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'The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell' for Friday, July 8, 2011

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Guest Host: Thomas Roberts

Guests: Andrea Mitchell, Sen. Bernie Sanders, Van Jones, Dana Milbank, Miles O‘Brien,

Nichelle Nichols, George Takei, John Nichols

           

THOMAS ROBERTS, GUEST HOST:  Hi, everybody.  I‘m Thomas Roberts, in for Lawrence tonight.

Astronauts aboard the space shuttle Atlantis are 200 miles above the earth now.  But they are light years away from the bickering over how to create jobs.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

(MUSIC)

ANNOUNCER:  Clocks are hold at T-31 seconds due to a failure.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  And we have had a failure.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  Our economy as a whole just isn‘t producing nearly enough jobs.

ROBERTS (voice-over):  Failure to launch.  The president links jobs to the do-nothing Congress.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  The debate over this feels other worldly right now.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Cutting back in government spending, it costs jobs.

OBAMA:  Let me give you some examples—in rebuilding our roads, our bridges, our railways, and our infrastructure.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Republicans are in control of Congress right now, what have they done?  Not a single thing.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  We need to stop with the bickering.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  They all seem delighted.

REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE:  There is no agreement in private or in public.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  The White House has turned the audacity of hope.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is a finance guy who created—what was it, 40 jobs in his company?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Hey, Mitt Romney knows all about unemployment rate.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  As the unemployment rate goes up, your chances of winning office always go up?

REP. MICHELE BACHMANN (R-MN), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  Well, that could be.  Again, I hope so.

ROBERTS:  Senator Bernie Sanders is here.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I), VERMONT:  The American people expect the president of the United States to keep his word.

ROBERTS:  Michele Bachmann‘s anti-gay marriage pledge is also out of this world.

BACHMANN:  I may not always get my words right, but I know my heart is right.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  There are people on other planets who look like us and talk to us.

ROBERTS:  Rupert Murdoch is losing the “World.”  Will he loss the Sky, too?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  You walk this path all the time?

RUPERT MURDOCH, NEWS CORP:  I‘m not running from you guys?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  It seems at times the paper was unable to control its own worst desires.

DAVID CAMERON, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER:  The press, politicians, and leaders of all parties, yes, including me.

ROBERTS:  And where will the bold go next?

ANNOUNCER:  Two, one, zero, and liftoff.

ANDREA MITCHELL, NBC NEWS:  It‘s a picture-perfect launch for the space shuttle Atlantis.

TAMRON HALL, MSNBC ANCHOR:  We have no new rocket ready to launch, no specific destination selected.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Without the shuttle, we have no way of getting into space ourselves.

JOHN F. KENNEDY, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT:  The exploration of space will go ahead, whether we join in it or not.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ROBERTS:  Hi, everybody.  Good evening from New York.

The Republicans continue to play chicken with raising the debt ceiling despite the fact the Republican speaker of the House called his own bluff today.  Speaker John Boehner admitted publicly that a failure to raise the debt limit would have serious consequences on our economy.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE:  We‘re up against the debt limit, and while some think that, you know, we can go past August 2nd, I frankly think it puts us in an awful lot of jeopardy, and puts our economy in jeopardy, risking even more jobs.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERTS:  Democrats, economists, and now the principal negotiator for Republicans are in agreement, that the debt ceiling has to be raised to avoid sending the economy into a tailspin.

So, that should be the end of it, right?  No more wielding the debt limit vote as a weapon in the deficit reduction negotiations, but, of course, it‘s not.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BOEHNER:  There is no agreement in private or in public.  And as the president said yesterday, we are this far apart.  And it‘s not like there‘s some imminent deal about to happen.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERTS:  At the White House today, President Obama was grappling with the horrendous jobs report, which showed just 18,000 jobs added in June, and the unemployment rate picking up to 9.2 percent.

Speaking in the Rose Garden this morning, the president called out the Republicans for creating economic uncertainty by delaying the debt ceiling.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA:  The sooner we get this done, the sooner that the markets know that the debt limit ceiling will have been raised, and that we have a serious plan to deal with our debt and deficit, the sooner that we give our businesses the certainty that they will need in order to make additional investments to grow and hire, and will provide more confidence to the rest of the world as well so that they are committed to investing in America.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERTS:  But Democrats in Congress are looking for confidence in the White House.  The cuts to entitlement benefits will be off the table and revenue will stay on it—despite claims from Republicans that they won‘t support any package that includes any tax revenue increases.

Here is Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi after meeting with the president and vice president at the White House today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), MINORITY LEADER:  The president scheduled a meeting on Sunday late in the day, to see where we are on something that would have the elements of a—in their words—grand bargain.  I wish we could be thinking about a grand vision, but however you want to call it, how we go forward to not harm the economy, to reduce the deficit, to create jobs.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERTS:  Joining me now is Senator Bernie Sanders, an independent from Vermont.

Sir, it‘s always nice to see you.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I), VERMONT:  Good to be with you.

ROBERTS:  Leader Pelosi indicating that House Democrats—they are not happy and they are ready to hold the line on the no benefits cut issue.  What‘s the feeling among Democrats in the Senate?  What is the vibe that you are getting, especially after today?

SANDERS:  Well, I think what I‘m hearing in the Senate, what the polls are telling me, what I‘m hearing all over the state of Vermont is that people cannot understand that at a time when the middle class is shrinking and poverty is increasing and when the wealthiest people in the country are doing phenomenally well, and corporations are making billions in profits, and in some cases paying nothing in taxes, people have a hard time understanding the Republican position which says, no, the wealthy and large corporations don‘t have to pay anything, we don‘t have to end any of the loopholes, and people have a hard time understanding that.

So, from my perspective, I‘m going to fight as hard as I can for the concept of shared sacrifice and not see massive cuts in Medicare, Medicaid, education, nutrition programs, the ability of working families to send their kids to college, while the wealthiest people in the country—they don‘t have to participate in deficit reduction at all.

ROBERTS:  Senator, on the conference with reporters today, you said if the proposal from the White House is a, quote, “piece of crap,” the Democrat Caucus won‘t vote on it.  First of all, is my quote right, you called that piece of crap?  And what are the items that -- 

(CROSSTALK)

SANDERS:  Well, I don‘t want to speak for anybody else.

Look, if we end up with a proposal, which allows the wealthiest people in this country and the largest corporations, and I got to tell you, tax rates for the very rich have gone down.  Corporations can avoid huge amounts of taxes.

If a proposal comes forward to the United States Senate based on balancing the budget on the most vulnerable people, on the elderly, the sick, and children, throwing kids off of health insurance, denying working families the ability to send their kids to college—will I vote for that proposal?  No, I won‘t.

ROBERTS:  Given that some deficit reduction is inevitable, and you do say and you‘re very adamant about shared sacrifice across the board, what‘s a deal that you could live with, one that you could vote for?

SANDERS:  But I think we should be doing—and I‘ve been working very hard as a member of the budget committee, to say at least 50 percent of deficit reduction has to come from the wealthiest people in this country and large corporations.  I think we also have to take a hard look at military spending and at two wars.  Our defense budget has tripled since 1997.

And then I think you take a look at a whole lot of programs where there‘s waste, where there‘s bureaucracy, and where we need to cut as well.

But I will not sit by and see elderly people in this country, who are having gotten a collar in two years, have to take cuts in Social Security, or working people seeing their kids thrown off of Medicaid or hungry people not able to get food stamps.

That is not what America is supposed to be about.

ROBERTS:  Sir, from your perspective, do you think that President Obama has been backed into a corner because the Republicans are holding the debt ceiling hostage, or is this a road that he‘s actively chosen to participate in, to go down?

SANDERS:  Well, you know, it‘s good question.  And the answer is every single poll that I have seen in my experience here in Vermont is people want shared sacrifice.  If you ask people in polls, what is your preferred option in terms of deficit reduction—Thomas, do you know what they say over and over again?  Ask the wealthy to stop paying their fair share of taxes, do away with corporate loopholes.

The fact that the Republicans have been so obstinate, refusing to even consider the possibility and large corporations paying more in taxes is incomprehensible to me.  To my mind, what the president should be doing is getting out to the American people and putting the Republicans on the defensive, going into their states and saying, do you want to see Pell grants and education cut, health care cut, education cut, or should those people with huge amounts of money be asked to pay a little bit more?

If he goes out to the people, I think he can change the dynamic of this debate, because right now, the people are on our side, on the side of shared sacrifice, not balancing the budget on the weak and the vulnerable.

ROBERTS:  And seems like there is a mixed message from the right, because Speaker Boehner admitted today that the economy would be put in serious jeopardy if the debt limit is not raised by August 2nd.  And that‘s a far cry from what he said 10 days ago.

Take a listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BOEHNER:  Dealing with this debt problem and this deficit problem is far more important than meeting some artificial date created by the treasury secretary.  We cannot miss this opportunity.  If we want jobs to come to America, we have to give American business people the confidence to invest in our economy.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERTS:  So, the Republican-led House is only one obstacle.  Every Republican senator could filibuster a vote.

So, what do you think the likelihood of that could happen is?

SANDERS:  Well, you know, I‘m not going to speculate on what could happen.  I think everybody knows not passing an increase in the debt limit will raise interest rates in this country, will have far-flung implications all over the world, and it‘s something that we should do.  But we cannot do it on the backs of people who are already hurting as a result of the recession.  There‘s got to be an element, a strong element, of fairness.  We‘ve got to take a hard look at military spending as well.

ROBERTS:  Senator Bernie Sanders—Senator Sanders, it‘s always nice to see you.  Thanks for your time tonight.

SANDERS:  Thank you very much.

ROBERTS:  Joining me now is Van Jones.  He is the president of Rebuild the Dream.

A year ago, Van, unemployment was above 9 percent, and the conversation in an election year was about jobs.  A year later, unemployment is now above 9 percent, the focus on deficit reduction, largely through spending cuts.

Explain what happened.

VAN JONES, PRESIDENT, REBUILDTHEDREAM.COM:  Well, tell you what happened, a very small number of extremists have hijacked the conversation.  Look, the liberal base is not going to put up with this kind of attack on ordinary people that‘s coming down, but also, ordinary Americans are not going to.  This is no longer liberals versus conservatives.  Eighty-five percent of Americans agree with us at this point we should be raising taxes on rich people and more importantly, 55 percent of Republicans do.

So, what we‘re talking about—when David Stockman, who is the architect of Reaganomics, comes out and says, under these circumstances, even the Gipper would be raising taxes on rich people, it‘s not—that should be the end of the discussion, let‘s have a balanced approach.  But instead, we have a small group of people who have hijacked the discussion.

ROBERTS:  The president, Van, says the Republicans in Congress have tied the Democrats‘ hands when it comes to job, by voting down or stalling the jobs initiatives that they‘ve offered.

Is that something you can accept?

JONES:  Well, no, it‘s not something we can accept.

Look, first of all, one of the things we have to recognize is that the Republican majority has been there in the House, they have not passed one single job-creating measure the entire time they‘ve been there.  They talk about hiring, hiring, hiring—all their policies have led to firing, firing, firing.

So, what we have to understand at this point, the American people now have to step up.  Washington, D.C. is so far off the rails.

You talk to ordinary people—they are talking not about the debt ceiling.  They‘re talking about these veterans coming home, to no jobs, no hope.  They‘re talking about their mortgages being underwater.  And the banks that we saved as Americans won‘t even return our phone calls to help us renegotiate mortgages to get ourselves out from underwater.

That‘s what‘s going on in America—economic pain.

Wall Street has given us a private sector austerity program.  We don‘t need a public sector austerity program on top of it.

ROBERTS:  I want to talk about something that happened today, this conversation about deficit reduction and the economy.  It‘s happening as the Republican primary is underway.

Earlier, GOP candidate Michele Bachmann spoke with Carl Quintanilla on CNBC.  Take a listen, and we‘ll talk on the other side.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CARL QUINTANILLA, CNBC:  Does it strike you as the unemployment rate goes up, your chances of winning office also go up?

BACHMANN:  Well, that could be.  Again, I hope so.  My candidacy is one that I‘m presenting to be a job creator and to turn the economy around.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERTS:  All right.  So, high unemployment, that‘s a horrible thing to hope for.

But isn‘t it true the worse the economy is under President Obama, the better the chance a Republican will defeat in him 2012?  And today, we kind of had that speech from the president in the Rose Garden where we had this would-have/should-have/could-have attitude.

JONES:  Well, what I will say that I hope Representative Bachmann will take that awful comment back for people in America right now who are suffering, who are going through unemployment.  The average, I think, 39 weeks now of unemployment.  They don‘t want to hear anybody in national life saying they hope things gets worse for American people.

ROBERTS:  Sure.

JONES:  The only people who should be qualify to serve in our country at any level, at the dog catcher level, to say they put the wellbeing of ordinary Americans before any of their political ambitions.  So, I hope she will take that back.

What I do know, that lack of wisdom is not reflected in the rest of the country.  At rebuildthedream.com, we‘ve asked ordinary Americans to give us their best ideas.  You go to that Web sit, we have now 14,000 ideas about how we can get the economy going without destroying Medicare, without destroying Social Security.  And every one of those ideas are better than ideas we‘ve been hearing from like Michele Bachmann.

ROBERTS:  Yes, the president talked today from the Rose Garden about the ideas that he gets from the public, not just from politics, but everyday Americans that have ideas for him.

Van Jones from Rebuild the Dream—Van, thanks for being here tonight.  Appreciate your time.

JONES:  Honor to be here.

ROBERTS:  Coming up, special treat for you as the final shuttle mission blasts off.  “Star Trek” alums George Takei and Nichelle Nichols are here tonight to share their love of and their work with the real-life space program.  Star Trekkers, listen up.

But up next, Michele Bachmann couldn‘t wait to sign to a brand-new pledge, one that calls being a choice, bans all pornography.  And wait until you hear what she says about slavery.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROBERTS:  Michele Bachmann, who calls herself a constitutional conservative, has signed a pledge that would take away certain rights, and makes astonishing claims about slavery.  How many other Republican presidential hopefuls will sign the pledge?  I‘ll talk to Dana Milbank of “The Washington Post.”

And later, new developments tonight in the Rupert Murdoch tabloid scandals.  Scotland Yard makes another arrest as the “News of the World” reaches its final edition.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROBERTS:  Welcome back, everybody.

A religious group in Iowa has crafted a new pledge for presidential hopefuls to sign entitled the Marriage Vow, a declaration of dependents upon marriage and family.

The group‘s leader, Bob Vander Plaats said the pledge comes in reaction to New York‘s approval of same sex marriage and the recent sex scandals involving former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and Congressman Anthony Weiner.

So far, only Congresswoman Michele Bachmann and former Senator Rick Santorum have signed that pledge.  Former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty is still thinking about it and libertarian Republican Congressman Ron Paul‘s Iowa campaign chairman says he hasn‘t signed yet, because he doesn‘t want the government to dictate and define traditional marriage.

No word from Newt Gingrich, who, as we all know, has been married three times.

The pledge commits Bachmann and Santorum to personal fidelity to their spouses and asks them to fight gay marriage, abortion, quickie divorces, and all forms of pornography.  It also rejects Sharia Islam and implies that African-American kids were better off under slavery than they are today.

Joining me now is Dana Milbank, national political reporter for “The Washington Post.”

Dana, when I was reading over this stuff, I kind of envisioned m Macaulay Culkin in the mirror when he puts on the aftershave for the first time and say, ohh!  And screams.

So, what jumps at you after reading the Iowa marriage pledge?

DANA MILBANK, WASHINGTON POST:  Well, I mean, there are some terrific things in here, Thomas.  Michele Bachmann is now on the record saying that married people have better sex.  She is on the record coming out against cohabitation outside of marriage—in fact, against seduction.

But I think the thing that goes further than all of these and is really rather more serious is there‘s no way to read this other than to say the people who are signing this are saying that African-American children were better off under slavery than they are under Barack Obama‘s America.  They throw in the context of having two parents and say they were more likely to have be raised by two parents in 1860 than they are today.

Well, maybe that‘s true, but that would be because their parents were both owned by the same slave master.

So, we now have Michele Bachmann, on the one hand, saying the Founders would not rest until they could abolish slavery, and now, we‘re hearing that, in fact, black children are better off when there was slavery.

ROBERTS:  So, you better off being born a slave baby than have to slave parents, than to be from a single-parent family?

MILBANK:  And not watching or reading any pornography.

ROBERTS:  Exactly.

All right.  Explain to us, though, what does Michele Bachmann have to gain by signing this, especially so early on?  And when she‘s doing respectfully well?

MILBANK:  This is interesting, because the other one who rushed to do this was Rick Santorum—he‘s an asterisk in the polls.  So, he‘ll do anything to get a bit of attention.  There‘s a lot in this pledge about the importance of having robust procreation, and obviously, Santorum and Bachmann both score very well on that point.

She‘s trying to—she‘s trying to lock down the religious conservative vote, which is two-thirds of the vote in the Republican Iowa caucuses.

On the other hand, as you point out, she did—she was doing very well with that set anyway, and the point of locking them down at this point becomes such an a albatross should she actually have to, you know, move on to New Hampshire and ultimately the general election.

Will our blinders on for Iowa?  Because what is the calculation for the Republican candidates in Iowa when deciding whether or not to sign this and the rush to put ink to paper by Bachmann?

MILBANK:  Right, this is why you have Pawlenty, as always, being equivocal and waiting a moment.  And I think you could safely bet that Romney doesn‘t want to get near this—which is why he doesn‘t want to get near Iowa in the first place.  You know, it‘s sort of the Mike Huckabee affect and Bachmann wants to follow it.  If you win Iowa, can you turn into a springboard than Mike Huckabee the last night around.

The guy who put together this pledge incidentally was a big guy for Huckabee in Iowa last time around.  That‘s clearly what Bachmann is aiming for here and saying, you know, she will worry about with the rest of the country when she gets to it.

ROBERTS:  I encourage everybody to look it up.  It‘s called the Marriage Vow, the family leader, strengthening families.

Dana Milbank of “The Washington Post”—Dana, thanks for your time tonight.

MILBANK:  Thanks, Thomas.

ROBERTS:  Will NASA continue to boldly go where no one has gone before?  “Star Trek” legends George Takei and Nichelle Nichols are here tonight to share their unique roles with the space program as the final shuttle mission is underway.

And then, later, the surprising results of a new study about men, women, and sex.  The stereotypes that are being shattered.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROBERTS:  NBC‘s coverage of the launch of the first shuttle in 1981 was called “Columbia: The Shuttle Begins.”  But the program actually got the green light from Richard Nixon in 1972.

The first orbiter was supposed to be called Constitution, but “Star Trek” fans convinced the White House to change the name to—you guessed it—the Enterprise.  Nichelle Nichols and George Takei react to the end of the mission, next.

And there are new reports of a deep, dark reason for Rupert Murdoch to close the “News of the World.”

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  T-minus ten, nine, eight, seven, six, five, four -

we‘ve gone for main engine start.  We have main engine start.  Liftoff of America‘s first space shuttle.  And the shuttle has cleared the tower. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERTS:  And that is how it all began, the space shuttle era, STS-1, the very first shuttle flight on April 12, 1981.  Columbia was only in the air for two days on that mission, with only two crew members on board. 

Today, thirty years and three months later, shuttle Atlantis took off from the Kennedy Space Center, the 135th and last shuttle mission, closing a chapter of American history forever. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Go for main engine start.  T-minus ten, nine, eight, seven, six, five—all three engines up and burning—two, one, zero.  And liftoff—the final liftoff of Atlantis.  On the shoulders of the space shuttle, America will continue the dream. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERTS:  Atlantis has a crew of four.  That‘s the smallest since 1983.  They will perform one space walk, assisting two crew members from the International Space Station.  But their main job is to deliver tons of supplies from a logistics module to the space station crew.

And after this last mission, with no vehicle ready to replace the shuttle, dwindling funding, and Washington looking to the private sector for the next great advancement in space travel, the future of America‘s space program is in limbo, making this a truly bittersweet day for the nation. 

Joining me now from Kennedy Space Center is science correspondent for “PBS News Hour,” Miles O‘Brien.

From Orlando tonight, we are joined by Nichelle Nichols, who played Lieutenant Ohura on the original “Start Trek,”  And she was also at today‘s launch.  And from Los Angeles, actor George Takei, who, of course, played Captain Sulu on the original “Star Trek.”  It‘s wonderful to have all of you with me tonight.  Thank you so much for being here.

Nichelle, I know that you and George have both worked with NASA over the years on the issues of diversity and also with recruitment.  But I just want to start out with you and find out what your reaction was, Nichelle, for you to be there toady at the launch. 

NICHELLE NICHOLS, ACTRESS, “STAR TREK”:  It was rather incredible, Thomas.  It was the end of an era of the space shuttle program, but not the end of the space program.  Only the beginning of the next—the next stage in which we will go further into space and live in space and explore. 

After all, we as human beings were born as explorers, not Earthbound people.  And that is how the space program became into being, with the great minds and imagination, the foundation of innovation.  And with innovation, we can go anywhere. 

ROBERTS:  I was going to say, we certainly are a society of wanting to move forward.  And this has been such a wonderful chapter in our American history.  George, I want you to tell us, though, about your relationship with NASA, and explain over the years what it has meant to you, especially with the diversity issues that you‘ve been able to spearhead with them. 

GEORGE TAKEI, ACTOR, “STAR TREK”:  Well, it was really wonderful to see that beautiful liftoff this morning.  But as you said, it was a bittersweet experience, knowing that this is the last shuttle flight.  We were actually there before the Columbia took off, because we had that thrilling and unforgettable experience of being there at the roll out of the first shuttle that was named Enterprise, after the Star Ship Enterprise.

And because of that, we, mere actors, were privileged to not only be at that historic human event, but to participate in the various aspects of that program. 

On “Star Trek,” we said the strength of that starship lay in its diversity, coming together and working in concert.  And that‘s what we saw on—with the NASA program.  And we were invited to participate in that program to talk about diversity, not only the diversity that you could see, the ethnic diversity, but also the diversity of—the audible diversity, the various accents that you heard, people from throughout this planet, who spoke with a different sound, different languages.

And also the other diversity you couldn‘t see, the political diversity.  Russian on the Starship Enterprise. 

NICHOLS:  And the possibility of alien life, intelligent life. 

TAKEI:  We were able to participate—hi, Nichelle.  I envy you being there.  I was busy being a Ninja Master here. 

NICHOLS:  It was amazing, George. 

TAKEI:  Yes, it was.  But the diversity coming together—and we were able to participate in that program.  We felt very privileged and very much a part of the NASA program.  And we‘re very sorry to see it coming to an end. 

However, you know, the private sector is going to take it on.  But all great exploration has been done with the private-public partnership.  And it takes some imagineer to set a seemingly impossible goal way up there.  Then it takes the tinkerers and the inventers and the technicians to achieve that. 

That‘s what Gene Roddenberry did with “Star Trek.”  And many of the people involved with NASA were inspired to go into it as a result of the inspiration that they got from “Star Trek.”. 

ROBERTS:  We need to talk about what the next chapters.  Miles, I want to bring you into the conversation, because you‘re a brilliant journalist.  You‘re our space savant.  I think it‘s safe to say that. 

It‘s nice to share some TV time with an old friend.  Give us an idea, what‘s the best guess for the future of America‘s space program.  Miles, we‘ve been so integral.  It‘s been so part of our American narrative, to be the leader when it comes to space.  So explain where it stands when it comes to the private sector.  And is that really the answer now? 

MILES O‘BRIEN, SCIENCE CORR. PBS:  Well, let‘s talk about the private sector.  You know, the likes of Elin Musk with Space-X is making great strides, building private rockets that will be able to ferry cargo and ultimately human beings to the International Space Station.  And if he‘s willing to stake some chips on that and get into business and apply some entrepreneurial spirit to the world of the high frontier, I say the government should do what it can to step aside and seed that a little bit, much like the government put airmail on 1920s Ford Tri-Motors.  And ultimately that laid the seeds for the airlines that we see today. 

What you are seeing right now with the commercial ventures to low Earth orbit is just that.  What NASA needs to focus on is pushing out farther.  Ultimately, NASA should be going to Mars to help answer these questions about whether we are alone in the universe.  Right now, there‘s not a—

(CROSS TALK)

NICHOLS:  Actually, Miles, that is NASA‘s plan.  . 

O‘BRIEN:  Right. 

NICHOLS:  It‘s not to step aside from private industry and those innovators, but to partner with them and to make sure that what the dream that was so well-portrayed by Gene Roddenberry in the 21st century becomes a reality.  And with that responsibility to see to it.

And now our next step is to go forward, is to go further, where the private sector is not ready to go.  It can help with us at the International Space Station.  But we will be focusing now beyond and beyond the beyond.  We will be going to Mars, planning to go to Mars. 

We‘re going to asteroids.  We may go back to the Moon and settle.  But the point that I‘m making is that we as human beings are not Earthbound.  We‘re explorers.  We were explorers on this Earth, and now we‘ve practically used it up. 

We will be exploring the universe.  And it was wonderful hearing George talking about the diversity and being there at the roll out of the first space shuttle.  I had the honor of being tabbed by NASA to recruit the first women and minority astronauts for the space shuttle program.  And so there was—and it was very successful.  And there was that diversity. 

Now—and with the first—now it has really done its job, and brilliantly.  And now we move further into the universe with that incredible imagination that NASA is so famous for.  And with that imagination is the foundation of innovation.

And all that NASA has given to the world, through technology transfers, has—has enlarged us in our pursuit of happiness here on Earth.  And so it has been a great honor for me to see private industry come in and NASA embrace it. 

ROBERTS:  Let‘s hope that—we have to hope that they continue to embrace that.  Nichelle, unfortunately, we have to go.  We have run out of time.  But whatever shuttle you are building, sign me up.  I will be on it, because you are really passionate about this. 

NICHOLS:  You bet.  And passion is the fuel too. 

ROBERTS:  That‘s right.  Thank you so much.  I want to thank science correspondent for “PBS News Hour,” Miles O‘Brien.  Miles, it was great to see you.  Also actors George Takei and Nichelle Nichols.  It was really a pleasure to have all three of you on.  Thanks, guys. 

NICHOLS:  I thank you. 

ROBERTS:  Coming up, the latest on the “News of the World” scandal.  And one time editor and former press chief for Prime Minister David Cameron, Andy Coulson, was arrested today as part of the probe into the phone hacking scandal.  Wait until you hear this.  We have the details for you next. 

Later, a news study from the Kinsey Institute showing that men are happier in relationships when there‘s frequent cuddling, while women are happier when they are having more sex.  The results from the surprising survey coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DAVID CAMERON, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER:  That these people could have had their phones hacked into in order to generate stories for a newspaper is simply disgusting.  I cannot think what was going through the minds of the people who did this.

But this scandal is not just about some journalists on one newspaper.  It‘s not even just about the press.  It‘s also about the police.  And yes, it‘s also about how politics works and about politicians too. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERTS:  British Prime Minister David Cameron vows to leave no stone unturned in the phone hacking scandal involving the “News of the World” tabloid, owned by Rupert Murdoch‘s News Corp.  Murdoch is reportedly flying to London tomorrow to deal with this ever growing crisis. 

Three men were arrested today in connection with the scandal.  Andy Coulson, a former “News of the World” editor, and former communications chief to Prime Minister Cameron, was detained this morning on conspiracy and corruption allegations.  Also arrested, formal royal editor at “News of the World,” Clive Goodman.  He already spent four months in jail back in ‘07 after pleading guilty to intercepting phone messages. 

Both Coulson and Goodman have been released now on bail.  British police also arrested a 63-year-old male in connection with the phone hacking investigation today.  However, his identity has not been released. 

In the meantime, Rebekah Brooks, who was editor of “News of the World” at the time of the phone hacking, and who is now the CEO of the paper‘s parent company, News International, addressed the outgoing staff today.  Someone in that room secretly recorded the meeting.  Here‘s Brooks on the defensive. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP). 

REBEKAH BROOKS, NEWS INTERNATIONAL:  Eventually it will come out why things went wrong and who was responsible.  That will be another very, very difficult moment in the company‘s history. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  I don‘t want to be nasty, but a lot of people think that you should resign. 

BROOKS:  I know people think that.  Look, I was called.  I was away in 2006.  I was editing the “Sun.”  I got a call, like most of you, to say what had happened with the arrests.  That‘s how I found out.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERTS:  She is still tight lipped.  Brooks is refusing to answer calls for her resignation.  But she‘s no longer in charge of the News International internal clean-up committee.  Investigators indicate more arrests could come soon, which begs the question, what of News Corps‘ American outlets?

Joining me now is Washington correspondent for “the Nation,” and author of “The Death and Life of American Journalism,” John Nichols.  John, it‘s nice to have you on tonight.  This is really an evolving situation that we continue to learn about, day in, day out.

But Britain‘s prime minister seemed to indicate today that politicians are involved in this scandal as well, that they never meant—that they never went after Murdoch‘s empire because of his political power.  So just how much of an influence are we talking about here that Murdoch has over the political aspects of life in Britain? 

JOHN NICHOLS, “THE NATION”:  It was a huge influence.  And I think that it‘s hard to underestimate.  To give you an example of the influence that Murdoch has had really over the last 20 to 25 years, when Tony Blair, the former prime minister, was considering making a bid for the prime minister‘s position, he flew to Australia to meet with Murdoch. 

He went to Murdoch to ask for Murdoch‘s blessing.  And similarly, Cameron, the current prime minister, went to Murdoch and asked for a blessing before he launched his core bid as prime minister.  So for a very long time in Great Britain, leaders in both political parties—both major parties have played up to Murdoch.

And there‘s simply no question that his news operations have destroyed some politicians and raised others from obscurity to high positions of power. 

ROBERTS:  John, how does that play out when we think about the power politically of Murdoch can be here in this country, in the United States? 

J. NICHOLS:  Well, there‘s no question that the way that his news operations operate in the United States, particularly his Fox Television Network, is at least somewhat grounded in that British and Australian style.  It is one that is far more partisan than was traditionally the case with broadcast in the U.S. and also cable.

And it‘s also one that clearly picks favorites.  There‘s simply no doubt that when you turn on Fox, you‘re going to know who they like and who they don‘t like.  We also have had a lot of examples in the United States of members of different administrations playing to the Fox folks. 

For instance, Condoleezza Rice, at one point during the Bush administration, at a critical moment with Afghanistan, actually broke from her official duties to do a lengthy briefing of Murdoch‘s editors from around the world.  So there‘s no doubt we‘ve seen these sorts of relationships in the U.S. 

ROBERTS:  Does this beg the question, though, something like what happened to “News of the World” could happen here inside the U.S.?  If these tactics are being used and administered within that corporation, how come they wouldn‘t be used here in the United States already, if they are so successful elsewhere? 

J. NICHOLS:  Well, I think we have to understand that different parts of the world have different approaches to journalism.  And there‘s simply no doubt that the United States has different practices. 

For instance, we have a constitutional amendment that protects the right to privacy.  It‘s something I think quite engrained in a lot of our life.  So I‘m not sure that you‘ll see an exact parallel.

But opening up the discussion about how Murdoch operates and about the way that Murdoch‘s operations have grown via relationships with government is a significant thing to do. 

Remember, Rupert Murdoch has aggressively lobbied the Federal Communications Commission for a lifting of laws that would make it much easier for him to build out his empire in the U.S. 

It‘s a very controversial thing, but not nearly so much discussed as it should be, in our media and our political life. 

ROBERTS:  Again, as we continue to hear about these arrests and more to come about the “News of the World” scandal.  John Nichols with “the Nation.”  John, great to see you.  Thanks for joining us tonight. 

J. NICHOLS:  It‘s a pleasure. 

ROBERTS:  Still ahead, news about your sex life.  Seriously, if you thought you knew what men and women are really like in the bedroom, you are in for a wake-up call.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROBERTS:  Welcome back, everybody.  We have breaking news that we need to pass along to you this evening.  NBC News has confirmed that former First Lady Betty Ford, the widow of President Gerald Ford, has died. 

She was 93 years old.  Along with serving as first lady from 1974 to 1977, she was known for her bravery, as well as her candor in battling alcohol and drug dependency. 

Her successful recovery led to her to begin and start the very famous Betty Ford Clinic, which is near Palm Springs, California.  She was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1991 for her activism in that role.  And her death follows the passing of the president—President Ford in 2006. 

Andrea Mitchell is joining me now to talk more about the life and times of Betty Ford.  Andrea, this is very sad news that‘s coming this evening. 

ANDREA MITCHELL, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT:  It‘s very sad news to the nation, to those of us who knew Betty Ford, those of us who viewed her as a role model and a mentor for women fighting breast cancer, for women being public for the first time about her fight against the disease. 

She and President Ford, when she first experienced her bout with breast cancer, were very public, very open about it.  In fact, they had a photo opportunity in her hospital room out at Walter Reed to make it very clear to everyone that it was not something to be covered up, which back then in the ‘70s, it was. 

It was later after she left the White House that she, of course, acknowledged that after a family moment with her, where the children and the former president came to her and said that she had been too dependent on pain killers, had had problems with alcoholism, that she, in fact, did confront that.  And then, of course, that led to the Betty Ford Center. 

She was 93 years old.  She had been ailing for many years.  She had, before then, come every June for a reunion of the Ford White House staff and cabinet, and also for a celebration of the Ford‘s wedding anniversaries and their birthdays in the summer month. 

So she was a frequent—at least an annual figure in Washington over those years.  And many of us went to a conference that President Ford held, a bipartisan economic conference, in their summer home in Colorado for many, many years, until she was just too frail and the altitude was, frankly, too difficult for her. 

But in these declining years, she has lived, of course, in the desert in Palm Springs.  Last seen in Washington when she was here, of course, for the former president‘s funeral services, the state funeral for President Ford. 

So it is with great sadness that many of us have to share the news that Betty Ford has died at the age of 93. 

ROBERTS:  Andrea, certainly though her legacy will live on with the Betty Ford Center and the thousands of people that have been helped by that treatment facility, and her candor and her openness about her own battle. 

MITCHELL:  Indeed.  She really was a break-through, charismatic first lady.  We remember the style, the fact she was a former dancer.  She had great style and great substance as first lady. 

She really was the first national figure to talk about her breast cancer so openly.  Then later, Nancy Reagan, of course, also did so during her tenure as First Lady.

So she was a major figure for women.  She supported the Equal Rights Amendment, which was never ratified.  But she was very active in the women‘s rights movement and was very outspoken.  Outspoken about her teenage daughter, Susan, living at the White House, going through the struggles of all teenage girls, having an adolescent in the White House. 

The sons and Suzanne, of course, are in our hearts tonight.  Suzanne Ford-Bales and all their grandchildren and the great grandchildren.  It was a loving and very, very close family.

And she was a remarkable First Lady and a remarkable figure after she left the White House. 

ROBERTS:  Certainly a nation‘s heart-felt condolences going out to all of the Fords tonight.  Andrea Mitchell—Andrea, great to see you.  Thanks for joining me, I appreciate it. 

MITCHELL:  You bet.

ROBERTS:  “THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW” is up next with more on this breaking story.  We say good evening to Rachel.  Hi, there.

END   

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