tv PBS News Hour PBS May 26, 2017 3:00pm-4:01pm PDT
captioning sponsored by newshour productions, llc >> sreenivasan: good evening. i'm hari sreenivasan. judy woodruff is away. on tonight's pbs newshour: gunmen in egypt attack a coptic christian group making their way to a monastery, killing at least 28 members of the targeted religious minority. also ahead this friday, judy woodruff sits down with american aya hijazy and her husband, both charity workers released from an egyptian prison after three years. >> it was actually in the cage when the judge acquitted us all, and it was-- it was unbelievable. we, like, we prayed for it so much, but we thought it was far reaching. >> sreenivasan: and, president trump meets with world leaders in sicily for his first g-7 summit. we wrap up the events of trump's first foreign trip. and, it's friday. mark shields and david brooks
>> the ford foundation. working with visionaries on the frontlines of social change worldwide. >> and with the ongoing support of these institutions: and friends of the newshour. >> this program was made possible by the corporation for public broadcasting. and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. >> sreenivasan: once again tonight, coptic christians in egypt are under attack. this time, gunmen blasted a bus packed with men, women and children. chief foreign affairs correspondent margaret warner has the story.
>> reporter: hours after the attack, the bus sat on an unpaved desert road. shattered windows and blood stains bore witness to the ferocious assault. survivors told of being overtaken by eight to ten gunmen in s.u.v.'s. how many people were on the bus? >> ( translated ): we were 40 people, including children in the bus. >> reporter: what did the attackers look like? >> ( translated ): they were masked. >> reporter: what were they wearing? >> ( translated ): like military uniforms. >> reporter: it happened on a isolated road in minya province, south of cairo. the coptic christians were on their way to a monastery. the health ministry says many of the dead and wounded were children. this was the latest in a series of attacks on egypt's embattled christian minority since late last year. those claimed more than 75 lives. and the islamic state group claimed responsibility for those earlier incidents. in december, the main coptic cathedral in cairo was bombed. then on palm sunday, came twin suicide attacks on churches in
alexandria and tanta. after that, egyptian president adbel fatah el-sisi declared a three-month nationwide state of emergency. >> ( translated ): i won't say those who fell are christian or muslim. i will say that they're egyptian. >> reporter: the pope, visiting egypt weeks later, condemned the violence against the copts. >> ( translated ): god, the lover of life, never ceases to love man. it is essential that we reject any "absolutizing" that would justify violence. for violence is the negation of every authentic religious expression. >> reporter: coptic christians make up about 10% of egypt's population of 93 million people, and they've long been a target for islamist radicals. in 2013, they largely supported then-general el-sisi when he ousted the muslim brotherhood from power. in return, he pledged to protect the christian minority. now, christians say el-sisi has failed to make good on his
promise, as his government confronts an islamist insurgency. npr reporter jane arraf, in cairo, said christians don't complain about el-sisi publicly. >> they don't want to criticize him. we know that's the case because after these attacks, in hospitals in minya, where people gathered to gather their dead and comfort the wounded, there were protests, but the protests were against the attack itself, they weren't against the government. >> reporter: and, on a day-to- day basis, christians must be ever-more watchful and circumspect about practicing their religion, fearing violence from terrorists-- or their own muslim neighbors. >> in one place, christians were attacked and their houses burned after they gathered to pray for victims of a suicide bombing on palm sunday. when i asked villagers there "what's the problem you have with christians," they said, "we don't have a problem, they just can't build churches." so it's really very unsettled for them in places like that,
and they're not sure who to turn to, to be perfectly honest. >> reporter: today, as family members mourn the latest victims, egyptian jets struck militant bases in eastern libya. and, el-sisi appealed to president trump to take the lead in fighting terrorism. for the pbs newshour, i'm margaret warner. >> sreenivasan: this evening at the g-7 summit in sicily, president trump condemned the attack in egypt. he blamed what he called "evil organizations of terror" with a "thuggish ideology." in the day's other news, an activist group reports u.s. coalition air strikes in eastern syria killed more than 100 people overnight. that word comes from the syrian observatory for human rights, based in britain. it says the strikes hit a town held by islamic state fighters. children and other relatives of the militants were among the victims. police in manchester, england have made two more arrests in the concert bombing that killed 22 people. they say they now have nine people in custody, including several they call "key players." investigators also raided new
locations today, and the police chief said that's likely to continue through the weekend. >> we have hundreds of officers that are working on this investigation from across the national counter terrorism policing network. and we have seized thousands of exhibits that are now being assessed. i think it's fair to say that there's been enormous progress with the investigation. there's still an awful lot of work to do. >> sreenivasan: also today, secretary of state rex tillerson said the u.s. government takes full responsibility for information in the case that leaked to news organizations. in sri lanka, monsoon rains triggered floods and mudslides today, killing 91 people. at least 110 others are missing. swollen rivers washed over roads and houses, and 2,000 people were forced to evacuate. more than 60,000 have been affected by the rain. back in this country, hillary clinton delivered a searing critique of president trump's policies, in a commencement address. she spoke at her alma mater, wellesley college in massachusetts.
without naming the president directly, she branded his budget "an attack of unimaginable cruelty against the most vulnerable." she also charged there's a "full-fledged assault on truth and reason." >> when people in power invent their own facts, and attack those who question them, it can mark the beginning of the end of a free society. >> sreenivasan: vice president pence also addressed a graduation ceremony at the naval academy in annapolis, maryland. he told the 1,000 graduates: "the era of budget cuts of the armed forces is over." >> we will not relent, until we rebuild our military, restore the arsenal of democracy, and ensure that our soldiers, sailors, airmen, marines, and coast guard have all the resources that you need to accomplish your mission and come home safe. >> sreenivasan: the president already signed into law a large increase in defense spending,
and he's calling for major new outlays in his budget. the president's son-in-law, jared kushner, says he'll cooperate with an f.b.i. investigation into ties between campaign aides and russia. that's according to a statement from his lawyer. news accounts say the focus is on kushner's meetings with russian officials in december. they say it does not mean he is suspected of a crime. republican greg gianforte is headed to congress from montana, despite being charged with assault. he beat democrat rob quist by six points in yesterday's special election, for the state's only u.s. house seat. in his victory speech, gianforte apologized for his altercation with a reporter the night before. >> i made a mistake. and i took an action that i can't take back. i'm not proud of what happened. i should not have responded in the way that i did, and for that i'm sorry. that's not the person that i am, and it's not the way i'll lead in this state. >> sreenivasan: president trump
cheered the election result today, telling reporters: "great win in montana." and, wall street went quietly into the memorial day weekend. the dow jones industrial average lost two points to close at 21,080 today. the nasdaq rose about five points, and the s&p 500 edged up a fraction. for the week, the dow and the s&p gained more than 1%. the nasdaq rose 2%. still to come on the newshour: an exclusive interview with aya hijazi, freed after spending three years in an egyptian prison. what president trump accomplished on his first trip abroad. mark shields and david brooks analyze a full week of news. and much more. >> sreenivasan: now, to judy's exclusive interview with aya hijazy, the egyptian-american aid worker released last month from prison in egypt, along with her husband, mohammed hassanien. the 30-year-old hijazy grew up in the washington area, and in
egypt. in 2013, she and mohammed founded the "belady foundation." the goal: to help impoverished street children in cairo. but they soon found themselves in prison, falsely accused of horrendous crimes, and the subjects of international efforts-- including by presidents trump and obama-- to gain their release. judy spoke with aya and mohammed earlier this week. >> woodruff: the calm, mundane routine of daily life is something new and special again for aya hijazy and her husband mohammed hassanien. the apartment they moved in to outside washington is still sparsely furnished but it's a place to call their own, and it's a world away from the egyptian jail cells and crowded courtroom cages they were kept in for three years. they had met in tahrir square in the heady days after egypt's 2011 revolution. >> initially, it seemed like the
political climate would allow for political change. >> woodruff: but by 2013, after the military deposed the muslim brotherhood government, the picture darkened. they looked to build a little light. >> so it seemed like the only venue to actually do change and give hope and not be -- not vilify or be vilified is to work on humanitarian causes that no other two people could differ on, like strata children. who would want a child to sleep in the streets? >> woodruff: the organization they founded to help those children would lead to heinous unfounded charges of child abuse and human trafficking. >> we still don't really know what happened. we know p picture but not why or how. the kids started to love us and tell everybody about our organization and everything was going on smoothly until one day supposedly a father came looking for his son, whom we have never seen, and the children have
never seen, and we went with him to file a police report because he was quite abusive with us and the children. instead of us filing a report, we found we are charged with human trafficking. >> woodruff: so there had been no indication before that of a problem? >> no. >> woodruff: and were you immediately taken into custody? >> yes, from that day on. >> woodruff: how did you deal with it? you were separated pretty immediately, is that right? >> yes. yes. and we couldn't contact anyone, but the word got through very, very quickly, and, so, lawyers came, but they weren't ours, they were just volunteers. so i just thought that immediately when i talk to a prosecutor or a judge, we'll be released within a day or a few days, and it went on for three years. >> woodruff: three years, shuttled from different prisons to court appearances. the newly-married couple seeing each other only fleetingly.
how much were you able to be in contact with each other during the time you were held? >> it was very hard to get letters across through our families. our families would visit us, exchange letters. other than that, we would wait for court sessions to meet. so it's like a total of 18 months we saw each other only three times and maybe only for a minute or less even. >> woodruff: tell me about your experience. >> i wasn't tortured in prison or beaten or even i did not receive abusive words. it was very hard for me that i was placed with regular crimes. i wasn't even classified in prison as a political prisoner and the charges were very heinous like raping children. so it was very hard just coping with that. >> prison itself is against human nature. the idea of prison is that it takes away from the person's humanity and the person's ideas. but if the person was able to keep his orler core ideas and
humanity, then the person has won. >> woodruff: aya taught herself french and spanish in prison and learned to draw. she showed me one pencil sketch that she said reflected what was her own experience. where are you in this drawing? >> i find myself in a lot of those. like, i find myself here, like, all right, i'm ready to go to prison just to prove my point. i find myself here looking at the window, seeing the streets and wishing that i could be part of it one day again. >> woodruff: is it true that most of the people in egypt don't know what's going on inside prison? >> yes, prisons are largely a closed place, and we suffered that. >> woodruff: while they endured, unbeknownst to them, aya hijazy and mohammed hassanien had many advocates on the outside in high places. >> i'd like to raise the case of
egyptian-american citizen aya hijazy. >> woodruff: were you aware president obama was trying to get you out? >> i was aware the administration did a lot. it was toward the end of our imprisonment and their administration. i have to give credit where credit is due, so i am thankful to them. >> woodruff: that happened. a new president comes into office, and how did you hear that he was working on this? what we saw was he said something to president el-sisi. how did you hear about this? >> in the prison we got to see some newspapers, and, so, trump was saying that they should not be discussing human rights issues publicly. it seemed like it's being discussed but behind closed doors. >> woodruff: and then how did you learn that something might happen? that you might be freed? >> so we knew that there was american interest, but up until
the last day, we had no idea how it will go until the day of the acquittal. >> woodruff: until the final day? >> yeah. >> woodruff: so how did you learn? >> it was actually in the cage where the judge committed us all -- acquitted us all, and it was unbelievable. like, we prayed for it so much, but we thought it's far reaching. like the best that could be done was a pardon and we were really hoping we wouldn't reach that. it was a surprise. >> woodruff: you literally had no preparation. the judge told you, you were acquitted. >> we didn't know he would say acquitted, in a sense. it was, like, the best moment of our lives, all of us. >> woodruff: that moment just six weeks ago came after president trump's meeting in washington with egypt's president abdel fattah el-sisi. mr. trump has been complimentary
of el-sisi following years of strained relations with the obama administration. >> i want to say to you mr. president you have a great friend and ally in the united states and me. >> woodruff: aya's view of mr. trump's praise of the egyptian leader are complicated. >> this is difficult for me because i don't share his view on mr. sisi. i could differ with mr. trump, and i would actually direct this to mr. sisi, if he listens. it wasn't just us who were unjustly imprisoned, and if mr. sisi had a role, i would tell you, mr. sisi, if you had a role, then that's good, but there are thousands and thousands of wrongly imprisoned people. >> woodruff: almost immediately upon her release, a u.s. government plane whisked aya and mohammed to the united states where aya soon sat with the president in the oval office, the same chair in which
president sisi had a few weeks earlier. >> we are happy to have aya back home and great honor to have her in the oval office. >> woodruff: house of your meeting with president trump? >> he was very hospitable. he made us feel very welcome and he admired our strength. i went for the children. i was glad. >> woodruff: what did he ask you? >> he asked about the time of my arrest. not sure, but seemed like he had this idea or conviction that it was at the time of the muslim brotherhood. >> woodruff: which was before president sisi. >> which was before sisi. he said was it at the time to have the brotherhood? i said, no. he said, oh, it was at the time of sisi. he was taken aback. >> woodruff: is there a contradiction between president trump working to get you released and, on the other hand, praising the government of egypt which was holding you in
prison? >> i think he's trying to be effective because he even said it to me, while we met, that, well, that he was effective, wasn't he? and i don't know how to say no. so there is the traditional way of just mere criticism, very sharp criticism, and there is the more diplomatic way, perhaps. >> woodruff: do you think that maybe in your conversation with him and in his learning about your experience that maybe you've adjusted his thinking about human rights or what do you think about that? >> i hope he gets to know that human rights situation is really horrible at that time. and people are not just -- it's not just for fighting terrorism because people are unjustly held and there are so many fabricated
cases that are illegitimately held. >> woodruff: are both of you optimistic things will get better in evipt? >> worry and optimism are different things. it's normal to be worried but it's not normal to live out hope, and we're also hopeful, and i'm worried. >> woodruff: what do you want for the people of egypt? >> we want what we call -- some may call american values. i would like to think of them as universals values. humanity, number one. a good governed state where people can express themselves, where they can assemble, where they can live in harmony and peace. democracy is not a bad word to describe that. >> woodruff: you believe that time is coming? >> we have to believe until the very last day we die. i mean, if we want to be parents -- we're not parents yet -- and we want to see something good to future generations, so either we say we've given you a better world
or we die trying. >> sreenivasan: president trump spent the last full day of his first, and lengthy, overseas trip in sicily today, at a meeting of the so-called g-7 countries. it ended a week that took him from saudi arabia, to israel and the west bank, to the vatican. and yesterday, to the brussels headquarters of the european union and nato. i spoke a short time ago with bloomberg news white house correspondent margaret talev in taormina, sicily, and asked her if president trump tried to convey central messages to world leaders. >> there sure were. i would say, in the middle east, it was the idea that president trump is uniquely qualified to restart the mideast peace process by shifting it from the palestinian dynamic to the broader idea of israeli and muslim and arab nations having a lot in common and desire to fight terrorism. that's one big message in.
europe, the message was different. it was sort of bringing president trump's campaign promises about, kind of resetting expectations for n.a.t.o. countries paying what he would call their fair share, rebalancing trade and how europe and the united states think about trade with one another, the idea of reciprocal trade agreements, if you make this tough for me, i'll make this tough for you. those were a lot of those messages in western europe. so i think what you saw pretty much follows. it was a very warm welcome in the middle east, and a much sort of more skeptical sometimes critical reception in -- at n.a.t.o. and the g7. >> sreenivasan: tell us about the reactions from world leaders, at least on the european side? >> yeah, the visit with the pope, of course, it was sort of how president trump kicked off his arrival in europe, and we know from the last year's campaign how many differences of
opinion the two men have, and both of their teams sort of made clear from the outset that this was an attempt for each to preserve a channel to talk with g e another but that they withsy he same page, everything, president trump's reaction, enjoyed, great honor, grinning ear to ear. pope francis' demeanor much more reserved and a lot of reading on the tea leaves and body languge. we'll see where that relationship goes. from there, the move to nate -- n.a.t.o. the western allies in n.a.t.o. sort of boxed him in to try to force his commitment -- for him to restate a commitment to n.a.t.o. by having him attend this unveiling of an article 5 memorial, and president trump was willing to be led to the water to appoint but to choose his wording carefully in terms of reaffirming his commitment to article 5 without saying, and
i'm in it forever no matter what, you know, whatever you need. that wasn't the message. the message was very much article 5, we appreciate it was invoked for the u.s. after 9/11, but for n.a.t.o. to work long-term there, needs to be a stepping up of financial contributions. that was -- the n.a.t.o. leaders have already agreed to that. there have been plans made three years ago. this was always on track to be stepped up. one to have the leaders bristled at the fact that president trump was trying to say this was all because of him and bad feelings there. as you move to the g7, the two big issues rolling into the final day of the summit that have emerged as fairly predictable stumbling blocks again are climate change and trade. angela merkel, the german leader telling folks, after day one session, that all of the other leaders of the g7 were unanimous in pressing the president of the united states to stay with paris and to get sort of with their
program. gary cohn the president's economic advisor preserving the space for trump to perhaps stay in the paris talks to show he's listening to european leaders but leaving a little room to do that at his own pace and under his own terms and saying i want to get this right and take my time, not meaning necessarily here. on trade, again, we're expecting months if not longer of kind of a shift in discussions about what the future of u.s. and european trade relations are going to look like. >> sreenivasan: and we also saw a very short communique out of the g7, usually a sign that there was very little they all agreed on to put on paper. >> yeah, that's right. i mean, you can say that that's a good thing. you can say that's a bad thing. you're not going to agree to more than you agree on and this does, again, preserve some diplomatic space for moving closer together in the future, but it also reflects what sort of visit this was. it was calibrated by the white house to show that -- to a
domestic audience as well as to europe that president trump is not going to abandon every position that he held from the campaign just because he is here in these meetings, but, at the same time, a recognition from his aides that the more he engages with key allies all over the world, the more nuance is brought to the table in terms of him understanding the leadership role that the u.s. is expected to fulfill and the complexities of those obligations. >> sreenivasan: margaret talev from bloomberg joining us from italy this afternoon. thank you so much. >> thanks, hari. >> sreenivasan: stay with us. coming up on the newshour: from the "newshour bookshelf," a humorous take on getting out of your bubble. a soldier's perspective on being a veteran of a war that never ends. and, what happened when one of mr. roger's "neighbors" met the tv icon during a difficult
season of life. but first, to the analysis of shields and brooks. that's syndicated columnist mark shields, and "new york times" columnist david brooks. all right, let's start this week on the foreign front. the president metponent at a times, prime ministers and a pope. there were magical orbs, tweet-sized messages stuck into a wailing wall, how did he do? >> b plus. no, i'm not going to grade him. i grade him on the curve. i would say that the visual high light was with the pope when he said, you know, the pope is a very humble man, much like me, we he tweeted earlier, and that's why i like him so much. but they're polar opposites, the two, one a champion of immigrants and refugees and almost disdainful of open lens and excessive wealth and the other sort of the embodiment of
it. quite frankly, the first part of the trip, he laid down the policy, and the policy is we will stand on the side of sunni autocrats in terms of terrorism, no questions asked. in addition, a huge weapons sale, and we're not going to ask how or where you use them and if people are killed in yemen and they're made in the u.s.a. is the weapon that kills them and it's done indiscriminately, that's their business and not ours because the operating and organizing principle of foreign policy is opposition to terrorism under donald trump. >> i thought melania had a good week. a lot of good moments for her. a lot of good judgments, actually. he, by the standards of some of the competence of the previous week, i would say you would have to say the trip by competence standards was a success. he did what he wanted in saudi arabia, n.a.t.o., other places. as mark suggested, i think the
chief oddity of the entire trip is we seem to be mean to our friend and kind to our foes. so saudi arabia, we're supposed to be against terrorism, and trump loves to talk about iran's influence on terrorism, but the main source of terror funding for both the ideas and sometimes the organizations is saudi arabia, it's not iran, and, so, but, somehow, we're super nice to saudi arabia. meanwhile, we're super mean to germany and france and some of our n.a.t.o. allies. so there's just been a perversion of american foreign policy which is sort of based on the idea that character doesn't matter, whether the leaders from russia or the philippines or saudi arabia, that people of bad character are people we can ally with and somehow i think there is a consistency between the government here and some of the governments the trump administration likes around the world. >> sreenivasan: a bit of that we saw in the conversation judy
had. >> that's exactly right. i would just say the n.a.t.o. part of the visit i found particularly disturbing because there was nothing about the principles and values, nothing about values in what we share and what animates us and what we respect and revere, whether it's individual rights or democracy. that just seemed to be unimportant and all the criticism that the president had was stored up, as david pointed out, for these folks somehow being wellfare cheats. >> and that's pure demagoguery. he spoke as if they owe us money because they haven't been paying their dues. that's not true. the problem is they sort of pledged to get to 2% of g.d.p. and defense spending. some countries have and some have not, and that's legitimate. but he portrayed it as we're bailing them out, they owe us money and they haven't paid
their bills which is untrue. >> sreenivasan: shifting gears to tbujt. what do you make to have the priorities that were set forth in this? it's a political document but it kind of lets you know what you think is important. >> that's right. i think it's fair to say it was mean spirited and dishonest were the two words that come quickest to mind, again, coming back to the visit with the pope who has sort of made himself the pope of the poor, and unlike a number of his predecessors who seem to enjoy the open lens of vatican city. donald trump at that very meeting, his budget which he is distanced from, he's not even a town as released is, i think fair to say, an orthodox republican document in the worst sense in that it is tax cuts for the most advantaged among us and saving the character of those americans who are struggling,
who depend upon school lunches, supplemental food, medicaid. there are more people in the united states on medicaid than medicare, and half the people on medicaid get work every day. we're talking about elderly poor. all of this is being cut, for what purpose? to provide an enormous tax cut for those who are best off. >> sreenivasan: david, doesn't some of this go right at the base of supporters that donald trump have, the poor working class that came to him? and seems, as mark is pointing out, that some of the programs being cut will affect them first. >> you look at the food stamps program. that has radically expanded over the last ten years. the question is has it expanded maybe for some of the reasons social security disability expanded just because it's become well fair through the backdoor? is it legitimate? if you look into the food stamp program, the reason it's expanded is a lot of people are
now near poor and because of economic changes, not because of some illegitimate of the welfare state. it's because of the underlying structure of society disadvantaged people and they need help. so as donald trump's own secretary of agriculture said, it's a successful program, yet getting savagely cut. i think that's -- and as you say, that goes right at the trump voters because the lower middle class voters in rural areas are getting a lot of those benefits. to me, the two most egregious things about the budget, as mark said, hurts the poor and helps the rich but also hurts the young and helps the old. whether food stamps and other programs, if you believe in human capital that we're investing in the future with these programs, that's good spending, even if you're conservative. to me, we should cut money going to affluent older people and give it to the young but donald trump does the reverse.
and the second thing is almost in-your-face dishonesty. some is assuming there will be 3% growth which is not going to happen given our demographics, but larry summers pointed out this made the most elementary budget calculating error of any administration in 40 years. they took the same revenue source and counted it twice in order to cover. everybody had the to catch that error, but they were going to do it anyway and didn't care what anybody said. >> sreenivasan: larry summers, former treasury secretary. what about the president saying, i made these promises, i said i wasn't going to touch aid to the elderly. >> said he wouldn't cut social security, medicaid or medicaid or medicare. he's cutting s.s.i., the supplemental social security for
people who are disabled and elderly, but he's not cutting social security payments to federally, he's not means testing it in any way, nor is he touching medicare. but medicaid, having promised not to, he is, in fact. cutting medicaid, they proposed to cut it in half, the spending, federal spending cut in half and food stamps will be cut by one-quart. i don't know how you justify this when in the same week, hari, the congressional budget office, selected chief economist but very respected non-partisan says 23 million people will lose the health coverage insurance they already have under the republican-passed plan. i will say unequivocally, tonight, three weeks after the house passed that healthcare bill, there is not a single member of the house who regrets
having voted against it. >it. >> sreenivasan: what about members of the gnat going forward? >> i have to surprising they went through the challenge of rewriting the thing and got the same c.b.o. numbers as the last time. i couldn't believe they got so many members of the house to vote for it because it's going to be a killer issue. in the senate, they're doing everything in secret now so we don't know exactly what's happening. they're talking with each other, but we do know they're divided almost down the middle on some of the medicaid cuts, other issues and pre-existing conditions. passage in the senate, you wouldn't want to bet on that. >> sreenivasan: and whatever gets through the senate, good chance it wouldn't passed -- >> yieght. in order to make it acceptable. the pledge to repeal obamacare was great as a political rally and cry, it's terrible policy and it won't pass. >> they could, if they could get -- they could have another way to give people health
insurance through health savings accounts and tax credits if they guaranteed the same level of coverage obama is going and i think that would be legitimate, maybe throw more competition in the system. that is not what they're doing. >> sreenivasan: in the last two minutes, a new member of the house of republicans in a special election in montana, greg gianforte beats his opponents but body slams a reporter on the way to getting there. what does this say about -- you know, and the thing i heard this morning on npr as one of the reporters were talking to some of his supporters said, you know what, that guy had it coming. i mean, the extent of hostility toward the press and how it's manifesting itself in different ways in the past couple of months. >> i don't think there is any question. i think it was legitimized, in part, by president trump's campaign which included this and sort of rhetorical excesses and singling out members of the
press. but the republican pollster, frank luntz, for the contract of america newt gingrich, says if you check the party affiliation of someone who commits assault before you decide how you feel about it you're what's wrong with america. that's what it's become. i think the seminal moment in contemporary american politics is when president obama was addressing healthcare and joe wilson stood up and said you lie and raised a million dollars in the next week in funds and i think that polarization was rewarded. >> i would say two things are true, the climate of ugliness is no doubt ratcheting up and giving permission to. this in this case, i want to give the guy a break. he apologized. he could have just lost his temper. we'll see what his career is like. if a leader is at least willing to apologize, that's frankly a step up than what we've seen on
the presidential level. >> sreenivasan: david brooks, mark shields, thank you both. >> thank you, hari. >> sreenivasan: now, a comic with a sharp edge and an astute take on modern life and politics. jeffrey brown has this latest addition to the "newshour bookshelf." view heard "black lives matter." >> yes. what do you think about that? >> brown: so owe political coldy, the work of w. kamau bell, host of cnn's united shades of america in which he does something unusual, seek out the america and americans we don't know or regularly interact with. >> come here. an you tell me a little bit? what you said is true, all lives should matter, but not right now. >> but they don't do. many people it does because all lives don't matter in the same way and all lives matter is an
aspirational goal. white people, learn from her! >> brown: bell expands on his own view of the world in a new book the awkward thoughts of w. kamau bell with the subtitle tales of a 6-4, heteroamerican, cisgender, map ma's boy, dad and standup comedian. welcome. that says it all. >> that's the whole book. >> brown: we don't have to read the back anymore. awkward thoughts, the title. what does that mean? >> it comes from the fact that i realize the best things that have happened to me in life have been friend of men sitting me down and having awkward talks with me, family members or reading things that challenge me, that's when i feel like i'm growing as a person when i'm in an awkward situation. a lot of times in society we're trained to run from awkward situations. things get awkward or you run and yell and start to control them but i get quieter and listen more.
>> brown: sociocomic, what's it mean? >> i think i found it somewhere. this idea of socio-political. i think political comedy in america conjures up a pretty specific image. i love political comedians but i think there is a big difference in what i'm doing. i'm talking -- i'm not talking much about politicians. i'm talking about social moves or people who are struggling or oppressed people, not so much about what's going on in d.c. >> brown: in the television show and some extent certainly in the book, this search for the other, right. >> mm-hmm. >> brown: one of the premises clearly is we're all in our own boxes and we need to get out of them. >> yes. the first part, when i was a kid, i moved around a lot because my mom moved around a lot. i think i was always being broken out of boxes. my dad lives in alabama. so i recently go to alabama.
if you're in the north or west and go to alabama, that's a different box. for me, the whole thing has been about searching for where i belong. as an adult, a comedian, you travel around the country doing standup shows and you go anywhere where they will hire you, so you're in placous never would think to go, like garden city kansas or appalachian state university. so for me it's been a natural thing. the tv show takes that experience and pushes it forward another step. >> brown: everything you said is your personal experiences of why you get out of boxes but then you are extrapolating to a larger -- this is what america needs. >> yeah, because i travel around and talk to people and everybody sort of loves their part of america, which is great, but then a lot of times we think, this is the most america, the part i live in. people in new york think that. >> brown: to the detriment of the culture? >> yes. if you watch the news and you're
in new york and they talk about alabama, they think, that's not my country or my people, so you con descend to what their experience is or you think you can judge that experience even though you've never been there. people in coal country, people who don't live in coal country go, why do they want to destroy the environment with coal? but if you talk to people in coal country, it's about jobs. we demonize them because we think they want to destroy the environment. >> brown: you talk to the alt right richard spencer but you do it in a good way. you're clear about your left leaning. >> i'm not pulling a trick. i'm googlable, people can find out everything about me. >> brown: you say it right on the cover of the book. >> i've written it on paper, it's forever. the idea is can we have a conversation and get to a different place. the thing i'm doing on tv is i
know it's for tv. so if i talk to you and get you relaxed and make you laugh and i laugh, you're going to say something you weren't expecting to say because you're more comfortable. richard spencer usually sits across people like me and they're pushing and challenging him and he's defensive and gets to the same place. by sitting down with me, he opened up and exposed him to a lot of people who never knew anything about him. >> brown: the election surprise add lieutenant of people and there was a talk about an america that felt left behind or out. so you're clear about where you're coming from in your politics, what do you think people of your political persuasion should be doing now? >> i just wrote an op-ed for the "new york times" that said people in berkeley should vacation in alabama. if you can get out of your immediate area and go someplace you didn't expect to go, you will learn more about people.
i talk to people who have never been to new york city. a lot of it is economic but some people think that's not for me. i think the best thing you can do is mix it up with other people. if you can't physically do it. get online and connect with people, not yelling at people on facebook and twitter but actually connect with people. >> brown: one last thing thinking about the comedy and socio-political. serious issues. there is there a line, someplace you think comedy can't go? >> comedy is pretty nonpartisan. comedy goes wherever i want to go. whether or not something is a joke is the ability of the person who writes it to communicate the punchline. comedy is more like math than you realize. there are comedians who are republicans, democrats. comedy is just there to make people laugh. >> brown: the awkward thoughts of w. kamau bell. thank you very much. >> thank you very much.
>> sreenivasan: tonight, reflections from author brian castner, who offers his humble opinion on why he felt most at home overseas, fighting what he calls, "the forever war." >> it's a little odd to be a veteran of a war that doesn't end. i did three tours, got home from iraq a decade ago. you think you've moved on, put the war in its place. and then you see tomahawk cruise missile strikes on cable news, and you're reminded that your war isn't over, it's just gone on without you. some of us call it the "forever war." the invasions of afghanistan and iraq, bombing libya and yemen, raids all over africa. and now, army rangers and marine corps artillery and those tomahawks in syria. it's already the longest war in american history, and i've given up thinking peace is coming any time soon. our nation has an all-volunteer military, and people join for lots of reasons: education, sense of adventure, patriotism.
but staying in the military, racking up five, six, seven tours, that's a different kind of decision. there are plenty of ways to pay for college that don't involve getting shot at over and over again. so why did i do it? why do they choose to keep serving in the forever war? i was an explosive ordnance disposal technician-- e.o.d., we call it, the bomb squad. after my last iraq tour, i was worn out, mentally and physically. but my e.o.d. brothers and sisters were dying, and i needed to stay to protect them. such a feeling provides intense meaning, but also, in the forever war, limitless obligation. our little tribe has lost more than its share, disarming those infamous roadside bombs, and i found it harder to stop going back than to go the first time. because, at its core, e.o.d. work is about lifesaving, not killing. how do you say "i'm too tired. i can't help anyone else."? it's a devil's bargain, choosing
between one's tribe and family. on the one hand, i needed to be in iraq, to keep my comrades alive. and on the other, every moment i was gone, i wasn't a good husband or dad. sometimes i ask myself, how many tours would have been enough? to know, deep in my bones, that i had done my part? this isn't survivor's guilt, or nostalgia for the adrenaline, which is shallow and fades with youth. it's a haunting sense that i let my comrades down, by giving up before the job was done. this business, it always feels unfinished. for years, i maintained this fantasy, that i'd get a phone call from my old unit. "we need you back," they'd say. i kept all my gear packed in a trunk in the basement, just in case. i don't want to go back to iraq. but i also don't want my brothers and sisters to go back without me. the end of the forever war can't
come soon enough. >> sreenivasan: now to our "newshour shares:" something that caught our eye, that may be of interest to you, too. in the aftermath of the terror attack in manchester, england, writer anthony breznican took to twitter to recount how one person inspired him in his own difficult time. that man was fred rogers, of "mr. rogers' neighborhood." breznican recently spoke with us via skype about the lessons he learned that day. ♪ it's a beautiful day in the neighborhood ♪ a beautiful day for the neighbor ♪ won't you be mine? >> my grandfather had died not so long ago, and he was sort of this one steady constant in my life, a really positive influence. and when you don't have a lot of those to being with, to lose one is really devastating. so i was going through a hard time. one afternoon, or morning, i was
leaving the dorm, and i heard a familiar song coming down the hallway: ♪ won't you be my neighbor and i kind of stuck my head into the commons room, and there on the tv was "mr. rogers." one of his favorite things was to talk about, what do you do with the mad that you feel? ♪ ♪ you know, a way of helping kids deal with their anger, acknowledging it instead of telling them that they shouldn't feel it. it was like, this speaks to me. i'm very angry and i'm very scared. even as a young adult, this-- it didn't feel like a kids program. it felt very profound. within about two weeks or so, i was at the school paper and got into the elevator to go down to the lobby, and standing there was mr. rogers himself. i turned around and said, like, "look, i just want to tell you how much you mean to me." and he said-- he didn't say, "thank you" or "i appreciate that" or anything.
he was just like, "oh, did you grow up as one of my television neighbors?" and just the way he said it was so sweet. and i was like, "yes, yeah, i was your neighbor." and he opens his arms and he says, "it's great to see you again, neighbor," and he just gives me this big hug. and it made, you know, it felt so wonderful just to meet him, but also to literally be embraced by mr. rogers, this kind man. ♪ i'll be back when the day was new ♪ and he sat down and he said, "would you like to tell me what it was that was upsetting you?" and just the say he said that, too, was so indicative of mr. rogers. he didn't say "oh, what was bothering you?" he said "would you like to tell me?" and i did, and it helped so much just to have someone to talk to. it wasn't just a persona that he put on for this program. the program grafted itself onto his personality. his real soul, his real heart. it was the night of the manchester bombing, and i think the whole world was wondering just how someone could do something like this.
and that quote that he gave, repeatedly, in interviews, of his mother telling him "if you see something awful, look for the helpers. find hope among the helpers, the people who are rushing in to save those who are hurting." and i saw that meme, that photograph with that text shared again and again by different people online. and that just got me thinking of this memory of how mr. rogers was kind in real life. i don't think anybody could ever fill mr. rogers' shoes. we can try. but he was one of a kind. and once in a lifetime means once in a lifetime. >> sreenivasan: on the newshour online right now: it's almost memorial day, meaning it's almost summer. a time to catch up on missed readings, turn back to old favorites, and discover new ones. we get recommendations for great summer reads from two bookstores that are owned by novelists. all that and more is on our website, www.pbs.org/newshour. and, robert costa and his team are preparing for "washington week." robert, what's on tap for
tonight? >> president trump's foreign trip did little to distance him or his family from the f.b.i.'s russia probe. we'll have the latest on why investigators are eager to interview son-in-law jared kushner. plus, how the president's "america first" agenda played out on the world stage. tonight on "washington week," hari. >> sreenivasan: tomorrow, on "pbs newshour weekend," in the wake of the deadly manchester bombing, i sit down with an expert on the politics of islam to discuss what motivates terrorists to commit such horrific acts. >> people were imbued with this islamist radical ideology, and then, you know, you take a knife, you take a gun, you take your car and then you kill as many infidels as possible. and then they will retaliate. they will say, desecrate a mosque, or something. and this will create a sort of system of provocation and repression which will lead up to the breakup of society. >> sreenivasan: so the goal is to break society up from the inside, to create civil strife--
>> exactly. >> sreenivasan: that's tomorrow night on "pbs newshour weekend." and we'll be back, right here, on monday. i'll have a report on efforts to reform the organ transplant trade in china, a system that has been shrouded in secrecy. that's the newshour for tonight. i'm hari sreenivasan. have a great weekend. thank you and good night. >> major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by: >> bnsf railway. >> supporting social entrepreneurs and their solutions to the world's most pressing problems-- skollfoundation.org. >> the william and flora hewlett foundation, helping people build immeasurably better lives. >> and with the ongoing support of these institutions
and friends of the newshour. >> this program was made possible by the corporation for public broadcasting. and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. captioning sponsored by newshour productions, llc captioned by media access group at wgbh access.wgbh.org >> you're watching pbs.
. >> rose: welcome to the program. we begin tonight with our continuing coverage of president trump's overseas tour and his address to nato. we talk to ivo daalder, former ambassador to nato and john micklethwait of bloomberg. >> the kind of grownups, a, they have pulled off by relatively, certainly the middle east, relative success against the picture of kind of carnage on the domestic policy side. yet they are doing all this, and ivo would understand it much better than us. they are doing it with virtually no staff at all. >> rose: we begun with ian bremmer, president of your asia group. >> the they came to riyadh to see the american president, they made him feel presidential, like he was on the right side. israel, netanyahu had to corral