PoliticsNation, Monday, November 7th, 2011
Read the transcript from the Monday show
Guests: Brian Oxman, Toure, Rikki Klieman, Thomas Mesereau, Michael Steele,
REV. AL SHARPTON, HOST: Good evening and welcome to POLITICS NATION.
I`m Al Sharpton.
We`re going to talk later this hour about politics, one year to
election 2012, as well as that amazing tape from a new Herman Cain accuser.
We start with breaking news tonight, a verdict in the trial of Michael
Jackson`s doctor. Justice in the trial of Michael Jackson`s doctor.
Just a short time ago, Dr. Conrad Murray was found guilty of
involuntary manslaughter in the death of Michael Jackson. In a moment,
we`ll have a live report from the courthouse and we`ll hear from legal
But first, I want to say a few words about my friend, Michael Jackson.
I knew Michael Jackson for over 30 years. I worked with him. I`ve
been on the road with him. He supported National Action Network, a group I
founded and still head. We supported him.
I ended up speaking at his memorial when he died. I ended up doing a
eulogy at his burial. I walked with his children as we placed his body to
So I did not go out to the trial. I did not comment much, because I
knew that I didn`t look at this objectively. But I look now as the verdict
has come in, and I`m looking at people that act as though this trial was
about Michael and not about a doctor not living up to his oath and crossing
the line of criminality.
I`m looking at the fact that even in death, they`re trying to act like
there`s something wrong with Michael rather than something wrong with
exploiting people like Michael. Even if they exploited their weaknesses,
even if they exploited their flaws, it`s time for us to come to terms with
the fact that you cannot use artists and athletes as just money machines.
Use them, squeeze them, get all you can out of them, and when something
goes wrong, then it`s their fault, while people go to the bank and they go
to the cemetery.
I hope that message resonates. We`ll talk about that tonight.
We have this story covered from all angles this evening. In just a
minute, we`ll talk to Brian Oxman, who represented the Jacksons over the
last 25 years as an attorney. He served as Joe Jackson`s attorney in a
wrongful death case. And Toure, an MSNBC contributor.
But first, let`s get the latest from the courthouse with NBC News
correspondent Kristen Dahlgren.
Kristen, thanks for coming on the show.
KRISTEN DAHLGREN, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Hey, there, Al.
Yes, it`s two-and-a-half years since Michael Jackson`s death, since
you spoke at his funeral. And today, we finally did hear the verdict in
association with his death. Dr. Conrad Murray, found guilty of involuntary
I want to play for you that moment inside the courtroom.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We, the jury in the above entitled action, find
the defendant, Conrad Robert Murray, guilty of the crime of involuntary
manslaughter in violation of Penal Code Section 192, Subsection B, alleged
victim, Michael Joseph Jackson.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DAHLGREN: We`re told that that scream there inside the courtroom was
from Michael`s sister, La Toya.
During the verdict, Conrad Murray sat pretty quietly, showed little
emotion as the jury was polled. He did look at them.
He was then handcuffed and remanded immediately into custody. His
sentencing will be on November 29th. He could face up to four years in
prison, as well as the loss of his medical license and up to $10,000 in
As for the reaction of the family as they walked out, La Toya again
said, "Finally, there has been justice in this case." The rest of the
family remained pretty quiet as they got into their cars and drove away.
As for the crowds, though, they were jubilant when they heard that
verdict being read. There was a scream out here. Michael Jackson`s music
began to play.
Many of the fans have been out here throughout this whole six-week
trial, others during the two-hour period that we were given notification
that there was a verdict gathered here. And some are still out here now.
It`s been sort of a celebratory atmosphere for the fans.
But you talked about Michael Jackson`s childhood. That was something
that the district attorney also brought up in his news conference after
this, a reminder that Paris, Prince and Blanket no longer have a father.
They weren`t here at all in the courtroom, but they were featured
pretty prominently in this trial. The prosecutors saying that the actions
of Dr. Conrad Murray left them without a father -- Al.
SHARPTON: Kristen Dahlgren, thanks for your reporting this evening.
Joining me now, Brian Oxman, who represented the Jacksons over the
last 25 years. He served as Joe Jackson`s attorney in the wrongful death
case. And Toure, MSNBC contributor.
Brian, let`s start with you.
Some of us that have been close to the family -- I was in the house
with the three children and Mrs. Jackson right after his death, leading
into the funeral and all. And many of us felt that this doctor and those
that may have had knowledge were getting off light and was hoping that even
this would stick.
Has justice been served tonight, Mr. Oxman?
BRIAN OXMAN, JACKSON FAMILY ATTORNEY: Reverend, I feel very empty by
this verdict. I don`t think that justice is served.
I think the result was the right result, that Dr. Conrad Murray was,
in fact, guilty as charged. But as to whether or not this brings Michael
some kind of rest, or his family peace or closure, I feel so empty.
And the one thing, as I listen to you, Reverend, I remember that
Michael Jackson loved you. And the problem is, is that we don`t have him
anymore. And no matter what verdict was done today, he`s not going to be
here, and he isn`t going to be able to tell you and talk to you anymore, or
SHARPTON: When you look at what this doctor is facing, Toure -- and
he`s facing maybe only probation, up to four years, loss of a medical
license, up to $10,000 in fines --- and I`m hearing commentators already
saying, well, Michael made him do it, Michael demanded drugs. Michael lost
his life. There is no Michael.
These three children have no father. Mrs. Jackson and Mr. Jackson
have no son.
I think the dehumanizing of artists and athletes when they reach an
iconic stage is what Mr. Oxman and I were talking about. It`s like we`re
not talking about a human being anymore, like whatever the law protects
doesn`t apply to them. A doctor can exploit and do whatever he wants, and
it`s the star`s fault.
TOURE, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Yes. I mean, whatever Dr. Murray has to
deal with going forward, prison, fine, all that, he`s going to have to wear
on his shoulders until the day he dies that he is the villain, he`s the one
the world thinks killed Michael Jackson.
If he actually is the one in the room who caused that, we`ll actually
never know. But the world -- the law says that and the world is going to
think that forever. He is the big villain in this story.
But I want to go back to the beginning of this moment of Michael
Jackson`s death, that he`s ramping up for 50 shows in London, which is a
superhuman amount of shows to do. Very few people I talked to in the
record business actually thought that he would have been able to carry
through with 50 shows at his age. And the pressure that must have been on
him to get back to that superhuman level that he was at and do these 50
shows was massive.
And that`s part of why he brings Dr. Murray into his world to help him
get ready for those shows, and loses the control over his own life. And
Dr. Murray, of course, is not there to guide him.
When we go to the hospital, a lot of times we ask for things, and the
doctor says, no, you cannot have that. And, of course, when he`s getting
$150,000 a month -- he can just go to another doctor if you`re going to say
no. Dr. Murray loses the ability to be a doctor and he just becomes, what?
A drug dealer.
SHARPTON: Well, Brian Oxman, did Dr. Murray, in your case, lose his
ability, or did he come because the people that were going to pay him
didn`t care, and he didn`t care?
OXMAN: How about both, Reverend? It`s both.
He lost his ethics. He lost his mind. He was, I think, almost
cajoled by the concert promoters.
You have to get Michael Jackson to perform -- to perform. Michael was
not going to rehearsals. He was in pain.
Somebody had to drug him in order to get him to get to those
rehearsals. And the concert promoters brought him in, and he lost his
So who`s responsible here? Well, certainly Dr. Murray. But how about
the puppeteers who pulled the strings, the concert promoters? They bear
responsibility, and I think we`re all missing that fact.
SHARPTON: Now, when I look at the fact that I`ve been around Michael
for years in all kinds of circumstances, attorney Oxman has been around
him, I never saw Michael in any of these conditions. It doesn`t mean he
didn`t do it, but it wasn`t where any of us would -- if he was that far
gone, some of us would have seen that.
But then you hear the voicemail, Toure, that was played at trial to
Dr. Murray, where Michael obviously had been drugged legally, illegally --
we don`t know. And this doctor is hearing this voicemail, and he continued
to go on, floating girlfriends through the house, allowing medication to be
there that shouldn`t have been there.
No one stopped this. I mean, how do you hear what this doctor heard
that they played to that jury and not take action unless you really don`t
care? All of this crap about Michael made him do it, he heard the
condition Michael was in from the stuff he was giving Michael.
TOURE: It`s hard to say that he didn`t care, that he wasn`t -- I
mean, like, he certainly was not taking care of Michael Jackson the way
that he should have been.
On the previous show, we had a doctor talking about, what do you think
about giving Propofol in the home? Look, that`s ridiculous. Nobody would
He`s performing pharmaceutical experiments in the home, not taking
care of Michael. He was not there for Michael Jackson to guide him through
these difficult moments, and that`s why he`s going to go to jail.
SHARPTON: If this doctor, attorney Oxman, had been acquitted,
wouldn`t it have sent a chilling message around the entire world that,
really, you are responsible for yourselves if someone is paid or someone,
for whatever personal reason of gain, disavows their oath and allows you to
do something? Let`s say Michael was totally responsible, and you and I and
the family just didn`t see that side. The message would have been
frightening that this doctor could get this kind of money, ignore what he
ignored, do what he did, and it`s all right.
OXMAN: Absolutely right, Reverend. You know, the Anna Nicole Smith
case rose to the level of criticizing the doctors and saying, hey, you
drugged her and you drugged her. And after a while, everyone kind of
shrugged their shoulders and that went into history.
The history of these cases are that we get all upset about the doctors
overmedicating their patients. But after a few months, everybody shrugs
their shoulders and says, OK, it`s ancient history.
I hope that in the case of Michael Jackson, that does not happen. And
if there`s a legacy here, it`s the legacy, "Doctor, you can`t do this."
You can`t do it to a superstar, you can`t do it to the man on the street.
I hope that that`s the lesson we learn.
TOURE: Reverend, I think if you look at the jury came back in about
nine hours, it`s impossible to imagine that they would have come back in
any other way. I think they were quite clear from the beginning of
deliberations -- that`s why they come back so fast -- that we can`t let
this man go, this was clearly negligence.
SHARPTON: Brian Oxman, thanks for joining me tonight.
Toure, please stay with me.
Ahead, the doctor is found guilty, but blaming the victim here
continues. I`ll show you exactly why that doesn`t make sense.
Plus, the other big breaking news story of the day, a new Herman Cain
accuser comes forward and speaks out with graphic detail. Hear what it
will do to the Cain campaign.
You`re watching POLITICS NATION on MSNBC.
SHARPTON: Welcome back.
Dr. Conrad Murray has been found guilty of involuntary manslaughter in
the death of Michael Jackson. The Jackson family says justice has been
served. But not everyone agrees.
Some continue to place the blame on Michael, calling the star an
addict and saying that a $150,000 monthly salary he paid to Murray
pressured him to cater to Michael`s every desire -- or that was paid on
Michael`s behalf, I should say. But I want to remind people of something.
The voicemail that emerged on the first day of this trial left by
Michael on Dr. Murray`s phone mere weeks before his death, listen to this
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
MICHAEL JACKSON, ENTERTAINER: We have to be phenomenal. When people
leave this show, when people leave my show, I want them to say, "I`ve never
seen nothing like this in my life."
(END AUDIO CLIP)
SHARPTON: Now, this voicemail was left on Dr. Murray`s phone.
Obviously, Michael is clearly under some influence, legal, illegal. The
doctor got the message.
For the doctor to take no action, for the doctor to have no way that
we could see -- and he certainly had every opportunity at trial, because
this was the first day of trial -- to talk about what he did to deal with
this, here was a man, in my opinion, taking the money, not caring about the
patient. To now come back and talk about the patient, rather than talk
about the negligence -- and as this jury said, and I agree, the criminal
negligence, to me, is the whole case, again, that we always hear, blame the
victim, something that`s too often done in Hollywood.
Again, it is, as long as you can make money, as long as you can make
it go ching-ching on our cash registers, everything is fine, whatever you
need. But the minute that starts backing up, it`s all your fault. And
I`ll still ching-ching on the residuals of what we can get for you and your
catalog after you`re gone.
Joining me now, Rikki Klieman, legal analyst and former criminal
defense attorney. And back with us, MSNBC contributor Toure.
Let me ask you. You`re a defense attorney. How do you hear that tape
-- if you were representing Murray, how does he explain, if nothing else,
Doctor, why he didn`t say, wait a minute, we have a real problem here?
RIKKI KLIEMAN, LEGAL ANALYST: Well, one of the issues for the defense
was the problem of putting Conrad Murray on the witness stand to give an
explanation. We don`t have an explanation. I think that if the defense
were also able to put the blame squarely on Dr. Arnold Klein, which is what
the defense wanted to do, because it was Dr. Arnold Klein that Michael
Jackson was seeing for various procedures, and Dr. Arnold Klein was giving
Michael Jackson Demerol, for all we know, that was a tape after he left Dr.
Arnold Klein and was filled with Demerol. The problem --
SHARPTON: But we don`t know that.
KLIEMAN: We don`t know. And that`s part of the problem.
There was no way that we could possibly, from the defense side -- any
good defense lawyer, no one would have put Dr. Conrad Murray on the witness
stand, because he had too many contradictory statements, and he would have
made a mess of it, even worse than it was. So there was no way to really
explain that tape away.
One of the problems, I would say to you, is that keeping that
recording is just as bad as getting the recording. Why did he keep it?
And the way the prosecution played it was very intriguing.
KLIEMAN: The prosecution played it right next to the three
girlfriends. And the inference, the subtext was there, though it could
have never been said, that the reason, from the prosecution`s point of
view, that he kept the recording was to show the girlfriends, let them hear
it, that they could see that he was treating Michael Jackson.
Now, of course, that could never be proven. But just the fact that it
came in that way --
SHARPTON: But it was what it was.
KLIEMAN: It was what it was.
SHARPTON: And the three girlfriends, I think, testified they knew
about Michael. They would talk to Michael.
I mean, Toure, the broader issue -- because this is POLITICS NATION,
and I rarely do entertainment news, even with somebody that I have been
close with. But the politics of this is the broader exploitation of
artists of all colors, but it`s clearly artists of color, in the music
industry, in sports, that are treated as just money machines. They`re not
And whatever it takes, if it`s steroids with athletes, whatever it is,
they become money -- it`s almost like what we`re dealing with, with banks
and other things when we deal with economic inequality. These people
become pieces of meat to bring us money. And we just fuel the pump until
they run out and then get somebody else.
TOURE: That`s right. I mean, there is a racehorse aspect that
happens to these people, that you become like the racehorse. And whatever
it takes to keep you going, that`s what we`re going to give you.
And as you touched on before, that whole Hollywood access, if you`re
doing cocaine and crack, and Charlie Sheen, and whoever you are, and you
can keep it going, then fine, no problem, we`ll look the other way. When
you can`t show up to work and be funny, or be awesome, or be charismatic,
then we have to reassess the situation. But as long as you can perform,
it`s all good.
But here`s the situation where Michael Jackson`s celebrity power was
able to control the doctor -- I want that check, I want my girlfriends in
the world to know that I`m treating Michael Jackson, so I`m going to do
whatever he says. I`m going to stop being a doctor and just do whatever he
SHARPTON: A drug dealer could have that same kind of ethics, couldn`t
KLIEMAN: Well, of course. But what we`re looking at here, too, is
when you look at Dr. Conrad Murray, whether we look at him with the best of
intentions -- that is, that he really wanted to help Michael Jackson -- if
we look at it from that perspective, Michael Jackson needed to do those 50
concerts. Fifty concerts -- the idea of it, of what it could do to
someone`s body, and he was someone who was not sleeping. He was desperate
So, Dr. Conrad Murray did abandon his better beliefs in order to help
Michael Jackson, even if we take all of the money out of it. The result,
of course, is, is it Dr. Murray alone who is at fault here, or was it
everyone. As you put out in sociological terms, they wanted that tour to
SHARPTON: They wanted that tour to go. And the problem is that they
want all the tours to go, and nobody cares about the artist.
That`s why I said, and I`ll play it later, there wasn`t nothing
strange about Michael in that strange environment. That is unfortunately
the way the culture there works, and we need to correct it.
Maybe, Toure, you and I need to do Occupy Hollywood.
SHARPTON: Rikki Klieman and Toure, thanks for your time.
Ahead, we talk to the attorney who knew Michael Jackson better than
most. Michael Jackson`s lawyer, Tom Mesereau, is next.
SHARPTON: We`re back with breaking news. Dr. Conrad Murray, found
guilty of involuntary manslaughter in the death of Michael Jackson.
Some of the toughest times that Michael Jackson ever faced were in
2005, when he was put on trial, accused of child molestation. He was
ultimately found not guilty of all of those charges.
His attorney, Tom Mesereau, worked by Michael`s side for over a year
and came to know Michael as a kind and decent man who wanted to change the
world in a positive way.
Joining me now is Tom Mesereau, Michael`s former defense attorney.
Tom, I was glad to have you on tonight. I remember during that trial,
you and Michael and I met in the bathroom at Johnnie Cochran`s funeral at
West Angeles Church of God and Christ. And I saw first hand how Michael
really had put his life and trust in you to bring him through a time when
many of his friends, superstars he had helped, wouldn`t even return his
And we get this bizarre picture of Michael. Was that the Michael you
knew? And even if his lowest moment, that was some strung-out guy that
couldn`t handle stress and pressure?
TOM MESEREAU, MICHAEL JACKSON`S FMR. DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Reverend,
first of all, thanks for having me on your show. It`s good to talk to you.
Michael, as I`ve often said, was one of the nicest, kindest, most
humble, most decent people I ever had the privilege to meet. And early in
that case, my sister came down with a brain tumor and a lung tumor. This
was a few months before the trial started.
She had the brain tumor removed. She went home. And at her door was
the largest bouquet of flowers she had ever seen. It was larger than the
door. And with those flowers was a little poem from Michael.
Late in the trial, I started suffering from vertigo. I would jump out
of bed in the morning, get dizzy, and fall down. I had to go to a doctor.
Michael was so concerned about me, he was not concerned about himself.
This was a very kind, decent, generous person. And let me say this.
I worked with him nine months before the trial started, five months during
the trial. He would call me or my partner Susan Yu at 3:00 in the morning,
4:00 in the morning. He was always articulate, conscious, cooperative.
He was always clear thinking. And he worked with us very intensely
and very, very cooperatively. He was never strung out on anything. I
never heard him slur his words. That`s the Michael I worked with and
that`s the Michael I knew. And, you know, what this Dr. Murray did is so
inexcusable. But on the other hand, so typical when certain professionals,
lawyers and doctors, get in the hands of celebrities. And this was the
most famous celebrity on the planet.
SHARPTON: Now, none of us are saying, you, me, and none of the family
members I`ve spoken with, that Michael didn`t have any flaws and maybe
flaws we weren`t aware off. But to act as though Michael was some out of
control person I think is something all of us take issue with. And
whatever happened, he lost his life. I think people forget some children -
- three children lost their father. Katherine and Joe Jackson lost their
son. His siblings lost their brother. We`re talking about a human being.
Whatever his flaws, he`s certainly given the kind of money this doctor was
pay, he should have been protected even from himself, or the doctor should
have walked away. Am I legally right?
MESEREAU: You are absolutely -- you`re not only legally right, you`re
morally right and you`re ethically right. A professional is there to give
professional advice, even if it`s not the advice, the patient or the client
wants to hear. He wasn`t there to be a yes man. He was there to look at
Michael in the eye and say, Michael, Propofol is a dangerous anesthetic, it
doesn`t belong in the home, you`re potentially killing yourself by using
this stuff, we`re going to find an alternative. Instead of that, he said,
yes, yes, yes, because he was afraid the golden goose would fly away. He`d
lose his money, and his fame and his prestige and look what happened. As
you just said, one of the greatest stars in history and also one of the
nicest people in history is dead.
SHARPTON: Now, one of the things that I want you to share with us in
the moment I have left with you, Michael Jackson during that trial -- and I
knew him years before and certainly during that and after -- was really
abandoned. You were with him at a very low point where only his family was
around. And many of the stars that crowded his funeral and that was there
at the burial, wouldn`t even return his phone calls. I don`t think people
understand how everyone, including the media, was talking about how Michael
was going to jail. I never forget, they were even showing the cell he was
going to be at. And you and the family were some of the few human beings
on the planet that felt that Michael was innocent and would be acquitted.
He showed great strength during that kind of experience, Tom.
MESEREAU: He really did, Reverend. You know, he believed in God.
His mother and father and family were tremendous inspirations to him. They
told him the truth would win out. And let me say this, you are absolutely
correct. I can`t tell you how many big celebrity names were not there when
he wanted help. But on the other hand, Chris Tucker, Macaulay Culkin, they
had lawyers, agents, managers telling them, don`t go near that trial, he`s
going down, you`re going to hurt your career. And both of them said to me,
we`re going to be there when Michael needs us. We stand for the truth.
He`s our friend. And I`ll never forget those two. But others, I`ll tell
you, Reverend. When Michael died, I saw people going on television, Larry
King, all professing their love for Michael. But when we needed those
people, they were nowhere to be seen.
SHARPTON: No, Michael told me some names that one day I`ll share with
everyone and everyone knows the names. Tom Mesereau, you weren`t one of
those names. Thank you for your time tonight. We`ll be right back.
SHARPTON: Welcome back to "Politics Nation." We turn now to the
day`s other big story. New bombshell accusations against Herman Cain. For
the first time, a woman has publicly accused Cain of making unwanted sexual
advances. Sharon Bialek says, it happened after she lost her job at
National Restaurant Association. These accusations are not confirmed by
NBC news. But here`s what she said at a live news conference after being
introduced by her lawyer, Gloria Allred.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: She reached out to Mr. Cain for help in finding
another job. Instead of receiving the help that she had hoped for, Mr.
Cain instead decided to provide her with his idea of a stimulus package.
Which she will describe.
SHARON BIALEK, NEW CAIN ACCUSER: I called Mr. Cain`s office and left
a message for Mr. Cain. He called me back. I told him that I had been let
go but he said he was unaware of it. I explained that I was going to be
visiting my boyfriend`s family and would be only a couple of hours by train
from D.C. which is where the N.R.A. had its national office. I asked him
if we could perhaps meet for coffee. He said that he would. And that I
should call once I had from my date and the arrangements. I then took the
train to Washington, D.C. When I checked into the room, I was shocked. I
had a palatial suite. And the bellman -- I said to the bellman, there has
got to be some mistake. But he insisted that there was no mistake. I
later found out that Mr. Cain had arranged for the suite.
We had drinks at the hotel and he asked how I liked my room, which is
kind of normal. And I was very -- I said I was very surprised. I said, I
can`t believe I`ve got this great suite, it`s gorgeous. Mr. Cain kind of
smirked and then said, I upgraded you. He then took me to an Italian
restaurant where we had dinner. During dinner, Mr. Cain looked at me and
said, why are you here? I said, actually, Herman, my boyfriend whom you
met suggested that I meet with you because he thought you could help me
because I really need a job.
I was wondering if there`s anything available at the state association
level or perhaps if you could speak to someone at the foundation to try to
get my job back, perhaps even in a different department. He said, I`ll
look into that. While we were driving back to the hotel, he said that he
would show me where the National Restaurant Association offices were.
Instead of going into the offices, he suddenly reached over and he put his
hand on my leg, under my skirt and reached for my genitals. He also
grabbed my head and brought it toward his crotch.
I was very, very surprised and very shocked. I said, what are you doing,
you know I have a boyfriend. This isn`t what I came here for. Mr. Cain
said, you want a job, right? I asked him to stop and he did. I asked him
to take me back to my hotel, which he did.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: Bialek becomes the fourth woman to make sexual harassment
accusations against Herman Cain, but his campaign is denying them all,
saying, quote, "Activist celebrity lawyer Gloria Allred is bringing forth
more false accusations against the character of the republican frontrunner
Herman Cain." All allegations of harassment against Mr. Cain are false.
Joining me now is MSNBC political analyst Richard Wolffe, and MSNBC
analyst Michael Steele, former chairman of the Republican National
Committee. Thank you both for being here tonight. Michael, let me start
with you, Michael. How do these new accusations change this controversy?
MICHAEL STEELE, FORMER RNC CHAIRMAN: Oh, I think it changes it quite
a bit, Reverend. Up until now, you know, it`s been sort of a one-sided
conversation with Herman pretty much denying that there was anything and
that if there was, it was nothing very significant and that it had been
dealt with 12 years ago. I think now, as many have said, that there`s a
face to go with the accusations, keeping in mind that this was 12 years
ago, this has, quote, "you know, been settled but it is now part of the
political dialogue." And I think it`s going to be very damaging because as
of yet, Herman has yet to get in front of this story and to put it in
I don`t know if this woman has filed a complaint at the time or took
other actions or steps given what she describes today. All that now
becomes part of the conversation. And going into the debate this week --
the two debates this week, Reverend, one on the economy that CNBC is
hosting on Wednesday night and then foreign policy on Saturday, what do you
think they`re going to be talking about? I mean, you can`t have that
debate with all those candidates on the stage. Particularly, one this
finger pointing. Now you have this woman out here, certainly this is not
good for the party. It is certainly not good for Herman Cain. And I think
that we`ve got a little bit of a mess on our hands.
SHARPTON: But, Richard, the polls are strong. Granted, the polls
were before we have a face and a story as we did today. But he remained
viable. There was some dropping in his favorabilities. But he stayed in
the top tier tied or still ahead of Mitt Romney, positives of 52 percent,
down a little but negatives, 19 percent. How does he now hold that with
this acquisition and the lawyer, Joe Bennett who is a lawyer for the
anonymous accusers, one of the anonymous accusers, he`s saying that this
lady`s claim today was very similar in nature to the incident that occurred
between his client and Mr. Cain, according to "The New York Times."
RICHARD WOLFFE, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, look, he could tough
it out for a while, but the clock is ticking on him. Whether it`s now or
later, it will soon be time to stick a fork in the pizza guy. Because,
really, you can only ride this out for so long. It says a lot about the
rest of the field. Of course, it says a lot about how much the base really
does not want to vote for anything like Mitt Romney. So that gives him a
certain base. He can maybe get through an early state like Iowa, maybe
South Carolina. But the bigger states are just going to be beyond his
reach, those less committed, less frequent primary voters are just not
going to show up for him. And it`s the changing stories. There may be a
lot of smoke and no fire in all of this stuff. But in the end, there`s so
much smoke, you cannot even see the candidate.
SHARPTON: Well, Richard, Michael, I have more for you. Stay with me.
We`ll be back in a minute.
Up next, more proof President Obama`s fight for the middle class is
working. Stay with us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Mr. Cain, the attorney for one of the women
who filed a sexual harassment complaint against you.
HERMAN CAIN (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Don`t even go there.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Can I ask my question?
CAIN: No. Where`s my chief of staff? Please send him the
journalistic code of ethics.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: Herman Cain this weekend trying to move on from the sexual
harassment controversy. I`m back with MSNBC political analyst Richard
Wolffe and MSNBC analyst Michael Steele. Richard, it looked like Mr. Cain
got a little testy over the weekend, now with a live body and graphic
details, I don`t know that he can now just say, I`m not answering that,
we`re going to move on, look at the journalistic code of ethics. How does
he deal with the press now if he was already edgy and as Michael says, he
has two debates he`s has to deal with this week?
WOLFFE: Well, I`m sure he`ll get testier. And there`s not actually a
lot of downside in a republican primary running against the media. The
problem is, it`s not just the media that`s pursuing him now. And that`s
the damaging nature of having not just a credible accuser of someone who`s
a registered republican. So, I`m sure there will be lots of digging around
about this accuser. But going against the media has worked so far. It`s
allowed him to tough it out. A lot of people have said, well, he`s
unflappable and he`s sticking to his message. But, again, over time,
whether it`s in a month or by the time we get to Super Tuesday, this is
going to run out of steam.
SHARPTON: Now, Michael, in the midst of all of this controversy, I
heard a statement that disturbed me, frankly. And I was waiting for a
great coalition of black Republicans to come forward and address this. Let
me play to you what statement bothered me.
STEELE: All right.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANN COULTER SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: Our blacks are so much better than
their blacks. We have very impressive blacks in our part. White women in
scars, who say, I didn`t like it that he called me honey. This isn`t
dropping your pants and saying, kiss it. This is an outrageous attack on a
black conservative who`s doing extremely well and I think will be our vice
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: Now, Michael, our blacks -- does the Republicans and Ann
Coulter own some of you because nobody owns me. So I know I missed it.
But I`m sure the black Republicans and everyone got up and told her, "How
dare you talk about us like we`re property."
STEELE: We had a meeting.
SHARPTON: I just missed it.
STEELE: Right. We all agreed -- no, that`s Ann being Ann. And you
know how she goes for the hyperbole and all that. I don`t think anyone
walked away thinking they were being owned by the Republican Party,
certainly I don`t feel like that given my experience in the party. But,
you know, that`s part of the passion and hyperbole that comes out of things
like this. And I think that, you know, without that, as I said before,
Reverend, without that face of an accuser, someone who has been wronged or
felt they`ve been wronged to deal with, it`s easier to go down that road.
And so, but I think now that you have someone standing in front of a bank
of microphones saying, this happened to me, it was real for me, that
changes a lot of that conversation.
SHARPTON: All right. Let`s look at some of the polling that we see
with the president. If we look at 2012 match-ups, we see, according to the
NBC/"Wall Street Journal" poll taken between November 2nd and the 5th, that
Barack Obama, the president beats Mitt Romney 49 to 43. And same poll, he
beats Herman Cain 53 percent to 38 percent. So, we see the Republicans in
Congress, 56 percent President Obama, 36 percent who they blame for not
solving problems. So they overwhelmingly blame the Republicans in
Congress. This is a brand-new poll. Michael, it looks the president is
comfortably ahead against the two main opponents, at least the main
opponents before today`s press conference, and that the Republicans bear
the brunt of the blame in this latest NBC/"Wall Street Journal" poll just
released at 6:30.
STEELE: Right. That may be true in terms of the blame. I mean,
that`s part of the tag line for Congress. I think when you look at the
poll and you go through the numbers more broadly speaking, right now, the
president and Mitt Romney, for example, are tied in the electoral college,
196 to 195, with 147 electoral votes up in the air. That translates them
to about 12 states or so that are going to be in significant play. The
problem the president has is, he`s weak in areas where he won the last
time. Virginia, North Carolina, just two good examples where the president
is going to have a hard road to sell his agenda going forward. He`s got
Tim Kaine, the former DNC chairman running for the U.S. Senate there. That
could be a 1-2 knockout punch for the Democrats if Cain goes down and the
president loses Virginia. So, there`s a lot more behind the numbers that
does not bode well for this president. But it`s also, I believe, Reverend,
a cautionary tale for Republicans. Don`t take this glass of water and
drink it too fast because you could choke yourselves because the numbers
aren`t that great for you either.
SHARPTON: Now, Richard, look at the electoral map he`s talking
about. They are very close. There`s no reason for either side to kick
back because it is tight in some swing states. How does the president deal
with that challenge? How does the Democrats challenge in these toss-up
states, looking at this map that is very close?
WOLFFE: Well, we`re going to be looking at that map for a long time.
But look, if you look at that poll, you look at that poll, 17 percent of
the country says it`s only wrong track, right? And in that circumstances,
with the economy as bad as it is, this president is still six points ahead
of the most electable republican candidate there is out there. He`s six
points ahead of Mitt Romney. That`s the edge of the margin of error.
Herman Cain is only five points behind Mitt Romney. If Republicans can
only get up to a six-point difference at this point, then this president is
in a better position than people give him credit for him, frankly, a better
position than any president of any poll out there. So, it shows there`s
enduring strength for this president. It shows that these republican
candidates, especially Mitt Romney, have not broken through yet.
SHARPTON: I have to go. But I`ll tell you one thing, Richard, thank
you. And thank you Michael, I tell you Michael, what will help turn out,
at least in black areas, if I can get Ann Coulter on tour in those areas,
then I think she will help the president a lot. We`ll be right back.
WOLFFE: All right, Rev.
SHARPTON: Dr. Conrad Murray was convicted for one reason, he did not
take care of the patient. Murray`s lawyers tried to blame Michael for his
own death, over and over. They tried to paint the doctor as a scapegoat
who was only doing Michael`s bidding. Even if that were to be true, that`s
not what`s in question. Michael Jackson had a right to be protected and
Conrad Murray was paid to know better. Today`s verdict is a down payment
on justice and it should be a message to all doctors that it is not OK to
bend the rules and then ask for mercy if something goes wrong. In 2009, I
eulogized Michael, I spoke at his memorial. I said, among other things,
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: I want his three children to know, wasn`t nothing strange
about your daddy. It was strange what your daddy had to deal with. But he
dealt with it.
I came today, Mrs. Jackson, to say good-bye to Michael. I came to say
thank you. Thank you, because you never stopped. Thank you because you
never gave up. Thank you because you never gave out. Thank you because
you tore down our divisions. Thank you because you eradicated barrier.
Thank you because you gave us hope, thank you, Michael, thank you, Michael,
thank you, Michael.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: And even in death two years later, thank you, Michael, you
were the vehicle that had a jury stand up and say, even if we`re flawed,
even if they castigate us, we still have rights, we`re more than money
machines, we`re more than racehorses. We`re humans beings and people can`t
bend the law and bend their vows and their oaths and act like it`s our
fault if we have weaknesses that they exploit. Thank you, Michael. And
thank you for watching. I`m Al Sharpton. "HARDBALL" starts right now.
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