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PoliticsNation, Friday, August 30th, 2013

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POLITICS NATION
August 30, 2013

Guests: Brian Katulis, Victoria DeFrancesco Soto, Lee Daniels


AL SHARPTON, MSNBC ANCHOR: Thanks to you for tuning in. Tonight`s
lead -- making the case. Today, President Obama made it clear, Syria will
have to answer for what the Secretary of State called a "brutal and
flagrant" use of chemical weapons against its own citizens. It comes just
hours after White House intelligence report was released detailing the
horrors within that country and evidence that it has against the Assad
regime.

The president met earlier today with his national security team. And
while he confirmed that no final decision has been made, he said the
atrocities cannot be ignored.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This kind of attack is
a challenge to the world. We cannot accept a world where women and
children and innocent civilians are gassed on a terrible scale. This kind
of attack threatens our national security interests by violating well
established international norms against the use of chemical weapons, by
further threatening friends and allies of ours in the region like Israel
and Turkey and Jordan. And it increases the risk that chemical weapons
will be used in the future and fall into the hands of terrorists who might
use them against us.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: His comments come after secretary of state Kerry laid out a
forceful case for a strike against Syria.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN KERRY, SECRETARY OF STATE: The American intelligence community
has high confidence, high confidence. This is common sense. This is
evidence. These are facts. So the primary question is really no longer
what do we know. The question is what do we, we collectively, what are we
in the world going to do about it?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: In great detail, secretary Kerry presented the evidence
that put the Assad regime behind the chemical attack that left more than
1400 dead, including 426 children. That included intercepted
communications from a top Syrian office who confirmed that chemical weapons
were used by the regime on August 21st and was concerned with the U.N.
inspectors obtaining evidence.

The report came after a very disturbing video shot by the BBC has
surfaced on another attack this past Monday on a school there. Rebels
claim the Assad regime bombed the area with a napalm-like substance,
killing ten and injuring dozens more.

Today the administration made the case that images like this require
action, even though this country is weary of war.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KERRY: We know that after a decade of conflict, the American people
are tired of war. Believe me, I am too. But fatigue does not absolve us
of our responsibility. Just longing for peace does not necessarily bring
it about. And history would judge us all extraordinarily harshly if we
turned a blind eye to a dictator`s wanton use of weapons of mass
destruction against all warnings, against all common understanding of
decency.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: The world waits for a decision.

Joining me now is NBC News White House correspondent Kristen Welker,
and Brian Katulis, who is a senior fellow at the center for American
Progress.

Thank you both for coming on the show tonight.

BRIAN KATULIS, SENIOR FELLOW, CENTER FOR AMERICAN PROGRESS: Good to
be with you.

KRISTEN WELKER, NBC NEWS WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Thank you.

SHARPTON: Kristen, what can you tell us about decision-making going
on at the White House?

WELKER: Well, Reverend Al, I think what we heard today is that it is
essentially no matter, no longer a case of if but when we will see some
type of action coming from this White House. President Obama has said he
hasn`t actually made a decision yet. But I believe that it`s essentially
what type of action we will take. That`s the decision he is trying to
determine at this point in time.

The president saying that it would be a limited strike. That would
essentially mean a cruise missile fired from warships. We know there are
five warships in the Mediterranean, some submarines right now. This is a
strike if it when it take place that would last anywhere from two to three
days. It would be limited in scope.

The president, secretary of state John Kerry making it very clear that
they do not intend to engage the United States in another Iraq. Having
said all of that, Reverend Al, as you know, the United States had wanted a
broad international coalition. They didn`t get that. Just yesterday the
British parliament voted no to military engagement.

SHARPTON: Over the plea of Mr. Cameron, I believe, that Cameron has
pushed for this.

WELKER: Absolutely.

SHARPTON: And they rejected it anyway.

Anyway, let me go to you a minute on this, Brian. The president, as
Kristen said, he was at this point considering limited and narrow military
response. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: In no event are we considering any kind of military action
that would involve boots on the ground, that would involve a long-term
campaign, but we are looking at the possibility of a limited, narrow act
that would help make sure that not only Syria, but others around the world
understand that the international community cares about maintaining this
chemical weapons ban.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Now Brian, limited, no boots on the ground, targeted, and I
understand saying they would not use any funds that is not already in
defense. So it wouldn`t take away from any other domestic programs.

Now, for many of us, including me that opposed the war and oppose any
interventions like this, does this -- does this do you think limit a lot of
those that would have active opposition to move at this point?

KATULIS: I actually think it doesn`t. I think the president and
secretary Kerry did a very good job making the case that elements of the
Assad regime use chemical weapons on their people. And it`s just horrific
to see the impact on those people.

But what they did not do today is actually adequately address the
potential risks of even a limited and targeted strike. It`s crystal clear
that they`re not doing what they did in Iraq here. There aren`t troops
going in or anything like that. But there are multiple threats that could
result as a reaction to even limited strikes. You`ve got terrorist
organizations in Syria that might use this as an opportunity to strike
against Israel and other allies in the United States. You`ve got even the
possibility that the Assad regime could take a strike like this and use it
to actually use chemical weapons again. There is no guarantee that a
limited strike would actually serve as a deterrent, which is a core
argument that the administration is making.

So the main point I have got to stress, and I think there is so much
uncertainty even with such a limited strike as defined by the president has
deemed.

SHARPTON: Now Kristen, how important is public opinion to the White
House? Are they weighing and gauging public opinion as the president moves
toward his decision?

WELKER: Well, I think they are. And I think they have been for quite
some time. They have been aware of the fact. And in my conversations with
senior administration officials here, they have pointed to the fact that
this is a war weary nation. That is one of the reasons why you have seen
this president take such a deliberate response to try to find out how to
respond to this latest chemical weapons attack.

Of course, our latest NBC News/"Wall Street Journal" poll shows that
50 percent of Americans are opposed to military intervention. However, if
you ask them more specifically about a limited attack, 50 percent of
Americans actually say that they could get behind that. But almost eight
in 10 say look, they want Congress to vote on this. We know that some
members of Congress have come forward and said they would like to vote on
this. I have to tell you, I don`t see that happening as of right now. You
have house speaker John Boehner calling for broader consultations with
Congress. However, the language is interesting, Reverend Al.

House speaker John Boehner is not calling for a vote right now. You
have congressional leaders who aren`t necessarily calling for a vote. What
they do want is more consultation with Congress.

SHARPTON: Now, Brian, Syria has come out now and said that what
secretary Kerry is saying is baseless and a lie. And the president, as
Kristen just said he too is tired of war, but that we have an obligation as
a world leader. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: I`m very clear that the world is generally war-weary.
Certainly the United States has gone through over a decade of war. The
American people understandably want us to be focused on the business of
rebuilding our economy here and putting people back to work. And I assure
you nobody ends up being more war-weary than me.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Now you have him saying he is war-weary, but that we have
an obligation. And he is going to be targeted, no resources from domestic
spending. We`re faced some of us was with Sudan or Rwanda. How do we deal
with the atrocities, but at the same time not going to a military action,
Brian? What would you say would be the way the White House could respond
without the risk that you feel?

KATULIS: Well, the biggest thing they need to do, and I think they`re
doing this some degree, is to get other partners, especially those that are
in the region to pull their weight, OK. The expectation that the United
States should do it all, I think really we should throw away, because
you`ve got so many countries in the region that benefit from U.S. military
assistance already including Jordan, Turkey, Israel, many of the gulf
states that have been prodding the United States and in fact criticizing
President Obama for not doing enough on Syria could actually do more to
mitigate the risks of what looks like to be a likely cruise missile strike
by the United States.

So I think that`s the number one thing is we`ve got to get beyond this
era, which I think we saw very clearly under President Bush over the
previous decade that if it`s not just us, no one else is going to do it.
And we have got to demand more from other countries, and quite frankly,
those countries in the region that are neighboring Syria are the ones that
are threatened the most by the conflict there.

SHARPTON: All right. Kristen Welker and Brian Katulis, thank you
both for your time this evening.

KATULIS: Thanks.

WELKER: Thank you, Reverend Al.

SHARPTON: Ahead, military action in the shadow of the Iraq war, the
grave moral dimension of the decision facing President Obama.

Also, in the wake of the Republican snub of the war of the March on
Washington, Bill O`Reilly is on the defensive.

And on a week we celebrate progress, it`s the remarkable story of a
man with a front row seat to civil rights history. Why "the butler" movie
moved the president to tears. My interview with "the Butler" director and
Hollywood ground breaker Lee Daniels is coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: Have you joined the "Politics Nation" conversation on face
book yet? We hope you will.

It seems everyone on our site is talking about the big Republican snub
for the commemoration of the March on Washington.

Nancy says this is another example of lip service that they are for
equal rights. Action speak louder than words.

Jimmy says this is not how you get the African-American vote. It sure
doesn`t help.

And Remell says 90 percent of the people there didn`t need an
invitation.

Good point, Remell.

Coming up, we are learning exactly where some of those Republicans
were instead of the march. It really shows their priorities.

But first, we want you to tell us what you think. Please head over to
facebook and search "Politics Nation" and like us to join the conversation
that keeps going long the show ends.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: Making the moral case for military action? The entire
world has seen the videos. Syrian people attacked by chemical weapons.
Today, the White House released much more intelligence, saying there is
compelling evidence the Syrian government launched the attack. Secretary
of state John Kerry said the U.S. can`t tolerate that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KERRY: It matters because a lot of other countries whose policies
challenge these international enormous are watching. They are watching.
They want to see whether the United States and our friends mean what we
say. It is directly related to our credibility and whether countries still
believe the United States when it says something. They are watching to see
if Syria can get away with it, because then maybe they too can put the
world at greater risk.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: The world is watching as the president weighs a major
decision. And looming over him is the shadow of our involvement in Iraq.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: Not a repetition of Iraq, which I know a lot of people are
worried about.

KERRY: More than mindful of the Iraq experience. We will not repeat
that moment.

OBAMA: It`s a certain suspicion of any military action post Iraq.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: No one wants another Iraq. But is there a moral need to
get involved here?

Joining me mess Melissa Harris-Perry and E.J. Dionne. Thank you both
for your time.

MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY, MSNBC ANCHOR, MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY SHOW: Thank
you.

E.J. DIONNE, COLUMNIST, THE WASHINGTON POST: Good to be with you,
Reverend.

SHARPTON: Melissa, this is a big debate. There is no question the
attacks in Syria are awful. But what is your take on going to work?

HARRIS-PERRY: Look. So, this president we know is a student of
history. And so he has two examples in recent history. He has President
Clinton who did not intervene in Rwanda in the context of genocide. And of
course, he has Samantha Power and Susan Rice there from that
administration. So undoubtedly, he is weighing that. He is also of course
got the most immediate president who took us into the war in Iraq on faulty
--

SHARPTON: Right.

HARRIS-PERRY: At best, at faulty intelligence, and embroiled us in a
decade-long war. And then he is also a student of a longer history. We
heard there from secretary Kerry when he said this is about the credibility
of the United States, about our strength sort of in general as we do the
work of the world. So even beyond this immediate point, and so, he knows
from world war II and from world war I what happened in that interwar
period, how important it is that America`s word be its bond. And yet, and
yet the reality is we have a very difficult position as a nation standing a
particular moral authorities who make this claim. People want national
security claim, not a moral one.

SHARPTON: Now, E.J., as Melissa laid this out, I remember in `90s,
the early `90s the whole problem with the Clinton administration not doing
something about Rwanda. I`m opposed to war. I`m certainly opposed to
unilateral intervention. But I went to Rwanda, and I said the Clinton
administration should do something.

So you are caught here, as Melissa just laid out between which pools
of history, what do you see? And when you look at the fact that we are
remembering all too well after you get past Rwanda, the lead-up to the Iraq
war, and today former President Bush was actually asked about Syria. Watch
this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE W. BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I was not a
fan of Mr. Assad. He`s ally of Iran and he`s made mischief.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: And what about the rest of the world
saying well, we`re not really too sure. We`re going wait for the U.N.
you`ve been through that before.

BUSH: The president has to make a tough call, Brian. I know you`re
trying to subtly rope me into the issues of the day. I refuse to be roped
in. Putting military into harm`s way is the toughest decision a president
will make.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: The toughest decision a president can make. How can
President Obama prevent them from being another Iraq, E.J.?

DIONNE: You know, I think that as Melissa laid out, there are
competing histories here, and the competing histories are why progressives
and Democrats are really split on this where in the NBC poll, I think
Democrats are 46-46 down the middle on whether we should attack Syria or
not. And a lot of it is which past you remember. Do you remember Bosnia,
Kosovo, and Rwanda, or do you remember Iraq?

There is something very eerie almost about watching John Kerry today.
I thought it was an effective speech. But what came to mind was Colin
Powell who also gave an effective speech. Now, I think in fairness, I
think the evidence here is better. And I have concluded reluctantly that
we have no choice but to do this, because we do have to -- it`s more than
send a message. We have got to take action to say that there was a line
crossed here that we don`t want crossed again. And that is the line of
using chemical weapons. And it`s particularly gruesome in a way used
against your own people.

But I think there is a lot of legitimate worry out there about what
happens the day after and the day after that. I think the president wants
to do this in a way that doesn`t get us engaged deeply. But it`s going to
have to affect the balance of power inside the civil war some or it won`t
be a very effective response to the use of chemical weapons.

SHARPTON: But Melissa, how does the president do it in a way that he
controls that it can be in and out?

HARRIS-PERRY: And see, this is the challenge. Because Syria is not a
country that has a strong internal civil society with a set of
organizations that are prepared to come in and take power if and when
Assad`s government goes away, right. It is very difficult to imagine how
this does not become a long-term entanglement if our goal is to destabilize
or come in on one side of this civil war question. The alternative people
for governing in Syria do not necessarily look any better in terms of world
human rights questions.

SHARPTON: No doubt about it.

You know, E.J., the president`s ambassador to the U.N., Samantha
Power, who Melissa mentioned, worked as a journalist and scholar on human
rights and genocide. And she has written, quote, "when innocent life is
being taken on such a scale and the United States has the power to stop the
killing at reasonable risk, it has a duty to act."

The U.S. has a duty to stop killing. Is this the theory that you think the
president is considering action under?

DIONNE: DIONNE: Well, I think partly, although the key words there
are at reasonable risk. And how do you define that?

I think the president is very aware of his own word. When he said
that there was a red line here, he now knows if he doesn`t act, it`s going
to be a real problem for his credibility. But I think their hope is to go
to what Melissa was saying, this is the ideal scenario, which is our
intervention sends a signal not just to Assad, but to Russia and Iran where
they say, you know, the U.S. is going to be much more engaged here. Maybe
it`s time to move to negotiation. I think their ideal outcome is that this
strike or whatever it turns out to be has enough effect that the people
backing Assad, if not Assad himself decide maybe it`s time to go for a
negotiated settlement.

SHARPTON: Now, Melissa, on the one hand, Iran could say let`s
negotiate or Assad could say it. On the other hand, the British parliament
just voted against any kind of action. So where are the United States`
allies? Because many of us have been opposed to a unilateral move.

HARRIS-PERRY: Yes.

SHARPTON: Can there be a broadening move of more than the United
States, given that the British vote. Is that a signal that this is going
to be complicated?

HARRIS-PERRY: I got to tell you, this is one of the things we`ll talk
about on MHP show tomorrow morning. But I am irritated by the British
vote. Not so much because they -- I mean, obviously, they have a right as
a sovereign nation to make their own decisions.

But the question of British relationship to this area of the world, to
the old imperial relationships that created all of these states that don`t
have the same sort of nation state boundaries that Europe has. In other
words, where they put peoples who are very different kinds of peoples
together into one people because it served the geopolitical interests of
Europe. And then for now all of these decades later for that to begin to
fall apart. And for the British to be like well, that`s not our problem.

It is a serious, particularly as we talk about the moral questions
here, it is a serious question about the morality of that intervention.
Yes, we have to I think make a decision separate and apart from whether or
not great Britain is prepared to be our ally here.

SHARPTON: Well, I`m going to get the rest of that on MHP in the
morning.

Melissa Harris-Perry, I got to go. E.J., thank you for your time
tonight.

And you will be sure too, E.J. and the rest of you, to catch Melissa
Harris-Perry weekends 10:00 a.m. eastern here on MSNBC.

Ahead, we`re going to the spin zone. Why the great Republican snub of
the march on Washington is putting Bill O`Reilly on the defensive. We will
report, you decide.

And President Obama`s emotional response to seeing "the Butler." I
talked to the Hollywood groundbreaker Lee Daniels, coming up. Stay with
us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: Coming up, the greet GOP snub. None of the Republicans
invited to speak at the march on Washington bothered to show up. Last
night, we told you where Majority Leader Eric Cantor chose to go instead.
Here he is, rubbing elbows with oil industry lobbyists in North Dakota.
Way to open that tent, GOP. And today we`re learning more about the other
Republicans` whereabouts. It`s amazing, and it`s next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: We`re back with more fallout from the incredible republican
snub of the march on Washington. Today everyone is talking about a big
unexpected apology.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BILL O`REILLY, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: Last night during my discussion with
James Carville about the Martin Luther King commemoration, I said there
were no republican speakers invited. Wrong. I was wrong. Some
Republicans were asked to speak. They declined. And that was a mistake.
They should have spoken. Now, the mistake entirely on me. I simply
assumed that since all the speakers were liberal Democrats, Republicans
were excluded.

So here is the tip of the day. Always check out the facts before you
make a definitive statement. And when you make a mistake, admit it. By
the way, I`m sorry I made that mistake. It`s very annoying, because I know
you guys watch "The Factor" for accuracy.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Really? People watch "The Factor" for accuracy? Hmm.
Sounds like another false statement that needs to be corrected. Anyway, we
know Republicans were invited. So where did they choose to go instead?
What was a bigger priority? Eric Cantor was invited to speak. But as we
told you last night, he was found here. Here he is in North Dakota with
oil industry lobbyists. Speaker Boehner, he was invited to take the
podium. But declined.

Now we know where he was instead. In Wyoming, headlining a GOP
fundraiser this month. What about Senator John McCain? He was invited to
speak. And now we know where he was. During the march, he was at a
business roundtable in Arizona. So they were too busy with oil lobbyists,
donors, and business roundtables. There is that GOP outreach at work.

Joining me now is Victoria DeFrancesco Soto. Thanks for joining me,
Victoria.

VICTORIA DEFRANCESCO SOTO, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Thanks, Rev.

SHARPTON: In his apology, Bill O`Reilly explained that he`d simply
assumed Republicans hadn`t been invited. The idea that they would just
skip the march seemed too crazy, even to him. I think that says a lot,
Victoria.

SOTO: It does. But this is part of a larger pattern that we have
seen. And Republicans snubbing democratic invitations, from screenings at
the White House to state dinners. There`s just this partisan divide.
Republicans do not want to reach over, engage with President Obama. And
quite frankly, they`re being rational about it, because they know that
their base, their very conservative extreme base is going to punish them if
they show any signs of wanting to reach out in a bipartisan fashion, even
if it`s in something so symbolic as the march on Washington.

SHARPTON: No, you know, you`re right. Over the years, we`ve seen
Republicans snub the President, ranging from petty to ridiculous. In 2011,
60 newly elected republican house members skipped a White House reception.
In 2012, republican leaders including Speaker Boehner skipped a White House
screening of a film called "Lincoln." And this year republican Congressman
Steve Pearce skipped the President`s State of the Union Address to attend a
hearing on the lesser prairie chicken. So, I mean this is just a whole
pattern of many of the Republicans. And you say it`s in reaction to the
extremists in their party?

SOTO: It is. And what we`re seeing here is a lack of civility, a
lack of professionalism. And ultimately, a lack for the respect of the
office of the presidency. Regardless of who is in office, citizens, just
regular Joe Schmos (ph) and also Congress members need to respect that
office. And we`re seeing this disrespect continually throughout the
presidency of Barack Obama.

Now, you know, let me let you hear how the right wing reacted to the
celebration of the march on Washington. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

O`REILLY: Grievance mongering does the cause of civil rights no good
whatsoever, period.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: All we heard was, here are the problems. Stop
and frisk. Here are the problems, Trayvon Martin.

SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: Multiple references made to Trayvon
Martin.

RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: It`s a near crime what is being
done here to take the occasion of this man`s great address and what he
stood for and basically hijack it for President Barack Obama. If I were
President Obama, I would be a little embarrassed I can`t stand on my own.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: I mean, Victoria, this is some ugly stuff. We`re talking
about the commemoration Wednesday with three presidents. We`re not talking
about the big march last Saturday, raising social issues. For them to talk
in that language, and to snub that is some really, really terrible
inferences you can draw from that.

SOTO: You know, and it`s surprising, because if you think back
historically to 1964, who was there? Republicans were there. Republicans
actually voted to approve the civil rights act at greater proportions than
Democrats did. In 1964 later that year, they did start to turn their backs
from African-Americans with Barry Goldwater and others of the ilk. But
where have they been for the last 40 to 50 years? And I think it
culminated in the press that we saw, such as the reels that you played.
Where have Republicans been as a space for them? Why don`t they return to
what they were initially doing for the civil rights movement?

SHARPTON: Victoria DeFrancesco Soto, we`ll have to leave there it.
Thank you for your time tonight.

SOTO: Thank you, Rev.

SHARPTON: Ahead, what a week it`s been. President Obama honored the
legacy of the civil rights movement and revealed his emotional response to
a movie about it. My interview with Lee Daniels, the director of "The
Butler" is next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: President Obama describes how he felt watching "The
Butler." And my interview with Lee Daniels, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: It`s been a remarkable week, commemorating 50 years since
Dr. Martin Luther King`s dream speech. Signs of progress comes in many
forms, sometimes in the struggle for civil rights, sometimes it`s leaders
breaking new ground but it also is in the world of arts and culture. And
during this week of remembrance, the remarkable true story of a White House
butler with the front row seat to our nation`s civil rights history is
number one at the Box Office in Lee Daniels` "The Butler."

Eugene Allen worked as a butler at the White House for 34 years under
every president from Truman to Reagan. He was there during all the major
moments in the civil rights moment. "The Washington Post" profiled Mr.
Allen just after the 2008 election, capturing his reaction as he voted for
the first African-American president-elected to the office. This week
President Obama reflected on seeing the film, revealing he was moved to
tears.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PRES. BARACK OBAMA (D), UNITED STATES: I teared up just thinking
about not just the butlers who worked here in the White House, but you
know, an entire generation of people who were talented and skilled, but
because of Jim Crow, because of discrimination, there was only so far they
could go.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: The President tearing up over the struggle for equality and
how far we have come. The movie features an all-star cast. Oscar winner
Forest Whitaker plays the butler. Oprah Winfrey plays his wife, her first
movie in 15 years. Cuba Gooding, Jr. plays another butler at the White
House. And Terrance Howard is their next-door neighbor. I recently sat
down with Lee Daniels to talk about the movie and the movement.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SHARPTON: He is the first African-American producer of an Oscar-
winning film, and a true Hollywood groundbreaker. Lee, we`re so happy to
have you on the show tonight. Let me ask you. Why did you want to make
this movie?

LEE DANIELS, DIRECTOR, "THE BUTLER": Father and son story. Father
and son story. You know, when I got the script, my son was 13, and he said
black, I say white, he say black. I say day, he say night. I say go to
bed, he say hell no. And it was like, when does it stop?

SHARPTON: Right.

DANIELS: And it transcends race, you know, the father and son story.
And it wasn`t until I started shooting the movie and we started seeing the
atrocities that happened to these kids that I realized it was bigger than a
father and son story. It was a movie about civil rights. It`s a movie
about heroes.

SHARPTON: And it was still a movie about father and son. I mean, how
important was it to tell Eugene Allen`s story?

DANIELS: So important, because he was an unspoken hero. And there
are so many of us out there that don`t know about him, and that don`t know
about the movement, the civil rights movement.

SHARPTON: You know, as I go through the film, a lot happened that I
saw before my time, and then during my time. And it seemed like a lot of
what you did with drama would get through that people wouldn`t ordinarily
see without you distorting it, but without it not being less entertaining.

DANIELS: I try to inject humor wherever I could, because my research
told me that the slaves that made it over here were laughing. They told
jokes. And they told jokes on the fields, in the cotton fields. And
during the movement. So I tried to -- try to tell humor, you know.

SHARPTON: It`s probably how they survived. Let me ask you. How
difficult was it to get to make the movie? I understand it was always
challenges and funds and all of that?

DANIELS: It`s always hard. I`m surprised I didn`t hit you up.

(LAUGHTER)

You`re the only one I probably didn`t hit up. It`s difficult. It`s
difficult to get black cinema on screen. It`s difficult to get any cinema
on screen, especially black cinema. The studios say no, no, no, no, no,
unless it`s a specific type of cinema. But if it`s something that is a
drama, a family drama. But we haven`t seen this before.

SHARPTON: Yes.

DANIELS: We haven`t seen a black family before like this. And that
was important for me too, to tell a black, show a black family in a way
that we haven`t seen them before.

SHARPTON: What scene was the most difficult for you to recreate?

DANIELS: Oh, I think the -- that bus scene, because on that bridge
there were actual lynchings that took place.

SHARPTON: Yes.

DANIELS: And they were -- and I was on the bus, with the kids, and I
yelled action, and then from nowhere came the KKK and the swastikas and the
crosses, and I yelled cut, but they can`t hear me because I`m on the bus.
So I`m screaming "cut, cut", and they`re still coming at us, shaking the
bus. And I realized at that moment that these kids were heroes, that these
kids were heroes, and there was nobody -- there was no director to yell
cut. When that happened.

SHARPTON: Wow. You said so much of the movie is about father-son
relations. Let`s watch this clip.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OPRAH WINFREY, ACTRESS: What was the name of that movie, honey?

FOREST WHITAKER, ACTOR: "In the heat of the night".

WINFREY: "In the heat of the night" with Sydney Poitier.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Sydney Poitier is a white man`s fantasy of what he
wants us to be.

WHITAKER: What you talking about? He just won the academy award. He
is breaking down barriers for all of us.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: About being white. By acting white. Sydney
Poitier is nothing but a rich Uncle Tom.

WHITAKER: Look at you. All puffed up, your hat on your head, coming
here, saying whatever you want. You need to go.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: What?

WHITAKER: Get the hell out of my house. Get on out.

WINFREY: Now everybody just sit down.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: I`m sorry, Mr. Butler. I didn`t mean to make fun
of your hero.

WINFREY: Everything you are and everything you have is because of
that butler.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Why was that dynamic so important to you?

DANIELS: Because everything he was because of that butler.

SHARPTON: Yep.

DANIELS: You know? You know, I often wonder. I showed my son the
movie. And he liked it. I was surprised. He gave me props. And I said
to him, isn`t this a great achievement for African-American cinema? And he
goes no, dad. I mean it`s good, yes. But you know, not until I see myself
as superman. And I thought to myself, this ain`t no difference. It`s
generational.

SHARPTON: That`s right. You know, it`s an all-star cast. And what
was it like working with Forest Whitaker?

DANIELS: He is a -- you know, he taught me how to be humble. He is a
very -- he is a humble human being. And it trickled down to everybody
else.

SHARPTON: How was it to direct Oprah?

DANIELS: What do you think?

(LAUGHTER)

What do you, you know, it took a minute to break through. But once I
broke through, she was raw. She was vulnerable, she was fragile. And she
was a sister that just reminded me of one of my cousins.

SHARPTON: The movie also portrays many presidents and first ladies.
Let`s watch a clip of that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: You`re very popular around here. Everyone says
you`re the man that got them raises and promotions. I had no idea.

WHITAKER: I wish I could take credit for that.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: I`d like to invite you to the state dinner next
week.

WHITAKER: I`m going to be here, Mrs. Reagan.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: No. Not as -- not as a butler, Cecil. I`m
inviting you as a guest.

WHITAKER: But the president prefers for me to serve him personally.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Don`t you worry about Ronnie. I`ll take care of
that. So we`ll see you next week, you and your wife.

WHITAKER: My wife?

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: It`s Gloria, yes?

WHITAKER: Just me.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: What did you want, Lee, from the actors playing first
ladies and presidents?

DANIELS: You know, I didn`t want to do tricky dick we`d seen him
before. Just a glimmer of what they were like, just a moment of the
humanity, and that they were good and they were bad. That they were flawed
like all of us were.

SHARPTON: You know, the movie comes out at a time where questions are
still out. Trayvon Martin`s verdict, the Supreme Court, and I`ll say
something to you I hadn`t told you.

DANIELS: Uh-oh, uh-oh.

SHARPTON: You and Forest hosted a screening for me and a few board
members of the National Action Network. And I was very touched. I brought
my daughter. I was very touched, because I knew some of the stuff before
me. I knew something about the butler, and I knew something after. I
walked out of this screening, and I had actually teared up during a couple
of scenes. Walked out of the screening, got in the car and they called me
to come to the studio.

And I heard the Trayvon Martin verdict that night. And between "The
Butler" and that verdict, it was a very weird experience for me. But I
think a lot of the way we were able to react was because of the butler and
seeing the struggle that we did not want to disgrace was in our minds. So
we didn`t react as emotionally and as out of bounds as people might have
thought.

DANIELS: Wow. That day?

SHARPTON: That very night when I left the screening room. The
verdict came in about 11:00. And I left you all about 10:15. And that
verdict, Trayvon Martin and in the aftermath of that, this movie comes in
the theaters tomorrow. I think it will put in context for a lot of people
no matter what their opinion of the verdict, it will put in context where a
lot of us bring to looking at this whole situation.

DANIELS: Yes, yes. We didn`t -- when we did that movie, Trayvon,
none of that was going on.

SHARPTON: Right.

DANIELS: That was God working. Wow.

SHARPTON: I think in many ways that you will give people a great show
in entertainment. And I think in many ways you will help bring America
together, because we begin to understand each other, then we come together.
A lot of what we don`t agree on is because we really don`t understand each
other. And I`m not just talking black and white. I`m talking generations,
that father and son, one that was the butler and the other that was the
militant. I don`t want to blow the movie. People need to go, and they
need to bring their kids to see it, and their parents to see it. I brought
my daughter. I`m glad I did bring her, because I don`t know who is right,
but I know it was good that we did that together. Lee Daniels, thank you
for coming on the show tonight.

DANIELS: Thank you.

SHARPTON: An honor to have you here.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: It`s time for "Reply Al." Remember, friend or foe, I want
to know.

Michelle wants to know, "I fully support the fast-food workers in
their efforts to protest against low wages that they are paid. I`m
wondering if it would be more effective for their protests to take place in
D.C., preferably on the steps of Congress, who has failed to do anything."

Well, I think taking it to D.C. to Congress would be effective,
certainly. Congress needs to do something about the minimum wage and about
the workers. I support them as well. But I think they`re also being very
effective. We`re doing it all over the country in many cities at the same
time. Either way, I think they should be supported.

Robert says, "Does Mayor Bloomberg`s legal appeal of stop and frisk
amount to blueberry pie all over his face?"

Well, it`s certainly very telling about his appeal. When a federal
judge says what we say, that it`s racial profiling, that it is
unconstitutional. When you see the polls in the New York City mayor`s race
that is going on right now, saying most voters are opposed to the kind of
policing going on, and the direction that the mayor has brought the city,
it ought to be a wake-up call.

And when you can`t take a wake-up call, that`s when you are exposed of
having blueberry all over your face. It`s one thing to err. It`s another
to be stubborn and not hear from the people you`re trying to govern. And
we`re not his enemies. Some of us have worked with him. But we are not
going to be silent if we think something is wrong.

Thanks for watching. I`m Al Sharpton. Have a great holiday weekend.
"HARDBALL" starts right now.

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY
BE UPDATED.
END

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