'Up with Steve Kornacki' for Saturday, July 5th, 2014
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UP with STEVE KORNACKI
July 5, 2014
Guest: Mike Pesca, Aliyah Frumin, Robert George, Dave Helling, Dave
Weigel, Bob Costas, Frank Deford, Mike Pesca
STEVE KORNACKI, MSNBC HOST, "UP WITH STEVE KORNACKI": No holiday this
weekend when it comes to big news in politics.
Good morning. And thanks for getting up with us. If you live on or near
the East Coast, there is a good chance you saw the fire works on Thursday
night, July 3rd, instead of the usual July 4th or maybe you`re still
waiting to see them tonight. But of course there are plenty of political
fireworks brewing this morning. A lot of stories that everyone will be
talking about all weekend long. We`ll going to get through as many as we
can. So, let`s jump right in by starting with Hurricane Arthur itself.
The reason some of those fireworks were canceled or postponed. Last night,
the Massachusetts Island of Nantucket bore the brunt of the remaining storm
as you can see, the Reuters headlines, winds from Hurricane Arthur wallop
from Massachusetts and the Nantucket Island. While there is no story yet
posted by the Nantucket newspaper, Inquirer and Mirror, photo showing what
happens when a downed tree meets a mini cooper. Luckily for what started
out as a category two hurricane when it hit North Carolina`s outer banks
yesterday, this has been downgraded to a tropical storm. There have been
no reports of deaths or serious injuries.
Joining me to talk about this and everything else going on this week, we
have Mike Pesca, he`s the host of the podcast The Gist at Slate, Aliyah
Frumin, national political reporter at MSNBC.com, making her "Up" debut
this morning, welcome to you. And New York Post editorial writer Robert
So, you know, little political world -- let`s start with the weather
because it really has been the story the last couple of days. And, you
know, there was talk a few weeks ago that hurricane season won`t be that
big this year and already July 4th, we had our first one, I`m starting to
think this is going to be a long year when it comes to hurricanes. I don`t
know. I`m against it.
You said downed tree and mini cooper. Isn`t that CNN`s rating strategy?
MIKE PESCA, SLATE`S THE GIST: Oh, boy.
But, you know, I do caution everyone. I think that the inclination is to
blame every bit of extreme weather on global warming and there definitely
is a correlation, but if you do it every time, maybe you lose some
standing. Even the best weather experts will tell you, you can`t
necessarily do that.
KORNACKI: And it`s the same thing as we`ve got, you know, warm weather, I
mean -- cold weather in the middle of winter. So much for the global
warming thing. We shouldn`t go one incident to one incident.
PESCA: Overall trends. Right.
KORNACKI: So that`s the story with the weather that we want to get that
out of the way. Fortunately, you know, no deaths from Arthur. I know a
lot of scary, sort of, pre-storm hype, but looks like nothing terrible has
happened. But we want to get now to the big politics talker of the
weekend. The Hobby Lobby decision, probably the biggest thing from the
Supreme Court and the biggest political story of the week. I think it
definitely is. Certainly the one most likely to have long ranging impact.
Political this morning is reporting on how religious groups are hoping to
leverage their success with the lawsuit by filing more lawsuits asking the
exemption for contraceptive coverage under the Affordable Care Act apply to
them, as well. Ronald Brownstein of the National Journal analyzed this
week`s decision this way, he says, it gets to the heart of President
Obama`s legacy. He said that the -- he writes that the decision of both on
Hobby Lobby and the impasse existing right now between the President and
Congress, quote, "reaffirms the GOP`s identity as the champion of the
forces most resistant to the profound demographic and culture dynamics
reshaping American life and Democrats as the voice of those who most
welcome these changes."
He writes further, "The cultural affinity has become the Democrats most
powerful electoral weapon." And so what`s Brownstein is getting at here, I
thought this was the smartest take this week, is if you get away from the
specifics of the ruling and sort of the more granular aspects, if you look
in the big picture, this is a political fight the Obama administration knew
it was getting into when it instituted the contraceptive mandate, you know,
basically two years ago. It knew it was getting into it. It willingly
picked this political fight in part because it sensed this is a political
We`re always telling you about these two different coalitions that have
merged. These two very different political coalitions. One on the right,
one on the left. The Democrats are sort of rising coalition, more diverse
single women, college educated women. And the republican coalition which
is increasingly older, still extremely white. And basically saying the
Democrats are now making a calculation that Democrats of a generation ago
under Bill Clinton would never have made. But on these issues, being to
the left on cultural issues is now a political winner and that`s when
you`re seeing perhaps with the Hobby Lobby ruling immigration.
ROBERT GEORGE, NEW YORK POST: I think that`s reasonable to say. And it`s
kind of funny that you said that this contrasts with what the Democrats of
the Clinton era were doing because the Hobby Lobby decision actually comes
out of a Clinton era law that was passed against a Supreme Court --
KORNACKI: The Religious Freedom Act in --
GEORGE: Exactly. Which passed overwhelmingly in the democratic Congress
signed by Bill Clinton. In fact an argument could be made had that law and
not been passed, the Hobby Lobby decision, I mean --
KORNACKI: That was sort of the essence of Clintonism, was this idea that
you know, you have these Reagan Democrats, you`ve got these people of
cultural grounds, white voters on cultural grounds who defected the
Republican Party and Bill Clinton is going to win them back. He`s going to
be tough on crime with the death penalty. Remember, he had somebody
executed when he was governor in the campaign trail in `92. You know,
Defense of Marriage Act, signed that in 1996. That style of politics is
sort of, voters are going away now.
GEORGE: It has gotten away, but I`m not quite so sure that the Hobby Lobby
-- this Hobby Lobby case is the best one for -- I mean, obviously they`re
doing that for the Democrats to kind of stand their ground. Primarily
because, a, you do have this law that was passed by many Democrats. And
the Religious Freedom Act on this particular area is one that -- is likely
to animate the conservative base as it is the --
KORNACKI: Right. But I think the point -- what really jumps out of me
about what Brownstein is saying in this article, if you look at the overall
poll, and there was an NBC Wall Street Journal poll on the contraceptive
mandate, and this 53 percent support, 41 percent opposition. But what he
said really stands out, is when you look at college educated white women,
when you look at non-white voters, when you look at this coalition, this
sort of emerging coalition, the support is well over 60 percent and he said
that`s the future.
ALIYAH FRUMIN, MSNBC.COM: Right. And I think what we`re seeing is even
though this was a blow to the left, this week what we`re going to see going
forward, this gives Democrats real ammunition going into the midterm and
the general election that they can point to these Republicans who are
applauding this decision as a way that they`re taking away women`s rights
to contraception. I mean, we`ve got Fitzgerald in Ohio that`s going after
Kasich and we`ve got Wendy Davis out in Texas who was in really reluctant
to talk about reproductive issues since her epic filibuster, she`s calling
Abbott out on this. So I think going forward, we`re going to see a lot of
Democrats rallying around this and pre-resurrecting this war on women.
PESCA: Let`s stick about what Ron Brownstein is saying, one party is
standing as stride history and saying no. That`s what conservatives and
Republicans do. And one party is riding a demographic wave. Well, what is
the smarter place to be? Ask any marketer, ask any business. Do you want
to be riding the demographic wave? Or standing there in your raincoat
saying, stop? And to get you the specifics of the issue, I mean, is
contraception something different from health care?
I think that is an animating issue to Liberals. So even if conservatives
are really into what the Supreme Court decided, five to four, and also not
just based on the Religious Freedom Act, but the pre-negotiation that Obama
tried to carve out with, you know, conservatives and Republicans in
Congress that did not really work, I do think that look at the female
justices on the court and what they said in the Wheaton College decision,
they can`t believe that all of a sudden getting, you know, birth control
pills or IUDs is something other than health care and I think democratic
women can use that.
GEORGE: One interesting fallout there is that, I`m not quite sure if even
the Supreme Court has been proven more wrong in temporarily speaking than
saying our decision is narrow, it`s focusing only on Hobby Lobby and
literally like within less than 48 hours, it started to apply to a whole
host of others.
KORNACKI: That seems funny to me, really, it was like, you know, Alito
goes out of his way in this ruling to say, well, it can`t apply to this or
it won`t apply to that but you can`t spell out every specific --
GEORGE: The Bush/Gore thing, they said the same thing.
KORNACKI: The only way to test it is with more lawsuits, with more
challenges. And you`ll going to find out -- you can`t really say up front
what the precedent is or isn`t. It`s going to be tested. That`s the
Supreme Court level at lower court, at the federal court level too.
Anyway, other stuff we want to get to, right before the holiday weekend,
other big news this week, Wall Street closed out the week on a record high.
I guess that`s not big news, that happens a lot lately. But the Dow tops
17,000 and this came only hours after Labor Department announced details of
the generally Stellar June jobs report. Unemployment rate fell to 6.1
percent, the lowest level in almost six years, manufacturing jobs are only
small part of that. That raises questions about how sustained the economic
recovery really is.
New York sometimes points out all those snow days in the Midwest and East
Coast may have contributed to June`s rosy report. Schools will were in
session longer so more seasonal educational workers were employed longer,
as their jobs -- in next month`s report. So we didn`t want to suggest
their economy is heading in the wrong direction, Drudge Report as wonderful
as we thought. I don`t know. I mean, it looks the headline on this, when
is the last time you saw this? I mean, 288,000 jobs created in June.
This is the strongest start of the year, the strongest first six months of
the year we have seen in 15 years, since 1999. The boom year, `90s under
Bill Clinton is the best six month period of any kind since 2006. You
know, 6.1 percent, as we say, it was near 10 percent unemployment in the
first year of Obama`s presidency and of course the stock market has been a
story for a while now. You know, so I guess the question, as we look at
President Obama`s approval rating and we always talk about how presidential
approval rating is tied so much to the economy. And his numbers sort of
have been stuck here in the 40s to peaking at about 50 percent. But if
this economy starts to turnout, we may start thinking about this presidency
in a different way.
FRUMIN: Right. I see this as a pivotal boost for Democrats. I mean,
according to a recent NBC Wall Street Journal poll, 54 percent of Americans
said that they thought Obama is doing a poor job on the economy. So this
is something they can really point to and say, look, we`ve done this and
some of the republican talking points about ObamaCare is hurting the
economy, et cetera, makes it harder to justify. But then again, if you
look at the beginning of 2012, we saw similar -- the first three months, we
saw really similar --
PESCA: We`ve had false alarms. Yes.
FRUMIN: False alarm. So while this is a welcoming news, I wouldn`t say
GEORGE: And we also had the disturbing sort of revision of the first
quarter GDP, as well, where growth shrank.
KORNACKI: Right. Growth shrank. Disturbing news and then all of a sudden
we get the best jobs report in 15 years almost.
GEORGE: I know. So we really need, you know, a couple more months of
similar job growth and we`ll have to see how the second quarter actually
goes to see whether this is -- whether either the GDP figure or the jobs
figure are --
PESCA: Never take the last month`s jobs report. Just never take it. Go
for a three month, six month rolling average. And that is generally
upwards. But I think that there is the economy has lived and felt and the
economy as what these numbers say. And the recovery is a recovery, but
it`s not a great recovery and no one thought it would be in. And it`s not
Obama`s fault. It`s the fundamental change of America, it`s the fact that
if you`re a hardworking high school graduate with a strong back, you do not
have a reasonable expectation of a good middle class life that has changed
Whoever gets the presidency next is going to inherit that. And you have to
figure out what we`re going to do. You have to get more people educated,
you have to have different kinds of industry going in this sector. It`s, I
mean, industry and different sectors animated, the jobs report, these
numbers, I think are so disconnected, I think that way of looking at
politics, here is an unemployment number, what will it mean for approval
rating, what do approval ratings mean for midterm? It`s just not --
KORNACKI: Well, it would be a major change to just sort of the political
KORNACKI: I mean, the presidential approval and unemployment have tracked
so closely for generations now. It`s the ones that are true thing when you
look at polling over the last, I don`t know, 50, 60 years, something like
that. But if the economy is changing in the ways you`re talking about,
that does raise the question of whether that correlates to --
We guys squeeze one break here, we have more stuff we want to get to, we
have more news this weekend. But not really, it`s a more big stuff we`ll
talk about it when we get back.
KORNACKI: More going on this morning. We`ll turn to a column in this
morning`s "Washington Post" Dana Milbank engaging in what he calls crazy
talk. The headline, for Obama, loss of the Senate could be freeing. And
here`s from his column crazy talk, you say maybe so. "The prevailing view
is that a republican Senate would only compound Obama`s woes by bottling up
confirmations, doubling the number of investigations and chipping away at
ObamaCare and other legislative achievements. Yet there`s a chance that
having an all-Republican Congress would help Obama, even some White House
officials have wondered privately whether a unified Republican Congress
would be better than the current environment. Republicans, without Harry
Reid to blame, would own Congress."
So that got me thinking a bit, I get the point, which is it would add a
level of clarity to the situation in that the House could pass a Tea Party
bill, the Republican Senate could then pass it, it could go to Obama`s desk
and the dividing line would be very clear. You wouldn`t have the
Republican House simultaneously blaming this Senate and the Senate being
aligned with the White House. And the White House having to worry about
that. You wouldn`t have that dynamic. It would be a much clearer and
simple dynamic for people. So I do owe yet, that level understand what
FRUMIN: Right. I mean, from a pr perspective, I think it would be easy to
go with that narrative, but on the other hand, I mean, if -- I do think
it`s crazy talk. I think that there would be chipping away of Obama`s
legislation, there would be increased hearings and it would just be a mess.
GEORGE: I`m sorry, but in my previous life, I worked on The Hill when I
was working for Newt Gingrich when there was a Republican Congress versus a
democratic president. Now, going into the `96 reelect, yes, it was very
good for Bill Clinton to have a republican --
KORNACKI: I mean, there are people around Clinton who say, that was the
best thing that ever happened politically.
GEORGE: That was the best thing. Ask Bill Clinton how great it was having
an all republican Congress in his last two years, which included by the way
impeachment. One of the best possible legacies that Barack Obama could
have would be another Supreme Court appointment.
PESCA: That`s the big one.
GEORGE: That wouldn`t happen with a republican --
KORNACKI: That`s the big one. I guess what I get from Milbank is saying
is that look, if the reality for the president for the next two years is
going to be a republican house, in terms of communicating, the American
people, the distinction between you as the president and the Republicans on
Capitol Hill, is there`s a republican Senate, maybe the distinction is
clear. What do you say about the Supreme Court --
PESCA: In my past life I used to be a pool hustler and this is what is
known as an overly complicated triple bank shot. You know, because I
understand the point like you do, but do you really think the big problem
is that the American people aren`t blaming the Republicans in Congress
enough? I mean, let`s say in the abstract they were, there is still not in
the Senate but in the House the way everything is district, they will still
going to control the house and they`re going to control the house by even
more. So what is the point to say that, see, they are the ones screwing it
up as opposed to actually getting your people confirmed. I mean, the
federal bureaucracy it`s really important, paid attention to it, but if you
get the right people running all the agencies, things go better for your
agenda, then if you get them blocked in every turn. I guess it gets to a
KORNACKI: It gets to a frustration I think that a lot of Democrats have
which is that we`ve been seeing this in the polls since 2009, since the Tea
Party movements -- there is this lag, Congressional approval ratings is
like two percent. We know that. We`ve all talked about that. But if you
took at Democrats in Congress and Republicans in Congress, the approval
rating for Democrats in Congress is much higher. The approval rating of
the Democratic Party versus the Republican Party, much higher. Approval
for the Tea Party, very low.
I think Democrats are very frustrated that they haven`t been able to
translate that into real electoral energy. Where, you know, people
continue to say, they`d much rather have Democrats run in Congress than
Republicans, but then when they vote, there`s a republican house the other
day, a republican may take Senate the other day, so we`re looking for a way
to connect that, you know, to this is what you`re seeing but you`re not
getting it in the elections.
GEORGE: Well, the flip side of that is, the public I think already thinks
that Republicans are running Congress which actually sometimes, you know,
lets Harry Reid off the hook when he bottles up some legislation on the
Senate side, as well. So I mean, sometimes Democrats get kind of credit
for the fact that the Republicans are seen as the only reason why things
aren`t getting through Congress.
KORNACKI: We have to go in a second, but were you really a pool hustler?
PESCA: That`s what pool hustlers never admit to.
KORNACKI: OK. I guess that clears it up, maybe. We do have one more
thing to get that. Candidates make many promises on the campaign trail,
but Toronto Mayor Rob Ford is making headlines for something he says he
can`t promise. Staying sober. Ford told a Toronto radio show that he
won`t guarantee sobriety if he`s re-elected, he says it`s something over
which he has no control. He say, he can`t promise he won`t fall off the
wagon again because it`s something over which he has no control repeating
Ford returned to the city council this past week after spending two months
in rehab -- which includes racist and homophonic comments. Ford blames
substance abuse for what he said. So my question is whether this is
honestly -- whether his honesty is refreshing or whether it will come back
to haunt him. Well, I mean, look, we don`t know. I think what was so
striking to me about watching Rob Ford, I don`t know if anybody caught some
of the video this weekend, Lawrence O`Donnell played a live on his show
this weekend, it was really striking, this seems like a different man, this
is not seem like the guy we saw, this seem like a man who`s in recovery.
PESCA: I just say, this is great for him personally but as an elected
official, if you stand-by your promise and your promises, I might get
drunk, that`s not a good thing.
KORNACKI: Well, it`s one of those, you know, the vagaries of politics I
guess I don`t understand. But at the same time, I do, I mean, he became
such an international punch line and I do wonder if the guy were seen now,
this genuine constriction.
GEORGE: If I`m a Toronto voter, my thought really is do I want to be the
person to just like help our mayor work through all of his problems and he
may have a fall back, he may -- you know, he may not. Do you want that
drama? Obviously if you`re a journalist in Toronto, you say, please, you
know, please, we want more. But still.
FRUMIN: I mean, for a guy that has spent supposedly 450 hours in rehab and
has run on this campaign on second chances, making comments like these are
certainly not going to do him any good.
KORNACKI: Maybe it`s not about the next election but maybe it`s about
reclaiming some dignity. And maybe his life wherever his life goes.
PESCA: I like his idea, instead of electorate, we`ll call it mayor-anon.
GEORGE: And we`re also hoping that Marion Berry on his book tour goes to
Toronto and does a one-on-one interview with Rob Ford.
KORNACKI: Well, they`re both welcome here. How about that? We`ll put the
invitation. I want to thank our panel this morning. Robert George, Mike
Pesca, Aliyah Frumin, we`ll see you later in the hour. The republican wave
of 2010 pave the way for Democrats to win back the red states? State by
state analysis begins, next.
KORNACKI: When you think of Kansas, you probably think of a state that has
been very red for a very long time. And you`d be right to think that way.
But it used to be a very different shade of red, a moderate pragmatic shade
of red. Kansas Bob Dole, he brokered bipartisan deals in the Senate even
teamed up with George McGovern to save the food stamp program. Dole had
this to say about the current state of the Republican Party last year.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: What do you think of your party, of the Republicans
BOB DOLE, FORMER U.S. SENATOR: I think they out to put a sign on the
committee doors that says closed for repairs until New Year`s day next
year. And spend that time going over ideas and positive agendas.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: And also Nancy Kassebaum, she passed the landmark health
insurance legislation with Senator Ted Kennedy. But all of that was in the
PB era, the pre-ground back era, that`s the era that begin in 2010 when
conservative Senator Sam Brownback wrote the Tea Party waive to elect him
as governor of Kansas. Since then, Brownback has called his party and the
entire state sharply to the right. Brownback first won statewide office
back in 1996 when he got his Senate seat by defeating Dole`s appointed
successor, a moderate pro-choice republican named Sheila Frahm in a
republican primary that year.
And sense then, the fight between Brownback and the once dominate moderate
wing of the Kansas Republican Party has only escalated. 2012, Brownback
and his allies ousted republican moderate to control the state Senate in a
series of bidder primary fights. Brownback has led a conservative
revolution in Kansa as its governor. He signed into law an abortion bill
that among other things defines life as beginning at conception. He
spearheaded the largest tax cuts in state history, tax cuts that attributed
to a huge drop in state revenues.
The spring, Moody`s downgraded the state`s bond rating as a result of that.
At the same time that he was slashing income taxes, Brownback eliminated
tax credits from poor and dramatically scaled back the state`s welfare
program declining school funding and changes to teacher tenure are also
dividing the state. And as a result, many middle of the road Republicans
have actually endorsed Brownback`s democratic opponent. The Statehouse
Minority Leader Paul Davis. In the latest polling out of Kansas, it shows
Brownback and Davis neck and neck. All this leaving the National Journal`s
asks this week, can a democrat win in Kansas?
Here to talk about that, Dave Helling is a political reporter with the
Kansas City Star, he joins us now from Kansas City, Missouri. So, Dave,
welcome to the show. I appreciate you taking the time.
DAVE HELLING, KANSAS CITY STAR: You bet.
KORNACKI: Maybe you can start by just telling -- I think a national
audience as we say looks at Kansas and says, another one of those red
states, very conservative and as I said always vote republican. But this
divide between the sort of the old Bob Dole, Kassebaum, sort of, and more
or less moderate types and the new Brownback conservative types, that`s
real and that`s big and that`s significant. Can you tell us a little bit
HELLING: Well, and it`s been around for a long time as you suggested in
your opening remarks. For 20, 25 years, the split between the moderates
and the conservatives and the Republican Party Kansas has been very
pronounced and Sam Brownback is of course the leader of that conservative
wing of the party. And you`re right, the national view of Kansas Steve is
indeed that we are a very red state, very republican. And for the most
part, that`s true statewide. The state hasn`t elected a democrat to the
Senate for example since the depression. So that gives you some idea of
what the landscape is at that level.
But they have elected in Kansas, democratic governors before. Kathleen
Sebelius was elected governor in Kansas. There have been other Democrats
recently. And the way a democrat wins a governor`s race in Kansas is to
attract those moderate votes, those pragmatic Republicans, primarily in the
Kansas City suburbs. People who want the bills paid and are not quite as
ideological for example as say, Sam Brownback would be. So that`s what
you`re seeing in the polls that have been released recently. This idea
that the moderates again particularly around Kansas City are taking a close
look at Paul Davis and that`s put Sam Brownback in some trouble in his re-
KORNACKI: Yes. So I guess the question is, you know, how durable do you
think that is. Are these Republicans who come midterm elections, they`re
going to be well, I`m a republican, I`m not going to vote for the democrat,
or do you think there really is something there that could have enough
moderate Republicans voting for the democrat in this governor`s race?
HELLING: We`ll see of course. But you do get the sense talking to some
Republicans of long standing in Kansas that they are quite nervous about
Brownback`s chances. They`re not really worried about the attacks on
ideology or what I might write or you might say really, but when Moody`s
downgrades the debt, that`s sort of an independent outside observer saying
in essence your economic program isn`t working at least to the level you
said it was or would. And because of that, and I think there is some real
concern again from the sort of main street banker republican faction, if
you will, in Kansas that Sam Brownback`s experiment has not worked and when
that happens, it does give Paul Davis a path. Now --
KORNACKI: And -- go ahead, Dave.
HELLING: Just quickly, is Sam Brownback still the favorite? Yes. Because
again, this is a very republican state, but Paul Davis definitely has, you
know, some argument to make to the Democratic Party nationally and here in
Kansas that he`ll have a shot.
KORNACKI: One thing, you know, Sam Brownback we know ran for president
actually in 2008. Maybe we don`t know, people have forgotten that. But he
ran for president in 2008, and I`ve seen his name, conservatives promoting
his name as a potential candidate for 2016. We talked about his vacuum on
the republican side all along. He`s done a lot in Kansas. A lot of people
don`t like him but conservatives do. Do you think, you know, is there a
thought here on Brownback`s part that if he can get reelected this year, he
might turn around and run for president?
HELLING: Oh, yes, at least that`s what you hear from people who are
relatively close to him that he hasn`t lost that bug. But the converse is
also true. If he runs or if he is defeated in November, Steve, you know,
his national ambitions such as they are would probably be out of the
picture for the indefinite future. The other thing to think about Sam
Brownback though is this, he is being eclipsed in some ways by other
conservatives in the Republican Party at the presidential level. Scott
Walker is a good example. You know, another governor who is very
aggressive, gets some national publicity.
Brownback for whatever reason doesn`t seem to be rising to that level in
the eyes of national Republicans. That`s why I think the outcome of this
tax cut debate in Kansas and his re-election effort in November is so
critical to his future in the party. If he wins, he would be one of the
people you`d talk about about 2016 or perhaps 20-20 relatively young guy.
You know, 2024, somewhere down the road. He still has some presidential
KORNACKI: Well, I think I know how his democratic opponent can raise some
national democratic money here. Stuff to see, Brownback 2016 express.
Anyway, Dave Helling with the Kansas City Star. Really appreciate you
getting up this morning.
HELLING: You bet.
KORNACKI: Thanks for the time.
Coming up, you may already be a winner. How you could be the lucky
recipient of a Tea Party Republican`s money? We`ll give you the details,
KORNACKI: You may think you`ve already heard everything there is to hear
about the Mississippi Senate race, but believe it or not, it`s not over yet
and it`s getting more bizarre by the day. Monday is when Mississippi
secretary of state is required by law to certify the results of the June
24th runoff, it`s a runoff in which Senator Thad Cochran edged out his Tea
Party challenger Chris McDaniel. But McDaniel insisting runoff was marred
by Democrats illegally casting ballots for Cochran.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STATE CHRIS MCDANIEL (R), MISSISSIPPI: We have our people in the field,
they`d be working all next week to find the additional irregularities that
we believe are out there. We`ll follow up on the different tips that we`ve
heard from throughout the state. And after that we`ll have our evidence
together and move forward.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: So, McDaniel is now posed to challenge the recount in court. He
is hoping to get a new election declared, what would be the third race this
year between him and Cochran. Mississippi has no formal party
registration. That means that anyone can vote in either party`s primary.
McDaniel for instance actually voted in the democratic primary back in
2003. But the law also says that if you vote in a party`s primary, you
cannot in the same election cycle vote in the other party`s runoff. So
that is with a McDaniel says he`s going to prove here, that enough people
voted in the democratic primary on June 3rd and also the republican runoff
on June 24th to potentially swing the result of the Cochran-McDaniel race.
In a letter to supporters on Wednesday, McDaniel said, quote, "Thanks to
illegal voting from liberal Democrats, my opponent stole last week`s runoff
election, but I`m not going down without a fight." And it got very ugly
later that same day as when a conference call set up by Cochran`s allies to
response to McDaniel`s allegations, and an unidentified caller who is
apparently a McDaniel backer interfered and said all of this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
AUSTIN BARBOUR, COCHRAN CAMPAIGN ADVISER: We just talked about the very
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: I`d like to know if black people were harvesting cotton,
why do you think it`s OK to harvest their votes? They`re not animals. Why
are you treating black people like they`re animals?
BARBOUR: Sir, I don`t know where you`re calling from, but I`m happy to
address any questions, no matter the lunacy of it --
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Why did you use black people to try to get Cochran
elected when they`re not even Republicans, and you`re treating them as if
they`re just idiots because they`ll vote for Cochran just because they`re
black? That`s ridiculous.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: Supporters of the McDaniel campaign got off the call shortly
after that. On Thursday, McDaniel offered a $1,000 reward to anyone who
can provide evidence leading to the arrest and conviction of those who
engaged in voter fraud. At the national level, we`ve been assuming Cochran
has won and this race is all over, but is it really over? Does McDaniel
actually have a chance of getting the runoff thrown out?
Joining me now to discuss this is MSNBC contributor Dave Weigel, he`s a
political reporter at Slate.com. He`s been following this one closely.
So, Dave, take us through this one. Because I likely say nationally, I
think we all sort of stopped paying attention to this on the morning of
June 25th, but here we are July 4th weekend, and it`s still going on in
Mississippi. What does Chris McDaniel need to do here? What does he need
to prove if he`s going to get a third shot at Cochran?
DAVE WEIGEL, SLATE POLITICAL REPORTER: Well, thinks they need it prove
that the 6800 or so vote margin of the election was shaky enough that fraud
might have overcome it. And they claim as of the start of the weekend that
they found 4900 votes probably cast by Democrats who voted in round one of
the election were assumed to be off the table and turned out for the
runoff. They need to -- if they don`t hit that number, they`re going to
try to argue that there are more questions, there are more stories.
They have latched on to a report that was debunked pretty quickly that a
volunteer used walking around money to buy votes. It was kind of an in-
coherent story reported by an independent conservative reporter. And in
the parallel media of the right, this took on the McDaniel campaign and
outside groups lashed onto it. They`re just trying to raise enough
suspicions that if there are at least enough votes to overturn the election
or if they`re aren`t, then there`s enough questions overturn it.
KORNACKI: So how is this, you know, obviously the republican
establishment, and we know, Chris McDaniel is, you know, not been on the
same page as the republican establishment all along, so it probably doesn`t
mean much to him that they want him to go away, and they want this to end.
But what about sort of the Tea Party crowd? Are they united behind him?
Did they want him to push war with this? Or is that movement split on
whether he should just give up or keep going?
WEIGEL: Well, in Mississippi, the Tea Partiers I`ve talked to do believe
that it was unfair for the election to turn on black voters being driven
out by the Cochran campaign. What you heard on that call which I think
McDaniel actually apologized because it never sounds good when your
supporter mentions black people picking cotton, but you heard there was
really this rage that black voters were told to turn out for Cochran
because he was going to deliver more for them. You know, aid for black
colleges, food stamps programs, things that nature. That`s what they view
as the real racism in America.
And that`s why they`re passionate about this. They view the politics much
of -- number one Tea Partier I was talking to said this explicitly, that`s
the real problem is a party that considers votes something that can be,
you know, bought with government largess. And they reject and are
horrified they might have lost the election that way and they view that as
illegitimate even before the vote counting starts. I think Jenny Beth
Martin, a Tea Party patriots national that she did a lot of work on the
ground there was saying, McDaniel is the republican nominee no matter what
the state says, part of the reason is, they think it was illegitimate the
way Cochran won.
KORNACKI: And that`s I think if nothing else, maybe these settles a debate
that has been going on for five years since the Tea Party first brought it
up, what is the Tea Party? Is it a movement that exists outside of the two
political parties? I`ve always said the Tea Party really is just another
term for the Republican Party base. And listening to somebody like Jenny
Beth Martin now, Tea Party leader basically saying, well, the thing that
matters is among Republicans, he won, therefore he should be declared the
winner of this runoff, it says to me that is our confirmation. The Tea
Party movement if we need it anymore, the Tea Party movement really is,
it`s a Republican Party phenomenon.
WEIGEL: Yes. That definitely contradicts a lot of the branding of Tea
Party patriots specifically. They would always say this is a movement of
independents and Democrats bigger than the Republican Party. I think the
arguments over this race have really soured some of that messaging. And
it`s frustrating for other Republicans because they really thought on June
25th, they read an articles about how the Republican Party had broadened
and reached out to new voters that don`t normally vote for them.
They had, even Hillary Clinton complimenting Ted Cochran`s outreach. And
now it`s being boiled and toast away by the Tea Party who are making this a
pretty explicitly racial partisan fight that they thought they had avoided.
They thought they avoided Chris McDaniel being a face of the party in 2014.
It`s very frustrating for them. And I think it`s increasing bitterness
towards the Tea Party for the reasons you just stated. These guys who
claim to be bigger than politics are representing forces in the Republican
Party that they think that they say once and for all are the reasons they
lose elections to Democrats.
KORNACKI: Final question here. I mean, again, sort of part and parcel of
the national media stopped paying attention to this thing the morning after
the runoff was, we said Mississippi is not going to be a story in the fall
anymore. You know, republican state especially when it comes to federal
elections obviously with Cochran as the candidate, that idea of Travis
Childers, the conservative democratic candidate getting any traction not
going to happen, in light of everything you`ve seen now in the week plus
since that runoff, in the prospect of a legal challenge, we don`t know how
long that could potentially last for, but the prospect of maybe a
protracted legal challenge here, is there any doubt? Is there any
hesitancy in your part now to say, yes, the Republicans have the seat in
the fall or is there fracturing going on here on the right that could
potentially open up ground for Childers?
WEIGEL: Well, you do talk to people and hear anecdotes about voters so
angry that they will not cast their ballot for Ted Cochran, the republican
but not for him. It`s hard to see enough of that making a difference.
Because Cochran tends to get -- before this election, tend to get 10
percent to 20 percent of the black vote. He`s going to have some crossover
support. Travis Childers has not attracted a lot of invest to financial
Democrats since the election. I think the larger effect is it`s just going
to be poisoning of the well and the ruining of a story that Republicans
felt was great for them.
This is something that they didn`t think could happen and something that
they now every time they think -- we think Mississippi instead of it being
this kind of Stu Stevens narrative of a grand comeback and a way to portray
the future, they were talking about -- Stevens specifically was talking
about Cochran as a rocky figure. I think that narrative which they really
happy with, that was the -- that was the role that he was playing in the
election. I don`t think it can play that anymore. That`s a minor problem
for Republicans. I think it`s -- in the end they will be happy to have
McDaniel out of there because the race is not going to be competitive.
It`s just the story is ugly.
KORNACKI: Yes. And I wonder, too, whether we`re talking about in
Mississippi or nationally, too, how much this animates this Tea Party going
forward. If Cochran does prevail this thing ultimately with -- through a
legal challenge. This is some in the Tea Party just talking about for
years. Remember, Mississippi don`t -- whether happening in. Anyway, my
thanks to Dave Weigel of Slate. I appreciate the time this morning.
Still ahead, who is your favorite American president? How recently did
that president serve? We`ll talk about why the long passage of time
doesn`t seem to make the heart grow fonder. That`s next.
KORNACKI: All right. The panel is back here with me. From NPR and Slate,
we have Mike Pesca, Aliyah Frumin with MSNBC.com, New York Post columnist
Robert George. I have a special assignment for them, July 4th weekend, of
course, a time to celebrate who and what makes America great. And great is
how we usually end up describing our presidents. Either great successes or
great failures. Their history is littered with examples of both. But what
about the great in between. The President who didn`t do nearly enough to
lean it on Rushmore, or our currency, or even in our high school history
books, but they also weren`t so awful that their names echo in infamy.
Call them the mediocre presidents. The ones who were just kind of blah.
We talked about them. But this holiday weekend, we figured we would pause
and give them their due. So let`s celebrate America`s forgotten
presidents. America`s mediocre president. We`re going to ask our panel,
who is your favorite and why? Rob, here is your chance to shine a light
somewhere it never gets shined.
GEORGE: Yes, it`s we can call them the meh (ph) presidents and I went back
to the golden age of meh presidents which is between Andrew Jackson and
Abraham Lincoln, 1837. We had eight presidents in that time, four of which
served less than a full term mainly because two of them died in office and
their successors, the electorate basically went meh and didn`t --
KORNACKI: So who is yours?
GEORGE: William Henry Harrison would be mine. Mainly because --
KORNACKI: He died in 30 days.
GEORGE: He died in 30 days as the Simpsons once famously said. And he
died because he gave terminally -- pardon the expression long inaugural
address in freezing weather, refused to put on his own jacket and caught
pneumonia and basically died. A president who talked himself to death is -
KORNACKI: He didn`t stop the next 30 presidents. Mike.
PESCA: Well, Chester A. Arthur who I heard was actually pronounced his
middle name not Alan but Alain and that`s disturbing. I haven`t pass
dispenser here. I don`t know how close you could get on that. But this
mustache, yes, this mustache does not do the justice. This was a bushy
furry wolverine that has crawled under his nose. This is what Chester Alan
Arthur was good, we expected nothing of Chester Alan Arthur. Even though
he had a great interesting life before him. His father was an abolitionist
preacher. So, you would think that he would be very turgid in his beliefs.
And in fact when he was a lawyer, he defended the first woman who pretty
much desegregated New York City street cars, black woman kicked off a
But he ascended to the presidency, because he was there to balance the
ticket with Garfield, he was a Stalwart. Garfield gets shot. The assassin
even mentions Arthur and the Stalwarts. So he laid low while Garfield lay
dying. And then what he did was, he played within himself. I mean, it
wasn`t an opportunity to do great things. But he was pretty much on the
right side of the issue of tariffs and he reformed civil service and he
only served four years and he knew he was dying and he left office and died
within two years. But, you know, when you looked back at the time, people
say he was so much better than we thought he would be. He wasn`t just a
machine functionary. Civil service reforms were good. And Mark Twain said
something nice and earnest about him. Mark Twain never says something
earnest about him.
KORNACKI: Mike Pesca in addition to this Slate Podcast, also runs the
Chester Alan Arthur Presidential Library and Museum and dispensary --
Who`s yours? Do you have a pez figure to --
FRUMIN: I don`t have a pez figure unfortunately but I`m going to have to
get one for next time. Mediocre presidents are mediocre for reasons. That
kind of lousy. So, I picked Jimmy Carter. Because his presidency was
riddled and airs like Iran-contra but his post-presidency really out shown
what he was able to do in office in terms of have a tougher humanity and
being a real champion of human rights. He got the Nobel Peace Prize. So
think because he`s done such great work afterwards, his presidency was
KORNACKI: I had pez dispenser too, this is James -- that`s not my pez,
he`s horrible. I like Zachary Taylor, Zachary Taylor because he`s the only
president ever be exhumed. And that`s interesting to me because there`s
still a mystery, 175 years about how he died.
He`s poisoned, that`s a big question, yes, year and a half in office. But
anyway, thank you for coming in this holiday weekend. Rob George, Mike
Pesca, we`ll be back in the next hour. More on that in a minute and thank
you to MSNBC.com`s Aliyah Frumin.
Perhaps, you haven`t seen him since the Sochi Olympics, you`ll have the
chance to see him and hear him coming up, the one and only Bob Costas joins
me right here at this table. Not a joke. Straight ahead.
KORNACKI: Hurricane Arthur may have put a dent in some holiday plans, but
many birthday celebrations in the United States carried on in spectacular
fashion. Skies cleared in New York City for Macy`s annual Fourth of July
fireworks show on the east river where 40,000 fireworks which is a lot of
anything including pyrotechnics. Washington, DC, thousands of people went
to national mall for another incredible display of fireworks there.
And earlier in the day, the President and the First Lady greeted service
members and their families to celebrate in the White House lawn. Until
there was casual attire of the dad jeans variety for the commander-in-
chief. And amazingly, our next guest has chosen to spend a chug of his
holiday weekend with us. Bob Costas joins us live on this set, next.
KORNACKI: I`m going to fall back on my Catholic roots here for a minute and
confess my sins to you. Or at least one of my sins. Because I had to
admit that when I was told that we would going to have to do a show this
weekend, July 4th weekend, I wasn`t completely totally 100 percent thrilled
about it. And then I changed my mind and suddenly, I got very excited
about doing this show today because I found out that I would get to
interview our next guest. If at some point over the last three decades,
you`ve watched our parent network NBC for the Olympics or for a Super Bowl
or an NBA finals game or a world series or a Triple Crown race, then you
Or even if you have never watched any of that, but you have seen the movie
"BASEketball," then you still know him. And even if you haven`t seen
"BASEketball," well, I`m guessing you still know Bob Costas. We invited
him on the show a while back and when he told us he could come today, we
had two reactions. The first was, wait, really, is he serious? The second
was, this is the perfect weekend to sit down and talk with Bob Costas.
Because this is a weekend, it`s not really about politics. At least not
the day to day partisan warfare that we talked about here all the time.
The political world like other Americans is taking a breather this weekend.
This is a weekend that`s about celebrating our country`s birth and it`s
also about renewing some of our favorite past times, trips to the beach,
cook out, fireworks, hot dog eating contests. And yes, sports. There were
15 major league baseball games yesterday at -- and there were 15 more on
top today. US team was eliminated on Tuesday, but the World Cup rolls on
this afternoon. The Wimbledon finals are this weekend, there is even a big
NASCAR race down in Florida tonight although I`m not sure we should
actually call that a sport.
While they`re enjoying their barbecue, fans everywhere are talking about
where LeBron is going to end up next season or which NFL team had the best
offseason. But in keeping with our team, this is America. And in America,
politics tends to get mixed up in everything. And that is particularly
true when it comes to sports right now. The issue of whether college
athletes deserve more of a cut of the money schools make off of them seems
to be coming to a head.
The future of football is been called in to question with new research and
troubling stories about the long term effects of concussions. With even
the President is saying, he wouldn`t let his kids play. Our guest Bob
Costas has himself waited into these waters. Nearly two years ago after
the murder suicide of NFL player Jovan Belcher drew widespread attention
when used his platform in NBC Sunday night football game to addressed
America`s gun culture.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BOB COSTAS, NBC SPORTS REPORTER: Handguns do not enhance our safety, they
exacerbate our flaws, tempt us escalate arguments, and bait us into
embracing confrontation rather than avoiding it. In the coming bays, Jovan
Belcher`s actions and their possible connection to football will be
analyzed. Who knows? But here, wrote Jason Whitlock, is what I believe if
Jovan Belcher didn`t possess a gun, he and Kasandra Perkins would both be
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: Only days after those remarks came the gustily rampage in Sandy
Hook Elementary School in New Connecticut. In last fall, Costas used the
same platform to call for Daniel Snyder to change his team`s name.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COSTAS: Ask yourself what the equivalent would be if directed toward
African-Americans, Hispanics, Asian, or members of any other ethnic group.
When considered that way, the Redskins can`t possibly honor a heritage or
noble character trait nor can it possible be considered a neutral term.
It`s an insult, a slur, no matter how benign the present day intend.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: And so without any further adieu, let`s get to our guest. He`s
actually been on the show on phone once before but now, here he is live.
His UP debut in person. Bob Costas, welcome.
COSTAS: This can only lead to an unhappy weekend for me. Because all of
those who see the common sense in either of those positions will nod their
heads and when they pass me on the street, say way to go. And those who
which to extrapolate from it a series of beliefs or characterization about
me that is wholly untrue will do with it what they will. So my weekend is
already off to a bad start.
KORNACKI: So, I`m sorry about that. But let me ask you about that though.
From the standpoint of you know, your hosting Sunday night football on NBC.
KORNACKI: And you wade into several controversial topics in the last
couple of years. And I wonder if the reaction you`re describing right
there tells us something about our political culture in this country right
now. I think we`re sort of very tribal culture where if you take one side
on one thing, you`re marked as a member of this tribe and a traitor to this
COSTAS: Yes. Yes. And those who objected to either/or both of those
didn`t seem to have much objection when during the 2012 London Olympics, I
mentioned that it was the 40th anniversary of the Munich massacre and that
the IOC in my view was negligent and insensitive in not acknowledging that
in some official way. People didn`t seem to think that that was mixing
politics for sports because not only was appropriate and connected directly
to the Olympics but they probably agreed for the sentiment expressed. In
2008 in Beijing, when I pointed out that well, what we used to call Peking
(ph) has been transformed, and Sutu (ph) has much of Chinese culture and
commerce, this is still though not communist in autocratic society with no
free press and much suppression of rights, I didn`t hear that I was mixing
-- from that crowd -- I didn`t hear that I was mixing politics with sports
because they liked what I said.
But also keep this in mind. I wouldn`t have made that comment had the
Olympics not been held in Beijing. It was impossible not to talk about
Vladimir Putin and circumstances under which the Olympics were taking place
in Sochi. You`d have to be in another planet not to talk about it in
responsible way. And we brought in people who were experts on that subject
from different perspectives. And I questioned them and at other times I
made comments which amounted to the tiniest percentage of our overall
coverage but still were appropriate.
It would not have been appropriate to talk about Russian circumstances if
the Olympics were being held in Paris. All right? I did not talk about
terrorism even when there were more horrific at least in total numbers of
fatalities, more horrific circumstances elsewhere. Didn`t talk about
terrorism when it wasn`t directly connected. But the 40th anniversary of
what happened at the Olympics in Munich in 1972 directly connected it to
sports. How in the world the name of the Washington Redskins football team
is not a sports issue is beyond me? Ultimately it will be decided by the
owner of the team and/or the commissioner of the league who has routinely
asked questions about it.
If someone like me is not in a position to credibly comment on that,
whether you agree with me or not, if that is somehow abuse of a forum, I
just don`t see the logic in that. And I also see no logic in the idea that
the football game was interrupted. It is halftime. Go get something to
drink or go to the bathroom if you don`t want me to watch the highlight or
listen to what I or anyone else has to say. You won`t miss a single play.
KORNACKI: Right. No. You`re making halftime argument, the most boring
part of the game a little more interesting with something substantive. But
I wonder if the reaction that you`re describing -- I mean, you`re in an
interesting place in media obviously where the audience -- I haven`t look
closer, I imagine the audience for an average NFL game as probably just as
many Democrats as Republicans. It really is a broadcast, it`s a broad
COSTAS: Sure. It`s one of the few things left.
Which is why some of the things that I have said have been said by others.
Might even have been said or written better by others. But they don`t have
as large an audience and they`re not broadcasting as you just put it. Now,
I think one of the benefits of that when you use that forum judiciously,
wisely, carefully, is that while I can`t get into it as effectively as
let`s say Bryant Gumbel and his team at Real Sports at HBO, or outside the
lines, Bob Ley and company at ESPN and handful of other places, or a
comprehensive article in the Sports Illustrated or the "New York Times"
whoever may be.
But simply by acknowledging these things to that larger audience, I think I
serve a purpose that for whatever reason, most of my contemporaries and
colleagues, talented as they are and good as they are at their jobs, don`t
seem willing to do. During the entire coverage of the NCAA basketball
tournament, you`ll hear every imaginable statistic. You`ll never hear
graduation rates, you`ll never hear the relationship between academics and
athletics. If I was doing that, I`d work it in somewhere. Would I work it
in with the game on the line with ten seconds to go? Of course not.
I enjoy the drama in theater and sports as much as anybody, if I haven`t
proven that over the years, I don`t know who asked. But I`d acknowledge
it. Does that cover the whole thing? But I think someone who is in a
position where the network is partners with the event --
COSTAS: If that person is willing to acknowledge it, whether it was
steroids in baseball, where I think I was ahead of the pack for the most
part, whether it was the concussion issue and violence in football, which
now a front and center but I talked about it four years ago on air, to do
that in front of that audience in that context, I think serves a purpose.
KORNACKI: So when we had you on the phone a couple months ago, it was the
morning after the whole Donald Sterling thing that the first recordings
have come out, we had you on to talk about that. And that`s -- it looks
like that is sort of kind getting resolved. There is going to be a new
owner, Steve Ballmer is going to own the Clippers and Donald Sterling, wife
KORNACKI: Ballmer and league and all that. So now that that seems to be
in the rear view mirror mostly, when you look at that controversy. Did we
learn anything from that? Was sports changed in any way? Was that about
anything in long term?
COSTAS: To me that was a low hanging fruit thing. Who -- who this side of
outliers who can`t get a hearing anywhere on the spectrum, who doesn`t
think that what Donald Sterling said and what his record reveals about him
is unacceptable? So that was an easy one. When people say, well, this is
an opportunity to open up a dialogue on race? Here is where I think some
people who work in this building ought to step up and say, you know, what?
That`s a bunch of politically correct bs. What you really want, not you
surely Steve but people really want is a chance to repeat the same
The less comfortable truths, the more complicated state of race relations
and difficulties with race in America. In 2014 as opposed to 1964 and
1984, that`s something you don`t want to wade into. So I don`t know who
decided David Duke would have a problem in denouncing Donald Sterling --
KORNACKI: What is the controversy?
COSTAS: The guy is an addled old man who shouldn`t own a team.
KORNACKI: What you`re talking about, the sort of more challenging
conversation you`re talking about -- can that take place in our media and
political culture today?
COSTAS: Well, if we take courage. You know, as they -- I put it this way,
and you`re setting me up for a type of punditry that I`m not setting myself
up for, but I`m responding to your question. Remember back in 1972, you`re
probably too young to remember firsthand, but people said Nixon was the guy
who could go to China. George McGovern could not have gone to China
because Nixon had the credibility as a relatively conservative guy and a
KORNACKI: All right.
COSTAS: It`s only someone on the conservative spectrum who can say, you
know, what? It is not to the front to the second amendment and no one`s
legitimate second amendment rights would be abridged if we had some common
sense conversation about a gun culture run amok and had some common sense
gun control. Which wouldn`t stop anyone from owning a gun to protect their
home and family or for sporting purposes. But you need somebody on the
right to make that point.
You need and there have been some courageous voices, on the left, to say,
you know, what? Obviously, historically the narrative of white racism and
the oppression of black Americans is the overriding truth. It`s the single
greatest stain on our national history. It is still part of the narrative
to one in center another in different forms. But that narrative is much
more complex now. And some of the issues that are afflicting black America
are not the result primarily of white racism. That`s a politically
incorrect thing to say that somebody in this studio needs to say.
KORNACKI: What about just one of the things we talked when the Sterling
thing was going on was LeBron James. The biggest superstar in the NBA --
the biggest superstar in sports right now took a very active role.
KORNACKI: And you`re saying on the literal controversy at the moment, it
was sort of an easy controversy.
COSTAS: It was a lay-up if you pardon the lousy pun.
KORNACKI: So did you see anything in LeBron there or more in general
athletes now, the level of engagement, sort of civically by athletes,
politically by athletes, where is that stand right now compared to what you
might have seen a generation or two ago?
COSTAS: It`s a different world. In an important way. Not just Jackie
Robinson, but Hank Aaron and Bill Russell and Jim Brown and Arthur Ashe and
Muhammad Ali and Billie Jean King. When I was growing up, athletes had an
important voice. What they did was important. Many of them symbolically.
And some courageously spoke out. We`re finding less and less of that as
these athletes become richer and richer and also in fairness when some of
the injustices are less obvious and less overt than they were in the `50s,
`60s, and 70s.
KORNACKI: All right. We got a lot more of Bob Costas is going to stick
around. Because when we come back, we`ll going to have a reunion right
here on this set. Frank Deford used to work with Bob at NBC`s NFL
coverage. Now he`s with NPR and HBO`s Real Sports and Sports Illustrated
and he writes books and probably a million other things. He`s coming out
here next. Mike Pesca is coming back and we are going to convene the
ultimate sports round table. That`s right after this.
KORNACKI: All right. I`ve been be looking forward to this segment all
week to talk about the state of sports in America. Bob Costas is still
here, he`s joined by Frank Deford, who is currently with NPR`s morning
edition in HBO`s Real Sports and who? Once upon a time used to team up
with Bob on NBC`s NFL studio show. You see a shot there from the -- in
1987 season. Mike Pesca is back here at the table with us, as well. And
so, welcome to all of you. Welcome back. And we`ll start with this.
Soccer is obviously all over the news right now. Although with the U.S.
falling out of the World Cup this week. It`s already fading from the
headlines. Every four years around this time, we talked about how it`s
supposedly posed to rival the major team`s sports for popularity when it`s
safe to say, it`s not there yet and it may never get there. But that does
raise the question, what is our national pastime these days? How a lot of
us grew up about thinking baseball, but it has been toppled by the NFL or
maybe the NBA or maybe even the video game version of NFL football or NBA
basketball? Maybe we just don`t have a national past time anymore. I
don`t know. My vote would be NFL but what do you guys?
COSTAS: We have a clearly most populist sports, it`s not even a contest,
it`s football. If baseball wants to cling to the idea and I`m always for
anything that promotes baseball, that is the national pastime, they can say
baseball is in fact the past time because of the nature of it. Day in and
day out nature of it and the pace of the game which is unfortunately is
moving toward the lethargic in a way from the pleasant and leisurely. But
you could say that it`s a pastime whereas football is a spectacle. But by
every measure of popularity, football runs away from everything.
KORNACKI: So, where did? Where and why did football passed baseball?
What is it about football? What is it about baseball? It`s just the pace,
is it --
FRANK DEFORD, SPORTS COMMENTATOR: It may very well be that it`s in tune
with American tastes right now. I mean, video games for example. All the
back and forth games are much easier to follow, too, whether it`s soccer,
hockey, basketball whatever. Baseball is a complicated game, and it
requires hand/eye coordination as opposed to typical athleticism. And so I
think just the violence in America, too, has to be taken into account,
Steve. You can`t ignore that fact. And football is tremendously brutal.
MIKE PESCA, SLATE`S THE GIST: And I think the violence of football does
give it in a perverse way, an example and that it can only be played once a
week. And probably should not even played that much. But the scares that
he drives in and makes an indication, whereas baseball is pastoral and it
rolls over you and it`s a past time. But I do think other sports like
basketball and specially hockey are played too often. They`re not special.
Football becomes a conversation for an entire week. I go further than
saying it`s the most popular sport. Think it`s the most ascending cultural
force as everything else is breaking apart in America and we have no shared
culture, football is one thing that everyone can have a conversation about.
COSTAS: Look at the list of the top rated programs on television in a
given year. Well, no sooner do I say it, there it is. Is it possible the
academy awards or something would crack the list? But if you extend it out
to 20, like 18 of them would be football games and other the BCS title
games, almost all of them will be NFL games.
KORNACKI: How much --
DEFORD: Wait. Wait. One other thing -- betting.
KORNACKI: That`s what I was going to say. How much is gambling?
DEFORD: Yes. Very very important. It`s a very easy sport ever since the
point spread was invented around 1940. The ascension of football has
followed in that line. And so, you can`t ignore the fact, I`m sort of
surprised that they limit sports betting in the state of Nevada. I don`t
know how that`s possible under the constitution.
KORNACKI: Chris Christie agrees with you.
DEFORD: I know there is, New Jersey says, hey, that`s not fair. And I
agree. I can`t understand it at all. And once that happens, I assume that
it will, I think that football will explode even more.
KORNACKI: So that`s the strength of football. What about the threat to
the game posed by concussions? Because I mean, how many parents out there
now, I mean, you`re talking about raising the next generations sports fans
now, how many of the next generation would be football fans are growing up
playing soccer or something else?
COSTAS: Participation in youth football is down roughly 10 percent just in
the last three of four years, as this issue has really come to the fore.
And I think you could make a case, it may be a bit overly dramatic, but you
could you make the case that this is the colossus, not just in sports, but
as Mike said of American popular culture. But there are cracks in the
foundation. You can play hockey without fights if you don`t like fights.
Witness college hockey, most of the playoffs. Olympic hockey. You can
play baseball without steroids. OK? And the risk of injury in baseball is
You could play college sports and actually have student athletes. All
these things are theoretically reformable. They`re theoretically
reformable. All right? Theoretically. Whereas I don`t know that you can
play football at the highest levels and take the essential violence out of
it. Can you mitigate the risk? Yes. Can you improve the protocols? Yes.
But more and more reasonable people including people who are season ticket
holders and love the game are going to say, I enjoy watching it, maybe with
some ambivalence, but I won`t let my kid play it.
PESCA: But I don`t know how much that will actually affect the popularity
of the sports as a spectator sport, because we seem to say that there is
this coalition between participation and popularity in sports but that`s
not true. I mean, undergirding this whole soccer argument is all these
kids who play soccer but kids have played soccer for 30 years and it hasn`t
really gotten that popular, and I always say, nothing is more popular than
jogging on the weekend, it`s good luck during a crowd --
So, I do think the concussions go to a fundamental question, the
existential nature of football but I also think that for years and years
and years, all the NFL tried to do is, suppress the information, and to,
you know, pretty much lie about it, let`s say. Now, at least they`re
trying to take on the issue. I do think that you`ll never have football
without concussions, but I think the problem maybe --
KORNACKI: I do wonder, and I want to get to smaller things, I do wonder
though, about the example of boxing. And somebody like watching Muhammad
Ali and the sort of the tragedy that`s happened to him personally after
life in boxing, and that`s sort of the -- people in boxing and if that --
COSTAS: You would say, yes, except for the rise of MMA and ultimate
fighting which is even more brutal then boxing. It seems to have fewer
rules to keep it in check.
DEFORD: Also this, boxing is an individual sport. Football is a team
sport. You represent a city, you represent a college. And so the
allegiance for football extends beyond the sport. You care about boxing.
You love your team. And that`s why I don`t think no matter how brutal
football gets, no matter how many people, children stop playing, the game
will still be there for people to watch.
COSTAS: This is a unifying force.
KORNACKI: So, we`re talking about football, the closest thing we have now
to a national past time. I`ll going to try to make -- I`m going to make
these guys commissioner for a day of baseball when we come back talking
about what baseball could do. If you have one act that you could make as
commissioner to bring baseball back to where it used to be, what would it
be? And we`ll talk a little about college sports, as well, when we come
KORNACKI: All right. We`re back. We got into it very briefly in the last
block. And I saw Frank you had a reaction when the term student athlete
came up. And that certainly is one of the debates we`re having right now,
sports and college sports in particular, it`s about what is the future of
amateur athletics? What is the future of college athletics in this country
with these increasingly large pies that schools can get for football, for
television contrast, for football, the basketball tournament and the
athletes not really seeing a big cut and that`s raising any cut of it.
What is the future --
DEFORD: First of all, student-athlete is an absolute indecent term.
Because they`re not students at the all in many cases. And it is so unfair
that they are not paid. Now, how long it`s going to take to get to that
point? I don`t know. I`m very surprised that the colleges have not gotten
together. And so, they`ve gotten out and front, and said, well, we`ll give
them a stipend. Because I think the quarterback for Alabama or whatever is
worth a million dollars a year. And then I don`t think they should just a
little pocket change. I think they she get paid the same way that athletes
or big time sports do.
COSTAS: But that`s very problematic because of public versus private
institutions, you get a revenue gap, you used to have baseball mitigated it
to some extent, but you get a Yankees versus Kansas City Royals that also
be title nine implications. I mean, why should the quarterback for Alabama
receive a stipend or salary in excess of a field hockey player or --
DEFORD: Because a field hockey player Bob doesn`t bring any money in.
COSTAS: I get that, but they`re supposedly student athletes.
PESCA: That`s the fiction. Why should the quarterback of the Buffalo
Bills gets paid more than the head leader of the Buffalo Jill, because how
much money they generate? I think there are problems, but like any major
overall, don`t let the problems get in the way of this fundamental truth.
And I agree with Frank, these guys when there`s some amount of money, in
the 70s or 80s, we can say, well, maybe there is amateurism, now there is
this big trial going on where so much of the myth of amateurism has been
exploded. Fans don`t even care about --
KORNACKI: I wonder if you`ve got, you know, there`s the issue of the
schools paying the players, the injustice is always illustrated by the
players walking through, you know, the store and sees his jersey, his
number. And can`t get a cut, also the players, take the schools out of it
and the players can sign their own contracts?
COSTAS: I agree with that 100 percent. I agree with that 100 percent.
They should be able to have a cut of any commercial sales. But this may
sound crazy or traditional. To me, the reason why we`re saying that
players are getting nothing is because we`ve removed all pretexts that they
truly are student-athletes. If in fact you recruited only people who could
legitimately meet the minimum standards of your institution, Ohio State`s
minimum standards would not be the same as Stanford, but they all have a
minimum standard, could not meet the minimum standard if they didn`t have a
football or basketball team, but they could still -- they`re good enough to
play, but necessarily all in the fellow NBA prospects. OK. They`re
getting six figures worth of education that their family doesn`t have to
Plus, they`re getting coaching and room and board. That is poo-pooed as
having no value only because this is a charade. If in fact these were true
student athletes, what they were receiving would be of great value and then
the NBA and NFL would have to set up comprehensive and real farm systems
like hockey and baseball have and then a kid would decide -- no one says,
oh, the poor college hockey player, the poor college baseball player
because they have an option.
DEFORD: But they haven`t got an option right now. I go the other way. I
say let guys come in Play College sports for four years with no absolutely
no academic standards whatsoever. You want to go to class? Fine. You
want to get a degree? Fine. If you don`t want to class and just play
football or basketball, that`s OK with me. Because there are no options.
Bob says, there are no minor leagues. And who is going to play for a minor
league with 500 people watching you when you have an opportunity to play in
the stadium with 80,000 people watching.
PESCA: Well, it seems that the Carolina Tar Heels basketball team is
actually doing that experiment. The problem is though that these guys
can`t even pursue the education they want to pursue. But the reason
northwestern wanted to unionize is their quarterback wanted to be premed.
They said absolutely not. You`re here to play football. We`ll let you
take some silly class on -- well, it`s northwester, I`m sure they`re not
bad silly but some schools are. You can`t really be an athlete and at the
highest levels with so much money. Why is college athletics the only major
million dollar industry, we`re paying someone with something other than
money is allowed. I say, pay them with money. People, they`re making
money, pay them with money.
KORNACKI: This is the story. We talked about in the show now for, you
know, six months or so, this is going to be -- the calls are only going to
COSTAS: The collateral issues with that are greater than is being
acknowledged here. You know, what funds the tennis team, what funds the
KORNACKI: That`s the part right, we think of college -- we think of
college football, college basketball, and we forget that there are like 21
other sports. There`s division one, there`s division two.
COSTAS: Here`s something else, if in truth the best players who don`t want
or aren`t qualified to be, students don`t want to be or aren`t qualified to
be wound up in farm systems, the only people who could tell the difference
if North Carolina plays Clemson and the game is close, the only people that
could tell the difference are professional scouts. The alumni and people
watching, if the game is 65 to 63, it`s still entertaining.
COSTAS: You know, and so I don`t see that the business would be negatively
impacted by that.
KORNACKI: All right. We`ve got to leave it there. We did not get to go
to the commissioner for the day, but next time we get this panel together
but sit tight everyone, because up next, a special onetime only Americana
edition, Fourth of July weekend edition of "Up Against the Clock."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: One hundred plus assists in an NFL season has been
accomplished only 13 times. Eleven times by this player.
Who is Magic Johnson?
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: No.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Diane?
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Who is Wayne Gretzky?
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Wayne Gretzky, we`re talking about hockey not the NBA.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: Well, I`m not sure what maybe happened there, maybe the
contestant was tripped up by the word assists. But far from tripping us
up, we`ve used the Fourth of July holiday weekend to convene a very special
Americana edition of "Up Against the Clock." An incredible group of TV
sports all-stars including Bob Costas is heading over to contestants row as
we speak. We`ll test their knowledge not just of American sports, but also
history, geography, politics, basically if it happened in America in the
last 238 years, it could end up in a question. You don`t want to miss it.
"Up Against the Clock," a special edition, starts next.
JIM CUTLER, GUEST ANNOUNCER: Live from studio three A in Rockefeller
Center USA, it`s time for a special TV sports all-stars edition of "Up
Against the Clock." If you drink a beer this holiday weekend, you may be
reminded of his standout performance in a 1981 Miller Lite commercial. Say
hello to Frank Deford.
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
He`s a former jeopardy contestant who actually had the lead until he was
tripped up by a question about pop singers in final "Jeopardy." Please
welcome Mike Pesca.
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
He climbed a stuffed moose at the Vancouver and today he`s looking to reach
the heights of game show excellence. It`s Bob Costas.
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
And now your host of "Up Against the Clock," Steve Kornacki.
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
KORNACKI: Oh, thank you, Jim Cutler. In for vacationing Bill Wolff, our
guest announcer today. Thank you contestants, thank you everyone tuning in
at home for a special Fourth of July Americana edition of "Up Against the
Clock." Now normally, you know this is a fast paced current events quiz
about the biggest news of the week, but not today, because today for the
special holiday edition only, we are going to expand to cover all 238
glorious years of American history. We have political questions in here,
we`ve got sports questions, we`ve got random questions.
If it`s happened in America, it could be in these questions. The rules as
always, they are the same. We have three rounds of play. A hundred points
for a correct to enter in the first round, 200 in the second, 300 in the
third. Questions get harder as we go along, and contestants, you can ring
in at anytime. But you will be penalized for incorrect answers. There are
also two bonus questions scattered in here. I will explain that when we
get to them. And as always, going to implore our lives, studio audience,
please no outbursts. And with that, contestants, I`ll ask you, are you
ready? You look ready to me. Hands on buzzers, please. To put a hundred
seconds on the clock and we will going to begin the 100 point round with
Established in present day Virginia in 1607, this is the name of the first
permanent English settlement -- Mike.
KORNACKI: Jamestown. The first permanent English settlement in America,
it`s a hundred point question here, residing in America`s oldest national
park, Yellowstone, this geyser -- Mike.
PESCA: Old faithful.
KORNACKI: Hundred points. Name the one president who was never elected
either president or vice president -- Bob.
COSTAS: Gerald Ford.
KORNACKI: Gerald Ford is correct. Bob`s on the board, 100 point question.
To visit St. John`s Church, the side of Patrick Henry`s famous Give Me
Liberty -- Frank.
KORNACKI: Richmond Virginia is correct. Frank with the early ring in and
it pays off. A hundred point question here. The silhouetted player in the
NBA logo, is based -- Bob.
COSTAS: Jerry West.
KORNACKI: It is based on Jerry West, that`s right. Hundred points for
Bob. Hundred points tossed up. The country`s interstate highway system is
named for this president under who -- Bob.
KORNACKI: Eisenhower created the Interstate Highway System. Correct.
Hundred point tossed up. This NBA franchise has won the most titles in --
KORNACKI: Celtics correct. Stop the clock. Bob, I got some exciting news
for you, in addition to winning 100 points, that was the video bonus
trigger question. Because you answered it right, you will now have a
chance to add an extra 100 points to your score to expand your lead. It`s
very simple, we`ve asked a celebrity to read a famous political quote. All
you have to do is correctly identify who said it. You`ll get that extra
100 points. There`s no penalty for guessing on this one. So please take a
look at the monitor for this week`s video bonus question.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KEVIN MILLAR, MLB NETWORK: Good morning contestants, I`m Kevin Millar,
former World Series champion of your Boston Red Sox back in 2004. Now co-
host of MLB Networks intentional talk. And today, today I have for you
this week`s "Up Against the Clock" quote note. From the 1986 film Hoosiers
where this actor delivered the line now boys don`t get caught watching the
paint dry. Good luck.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: Bob, what actor said that?
COSTAS: Gene Hackman.
KORNACKI: Incorrect. It was Dennis Hopper who said that.
COSTAS: Oh, the assistant coach.
KORNACKI: No penalty. No penalty, though. It was only a bonus. Don`t
worry. We`ll put the clock back up. Thirty four seconds, we`ll start it
up. Hundred point question. In the classic NBC sitcom "Cheers," Sam
Malone is a former Red Sox pitcher known by what nickname? Mike.
PESCA: May Day Malone. Hundred points.
KORNACKI: This iconic company which is intimately associated with Fourth
of July cookouts, currently has six winner -- Bob.
KORNACKI: Incorrect. Mike.
PESCA: Oscar Mayer.
KORNACKI: Oscar Mayer is correct. Hundred point question. This legendary
Vegas odds maker was a staple of CBS` NFL -- Bob.
COSTAS: Jimmy the Greek.
KORNACKI: Jimmy the Greek Snyder, 100 points. This 2004 movie featured
Nicolas Cage stealing the declaration of independence in order to uncover a
math -- Mike.
PESCA: National Treasure.
KORNACKI: Correct. He said it with confidence. Ends the round. Hundred
point round ends. Mike in the lead with 500. Bob at 400. Frank in the
running with 100 points. Very competitive round there. And it`s only
going to get more competitive because now we move to the 200 point round.
A little harder here twice as valuable. Put a hundred seconds on the
clock. The second round begins now. The first casualty of the American
Revolution was this runaway slave -- Mike.
PESCA: Crispus Attucks.
KORNACKI: Crispus Attucks was his name. Correct. Two hundred point
question. The first woman ever to win a presidential primary in either
major party -- Bob.
COSTAS: Hillary Clinton.
KORNACKI: It`s Hillary Clinton. Correct. Presidential primary in 2008,
200 point question. More U.S. presidents have been born in this state --
KORNACKI: Virginia. Correct. Two hundred points for Mike. Two hundred
point question. No governor has ever sought the presidency more times than
this Minnesota republican -- Bob.
COSTAS: Harold Staser.
KORNACKI: Harold Staser, at the wire he gets it. Correct. Two hundred
point tossup. The American tradition of throwing out the ceremonial first
pitch before a baseball game -- Mike.
KORNACKI: Taft was the first president to do it. Stop the clock. Mike
exciting news, 200 points because you got Taft, but also this is the use it
or lose it bonus question. And it means you have a chance to double what
you just won. But this one is not risk free. Here is the deal. I have
the follow-up question here to follow up to the one you just answered. It
is related in some way and it`s worth an extra 200 points if you can answer
it correctly. But if you`re wrong, you will lose those 200 points. Or you
can just pass. So, it`s your choice, Mike. Will you use it or lose it?
PESCA: -- asking me the question and remember the Red Sox, I`m using it.
I`m using it.
KORNACKI: He`s using it. All right. For 200 extra points, William Henry
Harrison`s presidency is the shortest in history, but who had the second
KORNACKI: James Garfield, correct. Six months. Two hundred extra points.
Fifty seconds back on the clock and we go with this. Two hundred points
tossup with seven each, Ohio State, USC and this school are tied for the
most Heisman Trophy winners by school -- Bob.
COSTAS: Notre Dame.
KORNACKI: Notre Dame. Correct. Two hundred points. The Fighting Irish.
Printed on the seal of the United States, the phrase e-pluribus Unum means
COSTAS: Out of many one.
KORNACKI: Out of many one. Two hundred points for Bob. Two hundred point
tossup. When this president ordered that all purchasers of federal land
pay in gold or silver coins, it set off the panic of 1837 -- Frank.
DEFORD: Martin Van Buren.
KORNACKI: Incorrect. Bob.
COSTAS: Andrew Jackson.
KORNACKI: Andrew Jackson. Correct. Two hundred point. Two hundred point
tossup. What two former presidents died on the same date, July 4th --
DEFORD: Adams and Jefferson.
KORNACKI: Adams and Jefferson. Correct. Two hundred points for Frank.
Although the U.S. celebrates Independence Day on July 4th, the continental
Congress actually voted for independence -- Frank.
DEFORD: July 3rd.
KORNACKI: Incorrect. Bob.
COSTAS: July 2nd.
KORNACKI: July 2nd is correct. Two hundred points. At the wire for Bob.
We have a barn burner here. Sixteen hundred points for Bob, 1300 for Mike,
negative one hundred for Frank. But Frank, you can still make it up.
Because we`re about to embark on the round of champions. The three hundred
point round. Hardest questions we have. Most valuable questions we have.
This is where we decide the champion, we dim the lights for dramatic
effect. Oh, we put a hundred seconds on the clock. And gentlemen, we go
Andrew Jacobs, a democratic congressman from Indiana in the 1980s and
1990s, was best known for his attempts to replace the Star Spangled Banner
as the national anthem with this well known -- Bob.
COSTAS: America the Beautiful.
KORNACKI: America the Beautiful. Correct. Three hundred point question.
The President in a television drama the west wing shares the name of this
second person to sign the declaration of independence -- Mike.
KORNACKI: Bartlett is correct. Josiah Bartlett. Three hundred point
question. There are four states that share the same first letter as their
capital cities. Name two of them. I`ll call time. Dover, Honolulu,
Indianapolis or Oklahoma City. Three hundred point question.
Who is the last losing vice presidential candidate to go on and win the
KORNACKI: Incorrect. He`ll call time. It was FDR. Three hundred point
question. Besides George W. Bush in 2000, three other presidents have been
elected despite losing the popular vote. Name one of them.
COSTAS: Grover, Cleveland.
KORNACKI: Incorrect. I`ll call time. Harrison, Benjamin Harrison,
Rutherford Hayes or John Quincy Adams. Three hundred point question. It`s
rarely used by anyone, but the official name of this state clocks in at 41
characters long making it the longest of any state. Frank.
DEFORD: Rhode Island.
KORNACKI: Rhode Island and Providence plantation is correct. Three
hundred points. This famously terse president is the only -- Mike?
PESCA: Calvin Coolidge.
KORNACKI: Calvin Coolidge. He was born on the Fourth of July. Three
hundred point question. Winning three Tony Awards including one for best
musical this 1969 Broadway show which was later -- Mike?
KORNACKI: Is correct at the wire. Mike, that gives you even a bigger lead
for the championship today. You have won with 2,200 points. This special
Americana edition of "Up Against the Clock." And Bill Wolff is here to
tell you what you`ve won.
BILL WOLFF, NBC NETWORK ANNOUNCER: As our champion your name will be
engraved using the finest sharpie ink on the all new "Up Against the Clock"
gold cup, you`ll also receive a DVD copy of the classic 1988 film "Cocoon
2: The Return" personally autographed by Wilford Brimly, and you`ll get to
play in our jackpot round for today`s grand prize, a $50 gift certificate
to -- Midtown Manhattan. The only street meat vendor in the -- area
operated by a former chef of the Russian tea room. I had it for lunch
today. Delicious. Enjoy the meal and congratulations. Back to you,
KORNACKI: All right, Bill. Quite a prized collection there. Mike showing
off that cup of here to win that street vendor gift certificate, I have
your jackpot bonus question and it is this. There is one president, Mike,
who has delivered a State of the Union Address with four future presidents
in attendance. Name the president who gave the speech and the four future
presidents who were there for it. I`m going to need an answer.
PESCA: You need an answer. Yes, I`m sure you are. Gee, that`s tough.
KORNACKI: Reagan. Incorrect.
We`ll stop right there.
PESCA: Embarrass myself further.
KORNACKI: The president was Truman. The year was 1951 and the future
presidents were Dwight Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy, Richard Nixon and
Lyndon Johnson. Sorry you didn`t win the bonus. Congratulations on
winning the game.
Thank you to Frank, thank you to Bob. You`ll get the home edition, hours
of fun for kids and for people of all ages. I appreciate you being good
sports. I appreciate you playing, and we`ll be back to wrap up the show
right after this.
KORNACKI: All right. It`s that time of the show we find out what our
guests think we should know for the week ahead. Mike, the new champion
with his flashy mug there. What do you tell us?
PESCA: July 4, 1939, that was when Lou Gehrig gave his luckiest man
speech. Do you know what he did after that? He only lived less than two
years. He signed on for civil service job that paid $5,700 and he worked
in the parole system of New York. It was a legit job, he said. I`m going
to take this, I`m going to study and I`m going to really do it. He turned
down lucrative speaking gigs and the only reason he stopped was there was
an elevator strike and his ALS did not allow him to climb the stairs. So,
that is character.
COSTAS: Who knew? I came unprepared. But if we go for the July 4th
theme, the man who subsequently owned Lou Gehrig`s team and whose public
persona could not have been more different than the Irish horse, George
Steinbrenner was born on the Fourth of July.
KORNACKI: That`s right George Steinbrenner and Calvin Coolidge as we
DEFORD: I was fascinated to learn there is a copy of the declaration of
independence down at the New York public library and it`s Jefferson`s own
copy in which he put in some of the things that were deleted from the final
draft. And one of them was that the slave trade should be abolished. And
Jefferson, of course, was a slave owner. But how interesting if that had
happened, words are powerful and would have changed.
KORNACKI: Yes. Two incredible pieces of information there. And Mike, we
have to say, you did play "Up Against the Clock" earlier in the season. So
when we get to the end of the year we have to seed our field for the
tournament of champions, we`re not sure how the selection committee is
going to look on your win today after a loss. It`s one of those debatable
items. We`re going to find out. Some suspense for later in the year when
the selection committee meets.
KORNACKI: He was our bracketologist for last year`s tournament. That`s
Anyway, I want to thank, Mike Pesca, Bob Costas, Frank Deford. That was a
really great panel. I appreciate the time and thank you for joining us
today. For UP, tune us more at Sunday morning at 8:00 a.m., we`ll talk
about the other major Supreme Court ruling this past week, the one that was
overshadowed by the Hobby Lobby decision that could affect employment
benefits for millions.
Before then stick around for Melissa Harris-Perry, MHP. Immigration is the
fight of the summer. It is just getting started. Melissa Harris-Perry,
she is coming up next. Krystal Ball is sitting in for her. Thanks for
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