Tag Archives: PBS news analysis

“Shields, Brooks, Trump”
PBS: 30 June 2017

Mark Shields, analyst, The PBS NewsHour.
Mark Shields, analyst, The PBS NewsHour.
David Brooks, analyst, The PBS NewsHour.
David Brooks, analyst, The PBS NewsHour.
Donald J. Trump, President of the United States.
Donald J. Trump, President of the United States.

If you’re not a regular watcher of The PBS News-Hour, one reason to check in more often is the commentary and political analysis of New York Times columnist, David Brooks, and syndicated columnist, Mark Shields. They have been regulars on the show, along with moderator Judy Woodruff, since 2004.

Every Friday, this threesome tries to make sense of the political insanity that has transpired in the previous week. Their analysis is usually fair, insightful, and done in respectful form with good humor. There is also a personal decorum in the exchanges among these three that is often lacking in many other such forums.

As one example, take their analysis on the PBS NewsHour of June 30, 2017, focusing on Donald Trump’s latest “tweetstorm” regarding cable TV commentators Mika Brzezinski and Joe Scarborough.

If you’ve not heard about this, here’s the gist of it: President Trump, reacting to criticism of him made by Brzezinski and Scarborough on the CNBC politics show, Morning Joe, launched one of his Twitter commentaries (short internet messages known as “tweets”) on Thursday June 29th (8:52-8:58 a.m.) aimed at the pair as follows:

I heard poorly rated @Morning_Joe speaks badly of me (don’t watch anymore). Then how come low I.Q. Crazy Mika, along with Psycho Joe, came…..to Mar-a-Lago 3 nights in a row around New Year’s Eve, and insisted on joining me. She was bleeding badly from a face-lift. I said no!

President Trump’s tweet — with its personally-laden insults, and street-style language — elicited a furor of criticism just prior to the 4th of July weekend, many condemning the president for his remarks.

On that same morning, for example, three U.S. Senators responded to the President’s tweet — Sen. Lindsey Graham (“your tweet was beneath the office”); Sen. Ben Sasse (“this isn’t normal and it’s beneath the dignity of your office”); and Sen. Susan Collins (“this has to stop…we must show respect and civility”). It also brought back into the arena a review of similar coarse comments and/or tweets made earlier by either candidate or President Trump.

But on the PBS NewsHour that Friday evening, Shields and Brooks, responding to Judy Woodruff’s questions about the incident, offered some cogent and compelling perspectives on the incident — as well as the continuing problem of our nation’s declining discourse. Here’s a video excerpt of their comments during that segment of the PBS NewsHour, followed by the transcript.



Transcript

JUDY WOODRUFF: ….Well, speaking of the tweets, David, we have seen some eyebrow-raisers. We have heard some gasps. But I guess the president’s tweet yesterday morning about the “Morning Joe” MSNBC cable hosts, Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski, where the president tweeted very personal insults, low I.Q., face-lift, and so forth, it seemed to reach a new low.

Do we learn anything new about this president at this point?“…It’s morally objection-able. And I do wish more senators would say that…”

“…[T]he issue here is the corruption of our public sphere. And that’s what Donald Trump does with these things. And it makes it harder for us, our country, to ever get back to normal, when these things are corrosive to just the way people talk to each other.”

DAVID BROOKS: Well, one of the nice things, if we can find a silver lining here, is, it’s possible for everybody to be freshly appalled, that we are not inured to savage, misogynistic behavior of this sort.

And I saw a lot of people around. And I certainly felt in myself a freshness, a freshness of outrage.

And I must say, when I hear Roy Blunt say it’s unhelpful to himself, well, that’s true, but it’s more than unhelpful to Donald Trump to tweet in this way. It’s morally objectionable. And I do wish more senators would say that. Lindsey Graham and Ben Sasse have said it, but a lot of others, oh, it’s just not helpful.

It’s more than that. And the issue here is the corruption of our public sphere. And that’s what Donald Trump does with these things. And it makes it harder for us, our country, to ever get back to normal, when these things are corrosive to just the way people talk to each other.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Corruption of the public sphere, Mark?

MARK SHIELDS: I think David is guilty of understatement.

No, I think he put it very well. This is hateful and it’s hurtful. Judy, I don’t know what a parent or a grandparent is supposed to say to a 10-year-old or a 12-year-old who said anything comparable to this and was sent — banished to their room or whatever else for it, I mean, that the president of the United States can talk this way, and there are no consequences.

The irony is that he’s more engaged on the back-and-forth with Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski on this than he has been on health care or any other issue. He obviously — this is what matters to him. And it’s just that classic — not to be sectionally biased, but it’s sort of a New York bully approach to life, I mean, that you say anything, you do anything, because the important thing is winning.“…This is hateful and it’s hurtful…I don’t know what a parent or a grandparent is supposed to say to a 10-year-old or a 12-year-old… I mean, that the president of the United States can talk this way, and there are no consequences…”

“…[I]t’s sort of a New York bully approach to life, I mean, that you say any-thing, you do anything, because the important thing is winning.

And I just — you know, I don’t know what else there is to say, other than you want to put yourself through a car wash after you listen to the president talk this way.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Are there consequences, David? I mean, I heard what you said about some senators are just saying, well, it’s not helpful, but other senators are going further and saying, this is really wrong.

But are there ever consequences? Do we just go on like this?

DAVID BROOKS: Yes. Well, we will see if people eventually get disappointed and get tired.

I do think if it — one of the things that may begin to offend people is potential mafioso behavior. One of the things we heard this morning in the op-ed piece in The Washington Post by the two hosts was that the White House sort of threatened sort of extortion, that, if the show becomes more Trump-friendly, then a National Enquirer investigation into their relationship will be spiked.

And that’s sort of mafioso, extortion behavior. That’s beyond normal White House behavior. It’s beyond political hardball. It’s sort of using your media allies, The National Enquirer and the Trump administration, to take down enemies. And that’s not something we have seen in America since maybe Nixon, or maybe never.

JUDY WOODRUFF: It’s true, Mark, we haven’t seen anything like this in a while.

MARK SHIELDS: We haven’t.

But I think David’s point about extortion certainly strengthens the position of James Comey, that threats and extortion or a hint of extortion is part of the modus operandi. To Republicans …

JUDY WOODRUFF: I mean, we should say the White House is denying it.“…[D]o we snapback? Do the norms that used to govern politics reestablish themselves after the Trump administration, or are we here forever?

“…[T]he politics is broken up and down. And Trump may emerge from a reality TV world that is much more powerful than we think. And there is the prospect that this is where we are, which is an horrific thought.”

MARK SHIELDS: The White House is denying it. Jared Kushner, I guess, is denying it, or perhaps somebody else through him is denying it.

But the fact that there’s negotiations going back and forth or communications on this subject, you do this and we won’t print an injurious and harmful article in The National Enquirer, one of the great publications of our time.[said facetiously].

But, Judy, I remember when Republicans used to get upset and angry at Bill Clinton because he didn’t wear a suit and tie in the Oval Office. And Donald Trump, who is supposed to be this great deal-maker, I mean, Joe and Mika Brzezinski have Morning Joe, which is a show that’s watched very much in this area, but it doesn’t have a great national audience, and probably 1 percent of the people.

And he just made them a national — everybody now knows about this show. It’s probably increased their ratings, juiced them up. So I don’t understand where — if anything, it’s but counterproductive in every sense.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, it is true, David, that this is — it’s hard to find; you said there may be a silver lining in fresh outrage, but beyond that, I’m not sure where it is.

DAVID BROOKS: No.

And, you know, the big question for me is, do we snapback? Do the norms that used to govern politics reestablish themselves after the Trump administration, or are we here forever?

And I hope, from the level of outrage, that we have a snap back. But the politics is broken up and down. And Trump may emerge from a reality TV world that is much more powerful than we think. And there is the prospect that this is where we are, which is an horrific thought.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Horrific thought.

MARK SHIELDS: Yes, it is that.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Mark Shields, David Brooks, we thank you both.

MARK SHIELDS: Thank you, Judy.
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Mika Brzezinski and Joe Scarborough on their show, June 2017.
Mika Brzezinski and Joe Scarborough on their show, June 2017.
The Shields-Brooks commentary, and the PBS NewsHour generally, offer some of the more intelligent oases in TV news analysis these days, especially important in these current times, and one more reason to be thankful that there is public broadcasting.

Readers of this story may also find “Brian’s Song: C-SPAN, 1977-2012” of interest. See also at this website, the “Politics & Society” page for additional stories on politics, or the “TV & Culture” page for stories in that category. Thanks for visiting, and if you like what you find here, please make a donation to help support the research and writing at this website. Thank you. – Jack Doyle

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Date Posted: 3 July 2017
Last Update: 3 July 2017
Comments to: jdoyle@pophistorydig.com

Article Citation:
Jack Doyle, “Shields, Brooks, Trump: PBS – 30 June 2017,”
PopHistoryDig.com, July 3, 2017.

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Sources, Links & Additional Information

The PBS NewHour Website.

Jenna Johnson, “President Trump Angrily Lashes Out At ‘Morning Joe’ Hosts on Twitter,”
Washington Post, June 29, 2017.

Glenn Thrush and Maggie Haberman, “Trump Mocks Mika Brzezinski; Says She Was ‘Bleeding Badly From a Face-Lift’,” New York Times, June 29, 2017.

“Shields and Brooks on GOP’s Health Care Bill Gridlock, Trump Tweet Backlash,” YouTube.com, posted by, The PBS NewsHour, June 30, 2017.

“PBS NewsHour,” Wikipedia.org.

Daniella Diaz, “GOP Lawmakers Blast Trump’s ‘Morning Joe’ Tweets,” CNN.com, June 29, 2017.

Mika Brzezinski and Joe Scarborough, Op-Ed, “Donald Trump is Not Well,” Washington Post, June 30, 2017.

J. Freedom du Lac and Jenna Johnson, “Mika Brzezinski Explains What President Trump’s Tweets Reveal About him,” Washington Post, June 30, 2017.

Callum Borchers, “The Strange Saga of Trump and ‘Morning Joe’ Now Involves The National Enquirer,” Washington Post, June 30, 2017.

Emily Jane Fox, “Joe and Mika Defend Themselves Against the Haters; The Morning Joe Hosts Talk Access to Donald Trump, Ratings, and Their Critics,” Vanity Fair, December 15, 2016.
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