Guests: John Nichols, Frank Bruni, Natalie Foster, Jamila Bey, Michael Hastings, Dennis Derryck, Patrick Gaspard
CHRIS HAYES, HOST: Good morning from New York. I`m Chris Hayes.
Syrian activists tell the Voice of America that the military killed
at least 52 people in attacks across the country yesterday. "The Guardian"
newspaper is now reporting that Russia is open to Syrian President Bashar
al Assad`s departure but, quote, "not at the hands of external forces".
Right now, joining me today -- we have "New York Times" columnist
Frank Bruni, also the author of "Born Round: A Story of Family, Food and a
Ferocious Appetite"; Jamila Bey, reporter for Voice of Russia Radio and a
contributor of "Washington Post" blog "She the People"; Natalie Foster, CEO
and co-founder of Rebuild the Dream and formerly new media director for the
Democratic National Committee, possibly our first CEO at the table; and
John Nichols, my colleague at "The Nation" magazine and the associate
editor of the Madison, Wisconsin, newspaper "Capital Times," also author of
"Uprising: How Wisconsin renewed the power of protest from Madison to Wall
For the first time in 2012 campaign, Mitt Romney and the GOP
announced this week that they had raised more money, a lot more, than
President Obama and the Democrats. Romney campaigned, along with the
Romney Victory Fund, a joint account with the Republican National
Committee, said combined they had raised $77 million in the month of may
alone, that beat Obama`s and the Democrats May fundraising haul by nearly
Taken from the results this week from Wisconsin, where Republican
Governor Scott Walker survived a recall election partly by outspending his
opponent seven to one, the fund-raising numbers offer Democrats a glimpse
of their nightmare scenario for the fall campaign.
Conservative billionaires and groups poured money into the recall in
Wisconsin and Republican grassroots organizations flooded the state,
setting up 24 statewide victory centers, making more than 4 million phone
calls according to the Wisconsin Republican Party.
Along with Romney`s fundraising, Wisconsin has Democrats re-examining
Obama`s electoral strategy. Should they try to compete with Republicans in
the costly ad wars or should they focus on mobilizing likely Democratic
voters on the ground in key swing states?
Obama campaign senior adviser David Axelrod talked about the daunting
fund-raising gap on Thursday after Walker`s victory in Wisconsin.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DAVID AXELROD, OBAMA CAMPAIGN: We`re going to be the first president
to be outspent, not because of what Romney`s raising but because of the
super PACs. You have people like the Koch brothers, were just so active in
Wisconsin, saying they are going to spend $400 million to impact on this
race. That`s more than John McCain and the Republican Party spent in total
last time. That`s a source of concern.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: All right, money is one of the headlines coming out of the
week politically, both in Wisconsin and nationally. And there`s a lot of
debate, more debate than you would think about the role that money plays in
determining electoral outcomes, both in the political science literature
and among people that observe.
I`m curious, John, you know, having covered Wisconsin as closely as
anyone, how determinative that was seven to one margin?
JOHN NICHOLS, THE NATION: It was determinative but it wasn`t
determinative in the way that I thank you lot of people will analyze it.
One of the senses is you look at the money at the end, how money is spend
spent in the final stages of a campaign. Scott Walker`s money up front is
You know, Emily`s List used to say early money is like yeast that
meant that you can raise more money. Scott Walker always knew he would
have plenty of money. The critical thing was knowing allowed him to spend
huge amounts in November and December. And there`s this sort of meme
that`s developed now where people say, oh, well, the people of Wisconsin
didn`t like recalls. They didn`t like the recall because Scott Walker
spent millions of dollars in November and December and January telling them
the recall is a really bad idea.
HAYES: And that was his messaging, right? The messaging was all
about the recall as procedural tactics.
NICHOLS: I may have made some mistakes but don`t do this to me. And
by the time that a counter-message came up in May, I want to emphasize that
so you have got from November to May, we got to elect a Democrat, they
never came up with the recall is a good idea.
HAYES: Right. And there was no money on the air the other side in
that period essentially?
NICHOLS: It`s most amazing thing. Scott, who I have known for 20
years, would go on FOX all the time and he would say, oh, I`m being
battered, I`m being brutalized. I can`t -- you know, I`ve got -- it`s the
roughest thing I have ever seen. Send your money to scottwalker.com.
And you think, wow? A really rough situation for this poor guy. And
now, you know, I`ve been there in Wisconsin and I turned on the television
and all I saw was Scott. I never saw a counter-message.
NATALIE FOSTER, REBUILDTHEDREAM.COM: If you look at Ohio last year
where the policy issues, supporting unions, supporting collective
bargaining were actually on the ballot, we won. So I think that shows that
when people are able to debate policy in policy arenas, not via a
procedural maneuver, that we are in good shape.
HAYES: I wonder, though, if that ends up being -- I guess, Mike, to
press you on this seven to one margin, if that ends up being exculpatory or
an excuse, right, in Wisconsin or allows people to not look -- well,
directly -- here is Paul Begala. This is his tweet about the lessons of
Wisconsin, which is, "One, Wisconsin lesson, Dems must not allow the right
to outspend seven to one if we want to re-elect POTUS."
Do you think that is the main takeaway?
FRANK BRUNI, THE NEW YORK TIMES: I think it has to be one of the
takeaways. There`s never just one take away. I think that the Republicans
in Wisconsin did a great job framing this in terms of the whole debt
problem and impulse among a lot of people toward austerity. people in this
country are very concerned about whether we can live up to our financial
commitments. They are very concern about the deficits and the debt and I
think a lot of debate in Wisconsin was very smartly channeled in that
Here is Scott Walker, I am taking a stand against runaway spending,
against money we can`t afford to spend and I think that context is really
important as well.
HAYES: It`s also -- I mean, the degree to which the terrain is
shifting, we should be clear that a lot of the outside money group --
outside group money spent in Wisconsin wasn`t because of Citizens United.
A lot of it actually had to do with a loophole in the campaign finance law
of the state of Wisconsin, which was he could raise unlimited amounts for
this window, right, during a recall election.
NICHOLS: I think the best way to look at Wisconsin is to say that
every loophole, every new development, all came into play.
NICHOLS: Reince Priebus, the chairman of the Republican National
Committee, is from Kenosha from Wisconsin. He`s a failed state senate
candidate who now runs the national Republican Party.
HAYES: John Nichols talking trash.
NICHOLS: No, he is a failed senate candidate running the national
party. But he knows -- this was a desperately important fight for him.
Much more important I think for the DNC, for a variety of reasons. So he
brought everything to bear there.
And I think what`s important to understand is that a huge amount of
money came in on both sides. It was just so much more on the Republican
side, and the Republican money didn`t come in wait that people assumed it
assumed, they bought a lot of TV. They did have a lot of TV. Amazing
advantage on TV.
They also bought a lot of ground. It is vitally important to
understand that, you know, in the city of Racine, to give you one example,
working class town brutalized by the industrialization. In 2008, there was
a 72 percent turnout for Obama. In 2012, for the recall, it was 78
percent. They actually -- the Democratic ground game brought it up but in
the suburbs around Racine, it was 80 percent.
NICHOLS: The Republican --
HAYES: There was counter-mobilization. And this is one of the
things that why -- you know, Wisconsin obviously is a very specific set of
circumstances. I mean, generally as a rule, if you run an election and
then run the same election with the same candidate 16 months later, in the
absence of some massive world historical catastrophe, it`s not surprising
to get the same results, right? I mean, electorates don`t change that
much. Politics don`t change that much.
So, in that way, it wasn`t that surprising and we should be clear
what was contingent. But what it portends for what November is, what the
ground game, the combination of billionaire money in post-Citizens United
era, grassroots mobilization and activation from the Tea Party groups that
are still very organized even if you don`t hear that much about them and
then the coordination of all the mediating institutions of the right, which
are talk radio in suburbs of Milwaukee, some of the most conservative
suburbs of the north, that is what the game plan looks like for November.
Here is just to get a sense of how much the outside groups are
playing in the presidential arena, not just the regular election. These
are the number of ads aired by outside groups in 2012 versus 2008. May of
2008, outside groups aired 10,062 presidential campaign ads. May of 2012,
they had aired 123,062 ads, an increase of 1,123 percent.
Percentage of ads that are negative, in 2008, 25 percent of ads aired
by outside groups were negative. Interestingly, mostly were positive. In
2012, it is 86 percent.
So, that is the vision of what this campaign is going to look like.
BRUNI: It has been said many times already and I think it`s 100
percent accurate, this is going to be the nastiest presidential campaign we
have ever seen. And I think, you know, when we`re talking about the less
son was Wisconsin, what we saw here we should look at moving forward it is
how nasty it was.
I mean, we all read the stories about people not talking to each
other in the same household and neighborhoods. I mean, it may not be quite
that bad nationally but I think that is a preview of the kind of very
bitter partisanship that`s going to define the 2012 presidential.
JAMILA BEY, VOICE OF RUSSIAR RADIO: And the gender gap as well. I
mean, in women -- in Wisconsin, women went for the opponent. They went for
the recall. They are looking toward November to say we matter and our
And so, when you talk about the families not talking and those of us
who are friends with couples who are duking it out on Facebook --
HAYES: Right, awkward.
HAYES: Facebook does reveal the crazy politics of everyone you know
if ways that can sometimes be a little --
BEY: One of the thing you can`t really quantify or hasn`t been done
yet is the fact that women are saying, OK, you just wait. Oh, no you
didn`t. You just wait.
BEY: So, what role that means as far as women mobilizing and taking
to social media, taking to the polls. That`s a wildcard.
HAYES: As an organized group. I want to talk about that, because
the great accomplishment in 2008, the Obama campaign did, and, Natalie, you
worked on these sorts of things, was changing the composition of the
electorate. I want to hear from the folks running the campaigns.
We`re going to bring in DNC executive director Patrick Gaspard right
HAYES: I want to bring in Patrick Gaspard, executive director of the
Democratic National Committee and former office of political affairs in the
Obama White House.
Patrick, thanks so much for joining us this morning.
PATRICK GASPARD, DNC: Good morning, Chris. Great to be here.
HAYES: I guess my first question is how worried are you about the
We have been talking about the money here. We played a clip of David
Axelrod, one of the closest advisers to the president, talking about the
money. How worried are you about the money and what are you going to do
GASPARD: Well, when you`re running a national campaign, you always
have to be concerned about the resources that you have in order to get your
message out and to animate your activist. And clearly, as Axelrod noted,
we are going to be the first sitting president in the history of this
republic to be outspent by our challengers and that`s mostly a function of
the Supreme Court decision.
So, of course, one has to be concerned but also very encouraged by
where we stand now. Chris, we have over 2.2 million Americans who
contributed to this campaign and the last month alone in May, we raised $60
million. And we received money from 150,000 Americans who never
contributed to our campaign before.
So, while we are concerned by the outside spending from the super
PACs who are throwing 90 percent negative ads to try to misrepresent this
president`s record, conversely, we`re encouraged by all the amazing support
we are seeing from our activists across the country.
HAYES: I have read some conflicting things about small dollar donors
and you can view the small dollar donor numbers in two ways. Small dollar
donors, there`s a lot of people who gave in 2008 who have not give this
time around, which you can view as a negative or you can say there is a lot
of low-hanging fruit, there`s a lot of untapped resources there.
What`s your feeling about where small dollar donors are this time
GASPARD: Well, clearly, all Americans have gone through a very, very
tough period. We have all been focused on the bottom line, the economy,
jobs, making sure that we can pay for tuition for our children and take
care of our seniors. So, it`s only natural that folks have not been as
focused on the campaign this time as they were during the historic primary
But we are seeing slowly but surely, folks turning on shows like
yours and they are understanding exactly what the stakes are in this
election. They understand our president is trying to continue to grow the
economy and move us forward, while Mitt Romney tries drag us back to the
policies that got us into this crisis in the first place. And as they come
to that realization, they are giving more, they are going out and knocking
on doors, registering voters.
So, quite confident and convinced that the small dollar donors, who
were the lifeblood of our campaign in 2008, are beginning to tune back in
and providing the infrastructure that we need to be successful.
BEY: I have a question. I`m sorry to step over you.
In the same vein of the small dollar donor, looking at the fact that
Democrats have been outspent, looking at the fact that there are so many
people who look at Wisconsin as just such a demoralizing statement on --
well, I have but this might to give. I will always be outspent. My money
will always be outmatched. And then what is my role to play if I can`t be
a big player?
Is that going to hurt President Obama, just with the morale of those
otherwise who would seek to donate?
HAYES: That`s Jamila Bey, by the way, Patrick.
GASPARD: Everyone knows who Jamila is.
GASPARD: It`s great to see her and it was great to hear her talking
about the "oh, no you didn`t" constituency a little while ago. That`s
I will say, Jamila, that I believe that the million folks in the
Badger States who signed petitions a few months ago and then went out and
tried to pull out a vote for Mayor Tom Barrett, just an amazing elected
official, I don`t believe those folks are disheartened at all. And they
know that the infrastructure that they develop in that state will be for
out benefit come November 6th of this year.
But, clearly, folks are stepping back and they are taking pause when
they realize their candidate was just outspent by the tune of seven to one
in Wisconsin but more important just the spending ratio to look at who
actually was spending. When you appreciate that the Koch brothers alone
put more than twice the resources into that contest than Mayor Barrett was
a able to raise and spend, you have to ask a broader question, whether you
are a Democrat, Republican, independent, you have to ask a broader question
about what this means for our body politic.
So I think that one has to be concerned about that kind of influence.
But at the same time, the energy that we saw out in Wisconsin and the
message that was sent will continue to kind of permeate in the politics in
HAYES: That was definitely answered, but I want to just reiterate
this point that Jamila just said, because I think it`s really an important
one. There is a little bit of a dilemma here, on the one hand, the
campaign itself and myself as a journalist, because this is one of the most
important developments in this race, want to talk about the amount of big
money being poured in because you want to activate people to being aware of
At the same time, there is the threat of demoralization, right? The
idea it only further embeds people`s sense of powerlessness over the
direction of the country.
So, I think that is a really interesting point to sort of look at as
we go on.
FOSTER: Yes. I think, you know, one of the silver linings coming
out of this, no American household heard about Wisconsin without hearing
about money and politics. And we are very clear now how a post-Citizens
United world is going to look.
What`s the long-term plan for the Democrats to get money out of
GASPARD: Well, first, Natalie, let me just say it is great to see
FOSTER: You, too.
GASPARD: Natalie played a terribly important role, as one of my
former colleagues in helping to develop the infrastructure and the
platforms that we are using now to communicate to millions of Americans.
So thank you for all that you did.
And, Natalie, as you know, this president has been clear from day one
going back to his time in the state Senate in Illinois, to the U.S. Senate
term, to the U.S. presidency that we have got to do all that we can to
rebalance in politics and elevate the voices of average folks into the day-
to-day workings in Capitol Hill, which is why he`s lifted up a number of
reforms and have such a strong reaction to the Citizens United ruling.
On our side, we are quite confident just as in 2008, we had 13
million average Americans contribute to our campaign, we know that those
millions of voices are going to be there, providing resources for us again
but more important than just the checks that they write as you know,
Natalie, 98 percent of all of our donors participate at the rate of $250 or
less, which means that in addition to writing checks, they also are on the
front lines of our grassroots mobilizations.
People aren`t just writing checks to our campaign. They are going
out and knocking on doors, registering voters and persuading others. So,
while Chris notes perhaps a little demoralizing to some to hear about the
large number of money that were spent in Wisconsin, what we have found when
we talk to our activists, is that it actually strengthens their resolve to
be even more engaged and forceful in laying out the contrast between the
kind of small-d democracy that our president, and our party is trying to
HAYES: Patrick, you make a point that I think is worth repeating
just briefly, which is that, you know, in 2008, it looked like the small
donor revolution was possibly an alternative, right? A grassroots way of
dealing with the influence of big money in politics without regulation,
right? That it was just going to be the fact that the Internet and the
democratization of fundraising were change. Now Citizens United showed
there has to be legal statutory steps in the future.
John Nichols has a question for you. I want to talk about what this
electorate will look like compared to 2008 and 2010 right after we take a
HAYES: Patrick Gaspard joining us via satellite, head of the DNC and
the former political director in the White House.
John Nichols, you have a question for Patrick.
NICHOLS: Hey, Patrick. I`m interested in looking at the map coming
out of Wisconsin. We always talk about air war versus ground war. But
it`s quite obvious that Scott Walker, the Republicans, had an air war
What I`m also struck by is when you got to the ground war, it looked
like the Democrats had a very, very good ground war, they brought their
people out in the places they focused on extremely well. The Republican
had an equal ground war. They brought their people out in places they
But in the areas that were sort of beyond ground war, rural areas in
the western part and northern part of the state, they got a lot of TV, not
a lot of physical contact, counties that had voted for Mike Dukakis,
Clinton, Clinton, Gore, Kerry and Obama voted Republican. And it strikes
me that there`s something going into the presidential race that Democrats
have to start thinking about as regards how they communicate with small
cities and rural areas.
And I`m wondering where you`re thinking on that and how you approach
GASPARD: That`s great question, John.
Democrats have for some time been challenged in how they communicate
directly with rural America. Obviously, we did exceedingly well in a rural
turf and in urban turf in 2008 campaign. Fortunately for us, we have never
left those precincts. Between election cycles, we were out knocking on
doors and pushing message and communicating with voters on all the
important reforms over the course of the last years in in rural
Pennsylvania, rural Ohio, rural Wisconsin and other states.
So, there is an infrastructure that still exists there that we will
lean on the next eight months. If I could, I just want to push back just a
bit on the notion that somehow, their operation outclassed democratic
operation on the ground. I think it was you, yourself, in the prelude to
the interview with me who suggested that one of the reasons why voters in
Wisconsin had soured on the recall is because Republicans had such an early
start in their communications.
Before there was a Democratic nominee, before there was even a
Democratic primary, Scott Walker had been able to invest tens of millions
of dollars communicating to those very same rural voters in a conflict-free
zone. He didn`t have a competitor at that point where he was able to make
his case about the efficacy of using the recall method and to go to Frank
Bruni`s point earlier, he was able to also recast the conversation as one
in which he was standing up and defending average Americans from the debt
Now, I could do a whole other show on whether or not there was any
HAYES: We`ve done that actually.
GASPARD: But I think you can`t discount the months long head start
that he had in communicating with those voters, which will not be the case
as we headed to fall.
Mitt Romney and those who were in the Republican primary against him
spent millions of dollars burning each other down, running a scorched-earth
policy in states and having the kind of conversation that turns people off
from politics, which is why we saw fresh turnout in their primaries and
their caucuses. They weren`t the grassroots infrastructure and
mobilization that Natalie helped us build in 2008 and beyond.
So, they are not going to have that kind of an advantage in Wisconsin
or anywhere else in this country heading into the fall.
NICHOLS: Patrick, I`ve got too much respect for you to let you go
without addressing the rural component of that though. I think you spoke
about being on the ground in the precincts, but I`m very interested in a
core message. What do you say to these folks?
Because it has been very clear to me as I have covered the fights in
Ohio, in Wisconsin, and other states, that there is a necessary sub-message
or component of message that has to reach out to rural areas and small
cities and I did not -- I saw that in Ohio during the referendum fight last
fall, very, very effective. I didn`t see it as much in Wisconsin.
I`m wondering about this fall, what do you do? How do you -- because
that`s -- you look at your swing states, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan now
they are talking about Wisconsin, Iowa, a lot of rural there. And I don`t
necessarily see it being spoken to as effectively as needs be.
GASPARD: Well, John, I appreciate that you pressed the question and
gave me an opportunity to be a little bit more expansive here. Look, the
president actually has a great record when it comes to the needs, the
aspirations of rural voters. We all know that the formal economy is
actually expanding and job growth in those areas has been outpacing growth
in other parts of the economy.
And we also know that in those communities, the manufacturing base
has been a big part of helping to build and establish the middle class.
You know, John, that over the course of the last few months, from the
middle of 2010 to now, we have grown manufacturing jobs like by 500,000 new
jobs in this economy, a burst above 12 percent, which we have not seen
since the mid-1990s.
And in addition to that, even in the rural economy, folks are
dependent on the success of the automobile industry, which has an impact
all up and down the supply chain. And we know, just last month, Chrysler
posted a growth of 31 percent, Ford 13 percent, G.M., 11 percent. Trust me
HAYES: Welcome to the auto report.
GASPARD: John challenged me.
HAYES: Here, I want to give you a provocation about strategy here.
There is often attention in directing resources towards getting those swing
voters and independents who are true independents not leaning independents
and how you mobilize your base and change the electorate. I want to make
an argument for why the president should just forget about independent
voters right after we come in this break.
HAYES: All right. Patrick, I want to make this argument, which I
assume you are duty-bound to rebut. Here`s the case, a lot of political
conversation happened around independents. And there`s been really good
political science look at independents.
When you scratch the surface of independents, most lean independents
aren`t actually independents. Most of them lean one way and they call
themselves independents and behave like partisans.
So, the actual percentage of people that are actually independent is
much smaller than the percentage of people who call themselves
independents. And when you get down to that small group who are true
genuine independents, not leaners, those are the voters who are most moved
by macroeconomic factors, who are most likely to basically see an election
as a thumbs up/thumbs down, I`m doing well/I`m doing poorly, which means
they are the ones that are the most insulated from messaging.
So my point here is that it seems to that given the economic
situation of the country which is, at this point, largely outside of the
president`s control in terms of what the monthly jobs numbers will be from
here to election day, that`s with a Congress that won`t pass anything and
with Ben Bernanke sitting on his hands, that the real place that the
campaign must focus is in reworking the magic they did in 2008 to change
the nature of the electorate, to register voters to get out the base
because it is going to be very hard to control the main factors that are
going to persuade the true independent he is. That`s my argument.
GASPARD: You said so many things there, Chris.
Chris, first one thing. You know, this president has not given up on
the notion that working with Congress, despite all the obstruction, the Tea
Party folks, we can pass a jobs bill and put 1 million teachers, police
officers, firefighters, construction workers back to work. So, not giving
up on that. That obviously can have an impact on the jobs numbers this
year and beyond.
Let`s face it, Chris, there are true independents out there that
don`t lean one way or the other. You can see that in the data that was
mind coming out of the Wisconsin election, where Scott Walker won fairly
handily, but voters participated in that election gave Barack Obama a nine-
point advantage coming out of election day in that state. So, clearly,
there are true ticket splitters that exist out there.
And, furthermore, I would say for those independents, it is not just
a thumbs up/thumbs down verdict that they are rendering on the economy.
Fortunately for all of us in a democracy this is still a comparative
GASPARD: And I should have said this when answering John`s question,
but it`s not just a question of Barack Obama`s record, which I think is
robust and has really moved us from a period of crisis. But it`s also a
question of looking at what the other side is offering, what Mitt Romney is
offering to rural voters, to independents.
And I think when you step back and you look at his embrace of the
Ryan budget, when you look at his poor job performance in Massachusetts and
his poor record of outsourcing jobs when he was in the private sector, of
course, you`re going to step back, independents, Democrats, and Republicans
alike, and they`re going to look at where we have come from, where the
president is taking us, where he is pointing us toward and compare that to
the kind of race to the bottom that Mitt Romney and the Republican Party is
embrace right now.
And I think that independents, Democrats and Republicans alike, are
going to decide to stick to Barack Obama.
HAYES: A choice, not a referendum. Natalie Foster?
GASPARD: That`s right.
FOSTER: I think another important part of the electorate this year
is the underwater voter. I mean, there are, you know, one out of every
three homes in America is underwater. You drive down the street and one
out of every three are people who are living in homes that, you know, they
can`t afford. And that`s actually 40 million people, which is if you
expand that out, like 18 percent of the electorate.
We just launched a hope for homeowners campaign to -- as Congress has
the option now take on refinancing package that would allow homeowners who
are current to really renegotiate with banks. I mean, many of them are
paying upwards of 7 percent when that`s not the going rate.
I think there is a lot that can be done to focus on these voters, and
I`d love to hear, Patrick, what do you think the chances are of this moving
and what`s -- how do we electoralize the fact that Americans are feeling
GASPARD: Well, as Chris pointed out, we are severely challenged
right now by Republican leadership in Congress that would rather go out of
session and try to run out the clock on this election instead of helping
homeowners who are underwater and students who need their interest rates to
stay at a lower percentage and Americas need to go back to work.
So that is the conversation, Natalie, we need to drive hard on the
doors and on the ground in this election. The president has put forth a
number of common sense, bipartisan, used to be such a thing as
bipartisanship in D.C., common sense solutions that would get at the he
foreclosure prices that we are seeing it continue in places like Nevada and
And I think that voters, when they are made aware of the solutions
that the president is offering versus the obstruction from the other side,
that it`s going to occur to them that they`ve got to do something to break
-- break the fever of Washington, D.C., re-elect this president.
HAYES: And elect a Democratic Congress if they want fever broken.
Patrick, finally -- final question here, are the Republicans intentionally
tanking the economy for electoral gain?
GASPARD: Look, Chris, I would say this. If you look at the
pronouncements made by Mitt Romney and John Boehner and others in the wake
of the job numbers last month, showed we grew 69,000 jobs in the private
sector, it did seem as if there was inordinate cheerleading taking place
and does seem as if folks are attempting to sit on their hands right now
instead of moving forward to put Americans back to work.
So, I think that your viewers and all Americans need to impress upon
Mitt Romney that this is a leadership moment and he ought to be calling on
Republicans in Congress to pass the president`s measures.
HAYES: Patrick Gaspard, executive director of the Democratic
National Committee -- thanks for joining us. I really appreciate it.
President Obama under fire from the right and left over White House
leaks. That`s up next.
HAYES: President Obama on Friday was asked to respond to criticism
about apparent White House leaks behind highly detailed reports in the "New
York Times" and "Newsweek" on his secret kill list and a cyber attack on
Iran`s nuclear enrichment program.
Here`s some of what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: My attitude has been
zero tolerance for niece kinds of leaks and speculation. Now, we have
mechanisms in place where if we can root out folks who have leaked, they
will suffer consequences. In some cases, it`s criminal. These are
criminal acts when they release information like this. And we will conduct
thorough investigations, as we have in the past.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: With a growing drumbeat of complaints about the leaks from
both the right and the left, just a few hours after the president spoke,
Attorney General Eric Holder appointed two U.S. attorneys to investigate
possible unauthorized disclosures of classified material on the White House
and Congress. Holder did not specify which leaks but said in a statement
that leaking can, quote, "compromise the security of this country and all
Americans and it will not be tolerated," end quote.
And President Obama`s three-plus years in office, he`s prosecuted
more government officials under the 1917 Espionage Act than all previous
Joining us now is Michael Hastings, the author of "The Operators: The
Wild and Terrifying Story of America`s War in Afghanistan" and reporter for
buzzfeed.com, chief wildcat correspondent.
MICHAEL HASTINGS, ROLLING STONE: And "Rolling Stone".
HAYES: And "Rolling Stone". Yes. Yes. I think this story is
fascinating. I think the -- what`s happened essentially is we have gotten
a whole -- on one hand, I think what`s happened in the last few weeks in
terms of the revelations about these programs have been good for democracy
in the sense we should know what`s going on.
HASTINGS: There you go. There you go.
HAYES: Essentially, what`s being happen, a war is being conducted in
secret and we have gotten some blockbuster details about the nature of that
war who is running it and how it is being freighted and I think those
accounts have largely been favorable to the president because, one
suspects, most of that information disclosure is coming from people close
to the president, right?
HASTINGS: At least a significant amount seems to be, whether they
are confirming it -- we don`t know exactly who provided what details.
HAYES: Yes, obviously.
HASTINGS: Before we get into -- I just want to take a step back and
do a little thought experiment with your viewers, right? Let`s imagine --
HAYES: We love thought experiments on this show.
HASTINGS: Let`s imagine the world the last eight years without
leaks. We would not know about the drone program, we would not know about
enhanced interrogation, we would not know about CIA black sites. We would
know about the covert war in Iran, we would not know about all the things
critical to decisions we have to make as informed citizens.
So, what`s happening right now and right here is that, you have the
sort of perfect storm, you have the right, where McCain has been -- Senator
McCain the most vocal criticizing the White House and also on the left,
folks like myself, Glenn Greenwald, folks like myself who have also
criticized the White House for their sort of selective leaking and that
seems to have coalesced around this and just prompted this investigation.
HAYES: Is this the White House wanting to have it both ways, Frank?
You know, one level, they have been conducting essentially a secret war.
The problem from the political perspective of conducting a secret war, you
cannot get any political points from a secret war, so the way it seems to
square that circle is to let everyone know you are conducting a secret war.
BRUNI: That`s why I think there is so much suspicion about why this
leaking is happening. As he said there is criticism from the left and
right on this because there`s only one way to analyze these leaks and that
is that it`s coming from people who are supportive of the president and
think that these leaks and this information in particular makes him look
strong and good.
I think what John McCain said about this has a lot of resonance.
HAYES: Here`s Lindsey Graham making a similar point to his buddy
John McCain on the motives for the White House leaks.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: I don`t think you have to
be Sherlock Holmes to figure out what`s going on here. You`ve had three
leaks of intelligence that paint the president as a strong leader.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: One of the things I think is also interesting about this at
the same time that you`re getting -- that some of these program programs
the White House wouldn`t admit they were happening. This is also in the
context of years in which drones -- you know, you can`t hide a drone
striking people, right? The Pakistani press reports on it.
And any time that happens -- here is Jay Carney being asked about the
drone program. And this has basically been the line from the White House
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN: In the video chat, he acknowledged for the
first time the classified drone program. Why did he do that?
JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I`m sorry, can you be more
KRISTEN WELKER, NBC NEWS: President Obama said that drone strikes
have not inflicted huge civilian casualties. How can the administration be
so certain that there haven`t been a lot of civilian casualties?
CARNEY: I`m not going to acknowledge or confirm any of that.
JAKE TAPPER, ABC NEWS: The former director of national intelligence,
retired General Dennis Blair, said I believe yesterday that drone attacks
in Pakistan actually did more harm to U.S. national security interests than
good. Does the White House -- any opinion about these drones?
CARNEY: We believe our relationship with Pakistan is essential to
fighting terrorism and terrorists.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Jamila, a response to this that I want to get, right after
HAYES: Jamila Bey, you want to respond. We just played long montage
of Jay Carney being very dodgy just about even the existence of a drone
BEY: Right. For me, my question is, first of all, as a journalist -
- well, let`s get to the heart of the matter, let`s talk truth here. And
when he`s not willing to be forthcoming, it makes me step back and go, wait
a minute, are we actually dealing in issues of national security? Is this
you not wanting to look bad? Is this you wanting to put out the narrative
that President Barack Obama is the strong, fearsome leader who can level
terrorism with the stroke of his pen or whatever he so declares?
We don`t know that. And anything that`s going to make my job as a
journalist, get to the heart of these matters, and share that with the
American people, anything that makes that harder is a bad thing. So, my
hackles are raised about this way and I want to get in and really see us as
the fourth estate pushing back.
HAYES: And one of the things that I think is important to highlight
when we talk about this question is, Daniel Patrick Moynihan actually wrote
an amazing book about secrecy, and about the history of secrecy. He`s got
this line when he said, secrecy is a form of regulation. It`s a kind of
conservative libertarian argument against secrecy.
The history of government secrecy around national security is that
even if it begins with genuinely legitimate reason, for instance, wouldn`t
want the president to go, say, you know, the CIA is currently doing this
bit of espionage, right? It clearly places where secrecy is appropriate.
Because it`s such a powerful tool it is almost always overused and
it`s also used to keep things that are embarrassing secret, right? I mean,
that`s the point you made about the power of leaks in the Bush years.
NICHOLS: In a democracy, we should be concerned about things that
are done in our name but without our informed consent. What we`re talking
here with some of these that`s come out is not some huge national security
revelation. We are learning that President Obama watches videos, that he
engages in sitting around a table and has discussions about how to do
HAYES: How individuals -- these individuals will be killed?
NICHOLS: Exactly. It`s blunt stuff but it`s not troop movements in
And I think the really important thing to understands here and to not
lose sight of is Medea Benjamin has a great new book out about drones and
talking about the extent to which they are used, a lot of research in U.S.
and -- I mean, internationally and the U.S. And things we should be
talking about as citizens.
And if that`s where it`s gotten us, if that`s where we come, this is
a healthy thing. I worry that unfortunately what we`re going to end up in
is a political debate when we actually have gotten a little bit of
HAYES: Dean Baquet from the "New York Times" made this point, right
that essentially now we are having a discussion not about the substance of
the stories which have some very important and interesting revelations but
about the innovations --
HASTING: On Friday, we were talking about this on air on Alex`s
show, right after a phone call --
HAYES: "NOW WITH ALEX WAGNER," every day from Monday through Friday.
I got a phone call with someone in the administration who is very, very
sensitive to what we were saying on air. And it was just sort of surreal
conversation, we went back and forth.
And at the end, he`s like, look, we might prosecute -- like there
might be a case against Sanger, David Sanger, the reporter, that we might
be investigating all this stuff. And I said, I don`t want you to
investigate more reporters, I want to you lay off. This war on whistle-
blowers is totally crazy.
HAYES: You used the term "war on whistleblowers," the terms some
critics of the president have used to describe some of the tactics the
administration has used or the Justice Department has used in terms of
prosecuting those accused of leaking documents.
I want you to explain what that term means and defend the use of it
right after we take a break.
CHRIS HAYES, HOST: Hello, from New York. I`m Chris Hayes.
With me this morning, we have "New York Times" columnist Frank Bruni;
Jamila Bey from the Voice of Russia radio; Michael Hastings, author of "The
Operators: The Wild and Terrifying Inside Story of America`s War in
Afghanistan," and John Nichols from "The Nation" magazine.
We are talking about leaks. Attorney General Eric Holder announcing
that he has assigned two U.S. attorneys to look into leaks after a week of
recriminations on Capitol Hill about a series of stories, some of which
appeared in the "New York Times," about secret programs in the White House
and the Obama administration -- and you talked about this term of war on
whistleblowers, which has been invoked ready.
We mentioned at the top of this topic six people have been prosecuted
under the 1917 Espionage Act for leaking classified material, more than all
MICHAEL HASTINGS, AUTHOR, "THE OPERATORS": There`s been nine cases
in U.S. history since 1917, six of them have come in the first term of the
HAYES: Now, whistleblower has a very specific meaning, right? I
mean, in some cases -- I guess the point is, what is the intent of the
HAYES: And is there any place for prosecution of leaks ever?
HASTINGS: Well, I`m going to say -- I mean, I guess if someone is
revealing specific troop movements and there`s a direct correlation,
someone died because of it and it was top secret, shouldn`t have done it
say okay, maybe you want to look into it. I`m very, very pro-leak. I
mean, we all should be.
FRANK BRUNI, NEW YORK TIMES: Keeps us all in business, right?
HASTINGS: Exactly. I think one of the issues we have here is that
you have these lower ranking, midlevel to, you know, sort of upper midlevel
officials who are being prosecuted and then you have these guys who are
talking to Woodward, allegedly or probably, or these other sort of big-name
reporters and they are getting away from it.
And the problem suspect that the cases are going to be successful,
the problem is that it creates this chilling effect across the board. If
you uncover some nefarious program, reading our e-mail, open, wait, that
was uncovered and they were reading our e-mail, then you are not going to
be willing to go public with it.
HAYES: Right. And it creates costs for journalists who are engaged
in national security.
HASTINGS: They`re going through your e-mails, phone records.
JOHN NICHOLS, THE NATION: Well, because the question of -- you know,
is journalism stenography to power? We just go down and take down what
they say to us officially or do we try and dig into things? Do we look for
stories that are controversial and that are risky?
And the fact, much of what you have done controversial, it is risky.
It pushes envelopes. But it brings the American people into a discourse,
which they would otherwise be unfamiliar with, or kind of on the sidelines
And we are in the midst of a presidential campaign, I know there`s
politics on both sides of this, White House and McCain politics. But in
some fundamental level, citizens should know what is being done in their
name in a presidential election especially. That`s how we bring the
national security debate back under the control of the voters.
HAYES: Do you think the "New York Times" was manipulated in this?
One of the critiques that`s happening in terms of the reporting at your
paper is that precisely this issue that Michael raised, which is that when
it looks -- when you have accounts that appear to be quite -- make the
president look very strong and resolved while simultaneously thoughtful,
that there assumption that it`s coming from people closer to the president.
Ands therefore, the paper is essentially being used as a channel to
transmit essentially election year campaign.
BRUNI: Well, first of all, these stories can`t come from anywhere,
some of these stories, but from someone who is close to and supportive of
the president. That`s the only way the stories is going to come to you.
And then the question becomes: how do you play it?
Now, let`s talk about the kill list, which we agree was riveting.
That`s a story that actually when you are reading it, you can interpret it
two different ways. I think the people providing that information think it
did make the president look strong, decisive.
It`s important to remember the context here. This is a president who
really vigorously sold the anniversary of bin Laden`s assassination, who`s
got an economy that he can`t control, so he is trying to put more of his
chips on what he has been like as a foreign policy leader as he goes into
But if you read that story the way it was written by the people at
"The Times", who are superior journalists and aware of these dangers, I
think you can come away from that story thinking he`s really strong. Or
you can come away from that story thinking the guy who was so critical of
secrecy in the Bush administration is engaged in something that makes that
look like child`s play.
HAYES: And -- yes?
HASTINGS: We haven`t talked about this, political sort of reasoning
behind this too much. But, look, when Senator John McCain is out there
hammering Obama on this, I mean, clearly, a, he still hasn`t gotten over
what happened in 2008.
But also, like where was Senator McCain went 60-page classified
report about the war in Afghanistan was leaked a couple years ago that
supported his policy position? He wasn`t calling for an investigation.
HAYES: Right. Of course. And this is -- this is always the case in
Washington with leaks, which is that leaking is something terrible when
your opponents do it or information you don`t want out. And it is --
HASTING: Until it serves you.
HAYES: And this gets to a much deeper question, which is we have
seen amazing reporting. There`s a great "Washington Post" series that
turned into a book, called "Top Secret America."
HAYES: One of the things I think that`s really pernicious happening
in post-9/11 America, is that there is never an incentive in government to
do anything but create a larger catchment area of secrecy.
So, there is own downside risk. If you say we are going to stop
calling these things classified, everyone who works in the classified
system, this is from reporting, will tell you there`s too much
classification, things are overclassified, that is what Moynihan`s book --
BRUNI: That`s always the impulse in Washington.
HAYES: But there`s always that impulse and I think it`s been
accelerated after 9/11. I don`t see any way -- I mean, this is a really
deep question but what is the way, what incentives are there on the other
JAMILA BEY, VOICE OF RUSSIA RADIO: Well, let`s look at what
candidate Barack Obama was saying. He wanted to bring an era of
transparency to the White House. He wanted to let the American electorate
know what was happening, what was being done in their name. And he sort of
followed in the footprints of the administration before.
BRUNI: You can say one thing when you are on the outside --
HAYES: But let me also -- when people bring this up, my response is
to point to that, what to me was a key pivot moment, which was the
declassification, release of the OLC memos.
HAYES: He followed up on the promise that came out and the amount of
right-wing backlash. I mean, Dick Cheney was on every network talking
about how this was going to put people`s lives in danger. Now, it doesn`t
mean they were wrong to retreat from that, but there was a very -- there
was an early kind of punch to the face that happened, like in the prison
yard, that -- on this issues of secrecy I think had an effect on how they
HASTINGS: I mean, they did retreat, because there were photos about
Abu Ghraib that were supposed to come out, they decided not to come out. A
few months, ago, I sat down with the king of leaks, Julian Assange, when he
was on house arrest because Assange has a phrase for what he calls it
information apartheid, where you have this sort of like literally hundreds
of thousands of government bureaucrats have access to this information
probably shouldn`t be classified and they know more than the rest of the
public. So, Assange`s response to this growing secrecy was WikiLeaks, was
these document dumps.
That was one of the first huge scandals where we started -- leakers
were terrorists. This is a huge story.
NICHOLS: But here`s another response, why don`t we get a Congress
that checks and balances presidents?
HAYES: And this is really important. Congress has completely
abandoned the playing field on this issue except for when it`s politically
But I want to talk about the question of how can you change the
dynamics of the incentives for secrecy, after we take a break.
HAYES: How do we change this dynamic? You used a very provocative
term from Julian Assange, informational apartheid, which has ring to it.
What I find frustrating is the broadest possible context, we have less and
less privacy as individuals. More and more of our life is shared either on
social media or publicly accessible, someone can take an Instagram of you
and say, so and so is walking around with someone who is not his partner
and here it is on the Internet and put it on Facebook, and blowup someone`s
I have this conversation on the subway ride, that is now out there.
There these two trends, right? In one level, there`s less and less privacy
for citizens and more and more secrecy for the state.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right.
HAYES: And those two trends create, to me, a kind of dystopic vision
of the future, in which the only entity that can keep secrets, right, can
protect information and hold close information are the most powerful
players. And average citizens have the entirety of their life open to the
Internet and to corporation
And so, the question is: how do we reset those incentives toward
secrecy that drive the whole system in total. And we should say, it`s not
just the Obama administration in terms of continuity. I mean, Congress has
left the playing field. The courts tend to endorse a lot of secrecy when
national security argument, most times, they are differential of that. So,
there`s a totality of government has embraced this.
HASTINGS: There`s a bipartisan consensus behind this national
security state, the intelligence community is very powerful, the Pentagon,
the military community you the -- any of the communities that are
classified information are very powerful. And there is no -- I don`t know
if you can. I don`t think there is much of an incentive for any of these
bureaucracies to say, oh, yes, we want to keep things less secret because
of fear of embarrassment. Because like 99 percent of all the stuff is
classified to prevent embarrassment.
There`s actual study with a real figure.
HASTINGS: But there are actually have studies throughout the year
that looked at this stuff, especially looked at cases where government
officials would resist Freedom of Information Act requests and wasn`t
because -- mainly because of embarrassment, not because it jeopardizes
FRUNI: One of the problems is demand for less secrecy has to come
from voters. Because one of the problems here is we are all sitting around
saying we`d like to see less secrecy. I think voters trust the press
almost less than they trust the government.
NICHOLS: Let me bring in the entity they trust less, Congress. And
this -- why do we so distrust Congress? Why do we as an American people
distrust Congress? Because it is so definitionally useless.
It`s there. They are present. But at a moment like this, I mean, at
a moment like this, you think back to the 1970s, when the Pentagon papers
were bouncing around from newspaper to newspaper, from "The New York Times"
to the "Boston Globe," "Chicago Sun Times," everybody trying to get this
story out. And it was being shut down. The Nixon administration rushing
at midnight to tell editors to shut it down.
And the members of Congress, Democrats and Republicans, Mike Gravel,
Pete Miklowski (ph), called committees into session in the middle of the
night and started reading them into the congressional record. We had a
Congress that felt it had a responsibility to check and balance the
As our representatives it is just not there.
BRUNI: That`s totally true, I want to say before I leave it, we have
squandered some of our own authority, we are the ones demanding that this
information be shared and we are saying we can be trusted to talk about
this information, analyze it in a responsible way. We, in so many ways,
chase trivial stories, talk about things in trivial ways that I think we
squandered our authority in this argument. We are part of the problem.
HAYES: You mean the press?
BRUNI: We have to earn voters trust the way people --
NICHOLS: We can then that we live in a moment where the initial
check and balance on the executive has stood down Congress. Now the fifth
estate standing down, and this is the dystopic moment, you fear, Chris,
because where does the challenge come?
HASTINGS: The challenge comes from civil libertarians, people like
ACLU. I think that`s actually the only way. They have been pushing these
HAYES: Ron Wyden, for instance, senator from Oregon, has been pretty
good on a lot of these issues as well. He has been pushing for things, Jan
Schakowsky has been pretty good.
HASTINGS: Give our friend Ron Paul some credit. Very concerned
HAYES: That actually brings me to the final points, the Lindsey
Graham/John McCain taking to the microphone is blatantly political. But
you do wonder if you`ll see, I mean, there does seem like there should be
incentives for conservatives, for libertarian-minded conservatives of the
state, right, fearful of the state authority, fearful of the state access,
fearful that the government going to muck everything up, to be at the
forefront of this, particularly when they take a shot at a Democratic
president. I wonder if we are seeing this at all.
HASTINGS: You`d think that would happen more but that also clashes
with the general Republican idea, America has to have this robust foreign
policy, can do no wrong and we can`t even sort of question that.
The most incredible moment, when Senator John McCain is the only one
of the national debate bringing up Bradley Manning`s treatment, we are at
this weird, bizarre -- but no I think what you are saying is exactly right.
HAYES: All right. We`re going to switch topics from secrecy to the
world of food.
Michael Hastings, "Rolling Stone" contributing editor, thanks for
joining us. I really appreciate it.
The government`s involvement on what you put on your plate and in
your glass and whether that`s good or bad, when we come back.
HAYES: This week, first lady Michelle Obama joined the chairman of
the Walt Disney company, Bob Iger, for Disney`s announcement it is banning
from the children`s TV channels, radio stations and websites any
advertisements for foods that don`t meet Disney`s nutritional standards.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHELLE OBAMA, U.S. FIRST LADY: With this new initiative, Disney is
doing what no major media company has ever done before in the United States
and what I hope every company will do going forward. When it comes to the
ads they show and the foods they sell, they are asking themselves one
simple question. Is this good for our kids?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Not just private companies addressing nutritional issues. Of
course, New York City officials are still playing defense against critics
decrying the rise of the nanny state following Mayor Bloomberg`s
announcement of the city`s ban on sugary drinks larger than 16 ounces in
restaurants and movie theaters. On Thursday, New York City health
commissioner Thomas Farley responded.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. THOMAS FARLEY, NYC HEALTH COMMISSIONER: This has been presented
as being very heavy handed. This is providing default maximum value for a
portion. So, the way I look at it is not saying no to people, it`s saying,
are you sure? Do you really want that?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: I want to bring in Dennis Derryck, professor at the New
School for Public Engagement, and the founder and president of Corbin Hill
Farm, a farm he brought to grow fresh fruits and vegetables from the South
Bronx and back with us at the table, Natalie Foster, co-founder of Rebuild
the Dream, fresh produce here, a shot of that brought us to by Dennis from
Let`s talk about the soda tax first because what I think -- it gets
at a loaded and interesting issue.
DENNIS DERRYCK, CORBIN HILL FARM: Very much so.
HAYES: There is a whiff in it of this sort of the settlement house,
of late 19th century do-gooder, white progressives telling the people in
the inner city slums that you are living your life terribly, that you
shouldn`t be doing this and shouldn`t be doing that. And there`s a
reaction people have to that, looking at me skeptically, but a whiff of
BRUNI: I`m just looking at you skeptically, because I was listening
to Dr. Farley --I mean, this is such a tiny, tiny thing in the context of
the scope of the obesity problem and the childhood obesity problem and I
have been watching the reaction to this since it was proposed by Bloomberg
and Dr. Farley and I just cannot figure out what the hysteria is about.
The people being hysterical are not the ones whoever buy 32 ounces.
HAYES: That`s interesting. So, you think this is being ginned up?
BRUNI: Well, I think a lot of it has to do with reactions to the
mayor himself. He`s in his third term. He`s in a third term that he sort
of rewrote the rules to get, he has been a very activist mayor. He`s done
a lot of good things for the city, I think, I think a lot of people are
just responding to his power and his willingness to wield it.
DERRYCK: I would like to say when you think about it, it is just one
piece of the puzzle. Say the mayor has been very much served in terms of
what happened to the trans fat and getting that out of the restaurants, the
calorie count. Very few people realized he changed the nutritional value
of all the foods served in the government -- by the city government. So,
it has had a major impact not only on the elderly but even prisoners,
believe it or no.
BRUNI: The school vending machines.
DERRYKC: Et cetera. Et cetera.
When you think about this topic, you have to think about it -- I
think about it in a different way. I think about it in the fact we like to
talk about obesity and $1,400 per person but I put it in the context we
have some choices to make. Are we going to spend $4,100 a year in terms of
what we use for health costs and lost wages per person who`s obese? Who is
going to pay for it?
BRUNI: That`s right. Absolutely right.
DERRYCK: I think this is a conversation that we need to have.
BRUNI: Government steps in when an individual behavior, the behavior
of many individuals imperils everybody, or caused everybody a whole lot
does societal damage. That`s all that`s happening and this is actually a
pretty tiny step when you evaluate it in those terms.
HAYES: This is Mayor Bloomberg making more or less that point on the
"Today" show. I thought this is a good line, defending the sort of policy.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MAYOR MICHAEL BLOOMBERG (I), NEW YORK: We`re not banning you from
getting the stuff, it`s just -- if you want 32 ounce, the restaurant has to
put it in two glasses. That`s not exactly taking away your freedoms.
That`s not something the Founding Fathers fought for.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: A provision the bill of rights people don`t remember. And
this is an ad in the "New York Times" brought by the Center of Consumer
Freedom last Saturday, showed Mayor Bloomberg is an old woman, saying New
Yorkers need a mayor, not a nanny.
You live in Harlem, say for full disclosure, my father works for the
New York City Department of Health and works on these issues in east
Harlem. I`m curious, I think there can be -- what is the reaction in the
community you live in?
DERRYCK: My reaction, I take a look at something like East Harlem
bilingual head start program, the sign outside the school this is a sugar-
free zone. This is so different of statement of where people are coming
from in this particular community. And it sends a message we`re talking
about a message a Head Start programs to parents and so forth, about sugar
-- sugar-free, not drug-free zone but sugar-free zone.
And I think a lot of people who understand what that`s about, and
what the impact is on our children.
BEY: Particularly our children of color because when you look at --
between 20 and 25 percent of children entering kindergarten in New York
state are obese or overweight. I mean, there is an epidemic, something
needs to be done, all Mayor Bloomberg is doing is putting city policy in
line with what good public health policy is.
When you look at the rates of obesity, when you look at the rates of
what used to be called adult onset diabetes, remember that now, because 12-
year-olds are coming down, the rates of asthma, the rates of sleep apnea in
BEY: Something`s got to be done. American kids aren`t drinking milk
anymore. They`re drinking water when they can`t get to the soda fountain
soon enough. And we need to start changing the way things are acceptable
to do a trough of sugar water is not good for anyone.
FOSTER: I think that`s right. And I think, regardless if this
passes, good for the mayor, because now America is talking about soda and
the obesity epidemic. And David Frum, I love it when I agree with him,
said that he doesn`t think this campaign will be -- we don`t need something
like when we took on tobacco, where there`s just one choice. We actually
need something like the generation long campaign against highway
fatalities, the government rated the roads, rated cars and we had to make
personal behavior choices like seatbelts.
HAYES: Seatbelts and speed limits. There was a bunch of different
regulations, a bunch of different levels, looking at the public health date
data. I should say again, I disclosed the fact my dad works for it take it
with a grain of salt.
But the New York City Health Department has done remarkable work in
affecting a bunch of metrics about the public health of New York and the
healthiness of New Yorkers, they have been very data driven and very
empirical and very rigorous, and how they deal with everything, from
interventions, low birth weight babies, to things like diabetes, and
calorie counts, smoking, et cetera.
So, there has been real progress there and I want to talk about who
is on the other side of this fight, who is paying for the ad that makes
Mayor Bloomberg look like a nanny? Who is attacking Michelle Obama when
she is talking about healthier food? What this political battle over food
looks like right after this.
HAYES: One of the -- one of the reasons that the politics of food
and the way that our food system works and the health affects it causes,
vis-a-vis obesity, and other illnesses is so fascinating I think because
the solution does requires so many different moving parts.
DERRYCK: Quite a bit.
HAYES: As Natalie was just mentioning.
Tell us about the work you do. You have a farm and that farm -- use
that farm to distribute food in the South Bronx, if I`m not mistaken?
DERRYCK: We do we grow limited amounts of produce at that farm, I
will talk about that later, we actually right now, in the first year,
started with four farmers, second year nine this year, working with as many
as 15 farmers who have never, ever brought any of their produce into New
York City. A quick fact, less than 5 percent of all the produce grown
upstate ever ends up in this market aiding the people, OK?
HAYES: Less than 5 percent.
DERRYCK: Of what`s grown upstate. So, what we have been able to do
is bring together these farmers who have absolutely no access to the market
here, for one reason or the other, which we have aggregated the produce.
They are now growing for the low-income community and we were able to
aggregate that the first year, we served 200 people in the South Bronx and
Harlem, last year, 450.
Our first distribution this year will be next Tuesday and we have 801
people who have signed up.
HAYES: The distribution is -- is there a farmer`s market? Is there
DERRYCK: No, it`s not a farmer`s market. We in a sense represent
the farms in the farmer`s market, but we take it directly to 23 -- 26
different distribution sites. Wherever it is convenient for a community, a
group of people within a particular neighborhood, we set up a distribution
HAYES: And what is the food landscape like in the neighborhood you
are working in?
DERRYCK: Terrible. We, as a matter of fact, we do surveys every
week and it is interesting, because of the nine items that we on average
will give to our farm share members, usually we can only find six of those
items in the supermarkets or the grocery stores and in most cases, we find
that the prices are at least, for those six items, equal to if not greater
than what we charge for a share.
HAYES: Those items are?
DERRYCK: We talk about green he is and lettuce and starches and the
staples. So for instance, coming up, we will have something like potatoes.
We make sure we have carrots. We also include fruit in every single share.
HAYES: One of the things I think when you look at this sort of
initiative, at the macro level, the thing that has to change is a lot of
regulations, right? I mean, there`s got to be have to be ways that the
government changes the way that it interacts with the food system, the farm
bill, which is currently making its way through Congress.
I think there`s a really interesting story that "Reuters" told a
little bit about, about the way in which Michelle Obama`s initiatives on
this -- on this score have been pushed back at -- by big food, basically,
right? Because if you try to take on big food, more often than not, you
lose. That`s been the rule so far. Even small things, changes to
voluntary guidelines for school health nutrition, for instance.
How -- how uneven is the playing field in this policy area?
BRUNI: About as uneven as it can get. I forget what the figure s if
you just look at the advertising and marketing dollars that big food,
whatever you want to call it spends every year -- I mean, it`s phenomenal,
phenomenal amounts of money and there`s just no way a government can
really, financially at least, push back against that especially in these
times when we are worried about what we are spending.
But it`s not a fair fight.
HAYES: In the legislative battle over those voluntary grade lines
for school health nutrition, the public interest group spent about $70,000
lobbying, which is what big food spent in 13 hours during its --
FOSTER: And I think this is a big disconnect between D.C. and the
people. The farm bill is being debated and we are talking about how many
people will be kicking off food stamps, not the millions of dollars going
to big corporations or big food, that make plenty of food, just not the
nutritious food. The corn syrup --
BRUNI: All federally subsidized.
FOSTER: Exactly. And that is not being discussed as the farm bill
moves through Congress, instead, how many millions of dollars can we take
out of the food stamp program, which is the only way that so many people
DERRYCK: The particular loss of all the food stamps is really
significant, for instance, in New York city we are talking you about the
food pantries, 27 percent of the people who go to food pantries are
employed, 57 percent of that group, full time. And they need that kind of
New York City and I think lots of other communities, suffer from what
I call food charge poverty (ph) that no one has talked about.
HAYES: What does that mean?
DERRYCK: It means essentially we charge $15 a share per week, which
is very reasonable, equivalent, you have to pay about $23 for that in the
grocery store. Many people can`t afford the $15.
I can tell you a little anecdote. We have one particular person on
SNAP, every week, because we -- with us, you only have to pay one week in
advance. The third week of the month, she always puts her share on hold,
because she has run out of money. And the next week, she comes back.
And this just tells you the kind of things and how people -- not only
that it also tells you something very responsible about many people that we
don`t think about in terms of low-income people in terms of what they want
to spend their money on when they have availability to do it.
HAYES: I think one of the arguments, I mean, one of the ways in
which big food has pushed back against -- some of the stuff going on in
attempts to change the landscape, the policy landscape, the economic
landscape for healthier food is this idea of consumer preference, right,
that essentially this is telling people what they should and shouldn`t eat,
it`s getting -- here is the anti-soda tax commercial that was run by
Americans Against Food Taxes during the Super Bowl.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Feeding a family is difficult enough in today`s
economy. Now, some politicians want the government telling me how I should
do it. They want to put new taxes on a lot of groceries I buy, like soft
drinks, juice drink, sports drinks, even flavored waters, trying to control
what we eat and drink with taxes.
Give me a break. I can decide what to buy without government help.
The government is just getting too involved in our personal lives.
NARRATOR: Government needs to trim its budget fat and leave our
grocery budgets alone.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Wait. Wait. Wait. A lot of reaction to that I would like
to get to all of this, we`ve got to take a very quick break.
HAYES: Just played an anti-soda tax ad that got people at the table
I should note that I think in the 24 states that they tried. They
considered soda taxes, the food industry beat them back in every state.
The one state where it was passed, which was Washington state, they managed
to get a referendum on the ballot, next year, that defeated it.
So, it is very hard. Part of the reason I think, right, when you say
to people on something like this, you`re going to have to pay more money
for this item, it`s a difficult sell.
Jamila, you responded very strongly.
BEY: I love the Steelers. I will always watch football. And that
ad made me so angry when I saw it, because, here`s the thing, I`m a mom. I
want the government telling corporation what is they can and cannot put
into stuff that`s going to get into my body, going to get into my kids`
We don`t have a problem with the government helping to make sure we
are safer there and eating better and being healthier. The issue with that
ad, the government is trying to make it hard for know feed my family with
taxing, did you hear what the lady named? Soda, sports drink, flavored
Water tastes like water.
HAYES: Even flavored water.
BEY: When you`re trying to feed your family -- let`s talk about food
policy. When you`re talking about sugar and carbonated drinks. That`s not
a food. If the government wants to tax it a little bit more so that they
are not dealing with amputee ought 20 years old and what we see on the
horizon with public health, that`s not even the issue. The issue is
feeding your family, give them food.
HAYES: Let me just interject, linking soda consumption directly to
obesity and diabetes.
The data is not clear, right? There`s data that`s very clear about
the effect of sugar, there`s data about the enlargement and portion sides
and the effect of large amount of soda consumption.
BRUNI: You immediately get to this. It`s irrefutable that sugary
soda are a piece of the puzzle.
HAYES: Right, and people are drinking more calories.
BRUNI: What I find offensive, forget about taxes, not sure I`m fan
of soda tax, per say. But she says I don`t need the government telling me
what to put in my body or what to put to my kids` bodies.
What does she think the soft drink industry is doing with billions
and billions and billions of ads?
BRUNI: She is being conditioned, she is being brainwashed,
essentially, to want those products. Somebody is telling her what to put
in her body and it is the soda industry.
DERRYCK: When I look at that ad. I look at the entire supermarket
and I think of my community and I say to myself, my God, she`s got choices,
she can make bad choices. We don`t have a choice.
In our community we don`t have the opportunity to make good choices
because the access isn`t there. Most items are just not there.
BEY: When you can suck down in liquid a day`s worth of calories for
2 bucks or 3 bucks before you start chewing, there`s a problem. There`s a
problem. We need to start thinking differently it.
HAYES: I was at a friend`s house last night and, you know, in
Brooklyn and he had the original Coke bottles, which they sell in some
Brooklyn super markets and they are 4 1/2 ounces or something I want to
say, 6 1/2 ounces.
BEY: Six and a half.
HAYES: So small, that was, of course, was a portion. That`s part of
what we have seen over the --
BRUNI: I`m really glad you use the word portion, because there`s
been ban a lot of interesting stuff what is different for us today than 20
years ago when people weren`t as fat? And it`s not so much exercise or a
lot of the other things we focus on. It is how much we eat and the
expected portion size.
And what I love about what Bloomberg and Dr. Farley did is they went
right at portion size them said 32 ounces is ridiculous. I think it is not
a specific measure. It`s a metaphor that`s really important.
HAYES: It`s interesting when you note the exercise and calorie
because there`s -- the traditional way of understanding, there`s input and
outputs and two sides of the ledger in terms of obesity.
One of the things we have seen is a shift in emphasis in Michelle
Obama`s campaign from food, from calories to exercise. And I think part of
that, people drew the inference is partly because there is no industry on
the other side that`s telling people to exercise. In fact, one of the
things about big food --
HAYES: One ways the couch industry comes up with ads --
DERRYCK: As a matter of fact, I think it`s really critical what she
has done. And that is that she`s looked at food as preventive medicine but
also included exercise. Not very often do you hear the whole concept, that
it`s not -- food is necessary but not sufficient. That we need the other
side of the coin, which has to do with the exercise.
HAYES: Dennis Derryck, president of Corbin Hill Farm -- thanks for
joining us. Thanks for bringing some delicious fresh produce.
DERRYCK: All from Schoharie County and the tray itself is the shape
of the county.
HAYES: Oh, wow. Gorgeous, we`re going to enjoy some strawberries.
DERRYCK: OK, thank you.
HAYES: What we should know for the week ahead, right after this.
HAYES: Just a moment, what you should know for the week ahead a
quick personal update. You may have heard me say before, I have a book
coming out on Tuesday. It`s called "Twilight of the Elites: America after
Meritocracy." It`s about the crisis of authority in American life and the
national mood of distrust of our pillar institutions. Something we talked
about today. It`s available for preorder at online retailers.
The update is that I`ll be doing book events in New York City this
week. On Tuesday, I`ll be doing a reading at the Upper West Side Barnes
and Noble here in New York, and, on Thursday, we`re doing an event at the
new school. I`m also doing other appearances around the country. You can
find them at facebook.com/Twilightoftheelites/events, or in UP WITH CHRIS
HAYES Web site. I love to see you there.
And if you`re not even able to make it in person, I`ll be doing a
video chat on Wednesday, at noon Eastern Time. I`ll be taking questions.
For information about how to join in, go to Up.MSNBC.com.
So, what should you know for the week coming up?
You should know that Attorney General Eric Holder has assigned two
U.S. attorneys to investigate leaks of classified information after the
"New York Times" reported details of the Obama administration`s program of
targeted killing in its attempts to disrupt Iranian nuclear programs using
You should know the article raised a great hue and cry from
Republican. But you should know also that the GOP didn`t seem to care when
it was the Bush administration pushing out leaks to further its case for
war with Iraq.
You should know while official secrecy is surely necessary in some
instances, the history of secrecy in and the national security state shows
that secrecy tends to metastasize, to grow and spread until it covers much
of the knowledge about what it is our government is doing.
You should know that oversight and democratic accountability are
impossible unless we know what exactly our government is doing in our name.
You should also know that one of the lessons we learned from the Bush
administration is that if we only get information about the government`s
activities through leaks from the government itself, they are likely to be
You should know the Obama Justice has charged six government
officials with leaking classified material, more than all other previous
administrations combined. And you should know we`re heading towards a very
strange world, which individuals are without privacy, but the state can
maintain secrecy at all costs.
You should know that the Senate voted on Thursday to begin debating a
farm bill that is expected to cost almost $1 trillion over the next 10
years. You should know that since 1995 -- this is really important -- just
10 percent of subsidized farms, usually the industrial scale wealthiest
ones have received 74 percent of all subsidy payments.
We should know the current bill cuts $4.5 billion over 10 years from
the food stamp program.
You should know that Democratic New York Senator Kristen Gillibrand
has introduced an amendment that would restore that cuts to nutrition
programs like cutting subsidies to crop insurance companies. While fewer
that 2 percent of Americans directly engage in farming, all of us need to
eat. So, it`s probably a good idea to pay attention to details this is a
one of handful of bills that will actually pass Congress this year.
And finally, you should know this brilliant tribute to Mr. Rogers
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MISTER ROGERS: Do you ever imagine things, are they scary things?
Do you ever imagine things, things you`d like to have? Did you ever see a
cat`s eyes in the dark, and wonder what they were, what they were? Did you
ever pretend about things like that? Did you ever grow anything in the
garden of your mind in the garden of your mind? You can grow ideas in the
garden of your mind. You stood to be curious about many things. You can
think about things and make believe, all you have to do is think and
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: That was created by symphony of science`s at PBS digital
studios. It makes me nostalgic. Of course, we try to grow things from our
garden of our minds every week here at UP WITH CHRIS HAYES.
John Nichols of "The Nation" magazine is back with us at the table.
I want to find out my guests think we should know. Let`s begin with you,
Mr. Frank Bruni.
BRUNI: I`m still reeling from the purple cardigan. It will take me
a while. You should know that the Greek elections are coming up, again. I
believe they are a week from today.
And I mention it today because we talked about the upcoming
presidential election, the importance of big money and all that. To a
large extent, and both the Democrats and Republicans, Obama people, Romney
people know this, the way the election plays out, has to do with the way
the economy plays out over the next couple of months, beyond anyone`s
control. And a lot of that has to do with Europe.
Pay a lot of attention to Europe in the coming weeks, as the Spanish
banks get their bailouts. As the Greek gets ready to go to polls again.
This is a lot of what`s going to happen in November 2012 is going to be
dictated by what happened.
HAYES: Thousands have agreed. We have been talking about it a bit
on the show. It is really true. The fate of Barack Obama, particularly
his political fortunes lie largely with the bureaucrats and banks and
voters of --
BRUNI: The other side of the pond.
HAYES: Jamila Bey?
BEY: Mr. Rogers, go Pittsburgh. That`s where my childhood legacy.
And Daniel Striped Tiger`s neighborhood is coming up in the fall. So more
Mr. Rogers fans.
This week, you should know, coming up is the National Association of
Blank Journalists Convention. That`s a little more than a week away. But
looking at getting news no more people, particularly in wake of the "Times
BEY: -- announcement that they are only going to a three-time-a-week
publishing cycle, looking at the way the news changes and the convention
happening in New Orleans. So, a lot of news about the business of news,
and about the way people receive news. And, you know, those of us who are
journalists what we can be doing in the future that will come up.
HAYES: I`ve heard that`s a really great conference. I think in
Philadelphia last year if I`m not mistaken, and folks should check it out
in the industry.
BEY: Oh, absolutely.
HAYES: Natalie Foster, what should people know?
FOSTER: That in 19 days, if Congress doesn`t act, student loan
interest rates will double. This is coming at a time when students are
graduating and to the worst job market that we`ve seen in decades. Student
loan debt is at the $1 trillion nationwide, more than credit card debt that
we have in this country.
This is the next big bubble, when this bursts, we are in big trouble.
This whole generation is in big trouble. And they are angry and they vote.
When they stood up in 2008, you saw what happened. When they sat down in
2010, you saw what happened.
I think this will be a very important issue this year and this week
as Congress figures it out.
HAYES: Nineteen days, there`s a "don`t double my rate" hashtag that
I`ve seen on Twitter, and there`s been a lot of mobilization. Rebuild
American Dream has been working on that and a bunch of other groups.
People should definitely stay tuned for that.
John Nichols, what should people know?
NICHOLS: They should know that Chris Hayes has a darn fine book
coming out. I`ve read it and very excited about it.
But you should know that just the other day, the National Trust for
Historic Preservation put out a list of most endangered buildings in
America. And on that list for the first time ever, all of America`s post
offices, because the federal government continues to nickel and dime and
undermine our postal service, for reasons that have nothing to do with the
dysfunctional postal service, everything to do with dysfunctional politics
and we`re talking now about preserving these buildings that are central to
We ought to be talking about preserving the institution that is
essential to public life.
HAYES: We`ve talked about the post office on this show. It`s a
topic I do want to revisit. It`s a big one. It`s something -- it`s a
shared public universal civic institution that is at the center of a lot of
people`s lives and also something that is increasingly rare in this
outsourced privatized world we live in.
I want my thank my guests today, Frank Bruni, author of "Born Round",
Jamila Bey from the Voice of Russia Radio, Natalie Foster of Rebuild the
Dream, and John Nichols from "The Nation" magazine -- thank you all.
And thank you for joining us. We`ll be back next weekend Saturday
and Sunday at 8:00 Eastern Time. We`ll have Enron whistle blower, Sherron
Watkins, anti-corruption crusader Larry Lessig and more. Join us for a
special discussion of some of the themes in my book, "Twilight of the
Coming up next, "MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY." On today`s "MHP," New York
City stop and frisk policy is coming under increasing criticism from
citizens of the five boroughs, for a big march planned. Melissa has got
Reverend Al Sharpton and a panel of teenage boys at the table to discuss
And the segment I`m definitely going to be watching and talking notes
on, the politics of black hair. Melissa is in the background waving her
hair. She`ll be responding to viewer mail. People are curious about her
hair and there`s a whole lot to talk about on that topic. That`s "MELISSA
HARRIS-PERRY" coming up next.
We`ll see you next weekend here on UP. Thank you for getting UP.
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