PoliticsNation, Thursday, December 13th, 2012
Read the transcript from the Thursday show
December 13, 2012
Guests: Martin O`Malley; Nicholas Burns; Gwen Moore; Joan Walsh, Ed Rendell, Krystal Ball, Yusef Salaam, Kevin Richardson, Raymond Santana, Korey Wise, Sarah Burns
REVEREND AL SHARPTON, MSNBC ANCHOR: Thanks, Chris. And thanks to you
for tuning in. I am live tonight in Atlanta.
Tonight`s lead, breaking news. Our ambassador to the U.N., Susan Rice
has withdrawn her name from consideration as the next secretary of state.
It comes after weeks` long witch hunt from top Republicans over statements
Rice made following the attacks in Benghazi, Libya.
Ambassador Rice appeared on the Sunday shows after the tragedy saying
the attacks began as protests that were then hijacked by extremists.
That`s what the CIA believed and even told her in an intelligence briefing
given to her that very day. Yet, John McCain and others launched a
campaign to smear her and block her for moving to the state department.
President Obama defended rice on numerous occasions, but accepted her
decision today with regret. Just a short time ago, she explained her
decision to NBC`s Brian Williams.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SUSAN RICE, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO UNITED NATIONS: Today, I made the
decision that it was the best thing for our country, for the American
people, that I not be considered for nomination for secretary of state. I
didn`t want to see a confirmation process that was very prolonged, very
politicized, very distracting and very disruptive because there are so many
things we need to get done as a country. And the first several months of a
second term president`s agenda is really the opportunity to get the crucial
thing done. We are talking about comprehensive immigration reform,
balanced deficit reduction, job creation. That`s what matters. And to the
extent that my nomination could have delayed or distracted or deflected or
maybe even some of these priorities and possible to achieve. I didn`t want
that. And I`d much prefer to continue doing what I`m doing, which is a job
I love at the United Nations.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: Ambassador Rice will not be secretary of state. But she is
keeping her current job and may eventually even expand her role in the
Obama administration, despite these attacks from her critics.
Joining me now is ambassador Nicholas Burns, former undersecretary of
state and ambassador to NATO. And, Governor Martin O`Malley, Democrat for
Maryland and co-chair of the health and security committee at the National
Thank you both for coming on the show tonight.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I thank you.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you.
SHARPTON: Now, ambassador Burns, you had a distinguished diplomatic
career, working for Democratic and Republican presidents. How do you
explain what happened today?
AMBASSADOR NICHOLAS BURNS, FORMER UNDERSECRETARY OF STATE: Well, I
think it`s very unfair what happened to Ambassador Rice. You know, she has
all the qualities that one would want in secretary of state. She`s smart.
She`s very tough-minded. She has a lot of experience at a high level
serving as ambassador of the United Nations.
And really, over the last 20 years as she began working for President
Clinton on the national Security Council staff, which is where I first met
her, she served at a very high level of distinction. And, in my view,
would have made a very fine secretary of state. So, it`s a shame that the
process had to unfold the way it did. But it is very good news. I think
that she`s willing to stay on at the U.N. whereby all accounts, she`s
really represented us very well and very effectively.
SHARPTON: Now, ambassador, let`s be real clear. What happened that
day was that Ambassador Rice went on several Sunday morning talk shows and
told the nation what, in fact, she was told by intelligence sources that
day and repeated what she was told.
BURNS: And that`s really the way most administrations including
Republican administration`s work. You need to have a unity of people
speaking in public. You don`t want to have people speaking across from
each other. And what happens before those Sunday shows, Al, as you know
very well, is that people agree on talking points. What should the
officials say on major issues. Had any other senior administration
official been out that day, five days after Benghazi, they would have more
than likely said what Ambassador Rice did.
So, I never thought it was fair to say that she should have sole
responsibility of that. She did not have line of authority for security
for our consulate in Benghazi. That wasn`t her job as ambassador at the
United Nations. And I thought giving her the outs, as I just said, and
giving her very good service in the Obama administration, I really thought
that she was qualified for this.
SHARPTON: Governor O`Malley, this, as the governor said, wasn`t even
in her portfolio. President Obama said today in a statement while I deeply
regret the unfair and misleading attacks on Susan Rice in recent weeks, her
decision demonstrates the strength of a character and an admirable
commitment to rise above the politics of the moment to put our national
Now, you and I certainly may admire what she`s done and say that it is
certain that it is certainly showing a stateswoman-like quality. But it`s
certainly an outrage that they would do this unfairness to her, governor,
and may never address it to those who never had it in her purview and never
step forward and corrected it if they felt it need correcting.
GOV. MARTIN O`MALLEY (D), MARYLAND: Well, I think, sadly, Ambassador
Rice was a target of opportunity for a party that tends to spend a lot more
time and a lot more energy on obstruction and preventing things from
happening than they do in constructive ways.
So I think her statement was very, very magnanimous. I think she
showed the true content of her character. And I believe that she`s going
to continue to serve our country. But I do think it`s a sad day for the
public when these sorts of falsehoods and unfair attacks can tie up a
Senate confirmation process that allows any one or two or small cabal of
Senators to bring the public to a screeching halt.
SHARPTON: Now, is it not usually understood that foreign policy
should be more bipartisan? And that some of these things when we`re
dealing with issues like this should be above the policy party bickering,
O`MALLEY: That`s what you would hope. I mean, look. I think all of
us would like to know what happened in Benghazi and also, what we can do
differently in order to prevent such attacks in the future. But this is a
very dangerous world. And, in this case, this incident was unfolding and
being investigated at the same time that ambassador rice was on the Sunday
show. So I think, especially, as we go back and unpack Benghazi, I think
it`s important that we rise above politics and we focus on how we can best
protect our men and women and who are serving us abroad and many of them,
I`m sure, Republicans, Democrats and independents.
So, this is much bigger than any partisan politics. But, sadly, the
Republican Party still hasn`t gotten the message of this last election. I
mean, people want their representatives to focus on the things that make us
safer, that make us economically stronger, that grow our economy and
strengthen our middle class.
SHARPTON: Ambassador, you have served under Republican and democratic
administrations. Is it not your experience that, usually, we strive to be
a little more bipartisan when you`re dealing with foreign affairs,
BURNS: And that`s been the aspiration for a long time in American
foreign policy. We don`t always meet the goal, as the governor has said.
But foreign policy is a place that we`ve got to come together and both
political parties certainly do. And the agenda is a very, very challenging
one for President Obama. Everything from the Afghan war, how do we get out
of Afghanistan, to making sure that Iran does not achieve a nuclear weapons
capability, dealing with a North Korea threat, dealing with the Arab
revolutions. Do we intervene or not and some fashion in Syria.
So, these are the issues that the next secretary of state has to deal
with, along with President Obama, working for President Obama, obviously.
And that`s really where our focus should be. And it`s been just a tragedy
that we`ve now spent three months focused on these questions about Benghazi
where there was an official commission, an accountability review board
designated by Secretary Clinton to be the official -- to ask the questions
in an official way for the U.S. government. That group is just about to
report its findings. And Secretary Clinton will be asked to testify next
week before the Senate and the House. I really wish we`d been able to deal
with issues, not these false controversies on the last couple of months.
SHARPTON: I certainly agree on that, Ambassador.
And governor O`Malley, even today, her strongest critics, McCain,
senator McCain, senator Graham, senator Ayotte. It says at one hand, they
praise and they still take a shot before they can finish praising them.
Senator McCain, thanks Ambassador Rice for service.
Senator Lindsey, I respect a Ambassador Rice`s decision.
Senator Ayotte, I appreciate her commitment to public service.
Next sentences almost, McCain, I will continue to seek all the facts
Senator Graham, the White House and other agencies are stone walling
Senator Ayotte, concerns regarding Benghazi go beyond any one
individual. They can`t even be magnanimous in the face of such states
woman ship that was demonstrated by this ambassador, Susan Rice, today,
O`MALLEY: Yes, it`s hard for them. I mean, the Republican Party has
twisted itself in the sense of a corkscrew state that they`re just having a
hard time right now as a party. It would be great if the party of Lincoln
would reemerge and take control of what`s been made of the Republican
We have very serious issues to grow our economy, to strengthen our
middle class. And these Republicans, both in the Senate in this case and
Republican governors tend to focus their efforts on rolling back women`s
rights, rolling back workers rights, rolling back voting rights. Instead
of focusing on the things that make us safer and more secure and it grow
our economy and strengthen our middle class.
People, I think, are not going to be very forgiving of this. And I do
believe that what they see and what`s happened in Michigan with the passage
of right to work, so-called legislation, really the right to work for less.
And now with forcing a very qualified and competent woman out of contention
for secretary of state. It paints a pretty unpleasant picture for the
future electoral prospects of the Republican Party.
SHARPTON: Ambassador Nicholas Burns and Governor Martin O`Malley,
thank you both for your time tonight.
O`MALLEY: Thank you, Reverend Al.
BURNS: Thank you very much.
SHARPTON: Coming up, the far right`s witch hunt against Susan Rice.
What was it really all about?
Plus, breaking news at this moment. John Boehner is meeting with
President Obama at the White House. We have new signs today that the GOP`s
support is crumbling.
And they called it the crime of the century. Five young men convicted
of a heinous assault in New York`s central park. The only problem, they
didn`t do it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Once a juvenile is broken down, you can basically
tell him anything, you know. And, you know, they fed me the names.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: My interview with the central park five, a powerful story
of injustice and fighting for what`s right.
You`re watching "Politics Nation" on MSNBC.
SHARPTON: More on Ambassador Susan Rice`s decision to withdraw her
name as secretary of state. It`s a loss for the country. That`s next.
SHARPTON: Susan Rice announcement toad comes after months of
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: Select committee. If appointed,
clears you of any wrong doing, besides not being very bright because it was
obvious that this was not a quote "flash mob."
SEN. KELLY AYOTTE (R), NEW HAMPSHIRE: How could we -- where we are
right now -- be able to place our trust in her.
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: I don`t trust her. And the
reason I don`t trust her is because I think she knew better. And if she
didn`t know better, she shouldn`t be the voice of America.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: Not very bright? Didn`t trust her? These attacks were
ugly and openly partisan. In our letter to President Obama, Ambassador
Rice addressed her critics saying quote "the position of secretary of state
should never be politicized. I am saddened that we have reached this point
even before you`ve decided who to nominate. We cannot afford such an
irresponsible distraction from the most pressing issues facing the American
people. With but these Republicans didn`t care about distractions. They
were simply playing politics.
Joining me now is Congresswoman Gwen Moore, Democrat from Wisconsin.
She was a staunch supporter of Rice amid the Republican criticism. And
Joan Walsh, editor at large of salon.com and an MSNBC political analyst.
Thank you both for being here tonight.
JOAN WALSH, EDITOR-AT-LARGE, SALON.COM: Thank you, Reverend.
GWEN MOORE (D), WISCONSIN: Thank you, Reverend Sharpton.
SHARPTON: Congresswoman, what is your reaction to Ambassador Rice`s
MOORE: I can tell you, I`m saddened. I`m enraged. This was always a
fabricated, trumped up allegation. This, you know, not very bright.
There`s not enough time on this program to walk through her tremendous
accomplishments over the last 20 years in public service.
I think that the Republicans see an opportunity to have Senator Kerry
appointed as secretary of state. And be able to run a special election off
cycle to be able to -- to win John Kerry`s seat in Massachusetts.
As you might remember, President Obama sort of blew Romney away in
Massachusetts, 60 percent to about 39 percent. And it was a little bit
closer with the Elizabeth Warren brown race, 56 percent to maybe about 43
So, all throughout these trumped up charges of her not being very
bright and trustworthy, they always ended every sentence with but you know,
Senator Kerry would be a, you know, confirmed without a hitch. So this is
about his partisan as we have seen Republicans.
SHARPTON: Now, Joan, the congresswoman raises the politics of it,
which I want to discuss. But it was very personal, very ugly. A source
close to Susan Rice tells the "Daily Beast" this week that it has been
vicious, says a Rice loyalist who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
There is a strain of sexism in these attacks.
And when you look at them saying she`s not very bright, look at her
background. 2009 until now, U.S. ambassador to the U.N. 2004, foreign
policy advisors to the John Kerry campaign. 1993 to 2001 in the Clinton
administration. She`s a road scholar. A PhD. from Oxford University. I
mean, to say she`s not bright is just absolutely outrageous.
WALSH: No, I mean, Reverend Al, the body language when they talked
about her. Lindsey Graham saying I don`t trust her. It`s so personal.
It`s very deep. It`s very, very disturbing.
And it`s also deeply political, you know. John McCain is a terribly
sore loser. Susan Rice said some things in 2008 defending her candidate
for president. He`s never forgiven her.
Lindsey graham, all the man cares about is fighting off a tea party
challenger. And so, he gets to go back to South Carolina and he gets to
say I thwarted the president, the newly-reelected president, and I took
down a wonderful African-American woman.
I have to say, I don`t know that they`re deliberately putting race in
the equation, but maybe there`s something unconscious about it. But a lot
of the people who have been targeted in the situation, Eric Holder, Van
Jones, Liza Johnson, Shirley Sherrod, Susan Rice, have been African-
Americans. I don`t know how it works out that way. But it has and I feel
like I have to point to it.
So, it`s a sad day. Susan Rice will be fine. She is a brilliant
woman. She is going to go on and do great things for the country. But
we`ve lost a public servant. And the president has been thwarted. And I
think this bodes terribly for the supposed, new bipartisan cooperation that
we`re all supposed to hope for. I don`t see it coming.
SHARPTON: Congresswoman, and we`ve also seen a blatant double
standard. In November, Matt Lauer, he con fronted McCain about why he
stood up for Condoleezza Rice after a mass of intelligence failure in 2005.
Let me show you both the question and the response and get you to give me
your view on this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MATT LAUER, HOST, TODAY SHOW: You said opponents Condoleezza Rice
were expressing sour grapes after an election loss. Why is this different?
MCCAIN: Because every intelligence agency in the world, including the
British, believe that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. That was an
entirely different situation.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: So, when the intelligence believed there were weapons of
mass destruction that were not there, it was fine because they believed it.
But when they give Susan Rice talking points that they believe to be true,
all of the sudden, she`s not bright. She can`t be trusted. She can`t be
the secretary of state. What kind of nonsense is this, congresswoman?
MOORE: It`s nonsense. I mean, what kind of answer is that, Reverend
Sharpton? You`re absolutely right. The intelligence community stands
behind Susan Rice, 100 percent, for the intelligence they had at that time.
And, of course, I would have to agree with Joan Walsh. Her analysis
is painfully, painfully accurate. And it is apparently Republicans, they
have not learned one thing from the election that as they continue to
isolate women, isolate people of color, their chances of ever being a
legitimate party, a significant party to be able to take over the White
House, again, beyond their gerrymandering is really in jeopardy.
SHARPTON: Congresswoman Gwen Moore, Joan Walsh, thank you both for
WALSH: Thanks, Reverend Al.
MOORE: I`ve read your book, Joan. It`s brilliant.
WALSH: Thank you, Congresswoman Moore. I really appreciate that.
SHARPTON: All right, breaking news. Tonight, speaker Boehner and
President Obama meeting at the White House. Happening right now.
Plus, the stunning injustice of the central park five. Young men
wrongly convicted of a horrible assault in New York City. The story
shocked the nation. Be ready to be shocked again. My powerful interview
is coming up.
Stay with us.
SHARPTON: With Susan Rice out of the running, Senator John Kerry is
now the leading candidate to be secretary of state. If he gets the job,
his sentence seat would be filled with a special election. And guess who
was just voted out of office and would love another chance?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. SCOTT BROWN (R), MASSACHUSETTS: As I`ve said many times before,
temporary victory defeat is temporary. You know, depending on what happens
and where we go, all of us, we may obviously meet again.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: That`s right. Senator Scott Brown from Massachusetts,
Elizabeth Warren just beat him. But Republicans hope Kerry gets picked so
Brown can win -- try to win back the CD loss.
Of course, it doesn`t have to be that way. Are you listening, Barney
Frank? Are you listening Ed Markey? Are you listening Joe Kennedy? There
are plenty of good Democrats who could give Scott Brown a run for his
We hope they`re getting ready just in case.
SHARPTON: We`re back with breaking news. President Obama and John
Boehner have just wrapped up a meeting at the white house. First reports?
There`s no sign of progress. Each day that passes, Boehner seems to be
leading a party that`s just out of touch. The new NBC Journal poll shows
76 percent would accept raising taxes on those making over $250,000. Just
22 percent find that unacceptable. But, this morning, Speaker Boehner
couldn`t do anything except repeat those old, tired, talking points.
REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: Here we are at the
11th hour, and the president still isn`t serious about dealing with this
issue right here. It`s this issue. Spending.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: If you go over the cliff, would you permit a vote
to decouple that and then fight again on the debt ceiling?
BOEHNER: Ifs, ands and buts are like candy and nuts. If that were
the case, every day would be like Christmas.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: Somebody better tell him it is almost is Christmas. And
right now, his party is about as popular as the Grinch. The NBC poll finds
that just 30 percent of Americans have a positive view of the party. Forty
five percent have a negative view, a 15 point difference. And look at
this. From the Pew Center, just 25 percent have approval of the job
republican leaders are doing. Compare that to President Obama`s approval
numbers. Fifty five percent.
Americans are pleading for the two sides to come together for
compromise, for fairness. But Republicans refuse to listen to them. So
who exactly are they listening to? With me now, former Pennsylvania
Governor Ed Rendell, now an NBC News political analyst and Krystal Ball,
co-host of "THE CYCLE" here on MSNBC.
Thank you both for joining me tonight.
FMR. GOV. ED RENDELL (D), PENNSYLVANIA: My pleasure.
KRYSTAL BALL, MSNBC CO-HOST, "THE CYCLE": Thanks for having us,
SHARPTON: Governor, why aren`t Republicans listening to the American
people on this issue?
RENDELL: Well, first, I want to say if John Kerry is playing
secretary of state, don`t forget Governor Patrick, he would be a dynamite
candidate for Senate, too.
SHARPTON: Governor Deval Patrick could appoint himself.
RENDELL: And he would be awesome senator and he`d won reelection. I
believe that with all of my heart. All my heart.
SHARPTON: Right, he did have to run in election, he would be a worthy
contender. Very hard to beat.
RENDELL: Worthy contender.
RENDELL: The answer is the Republicans are still absolutely tied to
this ideology that they`re anchored with the Tea Party. They can`t
extricate themselves. And they are on a path to destruction. I mean, if
they keep this up, the 2014 elections are going to be a lot worse than the
2012 elections was for them. This is as much of a path towards self defeat
as I`ve ever seen. They are out of touch with the American people.
Seventy six to 22? You could barely get 76 percent of the American people
to agree that today is Thursday.
SHARPTON: Now, well, Krystal, when you look at the polling, the new
poll says, which party is more extreme at its positions, 53 percent say
Republican Party, only 33 percent democratic.
When you also deal with the pew poll, new pew poll, more willing to
work with the other party, Democrats, the donkey symbol, 53 percent. Only
37 percent feel the Republicans are willing to work with the other party.
Have they learned anything from the last election?
BALL: Well, I think they`re going to learn something from the last
election. But, no, I don`t think they`ve learned it yet. I think a lot of
Republicans still feel like they`re going to have leverage in the debt
ceiling fight. And they`re more concerned, frankly, about primaries in
their own districts rather than general elections and appealing to moderate
an independent voters. So that`s the political calculus that`s going on.
But I`ve got to say, I look at those numbers and I think they`re only going
to get worse as we go through the fiscal cliff negotiations.
Because again, going back to the debt ceiling, they`re signaling that
once again like they did in the summer of 2011, hold the debt ceiling
hostage or process that the American people did not much enjoy. And
they`re going to do that to try to get something very unpopular, which is
taking away a lot of people`s Medicare benefits. So, to me I look at that
and they`re only going to see more intransigent, more stream, more out of
touch of where the American people are. So, these numbers are low. They
could go a whole lot lower.
SHARPTON: Governor, Karl Rove was with Bill O`Reilly and they talked
about Newt Gingrich`s comments about the GOP is in disarray right now.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BILL O`REILLY, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: I think what the speaker is trying to
get across is at this point, the Republicans are pretty much in disarray.
And they can`t compete with the organized democratic machine. And that`s
why Romney lost.
KARL ROVE, POLITICAL CONSULTANT: Accept the point that today, the
Republican Party couldn`t win the election.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: Your response to that, Governor.
RENDELL: Well, they are in disarray. They don`t have a clue about
what to do. And they`re captors of this extreme right that isn`t in any
way consistent with the view of majority of the Americans. Americans want
compromise, Americans want tax rates raised on the rich. Americans
understand, Bill Clinton did it. It didn`t hurt the economy, it didn`t
hurt job creation. It spurred 23.5 million new jobs in six years.
Americans get that stuff. And why it`s not getting through the Republicans
is beyond me.
They`ve got to be voices to stand up. And by the way, Rev, all of
this is political calculation. Krystal is right. They`re worried about
being primaried. Good Lord, have some guts and do what`s right for
America. And what`s right for America is -- President Obama has put a 45-
page plan out, 27 pages of spending cuts in his plan. Now, is that not
enough for Republicans? Well, negotiate that. But don`t say that
President Obama hasn`t done anything on the spending side. Twenty seven
pages in that plan.
SHARPTON: Now, a new analysis was put out, Krystal, by GOP strategist
with heirs is getting some attention. It describes the GOP as a regional
party with few national prospects. And it says republicans have run out of
persuadable white voters. Now, when you look at that and the new NBC poll
shows that only two groups view the Republican Party favorable, white
southerners and rural Americans. I mean, when you combine what heirs are
saying and the poll, they have really closed the boundaries on their own
party. And unless they can seek to expand and change their policies and,
therefore, their branding, they will be a party that continues to diminish.
BALL: That`s absolutely right. I mean, the demographic trends
continue to move against them. This was the last election where there was
any chance that with their current coalition, they could win a national
election. If they don`t expand, forget it. It`s off the table for 2016.
There`s no way. And I think in a lot of ways, what`s happening at the
Congressional level is driving that national picture about Republicans.
Because again, these members rather they`re in such deep, red districts.
And they`re concerned about the Tea Party and the club for growth and
Grover Norquist that they can`t or they feel like they can`t politically
move to the center at all.
The further to the right, the better it is for these members of
Congress politically. And that bleeds over into the national picture of
the Republican Party. Also what we saw in this election, you know, Mitt
Romney in the republican primary was forced to move so far to the right,
again to appeal to republican primary voters, those are still likely to be
the folks who turn out for national elections in the future. So, they`re
really in a bind. They`ve got to change not only the composition of who
they`re appealing to broadly. But who they`re appealing to and who they`re
getting to turn out in primaries.
SHARPTON: But Governor -- go ahead. Go ahead.
RENDELL: And Rev, what`s worse is they`re getting clobbered by what
Republicans are doing on the state level.
RENDELL: In Michigan, right to work overwhelmingly, the people
overwhelmingly against that move. In Ohio, a personhood amendment that
lost in Mississippi.
RENDELL: They`re putting that before eye voters. If you`re watching
this, you`ve got to sit back and say the Republican Party is whacked out.
SHARPTON: I`m going to have to leave it there. Governor Ed Rendell
and Krystal Ball, thanks for your time this evening. And be sure to catch
Krystal on "THE CYCLE," weekdays at 3:00 p.m. right here on MSNBC.
Coming up, it was called the Central Park driving case. And now, a
powerful new documentary investigates this tragic mis-character of justice.
Five young men convicted of a heinous assault in Central Park. But they
didn`t do the crime. My interview with them and the film maker who`s
telling their story. That`s coming up.
SHARPTON: A powerful and important new documentary exposes the
injustice of the Central Park five. Young men accused of a terrible crime
called the Central Park jogger case. They were attacked in the press,
convicted at trial and sent to prison. The only problem? They were
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Kids were very fragile at the time. And they would
tell my mother, don`t worry. He`s going to speak to him. He`s going to
come out soon.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: My interview with the film maker at the Central Park five
SHARPTON: In April, 1989. An attack on a woman in New York City`s
Central Park shook the residents of this city and reverberated across the
country. It came to be known simply as the Central Park jogger case. Five
young men were arrested for the attack. And on the 28-year-old investment
banker in the park, they were accused of raping her and severely beating
her. And leaving her for dead in the bushes. The teenagers, four blacks
and one Hispanic, were 14, 15 and 16 years old. They did not know each
They were described as a pack of wild animals. A new term was
created. Wilding. The mayor at the time called it, the crime of the
century. In this case, the justice system moved quickly. Under intense
police interrogation, the teenagers all confessed to the crime. But almost
immediately, they recanted those confessions, still at trial, they were
convicted anyway and they spent from seven to 13 years in state prison.
But there was a problem with this case. It wasn`t true. The five young
men had nothing to do with the -- story of the Central Park jogger.
We know that because 13 years later, this man came forward and
confessed to the crime. His DNA matched that was found at the scene. He
confessed while already serving 33 years to life for other crimes,
including rape and murder. I had lead rallies about this case because
these young men should have been presumed innocent and I helped to raise
money to bail them out of jail. Ten years ago, this month, they were
exonerated. Their convictions overturned. And now, an important new
documentary is bringing new light to this ugly chapter in New York`s
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: The police controlled the story. They created
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: They seized on the fears of the people.
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Wilding. The best deal characterization of the
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: There`s no DNA match whatsoever.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: For a long time, many people thought this case had one
victim. The truth is there are six victims in this story. And today, we
need to take a new look at the conduct of police in this case. Especially
the way tough seasoned detectives interrogated five teenagers, some for
more than 24 hours with no lawyers present. I spoke recently to four of
those five now men and the film maker who`s telling the real story of what
Joining me now, four of the five men convicted of the crime they did
not commit. Yusef Salaam who was 15 at the time of his arrest. Kevin
Richardson, then just 14 years old. Raymond Santana, also 14. And Korey
Wise at 16, he was the oldest of the five and was tried as an adult. Also,
with me is Sarah Burns who co-director the film with her husband, David
McMahon and her father, award winning documentary producer Ken Burns.
First of all, thank you all for being here tonight. Now, you were 14?
RAYMOND SANTANA, WRONGFULLY CONVICTED: Yes, I was 14.
SHARPTON: Where was your lawyer?
SANTANA: I didn`t have any lawyer. There was no lawyer.
SHARPTON: Did you have a lawyer?
KEVIN RICHARDSON, WRONGFULLY CONVICTED: Not at all.
SHARPTON: Yusef, did you have a lawyer:
YUSEF SALAAM, WRONGFULLY CONVICTED: No, sir.
KOREY WISE, WRONGFULLY CONVICTED: No, sir.
SHARPTON: So all of this happened with no lawyers.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: No lawyers.
SHARPTON: Were your parents there?
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Some of our parents were there.
RICHARDSON: My mother, she was actually the first parent to there.
But I`ve never seen her. I would hear her voice and I will see her peep
into the room. And the detective, they were using like a tactic. These
were seasoned professionals. Big -- six with men.
SHARPTON: And you all were kids?
RICHARDSON: We were kids. Very fragile at the time.
RICHARDSON: And they would tell my mother, don`t worry. We just want
to speak to him. He`s going to come out soon. At the time, my mother was
very weak, you know. She couldn`t really stand up as much. So she sat
down for a while. And while they would take her away, that`s when they
would work on me.
SALAAM: The reality of the matter is that, none of us, including our
parents, had never had any involvement with the law. They were just as
ignorant as we were through this whole process. Sometimes people look at
the film and look at the story of the Central Park jogger case. And they
always say to us, well, why would your parents not scream? We want a
You know, they were telling, you know, everybody`s families that all
you`ve got to do is say this and we`ll let your sons go home, you know?
This is the amount of technology that they were using was so devious that
it caused even our parents at the point of saying, you know what, maybe if
we just go along with it we`ll be able to get out of here. And that wasn`t
Now, let me take you back to the interrogation. Kevin, let me show
you a clip where Raymond and Kevin are talking about how police tried to
play you against each other. Watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RICHARDSON: You`re not saying nothing --
SANTANA: But I`m like I didn`t do anything. It`s like oh, I just
want to help. Because I know you didn`t do anything. You`re a good kid.
You know, this isn`t you. You pulled out this picture of Carol Richardson.
And he goes do you know this kid? And I`m like, no, I don`t know him. And
he goes, you see the scratches on his eye? That came from the woman. We
know he did it. He`s going down.
RICHARDSON: At this point, I`m, like, you know, I don`t know these
guys are there. So I`m just going to make up something. And include these
SANTANA: OK, if you`re going to do it to me, then I`m going to do it
RICHARDSON: It was culture to me and I`m just writing it down.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPON: Now, police actually told you the other ones that
implicated you so you -- is that how this confession happened? You just
made things up?
RICHARDSON: Well, they were just actually coaching us to write things
on the paper. And mentioning like things in a -- transverse. Words that a
14 wouldn`t know. And at the end of the day, we were tired from lack of
sleep, lack of food, lack of showers. We were just wanting it to go home.
We wanted it to go away.
SANTANA: Once a juvenile is broken down, you can basically tell them
anything. And, you know, they fed me the names. You know, they fed me who
used the rock because we knew that that was used.
SHARPTON: These are police telling you?
SANTANA: The police. And all the while, you know, Detective
Hardigan is saying, look, I know you want to go home. I`m trying to help
you. I need you to help me.
SHARPTON: And they screamed at you?
SANTANA: Oh, definitely. Definitely. There were times when my
grandmother me out of the room and once they took her out of the room, you
know, they`ll bring another detective -- and he started yelling in my face
and Detective Roya (ph) was yelling -- yelling in my ear and Detective Roya
(ph) was yelling in my face.
SHARPTON: Korey, you said in the film that you said things, you just
made things up just to save your life at that time.
SHARPTON: What was going through your head?
WISE: Been there too long. Just been there too long. It wasn`t no
playground for me. I wanted to get the hell out of there. Ad they were
just holding me. Holding me hostage there just to give them the story that
SHARPTON: So you thought if you just made it up, that they would let
WISE: Right. I had no parent or lawyer there. So, I really just
didn`t know what the hell to do but to give them that story.
SHARPTON: So there was no physical evidence, no DNA, nothing at all
that connected any of you all to the case? The only thing that convicted
you were the confessions?
Raymond, you said that you just kept waiting for it to be over. When
did you begin to realize it wasn`t going to be over for a long time?
SANTANA: You know, being 14, a lot of stuff goes over your head.
You don`t know what happens. It all seems like a blur. It all seems like
this one nightmare that you can`t wake up from. You can`t escape from.
You know, even from now, to this day, it`s still not over. You know, we
still have this chapter that hasn`t been closed. That we`re still fighting
the civil suit and there people are actually saying that we`re still we`re
guilty. And so, the nightmare still continues.
SHARPTON: Sarah, police and prosecutors were not interviewed for the
film. They maintained that they did nothing wrong.
SARAH BURNS, DIRECTOR, "THE CENTRAL PARK FIVE": Well, we tried to
interview them. We had hoped to include them. And none of them would talk
to us. They wouldn`t return our calls or said that they couldn`t or
wouldn`t because of the civil suit in which they are defendants.
SHARPTON: Now, I want to show you this. This is David Dinkins, who
was the mayor of New York at the time reading from the District Attorneys
report that lead to you exoneration. Watch this.
DAVID DINKINS, FORMER NEW YORK MAYOR: The accounts given by the five
defendants differed from one another on the specific details of virtually
every major aspect of the crime. Who initiated the attack, who knocked the
victim down, who undressed her, who struck her, who held her, who raped
her, what weapons were used in the course of the assault. And went on the
sequence of event the attack took place. And some of what they said was
simply contrary to establish fact. Now, this is a damn shame.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: I mean, he was mayor at the time. And when the report
comes out that exonerates them, Sarah, they still, to this day, have not
been compensated or cleared?
BURNS: Right, I mean, the convictions were vacated in 2002. So in
that sense, their records have been cleared. But that was still cast into
doubt at that time by people who are invested in that original outcome.
And so, I think it causes a lot of people to still have questions about
whether they did this or not. When the facts just don`t support that.
It`s very clear. And as you hear what Dinkins is reading, we know who did
this. It wasn`t these guys. And it`s very clear that they didn`t do it.
SHARPTON: Yusef, you all filed the civil suit against the city and I
think it was 2003. Where does the suit stand today?
SALAAM: It`s unbelievable that this lawsuit has really just started.
It`s moving at such a snail`s pace. That I`m sure that they hope everyone
involved passed away before they give us a dime. But everybody who sees
this film, this so important film, they realize that, one, if they bought
the lie back in 1989, how they were tricked. And they`re so upset and
outraged, that the fact that the city is still dragging their feet and
trying to compensate us, you know, they wanted us to die a social death.
This was a death sentence. As Raymond always says that exceeded far beyond
the regular prison term. They wanted society to kill us off, as well. You
know, never in a million years did they want us to be able to succeed and
be here before you today telling the truth about this matter.
SHARPTON: Film just opened. It`s an important story and a powerful
one. Thank you for sharing with us.
There are many questions left about the tactics police use to elicit
false confession. We will get into those in much more detail next week in
a special edition of POLITICS NATION," The Central Park Five. That`s next
Wednesday on this show. How police and others could use the state
purposely to come to conclusion and to this day, those young men that lost
seven to 13 years of their lives still not given any compensation. They
were advocates on both sides. I was an advocate that believed in them.
We`re not talking about advocates here. We`re talking about police.
We`re talking about people with the power of the state that had children
with no lawyers or parents make confessions that they coached into and lost
their prime years of their lives and no one stepping forward now to
compensate anything. We`ll discuss that next Wednesday.
Thanks for watching. I`m Al Sharpton. "HARDBAL" starts right now.
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