Skip to main content

tv   PBS News Hour  PBS  May 4, 2010 7:00pm-8:00pm EDT

7:00 pm
captioning sponsored by macneil/lehrer productions >> brown: good evening. i'm jeffrey brown. a pakistani-american man has been charged with acts of terrorism in the failed bomb plot in new york city. >> woodruff: and i'm judy woodruff. on the newshour tonight, attorney general eric holder said the suspect admitted being involved, and had provided useful information to authorities. we get the latest from mark hosenball of "newsweek," and assess the possible ties to terrorism abroad. >> brown: then tom bearden updates the still-gushing oil well in the gulf of mexico, and we examine why the spill is so
7:01 pm
hard to contain and clean up. >> there is nothing else we can do besides what we're doing. we can't capture it, we have to wait for it to attack us. >> woodruff: ray suarez has part two of his reports on the politics of new media. tonight, republicans blogging, tweeting, and friending in advance of this year's elections. >> we advise every candidate to have as big a budget for new media as radio and television. >> brown: and margaret warner looks at what the greek debt crisis means for global markets and the u.s. economy. >> brown: that's all ahead on tonight's newshour. major funding for the pbs newshour is provided by:
7:02 pm
7:03 pm
>> and by the bill and melinda gates foundation. dedicated to the idea that all people deserve the chance to live a healthy, productive life. and with the ongoing support of these institutions and foundations. and... this program was made possible by the corporation for public broadcasting. and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. >> brown: a flurry of action brought the times square bombing investigation to a head today. the prime suspect appeared in federal court in new york city, just hours after being arrested. newshour correspondent kwame holman begins our coverage. >> reporter: this is the man
7:04 pm
captured at new york's kennedy airport, last night, faisal shahzad, a 30-year-old american citizen born in pakistan. in washington, today, attorney general eric holder said the suspect has admitted his role in last saturday's failed car bombing in times square. >> he has been, and continues to be, questioned by federal agents. as a result of those communications, shahzad has provided useful information to authorities. based on what we know so far, it is clear that this was a terrorist plot aimed at murdering americans in one of the busiest places in our country. >> reporter: shahzad was arrested on board this airliner before it was to take off for dubai. moments before the jet was to pull from the gate, federal agents recalled it and took shahzad into custody. he had been placed on a no-fly list hours earlier but today
7:05 pm
holder dismissed allegations that he almost got away. >> i was here through much of yesterday and last night and was aware of the tracking that was going on and i was never in any fear that we were in danger of losing him. >> reporter: in manhattan this afternoon shahzad was charged with weapon and weapons of mass destruction. it's charged he drove this sport utility vehicle armed with explosives into times square. a street vendor alerted police. police defuszed the device. officials in washington said it was the s.u.v. that provided a critical clue. they tracked the vehicle to its registered owner who put the truck up for sale on the internet and allegedly sold it to shahzad for $1,300 in cash. >> that scares me how he lives so close.
7:06 pm
>> reporter: he had recently returned to bridgeport, connecticut after a stay visiting his wife. president obama said clues could provide insight into any ties to militant organizations. >> the american people can be assured that the f.b.i. and their partners in this process have all the tools and experience they need to learn everything we can, and that includes what, if any, connection this individual has to terrorist groups. >> reporter: the pakistani taliban has claimed responsibility for the plot but u.s. officials were skeptical. investigators say the accused bomber told them he trained at a terrorist camp in pakistan and acted alone, and the pakistani embassy in washington said he was a disturbed individual. but intelligence officials in pakistan said today they have detained several other people in connection with the case. and back in new york city, mayor michael bloomberg cautioned against using the incident as an excuse. >> i want to make clear that we
7:07 pm
will not tolerate any bias or backlash against pakistani or muslim new yorkers. all of us live in this city, and among any group there is always a few bad apples. >> reporter: new york city police said this was the 11th time that a plot to attack the city has been disrupted since 9/11. >> brown: for more we turn first to mark hosenball, investigative correspondent for "newsweek" magazine. he joins us from new york. >> brown: you just came out of the courtroom where charges against shahzad were made. >> he's not going to appear today, i have had that confirmed by officials, there were 20 reporters and we sat for three hours while other cases were called, and then nobody told us anything. nobody said he's going to be on. nobody said he wasn't going to be on. about 5:00, basically, everybody left having concluded it wasn't going to happen today. i'm told it may not even happen tomorrow.
7:08 pm
it does appear one of the reasons, at least, is that he's still talking to investigators, or vice versa. >> brown: you did learn, i guess, more today about how the government tracked him down. tell us what you have learned. >> reporter: the government found -- somebody tried -- >> somebody tried to delete or obliterate the vehicle identification number on the s.u.v. that he rigged up with the bomb, but the government examined all the parts of the s.u.v. and they found the v.i.n. -- unique identifier for the vehicle on the engine block. through that they traced the last witnesses of the vehicle through the registered owner of the vehicle, they managed to identify shahzad as a potential suspect. they ran him down, they did some searches, they found that he had -- actually taken some precautions to hide his tracks. he paid for the vehicle in cash.
7:09 pm
he used, to call pakistan, a throw-away cell phone that he apparently bought and also to bring the fireworks store in pennsylvania where he bought some of the detonating materials for the bomb -- when he bought the vehicle, he had apparently didn't have blacked-out windows, but by the time it was planted in times square it did have blacked-out windows, so he took precautions to cover his tracks and conceal the bomb but the bomb was made ridiculously incompetently. it's unclear to me to what extent they were tracking him. as i understand it, he was placed on a no-fly list and then when he arrived at the airport, they noticed his name on a passenger list for this plane and they actually grabbed him before he got on the plane, not afterwards, and the reason why they pulled the plane back to the gate after it taxied away was they wanted the f.b.i. to interview two other people on the plane -- shahzad was already in custody according to the latest accounts i have heard. not all that makes complete sense to me, but it's still interesting. >> brown: while a lot of things
7:10 pm
still need to be worked out here, what do we know from the complaint that was put out in court and from the reporting today, what more do we know about him and his ties to pakistan? >> what we know is that, as your reporter said he's a pakistani-born person, apparently came to the united states, naturalized about a year ago, spent the last five months roughly in pakistan -- no, spent the last five months, late last year in pakistan, arrived back in the united states with a one-way ticket in february of this year, apparently embarked on this plot. it says in the federal complaint that he told investigators when he was picked up at the airport that he was trained in bomb making in waziristan. it doesn't say by whom. as you reported the pakistani taliban claimed credit for this attack, and while indeed, the united states government and various agencies rejected those claims as almost laughable two or three days ago, they now think they're plausible because
7:11 pm
they're saying the guy was in waziristan. and certainly the pakistani taliban is active in waziristan. it seems the picture is building of at least somebody who had contact with a genuine terrorist group abroad and was trained by them and had some sympathy for them but maybe not trained so good and maybe not very competent himself -- maybe this shows something about -- you know, when these groups which have a history of operating locally try to reach out beyond their local areas of operation, they're not so good at carrying it out. but of course, they can get better. >> brown: one last piece of the puzzle i want to ask you about is in bridgeport, the investigation continues into his activities there. what more can you tell us? >> i don't know about that. i haven't been up there yet. >> brown: ok, then i'll let you go, then. thanks for joining us. >> thank you. >> brown: all right. and now we broaden this out a bit with brian fishman, counter
7:12 pm
terrorism research fellow at the new america foundation and former director of research at the combating terrorism center at west point. welcome to you. >> thank you. >> brown: so we are -- we're learning more about the man today, and we just heard some more about his ties to pakistan. what jumps out at you? >> i think what jumps out at me are these claims of responsibility that we've heard from the tariqi taliban in pakistan, an umbrella group for groups that in the past have prioritized their actions against the pakistani state. the group, the t.t.p. was founded in 2007 with the explicit focus of attacking pakistan, and now what we've seen is not only a claim of responsibility for an attack on the united states but also a statement by hakamola massoud who was believed to have been killed in january of 2010 by a drone -- >> brown: explain who he was.
7:13 pm
>> the emir of the pakistani taliban believed to have been killed in january of this year but has now appeared in a video released online and claims that his focus now is no longer attacking the pakistani state but is to organize and implement attacks in the united states. >> brown: just to be clear, this is the group that claimed responsibility early on and was largely brushed aside rather quickly. >> that's right, and i think there still is some question about whether or not they actually were involved here. certainly the fact that faisal shahzad seemed so poorly trained suggests that he didn't get a lot of in-depth training when he was in waziristan but it may be that he's just incompetent, and that's part of this too. it's hard to put those pieces together. >> brown: explain a little bit more about waziristan and what kind of training goes on. is that one group? are there many groups there? who might he be working with or even talking to?
7:14 pm
we don't know at this point. >> waziristan refers to south and north -- these are agencies in pakistan's federally administered tribal areas which is sort of the wild west in a lot of ways. it's very mountainous. not -- poorly governed, tribal, and what's happened there is that a variety of tribal militant groups have integrated themselves very so with al qaeda and the t.t.p., the tariqi taliban in pakistan have worked closely with al qaeda for years now but especially since 2007, and what we see is that since that time, the pakistani taliban and al qaeda have agreed on one thing -- one thing most importantly which is the need to attack pakistan and kill pakistanis, and now we see the possibility that they agree on something else, which is the need and the prioritization of attacking the west, and that's concerning. >> brown: it is still possible, though, that he is a kind of -- wald you call it, a want-to-be
7:15 pm
-- acting largely on his own, wanting to be connected or thought better of by some of these groups? >> absolutely. there are some things that are very suspicious about the pakistani-taliban claim of responsibility. for example, the original erdu audio of the statement doesn't mention times square specifically. it just mentions an attack in the u.s. it's sort of vague. it doesn't have an official logo, which these sorts of statements usually have. so there is reason to be suspicious of this claim of responsibility. not to mention the fact that shahzad did such a poor job actually implementing this attack. >> brown: that's what i was going to ask you. there is much talk about the crudeness of the bomb and the unsophisticated nature of the operation. >> this shouldn't be surprising. attacks in the west by jihadis often fail because of technical mistakes. we saw this with the christmas day would-be bombing over detroit.
7:16 pm
we've seen that najibullah zazi who was planning an attack in new york city was having trouble cooking up explosives. the same thing has happened in the u.k. several times where these folks -- even those that have had training in pakistan by established, organized militant groups have trouble actually implementing that training and putting it all together. >> brown: when you look at -- you just cited a few other examples. when you look at that, what does that tell us about our ability to prevent things like this? there has been a lot of conjecture for a long time about car bombs. they're used around the world. why not more here? >> there is a limit to what we can do. we should look at what nypd and the f.b.i. have done from an investigation standpoint -- i think they've done a great job, they arrested this guy 48 hours after the attack took place. it's very difficult to monitor everyone and what i think is valuable and a lesson for us is that citizens have to be vigilant and be aware of what's going on. it was the hotdog vendor that
7:17 pm
alerted the police when they saw this truck smoking. what we need to make sure is that people in communities around the country, when somebody is doing something untowards, they feel comfortable coming forward and speaking to the authorities and that's a difficult thing to do especially if communities feel like they are unduly pressured by law enforcement. and so law enforcement and sort of our national security apparatus have a very fine line that they have to walk. >> brown: last thing, back to pakistan. as the investigation moves over there. to what degree do -- the cooperation level of the pakistanis? how much is there coordination between the u.s. and pakistani intelligence with the military? >> i think it's very hard to know with any precision on this particular case but i imagine that the pakistanis are doing everything that they can after an attempted attack in a major u.s. city to show that they are good allies. if the tariqi pakistan taliban were involved in this attack, it's interesting, because this
7:18 pm
is the group that the pakistani government has targeted most aggressively in pakistan. there are a lot of militant groups operating there but this is one that they have actually been aggressive going after because of its history attacking the pakistani state. >> brown: brian fishman, thank you so much. >> thank you. >> woodruff: still to come >> woodruff: still to come on the newshour, the waiting game on the gulf coast; the republicans and new media; and the financial crisis in greece. but first, the other news of the day, here's hari sreenivasan in our newsroom. >> sreenivasan: the toll in death and damage grew today in nashville, tennessee, after record flooding. weekend storms that unleashed the floods were blamed for killing at least 29 people, ten of them in nashville. >> reporter: the swollen cumberland river began to recede today after swamping the music city. more bodies of people caught in the flash flooding were found. the extent of damage also came into focus at many of nashville's major attractions.
7:19 pm
water was nearly three feet deep in the grand ol opry house. parts of the sprawling gaylord opry land hotel were among 10 feet of water forcing guests to shelter at a nearby school. the country music hall of fame, seen here before the storms was badly damaged as well. elsewhere, the muddy torrent poured into major sports venues. water lapped at the first row of suites at l.p. field, home to the nfl's tennessee titans, after pumps lost power. and the outages hampered recovery efforts. 24 square blocks in the city's downtown along the river front lost power early today. they were expected to be in the dark for the rest of the week. overall, more than half of tennessee's 95 counties were declared disaster areas. damage was estimated in the 10's of millions of dollars. wall street had its worst day in three months as new fears about europe's debt crisis spooked investors. the dow jones industrial average lost 225 points to close at 10,926. the nasdaq fell 74 points to
7:20 pm
close at 2424. and the price of oil plunged 4% to drop back under $83 a barrel. air space over scotland and northern ireland will have to close again because of ash from that volcano in iceland. british officials announced today shifting winds have brought the problem back. the closures will begin tomorrow morning. they could spread south to england and wales later in the day. in thailand, protesters agreed in principle to a compromise that could end a long-running political crisis. at the same time, they refused to leave central bangkok, where they've been camped for eight weeks. first, they said, they want key details worked out. the government offered yesterday to hold new elections in november. in return, it wants the protesters to disband. nissan announced plans today to recall nearly 135,000 infiniti g-35's sold in the u.s. a wire harness could wear down and the front passenger air bag would fail to deploy in a crash. the recall affects g-35 sedans sold between 2005 and 2007 and coupes sold between 2005 and 2006.
7:21 pm
those are some of the day's main stories. i'll be back at the end of the program with a preview of what you'll find tonight on the newshour's website. but for now, back to judy. >> woodruff: weather in the gulf of mexico improved today, helping cleanup crews who were trying to cope with the effects of the oil spill. coast guard officials said that significant amounts of oil may not reach the shoreline for three more days. but communities were still bracing for the spill's impact. "newshour" correspondent tom bearden is in louisiana and has our report. >> reporter: the winds and seas died down today and workers resumed efforts to disperse crude oil. >> we thought where we were going to have impact, the winds, the current, shifted and next thing you know we have been given what i call the gift of time. >> reporter: wider efforts to contain the spill continue and b.p., the company responsible for the operation said until
7:22 pm
today the weather was a major problem. marty powers is a spokesperson for b.p. >> weather has not been our friend. we have had, the last few days, some really high winds, we have had swells close to shore nine feet, we had reports they were up to 17 feet, so it makes all of that challenging to predict. >> reporter: roughly 200,000 gallons a day have spewed from the well site off the louisiana coast since the deepwater horr otherwisizon rig exploded and sank two weeks ago. powers says theut company has begun giving direct aid to the states to help defray costs. >> b.p. was giving the states $25 million each that can be used in the respective parishes and counties. it is designated for those parishes and counties on the coastline. >> reporter: in addition, the company said the first of three containment domes to cover the
7:23 pm
leak and help siphon the oil to the surface will go operational next week. in venice, louisiana some of the victims were apparent today. an oil-slicked brown pelican was being washed by a bird rescue group. >> once the bird is 100% rinsed off it goes into a drying pen like this with a blow dryer. once he's perfectly dry, he gets to go swim. >> reporter: elsewhere across the gulf region, anxious residents did what they could to prepare for the slick's possible landing. the west on dauphin island, alabama trucks dumped trucks of sand in an effort to fortify the coast. the national guard was called out. >> there is nothing we can do to stop this enemy besides doing what we're doochlth we can't drop a bomb on it, we have to wait for it to attack us. >> reporter: the entire economy of the region depends on the sea, trade, tourism and fishing all impacted in the short term. how much impact the oil has on the entire coastline will have
7:24 pm
major repercussions for both the regional and the national economy. in washington today, the president focused on the potential economic fallout. >> i would like to see the people most affected by the disaster employed in helping in the cleanup, and we will continue to explore every possible option to create jobs and support local economies in the gulf while continuing to monitor any potential effects on the national economy. >> reporter: the effects on the local economies are already being felt. in alabama, sea food processors are at a near standstill, victims of a 10-day ban on fishing in federal waters offshore. at draw day crab processing, a kind of fatalism has set in. >> hello, we're-screwed seafood, can i help you? >> reporter: husband and wife owners say they processed one-10th of their normal 10,000-pound haul of crabs today. >> i'm trying to find resources like the east coast. their production is down this year. the west coast of louisiana, i'm trying to find stuff to do. some of the shops around here
7:25 pm
were smart enough to do crawfish. the crawfish industry hasn't been hurt by it so those guys are still working, got them doing something different -- all we know is crabs. >> reporter: no one can tell them how long this will last. that has them worried about business. >> this year, you don't know what you can do. right now, i have been on the phone for a solid week trying to find different avenues to for crabs -- for my workers to work. they need to work too, man. they're loyal. they work hard. they're good folks. they really work hard. >> reporter: up the road, mindy wright hill says her family oyster business is already functionally shut down. >> the toughest part, the part that hurts the most is the unknown. we don't know how long this will last. we don't know how long it's going to take -- i mean, we don't know how long our employees will be out of jobs. >> reporter: wright brand oysters is one of the largest
7:26 pm
processors in the area, but now their 40 workers are idle. the oyster beds are almost all closed, and the one that is open lies untouched. the oystermen are laying out containment booms. for now, they're waiting on the weather and on b.p.'s efforts to stem the geyser on the sea floor. >> woodruff: we get the views of two people who have been watching the latest developments closely. kenneth arnold is an offshore industry consultant and member of the national academy of engineering. he worked for shell for many years and now works with oil companies. but he has not been involved with this spill. and michael gravitz is the oceans advocate for environment america, an environmental advocacy group. >> woodruff: gentleman, thank you both for talking with us. michael gravitz, what is the latest information you have about oil coming ashore? we hear from the coast guard today that we have been given, she said, a gift in that the weather and the current has kept the oil offshore. >> that's true, although our
7:27 pm
understanding is that the oil has touched down on a couple of islands in the gulf of mexico. chandelier island, breton national wildlife refuge and -- oil is pushed around by winds and waves, and there is about three, four, 5,000 square miles of it out in the gulf of mexico, and we're just hoping that the winds keep it off the shorelines and off the beaches and the coast of the gulf states. >> woodruff: inevitably, you know it's coming in. >> that's true. usually at this time of year the winds are from the south pushing the oil north toward the coast, and while we apparently have a temporary reprieve because the winds are coming from the north now, keeping the oil off the coast, that's expected to change in the next few days and you know -- what's really so hard to believe here is that with all this technology, with all this money that's being spent, with all this -- you know, wonderful technology in boats and people and everything that people are trying to do, we're really just
7:28 pm
still at the mercy of the weather. and that's really a terrible place to be in. >> woodruff: kenneth arnold, how much is the industry and everyone trying to stop this at the mercy of the weather? >> i'll tell you, there isn't anybody who is crying harder than b.p. right now to try and handle this problem. it is a difficult problem. the best thing that we can do is keep oil out of the water and, of course, b.p. is trying its hardest to do that now by trying to activate those blowout preventers which for some reason have failed, and by trying to put these containment domes over the leaks to corral the oil before it gets into the water column. some of the latest stuff that they're doing to put disperseants into the oil column is also an attempt to help the natural weathering systems and the natural microorganisms that
7:29 pm
are in the ocean in the gulf of mexico feast on this oil, if you will. they eat the oil. they turn it into carbon dioxide and water. and anything we can do to speed that process up would keep the oil from coming ashore. unfortunately, it's just a fact that some of this oil has already come ashore. i understand some of it has come ashore on shand clear island, which i'm -- on chandelier island which i'm very familiar of it, some of it has come ashore in other places and unfortunately, more will eventually come ashore unless they can really stop the leak and corral the oil quickly. >> woodruff: kenneth arnold, let me stay with you on the point you were making about dispersants. tell me briefly how those are working, the chemical dispersants. >> to understand how dispersants work, you have to understand that in the gulf of mexico,
7:30 pm
there are natural oil seeps that have nothing to do with the offshore oil and gas development. these have been there for thousands and thousands of years. and but we don't notice them. i think the estimates have been somewhere between 2,000-5,000 barrels a day actually seep naturally into the gulf of mexico. we don't notice the oil, because the gulf of mexico has microorganisms in the water column which feed on the crude oil. so when we introduce a high concentration of oil in one location, which is what we're doing now -- >> woodruff: right. >> we're actually giving these microorganisms a feast of food. they will feed more rapidly. they will multiply more rapidly. they will try and degrade the oil. the problem we have is that it's a slower process than we would like it to be. >> woodruff: which is why -- just to -- excuse me -- just to
7:31 pm
move this along, so they're using chemical dispersants to speed this process along. >> yes, what the chemical -- what the chemical dispersants do is they make the oil have less surface tension so it forms very, very tiny oil droplets which have a large surface area for the mass, and therefore, there is more surface area for the microorganisms to work on and it speeds the degeneration of the oil. >> woodruff: michael gravitz, that's one of the things they are doing. all of this put together, how effective is it? >> well, the answer is, we're using a bunch of 1960's and 1970's technologies to try to clean up this oil spill and none of the techniques individually is effective. put them together, they're not terribly effective. the skimmers that everybody thinks will save the day typically collect between 15 and 20% of the oil. in a calm day, inside a harbor, the best circumstances. the dispersants, some of them
7:32 pm
are pretty toxic to marine organisms. they're actually spraying -- some of them are petroleum products that break up the oil, and it's not good for the life -- >> woodruff: you're saying it's adding another -- >> yeah, it's another pollutant in a lot of ways and it makes the problem look like it's going away and breaks the oil up into tiny little droplets that go under the surface so we can't see it -- we've just transferred the problem to another part of the ocean. the water typically sloshes over the booms that will protect these marshes, so taken together these are not particularly effective technologies, and i just think that what this spill really reminds us of is that this business, oil drilling is a dirty and dangerous proposition and we need to get off of oil -- we need to find alternatives for oil. >> woodruff: kenneth arnold, we just heard mr. gravitz say a lot of this technology dates back decades. is that the case? that there is not much new to deal with something like this?
7:33 pm
>> he's actually partially right and partially incorrect. when he's talking about dispersants, he's talking about the 1960's dispersants which used a hydrocarbon base to dispers the agents. we no longer do that. he's talking about technology that's 40-50 years old. these are not hydrocarbon solvents that are used in these dispersants. the e.p.a. did not allow us to use these dispersants back in the 1960's but they do allow us to use the specific dispersants that we have now within the conditions they are being used because they have been tested to be nontoxic. >> woodruff: you're saying they are not toxic and don't present additional pollution in the water. is that what you are saying? >> they can be marginally toxic in less than 10 meters of water, in certain locations. but even then, if they don't
7:34 pm
disperse the oil, if they're involved -- if they get mixed up in this chocolate mousse streaks that you see on tv of oil, they will have the effect of making it easier to clean the beach and clean whatever animals, fish, birds that get coated with oil because they are surface-active agents but they are not the toxic agents that michael is talking about. >> woodruff: let me ask you both as we just wrap up with less than a minute, michael gravitz, what are the prospects at this point for minimizing this oil that is continuing to spew out of these leaks at a massive rate every day? >> well, you know, we all hope in the environmental community and around the country that we can fix this problem as quickly as possible. the oil companies telling us if they have to drill a well, it will take 60-90 days and at that point the oil spill will equal two times the exxon valdez. stepping back from this just a little bit, the thing that we
7:35 pm
need to do is clean the spill up as fast as possible, remediate the damage, we need to stop this idea that we can drill safely everywhere that we want to go, so we shouldn't be drilling in new areas -- >> woodruff: but in this particular instance. >> and in this particular instance, the spill may go on for a while unless it gets stopped down at the bottom, and they're using some new technologies that have never been tried at this kind of depth before to try to collect the oil, and i wish them luck. >> woodruff: kenneth arnold, in just a few words, how do you see the prospects? >> well, i have to agree with michael, except it's been 41 years since the last major blowout in the united states where oil created a pollution problem on shore. that was 1969, in santa barbara. we've drilled 10's of thousands of wells since then offshore. we have a pretty good safety record. this is a disaster. it is terrible. i get in airplanes all the time.
7:36 pm
no one can convince me -- no one can assure me that the airplane will not crash, but the benefits of air travel far outweigh the small risk that every now and then an airplane will crash. we learn from airplane crashes. we learn from blowouts. we will learn from this blowout, and the industry will are safer as a result of it. >> woodruff: we're going to leave it there. kenneth arnold, michael grgrz, >> thank you very much. >> brown: now, waging political battles online. recently, ray suarez looked at how democrats are harnessing the power of new and social media. republicans are his focus in part two. >> republicans and their allies are stepping up efforts to use new and social media to enhance their chances of making a comeback in the
7:37 pm
election. >> reporter: you can find out all about it at online tax >> blog about it. >> reporter: to this end, each week bloggers pack a room at the conservative think tank the heritage foundation and stand up and share how they're pushing out their message, often bypassing the mainstream media. >> this is the standard, elite, inside-the-beltway -- >> reporter: on this day, former republican speaker of the house, newt gingrich, addressed the new media mavens trying to regain power now. newt gingrich says new media used to be a young person's business but not anymore. he himself has 1.3 million followers on twitter and garnered 2.3 million views on youtube for a speech. >> it allows a kind of conversation, a little bit strident, a little choppy but nonetheless a real conversation that's a lot more than a 20-second sound bite or a two-minute source. we advise every candidate to
7:38 pm
have as big a budget for new media as you have for radio and television. >> reporter: some bloggers tweeted out his message getting instant coverage in the blogosphere. >> i was watching somebody sitting on a beach in california paying attention to what's happening right here. >> reporter: tabitha hale is interactive media coordinator for freedom works which advocates lower taxes and less government. >> i think it's something that candidates will overlook at their own peril. i think the republicans got killed with it in 2008. i think that we got really behind the ball, and they're figuring it out now. they're learning. i think we've made great strides in the past year. >> reporter: in fact, two recent studies show on capitol hill, republicans have surpassed democrats in the use of social media. a congressional research service study out this winter showed that 60% of the capitol hill twitter-verse is composed of republican members. another recent study, the power of twitter in congress, shows
7:39 pm
house republicans sending close to five times as many tweets or micromessages than their democratic counterparts. in the senate, republican tweets outnumber democrats by a 35% margin. >> they knew they oversold the stimulus. >> reporter: according to youtube, 89% of congressional republicans have their own personal youtube channels where they post both serious and fun videos of their professional and personal lives for constituents to see. democrats have used this social-media vehicle less. 74% have designated channels. and eight of the top 10 most viewed and subscribed channels are from the g.o.p. "the washington post"'s dave weigel covers conservative groups and their use of new media. he says the party out of power has more to protest. >> it's a perfect storm. because just as the republican party is as -- the base is as angry as it's ever been, there is new technology that lets them
7:40 pm
blow past the media filters. the new technology that was not invented by conservatives like twitter and facebook and social networks, youtube where you can go to a rally and put it online as if it's on tv, it's video that is no longer controlled by the media that you didn't trust. >> reporter: while reaching out has the consequences of being always on, always out there, says darryl west, vice president of governance studies at the brookings institution. >> there are pitfalls to governance. messages are trivial. they're not very substantive. many of the reactions are polarizing or partisan. sometimes, social media has empowered extreme viewpoints in american politics. that makes it much more difficult to deliberate calmly on matters of major national importance. noise does not equal representativeness. the typical social media user is more white, higher income, and
7:41 pm
better educated so it is definitely not the typical american. it is a small slice of america. >> reporter: but true believers such as facebook's adam connor say that slice of america is widening every day. he's been training members and their staffs since he joined facebook 2 1/2 years ago and 300 members of congress are now using facebook for official purposes. >> i often use the analogy that these conversations are not new. people have always talked politics around the water cooler, at the office, over the backyard fence, and in the same way, people are always talking about these things online, and if you are not there and able to put your perspective and your official voice out there, then you are not part of the conversation, and i think what you would not want to do is not be part of the conversation. >> reporter: republican congressman robbed goodlatch is a cochair of the congressional caucus. >> i think we have a long way to go in terms of fully
7:42 pm
understanding how well we can reach people about our ideas and activities and events and so on, and how inexpensive compared to mailing a postcard or mailing a newsletter -- how inexpensively you can reach large, large numbers of people by using new media, but you've got to do it in a way that is of interest to them because they have so many more alternative sources of information than they might have had 20 years ago. >> reporter: at the annual george washington university politics online conference, in washington, political operatives tried to ensure that new media will grab voters in seminars such as "how will augment ed reality, and other apps be used in the 2010 election." rob martin is a former advisor to paypal, an e-commerce business. he now is readying what he calls a republican answer to the left-leaning
7:43 pm
>> we want to be able to come in and enable really powerful conservative act vivivism, and eventually when they trust -- activism and when eventually they trust us they will hand us $10 or $20 or $25 and a few million people doing that adds up. >> augmented reality i believe has the most potential to be a persuasive medium. >> reporter: matt lira, advisor to eric cantor, republican congressman said voters could point a device at a certain environment to reveal relevant data about the environment on the screen, soliciting the voter's opinions. >> all this technology could restructure the relationship between the government and the constituents. i think could be a radical transformation. no less impactful than when television began to impact that relationship. >> reporter: rob willington who
7:44 pm
did the surprisingly successful campaign for senator scott brown talked about 2010 techniques. >> we're going to see a lot of people doing a little bit in their spare time, online donations i think are going to be moving toward mobile donations, we're going to be seeing the iphone and also the ipad used at political events. >> reporter: the effect of this new media and social media push on the republican party in the coming midterm election is not clear, west says. >> sometimes, people become technology determinists. they think technology solves everything. marshall mcluhan was famous for saying it's the media not the message but people need to keep in mind it is still the message, it is the content and the timing of what they say that affects the national debate so people should not get confused by the nature of the platform. >> reporter: yet another push on new media is coming in the form of a growing number of conservative-backed start-up online news organizations around the country. they're focusing coverage on
7:45 pm
government and politics at a time when newspapers are cutting back. tom rosensteel heads. >> i think there are important questions to ask about anybody who represents themselves as a news organization. one of them is the financing. another is what is the intent. is it to start public discussion? or is it to forge certain outcomes? >> reporter: there is no sign that any of the forms of new media will slow down, as republicans push toward gains in 2010. the g.o.p. leadership recently declared twitter day on capitol hill. >> suarez: republicans and their >> woodruff: finally tonight, the financial crisis in greece. this week progress has been made on a major rescue package, but any sense of confidence about a possible deal gave way today to new worries here and abroad. margaret warner has our update.
7:46 pm
>> reporter: the proposed bailout of greece sparked angry protest in athens today against the austerity measures it will demand. you can't live off of 500-600 euros. now they take more away. >> reporter: the financial markets in the u.s. and europe didn't seem much happier. both saw a wave of selloffs, down 3% in europe and more than 2% in the u.s., over concerns that the rescue plan won't work and the debt crisis may spread to other european states. and the euro hit a one-year low against the dollar. it wasn't the reaction european finance ministers and the international monetary fund had hoped for sunday when they approved a three-year greece rescue package of $145 billion.
7:47 pm
germany shares $30 billion. germany's chancellor angela merkel approved the move after weeks of delay. >> this reaction to a law does not only mean but will also help the stableation of the euro as a whole and therefore hep the people of germany because a stable european currency is extraordinarily important. >> reporter: nearly $400 billion in the red and less than three weeks from default, the greek government felt it had no choice. but the price is stiff. tax hikes and $40 billion in budget cuts through 2012 that will hit pensions and public salaries hard. >> the international monetary fund came to control us like a new dictator who every three months will be seeking to suck our blood. >> reporter: 4,000 teachers and students marched past parliament today. some threw stones at riot police who fired back with pepper spray.
7:48 pm
state employees at airports, schools and hospitals didn't show up for work and a general strike was called for wednesday. still, the greek parliament took up the austerity measures with a vote expected later in the week. >> woodruff: for more on this and what for more on this, and what it could mean for the u.s. and the global economy, we turn to fred bergsten. a former treasury official, he is now the director of the peterson institute for international economics. >> woodruff: mr. bergsten, welcome back to the program. the markets have been demanding a rescue package for greece. finally it happens, and the markets slide. why? >> there is a widespread fear in the markets and elsewhere that it may be too little and too late. big as this package is, it may not be enough to rescue greece from ultimately having to restructure its debt, which means forcing some of its creditors to take a haircut, take some losses, write off some of the debt so greece can start again. >> reporter: are you saying -- >> woodruff: are you saying that
7:49 pm
given the nature of the greek economy with its bloated public sector, its tax evasion, that there is reason to doubt whether it could live up to the terms of the agreement as it's -- the sort of massive loan bailout as it's currently constructed? >> there are two things. one, can it live up to the agreement? the second is, even if they do, is the agreement big enough? there are some doubts about their living up to it. greeks have been living way beyond their means. they can retire at age 55 on 100% of what they were making. only a few thousand greeks with incomes of over $100,000 even pay taxes. there is endemic tax evasion. the prime minister himself has said "we have systematic corruption in the country." but again, even if they follow-through and all the political parties seem ready to do it despite the strikes and the people in the streets, the question is will it be big enough? the greek debt is over 120% of its economy.
7:50 pm
it's headed toward 140 or 150% under the best of circumstances, even if the program works. when you figure 7 or 8% annual interest on that, it's very hard to imagine reducing the rest of the budget enough to make them able to pay without some significant restructuring. >> woodruff: and, of course, restructuring debts owed to french and german banks which wouldn't go over well. let me move to the other factor. contagion. the fear that now that at least a package of this is put together for greece, the traders and speculators are going to start putting pressure on a couple of other debt-heavy countries in europe. specifically, spain and portugal. what do you think of the dangers of that? >> i think that's less of a problem at least for now. the economic fundamentals in both portugal and spain are not nearly as bad. moreover, the european central bank has taken a big step. it's been willing to now buy greek financial paper pretty
7:51 pm
much like the fed bought mortgage-backed securities here in the united states, essentially taking care of any liquidity problem that the countries might have. with that done for greece, it clearly would be done for portugal and spain as well, i think that avoids the risk of any significant spillover at least for now. >> reporter: what about the impact on the u.s. of this greek bailout? to what degree does the success or failure of this greek bailout have an effect on our economy? >> it has two or three effects. greece is too small as a share of the european economy -- only about 2% -- to have much effect via growth. were europe's growth is already modest, but this won't make it much worse. i don't think that will hurt us in any significant way. on the other hand, as your report said, the greek crisis has led to a sharp weakening of the exchange rate of the euro. it's off over 10% just over the last six months. that means the there is stronger.
7:52 pm
that hurts our competitive condition. it hurts our exports just when president obama has stressed the need to expand exports to get our economy growing and job growth up here. the other thing is that the greek fiscal crisis -- and this is really a budget crisis -- like latin america in the 1980's, kind of a classic budget crisis -- i'm afraid it may start reminding markets that the u.s., too, has big deficits and big debt. on any reasonable projection of the u.s. outlook, our numbers in 10 to 15 years will look about as bad as greece's do today. that's a big warning sign for us. we've got time to get our house in order. there is plenty of time to do it. we've got a much stronger underlying economy. but if markets start focusing on those variables, it could be very severe for our own credit ratings, our own market outlook and the fairly easy situation we
7:53 pm
have now in funding our debt and deficits could go the other way, and that could be big problems for the united states. >> reporter: despite the fact that we unlike greece can print our own currency, still a cautionary tale. fred bergsten, thank you so much. >> good to talk. >> brown: aga >> brown: again, the major developments of the day. the prime suspect in the times square bomb plot was formally charged with terrorism, hours after his arrest in new york city. better weather in the gulf of mexico helped cleanup crews on the new oil spill. the newshour is always online. hari sreenivasan, in our newsroom, previews what's there. hari? >> sreenivasan: we talk to politico's josh gerstein for more on the times square bomb plot investigation. in our newshour plus series on science and technology, a conversation with cnet's molly wood about the latest ipad, and the rollout of a robotic diet coach. jim lehrer checks in via skype from albuquerque, where he's talking about his new novel, and he describes the many questions he gets about friday regulars shields and brooks.
7:54 pm
and tonight's edition of "frontline" examines the rise of for-profit universities. find a link to their web site on ours. all that and more is on our web site, jeff? >> brown: and that's the newshour for tonight. i'm jeffrey brown. >> woodruff: and i'm judy woodruff. we'll see you online and again here tomorrow evening. thank you, and good night. major funding for the pbs newshour is provided by:
7:55 pm
7:56 pm
and with the ongoing support of these institutions and foundations. and... this program was made possible by the corporation for public broadcasting. and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. captioning sponsored by macneil/lehrer productions captioned by media access group at wgbh
7:57 pm
7:58 pm
7:59 pm


2 Favorites

info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on