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I'm Jane Pauley, and this is Sunday Morning. It's been said journalism is the first draft of history. During the Trump years, that draft was sometimes found in sensational headlines that tended to generate more heat than light. Now a group of actual historians is considering the presidency of Donald Trump. It's a monumental task with only one likely outcome, like the man himself, its findings will be met with both praise and condemnation.
Rita Braver speaks with some of the men and women taking a first look back. The Constitution of the United States. So how are historians assessing Donald Trump's presidency? Donald Trump is the president who? Tried to break things.
He came in to be a disruptor. And of all his accomplishments, I think it's very easy to say that he accomplished that one. Coming up on Sunday morning, our first draft of history. David Martin talks with journalist Carl Bernstein of Watergate fame. We'll remember trailblazing filmmaker Peter Bogdanovich. Plus a story from Steve Hartman and more on this Sunday Morning for the 9th of January, 2022.
We'll be back in a moment. This past week marked one year since the closing chapter of Donald Trump's presidency, the January 6th insurrection at the Capitol. This morning, Rita Braver talks with some historians trying to assess the Trump years and their impact on America. There's at least one thing that Donald Trump's critics and supporters.
Congratulations, Mr. President. Can agree on about his presidency. He came in to be a disruptor and of all his accomplishments. I think it's very easy to say that he accomplished that one. Jeffrey Engel, director of the Center for Presidential History at Southern Methodist University, is one of a group of historians from leading universities around the country who convened via Zoom last March.
His concept of the national interest was identical with his concept of his own interests. Trump inherited a mess. It was not that he created a mess.
The Middle East was in very bad shape. Their mission, assessing one of the most unusual presidencies in American history. This presidency has now ended, one of the most unstable, unconventional. Julian Zelizer of Princeton assembled the panel, which will soon publish a book of essays on the Trump presidency.
One thing that historians who have lived through the moment have that historians 200 years from now won't have is a sense of what it felt like to live in the moment. It will be the third volume in a series which offered mixed assessments of George W. Bush and Barack Obama. But unlike his predecessors, Donald Trump requested to meet via Zoom with the historians. They shared the video of that session with us. I have great respect and I thought if you're writing a book, it would really be nice if we had an accurate book.
In fact, we spoke with four of the historians who all agree that history's judgment of Donald Trump is likely to focus on two major events. His response to the coronavirus pandemic. It's going to disappear one day. It's like a miracle.
It will disappear. And his role in the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. We fight like hell.
And if you don't fight like hell, you're not going to have a country anymore. We'll get back to those in a moment. But first, during his one-hour session with the group, former President Trump focused on what he sees as his administration's major accomplishments. This will be one of the largest jobs ever built in the world. For example, generating a strong economy early in his term.
Prior to the pandemic, we were setting records in every way. He touted his building of at least part of a wall between the U.S. and Mexico. We did a great job on that and we got, we did a very, we did the wall that Border Patrol won. And he proudly talked of upending U.S. policy toward China. China was very bad on trade.
You know that. I did tariffs and everything else and really had a big impact. It's a policy shift that President Biden has continued. Trump, I think, helped most Americans recognize that China needed to be stood up to. And then there were Mr. Trump's three Supreme Court appointees, likely to tilt the court to the right for decades. But when it comes to the full assessment of the Trump presidency, historians point out that his accomplishments were often eclipsed by behavior never before seen in a U.S. president.
I can name kung flu. He frequently commended himself. I'm like a really smart guy. Then there was his use of social media. People were fired or their appointments announced on Twitter.
Yeah. And major policies were announced on Twitter, often causing real confusion and chaos. Nicole Hemmer of Columbia University also points to Mr. Trump's extensive record of making false claims, beginning when he insisted he had record-breaking crowds at his inauguration.
It looked, honestly, it looked like a million and a half people. Hemmer says not all presidents tell the truth all the time. But this one had a singular strategy. It is about lying as a test of loyalty.
Everyone can see that the crowd size is smaller. But if you are a Trump supporter, you have to side with him. And that's a very different use of lies. Previous presidents sought to unify the country. Republican and Democrat. We are all Americans. But the historians point out much of President Trump's rhetoric encouraged a divide. His people versus everybody else. You work harder, but you are indeed smarter than them. Let's call ourselves from now on the super elite.
We're the super elite. On the one hand, you had him speaking to people who legitimately felt like they'd been forgotten. And on the other hand, you had people say that he emboldened white nationalists and racists with this very same rhetoric. Which was it?
Oh, it was absolutely both. That he was able to speak to people who didn't feel heard, but was true. But as somebody who studies white nationalists and white power movements, those movements also heard something in what Donald Trump was saying that appealed to them. The historians say that connection with white nationalists was on display after they clashed with counter protesters in Charlottesville, Virginia in 2017.
Very fine people on both sides. It was a march fueled by this white rage and white backlash. And the president was unable to firmly just announce it. Still, many voters were willing to overlook Mr. Trump's provocative behavior. Then COVID hit and polls showed disapproval of his handling of a pandemic that has now killed more than 800,000 Americans. We have it totally under control.
It's one person coming in from China. In his talk with the historians, former President Trump acknowledged no mistakes, instead lauding his own handling of the crisis. And so we got to work and we did an incredible job. We had to go buy from everybody all over the world.
And it was tough because everybody else wanted to buy too, the masks and all of it. How did Donald Trump do with answering the challenge of COVID? Overall, I think Donald Trump not only didn't do bad, he did pretty terribly. There were many opportunities where he could have taken decisive federal action and passed them up. Merlin Chowkwanian, a historian at Columbia University School of Public Health says that despite Mr. Trump's claims, he failed the country in major ways, including On the rhetorical stage where a president gets to use the pulpit, he instead used it to flout scientific expertise. And then I see the disinfectant where it knocks it out in a minute, one minute.
And is there a way we can do something like that by injection inside? Chowkwanian acknowledges that Mr. Trump does deserve some credit for the quick development of COVID vaccines. There are some people that say my greatest achievement was getting the vaccine. But he adds that his follow through on promoting and distributing the vaccines was weak. If you had to give this president a grade on how he handled COVID, could you give him one?
Probably go with a D. You get that extra letter grade for some of the vaccine contributions. But yeah, a D. And with the country reeling from COVID, Donald Trump lost his bid for re-election. That's when he started down the path that historians say ultimately led to the other defining moment of his presidency. Insurrection and assault on the U.S. Capitol as his followers responded to his repeated false claims of fraud, believing what's come to be known as the big lie. That was a rigged election, but we're still fighting it. This is a president who did not like the results of the election, did not like the fact that he was being voted out and decided that his personal interests were more important than the constitutional process. Nicole Hemmer says it was part of a pattern that began with lying about those inaugural crowds.
I think that when historians look back over the course of the Trump presidency, they'll say that little lie at the beginning was buy-in for the big lie at the end because that insurrection seemed to be the culmination of so many of the things that we saw as unique, bizarre, bad about his presidency. We will never give up. We will never concede. It doesn't happen.
You don't concede when there's death involved. It was terribly destabilizing and dangerous to have members of Congress and the vice president under threat in part of a mob that's being instigated by the president. Mr. Trump denied that allegation. It was very modest in many ways, and it was a very peaceful speech. But there was a lot of, and there was a lot of love out there.
There was tremendous love. Mr. Trump did not discuss the fact that he was impeached for his role in inciting the riot, becoming the first president in history to be impeached twice, the first for his efforts to pressure Ukraine into investigating the Bidens, though he was never convicted. He's not the first president with a troubled term in office, but still.
In the listing of American presidents, is Donald Trump going to be at the bottom, the middle, the top? Yeah, many people believe he's closer, certainly to Herbert Hoover or James Buchanan, presidency on the bottom, who left the country in a bad moment. And the presidency did end with the economy incredibly fragile and unstable. It ended with the pandemic raging and it ended with the country more divided and united from when he started.
If you had to give him a grade, what would it be? I don't think that a presidency that ends without a peaceful transfer of power can be considered anything other than a failure because of Donald Trump's culpability in that moment. But Mr. Trump still has strong influence in the Republican Party while teasing a possible White House run in 2024. Nevertheless, the historians we spoke to, along with those in a recent C-SPAN survey, predict that in the long run, Donald J. Trump will be relegated to the bottom tier of American presidents. Jeffrey Engel of Southern Methodist University. Donald Trump has a unique distinction.
It's the only president who refused to honor democracy. Stop and think about that sentence. It makes my mouth say, how can you say these words?
And yet I don't think they're wrong. This is Intelligence Matters with former acting director of the CIA, Michael Morell. Bridge Colby is co-founder and principal of the Marathon Initiative, a project focused on developing strategies to prepare the United States for an era of sustained great power competition. The United States put our mind to something we can usually figure it out.
What people are saying and what we kind of know analytically and empirically is our strategic situation, our military situation is not being matched up with what we're doing. Follow Intelligence Matters wherever you get your podcasts. Speaking of first drafts of history, Carl Bernstein co-wrote perhaps the most famous of our time. David Martin catches up with a legendary reporter who helped uncover the Watergate scandal.
I always had it in my head that all good reporting was the same thing, the best obtainable version of the truth. You know Carl Bernstein as half of the most famous byline in journalism, Woodward and Bernstein, the Washington Post reporters who uncovered the Watergate scandal. How old were you when you were assigned to cover the Watergate break-in? I was 28. Young but not green, Bernstein had been a newsman since he was a teenager. The formative part of my being a reporter occurred from ages 16 to 21 at a great old-fashioned newspaper, the Washington Star, not the Post. You should have been in high school. I just finished my junior year of high school.
I had sort of one foot in the juvenile court and one foot trying to figure out what I was going to do with my life because it wasn't exactly going right. His new book Chasing History is the prequel to Woodward and Bernstein's classic work All the President's Men. It begins with the moment he first set foot inside a newsroom. It was maybe the most exciting moment of my life. It's energy and like they were in the most urgent errands in the nation and typing away on deadline.
He had one marketable skill. I had taken typing with the girls in 10th grade. I could type about 90 words a minute. So you got hired? I got hired. As what?
As a copy boy at $29 a week. The Washington Star has since gone the way of most afternoon papers and ceased to publish. You have to be a certain age to remember the Washington Star. You sure do.
You sure do. What was the Washington Star? It was probably the best afternoon newspaper in the country. At the Star he was surrounded by Pulitzer prize-winning reporters, men and women.
Did you have role models? Yeah, Sid Epstein. I owe him a lot.
He somehow saw things in me maybe that I didn't see him myself. And he was a great, great editor. Years later at the Washington Post, Bernstein worked for another great editor, the brash and dashing Ben Bradley. Bernstein, are you sure on this story? Absolutely. Woodward?
I'm sure. As played by Jason Robards in the movie All the President's Men, Bradley gave Bernstein, played by Dustin Hoffman, his biggest break by keeping a lowly local news reporter on the biggest political scandal in American history. But it was Epstein who gave him his first break in 1961. He looked at me and he said, you go cover the inauguration. That was the snowbound inauguration of John Kennedy. Bernstein covered crowd reaction as the new president and his glamorous wife rolled by. Then came the assassination in Dallas. Bernstein got the terrible news from another reporter. She looked at me and said, he's dead.
And, wow, it's amazing. Some moments in your life. He took dictation as the grim facts were phoned in from Dallas.
Two priests walked out of Dallas Memorial Parkland Hospital at 1.10 p.m. today and announced, comma, quote, the president is dead. And my hands were shaking. Still a teenager and living like one, Bernstein started to land stories on the front page. But his college transcript was littered with D's and F's. Look at the job I had. Who the hell wanted to go to class? Did you flunk out?
Oh, yeah, I flunked out. Without a college degree, the star would not promote him. So he wrangled a job interview with an editor at the Washington Post. He said, why do you think, you know, you can really do this? And I said, because I had the best education you could have for this business at the Washington Star.
In 1972, the street smart Bernstein teamed up with the Ivy League Woodward. I don't want to tell the grand jury. Why didn't he?
Because nobody asked him. On what started as a third-rate burglary and ended with the resignation of a president. Nothing's riding on this except the First Amendment, the Constitution, freedom of the press and maybe the future of the country. The kid who had chased history and the president's history ended up making it.
What we're talking about are really hinges of history in America. And I was lucky enough. Here's this kid. He's 16 years old.
He gets the greatest seat in the country. The new year has barely begun, but Steve Hartman already sees some signs of hope. Clairvoyant Winslow Elliott knows what we're feeling. Anytime there's uncertainty or anxiety, people will be like, oh, I'm going to die. Anytime there's uncertainty or anxiety, people want to know their future. So I asked Winslow to shuffle up her tarot cards. You're going to ask a question? Yes, but I don't want a reading for me. Okay.
I want a reading for her. Oh, the future of the United States of America. What lies ahead for the new year? Okay. It's the uneasy question.
Interesting. On everyone's mind. To some, 2022 has already dropped the ball. We've already stewed in the resurrection of our insurrection. We've seen people stuck in traffic for hours and in airports for days.
We've seen a spike in COVID cases triggering a nationwide epidemic of deja vu. So how will we manage? Going into the future. Winslow had answers. A higher octave of where we are now.
Unfortunately, they went way over my crown chakra. It's going inward time. Does anything here say we're going to be okay? That's not good. But there was one card to go. And I'll show you that in a minute.
But first, a look at the wild card in this query. That resilient group of Americans who dictate their own future. Always taking whatever lousy hand they're dealt and somehow finding aces.
Please maintain control. Whether it's the woman who turned her airport delay into a ukulele recital. Airport's a good place to practice. Or the stranger who turned her airport delay into a ukulele recital. Researchers who broke bread from a bakery truck on I-95.
Just trying to help out. We saw smiles pop up in the most unlikely places this week. Did the outpouring surprise you?
Yes. Heidi and Steve Boatwright lost everything in the Colorado fire. Here we have the boatwrights.
But have since been flooded with goodwill and great comfort. People sending care packages, donating names we don't know. We're trying to google some of these names. Like who is this?
I don't know who this is. It's pretty remarkable. Yeah. I hear stories of kindness like that and wonder. Is our future fated? Or is it divined from the way we treat one another? That's what I believe.
And Winslow, what's the last one? Or someone out there. Aw.
Agrees. It's a card of choosing love. Got a post-holiday yen for a little something sweet? Lucy Craft in Tokyo can help.
Nestled beside a Buddhist temple, the tiny ramshackle shop with its weather-beaten showcases is easy to miss. But for the pint-sized, these humble shelves are Willy Wonka, Hansel and Gretel, and Candyland all rolled up into one. A beloved Japanese institution known as a digashia. The local penny candy shop.
Digashia means a seller of cheap, inferior treats. But to customers, the penny candy shop is priceless. When the anime smash hit Only Yesterday was released in 1991, the creators immortalized this candy store, founded in the 18th century, in a promotional poster for the film.
Masao Uchiyama has worked the counter for 70 years. The 13th generation of her family to operate the store. Girls will come back as adults when they turn 20, and then when they have kids of their own, she said. Regular stores don't get to watch their customers grow up like I do. Lured by delicacies like squid on a stick, roasted soybean bonbons, and fortune-telling chocolate buttons, kids get a sweet lesson on how to tote up their bill, figure out the change, and request a favorite snack. At a supermarket, she said, you can shop without saying a word.
Here, you need to learn to speak up. It's food designed to be irresistible, said Megumo Kimoto, a buyer for snacks company Bokksu. There are all kinds of little things everywhere that are attractive for a kid's eyes.
Just different colors and different flavors. How much time would you spend there choosing what to buy? I still remember those times I used to, you know, bring 100 yen, 200 yen, which is like a dollar, two dollars, strategizing for hours which items I could get with my limited pocket money. Across town, the Gifuya Digashi Shop is a little piece of paradise for the preschool to preteen crowd. Inside the cramped store, kids agonize over a breathtaking assortment of treats. There are pink sweet and sour radish slices, sea bream-shaped wafers stuffed with chocolate, sugar candy whistles, and tiny imitation pork cutlets, to name just a few. The snacks are cheap, delicious, and easy to eat, these boys said.
Even a small piece fills you up. Dagashiya exerts such a powerful hold on the popular imagination, some Tokyo bars offer all-you-can-grab snack shelves. But with fewer kids around nowadays and competition from big stores, Dagashiya are fast disappearing, a relic of a slower time.
Japan is already starting to miss. It happened on Tuesday, the end of an era, the day the BlackBerry entered the history books. At its peak in 2013, there were some 85 million BlackBerry subscribers worldwide. But the pioneering and hugely popular mobile device was pushed aside by iPhones and other high-tech options. And this past week, BlackBerry pulled the plug and shut down service for good.
Once again, the BlackBerry is just a fruit, but really good for you. Thank you for listening. Please join us when our trumpet sounds again next Sunday morning. There are bad people in the world. The best way to protect the good people is to convict the bad. So here's to us. The Good Fight, the final season, now streaming exclusively on Paramount+.
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