PBS NewsHour full episode, July 15, 2022
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Good evening. I'm William Brangham. Judy Woodruff is away. On the "NewsHour" tonight: a major blow. West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin imperils the White House agenda by refusing to support action on climate change. Then: Biden abroad.
The president travels to Saudi Arabia and holds a controversial meeting with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. And it's Friday. David Brooks and Jonathan Capehart weigh in on Senator Manchin's decision, the January 6 hearings, and the widening divide on abortion rights in America.
All that and more on tonight's "PBS NewsHour." (BREAK) WILLIAM BRANGHAM: President Biden has ratcheted back expectations tonight for any substantive action on climate change in an economic package. In a statement, he says congressional Democrats should accept a slimmed-down bill cutting drug prices and extending health insurance subsidies. That's after Democratic Senator Joe Manchin effectively blocked a larger bill that included major climate provisions. Manchin said he'd only support the drug and health care sections. We will take a closer look after the news summary.
Democrats in the House of Representatives approved two bills today to restore abortion rights nationwide, but they're expected to stall in the Senate. One bill expands on protections provided by Roe v. Wade before the Supreme Court overturned it. The second bill protects the right to travel across state lines for abortion services.
Support for the measures fell almost entirely along party lines. REP. DEBBIE LESKO (R-AZ): As a mother and grandmother, I can tell you that preborn babies are unquestionably human lives, and they are lives worth defending. REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): Right now, American women have less freedom than their mothers.
By passing this legislation, the Democratic House is standing on the side of freedom for women and for every American. WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Neither bill has much chance in the Senate, where Republicans have the votes to block the measures. The presidential mission to the Middle East has moved on to Saudi Arabia, after meetings with Israeli and Palestinian leaders. President Biden arrived in Jeddah today and met with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who greeted him with a fist bump. The president had sharply criticized the prince over the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, a journalist based in the U.S. We will get a detailed report on the days developments later in the program.
In Iraq, thousands of Shiites descended on a Baghdad suburb today for mass prayers in a show of protest against a political stalemate in Iraq. Worshipers from across the country answered the call of Muqtada al-Sadr. The influential Shiite cleric's faction won last October's elections, but resigned after failing to form a government. Residents of a city Vinnytsia in Central Ukraine spent this day grieving for 23 people killed in a Russian missile strike. Dozens more were wounded in Thursday's attack. Today, police took DNA samples from the rubble to identify victims.
Survivors struggled to understand why they were targeted, including a woman whose 4-year-old niece was killed. TETYANA DMITRISHYNA, Vinnytsia Resident (through translator): I don't understand why there is such hatred toward us. We didn't do anything to anyone.
We never attacked. We lived peacefully and worked. We Ukrainians are hardworking people. We love to work. We never threatened anyone. Why so? Why did Russia do this to us? I simply cannot explain it.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: The attack on Vinnytsia was the latest in a series of deadly Russian attacks on civilians in Ukraine. Health officials across Southern Europe sounded the alarm today over fierce heat waves. Spain alone reported at least 84 suspected heat deaths in the last three days, where temperatures have topped 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Wildfires in Spain and other countries are also feeding off the hot, dry, and windy conditions. Hundreds more people had to evacuate their homes today.
Back in this country, an autopsy report released today shows police in Akron, Ohio, shot a Black man, Jayland Walker, 46 times during a confrontation last month. Officers have said they tried to stop Walker's car for alleged equipment violations. They say he fired a gun, then jumped out of his car and ran.
That was before he was killed by the barrage of police gunfire. The NAACP is asking for a federal civil rights investigation into the killing. Nearly 1,500 monkeypox cases have now been confirmed in the U.S., as federal officials and leaders scramble to deliver more vaccines.
The CDC today projected a continued rise in cases now that testing has ramped up. The virus spreads through close contact and is now in more than 60 countries where it was not already endemic. On Wall Street, major stock averages rose nearly 2 percent or more on encouraging data about consumer expectations. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 658 points to close at 31288. The Nasdaq rose 201 points. The S&P 500 added 72.
And sports legend Jim Thorpe was formally reinstated today as winner of the decathlon and pentathlon in the 1912 Olympics. He won his gold medals at the Stockholm Games, but was stripped of them later because he had played minor league baseball for pay, which was then a violation of Olympic rules. Thorpe was the first Native American to win an Olympic gold medal for the United States. He died in 1953.
Still to come on the "NewsHour": what Senator Joe Manchin's opposition means for the fight against climate change; Sri Lanka's future remains tenuous as the president resigns amid widespread protests; David Brooks and Jonathan Capehart weigh in on the week's news; plus much more. As we reported, Democratic Senator Joe Manchin has ruled out backing key funding proposals for his party's action on climate change. Our Capitol Hill correspondent Lisa Desjardins is here for more on this blow to the president's domestic agenda might play out. Hi, Lisa. LISA DESJARDINS: Hi.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: So, Joe Manchin says he's not going to do it. What is the latest? LISA DESJARDINS: OK, lots to talk about. President Biden was just asked about this in Saudi Arabia. He sidestepped the question overall, and just said he himself is going to now try to do what he can as president.
But let's remind everyone what just happened in the last 24 hours. We are talking about that Build Back Better idea that started as such a huge idea last fall, kept getting smaller and smaller because of Senator Joe Manchin largely. And over in the last couple of months, they have been talking about two ideas, adding some health care and climate provisions. Let's look at what now is in it, based on what we know about Senator Joe Manchin, who is the decisive vote here.
Now, this is where we are. First of all, still in this package is Medicare negotiation of drug prices. That is a big deal. Also still in this package, Joe Manchin still supports the Affordable Care Act subsidies that need -- that are going to run out at the end of the year.
He would extend those. But, no, he says in the last day, he will not support climate change provisions in this and also no to increasing taxes on the wealthy. You notice that says for now.
The reason is he says that he wants to review where the economy is in August, more or less, and perhaps then he would think about this again. WILLIAM BRANGHAM: So Lisa, on those climate change provisions specifically, as you mentioned, this is not the massive Build Back Better. But, still, the things that he said no to were substantive, some of the most major steps the federal government might have taken on climate change. What was it that got dropped out? LISA DESJARDINS: Right.
So, in the fall, we lost that portion, or the Democrats lost that portion that was having a renewable standard across this country, very big chunk. But what has been dropped more recently is just as large. Let me explain what was on the table two days ago and no longer is, climate change provision that would be tax incentives, $300 billion. That would be the largest in U.S. history for this issue.
Those include incentives for things like manufacturing, so how they pump out emissions from plants, homes, travel. Almost all parts of American life could have been affected by this. And there was one estimate that said that this would have cut power emissions by some 74 percent over 2009 levels.
So what we're talking about here is not just what's in the air, but also business, talking about building of solar industry capacity in this country, building of winds, all of those kinds of ideas. So, also, some jobs are involved here as well. WILLIAM BRANGHAM: I mean, the timing of this really could not be worse. We just experienced the hottest June in recorded history. The U.N. recently said that the world's nations have utterly failed to live up to the commitments they made to cut emissions, and now this.
LISA DESJARDINS: Right. And we talked today to an expert about all of this, in fact, and talking about, where are we? What does this mean for where the world is and where the U.S. is? We talked to Leah Stokes from U.C. Santa Barbara, who's been studying this, and she had a very strong reaction. LEAH STOKES, University of California, Santa Barbara: The climate crisis is already having devastating impacts on our communities and our families. There is a drought in the Western United States that is the worst in a millennium.
We're talking 1,200 years. That's how terrible the drought is right now. We are seeing heat wave smash records all across the country year after year. And those heat waves are killing people. We're seeing hurricanes, flooding, you name it. Climate change is on our doorstep, and the impacts for Americans is just devastating.
LISA DESJARDINS: Remember, President Biden's original goal was to cut America's carbon emissions in half by 2050. That is a big goal and something the world needs to say -- maybe even that isn't enough. But now we're going to be nowhere near that unless there's a program like this that gets renewed, but it's off the table now. WILLIAM BRANGHAM: What did Senator Manchin say was the reason why he backed away from this? LISA DESJARDINS: Right, one man who can stop this, because of the 50/50. Senate. He said it's because of inflation.
He spoke on West Virginia radio today. And here's what he said. SEN. JOE MANCHIN (D-WV): Inflation is absolutely killing many, many people. They can't buy gasoline. They have a hard time buying groceries.
Everything they buy and consume for their daily lives is a hardship to them. And can't we wait to make sure that we do nothing to add to that? And I can't make that decision on -- basically on taxes of any type, and also on the energy and climate, because it takes the taxes to pay for the investment into clean technology that I'm in favor of. LISA DESJARDINS: And, of course, we have been reporting two historic zone figures for inflation just this week. WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Critics of Senator Manchin say he has never wanted to do anything that could hurt the coal industry that is beloved in his state, that he himself also derives a lot of his own personal fortune from the coal industry. They also point out that he gets, I think, one of the largest amounts of donations from the fossil fuel industry. And, thus, all of these things make it so that he has an intense conflict of interests to talk about any of this type of legislation.
What does he say to that? LISA DESJARDINS: He has said, he's admitted that he does have significant income from his company -- his family's business that is invested and works with coal. However, he has said that any business in West Virginia has just as much access to him as the coal companies do. And he has said his concern overall is about fiscal spending and inflation the economy writ large. WILLIAM BRANGHAM: So it's off the table for now. There's still, again, as we always hear from Manchin, the hints that maybe it might come back again. What's next? LISA DESJARDINS: All right, let's talk about where we are, because there are some that still hope that perhaps he will get on board in September.
But there's a calendar issue. So I want to go through that with people. It's important. So here's the Senate's tight calendar coming up. We now have three weeks until they're planning to leave for their August recess. Now, in August, that is the same month by which insurance companies really need to know, will the Affordable Care Act subsidy program be expanded or not? Because that's when they're turning in their rates for next year.
And that's a big deadline for Democrats. They want to figure that out by then. And these two things are tied together, because Democrats get one shot at a reconciliation bill. And look at that.
The deadline for that reconciliation bill is September 30. So, whether there is a bill that is only these health care provisions, or if somehow there's some climate in it, they have to get that done by September 30. And Democrats also have this August deadline. So all of this is very difficult, environmentalists very concerned. They think there's still some kind of hope, but a lot of Democrats -- talking to a senator today, a Democrat, they don't trust Joe Manchin anymore.
They say he's not saying the words no, but we have to understand he's telling us no. WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Lisa Desjardins, thank you so much for getting us through all this. LISA DESJARDINS: You're welcome. WILLIAM BRANGHAM: President Biden has landed in Saudi Arabia and met with King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
It's a delicate diplomacy for an administration that has pledged to put human rights first, but is also dealing with the realities of Saudi influence in the region over oil. Nick Schifrin begins our coverage. NICK SCHIFRIN: The oldest American president and the Middle East's youngest leader began with a fist bump, Mohammed bin Salman, known as MBS, Saudi Arabia's de facto ruler, across from President Biden and his advisers, a photo-op the Saudis wanted, but ended with a reminder of the two countries' tension. QUESTION: Jamal Khashoggi, will you apologize to his family, sir? NICK SCHIFRIN: Despite the interruption, the meeting scheduled for one hour ran for three and produced a series of announcements, opening Saudi airspace to civilian aircraft flying to and from Israel, removing U.S. peacekeepers from a Red Sea island, a move that could help Saudi-Israeli normalization, and the Saudi commitment to extend the truce in Yemen. After, President Biden said the meeting went well, but he also raised the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
JOE BIDEN, President of the United States: He basically said that he was not personally responsible for it. I indicated that I thought he was. NICK SCHIFRIN: When the president landed, he was greeted by a government official, a far cry from the over-the-top reception for former President Trump in 2017 and MBS' personal welcome.
Trump's legacy also played out this morning, when President Biden visited Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. It was a formal red carpet welcome, but Abbas criticized Biden for not reversing Trump's policies. MAHMOUD ABBAS, Palestinian Authority President (through translator): Reopening the U.S. Consulate in East Jerusalem, removing the Palestinian Liberation Organization from the U.S. terrorist
list -- we are not terrorists -- and reopening its office in Washington. NICK SCHIFRIN: President Biden fulfilled none of those requests. Instead, he pledged $100 million for Palestinian hospitals in East Jerusalem and $200 million for the U.N. agency that supports Palestinian refugees. He tried to display empathy, but came up empty on specifics about Israeli-Palestinian peace. JOE BIDEN: So even if the ground is not ripe at this moment to restart negotiations, the United States and my administration will not give up on trying to bring the Palestinians and Israelis and both sides closer together. NICK SCHIFRIN: But today's focus was on Saudi Arabia and the man who will be king.
MBS has engineered some reforms, giving Saudi women more rights, opening up entertainment, and curbing religious extremists. But U.S. officials also believe he's the source of the kingdom's crackdown on its critics and say he approved the murder of Jamal Khashoggi.
Do you believe Saudi Arabia can be a partner to the United States? ABDULLAH ALAOUDH, Saudi Activist: It's absolutely not possible to have such a partner. NICK SCHIFRIN: Abdullah Alaoudh is a Saudi activist. I spoke to him last week in the U.S. ABDULLAH ALAOUDH: I see him as not today a reformer, but rather a deformer, who killed our friend Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul and dismembered him. I didn't see a person like that as a reformer.
NICK SCHIFRIN: Abdullah's father, Salman, is a prominent Muslim scholar who called for change in the Saudi government. He has been held in solitary confinement and faces the death penalty. ABDULLAH ALAOUDH: My father was one of the main and prominent main names that actually theorized about democracy in Islam. And this is the kind of Islam that MBS does not want, although he's claiming he's modernizing.
NICK SCHIFRIN: Another Saudi detained, Suleiman al-Dowaish, a well-known Islamic preacher who criticized King Salman for giving his son too much power. He's been detained since 2016. His son, Malik al-Dowaish, spent years campaigning for his release and was jailed just two weeks ago.
He recorded this video before his arrest. MALIK AL-DOWAISH, Son of Suleiman al-Dowaish (through translator): Disappearance is not a solution. And it's not just to disappear a person from his family for more than five years. ABDULLAH ALAOUDH: Democracy, basically, that's what he wanted. It's nothing strange, nothing weird, nothing radical.
It's simple, straightforward. The Saudi people deserve, like any other people in this planet, democracy, basic liberties, a multiparty system, separations of power, and independent judiciary. It's as simple as this.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: And Nick Schifrin joins me now from the press filing center in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. Nick, great to see you. We just heard how President Biden characterized his discussions with the crown prince about the murder of Jamal Khashoggi. What have Saudi officials been telling you about that? NICK SCHIFRIN: Yes, so, just a few minutes ago, William, I interviewed Adel Al-Jubeir.
He is the minister of state for foreign affairs, effectively the deputy foreign minister here and a longtime leader in foreign affairs in Saudi circles. And he said that that is not what happened. That's not what he saw, at least he heard, in the meeting. He said that President Biden did bring up Jamal Khashoggi, but it was not in the same language. It was certainly not as confrontational as President Biden claimed. And so the two sides clearly are still disagreeing over human rights.
And the bottom line, from the Saudi perspective, is that, is that, yes, President Biden did push MBS on this. MBS said, it wasn't me, and that we have taken steps to tackle the people who MBS claims acted in a rogue fashion. Of course, the U.S. believes that MBS approved that murder himself. WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Separately, Nick, one of the main reasons President Biden is in Saudi Arabia is to pressure the kingdom to ramp up oil production, ostensibly to bring down gas prices elsewhere and here in the U.S.
Have Saudi officials said whether they're going to actually follow through on that ask? NICK SCHIFRIN: Yes, so I think U.S. officials wouldn't use the word pressure. They would use the word discussion about energy security. But, of course, part of that, William, let's be honest, is hoping that Saudi Arabia opens the spigots, so that gas prices in the States can come down.
President Biden tonight said that he believed Saudi officials were on the same page as him. But, again, Adel Al-Jubeir, I asked him specifically whether Saudi Arabia intended to increase production in the next few weeks. And he would not say that Saudi Arabia planned to do that. He said that Saudi Arabia and OPEC had increased production over the last few months already. And independent analysts, William, do note that, between the UAE and Saudi Arabia, even if there were some increase, it would not necessarily lead to easing of prices inside the United States. So, again, President Biden quite confident about what Saudi officials saying.
Saudi officials who I talk to aren't quite so sure. WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Nick, there has also been a lot of talk, as you have been reporting on this trip, about better relations regionally with Israel. Are the Saudis on board with that move? NICK SCHIFRIN: Yes, it's such an interesting question, because we do see Egypt, Jordan, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, the countries that have normalized relations politically with Israel, beginning to share military and intelligence with -- between the militaries and between the intelligence services of those countries. And what that allows them to do, William, is to start to talk about a kind of regional air defense architecture against Iran, Iranian missiles and Iranian drones. Saudi officials are not quite there yet.
I asked Adel Al-Jubeir about that. He says that, we need to see progress in Israel, we need to see peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians, before Saudi Arabia can really, truly normalize with Israel. And that includes kind of behind-the-scenes military intelligence cooperation that U.S. officials tell me is simply not happening, in part because they say King Salman is still alive, William. MBS isn't quite in charge yet.
And so long as King Salman is alive, the people I speak to inside the U.S. government believe that there will be no normalization and no real effort to share military or intelligence between Saudi Arabia and Israel, as the Israelis would like. WILLIAM BRANGHAM: All right, Nick Schifrin joining us from Saudi Arabia.
Thanks so much, Nick. NICK SCHIFRIN: Thanks. WILLIAM BRANGHAM: For more on President Biden's trip to Saudi Arabia, we turn to Randa Slim. She's with the Middle East Institute, which is a Washington, D.C.-based think tank. Randa, great to have you back on the "NewsHour."
You well remember candidate Joe Biden was very critical of the crown prince, calling the kingdom a pariah state for their crackdown on dissent and for the murder of Jamal Khashoggi. And now we see President Biden, as president, fist-bumping the crown prince. What do you make of that dichotomy? RANDA SLIM, Middle East Institute: I mean, I think it is President Biden meeting the reality. And it was words were maybe easy to make during an election campaign. But, definitely, because of the war in Ukraine, because -- and what led -- and what it led, in terms of increase in energy prices, President Biden is facing a reality at home five months before the election of high inflation, high gas prices. And he's hoping or betting on the Saudis and the Emiratis to increase their oil production, hoping that that will help bring down gas prices at home.
And I think that is somehow a -- it's a bet or a hope that is not totally true, partly because price -- energy prices are determined by -- not only by a president asking the Saudis to pump more oil, but also they are determined by Saudis, by Russians, by Emiratis making this decision, in terms of tapping their supplies, based on what works for them and for their economic and strategic interests. So it's not clear to me that, one, they have the spare capacity that can influence the price of oil on the market, as Nick said in his remarks, but, also, I'm not sure whether the Saudis and the Emiratis will be willing to go ahead with the ask of the president, if that ask is counter to their own economic, strategic interests. WILLIAM BRANGHAM: So do you think that the criticism that the president received in advance of this trip is just a lot of hot air? Or do you think that there is a substantive critique to be made that the president maybe ought not to have gone and done a formal presidential visit to the kingdom? RANDA SLIM: I think he ought not have made the remarks he made during the election campaign by promising to put Saudi Arabia -- to make Saudi Arabia a pariah state on the global scene, because, I mean, he must know, as a candidate, as a former V.P., that Saudi Arabia
is an important country in the region, that we have a lot of issues that we need to have -- we need to have their cooperation, in terms whether it's energy, whether it's regional security. Look, the criticism is fair, partly because -- again, because of this mismatch between words and action. And that's a longstanding criticism of American foreign policy, that -- especially in the Arab region, but all over the world, that, when it comes -- when push come to shove, interests always trump our values.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: President Biden has also made a good deal about trying to normalize and harmonize relationships between these different Arab states and Israel. How do you judge thus far this success on that front? RANDA SLIM: You know, I mean, I would say that both, whether it's the Trump administration and now the Biden administration, I think they are trying to ride a bandwagon that was already in motion. Even the Trump administration, which heralded the Abrahamic Accords, I think the countries of the region, be it UAE, Bahrain, Israel, Morocco, the other signatories to the Abrahamic Accord, even Saudi Arabia, have their own interest in having relations with Israel that are not necessarily dictated by the United States. I mean, it is partly against Iran.
But also it's partly about survival of their regime. And it's partly about securing technological cooperation, technological know-how and economic know-how from Israel. So these interests of these countries are some -- are the ones that are dictating their moves towards these, and that dictated their moves towards Accords, Abrahamic Accords, and that will continue to control the tempo of this harmonization between Israel and Arab countries.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: And, Randa Slim, just briefly, President Biden has also promised that he will never allow Iran to develop a nuclear weapon. Is it your sense that the other Arab nations see the threat of a nuclear-armed Iran as severely as the president and as Israel does? RANDA SLIM: No, I don't think so. Going all the way back to 2015 and before that, there was always a disagreement, or, let's say, a different perspective, in terms of priorities, when it comes to Iran. The U.S. and Israel denying Iran nuclear a weapon was their first priority, whereas, for the Arab countries, their first priorities was ballistic missiles program of Iran, the Iran proxy network in the Arab region. And they always felt and bet that the United States and Israel will one day take care of the Iranian nuclear program.
And that partly explained why it was never a priority, whereas they felt that they were abandoned by America, especially during the negotiation in 2015 with Iran, because it did not stress enough their concerns in the deal, meaning the ballistic missiles program of Iran and Iran's proxy network in the Arab region. WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Randa Slim of the Middle East Institute, thank you so much. RANDA SLIM: Thank you. WILLIAM BRANGHAM: The nation of Sri Lanka has slipped into chaos, after months of protests reached a tipping point this week, when protesters took over government buildings and forced the president to resign.
The South Asian island nation of 22 million people is facing one of the worst economic crises since it gained independence in 1948. The prime minister has been sworn in as the acting president, and a new interim government will be elected by Parliament. But, for ordinary Sri Lankans, the struggle continues. Stephanie Sy reports. STEPHANIE SY: In the economically crippled island nation of Sri Lanka, a moment of celebration after weeks of despair. Protesters camped outside government buildings for more than two months are now retreating, their main demand having been met.
President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has resigned. ROWENA JAYAWEERA, Protester: I feel like what we have done for the past few days has affected, has show an effect. They are scared.
STEPHANIE SY: For months, Sri Lankans have been waiting in miles-long lines to get basic goods. At least 16 people have reportedly died while standing in those lines. ROWENA JAYAWEERA: Formula, diapers, everything has -- prices have skyrocketed in such a way that it's very difficult for normal, basic humans of Sri Lanka to get their basic needs and necessities. STEPHANIE SY: Protesters blame the Rajapaksas, who have wielded power in Sri Lanka for nearly two decades, for the country's collapse, accusing them of corruption and gross mismanagement.
Last week, they took a dip in the president's luxurious pool, while 57-year-old Daisy said she struggled for months to find cooking gas. DAISY, Sri Lanka Resident (through translator): It is very difficult. Even though I am a heart patient, I am working with the smoke. STEPHANIE SY: Like 70 percent of Sri Lankans, Daisy's family has had to cut down on food. DAISY (through translator): We are fed up with these things.
When we get up early in the morning, we think of what's going to happen next. Sometimes, we cook using things planted in our home garden. STEPHANIE SY: On the streets of Colombo, a string of vehicles are parked. Gas stations are deserted. There is no fuel.
Shanaka Fernando, a truck driver, has been waiting to get gas for a week. He eats and sleeps here. SHANAKA FERNANDO, Truck Driver (through translator): We are not able to have a bath or go to the washroom. There is no date or day when the petrol will come. We are not able to go to our jobs. There is no way to get an income.
STEPHANIE SY: Sri Lanka owes over $51 billion to foreign creditors and has run out of cash reserves. PAIKIASOTHY SARAVANAMUTTU, Center for Policy Alternatives Sri Lanka: We don't have money to import basic necessities for daily life, like fuel, like gas, like medicine, like food. STEPHANIE SY: Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu is the founder of the Center for Policy Alternatives Sri Lanka. He blames the government for failing its people. PAIKIASOTHY SARAVANAMUTTU: This is what has brought the country to its knees, the combination of the Rajapaksas, gross mismanagement and callous disregard for public sentiment. And now there is no yearning or liking of the Rajapaksas, who were the heroes of yesterday.
STEPHANIE SY: The Rajapaksa family's grip on Sri Lanka began in 2005, when Gotabaya Rajapaksa's elder brother was elected president. Several years later, the two brothers orchestrated a brutal campaign against Tamil Tiger others, ending a long civil war. They were accused of war crimes, but remained in power. While citizens may have succeeded in ousting the Rajapaksas, the larger problem Sri Lankans face have no easy solutions. For the "PBS NewsHour," I'm Stephanie Sy.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: The collapse of the Democrats climate agenda, the connection between Trump and right-wing extremism, and the debate over abortion after the fall of Roe, it has all contributed to another very busy week here in Washington. And that brings us to the analysis of Brooks and Capehart. That's New York Times columnist David Brooks and Jonathan Capehart, associate editor for The Washington Post. Gentlemen, good evening. Thank you both for being here.
DAVID BROOKS: Good to be here. WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Jonathan, Joe Manchin today said, I'm done with all of this back and forth, and offer you a ticket to the dance, and then never show up. The climate agenda that the president had hoped would in some way get across the finish line has fallen apart. Is it your sense that the U.S. is just not going to act on climate change for a couple
of years? JONATHAN CAPEHART: The short answer is yes. As long as there's a 50/50 split in the Senate, and Joe Manchin is the deciding vote for everything, the answer to that question is yes. There is late-breaking news that the president has said -- has taken the deal, said, look, we will do the narrow thing. Get it to my desk before you go on August recess.
The American people can't wait. So climate is going to have to wait. But, in the long run, if climate -- if we're going to do anything on climate, anything on criminal justice reform, anything on voting rights, anything to codify Roe, any of the other things that a majority -- assault weapons ban, something on gun safety, things that the American people want, the only way those are going to happen is if the Democrats get two more seats in the Senate. And that's why the president keeps hammering away: Give me two more seats.
It's not just to codify Roe. It's to get his agenda through in the last half of his term. WILLIAM BRANGHAM: I mean, David, this -- as Jonathan is saying, it is a 50/50 Senate. And Joe Manchin says inflation is really terrible.
I'm not going to do anything about it. And there even were some progressive Democrats this week saying, inflation really is terrible, and in a way making Manchin's case for him. But still, to this point, it does mean that the U.S., that one of the major actors on the climate front is stepping back. DAVID BROOKS: So I'm going to do something that's never been done in a major American TV studio, which is praise Joe Manchin. (LAUGHTER) DAVID BROOKS: I went back and looked at some of the news stories from a year ago, and Joe Manchin was warning about inflation back then.
And there were all these stories: Economists dismiss... WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Alone in the wilderness. (CROSSTALK) DAVID BROOKS: Yes, economists dismiss Manchin inflation fears. Well, he turned out to be 100 percent right.
And, frankly, a lot of us, including me, but all the other Democrats, turned out to be 100 percent wrong. And you could argue that Joe Manchin stopping the big Build Back Better bill, which was trillions of dollars, if we had poured that additional trillions of dollars into the economy, a lot of it unfunded, then inflation would be truly terrible. And so you could argue Joe Manchin saved the country and the Democratic Party a very bad policy disaster.
And so I think he deserves some credit for being right about that and for being super attuned to the inflation fears, which are the number one issue in the country right now. The one part I will disagree with him is just because there's inflation doesn't mean you can't have government policy, right? (LAUGHTER) DAVID BROOKS: And so, if you pay for -- if you take some money out of the economy through taxes, and then pay for it for climate change legislation, it's not necessarily inflationary. But for -- some of the people who are now bashing him should be thanking him for some of the things he did earlier to warn us about this and to forestall worse inflation.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Only on the "NewsHour" are we getting that. Great. (LAUGHTER) WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Jonathan, the January 6 hearing that we saw this week again made a fairly compelling case trying to tie President Trump's rhetoric towards those people who stormed the Capitol and engaged in that horrendous hand-to-hand combat with police officers. Do you think that they have made a good case that Trump's language, Trump's rhetoric stirred that horrible day? JONATHAN CAPEHART: Yes. Yes, they did.
Look, we have to remember that the January 6 Select Committee is a court, but it's playing to the court of public opinion. And between the documents and the tweets and everything that they showed to make their case, plus the two witnesses there who said -- one who said what the president said brought me to Washington, and then you had a former spokesperson for -- and I always get -- it's either the Oath Keepers or the Proud Boys -- but who said, yes, we were there. WILLIAM BRANGHAM: We heard the call. JONATHAN CAPEHART: We heard the call, and we were part of operationalizing that. So, yes, I think the committee has made the connection. And I don't think it's a mystery to the American people.
The issue becomes, when you start talking about, is there criminal liability here, should the Justice -- will the Justice Department make that -- make that leap. And when you're talking about the court of law, the level of evidentiary proof that you have to have is incredibly high, necessarily. That's getting way down the road. But I do think, after seven, eight hearings, the Select Committee has done an excellent job of telling the American people and showing the American people what was done on January 6, how horrible it was. And between the hearing on Tuesday and the hearing that's coming up next Thursday, we're going to see with frightening clarity how the president of the United States just allowed it to happen.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: What do you think about that? Do you think that they made that case? DAVID BROOKS: Yes, and it has been unexpected for me. But I think the... WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Unexpected why? DAVID BROOKS: I didn't think -- well, I didn't think they had organized it.
I didn't think Trump had organized January 6. I thought it was just like him being his shambolic self. But there was clearly a lot more planning. We learned even from the Overstock CEO that they had arranged that he was spontaneously going to call for them to go to the -- but that was all prearranged. And then, as Jonathan said, the fact that the -- a lot of the guys up there were so carefully paying attention to Trump, so carefully saying, we're going to do what he tells us to do, and so fully expected that he would meet them up at the Capitol, that's all a progression.
And then what we heard last -- or two weeks ago about the -- him wanting to take out the magnetometers, so these armed guys could have access, that's all a very strong evidentiary chain. And so, to me, the accumulation is quite powerful. It's interesting how it's affected Trump. I mean, the word now is that he's moving up when he will announce his campaign for president. I think he's doing that to make the indictment harder. He's doing that to...
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: You're presenting that as a done deal. You think he's definitely going to run? DAVID BROOKS: He seems to have told people that he's going to run. And so I -- we will see when we -- he walks down the elevator -- escalator, whatever it is. (LAUGHTER) DAVID BROOKS: But I do think he's going to run.
I think he's going to announce pretty soon, in part to make the indictment harder, in part to make other challengers more hesitant about getting in. He's going to fail at that. The New York Times/Siena poll struck me as very important this week that roughly half of Republicans want him to pass and they want to go for another guy. That's just a huge number. WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Right. DAVID BROOKS: And that cannot be unrelated to these hearings.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: I want to switch, Jonathan, to this issue of the continued fallout of the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade. And Democrats seem to believe that this could be one of the things that might give them at least some trace of a fighting chance in the midterms. And we saw we this week this sort of horrendous case of a young 10-year-old girl who had been raped. She got pregnant. She was -- then had to leave her state and go to another state where abortion would still be allowed.
And GOP officials tried to make hay of it. They doubted that that story really existed. The local A.G. said, we're going to go after the doctor that performed this.
Do you think that -- that issue and the extremity of the way that this is being handled will actually benefit Democrats? JONATHAN CAPEHART: It should. I mean, we're -- the idea that we're talking about violence against a child, and then being forced by the state to give birth to this child, going to another state so she can terminate that pregnancy, and then being persecuted and prosecuted by the state for doing that, I mean, this is -- William, during the Trump years, I started watching "The Handmaid's Tale," because I thought I need my imagination to be open to see just how bad things could get in a fictional -- fictional setting. And I had to stop watching when real life under the Trump administration started to mirror what was happening in "Handmaid's Tale," and I was -- I was a few seasons behind. We are in "Handmaid's Tale" territory here.
We are turning into Gilead. And if there are people out there who are upset by the Supreme Court decision, by what Republican legislators around the country in states and localities are doing to further restrictions and bans on abortion, I don't know what else could push people to the polls more than not just being stripped of a constitutional right, but having your right to -- right to freedom, right to privacy, right to liberty not just taken away, but local officials doing everything they can to ensure that you don't have autonomy over your own body. If that doesn't get people out to the polls, I don't know what will. WILLIAM BRANGHAM: I mean, David, this was an incredibly extreme case, in some ways crystallized the sharpness and the horribleness of this division in this country.
Do you think it will redound to the Democrats' benefit? DAVID BROOKS: A little, but, frankly, not much. Now, abortion rights defenders, they should pursue their cause with the passion that they're bringing to it. And so I don't want -- nothing I say should dissuade anybody from pursuing that cause.
But there's just a giant gap between what a lot of Democrats want to talk about and what the whole rest of the country wants to talk about. And if you ask people, what's the most important issues, progressives want to talk about abortion and guns. The entire rest of the country, independents, conservatives, unaffiliated people, they want talk about the economy. And, for them, the economy is way up here. Jobs are number one.
Inflation is number two. And so why is Joe Biden at 33 percent approval in the latest Times poll? It's the economy. Why in the same poll do half of Hispanics support the Republicans now? The economy. These are -- I mean, I think... WILLIAM BRANGHAM: These are earthquake-type numbers for Democrats. DAVID BROOKS: Yes, I think that's probably a little outlier.
But we have had a whole series of polls showing a lot of Hispanic movement moving over to the Republican Party and turning into really a multiracial, working-class party. And so if people -- they should pursue their passions, and they should pursue these issues. But if Democrats, if they're not talking about economic policy every day, then they're just not talking about the policy that is clearly ranking number one with a vast majority of voters. JONATHAN CAPEHART: And yet, William...
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Thirty seconds left. Sorry. JONATHAN CAPEHART: And yet, when you look at the generic ballot in these same polls, it's evenly split when people are asked, who do you want to have control of Congress, Democrats or Republicans? Inflation is big. The economy is big.
And yet the generic ballot is still evenly split. So, people have a problem with the president, think things are going in the wrong direction, but they don't trust Republicans to run the country. WILLIAM BRANGHAM: I mean, this is why we're seeing, of course, the president in Saudi Arabia, trying to do everything he can across the pond to get the gas prices down. David Brooks, Jonathan Capehart, great to see you both.
Thank you. JONATHAN CAPEHART: Thanks, William. DAVID BROOKS: Thank you. WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Artist Napoleon Jones-Henderson has been working with textiles and other media for more than 50 years, and his spirit and artistic prowess are now on display at the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston. Special correspondent Jared Bowen of GBH recently met Jones-Henderson at his home.
It's part of our arts and culture series, Canvas. NAPOLEON JONES-HENDERSON, Artist: I have got surely 6,000 or 7,000 books throughout my library here. JARED BOWEN: If ever there was a home built on passion and fueled by art, this is it. Napoleon Jones-Henderson has lived here for 47 years. It's a living sculpture housing a lifetime of his, not to mention all other manner of artwork. Do you have different working spaces? NAPOLEON JONES-HENDERSON: No.
Well, yes, each room is a different working space. And I would call it an aesthetic and intellectual resource. That's what this house is for me. JARED BOWEN: And the spirits run deep here. Jones-Henderson's Greek revival home is known as the Edward Everett Hale House.
Hale was an abolitionist who advocated for the education of freed enslaved people. NAPOLEON JONES-HENDERSON: I'm sure, as an abolitionist and all of the activities that he was engaged in, people such as Tubman and Douglass, they have all tiptoed through this house. So, in a way of speaking, I see it as the responsibility of mine to continue that kind of energy. JARED BOWEN: And it looks like you are not somebody who separates your work from life. NAPOLEON JONES-HENDERSON: Oh, no, it's all one thing. My work is my life.
JARED BOWEN: And has been for half-a-century. In 1968, Jones-Henderson was one of the founders of the Chicago artists collective AfriCOBRA, or the African Commune of Bad Relevant Artists. And now at Boston's ICA, the decades of work in textiles he produced according to AfriCOBRA's aesthetic principles, fills this retrospective. NAPOLEON JONES-HENDERSON: And that manifesto which drove our work is the elevation of the humanity of African people and to project, if you will, always positive images and works that reflect the beauty and the majesty of African people. JEFFREY DE BLOIS, Assistant Curator, Institute of Contemporary Art: They asked themselves a question: What is the role of the visual artist as part of the civil rights movement? JARED BOWEN: Jeffrey De Blois is the show's curator, and says Jones-Henderson's work has always been in dialogue with the community, reflecting the culture in language and music.
JEFFREY DE BLOIS: AfriCOBRA outlined that they would use language in a particular way. As you see in Napoleon's work, often, things that come from the community, sayings, to be free, or lyrics drawn from Black music, like from a Stevie Wonder song, at other times, an individual work that's dedicated to a body of work by a musician, like Duke Ellington's Sacred Concerts. So it has various iterations in his work, but there is a sense of rhythm and musicality throughout. JARED BOWEN: And it's woven in. Jones-Henderson studied textile weaving at the Art Institute of Chicago.
But, well before that, it was family practice. NAPOLEON JONES-HENDERSON: It really starts out with my grandparents and my aunts and all the women in my family, because quilting, and patching the holes in your pants after they wore out, and tucking up a coat sleeve because it was a little bit too big for you when they got passed down. JARED BOWEN: Over decades, he scooped up roll after roll of fabric from New England's once-thriving textile mills. And, in 1974, he came across a room full of reflective yarn once used for flapper dresses, which he still uses. NAPOLEON JONES-HENDERSON: The element of the AfriCOBRA aesthetic and philosophy of shine became fully available to me.
The aspects that one can find in medieval tapestries and so forth, where they have the gold and silver threads in there, it's the very same thing. JARED BOWEN: And the shine accents a palette of what Jones deliciously calls Kool-Aid colors. NAPOLEON JONES-HENDERSON: Because, in the late '60s and early '70s, I know in Chicago in particular, you saw brothers walking around the neighborhood in the street with these wonderful Kool-Aid color outfits on, lime green, the purple, the strawberry, the red. And so that style is what we saw as an important element to depict in our visual work.
And, to be perfectly honest, Kool-Aid is very close to watercolor. JARED BOWEN: The artist's most recent pieces and a project he's been working on for the last 20 years is a series of sculptures titled Requiem For Our Ancestors. They are shrines to house spirits, and began with his desire to honor the four girls killed when white supremacists bombed Alabama's 16th Street Baptist Church in 1963.
NAPOLEON JONES-HENDERSON: Looking at those four little girls and many other Africans who have died or were killed, murdered, and otherwise terrorized, whose passing, their spirits were not able to be honored and held sacred by the people who they were a part of. JARED BOWEN: And the bottom of each shrine, he says, is meant to catch the wind, as derived from a Nigerian tradition. NAPOLEON JONES-HENDERSON: So, the stirring of the air is the stirring of the spirits. And so these structures are spaces for those spirits that have been still uneasy out here since 1619. Coming forward, they have a place to be. JARED BOWEN: From a museum to a home where the spirits always move Napoleon Jones-Henderson.
For the "PBS NewsHour," I'm Jared Bowen in Boston. WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Maria Hinojosa is a Pulitzer Prize-winning Mexican-American journalist and founder of Futuro Media Group. As a Mexican immigrant herself, Hinojosa found her background often lent her a different lens to the pressing topics of the day. Tonight, Hinojosa shares her Brief But Spectacular take on the responsibility of being a powerful Latina in the media today.
MARIA HINOJOSA, President and Founder, Futuro Media Group: People always say to me, oh, Maria, you are just so obsessed with immigration because you are a Mexican immigrant. And I am like, actually, I am obsessed with this country's capacity for inhumanity. The thing about my coming to America story is that there were a couple of different versions. We flew in by plane to meet my father, but something happened at the Dallas Airport with the immigration agent. But I don't know if I really understood exactly what happened until the policy that was enacted in the United States under the Trump administration. They started taking children from their parents.
And my mom called me. She was very upset. And I tried to calm her down. And then she said (SPEAKING SPANISH) She said: "My daughter, you don't understand what I'm trying to tell you.
Those mothers, they were me. And that baby, it could have been you." And it was like the official story of my arrival really happened, which is that immigration agents had tried to take me from my mother at the border at the airport in Dallas.
When I heard that story about how I was almost taken from my mom, it made me understand exactly why I do what I do. And that means I'm not going to stop. I was the first Latina hired at NPR. I was not like anyone else in that newsroom.
I understood that I had this privilege of being hired at NPR as the first Latina, but that, therefore, I had responsibility. I want to make sure that I can pitch a story about anything, from baseball,to Wall Street, to politics. But my secret sauce, what I know best and what I'm going to bring into the newsroom is the life that I live and I know. I challenge all my fellow journalists to actually move with their hearts more often. I don't think moving with your heart as a journalist makes you a lesser journalist. I think it makes you the best journalist you can be, if you can handle it.
My name is Maria Hinojosa. And this is my Brief But Spectacular take on being a powerful Latina in the media. WILLIAM BRANGHAM: I had the great pleasure of working with Maria many years ago, and she is a wonderful person and a fierce reporter.
You can watch more Brief But Spectacular videos at PBS.org/NewsHour/Brief. For more analysis of President Biden's trip to Saudi Arabia and the ongoing January 6 hearings, don't forget to tune into "Washington Week." Our own Lisa Desjardins will be guest-moderating this week's roundtable. Join her tonight on PBS. And tomorrow on "PBS NewsHour Weekend," we get the latest from on the ground in Saudi Arabia, as President Biden wraps up his trip to the Middle East. That is the "NewsHour" for tonight.
I'm William Brangham. For all of us at the "PBS NewsHour," thank you, please stay safe, and we'll see you soon.