tv PBS News Hour PBS December 15, 2017 6:00pm-7:01pm PST
captioning sponsored by newshour productions, llc >> woodruff: good evening. i'm judy woodruff. on the newshour tonight: republicans on the verge of a tax cut agreement, making final deals in the g.o.p.'s aggressive push to get it done before the holidays. then, secretary of state rex tillerson urges unity in the global response to north korea's nuclear threats, while the white house itself appears divided. and, it's friday. mark shields and david brooks are here to talk about the coming tax overhaul and this week's stunning election result in alabama. plus, get your popcorn ready. we take a look at the year in movies. what lit up the silver screen,
as the darker side of hollywood plays out nationally. >> hopefully, this will change the way we look at films, and what films actually get made. >> woodruff: all that and more, on tonight's pbs newshour. >> major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by: ♪ ♪ moving our economy for 160 years. bnsf, the engine that connects us.
>> 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. >> woodruff: the g.o.p. tax plan moved closer to passage this evening, as some key senate holdouts signaled their support for the revised legislation. our own lisa desjardins joins us
now from capitol hill, to walk us through what is in this latest version of the tax bill. so, lisa, i know you've just come from a briefing. this has been breaking late in the day. before i ask you what's in the bill, tell us about the holdouts, who they are and why they came back on board. >> two very big and yes votes for republicans, judy. first senator marco rubio from florida became a yes today after he won gains for child tax credit he wanted. it will now be refundable for lower income people. secondly, bob corker of tennessee, he was the lone no vote on the senate version, now is a yes. he said he was worried about the teff sit, but after talking to people at home, he said in totality he thinks it's better to pass the bill even if it's not perfect. i said, where does this leave us? two undecideds in the senate, susan collins and jeff flake.
the republicans could technically lose both the undecided votes and pass with 50 votes, but we have two senators who have been ill. senator john mccain was in the hospital at walter read, treatment related to his cancer, and todd cochran had a procedure done in the hospital. we're told both men will be back next week but the timing will be affected by their health. >> woodruff: lisa, tell us what you've learned about what is in the bill, how it's going to affect individuals and businesses. >> just minutes ago the house and senate jointly and published the final language of the 500-page bill. let me talk about what it means for individuals. here are the tax rates. folks, look at your income. you can look at two groups. ers', those making under $150,000. your tax rates will be somewhere between 10% and 25%. those are lower rates. this is for individuals. if you're mar id are, generally
it's double that for the income. the hiring income groups, if you're making $157,500 as an individual or more your tax rate will be between 3 #% and 27%. significant because in this bill they are bringing down the top tax rate from 39.6 to 37. that's something the democrats say is a giveaway to the wealthy but something the republicans wanted to do. the corporate tax rate goes from the current 35% to 21%. that's something the president said he can accept. everybody has had their eye on because of the significant drop. lisa, what about some of the major deduction changes, exemptions in here. >> let's go over the hot topics. first of all, the state and local property tax deduction especially affecting high cost states, people will be able to deduct $10,000 worth of taxes, either income tax, sales tax or property tax, you decide in any combination you want. the mortgage deduction will now
be capped at $750,000 on new homes going forward. interesting change, that can include second homes now. i think that's probably something new jersey will like. medical expenses, that's actually being expanded. folks who deduct medical expenses now will continue to do so and more people will be able to do so. judy, late changes, student loan deduction is kept as it is now. at one point, that was repealed but will continue under this. same thing for historic property deduction. huge note, a lot of people were watching the individual mandate, that will be repealed in this final bill, but, judy, not until 2019. lawmakers are giving, i guess, one year to perhaps stabilize the market out of concern for what that will do. individual mandate penalty will stay in effect next year in this bill but then go away. >> woodruff: so many changes at the last minute and very quickly the child tax credit which is what a couple of the senators are holding out for. >> it goes from $1,000 per child
to $2,000 per child. thanks to marco rubio, people at lower income levels will get it refundable. if they don't pay taxes, if they have children, they will see more money back from the federal government because of the change. >> woodruff: lisa desjardins, watching it all at the capital as the week winds up heading for a vote next week, thank you, lisa. and in the day's other news, president trump launched fresh criticism at the f.b.i.. he has previously said that the bureau's reputation is "in tatters." today, before leaving the white house to speak to its training academy graduates, the president reacted to reports that a handful of f.b.i. officials investigating hillary clinton's emails and russian interference in the election were biased against him. >> we're going to rebuild the f.b.i. it will be bigger and better than ever. but it is very sad, when you look at those documents. and how they've done that is really, really disgraceful, and you have a lot of very angry people that are seeing it. it's a very sad thing to watch,
i will tell you that. >> woodruff: an hour later, in quantico, virginia, president trump changed his tone. he called graduates of an f.b.i. program for law enforcement officers, "incredible men and women." this afternoon, u.s. attorney general jeff sessions defended the f.b.i. against president trump's criticism. sessions said, "i don't share the view that the f.b.i. is not functioning at a high level." separately, president trump also refused to say today if he will consider pardoning his former national security adviser, michael flynn, who recently pleaded guilty to lying to the f.b.i. about his contacts with russia. but he did tell reporters that he is encouraging republican roy moore to concede to democrat doug jones, after moore lost alabama's special senate election tuesday. a federal judge is releasing president trump's former campaign manager, paul manafort, from house arrest once he meets specific conditions.
manafort was charged in special counsel robert mueller's probe into russian meddling in the election. he agreed to forfeit $10 million if he ever failed to appear in court, and will be subject to a curfew and g.p.s. monitoring. at least four palestinians were killed in new clashes today over president trump's recent decision to recognize jerusalem as israel's capital. palestinian demonstrators threw rocks at israeli troops in the west bank and along the gaza border after friday prayers. the soldiers responded with tear gas and gunfire. more than 80 people were injured. the colossal wildfire in southern california continued to grow today, fanned by strong gusts of wind. firefighters have managed to establish a containment line around 35% of the deadly thomas fire. but they are preparing for a grueling weekend of unpredictable santa ana winds, which could trigger more
flare-ups. the u.s. department of interior says it is taking action, after a new survey found that one in three of its employees said they had been harassed or discriminated against at work. interior secretary ryan zinke fired four senior officials over "inappropriate behavior," including sexual misconduct. in a video message, zinke said it is time to acknowledge his department has a problem. >> the survey shows that harassment, intimidation and discrimination have been a common practice at interior. a culture that tolerates such behavior tarnishes our noble mission of stewardship and breaches public trust. i'm speaking today to make it clear that this culture of intimidation and harassment, which this administration inherited, has come to an end. >> woodruff: the interior department employs nearly 70,000 people. its bureau of indian affairs and
the national park service had the most reports of harassment or discrimination. movie actor dustin hoffman is facing more allegations of sexual misconduct. "variety" first reported that a playwright claimed that hoffman exposed himself to her in a hotel room in 1980 when she was 16. two other women allege that he sexually assaulted them during the filming of the movie "ishtar." his lawyer responded, calling the claims "defamatory falsehoods." in all, six women have accused the actor of impropriety. today marks the deadline for most americans to enroll for health insurance through the affordable care act. midnight pacific time is the cutoff for the 39 states served by the healthcare.gov website. and in a separate development, a federal judge in philadelphia temporarily halted a trump administration policy limiting women's access to birth control. it allowed employers to opt out
of an obama-era mandate that they provide free contraception for employees, citing religious or moral objections. and on wall street today, all three major stock indexes closed at record highs in anticipation of next week's tax reform vote. the dow jones industrial average soared 143 points to close at 24,651. the nasdaq rose 80 points and the s&p 500 added more than 23. for the week, both the dow and the nasdaq gained more than 1%, and the s&p 500 rose a fraction of a percent. still to come on the newshour: what secretary of state rex tillerson and other u.s. officials are signaling to north korea. how the republican tax plan affects the national debt. mark shields and david brooks take on the week's news. and much more.
>> woodruff: north korea was again today the focus at the united nations security council, at the end of a week that saw apparent confusion between the president and his secretary of state over the right course to pursue. as william brangham reports, all this as new questions of rex tillerson's job security surfaced. >> we're going to see what happens with north korea. we hope it works out. >> brangham: that was president trump this morning, shortly before his top diplomat appeared at the united nations to again press the case against north korea. >> the pressure campaign must and will continue, until denuclearization is achieved. we will in the meantime keep our channels of communication open. >> brangham: but secretary of state rex tillerson appeared to back off comments he'd made tuesday where he offered an open invitation to the north for talks.
>> and we're ready to have the first meeting without precondition. let's just meet >> brangham: that was a marked shift in tone after months of tough statements from the president and other officials. tillerson's comments, which seemed to drop any preconditions for talks with the north koreans, was swiftly swatted down by the white house. press secretary sarah sanders said, "the president's views on north korea have not changed." it was one more flashpoint in the increasingly strained relationship between the president and his secretary of state. this summer, mr. trump dismissed tillerson's diplomatic efforts as "wasting his time negotiating with little rocket man," a reference to north korean dictator kim jong-un. and it came amid a barrage of media reports suggesting the president is planning to fire tillerson. the "washington post" reported that one senior official said of tillerson, "i think our allies know at this point, he's not really speaking for the administration." >> the president's policy on north korea is quite clear, and there is no daylight at all between the president's policy and the pursuit of that policy.
>> brangham: today, tillerson said he and mr. trump are on the same page. >> as i said earlier this week, the sustained cessation of north korea's threatening behavior must occur before talks can begin. north korea must earn its way back to the table. >> brangham: all this comes as the administration, and some congressional allies, say time is running out for diplomacy, and that the u.s. is edging closer to war. and this afternoon, secretary of defense james mattis said north korea's missiles had not shown to be a "capable threat against us, right now." we hear from two who've had extensive experience negotiating with the north koreans. christopher hill was a career diplomat. he served as u.s. ambassador to south korea, and led the u.s. delegation in talks with north korea during the george w. bush administration. he's now at the university of denver. and frank jannuzi was part of the u.s. delegation during talks with north korea during the clinton administration. he's now president of the
maureen and mike mansfield foundation. gentlemen, welcome to you both. frank jannuzi, i would love to start with you. what is your sense of how negotiations or talks are going with the north koreans right now? >> well, of course, they're not going, and that's the problem. in washington, it's not unlikely or unusual to have policy disagreements over north korea, but to have it play out in public between the president and the secretary of state is terribly gruesome to watch. the last 48 hours have been especially tough. >> brangham: ambassador hill, gruesome? how would you characterize it? >> first of all, i don't think there is been much change in the situation with north korea and, yet, we've had this desultry dialogue in effect between our secretary of state and president where our secretary of state is now conflating the idea of pre-conditions with the idea of having a purpose to the talks and suggesting yesterday we don't even need a purpose to the
talks. that's walked back as it needed to be and he's now on the other end of the spectrum. so i think, to use frank's word, rather gruesome. >> brangham: frank, there have been internal debates within administrations for a long time, but with this damaclese hanging over tillerson, this den congratulations when he's in asia saying don't bother negotiating with "rocket man," this idea he might be fired, what does this do to our diplomacy? >> the united states needs the secretary of state to speak for the government, for the administration. clearly tillerson's voice has been undercut, second guessed repeatedly by the white house. what's ironic here is tillerson and his ambassador, the point man on north korean policy at state, i believe are more loyal to the president's policy than the president is. the policy is one of engagement with maximum pressure.
you need both. one doesn't make sense without the other, but the president seems not to be very interested in the engagement part of his own policy, at least not right now. >> ambassador hill, what does this rift, if we can call it that, do to our ability to work with our allies, with south korea, with japan? do you have a sense of whether they're confused by this or are we to assume this is part and parcel of how diplomacy happens? >> at best they're confused. at worst they're rather alarmed of the fact that the secretary of state is clearly not an extension of the president. so when the secretary of state speaks, they have no reason to believe this is where the president is or, frankly, where 'tis national security council staff is. so there's a real problem here. i thought in the early months of tillerson's ten your at the state department, he spent a good amount of time trying to make sure he was in closely with the president, and what we're
seeing now is that doesn't seem to be the case at all. what's interesting about this all is the secretary of state is trying to show our allies that we're prepared to talk to the north koreans, we're not afraid to talk, but right now people are not believing him. but at the same time, they're also concerned that somehow the president will say tomorrow that he's prepared to talk to kim jong un, something he said in the past. so there's a lot of confusion and, overall, it means that countries including china don't necessarily want to be with us every step of the way because they never know what our next step is going to be. >> brangham: frank jannuzi, one place where apparently there are talks happening is between the u.s. military and the chinese military. apparently they have been having a conversation about what to do, how to communicate, if a conflict were to break out, so that we understand each other's intentions. how significant do you think that? do you believe those talks are happening and how significant are they? >> i believe the talks are happening, and it's a very
significant forward progress in u.s.-china policy coordination. for years during the clinton administration and the bush administration and even the obama administration, there were efforts to try to get china to speak with the united states about what would we do in a worse-case crisis, a north korea collapse, a cop flood victim on the peninsula, to avoid miscalculation between the united states and china. so the fact these talks are happening and i believe they are at a military and intelligence level is very promising. it suggests the two countries are getting beyond some of the cold war legacies of the peninsula and are being very practical to avoid a conflict on the peninsula becoming a global conflict between the united states an china. >> brangham: ambassador hill, it seems the situation we've got ourselves in now is the u.s. wants talks to at least at a baseline be about the denuclearization of north korea. the north koreans have said we are not having that
conversation. so where does that impasse leave us? how do we get around that diplomatically or do we have to somehow come to grips with the fact that the north koreans are going to be a nuclear power going forward? >> my own view is we cannot come to grips with that idea. we can't in effect say north korea can be another nuclear power. i think, over time, there will be a perception, especially among the south korean and japanese people that the bond between the united states and these countries, that is the influence of the u.s. in this part of asia, will weaken and that, over time, we will decouple from these allies. so that's the real risk of this. i mean, when kim jong un talks about what he wants to do, that is nuclearize north korea, that is really to finish his father's unfinished business, and he also talks about unification and that is to finish his grandfather's unfinished business. in the case of his grandfather, he was unfinished because to
have the presence of american troops. in the case of his father, he did not succeed in nuclearizing because he cared about what china thought. so we've seen this kim, kim jong un, distancing north korea from china, from the alliance with china. so i think these are very serious problems, and i think it speaks to the need for more of these u.s.-china talks and a more comprehensive approach and an effort to work on this every day and dare i say maybe fewer press conferences from the secretary of state and more efforts to have serious and prolonged discussions with key allies and partners. >> brangham: ambassador chris chris, frank jannuzi, thank you both very much. >> thank you. >> woodruff: as republicans near the passage of a major tax bill, one thing has changed for many
in the party: the focus on deficits and debt. we do not have an assessment yet of the cost of the latest bill, but a congressional scorekeeper found the senate version was expected to add $1 trillion to the debt. many republican leaders say the tax cuts will help pay for themselves. maya macguineas has long been a leading voice over concerns about the debt, deficit and spending. she's the president of the committee for a responsible federal budget. maya macguineas, welcome back to the program. so what is, right now, your main concern about this bill is this. >> well, my main concern is clearly this is going to add hundreds of billions, in fact a trillion or more, to the national debt over the next ten years, and that comes at a time when we can ill afford it, just to kind of take a step back, the debt right now relative to the economy is the highest it's been since world war ii and what we should be doing is putting together a plan to bring the debt down, not something that will add a trillion or more to the dead.
also i would add that i think it's a tremendous lost opportunity to have done some real tax reform whereas this bill ended up being very expensive, i would say unaffordable tax cuts instead of real reform. >> woodruff: is there one change they could have made that would have alleviated your concern about the deficit and the debt or is this something that's just sprinkled throughout the entire piece of legislation? >> absolutely. the overall structure of the tax framework could have been incredibly sensible and help to promote growth which is the purpose to tax reform. the key to doing that is broadening the tax base. we have over $1.5 trillion in tax breaks every year, those are the deductions in credits and exclusions that made the code so complicated. if you get rid a lot of those, you have money to bring down rates that generate growth and not add to the debt. they haven't been willing to tackle many of the tax breaks at all and, as a result, it's going to be incredibly expense i and
the biggest way we're paying for it is borrowing instead of getting rid of tax breaks. >> woodruff: i'm sure you know most republican leaders are saying, no, this is going to generate growth and from that growth the government will generate revenue and that will help ease off and reduce the debt and deficit. >> tax reform will promote growth and the more you do the smart tax reforms, and many are included in the bill, the more growth you will get, but you won't get enoughgoat to pay for itself. it will grow the economy but will still lose a good amount of revenue because it won't pay for itself. generous estimates, etch after the growth, it will add a trillion dollars to the debt. so the lawmakers are suspending raiment and say i'll cross my fingers and hope it will grow more than any independent forecaster is projecting. that's not likely. when the debt is as high as it is, this is not a time to gamble with our precarious situation.
instead, we should have put together a plan that didn't add to the debt. >> woodruff: maya, what about the the argument some conservatives are making in that, if this bill means that there is less of a government burden at the federal, state, local level, on individual families and small business owners, for example, that that is enough of a good thing that it should offset any concern about the deficit? >> well, there are different kinds of stimulus you want to do to help the economy. if the goal is you want to create economic growth, right now we should be doing things that will help investment, investing more is what would grow the economy, when you are where we are in the business cycle now, which is the economy is already doing pretty well. if we are in a recession or downturn, we would think about different kind of stimulus and maybe encouraging spending would be better for the economy. right now we should focus on investment to help generate growth. the other argument for this is you want to give people tax relief and cut their taxes. that's great. who doesn't want a tax cut?
i think we all do. if you've already built big deficits, you can't afford a tax cut unless you cut spending. remember the republican budget passed this year didn't cut a penny out of the spending side so it maintains the huge deficits we have and the tax cut goes on the national credit card, that actually slows economic growth. >> woodruff: as you know, speaking of spending, congress is days away from passing or delaying for another few weeks the passage of a spending bill. could that then be an opportunity in that legislation to cut spending to address the deficit and the at the time concerns? >> i'm afraid it's going to be exactly the opposite where, in some ways, this tax bill in no longer caring about paying for things is kind of the dam breaking on fiscal responsibility. so what we're likely to see in the coming week is not only the passage o a big tax cut but increases in the sequester
spending and increases in the discretionary domestic defense spending. looks like they will pass another tax cut. there's a tax extenders bill that could be costly and may be delaying other tax cuts that are part of obamacare. so on top of this tax plan, next week we could see another couple of hundreds of billions of dollars in borrowing. it seems there is no fiscal constraint now that's governing what we're doing in congress, and one big tax cut may lead to spending increases nobody's willing to pay for. >> woodruff: red ink in every direction you look. >> in a time we should doing the opposite. >> woodruff: maya macguineas with the committee for a responsible federal budget. good to have you on the program. >> thank you. >> woodruff: thank you, maya.
>> woodruff: stay with us. now, to the analysis of shields and brooks. that's syndicated columnist mark shields, and "new york times" columnist david brooks. welcome, gentlemen. i guess it's now over but the shouting, mark. the republicans seem to have the votes on this tax bill. what do you make of it? >> well, judy, the legendary late conservative columnist robert novak was an old friend and a constant frequent debating said the republican party stated seriously and approvingly the republican party cut taxes, and i think they've lived up to the novak mandate today. that's it. that's all it's about. think about this -- cut the effective corporate tax rate by 46%. 21% from 35. at the same time, 8.9 million american children who get coverage, medical coverage under the children's health insurance
plan go unfunded sense september 30th because they can't somehow, in their fever herb persuit of lowering the top tax-rate from 39.6 down to 37% so steve schwartzman can somehow have an easier christmas, they can't find the money. these are working poor families whomake too much to qualify for medicaid and not enough to buy their own health insurance. it is the caricature of the enforcement of the ugliest stereotype of the republicans as an uncaring party passing a bill that is written by and for the richest and most powerful. >> woodruff: david? i'll dial it back a few norms when you get to my position. i'm not opposed to tax cuts. barack obama proposed cutting it to 28%. 27% is not that much lower. i think cutting the corporate tax rate as sweden and all the other countries have done is
good for the come and makes us competitive around the world and follows an international trend of people doing this. to me you've got to surround it with other things to help the people. that the what the republicans didn't do. cutting the marginal rates, bad idea. they didn't even simple fy'the rates. what strikes me is how irrelevant -- i went to work at the "wall street journal" editorial page in 1996, republicans have been talking about tax reform ever since the last tax reform. tall the ideas have been floated around. reduce the rates on taxes, flat tax. this bill has nothing to do with all the intellectual work that real economists put in who are republican and want to improve incentives. what's big is the republican party has become detached from the republican economic profession, so they pass a bill simply as donor maintenance and it's about hurting their people and helping our people without
an underlying economic philosophy at all. they took an opportunity to do something pretty good, have a few good morsels, and ended up doing something pretty bad that will hurt the worst without helping growth. >> woodruff: will they help themselves politically? >> no, it starts with 25% support in the country, and the broadly-held perception that it is written by and for the rich, that it's a payoff, and they are comforting themselves, republicans, with somehow the secure knowledge that once it passes and people start to see the benefits of it that they will feel better about it. i would remind tell me of 2010, the affordable care act, not in social policy but political implication, once it passed democrats were sure people would feel a lot better about it. in 2010 the democrats suffered a stinging rebuke. the republicans will be on the defensive about this as well
they should be. the corporations that so desperately need this. there is only $2.3 trillion in offshore they're sitting on and no requirement they hire a single worker, reetrain a single worker, expand a plant or anything of the sort andeth going to go right back to the shareholders the stockholders and buying back stock. >> are republicans taking a risk by what they've done? >> yeah, i think so. i mean, i take the biggest picture. the big issue facing american domestic politics is equality and the collapse to have the working class. and so the obama administration, given this big problem, decided to spend their entire administration talking about the health insurance markets, which is really related to but tangential. the republicans decided to lose the majority on the corporate tax rates which has nothing to do with the central problem. mystifying is the two last administration and political establishment going on 12 years now is ignoring the big problem
and tackling other problems, so that is going to mean that the inequality and the white working class and every working class that's collapsing, that issue which drove the trump election is going to be worse and worse and worse, and it will have effects we can't predict now. >> not to be brickly, but i just point out that barack obama confronted the worst economic recession since the great depression. i mean, getting out of that was the prime concern. he brought us back from the precipice. i agree with you on the expanding inequality, but it wasn't comparable in any way of 105 sustained months of job growth and economic growth under barack obama that was inherited by donald trump and is about to be squandered in this giveaway. >> i'll give you that, getting over the 2008, 2007 rescission was big early in the administration, but remains that once they got over that, they could turn to the michigans,
the pennsylvanias, the ohios and either done infrastructure, they could have done a bunch of things which are already on the table and everybody says fair in favor of but nobody does. the democrats have to have a thing about the health insurance. the insurance markets, a small thing they did to help people get insured but what mistfies me is the inability to address the frontal problem of the day. >> you're right but i point out one thing which is saving the united states automobile industry, ohio and michigan, were not minor accomplishments and they were opposed by the republicans. >> fair point. >> woodruff: so all this is happening for republicans, the same week they lost, david, a big race that everybody was watching, special senate election in alabama. by the way, credit to mark shields, you forecast democrat
doug jones would win. congratulations. first of all, what happened and let's talk about what it means. >> well, a bigoted alleged ped feel is not a great candidate, who is incompetent, so he's going to lose the new south, he's going to lose women and a lot of people. he's going to lose non-evangelicals. so you combine donald trump and sheriff moore, you've got two pretty toxic characters anywhere, even in alabama. to me the two things that are interesting moving forward is the poll i saw in the national review of fox news viewers. in june 90% of fox news viewers supported president trump, now it's 58%. that's a massive collapse among fox viewers. if you're losing them, you're in trouble. second, what is the knock-on effect for all the bannon candidates running all these other races? so steve bannon has put up people to run against regular republicans in arizona, possibly
in wyoming, probably in tennessee, a bunch of other places. it seems to me that was just a mortal peril for the party. it seems to me this may quash those or at least among a lot of republicans saying these bannon candidates are bad news for us. >> woodruff: mark? it's bad for the republicans. they're disorganized and fragmented. there's a bitter division. there's recriminations. there's no common spirit. there's the bannon wing, mitch mcconnell. donald trump is an albatross of historic dimensions. i would point out the last time controlled congress, switch from one party to the other, it was midterm elections. in each case, bill clinton, barack obama, george w. bush, the three most recent, the lowest job rating was that of george w. bush was at 42%. the other two are 45% and 46% approval. donald trump is now 10% below
that. so a midterm election is nothing but a referendum on the president. it's not a comparative. you can't bring up hillary clinton and alleged foibles. it's the incumbent president. he is in big trouble and republicans are in enormous trouble heading into 2018 and that's alabama. one thing about doug jones, he was a good candidate. he did appeal to african-american votes. he had credentials. he had been the prosecutor of two of the clue cluck kkk'smen d blown up the sunday school church, killing the little black girls. he thanked people by name, he was modest. optimistic. he asked for one thing, funding of the children's health insurance plan. he didn't skewer or trash his opponent. he didn't demonize anybody. it was just a grownup, normal
speech, and it was encouraging. >> woodruff: and david, so republicans hanging their heads overthat right now, but going into 2018, the midterm elections next year, republicans were seen having an advantage because they don't have as many seats to lose in this midterm. but now that alabama has happened -- >> yeah, and what mystifies me is this should be the year they could pick up seats because they have the battlefield so tilted in their direction. but among republicans just a sense of fatalism. you continue see them reacting. they all know trump is bad news. they all wish trump would go off in a puff of smoke, but they don't have action or know what to do. some deluded themselves into thinking that passing the tax bill is enough. you hear a lot that we just need to pass this. i think most know that's a delusion. but the lack of imagine nation, the lack of will. it's not only that trump beats the establishment, the
establishment retreats in his wake even before he attacks, and this is what happens when a party loses its sense of self-confidence, reason to live, reason to believe. there's a reason the bolsheviks were a small group the russia. the bolsheviks believed in their thing and the minchaviks didn't believe in it. passion on one side. >> what came out of alabama, donald trump 48 approval, 48 disapproval. of those who disapprove of him seriously, 41%, all the passion and intensity and organizing of small institutions are on the side of those who don't like donald trump, what he's doing and where the country is going. >> woodruff: you heard it here. mark shields, david brooks, thank you both.
>> woodruff: the holiday season is often a time when people catch up on some of the best year's best work in arts, entertainment and culture. it is also awards season, when writers, critics and fans are making their own picks. jeffrey brown continues our own look tonight with the year in feature films. >> brown: and it's time once again to look at some of the year's finest work and perhaps some you didn't know that you can now check out. a subjective take, of course, from two film critics who have back from time to time, ann hornaday of "the washington post" and mike sargent of wabai new york, critic of the film circle. welcome back. >> thank you. >> brown: "mud bound" a new one. mike, why tid you like it? >> for a lot of reasons. mud bound is compared to a modern day grapes of wrath. it's comparable to that but
definitely a film that characters or goes over a chapter in american history that's glossed over in a lot of ways. it touches upon a great many great important subjects, especially, you know, blacks in the military, you know, being poor, being in the south, and i have to say it's a testimony that didn't have to cost a lot of money, it's a small film that has a much, much bigger significance. i happen to think that dee reeves is a fantastic talent. i think she will be one to haveo have -- she will be nominated for the oscar and the first black lgbt person to be nominated. it's great. >> brown: a short clip. how long have you been back from overseas? >> a couple weeks. much obliged. have yourself a wonderful day. >> take care. (gunfire and shouting)
>> it's all right. (humming) >> the car must have backfired. they say it's time. >> brown: this is brand new and out on netflix as well. what did you think. >> a marvelous film. it's a throw back to the kind of movies we say hollywood doesn't make anymore, the movies of epic scope, sprawl, density, texture. it's a very literary work. calls to mind wilick hather, john steinbeck. to me, films by john ford and william wilier, has the best of our lives kind of feeling in terms of the post-war error, it explores post-war trauma and i thought it was observant and alert to subtleties in class,
friendship and depression, dependency and obedience to social norms that dee reese weaves in so beautifully and with finesse. enormous talent. >> brown: couple more. mike, you mentioned darkest hour. you actually both love that one. >> i love darkest hour for a lot of reasons, of course largely because of gary's performance. i kept watching, trying to find gary oldman in the makeup and performance. i gave up and felt i was watching winston churchill. i had no idea he was getting so much opposition from this party and the government and his own party about what went down, an it's just a great testimony. interestingly enough, the films we've seen recently, dunkirk and the king's speech, give us context, so when you see these events happening, you know about them just from recent films. >> brown: we've got a short clip of that one.
let's take a look. >> you've wanted this your entire adult life. >> no, since the nursery. the public one. >> you will have to prove yourself. >> i'm getting the job i need because the ship is sinking. it's not a gift, it's revenge. >> let them see your true qualities, your courage. >> my poor judgment. your lack of vanity. my will. your sense of humor. ho, ho, ho. now go. be -- >> be what? yourself. >> brown: terrific. mike, another one you mentioned was "get out" a jordan peele's film. >> "get out" is sort of transformative, in my opinion, reminds us of what a genre film can do. i've always thought science fiction and comedy can do something other genres can't do saying something about the human condition without being heavy handed. get out reminds us horror films don't just have to be about scares. they can be and say something about society, and this film
does in such a great way, and also reminds us of the relationship between comedy and horror. get out's a film, i can't think of a horror film since night of the living dead that had something to say about society so strongly you couldn't ignore it or take away, it only added to the film. >> brown: two for you. lady bird. >> an incredibly special film. the solo writing directive debut of greta gerwig. i thought she was charming on screen. she makes the debut with such assurance. it's a coming of age tale about a 17-year-old girl in sacramento, california, played by the great irish actress, sirsha, and her attempts to break free of her type ling hometown and crystallized in the epic fights with her mother played by lorie metcalfe, a profoundly moving story. >> brown: and a big christmas
season movie with a lot of big stars, th "the post," on both yr lists again. ann? >> yes, indeed. this is an extraordinary movie. >> brown: we should say "the post," of course, "the washington post," where you happen to work. >> exactly. and i'm not biased or anything like that, but it's about the episode in 1971 when katharine graham and ben bradley had to make a decision whether to accomplish the pentagon papers after the "new york times" had been legally told not to. and then they kind of entered into this epic legal fight around whether they tha had the right to do so while mrs. graham was taking the family company public. the stakes couldn't be higher. tom hanks plays ben bradlee. meryl streep. it's an arousing, meaningful movie. >> brown: i want to take a moment at this time of year to ask if there is a movie or two that didn't get as muc as much
attention at you think it should have. >> the two i would mention are recently the man who invented christmas. i'm a charles dickens fan so i was a cork for this going in. what i didn't know, i thought the title was a little pretentious before i heard it, it's about how charles dickens came up with christmas carol, but i didn't know what was at stake for him. he had had a bunch of failures, had been the toast of the town, now the butt of jokes. he self-accomplished the book, and christmas was not something that was celebrated like it is today, it was something that was kind of relegated to the poor. if you were well to do you didn't even acknowledge christmas and it literally transform the season and let people in society look at themselves which is what good fiction should do. christopher is mind blowing, he's the best ebenezer scrooge, and there have been many. it's a great film. >> brown: ann?
mike mentioned dunkirk earlier. one movie that utterly enchanted me is their finest, a little movie about the british propaganda office trying to get the u.s. into the war, so they make a propaganda film based on a couple of evacuees, civilian boats that helped evacuate dunkirk, an it's sort of about this production of narrative ad myth. but there's romance, humor, there's a lot of poignancy. it's a terrifically accurate portrait of london during the blitz. >> brown: it's almost impossible to talk about movies and tv without thinking of the context we're in of sexual harassment and removal of harvey weinstein and others implicated. i know you're both writing about it. to what extent do you think, ann, you first, to what extent gunge it's affecting the way people are thinking about these
films or hollywood? >> these stories we're reading about every day, we bringing them into us as watching the work. i think the degree to which the work intersects the stories, i think it's difficult to separate the art from the artists. in some cases the movie you're watching has nothing to do at all with what you have been reading about that actor or producer or director, so it's easier to make the leap, but i think it will be part of our baggage for quite a while. >> brown: mike? i think hopefully this will change not only the way we look at films but what films get made and i think hopefully not only will public perspective change, i think there are a number of artists, whether producers, actors, actresses, directors, people behind the scenes who will now get an opportunity where they couldn't or where they were being held back for reasons of harassment. >> brown: we'll leave it there, mike sargent and ann hornaday, thank you both once again.
>> thank you. >> woodruff: >> woodruff: and we have more from this conversation online. our critics pick their favorite acting moments of the year. you can find that at www.pbs.org/newshour. >> woodruff: as we've just been hearing, a good movie can really grab your attention. this weekend, throngs of kids and adults will see the new "star wars" take. while hollywood has figured out how to get boys to watch movies, the formula is trickier for getting boys to read, especially among those who have already expressed frustration and boredom with books. tonight, author jason reynolds, whose newest young adult novel is called "long way down," shares his opinion on how poetry can dazzle reluctant readers. >> if you were to tell me that you were afraid of dogs, i wouldn't then return to you with
a pack of pit bulls. i wouldn't invite you out to a quiet evening over dinner and "kujo." however, what i might do is casually walk with you by one of those doggy daycares. the ones with the pups small enough to fit in the palm of your hand. yippy little furballs that get so excited, their tails wag the entire back halves of their bodies. the dogs that grin and want nothing more than to lap your skin with fervent affection. that's how i would help break down the distrust of dogs. it just makes sense. so then, why, when it comes to young people who don't like reading, who feel intimidated by literature, do we answer that cry with an onslaught of the very thing they fear? why do we show up with a pack of pit bulls in the form of pages, and expect them to stop running away? perhaps they haven't found the right style of book. because, sometimes it isn't about subject matter, or voice, or point of view. sometimes it's about the most
obvious thing: the words on the page. for some kids, those words-- the amount of words-- is equivalent to a snarling dog. so, why not start with the less threatening, palm-sized pup in the window? in this case, poetry. poetry has the ability to create entire moments with just a few choice words. the spacing and line breaks create rhythm. a helpful musicality. a natural flow. the separate stanzas aid in perpetuating a kind of incremental reading, one small chunk at a time. and the white space, for an intimidated reader, adds breathability to a seemingly suffocating task. i wrote this to explore the in-depth, though momentary, inner monologue of a young person dealing with a complex emotion, one we all can relate to, in just 50 words. "i felt like crying" "which felt like another person trapped behind my face
tiny fists punching the backs of my eyes feet kicking my throat at the spot where the swallow starts. stay put, i whispered to him. stay strong, i whispered to me. because crying is against the rules." with the incredible selection of poetry and novels-in-verse, from past to present, this is an opportune time to use them to chip away at bibliophobia. less words on the page, more white space, without necessarily sacrificing the narrative elements. and once young people experience turning those pages, once the rush of comprehension and completion laps at their psyches for the first time, perhaps they will know they need not fear a thing created to love them, and for them to love. >> woodruff: and please join us on pbs newshour weekend saturday
and sunday, a two-part series asks: is the government doing enough to keep our drinking water safe? and we'll be back, right here, on monday, with a look at life after isis for the men and women of an iraqi religious minority. that's the newshour for tonight. i'm judy woodruff. 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.
hello and welcome to "kqed newsroom." i'm thuy vu. coming up on our program, with the unexpected passing of san francisco mayor ed lee this week, we look at his legacy and what lies ahead for san francisco's leadership. plus we'll hear from former cia director leon panetta. but first, california congresswoman jackie speier has introduced bipartisan legislation to crack down or sexual misconduct in congress. earlier this month, three lawmakers announced their resignation following sexual harassment allegations. republican trent franks and democrats john conyers and al franken. amid the ongoing national reckoning, speier has also e