people chasing rabbits down rabbit holes, you’ve got all kinds of stuff happening. Why? To divert attention. It’s like covfefe, trending, world wide. Maybe for a minute you’ll forget the latest accusations about them conspiring with Russia, or their trillion dollar mathematical mistake in their budget, or depriving 23 million people of health care.
You know, it’s the circus. Right? It’s what a classic authoritarian does. It’s not just about influencing your institutions, your values. They want to influence your reality. And that to me is what we’re up against. And we can’t let that go unanswered, whether it’s on Twitter, Facebook, or anywhere else [applause].
Swisher: Let’s end on that. That’s brilliant. Everybody, Hillary Clinton [applause].
This article originally appeared on Recode.net.