September 11, 2020 - PBS NewsHour full episode
September 11, 2020 - PBS NewsHour full episode
JUDY WOODRUFF: Good evening.
I'm Judy Woodruff.
On the "NewsHour" tonight: The fires burn on.
Ten percent of Oregon's population is under evacuation order, amid a rising death toll
in the region, as officials look to better weather for hope.
Then: vote 2020.
President Trump holds a rally with thousands of mostly maskless supporters, before both
candidates mark this September 11.
Plus: 19 years later.
Children born on September 11, 2001, are now eligible to vote in a country and world forever
shaped by the events of that day.
And it's Friday.
Mark Shields and David Brooks consider Congress' struggle to pass coronavirus relief, as well
as the president's acknowledging he misled the public on the severity of COVID-19.
All that and more on tonight's "PBS NewsHour."
JUDY WOODRUFF: Fire crews in the West are finally getting help this evening from slowing
winds and rising humidity.
But a wave of wildfires has already claimed up to 24 lives across Oregon, Washington,
and Northern California.
In Oregon alone, half-a-million people have had to flee and dozens are missing.
Special correspondent Cat Wise reports from Salem, Oregon.
CAT WISE: Early this morning, a team of firefighters gathered for a moment of silence in remembrance
of 9/11, and then began discussing their plan of attack on the Beachie Creek Fire, which
has burned more than 180,000 acres and destroyed a number of small towns.
These firefighters, commanders, and support staff are one of the many incident management
teams that assemble during wildfire season to battle blazes throughout the West.
Late Monday night, as winds picked up across the region, a fire broke out around their
incident command post in the small town of Gates, Oregon.
As the fire quickly spread, the group, which totaled about 380, many of whom were staying
in tents and campers outside the post, began a battle to save their own building.
RANDALL RISHE, Pacific Northwest Incident Management Team 13: As I walked out of the
incident command post behind the building, the huge field that was behind it was completely
engulfed in flames.
CAT WISE: Randall Rishe is the public information officer for the team.
RANDALL RISHE: The wind was blowing.
The embers were flying everywhere.
Trees were coming down, electrified wires all over the place, roads impassable, and
have firefighters having to take chain saws and buck those logs and get them out of the
way, so we could pass through.
And everybody was able to work through that in a very dynamic and difficult situation
without any recorded injuries.
It's quite amazing.
CAT WISE: Rishe and many others lost personal belongings.
Some are still wearing the same clothes they had on Monday night.
More significantly, the team lost critical gear and equipment.
RANDALL RISHE: Inside the incident command post, we have I.T. equipment, communication
equipment, printers to make huge maps, so we can have morning briefings.
We have audiovisual equipment for the public information staff.
All of the information that is associated with an incident are kept on thumb drives
and hard drives, all of which were lost.
CAT WISE: Despite all those losses, the team managed to reassemble by the next evening
at this new command post in Salem.
John Spencer is one of the group's leaders.
This is his 36th year fighting fires.
JOHN SPENCER, Pacific Northwest Incident Management Team 13: The resources are thin.
And so, to get out on the line and have enough coverage, we don't.
And so we are doing -- setting our priorities and meeting the fire where it forces our hand
at certain communities, and trying to engage, so that we can protect life and property.
Having your command center burned to the ground and having to evacuate that area under a very
stressful situation was very -- for many of us, never -- has never happened before.
And so -- and then the fire activity that we saw and how it's expanded to such a large
scale in -- over the whole state of Oregon and the Northwest, kind of shocking to all
of us that have been around a while.
CAT WISE: Across Oregon, about a million acres have been set ablaze, and about half-a-million
people have been ordered to evacuate, roughly one in 10 residents.
The city of Portland has declared a state of emergency as fires bore down on surrounding
Crews around the state have been navigating exceedingly difficult conditions.
Unpredictable weather patterns change fire lines by the minute.
State officials estimate they need twice as many firefighters on the ground as they have
MAN: Oh, my God.
CAT WISE: At the same time, there are fears some residents are not heeding evacuation
orders, spurred in part by conspiracy theories and misinformation circulating online.
Local police departments have had to squash rumors fires were caused by arsonists on both
the far left and far right.
Meanwhile, in California, the North Complex Fire which exploded in size earlier this week,
has become the state's deadliest of the year.
The fire has wreaked havoc in small towns across Butte County, which was also the site
of California's deadliest fire ever, the 2018 Camp Fire, which claimed 85 lives.
WOMAN: There's a lot of folks up here that went through the Camp Fire and other fires
that lost their place and -- or had to be evacuated for a month.
They're really traumatized from this fire.
CAT WISE: In Berry Creek, a small town of about 500, fires left little behind but rubble
and twisted metal.
And authorities fear the devastation in places like this means the death toll will likely
Back in Salem, the team here planned to take advantage of a change in weather today to
finally make some progress on containing the Beachie Creek Fire.
They will have six more days before their two-week shift is over.
Then they will be off for two days, and back on the fire lines.
Forecasters say they are hoping for cooler air and moisture over the coming days, which
would really help firefighters -- Judy.
JUDY WOODRUFF: So, Cat, tell us a little more about the concern about fire crews right now,
the worry about resources and people power.
CAT WISE: Yes, that's right, Judy.
Randall Rishe, who you saw in the piece, he told us today that they're really trying to
provide a lot of support to the firefighters on the lines and the team members who went
through this difficult firefighting experience we highlighted in our story.
But many of those team members have family and friends who are evacuated currently.
And it's really taking a toll on them as they're fighting these fires.
And, of course, as you know, COVID is a big concern these days.
And it is complicating all these firefighting efforts.
Normally, at a fire camp like this, you would have large teams working together in one room.
At this command post, they have broken those teams up into smaller rooms to try to prevent
the spread of COVID-19.
But everyone is just trying to do the best they can during this really difficult time.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And, as if things weren't difficult enough, Cat, you mentioned in your report
authorities are trying to stop the spread of rumors about the cause of the fires.
What are people telling you about that?
CAT WISE: Judy, over the last couple of days, we have talked to several dozen people.
And some people did tell us that they believe that the fires had been set by politically
One gentleman told me there's just no way that all of these fires could have been set
by natural causes.
But what's really important to know, Judy, is that, over the last couple of days, national
and local authorities have come out strongly and said that there is no basis for those
And they're really trying to get word out that people should trust only local officials,
state officials for information about these fires.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, to be dealing with that, as we said, on top of everything else, makes
it so much more complicated.
Cat Wise reporting for us from Oregon.
Thank you, Cat.
This early fire season is historic and devastating in its scope and toll.
As Cat reported earlier, fires have merged and are moving closer to the Portland suburbs.
Portland itself, at this moment, has the worst air quality of any city in the world.
The state's governor, Kate Brown, joins us now from Portland.
Governor Brown, thank you very much for joining us.
To people who have never experienced fires like this, give us a sense of what your state
is dealing with.
KATE BROWN (D-OR): Well, this has certainly been the perfect firestorm.
We have unprecedented wind conditions, combined with a 30-year drought on the landscape.
And so we have seen devastating wildfires throughout the state.
We have had 40,000 Oregonians that have needed to evacuate, 500,000 under some level of evacuation,
and our firefighters are doing the best they can.
But their primary focus right now is to save lives.
And so that's where we're focused.
That's where our time and energy is focused.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And, right now, we understand there are a number of people missing.
KATE BROWN: Yes.
As I said, you know, our focus right now is on saving lives.
These fires will need to be investigated over the next days and weeks.
We are still, obviously, focused on evacuating people out of the most serious of circumstances,
and we still have fires.
Most of the fires are uncontained.
We have never seen anything like this in the history of Oregon.
JUDY WOODRUFF: It's just unimaginable to so many of us.
Governor, our reporter Cat Wise was telling us that there are -- that the state needs
twice as many firefighters on the ground as you have now.
Are you going to be able to get that much more support?
Where is it going to come from?
KATE BROWN: That's a great question.
We are very fortunate that we have 375 National Guards men and women who have been pre-trained
to fight fire.
Those units will be deploying today, tomorrow and Sunday.
We are going to be training, thanks to the help of our federal delegation, Senator Merkley
and Senator Wyden, an additional 300 National Guards men and women.
We have requested assistance from our federal partners.
We're hoping for active-duty military, trained battalions from the Department of Defense,
trained in firefighting, and hoping that some other states will be able to provide additional
National Guard resources.
But, as you know, this is a challenge facing the entire West Coast, and our firefighters
are spread very, very thin.
We're working hard to get them more people power and additional resources as quickly
JUDY WOODRUFF: And that's why I was asking if you think you're going to be able to get
everything that you need.
Governor, there are, as our reporter Cat Wise was telling us as well, these rumors or conspiracy
theories going around about the cause of the fires, leading some people not to heed evacuation
How much of a problem is that?
What's -- what's going on?
KATE BROWN: As the law enforcement community has said and reiterated in social media posts,
these rumors are absolutely false.
We need folks to stay off the 911 lines if they are concerned about these rumors, and
we need folks in Oregon to be alert and paying attention to their local county emergency
management Web site about what appropriate actions they can take.
All of these fires will be investigated.
I am confident that our law enforcement community, combined with our assistance from our Department
of Forestry and our National Guard resources, that you will see thorough investigations
of the causes of these fires.
But, as I said, these are historic and unprecedented.
Given where we are on the West Coast, we are likely to see more of them, with the impacts
of climate change happening here in the Pacific Northwest.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And, Governor, we see that the protests that have been ongoing in the
city where you are in Portland for months now are continuing even through this state
of emergency that's been declared.
How much of a concern is that?
KATE BROWN: It's certainly a concern.
I have worked with our community partners, our business community and elected leadership
to craft a statement of Oregon leaders, saying that this violence needs to come to an end.
We are continuing to have conversations with folks in the community about how we can tackle
the underlying racism issues that are really the underlying cause of the situation.
And we are continuing to take action.
The legislature has passed six bills in the last two months addressing police accountability.
And I am working to recraft, reenvision how we train law enforcement in this state and
how we can co-create a new type of public safety that will ensure that all of our community
members feel safe.
JUDY WOODRUFF: So, in a sentence, how confident are you that there will be an end to these
protests in coming days?
KATE BROWN: Well, Judy, I -- that's a really challenging question.
Dr. King said it best.
Riots are the language of the unheard.
So, we know that these protests are caused by folks who have been experiencing systemic
racism in this state and in this country for decades, for centuries.
And it will take time, frankly, to eradicate the racism in our criminal justice system,
in our law enforcement system, in our health care system, in our educational system.
Violence does nothing.
It answers nothing.
It solves nothing.
But I do think that it is a distraction from the critically important work that we need
to do to tackle the systemic racism in our institutions, cultures and state.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Governor Kate Brown of Oregon, dealing with a lot right now, to put it mildly,
with regard to the fires and, of course, with the ongoing unrest in Portland.
Governor, thank you very much.
KATE BROWN: Thank you so much.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And you.
In the day's other news: The nation marked 19 years since the September 11 attacks that
killed nearly 3,000 people.
Ceremonies unfolded against the backdrop of the presidential campaign.
Both President Trump and Democrat Joe Biden visited Shanksville, Pennsylvania.
Biden also appeared in New York.
We will have details after the news summary.
Bahrain today became the fourth Arab country to agree to normalize ties with Israel.
President Trump announced it just weeks after the United Arab Emirates took the same step.
In Israel, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu went on national TV.
BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, Israeli Prime Minister (through translator): Citizens of Israel,
this is a new era of peace.
We have invested in peace for many years.
And now peace will invest in us and will lead to very large investments in the Israeli economy,
and that is very important.
JUDY WOODRUFF: A senior Palestinian official called Bahrain's decision -- quote -- "another
stab in the back."
Fire teams in Beirut, Lebanon, have put out a huge fire that broke out Thursday at the
White smoke simmered over the site today, just a month after a disastrous explosion
that killed 190 people and injured thousands.
No one was hurt in this fire.
The cause remains unknown.
In Greece, migrants protested today after fires gutted a camp that was housing 12,000
people on the island of Lesbos.
Thousands demanded they be allowed to leave the area, but Greek officials refused.
Instead, they sent tents and supplies for a new camp, and a European Commission official
MARGARITIS SCHINAS, Vice President, European Commission (through translator): We are dealing
with the immediate needs which concern accommodation and food to guarantee that those who were
left without shelter have what they need.
At the same time, in cooperation with government and authorities, we are planning for the future,
a new camp that will function with new standards and better facilities.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Greek officials say that the fires were deliberately set by some of the
In pandemic news, the United States closed in on 193 deaths from COVID-19 today.
Meanwhile, Florida moved to ease restrictions, with bars reopening Monday at 50 percent capacity.
Prosecutors in Minneapolis urged a judge today to try four former police officers together
for the death of George Floyd.
Defense attorneys argued for separate trials and also asked to move the trials elsewhere,
something that the Floyd family opposes.
JEFF STORMS, Attorney For Floyd Family: The only goal they have in trying to change venues
is to get as many jurors as possible who do not look like George Floyd.
JEFF STORMS: They do not want jurors who look like you.
No, they do not.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Dozens of people surrounded the courthouse, protesting Floyd's death.
He died last May, when one of the officers pinned him by the neck.
Relatives and victims of the Las Vegas 2017 shootings are closer to a sweeping settlement
with MGM Resorts International.
Newly filed court documents say that more than 4,400 relatives and victims could receive
$800 million in payouts.
MGM Resorts owns the hotel where the gunman opened fire, killing 58 people and injuring
more than 850.
A federal appeals court today barred felons in Florida from voting until they pay any
outstanding fines and legal fees.
The order was a victory for the Republican governor and legislature.
It also could affect the presidential race in a state known for razor-thin voting margins.
And Wall Street finished the week on a mixed note.
The Dow Jones industrial average gained 131 points to finish at 27665.
The Nasdaq fell 66 points and the S&P 500 added one.
Still to come on the "NewsHour": the race for the White House continues, as the president
and Joe Biden sharpen their critiques; children born on 9/11 are now eligible to vote in a
world forever shaped by the events of that day; Mark Shields and David Brooks examine
Congress' struggle to pass coronavirus relief; plus, much more.
The presidential race struck a somber note today, as both candidates marked the 19th
anniversary of the September 11 attacks.
President Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden visited the same Pennsylvania memorial,
though they did not cross paths.
White House correspondent Yamiche Alcindor begins our coverage.
YAMICHE ALCINDOR: In Shanksville, Pennsylvania, today, bells tolled for all 40 passengers
and crew who died on Flight 93.
YAMICHE ALCINDOR: On 9/11, those on the flight wrestled back control of the plane from hijackers
targeting the U.S. Capitol.
Instead, it crashed in a rural Pennsylvania field, killing everyone aboard.
President Trump spoke at a memorial built on the crash site.
He talked directly to the family members of those killed.
DONALD TRUMP, President of the United States: Today, every heartbeat in America is wedded
Your pain and anguish is the shared grief of our whole nation.
YAMICHE ALCINDOR: Later, former Vice President Joe Biden also paid his respects at the Flight
He laid a wreath and met with family members of those who died.
The Democratic presidential nominee began his day in New York City.
He attended the ceremony at Ground Zero of the World Trade Center.
There, he stopped to talk with a woman who lost her son in the attacks.
He spoke about the pain of losing his own son Beau to cancer.
JOSEPH BIDEN (D), Presidential Candidate: It never goes away.
YAMICHE ALCINDOR: Vice President Pence was also at the Ground Zero remembrance.
Both men wore masks and spoke briefly, acknowledging each other with an elbow bump.
At the commemoration, Pence and his wife, Karen, read Bible passages.
MIKE PENCE, Vice President of the United States: Yea, though I walk through the valley of the
shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for thou art with me.
YAMICHE ALCINDOR: The vice presidential nominee for the Democrats, Senator Kamala Harris,
spoke in Virginia at the Fairfax County Public Safety Headquarters.
Her message was to first responders.
KAMALA HARRIS (D-CA), Vice Presidential Candidate: Some of the heroes from that day 19 years
ago are still here serving this community, and I thank you on behalf of all of us for
the consistency of your dedication to your country.
YAMICHE ALCINDOR: Today's solemn tone came after a raucous night for the president in
Freeland, Michigan, where he held a rally.
Thousands of Trump supporters packed together in an airport hangar.
There was little social distancing and few wore masks.
It came two days after audio conversations with the president tied to a book release
by journalist Bob Woodward revealed President Trump knew about the severity of the pandemic
early on, but he sought to play it down.
For the "PBS NewsHour," I'm Yamiche Alcindor.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And for more on all this, we have the "NewsHour"'s Daniel Bush, who joins
us today from Shanksville, Pennsylvania.
So, as we heard, both President Trump and former Vice President Biden were there today.
What else can you tell us about what they had to say?
DANIEL BUSH: Well, Judy, President Trump delivered remarks that were on script.
He did not stray from his message, praising the heroism of the people who died here at
Joe Biden did not deliver official remarks.
He did visit this memorial, and then, with his wife, Jill Biden, visited a local firehouse.
The most interesting thing here to note, Judy, is that, of course, this visit by both these
candidates, the backdrop is the election.
And we saw two different approaches to being out in public during the pandemic.
President Trump and the people around him did not wear masks.
Joe Biden and his wife and the people he was meeting with did.
Joe Biden told donors on a call yesterday that he plans to abide by state restrictions.
And that's what we saw here today.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Separately, you have been in Pennsylvania now for several days reporting
on how they're preparing for this election and, in particular, looking at how they're
going to be voting and some disputes that have come up.
Tell us about that.
DANIEL BUSH: That's right, Judy.
Top of mind here, as in other states, is election security, how to get enough poll workers.
There's a shortage there, many officials have told me.
How to secure safe polling sites.
But the main issue is a set of lawsuits that are going to dictate how people can actually
vote in November.
The principal one everyone is watching is a Trump campaign lawsuit, along with the RNC,
filed against the state to try and ban drop boxes in November.
These are the mailbox-style drop boxes that many states have used for a while, that Pennsylvania
used in the primary to allow voters to drop off their mail-in ballots in person to avoid
long lines and to reduce public health risks.
The Trump campaign is arguing that those drop boxes are illegal, they're not technically
polling places, and that they could lead to voter tampering and fraud.
But, Judy, on the ground, county officials tell me something different.
I spoke to several Republicans who said, no, these drop boxes are secure.
One of them told me they are -- in the primaries were under 24-hour camera surveillance.
Sheriff's deputies are there.
This official told me that she herself manned one of the drop boxes, and they are not concerned
about voter fraud.
But that's a case that is playing out in the courts right now.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And, Dan, you're saying even Republicans are saying this to you?
DANIEL BUSH: That's right, Judy.
Several Republicans told me that they do not have concerns around voter fraud.
But there are several challenges around how it is that people can vote, as I mentioned,
carrying these off safely, as well as what is going to happen on election night.
Several officials from both parties told me that, unless they have more time to begin
counting these votes, and if there is this expected increase or influx in absentee ballots
and mail-in ballots, they will not be able to count the votes on election night.
It's so important to all of them to underscore that point.
They are saying they can expect to have to count some of these votes for days to come
after November 3.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Daniel Bush, so interesting.
And I know this is something we're going to want to follow very closely between now and
Dan, thank you so much.
DANIEL BUSH: Thank you.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Some 13,000 babies were born in the U.S. on September 11, 2001.
Today, those babies turn 19 years old, and, this fall, for the first time in their lives,
they will be able to cast a vote in a presidential election.
Amna Nawaz has more on the political views of voters born on one of America's darkest
AMNA NAWAZ: Judy, those young Americans' lives have been shaped by wars, by school shootings,
and now a deadly global pandemic.
Garrett Graff recently interviewed several of them for his piece in "Politico" magazine.
It's called: "The Children of 9/11 Are About to Vote."
He's also the author of The New York Times bestselling book "The Only Plane in the Sky:
An Oral History of 9/11."
Garrett, welcome back to the "NewsHour."
It's always good to talk to you.
It is remarkable to read in your latest piece, these young adults have only ever known a
nation at war.
In fact, one of the young women, Chloe, said this to you.
She said: "Every single day since I was born, we haven't been in a time where we are at
peace," which is a remarkable thing to read.
What did these young Americans tell you about how they view America's wars after 9/11?
GARRETT GRAFF, Author, "The Only Plane in the Sky: An Oral History of 9/11": Part of
what is so fascinating, Amna, is that, for them, it's just been background noise.
They have, as you said, never known a day of peace in their lives.
And so they have very little understanding of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, why we're
there, and really have learned very little about the wars in school.
AMNA NAWAZ: Another thing that struck me was, for so many people before them, 9/11, the
day they were born, was the big moment.
It was a defining moment.
Of course it wasn't that way for them.
When you asked them about those big moments, though, many of them cited a shooting of some
One of them, Aidan, actually said this to you: "In the back of my mind, I would sit
in class and I'd be like, all right, well, if something happens, how am I going to escape?
What am I going to do?
Am I going to hide?
Am I going to jump out a window?"
This is from Aidan.
I know so many young Americans feel the same way.
It's become normalized.
Was that sentiment true for most of them, Garrett?
GARRETT GRAFF: Almost exclusively.
Every single person that I talked to, for many of them, for many of this generation,
the first national news event that they really remember is the massacre at the Sandy Hook
And then they were high school students alongside the students of Marjory Stoneman High School
in Parkland, when that was -- when there was a mass shooting there, and that, for many
of them, this is a backdrop to their daily educational experiences now.
Police officers in schools, active shooter drills, this is something that they think
about many days at school now, which is sort of unfathomable to those of us who grew up
in previous generations.
AMNA NAWAZ: As we mentioned too, they are now about to vote.
And in the background is this global pandemic.
There's also nationwide racial justice protests unfolding.
What did they tell you about how they're viewing both of those events and also how they're
viewing this election?
GARRETT GRAFF: Well, one of the things that just really struck me -- I mean, again, this
is a generation born on 9/11, grew up in war experienced these mass shootings, graduating
high school, and starting college now amid this pandemic and these nationwide protests.
And, in many ways, they would have every reason to have given up believing in government and
And, in fact, I actually saw just the opposite, which is, there was a remarkable amount of
hope and optimism about them that their generation will be able to change America for the better
as they come into politics.
I mean, one very big area for them is LGBTQ rights, that this is something that they have
grown up with widely accepted among their peers.
Remember, the -- for many of them, gay marriage has been legal for more than half of their
lives in many states.
And so this is something that is sort of background noise, again, in a very positive way socially
AMNA NAWAZ: One of those quotes actually that stuck out to me that speaks to that was from
a young woman named Adsel.
You asked about the chaos and the turmoil.
She mentioned the previous generation, saying: "Well, millennials are a lot more weary.
They came into adulthood during the recession.
They lived through 9/11.
I think their view is a lot more depressing," she told you, "whereas Gen Z, our generation,
things can only get better."
Is that generally the sense among these 9/11 babies, Garrett, that it can only get better
GARRETT GRAFF: That was actually the -- my favorite quote in the entire piece, because
it was the one that was most surprising to me, the idea that they would look ahead and
see the millennials as the cynical, weary, tired ones, and that their generation they
see as having nothing but hope and optimism about the future.
I mean, I was expecting a much more depressing portrait of their view of America.
AMNA NAWAZ: I have to ask you about one quote that really struck me, because it is their
It's also a day of national mourning.
And there was one quote from someone named Laken, who said that she was listening to
radio stories about kids who had lost their parents on 9/11 and realized, "That's when
I first realized I was born on the worst day," which is just a heartbreaking thing to read.
When you talk to them, though, Garrett, really briefly, how do they view this day?
GARRETT GRAFF: Again, very little memory of it.
This is something that, for many of them, their parents talking about their birthday
is the only real memory that they have.
Laken, actually, a remarkable example of this.
Her name, she says her mother has taught her, means a newly created gift from God, and that
she was named that because she was born on 9/11, with the sense that sort of this was
a moment of hope amid so much national tragedy.
AMNA NAWAZ: It was very nice to see those messages of hope.
We should say, happy birthday to all of them from us.
Thank you to them for sharing their stories.
And, Garrett Graff, thank you to you for bringing their stories to us.
Always a pleasure to talk to you.
GARRETT GRAFF: Thanks for so much for having me.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And now it's time for the political analysis of Shields and Brooks.
That is syndicated columnist Mark Shields and New York Times columnist David Brooks.
Hello to both of you on this Friday night.
And so good to have just heard the conversation Amna had with Garrett Graff, telling us this
younger generation turning 19 today have an optimistic view of the future.
Isn't that something uplifting for all of us to hear?
But, Mark, back to reality right now.
And that is, even though this pandemic marches on, and even though we have got millions of
Americans unemployed, Congress again this week did not come to an agreement on relief,
economic relief, to those affected by the pandemic.
How much does this matter?
Who is responsible?
MARK SHIELDS: I think it obviously does matter a lot to the people, Judy.
You know, it's a very unnerving and embarrassing national statistic.
The United States alone of the Western democracies has the highest percentage of children living
That has been the case.
Children, you may have noticed, don't buy tickets to fund-raising dinners.
They don't have soft money.
And they don't have much clout politically.
And that's -- they are the victims.
And they're anything but silent victims.
But they're powerless victims.
And they count upon Washington and those in the state capitols and city halls to represent
their needs and to tend to their problems.
And I, quite honestly, think it's a reflection badly on both -- on the Congress itself.
Politically, I think the ultimate responsibility, as it invariably always does, will be with
the White House.
And that's the president and that's the Republicans.
But I think, quite frankly, that there's enough restiveness and restlessness in the ranks
of both parties of not doing anything that there's still an outside chance that something
could be done before the 30th of September.
JUDY WOODRUFF: By the Congress, you're saying.
David, what about the -- but what about this question of...
MARK SHIELDS: By the Congress, yes.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Sorry.
Didn't mean to interrupt.
You said by the Congress.
But, David, what about this question of, who is more responsible?
The Democrats acted months ago.
The Republicans waited.
They're now pointing fingers at each other.
DAVID BROOKS: Yes, I thought they took turns.
I think, on the larger issue, the Republicans probably have this wrong.
They're treating this as a normal fiscal circumstance, where it's important to save money and be
And they point out that hundreds of billions of dollars of the last CARES package have
not been spent yet.
But the fact is, this is not normal circumstances.
Most economists, even Republican economists, say, this is an extraordinary circumstances.
At least 63 million Americans are in serious trouble.
There's hunger in this country.
This is a time to be spending money out the door just to provide a cushion under people
in places -- in circumstances they can't control.
So, I give the intellectual fault to the Republicans.
I give the political fault to the Democrats.
From the beginning, they have played this more politically, compromised less, tried
to get the issue more than solve the problem.
And even in the final days, the Republicans proposed something like $500 billion in the
The Democrats passed something for about $3 trillion in the House.
If I were a Democrat, I would say, hey, people are starving out there.
They're only going to give us $500 billion, we will pass that.
We will take it to conference.
We will try to get it up.
But $500 billion is not what we want, but it's a lot of money, and it could help some
people, and then we will have an election.
We will try to do more later.
So I think, even at the end of the day, they should have taken the money, because Americans
And so they took the issue, instead of at least a piece of the solution.
JUDY WOODRUFF: I mean, Mark, I mean, for the ordinary person, it's just hard to understand
why, when the need is so great, there's no action.
MARK SHIELDS: No, I agree.
But I just want to correct the record.
All the respect and affection I have for David, he's absolutely wrong on this.
The Republicans -- the Democrats' initial legislation, which they did pass -- Republicans
have passed nothing -- was for $3 trillion.
Then, when the stalemate hit, the Democrats said, OK, we will drop it down from three
And what did the Republicans do?
Their initial offer had been $1 trillion.
So, what did they do?
Did they try and meet them halfway?
No, they cut it in half down to $630 billion.
I mean, so it was just -- it was strictly pro forma and quite counterfeit.
And the reality is, they cannot talk about the national debt.
The national debt has increased 40 percent since Donald Trump took the oath of office,
under the best economy in the history of the country, according to Donald Trump.
The national debt -- the national deficit has been met only three times in the past
51 years, all three times with a Democratic president, Bill Clinton.
So, I mean, let's not let the Republicans talk about deficits and debts.
When it comes to tax cuts, they're off the boards, and they're off the books.
JUDY WOODRUFF: David?
DAVID BROOKS: Threw me a lot there.
So, a lot of the Republicans didn't want to do anything.
They thought they'd spent $3 trillion, and that was enough.
And so, when they came up, they were at that point where they were at $1 trillion of additional
I thought Democrats should have seized on that moment.
And I think they -- in the -- in the first round, when they -- this was months ago -- they
- - the Democrats could have come down and really worked out -- maybe worked out something.
But, in the second round, then, after that round fell apart, then the Republicans were
like, OK, we're done here.
And what they proposed was pro forma.
On the deficits, in this moment, I completely agree with Mark.
This is not a moment to be thinking about deficits.
And, long term, I still think they're important.
When you pass 100 percent of GDP -- of debt to GDP, you're dancing with historically dangerous
That's a problem for another day.
MARK SHIELDS: Yes.
DAVID BROOKS: This is not -- it's not the problem for today.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Such a tough issue.
And I do want to turn, Mark, to the story that we have been discussing for the last
And that is the blockbuster book, another book by Bob Woodward, the journalist.
"Rage" is the title, new revelations about President Trump about what he knew about the
pandemic, about COVID-19, and what he said publicly.
What's your main takeaway from this?
MARK SHIELDS: My main takeaway, Judy, is that this is not a movie we have seen before.
Whenever an unflattering or really attack book comes out about a president or a White
House, they're immediately -- sources are dismissed as fired staffers, as people who
weren't that close and never saw the president, who had a grudge of some sort.
The source on this is the president himself, on tape, on the record.
And all I could think of was that night in August when we all sat together and listened
to Kristin Azika, the...
JUDY WOODRUFF: Right.
MARK SHIELDS: Urquiza -- excuse me -- the young woman from Arizona whose father Mark,
at the age of 65, had died from COVID-19 because...
JUDY WOODRUFF: Right.
MARK SHIELDS: ... as she put it, he believed the president.
He returned to his normal activity.
He was a very social animal.
He loved people.
He went out, took the chances, contracted COVID-19, and died alone five days on a ventilator
all by himself.
And, as she pointed out, his only preexisting condition was believing Donald Trump.
That was his only preexisting condition.
And we live in two Americas, the one her father died in and the one Donald Trump lives in.
And that -- this, to me, is just -- it is beyond shocking.
This is new territory for any president.
And yet I will predict that, in the next poll next week, he will still have the solid support
of 41, 42, 43 percent of the people.
JUDY WOODRUFF: David, your main take, and how much do you think it will affect the public's
view of the president?
DAVID BROOKS: Well, ascending levels of disgust.
First, the hubris to think, you could be the president and talk to Bob Woodward and not
get hurt by it.
Donald Trump walked right into this.
Two, the extreme cynicism of not only bumbling around in February and March, because you
didn't know how serious the pandemic was, but the confirmation that you did know, and
you still thought you could talk it down, as if you can talk down a force of nature,
and that this -- you wouldn't end up getting caught.
So, there's just a level of cynicism that's been revealed, more than just incompetence.
And then, finally -- and, to me, this is most revealing, I guess -- is the idea that, if
you had told the American people the truth, they would have panicked.
MARK SHIELDS: Yes.
DAVID BROOKS: It betrays a disregard and a condescension toward the American people which
is totally ridiculous.
And so I do think there's new stuff here, as there was last week in the Jeffrey Goldberg
piece about what he said about the war dead.
There's just a continued display of mischaracter, of poor character, immoral character.
We have seen it before, but it seems to escalate from time to time.
As for whether it will hurt, I guess I'm with Mark.
Three months ago, Joe Biden had a 7.5 percent lead in the poll, in the average of polls.
A lot has happened in the last three months.
Joe Biden has a 7.5 percent lead.
And the thing I would like to emphasize is that a lot of voters have given up on politics.
They're what we call low-information voters.
And the emphasis there is on low.
They have written off politics.
They're not paying attention to any of this.
They will probably never hear of the Bob Woodward revelations.
And so we have a race that is locked in stasis.
But the bad thing for Donald Trump is, he's only got a few weeks left, and this was yet
another week of crisis and scandal that he was not catching up.
So, you don't have too many weeks left.
And this was a week that was -- as far as his campaign is concerned, is wasted.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And very quickly, finally, to each of you, Joe Biden's message, is it
MARK SHIELDS: Judy, Joe Biden, I think, is coming through as a decent person.
I -- there's an old saw in politics, and that is, for any candidate, tell us why you want
to be governor or senator or president without mentioning your opponent once.
I think that'd be a very good discipline for the Biden campaign to go through.
Joe Biden -- America, understand this, is always on the market for one of two types,
either a compassionate conservative, some - - a conservative with a heart, or a liberal
with a backbone, a tough liberal.
And I think Joe Biden can show more toughness.
There are no riots, there are no burnings or buildings that are acceptable.
And Joe Biden's got to make that clear, while he stands, as he has for his entire career,
for justice, racially and economically, in the country.
I mean, that's got to come across.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And, David, just in a few seconds, the Biden message.
DAVID BROOKS: This is our way to disagree for Mark.
And I think he's been pretty tough.
This week, he called Trump despicable.
I think he hops on the weaknesses of the week, and he hammers them.
And senior citizens are backing Biden, and not Trump, in reversal of four years ago,
in part because of COVID, and because -- and Biden spent the week more or less hitting
him on that issue.
I think it's a pretty solid issue.
JUDY WOODRUFF: We're going to leave it there.
We thank you both.
David Brooks, Mark Shields, thank you.
MARK SHIELDS: Thank you, Judy.
JUDY WOODRUFF: As we remember the thousands of Americans who lost their lives on this
day 19 years ago, we also remember those who have passed away in the last weeks and months
Any friend who needed a home found one with Ronda Felder.
In her two-bedroom San Diego apartment, Ronda raised her two children, as well as at least
eight neighbors and cousins without a place to live.
RONDA FELDER, San Diego: I'm thankful for my children that I gave birth to and the ones
I didn't give birth to.
JUDY WOODRUFF: She believed there was always more to give, her daughter said, and even
went back to school at age 50 to become a social worker.
Ronda was 60 years old.
Wolodymyr Walter Lysniak came to America after World War II as a displaced person.
Hoping to keep alive stories of his native Ukraine, he founded the New Theatre in New
As an actor, theater director, and set designer, he put on countless plays.
Some covered somber topics, like the Ukrainian famine.
Others were comedies.
It was on stage that he met his wife, also an actress.
Together, they raised their two great loves, their daughters.
Walter was 92.
Jimmy Sanchez was a natural salesman with a knack for fashion.
Following in his parents' footsteps, Jimmy opened his own thrift store in San Antonio.
He was known for gifting clothes and toys from the store to families in need.
Witty, loud, and the life of the party, his wife said there was never a dull moment when
he was around.
He loved the movies, traveling, and spending time with his four children.
Jimmy was 40 years old.
Linda Gayle Wilson made a friend of everyone.
Her son said she never met a stranger.
A dedicated counselor, Linda worked with first-time offenders and the formerly incarcerated.
She believed in second chances, and that a little guidance could go a long way.
Linda enjoyed spending time with her husband.
A lover of literature, she enjoyed reading the Peter Rabbit books to her two sons, and
later took up writing poetry as a hobby.
She passed away in Colorado Springs at age 74.
Captain Franklin Williams arrived an hour early to every shift as a Detroit firefighter,
a position he held for more than 30 years.
Dedicated and talented, Frank excelled in everything he did, his daughters said.
He was a gifted tradesman, cook, and dancer.
The former high school athlete went on to coach football with the Police Athletic League
for 13 years.
In his later years, when he wasn't on the golf course, the 58-year-old was with his
wife, seven children and four grandchildren.
There are times the story behind a painting match the beauty of the work itself.
And special correspondent Jared Bowen reports on a hidden history behind the ceiling of
the Rotunda in Boston's Museum of Fine Arts.
JARED BOWEN: The upper reaches of the Museum of Fine Arts Rotunda is where the gods and
They stand in radiant glory.
They ride chariots.
And they soar on feathered wings.
They are white and idealized.
But they are him.
NATHANIEL SILVER, Curator, Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum: The man in these drawings
was clearly black, and I thought, what's going on here?
Who is this man?
Has anyone figured out who he is?
JARED BOWEN: These murals and figures have hovered over the MFA for roughly a century,
since they were conceived by painter John Singer Sargent in 1916.
But it's only now that there's been a comprehensive look at Thomas McKeller, the Black model behind
It's all thanks to an accidental discovery at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum by
collection curator Nathaniel Silver.
NATHANIEL SILVER: I opened the wrong cabinet, and happened to find this portfolio.
It was huge.
And I had never seen these Sargent drawings before.
JARED BOWEN: That find has led to Boston's Apollo, an exhibition examining the relationship
between Sargent and McKeller, who was the painter's principal model for the MFA Murals,
an artistic relationship lasting eight years.
NATHANIEL SILVER: It wasn't that just anyone could have helped Sargent get to this point.
It was Thomas McKeller specifically that allowed Sargent to unlock a creative potential that
had not been tapped before.
JARED BOWEN: Sargent was a celebrity painter, and tired of doing the portraiture that was
his bread and butter, when he received the MFA commission.
In these charcoal sketches that Sargent ultimately gave to his friend and patron Isabella Stewart
Gardner, we find the artist drawing the fine contours of McKeller, a sometime-contortionist-turned-stand-in
for mythological gods.
NATHANIEL SILVER: He was a veteran, a Roxbury resident.
He came from Wilmington, North Carolina, in the 1890s in the wake of devastating racial
JARED BOWEN: There is little known about the extent of the relationship between the two
But consider this Sargent painting of McKeller.
It's Sargent's only major nude, and was hung prominently in his studio, never intended
for public view.
NATHANIEL SILVER: Sargent lavished attention in making this work.
You can see it in the highlights on the shoulders and on the chest here, this incredible tiny
little shadow just over the Adam's apple, and another one just under the bottom lip.
This was not a painting that was dashed off in a few strokes.
This was a painting that he spent an incredible amount of time, effort and love in making.
HELGA DAVIS, Visiting Curator, Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum: The first thing I saw was
all the drawings together.
Performance artist Helga Davis is a visiting curator who directed this short film in which
the last of McKeller's direct descendants literally comes face to face with his legacy.
HELGA DAVIS, Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum: These sketches of my great-uncle are really
a means of survival for him.
JARED BOWEN: What do you see when you look at those murals?
HELGA DAVIS: I see, you made Apollo.
You made these things.
And here is the body that inspired it.
NATHANIEL SILVER: How could we possibly forget somebody who played so pivotal a role in the
production of Boston's public art?
That's a question that revolves around blind spots in the discipline of art history, of
history, and of society in general.
JARED BOWEN: The Gardner is confronting history here, calling out the erasure of a Black man
by a white artist a century ago, and what that looks like today, when there is finally
For the "PBS NewsHour," I'm Jared Bowen in Boston, Massachusetts.
JUDY WOODRUFF: So fascinating.
Thank you, Jared.
And on the "NewsHour" online right now: To many fans, actor Chadwick Boseman's death
was a shock, and added to the grief that many are already feeling this year.
We explore what he and his film roles meant, especially to young people.
That is on our Web site, PBS.org/NewsHour.
And that is the "NewsHour" for tonight.
I'm Judy Woodruff.
We hope you have a safe weekend.
you all, and goo
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