PBS NewsHour full episode, Dec 20, 2019

PBS NewsHour full episode, Dec 20, 2019


JUDY WOODRUFF: Good evening. I’m Judy Woodruff. On the “NewsHour” tonight: PETE BUTTIGIEG (D), Presidential Candidate:
And I was going to let it go, because we got bigger fish to fry here. But you implied that my… SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D-MN), Presidential Candidate:
Oh, I don’t think we have bigger fish to fry than picking a president of the United States. JUDY WOODRUFF: Democrats take the stage. The leading candidates to challenge President
Trump clash over corruption, relations with China and more. Then: remain in Mexico. The Trump administration forces asylum seekers
to wait in extremely dangerous areas while the U.S. considers their claims. DELMARY ARIAS, Asylum Seeker (through translator):
Psychologically, it really impacts you, because I arrived fleeing a country, and they put
me in a country even worse than El Salvador. I don’t have any protection. I thought I would have protection in the U.S. JUDY WOODRUFF: And it’s Friday. Mark Shields and David Brooks examine a historic
week in Washington, after President Trump becomes only the third American president
to be impeached. All that and more on tonight’s “PBS NewsHour.” (BREAK) JUDY WOODRUFF: In Los Angeles, they faced
off for the final time this year, seven candidates at last night’s “PBS NewsHour”/Politico debate
jockeying to become the Democrat with a chance to unseat President Trump. They jousted over policy, political influence,
and who among them was the best equipped to take on the president in 2020. John Yang begins our look. JOHN YANG: The tone of the “PBS NewsHour”/Politico
debate turned on a dime from civil to contentious. The spark? Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren calling
out South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, over fund-raising, specifically a fund-raiser
he attended this past weekend hosted by Napa Valley winery owners. SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA), Presidential Candidate:
the mayor just recently had a fund-raiser that was held in a wine cave full of crystals
and served $900-a-bottle wine. Think about who comes to that. He had promised that every fund-raiser he
would do would be open door, but this one was closed door. We made the decision many years ago that rich
people in smoke-filled rooms would not pick the next president of the United States. PETE BUTTIGIEG (D), Presidential Candidate:
This is the problem with issuing purity tests you cannot yourself pass. (CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) PETE BUTTIGIEG: If I pledge — if I pledge
never to be in the company of a progressive Democratic donor, I couldn’t be up here. Senator, your net worth is 100 times mine. JOHN YANG: Buttigieg and Warren are competing
for the same supporters: college-educated white voters. The mayor also clashed with Minnesota Senator
Amy Klobuchar, who contrasted her election successes with his failures. SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D-MN), Presidential Candidate:
We should have someone heading up this ticket that has actually won and been able to show
that they can gather the support that you talk about of moderate Republicans and independents,
as well as a fired-up Democratic base, and not just done it once; I have done it three
times. I think winning matters. PETE BUTTIGIEG: If you want to talk about
the capacity to win, try putting together a coalition to bring you back to office with
80 percent of the vote as a gay dude in Mike Pence’s Indiana. (CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR: Again, I would — Mayor, if
you — if you had won in Indiana, that would be one thing. You tried and you lost by 20 points. JOHN YANG: Another fault line? Health care. Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders supports Medicare
for all, while former Vice President Joe Biden wants to expand a public option. JOSEPH BIDEN (D), Presidential Candidate:
Sixteen percent of the American public is on Medicare now and everybody has a tax taken
out of their paycheck now. Tell me, you’re going to add 84 percent more
and there’s not going to be higher taxes? At least before he was honest about it. SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT), Presidential Candidate:
Joe… JOSEPH BIDEN: It’s going to increase personal
taxes. There are going to be… SEN. BERNIE SANDERS: That’s right. We are going to increase personal taxes. But we’re eliminating premiums, we’re eliminating
co-payments, we’re eliminating deductibles, we’re eliminating all out-of-pocket expenses,
and no family in America will spend more than $200 a year on prescription drugs. JOHN YANG: Two lower-tier candidates who made
last night’s more select debate stage sought to take advantage of the platform. Tech entrepreneur Andrew Yang noted that he
was the only candidate of color in the debate. ANDREW YANG (D), Presidential Candidate: I
grew up the son of immigrants, and I had many racial epithets used against me as a kid. But black and Latinos have something much
more powerful working against them than words. They have numbers. The average net worth of a black household
is only 10 percent that of a white household. Fewer than 5 percent of Americans donate to
political campaigns. You know what you need to donate to political
campaigns? Disposable income. I guarantee, if we had a freedom dividend
of $1,000 a month, I would not be the only candidate of color on this stage tonight. JOHN YANG: Billionaire activist Tom Steyer
discussed race in the context of President Trump’s immigration policies. TOM STEYER (D), Presidential Candidate: I
think it’s important to note that this president is not against immigration. He’s against immigration by nonwhite people. This is a racial argument by a racist president
who’s trying to divide us and who’s vilifying people. It’s absolutely wrong. And it’s led him to break the laws of humanity
in our name. JOHN YANG: The night also featured the most
in-depth discussion of foreign policy so far this cycle, from China’s human rights record. JOSEPH BIDEN: A million Uyghurs, as you pointed
out, Muslims, are in concentration camps. That’s where they are right now. They’re being abused. They are in concentration camps. JOHN YANG: To the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. SEN. BERNIE SANDERS: What U.S. foreign policy must
be about is not just being pro-Israel. We must be pro-Palestinian as well. JOHN YANG: Despite lively disagreements on
policy, the candidates didn’t lose sight of one issue that unites them. PETE BUTTIGIEG: This is our chance, this is
our only chance to defeat Donald Trump. JOHN YANG: A point that polls show Democratic
voters also in strong agreement. For the “PBS NewsHour,” I’m John Yang. JUDY WOODRUFF: In the day’s other news: Brexit
is one step closer to becoming a reality. British lawmakers in the House of Commons
approved Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s bill paving the way for the U.K. to leave the European
Union. But it still requires the approval of Parliament’s
upper chamber, the House of Lords. Johnson’s Conservative majority in Parliament
means that it is all but certain the bill will become law. But he still appealed for unity. BORIS JOHNSON, British Prime Minister: This
bill and this juncture in our national story, Mr. Speaker, must not be seen as a victory
for one party over another or one faction over another. This is the time when we move on and discard
the old labels of leave and remain. JUDY WOODRUFF: The United Kingdom is set to
leave the E.U. on January 31. Envoys from Russia and China today blocked
a United Nations resolution that would have renewed cross-border humanitarian aid deliveries
into war-torn Syria. The U.N. Security Council failed to get enough
votes to pass the resolution, which would have allowed the aid to flow through Turkey
and Iraq. Those border crossings have been used since
2014 to provide urgently needed aid to millions of Syrian civilians. In Australia, two firefighters died overnight
as they battled flames that have engulfed the country’s East Coast. Prime Minister Scott Morrison, under mounting
criticism, cut his Hawaiian vacation short to respond to the crisis. Martha Fairlie of Independent Television News
narrates our report. MARTHA FAIRLIE: With more than 100 wildfires
raging across New South Wales, a seven-day state of emergency has been declared. And Australia’s most populous state is now
mourning the loss of two volunteer firefighters as they responded to the fires. Geoffrey Keaton and Andrew O’Dwyer were killed
when a tree fell on their truck. But shock has turned to anger, and now there’s
added fury, after it was revealed the prime minister has been on holiday with his family
in Hawaii while the wildfires burn. He’s been forced to cut short his trip and
apologize in a radio interview. SCOTT MORRISON, Australian Prime Minister:
I know that Australians would want me back at this time, after these fatalities. And I’m — I will happily come back and do
that. MARTHA FAIRLIE: The prime minister is expected
to return to Australia this weekend, just as another warning of catastrophic bushfire
danger is issued for Saturday. Almost 1,000 homes have been burned down in
the past six weeks. And with record temperatures twice this week,
there is little anyone can do to stop the flames. WOMAN: Yesterday was hell. MAN: Just a huge wall of flames just came. I had to hide behind the corner as it was
coming. And I just sort of had the hose on me. And I stood up. And it was still intensely hot. I sort of burned my arm. MARTHA FAIRLIE: And while authorities in New
South Wales are warning people not to travel until after this weekend, residents living
in the path of the wildfires are being forced to move out of their homes just before Christmas. JUDY WOODRUFF: That report from Martha Fairlie
of Independent Television News. There are new warnings about the devastating
impact deforestation has had on the world’s largest rain forest. A report in the journal “Science Advances”
said that the Amazon has now reached a — quote — “tipping point.” Scientists warned that, at the current rate,
parts of the rain forest could dry up into a savanna and release billions of tons of
carbon into the atmosphere. In India, thousands defied a government-imposed
public assembly ban for another day to rally against a new citizenship law. Indian authorities cut Internet service to
disrupt organizers. In northern Uttar Pradesh, police used sticks
to beat back protesters. And, in New Delhi, more than 10,000 demonstrators
took to the streets to denounce the government for granting citizenship to non-Muslim migrants
in India illegally. RAHIM, Protester (through translator): You
are leaving out people from one religion and including everyone else. What kind of politics is this? The public is not stupid. We know well what they want to do and what
they don’t want to do. JUDY WOODRUFF: At least 14 people have died
and 4,000 more have been detained since nationwide demonstrations broke out last week. Back in this country, House Speaker Nancy
Pelosi invited President Trump to deliver his annual State of the Union address on February
4. The president accepted the invitation, which
came two days after the Democratic-led House of Representatives voted to impeach him. His prime-time speech will take place on the
day after the Iowa presidential primary caucuses, and could coincide with the Senate’s impeachment
trial, which has yet to be scheduled. An unmanned Boeing space capsule launched
into the wrong orbit during a test flight today, after an error with its internal timer
charted a wayward course. The starliner took off from the Cape Canaveral,
Florida, base bound for the International Space Station. But NASA canceled the plan after seeing the
error. It is expected to return to Earth as early
as Sunday. The mission is part of Boeing’s efforts to
send astronauts to space for NASA next year. Ford Motor Company is recalling more than
600,000 mid-size sedans in the U.S. over brake issues. A normally closed valve in the braking system
can stick open, extending the stopping distance and increasing the risk of a crash. The recall affects Ford Fusions, Mercury Milans
and Lincoln MKZs from the model years 2006 to 2010. And stocks made broad gains on Wall Street
today, as the major indexes again reached record closing highs. The Dow Jones industrial average rose 78 points
to close at 28455. The Nasdaq was up more than 37 points, and
the S&P 500 added nearly 16. Still to come on the “NewsHour”: a new report
uncovers alarming details inside immigrant detention facilities across the U.S.; a story
from the border on the Trump administration’s remain-in-Mexico policy; Mark Shields and
David Brooks analyze a historic week in Washington; and director Greta Gerwig discusses the latest
film adaptation of the classic novel “Little Women.” A
news investigation is revealing how fast the growth has been of for-profit prisons being
used to house immigrants. As William Brangham explains, while it has
generated tremendous profits for the industry, it has also evidently caused hundreds of cases
of alleged abuse and mistreatment in those facilities. WILLIAM BRANGHAM: That’s right, Judy. Since President Trump took office, the business
of housing immigrants has exploded. According to a new investigation by USA Today,
24 centers and 17,000 new beds have been added in the last three years. While these private companies are meant to
save money and to operate more efficiently, the team at USA Today documented poor conditions,
over 400 cases of sexual assault or abuse, and at least 29 deaths, including seven suicides. Alan Gomez is one of the many reporters who
worked on the series, and he joins me now. Alan, welcome back to the “NewsHour.” Before we talk about the growth of this industry
that you document so clearly in your series, can you tell us a little bit about the people
who are being held in these facilities? Who are they? ALAN GOMEZ, USA Today: Yes, the vast majority,
to make this point from the very beginning, are not convicted criminals; 67 percent of
the roughly 50,000 people in ICE custody are people who are being held just until they
get to their next immigration court hearing or until they’re deported. Those are mostly undocumented immigrants who’ve
either been picked up by ICE in the interior of the country or people who have crossed
the southern border illegally. And it’s important to note that 26 percent
of these people, close to 12,000 of them, are being held solely as they await a hearing
for asylum. They have approached the southern border. They have requested asylum there. And they are being detained for weeks, months
at a time just as they await their asylum hearing. WILLIAM BRANGHAM: One of your stories also
documented some very serious accounts of abuse, deaths, assault, mistreatment. Can you give us a bigger sense of what you
found? ALAN GOMEZ: Yes, I mean, it runs — runs the
gamut of what you just kind of listed there. Every detainee that we spoke to — and we
spoke to at least 35 current and former detainees. All of them complained about the treatment
that they received from the guards as being verbally abusive, as being physically abusive,
taunting them with racial slurs, all sorts of things like that. We heard a lot of complaints about the medical
care that they receive in these facilities. I spoke to one woman who was — whose cancer
was in remission while she was being held in ICE custody, and she said that she’d go
up to two or three weeks without getting her cancer medication. Her cancer eventually returned. And we found a lot of cases of people being
thrown in solitary confinement for what they describe as very minor violations while they’re
in these facilities. We found people who will just try to conduct
peaceful sit-ins or hunger strikes getting either assaulted or being put in solitary
confinement as punishment. And the reason so much of this is so hard
to comprehend, it’s — this shouldn’t even be allowed into a prison, some of these conditions
that we found, but it’s — but, again, immigration detention is supposed to be civil in nature. It’s not supposed to be corrective. It’s not supposed to be punitive, which is
what makes these findings all the more egregious. WILLIAM BRANGHAM: What about this issue of
oversight? In your report, you identified — you and
a government watchdog identified almost 16,000 violations of detention standards. And yet you report that more than 90 percent
of those facilities received passing grades by government inspectors. I mean, who is supposed to be the cop on the
beat here? ALAN GOMEZ: Well, that’s one of the major
problems that we found in this system. ICE uses either five or six different methods
to inspect these facilities, all of which the Department of Homeland Security’s inspector
general has said are deficient. They don’t do a good enough job of either
analyzing the conditions that are in these facilities, or even some of the methods that
they use that might be up to par just aren’t done enough. And so what you have are these situations
where facilities, they will check for certain things, but we will look — we have looked
at inspection reports where they will show dozens of cases of sexual assault, of physical
force against detainees, and they get a passing grade and laudatory comments from inspectors. And one of the problems there that we found
is that the majority — that most of the inspections that are done are announced ahead of time. We have spoken with the people who do the
inspections who say that unannounced inspections would probably be better. Some of the private companies that run these
facilities have said, sure, we will take that. We will take on unannounced visits. We’re happy. We’re confident we can do that. But it’s ICE that pushes back. They say that these unannounced inspections
might cause a — quote — “disruption ‘to the facilities, and that they just want to
ensure that the proper people that they need to talk to are there on the day that they
visit. So there’s a lot of questions about that inspection
process that we found throughout this investigation. WILLIAM BRANGHAM: You touched on this issue
of — you have talked to some of the heads of these companies that have been accused
of some of these abuses. What is their reaction to this? Do they — are they saying, look, we’re trying
to do our best and sometimes these accidents occur? How do they respond to your reporting? ALAN GOMEZ: I mean, what they say is that
— we talked to the head of CoreCivic, which is one of the largest companies that runs
these facilities, and some of the senior leadership at the GEO Group, who also — those are the
two big giants in the field. And both of them say that they have been doing
this work each for over 35 years, they have usually done it without any big problems,
but then all of a sudden now there’s this blowback against them, which they blame on
a combination of who’s in the White House, a very hyper-politicized climate right now,
and the fact that they say that they have been improperly, kind of — that people in
the country have improperly attributed what we saw on the southern border last year to
these companies. To be clear, they’re right. Those — everything we saw over the last couple
of summers, with all these people in overcrowded Border Patrol facilities, that is separate
and apart from what we’re talking about here. These folks run detention centers for ICE
in the interior of the country. And so, yes, they say it’s a lot of misunderstanding,
it’s a lot of just unfair publicity on them. But they say that they run very efficient,
very safe facilities for all these detainees. WILLIAM BRANGHAM: All right, Alan Gomez of
USA Today, thank you very much for this really, really interesting series. ALAN GOMEZ: Thanks for having me. JUDY WOODRUFF: In our second focus on immigration
tonight, a new study shows that one in four legal asylum seekers who were forced to remain
in Mexico while their cases are considered have been threatened with physical violence. That is according to the U.S. Immigration
Policy Center at University of California, San Diego. Our White House correspondent, Yamiche Alcindor,
traveled to Mexico to see firsthand the impact the Trump administration’s asylum policy is
having on thousands of migrants applying for protection. YAMICHE ALCINDOR: In a two-room shack in Mexico,
Delmary Arias is hoping for healing and dreaming of a safer future. She and her 9-year-old daughter, Allison,
are trying to seek asylum in the United States, but the process has been deeply traumatic. The two fled El Salvador and now live with
fellow asylum seekers. They are navigating an increasingly difficult
U.S. immigration system. DELMARY ARIAS, Asylum Seeker (through translator):
I left because my ex-partner was threatening me. He threatened to kill me. And my daughter was at risk because she had
been touching her. I made this decision and fled for the U.S. YAMICHE ALCINDOR: In May, they traveled by
bus through dangerous parts of Central America and Mexico. They made it to Tijuana eight days later,
and then crossed into the United States, where they applied for asylum. DELMARY ARIAS (through translator): I jumped
the fence and turned myself in. They detained us, then they sent us to Mexico. YAMICHE ALCINDOR: Like tens of thousands of
other migrants, she was forced to return to Mexico as part of the Trump administration’s
migrant protection protocols program. Asylum seekers say it offers no protection,
since they are sent to wait out their cases in cities that even the State Department considers
some of the most dangerous in the world. Often, these are places where drug cartels
and violent gangs prey on vulnerable migrants. That’s what happened to Arias. She and her daughter were kidnapped while
running errands in Tijuana. desperate to survive, she gave her abductors
her family’s phone number. DELMARY ARIAS (through translator): They told
them, if they didn’t pay $10,000, they were going to start cutting off our body parts,
beginning with my daughter. When my family said no, they hit me because
they thought I was lying. YAMICHE ALCINDOR: She was freed after two
days by giving one of the kidnappers all of her belongings and money that she had in her
purse, a little less than $200. DELMARY ARIAS (through translator): Thank
God they let my daughter and me go, and they didn’t hurt us. It’s something traumatic and psychological. I can’t get over it. I don’t go out anywhere. I stay inside. YAMICHE ALCINDOR: You fled violence in one
country and then experienced it in another. What is that like? DELMARY ARIAS (through translator): Psychologically,
it really impacts you, because I arrived fleeing a country, and they put me in a country even
worse than El Salvador. I don’t have any protection. I thought I would have protection in the U.S.,
that it would give me support. YAMICHE ALCINDOR: We questioned U.S. Customs
and Border Protection acting Commissioner Mark Morgan about whether the program was
exposing asylum seekers to unnecessary risk. MARK MORGAN, Acting Director, Immigration
and Customs Enforcement: We’re working with the government in Mexico. They have promised, right, they have committed
that they will do everything they can to provide adequate protection and shelter for those
individuals waiting in Mexico under the MPP program. YAMICHE ALCINDOR: Since launching the program
in January, the administration has sent roughly 60,000 asylum seekers back to Mexico. According to a new report by the advocacy
group Human Rights First, there have been more than 630 violent crimes against migrants
who are forced back to Mexico. Conditions have been so bad that migrants
have blocked bridges on the border and held protests against the Trump policy. And there are Mexican officials to deal with,
too. An asylum seeker we interviewed in Southern
Mexico said Mexican immigration authorities blocked her from returning to the U.S. for
a hearing. NORA MARTINEZ, Asylum Seeker (through translator):
They detained us and told us our visas wasn’t valid. We went to immigration, and they said what
Mexico wanted was to get rid of people. They destroyed our visas, and they said, if
we tried to travel again, they would detain us again. YAMICHE ALCINDOR: Mexican immigration officials
didn’t respond to repeated requests for an interview. DONALD TRUMP, President of the United States:
This wall can’t be climbed. It’s just very, very hard. YAMICHE ALCINDOR: President Trump rose to
power on promises to build a wall on the southern border, a wall that would theoretically keep
some people out, but not those who apply for asylum. That’s where the new policy comes in. KELLY OVERTON, Border Kindness: It’s an administrative
wall. It’s a bureaucratic wall. It denies people the ability to legally seek
asylum. YAMICHE ALCINDOR: Kelly Overton Heads Border
Kindness, a nonprofit that provides support for migrants. KELLY OVERTON: When they do seek asylum, when
they present themselves at a point of entry, they almost immediately or within days are
sent back to Mexico to wait for hearings. YAMICHE ALCINDOR: We visited a shelter in
Mexicali, near the U.S. border, that the organization helps fund. Many of the people we met are caught in a
loop, shuttled back and forth over the border. KELLY OVERTON: And then this dance begins,
this dance of hearings and court dates and such, in different locations far away, that
basically allows the United States to outwait these people, to stall. YAMICHE ALCINDOR: Parents told us conditions
are extremely stressful. A family of six we met couldn’t tolerate life
in a shelter. They say they now rent a small room from a
Mexican woman. But Overton says he has seen them sleeping
on the streets. This is where the mother, Hilda Agustin, spends
much of her time, on the border selling snacks to people headed to the place she wants to
go to most, the U.S. She is from a small indigenous village in
Guatemala. Both she and her husband speak a Mayan dialect
and struggle to communicate in Spanish. Like many we spoke to, Agustin is fleeing
violence. HILDA AGUSTIN, Asylum Seeker (through translator):
I was scared for my kids. My oldest was shaking with fear. These bad men came into our home asking for
money. They threatened to kill my husband. This went on for a year, them threatening
us. They told me, if we didn’t give them money,
they would kill us. YAMICHE ALCINDOR: Agustin and her family traveled
by bus from Guatemala. They turned themselves in when they arrived
at the U.S. border and applied for asylum. When they were sent back to Mexico, they faced
more threats. HILDA AGUSTIN (through translator): A man
here said they were going to take my kids, they were going to kidnap them. So I never leave them alone, and my husband
helps watch them. YAMICHE ALCINDOR: The day after we met her,
Agustin and other migrants took an early bus to make it back to their next hearing in San
Diego more than 120 miles away. We’re about two hours from San Diego on our
way to Tijuana. People take chartered bus routes like this,
hoping it will be safer than other routes where people have been attacked and even kidnapped. The next day’s hearing was all Agustin could
think about. HILDA AGUSTIN (through translator): I’m worried
about the answer the judge will decide. We’re nervous and afraid to talk to the judge
again. It’s very difficult to travel back and forth
with the kids, and take the bus again. YAMICHE ALCINDOR: Most of the passengers were
returning to San Diego for their asylum hearings, too. After spending a night in a Mexican hotel
paid for by a nonprofit, the migrants we followed went to the border. They have to cross on foot and wait for U.S.
immigration authorities to take them to their hearings. Armed guards direct them on and off of buses
with metal screens and bars. We couldn’t film inside the court, but we
were able to sit in Agustin’s hearing. The judge said her application was still incomplete
and suggested she get legal help. Only about 1 percent of those seeking asylum
have legal representation. The U.S. doesn’t offer free legal assistance
to asylum seekers. Advocates say most migrants can’t afford to
hire an attorney. They also say many attorneys who might help
for free are too scared to travel to dangerous parts of Mexico where migrants wait out their
cases. According to an ACLU federal lawsuit, the
Trump administration is impeding asylum seekers from exercising their right to counsel. The families we have been following have been
told they have to come back for yet more hearings in January. This means they will be sent back to Mexico
yet again. Some will likely give up. One of the most vulnerable people we met,
kidnapping victim Delmary Arias, was actually granted asylum. She is now living in the Washington, D.C.
area. Activists and immigration lawyers say she
is a rare case, even if she doesn’t feel particularly lucky. DELMARY ARIAS (through translator): Only those
who have experienced it know what someone suffers here with their children. YAMICHE ALCINDOR: For the “PBS NewsHour,”
I’m Yamiche Alcindor on the U.S.-Mexico border. JUDY WOODRUFF: It has been a week of political
news unlike any other in recent years, the impeachment of an American president one day,
a debate featuring his main election rivals the next. That is what brings us to the analysis of
Shields and Brooks this week. That’s syndicated columnist Mark Shields and
New York Times columnist David Brooks. Hello to both of you. MARK SHIELDS: Judy. JUDY WOODRUFF: So, historic, yes. Mark, as we have been saying over and over,
only the third American president to be impeached. What did you make of the debate in the House
of Representatives and how the vote emerged? MARK SHIELDS: The debate itself, there weren’t
individual moments, I didn’t think, that were spectacular. It was pretty obvious that the two parties
had a little different approach. The Democrats were there to show sort of the
extent and breadth and width of their biography and what brought them to this point. The Republicans seemed to have the consistent
thesis of simply going after the process itself, never really defending the president, because
unlike either President Clinton or President Nixon, President Trump is uncontrite. He acknowledges doing nothing wrong. I mean, remember Richard Nixon saying, I let
my people down, and Bill Clinton being humiliated and embarrassed for what he’d done. So, that, to me — but, I mean, as far as
eloquence was concerned, very few moments, but high drama. And Nancy Pelosi was very much in charge. Some Democrats, when the vote came in, started
to cheer, applaud. She immediately said, no, this is serious. We’re not — this isn’t a football rally. I mean, this is history. JUDY WOODRUFF: How did you hear it and see
it, David? DAVID BROOKS: Yes. I sort of wish we had had — that Republicans
had put up what I think is their best case, which was that this doesn’t rise to the level
of impeachment. They can’t make the case it didn’t happen. But they could make a case it doesn’t rise
to the level of impeachment. Or they could make the case that, if we set
this standard, pretty much every president is going to come under impeachment for this. They could go back in history, Iran-Contra,
and they could say, look, every president messes up in some very serious way — almost
every president, many presidents. And if we set this standard, we will be just
impeaching people for years and years. I don’t think Lyndon Johnson, if it — was
he held to this kind of standard? You don’t — I think you could go down the
list and find a lot of presidents who would be impeached. I think that’s their best argument. And they can’t really make that argument. But that would — that would have been an
interesting case to make. As for the vote, I was a little surprised
how party-line it was, just extremely few defections. And I think, for Democrats, some for whom
it’s a tough vote, I think, one, the conviction that he really did do it, he really does deserve
to be impeached, second, that impeachment is probably not the top issue in their home
districts, so they can probably get away with it. And, third, party loyalty and party-line spirit
is now just a dominant force on Capitol Hill. JUDY WOODRUFF: Were you surprised so few Democratic
defections? MARK SHIELDS: I was. I mean, it was a tough vote for especially
a lot of those freshmen who are in districts that the president won. I thought the Republicans’ arguments were
not flawed simply. David, I think this was talking about an election. I mean, this wasn’t talking about doing deals
or something of the sort. This was talking about tampering with the
American electoral process and what he was doing. And I just thought the Republicans falsely
arguing that the Democrats were doing this because they couldn’t beat Donald Trump in
2020, when the Wall Street Journal/NBC poll comes out this week and says 34 percent of
American voters say they will vote for him regardless of who the Democrats run against
him, and 48 percent said they will vote against him regardless implement of whom the Democrats
run. I mean, so he’s just in terrible shape. He’s deep south. So this wasn’t — Nancy Pelosi came to this
quite reluctantly. She wasn’t an enthusiastic supporter. But I just think… JUDY WOODRUFF: Months ago, many months ago. MARK SHIELDS: But she just realized that not
to do it, not to do it, in the face of the evidence, would have been worse than a terrible
precedent. DAVID BROOKS: Just to underline something
Mark said, a lot of Democrats, I think, and I spoke to this week, think that Trump will
win. I just don’t — look at the evidence, and
I do not see that. The former Republican political consultant
Mike Murphy said, there have been some like 20 or 300 elections, local — state and local
elections, since Trump took over, and Republicans have been slaughtered in almost all of them. So why do we think, when he’s losing by 7,
8 percentage points to almost every potential Democratic nominee — so I don’t quite understand
the sense of pessimism on the Democratic Party or the strength of that argument that they’re
only doing it to… (CROSSTALK) JUDY WOODRUFF: OK, I’m marking this down,
December 20, 2019, David. (CROSSTALK) JUDY WOODRUFF: But, David, what about the
president’s reaction, though? He had that, I think it’s fair to say, pretty
angry rally on the night of the vote, and had some pretty beyond tough, ugly things
to say about people, including the late John Dingell. DAVID BROOKS: Right. Well, what he said there was just simply repulsive,
talking about the late John Dingell and talking about his wife, Debbie Dingell. And that was just repulsive. And it never ceases to amaze me that even
supporters of his don’t say, hey, that’s awful. And they just — they never respond. I think he, in a weird way, revels in anger,
and revels in the confrontation, the angry confrontation. He sort of whipped up that atmosphere in the
rallies when he ran the first time. And this is sort of catnip to him. Whether his base is big enough that — but
they are certainly riled up, and this impeachment process certainly gives a — some fuel to
rile each other up. MARK SHIELDS: Yes, there’s there’s sort of
a phony, false bravado about the whole thing. I mean, the day that the House Judiciary Committee
voted to impeach, Rudy Giuliani comes to the White House with new information. I got new information. The day he got his get out of jail card from
Robert Mueller’s less than vehement testimony on the Mueller commission, that’s the day
he picks up the phone and calls President Zelensky. It’s sort of, I got to show them. I just thought every president, every candidate
who does well has something that he or she does well. Jimmy Carter did small groups better than
anybody I have ever seen. Richard Nixon was very compelling in a question-and-answer
situation. Ronald Reagan did the auditorium speech. Donald Trump has mastered the rally of raw
meat to the true believers. And it was a — it didn’t work. It was out of sync. He was out of sync. The crowd didn’t get it, behind him. And to go after John Dingell, the man who
had defended, was the savior of the auto industry in Michigan, and his widow, I mean, he actually
did get public rebuke from other Republicans. JUDY WOODRUFF: Just quickly to both of you,
what about Speaker Pelosi’s move, David, and then Mark, to hold back on sending these articles
over to the Senate? DAVID BROOKS: Yes, I think it’s very risky. As Mitch McConnell said, why is withholding
something I don’t want to do, why is that leverage? And so it was always going to be a reality
that, once the House voted to impeach, they were going to lose control of the process. And they have essentially lost control of
the process. That was just — that’s just baked into the
Republican Senate majority. And so they can try to use withholding to
impeach — to sort of leverage over McConnell. I don’t think it’s very powerful leverage. I think it delays what eventually will be
a trial, pushing it, frankly, back into primary season. And it looks — makes it look a little more
political. So I get the frustration. We don’t want to hand this to a process that
we don’t like. But I think it’s very risky to withhold. MARK SHIELDS: It’s a bargaining device. There’s no question about it. But when I see Joe Manchin, probably the most
threatened Democrat in the country, in West Virginia, say that the whole process I preempted
by Mitch McConnell colluding with the defendant to go public like that indicates to me that
there are votes to bring witnesses. And I don’t think it’s only — if Joe Manchin
is saying that, then there are a number of Republicans. So I think this is — this is political hardball,
make no mistake about it, and Donald Trump is playing against a real pro. JUDY WOODRUFF: All right, to the debate, to
the seven people on the stage in Los Angeles last night. David, the “NewsHour” was honored to be hosting
that, along with Politico. But you watched it. What did you think of them? DAVID BROOKS: Well, it was the best debate,
in part because it was smaller, in part because of the moderators, of course. (LAUGHTER) MARK SHIELDS: Teacher’s pet. Teacher’s pet. (LAUGHTER) JUDY WOODRUFF: I was waiting for you to say
that. (LAUGHTER) JUDY WOODRUFF: No, seriously. DAVID BROOKS: No, the cave moment was, to
me, the most interesting moments. And that was going after the billionaires
that supported Buttigieg, or at least millionaires, we presume. And I confess, I just think it’s — I’m on
Buttigieg’s side on this. I think it’s a purity test to think that somebody
who started a company and had some success can’t support a Democratic candidate, and
that candidate is somehow tainted. You look at Buttigieg’s policies, they’re
clearly not the policies of the corporate fat cats. they are policies that would be tough on corporations. And so if there was some evidence that money
was actually buying anything for any of these people, then maybe it’s a good argument. But it’s simply an attempt to take a bad stereotype
of some hated figure called the billionaire and tar a perfectly acceptable candidate. MARK SHIELDS: You want fireworks, you want
high drama, you want real reality, you come to PBS. (LAUGHTER) MARK SHIELDS: I mean, no question. It started off like a seminar. Let’s be honest about it. I mean, was thoughtful, it was reflective. And then, boy, they really got into it. And David’s right. It reminded us of the calendar, Judy. I mean, Iowa is coming up. Pete Buttigieg is leading in Iowa, and Elizabeth
Warren was slipping. And she went after him. And I thought Pete Buttigieg showed the ability
to take a punch. He doesn’t have a glass jaw. And I thought his counterpunch was enormously
effective. I mean… JUDY WOODRUFF: So you think he helped himself? MARK SHIELDS: Well, he did. He wasn’t hurt by it, in the sense — and
he probably did help himself, in the sense that she did say, I take only pure money,
by ignoring the fact that she had rolled over money from her Senate campaign, where she
had taken money, just like Buttigieg. I think, the wine cave thing is bad — a bad
image for Buttigieg. Then, when Amy Klobuchar jumped in and has
preempted the entire Central time zone as her home, I mean, she’s — I am the Midwest. (LAUGHTER) JUDY WOODRUFF: Flyover country. MARK SHIELDS: I am the Midwest. Nobody’s going to fly over as long as Amy’s
there. And I thought, when she after Buttigieg that
he’s never won a statewide race, well, I would just remind people, the last 80 years, other
than Barack Obama, one Democrat has carried Indiana for president, Lyndon Johnson in 1964. It’s a very Republican state. And the Democrats have won the last 11 presidential
elections in Minnesota. So, if you’re going to eliminate statewide
candidates, Abraham Lincoln’s gone, because he lost to Douglas. I mean, he couldn’t win a statewide. George H.W. Bush couldn’t win a statewide. Dwight Eisenhower. George Washington never won a statewide. I mean, to me, that was a little bit silly. But she probably had a good night. Seven makes a lot different than 12 or 13. JUDY WOODRUFF: Having fewer candidates. Having fewer candidates on the stage. MARK SHIELDS: It really does. DAVID BROOKS: I thought Klobuchar’s — I thought
the experience attack was a little more forceful. And it does sort of raise the issue. And I thought Klobuchar was very effective
and had one of her best debates, someone who has been consistent. I thought the big news out of the night, it
sort of reminds you why Biden is still the front-runner. He was strong, stronger than he’s been in
any debate. He’s likable. He’s low drama. It’s not a high-risk proposition, I don’t
think. And if he continues to debate that well, then
I do think his just — his — the affection most people have for him will carry him. JUDY WOODRUFF: Just about 20 seconds. Where… (CROSSTALK) MARK SHIELDS: Andrew Yang. You can’t go without mentioning Andrew Yang. You gave him the sucker question, the tough
question. You got a gift or an apology? The only two people that apologized were the
women. The men all were going to give out their books. And I just — I just thought Andrew Yang showed
a spontaneous and a naturalness. And he talks about his opponents like they’re
people. He’s missing Cory Booker and Kamala and Beto,
like they’re real people, not a set of issues walking around that vote — on a voting record. JUDY WOODRUFF: A new side of him. MARK SHIELDS: Yes, a good side. JUDY WOODRUFF: Mark Shields, David Brooks,
thank you. MARK SHIELDS: Thank you. JUDY WOODRUFF: For generations, the classic
book “Little Women” has enchanted readers young and old. It has been brought to the movie screen many
times. And now, on Christmas Day, a new version hits
theaters nationwide, one with all the familiar touches, along with some very modern ones. John Yang sat down with the director and screenwriter,
Greta Gerwig. It’s part of our ongoing coverage of arts
and culture, Canvas. JOHN YANG: It’s Louisa May Alcott’s beloved
150-year-old story of the four March sisters. ACTRESS: This is Meg, Amy, Beth and Jo. JOHN YANG: They face love and heartbreak and
chase their dreams and Civil War era New England. An international cast portrays these quintessentially
American characters. Emma Watson is Meg, the eldest, the romantic,
Beth played by Eliza Scanlen, the shy musician. Florence Pugh plays Amy, the boisterous youngest,
and at the center of it all, Saoirse Ronan as Jo, the impassioned writer who tells their
tale. GRETA GERWIG, Director/Screenwriter: The truth
is, I saw myself in all of them. And I think that’s something about a book
you grow up with. You see yourself in different characters at
different points. JOHN YANG: Greta Gerwig retells “Little Women”
for a new generation. It is a dream cast. GRETA GERWIG: Yes. JOHN YANG: And in the scenes with the sisters
together, it feels so spontaneous. It feels so natural. GRETA GERWIG: Yes. Yes. JOHN YANG: And I’m sure that that’s the result
of a lot of hard work. GRETA GERWIG: Well, I wanted all of these
lines which are so famous to be said just lightning quick with the energy of youth and
with the exuberance of sisterhood. One of the things that I wanted to do was
have a very controlled cacophony of sound and movement. And I wanted it to feel like a ballet that
was kind of violent. JOHN YANG: So that was the sisterhood. GRETA GERWIG: That was the sisterhood, these
couple weeks we spent rehearsal just drilling all of that and spending time working on it,
yes. It’s the thing that brought them together. JOHN YANG: At first, Gerwig was hired only
to write the screenplay. But then came “Lady Bird,” her 2017 breakthrough
directing debut. GRETA GERWIG: They came back and said, would
you like to direct “Little Women”? And I was like, I have been asking for five
years. I would love to. JOHN YANG: The film reunites her with “Lady
Bird” stars Ronan and Timothee Chalamet. GRETA GERWIG: They’re two of my favorite young
actors. Saoirse told me she was going to play Jo. She said she knew I was working on “Little
Women” and she wanted to play Jo. As soon as I knew it was Saoirse, I knew it
I wanted it to be Timothee, because they’re just so exciting to watch on screen together. JOHN YANG: Talk a little bit the working relationship
between because Saoirse and Timothee, because I’m thinking particularly of the dance scene. GRETA GERWIG: I think, with period pieces,
sometimes, you end up feeling like everything’s just so and everything’s so perfect, and everybody’s
waiting politely for someone else to finish talking. I wanted to bring that feeling of reverence
for the text, but irreverence for the joy, allowing it to be spontaneous, a dance that
was both a nod to the formality of the time and then had that bursting-out-at-the-seams
feeling. The dance that Laurie and Jo do really brings
that across. I actually hadn’t read the book again until
I was around 30. And I was gobsmacked by it. I thought it was completely modern and fresh
and strange and spiky. FLORENCE PUGH, Actress: I’m just a woman. And as a woman, there’s no way for me to make
my own money. GRETA GERWIG: One of the things that is wonderful
to do as an artist is that I’m allowed to take this iconography of “Little Women,” of
these famous moments and these famous scenes. And I’m allowed to deliver on them and give
you those things, and then also subvert it. LAURA DERN, Actress: You remind me of myself. JOHN YANG: Compared with earlier film versions,
Gerwig adds depth and dimension to characters, like March family matriarch Marmee, portrayed
by Laura Dern. Marmee is a character who, in previous tellings,
is sort of a plaster saint. GRETA GERWIG: You know, she could be quite
bloodless in her piety. I went back to the book. And I was reading it. And the line… LAURA DERN: I’m angry nearly every day of
my life. SAOIRSE RONAN, Actress: You are? LAURA DERN: I’m not patient by nature. GRETA GERWIG: I thought, that’s not true. Marmee is not angry. And I’m like, oh my God, she’s been angry
for 150 years. We have never noticed. JOHN YANG: At the heart of the story, women
and their aspirations. SAOIRSE RONAN: Women, they have minds, and
they have souls, as well as just hearts, and they have got ambition, and they have got
talent, as well as just beauty. And I’m so sick of people saying that love
is just all a woman is fit for. I’m so sick of it. JOHN YANG: In earlier adaptations, like the
1994 version starring Winona Ryder, the happy ending is Jo finding a husband and also publishing
a book. But in Gerwig’s telling: GRETA GERWIG: It’s the book. The happy ending is the book. I think there aren’t enough movie romances
between women and their books. I guess all of the cliches of a movie romance
chase, of the girls and the carriage and the rain, and I got to do the camera on the crane,
and I did all these sort of bells and whistles of what we think of as movie romance. But, for me, it was never with a heart of
it was. The heart of it was about what it means to
have authorship and ownership. And I wanted to have that emotional impact
come around Jo and her book. MERYL STREEP, Actress: Someday, you will need
me. JOHN YANG: Gerwig’s Jo defies society’s expectations
embodied by her dowager aunt played by Meryl Streep. MERYL STREEP: You will need to marry well. SAOIRSE RONAN: But you are not married, Aunt
March. MERYL STREEP: Well, that’s because I’m rich. JOHN YANG: And stands up to her publisher. ACTOR: So, who does she marry? How does resonate with what’s going on now
in Hollywood, the push for gender equality? GRETA GERWIG: Yes, sure. I had wanted to include this whole story of
her negotiating her copyright and also her back end deal, that she gets 6.6 percent,
which is how much Louisa May Alcott got, which was higher than people usually got. But, honestly, the publisher gave her 6.6
percent because he didn’t think it was going to do very well. And he was wrong. It sold out in two weeks. And then it was subsequently — it has never
been out of print. So one of the things I wanted to do was introduce
the idea of Louisa May Alcott herself as the author of “Little Women.” And I wanted to collapse the space between
Louisa May Alcott the writer and Jo March, the character. JOHN YANG: The modern-day struggle for women’s
recognition is reflected in the dearth of award nominations so far for this critically
acclaimed film, just two from the Golden Globes and none from the Screen Actors Guild. Oscar nominations come next month. It’s still notable that there is a movie written
by a woman, directed by a woman, starring roles, the lead characters are women, produced
by a woman. GRETA GERWIG: Yes. JOHN YANG: What does that say? Do you think we would have been beyond this
by now? GRETA GERWIG: Period pieces are seen as risky
or that people won’t go. So that alone is already a hurdle. And then you add on top of it, it’s all about
women, it’s written and directed by a woman, it is produced by a woman. So, in some ways, it feels like a miracle
that this movie was made at all, and I can’t help but be completely grateful that it happens,
because it continues to feel unlikely. ACTOR: Make it short and spicy. And if the main character is a girl, make
sure she’s married by the end. JOHN YANG: A fresh take on an old favorite
from a rising star behind the camera. For the “PBS NewsHour,” I’m John Yang in New
York. JUDY WOODRUFF: Online, we have more from our
interview with director Greta Gerwig. She shares which March sister from the story
she most identifies with. That’s our Web site, PBS.org/NewsHour. Tonight’s Brief But Spectacular looks at Claude
Kelly and Chuck Harmony. The two musicians spent over a decade making
hits for blockbuster artists like Mary J. Blige, Bruno Mars, and Rihanna. But they yearned to be more than just hired
guns for big-name acts. So, they started their own group, Louis York. CHUCK HARMONY, Musician: The most common thing
that I, personally, Chuck Harmony, have heard from a music exec — executive is that I was
too musical. Dumb your stuff down so that the masses can
digest it. And, as a creative, that’s jail to me. CLAUDE KELLY, Musician: Everyone we dreamed
of working with as songwriter and producer, we have had the honor of writing very big
records for. Michael. CHUCK HARMONY: Janet. CLAUDE KELLY: Whitney. CHUCK HARMONY: Bruno. CLAUDE KELLY: Celine. CHUCK HARMONY: Rihanna. CLAUDE KELLY: You get known for this one big
thing you did. It’s like, Chuck, give me another “Russian
Roulette,” or Claude, give me another “Party in the USA.” And if you’re always growing and wanting to
learn, then that becomes your prison. CHUCK HARMONY: It literally drove us crazy,
so, to the point we were going to quit our passion because of that. I was going to go to seminary. He was going to go to… CLAUDE KELLY: Get a master’s degree in world
religion. CHUCK HARMONY: Yes. CLAUDE KELLY: We had this conversation about
the music business, and what was on the radio and what was missing, big voices, original
voices, horn breakdowns, live strings, bridges and modulations, and all these things that
make music exciting and passionate. What can two black men get together and say
that is not being said in pop culture? And we discovered there’s a lot. Louis York, which is the name of our band,
it was the last thing we came up with. Our original name was Melancholy. It shows you how sad we were at the time. Ran that by a couple people, and they laughed
at us. He’s from East Saint Louis, and I’m from New
York. Louis York. As the lyricist and the guy that’s thinking
about telling the story, I just don’t believe that people are stupid. And they want to be told stories. They want to be brought on a journey. And so just saying, repeat this over and over,
or say what you said yesterday, or that little story works, so repeat it again, is jail. CHUCK HARMONY: For me, collaboration is essential
for creativity. I don’t think no man is an island, especially
when it comes to being their best selves. You need a person that you can bounce ideas
off of. You need a person that you can see yourself
in. You need a person that can be your muse. CLAUDE KELLY: I’m Claude Kelly. CHUCK HARMONY: And I’m Chuck Harmony. CLAUDE KELLY: And we are Louis York. CHUCK HARMONY: Louis York. CLAUDE KELLY: And this is our Brief But Spectacular
take on… CHUCK HARMONY: … rediscovering our passion
for music. JUDY WOODRUFF: And you can watch additional
Brief But Spectacular episodes on our Web site, PBS.org/NewsHour/Brief. Tonight on “Washington Week,” Robert Costa
will be discussing the big political story of the week, the impeachment of President
Trump. As Congress left for winter break, Speaker
of the House Nancy Pelosi has set up an unprecedented standoff with Republicans and with Senate
Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. What happens next? And that is the “NewsHour” for tonight. I’m Judy Woodruff. Have a great weekend. Thank you, and good night.

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