'Up with Steve Kornacki' for Sunday, April 6, 2014
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UP with STEVE KORNACKI
April 6, 2014
Guests: Janet Murguia, Gabriela Domenzaen, Jarvis DeBerry, Al Cross, Rick
Hertzberg, Angus King, Elise Jordan, Joy Behar, Dick Cavett, Dave Itzkoff
STEVE KORNACKI, MSNBC ANCHOR: Debunking the notion Obama is deporter in
This has been a busy weekend for immigration reform advocates across the
country. This was the scene in New Orleans, Louisiana, yesterday, and in
Des Moines, Iowa, on Friday. Here is New York City yesterday. Also San
Jose, California, yesterday. Protesters in Washington, D.C. yesterday
headed toward the White House. They were marching because President Obama
had just reached an estimated 2 million deportations in his presidency, 2
On the one hand, the president might have thought that would be a useful
figure, a useful talking point, to rebut attacks from Republicans like
speaker of the House, John Boehner, who has charged that he can`t work with
Obama on immigration reform because the president isn`t doing enough to
enforce immigration laws.
On the other hand, though, those 2 million deportations have earned the
president the unfortunate nickname among immigration advocates like Janet
Murguia, she is the president of the National Council of La Raza, who
scoffed at Speaker John Boehner`s remarks at her organization`s awards
dinners just last month.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JANET MURGUIA, LA RAZA: Seriously? Failure to enforce our laws? For us,
this president has been the deporter in chief.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: Now, on the surface, her charge is not without merit. The Obama
administration has averaged nearly 400,000 deportations a year during his
first term that is more than the eight-year average under George W. Bush
and nearly four times the average under President Clinton. But it doesn`t
necessarily tell the whole story, because an article in the Los Angeles
Times the other day, which is based on statistics that have gone almost
completely unnoticed in this debate, put that criticism of Obama in a
brand-new light, arguing that the deportation surge actually has nothing to
do with undocumented immigrants who are settled and working in the United
Quoting from the article, "until recent years, most people caught illegally
crossing the southern border were simply bussed back into Mexico in what
one official called voluntary returns. Those removals, which during the
1990s reached more than a million a year, were not counted in Immigration
and Custom Enforcement`s deportation statistics. Now the vast majority of
border crossers who are apprehended get fingerprinted and formally
deported. The change began during the George W. Bush administration and
accelerated under Obama, which means that expulsions of people who are
settled and working in the United States have fallen steadily since
President Obama`s first year in office. They`re down more than 40 percent
On the other side of the ledger, the number of people deported at or near
the border has gone up, primarily as a result of changing who gets counted
in deportation statistics."
So that`s the full context. But, still, the president was labelled
deporter in chief by one of the country`s largest Hispanic organizations,
and it got a White House response. The administration moved quickly to get
Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson to formulate a more humane
Another interesting wrinkle in all of this is that the National Council of
La Raza was not first in calling the president the deporter in chief. The
term started long before with young immigration activists, student
protesters, capital d Dreamers. Their engagement or lack of engagement is
now raising concern with Democrats, who need their support if they have any
hope of retaining control of the Senate this year.
Across the country, the New York Times reported this week, organizers who
sign up Latinos to vote say there is huge disillusionment among potential
voters, especially young adults. The organizer pictured in that photo said
she approached roughly 50 people in rural Colorado trying to get them to
register. Quote, "Not a single person" was interested in her pitch,
including those already old enough to vote. They were like, why? Why
would I bother to vote, she explained.
Growing that portion of the electorate is important for Democrats even in
an election year when participation among Latino voters typically drops.
So here it is. Democrats are sounding the alarm early and looking for ways
to recharge young Hispanic voters, to get them fired up and ready to go for
the last election of the Obama presidency, the last mid-term election.
What can they do? What should they do in the seven months until Election
Day? Short of actually passing immigration reform in Congress? Well, here
with us to discuss that, we have MSNBC contributor Perry Bacon Jr., he is
the political editor of TheGrio.com. Gabriela Domenzain, she is the former
director of Hispanic Press for the Obama 2012 campaign, as well as MSNBC
contributor Victoria DeFrancesco Soto. She`s a fellow at the LBJ School of
Public Affairs at the University of Texas. And joining us from Los
Angeles, we have Fabian Nunez, he is the former Democratic speaker of the
California State Assembly, getting up very early out there. We appreciate
that extra, knowing the West Coast time on a Sunday morning can be rough.
Anyway, so I guess I`ll start, Gabriela, with the statistics we just laid
out there, because this is something I didn`t even realize until reading it
this week. How well known is this idea -- the basic idea of deportations
being up under Obama, everyone espouses the talking point. How well known
is it even among activists that there`s a difference between people who are
quickly crossing the border and being returned versus people who are
settled, have families, have jobs? There`s a huge difference there.
GABRIELA DOMENZAIN, OBAMA 2012 SPOKESPERSON: I wouldn`t necessarily focus
on how well known the actual numbers of who is being deported is, rather
how the community and especially dreamers are feeling it. So in 2011
you`re talking about the fact that Latino voters, if you ask them, do you
know somebody who is in the process of deportation, 25 percent would say
yes. Last year -- no, 39 percent say yes. We`re talking 4 out of 10
Latino voters have a personal relationship with somebody who is being
deported or who is in the process of deportation, and that changes you.
KORNACKI: So how does that mesh with the statistics from the L.A. Times
story? The L.A. Times story is saying, there`s a quote in there that says,
look, if you`re settled here in the United States, if you`re working, you
have family, you have essentially zero chance of being deported. It`s
basically people who might quickly cross the border for an hour or
something and are apprehended.
DOMENZAIN: Quickly cross the border or come back because they have
established lives here, right? In a state like Maryland, 40 percent of the
people that were deported last year had never been convicted of a criminal
offense, rather, had lives and families, and had been there over ten years.
So statistics are misleading.
And I don`t know if you guys agree, I have obviously very deep roots in the
immigrant rights community, and for me the same, when I started in this, it
was this process -- like 13 years ago, it was a devastating situation, but
it didn`t happen to me. I get calls every single week with somebody that I
know either directly or by one degree of separation who is in the process
of their family being torn apart, and this is motivating dreamers,
especially when you combine the fact that you`re 16 years old, all of a
sudden you can`t drive. Your friends are going to vote. You were brought
up American and you have every intention to participate in the political
process and you can`t. That angst leads to mobilization.
KORNACKI: And, Victoria, it seems like what I`m picking up on, the
administration, obviously we outlined political reasons. Obama received 71
percent of Latino vote in 2012. You look at the growing Latino population
in this country, Democrats look not just at 2014 but well beyond that, and
say we need to make this sort of a permanent part of our coalition. So I
sort of understand the idea of the administration now maybe trying to get
the message out there that, hey, all this stuff about deportations is not
nearly as bad as it looks. But politically speaking, he`s been playing
sort of the opposite game for the last few years, where it`s been about
let`s make sure the right doesn`t worry that I`m going too far, let`s buy
cover with the right to get immigration reform. Maybe they`re taking a
different tack now.
VICTORIA DEFANCESCO SOTO, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Steve, we can argue about
immigration and detention rates and deportation rates, but what the Obama
administration needs to do in the short term in order to win elections,
they need to get away from immigration, they need to get beyond
immigration. Latinos care about more than immigration.
For the 2012 election, Latino Decisions does a poll, they ask you what are
the most important issues to you and your family? Over 50 percent of
Latinos say the economy and jobs. Don`t forget that Latinos were the
hardest hit by the recession. We also care about immigration, but along
with health care and education, so we need to get away from that focus.
It`s important, but there is more to our community. And we also need to be
more creative. Latinos are going to be mobilized different than the
American community, than the Anglo community. I think we need to leverage
our cultural resources and our family resources a lot more than just that
New York Times article, the girl walks up to the kids who are
skateboarding. All right, you know what, you need to go through the
family, you need to go through the church, and that`s how you mobilize
KORNACKI: I want to bring in Fabien Nunez out in California, now that it`s
5:00 a.m. out there, so I don`t want you to fall asleep on us. But there`s
a gubernatorial race in California this year. Jerry Brown is running for
re-election, Neel Kashkari, the Republican, looks like he`s going to be his
opponent. The news this week is he granted his first interview to
Univision, a Spanish language giant, obviously to send a message to Latino
voters. Latino voters have shifted so strongly to the Democratic column in
California the last 20 years, have really helped make that state one of the
bluest in the country. The discussion we`re having here, though, about
potentially the reputation of the deporter in chief reputation among some
Latinos for President Obama, especially some younger Latinos, are you
finding that that is a problem for the president, a problem for your party
in California in terms of engaging with Latino voters, young Latino voters
FABIAN NUNEZ, FORMER SPEAKER, CALIFORNIA ASSEMBLY: Well, in California, a
little bit different than the rest of the country. I think that we and New
York have a lot in common in that respect, in that we really don`t have
strong Republican challengers, not for governor, not for U.S. Senate. In
fact, most of the House, the state legislature is in Democratic hands.
But I think the president does have a very, very serious problem with
respect to how they manage the immigration issue. Although I do agree with
Victoria on the question that Latinos are not just about immigration, we
care about education, we care about health reform, we care about many, many
other things. But the immigration issue has dogged this president, and
here is why.
I think fundamentally what has happened is that the president made a
political miscalculation under Janet Napolitano when she was leading
Homeland Security and decided to advertise the fact that they were doing
deportations. And it`s not just deportations at the border, with the
voluntary departures that people make where they agree to be deported in
lieu of being arrested. So those didn`t get accounted for once upon a
time. Now they did.
Well, the administration has never said anything about this until this L.A.
Times article showed up. But initially, this president decided to do
immigration reform by playing to the Republicans on being strong on border
controls, and at the same time when they advertised this, I think that they
caused a lot of problems within the Latino immigrant community. And people
don`t expect Democratic presidents to be doing mass deportations. And we
haven`t seen mass deportations, but we have seen enough deportations where
2 million people are 2 million people, and folks are being affected by
So the president is going to have to find a way to address this issue
beyond the question of the dreamers, because I think what he did with the
dreamers was phenomenal in the last presidential election, but there`s a
lot of work to be covered, particularly given the fact that we have these
mid-term elections coming up, and we need a higher Latino turnout for these
elections. You know, you look at states like New Mexico. You look at
states like Nevada. These are states, Colorado, these are states where the
Latino vote -- Florida -- the Latino vote is going to be imperative in
order that Democrats take back the House of Representatives.
KORNACKI: You talk there about the obviously political calculation early
on for the Obama administration was, look, we need to get cover here to
pursue comprehensive immigration reform, we need to make it safe for enough
Republicans to come onboard, so that we can get it through, and the way we
can make it safe for Republicans is to say we`re really cracking down on
border security, look, deportations are up.
We have to squeeze a break in here. But on the other side, I want to talk
about, is the administration now sort of admitting that didn`t work, that`s
not going to work anytime soon, and now we need to focus more on repairing
damage, political damage that was done with our base, with the Latino
community. Talk about the future of immigration reform and where the
administration is going right after this.
KORNACKI: So, Perry, we were talking about how the first term calculation,
and even through 2013 for the Obama administration was just do everything
we can politically to give cover to Republicans, to give cover to people
who are going to answer to voters who are claiming amnesty, by ramping up
border security, touting high deportation statistics. Now, you`re looking
at the 2014 midterms, you`re looking at a state like Colorado, where
control of the Senate could partially hinge on can Democrats protect Udall
in Colorado. You said in 2008, 2012 Obama carried Colorado. Latino
turnout was 50 percent. 2010 midterm, it plummeted to 33 percent.
Democrats did win that Senate race, but it was a very tough -- much, much
Are you noticing -- has there been a change in thinking in the
administration about this approach to immigration that, hey, we`ve got to
stop touting these deportation figures, we`ve got to worry about telling
our base that you know what, actually we`re not that bad.
PERRY BACON JR., MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Yes, they are on two tracks. Like,
the next few months, they want to rebuild (inaudible) the Latino community,
they want to emphasize that he`s not the deportation president. There`s a
proposal by Durbin and Schumer in the Senate right now, they are talking
about in which the people who qualify for that Senate bill last year, the
legalization one, Marco Rubio and other senators were supportive, basically
anyone who qualified for that bill would have been legalized, and that
pattern would not be deported in that way, too. There would be some kind
of formal deportation proposal, those people cannot be deported either, and
there would be a change, and would move beyond the dreamers to actual -- to
older people as well. So that`s one thing they`re doing.
At the same time, they don`t want to blow this up completely, because they
do think in 2015, there may be a small window still after the 2014 election
in which some kind of immigration proposal can pass. Because Republicans
do care about this issue in terms of 2016 politics, more than 2014
politics, so they don`t want to take away too much from the consensus they
have now and turn away any chance of getting an immigration reform bill
KORNACKI: And, Gabriela, that`s apparently the message that President
Obama is delivering to immigration reform supporters, he is basically
saying hold your fire against me. We need to stick together, because if we
stick together, there`s still a chance we can ramp up the pressure on
Republicans to get this through, whether it`s this year unlikely, but maybe
in 2015. Are they giving him that patience, or are they at the breaking
DOMENZAIN: There`s only so much the Democrats can do, right? We have a
bipartisan bill from the Senate. Extreme conservatives in the House are
holding it back. I do think they still have time, and I think that`s where
this tension comes from, right? So all of a sudden, yes, I don`t like the
fact this is a broken system I have to enforce, and that it`s been how many
years and these are the results, but I`m not the obstruction here, I am not
I think the other thing that we`re not factoring in is that right now,
obviously, the groups are pivoting to deporter in chief and to making him
review his deportation policies. But come November, it becomes a contrast
election. Republicans have from now until November to do something, to
save their face, right, with Latino voters. I do think there are some
leaders in the Republican Party that are really working hard to do it, to
do something that`s not just offensive, which is what they`ve done.
KORNACKI: The other question, too, and I think this is from the New York
Times article, and Fabian, I`ll bring you in on this. The idea that
there`s frustration, there is an acknowledgement among a lot of Latino
voters, that, yes, the Republicans basically have done nothing, but a lot
of disappointment as well with President Obama, and the question is asked,
is there a sense, and what is your sense and what do you think the sense is
among Latino voters in California, and generally if Obama has done the best
he can on this issue given the Republican opposition that he`s faced? Is
just the fact of this Republican opposition enough to get him sort of a
pass, enough to get the benefit of the doubt that, hey, yes, he`s really
been trying to work around it, or is there a sense that he could and should
have done more?
NUNEZ: There`s disappointment in President Obama on the part of many
Latino activists throughout the country on the deportation issue, but let`s
make no mistake about it. The fact of the matter is the real contrast
between Democrats and Republicans on how they vote on many issues I think
is important for the president, in this case, to pivot the issue, if he
could, to health care reform, where Latinos have benefited extensively from
health care reform. In fact, in particular, young Latinos, who now qualify
to be under their parents` health care insurance?
This is going to be, I think, an election that is going to be very, very
critical. I think in the midterms, you`re going to see that pivot happen
regardless or whether or not the administration is successful in
articulating this pivot. I think you`re going to see it on the part of the
Latino community, because people realize that in order to get an
immigration bill passed, you need the votes, and in order to get the votes,
you need people who are going to vote in favor of immigration reform that`s
comprehensive. And I think that, you know, you will see that at the end of
the summer there will be a change in the way people respond to this issue
Yes, Latinos are upset with the president, but we also are encouraged by a
lot of the things that have happened in the economy. The president is
calling for a minimum wage increase, for example. This is an issue that
resonates very, very broadly with Latinos. And other issues, the question
of housing, education. I think that there`s a lot here for the president
to talk about that ultimately could be very helpful in turning around those
14, 15 Republican seats and making those Democratic seats helping tilt the
scales on the balance of power in Washington.
KORNACKI: Victoria, you were talking about those other issues, too, so
when you look at 2014, obviously the story of the last ten years or so in
American politics is two different coalitions. There is this sort of
Democratic coalition of the ascendant, I think they call it, that seems to
show up in presidential election years, then there is this older, less
diverse, more conservative election that turns up in the mid-term years,
and the Republicans do really well there. We`re in one of those mid-term
years now. We looked at how Latino turnout fell so sharply from 2008 to
2010, bumped up in 2012. Do you think the issues that you`ve talked about,
Fabian has talked about, do you think where immigration will be this fall,
do you think that is going to translate into a noticeable jump in Latino
participation this fall?
SOTO: I am worried about the turnout in the midterm election, because I
think immigration is a losing issue for the Democrats in the midterm
election, because there is that disenchantment with the president --
because let`s go back to 2008. He made a promise and he broke it. So I
think, as Fabian said, you need to focus on other issues, on health care,
on the growing economy, to bump up the turnout there. Because Latinos,
there`s no danger of Latinos going Republican in this election.
Republicans are not on the offense like they were in in 2010, but they`re
not courting Latinos like they will be in 2016. I think the danger here is
Latinos staying home. That is my fear. And here we need to get issues
that motivate Latinos.
DOMENZAIN; I think that`s why, what I was talking about in the beginning
of the show, that four in 10 Latino voters know somebody who is in the
process of deportation -- let that sink in for a second. I know that
tomorrow somebody that I know and love could leave, and I have no idea how
to find them. That I don`t think we can underestimate the power of that.
Look at 2010, Reid-Angle. Angle an immigration candidate, Reid leaned (ph)
into the Dream Act. Latino voter participation in Nevada surged.
SOTO: I think that`s the problem, also.
KORNACKI: There are some primaries yet to be determined. (inaudible). So
we`ll see, but anyway. I want to thank former California Assembly Speaker
Fabian Nunez for getting up, and joining us this morning. Also, Gabriela
Domenzain, a member of the Obama 2012 campaign team, thank you for joining
us. And coming up, Republicans who believe it is time to start running on
something other than being against Obamacare.
But first, we have the very latest this morning on the search for that
missing Malaysian passenger jet which disappeared almost a month ago now.
Today an Australian ship picked up another electronic pulse under water,
this is the third one found this weekend. The head of the search effort
says it was discovered in a different part of the massive search area in
the south Indian Ocean. The official added a hefty dose of caution that
none of the sounds have been confirmed or dismissed as being from flight
370. More on the story as it becomes available. And we`ll be right back.
KORNACKI: In February, the Koch brother backed political group Americans
for Prosperity hired professional actors to appear as Louisiana residents
in a political ad to tell Senator Mary Landrieu this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Dear Mrs. Kelly, your family plan is no longer
available under the Affordable Care Act.
Dear Ms. Davis, we can no longer offer you the same policy.
Your doctor is no longer in network due to the Affordable Care Act.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Due to the Affordable Care Act, your monthly premium
No longer covered due to the Affordable Care Act.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Send Senator Landrieu a message, Obamacare is hurting
KORNACKI: Political attack ads against the Affordable Care Act have been
relentless, and in the wake of the McCutcheon ruling from the Supreme Court
this week, we should probably expect to see a lot more of them between now
and November. But there have also been some notable signs in recent days
that some Republicans are starting to wonder if an overwhelmingly negative
anti-health care message is still the way to go. 55 votes and counting so
far from the House floor to kill the Affordable Care Act, but very little
has been put forward in the four years since it passed to replace it with
And Wednesday, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal released an alternative plan
of sorts. It takes away a lot more than it would give back in return, but
it`s something, and politically it seems Jindal needed to act. He turned
down Medicaid expansion for his state. Many believe that`s why his poll
numbers may be suffering down there. Meanwhile, Senator Mary Landrieu is
starting to poll much stronger in her tough reelection fight against
Republican Bill Cassidy. She had been trailing. Now the two candidates
are roughly even in polls. The senator has not been shying away from
talking about health reform, saying this week on the day that 7.1 million
enrollment figure was announced, quote, "today`s enrollment announcement
confirms what I have said since day one. The Affordable Care Act holds
great promise and is getting stronger every day."
One prominent Republican has now gone on record to say it`s time for the
GOP to start talking about something else, that`s Nevada Senator Dean
Heller, who is not up for reelection this year. He told the Hill, quote,
"it`s my opinion the Affordable Care Act is going to play in this election,
but I don`t think it`s the main issue. I think the main issue is going to
be the economy and jobs. I think we`re going to win or lose the majority
based -- I don`t think we`ll win or lose the majority based on one single
piece of legislation, I think we`re mistaken."
At the same time, there is also evidence that success for health reform
isn`t going to magically transform Republican voters into Democratic ones.
Kentucky`s implementation of the Affordable Care Act through its state
exchange program, which is called Kynect, has been a huge success so far.
The website has worked since day one, and hundreds of thousands of Kentucky
residents have signed up. Kentucky`s uninsured rate has dropped by at
least 40 percent.
Still, though, 49 percent of Kentucky voters said recently that they want
to repeal the law. So there seems to be a big disconnect there. If you`re
Mitch McConnell and Alison Grimes, his probable Democratic challenger, what
is the takeway? Do you run against health reform in Kentucky, or do you
embrace it? Joining us now from Louisville is Al Cross, he is a columnist
for the Courier Journal and director of the Institute for Rural Journalism
at the University of Kentucky. And in New Orleans we have Jarvis DeBerry,
he is an editorial writer and columnist for the "Times Picayune" in
Nola.com. Here in the studio, MSNBC contributor Perry Bacon Jr. and
Kentucky native Perry Bacon Jr is still with us. And MSNBC contributor
Victoria DeFrancesco Soto as well. And I was reasonable to look forward to
the segment, because we are talking about battle, the battle for control of
the Senate this year. And you have two of the key races, Louisiana and
Kentucky. And I think the Democratic candidate in each state is playing
this issue completely differently.
So I want to sort of get at what`s behind that contrast. Al in Louisville,
I figured out I`ll start with you, and we`ll talk about Alison Grimes
running against Mitch McConnell. This is -- I have an element here that
kind of sums it up. We know Mitch McConnell is running strongly against
the Affordable Care Act and we know that that poll shows a plurality of
Kentucky voters despite the success that the governor has had in
implementing it still say they want to repeal it.. Here is -- this is an
article, this is NPR story from Louisville looking at Alison Grimes`
position on the Affordable Care Act. Does she plan to embrace the
Affordable Care Act over the next eight months? Not likely. It`s a
compliment to Governor Beshear in the state who advisor told WUFPL when
asked, but the law isn`t perfect and it does need to be fixed. It`s
something what Democrats and Republicans should come together and fix the
parts of the Affordable Care Act that aren`t perfect. And Alan, just -
there seems to be such a disconnect here. The Affordable Care Act arguably
is working better in Kentucky than any other state. This is a Democratic
chief advisor -- Democratic president and Democratic Congress and the
Democratic candidate for the Senate by all indications doesn`t want to talk
AL CROSS, LOUISVILLE COURIER JOURNAL: Well, first, Steve, the poll you
cite was taken before the -- most of the publicity about the success of
connect or Kentucky Obamacare. We really haven`t measured public opinion
since the last surge in enrollments, which is now approaching 400,000. So
it`s a little early to say there`s a disconnect. And, of course, Alison
Grimes didn`t have to vote on Obamacare. Mary Landrieu did. They
naturally have different approaches. There are people who say that the
success of the law here will boost Democratic chances, but that remains to
be seen. I`m kind of doubtful about that.
First, the people who got insurance under Obamacare are a lower
demographic, they`re less likely to vote. Second, people who lost their
insurance or had to pay more, have a stronger motivation to vote than
people who gained insurance. Third, even the people who gained insurance
may not be happy with the high deductibles and the narrow networks that we
have under the new system. And fourth, no Democrats have stepped up to
really defend the law and say what it`s doing for people in Kentucky.
Obama is just too bad a brand for Democrats to get close to at this point.
Now, once they see some polling, after the final numbers are in, I think we
probably are going to see something of a shift. Grimes has to say more
than she has said about this to look credible.
KORNACKI: And now, Perry, Kentucky native Perry, (INAUDIBLE), a really
interesting story for Yahoo News about this. We were looking at how the
politics of this are playing out in Kentucky and you went to one district,
correct me if I`m wrong about this, this is the top state Senate Republican
in Kentucky who represents a rural district where a lot of people have been
helped by this and this state senator, who is, you know, they are trying to
get back control of the legislature down there, his main issue is we want
to get control, and we want to do away with the Medicaid expansion in
Kentucky. And I mean this is the guy who represents constituents being
directly helped by this.
PERRY BACON JR., MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Yeah, it`s very strong kind of the
Republicans in Kentucky, the state Senate Republicans as well as Mitch
McConnell nationally, go out and talk about how they want to appeal this
law every day. They are very confident thinking this law is bad. The key
thing here is their view is in in Kentucky anything that`s called Obama is
going to be viewed negatively. Obama`s approval ratings are very low
there. He did really (INAUDIBLE). So, Grimes, to me, is making a very
logical political decision. She is talking about -- and she is like the
minimum wage, which is very popular. The raise of the minimum wage is very
popular in Kentucky, Obamacare is still confusing people. People there I
talked to say the Kia-Nect program is popular. KYNECT and Obamacare are
not popular. They are, of course, the same thing. But, you know, Steve
Beshear, the governor, I think, has done a good job of framing KYNECT as
Kentucky-based program that sets up health care while Obamacare is the big
bad thing over there and he doesn`t want to talk about. And I think that`s
smart. One of the Democrats there, in fact, mentioned we have Beshearcare
here, based on Governor Beshear to, again, make the point that this is not
Obamacare. We have Beshearcare and that`s different somehow. And I think
that`s a good approach.
KORNACKI: Yeah, it really - it just tests the sort of visceral reaction
people in the red state like Kentucky have to Obama name versus can they
separate the policy from that. I want to look at the opposite of this now.
Jardison in Louisiana where you have a Democratic Senate candidate, an
incumbent Democrat down in Louisiana, Mary Landrieu, who is running for re-
election. So, again, this is a red state. This is a state that voted for
Mitt Romney. It`s not a state that Democrats are expecting to be winning
at the presidential level anytime soon. But Mary Landrieu in running for
reelection down there, Jarvis, is touting her support for the Affordable
Care Act. She has -- she launched a web petition, also apparently this
week telling Bobby Jindal, the Republican governor of the state to accept
the Medicaid expansion that`s part of Obamacare. She says she wants to
close the Jindal gap. It`s sort of interesting to me. Here is a southern
Democratic U.S. senator, that in and of itself is a rarity these days, and
she is fully embracing this new reelection campaign. What is the political
calculation behind that?
JARVIS DEBERRY, NEW ORLEANS TIMES-PICAYUNE: I don`t think she has a choice
whether to embrace it or not. She did vote for it and that`s clear and on
top of that, Mary Landrieu doesn`t get elected without the city of New
Orleans. The city of New Orleans voted for Barack Obama at 80 percent in
2012. So to distance herself from the Affordable Care Act would be
distancing himself from President Barack Obama which would be distancing
herself from her most reliable base, so she needs New Orleans to win any
election and to come out against Obamacare, the Affordable Care Act would
be worse than supporting -- worse than distancing herself from it. She
really needs the city of New Orleans to be elected.
KORNACKI: That`s interesting. There`s, I guess, the electorate in
Louisiana compared to a state like Kentucky, there`s -- it`s just a very
racially polarized electorate, especially when you get into the Deep South.
And so it gets into when you get to the question of opinion on Obamacare
it`s also polarized along racial and partisan lines, too. I want to pick
this up, bring Victoria and have a few more interesting things to share
with you this, this sort of contrast of two very different states where the
same issue is playing out. We`ll pick it up after this.
KORNACKI: We mentioned this in the intro that, you know, with the news of
the 7.1 million enrollments this week, Republicans -- some Republicans
started to sit to make noise -- but hey, maybe we can`t just do repeal
the Obamacare. Here is a quote from one Republican on the hill.
Republicans need to be very careful to sketch out a positive vision for the
four -- as part of their election strategy. If their view is too focused
on Obamacare, saying bad things about Obamacare, it`s a very dour message
and not likely to bring over swing voters. This is a former Senator in GOP
strategy. But Victoria, it occurs to me, in a national election, in a
presidential election where the whole country is engaged in voting, I get
what he`s saying right there.
But we are talking about a battle for Senate control, we are talking about
-- maybe this is a battle about red state America right now, this is North
Carolina, this is Kentucky, this is Louisiana, this is Alaska, this is -
these are states that are a lot more conservative and a lot more anti-Obama
than America .
VICTORIA DEFRANCESCO SOTO, UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS: It`s a different world,
Steve. I mean, again, as a token southerner at the table, it`s a different
universe. And when we look at these aggregate numbers we get very hopeful,
people whose lives are tangibly changing by having health care, maybe they
are something as I say, I`m going to turn out and vote, or maybe I`ll
switch my vote from "R" to "D," but it`s not going to happen. Southerners
have no problem separating out the two. So, I`m getting my health care or
I`m getting other government benefits, but I still hate Obama. I still
hate the government. And I am going to keep on voting Republican whether
for cultural reasons, for moral reasons, for religious reasons. So I think
we need to be very clear about that and not be overly optimistic that
health care is going to switch people around.
KORNACKI: And the, Perry, you`re reporting here, too, that - Mary Landrieu
sort of gung ho for this, but among other southern Democrats, even those
who voted for it not.
BACON JR. Yeah, her approach to me is unusual and surprising. I know she
is very, very forward, talking about the Medicaid issue as well. You look
at Kay Hagan, you look Mark Begich, you look at Democrat Governor in West
Virginia as well. Most people are taking -- are taking the Alison Grimes
approach. I voted for Obamacare and now let`s talk about something else.
And that`s, I think that`s what you`re going to hear most of the Democrats
do - this notion that Democrats are going to campaign on this issue, I
think President Obama might, but again, President Obama is not someone they
want to invite to campaign with the media. You`re going to hear Bill
Clinton talk about this maybe. Even there, at that big event, Bill Clinton
had the last month with Alison Grimes, Bill Clinton went into great detail
about how great the health care law in Kentucky was. Alison Grime
(INAUDIBLE) to give us speech where she did not mention health care at all.
Health care does not appear on her website at all. Versus Mitch McConnell
talks about repeal every single day.
KORNACKI: Well, let me -- let me, Jarvis, I want to get you back in
here. Because the other question about Louisiana I`m kind of interested in
is Bobby Jindal. Bobby Jindal in the news this week with coming up with
his sort of alternative plan to Obamacare, but also Bobby Jindal and the
(INAUDIBLE) over this, refusing to do the Medicaid expansion in Louisiana.
I wonder that aspect of it, has he paid a political price for that or it`s
just the fact that he looks like he`s standing up to the Obama
administration, does that give him the political cover he needs? How is
that playing down there?
DEBERRY: You know, it`s probably a little bit of both. We have seen the
governor have declining poll numbers as of late. But at the same time it
doesn`t mean there has been an upswing for President Barack Obama. You`re
right that he has refused the Medicaid expansion which would bring in about
242,000 Louisianians and get them health care. His argument to not expand
Medicaid has not been persuasive at all in large part because it`s so
shockingly similar to previous proposals that he has made himself. So it
seems to be a naked political calculation that everything that President
Barack Obama does is bad and I`m going to stand opposite to that. But,
again, it hasn`t necessarily made people embrace Governor Jindal as of
late, but at the same time, you know, nobody is actually rushing to the
president`s defense either.
KORNACKI: And, Al, I want to come back to you here for a second. Because
we were saying Mary Landrieu stands out as being the only gung ho Democrat
for this in the south. I would say, I guess you have to amend that in the
Senate because Steve Beshear, the governor of Kentucky, also very much gung
ho pro-Obamacare, pro-Affordable Care Act, he`s just implemented this thing
making Kentucky very aggressively. I wonder if you could just explain the
story. Is the story that I see nationally that this guy is nearly 70 years
old, he is basically going to be done in politics after his term is up, is
this is the guy who`s kind of liberated from a lot of the political
considerations that would keep other Southern Democrats from not being as
aggressive, and he`s saying, hey, I think this is a good law and I don`t
have to worry about the politics so I`m going to implement it, you know,
fully. Is that what sort of his calculation this year? Where did this
come from, this aggressiveness for Steve Beshear?
CROSS: Well, I think you`ve basically got it right. Steve Beshear`s
history is that he`s been a Democrat who`s been just slightly left of
center, but still well within the Kentucky political mainstream. And in
the current political environment he`s really had to walk a fine line. But
once he got re-elected in 2011 and is now term limited, he was free to do
what he wanted to do and here is an important point that didn`t apply in
many other states, Kentucky had statutes that allowed the governor to
create an independent exchange without legislative approval and to expand
Medicaid without legislative approval.
KORNACKI: That`s interesting. I`m so used to calling New Jersey the most
powerful governorship in the country.
KORNACKI: But maybe I`m going to have to amend that. You`re giving me a
good case for Kentucky there.
CROSS: Well, here we only have -- you`ve got to have only a simple
majority to override a veto. So the governor is not all powerful. If the
Republicans take over the House in this fall`s elections, that means
they`ll control the House and the Senate and they`ll put through some
legislation that might very well pass. And that`s why these fall elections
are very important here.
KORNACKI: So, I take it back, New Jersey still has the most powerful
governorship. Anyway. Thank you, Al Cross with the Louisville Courier
Journal, Jarvis DeBerry with the New Orleans Times-Picayune. Coming up the
other headlines making news this week, that`s next.
KORNACKI: Come back now. And at the table we have MSNBC contributor
Victoria DeFrancesco Soto, MSNBC contributor Perry Bacon Jr. and Rick
Hertzberg writer at "The New Yorker" joins us now. So, there`s a lot going
on this morning. We can -- take a look at some of the morning papers, a
little change of pace here. So, first, if you`re waking up in Connecticut
this morning, you are seeing this on the cover of the "Hartford Courant."
"Husky Domination. The University of Connecticut Winning in These Final
Four Game Yesterday against Florida. They`ve got - UConn got seven seeds,
Florida the number one overall in the tournament, UConn fell behind by 12
points early and then the rest of the way just dominated. Just Shabazz
Nappier, the guard, he wasn`t even the high scorer with Deandre Daniels
seeding all these shots. I think U got hit by 12 straight shots. At one
point this after playing Kentucky Monday night anybody got any national
championship predictions here?
DEFRANCESCO SOTO: I`m just happy Wisconsin lost. I was telling you this
during the break. I`m an Arizona fan and it was a bad call that led
Wisconsin to win, so that`s my bitterness right there.
KORNACKI: It`s always a bad call.
DEFRANCESCO SOTO: It`s a bad call and that`s karma.
KORNACKI: So you were cheering for Kentucky?
DEFRANCESCO SOTO: I was. Everybody in Kentucky .
BACON JR.: You now I think they`re going to .
KORNACKI: Are you -- You`re from .
BACON JR.: I`m from Louisville, I work -- I`m a Louisville fan. But
Kentucky winning would be fine with me. But I think there are -- I think
they got -- they`ve got they hit the right thing. They`ve grown together
at the right time. There are five freshmen who are now playing well
together. I think they are going to be the .
KORNACKI: Yeah, there you seem them on the cover. This is the opposite of
UConn, this is the Lexington Harold Leader -- this was the first time
since the Fab Five in 1992 that an all-freshmen starting lineup. Rick, do
you have a pick in a national team? You want to release your .
RICK HERTZBERG, THE NEW YORKER: When Harvard got beat I sort of lost
KORNACKI: Yeah, OK, well, it`s a huge statement for Harvard that they`re
even in the tournaments off these days. It`s the whole new ball game. So,
we turn now what is next here -- "The Dallas Morning News" -- let`s see
her. This is an interesting one. This is "Johnson Library Getting a New
View"- this is about the civil rights that`s going to be taking place this
week at the LBJ library celebrating the 50th anniversary of Lyndon Johnson
signing the Seminole Civil Rights Act. Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, George
W. Bush are going to be there.
BACON JR.: And the president.
KORNACKI: Yeah. President Obama might also be there, too, as Perry says.
So, Victoria, this is sort of your neck of the woods.
DEFRANCESCO SOTO: Yes.
KORNACKI: It`s sort of an LBJ re-assessment going on right now. It`s
interesting when you look deep in this article. Medicare happened, the
Civil Rights Act happened under him, but he`s not regarded generally
because of Vietnam, as one of our more accomplished presidents. Is there a
sort of a re-assessment going on here?
DEFRANCESCO SOTO: There is. And we`re taking the opportunity of looking
at the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act. Civil Rights Act, Voting
Rights Act, Medicare, Medicaid all these things that came about under
President Johnson. So, it is a time to commemorate President Johnson, but
I think more broadly it`s a time to look at how far we have come as a
nation and also the challenges that are still ahead of us. So, we`re going
to have President Obama for the president speak but we`re also going to
have a whole host of panels to do -- in the next three days, shameless
plug for the LBJ library, we`re going to be live streaming all of the
conference online. And I think it is a fabulous opportunity to take a look
back historically of where we have been.
KORNACKI: And the so, well, you know, LBJ, it`s been more than 40 years
since he left office, now he`s got the library, now you can have events
there. There`s also a story from "The Chicago Tribune" today about the
future Obama library and there is now a competition going on for where will
the Obama library be, Chicago, the hometown paper there for him, to be
considered the favorite, Honolulu and New York also apparently in the
running making bids for presidential library. What is the key to selecting
a site for a presidential library, do you think, Rick?
HERTZBERG: It`s where the president wants it to be. It`s where the
president`s library is going to be, wants it to be, that`s where it`s going
to be. And I don`t think he`s going to - wants to be stuck, beautiful as
Hawaii is, way out in the middle of the ocean. So it`s going to be in
KORNACKI: But why? I think Hawaii is one of the states. I mean it could
really benefit from a tourist attraction.
HERTZBERG: It could. It could
KORNACKI: Not many people think of it when they are doing the ..
BACON JR.: To go to that presidential library in New York.
KORNACKI: There`s no reason to go to Hawaii for anything else.
KORNACKI: Put a library there.
DEFRANCESCO SOTO: In close site. Not just in Chicago, but contemplating
having it on the South Side of Chicago, which is very underdeveloped, you
know, lower SCS status and maybe it could be a magnet boosting the
BACON: That makes a powerful statement, too.
KORNACKI: So, I want to thank Perry Bacon Jr. with the Grio.com, Rick
Hertzberg, we will see you later in the hour. Is it a quick one? And
Victoria DeFrancesco Soto with University of Texas, but an Arizona fun.
Still ahead, why top secret may not be top secret for much longer when it
comes to CIA torture? That`s ahead.
KORNACKI: Don`t go anywhere. Joy Behar and Dick Cavett will be here the
next hour to talk about the story that everyone was buzzing about this
KORNACKI: One of the hardest things in talking about or reporting about or
even knowing about matters of national security is that all of the
information is usually classified. So, when it comes to finding out what
the Bush administration did in the wake of the September 11th attacks in
the name of gathering intelligence, we actually don`t know all that much.
But this week, we took a big step forward in finding out. On Thursday, the
Senate Intelligence Committee led by California Democrat Dianne Feinstein
voted to declassify the summary of its findings in the wake of the most
comprehensive report to date on interrogation program run by the Bush
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN, (D) CALIFORNIA: The report exposes brutality that
stands in stark contrast to our values as a nation. It chronicles a stain
on our history that must never be allowed to happen again. This is not
what Americans do. The release of this summary and conclusions in the near
future shows that this nation admits its errors as painful as they may be
and seeks to learn from them.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: The move to declassify the report now moves to the Obama
administration. In 2008 Senator Barack Obama campaigned on this issue
against the Bush administration`s so called "enhanced interrogation
procedures," methods like waterboarding and sleep deprivation and called
them torture. And when he took office in 2009, Obama ended the CIA program
and last month he promised to move quickly to declassify the Senate`s
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: I am absolutely
committed to declassifying that report as soon as the report is completed.
We will declassify those findings so that the American people can
understand what happened in the past and that can help guide us as we move
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: Now it could be a few weeks or even a few months until we get
the summary of the report, but this week "The Washington Post" reported
some of the Senate panel`s bombshell revelations. According to government
officials familiar with the report, the Senate investigation concludes that
the CIA misled Congress and the public about its harsh interrogation
program for years. That the CIA concealed the severity of what it was
doing. The agency also overstated the effectiveness of the methods in
terms of the intelligence they produced. The anonymous U.S. official
briefed on the report, told "The Post" "The CIA described its program
repeatedly both to the Department of Justice and then eventually to
Congress as getting unique, otherwise unobtainable intelligence that helped
disrupt terrorist plots and save thousands of lives.
Was that actually true? The answer is no." According to government sources
the report also revealed a new case of abuse never before disclosed. In
2003 a detainee was taken to a CIA secret prison near Kabul where he was
dumped in a tub of ice water, held forcibly under water and repeatedly
beaten. This brutal method was not on any list of Justice Department
approved interrogation techniques. There is likely more, much more, to
learn from the 6,300-page Senate report. But not everyone will agree on
the panel`s findings. Just last week before any details from the Senate
investigation went public, former vice president staunchly defended the
interrogation program on a college television station.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DICK CHENEY, FMR. U.S. VICE PRESIDENT: . the strong advocate and helped to
put together the enhanced interrogation program, some people call it
torture. It wasn`t torture. We were very careful in all respects to abide
by the law. We got legal opinions out of the Justice Department with
respect to what we could do and what we couldn`t do.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: Cheney went on to tell the same university school newspaper,
quote, "If I would have to do it all over again I would. The results speak
for themselves." On Friday, a former CIA official who ran the CIA
interrogation program wrote this in an op-ed in "The Washington Post."
Quote, "I know that it produced critical intelligence that helped decimate
al Qaeda and save American lives. Committee staff members started with the
conclusion in 2009 and have chased supportive evidence ever since. They
never spoke to me or other top CIA leaders involved in the program or let
us see the report. The CIA will now finally get a chance to review the
report and raise its objections. There have already been sparks flying
between the Senate and the CIA.
Last month, Senator Feinstein accused the agency of illegally spying on
Senate staffers carrying out the investigation. But in the coming weeks,
we should get a much clearer picture of the length that the agency went to
in order to get information from detainees as well as the lengths they went
to, to sell the American public on them. Here to discuss all of this, we
have Elise Jordan, she`s a contributor at "The Daily Beast," a former
communications director at the National Security Council under the Bush
Administration, Rick Hertzberg from "The New Yorker," still here, Adam
Serwer, reporter for MSNBC.com. And joining us on remote, we have Senator
Angus King, an independent from Maine who serves on the Senate Intelligence
Senator King, I`ll start with you. President Obama has said he wants to
declassify this, your committee has voted to share at least some of this
with the public. If you get your way, if that happens, if the public does
get to see the summary, does get to see the conclusions, what do you think
the biggest takeaway from this will be for the public when they get to see
SEN. ANGUS KING, (I) MAINE: Well, Steve, I want to answer your question,
but I`ve got to make three quick points first. One is the context. People
were afraid and the atmosphere was very tense back in 2001. We just had
3,000 people murdered. That doesn`t excuse what happened in any way, but
it does help to explain it. The second thing is there are lots of really
good people in the CIA. It makes me nervous when we talk about the CIA did
this or did that. Certain people did some pretty bad things, which we`ll
discuss. And the third piece is, we need intelligence in this world. Now,
having said all that, I sat and re-read the entire report last week, the
entire executive summary, which is the world`s longest executive summary,
481 pages. It`s shocking and, frankly, I was stunned to hear that quote
from Vice President Cheney just now.
If he doesn`t think that was torture, I would invite him anywhere in the
United States to sit in a water board and go through what those people went
through, one of them 100-plus-odd times. That`s ridiculous to make that
claim. This was torture by anybody`s definition. John McCain said it`s
torture and I think he`s in a better position to know that than Vice
President Cheney. I was shocked at that statement that he just made, and
to say that it was carefully managed and carefully -- everybody knew what
was going on, that`s absolute nonsense. If you go through the report, it`s
clear that the people that were doing this weren`t being honest, even with
their superiors at the White House, at the upper branches of the CIA, the
Office of Legal Counsel, the attorney general or Congress of the United
States, the National Security Advisor.
That`s one of the really bad things about this. What they did was bad, but
then to misrepresent it the way they did throughout a number of years,
that`s what`s really the worst thing. And then you move on from there to
say how can the Congress trust this agency that they`re supposed to be
overseeing if you have this history of repeated misrepresentation? So,
sorry to be sort of wound up on this, but I couldn`t believe that quote
from Vice President Cheney.
KORNACKI: Well, I want to play another quote from you, and this is from
one of your colleagues in the committee, this is Saxby Chambliss, a
Republican from Georgia. As I understand he did vote along with you to
release this, but there`s also the panel`s minority report, which comes to
apparently a very different conclusion. I just want to play Saxby
Chambliss here and get you respond to it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. SAXBY CHAMBLISS (R) GEORGIA: As we point out specifically in the
minority report that there was information gleaned from this program, which
led not only to the takedown of bin Laden, but to the interruption and
disruption of other terrorist plots over a period of years.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: And it just -- it just seems to me all indications are the
report that`s going to be released is going to say, you know, there`s no
link between torture and getting bin Laden. There`s no link between
torture and significant disruption of al Qaeda. How can a senator sitting
on the same committee as you looking at the same information reach such a
radically different conclusion?
KING: Well, the good news answer to that question, if there`s any good
news at all here, is that the American people are going to be able to make
up their own minds. The report -- the essence of the 481-page report is a
meticulous deconstruction of each claim, all of the major claims that the
CIA made that this was effective. And it basically goes through -- they
reviewed 6 million pages of documents and it goes through and documents in
many cases was the information available from that witness before the
torture took place? And the answer in virtually every case is yes. So,
you know, this isn`t he said/she said. The American people are going to be
able to look at it and I hope that we can also declassify the CIA`s
response, which is also covered in the more than 2,000 footnotes in that
executive summary. So that people can look and say, see for themselves,
OK, when did they get this evidence and did it come from the torture? I
don`t think you can say categorically zero material came out of those
But the vast majority, I think as I read the report I got more and more
angry because it was clear that the vast majority of the information that
was claimed to have come from the torture, they either had before from
another source or they had from the same source when he was interviewed by
the FBI or the CIA before the torture commenced.
KORNACKI: So, Elise, I want to pick up on that point then. In this
report, it is basically coming to conclusion, look, the information that
was gleaned from torture, could have been -- in almost every instance
obtained without the torture. If people in the CIA were aware of this,
what was the reason for the persistence of this program if basically
everybody knew it wasn`t that effective?
ELISE JORDAN, THE DAILY BEAST: Well, what I think is going to be
interesting is actually when the report comes out what, you know, what the
truth behind it because as, you know, this senator just said, the - he
thinks that there are misrepresentations about what the White House
actually knew. And President Bush`s book it stated that three terrorists
were water boarded, that 100 detainees were part of the CIA`s program and
one-third were subjected to enhanced interrogation techniques. So, I will
be interested if this report says otherwise. I think, though, what is most
interesting about this entire debate is that it`s not OK to slap or to
rough up or to water board, but it`s OK to outright kill, which is what the
Obama administration policy has been. There`s been only one high-value
target captured the entire presidency and drone strikes have taken out
about over 2,000 militants and unknown civilians.
So that -- like what is -- we are having this big, you know, it becomes
this big politicized debate, but I think that we are really missing the
KORNACKI: Adam, what do you make of that comparison she just made between?
ADAM SERWER, MSNBC.COM: Well, I think it`s really important to make a
distinction between custodianship. And this is no defense of the drone
program. But I think it`s important to make a distinction between
custodial treatment of a neutralized detainee, someone who is in our
custody and doesn`t pose a danger to anyone because they`re restrained and
lethal force out on the battlefield. I`m not going to say that I agree
with everything the administration is doing. That I think that drone
program is a good idea, but how you treat someone who is in your custody is
very different from how you treat someone who could potentially still pose
a threat and is still independent and acting on their own.
KORNACKI: And Rick, you know, the Justice Department looked into this a
couple of years ago and basically decided, you know, no prosecution for
many of these. What you are hearing about what might be -- what seems to
be in this report, do you look back at the last two years of where we`ve
sort of taken stock of what happened in the wake of 9/11 and the
revelations have come out about the torture that took place? Do you think
prosecutions should have come out of this?
HERTZBERG: Well, it`s easy to understand why President Obama did not want
to go there, as it were, when he took office and open up an enormous
political battle over the past. But that`s had a high cost. And I
completely agree with what Adam said about this moral difference between
lethal force on the battlefield and torture. And we have to stick to that
word, enhanced interrogation techniques is an Orwellian phrase that is
chillingly off. These torture methods that we used are things that we have
prosecuted people for as war criminals in a war where there were millions
being killed. And so the debate, the debate is completely framed around
was it effective? If it was effective, then it was OK. Of course that`s
the hardest question. If it`s ineffective and it`s torture, then it`s easy
to be against it.
JORDAN: It sounds like we won`t even know from this report whether it was
effective. But it doesn`t matter if it was effective. We shouldn`t have
been doing it.
KORNACKI: Senator King is saying, he`s saying point by point that he is -
- that it becomes clear in the report that the information that was
obtained could have been obtained without torture. Am I correctly stating
what you said, senator?
KING: Yes. It`s not could have been, it was. It`s - and that`s the
essence of the report. I mean you all are going to be able, and the
American people are going to be able to go through it and say, OK, here is
case number 17 that the CIA claimed justified this program, or case number
12, or whatever it was. They went through an excruciating detail. A
report is an amazing job of research. As I say, they went through 6
million documents, cables, emails, communications between the headquarters
and the field and that was the central question in the bulk of the report
was did that information come from the torture or was that information
available to them and, in fact, was made available by the very witnesses in
many cases before they went into the torture sessions? So that`s really
what the report is all about.
And I think -- and that`s what, as I read through it page by page by
page, the overall impression that built up to me was that the people who
had done this were desperate to justify it and they were misleading
everybody. Now I was about to say on this program they were misleading the
president and the vice president. From what the vice president himself
just said a few minutes ago, maybe he was more deeply involved than these
-- than the documents indicate. This is not a political document. They
clearly misled the president. I no longer can say that about the vice
president based on his comments you aired a few minutes ago. I find that
statement that he made pretty amazing.
KORNACKI: All right. That`s an interesting note to end it on. I want to
thank Senator Angus King from Maine for joining us this morning. I
appreciate that. We will pick it up with the panel a little bit more right
KORNACKI: So, I just wanted to put a poll out there. That jumped out at
me. It`s a little old now, it`s December 2012. I don`t know if public
opinion on torture is polled that frequently anymore. But the use of
torture against suspected terrorists who may know details about future
terrorist attacks against the U.S., always or sometimes justified wins with
the plurality, 47 percent, rarely or never justified comes in at 41
percent. So, I guess one of the questions I have is, you know, I mean
Senator King was talking about, you know, the atmosphere in the wake of
9/11 and sort of saying that that understandably led to some of these
excesses, but now we`re more than a decade removed from that. We have, you
know, reports like this coming out. You know, saying, hey, the torture
isn`t going to get us anything. Adam, I wonder if that is going to move
these numbers or if this is just sort of -- this is just sort of the
fixed attitude of the public.
SERWER: Well, look, I wouldn`t be surprised if the numbers didn`t move at
all. You know, in just about 11 years, you know, there`s never been a
claim about the effectiveness of this program that has really stood up to
scrutiny. But there`s an incredible - despite the reputation of pop
culture for being liberal, there`s an incredible sort of almost a pro
torture bias. In our popular -- I mean, you know, you have guys like
Jack Bauer. There`s just an assumption that torture works and also that
it`s sort of an exciting thing and something that heroes sometimes have to
do to get the bad guys to cooperate. So, I really wouldn`t be surprised if
those numbers didn`t move much. You know, but the important thing is that
lawmakers are supposed to be informed and be above those sorts of -- be
above those sorts of issues.
KORNACKI: That is -- it is a hard thing, I think. It`s so
counterintuitive, right, for people, the idea torture doesn`t work.
Because I think everybody just -- whether it`s Hollywood, or just has the
basic assumption if you push somebody far enough they`re going to cough it
up, they`re going to give you - they`re going to give you the details.
It`s just -- I wonder if there could ever really be consensus in this
country, you know, get the moral question aside, is it effective? And then
when you are in the wake of an attack like 9/11, the only thing people care
about is it effective?
HERTZBERG: Well, if only one side is doing the torturing. I mean poison
gas is effective. Poison gas kills people. But we still - there`s still a
strong sense when two countries go to war to not use poison gas. This is
an asymmetrical conflict, the terror war and the use of torture is partly a
result of that asymmetry. There aren`t a whole lot of Americans in
captivity being tortured by al Qaeda. So I think that changes -- that`s
one of the reasons why you get the plurality, not exactly pro-torture
plurality, but torture as seen just as essentially just another weapon of
KORNACKI: So, Elise, this report comes out some time -- well, part of this
report comes out sometime in the next few weeks, the next few months. What
do you think happens then? Where should this debate go then?
JORDAN: Well, I think it`s certainly a debate the country needs to have.
But I also think that we need to look at this report and I do think that it
was somewhat politicized. For all the information they analyzed I don`t
understand why the key participants weren`t interviewed. It just seems
like a glaring .
KORNACKI: The CIA? The CIA people?
JORDAN: Yes, yes. And who have said - stated their willingness to
participate and be part of the process. So I don`t understand why that
critical gap was left. And I think that we have to just as a country weigh
how this process has become politicized and try to look at this as a moral
issue, as a national security issue and just rise above our petty
KORNACKI: Well, that`s - Senator King, you know, who we had on just a
minute ago, that was one thing he was probably critical of this week, was
that the report did not seek out the input from the CIA and that`s part of
one of the sort of the back stories to all of this, Adam, too, is the
tension -- and it really starts to come to the search, but the tension
between Dianne Feinstein and the CIA, the tension between this committee
and the CIA, that`s a big part of the story, too.
SERWER: Right, and, you know, I think in defense of not interviewing any
of the people who have been involved in the program, you know, the CIA now
stands accused by Dianne Feinstein who is not hostile to the intelligence
community, of violating the separation of power. So I don`t think a little
fibbing is beneath them. But I`ll also say that people can lie in a way
that documents can`t. So, I`m not quite as skeptical of the report`s
conclusions based on the lack of interviews for that reason.
KORNACKI: Yeah, he did. Six million documents. That does seem like a
JORDAN: Yeah, but I think there`s a lot of human nuance you miss when you
aren`t interviewing. And, you know, this is at the end of the day a debate
about interrogation practices and why it`s important to interrogate. And
so if we don`t -- and we`re kind of - it just seems like such a glaring
HERTZBERG: As long as they don`t use enhanced techniques.
JORDAN: Oh, yes, exactly.
KORNACKI: All right, all right. Well, my thanks to msnbc.com`s Adam
Serwer, Elise Jordan with "The Daily Beast" and "The New Yorker`s" Rick
Hertzberg. Joy Behar and Dick Cavett are standing by in our agreement to
join us for the biggest story everyone was talking about this week. That`s
KORNACKI: In 1971 on the Dick Cavett show a young decorated Vietnam
veteran named John Kerry who opposed the war he had just returned from, and
the fellow Navy veteran John O`Neill who supported the cause sat down to
debate one of the hottest political issues of the time.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DICK CAVETT: We have tried to be as absolutely fair as possible tonight
because everybody is obviously uptight on that subject. The gentlemen will
each have the same sized chair, the same (INAUDIBLE)
CAVETT: of lighting and neutral makeup lady from Switzerland.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: What followed was a 90-minute debate between the two men and it
needed just that kind of setting, a tough, but friendly atmosphere to cut
through the noise. Coming up, we will talk to the "Late Night" legend
about the relationship between the "Late Night" and politics. Mr. Dick
Cavett himself is here. He will be on the set. That`s next.
KORNACKI: News this week of David Letterman`s retirement didn`t arrive
first to the CBS press release. It came from former REM bass guitar player
Mike Mills who is sitting in on the night`s musical performance and he
tweeted it, "How we seem to get a lot of our news these days. When 30
years ago, when David Letterman started late-night television there wasn`t
even an Internet, of course." The tweet was just a preview of Letterman
himself talking on Thursday about the phone call he`d had with CBS Chairman
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DAVID LETTERMAN, "LATE NIGHT SHOW": I phoned him just before the program
-- and I said Leslie, it`s been great. You`ve been great. The network
has been great, but I`m retiring.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Really?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is - You actually did this?
LETTERMAN: Yes, I did.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Wow.
LETTERMAN: Do I have a minute to call my accountant?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: It`s hard to believe that David Letterman is about to turn 67
years old. The host that may remember watching as they crowded around
their dorm room television sets, doesn`t seem to have lost much relevance
over the decades. He`s been joined over the years by many younger rivals,
lots of them named Jimmy these days. And the "Late Night" market that has
its site set on young viewers. Found the "Late Night" office politics
fascinating to watch. Going back to Letterman`s well documented battle
with Jay Leno for "The Tonight Show" job after Johnny Carson left. To
strange world where much like the White House, the next person in line for
the job is the subject of years of speculation. So, right now the
speculation for who might replace David Letterman in 2015, includes Stephen
Colbert and Neil Patrick Harris and Craig Ferguson, the guy who hosts the
1235 show that follows Letterman on CBS right now.
And then there are the politics on "Late Night" television. For years,
politicians and "Late Night" TV that is strange, but necessary symbiotic
relationships. Hosts like weatherman depend on Washington`s antics to fill
their nightly monologues. No matter how much they may object, come
election time, political candidates all want a spot on that couch, a chance
to reach mainstream America and to show voters a more human side. And when
it works the intersection between Washington and "Late Night" can produce
hilarious, even culturally significant moments. And, of course, when
politicians are taken out of their comfort zone can also make for a
colossal train wrecks like with then presidential candidate George W. Bush
made this appearance on Letterman`s show not long after Dave had quintuple
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LETTERMAN: In Washington campaign, you keep saying you`re a uniter, not a
divider. "I`m a uniter, not a divider." You say that, isn`t that correct?
GEORGE W. BUSH: That`s true.
LETTERMAN: Now what exactly does that mean?
BUSH: It means that when it comes time to sew up your chest cavity, we use
stitches as opposed to opening it up, it`s what that means.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: And there have been moments, in which political debate is so
prevalent it feels more like a cable news show like this exchange between
Letterman and Bill O`Reilly over the Iraq war.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BILL O`REILLY, FOX NEWS HOST: I respect your opinion, you should respect
LETTERMAN: Well, I .
LETTERMAN: But I think - our analysis is .
O`REILLY: But the best evidence we can get.
LETTERMAN: But I think there`s something - This fair and balanced, I`m not
sure that it`s -- I don`t think that you represent an objective viewpoint.
O`REILLY: But you have to give me an example if you`re going to make those
LETTERMAN: But I don`t with watch your show so that wouldn`t be possible.
O`REILLY: Then why would you come to that conclusion .
O`REILLY: Then why would you come to that conclusion if you don`t watch
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: So let`s dig deep into the evolving relationship between "Late
Night" television and politics and for this, I am thrilled to welcome this
morning`s panel. You have Dick Cavett, a former talk show host himself of
"the "Dick Cavett Show," which ran for many years on network television,
also known as author and columnist. And we have Dave Itzkoff, he`s a
culture writer with "The New York Times" and -- more television hosts,
I`m also joined by comedienne Joy Behar. She co-hosted "The View" for over
a decade. Welcome to all of you. This is -- this is a panel I`ve been
most looking forward to O`Reilly guests all weekend, but when we got the
news about Letterman retiring, it sort of made us think about, you know,
the role that his show has played sort of in political culture. And we
have, you know, the example of George W. Bush being on the show in 2000.
And just in general these late-night shows whether it`s Letterman`s or
anyone else`s have become almost necessary campaign stops for candidates
aspiring to office, for politicians who hold office. It seems to be this
is their preferred way to sort of communicate outside of the Washington
DAVE CAVETT, FMR. TALK SHOW HOST: And it`s risky for them because some of
them are so dreadfully bad at it?
CAVETT: You can see that they have taken coaching class of how to bear on
a show and one of the first rules you can always see happen is, that`s an
excellent question. They always say that at least once or twice. By the
way, yours was.
KORNACKI: Oh, thank you.
JOY BEHAR, FORMER TALK SHOW HOST: You know, a long time ago before Vice
President Biden was Vice President Biden, I ran into him in Florida. And
first of all, he`s a close talker, which I enjoy about him. His breath was
BEHAR: But he said to me, he said, you`re a comedian and blah, blah, blah.
He said, I am more nervous about going on Jon Stewart than I`m about going
on "Meet the Press." I thought that was very telling. They`re scared of
comedians because comedians, first of all, you know, we don`t have any
filter. And we edit - our edit buttons are on hold and we just go there.
We have nothing to lose, really. So they`re scared of us and they should
CAVETT: Today - you`re absolutely right about that. And I have this sort
of high tone theory that humor is complete intelligence. And how many
politicians have complete intelligence?
BEHAR: They don`t. Well, you just saw George Bush. So .
KORNACKI: Yeah, and what you saw with him there was, he`s on the comedy
show and he`s trying to be funny.
KORNACKI: And it just doesn`t work.
BEHAR: Are you sure? He`s just shown somebody his new paintings. That`s
CAVETT: And he was funny in other ways like his humorous wars that he
KORNACKI: Well, there`s that. But is the - can politicians be funny when
they go on these shows or is the best advice to them just to sort of, you
know, let the comedian be funny, play the straight man? That sort of
DAVE ITZKOFF, THE NEW YORK TIMES: For anything, they weren`t supposed to
be totally dead pan. I mean the classic example is Richard Nixon going on
laughing and saying, sock it to me?
ITZKOFF: You know, you`ve got it just basically .
KORNACKI: Stressing the wrong word.
BEHAR: The main thing, just to make fun of yourself like Romney did, maybe
you`ll show that clip of the top ten on Letterman. He basically made fun
of himself and that endeared him to, you know, maybe one percent of the
CAVETT: And Joy, haven`t you heard in the trade that Nixon`s appearance on
laughing really was a huge help to him? George (INAUDIBLE) goes around and
saying what have I done?
CAVETT: It`s been enough getting the upgrade on the diet coke conspirator
like the president.
BEHAR: But there are still warmongers and everybody knows it. So, I don`t
KORNACKI: But you say, it`s just being on a popular culture show like
that, people saw a different side of him and it`s kind of humanized him?
CAVETT: Yeah. Yeah. Because, you know, his jolliness was not his middle
CAVETT: Always hoping I could get him on where he would say you`re
entitled to your opinion.
CAVETT: Gee, I am and when did that start?
CAVETT: Thanks for the news.
BEHAR: When I was on "The View" a lot of these people would not come on
the show. They were scared of us, mostly me. But still - still .
KORNACKI: Well, yeah, you had some -- I mean every few days that
somebody would send a clip around to me, like you`ve got to see what just
happens on "The View."
BEHAR: "The View" was a dangerous place for politicians.
BEHAR: I think they felt that anyway. I mean we were fair and balanced,
you know, I just ask the question that everybody wants to ask. Like why
are you running ads that are lies? Things like that. And they don`t like
ITZKOFF: If you would say -- you would say, it was on your mind, you
wouldn`t necessarily agree to, you know, a preset list of questions or a
specific topic which often for a news show candidate will come on just
wanting to focus on one issue. A comedian basically has free rein to do
what they want with their program, and it`s that lack of format that`s
BEHAR: Well, the thing that`s really ridiculous about that whole idea, is
that, you know, if you`re Sarah Palin, and she didn`t want to come on "The
View." She said I was too hard on her. If you are afraid to come on the
show with me, how were you going to handle Putin? That is my question for
all these politicians.
KORNACKI: Well, you -- so -- now, you "The View" handled the guests,
you know, the politician guests differently than, like, letterman and Leno.
We have the awkward moment with George W. Bush and I think there`s another
appearance by George W. Bush in that campaign where it was a little tense
between them. But generally on the "Late Night" shows you see it on Leno,
on Letterman when the politicians go on those shows it seems more like
there`s a little coordination ahead of time where, you know, hey, I`ll make
this joke, I`ll do the top ten list for you.
KORNACKI: Where your show was a little bit more they`re walking into a
bees` nest potentially.
CAVETT: A couple of times when I was - it was clear that the politician
had tried to find a comedy writer, and - but their delivery was deadly.
CAVETT: And it was - it was really kind of sad.
BEHAR: Obama is good. Obama is funny.
ITZKOFF: Yeah, when he goes.
BEHAR: President Obama is good. I`m sorry.
CAVETT: Oh, he`s show worthy. I mean show hip. But Ms. Ayn Rand .
BEHAR: She`s hilarious.
BEHAR: A comedy legend.
CAVETT: She was just working out her abortion circuit act.
CAVETT: She said a list -- what would you do with this - 15 conditions
for her coming appearance, and the final one was, you`re going to laugh, I
hope, there will be no disagreeing with Ms. Rand.
BEHAR: What happens to the individual idea?
CAVETT: Yeah. Well, I took that sheet and I wrote on the bottom, not only
that there will be no Miss Rand.
CAVETT: Sent back to - and that was -- and the old bag never -- I mean
-- the dear lady never came up.
KORNACKI: Now, you have - your show was -- you started out working with
Johnny Carson and then you got your own "Late Night" show. And, of course,
the Carson show evolved through the years, and late night television
evolved through the years, but your model for late-night television, I
think it was different than what we see now with Letterman and Leno.
CAVETT: That`s an excellent remark.
CAVETT: It`s totally different. A young woman last night, I`m doing a
play off Broadway for another week, and she came up and said what would
your advice be to someone like me who wants to do it? I said, I don`t have
any because it`s the totally new world now. It`s nothing like what it was
in my young day. You wanted to watch a talk show it was either Jack Parr,
Jack Parr, or Jack Parr.
BEHAR: That`s right.
CAVETT: And there was nobody else. And today, (INAUDIBLE) years ago had
found a study that said that by 19 or whatever everyone in America would
have his own talk show. He was a little early.
BEHAR: He was right.
CAVETT: There is no honor day.
BEHAR: And -- I know, and with the Internet now, everybody has got
something. I don`t understand something about this demographics, you know,
looking for younger viewers as you were saying before. My understanding is
that younger viewers are watching their television on their computers. And
older people are watching television. So why aren`t they raising that -
the demographic up to, like, 50 and above or 40 and up?
KORNACKI: That`s a good question. And Joy, I mean, you know .
CAVETT: Playing off, Joy. Where does the assumption come from that young
people have all the money?
ITZKOFF: Young people are the one that aren`t tied down to any particular
KORNACKI: That`s what they always say. Yes.
BEHAR: Change their mind.
ITZKOFF: We will spend our money basically on anything.
BEHAR: So, I`ve been using (INAUDIBLE) for about ten years.
BEHAR: How about .
KORNACKI: Well, we`ve got to squeeze a break in here. I want to talk
about where "Late Night" television is going now with, you know, Leno step
down, Letterman is stepping down. So where "Late Night" television is
going and also .
CAVETT: Letterman is stepping down?
KORNACKI: Sorry we had to break the news for you.
CAVETT: I`ve been out of the country for 30 years.
KORNACKI: And Joy had an encounter with Chris Christie recently. We are
also going to show you a clip from that.
BEHAR: Your favorite.
KORNACKI: This show is his favorite.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BEHAR: Let me take a moment to thank Governor Christie for hosting this
event. It was very brave of him. I mean he`s had a very few -- a few
tough, tough, right, sir, some tough weeks -- don`t look at me like that.
You`re scaring me.
GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R) NEW JERSEY: Just go through the cards.
BEHAR: Stop it. Don`t bully me. Don`t bully me. You know, I don`t care
how pissed are you - with these jokes, Governor Christie. First of all,
you can do the worst you want on me. I`m taking mass transit home.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: That was our guest Joy Behar. There was a roast in New Jersey
for former governors -- not Christie, but a former governor`s 90th birthday
this week. Chris Christie was there.
BEHAR: Brendan Byrne`s 90th birthday.
KORNACKI: Brendan Byrne`s 90th birthday. Just tell us a little bit more
about here. He didn`t seem too happy with you .
BEHAR: Well, somebody put it into her head -- I think it was Brendan
Byrne`s wife, to have a roast. These people who had no idea what they were
BEHAR: They don`t understand that it`s brutal -- it`s brutal stuff. I
mean those were .
CAVETT: They thought they were coming for a meal.
BEHAR: They did.
CAVETT: To have a roast.
BEHAR: You know, and he was sitting on the dais -- and he, I don`t think
he understood, also, that when you`re on the dais it`s open season on you,
too. They did jokes about me. You know? So you take it. You sit there
and you just -- you smile.
CAVETT: But Joy, have you had any second thoughts about asking him when
you step on a scale does a card come out, saying, please, one at a time?
KORNACKI: Oh, no. On that note, I want to get assessment about sort of
where "Late Night" television is going now in the wake of David
Letterman`s, you know, David Letterman`s stepping down. There was a lot of
talk -- I know when Leno stepped down, and I can`t remember the article but
there was a Republican -- it was quoted and sort of lamenting that Leno
was stepping down because they said the Republicans felt that Leno`s venue
was the safe venue for Republican candidates to go on, that he gave them -
- it was sort of a softest venue. And Letterman`s -- more edgy, you
know, a little less predictable, obviously this means like "The View" was a
totally different ball game.
KORNACKI: But with Letterman stepping down, with Leno stepping down, for
politics and "Late Night", you know, what does it look like?
ITZKOFF: Yeah, I mean as you were saying it`s certainly Leno created a
very kind of safe space for, you know, candidates of all stripes. And you
see that being continued even on shows like, you know, Jimmy Fallon where
you can have Mitt Romney come on and slow jam the news and Obama can do the
same. I think it`s almost incumbent upon, you know, the current hosts.
They don`t really -- they haven`t cultivated the same kind of snarky
personality that Letterman had. You know, they know that they have to kind
of run a more even keel to get, you know, the really, you know, high-
powered political guests. And if you have a perception of having any kind
of political strife one way or the other that`s going to alienate one side
or the other.
BEHAR: But you know, but you need somebody like that.
ITZKOFF: Oh, sure.
BEHAR: For late night. You know, you can`t have everybody be amiable. I
mean I`m going to miss that, frankly. I need to see that. I need somebody
who will take the politicians on. I like Jon Stewart does, you know, and
Colbert. Those guys are still doing it. Not doing it on network.
ITZKOFF: Exactly. That guys are basic cable guys.
KORNACKI: Is the concern still -- I mean I know we are in this universe
where cable and network are becoming increasingly indistinguishable. But
is the concern still like from a broadcast network standpoint you`ve got to
think about -- we`ve got Republicans in the audience, we`ve got Democrats
in the audience, we don`t want to do anything that makes us the Democratic
show or the Republican show.
BEHAR: But you should do jokes on both of them because they both deserve
it really. I mean, you know, Democrats have sex scandals up the wazoo.
BEHAR: And delighted when that happens because that`s more material for
us. So go there. You know, and the Republicans have to take their shots,
too. I mean that`s the way it is.
KORNACKI: But when the guests come on, you`re saying - this idea of -- I
think we saw it with Romney when he was on. I forgot when it was, he was
on one recently. But it`s certainly like they coordinate something ahead
of time and Romney comes off looking good. It was a funny thing. It was
definitely a funny thing.
KORNACKI: But you`re saying you want the edge, you want the host to make
it a little uncomfortable for the guest in the late night .
BEHAR: I think that they should learn to deal with comedians. As I said,
if you want to deal with foreign leaders, you should learn to deal with
ITZKOFF: They just had Sarah Palin on Jimmy Fallon this week in a comedy
skit. And that`s -- I mean, that`s a really challenging booking. And
the only way you can do something like that, I think, is you have to create
a safe space where that person feels like, you know, they`re going to get
to be, you know, in on the joke as opposed to made fun of. And that`s the
BEHAR: Sure, but she tried that on "Saturday Night Live" and it backfired
really I thought. She- remember when she went on "SNL."
CAVETT: Oh, yes.
BEHAR: She was just terrible. She looked worse than ever.
CAVETT: She is good at backfiring.
BEHAR: Well, when you say things like I can see Russia from my house, it`s
open season, I`m sorry, darling.
CAVETT: I still get flak from where I wrote about her in my time zone
column, which was she seems she had no first language.
BEHAR: It`s true. It`s English as a second language. Like George Bush.
KORNACKI: So, what about this idea that the difference between Letterman
and Leno that the two, you know, sort of, the big names in late-night for
the last generation, really, that Leno was the nice one who created that
safe space and the appeal, and obviously won the ratings battle. He always
-- he was basically always beating Letterman in that. But Letterman was
sort of the sharper, edgier one, you weren`t quite sure what you were going
KORNACKI: Which show was better?
CAVETT: Yeah. Well, I don`t know. I prefer the Lettermanese sort of
attitude. I`ve known Jay for years and I like him very much. But of the
two, I would prefer the variety of opinion, and Letterman is so damn smart
and witty, genuinely witty. Not just comedy, but wit, which is rare.
Wonderful that way. Stephen Colbert has done one of the most astounding
feats in the history of television, like what everybody said was a career
mistake, don`t try to maintain a character over more than three weeks,
you`ll be out of a job. And under that character, getting to know him, he
is so damn intelligent. And so smart.
KORNACKI: And that`s interesting. So, he`s being mentioned as, you know,
a possible successor for Letterman. Would he do it in character or, if he
wasn`t in character, could it work?
BEHAR: I don`t think anybody really knows yet. You know, I think .
KORNACKI: And who would that be if he`s not in character?
ITZKOFF: Yeah. I mean there are so many names that are really being
tossed around right now. I mean he`s one of them, Neil Patrick Harris is
another. You know, you would like to maybe hear, you know, some really
maybe out of left field candidates too. I mean wouldn`t it be nice to
finally have a woman in an 11:35 slot.
BEHAR: That`s not going to happen.
KORNACKI: Why won`t that happen?
BEHAR: Well, because look at the track record. It just doesn`t happen.
And everybody`s a male. They`re all male except for Chelsea and Chelsea`s
leaving now too. So .
KORNACKI: So, to say, Amy Poehler?
BEHAR: Amy Poehler`s not a stand-up, but she could do it. I mean she`s
funny. But they`re all funny. These women should have these jobs, but I
think that there`s some kind of conventional wisdom at the network levels
that only the young boys are watching late-night television or something.
You know, I`m not sure. But you`ve never seen a woman in that spot. Joan
Rivers did it --
KORNACKI: She tried. Right.
BEHAR: It didn`t - it worked for a while, and then something happened, it
didn`t work for a minute, and that was the end of it. Like, OK, a woman
can`t do it. You know, one woman failed, so another woman can .
KORNACKI: And she was going up against Johnny Carson, too, which was a --
at its peak.
BEHAR: Well, she knows - she was on, what was it -- Fallon`s? What was
she on the other day?
ITZKOFF: She finally got to go on Fallon.
BEHAR: On Fallon, right? And that was the first time .
KORNACKI: Oh, that was her - because Carson like blacklisted her.
I mean we`ve got to squeeze one more break in. And some final thoughts
right after this.
KORNACKI: We have just a couple of seconds remaining. Just enough time to
go around. I was going to ask, you know, who your dream replacement would
be for Letterman. I don`t know if you all have opinions on that, or just
in general, you know, CBS has now got this Late Show that`s sort of an
institution there, for 20 years, should they keep the Letterman format and
just find somebody new for it or just find a new show?
BEHAR: Well, what they`ll probably do is they`ll find somebody new and
they`ll have them sit on mailboxes or something and that will be the new
BEHAR: No, but let`s change the format, you know, let them sit on, you
know, a tuft.
CAVETT: You took it out of my mouth. I threatened to have a guest sit on
blocks of ice --
BEHAR: That`s good, too.
ITZKOFF: How is it going to be new and different?
CAVETT: There`s nothing new and different. People sit, talk, act,
perform, music, band, that`s it.
KORNACKI: Dave, who`s the next host going to be?
ITZKOFF: You know, I want to believe that right now Louis C.K. is
privately training with David Lynch for his audition, as he sort of
foretold on his Louis (ph) show. He anticipated that.
KORNACKI: That`s right.
ITZKOFF: Letterman was going to retire and he would be given an audition
that he didn`t really want. So, maybe that`s -- it`s actually being
recreated in real life.
KORNACKI: He didn`t really want, but he kind of does want, because he did
-- Yeah, OK. We`ll see if that happens. I want to thank comedian Joy
Behar, Dick Cavett and Dave Itzkoff, thank you for getting up. This was a
really fun conversation.
BEHAR: Thank you.
KORNACKI: Thank you for joining us. We will be back next weekend,
Saturday and Sunday at 8:00 a.m. Eastern time. But right now, Melissa
Harris is coming up next. On "MPH" today, Tony S.U. Coach, (ph) the
acclaimed coach who`s been taking part in a fascinating debate about race
and politics in America. It`s a complicated one, certainly one worth
having. He`ll be talking more about that with Melissa today and you will
not want to miss it. That`s next. Thanks for getting up. Have a great
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY
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