tv PBS News Hour PBS October 3, 2012 3:00pm-4:00pm PDT
captioning sponsored by macneil/lehrer productions >> woodruff: with just over a month to go in the campaign, all eyes are on denver, where president obama and mitt romney are getting set for their first debate tonight. good evening, i'm judy woodruff. >> ifill: and i'm gwen ifill. on the "newshour" tonight, we get some pre-game analysis from mark shields and david brooks. >> woodruff: then, from loose seats to smoky cabins and labor woes, we get the latest on troubles at american airlines. >> ifill: jeffrey brown updates the story of the butler accused of stealing documents from the pope and leaking them to the press. >> woodruff: hari sreenivasan travels to the electorally important swing state of iowa where the polls opened last week. >> a recent des moines register poll found less than 2% of iowa voters were undecided, which means the campaigns could
benefit from locking in votes early. >> ifill: margaret warner examines a genetic breakthrough that could allow doctors to diagnose and treat seriously ill infants sooner. >> woodruff: and we close by returning to a conversation with tonight's debate moderator, our own jim lehrer about his book on past presidential debates. that's all ahead on tonight's newshour. major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by:
and with the ongoing support of these institutions and foundations. and... this program was made possible by the corporation for public broadcasting. and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. >> woodruff: in just a few hours, president barack obama and former massachusetts governor mitt romney will take the stage at the university of denver's magness arena for the first of three election debates. tonight's encounter, moderated by the "newshour's" own jim
lehrer, is to focus on domestic policy. the first half of the 90-minute face-off will be spent on the number one issue for most voters this year: the economy. joining us for the debate, and here with us now to preview what to expect tonight are two familiar faces syndicated columnist mark shields and "new york times" columnist david brooks. gentlemen, welcome. the night is finally here. mark, no pressure, just 60 million people will be watching. what are you looking for from tonighta encounter? >> what i'm looking for, judy, is that the-- the candidate who understands of the two that the most important thing is not making a mistake but really making a point as to what his presidency would be about. i think both of them are geared because so much has been-- attention has been directed to gaffes in the past that affected or influenced, shamed the outcome, that impression.
it's a magic moment. with no pundits, no prism of edtorm columnists, 60 million individuals sit down in a comparative situation, they make their own assessment. and i think it's a marvelous public exercise. >> woodruff: a magic moment, david? >> we'll see. it is the biggest night of the election. usually the debates have some effect. they almost never change the dynamic. i guess i am watching mitt romney. generally, president obama doesn't turn over. he's not very daring, but doesn't make mistakes. romney's much more interest, a., because he's behind. he has to give a one-sentence answer, barack obama has been to be replaced because, and fill in that because, very clear. the second thing interesting about romney he's so insistently aggressive at debates. the moment i was reminded of
they were talking about gun control in a debate against ted kennedy in massachusetts what they were competing for the senate seat. kennedy says i know about guns, referring to his family's tragedies. most candidates would withdraw and not go there. romney went there and said you always fall back on that. that's not going to work here. that's a pretty aggressive can n debater. >> woodruff: what does governor romney has to accomplish? >> he has to forget likeability. he will never compete on likeability-- >> woodruff: you said forget likeability? >> forget trying to be as likable as the president. that is not his forte. the president had great respect for john mccain. he didn't think he should be president, but he had great
respect. he doesn't feel that way toward mitt romney. he has to-- mitt romney ought to be in with a little bit of confidence, judy, because the fact that he's had a terrible two weeks by a twoo 1 margin polls people feel the information they've gotten the last two weeks make him less favorable, and yet he's closed the gap. i think he ought to go in and have the sense that this race is winnable, but he's got to come out with two things. one is that now i know that he understands what we are going through. his manifest acts of kindness to fellow parishioners who lost their jobs, which we heard about at the convention, which are really admirable, there is no sense they go beyond to a continental or national sense. and the second, now i understand what he wants to do about the economy. and they make sense. i understand it. the three things he's proposing make sense. >> woodruff: romney? >> that's what romney has to do.
>> woodruff: if that's what romney needs to do, david, what about the the president? is there as much pressure on the president tonight as governor romney? >> no, he's ahead. but it's closed from a week ago. maybe there's a four-point national gap, it's closed to maybe a 2.5-point gap and even in some of the swing states we have seen a tightening in the polls and that's because the underlying dynamic of the race is still the underlying dynamic. the country is still headed in the wrong direction. there's still a desire to change. there's still a desire to replace the president. i guess for him i'd go back to the single most impressive speech of the year, bill clt's speech, which was also the wonkiest speech of the year. i would not shy away from being wonky. not that everybody is going to follow every medicare reform plan you have, economic policy you have. they want to be treated like adults. if the president gives us a hint of an agenda that would be a breakthrough. >> could you dissent a little from david. we have the highest right
direction number since june of '09. there is a growing sense of confidence. it's an improvement. the people who think the economy is getting better has increased by 17 points since july. i mean, there's really a sense-- the president has to confirm to them that he, a., his policies have made a difference in this improvement, that they are right in sensing the improvement, and they can take it from here. when asked who is better prepared to lead the nation over the next four years, by a 13-point margin, 49-36, people say the president-- 35, say the president over mitt romney. even people who are voting for mitt romney don't think he's better prepared. that's what the president has to accomplish, i think. >> woodruff: david, finally, and quickly, you touched on this earlier. there is this conversation that debates-- i think you said they're not always dispositive. is it possible this debate might not matter? >> it's certainly possible. the candidate who has gone in with the lead in the polls predebate has won the election
almost every time. so of but that disrnt mean they don't change votes-- >> kennedy-bush. >> this is a closer race man most campaigns. so it's it's 2.8-point race you can certainly see a movement of two point making it feel like a tie, at least. >> no, i think it is important, judy. the people who are undecided and the-- see, the president has a number of discreet constituents-- latinos, working women, college-educated women-- to whom he has spoken. the thing. a national debate, you're speaking to everybody at the same time. there's no demographic cliques or subgroups. it's everybody. that's consider i think debates are so important. >> woodruff: we're popping the popcorn. we're on the edge of our seats. we'll see both of you in three hours. we will be back at 9:00 p.m. eastern for special coverage of
this debate but our effort effoe ongoing online. we will have a live scream where you can watch the debate and live analysis from our team. we're send our "newshour" hat-cam to a debate watch party here in washington. following the debate, "newshour" political editor christina belland tony will be talking to undecide voters at a google-plus hang out >> ifill: still to come on the "newshour": rough flying for american airlines; the pope's butler on trial in rome; chasing the early voters in iowa; a medical breakthrough for critically ill infants and jim lehrer on past debates. but first, with the other news of the day. here's kwame holman. >> holman: turkey and syria traded shots today, as the syrian civil war threatened to boil over. it started when mortar fire from the syrian side landed in a turkish town, killing five people. turkish officials said the shelling came from syrian government forces. hours later, turkish artillery fired back, at unnamed targets inside syria. and, turkey's nato allies
demanded an immediate halt to hostile action against the turks. meanwhile, three suicide car bombings killed at least 34 people in syria's embattled city of aleppo. the attack was on a government- controlled section. the coordinated explosions hit a central square, destroying a number of buildings and littering the streets with twisted metal and concrete. at least 122 people were wounded. and the death toll was expected to rise as crews work through the rubble. in iran, riot police and protesters came to blows over the collapse of the national currency. the rial has lost a third of its value in less than a week. today, merchants at tehran's main bazaar protested outside their stalls and closed for the day. exchange houses and currency websites also were closed down. in the end, police arrested money changers and fired tear gas to disperse crowds. the protesters charged president mahmoud ahmadinejad's policies
have fueled the currency crisis. he has blamed western sanctions imposed against iran's nuclear program. secretary of state hillary clinton pledged anew today to get to the bottom of a deadly attack in libya last month. u.s. ambassador christopher stevens and three other americans were killed after gunmen assaulted the u.s. consulate in benghazi. now, two leading house republicans have charged the obama administration rejected requests for enhanced security at the site. clinton cautioned today against a rush to judgment. >> at the beginning of any kind of inquiry or investigation there are going to be different perspectives, different points of view, people trying to present what they believe applies to a certain set of circumstances. but i've also seen how important it is to get everything lined up and analyzed.
>> holman: clinton also promised the investigative process will be transparent. more than two million factory workers walked off the job in indonesia today, in a one-day strike demanding better benefits. hundreds of thousands marched through the streets of a jakarta suburb. they called for an increase in the minimum wage plus health insurance and social security for all employees. workers also urged the government to revise a policy that lets companies hire temporary workers without benefits. there's new fuel for the long- running debate over affirmative action in college admissions. a new study by the century foundation concludes schools can have diversity without considering race. the report cited aggressive outreach, and a focus on class instead of color. but some schools, including the university of california, say those policies have not worked. the u.s. supreme court tackles the issue again next week. wall street managed only modest gains today.
the dow jones industrial average was up 12 points to close at 13,494. the nasdaq rose 15 points to close at 3135. but the price of oil fell sharply in new york, to $88 a barrel, amid new signs of slowing growth in china. those are some of the day's major stories. now, back to gwen. >> ifill: the week's not even halfway over and it's been an ugly one for american airlines, as it faces growing questions about its flights, its labor problems and its very future. these are turbulent times for the nation's third-largest passenger airline. in just the last few weeks, american airlines has delayed or canceled hundreds of flights. american accused pilots of conducting an illegal work slowdown over a bitter contract dispute. the pilots' union denied it. but on top of that, three flights were grounded after rows of seats came loose.
that's a tiny fraction of american's daily schedule, but the problem grabbed national attention. one passenger, who didn't want to be identified, described an incident on a flight from boston to miami. >> the seats flipped backwards. and so people were essentially on the laps of the passenger behind them with their legs up in the air. >> reporter: american blamed improperly installed clamps and promised new inspections. all of this comes amid the long- running contract struggle with the airline's 7,500 active pilots. there's been no strike, but the pilots have conducted informational picketing, calling for new management. >> we're here as professionals because we want the airline to succeed. the bottom line is if management isn't making the right decisions, the airline can't succeed. >> ifill: american's parent company a.m.r. corporation declared bankruptcy last november. since then, a.m.r. has sought
hundreds of millions of dollars in labor cost savings and said it intends to eventually lay off more than 10,000 employees. flight attendants, mechanics and baggage handlers have agreed to cost-cutting measures. the pilots' union has held out, rejecting amican's last offer, in august. yesterday, the two sides agreed to resume talks. for more on what's going on at american airlines, we turn to ben mutzabaugh of "usa today," author of the paper's "today in the sky" blog. ben, it feels like it's a perfect storm in a way for american airlineses with all of these things happening at one time. >> boy, it really is. this loose seat incident has become really ugly for american, and that's just the kind of scrutiny they're under right now. you've had this issue with the pilots, the maintenance issues, delayed flights, cancellations. with that in the news so heavily, when you have an incident like this that doesn't appear to be related, people can't help but ask, hey, is this related? if you're an average customer on the street and you've heard
american in the news for these reasons, it draws obvious parallels even though-- this is a case where there's smoke and there may not be fire but cumulatively it's a mess for american. >> ifill: i was on american this week. i have that question-- is it related? >> the only thing you could really think right now is could it be sabotage, and that would be the worst-case scenario, and certainly without any evidence to suggest that, i don't think anybody should think that without concrete evidence that it is. instead, this is more of a maintenance issue. and i don't even-- there's no reason at this point to think that it is related to the ongoing labor problems at american, but it sure puts those problems in the spotlight. >> ifill: let's just talk about the ongoing labor problem separately then. are we seeing an organized sick-out? we saw the informational picketing. is this an informal strike under way? >> well, how do you-- that-- right, how do you know. i believe the union is not
endorsing it, they're not promoting it but they are conditionalling that a lot of pilots are not just angry but furious at management. i think we can all see that. at what point does it tip from 30, 40, 50% of pilots to taking one-off actions, when it does it tip from that to becoming an organized action. i think if american took it to court, the court would be sympathetic, but, again, that would be a road probably neither side wants to go down. the union has come out and made a more definitive statement asking pilots to comply and things seem to be getting a little better this week, as far as cancellations go. >> ifill: what is the source of the problems between the pilots and management. management. >> even by industry standards, the situation at american is probably as toxic as anything we've seen in 20 years. this goes back to concessions from the early-- during the 2000s, and there was a brief period, brief glimmer of hope for american, but it really came to a head last year when
management took bonuses that even though the union agreed to the contract they are higher than expected because of some of the details in the contract. it just didn't sit well with pilots, with any of the unions at american. it really set the scene for what we're seeing seeing now. no one is crying uncle. >> ifill: at the same time, we see on-time performance, which really does affect people who fly every day, going down. >> right and what we're seeing here is apparently a lot of pilots calling in, with these maintenance issues, having things checked out, going by the letter of the law on these maintenance reportes, things that could be fixed later are being asked to be fixed now, at least that's what american is saying. these delays really did start to spike after american used bankrupty court to throw out the collective bargaining agreement. >> ifill: what is the status of america's bankruptcy?
>> they're reorganizing. they think the hand the pilots are playing, they don't need to get a whole lot of people on the creditor's committee, in the bankruptcy process, saying management has had its shot. the people on the creditor's committee obviously have a very vested interest in how this goes forward. if they think american's current management can't do it, and this is where us airways comes into the picture, it may not take much more of this to go on before other people on the creditor's committee start to switch and the vote comes in favor we're bringing in us airways and merge which is what the pilots and all the unions at americans want right now. >> ifill: if you're a frequent flyer on american, should you be worried at all about underlying safety issues? is there a bigger problem underneath all of this? >> there's nothingñi that i'veçó seen that leads me to believe that flying on american is unsafe. however, i do think it is possibly unreliable,
schedule-wise right now. i don't think there's anything i have seen that leads me to believe if you're flying a flight on american airlines that you are at any risk. >> ifill: but if you decide that you need to get there, as opposed to-- you're not worried about your safety as much as you're worried about your connection or it's possible to have the vacation you've been saving for, what do you do? >> that's a legitimate question. my advice is-- i booked a flight on american airlines this morning for a trip i'm taking later this month because it was the best option. i booked a rot of lead time into getting there early for my appointment in case it's late. andñrçó that's kind of the advii would give someone. if it's the best option, should you book away? it depends why you're going. if you'reçó arriving the night before a wedding that obviouslyi can't be rescheduled, it's worth asking, is this really the best option? the reliability really has been thrown into question, and if it's an important event that you can't reschedule, there's no guarantee. >> ifill: and there's no immediate solution. >> nothing in sight at the moment. >> ifill: already, ben
mutzabaugh, "usa today," thank you very much. >> my pleasure. >> woodruff: the inner workings of the vatican were in the spotlight today as the pope's former butler took the stand in a trial focused on stolen church documents. jeffrey brown reports. >> brown: as pope benedict the 16th arrived in st. peter's square for his weekly address, final witnesses testified in the trial of his former butler. members of the holy see's police force told a vatican court they found thousands of the pope's papers hidden in the apartment of paolo gabriele. on many of the documents the pope had written in his native german: "to be destroyed." gabriele worked for the vatican for two decades and served as the pope's butler beginning in 2006. he's accused of stealing confidential papers and leaking them to italian journalists including gianluigi nuzzi, who published them in his book "his holiness: the secret papers of
pope benedict the 16th" in may. gabriele has confessed to taking the papers, saying he wanted to expose what he called "evil and corruption" in the church. still, under vatican law, the trial must proceed. a formal verdict is expected on saturday. >> brown: for more on all of this we turn to naomi o'leary who is covers the vatican for reuters in rome. hat kind of documens was the pope's butler taking? what do we know? >> reporter: well, from what we learned from his testimony and from the testimony of the police, these were documents that were of añi sensitive natue taken from the pope's apartment. some of them had been written on by the pope himself with words like "to be destroyed," for example. now, these documents, the butler admits he leaked to an italian journalist, and they appeared in a book earlier this year which caused a bit of discomfort for
the vatican because inside those documents there were allegations of improper business dealings and of rivalries between cardinals. >> brown: tell us a little bit more about that. the butler says he did it. but he also says he did it to expose corruption. what kind of corruption? what are we talking about? >> reporter: the documents that he slipped were of, as i say, of a sensitive nature. some of them had to do with contracts and the way in which the have thes ordered contracts for infrastructure, for example. now, an archwashington wrote to the pope, raising concerns about these improper business dealings. and his letter to the pope was among the documents slipped to the journalist. so that was one of them. and we also know that this archbishop was subsequently
posted to washington against his wishes. so this points to disagreements and some uncomfortable truths for the vatican from what we know from testimony. >> brown: well, do we know if anybody is behind the butler, sort of putting him up to it? who's behind the leaks that are damaging the vatican? >> reporter: going by testimony, the butler has said that he had no direct accomplices, although he does e was inspired by people within the vatican and by a general sense of mahaze, as he describes it. now, commentators have said that it he may have been working with others, but that's i think speculation. going by testimony, he says he was working alone. >> brown: is it a power play here orxd who controls certain pieces or what goes on at the vatican? >> reporter: it was embarrassing for the vatican for these documents to come out at the time that theyçóçóáidid, whh
was, of course, at a time when the vatican was seeking to distance itself from a series of scandals, including child sex abuse cases and scandals involving its waning. so this was certainly an uncomfortable event. back to, i don'tñr know, renaissance intrigues or the stuff of movies or television programs we might have all looked at from the distant past& but how unusual is something like this, this kind of intrigur in wantñr modern vatican? >> reporter: the vatican, as i said, has tried to distance itself. it has faced a series of scandals are but none of them has involvedçó someone howas so physically close to the pope hills. this was a man hoserved the pope meals. who helped him dress and rode in the front see of the pope mobile at official functions. this was a man from the inner chambers of the vatican. >> brown: one last thing, naomi.
has the pope himself said anything about all this? >> reporter: the pope has so far kept pretty silent on the matter. he-- the butler has asked for his forgiveness and expressedói his remorse at betraying the pope as he put it. he did say he considered what he did not to be a crime. now, some people have speculated, some commentators have said that were the butler to be handed down a sentence, the pope could come out and pardon him. but again, that remains to be seen. and it's like-- we're likely to hear the outcome of the trial on saturday, which is the final day when judges are expected to deliver their verdict and offeri a sentence. >> brown: all right naomi o'leary of reuters in rome, thanks so much. >> ifill: and back to presidential politics with a report from a midwestern swing state where votes are being cast, even before the candidates
step up to the lectern for their first debate tonight. hari sreenivasan has the story. >> reporter: iowa; the first state to caucus, is also the first battleground state to open precincts for early voting.ñr >> i'll just verify some information and get you started. >> reporter: last week, on the first day when voters could cast their ballots at a voting booth- the lines were almost an hour long. >> we processed 596 voters at our counter over eight hours which is six times the amount we did four years ago. >> reporter: jamie fitzgerald is the polk county auditor of elecukons. in 2008, he says a third of the voters in his county cast ballots early, either at precincts or by mail. >> stick it inside the secrecy envelope, seal it, drop it over there, have a good day. >> reporter: this time he thinks the number of early voters could be even higher. the campaigns know it too, and both are factoring it into their strategies. >> i'm calling to let you know, and you probably know too, voting has begun here in iowa. >> reporter: for the past three
presidential election cycles in iowa, democrats have pushed their supporters to the polls early, as a way to gain a lead before election day. >> vote by mail gets us a sure vote. it also helps the voter in that they don't have to get to the polls in iowa weather. which in november can be not good. >> reporter: but this year the republicans are fighting for those early votes, too, according to o. kayenderson, the news director for radio iowa. she's been covering politics here for 28 years. >> they are targeting voters who they might consider to be less likely to be republican voters, maybe someone who cast a ballot for the first time in 2010 in 20 years and may have voted for a republican congressman. they're hoping to get those people to cast this vote in this 40 day window before election day to, as they say around here, bank the votes, make a deposit, if you will. >> reporter: a recent des moines register poll found less than 2% of iowa voters were undecided, which means the campaigns could
benefit from locking in votes early. >> voting early gives us a better idea of who's going to >> reporter: 17-year-old sabrina fest is one of many volunteers the romney campaign says has helped them make more than a million phone calls in the state. keep in mind, iowa has a population just over three million. how many phone calls have you made just today? >> i'm not sure. they say the average is about 50 per hour, but i use two phones. >> reporter: according to social scientists, personal contact such as phone calls and door knocks can boost turnout by 3% or more. but the campaigns know, in iowa, nothing beats a handshake. since may, the two presidential candidates have held 30 events across the state, with president obama holding three times as many campaign stops as former governor mitt romney. both vice presidential candidates have criss-crossed iowa just in the past few weeks, a sign both parties still think they can win here.
president obama has taken a lead in recent polls. still, he is not headed into this election with the same advantage he had in 2008 when he won the state by ten points. two years ago, the republican party chipped away at the democrats lead, and now claim almost 11,000 more registered active voters. mitt romney came in a close second here in the january caucuses, that's four years after he ignored, and lost, the state-- also proof of how campaigning here can make a difference. republicans want to capitalize on that momentum. >> in 2008, the obama campaign had the organizational advantage in iowa. in 2012, republicans have stepped up their game. they had done more by april than john mccain did in iowa by election night in 2008. >> reporter: but political support in iowa doesn't simply
rely on the sheer force of campaigning. there are more voters registered without party affiliation in iowa than there are republicans or democrats. many iowans measure the candidates independent of their party. voters like 19-year-old charlie comfort who we met at smokey row coffee co. in oskaloosa. >> i want to meet with them one- on-one. they have the opportunity to come here. i want to meet them. >> reporter: comfort has already won a seat on the local school board. he volunteered for then senator obama's campaign in 2008 but has since switched his allegiance to romney based on what he considers a broken promise by the president. >> i feel he's almost stiffed the voters on a couple of issues. the biggest one for me is education, obviously, because i'm on the school board, and i feel he's not paying near as much attention as he should to the educational system. >> what comfort cares about has >> reporter: what comfort cares about has instead been drowned out by the campaigns selling competing visions to iowans. the differing philosophies on job creation, the economy, and
the role of government are clashing in newton, iowa. this is the birthplace of the washing machine, where maytag made its home for decades. in 2007, it became the town maytag left behind, when it closed its headquarters, moved operations to mexico. newton lost about 1,800 jobs and millions from its local economy. >> our main focus for newton right now is... is getting people back to work as well as jasper county. so, i mean, our focus is... is employment. >> reporter: chaz allen has been mayor here for nine years, we caught up with him after a charity motorcycle ride. he says two companies have moved into newton, building windmill towers and turbines and employing almost 1,000 people. allen's support is squarely behind president obama thanks to the wind energy tax credit designed to help these businesses grow. >> mitt romney's message is to get rid of the wind production tax credit. well, that's big here because we've got t.p.i. and trinity both producing wind turbines and wind towers, and that's a critical factor for us to keep those plants moving past 2013. >> reporter: o. kay henderson says these single issue voters add up quickly in such a small
state. >> if iowa does again come down to a few thousand votes, these sort of narrow cast issues can have a huge effect. and so that is why you see the obama campaign pushing this so hard, because the wind energy industry has about 7,000 or 8,000 workers in iowa. >> reporter: then there is the fight in plain sight-- the >> romney would jeopardize thousands of jobs and knock the wind out of iowa's economy. >> a prairie fire of debt is sweeping across the nation. >> reporter: the negative ads are on >> reporter: the negative ads on almost every channel, every night. >> i mean, it's almost-- the ads border on being vulgar. >> reporter: steve bump has run a fireplace business in the des moines suburbs for 38 years, he knows fall is when people think about snuggling up to a warm fire, and more important for him, when they make buying decisions. >> if i'm selling romance and entertainment with my product, and i am, i don't want that
customer to have all these negative thoughts in their mind about this ad that preceded me. >> reporter: bump says superpac- funded political ads are clogging up the airwaves. those campaign ads push his commercials off primetime and all his ads now cost 25% more. >> i'm probably seeing no less than 30 to 50 negative ads between 6:00 and... and 10:00, and that's watching the same channel. >> reporter: at oktoberfest in amana, iowa, tina wing has already heard too much from both sides. the campaigns also must contend with a sense of election fatigue from voters. >> i think i get calls every single day from every state across the nation. i feel like there is a voting booth for a reason, that its my business and nobody else's. >> reporter: but it won't keep the campaigns from trying to
reach her for another 34 days. >> woodruff: we've posted videos starring iowa voters as part of our "listen to me" project. find those, and more stories from the hawkeye state, on our politics page. >> ifill: now, a new way of quickly diagnosing genetic diseases in newborns and the potential impact. margaret warner has the story. >> warner: when a critically ill infant is rushed to the neonatal intensive care unit, it can take weeks for doctors to determine which genetic mutation may be endangering the baby's life.ñr but today researchers announced they've developed a new way of testing an infant's d.n.a., that can scan for hundreds of genetic disorders and get results in just two days. the research was published in the journal, "science translational medicine." the paper reported the tests of just six newborns in neonatal units, but the implications could be widespread.
roughly 20% of infant deaths in the u.s. are caused by inherited genetic conditions, according to the study. doctor stephen kingsmore led the research team at children's mercy hospitals in kansas city. he's the director for the center for pediatric genomic medicine there. dr. kingsmore, welcome, and thank you for being with us. first of all,-- >> thank you very much. >> warner: how big a breakthrough is this? >> this is a big breakthrough. we've been working toward this goal for a coup of years now. there has been a big gap between the knowledge that we have of genetic diseases, about 35% of them, and the ability for doctors to identify which of these was a problem in any given child with an illness. >> warner: and up until now, how much have you been able to diagnose the d.n.a. abnormalities? how quickly? i mean, i said it can take weeks and weeks, but what's the
process that's making it so slow now? >> well, typically, the way that this has been tested is for a doctor to pick the leading candidate gene or part of the d.n.a. code, and to look at just that. it's kind of like fishing with a single fishing line. it can take months. sometimes it takes five years to make a diagnosis. and during that period, the family's waiting and roabl the child is getting worse. >> warner: so is it more important to have quick diagnosis in genetic diseases than in ordinary ones? >> well, this is true of all diseases, but geneticñi diseases are a particular problem for physicians just because of the staggering number of them that present in children. about 3,500 diseases, i mean it does not really matter how expert a physician you are. you just can't comprehend each of those, and then tie them to specific children. very many of them have very
similar presentations, and so it's bewildering and often takes months or years to untangle. >> warner: so in the simplest terms how does your new process work? i gather it's in two stages. >> yes, that's right. so we took this process, which takes months, and we collapsed the first stage, which is to decode the 3.2 billion letters of an individual's d.n.a. language. that took about a day. and then another day for us to go from those three billion letters down to what we believe to be causing the particular child's illness. so the first half was technical, and the second half was very computational. >> warner: from the description tsounds as if the doctor basically punches-- i mean, uses software to say what they're just seeing as a doctor. he's not eating. his eyes are big-- whatever. and then you sort of narrow down
how that matches up with certain genetic mutations and then you test his blood or her plood. >> that's exactly right. a big problem here has been doctors don't actually know what precise tests to order. they've heard of some of the diseases but many others we haven't. y woo built a software system with clickable buttons where the doctor enters what he is seeing in a given patient and that targets the analysis stage in the part of the vast genome on target for that particular child. >> warner: i did notice sadly almost all the babies in your study have died. >> yes. >> warner: even if a diagnosis is made of one of these rare genetic diseases, how often is there actually effect i treatment? >> well, there are treatments available for about 500 of the 3500 diseases. not all of these treatments are truly effective but they all have some benefit so we're
looking to pick out the subset for which there is a treatment and to get that in a very timely manner, particularly for babies born acutely ill. even for those for whom there isn't a treatment available, getting a definitive diagnosis, doing that quickly, makes a huge, huge impact on family who have this shock of a horribly ill baby. >> warner: how soon do you expect this to be really available clinically and at what cost in. >> we estimate that the cost today about $13,500 per baby. that's really the reason we felt it was' very good place to start with newborns in an intensive care unit. because hospital stays are very expensive in these children. when will it be available? well, we're working now to put this into practice in our hospital here in missouri, and by the end of the year we prohibit we'll be abe to offer this test, albeit as a research
test where we'll have to talk to parents and get their permission to run the test. hopefully next year we're able gpto other children and other it hospitals. >> warner: finally, an ethical question, what do the doctors do if they pick up a markener this baby that predisposes him or her to a disease much later in life-- let's say breast cancer. to they tell the parents? >> yes. that's añi really good question, and you're right. if you decode an entire genome, you find things that you wanted to see and possibly thengz you didn't really want to see. and that's some of the beaut of what we described today is we are targeting using a software system, just the regions of the genome which are relevant to the given baby. and so we don'tçó actually see e regions which are takeoff target, and this gets around this, this phenomenal issue by giving relevant information but by noting seeing the information
that's irrelevant to what's going on, on a given baby at añi given time. >> warner: veryñi interesting. dr. stephen kingsmore, thank you very much. >> woodruff: and we end tonight with another look at presidential campaign debates, as seen through the eyes of one of our own. jim lehrer's latest book tells the story from the unique front-row seat he has occupiedñr as a debate moderator. he sat down with jeffrey brown last year to talk about it. >> what are you going to have to give up in terms of the priorities that you would bring as president of the united statesçó? >> brown: for american voters, presidential debates are usually the only chance to see and take the measure of candidates side by side. >> jim, under my plan, all seniors will get prescription drugs. >> brown: upwards of 60 million viewers i? >> senator dole you voted against the crime bill. >> brown: the stakes are incredibly high. >> none of us has any idea what
jim lehrer intend to ask. >> brown: and the man who has moderated more of these debates than anyonees says it's like walking down the blade of a knife. that does not sound like a lot of fun. >> lehrer: it's not a lot of fun. but if you get to the other end it's really exciting. >> brown: you've made it. >> lehrer: you've made it. our questions will be equally divided between foreign and domestic policy matters. >> brown: jim lehrer moderated his first presidential debate in 1988 and nine more since, as well as a vice presidential debate. inñr 1996 and 2000, he moderated all the presidential debates, the first person to do that. in his book "tension city" he writes an insider's account of debates own the last several decades. we talked about it at his washington, d.c. home. >> lehrer: the bottom line, jeff, when a debate is over that i moderate, i want everybody to say, "okay, here you have seen and heard the candidates fo$ñ president of the united states on the same stage at the same time talking aboutñi the same
things, and you can judge them, not just on content-- because by then people know about lock boxes and social security and all those issues. they want to take a measure of the person. i mean, do you like this guy? is he tell the truth? all that kind of stuff. and you see them right there together, it's a huge test. >> brown: you write about the preparation, the period, the tension for you leading up to it. at one point you say, "you learn thatting dealing with nervesçó s the key to being able to function effectively." >> lehrer: the first step, the must step is you've got to be prepared and preparation means not so you can write the greatest questions in the world but because so you can listen in some comfort zone to the answerr and make a decision, split-secondistition, that could affect all kind of things, including the outcome of an election, whether to follow up on this--
>> brown: and you're aware of that all the time. >> all the time, all the time. the way i get into my comfort zone is as i say, just read everything, try to digest itçó all. >> brown: have it in your head. >> lehrer: have it in your head and try to imagine the event yourself see billy bobñiñi candidate and how he or she would respond and get this loose picture already in my mind. and the final step is i do write the questions and all of that, and by then i'm in a kind of isolation booth of my own, of my ownñr making. i don't even talk to people on the "newshour" staff. >> brown: yeah, i know.ñr the one person who does hear the final draft of questions beforehand, is jim's wife, kate, a novelist and of course veteran of a million "newshour" viewings. she acts as jim's debate prep editor and shares in all the
anxiety. >> as soon as this process really get under way, it's-- i'm alice in wonderland going into the rabbit hole. ( laughter ). praying to come out on the other side. >> brown: so it's safe to say this is pretty nerve-racking. >> it's very nerve-racking. it's fairly surreal. >> brown: in the book, jim write of preparing opening questions for the 1992 three-way debate between george h.w. bush, bill clinton, and ross pero. >> i will ask questions for the first half under rules that permit. >> to get things going he wanted to question along the same line apples to apples for the candidates. this one time, kate was on a book tour so they stalked by phone not long before the start of the debate. >> lehrer: i called kate and ran through those three questions and there was dead silence on the phone. and i thought uh-oh. i really don't need this. i said, okay, what is it?" i was not terribly polite about
it. and she said, "well, you have two apples and an owner." that was one of the hardest calls i ever made. i knew he was in his zone. he felt really good about his questions. he was really up. and that's a split-second decision. as he says in the book, he called me back to tell me by the time he got there that i'd been right and it was okay. in the meantime, i got aanda, our youngest daughter, and i said we've got to go for a walk. we've got to go for a walk. we got out, and içó said i've ruined the debate for your daddy. i've ruining everything. >> brown: in fact, jim writes, kate saved the day. but glitch of all sorts can and sometimes do occur. in his basement office surrounded by the bus signs he collects, jim showed me the coding system he uses to keep track of questions and time. here for the 2008 obama-mccain it be. t it doesn't always work. >> the debate in 2004 between
john kerry and george w. bush i, i literally forgot whether or not-- uh-oh, is this a new question or is this a follow-up question? my mind just went blank. and i had to make a decision. and i just guessed right. >> brown: the book highlights so-called major moments in debate history, the ones that come to define an dispnt sometimes ape candidate. george h.w. bush looking at his watch in 1992. >>ñi thereçóñr guagain. >> brown: those zingers from ronald reagan that wounded jimmy cartener 1980. in the documentary "debating our destiny" jim went back to talk to candidates about their experience of the debates and had the chance to ask whether they prepared famous lines ahead of time. >> lehrer: i asked ronald reagan about, "there you go again," and a couple of others. "no, no, it just came to me." >> no it just seemed to be the
thing to say and what he was saying up there. >> brown: did you believe him? >> lehrer: i don't know if i did or i didn't. i found it interesting that nobody wants to admit. >> brown: another major moment came in 2000 with vice president al gore rolling his eyes and loudly sighing during his debate with then-texas governor george w. bush. the whole world knew it,ñi excet for the third man on the stage that night inñi boston. >> you didn" know it was happening. >> lehrer: i didn't know it because under my personal rules, i ask candidatasm a question, ii look only at candidate a. i never look atñi candidate b., because i don't want to be involved in eye contact to help in any way affect the response of the other candidate. and when the debate was over, one of my daughters said to me, gosh, dad, that was incredibleñr what gore did. and i stopped and said, what, did gore do?" >> brown: when you've taken a hit and write about a period when you did, you're not being aggressive enough or pushing
hard enough. enough. >> lehrer: yeah. i'm criticized all the time for that, that i haven't been aggressive enough. a lot of peoplexd would expect a moderator, whether it's a debate moderator or a moderator on the "newshour" o'er, i say, "matter, ask a question, "or "candidateñi ask the question" and the moderator yells liar! moderators are not human lie detector machines. the lie detector machines are the people who are listening. do it for them. >> brown: over the years many debate formats have been tried. candidates standing, sitting, walking around. and moderators in a panel, given strict bounds of of or relative freedom greer two minute, two minute and i'll decide whether we go on. >> brown: the key question is do our presidential debates offer real debate for the citizens to hear a real debate among the candidates?
>> lehrer: to coin a phrase it all depend what you mean by "debate." to have a free-flowing debate where the two people talk to each other and argue with each other, no. we haven't had those. with a few exceptions. i know this sound a little kind of cliche-ish, but the fact is, the format to me is the least important thing. the important thing is that they have these debates. everybody watches for different things. and they're gog see all kind of different things. and for now from boston, i'm jim lehrer thank you and good night. from coral gables, florida, i'm jim leery, thank you and good night. from oxford, mississippi, thank you, senators, both, i'm jim lehrer, thank you and good night. ( applause ) >> good job. >> good job, john. >> woodruff: that interview with jim and kate leerir was record last fall. >> ifill: again, the major developments of the day:
president obama and mitt romney prepped for their face-to-faceñi meeting tonight in denver, where they will square off in the first debate. and the syrian civil war threatened to boil over, after mortar fire from syria killed five people in a village in turkey. the turks fired back at targets in syria. and in a new project launching today, the "newshour" is allowing you to make your own political ads. kwame holman explains. >> holman: gwen, the adlibs mozilla game let's the viewer be the candidate. you can mash up your facebook photos to make personalized political ads. find that on our home page. today in making sense, with millions of americans still outr of work, economics correspondent paul solman explains how the jobless numbers are tallied. pulitzer prize winning journalist hedrick smith took your questions about his latest book "who stole the american dream?" read his answers in the rundown. and you can be a part of our debate live-blog. tweet your photos from your
watch party using the hashtag pbs debates. all that and more is on our website: newshour.pbs.org. judy? >> woodruff: and that's the "newshour" for tonight. i'm judy woodruff. >> ifill: and i'm gwen ifill. we'll see you online. plus, here at 9:00 p.m. eastern time for full coverage and analysis of tonight's debate and again tomorrow evening with reaction from voters in florida. thank you and good night. major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by:
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