'The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell' for Thursday September 4th, 2014
Read the transcript to the Thursday show
THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL
September 4, 2014
Guest: Michael Boyle, J.M. Berger, Paul Butler, Tim Telman; Mitchell
LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: While the same people who urged us
into the mistaken war in Iraq continue to urge us to return to that war and
expand it, President Obama met with NATO leaders today to try to agree on a
strategy for dealing with the Islamic State.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We`ve got to look before we leap.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: President Obama is now at the NATO summit in
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Maybe one of the most consequential meetings of
the allies in decades.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He seeks to build a coalition to fight ISIS.
DAVID CAMERON, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: We meet at a crucial time in
the history of our alliance.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He and the British Prime Minister David Cameron
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Posting a joint op-ed in "The Times of London".
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Saying we will not be cowed by barbaric killers.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Make no mistake about the resolve of this
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you`re actually serious about taking ISIS to
the gates of hell, you`re going to have to go to Syria.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: These are evil barbarians that they can`t be
CAMERON: We`re going to have to squeeze it out of existence.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The international community has an obligation.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The European public is dead-set against NATO doing
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The West post-Iraq is very wary.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The ISIL threat is a regional threat.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Regional partners will be critical.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We need the Sunni Arab countries there to step up.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Not only a military strategy, but a diplomatic
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Put in place inside Syria and inside Iraq,
political systems that work.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It`s going to take time.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let`s not get just caught up on ISIS.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They have to deal with more than one thing.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The al Qaeda threat to the United States is as
direct and is as real as ISIS.
CAMERON: The world faces many dangerous and evolving threats.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The pressure to act is only increasing.
O`DONNELL: With the Washington drumbeat for a new war in Iraq and
Syria growing by the day, anti-war protesters marched outside the NATO
summit today in Newport, Wales, where President Obama, British Prime
Minister David Cameron and other NATO leaders tried to come up with a
strategy for what Cameron called squeezing the Islamic State out of
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CAMERON: We need to show real resolve and determination. We need to
use every power and everything we have in our armory, with our allies, with
those on the ground, to make sure we absolutely do all we can to squeeze
this dreadful organization out of existence.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: U.S. military forces conducted airstrikes against the
Islamic State today near the Mosul dam in Iraq.
Also today, the U.S. Central Command released video of past airstrikes
that helped break the Islamic state siege in a town about 100 miles north
of Baghdad. The airstrikes were conducted in coordination with ground
operations by local militias and Kurdish fighters.
The Pentagon said the strikes were conducted under authority to
protect U.S. personnel and facilities, support humanitarian efforts and
support Iraqi forces.
The Iraqi military declared the town liberated on Sunday. The U.S.
has conducted a total of 127 airstrikes across Iraq since August 8th.
Joining me now, Michael Boyle, associate professor at La Salle
University, who recently wrote about the U.S. response for "The New York
Times". E.J. Dionne, columnist for "The Washington Post" and MSNBC
contributor, and J.M. Berger, a contributor to "Foreign Policy" who studies
extremism and recently wrote about the relationship between al Qaeda and
the Islamic State.
E.J. Dionne, what should be the discredited voices who supported the
war in Iraq are now finding every microphone they can in Washington to urge
us into not just another Iraq war, but an expanded version that would
E.J. DIONNE, THE WASHINGTON POST: Well, I think what you`re seeing is
-- I see the debate just a little differently. I see some of those
discredited voices saying why didn`t President Obama get in there yesterday
or the day before? Why isn`t he doing more?
And I think you said it last night, they have taken the word
"dithering" when they are really saying, well, gee, Obama is thinking too
much about this.
I think what you`re seeing from Obama and a lot of other people is a
view that, look, ISIS is dangerous. It`s dangerous to the Middle East. As
one of our guests wrote in his piece, there are a lot of English speakers
there. It`s one reason why David Cameron is so worried. They may have a
base in Britain.
And the question is, how do you go about, you know, going after them?
And what President Obama is trying to do is not unlike what the first
President Bush did. He does not -- he doesn`t want to send American
troops. He`s willing to use air power, but he wants Sunni Muslim allies
fighting along with Shiites in Iraq to push them back.
So, he`s not trying to launch a big American ground war there. And I
think that makes this quite different from the Iraq war.
But I do think that you`re right to ask questions about rushing to
war. I for one would like to see Congress take this up as opposed to just
ducking the question until after the elections.
O`DONNELL: Let`s listen to what John McCain said about this on FOX
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS: ISIS, what are we going to do about
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: Kill them. They`ve got to be
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: I would also like to listen to what the foreign policy
expert on "Duck Dynasty" said about this same issue. Let`s listen to that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PHIL ROBERTSON, THE DUCK DYNASTY: You either have to convert them,
which I think is -- would be next to impossible. I`m not giving up on
them, I`m just saying either convert them or kill them. One or the other.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: J.M. Berger, I didn`t really hear a difference between
John McCain and the "Duck Dynasty" guy.
J.M. BERGER, FOREIGN POLICY CONTRIBUTOR: Well, I`m not going to
debate the "Duck Dynasty" guy. I think that`s probably not a productive
But I will say that -- you know, I live inside this kind of bubble,
the kind of terrorism community, where we talk about this stuff and we`re
exposed to this stuff every day. When I step outside that bubble and I`ve
been talking to people who don`t do this every day, I am hearing a lot of
anger and frustration I haven`t heard over the last several years.
O`DONNELL: Michael Boyle, do we have the capacity to eliminate the
Islamic State? Because that`s what David Cameron says we`re going to do.
It seems what Joe Biden is saying we are determined to do, that we can
actually make -- John McCain, too -- we can just kill every one of them.
MICHAEL BOYLE, LA SALLE UNIVERSITY: I think we have the capacity if
we were willing to invest a substantial military operation, ground troops
and a multiyear commitment. My concern is I don`t think that they`re
gauging the kind of assets that they`re willing to deploy to this mission
to what they`re actually saying in terms of their goals. You know, we
cannot hold territory with airstrikes. We need locals to be able to hold
So, one problem that we have is the administration keeps saying we`re
going to destroy ISIS. We`re going to destroy ISIS. Well, that`s fine,
but you can`t hold territory without ground forces or without having local
allies and whole ground forces, and they haven`t articulated a strategy for
what they`re going to do in order to be able to reclaim that territory.
So, I think this is a case where the rhetoric is outrunning the policy.
O`DONNELL: E.J. Dionne, there is the option that America never
chooses in these situations, which is to do nothing.
DIONNE: That is an option.
Just in terms of a point Michael Boyle made. I think there is an
inconsistency in the rhetoric we`ve been using, because there are times and
you heard from President Obama today, where we`re using language like
"crush them", "go to the gates of hell", Joe Biden`s terms. And then,
yesterday, at the same time, President Obama said we want to reduce this to
a manageable problem.
Well, that`s a very different kind of rhetoric. I do think there are
times in the past where we have avoided war. It struck me that with all
this talk about, gee, there`s all this disorder on President Obama`s watch
-- well, there`s a big war between Iraq and Iran on President Reagan`s
watch and we didn`t feel an obligation to get involved in that.
After our marines were blown up in Beirut, I don`t think they should
have been there in the first place, President Reagan pulled out the rest of
the marines and we didn`t choose to engage there.
So, sometimes, we choose not to engage. Eisenhower decided not to
fight the French war in Vietnam and that was good decision.
So, I think in this case, I think because we are engaged in this
effort to contain terrorism, whether it`s al Qaeda or now ISIS, Obama sees
that as part of the same mission. It doesn`t mean, as I say, that we`re
going to send American troops there, because I just do not think there is
the support in the United States or a desire on the part of the
administration to send American troops back into Iraq in numbers a whole
lot beyond where they`ve already sent a certain number of advisers and
people to protect we`re going to send American troops there, because I do
not think there is the support in the United States or a desire on the part
of the administration to send American troops back into Iraq in numbers a
whole lot beyond where they`ve already sent a certain number of advisers
and people to protect the embassy.
O`DONNELL: J.M. Berger, if we aren`t going to send American troops
and the idea that they`re hatching in NATO is to kill everyone we can
possibly kill in the Islamic State, how many people is that? How many
people are involved in this movement called the Islamic State and related
BERGER: Well, the Islamic State itself has fighters numbering in the
low tens of thousands is the best estimate I`ve seen. We don`t have real
good clarity on that.
You know, I don`t think we can necessarily kill our way to a solution
to the Islamic State, but certainly lethal force is an option we have in
the toolbox. It`s a very complicated situation. It`s a difficult problem
set. There are a lot of moving parts and one thing we don`t have a good
handle on is we`re just starting to see signs now that they are trying to
sort of mobilize themselves outside of Iraq, outside of Syria with cells in
Europe. We`ve seen some arrests.
At the same time, it`s very obvious from their messaging and from
their strategy that they want us to get involved in a broader war there.
So, you know, I think any discussion of our military options there has
to at least acknowledge and take into consideration the fact that this is
what they are trying to get us to do.
O`DONNELL: J.M., why are they trying to get us to do that, in your
BERGER: This is basically the same strategy that al Qaeda articulated
back in the day. There`s -- in part, it`s because they believe the Muslim
world will galvanize against us. In part, they believe we will overextend
ourselves economically and eventually topple. And I think al Qaeda did its
level best to implement that strategy, and it did not succeed.
But that doesn`t mean that we aren`t spending more money than we need
to on this, that we aren`t making some choices that would be better made in
And I will say, I mean, a lot of my colleagues, a lot of my peers have
been very quick with prescriptions for this problem and I`ve been very slow
to make any kind of recommendation, because I really see this as just --
you know, a very, very complicated problem and whatever we do is going to
have -- whether it`s we do something or whether we do nothing or something
in between, there will almost certainly be some blowback and some negative
repercussions to it.
O`DONNELL: And, Michael Boyle, and it would certainly include
unintended consequences, unforeseen in any of the worst case scenarios,
we`ve always experienced that with actions we`ve taken in that region.
BOYLE: I absolutely agree. I mean, one of the problems, this is a
very difficult problem with a lot of moving parts. I think he`s exactly
right, and there are a lot of unintended consequences that can follow from
One of the ones that concerns is that if we do follow ISIS to the
gates of hell as Vice President Biden suggested that we would, that may
actually lead us to engage in airstrikes in Syria. And if that happens, we
may be faced into an unsavory alliance with Bashar al-Assad, where we have
to say you`ve killed 190,000 of your own citizens and used chemical
weapons, we need your blessing to be able to engage in air strikes.
I think the Obama administration is being very careful before marching
into Syria about, well, does this do? Does the effect of such an operation
boost the legitimacy of Assad? Does this make sure that we stick with
Assad after the Syrian civil war ends? If not, what`s our position in
terms of going after ISIS if we`re trying to find some way around dealing
with Assad? I don`t see any easy way to do that.
So, you have to be very careful what the diplomatic consequences as
O`DONNELL: E.J. Dionne, the Islamic State seems to have unified
Washington politically. We have Rand Paul now, who was previously against
taking actions in this kind of arena, saying, absolutely, we should be
bombing and willing to go inside Syria, if necessary.
DIONNE: Well, I think there`s -- Rand Paul has probably looked at
recent polls that show even in just the last couple of months, Republican
opinion has moved toward a much more hawkish position and what looked like
a very attractive, noninterventionist libertarian position a couple of
months ago is less attractive.
But I think one of the reasons ISIS has unified people more than say
the Iraq war is I think there was a consensus in the country after 9/11
that it was a legitimate object of national policy to go after al Qaeda and
to try to prevent another attack. Obviously, the attack on bin Laden was
I think people who support this or are sympathetic to doing something
see this in connection with the war against -- or the fight against al
Qaeda, not as a re-creation of the old war in Iraq.
O`DONNELL: E.J. Dionne, Michael Boyle and J.M. Berger, thank you all
for joining me tonight.
DIONNE: Good to be with you.
BOYLE: Thank you.
BERGER: Thank you.
O`DONNELL: Thank you.
Coming up, guilty verdicts in if corruption trial of former Virginia
Governor Bob McDonnell and his wife -- a wipeout for the McDonnells. We`ll
have a report from when those verdicts were read.
And, remembering the first woman to host the "Tonight Show" and the
first woman to have her own late night talk show, Joan Rivers, who died
today at the age of 81.
And later, how can you protect your private pictures and what legal
remedies do you have when your private photographs are stolen as apparently
they`re all going to be stolen eventually and all eventually appear online?
O`DONNELL: Former Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell and his wife today
had to listen to a Virginia jury say that they were guilty 20 times today
when the verdicts came back. That`s next.
O`DONNELL: A federal jury found former Virginia Governor Bob
McDonnell guilty of 11 out of 13 corruption charges today. His wife,
Maureen, was found guilty of eight out of 13 charges. Bob McDonnell, who
once served as Virginia`s attorney general, left the courthouse today after
his multiple convictions and said only this --
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: Governor, anything to say to the people of Virginia?
Governor, do you have anything to say? Anything to say for all the
Virginians watching out there?
BOB MCDONNELL (R), FORMER VIRGINIA GOVERNOR: All I can say is my
trust remains in the Lord.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
L. O`DONNELL: Joining me now is NBC News correspondent Kelly
O`Donnell who was inside the courtroom when the verdicts were read.
And Paul Butler, a former federal prosecutor and law professor at
Kelly, take us inside that courtroom. It`s very -- maybe one of the
only suspense dramas left in public life is the announcement of the jury
verdict. There`s no polling that jury during the trial. They have no idea
what they`re going to do.
This was a long verdict that they had to go through with so many
multiple counts, over 25 counts they had to read off between husband and
wife. What was that like sitting through that?
KELLY O`DONNELL, NBC NEWS: Well, there was real tension today,
Lawrence. And I had a chance to see the jury early in the morning. You
can never really get a sense of what`s going on in their minds. They had
worked over three days, about 17 hours.
And you`re right. It was complex. On some counts, it involved the
former governor and his wife, and other instances. It was a count
involving one or the other in some instances. So, it was hard, tedious
work for them.
When the court was brought into session for the reading of the
verdicts, it was strikingly emotional when that first count was a signal
for what else to come -- guilty for Bob McDonnell, guilty for Maureen
McDonnell. There was a heaving sob that then seemed to pick up and cascade
with each of the successive counts from family members, real emotion.
It was one of those moments where you just don`t know what the jury is
going to do, and when the reality of it confronts you, you can just feel
Now, underneath all of this, Lawrence, was a five-week trial, lots of
witnesses, lots of information, all about the relationship the McDonnells
had with a Virginia businessman, Jonnie Williams, who had provided them
with gifts and loans worth about $180,000, with the intention of getting
the governor`s influence to boost a company Jonnie Williams had that made
diet supplements and to get state help for that company.
That was the prosecution`s case. The main defense argument was that
the marriage of the McDonnells, which was laid bare in this trial, was so
damaged that they couldn`t have conspired because they were barely talking.
Well, clearly, the jury rejected that idea.
There were a couple of counts where the McDonnells were found not
guilty. They had to do with false statements to banks, technical things.
The overwhelming impact is this was a really sweeping conviction for both
of them with serious jail time they would face in January when we learn the
sentencing -- Lawrence.
L. O`DONNELL: Kelly, the verdicts were frontloaded with guilties.
They had to listen to the word "guilty", let`s see, seven times when they
got to the first not guilty announcement against Maureen. And in a
courtroom like that and when you have these multiple counts, it starts to
keep going in one direction like that, the momentum seems to be -- today,
could you feel that momentum after the second round of guilties, that this
is going to keep going in this direction?
K. O`DONNELL: Oh, very much so. Very much so.
In fact, the first time when I heard not guilty associated with
Maureen McDonnell on one of those joint counts, I was surprised and looked
around, did everyone else hear not guilty? And the specifics of that
particular count involved the former governor having direct contact with
Jonnie Williams, and perhaps less evidence according to the jury to link
his wife at the time.
Later on, there was an instance where both of them were not found
guilty on certain counts. It almost seemed like there would be no counts
come back not guilty. That`s the complexity of it.
The emotion of it was certainly momentum for that guilty. Once you
hear it on conspiracy, you understood that the jury saw there had been an
agreement -- the exchange, the sort of the power of the office for
practical things, not so practical in the material sense, but actual
things. We`re talking about catering for their daughter`s wedding, use of
a Ferrari at a country club, also a shopping spree in New York. Things
that are high living on a public servant`s bank account. That was
apparently the problem. They were under great financial strains, and they
took these gifts, which under state law was not specifically against the
law, that`s why this is a federal case. You can expect Virginia law will
change over time to reflect some of this.
But very damning for someone who, as you know, Lawrence, had been
talked about as a potential presidential candidate or a short-lister for a
V.P. slot on the Republican ticket, having had a fairly successful time as
the Republican governor of Virginia. That term ended in January and his
life is very, very difficult tonight -- Lawrence.
L. O`DONNELL: Paul Butler, some of the worst legal analysis you can
hear on television is from political pundits. We`ve had a lot saying
what`s the big deal here? Where is the quid pro quo? What did the
governor do for this guy? You know, he left him have an appointment here
Explain what he was convicted of and how it is different from bribery
and what that jury actually found him guilty of today.
PAUL BUTLER, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: So, he was convicted of a
number of conspiracy charges, as was Mrs. McDonnell. A technical crime
called theft of honest services.
But what it meant was, this businessman was giving him all this bling-
bling, these Rolex watches, these Oscar dela Renta dresses, sending him on
shopping sprees. He said that all he was doing as governor is what he
would doing for any business. He was promoting the business in ways that
he promotes any business of the state.
The jury just didn`t buy that. What they`re saying is, this isn`t
business as usual. The defense subtext is, well, everybody knows this is
how politics works. You scratch my back, I scratch yours. The jury said
in Virginia, no more.
L. O`DONNELL: And, Paul Butler, the federal officials, they live
under rules that say they absolutely cannot accept these kinds of gifts
under any circumstances. There`s no am ambiguity about it. They all know
But this governor seemed to think at some point that this was going to
be OK. His guide seemed to be more Virginia law and he maybe had an
ignorance of what federal law said.
BUTLER: Well, it wasn`t an obvious case for federal prosecution. As
Kelly said, the Virginia law hadn`t quite caught up. I think now it will
and forbid politician for receiving gifts like this.
But, of course, the governor is bound by federal law. So, a number of
these investigations of governors, including Governor Christie in New
Jersey, it`s the feds who are moving forward.
L. O`DONNELL: Kelly O`Donnell and Paul Butler, thank you both very
much for joining me tonight.
BUTLER: It`s great to be here.
L. O`DONNELL: Thanks.
Coming up, today`s big development in what is now the new Senate race
to watch this year in Kansas. Steve Kornacki will join me.
And later, photo-hacking and keeping private photos private.
O`DONNELL: In the spotlight tonight, Kansas, again. Another dramatic
development in the race for United States Senate in Kansas. Last night
Democratic candidate Chad Taylor suddenly terminated his campaign to unseat
incumbent Republican senator Pat Roberts, giving the independent candidate
Greg Orman a real chance of becoming the first non-Republican senator from
Kansas since the 1930s.
But today, in the latest twist in the story, the Republican secretary
of state in Kansas, Kris Kobach, said that the Democrat, Chad Taylor, must
remain on the ballot. Kobach says that Taylor failed to follow Kansas
election law because he did not declare that he is incapable of serving in
the United States Senate. Chad Taylor said he will challenge the decision
to keep his name on the ballot.
But this afternoon, Kris Kobach who is a member of Pat Robertson`s
honorary statewide committee told "the Washington Post" quote "this has
nothing to do with party. The law is the law."
Joining me now is Steve Kornacki, the host of "UP" which airs weekends
on MSNBC. Steve, it looks like this might be a case of the law is the law.
STEVE KORNACKI, MSNBC HOST, UP WITH STEVE KORNACKI: Yes. Well, I
mean, we will see. I`ve seen the law is the law in other states and courts
have stepped in and done some funky things. In New Jersey, I famously saw
this from Frank Lautenberg back on a ballot 30 days before an election.
So, we will see.
I guess the interesting thing, though, here is if this is upheld and
if he does, if his name does an appearing on the ballot, what is that
threshold? I mean, he will get some votes, we know that. The question is
at what point does it make a difference between Orman potentially winning
the state and just not having enough anti-Pat Robert votes out there to
O`DONNELL: The law seems to indicate to get your name off the ballot;
you have to certify -- after you`ve been nominated by the party, you have
to certify you`re incapable of serving in the Senate. Ad then, even if
that happens, then they turn to the party and say, OK, give us another
name. So it`s kind of -- it looks like the first read of Kansas law is
it`s got to be a name in a democratic slot.
KORNACKI: The interesting thing is that Chad Taylor, though, is
claiming he had communication with and he had coordination with Kris
Kobach, the secretary of state with his office asking him if it was
permissible and asked them if it was permissible, how to do it. So he is
saying, basically, I wouldn`t have done this unless the secretary of
state`s office told me it was OK.
O`DONNELL: Yes. But it seems the best case scenario now for what
they seem to be trying to do, which is the Democrats in Kansas seem to be
saying look, we can`t win. Let`s see what we can do to get the independent
to win. The best thing for them is just to leave that name on the ballot
but presumably everyone will know by November. This guy isn`t really
running. There will be enough press attention to that in Kansas. It would
seem to me that Kansas voter would be able to understand that by November,
KORNACKI: The interesting thing, for people who are just looking at
this race for the first time, and they don`t really know any of these of
names, Chad Taylor was not a name in Kansas politics before this. He is
the district attorney from the Topeka area. He kind of got -- he got the
Democratic nomination in the primary early this year. He barely got it.
There were two basically -- there were two names on the ballot. Nobody
knew neither one of them spent any money. The national party, the state
party was not behind either one of them. Chad Taylor won that nomination
which is 53 percent of the vote.
This is the highest profile thing that he`s done or that has happened
in his entire political career, dropping out of this race. So his name
recognition is probably doubled in just the last day or two by virtue of
this happening. There are other, you know, you`re looking to parallels,
there is another state trying to see, you know, what kind of effect it has
to just have a name sitting on the ballot. When the candidate saying don`t
vote for me, I`m not running. Maybe even if that candidate and goes out
endorses somebody else. And I can think of -- there was a special election
a couple of years ago where a Republican actually dropped out of the race
about a week before the election and endorsed the Democrat. Her name was
still on the ballot. There was a conservative candidate too. She was
trying to stop. She ended getting about four or five percent of the vote
as I recall.
O`DONNELL: Yes. And that`s in a much narrower time frame. So Steve,
it turns out you have the big get of the week already on video because
you`ve already interviewed Greg Orman, suddenly the hottest Senate
candidate in the country. Let`s listen to some of that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GREG ORMAN (I), KANSAS SENATORIAL CANDIDATE: I`m fiscally responsible
and socially tolerant and never felt like I had a perfect home in either
party. Historically, I`ve tried the Republican part, I have tried the
Democratic Party, and I have just finally decided that if we`re going to
change things in Washington, we have to attack the two-party system and
stop supporting it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Steve, you`re way ahead of us on this story, you had him
on last month knowing this was coming. But how would you say he handled
that interview? He seemed to -- sounded like a genuine independent.
KORNACKI: Yes. He sounded like somebody who knows how to win an
election in a state that hasn`t sent a Democrat to the Senate since the
great depression. You know, I asked him a number of questions there. I
asked him, for instance, who will you vote for in race for governor of
Kansas? As you can see, Sam Brownback, very conservative governor running
for reelection, is endanger of losing. He wouldn`t even go On the Record
and say who he`s going to vote for in the governor`s race. He said he
doesn`t think it`s his place to be sharing publicly how he votes. So you`d
say a senator`s entire job is to vote, maybe, that is an interpretation of
the job. But he is saying private, he won`t weigh in.
So, you know, I don`t think -- it`s pretty obvious he will go through
his entire campaign and will not say during his campaign, you know, I will
vote to make the Democrats the majority party of the senate. I will vote
to make the Republicans the majority party. Democrats are clearly making
the bet here that he is likely to vote for him after this election and they
need him, they`re making the bet that he`s likely to do that.
The risk in all this for him is that because of that, because the
Democrats dropped out of this race, because the Democrats don`t want to
feel the candidate, because the Democrats are kind of doing this wink and
nod thing here, that he kind of gets tarred as the de facto democratic
candidate in the voters of Kansas start treating him as a Democrat.
So he is going to talk the way, I think he talk, in the interview with
me, I doubt he`s going to change his tune at all. He`s going to keep
trying to talk that way and deny, you know, separate himself from the
Democratic Party as much as he can. And the question is, do voters
continue to treat him, continue to treat him as independent or they start
to treat him as just a Democrat? And he is just a Democrat in Kansas that
he gets in trouble this year.
O`DONNELL: Well, Republican senator Pat Roberts` first statement
about him last night, linked him to Harry Reid right there in the first
sentence. Steve Kornacki, thank you very much for joining us. Steve`s
show, of course, "Up." It is on Saturdays and Sundays here on MSNBC at
8:00. I will be watching this weekend, Steve, as always. Thanks again,
KORNACKI: Thank you, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: Coming up, the reporter who conducted what turned out to
be Joan Rivers` last interview will join me.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOAN RIVERS, ACTRESS: This is me. And it`s because of my regimen,
which is a shake for breakfast, a shake for lunch, and plastic surgery for
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: That was Joan Rivers with me here on "the Last Word" a few
years ago. We`ll have more about Joan next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RIVERS: I wish I could tell you it gets better, but it doesn`t get
better. You get better. I`ve gone up. I`ve gone down. I`ve gone
bankrupt. I have been broke, but you do it and you do it because --
because we love it more than anything else. What we do is a calling, my
dear. We make people happy. It`s a calling.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Melissa Rivers announced this afternoon that her mother,
Joan Rivers, died peacefully at Mt. Sinai hospital in New York City today.
Joan was 81-years-old. In a statement, Melissa said, my mother`s greatest
joy in life was to make people laugh, although that is difficult to do
right now. I know her final wish would be that we return to laughing soon.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RIVERS: Can we talk? I went into a store today and I said what do
you have to go with this suit? She gave me a bottle of cheap wine. Why
should a woman cook, so her husband can say my wife makes a delicious cake
to some hooker? Can you wonder why I am still working at this age?
Gwyneth Paltrow, I just love to see anything straight. But then, I
just love to see anything straight in Hollywood. But that dress has more
creases than my face did before Botox. They sent this big stretch Mercedes
limo for us and it got stuck and wouldn`t move for 2 1/2 hours. And I`m
thinking the Germans killed six million Jews and you can`t fix a (bleep)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Welcome back to the network, Joan.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Joining me now is Tim Telman, senior editor for "the Daily
Beast." He had one of the last interviews with Joan Rivers in July. Tim,
what was your conversation like in July?
TIM TELMAN, SENIOR EDITOR, THE DAILY BEAST: Good evening. It was
absolutely wonderful. It was one of the most pleasurable interviews I`ve
done for many years. I have been seen Joan, well, I interviewed her three
times in the end and this is the third and final time. It was in the
Russian tearoom in New York. It was in a very lovely banquet. She had
been followed all day by a TV crew. And she settled in banquet and we
talked. As you can see when you read the piece on "the Daily Beast," about
everything, sex, death, so her feelings about mortality, her feelings about
Melissa, her daughter who she loved very much and was very worried about
leaving should she ever die.
But I should say, very emphatically, there was no sense that Joan was
frail that day. She wasn`t ill. She was on sparkling good form. She was
very unusual for a comedian. And that she was as good off stage as she was
on. The jokes were always there. She was extremely funny. Extremely
serious when she wanted to be serious. Just, as you know yourself, just
one of those all-around zinging interviews. When you leave the room,
you`re like thanks, Joan, you know, that was wonderful.
O`DONNELL: There`s always a remarkable energy driving everything she
said, both in her act and when she was trying to be funny privately.
TELMAN: Absolutely. She told me on more than one occasion that what
she most feared was not working. Joan Rivers loved to work. I don`t know
if you saw the wonderful documentary that was made about her in 2010 called
"a Piece of Work." But that showed you that she was getting off planes,
getting onto stages. That was the most important thing to her, being in
the game, staying relevant. She didn`t have to work at being relevant.
She was absolutely couched in pop culture. Look what she did for E`s
"Fashion Police." There she is, 81 years old, addressing a much younger
generation and they adored her. People of all ages adored here because
told it like it is.
But if you ask me what gave impassion to her, what gave her her focus,
it was working and staying working. She absolutely loved it. When I asked
her about retirement in July, she said, why would I do that? She got up
every day and she worked. She just had sat with Barbara Walters the night
before she saw me, and she queried with Barbara, she said you`re going to
go crazy. You`ll see somebody doing a terrible interview on TV saying I
should be doing that.
So Joan, there is no way she is going to give up work. She absolutely
loved it. She lived for it. She also lived for her family, who she
absolutely adored. And if you talked about death with her, the prospect of
death, what worried her about dying and about mortality was the prospect of
leaving Melissa and Cooper, her grandson.
O`DONNELL: Well, she thought of everything and she joked about
everything, including her funeral in her 2012 book, she wrote this about
her funeral. She said --
I want craft services, I wand paparazzi and I want publicists making a
scene. I want it to be Hollywood all the way, I don`t want some rabbi
rambling on, I want Meryl Steep crying five different accents, I don`t
want a eulogy, I want Bobby Vinton to pick up my head and sing Mr. Lonely.
I want to look gorgeous. Better dead than I do alive. I want to be buried
in a Valentino gown and I want Harry Winston to make me a toe tag. And I
want a wind machine so that even in the casket, my hair is blowing just
Tim, can we expect some of that in Joan`s funeral?
TELMAN: If we don`t have some of that in the funeral, I think we can
expect thunder claps from heaven to ring out. So yes, respect Joan Rivers`
last wishes for a dramatic funeral. Look, she clearly wanted to die in the
way that she lived, which was dramatically and absolutely on the edge.
Look what we had here. She`s still singular amongst comediennes. And
in fact, many people in the Hollywood, you know, echelons, who actually
took a pin to the great balloon of Hollywood ego and flummery and said,
enough already. You know, people could say, she was never enough. Well,
she never thought she was rude. She thought she was telling the truth and
she lived very -- she didn`t live extravagantly. That`s very funny what
you just said about what she wants for the funeral.
The irony of Joan Rivers is I said to her, look, if you retired, you
could give it up, Joan. You`re always well off. And she said, I`ve always
been salaried. I have always been salaried. So even -- I interviewed her
once in her gorgeous apartment, (INAUDIBLE), and it was amazing, a butler
brought us brownies on a silver platter. But she worked for every penny
and she was extremely serious about working for every penny and working for
every penny and she had the old school trouper thing about her. Work was
absolutely essential to her. So yes, give her that funeral. Otherwise, I
think, we`ll all suffer weather wise on Sunday.
O`DONNELL: Tim Telman, thank you very much for joining us tonight.
TELMAN: Thank you very much.
O`DONNELL: When we come back, what you and every celebrity apparently
need to know about keeping private pictures private.
O`DONNELL: Five hundred years ago, we did not have the Internet, but
we did have porn. Here is one of our most enduring pieces of porn, Venus
of Erbino, painted in 1538, and still proudly hanging on display in
Florence. And from the same period we have Michelangelo`s Matthew
McConaughey. Well, OK, it`s not McConaughey`s hair. But if he had gone
full frontal on magic mic, he would have looked an awful lot like
And when we look at Venus today or Michelangelo`s David, we don`t
think how shameful and embarrassing for the models to have their naked
images on display publicly for 500 years. But when Americans are offered
more recent images of naked people, the puretism (ph), that is the
foundational perversity of the United States of America, always controls
And so when celebrities` private naked photographs are stolen and
exhibited for public view, shock is the mandatory public reaction instead
of recognizing that we were all born into this world naked and human beings
have been sharing naked imagery of human beings for as long as we have been
able to create imagery. And we always will share naked imagery of human
beings. But we just can`t seem to find our way to the obvious conclusion
that what is normal is not embarrassing, and naked is normal and naked
imagery is normal and not shameful in any way and should not be
embarrassing in any way.
In today`s world of electronic sharing of naked imagery, what are the
best ways to keep that sharing private? And what are the legal remedies
for violating that privacy?
Joining me now, Mitchell Matorin, an attorney who specializes in
Internet law, including so-called revenge porn. Mitchell, what is the
state of the law on this stuff? What kind of control do people have of
images of themselves that are stolen or revealed against their will?
MITCHELL MATORIN, INTERNET LAW EXPERT: Thanks, Lawrence, for having
There are two issues here. One is the criminal aspect and one is a
civil aspect. There are people working to criminalize the posting of these
private photographs in states across the country. And that is one aspect
of it. The problem right now is that this behavior, although wrong, falls
within the gaps in the criminal laws which did not have this behavior in
The other side of it is the civil side, which is, you know, a remedy
that the individuals who were victimized by this would have against the
websites that actually post these -- host these photographs. The revenge
porn industry is growing. It is a big money maker. And the problem right
now is that as the federal law is written, these websites are largely
immune from being sued by the victims.
O`DONNELL: What is the revenge porn industry? Who is making money in
that? This is porn where a couple has created these photos, then the
couple breaks up and one of them decides I`m going to make this public
because I`m angry at him or her.
MATORIN: Well, yes. I mean, revenge porn as is actually a subset. I
prefer the term involuntary porn, because there isn`t always a revenge
aspect to it, as is the case with Jennifer Lawrence. You know, people can
have their phones hacked into by somebody that doesn`t know them. Revenge
is not a motivation at all.
So, you know, people take these pictures and as you suggested, there
is nothing wrong with it. The problem is when they take the pictures, once
they`re reduced to electronic form in particular, they become vulnerable to
hacking or distribution by the ex-boyfriend or by anybody. And what
happens is that these websites are set up to host this type of image, and
people can upload those images anonymously. The web site make it a point
to not track the IP addresses of the people who are uploading, so there`s
no way to trace and figure out who did it.
And then they host these pictures on the Web site. And some of these
web sites have tens of thousands of photographs of thousands upon thousands
of women and men also.
O`DONNELL: And who owns the copyright to these private photographs?
MATORIN: Well, that`s a complex issue. If the photograph is taken by
the victim him or herself, then they own the copyright. If the photograph
is taken by the boyfriend or girlfriend, they technically own the
copyright. So although there is an exemption in the federal immunity for
intellectual property claim such as copyright, it becomes problematic when
the pictures were not actually taken by the victim.
So the victim can try to sue the Web site itself if she owns the
copyright. The problem is trying to figure out who to sue. These people
who run the websites are very keen on invading the privacy of everybody
else. But they take great steps to remain anonymous themselves. They hide
behind proxies and host the websites on foreign computers and that sort of
thing. So determining who to sue becomes a big problem.
And there is also the cost, the cost and the blowback that you get if
you actually file a lawsuit. There could be significant blowback.
O`DONNELL: Attorney Mitchell Matorin, thank you very much for joining
MATORIN: You are welcome.
O`DONNELL: Chris Hayes is up next.
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