PBS Anchor Wants Biden to Tack Left on the Border, Gets Reality Check from David Brooks

February 26th, 2024 11:41 AM

PBS NewsHour co-anchor Amna Nawaz worried out loud that Biden was leaning toward "very harsh" immigration policies -- Trump-like policies -- and that will hurt with "core groups" that got him elected in 2020.

But New York Times columnist David Brooks gently disagreed, that Biden doesn't want a "bright line" on the border, since Trump is beating him by 39 points on immigration right now. 

This was the Nawaz question/lament: 

NAWAZ: We heard Laura Barron-Lopez's reporting there on some weakening among the Biden coalition and core groups there. And we know, David, that President Biden is now weighing some very harsh immigration tactics through executive action at the U.S. Southern border, reminiscent really of some Trump-era policies. So does it make it harder for the president, as a candidate, to draw a bright line between himself and his likely general election opponent, former President Trump, when he's coming out with some of the same policies?

Nawaz had to be disappointed when Brooks broke out of that bubble, where advocates of an open border (or something like it) are uspet with Biden. Brooks gave this a polling reality check: 

BROOKS: : Yes, on this issue, Joe Biden does not want to draw a bright line. The country is with Donald Trump. If you ask who do you approve on different issues, on general competency, Trump is up by like 12 points. On who can handle the economy better, Trump is up by 25. On immigration, he's up by 39 points. And so this is an issue where you want to fudge that line.

And just on the merits, I'm as pro-immigration as I think it's possible to be, but our asylum system is meant for people seeking asylum, escaping repression. And a lot of the people coming across the border are coming across the border for a lot of the reasons my ancestors came across. They wanted economic opportunity. But that's not asylum. And so the system is somewhat broken down, and Biden is right to do something. And, politically, I do think his survival depends on it.

Nawaz turned to Washington Post columnist Jonathan Capehart to support her worry: "Do these kinds of moves, Jonathan, further alienate members of that Biden coalition that helped get him to the White House in the first place?"

So sad! Capehart agreed with Brooks on the politics: 

CAPEHART: Yes, it does further alienate. But, I mean, I have to agree with David on this, that immigration is an issue that the president has to fudge this line. But what I also think he has going for him is, he gets to say, the Republicans made me do this. "There was a bipartisan Senate immigration bill that never got a vote. I was in on the negotiations. They never gave us a vote. And so we have to do something."

And the election of Tom Suozzi in — on Long Island, gosh, was that a week-and-a-half ago now, almost two weeks ago, was a signal of how salient the immigration issue is.

So we could consider it refreshing that the PBS pundits are less in thrall to the Left than the PBS co-anchor, if only because both want Biden to eke out a win. But it shows you how the NewsHour is now in control of anchors who would make it the WokeHour.