March 26, 2014
Guests: Daniel Rose, Joel Achenbach, Michael Pangia, David Brock
CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: Can we find the black box?
Let`s play HARDBALL.
Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Washington.
"Let Me Start" tonight with the spotting by a French satellite of 122
objects in the south Indian Ocean. In the two-and-a-half week search for
flight 370, this is being called the best bet, the best chance so far to
answer with finality the course and ultimate crash site of the disappeared
Could this lead searchers to the so-called black box, the aircraft`s final
store of memory, telling us, as only it now can, the final life of flight
Tom Costello`s an NBC News correspondent and Daniel Rose is an aviation
expert. Tom, it was great to have you on last night. Let`s follow up
tonight. What do you make of the 122 objects spotted by the French
TOM COSTELLO, NBC CORRESPONDENT: It`s the best they`ve got. We`re in day
19 now of this missing aircraft. And these are the images. Now, to the
untrained eye, like you and me, this looks very, very difficult to discern
what we`re talking about here, white specks. But look, it is through the
cloud cover. So they have now identified, as you mentioned, 122 different
pieces. And the biggest one, they believe, is about 75 feet long.
Now, you may recall that a couple of days ago, or last week, we had the
satellite images from China and also from Australia suggesting they saw a
big piece about 75 feet long. So there`s some consistency here. And we`re
in the general area.
This is an important number to remember. We`re at 90 degrees or so
longitude, we`re at 44 degrees east on the latitude. Why is that
important? Those are the same general coordinates that we`ve had debris
sightings via satellite for the last week or so. And so now these assets
are moving into this region, ship assets and air assets now trying to spot
with their eyes what we`ve seen on the satellite.
But this is not easy because those images were taken on Sunday, and since
Sunday, we`ve had a cyclone move through here with waves up to 30, 50 feet.
We`ve had extremely high wings. It`s churned up and turned up all of this
water. And so now the search teams are moving back out into very, very
rough water, indeed, whitecaps.
And the other thing to keep in mind here is that this new smaller search
zone, which is within the big one, right -- the smaller search zone they`re
concentrating on now is about the size of Denver. So imagine flying over
all of Denver, the metroplex, and trying to keep an eye out for 122 small
floating pieces, or something that may be about the size of a shed`s roof.
It`s a huge challenge, Chris.
MATTHEWS: Well, let me ask you, Tom -- again, I`m not an expert, and you
are, much more than I am in this regard. Do we know what else floats in
the ocean? In other words, when you said 122 objects, that does sort of
compel us to think this must be it, especially since it`s in that very
targeted area where the fuel ran out and where the British experts came out
the other day, according to the Malaysian prime minister, and said this is
where it ended up. So we`ve got a lot of coincidence here of the
geography, the fuel running out and the pings giving out, and now the
Could it be something else that`s floating in the ocean besides the plane?
COSTELLO: Absolutely, it could be. But here`s why they`re optimistic
about this, because we have clusters here. And the clusters suggest a
debris field. And that`s what they`ve been hoping for, that they would
find something that is clustered together to suggest that thee`s more than
just a piece or two because, as you suggest, there is so much garbage and
trash floating throughout this entire area.
Something else interesting. You remember I gave you the latitude and the
longitude, 90 by 44.
COSTELLO: This area in here is called the "roaring 40s." Why? 44
degrees, as I mentioned on the latitude, and it is incredibly turbulent and
it feeds into the southern ocean, which then circles the entire globe. And
it`s entirely possible, say the experts, that something can flow through
this, get caught up in that current, and it would go around and around and
around the globe and never hit land. If it hit any land, maybe Peru.
So we are in this situation where we talk about the -- you know, we`re
losing time here because the pingers on the battery -- pardon me -- the
batteries on the pingers are about to die within about a week or so. They
want to find the black boxes, but they also don`t want to lose the debris
from being pulled into another ocean and literally around the world.
And one last point that`s important, Chris. Winter is fast approaching.
Already, the days are getting shorter. That means the ocean`s going to get
rougher. They had one good day today of searching. It`s going to get bad
for the next days yet again.
MATTHEWS: So winter`s coming in the southern hemisphere. I guess the
question I want to ask why I still have you -- Tom, what do we have in
terms of the ability of us to get to the black box? What is our -- is it
American assets? Whose assets can actually go find that little box in
orange right there to the right?
COSTELLO: So the Americans have great expertise with dropping these
submersible robots, if you will, to kind of do a lawn mower action along
the bottom of the ocean. We`ve also got this -- this -- essentially, it`s
a pinger locator. You pull it behind a ship, and it is listening for the
pinger. However, you`ve literally got to be on top of this black box.
You`ve got to be on top of it to hear the pinger. And it`s going to be
distorted by the different thermal layers in the ocean. You know, we`ve
got a lot of cold layers, and they have different layers there in the
ocean. So that distorts the signal.
This is a huge challenge. And they make the point, again, if we`re talking
about the size of Denver, you can`t run a pinger locater over the entire
metroplex of Denver, listening for pinger. You`re never going to hear it.
Talk about a needle in the haystack, they don`t even have the haystack yet.
So then the same thing with the submersibles. They need to try to isolate
as best they can exactly the area that they need to focus on and then bring
in the submersibles and then bring in the pinger locator.
MATTHEWS: While we have you again, let`s get back to the pilot how. The
House Budge -- or rather, the FBI director, James Comey, has been analyzing
that simulator that we`ve been talking about for the last two-and-a-half
weeks. What are we going to learn from that simulator and the deletions
from it, do you think, from the FBI, which is the expertise here?
COSTELLO: Yes, so the FBI is assisting the Malaysians on doing this
forensic analysis on the computer hard drives that were associated with the
pilot and the co-pilot, and also the simulator. Some files were deleted.
That may have been normal housekeeping, or something more nefarious. We
don`t know. But they`re hoping to learn more about what either one of them
may have been planning, if anything. Did they take out an insurance
policy, any e-mails, did they practice flying someplace in that simulator
that took them off the end of the world?
They are looking for anything and everything because, at this point,
they`ve got nothing --
COSTELLO: -- nothing to suggest that there`s anything in these two guys`
background that would lead them to fly this plane to the bottom of the
MATTHEWS: Making that point, here`s the head of the FBI, James Comey.
Today he told the Congress the bureau -- that`s the FBI`s -- analysis of
the pilots` home computers, the flight simulators, could be completed very
soon. Here he is testifying.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAMES COMEY, FBI DIRECTOR: I have teams working literally around the clock
to try and exploit that. I don`t want to say more about that in an open
setting, but I expect it to be done fairly shortly, within a day or two, to
finish that work.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Tom Costello, hold on there. Let`s bring in Daniel Rose, who`s
an aviation safety expert. Daniel, thanks for joining us, as well, with --
what do you have -- what`s your thinking when you listen to Tom Costello`s
report there? Where are we at in terms of what you think happened here?
DANIEL ROSE, AVIATION EXPERT: Well, I don`t know -- well, I think Tom
brings up some very good points about the wreckage field, if it ends up
being the debris field, being a very strong fact in this investigation. If
nothing else, it tells us, you know, tragically, that there likely weren`t
But you know, it`s still a big if. I mean, we`ve been, you know, inundated
with facts for over two weeks now, and almost three weeks, where some of
them have been proven to be inaccurate, and we`ve been looking at satellite
images for the better part of two weeks now that really haven`t come to
fruition in terms of validating that that`s actually the aircraft wreckage.
And even once we have that -- and hopefully, we will soon -- we still need
to go back and backtrack to figure out where that aircraft impacted the
water because that debris field, if that`s what it is, floated and moved a
great distance in the last two weeks. So we still have a lot of work ahead
MATTHEWS: Well, Philip Wood`s mother gave a rather emotional interview
today. He`s, of course, one of the victims of this flight disaster. Here
it is. Sondra Wood, the mother of one of the American victims, Philip
Wood, as I said -- she spoke with NBC -- our affiliate KXAS in Dallas about
the same (sic) time she saw him -- the last time she saw him, she describes
it, and also the horrible thoughts -- and we can all imagine this as
parents -- of what his last moments were like on that plane.
Let`s listen to the mother.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SONDRA WOOD, PHILIP WOOD`S MOTHER: Don`t ever forget to hold close the
people you love. I certainly -- God gave me that opportunity that last
week with Philip.
I guess the greatest fear of a mother is -- and I can`t let my mind go
there too much -- is what happened on the plane.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, Tom, that`s where we go back again, you and I, trying to
figure out what those seven hours were like, if they were hours of just
zombie flying, if you will, to use a crude term, where everyone was dead,
or whether there was life activity on that plane or whether some sort of
human involvement in the decision to change that course so radically from
where it was supposed to go to Beijing.
COSTELLO: Yes. Yes. So forget about cockpit, right? We really don`t
know what happened in the cockpit. And we don`t know what happened in the
passenger cabin. But let`s assume that the passengers were not aware that
anything was. And as they -- many of them, you know, fall asleep on the
way to Beijing. And then they`re supposed to land at about 6:15, 6:30 in
the morning, and they`re not landing. And they look out the window and
they`re still over ocean. At a certain point, you wonder if they weren`t
getting concerned about the fact that this plane is going on and on and on
over the ocean.
And now it`s 8:00 o`clock and 8:15 in the morning. We know that the last
transmission from this plane was at about 8:15 or 8:19 in the morning,
something like that. We don`t know when exactly this plane went down, but
it was sometime between, they believe, 8:11 AM and 9:15 AM.
And one more important point. I`ve asked many experts on this, is it
possible anybody could have survived a crash if, in fact, they came in at
300 miles per hour or so, or even 400 to 500 miles per hour, based on the
cruising altitude, based on their autopilot? Almost every expert says no,
you would not survive. This plane would have immediately disintegrated
into a million pieces, and nobody would have survived impact, let alone
sitting out there on the south Indian Ocean.
MATTHEWS: Well, you can just imagine what Philip Wood`s mother is thinking
about those possibilities. They`re all horrific.
Thank you, Tom Costello. You`re the best. And thank you, Daniel Rose.
Coming up, more on the search for the black box. That`s coming up here.
They may be lost. Best hope to know what really happened, however, is that
black box. But as Tom Costello just told us, time is running out on those
pings, only a few more days of them.
Also, blinded by the right. He was dedicated to bringing down Bill
Clinton. Well, today, David Brock, the former self-professed hit man, has
turned his energies to helping elect Hillary Clinton president. David
Brock`s going to join us.
And look who`s talking. I can`t believe this. Donald Rumsfeld, the
architect of the worst foreign policy disaster since Vietnam, is
criticizing President Obama on Afghanistan. Go back to bed, Donald!
Meanwhile, what`s the best way to prove you`re out of touch with your home
state? Well, if you watch Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, it`s posting a
campaign video featuring the hated Duke Blue Devils instead of the
University of Kansas -- of Kennedy -- UK. Instead of UK, he`s got Duke.
Big mistake for Mitch -- the home team.
This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: Well, a new study from the University of Minnesota`s
SmartPolitics Web site crunched the numbers to find what states are most
hospitable to female congressional candidates -- women. And the results
are going to surprise you. Topping the list, Wyoming, the state that has
elected a woman to its lone House seat in 10 of the last 13 elections,
since 1989. And the state better known for Dick Cheney and the cowboys out
there elected the country`s first female governor back in 1925. Hardest
state to be a woman running for Congress, Louisiana. In 88 (ph) House
elections since 1989, no woman has won, even though the state is
represented in the Senate by Mary Landrieu.
We`ll be right back.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. The search for answers in the
southern Indian Ocean continued today with a dozen aircraft from six
different countries scouring the waters for signs of the missing Malaysian
jet. Well, the goal is finding the plane`s black box, of course, perhaps
our best hope for finding what actually happened on March 8th.
But time, of course, we`re hearing, is running out. Battery life on the
box only lasts about 30 days. So within another week or two, our chances
of finding it will be greatly diminished, no more pings. With that in
mind, the U.S. military sent over special equipment today designed to
detect the pings of the black box from up to about 20,000 feet. This is
And as Scott Madrey (ph), the expert -- satellite expert at the
International Space University in France, told "The Washington Post" today,
quote, "This is really uncharted territory. Usually, you have plenty of
data," he said, "to work with, black boxes, voice recorders, and lots of
satellite telemetry. Everyone is working pretty much in the blind right
Well, Joel Achenbach wrote that article about -- for "The Washington Post"
today. He joins us now. And Michael Pangia is an aviation expert, pilot
Joel, thanks so much for joining us. I love people that can learn things
quickly and put them together in simple, basic, understandable English.
You know, all hopes lie with this black box. Where should they lie? Is it
a reasonable bet that in- -a needle in a haystack is nothing compared to
the south Indian Ocean. It`s called the "roaring 40s." The ocean is
turbulent. The waves are high. It`s getting cold. Winter is coming on in
What are our hopes?
JOEL ACHENBACH, "THE WASHINGTON POST": Well, this is a very daunting
search. And as far as the likelihood, will they actually find this plane -
- this is a challenge. This is more like a needle in a hayfield, or
actually many hayfields.
The story we wrote today made the point that although they have the
corridor, the southern corridor, where they think the plane flew, depending
on the speed of the plane, you get very large differences in the outcomes
of those calculations, hundreds of miles of difference.
So I heard today that the search area, that broad search area is really
like the size of Alaska. So you`ve got these autonomous vehicles down
there that go under the water and can listen for the ping, but they only
can hear it, you know, a mile or two in either direction. So someone said
it`s like mowing the entire state of Alaska with a -- you know, a tractor
that`s a mile wide, but it only goes about three miles an hour. So it`s
going to be a very slow and arduous search, and I think they`re going to
have to get lucky.
MATTHEWS: Yes, I remember Robert Ballard, the great explorer who
discovered the Titanic, you know, PT-109, and the Enterprise, the aircraft
carrier. And he pointed out that you`ve got to get maps to get even close
enough for the electronic stuff to work. You got to get pretty darn -- as
you say, what, a mile away for the electronics to work, for the pinging to
be able to get picked up?
ACHENBACH: Yes, I mean, this -- this is -- if they can narrow the search
area a little bit, that`d be a great boost for this search. Right now,
they`ve looked at the satellite data. Really, it`s just this Doppler shift
in the frequency of the pings coming back from the plane. No one`s ever
found a plane or any vessel like this before. It gives you a general
direction that it flew in. If they can somehow refine that analysis and so
they can say, Well, no, it`s not the size of Alaska, it`s more the size of
New Jersey, if they can do something like that --
ACHENBACH: -- then you`d have a better chance of finding it. The other
issue, of course, is the debris. If you find the plane debris on the
surface -- and we have heard reports of debris, but we don`t know if it`s
connected at all to this case. If you do find the debris, you can probably
get some sense of how the currents may have taken that debris from where
the plane actually went down.
MATTHEWS: Michael Pangia, let me ask you a primitive question. Why don`t
they make the black box floatable? Why isn`t there something -- these
planes go down. That is why we are looking for the black box. They go
down in the water. That`s why it`s hard to find them. If they went down
on land, we would find them. But the only reason to have black box over
water, which is most of the face of the Earth, is -- is going to be way
down in the bottom of the ocean, unless you put some sort of floater on it.
Why don`t they make it so it can float to the surface?
Or is that impossible? Because everything else is floating down there.
MATTHEWS: Your thoughts.
MICHAEL PANGIA, AVIATION ATTORNEY AND SAFETY SPECIALIST: That might be a
good idea, some type of an ejection system that ejects that black box.
The black box, which is really an orange box -- it`s really painted orange
-- and so people know, it contains all of the parameters of the plane
function, the health of the engines, the pressurization, the control
inputs, hundreds of data about the health of the airplane.
MATTHEWS: Where is it on the plane? Where is it?
PANGIA: It is in the back.
MATTHEWS: In the back.
PANGIA: It`s right in the back in the tail.
And they put it back there because the tail is the least likely place to
sustain an injury in any type of crash. So, they find that`s the best and
most protected place to put it. And they make the box as crash-worthy,
resistant as possible. And so it needs to be in a very, very safe, secure
And one of the things it contains, too, is the last 30 minutes of voice
transmissions between the crew that happened in the cockpit. That is
important as well.
MATTHEWS: Let me go back to Joel.
How good at -- we have been finding -- I will go back to you in a moment
too, Michael. Here`s the key question. What has been our track record of
finding black boxes or orange boxes in this case in situations of the deep
ocean, where you are talking two or three miles deep?
ACHENBACH: Well, you look at the Air France case, which is the closest
analogue to this one, it took them two years to find it. And it was an
incredibly challenging search.
But, in that case, unlike this one, they did have something to go on.
First of all, the Air France plane was transmitting some signals through
the automatic ACARS system when it was in distress and when it was going
This case is just so baffling because all of these different systems that
are supposed to make the plane visible in some way or link it to
civilization in some way, they all went down, as though they had been
intentionally turned off or through some catastrophe sequentially went on
And it`s -- it`s -- there has never been -- I talked to someone today who
does these investigations. And this is the greatest mystery ever in
MATTHEWS: What about this new ping, this partial handshake, where after
the -- for the last full ping, there was a partial ping or what is called a
partial handshake? There was some -- a little bit more information, Joel.
And then I will go to Michael on the same question.
MATTHEWS: What do you make of that latest half-ping?
ACHENBACH: So, every hour, when the ground station is getting no data from
the plane, it sends out a little ping, saying, are you there, and the plane
sends back a signal saying, yes, we are still logged on to the network.
There is no data going back and forth. But there is just the ping. We are
So, at 8:11 a.m. Malaysian time was the last full handshake, the last full
computer handshake. Then eight minutes later, there is some evidence for a
partial handshake. And I`m sorry to say that we have no explanation for
what that is, what it means. And that is something that we are pushing on
right now in our newsroom.
MATTHEWS: Michael, can you add to that? What`s that tell you?
PANGIA: I think Joel expresses it very, very well.
It took two years to find the Air France black box, and we knew where Air
France went. And that water where Air France crashed is shallow in
comparison to this water. This is three times as deep. So finding that --
well, first of all, we don`t know if that debris is connected with the
aircraft. If we do, it`s going to put it within thousands of square miles.
And then the only way to get down there is with robotic searches. And
robotics only move about one knot, which is about 1.15 miles per hour,
maybe one to two mile an hour, and they have thousands of miles to comb.
So -- and that is with the hope that the thing is still pinging, and that
is only going to be about another 10 days. They did have the Air France
black box after the pinging stopped.
But we knew pretty much where that plane went. That was easy in comparison
to this. There is a good chance this will never be found. We maintain our
hope, but there is a good chance it will never be found.
MATTHEWS: I`m with Tom -- Tom Costello of NBC looking at the imaginative
possibilities here, because I don`t think any of this has added up so far.
Thank you so much, Michael Pangia and Joel Achenbach. Great reporting for
"The Washington Post," as always.
And we will be right back after this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHARITHA PATTIARATCHI, OCEANOGRAPHER, UNIVERSITY OF WESTERN AUSTRALIA: The
debris has floated away. It`s -- now we predict they are 500 or 600
kilometers away from the crash site.
So, once they find the debris and identify it, we have to go back to where
the crash site would be to be able to search for the wreck site, which is
at the bottom of the ocean.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Back to HARDBALL and time for the "Sideshow."
Chris Christie hasn`t exactly kept a low profile since the bridge scandal
erupted over three months ago. And, recently, Jimmy Fallon noticed
something different about the Jersey governor, which he explained on "The
Tonight Show" last night.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "THE TONIGHT SHOW WITH JIMMY FALLON")
JIMMY FALLON, HOST, "THE TONIGHT SHOW WITH JIMMY FALLON": Well, now New
Jersey Governor Chris Christie has lost over 100 pounds since having lap
FALLON: It`s a pretty big loss for my monologue. Since we have made a lot
of fat jokes in the past, I thought it would be only fair to celebrate by
some making Chris Christie thin jokes.
FALLON: So, here we go.
Chris Christie has gotten so thin that when he stands on the George
Washington Bridge, now he only blocks one lane of traffic.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Next up in political news: Some unforced errors have befallen
three high-profile candidates for the U.S. Senate over the last 48 hours.
While it`s still early in the campaign season, the gaffes might prove
difficult to overcome down the road.
First is Republican Scott Brown, that smoothie, the former Massachusetts
senator who is close to running again, this time in neighboring New
Hampshire. As he should have anticipated, he is facing charges of
carpetbagging since he only moved to the state last December.
But when the Associated Press asked about his ability to represent the
people of New Hampshire, he gave this lackluster response -- quote -- "Do I
have the best credentials? Probably not, because, you know, whatever, but
I have long and strong ties to the state."
MATTHEWS: Well, here is an obvious tip for any candidate seeking office.
"Whatever" is never a good answer to a serious question.
Next is Democratic Congressman Bruce Braley, who is running for the open
U.S. Senate in Iowa. We showed you yesterday a video that surfaced from a
January fund-raiser that the Senate candidate held with trial lawyers in
Texas. The clip shows Braley disparaging incumbent veteran Chuck Grassley
as an Iowa farmer without a law degree.
Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. BRUCE BRALEY (D), IOWA: You might have a farmer from Iowa who never
went to law school, never practiced law serving as the next chair of the
Senate Judiciary Committee, because if Democrats lose the majority, Chuck
Grassley will be the next chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Not a smart move for a guy who wants to win in Iowa, the
country`s third most productive agricultural state. Don`t make fun of
Last on the list is Senator Mitch McConnell, who is facing a tough battle
for reelection in Kentucky. On Tuesday, that`s this week, his campaign
posted a video that was meant to show the University of Kentucky`s
basketball team, but mistakenly used a clip of Duke`s basketball team
instead. It`s only on screen for a second. But take a look at the freeze
Discerning basketball fans immediately noticed the irony of the error, that
McConnell had snubbed his own Wildcats, in favor of the hated Blue Devils.
Looks like McConnell is losing home court advantage.
Up next: David Brock was once dedicated to bringing down Bill Clinton.
Now he is working to get Hillary Clinton elected president. Brock joins us
And you are watching it, HARDBALL, the place for politics.
FRANCES RIVERA, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: I`m Frances Rivera. Here`s what`s
A flood warning is in effect for the area of Washington State where crews
are still searching for victims of this weekend`s mudslide. Sixteen people
are confirmed dead and eight more bodies have been found, but not yet
recovered. More than 100 are missing.
Firefighters are battling a nine-alarm blaze in Boston`s upscale Back Bay
neighborhood. Two firefighters were killed; 18 people have been taken to
And President Obama arrived earlier in Rome. He will be meeting with Pope
Francis tomorrow -- now back to HARDBALL.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
David Brock came to prominence as the right-wing enemy of Bill and Hillary
Clinton back in the 1990s. His sole purpose back then in life seemed to
be, destroy the Clintons. But he`s now a recovering right-winger, you
might say, an ally of both the Clintons.
Last night, he returned to Little Rock, Arkansas, for the first time in
over 15 years, delivering an address called "Countering the Culture of
Clinton Hating" to the Clinton School of Public Service at the University
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DAVID BROCK, PRESIDENT, MEDIA MATTERS FOR AMERICA: I was part of what
Hillary Clinton would later call the vast right-wing conspiracy.
Now, when Mrs. Clinton made that remark about the political opposition back
in the late 1990s, insiders scoffed. But she was right. The people I was
working with then, they were after the Clintons. We were, and I was.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, in a twist of fate, Brock now runs a well-funded empire
whose main mission is to shield and protect the Clintons from anyone who
attacks, and also attack back. He tried to bring the Clintons down, but
now he is building them up to return them to the White House. His well-
oiled machine is already in place to defend Hillary from any opponent who
tries to tarnish her image or dig up the controversies that plagued the
Clintons throughout much of the 1990s.
David Brock is chairman and founder of the super PAC American Bridge.
David, thank you.
BROCK: Thank you.
MATTHEWS: I have always wondered at you. And I wonder this. Hillary
Clinton, both of us were young libertarians in our teens, and then because
of Vietnam and civil rights and a lot of profound historic events -- I
think that`s my case, at least -- I think for her as well -- moved over to
the center-right -- center-left, I would say.
My question, how did you do it so dam fast, to go from a Clinton hater to a
Clinton lover? What happened so quickly to you that made you change?
BROCK: Well, actually, it actually wasn`t that quick, Chris.
I think, as folks know, I was involved in some things I`m not proud of in
the early Clinton years, in the 1993-1994 period, where I was involved with
something called the Arkansas Project, which was trying to dig up dirt on
I then did research on a book on Hillary Clinton. And I went into that
book, frankly, with a very negative agenda. But I learned a lot about
Hillary Clinton as I worked on that book. I saw somebody who was -- really
had such a strong commitment to public service and was really a good person
who cares about people, was a forward-thinking progressive.
MATTHEWS: What did you think she was? How did that -- why did that --
what did you think?
BROCK: Oh, I --
MATTHEWS: We all knew that she was very focused from the time we have ever
heard of her on women and children issues. We know she was always a policy
wonk, to put it lightly, always concerned about policy and things like
What did you think she was interested, before you came with this -- to this
discovery about her? What was your earlier view of her?
BROCK: Sure. Yes. Well, I was really -- sure.
I was inculcated in what the conservative movement believed. At the
magazine I worked for back then, "The American Spectator," she was on a
very early cover called the Lady Macbeth of Little Rock. She was seen by
us as somebody who was ruthless, out for herself. And the other big thing
was, there was a lot of what ended up being empty scandal politics going on
at the time.
MATTHEWS: That`s for sure.
BROCK: But there was the notion that was financial fraud.
MATTHEWS: You`re right about that. Whitewater was nothing. Whitewater
BROCK: There was the notion of -- there was the notion of -- that`s right.
There was the notion of financial fraud.
And I never subscribed to some of the more outlandish things, the drug
running and the murder charges. But those were things that were being
said. And the bottom line is, I didn`t have to spend the $80 million that
ken Starr spent to look at Whitewater in my book on Hillary, to look at
Travelgate and Filegate, and see that there really was nothing there.
MATTHEWS: David, tell me about the Clintons as people that you were after
and now you are with, and how -- how they have responded to your
conversion, if you will.
BROCK: Well, yes.
This was interesting to me, because, in a way, the experience I had with
the Clintons much later, in later years, validated a lot of what I wrote
about Hillary Clinton in the book, when we first encountered each other
after the bad old days, if you will.
They were very gracious about my conversion. They gave me a really
precious gift of forgiveness. And so, back when I wrote that book about
Hillary Clinton, and I did see that good person, I could -- I could vouch
for that in my own personal testimonial now.
And they`ve been encouraging the work, I think, because back in the 1990s,
had there been some of the kinds of organizations that can pushback on
misinformation coming out of the right wing, you know, you might have a
different outcome to some of these scandals. And I think we probably share
that to you.
MATTHEWS: Well, I agree with you. Let me ask you, I mean, I`m --
generally, you are very focused on the Clintons and I completely appreciate
that given your past. I`m looking at whether Mike Dukakis could have used
you, David, or swiftboating of John Kerry which I thought was hopeful.
This very tough, beyond war room approach you take which is almost like
SDI, don`t shoot missiles at us because we knock you out of the sky -- tell
us about that. That approach to political fighting.
BROCK: Yes. Well, I think you are absolutely right that certainly,
Michael Dukakis, and, you know, we saw what happened to Al Gore when the
Republican National Committee was able to put words in his mouth and what
they did to the war hero John Kerry. That was sort of one of the
fundamental principles when we started the work we do was that those kinds
of charges would not remain unanswered.
It was modeled a little bit on the 1992 Clinton war room. We run a war
room now where we in real time answer all of these charges, combat the
falsehoods and try to get the truth out to voters who there`s still an
enormous capacity for those folks to be misled.
Now, there was something special I think that went on in the Clinton years
and I talked about this in the past couple of days. So, there was a very
hard fought campaign in 1992. What happened, though, is after the
conservatives lost, they never really accepted the legitimacy of Bill
Clinton`s election. And so, they tried to overturn it right away. That
was something I think unique. That was something different and that is
what Hillary Clinton was talking about when she referred to the vast right
MATTHEWS: What about the offense you play? Because you don`t just do
defense. I`ve noticed you guys before we went over the facts of the
bridge-gate scandal. You were going after Christie? Were you going after
him just as a potential opponent of Hillary Clinton? This seems like
preemptive war rather than defensive war.
BROCK: Sure. Well, our Correct the Record Project is focused on defending
potential Democratic nominees in 2016 and that`s largely centered around
Hillary Clinton. But in American Bridge, we do research, we do video
tracking on a whole range of Republican candidates. We stick to the public
record. We cross every T. We dot every I.
But what we`re trying to do is educate people on folks` record. We go out
and we tape events that we can get into. And when we have a piece of tape
where somebody says something they really think, as Michael Kinsley I think
define a gaffe put that out there.
MATTHEWS: I`m with him on that. A gaffe is when you say what you believe.
BROCK: That`s right.
MATTHEWS: David Brock, we`re going to be watching you. You`re going to be
a figure to watch in this campaign coming up. Good luck with your efforts,
David Brock. Thank you so much for joining us from Arkansas.
BROCK: Thank you very much.
MATTHEWS: Donald Rumsfeld was the architect in the worst foreign policy in
recent memory, I think, and most of you watching think. That`s not
stopping him from bashing President Obama in Afghanistan. This guy should
go back to bed. And that`s ahead.
And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: Tomorrow, President Obama will have his much anticipated first
meeting with Pope Francis. The president will travel to Rome and meet the
new pope at the Vatican. The focus of the meeting will be an issue near
and dear, of course, to both these gentlemen -- income inequality. The
president has called it the defining challenge of our time, while the pope
has made helping the poor the top agenda in his papacy.
And we`ll be right back.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
Tomorrow night, we are going to get a first look at the new documentary
about Donald Rumsfeld, "Known Unknowns" which digs deeper into Rumsfeld and
his decision on the Iraq war. I`ll be joined by the film`s director, Errol
But, tonight, Rummy joins the hate Obama machine. On Monday night,
Rumsfeld attacked the president and his team after Afghan`s President Hamid
Karzai threw his support behind Vladimir Putin. Here`s Rumsfeld with FOX`s
Greta Van Susteren.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD RUMSFELD, FORMER SECY. OF DEFENSE (via telephone): Our relationship
with Karzai and Afghanistan was absolutely first-rate in the Bush
administration. It has gone down hill like a toboggan ever since the Obama
administration came in. Now, take for example the fact that we have status
of forces agreement probably with 100, 125 countries in the world. If the
administration, the White House and the State Department has failed to get
a status of forces agreement, a trained ape could get a status of forces
agreement. It does not take a geninus.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: A trained ape.
Anyway, we`ll get more on that in a minute. Not to be outdone, Mitt
Romney, that expert on foreign policy, attacked the president and Hillary
Clinton for supposedly not standing up to Putin. Here is Romney.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MITT ROMNEY (R), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I would not have given
Russia the gifts that Secretary Clinton and President Obama gave Russia.
This whole reset with smiling pictures of them pressing a button. It`s
like, are you kidding me? Don`t you understand that Russia has different -
- that Putin has different interests than America, and they will pursue
those interests? And the best way to keep them from pursuing the interests
is by being a strong and powerful nation that can stand up to them.
Weakness only leads to other people taking advantage of you, being
aggressive and in part, that`s what leads to situations like Ukraine.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Just shut up.
Anyway, David Corn is the Washington bureau chief of "Mother Jones", and
Eugene Robinson is the Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist with "The
Washington Post", both are MSNBC political analyst.
My word is shame. There`s no shame.
First of all, Romney doesn`t know anything about foreign policy, never
talked about, has no interesting in finding. All he ever talks about is we
need a businessman to run the country. He`s never talked about this. He`s
no Henry Kissinger or anybody.
Rumsfeld should shut up. Rumsfeld took us into a war. He led us into the
war, misled us, convinced the American people who weren`t paying enough
attention that somehow Saddam Hussein in Iraq had attacked this country on
9/11, won that charade, 186,000 people are dead, and he comes out with his
bedroom slippers on and makes a phone call to Greta Van Susteren.
I`m sorry, he doesn`t even show -- he`s calling from a bedroom somewhere,
or a home, I don`t know where he`s calling from, why don`t they just go
away? They blew up.
DAVID CORN, MOTHER JONES: Well, listen, he was the one --
CORN: Rumsfeld was the one who said, hey, before the war in Iraq, a
trained ape knows where the WMDs are.
MATTHEWS: What`s this metaphor?
CORN: So, anyway, he has a thing about trained apes. But my theory is
that he, Dick Cheney and all the other people realize they really messed
MATTHEWS: Did they read your book?
CORN: I hope they did, they probably didn`t.
And that they are so rooting --
CORN: They are so rooting for an Obama screw up to make them look less
MATTHEWS: How can you be in the league with these guys, 186,000 people
dead in Iraq and not even Rachel`s talked about the economic goals. Where
they reached? If there was any rationale, I don`t think there was even
that rationale, I mean, in terms of objective achievements. Did they
EUGENE ROBINSON, THE WASHINGTON POST: No, both the examples you cite here,
Romney and Rumsfeld. It`s personal vindication thereafter.
ROBINSON: Romney still has a thing about having been embarrassed in the
debate about Russia by President Obama, who really dogged him on Russia,
and he`s apparently carried this all this time. And Rumsfeld I guess is
looking for --
MATTHEWS: I`m not saying they`re racists. But this weird reference to
trained apes, what is that? What is that?
ROBINSON: You know, the fact that he said it before, in a different
context does not remove the racial connotation from saying it about the
first African-American president.
MATTHEWS: He`s sitting on the telephone --
MATTHEWS: The image in his head is Obama, I guess, and he`s thinking, how
much could I smear whatever?
ROBINSON: Yes, the words do -- the context in which words are --
MATTHEWS: Apparently, it`s like you said, Gene, it`s one of Rumsfeld`s
favorite phrases. Here it is, he`s used it time and again. Including this
infamous line in 2002 that David just mentioned, this is when he was
ginning up support for the war which killed 186,000 people on false
pretenses, the Iraq war.
Here he is, quote, "There`s no debate in the world as to whether they,
Iraq, have those weapons of mass destruction, we all know that. A trained
ape knows that."
What kind of thinking is this? What kind of talk is this?
CORN: Well, if you look at what he said then and you look at what he said
now, what he`s basically doing is saying, I`m smart, we`re smart.
MATTHEWS: I`m not a trained ape.
CORN: Nobody else knows anything, this thing is so obvious, it`s not that
there are policy disagreements, that someone could be wrong in an
appropriate but misguided way -- no, Obama is dumb. People who raise
questions back in that team period were below the level of a trained ape.
So, what they`re -- it`s sort of the --
MATTHEWS: With all the inference of our foreign policy, I`m so proud of
the president saying, this is not a second Cold War. This is a problem
with the regular power over. We`re not going back to hiding under our
school desks. We`re not going to face thermonuclear war with an enemy.
And don`t talk like that.
ROBINSON: Don`t talk like that for a good reason. One of the reasons the
Russians are so prickly at this point is that from their point of view,
they see the West as having been quite aggressive since the end of the Cold
War, first of all, proclaiming victory in what they see as a triumphant
(ph) way, and pushing NATO further east, further east.
You know, and again, sure support NATO, and NATO is good and everything.
But show me the serious foreign policy analysts who believe NATO ought to
be up against Russia`s border in Ukraine. You can`t find that.
MATTHEWS: What is this about this? They want to push it to the point
where the purpose of NATO was to defend us against their east bloc. There
is no more east bloc except for Russia.
So, what are these -- you tell people, the Russians. The reason we have
this, the NATO defense thing, is you. We`re coming right up to your chin.
CORN: Well, I think, you know, we haven`t had since the end of the Cold
War a debate or conversation about whether we should have NATO or not. The
only guys that brought it up in any of the debates was Ron Paul. Why do we
have all these bases and --
CORN: Of course they do, but it`s actually a serious question, and if you
just say --
MATTHEWS: You and I understand the neocons and their love of the Cold War.
Do they want another one?
Listen to Romney, he doesn`t know much, but he`s talking about --
CORN: The interesting thing about Romney is, he won`t talk about what
needs to be done now. Everything he does is Obama got us into this mess.
MATTHEWS: Thank you. This is going to bother me for a long. We were
lucky to survive the Cold War, who wants it back? Jeane Kirkpatrick, she`s
going, who wants it back?
CORN: John McCain.
MATTHEWS: David Corn, thank you so much. We think alike.
Gene Robinson, I try to think as well as you, Gene.
We`ll be right back. I`m just a trained ape. I guess that`s the phrase.
What does that mean?
Anyway, we`ll be right back after this.
MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight with this:
These Republicans, Romney, Rumsfeld, remind me of kids who flunked out of
high school but come back to tap on the classroom windows. They`re only
there to get attention and otherwise disrupt those who were still trying to
learn. Got it? Dropouts, flunkers.
Romney, I didn`t know he took a course on foreign policy. He never said a
word about it. All he talked about was his businessman`s approach to
things. If he ever say anything of importance about the world beyond his
latest business venture, it`s hard to remember it.
As for Rumsfeld, please, he and Cheney and the neocons got this country to
attack a sovereign country, Iraq, overrun it and demanded it to do what we
dictated, at a cost of 186,000 dead. He and his cohorts did this with no
measurable advantage to the United States. Not economically and certainly
Who are we now to judge or preach to Russia about honoring another
country`s sovereignty after the laughable excursion we took in the year
2003, when our leaders convinced this country we were reaping revenge for
9/11 by attacking, invading and overthrowing a government that had nothing
to do with 9/11?
Donald Rumsfeld, put your bedroom slippers back on and go back to bed.
Leave foreign policy to those who still know what it means to try as best
we can to find the road, even at a turbulent world to some kind of peace.
Peace, let`s face it, Mr. Rumsfeld, Cheney and all the neocons who gave you
license, was never your mission.
And that`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us.
"ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts right now.
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