'Up with Steve Kornacki' for Sunday, June 1st, 2014
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UP with STEVE KORNACKI
June 1, 2014
Guest: Jerry Nadler, Dan Wizner, Bill Scher, Leticia Van de Putte, Jeremy
Bird, Dan Cantor, Jarvis DeBerry, Kiki McLean, Glenn Thrush
STEVE KORNACKI, MSNBC ANCHOR: An American soldier is released by the
Taliban after five years in captivity. But did the U.S. negotiate with
Thanks for getting up with us. This first day of June last Sunday
President Obama made a surprise trip to Afghanistan to announce the draw
down that will leave fewer than 1,000 U.S. Forces in that country by the
end of 2016. This morning, one week later an Army Sergeant named Bowe
Bergdahl, who was the sole American prisoner of war being held in
Afghanistan has made it to the U.S. military hospital in Germany, this
following a dramatic and emotional release yesterday after five years in
captivity. This morning, we have the latest details on Bergdahl`s release,
including reaction from Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel who has just this
morning arrived in Afghanistan for his own surprise visit there. We`ll
also dissect a political blow-back here in the United States. Reaction to
how Bergdahl`s freedom was obtained. These were the scenes of jubilation
in Bergdahl`s hometown of Hailey, Idaho yesterday. When the word first
arrived of his release, these hostage video was the first glimpse of him
three weeks after he`d been captured by the Taliban outside his base in
Afghanistan in June of 2009. He seemed frightened at the time and was
worried most about his parents back home.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BOWE BERGDAHL: I miss them, and I`m afraid that I might never see them
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: Yesterday, several dozen Special Operations forces and a group
of about 18 Taliban fighters, on both sides heavily armed, an American
attack helicopter circling overhead. They all met in eastern Afghanistan.
The Taliban members handed Bergdahl over. And once he was on the
helicopter, Defense officials say Bergdahl wrote down the question "Special
Forces" on a piece of paper. When he was told yes, we`ve been looking for
you for a long time. The sergeant broke down in tears. Six hours later,
five high-level Taliban detainees were flown from the U.S. detention
facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, to the Persian Gulf nation of Qatar. In
other words, a prisoner swap. Last night Bergdahl`s parents joined the
president in the Rose Garden.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We will continue to stay strong for Bowe while he
recovers. Thank you.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We just can`t communicate the words this morning when
we heard from the president.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: We`re committed
to winding down the war in Afghanistan. And we`re committed to closing
Gitmo. But we also made an iron-clad commitment to bring our prisoners of
war home. That`s who we are, as Americans. That`s a profound obligation
within our military. And today, at least in this instance, it`s a promise
we`ve been able to keep.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: And as the president who is now under political fire for how
Bergdahl`s release was achieved. Critics charge that the release of five
Taliban prisoners could ultimately put American lives at risk. And once
released, it`s even possible or even likely that they will return to the
battlefield. Republicans in Congress like Senator John McCain, chairman,
Chairman Mike Rogers of the House Intelligence Committee believe the Obama
administration negotiated with terrorists, breaking long-standing U.S.
policy. In Afghanistan this morning, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel told
reporters that this is a happy day. He stated that this was a prisoner of
war exchange and he said that Bergdahl`s health was in jeopardy. The
administration officials say that because there were no direct talks with
the Taliban the U.S. did not negotiate with the Taliban. Instead, messages
were passed by officials of the government of Qatar. So, is this
semantics? Or is the proper lens for viewing what has taken place?
There`s no question that having Sergeant Bergdahl now in a U.S. medical
hospital in Germany and ultimately home to his family in Idaho is a great
thing. It`s long overdue turn of events, but what was the true cost of
bringing that about? Joining me now, we have Congressman Jerry Nadler,
he`s a Democrat from New York and Perry Bacon Junior, he`s a senior
political reporter with NBC News.
And Congressman, I`ll start with you. I mean we`re sort of - as I
understand that we are in a little bit uncharted territory here. I mean
prisoner of war exchanges in the traditional sense, nothing new, if the
U.S. is at war with another nation, we have some of theirs, they have some
of ours, there could be a swap like that. We`ve seen that before. We`re
talking more about, you know, an insurgency here that sort of captured
Bergdahl. Possibly you can say it`s a terrorist who had him and we have a
middleman that we are negotiating with. Is it appropriate, do you think,
for the U.S. government to be negotiating the way it did when it`s not
really an enemy, a foreign government that has him captured?
REP. JERRY NADLER (D) NEW YORK: I think it is appropriate. We`ve done
this before, obviously, going back to the Civil War. Going back to the
Revolutionary War, for that matter. Prisoner of war exchanges. Are there
risks to it? Sure, there are risks. On the other hand, if you left
Sergeant Bergdahl in the custody of the Taliban, there`s a huge risk there.
And one of the things we always tell our troops is we don`t leave our
wounded or we don`t leave people behind in the battlefield. You have to do
something like this.
Now, we have prisoners in Guantanamo. And the theory, with which we`re
holding them is that they`re prisoners of war. Not that they`re
terrorists, that they`re prisoners of war. If they`re terrorists, you try
them. And they should be tried, some of them, but maybe all of them, but
we`re holding them without trial under the theory that they`re prisoners of
war. Well, if they`re prisoners of war, you can exchange a prisoner - you
can have a prisoner of war exchange.
KORNACKI: But we are talking about, now this is - the reporting that`s
coming out say that the five who have been released from Guantanamo are
actually among, at least according to the report that`s out there - among
the more dangerous who were in there. You are talking about two apparently
senior militant commanders, this is from "The New York Times." They were
linked to attacks that have killed Americans and allies. Also to mass
killings of Afghan --
NADLER: Linked to attacks that killed Americans. In a war. Either it`s a
war or it isn`t. We are holding them as prisoners of war. If we`re not
holding them as prisoners of war. You have to try them or you have to
release them. We`re holding them as prisoners of war and, of course, enemy
soldiers kill Americans and we kill enemy soldiers.
KORNACKI: So, are you and as a member of Congress right here. I mean
look, on the one hand --
NADLER: Am I concerned about what they might do?
NADLER: Of course, I`m concerned about what they might do, but I`m also
concerned about the fact that Sergeant Bergdahl could have died in
captivity. We have to - You have to get your people out. And we`re in a
war, with - perhaps without end. You can`t leave your prisoners there
KORNACKI: So, Perry, let me read, we referenced this I think in the intro
here, this is Mike Rogers, Republican chairman of the House Intelligence
Committee. It was his reaction yesterday, he said I have little confidence
in the security assurances regarding the movement and activities of the
now-released Taliban leaders. And I have even less confidence in this
administration`s willingness to ensure they are enforced. I believe this
decision will threaten the lives of American soldiers for years to come.
So apparently, these five have been released back to - they`ve been
released to Qatar and there`s some kind of assurance, I guess a travel
prohibition for one year. I guess there`s a question of how do you enforce
that. How enforceable is that? What can happen even when they`re still in
Qatar? But the domestic politics of this, I mean already we`re seeing
criticism like this being raised from Republicans, is this something you
expect to hear more of?
PERRY BACON JR., NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: I do. The key thing is, this
happened this week during a week where the Republicans were already upset
that the president set a very precise timetable for when troops are leaving
Afghanistan. So, you`re seeing with the president views this as a war, as
a kind of - any war with an end, and his view is the war should end soon
and will be ending in 2016. And part of it is running the troops and part
of it is having these prisoners be released as part of the same strategy.
Obama actually mentioned it yesterday. The problem, Republicans don`t view
it this way. This is a war that should end. They view these people as
terrorists who could threaten the homeland. And that was one -
(INAUDIBLE). The second thing, it`s not clear the president had the
authority to release people from Guantanamo Bay in the first place.
Congress actually and the Republicans in particular really tried to
restrict what he can do with those prisoners there. So, I think you`re
going to have those two debates, did he violate the law? And then, is he
treading the line down the --
KORNACKI: There had been - I guess a signing statement.
KORNACKI: That was recently attached. And somehow he`s claiming what the
signing statement gave me the right to do that. I`ll ask the congressman
in a minute, but first, NBC`s Kristen Welker is live for us at the White
House this morning. And Kristen, I wonder if you can talk from your
reporting just about the basic dilemma here, you know, for the White House.
On the one hand, you absolutely want to get Sergeant Bergdahl home. You
want to give him to his family, you want to keep that commitment to anybody
who goes overseas for this country and then fights for this country. On
the other hand, the risk of putting five potentially very dangerous people
back out there. What ultimately tipped the scales for the White House?
KRISTEN WELKER, NBC CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think there were a couple of
factors here, Steve, remember these talks have been going on in some form
for the past several years. And then just several weeks ago, there was an
opening in these talks, I think the White House saw there was an opening
and they felt as though Sergeant Bergdahl`s life and safety was in
jeopardy. Quite frankly. So, according to officials here, who I`ve been
speaking with, they needed to move quickly, they needed to seize this
opportunity, they felt in order to save his life. So, a couple of points
that I`ll make, Steve. Of course, a lot of people are saying the U.S.
doesn`t negotiate with terrorists, the White House push-back on that is
that they didn`t negotiate directly with the Taliban. Instead, the Qataris
served as intermediaries. Now, to the point about what happens to these
five detainees who have been released, they`ll be held in Qatar for a year
and the officials there have given the United States assurances that they
will take steps to protect the United States` national security interests.
But the big question, Steve, and the question in the coming days is going
to be what happens to those five detainees after a year? How can the
Qatari government continue to assure that they can protect national
security interests when essentially the deal is only to hold them in Qatar
for a year? I have been told that the Obama administration was really
fighting to have them held there indefinitely and that`s just something
that the Taliban wouldn`t agree to. So this was the ultimate decision in
an effort to get Sergeant Bergdahl out and an effort to save his life.
KORNACKI: All right, my thanks to Kristen Welker, first live at the White
House this morning. I appreciate that.
KORNACKI: So, Congressman, let`s pick up the point. We`ve talked about it
a little bit, but in terms of the government of Qatar, of Qatar, excuse me,
I used to say Qatar, the government of Qatar making this assurance of you
know one year, travel ban. How do you look at that? Do you say, we can
trust this, this is enforceable? Or do you say they`ve essentially been -
they`ve been released now and then whatever happens --
NADLER: Well, they`ve been released in a year. I mean I don`t know what
happens in the year. I assume that the government of Qatar will keep them
there for a year. But at the end of the year, they`re essentially
released. And that`s the price you pay for the American prisoner of war in
a war. And when you exchange prisoners in a war. Yeah, they may return to
combat. That`s unfortunate.
KORNACKI: I think - of course, but they`re not going to be, they`re not
going to be prisoners in Qatar, right? They`re just going to be living
NADLER: Yeah, yeah, but more important question is what happens after the
year? And after the year they presumably can return to Afghanistan and
join the Taliban in combat, I assume. But that`s what you have with a
prisoner of war exchange. Sergeant Bergdahl can return to the United
States Army and if we`re fighting somewhere, he can go fight. Hopefully we
won`t be fighting anywhere, but that`s a different question. You know,
this is the question you face all the time. The Israelis were asked by the
United States government and did release about 800, I think, terrorists as
part of the peace negotiations.
These people - I`m not so sure they are terrorists. They are combatants.
In a war that we are fighting.
NADLER: And you have, and a prisoner of war exchange, is a normal
procedure. And unless we want to leave our people --
KORNACKI: But you`re also - you`re also talking about, I mean so you`ve
got the situation with the Americans and allied forces who have been
killed. You also have, going further back, apparently being linked to the
mass killings of Shiites in Afghanistan. So you are also - so it also
raises the question of people who have participated in sort of bringing
about the instability in Afghanistan, that brought this whole global war on
terrorism about, you know, 12 years ago. Being released back, maybe
eventually finding their way back to Afghanistan. Which, Perry, brings me
back to the question. Is there may be - there is some suggestions here in
the reportings, maybe a longer-term game that the Obama administration is
playing here in terms of trying to bring reconciliation to the government
in Afghanistan right now bringing the Taliban sort of into the fold. And
maybe this is a first step. Do you see anything like that?
BACON: They are trying to do that. I mean I think the core question is
going to be, we`ve had like ten years of war. Is the result going to be
Iraq, basically, as a dictatorship, which is moving in that direction and
the Taliban, as strong in Afghanistan after these years of war as well?
That`s what the Republicans are asking is, are we going to leave these
countries like where we started?
NADLER: That`s a very different question. And the only thing I can say,
my view is that it was a mistake to go into Iraq. We, we exchanged a Sunni
dictatorship for a Shiite dictatorship, which is going to be allied with
Iran. That`s net negative. And that was predictable, in fact, I and
others predicted that at the time. And in Afghanistan, we should have
withdrawn years ago. And whether we withdraw now or five years from now,
the result is going to be the same. Continuation of the 35-year civil war
that`s been going on there. We have neither the ability nor the duty to
dictate the outcome of that civil war.
KORNACKI: All right. Well, again, it`s one of those situations where I
think there`s, I can`t imagine any American right now isn`t thrilled for
the Sergeant Bergdahl`s family and just watching his parents last night
with the president, it was - it`s a very emotional thing to watch. At the
same time you do wonder what the longer-term effect is of having some
dangerous people back out there and we`ll see. My thanks to Congressman
Jerry Nadler for coming in this morning, NBC`s Perry Bacon Jr., we`ll see
you later in the show. Much more ahead this morning, including what do
you do when you feel a Democrat isn`t liberal enough? We`ll find out as
the governor of one of the biggest blue states in the country was able to
beat back a major challenge in the left. That happened, a crazy thing last
night. And next, Edward Snowden in his own words. Is the whistleblower a
patriot or a trader? Or is he even a whistleblower? Daniel Ellsberg is on
his side. That`s ahead.
KORNACKI: We finally learned the answers this week to some of the more
pervasive questions that have been festering since a massive U.S.
intelligence leak around this time a year ago, which also managed to leave
us with more questions than ever. Edward Snowden, the whistleblower who
leaked countless documents that revealed the U.S. government was using its
surveillance program to spy on American citizens, sat down with NBC`s Brian
Williams this week for his first extended interview with a U.S. television
network. Snowden described his years as a member of the U.S. Intelligence
Committee. He said in addition to working as an NSA contractor and a CIA
employee, he was trained as a spy. U.S. intelligence officials confirmed
to NBC News this week that Snowden had been a CIA employee and that he had
passed routine psychological testing. Snowden told Brian Williams that the
government has never shown quote "a single individual who has been harmed
in any way by his disclosures" and he answered yes to being asked if he
sees himself as a patriot.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
EDWARD SNOWDEN: Being a patriot means knowing when to protect your
country, knowing when to protect your Constitution, knowing when to protect
your countrymen. From the violations of and encroachments of adversaries.
And those adversaries don`t have to be foreign countries.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: The interview comes nearly one year after Snowden first made his
disclosures, one year since he fled the United States for Hong Kong. One
year since he tried to seek permanent sanctuary in South America, only to
end up stranded in the Moscow airport. The Russian government ultimately
decided to grant Snowden temporary asylum and the one-year deadline on that
is coming up this summer. And in all of that time, one of the most
persistent questions about Edward Snowden has been whether he shared any of
the documents he took from the NSA with Russia. Snowden claimed he hasn`t
because he says, he destroyed every document before he got there.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SNOWDEN: Let`s put it this way, if I`m traveling through Russia, and I
know I`m traveling through Russia and I know they have got a very
aggressive, very professional service, and I look like tweety bird to
Sylvester the Cat. If I look like a little walking chicken leg with all of
these documents, if I`ve got control over that. That`s a very dangerous
thing for me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: Edward Snowden told Brian Williams that whistleblowing wasn`t
his first attempt to fix what he sees as the abuses of the U.S.
intelligence, that before he walked off with the documents, he tried to
raise his concerns through official channels.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SNOWDEN: I had raised these complaints, not just officially, in writing,
through email to these offices and these individuals. But to my
supervisors, to my colleagues, in more than one office. I did it in
(INAUDIBLE), I did it in Hawaii.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: The NSA fired back the day after the interview aired and said it
had found only one email from Snowden, in which he asks for a clarification
on a legal issue. Not whistleblowing. Snowden responded to NBC News on
Friday saying, quote, "the NSA`s new discovery of written contact between
me and its lawyers after more than a year of denying any such contact
existed raises serious concerns." He calls the NSA`s release incomplete.
Adding, quote, "The fact is that I did raise such concerns both verbally,
and in writing and on multiple continuing occasions." As I have always
said and as the NSA has always denied. The Obama administration has
challenged Snowden`s credibility on many fronts, but before and after the
interview aired. National Security Adviser Susan Rice, dismissed Snowden`s
assertion that he was a spy. Secretary of State John Kerry called him a
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SECY. JOHN KERRY, U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT: You can go back to the Pentagon
papers with Dan Ellsberg and others who stood and went to the court system
of America and made their case. Edward Snowden is a coward, he is a
traitor, and he has betrayed his country. And if he wants to come home
tomorrow to face the music, he can do so.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: And Snowden said in the interview he wants to come home, but he
believes that under the Espionage Act, he wouldn`t get a fair trial.
Backing him up on that now is Daniel Ellsberg himself, the Pentagon papers
whistleblower that Kerry used as a comparison.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DANIEL ELLSBERG, FMR. PENTAGON WHISTLEBLOWER: He`s a fugitive. Not as
Secretary Kerry says, from justice, Edward Snowden is a fugitive from
injustice. He has no chance of getting a fair, just trial in this country,
any more than any of the other whistleblowers who have faced prosecution.
I was not able to put out a defense at all, in fact. Under those terms.
It was ruled as irrelevant that motive is not in relevancy. And therefore
I could say nothing about the fact that these secrets had been improperly
withheld all this time.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: I`m sure there is many who would be just fine with seeing
Snowden go right into a jail cell and never coming out, if he should ever
return to the U.S. But there are just as many who view him as a hero. And
you don`t have to take sides to believe that every American has the right
to a fair trial. So, one year later, let`s talk about the value of what
Edward Snowden has done and let`s talk about how well he explained his
actions to an American audience. And let`s ask whether the Espionage Act
needs changing. For that, I want to bring in Dan Wizner, he`s a lawyer for
Snowden and a director of the ACLU Speech Privacy and Technology project
and Bill Scher, he`s a founder of the site LiberalOasis.com, which made the
case - and it made the case this week in Politico about when the NSA was
still good for America.
So, in terms of how to organize this discussion, I think there`re two
questions I kind of want to start off, and just get both of your feelings
on this. Because I think there might be some differing views here. Let me
ask - start with the question of the idea of damage to the U.S.
intelligence community. Damage to the United States allegedly done by
these leaks. In the interview, Edward Snowden says hey, the government has
had a year, they can point to no damage. That`s - Ben, I assume that`s
something you agree with. But can you make that case?
BEN WIZNER, ATTORNEY FOR EDWARD SNOWDEN: Yeah, well, I think that there`s
a lot of accusations and very, very little evidence. Remember, we`re
talking about information that has been disclosed through news
organizations. The number of documents that Edward Snowden has revealed to
the public remains zero. Everything that has been released to the public
has been released because reporters and editors of the "New York Times,"
the "Washington Post," the "Guardian" and others, in consultation with the
government have decided to publish these stories because they`ve calculated
that the publication was in the public interest and they have not agreed
with the government`s claim of national security harms in those stories. I
do want to make that clear as a factual predicate here.
KORNACKI: But he - but these are documents that he took, this is, these
are highly classified documents that he took.
WIZNER: I`m not talking from the question here of legal culpability.
WIZNER: I`m talking about the claim of harm to national security. The
government has not pointed to specific concrete harms from the publication
of the stories, and in fact we`ve seen the Pulitzer Prize committee
agreeing with Snowden, not the government in giving a high journalism
KORNACKI: Right. But isn`t - isn`t there - If somebody can take this
many documents, documents this sensitive, and give them to a journalist and
have them published, isn`t there some damage there? Just if somebody can
do that and get away with it?
WIZNER: Some damage to? I agree there`s a serious problem. There`s a
serious problem, you know, the NSA can`t say on the one hand, we have 100
percent auditability, that`s what Keith Alexander said. We have great
internal controls, we have excellent discipline to make sure that your
information stays private. And then say that a contractor who wasn`t even
employed by the NSA could walk out with an untold number of documents. We
don`t know how many times this has happened before. So seriously, there
are serious, serious security and privacy problems at the NSA. What I
think Snowden was arguing here, was that the publication over the last year
of story after story about NSA overreach, that the government has been
unable to point to any concrete harms from the publishing of those stories.
And in fact, we`ve seen the opposite. We`ve seen for the first time
federal courts calling some of these programs unconstitutional. We`ve seen
Congress engaged in an historic reform debate, we`ve seen even the
president ending one of the programs, appointing two review panels that
have said that the NSA is out of control and we`ve seen a global debate
that should have happened before these programs were rolled out, and not
KORNACKI: So Bill, no concrete damage a year later, are you satisfied
there was no damage from these leaks?
BILL SCHER, LIBERALOASIS.COM: No, but we shouldn`t take Snowden`s word on
that. The number one, you know, he says there`s no concrete evidence of
damage. He can`t prove concrete evidence of abuse by the NSA.
KORNACKI: That`s my second questions.
SCHER: There`s some inherent secrecy here that it`s hard to get all the
data we would all like to have for a public discussion, because this is a
secret - this is inherently a secret program to get - to go after the
terrorists. Number two, the Ellsberg comparison doesn`t make sense to me,
because Ellsberg who released the Pentagon papers, did not reveal current
operations, it`s a different type of crime. And so, Snowden is facing
harsher music because he did a harsher thing. And if he doesn`t want to
cop to that, that`s, that`s his problem.
WIZNER: I`m not sure, Steve that the documents that Snowden released
didn`t show concrete abuses by the NSA. I mean one of them was an
Inspector General report that showed that the NSA had abused its own
authority almost 3,000 times in one year and the Senate Intelligence
Community hadn`t even seen that report before it was published.
KORNACKI: There was a part of this interview that really jumped out at me.
Because on the surface it seemed pretty scary and pretty - it was Brian
Williams took out the cell phone. And Edward Snowden just described hey,
here`s all the ways they can sort of monitor you and profile you just with
this. If you search for a New York Rangers hockey score in this cell
phone, they can build this whole profile about you. And he said, wow, that
will be - that sounds, you know, really scary, that sounds Big Brother.
Has that actually been happening to ordinary citizens? Is the government
using this for sort of, you know, for malign purposes against ordinary
American citizens? Is there any evidence of that?
WIZNER: Well, look, we`re learning more and more about that. But I do
want to say this and Snowden explained himself, I think, quite well in his
first interview on the "Guardian" website about a year ago. The danger is
not only what the government is doing with this architecture today. The
danger is what it might do with it tomorrow. That it is building a system
without the consent or approval of the public that allows it to capture and
store all communications. And essentially to create a surveillance time
machine that allows it to kind of hit rewind on all of our lives. Today
that`s justified as a counterterrorism measure. Tomorrow that`s going to
be used by the FBI, by the DEA and eventually by local cops, and that`s
because this kind of database doesn`t really help stop terrorism, there
isn`t a lot of terrorism. You build a haystack to look for a smaller and
smaller needle. But it`s an incredible forensic tool. It would help solve
a lot of crimes. And that`s why you`re going to have this inevitable, we
already have seen it, mission creep where these massive, massive databases
are turned over not to intelligence officials, but to law enforcement, and
that`s something that the framers would have been very concerned about.
SCHER: It`s exactly that kind of dismissiveness, towards a threat of
terrorism, which is why I can`t take Snowden`s word that he has not caused
any kind of damage to our counterterrorism operations. You know, he said
in the interview this week -- I take the threat of terrorism very
seriously. That`s not what he said a week after he revealed himself and
did an online chat at "The Guardian." Where he said there`s no way the NSA
is really doing this about terrorism, because why would they potentially go
after a potential terrorist when our police kill more Americans than
terrorists do? That`s not an attitude that says you`re taking terrorism
very seriously. I take the point that there isn`t a lot of terrorism in
the world. But there are actual terrorists. This is not a made--up
WIZNER: No, but it`s not what the NSA is doing mass surveillance for. And
if you believe that, you`ve been suckered. I mean they`re not spending
tens of billions of dollars a year trying to intercept every single
communication in the world because of terrorism.
KORNACKI: So, why - that`s why - Why are they doing that?
WIZNER: They`re doing it for a lot of reasons. So, in current usage, they
are using it for economic espionage, they are using it for diplomacy.
Basically, they have all kinds of customers, and three letter agencies who
go to the NSA and say tell us this, that or the other, and some of the
stories that we`ve seen recently have involved NSA passing this information
to the FBI. Passing it to the DEA for drug investigations when they`re
intercepting and storing every single phone call, for example, from the
Bahamas, that`s not because of al Qaeda. And again, the real concern here
is not today, it`s tomorrow. And we need to have a national debate.
KORNACKI: Do you?
WIZNER: Right now, no, I mean this is the key, the key lesson from the
last year, is that technological capabilities have outpaced democratic
controls and democratic debates. We should have been having a conversation
a year ago, two years ago, five years ago, while enduring the deployment of
this. Instead of waiting until this whole system was already in place.
KORNACKI: Should Edward Snowden come back and face a trial?
WIZNER: It depends on what you think should happen to somebody who
launched this global debate. Who is - again, his revelations have led to
historic reforms, to ending programs that even the president thought had
gone too far. If you think he should spend the rest of his life in prison,
then he should come back and face the trial. If you think Dan Ellsberg
should have spent his whole life in prison, remember Daniel Ellsberg --
KORNACKI: But -- .
WIZNER: He got off because the Nixon administration bribed a judge.
KORNACKI: He didn`t try to flee the country.
WIZNER: But Daniel Ellsberg says that the only reasonable option for
Edward Snowden to be able to participate in this debate - rather than to be
waxed in the solitary cell. Remember Dan Ellsberg was out on bail for the
whole two years that his trial was going on. Which is not what would have
happened to Edward Snowden by any means. Yes, Edward Snowden - because he
faced a legal regime that doesn`t distinguish between sharing information
with the public and selling it to an enemy, had no choice but to go where
he wanted to go now. I think that that it`s possible for us to work with
the government to find the way for him to come back and not spend the rest
of his life in prison, but the government needs to meet us halfway.
KORNACKI: We`ll see. We`ll see. You`ve got the one-year Russian rule
coming up here for expiration. We`ll see what happens with that. I don`t
know, I mean it always seemed to me part of the deal, as, you know, fair or
unfair if you`re going to claim whistleblower status, if you are going to
leak highly classified stuff if you`re going to bring it out there, part of
that deal is you`ve got to stand and take the consequences.
WIZNER: And do you think that people who used the Underground Railroad
should have stayed and faced the consequences of the fugitive slave act?
We don`t actually always mean that.
KORNACKI: To your likening -- .
WIZNER: That`s not what I`m likening.
KORNACKI: That`s quite a comparison.
WIZNER: I`m saying if Reverend King had gone to New York instead of going
to prison in Birmingham. No one would have said he didn`t stay in
Birmingham to face the music. Because he fled to New York instead of going
KORNACKI: But he - the part of the - part of the moral power of that was
that he, you know, civil disobedience. He was willing to get arrested, he
was willing to pay the price legally. Even if it was unjust. That`s part
of the moral power of sort of civil disobedience.
WIZNER: And it may be that Edward Snowden would have more moral power if
we never saw him again, because he was in a special -- special
administrative measures in an isolation cell and couldn`t speak to the
public and couldn`t speak to the press.
KORNACKI: Right. Instead he`s in a country that does that to its own
citizens routinely. He`s in Russia. I mean --
WIZNER: My view is that the response to what he did should not be a life
in prison. I do hope that he can leave Russia. He hopes that he can leave
Russia. One possibility would be for the U.S. to agree for him to go to a
third country, a bridge. A place that isn`t Russia that would be better
for everybody`s national security and the ultimate goal is for him to come
back to the United States.
KORNACKI: OK. We`ve run long here. I`m sorry, this was not a balanced
timing. This was an organic discussion, anyway, I appreciate it. I want
to thank Bill Scher from LiberalOasis.com, Ben Wizner from ACLU. It was
supposed to be two blocks, but might - it have been two blocks anyway, the
times we use. Anyway, lots more to come, including a small party on the
left that`s causing major problems for a big-name Democrat who is not seen
as liberal enough. We have all the late-breaking details in that
(INAUDIBLE), but first, the woman who is trying to turn the ruby-red state
of Texas blue this year. She joins us, next.
KORNACKI: Now, to Julian Castro who was on his way to Washington from San
Antonio to be the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development. This talk
with the rising Democratic star who could be a potential vice presidential
pick in 2016. The post has been a launching pad for vice presidential
contenders before, like Jack Ham (ph). And in this case, the buzz about
Castro has a lot to do with Texas. Three of the nation`s five fastest
growing cities are in that state and nearly a million Latinos are expected
to enter the electorate at a next presidential elections.
So, will the red state of Texas be able to stay red that much longer? Can
Wendy Davis in the Democrats actually turn Texas blue? That`s next.
KORNACKI: Ever since she put on her pink tennis shoes and filibustered for
11 hours against an entire abortion law in the Texas state senate, Wendy
Davis has been seen as a bright star and a galvanizing force for Democrats
in Texas. And Democrats nationally, too, for that matter. She`s now
running for governor of Texas. There`s a lot of excitement and interest in
her candidacy. But Democrats have an even riper opportunity to break
through and win a statewide contest in the lone star state this year. For
an office that weirdly enough may actually be more powerful than the
governorship. This is the race for lieutenant governor. An office that in
most states isn`t worth that proverbial warm bucket of spit, but in Texas,
lieutenant governor wheels enormous influence. It`s because in Texas the
L.G. becomes the president of the state senate. It`s no ceremonial perch,
it`s one of the most powerful jobs in Austin. And this past Tuesday there
was a rebellion inside the Republican Party against the current lieutenant
governor. David Dewhurst is his name. He lost his bid for a fourth term
in the GOP primary to Dan Patrick, a Tea Party insurgent.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STATE SEN. DAN PATRICK, (R-TX), LT. GOV. NOMINEE: Secure the border, lower
your property taxes.
PATRICK: And we`re going to get that done.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All right!
PATRICK: The people of Texas have given us a mandate tonight to get
property taxes lowered.
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: The Democrats believe that the mandate that Patrick received
from the GOP base, or the mandate that he thinks he received, could end up
unnerving just enough Republican-friendly swing voters to tip this race to
the Democrats. You can hear Patrick`s past as a - you can hear Patrick`s
past as a talk radio host in the political rhetoric he uses today. He said
the Texans must "stop the invasion from Mexico." That undocumented
immigrants are "bringing third-world diseases with them." The State
Democratic Party launched a website this week calling Patrick unfit to
lead. But Patrick says their attacks on him will not stand up.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PATRICK: Some Democrats have said they wanted me to be the nominee? Well
they`ve got me, and I`m coming.
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: To run against him, Democrats have turned to State Senator
Leticia Van de Putte, she`s from San Antonio. She`s the mother of six.
And she`s a pharmacist. Candidates for lieutenant governor run on their
own in Texas. They aren`t officially linked with their party`s candidate
for governor. It`s not unheard of for Texans to elect the governor of one
party and an L.G. from the other. Just why Democrats privately say -
privately believe that this race, the race for lieutenant governor, not the
race for governor, is actually their best chance to put a win on the board
in Texas this year. That`s why the "Washington Post" recently profiled Van
de Putte under the headline "Meet the woman who could turn Texas purple"
and it`s not Wendy Davis. In the race for Lieutenant Governor this year,
Democrats see a chance - a chance to show that even in Texas there`s such a
thing as too far to the right. And also a chance to show that the
coalition of Democrats are counting on to build their future in Texas can
under the right circumstance be assembled right now.
Well, here to talk about this race, we have a Democratic State Senator
Leticia Van de Putte, she`s the party`s candidate for lieutenant governor
in Texas. She joins us actually live from New Orleans this morning as
she`s taking care of a little business there. But Senator Van de Putte, I
appreciate the time. And let me just start with the question that you
know, your opponent now we know is going to be Dan Patrick. We know that
Texas is a red state. At least right now. We know Democrats think it`s
going blue. But right now it`s a read state. We know it`s elected some
very conservative people. This is Ted Cruz, Rick Perry. These are people
Texans have voted for very recently. So, the case being made that Dan
Patrick is too extreme for Texas. What is it about Dan Patrick that makes
him more extreme than a Ted Cruz or a Rick Perry or someone Texans have
STATE SEN. LETICIA VAN DE PUTTE, (D) TEXAS LT. GOV. NOMINIEE: My colleague
in the senate, Dan Patrick, who is now the official nominee for lieutenant
governor is reckless. It is not just the rhetoric, because he`s a regular
personality, and he certainly knows how to use the power of - to connect.
But it`s his record. It`s not just what he has said. It`s what he
promises he will do. And that is, you know when he says no more property
taxes or lower property taxes, our state doesn`t have a statewide property
tax. That`s local governments, that`s how they build roads and how local
governments, including our schools, have those structures. So, some
people, and those that are kind of know where to vote for us, really
believe that he`s too reckless for our state.
KORNACKI: And he`s - I understand the week in the primary, he`s the
candidate you wanted to run against, isn`t he? Because you have the
incumbent lieutenant governor, he`d been there three terms. This is -the
guy is what you wanted, didn`t you?
VAN DE PUTTE: Well, this is going to be a very stark contrast from the
really, the pro center portion of my platform, and what my record has
always been. And what Dan`s record has always been. So there`s going to
be a clear choice in November for Texas voters.
KORNACKI: So, give us a taste then, you say too extreme. And again, you
have a debate with Dan Patrick, this November, this October. Let`s say.
And you get a chance to contrast yourself with him. What is it? What`s the
one most important contrast you want voters to see between yourself and Dan
Patrick? What is the difference-maker for you?
VAN DE PUTTE: Well, Texas is always known for its spirit of working with
everybody across the aisle, Democrats and Republicans. What Dan Patrick
brings is to infect us with that Washington, D.C.-style politics of my way
or the highway. He`s already said that he would not work with Democrats.
Well, that`s not what we do. We focus on what`s important for the state.
And so the real contrast is, do you want to move forward, bring everybody
to the table. Take care of our infrastructure like roads and highways,
public education universities, or do you want to stick to the very narrow
and reckless view and the type of politics that Dan Patrick brings to this
KORNACKI: I want to quickly ask you, this was the Republican primary that
we just, we just watched sort of unfold this week, and finish up this week,
it was ugly. And one of the reasons it was ugly was Lieutenant Governor
David Dewhurst`s campaign used from the 1980s, the story of Dan Patrick, he
had a personal bankruptcy in the 1980s, there were tax liens, they drudged
up a lot of this, and they used it against him. Are those issues fair game
for you in the general election?
VAN DE PUTTE: Well, what we saw in the Republican primary was a horrible,
low in the gutter personal attacks. On each other. Mainly on Dan, because
I think the records on his prior finances. But I think the voters are
tired of that.
KORNACKI: So, your campaign will not be, there will be no mention of the
bankruptcy, none of that from your campaign going forward?
VAN DE PUTTE: Well, I think that -- all of people`s paths and character,
when you`re electing a leader, certainly financial steadfastness, the
ability to make sure that our budget is crafted in a way that is
sustainable, that`s important. But I could tell you as a pharmacist for 34
years, I was appalled. That so much of that personal records, were out
there with, with Dan`s mental health issues. I don`t think that serves us
well at all. And I think that people reacted to it by actually voting for
KORNACKI: I just want to try to make it clear, you are saying you think
the bankruptcy is an issue in this campaign?
VAN DE PUTTE: I think finances are an issue. I think people in Texas
respect those that pay their debts. Certainly that you know, we know that
you can use bankruptcy and it`s in hard times. But I mean when you`re a
multimillionaire and you haven`t paid millions of dollars in debt? I think
folks are questioning that. But more than that, it`s the direction that he
would bring this state. I mean if it`s really such, he`s such a great
business person, how come he doesn`t realize that our trade with Mexico is
$720 million a day. That`s our number one trading partner. Yet, he
chooses to demean and insult the people who live in the border areas that
are such a vibrant part of our economy.
KORNACKI: All right. Thank you, Texas State Senator, Leticia Van De
Putte. She`s the Democratic candidate for lieutenant governor in Texas.
You keep an eye on that race. And more on the long-term Democratic
strategy in Texas, trying to turn that state blue, that`s next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PATRICK: It is important that the Democrats understand, that when they say
battleground Texas, they picked the worst ground ever to have a battle on.
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: That is Texas state senator and Lieutenant Governor Candidate
Dan Patrick on Tuesday night after asking the incumbent Lieutenant Governor
David Dewhurst in the Republican runoff. We just spoke with his Democratic
opponent this fall, Leticia Van de Putte, and joining the discussion now,
on just what the realities are for Democrats in the lone star state, is
Jeremy Bird. He`s a senior advisor to Battleground Texas, Democratic group
working to turn the state blue. He`s previously the national field
director for the Obama 2012 reelection campaign.
Jeremy, thanks for joining us. So, we`re always talking about the idea of
when will Texas go blue, as if it`s inevitability, I can get that word out,
because of demographics, because the state is becoming much more diverse.
But that`s a long-term thing. We`re clearly not there yet when the state
is still electing Ted Cruz and Rick Perry. I guess, you know, when I
listened to that speech on Tuesday night from Dan Patrick, he`s basically
calling your group out right there. He say, and boy, they think the worst
place is (INAUDIBLE). What does it mean if Dan Patrick is able to win in
Texas this year? What does it mean for the long-term trends in the state?
Does it mean we are farther behind you? You party is farther behind than
JEREMY BIRD, BATTLEGROUND TEXAS: Well, you know, he`s very good at one
thing, and that`s a lot of blaster, which you saw in that speech. But
look, I mean you just talked with Senator Van de Putte. And, you know, we
start from the beginning on that Battleground Texas is about the long term
game about turning Texas into a purple state, about having the electorate
actually look like the population. But what Dan Patrick`s election - a
great - , frankly, in the primary means is that we can accelerate that.
And, you know, we have two competitive candidates, two incredibly talented
candidates. Wendy Davis and Leticia Van de Putte. And if we can get our
message out to folks, if we can have them here, someone that rhetoric from,
Dan Patrick and have them look at the candidates that we have, and their
backgrounds, we can make this state competitive in 2014 and then take that
forward into the --
KORNACKI: But realistically speaking, if you`re going to make, if you`re
going to put a win on the board in Texas in 2014, the lieutenant governor`s
race, especially with Dan Patrick as the Republican candidate, that`s your
best chance right now in 2014, isn`t it?
BIRD: Look, I think we can win both of these races, I think we can win the
governor`s race and I think we can win the lieutenant governor`s race. If
we can make the electorate look like the population. The polls that you
see now, the kind of rhetoric you see now from Dan Patrick and from Greg
Abbott are about the 2010 electorate. If we can get those unregistered
voters out there, if we can get the folks that are registered, but not
turning out to vote, we can make both of those races competitive this year.
And that`s just at the top of the ticket. If you look down the road, we
have a number of great candidates on the bench who are running for, you
know, state house, state senate races, county commissioner races. So, it`s
about the whole picture and we can make all of those races competitive this
KORNACKI: All right, well, again, we say this is a story that people have
been watching for a while in Texas and are going to keep watching for a
while and see if the demographic evolution does match up with the partisan
evolution that everybody`s sort of expecting. Thank you, Jeremy Bird with
Battleground Texas. I appreciate, sir, I was brief this morning.
Still ahead, new details on the release of U.S. Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl who
is now at a U.S. hospital in Germany. We`ll be right back.
KORNACKI: There`s breaking news this morning in what just might be the
biggest story of the 2014 election that absolutely nobody is talking about.
A liberal block of voters in one of the largest Democratic states in the
country decided their governor wasn`t delivering on his liberal promises to
them. So they decided to do something about it. Well, how did they do?
It all came to a head last night, late last night. We`ll tell you what
happened. We`ll tell you all about it, that`s straight ahead.
KORNACKI: The biggest political story of the weekend, possibly the biggest
story of the 2014 election, came to a dramatic head late last night. Just
before midnight. That`s when a last-minute deal that had teetered on the
brink of collapse all day was finally sealed. That`s a deal that survived
loud boo`s and cries of betrayal from liberal activists and that saved one
of the biggest names in national Democratic politics from what could have
been an election-year nightmare. In just a minute we`re going to talk to
one of the key players who cut that deal. There are a lot of questions
about it and even some of its allies seem unpersuaded. But first here`s
Andrew Cuomo is the governor of New York. And even though he runs a deeply
blue state. There`s a lot of unhappiness about how he`s governed within
the base of his liberal supporters. As governor of New York, Andrew Cuomo
has cut a different path. One, it skews to the left on cultural issues,
like guns, and abortion and gay marriage, but to the right on economic
issues. Cuomo has cut taxes on millionaires, estates and banks, while
reducing spending on public schools, championing charter schools. It`s
burning (ph) calls from Bill de Blasio`s progressive mayor of New York City
to raise income taxes on New York City`s wealthiest residents and to allow
the city to raise its minimum wage above the statewide level. So while
Cuomo is on course to crush his Republican opponent when he runs for re-
election in November, things don`t look as good if you add in a third-party
candidate. Here`s what I`m talking about. This is the most recent poll,
Andrew Cuomo, he`s a Democrat there at 57 percent. Westchester County
Executive Rob Astorino, that`s the Republican, 28 percent, it looks like.
That`s the - you expect. And look at this. Give voters a third choice, a
candidate from what`s called the Working Families Party. A left or center
party that has its own automatic ballot line in New York and Cuomo`s
support drops like a rock by 20 points to under 40 percent. Unnamed
working families - party here, and it snags a shocking 22 percent, almost
all of it from Cuomo`s high.
Those are very scary numbers for Andrew Cuomo. Yes, he still leads the
three-way race, but it`s suddenly a lot more unpredictable with that third
candidate, albeit an unnamed candidate thrown in the mix. Now, Cuomo has
made little effort to hide his interest in ultimately running for president
and part of his plan is to roll up a massive re-election margin this fall.
One that might attract attention nationally. As that polling shows, the
Working Families Party has the potential to muck that plan up for Cuomo if
they field a candidate. And that`s what the drama of the last 72 hours,
that`s what came to a head last night. That`s what it was all about. New
York is what`s known as a fusion voting state. What that means is that
different political parties can nominate the same candidate for the same
office. This is how small parties like the Working Families Party stay in
In 2010 for example, the WFP gave its ballot spot for governor to Andrew
Cuomo. And because more than 50,000 people then checked off Cuomo`s name
in the Working Families Party column on the November ballot, the WFP was
guaranteed an automatic spot on this year`s ballot. But two things have
happened since 2010. The first is that the WFP has gotten stronger, its
alliance with organized labor, which plays a big role in funding the party,
has strengthened. And some of its allies have won major victories, like
Bill de Blasio, as we mentioned before. The new mayor of New York City.
And, of course, there is growing grassroots energy on the left for
progressive economic ideas and causes, the kind of frontal assault on
economic inequality that Elizabeth Warren is championing nationally.
And then of course, the other thing that happened is that Andrew Cuomo has
moved to the right on economic issues, and so the Working Families Party
had a dilemma, the rank-and-file members are deeply upset with Cuomo. Many
of them saw that poll we showed a minute ago and wanted badly to run their
own candidate this fall. Liberal challenger to Cuomo in the general
election, someone who would carry the torch for economic progressivism and
deliver a message, a message to Cuomo and other Democrats that there are
consequences for snubbing the liberal base. And it sure looked like that`s
where things were heading. This past Wednesday came a report that Diane
Ravitch, she`s the nationally known critic of charter skills, that she was
interested in running as the WFP`s candidate against Cuomo. On Thursday,
though, Ravitch stepped out and a new name emerged. Zephyr Teachout is her
name, she`s a former Howard Dean organizer, now teaches at Fordham
University. And by Friday Teachout had her own campaign website and was
openly calling herself a candidate. Cuomo, she wrote, not only failed to
do anything real to prevent wealthy and corporate donors from buying our
politicians, but proposed severe cuts in education funding. We are giving
massive tax breaks to bankers and billionaires. This evidently scared
Cuomo back to the bargaining table and just before the WFP`s dominating
convention began yesterday, party leaders struck a deal with the governor.
In return for giving him the spot on the WFP`s line, Cuomo agreed to
publicly endorse key items on the WFP`s agenda, like allowing New York City
and other cities in towns to raise the minimum wage above - on their own.
But the heart of the deal involves this -- it involves control of the state
senate. This has been a dead-end for progressive legislation for the past
two years. Because there are actually right now more Democrats than
Republicans in the New York State Senate. So Democrats on paper should
control it. But since last year, a band of those Democrats has teamed up
with Republicans to control the chamber, thereby stopping progressive
legislation from making it to Cuomo`s desk. So, when those break-away
Democrats made their deal with Republicans last year, they did so with
Cuomo`s tacit support. And this is something that has infuriated the left.
And this year, many of those break-away state senate Democrats are facing
primary challenges. And so late last night this is how Cuomo described
those dissidents, state senate Democrats, when he addressed delegates by
speakerphone, "Either they announce that they agree to come back to the
Democratic Party or they will face primaries this year from our unified
Democratic coalition. I don`t just - I don`t want just a majority. I want
a majority for us, I want a comfortable majority. If we have a majority,
we will win and we will have a progressive agenda for this state.
And shortly after that, the roll was called and Cuomo was formally
nominated as the WFP`s candidate. But there was a lot of dissent.
Reporters describe the delegates` reaction this way, "End of Cuomo`s
speaker phone call. Boo, we don`t believe you. Liar!" And that`s the
question now for the progressives who made this deal with Cuomo. We know
that he got what he wanted. But will he actually deliver on anything he
said last night? Or did the left, which had a major piece of leverage with
a major Democratic governor, just get rolled?
Here to answer that and about a million other questions is Dan Cantor, he`s
the executive director of the Working Families Party. He was at the
convention last night. He is on about two hours of sleep (INAUDIBLE).
Dan, thank you for joining us. I have a ton of questions for you.
DAN CANTOR, WORKING FAMILIES PARTY: Sure.
KORNACKI: I just want to start, though, because it`s one of these things,
this is an issue, and this is a story with huge national implications. But
it`s also a very New York centric thing. So, to explain this to people --
CANTOR: I`ll put in the context.
KORNACKI: This issue over the state senate - I mean it`s shocking, but the
major concession that you got from this Democratic governor last night is
that this Democratic governor has now publicly said he wants his own party
to control the state senate.
CANTOR: It must sound odd to the ears of viewers across the country, but
this in a sense turned into a little bit of a fight for the soul of the
Democratic Party. Though it took place inside the Working Families Party.
Inside a third party for the reasons you described. You know think of it
nationally, there`s the Elizabeth Warren, Jeff Merkley, Keith Ellison, Bill
de Blasio wing of the Democratic Party and there`s the corporate wing, the
Bob Reuben wing. Our side cares more about inequality. Not just economic
inequality, but racial inequality, environmental inequality. On the other
side, they care more about being one millimeter to the left of the
Republicans and being more worried about their donors, from our point of
view than voters. So this was about whether something called the Working
Families Democrat, like there`s a Tea Party Republican? We think there`s
something called the Working Families Democrat. And we want to see those
people emerge as the leaders.
So that`s what was going on. It`s no secret that we have had big
disagreements with Governor Cuomo along the lines you described. Around
his economic program. Around taxes and spending especially, that`s the
heart of what government does. And so this became kind of a petri dish.
Could he make enough pledges that could be verified? That would allow us
to endorse him?
KORNACKI: Yeah, let`s look at these pledges and let`s look at the sort of
the verifiability of these pledges. OK, control the state senate. So,
this is a huge issue for progressives in New York.
KORNACKI: Because the state senate right now has enough Democrats to
control it, but these Democrats have broken away. They are with
Republicans and - So he now says last night that he wants these Democrats
to come back to the party and give the party control. How do you enforce
CANTOR: Well, by organizing. Listen we`re making a bet that this is, that
it`s in his interests now. As well as our own. As well as Mayor de Blasio
who played a very prominent role last night in Albany at this convention.
To flip the state senate, not just to flip it to Democratic control, but to
flip it to Working Families style Democrats who can actually get this
quite-important agenda on minimum wage, on public funding of elections, on
marijuana decriminalization, on women`s equality act.
KORNACKI: But I mean as - if you want him, you know, he said it last
KORNACKI: He`s backed up by - has he committed to provide money to you?
Has he committed to campaign to you?
CANTOR: So, there is an exciting, maybe transformational coalition of
forces that de Blasio and we and the governor and many of the unions and
many of the community organizations and environmental groups are forming to
take back the senate. Will we do it? That`s the bet we`re making. We
think we can, and when we do. We`ll have the opportunity to do all these
other things. Listen, politics is hard. Zephyr Teachout who emerged as
the last minute challenge, gave a magnificent speech, electrified the crowd
and it ended up being quite a close vote for an incumbent --
KORNACKI: But I mean electrified the crowd - the other side of that, the
crowd was by all accounts, I follow this on Twitter, like - by all accounts
on Twitter, the crowd was very hostile to Andrew Cuomo. And saying we
don`t believe him. What they`re saying is, he stood up there, instead -
that he`s called in by speakerphone last night at this convention, and he
said I want Democrats to control the state senate. They say fine. He says
that, it`s lip service, he`ll turn around and say, you know, hey, you guys
should come back to the Democratic Party. They`ll say no, and he`ll say
hey, I tried. Status quo stays, what`s to prevent that from happening?
CANTOR: You know, that`s the task of organizers and citizens and activists
who want to see this happen. We expect him to be out there in a very, very
public way. Helping.
KORNACKI: And as he committed to that?
CANTOR: Yes, obviously he committed last night. And this is a --
KORNACKI: Is there, there are also reports last night that he had
committed $10 million to a fund -- is there any financial commitment from
CANTOR: You know, this is all to be worked out in the course of time.
Obviously, it`s going to take money to win these races and money is going
to come from a lot of different sources. But what will really carry the
day in our point of view is ideas, is hard work, it`s people on the ground
hitting the doors. These are not gigantic turn-out races, we can win these
KORNACKI: So, there is no financial commitment from the governor at this
CANTOR: There is - no, there is not there - the commitment to this overall
project. And we believe that everybody knows how, what politics requires.
It requires, we have to have good candidates who are committed to this, we
don`t just want to elect more corporate Democrats, we want there to be a
shift. Listen, there`s history here, and you know, we will find out.
Whether we got rolled or do the rolling. In the spring.
KORNACKI: Right. So, well next spring. Here we are right now, it`s June
1st. We`ve got a long time to go. There will be primaries this year for
the state senate.
KORNACKI: A long time to go between now and November. If come November we
get to the general election and those Democrats, those break-away Democrats
are still with the Republicans, the state senate is still basically not a
Democratic state senate and Andrew Cuomo has not turned the state senate
around, do you go around and - do you still vote for him? He`s going to
have your line.
CANTOR: No, we`ll be unhappy if that`s the outcome.
KORNACKI: Do you vote for him if that doesn`t happen?
CANTOR: At the - in November? Sure, because he`s on the party`s line and
we want to maintain the party strength and vigor.
KORNACKI: I mean that`s what, the complaints that I`m hearing are saying,
you gave away your leverage. You gave him what he wanted and now you don`t
really have --
CANTOR: It depends what you got for your leverage. And we believe that
these are, as de Blasio said last night on stage this is a transcendent
moment in New York politics. We`re uniting forces that have rarely been
united and we`re saying we`re going to take charge of the process, flipping
the senate. Making it better, uniting with the lower house and actually
starting to pass some of these very important things that will make this
event worthwhile. Politics is hard. You don`t know ahead of time how it`s
going to turn out. But we are confident that this was the right decision,
and is very hard fought, it was - there was an actual political debate at a
KORNACKI: You`re --
KORNACKI: This was the most unpredictable political convention I`ve seen
in a while. I want to ask you one more questions, though, because again,
the other way the split was described to me in the Working Families Party
is that there`s the money for the Working Families Party, a lot of the
money and sort of organizing force comes from unions and then there are
sort of these citizen activists. The citizen activists really wanted
Teachout. They really didn`t want Cuomo to have the line. The unions that
have to have sort of a working relationship with Andrew Cuomo much more
resisted to doing that. Were you afraid that if you did not give Andrew
Cuomo the line, was there any indication to you that the unions would pull
out some or all of their financial support?
CANTOR: No. There`s, energy and resources on both sides, there`s accurate
description of the tension, we think it`s a healthy tension to have between
the organized institutional players and the grassroots activists. It was
hard-fought. There was a lot of goodwill and love in the room, even by the
end. I think people will stay united. And that we will see if we can pull
this off. I`m actually optimistic that we can. And so you know that`s the
time will tell on that score. But this notion that it`s not enough just to
be you know, half a degree better than Republicans, I think that emerged as
definitive in New York state and we hope national politics. There needs to
be a Working Families-style Democrat running for all of these offices
around the country if we`re going to yank the Democrats, we are going to
save them from themselves, so to speak. And that`s what we think we
accomplished last night.
KORNACKI: All right, we`ve been watching Andrew Cuomo as governor for
almost four years now, we`ll see if this is a turning point. If there`s a
new Andrew Cuomo after this. This is a to be continued story. Thanks to
Dan Cantor, he`s the executive director of the Working Families Party.
Still ahead, the very plausible scenario that could have control of the
Senate come down to just one race on election night. Everyone waiting to
find out who wins until December, a month after the election. It`s a road
we`ve been down before. Stay with us.
KORNACKI: November elections have a habit of sometimes ending in December.
Just ask Al Gore. We already know there`s a chance it could happen again
this year. A chance in the Senate, that comes down to one seat that we
might not find out whether the Democrats will hang onto the chamber if
Republicans will grab control for a full month after election day. Because
while the rest of the country is making its final choices in November,
Louisiana will be holding what`s called a jungle primary. Even though it
will be the general Election Day. Where all of the candidates for the
Senate, regardless of their party, will be listed on the same ballot.
And if no one breaks 50 percent, and the top two face off in runoff, that
runoff would be held on December 6th. That`s why the polls in Louisiana
are tough to read. If you look at this one from the "New York Times" last
month it might look like the incumbent Democratic Senator Mary Landrieu is
blowing out the field. But all those other names are Republicans. So, if
one of them forces a run-off of Landrieu, the race will suddenly get a lot
closer. This is the fourth time that Mary Landrieu has run for the Senate
in Louisiana, and two of her previous three elections were decided in
runoffs. Louisiana voted for Mitt Romney by 17 points in 2012, and only
one other incumbent Senate Democrat is running in a state that hostile to
Barack Obama, that`s Mark Pryor in Arkansas. The president`s disapproval
rating in Louisiana is 54 percent.
All of this makes Mary Landrieu, perhaps the most endangered Democrat up
for re-election in 2014. But Landrieu has defied Louisiana`s political
gravity before and her apparent strategy this time is to make the state`s
unpopular Republican Governor, Bobby Jindal, an issue. His approval rating
in the state is basically the same as Obama`s and while some red-state
Democrats are still hesitant to embrace the Affordable Care Act, Landrieu
is loudly attacking Jindal for his refusal to expand the state`s Medicaid
program. Saying in the interview this year that people of her state will
"find themselves in the Jindal gap because the state refuses to expand
health care options to the working poor at little to no expense.
He`s also playing up a seniority. Landrieu now chairs the energy and
natural resources committee, which holds sway over issues critical to
Louisiana`s oil and gas industry. Republicans don`t necessarily have to
win this race to take back the Senate but their path will be a lot harder
if they don`t. Which is why Democrats badly want to win this one.
Question is, whether Mary Landrieu can convince voters in a very red state
to give a Democrat a fourth term in the Senate.
Well, in New Orleans now joining us is Jarvis DeBerry, he`s an editorial
writer and columnist for the "Times-Picayune" and for Nola.com. And
Jarvis, thanks for taking the time this morning. So, a couple of different
ways of looking at this Louisiana race. Like I say, it`s so fascinating
because you`ve got that you know, red state, Democratic senator. You also
have the other dynamic is it was President Obama`s approval ratings in the
state are not good at all. President Obama has not done well in Louisiana,
but the Republican governor of Louisiana, Bobby Jindal is basically in the
same, you know, polling territory as Obama right now. So, how much of an
opportunity does Bobby Jindal, do Bobby Jindal`s struggles present to
Democrats. I know it`s a senate race, you`re talking about, you know,
federal issues, federal election, and it doesn`t technically involve the
governor. But do you think there`s an opportunity with Bobby Jindal`s
struggles for Democrats to benefit in the senate election?
JARVIS DEBERRY, NEW ORLEANS TIMES-PICAYUNE: I don`t think that Jindal will
play that much of a role in the Senate race, you know. I think that Obama
and his unpopularity in this state will probably be a lot more
determinative in the November election. Than Jindal`s popularity.
KORNACKI: So, what is the path then for somebody like Mary Landrieu? If
an unpopular Republican governor you don`t think it`s going to matter that
much and we know President Obama`s struggles in the state. So, Mary
Landrieu at least has a shot at this. Really looks like a 50-50 race to
me. So, what is the path for her as a Democrat to survive in a state like
DEBERRY: If the path exists at all and there is some question if it does
exist anymore, I think it will come from getting people who traditionally
identify as Republicans, to vote for her in this coming election. She had
an ad recently featuring Boysie Bollinger, a ship builder here in
Louisiana, who employs about 3,000 people. He`s one of the most prominent
Republicans in the state. He is now recorded an ad for Mary Landrieu.
Saying her seniority in Washington is important. That we can`t just give
this away, based on partisan lines so her real path is convincing people,
look, you might not agree with me on health care, you might not agree with
me on some of the more social issues that Democrats favor, but you really
need me at the table in Washington. And if you don`t re-elect me, the
state will suffer for it.
KORNACKI: When you say the path may no longer exist for a Democrat in
Louisiana, I`ve seen a lot of these nationally talk about demographics, are
you talking specifically about, you know, Louisiana, it`s a Southern state.
You know the sort of the racial polarization of the electorate is more
pronounced, especially in the Deep South than it is elsewhere? Are you
talking about the sort of the changes the post-Katrina changes in
demographics having an effect now?
DEBERRY: I mean I`m guessing the post-Katrina demographics play a role in
it, but it`s not all of it, you know, across the South, you see that
Republicans are getting more and more and more positions that were
traditionally held by Democrats. So, yeah, I`m guessing that Katrina
played a minor role, but it`s not the more significant role. The more
significant role, I think that being Republican is becoming more and more
of a part of what it means to be white in the South. And because of that,
she is struggling mightily, with white voters, she has lost them since
2002. And now she has to cling on to them desperately. And so if white
Republicans, white voters are more Republican than they used to be, then
the past to her re-election has to come about from convincing some
Republicans to vote for her.
KORNACKI: Yeah, I know you`re right. I mean I`ve seen the stats, I don`t
know Louisiana is offhand, but the exit polls from 2012, you look at like
Mississippi, Alabama, you know, states nearby, if you break it down by
race, you know, Obama was getting 95 percent-plus from African-Americans,
Mitt Romney was getting 90 percent plus among whites. I mean that is -
that`s the most racially polarized electorate you see in the country right
down in the Deep South and it could have a big effect on control the
Thanks to Jarvis DeBerry with the Times-Picayune, and NOLA.com, I
appreciate the Time this morning.
DEBERRY: Thank you.
KORNACKI: I appreciate it.
Does the press make the president or does the president make the press?
We`ll try to untangle that riddle right ahead.
KORNACKI: We have more news to bring you this morning on the release of
U.S. Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl. A prisoner of war handed over by the Taliban
in Afghanistan yesterday after more than five years in captivity. As we`ve
talked about, some Republicans in Congress are upset that five top level
Taliban detainees were released in exchange. Some also accuse the
president of violating the law by failing to notify Congress 30 days before
the deal. This morning, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel arrived in
Afghanistan where he met with more than a dozen Special Operations forces
who carried out the Bergdahl rescue operation, as well as other at the
base. There are reports this morning the deal could have provide peace
talks between the Taliban and the Afghan government. This hour from
Afghanistan, Secretary Hagel seems to stand behind the administration`s
talking point that the U.S. didn`t negotiate with the Taliban but the
government of Qatar worked it all out.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHUCK HAGEL, U.S. SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: Well, first I want to
congratulate, again, all who had something to do with this, but also to
thank the Emir of Qatar, the Qatari government and all the people in Qatar
who helped make this occur. The transaction really was done by the Qatar
government and the Emir`s commitment to getting that accomplished. We
facilitated that in different ways, but in the interest of our own
intelligence and procedures, I don`t want to go much further than that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: This morning, Bergdahl is being treated as a U.S. military
hospital in Germany. And we`re told he has not yet spoken to his parents.
We`ll be right back.
KORNACKI: After carefully keeping them at bases leaving the State
Department more than a year ago, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton
is about to meet the press, her new memoir "Hard Choices" about her time
leading the State Department will be released next week. The book tour
will include interviews with journalists like Diane Sawyer and Greta Van
Susteren. . This week NBC News learned that Clinton`s camp has hired
former National Security Council`s spokesman Tommy Vietor and Democratic
strategist Kiki McLean helped manage the response to the book. Their job
will be to train and deploy surrogates to defend Clinton`s account of the
tragic attack that killed four Americans in Benghazi in 2012. After more
than three decades in public life, it seems to say, it seems safe to say at
least this much about Bill and Hillary Clinton, they don`t like the
In a recent piece for Politico magazine, reporters Glenn Thrush and Maggie
Haberman surveyed more than 30 people close to Hillary Clinton. They
concluded that if Clinton doesn`t run, the biggest reason will be the
media. When asked why Clinton hasn`t had a closer relationship with the
press, one veteran of her campaign told the two reporters quote "She hates
you. Period. That`s never going to change." Former Clinton White House
Press Secretary, Mike McCurry put it a little more delicately, quote, when
you get beat up so often, you just get very cautious.
When Clinton ran for the Democratic nomination for president in 2008, news
coverage was often kinder to then Senator Barack Obama. In October 2007
report from the Pew Research Center found that Clinton got dramatically
more negative coverage in the first few months - in the first month of the
presidential campaign than Barack Obama. Pew studied the number of
positive and negative stories written about then candidate Barack Obama and
then candidate Hillary Clinton. While her coverage tilted negatively by 11
points, Obama`s coverage tilted positively by 31 points. Multiple
"Saturday Night Live" sketches parodied this reality featuring the press
grilling Clinton while fondling over Obama. An exasperated Clinton
invoked, those SNL parodies at a debate in the February of 2008.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HILLARY CLINTON: Well, can I just point out that in the last several
debates, I seem to get the first question all the time. And I don`t mind,
I`ll be happy to field them, but I do find it curious, and if anybody saw
"Saturday Night Live," maybe we should ask Barack if he is comfortable and
needs another pillow. I just find it kind of curious that I keep getting
the first question on all of these issues.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: Reporters complained that Clinton wasn`t accessible on the
campaign trail, but Clinton`s spokesman Phillippe Reines scuffed at the
idea. The amount of time she spent with the media would cover their
reporting. Reines told "The New Yorker" this week, "Why? Because she only
spent 90 seconds with them when she brought them bagels to the back of the
bus? If she spent nine minutes the coverage would have been fair? That`s
apparently the take-away, because she didn`t spend enough time with them
and their bagels, they couldn`t be fair." Clinton`s difficult relationship
with the press predates her time in the White House. When she toured the
White House two months before Bill Clinton was inaugurated, first lady -
back in 1992, first lady Barbara Bush and Hillary Clinton had this
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARBARA BUSH: The last thing I was going to tell you, I was going to say
avoid this crowd like the plague.
HILLARY CLINTON: That`s right, I know that feeling already.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: In her notes from a conversation with Hillary Clinton on
Thanksgiving Day in 1996, Clinton confidante Diane Blair (ph) reports that
Clinton told her "I`m not stupid. I know I should do more to suck up to
the press. I know it confuses people when I change my hairdos, I know I
should pretend not to have any opinions, but I`m just not going to do it.
I`m used to winning and I intend to win on my own terms." Hillary publicly
conceded that she should have had a closer relationship with the media
during the `90s, and in her 2003 memoir "Living History" she wrote, "I have
kept the White House press corps at arm`s length for two long, it took me a
while to understand that their resentment was justified." So, if she`s -
she`s about to begin another quest for the White House, will Clinton`s
approach to the media change this time? Will the media`s approach to
Hillary change? As this week`s "New Yorker" asks, can Hillary Clinton and
the media learn to get along? Well, to answer that, we turn to our two
guests, two veteran reporters who have covered both - who have covered
Hillary Clinton, excuse me, Glenn Thrush. So, White House reporter for
And covered Hillary Clinton`s 2008 campaign for "News Day" and Perry Bacon
Junior is back, he is a senior political reporter at NBC News, and he
covered Clinton`s campaign for the "Washington Post." And also joining me
- we have Democratic strategist Kiki McLean, we mentioned her a minute ago,
she`s been hired by Clinton to manage the media around her new book "Hard
Choices." So, Perry, I`ll start with you. And I mean as we showed there
in that clip from November 92, the story of the Clintons and the media goes
back a long time. But let me start with 2008 as a reference point.
Because you covered her - you covered her campaign back then. We have
those stats and certainly especially in the early going in that campaign, a
lot less negative press coverage for Obama than for Clinton. Clearly it
rankled her and it came out in that debate that time and in other times. I
just - at a basic level, the thing I was wondering about that was, is it -
was the press out to get Hillary Clinton? Or was it that hey, she came
into this thing as the biggest front-runner anybody had ever seen. There
was an open question of whether it was going to be a competitive race and
Barack Obama was sort of the underdog. I mean there seems to be a bias in
the press always towards the underdog. Is that what we were seeing? Or was
it more directed at Hillary than that?
BACON: I think she was right that Obama got covered more favorably. I
think it has less to do with that the `90s, though, than the fact that
Obama was this new person, a lot of reports - cover him. Obama`s a writer,
he`s a person who seems like he could be a journalist. He related more to
people who like, you know, write or think in terms of writers and
journalists, they related to him a little better. And Clinton was known
for not wanting to talk to reporters very much. I covered both of them on
Capitol Hill. And Obama was someone you could talk to, and grab off the
floor. Hillary was someone who was very careful on what she said from the
Senate and so on. I think that sort of colored people`s perception. Obama
on the campaign trail wasn`t particularly open, either and didn`t give a
lot of bagels to reporters, either. But the reception coming in to him was
Obama was a new person. People were excited about him. And people were
kind of dreading covering Hillary because her campaign was more closed off.
I think that changed as the campaign went first, but the beginning was
definitely a perception that Obama was somebody- someone more fun to cover.
KORNACKI: Yeah, I read that. Bagels line from Philippe Reines and I
said, I don`t think anything has changed. You know. Probably about the
same thing, but Kiki, I know you`ve been eager to get in here. So, what
are you - was it - what do you have on your mind?
KIKI MCLEAN, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Well, first I want to make sure
everybody understands I haven`t been hired by Secretary Clinton, I`m giving
a hand as a volunteer just because the volume of interest is so big, so I
want to make sure that that`s clear. The other thing to remember is
relationships between any groups of people change. And they evolve all the
time. I think that people saw tremendous coverage of the work she was
doing as secretary of state. And people, people love to write the media-
on-media story. And as a career press secretary, there sure have been days
when I felt like maybe some coverage to her or somebody else I worked for
wasn`t fair. And there were days when it was probably a little too good.
But the bottom line is the dynamic of the relationship. And so, when you
look at somebody like Hillary Clinton, because of the role she`s played in
our country and around the world, the volume of interest is so big and so
intense, there`s no way to satisfy all the press. There`s no way to give
all the access that everybody would like. Because the reality is she`s got
a day job of things to go do. And now as a private citizen she does them.
And there`s not enough hours in the day to respond to everybody that would
like to have access to her.
KORNACKI: Well, certainly, Kiki and William, I asked you - I mean in
somebody who has some sort of institutional experience with the Clintons,
you go back with them for a long time. So, I mean when I see comments like
we played from that debate in 2008. When I read the comments like I did
this week in the "New Yorker," I say, you know, I suspect that Hillary
Clinton in the Clintons look back at the 2008 campaign and they see, they
see the media, their media coverage as one of the big reasons why Hillary
Clinton lost that race. Do you, do you think that`s right?
MCLEAN: I`m not sure that in any campaign reflection there`s any one thing
that loses a race for somebody. And I think people want to place that
blame on anything. I certainly think that there are days that President
Obama got some good coverage and good for him. He earned it and he
deserved it. And there are days she got good coverage. She at that point
you have to remember had a much deeper record. For both as first lady as
the first lady of Arkansas, in the Senate for there to be critical
coverage. But the, again the intensity and the desire to cover her is
always tougher. And those analyses are always difficult. I will tell you
as you said as somebody who has worked for both President Clinton and
Secretary Clinton over the years, I was the press secretary at the DLC who
took President Clinton to his first "New York Times" editorial board. And
those were great moments, and I`ve seen them both engage in the press and
recognize the role that they have. And I do think that it`s one thing that
Secretary Clinton and President Clinton both admire and respect, and that
is the role the press plays in our democracy as a catalyst, as conveners to
move the country forward. And that`s something that they care about. But
just like any other group of people, under any other conditions, there are
good days and bad days.
KORNACKI: Well, so speaking of bad days, Glenn Thrush, in Politico,
"Hillary and me, the 2008 campaign was a nightmare, 2016 will be - will
2016 be as bad?" It sounds like you had a lot of bad days covering Hillary
Clinton, tell me about that experience?
GLENN THRUSH, POLITICO: Yeah, I love Kiki, she should have been at the
State Department given her gift for diplomacy right there. There was - the
problem really wasn`t necessarily just volume. We completely understand
the sense that everybody wants a piece of Secretary Clinton. You`re going
to see that. And a lot of resentments boiling up over the next couple of
days as she sort of cherry-picks who she wants to talk to. But the problem
was, this incredibly toxic relationship with the press that was really
engendered by her and transmitted to her now-infamous war room in Ballston,
Virginia, I mean there was a real sense of combat and I think from the
interviews that Maggie and I did with a bunch of former staffers who have
become our friends and associates over the years, she was always hitting
them with the question -- why aren`t you doing more to defend me? She
tended to view the role of, of press, of her press staff, as defensive.
Fundamentally defensive. She did very, very little to, to sort of
cultivate any positive press. And I think one of the reasons on the
flipside, why she was subjected I think to more negative press, than Obama
was, and I think that is really undeniable, Pew study or not, is the core
people who covered her at the very beginning, and I started covering her
for "Newsday" in January of 2007, full-time as a presidential candidate. A
year before a vote was cast, one of the big problems and Steve knows this
as well, is the core coverage was done by the tabloids. It was "Newsday,"
"The New York Daily News" and "The New York Post." The three of us covered
her every single day. So there`s a certain tenor of coverage from the New
York tabloid press that is fundamentally different than any other press in
KORNACKI: Well, so, Kiki, pick up on that - I`m just curious, too. Like
have, you know, have there been practical lessons, what are the practical
lessons, you think, that Hillary Clinton took about the media from the 2008
campaign. If she runs again, is she going to do anything differently?
MCLEAN: Well, first of all, there`s no campaign to have that conversation
KORNACKI: I said if. I said if.
MCLEAN: I don`t like to speculate about a potential presidential
MCLEAN: That`s theirs to do. But what I can tell you is that I think
every day, particularly as the media is evolving and Glenn notes that there
are now different communities within the media, right? And every year the
dynamic of what is the press corps and what the deadlines are and
technologically how they work, change. And I think every side has to
evolve with that as they move forward. And they`re very different, they
are very different, you know, the way a campaign is covered today is very
different than it was 10 or 14 years ago. So, I think those things move
KORNACKI: Very quickly Glenn, go ahead, respond.
THRUSH: Yeah, the other issue I think is where she stands. She`s very
unlikely to get a challenger from the left. And I think that really threw
her off her game. So her candidacy presumably will be fundamentally
different, too. And that will have a big impact, too.
KORNACKI: Yeah, I mean that the nature of the 2008 race, from the press
standpoint, I mean that was - we`ve never seen a primary like that. We may
never see one as dramatic and as stretched-out as that, too, that I guess
that would drive any candidate crazy. My thanks to Democratic strategist
Kiki McLean. She has been tasked - tasked by the Clinton - by the team
Clinton to help deploy and prep - with this book release. But more with
the reporters, as more to as Glenn, Perry right after this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HILLARY CLINTON: I could stand up here and say, let`s just get everybody
together, let`s get unified, the sky will open --
HILLARY CLINTON: The light will come down, celestial choirs will be
singing and everyone will know we should do the right thing and the world
will be perfect.
HILLARY CLINTON: Maybe I just lived a little long --
HILLARY CLINTON: -- but I have no illusions about how hard this is going
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: That was then-presidential candidate Hillary Clinton in 2008.
Maybe you remember that. We`ve been discussing the relationship between
her and the media with two veteran reporters who have covered Clinton on
the campaign trail. Glenn Thrush of Politico and Perry Bacon Jr. of NBS
News. OK, so Perry, that moment right there, she wasn`t just talking about
the press. But I think there was a little bit, that`s how she felt she was
being, that Obama was being portrayed by the press, by everybody. Not the
most inspiring statement, but one we certainly remember. But so, you were
saying something interesting in the break, though, about a distinction
between covering Hillary Clinton personally, and dealing with Hillary
Clinton personally. What that experience is like as a reporter. Versus
interfacing with her staff.
BACON: Like Glenn said earlier, her staff had this very much that the
reporters are out to get her in some ways and they, any story about any
subject, you`d have this very, in `08, very aggressive, very hostile
emails, very tough. In a way that wasn`t even about stories, it was trying
to explain some policy. Every interaction was very negative. Particularly
in the 2007 period as Obama was rising. And he was surprised that Hillary
Clinton herself. If you ever get to talk to her, we had some off-the-
records with her, would be very friendly in a way that I covered Hillary
and Obama some. I got to know Hillary much more than Obama, actually. She
was one that would ask about, she remembered people`s birthdays, she called
one of the reporters, one of the reporter`s girlfriends on his birthday and
said hey, you know, he`s not going to be here, he`s with me right now.
He`s covering. She was very friendly with the reporters themselves.
KORNACKI: Did Hillary Clinton that you saw in those circumstances, did the
public ever see her?
BACON: Almost never. Like she was much more relaxed in these behind-the-
scenes moments and a little bit more and I think - and it`s pretty funny.
And she could tell a joke and understood the coverage about her. There
were moments where you saw that but I thought in general she did not do a
good job of portraying herself as someone who I thought - who I actually
got to know as being pretty friendly and very - she`s very smart, I think
it`s pretty clear, but also a little more friendly than I think she
portrayed herself. I think you are seeing a little bit of signs that her
Twitter messages in the last, last moments have shown me a little bit more,
she`s going to run a little bit more like herself. She`s more comfortable
now than she was in `08.
KORNACKI: You know, Glenn, the Hillary Clinton that Perry is describing,
I`ve heard people who are closer to her than I am, describe her that way to
me. So I, I mean it sounds to me like if the public saw that, it would do
wonders for her. Do you think they`re going to see it in 2016? Or is
there something that`s preventing her or the people around her from letting
Americans know the Hillary Clinton that Perry Bacon knows?
THRUSH: Well, look, there`s a duality there, right? I mean there are, you
know, there`s no one Hillary Clinton in private. There are really sort of
two if you want to be painting with a broad brush here. She can be
enormously charming, funny. She has a really biting wit. In an - setting,
she`s more entertaining to be around than almost any other politician I`ve
been around. I talked about in that "Hillary and Me" piece this amazing
incident in 2007 where I was staking her out in Little Rock, Arkansas, and
my wife calls me up and tells me that our then four-year-old son has a
febrile seizure. It was very scary. He passed out. And one of Hillary`s
staffers came up to me and asked me what was wrong. And a minute later the
candidate herself was standing in front of me asking me how my son was
doing. And she could really be that warm when she narrowed it down. And
started to view you not as a member of the pack, but as an individual with
the real life. On the other hand, in terms of the way that she was with
staff. And in terms of the way particularly her reaction when she was
attacked, she could be enormously caustic. It was almost as if a switch
would get flicked and the Hillary that we would be more comfortable around
in an off the record very personal setting, she would then toggle back to
viewing us as this group of people who are really collaborating with either
the Obama campaign or the vast right wing conspiracy. So I think the issue
with her is not necessarily what is the real Hillary? There are multiple
real Hillaries. And which one she chooses to highlight is important. And
it really is much more a matter of discipline, managing herself. She
doesn`t have to love us. She just has to develop a good enough
relationship that it doesn`t work to her detriment.
KORNACKI: Quickly, I know, Perry, you want to say - it kind - it will be
so different this time. She`s now much more liked. Her secretary of state
experience has changed the perception of her. I think a lot of us were in
that campaign as reporters thinking - thinking of her as someone who voted
for the Iraq war, we all viewed in sort of political terms. I think now
and Obama, someone who opposed this for sort of rather the right reasons.
And I think now the conduct is going to be so different. She is running -
like if Elizabeth Warren got in or somebody that who`s perceived as being,
you know, more candid and forthright on issues, I think that would change
the context, but right now she`s running in a primary kind of unopposed.
That`s going to change the coverage a lot, too.
KORNACKI: Right, yeah, the difference between being opposed by Barack
Obama or maybe Martin O`Malley. There`s the difference - I`m sorry about
that. But anyway, thanks this morning to Politico`s Glenn Thrush, I
appreciate that. A busy, busy news morning. We have just received word
from a senior defense official that those five top level Taliban detainees
have arrived in Qatar. They were released six hours after U.S. Army
Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl was handed over to U.S. Special Operations forces in
Afghanistan. As we`ve reported Bergdahl has arrived this morning at a U.S.
military hospital in Germany. We`ll be right back.
KORNACKI: All right. It`s the time when we find out what our guests think
we should know for the week ahead. We only have one guest at the table.
Perry Bacon, the floor is yours.
BACON: So, Monday the Obama administration will announce new rules on the
existing 600 coal power plants. This is big news. It`s a big story in
terms of policy. This is going to be probably the biggest policy the
president will announce in the next two years. His signature changed -
changed climate change - reduce carbon emissions. It`s a huge policy
story. It`s also a huge political story. Because you`re going to see it
play out in a lot of key races like in Kentucky and West Virginia where
Republicans argue the president is leading some kind of war on coal. So,
this is like one of the Seminole event of this year in terms of policy and
KORNACKI: Yes, one that - reverberate in November. You know, Kentucky,
that`s the biggest - your home state. Biggest center race of the year.
Prediction out there. I`m a little groggy this morning. I stayed up late
watching San Antonio beat of (INAUDIBLE) last night. San Antonio is going
to beat Miami for the NBA finals. Anyway, I want to thank NBC News. I`ve
got another reaction from Melissa. I want to thank MSNBC news senior
political reporter Perry Bacon for coming in. And thank you at home we
joining us. We bet next weekend if you saw yesterday`s show, you know "Up
Against the Clock" had some celebrity pop-ins. Well, next week is no
different. Another big name celebrity guests joins contestant row. Hint,
hint, I feel the earth move. But next, here`s Melissa Harris-Perry and
today`s MHP working for a dollar a day, right here in the United States.
How is it happening? Who is it happening to and what`s being done about
it? Stick around, Melissa is next, we will see you here next Saturday on
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY
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