The CBS Evening News began the New Year last night with a new hit on President Trump, this one comparing his promise to build a border wall to keep illegals out to East Germany’s Berlin Wall put up to keep its citizens from escaping communism.

“Do walls really work? Mark Phillips went to Berlin to find out,” said anchor Jericka Duncan in our Mainstream Media Scream of the week.

From the January 1, 2018 CBS Evening News:

ANCHOR JERICKA DUNCAN: President Trump has signaled he’s willing to extend protections for young immigrants brought into this country illegally, but on one condition. Last week he tweeted: “There can be no DACA without the desperately needed wall at the southern border.” But do walls really work? Mark Phillips went to Berlin to find out.

MARK PHILLIPS: If anybody knows anything about walls, it’s probably Hans-Peter Spitzner.

PHILLIPS TO SPTIZNER: So you would have approached Check Point Charlie.

SPITZNER: The first time Spitzner was at Check Point Charlie was when he and his daughter Peggy would be the last people to escape across the Berlin Wall before it fell.

SPITZNER: It was a great danger for us, and I thought a thousand things were in my head.

PHILLIPS: It’s the tourist attraction now, but from its building by the old East German regime in 1961, the wall was a death zone for almost three decades.


While around 5,000 people escaped across, through, over, or under it, at least 139 died trying. Some death estimates run to well over 1,000. But Hans-Peter was desperate.

SPITZNER: And this is the car I crossed the border.

PHILLIPS: The car was owned by American G.I. Eric Yaw (sp?), now a family friend. With Spitzner’s wife Ingrid already in the west, allowed out for an aging aunt’s birthday, and with Peggy just seven years old at the time, Hans-Peter asked dozens of G.I.s with access to East Germany to smuggle them out. Only Eric Yaw agreed to hide them in his trunk.

SPITZNER: I said to him, “you are now a member of my family.”


PHILLIPS: The Spitzners have strong views about walls, not just the Berlin example, now a living history lesson. Whether it’s here or the security barrier the Israelis have built between them and the Palestinians or going back to the Great Wall of China, they see all walls as monuments to political failure. The Berlin Wall, of course, was different than all the others. The others were designed to people out, and this one designed to keep them in. There is one thing they all have in common, though, critics will tell you that when governments build walls, it’s a sign that something else isn’t working.

PEGGY SPITZNER: It’s always to keep someone in, to keep someone out, to keep someone from doing something, so it’s always a bad thing really, and it’s always a monument of a problem.

PHILLIPS, over a video of people in 1989 using pickaxes on the Berlin Wall: A monument that with a will can always be overcome.

HAN-PETER SPITZNER: I say never again, never again. Please.

PHILLIPS: Mark Phillips, CBS News, Berlin.

Media Research Center Vice President of Research Brent Baker explains our weekly pick: “What an inane comparison. Deep into his report Phillips acknowledged the obvious, that Trump’s wall would keep people out while the Berlin Wall was ‘designed to keep them in,’ but that only proves the idiocy of the premise of the whole story. There is no rational comparison between a communist regime, which murdered its own citizens trying to escape, and a democracy trying to stem the flow of those trying to illegally enter.”

Rating: Five out of five screams.

Paul Bedard, the Washington Examiner's "Washington Secrets" columnist, can be contacted at