tv PBS News Hour PBS May 2, 2018 6:00pm-7:01pm PDT
captioning sponsored by newshour productions, llc >> woodruff: good evening, i'm judy woodruff. on the newshour tonight, president trump's lead lawyer handling the russia investigas stepping down, the latest shakeup in a defense team grappling with a possible interview of mr. trump by the special co then, the uncertain fate of the iran deal-- i sme down with fu.s. secretary of energy ernest moniz to discuss what cdrould happen if the u.s. s out of the agreement. then, defending missouri-- why the state's public defender system is failia both lawyers nd their clients. plus, we continue our series inside the world of jk news. tonight, how one media publisr uses facebook to build viral hyper-partisan content. >> my goal at one point was to deliver to them what they like,
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>> and with the ongoing support of these institutions: >as> this programade possible by the corporation for public broadcasting. and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. >> woodruff: the new u.s. secretaryf state says it's time to solve the north korea nuclear problem, once and for all. mike pompeo spoke this morning after his ceremonial formal swearing-in by vicedent pence, with president trump watching, at the state department. >> right now we have an unprecedented opportunity to change the course of history on the korean peninsula. i underscore the word opportunity. we're in the beginning stages of the work and the outcome is certainly yet unknown. the american people are counting on us to get this right. we are committed to the permanent, verifiable,
rreversible dismantling of north korea's weapons of mass dtoestructions program ano so without delay. >> woodruff: meanwhile, china's foreign minister wang yi arrived in north korea for possible tlealks with iter kim jong un. he's expected to press for a larger role for beijing in the new round of nuclear diplomacy. in libya, two suicide bombers killed at least 14 people at the national election commission in trili. the islamic state group claimed rg esponsibility, say was trying to prevent a nation-wide vote later this year. vonideo postene by libyan television stations showed smoke rldising from the bg. the election commission said its electoral database was undamaged. the u.s. has transferoud a prisoneof guantanamo bay, for the first time under president trump. ahmed al-rbi was sent to a rehabilitation program in his niaative saudi ar he pleaded guilty in a 2002 attack on a french oil tanker.
40 detainees are left at guantanamo. protesters were out in full force across armenia today, after parliament rejected the opposition leader serving as prime minister. his supporters blocked major roads and ministry buildings in a national strike. this on the heels of weeks of protests against corruption. later, the opposition leader called off the protests after the ruling party said parliament will vote again next tuesday. palestinian president mahmoud abbas is under fire after suggesting european jews have brought persecution on themselves. in a monday speech, abbas said hatred of jews was, "not because of their religion, it was because of thr role in usury and banks." tay, israeli prime minister benjamin netanyahu called abbas aca "hot denier," and his foreign ministry joinedhan. >> what w heard from mr. abbas is a series of anti-
s oemitic accusatioan ugly nature. mr. abbas accuses actually the jewish people for being responsible for its own for its own tragedy. those are things that we cannot accept. >> woodruff: the u.s., the u.ea and the eurunion offered their own criticism. a' bbokesman declined comment. the palestinian leader has previously questioned how many jews died in the holocaust. back in this country, thetate of iowa may implement the nation's strictest abortion law. overnight, the republican- majority legislature approved a ban on abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected. that's around six weeks, and often before a woman knows she is pregnant. republican governor kim reynolds opposes abortion, but has not sr aid whete will sign the measure. in philadelphia, two black men ted in a starbucks last month have settled with the city
gerent, for $1 each. city officials also promised $200,000 dollars for ane ntrepreneurs program in high schools. images of rashon nelson and donte robinson being led away in hanuffs sparked a renewed debate over racial profiling. sucta said it has reached a separate settlement with the men. the british data firm embroiled in the facebook privacy scandal is shutting down. ccaambridge analyeclared bankruptcy today. it said it has been unfairly vilified for collecting facebook user information to build voter profiles. a british lawmaker warned the companyot to delete its data history, as investigations continue. the federal reserve announced today that it's leaving its benchmark interest rate unchanged. but the central bank said again that further increases are expected, as inflation on wall street, the news did little to stop a late-day sell- off.
the dow jones industrial averago lost 17ts to close below 23,925. the nasdaq fell 29 points, and the s&p 500 slipped 19. and, the boy scouts are changing their name to "scouts b.s.a.," because staring next year, they're also accepting girls. today's announcement said the parent organization will remain the " "cub scouts," for younger children, will still be known as cub scouts. s ttillcome on the newshour: a former energy secretary on t could happen if the u. exits the iran nuclear deal. missouri public defenders overwhelmed with clients now inc aatch-22, and much more. >> woodruff: president trump today tapped a veteran washington lawyer to join his legal team. emmut flood, who represented
president bill clinton during his impeachment, will replace ty cobb as the lead white house lawyer in the special counsel investigation. here to walk us through the latest developments is robert costa of "washingtoweek" and the "washington post." bob costa, i'll get it right eventually. >> i'm wearing many hats. >> woodruff: yes, you are. so why is this happening? why is ty cobb leaving? >> it comes down to president trump. this is a major shift, judy, in the president's legal strategy. he wants to be more combative, talking to white hou advisors tonight. team around have a him that counters robert mueller and the special counsel investigation, that moves away from ty cobb and his strategy of cooperation. with rudy giuliani, the former new york mayor in there, emmut flood, a veteran rawier known for takg a tough line on
impeachment proceedings in federal in shows you where the president wants to go. >> woodruff: there's been aam faint of shuffle ling. i've lost count on how many a gttorneys have come andone on the president's various legal teams. does this reflect a change or a different moment in this investigation? because, up until now, it seemed the president was content to follow this cooperation strategy, but something change >> something did change. my colleagues and i reported t yesterdt, in early march, mueller threatened to subpoena president trump if he decided to decline a voluntary interview. ever since then you've had the raid of michael cohen, the president's long-ti lawyer, and that pushed the president away from cooperating with robert mueller. n he has aig decision to make, will he sit for the interview or not? oday i talked with giuliani at e presidentsaid if th sits for the interview, big if, it will be about two hours max
and a narrow set of questions. you see a lot of questions negotiated through the press and privately. >> woodruff: there's been a lot of reporting as to what extent the mueller tm has telegraphed to the president's lawyers or told them what he wants from themio, what que he will ask or not. do we now have a good sense o what mueller wants to know from the president? >> we do. mueller's team has informed the predent's team that they'd like to know about key decisions he has made as president, including the firing of former f.b.i. director james comey. what they really want to learn from the president and why it's so important, the federal investigators say, for the beforeent to sit dow them is they want to know his intent -- did he have corruptnt inhen it came to certain decisions, like comey, to get rid ofey bibecause of bad management in his eyes as president of the f.b.i corrupt intent to rupture the investigations into russian interference? that's what the special counsel
is tryinggure out, and they feel they need the president to speak directly tot hem about that. >> woodruff: it sounds as if the white house, especially for the president, the antennae are up and on alert and worried where this could lead to. >> very much on alert. red flags going up. emmut flood is not the kind of lawyer who auld encourag president to sit down for an .nterview, ty cobb was that kind of lawy these kind of disagreements have consumed the respect's inner circle for months, leading to the resignation of john dowd,ea president'sattorney on russia in late march. >> woodruff: what is it aboutf od that you think was appealing to the president? >> flood is close to whe house counsel doghn . flood is wary of opening up the white house tocrutiny. you have mcghan, flood as someone who understands it's perhaps the white house
prerogative to exert executive privilege and protect itselfin this investigation, at least more than it has been in some of the eyes over the insiders. whu were reporting in the last few minutes o was going on with regard to the president getting more and more concernede about the faiof the justice department, specifically deputy general rod rosenstein to cooperate to turn over documents that certain republican members of congress want from him. fills in quickly on that. >> it's a complicated story. briefly, there's a paper fight between kong and the department of justice related to documents in the russia and a few other investigations. the cloud over all of it is n,ey're trying to go after rod rosensthe deputy attorney general, who also oversees the mueller probe. so as they fight overocuments, it risks putting the russia probe with bob mueller at risk if rod rosenstein i removed as the manager. there's a lot of political and gal chess going ond you have to read up on all of it,
but that's what's happening. >> woodruff: soei rosen spoke before a group yesterday, we saw clips of it on television, it was record, essentially he was saying i'm going to let thegnvestigation forward, what the justice department should be doing. he didn't sound as if he was preparing to turn the documents over. >> he's not. the department of justice said today they're not giving congress the docume the scope to have the mueller investigation, something that's come up in the paul manafort trial, and that has alarmed trump allies on capitol hill like mark meadows, who speaks regularly to president trump, and they're warning of impeachment proceedingsgainst rosenstein if he doesn't comply. so we're if a tense moment between the d.o.j. and the house g.o.p. >> woodruff: what the rod rosenstein was removed? >> it's a long way away.
speaker ryan could prevent it on the house floor, butt would be unprecedented to have a federal official who wasn't acused of bribery, the usual impeachment a proceedings fudge or something like that, for a document fight to lead to impead ment. it wobe to say the least historic. woodruff: bob costa, "washington week" and "the washington post." so much to follow. thank you very much. >> thank you. >> woodruff: a may 12 deadline ldeooms for pre trump: he must decide whether to maintain a suspension of crippling sanctions lifted on iran as part of the 2015 iran nuclear deal. ieyf re put back in place, that would be a violation of the agreement, which froze iran's program. on monday, one of the deal's
harshest critics, israeliberime ministeamin netanyahu, alleged that documents, stolen by israel from tehran, show iran retains the blueprints for restarting its program. so where do we stand 10 dads from the ne? for answers we rn to former energy secretary ernest moniz; he was a key member of e american negotiating team that struck the deal. he is now c.e.o. of the nucle threat initiative. ernest moniz, welcome to the yogram. >> tha. >> woodruff: so you're heard, you're very familiar with what the israeli prime minister henjamin netanyahu had to say, how escribed all these documents, these computer dis taken from iran. what do you make of all that? >> well, first of all, of course, we all knew iran had a weapons program. our intligence agencies declared that if 2007, the i.a.e.a. the international inspectors said they had a
structured program. so there was no deception here in the sense of their having a program, and i might say just up front that we went into the negotiation, of course, knowing that and, last week, secretary mattis said i read the agreemena it sounds like an agreement made for a cheater. so this i not untrust. now, what the prime minister put forward, of course, may have some additional information on people, on places, et cetera, and all of those must be run to the ground, and the j.p.o.a., the iran agreement. >> woodruff: the iran agreement. >> -- puts in place the process to do that. so indeed, my view, the prime minister's presentation provides more reason why we need, in fact, to stay in the iran agreement. >> woodruff: so when the prime minister sas is just proof that the iranians are going to be able to make a bomb once this deal expires, is he not accurate
about that? >> no, he is not, for a couple of reasons. first of all, you don't make bombs with papers and c.d.s, you make them with nuclear mat tial, and agreement did not, i might just say, just freeze the iranian program, it rolled it back dramatically to the point where, even if they went full out, no subterfuge whatsoever, it would take them at let a year just to assemble the nuclear material for a bomb. that's the first point. the second point may be even more consequential. 15 years aftergrhe ament, restrictions on iran's peaceful nuclear actities go away. but we are not back to where we e.re bef now we have the world's most intrusive verificon regime, and that's really central. if you think about it, if iran wanted a nuclear weapon, they're not going to do it in the open,
they're going to do it covertly. the agreement is what gives the internationalnspectors the tools to go anywhere in iran and have access i want i wanted to ask you about the so-called sunset clause which is what happens after the deal expires hen effect becausergument is, by the critics, that all bets are off and iran can g right back to what it was doing to what it was doing before. your point is that they won't be able to do this. >> correct. there is no sunset in the agreement. what doephase out in various steps ten years, 15 years, 20, 25 years, are various specific elements of what they can do. but what receins in p forever is first of all their commitment to not have a nuclear weapon, secondly their forwearing weaponization activities, but most important they must follow something called the additional protocol. basically that means the international inspectors can go
to undeclared nuclear sites and, uniquely, iran must provide access in a fixed time period. >> woodruff: let me cite aco ent made in the last day or so by the former deputy head of the international atomic energy agency. you know him very well, the i.a.e.a., his name is ali honin. he says some of the images the israelis have show pieces of equipment directly related to nuclear weapons work that had not been previouslyisclosed. is that your understanding? >> so, actually, the same gentleman also said, upon seeing ese presentation, that he just saw a lot of picthat he had seen before. so, again, as i said, the full cache of information may certainly contain information on individuals, on equipment, on places that maybe we didn't know about before, but, again, we knew they had a weapons program, numbeo,one. number e need to run all of those elements he refers to
into the ground. iran is, frankly, in a tough spot. ey've got to explain all of this, and that's why we need the process that the agreement put in place with the i.a.e.a., with something called the joint commission of the negotiating cesountnd, ultimately, the u.n. security council. >woodruff: well, another point ali honiny is making, he said what you're looking at is much more extensive than what was kwn before. he said now it's clear iran has new locations that the i.a.e.a. definitely has not visited before and he's going to on to say a country party to this forel nonproliferation treaty should maintain all this because it violates the spirit of the treaty. in other words, he's saying ohere are troubling pieces of information that from what the israelis turned up. >> again, i think the iranians have toe put on the spot to explain why these archives were
maintained after they, in the agreement and the supreme leader said, we willr neve a nuclear weapon. >> woodruff: what if president trump says ths. u is withdrawing from the nuclear deal? >> i think it would beragic or a couple of reasons. one, it will take away the process at the we need right now, in fact, to explore the information in the israeli information. wedget will drive a between the united states and vr allies in europe, and it will y, very messy because, on the one hand, the european governments, u.k., france, germany, have all mad ce ar while iran is in compliance, we should be working with them to keep them in compliance. at the same time, their own companies will be subject to sanctions from the unit states, and this is a very, vero p-- >> woodruff: these are private companies doing business in
iran? >drexactly. >> wf: so i'm asking you, because we just saw in washington last we preside macron of france, chancellor merkel of germany both mere talking to the president, it seems it's been reported they are working somesort of fallback plan if the u.s. does pull out. so liat's a possiy. >> i think the president put forward a bunch of desires in terms othe europeantions with the united states. most of them, the europeans, i think are quite prepared to go with us on and, very d importantly, think it was shown if the joint strikes in syria with the u.k. and france that they want to work with us in pushing back on iran. but they don't wan to violate the agreement. >> woodruff: very, very quickly. tally different subject. similar subject but a different part of the world, north korea. you followed these nuclear developments around the world. is it your -- do you believe that the north koreans may be ready to denuclearize, as they
are suggesting to some negotiators? >> at a may. they made statements about having deterrent complete and n fcusing on the economy, i think we have to play it out, but it's the same as iran, don't trust and verify, ever have, verify. for north korea,hat will be, i might say, etch a greater cha, the verification, than with iran. >> woodruff: ernestoniz, former u.s. secretary of energy. thank you very much. >> thank you. >> woodruff: stay with us, cominup on the newshour: new revelations about the e.p.a. head's qu lobbyists.ealing with and an inside look at a website that churns out hyperpartisan content picked up on social media. when someone is charged with a crime but can afford an
attorney, the court provides a public defender. but what if that public defender already has too many clients to serve as competent representation? that's a situation playing outa in states, including missouri, where public defendera started refusing cases, throwing a wrench in the machinery of the crimil justice system. john yang has that story, produced by frank carlson and with support from the pulitzer center on crisis reporting and part of our continuing coverage on "broken justice." >> yang: in december, rayshod ashton was arrested in platte county, missouri, charged with rngisting arrest and assaul a police officer. uhenable to make bond already spent four months in jdeail when his publinder told him that his caseload was so heavy, he wouldn't have time to take se to trial for another six month >> like six months now i could
tmaotally repair all the don already been-- you know this is my life rht here right here.he i mean's a room full of 40 guys here who haven't been sentenced. they're all just waiting on the next thing to happen. it's a waiting game. i'm just sitting here waiting. >> yang: the sixth amendment of the u.s. constitution guarantees every american facing trial the right to lawyer, even if they cannot afford one. the supreme court enshrined that right into law with its landmark 1963 ruling in the case gideon vs. wainwright. one way society meets thatns resility is with public defenders. but across the country that system is being stretched to the breaking point, underfunded and overworked.
missouri may well be ground zero, the state's publiefc dder system widely seen as nearly broken.. the state ranks 49th out in peri capita spe on indigent defense. last year, its 320 public defenders handled 80,000 cases;h on average mor 240 cases each. liste to these lawyers in th public fenders office in jackson county, the state's biggest district, which includes kansas city. >> over the next six weeks i have some very, very serious trials. >> they deserve a lot more attention than i give them. >> i think i have six murder cases right now. >> too many for me to be prepared for. >> yang: do you feel you're able to give them all the time they deserve?
> i don't know if this is a long answer that you're asking for here. no is the simple answer. >> yang: michael barrett is head of missouri's public defender system. >> defendants routinely sit in jail for weeks just before they meet their attorney and we tell them that we are very eagur to work on ase but it's going to be a while because there's an awful lot of people in front of you. >> yang: in 2016, barrett convinced the republican- l tegislatugrant him more money for his office. and when then-governor jay nixon slashed that increase, barrett tok a bold step. >> i wanted to bring attention tobehis matteuse so many people were be incarcerated without competent representation. but before i pointed a private lawyer who didn't cause this t problem i thought i'd stith the one person with a law license in the state who could do something to fix it.
jay nixon h been recruited be a state public defender. >> missouri's lead public defender ordered missouri governor jay nixon to represent a poor >> yang: the courts said barrett didn't have to power to do that, but he made his point. now, the courts are considering a $20 million class-action suit the american civil liberties union filed against the state. the fe plaintiffs, all represented in criminal court by rublic defenders, say the constitutional rights were violated by long delays and barrett acknowledges that when defenders are handling as many as 200 cases at a time, there's no way they can fulfill their professional and ethical duties to their clients. >> you have to go visit with your client. you have t that your client faces. you have to investigate the case. you haveo meet with witnesses you have to talk to the police officer you have to file motions you have to receive the evidence that the prosecution has and then discuss the evidence with your client.
to think that you can do eh one of those steps in 150 cases is absolutely ridiculous. >> yang: as a result, defendants like rayshod ashton often end up pleading to crimes they say they didn't commit, just to get out of jail. it's called "pleading to daylight." >> i was in jail four months already and by the time they came with a deal that n,s sis probat just took it, pretty much knowing i wasn't guilty of the charges being brought about. >> yang: after csolving those harges with his probation plea, ashton remains detained, waiting for his public defender thelp him address other charges. the issue of overworked public defenders office has been building for years. now, it's come to a head.l ast summer, the missouri supreme court sent shockwaves through the ystem by sanctioning a public defender for neglecting clients. david weigert has been a public defender in jackson county for six years.
>> this whole thing is a ticking time bomb for all of us. it is probably due to our clients inexperience with the system that they don't know how to file proper bar complaints against us that allows us to keep going with the system in which we don't give them prer service. >> yang: on the day we visited, 16-year defender laura o'sullivan was headi tngcourt to tell a judge that, given her workload and ethicalre onsibilities, she couldn't take on another client. >> most of the time they're denying our request to decline the cases. i think there's a there's a bit caey don't know what to do. >> yang: that's se judges themselves are graded on how quickly they move cases, putting public defenders and sitting judges at odd some judges and prosecutors say that the problem wi missouri public defenders offices isn't
too little money or too few people. hey say it's too much mismanagement. >> and i think that you have to do more with less. >> yang: dwight scroggins served as a public defender before becoming the prosecuting attorney in buchanan county, north of kansas city, 28 years ago. he puts the blame for delays on ts.he public defend >> i think the public defender's tedhinking is limo we have a lot of cases we need more money. we need more attorneys. and guess what? they've gotten over the years more money and more attorneys and what are they saying? you have to start looking somewhere along the line at efficiencies. >e > yang: while it's tat since 1994, funding for the state public defenders office hnuas con to grow, so has the number of cases the office handles. wch leads to the question, how many cases are too many? >> missouri is the epicenter of this whole movement to end this abandonment of the rule of law.
>> yang: stephen hanlon is a longtime pro-bono attorney who serves as counsel to the national association for public defense, whose membership includes 16,000 public defenders. by auditing the work of both public anprivate defense attorneys in missouri, and three other states, he's developed a standard for how many hours should be spent oa case. the results are striking. >> defenders generally have between a third and a fifth of the resources that they need. stetrician has three t five times as many cases as he or she can handle competently terrible things will happe a public defender with people's liberty at stake has three to five times as many cases as he can handle coibidently. terr things will happen. >> yang: eventually lead to reforms in
what he sees as the systematic, unconstitutional and racist underfunding of indigent defense across the nation. >> you cannot do mass incarceration unless the whole justice system rolls over and plays dead. : >> ya the meantime, defendants like rayshod ashton continue to wait for their day in court. >> like we are-- we're your sons and your cousins and the whole time. aunnd there's a whole of pods over there that are your daughters and moms. i don't understand how this is continuing to be the case er and over again. >> refrain for those who must rely on public defenders to represent them in court. for the pbs newshour, i'm john yang in kansas city, missouri.
>> woodruff: e.p.a. administrator scott pruitt has been under heavy scrutiny for the way he has spent money on travel, s for staff.pay raises he'facing at least 11 investigations related to a number of such matters. ow, as william brangham tells us, pruitt's in the spotlight yet again, this time over a trip t>o morocco. > brangham: the "washington post" and others reported that pruitt's trip to north africa last december was arranged in part by his longtime friend, former comcast lobbyist, richard smotkin. a few months after the trip, according to the post, smotkin was awarded a $40,000-a-month contract with the moroccan government. federal laws prohibit public officials from using government resources to financially befit their friends. but the e.p.a. has insisted the trip was proper and that pruitt dw id not fully kout smotkin's ties to the moroccan government.
the purpose of the trip hy been publiestioned by some lawmakers, and so was its cost, which reptedly topped $100,000. juliet eilperin of thst "washington helped break this most recent story about scott pruitt. welcome. >> hello. >> brangham: what else to you tell us about the trip tooc m and the questions about it? >> dollar lot of interesting aspects of this trip, but i wld start with the fact that first of all many people, as you oted, questioned why t administrator was going there. it is true he did spend part of his time working on a bilateral trade agreement tween morocco and the u.s. however, according to the eporting at the we've done, he was very focused on the issue of natural gas exports from the united states to morocco what he focused on in the runup to the trip and also while he was there and, again, much of this trip was arranged by richard smotkin. so as much as a friend of his who has worked as a lobbyist in
different capacities and both some of the infortion we got today as well as yesterday shows that he was intimately involved in essentially serving as a liaison between the moroccan gt overnmd pruitt's top aides, both as they were trying to decide what he would and once they arrived at block o he joned them, whether a constant presence at social events as well as some of the official meetings on the itinerary. >> brangham: the question would be, i guess, smotkin helps arrange the trip and in some way helps pruitt get to morocco wd a onths later smotkin gets this lucrative contract.t' tthe ethical question here? >> yes, that's the most pressinh eal question raised on this. he registered as a foreign agent last months but retroactive to january first, so two weeksa fter they returnedo the united states and the liaison he worked with in t runup to the trip who is on there is the person who ultimately gave him the
contractsh >> branghamting gears a bit. two of scott pitt's top aides recently resigned. who were they and the timing of this? >> this week two of pruitt's top aides are formally leaving the ae.p.a. includingert calkelly, one of his top des who oversaw the superfund program and the initiative mr. pruitt has been pursuing which he has been very fosed on and pas paschal prada, both p advisors to the administrator, both who weighed in on issues as hiring and strategy. mr. prada was scheduled to meet with house investigators and has come under great scrutiny for some of the r which led to mr. pruitt's first
classravel and oth activities. and mr. kelly who by all accounts had taken a serious role, a policy-oriented role at the department is under scrutiny for some of his financial dealings back in oklahoma. >> as we said initlly, scott ruitt is under 11 different investigations, and manyw dered why he is still in this job, but obviously the predent still has full faith in him. many pointed out this is pbably because he has b so tenacious in undoing president obama's environmental regulations. one has beenowering, apparently, the fuel emissions standards for automobiles. this was a big part of thebama legacy and something that scott pruitt has been rolling back on. this week california and 16th o states said they are going to file suit to try to block the e.p.a. from lowering the national standards. from an automaker perspective, if you are looking and wondering at california and some states
anand e.p.a. arguing something e blse, it has tough on the industry. >> yes, a few yars we're talking about model 2022 which goes on salen 2021, so on one level they didn'tsk initially the trump administration to potentially roll back the standards but now, given that california and the states allied wit compose a tired of the o nation's arket, they're trying to figure out what kind of cars they will be producing and for whom and thatakes these decisions difficult. >> woodruff: juliet eiltrin, hank you so much for helping us to wade through all this. >> you're welcome. >> woodruff: now to our deep dive on the continuing problem of false or misleading news, or what you might call junk news. much of the attention has centered on facebook.
nd yesterday, the company's founder and c.e.o., mark zuckerberg, told "wired" magazine it may take up to three years to fully prevent all kinds of harmful content from affecting people's newsfeeds. tonight, miles o'brien's latest report profiles a man who's been a leadinpurveyor of junk news, and how he has been eebloiting facook to reach an audience. it's part of our weekly series on the leading edge of technology. >> there has been a shooting at a high school in parkland >> right now we have 5,300 people and change on the website. >> reporter: it was a busy day at the of the internet's most prolific saistributors of hyper par fare. y likeually, in a st this, we do actually beat the a for these sorts of breaking new events. >> reporter: it was the day of the high school shootings in parkland florida, and as the horrific events unfolded, cyrus
massoumi was spinning factspo ed by others to fit the worldview of his audience. >> you can see that like he is wearing a make america great again hat, and he has lots of photos of guns, so obviousl this is going to be a very controversial issue. >> reporter: his site is called uth examiner. and it caters to liberals, with headlines like this designed to entickce clion stories with little substance. his writers are among the five most successful at luring those clicks on facebook. people want to read those lines to reaffirm their beliefs, rht? >> correct. >> reporter: and that is not rocket science, is it? >> it's not rocket science, but doing it ster and better than ycoour etitors is an art. >> reporter: lately, truth examiner has added something else to the formula; a steady stream of conspiracy theories; ironically, accusing the trump aiodministrof peddling fake
news. minassoumi has thrivehis murky world for eight years, hedging his bets, serving up grist for liberals and conservatives through various facebookages. >> they wan250-word, little -- hit them and go! just give me my little-- it's like basically like a coke addict. like a coke addict, it's like gvery hour he just needs that little dopamine rush. like a fan on the conservative side or the liberal side neths to take ouir phone, look at it, "oh, trump sucks. trump sucks, so bad. all right, all right, i'm done, i'm done" and then-- right? like, that's it. hat's it. >> reporter: people don't care about the facts. >> yeah, of course. people don't care about facts. take it to the bank. >> reporter: he estimates he has spent over a million dollars in ds, reached over 100 million people, and has made several million dollars by selling that audience to advertisers on his own site and on facebook. do you create fake news? >> no.
no, i don't. >> reporter: tell me what it is, then.? >> always inflammatory, excluding facts from the other side, but never fake. my team, they don't cover news thgles which are favorable to opposition in same way cnn would never cover a favorableng to trump or msnbc. >> reporteinr: he livehe home where he grew up, on a nine acrvineyard in napa, california. >> we grow a brand of cabernet which is, i'm told, very nice ai'lthough m not a wine person. >> report: he is a self escribed cultural libertarian, fre thinker and lover of politics. for him, it all started in high school. he was selling anti-obama t- shirts and decided facebook was a good way to reach more customers. it worked-- he learned how to build an audience facebook, dropped the t-shirts and created mr. conservative, his first
hyperpartisan site. >> so, i'm a marketer with a love of politics. and you know, i contend that marketers will be the king of the future of media. i think that the danger is not the russians or the macedonians. but the actual danger is when you have a marketer who doesn't love politics. >> reporter: producer cameron hickey found cyrus massoumi during our 16 month itinvestiga of hyper partisan misinformation on facebook. cameron's key reporting tool: software than he wrote that yzes social media, looking for the sources of what we cal"" junk news." >> it's clear that a lot of the publishers are domestic, and i te'hink given a lot of attention to russian disinformation or macedonian teenage profiteers, but both of those groups, i think, learned it from these guys. tt hey've learnedom americans who have been long profiting on partisan information or other kinds of junk. >reporter: social network allows us all to bypass the
traditional arbiters of truth that evolved in the 20th centu. >> historically, our information ltrandscape has beeal. we turn to the people that are like us, the people that we karnow, the peoplnd us, to make sense of what is real and what we believe in. >> reporter: computer sentist danah boyd is president and founderf data & society. >> and what we're seeing now with the network media landscape is the ability to move back towards extreme tribalism. and there are whole variety of actors, state actors, non-state actors, who are happy to move along a path whe people are actually not putting their faith in institutions or inrmation intermediaries and are instead turning to their tribes, to their communities. >> reporter: cyrus massoumi's first big jackpot exploiting this trend toward tribalism was linked to yet another mass shooting at a school, this one in sandy ho, connecticut in 2012. in the midst of that horror, he
bought a facebook ad that asked u a question do and against the assault weapons ban? if so, click like. tidhose whoecame subscribers to his page, insuring his content would rise to the top of their newsfee he had bought thousands of fans at a very low price. >> i felt subsequently that i built my first business, sort of if you want to call it, "on the grave were killed."dren who >> reporter: well, how do you w el about that? >> i don't know people feel about things that they do badly? i feel bad about it, but i mean we do what we do to pay the mortgage, right? >> reporter: the strategy massoumi helped pioneer sprea like virtual wildfire. by 2016, marketers, politic operatives and state actors were all using the same playbook of hyped headlines, political propaganda and outright falsehoods. >> they were all in an environment together, a melting pot, if you will.
and with a whole set of really powerful skills, when they saw a reality tv star start to run for president and that's pretty funny, that's pretty interesting. and so, it was fun to create spectacle. >> reporter: the stage was set for the 2016 presidential election and an unprecedented misinformation campaign waged on several fronts. back in napa, cyrus massoumi was doing well, running a conrvative page called truth monitor along with the liberal txaruthner. massoumi says anger is what gkeenerates " and the conservative stories were more lucrative. >> conservatives are angrier people. >> reporter: tell me about that? >> do you ever seen a trump rally on tv? >> rorter: yes. >> yeah, it's gold. >> reporter: but since the election, the conservative side of dssoumi's business has dr up. hatis site sed to offer that content has moved into feel good stories.
he says competitionmong conservative hyperpartisan sites created a junk news arm making the content too extreme to be ranked favorably by the facebook newsfeed algorithm. >> on the conservative side, hink that we were at one point publishing low-quality clickbait. what the conservative t volved into. >> reporter: ispatriotic to do it? > to publish low quality clickbait? i think that people like what they like. and my goal at one point was to deliver to them what they like, and unfortunately, the reality of that is just that people are prone to go for the lowest common denominator. >> reporter: but for cyrus massoumi, the target really doesn't matter, so lo as he hits the mark. ing up anger, no matter which side, is very good for
busi ahead as we continue our series, y oou'll meet tthe fansb aought by cyrus massoumi: deep blue liberal from brooklyn and christian conservative from indianapolis. for the pbs newshour, i'm miles o'brienn napa, california. >> woodruff: miles' series on facebook and junk news ntinues next week. you can watch part one and find more reporting onur website pbs.org/newshour. >> woodruff: now to our newshour shares, something that ca eht o that might be of interest to you. workers at a constructiostn site iles from the nation's capital recently unearthed some long-forgoen treasures dating back to our nation's founding. our julia griffin explains. >> reporta: in old town
lexandria these days, the pulse of progress means helmets, backhoes, and 18th century ships? >> behind us is construction in pgyrogress but also archaeon progress. >> reporter: eleanor breen is acting city archaeologist for historic alexandria. wvehen pers want to dig on culturally significant land in r team ensures archaeologists are on hand to identify and help preserve any dhiiscovereorical artifacts. >> with a lot of scrapes of the trowel and scoops of the shovel, tunhere's history orthed. but what's being found here is rkaeally particularly reme. >> reporter: remarkable because in foundations and paved alleyways, the archaeogists at this site discovered not one, but three ships from the 1700's hidden in he dirt. but the 12 to 25-foot wide hulls are not long-forgotten shipwrecks. >> it was actually a fairly common practice going back
centuries to take derelict ships and chop them up and actuall use large fragments of the hull as part of a framework to fill in ground and make new land that didn exist before. >> reporter: this map, drawn by a young george washington, shows alexandria's natural shoreline with its shallow mudflats in 1748. by the early 1800's, alexandrians added 10 new city blocks to the waterfront that continue to exist today. >> to be a premier port city, they needed to get more land chaloser to that deeperel of the potomac river. it was much easier to get the cargo off of the ships if you can bring the land to the ship as opposed to sthller ships to land. >> reporter: today, the trio of unearthed ships, likely cargo v, esset just south of what had been point lumley. nthow exposedonce- waterlogged timber's must be kept moist at all times to p drevent warping andradation. archaeologists are now removing
the hulls piece-by-and storing them in tanks of water, jusas they did with another revolutionary war-era ship found a block away in 2015. that ship is now at texas a&m undergoing a years-long conservation ocess to prepare the fragile beams for study and display. where the new ships end up has yet to be determined. but for breen, the painstaking measures to preserve them are well worth the effort. >> i think there's something in our culture about this seafaring days of discovery that captures people's attention when they see such large fragments of veels in the ground. >> reporter: city officials hope all the ships could one day be put on exhibit for modern-day alexandrians to enjoy. for the pbs newshour, i'm julia griffin in alexandria, virginia. >> woodruff: on the newshour online right now, a newshour reporter spends a week only consuming media from radio
sputnik, a russian government- funded outlet widely seen by experts as a vehicle to disseminate disinformation for the kremlin. that and more is on our web site, pbs.org/newshour. and that's the newshour for ton on thursday, "the assault on intelligence"-- we talk with firormer c.i.a.tor michael hayden about the agency in the trump presidency. i'm judy woodruff. join us online and again here tomorrow evening. for allf us at the pbs ewshour, thank you and see you soon. >> major funding for the pbs newshour has bn provided by: >> consumer cellular believes that wireless plans should reflect the amount of talk, texu and data that se. we offer a variety of no- contract wireless plans for people who use their phone a little, a lot, or anything in between. to learn more, go to consumercellular.tv >> babbel.
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♪ >> there are 1.4 billion people in china, 230 million of them under the age of 14. when we talk about china's future, we often talk about new technology, new cities, new developments, but none of that would mean much without then factor. this is a typical primary school in chengdu. it has 2,000 students. [ speaking chinese ] these are the rising sta of china, next on "yan can cook." ♪ ♪ >> [ speakinchinese ] ♪ ♪