All In With Chris Hayes, Thursday, April 10th, 2014
Read the transcript from the Thursday show
ALL IN with CHRIS HAYES
April 10, 2014
Guests: Brittney Cooper, Jonathan Chait, Kavita Patel, Ellen Weintraub,
CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: Good evening from New York. I am Chris
Hayes, and it is great to be back.
Breaking news tonight from Washington. NBC News has confirmed that
after five years, from the rocky but ultimately successful implementation
of Obamacare, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius will
announce her resignation tomorrow.
The White House is already putting out the name of her replacement and
the responses from the right are coming fast and furious. We will have a
full report ahead.
Meanwhile today, many of the country`s top political figures continue
to congregate in Austin, Texas, at the Lyndon B. Johnson Presidential
Library to mark the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act. Everyone
from John Lewis to Haley Barbour to George W. Bush has gathered to
commemorate the landmark legislation.
The star attraction was, of course, the nation`s first black
president, Barack Obama.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: In a time when cynicism
is too often passed off as wisdom, it`s perhaps easy to conclude that there
are limits to change, that we are trapped by our own history. And politics
is a fool`s errand. And we`d be better off if we rolled back big chunks of
LBJ`s legacy, or at least if we don`t put too much of our hope, invest too
much of our hope in our government. I reject such thinking.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: The president took the podium to speak of the progress of
civil rights in this country in a very specific moment of his presidency, a
moment when the discussion about race and progress is front and center in
the national dialogue. We`ve been, of course, talking about the race from
the Obama era from the moment Barack Obama declared for his candidacy.
That debate is getting louder and louder and louder, and over the last
several weeks, it has positively exploded.
After Texas Congressman Louie Gohmert picked a very public fight with
Attorney General Eric Holder during a committee hearing this week. Holder
appeared at Al Sharpton`s National Action Network and went off script to
reflect on the incident and what might actually have been behind it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ERIC HOLDER, ATTORNEY GENERAL: You look at the way the attorney
general of the United States was treated yesterday by a House committee.
It had nothing to do with me. Forget that. What attorney general has ever
of had to deal with that kind of treatment? What president has ever had to
deal with that kind of treatment?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: And today, even the president said something that was, I
thought, really quite uncharacteristic, something that stuck with me amidst
the platitudes and cliche that is often appear at an event like this. The
president said this -- he said history is not guaranteed to move forward.
Not at all.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: We are here today because we know we cannot be complacent.
For history travels not only forwards, history can travel backwards.
History can travel sideways. And securing the gains this country has made
requires the vigilance of its citizens.
Our rights, our freedoms, they are not given. They must be won. They
must be nurtured through struggle and discipline.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: As if on cue, conservative firebrand Michelle Malkin at which
she responded by asking of the president`s comments if he was, quote, "back
on the crack pipe."
But as difficult as it may be, let`s forget for a second about what
Michelle Malkin and other conservatives are saying on Twitter. Let`s even
forget for a moment what Eric Holder and Barack Obama himself are saying
because in all the discussion and debate about racism and race and
accusations of racism and whether Eric Holder has it worse than Janet Reno
or if Barack Obama has it worse than Bill Clinton.
There are some basic, really basic facts out there about what this
country looks like, what it looks like through the prism of race, that
press themselves upon us. Questions about whether or not history will
travel forward about what history will write about this era. Indeed, there
is the very real question about whether in the era of the first black
president what we call racial progress has stalled, whether we are watching
before our eyes and probably at this moment history move in reverse at the
very moment of one of the peak achievements of the civil rights movement,
the presidency of a man named Barack Obama.
And if that seems to you like an outlandish question posed, just look
at what has happened over the last several decades. The progress that was
made to desegregate our schools after the Civil Rights Act has been almost
entirely reversed. Today, almost three-quarters of black children attend
schools that are over 50 percent nonwhite. Now, keep in mind, the modern
civil rights era began in 1954 with the historic Brown v. Board decision
declaring du jour segregation unconstitutional, and now, look where we are
60 years later.
The incarceration rate of black men has skyrocketed since 1960,
jumping 230 percent far outpacing the rate for white men, and millions of
African Americans are living in poverty, 28 percent of African-Americans
are living below the poverty line. That`s double the percentage for non-
Hispanic white people.
And you can go down statistic after statistic from arrests to
unemployment to income inequality to a wealth gap that is actually getting
worse right now. That, to me, is a story of civil rights in the 21st
century of race in the Obama era, not who called whom what.
But the persistent gap that separates white people from black and
brown folks across almost every single last category of social attainment -
- those facts, that information, that is why the president is warning us
that progress is not a given and he is, I would submit, very much right.
Joining me now is Brittney Cooper, assistant professor at Rutgers
University and contributing writer to "Salon."
And Jonathan Chait, columnist for "New York Magazine", author of this
week`s cover story, "The Color of His Presidency", which has sparked a lot
of debate online. Jonathan has been involved in a spirited debate with my
friend, Ta-Nehisi Coates, about race in the Obama era.
And, Jonathan, I guess I want to start with you.
JONATHAN CHAIT, NEW YORK MAGAZINE: OK.
HAYES: So you have this thesis that basically one of the things
that`s happened in the Obama era is liberals, this network, for instance,
over read race into everything, that we see opposition to Barack Obama, and
we see in that opposition this implacable determined opposition from the
right, things that look to us unprecedented. We see in that in every image
of those House votes. We see Bull Connor. In every image, we see George
Wallace standing in the door, right, when he doesn`t belong there. That we
are reading into what is not a racial story, a racial story at every turn.
That is sort of part of the thesis, right?
CHAIT: Well, no, I don`t say it`s not a racial story. That`s
important. What I say is, it is a racial story, that the liberal analysis
in the Obama age has gotten increasingly racial and that`s completely
correct, that liberals have come to understand that white racism is deeply
embedded historically and psychologically and sociologically with
But what I also say is, at some point, you can take that idea and make
that your only way of looking at politics and that can lead you aground,
that makes you unable sometimes to deal with ideas on their own terms. And
that can create a kind of poisonous dynamic.
Now, it`s not solely responsible or even mostly responsible for a lot
of the poisons the dynamics of race but I do think there is an element of
responsibility, an element, not a majority, that liberals have to take to
themselves to treat their opponents fairly and sometimes to try to
understand the way people think, the way your opponents think and really
try to take it not always at face value but really try to understand it
HAYES: It seems to me, Brittney, and you`ve been involved in this
debate. You wrote a great piece in "Salon" respond to go my friend and
colleague Michelle Goldberg, sort of on related issues.
This is very, like, fascinating thing happening online right now in
this moment. I think partly because of -- we`re heading towards the
midterms partly because the Barack Obama legacy as a presidency is coming
into clearer focus as we kind of get through the Obamacare implementation.
First, I want you to respond to Jonathan, what do you think about this
responsibility not to over read race into things and to give a kind of
charitable and fair benefit of the doubt to one`s ideological opponents
that they are not always sort of motivated by racial animus or the
structures of white supremacy?
BRITTNEY COOPER, ASST. PROF. RUTGERS UNIV.: I think that is based on
an entirely too charitable reading of history. The sort of narrative of
conservatism in this country has always been deeply tethered to this idea
about who we want to be as a nation and that is deeply tied up in our
understandings of race and racism. And so, in the piece that I worked for
"Salon" this week, I talked about this in terms of what happens during the
post-reconstruction moment when there`s a sort of rollback.
HAYES: Basically, we have progress --
COOPER: Right, and then we have massive backlash and it comes from
the right. So, the liberals sort of ethos is one of inclusion and we see
all kinds of inclusion happening at the policy level. And then all after
sudden we get this massive backlash from the right that the left kind of
And it`s unclear to me why we don`t think this is happening exactly in
the same ways again.
HAYES: That is a very provocative analogy, right, because
reconstruction has a kind of generous specific point in American history
and strikes me that`s the kind of thing -- the kind of metaphor that makes
you, Jonathan, uncomfortable, right? This is precisely the thing we`re
doing. Everything we see is a civil war, the civil rights era, or
CHAIT: No. That doesn`t make me uncomfortable. I mean, it makes me
uncomfortable saying we`re moving backwards the. I think in the Obama era
we`re moving forwards and not merely the election of President Obama, but
the policy achievements of President Obama are helping the country move
Now, you showed some statistics at the outset which suggest regress,
but I also think there are a lot of statistics that show progress, the
black/white student achievement gap is shrinking. The black poverty rate
is shrinking. The rate at which African-Americans suffer violent assault
has been shrinking over several decades. So, some things are moving in the
wrong direction and some are moving forward this has been a good era for
African-Americans as well as other Americans.
HAYES: Here are the things I would say that are converging.
Life expectancy is actually converging, right? So, there`s a huge gap
Educational attainment is converging. There`s still a big gap but it
And you`re right, victimization by violent crime largely because crime
has dropped so precipitously has converged, although I should be clear, in
all three areas, there`s a big gap but there`s convergence along those
CHAIT: Right. Moving in the right direction, right?
HAYES: What has not converged, this is wealth. This, to me, is a
really like stunning thing to see. That is not a converging graph.
HAYES: That is the gap in average wealth. That number you see at the
top, which is average family wealth for white, non-Hispanic folks is at
$600,000. What you see there at the bottom for Hispanic and black non-
Hispanic families is something in the neighborhood of about $50,000.
That is -- and that -- no statistic to me, Brittney, more shows the
accumulated weight of history than wealth, because wealth is the thing that
is built over time and wealth is something that has been systematically
drawn out of black communities for generation after generation.
COOPER: Right. And so my concern is why are we being told that we
have to be wed to this narrative of progress when it`s not showing up
materially? So, if black boys are still being killed with impunity, if
black leaders are still being disrespected by colleagues who at least in
our political theater usually there`s at least a certain level of respect
even if there`s heated and spirited debate.
But at every fundamental level, just because we`re moving to
convergence, folks that are materially experiencing these gaps right now
are not experiencing the results of that convergence. And I think one
additional point to make here that`s very important is that part of the
problem is that we keep arguing that this narrative is a narrative about
intent, about ferreting out the sort the of racist intent on the left and
And my argument is in tandem with the statistic you show, which is
that we don`t have to talk about intent. We can talk about disparate
COOPER: And that demands that we --
HAYES: And, in fact -- in fact, that is -- that is precisely this
debate over intent versus impact that is at the heart of the voting rights
jurisprudence, right? Which the voting rights act, one of the geniuses of
the voting rights act was, you don`t have it to prove intent. You just
have to show that impact disparately.
That, of course, act has been gutted now but the chief justice
appointed by George W. Bush who was speaking today at the civil rights
summit. Just so that all gets brought full circle around.
Jonathan, there`s some really interesting data that you bring up in
that essay. To me, the thing, and I actually have to -- let me be honest
here, the racial prism I used to analyze American politics has grown
sharper and I think in some ways more pessimistic in the Obama era. I will
cop to that unquestionably. Like I do think and see things more thoroughly
through the prism of race.
CHAIT: So do I.
HAYES: I think that`s been foisted upon me by the facts in some way.
And one of the most clarifying fights for me has been this Medicaid
expansion, because it really does feel like if you look at the map -- the
map of the states that aren`t expanding Medicaid like, you know, you see
the heartland of the country. That is very red. And then you see that
region that`s got a similar part to it that is basically the South, that is
the Deep South. And that`s a region of the country in which the Medicaid
rips are predominantly people of color.
And that fight, to me, that feels like a racial -- that feels like one
of those fights where I`m reading race in. No one is calling it racial,
but when I look at the statistics and when I look at the fact that Kentucky
and West Virginia have expanded and basically have no black people, I
cannot help but see race in that fight.
CHAIT: I totally agree and I cite that issue as something you can
legitimately read race into. But the problem is almost all these issues
you can read race into. The Republican Party is nearly all white
coalition. The Democratic Party is a much more diverse coalition.
So, all these fights are going to pit these coalitions against each
other. The problem is when you can go to almost any issue and see a racial
dynamic, and I really think you can, and you can legitimately, then you
have to say, well, there`s some duty that consider these issues outside of
that context as well.
HAYES: Brittany Cooper from Rutgers University, Jonathan Chait from
"New York Magazine", I would urge you to read them both. And I think
Jonathan is going to be Melissa`s guest coming up this weekend on "MELISSA
Check that out as well. Coming up, more on the late breaking news
tonight that Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius has
resigned. We will take a look at her legacy, who might be up and what that
confirmation vote is going to look like, ahead.
HAYES: Coming up, something amazing is coming to television this
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAMES CAMERON, EXECUTIVE PRODUCER: Everybody thinks climate change is
about melting glaciers and polar bears. I think it`s a big mistake. This
is 100 percent of people`s story.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I felt the water rising. And we went under. I
knew I lost her immediately.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don`t think scary is the right word. Dangerous
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: It is called "Years of Living Dangerously." It`s going to air
on Showtime. Spoiler alert: I am in it. I will talk to the show`s
executive producer James Cameron. He`ll be my guest, ahead.
HAYES: Late breaking news today -- a very high profile resignation
this evening in the Obama administration. After five years at the helm of
health and human services including a truly rough health care Web site
rollout that had Republicans calling for her head, HHS Secretary Kathleen
Sebelius will resign.
Sebelius leaves a job that managed to make her almost as polarizing as
the president himself. She was tasked with overseeing one of the most
significant pieces of social legislation in 50 years, a task which as of a
week ago looked like had been achieved if just barely. Coming six months
after the biggest unforced debacle in the entire Obama era, the health care
exchange Web site rollout.
During her tenure, Sebelius became an absolute villain to the right,
ultimately her legacy will be Obamacare`s legacy. According to "The New
York Times", President Obama accepted Sebelius` resignation this week and
tomorrow, he will nominate Office of Management and Budget Director Sylvia
Mathews Burwell to replace her.
On cue, of course, Republicans use the occasion to attack the
Affordable Care Act. From House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, "I thank
secretary Sebelius for her service. She had an impossible task. Nobody
can make Obamacare work."
From government shutdown hatcher and promoter, Senator Ted Cruz, "We
don`t need resignations. We need full repeal."
And from RNC Chairman Reince Priebus, a statement which reads in part,
"Secretary Sebelius oversaw a disastrous rollout of Obamacare, but anyone
can see that there are more problems on the way. "
But just a few hours ago, Secretary Sebelius herself tweeted
triumphantly, "As of this week, 400,000 more Americans signed up for
coverage. If you`re in line, you can still get covered."
Joining me now, Dr. Kavita Patel. She worked on the Affordable Care
Act, as a senior adviser to Valerie Jarrett in the Obama administration,
now a fellow at the Brookings Institution.
The timing of this in some ways makes sense and in some ways seems
strange. It makes sense in this respect -- it was never going to make
sense for Kathleen Sebelius to walk away until they got through open
enrollment, certainly not for her to walk away at a time when she was
getting criticized, when the Web site was under fire.
At the same time, this now sets up a confirmation battle in an
election year in which Republicans are going to use the confirmation
hearings as just a sort of anti-Obamacare bonanza and give whoever is
walking Burwell in a very rough time.
DR. KAVITA PATEL, BROOKINGS INSTITUTION: Yes, you`re absolutely
right, Chris, that she had to definitely wait until at least we got past
the enrollment period. But I have to tell you that I don`t think there`s
anyone who has worked with her who is surprised, that she wanted to find a
conclusion to her time as secretary, and it`s not because anybody in the
administration blamed her. It`s because she really had five years of a
long, hard experience, and I would say she has emerged from it with kind of
the sweet satisfaction of I went this to do this job and I saw it get done.
HAYES: So --
PATEL: I do think they`re going to set it up to make it sound like
anybody that they nominate is going to be -- they`re going to put that
person aside but use it to victimize and criticize.
HAYES: Yes, you can nominate --
PATEL: It doesn`t matter.
PATEL: It doesn`t matter.
I do think it`s interesting that they`re nominating -- I think putting
someone who has been at OMB -- and you could argue that the person at OMB
has actually more power in many ways than the secretary because they have
to oversee the implementation on the inside.
HAYES: That`s a good point.
PATEL: So it`s an interesting choice.
HAYES: You just made this point and I want to hone in on it. You
said not that people in the administration blamed her. My sense from
reporting she deserved some of the blame. I mean, it seems to me that now
everybody is breathing a sigh of relief and wiping the sweat from their
brow and they made the 7 million and this thing looks like it`s up and it`s
flying in the air and it had a rocky takeoff.
But am I wrong to think they massively screwed that up and it could
have imperiled the entire project and she owns that?
PATEL: No, you`re not wrong that they massively screwed it up. And
she did, in hearing after hearing, she did own that. I think that`s why
everybody -- you know, a lot of people asked me today, they said, are you
surprised that she`s leaving? And I said, no, not at all because, if
anything, what she`s done is put into place a lot of systems to try to
repair the damage that was done that she did own.
And the president, too, for that matter -- I think both of them said
it stops here and it stops with me. And that was very fair.
HAYES: Ezra Klein at the new Vox.com, which everyone should be
checking out, said -- had a line today, that she`s leaving because
Obamacare won. Do you think that`s right?
PATEL: That`s the short version. I think she`s also looking to what
to do next. I think it will be even more interesting. Here is a woman
that`s very, very accomplished but clearly, still has a lot more to offer,
and I think it`s going to come in public service. So, we`ll see.
HAYES: And also now went from being, I think, someone who people
didn`t have strong, polarized feelings about, the former governor of
Kansas, who is now become the bet war (ph) of the right. So her national
profile has expanded in all sorts of ways.
Dr. Kavita Patel, thank you so much.
PATEL: That`s right. Thanks, Chris.
HAYES: Coming up, have you heard of a little something we here in TV
world called B roll?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you need shots of ordinary people doing things
for your next commercial? We got that B Roll.
UNIDENTIFEID MALE: We got that B Roll.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Two men pointing at an office file, we got that B
A man flipping through channels, we got that B Roll. Overwhelmed man
trying to pay bills, yes, we got it. Frustrated man looking for a job in
the paper, you know we`ve got it.
And lunch meeting success. Hey look, that`s me. I like my B Roll so
much I`m in it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: That epic B Roll of me that was just sitting on the Internet
and aired on the show last night, we got that B Roll and an explanation,
HAYES: If you are going to do something that was quite possibly
against the law, chances are you probably wouldn`t go put it on YouTube.
But this in ridiculous world of post-Citizens United campaign finance,
that`s precisely what you do, and you`ll almost certainly get away with it,
HAYES (voice-over): It was the video of Mitch McConnell posted to his
campaign`s YouTube account last month that got all the attention.
Inspiring Jon Stewart.
JON STEWART, COMEDIAN: It`s got everything. It`s got McConnell`s
running a board meeting. He`s walking around, he`s talking, he`s frisking
some of his younger voters.
HAYES: But the Senate minority leader isn`t the only candidate who
put B Roll of himself on the Internet. In fact, you can download high
definition video clips, many set to equally inspiring music of other
politicians, too. Like Senator Mark Begich of Alaska, Senate candidate Dan
Sullivan of Alaska, Senator Kay Hagan of North Carolina, Senate Candidate
Tom Tillis of North Carolina, Senator Al Franken of Minnesota, and Senator
Mark Udall of Colorado.
So why might a candidate put up you raw, highly produced video on the
Internet for anyone to use? Precisely so anyone can use it. Like, say,
groups who want to promote a candidate but due to campaign finance laws
cannot work directly with them.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: American Crossroads is responsible for the content
of this advertising.
HAYES: Except when they aren`t responsible for the content of that
advertising, specifically the video in the advertising. For example, here
is Senator Mitch McConnell in his own video and here are the same shots in
an ad from the Kentucky opportunity coalition.
Here is Senator Kay Hagan`s footage and the same footage in an ad from
the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy.
Here is footage from her challenger, Tom Tillis` YouTube page. And
here`s some of that same video in a brand-new ad by American Crossroads.
Here`s Senator Mark Begich`s raw footage from his campaign Web site,
and here`s the same video in an ad from Put Alaska First PAC. Here is
campaign B Roll from one of his challengers, Dan Sullivan. And here`s the
same shot in an ad for Sullivan by American Crossroads.
Several candidates have said they have no control over who uses their
images. And, the groups making the ads say they are perfectly legal.
But, how is that possible considering that super pacs are not allowed
to contribute directly to candidates and the law clearly states that
republication in whole or in part of any form of campaign materials
prepared by the candidate is considered a contribution.
It is possible because the six commissioners on the federal election
commission keep deadlocking on whether it is illegal like when house
majority pac and others made an ad about congressional candidate Christie
Vilsack using footage from her own campaign in 2012.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE SPEAKER: Christie Vilsack knows that, she was a
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES (voice-over): Or when American Crossroads used Rob Portman`s
own footage in an ad get him elected to the senate in 2010.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE SPEAKER: Rob Portman, listening then leading.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES (voice-over): Three commissioners say those account as
republication. Three said that because the ads did not repeat the
candidate`s message verbatim, they did not, which means despite complaints
from election watchdogs you can expect to see far more B-Roll made by
political campaigns than oh, so unexpectedly repurposed into ads for the
candidate by super pacs and other outside groups with big unconstraint
money at their disposal because really it does not take too much effort to
make the raw material. Anyone can do it.
HAYES: All right, joining me now federal elections commissioner Ellen
Weintraub. All right, commissioner, am I wrong to say that the FEC which
was deadlock on this issue is a completely dysfunctional and useless body
at this point?
ELLEN WEINTRAUB, U.S. FEDERAL ELECTION COMMISSIONER: Is that what you
brought me on to ask me, Chris?
HAYES: I am asking honestly because it genuinely -- Here you have an
obvious violation -- an obvious violation -- facially a violation of
coordination. It says you cannot reproduce content. Three of the
commissioners say, "Yes, this is a violation." Three say no. Statutorily,
there are three republicans, three democrats, you guys are deadlocked on
everything. When is the last time you got a majority to say anything? It
is not a working body?
WEINTRAUB: Well, actually, we did get a majority to say something on
this very issue in 2007. And, the last time we had a majority, it was a
unanimous decision of the commission that this kind of republication
actually did present the risk a violation of the law and should be
HAYES: You know, what it looks like to me is if you say, "Well, the
super pacs and the campaign, they cannot coordinate." But, maybe the
campaign drops off a memo of what the candidate is going to do the next day
on the doorstep of the super pac or in a drop box somewhere or in a field
that they can just pick it up. I mean this is essentially the digital
equivalent of this. What it does is it makes a joke and a mockery of the
WEINTRAUB: Well, I think it depends on what you think the law is. I
personally think, as you know, think that republication does present a
problem, although it is not the biggest problem in coordination. I think
that the super pacs, we really ought to take a much closer look at whether
they are functioning independently of the candidate and I think the
commission has the capacity to do that. It has the authority to do that,
and we should be doing that.
HAYES: OK. Let me play devil`s advocate here and it is not even
devil`s advocate, I believe it. I do not think the commission has the
ability to do that. I think the whole thing is essentially a house that
has been eaten through by termites and has propped up like a stage house at
this point. The entire body of campaign finance law has been gutted and
the court has gutted it in such a way to make it appear like it is still
standing while actually it is a totally hollow structure.
WEINTRAUB: Well, I am not a big fan as you probably know of some of
the resent court decisions. Once upon a time, the court believed that big
money campaign contributions where a pernicious influence in politics and
really ought to be addressed.
Now, they think it is people exercising their first amendment rights
very robustly, which is great under the latest campaign finance decision if
you happen to have more than $123,000 to make campaign contributions over
the course of the two-year period, because that is what the court ruled
that limiting people to $123,000 was an infringement on their rights. Of
course, probably most people did not realize that since the average
household income in this country is only $51,000.
HAYES: But, commissioner, you are making my point for me. Can you
convince me that the FEC can even be a functioning body in the citizens
united era? That is my question. Given the jurisprudence stance, given
the direction it is headed, given that Robert`s court has never upheld the
campaign finance restriction except for disclosure and citizens united, can
the FEC do anything functional in that constitutional environment?
WEINTRAUB: I think that it could. I think that the commission has --
if you look back a few years the commission did a much better job of
working together across party lines to try and find consensus, try and find
areas where we could come up with majority votes and write meaningful
I think that disclosure as you have just pointed out is an important
area that the court has endorsed wholeheartedly and we could do more to
bolster our disclosure rules to make sure that we do have the kind of
robust disclosure that will keep people informed.
HAYES: Federal Elections Commissioner Ellen Weintraub. Really great
pleasure. Thanks for coming on.
WEINTRAUB: Thank you.
HAYES: Chances are you heard the big announcement today about who is
going to replace David Letterman. Well, not me. Him. Stephen Colbert.
Guess who is not happy about it? I will tell you. Next.
HAYES: Huge news out of the entertainment world today. We now know
who will replace David Letterman after he retires from "The Late Show" next
year. It is this guy.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHEN COLBERT, LATE NIGHT SHOW HOST: My name is Stephen Colbert.
And, tonight it is my privilege to celebrate this president. I stand by
this man because he stands for things, not only for things, he stands on
things. Things like aircraft carriers and rubble and recently flooded city
squares. And, that sends a strong message that no matter what happens to
America, she will always rebound with the most powerfully staged photo-ops
in the world.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: By the way, the guy he was talking about was sitting a few
feet away. Stephen Colbert, in my opinion, the most gifted satirist of our
age will be taking over CBS` "Late Show." And, predictably some
conservatives are ticked off. Ben Shapiro writing for the right wing blog
TruthRevolt compared Colbert`s act to black face, bluster photo provided in
case the headline was unclear. Meanwhile, Rush Limbaugh had this to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RUSH LIMBAUGH, CONSERVATIVE AMERICAN RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: You care
what I think of Colbert getting Letterman`s gig? I will give you the short
version. CBS has just declared war on the heartland of America. No longer
is comedy going to be a Colbert assault on traditional American values
conservatives, now it is wide out in the open.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: And, here is the point in the segment where I am supposed to
say that Rush Limbaugh is being ridiculous, but I do not think he and
others are being ridiculous. At least, I do not think they are being
ridiculous as conservatives. Conservatives have a right to be upset that
Stephen Colbert is taking over this huge platform.
Because part of the reason why I love the guy, and I do love and
admire him, is that Stephen Colbert has real politics, genuine, palpable,
sophisticated, thoughtful, liberal politics. And, if you do not believe
me, watch Colbert testify before a house subcommittee about his interests
in the rights of immigrant farm workers.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COLBERT: I like talking about people who do not have any power. And,
this seems like one of the least powerful people in the United States are
migrant workers who come and do our work but do not have any rights as a
result, and yet we still invite them to come here and at the same time ask
them to leave.
And, that is an interesting contradiction to me. And, you know,
whatsoever you do for the least of my brothers, and these seem like the
least of our brothers right now. A lot of people are least of our brothers
because the economy is so hard, and I do not want to take anyone is
hardship away from them or diminish anything like that, but migrant workers
suffer and have no rights.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: That was Colbert without the artifice out of character. That
is Stephen Colbert. That guy is going to be the guy hosting "The Late
Show" the actual Stephen Colbert, not the Bill O`Reilly character he has
been playing successfully for years and I, for one, cannot wait.
Coming up, this Sunday night at 10:00 eastern on Showtime is the
premiere of the series called "Years Of Living Dangerously." It is about
the impact climate change has on all of us and it stars among others
Harrison Ford, Jessica Alba, Matt Damon, Arnold Schwarzenegger and me. We
will have a preview for you plus my interview with the show`s executive
producer, guy by the name of James Cameron. That is up next.
HAYES: A couple of years ago a man named David Gelber got in touch
with me. He has been a "60 Minutes" producer for years. He asked me to
have breakfast and I did. And, over breakfast he told me about this plan
he had. He was going to get James Cameron of "Titanic" fame together with
the legendary executive producer Jerry Weintraub and they were going to
produce a television series on a major cable network with multiple episodes
about, wait for it, "Climate Change."
Not only that, he was going to get correspondents to do these stories,
a sort of "60 Minutes" style magazine stories with Arnold Schwarzenegger
and Matt Damon, sort of the "Oceans 11" of global warming. The idea was to
produce it like a blockbuster Hollywood movie, spare no expense, go all
over the globe unlike anything ever seen on television and would I want to
be a part of it?
And, so I said, "Yes, sure, buddy, that sounds awesome. Call me when
that happens, which, which will be never." And, yet amazingly this Sunday
"Years Of Living Dangerously" premieres on Showtime at 10:00 p.m. Eastern.
It will run for nine weeks. Two weeks from now the episode I did -- one of
two episodes I did for this series will air. It is about super storm Sandy
and climate change and here is a little bit of that including my interview
with a woman who along with her family trade to ride out the storm.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES (voice-over): We have already been feeling the effects of
hurricane Sandy for hours now.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE SPEAKER: And, the tide is up above the pier, which
is scaring the (EXPLICIT WORD) out of me.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE SPEAKER: After dinner, I looked out my front door
and I saw the big waves coming and I went in my dining room and the floor
was starting to lift up.
HAYES: What went through your mind when you saw that?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE SPEAKER: That we had to go up. When we got up
stairs, we went in the closet and we had to get out of the closet because
the water was coming through the wall.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: One of the main forces behind the series is the most
successful filmmaker of the 21st Century, James Cameron, and he will join
me to talk about the series and why he decided to do it, ahead.
HAYES: It could not have been easy to get a series on climate change
grin lid or to build it into nine parts with film quality bravado and
substance. But, James Cameron, co-executive producer of "Years of Living
Dangerously" helped to get it done.
Joining me now the Oscar-winning filmmaker James Cameron, also the co-
executive producer of "Years Of Living Dangerously" on Showtime. All
right, James, you are having a conversation with someone in Hollywood in
which you describe to them that you are executive producing a nine-part
series on television about climate change and they say, "Why?" What do you
say to that?
JAMES CAMERON, EXECUTIVE PRODUCER OF "YEARS OF LIVING DANGEROUSLY":
Well, you know, I think that people in Hollywood are fairly well informed
about the risk here, so they get it. I think the question would really be
how. How did you pull that off? How did you get a show about climate
change on a major cable show like this?
It was not easy. It took a fair bit of star power getting Arnold
involved, Jerry Weintraub involved and so on to pull this thing together
and get enough heat on it that people wanted to go ahead with it because
the sense is, "Oh, well, that is not really entertainment, you know? We
said, "No, we are going to make this entertaining. We are going to make
this compelling television that you ca not take your eyes off of."
HAYES: How do you do that? I have done episodes for this. I have
about been amazed at what has come together for this. But, you are someone
as good as telling visual stories as just about anyone, I would say. How
to you get from dry charts and graphs and data about carbon to what the
sale point was which was visually compelling human drama?
CAMERON: Yes. Well, first of all thanks for doing the show. We
really appreciate that. So, thanks for jumping in. And, secondly, I think
the answer to your question is embedded in the question, which is you do
not do charts and graphs.
As much as people do need to go look at the science or some version of
the science that has been processed so that a lay audience can understand
it, that is not what we wanted to do. The important thing is to get people
talking about it and thinking about it.
So, we thought, we are going to tell human stories. We are going to
go into the trenches. We are going to take our celebrity investigators
such as yourself and Arnold Schwarzenegger, Matt Damon, Jessica Alba --
HAYES: I consider us all in the same category more or less.
CAMERON: The same category, the same price point. Your agent is
sitting at home going, "Yeah!" right now. To get them out in the trenches,
out in the mud, out amongst people that are being affected every day right
now and make this thing immediate. Make it the kind of television where
you start getting involved in people`s lives.
And, I do not mean the lives of the celebrities because they are the
investigative reporters, if you will, but the lives of the people that they
are going and seeing. People in Plainview, Texas, out after job because
the drought collapsed, the cattle industry and their meat packing plant
closed. Things like that that are immediate. And, we wanted to say,
climate change is not only real. It is not a debate anymore, but it is
happening and it is affecting people right now.
HAYES: It is that second point I think that is key, which is the
transformation I think we have seen over the last three years, I would put
it, from a problem we will have to encounter in the future, a problem that
was talked about things that our children, our grandchildren will have to
deal with to something we are living through right now, the front edge of
it and the series does a tremendous job of showing. Right now, it is not
some future thing. This is it 2014. It is here now. You can go to these
places and see it.
CAMERON: Yes. Yes, it is on. And, we need to embrace that and to
step up and we have to be accountable. Every human being on the planet has
to be accountable to some extent or another. And, we are going to have to
work together to solve this problem. You know, it is getting that message
out to people.
I thought television is the way to do it. It reaches more people.
Documentary films are great, but you can win an academy award for a
documentary film and still only a narrow sector sees it, you know, and
essentially you are preaching to the choir.
We wanted to preach to the people that are in doubt, the people that
have questions. Maybe even people that are in total denial but want to see
what the arguments are. And, that is what -- these are the people this
show is for.
HAYES: Do you think that? Do you have faith? I mean, there is all
this evidence about the way people process conflicting information about
confirmation bias, about the fact you give people information they double
down on their prayers even if the information pushes against it. Do you
have faith something like this can change people`s minds?
CAMERON: Well, you know, denial is not just a river in Egypt, baby.
You know? People live deep in it every day. We all live in our little
bubbles of illusions, you know? But, eventually if the truth, you know,
beats on the outside of that bubble enough, people wake up.
You just have to give people credit, you know, for understanding that
there is a problem, and that we finally are going to have to -- however
grudgingly -- do what is necessary. And, you know, I understand that you
just had your second child. I have five kids.
And, you know, it is a father`s duty to understand the threats that
are coming at the family in the future whether it is not having enough
money or not having good schools or medical problems, whatever it is, it is
our job to take care of business. I hope that this show will reach
fathers, will reach mothers, and say, "Guys, we have to do what we are here
HAYES: It is interesting you just mention that had in terms of your
individual passion for this, you know? When I first had lunch with David
Gelber, who is one of the folks from "60 Minutes" who helped produce this
and he told me about the project and he said, you know, James Cameron has
signed on. I thought to myself, "Yes, sure, James Cameron, signed on. I
am sure." And, I just thought to myself, will James Cameron must get 1,000
pitches a day that come into his office.
CAMERON: About that.
HAYES: Yes. He says yes to one in 1,000 or one in 10,000. Why --
what is it in you that made you say yes to this?
CAMERON: Well, you know, again, being a dad, I have a sense of
responsibility. I have always been able to sort of look into the future
and see all the bad things that could happen. I made a living off of it as
a science fiction writer, screenwriter. I did "Terminator" and, you know,
"Titanic." It is like what are all the bad things that could happen?
So, naturally, I was interested in climate change before a lot of
people were. But, I was also pretty rigorous when had it comes to the
science. And, so I have my monthly subscription to "Scientific American."
I read about as much as a lay person should and still be healthy about
science that I am not getting paid for to do.
So, I just have been really aware that this is a growing problem and
it is one that is quite insidious because the solution to it is for people
to work together at an international scale that we have never done before.
We have never as a species demonstrated the ability to do that. And, we
are going to have to create new tricks that this bunch of monkeys has never
HAYES: It is a civilizational challenge that I think is pretty
unprecedented when you talk about the degree of collective international
cooperation and governance ultimately that we are going to have to produce.
And, you know, as a science fiction author -- someone who has given us
visions of the future, often fairly dystopic, I wonder if you think we have
it in us. I mean in some way, in a lot of ways your work has been dystopic
about the future. Do you think we have it in us?
CAMERON: You know, look, I mean as a filmmaker, it is my job and my
pleasure and my art to celebrate the human condition. In all our
greatness, all of our capacity for compassion and all of the things that
make us noble, you know?
So, I weigh that on the one side against looking at the political
process and how bought and paid for it is by special interests and all that
and how there is been this enormous amount of kind of inertia, nothing
really happening on that side.
And, I think all right, I am going to put my money on people. And, I
am going to put my money on a grassroots bottom up solution to this problem
because it is not going to come from our so-called leaders.
HAYES: There is much, much more in my interview with James Cameron.
You can see the whole thing on our website at allin.msnbc.com. Check out
"Years Of Living Dangerously" on Showtime this Sunday at 10:00 P.M.
Eastern. That is "All In" for this evening. Huge thanks to Alex Wagner,
Steve Kornacki, Joy Reid and Ari Melber for filling in for me while I was
away with my newborn child and my wife and my other kid. "The Rachel
Maddow Show" starts right now. Good evening, Rachel.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY
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