Guests: Rep. Kendrick Meek, David Corn, Arianna Huffington, Faiz Shakir,
KEITH OLBERMANN, HOST (voice-over): Which of these stories will you be talking about tomorrow?
Kendrick Meek versus Marco Rubio versus Charlie Crist versus reports President Clinton discussed Meek dropping out with Meek and Crist.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. CHARLIE CRIST (I), FLORIDA SENATE CANDIDATE: I had numerous phone calls with people very closed to President Clinton.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: And all of this versus reports Crist told President Clinton he would caucus with the Democrats.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. KENDRIC MEEK (D), FLORIDA SENATE CANDIDATE: My position is that Charlie Crist needs to get out of the race.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Our special guest: Florida Congressman Kendrick Meek.
Karl Rove‘s Crossroads and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce are on the air.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NARRATOR: North Dakota‘s economy is reeling, and Congressman Earl Pomeroy is making it worse.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Except North Dakota‘s economy is not reeling. Unemployment there is 3.7 percent, lowest in the nation. How the country has been convinced of a disaster that is not happening.
The Yemeni letter bombs: Some explosives found in packages handled by private shippers, like FedEx.
Palin talks presidency on “Entertainment Tonight”? And messes all over a State Department attempt to get the American hikers freed by Iran.
And now, she‘s banned all TV from all remaining campaign events. Can‘t imagine why after this answer to the question: what is your policy position on the two wars that we‘re in right now?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SHARRON ANGLE ®, NEVADA SENATE CANDIDATE: The two wars that we‘re in right now is exactly what we‘re in.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: All the news and commentary—now on COUNTDOWN.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANGLE: Those were exactly my words.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Good evening from New York. This is Friday, October 29th, four days until the 2010 midterm elections.
In the choice between idealism and pragmatism, Democrats may be feeling remorse for not having deployed more of the former much earlier in their fight to retain Congress.
But in our fifth story tonight: One pragmatic no doubt difficult choice has been framed as a potential key to keeping the Senate in Democratic hands—with reports that the former President Bill Clinton attempted to broker a deal.
Let‘s go first and directly to Congressman Kendrick Meek of Florida 17th district, the Democratic nominee for senator in that state.
Congressman, thanks for your time tonight.
MEEK: Thank you, Keith. Glad to be on the show.
OLBERMANN: For 24 hours now, these various reports have been flying in every direction, that President Clinton had discussions about dropping out of the race and endorsing Governor Crist, the independent, in that race, that there was a date chosen for an endorsement rally.
Is any part of this story true?
MEEK: It‘s not true. The president came down and performed two—had two rallies for me here in Florida, one in Orlando, one in St. Petersburg. In Orlando, we were talking about the race and the rumors that have been going on for several weeks that I was going to drop out of the race. I told him there was no truth to it.
Obviously, we know as of last night that learned the Governor Crist was not only calling the Clinton aides but also calling the White House and calling me, too. I got a call from him like at 4:57 a.m. Monday morning wanting to talk to me about getting out of the race was a nonstarter. I saw him later that day at an APAC event in Hollywood, nonstarter.
The president and I are good friends. He‘s held a number of events for my campaign. We talked about the issues. He told about his political past, never once said anything about me getting out of the race. I never once told him I was getting out of the race.
So, I‘m here. I‘m fighting on behalf of the people of the state of Florida and I‘m not going to sell out on them now.
OLBERMANN: Let me play part of what Governor Crist said last night on this newscast about whether or not those discussions had occurred and his knowledge of it. Here‘s the tape.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CRIST: Well, those discussions did occur. I can tell you that much. How would I know? Because I had numerous phone calls with people very close to President Clinton.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Are you saying, Congressman, that Governor Crist is completely mistaken, that he just made this up out of whole cloth?
MEEK: What I can tell you right now, Governor Crist wasn‘t in the room when President Clinton and I were talking. And I‘m just going to put it this way. There‘s something very wrong with Charlie Crist‘s accounts of the events that took place.
I mean, he‘s a Republican that went down and became an independent, still holding onto views that he brought with him from the Republican Party. He‘s in a three-way race right now. A part of his victory plan is me getting out of this race. That‘s a nonstarter.
We have people that have voted for me, Keith. He wasn‘t there. I‘m telling you I was there.
President Clinton released a statement even today saying that he never asked me. I never said that I was getting out. So, whatever the governor wants to promote in his campaign strategy is his own account of what took place.
But I can tell you, the people of the state of Florida has rallied around my campaign and gone on KendrickMeek.com. They contributed. They are fired up. And people are going to the polls, because this is the kind of politics that folks don‘t look forward to and hate to hear about.
But unfortunately, it‘s being promoted by the governor. He wasted not time whatsoever to not only going to your show but other shows, to talk and proud of the fact that he called the White House and he called me, that he called the Clinton aides. He was pushing this issue.
Again, he called me at 4:57 a.m. Now, when your phone rings at 4:57 a.m., either a family member is in real trouble or it‘s something really bad going on somewhere. And to try to meet with me to get me out of this race is just not a part of my campaign strategy.
I‘m working forward. I‘m looking forward to being the next United States senator, and we‘re going to work all the way to Tuesday at 7:00.
OLBERMANN: What would you make then of the statement from President Clinton‘s spokesman, Matt McKenna and he told “The New York times” President Clinton had come close to persuading you to drop out?
MEEK: Well, I‘m going to tell you this: when Matt McKenna, I don‘t know, he wasn‘t in the room. I never talked to him.
I can tell you this: President Clinton is a very good friend of mine. We talk politics all the time. Never once did he convince me or try to convince me to get out of this race. And he released a statement today saying that.
I think it‘s very, very important—and I‘m smiling because, you know, you don‘t come down and do a rally on I-4 corridor in Orlando and St. Petersburg with a goal of getting a person out of the race. So, I just ask people to look at the logic of this whole thing.
And I am looking forward to whoever is behind the curtains pulling the lever, that they will be revealed. But I will assure you this and the people of the state of Florida, that they don‘t have to count on me—well, they can worry about me. They don‘t have to worry about me getting out of this race, because I‘m not, and they can count on me because I‘ve been there.
I‘m the only pro-choice candidate. I‘m the only candidate against offshore oil drilling. And I‘m the only candidate endorsed by veterans.
OLBERMANN: With all respect to the effort that you made in this race, that latest Quinnipiac poll places you in third place at 15 percent of the vote. Obviously, polls fluctuate. They‘re wrong sometimes totally. They‘re wrong sometimes in small degrees. But that indicates a decline from the previous week.
And the argument, if there is one from Democrats who bought into this idea, is not that they prefer Crist over you, but that they prefer Crist over Rubio and they preferred anybody over Rubio, and that you could make a move that could affect that outcome even if you do not or not to win this race. If you pass on that opportunity and in January, Rubio is sworn in as the junior senator from Florida, how would you feel then?
MEEK: Keith, let me say this. Polls are polls. Today, Mason-Dixon came out and said I was at 21 percent. Charlie Crist is just six percentage points ahead of me. The only poll I believe in is one that comes in on Election Day. You‘re looking at a candidate that defeated a billionaire in the primary election. We were down by 10 points. We won by 26 points.
I am—me in and out of this race is not going to change the outcome.
We‘ve been running for two years now. Everyone presented their case. We‘re running our campaign. Now, at the last minute, they kind of come up and say, hey, you‘re the problem. Now, you need to get out of the race now.
Now, you‘re looking at the candidate—again, Democratic nominee, and I qualify by petition. People of the state of Florida signed a petition to place me on the ballot. It took us over a year to do that. There are people that have already voted and there are people that are counting on me to be their next United States senator.
Again, I am the only candidate in this race: 100 percent environmental record, 100 percent pro-choice record and 100 percent behind the effort to stop offshore oil drilling in this state and willing to get Floridians back to work. I‘m not going to—you know, there‘s not any back room deals with me, and anyone that knows me know that I have been in this place, in this position before. I was born down in the polls, and I work every day to make sure that we stretch (ph) our way to the top and Floridians understand that.
OLBERMANN: But let me finally just make sure I have it straight. The bottom line here is that you are willing to continue to bet that Senate seat that whether it‘s 27 polling points to be made up in one week or the 7 points that cite behind Mr. Crist that you can make that up in a three-way race in now four days?
MEEK: The bottom line is, is that I‘m in this race. I mean, where I am in the polls should not be an issue, Keith. I mean, you know that. I mean, for me to say, OK, now I‘m out—now, all of a sudden I‘m behind someone I don‘t believe in, Charlie Crist, please? Marco Rubio, please?
People are voting right now. We have an opportunity to win this race as long as we‘re in the race. It‘s just—it is just silly that to even think anything else, and the bottom line—and all due respect and I have a great deal of respect for you—but anyone that believes in democracy knows that you don‘t surrender the flag because someone says you should surrender. You never surrender.
We changed the Constitution in Florida, making class sizes smaller. If I would have surrendered against George W. Bush when he wanted to privatize Social Security, saying—oh, because he‘s the president, he has the majority, we‘re not going to win. We fought and we will continue to fight. And just like the people who have gone on KendrickMeek.com and supported us, Keith, they‘re going to continue to do that.
I guarantee you this and I‘ll say it right here, we‘re going to do better than a lot of people think. And I will tell you this, if Marco Rubio ran the best campaign or Charlie Crist or me, the victor will be rewarded with the people of the state of Florida, a plurality of those registered voters, they will vote for him to be the next United States senator.
To approach me and to release a story five days before an election day to say, oh, you‘re the problem—believe me, history will show that I did everything I was supposed to do, that I have an opportunity to become the next United States senator and anything else is really off the table.
And so, I think this is a testimonial to my word, testimonial to the people that believe in my candidacy and the testimonial to driving the Democratic vote and the moderate vote here in Florida out.
OLBERMANN: Congressman Kendrick Meek, the Democratic nominee for the Senate in Florida—
MEEK: Thank you.
OLBERMANN: -- great thanks and a good journey the rest of the way.
MEEK: Thank you, sir.
OLBERMANN: We‘ll return to Florida with David Corn of “Mother Jones” in just a moment.
To round up the other last-minute decisions playing out across the nation in the Ohio Senate race, the Democratic nominee has dominated much of what remains in his diminished war chest to his party‘s get-out-the-vote efforts. Lee Fisher, with no more than $300,000 left in his campaign bank accounts as of two weeks ago, has given $100,000 to the Ohio Democratic Party—this according to “The Cleveland Plain Dealer.” Mr. Fisher said he was not abandoning his campaign, that higher Democratic turnout will help him, too.
But Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown has described as spectacular and unselfish.
Meantime, another visit by President Obama to Wisconsin was eliminated, according to “The Washington Post” because the incumbent there, Senator—stalwart Russ Feingold has slipped in the polls to his Republican opponent Ron Johnson.
But the president did choose to campaign today in a conservative district in central Virginia, a district that he lost in the presidential election, though just barely, a district which in 2008 ousted a six-term Republican incumbent in favor of this man, Tom Perriello, Congressman Tom Perriello, who has vigorously defended his health care vote, rather than running from it, as many other Democrats have done in districts that are not nearly as tough.
The congressman is trailing his Republican challenger, but only narrowly.
Today, Perriello became the only House member of this campaign season to get his own presidential rally. He has not voted strictly with the president‘s agenda. He voted against financial regulatory reform, but the president has singled him out, along with some other Democrats, from largely conservative districts, for making tough votes and for sticking by those votes.
Let‘s turn as promised to the Washington bureau chief of “Mother Jones” magazine, columnist for PoliticsDaily.com, David Corn.
David, good evening.
DAVID CORN, MOTHER JONES: Good evening.
OLBERMANN: We‘ll get to Congressman Meek in Florida for a minute. But, first, Mr. Perriello in this district. He only won by 727 votes. He has ridden his health care reform like it was secretariat. Not the same story from many other Democrats.
What‘s wrong with this picture? What‘s right with that picture?
CORN: Well, what‘s wrong with the picture is that the president has had some very significant accomplishments. I think health—parts of health care reform, the stimulus bill, Wall Street regulation, and yet, he‘s allowed the party of rodeo clowns to define the terms of all these debates time and time again.
Now, maybe that‘s not fair to rodeo clowns, but, you know, it‘s put like Tom Perriello and other Democrats across the country on the defensive. You know, very few are embracing these measures that they believed in, and Tom, who is a populist Democrat and who‘s been critical of the administration‘s economic policies, you know, has stood by his guns and, you know, that may have made the race close in Virginia.
OLBERMANN: The narrative that obviously will be pushed by the right should the Republicans indeed take the House next week is that Democrats would have lost because they were too liberal. Would even a narrow loss by somebody like Perriello in his environment contradict that, blow that meme right out of the water?
CORN: You know, there are going to be 435 races that we can pick and choose from on the House side to try to come up with a common theme, that Obama has lowered taxes, he‘s cracked down on Wall Street. These are popular issues. You know, stimulus saved or created 2 million to 3 million jobs.
I mean, those are the issues that, you know, that he needs to fight on and that we‘re going to continue to fight about after the elections in determining the political story of this country.
OLBERMANN: All right, to the Clinton/Meek/Crist story. Does it look at this point as if President Clinton or his aides were trying to put public pressure on Congressman Meek? Does it look like an invention of Mr. Crist? What is it? How does this read to you?
CORN: Well, it certainly looks like Charlie Crist has gotten desperate in these final days, and it‘s not good news for Kendrick Meek who‘s trying to have this come from behind victory that this is what he‘s on the show talking about it. So, it‘s—you know, the only person that benefits out of this, Marco Rubio.
OLBERMANN: What—we take, obviously, you take Mr. Meek on his word on all of this because he, as he said, was in the room with President Clinton—
CORN: Yes, I wasn‘t in the room. I don‘t know, you know? And, at this stage, I don‘t think it made much of a difference that they drove him out of the race. I‘m not sure that‘s enough for Crist to beat Rubio.
OLBERMANN: Four days until these midterms—obviously, not just Florida. Has the White House missed any opportunities, any big ones in terms of strategy or message, any deal breakers, decision makers over the top putters as the president makes these final stops? Could he done more for Russ Feingold?
CORN: I don‘t know how much time do you have tonight.
CORN: You know, the poet Hans Magnus Enzensberger has a line I like a lot, which is, you know, any cretin can throw a bomb. It‘s a thousands times more difficult to disarm one.
And I think the story of the Obama presidency to date has been, he‘s disarming one bomb after another and he‘s up against a bunch of people who are just bomb throwers. And he hasn‘t made that clear enough as he‘s had these legislative accomplishments. And, you know, the noise of the bombs, you know, has drowned out the message that the Democrats needed to get across for this election. And that‘s just been a missed opportunity, I think, from the very beginning of the presidency. And so, at this late date, it‘s hard to change that.
OLBERMANN: David Corn, the Washington editor of “Mother Jones”—have a good weekend, as much as that is possible. Thanks a lot.
CORN: Yes. It‘s a tough weekend for some of us.
OLBERMANN: Thanks, David.
CORN: Thank you.
OLBERMANN: The letter bombs from Yemen—attack, dry run or what?
And when FOX is just not enough, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce setting up fake news sites and paying commentators to attack its critics on TV. The spirit of Armstrong Williams lives.
OLBERMANN: U.S. counterterrorism officials say a tip from Saudi Arabia was key in thwarting what at this hour looks like multiple attempts to send letter bombs to U.S. addresses. The packages found in Dubai and in England within the past 36 hours did contain at least some explosive material.
President Obama this afternoon described it as a credible terrorist threat.
The United States packages originated in Yemen. One was shipped by UPS and other through FedEx. They were addressed to two synagogues in the Chicago area. Officials say the explosive device onboard a UPS plane in England was constructed inside a printer toner cartridge.
The possibility that other packages might be in route to the United States prompted a search of multiple planes and trucks in Philadelphia, in New York, in Newark. No other explosives were found.
U.S. counterterrorism officials think the attempt may be connected to Yemen‘s al Qaeda affiliate. The Nigerian man who failed to set off a bomb in his underwear aboard a Detroit-bound jet last Christmas is believed to have trained for that attack in Yemen.
When economic news hurts prospects of beating Democrats in the midterms, what do conservatives do? Spend millions to convince people the good news is really a towering inferno of disastrous, cataclysmic economic collapse. That‘s what—next.
OLBERMANN: No wonder Democrats are in trouble this year. Things are bad. Everybody knows things are bad. Everybody is out of work and scared of losing their jobs, the dollars buys a nickels worth, banks are going bust, Washington flushed billions down the drain with Wall Street banks, the economy keeps shrinking, taxes keep rise. Everybody knows this.
Only problem is—in our fourth story tonight: when it comes to the last three things, everybody is wrong.
A new “Bloomberg” poll showing the number of likely voters who do not know the correct state of our economy is nearly twice of that of those who do. Sixty-one percent say the economy is shrinking, only 33 percent it‘s growing. In fact, we learn today, the economy grew at annual rate of 2 percent this quarter, making it more than a year of consecutive sustained growth right now.
Sixty percent say most of the taxpayer money used by TARP to bail out Wall Street banks will never be recovered. Only 33 percent say it will be recovered. Most of it has already been recovered.
The Treasury reporting just this month that it expects to make a profit, a profit of $16 billion on the money it used to prop up the banks and only 19 percent of likely voters say federal income taxes have gone down, 52 percent say they have gone up. More than half are unaware that 95 percent of the nation pocketed up to $400 extra for individuals, and $800 for married couples, and tax breaks for college and lower income families and for renewable energy purchases.
To be fair, not all the government bailouts will make money, but TARP was the big one. And it is astonishing that most Americans are ignorant of its success?
Why are they so pessimistic about the economy? For one thing, rich people keep using their politics and front groups to hit Democrats by dumping on the economy with secret campaigns like one we will tell you about later in the news hour. And also with advertisements that are factual, or as an example you‘re about to see, not factual at all.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NARRATOR: North Dakota‘s economy is reeling, and Congressman Earl Pomeroy is making it worse. While he should be helping us, he‘s supporting Nancy Pelosi and her failed agenda, voting for billions in new debt and reckless spending, including Pelosi‘s $800 billion stimulus boondoggle, filled with sweetheart deals and handouts to special interest.
Reckless spending, massive debt, helping Pelosi, not us. Earl Pomeroy
wrong for North Dakota.
Crossroads GPS is responsible for the content of this advertising.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Except North Dakota is in the middle of a record job boom.
Unemployment is 3.7 percent, the lowest in the nation.
Elsewhere, however, Americans are troubled by a national unemployment rate that is stuck between 9.5 percent and 10 percent with little hope for immediate relief on the horizon. That and the fact that even before the recession began, the economy was in trouble, with income disparities soaring, which is why today‘s news that profits in corporate America have soared over the past 18 months, faster than under Bush or Clinton or Bush or Reagan, and so on back for decades that would do little to inspire confidence because less of corporate America profits make their way to Main Street than ever before.
With us tonight on this topic, Arianna Huffington, author of “Third World America: How Our Politicians are Abandoning the Middle Class and Betraying the American Dream,” cofounder and editor-in-chief, of course, of HuffingtonPost.com.
Good to see you, Arianna.
ARIANNA HUFFINGTON, HUFFINGTONPOST.COM: Good to see you, Keith.
OLBERMANN: TARP, we can excuse the pessimism and the growing economy. Very few people will see that in their hometown, you know, down on Main Street. But taxes? How do people—most people not know that their taxes went down?
HUFFINGTON: Well, there are two problems with that. One was that the almost $300 billion of tax cuts were actually built into the stimulus, so when people talk about over $700 billion in stimulus money, almost $300 billion was tax cuts. But the way it was presented, and which was done that way because the president, the administration, congressional Democrats thought that was the way to get Republicans on board for the rest of the stimulus—
HUFFINGTON: -- well, as we know, that didn‘t exactly pan out. And in the process, they missed the opportunity to present the tax cuts by themselves.
OLBERMANN: Did the president earn part of the blame for the disconnect in terms of the message, because he didn‘t push through a larger stimulus or the structural changes that would have been seen like blooming flowers on Main Street?
HUFFINGTON: He did. And I think what is worse for me, Keith, is the fact that he still doesn‘t seem to realize that that‘s what happened. He was on Jon Stewart a couple of nights ago, and he actually said and it wasn‘t a pun—as he claimed it was, a heck of a job to refer to Larry Summers.
HUFFINGTON: And Larry Summers, of course, was responsible for painting a very different picture of the economy than the one that‘s unfolding right now. He really did believe that once Wall Street was saved, everything would unfold naturally and we‘d now have about 8 percent unemployment if not less and kept going on shows talking about they will be growth in the spring like a chance (INAUDIBLE) and there wasn‘t.
And my biggest concern is that the president and the administration still don‘t get that. Because, you know, after all, being president there‘s no—there‘s no job that prepares you for it entirely. So, as long as you learn on the job, it‘s fine. But if you don‘t learn on the job, it‘s a problem.
OLBERMANN: Back to the public and this disengagement, willful disengagement almost. It certainly seems that way from actual facts. It seem to me sometimes we‘re six months away from people consulting magic crazy 8 balls and voodoo priestesses and Ouija boards. Where is this disengagement from reality on that path that you described, towards a third world United States of America?
HUFFINGTON: But, unfortunately, historically, disengagement from reality has always been part and parcel of times of deep economic anxiety and dislocation, whether it was the 1880s when we were deporting Chinese workers, the 1930s when we were deporting American citizens of Hispanic descent, people believe things that have absolutely no base in reality. And we‘ve seen that in this election in an astounding degree.
So, the key here is recognizing that force and seeing what kind of contravening force other than rational argument can we counter it with. And I think the contravening force is the amazing amount of creativity and compassion unleashed around the country in communities, and the use of social media to scale it up.
OLBERMANN: Well, perhaps we can get that done by Tuesday and perhaps not.
Arianna Huffington, cofounder and editor-in-chief of “Huffington Post”
you‘re getting on a bus now?
HUFFINGTON: Tomorrow morning, Citi Field, at 5:30 in the morning, 6:00 a.m. departure. You‘re coming, Keith, right?
OLBERMANN: Where are you going?
HUFFINGTON: Going to D.C. for the Jon Stewart “Restoring Sanity” rally. And the reason we need to restore sanity is precisely because of what you said. Because the point of the rally that we‘re participating is that we may disagree each other but let‘s not demonize each other, as one of the signs (ph) said, if you‘re going to put a Hitler mustache on somebody, make sure it‘s Hitler.
OLBERMANN: That‘s excellent. Have a good trip.
The second of this story: The Chamber of Commerce has created its own fake news Web site and sent their own fake commentators out there to go on TV and slam those they‘re paid by the Chamber to slam. That story—ahead.
OLBERMANN: The US Chamber of Commerce secretly paying commentators and writers to spread the Chamber‘s opinions in the media, next. First the sanity breaks. I think sanity lost.
Here‘s the tweet of the day from DC Debbie. “I wanted to be a tea partier for Halloween, but I had a hard time walking around with a body attached to my foot. #Stomp.” Let‘s play Oddball.
We begin in Brazil with what else but soccer—football. Two players fight over a long ball, not really paying attention to their surroundings. Probably the stadium was built to mimic the Roman Coliseum and they decided a hidden star case would work well on the field.
And boom goes the dynamite. The player emerged unharmed and play return to normal. Wee! That is until a tiger jumped out of its hidden gage and attacked another player. Are you not entertained?
And then to the Internets, where this man has one question. You feeling lucky, pumpkin? Apparently he thought that using a knife to carve a pumpkin was too dangerous this time of year, so why not a 40 caliber pistol? All you need to do is put the pumpkin on the tree stump and fire away. The jack-o-lantern ending up looking surprising good, but I‘m not going to this guy‘s house when he carves the thanksgiving turkey.
Time marches on. Did you know that a fairly prominent TV commentator, a guest seen frequently defending the US Chamber of Commerce is in fact paid by the US Chamber of Commerce?
We didn‘t. Next.
OLBERMANN: We told you know for weeks following a devastating report by the blog Think Progress about the US Chamber of Commerce. How it‘s funding ads in at least 31 states overwhelmingly for Republicans without disclosing who‘s paying for those ads or even offering any evidence that the money is not coming from its overseas members.
We told you in our fourth story tonight about the sweeping ignorance among voters about the state of the economy in this county. Voters are expected to pull the lever mostly for those US Chamber candidates rather next Tuesday.
Ignorant or not of the fact that the Chamber advocates for policies that benefits Americas richest at the expense of Americas everyone else‘s. And in our third story tonight two new investigations shedding light on just how the US Chamber pushes its narratives while keeping its own involvement like the identities of its donor‘s secret.
Think Progress now shining a light on public relations executive John Feehery. Feehery having appeared on air and in print defending the US Chamber after Think Progress revealed some of the money coming in from foreign companies.
What has not appeared alongside with Feehery is the fact that his company, the Feehery Group, counts among its clients the US Chamber of Commerce. And the Nieman Foundation‘s journalism lab has just uncovered a far more systematic attempt to push the US Chambers pro rich agenda without revealing its involvement.
As we reported one of the US Chambers pet causes is tort reform. Trying to make it tougher for you to seek justice in case some fat cat company‘s corner cutting actually does you harm. Now that Nieman J lab found out that the US Chamber owns a newspaper chain.
Law journals actually. Law journals that happen to be located in Louisiana, West Virginia, Beaumont, Texas and East St. Louis, Illinois. All of them legal jurisdictions where big business has complained about rulings going against them.
What does the US Chambers secret Illinois paper have to say about the area? A welcome mat to class action filings and lottery-like awards have helped create a judicial hellhole reputation. No mention on any of the newspapers websites of the US Chambers reputation.
With us again on this story Faiz Shakir, Editor & Chief of Think Progress. Good evening Faiz.
FAIZ SHAKIR, EDITOR & CHIEF OF THINK PROGRESS: Hi, Keith, thanks for having me back.
OLBERMANN: Sure, our pleasure. This is all perfectly legal so what‘s the problem with it?
SHAKIR: Well, the problem is disclosure, disclosure, disclosure. It‘s been our issue all along Keith and when we‘ve talked about the fact that there were all these foreign companies who are giving money to the Chamber and the fact that they were running these ads.
Seventy-five million dollars‘ worth from companies that we don‘t know and we don‘t know what their agenda is. That‘s the issue. People deserve to know who‘s funding them, who‘s running these operations and what their agenda is and that‘s of course the case here.
You know I‘m hard to see that there‘s actually a group of institutional investors who‘s given money to a lot of the Chambers members and they came out today. And said that we want disclosure from the Chamber. So they‘re starting to feel pressure in their own ranks.
And now you see some local Chambers in New Hampshire, Connecticut a few other places are breaking off. So I think there‘s some increasing pressure now on the Chamber to have to disclose their change as policies.
OLBERMANN: These papers, these legal journals that you mention do they maintain that they have editorial independence?
SHAKIR: Well, they maintained that. I mean, I think that they‘re presenting conservative news in a - with a patina of fair and balanced news. And I think we‘ve seen something like that before. It doesn‘t quite workout as they portray it.
I think, you know the issue with a lot of this is that they have a perspective and they are hiding from that perspective. They don‘t want people to know. It‘s almost is as if they‘re afraid of the agenda that they support.
If they are comfortable with the fact that they are supporting a perspective then they should just come right out and say we the Chamber are funding these newspapers, funding these outlets and we have a perspective and we want you to know it.
But they‘re afraid to present the fact that they are behind these things.
OLBERMANN: So paint the big picture for us. Its buy all the advertising time you can and now its buy the non-advertising time to the degree that you can. You don‘t have to buy Fox they were already bought 14 years ago now.
What‘s the full universe of ways? Is there more to it in the way the US is the US Chambers pushing this pro rich agenda?
SHAKIR: Well, once you open the corporate flood gates of money they come in and they burst in and they‘re trying to do anything possible to try to help their own agenda. So one of my researchers who‘s led on this project, Lee Feng (ph), noted to me that if you try to Google US Chamber and foreign, the first thing that‘ll pop up is a Chamber website that distorts the facts about the case of its foreign funding. I mean, that‘s the kind of stuff that if you got millions and millions of dollars you‘re going to do.
You‘re going to give money to journalist to try to buy them up. You‘re going to give money to politicians to try to buy them off. And I think ultimately the problem is that we have to have some kind of regulation.
I don‘t know if you saw the story today about McDonalds now sending in Ohio, sending a memo to its employees telling them that they have to vote for Republicans. That‘s the kind of thing that we‘re going to see a lot more of if corporations can get away with the kind of behavior that they‘re exhibiting.
They‘re going to tell all of the people in this nation that our corporate interest are greater than your personal interest.
OLBERMANN: So you buy the journalist then you buy the independent organizations that would investigate any corrupt journalist and you buy the advertising time. And you then use the advertising time against those people who are trying to convince you not to use the advertising time the corporate investors that you referred to earlier.
Last point. Democratic administrations traditionally have been better for business. Simple dollars and cents math. How much of the US Chambers agenda is not really about business? How much is just helping the rich people who control the businesses squeeze out as much money out of those businesses and the economy as they can as fast as they can?
SHAKIR: That‘s exactly it Keith. I think, you know corporations don‘t see right and wrong. They see - they don‘t care about Big Governance. They don‘t care about transparency; they don‘t even care about American jobs. They care about their bottom line.
They care about whether they‘re making money and their profits are increasing. That might be good for them but that‘s not good for us. Greed is not good for us. And I think there‘s a challenge going on. This next Congress we‘re going to have a fight over Bush tax cuts.
Whether the rich deserve more tax cuts? Whether financial firms need to be more regulated? We‘re going to have those fights and the Chamber is trying to tilt the playing field so abnormally towards their perspective that it‘s going to drown out the American voices.
And the challenge for us is whether were going to step up and allow these corporations to take over. Democracy itself is at stake.
OLBERMANN: JP Morgan wishes he were alive today. Faiz Shakir the Editor & Chief of Think Progress great thanks have a good weekend.
SHAKIR: Thank you Keith.
OLBERMANN: When you can‘t read both parts of two part tweet that‘s pretty said. Sarah Palin interferes in a diplomatic effort to free Americans detained in Iran. Because it included birthday wishes to Ahmadinejad and she didn‘t approve of them.
And after this she says no more television until after the election. What‘s this? Very possibly the most non-sensible answer to a policy question in this election cycle. And if you‘re waiting for the conclusion of James Huber‘s epic the “Catbird Seat” with the press of news on this pre-election Friday.
It available to you online right now at our website countdown.msnbc.com.
OLBERMANN: The two wars that were in right now is exactly what were in. Foreign policy statement from the would be Republican Senator from Nevada. And when the State Department issues a subtle diplomatic tweet wishing Iran‘s President a happy birthday and suggesting he celebrate by releasing the detained American hikers.
You know what she does yes she tweets we shouldn‘t have wished him a happy birthday. There are corpses smarter than she is.
OLBERMANN: Sarah Palin undercuts the State Department‘s overture to get American freed in Iran and disses Joe Miller. That‘s next, but first going to have to (inaudible) forks and torches, time for tonight‘s worst persons in the world (inaudible) in ABC news.
Media Matters confirms that Andrew Breitbart, the comically dishonest propagandist, has been hired to provide analysis for ABC during Tuesday‘s election coverage, appearing in an ABC town hall meeting form Arizona.
Analyze the elections for ABC News. The guy who couldn‘t analyze a speech from a low-level employee of the Department of Agriculture? The question was immediately raised in our COUNTDOWN office, what could a Breitbart possibly do during an actual news organizations coverage of the elections? The answer—fart.
The silver, Jesse Kelly, the Tea Party and Republican candidate for the Arizona Eighth Congressional District. He was a guest on a radical right wing radio show and was asked by the host Mark Levin about Democratic dirty tricks. And Kelly just sort of took off.
JESSE KELLY, CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE (R-AZ): People have video of them busing people across from our southern border - where our border district, they literally bus people across from Mexico to have them vote at the polls on Election Day, give them a meal and then bus them back. It‘s been done in the past, so we‘re really fighting against that down here.
OLBERMANN: Mr. Kelly is seeing Mexicans being bused across the Arizona desert—he must be high on peyote. Or the supposed video tape for that matter—as Mr. Kelly‘s campaign spokesman himself pointed out, he couldn‘t have seen them busing Mexicans to vote illegally in Arizona this year because the election isn‘t until next Tuesday.
As to it happening in the past, a Nexus search turned up no arrests, no investigations, no reports of Mexicans being brought in by bus to vote in previous Arizona elections. Would-be Congressman Kelly apparently just made it up.
Or maybe some of those headless torsos that Arizona‘s Governor Jan Brewer claims were found in the Arizona desert told him about them.
But our winner, Sharron Angle, a new high in low. A Los Vegas TV station has repeatedly been rebuffed trying to get a straight answer out of her on her national security and military policies.
They finally tracked her down at McCarron Airport in Vegas.
NATHAN BACH, REPORTER: We have many Air Force people (inaudible) Air Force base. We have two wars that were prosecuting right now. You haven‘t talked about how you would prosecute those wars. No answer at all? You are literally staying silent about the two wars that were in right now?
SHARRON ANGLE, U.S. SENATE CANDIDATE: You know, the two wars that we‘re in right now is exactly what we‘re in.
OLBERMANN: What? You have me there. Angle campaign had two responses. It directed that reporter Nathan Bach to its website for a policy statement on the wars, which turns out to be one sentence long. And then it banned all TV crews from its remaining campaign events.
Sharron freedom, except freedom of the press, Angle. Today‘s worst person in the world.
OLBERMANN: Subtlety has never been her strong point. Nuance, context talk to the hand. But tweets? 140 characters each. Even two of them should not have exhausted her attention span. Yet our number one story tonight as the State Department made another attempt to free two American hikers detained in Iran.
Sarah Palin interpreted that as the US sending Iran President Ahmadinejad a kind of candy graham. It started with two tweets from State‘s Department spokesman PJ Crowley. Happy Birthday President Ahmadinejad celebrates by sending Josh Fatal and Shane Bauer home what gift that would be.
Your 54th year was full of lost opportunities hoping your 55th year you will open Iran to a different relationship with the world. The sarcastic nature lost on Mrs. Palin.
She soon followed with two tweets of her own. Happy B-day Ahmadinejad which sent by US Government. Mind boggling foreign policy kowtow & cuddle enemies, snub allies Obama Doctrine is nonsense. Americans awaken to bizarre National Security thinking of Obama admin. Ahmadinejad B-day greeting after call for Israel destruction speaks volumes.
Palin stepping out of the foreign policy arena, her area of expertise, to appear last night at a rally in Anchorage her Republican Senate nominee Joe Miller.
The latest poll put Miller in third behind Senator Lisa Murkowski and Democrat Scott McAdams. Perhaps prompting Mr. Miller to tell the crowd that the only left in his arsenal is “prayer”. Prayer and several pretaped video messages from Inhofe, DeMint, Huckabee, Bachmann.
As for Palin, her participation at the event seems less about her support for Mr. Miller and more about her personal grudge against Senator Murkowski. The New York Times reported that after she spoke, Palin stood away from the stage with her husband and others for a few minutes, chatting, taking pictures and scrolling through her phone as Mr. Miller spoke.
He never thanked her publicly and she appeared to leave before he was finished. This following comments made to London‘s telegraph by Palin‘s Fox News colleague Karl Rove.
Mr. Rove questioning Palin‘s ability to be president. Like pointing to her involvement in her own reality show. I am not certain how that fits in the American calculus of that helps me see you in the Oval Office.
There are high standards that the American people have for the presidency, and they require a certain level of gravitas. Half-term governor countered that with an appearance on Entertainment Tonight. Here is sister Sarah telling Mary Hart about her presidential ambitions.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PALIN: It‘s going to entail a discussion with my family, a real—a real close look at the lay of the land, and to consider whether there are those with that common sense, conservative, pro-Constitution passion, whether there are already candidates out there who can do the job or whether there‘s nobody willing to do it and to make the tough choices and not care what the critics are going to say about you, just going forward according to what I believe the priorities should be. If there‘s nobody else to do it, then of course I would believe that we should do this.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Joining me now, Democratic strategist Chris Kofinis. Good evening, Chris.
CHRIS KOFINIS, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Good evening, Keith.
OLBERMANN: The most relevant part of all this news here is that Joe Miller event, or did she not see it as a Joe Miller event? Was it only a kind of a get-even-with-the-Murkowskis event?
KOFINIS: I think this has always been about Murkowski. This battle that Palin has had with the Murkowski family dates back years, and clearly now this is the first appearance she has had with Miller, you know, spends 15 minutes and then basically runs off the stage. What she sees is this campaign imploding, and the consequences of that for her brand, not only in Alaska but politically across the country, I think she realizes it‘s pretty damaging. But at the end of the day, I think Miller had a right, given where the polling is and how quickly he‘s collapsed, prayer may be the only thing that saves him.
OLBERMANN: This presidency stuff boils down to if there‘s no one else, she‘ll step in, if, you know the 200 million or so more qualified Americans all decide they don‘t want to run. Is Entertainment Tonight her idea of branching out beyond Fox News to the mainstream news media?
KOFINIS: I think apparently so. I‘m not sure if this is an insult or a threat to the Republican Party. Either way, it‘s not a good thing. I think the Republican Party has now officially entered the fifth circle of hell, because, you know, Palin‘s wrath is going to come regardless of whether she runs or not. I mean, if she runs, she‘s going to stand on the sidelines and drive the Republican Party to the far extreme right. If she doesn‘t run, she‘s going to stand on the sidelines and drive the Republican Party to the extreme right. It is a lose-lose situation. And I think you have already seen the consequences of this play out not only in the Senate race in Alaska but the Senate race in Nevada, in Colorado, in Delaware, where the Republicans had—I dare say this—more mainstream candidates that probably would have been much more competitive. But if they lose, they will lose because these Palin candidates are just completely out of touch with where voters are.
OLBERMANN: The Ahmadinejad tweets—I mean, we usually only know of her policy positions through Twitter and FaceBook, but I mean, honestly, it was half-overture, half-satire in there, and it was double-length tweet. It was 280 characters. Was that too subtle for her in some way?
KOFINIS: Apparently so. But we got a glimpse, Keith, of what it will look like if she becomes president. She will bomb another country via Twitter. Bombs are on the way. Watch out.
This I think again is stunning, given the fact that her entire post-vice president candidate career has been basically twittering about policies or political issues. And you need more substance than that if you are going to run for president.
But again, I think it‘s her strategy to basically go outside the mainstream media, go outside and not have to have any kind of filter or debate or discussion. It just begs the question, what does she think is going to happen if she runs for president? You can‘t Twitter on the stage during those debates. You are going to actually have to answer questions and actually do press interviews.
OLBERMANN: And the sort of preview of that, Mr. Rove‘s comments, is that a declaration of war by Mr. Rove, do you think?
KOFINIS: Absolutely. I think Karl Rove I think realizes what a disaster Sarah Palin has been for the Republican Party. Regardless of what happens on election night on Tuesday, Karl Rove thinks back and thinks, what we could have won had Sarah Palin not gotten involved. And now he looks forward to 2012, and he says, can you imagine the disaster in the Republican primary field if she runs?
And so when he looks in terms of which horse is he going to back, I can tell you it‘s very simple. He‘s going to back any horse that‘s not Sarah Palin. He does not want Sarah Palin to run. I think she‘s going to run because she cannot help it. She loves the spotlight, and that I think is going to be damaging for the Republican Party. And from the Democrats‘ perspective, that is probably a godsend.
OLBERMANN: It could run a horse. It would be a better choice. The Democratic strategist Chris Kofinis, thanks for your time tonight. Have a good weekend.
KOFINIS: Thanks, Keith. You too.
OLBERMANN: That‘s October 29th. I‘m Keith Olbermann. We‘ll see you on Sunday night on a special edition of COUNTDOWN (inaudible) presentation of my special comment on the Tea Party. Until then, good night and good luck.
And now to discuss the Democrats‘ get-out-the-vote efforts in the last four days of these midterms, sitting in for Rachel Maddow—obviously, you have a television, you can see him—here is Chris Hayes. Good evening, Chris.
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