PBS NewsHour full episode, October 28, 2022

PBS NewsHour full episode, October 28, 2022

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JUDY WOODRUFF: Good evening. I'm Judy Woodruff. On the "NewsHour" tonight: political violence. A man targeting House Speaker Nancy Pelosi attacks her husband in their home, the latest example of rising threats against lawmakers.

Then: a new boss. Elon Musk takes over Twitter and immediately fires the company's top executives promising to overhaul the social media platform. Turning out the vote. Republican and Democratic candidates in Nevada make their last pitches to Latino communities, hoping to earn the edge in close contests. DAVID DAMORE, University of Nevada, Las Vegas: It's still a really low participation state, so there's an opportunity for both parties to grow the electorate here. JUDY WOODRUFF: And it's Friday.

David Brooks and Jonathan Capehart analyze the week's news. All that and more on tonight's "PBS NewsHour." (BREAK) JUDY WOODRUFF: U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's husband, Paul, was severely beaten with a hammer this morning when an attacker broke into their San Francisco home. The speaker was not there at the time.

Authorities said the suspect, identified as 42-year-old David DePape, specifically targeted the residents. He shouted "Where is Nancy?" before assaulting her husband. San Francisco Police Chief William Scott said officers checking on the home witnessed the attack.

WILLIAM SCOTT, San Francisco Police Chief: Our officers observed Mr. Pelosi and the suspect both holding a hammer. The suspect pulled the hammer away from Mr. Pelosi and violently assaulted him with it. Our officers immediately tackled the suspect, disarmed him, took him into custody, requested emergency backup, and rendered medical aid. JUDY WOODRUFF: Paul Pelosi suffered blunt force injuries to his head and body.

He is in the hospital and is expected to make a full recovery. The attack comes as threats to American lawmakers are at an all-time high two years after the January 6 attack on the Capitol. Lisa Desjardins has been following all this, and she joins me now. So, Lisa, hello. What more do we know about what happened? LISA DESJARDINS: Well, we did get a statement just a few minutes ago from Speaker Pelosi's office.

They did say that Paul Pelosi did make it through surgery for this, a skull fracture, as well as for damage to the right arm and to his hand, surgery for those things. They say that he was -- successfully got out of surgery and is expected to fully recover. So that is good news. We know that he was assaulted with a hammer. We don't know if there were other weapons involved or other aspects of the assault that happened before the police arrived. Hopefully, we will get those details soon.

The suspect, as you said, is a 42-year-old, someone believed to have resided in Berkeley, California, nearby. Now, we asked Mary McCord -- of course, we know that she's someone who's been in national security, Department of Justice, an expert on these things -- about some things that she's been hearing and that researchers have found about an online presence for someone with his same name. Here's what she told us. MARY MCCORD, Former Justice Department Official: It's not confirmed that this is the same person, but a person with the same name as the attacker is connected to a couple of different online platforms, one being a Blogspot that seems to be espousing free speech and decrying censorship by the government. And the other is a Web site that engages in antisemitism, anti-LGBTQ -- anti-LGBTQ rhetoric, QAnon conspiracy theories, and hate speech targeting women and immigrants. LISA DESJARDINS: And we have confirmed, I was told by a source he was brave, that, in fact, the suspect did ask, "Where's Nancy?" that he went there looking for the speaker of the House specifically.

He has now been charged with multiple counts, including, Judy, a very serious one, attempted murder, attempted homicide, as well as assault with a deadly weapon. There is a joint task force, the FBI, Capitol Police, and San Francisco police, working on this case. JUDY WOODRUFF: So, Lisa, a lot of questions, obviously, about how he managed to get in. Where was the security at her home in San Francisco? What is known right now about threats against lawmakers and how they're being protected? LISA DESJARDINS: We're going to be talking about this, I think, for a few days, at least, as we understand this event more. But here's what I know.

There was no police force there securing the residence. There is not security at the speaker's home when she is not there. This is the case for all the protectors in Congress. Remember, as many of our viewers know well, she is second in line to be president of the United States. JUDY WOODRUFF: Yes.

LISA DESJARDINS: And yet no security at that residence at all, other than any private security, maybe cameras or something, that they might have had. Now, this summer, the House of Representatives did give a lot, $10,000, for every member of the House for the first time to spend on personal security at their home. They were encouraging things like cameras. Some members were able to do that.

And some members are still working on that. But we know, Judy, as you reported, threats are rising still in both parties. Here we are now coming up on two years after January 6. Still, the threats are rising to an incredible level. I spoke to members of Congress today on the phone and staffers who say, it is not subsiding.

Our officers are -- our offices are still getting these threats. Now, it is to both parties, however, lopsided. JUDY WOODRUFF: Yes. LISA DESJARDINS: More Democrats getting threats, people are in competitive races, leaders, anywhere on the January 6 Committee. They have a detail with them all the time, and women of color in particular getting these threats. Also, Judy, unfortunately, as there's more demand and need for security, there are fewer Capitol Police officers.

There are 10 percent fewer Capitol Police officers today than there were before January 6. JUDY WOODRUFF: So, so much has changed, and yet you're saying the protection level has gone down. LISA DESJARDINS: Correct.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, just... LISA DESJARDINS: Or the number of officers, rather, has gone down. JUDY WOODRUFF: The number of officers, to be exact. Well, so much here to unpack. And I know you're going to be reporting on this in days to come.

LISA DESJARDINS: I will. JUDY WOODRUFF: Thank you, Lisa. LISA DESJARDINS: You're welcome. JUDY WOODRUFF: In the day's other news: Billionaire Elon Musk began his shakeup of Twitter and faced a flood of requests to reinstate banned users. The Tesla CEO has vowed to restore free speech to the platform. So far, his takeover plan has been short on details, but he says he does intend to form what he called a content moderation council with diverse viewpoints.

We will have more on all this after the news summary. Stocks rallied on Wall Street today, boosted by a string of better-than-expected earnings reports. The Dow Jones industrial average climbed 828 points to close at 32862. The Nasdaq rose 310 points, and the S&P 500 added 94. Residents in a Miami Beach, Florida, condominium on the same avenue of a condo that collapsed last year were forced to evacuate last night after city officials deemed the building unsafe.

Engineers found a crack in the main support beam in the garage and other structural issues. The 14-story building is about a mile from the Surfside condo that collapsed, killing 98 people. A federal judge in Arizona has refused to bar a group from monitoring outdoor ballot boxes in Maricopa County.

He said banning them would violate the group's constitutional rights. That comes amid reports of voter intimidation, including some involving masked and armed people who are closely watching the drop-off boxes. In the Philippines, at least 42 people have died in a flash -- in flash floods and landslides triggered by a tropical storm. Rescue crews helped the elderly into votes in a hard-hit southern province. Homes there were engulfed by floodwaters. The storm is expected to hit the country's East Coast tomorrow.

Russia has announced an end to calling up new troops to fight in Ukraine. Moscow ordered the partial mobilization of 300,000 reservists last month after a string of military defeats, in a move that drew rare public dissent. In a televised meeting today, President Putin spoke with his defense minister, Sergei Shoigu. They acknowledge mistakes had been made. VLADIMIR PUTIN, Russian President (through translator): I want to thank everyone who took part. You yourself noted that there were certain problems and difficulties at the first stage.

This is probably inevitable, given such events have not been held in our country for a long time. JUDY WOODRUFF: Meanwhile, Ukraine says that it has now shot down more than 300 Iranian-made drones. They have been part of a new Russian campaign to target civilian infrastructure. Activists in Iran say police shot and killed at least two protesters in the southeastern city of Zahedan.

Demonstrators took to the streets, calling for the death of the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. More than 270 people have been killed since protests against Iran's morality police began in September. A new United Nations report estimates more than 96,000 Haitians have fled Port-au-Prince due to rampant gang violence. It spiked after the assassination of President Jovenel Moise in 19 -- in 2021. Gangs now control about 60 percent of the capital city. Haiti's government has requested help from foreign troops to end the brutality.

And two passings to note tonight. Rock 'n' roll legend, icon Jerry Lee Lewis died today at his home in Mississippi. Lewis emerged onto the rock scene in the 1950s and became known for his piano talent, explosive energy and cockiness. Jeffrey Brown has more.

JEFFREY BROWN: In 1957, Jerry Lee Lewis belted out his hit "Whole Lot of Shakin' Going On" for a national television audience. The attitude and style, pounding piano and blasting rhythm would help define rock 'n' roll, with Lewis an instant stars, nearly rival to Elvis Presley. But revelations about his personal life -- he had married a 13, possibly 12-year-old cousin, while already married -- brought scandal that derailed his career.

Run-ins with the law, drug and alcohol abuse, violent deaths of family and friends, it was all part of the Jerry Lee Lewis story, but he also managed to reinvent himself in the 1970s and after on the country music scene, recording nearly two dozen top 10 country hits. MAN: Please join me in congratulating the Veterans Era Artist inductee, long overdue in my opinion, Jerry Lee Lewis. JEFFREY BROWN: And was honored as a founding father by generations of pop and rock stars.

Elton John called him the best rock 'n' roll pianist ever. BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN, Musician: Jerry Lee Lewis. JEFFREY BROWN: And at the 1995 opening of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Bruce Springsteen introduced Lewis as -- quote -- "the man who doesn't play rock and roll; he is rock and roll." Jerry Lee Lewis died today at his home in DeSoto County, Mississippi, south of Memphis. He was 87 years old.

For the "PBS NewsHour," I'm Jeffrey Brown. JUDY WOODRUFF: And the Reverend Calvin Butts, the longtime leader of Harlem's Abyssinian Baptist Church, also died today. For decades, Butts fought for racial and social justice as the church's senior pastor.

He was known for bridging divides. And he hosted global and national leaders from across the political spectrum. Reverend Calvin Butts was 73 years old.

Still to come on the "NewsHour": with the war in Ukraine raging on, a former Russian diplomat weighs in on Putin's ambitions; David Brooks and Jonathan Capehart discuss the upcoming midterms; what baseball fans can expect as the World Series kicks off; and much more. Billionaire and Tesla CEO Elon Musk now owns Twitter, after finally completing a $44 billion takeover of the social media platform. Within hours, he fired several top executives and he took the company private today at $54.20 a share. It's raising a number of concerns over misinformation, hate speech and the future of the company. Amna Nawaz has our look.

AMNA NAWAZ: Judy, Elon Musk has promised to rollback content moderation policies and restore some suspended users, including former President Donald Trump, who today praised the takeover on social media. It's all part of Musk's plan to prioritize free speech on the platform. But critics fear the site could be overrun with hate speech, bots and disinformation. Yesterday, Musk tweeted a message on that to Twitter advertisers, saying -- quote -- "The reason I acquired Twitter is because it's important to the future of civilization to have a common digital town square, where a wide range of beliefs can be debated in a healthy manner.

That said, Twitter obviously cannot become a free-for-all hellscape where anything can be said with no consequences." For more on this, I'm joined by Elizabeth Lopatto. She's senior writer at The Verge and author of the newsletter "This Week in Elon." Welcome to the "NewsHour." Thanks for joining us. ELIZABETH LOPATTO, The Verge: Thank you.

AMNA NAWAZ: So, let's just start with what we know so far. Elon Musk has been in charge for one day. He's already made some big changes. Tell us about those and also why on earth he walked into the Twitter headquarters carrying a sink. ELIZABETH LOPATTO: Well, I think Elon Musk is one of the better known Twitter users on the platform. And there is a meme of letting that sink in letting an idea sink in, and the man loves puns.

So there you are. As for his changes, if you're familiar with the court case, you know that we got a bunch of his text messages when it seemed like he was trying to get out of this deal. And he initially was going to join Twitter's board, rather than take over the company. But after the former CEO, Parag Agrawal, had asked him to -- asked him to refrain from making fun of Twitter on Twitter, Musk two minutes later in the text log is like, actually, I don't think I need to be on the board. And, after that, he launched his takeover bid. So he seems to be not very fond of Agrawal or anybody who reported directly to him, as there was a mass firing last night of executives.

AMNA NAWAZ: Agrawal, as we should mention, among those firings, right? But I also want to ask you about what this means sort of writ large for the company. I mean, $44 billion is what he paid. We're talking about a whopping $54.20 a share. Is this actually good for Twitter as a company? ELIZABETH LOPATTO: Well, it's certainly good for Twitter shareholders. I mean, this is an also-ran social network, and Musk priced in the premium before the markets declined.

So, actually, if you're a Twitter shareholder, this is great. Maybe, if you're working at the company, it's less great. He's talked about cutting costs and getting rid of employees. That shows up in the texts. There was reporting earlier this week from The Washington Post that 75 percent of employees could expect to be fired. And Twitter was already facing layoffs before the Musk bid of at least 25 percent of staff.

So I think there are a lot of people right now at the company who are worried about their jobs. Separately, he's talked a little bit about wanting to get rid of spambots and wanting to promote free speech. And those two things do seem to be a little bit opposed, because they're both content moderation issues. And if you get rid of the people who are doing content moderation, naturally, there are going to be more spambots. AMNA NAWAZ: So let's talk about what this means for the future of Twitter, because, if you look at some Pew numbers at what people experienced before Musk took over, you see about, what, one in five adults, U.S. adults, are actually on Twitter.

That's the world we're talking about. Of those, about one in five say that they have experienced some kind of harassment or abusive behavior on Twitter. And that was before the takeover. Here is where I now take you to the reporting of Drew Harwell over at The Washington Post, who reported this morning that, overnight, there were rampant racial slurs being tweeted across the platform, one user tweeting -- quote -- "Elon now controls Twitter.

Unleash the racial slurs," and then tweeting racial slurs for Jewish people and Black people. These have been retweeted and shared thousands of times. Is this what the future of Twitter holds? ELIZABETH LOPATTO: Honestly, it's hard to tell.

A platform that's full of racial slurs is not very friendly to advertisers. And Twitter gets 89 percent of its revenue right now from advertisers. So I think that's why we saw that statement on Thursday. But the other thing that I will say is, immediately before the show, some of the car companies that advertise on Twitter -- GM is the one I'm thinking specifically of -- have started canceling their advertising runs.

So I think, if we do find more racial slurs, more harassment, more abuse, that's not really a brand-safe environment. It's not an environment, a lot of advertisers want to be in, and he's going to have a very hard time meeting the numbers he needs to meet in order to pay off the debt that he used to buy this company. So the other thing that's maybe worth keeping in mind, for those of you who are not super familiar with Elon Musk, is that he says he's going to do a lot of things, and then does maybe like half of them. So it's still pretty hard to tell what's actually going to happen over the next weeks to months, even. AMNA NAWAZ: Elizabeth, do you see him -- on that point, do you see him allowing former President Trump back on the platform? He said he was open to it.

ELIZABETH LOPATTO: You know, I imagine that's what his oversight board is for, because I think one of the things that's important here is that Elon Musk's reputation is on the line. And so if Musk himself is personally responsible for returning Trump, and then Trump misbehaves, the consequences for Musk are maybe not great. I think the oversight board announced today, where he says he wants to diverse viewpoints, is partially meant to shield him from that kind of blowback.

AMNA NAWAZ: Of course, we will all be watching and following. And worth reminding people that former President Trump was banned because leaders at Twitter were worried after January 6 that his tweets could actually foment more violence on the ground. That is Elizabeth Lopatto, senior writer at The Verge, joining us tonight. Thank you so much. ELIZABETH LOPATTO: Thank you.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Latino voters have long propelled Democrats to statewide victories in Nevada, but concerns over inflation and cost of living have made Democratic incumbents as vulnerable as ever in the state. Lisa Desjardins is back now. She recently traveled to Las Vegas to talk with Latino voters about the contest that may well determine the balance of power in Congress. LISA DESJARDINS: In this room, a resolve to steer the political winds of Nevada and of the country. MAN: Catherine Cortez Masto, running for United States Senate, if she loses, we lose control of the Senate.

If she wins, Democrats keep control of the United States Senate. LISA DESJARDINS: The Culinary Workers Union has 60,000 members. These are the people who keep Las Vegas running, cleaning, cooking and welcoming tourists every day. In their time off, including today, they organize into a turnout machine for Democrats, with an ambitious goal, to knock on a record one million doors before Election Day. They see this as worker-to-worker conversations from a union that is mostly Latino to a state that is now majority-minority, including Asian American and Black communities.

WOMAN: I am here from the Culinary Union, just a friendly reminder of November 8 elections. LISA DESJARDINS: Latinos are the largest group of color here, nearly a third of the state. Democrats have dominated with these voters in the past. But that's now in question.

Pio Rejas is a 19-year-old Peruvian American and the passionate president of the Latino student alliance at the College of Southern Nevada, a community college. He's voting Democratic for incumbent Senator Cortez Masto, who's locked in a tight race. Her support of abortion access is key to Pio and that she's invested in the Latino community. But as for other Latinos: PIO REJAS, College Student: Well, I think, right now, the Latino community, it's just -- I feel like they're not, like, only Democrats.

I feel, like, they're like trying to find a person LISA DESJARDINS: They're not locked into voting Democratic. PIO REJAS: No, no. But I will say there's, like, a big percentage of people who are Democrats in Latino community. LISA DESJARDINS: But even with that, Latinos are -- now are looking and might vote either way? PIO REJAS: Yes. LISA DESJARDINS: Looming over all this is the economy.

Tourism has been back, but Nevada remains the state longest and hardest hit by the pandemic. Lower wage workers, disproportionately Hispanic, face a rent crisis. And inflation here is tied for the highest in the nation, with gas prices a daily reminder, this in a vast state brimming over with close high-stakes races from governor down. It is a nail-biter for U.S. Senate. And three of the four U.S. House seats here could swing either way.

SEN. CATHERINE CORTEZ MASTO (D-NV): I am so excited to be with all of you. LISA DESJARDINS: Cortez Masto is seen as the most vulnerable Senate Democrat in the country, a must-win for her party to hold the Senate. She first won in 2016, thanks largely to Latinos.

And she's campaigning hard with them again, in person and with an ad stressing her Mexican American heritage. SEN. CATHERINE CORTEZ MASTO: All of us sharing dinners at my grandmother's. LISA DESJARDINS: We asked her about what Pio raised, economic worries. SEN. CATHERINE CORTEZ MASTO: I take on big oil because they're squeezing my families at the gas -- I see it.

My family lives here as well. But my opponent is not. He actually makes money at a D.C. law firm that represents big oil. He's opposed to prescription drug negotiation.

LISA DESJARDINS: That charge was directed at the Republican challenger, former state Attorney General Adam Laxalt. ADAM LAXALT (R), Nevada Senatorial Candidate: Hi, Nevada! LISA DESJARDINS: The son and grandson of U.S. senators, he is riding a Trump wave. ADAM LAXALT: So we have one shot to save this great state. LISA DESJARDINS: Laxalt charges that Cortez Masto and Democrats are the ones out of touch. ADAM LAXALT: And people are as upset as they have ever been with what's happening to America.

They can't believe that Joe Biden and Catherine Cortez Masto have done this much damage to our great country and to our great state in just two short years. LISA DESJARDINS: To win, he and Republicans have launched something new this year. This is Operation Vamos, a grassroots effort from the National Republican Senatorial Committee and coalitions director Helder Toste. Today, they found Brazilian American Vinny Magalhaes, a conservative who sees education and the economy as key. VINNY MAGALHAES, Nevada Voter: Gas prices and all those things, like, cost of, like, groceries and all those things as well. So....

LISA DESJARDINS: What's that like for you? VINNY MAGALHAES: Compared to, like, a couple years ago, it's like -- it's bad. LISA DESJARDINS: This effort will get to 145,000 doors, Republicans estimate, a far cry from the one million-plus for groups on the left. But Republicans see a new Nevada. HELDER TOSTE, National Republican Senatorial Committee: It's a new Florida. It's a state that, as it's becoming more diverse, more Hispanic, more Asian, more African American, we're also seeing Republican margins grow. DAVID DAMORE, University of Nevada, Las Vegas: Republicans are never going to win the Latino vote.

It's about cutting the markets. LISA DESJARDINS: David Damore chairs political science at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. The state is a mix of neon Vegas cityscape, suburbs and desert. But, everywhere, there is an independent streak and low voter turnout, with Hispanics especially. DAVID DAMORE: It's still a really low participation state.

So there's an opportunity for both parties to grow the electorate here. LISA DESJARDINS: Seizing that opportunity with both feet is another vulnerable Democrat, Congresswoman Susie Lee, in Nevada's 3rd District, including some of Las Vegas. She's also getting creative with a dance lesson campaign event at a Hispanic-owned small business. Her closing message is personal and tangible, that she pushed for the funds to keep businesses like this afloat in the pandemic, and has focused on health care and checkbook issues. REP.

SUSIE LEE (D-NV): Very clear distinction between what we fought for and what we delivered, not just for Latinos, for the entire community, and what Republicans have done, which is nothing. APRIL BECKER (R), Nevada Congressional Candidate: Well, we see where her plan has gotten us. We have got some of the highest gas costs in the country. LISA DESJARDINS: April Becker is the Republican challenger, a high-energy attorney who also knows this diverse district, here at an Ethiopian community event.

She believes many Hispanics have core conservative values. APRIL BECKER: They are turning away and coming to the Republican Party, and, hopefully, we don't let them down. LISA DESJARDINS: Both parties are fiercely fighting for this group. How and how many Hispanics vote here could set the course for the House, Senate and country. North Las Vegas City Councilman Isaac Barron is a Democrat. ISAAC BARRON, North Las Vegas City Councilmember: And whoever can come out and make that connection with Latinos is going to take this.

LISA DESJARDINS: And if Latinos don't show up? ISAAC BARRON: It's going to be hard for Democrats to carry the day. LISA DESJARDINS: Back at college, Pio isn't sure who will win this year. But he has a sense of what's ahead for Latinos. PIO REJAS: I feel like it's our time to, like, have, like, a progress, you know? LISA DESJARDINS: It's your time? PIO REJAS: It's our time, yes.

LISA DESJARDINS: For the "PBS NewsHour," I'm Lisa Desjardins in Las Vegas, Nevada. JUDY WOODRUFF: The finish line is just a week-and-a-half away for thousands of candidates vying for seats in Congress and at the state and local level. Let's turn now to the analysis of Brooks and Capehart.

That is New York Times columnist David Brooks and Jonathan Capehart, associate editor for The Washington Post. Hello to both of you on this Friday night. JONATHAN CAPEHART: Judy. JUDY WOODRUFF: And, Jonathan, I want to bring up something at the beginning of our conversation that's kind of hard to think about. And that is the husband of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was attacked in their home in San Francisco overnight.

He's had surgery. They say he's going to recover. But what does this say? JONATHAN CAPEHART: It's shocking to -- it was shocking to wake up to that news this morning.

We have gotten to a point, I think, in our political discourse where things like this are bound to happen. And it is imperative upon our elected officials, the elected leaders, political leaders, to tamp down the rhetoric, to call it out, and to say, I don't know how to say it, but stop it. I think folks need to look at, what would have happened if Speaker Pelosi had actually been home? It's bad enough that Mr. Pelosi was attacked. He's 82 years old.

But if we don't get to a situation where Republican leaders step forward and say to the country that the conspiracy theories and the violent rhetoric is not -- it's not appropriate, it's un-American, it is dangerous, then we're going to see more of these attacks, I think. I mean, that's -- I don't know what you think, David, but I just -- we're in a very scary moment in this country if something like this can happen. DAVID BROOKS: Yes, I mean, when I talk to politicians, they say their death threats have gone up. For those of us in the media, death threats have certainly gone up. I have a friend out in San Diego, the chairman of the county council there, a guy named Nathan Fletcher, who was the face of the county on COVID over the last couple of years. His home was firebombed in the middle of night.

He wakes up, his kid is screaming, and they have to get everybody out. And I have lunch with them. He's chairman of the county council. He's not, like, governor.

JONATHAN CAPEHART: Right. DAVID BROOKS: And he's got security detail. And that's just the way it is. There was the guy who wanted to kill Brett Kavanaugh.

And so these are isolated -- these are incidents. The question is how isolated. The climate is certainly inflaming them.

Are we going to see much more widespread voter intimidation, much more violence in the streets? You would think the risks have gone up. I hope we're not at the spot where we're really entering into an era of violence. But it does seem -- and I have thought this for last year or two, just talking to people -- that something bad is going to happen. And something bad has just happened.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Yes. It's just -- it's hard to comprehend. But it does seem to be the kind of thing that we're seeing more of right now.

And it's in this atmosphere, Jonathan, that we are just a couple of days, what, 10, 11 days away from the midterm elections. Temperatures are running high. What are you seeing? You talk to a lot of people.

JONATHAN CAPEHART: Well, the number one thing that comes through is that nobody knows really what's going to happen. You can look at the polls. Folks are looking at polls. But, in the end, we're not going to know what's happening in the country, how the country really feels until the folks go to vote, and those votes are counted, and we start seeing the results. In some parts of the country, it could be the economy that's driving people to the polls. In other parts of the country, threats to democracy, threats to freedom, abortion rights could be a part of -- could be a part of the conversation.

I was in Pittsburgh yesterday interviewing the Pennsylvania -- current Pennsylvania state attorney general, Josh Shapiro, Democratic candidate for governor. And in talking to him, his message is threats to democracy woven into the economic message, the freedom message, because it works against the candidate he's running against, Doug Mastriano, who was here in Washington on January 6, a dabbler in conspiracy theories. That will work in Pennsylvania. But does the threat to democracy argument work in other parts of the country? We will find out on election night. JUDY WOODRUFF: You talk to a lot of people too.

What do you... (CROSSTALK) DAVID BROOKS: Well, I know. I know what's going to happen.

(LAUGHTER) JUDY WOODRUFF: Tell us. DAVID BROOKS: It's my job to have false confidence in my knowledge. (LAUGHTER) DAVID BROOKS: I mean, all we can do is look at the polls over the last month or two. And there's been a significant swing to the Republican Party.

And if you want to know how the polls have done this week, there's more swing to the Republican Party. You see shifts in the generic ballot, which is, which party do you want to control of Congress? You see shifts in places like Georgia, where Herschel Walker in a series of polls has been leading. And I think, if this trend is real, you can expect this trend to continue. In the last several midterm elections, in the last 10 days, there was an additional 1.5-point swing toward the president -- against the president's party.

And so once these things get rolling, they tend to continue. So it's possible, of course, the Democrats will keep the House, but FiveThirtyEight, the polling -- the organization, says it's down to about a 20 percent chance. And so the odds are just hurling against the Democrats. And you could say, hey, we have sunk back to normal. This is a president whose approval is in the low 40s.

It's just normal for his party to lose a lot of votes. And I think that's somewhat true, just a normal midterm election. I do think a few weaknesses in the Democratic approach have been revealed. One, they just haven't been able to get over -- be the party trusted on the economy. And Biden had these big economic packages, but, somehow, they have not said, that Democratic economic approach, we want that.

Of the voters voting on the economy, 70 percent favor the Republicans. Crime, they have sort of missed that. The Gallup Organization found that the number of people who say crime is increasing in their neighborhood is increasing at the fastest point since 1972. And they haven't been able to growth that issue. And then Hispanics. Trump, as we know, did much better with Hispanics the second time.

And while the Republicans haven't continued to gain among Hispanics, that Hispanic gain the Republicans saw in 2020, that seems to be about where it is right now. JUDY WOODRUFF: So, do you see that it is moving inexorably in the Republican direction, and for the reasons that David laid out? JONATHAN CAPEHART: Well, inexorably is the word that I will take issue with. Yes, if you're looking at the polls, it is looking like the momentum is shifting or has shifted back to the Republicans. But in this hyper-news cycle that we're in now, 11 days is a very long time. Each day is an eternity.

So I think we're going to see swings back and forth over time. There are two variables here that make me hedge in terms of my false confidence here. (LAUGHTER) JONATHAN CAPEHART: One is the surge in early voting that we have seen in places where there's early voting. When Democrats hear that there's a surge, there's this confidence that, oh, that's -- those are our voters that are going out. But we don't know that for sure. And, also, I'm wondering, the other variable is abortion, the Dobbs decision.

When it hit, it was an earthquake. That earthquake has subsided. But will we see it show up 11 days from now and the impact that will have? And so, I mean, sure, right now, David, there's a shift. But whether it's inexorable, I'm not that confident to say it's an inexorable shift.

DAVID BROOKS: I admire your reserve. (LAUGHTER) JUDY WOODRUFF: I mean, the poll -- I mean, David, we know the polls have not always been accurate in the past. I mean, we're looking at trends.

You're looking at trends. DAVID BROOKS: Right. JUDY WOODRUFF: So do we need to be humble at this point? DAVID BROOKS: No, absolutely not.

(LAUGHTER) DAVID BROOKS: No, there's just a lot of polls. I mean, they could be wrong, of course. JUDY WOODRUFF: Huge.

DAVID BROOKS: And we would say they were a bit wrong about 2016. But there have just been so many. It's not -- I mean, there are now hundreds of polls, not only the national polls, but in race after race after race. It's very hard to see a place where the polls are now trending in the Democratic direction, including weird things like -- won't happen, like the governorship of New York state, where the Republicans are picking up a little steam, where Democrats are pulling their ad spending out of marginal districts or out of districts that should be safe for them. And the interesting thing on the abortion issue, it really was a real issue. It still is a real issue.

But over the last couple of weeks, if you ask people, what do you care about, among highly educated voters, Dobbs is still a huge issue. But among less educated, less affluent voters, it's become less of an issue, and the economy has become a greater issue. And I think Democrats are somewhat in -- well, one of the things they did, they said, here's what you should care about, democracy and Dobbs. These are the major issues.

And a lot of people said, no, actually, we care about crime, inflation, and homelessness. And a lot of Democrats, I think, for too long said, no, you shouldn't care about those things. You should care about these things. And if you're going to run a campaign, don't tell people what they should care about. Just focus on what they actually care about.

And I think that would have been a better strategy. JUDY WOODRUFF: Do you want to respond? JONATHAN CAPEHART: I mean, there's so -- there's so much there. Look, I think Democrats are running -- national Democrats, sure, will say, run on this, run on that, and this is their message, what your message should be. But, in individual races, there are plenty of Democrats who are saying, don't tell me what to do. I'm out there campaigning. I'm listening to my constituents.

And they care about the economy. They care about gas. They care about -- they care about jobs. And they are -- and they are running in that way, and also to the point where a big story has been made about how much President Biden has been out on the campaign trail, and the fact that nobody wants -- wants to campaign with him.

But the president is comfortable enough in his own skin where, subliminally, his message is, do what you need to do. Do what you need to do to win. JUDY WOODRUFF: And you were saying that's one of the things he -- you talked to him about in your interview with him last week. I do want to say, we got a glimpse of what's going on in Democratic thinking when the hot mic between the president and Chuck Schumer a couple of days ago. We're not going to play sound up, but, essentially, what they said was that the debate in Pennsylvania wasn't hurting as much as it -- as might have been anticipated, Schumer said.

He thought things might be looking better in Nevada, but worse in Georgia. So we did get a little bit of a glimpse. But, on Pennsylvania, David, you had John Fetterman, the lieutenant governor, up against Mehmet Oz, the celebrity TV doctor.

A lot of comment afterwards about how the stroke that Fetterman had in May has had lingering effects. What did you take away from that? DAVID BROOKS: Yes. Well, I saw the debate the next day, because I couldn't watch it live.

And I'd read the articles which said that he was struggling. I was unprepared for how much he was struggling. And so I found it sad. And so the question is, should it be a live political issue? If I were a Democrat in Pennsylvania and I supported the Democratic agenda, I would vote for John Fetterman. I mean, it would not change my vote, because the important thing is, if you're a Democrat, who's in control of the Senate.

I do not -- I think communicating is part of the job of being a senator. And maybe he will recover. And we -- the piece had -- there was a -- and maybe he will be fine. We pray so. But I do think, if you can't communicate as well, then you're just going to be less effective at the job.

And there was a guy in Illinois, Mark -- Senator Mark Kirk, who had a stroke several years ago. JUDY WOODRUFF: Right. DAVID BROOKS: And it wasn't -- and he tried to run for reelection. It wasn't a big issue, but it was an issue, because people thought he might be impaired in different ways than Fetterman. JONATHAN CAPEHART: I think that watching John Fetterman was halting. We're so used to seeing politicians on the debates -- on the debate stage polished or not polished, answering questions or not answering questions.

But watching John Fetterman was a halting experience. But I do think, for a lot of voters, sure, it is legitimate to have questions about whether the person can do the job. But you mentioned Senator Kirk. We also had Senator Van Hollen who had a stroke. Senator Ben Ray Lujan had a stroke. Having a stroke does not prevent you from having the competency to do the job.

And I think that, if anything, it, in an odd way, humanized him, because he's not the only person who has ever had a stroke, who has had to recover from a stroke. And I think it made him even more relatable than he already was, which was his big calling card in his campaign. So, yes, I think, as halting as it was, I don't think it's disqualifying. JUDY WOODRUFF: Sensitive, sensitive subject. And we will see how voters -- how voters react in Pennsylvania.

JONATHAN CAPEHART: Yes. JUDY WOODRUFF: David Brooks, Jonathan Capehart, thank you. JONATHAN CAPEHART: Thanks.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Thank you. Over the past week, the Russian government began accusing Ukraine and preparing to use a dirty bomb, an explosive device that would spew radioactive material. Russia also began its annual nuclear exercise this week and threatened to shoot down satellites that are helping Ukraine's military. Nick Schifrin gets a unique perspective on Russia's latest moves. NICK SCHIFRIN: Judy, this year, we have interviewed countless Ukrainian, American and other foreign officials about the war in Ukraine. Many of them have had their own assessments about the inner workings of the Kremlin and Russian foreign policy.

Tonight, an assessment from within the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Boris Bondarev had a 20-year career as a Russian diplomat, first in Asia, and then focused on disarmament and arms control. But, this May, he resigned, calling the invasion of Ukraine -- quote -- "an unspeakable act of cruelty."

He wrote that in a new "Foreign Affairs" article titled: "The Sources of Russian Misconduct: A Diplomat Defects From the Kremlin." And Boris Bondarev joins me now. Welcome to the "NewsHour." As I just said, you had a 20-year career. You write about some of the concerns you had about Russian foreign policy and actions within the ministry for many years.

So, why did you decide to resign after this further invasion of Ukraine? BORIS BONDAREV, Former Russian Diplomat: I realized on February 24 this year that, since my country invaded Ukraine, our neighbor, I realized that I didn't want to be any further associated with the Russian government or with the Russian policies. I believe that this war is the gravest crime perpetrated by President Putin against Russia, Russian people, and prospects for my country in the future. NICK SCHIFRIN: You say that a few dozen diplomats have quietly left the Foreign Ministry, but you acknowledge you're still the only one to publicly break from Moscow. Why do you still think that you're the only one, even eight months after this war began? BORIS BONDAREV: So, it's not a matter of pride for me to be, like, the only one for now.

And, unfortunately, many, many Russian diplomats are still blindly, blindly believing in anything that President Putin or Minister Lavrov or any other high officials would tell them. It's quite regretful. NICK SCHIFRIN: Let's talk about that blind faith in leadership. You write the Ministry of Foreign Affairs discouraged independent thought. And you say that the war is a demonstration of how decisions made in echo chambers can backfire.

What do you mean? BORIS BONDAREV: So, all of the decision-makers have only that information that is reported to them. And this information is quite different from what is going on in reality, because nobody wants to displease them. Everybody wants to say something pleasant, something nice, even if it doesn't correspond to reality, just because to make themselves more secure and to help better career prospects.

Nobody now dares to say that the leadership is wrong about anything. NICK SCHIFRIN: Over the last week, we have heard from Putin and some of his senior officials suggesting that Ukraine was somehow planning to attack its own territory with a dirty bomb, using conventional explosives to spread radiation. Some U.S. officials believe that this is a cover story for Russia preparing to perhaps attack Ukraine with a dirty bomb. Why do you think that Russian officials have brought up the possibility of a dirty bomb in Ukraine? BORIS BONDAREV: I think that could be a disinformation campaign in order to derail the trust between Ukraine and the Western partners. And, also, we couldn't -- we cannot exclude that this is a kind of a preparatory work to justify the eventual use of nuclear weapons by the Russian Federation.

But I would like to think that we are not still at that point yet. I believe that, if he has a understanding that any possible use of nuclear weapons would have a very devastating retaliation, he would think twice. If we continue to say that we don't want to provoke Mr. Putin from using nuclear weapons or we don't want to escalate and we don't want to follow his escalation game, we are seriously risking to encourage Putin into his further nuclear blackmail, which may eventually lead us to the point when he will have to use these nuclear weapons, really. NICK SCHIFRIN: Jake Sullivan, the national security adviser, has communicated with his equivalent in the Kremlin privately and said this publicly.

There would be -- quote -- "catastrophic consequences' for Russia if the Kremlin did use a nuclear weapon. Do you think that message has been heard? BORIS BONDAREV: I believe this message must have been heard, and -- because, for now, we don't see -- as far as I can judge, we don't see any signs of Russia preparing any kind of nuclear strikes. But I would -- I would like also to add that this understanding should also be shared and affirmed by other countries, not only the United States and European countries, but also by China, India, and other very important, important regional and global players. NICK SCHIFRIN: Ukraine says that, as of right now, it doesn't want to negotiate with Vladimir Putin. And you seem to agree in your essay.

You say that Russia would use any cease-fire or any stopping of the war to rearm. And you write the Putin must experience a -- quote -- "comprehensive rout in Ukraine." Why? BORIS BONDAREV: As long as he's still winning the war or he can present it that he is winning the war, he will still keep power and his course of war of aggression will be forever. It's not about Putin himself.

It's about changing this course of aggression. It's about changing the course of our policy, which would lead to change the government system. And that means that the entire political regime impersonated by Mr. Putin must go. And only the major military defeat in Ukraine, in my mind, can make people realize that enough is enough.

NICK SCHIFRIN: Boris Bondarev, thank you very much. BORIS BONDAREV: Thank you. JUDY WOODRUFF: Major League Baseball's World Series gets under way tonight in Houston.

John Yang has more on what's known as a Fall Classic. JOHN YANG: Judy, this year's Series puts a team that dominated the standings all season long, the Astros, against a team that barely made the playoffs, the Phillies. While pro football's Super Bowl is the biggest event on the U.S. sports calendar now, a new history of the World Series calls it "The Grandest Stage." The author is Tyler Kepner, the New York Times national baseball writer.

He joins us from Houston, where game one is going to be played tonight. Tyler, thanks so much for joining us. This year was the first year of a new playoff format. You had more teams making it. You had a new -- an additional Series.

And you have got sort of a team that barely made the playoffs and probably wouldn't have made -- that wouldn't have made the playoffs last season, the Phillies, heading into the World Series. A team that won more games than any other team in either the National or the American League, the L.A. Dodgers, didn't even make it to the championship series. What's your take on this new format? TYLER KEPNER, The New York Times: Well, it's sort of displays both sides of it, right? We have got one team that dominated, as you said, the American League all year, led the league in wins, and the other one, sort of the number six seed, the final seed, on the National League side. And that's what can happen. I think, the way baseball is set up now, no salary cap, a lot of teams have some built-in advantages. The Yankees and the Dodgers are pretty much going to get to the postseason just about every year.

So this is a check on that. This is a check on their supremacy. And it really gives six teams per league a chance to do this, to go to the World Series. JOHN YANG: The first chapter in your book, you talk about sort of the pressures of playing in the postseason. Of course, this year, we saw Bryce Harper hit a two-run homer descend the Phillies, as you point out, the number six seed, into the World Series. But you go back, and you look at another Phillies marquee hitter, Mike Schmidt, another postseason, 1983, where he really didn't do very well.

And he told you he sort of -- it was the sort of the -- he talked about that as sort of the fear of failure. TYLER KEPNER: Yes, that's a very real thing. And it was great to be able to talk to Mike Schmidt, because he was the most valuable player of their championship in 1980. But, in 1983, when they got back to the World Series, he was one for 20 with a broken bat single.

And that happened to be the first game I ever went to in the World Series in '83. So he talked about how, in '80, he was just so locked in, he was confident, he could take the ball the opposite way and sort of wait for his pitch. And, in '83, he was jumpy, and he was out front, and he was hitting ground balls or pulling everything and just wasn't really the best version of himself. And I think that's what everybody strives to be. We talk about guys who perform under pressure, like a Derek Jeter.

Well, really, throughout his career, he was a great player, and he performed to his career norms during the postseason, and that's what guys want to do. They just want to be the best version of themselves and eliminate any pressing, that it's pretty natural to some people. JOHN YANG: And the flip side of that are sort of the unlikely heroes.

You define them as the player who makes a seismic impact on a victorious World Series while barely registering otherwise in the Major Leagues. Do you have a favorite example of that? TYLER KEPNER: Yes, well, I think back to the first Series I ever watched as a fan was 1982, the Cardinals and the Brewers. And Milwaukee comes back to St. Louis for game six needing one win to win its first championship, and they have got a Hall of Famer on the mound, Don Sutton. And he's pitching against a guy for the Cardinals, a rookie named John Stuper.

And John Stuper had a very short career. But in that elimination game, he pitched a complete game and saved the bullpen for game seven. He pitched through two-and-a-half-hours of rain delays.

He's most famous for being the coach at Yale for 30 years, and he said his players would get a kick out of looking at -- looking him up on YouTube and seeing him pitching in the World Series. And so, whatever he did, even though he had a short big league career, he could always say he was a champion who came through for his team when it mattered most. JOHN YANG: Another fun chapter, a fun, for me, chapter in the book was talking about sort of the big moments in World Series that everyone knows, like Carlton Fisk's home run, walk off homer for the Red Sox in 1975, or Kirk Gibson 's home run in 1988. But there were also sort of smaller moments that either set those big moments up or had as an important role in the World Series victory. What's some of your favorite examples of those? TYLER KEPNER: Yes, well, we think about the perfect game by Don Larsen in 1956, right? There's only been 24 perfect games, I think, in the history of baseball, and one of them was in the World Series. Didn't win the -- World -- didn't win the title, though, for the Yankees.

That was only game five. So the very next day in Brooklyn, the Dodgers are facing elimination. They put a relief pitcher named Clem Labine on the mound. And Clem Labine throws a 10-inning one-hit shutout.

And it -- the game ends on Jackie Robinson's final hit of his career. So it was an amazing game. But it will always be overshadowed, of course, by a perfect game. But when you talk about Jackie Robinson's final hit and a 10-inning complete game shutout by a relief pitcher, I mean, those are some things that sort of blow your mind.

And it happened right after the perfect game, and very few people remember it. JOHN YANG: The book is "The Grandest Stage: A History of the World Series," the author Tyler Kepner. Thank you very much.

TYLER KEPNER: Thanks so much, John. Great to be here. JUDY WOODRUFF: Big baseball weekend coming. And before we go, join moderator Yamiche Alcindor her and her panel on tonight's "Washington Week" for insight and analysis on the latest from the campaign trail.

And tomorrow on "PBS News Weekend," a look at the historic Israel-Lebanon Maritime deal signed by two nations technically still at war. And that's the "NewsHour" for tonight. I'm Judy Woodruff.

For all of us at the "PBS NewsHour," thank you, please stay safe, and we'll see you soon.

2022-10-31 21:42

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