METROFOCUS: MARCH 29, 2019

Questions swirl about President Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner’s family business practices and Councilman Ritchie Torres wants answers. Torres is here with details. Did the Mueller report findings deal a death blow to the reputation of the mainstream media? Journalist Matt Taibbi makes the case. In honor of Women’s History Month, a look at how World War II transformed genders rolls forever in America.

Aired on March 29, 2019. 

TRANSCRIPT

TONIGHT ON METROFOCUS THE PRESIDENT'S SON-IN-LAW MAY HAVE SURVIVED ROBERT MUELLER'S CONCLUSION OF NO COLLUSION, BUT CAN HE SURVIVE COUNCIL MEMBER RITCHIE TORRES' PROBE INTO HIS BUSINESS DEALINGS IN NEW YORK.

THE CHAIR OF THE COMMITTEE IN OVERSIGHT AND INVESTIGATIONS WILL JIN US.

DID THE MUELLER REPORT DEAL A DEATH BLOW TO THE REPUTATION OF THE PRESS?

RUSSIA GATE IS THIS GENERATION'S WMD.

HERE TO MAKE THE CASE.

AND IN HONOR OF WOMEN'S HISTORY MONTH, A LOOK AT HOW THE ROLE OF WOMEN WAS TRANSFORMED DURING WORLD WAR II AND HOW THEIR HEROISM ON THE HOME FRONT BECAME A CRITICAL PART OF THE WAR EFFORT.

THOSE STORIES AND MORE AS 'METROFOCUS' STARTS RIGHT NOW.

♪ ♪

Announcer: THIS IS 'METROFOCUS' WITH RAFAEL P.

ROMAN, JACK FORD, AND JENNA FLANAGAN.

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> GOOD EVENING AND WELCOME TO 'METROFOCUS.'

I'M RAFAEL P. ROMAN.

JARED KUSHNER MAY HAVE SURVIVED THE MUELLER REPORT BY HE IS STILL FACING SCRUTINY BACK HERE IN NEW YORK CITY.

HIS FAMILY'S BUSINESS KUSHNER COMPANIES FINDS ITSELF IN THE CROSSHAIRS OF CITY COUNCIL COUNCIL MEMBER RITCHIE TORRES AND HOUSING RIGHTS INITIATIVE.

THEIR INVESTIGATION RECENTLY REVEALED NEW FINDINGS AS THEY ARE ACCUSING THE COMPANY OF ILLEGALLY OPERATING NINE APARTMENT BUILDINGS WITHOUT CERTIFICATES OF OCCUPANCY.

ACCORDING TO THE AP, CERTIFICATES FOR TWO OF THE NINE BUILDINGS EXPIRED WHILE JARED KUSHNER WAS CEO.

THE COMPANY HAS PUSHED BACK, SAYING THAT, QUOTE, SIMILAR TO MANY OTHER LANDLORDS, WE INHERITED FROM PRIOR OWNERS CERTIFICATES OF OCCUPANCY WITH VARIOUS ISSUES.

KUSHNER WILL CONTINUE THE LONG AND DETAILED PROCESS TO CORRECT EVERY ISSUE OUTSTANDING.

AND FOR MORE ON THIS STORY AND HIS INVESTIGATION I'M JOINED BY BRONX COUNCIL MEMBER RITCHIE TORRES, CHAIR OF COMMITTEE ON OVERSIGHT AND INVESTIGATIONS.

COUNCIL MEMBER, THANK YOU FOR JOINING US.

AN HONOR TO BE HERE.

SO, COUNCIL MEMBER TORRES, WHAT WERE THE BIGGEST TAKEAWAYS FROM THIS INVESTIGATION ON THE KUSHNER COMPANIES?

FIRST WE CAME TO DISCOVER THAT THEY WERE ILLEGALLY FALSIFYING ILLEGAL DOCUMENTS RELATING TO BUILDING PERMITS.

THEY WERE ILLEGALLY UNDERTAKING CONSTRUCTION WORK WITHOUT A BUILDING PERMIT.

AND THE LATEST FINDING IS THAT CRUSHNER COMPANIES IS ILLEGALLY OPERATING BUILDINGS WITHOUT A CERTIFICATE OF OCCUPANCY.

EVERY BUILDING BUILT AFTER 1938 IS REQUIRED TO HAVE A CERTIFICATE OF OCCUPANCY.

THAT TELLS YOU WHETHER A BUILDING IS SAFE.

IT TELLS YOU WHETHER YOU AS A NEW YORKER CAN SAFELY LIVE, SAFELY WORK, OR SAFELY BE IN A BUILDING AND JUST LIKE IT'S ILLEGAL TO OPERATE A VEHICLE WITHOUT A DRIVER'S LICENSE, IT'S ILLEGAL TO OPERATE A BUILDING WITHOUT A CERTIFICATE OF OCCUPANCY.

IT'S THAT IMPORTANT?

OTHERS SAY IT'S NOT REALLY THAT IMPORTANT.

IF YOU ARE FALSIFYING FILINGS FOR A BUILDING PERMIT, CONDUCTING CONSTRUCTION WORK WITHOUT A BUILDING PERMIT, IF YOU ARE OPERATING A BUILDING WITHOUT A CERTIFICATE OF OCCUPANCY, ALL OF THESE ARE NOT PRACTICES IN ISOLATION.

IT'S AN ATTEMPT TO AVOID SCRUTINY FROM THE CITY.

WHEN YOU ARE UNDERTAKE CONSTRUCTION WORK OR GAS WORK OR PLUMBING WORK, THERE ARE FIRE HAZARDS.

LET'S TALK ABOUT THAT BECAUSE YOU HAVE CALLED THAT WEAPONIZING CONSTRUCTION.

EXPLAIN THAT AM TERM.

THE USE OF ILLEGAL CONSTRUCTION AS A WEAPON FOR DISPLACING RESIDENTS FROM THEIR HOME AND DRIVING AFFORDABLE HOUSING UNITS OUT OF EXISTENCE.

THERE WAS A PROPERTY IN BROOKLYN OWNED BY KUSHNER COMPANIES THAT SAW 80% LOSS OF AFFORDABLE HOUSING IN THE SPAN OF A FEW YEARS.

IT WAS A PROPERTY IN THE EAST VILLAGE WHERE KUSHNER COMPANIES RECEIVED A CRIMINAL SUMMONS FOR IGNORING A COMMISSIONER'S ORDER TO COMPLY WITH THE FIRE CODE.

SO KUSHNER COMPANIES HAS A PRACTICE OF DISREGARDING THE SAFETY OF THEIR OWN RESIDENTS.

YOU SAY IT'S A WAY FOR THEM TO PUSH TENANTS OUT?

IT'S A WAY TO ESCAPE SCRUTINY FROM THE CITY AND DISPLACE RESIDENTS IN FAVOR OF HIGH-INCOME RESIDENTS WHO DELIVER MORE PROFITS FOR KUSHNER COMPANIES.

THEY ARE PROFITEERING FROM THE DESTRUCTION OF AFFORDABLE HOUSING.

I SAID SOME PEOPLE BELIEVE THAT CERTIFICATES OF OCCUPANCY ARE NOT THAT IMPORTANT.

IN FACT, A SPOKESPERSON FOR THE BUILDINGS DEPARTMENT CALLED THE EXPIRED CERTIFICATES PAPERWORK LAPSES AND BLASTED YOUR FINDINGS AS, QUOTED, PURE GRANDSTANDING.

WHY DON'T YOU RESPOND.

A YEAR AGO WE ISSUED A REPORT FINDING THAT KUSHNER COMPANIES WAS FALSE FLYING APPLICATIONS FOR A BUILDING PERMIT.

THE BUILDING DEPARTMENT HAD THE SAME REACTION AND TOOKEN FORCE.

ACTION AGAINST KUSHNER COMPANIES RESULTING IN A QUARTER OF A MILLION DOLLARS OF FINES.

IT MEANS THAT YOU ARE BUILDING A SUBJECT TO LESS SCRUTINY FROM BUILDINGS DEPARTMENT THAN WITH A CERTIFICATE OF OCCUPANCY.

ONE OF THOSE PROPERTIES WENT SIX YEARS OUT A CERTIFICATE OF OCCUPANCY.

LOOK, WE PASS LAWS FOR A REASON.

THE BUILDINGS DEPARTMENT CANNOT PICK AND CHOOSE WHICH LAWS TO ENFORCE.

IF WE AS A CITY REQUIRE EVERY BUILDING IN NEW YORK CITY TO HAVE A CERTIFICATE THE BUILDINGS DEPARTMENT HAS TO APPLY THE LAW.

NO ONE ABOVE THE LAW.

SOME PEOPLE SUGGEST YOU ARE TARGETING HIM BECAUSE HE IS THE SON-IN-LAW OF THE PRESIDENT.

AS A RESULT OF OUR REPORT, THE BUILDINGS DEPARTMENT ISSUED $250,000 AGAINST KUSHNER COMPANIES.

THAT'S A FACT.

OKAY.

OBVIOUSLY, THIS IS A PROBLEM BEYOND THE KUSHNER COMPANIES.

IT'S WIDESPREAD, FROM WHAT I READ.

YES.

BUT THE KUSHNER COMPANIES IS AN ESPECIALLY EGREGIOUS ACTOR.

HOW DO YOU END THE PRACTICE?

HOW DO YOU KEEP IT FROM HAPPENING AGAIN?

EVEN IF WE HAVE THE RIGHT LAWS ON THE BOOKS, THE BUILDINGS DEPARTMENT SEEMS INCAPABLE OF ENFORCING THE LAUS.

EVEN WHEN THEY ENFORCE THE LAWS, THEY ARE INCAPABLE OF COLLECTING THE DEBT FROM THE VIOLATIONS.

IF WE FAIL TO ENFORCE THE LAW AND FAIL TO COLLECT THE DEBT, THEN A COMPANY LIKE KUSHNER COMPANIES HAS NO INCENTIVE TO FOLLOW THE LAW.

LET ME TURN TO MAYOR DE BLASIO AND SOME OF HIS SIGNATURE PROGRAMS.

YOU WERE RECENTLY QUOTED AS SAYING RENEWAL SCHOOLS IS FAILING TO RENEW.

THRIVE NYC IS FAILING TO THRIVE.

NEW YORK WORKS IS FAILING TO WORK.

WHY DO YOU THINK THE MAYOR'S PROGRAMS ARE HAVING SUCH DIFFICULTIES.

IT'S A FAILURE OF TRANSPARENCY AND ACCOUNTABILITY.

THE CITY COUNCIL HAS B INVESTIGATING NEW YORK WORKS, THE JOBS PLAN, FOR A NUMBER OF FUNDS.

THE MAYOR PROMISED 100,000 GOOD PAYING JOBS OVER THE COURSE OF TEN YEARS.

WE CAME TO DISCOVER THAT THE PLAN DOES NOT EVEN TRACK THE NUMBER OF JOBS IT CLAIMS TO CREATE.

IT ONLY PROJECTS THE NUMBER OF JOBS IT HOPES TO CREATE WITHOUT TRACKING WHETHER THOSE PROJECTIONS BECOME REALITY.

THE MAYOR CLAIMED THAT HE CREATED 19,000 JOBS.

BUT WHEN I CROSS EXAMINED THE PRESIDENT OF EDC, THE ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION, THE ADMINISTRATION ADMITTED TO 3,000 JOBS.

AND HAVING SPEND $300,000?

$300 MILLION.

EVEN THOUGH THE ADMINISTRATION IS COUNTING 19,000 JOBS, IT ONLY CREATED 3,000.

EVEN THOUGH THE ADMINISTRATION HAS SPENT $300 MILLION, IT HAS ONLY CREATED 3,000 IN THE COURSE OF TWO YEARS.

THE MAYOR PROMISE 100,000 IN TEN YEARS, HE CREATED 3,000 IN TWO YEARS.

WE WILL HAVE 18,000 IN TEN YEARS.

REAL QUICKLY, THRIVE NYC HAS GOTTEN A LOT OF CRITICISM.

HOW DO YOU RESPOND?

I THINK WITHOUT TRACKING THE REAL WORLD IMPACT OF THESE PROGRAMS WE HAVE NO WAY OF KNOWING WHETHER THRIVE IS THRIVING OR NEW YORK WORKS IS ACTUALLY WORKING.

MY GREATEST CRITICISM OF THRIVE NYC IS THAT IT NEGTS ONE OF THE MOST SERIOUS PROBLEMS IN OUR SOCIETY.

THE SEVERELY MENTALLY ILL.

SEVERE MENTAL ILLNESS IS ONE OF THE ROOT CAUSES OF CHRONIC HOMELESSNESS, CHRONIC OPIOID ADDICTION, CHRONIC OVERINCARCERATION, YET THRIVE NYC LARGELY IGNORES THE SEVERELY MENTALLY ILL PEOPLE IN OUR SOCIETY WHO ARE OFTEN LEFT TO DIE IN THE STREETS OR LANGUISH IN OUR SHELTERS, SUBWAYS AND JAILS.

THAT'S MORALLY WRONG.

BRONCS CONGRESSMAN JOSE SERRANO ANNOUNCED HE IS STEPPING DOWN BECAUSE HE WAS PARKINSON'S DISEASE.

YOU HAVE SAID IN THE PAST YOU MAY BE INTERESTED IN THAT OFFICE.

ARE YOU GOING TO RUN?

THERE WAS A TIME AND PLACE FOR POLITICS.

YOU KNOW, IT'S TRAGIC THAT CONGRESSMAN SERRANO IS STRUGGLING WITH PARKINSON'S.

IT'S WORTH NOTING THAT CONGRESSMAN SERRANO LATINO IN CONGRESS.

HE IS AN ICON.

WE SHOULD CELEBRATE HIS LEGACY.

I HOPE TO BE A PART OF THE NEXT GENERATION OF YOUNG LEADERS WHO FOLLOWS IN HIS FOOTSTEPS.

COUNCIL MEMBER TORRES, THANK YOU FOR JOINING US TODAY.

IT'S AN HONOR TO BE HERE.

> I THINK DEMOCRATS AND THE LIBERAL MEDIA OWE THE PRESIDENT AND THEY OWE THE AMERICAN PEOPLE AN APOLOGY.

THEY WASTED TWO YEARS AND CREATED A MASSIVE DISRUPTION AND DISTRACTION.

THE TRUMP ADMINISTRATION REMINDING THE MEDIA JUST HOW WRONG THEY GOT IT.

QUESTIONS OF OBSTRUCTION ASIDE, THE ATTORNEY GENERAL'S RELEASE OF THE MUELLER REPORT SUMMARY, WHICH FOUND NO COLLUSION BETWEEN TEAM TRUMP AND RUSSIA DURING THE 2016 CAMPAIGN, IS A MAJOR VICTORY FOR THE PRESIDENT IN HIS ONGOING WAR WITH THE MEDIA.

ONE THAT SAW MEMBERS OF THE PRESS TAKE WHAT SOME ARE CALLING A SEVERE CREDIBILITY HIT.

IN FACT, OUR NEXT GUEST SAYS MUELLER'S CONCLUSION OF NO COLLUSION IS SO BAD IT IS A DEATH BLOW FOR THE REPUTATION OF THE AMERICAN NEWS MEDIA.

HE IS A CONTRIBUTING EDITOR FOR ROLLING STONE AND THE AUTHOR OF THE SERIAL BOOK PAID, INC.

HIS LATEST CHAPTER, IT'S OFFICIAL.

RUSSIA GATE IS THIS GENERAL SITUATION AS WMD.

THE IRAQ WAR DAMAGED THE REPUTATION OF THE PRESS.

RUSSIA GATE JUST DESTROYED IT.

WELCOME.

THANK YOU.

FOR OUR VIEWERS WHO MAY BE TOO YOUNG TO REMEMBER, COULD YOU BRIEFLY SUMMARIZE WHAT THE WMD FIASCO WAS AND THE MEDIA'S ROLE IN THAT FIASCO?

IT WAS REALLY A TWO-PART ERROR IN THE RUN-UP TO THE IRAQ WAR.

THE BUSH ADMINISTRATION WAS VERY ANXIOUS TO INVADE IRAQ FOR REASONS THAT WE NOW KNOW WERE TIED TO A SORT OF LARGER MORE AMBITIOUS FOREIGN POLICY AGENDA CALLED REGIME CHANGE AND BENEVOLENT HYGEMONY.

THEY NEEDED A FIG LEAF TO GO IN.

THEY COOKED UP THIS IDEA THAT THEY WOULD HAVE TO INVADE ON THE PRETEXT OF STOPPING SADDAM HUSSEIN WHO WAS A VIOLATOR OF U.N. INSPECTIONS REGIMING BECAUSE HE HAD WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION.

THE PRESS MISSED THE REAL REASON WE WANTED TO GO IN.

THEN THEY FELL FOR THE IDEA THAT SADDAM HUSSEIN HAD WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION.

AND THIS WENT ON FOR A PERIOD OF YEARS.

THEY CREATED THIS WHOLE MANIA ABOUT HOW WE HAD TO GO IN IMMEDIATELY DESPITE THE FACT THAT WE HAD SUCCESSFULLY CONTAINED THAT COUNTRY FOR YEARS.

THE MYTH OF WMD, OF COURSE, LED TO CATASTROPHE, DESTRUCTION.

OVER 100,000 IRAQIS DEAD, THOUSANDS OF AMERICANS DEAD, $2 TRILLION IN COST.

YOU SAY THAT RUSSIA GATE MAKES WMD LOOK LIKE A PIMPLE.

REALLY?

IN THE PIECE I MAKE CLEAR THAT I AM NOT TALKING ABOUT THE REAL WORLD CONSEQUENCES.

I SAY, OF COURSE, OF COURSE THE WMD THING RESULTED IN HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS OF DEATHS.

UNLESS THIS SOMEHOW LEADS TO NUCLEAR COMBAT WITH RUSSIA, WE ARE NEVER GOING TO SEE THAT SCALE.

I WAS TALKING ABOUT KIND OF THE SCALE AND THE BREADTH OF THE KIND OF JOURNALISTIC MISTAKE HERE.

IT WAS SO FAR REACHING THAT I THINK IT WILL DAMAGE OUR CREDIBILITY MORE THAN THE WMD THING DID.

SO IF IT IS AS YOU CHARACTERIZE IT, WHAT LED TO IT?

IS IT AS SIMPLE AS TED KOPPEL SAID THE OTHER DAY, THE MEDIA GENERALLY THOUGHT THE PRESIDENT WAS SO BAD, THAT IN EFFECT, AND I THINK THESE WERE HIS WORDS, THEY WANTED HIM OUT?

THERE WAS A LITTLE BIT OF THAT FOR SURE.

I REMEMBER THERE WAS A VERY IMPORTANT INFLUENTIAL EDITORIAL IN THE BUSINESS BY JIM RUTENBERG OF THE 'NEW YORK TIMES' IN AUGUST OF 2016 THAT ESSENTIALLY SAID TRUMP WAS SO SO BAD WE NEEDED TO RETHINK OF OUR CONCEPT OF OBJECTIVITY.

WE HAD TO START THINKING ABOUT BEING TRUE TO HISTORY'S JUDGMENT IN ADDITION TO JUST BEING TRUE.

THIS WAS REALLY A SIGNAL THAT WE START TODAY HAVE TO BE MORE ACTIVISTS AND POLITICAL MINDED IN OUR THINKING.

AND WHEN THE STEELE REPORT WAS LEAK AND WHEN IT WAS SUGGESTED THAT DONALD TRUMP HAD SOME UNSAVORY RELATIONSHIP WITH RUSSIAN INTELLIGENCE, WE JUMPED ON THAT STORY FOR A VARIETY OF REASONS.

I THINK ONE OF THEM, YES, WAS THE IDEA THAT WE WANTED DONALD TRUMP OUT.

ALSO, THERE WAS THE OTHER ISSUE, WHICH IS THAT WE HAD CONSISTENTLY MISPREDICTED EVERYTHING TO DO WITH DONALD TRUMP'S PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN.

WE DISMISSED THE IDEA HE COULD BE THE NOMINEE.

SO WHEN HE DID GET ELECTED, IT WAS A TOTAL SHOCK TO ALMOST EVERYBODY'S AUDIENCES.

SO THIS EXPLANATION MADE MORE SENSE TO PEOPLE THAN MAYBE IT SHOULD HAVE.

NOW, YOU WROTE THAT, AS IT PLAYED OUT, THE PRESS HAS, IN FACT, HANDED TRUMP THE MOTHER OF ALL CAMPAIGN ISSUES HEADING INTO 2020.

BUT AS MOST JOURNALISTS WILL TELL YOU, IT HAS NOT PLAYED OUT YET.

WE HAVEN'T EVEN SEEN THE MUELLER REPORT ALL WE'VE SEEN IS A SUMMARY.

RIT.

IF AND WHEN THE SUMMARY COMES OUT, IT'S GOING TO BE CHALK FULL OF STUFF THAT I WOULD IMAGINE WILL BE HIGHLY EMBARRASSING TO TRUMP.

TRUMP IS A PERSON WHO WRAPS HIS ARMS AROUND EMBARRASSMENT.

AS A POLITICIAN, HE IS NOT AFRAID OF THINGS THAT NORMAL POLITICIANS WOULD RUN SCREAMING FROM.

WHAT HE IS GOING TO FOCUS ON AND WHAT HE IS GOING TO HAMMER ON REPEATEDLY IS THE CORE FINDING OF THE REPORT, WHICH IS THAT THEY COULD NOT FIND EVIDENCE OF COLLUSION OR COORDINATION WITH RUSSIA'S ELECTION INTERFERENCE ACTIVITIES.

THAT PARTICULAR CONCEPT HE IS GOING TO HAMMER OVER AND OVER AND OVER AGAIN BECAUSE THAT WAS THE UNDERLYING, THE SUBTEXT OF THOUSANDS OF NEWS STORIES DURING THIS PERIOD.

YOU KNOW, GLENN GREENWALD, A PROGRESSIVE JOURNALIST LIKE YOURSELF, HE AGREES WITH YOU ABOUT THE MEDIA GET THE STORY WRONG HE SAYS NOT ONLY THAT AND IT HURT HIS REPUTATION, BUT THERE WERE PLENTY OF IMPORTANT STORIES NOT COVERED AS A RESULT.

DO YOU AGREE AND WHAT ARE SOME OF THE STORIES?

I AGREE WITH HIM IN THE SENSE THAT THIS IS AN OUTGROWTH OF THE PROBLEM THAT WE NEVER REALLY RECKONED WITH THE FACT THAT TRUMP WON BECAUSE IF JOURNAL JOURNALISTS HAD BEEN OUT THERE BE TALKING TO PEOPLE, AND I COVERED TRUMP'S CAMPAIGN, I AWAY HEAR THINGS LIKE I WILL VOTE FOR ANYBODY WHO IS NOT A POLITICIAN THIS YEAR.

SOMEBODY SAID I'LL VOTE FOR THE FIRST GUY OUT OF THAT REC CENTER OVER ANY POLITICIAN WHO IS A MEMBER OF THE POLITICAL ESTABLISHMENT.

PEOPLE WERE MAD ABOUT LACK OF HEALTH CARE, LACK OF JOB SECURITY TO, YOU KNOW, IMMIGRATION, WHICH IS A VERY LOADED TOPIC.

BUT THERE WAS A MASSIVE ORGANIC AN BEING A VERY CAN POLITICIAN.

SO IF THE PRESS'S REPUTATION IS DAMAGED, WHAT DOES IT HAVE TO DO TO REGAIN THE REPUTATION?

THAT'S A DIFFICULT THING.

I MEAN, I THINK THE MAJOR MISTAKE WE MADE DURING THIS TIME WAS THIS IDEA THAT WE HAD TO BECOME MORE POLITICALLY ACTIVIST IN OUR REPORTING IN ORDER TO HAVE A BIGGER IMPACT ON THE WORLD.

REALLY, THE PRESS DERIVES ALMOST ALL OF ITS POWER AND INFLUENCE FROM THE PERCEPTION THAT WE ARE OUTSIDE POLITICS, YOU KNOW.

THAT WE'RE A NEUTRAL ARBITER.

WE ARE JUST CALLING BALLS AND STRIKES, RIGHT.

ONCE WE ACTUALLY GET ONED, WE L OUR POWER.

WE LOSE OUR RESPECT FROM THE POLITICIANS AND LOSE THE RESPECT OF THE AUDIENCE.

WE HAVE TO GET BACK TO THE PLACE WHERE WE ARE SORT OF NOT IN IT ANYMORE.

AND WE ARE SEEN AS JUST PEOPLE WHO TELL YOU WHAT HAPPENED TODAY, YOU KNOW?

AND I DON'T THINK WE ARE IN THAT PLACE RIGHT NOW.

WHAT'S YOUR BEST GUESS?

WILL WE GET BACK?

I THINK IT'S TOUGH BECAUSE THE MEDIA LANDSCAPE IS SO COMPLETELY DIVIDED AND THE FINANCIAL INCENTIVES DO NOT ENCOURAGE US TO GO BACK TO THAT PLACE.

RIGHT NOW WE HAVE TWO DISTINCTLY DIFFERENT TYPES OF MEDIA.

CONSERVATIVE MEDIA AND THEN THERE IS OTHER MEDIA THAT PLAYS TO SORT OF BLUE STATE AUDIENCES.

NATURALLY, ORGANICALLY, THEY ARE GOING TO GIVE EACH OF THOSE AUDIENCES NEWS THEY WANT TO HEAR, WHICH IS GOING TO UNDERMINE OUR CREDIBILITY FURTHER.

ALL RIGHT.

MATT, THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR JOINING US TO TALK ABOUT THIS.

THANK YOU FOR HAVING ME ON.

> IN WORLD WAR II AMERICA, MANY WOMEN WERE CONSCRIPTED TO JOIN THE WAR EFFORT ON THE HOME FRONT AND WIELDED UNPRECEDENTED POWER THROUGH JOBS OUTSIDE THE HOME.

THEIR INFLUENCE WASN'T LIMITED TO THE FACTORY FLOOR.

SOME WOMEN USED NEW SOCIAL AND POLITICAL POSITIONS TO SOUND THE ALARM ABOUT THE PLIGHT OF EUROPEAN JEWS.

A FEW OF THEM EVEN PUT THEIR LIVES ON THE LINE TO ORGANIZE RESCUE.

IN HONOR OF WOMEN'S HISTORY MONTH, THE UNITED STATES HAUL COST MEMORIAL MUSEUM EXPLORED THE ROLE OF EVERYDAY WOMEN DURING THE WORLD WAR II ERA AS WELL AS THE MINDSET AND MOTIVATIONS OF A FEW EXTRAORDINARY INDIVIDUALS WHO DARED TO ACT.

JOINING US TO TALK ABOUT THAT ARE GRETCHEN SKID MORE, DIRECTOR OF EDUCATION INITIATIVES FOR THE UNITED STATES HOLOCAUST MEMORIAL MUSEUM AND DENISE KEARNAN, 'NEW YORK TIMES' BEST-SELLING AUTHOR OF THE GIRLS OF ATOMIC CITY, THE WOMEN WHO HELPED WIN WORLD WAR II.

THANK YOU FOR JOINING US.

THANK YOU.

GRETCHEN, LET ME START WITH YOU.

WHAT MADE THE ENTRY OF WOMEN INTO THE WORK FORCE DURING WORLD WAR II SO UNPRECEDENTED?

WAS IT THE NUMBER OF WOMEN WHO ENTERED THE WORK FORCE, OR WAS IT THE JOBS THEY WERE DOING?

I THINK IT'S A COMBINATION.

I THINK IT'S REALLY A REMARKABLE PERIOD WHEN WE SEE THAT WOMEN WHO WERE IN VERY TRADITIONAL ROLES GOING INTO THIS ERA WERE EXPECTED AND WILLING TO STEP UP AND DO THINGS THAT MAYBE THEY HAD NEVER TRIED BEFORE, THAT BROKE THE MOLD IN A LOT OF CASES.

SOMETIMES NOT EVEN KNOWING WHAT THEY WERE GETTING INTO.

IT ALLOWED FOR ALL OF SOCIETY TO RECOGNIZE THE VALUE IN THE WORK FORCE.

WE TALK ABOUT IN 1936, IF YOU POLLED AMERICANS, 82% OF THEM WOULD HAVE SAID THAT WOMEN SHOULD NOT WORK OUTSIDE OF THE HOME.

REALLY?

IF THEIR HUSBANDS COULD.

BY 1942, ONLY 13% SAID THAT.

SO THEY WERE VERY MUCH A WELCOME ASSET FOR THE COUNTRY DURING THIS TIME.

ABSOLUTELY.

IT WAS SUCH A TRANSFORMATIVE MOMENT REALLY IN THE HISTORY OF WOMEN IN THE WORK FORCE, WORLD WAR II WAS.

YOU TALK ABOUT THOSE OPINIONS CHANGING.

SO INCLUDING SUCH JUST A VARIETY OF JOBS --

TELL US ABOUT IT.

YOU THINK OF ROSY THE RIFF THOR, RIGHT?

THE SEAM STRESSES MAKING.

IT WAS WASPS, THE WOMEN'S AIR FORCE SERVICE PILOTS FLYING BOMBERS ACROSS COUNTRY AND DELIVERING TO MALE PILOTS.

PEOPLE OF THE MANHATTAN PROJECT, SCIENTISTS, CHEMISTS, WOMEN ENRICHING URANIUM.

AND WHEN WE TALK ABOUT WHAT THE EXPECTATIONS OF WOMEN WERE PRIOR TO THIS, TO KEEP A GOOD HOME, TO BE A GOOD WIFE, TO RAISE THE CHILDREN, THIS SORT OF ATTITUDE TOWARDS WOMEN DURING WORLD WAR II BECAME SO MUCH ABOUT NOT WHAT WE EXPECT FROM YOU, BUT WHAT WE VALUE INWHAT YOU HAVE TO OFFER.

W WE NEED YOU.

IT WASN'T JUST ECONOMIC POWER.

OBVIOUSLY, THAT LED TO OTHER POWER.

ABSOLUTELY.

WELL, AND THEY COULD EVEN TAKE LIKE A TRADITIONAL ROLE.

A LOT OF WOMEN HAD BEEN IN SOCIAL WORK.

THAT WAS A ROLE THAT WOMEN HAD.

BUT THEN THEY TRANSFORMED THAT IN WORKING IN RELIEF AGENCIES THAT WERE TARGETING ASSISTANCE FOR JEWS WHO WERE PERSECUTED IN NAZI OCCUPIED EUROPE.

YOU MENTIONS IT WAS WASPS.

350,000 WOMEN?

A LOT.

THEY BECAME -- PUT ON THE UNIFORM.

THAT'S RIGHT.

THAT'S RIGHT.

LET'S TALK ABOUT THAT POWER THAT THEY ACCUMULATED DURING WORLD WAR II.

WHAT HAPPENED TO THAT POWER WHEN THE WAR WAS OVER AND THE MEN RETURNED TO THE JOBS?

WAS IT GREATLY DISSIPATED?

WHAT DID THEY LOSE AND WHAT WERE THEY ABLE TO KEEP?

ONE OF THE THINGS WE LOOK AT IS THE RETURN OF THE VETERANS.

AND THOSE JOBS, THERE WERE 13 MILLION WHO CAME HOME EVEN AS LATE AS 1947.

8 MILLION WERE REGISTERING FOR UNEMPLOYMENT.

SO THERE WAS A NEED TO MAKE SPACE FOR THE VETERANS.

THERE WAS ALSO JUST A SENSE TO GET THINGS BACK TO NORMAL, THAT THE WOMEN WOULD, IN MOST CASES, LEAVE THOSE ROLES.

THERE WAS A POLL IN 1944.

OVER 80% OF AMERICANS SAID THAT EVEN THOUGH WOMEN HAD SERVED DURING THE WAR, THAT THOSE JOBS, THEY SHOULD BE FIRED FROM THOSE JOBS ONCE THE WAR WAS OVER.

YEAH.

AND WHAT WAS INTERESTING, KIND OF A TWIST ON THAT IN THE MANHATTAN PROJECT WHERE MY FOCUS WA WAS, IS THESE JOBS DID NOT EXIST PRIOR TO WORLD WAR II.

SO A LOT OF THE WOMEN IN THE JOBS, THE WOMEN I INTERVIEWED, THEY WERE NOT TAKING OVER A JOB FROM A MAN WHO WAS AWAY FIGHTING.

SO IT WAS ALWAYS, ALWAYS THEIR JOB.

AND THEN WHEN THE WAR WAS OVER AND MEN CAME BACK, VETERANS CAME BACK, THESE WOMEN HAD ALREADY BEEN TRAINED, HIGHLY TRAINED TO DO VERY SPECIFIC WORK, AND ASKING THEM TO STEP ASIDE WOULD JUST REQUIRE RETRAINING AN ENTIRE WORK FORCE.

WHAT I FOUND INTERESTING AS KIND OF A CONTRAST IS WITHIN SOME OF THESE AREAS OF THE MANHATTAN PROJECT WOMEN HAD THE ABILITY AND SOME OF THE ONES I TALKED TO EXERCISED THAT OPTION TO KEEP WORKING BECAUSE THEY ENJOYED HOW IT HAD ENRICHED THEIR LIVES.

IN THE INTRODUCTION I SAID SOME WOMEN USED SOCIAL AND POLITICAL POSITIONS TO FIGHT BACK AGAINST ISOLATIONISM AND TO SOUND THE ALARM ABOUT THE PLIGHT OF EUROPEAN JEWS.

TO WHAT EXTENT WAS THERE AN IGNORANCE ABOUT THE PLIGHT OF THE EUROPEAN JEWS.

SPECIFICALLY, ELEANOR ROOSEVELT'S ROLE IN EDUCATING THE COUNTRY AND HER HUSBAND ABOUT IT?

IT'S VERY INTERESTING.

I THINK A LOT OF PEOPLE HAD THE ASSUMPTION WE DIDN'T KNOW ANYTHING.

THERE WAS WIDESPREAD COVERAGE ACROSS THE MEDIA.

THE RESEARCH THAT WE HAVE DONE IS THE UNITED STATES HOLOCAUST MEMORIAL AND MUSEUM IS PART OF A EXHIBITION DEVELOPMENT HAS UNCOVERED COVERAGE ON ALL DIFFERENT LEVELS THROUGHOUT THIS PERIOD.

SO THEN THE QUESTION IS, GIVEN THAT INFORMATION, HOW DID PEOPLE RESPOND?

AND SOMEONE LIKE ELEANOR ROOSEVELT CERTAINLY WITH HER POSITION, SHE HAD A COLUMN THAT SHE PUT OUT, SHE RAISED PEOPLE'S AWARENESS EVER THE PLIGHT OF REFUGEES AND TOOK ACTION.

SHE ENDORSED LEGISLATION THAT WOULD HAVE BROUGHT REFUGEE CHILDREN CALLED THE WAGNER ROGERS BILL IN 1939.

SHE WAS A CHAIRWOMAN OF A COMMITTEE THAT WAS MEANT TO RESCUE CHILDREN FROM SOUTHERN-UP.

S EUROPE.

SHE WAS A HUMANITARIAN AND SORT OF THE VOICE ON THAT.

SHE WAS ONE OF THE WOMEN HEROINES?

YES.

WHO ARE SOME OF THE OTHERS?

EDITH ROGERS, WHO WAS A CONGRESSWOMAN WHO CO-SPONSORED THAT LEGISLATION THAT WOULD HAVE BROUGHT CHILDREN TO THE UNITED STATES OUTSIDE OF OUR RESTRICTIVE IMMIGRATION QUOTAS.

THAT DID NOT PASS.

BUT SHE WAS ONE OF THE FIRST TO SAY WE NEED TO PAY ATTENTION TO THE NAZI RACIAL POLICIES, IT'S A THREAT TO PEOPLE, PARTICULARLY AFTER KRISTALLNACHT WHERE THERE WAS SO MUCH VIOLENCE.

DENISE, WHAT IS THE LESSON TODAY, WOMEN AND MEN, FROM THE EXAMPLES THAT THESE WOMEN SET FOR US?

SO MUCH OF WHAT INSPIRED MY INVESTIGATION OF THIS TIME PERIOD AND THE ROLES THAT WOMEN PLAYED IN TIT WAS SO OFTEN WHEN WE LOOK AT THESE MOMENTS IN HISTORY WE EXAMINE THEM FROM SUCH A TOP-DOWN PERSPECTIVE.

WE FOCUS ON WHO WAS MAKING ALL THE DECISIONS, WHO HELD ALL THE CARDS, WHO KNEW EVERYTHING.

AND SO MANY OF THESE MOMENTS, THE AVERAGE EVERYDAY AMERICAN, MAN OR WOMAN, REALLY PLAYED SUCH AN IMPORTANT POINT WHETHER OR NOT THEIR NAME IS IN THE HISTORY BOOKS.

I THINK THAT WHEN WE TALK ABOUT THESE MOMENTS IN HISTORY AND HISTORY IS HAPPENING RIGHT NOW, WE NEED TO MAKE SURE TO EXAMINE THE MOMENTS FROM AS MANY DIFFERENT PERSPECTIVES AS POSSIBLE.

IN A WAY IT'S NOT REALLY ABOUT WOMEN'S HISTORY AS MUCH AS IT IS ABOUT COMPLETE HISTORY.

AND REALLY VALUING THOSE STORIES.

YOU KNOW, GETTING OUT THERE AND GETTING THOSE WORLD HISTORIES AND VALUING EVERYBODY'S CONTRIBUTION.

ALL RIGHT.

WELL, UNFORTUNATELY, OUR TIME IS UP.

I COULD GO ON FOREVER.

SUCH AN INTERESTING CONVERSATION.

THANK YOU.

THANK YOU SO MUCH.

Announcer: 'METROFOCUS' IS MADE POSSIBLE BY JAMES AND MERRYL TISH, SUE AND EDGAR WACHENHEIM III, THE SYLVIA A.

AND SIMON B. POYTA PROGRAMMING ENDOWMENT TO FIGHT ANTI-SEMITISM, BERNARD AND IRENE SCHWARTZ, ROSALIND P. WALTER, BARBARA HOPE ZUCKERBERG AND BY --

Funders

MetroFocus is made possible by James and Merryl Tisch, Sue and Edgar Wachenheim III, the Sylvia A. and Simon B. Poyta Programming Endowment to Fight Anti-Semitism, Bernard and Irene Schwartz, Rosalind P. Walter, Barbara Hope Zuckerberg, Jody and John Arnhold, the Cheryl and Philip Milstein Family, Janet Prindle Seidler, Judy and Josh Weston and the Dr. Robert C. and Tina Sohn Foundation.

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