PBS NewsHour full episode Dec 13, 2019


JUDY WOODRUFF: Good evening. I’m Judy Woodruff. On the “NewsHour” tonight: a pivotal vote. The U.S. House Judiciary Committee approves
the charges against the president, clearing the way for the full House of Representatives
to impeach President Trump. Then: After nearly two years of tariffs, the
White House reaches the first phase of a deal with China, but how close does it come to
ending the trade war? And it’s Friday. Mark Shields and David Brooks are here to
analyze the news on impeachment and the Justice Department’s findings on the origins of the
Russia probe. Plus: fighting bigotry with music — how a
city in North Carolina made a band from across the globe feel right at home. ABDALLAH AG ALHOUSSEYNI, Tinariwen (through
translator): Music is one of those things in life where there are no barriers or borders. And, as musicians, this is what gives us the
courage to travel very far away from our Sahara Desert. JUDY WOODRUFF: All that and more on tonight’s
“PBS NewsHour.” (BREAK) JUDY WOODRUFF: The stage
is now set for the U.S. House of Representatives to impeach the president of the United States. The latest moves came earlier today in a matter
of minutes, after long hours of hearings. JUDY WOODRUFF: And congressional correspondent
Lisa Desjardins joins me now. Hello, Lisa. So this vote by the Judiciary Committee was
supposed to happen last night. They put it off until this morning. Tell us what happened and why does that matter? LISA DESJARDINS: First of all, I want to note
this is something that is very detailed and kind of wonky to talk about. It’s not something we usually bring up, the
timing of a vote. But it is significant because of the friction
happening right now. Republicans expected this vote to happen last
night. They spent all day putting forth their amendments,
and then they stopped. It could have gone all night, but they stopped
thinking that a vote was imminent, that there was sort of a deal to move to a vote. And then listen to what happened as they thought
the final votes on the articles of impeachment would be coming. Here’s Chairman Jerry Nadler. REP. JERROLD NADLER: It has been a long two days
of consideration of these articles, and it is now very late at night. I want the members on both sides of the aisle
to think about what has happened over these last two days and to search their consciences
before we catch our final votes. Therefore, the committee will now stand in
recess until tomorrow morning at 10:00 a.m. The committee is in recess. REP. DOUG COLLINS (R-GA): Mr. Chairman. Mr. Chairman, there was no consulting for
the minority ranking member on your schedule for tomorrow, in which you have just blown
up schedules for everyone? You chose was not to consult the ranking member
on a schedule issue of this magnitude? MAN: So typical. LISA DESJARDINS: So typical. And I think that’s why we wanted to raise
this. This kind of activity is actually unusual. Usually, the ranking member and the chairman
talk about basic stuff like this. But, Judy, here’s where we are, where they
can agree or talk even about the closing time for votes or when votes are happening. And this has just added to this atmosphere
sort of anger. I talked to Sheila Jackson lee, who’s on the
committee, from Texas. She said she does have empathy for Republicans,
that their expectation that they would get something like a scheduling announcement,
but she said, we really felt it was so important to take the vote in daylight. Clearly, just communication has broken down. JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, emblematic of the divide
that exists clearly on that committee. LISA DESJARDINS: That’s right. JUDY WOODRUFF: So, next, it will go — after
the House votes, it will go to the Senate. What are you hearing at this point about the
Senate, about Leader McConnell and what their plans are? LISA DESJARDINS: I know it feels like we’re
skipping ahead a little bit, but this has been a lot — there’s been a lot of news from
Mr. McConnell in the last few days about what he thinks the Senate should do. And speaking to aides to Senator McConnell,
we know a few things. One, he is cautious about having a very long
trial in the Senate. He doesn’t want every witness perhaps that
the White House or other Republicans may want to call. So what he’s doing now is, he’s going to have
a process where you will hear essentially opening presentations by the House, who will
be arguing for impeachment and removal of the president, and from the president and
whoever he selects to defend him. At that point, the plan right now is to let
the Senate to decide essentially case by case if they want witnesses at that point or not. It will take 51 senators to decide on any
kind of rules going forward from that. There’s a chance there could be a bipartisan
deal. No one expects that. But, essentially, it’s going to be a little
unpredictable when we get to January. It’s possible the trial could move quickly. It’s possible it doesn’t. JUDY WOODRUFF: So, Lisa, stepping back, four
American presidents have faced impeachment, three of them in the last 45 years. You have been talking to people on the hill
about what that says. LISA DESJARDINS: That’s right. These three recent presidents who saw the
House Judiciary Committee vote on articles of impeachment is significant, especially
to longer-term members of Congress and staffers, who look at the span of America’s 230 years
of having presidents and say, this is happening more frequently now. This is a tool that we see lawmakers on Capitol
Hill thinking about more often. There are, of course, still very relevant
debate as to, what is the standard for impeachment, what is impeachable? There just is a very real conversation about
the fact that it is happening more often in this modern era. JUDY WOODRUFF: And we are certainly thinking
about it right now. Lisa Desjardins, thank you. LISA DESJARDINS: You’re welcome. JUDY WOODRUFF: In the day’s other news: The
U.S. and China confirmed that they have the beginnings of a long-awaited trade agreement. The interim deal cancels a new round of planned
U.S. tariffs against China, and scales back some others. China, in turn, will buy more American farm
commodities. Both President Trump and Chinese officials
talked today of what’s next. DONALD TRUMP, President of the United States:
China would like to see the tariffs off, and we — we’re OK with that. But they will be used as a negotiating table
for the phase two deal, which they would like to start immediately, and that’s OK with me. LIAO MIN, Chinese Vice Finance Minister (through
translator): The consultation in the second phase will depend on the implementation of
this phase one agreement. So the priority for us is to sign this agreement
and make use of the agreement to promote economic and trade cooperation. JUDY WOODRUFF: We will look at the trade announcement
in detail after the news summary. The U.S. Supreme Court will hear three cases
involving President Trump’s refusal to release financial records. A state prosecutor in New York has subpoenaed
eight years of the president’s tax returns. Several U.S. House committees are seeking
bank records. Lower courts have ruled against Mr. Trump. In Britain, Prime Minister Boris Johnson called
for unity after winning a resounding new mandate to carry out Brexit. His Conservatives captured a commanding majority
in Parliament in Tuesday’s election. That clears the way for Britain to quit the
European Union at the end of January. Robert Peston of Independent Television News
reports. (CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) ROBERT PESTON: Sheer jubilation after the
queen confirmed he is staying as prime minister, celebrating the best election result for a
Tory leader since Margaret Thatcher’s in 1987, now all the more remarkable because, just
six months ago, his party was wiped out in elections for the European Parliament. And what is even more remarkable is that he
won seats from Labor that have never been Tory in modern times. BORIS JOHNSON, British Prime Minister: To
all those who voted for us for the first time, and those whose pencils may have wavered over
the ballot, and who heard the voices of their parents and their grandparents whispering
anxiously in their ears, I say thank you for the trust you have placed in us and in me. And we will work round the clock to repay
your trust. ROBERT PESTON: What propelled him to victory
was the slogan, “Get Brexit done.” And, today, he begged a country torn apart
by Brexit to come back together. BORIS JOHNSON: After three years — three-and-a-half
years, after all, an increasingly arid argument, I urge everyone to find closure and to let
the healing begin. ROBERT PESTON: It was that famous bong… MAN: It is now 10:00, and we can reveal the
full details of the joint forecasters exit poll. ROBERT PESTON: … that confirmed a political
earthquake. MAN: A large Conservative majority. ROBERT PESTON: Labor seat after Labor seat
fell to the Tories, starting with Workington and Blyth Valley. MAN: Twenty thousand. ROBERT PESTON: All through the former industrial
heartlands of the Midlands, Wales, and the north. JEREMY CORBYN, Leader, Labor Party: I will
not lead the party in any future general election campaign. I will discuss with our party to ensure there
is a process now of reflection on this result. QUESTION: It is over, Mr. Corbyn, isn’t it? It is over, isn’t it? ROBERT PESTON: It is over for Jeremy Corbyn,
though he will stay for a few months, until a successor is chosen by Labor members, quite
a Christmas president for him. Just a few weeks ago, he was Parliament’s
hostage, not enough M.P.s to govern, and now his majority is so big, he can be confident
of living here, and being our prime minister, for many years. BORIS JOHNSON: Thank you all very much. And happy Christmas. Thank you. JUDY WOODRUFF: That report from Robert Peston
of Independent Television News. In Algeria, a former prime minister has been
elected president, despite a boycott by pro-democracy forces. Officials say Abdelmadjid Tebboune received
58 percent of the vote yesterday. They said turnout was 40 percent. Today, thousands of protesters turned out
in Algiers and other cities. They charge, Tebboune is beholden to the same
military-backed elite that has ruled for decades. A search team in New Zealand has recovered
the bodies of six of the 16 people killed in a volcanic eruption. They are believed to have been Australian
tourists. The volcano on White Island was still spewing
toxic gases today, making the search a high-risk operation. Two people are still missing. Some 200 countries struggled today to reach
agreement as a climate summit wound down in Madrid. It appeared the so-called COP 25 gathering
could put off action on key issues for another year. Meanwhile, in Brussels, European Union leaders
pledged to make the bloc carbon-neutral by 2050. CHARLES MICHEL, President, European Council:
We want Europe as the first climate-neutral continent. We took this decision with respect for many
concerns of different countries, because we know that it’s important to take into consideration
the different national circumstances and also different starting points. JUDY WOODRUFF: Poland was the only E.U. member
nation not to sign on to the agreement. On Wall Street, stocks managed minimal gains,
as investors weighed the worth of the trade deal with China. The Dow Jones industrial average was up three
points to close at 28135. The Nasdaq rose 17 points, and the S&P 500
added a fraction. And veteran actor Danny Aiello died overnight
in New Jersey after a brief illness. His breakthrough came in “Moonstruck” in 1987
as Cher’s jilted lover. He also played pizza shop owner Sal in Spike
Lee’s “Do the Right Thing” and earned an Oscar nomination. Other movie credits included “Fort Apache,”
“The Bronx” and “Once Upon a Time in America.” Danny Aiello was 86 years old. Still to come on the “NewsHour”: as the U.S.
and China reach a deal, how close are we to the end of the trade war?; Mark Shields and
David Brooks consider what brought Congress to the precipice of impeachment; and much
more. As we reported, the Trump administration and
China today announced phase one of a deal to de-escalate the trade war between the world’s
two largest economies. But the agreement has produced many questions
and criticism. Nick Schifrin is here with that story. NICK SCHIFRIN: Judy, the Trump administration
portrays this deal as a major victory that could lead to fundamental change by China,
at little cost to the U.S. A senior administration official said China
had agreed to structural reforms on behavior that’s long concerned the U.S.: intellectual
property theft, forcing U.S. companies in China to transfer their technology, and currency
and foreign exchange manipulation, among others. And China committed over the next two years
to purchase $200 billion in American agriculture, manufacturing, and energy products. In return, the U.S. dropped a new round of
tariffs scheduled to take effect on Sunday, and reduced a previous round of tariffs. All told, the changes would affect more than
$350 billion worth of goods. To talk about this, I’m joined by Mary Lovely,
professor of economics at Syracuse University and senior fellow at the Peterson Institute
for International Economics. Welcome to “NewsHour.” Thanks very much. MARY LOVELY, Syracuse University: Thank you,
Nick. NICK SCHIFRIN: We can’t read the actual deal
yet, but the administration describes this as something, very significant, in fact. How do you assess the significance of this
deal? MARY LOVELY: Well, I think, on net, it’s good
news in the short run for the American economy. We have some lifting of the tariffs. We have a deal. And the longer this went on, it seemed the
more it was a drag on business confidence. GDP growth has been held back by really a
major slowing down of business fixed investment. And so we’re hoping that businesses will see
this as potentially a pathway to trade peace and begin to invest again. Of course, the tariffs have kind of thrown
their plans for where they’re going to get their supplies and where they’re going to
sell. And so at least a little bit of certainty
on that is good. NICK SCHIFRIN: Let’s look at some of the specifics. The administration is claiming China’s agreed
to fundamental reforms, most notably, intellectual property theft, forced technology transfers. These are things the U.S. has long complained
about. Is there any indication that China is actually
willing to deliver fundamental reforms? MARY LOVELY: Well, China has been making changes
in its law. And I think we’re going to see a lot of those
changes sort of packaged in this with a nice bow put on top. So, for example, intellectual property, it’s
been tightening both the law, the ability to police it, how those things are adjudicated. An important step they took last year was
to create — like, we would think of it as an appellate court at the — at the central
government level, because a lot of these concerns happen at the local level. And one of the big complaints American businesses
have had is that we can’t have the same guys at the provincial level, who are part owners
in the business that we say is stealing our stuff, deciding whether or not that theft
is actually happening. So now there’s another level that those businesses
can take these claims. So, on that, China was already doing things. On forced technology, they created this new
foreign investment law last January, which clearly states that foreign investors need
to be free of any kind of coercion on their technology. So a lot of these things we’re happening,
at least on paper. NICK SCHIFRIN: The administration says that
China is going to buy $40 billion to $50 billion of agricultural goods this year and next year. We got a statement today from a group Farmers
for Free Trade questioning that, hoping that — quote — “This is not an empty political
process — promise.” Is there any indication that China can and
wants to purchase that many goods from American farmers? MARY LOVELY: Well, frankly, I’m surprised
that the totals are that high. The maximum amount of agricultural exports
that we have ever sold China was in 2017. And it was about half of that. So, it was 27,000. So a little — $27 billion — I’m sorry — it
was about half of what the maximum amount is here, $50 billion. So it’s really hard to see where they’re going
to put them. Plus, the Chinese economy has been slowing,
which would slow the demand. NICK SCHIFRIN: There has been political criticism
today of this deal. We can show a tweet by top Democrat in the
Senate Chuck Schumer — quote — “President Trump has sold out for a temporary and unreliable
promise from China to purchase some soybeans.” Is the Chinese promise temporary and unreliable? MARY LOVELY: Well, I think Senator Schumer
believes that this trade war would have led to better outcomes. I personally do not think that is true. This is not the way to get change in China. We are seeing dramatic changes in the political
system in China, a massive increase in the role of the state, a lot of investment going
into state-owned enterprises. We’re seeing political repression in many
ways. Those are changes the U.S. has to deal with
in a smart way. This blunt-force instrument wasn’t getting
us anywhere. It was hurting American consumers, hurting
American businesses. What are we getting out of it? I’m not sure what Senator Schumer thinks about
we were — we were going to go, but I didn’t see this going anywhere in a positive direction. So I’m happy that we at least called the cease-fire
today. NICK SCHIFRIN: So the hurdle for phase one
has been high. And phase two is even bigger, right, I mean,
more fundamental reforms. How far are we away from the end of the trade
war? MARY LOVELY: So I think we’re very far away
from the end of the trade war. What we packed into phase two are the difficult
things, industrial subsidies in particular, since this is — these subsidies are fundamental
to China’s development plans, to reorienting its economy toward higher-wage, higher-capital-intensive
activities, and moving into the so-called emerging technologies like electronic vehicles. We also left aside issues having to do with
market access, having a level playing ground for our tech companies, for our financial
companies. Those are going to be very difficult. They’re going to move into other issues, including
censorship of the Internet, Chinese control of their own financial markets, and national
security. And we know those are going to be tough. NICK SCHIFRIN: And so not a lot of progress
before the election in the U.S., probably? MARY LOVELY: I do not think so, no. NICK SCHIFRIN: Mary Lovely of Syracuse University
and the Peterson Institute for International economics, thank you very much. MARY LOVELY: Thank you. JUDY WOODRUFF: Stay with us. Coming up on the “NewsHour”: the author of
“Antisocial: Online Extremists, Techno-Utopians, and the Hijacking of the American Conversation”;
and from the Sahara to the Carolinas, the power of music in the fight against bigotry. Abuse of power and obstruction of Congress,
as of today, those are the Judiciary Committee-approved charges against President Trump. Now it is on the full House of Representatives
to decide whether or not to impeach him. To help us analyze this important week, as
always, are Shields and Brooks. That is syndicated columnist Mark Shields
and New York Times columnist David Brooks. Hello to both of you. So these two articles of impeachment, David,
how strong a case have the Democrats made with this? DAVID BROOKS: Well, two things. One, I think they have made a strong case. I think there was clearly a campaign to have
a quid pro quo with Ukraine, and it’s clearly an impeachable offense. As for the articles of impeachment, I don’t
like them. Abuse of power, what is that? Like, that’s not a criminal thing. Like, it’s a vague construct. And same with obstruction of Congress. Like, these are both extremely vague constructs. And I think they lead away from what actually
happened, what crime was committed, and what should the punishment be. And they will lead to a debate over these
vague concepts. The concepts should hug closely to some sort
of criminal concept that’s in our court system, so we all have a history about it, so we know
the structure of it, and these sort of waft away from it. So, I think they make the case. I just don’t like the way they framed it. JUDY WOODRUFF: Mark, too vague and not on
the point? MARK SHIELDS: David, too vague? No, never. Judy, I think the best case was made by a
unique person, in the sense of Zoe Lofgren, who was a staffer for Don Edwards on the House
Judiciary Committee at the time of the Nixon impeachment, was a member at the time of Bill
Clinton’s impeachment, is now in the House Judiciary Committee. And she — I thought she drew the distinction
quite compellingly. And that was that Richard Nixon, no comporting
with a foreign power, no attempt to bring the foreign influence into our elections,
that he had tried to influence the election improperly, and tried to cover it up with
the FBI and the CIA, and paid for it. That Bill Clinton, no foreign influence, no
rigging of an election, he had, totally improperly and indefensibly, had sexual relations with
a 21-year-old intern and lied about it. But this was a president trying to rig an
election coming up in 2020, using a country, an ally under duress, facing an external threat
to its survival from Moscow and — from Russia, and in need of our assistance that had already
been voted for, and asking for exchange to get that, to meet — or meeting even with
the president to validate the new leader of our ally there, that they spy on an upcoming
election in the president’s principal opponent. JUDY WOODRUFF: And you’re saying these articles
capture that? Or they… MARK SHIELDS: I think they capture — I mean,
I think it’s pretty — I just think it’s quite straightforward and clearly understandable,
and clearly understandable to anybody. And I think, Judy, quite honestly, no Republican
I know will be able to explain to his or her grandchildren why he or she voted against
this, I mean, that this was defensible, that this was acceptable behavior on the part of
a president of the United States. DAVID BROOKS: I think it will say, oh, I might
have voted for censure. This doesn’t rise to the level of impeachment. I still think that’s their strongest argument,
aside from just throwing up smoke. JUDY WOODRUFF: But are you saying, David,
that there’s another — there’s a different article that they could have, should have
come up? DAVID BROOKS: Well, I should have gone to
law school because I would know. (LAUGHTER) DAVID BROOKS: I didn’t go to law school. So I don’t have the exact phrase. I just think the phrase abuse of power just
doesn’t — it just means nothing and everything to me. JUDY WOODRUFF: And obstruction of Congress? DAVID BROOKS: Well, that’s a little closer. But, frankly, so many people have been accused
and sometimes removed for office from that, that do we really undo an election over that
one? And I think something serious happened here. But it was that — what Mark just described. But, somehow, the way we’re about to debate
this doesn’t seem to get the seriousness of it. MARK SHIELDS: Well, just one side has engaged
in the debate. I mean, the Republicans have not. I mean, there was an acknowledgement on the
part of Clinton’s defenders that he had done something wrong, even with Nixon, that there
had been a break-in. I mean, the Republicans are just in a state
of denial. They’re sailing blithely on the river denial,
I mean, that there was nothing, nothing was done. This is — Mick Mulvaney tells us, wake up
and grow up and accept it. JUDY WOODRUFF: The Republicans are calling
it a sham, a waste of time. The president himself is doing the same thing. He’s tweeting a lot. He was out on the campaign trail this week. He was in Hershey, Pennsylvania, talking about
the impeachment process, also singling out the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee,
Adam Schiff. And here’s what the president said: DONALD TRUMP, President of the United States:
The president of Ukraine repeatedly declared that there was no pressure, but he didn’t
want to say that. We said, say it. Say it, you crooked bastard. Say it. (LAUGHTER) (CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) DONALD TRUMP: But he doesn’t want to say it. We said, say it. I’d like to force him to say it. (LAUGHTER) DONALD TRUMP: He will walk up to the mic. “Ladies and gentlemen.” (LAUGHTER) DONALD TRUMP: The guy total corrupt guy. JUDY WOODRUFF: So that plays well with Trump
supporters, doesn’t it? DAVID BROOKS: He’s a showman. And that’s showbiz. And I have to say, I had a friend come from
— he’d been away in Israel and came back to the United States. And he came to me, he said, Trump’s really
funny. And I don’t always see the humor. But, in Hershey, Pennsylvania, tens of thousand
of people saw the humor, and hundreds of thousands of million — hundreds of millions — or tens
of millions of people around the country see the humor. And they just think the guy’s funny, and I
like that. JUDY WOODRUFF: It seems — it’s working? I mean, he’s using coarse, tough language. MARK SHIELDS: It’s not working. He’s running behind Joe Biden and every other
leading Democrat. Judy, just think of politicians, political
leaders in your lifetime, whether it’s the city — shining city on a hill, or the hope,
and that’s — or what we can do together, you know, what we owe each other. This is the antithesis of that. This is the politics of grievance. This is not that we are surrounded by those
with whom we can work, we can reach across, we can — that my opponent is — my adversary
is not mistaken or ill-informed. My opponent is my enemy and is evil and hates
this country and hates you. And, boy, that that didn’t echo through Jim
Jordan’s words. I mean, Donald Trump has spawned protegees
and knockoff versions: They hate us. They’re out to get us. It really is — it’s a terribly bleak and
dismal and dark America that this president portrays and those who support him. DAVID BROOKS: You know, we have all based
our careers on the notion that we can have a conversation. And so I would stand up for those values as
much as anybody. But in a time when people hate the political
establishment so much, one of Trump’s secrets is to find there has to be a stylistic way
of talking that seems different. And even for those of us on our side have
to find the stylistic way of talking that feels authentic to people. And some of the old communication styles that
we used to do or that candidates used to do, I think that just is not resonating with people
right now. And that’s been true around the world. And you can get somebody who’s conservative
or progressive who doesn’t exhaust everybody all the time and who actually talks in a normal
tone and actually listens. MARK SHIELDS: Yes. No. DAVID BROOKS: But, somehow, something has
to change. And that’s one of the things we have learned,
not only from Trump, but the world politics. JUDY WOODRUFF: Some people are pointing to
Boris Johnson winning in Britain. MARK SHIELDS: Yes. I guess just — and I agree with David, but
just one point, Judy, and that is, at no point is there any celebration of what we have achieved
in this country, I mean, the fact that we have cut the poverty rate among people over
the age of 65 by two-thirds, that we have removed 85 percent of lead from the air, I
mean, all of the things we have done and are doing. We have got a long way to go. But we have achieved, and there are good things
that America does. JUDY WOODRUFF: Two — well, in a completely
different direction, two investigations I want to ask you both about. One, David, is the inspector general at the
Department of Justice went back and looked at the origins of the Trump campaign Russia
investigation. Republicans had been saying it would show
political bias. The inspector general said — didn’t find
political bias, but he did find a lot of mistakes. What do we take away from this? DAVID BROOKS: Yes. Well, with Fiona Hill and a lot of people
who testified, we saw the federal government at its best. And now we’re seeing another side, which is
incompetence. And I take them at their word there was no
political bias. But there was certainly a lot of incompetence,
and they were certainly spinning the game. And the investigation into Carter Page, just
for one example, he was meeting with the Russians. And he was telling the CIA, I just want you
to know I’m meeting with them. And the FBI did not disclose that fact that
he told the CIA, which certainly makes it look a lot less suspicious than it otherwise
would be. And, frankly, this vindicates a lot of the
— not everything, but a lot of the stuff Devin Nunes was saying, House Republican on
the House Intelligence Committee, saying they weren’t playing fair. And so this is a case where I don’t like — maybe
there wasn’t bias, but there was certainly a lot of incompetence and there were certainly
people getting over their skis in trying to pursue an investigation, maybe without as
much cause as they pretended. JUDY WOODRUFF: What do you take away from
that. MARK SHIELDS: That there wasn’t — I agree
with David. There were serious mistakes made. And I think that FISA process is open, not
only to scrutiny, but to severe criticism. But I — when Christopher Wray, the director
of the FBI, appointed by President Trump, says investigations were opened in 2016 for
an authorized purpose and with the adequate federal predication — predication the recent
word that is now in vogue — but he gets lambasted by the president. It’s like everybody got something out of this
investigation, except the president, who wanted it to be a coup. And there was no coup. That’s it. I mean, I think a lot of people have to answer
what they did as far as the visa, but there was no coup. JUDY WOODRUFF: The other report that — actually,
not so much investigation, official, but The Washington Post has reported, David, after
extensive reporting, going back years, asking for documents, that it turned — around the
Afghanistan war, the decisions made by administrations going back to George W. Bush, Barack Obama,
through this administration, indicate that top officials were not telling the American
people everything they knew, the truth, about what was going on in that war. DAVID BROOKS: Yes, I found this series shocking. I mean, the one thing — you always think,
oh, we had learned from the past. And the one thing that we thought we learned
from Vietnam was, you don’t lie about body counts. And it wasn’t quite that, but it was certainly
dissembling about a lot of stuff over a long — over several administrations. And some of this is inevitable in war. I remember I read about John Hay, who was
Lincoln’s chief of staff — or assistant. And he’s writing these public statements about
how the Civil War is going. The war is going great. We’re going to win. And then he’s writing in his journal at the
same time, the war is going terribly. We’re going to lose. We don’t — we have no strategy. So some of this is inevitable in war. But the fact that they didn’t learn the single
biggest lesson of military history in the last 75 years, which is be straight, that
is mind-boggling to me. JUDY WOODRUFF: Vietnam was only a few decades
ago. MARK SHIELDS: A few decades ago, Judy. If anything, this is worse than Vietnam. I mean, you think about it, since 2001, the
country has just been uninterested, disinterested in the war, 18 years. The fact that 157,000 human beings have perished
in this war, that a trillion dollars has been spent, misspent, I think it’s fair to say,
I mean, on motor pools that don’t exist, of supporting troops, 200,000 troops that don’t
exist, it was a total fraud, scandal, criminal activity. And nobody blows a whistle. Nobody called out. I mean, it was absolutely wrong. It’s indefensible. And all this time, at home, what are we doing? Six trillion dollars in tax cuts. I mean, so, I mean, it’s just sort of a let
it go on. It just — it is indefensible. We turned our back on the Powell doctrine,
which, if anything, we learned after Vietnam that you go in with a limited objective, with
overwhelming force, with clearly understood consensus among your population, civilian
and military. All of that’s missing. All of it’s missing. And it’s just — it’s a terrible name. In a perverse way, it helps Donald Trump. It helps Donald Trump, because it’s the government
lying. I mean, we don’t — we don’t like to think
that we lie to each other, or our government lies to us. But this is a case of lying to the American
people and lying to themselves. JUDY WOODRUFF: And your point is, it’s gone
back a long time. This is not a modern phenomenon. DAVID BROOKS: Yes. And we — you see and you don’t see. Like, we all knew Afghanistan was a struggle. I was in Kandahar once, and I saw joint American-Afghan
operations, and the American soldiers looked awesome, and fit, and they were really trying
really hard. And some of the Afghan soldiers, like, I could
have taken them on. Like, and I saw that, but I didn’t see it. And when our leaders aren’t telling us the
truth about these things, it’s hard even for me. I was over there. It’s hard to really know. You got to have a — you have got to trust
your leaders. And lives depended upon it. (CROSSTALK) MARK SHIELDS: Fully two-thirds of Afghans
are diagnosed with mental disorders after 18 years of war. That’s how terrible — that’s the tragedy. JUDY WOODRUFF: Mark Shields, David Brooks,
thank you. MARK SHIELDS: Thank you. JUDY WOODRUFF: On an average day, over 125
million people use Twitter. An estimated 2.3 billion use Facebook. We know these remarkable communication tools
are also used by a growing number of people as their main sources for news and information. But, as William Brangham reports, a new book
shows us how social media platforms and apps can be harnessed to spread some very dark
ideas very quickly. It’s the latest in our “NewsHour” Bookshelf. WILLIAM BRANGHAM: The creators of online platforms
like Facebook and Twitter and Reddit all described themselves at first as having one overarching
goal, creating a space for freewheeling, open connections to friends and ideas from all
over the Internet. And in the process, these Silicon Valley entrepreneurs
built some of the most powerful tools for spreading information that the world has ever
seen. But in his new book, “New Yorker” writer Andrew
Marantz shows us how these techno-utopians, as he calls them, built these platforms full
of unforeseen vulnerabilities, and how a group of racists and vandals have used those vulnerabilities
to — quote — “throw the whole information ecosystem into chaos.” The book is called “Antisocial: Online Extremists,
Techno-Utopians, and the Hijacking of the American Conversation.” And Andrew Marantz joins me now. Welcome to the “NewsHour.” ANDREW MARANTZ, Author, “Antisocial: Online
Extremists, Techno-Utopians, and the Hijacking of the American Conversation”: Thanks. Thanks for having me. WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Let’s talk about these platforms
at first, the Twitters and Facebook and Reddits of the world. What are those vulnerabilities that you document,
that you say that have been hijacked by these other groups? ANDREW MARANTZ: Well, the biggest vulnerability
is also one of the biggest strengths of these platforms, which is their openness, their
tolerance of all points of view. I make an analogy to a big party. When you throw open the doors to a party that
you’re hosting, one way to keep it fun and exciting and novel is to not be overly micromanaging,
not police everything, just sort of let it fly. WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Turn the music down. Don’t drink that. Don’t smoke here. ANDREW MARANTZ: Yes, that’s not a good party. You want to sort of let everything fly. And you also want to be pure and ideologically
consistent as the host of a party. And the easiest way to be consistent is to
basically do nothing. And so a lot of these platforms started out
as techno-libertarian, techno-utopian, sort of just saying, we’re not going to police
anything anybody does. If we get told of specific lawbreaking, then
maybe we will take that under control, but anything else, we’re just sort of going to
let it ride. And the reason that I call them techno-utopians
is, there was this built-in assumption, sometimes implicit, sometimes explicit, that that would
ultimately redound to the good, that the arc of history would naturally automatically bend
toward justice, the more speech, the better. And in some cases, that was true. There were lots of useful social movements
that were sparked and helped along by social media. But there was also an antisocial side, to
quote the title, along with the pro-social side. And there was just this halo effect where,
for the first 10 years or so, people didn’t seem to talk about the antisocial side of
the social media atmosphere very much. WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Or even acknowledge that
it existed. ANDREW MARANTZ: Right. And, all of a sudden, our blindness to that
just sort of came crashing down upon us. WILLIAM BRANGHAM: You spend a good deal of
the book, the bulk of the book, really, with the members of the so-called alt-right, this
loose conglomeration of racists and anti-semites and misogynists, some more so, some less so. How is it and what is it that they did with
these platforms that is so troubling to you? ANDREW MARANTZ: Well, so I didn’t go into
this looking for the worst people on the Internet. I ended up finding them. But I didn’t go there looking for that. I was looking for an example of, what’s the
worst that could happen? And it started getting non-hypothetical really
quickly when I started looking for open racists, open misogynists, people who were expert propagandists. I pretty much found whatever I was looking
for. And we’re focused, as I think we should be,
on what the Russians did to meddle in the 2016 election, what they and the Iranians
and the Chinese and others might do in the 2020 election. I’m — I think, as I say, it’s to the good
that we focus on that. But, in the 2016 election, there were Americans
who were not anonymous, who you didn’t need a subpoena to go find, who were meddling in
our election way more than the Russians were. And when I went to go ask them how they did
it, they showed me. They let me just sit in their living rooms
and watch as they did it. For instance, there was one guy in Orange
County, California, who just sort of invited me in and said, OK, pull up a chair. Today, we’re going to start a rumor about
Hillary Clinton. WILLIAM BRANGHAM: This is Mike Cernovich. ANDREW MARANTZ: Right. And so, multiple times a day, he would say,
I want people to think Hillary Clinton has some mysterious disease that she’s not talking
about, or I want to talk about her e-mails, or whatever the case may be. And he could just inject that into the news
stream by starting a Periscope, getting a hashtag trending on Twitter. He had broken down the step-by-step way that
you infiltrate the news cycle, basically, to the point that I could then pick up the
newspaper the next day and go, that story is in the newspaper because of what I watched
this one guy do by rallying his fans on Twitter the day before. And that’s freedom. That’s democracy. But it’s also — I mean, as you will see in
the book, that is not a guy whose fingerprints you want on the national discourse. WILLIAM BRANGHAM: We, as you document, have
always had fringe characters in American politics. Is it your sense that these platforms amplify
those voices and simply give us a better look at them? Or is it actually creating more of them? Is it is it enlisting new soldiers in their
fight? ANDREW MARANTZ: Yes, so the platforms do change
things. I think, sometimes, the platforms take refuge
in this idea that — the true idea that there has always been racism and bigotry and misogyny. But what they’re leaving out is that when
you incentivize shock and fear and disgust and all these emotions, when you… WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Quite literally in the algorithm. ANDREW MARANTZ: Yes. When you incentivize it, when you create literal
points, as if you’re playing a video game, and the more salacious words you say, the
more points you get, the playing field has been tilted by these algorithms. There’s no pure neutrality when you build
a tool, especially when you build a tool that then becomes so hugely, revolutionarily important
to how people communicate and how people think. And I think the informational crisis is kind
of as big a deal as the climate crisis or the city infrastructure crisis, because if
we don’t know how to think and talk and learn how to arm ourselves with information, we
can’t then address any of those other crises that we’re facing. WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Facebook in particular,
but also Twitter and Reddit and many of these other platforms, have said, OK, we get it. We get it that there’s a problem. We’re trying to moderate. We’re trying to police this better. What do you make of their efforts? And do you think they’re doing enough? ANDREW MARANTZ: I think it’s better that they’re
doing something than nothing. For a long time, they were essentially not
doing any of this. They’re not doing enough yet. And they — they need to be pushed to do a
lot more. When you’re someone like Mark Zuckerberg,
who has built your entire adult life and career and fortune on the idea that, just by virtue
of doing more of what you’re doing, you will make the world a better place, it’s an article
of faith at this point. It seems like there’s almost nothing that
can dislodge that belief, which is really, really dangerous, because these tools, there
are massive, massive harms that are being propagated on these tools every day, I mean,
sparking genocides in various parts of the world, I mean, real, tangible harms. And if we can’t even acknowledge those harms
without being told that we don’t respect freedom.. WILLIAM BRANGHAM: You’re some kind of a Luddite. ANDREW MARANTZ: Yes, you’re a Luddite, or
you don’t respect freedom of speech. It’s just not a good argument. I think it’s — freedom of speech is very
important. I’m a journalist. I love the First Amendment. But Facebook has a lot of responsibilities
and rights to curb this stuff. They have the resources to do it. And at this point, they’re sort of just using
it as an excuse to not do it. WILLIAM BRANGHAM: The book is “Antisocial:
Online Extremists, Techno-Utopians, and the Hijacking of the American Conversation.” Andrew Marantz, thank you very much. ANDREW MARANTZ: Thank you. JUDY WOODRUFF: The band Tinariwen hails from
the deserts of Mali in North Africa. Its sound blends ancient Saharan instruments
with electric guitars, and has earned the band devoted fans around the world. During a recent U.S. tour,however, band members
experienced a darker side of America. Before a North Carolina show, they received
a barrage of Islamophobic comments on social media. But as producer Ali Rogin reports, the city
of Winston-Salem banded together to give them a warm welcome. The story is part of our ongoing arts and
culture coverage, Canvas. ALI ROGIN: The band Tinariwen may have traveled
far for this show, but it’s on this stage where these musicians are most at home. They hardly speak any English, but here in
North Carolina, they feel that their every word is understood. ABDALLAH AG ALHOUSSEYNI, Tinariwen (through
translator): Music is one of those things in life where there are no barriers or borders. And as musicians, this is what gives us the
courage to travel very far away from our Sahara Desert. ALI ROGIN: Tinariwen’s members are Tuaregs,
an ethnic group from all across the Sahara Desert. They’re nomads who lay down musical, rather
than physical, roots. The band’s music follows a rich Tuareg lyrical
tradition, gone electric. And they’re rock stars in their own right,
sharing stages with Robert Plant of Led Zeppelin, Carlos Santana, and U2’s Bono. The story of Tinariwen follows the story of
the Tuareg people. Until 1960, the Tuareg enjoyed autonomy in
the north under French colonial rule. But then a series of dictators took control
and subjected the Tuaregs to persecution, seizing their ancestral lands. Many fled to neighboring countries. Tinariwen’s founders were among them. They met in an Algerian refugee camp in 1979. Abdallah Ag Alhousseyni plays guitar. ABDALLAH AG ALHOUSSEYNI (through translator):
Our music was born out of this reality of exile, hardships and suffering. ALI ROGIN: They moved to Libya to join a Tuareg
military unit led by then-dictator Colonel Moammar Gadhafi, who provided them some freedom. But Tinariwen fought with their guitars, not
guns. They sang about their people’s struggle for
freedom in their ancestral land called Azawad. ALHASSANE AG TOUHAMI, Tinariwen (through translator):
We are from Azawad. Our identity is our Tuareg origin, and our
goal for our country takes precedence over absolutely everything. ALI ROGIN: But none of that mattered to a
few dozen people on Facebook, who saw a post promoting the show and responded with hate. “Any true American will not support this bunch
of trash. Let them perform in their own country,” said
one poster. “Look like terrorists to me. No way,” wrote another. One even threatened to bring his rifle to
the show. Singer Alhassane Ag Touhami responds to the
hate with humor. ALHASSANE AG TOUHAMI (through translator):
Have they ever seen a terrorist sing a song? People who make music are not terrorists. They are actually persecuted by terrorists. ALI ROGIN: Tinariwen knows that firsthand. When Islamist extremists took control of their
native Northern Mali in 2012, Tinariwen refused to obey the extremists’ music ban. One band member was briefly kidnapped. ALHASSANE AG TOUHAMI (through translator):
We know that some people in the U.S. say wrong and negative things about us, but we do not
feel anything about them, because they are wrong. ALI ROGIN: And most people in Winston-Salem
would agree. Wake Forest University senior Yassmin Shaltout
grew up here, after her family left Egypt when she was 2 years old. YASSMIN SHALTOUT, College Student: I’m constantly
surrounded by people that are very welcoming. ALI ROGIN: She’s watched the Muslim community
grow just within her lifetime. YASSMIN SHALTOUT: They used to get together
at a local house, and then the church space was bought and converted into a mosque. We have added new parking space new building
for a Sunday school, so that expansion is even viewed in, like, the physical expansion
of space to accommodate more people. ALI ROGIN: But that expansion in the Tar Heel
State has created tension. In 2015, a man in nearby Chapel Hill murdered
three college students, all Muslims. Shaltout said it was a reminder that there
is still some bigotry in her backyard. YASSMIN SHALTOUT: I do feel that, sometimes,
my community is like a bubble, and it’s been sheltered from all of these other terrible
acts we see going on so close by. ALI ROGIN: But in this area, hate against
a few is mourned by the many. After an anti-Muslim terrorist killed 51 people
in a New Zealand mosque in March, non-Muslims filled a local Islamic center here to show
solidarity with their neighbors. And they did the same before the Tinariwen
show at the Ramkat club. This venue typically doesn’t have a police
presence, but because of some of the threatening comments the band received, the Ramkat increased
security for tonight’s show. But, as you can see, folks are still lining
up outside, and the Ramkat says ticket sales for a Tuesday night are higher than usual. MCKENZIE GILLIS, North Carolina: Honestly,
if you didn’t buy tickets and you didn’t give these people money, they would have no reason
to care about what you’re saying anyway. ROY HANTGAN, North Carolina: These are excellent
musicians, peace-loving people who have a long tradition of making music, great music. ALI ROGIN: Before the show, city council members
join the managers of the venue to declare it Tinariwen Day. RICHARD EMMETT, Co-Owner, Ramkat: We are happy
that you are here. We are happy that you have chosen to be here
this night. ALI ROGIN: Democratic Governor Roy Cooper
wrote a letter welcoming them, and local musicians like Ryan Macleod recorded cover versions
of Tinariwen songs. RYAN MACLEOD, Musician: I think everybody
has experienced outrage fatigue, where you don’t know what to do. And so here was something we could do to show
that this isn’t who we are in this town. ALI ROGIN: Tinariwen has always believed in
the power of musical camaraderie. Their new album, “Amadjar,” features American
artists, including, Cass McCombs and Micah Nelson, the son of Willie. ABDALLAH AG ALHOUSSEYNI (through translator):
There is this brotherhood, automatic friendship and acceptance between musicians. It lets us bond as soon as we meet each other. ALI ROGIN: Their album title means foreign
traveler. The songs champion universal values, love,
brotherhood, and freedom, in their case, freedom for the Tuareg themselves. All around the world, their songs of longing
for a lost homeland have opened doors. ABDALLAH AG ALHOUSSEYNI (through translator):
We keep asking ourselves how is it possible that people who do not understand us or our
culture, very far from our reality, can warmly welcome and support us. Words can’t possibly explain how great we
feel about that. ALI ROGIN: Tinariwen’s new album is named
for a foreign traveler, but, here, they were welcomed as native sons. For the “PBS NewsHour,” I’m Ali Rogin in Winston-Salem,
North Carolina. JUDY WOODRUFF: And what a great story. And a reminder to check out our new podcast,
“Broken Justice.” The series focuses on one state’s public defender
system stretched thin, Missouri’s public defenders struggle to deliver on the promise of justice
for all. You can listen by visiting the “Broken Justice”
link that’s on our Web site. You can also find episodes on Apple Podcasts,
on Stitcher, or wherever you get your podcasts. All that and more is on our Web site, PBS.org/NewsHour. And that is the “NewsHour” for tonight. I’m Judy Woodruff. Have a great weekend. Thank you, and good night.

Maurice Vega

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Post comment