tv Charlie Rose PBS October 11, 2017 4:00pm-5:01pm PDT
>> rose: we begin with troubling days for president trump in the white house and talk to robert costa of "the washington post." >> it's not the beginning of something, it's the continuation of the unraveling of the trump presidency in this sense, he's an outsider, he's always been an outsider, but people around him whether majority leader mitch mcconnell, house speaker ryan, general kelly, his current chief of staff, who believed they could build a project around the president, get him to enact some of the g.o.p. priorities, but they keep learning again and again, based on my reporting, that the president chafes at this kind of system. he wants to govern by his instinct, he does not want to be pushed in a certain direction. >> rose: and we continue with accusations against film executive harvey weinstein. >> what we're seeing frankly is women have decided and pushed
back definitively that they will not have to deal with this kind of toxic testosterone anymore. >> rose: and susan lacy who created the "american masters" whose new tournament is called "spielberg." >> the icon in business he is, the most powerful man in who would, i don't feel he's always been given complete and total respect due i think he deserves as a director, as an artist. >> rose: and we conclude with david litt, his new book is called "thanks, obama, my hopi changey white house years." >> that's the thing about writing for president obama, he would always open for the professional comedian and the professional comedian would say, really? this isn't fair. this guy has a comedic sense of timing and also is the president. >> rose: robert costa, tina brown, susan lacy and david litt, when we continue.
>> rose: funding for "charlie rose" has been provided by the following: >> and by bloomberg, a provider of multimedia news and information services worldwide. captioning sponsored by rose communications from our studios in new york city, this is charlie rose. >> rose: we begin this evening with politics, president trump's legislative agenda and foreign policy facing increasing head winds in the wake of ongoing discord with the secretary of state and a top senate republican, bob corker has questioned the president's fitness for office. corker warned the president could launch the nation on the path to world war iii.
joining me robert costa, national political reporter for "the washington post" and moderator of washington week on pbs and talks about the growing frustration in "the washington post." thank you for joining us. >> good to be with you, charlie. >> rose: is this the beginning of something? >> no, it's the continuation to have the unraveling of the presidency of trump. he's always been an outsider, but people around him, mcconnell, ryan, kelly, believed they could build a project around the president, try to get him to enact key g.o.p. priorities but they keep learning again and again that the president chafes at this kind of system. he wants to govern by his instinct. he does not want to be pushed in a certain direction. >> rose: so it's just a continuation. but can it continue?
are you suggesting that most people while amazed by this at the same time don't see it going toward some logical conclusion? it is simply a continuation for what we'll see for the rest of the first term if it is only one term of donald trump? >> the republicans are agast, when i talk to senators and congressmen on the g.o.p. side, they think the entire presidency is on the brink. inside the white house, there is a different perspective especially when you talk to the president's friends. they say he looks at republican party right now as a failed business, as a business that has not been able to give him wins and wins are what he wants. he does not necessarily want an ideological victory. and because of this, because of this reality, because of this observation of the party, he is ready to move away from it, to battle the republican establishment now and in 2018 ahead of the mid-term elections. this has deep consequences in washington because there's such
an expectation still that he could get tax cuts and other things through but there is now genuine concern among top republicans that the president is ready to walk away from them and their agenda. >> rose: but if he does that, he'll have no legislative agenda to take to 2018 or 2020. >> and you see the majority leader in public comments saying to the president, in effect, remember you have to get the budget done, remember, we have to get taxes done. but where is the president's attention? when you ask his closest advisors, they say he's focused on the best area for him to fight, the battleground he relishes, which is culture, fighting on grievance politics, fighting against the national football league, defending his own reputation when it comes to handling natural disasters. he's not moving forward and rallying on tax cuts across the country, it's about president trump day in and day out fighting for president trump. >> rose: let's take the corker
situation. corker suggests, for the chairman of the senate foreign relations committee to suggest that his behavior may be creating a path to world war iii, that is -- i can't imagine that, in all the years that i've looked at washington. >> and it wants more jarring, charlie, because i can remember a year ago i was speaking with chairman corker and he was talking to me on the record about how much he had built a rapport with then candidate trump and even interested in serving as the vice presidential nominee. he eventually backed away from that process, but he did grow close to trump because he thought of trump as someone who thought about foreign popsy. corker liked trump wasn't the traditional republican hawk in the george w. bush mold, but ever since then even corker who tried to build a friendship with and played golf and had a relationship with the president, that he as one of these kind of
republicans walked away from the president because they did not see in the president the kind of behavior and character they want in a national leader. >> rose: steve bannon is on a campaign to challenge establishment republicans in primaries. will the president support that effort? >> steve bannon at breitbart news is almost a satellite to this white house. he's not being directed by president trump. some people in the white house are wary of bannon, they think he's too high profile and too powerful within the republican base, but bannon believes he's working in trump's interest, that mitch mcconnell and speaker ryan are not effective for the president and that it's time for a clean sweep to run against every republican incumbent in the country, in particular in the senate, sweep them out and have more trump-style candidates come in. and that doesn't necessarily mean they're going to be a populist or nationalist, it's more about the outsider per sewna. that's what bannon wants in congress. >> rose: what impact is john
kelly having? >> that is one of the more difficult reporting targets, charlie, and i dig into it reverie day, and what i keep finding is general kelly has closed the door to have the oval office, he has a tight grip of the paper flow that goes in front of the president, but he cannot control the president late at night when he's in his residence making calls to tom baric in california, a wide circle of friends that general kelly doesn't control because people will call the president on his cell phone and he finds a way to get back to them whether sean hannity of fox news or tom baric, these are people that general kelly can't stop getting the president's ear. >> rose: you say closing the door to the office is eliminating something donald trump cherished, a free flow of people coming in and talking to him who he enjoyed having a conversation with, enjoyed
talking about the country and general kelly cut that off and it frustrated the president. >> it does frustrate the president, talking to people who work closely with him. i'm so glad i covered him during the campaign because when i used to interview him on the 26t 26th floor of trump tower, it was a flow of people all the time, people coming in with cans of cokes, snacks, throwing magazines on the desk in the middle of a trump interview, that's how he ran the organization, governed his family, thought about his entire political life, a running conversation, anyone can jump in. the last person he would talk to he would listen to intently. that's not how general kelly wants to run the white house and the president is clashing with that guidance. >> rose: you also suggest people are not running to take his side in the conflict with bob corker nor are they taking bob corker's side as well. but there is a sense bob corker
says of a general sentiment of republicans in the senate sharing the views he has worrying about the president's fitness for office. >> there are private concerns i've heard from many lawmakers in the republican party about the president's conduct. they think he's out of control with his use of twitter, out of control with these brash public battles he has. at the same time, charlie, the sound of silence is revealing because still many to have the top republicans in the country stay relatively quiet on the questions of fitness for office because they still want to work with president trump on foreign policy, tax cuts, getting through different regulatory changes. they believe they're part of a party, he's the president of the party and king of their base, and if they want to run for reelection, they don't want to alarm those trump voters. they're trying to nav vat the environment, getting pressure from many allies to speak out in the corker way, but they still think he's the leader of the party, they don't want a total
mutiny at this moment. >> rose: where does the russia investigation stand? what's happening with respect to bob mueller and his group? >> it's the cloud that hovers over everything and the issue in a strange way that republicans believe is reassuring because they think mueller with his integrity and reputation, should he find anything on collusion or involvement with the trump campaign that that will speak for itself and they don't need to be out front as republican leaders trying to legislate or dictate how that whole issue unfolds. they want to see what mueller has to say, hopefully sooner rather than later, but they think he's looking at possible obstruction. they think paul manafort whose home was raided in northern virginia could be in trouble. there's a grand juror investigation into his involvement, a grand juror investigation into general
flynn. so all these swirl. the biggest asterisk in politics, everyone thinks about it every day especially inside the white house but nobody knows. >> rose: does anyone know what the president intends for north korea. >> the president has been toll having a military option is certainly on the table and he likes to wave that idea around in private conversations sometimes on twitter. at the same time, both sides know that a military altercation would be disastrous in terms of the human life that would be lost. military leaders are trying to avoid that kind of confrontation but the president has a militaristic approach though not necessarily an interventionist, he's militaristic and his advisors are trying to calm down the rhetoric but that's not as easy as we can see. >> rose: do the people who know him best worry about him? >> his family knows him best. i think at times they are concerned that he's pulled in so many different directions. this is someone who's never in
public life as an elected official, now suddenly president of the united states. there has been alarm at certain times that he's doing too much, that his relentless personality is spilling over day after day as his frustrations mount as well. some of the people who really care for him have told me they love when he plays golf because they at least believe he's calming down from all the pressures on him. he gets criticized from playing golf often but his closest friends say it's probably the best thing that he's take upsome time away from the oval office. >> rose: bob costa, thank you so much, pleasure. >> thank you. >> rose: robert costa from "the washington post." back in a moment. stay with us. >> rose: the harvey weinstein story continues to bring forth more accusations against the film executive and investigation by the "new york times" published last week reveal allegations that weinstein had been paying off sexual harassment accusers for decades.
joining me is tina brown, president an c.e.o. of tina brown live media and founder of women in the world. she worked with harvey weinstein and miramax in the late 1990s and early 2000s for a magazine she created called "talk." what surprises you if anything about this story that is now on every front page? >> well, it's so difficult when you talk about harvey is he was so utterly different when you got into business with him than he was when you met him out and about or dinners and a screening. when i went to work with him after the "new yorker," i thought i was getting this big maestro who would be a wonderfully, warm, outgoing exhibitionist, steve, but at the same time a creative force who would enable my desire to make a magazine more than a magazine. he promised you're just doing the "new yorker" here. you can have a magazine which can also be a movie story,
books, tv, a whole media platform. that was very attractive to me because that's what i wanted to do at the "new yorker" and could not do at cy, that's why i left. but roomwithin days of going to work with harvey, i realized that entire part of his personality was unbelievably from the truth. harvey is a very paranoid, fearful individual who feels all the time the world is scheming against him, who is constantly spinning and lives in this spin factory -- no other word for it -- when he has p.r.s and lawyers all spinning stories about harvey which he was great about but at the same time it became per natious clearly what they were spinning is what was going on with all these women, and we heard the rumors but you never saw it. things like this happen, it's like this, but you never saw it. what i found unsettling is how many journalists were on his
payroll. harvey would have everyone on his payroll. all the people at the post-and people in the tabloids, people writing stuff, entertainment writers, gossip writers. if there was any stirring of a negative story, harvey would offer them a book contract, a development deal, a consultancy and they used to succumb. journalists are often short of money and they were also very star struck with the world harvey offered which was movies and hollywood. every writer doing a small column somewhere dreamed he will be picked up and his work turned into a big movie and his or her life changed. harvey managed to hold out the protect that he had the ability to take somebody and make them into something more. so he had people around them getting their stories killed north writing the stories. many journalists did try to do this story but it got killed by the higher-ups, the editor, the
owner, the entertainment editor, whoever was a friend of the editor of the paper, they'd always kill the stories and he could always get it killed. what has happened now, of course, is that's over. we're in a new era, and there isn't anything anymore that you can do. we live in the world of total transparency. there is no place anymore for that kind of subterfuge. it's going to come out. it's only a matter of time. you know, i used to think this was going to happen. i always used to think, you know, harvey could be the next bill cosby because there was so much there that people could get at and hadn't done. so i also feel so badly, frankly, for his wife and children because it's a very terrible thing to see the kind of massive epic fall that we have seen with harvey in the last week, and i always felt with him that some of the volcanic rage that i once saw with harvey and i did experience that for sure was his sense of dissonance with who he was. this was a man of incredible
taste who had an enormous flare for the movies. to sit in a screening room with harvey was to really see a maestro. he understood how to make a film better, in every way, and it was interesting to see, you know, he was as good as that as any editor can be at a magazine. but at the same time, dissonant with that was this personal behavior that was so utterly unacceptable in every way that was so gross that i almost wonder whether that was the source of his own anger that he knew he was a man of taste buried inside a personality that was so, you know -- >> rose: why didn't this come out sooner? >> he was very intimidating. let's make no mistake about it. >> rose: there is an audiotape out now. >> harvey could be very indim at a timing. >> physically. yes, he's a big, imposing man and he could become very snarly, intimidating and scary. he got into my head very quickly in terms of my feeling you have to jump, and if you didn't jump,
you know, you could see that kind of sense that everything revolved around him, and if you displeased him, it was a scary sight, and that intimidates. let's face it, you know, actresses, you know, it's so hard to get a good role, it's so hard to get a good part. here was harvey off doing wonderful work, much of it, i mean, the movies he could, as he often said, propel a woman the an oscar, and you know, there was always that hope. something so humiliating, though, about believing that you're going for bays meeting and finding actually it was a ruse. it's very deeply humiliating. even if what he did wasn't as aggressive as it sometimes was, there's something deeply shaming about realizing you have been snookered, that you thought you were going to a meeting about a script or you thought you were going to a meeting about a new part and actually what you were going for was so that he could, you know, make an advance on you, very humiliating and i think there was, you know, one of the things that women find
when they're abused quite frankly is they feel shame. it's illogical, that the abused should be the one to be shouting from the rooftops but that's not what happens. there's no good thing women feel ever in revealing that this happened to you. you know, you're the one who's demonized. look what happened to the italian actress who did come forward and did report what happened between her and harvey and there was the nypd came into it and the sex crimes came in to investigate it but he managed to spin that away and once you started to read all this bad stuff about this access. this actress was being characterized as a serial accuser, a girl on the make and all this demonization begins. powerful people can make a woman, you know, can trash a woman's reputation. look at the made who
strauss-kahn assaulted in the hotel. ultimately strauss-kahn didn't serve time as he should have, in my judgment, he did rape her. and this poor made cleaning a room and was assaulted suddenly found herself on in th the "new york post" saying she had h.i.v. women think, i'll never work again, and there's all this attention -- >> rose: first of all, what happens to him? >> well, you know, i cannot imagine how terrible this must be for him. i mean, sometimes i wonder, you know, i thought recently, i wonder if in a way this is some kind of a relief. all the spinning, cover up, pretending, it's out there, nothing worse now can be done. you know, it's been an absolutely unbelievably epic fall. >> rose: coming on top of what happened to roger ailes, bill
o'reilly, what does it change? >> i think what we're seeing, frankly, is women have just decided and pushed back definitively that they will not have to deal with this kind of toxic tees test roan any-- testosterone anymore. you feel almost a surrogate rage for trump being in the white house. a serial harasser is sitting in the oval office. the tape was boasting about assaulting women but he was elected as president and it seems like that women's march mar offs on in a different guise. it's almost as if women are saying that happened but we're not going to let it happen in other parts of our lives. i think what's good out of all this mess and horror that we're hearing is that powerful women are standing up and saying this happened, women of means and profile are standing up and saying this happened, which gives women who are not powerful
and don't have means a sense that they're not alone, you know, because whom don't have means, you know, you're working as a waitress and constantly being groped by the manager of the restaurant, you can't turn your back and say, i'm not making this movie. you're stuck. you're trying to make your children's lives better. so there are many women trapped in terrible situations in their employment and they feel afraid to speak up and they feel afraid to leave. and i have to say that gretchen carlson was the giant killer -- >> rose: she sued roger ailes. she sued roger ailes. she did it because she was an affluent woman, had a husband who was affluent, was a lawyer, she carefully documented it. if you speak to her, she'll give you the bible on this. she says don't ever go to h.r., h.r. reports to the boss. take notes, chronicle it, document it and have a case, a proper case. >> rose: tell somebody. and then you can go and tell
a lawyer, if you can afford it, which is the catch-22 because most women, many women can't afford to do that. so i think it's an incredibly healthy thing that this is happening now. now, clearly, you know, i mean, some may say, well, you know, there are all these things happening, how can this be good? it is good because it's really saying the culture has changed, it is no longer acceptable to do these things and, if you cross that line, you will be called out. and i personally think that's incredible and i think huge kudos, really, to ashley judd, you know, rose mcgowen, the two who actually spoke first at the "new york times" which i thought was really brave because it's always very, very brave to be early, and i'm glad now these other people like gwyneth paltrow and rose ann arquette and i've talked to the "new yorker" ronan farrow, because
it's a good thing because it makes people worried it will come out, and it will. >> rose: tina brown. back in a moment. stay with us. >> rose: stephen speilberg is one of the most successful and acclaimed directors working in hollywood. his films grossed a combine total of $9.3 billion. a new documentary film from susan lacy examines his remarkable life and career. the hbo documentary "spielberg" will debut october 7, 8:00 p.m. on hbo. the los angeles times calls the documentary an intimate and thoughtful examination of the life and career of one of the most successful and influential filmmakers. here's a look at the trailer. >> every time i start a new scene i'm nervous, and when that verges on panic, i get great ideas. ♪ ♪ >> i try very hard to get into u.s.a. film school and i didn't have the grade to get in, and i
realized this is going to be what i was going to do or die trying. when i got into the movie brats, i felt like an insider. >> this is stephen, get the camera arranged, great. >> there was word this was going to be a folly and disaster. >> done, done, done, done. the night it happened, we went down the lines and said, this is it. >> there were people who hated it, people who blamed him for ruining the movie. my films come from a part of myself that i can't articulate. >> he changed my approach to cinema. >> he's like someone who's skin had been torn off. >> he has a dynamic sense of film making. >> you think of a kid sneaking into his studio an manifesting his destiny. it's a pretty fantastic hollywood story. >> susan lacy is the creator of the pbs documentary series american masters. that program received 27 emmys and ten peabody awards. i am pleased to have her at this
table the first time, welcome. welcome back to pbs. >> thank you, happy to be here. >> rose: you had this wonderful, perfect thing called american masters, you won all those awards, sitting pretty and richard comes along and steals you. is that what happened? >> kind of. you know, i had been thinking that i had begun to direct as executive producer and creator of the series and along the way almost 30 years i had directed some films and i loved it. i had been thinking wanted to focus more on directing and it was sort of an interesting sort of perfect storm of richard giving me a call, he loved some of my films that i directed, and he actually asked me if i would consider, you know, doing some films for hbo. i said i have my own series. why would i do that? he said, aren't you tired of raising money? and that clicked.
something went, you know, i am sort of tired of that, and i would like to focus on directing. i would like to not spend so much time doing that so it kind of came together. >> rose: tell me how you set out to make this film and what is it you want us to understand about stephen speilberg? >> well i think as idolized as he is and such an icon in the film business he is and represents, the most powerful man in hollywood, i don't feel he's always been given complete and total respect due as a director that i think he deserves as a director. as an artist. i think most people, when they think about stephen -- i don't know about most people, but a lot of people -- they think of the spectacle. they think of the epic, they think to have the blockbuster, the franchise and schindlers list. i realize e.t. and close encounters, but there is a huge body of work that is actually a
bit of stephen in all those films, that his autobiography so to speak in a very general sense can be seen through the work, an that's the film i wanted to make, looking at the films as a reflection of stephen's values, stephen's traumas, stephen's hopes, stephen's insecurities, the traumas of his childhood, of his parents divorcing when he was a child, of the effect of being in a sense an outsider growing up in a gentile community, the only jewish family, experiencing antisemitism. there's an outsider element to stephen so when he says the first time he got together in the movie brat group, is the first time he felt like an insider. the effect of the divorce which he blamed his father for and found out later it was not his father which created, you know, sort of running through many of his films is the image of the
absent father, the separation and coming together of families is so conservative in his films, i really wanted to explore that. but also as stephen grew, remember he started off as a kid in phoenix watching television and reading comic books. they didn't have art house movie theaters. his range of experience was limited. he was a genius from the moment he picked up the camera. he understood instinctively what to do with that, but his frame of reference was smaller than other filmmakers and that was reflected in his early famous which are master pieces, but rooted in suburbia, in his own family story to some degree, influenced by experiences he had with his father close encounters. he actually an early version of close encounters when he was 16 years old called fire light. as he grew and his frame of
reference expanded, as he read history, as he, you know, had children, the things he wanted to make movies about changed, and he became, i think, a -- really kind of an exploration of american character and incredibly important events in american history. race running through quite a bit of it, fascination with the constitution and rule of law which you see in many of his movies and i think he became a very courageous filmmaker. >> rose: he began in television? >> yes, i think he was 19 or 20 years old when he made a small film and it was seen by shineberg who ran universal television who called him and said i want to sign you to caisson-year contract. >> rose: it was 17? 19 or 20, and he left college. he had been turned down by film
schools but mostly wanted to go to u.s.c. he was turned down. he said universal became his film school hand did everything. he did the pilot episode for columbo which surprised me, marcus welby, all those things. he directed joan crawford in a night gallery when he was a kid. he was, like, 20 years old. he won her over. she was at first not so keen about it. >> rose: and a tough lady. a very tough lady. >> rose: many people talked about his brilliance and genius, and obviously he has the skill and he knows how to mix all the things that make a good movie. but what is his genius? what separates a speilberg film from other films of good directors? >> well, for one thing i think he understands the language of film about as well as anybody i've ever talked to about it.
and he understands the emotional impact film has on the audience. he connects to the audience incredibly, instinctively, and that served him well. i mean, he made the movies he wanted to see and those are the movies the audience wanted to see. he understood that. >> rose: i don't know why he says this but he's always had a child's curiosity. >> absolutely and he still does. >> rose: that's part of what his genius is. there's a freshness and innocence of his questions. >> yeah. >> rose: of his amazement of the world around him. >> i don't think that's changed. i think he's making different kinds of films because i think as he grew, and i say that scene in the film, i don't think this has ever left him, charlie. i think he will always be someone who's mazed that the world has a tremendous curiosity. his curiosity is endless.
he will be working on something. somebody will have some idea, read something and say i want to do that and next thing you know that's the film he's making. he is open to anything and i think he really likes changing it up, making different kinds of films, working in different genres. i don't think he wants to be stuck in any one place. >> rose: does he have professional insecurities? >> film starts with him saying before he starts every movie he's terrified, he has no idea what he's going to do, which is a little disingenuous because he's the most prepared directors in the world. he actually says, let me tell you why it's a good thing, susan, i love when he does that, he said, it's a good thing, because, if you're a little scared, you're not going to be complacent. it's going to push you to get out of that corner, how do you solve that problem. >> rose: a deeper creativity. yeah. >> rose: take a look, this is from my show here because i have been fascinated by stephen
speilberg and have never had him at this table which is a loss for me. here is quintin tarantino in 1997 explaining why speilberg is one of his favorite directors. roll tape. >> he's just -- he's just such a -- a perfect filmmaker as far as like you know, when he comes up, like, the taking of shanghai sequence, for instance, in empire of the sun, and i talked to him about private ryan and he said we're going to create the greatest taking of omaha beach ever, and i have no doubt he will. he's a master filmmaker. >> rose: this is a film he's making. >> this is one cam coming out. he'll make the greatest taking of omaha beach ever captured in cinema. that kind of filmmaking language, i've got it, too, but in a different way. but i can learn something from him. >> rose: another very good filmmaker. >> a wonderful filmmaker. >> rose: you mentioned he
appraiser like craze -- you mentioned he prepares like crazy. how does he prayer? >> he has an amazing gift to see the film in his head before he shoots it. everybody's fascinated with that and everybody's amazed by it whether tom hanks or dicaprio or matt damon or martin scorsese or brian depalma, he has an incredible visual sense, he can see the movie as he's shooting it. he knows what he's going for. it doesn't mean he can't turn on a dime if there's a better idea or something happens. there's a wonderful story by tom hanks in shooting a specific scene in creating private ryan which he really thought out and was looking forward to it, and, you know, when it got set up, everything -- the weather didn't cooperate, the sun was in the wrong place, somebody had not, as tom hanks said, given the
right coordinates for that day. at first he was pretty angry about it, and then he goes for a walk and he comes back and he says, okay, i know how to do it. so instead of, you know, i don't want to describe the whole scene, but he was able to come up with a solution on the spot that was every bit as good. and he has a vision, and he has courage in the way he makes his films. you know, the fact that they're all so successful doesn't necessarily mean that everybody knew they were going to be successful. >> rose: was jaws a surprise to him and it was so successful? >> i think it was a surprise to everybody. he was the first person to shoot a motion picture on the ocean. nobody had ever done it before, for good reasons. he was young and naive enough to know. you felt you were on the ocean and scared for these people. the fact that a loft things didn't work turned out to be a
blessing in that film because, as he said, the script has a lot of shark in it, the movie has very little shark, and you're much more scared by what you don't see than what you do see. every single day on that film he thought he would get fired. >> rose: how long was it before he won an oscar? >> he made a lot of films -- he won his first oscar with schindler's list and i don't remember the exact date but he made many films before that. >> rose: that had done very well at the box office. >> yes, he had three or four of the top selling movies in history but only won an oscar with schindler's list. schindlers list was a big moment for him in a lot of ways. brought him back to judaism. >> rose: brought him back? he didn't want to be jewish. he was very honest about this in the film. he wanted to fit in and it i had him a pariah, as he said, so he absented himself for a long time and denied being jewish.
>> i'm wondering, is the synagogue a good background or is the park a good background? >> stephen said, i feel like i'm directing my first movie, i'm not story boarding anything and i think that the gave him an adrenaline that we all felt the fire and alertness. i've never felt the same level of energy and focus. he seems to breathe cinema. i wouldn't say he's an intellectual director. i think he feels things intuitively and emotionally. >> he was kind of like an abstract painter who has his canvas and has a palette of extraordinary colors but just doesn't know what color to put on that screen first. but once he is committed to that color, he was just firing on all cylinders and there was literally times he was running, physically running with that camera, because a lot of the stuff he shot himself, handhold camera, he would be running up and saying, come on, come with
me, quick, as the idea was forming in his head and running after him, what, what, he would be inspired. >> rose: he also then went and built the studio, dream works. >> yeah. >> rose: which wasn't a rip roaring success for them. why not? >> you know, i didn't explore that in detail. i think -- and i'm not a business person to look at why that didn't -- i mean, they also had a string of big hits and won a lot of oscars. so i don't know exactly why it failed in business terms. i really don't want to address that. i don't know. i don't know the answer to that. somebody else probably has a better answer. they had a string of hits. they pick well and i think stephen didn't make every movie there, and that miffed something to do with it. >> rose: jeffrey katzenberg and stephen speilberg. >> a dream team. >> rose: here is finally tom hanks talking about on this show talking about stephen speilberg.
here it. >> i don't know what it is that stephen has other than an odd, almost inhuman genius for making people do things on sprockets. >> rose: understands as much as about moviemaking as anybody you know. >> yes and is not intimidated by a single aspect of it. the two movies i made with him couldn't have been more different. >> rose: this one and private ryan. >> and saving private ryan were extraordinaire. they were shot the same way, very fast, everything coming off the truck, set up in a moment. changing course, stopping to linger over a home that he needs and take as much as as half day or full day to get it and go back to a running gun sort of style. the best i can liken him is stephen is to filmmaking as what edison was to light bubbles. he could see a better way of illuminate ago room app and didn't stop. >> rose: you walk away from
every contact learning something new, feeling some -- >> actually just the opposite of being -- he's more of a mystery now than he was the first time i worked with him because no one knows how he does it, no one knows how he sees what he sees. no one knows what's the difference between being done with a scene after 32 setups as opposed to being done with a scene after one. he's done them both. he has an aesthetic meter in his head that's calibrated to some scale that is not in english. ( laughter ) >> it's actually true. >> rose: here's what you said, having a vision athand sticking to it and not letting anybody get in the way of it is probably the best lesson you can learn from stephen speilberg, decision to make schindlers list a three and a half black and white movie about the holocaust that didn't come out of any kind of focus group, it was a belief that it was something that needed to be done. what's your favorite him by
stephen speilberg. >> it's like asking what your favorite child is. but i can tell you i have several favorites. i think schindlers list is probably at the top. i love munich, i love empire of the sun -- empire of the sun is like a stepchild and doesn't get as much attention as it needs to. jaws stands up today as much as when he first made it? thank you for coming. >> i enjoyed it. >> rose: back in a moment. stay with us. >> rose: david litt is here at 24 he was hired as a speechwriter for president obama. he eventually became a special assistant to the president and senior presidential speechwriter. he was the lead scribe on four white house correspondence dinners. his new book is called thanks obama my hopi changey white house years. david litt, thanks for joining us. >> thanks for having me. >> rose: you don't seem like
you're obsessed by politics. >> no, i grew up doing standup comedy. >> rose: thinking you would be a comedian? >> when i was 15 or 16, that's what i thought. i did improv comedy in college and intender at the onion before i started working for obama. that was the path i was on. i was one of the people who saw barack obama speak during the campaign and immediately did a 180 and -- >> rose: what was the impact of the speech? what did you think. >> i was on a plane watching the little airplane television and it was the night of the iowa caucuses january 3, 2008, and president obama, then candidate obama, was delivering his victory speech and i wasn't watching because i desperately wanted to see him speak, i was watching because there was nothing good on any of the espns. i saw him and i reached a point where he looked at the organizers in the crowd. some of them were younger than me even though i was a senior in
college, and he said you represent the most american of ideals that faced with impossible odds that people who love this country can change it. in that moment, i felt like he was talking to me, and i think millions of others especially young people felt like he was talking to each of us, and that ability to speak to the entire country but also to everybody individually is the hallmark of a great speaker like that. and by the time the plane land, i was a different person snowso what did you do. >> i landed and immediately e-mailed my more earnest friends who had been campaigning for obama in iowa and said what do k i do to help? i became a volunteer on campus for my last semester of college. i was in connecticut so the primaries there were on super tuesday, helped knock on doors. then i drove to ohio and spent five months as a field organizer for the general election. so my job was to run an office in wayne county ohio, ohio, an hour and a half south of
cleveland, and the volunteers there were knocking on doors, talking to voters. this was not a democratic county. it ended up going for mccain about 60% to 40%, but that was the biggest margin a democrat had won this a very long time. so that was the goal to compete everywhere and i got to be part of that. >> rose: so you were a political operative, not a speech writer. >> that's right. i had no plans of being a speech writer. i moved to washington without a clear idea of what job i might get. i was briefly the world's worst intern at a crisis communications firm. i think -- i think every washington, d.c. intern massage going rogue and i went completely rogue. i actually did it. i brought in my laptop from home and set up an office in the breakroom of this firm. i almost got fired as an intern which is very difficult to do but ended up getting a second chance and got an internship at a speech writing term called west wing writers. didn't realize i had lucked into a job at the best boutique
speech writing firm certainly for democrats in the country, but that's what happened. so that turned into a job and, two years later, i was actually ready to go back into the field and i was going to move to chicago and work on the reelection campaign and, instead, var valerie jarrett, president's senior speechwriter was looking for someone and john favero said you can stay here so i wrote for valerie and the chief of staff at the time. so i would do a weekly address surmszing a speech that week for a video, i might do that. or in 2011 i wrote a speech sort of wishing america happy thanksgiving, a two minute video about that. so my white house specialty was stuff nobody else wants for a while. >> rose: pretty soon you became a senior speech writer.
>> so i bam a senior speechwriter in 2015, so i kind of gradually took on more responsibility. i moved to the campaign to write speeches for president obama. >> rose: right. in june of 2012, and got to be part of the campaign team. then in 2013, i moved back and was full time speechwriter on the president's team. while this was happening, i also began to take on more of the jokes because our -- the person who was running the correspondence center in 2011 when i started, a speechwriter named john lovett. >> rose: very funny guy. so he was our token white house funny person, but he left for hollywood in 2011 and by default i became the token white house funny person. when jokes came up i took on more responsibility with those. >> rose: that job primarily, is it not corralling some of the best comedy writers in the country to imribt to funny
material? >> it was a mix. that was a team effort in a way a lot of ourther speechers were not. i got to work with some of my sphaift comedians pitching jokes or people who stayed in college when i went into politics. half the speech was written by in-house or former speech writers. lovett would continue to pitch jokes from los angeles, john favro would continue. it was a nice mix of curating jokes myself and working with the president and others in the room to think of what was funny or not. >> rose: he has great timing to deliver jokes. >> that was a lucky thing about writing for president obama is he would always open for the professional comedian and every year the professional comedian would say, really? this isn't fair. this guy has a comedic sense of comedy and also is president. >> rose: and he's also a writer. >> yes. >> rose: this is the guy who has written a best selling book,
has given probably a lot of credit for writing even though we don't know exactly where his hand stops and somebody else's hand begins, but it is a convection or generally people believe that some of the most important speeches he has delivered on race and other issues he wrote a significant part of them. >> right, that was my understanding as well. didn't write those speeches or work on those speeches with him, but when there were big speeches, you know, a state of the union, a major speech on something like race, he would always be working very closely with the chief speechwriter who is john favro in first term, cody keannan in the second terms so the fact he was a writer before politician means he knew good writing when he saw it and when he sat down and added his own language to the speech you knew quickly that would be the
centerpiece of the speech. a lot of time if you're a speechwriter in washington, knowing your principal may not understand the writing process as well as you, i think any speechwriter will say the best writer in the white house was barack obama, no question. >> rose: i think he said that, too. >> yes, i imagine he did. >> rose: there is also this, what do you do other than write a book about what you've done when you leave a white house job which has a certain power and potential in it, but yours has been writing speeches for the president. you don't want to be a speechwriter, you want to, i assume, write other things. >> i think that's one reason i did write a book. i ewasn't sure what else to do. i work for funny or die in washington, d.c., so that was interesting explaining to my parents going from the white house to an internet comedy company. >> rose: will farrell's company. >> right. and one of the things that we're
thinking about and i saw in the that, but by the last fewrt years of the obama presidency, we were doing more internet video, we were doing more speels where we would bring in celeb tees or other well-known people and amplify the president's message that way. we had a snapchat account. so the way politicians an leaders communicate to the american people is changing, and i wanted to figure out how to be a part of that as well as something old school like writing a book. >> rose: that's an interesting concept because bob schieffer and i did a conversation at the 92nd street y a couple of nights ago and he's written a book about that, how do we come to a sense of the way we consume a huge amount of information these days, and there is so many different ways to consume it, there's so much of it, how do you know what's real and not, all of that, what is your sense of not only how do we consume information but also how do we distribute information if we are in the business of trying to send a message, sell a message,
help people be aware of what our narrative is? >> what's interesting is it's easier than ever to get your message out the door but harder than ever to break through and get attention and that was something we discovered in the obama white house. i write in the book about when zach came in to do between two ferns with president obama, that was because we were having trouble getting our message to young people about signing up for healthcare the traditional way. so ended up being a comedy video on the youtube comedy show which was distinctly, very proudly weird, that was the way to reach millions of young people and get them to sign up for healthcare. >> rose: did it work? yeah, it worked. i think the day that video came out, it was watched 11 million times on youtube, which is, i mean, when i wrote a healthcare speech, if 10,000 people saw it on youtube, that was a pretty big deal. so it was an extraordinary
number, and what we saw was because you can link to the healthcare web site in that video, we could track how many people were signing up, and i believe the exact number is in the book, but i believe it was a 40% increase in the number of people going to healthcare.gov to look at health care insurance that at a. many had never been on the site before. i think that was an eye opening moment throughout the white house where with realized you need to figure out not just your message but your medium and you need both to be right in order to breakthrough. >> rose: what did you learn from barack obama? >> i think what i learned more than any other thing, i think i learned a lot, but i learned the power of focus. this was not something that i necessarily thought makes a good president, but i now believe it's essential to a president that, time after time, president obama could isolate the most important element of whatever he was doing, whether that was a policy or a joke, he could figure out this is the thing i need to focus on and he could execute on that specific thing and block out the distractions and the noise, and i think that's so underrated as a skill
for a leader, certainly for a politician or president, but it was something he could do really well. >> rose: the book is called "thanks obama, my hopy changey white house years." thanks for being here. >> thank you for having me. >> rose: for more about this program and earlier episodes, visit us online at pbs.org and charlierose.com. captioning sponsored by rose communications captioned by media access group at wgbh access.wgbh.org
>> announcer: this is "nightly business report" with tyler mathisen and sue h triple play. the dow, nasdaq, and s&p 500 all set records again. and now with earnings season about to get under way, will corporate america's report card help stocks even more? talking trade with the world's largest free trade agreement hanging in the balance. canada's prime minister comes to washington as tensions run high. and empty cup. the u.s. men's soccer team fails to qualify for next year's world cup. why that could have a big financial impact far beyond the soccer pitch. all that and more tonight on "nightly business report" for wednesday, october 11th. good evening, and welcome, everybody.