In September, anchor Judy Woodruff said of the PBS NewsHour, “We try to show various thoughts and ideas around certain issues, to go deeper and allow people to really understand them. I think that’s resonating right now.” Despite her characterization, the show tends to lean heavily to the left, with counterweight David Brooks often criticizing conservatives while leftist Mark Shields hits them like a hammer. On Friday’s installment of the program, Woodruff asked New York Times columnist Brooks, “Can [President Trump] undo the Obama legacy?”
With regard to Obamacare and the Iran deal, Brooks said Trump was elected on his promise to instantiate change. Posing the same question to NewsHour analyst Shields elicited this reaction:
“The fantasy that there was a Republican health plan has been totally exposed and exploded, and Donald Trump gave the final lie to that.”
According to Shields, rather than construction, Republicans specialize only in destroying and dismantling:
“All [Trump] wants to do now is to destroy and dismantle that which was what he can’t — (1950s Democrat Speaker of the House) Sam Rayburn once said, 'Any jackass can kick down a barn. It takes a good carpenter to build one.' And so they’re just about—that’s what they’re about, is dismantling.”
Accusing President Trump of going against American interests—an allegation he would surely never allow to be leveled against Obama—Shields said:
“When Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis, a decorated Marine combat veteran, said that the Iranian deal…is in the national security interests of the United States of America, and Donald Trump, you know, gives some cockamamie explanation, is going to change it to—you know, he’s going to be playing right into the hands of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard.”
Posing a moderate counterpoint, Brooks said that the truth was more complicated than Shields’s analogy of careless destruction. Shields replied, “I could not disagree more.”
Brooks continued, explaining the Republican position on the current healthcare system:
“I’m just saying [President Trump’s philosophical position is] that a lot of the cross-subsidization involved in these big insurance pools is unfair to a certain set of people who are subsidizing the sicker and the poorer.”
"David has just done the impossible. He has detected a coherent philosophy in Donald Trump,” Shields responded.
This is as down-the-middle as PBS can get—a suggestion that, impossibly, the Trump administration has "a coherent philosophy." That's PBS's version of fair and balanced.