tv PBS News Hour PBS May 25, 2011 6:00pm-7:00pm EDT
captioning sponsored by macneil/lehrer productions >> woodruff: a wide swath of the nation's midsection was at risk for more severe weather today, even as emergency workers sifted through wreckage left from deadly tornadoes earlier this week. good evening. i'm judy woodruff. >> ifill: and i'm gwen ifill on the "newshour" tonight. kwame holman has the latest on the destruction and the rescue operations in oklahoma, missouri, arkansas and kansas. >> woodruff: then, david chalian looks at how the medicare debate helped turn a new york house seat from red to blue. >> ifill: margaret warner updates the political upheaval in egypt, as former president hosni mubarak is ordered to stand trial on charges of corruption.
>> woodruff: ray suarez talks to "global post" reporter james foley, recently released from six weeks in captivity by qadhafi forces in libya. >> when we hit that two-week mark i knew, okay, this is going to be a long time. they're telling us two to three days but they're just playing mind games with us. >> ifill: and we chronicle the 25-year run of cultural and business phenomenon oprah winfrey, as she ends her daily talk show. >> woodruff: that's all ahead on tonight's "newshour." major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by: >> i want to know what the universe... >> looks like. >> feels like. >> from deep space. >> to a microbe. >> i can contribute to the world by pursuing my passion for science. >> it really is the key to the future. >> i want to design... >> a better solar cell. >> i want to know what's really possible. >> i want to be the first to cure cancer. >> people don't really understand why things work. >> i want to be that person that finds out why.
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: the plague of tornadoes in the midwest claimed 14 more victims overnight, in oklahoma and several other states. and, more storms whirled into life today, while the people of joplin, missouri continued searching for their own dead and missing. "newshour" correspondent kwame holman has the story. >> reporter: nerves already were on edge across the midwest as forecasters issued a new wave of warnings. kansas city, missouri went on alert, and the storm system threatened half a dozen other states as it headed west.
less than 24 hours earlier, tornadoes tore their way across oklahoma. >> this was a large tornado that come through here. >> reporter: damage in oklahoma city, its suburbs and towns to the north and south was severe, with many homes reduced to little more than foundations. >> we're okay, we're okay. >> reporter: the experience was terrifying for a group in canton, oklahoma. they captured video of a tornado churning across water. another funnel cloud tore a path through the town of chikasha. some houses were untouched while others nearby were flattened. >> had the house here, a three car garage: two stories with a garage apartments, a silo, another house. my wife's car-- a new car-- was in the garage; it's in the tree. >> when i got here, it's not only my house, but my neighbor's house, and my neighbor beside them. it's all gone. >> reporter: arkansas also was bombarded last night. >> anybody here?
>> reporter: first responders were on the scene in denning right away, helping the injured. they pulled a woman with a heart condition from rubble that used to be her house. this morning, unharmed denning residents ventured outside to survey what was left. >> look what has blown in here! >> reporter: and storms in texas brought golf ball-sized hail and even forced fans to evacuate from the upper deck at a texas rangers baseball game. the tuesday night storms also set sirens wailing again in joplin, missouri. the city was ravaged on sunday by one of the worst tornadoes ever recorded. it's now been confirmed as an e.f-5-- the strongest kind -- with winds that topped 200 miles-an-hour. >> seeing this right now, i'm in shock. i can't even-- it doesn't even look the same. >> reporter: more than 120 people were killed in joplin, and today, the search for bodies and survivors went on. trained dogs again aided rescue crews by pinpointing where they
should focus. the city's st. john's medical center was hit squarely by the twister. this morning, structural engineers ventured inside see if the building could be saved. >> you're probably wondering about facility behind us. it was like a bomb went off behind us on every floor. it's an amazing scene in there. hopefully we'll have pictures in next while. we're not certain if structure is going to be able to support another facility here or if we'll need to rebuild. >> reporter: but whatever the fate of the building, the head of the hospital's parent company praised the actions of the people involved. >> i want to tell you how awed about what i've witnessed here since monday morning. we began to assess what had happened to mercy coworkers, facilities. we witnessed heroic activities.
i've seen the community rallying around recovery and those are such great signs that joplin is going to come back stronger than ever before. >> reporter: for now, many in joplin still were reliving the moments when death seemed close at hand. >> it was a hot water tank that hit me the first time, it looks like, and then the refrigerator is what i had to pull off my baby. >> i felt suction just pulling me. >> reporter: earl fassel was visiting joplin with his wife on sunday. they went into the walmart to try to ride out the weather, but the storm followed them. >> we looked up and saw the ceiling tiles starting to float around, got a cool breeze that came through, and it felt very eerie. a loud crack and then just an extremely loud roar, some screams and you can't imagine that roar. >> reporter: a collapsed wall shielded the fassels from the worst. when they crawled out, they saw others who'd been killed. >> we realized right to the side of us we were going by someone that didn't make it.
for many others, there still is no certainty. up to 1,500 people are listed as missing. steven campbell is looking for his wife tami, who was lying next to him when the tornado hit. >> i heard her scream and then right after she screamed, that's when the whole thing collapsed on us. that was the end of it. >> reporter: others have taken to social media sites such as facebook to search for loved ones. in one case alone, more than 19,000 people supported the "help find will norton" community page, rallying around the teen's friends and family's attempts to look for him. in addition to the dead and missing, some 750 people were injured by the joplin tornado. >> ifill: still to come on the "newshour": an upset in a new york house race; the charges against former egyptian president mubarak; a journalist's tale of six weeks in captivity and oprah winfrey's finale. but first, the other news of the day. here's hari sreenivasan. >> sreenivasan: president obama
got to the business of his state visit to britain today. he said anglo-american influence in the world is enduring and he reinforced a commitment to see the mission in libya through to the end. we have a report from gary gibbon of "independent television news." >> reporter: state visits are opportunities for kind words and photo calls and number 10 street thinks they don't come better than this-- president and prime minister serving burgers to british and american military servicemen at a downing street barbecue. after lunch there was an address, the first by an u.s. president to both houses of parliament gathered in westminster hall. >> i am told that the last three speakers here have been the pope her majesty the queen, and nelson mandela. which is either a very high bar or the beginning of a very funny joke. (laughter)
>> reporter: president obama said despite the rise of china, but said now was the time for britain and the us to take the lead in the world and that the values of the two countries gave them special strengths. >> the example of our two nations says it is possible for people to be united by their ideals instead of the divided by their differences. it is possible for hearts to change and old hatred to pass. and it's possible for the sons and daughters of former colonys to sit here as members of this great parliament and for the grandson of a kenyan who served as a cook in the british army to stand before you as president of the united states. >> reporter: and while some wilted in the heat, president obama said that the democracy movement in north africa and the middle east proved that ideals britain and the u.s. promoted were universally shared. earlier, there were talks in downing street on the
practicalities behind all the rhetoric. both men are focused on getting troops out. their main arguments seem to be more with their own generals. on libya the u.s. has held back telling european nato countries that they should take the lead in their mediterranean backyard. at a joint press conference, barack obama said dealing with the qaddafi regime in libya would not be a quick fix and people should be patient. >> there may be a false perception that there are a whole bunch of secret super effective air assets that are in a warehouse somewhere that could just be pulled out and that would somehow immediately solve the situation in libya. that's not the case. but ultimately this is going to be slow steady process in which we're able to wear down the regime forces. >> reporter: david cameron led a recent stock-take on british policy what triggered the latest
intensified bombing of libyan targets. he said the two men were at one on libya. >> sreenivasan: the president also returned to the issue of israeli-palestinian negotiations. he said each side has to look at the long-term, and not what he called "short-term tactical interests," if there's going to be progress. >> i am confident that can be achieved. it is going to require wrenching compromise by both sides. that's not something that any party from the outside is going to be able to impose on them. but what i am absolutely certain of is that if they're not talking, we're not going to make any progress, and neither the >> sreenivasan: the president also defended his public call last week for a return to 1967 borders. israeli prime minister benjamin netanhayu flatly rejected the idea again yesterday, in his speech to the u.s. congress. today, former president bill clinton said it is something of a tempest in a teapot. he was interviewed by gwen ifill at a forum in washington.
>> first, i think what the president said was maybe too much shorthand and raised a lot of questions. remember what prime minister netanyahu said yesterday amidst the president said and what prime minister netanyahu said and then juxtaposed. you can overstate the divide here. long as they're both willing to keep talking about this, i think they should. >> sreenivasan: mr. clinton said it is worth noting that in his speech, prime minister netanyahu offered to give up some west bank settlements for the first time. in yemen, forces loyal to president ali abdullah saleh battled opposition tribes in the capital city for a third day. at least 41 people have been killed since the fighting erupted in sanaa on monday. it started after saleh's troops tried to storm the compound of an influential tribal leader. smoke could be seen rising from the site again today. but saleh accused his opponents of fomenting civil war. and he insisted he won't step down, despite international pressure.
>> ( translated ): we do not want any foreign intervention or solution from outside of yemen. it is a yemeni issue, we should go into a dialogue with all political sides, a solution will come from us and not from the outside. >> sreenivasan: as the fighting continued, hundreds of yemenis fled the capital. the eruption of the grimsvotn volcano in iceland appeared to be winding down today and just in time for air travelers in europe. a drifting cloud of ash closed four airports across northern germany for several hours, and forced some 700 flight cancellations. but europe's air traffic agency was hopeful. >> there are very few eruptions from the volcano over the last 6-12 hours so the volcano is in a reasonably calm state at the moment and assuming that continues we would expect that european aviation would be able to return to almost a normal situation within the next 24 hours. >> sreenivasan: the flight disruptions this week were far less severe than those of last year, when another icelandic volcano erupted. still, several airlines in britain and ireland said even limited cancellations were unnecessary because there was little danger. the man accused of shooting
u.s. congresswoman gabrielle giffords has been found mentally incompetent to stand trial. a federal judge issued the ruling today in phoenix, arizona for jared lee loughner. he is accused of killing six people and wounding 13-- including giffords-- at a january event in tucson. loughner will be sent to a federal facility for up to four months, to see if his mental state improves. the criminal case is on hold indefinitely. on wall street today, stocks made modest gains after oil prices moved back above $101 a barrel and gave energy companies a boost. the dow jones industrial average gained 38 points to close above 12,394. the nasdaq rose 15 points to close at 2761. those are some of the day's major stories. now, back to judy... >> woodruff: now to politics and the aftershock's from yesterday's special house election in new york that reverberated throughout washington today. democrats today hailed kathy
hochul's upset victory in a special u.s. house election in western new york state. the erie county clerk seized on the u.s. house republican plan to convert medicare into a voucher system, while cutting billions from the program. on tuesday, hochul won 47% of the vote in the state's 26th congressional district, where republicans hold a heavy voter registration advantage. republican jane corwin placed second with 43%, followed by democrat-turned-tea party candidate jack davis at 9%. at a victory rally tuesday night, hochul supporters chanted "medicare, medicare." >> tonight, we showed that voters are really willing to look beyond the party label and vote for the person and the message they believe in. ( applause ) and we showed that thousands and thousands and thousands of voters are more powerful than millions and millions of dollars of special interest money. ( applause )
>> woodruff: outside interest groups, including the conservative american crossroads, spent more than $2 million on the race. in a statement, the group's c.e.o. steven law said, "what is clear is that this election is a wake-up call for anyone who thinks that 2012 will be just like 2010." house budget committee chairman paul ryan authored the republican medicare plan. today, he warned against politicizing the issue, at a washington event hosted by the peter g. peterson foundation. >> whenever you put out a reform and what they do with medicare is they shamelessly demagogue it, call it medi-scare, trying to scare seniors. the irony of this is our plan actually preserves the benefit for current seniors, but trying to scare seniors in turning these things into political weapons. what that ends up doing is inflicting political paralysis and that means nothing gets
down. and that means we go farther down the path of debt. >> woodruff: at the same event, former president bill clinton cautioned democrats to make sure they take away the right lesson from the outcome in new york. >> i'm afraid that the democrats will draw the conclusion that because congressman ryan's proposal i think is not the best one, that we shouldn't do anything. i would completely disagree with that. i think that there are a lots of things you can do to bring down medicare costs. >> woodruff: but late this afternoon senate democrats staged a vote on the ryan plan - - so as to highlight divisions within the g.o.p. its defeat was a foregone conclusion, with several republicans joining majority democrats, in opposing the plan. majority leader harry reid urged republicans to listen to the voters. >> democrats in congress and even some candid republicans know the republican plan to kill medicare is irresponsible and indefensible. last night, voters showed the
country and the congress they know it, too. >> woodruff: republican leader mitch mcconnell countered that democrats were shirking their responsibilities by opposing medicare reforms. >> congressman ryan has shown courage by proposing a budget that would tackle these problems. democrats are showing none by ignoring our problems altogether. >> woodruff: but in the short term, at least, tuesday's election win gives democrats a boost, after last november's drubbing at the polls. for more, we turn to newshour political editor david chalian. >> hello, judy. >> woodruff: so let's talk about this race, this house race in new york. we are reporting on it, but it's just one congressional district out of 435. why are we making such a big deal out of it? >> you raise a good point. i'm always a little care to feel take a special election and try to draw large national trends that will tell us about the next election. but it does tell us something about our politics right now. we pay attention to this one
because it's a reliably republican district and a democrat won. this a district, judy, that john mccain won by six points against barack obama in 2008 in an otherwise very blue new york state. this is really a ruby red district, it should not have been competitive for the republicans but for paul ryan's medicare plan, that's what made it competitive. >> woodruff: and that's what democrats are playing up. they are saying this was all about the role that medicare played, that paul ryan... is that... do we know for a fact that that was the defining issue here? >> well, there are no exit polls in this race so we don't have voters telling us that but we do know that it was the central issue up for debate. it is what dominated the television airwaves, what dominated the conversation between the candidates and there might have been some other factors there. you mentioned in your piece there the third-party candidate. certainly that helped draw some votes away from the republican and make it competitive. but let's not make any bones about this. this medicare plan was up on this ballot, basically, and the republicans learned today or last night in the results
they've got a serious problem in trying to defend this very unpopular plan. >> reporter: here we are, though david, we're may of the 2011, 18 months away from the election. is this an issue that democrats really believe they can ride all the way to the presidential election? >> i have no doubt that we will see this issue all the way through 2012. i think we'll see in the advertising. they certainly think they have finally found something. we shouldn't underestimate, judy, the psychological impact for democrats here. they have just spent, you remember, the last two years defending the stimulus bill, defending the health care bill, defending the cap-and-trade bill and, of course, we saw them lose 63 seats in the house last fall. this is their first moment of moving from defense to offense because they have finally found something that they think they can hold on to. but bill clinton's words should be heeded. this is... here's the rub, right? you have voters who are saying we want the candidates that we vote for to address this spending and deficit issue. the problem is there's no
consensus yet about how to go about doing that. what we learned last night, the ryan plan is not how a majority of voters want to go about doing that. >> woodruff: and then there's irony here, which is that this is the very issue, health care, medicare, treatment of seniors in the health care plan, that the democrats were being beaten up on last year. they've now turned it around to their favor-- at least temporarily. >> at least temporarily. you remember part of president obama's health care plan was to get $500 billion in savings in medicare, largely through medicare advantage. that is exactly what republicans ran on last year, put it on their t.v. ads. they said "you are hurting medicare, you're hurting seniors." so the republicans... this is a complete reversal of what we saw last year and now the democrats are trying to use it to their political advantage. >> woodruff: all right. so let's now finally talk about the budget vote, the paul ryan plan did come up in the senate, voted down. a number of republicans... a few republicans sided with the democrats. where does the budget debate
stand right now? >> right. five republicans sided with the democrats. some of those from blue states like massachusetts and maine and what have you. it only got 40 votes in the senate, the ryan plan. right now vice president biden is heading up these negotiations between the house and the senate republicans and democrats. they are trying to reach a deal on spending cuts in order to raise the debt limit by august 2. yesterday vice president biden held yet another meeting with these leaders and they came out, everyone one, all sides saying real progress is being made. they kind of come to agreement on about a trillion dollars worth of cuts so they're trying to move down the pike to get the debt limit issue taken care of. the other larger factor, and this is when you ask is this going to be an issue in 2012? here's the big x factor, judy. if indeed both parties come together on some bipartisan grand bargain of entitlement reform to really tackle the long-term debt and deficit, then this issue goes away as a
political kuj jell for either side. if there's an actual bipartisan agreement. that's unclear that will be reached any time soon. >> woodruff: that's a tough one. i'll keep watching. david chalian, thanks very much. >> sure. >> ifill: the latest twists and turns in egypt's revolution. and to margaret warner. >> warner: egyptians and their media today were still digesting the news: after months of agitation by protestors, the country's chief prosecutor said yesterday their former president and his sons will be put on trial. the charges against hosni mubarak and his sons alaa and gamal: murder and attempted murder of demonstrators, and abuse of power involving public funds. a spokesman for the prosecutor general said if convicted on the murder charge, mubarak could face the death penalty in the deaths of an estimated 850 people during the 18-day uprising in cairo's tahrir square. since being deposed february 11, mubarak has been either in his
seaside home in sharm el sheik, or a hospital nearby. his sons and more than a dozen former associates have been held behind bars. the charges come as the military government is trying to pave the way for parliamentary elections in september, and a transition to civilian rule. the activists have called another major protest friday in tahrir square. for more we turn to michele dunne, senior associate at the carnegie endowment for international peace and editor of the online journal, the arab reform bulletin. she's served at the state department and on the national security council staff. and samer shehata, assistant professor of arab politics at georgetown university. welcome back to you both. professor shehata, beginning with you, this... hosni mubarak, just days before he left office, was speaking of his bond with egypt and he said "i will die on its land." what changed? >> well, what changed was millions of people demonstrating in tahrir and other squares calling for him to be held
accountable as well as regime officials. we have to remember that he stepped down or was removed on february 11 and was a free man until about april 15 or so and what about in the interim were demonstrations, particularly a major million-person demonstration on april 8 calling for him to be put on trial and calling for other regime officials who were free to be held accountable. >> warner: but he could have fled, could he not? >> he could have fled. and i think as you mentioned he said he was going to die on egyptian soil, he's 82, 383 now. the question was why didn't his two sons and wife who hold british nationality not flee? i think everyone thought he was going to be allowed to stay in egypt. >> warner: war so michele dunne, how big a picture is this in this revolution? >> what's going on now is egypt is caught somewhere between an ongoing revolution with protestors who are still trying
to tear down the old system, and that's what the prosecution of mubarak is about. it's about several things. it's about tearing down the old regime. it's about holding someone accountable for the over 800 deaths that took place during the uprising and it's also about tacking the issue of corruption. anyway, egypt caught between an ongoing revolution and a political transition. the military leadership wants to move the country toward elections, toward a political transition and i think in a way give giving up the mubaraks to prosecution is something that the military has had to do, a concession they've had to make in order to try to persuade people to move toward elections. >> pelley: so how much leverage do these protestors have? they seem to use demonstrations and the threat of demonstrations to extract more and more. >> that's exactly what they're doing. there's another big demonstration possibly on friday. we're also seeing some differences. the muslim brotherhood, which has sometimes participateed in these very large demonstrations
has says it's not going to join in the big demonstration on friday and i think the muslim brotherhood is beginning to put its weight on the side of let's move into a political transition. >> warner: is there any prospect that the military government would accede to the big demand of the protestors which is to actually delay the elections? because they say they need more time to organize parties and learn how to do this. >> i don't think that's going to happen. clearly there was a referendum that took place on march 19 and 7% of those who participated voted yes on the constitutional amendments and it was implied there was a timeline that there that the supreme council put in place. i think only as a result of logistical obstacles to actually holding the elections in september would the supreme council change the schedule. i think the key point is, though-- and this is something people don't seem to understand-- the supreme council of the armed forces are not revolutionary. they're not revolutionary vanguard. they were part of the regime and the protestors, the
demonstrators are exerting pressure on them to fulfill the revolution. that means extending the revolution, eliminating members of the old regime. this is the way politics is being played. and egypt now, because there are no functioning institutions, it's who can protest the most. >> pelley: even more broadly regionally what message does this send or what do you think the impact of this will be, the mubarak prosecution, on three other dictators that are resisting calls to leave, namely assad in syria, saleh in yemen and qaddafi in libya. >> well, when president mubarak left office there was no specific deal about what would happen. unlike, for example, yemeni president fall he who has the opportunity maybe to negotiate the terms under which he leaves. that didn't happen with mubarak, you know. so i think that other leaders have to say, you know, either i negotiate the terms or i get out right at the beginning while there's still a chance to do so.
>> warner: so everyday it seems, professor, we read stories about more violence between the minority coptic christians and the majority. crime being up. the autonomy, people complaining about they can't make a living. there was a story today out of mubarak's old hometown with people kind of lamenting his passage. how stable would you say egypt is right now? >> certainly egypt is unsettled. certainly security has declined and more importantly there's the perception that there is a crime wave and that's partly because the security forces are not back doing what they're supposed to do. they're the ones who were defeated in this revolution. and there are economic issues, tourism is down significantly and there are these kinds of concerns. the fruits of revolution, unfortunately, take some time to be realized and i think that's the condition right now in egypt >> warner: but if there's a
power vacuum other than this military council do you think the country is going to become more and more unstable in what's your view of the stability question as it moves towards these elections? >> well, that's exactly the reason why the military council wants to have the election. i think they don't want to be holding the bag as the economic situation deteriorates. the good news is that just in the last week there's been a lot of economic assistance for egypt. president obama announced a significant package including a billion dollars worth of debt relief last week. now we've seen the world bank, saudi arabia, i think an i.m.f. announcement is coming shortly. an e.u. announcement. so some of the money to help egypt through the immediate economic hardships and the promise of more once they hold free leblgss and so forth, that's starting to come through and perhaps it will give egyptians some hope that their economic situation is going to get better. >> warner: we only have a couple
seconds. you mentioned the saudis. reports are the staud dis tried to protect mubarak from this prosecution. true? >> very true, and, in fact, they tried to protect him even while he was in office, of course, avowedly. so they have not been a force for democracy in egypt or elsewhere in the region as we know. >> warner: why? >> because democracy threatens the very foundation of saudi politics and the idea of a leader being held accountable by the people is anathema to the saudis. >> warner: a lot more to watch. samer shehata and michele dunne, thank you both. >> woodruff: now to the fight for libya, and the second of our interviews with correspondents covering the story. tonight, the perspective of "global post" correspondent and producer james foley, who was captured and imprisoned for six weeks by the government. foley was seized april 5 in brega along with claire morgana gillis, who writes for "usa today" and "the atlantic";
spanish photojournalist manu brabo and south african photographer anton hammerl. ray suarez spoke to foley yesterday about the ordeal. >> suarez: james foley, welcome. let's begin when you were taken. how were you captured? >> there was four of us, myself, manu, claire and anton. we were riding in a rebel vehicle, we exited the vehicle. about a few minutes later two heavily armed qaddafi vehicles came over the hill firing and shortly after that we were all captured. >> suarez: so you realized right at that moment that this was something more serious than simply being stopped, having your papers checked, being momentarily detained? >> oh, definitely, the level of fire towards us was something i hadn't experienced before and i was in afghanistan. accurate fire directed at us.
we pressed our bodies to the ground and they got out of the vehicles and came closer firing. >> suarez: sco so you identified yourself as journalists. how were you treated by the soldiers? >> i had to jump up and say "journalist." i wasn't sure if they knew we were journalists. we were certainly unarmed. we were hit a couple times, struck with the butt of an a.k.-47 and punched and claire was dragged by her hair and also punched as well as manu. but after that initial moment of aggression and hyperactivity, things calmed down and there was, in a sense, where we were going to be beat... there wasn't a sense where we were going to be beaten any more than that. >> suarez: along with the other reporters you mentioned weren't you also traveling with south african photographer anton hammerl? what happened to him? >> we were traveling with anton hammerl. an top was shot and we believe he was killed in the initial capture. he cried out and i asked if he was okay, he said no.
after that he did no longer respond. the bullet were coming so fast and quickly at that point we knew we had to surrender. unfortunately there appeared to be no medical treatment and the loyalist soldiers may have indeed hidden his body, recognizing that he was a western journalist. >> suarez: he's still listed as missing, isn't he? >> right now human rights watch, the south african government, all kinds of organizations are looking in that area with where we were captured for his body to confirm for his family if he is indeed 100% gone. >> suarez: once you were in custody, did you have any sense that the libyan authorities were aware of who you were? what you had written? what you had been covering before you were arrested? >> we tried to be very accurate and very truthful, who we worked for, how many stories we had filed, we wanted to make sure that we weren't considered spies
we kept era rey peting the same story when they kept asking us but there was no sense that they had actually checked any of our articles. they appeared to be pretty internet illiterate or incapable of connectivity at that point in tripoli. >> pelley:. >> suarez: as your captivity began to wear on, did you start to worry about whether you would get out at all? >> i never worried that i would be in captivity for let's say a year. i was concerned. i was really concerned to tell my mom that i was okay and when we hit that two-week mark i knew okay, this is going to be a long time. they're telling us two to three days but they're just playing mind games with us. >> suarez: eventually you did get to talk to your mother. >> yes, i did. i talked to my mother about 21... about 20 days after i was captured. >> suarez: were you able to reassure her at all?
i'm sure she was petrified. >> she was worried that i was being forced to say everything i was saying over the phone and i just wanted to tell her i was strong, i was praying, i could make it... i knew it was going to be more time but i was doing physically i was fine and i wasn't being harmed and she was worried that they were making me say these things but she also said oh, so many people have been praying for you and so many of your friends and family have come to our assistance and it just filled me with a tremendous amount of hope. tremendous. >> suarez: was that the first time you realized how aware the rest of the world was that you were in a libyan jail? >> you know, it was. it was, ray. i had no idea. we had no access, of course, to any kind of media and talked to very few people that weren't libyans. so it was a sense, wow, i didn't even know whether we were on the world's radar at the time. >> suarez: did you learn
anything while you were inside? i lean in fellow captives? from the conditions under which you were held? even from watching if demeanor and behavior of the people who were holding you? >> oh, it was very interesting. once we were in the general prison all of the prisoners there from younger 20s to 60s were in there for purely political reasons, for protesting against qaddafi, for sending text messages against him. for talking on the phone about what they had heard on the news. more serious ones, a mom for preaching against... an imam for preaching against qaddafi. a libyan british doctor for helping an al jazeera team. so there was a real mixture of people who were being held by this regime. >> suarez: well, you got to watch this civil war from a very strange vantage point. what did you make about the
libyans, the tenacity of the regime, whether they'll be able to hold on for the long term. >> well, all i can say is, you know, if people who i talked to and the small views of tripoli i got through the sides of the paddy wagon from underneath my blindfold but there certainly was a sense in most of the political prisoners that qaddafi had shot his own people and that they would not accept any compromise by which any of his sons would share power or transition power. there was a strong sense we're willing to stay in prison until this regime is dead but there was, in a sense, a revenge. many of these people had been tortured and severely tortured but they wanted to bring qaddafi to a court and they wanted to bring these men who tortured them into some kind of legal process so there was some hope that there will be serious democratic reforms if and when this regime falls.
>> suarez: how did you finally get sprung and are you okay now? >> it was amazing. the organization i work for, global post, friends from college, friends where i used to teach for teach for america, family were constantly in the media and constantly contacting senators from new england. reconstructing that has just filled me with tremendous awe for what people have done. and finally some hungarian ambassador to tripoli showed up and, you know, that was the first westerner we'd seen in well over a month and said, you know, your case has gotten our attention now and there was a sense, okay, this process is going to start to move. and about a week and a half later we were free in the hungarian embassy. >> suarez: so are you going to head back? >> not in the immediate future. i think my mom is... has my
passport. but, no, it's a tremendous story. i mean, this revolution here is... it's become an armed struggle. it appeared it started as a peaceful protest and it turned into an armed struggle and it's the bloodiest of the arab uprisings and it will be very, very interesting to see if the these revolutionary cans eventually get power and harness it for some kind of democratic reforms. >> suarez: james foley from global post, nice to have you back. thanks for talking to us. >> thanks so much, ray. >> ifill: finally tonight, the end of the daytime road for the woman known by one name: oprah. >> i'm oprah winfrey and welcome to the very first episode of "the oprah winfrey show"! >> ifill: on september 8, 1986
the "oprah winfrey show" joined an afternoon glut of confessional talk programming. >> you know, when i started, not even i imagined that this show would have the depth and the reach that you all have given it. >> ifill: but by the time she signed off today-- 4,500 episodes and 48 million weekly viewers later-- she had eclipsed them all and become her own mega-brand-- the queen of daytime talk. her farewell celebration, taped at chicago's united center last week, was extravagant and star- studded. her words sold millions of books. she produced hollywood movies and broadway plays. but, for many, it was her afternoon program, which aired in 150 countries, that turned her into an icon and tastemaker. ( screaming ) the massive give-aways... >> everybody gets a car!
>> ifill: ...the struggles with her weight. in 1988, she famously wheeled out a wagon loaded with 67 pounds of fat, equivalent to the pounds she'd recently lost. and the emotional appeals. in a 1987 town hall, residents of a small west virginia town confronted their prejudices toward people with aids. >> i think people need to stop and think: what would you do if it was your family? >> ifill: as founder and c.e.o. of harpo productions, winfrey expanded to print in 2000 when she introduced "o." "the oprah magazine." it now attracts more than two million readers each month and features her face on nearly every cover. and she is rich. her net worth is now pegged at $2.7 billion. in 2010, forbes magazine ranked her the third most powerful woman in the world. along the way, she's also
but success hasn't come without controversy. in 1998, a group of texas cattlemen sued winfrey after she expressed fears of mad cow disease in beef. she won. in 2006, she confronted discredited author james frey for fabricating parts of a memoir that was one of her book club selections. >> i feel that you have betrayed millions of readers. >> ifill: earlier this month, she invited him back to apologize for being too hard on him. and at the school she created to educate disadvantaged south african girls, a dorm matron was charged with abuse in 2007. the woman was later acquitted. presidents lined up to appear on "oprah," but it wasn't until 2008 that she embraced partisan politics with her pivotal endorsement of barack obama. >> is he the one? is he the one? i believe he is the one! >> ifill: her campaigning drew criticism in some quarters, and excitement in others. >> i've got to say, this is the
biggest crowd we've had in this campaign. >> ifill: winfrey announced she would end her show a year and a half ago. >> these years with you, our viewers have enriched my life beyond measure. >> ifill: but she isn't leaving the spotlight or abandoning her brand. six months ago, she launched a cable network-- own-- which she named after herself. the oprah winfrey network. for more on oprah's impact on television and american culture, we turn to two people who have followed her career. audrey edwards, former executive editor of "essence" magazine. and mary macnamara, television critic for the "los angeles times." audrey edwards, why is the end of this particular television show such a big deal? >> well, oprah for 25 years was number one in the ratings. that's historic in and of itself and i think she literally transformed a nation in terms of
how women in particular deal with issues. she taught a whole generation of women that you can be the best that you can be. it's about taking charge of your life. it's about confronting your own fears and being the best that you can be. and a 25-year reign is a long time so any time something of that length comes to an end, it's going to be noticed and she was number one for all of those 25 years, which has got to be historic in terms of television history. >> ifill: mary macnamara, your take on that? >> well, i don't think we've ever seen anyone quite like oprah, anyone who's had this kind of personal impact on popular culture. there really isn't a part of popular american culture at this point that hasn't been transforpled in some way by oprah. whether it's publishing, whether it's the many products that she's touted over the years, the gurus that she's anointed. i mean, it's just kind of endless. and even more than that, oprah has transformed the idea of what
is important, of the personal narrative as a socially significant thing in our culture. as significant as any kind of study, as any kind of expert, the idea that your story matters. and we see that everywhere. you could argue that the blogosphere, twitter, you know, facebook, are all sort of spinoffs of the oprah idea. >> ifill: well, let me ask you to elaborate on that a bit because there can be such a thing as too much self-involvement, too much gazing and that perhaps the oprah phenomenon added to that and then initially that grayed away. >> i would say absolutely. there are two sides of the oprah affect. on the one hand you do have this empowerment. on the other hand, self-awareness is only a few steps away from narcissism and as you say, we are a constantly chronicling culture right now. we find nothing more fascinating than our own stories so i think that some of that is also due to oprah. >> ifill: how about that, audrey
edwards? >> well, i think it's due to the media. i think it's due to the media in general. i think in some ways we are a narcissistic culture but the media seized upon that. anyone can become a star, you have "american idol," you have all of the shows where the ordinary person can become a star. and i think all of that contributes to a kind of global or in our case societal narcissism. but i don't think oprah created that. i don't think she created that. >> ifill: let me ask you to expand on that. was her success then-- because this was no small success-- about timing? when she came along in 1986 or was it about her? was it something about her as a woman, as an african american woman who was able somehow to go into people's homes where nobody like her had ever gone before? >> well, i think oprah showed us that the personal narrative is important. that the back story is important. that you need to know who you are to understand who you can become. and i think that's very
important. i don't see a negative in that. i think whatever negative comes out of that is fed by the hype that the media tends to do any way with all kinds of things. >> ifill: how about her foray, mary macnamara, into publishing. it seems like there was nothing... very few things i can think of that she didn't turn to gold. whether it was magazine or books or movies or plays. >> yeah, absolutely. i mean, she is being credited with resurrecting the publishing industry. she and j.k. rowling. and you can't ark who that and there's no down side to that. there's no down side to, you know, exposing people to new writers and then when she turned to the classics, you know, i think even the spat she had with jonathan fran zen and then with james frei, i think that opened people's minds and made people think about how books are written, what books mean, what it means to be chosen by a certain person. i mean, after she started her book club, everyone had a book club and who can argue against book clubs? no one.
and i'm not saying that oprah is to blame for the culture of narcissism, i'm saying that there is a... you know, that you can draw a line from one thing to the other. and i think, you know, she's... why was she successful? because she's extraordinarily good at what she does. i mean, i think it really comes down the fact that oprah understands better than possibly anyone the nature of live television and the ability to tell a story on live television. she was really good at that. she was really good at interviewing people and getting people to open up. and, you know, whether that's because she's a woman, whether that's because she's african american i don't know. i just know that she is tremendously good at what she does. >> ifill: audrey edwards, how about her foray into politics? that was when she came under some criticism from a lot of her own people who said "wait a second, we count on you not to get down and dirty in that sort of thing, you're supposed to be above it all." and she ran the risk of alienating her supporters by endorsing barack obama. >> well, you know, republic is someone who is always... has
always been very passionate about whatever she cares about and one of the things i think made her show so wonderful and it explains why she would have a foray into politics is that she was not afraid to do anything. she was not afraid to talk about any subject. nothing was off limits. nothing was sacrosanct. and that included politics. and because she was a television figure, did not mean that she was not an individual woman with feelings and opinions and a political perspective. and she shared that like she shared everything else, that was the oprah way. >> ifill: did her success change the way we talk about not just only politics but the way we talk andender and race and these large issues in our society? >> i think her success changed how we talked about everything. from sexual abuse to losing weight to why can't i get my man to marry me? she talked about everything. it was very public, it was very up front. it was very honest, and it was very compelling as a result.
it was riveting, people who watched her were riveted. >> ifill: so mary macnamara, here's the hard" after 25 years and we can talk about all the ways that she made people cry, but after it's all over, assuming she's going on to do other things, of course, how lasting an impact is this? it's, after all, a television show. >> it's one person. is it a lasting impact or something that's ephemeral that we're in this society where we're all moving on to the next thing goes away tomorrow? >> no, i think it's... she's had a lasting impact. in what we were talking about in terms of women and girls feeling empowered certainly, and also just in the way that the media treats personal issues, in topics that she brought into the public discourse that may not have come in as quickly. i mean, they're there to stay. and also just this idea again, i cannot stress it strongly enough, that the personal matters that what you are feeling, what an individual person... how an individual
person experiences their life matters and we see that everywhere now. we see that in journalism, we see that in television journalism, print journalism, just that idea of the personal story being so important and that was really her message is this matters and you can live the life that you want to. so i think that that is here to stay and i think oprah's here to stay. to a certain extent we're saying good-bye to the show but she has her own network now. it's not like this message is going anywhere or she's going anywhere. if anything, she's going to have even more influence if she can get her network to be anywhere near as successful as her show. >> ifill: in fact she signed off on that. briefly, audrey edwards, ephemeral or lasting? >> oh, lasting. any time you have been number one for 25 years you're going to have a lasting impact. i mean, she's already changed the nature of daytime television in many ways. we now have service shows and a lot of those shows are replacing soap operas. i think the impact is lasting
and we'll see it for years to come. >> ifill: we'll get back on the couch and see if that's true. audrey edwards, mary macthat mare, a thank you very much. >> woodruff: again, the other major developments of the day: a wide swath of the nation's midsection was at risk for severe weather again, after 14 people were killed overnight in several states. meanwhile, the death toll in joplin, missouri topped 120. president obama in a state visit to britain reaffirmed the u.s.- nato commitment to the mission in libya. and a federal judge in phoenix, arizona ruled jared lee loughner is mentally unfit to stand trial in the shooting of congresswoman gabrielle giffords. and to hari sreenivasan for what's on the "newshour" online. hari? >> sreenivasan: we look at oprah's numbers in viewers, books, products, net worth and more. there's more from today's fiscal summit, where gwen talked with former president bill clinton and judy interviewed lawmakers about debt and deficit reduction. that's on the rundown blog. and find paul solman's take on economic troubles in europe on our making sense page.
all that and more is on our web site: newshour.pbs.org. judy? >> woodruff: and that's the "newshour" for tonight. on thursday, we'll have the latest on the aftermath of the tornadoes in the south and midwest. i'm judy woodruff. >> ifill: and i'm gwen ifill. we'll see you on-line and again here tomorrow evening. thank you and good night. major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by: >> okay, listen. somebody has got to get serious. >> i think... >> we need renewable energy. >> ...renewable energy is vital to our planet. >> you hear about alternatives, right? wind, solar, algae. >> i think it's got to work on a big scale. and i think it's got to be affordable. >> so, where are they? >> it has to work in the real world. at chevron, we're investing millions in solar and biofuel technology to make it work. >> we've got to get on this now. >> right now.
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