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9 questions for Fareed Zakaria

The CNN host on reading Tocqueville and what he got wrong about Trump.

Javier Zarracina

This week, Fareed Zakaria, author and host of CNN’s GPS, answers our questions.

What’s the first piece of media you consume every day?

I'd love to give say something more surprising but, invariably, it's the New York Times, followed closely by the Washington Post. After that, it varies widely.

Name a writer or publication you disagree with but still read.

The Wall Street Journal editorial page, most of the time an intelligent and essential voice in American political life.

Who is the person who has most influenced the way you think?

If you mean anyone, anytime, Alexis de Tocqueville. More directly, my dissertation advisor, Samuel Huntington. He was a longtime Harvard professor, probably the most important political scientist of the second half of the 20th century. He wrote brilliantly in many different fields, including anticipating the cultural nationalism that has swept the Western world these days.

When was the last time you changed your mind about something?

Well, I was dead wrong about Trump's prospects for victory. I understood the concerns people had but I didn't believe that they would choose as their vehicle someone as conspicuously flawed as Trump. It has made me change my understanding of why people vote. It's less about the issues and more about gut appeal.

What’s your worst intellectual habit?

Wasting time reading blogs, magazines, newspapers. They have their place but they can become an addiction. And the real ways to gain understanding about issues are reading books and traveling.

What inspires you to learn?

I'm deeply curious. Growing up, my brother always did better than me on tests. But I've always been curious about almost everything. I love to learn.

What do you need to believe in order to get through the day?

I'm an optimist. It's not difficult.

What’s a view that you hold but can’t defend?

That my children are the most special, lovely, interesting children in the world.

What book have you recommended the most?

Democracy in America by Alexis de Tocqueville and Political Order in Changing Societies by Samuel Huntington.

You can read last week’s edition of 9 Questions with Mark Cuban here.

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