THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW
December 3, 2013
Guest: Betsy West, Erika Andiola
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: And thanks to you at home for joining us
In March of this past year, there was a series of violent attacks in
the south of France. On March 11th, a French soldier was killed in an
unprovoked, seemingly random shooting. Then, four days later, in a town
about 30 miles away, two more French soldiers were ambushed in killed again
in a totally unprovoked attack. And then, four days later it happened
The third attack was an attack against a Jewish school in the city of
Toulouse. A young rabbi and teacher was killed. He was trying to shield
his own kids from the gunman at the time. Two kids of his children were
killed along side him at that day, as well as another 8-year-old girl from
the school, and then the gunman got away.
Three attacks. There were March 11th, then March 15th, and then March
19th. In all three cases, it was a single gunman with a large caliber
handgun on a motorcycle. And he kept his motorcycle helmet on throughout
It turns out, the gunman had mounted on his chest a video camera.
He`d mounted on his chest a Go Pro, a Go Pro camera with which he recorded
himself carrying out all of these shootings. After they finally figured
out who the shooter was, after a huge nationwide manhunt, and a long armed
stand off with police in which the killer finally went down in a hail of
bullets, after a huge standoff, a few days after, it was all over and
police were doing the investigation, trying to figure out if he acted
The TV network al Jazeera announced that the killer, before his death,
had sent them the video footage of all of his killings on a USB drive. He
mailed them a USB drive with all the videos on it, and he mailed it to the
Paris officers of al Jazeera, along with a rambling, misspelled diatribe
claiming credit and saying he was al Qaeda and explaining why he did it.
Apparently, part of the reason there was four days between each of the
attacks, part of what he spent his time doing in those four day periods,
before the police finally caught up with him, is that he was editing. He
was working on a computer to edit the video footage that he shot on his Go
Pro to make these murders, these three days of murders, into an edited
jihad video that he set to music and everything and he wanted al Jazeera to
put it on the air.
Al Jazeera did not put it on the air. Al Jazeera released a statement
saying that in accordance with their company`s code of ethics, given that
the video does not add any information that is not already in the public
domain, they said they would not be broadcasting any of the contents of
that flash drive that the killer had sent them. They said, quote, "Al
Jazeera has received requests from other media outlets for copies of the
videos, all such requests are being declined."
On September 11th, 2001, the terrorists attacks on New York City that
day started at roughly 9:00 a.m. in the morning. So, the print versions of
that day`s newspapers were already out on the newsstands when the attacks
It`s interesting. It makes those newspapers that are dated September
11th, 2001, sort of this interesting frozen in time snapshot of the world
before everything changed that day. The front page of the "New York Times"
on September 11th, 2001, it was about school dress codes and how hot
morning TV is now that we`re all getting up so early.
The first edition of "The New York Times" that actually contained
reporting on what happened on September 11th, 2001, that was the edition
that came out the following day, came out on September 12th.
And in that day`s paper, in the September 12th paper, "The New York
Times" ran an "A.P." photo by a photographer named Richard Drew. And the
photo showed a man falling -- falling from the upper floors of the World
Trade Center to his death.
A lot of photos were taken of people who died that way they day. It
is estimated a couple hundred people may have died that way on 9/11. And
their images, falling from buildings, their images were captured by
multiple photographers in still images and also on video. But "The New
York Times" and other newspapers who ran those images, of people falling
from the buildings, who run those images on September 12th, they did not
run those images again after that day.
Now, whether there was an overt backlash against them, or whether they
just thought better of it with the passage of time, it is hard to figure
out now in retrospect. But that was it for those images of people falling
from the buildings. Those images were broadcast and published in the
immediate aftermath of the September 11th attacks, but then they stopped
being broadcast and published.
It`s not illegal to publish them. You can find your way to those
images if you want to. Documentaries have been made about them. Every
anniversary, people write about what it meant to see those images as the
carnage was happening. But media organizations, by and large, have stopped
showing those images of their own volition.
And those are not easy decisions for media organizations to make, but
the media does make those decisions. Just because you can publish
something does not necessarily mean that you should in every instance.
Today, in our own newsroom, we were talking about this phenomenon in
our business. In our news meeting, producers here who work on the show
were talking about going through the footage here at MSNBC in 2005, in the
aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, as it was being reported live. And going
through that footage, taking care to not gratuitously show dead bodies, to
now show dead Americans floating in the floodwaters after Hurricane Katrina
in the streets of New Orleans, if it could be avoided. More than 1,800
Americans were killed in the aftermath of Katrina. And there is no reason
that any of us should be shielded from that truth.
There was an ethical obligation to tell that story, and all the ways
that stories are responsibly told. But at some point, does it become
irresponsible to pruriently (ph), graphically show the bodies of people who
cannot consent to the use of those images, whose families maybe learning of
their loved ones` death for the first time by seeing a body on television.
Those decisions about responsibility are ones where it`s very hard
just to be pure, right? Where you want smart people of sound judgment and
sober reasoning and sensitivity and courage to be considering all of the
sides, to be making very hard decisions and making them slowly and
There is something that sociologists called the Werther Effect. It`s
been studied in sociology and psychology and public health for several
decades now. There does seem to be a provable observable link between
intensive publicity for specific suicides and more people killing
It`s essentially a copycat effect or a suggestive effect that when
excessive attention is paid to suicides and specifically the details of why
a person committed suicide and what the method was that they chose to
commit suicide and how they did it and what the aftermath was in terms of
people who knew them, it`s not necessarily wrong to report things like
that, but intensive publicity of that kind has been linked, has been
scientifically linked. It has been observed in lots of places over a long
period of time now to cause more people to kill themselves.
And so, there is an element of responsibility in reporting on
suicides, right? A lot of media organizations have tried to be overtly
conscious of that responsibility in the way they report on people taking
their own lives. For example, if you look at the Canadian Broadcasting
Corporation, they post all their standards and practices on their Web site.
And they have their policy of reporting suicides posted on their Web
site. It`s very easy to find. It says we`re sensitive in handling suicide
attempts and desperate acts. In particular, we avoid describing the act in
detail, or illustrating the method. And we consider the risk of glorifying
this behavior and of influencing vulnerable people.
After the Virginia Tech shooting in 2007, which is the worst mass
shooting in history, in which ended in the suicide of the killer, NBC News
in this building received in the mail a multimedia dossier that had been
prepared specifically for NBC News by the Virginia Tech killer. He seems
to have started putting it together almost a week before the shootings.
Because he got the zip code wrong for Rockefeller Plaza on the package, the
package did arrive until well after the shooting was over and the killer
But, then, NBC had a decision to make in the immediate aftermath of
those shootings, about the newsworthiness of this thing that they have been
sent. There was long, rambling, incoherent profanity laced confession,
sort of, a manifesto, still images that the killer had taken of himself
trying to look like a tough guy, or trying to look like a sympathetic guy
in some pictures. It was material that no other news organization had and
it did, in fact, shed light on why this deranged young man did what he did.
So, yes, that information may be arguably could add to the public`s
understanding of what happened in the worst mass shooting in American
history, that horrible day at Virginia Tech in 2007.
At the same time, this was material organized by the killer to glorify
himself and excuse what he did. And in some cases, it seemed like it was
designed specifically to terrorize yet more people. A lot of the images he
took of himself were of himself pointing the gun at a camera. I`m not
going to show you those pictures here, but that`s part of what he sent --
essentially showing the rest of the country the last thing that his victims
saw before he took their lives.
NBC News made the decision when they got that dossier to hand the
entire thing over to federal law enforcement authorities who are
investigating the killings. They kept a copy of it for themselves, they
combed through it very carefully for its news value, they put together a
very carefully edited news package of the information they have been sent.
It was a small fraction of the total materials that they aired or even
The press in this country is a free press. The press can do whatever
we want. We can publish whatever we want. We can broadcast whatever we
But with that freedom comes great responsibility. The press is not
just an amplifying system for raw information. We`re not just a means of
disseminating information that we get access to by virtue of us being the
The press makes decisions all the time about what is right to publish
and what is wrong to publish. What is a value to the public`s
understanding of our world and news events, and what is not of value and
would only cause unnecessary pain or harm if it were broadcast.
The name of the rape victim does not need to be part of the story,
right? The bodies at the crash site do not need to be shown on the 6:00
news in order for you to understand that people were killed in that crash.
The death of Daniel Pearl in Pakistan, it can be described and not shown,
even though his killers so desperately wanted it to be shown and shown
again and shown again. It can be described. It does not have to be shown,
particularly because that is what they wanted.
And these calls are not always simple. When Saddam Hussein was
executed in Iraq, was the particular brutality of that execution just an
obscenity that was beside the point of his death? Or was the sectarian
screaming and the chaos and the brutality of that execution and his last
moments actually an important part of the story? And for what his death
would mean in an ongoing way both for Iraq and for us?
When "The New York Times" found out that the Bush administration was
wiretapping without court orders, Bush administration officials told "The
New York Times" that the paper would have blood on its hands and would be
responsible for the deaths of Americans in the next terrorists attacks on
this country if they published that story.
Because of those concerns, "The New York Times" held that story for a
year. Conveniently or inconveniently, as you will, they held the story
until after the 2004 election in which President Bush was reelected, even
though they have the story before the election.
Incidentally, "The Times" sitting on that story for a year is part of
why Edward Snowden says he decided to take his further revelations this
year about more warrantless wiretapping, not to "The New York Times" but
instead to "The Guardian" in Britain.
But, again, today, the editor of "The Guardian" told a parliamentary
inquiry in London that "The Guardian" has only published about 1 percent of
what Edward Snowden gave them and he doesn`t expect to publish much more of
Is that decision not to publish 99 percent of what he gave them, is
that an issue of bravery, and intimidation? Is that judgment as to what
counts as newsworthy?
I mean, they are deciding, in effect, what we get to know about what
our government does based on their judgment of what counts as news. And
their judgment conceivably of what harm they would cause by releasing to
the public what they as a news organization are privileged to know that the
rest of us to do not.
It is a very, very uncomfortable thing, but it is part of why the job
of a free and responsible press is not just an important thing in a
democracy, it`s a hard thing, and it`s a hard job, and it is hard to do
well. You want the people who do it to be worthy of the responsibility
that they have.
Tomorrow morning in a law office in Danbury, Connecticut, the news
media will get access to the tapes of the 911 phone calls that were made in
Newtown, Connecticut on the morning of the Sandy Hook Elementary school
shootings. The state of the Connecticut and the prosecutors office and
representatives of the victims` families say they did not want those tapes
to ever become available to the public. But "The Associated Press" sued to
get access to the tapes, and a judge was ruled in the favor and appeals
And so, tomorrow morning in Connecticut, the media for the first time
will get those tapes. And then what?
Now, it`s up to the good judgment of the media to decide whether those
tapes should be publicly broadcast. Whether what they will add to the
public understanding of the massacre outweighs the additional, pointless
trauma that playing those tapes publicly will undoubtedly caused to the
families and the survivors in Newtown. Again, it was an "Associated Press"
lawsuit that brought about the access to the tapes. It`s going to happen
It`s interesting, in all of "The A.P.`s" own news stories about their
own efforts to get access to those tapes, they started adding this
particular sentence at the end of the news stories. It says, "The A.P.
will review the content and determine what if any of it would meet the news
cooperatives standards for publication."
"The A.P.`s" own published standards say without a compelling reason
to do so, they will not publish obscenities, profanities, or vulgarities.
And, of course, obscene, vulgar, and profane are in the eye of the
But if you just take the commonly accepted dictionary definition of
obscenity, as something that is offensive to morality and decency,
offensive to morality or decency -- you can kind of see the weight of the
decision that`s going to come down on all of our heads tomorrow morning,
I mean, this is the decision now. This is the judgment call. Is the
content of those tapes, the audio recordings of the calls for help made
that were made during the master of those first graders, is the content of
those tapes, the sound of those pleas for help going to increase public
understanding of that incident so much that it outweighs the offense to
morality and decency of putting them on display?
Our press is a free press, and nobody tells the press what to do and
it`s one of the most important things in our democracy. But with that
freedom really does come great responsibility, and it is the press that
will make the decision of what to broadcast, come tomorrow morning, which
is a school day, in December, in Connecticut.
Joining us now is Betsy West. She is an associate professor at the
Columbia University School of Journalism. She`s a former senior vice
president at CBS News.
Ms. West, thanks very much for coming in.
BETSY WEST, COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF JOURNALISM: Thank you very
MADDOW: When the people who run news organizations like ours decide
whether or not to air this kind of sensitive material, like people are
going to have to decide tomorrow morning --
MADDOW: -- what do you think are the right ethical considerations to
WEST: Well, I think, first and foremost, everyone will be aware of
what a difficult day this is going to be tomorrow in Newtown. I think that
they will be listening to those tapes to see if there is anything
newsworthy in them. Is -- do we learn anything that we didn`t already know
about this case from those tapes? Do we learn anything about the reaction
of the police, for example?
It`s hard to say until you`ve heard the tapes, but I think that`s what
people will be listening to first and foremost. Now, of course, what I`m
skirting is the difficult question of what do you do if you hear gunshots
on those tapes? I think that will be -- that will be a tough one.
You know, those are -- we live in a society that is used to images of
violence, you know? On the media all the time, and on television, and in
movies, but this is real violence, these are real people. And just the
sound of it, it is more horrible than anything you can think of that you
see in some, you know, action video game in a way.
MADDOW: Now that we know what those gunshots were the sound of in
MADDOW: When you think about how to balance these things, you do have
to think about the harm that might be caused. Do you have to think about
the specificity of the audience because in this case, we have had
representatives from the victim`s families in Newtown saying they do not
want these things to be released. They obviously have a moral imperative
to make that case, and we I think have a moral imperative to respond to it.
But they are not the only public whose interests have to be affected here.
How do you weigh victim`s families in a case like this against the
public`s own interest and interest against hearing this?
WEST: Yes. I mean, well, there is a right to know what happened.
The public has a right to know what happened in this case. And very often,
I think in these horrible tragedies you come into a conflict between the
public interest in knowing about this and in the rights to privacy for the
victims and the family members of the victim.
WEST: And that just seems like it happens. You mentioned 9/11, you
know that certainly happened in 9/11 when I think my family members felt
enough, we don`t want to see any more of this.
And you know, I was thinking back to that first day, I know that I was
at CBS news then. I know that there were images of falling bodies. That
made it on to the air in that first hour. And then I think it was a
conscious decision. We said no. This is just too horrible.
It`s just -- it really is just too terrible.
MADDOW: Does that work in the opposite direction? I think that was a
very interesting thing about 9/11, that a lot of that stuff made it on to
the air in the immediate aftermath. And then was never shown again because
there was a reaction within the media that it was wrong.
As much as there might have been a reaction from the public, it almost
didn`t matter. It was an internal by the media.
WEST: It was internal.
MADDOW: So, does it go the other direction? If tomorrow there are
ten news organizations in that law office in Danbury, and nine of them
decide, you know what? This does not add enough to the news value and this
is going to cause people too much pain, we do not need to air it.
If one of those news organizations decides to run with it, does that
then create a sort of unstoppable bit of momentum where everybody else has
to chase them into it?
WEST: Well, everybody else is under competitive pressure to think
WEST: It does definitely push people and I think we have -- it seems
to me I can`t imagine these tapes will not find their way on to the
MADDOW: They can be -- people can access them through public records
officers presumably if they want to see now that get put online.
WEST: Yes, people are going to be able to see them, and I think that
every news organization is going to wrestle with whether or not they feel
there is something in those tapes that makes them newsworthy.
MADDOW: Yes, putting them on the air in a way that somebody could
accidentally come across them without trying to find them is a morally
different thing than putting them out there in a way that people who are
looking for them can find them, just in terms of the trauma.
WEST: Yes. Exactly.
MADDOW: Betsy West, associate professor now at Columbia University
School of Journalism, former senior VP at CBS News, it`s really helpful to
have you here, thanks for coming in.
WEST: Thank you so much, Rachel.
MADDOW: Appreciate it. We`ll be right back.
MADDOW: Congratulations, you are living in historic times. We are
all living in historic times, because this year, 2013 is the year when the
United States Congress did less work than any other U.S. Congress in the
history of U.S. Congresses, people. Oh, yes. This Congress has passed
less legislation and made less policy and less law than literally any other
Congress in the history of our country back to the beginning.
They are on track to set the record, and that`s not even counting the
fact that while they were doing no legislating at all, they also managed to
shut down the federal government and almost default on the national debt,
all before Halloween. So, like, let`s say you have a car that`s up on
blocks in the yard, right? It`s up on blocks, it`s not on wheels, it
But then in addition to being on blocks and not running, you also
manage to push the car off the blocks and on to your foot. So, in addition
to not driving you anywhere, your car has also managed to break all your
toes. That`s what this Congress is. And in this metaphor, you pay your
car $174,000 a year to sit there on blocks and occasionally break your
This Congress is amazing and it has been amazing for a very long time.
This year will set the record for Congress doing less than ever before, but
the record before this year will be last year, which is the first year that
John Boehner took over as speaker. This Congress is amazing.
But small glimmer of hope today, a tiny blink and you might miss it
sign of progress today. Actually, a couple of signs of Congress.
First of all, the House of Representatives decided today to add a
whole extra day of work to their calendar between now and the end of the
year. See, they had planned to give themselves a total of 239 days off
work this year, but now, they`re only going to give themselves 238 days off
work. They have just decided that they are going to be in session next
Monday -- which means that next week, your member of Congress is planning
work a full five-day week which they never do. So, we should probably all
get the fainting couches ready, they might pass out.
You know, though, progress is progress. Baby steps. So, that was
sign of progress number one. They`re actually going to work.
Sign of progress number two is that the House actually passed a thing
today. The House actually passed something important and substantive that
has a good chance of not dying on it`s way across the hall to the Senate.
The House today voted to keep in place our country`s long-standing the ban
on plastic gun that cannot be detected by metal detectors.
Ronald Reagan signed the plastic gun ban in 1988. It was due to
expire this week, but the House today voted to keep it in place, to extend
for another 10 years. Naturally, the House of Representatives decided to
cast this vote in the least courageous way possible. They passed it by a
voice vote, which means that nobody has to be on the record as voting for
it or against it.
But still, I`m not complaining, baby steps. They did it. They passed
what should be the easiest thing in the entire world to pass, but for this
Congress no one was sure if they could do it.
And that`s not all. The third glimmer of getting something done for
the worst Congress ever today was a report from Politico.com. "Politico"
reporting that Democratic Senator Patty Murray, who heads up budget issues
for the Democrats, Patty Murray and her Republican counterpart in the
House, according to "Politico", they are reportedly rather close to a deal,
which might result in us having a budget as a country -- that would be neat
-- and which would at least partially replace the self-inflicted designed
to be stupid and painful cuts known as the sequester.
According to "Politico", a deal to finally kibosh the stupid sequester
could finally be at hand. Maybe.
There is a catch, though. It`s Senator Patty Murray, right, in the
Senate. She is a Democrat. Her Republican counterpart in the House, which
she`s working with on this, is Congressman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin. And
that might be a problem, because you might remember Paul Ryan from the big
deficit reduction commission in 2010. He was part of that and he killed
You might also remember him from the big bipartisan gang of six in
2011. He was part of that and then he killed it. You might also remember
him from the grand bargain struck by President Obama and Speaker John
Boehner in 2011 which was also killed by Paul Ryan.
So, yes, Patty Murray and Paul Ryan are reportedly close to a deal
which would kill the sequester and get us a budget, and all sorts of
reasonable things that everybody in Washington says they want. But Paul
Ryan`s history of working on deals like this is that he likes to be seen
working on them before he breaks free and calls them impure and then kills
what he helped to negotiate.
So, we shall see on this. I`m not exactly getting excited about this
Initial reports are positive, long term prospects are dim. But you
know what? Even the babiest of baby steps are still steps. And in a year
like this one, a Congress like this one, even the most meager signs of
forward progress must be nurtured.
You can do it, you guys. You can do it. Surprise everybody.
MADDOW: Political protests do not always involved big poster board
signs and banners and marching and megaphones and chanting. Sometimes,
protests are quieter and they look more like this.
Today in Washington, this small group of protesters that received
visits from the president, and the first lady, and the vice president, and
a whole bunch of members of the president`s cabinet, today, each of the
seated protesters who you see here in this almost solemn ceremony, they
each passed on a responsibility, a certain task to the people who were
kneeling before them.
Among the group agreeing to take up the mantle from these folks who
cannot do what they have been doing anymore was this young congressman, Joe
Kennedy of Massachusetts. This is a dramatic story today of what happened
here. We`ve got more on this coming up in just a moment.
MADDOW: In the winter of 1968, Senator Robert Kennedy of New York
went to California to visit Cesar Chavez of the United Farm Workers of
America. Cesar Chavez, of course, went on to be a towering figure in the
history of labor and social justice movements in this country. But in
1968, as you can see, he was a very young man and it was the start of him
and his movement having a national political profile.
Cesar Chavez in the winter of 1968 started a 25-day fast to publicize
the aims of the farm workers and to recommit that movement to nonviolence,
to the nonviolent tactics of Gandhi and the American civil rights movement.
He started on a 25-day fast, no food at all, only water. Thousand of farm
workers and supporters came out to California to visit, to see him through
Mr. Chavez asked Senator Robert Kennedy who was running for president
to come to California to see him and to talk with him.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
THEN-SEN. ROBERT KENNEDY (D), NEW YORK: I knew about when he went on
the fast in the beginning, and I sent him a telegram at that time because I
was concerned about his own health. I think that he is needed, that kind
of influence that`s committed to nonviolence and committed to trying to
perform some good for his people it is desperately needed for these people
and for the country as a whole. And then, about a week ago, he got in
touch with me and asked if I would come out.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: After 25 days of not eating, Cesar Chavez broke the fast with
Bobby Kennedy at his side. Mr. Chavez, first, he took communion, and then,
Senator Kennedy passed him a piece of bread, his first food after 25 days.
That happened 45 years ago.
This winter, it is Eliseo Medina who has been fasting. The labor
leader who started working with Cesar Chavez back in 1966, and who himself
started fasting last month for immigration reform, along with many other
mostly young activists. The day after Thanksgiving, President Obama and
First Lady Michelle Obama went to visit Mr. Medina and the activists on the
National Mall where they had been without food for 20 days.
The president told the fasters that he supported their cause, that he
believed it was not a matter of if but when, the House of Representatives
would finally take a vote on immigration, but the president also voiced
concern for the health of these people who had been fasting for so long.
He suggested they take a break for their own health, that they passed on
the torch, let somebody else fast next.
Today, Eliseo Medina did that. After 22 days without food, he broke
his fast, or rather, he passed it on to Senator Robert Kennedy`s grandson,
Congressman Joe Kennedy of Massachusetts. He now will join with the other
activists for fasting for 24 hours and then he will pass the fast on to yet
These protests are all part of an emotional and intense effort to try
to push the House to take up immigration reform.
This is Erika Andiola who came here from Mexico when she was a child.
She was one of the people who`s featured on the cover of "Time" magazine`s
issue on undocumented immigrants earlier this year.
In January of this year, Erika`s mother and her brother were taken
from their home at 9:00 p.m., in a night raid by immigration officials.
Erika posted this video online the night that it happened. An activist
asked people to call immigration authorities to try to get her mother and
So, this is a clip from the video that Erika posted that night. And
then you`ll see the call to action at the end. This is kind of amazing.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ERIKA ANDIOLA: Hello, my name is Erika, and I`m talking to you right
now because my mother and brother were just taken away by immigration.
They just came to my house. They knocked on my door. My brother was
outside with the neighbor.
And they just came to ask for my mom. They said they were not going
to do anything to her. And my mom came outside and they took her for no
This is not just happening to me, it`s happening to families
everywhere. We can`t let this happen anymore.
I need everybody to stop pretending like nothing is wrong, to stop
pretending that we`re just living normal lives because we`re not. This
could happen to any us any time.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: You see the slate come in there at the end about the number
to call, to tell immigration authorities to let them go.
The day after that raid, Erika`s brother was released but her mother
remained in custody. At one point, her mother was even driven to the
border, to be deported, but at the very last minute, she was granted
prosecutorial discretion, a sort of reprieve which allowed her to remain in
this country with her family until her case could come up for review.
On the exact same day that the raid happened, one the exact same day
that her house was raided, Erika had just started a new job working for
Arizona Congresswoman Kyrsten Sinema as an outreach director. Erika has
eligible immigrant work status. But on the day she started working for the
congresswoman, they came for her mom and her brother.
Well, now, after almost a year working for Congresswoman Sinema, Erika
Andiola is having to leave her job. "BuzzFeed" ran an interview with her
today, reporting that she returning home to Arizona now to help fight her
In a letter sent to her colleagues, she says, "The politically-charged
immigration debate has always been personal for me and, and, in many ways,
my life symbolizes the most controversial flashpoints of the debate. I
came across the desert from Mexico as a child. I have lost members of my
community and even my own family to deportations. I was awarded deferred
action for childhood arrival status, but then had Governor Jan Brewer took
away my right to a drivers license with an executive order. Once again,
I`m facing the most painful aspect of the record-setting deportations of
the Obama era: family separation by deportation."
Erika Andiola`s mother`s case is expected to come up for review just
after the New Year in January. The review will decide whether or not she
is allowed to stay in this country with her kids.
Joining us now for the interview is Erika Andiola. She is cofounder
of the Arizona DREAM Act Coalition, and as of today, a former outreach
director for Arizona Congresswoman Kyrsten Sinema.
Erika, thanks very much for being with us. I really appreciate your
ANDIOLA: Thank you for having me.
MADDOW: Can you tell me about this decision to leave the job at the
congresswoman`s office and head home to try to help your mom?
ANDIOLA: Yes, of course. I mean, it was a very tough decision. I
feel like it was for me, a great opportunity for the first time I was able
to use my work permit that I had just gotten in November to be able to, you
know, work on the issue that I care about the most inside of Congress,
right? And try to influence people within.
Unfortunately, you know, things haven`t worked out in Congress for
many reasons, and the fact is that my own life is pending on that and the
fact that, you know, I can work for a congresswoman, but I cannot drive
here because I don`t have a driver`s license, and the fact that my mother
can be deported at anytime. This is the fact that, you know, they`re still
undocumented and that they don`t have protection for themselves.
MADDOW: You have been living this in your own family. You have been
an activist at home in Arizona. You`ve been an accomplished activist in
terms of founding the Arizona DREAM Act Coalition, being a cofounder there,
doing all the direct work that you have done.
What was it like coming to Congress and trying to work on this issue
specifically for Congresswoman Sinema? What is the situation in Congress
compared today what you expected?
ANDIOLA: It was frustrating. For me, I get a lot of home when I work
with families. And you know, we were able to win a little bit, you know, a
little bit at a time with battles, sometimes fighting deportation cases.
And so, that gave me a lot of hope and I feel like coming to Congress and
seeing the political games that came with political reform, and seeing so
many deportations with the president and nothing has happened.
You know, I want today tell my story to every staffer that I could
find inside, every colleague. But the fact is that, you know, as much as I
would tell my story, I would hear the same thing back, that, you know,
there is so much politically happening that sometimes the stories are not
even getting through any more. It`s frustrating, but at the same time, you
know, I still have the hope that we can keep doing this and, you know right
now, I cannot focus on being just in there in Congress working on this
because I do have my family and my family always comes first as my mom
always taught me since I was little.
And so, you know, once I do this and once I stop my mom`s deportation
once again, I will continue working for my community to make sure that we
stop every single deportation that`s not supposed to be happening.
MADDOW: What are you expecting from your mom`s case when it comes up
again in January? What do you think is going to happen?
ANDIOLA: The president said that he is not deporting people that are
low, you know, priority, meaning people who have no criminal background, or
anything like that. My mother is a 55-year-old woman who is an amazing
person, you know, who does everything for her family.
So I hope that he actually follows that, what he has said, and they
grant her, you know, maybe deferred action like I have it, or a way to stay
here without having to go to ICE every single year to ask for another year
of stay, because it`s very stressful for me and my family. And we want to
keep her here. You know, she has been an amazing leader now in the
community, as well as in Arizona, and she has her own organization of
mothers, and, you know, she is fighting for herself and she is fighting for
my family as well.
MADDOW: Erika Andiola, cofounder of the Arizona DREAM Act Coalition,
leaving her job as a congressional staffer today to go hope and help her
mom. Good luck. Please stay in touch with us and let us know how it goes.
ANDIOLA: Thank you so much, Rachel.
MADDOW: All right. We`ve got a Debunktion Junction, coming up, which
means lots of loud noises, which I think might be found, and lots more.
Stay with us.
MADDOW: Today, we learned about what President Obama is planning on
doing between now and Christmas Eve. Starting today, and every day between
now and Christmas Eve, the White House says President Obama is going to be
doing some public thing every day to highlight good things about health
reform, and to get people to sign up for insurance. December 23rd is the
next big enrollment deadline for Obamacare, so the White House is taking on
a new effort to fight back against the law`s extremely loud critics and to
encourage people to sign up for insurance.
You can find of feel the change in tone from the White House on this
subject already. They just don`t sound like they`re playing defense on
this subject anymore. The president gave a kickoff short speech about it
this afternoon in Washington, D.C., and I think it was telling this was the
biggest applause line in the speech.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I have always said I
would work with anybody to implement and improve this law effectively. You
got good ideas? Bring them to me. Let`s go. But we`re not repealing it
as long as I`m president. I want everybody to be sure of that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: On Thursday this week, the venue will be different. The
crowd bill probably be a little younger, and the president will be forced
off-script undoubtedly. He might even get interrupted occasionally,
because President Obama on Thursday is sitting down for a one-on-one
HARDBALL college tour interview with Chris Matthews at American University.
President Obama and Chris Matthews on Thursday. The interview can
only be seen here on MSNBC, this Thursday, 7:00 p.m. Eastern -- which means
whatever you are planning on doing Thursday night, I`m giving you plenty of
advance notice, you have to cancel your plans to make time to see this live
when it happens. Seven p.m. Thursday night, OK? OK.
We`ll be right back.
MADDOW: Debunktion Junction, what`s my function?
OK, true or false? Obamacare does not -- I repeat -- does not cover
Exhibit A, when this man tried to get insurance for his family, he was
told that he could buy a plan for his wife and himself and first three
children, but his youngest child, still a toddler, was, quote, "out in the
cold." Obamacare does not cover babies.
That was his story and it went directly from "The New York Post" to
the FOX News Channel.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I assumed it was a glitch. It was an
administrative issue. So I called up the New York health exchange, that`s
Obamacare for New York, and I was advised, no, they don`t allow children to
be on family plans who are under 2 years of age.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Obamacare doesn`t cover babies? Is that true or is that
It turns out the reason this particular dad did not get coverage for
his baby is that he forgot to list the baby when he signed up for
insurance. Quoting, "Capital New York", "The mix-up appears to be routed
in the dad`s application, which originally listed only three of his
children even though he has four. When the clerical error was discovered,
it was corrected." Except by Republican House Speaker John Boehner, who is
still peddling the story as best as he can as if it were true, even though
it is not.
I`m not sure I expect FOX News to correct the story, but don`t you
expect the speaker of the House to?
OK. Next up, true or false -- president -- that was amazing. Sorry.
The desk like ate it.
OK, true or false, President Obama is closing the U.S. embassy at the
Vatican? From the conservative "Washington Times" newspaper, "Obama`s call
to close Vatican embassy is slap in the face to Roman Catholics."
From the inadvertently hilarious conspiracy theory clearinghouse
"World Net Daily", they say, "Obama insults Catholics in Vatican embassy
shutdown." Jeb Bush says, "Hopefully, it`s not retribution for Catholic
organizations opposing Obamacare."
The Republican Party Senate Campaign Committee called it just the
latest anti-religion pursuit of this administration, a slap in the face to
Catholic Americans, a weakening of America`s position as a global leader.
Oh, it sounds terrible. President Obama is closing the American
embassy to the Vatican. Is that true or is that false?
MADDOW: That is false. President Obama is not closing the embassy.
He`s moving it closer. He is moving it to the same compound with our much
larger embassy to Italy. State Department says moving it will improve
security and save about a million dollars a year. The new location is also
a little closer to the actual Vatican than the old one is.
And so, no, the president is not closing the Vatican embassy. That`s
false and crazy, and the whole idea of moving the embassy in the first
place was the Bush administration`s idea before the Obama administration
carried it out, but that doesn`t play that well on World Net Daily or
presumably with Jeb Bush.
It just goes to show, when something sounds too crazy to be true, take
care, Jeb Bush, maybe it is too crazy to be true, and you should take it
easy. Like for example, the crazies story in the news today was, of
course, the parachuting dead mice being dropped on Guam to kill the snakes,
is that true or false? Dead mice being dropped from the sky to combat
The story says that at Anderson Air Force Base in the U.S. territory
of Guam, the government wants to do something about the brown tree snakes,
because the snakes are destroying the bird population on the island, and
because brown tree snakes are not native, there`s an invasive species,
there`s no natural predator to keep them in check.
It turns out though that the snakes are vulnerable to acetaminophen.
For them, a fraction of a single Tylenol tablet is totally deadly. So the
government has been dropping thousands of dead mice loaded with Tylenol and
strapped into paper parachutes into the trees in Guam to be deadly
poisonous bait for the invasive snakes.
The person running the drug mice program is a U.S. Department of
Agriculture state director of supervisory wildlife biology. His name is
And actually, this story is true.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: U.S. Department of Agriculture assistant state director
supervisory, wildlife biologist Dan Vice explains the process that`s
already proving successful at controlling the ground tree snake population.
DAN VICE, USDA: What we`re going to be watching is the aerial
delivery of toxins out of the helicopter. The process is quite simple.
The helicopter is going to make flights over the forest at relatively slow
speeds. There are going to be certified pesticide operators inside the
helicopter, delivering the baits out of the helicopter on a timed sequence.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: The baits, the drugged mice. Just when you thought it was
safe to trust nothing, the Tylenol-laded mice from Guam come parachuting in
to call our cynicism and restore our belief that sometimes the craziest
things in the news are the true ones.
Now, it`s time for "THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL."
Have a great night.
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