All In With Chris Hayes, Friday, May 16th, 2014
Read the transcript from the Friday show
ALL IN with CHRIS HAYES
May 16, 2014
Guest: Chris Murphy, Leola Brown Montgomery, Linda Brown Thompson, Cheryl
Brown Henderson, William Barber, Glenn Greenwald
CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: Good evening from New York. I`m Chris
And Harry Reid has declared war.
SEN. HARRY REID (D-NV), MAJORITY LEADER: They absolutely expect
monetary returns on their investments in buying America. That`s what this
is all about, Mr. President. The Koch`s bid for a hostile takeover of
American democracy is calculated to make themselves even richer.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: The Senate majority leader took to the floor of the Senate
yesterday for a blistering speech, declaring war not on the Republican
Party or his Senate adversary, Mitch McConnell, but rather on the
billionaire brothers funding the conservative movement, and on a system
that has allowed plutocrats to pour unprecedented money into politics,
drowning out representative democracy in America in the process.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REID: The Supreme Court has included money with speech. So, the more
money, more speech, more influence on democracy. What kind of a system is
that? It`s wrong.
Every American should have the same ability to influence our political
system. One American, one vote.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: This was more than just rhetoric. In that speech, Reid
announced he would support and bring to the floor a constitutional
amendment that would allow Congress to regulate money in politics,
effectively turning back Supreme Court ruling after Supreme Court ruling,
as giving the 1 percent enormous influence over elections.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REID: I understand that we Senate Democrats are proposing something
that`s no small thing. Amending our Constitution is not something any of
us should take lightly. But the flood of special interest money into our
American democracy is one of the glaring threats the system of government
has ever faced.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Harry Reid`s Republican counterpart Mitch McConnell is only
too happy to fight this very same war because if there`s a single lone
principle for which Mitch McConnell stands and has stood throughout his
career, it is the principle of unfettered money being allowed to influence
elections. He has fought to eliminate caps on campaign contributions. He
was even the lead named plaintiff on a Supreme Court challenge to the
McCain-Feingold campaign finance law.
So, after Harry Reid spoke, McConnell took to the floor to fight for
free spending of billionaires, even if it freezes out the free speech of
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MINORITY LEADER: Instead of robust, free
wheeling debates about the important issues of the day, we get bizarre
monologues about the Democrats` latest bill. We get silly, shameful
attacks on private citizens. They`re already muzzling our constituents by
blocking amendments. Now, they want to muzzle them even more by changing
the Bill of Rights.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Harry Reid made clear he`s all in on this fight, telling
"BuzzFeed" he will force multiple votes on the constitutional amendment and
vowing he will not walk away from the Koch brothers, saying he`s going to
be on their tail the whole campaign.
While constitutional amendment is almost certainly not going to won`t
become law soon, it`s increasingly clear this is the terrain Democrats plan
to fight on this election season. #Benghazi on one side, American
plutocracy on the other. Strange political days ahead.
Joining me now, Senator Chris Murphy, Democrat from Connecticut.
Senator Murphy, my understanding is you support this amendment, but is
this not just a campaign stunt, essentially a thing to do to get the base
ginned up in the midterms? Is there actual constitutional thought put into
SEN. CHRIS MURPHY (D), CONNECTICUT: Well, listen, I don`t think it`s
a news flash that this constitutional amendment is not likely to pass. But
the point is we need to wake the American people up to what`s happening.
This is not about politics or about energizing our base. This is about
trying to inspire a movement of regular average everyday people out there,
to recognize that there are 190 or so people out there that are 60 percent
of donors to super PACs, who, by the way, are now spending more money in
campaigns than individual candidates are together, that they`re on the
verge of taking over our democracy, on the idea that somebody like Sheldon
Adelson could advertise he is going to back a Republican presidential
candidate and then command individual audiences at his house, with half of
the Republican field tells you right now that we are on the verge of losing
Adelson is not doing that because he has personal interest in the
race, he wants to be sure his business interests are backed by the
Republican presidential candidate. That`s what`s happening with him, with
the Koch brothers. And it`s time that we had debate on the Senate floor,
if not to pass the amendment to wake folks up as to what`s happening.
HAYES: Here are numbers to bear out what you`re saying, that dark
money is off the charts. I mean, between 2006 and 2012, this is on track
to be the darkest money election in history, according to Center for
Responsive Politics. And, of course, every election is going to get more
like this, unless something changes either legally or constitutionally.
What about this idea that it is unfair or improper in some sense to go
after what Mitch McConnell called private citizens? After all, the Koch
brothers or Sheldon Adelson, they`re just American citizens, they haven`t
run for office, they`re haven`t subjected themselves to Senate confirmation
or anything like that.
Is it untoward to be talking about these people all the time?
MURPHY: Well, listen, they are private citizens, but they actively
decided to try to grab the reins of government through private spending
with no transparency. They have clearly subjected themselves to criticism
and public debate by actively trying to grab government.
And, yes, the statistics are what they are because there`s two things
that are happening. These guys are spending more money, but Republican
candidates are raising less money because all of the donors are figuring
out there`s no reason to make a transparent donation to an individual
candidate when you can spend money in a nontransparent way through a super
PAC and the Republicans themselves can`t stop creating money. If they get
in a tough race, one of these big robber barons will just ride to their
And so, within the Republican Party in particular, this is a vicious
downward spiral in which there`s increased dependency on a small handful of
a couple dozen super donors.
HAYES: Doesn`t that cut both ways? I mean, we have seen a lot of
news about Tom Steyer, who`s been spending a lot of money on the other side
of the Koch brothers, on particularly environmental issues and climate
fight. I remember about two years of my life dominated by George Soros
stories in the conservative press not too long ago.
I mean, you make it seem like this is a Republican Party problem or
Republican Party particularly in the pockets of these folks. Convince me
that`s not the case.
MURPHY: Well, it is a Republican Party problem because right now the
dominant amount of money is on the Republican side. Tom Steyer is a red
herring in the sense that Steyer is working to try to effectuate policy
that has little to nothing to do with his business interests, whereas the
Koch brothers, and Adelson and others are in this came to make themselves
I`m not saying it is exclusively an issue of big money on the
Republican side, but let`s not kid ourselves. When you look at where the
secret money is being spent, the predominant influence is backing
Republican candidates, and I don`t think it`s coincidence then that the
Republicans are going to the floor of the Senate in droves to try to fight
bills that they used to support. I mean, Republicans used to be for
transparency, but now, all of a sudden, because they`re dependent on this
money, they have walked away from conversations about campaign finance.
HAYES: Quickly, Senate, when Senator Murphy is in his chambers by
himself, or you and your colleagues, and you`re thinking about a tough vote
or a policy position, do you think about what super PAC will emerge in your
next election to beat the stuffing out of you based on that vote or that
MURPHY: So, a candidate or a senator or representative is lying to
you if they tell you that somewhere in their mind, they don`t think about
consequences in a vote they take and that has to do with who`s going to
spend money against you. And the fact is the big commotion in Washington
is between the Tea Party and the rest of the Republican Party because all
these, you know, quote-unquote, "mainstream Republicans" are really worried
big money on the Tea Party is going to wipe them out in a primary.
And so, this does come to mind when you think about votes. Luckily
some of us it doesn`t influence, but there are plenty of members that are
influenced by it.
HAYES: Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut, thank you so much.
MURPHY: Thanks, Chris.
HAYES: Conservatives are indignant that Harry Reid would are to
attack these upstanding private citizens, attempting solely to exercise
their First Amendment rights through huge campaign spending.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
MARK LEVIN: He goes to the floor of the United States Senate, day-in
and day-out, rambling on about the Koch brothers, who are nothing more than
industrialists who create tens of thousands of jobs, pay taxes, and are
concerned about the future of their country. No citizen deserves this kind
(END AUDIO CLIP)
HAYES: So true. Who would ever be so deranged and vindictive to wage
a campaign of attack of vilification against a politically active
(VIDEO CLIP PLAYS)
HAYES: Joining me now, MSNBC contributor and correspondent for the
Upshot at "The New York Times", Josh Barro.
Josh, it seems to me the right got a lot out of the George Soros years
and has done a 180. Maybe we both have done a 180. Maybe I`ve done a 180,
too, about how I feel about billionaire spending.
JOSH BARRO, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Well, I think the right has used
George Soros as a bogeyman. I don`t recall a lot of people calling for
legislation or constitutional amendments to interfere with what George was
doing, they wanted to shame him. But I think people on the right have been
generally consistent in opposition to campaign finance regulation.
HAYES: What do you think about the constitutional amendment?
BARRO: Well, I think it`s a bad idea. I don`t think we should have
restrictions on speech. And I think that spending on campaign is speech.
I think there`s distinction --
HAYES: Why is it speech?
BARRO: The distinction people try to draw between money and speech
are strange. What are we doing now? MSNBC is a corporation, it`s paying
you and me to sit here, talk about this. The process of getting this into
people`s homes is very expensive. Money is an essential part of the
dissemination of speech.
HAYES: Essential part is different and separable. I want to play
former Justice John Paul Stevens. I guess he`s always a justice. Justice
John Paul Stevens, making precisely the distinction, the same one he made
in his dissent. His excellent dissent I would add in Citizens United, take
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN PAUL STEVENS, SUPREME COURT JUSTICE: While money is used to
finance speech, money is not speech. Speech is only one of the activities
that are financed by campaign contributions and expenditures. Those
financial activities should not receive precisely the same constitutional
protection as speech itself.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: What`s wrong with that distinction?
BARRO: What was at issue in the Citizens United case? It was about
trying to place this basically infomercial about how terrible Hillary
Clinton was. The question was, is that a campaign ad, in which case it was
illegal to place it? Now, that was clearly a speech activity.
HAYES: But let`s be clear, Citizens United wasn`t founded on those
narrow grounds. That was a decision that could be this is this side of the
line. They didn`t say that. They said the line is illegitimate.
BARRO: Yes. But what else does a campaign do? They place ads, but
then they also do direct contact with voter. That is also a kind of
The purpose of a political campaign is to persuade people to vote in a
certain way, which seems to be fundamentally a speech activity. Now, you
know, they buy office supplies and pay for travel, but --
HAYES: So, is there no recourse if it is speech?
BARRO: Well, you could amend the Constitution. But I think people
who want this amendment should admit that it`s a restriction on speech.
Lots of countries have restrictions on speech. We have a number of fairly
narrow restrictions on speech in the United States.
HAYES: No, I don`t think people say it`s a restriction of speech. I
think people don`t buy the categorical conflation between money and speech,
right? These are distinct things. And actually, it`s not like people --
when people make the argument you`re making, right, it`s not like there`s
some bizarre alternate universe you need to talk about. It`s just the
universe before Citizens United. It`s not like in that universe, America
was a place that was like, you know, struggling under the yoke of
suppression of speech.
HAYES: It wasn`t the case then rich people could put up billboards
about their ideas and run ads. I mean, it just is not the case that the
world before Citizens United which opened new constitutional terrain was
the place in which the speech of those people wasn`t being hurt.
BARRO: Also, I`ll say a couple things. One, is that this amendment
goes a little bit further than overturning Citizens United. It actually
overturns part of Buckley v. Valeo, which is a decision from the 1970s that
HAYES: Which is the first finding that money is speech essentially.
And so, this constitutional amendment would allow spending limits.
They wouldn`t just limit, be able to limit how much you could give to a
campaign, they could limit how much a candidate could spend in total in
this campaign, including of his own money, and including, you know, he
might be able to raise such a large number of people that even through the
contribution limit, he hits the overall spending limit.
So, it would be more restrictive than before Citizens United. And no,
I don`t think it is the end of the world if we have an unwise restriction
on speech. There are lots of other perfectly pleasant countries in Europe
and other places that have a number of restrictions on speech that I
oppose, and think are bad policy. It doesn`t make them --
HAYES: Right. But everything is balanced against some other side,
right? The thing that is occasioning this, aside from whatever political
opportunities may be at play, it`s just the idea we are headed toward a
vicious cycle of oligarchy and plutocracy, right?
HAYES: I mean, it is a case now, the Citizens United decision did
what its critics thought it would do, right? There is a lot more money
coming from a small group of rich people to influence elections, and
there`s also academic research suggesting that in America, policy outcomes
are worryingly pegged to the concerns of the richest people.
BARRO: That`s all true, but I would note, it`s all in the money, and
it`s not clear how important this oligarch money has been in driving
electoral outcomes. I mean, Sheldon Adelson ha poured tons of money into
elections, spent $100 million on Newt Gingrich or something, that didn`t
get Newt Gingrich elected to anything.
And the influence wealthy people have in politics comes from a great
many channels, only one of which is political donation.
HAYES: It`s just giving them another one is my point, right?
BARRO: Right. It`s an open question how negatively this influences
our politics. And I agree, actually, I think it would be nice if we did
not have this system where you had the small number of people donating
large amounts of money, I think that`s a negative effect.
But I also think there are negative long-term effects from breaking
the norm that we don`t impose restrictions on speech. I think it opens us
up to other conversations about what other sort of restrictions the
government should impose.
And I thought the senator said something very telling there when he
was talking about Tom Steyer. He said, well, you know, Tom Steyer is doing
this for principle, unlike the people who give money on the side opposed,
they`re self-dealing. Now, I don`t think the senator is saying Tom Steyer
should be allowed to spend money and Kochs shouldn`t. But it`s sort of
worrying idea that the government can get into the business of figuring out
which speech is beneficial and which speech is harmful.
HAYES: Right. And that`s why I think -- yes, obviously I think
anything that were to be passed would have to apply equally across the
ideological spectrum. I agree the distinction between who is doing it in
good faith and who`s doing it for self enrichment is a very difficult one
to litigate, and to my mind, not actually that important.
MSNBC contributor Josh Barro, thanks so much.
BARRO: Thank you.
HAYES: Coming up, tomorrow is the 60th anniversary of Brown v. Board
of Education, the ruling that struck down school segregation. Tonight, the
president is meeting with families of the plaintiffs in the case. I got to
talk to some of them earlier, including Linda Brown. That is the young
woman -- at the time, a girl -- who was denied admission to all white
neighborhood school just blocks from her home. We`ll have that interview
with her, next.
HAYES: Coming up, what happens when the Tea Party tries to replicate
Occupy Wall Street and the Arab spring? That`s ahead.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHELLE OBAMA, FIRST LADY: I believe that all of you are soon to be
graduates. You all are the living, breathing legacy of this case.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Just minutes ago, on the eve of the 60 anniversary of the
Brown versus Board of Education Supreme Court ruling, Michelle Obama
delivered a graduation address to the graduating seniors of Topeka`s public
Meanwhile, President Obama met with some of the surviving plaintiffs
and lawyers from what is arguably the most famous Supreme Court case in all
of American history. The lead plaintiff in that case is a man named Oliver
Brown, a union welder and assistant pastor, leaving in Topeka, Kansas, with
three daughters, two of whom attended segregated elementary school.
Brown died just a few years after the court ruled in his favor and
struck the first constitutional blow to Jim Crow. But he is survived by
his wife, Leola, now93 years old, and his daughters.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Leola and her daughter Linda, who
Oliver Brown tried to enroll in a white school but was barred, and Cheryl,
who`s gone on to run the Brown Foundation.
I started out by asking Leola why the case was started.
LEOLA BROWN MONTGOMERY, WIFE OF LEAD PLAINTIFF: The case was started
not because we wanted our children to sit necessarily to just sit in the
classroom with whites, but the case was started because our children had to
walk so far or be bussed so far to go to the black school. We thought that
was fallacy, that they shouldn`t have to do that.
HAYES: Ms. Thompson, am I correct, in order to document essentially
the injury in the case, that your father Oliver had to take and attempt
actually to register you at one of the segregated all white schools?
LINDA BROWN THOMPSON, ATTENDED SEGREGATED SCHOOL: Yes, that is true.
A part of the strategy with the NAACP was for the plaintiff to take their
child and try to enroll them the school nearest their home. So, my dad did
take me one day over to Sumner school. We walked over to Sumner, he tried
to enroll me in that all white school, but of course we were turned down.
HAYES: Do you have a memory of that?
THOMPSON: I do have a slight memory of that day. We walked over to
the school. He took me by the hand and I was happy because we lived in
this integrated neighborhood. I just knew I was going to get to play with
my playmates that I played with every day. I was going to get to go to
school with them.
And I remember walking over to the school with my dad, going up the
big steps into the school, and then he talked with the principal, and they
entered his office and they left me outside. I wondered what was going on.
And I heard voices getting louder.
And as my dad came out of the office, he took me by the hand and we
walked back home, but I could feel tension within his hand. I didn`t know
what was going on, but I knew something had happened.
HAYES: What was it like when you heard the case had been decided in
your favor, in the favor of desegregation?
MONTGOMERY: Oh, joyful, very much joy. Uh-huh. As my husband came
home that evening, I told him I was listening to the TV that day at home.
When he got home, I told him. We were all very joyful, the children and I,
they had a big meeting, NAACP meeting that evening down at the Monroe
HAYES: The process of desegregation at least in Kansas, my
understanding, please correct me if I`m wrong, started relatively quickly.
Did you see the effects of the decision firsthand in your children`s
THOMPSON: Well, I saw it in my children`s education, but as far as my
education was concerned, I really never benefitted from the case.
CHERYL BROWN HENDERSON, DAUGHTER OF LEAD PLAINTIFF: I think it was
the school board decided to try divide-and-conquer. So, a letter went out
in the spring of 1953, it was sent to the African-American teachers that
have been teaching three years or less, and the letter was sent by a man
named Wendell Godwin, the superintendent at the time, he said if the
plaintiff succeeds in their efforts that there wouldn`t be enough white
parents willing to have African-American teachers for them to be retained,
and they were let go.
So, when the case was decided in favor of the plaintiffs, spring of
1954, that fall, of the African-American teachers teaching three years of
less were fired in essence. Kindergarten through graduate school, and
never had a teacher of color. So in many ways, in the wake of Brown v.
Board, one of the things we lost was the educators.
With the Civil Rights Act, a decade later, with corporate America
opening its doors in other types of workplaces, African Americans didn`t
really flock to education as a professional career.
HAYES: With the 60 year anniversary soon upon us of the deciding of
this case, there`s been a lot of conversation and reporting about the state
of school today, particularly the dynamics of racial segregation, and
there`s been pretty good documented evidence that schools are now
approaching a level of racial segregation essentially not seen since that
decision in 1954.
I just would be curious to hear any of your thoughts on that trend.
HENDERSON: Well, Chris, I think on closer analysis, I always
challenge people, I am not convinced schools seriously desegregated in any
way we could assert that they`ve re-segregated.
I think the push back to Brown was immediate. A couple of examples,
three years later, 1957, when Congress -- nearly 100 members of Congress
wrote the Southern manifesto that basically said they weren`t going to
comply and that the South was not going to be encouraged to comply, and
that the Supreme Court had overstepped its bounds. Then, that same year,
the Little Rock Nine attempted to integrate schools and the governor closed
schools and Prince Edward County, Virginia, schools were closed for five
The pushback was immediate. And I think the pushback has been
consistent. What we see today is largely response to Brown v. Board of
Education. Even though court orders were pretty rampant in terms of trying
to encourage people to legislate people to integrate their school, through
busing or that kind of thing. But I really do believe that the pushback
has been strident. It`s been relentless. And in many ways, it`s
HAYES: That was part of my interview with the Brown family on the eve
of historic ruling of Brown versus Board of Education. For more from the
Browns and other plaintiffs` families, head to Allin.MSNBC.com.
Next week, we`ll take an in-depth look at how the state of Kansas, the
birthplace of Brown v. Board, has now turned into a laboratory for
conservative policy, writ large, including exactly what the current
governor of Kansas has done to teachers, how it could back fire on this
2014 re-election chances. Plus, the story of the small which thanks to
budget cuts is about to lose its very last school, Marquette Elementary.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I`ve always said that kids stay innocent longer in
a small town. Having a school is a drawing card. So, for a young family
choosing to move here, you know, they may look at other options.
MARY KAY LINDH: When a town loses its school, you lose the town.
Next is the grocery store closes and this closes.
KELLY FRENCH, PARENT, MARQUETTE ELEMENTARY: You look at the towns
that have lost their schools and you drive down their streets, and there`s
just houses. There are no more businesses. It`s kind of hate to say bare
bones, but it is. They kind of turn into ghost towns fairly quickly.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: We`re going to bring you that report and more amazing stories
from Kansas all next week on "All in America", on the road in the
conservative heartland and you will not want to miss it.
Coming up, in February, the largest civil rights protest in the South
in almost 50 years happened in North Carolina.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REV. DR. WILLIAM BARBER, PRESIDENT, NORTH CAROLINA NAACP: Now is the
time, and here is the place. We are the people. And we shall be heard.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Now, the state of North Carolina is trying to make sure it
doesn`t happen again. Reverend William Barber, the man you just saw there,
will be my guest, next.
HAYES: They said they would come by the millions from all corners of
this country, an uprising of patriots who have had enough with the tyranny
of President Barack Hussein Obama.
It started as a small brushfire in the West at the ranch of one man,
Cliven Bundy in Nevada, whose rhetorical gifts summoned them.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CLIVEN BUNDY, RANCHER: I want to tell you one more thing I know about
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Well, never mind that.
But, still, on the ranch, a small clutch of patriots notched a victory
for liberty after they fended off the thuggish hordes of the Bureau of Land
But that was just the beginning. Soon, it spread like a great
conflagration of freedom, crossing the country and eventually engulfing all
of Washington in flames of righteousness. There would be -- quote -- "as
many as 10 million patriots who will assemble in a peaceful, nonviolent
display of unswerving loyalty to the U.S. Constitution."
They were -- quote -- "prepared to stay in D.C. as long as it takes,
to stop the White House and Congress from total destruction of the United
States. It is now or never, God help us."
And today is the day that it would happen. And here is what it looked
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Where you at? Where are you at? We put the call
out last week, two months ago, five months ago. You talk about being here.
Where you at? Because we`re here.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: It didn`t turn out quite the way organizers had anticipated.
The American Spring, as it was dubbed, a kind of patriots movement to storm
the capital and nonviolently force the expulsion of those in government who
have betrayed our Constitution did turn out some people, just somewhere
less than the planned 10 million people, actually, less than 10,000, well,
probably less than 1,000. Actually, it was more like, stretching, 300.
The Tea Party in this country, if you will recall, began as a general
grassroots movement. Even if they did have big money behind them, and they
did, they also had real crowds, and real energy, and real organizers.
There were people by the thousands. I remember going to those crowds and
talking to people.
And now today, today, now, that is gone. That is dead now. The Tea
Party has been fully co-opted by, integrated into the Republican Party
establishment. It has won many ideological battles and done much damage to
the country, but as a grassroots movement, it is no more.
Today`s American Spring was, in its own weirdly poignant way, a kind
of funeral for it. Rest in peace, I guess.
HAYES: The North Carolina legislature is back in session after a
singularly destructive legislative session last time around, a right-wing
rampage in a state that Barack Obama won in 2008.
Corporate taxes got cut. The earned income credit for low-wagers went
away, which mean taxes got raised for poor people, and the state instituted
one of the most extremely restrictive voter suppression laws in the
The same people who pushed through all that are back, and this time
they`re girding themselves for a more hostile welcome, because this
aggressive stance by the North Carolina legislature sparked one of the
greatest protest movements in the South in a generation.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROSA NELL EATON, PROTESTER: At the age of 92, I am fed up and fired
up. Fed up, fired up. Fed up, fired up.
Thank you so very much.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Moral Mondays, in which Carolina residents took over parts of
the legislative building in Raleigh Monday after Monday after Monday, where
thousands of people gathered to raise their voices, be arrested, in a
direct response to the state`s conservative onslaught.
Now, the Republicans that run the North Carolina legislature have come
up with a novel solution this time around. Rather than moderate their
policies, they`re changing the rules to make the protests harder.
The state`s Legislative Services Commission met yesterday to -- quote
-- "tweak the rules" pertaining to large gatherings and clarify the
penalties for violating the rules. Those clarifications include a ban on
signs attached to a stick or pole, affixed to any structure or equipment or
used to disturb General Assembly activities.
The official explanation of the rules change, which came from
Republican state Representative Tim Moore is -- quote -- "What these rules
are designed to do is take away any notion that it`s arbitrary, that it
would be enforced differently from group A to group B."
In other words, us revisiting these rules on the dawn of the next
legislative session has absolutely nothing to do with the thousands of
people who have been a thorn in the side of the North Carolina Republican
Party, people who last year drove the disapproval rating for the General
Assembly up to almost 50 percent and who now threaten the political career
of Governor Pat McCrory and U.S. Senate candidate and Statehouse Speaker
Thom Tillis. No, not at all. It has nothing to do with that.
This was -- quote -- "the first major revision to these rules since
1987" by a Legislative Services Commission which had not met in 15 years.
Joining me now is the man behind the Moral Mondays protests in North
Carolina, the Reverend Dr. William Barber, president of the North Carolina
And, Reverend, do you believe them when they say this rule change had
nothing to do with you and Moral Mondays?
REV. DR. WILLIAM BARBER, PRESIDENT, NORTH CAROLINA NAACP: No doubt.
In fact, it has everything to do with Moral Monday, with people
standing up of all different races, creeds, colors, and kinds, Republican,
Democrats, and independent.
What we are really seeing here, if we put it squarely, is the terrible
tale of Thom Tillis` political tragedy and politically tyranny. The
tragedy is they spent the whole year hurting the poor, in the 60th year of
Brown attacking public education, attacking the sick, attacking teachers,
attacking young people, attacking women, attacking labor rights, and taking
North Carolina down the road of Tea Party extremism.
Now they want to turn, and Tillis has helped them to lead this, to
political tyranny, where they want to block and ban and undermine people`s
right to protest.
Chris, one of the rules they put in place is that if you bring a sign
in that a legislator finds disturbing, which means subjectively, you can be
removed or you can be arrested, if you look like you might disturb, it says
if you present what they call imminently the possibility of disturbance.
But it is not going to deter us. It never has in the movement and it
HAYES: You have mentioned Thom Tillis a few times there. Thom
Tillis, of course, is speaker of the House, Republican, now the nominee for
-- he`s running for Senate against incumbent Kay Hagan.
Do you think Thom Tillis is going to own the full record of that North
Carolina legislative session as he tries to win statewide election now?
BARBER: It is his record. He has to own it. He is speaker of the
House, one of the most powerful offices in the state. Speakers of the
House across this country are powerful. They dictate and they determine
how policy moves. He determines what comes to the floor.
It was him that made the call for this committee. The committee could
not have met and done its work and been appointed without his directing and
direction of Berger, the speaker pro tem, but more importantly Thom Tillis.
So, we are seeing is again this Thom Tillis tale of tragedy.
HAYES: So, this is Thom Tillis, who is -- you`re saying Thom Tillis
wanted these rules to be -- quote -- "tweaked" specifically to make it more
difficult for Moral Mondays to cause embarrassment to Thom Tillis and his
BARBER: Well, what we know is that he called the committee in to
meet. It hadn`t met in 15 years.
BARBER: The judge asked him to clarify some things. The judge didn`t
ask him to make more restrictive -- and we have already beat them on one of
the things that they have now added to the rules.
The governor last year tried to restrict us to a certain place to
protest. We took it to court, and the judge said, you can`t do this. In
their rules yesterday, they said for groups 25 to 200, you have to go to a
certain place. And now they`re saying you can`t protest continuously. In
other words, if they`re doing something, you can`t protest continuously.
And, lastly, Chris, they`re saying anyone who does not engage in a
normal voice. Now, you know that`s a trick. That`s the kind of language
that they used to use against black people, and labor unions, and women`s
rights. They would say that we were being abnormal and civil while we were
This week is anniversary of the end of the Birmingham campaign. Dr.
King was called abnormal. He was called a rabble-rouser.
BARBER: So, this is a terrible form of political tyranny. But know
that on Monday, at 5:00, we are coming back.
HAYES: So, that`s my question for you.
But I will also say this, Reverend Barber. I have had a lot of
conversations with you on and off the air. I have seen a lot of tape of
you. I don`t think I have ever heard you raise your voice once. So, you
should be squarely within the new rules.
HAYES: The question I have for you is, you have got now a new
legislative session and you have built this thing, this Moral Monday
movement. And it`s incredible. It`s incredible to see people come out.
It`s got seen. I read this really interesting article. It was in
"The American Prospect" about you trying to sort of broaden the coalition
of Moral Mondays. "The NAACP has pushed into traditionally conservative
regions of North Carolina, including Mitchell County in the Appalachian
Mountains, where an overwhelmingly white crowd packed an Episcopal church
last fall to listen to" your message, "Barber`s message and interrupt with
the occasional amen."
What is the strategy now going forward in widening the coalition?
BARBER: Well, first of all, we have been building it for seven years,
so we have been widening for quite some time.
But what we have done over the last year particularly with Moral
Monday is showing people their common destinies. When you don`t talk about
left and right, or Democrat and Republican, or conservative vs. liberal,
but talking about deepest moral values. We`re not asking people to go left
or right. We`re asking them to go deeper.
And in Mitchell County, it wasn`t just white. That county is 89
percent Republican. And so we have seen Republicans and Democrats and
independents come together. When they look squarely at how bad it is, how
much of a political tragedy it is, when people use power like Tillis and
others have used it, to hurt the vulnerable, to kick people when they`re
down, to undermine public education, to take away unemployment from people
who lost their jobs of no fault of their own, to hurt working poor people,
not just black or Democrat.
But 900,000 people lost their Earned Income Tax Credit so they could
give a tax break to 23 of the wealthiest families. And Ronald Reagan
supported Earned Income Tax Credit. When you can talk in those terms, we
are building the movement. Our young people are doing Freedom Summer this
We they left their last, we went behind them. We have done over 50
Moral Mondays around the state. So, the energy is not decreasing. It is
actually increasing. And people are continuing to mobilize.
HAYES: Reverend Dr. William Barber, always a pleasure. Thank you.
BARBER: Thank you.
HAYES: Coming up: It was front-page news for months. Now there`s a
new book and a movie deal. I will talk to one of the people behind the
story that revealed just how much our government knows about all of us
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
GLENN GREENWALD, FIRST LOOK MEDIA: His conscience compelled him to
step forward and disclose that the NSA has been systematically lying to
Congress, that they have been deceiving the American people, that they`re
building this worldwide spying apparatus.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
HAYES: Journalist Glenn Greenwald spent the past year front and
center of one to most talked-about stories in recent memory, arguably the
largest collection of exposed secrets in American intelligence history.
In his new book, "No Place To Hide: Edward Snowden, the NSA, and the
U.S. Surveillance State," Greenwald tells the story of how we got here.
And that -- Glenn Greenwald joins me now in studio, as opposed to on
the phone from Rio.
It`s great to have you here.
GREENWALD: It`s really great to be here. Thanks, Chris.
So, at what point is there diminishing returns to the revelations,
from this perspective? Like, I feel like, you got me. You have convinced
me they`re looking at all of us. There`s this one graphic I think just
released with the book, which is, the NSA`s approach to surveillance, which
is, sniff it all, know it all, collect it all, process it all, exploit it
all, partner it all.
I don`t feel like any -- every time there`s a new revelation, which
is, well, they`re in video games and then they`re in this -- I`m like,
sure, right, because they`re everywhere. Right?
Is there anything past trying to know it all that can be revealed at
GREENWALD: Well, there are still, I think, open questions, some of
which have been reported, but not fully, such as, who exactly do they
target for their most invasive kinds of surveillance, both here in the
United States and abroad?
Are they political activists or critics of the government, as opposed
to actual people that one would think about as a terrorist threat? And
what do they do with the information as well? So, there still are
reporting holes left to be filled that will be filled that will shape how
this story is remembered, beyond just the fact that they`re collecting mass
amounts of data.
But it does lead to this journalistic quandary, which is, you have all
these newsworthy stories. People want to know how they`re doing it in the
tech sector and elsewhere. And even though they may not be as explosive as
they once were because that fact that you just said, you still have the
obligation to report them.
HAYES: Once we know what they`re doing or we know now I think that
they`re doing a lot, they`re trying to get as much as they can. I mean,
that`s the -- you have said this, right? That`s sort of the stated
institutional goal of the NSA.
GREENWALD: To get everything, get everything they can, simply because
HAYES: Yes, get everything.
Is there a practical consequence? Put aside the rights violations
that might be -- the constitutional issues, et cetera. Is there a
practical problem that presents for the NSA in processing it?
I mean, if you look at their documents, the greatest challenge they
have is not, how do we make our way into terrorist lairs, or how do we
protect people`s civil liberties? It`s, how do we take this massive amount
of data that we collect every single day, billions of calls and e-mails,
and store it?
Even though gargantuan amounts of information can be stored on a tiny
thumb drive, they still have to build this sprawling new facility in
Bluffdale, Utah, because they simply can`t store everything they`re
HAYES: Yes. The scope of what is being collected sort of just from
an organizational standpoint kind of boggles my mind a bit, right?
How do we fix this? I think that, again, like, I am coming at this
from the perspective of like, yes, I think a lot of what I have read in the
Snowden revelations makes me think that we need to reform things, that we
have overstepped the bounds of the Constitution, or even good sense, or
even good intelligence, frankly, from a kind of operational standpoint.
HAYES: What do we?
David Cole had a review. David Cole is someone I like. He`s a
colleague of mine at "The Nation."
He said: "It would have more important and illuminating were Greenwald
able to acknowledge the choices we face about regulating surveillance in
the modern age are difficult. There are no simple answers." He says: "He
notably suggests virtually nothing in the way of positive reforms, sticking
instead to criticism."
Is there a way you can think of to -- quote -- "fix this"?
And I actually do talk about some of those in the book. There`s only
so much you can do in a single book. Right? I can`t both tell the story,
break new stories, talk about why privacy matters, do a media critique, and
then unveil the entire solution to the whole problem.
But I think that there are bills being passed right now by a very
bipartisan coalition in Congress to rein some of the domestic abuses in. I
think much more promising is the role that other countries are playing in
banding together to undermine U.S. hegemony over the Internet.
I think tech companies in America are panicking, and starting to use
their force. But, ultimately, I really do believe the most promising thing
is for individuals to start using technical products that encrypt their
communications and protect how they participate on the Web.
And that`s one reason to keep doing these stories, is so that tech
companies can know how to protect people`s privacy.
HAYES: That strikes me -- that`s a perfect segue to what I want to
talk about next, because that strikes me as a very kind of libertarian sort
of answer, right, which is like we`re not -- the best way to do this is
actually for people to individually use this.
And that gets to the politics of Glenn Greenwald, which have been kind
of a subtext for all this, the way you`re received and the way you`re
perceived. There are lots of people who watch this show who hate you,
frankly. I`m sure you...
HAYES: Yes. They hate Glenn Greenwald.
GREENWALD: Oh, my God. That`s so disturbing. I didn`t know that.
HAYES: They hate Glenn Greenwald.
And I want to talk about why that`s the case and what your political
project is after this break.
HAYES: We are back. Still with me, Glenn Greenwald.
All right, Glenn, I consider you a friend. And I am an admirer of
You have a way of making people very angry at you. And you have a
way, I think, sometimes, if you don`t mind my saying, of alienating
possible allies. And I don`t think is just my view.
This Jack Shafer, who says: "The downside of perpetually savaging your
enemies comes when you make so much noise, you can`t hear their sensible
David Cole, I think also in the same camp, he says: "The book would be
more persuasive if he confronted what is difficult about the issue, not
simply been satisfied with lobbing grenades at all who are less radical
than he is."
How do you respond to these kind of tonal critiques of the way you
have gone about reporting and arguing this story?
GREENWALD: So, I think, first of all, a lot of it has to do with how
you choose your path. Right?
So, when I began political writing, I didn`t have a big megaphone. I
didn`t have a large corporation that gave me a big camera or a newspaper
that gave me a big platform. I had to find a way to be heard.
And it wasn`t just the finding a way to be heard. It was the message
itself, which was one of the sort of fundamental critique of large media
and political cultures. And if you`re making that kind of critique,
there`s a tendency to just first ignore it, and then just sort of mock it.
And so you have got to be aggressive in terms of having your critique
heard. And the other thing is I think that one of the things that we`re
missing is someone who is some sort of outsider who does make very
unapologetic and unflinching critiques of political and media elites, in
part because there`s a cost to it, which is that the people who are
political and media elites don`t like it. It makes people uncomfortable.
And I do think we need...
GREENWALD: ... adversarial force.
HAYES: That`s true, but, like, this book is being published by a big
publisher. Like, there`s a movie deal.
GREENWALD: No, it has all changed. I`m just saying there`s been an
arc to it, right?
GREENWALD: And so you adopt a certain methodology for making certain
that the views that you think aren`t being heard get injected into
prominent public discourse.
And then you can say, well, once you actually get in, you should start
changing the style that you use and the methodology. And I think that`s
very co-opting. I want to continue to have the sort of fundamental
critique that still keeps me as an outside voice, and not feel like, oh,
look, I have been now let into the club. I`m going to start adopting these
And I understand that, but -- and I completely understand that. But I
think that the downside of that becomes, it`s like, how do we build out the
coalition of people that are concerned about surveillance, right? And it
seems to me that the way the Snowden story has played out -- and that`s
partly, I think, a product of that tone -- is that people feel like they
have to choose between Barack Obama and Glenn Greenwald.
GREENWALD: Right. Right.
HAYES: And there are millions of people who are like, I -- if that`s
the choice, I choose Barack Obama, right?
GREENWALD: Right. Right.
HAYES: Because, like, I like Barack Obama. And Barack Obama got a
lot of people Medicaid.
GREENWALD: Chris, but the reality of the political culture, which
probably immutable -- a lot of the people that you`re talking about who
watch your show who hate me five years ago didn`t. They actually loved me.
GREENWALD: The reason why I was able to build a platform in the years
of George Bush was because progressives, and Democrats, and liberals, the
very people you`re talking about, were cheering for everything I was doing,
and didn`t find problems with the tone.
I think there`s no shortage of David Coles in the world or Bart
Gellmans in the world, people who use sort of muted and polite terminology
and tone in order to make certain arguments. And they`re out there.
And I think that there`s a lot of those people, and what we need is
people who are making other people, particularly those with influence,
uncomfortable. And, of course, when you`re doing that -- and we have
always had people whose role that was -- you`re going to provoke a lot of
animosity. And that`s -- I think there`s a value to that.
HAYES: Yes, it is not the animosity.
To me, more the issue is just like I want -- particularly on this
issue, I think about how to make this issue resonate with people, and I
think about how to build political coalitions, about how to get kind of
accrete enough people together to have a focus, a sort of center of gravity
that is going to push things.
And I worry sometimes...
GREENWALD: I get that. But I think it is pretty hard to argue with
the results. Right?
HAYES: Right. That`s true. That`s true.
GREENWALD: Here we are a year later, and there`s a reason why the
interest level in this story has been sustained globally for -- I was
writing about surveillance for eight years.
You have to use innovative and aggressive strategies to make people
care. And there`s been huge shifts in polling data. There`s a Pew poll
that says, for every single year since 9/11, people overwhelmingly fear
terrorism, not their government, and now that has radically reversed.
So, yes, I would much rather have positive results, and be hated by a
good number of people, than the other way around, be loved by everybody and
HAYES: The Glenn Greenwald bumper sticker right there.
Glenn Greenwald, thank you so much.
GREENWALD: Thank you, Chris. Really appreciate it.
HAYES: That`s ALL IN for this evening.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY
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