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tv   Matter of Fact With Soledad O Brien  NBC  January 17, 2021 5:00am-5:30am PST

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>> right now on matter of fact -- >> last night there were over 100 individuals that came in. justice at the southern border. >> you said you presided over a process that destroys families. >> yes, i have said that. hundreds of children still >> separated from their parents. but on the day he's sworn in, president-elect joe biden says he'll take steps to reunite these families. >> i will introduce an immigration bill immediately. but reversing trump's >> immigration policies will be a tall task. then >> i donald john trump do
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solemnly swear -- >> the oath of office is a pledge to uphold the constitution. and the carefully chosen words are more than symbolism. >> so help me god. the reasons this scholar says >> subpoenathe powers granted by the constitution cannot be taken for granted. >> subpoenademocracy is a fragile thing. >> plus, big tech's big decision to silence a president. will the impact of the social media ban set a dangerous precedent for the future? ♪ soledad: i'm soledad o'brien. welcome to matter of fact. president-elect snow bide will be elected next week and on day one he's promised to undo most from not all of president trump's immigration reforms. among his promises, biden has
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pledged to create a task force dedicated to reuniting the remaining children who were separated from their parents at the border. those separations, a result of trump's zero tolerance policy, which required criminal prosecutions of all undocumented adults crossing the border. more than 600 children still have not seen their parents, some for more than three years. correspondent jessica gomez traveled to las cruces, new mexico, to sit down with federal judge robert brack, who has applied to be on that task force. he says he wants the new administration and the public to see what he sees every >> i have felt from the first day, being asked to consider a judgeship, that i've been called to this position. >> for 18 years, u.s. district court judge robert brack has made the walk to his courtroom. appointed by george bush, most of his cases involve
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immigration. i see the criminal side of >> immigration, cases that involve people who have been deported from the united states, typically mexican citizens, oftentimes central american, and they've come back without permission. >> the federal courthouse in which he presides, in las cruces, new mexico, surrounded by mountains. and more than 40 miles to the south, the mexican border. >> you've got numerous agents pa trolling right on the line -- >> a border state with border issues. today, a breach in the wall. >> last night there were over 100 individuals that came through. >> these two men from ecuador, captured for a third time, trying to get to work in new york. nearby, on the mexican side of the wall, one of hundreds of stone border monuments, once the only markers separating the two countries. >> it represents the united states and mexico, the coming together at our border. >> judge brack, like so many of
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his defendants, caught between cultures and ever changing immigration policies. >> i am enforcing a law that people know that they've broken but my frustration is we keep changing the target. >> are you able to hear me? >> in an often grueling and predictable routine, judge brack hands down his sentences. now in an empty courtroom, his defendants appearing virtually from detention centers throughout the state. >> i see hardened crlings but most of the people i see are not those. most of the people i see are just salt of the earth people looking for work that don't have criminal history. the people i am talking about have been here for years and because we looked the other way, because we wanted them here, we needed them here but then policy changes. and they go from someone who was welcomed here to being a felon.
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can we have it both ways as a country? we want them here? but they are criminals and we don't want them here? there is a reckoning that has to happen. >> a reckoning, that judge brack says, is up to the american people. >> it's not my place to advocate. i just want to inform people about what i know . >> i read somewhere that you have said you presided over a process that destroys families. >> yes, i have said that. a lot of people were outraged by families being separated, children being taken from their parents. and i'm not sure that people that, in a different form, this has been going on as long as we have been enforcing our immigration laws. >> over the years, letters to politicians in washington, seemingly falling on deaf ears. this one, to president obama, about one of his defendants. >> a particular gentleman who by invitation of the united states
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government as a par piss pants in the bracero program. at some point he was charged with felony re-entry and as i sentenced him to time served and deported him back to mexico, he was understandably confused. he is 75 years old, he has no other criminal history, and today he was punished and branded a felon for doing the very thing we invited him to do at a time when it suited our needs. he will be deported within the next few days to a country he knows nothing about. that's all i can talk about that. get me fired up if i'm not careful. >> it gets you emotional? >> sure, it does. and that's why i hope to be a part of a fix, because i've been a part of the damage for so long. >> a fix, he says, for a system
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still broken. as the sun sets on yet another day in new mexico. in las cruces, for matter of fact, i'm jessica gomez. >> next on "matter of fact " -- honoring the oath of office -- >> i took an oath under god. under god! i took an oath. do we still take that seriously in this country? plus, how big tech set a precedent with the president, and how this woman gave strangers something to hold on to once their loved ones were gone. did you know that 70% of the for a deep clean, try tide hygienic clean! if it's got to be clean, it's got to be tide. i am robert strickler. i've been involved in communications in the media
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now california phones offers free devices and accessories for your mobile phone. like this device to increase volume on your cell phone. - ( phone ringing ) - get details on this state program visit right now or call during business hours. soledad: welcome back to "matter of fact ." as we approach the coming inauguration of joe biden and kamala harris, we stop to consider the state of the presidency itself and the oath of office. before they take offers, elected
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officials swear to uphold the u.s. constitution but what happens when they're acruised of going the -- doing the opposite? but what happens when they are accused of doing the opposite? presidential scholars argue the oath is part of democracy's glue. corey brettschneider is a professor of political science at brown university and a visiting law professor at fordham law school. he is the author of "the oath and the office: a guide to the constitution for future presidents." corey brettschneider, so nice to see you again. let's start with the oath of office. >> and will, to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the constitution of the united states, so help me god. soledad: beginning with president trump himself, do you believe the president has, in fact, violated this oath and specifically how? >> the president in article ii has to, in the first seconds in office, take the oath to preserve, protect and defend the constitution of the united states. the peaceful transition of power is the definition of what it
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means to be in a democracy and he's undermined it, unlike literally any other president in history. soledad: so let's talk about the congress people. do you believe that some of them have, in fact, also violated their oath of office? >> yes. i mean, and that's a fundamental point. the constitution outlines the oath of the president, but other oaths are taken to uphold the rule of law, the constitution, including members of congress. but these members who are members of qanon are supporters of it or others who might not be that extreme but still have claimed, have lied about supposed fraud in this election with no evidence. they don't just violate a provision of the constitution, they really violate its part. it's an undermining of our democracy. and this is a historic event, really unlike any other. soledad: is there ever a moment where a member of congress is a private citizen and can say, as a member of congress, i'm saying this, but as a private citizen, here's what i believe.
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and those two things are not -- are separate. >> i think members of congress and the president have free speech rights like you and i, and so you can't go to jail, i think, for instance, for indulging in a conspiracy theory or in simply saying, i think that this election was fixed when it wasn't. but there's a difference between that and the obligation that comes with the office to tell the truth, to protect democracy. and if you want to continue to hold the office, you've got to comply with at least the minimum requirements of the oath. soledad: many people are talking about moving on and unity, to quote the soon-to-be president biden's own words. i found that kind of perplexing. >> talk of move forward or let's get along. kumbaya. no. when you're facing an t down insurrection. stop it. and most important is that we've got to make sure it doesn't happen a -- i don't think
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the framers gave us enough ways to protect ourselves against a dangerous president. but they did give us one tool, and that's impeachment removal and disqualification for office. why did they do that? not just because they thought that a president should be punished for being bad, but because it was about protecting democracy, making sure that going forward, the most powerful person in the country and his or her allies in congress weren't able to undermine the stability of the entire nation. and they thought that was a real danger. soledad: i think that the media in many ways kind of downplayed things that were being overtly said and we never figured out how to say if something's a lie, if something's misinformation, if something is inciting a riot and violence, if something's against democracy, how do we cover it? >> we have a huge protection of free speech in this country. we protect holocaust denial. germany criminalizes it. we protect all sorts of white supremacist statements that would land you in jail in the rest of the world, literally.
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it's only going to basically avoid the collapse of democracy if journalists do their job. that truth won't win out if people aren't fact-checking in real time as social media failed to do and as the media in general failed to do. soledad: nice to chat with you. >> coming up -- should big tech be passive when it comes to online speech? or is social media complicit in dividing the nation? and -- >> the two men despised each other. >> which presidents skipped the inaugura
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soledad: welcome to matter of fact. social media is just one of many factors that played a role in the deadly attack on the u.s capitol. but it's a huge one. that attack was openly planned online for weeks following the november election. but for years disinformation, conspiracy theories and calls for political violence went unchecked on social media. now the immense power and responsibility of big tech has never been clearer. professor olivier silvain is a professor of law at fordham university. his research is in communication law and policy. professor olivier sylvaine, thank you for talking with me. there are some people who i think are looking at this twitter ban of the president or even all the issues that folks on parler are having and saying, hey, this is a first amendment issue. this is a first amendment right that is now being violated by a social media company. do companies always have the ability to put limits on the
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people who are using their services? >> so, there are limits that the companies set out in their terms of use with users, and those companies have to abide by those terms as users do. so that's a limit that every party who is engaged in the transaction have to agree. there is another question, though, about what the law limits and section 230 does allow these companies to make these moderation decisions through their terms of service with users. soledad: what responsibility do you think that twitter and facebook and even youtube, which you mentioned, do they have in limiting some of this speech, hate speech? how can you help social media companies do a better job when it comes to misinformation and disinformation. historically, and maybe i'm >> biased because i'm a law professor, law is the way that we do that. the problem is that, as i mentioned a second ago, section
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230 has created an immunity, safe harbor, for entry if i -- entities like twitter and facebook, and they haven't felt the brunt and burden of law in ways that every other kind of media company would. that is not allowing fraudulent content, not allowing harassing content, harmful content, unlawful content. not just not just awful content, but unlawful content. soledad: twitter isvery different, is treated very differently than "the new york times." why are they not treated like media companies? >> in 1996, when congress enacted the communications decency act, what we now call section 230, legislators didn't want to put shackles on an emergent business, an emergent line of communication. a view that innovation would be possible and that that the internet would be a true, authentic expression of society in ways that the prevailing media weren't. that might have been true 25 years ago.
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the business model that emerges after that is really just about privileging and optimizing user engagement. the algorithms deploy content in the interest of maximizing or optimizing user engagement for the purposes of delivering ads. soledad: what do you think happens, both on the first amendment right front and also how social media companies are going to really think about how they have to be responsible for what is being published on their platforms? >> on the first amendment front, i don't see a lot of movement. constitutional law is hard to reform. and the only entity responsible for really doing it is the supreme court. this court has not evinced any interest really in narrowing th. to the contrary has expanded it to and to include the rights of
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companies. section 230 reform, i think, is the most interesting and likeliest. and there are several bills that have been in play in d.c. that would reform the way in which courts evaluate whether an intermediary like twitter or facebook is complicit in the distribution of harmful content. and the third is really addressed to your question, are they going to change in are these companies going to change? it's costly for them to not have as engaging content and not have as much hateful content. that they're making the decisions based on the bottom line worries me a great deal. and i think we don't want them to be making the ultimate decision. thank you for talking with me. soledad: appreciate it. >> sure. thanks for having me. next, sewing a lasting >> connection to victims of covid-19. but first, what john adams and donald trump have in common.
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soledad: now to a weekly feature we like to call "we're paying attention even if you're too busy." donald trump's last tweet, before his account was permanently suspended,
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announced he would not be attending the transfer of power to president-elect joe biden on capitol hill on january 20th. trump will be the first outgoing president in 152 years to boycott the swearing-in ceremony of his successor. this last happened in 1869 when president andrew johnson stayed in the white house while ulysses s. grant was sworn in as the 18th president. the two men despised each other. they didn't see eye-to-eye over reconstruction of the defeated south after the civil war. by the time johnson was leaving office, he was a one-term president who was the first to ever be impeached in u.s. history. but it was john adams who set the precedent. he left washington the morning of thomas jeffson's his son,dent john quincy adams, left washington the bay before the 1829 swearing in of andrew jackson. still ahead, as covid
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soledad: in this week's view finder, we're in san antonio, texas. inside the alamodome where the covid-19 vaccine was distributed. all online reservations for all 9,000 shots were booked in six minutes. and finally, teddy bears made from the clothing of covid-19 victims. erendira guerrero initially made the bears for families devastated by the violence in juarez, mexico. but now with the pandemic taking a toll, guerrero is getting customers longing to remember their family members who died from the virus. relatives bring in a favorite shirt and then guerrero tuts the shirt and sews it to the bear. sometimes she even includes a thoughtful note. a lasting gift for $30. guerrero estimates she has made about 200 bears for families.
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a little comfort in these difficult times. that's it for this edition of matter of fact yfrpblts i'm soledad o'brien and we'll see you ba here [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org] ♪
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today on "asian-pacific american," we highlight fred koramatsu day, january 30th, who fought and won the legal fight over japanese-american internment and project innovation grant winner and performance by guitarist prodigy willsome. hello, i'm robert handa your host for our show on nbc bay area and kozi-tv. this is "asia-pacific america."
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