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tv   PBS News Hour  PBS  February 26, 2021 3:00pm-4:00pm PST

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captioning sponsored by newshour productions, llc >> woodruff: good evening, i'm judy woodruff. on the newshour tonight: covid relief. congress moves closer to passing a sweeping stimulus bill despite the uncertain future of a minimum wage increase. then, pressure points. the biden administration faces early foreign policy tests, with a new report on the murder of saudi journalist jamal khashoggi and air strikes in syria. plus, "post"-script. speak to the outgoing editor of the "washington post" about the khashoggi murder and the state of american journalism. >> so many people now are going to sources of information, or so-called information, that affirms their pre-existing point of view. they're looking to be affirmed and not necessarily to be
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informed. and, it's friday. david brooks and jonathan capehart weigh in on the president's disaster relief trip to texas, an imperiled cabinet nomination, and this weekend's conservative conference. 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. >> fidelity wealth management. >> consumer cellular. >> johnson & johnson. >> the john s. and james l. knight foundation. fostering informed and engaged communities. more at >> and with the ongoing support of these institutions: and friends of the newshour. >> this program was made possible by the corporation for public broadcasting. and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you.
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>> woodruff: the u.s. house of representatives is on the verge of passing a $1.9 trillion covid relief bill, even after democrats suffered a setback on one of their key priorities. our daniel bush is here with the latest on where things stand, and what comes next. hello to you, dan. first of all, where do things stand with regard to this covid economic relief? >> judy, the house is now one step closer towards passing this bill. we're waiting now for a vote that is going to happen at someç point later tonight. house speaker nancy pelosi is a master at keeping her conference together, even in tough votes. it's expected that this bill will likely pass. there are, of course, some contentious issues, like minimum wage, as you just mentioned. but there are a lot of ningz here democrats do want. let's take a look at the big-ticket items. $1,400 to direct payments to individuals making less than
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$75,000 and couples less than $100,000 would get the full amount. an additional $400 a week in unemployment assistance. that would extend to the end of august, as well as $350 billion in local and state aid, and $14 billion for vaccine research. so there's a lot in this very, very big bill here. now, if the house passes it later tonight, the action would shift to the senate. i'm being told that the senate is preparing to introduce its own version of this bill. sources are telling me that could happen as early as next week. and senate majority leader chuck schumer wants to get this done by march 14. that's when the current unemployment benefits included in the last covid bill are set to expire, and he is confident, i'm being told, that he can make that deadline. >> woodruff: so, dan, meantime, as we've mentioned, an officer of the senate, the parliamentarian, has ruled that the minimum wage cannot be included in this covid relief
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bill. so where does minimum wage go from here? >> that was a blow to democrat asks to president biden, no question. a lot of criticism from all quarters in the party for that ruling. bernie sanders, senator from vermont, he'll play a role in this going forward in the negotiation with the senate came out with a senate saying because of the archaic and undemocratic rules of the senate, we are unable to move forward to end starvation wages in this country and raise the income of 32 million struggling americans. the fight continues. the question now is how does that fight continue? one option democrats are looking at is finding a way to essentially do a workaround, including a different provision that would penalize businesses that don't pay workers more money. they think, democrats think that they can get this bill passed through budget reconciliation. it remains to be seen whether or not they can do that. that is the plan, though. and it does point to this division in the party, judy,
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between moderate democrats in the house who are a little uneasy about this minimum wage increase. they think it might hurt small-business owners in their district, and the progressives in the party who are putting a lot of pressure on leadership, both in the house and the senate, to include some form of a minimum wage increase in this covid relief legislation. >> woodruff: watching it very closely. daniel bush, thank you very much. much. >> woodruff: in the day's other news, an expert panel recommended a third covid vaccine for approval by the u.s. food and drug administration. it was developed by johnson and johnson-- which is also a newshour funder. the vaccine requires just one shot, and can be stored more
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easily. meanwhile, the c.d.c. warned today that cases have begun rising again this week. over the last few weeks, cases and hospital admissions in the united states had been coming down since early january, and deaths had been declining in the past week. but the latest data suggests that these declines may be stalling. it's important to remember where we are in the pandemic: things are tenuous. now is not the time to relax restrictions. >> woodruff: a number of u.s. cities and states have begun a gradual reopening in recent days. president biden spent this day in texas, surveying damage from last week's arctic storm and visiting a covid mass vaccination site. the storm killed at least 40 people in texas and caused severe power outages. more than one million texans are still under boil-water restrictions. the biden administration released findings today that saudi crown prince mohammed bin
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salman likely approved the murder of journalist jamal khashoggi. he was killed at the saudi consulate in turkey more than two years ago. the saudis rejected the findings. separately, the white house defended u.s. air strikes on an iranian-backed militia in syria. we'll examine both developments, after the news summary. more than 300 girls are missing in nigeria after gunmen raided a boarding school today. it happened in the northern state of zamfara, and was the country's third mass abduction since december. there was no immediate claim of responsibility. back in this country, nasa formally renamed its washington headquarters forary w. jackson. she was the space agency's first black female engineer, as told in the book and movie, "hidden fires." relatives and others paid tribute today to her determination to become a
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mathematician and aerospace engineer, despite racial segregation and discrimination. >> with the ficial naming of the mary w. jackson nasa headquarters today, we ensure that she is a hidden figure no longer. she personified nasa's spirit of persevering against all odds, providing inspiration and advancing science and exploration. >> woodruff: jackson passed away in 2005. and on wall street today, falling oil prices and tech stocks pushed the broader market down. the dow jones industrial average lost 469 points-- 1.5%-- to close at 30,932. and, the nasdaq rose 73 points. the s&p 500 added 18 points. still to come on the newshour: the biden administration faces major foreign policy tests in the middle east. the outgoing editor of the "washington post" discusses the
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state of american journalism. we examine the politics of federal responses to natural disasters. and, much more. >> woodruff: the last 24 hours have seen two major foreign policy developments. overnight, the biden administration launched its first known air strike against iranian-backed militias in syria. and today, the u.s. intelligence community released a damning report tying saudi arabia's crown prince to the murder of a journalist. to discuss both, we turn to nick schifrin. hello, nick. first of all, on the intelligence community report, tell us what is in here.
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what is it saying about what the crown prince of saudi arabia, his connection was to the murder of jamal khashoggi. >> schifrin: this is the first time we have seep the u.s. government's assessment on who murdered jamal khashoggi. the director of intelligence report begins, "we assess the crown prince mohammad bin salman approved an operation in istanbul turkey, to capture or kill jamal khashoggi. it says it makes that assessment based on the crown prince's control of decision making, the direct involvement of one of his key advisers and personal protective detail, and his prior support for using violent measures on dissidents. it does not include any firsthand intelligence that m.b.s. was responsible. you recall, judy, koork was once a pallalas insider who became a prominent critic of m.b.s. and on october 2018 khashoggi walked into the consulate in istanbul and was brutally
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murdered inside. afterward one of his murderers actually put on his clothes and left the embassy in an attempt to cover it up. administration officials and human rights advocates admit it is remarkable to see it out in public. and, nick, the biden administration moved quickly to announce how it's going to punish saudi arabia. tell us about that. >> yeah, the state department created what it is calling the requested khashoggi ban," imposing visas on anyone who threatens journalists, activists and it used it today to sanction 76 saudis. the treasure department sanctioned what it called the ring leader of the murder, and m.b.s.' personal protective detail, which was involved in khashoggi's death. but who is not on the list sanctioned today, judy, is m.b.s. himself.
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senior officials confirmed to me that president biden decided not to sanction mohammad bin salman, and that means human rights activists say today's action is simply not enough. take a listen to amrit singh. she is the director of the accountability division who brought forward the lawsuits that led to today's release. >> if m.b.s. does not face any sanctions at the current time, nor will he apparently face any in the future, the message the united states is giving to m.b.s. is he goes unpunished, even though he's the ring leader for the murder of jamal khashoggi. >> schifrin: even though administration officials say it is holding m.b.s. accountable by recalculating the relationship, not only the release today, but freezing arms sales to saudi arabia, ending targeting assistance to the saudi military, and downgrading m.b.s. so he only speaks to secretary of defense lloyd austin. now, today's secretary blinken
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said the administration was trying to recalibrate but not rupture the relationship. >> we have significant ogoing interests. we remain committed to defense of the kingdom. but we also want to make sure-- and this is what the president has said from the outset, that the relationship better reflects our interests and our values, and i think that we have to understand as well that this is bigger than any one person. >> schifrin: now, if human rights advocates say the administration did not go far, others argue saudi arabia must remain a key u.s. partner. take a listen to simon henderson with the washington institute. >> the biden administration has just recalbrighted in a very obvious manner its relationship with saudi arabia in general and m.b.s. in particular. but next week, it still has to deal with saudi arabia. saudi arabia will almost certainly put up m.b.s. as the
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interloquitur in dealing with washington. >> schifrin: today, the saudi government has responded. "rejecting the negative, false, and unacceptable assessment in the report pertaining to the kingdom's leadership. the concerned inviduals were convicted and sentenced by the courts in the kingdom, and we look forward to maintaining the enduring foundations that have shaped the framework of the resilient strategic partnership between the kingdom and the united states," whic means, judy, the relationship between the united states and m.b.s. himself is going to continue. >> woodruff: very interesting. let's turn quickly to the other story today, nick, and that is the u.s. targeting airstrike on syria. who exactly were they targeting, and why? >> schifrin: yeah, the pentagon says the target was a group of militias responsible for recent attacks in iraq that jured five americans and killed a foreign contractor. the pentagon says two f-15s dropped seven bombs on a militia
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checkpoint that the militia had been using in order to get arms into rawk. senior administration officials emphasized it was a proportional strike, meaning they tried to hit the same number of casualties as were hit in ira but there is a local report, judy, that more than a dozen people were killed. but the administration says it's confident they got the militias responsible for the attack, and they do hold iran responsible for controlling those militias. >> woodruff: and, nick, give us a little more context. what is the strategy, the u.s. strategy when it comes to iran? >> schifrin: yeah, president biden said this afternoon that the message was to deter iran. and we heard the same thing from pentagon spokesman john kirby, who spoke to us in the pentagon briefing room a few hours ago. >> the strike sends a message to anyone in the region that we will defend ourselves. >> schifrin: but senior officials tell me, judy, that the strike was calibrated to actually avoid military
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escalation with iran, which is why they tried to have the same number of casualties and tried to have this goal, that this round be done so that diplomats can create momentum and the biden administration can try and re-enter the iran nuclear deal. >> woodruff: all right, nick schifrin, following two major stories today. thank you, nick. >> schifrin: thank you. >> woodruff: this week marks a turning point at one of the nation's premier newspapers. "washington post" executive editor marty baron is stepping down on sunday, after eight years at "post," and more than four decades in the news business, including as executive editor at the "boston globe." his departure comes on a week when his paper won four george polk awards for its coverage, and, as we've just heard, the u.s. government issued a report on the killing of jamal
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khashoggi, a long-time contributing columnist at the "post." and melody barnes joins us now. welcome. you said-- you said you're ready to move on. it has been an incredibly active news period these last few years, especially, but as you look back over your career, are the american people better informed by the press today than they were when you started out as a reporter in, what, 1976? >> you know, it's hard to say. certainly, i think we've done our job in providing information to the public. whether the public is better informed or not is another question because so many people now are going to sources of information, or so-called information, that afirms their preexisting point of view. they're looking to be affirmed, and not necessarily to be informed. being informed means that you learn things that you didn't know otherwise, or things that may contradict your preexisting expectations or perceptions. and that's a challenge for us.
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so i'm not sure i can say the american public is better informed. i'm not sure it is. but i think we are doing our job in terms of informing the public. >> woodruff: let me ask you about that, because as you know, the polls are showing a surprisingly large percentage of americans say they don't trust the news media. i think something like a third say they don't have any trust at all, maybe a quarter say they have some trust. is this a long-standing condition that we are in? is there something that can be done about it? what are the ram fikdzs? >> well, i think it's going to be with us for quite a while because we're a highly polarized society, so that is going to have an impact on people's perceptions of the press. many people are looking for media outlets that just tell them what they think is absolutely true. so if they think the election was stolen, they're looking for a media outlet that will tell them the election was stolen, even if the election was not
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stolen. so this is-- this is a problem. this is a problem that we confront. i don't think that it's unique to the press, by the way. there's been a decline in trust in all institutions, and just about every institution, really, except for the military. so a decline in trust in congress, a decline in trust in the judiciary, a decline in trust in the financial sector, decline in trust in the health sector, decline in trust in scientists and all of that. so we're part of that. and i think we need to go about the business of trying to reestablish some level of trust in our primary institutions, particularly the ones that are arbiters of information and fact. >> woodruff: i think as all of us know, president trump played some role in that. he spent a lot of time criticizing the press, calling it "fake news," saying reporters are "enemies of the american people." and yet, ironically, marty baron, at the end of-- by the end of his term in office, news
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audiences grew enormously, both for newspapers, all news organizations. did-- did donald trump ironically end up helping strengthen the press after all was said and done? >> well, i would say that he helped us and he hurt us. he helped us in the sense that people's interest in politics was heightened. people started to subscribe to news organizations like ours because they were concerned, because they wanted to make sure that government was held accountable, that somebody held government accountable, and they sa us as fulfilling that role. but he hurt us in that he went about the business of trying to subvert and essentially demolish the role of an independent press and american democracy. and that has led to the decline and trust-- or has contributed, i should say, to the decline and trust that we were talking about earlier. so that, over the long run,
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that's not very helpful. >> woodruff: well, of "the washington post" certainly has grown under new ownership, jeff basisose. it's grown over the last several years under your leadership. "the new york times" has seen growth. but local newspapers have really taken a hit what, over the last 15 years. i was reading 1800 newspapers, local weeklies and dailies, have shut down. what does that mean for the country? >> it's really concernin it's the biggest challenge in journalism today and i think it's a challenge for democracy overall. we need local news organizations to cover our communities, to keep a watch on what state officials are doing, what local officials are doing, whether they're running the city council or the county commission or the school board or the police department or local environmental eagzs-- you name it. the courts. all of that, who is going to cover all of that if the press isn't there to do so? who is going to provide the public the kind of information
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they need and deserve to know in order to to be■ç engaged citize? only the press can do that. and so to the extent that these institutions are deprived of the resources they need to provide coverage, then, that represents not just a threat to our profession and our business, but a threat to democracy itself. and democracy at the local level and at the state level. >> woodruff: well, certainly, another feature of what we've seen over the last year or so, marty baron, in all the press is-- is a move, a cry for more diversity, more inclusion. it's something that we in the suppress talked about for a long time, but with this deep racial reckoning going on in the country, there's a call from insideewsrooms to be more-- not only more diverse but to give journalists of color a greater voice, more responsibility. what do news organizations owe journalists of color,
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journalists who have not had a voice in decision making before? >> we need to cover the country in its entirety. we need to cover people in every corner of our country, people from--■ç with all different backgrounds. and it's important that we have-- in order to do that, it's important that we have diverse newsrooms. we at the "post" have had among the most diverse newsrooms of major news organizations in the country. but there's still a lot of work for us to do, and that's been made clear by people who work on our staff and people outside of our organization as well. and i think that that is justifiable criticism. and it's something that we are working on to improve. we need more journalists of color and in more senior positions in our newsroom and throughout our organization. so it's not enough to have substantial diversity on the staff overall. it's important that journalists of color be in the most-senior positions in our newsroom. and so earlier this year, or last year, i should say, we named a managing editor for
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diversity and inclusion. that is one of the most senior editors we have. and we also dedicated a dozen positions to cover issues of race, ethnicity, and identity in america, covering everything from health disparities to environmental disparities to disparities in th administration of justice. and that is-- that was a concrete step forward, a significant step forward. but we recognize that that is not the end of the line. that's merely a step forward. and i would expect that at the "post" we will continue to make progress in that regard. >> woodruff: hand in hand with is, we are seeing a number of younger journalists will of color saying that they increasingly believe their work as a journalist needs to be infused with-- with the fight for justice, which raises the question: how much can journalists advocate for a cause, no matter how good the cause is, and still do credible
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reporting? >> well, i think we need to be independent. that's our role here at the "post," is to be independent journalists. we should cover race. we should cover injustice. we should do that through our reporting. and that's how we should approach it is make sure we're covering the subjects that are of critical importance to this country, make sure that we're doing it well, make sure that we're covering the important human rights issues in our nation and around the world, for that matter. and we do that through reporting, at least on the news side. obviously, we have an opinion side, and they express their opinions. but that's entirely separate from our news department, which i run. and so, i think that we need to dedicate reporting resources to these kinds of subjects and cover them mre. and that's why we've now, as i said, we deadicate a dozen positions in our newsroom, specifically for covering these kinds of issues, and the coverage is not limited to those dozen people, by the way. there are many others who are involved in this coverage and should be. >> woodruff: as you know, the
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administration, the biden administration released a report from the intelligence community concluding that the crown prince of saudi arabia, mohammad bin salman, was involved, did authorizize the killing of jamal khashoggi. what was your reaction to that? >> i expected the report would say that. we reported that that was the conclusion of the intelligence community. we reported that many months ago. and now with the release of this report, we see that that reporting was validated. that said, seeing it in a report, seeing it in an official government document merely reinforces the abhorrent nature of what occurred. i an, who would expect that a government would simply invite a journalist into a diplomatic post, assassinate him, dismember him, dispose of his body, somewhere-- and we still to this day do not know where his body
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is. it is shocking. it's abhorrent. and the release of this report meanwhile reinforced just how horrible that action was. >> woodruff: marty baron, who is stepping down this sunday as executive editor of "the washington post" after a distinguished career, 40-plus years as a journalist. marty baron, thank you very much. >> thank you, judy. appreciate it. >> woodruff: it is a key responsibility of a president-- marshaling the power of their office and the resources of the federal government to help americans in the wake of a natural disaster. that brought president biden today to texas, which was caught up in that rare winter blast earlier this month. amna nawaz has our report. >> nawaz: a mild late-winter day greeted president biden in houston-- a world away from the shocking deep freeze that
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devastated texas communities days ago, and brought biden here toda- his first weather disaster since taking office. the freezing temperatures overwhelmed the system. millions lost power, heat, and water across texas and the sout and northwest of the country. the sudden and severe freeze led to at least 40 deaths in the lone star state. "boil water" orders are still in place for more than a million people. >> i think expectations on president biden are high. >> nawaz: eric stern, professor at the university at albany, studies emergency preparedness and how leaders respond to crises. >> he has presented himself as a person who has known suffering, and who can comfort people who are going through hard times. >> nawaz: as of tuesday, fema says it's supplied more than a million meals, a million gallons of water, and more than 100,000 blankets, plus support for critical infrastructure. president biden approved
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disaster funding for more than 120 texas counties. but earlier this week, republicans and democrats from texas' congressional delegation sent this request to the president to open up funding to all 254 texas counties. after waiting for a visit time the president thought less disruptive, biden's first stop today was the emergency operations center. >> you're saving people's lives. as my mother would say, you're doing god's work here. get to work, guys, we've got a lot of food to separate! >> nawaz: later, he spent time with volunteers at the houston food bank, the largest such facility in the country, serving over a million people. >> it's an incredible place, and they have so many talented people here. >> nawaz: for presidents, responding to these kinds of crises is seen as a test of leadership. >> there are a lot of ways that it can go wrong, and a lot of ways where presidents in the past have been criticized for the way that they have related to disasters, and this is all very delicate because you're
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dealing with people who have suffered tremendous dislocation, suffering, sometimes tragedy. >> nawaz: george w. bush was forced to admit he should have "intervened faster" back in 2005 after hurricane katrina. in 2012, barack obama was hailed for leading a swift, bipartisan response to hurricane sandy. and, donald trump-- who grappled not only with major wildfires in california, but also the monstrous hurricanes harvey and maria-- was criticized for responding slowly and appearing indifferent to the damage caused. state and local officials in texas have faced similar scrutiny for their response to the weather crisis. republican senator ted cruz drew outrage when he left for cancun with his family during the mass power and heat outages. and republican governor greg abbott was panned for using a fox news interview about the crisis to criticize democrat's energy policies. >> if the biden administration is going to try to eradicate
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fossil fuels in the united states, every state is going to constantly have challenges like what america is seeing take place in texas right now. >> nawaz: today, abbott accompanied president biden on his tour of houston. and the president spent much of his visit listening... >> this is a tough balancing act for leaders to manage, and it's quite easy for them to go too far in one direction or another for it to go very wrong. >> nawaz: ...leaving discussions over how to prevent or mitigate future disasters for another day. for the pbs newshour, i'm amna nawaz. mr. biden spoke moments ago about the continuing need to support recovery. >> when a tragedy strikes a state, it is our job to help everyone in need look out for one another, leave nobody behind. that's what we've seen today in
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our visit. >> woodruff: and now to the analysis of brooks and capehart. that's "new york times" columnist david brooks, and jonathan capehart, columnist for the "washington post." hello to both of you. so good to see you on this friday night. while president biden is in texas, david, he's got some problems back here at home emerging-- his covid relief plan is moving through the house of representatives, but in the senate, no republicans seem to be on board. and then you have the-- the minimum wage part of it knocked out. where does that leave the whole thing? why have they had such a hard time getting republicans on board? >> well, 1.9 trillion is a lot of money. 10 republican senators came in with a 600-some-odd billion
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bill, and that was too wide a gap-- >> i'm going to interrupt you. david, i'm going to interrupt you, because we're having a little difficulty with your camera. you're not in focus. >> i see that. >> woodruff: we're going to give folks a chance to figure that out. apology, we're going to go to jonathan first. jonathan, you get to go first on this. with the president's covid relief plan, where are we now? >> well, right now, the big thing is that the minimum wage piece of it, the $15 million wage increase, was stripped out of the bill by the senate parliamentarian. it is something, actually, that president biden signaled was coming when he did that interview with norah o'donnell on pbs a few weeks back, where he mused that this probably isn't going to make it into the bill. and of course he would think that and know that, given that he served more than three decades in the united states senate. he is a creature of the senate. he knows what the rules are.
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and , with the minimum wage piece out of the $1.9 trillion covid relief package, i think it makes it easier to get it passed out of the senate. remember, both senators joe manchin and kristin cinema were against, said they were against raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour. so now i think it now puts the focus on all the other pieces within the covid relief package that makes it easier, i think, for the democrats to pass the bill with democratic votes only. that's assuming no otr republicans sign on to the bill. >> woodruff: all right, david, i think we've got this straightened out. sort of, almost. yeah, we can see you pretty clearly now, which is the way we like to see you. why do you think there have been problems getting republicans on board with this covid plan? >> well, i thought all of my thoughts were blurry. i think they-- can i just
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mention to jonathan, i'll start with the minimum wage piece. i think it has absolutely become a fascinating moment to see if whether we can have compromise. so the democrats want 15. they're not going to get it. as jonathan said, there are maybe 48 votes. they need 60. so mitt romney and tom cotton are for 10. joe manchin is for 11. can they cut a deal and get it to 12 or 13 and would that be good enough? i think that would be good enough. i think 15 is fine in places like new york and california where the wage structure is high, but it's too high in other places and the budget office estimates it will eliminate 1.4 million jobs. a $12 minimum wage would make more sense in more places. we'll see if democrats are in a mood to come down and if republicans are in a mood to go up. to me it's a crucial test of whether there can even be bipartisanship, because this is a simple issue where you can split the difference. >> woodruff: jonathan, do you
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think they can? do you think they can come together on that? >> i would hope they can come together on this. look, i think it is a good thing for the best that the minimum wage was stripped out of the covid relief bill simply because the nation needs to have the conversation about the minimum wage, how much it should be, over how much time it should be phased in. with it stripped out, we can actually have this conversation and have the compromise, potentially have the compromise that david is talking about there. you know, and to his point about the minimum wage being-- meaning something different in other areas. you know, we have seen states raise the minimum wage by popular vote. we saw that happen in florida in 2020, where the state went for president trump, he won the state, but 60% of floridians voted to raise the minimum wage to $15 an ho. i think it is a debate worth
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having in the country. >> woodruff: we shall see. but, david, before i let you go on that, is it a problem for joe biden if this goes through, the covid relief, on a party line vote? >> it's not ideal. he ran-- yeah, he ran on bipartisanship. but, you know, this bill has 70% support, nearly 70% support. i'm really struck by how little republicans are actually fighting this. they'd rather talk about something else, neera tranden, or something than talk about this. i think that is because they lost some of the big fight or debate on fiscal-- government spending and fiscal health. there used to be a strong-- large number of people who did not like spending programs and republicans could win elections on that. after donald trump, that kind of conservative is much less significant. there are fewer of them. and so republicans have lost the overall debate on spending, and they don't seem to be able to be even trying to defeat the covid-19. they'll let it go through on
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reconciliation. >> woodruff: jonathan, david raises neera tranden, the one nominee of president biden's cabinet who does seem to be running into real problems. what do her prospects look like to you? she would be the director of office and management and budget. >> i think she absolutely should be the director of the office of management and budget. i think the fact that her nomination is still alive says a lot about her, but it says, i think, a lot more about president biden and the biden white house and the fact that when they put her up for nomination, it wasn't for show. it wasn't as, you know, something to do. it's because the president thought she was the best person for the job, and that the president is going to stick by her until which time it becomes clear-- if it becomes clear-- that she cannot get the votes in committee. but, look, the only thing republicans are talking about when it comes to neera tranden are her tweets. and after four years of
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president trump and his incendiary tweets against elected officials and private citizens on twitter, tweeting things and saying things about people that were just uncalled for and unbecoming of a president, to then focus on tweets from neera tranden, republicans who, you know, would be, you know, reporters would come up to them and say, "what's your reaction to this latest tweet from president trump?" and they fained ignorance. "i've not seen it. i'm not paying attention to it." all of a sudden they're paying attention to tweets from neera tranden. it is not fair. and i chuckle at all of the tender heart out there and the tender feelings within the republican party about a strong-- about a woman with a point of view and values and who was not afraid to defend them. >> woodruff: and i'm sure, david, you can explain that. >> oh, yeah, republicans have had the "come to jesus" moment
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where incivility is offensive to them all of a sudden. i know neera a bit and follow her twitter a little, and i thought shwas a little loose and raucous and inappropriate frankly. it's certainly not enough to not nominate her as o.m.b. director. i think there are subtle things going on here. since i have been covering politics since david stockman's days, reagan's budget director-- there has been a certain sort of person who is an o.m.b. director, super wonky, white male. and neera tranden fits none of those categories. i think she doesn't-- people look at her and don't see the normal o.m.b. director and that's part unconscious undertone of this whole thing. but repub republicans are certay hyped up about it. i think it's the only battle they think they can win. i think they probably will. once joe manchin said he was against her, i thi it's hard for any republican suddenly to
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be for her. hopefully they'll find another spot in the administration for her. she's a very talented person, and they'll probably have to find somebody else for that job. >> woodruff: and, jonathan, in the last minutes that we have, i want to ask you both about the conservative political action kconference, cpac, taking place here in washington. the lineup of speakers, the messages coming through. what do you make of it? and president trump will be there sunday-- former president trump. >> yes, former president trump will be there sunday. the speakers,rom what i've been able toee so far are, you know, huing to the conservative line-- srvative line as it has been expressed during the four years of president trump. and clearly, at least at cpac, the far right of the republican party is in the hands of donald trump. we're going to know and find out for sure when he speaks on sunday, but any thinking that because they lost the senate and because they lost the white house that the republican party
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and the right wing of the republican party is going to somehow moderate itself and try to become a■ç bigger tent, i me, just disabuse yourself of that notion. >> woodruff: and what we saw today at the conference, among others, was ted cruz, who as we mentioned earlier, senator from texas, who flew off to mexico during that terrible winter storm last week. he had some comments today. he joked about the texas trip, and then basically mocked the wearing of masks. here's a little of what ted cruz had to say. >> now they're saying everybody can get immunized. we can have herd immunity everywhere, and we're going to wear masks forthe next 300 years. and, by the way, not just one mask-- two, three, four-- you can't have too many masks. how much virtue do you want to signal? this is just dumb.
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>> woodruff: so, david, how winning an argument is that? >> you know, what really struck me about cpac is it's not about government anymore. it's not even about politics anymore. it's culture war issues. it's either the cancel culture they're■ç against, they're agait wokism. and they're against mask weing. this is not about a normal political matter wants to pass an agenda. the political agenda is off the table. as far as the mask wearing, they have made a hero of governor desantis of florida. maybe he'll be the next republican presidential nominees. when you look at the states and where they rank on effectiveness in preventing covid infections, there is almost no correlation between the politics of the state and the infection rate. florida is 28, pretty decent for a state with a lot of seniors, but it's next to california, so progressive and conservative states seem to be doing-- it's just kind of ranm. so to turn this into an
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ideological issue and to be antiscience about it, strikes me as kind of bizarre. >> woodruff: and just in a few seconds, jonathan, we will see how far that takes senator cruz. >> yeah, i found it interesting that he's railing against masks when weep spent all, you know, week watching him wheel his roller bag through an airport, wearing a mask, with the flag of texas on it. i agree with david-- cpac is no longer about policies and issues. it's cultural wars, and the clip you just showed of senator cruz, it's as if they're all doing stand-up. there's no real vision for the country in anything that he said in that ip you showed us. >> woodruff: on that note, we will leave both of you. thank you jonathan capehart, david brooks. thank you. >> thanks, judy. >> thank you.
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>> woodruff: this week the country hit a grim milestone: more than 500,000 deaths in the united states from covid-19. we take a moment now to remember five remarkable individuals who lost their lives to this pandemic. a man of science and faith, the reverend dr. ernest spencer ward was born in liberia and came to the u.s. for college to study physics. for nearly 30 years he worked at i.b.m. while raising a family with his wife, laura. at age 54, he felt the calling and returned to school for his doctorate in divinity, eventually opening his own church in rhode island. he loved a good debate, his children told us, and believed in living a purposeful life, and in helping others find their purpose, too. the reverend dr. ernest spencer ward was 82 years old.
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born in syracuse, new york, jyl way loved to draw and paint, and wanted to be an art teacher. her husband said she was a hard worker-- she ran her own nail salon, and later became a librarian's aide. she loved being around children, whom she called “her littles.” her husband told us she also loved being a wife and a mom, despite often reminding her husband and their own three children that that had not been part of her plan. jyl way was 49 years old. friends and colleagues called courtney isaiah smith a musical genius. the salt lake city native started playing piano at just age three, and friends said he could play a song after hearing it only once. his girlfriend and musical partner said he radiated his faith, and that he also loved "star trek" and had a nerdy personality.
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the death of george floyd hit him hard, and during lockdown, he recorded a song called, "i can't breathe." salt lake city musicians say his death leaves a huge hole in their community. courtney isaiah smith was 37 years old. born in segregated south carolina, gracie floyd, even as a young girl, fought for equality by helping to integrate a local park. an educator and an addiction counselor, after her husband died in 1999, she took over his seat on the anderson county council, the first african american woman elected to that position. for more than 20 years, she represented one of the area's poorest districts in that part of south carolina. her son told us, "if she was on your team, it wasn't just the cavalry-- it was the whole army." gracie floyd was 75 years old.
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william "bill" broadie was a cowboy, a proud veteran and a family man from ashland, kansas. his daughter told us he joined the marine corps at just 18. he was deployed to vietnam, wounded twice, lost a leg and received two purple hearts. but his daughter said he never let his disability get in the way. he became a rancher, and later started “all american beef battalion” to provide free steak dinners to active duty troops and their families. for him, she said, honor was the key-- if he said something, he meant it, and he expected that of others. today, february 26, would have been bill broadie's 72nd birthday. and we thank all the family members who shared these stories with us. our hearts go out to you, as they do to everyone who's lost a loved one in this pandemic.
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>> woodruff: the february pick for our "now read this" book club was “interior chinatown.” winner of the 2020 national book award, it's a funny and biting satire of stereotypes of asian americans in popular culture, the story of an actor aspiring to be the hero, “kung fu guy,” but stuck forever playing minor roles. jeffrey brown spoke with him for our ongoing arts and culture series, "canvas." >> brown: so you wanted to tell the story of a guy we've all seen in the background of tv cop shows, right? you gave him a title, "generic asian guy." >> yeah, so willis wu, when we and specifically it's a tv show that's like "law and order" or any one of these other police
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procedurals. and so within that world, willis is a background asian. you know, he doesn't get to talk, is usually seen either delivering food or possibly doing martial arts. and i wanted to tell the story from the perspective of someone who normally we don't get to learn anything about. >> brown: it's very playful. it's entertaining. but you're also raising important questions here about how the stereotypes of asian- americans in popular culture. i think that growing up in the '80s and '90s, i never saw asians on tv, you know, and if i did, they were usually doing martial arts or working at a restaurant. and i wanted to think about, you know, what is that kind of invisibility do to your consciousness? you know, if you grow up never seeing a version of yourself. and what does it do to the consciousness of other people who are in the audience to never see a certain kind of person on television? how does that distort reality? >> brown: and how does it distort reality? what did you experience? what did you see others
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experience? >> it creates this alternate version of reality. when we see them they're often cast as foreigners. i think as much as you cowl say pop culture, how much does that really influence? i think it has a huge influence on a subconscious level of how we perceive certain groups it's both increased in the quantity and variety of points of view. and some of that is driven just by the sheer kind of demand for content. you know, there are i don't know, 600 scripted shows on tv, something like that. and i think that's really exciting.
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600 scripted shows on tv, something like that. and i think that's really exciting that through this sort of explosion in streaming and other shows, we have the opportunity to dip into all of these different worlds and consciousnesses. >> brown: you wrote this before the pandemic, but i read it during the pandemic, and i couldn't help but think about the even recent cases of asian americans being attacked in some instances because the virus began in china. >> it's-- i was going to say disheartening, but it's more than disheartening. it's horrifying what's happening. and yet at the same time, i think it's not shocking. it's, for me, just a reflection of the fact that to some extent, asian-americans still aren't seen as fully american. you know, for some segment of the population. and that's both troubling, but also, i hope, opportunity for this conversation to keep happening. >> brown: finally, i don't want to make this novel sound like it's a socio-political tract, because it's extremely funny and entertaining. i know you write for television as well as for novels. did that come in handy?
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>> it's like having a sort of other toolbox that i can try to use, sometimes i, you know, sort of get carried away and i'm just having too much fun. but, you know, if i'm having fun with the writing, then hopefully that's fun for the reader. and yes, there's, i hope, weighty stuff in the book. but i also hope that it's also a story that people can identify which is about a background guy who wants to be the star of the show, who wants to have his own story. and that, to me, is a kind of universal story in the end. >> brown: all right. the novel is "interior chinatown." charles yu, thank you very much. >> thank you so much, jeff. >> woodruff: and, our march book club selection is jessica bruder's “nomadland," which chronicles the lives of older americans who have taken to the road. we hope you'll read along. >> woodruff: on the newshour online right now, a resolution
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introduced in the house today would designate march 1 as a national day of remembrance for the covid-19 pandemic. we take a closer look at that effort on our website, and that is the newshour for tonight. i'm judy woodruff. join us online, and again here on monday evening. for all of us at the pbs newshour, have a great weekend, thank you, stay safe, and good night. >> major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by: >> fidelity wealth management. >> johnson & johnson. >> bnsf railway. >> the william and flora hewlett foundation.
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for more than 50 years, advancing ideas and supporting institutions to promote a better world. at >> supporting social entrepreneurs and their solutions to the world's most pressing problems-- >> and with the ongoing support of these institutions and friends of the newshour. >> 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 captioned by media access group at wgbh
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hello, everyone, and welcome to "amanpour & company." here is what's coming up. >> there is a reasonable path to citizenship. >> let's all try again. president biden is the latest to promise comprehensive immigration reform as more than a hundred migrant children are reunited with their parents. we speak to the congresswoman pushing a bold new bill and a front line immigration lawyer. then -- >> since when did we start locking people up without a trial in this country? >> we continue our look at a guantanamo bay detainee held for 14 years without charge. we'll talk to his real life lawyer nancy hollander and the oscar winning actress who portrays her jodie foster. plus -- >> we've inaugurated an alternate form of citizenship for people with criminal records.


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