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'The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell' for Thursday, February 27, 2014

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February 27, 2014


LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Another day, another batch of e-mails
in the George Washington Bridge scandal.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: New e-mails just published by "The Bergen
Record" today.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There are some newly unredacted documents.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The emails between Bridget Kelly and David

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There`s this exchange between Wildstein and
Bridget Kelly.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is not about the governor. It`s about
people very close to him.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There`s still a lot of information out there that
has to be gathered.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And tonight in Boston, Governor Chris Christie
and Mitt Romney --

become our nominee.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- will attend a fundraiser for the Republican
Governors Association.

ROMNEY: They don`t come better than Chris Christie.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The choices are between a bad story line and an
even worse story line.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That`s generally not a good way to launch a
campaign for president.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Right now, we`re keeping an eye on Capitol Hill.

SEN. TED CRUZ (R), TEXAS: I don`t want to throw any Republicans under
the bus.

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HARDBALL: Ted Cruz secedes from the Union.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He`s looking at 2016.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If that means destroying Mitch McConnell, so be

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Senator Ted Cruz is believed to be one of the most
polarizing figures in America politics.

MATTHEWS: For him, compromise is a curse word.

CRUZ: Things can change in politics.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Tea Party Patriots are gathered in D.C. to mark
the fifth anniversary.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s a civil war within the Republican Party.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Ted Cruz will also address that crowd.

CRUZ: You don`t keep following failed strategies.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The midterms will be here before we know it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There`s a possibility that Republicans will pick
up the Senate.

amount of reality that we have to deal with.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: House Speaker John Boehner.

BOEHNER: It`s boner, boner.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Strategy session.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Democrats hope if they can`t win the House, maybe
Republicans can lose it.


O`DONNELL: The New Jersey legislature`s special committee
investigating the George Washington Bridge scandal released previously
redacted messages from David Wildstein today. The messages include
exchanges between Wildstein and Bridget Anne Kelly six days after Kelly
sent the famous message, quote, "time for some traffic problems in Fort

In the newly unredacted exchange, David Wildstein sends a picture of a
New Jersey rabbi with John Boehner to Kelly and Wildstein says, "He has
officially pissed me off". Kelly replies, "Clearly. We cannot cause
traffic problems in front of his house, can we?" Wildstein: "Flights to
Tel Aviv all mysteriously delayed." Kelly: "Perfect."

The Port Authority, of course, where Wildstein worked, controls all
the New York area airports. Four days after the lane closings in the
George Washington Bridge, Wildstein and Kelly were worried about press

Wildstein: "`Wall Street Journal` just called my cell, so I need to
speak with you." Kelly: "I`m calling your office. No answer." Kelly: "I
spoke to Mike."

We also now know that David Wildstein and the Port Authority deputy
director Bill Baroni were worried enough about what happened at the George
Washington Bridge on November 12, 2013, Baroni asks, "Are we being fired?"
They were not fired, but were allowed to resign in December and were both
praised by Governor Christie as they exited their jobs.

There is another exchange where Wildstein and Baroni worried about New
Jersey Senator Loretta Weinberg and Assemblyman John Wisniewski disrupting
one of their press events. Wildstein, "Instructions for gaggle. Do we let
Weinberg and Wiz attend? Can we stop them?" Baroni: "How do we stop them?
It just creates an issue." Wildstein: "I don`t see how, but need to ask
you." Baroni: "Yes, they will beat us up either way."

Joining me now is Steve Kornacki who has been covering this story from
the beginning. He is the host of MSNBC`s "UP WITH STEVE KORNACKI" on the
weekends at 8:00 a.m.

Steve, a little more information here.

We knew the previously that Wildstein was a little bit worried about
getting fired one day because there was an earlier e-mail, isn`t there,
something about should I bring boxes today.

STEVE KORNACKI, UP: Right, I came into work with boxes. Now, you
have Baroni -- you know, it`s not the only time in the stuff that`s come
out where Baroni, clearly his job security has been on his mind. When he
gave his testimony to the assembly that`s now pretty much been discredited,
but that`s at the end of November, we already had exchanges come out where
he was immediately very concerned about what does Trenton think about this.

One of the things I believe was in today`s e-mails that came out about
that, the governor`s counsel, chief counsel apparently Charlie, a reference
to Charlie McKenna, was very happy any response to Baroni being concerned
about how, you know, the state -- how Trenton, how the administration, how
sort of the powers that be in the administration were responding to his
testimony in the assembly.

O`DONNELL: But this is crucially important, because Chris Christie is
insisting that Charlie McKenna, his chief counsel, is one of the trusted
saints in his office who he has said investigate what happened here, when
he finally got curious about it in January, and that here you have Charlie
McKenna involved very early inn this and giving them reviews on how well
they`re doing with what turns out to be, of course, a cover story.

KORNACKI: Right. Again, we these fractures bits of desk. If this is
a legitimate, you know, review from Charlie McKenna of Bill Baroni`s
assembly performance at the end of November, if that`s what that
represents, then the only story that Charlie McKenna could tell you was I
was duped. They laid out -- everything that bill baroni said about these
special Fort Lee-only lanes, which again, if you`re from that part of New
Jersey, you drive through that part of New Jersey, you can say it`s
transparently disingenuous, you know, that he was duped by that story.

The only other alternative at that point if he had that kind of
knowledge was he was impressed by the stage craft and performance of
something that he knew to be disingenuous. But that`s yet to be revealed.

O`DONNELL: The rabbi who finds himself to his surprise, apparently,
in these e-mails has said today that he has no idea what that`s about.
Somewhere, I have a quote from him. No idea what it`s about and he says,
I`ve never -- "David Wildstein made reference to me in newly released e-
mails. He`s a psychopath, I`ve never met him.

KORNACKI: I think that -- Sid Wilson, that was actually key --

O`DONNELL: Oh, Wildstein --


KORNACKI: Sid Wilson.

Here`s what I say about that, just having worked for David Wildstein
when he was Wally Edge, the anonymous blogger in New Jersey. We would joke
back and forth, I think there was a certain type of political character,
and I don`t know this rabbi, his role in New Jersey politics, doing a
little research on him today, though. He seems very eager to get his
picture taken with, you know, famous political celebrities.

I saw pictures online with four or five prominent Republicans that he
got his picture taken with. And he seems pretty eager to promote that.
That type of political character I think really made that my boss, when I
made David Wildstein roll his eye, we would go back and forth frequently
about who are the worst offenders.

O`DONNELL: And Sid Wilson is one of the worse offenders?

KORNACKI: He`s comparing -- I didn`t take that as being -- I don`t
think it reveals about the bridge operation. I think that`s just -- he
identified that rabbi as being somebody who --

O`DONNELL: But what we`re seeing in these e-mails is real attitude
confirmation about team Christie and the way they looked at this stuff.

This stuff is fun. This stuff is stuff you joke about, attacking
people and trying to do harm to them as in the case of the rabbi is
something you are interested in trying to find a way to do that. You know,
will traffic problems work for the rabbi?

KORNACKI: That`s the part that jumps out at me. That exchange is
taking place, I think August 19th. So, August 13th is the date of the
famous Bridget Kelly, time for traffic problems in Fort Lee. Now six days
later they`re texting. It comes up again. It`s a very familiar point of
reference for them. It just shows the premeditation I think that went into
these lane closures.

This was something very much on their mind. You wonder how many other
references not just by them but anybody else that had knowledge of this.
But this is something that was very much on their minds clearly before
September 9th.

O`DONNELL: Now, last night on the radio, he -- Christie strongly
continues to support David Samson. Let`s listen to that.


ERIC SCOTT, RADIO HOST: There was one other I think that was in the
New York news this week that I wanted to talk about. And that goes back to
the Port Authority. Your top Port Authority appointee, David Samson was
target of criticism by the P.A.`s executive director, Patrick Foye. Foye
was asked by "The New York Daily News" if Samson had the moral authority to
lead the agency and he flat out said "no", but then wouldn`t elaborate it
on any further.

Do you still stand by Samson as your appointee?

GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: Strongly, firmly. And I
disagree with Pat Foye.


O`DONNELL: And this is after a New Jersey newspaper editorial calling
for Samson`s resignation. Samson is clearly in an e-mail using real New
Jersey gangster language about Pat Foye when Pat Foye`s big offense is he
has stopped the crime that`s occurring at the bridge.


O`DONNELL: And he`s done the right thing. And you get this e-mail
from Samson when he finds out about that saying, you know, he`s playing in
traffic. You know, this is going to be bad for him.

Real thug gangster language from Chris Christie`s honored chairman of
the Port Authority.

KORNACKI: General Samson. It`s more than that, too. It`s what`s
been released about David Samson and his activities after this.

O`DONNELL: This is the part -- we`ve got to stop here. People don`t
realize, you`ve got a big job. You`re the chairman of the Port Authority
and you are allowed to have any other jobs you want in the world.

KORNACKI: That`s what -- yes. That`s the other thing that`s come
out. It has nothing to do with these transcripts. He has this job as Port
Authority chairman and he also has this job of he`s the head of this giant
politically connected law firm.


KORNACKI: And so much has come out in the last few weeks. But we did
the Hoboken story, right?


KORNACKI: So, the Port Authority, David Samson was weeks away from
formally being confirmed. But the Port Authority paid for this
redevelopment study in Hoboken. And the redevelopment study came back and
it gave the recommendation that the developer represented by David Samson`s
law firm hoped for.

And then e-mails start coming to city officials in Hoboken with David
Samson copied on them in his capacity as the head of this law firm trying
to set up meetings, trying to set up conference calls so that people in
this city who depend on the Port Authority, they`re a Port Authority city,
they`re at the mercy of Port Authority for all sorts of financial and
transportation issue, they`re at the mercy of David Samson`s Port
Authority, they`re now being put in the position of, you have to talk to a
lawyer David Samson who is representing this development interest who wants
to build a tower in your city. And, by the way, whose Port Authority paid
for the study he wants to talk to you about.

O`DONNELL: Yes. I mean, Samson is a walking scandal all by himself,
in any other environment. The only thing that`s protecting him right now
is this giant board of other -- with other names on the scandal sheet. So,
it`s hard to spend enough time just on what a scandal Samson is.

KORNACKI: And the other -- this is a question that`s been raised in
this whole process, when David Wildstein`s lawyer trying to get his bills
paid. This is the one where he said evidence exists about the Chris
Christie`s knowledge. He also alluded to conflicts of interest between
Port Authority commissioners. It`s very unclear what he`s saying but it
seems he might be hinting at more about David Samson because we`ve seen
several conflicts come about David Samson.

About a Pass station in Harrison, NJ Transit, we` seen multiple

O`DONNELL: Every breath Samson takes at the Port Authority is a
conflict of interest and Christie knew that would be the case before
appointing him. He knew what his real job was.

"UP WITH STEVE KORNACKI" airs Saturday and Sunday mornings at 8:00 on
MSNBC. I never missed it and I know I`m going to learn more about these
emails this Saturday morning.

Steve, thank you very much for joining me.


O`DONNELL: Coming up, the Republicans and Ted Cruz and the battle
that never ends between them.

And Joy Reid joins me to talk about the president`s new initiative, My
Brother`s Keeper, and the extraordinary comments the president made at the
White House made today.

And "The Rewrite" tonight, Bill O`Reilly will tell us why he doesn`t
want to be president. He really doesn`t. Tweet me your guesses about why
Bill O`Reilly doesn`t want to be president.


O`DONNELL: Today, this happened at John Boehner`s press conference.


REPORTER: Mr. Camp, I mean, sorry, Mr. Speaker --

BOEHNER: Boner, boner.



O`DONNELL: He said it, not me.

Up next, the Tea Party celebrated today by listening to fantasies by
Ted Cruz.



CRUZ: They will say the fight to stop Obama care did not succeed.
Really? You know, I`m a big believer that the proof is in the pudding.


O`DONNELL: Really? What pudding?

The pudding that says the fight to stop Obamacare succeeded?

Well, today, Ted Cruz went to one audience who would eat up that
pudding. The Tea Party Patriots were celebrating their fifth anniversary,
which the Democrats in the Senate were secretly celebrating along with
them, since the Democrats have been able to preserve their majority in the
Senate thanks exclusively to Tea Party candidates who otherwise politically
weak Democrats were able to beat.

Ted Cruz began his day at a "Politico" event where he was questioned
by Mike Allen about his loyalty or lack of loyalty to the Republican Party.


MIKE ALLEN, POLITICO: So just to button this down, you now would not
raise money for or support any group that was targeting sitting Republican

CRUZ: Look, I have made no such ironclad promise, but --

ALLEN: Why not?

CRUZ: What I have said is that I`m likely going to stay out of
incumbent Republican primaries. I haven`t put that in concrete but it is -
- I`m likely going to stay out of Republican incumbent primaries.

ALLEN: Why aren`t you putting it in concrete?

CRUZ: Because things can change in politics.


O`DONNELL: When Ted Cruz was asked about Mitch McConnell, he had a
one-word answer.


ALLEN: All right. Senator, we`re going to do a rapid round. I`m
going to say a name and you`re going to say the first word that comes to
your mind. Mitch McConnell.

CRUZ: Leader.

ALLEN: That`s a statement of fact.


CRUZ: That is what is stenciled on his door.


O`DONNELL: Ari Melber, he could not keep a straight face when being
asked about the minority leader of his party in the Senate. That`s what`s
stenciled on his door.

ARI MELBER, THE CYCLE: Do I get to take that long in my responses?
That`s what I want to know.

O`DONNELL: Yes, you do. Yes, you do. You can think it over.

Yes, it took him so long to come up with a line.

MELBER: Yes, that`s funny. Look, it`s a small moment, but it is
funny. He style himself as such an anti-politician, but as you know, he`s
a very political guy that beat the pause there.

The pregnant pause about how he wants to deal with McConnell. And he
knows right now McConnell is in, not only a real primary with Matt Bevin,
but we see numbers out this week showing within the margin of error, he`
trailing behind a brand-new Democratic challenger here in Alison Lundergan-
Grimes who, of course, Bill Clinton was out campaigning for.

What you`re seeing in that pause, I believe, is the calculation of you
know what, I messed with McConnell a lot. I gave him a terrible strategy
on how to deal with the shutdown and the ACA, this is not the week for me
to pile on.

And in that pause is the political grandstanding that I think
characterizes Ted Cruz -- a guy who wants us to believe he`s a true
believer. I think those are great in both parties, but he`s proved to be a
guy full of machinations.

O`DONNELL: But he -- in that moment, he knows his crazy Tea Party
audience that eats his pudding that somehow the fight to stop Obamacare
worked. They believe that. That he knows they`re listening too. And he
knew he had that line ready after the word leader. It`s what`s stenciled
on his door.

So, they get it. I`m not actually calling him a leader. This is the
most minimal way I can --

MELBER: It was almost like the quietest dog whistle you could ever

O`DONNELL: Yes, it was perfect.

Let`s hear some of what he said about the leadership in his party in


ALLEN: Should Mitch McConnell be the Senate Republican leader?

CRUZ: Look, that is the decision for the conference to make.

ALLEN: Yes, but what`s your personal opinion on that. Is he a strong
leader or is he a sellout?

CRUZ: I strongly disagree with the decisions -- some of the decisions
the Republican leadership has made this past year.


O`DONNELL: Is he a strong leader or a sellout I believe was the
question. I mean, you could --

MELBER: Hey, it`s "Politico`s" world, we just live in it. Those are
your only choices. Look, I think we know from his governance and his votes
that he is not with Mitch McConnell, he would be almost with anyone in the
caucus other than Mitch McConnell.

O`DONNELL: You know, I don`t think so.

MELBER: You don`t agree.

O`DONNELL: I think a majority of the caucus would behave exactly like
McConnell if they were leader. So he would be against, you know, all but I
don`t know, Michael Lee? If Mike Lee was leader, maybe he`d be, you know -

MELBER: Yes, I don`t -- and there`s no one -- I mean, the Tea Party
caucus in the Senate is Ted Cruz, Mike Lee and Rand Paul. That`s it.


MELBER: OK. And that`s why they have to go to Tortilla Coast, the
Mexican restaurant off the Hill. That`s true, by the way, folks, I`m not
making that up. And have meetings with the House Republicans.

Yes, look, the guacamole there, I`ve got no problem with it. But they
have these little meetings because that`s their leverage. As you pointed
out in the now infamous question, Lawrence, what pudding, sir? What
pudding? What pudding has Obamacare been repealed?

They have those meeting. They apply that strategy. And there`s two
pieces to this. One, as you said, the politics didn`t work. They did not
repeat the ACA. They hurt themselves in the shutdown.

And, two, the larger military piece is they got some automatic budget
cuts through the 2011 deficit-driven Tea Party threat to default on the
debt. And now, Chuck Hagel is carrying those out and folks like Senator
Rubio and other colleagues of him are saying, we don`t like it, we don`t
like the thing we made you do under the threat of default.

O`DONNELL: He is the worst problem the Republicans have in the United
States Senate. There is no Democrat that causes them more trouble than
what Ted Cruz causes them. They don`t have a majority in the Senate, the
Republicans don`t, because of Ted Cruz and his ilk who have been pushing
these candidates who can`t possibly win when they get the nomination.

The Democrats have to secretly be watching this and whatever, you
know, personal dislike they have for Cruz, they have to sit there in the
Senate and go, we are so lucky that Ted Cruz is just ruining life for
Republicans in the Senate.

BERMAN: Oh, yes. I think Democrats absolutely feel he`s been a huge
thorn in the side. He`s a messaging nightmare. And when it comes to
Senate parliamentary procedure, which is something you and I happen to have
the benefit of knowing a little bit about, he`s also a liar. And it makes
Republicans look really bad.

There is such a thing as a real filibuster that you go to the floor
and try to make that point. And every so often it gets, you know, grandly
covered. But as we all pointed out at the time, when we went down for his
non-filibuster because there was no an actual cloture motion that he was
dealing with, it was not a filibuster, according to what senators care
about, which is the rules that they are governed by, he went online about

And it was the same, by the way, in the "Politico" interview you
showed there with Mike Allen, he was asked again about the shutdown. And
he said the Republicans didn`t cause the shutdown. It was Obama and Harry
Reid`s shut down. That`s not true.

You can have a political debate over whether it was a good thing.
That`s what politics is. It`s a lie to go out there and claim that the
president or the Senate leader denied the government to be funded. That`s
a four Pinocchio, pants on fire, fully fact checked lie.

And it`s interesting to me he`s the kind of guy, again, to your point,
about why he`s bad for his Senate colleagues -- he`s the kind of Senate
Republican that will lie in a way that will get caught. And those are the
worst lies in politics.

O`DONNELL: Ari Melber, thank you very much for joining me.

MELBER: Thank you, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Coming up, Joy Reid is here to discuss some
extraordinarily personal comments that President Obama made at the White
House today. That`s next.


O`DONNELL: In "The Spotlight" tonight, My Brother`s Keeper.

At the White House event today, the president spoke in extraordinarily
personal terms about the challenges facing boys who grew up the way he did.


that when I was their age, I was a lot like them. I didn`t have a dad in
the house. And I was angry about it even though I didn`t necessarily
realize it at the time.

I made bad choices. I got high without always thinking about the harm
that it could do. I didn`t always take school as seriously as I should
have. I made excuses. Sometimes I sold myself short.

And I remember when I was saying this -- Christian, you may remember
this -- after I was finished, the guy sitting next to me said are you
talking about you? I said yes.


O`DONNELL: Joy Reid, has any president ever spoken more personally
and revealingly at a White House podium?

JOY REID, REID REPORT: No. And I think just the view we get into the
inside of Barack Obama`s mind is something we` never seen in a president.
This is normally what happens when a biographer goes back 20 years later
and tries to reconstruct the sort of interior life of a president.

With Barack Obama, you`ve seen it from the time he wrote that
autobiography, where he completely bared his soul, about drug use, about he
was in terms of race, about his anxieties, about his racial identity, about
his family, about his father. And now, he`s doing that again as president.

I think historians have got to be losing their minds over this. This
is really extraordinary and historic.

O`DONNELL: And it felt very -- it was nationally televised.

REID: Yes.

O`DONNELL: We carried it on this network. And, obviously, it`s one
of those -- it`s a big White House event, big audience there. But it did
feel like it was directed specifically to those boys behind him and boys
like them all over the country. And he was going to say what they needed
to hear.

I mean, for the president to say, you know, I got high and I wasn`t
always thinking about the harm that I could do. That`s sort of thing -- to
say it so easily and directly, I think he made the decision, I don`t care
what that sound like to adults out there who might not like it or might no
be comfortable hearing a president say it. He needed those boys to hear

absolutely. And I think we`ve seen the demystified presidency really since
Bill Clinton, right? We stopped having the president at his rare fight to
other person. And then as we had these advances in social media where you
sort of personalized everything, I think that he`s living in a time of a
demystified presidency, but he`s doing it even more.

And to your point, even at a public event like this, this was not
President Obama speaking to a room full of people. This was Barack Obama
turning and directly speaking to young boys and saying to them, I`m just
like you. The first lady does that a lot, too, when she`s speaking with
African-American girls. And he was literally almost delivering what I used
to hear in a Methodist church sermon. Where you would have the pastor
saying I understand the wrongs that are in your own life. I understand
where you are coming from. I want you to walk a better path. Walk the
path I did. And he was acknowledging that it isn`t always possible. Not
everyone has the bridges that he did. But he`s saying there`s no excuses.
Despite the things I understand are wrong with society and make your lives
harder. This is his message. It`s a core message for this president and
he`s sticking to it and tripling down on it.

O`DONNELL: There`s a part of this speech you wanted us to hear.
Let`s listen to that now.


will have to be a two-way bargain because no matter how much the community
chips in, it`s ultimately going to be up to these young men and all the
young men who are out there to step up and seize responsibility for their


OBAMA: No excuses. Government and private sector and philanthropy
and all the faith communities, we all have the responsibility to help
provide you the tools you need. We`ve got to help you knock down some of
the barriers that you experience. That`s what we`re here for. But you`ve
got a responsibility, too. And I know you can meet the challenge. Many of
you already are, if you make the effort.

It may be hard, but you will have to reject the cynicism that says the
circumstances of your birth or society`s lingering injustices necessarily
define you and your future. It will take courage, but you will have to
tune out the naysayers who say the deck is stacked against you. You might
as well just give up or settle into the stereotype.


O`DONNELL: Joy, no excuses was his message to the boys.

REID: Yes. And it`s a fundamentally conservative message. What`s
interesting is that he did point out, Reverend Al Sharpton, our friend and
colleague was there, but that Bill O`Reilly was there, too, and they agree
on this. And that is sort of the old school, old time religion message
that conservatives agree with which is that whatever societal problems you
think are holding you back, they are an excuse for you to is a advance.

This drives the president`s within the black community out of their
minds, crazy. It really irritates a lot of, particularly young black men,
public and elect those people who are right and people like (INAUDIBLE) who
say you`re blaming the victim and you`re saying you`re putting all the
burden on them to ignore all of these social ills that are real and not
dealing with the social ills themselves. It`s something that the
president`s critics don`t like.

But the interesting thing about President Obama is that he knows that.
He is actively engaging those critics and he is pushing back. And he
really wants them to agree with him that this is the right message to send
to young black men. And you get the sense that this is a president who
doesn`t want to leave office not having given this message to young men,
not having been a physical, living example of what he wants them to aspire
to. He is a guy who believes that this aspirational, you might call,
respectability politics message is his core. That`s his Kansas grandmother
talking, that is. The activist Barack Obama is his mom. But this Kansas
upbringing with by his grandparents is what you hear, those Midwestern
values he was raised with and he really does believe it.

O`DONNELL: Let`s listen to what he said about the statistical picture
for a young boys of color in this country.


OBAMA: If you`re African-American, there`s about a one in two chance
you grow up without a father in your house, one in two. If you`re Latino,
you have about a one in four chance. We know that boys who grow up without
a father are more likely to be poor, more likely to underperform in school.
As a black student, you are far less likely than a white student to be able
to read proficiently by the time you are in fourth grade. By the time you
reach high school, you`re far more likely to have been suspended or
expelled. There`s a higher chance you end up in the criminal justice
system. And a far higher chance that you`re the victim of a violent crime.

Fewer young black and Latino men participate in the labor force
compared to young white men. And all of this translates into higher
unemployment rate evens poverty rates as adults. And the worst part is,
we`ve become numb to these statistics. We`re not surprised by them. We
take them as the norm. We just assume this is an inevitable part of
American life, instead of the outrage that it is.


O`DONNELL: The statistical picture like that rattled off by
politicians is -- I`ve never heard it be as moving as that that.

REID: No, absolutely. And those things are inarguably true. And the
saddest part of it is that unsaid in that soliloquy is there`s absolutely
nothing that elected government in Washington is going to do about it.
Because the just the fact of those statistics is itself so polarizing, it
leaves a lot of people on the right to dismiss African-Americans as
pathological and it leaves people on the left to look in for solutions to
come from a Congress that, frankly, isn`t going to pass a dime in funding
to do anything about it.

And so, the position that this president is in, is he understands
those statistics. He understands how the pathos of that and he knows in a
legislative manner, he can`t address it. So now he`s trying to see how can
he still do something about it.

And I think this is a White House that said, I`ll convene. I`ll find
the people who can do something about it. And isle use the power of the
office to draw them to me and then using sort of the influence, the natural
influence as president, to get them to do it. Because clearly Washington
is failing, is really failing young men of color in this country. And so
are the governments all the way down the line. He knows it and he`s
president of the United States and there`s nothing he can do about it other
than convene. And that`s really kind of sad for our society.

O`DONNELL: Yes. It`s -- the things he was talking about there also
later, he talks about he doesn`t have a son. He has these daughters. He
talked about what he would hope for for his son. And again, it`s one of
those things where I really can`t imagine another politician who could have
spoken this way, especially in the White House.

REID: No. It`s extraordinary. It`s one of the reasons I think it`s
such a good thing that we have an African-American president, for all the
negatives that have happened, for all the really kind of shocking
disrespect that he`s faced, for all the controversies and how angry people
got when he said things that are self-evident, like if he had a son, he
would look like Trayvon Martin. I think this country needed to have this
moment. We needed to have this presidency happen so we could test
ourselves and really see where we are and assess where we are in terms of
race as a country. We found out some things we don`t like. But I think
because this president is so open, we`ve also found some important things
about the presidency and him in it. I think it`s a good thing.

O`DONNELL: Joy Reid, thank you very much for joining me. Your show
is 2:00 p.m. That`s where I steal all the stuff I then use on this show at

Joy, thank you very much.

REID: Thank you, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Coming up, a dramatic, I mean it, a dramatic behind the
scenes at the White House story and how an emergency team of tech experts
saved Obamacare.

And in the rewrite tonight, why Bill O`Reilly doesn`t want to be



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A "New York Times" poll say that eight out of ten
Democrats want Hillary Clinton to run for president in 2016. The same poll
shows that 10 out of 10 Democrats want Chris Christie to run against her.


O`DONNELL: Up next in the rewrite, Bill O`Reilly`s brave questions.



BILL O`REILLY, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: There`s got to be some down side
having a woman president, right? Something that may not fit with that
office, correct?


O`DONNELL: It takes a brave talk show host to ask such a stupid
question. And as Bill O`Reilly will tell you, he`s the bravest of us all.

OK. Let`s see how O`Reilly`s guests handled that very brave question
last night.


O`REILLY: Correct?


O`REILLY: There`s no down side to having a woman --

POWERS: Just because you`re female that something -- let me ask you
this, what`s the down side of a man being president?


O`DONNELL: Well played. That`s exactly what a Democrat on the
payroll of FOX News has to do when confronted with an outright crazy FOX
News question. You can`t just say, Bill, that`s a stupid, and to many
people, offensive question. you have to come up with something else. And
turning the question back on Bill is your very best move for him. But
don`t think Bill doesn`t have an answer.


O`REILLY: Look, men are men and women are women. There`s a
difference, OK? There`s a difference between the genders. Now, men,
they`re tied up a lot of thin their macho image. They act like you`re not
going to push me around. That could be a deficit, you know?


O`DONNELL: What`s he talking about? Since when does Bill O`Reilly
think that`s a deficit.


O`REILLY: Hold it. I`m getting teed off at you. Give me one damn
program! Entitlement.


O`REILLY: Because you`re lying.

KRAUTHAMMER: I`m not lying.

O`REILLY: You are lying here.

KRAUTHAMMER: Don`t call me a liar.

O`REILLY: No, you`re lying! It`s jack what you`re saying.


O`DONNELL: Where`s the deficit there? Last night Bill O`Reilly kept
pushing his case that there`s something wrong with having a woman president
and finally he found an answer.


O`REILLY: There`s got to be a down side for a woman. Do you know

time with this one, too, Bill. I think it depends on the individual. Of
course there`s a down side to certain individual women.

O`REILLY: But in general, you both don`t see any gender deficiency to
lead the free world?

POWERS: Well, look, I can actually think of something.

OBENSHAIN: Oh, good.

POWERS: If you can take your example of men being macho. A woman
might feel like she needs to act macho, for example, maybe feel like she
had to take, vote for, say, the Iraq war. I`m just going to say
theoretically, to make it look like she would be a tough leader when she
was in office and that she`s not afraid to use military force.

O`REILLY: That`s what Hillary Clinton did.



O`DONNELL: Oh, yes, that Hillary Clinton vote for the Iraq war that
put it over the top. Well, actually, there were 77 votes in the Senate
authorizing the Iraq war. Most women senators voted yes. But Hillary
Clinton is the only woman who voted yes who is accused of voting yes simply
to prove her toughness. And most men senators voted yes, too. And none of
them have been accused of voting yes to prove their toughness, including
Chuck Schumer, Hillary Clinton`s New York partner in the Senate who voted
yes. California`s senators split on the issue. Barbara Boxer voted no.
Dianne Feinstein voted yes and no one attributed either one of those to

One group of Senate Democrats who unanimously voted yes were all of
the senators who planned to run for president. Joe Biden voted yes, Chris
Dodd voted yes, John Edwards voted yes, John Kerry coyote voted yes, Joe
Lieberman voted yes and Hillary Clinton voted yes. They all voted yes and
they all ran for president. Now, you can debate why Hillary Clinton voted
for the Iraq war and presidential ambition probably had something to do
with it. But gender clearly had nothing to do with it.

O`Reilly ended his segment by asking his Democrat and Republican women
guests if they wanted to be president. And each of them said no, proving,
I guess, in O`Reilly`s mind, anyway, that women don`t really want to be
president anyway, so what`s all the fuss about. And once again at the end,
his clever Democratic guest turned the question back on bill.


POWERS: Bill, do you want to be question?

O`REILLY: I don`t want to take the salary cut. It would be
devastating to me.


O`DONNELL: It wouldn`t just be devastating to Bill O`Reilly.


O`DONNELL: Up next, a dramatic behind the scenes account of what
could have been a White House disaster.


O`DONNELL: When we turn it on tomorrow morning, we`re going to knock
your socks off. That`s what the White House chief of staff was saying
privately about the Web site for the affordable care act the night before
it was turned on and failed miserably. And two weeks later, the president
was secretly thinking of scrapping the whole thing and starting over. So
reports Steven Brill has new article for "Time" magazine on how Obamacare
was saved.

And joining me now, Steven Brill, "Time" magazine contributor. This
is a drama. This is really -- I mean, I`ve read a lot of inside the White
House accounts.

socks off.

O`DONNELL: They did it. Yes. So, how did they get to the point
where the White House chief of staff and presumably the president believed
that when we turn it on tomorrow, it`s going to be so great?

BRILL: Because that`s what they were being told. They would ask
these I questions, in fact, the same chief of staff told me the president
would end every meeting when they were planning the launch by saying to
everyone well, this is all great, but none of it matters if the technology
doesn`t work. Does the technology work? Everyone said yes, boss. The
technology works. They were getting all their information from the
department of health and human services and from the Medicare people who
were supposedly building the Web site. And everybody was just afraid to
tell them, I guess, or they didn`t know that this thing was a disaster
waiting to happen.

O`DONNELL: No. But those people, were they all working out of their
depth, working on something they had never done before?

BRILL: I think the evidence is clear that they were. But more
important --

O`DONNELL: And is that was nagging at the president that he know,
hey, wait a minute, these aren`t generals who have run this exercise
before. These are people who were doing something they have never done

BRILL: I didn`t interview the president. So I don`t know what he
knew. But, I mean, I don`t know that it was nagging at him or if he wasn`t
just stating the obvious. But what I do know is that they hired a bunch of
contractors. None of them got along with each other and there was
literally no one in charge.

I started doing some reporting if what are I thought was going to be a
dramatic article on the successful launch of the site on October 1st. And
I started doing that in July and August. Then I went down there one day in
the summer and interviewed about a dozen people at the White House, health
and human services, and Medicare. And I would almost as a conversation
starter I would say who`s in charge? And I didn`t even pay much attention
to the answer until I got back on the train to come back to New York and
starting reading my notes. I realize I had gotten 12 different answers.
And I got home that night and I said to my wife, this is in trouble.
There`s nobody in charge.

O`DONNELL: Now, it is in trouble they discovered some trouble very,
very quickly and they bring in this emergency team. First of all, how did
they assemble them. I mean, you know, I might want the best of these tech
expert in the country but who knows who they are and how do you get them to

BRILL: They talked to people in Silicon Valley and the irony is they
talked to the veterans of their own campaign staff who had put together all
the data, the analytic, put together the --

O`DONNELL: Best ever in a campaign.

BRILL: They were dealing with the political data analytics people
from the beginning to do the political part of it which was to, you know,
create the marketing messages. But they didn`t talk to the technical
people who created all the software and knew how to write code. Those are
the people they reached out to on October, beginning October the 18th or
so. And those are the people who rode into the rescue.

O`DONNELL: What was the feeling at the beginning of the rescue, was
there confidence that we were going to rescue this thing? You have here
the president saying October 17th, we may have to start over.

BRILL: The first job over five days was these people who come in and
look at it and say do we have to scrap the whole thing and come back in six
and nine months? And what they said was the lucky thing was the people
building it had made so many obvious mistakes that it was quickly fixable.
So they said, you know, in ten week, we will be able to rebuild the Web
site that all these contractors for over $300 million had spent 2 1/2 or
three years building. Don`t worry, we think we`ve got this.

O`DONNELL: What is the difference -- I mean, there`s a passage in
here about government is not in the business of delivering a product online
the way other retailers are.

BRILL: They don`t deliver consumer products.

O`DONNELL: Consumer product online. And you say in here that`s
normally done in a small circle. You try one state and you see how that
works and then you start to expand it out over time.

BRILL: No one ever does a complicated software delivery by doing it
all at once. Whoever created the software, you know, that`s running the
control room here, it is tested it first before they brought it, you know,
to MSNBC and NBC and said here, use this in every studio. No one does
that. They did that.

O`DONNELL: What about -- this is a government that operates this
giant thing called Social Security, Medicare, millions and millions of
participants who are being tracked through the computer systems. It seemed
like the government knew how to deal with millions of people through this

BRILL: Well they do, and as you know, because you have been involved
in this over the years, they`ve had some problems. For example, when
Social Security was started, they had a tech problem. They had a computer
problem. You know what it was? No one could figure out how to create
enough different numbers for people.

O`DONNELL: Social Security numbers.

BRILL: There had to be 15 million numbers just write down in a piece
of paper. So they always know they have problems. But they tend to solve
them in a better way they did here. Although now, it works.

O`DONNELL: This is -- so you`re confident --

BRILL: It`s really dramatic.

O`DONNELL: In terms of the Web site working, is it all settled now?

BRILL: It`s not all settled. The back end of how they pay the
insurance companies and stuff like that still have to be done. But these
people work through thanksgiving. They work right up to Christmas eve.
You know, they literally worked 19 or 20 hours a day. You know, they go
out to the shopping mall to buy new clothes and they got it done. And in
that sense it`s a good story about people who were modest. I mean, the
hardest reporting I had to do was to get each of these people to take
individual credit for something they did.

O`DONNELL: Yes, you can tell. You have heroes in here. And they
just won`t step up that way and claim that.

BRILL: It is selfless, they`re modest, and they come from silicon
valley which is not what you often think of these days when you think of
Silicon Valley.

O`DONNELL: This is great just great reporting and analysis.

"Time" magazine contributor, Steven Brill gets tonight`s "Last Word."
Thanks, Steve.

BRILL: Thank you.

O`DONNELL: Chris Hayes is up next.


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