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tv   PBS News Hour  PBS  February 17, 2017 6:00pm-7:01pm PST

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captioning sponsored by newshour productions, llc >> woodruff: good evening. i'm judy woodruff. >> sreenivasan: and i'm hari sreenivasan. on the newshour tonight: president trump touts his economic plans at a boeing plant in south carolina, while in washington, the senate approves scott pruitt-- a climate change skeptic-- to head the e.p.a. >> woodruff: then, a long journey to the u.s. for an iraqi interpreter and his family, at first blocked by the president's travel ban. >> i was like, it's over. all the dreams that i had, everything that i planned, has just vanished from my life. >> sreenivasan: plus, nearly a month into the trump administration, a nation as divided as ever. we travel to two cities in texas to hear from americans who support and oppose the new president. >> i was so excited when he won, because i believed in everything that he says.
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>> i'm pretty sure that i fit almost every demographic that's going to be ruined by this administration, that i feel like i have to speak out. >> woodruff: and, it's friday. mark shields and david brooks give their take on the president's thursday news conference and the rest of the week's news. >> sreenivasan: all that and more, on tonight's pbs newshour. >> major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by: ♪ ♪ moving our economy for 160 years. bnsf, the engine that connects
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us. >> xq institute. >> the ford foundation. working with visionaries on the frontlines of social change worldwide. >> and with the ongoing support of these institutions: and friends of the newshour. >> this program was made
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possible by the corporation for public broadcasting. and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. >> woodruff: fresh off his white house news conference, the president is out, touting his first four weeks in office. he flew to florida today for the holiday weekend, with a campaign-like stop on the way there. lisa desjardins has our report. >> reporter: for president trump-- with grandchildren in tow-- a chance to leave washington behind. >> i love south carolina, i love it. >> reporter: after a roller- coaster week, he found a friendly audience at boeing's north charleston plant. >> we're here today to celebrate american engineering and american manufacturing. we're also here today to celebrate jobs. jobs.
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>> reporter: underscoring the point, mr. trump touted the rollout of boeing's "787-10 dreamliner" plane. >> i campaigned on the promise that i will do everything in my power to bring those jobs back into america. we wanted to make much easier-- it has to be much easier to manufacture in our country and much harder to leave. >> reporter: the president also pushed back at boeing, telling reporters the price for the new air force one-- and that of lockheed's f-35 fighter-- are still too high, and he's negotiating. all of this, one day after defending his record at a freewheeling white house news conference. >> this administration is running like a fine-tuned machine. >> reporter: today, another top republican, senate majority leader mitch mcconnell, held his own news conference, praising the trump agenda but criticizing distractions. >> i've been pretty candid with him, and with all of you, that i'm not a great fan of daily
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tweets, but what i am a fan of is what he's been actually doing. i have not been a fan of the extra discussion that he likes to engage in. but we're going to soldier on. we like his positions and we're going to pursue them as vigorously as we can. >> reporter: meanwhile, the president is back at the drawing boards on finding a national security adviser, after michael flynn was forced out. the president tweeted this morning that: "general keith kellogg, who i have known for a long time, is very much in play for n.s.a., as are three others." whoever it is, will be choice number two, after retired vice admiral robert harward turned down the job, calling it a "purely personal issue." he did not address reports that he balked at being denied his choice of staffers. white house officials say the president may interview candidates for the post this weekend, at his mar-a-lago resort in florida. tomorrow, he'll hold what the white house calls a "campaign
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event," in melbourne, florida. >> woodruff: and lisa joins me now. so campaign event, we thought it just ended. >> no, it's just building up. in fact, the president himself announced that rally in florida will be happening as a rally, and sean spicer said last week that's going to be a campaign event. >> woodruff: you and i were talking a little while ago and you were saying some of the people around the president are creating fundraising vehicles? tell us about that. >> that's right. these are things like super pacs. we've seen the president have a super pac before, the great america pac, for example. in the last weeks his main campaign alums formed one called the america first 501c4. they say they're supporting judge gorsuch, obamacare, all of that. what's so unprecedented about the president's campaign, he actually filed his campaign paperwork on january 20th.
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president obama, for example, he waited two years before officially inaugurating his reelection campaign. this is unprecedented territory. >> woodruff: really interesting. i know reporters will continue to ask him about it. lisa desjardins, thank you. >> sreenivasan: in the day's other news, the u.s. senate confirmed president trump's pick to lead the environmental protection agency, 52-46. scott pruitt was oklahoma's attorney general, and in that role, he's repeatedly sued the e.p.a. to rein in regulations. democrats tried, and failed, to delay today's confirmation vote until pruitt releases thousands of emails with oil and gas executives. >> it's not the worst thing in the world to take a few extra days to properly vet someone who will have immense power over our nation's streams, skies, even the lead level in our homes and water supply. those emails could contain material information about his confirmation. >> government agencies like the e.p.a., and one after another, need their leadership in place,
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and they need it in place now. what they don't need, what the american people don't need is more political theater from the senate democrats. >> sreenivasan: pruitt was strongly opposed by environmental groups, who warn he will roll back enforcement efforts. he was sworn in this afternoon. we'll take a closer look, right after the news summary. >> woodruff: in pakistan, the military says it killed more than 100 people they call terrorists in sweeping anti- terror raids. they came a day after a suicide bombing, claimed by the islamic state, killed at least 88 people. protesters took to the streets today to denounce weak security. pakistan has been hit by a spate of deadly attacks in recent days. another islamic state bombing killed 59 people in iraq yesterday. >> sreenivasan: the world meteorological organization reports the sea ice pack in the arctic and antarctic was the smallest ever for the month of january. the u.n. agency also says concentrations of heat-trapping
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carbon dioxide hit a record. meanwhile, nasa satellites captured part of the ice loss. this was the pine island glacier in antarctic, earlier in january. a separate image showed an iceberg the size of manhattan that broke away on january 31. >> woodruff: a powerful new storm barreled into california today, with what could be the heaviest rain in years. the rain and high winds lashed the southern california coastline, threatening flooding and mudslides, and forcing small-scale evacuations. the storm is expected to skirt northern california, but officials kept watch on the lake oroville dam and its damaged spillways. >> we have a very close communication-- our monitoring teams between our incident commanders-- to make sure that we have all eyes on this and we're ready to take action with our mitigation plan. i don't see that that's a risk at this time. but having said that, we're ready. >> woodruff: another storm
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system is expected to hit northern california late sunday night and could bring 30 hours of precipitation. >> sreenivasan: wall street headed into the president's day weekend with a lackluster session. the dow jones industrial average gained four points to close at 20,624. the nasdaq rose 23 points, and the s&p 500 added almost four. for the week, all three indexes gained 1.5% or better. >> woodruff: and a passing of note: a long-time former minority leader of the house of representatives, bob michel, has died. the illinois republican served 19 terms, but retired just before the g.o.p. won back the majority in the house in 1994. he is credited with helping president reagan and the first president bush push their agendas, by negotiating with democrats. bob michel was 93 years old. still to come on the newshour: two texas cities-- a microcosm of the nation's deep political divide; mark shields and david brooks analyze the week's news;
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an actor caught up in the "oscars so white" controversy stars in a new film about controversial love, and much more. >> sreenivasan: now that scott pruitt is in charge of the e.p.a., we take a look at what to expect from the agency under his leadership, with myron ebell, director of the competitive enterprise institute, a libertarian advocacy group. he oversaw president trump's e.p.a. transition team and has been vocal opponent of many of the agency's policies; and jeremy symons of the enviromental defense fund, a group strongly opposed to pruitt's confirmation. all right, myron, you think climate science is somewhat alarmist. we're not here to debate that. we have you on because you likely vin sight as to why scott pruitt is head of the e.p.a. today. is someone who shared your views
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on climate science, was that one of the prerequisites to get this job and you helping the perp getting the head of the e.p.a.? >> i wasn't involved in the personnel decisions of the trump administration. what i think president trump was looking for is someone who would be an able advocate and implementer of the president's agenda for the e.p.a., and i think scott pruitt is a great choice. >> sreenivasan: this is is first time in the eds history that you've-posed the nomination. why? >> because scott pruitt is extreme. this fight isn't over. when you look at his record of suing the e.p.a., 14 times to undermine clean air and clean water protections, doesn't bode well for what he will try to do when he gets in.
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myron ebell -- this is about public health. we have someone who wants to take taghtsy backward and not forward. it's not good for children's health, protecting the elderly or anyone vulnerable to toxins. >> sreenivasan: the president on campaign trail even on the debate stage said he would like to cut the e.p.a. significantly. why does scott pruitt help the president advance that agenda? >> scott pruitt has been a very strong advocate for devolving more of the work of the e.p.a. to the states, and, in fact, the e.p.a. already has the state sue ago lot of its work, but it still has a very large bureaucracy nonetheless. i think scott pruitt understands that the e.p.a. can be a lot smaller than it is and we'll still have the same levels of environmental protection for clean air and clean water because the states are already
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doing the work. >> sreenivasan: the eb a has shrunk even under president bush's term. can it be smaller? >> we've worked for e.p.a. across democratic and republican presidents, and it's not an issue of where we go from here has to be maintaining e.p.a.'s capability and capacity to get the job done. scott pruitt, when he took over as attorney general in oklahoma, he got rid of the environmental enforcement division. if he does that for the e.p.a. that means trouble anywhere in the country from florida to ohio. we have to make sure that we remain vigilant and hold the senators that voted for him by the narrowest of margins and scott pruitt accountable for what he does. >> sreenivasan: jeremy symons, what are the most immediate things you're concerned about? scott pruitt is one individual, it's a large agency, the rules take time to change. >> myron and the transitions
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recommended cut epia.p. by halve, talking gutting core capacities like enforcement, science, the health studies that need to happen to make sure pollution is in control. we're worried about enforcement like in oklahoma and interfering with science. trying to roll back mercury standards, arguing mercury isn't a threat to tun born because it is and science says it is and quite clearly across many studies. if you add all of those lawsuits up, if you took away the rules he was attacking, we would see 850,000 more asthma attacks every year. that is unacceptable. so we're going to be keeping score in terms of are we moving forward or back. the pruitt we saw in front of the senate said he cared about e.p.a.'s mission and would move us forward but his record says otherwise. we're waiting to see which pruitt shows up. >> sreenivasan: one of the concerns has been mr. pruitt's record. the competitive enterprise institute is in some ways funded by the fossil fuel industry, but
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scott pruitt was a friend to the fossil fuel industry, to put it mildly, in oklahoma. there is a famous incident of him basically copy-pasting an email or concern directly from the e.p.a. at the hearings he said he understands it is an incredibly important job especially when it comes to the rule in regulating co2. >> jeremy mentioned the 14 lawsuits. i'm proud my organization is a co-playoff with attorney general scott pruitt in several of these lawsuits. these are meant to shrink e.p.a.'s overreach, its illegal regulatory overreach. i think, when you look at oklahoma, oklahoma is a big oil and gas producer. they're proud of it. they produce the energy we use. of course, scott pruitt supports that industry. it's oklahoma's major industry, and it helps the entire nation.
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so i think, if you look back at what president trump said in the campaign, he said, i want to get rid of the regulatory rampage that is killing investment and jobs in our resource and manufacturing industries, and i want to make america the world's energy superpower. so i think scott pruitt will have a vital role in shrinking that regulatory rampage. >rampage. >> sreenivasan: does his thinking change when it's just not oklahoma and a specific industry he's protecting as state's attorney general, but a country which has many different sources of energy and a much larger constituency? >> yes, but the trump campaign wasn't just about oklahoma and the oil and gas industry. it was about rebuilding our resourcing manufacturing industries across the heartland of america, and that is going to require putting e.p.a. regulations back in their place so they're concerned with air and water pollution and not
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destroying jobs. >> sreenivasan: myron ebell, jeremy symons, thank you both. >> thank you. >> woodruff: on january 27, the president's executive order banning travel from seven muslim-majority nations went into effect, throwing plans to travel to the u.s. into chaos for many people in the middle east. right afterward, we introduced you to one iraqi man who had long worked for the american military, whose plans to emigrate here with his family were suddenly canceled. tonight, from southern california, special correspondent marcia biggs, brings us this update. >> reporter: this is the day abdul hamid al ghani and his family have waited years for-- they're driving towards the airport in erbil, northern iraq.
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>> i feel great, actually. i feel like a big burden is off my shoulder and i can take my family to a place where i can feel safe, and i can take care >> reporter: abdul hamid and his family are finally coming to the u.s., on special immigrant visas, issued to iraqis who worked for the u.s. military. he spent nine years as an interpreter for the u.s. army, at great personal risk, even finding himself on a kill list back in 2006. yet he still proudly wears the american flag on his hat. did you like working with the americans? >> oh i loved it, i loved it. the brotherhood they have, this type of mentality, like we are one team and one fight, they never gave me this impression like you are not one of us, or you are just an interpreter and you're going to do your job and they're going to leave me behind. >> reporter: three weeks ago, with bags packed and having sold everything he owned, he got the news that president trump's executive order on immigration meant that the visa he had waited almost six years to get
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would be cancelled. >> i was shocked, like someone just popped me in the head. like, it's over, all the dreams that i had. everything that i planned has just vanished from my life. even my little kids, like my eldest son, he kept asking me, "daddy, why is trump stopping us from going to the states?" and i had no answer for him. >> reporter: because you believed in this brotherhood that you had been a part of for so long? >> exactly. i've had this feeling like someone is going to stand for me, and the american society is the america that i know is totally different from the decisions that have been made lately by those executive orders. and i was like, this is not america. >> reporter: someone did stand up for him. protests erupted all over the country. and just under a week later, the pentagon recommended that the ban be amended to allow visa holders who worked for the u.s. military to immigrate. so once again, the family
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prepared to travel. and half a world away, another family is preparing. sitar khidir, one of abdul hamid's best friends, has been living here in san diego for the last 5.5 years. as a former u.s. air force contractor, he immigrated on the same type of visa. abdul hamid helped him and many others fill out their visa applications to get out. >> reporter: and he did all of this just out of the kindness of his heart? >> yes. >> reporter: he's a good man. >> he is. he is a great man. >> reporter: is this an opportunity to give back to him? >> yes. i will do whatever it costs to just help him out. i will do my best. >> reporter: it hasn't been easy for sattar, either. he arrived in 2011, and has struggled to find steady work in
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i can't find any jobs for me like translating because there is a lot of translators over here, they translate for government. >> reporter: abdul hamid and his family are moving to this suburb of san diego, which has more iraqi refugees than anywhere else in the united states. this main street could be in anytown, u.s.a., yet it's been nicknamed little baghdad. in the last five years, over 8,000 iraqi refugees have been resettled in the greater san diego area. that's almost 10% of total arrivals nationwide. a local resettlement agency has found abdul hamid an apartment, but it's not ready yet. and the rent is $1,500 a month, almost a quarter of a one-time allowance given to them by the state department. >> so this is where they will be staying? >> reporter: while he waits, sattar, his wife and two children are making space in their two-bedroom apartment for abdul hamid's family of five.
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so this is your room, and now your family's going to be in here. >> yes. >> reporter: it's gong to be tight! >> yeah, i know that, but we're going to be fine, it's a temporary situation. i know it's tight, but this is what i can do and we will have fun. >> reporter: back in iraq, all is going according to plan. the family sets off on the 24- hour journey to the other side of the world. it's an emotional departure. >> ( translated ): we hope life will be better. we hope our children's education will be better. but i'm so sad that i won't be able to see my mother. >> reporter: and fear is never far from their minds. >> i always had this doubt, because it happened a couple weeks ago. some people were airborne and they were stopped from coming into the united states. i had this fear that maybe something would pop up at the end of my journey. >> reporter: it was a nailbiter on this end as well. but finally, the moment abdul hamid says he'd been worried
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would never happen. >> when i first got off from the airport and i looked around to see sattar and i actually saw him, it's kind of hard for men to cry, but i actually cried. it was like a dream come true it was an amazing moment. it's something that i'm not going to forget it in my lifetime. i will never forget that moment. first thing in the morning, i took a step outside and took a really long breathe and looked around and i told myself, yep, it is true, and i am here in the united states of america. >> what do you want for your family in general? >> a brighter future for my family especially my down syndrome kid. what i'm most worried about if
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they start talking about this ban again or if anybody starts to make a difference between all of these types of religion or make it hard for muslims, then i'm going to be suffering. >> reporter: you're more worried about discrimination than getting a job and an apartment and -- >> i know it's meant for me to be here. i'm kind of worried about getting a job, but i will get a job one day soon, hopefully. >> reporter: but with the goal of finally reaching this country, the fear began to settle in. with little money and a small dispensation from the government, abdul hamid has to make a life for his family. >> i know a lot of folks are coming out here as immigrants and as refugees, so i know the opportunity of getting a job is going to be hard. but i believe in myself and i believe in my destiny and i think i'll be good. i'll do my best to be good. >> reporter: for the pbs
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"newshour", marsha biggs in san diego, california. >> sreenivasan: public opinion polls show we live in a deeply divided country, particularly when it comes to politics. it's been four months since the election, and just a few weeks into the new trump administration. so how are voters responding? the newshour's william brangham is just back from a reporting trip to texas. he's here with me now. what exactly did you set out to do? >> we wanted to talk to voters on both sides of the political spectrum. we were in texas, we went to two very different places and i asked people four or five, six questions, identical questions in both places and you will see it's as if voters are living in two completely different worlds. let's take a look. bellville, >> brangham: bellville, texas is a small, rural town an hour's drive from houston. its streets are lined with single family homes and locally-
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owned shops. but a recently-renamed restaurant in town has become something of an attraction: the trump cafe. so, you changed the name to trump café two weeks before the election? >> before. yes, sir. >> brangham: what if trump hadn't won the election? >> you know, actually, we pray for god to he wins. i'm so glad he win. i'm so glad, you know. >> brangham: so if hillary clinton had won, would this be clinton café? >> no, i will move back home. >> brangham: sue hawa owns the place with her husband. trump memorabilia is everywhere. the big seller on the menu is "the trump burger:" onion rings, b.b.q. sauce, bacon, topped with an american flag. as you might imagine, the trump cafe is full of trump supporters. 80% of the county here voted for the president. how was election night for you? >> it was great. i was on cloud nine. i was a trump guy from day one. >> brangham: is that right? day one? >> from day one. soon as he said it, i was like, we need something other than a politician.
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>> i was so excited when he won, because you know, i just believed in everything that he says. we were so ready for a change, and he listened to the people. >> brangham: a hundred miles west, and a political world apart, is austin, the state capital, a liberal outpost in this red state. we visited what is perhaps austin's version of the trump cafe: the bouldin creek cafe, a vegetarian place in south austin. two thirds of the county here voted for hillary clinton. chesley allen is the general manager. >> it's kind of the nexus, or the heart of what people think of, when they think of austin as the offbeat, funky, "keep austin weird," that sort of thing. >> brangham: the day after president trump's inauguration, the cafe donated profits to the a.c.l.u., the southern poverty law center and planned parenthood. >> because i'm pretty sure that i fit almost every demographic that's going to be ruined by
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this administration, that i feel like i have to speak out. >> brangham: what was election night like for you? >> brutal, devastating, heartbreaking. >> if i were to have a nightmare that night, then my nightmare would be a reality, because i definitely didn't want trump to win. >> my big fear with him is that he is coming out fast and hard with a lot of big stuff, but i really, truly believe that he is just trying to tire out his opposition. >> brangham: to spend a few hours in these two places, talking to people on either side of the political divide, is to see just how deep the chasm is in our politics. what have you made of his cabinet picks so far? >> i love every one of 'em. >> brangham: every one of them? >> i love betsy devos. i love her. i hope she does something about education. i love sessions, jeff sessions. he is not a racist, it's just ridiculous. >> i don't know how he could've picked more unqualified people to run things like the education department, or rick perry for energy.
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it's a direct mirror of how much of a role money plays in politics. >> brangham: the politics of the team running the white house-- including steve bannon, former chairman of breitbart news-- has been a source of controversy. >> i love steve bannon. i think he's great. he says what he says, means what he says. that's why they don't like him! people who are just namby-pamby, little "me, me," they don't like people who are outspoken. >> brangham: you have any thoughts on steve bannon? >> yes. he's the devil incarnate. >> brangham: the devil incarnate? >> yes, he got the man elected and so, i guess he got a payback, so he made himself an advisor. but everything he stands for, i do not. >> i have a lot of muslim friends, and friends who are also people of color, and so it's just very disturbing to me how it could have progressed to such a state.
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>> brangham: patrons of these restaurants are also split on the news they trust. what are some of your main sources of news? >> i would say, the guardian, cnn and pbs and npr. i listen to npr every morning. >> i think it's great that he's on twitter, because now we know what he is thinking everyday. no filter. >> if you look where the media comes from, the mainline journalist schools, and you go and you look at the numbers on that, it's pretty much a bet that a mainline journalist is going to be not a conservative, be more in the school of being progressive and everything. >> fox. >> brangham: fox news. >> yeah, almost excl-- i will not look at cnn. i get ill. >> brangham: straight up fox news viewer. >> i have a brother that watches fox news constantly. and it's on 24 hours a day, i think, at his house. they came here to austin to visit me over christmas, and the
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room he was staying in has a tv. and on the cable box, i blocked that station. >> i have a sister who can't stand the guy and we still talk, but i try not to talk politics with her. >> brangham: she's still your sister, though. >> yeah, she's still my sister. she's always going to be my sister. >> brangham: the couple who runs the trump cafe say there's a reason they're open to all diners. their own story seems to cross political divides. so you're a palestinian muslim couple that owns a café in texas named the trump café. you understand how some people might think, "that sounds like a bizarre combination." >> i like my president. actually, i like him because
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he's a businessman. he know how to do business, you know? and actually, what he trying to do, it's excellent. >> brangham: now, do you let democrats eat here? >> you know, welcome to, yeah, you know welcome to everyone likes to come inside my restaurant. my door open for everybody. you know, republican, democratic, same, you know. >> brangham: for the pbs newshour, i'm william brangham. >> woodruff: now to the analysis of shields and brooks. that is syndicated columnist mark shields and "new york times" columnist david brooks. welcome, gentlemen. david, to you first, that was quite a report from william brangham, two towns in texas, two groups of people, both sides of the political aisle. what does it tell you about how
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divided this country is? >> welcome to life in america these days. for those of us who have been traveling around, that's reality. two things strike me, the first is poll six the based on social identity, and, so, again, there is going to be differences between rural and urban and left and right, but what's at the core, why is the chasm so wide between the two and why are the two universes almost non-overlapping? it's whether we're in-group, out-group or is there a cultural or ethnic or racial divide that's at the bottom of this? it's hard to find out what unconsciously is making people so fervent in yon universe or the other. whether it's an identity politics or whether we like to form groups and identify with one group which hating another, that's the world we're in. >> woodruff: that you couldn't have been more divided than they were. >> they weren't. they were characteristically texan, outspoken. they didn't hide their
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allegiances or enemities. i thought eternal love was disabling the fox news channel when his brother came to visit for christmas. not exactly a loving act, it would seem, but something that he boasted about to william on national television. >> woodruff: what all of them are reacting to is what's been going on here in washington, david, certainly during campaign. but since, we heard them say they -- the ones who like donald trump, they love his cabinet picks and like his staff, but during this past week, the president's had a rough go of it, certainly losing his national security advisor michael flynn being forced out, and then the man the president wanted to have replace him announced publicly that he wasn't going to take the job. what do you make of how the president did this week? >> yeah, to me, the big qasem of the week is the gap between the circus act and the substance. the press conference was its own thing, it's like some exploding nebula of madness.
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i thought it was mildly deranged. the epitome of non-linear thinking, let's put it that way. what strikes me, we've got to remember what is the guy actually doing? and here we have an administration where he's making a lot of press conferences, but on the substantive picks, he doesn't have a national security advisor, there are 691 confirmable positions in the white house. the trump administration has not even come up with names and nominees for 6301 out of those 691. so there is nobody there. nobody in the shop, no policymaking being made, and, so, i compar it so, you know, trump is sitting on the control deck of the starship enterprise, and he can push a lot of pretty buttons but the buttons aren't connected to anything so nothing is happening. >> woodruff: mark, what's getting the attention is what the president was saying this week, and the this very public departure of his national security advisor, one of any
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president's closest advisors, michael flynn. >> and certainly one of this president's closest and most loyal supporters. i mean, spoke at the confirmation and was in consideration for vice president. so this wasn't just a late connection. the irony to me, judy, was that michael flynn, the reason for his leaving was not that he had misled the vice president about his conversations with the russian ambassador about sanctions or possibly sanctions and retaliation, but the fact that the president knew about it, had been informed about it, and mike pence, the vice president, only learned about being disassembled to by the national security through the free press. so it wasn't the act itself, it was the public exposure of the act.
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so it was bizarre. he does not have a successor. i just think more than anything else what we're seeing in this administration, judy, is campaigns are fun. campaigns are police escorts, airplanes, crowds, balloons, bands, a lot of fun, you speak in vague generalities, you get applause for slogans, and then governing comes, and governing is tedious and it's difficult an it's time consuming and it demands your attention, and policy isn't vague generalities, it's specifics and it's based on knowledge. i will say this, this white house is preciously scarce on attention, and i just don't think the president -- i think the president -- that press conference you talked about really returned to the campaign station. wants to again saturday. it's back to the balloons and the bands and the cheers. that's fun.
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>> woodruff: meanwhile, there is the controversy swirl around. there is seven or eight investigations going on about whether there is a connection between the trump campaign and russia, looking at whether it was campaign officials, whether michael flynn's talking to the ambassador, i mean, there are very real concerns out there hanging over this administration. >> yeah, there are three russia scandals, all the ones. to me the most signature is the contactser the trump came pain may have had with the russians during the campaign. we know they had contacts, we don't know the content. if there is collaboration, if there is some sort of quotation suggesting they got tipped off about the leaks, that would be a cat cliz my scandal and rock the whole administration. my instinct from talking to people in the intelligence community is there is no grade showing paul manafort getting tipped off by the russians or we would have had it by now.
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if there was a week to "the washington post," they probably would have leaked it. i don't have any "new york times" information. there is a series of scandals ratcheting up on the administration. >> woodruff: is it possible the press, all of us are making too much of all this russia concern? >> it is, judy, but the only two entities and news sources that deny russia's involvement and malicious involvement in the election of the united states president attempt to influence the outcome appear to be vladimir putin's russia and donald trump who calls this russian ruse, and i don't have inside information as to what went on. but there is enough at this pointening it puts the republican in congress in a terribly defensive crouch. >> woodruff: david, you started out with pretty strong language describing the news conference.
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i wrote down and you said the president came across as mildly deranged. did you really mean that? >> i'll walk that back a little. if we -- he's not coherently speaking as a president should who's going to be carefully giving orders, who's going to be uniting the american people. he is speaking as someone who's involved in a junior high school gladtorial attack on the press, and parts were bizarre and somewhat offensive, picking on an african-american reporter and assuming she knew people in the congressional black caucus because all black people are supposed to know each other. but the tweets saying my newspaper, nbc, all these organizations are enemies of the people. if you want to draw rhetoric out of the fascist play book, enemies to have the people, that has so many historical echos.
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it's ill liberal and offensive to the way democracy is supposed to work and how one is supposed to act within the institutions of democracy. so within that context seems to me strong hangs badge is merited. >> woodruff: donald trump was critical about the press throughout the campaign and he won. so the american people -- and we heard william brangham talking to voters in texas who have completely different views of which parts of the news media they listen to. could this be a winning strategy on theth's part? >> i don't think so, judy. he ran against hillary clinton. he -- that was his opponent. the tough thing about a campaign being over is you lose your enemy. president barack obama, at this point in his presidency, in 2009, was on his way already to having passed the bailout, the economic bailout, passed the equal pay. he was on the way to healthcare. this is the time you build
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coalitions. donald trump is spending his time, his energy, precious time, and really, just creating these new enemies or trying to look for a villain like hillary clinton was that he could run against. he needs that as an organizing principle. without an organizing principle of an enemy, the press is a punching bag, it's unpopular, yes, it doesn't approach the sense of vinaly that he's looking for, and i just don't think it will wash long-term as a political strategy. >> woodruff: david, do you think that's what he's doing and do you agree with mark, it's not going to work in the long run? >> i think it offends 65% or 70% of the american people, but as we just saw from texas, it pleases 35% of the people, so i think he can hang along with 35% of the people for a long time. i've been asking republicans on the hill are they worried,
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personally they are, but there will be no distance among republicans and donald trump anytime soon. among republicans according to pew poll, 82% of republicans supported donald trump which is more than ronald reagan in his administration. so 30% of americans like the guy. so there will not be a governorring coalition, but he will retain, if he continues it this way, some solid base of support. >> let me disagree a little with david. what have going against them is history. judy, when a sitting president has his job rating in the gallup polls drop below 50%, that president's party loses an average of 37 seats in the house of representatives in the next election. above 50, they lose an average of 14 seats. by the end of this year -- donald trump is 35, this is his
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honeymoon. he's at that point now. it's hard to see how he goes higher without some international crisis that galvanized total national unanimity. january, his window of opportunity to pass something big, and these are difficult, tricky, complicated issues he's trying to write legislation for, is -- between now and december, by the first of january, members of the party on the hill start thinking about themselves and they have to establish independence from an unpopular person in the white house. they've got to think about getting reelected. >> woodruff: ten seconds, david. sounds like the clock is ticking. >> they're living in a hermetically sealed room as the democrats are. it leads to downfall. >> woodruff: thank you both.
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>> sreenivasan: finally, an actor at the heart of the "oscars so white" controversy takes on a new role, based on a true story set in colonial africa. jeffrey brown has the story from los angeles. it's part of our occasional series, "beyond the red carpet." i'm not asking for an answer this very second. all i ask of you is that you go away and think about it. >> brown: in 1947 london -- >> reporter: in 1947 london, sereste khama, played by david oyelowo, proposes to ruth williams, played by actress rosamund pike. >> yes! >> reporter: their races make the relationship fraught. but there's more: he is a prince in his tribe in southern africa, expected to return to lead his
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people, and their marriage will have international consequences. "a united kingdom" is based on a true story, and it was oyelowo who first learned of it, in a book titled, "color bar," by susan williams. more than just the film's star, he was the producer who brought director amma asante and others into the project. >> what was indisputable to me was the power in the love between these two people, and it was that very thing that helped them overcome so many of these insurmountable obstacles and odds that they faced. and you know, as someone who is a real believer in love myself, and i mean love in the truest sense, not movie love, i'm talking about the unglamorous stuff of sacrifice, of courage. >> reporter: i must say this film has movie love, almost love at first sight, right? >> but the thing about that is that we, you know, we even have a name for it, the "meet cute." you know, we've turned it into
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something that is so fantastical and so inaccessible that it has become fairytale-like. but actually, what can happen-- it doesn't happen every day, admittedly-- is that two people see beyond their race, see beyond their cultural differences and their national differences, and they just, two souls meet. we should be fighting for equality. that is where we should be focusing our minds, not on the wife i have chosen who means you no harm! >> reporter: the historical characters, khama and williams, become caught up in colonial-era politics, as britain tries to hold onto the land that will later become botswana, while maintaining close ties to the neighboring apartheid regime of south africa. >> it is unacceptable that they use their power to keep us voiceless! > >> reporter: oyelowo is best known for his portrayal of
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another historical figure, martin luther king in the film, "selma." and he starred in a recent film based on a true story set in a slum in uganda, "the queen of katwe." born in england, oyelowo spent ages 6 through 13 in nigeria, before returning and eventually becoming a classically-trained stage actor. he was the first black actor to play an english king, "henry vi," for the royal shakespeare company. he recently returned to shakespeare, this time on broadway, in "othello." i asked what made him want to take on a role. >> it's got to resonate for me but also, i want to make things that are synonymous with who i am as a man and how i'm bringing up my children. you know, what it is i believe in, because this is a very powerful medium. culturally, politically, familially, it can shape people's thoughts. >> reporter: i think of this film and i think of "selma" and "queen of katwe," clearly films that have a larger context to
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them, right? a history. >> yeah, i think that is also a key and is crucial to me. you used the word "context" there-- something that is very important to me is contextualizing what it is to be someone who looks like me, on planet earth. and by that i mean, a black man. and i've lived on three continents as a black man, and there are differences. there are complexities and dimensions to being someone like me in all of those places, that are rarely, in my opinion, seen on film and television. >> reporter: to the extent that you don't see "you" much in the film world, that has limited the roles that you can get? >> it hasn't, because i have chosen to do something about it. you know, i produced, "a united kingdom," and i'm pretty sure that's the only way this film would have got made.
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>> reporter: do it yourself. >> yeah, do it yourself. and because i'm very passionate about seeing a story like this told, and passion is what makes you roll up your sleeves and get it done. and passion, i think, can be contagious. >> reporter: i read that early on, you asked your agent to go after roles that might have been written for white actors. >> yeah, again, like producing, it was born out of necessity. when i looked at my white contemporaries or the white actors ahead of me as a young actor back then, there was complexity that made me see myself in them, even though they were white people living a very different life than mine. i was able to identify what they were going through emotionally and i couldn't identify necessarily with what black characters i saw in films and
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tv were going through because it was one-dimensional. at best, two-dimensional. >> reporter: oyelowo was directly caught up in the 2015 "oscars so white" controversy when his critically-acclaimed performance in "selma" failed to receive an oscar nomination, and neither did any other actor of color. you said in an interview, there's resistance to films with black protagonists, especially if they can't have denzel washington in the lead role. >> right. that must be qualified with me saying, he is one of my heroes and i would go anywhere to see him. >> reporter: as would i, that's not to denigrate him. he's a great actor. >> absolutely. but yes, there is a reason why there's isn't a plethora of other black actors that you could reel off the tip of your tongue, who in that space that he occupies, which is that he can play anything. he's not tied to race as the
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prerequisite for why he gets to be the protagonist in a film. and the resistance is i think purely to do with the decision makers. they want to see themselves in movies, as we all do. and so what you see in movies is a reflection of those who are making the decisions. >> reporter: but for you personally, your producer role becomes almost as important, perhaps, as your acting role. >> yeah, crucial in a sense. you know, you can either complain about this stuff or you can do what you can to change it and that's the tack i've chosen. >> reporter: david oyelowo, producer and actor, stars in the new film "a united kingdom," just out in theaters nationwide. from los angeles, i'm jeffrey brown, for the pbs newshour.
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>> woodruff: on the newshour online right now: the director of an oscar-nominated documentary walks us through his favorite scene of best picture nominee "moonlight," ahead of the academy awards ceremony next weekend. all that and more is on our website, www.pbs.org/newshour. and tonight on "washington week," nearly a month into the oval office, president trump is facing new questions about his administration's relationship with russia. a deep dive into the president's push-back at leaks and the consequences of alternative facts, later tonight on "washington week." >> sreenivasan: tomorrow, on pbs newshour weekend, the designation of a national monument in the nevada desert has some people pushing for the trump administration to undo another part of the obama legacy. and that's the newshour for tonight. i'm hari sreenivasan. >> woodruff: and i'm judy woodruff. have a great president's day weekend. thank you, and see you soon.
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>> major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by: >> bnsf railway. >> xq institute. >> supporting social entrepreneurs and their solutions to the world's most pressing problems-- skollfoundation.org. >> and the william and flora hewlett foundation, helping people build immeasurably better lives. >> and with the ongoing support of these institutions: >> this program was made possible by the corporation for public broadcasting. and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. captioning sponsored by newshour productions, llc
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captioned by media access group at wgbh access.wgbh.org
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hello. welcome to kqed newsroom. coming up on the program, the threat of flooding at the ooville dam may have receded but there's urgent need to maintain california's aging infrastructure. on the 75th anniversary of the executive order that authorized the interment of japanese-americans, i'll talk to the lawyer who challenged the legality. and what tom has learned as a legislator and entertainer. as part of the continuing coverage of the first 100 days of the new 5d mrgs, earlier this week mime flynn resigned as national security adviser when it was revealed he discussed sanctions with a russian diplomat before donald trump took office.

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