'The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell' for Tuesday, April 29, 2014
Read the transcript to the Tuesday show
THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL
April 29, 2014
Guests: Dorian Warren, Ziva Branstetter, Zach Wahls, Garrett Bryant,
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Again, the breaking news this hour, the state
of Oklahoma, botching the first of what was planned to be a double
execution tonight. Still not entirely clear what happened. But we`ve got
more on that breaking news story in the last word and including an
eyewitness to what happened there in that prison tonight.
Stay with us.
"THE LAST WORD" starts right now.
ARI MELBER, GUEST HOST: Banned for life. Al Sharpton and Eugene Robinson
join me tonight to talk about the Clippers` owner.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And now to the story that continues to anger so many.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We start with some breaking news.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Los Angeles Clippers` owner Donald Sterling.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Racist remarks purportedly made by Sterling.
ADAM SILVER, NBA COMMISSIONER: Effective immediately, I am banning Mr.
Sterling for life.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Donald Sterling, the owner of Los Angeles Clippers,
has been banned for life.
SILVER: For life.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Donald Sterling acknowledged that it is his voice on
SILVER: I will urge the board of governors --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I can`t see any way.
SILVER: -- to exercise its authority.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No way, no how --
SILVER: -- to force a sale of the team.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- Donald Sterling can continue to own the Los Angeles
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A 3/4 vote is required for owners to remove Donald
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They could have a 3/4 of a vote. And they can vote him
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: From ownership of the team.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No one should be surprised.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He`s the worst kept secret in the National Basketball
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This has been an issue in the NBA for years.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Doesn`t this really create a problem for the league?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sterling is a problem.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Doesn`t the league have to do something.
SILVER: Effective immediately, I am banning Mr. Sterling for life.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Donald Sterling, owner of the Los Angeles Clippers
has been banned for life.
SILVER: For life.
MELBER: I`m Ari Melber, in for Lawrence O`Donnell.
And we begin tonight with an absence. Many fans are gathering to watch the
Clippers play game five of the playoffs. One person will be noticeably
absent, the owner, Donald Sterling, the man who shocked many in and out of
the sports world with his racist view that black Americans should be
socially segregated and stigmatized.
Well, today, as we`re reporting, Mr. Sterling became the one who was
stigmatized and isolated as the NBA commissioner took the unusual step of
banning him from the league for life.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SILVER: The hateful opinions, voiced by that man are those of Mr.
Sterling. The views expressed by Mr. Sterling are deeply offensive and
harmful. That they came from an NBA owner only heightens the damage and my
I will urge the board of governors to exercise its authority to force a
sale of the team and will do everything in my power to ensure that that
I fully expect to get the support I need from the other NBA owners to
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: The ban means no games, no practices and no ability to make
decisions about the team. The league also instituted a $2.5 million fine
Now, after today`s announcement, the Clippers homepage featured only a logo
and three simple words, "We are one."
Tonight, just minutes ago, Clippers coach Doc Rivers spoke out about the
NBA action and the road ahead.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DOC RIVER, LA CLIPPERS COACH: I thought Adam Silver today was fantastic.
Personally, I thought he, he made a decision that really was the right one.
That had to be made. You know?
I don`t think this is something that, you know, we rejoice in or anything
like that. You know, I told the players, you know, about the decision.
And you know, I think they were just happy that it was a resolution and
it`s over, at least the start of it to be.
Other than that, you know, I was just really proud of them. I`ve been
proud of the players and the NBA overall. I have been proud of the
ownership, throughout the league. And -- I think, just we are all in a
better place because of this.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: So far, six teams have publicly come out and supported today`s
decision, a number that may continue to grow. And the backlash and
reverberations do continue. Protesters gathered outside the Staples Center
tonight. Ticket sales slumped for tonight`s game. While some companies
are reinstating their advertisements, Burger King now became the latest
sponsor to suspend its partnership with the Clippers.
What does the woman at the center of the Donald Sterling scandal, V.
Stiviano, what does she think of today`s decision?
Her lawyer tells "The Los Angeles Times" tonight that she was saddened and
never wanted any harm to Donald.
However, these tapes got out, Donald Sterling harmed himself. And in a
nation that has struggled so long with the vestiges of social and legal
racism, of exclusion built on segregation. Sending black Americans to
separate schools and separate water fountains and Jim Crow justice. The
world of signs that basically always said "no coloreds allowed."
Today, a big force in public life knocked down that kind of sign and put up
a new one, "No racists allowed."
Joining me now to discuss, politics host -- the host of "POLITICS NATION",
I should say, Reverend Al Sharpton, who was instrumental in putting
pressure on the NBA to take these actions against Donald Sterling, and
"Washington Post`s" Eugene Robinson, Pulitzer Prize winner who`s been
covering the story.
Welcome to you both, gentlemen.
AL SHARPTON, POLITICS NATION: Thank you.
EUGENE ROBINSON, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Thanks, Ari.
MELBER: Reverend, let me start with you. You have been in and out of
these kinds of battles for many years. We have discussed across the
country really, how different this one has been. Walk us through why that
SHARPTON: Well, you know, Saturday when I first got involved when the
tapes went public, the difference that I have seen over the last couple of
days is the swiftness there has been a response. And the widespread
support to have everyone from every major basketball star, from LeBron
James, all the way to Michael Jordan, from Oprah Winfrey, to the president
of the United States, I think was something that we have seen -- we have
not seen in these types of situations before.
I was involved from Marge Schott, all the way through to Imus. And,
clearly, there has been widespread support. But the definitive way that
NBA Commissioner Silver made the announcement today, "Banned for life", no
involvement, and that he is sure he will get the other owners to support
him and forcing the sale of the team, I think deals with this particular
I spoke with Commissioner Silver this afternoon. And he was a pleasure to
meet with heads of civil rights groups and others. I just left a meeting
with some of us. Lead national civil rights groups here in Washington with
the Congressional Black Caucus.
And it was left on the table, now, Ari, how do we set up things that this
is not a reoccurring thing. How are people vetted? How did this guy
remain there despite a history of discrimination? And where is the
ownership of the team going? So I think that, that the part of, part of
what Mr. -- what Donald has represented is, is over for his part.
But I think where we must go now is where is basketball and sports going to
go to restructure and guarantee the public that we are not going to have
another one of these kind of guys laying in the cut until somebody comes
with a tape and busts him. This is an unbelievable situation. That can
MELBER: And, Reverend, from the meetings you have been in, are you
satisfied with the time line of the NBA at this point?
SHARPTON: Well, I think that the time line is compared to a Marge Schott
or others is faster. I think again where we go from here is our concern.
But I think when you look at the fact that -- that it took a tape.
This man had the largest payout of a discrimination suit we have seen, when
you look at the Elgin Baylor lawsuit. It should not have come to this.
Imagine if the tape had not gone public, he would still be in charge of the
Clippers. That`s what Adam Silver has to deal with civil rights leadership
and others about and going forward.
And I think how firm he was today gives us some level of confidence that he
will engage in that serious discussion. Where it will lead, we will see.
MELBER: Absolutely. When you think about it, as you mention, Reverend,
the tape and what grew out of it. And what people wanted to hear. Eugene,
take a listen to something that Doc Rivers brought up here. It`s a point
that is somewhat profound, when we think about how we talk about race and
how to deal with these kind of infractions.
Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RIVERS: With the burden of racism, it always falls on the person who has
been offended to respond. And I have always thought that that is
interesting. You know? I felt the pressure on my players, you know,
everyone was waiting for them to give a response.
And, you know, I kempt thinking. I mean, they didn`t do anything, you
know? Yet, they had to respond. And so, Adam responded. And I thought
that that was the sigh of relief.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Eugene, you know the way he laid that out. I thought was actually
pretty heavy. And makes the point that comes up a lot, whether you`re
talking about workplace discrimination or what it takes legally to
challenge this stuff.
What did you make of that thought there and where we are now tonight?
ROBINSON: You know, I think that that`s an interesting point. That`s an
interesting way to look at it, especially when you talk about the Clippers,
who, those players who are really on the spot. But you know if, if you
take a step back and kind of look at what`s happened in the last four days,
I really think that, that in many ways the most important actors who got us
to this resolution -- obviously, it was, Adam Silver`s decision -- but the
actors who, who, kind of, kind of made this inevitable in my mind were the
players. The players of the entire league, 80 percent of whom, almost 80
percent of whom, are black.
And, you know, they were confronted. The world was confronted. And
couldn`t look away from evidence that there was a team owner in the NBA who
could, who thought of his, the black people who work with, for him with the
same, sort of racist paternalistic contempt that, that an old south
plantation owner might have had for the people who worked in his field.
That`s hardly an exaggeration from the -- from the tone of the tapes.
And, so, if that was intolerable to the players, they made it clear, they
weren`t going to stand for it. I have every confidence there were going to
be boycotts by players perhaps as soon as this evening if this had not been
resolved in something in a way it finally was resolved.
So, I think that the players making it clear that this was a defining
moment for the league, in a league that, in the final analysis, is about
the players. I think was the significant factor here.
MELBER: Yes. Reverend, speak to that and to the sort of the age and the
kind of out-of-touchness of some of these views. No shock to feel who work
in these areas, file discrimination lawsuits. And yet, we live in an
America where we are often told we should be post racial or color blind.
The attorney general as you know, of course, who spoke to your conference
recently, was criticized roundly several years back when he talked about us
being a nation of coward on race. It seems we still have a lot of work to
SHARPTON: Well, in this past week, we have seen the Supreme Court decision
upholding Michigan affirmative action decision to take race out as a factor
despite the fact that you still have a race gap there in higher education.
We see the rancher Bundy talking about young blacks don`t have anything to
do because we haven`t taught them how to pick cotton. And then you end the
week with the owner of an NBA team saying these kinds of things.
So, clearly, the Attorney General Eric Holder was right. We don`t want to
deal with these things. I think all of this combined is a wake-up call.
But I think that what America couldn`t stomach was you`re saying that an
NBA owner can say these kinds of things. Here`s somebody that is an
American mainstream, a major figure, saying this.
And I agree that, that the players standing up, and the players saying that
we are not going to be treated like that -- I think that was the thing that
pushed it over the top. Because the no matter what we did in the civil
rights community or in media, if those players had said, it didn`t bother
them. It didn`t matter to them, or in some way, countered that. It would
not have brought us to this point.
So, I think that they showed a real integrity that, that -- frankly, was
not surprising to me, but I think it was something that, that it must be
underscored because they chose their integrity over what could have been
their careers, if many of them hadn`t stood together.
MELBER: Let me ask you, before I go to Gene.
ROBINSON: You are absolutely right, Reverend, especially we should note,
LeBron James, the game`s biggest star, who started tweeting immediately on
SHARPTON: That`s right.
ROBINSON: And other players came out very quickly. And which was a signal
to the other players that no, this is OK. We, we need to do this.
MELBER: Absolutely. And you know you talk about that. Talk about ability
to get the word out. All I was going to say at the end is -- we would
include a statement from Donald Sterling if and when he saw fit to make
one. He has not expressed any contrition according to the press conference
today, according to the NBA commissioner. He hasn`t spoken out. And that
will be another piece of this obviously, some one we are all waiting to
hear from even as the world moves forward and on without him.
Reverend Sharpton and Eugene Robinson, thanks for your time tonight.
SHARPTON: Thank you.
ROBINSON: Thank you, Ari.
Coming up, conservative and politics of race. These comments by Mr.
Sterling have Ted Cruz praising President Obama. That is straight ahead.
And the Boy Scouts strike again, punishing a 19-year-old scout leader
because of a Facebook post basically from other people implying that he
happened to be gay. That scout, and Zach Wahls join us.
And we have some breaking news, an important news from Oklahoma where
tonight an execution was halted at the last minute. Something did go
terribly wrong. The state was using controversial drug cocktails, which
have been challenged repeatedly in court. One of the witnesses to the
botched execution will join me live.
MELBER: We`re also reporting on breaking news from Oklahoma tonight, where
an execution using those controversial drug cocktails went horribly wrong.
An inmate had to be revived on a gurney. A witness will tell us what she
saw, coming up.
But next, Donald Sterling and this problem of racism in our modern
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
REPORTER: Any comments regarding Mr. Donald Sterling, owner of the L.A.
REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: No. It`s reprehensible.
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MINORITY LEADER: Obviously, it is outrageous,
unacceptable comment. Have they now made a recommendation?
REPORTER: Ban him for life, the harshest possible penalty. Ban him for
life from the games, $2.5 million fine, and Silver is urging him to sell
MCCONNELL: Sounds pretty good to me.
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
MELBER: Some unity there.
Republican leaders John Boehner and Mitch McConnell, condemning Donald
Sterling`s racist comments at the Capitol today.
Well, Ted Cruz went on to Facebook to say President Obama was right.
Quote, "I agree with President Obama, Don Sterling`s comments are ignorant
and offensive. Millions of Americans of all races love the NBA and these
racist sentiments have utterly no place in our society", end quote.
Donald Sterling`s odious comments are, of course, easy to identify and
thankfully as we are seeing, easier and easier now a days to commend. It`s
commendable when people do it.
But broad, unequivocal condemnation of blatantly racist comments doesn`t
mean, of course, that racism is over in America, as some on the right to
continue to suggest.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO HOST: In the big scheme of things, what difference
does it make if a crackpot owns an NBA team?
Bernie Goldberg made a great point about all of this. This Sterling
business, he said, take a look at the reaction to it. There is no way this
is a racist country. There is not one shred of tolerance for what this guy
said, might have said, might be thinking. There isn`t one shred of
tolerance. There is no way this is a racist country. He is exactly right
BILL O`REILLY, FOX NEWS: Here is the headline: it`s primarily his problem.
Not the country`s problem. He`s shameful, but does not represent anyone
other than himself.
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
MELBER: Of course, structural racial discrimination does still exist. We
have some evidence, look at a federal court decision just today in
Wisconsin where a judge invalidated a very controversial and very unequal
voter ID law. It was signed in 2011 by Republican Governor Scott Walker.
And it was invalidated because of in part, its unfair impact directly on
The photo ID requirement applies to all voters regardless of race.
However, as we see in the ruling, the requirement places a unique and
heightened burden on those who must obtain an ID, if they wish to continue
voting in Wisconsin. The evidence at trial demonstrates this burden
disproportionately impacts black and Latino voters, as the defendants can
see. The plaintiffs` evidence shows minorities are less likely than whites
currently possessing a qualifying ID.
There wasn`t quite as much broad bipartisan or furious condemnation of
that. It was, as we mentioned, passed by Republicans.
Joining us now, E.J. Dionne, columnist for "The Washington Post" and MSNBC
political analyst, and Dorian Warren, associate professor of political
science and public affairs at Columbia University.
Welcome to you both.
E.J. DIONNE, THE WASHINGTON POST: Thank you.
DORIAN WARREN, COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY: Thanks, Ari. Good to be with you.
MELBER: Let me start here, Dorian. It is interesting to see these
incidents of racism which we were discussing with Reverend Sharpton, last
week, Cliven Bundy, this week with the NBA. And here, one conservative
echo chamber response is because the racism was condemned there is no
I want to go beyond that because it`s simplistic enough to dismiss. And
look specifically at the conservative concept of color blindness which is
what was used to support the voter ID law and knocking down of course the
Voting Rights Act last year, where conservatives are saying, whatever is
out there, all laws should be an all policies should be as color blind as
possible. That`s the road to equality.
WARREN: So, you said the key word there, Ari. There is a distinct, we
should make between racist words and speech. And racist practices and
We should be focused on the policies and racial impact of policies. That,
those Republican leaders frankly stand for. So if you think about the
Michigan, affirmative action case, John Roberts adheres to that ideology of
color blindness that assumes racism equals bad speech or words, and not
policies. Where -- the Wisconsin law that was struck down today, the voter
suppression law, one of the things that the judge said in striking down is
the state cannot produce one example of fraud, which gets to the intent
behind the law and impact of the law.
It was designed to disproportionately affect minority voters, low income
voters, who tend to favor Democrats. We could go down the list. The
minimum wage, the Congress is voting on, disproportionately affects workers
of color. Republicans are against that.
The fact that 24 states have refused to expand Medicaid disproportionately
affects people of color, that`s a life and death issue for people. It
affects millions of people.
So, let`s -- I want to encourage us to get back to focus on racial policies
and the impact of policies versus the racist speech that people say. Yes,
we should all condemn it. But the policies affect millions of more
MELBER: E.J., join in on that point. Of course, the reverend, for folks
who are watching a few minutes ago making the connection to affirmative
action ruling in Michigan, and the idea that the only reason we got he got
here because of the tape and we have to plumb a little deeper into looking
at the structural problems.
DIONNE: You know, I was thinking tonight of W.E.B. DuBois` line, the
problem of the 20th century is the problem of the color line. And a lot of
people seem to think, well, now the 20th century is over, we made a lot of
progress. And we have made a lot of progress as a country. And therefore,
this problem no longer exists.
Now, it continues to exist in the 21st century. And I think it is very
important to make a distinction between expressions of racism and
legislation like those voter ID laws that clearly have a disparate impact.
But I think the other thing here is about power. And I was really struck
by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar`s piece in "Time Magazine", where as Gene Robinson
pointed out, the NBA players, 76 percent of whom are African-American, have
real power here. There was something horribly wrong with these kinds of
statements in the NBA, where African-Americans make such a great
But when Mr. Sterling had to make the settlement for discriminating against
tenants, no one worried much about the tenants. No one raised any of these
issues whether he should own a team, because those tenants don`t have the
same kind of power.
And so, I think we also have to keep in mind the issues of power when we
discuss these things.
MELBER: Yes. And I think -- look, that goes to the political piece,
Dorian, which is often the way that people in Washington, D.C., define
racial politics such as it is, is about whether people are using race in
sort of campaign ads, right? Or whether race is a dog whistle and that`s a
way to take someone down. And that`s obviously terrible. And we
rightfully condemn it.
But racial discrimination is not only an issue for, you know, black
candidates or superstars in the NBA. The grinding ongoing sort of Jim Crow
separate justice system is something that the powerless have to deal with
on a daily basis, and that are from voting laws as you mention to, to --
felony convictions being -- being, ground for revoking your voting rights,
something of communities that are largely disappeared from politics
WARREN: That`s right. E.J. hit it right on the head. We weren`t asking
questions when Sterling had to settle that lawsuit for racist practices and
behavior, in terms of not renting to black and Latino residents. By the
way, Kevin Johnson is not off the hook here either. He also has been
accused of being a slumlord when it comes to black and Latino residents of
And I think E.J.`s point about power is very interesting in this regard.
We`re not even having a discussion in terms of who should own the Clippers.
Hey, why not ask the players to pool their money and buy the Clippers?
That will be a show of power as well. Instead, we are saying, oh, maybe
Magic will buy it.
No, let the players buy the team and own the team at the end of the day.
DIONNE: I love the idea. In fact one thing I was thinking, let`s do the
Green Bay Packers model have the players own it or have the fans own it.
You know, it makes you ask question about this whole ownership structure.
WARREN: Or the residents of L.A., for instance.
DIONNE: Yes, exactly.
MELBER: An idea born here on the last word for a L.A. Clippers co-op. I
like it. E.J. Dionne, and Dorian Warren, thank you both for being there.
I appreciate it.
DIONNE: Good to be with you.
Now, coming up, we do have a LAST WORD exclusive. A boy scout is outed and
ousted and that boy scout will join me, along with friend of the show, Zach
And next, a witness to the execution we have been reporting which halted
tonight when it went horribly wrong.
ARI MELBER, MSNBC ANCHOR: We have breaking news of a botched execution at
the Oklahoma state penitentiary. The first of two executions scheduled at
the prison tonight. That began at 6:23 p.m. local time. That`s according
to news accounts. Thirteen minutes after the first drug was given to
inmate Clinton Lockett, still alive, writhing on the gurney, shaking
uncontrollably according to several witnesses. The Oklahoma department of
correction says it use aid new three drug combination but it failed. So
about 20 minutes into Lockett`s execution it was halted officially by the
department`s director, but he did not survive, the inmate.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERT PATTON, OKLAHOMA DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTION: At approximately 7:06,
inmate suffered what appears to be a massive heart attack and passed away.
That is it. That is all of my statement. That is all the information I
have at this time.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: The second execution for inmate Charles Warner that was scheduled
for later this evening has now been officially delayed for a term of 14
Joining us now on the phone, is enterprise editor for the Tulsa world
newspaper, Ziva Branstetter. She witnessed the botched execution tonight.
She is here to report on what she saw. What happened. What did you see,
what do we know about the botch execution?
ZIVA BRANSTETTER, ENTERPRISE EDITOR, TULSA WORLD NEWSPAPER (via phone):
Yes. So, this is fourth I have witnessed. The other three have gone off
relatively problem free. The execution started later than the others. It
started 6:23. About 13 minutes into the execution after he had been
declared unconscious, the inmate began writhing in pain. His body was sort
of bucking. He was clenching his jaw. Several times he mumbled phrases
that were largely unintelligible. The only word we could make out, was
man. He seemed to be in a lot of pain. Several times he rose, head and
shoulders rose up off the gurney as if he was trying to get off the gurney.
About 6:16, but I am sorry about 15 minutes after the execution began, the
physician who was in the room went around, lifted up the sheet that was
covering his right arm. Looked at his arm. And then the -- the warden, in
the room, said we are going to temporarily close the blinds. The blind
were closed. The media witnesses could not see what transpired after that
The warden director Robert Patton, and officials went out of the room.
They`re on the phone for 10 or 15 minutes. They all came back in the room
and the warden announce they`d had a problem with the execution. But the
inmate`s vain has basically failed.
MELBER: Right. And even that assertion has been at least challenged or
disputed by some, Ziva, though I understand that was the official
statement. My colleague, Rachel Maddow spoke earlier to the attorney for
Charles Warner, whose execution was stayed tonight, but with regard to the
point that you reported on. The apparent pain of the inmate, experimental
for not. These drugs are not supposed to act in a way that is painful or
torturous. They are supposed to sedate and execute. Let me play a little
for you to listen to then respond to how she described what happened?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It was look watching somebody be tortured. And
that`s the farthest thing from a constitutional execution that we could
imagine. We just have to have an investigation. We have to have
transparency the process.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Ziva, can you shed any light on that?
BRANSTETTER: I would agree. Looked like he was in a great deal of pain.
I mean, certainly the prison officials didn`t intend to torture Mr.
Lockett. However, (INAUDIBLE) a sedative. And it is not the first time
Oklahoma used the three drug protocol. I understand that in Florida they
use the same drug but they tried five times more of it. So there were some
indications that there could be some, use with this execution.
As media witnesses we were disturbed that we could not see what was going
on behind the curtains. We felt like, that`s our job to report what
happened. You know, we were informed later, he died 43 minutes after the
execution began of a heart attack. The prison told us that they don`t know
if this will be classified as an execution that will be up to the state
MELBER: Ziva, let me, let me jump in. You raise a lack of transparency
and reporters, of course, observing something. That is one of the most
important grave activities the government conducts. Also, give us briefly
the background on the, the issues around secrecy on the drug use themselves
and that case.
BRANSTETTER: Yes. So the reason witnesses are in the execution chamber
just so that we can observe and report to the public that this has been
done in a constitutional manner. So without being able to see what
happened 15 minutes after the execution began. We really don`t know. So
that is troubling as a media witness. You know, the prison officials have
to speak for themselves why they decided to close the curtains.
As far as the secrecy, in 2011, Oklahoma passed a law that shield the
identities of these drug makers, the pharmacies, and the actual
executioners themselves. There was a long battle over this case and over
the secrecy law. And it ended up in sort of standoff between our state
governor and the state`s highest court. Basically, it ended with the
governor issuing an order to, to stay the execution on seven days. And
that`s how both of the executions wound up on the same day.
MELBER: Right. You look at that history, that dispute. And then this
breakdown tonight. You wonder what could have been if there had been more
information, more oversight of the drugs in use. This an important story.
So, Ziva Branstetter of the Tulsa World Newspaper, thank you for your
report tonight. We will be staying on the story as well.
BRANSTETTER: Thank you very much.
MELBER: Coming up, we have, as I mentioned earlier, a last word exclusive,
that Boy Scout leader who was outed and then ousted.
MELBER: House majority leader Eric Cantor today asked the kissing
Congressman Republican Vance McAllister of Louisiana to resign. Cantor
told "Politico," I believe we ought to hold ourselves to higher standards.
And I think that what has happened in his instincts doesn`t meet that
standard. McAllister is not running for re-election and responded today
saying quote "I do not feel it is in my constituents best interest to leave
them without representation for the second time in less than a year. My
district deserves a voice."
And up next, the boy scouts punish a 19-year-old scout leader over
basically rumors that he was gay. He joins me for his first national
television interview. That`s next.
MELBER: The boy scouts of America are in the headlines again tonight.
This time, after a boy scout says he was outed and then ousted. 19-year-
old Garrett Brian who has been in the scouts since he was 11 years old says
he did everything to actually keep his sexual orientation from the boy
scouts. He did mention on facebook he was quote "in a relationship" after
meeting his first boyfriend. And some of his friend then posted, benign
comments asking questions like, what`s his name? Then one week after the
facebook post, Garrett says he was told by a camp leader he wouldn`t be
extend aid job offer this year because of the social media post suggesting
he engaged in homosexuality.
Garrett is basically call the in something we have reported on before, the
age gap of the boy scouts current policy on when it is OK to be gay, when
you are young. Under current Boy Scout policy gay youth are welcome, but
gay adults are not. Policy states we do not grant membership who are open
homosexuals or engaged in behavior that would become a distraction to the
motion of the boy scouts of America.
Now, Garrett told NBC news.com. I was willing to keep my sexuality hidden
to stay involve involved. They wanted to make this an issue now. Because
of that I will continue to make it an issue.
And joining me now for a "Last Word" exclusive, Garrett Bryant and Zach
Wahls executive director of scouts for equality.
Welcome to you both.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hi, Ari.
Garrett. Just tell me about this. Explain this age restriction thing
which we have talked about before and your situation.
GARRETT BRYANT, OUTED AND OUSTED FROM BOY SCOUT: Well, at present I am a
member what is called venturing, high adventure form of the boy scouts of
America. Co-ed program where youth is defined as under 21 but over the age
of 14. I do not think I was affected by this membership ban. So it came
as a bit of a shock when, when I was informed that I would not be allowed
to participate as a staff member this year.
MELBER: And Zach, walk us through the larger sort of evolution if you want
to call it that that the boy scouts are in.
ZACH WAHLS, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, SCOUTS FOR EQUALITY: Well this is part of
an ongoing policy change in the boy scouts are going through. May of 2013
they voted to end their ban on gay youth but kept in place their ban on gay
adults. The issue exists where there is as you mentioned a discrepancy
between the programs that fall under the boy scouts of America, umbrella
where youth means something in one program and something in a different
But I think it is important to note despite the difference in what is
considered a youth in venturing, which is the Boy Scout program, Garrett
was willing to keep his sexual orientation private to not tell under the
boy scouts don`t ask don`t tell policy. But the boy scouts were going to
look on social media and prompt this almost investigation into his sexual
orientation which is why we are --.
MELBER: Yes, you are ailing sort of the issue here. This a came up of
course as many will remember in the military context, don`t ask, don`t
tell. Being a very difficult compromise of sorts and that came out of the
Clinton era in the military. But didn`t also often involve don`t ask.
Because particularly in the age of the internet there was a lot of asking
effectively going on when they`re rummaging around your space as your
friends postings et cetera.
The other thing I want to ask you, Garrett, though, is when you look at
that specific example and of course as you know Bob Gates, the president,
President Obama`s former secretary of defense, who oversaw the shift away
from that policy, and is going to be the president of the boy scouts, what
would you want to say off to him tonight or sale of y publicly. What he
BRYANT: I just like to say that I hope he will extends the same courtesy
in the scouts as he did in the military. He knows firsthand that don`t ask
don`t tell does not work in the military. So, he should also know that`s
it doesn`t work in the boy scouts of America.
MELBER: And, and, let me ask you, Zach. I want to actually read something
that Garrett had said here -- excuse me that one scouting official had said
to NBC news.
Quote "the way we look at it we want to be a safe haven for kids and that`s
where we are at. And we don`t want sex of any type in camp either
heterosexual or homosexual or anything. Not to put too fine a point on it,
but how much of this relates back to some sort of idea or stigma that
someone who happens to be gay is going to be more likely to have sex in a
context that would be obviously inappropriate there with, with the
WAHLS: Well, it is definitely a double standard. When a straight scout
master says that his unit or brings his wife or references his wife in any
context, he is certainly not, you know, quote-unquote "injecting his
sexuality into scouting." But when a friend of Garrett`s, posts something
on a facebook, and not even Garrett himself but a friend of Garrett to
makes a vague illusion to Garrett`s orientation or the gender of his
partner in this case, that is somehow some deliberate insertion of
But I think it also speaks to a broader point, Ari, about what you just
mention earlier about protecting children. The realities that there are
gay youth in the program, especially given the BSA decision last may to
allow investigate youth in the program. And so, what kind of message does
this send to 12, 13, 14, 15-year-old scouts, gay eagle scouts who are still
in the program, when we are seeing somebody like Garrett who its clearly
eminently qualified leader being denied the position. And I think that is
a very harmful message, discriminatory, and frankly, it is a message that
has no place in scouting.
MELBER: Yes. And Garrett, how are you and your friend is taking this
generally before you go?
BRYANT: My friends in camp and outside have been very supportive. Several
friends within the camp itself have actually flat out offered to resign
over this. I asked them not to. The amount of support that I have
received within the camp staff has given me hope as to the future of this
policy in the boy scouts. This will not stand for much longer I don`t
Excellent. That is a note of optimism there. Garrett Bryant, Zach Wahls.
Thank you both for joining us tonight.
WAHLS: All right. Thank you.
BRYANT: Thank you.
MELBER: You got it.
And coming up, how the White House its using movie stars to get a message
across to men about sexual assault.
MELBER: Here is something you probably haven`t seen before. Richard
Nixon`s application off to join, yes, the FBI in 1937. The national
archives putting the document on display off to the public for the first
time. Turns out after law school at Duke University, 24-year-old Nixon
applied to be a special agent and he was accepted. But his appointment was
revoked before he was ever notified. J. Edgar Hoover later told him
apparently it was due to budget cuts. Some things never change.
Up next the alarming rate of sex assaults against women on college
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have a big problem and we need your help.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is called sexual assault. It has to stop.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have to stop it. So listen up. If she doesn`t
consent or if she can`t consent.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is a crime. It is wrong.
JOE BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We need all of you to be
part of the solution. This as it bout respect. It is about
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It is up to all of us to put
an end to sexual assault. And that starts with you.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Because one is too many.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: The White House released that PSA today part of the Obama
administration`s new push to combat sexual assault on campus. The problem
has become an epidemic. One in five female college students are sexually
assaulted at some point. Though only 12 percent of incidents are
In January, President Obama created a task force to address this issue. It
released its first report today, including a new Web site of resources for
students and educators, notalone.gov, and policy recommendations for
colleges. Some of those include conduction anonymous surveys about sexual
assault, maintaining confidentiality for sexual assault crimes on campus,
and launching programs to change the culture and social pressures around
sexual assault including the example of by stander intervention programs
which encourage men and women to intervene in social or drunk environs
where assaults scud could be common.
While sex crimes are generally prosecuted under state criminal law, many
experts say the federal government has been lax in using the accountability
mechanisms at its disposal. To pick one example, while a 1972 federal law
does enable penalty for publicly funded colleges which may fail to address
sex crimes and gender discrimination, no university has ever actually been
penalized for insufficient enforcement according to a "The New York Times"
Today`s recommendations from the White House task force were better than
nothing. But they may also amount to nothing very different from any of
the victims of the assaults.
Joining me now is Kristin Lombardi, a reporter on the issue of sexual
assaults on college campuses, and who has been all over the issues,
KRISTIN LOMBARDI, CENTER FOR PUBLIC INTEGRITY: Thank you, Ari, for having
MELBER: What are we to make of this report today, what the White House is
trying to do, and how this intersects with the epidemic?
LOMBARDI: Well, I would say that on the one hand this is a very good day
for students who have been victimized. When I first started reporting on
the issue of campus sexual assault in 2009, the senate Republican integrity
sent to examine how colleges and universities handle student allegations of
sexual assault. Back then, this was a very pervasive problem, and
intractable problem and a largely hidden problem. Today awareness of this
issue, momentum around this issue has reached the highest levels of
government. And I think a lot of student victims who have I have been
talking to over the years are optimistic about that.
One of the good things that came out of the White House task force report
today was the recommendation that schools conduct standardized anonymous
surveys on their college campuses in order to -- to get a sense of the
scope of campus sexual assault on their individual campuses. That`s a very
good thing. It is a recommendation that mirrors the recommendation of a
group of senators, led by senators Kirsten Gillibrand who sent a letter to
the White House task force last week suggesting that the task force require
schools to do this.
MELBER: Let me jump in there because requirements are born Senator
Gillibrand I think has been hugely leader on this issue in the military
context and the civilian context. And yet when I was reading the report, I
welcome it as something. But so much of it was language of
recommendations, nonbinding actions on the by stander policy that I
mention, you know there are studies that show, as you well know, that when
you use those programs to educate students and get them involved.
One New Hampshire study found that where, 38 percent of men who had gone
through the training were more like, were more likely to be intervening in
a sexual assault compared to 12 percent for those who didn`t.
Do you think it is time for the fed to stand up and make that mandatory as
a condition for federal funding for schools or make some of this have more
LOMBARDI: Prevention programming? I believe prevention programming will
become mandatory as the part of the campus save act which was passed last
spring as the part of the reauthorization of the violence against women
act. The justice department as part of these recommendations is supposed
to be piloting and evaluating some of the most effective prevention
programs. These are positive steps. And I don`t want to downplay them.
At the same time, when I was -- what I was trying to get at was a lot of
the students that I have spoken with have expressed, you know, a fear that
perhaps what may come out of the task force is simply a public service
announcement. And what they want is better federal enforcement.
LOMBARDI: That`s what they want.
MELBER: I think that is well put. I think that is the important part.
And the awareness as the step as your saying and improvements from `09 or
improvements in the Congress and yet so much more to do.
We are out of time, but I hope we can revisit this, and revisit it with
you. Thank you very much. Kristin Lombardi gets the last word tonight.
LOMBARDI: Thank you very much.
MELBER: I have been Ari Melber, in here for Lawrence O`Donnell. All In
with Chris Hayes is up next.
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