'The Melissa Harris-Perry Show' for Sunday, August 31st, 2014
Read the transcript to the Sunday show
August 31, 2014
Guest: Allison Harrington, Laurie Garrett, Joe Montgomery, Michael
Pollock, Carmen Rita Wong, Raul Reyes, Dave Zirin, Jemele Hill, Don
MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY, MSNBC ANCHOR: And Atlantic city`s big gamble. But
first, coming to America to work.
Good morning, I`m Melissa Harris-Perry.
And we begin today with the issue of immigration. The topic has gotten a
lot of renewed attention as observer speculate about whether President
Obama will take executive action to address the nation`s broken immigration
policies. Remember back in June he appeared in the Rose Garden and said
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Today, I`m beginning a new
effort to fix as much of our immigration system as I can on my own without
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: On my own without Congress. And, so, while we still don`t
know precisely what he is prepared to do, we know that the president doubts
that any meaningful collaboration is possible with the gridlocked congress.
If he is to build a comprehensive plan for immigration reform, he is going
to have to build it alone. And this idea of building it all alone has me
thinking about another summer moment from President Obama. Not summer 2014
when he tried to figure out what to do solo about the national issue of
immigration, but summer 2012 when he was running for reelection and said
this at a campaign stop in Virginia.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: If you`ve been successful, you didn`t get there on your own. If
you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help. There was
a great teacher somewhere in your life. Somebody helped to create this
unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive.
Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you`ve got a business, you
didn`t build that. Somebody else made that happen.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: We all know what happened next in the way President Obama`s
opponents attempted to use his words against him. But it is worth
reviewing just how accurate President Obama`s assessment is in the
particular context of immigration. Just who did build America?
Well, let`s start with the president`s house. The White House was designed
by James Hoban, Irish immigrant, and largely built by enslaved men and
women from the African continent. Immigrants, they built that.
The Brooklyn Bridge which made possible the New York economy by connecting
Brooklyn and Manhattan and became an iconic American architectural
achievement, it was designed by John Augustus Roebling, German immigrant.
Immigrants, they built that.
The transcontinental railroad, the link between our national coach which
revolutionized the movement of goods and people and communication it was
built by thousands of workers who were primarily Chinese immigrants. Many
of whom lost their lives in the effort. Immigrants, they built that.
And the vaulted ceilings domes and arches that surface skeletons of famous
structures like Grand central station, Ellis Island and five U.S. state
capital buildings. Yes, immigrants built that.
This is not just a story of glorified immigrants of yesteryear. A 2012
study found that immigration between 1990 and 2006 actually increased labor
force participation and increased the U.S. workers earnings. A lesson
learned in Arizona after the 2010 sb1070 dubbed the papers please law, the
state lost 141 million in conference cancellations because of the backlash
to the regressive immigration policy Alabama is estimated to lose up to
$10.8 billion or more than its six percent of its GDP because of its
immigration bill, which the district portions of which struck down by a
settlement last year.
And in Georgia, their immigration law enacted in 2011, caused severe labor
shortages with workers and their families avoiding the state. It`s
estimated that the state lost $300 million in un-harvested crops. The
statewide impact in 2011 was estimated to be $1 billion.
When immigrants are not welcome to help build our nation, we are the ones
who suffer. But we can choose a different path. We celebrate the ways
that immigrants continue to build this. Immigrants are 30 percent more
likely to start businesses in the U.S. and they constitute 18 percent of
all small business owners. As of 2007 small businesses owned by immigrants
owned an estimated 4.7 million people and generated more than $776 billion
Comprehensive immigration reform could create up to 900,000 new jobs within
three years. It is estimated that legalizing our country`s undocumented
immigrants would add $1.5 trillion to the U.S. GDP over the next decade.
And the federal government would accumulate between $4.5 and $5.4 billion
in additional tax revenue in a little more than three years.
So, we`re forced to ask, if we close the door to immigrants, just who is
going to build this?
At the table, Dorian Warren, an MSNBC contributor and associate professor
of political science and international affairs at Columbia University,
Carmen Rita Wong, assistant industry professor at NYU Polytech, and Raul
Reyes, an attorney and a columnist with "USA Today."
It is so nice to have you all at the table.
CARMEN WONG, ASSISTANT INDUSTRY PROFESSOR, NEW YORK UNIVERSITY: Hi,
DORIAN WARREN, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Good morning.
RAUL REYES, ATTORNEY: Good morning.
HARRIS-PERRY: Why do you think the presumption remains that immigrants are
an economic threat rather than an economic benefit to the country?
REYES: That perception remains because historically when people react to
immigration or waves of immigration, it`s largely driven by politics and
emotion, not by the facts. And, you know, we`ve gone through many
historical concepts where we see the symbiotic, for example, with Latin
America, our relationship to immigration, but we see clear patterns.
You know, going back to the turn of the last century when the United States
instituted a lot of these executionary (ph) laws towards Asians and
Japanese, the void was caused by that was filled by Mexican labor. And
again in World War I and World War II, when there was a shortage of native-
born workers, that was filled by Mexican workers.
So you know, our economy is tied, for example throughout Latin America
countries particularly Mexico, but it`s not Mexico that drives it. It`s
us. And that continues to this day.
HARRIS-PERRY: And, so, there`s, on the one hand, so I get this point that
we actually have these moments where, in fact, it`s clear empirically that
immigration and immigrants themselves are economically beneficial to the
nation. And there is at least a little bit of evidence that Americans get
this. Way back in June of 2013, an immigration poll showed that if you
asked that legalize undocumented workers would be better for the economy,
75 percent of Americans got that. Even driven by politics, get that. But
you did have the sense sort of the 2008, 2009, as we were in midst of a
deep, economic crisis that anti-immigrant feelings emerge at the same time,
like the pie shrinking, they can`t have any.
WONG: Yes. I mean, if you look at who is being threatened, we are talking
high school education or lower. So they are in the class of Americans who
are being threatened job wise because comparably, actually, undocumented
labor brings up wages by 10 percent. But if you completely go across in
certain sectors of this country, real specific areas where you have
competitive workforce, then that`s where a lot of the friction is coming
from, undocumented, uneducated workforce, right? They are also, let`s say,
victims of the economy. Where the jobs are going, right? We don`t have
manufacturing any more. Where do you go if you don`t have the education?
That`s where we`re getting a lot of the heat from.
But in reality, we know this is not the case. One staff that I love, $15
billion of Social Security money is put in by undocumented, right? They
take out $1 billion. So, for all Americans right now who are receiving
Social Security benefits, we`re seeing the fruits of the labor and I
recommend seeing this. The great movie and, you know as Latino -- Chino-
Latino, Americans, you know, we`ve been hearing this anti-immigrant
rhetoric for our whole lives. But there was a great movie called "a day
without a Mexican." It was fantastic film. And you see how it is not
necessarily the middle class Americans who understand that the foundation
of their lives, whether it`s from taking care of their lawns or taking care
of their kids has to deal with immigrants, but it is the folks that
actually compete directly for the jobs who feel most threatened. And it`s
actually a really small portion.
HARRIS-PERRY: So, I guess part of then what is fascinating about that to
me. So I appreciate kind of like taking apart the labor market in the
sectors and trying to think carefully about it. And yet, then when we look
at the politics of it, Dorian, I mean, here`s the president saying, in
June, all right, clearly Congress is not going to do this. Clearly we must
have co comprehensive labor reform. I`m going to do the best that I can.
We had the president saying it again basically again. I`m going to do the
best I can.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE REPORTER: You`re going to delay --
OBAMA: Let me just say this. I`ve been very clear about that fact that
our immigration system is broken and needs to be fixed and my preference
continues to be that Congress act. But have no doubt, in the absence of
congressional action, I`m going to do what I can to make sure the system
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: And this was in part because of the matter of politics to
the Democratic Party and should rest precisely the people who have maybe
the most legitimate economic angst and yet are also the most supportive of
WARREN: And also the Republican Party if it wants to have a future as a
competitive party needs to really, quickly, marginalize its anti-
immigration wing and step up to where the business lobby is on this
question who is, business has always been supportive of some immigration,
legal and illegal, so to speak. But the Republican Party for its survival
also has to figure out what`s its strategy with immigrants and particularly
with Latino and Asian communities.
Let me also say, the president won`t be making those statements if there
wasn`t sustained, continued activism, I-Immigrant right activists and
especially led by dreamers, so put the pressure on last Thursday another
civil disobedience at the White House and putting the pressure on both the
president and members of Congress to act in some way.
HARRIS-PERRY: What should the president do?
REYES: He should act sooner rather than later. For one things, in this
time where he`s waiting, the Republicans are out there making the case
against his executive action and making it pretty well even though we don`t
even know what it is going it be.
HARRIS-PERRY: Right, making a case against something we don`t even know
what it is going to be.
REYES: Right. And they are bringing threats of impeachment and then
calling him the imperial president and all that is out there putting them
somewhat on the defensive before he has even active. And the other
political danger of him waiting, he is creating tremendous expectations.
The longer he waits, the greater the expectations are going to be for what
he actually ends up doing. So, it could even backfire on him. If he ends
up taking up a relatively modest proposal, then you will have so many
unhappy Latino voters. So many unhappy progressives and meanwhile, the
Republicans will be beating over the head anyway.
HARRIS-PERRY: Sort of the modest incrementalism that happened sooner might
be more beneficial.
REYES: Might be better to get out in front of it. And you know, when he
talks about the broken immigration system, we tend to fake about illegal
workers and illegal immigration problem. But our broken system
tremendously affects system and just by means of comparison. You know, the
United States, we have not changed the number of people we admit for high-
skilled labor in this country. We have not changed it since 1990. I mean,
think of all the industries.
WONG: I mean, that`s the thing, they are going to go someplace else and
build businesses some place.
HARRIS-PERRY: They are going to build somebody to be a building in the
Stay right there because when we come back, we are going to talk about the
families that are caught in America`s immigration crisis and show how one
family found sanctuary and where.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ALLISON HARRINGTON, PASTOR, SOUTHSIDE PRESBYTERIAN: We are hoping that
other churches will step up. Other communities to say, this is enough. We
don`t want to see people disappeared from our neighborhood any more. We
want these families to remain together. And we hope that that voice, that
moral voice speaking about the importance of family unity would, indeed,
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: That was Pastor Allison Harrington who joined me back in
June to talk about her church, Southside Presbyterian giving sanctuary to
Daniel Ruiz and his wife and 13-year-old son after Ruiz would live in
Tucson for almost 15 years refused to voluntarily return to Mexico after a
traffic stop revealed his lack of documentation.
Because of the efforts by Southside Presbyterian, Daniel was granted a one-
year stay on his deportation order. And, of course, the struggle
continues. Southside Presbyterian is providing sanctuary to yet another
Mexican immigrant and her family.
Later this month, Rosa Imelda Robles Loreto, her husband, Geraldo, and
their two sons sought refuge at Southside Presbyterian the night before she
was set to be deported. The family remains in limbo after Loreto`s request
to stay in the country was denied by immigration officials. Though they
have said they will not take immediate action against her.
Pastor Harrington had this to say about how Southside Presbyterian will
react to that decision.
We will continue to ask ICE to issue a stay of removal for Rosa Robles
Loreto until they understand that thousands of Tucsonans, faith leaders and
elected officials have or are preparing to act on behalf of this super
achieving mother and community member.
Joining me now from Tucson, Arizona, is Pastor Allison Harrington of
Southside Presbyterian church. Pastor Harrington, tell me about Rosa, this
HARRINGTON: She`s an amazing mother of two precious boys, 8-year-old and
11-year-old boy. And she`s a little league mom. She`s there cheering them
on every day at their games. She`s active in her own church. She`s very
active in our community, hard-working, taxpaying woman. And we are saying
to the Obama administration, don`t tear this mother from her children.
Keep this family together.
HARRIS-PERRY: So, Pastor, I found it interesting, you and I had a little
communication and you were expressing some sense of solidarity in the wake
of military-like response to Ferguson, Missouri and have argued that there
are kind of important connections between that police militarization and
the custom and border protection practices. Help us understand how so.
HARRINGTON: Absolutely. I mean, what we have here on the border is the
law enforcement agency, that is the biggest law enforcement agency in the
nation with a budget of $13 billion. An agency that has 28 people have
died at the hands of border patrol agents since 2010. And recently the
former chief of internal affairs, Jim Tomshac has said at least a quarter
of these deaths are questionable. And he has recently brought up concerns
that instead of doing thorough reviews of these shootings, border patrol is
often fabricating facts to make them seem like good shoots. This is coming
from the former chief of internal affairs. So there is much that we`re
concerned about in terms of this impunity in which border patrol agents are
acting on our border.
HARRIS-PERRY: Hold for me one second, Pastor.
Raul, I want to ask you a bit about this because we have been trying to
think through on this set this notion of that kind of alienation from the
state that occurs as a result of policing and, in this case, the
deportation and division of families. How then do those practices actually
make this problem of trying to find a comprehensive solution even worse or
REYES: Well, they make it harder because there`s so many, the emotions are
already so high around the issue of illegal immigration that most people
don`t even understand, for example, is it existing law. And this is the
perfect example. What this church seems to be doing, I think what`s many
people sort of radical as well as defying the government and offer
sanctuary. And yet, what all they are doing is holding ICE to their own
standards because under the 2011 ICE prosecutorial discretion memo, they
said that they should not focus on deporting people who have long-standing
ties to the community, who have children under their care, who have no
criminal record. That`s the type of people who are seeking sanctuary in
And as wonderful as it is that the church is doing this, I mean, it is
providing them with a haven and, at the same time, these people are
literally trapped. It is a haven and it is from deportation and also a
type of prison in the sense that I think in 2007, Vira Arellano (ph), she
was in a church in Chicago for over a year seeking sanctuary. And the day
she left, I think within a week, she was deported. So, it`s tough.
They are truly doing God`s work. And I do think that what needs to be out
there is that they are, in effect, supporting existing government policies
just not implemented.
HARRIS-PERRY: It`s interesting, Pastor. I had maybe thoughtless about of
the way sanctuary could become imprisoning if part of what this mom does is
go to her children`s games. I suppose she can`t do that in the context of
HARRINGTON: No, she can`t. The boys are there playing catch in our
courtyard at the church. But, yes, she is there. It is, you know, she is
limited in what she can do and limited in and being able to be in her
community with her family. But she is surrounded by a great deal of
But you know, it`s exactly right, we`re just trying to hold the
administration accountable to the values they professed. President Obama
said we should not be in the business of tearing apart families and, yet,
here we are. And so we`re trying to hold our administration accountable to
their own policies.
HARRIS-PERRY: Let me ask you a final question because, obviously, you`re
doing this as one church. I know there areas few other churches beginning
to take this up. We made an economic argument before the commercial. I`m
trying to make a humanitarian one now. What seems to work in actually
changing the minds of people who are initially opposed to immigration in
terms of we need try to point out that, no, we need a comprehensive reform
that will keep families together.
HARRINGTON: Yes. I mean, I think what changed the hearts and minds, is
lifting up stories like Rosa`s story. She is a mom just like me who adores
her two little boys and who wants to be in the stands cheering them on at
their little league games. And I think there is also a faith voice to say,
you know, we`re called by our scriptures to love our neighbor and Rosa is
our neighbor. And what it means to love her is to make sure she stays with
HARRIS-PERRY: Pastor Allison Harrington in Tucson, Arizona, thank you for
your continuing work and for joining us. Also, thank you to Raul.
HARRINGTON: Thank you so much.
HARRIS-PERRY: Also thank you to Raul Reyes here in New York. Dorian and
Carmen are both sticking around.
Still ahead, the latest on the health crisis spreading faster and further
than anyone expected.
HARRIS-PERRY: When President F.D. Roosevelt urged Congress to pass the
fair labor standards act of 1938, which would guarantee a minimum wage and
a 40-hour workweek he said quote "we are seeking only legislation to end
starvation wages and intolerable hours. "
Congress eventually passed the law. And this Labor Day we should celebrate
how far we have come. But we must also remember how far we have yet to go.
To accomplish what FDR tried to do. To end starvation wages and
intolerable hours. The death of 32-year-old Maria Fernandez is a tragic
reminder this week. Fernandez worked multiple jobs, including jobs at
three different Dunkin` Donuts franchises in New Jersey. According to co-
workers, she often worked three shifts in one day, sometimes going five
days straight without sleeping. She never missed a day of work.
Early Monday morning she left an overnight shift at one franchise and
decided to catch a few hours of sleep in her car. Police say that while
Fernandez was sleeping, she was overcome by carbon monoxide from her car
that she had left running and by gasoline fumes from a container she kept
in the car because she so often run out of gas while commuting between
jobs. Maria Fernandez tried to take a nap between the jobs she was trying
to keep. She died in that car in the parking lot in Elizabeth, New Jersey,
just minutes from the statue of liberty in 2014 in America.
HARRIS-PERRY: With each week, the news about Ebola seems to grow more
dire. This week we learned the virus that had already killed more than
1,500 people in four West African nations has now surfaced in a fifth
country, Senegal, a major tourist destination and transportation hub in the
nation. That news broke this week just as we were learning a separate
Ebola strain had broken out in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Friday, the world health organization said 500 cases were recorded over the
past week, by far the worse toll of any week since the outbreak began. And
the WHO said that the Ebola outbreak in West Africa could eventually infect
20,000 people before the situation is brought under control. The people of
Liberia received some positive news this weekend when it was announced that
quarantine of West point (INAUDIBLE) would be lifted. There is also a big
development here in the U.S. in the fight against the disease.
Next week researchers will begin the first ever human trials of a vaccine
to inoculate against Ebola. The National Institutes of Health is
developing the vaccine with the drug maker, GlaxoSmithKline. The trial
will start with just 20 healthy adults and results are not expected until
next year. In an interview with NBC`s Kate Snow and the head of the NIH
was careful to manage expectations of that new drug.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KATE SNOW, NBC NEWS: Is this as fast as you can go because, as you know,
people are dying every single day.
This is not a treatment of a sick person. This is a prevention of
infection. We still don`t know if it works. Having said that, we`re going
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: The NIH fast tracked the testing of the vaccine with many
being developed right now because of the severity of the Ebola outbreak.
But at the current pace it remains to be seen whether vaccine will be
useful in stopping the spread of the disease.
Joining me now by phone Joe Montgomery is principal deputy director of CDC
Kenya and team leader for CDC Ebola response team in Liberia. Joel joins
us by phone from Monrovia. Joel, what is it like on the ground in Liberia
where you are?
JOEL MONTGOMERY, PRINCIPAL DEPUTY DIRECTOR, CDC KENYA (via phone): Yes,
the situation is actually very difficult right now. You know, the CDC is
working very closely with the ministry of health, with our partners
(INAUDIBLE), with WHO and several other NGO medical partners here.
Unfortunately, this outbreak is still ahead of us working closely right now
(INAUDIBLE). Our primary focus on the ground is trying to get Ebola
treatment units because, really, this is the only way we`re going to be
able to stop this outbreak is to get the cases out in the community and get
them out of the community they have to have a safe place to go and that is
Ebola treatment unit.
So we are working very closely with the ministry with health our partners.
In addition to that, we are providing technical support and assistance the
ministry so far is helping to categorize and better define the analogy (ph)
and trying to understand the distribution of cases throughout the country.
And also we`re helping to develop the partnership and our colleagues at the
department of defense and the national institutes of health, (INAUDIBLE)
HARRIS-PERRY: Thank you to Joel Montgomery on the phone in Monrovia,
Liberia. Good luck with your critical important work there.
And now I want to bring in Laurie Garrett. She is a senior fellow for
global health at the council on foreign relations.
The most chilling story I heard from a colleague who was an ER doctor in a
major medical center in a big city who said that in a conversation with his
staff and team, nearly all of the health workers suggested that if someone
in the U.S. or in their hospital presented with Ebola, that they would make
a choice to go home. And, so, as I`m looking at what`s happening on the
continent, apparently that is a choice being made by many health workers.
How do we stem this tide when health workers themselves are so terrified to
treat this disease?
LAURIE GARRETT, SENIOR FELLOW, COUNCIL FOR FOREIGN RELATIONS: Bullet
points to what you`re saying, Melissa. Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the
president of Liberia, has dismissed many members of her cabinet and senior
officials because they fled the country out of fear of Ebola.
In one particular hospital in Sierra Leone, 24 health care workers have
died in the last six weeks. Overall, healthcare workers are the number one
highest risk of group in this outbreak. (INAUDIBLE), doctors without
borders has not lost a single person. And that says there is a way, there
is a method, for taking care of people, for dealing with the quarantine,
for dealing with the triage. Here`s the acute, here`s the suspect, here`s
the healing and separating them. All of this is doable, safely, by health
care workers. The problem is that the MSF methods are not being repeated
It`s a very chaotic response, still. And the learning curve from one
institutional provider to another is very steep. MSF is the only group
that has really been consistently on the ground since this started in
March. And, so, they really know what they`re doing.
Now, what they`re telling me and I met with the president of MSF
international last week and what they`re telling me is, look, we don`t need
money right now. We need talented individuals who have real experience
with epidemics. Not do gooders that think they`re going to fly in and woo-
hoo, you know. People have actually worked in a protection suit, people
who have worked in the panic and fear of an epidemic, people who know how
to keep a cool head and watch their Ps and Qs every step of the way so they
don`t get infected.
HARRIS-PERRY: When you talk about panic, I mean, that feels to me like
clearly part of what is happening is what we saw in the quarantine
situation in Liberia. And you`ve talked to us a bit about why that panic
would emerge. What are reasonable ways to actually calm that panic to
express to communities and I keep hearing from everyone that education and
explaining what Ebola is and what safe practices are is critical, but that
there is a great deal of resistance to having that information spread.
GARRETT: You know, the hard part is, you don`t want to tell everybody,
hey, there is nothing to worry about because there is a lot to worry about.
And you don`t want people to stop taking precautions in terms of how they
interact with other people because you don`t want the virus spreading.
But on the other hand, panic, just out now, total fear, resulting in
Liberia, Sierra Leone and New Guinea, we are already getting reports of
children dying of preventable diseases because the parents are afraid to
take their kids to the hospitals. Most of the hospitals are empty of
everything except Ebola patients. Now, what`s the number one diagnostic
for a child under five in Africa showing up at a hospital, high fever.
HARRIS-PERRY: High fever.
GARRETT: Usually due to an infection or malaria, right? Well, what is the
primary diagnosis for Ebola right now? High fever. So, parents are making
choices. Minute by minute, can you imagine the fear American families
would experience if every time one of your children had a fever, you had to
make your own mental choices. Is this Ebola or not? Should we risk going
to a hospital or not?
HARRIS-PERRY: Apparently Americans are totally panicked by this. We saw
the survey this week that 40 percent of Americans believe that they are
going to know someone who has Ebola over the course of the next year, which
is a vast overestimation, right, of the likelihood.
GARRETT: I think Americans are grossly over responding and being overly
fearful for themselves.
HARRIS-PERRY: And under responding.
GARRETT: But let`s look at what`s happening in Africa. Korean airlines
have shut down all flights, not just to the four affected countries. But
Kenya, Tanzania and so on, the harsh starts on September 1st, the massive
Islamic hajj to Mecca, you know, Jeddah, (INAUDIBLE), and Saudi Arabia and
already the Indonesian government is saying if you go to the Hajj and you
come back with a fever, boom, you`re going into quarantine. The
Philippines is saying the same thing. And of course, it`s even worse
because Saudi Arabia also has the Mers Virus, the Middle East Respiratory
HARRIS-PERRY: So, it ends up potentially not having only the toll on human
life and on the health system, but also an enormous economic impact.
Stay with us over the course of the next month, Laurie. We`re going to
continue to come back to asking how this virus is impacting the continent.
Thank you to Laurie Garrett.
And up next, Atlantic City`s big gamble. Are casinos becoming a losing
HARRIS-PERRY: It feels like an end of an era in New Jersey`s Atlantic
City. Tomorrow, the Revel Casino hotel will close. It was the city`s
newest and biggest casino opening to much fan fare and a $2.4 billion price
tag just two and a half years ago. Another casino is closing today, the
Show Boat, which has been open for 27 years. Next month Trump Plaza will
also close its doors.
The closures will mean a total loss of more than 6,000 jobs for the city in
an area that already has a 10 percent unemployment rate. Together, the
three casinos paid $30 million in property taxes a year. That is 15
percent of the city`s budget and the city is now proposing a 29 percent
property tax increase for homeowners in addition to laying off hundreds of
employees, all to make up the difference.
The first casino in Atlantic City opened in 1978 legalizing casino gambling
in Atlantic City once specifically aimed at revitalizing the city which had
fallen into poverty (INAUDIBLE) as tourists abandoned which was once a
booming resort town. Now with competing casinos bringing up in
Pennsylvania, in Maryland and Delaware, Atlantic City is once again,
looking to reinvent itself. In this original report, we get a closer look
at the future of the famed boardwalk.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In the initial stages of casino gaming, it was a great
opportunity for Atlantic City. Right now, I think it`s just the
apprehension of what`s to come. The casino industry and employment, people
are worried, very concerned about living their lives, sustaining their
lives the way that they have.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This time of the year, September would be a very bad
time to be looking for a job. Yes, we`re sad, you know. We`re hoping that
somebody steps in.
MOISSE DELGADO, CITY COUNCILMAN AT LANCE: The majority of individuals here
that live in Atlantic City, most of them are entry level and the people who
work hard in the background. They make it look nice and they cook and make
the food taste good. So these are the individuals who are the quiet heroes
in the background who are now being left aside with, you know,
TURIYA ABDUR-RAHEEM, ATLANTIC CITY COMMUNITY COLLEGE: So, the city was
really going through desperate times. When they decided to bring the
casinos in and voted the casinos, my biggest concern was whether or not
people in the community were going to really benefit or was it going to
still be a situation where these casinos and other casino-related
businesses were going to thrive and the community was going to suffer.
JOE KELLY, PRESIDENT, ATLANTIC CITY CHAMBER OF COMMERCE: Atlantic City is
a market that`s changing. We`ll never divorce ourselves of the gaming,
that`s a piece of our economy. But it`s really about growing the market
into new and other things.
DELGADO: The casinos have a strong leveraging power over the community.
And I still think there are opportunities for help to come from the casinos
and industry to help replenish us because it is a majority industry. But
we have to sit at the table and have that dialogue. And there`s too many
people who are involved that don`t reside here that don`t really care.
Don`t have an investment that we do for these people that reside here that
they do. So it`s easy for them. This is more so the corporate game.
I look at the corporate game is not necessarily considering the employees
per see or the residents here. It is business deals. It`s unfortunate
because it affects a lot of lives.
ABDUR-RAHEEM: Such a microcosm of what`s happening in so many other parts
of the country. People get upset when we talk about being invested in
Atlantic City. But I don`t think they really understand the history. The
history of this city is that our parents and grandparents really did build
HARRIS-PERRY: When we come back, more of what`s next for Atlantic City`s
HARRIS-PERRY: You know the classic board game monopoly, right, all the way
from Mediterranean Avenue to St. James place to the prized boardwalk.
Those properties are all based on streets in Atlantic City, New Jersey. A
city so iconic, (INAUDIBLE) that is inspired the American board game.
Joining our table now to talk about the changing face of Atlantic City and
the closing of some of its major casinos, Dorian Warren, an MSNBC
contributor and an associate professor in political science international
affairs at Columbia University, Carmen Rita Wong who is an assistant
industry professor at NYU Polytech, Ned Resnikoff who is an MSNBC.com
reporter who went out to Atlantic City this week to cover the story for us
and Michael Pollock who is managing director of spectrum gaming group.
And I actually want to start with you because, honestly, listening to the
package that they did and thinking through this, I don`t know maybe the
first time I ever had an emotion about a casino. My initial reaction is to
think, I don`t care if casinos close because casinos aren`t good things.
Make an argument for me.
MICHAEL POLLOCK, MANAGING DIRECTOR, SPECTRUM GAMING GROUP: Well, all
right. There are a lot of points to be made. Number one is that,
obviously, on a very clinical economic sense, this is a question of supply
coming down as demand decreases, supply goes down. But it is much more
complicated than that.
Atlantic City is, in one sense, very much a victim of its own success.
Atlantic City was the first place in the United States outside Nevada to
use casino gambling to advance some public policy in urban development.
And it demonstrated that casinos could be regulated effectively. And that
was not the case in 1976. And it could also demonstrate and could be a
powerful economic tool. And other communities followed suit and that
became the competition.
HARRIS-PERRY: It creates competition.
POLLOCK: But another element to this is that Atlantic City recognized that
it cannot be, it cannot function as simply the most convenient place in the
eastern United States to gamble, which it was for years. That is not an
effective business model. It`s broken. It never will be fixed.
HARRIS-PERRY: That feels to me, that idea of sort of the tourism around a
particular thing, that for me, Carmen, feels like maybe more than anything,
even beyond the question of casinos or Atlantic City as Americana -- in
other words, the lesson for urban development and for economic development
WONG: Diversification completely, with anything, your own money and in
terms of businesses.
HARRIS-PERRY: I mean, 15 percent of the city is coming from the casinos.
WONG: And there`s a big reason why, for example, if you go up to New
England and meadowlands that my sisters who live in New England have been
there and don`t gamble. They went there for shows. Las Vegas now with its
amazing restaurants and chefs, being able to lure other things because we
have the two big hits, right, the recession and then also online gambling.
Other ways to gamble, we saw huge story in "the times" about video games
and gambling on them.
So you have to diversify where the income is coming in. It seems like a
lot of developments having those three huge casinos happening at that time
when there is a decline. And funny enough is that Fitch ratings is now
saying that the business that would have gone to those casinos is actually
most of it, 50 to 60 percent will stay in Atlantic city with the smaller
group of casinos that are there now.
HARRIS-PERRY: So, were these casinos truly job creators that penetrated
below the top and, if so, then what happens to those workers?
NED RESNIKOFF, REPORTER, MSNBC.COM: Well, it`s a little complicated
because they were truly job creators and they did create a lot of jobs
within Atlantic City, but the bulk of those jobs wept to outlying areas and
the jobs that were created -- .
HARRIS-PERRY: So the tax revenue went to the city, but the workers didn`t
RESNIKOFF: Right. Well, I believe about half of the working age
population, employed working age population is employed in the casinos but
that`s not the bulk of people that actually work there. And you know, the
federal reserve of Philadelphia put out a paper in 2009 about the paradox
of Atlantic City, which is that the casinos create a ton of jobs, but in
Atlantic City, unemployment is still significantly above the national
average. And poverty is way higher than either the national average or the
New Jersey average.
So, for I think the median household income there is $30,000. And part of
treason for that casino jobs, despite the fact that there is a union
presence in Atlantic city that helps a bit, the casino jobs are not high-
wage jobs, and especially for the people who live in Atlantic City, they`re
not high wage jobs.
HARRIS-PERRY: All right. So this is one of the questions I have for you,
Dorian, is that -- because you know, again, my first reaction being like,
well, I don`t care about casinos and also if their jobs are not good jobs.
But isn`t that like the progressive lefty labor narrative about don`t go
work at Walmart because there`s not a good job and people who need jobs are
like, excuse me, I would like to go work there because I need to work.
WARREN: Yes. A couple thing there`s. If we look at the Las Vegas,
Nevada, example, that is a great example of what happens to a town based on
casino gambling, what happens when you lift wages through unionization? So
those low-wage jobs went to middle class jobs in Nevada, it doesn`t apply -
- that`s the exception to the rule. It doesn`t apply to other places. So
I think Gary, Indiana, for instance, which has committed all of its staked
on casino gambling to replace the steel industry hasn`t worked.
Atlantic City, casino gambling, never really -- it sort of like sports
stadium in terms of saving a city in terms of economic development, it
never happens. And frankly, we have no independent research outside of
what is funded by the casino industry to really assess, what are the long-
term effects of casino gambling.
HARRIS-PERRY: You want in on this?
POLLOCK: Yes, absolutely. There is couple of points that need to be made
here. Atlantic City, as you mentions, is certainly iconic, but a lot of
people don`t realize how small Atlantic City is, fewer than 40,000
residents from preschool to senior citizens.
HARRIS-PERRY: It`s not Las Vegas.
POLLOCK: Well, it`s not a major city, it`s a small place. And even at its
peak, and even right now at its peak there was more jobs created within the
casino industry than there were residents of Atlantic City.
But there are two critical points that need to be addressed. One is that
the way out of this mess hasn`t changed at all. It does need to diversify
and that really needs capital investment. But the other point is that
Atlantic City certainly needs, it needs people who can make that happen.
The retail segment of Atlantic City is very strong. The restaurant segment
is very strong. The notion that at Atlantic City did not benefit from the
legalization of casinos, in my view after all these years is absurd.
HARRIS-PERRY: So obviously, we are all going to keep our eye on what
happens in Atlantic City. It is a major labor story for Labor Day. Thank
you for going and doing reporting for us. I`ll see if I could whoop you in
a fast game of monopoly, this slumber version. I get all the cheapest
properties and then bleed everybody else dry.
Thank you to Carmen Rita Wong and to Ned Resnikoff, also to Michael
Pollock. Dorian is going to stick around for the next hour. Because in
the next hour, it`s fall and football is back. We`re going to take a
closer look at the NFL`s new policy on domestic violence. What it says
about rules in the workplace and also what`s next for Michael Sam.
There is, of course, more Nerdland at the top of the hour.
HARRIS-PERRY: Welcome back. I`m Melissa Harris-Perry. Domestic violence
is a serious issue in this country. According to the National Coalition
Against Domestic Violence, an estimated 1.3 million women are physically
assaulted by an intimate partner every year. And one in four women will
experience domestic abuse in her lifetime. Most will never report the
violence to the police.
Shame, fear and the deep personal interconnection that remain intact even
in the context of violence often lead women to stay silent. But the
fiancee now wife of Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice was not able to
keep her February experience of domestic violence private. Rice was caught
by surveillance cameras dragging his fiancee`s unconscious form out of an
Atlantic City casino hotel elevator. According to a police summons, she
was unconscious because Rice struck her and knocked her out.
Because the incident was caught on camera, because her alleged abuser was
wealthy and famous, the violence that he did on her has become a public
matter. The video has been watched and broadcast and analyzed and
discussed, he subsequent choices had been judged and critiqued and analyzed
all by strangers who may not even know her name. She`s become a symbol, a
symbol so powerful the Commissioner Roger Goodell, this week was forced to
respond to the public uproar caused by his initial punishment of Rice.
Rice was suspended for the first two games of the 16-game season and many
cried foul. What? Two games for allegedly knocking a woman unconscious?
Goodell admitted, I didn`t get it right on the Rice suspension. And on
Thursday in an attempt to get it right Goodell sent a letter to the owners
of the 32 franchises and a memo to all league personnel outlining new NFL
rules. At least a six-game suspension for the first offense and a lifetime
ban for the second offense and a petition for re-instatement after one
year. And the policy applies to all incidents involving physical force,
not just domestic violence. So, it also includes sexual assault.
Given that domestic violence is a serious and life-threatening issue for
women in America, given the egregious and video documented violence
perpetrated by Rice, given that the initial response seemed tepid, I
understand why some are cheering the stiffer penalties. But I would like
you to pause for a moment and ask, what is your employer`s policy? If you
are accused of domestic violence, are they required to wait until you`re
found guilty or can they sanction you based on accusation.
Do NFL players sign away their rights to due process when they sign their
contracts? Today "The Nation`s" Dave Zirin wrote, quote, "Roger Goodell
has decided to place the passing of judgment of domestic violence
completely under his own power as commissioner without any input from the
NFL Players Association. It now resides beneath the umbrella of the NFL`s
personal conduct policy."
That means Goodell has total control of Judge, Jury and Executioner over
punishment on the basis of his assessment of what happened in a family`s
personal life. Now, no one thinks it is a good idea to protect abusers
from being held accountable for their violent, illegal actions. But I
wonder why we`re so eager to subject this particular group of employees to
the whim of their employer`s judgment. Is it really about protecting women
or is it about protecting the symbol that is the NFL?
Joining me to discuss it, Columbia associate professor and MSNBC
contributor Dorian Warren. The aforementioned sports editor of The Nation
Magazine Dave Zirin. Jemele Hill, co-host of The ESPN`s "Numbers Never
Lie," the His and Hers podcast. And former NFL quarterback Don McPherson.
So nice to have you all here.
So, Dave, I so appreciate that you`ve written that because my team was
giving me a hard time.
You know, I think more because there`s an expectation I would be like, yes,
go get him. You know, sanction him. I don`t, I mean, it`s the NFL. I
don`t know that I feel comfortable with them making decisions about
DAVE ZIRIN, SPORTS EDITOR, "THE NATION MAGAZINE": Exactly. I mean, the
NFL is our citadel of poison masculinity in this country. And this is yet
another example of that. I mean, when all you have is a hammer, everything
looks like a nail. And that`s Roger Goodell`s response to this. Is to say
the NFL should be an instrument of moral judgment, not just for the
players, but for America. So, he`s treated this like a pr problem, not
like a domestic violence problem and I don`t think we should take moral
advice from a commissioner who does the ALS bucket challenge while denying
that his sport has anything to do with from a league that markets a racial
slur, from a league that takes billions of dollars in corporate welfare
while cities crumble. I mean, we are in a moral sewer if we`re looking to
the NFL for moral advice.
HARRIS-PERRY: But, Dave, they wear pink in October.
I mean, come on. But it did feel a little bit like that, Jemele. I mean,
so the "Atlantic" did a piece reporting out of a South Carolina newspaper
in which they reported that all 46 counties in South Carolina have at least
one animal shelter to care for stray dogs. This is from "Charleston Post
Courier." But the state only has 18 domestic violence shelters to help
women trying to escape abuse. Now, the dog/women thing is troubling, but
it is potentially evidence that we don`t take the issue significantly
seriously and so maybe the NFL with all of its power and glory and the fact
that we`re all going to start watching it every week, maybe they could have
some good impact, maybe they`re not moral sewer rats.
JEMELE HILL, ESPN`S CO-HOST, "NUMBERS NEVER LIE": Well, I wouldn`t quite,
I do agree with Dave, we shouldn`t look at any sports league whether it`s
NFL, Major League Baseball whatever sport you want to put in there as being
our moral compass. However, and I hate the -- for the establishment
HARRIS-PERRY: Yes, do it.
HILL: However, what would you have the commissioner do? He got publicly
shamed into taking action and while much like any other person, I would
have preferred him get this right away. He clearly didn`t. He was very
tone deaf and very arrogant because at the hall of fame the speech or the
response that he gave to the two-game punishment for Ray Rice was awful.
But it was very clear from this letter that the commissioner began to
educate himself about domestic violence, just with the verbiage he used,
which was a whole lot different from what his previous rhetoric had been
and Dave and Don, you guys know this as well as I do, when was the last
time Roger Goodell publicly admitted he was wrong on anything.
HILL: How about this was the first time.
HARRIS-PERRY: OK. All right. But you asked the question that was a bit
of a rhetorical question. But let me level is as a real question. What
would we prefer David Goodell, excuse me, Commissioner Goodell to do in
DON MCPHERSON, FORMER NFL PLAYER: I think he`s doing what we prefer he
would do. And that`s why it seems like a response to the outcry after Ray
Rice, he has been having these conversations with folks in the domestic
violence community for a number of years. I remember the number of years
ago. So, if you read the letter, there are a number of steps he`s taking
and it`s not just a lifetime banishment for the second offense that
everyone so focused on, but that`s what the public wants. We want this,
especially in the world of masculinity that you talked about which is the
NFL, the men`s response to violence is more violence. Right? So, you do
bad, we`re going to do worse to you.
HARRIS-PERRY: That`s right. That`s right.
MCPHERSON: We`re going to take away. And so, that brings a bunch of whole
host of other problems. But if you look at the whole piece. He is talking
about confidential counseling, he`s talking about a pr issue which I think
the NFL doesn`t have a domestic violence problem. Football has a domestic
violence problem. Sports in general has attached masculinity problem. And
so, that needs to be addressed, the whole story needs to be addressed. So,
it can`t just be the NFL crying the story about domestic violence because
the NFL is benefiting from all the other sports around masculinity that
say, I win you loss, that`s sort of the conversation on masculinity around
sports is at the core of this behavior.
HARRIS-PERRY: So, it does something really useful there, I want us to
pause for a second. I just don`t want to miss it. Because the statistics
do demonstrate that there is a higher rate of domestic violence arrests
among NFL players than there are among similarly situated young men. So,
domestic violence is sort of substantially higher.
MCPHERSON: Have access to.
HARRIS-PERRY: Right. And that`s arrests, right? That`s in part because
we`re looking vis-a-vis wealthy people because the poverty rate in the NFL
at least for active players is zero. So, that changes a little bit if we
change those circumstances. So, there`s a part of me that looks at that
and says, OK, well, yes, you have to do something, but as a matter of pure
labor law. Like, I am deeply concerned with the idea of employers acting
HARRIS-PERRY: And so on the one hand I look at that and I think something
must happen but then I worry about, how does creating an economic
disincentive for telling improve our circumstance?
WARREN: You just hit the nail on the head. So, this creates an incentive,
this new rule for survivors of domestic violence to not come forward.
Because if you know that your partner or husband or spouse is going to
become economically penalized because of his behavior towards you, that is
going to give you a second doubt about coming forward. So, actually the
policy might look strong on the surface. There is a disincentive for women
to come forward who are subjected to this. And by the way, to your point,
we also know, so, football Sunday is also the day when incidents of
domestic violence across the country go up. So, it`s not just about the
players. It`s about what is the impact of the sport on any given Sunday on
women every week.
HARRIS-PERRY: That`s right. And apparently it is specifically related to,
I was looking on some social science on upset wins.
HARRIS-PERRY: So, if you are the fan of the team that was meant to have
won, the likelihood in that community in that town of domestic violence
going up when there is an upset win increases. But I think this point,
we`ll talk about it as soon as we get back. Is the question of the
incentives it creates about whether or not survivors are likely to actually
HARRIS-PERRY: So, stay right there because when we come back, the part of
commissioner`s statement that made me wonder whether or not he understands
the problems at all.
HARRIS-PERRY: I have a conclusion to Thursday`s statement by NFL
Commissioner Roger Goodell is what seems like a fairly innocuous sort of
boiler plate language quoting from his memo to all league personnel.
Quote, "If you believe that you or someone you know may be at risk of
domestic violence or other misconduct we strongly encourage you to seek
assistance through your club`s director of player engagement, Human
Resources Department, the NFL lifeline or an independent local domestic
violence resource. Helps is available and can prevent potentially tragic
incidents." If you`re the victim of violence and call the NFL, I am still
left wondering if the commissioner gets it.
ZIRIN: Yes, and there is still this aspect to it which is very disturbing
about Roger Goodell acting like Commissioner Kipling. Like this idea that
he is somehow this great corporate white father overseeing a league that 70
percent African-American in marketing to of course a country, a majority
white country that loves this sport. I mean, the NFL is like the tent pole
that is holding up broadcast television right now and he`s responding to a
demand by fans to show that he has control over these barely contained
barbarians who are on the field giving people their three hours of
carefully commodified violence every Sunday. And I think when you project
that dynamic culturally, it has a role in projecting I think a very racist
archetype of black masculinity.
HARRIS-PERRY: All right. So, for me, as I`m looking at this, I`m
thinking, all right, what is the language then that you put at the end of
that? And my first thought is, all right, you tell people, don`t call the
NFL if you think you have been victimized by violence. Do what you should
do, you call police. But of course, we have been spending a lot of time
talking about the problems of calling the police. I want to take us all
the way back to another moment in which someone who was being victimized at
that time by a former NFL player calls the police. I just want to listen
for a moment.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP OCTOBER 25, 1993)
NICOLE SIMPSON, EX-WIFE OF OJ SIMPSON (MAY, 1959 - JUNE, 1994): Can you
get someone over here no now. He`s back. Please.
DISPATCHER: OK, what does he look like?
SIMPSON: He`s O.J. Simpson, I think you know his record. Can you just
send somebody over here?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: That moment in which he says, look, he`s O.J. Simpson.
You`re going to know what he looks like and you know his record. And I
want to remind folks that Ray Rice and his now wife went and met with the
NFL after this event before the two-game suspension and has been
criticized. There was an article criticizing that moment of their meeting
in part because if I`m sitting with your employer, what am I going to say?
HARRIS-PERRY: What am I going to say in that moment?
HILL: That`s when you can tell he really didn`t get it. Nor did the
Baltimore Ravens when they had that press conference. Who could ever
imagine the optics of having someone who has committed a violent act
against a woman having a press conference with the woman next to him and
her trying to explain her role in this?
HARRIS-PERRY: Everything about that.
HILL: Everything about that was sickening. And for Roger Goodell to even
admit his post-punishment that part of the reason why he decided or came to
the conclusion it was a two-game suspension was because her sort of
pleading with Roger Goodell not to take away her husband`s livelihood.
With all due respect to Ms. Palmer or Ms. Rice now, your input is
completely irrelevant because that`s not what this is about. So, for him
to do, to go from that to this letter, that`s a sharp 180 and I know you
mentioned that you had talked to Roger Goodell before and that he had met
with advocates against domestic violence. I can`t believe it based on how
that went down.
HARRIS-PERRY: Yes. I mean, the way that went down for me felt like, and I
think this goes back to your point, Dave. That what I guess, I`m still
pondering your question. What I want him to say is, this domestic violence
question that is facing the NFL begins long before these young men become
NFL players and it has everything to do with masculinity, medication and
head injuries and as a result of masculinity, medication and head injuries
this is part, and what we expect from the violence on this field. So, is
there a way to have football, to have the football that I love and not have
it take it take its toll on the bodies of women?
MCPHERSON: You know, I talk to coaches all the time about these issues and
not NFL coaches but college, high school coaches and the title of you throw
like a girl. I think you heard me say this before. Right?
MCPHERSON: Because that`s the language we hear in sports. And I actually
had someone say, well, if your son threw like a girl, would you do
something about it? I am not going to make my son better by degrading my
daughter. And we in sports and sports establishment that uses this kind of
violent masculinity and this language of violent around the masculinity and
as I said earlier, we have to address that issue in sports. We can make
our sons better football players and safe football players and we can do it
without being at the expense of our daughters. And that`s the challenge
that is incumbent upon us in the sports establishment to turn this corner
and address the language, address those fundamental things I learned at a
very early age that find themselves in the NFL.
ZIRIN: Football left to its own devices cannot exist independently of
violence against women. It takes the active intervention of authority
figures, of people who are in this world that validates violence and
validates a certain kind of masculinity and speaks to them openly about
violence against women. Without that, alone, it`s like a stream going in
the direction that has a very tragic --
HARRIS-PERRY: We talked a lot about the gender piece. I don`t want to
miss the race piece which you gave us a little of. Because part of what I
also see for Mrs. Rice both in that moment, kind of a domestic violence
survivor but also we know that African-American women in particular as
sexual assault survivors and domestic violence survivors are less likely to
call the police, less likely to call anyone because we recognize how
difficult circumstances are for the men in our community and we don`t want
to be part of criminalizing these men in our community.
WARREN: That`s right.
HARRIS-PERRY: We will literally take it rather than tell.
WARREN: And that`s why -- you`re bringing in the context here. What is
the context? Why is there a greater mistrust among Black Americans with
the police? So, why would a black person and especially a black woman be
less likely to want to call the police in a situation of domestic violence?
That`s one context here. The other is, and I think Dave points this out.
This is a league that is marketing itself to women.
WARREN: So, it still seems as a pr problem, not as a domestic violence
problem. And as long as it only sees it as a pr problem, there is not
going to be much that actually changes in terms of the behavior of not just
players, but all men in regards to women.
HARRIS-PERRY: Stick with us. I do want to bring in one more major issue
and it`s an issue we`ve talked also about here on the show, and that is the
way in which head injuries may be part of this larger story.
HARRIS-PERRY: I want to read to you just another part of Dave Zirin`s
piece in The Nation criticizing the NFL`s new domestic violence penalties.
"But perhaps most glaringly, the plan is missing any conversation about
what role the combat of the game itself and the ill effects of head
injuries may play in bringing the violence home. Why is it missing this?
Because, once again, that might make people actually stop watching the
sport. And that`s not the purpose this plan is supposed to serve. Goodell
slogan might as well be hate the player, don`t hate the game."
So, I also don`t want to stop watching, Dave. I seriously love this sport.
I`m beginning to be convinced that maybe some way to intervene, but I do
think we`re going to have to talk about head injuries here. I think about
Jovan Belcher and, you know, becoming both a murder and then committing
suicide. Like that suggests at least the possibility of something else
going on beyond cultural.
ZIRIN: Andrew Perkins, the mother of his child, the way I think that
people can understand the NFL best as it operates as a business is the fact
that they`re going to be penalizing players for using ethnic slurs on the
field this year while defending the name of The Washington football team
side by side. So, it is a sport that when it needs to do something, it
goes after the players, but it will not look at itself institutionally.
Anything that threatens its bottom line. To me the issue of violence
against women football players is intrinsically tied to we know happens to
player when they get off the field and the result of head injuries. The
inability to have patience, the inability to calm down, the inability to
listen. I mean, these are all things that are associated with head trauma.
So, why can we not also draw connective tissue between that and violence
against loved ones?
HARRIS-PERRY: That feels to me, even the economics of what you said there.
If you use a racial slur, then the players get, but Dan Snyder doesn`t, to
me, that is part of why I`m so uncomfortable with this new six-game
suspension. When we look at the problems of domestic violence and
employment, that`s the problem of survivors, it is the problem that
domestic violence survivors up to move their employment because they`re
being stopped or because they have medical injuries or because they have
legal, you know, time off for law and none of these penalties seem to in
any way address that. They don`t seem to make the world any easier or
better for the women who may be victimized by these --
HILL: Well, it`s unfortunate because it`s a league. And you know, I love
football just as much as anybody and it`s a league that`s constantly at war
with itself because some of the things that we love about the game are not
really at odds. They`re really at odds for any kind of normal happily
functioning lifestyle. Of course, I love to see big hits and I love the
combat element and the gladiator element that the NFL provides, but it
comes at a cost. A huge cost. A huge human cost. And so, as a fan,
you`re constantly finding yourself as you watch the game making these moral
Understanding that as you brought up that the language of football is very
anti-women. The language of sport in general is very anti-woman. It`s not
like football, let`s not forget Mike Rice at Rutgers, OK, some of the
language that he was using anti-gay, anti-woman. That is sort of the
background that athletes are being raised in. So, how then can we be
comfortable watching a dynamic where you see the Washington football team
come out there and you know what that name stands for and then you also
know that this is one of the story franchises in the league. The players
themselves, they don`t even know how to respond to that. They won`t take a
stand either. So, it`s very complicated.
HARRIS-PERRY: So, essentially, as you sort of help me to remember that
these are 22, 23-year-old kids who are playing this game. And I`m
thinking, Don, this is a Pollyanna story, oh, now we will have sensitivity
training about women and how to treat them and I`m thinking, wait a minute,
I went to an ACC School. I know that one of the conversations is going to
emerge is, man, they just gave, you know, these women maybe a less nice
phrase, a way to blackmail us. You know, like, in other words, the ways
they actually heightened hostility towards women by creating an economic
disincentive and basically suggesting now your intimate partner has the
ability to impact your earning potential.
MCPHERSON: Yes. You know, the NFL is such an anomaly in our culture. And
even when you talk about the labor law, even when you talk about what it
means and the draft is illegal by labor law. So, there`s a total
negotiation that has occurred between the players and the league and
through our culture, our society in the league. What was Sunday? We claim
to be the Judeo Christian society, Sunday is no longer about church.
Sunday is about football. Right?
HARRIS-PERRY: And it`s about MHP Show.
MCPHERSON: Noon, 1:00, you know, it`s all what it is about. And so, we
have to look at, we have to really take the NFL and kind of put it into its
own little box and see how it`s trying to govern itself. But we still have
to look at this larger issue. When you talk about now mandatory arrest law
in domestic violence cases. Right? That`s 20 years old because we know
that women are not going to call because they don`t want their man taken
away. This is not just an NFL issue that we`re seeing now. Because this
is very high profile. Even a head issue problem, I don`t see this as part
Because when I look at what happened to Gilbor Belcher (ph) in New York,
when they`re finding body parts of women, we won`t saying that the
perpetrator has head injuries. When we look at the -- of domestic
violence, when you look at the restraining orders in this county alone,
it`s not because you have NFL guys who live in Manhattan who have head
injuries. Right? So, this is a big, social issue that we`re trying to
pick apart and it is a very small microcosm about society, and it`s because
we are fans of these guys. We don`t care that Ray Rice is an abuser.
MCPHERSON: We cheer for Ray Rice and we want him to entertain us on Sunday
HARRIS-PERRY: In fact, we prefer that he`s an abuser of other men on the
field in that moment.
HARRIS-PERRY: Right, so we may not necessarily be cheering his abuse of
his fiancee and then wife but we do cheer his physicality of abuse of other
men. Stay with us because I want to take this masculinity question a
little bit further. Because up next, question Michael Sam`s bid to make
NFL history fell a bit short at least for now. We`re going to look at what
that means for him and for the league.
HARRIS-PERRY: Michael Sam will not be the first openly gay NFL player on
an opening day active roster. At least not yet. In May, the University of
Missouri graduate became the first openly gay player ever drafted into the
NFL. St. Louis Rams selected him in the seventh round, he was cut Saturday
when the Rams and all of the other teams were required to get their rosters
down to 53 players. If it clears, the Rams can put him on their ten-man
practice squad. We won`t be in uniform on Sundays. Rams Head Coach Jeff
Fisher spoke shortly after the announcement was made.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JEFF FISHER, HEAD COACH, ST. LOUIS RAMS: It was a football decision and
the decision is no different than any other decision that we make. It`s a
football decision. It was a football decision back in May to draft Mike
and, once again, I mean, it`s been all about football.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: Is this all about football, Dave?
ZIRIN: In this case, I guess. I mean, the St. Louis Rams have the best
defensive line in the NFL. That`s why I was bummed out when they drafted
him. Also bummed out because he had a terrific pre-season and you know,
what, a bigot have just been way too happy this summer. And after he was
cut, it was like homephobia Christmas on twitter.
And I don`t think that people, I don`t get why sports fans aren`t willing
to confront, frankly, that there are gay people in every walk of life in
our society. The NFL is not this her medically heterosexual space and it
never has been and they definitely don`t want to reckon, we`re talking
about in the break which is how homoerotic contact sports are in our
society. They don`t want to talk about that. I once interviewed this MMA
guy, quick story, and I said to him, did you ever think about just how just
homoerotic this word is? And he said to me, we have an expression in Mixed
Martial Arts. It`s only gay if you make eye contact.
I think about that. And it`s like, you can be as violent as you want to be
but if there`s any effort of intimacy within that, it`s tabu, not the
violence but the intimacy.
HARRIS-PERRY: But the intimacy, any kind of compassion. So, it`s
interesting because that discomfort that you just suggested. We saw it
show up a little bit in some ESPN coverage of, I`m going to look over at
I`m going to let you sit over there and drink out of your MHP cup for a
moment. But we did see some angst about this. I want to play a Cyd
Zeiglar video about the angst that came up in that ESPN coverage about
whether or not Sam was taking showers with the rest of the team.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CYD ZEIGLER, SB NATIONS, OUTSPORTS.COM: Forgive me if there is a bit of an
echo in this, but I`m naked in my shower, you know, as a gay man I have to
shower by myself in my own shower because God forbid I might shower with
straight guys. There would be some kind of issue there. You`re seeing the
Rams don`t care. Michael Sam doesn`t care. I don`t care. Nobody cares
and it`s pretty sad that you care that a gay man might be naked in a locker
room with a bunch of straight guys.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WARREN: I mean for every -- there`s so much to say it.
WARREN: But you know, for every time any man straight or gay goes to the
gym and takes a shower, do they think there are no -- for straight man, do
they think there are no gay men at the gym that are in the shower with
them? Right. So, it`s the most ridiculous thing that has come, I think,
in college and professional sports in a long time. People, there have
always been gay men in sports, we`ve always known this. And so, when you,
on the one hand sanction (INAUDIBLE) on the field when we see football
players slap each other on the butt but then an intimate space of showers,
supposedly it`s a problem. The contradiction is ridiculous.
HARRIS-PERRY: Well, you know, I guess for me, also, we`re using the
language of homoerotic but, you know, we just, we`re cable news show, so
who knows exactly what we`re saying when we say that. Right? But part of
it is, we`re talking about a male-identified sport.
HARRIS-PERRY: In which, as we`ve been talking about, masculinity maleness
is considered more valuable than femaleness to throw like a girl, you know,
to be associated with girlness or womenness is to be soft. And so,
therefore, not as good a player. And so, there is a single sex valuation
of maleness that just is inculcated into this and so you do wonder then,
sort of why we still have such difficulty in media or in sport imaging, you
know, the possibility that we`re engaged across sexual orientation.
MCPHERSON: Because we`ve never had to talk about it. And what Michael Sam
has done. And he has forced a homophobic people to talk about gayness in
context and an environment that we`ve never had to talk about it. I
thought about Jimmy the Greek going back to his comments and how it goes
out, one of the Washington players a little monkey. Well, look at that
monkey go. What, you called the black man a monkey. He looked like this
little guy running. Right?
And so, white people had to learn to talk about black people in these
public spaces in the `70s when they tried to along took a more prominent
place. Talked about the long muscles and, so, they had to get comfortable
with the right language, that sounds right and goes it right down to your
base, fears and your racism or in this case your homophobia. And now,
they`re making together.
MCPHERSON: Right? And all of a sudden, now is the danger. Right?
MCPHERSON: Where this man is going to unleash his gayness on the straight
man in the shower. So that`s why the comments because they`re
uncomfortable with that most base understanding of their homophobia.
HARRIS-PERRY: That`s the power of sports, too, I`m sorry.
HILL: No, no, it is. But I would say from this standpoint, this is where
we should take a page, much like with most of society from women. Have you
ever heard any WNBA player, any women`s college player complain.
HARRIS-PERRY: A panicked about --
HILL: A panicked about what happens in the locker room and what might
occur in the shower? And I think in general for men, this is where I do
feel sorry for how you all have been conditioned. It is this that, this
idea that you can`t talk about something being intimate. You have to hide
all your real feelings and do all these things to sort of mask and over-
masculate yourselves and women, we just have not been conditioned that way.
Hence why we can handle Brittney Griner about to marry her partner and we
can handle all these other issues and that never comes up. And
HARRIS-PERRY: There`s not a threat that someone who is a same-sex loving
woman in the shower with you is somehow threatening to your womanhood.
HILL: And men have been conditioned. Our society conditions in to be
predators. And so, when you have a gay man in a situation where he`s in a
locker room, a lot of straight men are thinking, oh, well, he thinks like a
predator just like I do, so he must be looking at me that way.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Right.
HILL: So, it forces them to kind of look at how they also have been
MCPHERSON: This is during now, our understanding of masculinity that has
not expanded and not grown in any way. If you look at women and moving
into sports and politics and media and all the places that women, women
have expanded the definition of --
MCPHERSON: And see broader human beings.
HILL: We don`t consider Brittney Griner unless --
ZIRIN: People should read the work of Jemele`s colleague espnW Kate Fagan
who has written about the different ways in which homophobia operates in
women`s sports, which is just certainly different, but it is prevalent,
it`s frankly, it`s much more open and discussed than in men`s sports. But
that also means it can be challenged more easily because it`s right there
on the table.
HARRIS-PERRY: As we were discussing the NFL`s new domestic violence
penalties, reports of a new arrest emerged. An NBC Bay Area reporter is
reporting police have arrested Ray McDonald of the San Francisco 49ers
charging him with domestic violence. We`ll see how this unfolds and have
the NFL handles the first incident since the new penalties were announced.
Up next, a lesson in betting against the underdog and later the game
changing ruling that affects college athlete conversation.
HARRIS-PERRY: Professional football is not the only gridiron action with
high stakes. A furniture store is doling out a million dollars after bet
against a college football team as part of a sales promotion. And Ashley
Furniture Store in college station, Texas, offered to reimburse all
purchases made over a 12-day span, if Texas A&M won their season opener by
ten or more points. You see, the aggies were underdogs, the University of
South Carolina gamecocks were favored to win by 10.5 points. That is not
Much to the chagrin of nerdland senior producer and South Carolina native
Shana Till. Instead of the game cock, it was the aggies that won and now
the furniture store must pay up. The store says, more than 600 customers
bought furniture in that promotional window, running up a bill of more than
$1 million. But don`t worry too much about the company`s bottom-line, the
store did have insurance for the promotion. So, these happy fans are
getting paid. But what about the college athletes?
Up next, the landmark ruling that is a game changer for student athletes.
HARRIS-PERRY: Earlier this month, a ruling in a landmark case struck down
the NCAA`s long health claim that amateurism in college sports that is the
notion that players are students first and athletes second justified its
rules preventing players from getting their share of the multi-billion
dollar college sports industry. Which means that for the first time,
college athletes will be able to enjoy the financial fruits of their
labors. Following a three-week trial, U.S. District Judge Claudia Wilken
sided with the plaintiff, former UCLA basketball star Ed O`Bannon.
And issued an injunction that lists the NCAA`s ban on payments to players
for the commercial use of their names, images and likenesses. In a 99-page
decision, Judge Wilken wrote, "The court finds that the challenged NCAA
rules unreasonably restrain trade in the market for certain educational and
athletic opportunities offered by NCAA Division I schools. The pro-
competitive justification of the NCAA offers do not justify this restraint
and could be achieved through less restrictive means."
Judge Wilken did allow the NCAA one small victory amid the big loss but an
alternative to satisfy the less restrictive means. The injunction allows
the NCAA to cap license and payments to players at no less than $5,000 per
year and defer payment until the players graduate or leave school. How big
is the O`Bannon ruling for college sports?
HILL: I think it`s big, however, people have to understand that, you know,
as big as it is, I`m not sure if this is the one thing that will topple
Rome, it`s a part of it.
HARRIS-PERRY: Rome being the NCAA.
HILL: Rome being the NCAA. Part of the NCAA`s problem is that it`s one
thing to be greedy, but they took it to another level. And because they
weren`t even willing to compromise on small things such as this. Like if
you have a Tim Tebow who is making millions and millions of dollars and
you`re marketing a video game with the eye black with his biblical
scriptures underneath, we all know that`s Tim Tebow. He knows that it`s
him. But they didn`t want to share anything. And so now they`ve been put
in this place where all of a sudden their greed is going to be -- it`s
going to completely change the face of college athletics.
No, you shouldn`t be making players sign away their likeness as part of
their scholarship. That`s ridiculous. So, this is just one. There`s
another ruling that I think will be far more important. Had they just gone
to an Olympic model, let them make what they`re going to make on their
name, they wouldn`t be in this position now.
MCPHERSON: There was a more significant decision that was made just 24
hours prior to the Judge Wilken`s decision, and that bought by the NCAA
board of governors to allow the power five conferences -- the top five
biggest conferences to govern themselves. That`s way more significant than
this court`s decision --
MCPHERSON: Because we`re not talking about the Quinnipiacs of the world
who are part of this business of college sports that at the heart of the
name and image and likeness. So, the Tim Tebows of the anomalies, and you
know, the thousands of guys who play college football. But it`s the
decision for the power five conferences to start governing themselves, and
people need to understand the NCAA makes 90 percent of its revenue from the
basketball side of the shop.
HARRIS-PERRY: Yes. Yes.
MCPHERSON: The conferences in football that`s really driving this whole
conversation because that`s where money is being made. And those power
five conferences now can govern themselves which it means far more than
just a stipend. There`s a lot of things that go into what those power five
Congress including letting more student athletes on campus who can`t
survive the academic rigors in most of those campuses. And so, there`s a
whole bigot structure what college sports is going to look line at the
power five level.
ZIRIN: They give away the game by cutting this deal at the power five
conferences. The NCAA, without saying so, has surrendered the argument.
Because if a player can make $5,000, why not $10,000? Why not $15,000?
Who decides that it`s $5,000 and for what reason? And when the smoke
clears, that you really see is that this is about men`s basketball and
men`s football and it`s about truly the organized theft of young black
wealth by an organization called the NCAA. And that is something that`s
going to change in the next generation.
HARRIS-PERRY: So, fast forward, two things I want to try to understand,
especially for someone who just returned to their ACC School. So, if it`s
about men`s basketball and football, men`s basketball and football, at what
point then is there a Title 9 consideration about -- at a minimum, women`s
basketball and potentially other sports?
ZIRIN: Well, I mean, legal experts look at this and say that this operates
independently of Title 9 because Title 9 is about equal access.
HARRIS-PERRY: Uhm, right.
ZIRIN: And it`s not your ability to then market yourself as if the NCAA
has created almost like a constitution-free zone where you don`t have the
right to your image or your signature. It should not be something that
people have big debates about this but this should not be something that
affects Title 9 at all.
HARRIS-PERRY: OK. And the second question. So, does this mean that the
thing that we think of as college sports, guys who get recruited,
particularly guys who get recruited, who play on these teams, who go to
school, who end up with a degree at the end, that`s over. That now we`re
going to have semiprofessional leagues that are attached to the
universities or not attached to the universities?
HILL: That`s a part I think I worry about. Because the one thing that has
allowed college sports to thrive is a bit of emotional manipulation. Yes.
I went to Michigan State. Your school and your school and your school. I
very feel strongly and passionate about my university. Those were the best
times of my life. For most people, that`s what it was. And the thing that
draws you to the game is the illusion that they`re doing this for the same
reason you love your school.
And so, if you take that illusion away, what is it that separates the
college player from the NFL player or college football from the NFL or
college basketball from the NBA? There will be no more separation. And
not to mention, it`s for the NFL bit a free feeder system. So if that`s
the case, then why do we even have the rule that you have to wait three
years from when the time you graduate from high school to get to the NFL?
That needs to be nonexistent, too because they`re both basically
WARREN: I think Ed O`Bannon said it himself the best. I was an athlete
masquerading as a student. And that reality is what we`re coming to grips
with now. And this is one of several cracks in the $16 billion a year NCAA
industry. So, when you have this ruling along with players at northwestern
football players voting to unionize, it raises the question that
fundamental question, are these students, are these employees, are they
entitled to capture some of the value they create as part of their labor --
HARRIS-PERRY: So, they could be employees and also students, right?
HARRIS-PERRY: So, you could imagine what they -- that they`re actually
titled as employees, paid by the university or paid at some sort of profit
sharing or, you know, benefiting from the likenesses, but that there is --
as there is at some places -- employee remission of tuition so that if you
work at this university, you can also attend this university for some lower
MCPHERSON: Can I just play like devil`s advocate here for a second? Part
of this whole conversation is been that business people, and people want --
who want to look at this from a business aspect or legal aspect, have
flipped the conversation and forced the NCAA to get into this pay or don`t
play, a legitimized of the enterprise. The enterprise is education. And
by all this entire argument, we`ve already said that we don`t care if these
young men get educated.
MCPHERSON: And the reality is my scholarship at Syracuse, in today`s
dollars, is $300,000. My parents can`t afford that. My scholarship at
Syracuse University is $300,000 and I came out of it debt-free. When you
talk about student loan debt, that`s the next crisis in our economy, these
kids aren`t being exploited. They are receiving an opportunity and we
forgot that opportunity because an education is worth more than an NFL
contract any day.
HARRIS-PERRY: I want to say, the two of you all fight that out --
And I`m rooting for the New Orleans Saints and in football and for every
demon deacon thing that I`ve heard on the planet.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: You`re screaming demon.
HARRIS-PERRY: I am a screaming demon, at the core of my school.
I want to thank my guests. Dorian Warren and Dave Zirin. Also, Jemele
Hill and Don McPherson. Before I go, I also want to acknowledge that
Friday marked nine years since the catastrophic levee failure in the
aftermath of Hurricane Katrina that ravaged New Orleans. More than 1800
people across the Gulf Coast died. More than 80 percent of the city`s
homes were damaged and whole communities were displaced. For days,
Americans watched in shock and sadness as floodwaters swamped this iconic
city and thousands of residents were left trapped in their homes, on the
roof or superdome and convention center without running water or power.
Nine years later, New Orleans is a city still struggling but on the mend.
The issues raised by Katrina raised the quality disaster preparedness are
still part of the national conversation. Nine years later we know the
determination and resilience of New Orleanians have made significant
recovery possible but the struggle continues and we still love our Saints.
And that`s our show for today. Thanks to you at home for watching. I`ll
see you next Saturday at 10 a.m. Eastern. Coming up "WEEKENDS WITH ALEX
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY
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