updated 2/28/2014 10:51:10 AM ET 2014-02-28T15:51:10

POLITICS NATION
February 27, 2014

Guests: Angela Rye; Valerie Jarrett; Bonnie Watson Coleman

REVEREND AL SHARPTON, MSNBC ANCHOR: Good evening, Ed. And thanks to you
for tuning in. I`m live tonight from Washington, D.C.

Tonight`s lead, new documents in the Chris Christie bridge scandal
revealed. We`re learning more about the actions of key Christie aides and
allies before, during, and after the lane closings. The information comes
from David Wildstein. The former bridge official who carried out the lane
closings. He`s the one who replied "got it" to that now infamous e-mail,
"time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee."

That exchange came to light as part of subpoenaed documents. But a big
question has been why did Wildstein cross out some material? Today the big
news. Many of those redactions have been revealed, exposing Christie aides
joking about abusing power. And we have names to go with statements that
had been anonymous. A notorious example was the response by an unnamed
person to complaints from the Fort Lee mayor about children who couldn`t
get to school. Quote "is it wrong that I`m smiling?" Someone wrote,
before adding I feel badly about the kids, I guess.

Today we learned those comments came from Bridget Kelly, who is Christie`s
deputy chief of staff and sent the "time for traffic problems" e-mail. And
today we know who responded quote "they are the children Buono voters." It
was David Wildstein.

We also learning, weeks before the lane closings, Wildstein and Kelly joked
about punishing a local rabbi. In mid-August, Wildstein texted a photo of
the rabbi possessing with house speaker John Boehner, and then wrote "he
has officially pissed me off." Kelly responded "we cannot cause traffic
problems in front of his house, can we?" Then Wildstein joked "flights to
Tel Aviv mysteriously delayed." Kelly wrote back, "perfect." And the
rabbi today said he has no idea why he was the subject of these texts. The
tow key figures battering (ph) about the lane closings. There were also
documents showing an effort to conceal the story and keep lawmakers away.

Joining me now is assemblywoman Bonnie Watson Coleman, a member of the
select committee investigating this scandal. And Michael Isikoff, NBC News
national investigative correspondent. Thank you both for joining me.

BONNIE WATSON COLEMAN, NEW JERSEY ASSEMBLYWOMAN: Glad to be here,
Reverend.

MICHAEL ISIKOFF, NBC NEWS NATIONAL INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT: Good to be
with you.

SHARPTON: Assemblywoman, what do you make of this casual banter revealed
in these e-mails?

COLEMAN: I think it speaks to this culture of abuse of power. I think
it`s very dangerous when you think where some of these people are working
and some of the things they were saying. They are talking about the port
authority. Now they`re talking about delaying flights to Tel Aviv if there
are any coming out of the Newark airport.

What I think is that we`re getting insight into what happens in the locker
room, what happens when they don`t think that anyone`s around them or can
get to what they`re talking about. But talking to each other.

So you see them being abusive and dismissive. You see them talking about
people in racial or Semitic terms. You see that there is this sort of
culture of just disrespect and abusiveness. And the one thing that
connects every bit of this is that the conversations are going on with the
people who are either working directly for governor Chris Christie or in
their jobs because of their relationships with the governor. And that
really saddens me as a public servant in the state of New Jersey. That`s
not who we are, and that`s not what we deserve.

And this really is what they`re all about, transactional deals,
dismissiveness, remarks that are totally, totally unacceptable in a
civilized society. And you know what? The governor needs to think about
resigning, and he needs to take all his friends with him because this is
sickening.

SHARPTON: You`re saying that the governor needs to think about resigning
himself. Why?

COLEMAN: Because I think that the one connecting thread to everything
you`re reading that is now un-redacted and released is between people that
work for him at very high levels or people who are in the authority who
have their jobs because of him. Because I believe that if you look at the
things that you`re seeing in the e-mails, and you pay attention to the way
this governor has treated people in the state of New Jersey, how abusive he
has been, how dismissive and disgustingly mean he has been to people, even
heroes, even veterans, then this is the kind of behavior that is
unacceptable in a public servant. You`re not there to serve your
interests. You`re there to serve the interests of everyday people in your
state. So if you can`t do that --

SHARPTON: But there is nothing that I`ve heard, and I`m going to bring
Michael Isikoff in that directly implicates the governor there is no
smoking gun on the governor directly. So why would we call on his
resignation at this time?

COLEMAN: Because he is responsible for everybody that is in the middle of
all of this mess, not just this -- this is irrespective of just Bridgegate.
This is all the stuff that we`re hearing about all the transactions that
are taking place. This is abusiveness. This is bullying. This is
disrespectfulness. That`s the way he has been governing. And the one
connecting theme here is that he has hired or caused the hiring of each and
every one of them. I`m not saying he has done anything legal. I`m saying
it`s unethical and it is not worthy of New Jersey`s citizens.

SHARPTON: Michael, you have poured over all of these documents. First of
all, there is no direct smoking gun on the governor yet. And we don`t know
if there is any.

ISIKOFF: Any closer or further away from the governor.

SHARPTON: But the tone, what the assemblywoman is talking about, the tone,
the bantering.

ISIKOFF: Right.

SHARPTON: The like laughing at oh, I wish, referring to I wish I felt
sorry for the kids. Is that throughout the documents? And how do you
respond to the tone?

ISIKOFF: Actually, what`s interesting is that exchange, which you read
about the rabbi in which Kelly says we cannot cause traffic problems in
front of his house and then Wildstein talks about traffic, flights to Tel
Aviv being mysteriously delayed. The timing is what is interesting there.
It`s August 19th. That`s just six days after that August 13th e-mail "time
for some traffic problems in Fort Lee." And the language is so similar, you
know, create traffic problems. You know, Kelly, it seemed to have been a
refrain or sort of a mantra for Bridget Kelly in the governor`s office to
talk about creating traffic problems.

Now, look, at the end of the day, this seems to be more juvenile banter
than anything else there was not any effort to create problems, traffic
jams in front of the rabbi`s house or delay flights from going to or from
Israel. This was just sort of jocular talk. One can raise legitimately
questions about whether people in the authority, in the government ought to
be talking this way in texts or e-mails.

But, you know, I think the significance is the mind-set. Look, it can even
be in some bizarre way exculpatory for Bridget Kelly because she can say
look, we were clearly joking here, as we were in the earlier e-mail
exchange about the traffic problem.

SHARPTON: But the problem is, joking or not, there was traffic jams on the
George Washington bridge.

ISIKOFF: There were, in fact, government actions that created traffic jams
on the GW bridge. And that`s why there is an investigation, and that`s why
this is still going to be a story. But these e-mails in and of themselves
don`t really advance our state and knowledge about what happened on that
bridge.

SHARPTON: Now, Assemblywoman, in November, David Wildstein and Bill Baroni
discussed blocking two lawmakers from a question-and-answer session at a
port authority commissioner`s meeting. David Wildstein wrote to Bill
Baroni instructions for gaggle. Do we let Weinberg and Witz attend? Can
we stop them? That`s a reference to state senator Loretta Weinberg and
assemblyman John Wisniewski, now the co-chairs of the select committee.
Baroni responded how do we stop them? It just creates an issue.

So there clearly seems to be some back and forward even on how they were
going to try and if we are to take the tone and words over this -- of these
e-mails, that they were trying to interfere with who was going to be part
of a hearing.

COLEMAN: So, Reverend, this is more than just banter and jocular and just
pettiness and silliness. These are people in authority. Now, they really
picked on two of the wrong legislators. You don`t shut down Loretta
Weinberg, and you don`t shut down John Wisniewski. They know what they can
do, and they will do what they need to do to get to the bottom of this.

But we are talking about professional adults making six-figure salaries in
the state of New Jersey in very high positions in the governor`s office and
very high positions in the port authority. And they are saying things that
are extremely troubling. They`re not just kidding. There has been no
traffic -- there is no demonstration that this is anything other than
political, maybe because the governor wanted to appear to be a good
candidate for the presidency among all the communities, and this one wasn`t
working out for him. There was no study. And just too even suggests that
we should have some traffic problems in front of this rabbi`s house, it`s a
retribution for something that they didn`t like. And that`s the way they
functioned. That`s the way they`ve been functioning. That`s the way
they`re still functioning. And I think that behavior is unacceptable in
New Jersey.

SHARPTON: Well, I`m going to have to leave it there. New jersey
Assemblywoman Bonnie Watson Coleman, and Michael Isikoff, thank you both
for your time tonight.

ISIKOFF: Thank you.

COLEMAN: Thank you, Reverend, for having me.

SHARPTON: Coming up, President Obama reveals his program to help young
minority men. I was there. And I`ll tell you why it`s personal for the
president.

Also, President Obama talked about Bill O`Reilly and me at the event.

Plus, inside the George Zimmerman murder trial, a provocative new book is
getting all kinds of attention today. What did the only minority juror
say? The author joins us live.

And get ready. "Politics Nation." scandal returns tonight, "Politics
Nation." the drama, the fun, and the social media explosion. We have two
of the show`s biggest fans here. And I think you`ll recognize them. Stay
with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: Ahead, President Obama gets personal, announcing a program to
help young minority men. I was there. It was powerful. That`s next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: Today the president announced one of his most personal
initiatives while in office. It`s a program called my brother`s keeper.
It will partner business and nonprofits in order to promote greater
opportunities for young minority men. It`s a program that is significant
to him. Not just as the president or as man of color, but as a father.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Michelle and I are blessed
with two beautiful daughters. We don`t have a son. But I know if I had a
son, on the day he was born, I would have felt everything I felt with Malia
and Sasha, the awe, the gratitude, the overwhelming sense of responsibility
to do everything in my power to protect that amazing new life from this big
world out there.

And just as our daughters are growing up into wonderful, beautiful young
women, I would want my son to feel a sense of boundless possibility. And
I`d want him to have independence and confidence. And I would want him to
have empathy and compassion. I would want him to have a sense of diligence
and commitment and respect for others and himself. The tools that he would
need to succeed. I don`t have a son. But as parents, that`s what we
should want, not just for our children, but for all children.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: For the president, this is an issue as important as any he has
worked on. And he is inspired in his mission by the young men he has met
while in office, like the young inner city youth he met in Chicago last
year. Kids who weren`t that different from himself, except for
circumstance.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: The point was I could see myself in these young men. And the only
difference is that I grew up in an environment that was a little bit more
forgiving. So when I made a mistake, the consequences were not as severe.
I had people who encourage me, not just my mom and grandparents, but
wonderful teachers and community leaders. And they would push me to work
hard and study hard and make the most of myself. And if I didn`t listen,
they said it again. And if I didn`t listen, they said it a third time, and
they would give me second chances and third chances. They never gave up on
me. And so I didn`t give up on myself.

I told these young men my story then, and I repeat it now because I firmly
believe that every child deserves the same chances that I have. This is an
issue of national importance. It`s as important as any issue that I work
on. It`s an issue that goes to the very heart of why I ran for president.
Because if America stands for anything, it stands for the idea of
opportunity for everybody. The notion that no matter who you are or where
you came from or the circumstances in which you are born, if you work hard,
if you take responsibility, then you can make it in this country. That`s
the core idea.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: This is of national importance, because only 52 percent of black
males graduate from high school on time. Because 49 percent of young black
males have been arrested. By the time they`re 23. Because there is a 38
percent unemployment rate among black teens. That`s why this initiative
matters for all of us.

Joining me now from the White House briefing room is Valerie Jarrett, White
House senior adviser and assistant to President Obama.

Valerie, welcome back to the show.

VALERIE JARRETT, WHITE HOUSE SENIOR ADVISER AND ASSISTANT TO PRESIDENT
OBAMA: Thank you, Reverend Sharpton. It`s always a pleasure to be with
you, particularly on a day as important as today.

SHARPTON: Well, it was an important day, and you were there front row
today and have worked on this. And you know the president was speaking
from his heart. He was clearly very passionate about this.

JARRETT: He was. And, you know, he was standing in front of those young
men, many who he had met before when he was in Chicago and who he had
invited to the White House previously last year to celebrate father`s day
with him. And so there is a very special bond. And as he said, and as you
just said, he isn`t that different than they were when he was their age.
And he just wants to make sure that every child in our country, regardless
of the zip code where you were born has that opportunity to reach for that
American dream.

And he called on us all collectively to assume our responsibilities for
them. Because it is a national issue. This isn`t an issue that just
affects those boys. Those boys are the workforce of tomorrow. And we owe
them a duty to make sure that they can thrive and grow and learn and
achieve their dreams. So it was a very special moment. And just keep in
mind, this is launching the initiative. We still have a lot of hard work
ahead. But we know what works. And we have the opportunity to take what
works to scale.

SHARPTON: Now, he talked about how young minority men of color affected
the economy, how it was good for the whole country. And he talked in very
personal terms. As I sat down, watched the young men on the stage, I
thought about my own growing up from a single parent home. And I was
really touched how personal he got. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: 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.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: I mean, being that open and that honest, as only he can as
president, has got to give this initiative that it`s going to be driven
towards concrete programs he said with measurable results. But it gives it
the edge because he can communicate something that I don`t think anyone who
has reached a presidency can.

JARRETT: Well, you know what? When he met with the boys a year ago in
Chicago at high park high school and he told that story, one of the boys
said are you talking about yourself? And he couldn`t believe that the
president of the United States had actually had those same experiences that
he had probably had. And I think it`s such an important message to them,
because what it demonstrates is if you decide that you`re going to work
hard and act responsibly and play by the rules, and you have a safety net
around you that will allow you to have the support that you need, that you
can reach your dreams. You can be the president of the United States.

And so, I think you`re right. He is the best messenger for this. But he
also called on everybody. Every community, business leaders, faith
leaders, the foundations who are putting up an enormous amount of money.
They have already put up $150 million. And now they`re prepared to invest
another 200 million. That`s just the foundations. The private sector can
play an enormous role here. It`s interesting. When we had the meeting
before the president`s remarks, magic Johnson said that he took some young
men to all state, rather than having the officials from all state go to
their school. And he let them see the business. And on the bus on the way
home from visiting this beautiful office, the young people were talking
about I`d like to work in an office like that. I think I could make a
difference there. I met some people there who look like me.

And so it doesn`t take that much to inspire these young people. And you
also heard him mention the young gentleman who work here is in the White
House, Mo. And what Mo said to me yesterday was that children will reach
the expectations that are set for them. And I think that`s a very powerful
message.

SHARPTON: I want to also make it clear, because I know there will always
with the lit ticks of the president. He made it clear, one, that there is
not a government program. He is raising this with foundations and private
sector and asking for everyone to cooperate. And secondly, he was
challenging the young men to no excuses, that he said all that we do,
you`ve got to stand up and make something out of yourselves.

JARRETT: Exactly. And it`s not, as he said, quoting Martin Luther King,
it`s not either or, it`s both/and. Government should do what kit do
smartly. It doesn`t needed to show resources but we could do a better job
of coordinating our efforts and showcases what works and creating
incentives for folks all around the country to expand these programs that
do work. So we should do our job well. But it isn`t just ours alone. And
that, you know, parents need to parent. You need to read to your children.
Fathers need to show up and be engaged in their lives, particularly the
lives of their sons. Those boys need a positive role mold. And if they
don`t need a father, maybe they have an uncle or a cousin or a black club
leader or spiritual leader or a mentor that they`ve just met through one of
these businesses who offer them that summer job that transforms their life.

So everybody, Reverend Sharpton, has a role to play. Everybody should get
involved. This is a national problem, and the status quo is unacceptable.
The president has said this is going to be a year of action. He is going
to use his pen and he is going to use his telephone. And for this
initiative, he is using both. And he is calling on everyone to get
involved because we know what works. We know what works. We saw those
amazing young men today who have turned their lives around. And all around
the country, that`s possible if we just stay committed and stay focused.
And remember that we are our brother`s keeper.

SHARPTON: White House senior adviser Valerie Jarrett. Thanks for coming
on the show tonight.

JARRETT: My pleasure, Reverend.

SHARPTON: Still ahead, why did the jury find George Zimmerman not guilty?
A provocative book is out with new details about what happened inside that
jury room.

Also, congratulations, Darrell Issa. You`re back in tonight`s got you.

Plus, the groundbreaking show that is rewriting the rules of drama on TV.
Can you handle "scandal"? That`s ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: Republicans in Congress have spent months trying to gin up a
scandal around the IRS. They`re convinced there is a scandal with the IRS
targeting conservative groups, even though it targeted liberal groups the
same way.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. DARRELL ISSA (R), CHAIRMAN, HOUSE OVERSIGHT COMMITTEE: The
committee`s investigation into the IRS` inappropriate treatment of groups
applying for tax exempt status.

REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: We`re also continuing to
investigate the IRS for its abuse of power.

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MINORITY LEADER: The IRS scandal helps
explain a lot of the things the administration has done.

REP. PAUL RYAN (R), HOUSE BUDGET COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: That is not a phony
scandal. That is a real scandal.

ISSA: We believe the IRS hoped this would make the scandal quickly
dissipate. It did not.

SEN. TED CRUZ (R), TEXAS: Last night in the state of the union address, the
president did not so much as mention the words IRS.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: All IRS all the time. There have been 15 congressional
hearings, and 255 IRS employees have spent 97,542 hours responding to
congressional investigations. And all of those investigations have turned
up nothing. No wrongdoing. So what is the price tag on the investigation
of a phony scandal like this? $14 million. And that`s a conservative
estimate.

Did all these Republicans think we wouldn`t notice this is costing millions
of dollars, but makes no sense? Nice try, but we got you.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: State of Florida versus George Zimmerman verdict, we
the jury find George Zimmerman not guilty. So say we all.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: The verdict in a Florida courtroom that stunned millions of
Americans across the country. 17-year-old Trayvon Martin was shot and
killed by George Zimmerman two years ago this week. Zimmerman claims self-
defense and was acquitted on second degree murder in July. Days later
Trayvon`s parents came on this show to express their shock.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRACEY MARTIN, TRAYVON MARTIN`S FATHER: I broke down, because I was in
disbelief. I just didn`t -- I couldn`t understand why the jury came back
with the verdict that they did.

SYBRINA FULTON, TRAYVON MARTI`S MOTHER: When the verdict came, it just
seemed like wow, you can get away with murder.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Two years later, a new book is raising some provocative
questions about the trial. And about race and justice in America. It`s
called "suspicion nation: the inside story of the Trayvon Martin injustice
and why we continue to repeat it." And the author, Lisa Bloom, is very
harsh on the prosecution. She writes, quote, "yes, the prosecution blew
it. The overlooked evidence, lack of witness preparation, and poor
strategic choices made by the state`s attorneys were nothing short of
astonishing."

Joining me now is Lisa Bloom, a legal analyst for the "Today" show and
avo.com. She is also a frequent guest on this show during and after the
Zimmerman trial.

Thank you for being here, Lisa.

LISA BLOOM, TODAY SHOW LEGAL ANALYST: Thank you, reverend.

SHARPTON: In your book, you highlight this photo. George Zimmerman
showing police where his gun was holstered the night of the shooting. Why
did you say this is an example of how the prosecution dropped the ball in
the trial?

BLOOM: Because this should have been one of the most important pieces of
evidence in the case. This is what the prosecution should have started
with. This is what they should have ended with. This is what they should
have shown witnesses on cross-examination. This is what they should have
called an expert witness to talk about.

Because George Zimmerman showed in that photo and two other times on a
videotape that his gun was holstered behind him. He claims that he was
lying on his back, Trayvon atop him when Trayvon saw the gun, reached for
the gun and threatened to kill him. That`s physically impossible if the
gun is holstered behind you and you`re lying on your back.

The prosecution was blind to this piece of evidence. And that was really
my eye-opener, my wow moment when I was covering the trial every day on
your show, Reverend Al. I thought if they`re missing this, what else are
they missing? So when this case was over, you know, I thought I was done.
I thought I would move on to the next case. But it really disturbed me.
And I had to go back and conduct new witnesses, talk what happened in the
jury room, talk about what didn`t happen in the case that we weren`t
seeing. I thought that was the big story. And that`s what I reveal in my
book.

SHARPTON: Now juror B-29, only known only as Maddy was the only minority
on the six-person all women jury. A couple of months after the verdict,
here`s what she told you. Here`s what she said to me.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MADDY, GEORGE ZIMMERMAN MURDER TRIAL JUROR: But justice to know that in my
heart, you know, you feel that a person is guilty. But when it comes out
to the law, they give you so much that you can work with, you know, it
makes me feel worse the more I hear about George Zimmerman.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Now, that`s what she told me. But what she told you that was
truly stunning of what was going on in the jury room, one juror, quote,
"knew more than we knew." From pretrial publicity, she knew from pretrial
publicity that Trayvon Martin quote was a bad kid." The juror also knew
that Trayvon was quote "intentionally behind Zimmerman, that he knew he was
going to hit him, and that he planned his own death."

Lisa, none of these points were mentioned during the trial. How did this
make into it the deliberations?

BLOOM: It`s really sickening. And it`s really disturbing, Reverend Al. I
opened the book with Maddy`s story. I spent a considerable amount of time
with her. She and I are really friends now. She and I have a been texting
the last couple of days. She cannot get over this case because she feels
that the weight of Trayvon Martin`s death is on her shoulders. And when
she tells the story of what went on not only during deliberations, but
during the three weeks of sequestration, I was shocked. I mean, I think it
raises serious questions about whether about whether racial profiling was
going on in the jury room. How cruel the five white women were on that
jury to Maddy, how they demeaned her, how they mocked the way she spoke.
How she was treated differently inside the jury room. And it was a real
microcosm to me of what this case was about. You know, I think there was
racial profiling --

SHARPTON: Give me an example. I mean, what do you mean mocked her and
treated her -- isolated her and treated her differently? Did she give you
examples?

BLOOM: Yes, yes. And I have the examples in the book. For example, she
referred to ramen noodles as roman noodles. They all laughed at her. They
made fun. Maddy, you don`t know how to talk. One of them was allowed to
bring her dog in for nine hours on a weekend because she was lonely. Maddy
wanted to bring in her 3-month-old infant, and she was denied that on the
ground that supposedly the child could talk.

SHARPTON: Wow.

BLOOM: There was a deputy stationed outside of Maddy`s hotel door. She
thought is that just a coincidence, or is it because I`m the only nonwhite
juror? The same kinds of questions that people of color have to ask all
the time when they`re followed and asked by law enforcement.

SHARPTON: There was a deputy outside her door, but there wasn`t outside of
the other jurors` doors?

BLOOM: Correct. That`s right.

SHARPTON: Wow. I mean, you write a lot about race in this trial. That at
the root of this entire case is, quote, "unspoken fear that African-
Americans are criminal, that fear is often armed, locked, and loaded. And
so the body count continues to rise in an atmosphere of lawlessness."

Was race a part of this trial whether the prosecution wanted it to be or
not, Lisa?

BLOOM: There is no question about it. The defense is the one that brought
race into the case, comparing Trayvon Martin to a couple of African-
American burglars that he had absolutely no connection to, except for
shared skin color.

You know, I was driven to write this book, reverend al. I had to expose
what went on in that courtroom and what we didn`t see the first time
around, because I feel this is an iconic case. I feel the story had to be
told. But it`s bigger even than just the Trayvon Martin case. We see it
again in the Jordan Davis shooting, Renisha McBride, and all of the other
young people who are unarmed, who are considered suspicious in this
country. It`s got to stop. And I felt that the least I could do would be
to expose it in my book.

SHARPTON: Lisa Bloom, thank you w for your time tonight.

BLOOM: Thank you, Reverend.

SHARPTON: And again, the book is called "suspicion nation."

Coming up, what President Obama said today about me and Bill O`Reilly. It
has people talking.

But first, the "Scandal" phenomenon. It`s a smash hit. It`s
groundbreaking, and it`s back tonight. Two super fans who I`m sure you
know, join me next.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If you want me, earn me. Until then we are done.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: Got a problem in Washington? Call Olivia Pope. That`s the
premise of ABC`s hit show "scandal," which is back tonight after its winter
break. Kerry Washington plays Olivia Pope, a D.C. fixer who spends her
days keeping politicians` scandal out of the headlines.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If you get subpoenaed in front of a grand jury, you
can testify as an officer of the court that I was working on my own. I
didn`t blackmail or threaten her. If you don`t get subpoenaed, this never
happened.

It`s handled.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: No matter the problem is handled. The show`s a rating success
and a groundbreaking series as Washington is the first black woman to lead
a TV drama in almost 40 years. But the show`s also a social media
phenomenon. When "scandal" is on, twitter is taken over by its fans. The
show`s cast and creator live tweet the show. Joining a conversation of
thousands, including celebrity fans like Mary j. Blige, Jessica Simpson,
and Mariah Carey.

In November, Kerry tweeted shock and awe. Just woke up and watched
"scandal." Floored, and probably won`t recover for years. She is not the
only one floored with scenes like this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She told you there was a problem in the plan, but it
was a lie. There never was a bomb, was there? She got you to kill
hundreds of people, all for nothing. She fooled you like she fooled me.
Didn`t she? Dad? Didn`t she?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: More than nine million people watched that episode. But it also
got more than 420,000 tweets, nearly four times more than any other
regularly scheduled show that week.

Joining me now are two "scandal" fanatics, and prolific "scandal" tweeters.
Joy Reid and Angela Rye.

Thank you both for being here.

JOY REID, MANAGING EDITOR, THE GRIO/MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Thanks, Rev.

ANGELA RYE, POLITICAL STRATEGIST: Thank you.

SHARPTON: And Joy, congratulations on the new show.

REID: Thank you, Rev. Appreciate it. Thanks.

SHARPTON: Now Joy, there were more than 400,000 tweets sent out about
"scandal`s" last episode. How many were yours? About half, right?

REID: About half. I mean, listen. A lot of times when "scandal" is on, I
am not in the active tweeting involvement in it because a lot of the times
I`m here, I`m on the "Last Word" a lot on Thursday nights. So, I`m one of
the people who is a lot of times is catching it on DVR. But it is
fascinating to see how scandal has mobilized twitter, both to get people to
watch. One of the reasons I started watching it is because it did take
over my entire twitter timeline, force me to go and binge watch all of the
early episodes and catch up. And now I am absolutely addicted to it. But
they actually took twitter and turned a show that was in some ratings
trouble in the first season and turned it into a bona fide hit by actually
turning into it appointment television. And that is very smart, and it`s
something that Sean Derhymes and her team are to be commended for.

SHARPTON: Angela, what sets "scandal" apart? Why is there such a big
online conversation?

RYE: I think there is a big online conversation, Rev, because African-
Americans and people of color generally, particularly those in the
demographic that watch this show over index on social media period. So
we`re actively watching and engaging with the #scandal all evening long.
Even afterwards there is an after show conversation that happens. So, it
is absolutely is engagement at the highest level. It`s like you`re
tweeting during commercial breaks, during the show. OMG, did that just
happen? All of that is going on. And it absolutely, to Joy`s point, is
the reason why "scandal" is a tremendous success. I know the cast live
tweets. But sometimes the celebrities and the other folks who you follow
make the show exactly what it is, the side conversation is the best.

SHARPTON: That`s interesting, joy. Because I tweet for another first
black woman on TV, Tamron Hall on the "today" show.

REID: Amen.

RYE: All right.

SHARPTON: But anyway, this show has so many twists and turns. I want to
play the last scene from the last episode. Olivia`s mother has
disappeared, and then this happens.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is Olivia Pope.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hi Livy.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Where are you?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I know you must be angry with me.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Where are you, mom?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I just wanted to hear your voice.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Tell me where you are.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Don`t worry, sweetheart. I`ll see you real soon.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: How did twitter react to that, Joy?

REID: It was half OMG, Olivia Pope`s mom. And the other half was now we
understand where Olivia Pope got her coat game. Because both Olivia and
her mom have the baddest wardrobes on TV.

RYE: Ever.

REID: Period.

SHARPTON: You know, Kerry Washington really has groundbreaking role there.
Hadn`t been an African-American female lead of a drama since 1974. She
talked about that with Oprah. Let`s listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I didn`t know -- I knew that I had never seen this
before, but I didn`t know that it would actually be this --

OPRAH WINFREY, TV HOST: The first time.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, yes.

WINFREY: But now you don`t feel like you to take on the role of the black
woman because the truth is she is a fully realized woman. She is not just
in this role because she is African-American, right?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. She kind of represents a new moment for me,
because I feel like for a long time --

WINFREY: A new moment for our culture.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Do you agree? Does she represent a new moment for our culture,
Angela?

RYE: Well, Rev, I believe that it`s opening the door, right? We still
aren`t where we need to be on dramas, on prime time TV. And I think that
it`s definitely opening a door. I know that people, just like they talk
about the president, it`s post racial, but it`s really not. Even with
Kerry Washington`s lines in one of the episodes with her affair with fits,
she calls herself Sally Hemmings, and it`s something I was seeing a lot on
twitter. So we`re really not post racial. But I do think it`s a great way
to open up the door for more folks to get opportunities.

We`re also seeing more shows like being Mary Jane on Bet, which is not on
the same level in terms of viewership, but again, it`s create mortgage
opportunities for African-American actresses.

SHARPTON: But she mentioned something there, Joy. A lot of scandal is
really dark. But the real first lady says she is a fan. Why does
"scandal" -- I mean, what does it get right about Washington? Let me ask
you that?

REID: Well, hopefully not a lot.

RYE: Right.

REID: Because there is a lot of jeopardy going on. And you know, even
when Kerry Washington first took the role, she did point out, you know, she
wouldn`t have taken the role had the president been cast as an African-
American, because she didn`t want to it have any of that sort of realism
that it was related to the real Washington. But because her character,
Olivia Pope is based on a real person, a real woman who is a top fixer on
the GOP side of the ledger in Washington, and has done real big-time work
in terms of this kind of consulting, that does give it a slight bit of
realism. But really, it is an idealized and much more high fashion and fly
version of Washington than I think is really real, except for Angela Rye.
Except for Angela Rye.

SHARPTON: I have one last big question for you, Angela, before I go. It`s
a big one, now.

RYE: OK.

SHARPTON: Team Fits or team Jake?

RYE: Team neither, Rev. We don`t do affairs and we don`t dole illegal
activity. Team neither.

SHARPTON: Joy Reid and Angela Rye, thank you both for your time tonight.

RYE: Thanks, Rev.

SHARPTON: And be sure to watch Joy on "the Reid report," weekdays at 2:00
p.m. eastern right here on MSNBC. And by the way, Kerry, if you`re
watching, you are welcome any time on "Politics Nation." We`d love to have
you join us.

The president mentioned Bill O`Reilly and myself at an event at the White
House today. I`ll tell you why, ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: Lots of folks are talking about what President Obama said about
me and Bill O`Reilly today. You`ll want to stay tuned.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: Finally tonight, putting differences aside for the cause. As I
mentioned earlier in the show, the president announced his new initiative
to empower minority men. Today it was an event that the president
referenced Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: Yes, we need to encourage fathers to stick around and remove the
barriers to marriage, and talk openly about things like responsibility and
faith and community. In the words of Dr. King, it is not either or, it is
both/and.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: It is not either/or, it is both. It was an event where the
parents of Trayvon Martin and Jordan Davis were in attendance. This was
not a partisan event, nonprofit groups, business leaders, and civil rights
leaders. And Bill O`Reilly was there. The president mentioned both of us.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: If I can persuade, you know, Sharpton and O`Reilly to be in the
same meeting --

(LAUGHTER)

OBAMA: Then it means that there are people of good faith who want to get
some stuff done, even if we don`t agree on everything and that`s our focus.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: I sat there with the parents of Jordan Davis and Trayvon Martin
thinking of their pain. We sat in front of John Lewis, who had been beaten
to open up America. But then I thought about the pain of many parents who
are the parents of children victimized by gun violence in communities,
parents whose schools don`t function well for them and whose communities
are crumbling. And the initiative the president is doing is not against
the injustices that we fight for the Trayvons, but the injustices inside,
some of which we won`t stand up and challenge and give excuses ourselves.
And I thought about if it wasn`t for bishop F.D. Washington and Reverend
Bill Jones, who mentored me when I had no father, and a mother that
believed in me, that I wouldn`t have been sitting in the White House today
as a head of a civil rights group. That`s more important to me than any
differences I may have.

Yes, Bill O`Reilly and I have differences, and we will continue to. But I
think what is more important to me is not who I differ with, but who I can
stand up for and stand up with. We must help young men in the community,
because I`m one of them young men that got help. And we owe it to work
with the president to do this.

Mr. O`Reilly and others can be there not, but I will be there if I have to
be there by myself. Thanks for watching. I`m Al Sharpton. "HARDBALL"
starts now.

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

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