tv PBS News Hour PBS February 26, 2021 6:00pm-7:00pm PST
judy: good evening i'm judy woodruff. on "the newshour" tonight, covid relief. congress moves closer to passing a sweeping tim luss 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 plus, postscript. we speak to the outgoing editor of "the washington post" about the murder. >> so many people now going to source of information or so-called information that confirms their preexisting point of video. they're looking to be affirmed and not necessarily to be
informed. judy: and it's friday. david brooks and jonathan capar way in on president biden's agenda and in peril cabinet nomination and this week conservative conference. all that and more on tonight's pbs newshour. announcer: major funding for "the pbs newshour" has been provided by -- ♪ ♪ announcer: moving our economy for 160 years, bnsf, the engine
that connects us. ♪ announcer: consumer cellular. johnson & johnson. >> the john s. and james knight foundation fostering engage and informed commune tes. more on kf.org. announcer: and with the ongoing support of these institutions. and friend 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. judy: 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. so hello to you, dan. first of all, where do things stand with regard to this covid economic relief? daniel: the house is one step closer towards passing this bill. we're waiting now for a vote that is going to happen atome point later tonight. house speaker, nancy pelosi is a master of keeping her conference together. it's expected that this bill will likely pass. there are some contentious issues like minimum wage as you mentioned. but there are a lot of things that democrats do want. let's take a look at some of the big ticket items. $1400 in direct payments. individuals making less than $75,000. and couples making less than
$150,000 would get the full amount. 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 it's 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 14th that's when the current unemployment benefits included in the last covid bill are set to expire, and he's confident i'm being told that, that he can make that deadline. judy: so dan, an officer of the senate, the parliamentarian has ruled that the messenger cannot be included in this covid relief bill. so where does minimum wage go from here?
daniel: that was a blow to democrats and 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. the statement saying because of archaic and nondemocratic rules of the senate we're unable to end starvation wages and raise the income of 32 million americans. the fight continues. the question is how does that fight continue? one way is to do a work-around indelude -- including a provision that would penalize companies that don't pay workers that money. they want that through budget reconciliation. it remains to be seen whether o not they can do that. that is the plan though. it does point out to this
division the party between moderate democrats in the house who are little uneasy about this minimum wage increase. i think it might hurt small business owners in their districts 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. judy: watching it very closely. daniel bush, thank you very much. ♪ stephanie: i'm stephanie sy with newshour west. we'll return to the rest of the show after these headlines. an expert panel recommended a third vaccine approval. it was developed by johnson & johnson which is a newshour funder. the vaccine requires one shot
and can be stored more easily. the c.d.c. warned today that covid cases have begun rising again this week. >> over the last few weeks, cases in hospital admissions in the united states have been coming down since early january and deaths have been declining in the past week. but it's important to remember where we are in the pandemic. things are ten youuous. now, is not the time to relax restrictions. sthanie: 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 generated storms and visiting a covid mass vaccination sight. the storm caused severe power outages and many people suffering. >> like the crisis hits our state it's not a democrat or republican who is hurting, it's our fellow americans who are hurting.
it's our job to leave nobody behind. look out for one another. that's what we've seen in our visit. stephanie: more than one million texans are still under boil water restrictions. the biden administration released findings today that saudi crown prince muhammad bin salman likely approved the murder of reporter jamal khashoggi more than two years ago. the saudis rejected the findings. tonight in a television interview, biden said he made clear with the king that the rules are changing and that the u.s. would hold saudi arabia accountable for any human rights abuses. separately, the white house defended yesterday's 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 a gunman raided a boarding school today. it hammed in the northern state of zemfara and was the third
mass abduction since december. there was no meet claim of responsibility. nasa formerly renamed its washington headquarters from marianne w. jackson. she was the first black female engineer as told in the book "hidden figures." relatives and others paid tribute to her determination to become a mathematician and arrow space engineer despite racial segregation and discrimination. >> the official naming of the mary w. jackson nasa headquarters today, we insure that she is a hidden figure no longer. she personified nasa's spirit of persevering and advancing science and exploration. stephanie: mary jackson passed away in 2005. the biden administration faces major foreign policy tests in the middle east.
the outgoing editor of the "washington post" discusss the state of american journalism. we discuss the politics of federal responses to natural disasters and much more. announcer: this is the pbs newshour from weta studios in washington and in the west from the walter cronkite school of journalism from arizona state university. judy: the last 24 hours have seen two major foreign policy developments. overnight the biden administration launched its first known air strike agast iranian-backed militias in syria. and today the u.s. sell generals community release adamming report tying saudi arabia's crown prince to the murder of a journalist. to discuss both now we turn to nick schiff ren. nick, first of all on this
community intelligence report, tell us what is in here? what is it saying about what the crown prince of saudi arabia's connect was to the murder of jamal khaoggi? >> this is the first time we've seen the assessment on who murdered jamal khashoggi. and from the very first sentence, it is damning. the report begins, we assess saudi arabia's crown prince approved an operation in istanbul, turke to capture or kill saudi journalist jamal khashoggi. it makes that assessment of his control of the decision-making and the direct involvement of one of his key advisors and his protective detail. it does not include any firsthand intelligence that m.b.s. was responsible. you will recall that khashoggi was a palace insider who became a prominent critic of m.b.s. on october 2018, khashoggi
walked into the consulate in istanbul and was brutally murdered inside. one of his murders put on his clothes and left the embassy in an apparent way to cover it up. administration officials and human rights advocates admits it is remarkable to see it out in public. judy: and nick, the biden administration moved quickly to announce how it's going to punish saudi arabia. tell us about that. nick: they're calling it the khashoggian. it restricts anyone on vissas who harms, threatens journalists, activists and dissidents and it used that sanction 77 saudis. they sanctioned what it called the ring leader of the mder of and m.b.s.'s personal protective detail that was involved.
who was not on the list was m.b.s. himself. senior officials confirm to me that president biden decided not to sanction muhammad ben-salam. today's actions is simply not enough, take a listen to un ring -singh who brought forward the wsuit that led to today's release. >> m.b.s. does not face any sanctions of the current time and nor will he apparently face any in the future. the message that the united states is giving to m.b.s. is that he goes unpunished even though he's the ring leader for the murder of jamal khashoggi. nick: even though administration officials say it is holding m.b.s. accountbility by recalibrating the relationship not only the release today but freezing arm sales to saudi arabia, ending targeting assistance to the saudi military and downgrading m.b.s. so he only speaks to secretary of
defense loyd austin. secretary blinken said that the administration was trying to calibrate but not rupture the relationship. >> we have significant ongoing interests. we remain committed to the 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 interest and our values. and i think that we have to understand as well that this is -- this is bigger than anyone person. >> now, if human rightsed a slow vow cats say the administration didn't go far enough, others argue that saudi arabia must remain a key u.s. partner. take a listen to simon henderson with the washington institute. >> the biden administration has just recalibrated 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 wh saudi arabia.
saudi arabia will almost certainly put up m.b.s. as the interlocutor in dealing with washington. >> the saudi government has responded "rejecting the negative false and unacceptable assessment in the report pertaining to the leadership, they were sentenced by the courts in the kingdom and we look forward to maintain the foundations of the resill yebt partnership between the kingdom and the united states." which means that the relationship between m.b.s. and the united states is going to continue. judy: very interesting. let's go to the other story today, nick. and that is the u.s. targeting air strike on syria. who exactly were they targeting and why? nick: the target was a group of militias responsible for recent attacks in iraq that injured five americans and killed a foreign contractor. the pentagon says two f-15's
dropped seven bombs on a militia checkpoint that the militia had been using to get arms into iraq. senior administration officials say it was a proportionate strike meaning they tried to hit same number of casualties as were hit in iraq. but there is a local report that more than a dozen people were killed. the administration says it's confident they got the militias responsible for the attack. and they hold iran responsible for controlling those militias. judy: give us more context. what is the u.s. strategy when it comes to iran? nick: 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 a few hours ago in the pentagon briefing. >> the strikes sends a message to anyone in the region that we will defend ourselves. >> but senior officials tell me,
judy that the strike was calibrated to avoid military 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 the diplomats can create momentum and the biden administration can retry the iran nuclear deal. judy: all right. nick schiff ren following two major stories today. thank you. nick: thank you. ♪ judy: this week marks a turning point at one of the nation's premier newspapers, "washington post" executive editor marty barron is stepping down on sunday after eight years at the 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.
as we just heard the u.s. government issued a report on the killing of jamal khashoggi, a long-time contributing columnist at the post. and marty joins us now. welcome. you said you're ready to move on. it has been 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, 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 being informed. being informed means that you learned things that you didn't know otherwise or that things that macon tradict to your
preexisting expectations or perceptions and that's a challenge for us. i'm not sure that the american public is better informed. i'm not sure it is. but i think we're doing our job in terms of informing the public. judy: let me ask you about that because as you know the polls are showing a surprisingly large percentage of americans saying they don't trust the news media. 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 are in? is there somethng that could be done about it? what are the ramifications? >> i think it's going to be with us for quite a whining while because we're a highly polarized society. and that is going to have an impact on people's perceptions of the press. many people are looking for media outlets to tell them what they think is absolutely true. so if they think the election was stolen, they're look if a
media outlet to tell them the election was stolen even though it was not stolen. this is a problem. this is a problem that we confront. it's not unique to the press by the way. there's been a decline in trust in all institutions. and -- in just about every institution really except for the mill tamplete a decline in trust in congress. a decline in trust in judiciary in the financial sector in the health sector, and in signities and all of that -- scientists and all of that and soe're part of that. i think we need to go about the business of trying to re-establish some level of trust in our primary institutions particularly the ones that are arbitors of information and of fact. judy: 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 barron
by the end of his term in office news audiences grew enormously both for newspapers, all news organizations. did -- did -- did donald trump ironically end up helping strengthen the press after all was said and done? marty: i would say 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 saw us as someone who fulfilled that role. but he hurt us in trying to demolish the role in the american press in american democracy. that's led to the decline and trust -- or it's contributed to the decline and trust that we
were talking about earlier. and so over the long run that's not very helpful. judy: well, "the washington post" certainly has grown uer new ownership. jeff bezos has grown over the last several years under your leadership. the "new york times" has seen growth. but local newspapers have taken -- 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 concerning. it's the biggest challenge in journalism today and 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 agencies, 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 blic the kind of information they need and deserve to know in order to be engaged citizens? 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 it and democracy at the local level and at the state level. >> well, certainly another feature of what we've seen over the last year or so. marty barron in all the press is a move, a cry for more diversity, more inclusion. it's something that we in the press have talked about for a long time. but with this deep racial reckoning going on in the country, there's a -- there's a call from inside newsrooms to be -- not only more diverse but to give journalists of color a greater voice, more responsibility. what do news organizations owe
journalists of color, journalists who have not had a voice in decision-making before? >> we need to cover the country in its entirety. we don't need to cover people in every corner of our country. people 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 of major 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 in our staff and outside of the organization as well. i think that is justifying criticism. it's something that we are working on to improve. we need more journalists of color and 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 -- in our news room. and so earlier this year or last
year, i should say, we named a managing editor for 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 alth disparities to environmental disparities to disparities in the administration of justice. that was a concrete step forward, but we recognize that that is not the end of the line. that's merely a step forward. and i would demand at the post, we will connue to make progress in that regard. judy: we're hand in hand of this. we are seeing a number of journalists of color saying they increasingly believe their work as a journalists 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 crebled reporting? >> i think we need to be independent. that's our role here is to be independent journalists. we should cover race. we should cover injustice through our reporting. and that's how we should approach it. make sure we're covering the subjects that are of critical importance to this country. make sure we're doing it well. make sure we're covering the important human rights issue in our nation and around the world for that matter. and we do that through reporting, at least on the news sight. 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 more. as i've said we've dedicated a dozen positions in our newsrooms for covering this issue and the coverage is not limited to those kind of people.
there are many other who are involved in this coverage and should be. judy: as you know the biden administration released a report from the intelligence community concluding that the crown prince of saudi arabia, muhammad ben salman was involved, did authorize the killing of jamal khashoggi. what was your reaction to that? >> i expected for it to say that. 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. 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 is. it's shocking and it's abhorrent. the release othis report merely tells us how shocking it was. judy: marty barron, 40-plus years as a journalist. thank you very much. marty: thank you, judy. i appreciate it. ♪ judy: it is a key responsibility of a president marshalling 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. reporter: a mild late winter day
greeted president joe biden his first weather disaster since taking office. the freezing temperatures overwhelmed the system. millions lost power, heat and water across texas and the south and northwest of the country. the sudden an 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. >> eric stern, professor at the university of albany studies emergency preparedness and leaders during a cry says. >> he has presented himself as a person who has known suffering and can con fort people who are -- comfort people who are going through hard times. >> fema supplied million meals
and support for critical infrastructure. president biden approved disaster funding for 120 texas counties. but earlier this week, republicans and democrats 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. his first stop today was the emergency operation center. >> you're saving people's lives and as my mother would say, you're doing god's work. >> get to work, guys. got a lot of food to separate. >> later he spent a time at the largest food facility in the country serving over a million people. >> it's an incredible place. and they've got so many talented people here. >> for presidents, it's seen as a test for leadership. >> there a lot of ways that it can go wrong and a lot of presidents in the past have been criticized for -- for the way that they have related to
disasters. and this is all very delicate. because you're dealing with people who are suffered tremendous dislocation, suffering, sometimes tragedy. >> 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 response to hurricane sandy. and donald trump who grappled with wildfires and the monstrous hurricanes harvey and marie was criticized for responding slowly and appearing indifferent to the damage caused. >> hey, hey, hey, ho, ho ted cruise has got to go. -- cruz has go to go. >> he left for cancun with his family during the mass outages. and greg abbott was panned for using a fox news to criticize
democrats policies. >> if the biden administration are trying to eradicate fossil fuels every state is going to constantly have challenges what america has seen in trks. today he accompanied president biden of his tour in houston. and the president spent much of his visit listening. >> this is a tough balancing act for leaders to manage. it's quite easy for them to go too far in one direction and for another for it to go very wrong. leading discussions on ho to mitigate future disasters for another day. ♪ judy: and now the analysis of brooks and capart. that's david brooks and januaryathon capart columnists 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 problemsack here at home emerging. his covid relief plan is moving through the house of representatives. the senate seems to be onboard. and then you had 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 onboard? >> well, at one point 10 republican senators came in with a $600 billion some odd bill. so the republicans -- >> i'm going to interrupt you because we're having difficult with your camera. you're not in focus. i'm 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. but 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 minimum 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 cbs a few weeks back where he -- he, you know, moussed that, you know, this probably isn't going to make it into the by. and of cour, 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. with the minimum wage piece out of the $1.9 trillion relief package, i think it makes izz easier to get it past out of the senate. remember, joe manchin and christian cinema were against raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour. and so now i think it puts the
focus within the covid relief package that makes it easier for the democrats to pass the bill with democratsic votes only that's assuming no other republicans sign on to the bill. judy: all right, david, i think we've gotten this strghten out. sort of. 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 onboard with this covid plan? >> well, i thought all my thoughts were blurry. [laughter] you know, i think they -- actually can i just mention -- jonathan was talking about the minimum wage. it's 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 48 votes. they need 60. mitt romney and tom cotton are for 10. joe manchin is for 11.
so can they get it to 12 and 13. to me 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 a lot of other places. the congressional budget office estimates it would eliminate 1.4 million jobs. so a $12 minimum wage would make more sense in more places. we'll see if demeanor cats are willing to go down. it's a test where you can split the difference. judy: jonathan, do you think they can? do you think they can come together on that? jonathan: i would hope they can come together. i actually 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, how -- over how much time it should be -- phased in.
we can have the conversation and have the compromise -- phonetially have the compromise that david is talking about there. 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 -- in florida in 2020 where the state went for president trump. he won the state. but 60% of floridaians voted to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour. i think it is a debate worth having in the country. judy: we shall see. is it a problem for joe booden if this goes through the covid leif on a party line vote? david: it's not ideal. he ran on bipartisanship. but you know, this bill has 70% support or nearly 70% support.
i'm really struck by how little republicans are fighting this. they would rather talk about something else than talk about this. that's because they've lost some of the big fight or the debate on fiscal -- government spending and fiscal heath. there used to back large number of people who didn't like government programs. 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 even be trying to defeat the covid-19. they'll let it go through on reconciliation. judy: david raises the one nominee that 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 management and budget. >> i think she should be direct of the of management and budget. i think that the nomination is
still alive says a lot about her, but it says, i think, a lot 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 near a tanden are her tweets. after four years of 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 near a tanden,
republicans who would be, you, no reporters would come up to them and say what's your reaction from the latest tweet? and they fayned ignorance. i'm not paying attention it to. all of a sudden they're paying attention to nira tanden. it's not fair. i chuckle at all the tender hearts and all the tender feeling in the republican party about a strong -- about a woman with a point of view and values in who was not afraid to defend them. judy: i'm sure, david you can explain that. david: republicans have had a come to jesus moment where incivility is completely offensive. i agree with jonathan. i follow her twitter presence. i thought as a think tank fence she was inappropriate and raw cuss. it's not enough to nominate her as an o.m.b. director. there's a subtle thing. since i've been covering
politics since david stockman's david as reagan's budget director, there's been a sort sort of person that has been the budget o.m.b. and that person is super wonky, dry personality white male. and anywherea fits none -- nira fits none of those. people look at her they don't see the normal o.m.b. director and that's part of the unconscience undertone. but republicans are hiched up about it. i think they think it's the only battle they think they will win. so i think 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. judy: and jonathan in the last minutes that we have, i want to ask you both about the conservative political action conference, 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. >> uh-huh. yes, former president trump will be there sunday. the speakers from what i've been able to see so far are, you know, huing to the conservative line as it has been expressed during the four years of president trump. clearly, at least at cpac, the far right of the republican party is in the hands of donald trump. wee going to know and find out for sure when he speaks on sunday. but any thinking that because they lost the -- the senate and because they lost the white house that the republican party and the -- and the right-wing of the republican party is going to somehow moderate itself and try to become a bigger 10, just disabuse you're with that notion. judy: and what we saw at the conference was ted cruz who as we mentioned earlier, the senator from texas who flew off to mexico during that terrible
winter storm last week. he had some comments today. he joke about the texas trip. and then basically mocked the wearing of masks. here's a little bit 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 for the 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. judy: so david, how winning an argument is that? david: you know, what strikes me about cpac that it's not about government. it's culture war issues. it's the cancel culture they're against. they're against wokism and i guess they're against mask wearing.
this isn't about a normal political party that wants to pass an agenda. and then as far as the mask wearing they made a hero of governor de santis. maybe he'll be the next presidential nominee. but when you look at the states and where they rank on effectiveness in pro venting covid infections, there's almost no correlation between the politics of the state and the infection rate of the state. florida's like 28 which is pretty decent for a state with a lot of seniors. but it's right next to california. progressive and conservative states, it's kind of random. so to turn this into an ideological issue and to be anti-science about it strikes me as kind of bizarre. judy: 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 maxes when we spent all week wheel he is roller back through the
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 culture wars and the clip you just showed senator cruz is as if they're doing standup. there's no real vision for the country and anything that he said in that clip you showed us. judy: on that note, we will leave both of you. thank you. jonathan capart, david brooks. thank you. >> thanks, judy. ♪ judy: this week, the united states hit a grim milestone. more than 500,000 deaths in this country 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. earnest spencer ward was born in liberia and came to the u.s. for clege to study physics. for nearly 30 years he worked at i.b.m. while raidsing a family with his wife laura. at age 54, he felt the calling and returned to school for his dock rat in divinity and 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. earnest spencer ward was 82 years old. born in syracuse, new york, jill wei 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 librarianian aide. she loved being around children who she called her littles.
her husband told us she 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. jill wei was 49 years old. friends and colleagues call courtney isaiah smith a musical genius. the salt lake city native started playing piano at just age three. and friends say 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. 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 adds
a young girl fought for equality by helping to integrate a local park. an educator and an addiction counselor, after herusband 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 areas poorest districts in that part of south carolina. her son told us, if she was on your team, it wasn't just a cavalry, it was the whole army. gracie floyd was 75 years old. william bill brodey was a cowboy, a proud veteran and a family man from ashland, kansas. his daughter told us he joined the marine core 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 back tallian to provide free steak dinners to active duty troops and their families. for him, she said, honor was the key. if he said something,e meant it. and he expected that of others. today, february 26th, would have en bill brodey's 7nd birthday. -- 72nd birthday. our hearts go out to you as they do to everyone who has lost a loved one in this pandemic. ♪ judy: the february pick for our pbs newshour new york times book club is interior china town winner of the 2020 national book award. it's a funny, and biting satire
of stereotypes of asian-americans in popular culture. it is charles's story of an actor aspiring to be the hero kung fu guy but stuck forever playing a minor role. jeffrey spoke with him for our arts and culture canvas. >> so you wanted to tell a story of a guy we've seen in the background of -- of tv cop shows, right? you gave him a title, generic asian guy. >> specifically as a tv show that's like "law & order" or any one of these police procedurals. and within that world, willis is a background asian. he doesn't get to talk. he's usually seen either delivering food or possibly doing martial arts. and i wanted to tell the story from the perspective of someone who we normally we don't get to learn anything about. >> 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. >> growing up, in the 1980's and 1990's, i never saw asians and if i did they were working on martial arts or working at a restaurant. i wanted to think what does that kind of invisibility do to your consciousness 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? >> and how does it distort reality? what did you experience? what did you see others expeence? >> it creates this altar nat version of reality. it enforces this idea that these asians are not part of the main story of america. in fact, they aren't really americans because when we see them, they're often cast as foreigners. and i -- you know, i think as
much as you could say pop culture, how much does that influence? i think that influences on a sub conscience level of how we perceive certain groups. >> and how much that r has that changed or is it changing? >> it's both increase in the quantity and the variety of points of view, right? and some of that is driven just by the sheer kind of demand for content, you know, there's -- i don't know 600 scripted shows on tv, something like that. and i think that's really exciting that through, you know, through this sort of explosion in streaming and other shows we have the opportunity to dip into all of these different worlds and consciousnesses. >> i read it during the pandemic. and i couldn't help to think about the recent case of asian-americans being attacked in some instances because the virus began in china.
>> 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 see as fully american for some segment of the population. and that's both troubling but also i hope opportunity for this conversation to keep happening. >> 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 i handy? >> yeah, it's fun. it's like having another toolbox that i can use. sometimes i get carried away and i'm very too much fun. if i'm having fun with the writing, then hopefully that's fun for the reader. yes, i hope there's weighty stuff in the book. but i also -- you, no hope that
it's a story thateople can identify with, which is about a background guy who wants to be the star of the show who wants to have his own story. and that, you know, to me is a kind of universal story in tend. >> all right, the novel "is interior chinatown." thank you so much. >> thank you so much. judy: thank you, jeff and charles. you and our march book club selection is jessica's broodersment no man's land" who chronicles american who is have take on the the road. we hope you will read along. on the newshour online right now, a resolution introduced in the house of representatives today would designate march 1st as a national day of remembrance for the covid-19 pandemic. we take a closer look at that effort. it's on our website pbs.org/newshour. 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 good, safe weekend. thank you. and good night. >> major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by -- ♪ >> consumer cellular. johnson & johnson. bnsf railway. >> the william and flora hewlett foundation. for more than 50 years, advancing ideas and supporting institutions to promote a better world at hewlett.org. >> supporting social entrepreneurs and their solutions to the world's most pressing problems. skollfoundation.org. >> 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. ♪ >> this is pbs newshour west. from weta studios in washington and from our bureau at the waer cronkite school of journalism at arizona state university. ♪ [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy.visit ncicap.org]
he has been celebrated and condemned during his revolutionary first year in office. district attorney joins us for the deep dive interview. we visit the vivid murals of synthesis goes mission district for this week's version of something beautiful. across the state the pressure to reopen schools that have been shuttered for almost a year by the pandemic is reaching a boiling point. state lawmakers, the governor and teacher unions have been wrangling over how to safely get get back in classrooms.