All In With Chris Hayes, Friday, April 12th, 2013
Read the transcript from the Friday show
ALL IN with CHRIS HAYES
April 12, 2013
Guests: Su Mi Terry, David Sanger, Mark Quarterman, John Merrow, Ta-Nehisi
Coates, Matt Welch
CHRIS HAYES, HOST: Good evening from New York. I`m Chris Hayes. And
thank you for joining us tonight.
Today, Secretary of State John Kerry was in Seoul, South Korea, with
the explicit goal of lowering tensions on the Korean Peninsula.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN KERRY, SECRETARY OF STATE: The real goal should not be
reinforcing the fact that we will back our allies, which we will, but it
should be emphasizing the possibilities of peace and reunifications.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Now, tensions, if you`ve been paying attention this week, are
high. And they are high for a few reasons. One is that North Korea has
been bellicose even by North Korean standards. They`ve got a relatively
new leader, Kim Jong Un, and nobody seems to know exactly what he`s going
In addition to what often seemed like pro forma threats against South
Korean and the United States, North Korea is also now threatening Japan.
The North Korean state news agency saying, quote, "If Japan makes a
slightest move, the spark of war will touch Japan first."
All of that decorated with plenty of old school Soviet-style military
marches we like to run on cable news.
But other reason tensions are high is because the rhetoric in the U.S.
has been ratcheting up at a remarkable pace. Our friends at CNN haven`t
covered a story like this since the poop cruise.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Happening now, North Korea`s neighbors have their
defenses up right now. Stand by for reports from the region.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: New reports this morning, North Korea moving
missiles closer now to its east coast.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: FOX News alert now, a new evidence that North
Korea could test a missile at any moment.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A ballistic missile test launch could come at
any time and without warning.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Which puts not only South Korea in striking range,
but also Japan, and the U.S. territory of Guam.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: All for that is just one step removed from Drudge headline,
"Nuclear War, unavoidable."
All right. The thing that tipped this discussion, if you can call it
that, over, the added element lending story here in a broaden more weight
was this item. Pentagon, North Korea could launch nuclear missile. The
Defense Intelligence Agency had concluded with, quote, "Moderate confidence
that North Korea was capable launching a missile with a nuclear warhead,
albeit an unreliable one.
I am not an expert on the Korean peninsula but I loved through the
Iraq war. When people start talking about threats and war, everybody needs
to double the amount of skepticism and the level of critical rigor they
bring to the matter. So what exactly is the deal with this ominous
sounding Defense Intelligence Agency report?
The precise revelation, this assessment by the DIA was disclosed by a
congressman named Doug Lamborn, Republican of Colorado`s fifth district,
reading an unclassified portion of a classified report at a House Armed
Services Committee hearing.
Now, the congressman has confessed he hasn`t read the entire report
he`s quoting from. "I have not read the entire seven-page report," he
said, "I`m in the process of getting my hands on that." The congressman is
also, we should note, the co-chair of the Missile Defense Caucus.
According to "Open Secrets", his campaign received $85 million from the
defense industry in the last election cycle. He recently wrote that can`t
possibly be right. Well correct that.
He recently wrote an op-ed for "Politico" about the virtues of
spending billions of dollars on missile defense, and it just happens that
the recent threats from North Korea prompted the Pentagon to expand its
plans on the West Coast at cost of a billion dollars. That despite the
fact that it`s not particularly reliable and skepticism of the intelligence
community of North Korea`s capability have improved enough to strike
targets like Guam.
And on top of that, the congressman himself says his motivation, by
his own admission, for leaking a small bit of the Defense Intelligence
Agency report was to argue against the president`s proposed defense cuts.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. DOUG LAMBORN (R), COLORADO: And the reason I`m concerned about
this is because the president has offered a defense budget that cuts
missile defense by half a billion dollars. My goal in all this is by
calling attention to the potential threats that we restore those dollars.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Now, as for the reliability of the intelligence contained in
that actual DIA nugget, it was immediately thrown into question by the
Director of National Intelligence James Clapper who said the statement read
bit member is not an intelligence community assessment. Moreover, North
Korea has not yet demonstrated the full range of capabilities necessary for
a nuclear armed missile."
Cue once more Secretary Kerry offering the State Department`s view of
the DIA report.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KERRY: It is inaccurate to suggest that the DPRK has fully tested,
developed, or demonstrated capabilities that are articulated in that
report. So we do not operate on the presumption that they have that fully
tested and available capacity.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: The Defense Intelligence Agency is, by the way, we should
note, the very same agency that said Iraq has nuclear weapons 10 years ago.
North Korea does have nuclear weapons. There`s no doubt that North Korea
is an absolute outlier. And they are a monstrous regime.
But there`s an uncontrollable drumbeat that seems to be happening when
tensions in the Korean Peninsula are inflated, creating a palpable sense of
drama, it is exactly the kind of thing that positions a nation and its
citizens to be ready to go to war, and a nation and its citizens ready to
go to war is a dangerous thing. Talking about things in this way has
This is the way you ready a citizenry for violence for something
horrible, and that is how wars start.
Joining us tonight from Seoul, South Korea, NBC chief foreign
correspondent Richard Engel, David Sanger, chief Washington correspondent
for "The New York Times".
At the table, Su Mi Terry of Columbia University. And Mark
Quarterman, research director at Center for American Progress.
We asked Congressman Lamborn to join us but he is a on a plane back to
Richard Engel, I want to begin with you and get a sense of what the
atmosphere in South Korea itself is about where this stacks up for a long
list of moments of tension between North and South Korea, going all the way
back to the 1950s.
RICHARD ENGEL, NBC NEWS CHIEF FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT: I think this is
one of those moments. There is absolutely no probable sense of fear or
concern. Here on streets people are talking about an upcoming Psy concert
and new single that had been released by the pop star. People here are not
heading for the shelters.
They think that North Korea is playing a game, that North Korea is
trying to extract concessions particularly from the United States that it
wants money. That it is playing effectively blackmail. That it is
threatening to use its weapons to get some cash, some food aid. Once that
happens threats will go down and then the threats or violent action will
come back the next time North Korea needs something.
HAYES: There`s some concern that I`ve heard that seems credible and
not inflated which is that the predecessor Kim Jong Un, Kim Jong Il`s
father, was around long enough that there was enough iterations of this
kind of game theory process whereby you go through the motions that you
could reliably predict what he was going to do. And in the case of this
new, very young, very untested leader, they no longer have that.
ENGEL: That is the difference this time. There have been patterns in
the past where the North escalate and the South here in Seoul was
relatively confident in being able to shrug that off because they knew this
was the pattern that North always followed.
Now, we have a new leader, a new leader that has something to prove
and a new leader who is willing to take it further than his father and a
new leader who has demonstrated a greater capacity than his father had.
So, when you combine that inexperience of greater recklessness and
greater capacity, that is why I think there is greater concern. When maybe
not here, that could be something psychological that people in South Korea
just don`t want to think about it. They prefer to ignore it but people in
the United States, particularly in the Pentagon are increasingly can
concerned about it, otherwise, they wouldn`t be moving warships and anti-
ballistic missile systems to the region as they have done.
HAYES: Su, let me go to you. As someone who worked in the CIA and
covering North Korea if I`m not mistaken, who sat on the body that oversaw
the intelligence community`s intelligence products. What should we make of
this small leaked part of this one Defense Intelligence Agency report about
a moderate confidence after low reliability, nuclear missile capability
from North Korea?
SU MI TERRY, COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY: That`s right. I think first it is
important to remember that the intelligence agency is one out of 16
intelligence agencies in the United States, not colluding CIA or FBI and
NSA and so on. So, now, it is one agency`s view that is not quite shared
or corroborated or by the rest of the intelligence community.
And when you say medium confidence, what does it really mean? It
means they probably have a source that they might have a source but not
corroborated by other sources.
And again, as you mentioned, low reliability. So, translation, maybe
they could. They have capacity but even if they do, it`s not reliable.
HAYES: David, what is the intelligence community`s other members
walking this back in the wake of this news report tell you about where the
actual intelligence community and have you incredibly good sources there --
where they are in terms of consensus on the threat?
DAVID SANGER, NEW YORK TIMES: Well, I think, Chris, the first thing
to know is, there is no consensus. But argument, as you pointed out
rightly, is not the Iraq argument. It`s not whether they have nuclear
weapons or not.
SANGER: They have do nuclear weapons. They`ve done three nuclear
Harder than building a nuclear weapon is shrinking it down to a size
that can fit on warhead.
SANGER: Harder that is designing that warhead so if you send it on an
intercontinental arc, in other words, on a long-range missile, it can
survive the rigors of the heat of reentry and the incredible -- you know,
physical dynamics of that.
A lot of warheads, including a lot of early American warheads when
they were tested simply broke up under reentry. So, I think what you are
hearing now is the DIA, which worries more about protecting the troops, the
28,000 American troops in South Korea, and the American troops, tens of
thousands more in Japan. They are worried about short range missiles or
medium range missiles like the No-dong.
SANGER: And could North Korea have shrunk a weapon to put on the No-
dong? Perhaps. And it would be more survivable on that. But there is no
evidence that anyone has found that they have done so.
HAYES: So in listening to you and listening to Su, does not at all
Mark, square with the tenor of the coverage. It just does not. I mean,
I`ve been watching on -- you know, on the fourth floor, I`ve been watching
like crazy graphics of black zones radiating out from different parts, and
it strikes me as deeply problematic that we can watch the mechanisms of
that sort of start to gin up.
MARK QUARTERMAN, CTR FOR AMERICAN PROGRESS: That`s absolutely true,
Chris. I`m concerned about what this says. And I have to put quotes
around that and how our politicians respond and explain to them as well.
I mean, I was reading a poll that was taken in South Korea by a South
Korean newspaper on a television show that has 4.5 percent of South Koreans
saying that they think that this current crisis will lead to war. CNN took
a poll of Americans, 51 percent think that this will lead to war, and 45
percent think that North Korea, the DPRK, is an imminent threat to the
We`re not -- we`re not being educated about how this works, either by
the media or by the politicians.
HAYES: So if tensions are high, obviously the -- Secretary of State
Kerry went there to lower tensions and they talk about a diplomatic
solution, there is a familiarity to tensions and diplomatic off-ramps.
People talk about off-ramps.
What, Su, as someone who studied North Korea as an intelligence
analyst, what is the off-ramp here? How do we end up in a place where we
aren`t at this pitch state of crisis?
TERRY: Well, what`s going to happen is they will probably do this
missile test and then we`ll go back to the U.N.
But tensions will come down after the U.S./South Korea doing exercises
end on April 30th.
HAYES: Joint military exercise that happens every spring?
TERRY: Yes. And President Park, the new South Korean president,
already said, let`s try to meet and negotiate to see if we can open the
Kaesong industrial complex. So after the exercises end, hopefully, we --
you know, will get back to the table.
SANGER: Chris --
HAYES: Yes, David, go ahead.
SANGER: I was going to say, the question here is off-ramp to where?
Do you want to back to the status quo? And if that the case then, you now,
next spring, you can be back to doing this. Or is the goal here to do what
North Korea and South Korea agreed in 1992 and what has been the basis of
all of the other negotiations, which is denuclearize the Korean Peninsula
and get North Korea to give up their nuclear weapons, which Secretary Kerry
suggested today was the goal.
I think the difference between Kim Jong Un and perhaps his father and
grandfather is that he wants it change that discussion, make North Korea
more like Pakistan. Get to the point where the world recognizes it as a
nuclear power and just accepts that.
HAYES: Interesting. Richard, what do you think about that?
ENGEL: I think that`s exactly what North Korea wants to do. North
Korea wants to present a fait accompli to the world that it is a nuclear
weapon estate and must be treated that way. One analyst here described it
to me like this: that North Korea sees it self militarily at about 10
percent. And sees -- this is its own internal valuation.
ENGEL: And sees the United States and South Korea which cooperate
jointly maybe at 50 percent strength and it wants to bolster itself so they
are equals. And from positions of military equals they can start having a
dialogue. That is its dream and it believes in order to get there, it has
to have a demonstrated nuclear capacity.
ENGEL: Going back to other thing, I`ve heard, by the way, I don`t
think it is fair to characterize the DIA`s assessment as rogue assessment
in the intelligence community. I`ve heard this for quite some time that
many people in the intelligence community believe, although they haven`t
been able to necessarily prove it, and it hasn`t been tested that North
Korea has a missile deliverable nuclear weapon. Maybe that none that is --
ENGEL: -- probably not one that can go very far, but probably
something like the No-dong that David Sanger was talking about. Something
that wouldn`t have to travel far but that could deliver a nuclear weapon.
And that does change the calculation. It does change how the world
reacts. Will the United States treat North Korea like a nuclear power,
like a nuclear power that can project its weapons to foreign nations? What
does that mean, how does it change calculations?
And I think the U.S. in part is dialing back because it doesn`t want
to make those calculations.
QUARTERMAN: This begs another question. I mean, what would North
Korea do with such a weapon? It would be virtually suicidal I would think
for them to launch the weapon, to use it.
But it shows in many ways that nonproliferation, zero tolerance of
nuclear weapons, being expanded beyond the initial powers is broken. India
has a weapon. Pakistan has nukes. Israel, South Africa had nukes and
voluntarily gave them up.
So what do you do then? Do you sanction countries into crying uncle
and saying, no, we`ll give up these weapons? Do you threaten them and
cause them to think, hey, maybe in nuclear deterrent is more useful for us
QUARTERMAN: And do you negotiate with them?
HAYES: And what we have seen is we`ve seen the unraveling of the Non-
Proliferation Treaty regime sort of thread by thread unravel and now we
deal with the crisis on individual -- on a bilateral basis when the next
crisis rears its head, whether it`s Iran or whether it`s North Korea, as
opposed to the unified framework that have actually been remarkably effect
for much of the last century.
QUARTERMAN: Maybe for a long time.
HAYES: Su Mi Terry, Mark Quarterman, NBC`s Richard Engel from Seoul,
South Korea, and David Sanger in Washington, D.C. -- thank you all. Really
SANGER: Thank you.
QUARTERMAN: Thank you.
HAYES: A correction to make. All right. We misreported the amount
of campaign contributions Congressman Lamborn received from the defense
industry in 2012. I realize that at the time. It was $85,000.
All right. On Wednesday night, I took Rand Paul to task for Rand
"splaingin`. And then some told me that I have some explaining to do.
I`ll tell you why, next.
HAYES: On Wednesday, Kentucky Senator Rand Paul gave a speech at the
historically black university, Howard, in Washington, D.C.
On that night`s program, I give a monologue that was critical, even at
times mocking of Paul`s speech. The day since, a number of folks, some I
really respect, have been critical of my own tone towards Paul.
The writer Freddie de Boer intimated that I was, quote, "giggling and
hawking at the rube from Kentucky."
While Andrew Sullivan linked to de Boer`s post in exasperation, "the
sheer lack of any grace among some liberal commentators on what was an
obvious outreach to African-Americans depresses me."
And (INAUDIBLE), a writer I have tremendous respect for accused me of
falling victim to, quote, "cable news pathologies," which are bad.
Critics get one thing right. They do. In going after Paul for his
cluelessness and outright lying, I omitted playing this bit of the speech,
which was genuinely great, and also the moment best received by the
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. RAND PAUL (R), KENTUCKY: I`m working with Democratic senators to
make sure that kids who have made bad decisions, such as nonviolent
possession of drugs, are not imprisoned for lengthy sentences. I`m working
to make sure that first time offenders are put into counseling and not
imprisoned with hardened criminals. We should not take away anyone`s
future over one mistake.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: We should have played that bit of the speech because it is
noteworthy and praiseworthy. Paul has co-sponsored legislation with Pat
Leahy to allow federal courts to overrule mandatory minimum sentences if
the judges believe a shorter sentence is in order. That`s awesome. And I
really, really hope that more Republicans and Democrats, for that matter,
continue to evolve towards sense on the issue of our misbegotten war on
In fact today, some more promising news on this front. With a
bipartisan group of congressman introducing a law that would stop the
federal government from prosecuting marijuana sale and possession in those
states where they are now legal.
But here`s thing: in a nearly 2,900-word speech, Rand Paul devoted 400
words to the war on drugs and criminal justice reform. The rest of it was
devoted precisely what I criticized in my own coverage, and that was a
condescending lecture on the history of major parties and race relations,
which included an obvious and easily checked out lie about his own spotty
record for the entirely of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.
And I was particularly biting about that performance, it was partly
because I was genuinely disappointed in Paul. When I saw on our editorial
calendar earlier in the week that Rand Paul was going to speak at Howard on
Wednesday, I was psyched because I thought it would be a great opportunity
to get to deliver a defense of Paul for having the guts to take on some of
the tough on crime sacred cows, and build new bridges with new
constituencies to move us toward a more humane approach to crime and
Then I got to work and read and watched the speech and I thought the
whole thing was a massive missed opportunity. I want very much for there
to be a left/right coalition in this country to end the war on drugs and
the cruelty of our criminal justice system. The coalition building is a
two-way street and it requires approaching others in good faith and showing
up to Howard and telling people you always supported the Civil Right Act
when you very much hasn`t doesn`t pass the basic test of good faith.
We`re going to talk a bit more about Rand Paul at Howard and the
politics of crime, drugs and race with the great Melissa Perry-Harris later
in the show.
A bombshell report on cheating implicating the education reform
movement`s biggest start, Michelle Rhee. It`s coming up.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHELLE RHEE, FORMER WASHINGTON, D.C. SCHOOL CHANCELLOR: When we got
data back about erasure rates and other irregularities, that we hired an
investigation company to come in so that the district wouldn`t have to be
involved in that, we could actually have a third party, look at it. The
third party did come in. They ran the investigations.
If you look at "USA Today" article, the vast majority of it is about
one school in particular that the test investigation company came back and
said actually we did the investigation and there`s no need for further
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: That was Michelle Rhee in a March 2011 interview with PBS`
Tavis Smiley, dismissing allegations of cheating in Washington, D.C.
schools during her time as chancellor of the school system. A tenure which
included closing 27 schools, firing 36 principals, and firing or laying off
nearly 700 teachers.
The 2011 allegation stemmed from an amazing piece of reporting by "USA
Today" that revealed extremely high number of erasures, wrong to right
answers on standardized tests at D.C. schools. One school which was
specifically touted by Rhee herself for their highs performance and whose
faculty received bonuses for test results.
And new in addition to audit release today finding cheating in 11 D.C.
schools during the 2011-12 school year, there`s another absolutely bomb
shell report on Rhee`s time in D.C. A previously unreported document
obtained by education reporter John Merrow indicating a widespread cheating
problem across the district.
A 2009 memo from an outside investigator starts opens with a security
note to please treat this document as confidential. Don`t make hard copies
and leave them around. It goes on to read that there are 191 teachers
representing 70 schools that are implicated in possible testing infractions
by the study. "USA Today" reports the 2009 memo was written by an outside
analyst, Fay Sanford, who have been invited by then-chancellor Michelle
Rhee to examine students irregular math and reading score games.
It was sent to Rhee`s top deputy for accountability.
The memo contradicts what little Michelle Rhee has said about
allegations. Washington, D.C. is just one example in a litany of schools
across the country with reports of high stakes cheating. We brought you
the story last week of Beverly Hall, the former superintendent of the
Atlanta schools who was indicted in March, along with 34 teachers for their
alleged in widespread cheating in Atlanta schools.
And these week, investigators announced they are looking into two
dozen teachers in Long Island for the same thing. What is so remarkable
about Michelle Rhee specifically is that she has gone to the peak of
education reform movement. She has done so without ever really having to
answer to the serious reports of a very serious possible cheating
surrounding her tenure.
Rhee and her organization did not respond to our request for an
Joining me tonight, John Merrow, education correspondent for PBS, who
obtained that memo.
John, thanks for being here.
JOHN MERROW, PBS CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely. Thank you.
HAYES: Let`s set the table here with the original reporting that
happens back in 2011, I believe it is, about these wrong to right erasures.
What is the significance of running an analysis of wrong to right erasures?
MERROW: Well, an erasure analysis reveals if there any patterns.
Standardized tests have different leveled answers degree of difficulty. If
you -- if they run an erasure analysis and see that most kids got the easy
answers wrong, the hard answers right, and there were erasures, and they
all -- if you find patterns, then you know that this is not kids doing the
erasures. And Sandy Sanford`s memo basically warned Michelle Rhee that she
had a problem.
HAYES: Yes. So one of the things we saw in Atlanta, in the Beverly
Hall case, was that reporters there looked at the erasure rates. And they
book just took the erasure rates and they took them to statisticians. And
they said look, kids are five or six times a test erasing something from
wrong to rate. And the statisticians looked at that and said, this cannot
MERROW: But in Atlanta, of course, the superintendent denied all
that. The difference is that the Atlanta newspaper stayed on the case.
That didn`t happen in Washington. And the political leadership in the
state of Georgia stayed on the case. And that did not happen in
Washington. No one wanted to get at the truth in Washington, D.C.,
HAYES: What do you mean by that?
MERROW: Just exactly that. I mean that when it was such wonderful
news -- Michelle Rhee was such a breath of fresh air when she arrived in
Washington. The schools were not great. My kids went to public school in
Washington, so I know a little bit about it. And so she was seen as this
whirlwind who was going to do everything in the best interests of children.
Then after her first year, there were dramatic increases. She celebrated,
gave out huge bonuses. And then she got this bad news from Sandy Sanford
and from state superintendent, said there is a problem here.
She was about to be on the cover of "Time Magazine." Just had been
praised by Obama and McCain at a presidential rate. She had just given out
over a million and a half dollars in bonuses, and here she was being
presented with evidence that a lot of adults might have cheated.
HAYES: That`s what`s in this document. What did you find most
revealing in this memo? This is a memo that an independent consultant had
brought in to analyze this data, wrote to her.
MERROW: In just four pages, Dr. Sanford twice raises the possibility
that her principals might have done the cheating. In my reporting today --
by the way, this is not just me. It`s four other veteran reporters with,
among us, 175 years of experience in journalism. And the 40-page document
has got 40 footnotes. I urge folks to read it.
He warns -- he said, the principals might have done this. It is an
open invitation to investigate. He also, by the way, proposes some
strategies of how to avoid investigation. This is not all pure of heart.
HAYES: So then what -- so then Michelle Rhee is presented with this
document. That much we know. At least her deputy for accountability is
presented with this document. Presumably she saw it.
MERROW: I know she saw it. I have a reliable source. We verified
this. Incidentally, people are very afraid of Michelle Rhee. A source
high in DCPS confirmed the authenticity of this. I have been reporting now
for 39 years. When I took it to this source`s home, that person was
trembling as I presented it to that person. I`ve never seen anyone quite
The other confirmation came from the D.C. inspector general. So we
know it`s authentic. We know from a reliable source that Chancellor Rhee
saw this and talked about it.
HAYES: OK. So the question is what happened after this memo was
MERROW: No investigation. There`s never been an investigation of the
2008 erasures. There have been five semi-investigations. None of them has
involved the serious important work of a deep erasure analysis. They were
all limited and they were more of a security audit. But, of course, the
chancellor was able to say, this investigation proves it.
The D.C. inspector general spent 17 months. And during 17 months, he
interviewed 60 people. You interview 60 people in a week. In Atlanta,
they spent a year and interviewed 2,000 people. He only went to one
school. There were 91 schools implicated by that time. He never looked at
the first year.
HAYES: Of course, this special in Atlanta -- what finally broke it
open was this -- the governor appointing this special investigative group
that had resources and --
MERROW: Subpoena power.
HAYES: -- subpoena power and took a lot of time. And it was only
that that produced this 800 page report that was very damning, which then
led to the grand jury.
MERROW: What is intriguing is that Michelle Rhee had carte blanche
and her deputy, Ky Henderson (ph), for five years. If you look at the D.C.
schools now, they are worse by almost every single imaginable measure.
Graduation rate is the worst in the nation. Truancy is epidemic. Teacher
turnover -- typical teacher stays two years. It is five years nationally.
Test scores are down. Black/white achievement gap is greater. It is a
HAYES: Let me just say, Michelle Rhee is not here to defend herself
and I wish she were. I would love to have her back on to talk about this
stuff, or anyone from her organization. But it`s wonderful to have you
here. John, thank you so much.
MERROW: Thank you very much.
HAYES: PBS correspondent John Merrow, thank you. I`ll be right back
with Click Three.
HAYES: Fox News was in full red alarm siren mode this week over our
next guest. To them she is the radical Marxist coming for your kids. To
us she is the beloved Melissa Harris-Perry. That`s next.
But first I want to share the three awesomest things on the Internet
today, beginning with this excellent report and interactive feature from
"News Bound" Adam Doster (ph) on football`s concussion crisis. Scientists
are just beginning to grasp the long-term effect of concussions on players.
And their research could change the sport of football and NFL culture as we
You can click through the history of football and read not only about
the sport`s evolution, but about the effects that playing football has on
the brain, sift through profiles of athletes that endured traumatic head
injuries, and consider what can be done to protect players today suffering
from the same fate. It`s a truly fascinating look into an issue we
explored earlier this week. And I encourage you to check it out.
All right, the second awesomest thing on the Internet today comes from
Congressman Steve Stockman, Republican from Texas. Stockman has staked a
claim as Allen West`s successor as Republican House most likely to
successfully troll MSNBC. In the past, he has compared Barack Obama to
Saddam Hussein. He also brought Ted Nugent to the State of the Union. And
boy, he sure does like to Tweet, like things like "the best thing about the
Earth is if you poke holes in it, oil and gas come out."
Stockman`s latest offering to the world, today he Tweeted out the
slogan of his new campaign bumper sticker, "if babies had guns, they
wouldn`t be aborted." I don`t even really know how to begin to formulate a
response to that macabre and indecipherable phrase. But you have to admit
that as pure right wing surrealist performance art, it does have its own
kind of brilliance.
And just when you think there`s no hope left for humanity, I bring you
the third awesomest thing on the Internet today. The terrific and
brilliant Steve Kornacki begins his tenure as the host of "UP" tomorrow
morning. Steve will continue bringing informative and thought provoking
conversation to your weekends. Tune in. I will be. And I`ll be Tweeting
away with the rest of the UPers.
But don`t just take it from me. Here is "UP "super fan, the great
Carol King, posting her well wishes to Steve on the "UP "blog.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CAROL KING, VIEWER: I`m a huge fan of "UP" and I`m a huge fan of you.
I`ve been watching "THE CYCLE" and you have been fabulous. I think you are
going to totally rock "UP."
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: That is the greatest thing ever. You can find all the links
for tonight`s Click Three on our website, AllInWithChris.com. Submit your
Click Three nominees on Twitter using the hash tag Click3. We`ll be right
HAYES: Here is what I learned at the end of my second week hosting a
prime time cable news show: it is definitely a hard job. Don`t get me
wrong, it is an incredible job I`m privileged to have. But what I`m trying
to say is that it is not always easy trying to figure out what news to
cover everyday. A lot of times there`s both too much news and not enough
When there`s too much big news, the problem is trying to figure out
what information you, the public, needs most in order to make smart choices
about the way you work, live. And if you happen to be an elected official
watching, even govern.
And when there is too little news, there is definitely a temptation to
take a bunch of little news and treat it like it`s big news. So maybe --
maybe that explains what Fox News did this week with their coverage of a
single innocuous, 30 second promo by my very dear friend and colleague
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY, MSNBC ANCHOR: We have never invested as much in
public education as we should have, because we have always had kind of a
private notion of children. Your kid is yours and totally your
responsibility. We haven`t had a very collective notion of these are our
children. So part of it is we have to break through our kind of private
idea that kids belong to their parent or kids belong to their families, and
recognize that kids belong to whole communities.
Once it`s everybody`s responsibility and not just the household`s,
then we start making better investments.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Right. Not a big deal, right? But for reasons I generally
don`t understand, Fox decided this was the most scandalous pressing issue
facing the nation.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right now some new reaction to a show promotion on
the cable network MSNBC.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do your children belong to you or do they belong
to the government? Now according to NBC News` cable operation, it`s not
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You may have been given birth to them. But
according to MSNBC, your kids belong to the community.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: MSNBC`s Melissa Harris-Perry says collective is
better, kids don`t actually belong to you.
SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: She claims that, quote, "the community
owns your children," not you.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What this is she is passing the buck to Chairman
RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: The nuclear family has always
been under attack by communists, by leftists.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: MSNBC has declared war on the American fabric.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is utopia by force. This is how fascism
become gift wrapped as caring.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: "The Week`s" Matt Lewis likens her beliefs to an
Orwellian society. Sarah Palin Tweeted, "apparently MSNBC doesn`t think
your children belong to you. Un-flipping believable."
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I thought, when I first heard about it, that she
was just speaking off the cuff.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You are not sufficiently fired up, and I am. This
is collectivism, writ large. And I don`t like it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Children aren`t born to the neighborhood watch.
They are born to a man and woman. There`s a reason for that.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hillary Clinton said it takes a village. But she
never was going to say Chelsea should be raised by someone else.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Exactly.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We fought an entire Civil War, Megan, to make sure
that human beings were not considered property by the state or by anybody.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: MSNBC now -- it is confirmed -- stands for Maoist,
socialist, nut balls broadcasting company, should send a shiver down every
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She is not only a news cable host, but she is a
professor at Tulane University.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Now you may have thought that was a long montage. But that
just a hint -- a hint of the near constant coverage Fox News has devoted to
this all week. By best estimates, Melissa`s promo has had more time on Fox
this week than our on own network, making it probably the most successful
promo in the history of MSNBC. In fact, compare the four minutes Melissa`s
promo ran on our network since it was added to the Lean Forward mix last
week, to 62 minutes and 15 seconds of coverage the promo got last week on
Joining me is the one and only Melissa Harris-Perry, and host of the
eponymous weekend show here on MSNBC. I have to tell you, like I was -- we
were sitting in our work stations like watching every time -- we`re like,
that`s Melissa; oh, cool, it`s Melissa. I`m just like -- what is your
understanding of why that happened.
HARRIS-PERRY: What I like is that I think you and I have a similar
disposition towards a moment like this. I mean, it`s not fun. No one --
HAYES: It sucks, if I can say that.
HARRIS-PERRY: Sure. But it is the nature of public life. I can
remember that I said to folks that I had a -- I this feeling when I saw
Mrs. Romney on election night and how downcast her face was. And as the
wife of a man who ran for public office, like I get that moment. Whether
we agree or don`t agree, I --
HAYES: A human moment.
HARRIS-PERRY: So if it`s not fun, but who cares, because my feelings
are not the relevant question here. But the interesting thing is the
curious moment, the thing that is worth asking the question is about is,
well, why? Why this? Like of the various spots that all of us have done,
of the many hours of television that I`ve produced on the show, what is it
about this that raises the ire?
That`s been, I think for me, what`s been I guess intellectually
enjoyable over the past week, is trying to figure out what it is about
those statements that distress people so much.
HAYES: And so the next question is, what is it, in your mind? What
have you come to?
HARRIS-PERRY: What I don`t -- I remember -- I saw that you`d said
haters are going to hate. I appreciated that. It was a kind of
intellectual chivalry that I enjoyed. But I don`t think it is just that.
I don`t think it is about hating. I want to talk much more about this on
HAYES: I don`t want it scoop you.
HARRIS-PERRY: I am going to talk much more about it on the show
tomorrow. But I do think that there is a central question here about what
we think of as negative and positive freedoms. Freedom to something,
that`s positive freedom, or negative freedom, freedom from something.
That`s an old debate and a worthy debate.
HAYES: This serves as an amazing tease for your program tomorrow,
which I will be watching, right after watching "UP" with Steve Kornacki.
I want to talk to you about this Rand Paul Howard speech, because I
thought it was a sort of fascinating moment. I thought the reaction to it
was really interesting, and then the reaction to the reaction. So I want
to get your thought on that, along with the amazing Ta-Nehisi Coates and
Matt Welch, right after this.
HAYES: Joining us at the table, Matt Welch, editor in chief of the
libertarian magazine "Reason," and Ta-Nehisi Coates, senior editor at "The
Atlantic." All right, I will start with you, Matt. So Rand Paul did this
speech at Howard. I thought -- I was psyched for him to give a speech
where he basically would come out and be like, look, you`re coming from a
different place than I`m coming from. We don`t agree on much, but here is
something that you and I can see eye to eye on. The drug war in this
country is a disaster. It`s putting black and brown people in prison at
astonishing rates, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.
He didn`t do that. He did that for a small part. I kind of jumped
all over him. A lot of people got mad at me for that. What is your case
for defending Rand Paul at Howard?
MATT WELCH, "REASON MAGAZINE": Well, the man can defend himself at
Howard. I think it was an interesting speech. He did talk about these
issues that are not only talked about by Republican politicians, but are
almost never talked about by Democrats, and certainly not acted on by
Democratic politicians, too, drug war, war war, a lot of issues like that,
sentencing reform and all this kind of stuff.
I think where he erred is that he tried to talk about Republicans. He
was making a case for Republicans to Howard University, as opposed to
saying, I`m not your typical Republican. I`m a libertarian Republican. We
do this a lot differently, and here is how. He was sort of in a straight
jacket there. And then I think he didn`t forthrightly deal with the last
HAYES: Ta-Nehisi, you`ve written a lot about this. I feel like there
is this -- on the left, there`s a lot of -- there`s this sort of very
tempestuous feeling about Ron Paul before him and now Rand Paul, right,
obviously because they sometimes agree with you and they sometimes they
don`t. It drives you crazy, because sometimes they say things you really
like and sometimes they say things you really hate. And you wrote a lot
about Ron Paul in relationship to race.
I`m curious what you thought. The whole time you were away this week,
and I was like what does Ta-Nehisi think of this, this Rand Paul speech at
TA-NEHISI COATES, SENIOR EDITOR, "THE ATLANTIC": He blew an
opportunity. I have to say, all of this is great for Howard. I went to
Howard many moons ago. Go Byson. But I think what was most illustrative
to me was that the team around him, that no one said look, you are going to
get that question about the Civil Rights Act; you have to have a good,
This is not just a room full of random black people. Black history is
lived here. This is the capstone of Negro education. This is the Mecca.
You have to know he lion`s den you`re walking into. You are not going to
be able to give a lecture to these people on the history of Republicans and
African-American history and civil rights. They lived this. They stand
under the flagpole and discuss this all the time. You can`t lecture these
I`m sorry, I`m so amazed. What it shows to me is there weren`t people
around him that did like intelligence work, reconnaissance, that said, this
is where you are going, be prepared. He just kind of walked in, like what
did this button do? It was very like sort of random.
HARRIS-PERRY: I think you`re right. There is actually a libertarian
strain within African-American political thought that has a potential sort
of moment where it could have connected with Rand, right? In fact, in
those moments, he got applause. For example, when he talked about the drug
war. And certainly African-Americans have our critiques of state and local
and federal government over the years and all the --
HAYES: Go to New Orleans.
HARRIS-PERRY: Right. In New Orleans we have our critiques of these
things. But what was missed here that I think for me is the part where the
libertarianism doesn`t connect -- so it`s not just that he`s a Republican -
- is -- you know, I`m the child of a Howard alum. You`re -- what we also
know is that that university was set up by the federal government. One of
only two, right?
So it is also true that that entire tradition could not exist, that
space, none of it, except for the intervention of a federal government
which, after the Civil War, set it up.
COATES: You got a problem making a case against big government being
bad for African-Americans. I think he said when big government was coming
down to Mississippi, to protect black folks from being killed, big
government in the time that we actually did try Reconstruction was
protecting black folks from being lynched. You have to at least
WELCH: But he did. He talked about the centrality of the civil
rights amendments to the Constitution, the 13th, 14th and 15th. Damon
Roote (ph) out of "Reason" pointed out he has a different view on this than
Ron Paul does. There`s a lot of people who don`t really like the 14th
Amendment or don`t want it to be enforced too hard on the states. Rand
Paul said forthrightly that it should be. When these rights are in
conflict, the federal government has to step in. And he did defend that in
HAYES: So here is my question about how to sort of move past the
speech, which is the thing at issue, right, the thing at stake, if there`s
something to salvage there, is creating some kind of more sane drug policy.
I think that`s the thing that people on different -- different parts of
this coalition want. Today there was promising news on this. This is a
statement from Dana Rohrbacher, of all people.
HAYES: I`m saying for our audience, Dana Rohrbacher, who you may know
from some other things, who introduced a law today called the Respect State
Marijuana Laws Act that would protect people and businesses in states with
looser marijuana laws from federal prosecution. "This bipartisan bill
represents a common sense approach that establishes federal government
respect for all states` marijuana laws. It does so by keeping the federal
government out of the business of criminalizing marijuana activities in
states that don`t want it to be a criminal." There are three Republican,
three Democratic cosponsors along with him. I feel like I`ve read the
piece for 10 years now about the coming left/right coalition on criminal
justice reform. And then I feel like it never actually has happened.
HARRIS-PERRY: Well there is a left/right coalition. It is just on
the other side, right?
HARRIS-PERRY: It is a Democrat/Republican coalition that is as tough
on crime. And it was really delivered to us by the neo-liberalism of Bill
Clinton, his administration, that said, OK, what we are going to do here is
pull hard to the right. And in that hard to the right, we are going to
grow the federal prison industrial complex.
WELCH: But here is what the coalition does exist: it exist among
people. The actual human beings who are of the left and right and are not
politicians, are not scared, are not running for reelection, those are the
people who created medical marijuana. They created marijuana freedom in
Washington and Colorado. That coalition exists. And it is finally getting
some play with people like Jared Polis, the Democrat, people like Rand
Paul, Republicans. That`s small and growing.
But there is an available politics there for courageous politicians.
HAYES: And there`s available politics I think particularly as actual
coalition politics, if you can build a genuine multi-racial coalition.
That`s why that speech, in some ways, was a frustrating moment for me. Ta-
Nehisi Coates, Matt Welch, Melissa Harris-Perry, great to have you here.
That is ALL IN for this evening. "THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW" starts
right now. Good evening, Rachel.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY
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