'The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell' for Wednesday, April 16, 2014
Read the transcript to the Wednesday show
THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL
April 16, 2014
Guests: Andy Kroll, Eugene Robinson, James Pearson, Faith Jenkins, Jessica
Luther, Renatta Torres, Stephen Torres
ARI MELBER, HOST, MSNBC: Who is Governor Susana Martinez? Tonight she is
the latest rising Republican star defending comments caught on tape.
SUSANA MARTINEZ, GOVERNOR OF NEW MEXICO: My friends, we are one step
closer to taking New Mexico back.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Governor Martinez in New Mexico is raising
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Susana Martinez, the governor of New Mexico.
MITT ROMNEY, FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Susana Martinez, of New
MARTINEZ I am Susana Martinez.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A Republican governor from the state of New Mexico.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She`s exactly the sort of person GOP need to put up.
MARTINEZ: I was a Democrat for many years.
CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), GOVERNOR OF NEW JERSEY: She`s a former prosecutor. I
am a former prosecutor.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When candidates, like Scott Walker, Susana Martinez.
Chris Christie win statewide --
CHRISTIE: We`re both Republican governors in blue states.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- they prove no state is that reliably a blue state.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Governor Martinez in New Mexico is raising
MARTINEZ: It is time for results, not excuses.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Holding schools accountable for students gaining
critical reading skills.
MARTINEZ: New Mexico, bold change is on its way.
MELBER: Here is when most of America met New Mexico`s first-term
Republican Governor Susana Martinez.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARTINEZ: We must stand up and make Mitt Romney the next president of the
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: It was only three weeks later after that 2012 Republican national
convention that David Corn published the scoop of the 2012 election in
"Mother Jones" magazine, Romney`s 47 percent tape (ph). Today "Mother
Jones" has another audio scoop, this time on rising Republican star, Susana
Martinez. Here is Martinez talking about her love for teachers in public.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARTINEZ: I am so pro teacher it`s not even funny.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: But some of her private comments, in turns out, about teachers are
a little funny. "Mother Jones" released a recording of her privately
strategizing about education policy during her 2010 run for governor.
VOICE OF MARTINEZ: During the campaign, we can`t say it, I guess, because
it is education. But I really keep going back to that. You know, keeping
the teachers from feeling the pain when they already don`t work, you know,
2 1/2 months out of the year, 3 months out of the year, but earn salaries -
- the same rate people who do -- work 12 months a year.
MELBER: And then the governor`s top aide, Jay McClesky offers her this
advice on to play it both ways.
JAY MCCLESKY, AIDE TO SUSANA MARTINEZ: Then we put up a YouTube video that
no one will ever see where you talk about making everyone feel the pain.
Then when you win, we say, see, we said this (expletive deleted) the whole
time! What are you guys talking about?
It`s on YouTube, come on.
Yeah, but there -- I assure you. Christie did not run a campaign talking
about making the teachers feel the pain.
MELBER: The reference is important because that was back when Republican
governors wanted to be exactly like Chris Christie. With Christie
embroiled in Bridgegate, some in the GOP are now looking to Martinez
herself as an alternative star who might build a new coalition for the
party. She`s currently running for re-election in New Mexico, but is also
often touted as a possible Republican vice presidential or even
presidential candidate. At the 2012 GOP convention, Martinez acknowledged
her historic role in the GOP.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARTINEZ: As the first Hispanic female governor in the history, little
girls, they often come up to me in the grocery store or in the mall. They
look, and they point, when they get the courage to come up, they ask, "Are
you Susana?" And they run up and they give me a hug.
And I wonder, how do you know who I am? But they do. And these are little
girls. It`s in moments like these when I am reminded that we each pave a
path, and for me it`s about paving a path for those little girls to follow.
They need to know no more barriers.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MARTINEZ: Now, back in 2010, these tapes newly revealed, show Martinez
taking a more impatient view of some gender inequality efforts, or at least
government programs that she considered ineffective.
MARTINEZ: I met some lady yesterday at the Hispanic chamber of culture --
I don`t know what the hell it was. Some woman came up to me and said -- I
think she said she was a cabinet position on the status of women?
UNIDENTIFIED AIDE: Well, that`s a commission. Yeah, and the governor
elevated that to a cabinet level position.
MARTINEZ: What the hell is that?
UNIDENTIFIED AIDE: It`s the commission on the status of women.
I don`t know what the (expletive deleted) they do.
MARTINEZ: I just don`t know what they do. I mean, I -- I understand that,
what we have, 10 -- 10 cabinet positions more than the federal government,
but some of these seem to be in name only or in, you know --
UNIDENTIFIED AIDE: Yeah.
MARTINEZ: I -- I don`t get what -- what the hell is a commission on
women`s cabinet do all day long? But she sure was my best friend
AIDE: I think (inaudible) wants to be the director of that so he can study
I mean, we have to do what we have to do.
MARTINEZ: Oh (expletive deleted)
MELBER: Now some people are saying today this is just routine politics and
back room banter. Even if there isn`t a direct bombshell here, Martinez`s
political team came out with a very strong counterattack today.
Their statement opened basically three lines of push back. One, they
attacked the media, calling "Mother Jones" magazine, quote, an extreme left
wing blog, using 4-year-old material.
Two, they stressed that these leaks are not only unauthorized, but they`re
tied to potentially illegal conduct. Quote, "Private conversations
undoubtedly sent to "Mother Jones" by individuals or their allies who are
either under federal indictment or have had their homes raided by the FBI."
And three, they say this is part of a smear campaign by the national left.
Quote, "The national left is trying to smear the first Hispanic woman
governor in American history because they view her as a threat. And that
is about as surprising as the "National Enquirer" reporting Elvis is still
Joining me is Andy Kroll, senior reporter at "Mother Jones", who broke the
story and Eugene Robinson, columnist for "The Washington Post" and of
course an MSNBC analyst.
Welcome to you both.
Andy, out of the gate. Let me get your response to the governor`s team`s
attack here on you and "Mother Jones" and your thoughts on the broader
argument that this is really all about word choice, nothing more
ANDY KROLL, SENIOR REPORTER, "MOTHER JONES": Sure. Well, dealing with the
-- Martinez campaign`s response. I mean, obviously the first part is
attack the messenger. That could be any more predictable going after
"Mother Jones." I mean, I think the, audio tapes speak for themselves.
You know, they say that -- they try to impugn the source of this material.
I can say that we obtained all of this -- material was provided to us
perfectly legally, vetted by our legal team. And we believed it was news
worthy and got it out there into the world with this story.
You know, and -- and -- the, the -- these files, this story, the audio
recordings, the e-mails, the text messages, they reveal a side of Governor
Martinez, a rising GOP star, just as you said, Ari, in a light that the
citizens of New Mexico and people who follow politics around the country
just haven`t seen before.
And, you know, her team, the governor and her team, have done an incredible
job at managing her image, managing her appearances and crafting exactly
what they wanted to put out there as she rises up.
MELBER: Andy, let me -- Andy, if I may, let me jump in and ask you about
that, though. Because part of their argument, and what some political
observers would say, is that this is showing a, quote/unquote "salty
language" or rough and tumble type of speech, which is no more shocking
than LBJ or any other president swearing behind closed doors. It doesn`t
speak to policy. What do you say specifically to that argument of Governor
KROLL: Well, I would reply that the audio clips that you played about
teachers absolutely has to do with policy. And it has to do with the
governor saying one thing about public education and teachers in public and
saying something else behind closed doors.
I would argue that the comments about the commission on the status of women
created in the 1970s in a state that has high rates of sexual assault, you
know, which this commission in part was trying to remedy. That is also
important on a substantive level.
And I`d point out, you know, the story in addition to the audio recordings,
you know, the story is full of reporting, showing, you know, serious issues
about Governor Martinez, her relationship with her state`s Republican
party, her governing style. That has the not been out there as much. And,
you know, it is -- if it`s not salty back room language, it`s very much
about how New Mexico is being run and how Governor Martinez is working as a
MELBER: Yeah, I think I want to bring in Eugene. I think that`s fair.
And I think the article, which goes into more depth, than just the audio,
also looks at a relationships with some of her aides and some of the way,
as you say, they`re conducting state business that I thought was pretty
interesting as well.
Eugene on the teacher`s comment, politically was striking because this is
back in a time when people wanted to be like Chris Christie, as I
mentioned. And it also goes to a certain sort of desire to say, well, how
can we run one way, the YouTube reference really being a joke about the
idea that Chris Christie got into office and then got sort of tougher,
tougher. And that was a persona that was desired, at least, by some
Republican candidates. Is that still the case today? And your thoughts on
EUGENE ROBINSON, "THE WASHINGTON POST": Right. Well, in -- in the tapes
and certainly in the article you kind of see -- the governor -- Governor
Martinez developing this -- this persona and -- and, and grooming it. Even
at times when it is -- it seems to be at odds with what is really going on
behind the scenes.
I mean, it`s -- you know, I think, the salty language is -- is interesting.
The relationship between her and this political consultant who -- who seems
to be very close to her, is interesting.
But -- but the overall tone of the piece really is that it is kind of,
number one, it`s all about her, not about the state party, not about
building that, not about building something larger, but all about her.
And number two, all about her clearly means ambition for higher office.
This is a very ambitious governor who seems to have big plans for herself.
MELBER: Yes, Andy. Speak to that. Let me play a little more sound from
that 2012 convention speech where again you see, look, all politicians have
a sort of story of self. But you see a real fixation even though she`s a
relatively new governor on positioning herself as one of these agents of
change, different kind of politicians take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARTINEZ: I fear some of our leaders today have lost the courage to stand
up. That we have now -- we have politicians. They won`t offer real plan
and only stand up when they want to blame someone else.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KROLL: Yeah, I mean, the -- the rhetoric that she used in her -- in her
Republican National Convention speech and the rhetoric that she has used in
Republican events around the country and in her state since then very much
points toward ambitions towards higher office.
Now, like any good politician, she has said, you know, I`m not thinking
about 2016. I`m not thinking about Washington. I`m focused on New Mexico.
However, Governor Martinez is also part of a future majority project aimed
-- you know, looking at and recruiting diversity, candidates for the
Republican party, minority candidates, female candidates for the future.
And if you`re getting involved in national recruiting and identification
effort like that, clearly you are trying to, you know, grow your -- your
reputation and your -- and your -- your place within your own party.
MELBER: Yeah, and so far, Eugene, I mean, she has been able to do that.
If we`re looking at this just scoring it politically, in New Mexico, look
at how Republicans have fared there. In her race in 2010, she defeated her
Democratic opponent with 53 percent of the vote; 2012, that`s two years
later, Mitt Romney of course lost New Mexico ten points shy of that at 43.
McCain couldn`t carry it either, despite being nearby from Arizona.
You have got someone here who is arguing, not unlike Christie, that she is
one of these few governors who`s not tarred by Washington, and is trying to
build some sort a broader coalition. How does that hold up?
ROBINSON: Well, if -- you know, she`s governed rather pragmatically. You
know, if I am not mistaken, I believe she`s -- she went for Medicaid
expansion. I believe, New Mexico set it up, Obamacare, health care
exchange, so, you know things that a lot of other Republican governors
steadfastly refuse to do.
I think the one question going forward though, if she is supposed to appeal
to -- Latinos, if she`s supposed to appeal to women, two constituencies the
Republican party has been shedding over the years and -- and who now go
wildly for Democrats, she is going to have to have a larger impact I think
on national Republican policy.
Because, really, it`s those policies, not the personalities, that have
driven important groups of voters away from the Republican party,
particularly in national elections.
MELBER: Yeah, I think that`s well put, Eugene. And also as a contrast to
Christie who sort of started to look more right-wing as the elections
Andy, real briefly, the article also makes this sort of comparison of her
to Sarah Palin. Isn`t that a little unfair and potentially sexist?
KROLL: No, it`s a comparison that was made to me a number of times when I
was in New Mexico and beyond, by Republicans, I would add. So I don`t
think that it is unfair at all. I think that there are comparisons to be
I think there are comparisons to be made to Governor Chris Christie. In
fact, some of the -- the governor`s own people have compared her to
So, you know, I make multiple comparisons in the piece. And I think the
Palin one is -- is -- was there to be made. You know, it was made to me a
number of times by people who know the governor and who followed her
MELBER: Yeah, and I wanted to ask you. Because I thought it was a useful
piece, a lot of good of information, the idea that every time, there is a -
- sort of a Republican woman who has questions facing her, being compared
to Palin, who is so uniquely, I think, unqualified is -- I think it`s an
issue worth exploring.
Andy Kroll and Eugene Robinson, thank you both for joining us tonight.
ROBINSON: Uh-huh. Thanks.
MELBER: Coming up we have Karen Finney joining us to talk about what the
Republicans are facing as they go home to their district and basically have
to spend time with people who are actually using the ACA and liking it
according to some new polls.
And "The New York Times" took a look at the rape allegation against Heisman
winner Jameis Winston. What they found was a flawed investigation that I
think speaks to a larger problem with college sports stars, administrators,
And also tonight, crews are trying to get inside that sunken South Korean
ferry amid hopes that people may still actually be alive inside. We will
have a report on the latest on that as well.
MELBER: The Louisiana State House this week also considered a bill on
chicken boxing and rejected a measure to repeal its unconstitutional sodomy
laws. Meanwhile, Louisiana scores low on the Gallup`s well being index,
all the way down at number 40. And, coming up, some Republican House
candidates are facing a problem. How do you tell people benefiting from
Obamacare that you want to repeal Obamacare? Karen Finney joins us next.
MELBER: Congress gives itself a lot of recesses. They like the time off.
But some Republicans may not be enjoying the break this time around. This
is actually the first extended recess since the end of the Obamacare
enrollment period in which, as you may have heard, more than 7 million
people signed up.
That means two things. Republicans will be getting face time with
constituents who are now covered and going to town halls where many
constituents` opinions are shifting. 32 percent of Americans prefer
Democrats` plans, policies, or approach to healthcare now compared to just
18 percent who say they prefer the Republicans` plan, policy, or approach,
according to the polling language. And that is from a new Reuters/Ipsos
Quote, "That is why the September 30th, October 1st period was a critical
time. Now with some people getting subsidies, it`s very difficult to take
that away." That is some truth from Republican congressman Mark Meadows in
North Carolina. He was talking to Politico.
Enrollment in Obamacare in North Carolina was higher than the national
average. And 91 percent of those shining up were eligible for those ACA
subsidies as of March 1. And yet increasingly tone deaf Republicans in the
state are still running ads like this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NARRATOR: Tired of Obama`s and Kate Hagan`s big lies? Thom Tillis, a
fiscal conservative with the guts to repeal and replace Obamacare.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Or look at Republicans in Florida, another high enrollment state.
They are proving to be a little tone deaf on another issue, the minimum
wage. Republican Congressman Dennis Ross, who doesn`t support raising the
minimum wage, asked what he thought was a rhetorical question at a town
hall on Tuesday. Here`s how that went down.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. DENNIS ROSS (RD), FLORIDA: If we`re going to make it a living wage,
who`s going to pay for it? Who`s going to pay for it? I`m going to pay
for it behind the counters?
AUDIENCE MEMBER: I will. I`ll pay 20 cents extra for a hamburger.
ROSS: I think that`s admirable, and especially on Tax Day. Send in some
more today. You`re welcome to that.
SHANEEKA RAINER: With that being said, he said he`ll pay. So if he`ll pay
and I`m going to work every day and busting my butt, I want to know, would
you take a walk in my shoes? Every day, every day, would you take a walk
in my shoes?
ROSS: Knowing I was going to further my career.
RAINER: Lay your tie and your suit down, just for a day, that`s all, 24
hours, and take a walk in my shoes. And the people that I work with, we`re
keeping the economy floating and going in a cycle. But the people that
hire, you know they`re just paying money just to throw money. But I`m
actually working every day. So why wouldn`t you support it?
ROSS: Because it`s not right. Economically, it`s not right.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: That is why town halls are worthwhile. A note to Congressman
Ross, 73 percent of Americans are now in favor of raising that stagnant
minimum wage. 50 percent say they would be more likely to vote for a
candidate who supports raising it.
Joining us now is Karen Finney, host of MSNBC`s "Disrupt with Karen
KAREN FINNY, MSNBC HOST, "DISRUPT WITH KAREN FINNEY": Hey, Ari, how are
MELBER: I`m doing good. I want to dip into the Gallup poll out today that
shows really the two tales of the ACA. People have been talking about this
and it`s pretty interesting. The uninsured rate has fallen about 2.5
percentage points this year, specifically in states that have agreed to
expand Medicaid and put up their own insurance exchanges under the ACA.
That`s a contrast to states that have not expanded Medicaid or done those
exchanges there. The percent has only fallen about 0.8 percent. That`s
under a point, Karen.
And so it really goes to where the politics and the policy of this are
headed, which is it`s not one ACA across the country. It`s really two
ACAs. There`s an ACA where it`s working fully, holistically, on the
private markets, and with Medicaid, getting as many people covered as
possible. And then in these other sort of obstructionist states where
we`re seeing a very whittled down version of it.
FINNEY: Well, that`s right. And, remember, in a lot of the states also,
it`s not just that governors are obstructing the efforts of the navigators
who are trying to help people sign up, but we still have too many states
that are not going to take the Medicaid expansion, which means that we`ve
got millions of Americans who are just not going to able to get health care
at all. So it`s -- how shocking is it to see that, how about that? When
you have Obama -- when you have access to the Affordable Care Act, and you
expand Medicaid, guess what? The rate of uninsured goes down. I mean,
that`s sort of exactly what people predicted, you know, opposing those who
suggested there was a doomsday scenario and the Armageddon was coming.
MELBER: Right. And it also deflates a GOP talking point that was saying,
oh, well, yes, there`s people moving around the markets who already had
insurance. This is independent polling showing actual changes that are I
think important in the market place.
On the politics, Politico makes this point today. They say, quote,
"Republicans will need a nuanced message. Even if Obamacare helped you
personally, it`s still bad for the country as a whole."
That`s tough. Because that`s sort of the opposite of what you always
learn, which is all politics is local.
FINNEY: Of course, absolutely. But notice in your intro that by the
Republican Congressman trying to frame it as a subsidy, right, which is to
sort of suggest that it`s not something that you deserve. And I think
that`s where I think Democrats can be really tough with their messaging
because, no. 1, you know, they need to hold the Republican members of
Congress who are railing against the Affordable Care Act to account. They
are trying to take something away. And they`re not offering an
And I think if Democrats -- politically, there`s a real opportunity to be
on offense and also there`s a moral argument to be made about who are you
to tell someone they don`t deserve to be able to take their kid to a doctor
because it`s bad for the country. I mean, that just doesn`t make sense.
MELBER: Yes, that whole language of entitlements and giveaways, I don`t
think it works for something that so many people, working people, consider
a necessary part of any civilized life, which is trying to have their
family have health insurance. Karen Finney, host of "DISRUPT", Saturdays
and Sundays on MSNBC. Thanks for joining us.
FINNEY: Thanks, Ari.
MELBER: Coming up, he was never charged, but after the rape investigation
was dropped against Heisman winner Jameis Winston, "The New York Times"
took a closer look at what happened and they found some real problems, some
really interesting and important stuff here. That is straight ahead.
MELBER: In the spotlight tonight, college football and a flawed rape
investigation. "The New York Times" is out with a scathing report today
about the failures and the investigation of a Florida State University
student`s rape accusation against star quarterback and Heisman trophy
winner Jameis Winston.
In an in depth investigative report, the "Times" recounts failure after
failure by both the Tallahassee Police Department and Florida State
University in this troubling case. Beginning December 7, 2012, when the
accuser first went to the police, to November 14, 2013, nearly a year
later, when police finally obtained DNA samples from Jameis Winston, to
December 5, 2013, when prosecutors announced they weren`t pursuing the case
further, it has left critics asserting that both the police department and
the school were giving preferential treatment to Winston because he`s a
football player in a college town that lives for its football team. And
not any ordinary team or player, but a team on the verge of winning a
national championship and a star quarterback who was about to win, as I
said, the Heisman trophy.
"The New York Times" provides, a laundry list of inadequacies here, that
includes failure to immediately interview two people who witnessed this
sexual encounter. As a result of that failure, one of the witnesses went
on to delete a video that he had taken of the encounter before police could
review it. The paper reports the detective failed to reveal surveillance
video at the bar where Winston and the accuser met. And when a detective
finally contacted Winston, he did so by phone, which of course, would give
someone who was a potential suspect, time to call a lawyer and refuse to
answer any further questions. That`s what he did.
It also left the Florida state attorney, Willie Meggs answering question
about the police during a press conference this past December.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE), they must handle the case early on.
WILLIE MEGGS, STATE ATTORNEY: That will be something that others will have
to decide. I`m not trying to decide that. We worked very closely with the
police department. Obviously, it would have been somewhat better if we had
-- all gotten involved little earlier. But we were involved from, from
beginning November the 13th. And we worked hand in glove with them since
then they have been most cooperative. And we have accomplished all the
things we feel like we need to accomplish.
We might have had some additional facts earlier. There might have been
better memories, I don`t know. Time is important. It certainly would have
been nice, to have known all of the things we know now back in December.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Joining me now is Jessica Luther who has been reporting on this
story extensively for "the Nation" magazine and Faith Jenkins, a legal
analyst and An attorney.
Welcome to you both.
Jessica, let me start right with you having covered this for a while. What
is your view of what we learned today in this exhaustive "The New York
Times" report and what it tells us broadly about the way we handle sexual
assault cases on campuses in this country, particularly when big sports is
JESSICA LUTHER, REPORTER, THE NATION MAGAZINE: OK.
Part of me is not surprised at all. I think that Willie Meggs was really
understating how much the Tallahassee PD did not do. And that was pretty
clear Meggs released a 248-page report about the case at the time he
announce heed was not pressing charges. And anyone who read through that,
which I did multiple times, that it was pretty clear that the Tallahassee
police department just didn`t do their job.
And, as you said, you know they didn`t follow, he didn`t follow up
immediately. They didn`t go to the bar. They didn`t call the cab company.
They could have actually identified him immediately had they taken up the
details that she gave them. And they just didn`t do any of that.
So I wasn`t surprised by that aspect of the report. I didn`t know as much
about the FSU side and their title 9, the fact that they didn`t follow
through as the they shoe under title 9. But at the same time, that`s not
So right now, we -- I think there are two grassroots organizations that are
helping women across the country file reports with the office of civil
rights against their universities for failing to do what they need to under
title 9. And we just had the University of Missouri, there was a case that
ESPN broke from a couple of years ago and they did an independent
investigation and just last week, they found that Missouri hasn`t done what
it was supposed to do under title 9.
MELBER: Jessica, and let me bring in Faith here.
When you look at potential crime here that is alleged as a very serious
felony in Florida up to 15, 30 years, sexual battery to include rape and
you look at the case and you say we don`t know the whole story. And the
gentleman is innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. But why
wasn`t this investigated better. It is outrageous when you read it.
FAITH JENKINS, FORMER CRIMINAL PROSECUTOR: Right. There is no reason that
a full and complete investigation should, should have been, should not have
been done here. I mean, here you have, an alleged victim who came forward,
who gives a credible account of an assault of violent crime committed
against her. It was reported immediately afterwards. She called her
friends. Her friends called the police. She then went to the hospital.
The patrol officers responded. And then they called the special victims
detective who was on duty.
So, all of those things happened accordingly. Then, that detective, this
is where it gets so perplexing for me. This is a special victims
detective. He is trained. And especially trained to investigate these
kind of cases. Sexual assault cases are incredibly difficult to
investigate and prove. But here, you have a young lady who comes forward
gives you a name of someone who tells you that person is a football player
at the school. And also tells you there are apparent witnesses to this
So the first thing you do, you try to find out who those people are. The
fact that they were at a bar and she says they left the bar and that this
bar is known in that particular town to have 30 surveillance videos. And
that these detectives did not follow up and tried to get video, detectives
do that for fist fights. They do that for purse snatchings. But here you
have someone saying that they were sexually assaulted and the fact that
this detective didn`t even go and tried to get the video, that is appalling
to me and I don`t understand why that was not done. There is really no
excuse for it.
MELBER: And Jessica, do you read that entirely a function of the power of
football in the community?
LUTHER: No. I don`t. I mean I want to Florida state over a decade ago.
And I recognize the bar that they talk about in the piece and sort of
alcohol culture. And none of that seems to have changed.
But the fact that he is a football player, I think probably exacerbated
everything in the case. Maybe it is a little more extreme. But 20 percent
of women who go to college, before they leave, are raped.
There are huge problems with reporting on college campuses because of
instances like this. Women don`t feel comfortable coming forward and going
to the authorities. We know that possibly, more than 10 percent of high
school girls are raped before they leave high school. The fact that at
that age, just 18, 19, they already have a fear of authority and reports,
shows how deep this goes.
I think, when it comes to football, definitely it matters. It is extremely
profitable. I think in 2011, it was like $34 million, the FSU football
team brought in. All those things matter. But at the same time, we have
to remember this is not uncommon. There is nothing extra ordinary about
what happened. And that`s a big part of what we need to be focused on.
MELBER: Yes. I appreciate the point.
And Jessica, what you are speaking to is almost the other aspect of this
which is we are focusing on it partly because of the fame of one of the
individuals involved, when it is all too common for many other people whose
names we never heard of.
Jessica Luther and Faith Jenkins, thank you both for your time tonight.
And coming up, it wasn`t just a case of a police shooting an unarmed
homeless man that brought the department of justice down on Albuquerque.
We have a last word exclusive. We are going to talk to the parents of the
man shot by police in his owned backyard. And we will have the latest for
the search for the survivors of that South Korean ferry accident.
Stay with us.
(VIDEO CLIP PLAYING)
MELBER: What you saw, Ukrainian air force fighter jet, making low flying
passes over pro-Russian protesters in eastern Ukraine. That was from
today. The Ukrainian military is conducting what they are calling anti-
terror operation to drive out Russian separatists who stormed government
buildings and police headquarters in the region.
And coming up, dozens of police shootings in Albuquerque, New Mexico. And
the parents of a 27-year-old man killed in one of the shootings. They will
join us for a "Last Word" exclusive.
MELBER: Police brutality is a problem in this country and it is one that
is rarely reviewed thoroughly by state or federal investigators. However,
under attorney general Eric Holder, the civil rights division of the DOJ
launched a two year investigation into whether there was a pattern of use
of excessive force at Albuquerque police department.
There is a new DOJ report out. And it read that of the 20 officer involved
shootings, resulting in fatalities from 2009 to 2012, we concluded that a
majority of these shootings were unconstitutional.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOCELYN SAMUELS, ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL: We have determined that there
is reasonable cause to believe that the Albuquerque police department
engages in a pattern or practice of use of excessive force including the
use of unreasonable deadly force. We found that officers used deadly force
against people who did not pose an immediate threat of death or serious
harm to the officers or to others and against people who pose a threat to
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Those are serious accusation as but unlawful killings by police.
The victim of one of the shootings was a 27-year-old named Christopher
Torres. He suffered from schizophrenia. In April 2011, two Albuquerque
police officers who are in plain clothes went to his home to serve him with
an arrest warrant for a-month-old road rage incident. An altercation
ensued in the backyard of that home. And according to police, one of the
officers fired after Torres grabbed a gun from the officer`s holster. He
was shot in the back three times at point-blank range.
Last month, a neighbor of the family, and the only independent eyewitness
to the incident testified she saw Torres on all fours in his backyard and
never saw him reach for a gun.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I saw the officer who was punching him, ease up and
draw his gun. And say I`m going to shoot you. That`s when I -- I backed
into the fence and bolted for the phone.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: The police officers claim they were acting in self defense. That
they were also cleared of wrongdoing by the district attorney`s office.
That was in February. A wrongful death civil suit filed by Torres`s
parents is still pending today.
And joining me tonight, in an exclusive interview, the parents of
Christopher Torres, Stephen and Renatta Torres.
Thank you both for agreeing to speak with us tonight.
STEPHEN TORRES, CHRISTOPHER TORRES` FATHER: Thank you.
RENATTA TORRES, CHRISTOPHER TORRES` MOTHER: Thank you.
MELBER: The officers say in this case, which is now, of course, is in the
larger context of the DOJ review and report, they say they didn`t know that
your son was schizophrenic. If they didn`t they would have handled this
differently. As we just show, there are some pretty wildly conflicting
What is your view of what happened and the significance of the justice
department looking into some of these cases now?
S. TORRES: Well, let me start up by saying if these two officers did not
know that our son was suffering from a mental illness, it was because they
dent do their home work. We have had repeatedly he had several meetings
with the police because we were afraid that something like this might
happen, could happen. And so, whenever we met with the police, we informed
them of Christopher`s illness and of the need to have trained crisis
intervention officers called upon the scene when they were dealing with
We had relayed the message to the police department on three or four
different occasions. So again, if these two officers did not know that it
was because nay didn`t do their home work before they went out to arrest
Christopher. And as you said earlier, they had over a month in which to do
that home work. It was readily available.
MELBER: And, Renatta can you speak to us, your thoughts today and looking
at this recent report, and the idea that -- well you have your civil suit
pending as well and a policy level, part of the implication here from the
federal justice department review. Is that there is a pattern of
unconstitutional excessive force and killing by the police who are of
course the ones suppose to be keeping people safe and following the law.
R. TORRES: Yes. And that was what we learned after Christopher`s
shooting. We began working with members of the community. Who were
concerned about excessive use of force within the Albuquerque police
department. And as we were doing our home work and going back decade, not
just within that four-year period, there was an undeniable problem within
the Albuquerque police department, a very systemic problem.
And so, we worked very hard to get documentation together, to provide to
the department of justice that would provide them with a compelling reason
to come to Albuquerque to do a comprehensive investigation and look into
this city of Albuquerque and the police department.
MELBER: Yes, and there -- I mean, there are many reports about this as we
mentioned. The 20-some killings and the report. And previous criticism
and a lot of investigative reporting on this conduct.
Let me also get your response. I want to play for you what the Albuquerque
mayor said in response to findings that I mention in the report and then
get your thoughts. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MAYOR RICHARD BERRY (R), ALBUQUERQUE: Just as important as the findings
are, the path forward is going to be vital. Along with the DOJ, I am
optimistic about the future. As difficult, the findings in the report are.
And there are some difficult findings in the report and we recognize that.
The good news is that this is an achievable goal. We are embracing the
challenges. And the process is needed to move this department forward.
These are problems we can solve as long as we work together as a community.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Do you think Mayor Berry is on the right track there. And do you
think there can be justice if there isn`t more accountability for some of
the folks involved.
S. TORRES: Accountability is a crucial element. These officers and the
police administration have to be held accountable. There are established
three years ago when Christopher was shot. There were established --
standard operating procedures which the police department and the officers
were suppose to be familiar with. Those same procedures are still in place
today. If the officers had followed their SOPs there is a good chance my
son would still be alive today. If they had followed the sops, three years
later, there is a good chance Mr. James Boyd would be alive today.
But the problem is there is no accountability. These officers are free to
disregard their standard operating procedures and there is no discipline,
there is no correction.
R. TORRES: No consequences.
S. TORRES: No consequences when they failed to follow these policies. And
these policies are there to protect, not just the public, but those
policies are there also to protect the police officers. And when the
police officers disregard those policies, they endanger the public as well
MELBER: I hear you on that. And we will leave that on the last word on
this from you.
Stephen and Renatta Torres, thank you so much for talking with me tonight.
R. TORRES: Thank you very much.
S. TORRES: Thank you for giving us the chance.
MELBER: Of course.
Up next, the search at this hour for survivors of that ferry accident in
South Korea. Stay with us.
MELBER: It is now morning in Korea where there is hope missing passengers
in the ferry accident could be alive and actually under the sea. Water is
cold however. And time is certainly running out. We have new footage of
that search straight ahead.
MELBER: Ir is now morning in South Korea. The search is continuing for
survivors of the deadly ferry accident.
Just a few minutes ago, it was reported, the official death toll we can say
has risen to nine people. It is unclear how many people could be trapped
inside the ferry`s hull which is potentially containing air pockets so
people could use to survive.
Another big concern for those not jet found water temperature. The sea
temperature is only about 55 degrees, giving survivors only a few hours
before hypothermia becomes fatal. South Korean officials say the 290
people are still missing, 179 have been rescued. The boat left the coastal
town near Seoul late Tuesday. Traveling overnight. It was mostly school
children on board. It was headed towards for Jeju island which off the
southern coast. But capsized just beyond the halfway point at around 11:30
in the morning. That`s local time.
Now, here is a look at the rescue efforts as they played out in the minutes
after that distress call went out.
(VIDEO CLIP PLAYING)
MELBER: A tough scene there. Joining me now on the phone is James
Pearson, Reuters correspondent in Seoul.
What can you tell us about this search at this point?
JAMES PEARSON, REUTERS CORRESPONDENT (via phone): Hi, Ari.
Yes, obviously, very distressing for the families who have all gathered
waiting for news of their loved ones. Initial reports when the distress
call first came out indicated that -- most of the -- most of the passengers
had been rescued which that turned out to be false.
As you just said, the death toll is now at nine. We still got 287 people
missing. And the rescue efforts, they have been hampered overnight. It is
actually very difficult for divers to operate in the area. Actually some
of the strongest tides in the whole country. So they are having to wait
until the tide is at the right level to be able to safety to go down into
the hull and into air pockets.
MELBER: Yes. You speak about the tides. Tell also bout the weather, the
cold. Obviously, very tough conditions for what they`re trying to do.
PEARSON: The weather as of this time has been this winter. I mean, the
cold temperature was below freezing not too long ago. We are just hitting
spring here in South Korea. So obviously, a very real concern. But it
does buy potential survivors some time if possible.
As for fog and the sea, characteristics, it seems fairly calm. There
haven`t been any reports of incoming weather. And -- wind doesn`t --
fairly low. The tide, but the rescuers are having to battle with.
MELBER: But James, you can`t survive very long in that kind of cold
without -- if you are not reached by the rescuers, right?
PEARSON: Absolutely. It doesn`t bode very well. There have been
unconfirmed reports from media about some parents, at the scene of the
accident, using online based messaging services on their phones to contact
students who might still be trapped underneath the hull. But unfortunately
none of that has been confirmed yet and it is very difficult to go on from
MELBER: And briefly, anything they`re going to be doing in the next
several hours here in terms of priorities?
PEARSON: Prior to the minutes moving in two large cranes to try to raise
the wreckage as much as possible. Beyond that, they`re waiting for the
tide so, they can start pumping air into the remaining air pockets. You
have to worry about hypothermia, but you also going to be worried about
being stuck in an airtight space under the ocean.
MELBER: Certainly. James Pearson of Reuters, thanks for your reporting.
And stay safe out there.
We`ll have updates on the story when warranted.
I am Ari Melber, in for Lawrence O`Donnell. You can find me on facebook
Chris Hayes is up next.
CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST, ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES: Good evening from New
York. I`m Chris Hayes.
Today, the crisis in Ukraine reached a truly dangerous and equally bizarre
tipping point. Pro-Russian --
<Copy: Content and programming copyright 2014 MSNBC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
Copyright 2014 CQ-Roll Call, Inc. All materials herein are protected by
United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed,
transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written
permission of CQ-Roll Call. You may not alter or remove any trademark,
copyright or other notice from copies of the content.>
MORE FROM MSNBC
Add msnbc headlines to your news reader: