All In With Chris Hayes, Thursday, August 8, 2013
Read the transcript from the Thursday show
ALL IN with CHRIS HAYES
August 8, 2013
Guests: Joseph Cirincione, Ryan Grim, Kim Masters, Nia-Malika Henderson,
EZRA KLEIN, GUEST HOST: Good evening, from Washington. I`m Ezra Klein,
sitting for the one and the only Christopher L. Hayes.
Tonight on ALL IN:
Nuclear states Russia and the U.S. own 94 percent of the world`s nuclear
weapons. Yes, 94 percent was that number, which makes this current spat a
bit more intense, right?
Also, tonight, the fight over Obamacare takes a recess. The summer of the
angry anti-Obamacare town hall is back. But unlike last time this story
played out, it is Republicans who are feeling the heat.
Plus, why the federal government needs to rethink the science around
All that is ahead.
But tonight we begin with the U.S. and Russia relations in a downward and
dangerous spiral. Today, White House spokesperson Jay Carney spent most of
his daily briefing fielding questions about Russia.
The president announced a rare news conference for tomorrow. We expect he
will answer a flood of questions about the increasingly chilly relations
between the two countries.
Now, when you hear the U.S. and Russia are bickering, when you hear their
relationship is deteriorating or on the rocks, I want you to keep in mind -
- these two countries, our country and Russia, still hold 94 percent of the
world`s nuclear weapons, 94 percent. You can see it on this graph.
The chart comes from a Ploughshares Fund using estimates from Hans
Kristensen and Robert North of the Federation of American Scientists. And
if you look over there on the left, you`ve got Russia with 8,500 nuclear
weapons. You`ve got America with 7,700 nuclear weapons. And then you`ve
got this long drop to third place which is France with 300 nuclear weapons.
I mean, they probably even kill, like, a billion people.
And one thing to know, by the way, is these aren`t your grandfather`s
nuclear weapons. I mean that very literally. These weapons are typically
10 to 50 times as powerful as the bombs dropped on Hiroshima. Just keep
that in mind.
Now, the reason I bring this up is not abstract. A couple years ago, when
it looked like relations between the U.S. and Russia were improving, when
we were having the great reset, as it was called, nuclear disarmament was
on the table. We were potentially going to begin drawing this armory down.
We`ve passed the START Treaty which limited both countries to having only
about 1,550 fully operational and deployed nuclear weapons beginning in
Now, look, that`s still enough to blow up the world quite a few times, but,
you know, baby steps towards not having Armageddon. And the hope is that
we could keep going further than START.
In particular, there was the idea that maybe both countries could get under
1,000 and if they could get under 1,000, they could start talking to France
and to China and to others and maybe even if total zero is impossible for
nuclear weapons, we can get the numbers down quite a bit lower. But that`s
not been happening in large part because Russian President Vladimir Putin
has not been so open to talking disarmament, unless not -- unless the
conversation includes a whole lot of other things he wants in.
That`s part of why the U.S. canceled summit, there`s no reason to have it
anymore if they weren`t going to discuss disarmament.
Now, you know, nuclear weapons are not like most issues in politics, right?
You get the deficit wrong, you get it right later. You get tax system
wrong, there`s always next year.
If you`re looking back in 10 or 20 or 30 years, and you`re really wishing
you hadn`t gotten that nuclear weapon policy wrong, you`re in a pretty dark
timeline, my friend.
Joining me now is Joe Cirincione, president of the Ploughshares Foundation,
a global security foundation, and a man trying to keep us out of a very
Joe, it`s good to see you.
JOE CIRINCIONE, PLOUGHSHARES FOUNDATION: My pleasure, Ezra. Thank you.
KLEIN: What broke down in these talks? Tell me where we were a few years
ago that had people optimistic and what happened now that has people
CIRINCIONE: When President Obama came into office, he made a very dramatic
speech in Prague in 2009, calling for this world with the safety and
security of its people can be envisioned without nuclear weapons at all and
Russia responded. President Obama and then-President Medvedev quickly
agreed on a first step, a modest treaty with verification measures that
would draw down some of the nuclear arsenal.
Domestic politics intruded in the U.S. it took a while to get the treaty
ratified. But they finally did.
KLEIN: That was late 2010.
CIRIONCIONE: That was 2010. That`s right.
Then, domestic politics blocked any further progress on this. But now,
President Obama`s re-elected. He announces in June in Berlin that he`s
ready to take the next step, go down another third.
So, cut the U.S. strategic arsenal by another third, but here`s the
problem. Putin won`t agree. He`s dragging his Cold War heels.
KLEIN: Now, and why won`t Putin agree, right? If there was this between
Obama and Medvedev, obviously, Medvedev acted, most people believe, with a
fair amount of agreement from Putin. Medvedev is still involved in the
government, as I understand it.
KLEIN: So what has happened that has changed the relationship there on
CIRINCIONE: So, basically, Putin, as the president said just the other day
on the "Tonight Show", is still trapped in this Cold War logic. He sees
these weapons as bargaining chips and has a whole lot of other issues he
wants to bargain with the United States on. Conventional sources in
Europe, provision strike weapons, other issues he`s sort of hanging on this
nuclear complex and he refuses to take that next step, and he`s got his own
missile bureaucracy. The military industrial complex in Russia that wants
to keep building these systems.
Money`s there to be made. They don`t want the president to cut.
KLEIN: Now, as I understand it, Russia actually has gone much further down
on sort of having these strategic operational, fully operational deployed
nuclear weapons out there. We`re around I think it`s 1,800 or 1,600 now.
They`re down at 1,400 or 1,500.
KLEIN: And we could -- they`re expected to fall down much lower over the
KLEIN: We don`t actually need Russia to begin to disarm our nuclear
Here`s the trap the president, himself, is in. He`s trapped by his own
Cold War bureaucracy, the people who build and maintain these weapons and
see them as bargaining chips just as Putin does.
So, the U.S. has about 1,600 strategic nuclear weapons. We`re going to two
down to about 1,550. Russia is already below that. And their weapons are
aging faster than they can replace them. We could just follow them down.
We don`t need 1,550 weapons. The joint chiefs agreed two years ago we can
carry out our military missions with about the number the president is
suggesting, about 1,000. But the president is hesitant to take that step
independently. He wants to still see if he can bring Russia along.
In effect, he`s giving Russia a veto over our posture. What kind of
weapons we deploy, how much money we spend on these. And that money is
quite a bit. We`re spending about $55 billion every year on nuclear
weapons and related programs. So these things aren`t cheap.
KLEIN: They`ve been exempted from sequestration as well.
Now, when we say, when you say that the joint chief has said to the
president, they can do the missions they need to do with 1,000 fully
operational deployed nuclear weapons, I don`t understand exactly what that
What do we need? What is the argument being made that we need 1,000 versus
700, versus 100, versus 10, or versus for that matter, 1,500 or 2,000?
CIRINCIONE: So, let`s start the other way around. Let`s think what would
you do with one nuclear weapon? 68 years ago we dropped two on Japan. We
haven`t used one since. All the wars, all the conflicts, all the crises,
neither we nor anyone else has ever felt the need to use even one nuclear
Why is that? They`re militarily useless. They don`t actually accomplish
much. And we, the United States, have a conventional military that con
accomplish any mission.
But maybe I`m wrong. Maybe you need 10 or 50 or 500. We have 5,000 in our
So the joint chiefs understand you don`t need this to combat terrorism.
You don`t need this to stare down Iran or North Korea. You could drop down
to 1,000 and still carry out the military missions, but even that number is
still based on a Cold War strategic doctrine that requires us to target
hundreds of targets in Russia with one, maybe two nuclear weapons.
Get rid of that targeting plan, you get rid of the military missions, you
could go down to a few hundred easily.
KLEIN: And given the political boundaries on this discussion, why should
people at home care if we have 1,200 versus 800? What`s the difference
between these huge numbers of nuclear weapons?
CIRINCIONE: People don`t wake up thinking about nuclear weapons. Why
would you? You think this is left in the Cold War. There are plans in
place to keep them secure.
But here`s the reality. Right now, the United States has 1,000 hydrogen
bombs on missiles ready to launch in 15 minutes -- 1,000 hydrogen bombs.
Really bad news, so does Russia, and you do not want, the United States or
Russia, making a mistake.
As safe and as secure as these things appear, accidents happen. Planes
crash. Space shuttles explode. Fingers slip. Leaders miscalculate.
And one mistake, with one of these nuclear weapons could be a disaster
beyond history. You do not want to leave these things lying around in the
state they`re in. You want to get them down to as few as possible in as
de-alerted posture as possible. That`s why the U.S./Russia relationship
KLEIN: Joseph Cirincione from Ploughshares Fund, thank you very much for
being here tonight.
CIRINCIONE: Thank you, Ezra.
KLEIN: Summertime -- after the nuclear weapons -- summertime means
blockbuster movies, barbecues, and congressional town halls with angry
constituents yelling at their elected officials about Obamacare. Again,
that is coming up.
KLEIN: In 2009, it was Democrats who were subject to the ire of Tea
Partiers who disrupted their town hall-style meetings over their objections
to Obama care, but now, now Republicans are getting a bit of that
And RNC chair Reince Priebus is on a one-man mission to ban CNN and NBC
from sponsoring any 2016 primary debates. Surprising new details on what
is behind the boycott threat are coming up.
KLEIN: It is summer recess time here in Washington, which means the
Capitol has emptied out. And members of Congress have headed home to fight
their constituents about health reform. If that`s a story, it sounds
eerily familiar, it should. Four years ago this month, at the very height
of the battle over health reform, members of Congress went home to their
districts and found the normally routine, generally civil town hall meeting
tradition had taken on something of an angry, scary circus-like atmosphere.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
RACHEL MADDOW, TRMS HOST: It`s recess time. As of Friday, the U.S. House
of Representatives is officially on recess. And they are on recess for the
rest of August.
And while that sounds like an awesome summer vacation, what it means for
House members is, as tradition dictates, they go home to their districts
and they meet with their constituents about all the hot issues on the
political stove right now.
Hottest among them, of course, is health care reform. What`s different
about this year? Well, I`ll let you judge for yourself.
MADDOW: It turns out this was not at all a one-off bad meeting. It turns
out this is happening around the country.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This bill is not the end all. It`s got a good start
and it`s got a --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Members of Congress, all live under every last rule
they make for the American people.
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
KLEIN: That is what August of 2009 looked and felt like for lots of
Democratic members of Congress. As their town halls were overtaken by an
organized and motivated Tea Party-based anti-health reform movement. Back
then there was a real sense of unity between the Republican Party and the
Republican base. This was before a viable health reform bill had actually
made it through either the House or the Senate and conservatives really
thought they could stop it.
Now, here we are four years later. Health reform is, again, taking over
congressional town halls during the August recess, but -- but, but, but --
the anti-Obamacare town hall movement this time around is a whole new ball
game. For one thing, it is Republican members of Congress who are finding
themselves in the crosshairs this summer. >
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Will you vote with Mike Lee to end, and Meadows here,
to defund Obamacare? Yes or no?
REP. ROBERT PITTENGER (R), NORTH CAROLINA: You want the thoughtful answer?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I want yes or no.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KLEIN: No. Not the thoughtful answer. I don`t want the thoughtful
answer. That was Republican Congressman Robert Pittenger of North Carolina
facing off with some constituents this week over his unwillingness to join
the small but vocal Republican caucus that thinks it can kill Obamacare by
threatening to shut down the government.
It is the kind of scene that is playing out at lots of Republican town
halls this week. And when the member of Congress in question is allowed to
give the thoughtful answer, this interparty conservative between members
and constituents plays out in a really interesting way.
Just watch what happens when Republican Congressman Tom Cole of Oklahoma
and Aaron Schock of Illinois have to explain to fairly unhappy
conservatives in their home districts why they`re not about to shut down
the government over Obamacare.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You need to represent us and we`re tired of having
this come down on us again an again.
REP. TOM COLE (R), OKLAHOMA: First of all, do you want to defund
Obamacare? Absolutely. I voted against it. I voted 40 times to repeal
Now, the question is do you want to shut down the government if you think
that will achieve it?
REP. AARON SCHOCK (R), ILLINOIS: If the budget went away tomorrow, if the
government shut down tomorrow, it would not necessarily stop the Affordable
Care Act from being implemented.
COLE: Let me talk to you about the consequences of what a complete
government shutdown is. Number one, that means your troops in the field
don`t get paid. Military is not -- I`m sorry.
SCHOCK: How many weeks would you go without paying Social Security? And
how many weeks would you go without paying the troops? And having a young
lady walk into my office whose husband is over in Afghanistan who can`t pay
her mortgage because I`m shutting the government down, because I don`t like
the health care law.
COLE: Just because you shut down the government doesn`t mean the other
side has to give in. It doesn`t mean that the senate has to pass the
SCHOCK: I`ve got to be betting on the fact the president is going to cry
uncle and capitulate and repeal his own bill.
COLE: I don`t want to be, you know, disingenuous and tell you I think
shutting down the government is a good idea, because I don`t. I`d be being
dishonest with you if I told you I thought, you know, again, it would work.
SCHOCK: You got to make sure you`re willing to kill the hostage you`ve
got, and I`m not convinced yet that that`s a hostage we should take headed
into this fight.
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
KLEIN: Aaron Schock and Tom Cole are not closet liberals. They`re very
conservative Republicans making conservative Republican arguments against a
tragedy being pushed loudly and publicly by other conservative Republicans.
This is the reality of the August recess of 2013. Obamacare is law, it`s
real, it`s done. Republicans who want to show they oppose it do not have
options left, but the internal struggle over which of these dwindling
options they choose which will become party-wide strategy is both
fascinating and important and it`s very, very consequential. If you want
to know what kind of party Republicans are going to be in the next election
cycle, watch this debate closely.
Coming up, the science on medical marijuana isn`t changing that fast, but
the way people in power interpret it is. I will explain, next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Marijuana, the dried leaves and flowers of the Indian
hemp weed is used in the form of a cigarette. Marijuana smoking, experts
point out, can make a helpless addict of its victim within weeks causing
physical and moral ruin, and death.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KLEIN: Marijuana, threat or menace? Killer or murder? That was a
decade`s old educational film, educational, on marijuana. Do you feel very
educated though? But if you take away the villainous music and hyperbole,
the message we hear is the same. Marijuana, it is very bad.
And with the local governments in Colorado and Washington state legalizing
the use of marijuana, the future of lawful marijuana use, even medical
marijuana use is unclear.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
JOHN GAMBLING: The push here in America and across America to legalize
marijuana, medical marijuana --
MAYOR MICHAEL BLOOMBERG (I), NEW YORK: Yes, right, medical my -- come on.
GAMBLING: That`s exactly the point.
BLOOMBERG: I mean, there`s no medical. This is one of the great hoaxes of
(END AUDIO CLIP)
KLEIN: The fact that more than half the country thinks marijuana should be
legal, the fact that a recent poll from the "New England Journal of
Medicine" found nearly 80 percent of doctors approve use of medical
marijuana to treat advanced cancer pain and nearly 50 percent of people
have admitted to smoking marijuana at least once in their lifetime, that
includes, by the way, this guy who ended up doing okay for himself.
It`s kind of amazing that the Obama administration still discourages even
just research into the uses of medical marijuana. And when there are
studies, the research is focused on studying abuse as opposed to benefits.
Something that the National Institute on Drug Abuse, an agency that must
approve marijuana studies in this country, readily admits. Quote, "As a
national institute on drug abuse, our focus is primarily on the negative
consequences of marijuana use. We generally do not fund research focused
on the potential beneficial medical effects on marijuana."
For all its many virtues, science is not an objective thing. The results
you get are shaped by the inquiries you choose to mount. And people tend
to choose inquiries that are likely to give them the answers they`d like,
answers that accord with the powerful status quo. Answers that won`t make
them lose their grant money or keep them from being published in reputable
In an extraordinary article today for CNN, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, who has been
skeptical about the benefits of medical marijuana, in fact outright
opposed, says he`s been mess led by that approach to science and he
apologized for his previous opposition to the legalization of medical
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN: I think, you know, we`ve been terribly and
systemically misled in this country for some time and I did part of that
misleading. I took the DEA at their word when they said it`s a schedule
substance and has no medical applications. There was no scientific basis
for them to say that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KLEIN: No scientific basis for them to say that.
Joining me now is Ryan Grim, Washington bureau chief for "The Huffington
Post" and author of the book, "This is Your Country on Drugs."
Ryan, it`s good to see you.
RYAN GRIM, THE WASHINGTON POST: Good to be here.
KLEIN: So, is the science here actually changed? When somebody like Dr.
Gupta comes on, is this in reference to new findings or reassessing old
GRIM: No, this is -- this is politics, and he admits that this is not the
result of new science having been created. It`s the result of him, he
says, looking at some of the science that had been done. He said he had
taken the word of the DEA in the past and, you know, you can kind of laugh
at that, but, you know, there are people who do consider, you know,
government agencies like this to be authoritative on a subject like this.
And Gupta was one of them.
Once he started looking into it, himself, he has a documentary coming out,
he found that I just wasn`t true.
KLEIN: And this is, I think, an interesting and old story and it`s one I
think people should be more careful about. That we in the media should be
a bit more careful about, which is that you say something is science,
right? I mean, you guys, we do it at "Wonk Blog". You do it at
"Huffington Post." It`s the first word of the headline, study and then a
colon. That`s truth, right?
But the way science is directed, the way the sort of -- the way the
institution around it decides to direct the inquiry can end up having
enormous results. You`ve had over and over and over again through history
these dominant social paradigms that get up-ended not because of science
change, but because of social mores change and people look back and say,
you know what, that was junk science.
GRIM: Right, exactly. It`s kind of like the superstructure. It`s kind of
the politics --
GRIM: Exactly. You know, the culture and the politics, you know, create
the base for the science that it`s created. And in this particular case,
not only will NIDA obviously not fund surveys that are beneficial, you
know, are drugs beneficial in any way, but they won`t let other scientists
do it because the drugs are illegal. You have to apply to the DEA to get
permission the DEA historically will not allow you to do this research. If
they do, they make you use this schwag they use in Mississippi and make you
jump through hoops. The schwag the federal government is growing isn`t
that good anyway and doesn`t let you study a lot of different strains.
It could be so simple and easy to do actual scientific research on
marijuana but the government stands in the way to make sure that doesn`t
KLEIN: And where is the Obama administration on this part of the question?
Where has the Obama administration been on the scientific question here?
GRIM: Scientifically, they`ve been great. They`ve said, look, we`re not
going to get in the way of the states. This is what they`ve said -- the
states that have passed medical marijuana laws. In practice, the DEA has
been kicking in doors in California, Washington, Montana, Colorado,
wherever there`s a medical marijuana law, there are U.S. attorneys there
spending a lot of time and resources to try to tackle what they see as a
It takes six to nine months, a former administration official told me, to
run one of these investigations on a pot shop. These pot shops are
advertising in the yellow book and in the alt weeklies and have store
fronts with pot leaves on them. It still takes them six to nine months to
run an investigation, interview all these people, then they kick the doors
in, spend all this money.
So, the Obama administration has not quite figured out where it wants to be
KLEIN: And is this a situation where because of the change in the laws in
California -- I`m sorry, not in California, in Colorado and in Washington,
you will see changes rapidly in the science? Because presumably, it won`t
be that difficult for folks to get their hands on less schwag, to use your
KLEIN: But on the other hand, you could also imagine the case where you
got these scientists were getting federal grants and you still don`t want
to touch anything like that because there will be a stigma around it.
GRIM: No, I think your first point is right, and you`re already seeing
companies now that will analyze a pot shop`s weed to make sure that it
doesn`t have mold on it. And they will tell you exactly what percentage of
THC it has in it, what percentage of other cannabinoids it has in it so
that, you know, you have actual labeling going on. Once you have labeling,
then, you can start comparing, you know, what strain of marijuana you have
to what ailment it works particularly for. And, you know, there are a lot
of scientists who are interested in this and once they see that there are
these pathways to advancement, then, I think you`re right. You`re going to
see a lot more progress.
EZRA KLEIN, MSNBC HOST: And are you seeing other states looking likely in
the near future to follow the lead of Colorado and Washington? Is there
more of a wait-and-see approach?
GRIM: Definitely. I think probably in California in 2016. Midterms are
no good for haven`t been in the past for pot referendums because you have,
you know, a lot of old people come out to vote, and that is the only
demographic left that doesn`t support legalization in a majority fashion.
So, 2016, I think, you will have at least California and probably several
other states that will put this on ballot and will pass it.
KLEIN: Ryan Grim of the "Huffington Post" and author of "this is your
country on drugs." thank you for being here tonight.
GRIM: It`s a pleasure.
KLEIN: We`ll be right back with click3.
KLEIN: The chair of the Republican national committee is trying to bully
CNN and NBC into yanking upcoming programming featuring Hillary Clinton.
That story is ahead.
But first, I want to share with you the three awesomest things on the
We begin with honor among thieves. This is actually a touching story. The
workers at the non-profit San Bernardino county sexual assault services
office arrived at work to find they had been robbed. Burglars snuck
through a crawl space. They entered through an office ceiling tile and
stole several computers, a laptop and other valuables. But by the next
morning the items were all returned, and the robbers left a little
something extra. In the laptop, a police officer found a handwritten note
that said, we had no idea what we were taking. Here`s your stuff back. We
hope that you guys can continue to make a difference in people`s lives.
God bless. It seems like the burglars found out they had pilfered a
charity that helps victims of sexual assault.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In many years and decades of being in law enforcement,
I`ve never seen someone return an item out of guilt.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KLEIN: The sign now hanging outside the office sums up the feelings of
everyone involved in the story. Proof that a change of heart can happen at
The second awesomest thing on the Internet today, an enterprising piece of
kitchen ware. Star Trek franchise, one of the most marketable in history,
it seems that no corner of the galaxy has not been mined for some kind of
trinket or promotional time. There has even a product based on this
strange scene from "Star Trek 5." The official Star Trek marshmallow
dispenser. Basically, if you want a product that has star trek on it,
there`s something out there in the universe to suit your liking.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Greetings. And welcome once again to the Star Trek
kitchen. If you`re just tuning in, we just went over the star trek cookie
cutters and the oven mat.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KLEIN: I want to see Star Trek kitchen starting (INAUDIBLE). But of all
the great star trek icons, the Starship enterprise has never found a
perfect place in everyday life. With unique shape and flat top saucer, it
seems like a big missed opportunity. Enter the no brainer of the
millennium, a USS enterprise spatula. Perfect shape. Perfect grip. No
stick deflector shields. The online retailer tech geek is giving Trekers a
chance to bring the prime directive into their kitchens.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get ready to beam up that food from a hot pan to a
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KLEIN: That is just an amazing dead pan delivery. The enterprise spatula
perfect for scraping off cling-ons. See how he did that?
And the third awesomest thing on the internet today, a modern classic,
shrink wrapped by a fan. Fans of the Lindsay Lohan comedy "Mean Girls" and
"I Am One" are legion, and their devotions to in many forms in the nine
years since the film premiered. But a young intern for the Web site Next
Movie appears to have closed the burn book for good on "Mean Girls" fandom.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hi. I`m Christopher Rosa, Next Movie intern. I will
be resetting "Mean Girls" in less than 30 minutes. Don`t believe me? Just
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KLEIN: Then he does it. Speaking at blinding speed for half an hour,
young intern Christopher Rosa performs a feat of dexterity and endurance to
impress even Glenn Koko (ph) as he comes across as a bizarre mix of Ross
from the "Tonight Show," Ray Man," and the guy from the micro machines
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KLEIN: He does the whole thing in a cool 28 minutes and 18 seconds. Very
entertaining. I`m not sure if I`m ready to sit through his 30 minute
version of "herby fully loaded."
You can find the links for tonight`s click3 on our Web site,
We will be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REINCE PRIEBUS, CHAIRMAN, REPUBLICAN NATIONAL COMMITTEE: I have to set a
debate calendar that has the best interests on our party and our nominees
in mind. And if I`ve got NBC doing a miniseries with Diane Lane starring
on behalf -- portraying Hillary Clinton on a four-day miniseries, I have
got to tell you, it makes my choice of moderators much easier. And that`s
the only point I`m making now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KLEIN: Yes, that Diane Lane.
That was RNC chair Reince Priebus this morning continuing his one man media
blitz previously is threatening to yank the Republican debates from CNN and
NBC, unless both networks agree to pull the plug on upcoming programming.
Not just any programming, of course. He`s not upset about "Parks and Rec."
But two productions featuring Hillary Rodham Clinton.
At issue, two scheduled television events about the former and perhaps
future presidential candidate. One, a CNN documentary that will be
released in theaters and air on the cable news channel, the other an NBC
miniseries starring Diane Lane. In his (INAUDIBLE) it will follow
Clinton`s life beginning in 1998, the height of the Monica Lewinsky
scandal. Both are scheduled to air next year.
Priebus sent letters to both CNN and NBC and informed the two organizations
they would not be allowed to host any 2016 primary debates if they go
through with their plans. Priebus argues that the film show political
favoritism instead of objective story telling. He`s not seen them, of
course. He spent the better part of this week making his case.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PRIEBUS: I mean, unless you`re an idiot like Anthony Weiner, generally I
will tell you, generally, Erin, these are positive developments for
candidates. It builds up that cult personality, and CNN is going to play a
role in it.
My point is this, you know, we have to control the referees that we`re
bringing into our playground. And right now, I don`t -- I can`t trust two
organizations that are willing to spend millions of their own dollars in
promoting a candidate that they know is gearing up to run for president.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KLEIN: Isn`t that a great line, we have to control the referees?
It is important to note that the Clintons are not involved in either
project. CNN says its film unit operates independently and has no
editorial input from CNN, itself. Meanwhile, some NBC news journalists
expressed concern over the Clinton miniseries. The organization issuing
NBC News is completely independent of NBC entertainment and has no
involvement in this project.
NBC entertainment, a separate entity issued a statement of its own.
NBC entertainment has many projects in development, this particular
miniseries which has nothing to do with the NBC News division, is in very
early stages. The script has not been written nor it hasn`t been ordered
to production. It would be premature to draw any conclusions or make any
assumptions about it at this time.
Joining me now is Nia-Malika Henderson, my colleague at the "Washington
Post," where she is a political reporter and host of Post TV`s terrific on
background, James Poniewozik, columnist for "Time" magazine where he covers
TV and pop culture. His piece on the proposed Hillary Clinton TV project
is up right now on time.com. And Kim Masters, editor at-large for
Hollywood reporter. Her piece on Hollywood`s Hillary war can be found on
Kim, I want to begin with you. And I want to talk to you as a TV critic
here because the first thing, before we got to Reince, the first thing I
think of when I see you are going to do -- people are going to do Hillary
documentaries is that is actually kind of a tough story to tell. The ark
is a little peculiar. It has this sort of terrible Lewinsky incident, then
there is the Senate, then she loses the presidential campaign and then she
kind of comes back by doing a good solid job as secretary of state. It`s a
very weird narrative ark for everybody to be salivating over.
KIM MASTERS, THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER: Well, that certainly an argument that
I have heard made by people who are allies of Hillary Clinton and that it
is a weird ark. I think it`s kind of irrational to presume and that this
would necessarily be a positive treatment. I mean, this documentarian,
Charles (INAUDIBLE), his last film won the Oscar, it was about the
financial meltdown. It was not some kind of upbeat, cheerful, you know, a
hagiography of somebody on Wall Street.
So as I understand it, from friends of Hillary Clinton, this documentary is
actually of more concern to the Clintons than the four hour NBC miniseries
that`s contemplated because that would be fictional.
KLEIN: Well, Nia-Malika, I think that`s actually a kind of an important
point here. I don`t know that many politicians publishers who love the
idea of some television network taking their story and try to play it for
ratings. So, it doesn`t always end well.
NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, POLITICAL REPORTER, THE WASHINGTON POST: Yes, it
doesn`t. You know, I can`t imagine anyone, from Beyonce to Oprah to, you
know, I don`t care what it is, you don`t want a room of television writers,
you know, in a room, in writing about you and picking over the bones of
your life. I mean, Hillary Clinton wants to control the narrative of her
public image. And if she`s actually going to run for president, she
certainly doesn`t want four hours of TV and then a documentary and then her
people are going to have to answer to the charges in those documentaries
and in those miniseries. She`s going to have to spin whatever happens.
She`s always going to be questioned about it.
So, I think Reince is doing her a favor by trying to kill these
documentaries because it won`t end good. I mean, television miniseries
about people are usually full of camp, they are full of melodrama, and I
just think it`s a bad look for Hillary Clinton and she`d be lucky if
Reince, you know, wins this war.
KLEIN: But then, James, isn`t the other part of this, I mean, or I would
assume at least, Reince basically trying to change documentaries,
themselves. I mean, assuming that he doesn`t think he will actually cut
them off, you will now have the folks behind them making sure when they
come out they can`t be accused of political favoritism which should tilt
them in a more negative direction against Clinton.
JAMES PONIEWOZIK, TV CRITIC, TIME MAGAZINE: In theory, I think there is
certainly an element of trying to work the refs here, right? It is either
KLEIN: Control them even.
PONIEWOZIK: Yes, control them. And yes, I think that was a pretty telling
phrase. I mean, if the pieces end up getting made, then by applying
pressure, you can try to make sure that you are, you know, kind of nudging
them in a direction you like better. And then you can still call them
biased and complain about them when they air, or if you want to say, as the
RNC has been reported to want, cut back on your debates anyway, now you
have an excuse to do it without the base of your party saying you`re trying
to shut them down and you shut down insurgence. No, you`re striking back
against the biased liberal opinion media.
KLEIN: Kim, do you think there`s much chance these will actually be
canceled? Or at least the NBC one, which is early on in the production.
Do you think there is much chance that there will be a fold to the
MASTERS: I do, actually. It`s not NBC News. It`s NBC, the broadcast
network. And I was in the room when it was announced last month at a
gathering of TV critics. And the first thing I tweeted was, what could go
wrong? We have already seen the Reagans. That was supposed to air on CBS.
It was dropped. History dropped a $30 million miniseries about the
So clearly, certainly NBC, it could just decide, you know, it`s not working
out, quietly bury it. Think about the star, Diane Lane of that proposed
miniseries and the writer and director. They`re both represented by
William Morrison Dever (ph), headed by Aria Manuel (ph), which is as you
might know, Rahm Emanuel`s brother, himself, a huge Democratic supporter.
The Kennedys could derail a $30 million miniseries on the history channel,
think about the numerous entry points between NBC and various other places
that could be used by maybe not the Clintons, themselves, but friends and
surrogates and liberal groups which are already coming out against this. I
just wouldn`t be surprised if this happens.
KLEIN: Also I think the point James makes about Reince not being upset to
have a reason to cancel a couple debates is important.
I want to ask you about it, Nia-Malika, when we come back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PRIEBUS: I`m not going to have you moderate the Republican debates in our
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE REPORTER: Why not?
PRIEBUS: I mean, there`s a difference.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE REPORTER: Why not?
PRIEBUS: Because you`re not interested -- because you`re not actually
interested in the future of the Republican party and our nominees. That`s
not a slam on you, Mika, but I have to choose moderators that are actually
interested in the Republican party, in our nominees.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KLEIN: I`m not sure that word interested means precisely what Reince
Priebus thinks it means. That was, of course, RNC chair Reince Priebus
earlier on "Morning Joe." Priebus has been demanding NBC and CNN pull
upcoming programming featuring Hillary Clinton. If they don`t, Priebus
says the networks could lose the opportunity to host Republican debates.
And as you just heard, Priebus argues the debate moderator selected
shouldn`t be objective, but rather, quote, "interested in the Republican
party and our nominees." I don`t just think he means curiosity there. It
has kind of an odd point, considering one of the toughest question in
lobbed at the last batch of Republican candidates was from FOX News.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: I`m going to ask a question to everyone
here on the stage. Say you had a deal, a real spending cuts deal, 10-1, as
Byron said. Spending cuts to tax increases. Speaker, you`re ready shaking
your head. But who on this stage would walk away from that deal? Can you
raise your hand if you feel so strongly about not raising taxes, you`d walk
away on the 10-1 deal?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KLEIN: I`m back with Nia-Malika Henderson from the "Washington Post,"
James Poniewozik from "Time" magazine and Kim Masters from the Hollywood
And Nia-Malika, to me, that was a signature from all of the debates. I
mean, there were I think, if I remember, 16,012 and 272 debates in 2012.
That was I thought the most important moment. And if you compare that
debate, which is a very tough debate in the FOX moderator to the CNN debate
where Newt Gingrich kind of dressed, I believe it was John King down.
HENDERSON: Right. Down in South Carolina.
KLEIN: This idea, just having people who are sort of in your camp a little
bit more means an easy debate, it`s not always true.
HENDERSON: That`s right. And let`s remember, I mean, Rick Perry`s awful
moment where he couldn`t remember the three agencies he wanted to cut.
That wasn`t the moderator forcing him to do that. That was him.
And same thing with Mitt Romney and some of his positions on immigration,
which he explained in the debate. That wasn`t the moderator who was
forcing him to take those positions. It was him.
So, this idea that they can sort of craft this sort of hot house
environment, this perfect environment for their candidates, and referee the
moderators, or that they can pick them. I`m not sure that Reince Priebus
is picking Brett Baier to moderate a debate. I`m sure that it is the folks
over it cause.
KLEIN: And it`s not even clear to me, James, that it`s a great thing for
Republicans to have further right moderators in the debates because one of
the things that happened in Republican primary last time, there was of
great detriment to Mitt Romney, is he got trapped a little bit on the
right. The Republican primaries got so kind of taken over by the
conservative base there that it ended up being a real liability in the
general election. There`s a case to be made, actually, that opening this
thing up a little bit is not the worst thing for candidates who eventually
will have to be running in the more uncontrolled general.
Another reason that the Republicans may regret the way the primary debates
went last time, it was also to there were so many debates, and many of them
were really, they sort of tilted the debate of the primary toward some of
the farther right candidates who took -- it sort of turned serially beating
up on Mitt Romney. And you know, there`s an argument that didn`t help him
in the election which again goes back to this theory that maybe the
Republicans would just prefer, the Republican National Committee, rather,
as opposed to their voters, would prefer to just have fewer debates that
could potentially get the establishment candidate into trouble.
KLEIN: Kim, I think one of the interesting questions going forward, the
2012 primary, particularly, was a campaign played out on TV so much more
forthrightly than most of the others were I mean, the amount of actual door
knocking and then sort of ground organizing was much less in part the
challenges to Romney were simply completely underfunded. Do you think the
2016 campaign is going to be as aggressively television focused?
MASTERS: Well, I agree with a previous statement. I think, perhaps, the
lesson was learned from the sort of internesian struggles last time. And I
think there was a degree of overexposure. I imagine both sides will want
to control how much time they have to tear each other apart.
KLEIN: And Nia-Malika, do you actually think that Reince Priebus has a
sort of a long-term strategy? Do you think in the back of his mind he
knows who he wants to debate and he is trying to create the politics or do
you think this is something where he sort of took a couple shots, became a
big media thing and nobody is quite sure what the end game is?
HENDERSON: Yes. And I think that`s right. I don`t think they know. I
mean, it`s the summer. Congress is on vacation. Obama is going on
vacation on Saturday. It`s a slow news cycle. I think I`m a little
surprised at how much traction this has gotten and it`s gotten traction,
right? Because Chuck Todd has weighed in on it, Andrea Mitchell weighed in
on it, some of the folks on "morning Joe" as well.
KLEIN: We are just covering the controversy.
HENDERSON: Yes. You guys aren`t fueling anything. But it`s hard to know
what this long-term strategy is other than trying to kneecap Hillary
Clinton as early and often as he can and also ginning up primary supporters
KLEIN: It is one piece of the long-term strategy, that he`s got his own
constituency, that he`s got his own, to be sort of seen as fighting on
behalf of the Republican party. This is not --
HENDERSON: Exactly. He is fighting the good fight against the lame stream
media and you always come out ahead with the Republican, you know, party
base when you`re doing that.
KLEIN: James, do you think if the actual documentary goes forward it will
in the end make a difference? Do you think this will just be, we`re years
out, by that point it will be forgive and forget?
PONIEWOZIK: It`s not going to make squat of difference. And I can`t
imagine that anybody involved in this believes it. You know, I thought
maybe the Clinton camp is nervous about it because they`re leading by 5,000
points in the early polls and why should they want to do anything that
rocks the boat?
But no, I mean, Hillary Clinton has been a public figure for two decades.
It`s not like there are that many people out there who don`t already have
established opinions of her or know something about her. And two years
from now in the primary, three years from now if she`s in the general
election, it`s going to be nothing.
KLEIN: James, thank you very much. We got to run. Nia-Malika Henderson
from "the Washington Post." James Poniewozik from "Time" magazine. Kim
Masters from the Hollywood Reporter. Thank you very much for being here
That is "All In" for this evening. The "Rachel Maddow Show" begins right
Good evening, Rachel.
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST, THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW: Good evening, Ezra.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY
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