March 17, 2023 - PBS NewsHour full episode
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March 17, 2023 - PBS NewsHour full episode
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03/17/2023 | 57m 46s | Video has closed captioning.
March 17, 2023 - PBS NewsHour full episode
Problems Playing Video? | Closed Captioning
GEOFF BENNETT: Good evening.
I'm Geoff Bennett.
AMNA NAWAZ: And I'm Amna Nawaz.
On the "NewsHour" tonight: The International Criminal Court issues an arrest warrant for Russian President Vladimir Putin for war crimes in Ukraine.
GEOFF BENNETT: The FAA investigates a series of near-collisions on airport runways.
AMNA NAWAZ: And a new stripped-down version of the classic play "A Doll's House" brings Jessica Chastain back to Broadway.
JESSICA CHASTAIN, Actress: It feels like you're incredibly exposed as an actor, because you're not given -- you're not able to hide behind anything.
(BREAK) AMNA NAWAZ: Good evening, and welcome to the "NewsHour."
A whipsaw week for the banking industry has come to an end amid nagging fears and calls for action.
President Biden asked Congress today to authorize tougher penalties for executives of failed banks.
GEOFF BENNETT: Meantime, the parent company of Silicon Valley Bank filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.
The sudden collapse of that tech-focused bank last Friday touched off the turmoil that's kept markets off-balance all week.
AMNA NAWAZ: Wall Street had rallied on Thursday, but the optimism faded today.
The Dow Jones industrial average lost 384 points, or 1 percent, to close below 31862.
The Nasdaq also fell three-quarters-of-a-percent.
And the S&P 500 was down 1.1 percent.
The International Criminal Court targeted Russian President Vladimir Putin today with an arrest warrant.
It alleges he's responsible for illegal deportations of children from Ukraine.
The Kremlin called the warrant -- quote -- "outrageous and unacceptable."
Russia does not recognize the courts jurisdiction, nor does the United States.
Russia's Defense Ministry has announced it will honor the fighter pilots who intercepted a U.S. drone over the Black Sea this week.
The unmanned craft crashed off the Crimean coast.
Pentagon video released Thursday showed a Russian plane dumping fuel on the drone.
After a second pass, there was visible damage to its propeller.
Published reports say the U.S. Justice Department is investigating China's ByteDance, the owner of TikTok, over surveillance of Americans.
ByteDance has acknowledged U.S. journalists and others were targeted using TikTok data.
It says it fired those responsible.
Today's reports came as Britain and New Zealand joined the U.S. in barring TikTok from government phones.
China argued against the bans.
WANG WENBIN, Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesman (through translator): We call on the countries concerned to recognize the objective facts, effectively, respect the market economy and the principle of fair competition, and stop generalizing the concept of national security.
AMNA NAWAZ: The Biden administration has ordered all federal agencies to delete TikTok from government-issued devices.
Congress, the U.S. military, and more than half of all U.S. states have taken similar steps.
In France, chaos engulfed Paris a day after the government raised the retirement age from 62 to 64 without parliamentary approval.
Marches and rallies filled the streets all day.
The government defended its actions, and unions vowed to force a reversal, with neither side showing any sign of stepping back.
OLIVIER VERAN, French Government Spokesman (through translator): We are carrying out this reform, which is difficult, which is not popular.
There is no majority of French people who support it, and we are perfectly aware of it.
REGIS VIECELI, CGT Union Representative (through translator): The CGT union calls for a massive movement.
That's the only thing that will get them to back down.
When they start seeing the financial impact, they will go and cry on Macron's shoulder.
AMNA NAWAZ: After nightfall, protesters and police faced off in the elegant Place de la Concorde.
Police fired tear gas after some in the crowd threw fireworks and paving stones.
Back in this country, the Environmental Protection Agency warned states to stop blocking deliveries of hazardous waste from the train derailment site in East Palestine, Ohio.
Several states have tried to halt the shipments of contaminated soil and wastewater to certified storage sites.
The EPA says any such move would likely violate federal law.
There is word that actor Lance Reddick has passed away.
His publicist said he died this morning of natural causes.
Reddick was known for his work in the TV series "The Wire," "Fringe," and "Lost."
He also had a recurring role in the John Wick movies.
Lance Reddick was 60 years On this St. Patrick's Day, celebrations around the world turned streets into seas of green.
In Dublin, Ireland, that included aliens in saucers followed by dancing aliens.
In Savannah, Georgia, revelers in green T-shirts thronged the 199th version of the city's annual parade.
And at the White House, the Irish prime minister met with President Biden.
Outside, the White House fountain flowed green today.
And a former Australian pro surfer set a new record today for the world's longest surfing session.
Blake Johnston rode some 600 waves at a Sydney beach for more than 40 hours.
Hundreds of supporters cheered the feat that raised money for youth mental health initiatives.
Still to come on the "NewsHour": new evidence gives weight to the idea that COVID came from natural origins; what one man hopes to achieve with a billion-dollar donation for conservative causes; David Brooks and Jonathan Capehart discuss the week's top political stories; plus much more.
GEOFF BENNETT: The International Criminal Court's decision to issue an arrest warrant for Russian President Vladimir Putin today marks the first time in history that the ICC has indicted a head of state from a permanent member of the U.N. Security Council.
It's the most dramatic step taken to try and hold Russia accountable for the war in Ukraine.
Nick Schifrin starts our coverage.
NICK SCHIFRIN: Of all Russian crimes committed in Ukraine, mass graves, cities reduced to rubble, buildings that were sheltering women and children and housing families destroyed, the ICC chose a crime that Russia has celebrated.
At a massive pro-war rally last month, the hosts showed off Ukrainian children.
The stadium watched propaganda of the children in their hometown, Mariupol, that was destroyed by Russian soldiers, and then hugging their supposed savior, who had helped force them at gunpoint across the border to Russia.
Russian TV has shown Ukrainian children stolen from their homeland receiving Russian documents.
And it's been blessed by the very top.
Last month, Russian President Vladimir Putin told Presidential Commissioner for Children's Rights Maria Lvova-Belova Russia was saving children from Eastern Ukraine.
VLADIMIR PUTIN, Russian President (through translator): The tragedy that is happening in Donbass affects our young children.
Unfortunately, that's true during the blatant aggression in Donbass against our people.
Of course, children have suffered.
NICK SCHIFRIN: Today, the ICC indicted Putin and Lvova-Belova.
JUDGE PIOTR HOFMANSKI, International Criminal Court (through translator): It is forbidden by international law for occupying powers to transfer civilians from the territory they live in to other territories.
Children enjoy special protection under the Geneva Convention.
NATALIYA GUMENYUK, The Reckoning Project: From some of the testimonies and also analytical reports and what we hear from the people, there is an attempt to indoctrinate those kids.
NICK SCHIFRIN: Nataliya Gumenyuk is the founding member of The Reckoning Project.
For "Vanity Fair," she and her team documented families whose children were kidnapped and then returned, including Yevhen Mezhevyi.
MAN (through translator): I put the children on the bus, hugged and kissed them.
GIRL (through translator): One man said he would be returned in seven years.
People said five or seven years.
BOY (through translator): They asked me again, do you want to join a foster family or an orphanage?
NICK SCHIFRIN: Tonight, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy called the indictment historic.
VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, Ukrainian President (through translator): Separating children from their families, depriving them of any opportunity to contact their relatives, throwing them in remote regions, all this is an obvious state policy of Russia.
NICK SCHIFRIN: So, could President Putin end up being arrested and put on trial by the International Criminal Court?
David Scheffer was U.S. ambassador at large for crimes issues during the Clinton administration.
He's now a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations.
David Scheffer, welcome to the "NewsHour."
A senior official in the administration told me today that this would be the most consequential prosecution of international justice since the Nuremberg trials of Nazi leaders.
Why do you think this announcement is significant?
DAVID SCHEFFER, Former U.S.
Ambassador at Large For War Crimes: (AUDIO GAP) Secondly, bear in mind that indicting or issuing an arrest warrant against the head of state is always going to be a very, very significant development in international criminal justice.
And it has been done before over the last 30 years.
Many senior leaders, top leaders of countries have actually been indicted and brought to justice before international criminal tribunals.
And even before the International Criminal Court, al-Bashir of Sudan, Gadhafi of Libya, they were -- they were indicted while they were in power.
But the consequence, which is what Mr. Putin now faces, is that it does delegitimize the individual, so, first of all, certainly as an international pariah.
But, secondly, even domestically, it starts to erode at that person's power domestically.
And I think it'll be very interesting to watch how this affects the Russian opposition within Russia with respect to Mr. Putin's own fate in the near future.
NICK SCHIFRIN: We have never, of course, seen the ICC indict a head of state from a country so powerful as Russia.
Do you think this could lead one day to his arrest?
DAVID SCHEFFER: I think there's that possibility.
Even if it doesn't, he goes to his grave being an indicted fugitive of an international criminal tribunal.
But I do think 10, 15 years from now, perhaps Mr. Putin will not literally be in political power in Russia.
And, at that point, his exposure is even greater.
And the opposition, if they seize power in Russia, will see it to their advantage to actually turn him over to The Hague.
We certainly saw that in the Balkans with respect to Mr. Milosevic.
Ultimately, Serbia saw it to its advantage to turn him over to The Hague.
So, yes, it's different stakes.
It's a nuclear power.
We have to always be very careful on that scale.
But it's not improbable that he would someday, maybe many years from now, actually face the bar of justice.
NICK SCHIFRIN: Today, the Kremlin responded by pointing out it's not a signatory to the ICC, and, therefore, an arrest is -- quote - - "null and void."
What legal argument does the ICC make to indict a head of state that is not a signatory?
DAVID SCHEFFER: Well, because, if the state parties to the Rome Statute agree that the sovereign immunity -- head of state immunity does not apply with respect to those who are issued -- subject to arrest warrants by the court.
In this case, Ukraine is not a state party to the court.
But under the terms of the Rome Statute of the ICC, it has invited the ICC to actually have jurisdiction with respect to the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the various atrocity crimes related thereto.
So there is jurisdiction for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.
And, in this case, Mr. Putin would not have the defense of head of state immunity, because it's an international criminal tribunal.
It's not a Ukrainian court.
It's an international court, and that defense is not of effect before the International Criminal Court.
NICK SCHIFRIN: In some ways, today's charge is narrow.
The story that aired right before we started focused on the fact that it is the deportation of children from occupied territory.
The ICC had also been considering charges against Russia for indiscriminate bombing against civilian targets.
What's the significance of the ICC choosing this charge?
DAVID SCHEFFER: Well, this charge is actually low-hanging fruit, because they have been so transparent and self-incriminating in Russia about what they're doing with the Ukrainian children.
It's self-admitted by the leadership of Russia, and particularly these two individuals who were named today in arrest warrants.
But this will only be the beginning, because other crimes such as knocking out the power grid during the winter for the civilian population, the missile strikes throughout Ukraine hitting the civilian population and cultural sites, et cetera, all of that is to come.
This is just the first of, I would predict, a good number of arrest warrants that would name Putin, but also other individuals at the leadership, whether it be in the Foreign Ministry, the Defense Ministry, and the military forces at the command level.
NICK SCHIFRIN: David Scheffer, we will have to leave it there.
Thank you very much.
DAVID SCHEFFER: Thank you.
GEOFF BENNETT: U.S. airports have seen an uptick in near-collisions involving commercial planes, a problem prompting the FAA to call for a safety summit, launching a review of safety standards and procedures, with the goal of preventing catastrophe.
At airports across the country, one close call after another, the latest just outside Washington, D.C., at Reagan National Airport earlier this month, when a Republic Airways plane took a wrong turn, crossing the path of a United Airlines jet just as it was about to take off, prompting alarm at air traffic control.
CONTROLLER: United 2003, cancel takeoff clearance!
UNITED PILOT: Aborting takeoff, aborting.
GEOFF BENNETT: Six other recent near-misses are now being investigated by the federal government, including at New York's JFK, when an American Airlines plane crossed the runway as a Delta flight was taking off, in Honolulu, when a United flight crossed the runway as a cargo plane was about to land, and, in Austin, Texas, when two planes came within 100 feet of each other as one was landing and the other taking off.
Last month, senators pressed acting FAA Administrator Billy Nolen on the spate of near-collisions.
SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX): What can we do to make sure that doesn't happen again?
BILLY NOLEN, Acting Administrator, Federal Aviation Administration: It is not what we would expect to have happened.
But, when we think about the controllers, how we train both our controllers and our pilots, the system works as it is designed to avert what you say could have been a horrific outcome.
GEOFF BENNETT: And, this week, the FAA convened a safety summit with aviation leaders and labor groups to figure out where the problems lie.
PETE BUTTIGIEG, U.S. Secretary of Transportation: We are particularly concerned because we have seen an uptick in serious close calls that we must address together.
GEOFF BENNETT: And aviation correspondent Miles O'Brien joins us now.
So, Miles, can we say for certain whether the number of near-collisions is on the rise?
Or is it possible we're just paying more attention?
MILES O'BRIEN: Well, we certainly are paying more attention, aren't we, Geoff?
And that's a good thing for all of us, because that ultimately is what leads to safety.
Just because we don't have an accident doesn't imply we have safety.
So we have to be aggressive about these things.
Looking at the numbers, the FAA classifies these by severity.
The top two most severe incidents are incidents where a near-collision almost happened or there was a potential for one.
If you look back for -- over airline operations since about 2016, there have been a handful of these per year of the top two categories.
And then the most severe one, the one that is narrowly missed a collision, there have been only three over the past five years and none in 2022.
So the fact that we're dealing with a half-dozen or more in the first quarter of 2023 indicates something truly is going on here.
GEOFF BENNETT: What are some of the factors that officials will be looking into as they delve into these investigations?
MILES O'BRIEN: Well, one of the things they will be looking at is the aviation industry post-COVID.
In the midst of the pandemic, there were lots of retirements, lots of layoffs.
And as the flying public has returned to the skies, almost with a vengeance, we have a lot of new people, both in the cockpits, in the cabins, in the air traffic control tower cabs, and, for that matter, the people driving the vehicles that push and pull the airplanes and service them.
So we have kind of a juniorocracy of going on there, which is not good.
Now, on top of that, there been a lot of distractions.
In January, we had that massive computer meltdown, which shut down the system for quite a while.
We have repeated cases of unruly passengers, problems on board these aircraft.
There have been concerns about 5G cellular communications interfering with the navigation.
And so you have a system that is stressed and maybe doesn't have the most experienced people dealing with it at the moment.
GEOFF BENNETT: We should point out, though, that the FAA says that air travel is safe.
The American aviation system hasn't had a fatal airliner crash in nearly a decade.
Still, Miles, what can be done to improve the situational awareness for pilots and air traffic controllers?
MILES O'BRIEN: Well, the FAA has tried to make this a focus.
And they have done things like change the way they mark the runways and the taxiways.
There are flashing lights indicating where an active runway may be.
The charts which we receive as pilots indicate so-called hot spots at airports where there is difficulty.
A couple of airports, Atlanta and Dallas/Fort Worth, have built these concrete so-called end-around taxiways, which make it possible for airliners to get to where they're going without crossing an active runway.
That obviously creates a much safer situation.
But the one they just built in Atlanta, which just opened recently, cost $81 million.
And not every airport has that flexibility to do that.
A place like Boston Logan Airport, which has all kinds of intersecting runways, doesn't have the turf to build extra taxiway space.
GEOFF BENNETT: To your point, we have an aviation system that has grown rapidly, but the number of runways in airports has not.
The last new major airport in this country was opened in 1995, Denver International.
Is it at all practical to imagine building new airports with safer runways?
MILES O'BRIEN: Yes, it's tough in this country.
Just think about China for a moment.
They plan to build 200 airports over the next 15 years.
That would -- that would double the number of airports they have.
But they don't have a messy democracy to contend with.
It's difficult to start bulldozing places to create new airports and build new runways in this country.
There's all kinds of permitting process.
And there's a lot of neighbors who don't like this idea.
But we should point out there are more than 5,000 airports in the United States, public use airports.
Some of them are pretty small, but there are quite a few that are either military or civilian which are large and underutilized.
And if we move some of the traffic there, that might solve some of this problem.
But here's the dirty little secret.
The airlines don't like this idea.
They like their hub-and-spoke system, a couple of dozen airports that get a tremendous amount of traffic funneled into them.
And they don't necessarily want to open up new airports, which opens up the possibility of new competitors, making it more difficult for them to make a buck.
GEOFF BENNETT: Aviation correspondent Miles O'Brien.
Miles, thanks so much.
MILES O'BRIEN: You're welcome, Geoff.
GEOFF BENNETT: Newly discovered genetic sampling from Wuhan, China, provides stronger evidence that COVID-19 moved from animals into humans back in 2019.
But the origins of the virus remain uncertain.
John Yang has the latest.
JOHN YANG: Almost from the beginning of the pandemic, the debate over its origin focused on two theories, that there was a natural source, that humans were first infected by a wild animal, or that the virus leaked from a lab.
Scientists say the natural transmission theory has been strengthened by new genetic evidence from the market in Wuhan, China, where there was a big COVID outbreak in December 2019.
Samples known to have the virus have also been found to have genetic material from animals, much of it from the common raccoon dog, a small animal related to foxes.
Katherine Wu first reported this in "The Atlantic", where she's a staff writer.
She also has a Ph.D. in microbiology.
Katherine, what is it that these scientists found that points them in the direction of a wild animal being the source?
KATHERINE WU, "The Atlantic": Right.
So this is another clue really strengthening the case for a natural origin for this virus, which is the case for so many other viruses.
Being able to take a swab at that market and extracting genetic material from both the virus and an animal known to be susceptible to the virus, as is the case for the raccoon dog, is a pretty good indication that an infection of that animal, potentially of these raccoon dogs, may have happened at the market at the time the pandemic began.
That's not exactly a smoking gun.
The strongest evidence for a true natural origin would really be being able to find evidence of a live infected animal, so, for instance, having a swab that has virus in it that was taken from an animal's mouth or nose, for instance, or maybe being able to find, for instance, an infected raccoon dog in the wild now.
That's not quite the case here, but it's pretty darn close.
Knowing that there were already viral samples at the market and knowing that raccoon dogs can catch and pass on this virus, this sort of helps bring that story together.
Now we know the virus and the raccoon dog were in so close proximity that we could get these swabs with genetic material from both.
That's pretty much like finding the fingerprints of a crime suspect at the scene of the crime.
JOHN YANG: Why is this coming out now.
The virus -- this is three years after the pandemic started.
KATHERINE WU: It's an incredibly important question, and I do not have a perfect answer for you.
The reason that we are getting this analysis now is that the researchers who did the new analysis were sort of piggybacking off of samples that were collected by Chinese researchers very early on in the pandemic, in January and maybe a little bit later of 2020.
Those researchers did originally analyze those samples, and they posted a preprint, a version of a study that hadn't yet been published with peer review in a scientific journal, in February of last year.
But that analysis didn't actually point to wild animals as a possible host for the virus.
And the raw data for that analysis wasn't made available at the time.
Now, more than a year later, researchers have been able to get their hands on that raw data, which seems to have been uploaded to a server quite recently, and reanalyzed it and been able to take animal -- been able to extract genetic sequences that point to the presence of a wild animal in those same samples.
So this is old sampling, but a new interpretation, a new analysis that is providing us with brand-new clues.
JOHN YANG: In recent weeks, we have had the U.S. intelligence community, the Energy Department come out and say that they thought it was coming from a lab, even though they -- we don't know how they reached that conclusion.
And they acknowledge that it was with a low degree of certainty.
Is this evidence going to be enough to convince the people who think it came from a lab, do you think?
KATHERINE WU: I honestly suspect probably not.
I hope that some people will be swayed.
But I think we do have to strike the balance here.
This is great evidence.
This is a new clue bolstering the natural origin hypothesis.
But, again, it's not the slam-dunk evidence that I suspect a lot of people have been looking for to really push them in one direction or the other.
Already, there's a reaction, especially online on social media from people who are more in favor of the lab leak idea, saying that this is not the end of the story.
The researchers also have yet to publish a full analysis and release the data.
And I think a lot of people in the research community are going to want to get their hands on that raw data.
There's a big question about why it took so long for that raw data to be uploaded.
And, also, now it has subsequently been removed from that same server, and it's not yet clear when it's going to reappear.
The World Health Organization has called for all data of this nature to be made available.
But it's a little bit unclear if there's going to be more of a trickle like this that could really clinch the case or not.
JOHN YANG: Why is it so important that we figure out where this virus came from?
KATHERINE WU: It's a great question.
And I think there's multiple reasons.
For one, it would really, really help us better understand the nature of the virus that we are still grappling with, that is still causing immense suffering around the world.
It would also ideally help us prevent future outbreaks that are this devastating.
We know that most outbreaks of infectious disease in our recent and very far past have been caused by wild animals passing the virus to us.
And that is not the fault of wild animals, necessarily.
We are constantly encroaching on their spaces.
We are eating them, trading them, breeding them, selling them, using their fur, using other materials from them.
And those relationships aren't always managed well.
And if it does turn out to be not a natural origin, and it does turn out to be somewhat related to a lab, that warrants action too.
Basically, this is a call upon us to change our practices to make sure that outbreaks of this nature don't happen in the future.
How are we going to stop that if we don't know exactly how the worst one started?
JOHN YANG: Katherine Wu of "The Atlantic," thank you very much.
KATHERINE WU: Thank you so much for having me.
AMNA NAWAZ: Last August, conservative activist Leonard Leo received the largest political donation of all time, $1.6 billion.
Before that, Leo was known for his role in reshaping the Supreme Court.
Now we're learning more about how he's using this massive pot of cash.
Our Lisa Desjardins has more.
LISA DESJARDINS: This is an example of so-called dark money, which isn't new, but has not been seen on this scale.
Here's how that worked.
First, a tycoon gave the $1.6 billion to a trust, Marble Freedom Trust, run by Leonard Leo.
The trust sends money to another fund with charitable 501(c)(3) status.
That, in turn, passes millions on to political and cultural groups.
None of that was public until it was reported by ProPublica and others last year.
ProPublica's latest story lays out how this cash is building a new kind of conservative universe.
Andrea Bernstein is one of the authors and joins me now.
Andrea, your team found some of the promotional videos that Leo is using, including this explaining his approach.
LEONARD LEO, Chairman, Teneo Network: I spent close to 30 years, if not more, helping to build the conservative legal movement.
And, at some point or another, I just said to myself, well, if this could work for law, why can't it work for lots of other areas of American culture and American life where things are really messed up right now?
LISA DESJARDINS: American culture, American life.
What's your reporting say he means right there?
ANDREA BERNSTEIN, ProPublica: So, what is so fascinating about Leonard Leo is, he's someone who sort of works behind the scenes, but was very much responsible, played a pivotal role in installing the 6-3 supermajority in the U.S. Supreme Court, the court that, of course, recently overturned Roe v. Wade, and made many other consequential decisions.
And Leonard Leo was critical in creating the network that enabled that to happen.
Now what he is looking to do is expand that outward, so it's not just talking about law, but talking about law and politics and culture and media and bringing conservative values to all of those areas, and creating a pipeline of individuals who can go and work in organizations, in government advancing conservative causes.
LISA DESJARDINS: What is your understanding of what his beliefs are?
What is his agenda or his hopes?
And is he affecting the overall conservative agenda?
ANDREA BERNSTEIN: Oh, absolutely.
I mean, almost everybody that I speak with, both people that oppose his views and those who support him, feel that he has been pivotal and key in creating a culture, for example, where it is much, much harder to obtain an abortion, where, in some states, it can be more difficult to vote, where he has promulgated ideas that pull back on federal regulation.
These are all causes that he supports, and many people do.
But he's been someone who has created a pipeline in the legal world of judges and lawyers that have pushed these ideas.
And now, as we reported and we found out, he has worked on this group called the Teneo Network, which is elevating people all across society to work for conservative ideas.
And given the influence he had in the legal world, and the fact that he has, now controls $1.6 billion, at least, in dark money, which was the largest political donation in U.S. history, this is someone to be taken seriously as someone who can really effect change in these areas.
LISA DESJARDINS: Leo's group did not want to comment for this story when we reached it today.
But speaking to other conservatives about this, they told me this is something that the left has been doing for a long time.
Is this new or different?
ANDREA BERNSTEIN: Well, one of the things that Leonard Leo has said is that he's doing this because he feels that the left is outrunning him.
But when we spoke to left-leaning groups, they admired the sort of holistic approach, that this was somebody who was really thinking and seeing soup to nuts about how to create a long-range agenda for conservative change.
And given the change that he's already made and been responsible for, we thought this was something that was very much worth taking seriously and watching as they move forward.
LISA DESJARDINS: What do you think all of this says about the future of dark money and politics in general?
ANDREA BERNSTEIN: Yes, everybody we spoke with for the story was sort of lamenting the way that systems have become broken, the way partisanship and just sort of division has seeped into the political system, and how difficult it is to combat that, because the sources of money are now so far removed from the people on the causes that they support.
And, of course, that's on both sides.
But one of the things that we know is that now here is Leonard Leo with this enormous political contribution and poised to continue his push to make big changes in American life.
LISA DESJARDINS: Someone to be taken seriously and an important topic that we all take seriously as well.
Andrea Bernstein, thank you so much for your time.
ANDREA BERNSTEIN: Thank you so much.
Always great to be with you.
AMNA NAWAZ: This week, government leaders work to safeguard the U.S. banking industry.
U.S.-Russia tensions heat up, and three years after the COVID lockdowns, many Americans are asking, are we better prepared for the next viral threat?
For analysis, we have Brooks and Capehart.
That is New York Times columnist David Brooks, and Jonathan Capehart, associate editor for The Washington Post.
Welcome to you both.
Good to see you.
DAVID BROOKS: Amna, good to be here.
AMNA NAWAZ: Let's start with the banking industry, David, because after the failure of two U.S. banks, we saw the administration step in very quickly, right, assure depositors they would be made whole.
We just saw 11 banks now step in with a $30 billion rescue plan to shore up another bank out in San Francisco.
But, clearly, the anxiety around all of this isn't gone, though, yet.
DAVID BROOKS: Yes.
If you look at the -- Mr. Dow Jones is very unhappy.
(LAUGHTER) DAVID BROOKS: The markets are volatile.
It seems to be there are immediate political things that are germane to politics and our wider national life.
The first is, these -- this bank informed its investment strategy in a low interest rate environment, which is what we have had for 40 years, and which we no longer have.
And so a bank that invests a disproportion amount of money in Treasuries is suddenly going to suffer, because they're not going to keep up with inflation.
And when you get from low interest mentality to a high interest mentality, things begin to break.
And the financial system is breaking.
But the other thing that could break is the budget, that we have borrowed and borrowed, borrowed, assumed interest rates were low.
They're no longer going to be low.
And inflation is here, at least for a good chunk of while, it seems.
And so, suddenly, your payments on the debt become massive on the federal level.
And that crowds out spending on all other things.
The second thing is, would we have been so quick to act if this were called Managua Hilla (ph) Valley Bank, and not Silicon Valley Bank?
And my answer would be no, that the venture capitalists who invested in this bank and whose people who they invested in put money in this bank, they created a narrative that this medium-sized bank, if it went under, the whole economy would go under.
And once they created that narrative, which I think may not have been true, then, more or less, the feds had to act.
And so, if I were a populist, I'd be jumping all over this thing, because Silicon Valley Bank gets bailed out?
It seems to be tailor-made for our friend Donald Trump.
AMNA NAWAZ: Well, Jonathan, to that point, I mean, the biggest criticism the administration has faced is, would you do this for every other bank?
Would this have happened other places?
Did they set a bad precedent here?
JONATHAN CAPEHART: We will find out.
I mean, I think David raises a good point.
If it were named any other bank, would the government have jumped in?
The other problem with Silicon Valley Bank is that it was basically only a tech center bank.
Its holdings were not diversified.
So you can -- you could blame them for not being prepared for what came.
But it does raise the question of whether the administration will be forced to do it again.
And that's something we don't quite know yet.
I think we will get a better idea when the Fed meets.
There's a story that came out just before we came on, on CNBC about the Fed chairman could possibly raise rates a quarter-of-a-percentage point.
There are other experts out there who are saying, but, if you do that, you are -- you're going to bring about a recession.
So, the one thing -- one thing I take away from what happened with -- what's happening with these banks is, these are not isolated incidents.
AMNA NAWAZ: Yes.
JONATHAN CAPEHART: As David pointed out, one thing impacts another.
And so we don't know what's going to happen, really.
AMNA NAWAZ: Yes.
And we will have to keep following it.
Thank you for your insights on both that, though.
I do want to ask about overseas as well, because it was a big week when it comes to Russia's war in Ukraine, a lot happening.
No signs that the war is slowing, David.
In fact, there's questions over possible escalation here, right?
We saw that video with the Russian jets that forced down a U.S. surveillance drone.
Now we have Poland and Slovakia is stepping in to provide fighter jets to Ukraine.
And, amidst all of this, you have GOP candidates and other Republicans openly saying: This is not our fight.
We should not be involved here.
Ron DeSantis just this week, Florida governor, had this to say.
He said: "While the U.S. has many vital national interests, becoming further entangled in a territorial dispute between Ukraine and Russia is not one of them."
David, as you know, that's one of the leading candidates for the Republican nomination for president.
Is that where Republican foreign policy is headed?
DAVID BROOKS: Half of it.
(LAUGHTER) DAVID BROOKS: And so it's become a marker of, are you populist Trumpy, or are used conservative, Reaganite conservative?
And it's become a very sharp divide.
And I'd say to Ron DeSantis, we're spending a few tens of billion dollars.
We have already destroyed half the Russian military.
Like, what could be a better investment than that?
And so, to me, even on hardheaded grounds, let alone on moral grounds, it seems to me a crazy policy.
But while Donald Trump and Ron DeSantis and some of the populists at places like the Claremont Institute, which is a more Trumpy think tank, they're on that side.
They don't have much power.
If you look at the Republicans who have power, in the minority leader's office in the U.S. Senate, on the Foreign Relations Committee, on the Intelligence Committee, those Republicans, if anything, they're saying Biden isn't acting fast enough and hard enough.
And so I have been talking to a lot of conservatives in Congress.
And, by and large, those people who really run the foreign policy world, the Republican Party, they're quite aggressive: We need to stick up for Zelenskyy.
Ukraine needs to win this war.
Their resolve, if anything, is increasing.
So it's just a divide within the party.
AMNA NAWAZ: How do you see it?
JONATHAN CAPEHART: And that is great news to hear, because their -- this ratcheting of the rhetoric among Republicans, particularly Governor DeSantis, is very concerning, because there cannot be any daylight between America's resolve and America's commitment to Ukraine and defending Ukraine.
I have said it at this table many times.
The president says it all the time.
This is a battle between democracy and autocracy.
Democracy must win.
And so the fact that the more traditional conservatives are in -- full-bore behind Ukraine in Congress is the best news I have heard.
AMNA NAWAZ: I mean, is that true also in the House?
You do see some of the deals that Kevin McCarthy has to cut.
(CROSSTALK) DAVID BROOKS: Again, it's a split, but it - - yes, I'm sorry to interrupt your question.
AMNA NAWAZ: Go ahead.
You know where I'm going with it.
(LAUGHTER) DAVID BROOKS: Yes, I mean, it's the same deal.
You have got the people who are really involved in foreign policy, by and large, saying, yes, we need to do more.
And you look at the presidential campaign... AMNA NAWAZ: Yes.
DAVID BROOKS: ... Mike Pence, we need to be more aggressive, Nikki Haley, we need to be more aggressive.
And so that wing is out there.
But there a lot of people who just were uninfluenced by the Reagan era.
They were too young or whatever.
And then the second thing that's happening here -- and this is across the party -- but the populists are saying, we can't worry about Russia.
We have to worry about China.
And I think the Republican Party as a whole has leapt into a Chinese cold war, we're in a cold war with China, maybe too fast.
And so you could say we were a little too innocent about where China was headed 10 years ago.
We may be a little too warrior-like now in dealing with China now.
Our relationship with China is so complicated.
It seems to be the ultra cold war posture that we're dealing with, with China may be a little too simplistic.
AMNA NAWAZ: I also want to note, this week, three years ago was when the COVID lockdowns began.
That's the appropriate sigh and eye roll for this moment.
It's hard to believe.
That was when all the hand-sanitizing and Clorox-wiping everything down.
We thought we might be home a few weeks, right, at that time.
Just crazy to think back.
But, Jonathan, we are -- we're a different country today than we were three years ago.
How have we changed?
JONATHAN CAPEHART: Oh, I think we have changed a lot.
I mean, the one thing about isolation, when we all had to not just wipe down everything, but stay home and stay away from our loved ones, was that it was a moment of self-reflection.
And I think a lot of people decided or have decided there were things about the before times that they didn't like, the things about their jobs they didn't like, things about their lives they didn't like, and that they wanted to change, that, if we got out of this, if we got back to normal, that we would change.
And just look at where we are.
Folks are talking -- folks are talking about four-day workweeks, three-day workweeks.
People are leaving professions that they were in because they realized: I didn't like the way I was treated or how hard I had to work just to get by.
I'm going to go someplace else where I'm treated well, I'm respected, my wages are higher, and I get to spend time with my family or with my loved ones.
And I think that's a healthy -- a healthy place for us to be.
And I think we're just at the beginning of the conversation, because I think, in terms of work life and professions, we're all still trying to figure out how does this new normal work?
AMNA NAWAZ: What do you think, David?
DAVID BROOKS: Yes, well, personally, I made those resolutions to not go back to my before life, and now I have gone back completely to my before life.
(LAUGHTER) DAVID BROOKS: So, overscheduling.
(LAUGHTER) DAVID BROOKS: It's like... (CROSSTALK) DAVID BROOKS: So, I'm guilty.
I'm -- I think things have changed.
I mean, the -- I can walk our viewers down through downtown D.C.
It does not look the same as it did.
It has not recovered.
And downtown New York, a lot of the downtowns have just not recovered.
So, people really have moved.
I think the mental health effects on young people, in particular, are longstanding.
And that's reflected when you talk to teachers, that the ability to concentrate, the ability to behave.
And then the final thing I'd say is, I don't think we have memorialized the million Americans who died enough, that President Biden, the day before inauguration, remember, he had that ceremony?
AMNA NAWAZ: Yes.
DAVID BROOKS: And it seemed like we should do that.
We need -- still need to do that more.
And so there are a million households who have lost somebody.
And I think we still haven't quite faced the emotional leftovers of that.
AMNA NAWAZ: Three years later, and we're dealing with it still.
We have got about a minute or so left.
And we have arrived at my most favorite time of the year, which is March Madness, the NCAA basketball tournaments.
I just have to ask both of you, are you -- are you cheering for anyone?
Do you have a team?
Do you have a Cinderella team you're rooting for?
DAVID BROOKS: Yes, I cheer.
On the men's side, I'm cheering for Indiana and Marquette.
Indiana's my favorite team.
So I have always cheered for them.
And they gave me an honorary degree, so... (CROSSTALK) (LAUGHTER) DAVID BROOKS: And then the Cinderellas like Duke.
Those people suffer.
AMNA NAWAZ: Oh.
DAVID BROOKS: They never win anything.
AMNA NAWAZ: Who speaks for Duke, right?
DAVID BROOKS: Yes, I know.
(LAUGHTER) DAVID BROOKS: On the women's side, I'm going for Villanova, which is another school I have... AMNA NAWAZ: Excellent.
JONATHAN CAPEHART: Not UConn?
AMNA NAWAZ: OK. DAVID BROOKS: I hate UConn.
AMNA NAWAZ: Wow.
There will be mail.
DAVID BROOKS: They win too much.
(LAUGHTER) AMNA NAWAZ: Jonathan, what about you?
Do you have a Cinderella story?
JONATHAN CAPEHART: Oh, please.
The only Cinderella I'm rooting for is the one in the ruby slippers.
(LAUGHTER) AMNA NAWAZ: On that note, we will be following all those teams.
Jonathan Capehart, David Brooks, always good to see.
JONATHAN CAPEHART: Thanks, Amna.
GEOFF BENNETT: "A Doll's House," the classic 19th century play by Henrik Ibsen, features one of the most iconic characters in theater history, Nora Helmer, a young wife and mother who is forced to question everything in her highly structured life.
It's now getting a new Broadway adaptation starring one of today's biggest stars, Jessica Chastain.
Jeffrey Brown has the story for our arts and culture series, Canvas.
JESSICA CHASTAIN, Actress: It feels like you're incredibly exposed as an actor, because you're not given -- you're not able to hide behind anything.
JEFFREY BROWN: In "A Doll's House," Jessica Chastain takes on a famous character in a new way, in a stripped-down, no props or period costumes production, envisioned by director Jamie Lloyd.
Chastain recalls an early meeting to talk about his approach.
JESSICA CHASTAIN: He mentioned something about no props.
I was like, what do you mean?
And it was very difficult for me to even imagine.
The play, as written, begins with her eating cookies, right?
JEFFREY BROWN: Right.
JESSICA CHASTAIN: And then, in the very first scene, her husband, Torvald, asks her: "You look guilty.
Have you been eating cookies?"
And she says: "No, no, I would never do that to you."
JEFFREY BROWN: Yes.
You have no cookies.
JESSICA CHASTAIN: There's no cookies.
I'm not miming eating cookies.
There's just no cookies.
I said to Jamie: "How -- I don't understand how to do this."
Like, we say in the very first scene that I'm not honest, I swear that I would never do that to my husband.
And the audience has just seen that I have.
So, we're not given that opportunity to do that now.
And he goes: "You will do it in the acting."
I'm like: "Oh, my God."
When I saw that clipping with my face on it, I thought for a second you were proud of me.
JEFFREY BROWN: For Chastain, it's just the latest in a string of high-wire, attention-getting, often award-winning roles, including an Oscar for best actress last year in "The Eyes of Tammy Faye," and a recent Screen Actors Guild award for the series "George & Tammy."
JESSICA CHASTAIN: I know certainty freaks you guys out, but it's 100.
JEFFREY BROWN: She's been a top Hollywood star at least since 2012's "Zero Dark Thirty," but her love of acting began on stage growing up in Northern California.
In rehearsal here, she began to find her Nora, a young wife and mother kept in place by society's strict rules of behavior, who suddenly faces a crisis that forces her to see the world anew, and make decisions that will change her and others forever.
It's an old story, but, says Chastain, still plenty relevant.
JESSICA CHASTAIN: She is playing within the system to try to get what she needs.
And that's Ibsen.
I mean, that's 1879.
He was incredible what he wrote back then.
I think it's just, on the paper, the obvious version is this poor woman who's been victimized.
But, also, I wanted to say, how is she participating in it, and how scary it is, because we all participate.
It's not even necessarily associated to one gender.
JEFFREY BROWN: The original play has been adapted by playwright Amy Herzog, a co-writer on the recent TV series "Scenes From a Marriage"... JESSICA CHASTAIN: If I don't leave right now, I know I'm never going to.
JEFFREY BROWN: ... in which Chastain also starred, alongside Oscar Isaac, in a story of another troubled marriage.
Herzog credits Ibsen as a major influence on her own writing.
Here, she says she sought only to pare down language and scenes, matching the pared-down style of the production, to bare the essential quality of the characters.
ACTOR: What is going on?
JESSICA CHASTAIN: Sit down.
This could take a while.
I tried to dial up the ways Nora was in control of the situation.
So even if she's playing innocent or playing a victim or playing helpless, it is still a choice she's making.
And she is still sort of in significant ways the director and stage manager of the proceedings, even if she gets what she wants by playing a sort of traditional woman.
JEFFREY BROWN: You saw that in the original?
JESSICA CHASTAIN: Absolutely.
JEFFREY BROWN: Because I'm not sure that's the way everybody reads it or has seen it in the past.
JESSICA CHASTAIN: I think that's -- I think you're right.
But I don't think that's because it's not there.
I think it's just the way the play has been received as this kind of feminist polemic has flattened some of the subtleties of the original.
JEFFREY BROWN: Chastain says she wanted to avoid presenting a polemic or TED Talk argument.
The unusual staging helped.
Even before the play starts, she sits alone on stage looking at us.
You don't have the props.
You're often sitting in a chair.
Where does the energy come from?
JESSICA CHASTAIN: It comes from the audience.
This is a whole different way of working for me, because, in the theater, you create, like, the fourth wall, right?
And, in some sense, I had fear of the audience.
I was nervous.
I felt like they were an obstacle to what I needed to do.
JEFFREY BROWN: You mean this is you in the past in the theater?
JESSICA CHASTAIN: In the past, the past.
JEFFREY BROWN: Yes.
JESSICA CHASTAIN: Even though I had started in the theater and I'd done a lot of it, I was aware of every cough.
I was aware of every single person who opened up their food and started eating, or their phones were going off.
And I felt it all like -- almost like an assault.
And, in this production, it's been fascinating because I feel the exact opposite.
JEFFREY BROWN: What is it that you get from acting?
JESSICA CHASTAIN: There's an immediate intimacy with acting.
I find that, in many cases, even if we pretend we're not, we're all sensitive beings that are very tender and have a lot of emotions.
And some people work very hard to protect themselves and put up this wall, right?
And we see that on the subway.
We see it talking to people sometimes at a coffee shop.
How are you doing today?
How are you?
But we're never really connecting on an intimate level with strangers.
And acting really changes that for me.
I mean, I show up on a set.
It could be someone I have never met before, and there's an immediate connection and an openness, and we're not allowed to be guarded around each other.
JEFFREY BROWN: In addition to her acting, Chastain is known for her activism on behalf of women, in Hollywood, on issues such as pay equity and beyond.
When we met, her mind was very much on the ongoing women-led protests in Iran.
When you think about having all this choice now about what you do, what's important to you?
JESSICA CHASTAIN: I'm drawn to characters that see women as three-dimensional human beings.
So, that could mean that they do complicated things.
They can subvert the stereotypical gender roles, which is very interesting to me, because I find anything that pushes the status quo of what a woman is supposed to be or supposed to do, that, I think, is a step forward, because we have always accepted men as being able to do multiple things.
And I think we need to see women also as human beings.
So that's what I'm drawn to, characters that treat women as human beings.
JEFFREY BROWN: Simple as that.
JESSICA CHASTAIN: Simple as that.
JEFFREY BROWN: But not so simple.
JESSICA CHASTAIN: It's actually -- it sounds so easy, doesn't it?
But I think, with some people, it's still not super easy.
JEFFREY BROWN: Jessica Chastain inhabits "A Doll's House" through June 10.
For the "PBS NewsHour," I'm Jeffrey Brown on Broadway.
AMNA NAWAZ: And, remember, there is much more online, including a list of four things you should know about the EPA's proposal to limit so-called forever chemicals in drinking water.
And be sure to join our own William Brangham, who is filling in on "Washington Week" tonight.
He and a panel of journalists will discuss the ripple effects of recent bank failures and the growing political divide over support for Ukraine.
That's tonight at 8:00 p.m. Eastern on PBS.
And check your local listings.
GEOFF BENNETT: And watch "PBS News Weekend" tomorrow for a look at how the rising cost of veterinary care is creating hardships for pet owners.
WOMAN: So, this is Dobby.
Dobby was -- came in injured.
She's had to have her hips replaced.
WOMAN: Hi, Dobby.
NARRATOR: An injured dog arrived in an animal control truck.
The owner suspected it was hit by a car when they were out of town.
WOMAN: Apparently, he, like, broke the chain and was wandering around.
WOMAN: Come here, baby.
WOMAN: The owner surrendered because he couldn't afford vet care.
WOMAN: It does happen often.
It seems like the only option.
I know I don't have the money.
I need to go take my pet to the vet.
There's one option left.
And that is the local shelter.
GEOFF BENNETT: That's tomorrow on "PBS News Weekend."
And that is the "NewsHour" for tonight.
I'm Geoff Bennett.
AMNA NAWAZ: And I'm Amna Nawaz.
On behalf of the entire "NewsHour" team, thank you for joining us.