'The Melissa Harris-Perry Show' for Sunday, September 14th, 2014
Read the transcript to the Sunday show
September 14, 2014
Guest: Christina Bellantoni, Hayley Tsukayama, Jason Page, Karen Finney,
Etan Thomas, Don McPherson, Ntozake Shange
MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY, MSNBC ANCHOR: This morning my question, could a
free-range chicken decide an election?
Plus the NFL is eating crow.
And Hillary Clinton, back in Iowa again.
But first, another brutal slaying of a civilian by the terror group ISIS.
Good morning, I`m Melissa Harris-Perry.
And we begin with breaking news this morning. In response to a new ISIS
video showing the beheading of a British aid worker, this is a still from
the video which shows the murder of David Haines. The British foreign and
commonwealth office says it believes the video is authentic. The 44-year-
old father of two was abducted in Syria in 2013. He was working with a
French relief agency, a refugee camp. Haines is the third western hostage
to be beheaded by ISIS in recent weeks. The first two were American
British prime minister David Cameron called the beheading, quote, "act of
pure evil" and described this morning how the U.K. will respond.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DAVID CAMERON, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: The murder of David Haines at the
hands of ISIL will not lead Britain to shirk our responsibility with our
allies to deal with the threat that this organization poses. It must
strengthen our resolve.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: For more on this story now, we go to NBC`s Kristen Welker at
the White House. Kristen, Prime Minister Cameron mentioned working with
allies to destroy ISIS. What is President Obama`s response to this latest
KRISTEN WELKER, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Well, Melissa, here is the
official response from the White House. President Obama condemning this
latest beheading in the strongest terms, released a statement late last
night which reads in part, quote, "we will work with the United Kingdom and
a broad coalition of nations from the region and around the world to bring
the perpetrators of this outrageous act to justice and to degrade and
destroy this threat to the people of our countries, the region and the
Melissa, the question now becomes how will this latest beheading impact the
international coalition that the United States is trying to build? Will it
put more pressure on Prime Minister David Cameron to join the United States
in a robust military response and in airstrikes, for example, this past
week one top official from the U.K. said that they would not consider
airstrikes. A spokesperson for the U.K.`s office said wait a minute, we`re
not necessarily ruling that out.
So where do things stand now? You heard the rage from Prime Minister David
Cameron who essentially signaled that this could push him to ramp up his
response. We know that military action is unpopular in the U.K., but this
beheading could shift opinions. We`ve seen that happen here in the United
States. Of course Secretary Kerry has been traveling throughout the Middle
East trying to build up a coalition there. He got ten Arab nations to sign
onto an agreement essentially pledging some military support, some
humanitarian aid, but it`s very unlikely that those Arab nations are going
to commit their armies to this response. That`s what the United States
wants, that`s what military officials say that they need.
One more point I`ll make, Melissa, quickly we`re just getting some new
polling in which shows that Americans do widely support taking action
against ISIS. Sixty one percent according to this latest poll support
President Obama`s decision to take action against ISIS, 63 percent have
just some or little confidence, though, that his goals will be achieved.
And I think a big part of that is going to be if the United States can get
a robust and broad international coalition to join in the military steps
that they`re taking -- Melissa.
HARRIS-PERRY: NBC`s Kristen Welker at the White House. Thank you for your
reporting this morning.
HARRIS-PERRY: We`re going to continue to follow this developing story
throughout the day here on MSNBC.
But for right now, we`re going to turn to news here at home where today
political junkies are witnessing the end of an era.
Iowa senator Tom Harkin is retiring this year and taking his annual steak
fry fund-raiser right along with him. For the last 37 years the steak fry
in Iowa has been one of the premiere show cases for Democrats with their
eyes on the presidency. But why steak? Because nowhere is it more true
than in politics that you are what you eat. If you`re a candidate trying
to let voters know what you`re all about, what`s on your plate can say as
much about you as what`s on your platform.
Let`s take President Gerald Ford and the unfortunate great tamale incident
of 1976. The president was in a tough position of fighting to win his
party`s nomination. And during a swing through Texas while on the campaign
trail, President Ford stopped for a tour of the Alamo. While there, he
spotted a plate of tamales and decided to give them a try. Now, any
experienced tamale eater knows you`re supposed to remove the corn husk
wrapper first. But Ford, being a tamale novice, bit into it, wrapper and
all, and then proclaimed it delicious. Tamale-gate made national news
cementing the image of Ford as a feckless leader. And although he won the
Republican primary, he lost the presidency to Jimmy Carter.
Then there was the time John Kerry committed what amounts to a Cardinal Sin
in Philadelphia. While on a 2003 campaign stop at famous Pat`s Steak, he
asked with his steak with, horrors, Swiss cheese. Kerry was already
battling the perception of being an out of touch elitist and his mistake
didn`t win him any fans among the city`s working class voters.
He could have learned a thing or two from working class hero Joe Biden.
The vice president knew how to speak the native tongue during a 2010 visit
to pat`s when he ordered his steak as a whiz without. With cheese whiz and
without onions. Politicians who don`t have Biden`s natural appreciation
for customary local fare quickly figure out how to fake it.
Let`s take President Obama, never, ever start on the job as a teenager with
scooping ice cream at Honolulu Baskin Robbins and it left him with sore
wrists and a dislike of ice cream. Who dislike ice cream, but you know?
But you would not know that the way he scraped it down at stop after stop
after stop and joining his 2012 campaign.
So given all that, it shouldn`t be surprising that two of the can`t miss
dates on the political calendar both involve food and both take place in
Iowa. Why Iowa? Because in the presidential primary race, Iowa holds the
first nominating contest in the country. A strong showing in Iowa can give
a candidate momentum to go the distance through a long, grueling primary
fight. And for Iowa voters, a quick drive-by isn`t going to cut it. There
is no skipping the food line at those two major political Iowa events.
One is the Iowa state fair where in addition to munching on corn dogs on a
stick, presidential hopefuls must pay homage to the sacred butter cow, 1200
pounds of butter sculpted into a life-size bovine work of art.
The other one is the event that is happening today for the very last time.
Senator Tom Harkin`s steak fry, started as a small fund-raiser on a local
family farm to raise money for his first congressional campaign. Thirty
seven years later, on the eve of his retirement, the steak fry has evolved
into a marquee event, attracting thousands of Iowans, high profile
politicians and Democrats, looking to raise their state or national
profile. And who`s the main attraction in the final year of one of the
biggest Democratic event and one of the most important states in
presidential politics? You guessed it. None other than Ms. Will she or
won`t she herself, former secretary of state Hillary Clinton, who will be
appearing along with President Bill Clinton as Senator Harkin`s guests of
It`s the first time there have been two Clintons in attendance. Bill
Clinton showed up solo in `92, `96 and 2003. But a Hillary Clinton
appearance? Well, that`s been rarer than the steak. In fact today is the
first time Mrs. Clinton has set foot in Iowa in 2,446 days when she left
the state with an embarrassing third place showing behind not only Senator
Barack Obama, but also Senator John Edwards.
But this time will be different, because while the official word from team
Hillary is that she`s coming to see her old friend, Tom Harkin, and help
raise money for Democrats in Iowa, she`s also returning as the new improved
globe-trotting former secretary of state fresh off a book tour how do you
like me now could be your candidate in 2016 version of Hillary. And if
she`s going to atone with Iowans for her mistakes in the past action she
can start with one Iowa food tradition she got right in `07, which is never
to fry a steak at the Harkin steak fry because in 37 years, the steaks are
always cooked only on the grill.
Joining me now to talk all things Iowa politics is someone who has spent a
lot of time covering it, NBC news correspondent Harry Smith. Nice to have
you this morning.
HARRY SMITH, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: That was beautifully done.
HARRIS-PERRY: Thank you.
So you went to college in Iowa, you have covered this event a million
times. Just give me literally a flavor of it. Who is the best person
you`ve ever seen sort of work the Iowa steak fry?
SMITH: President Clinton. President Clinton comes back after he leaves
office. He`s tanned, he`s in a $300 shirt open at the collar, and all the
other wannabes are up there very earnestly trying to say pay attention, pay
attention. He knocks the ball out of the park and everybody -- they stood
in the rain. They stood in the rain to watch the former president. He`s
that good. So it`s interesting to watch what will happen today because his
appearance there is really important. It doesn`t overshadow hers --
HARRIS-PERRY: Because that`s what I wonder. His naturalness, I wonder if
it always creates this contrast where no matter how good Hillary is, she`s
just not bill in terms of that retail politics.
SMITH: Right. And although we saw her on this -- on the stump six years
ago. She`s taking shots in the bar, you know, versus was Obama drinking,
was she drinking, you know? She, I think, started to develop more a little
more of a common touch the last time around. I think for Iowans it`s
interesting because the "Des Moines register" has a poll out this morning.
She polls at 53 percent. Joe Biden is like in the teens. Elizabeth Warren
might be in the single digits. Everybody is like it is all going to be on
the leftist. It is all going on the left. She starts in a good place
What she has to do, though, is show up. And that`s what happened six years
ago. We were in the drake diner on a cold winter morning. We had an
interview with Hillary Clinton. I went around, I talked to every single
person in the place, and I said what`s going on here? And they all said,
well, she got her too late. She got here too late.
There was an arrogance about that campaign first time around. We don`t
need to go. Bill didn`t go because Tom Harkin was a favorite son candidate
way back in the day so he didn`t have to show up there. There was a do we
really have to do this? And they got their butts handed to them.
HARRIS-PERRY: OK. So has she showed up too late before, has she showed up
too early this time? Which is someone that that when we look at the
polling that tells us she has got something like 43 percent positives and
41 percent negatives, you have fairly evenly split. You know, I keep
feeling like the primary problem with Hillary Clinton as a candidate is
that people have simply formed opinions, good ones or bad ones, but there`s
no learning curve. Isn`t Iowa all about let me introduce myself to you.
Don`t Iowans already have an opinion about Hillary Clinton?
SMITH: They certainly do. On the other hand, you have to go -- you have
to go impress the flesh. It`s sort of like Willie Loman in "death of a
salesman," attention must be paid. You are so spoiled if you`re in Iowa or
if you`re in New Hampshire because you have -- hey, it a lot you know, he`s
going to be over there on Tuesday. Let`s drive over there, honey.
They want to be able to press the flesh. They want to sort of, you know,
kick the tires on all these candidates. So while there is this giant
opinion already, I think you still need to go. I think that was the
mistake of six years ago. You know, she`s the former first lady, has been
a senator. She`s a giant rock star. You`ve still got to show up.
HARRIS-PERRY: Is it inherently undemocratic that the Iowans are kicking
the tires for the person I get to choose as president, in other words?
SMITH: Yes, it couldn`t be any more unfair. These two states have it is -
- and when you`re there, there`s nothing more fun. You`re standing in a
little park pavilion with 12 people listening to whomever in those early,
early days. And you think nobody else gets this. It`s really unfair.
Although it`s interesting, I had a great conversation with Jennifer Jacobs,
who`s the chief political reporter now at the "Des Moines Register." And
she said Iowa actually is the purplest of purple states. There`s no real
way to know one way or the other. You go out west and you have the most
conservative people in the state. I mean it is as conservative as it gets.
You get into Des Moines, it changes. Iowa city, cedar rapids, the cities
along the Mississippi river, that`s a whole other deal. So you really have
this super purple state in a way unlike New Hampshire. It may be really is
that sort of ultimate test.
HARRIS-PERRY: Stick with us, we`re going to go to Iowa for a moment just
because, hey, maybe somebody will fry me or actually grill me a steak.
So up next we`re going to go live to Indianola. The site of the biggest
political event happening today, the legendary hark in steak fry.
HARRIS-PERRY: Have we just learned, NBC`s Harry Smith has 8,000 Iowa
stories, but presidential hopefuls and the hawk eye state. Today Hillary
Clinton might be hoping to give her Iowa story a better ending.
Joining us live from Indianola, Iowa where he is reporting on the Harkin
State Fry is MSNBC political correspondent Kasie Hunt.
Kasie, I would like to remind us that Iowa is 75 percent vowels but 100
percent awesome. Can Hillary buy enough vowels from Iowa to rewrite her
KASIE HUNT, MSNBC POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: I`m not sure that the Clintons
necessarily feel like Iowa is 100 percent awesome. It certainly was not
where Hillary Clinton was when she left here last time, more than almost
2500 days ago. She called that experience excruciating. This is her first
visit back since she left after coming in third in those Iowa caucuses.
So here today is the last Tom Harkin steak fry. She will be joined by a
number of congressional candidates, the Democratic gubernatorial candidate,
other speakers here at the steak fry. President Bill Clinton will speak
last. They`re expecting over 5,000 people, which is a pretty significant
crowd, especially in what`s a pretty off year.
But her challenge here is going to be to prove that she can be more
accessible than she was when she was here last time. And even the Harkins
will acknowledge -- I spoke to Ruth Harkin just on Friday, and she said
that this is going to be a big moment for Hillary Clinton. And the
question is going to be how does she use it. Is she just going stand up
there and talk about Senator Tom Harkin, talk about congressman Bruce
Braley who is running for Senate or is she going to give us some sense of
where she might take the country in the event of a presidential run.
HARRIS-PERRY: So what happens once this is over? I mean if this is the
last Harkin steak fry, is there -- who will rush into the power vacuum that
will be left in Iowa in this moment?
HUNT: You know, that`s a good question, Melissa. It`s not 100 percent
clear and to a certain extent it depends on what happens in the Senate
race. If Congressman Bruce Braley is able to pull it out, become a
Democratic senator from Iowa, he could potentially step up and take over
this event, but either way, this is a real sort of end of an era and
they`re kicking it off -- I`m sorry, that they`re concluding it with a
pretty big headliner.
HARRIS-PERRY: Yes, absolutely. Thank you, Kasie Hunt, for joining us from
Iowa, and have fun. Have a steak for us.
HUNT: Will do.
HARRIS-PERRY: Now, we`re still going to need to get at why there`s a free-
range chicken that might determine control of the U.S. Senate. My panel
comes in next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. TOM HARKIN (D), IOWA: You know, the old adage about the person that
says I don`t know if I`m going to vote for that person, he`s only been to
my house twice. You`ve got to the out and get in front of people. I think
that`s one of the reasons Barack Obama defeated Hillary Clinton last time.
He just did more retail politics.
CHUCK TODD, NBC NEWS MODERATOR, MEET THE PRESS: What`s your advice to her
this time if she as for it?
HARKIN: Retail politics. She`s wonderful. I mean, Hillary is a wonderful
person and she`s got a great persona about her. But she just -- I think
once she gets out and just starts being herself, I think she`ll be fine.
TODD: Why didn`t that happen at all of the sudden? Do you think too many
people were --
HARKINS: Handlers. Handlers, you know. You`ve got this, you have to
worry about that. I think sometimes your handlers can make you into
somebody you`re not.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: That was NBC`s Chuck Todd talking with Senator Tom Harkin
about Hillary Clinton`s history with Iowa politics.
Still, here is NBC news correspondent Harry Smith and joining us at the
table is MSNBC political analyst Karen Finney. Also Christina Bellantoni,
editor in-chief for Roll Call and Matt Morrison, political director for
working America, a group that focuses on engaging working class voters. So
paraphrase now President Obama is Hillary likeable enough for Iowa?
KAREN FINNEY, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: She is likeable enough. When I was
at the DNC during the last presidential -- the 2008 cycle, and I think
there`s a couple of things that happened.
Number one, President Obama`s team went in with a strategy. They were very
meticulous about the Iowa caucuses. They didn`t take anything for granted
because, remember, he knew that if he as an African-American could win
Iowa, that would set him on a path that would be, you know, unstoppable
almost, right? And I think with Hillary`s team, you know, remember their
whole message was I`m in it to win it. And I think what people,
particularly in Iowa needed to see is I`m here to do the hard work, which
is how she ran her Senate campaign which I worked with her on.
SMITH: Every county in the state.
FINNEY: All 62 counties, I can tell you. But also we put extra time on
her schedule so that she could stay for like an hour afterwards and just
shake hands and talk to people. And so I think part of it is Obama to his
credit, his team kind of came out of nowhere, because nobody saw really,
they were pretty much under the radar in terms of how effectively they were
organizing. And I do think that the Hillary campaign made some assumptions
that like you were talking about earlier, people already kind of know her.
They are going to like her. There`s the Bill Clinton effect and they
didn`t anticipate --
SMITH: And the Obama campaign was also 100 miles ahead of everybody with
HARRIS-PERRY: But I`m also wondering, Christina, is this also just part of
the front runner problem in general, right? So that in the end had senator
Obama, a freshman senator, African-American, gone there and lost, he would
have lost nothing, right?
FINNEY: That`s right.
HARRIS-PERRY: So he could literally leave it all on the court because the
expectations were low enough that over performing was almost the only thing
that could happen whereas for Hillary Clinton, losing could mean everything
and it did ultimately.
CHRISTINA BELLANTONI, EDITOR IN-CHIEF, ROLL CALL: That`s all true. But
there`s also a human element here. The Obama campaign staff that worked
that campaign, and I was out in Iowa and talked to them from the very
beginning in 2007. They were true believers. They wanted this man to be
president. They weren`t trying to like take topple the big gorilla of
And a lot of the staffers that worked for her, great, hard-working people
but a lot of them went to work for her because they wanted to work for the
next president. That is that they were thinking of, whereas the Obama
people believed in him. And that authenticity came across at every single
level. Interaction with the press, interaction with the voters,
interaction with the candidate and what they allowed him to do.
HARRIS-PERRY: So part of what I wanted to do the table is it was
fascinating to me when my producers first presented me with the bio of the
work you do which is, of course, he studies working class white voters.
And I was like wait a minute, are you allowed to say that? But that idea,
that those voters are so key, whatever their purpleness (ph), right, but
still that notion of authenticity, sort of Iowa capacity, all of that, so
what do you see in these potential candidates that will resonate with these
MATT MORRISON, POLITICAL DIRECTOR, WORKING AMERICA: You know, absolutely.
I would certainly say if you look back at 2008, that`s something of a once
in a lifetime phenomenon. But it also tells you a lot about the value of
retail politics when you get face to face, door to door. You talk to
people in their living rooms.
I think that what we`re hearing from Harry and what we`re hearing from
Karen and what we heard from Christina is all about saying, hey, if you go
out and you talk to a voter, whether you`re talking to Iowans in Des Moines
right now, we`re talking to 1,000 of them, a week in Des Moines and we`re
hearing pretty clearly what they want to know about is the economy. And
it`s those issues that are driving their vote choice.
HARRIS-PERRY: Is it possible to talk to a candidate and then like them
less after having engaged with them? No, I`m serious. Is it possible that
there are some candidates who actually do better in front of the big crowd
but once they come to your living room you`re like, no, actually I don`t
want to vote for you.
SMITH: That`s possible but you made a really good point that one on one.
Edwards, what people don`t remember was Edwards closed so strong the four
years before that he had a residual power. That`s why he ends up, you
know, Obama comes in first. Edwards comes in second. Hillary comes in
third. So that was all that living room work that he had done the four
years before, regardless of the cloud of controversy that was about to
HARRIS-PERRY: Yes, I mean, you know, he is a punch line now, but he
definitely was not at that moment, right? He had just been the vice
FINNEY: But also Iowa and New Hampshire for the first two, you know,
contests, that is the expectation. The expectation in Iowa is you will
come and you will sit in my living room. And it may be ten people, it may
be five people and you will make time to do that.
HARRIS-PERRY: Who are these Iowans? So let me pause for a second. Who
are these Iowans --
FINNEY: If you don`t do that, you`re in trouble.
HARRIS-PERRY: But why do they deserve -- that`s fine, but I really do want
to ask this. Because like having lived for most of my life in safe states,
either safe blue or safe red states, we`re just happy if you run a
commercial in a safe state. Who are they to expect such attention and
BELLANTONI: Some of it is just built from tradition. But you know what,
they take their responsibility very seriously, and the parties did a
really, you know, big effort to try to include Nevada, to try to include
South Carolina, get them more involved, and they didn`t demand as much of
those candidates, particularly in Nevada, I would say.
From what I witnessed in 2008, the questions that Iowa voters asked, the
attendance, much higher. New Hampshire, the exact same thing. They earned
this responsibility. They don`t look like America and that`s a problem.
Ike if there were a state that was more diverse --
FINNEY: Because it`s been the tradition for so long which was the argument
why we wanted to add more states.
BELLANTONI: And people were born into it.
FINNEY: They have more than two years to get their act.
BELLANTONI: They`re raised with their families taking them to the
caucuses. There are some understanding that that they have this privilege.
So there are ways to restructure that. But the other states have to step
up and say I`m going to attend seven town hall meetings this month, which a
lot of people aren`t willing to do in other states.
HARRIS-PERRY: Stick with us, because still to come this morning, I am
checking a box on my black feminism bucket list. Ntozake Shange is coming
to Nerdland live for an interview that you are not going to want to miss,
all you colored girls out there.
But up next, the answer to the question why could a free-range chicken
determine control of the U.S. Senate? I promise there`s an actual answer
to that question.
HARRIS-PERRY: When it comes to politics and poultry in Iowa, the most
important question is not why did the chicken cross the road? It`s what do
you do when your neighbor`s chicken crosses into your yard, because the
wrong response could cost Iowa Democrat Bruce Braley a seat in the U.S.
Picture it. There he was with his wife, Carolyn, enjoying a little time
away at their vacation home in Brooklyn, Iowa, taking in the view of
picturesque holiday lake when all of a sudden their peace and quiet is
broken by the pitter patter of little chicken feet. Four hens belonging to
a neighbor had flown the coop and ended up going for a stroll on Braley`s
Later when the neighbor stopped by to offer up a gift of a dozen of her
chicken`s eggs, she says the Braleys informed her not only did they not
want her eggs, but they had filed a formal complaint against her for the
The neighbors built a fence to hold her hens and chickens went home to
Bruce. But for Braley who was running against Republican Joni Ernst to
replace Tom Harkins, that`s when the feathers started flying because
ratting out one`s neighbor is simply not the Iowa way. And by crying foul,
Braley had given his opponent the perfect political ammunition for an
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: After a chicken crossed into his Iowa vacation
property, Braley threatened to sue his neighborhood. A true Iowan would
have talked to his neighbors but not trial lawyer Bruce Braley.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: That is genius.
FINNEY: It is genius.
HARRIS-PERRY: It`s genius.
FINNEY: And it shows, you know, again, you have to know the state that
you`re running in, whether you`re running for Congress, you`ve got to know
the district, for Senate, you`ve got to know the state. Those are the
kinds of cultural cues that people take and say he`s not one of us.
HARRIS-PERRY: Yes. And it`s razor-thin, we`re talking 49-48. Like
literally, a chicken and the chicken controversy could impact this race.
BELLANTONI: Absolutely. If it weren`t for his other problems this year,
this might not be as big of a deal but this is someone who has said that
trial lawyers are real great, has said that farmers, you know, perhaps
aren`t the best people to be running Senate committees and that doesn`t
And so, when something like this reinforces what people already suspect
about you, that`s not good. And slightly to bring it back to Hillary
Clinton, the Clintons are very engaged right now in what`s happening at the
Senate level and that`s one of the reasons she is in Iowa. She is paying
real close attention to this and I am most listening to what she says about
HARRIS-PERRY: And that take that, the chicken controversy, let`s compare.
I want to look for just a moment in case people have forgotten, Joni Ernst,
you know, hog commercial.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JONI ERNST (R), IOWA SENATORIAL CANDIDATE: I`m Joni Ernst. I grew up
castrating hogs on a farm so when I get to Washington, I`ll know how to cut
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BELLANTONI: OK. Memorable.
HARRIS-PERRY: I love that commercial. At the core of my soul for exactly
that reason, that it goes to this point.
MORRISON: I`d like a little bacon now.
MORRISON: You know, I have to tell you. I mean, I mentioned the 1,000
voters a week that we`re talking to right now. Joni Ernst hasn`t really
broken through with those folks. They have a good sense of who Bruce
Braley is and they also have a really good sense of the economic issues
that he that divide the two candidates.
She`s been all over the map in terms of some of the core economic issues of
Iowa and that`s going to create a challenge for her in terms of defining
who she is. At the end of the day, these commercials are really
entertaining. They are really entertaining, but it matters what happens in
SMITH: And the problem ends up being, because you talk to people on the
ground in Iowa and the whole Braley thing, well, they say actually, at
least his wife went over and talked to the neighbor first before this
happened and the neighbor said I came and offered these eggs. And this all
came out of nowhere. With the real truth nobody knows, it ends up this
kind of stereotype. So you have the -- for the stereotype and that`s
stereotype. And the folks in Iowa said there is so much outside money
right now being spent on both of these campaigns, with caricatures of both
of the candidates. And the reality of both of them is still somewhat
unknown to the people out there, because all they`re being inundated by
slam, slam, slam.
HARRIS-PERRY: And I wonder if this goes back to the point you are raising
earlier about Iowans taking their political responsibility seriously and
maybe even being irritated a bit by a stereotype that suggests that a hog
castration or chicken egg controversy would be sufficient to overcome their
BELLANTONI: They don`t like outsiders telling them what to do. Of course,
they want to be able to meet them and talk to them. And these candidates
are both out there constantly campaigning.
FINNEY: Although, you know, I just sat in on a focus group of working moms
this week from Des Moines, Iowa. It was mixed economic, swing voters,
Romney voters, Obama voters. What they remembered about Joni Ernst was
that commercial. They didn`t remember that much about Bruce Braley,
And to what Harry was saying, they felt so inundated by the negative ads,
but the thing is they -- because they remembered exactly the key points.
And what was most interesting, though, also was --
HARRIS-PERRY: I want you to pause real quick (INAUDIBLE) what the Walmart
mom a bit. Just help the viewers know what it is.
FINNEY: So basically, it`s a project being done with moms who shop at
Walmart from all over the country. And they have been doing this project
for a little over a year and it`s been -- this one specifically was
focusing on the races in Iowa and actually there was a group in Arkansas,
but they have done economic issues, they have done education issues, they
have done a range of issues.
So this group was specifically talking about what`s going on in Des Moines.
And what was interesting was they wanted to know more about what the
candidates stood for, they kept saying that. The one thing, the two things
that they kept talking about, though, school violence and ISIS. So this
idea -- which is part of what I think you`re seeing ads bringing in sort of
the tension and fear that people have of what`s going on outside.
HARRIS-PERRY: So it`s fascinating you say they could, you know, living in
North Carolina right now, there`s another big hotly contested Senate race
going on, the very first question in the Senate debate that was on our
local PBS channel was an ISIS question. Given that that is on the top of
people`s agenda and that Hillary Clinton`s most recent job was secretary of
state, will that in any way end up emerging as part of her Iowa story? I
know we`re talking steak fries, but are people going to be worried about --
FINNEY: If she should run, I think it depends where we are at that point
of the cycle. Because it`s just interesting that people -- they definitely
certainly had some economic concerns. And again, they wanted to hear more
from the candidates about that and education and their child`s future. But
the idea that this outside stuff was breaking through was really
fascinating. And it could be a factor in the 2016 elections, depending
upon where we end up.
BELLANTONI: That`s totally true. And just think of how quickly things
shift. Like the entire primary campaign for the Democrats in `08 was run
on the Iraq war. That she voted for it and Obama was against it. And the
election was about the economy after the crash in September. And so things
do really shift.
HARRIS-PERRY: And in 2012 President Obama was able to run as I am the
president that made sure Osama bin Laden is dead. But now anyone who
worked for him may be and you didn`t stop ISIS, right? It`s hard to say
where the narrative will go.
BELLANTONI: True. But the democratic sources that I talk to say that
economic issues again and again and again and again are what people care
about, what they`re feeling at home. And while they are worried about
this, they`re still voting on their pocketbooks.
MORRISON: You know, I`m actually completely in agreement with Christina.
In as much as we`re looking at voters, we are looking at the data coming in
from North Carolina, from Kentucky, from Iowa, from all of these states.
And despite the recent events, we haven`t really seen a shift in what
voters are prioritizing in terms of the issues they`re voting on.
Now, there are certain segments put the Walmart on, for example, where
security is a greater concern and I think this is certainly going to speak
to those voters, but when you`re thinking about what`s going to happen in
the midterms, and that`s the question before the voters right now, we`re
likely to see the economic issues continue to dominate that decision-
HARRIS-PERRY: Kay Hagan going win that Senate race?
MORRISON: I think so.
HARRIS-PERRY: OK. You can come back.
HARRIS-PERRY: Thank you to my panel, Harry Smith and Christina Bellantoni
and Matt Morrison who can come back because he just predicted that win.
Karen is going to be back with us in the next hour.
Still to come this morning, the NFL looking more and more beleaguered every
And why the most important thing Apple announced this week was far from a
watch or a bigger screen for your phone.
HARRIS-PERRY: As a former college player, my dad loved football. And when
I was a kid, he`d pull the chair right up to the front of the TV to watch.
So I learned to love the game watching with him. I still love the game.
I`m one of the 150 million fans who on any given Sunday can be found
cheering on their favorite professional football team. You all saw me last
week as I was wrapping up the show as I donned by New Orleans cap as I
prepared to watch my beloved Saints. And if you follow me on twitter, you
witnessed the agony I experienced during that horrifying overtime loss to
the Atlanta falcons.
I am among the women who make up an estimated 45 percent of the NFL`s fan
base. Yes, we like to watch. But it might be hard to feel good about
watching this weekend in the wake of the league`s fumbling of the Ray Rice
domestic abuse scandal, especially because these two guys are expected to
take the field today.
San Francisco defensive lineman Ray McDonald is scheduled to play today,
despite being arrested two weeks ago on charges of physically abusing his
fiancee. And for now, Greg Hardy, the defensive end for the Carolina
Panthers, is expected to play in the team`s home opener, even though he was
convicted in July of assaulting his former girlfriend and communicating
The league says it`s waiting to see what happens in his appeal. Hardy`s
ex-girlfriend, Nicole Holder, said that during an altercation, Hardy put
his hands around her throat. He looked me in my eyes and he told me he was
going to kill me, holder later testified. I was so scared, I wanted to
die. When he loosened his grip slightly, I said "just do it. Kill me."
Wednesday, the owner of Hardy`s team, Jerry Richardson, was accepting an
award for his business and civic contributions and broke down while
addressing the issue of domestic violence.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JERRY RICHARDSON, OWNER, PANTHERS: When it comes to domestic violence, my
stance is not one of indifference. I stand firmly against domestic
violence, plain and simple.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: But clearly, the NFL`s stance on domestic violence is not
plain and simple, and neither is the relationship between the league and
its fans. We may like to watch, but lately do we really like what we see?
We`ll have much more on that at the top of the hour.
But up next, cash, credit or tap?
HARRIS-PERRY: This week was the tech event of the year, the unveiling of
the next iteration of Apple`s iPhone, the iPhone 6 and 6-plus. When I say
tech event of the year, I mean it. Hundreds of people were there, 2.4
million tweets were sent at a peak of more than 32,000 tweets per minute.
And Apple didn`t just announce a new iPhone, but also revealed that a long-
rumored smartwatch will finally be a reality. And that Apple will get into
the payment business with Apple pay. Technology that will allow iPhone 6
users to pay by waving their phone at a special reader rather than swiping
a card or handing over cash.
Controlling the way people pay is potentially big business, and a lot of
mouths are watering. Amazon got in the game earlier this year with the new
card reader for mobile devices which will compete with square, a similar
company led by one of twitter`s co-founders. The big banks reportedly love
Apple pay and have already signed on, and it makes sense. They will take a
fee on all those Apple pay transactions, the same way they do on credit and
debit card swipes. And Apple will get a cut of those fees.
Swipes that already bring in nearly $50 billion a year to U.S. banks. If
the banks can replace even more of those no-profit cash transactions with
Apple pay, all the better for them.
Joining me now from Washington, D.C., is Hayley Tsukayama who is a
technology reporter for "the Washington Post."
So Hayley, tech companies love this idea of paying by smartphone and so do
the bankers. But is it any good for us as consumers?
HAYLEY TSUKAYAMA, TECHNOLOGY REPORTER, THE WASHINGTON POST: Well you know,
that`s a really good question. I think certainly if you look at the demo
that say we had, that we saw in San Francisco -- excuse me, in Cupertino
this week, it is convenient. You know, you don`t have to fumble with your
purse, take out your wallet, get your card out, swipe it, slide it back in,
you know, fumble with the receipt, it all happens in one smooth motion.
HARRIS-PERRY: Is it possible that I could be accidentally just walking
pass, you know, like a front counter and pay for somebody else`s
TSUKAYAMA: So the way that this system is set up, you do have to put your
thumb or your finger on the fingerprint reader to authenticate that so that
shouldn`t happen. And of course, I`m sure, you know, Apple is really
tested against that. So we will have to see.
HARRIS-PERRY: Well, speaking of things that shouldn`t happen, I mean, the
most recent reporting I`ve been doing on Apple isn`t about their great new
technology but rather about that icloud breach that allowed for these
photographs of celebrities, nude photos, personal photos to become public.
Is there reason to think, again, for concern for us as consumers that our
private card information could get out there the way that these photos of
celebrities, like Kate Upton and others, went out?
TSUKAYAMA: Certainly an understandable fear. You know, Apple hasn`t
exactly proven themselves great on cloud security in the past couple of
weeks. But with this data, first of all, there are more government
regulations, so they`re up for a much larger penalty than just consumer
sentiment loss in this case if they lose that information.
They have also built things into the system so that, for example, the card
number that`s used in the transaction when you`re at the register, when
you`re tapping to pay, is not actually linked to your real card number, the
one that`s printed on your credit card, and shouldn`t be linked to your
account number either. It`s a one-time transaction code.
HARRIS-PERRY: So some of what you`ve just told me there, you know,
obviously this technology is not brand new. Apple often just makes things
better, not necessarily creating something completely new. We know that
Google wallet and others have been using something similar. What is it
that makes this better, or is it any better?
TSUKAYAMA: Well so, what`s interesting about this particular system,
people have tried to come up with competing systems for awhile, there are
some retailers are backing, some that backs are banking, there are some
that mobile carriers have been backing.
What`s interesting about this is as you say Apple steps in. You know, they
kind of make everyone come in line. They have the banks on board. They
got the credit card companies on board. They got major retailers on board.
So sort of with that partnership kind of base between them, you know, this
makes them stand a really good chance of making this work.
HARRIS-PERRY: When I hear partnership base and you start naming all those
folks, my little -- the legal corn of my brain says, hmm, is this an
TSUKAYAMA: That`s also a really good question. I think, you know,
certainly Apple stepping into this space. They have they`re primed to be a
dominant player. But in terms of actual antitrust violations, I think
that`s a little bit harder to argue. You know, in a lot of cases or in
actually all cases for antitrust violations you need to show consumer harm,
price gouging, something like the DOJ alleged happened with Apple`s e-book
settlement and there`s no indication of that happening here in this case.
And Apple also faces still a lot of competition. Walmart, for example,
said that they will not participate in Apple pay. They have their own
competing system, currency based on the same sort of open source technology
that Apple is using here.
HARRIS-PERRY: But all of these, it seems to me, whether it`s Google wallet
or whether it`s Apple pay, they all seem to be based on kind of underlying
belief that paying with your credit card is somehow a broken system that
needs to be fixed or revolutionized. I mean you talked about it being sort
of just easier. But other than that, is there something wrong with our
current credit card system?
TSUKAYAMA: Well, we`ve certainly seen with credit card breaches, you know,
a lot this year. That the current payment system is not very secure.
There are machines that people can put into the readers to skim your credit
cards. We don`t have the same sort of chip system in our cards that we see
in Europe and other places around the world. And so there is something
sort of inherently insecure about the way that the U.S. in particular
processes payments. And so, I think, you know, people are looking for a
technological solution. Now, whether smartphones are the way to do that is
kind of up for debate.
HARRIS-PERRY: In Washington, D.C., Hayley Tsukayama, thank you so much for
your time this morning. And I know my daughter is putting iPhone 6 on her
Christmas list, so thank you.
TSUKAYAMA: She and millions of others. Thank you.
HARRIS-PERRY: Thanks so much.
Up next, the pile-up taking place right now in the NFL is happening nowhere
near the field.
And still ahead, we have black feminist icon, Ntozake Shange, author of
"for colored girls" joining us at the table.
There is more Nerdland at the top of the hour.
HARRIS-PERRY: Welcome back. I`m Melissa Harris-Perry and we have a lot to
get to this hour, including controversies embroiling the NFL.
But first, there`s growing outrage over the beheading of another western
civilian by the militant group ISIS. Last night ISIS released a video
purporting to show the execution of a British aid worker. This is a still
from the video which shows the murder of David Haines. The British Foreign
and Commonwealth Office says it believes the video is authentic. The 44-
year-old father of two was abducted in Syria in 2013. He was working with
a French Relief Agency in a refugee camp. Haines is the third western
hostage to be beheaded by ISIS in recent weeks. The first two were
American journalists. In a statement, President Obama called the latest
beheading a barbaric murder and promised the U.S. would work with its
allies to bring the perpetrators to justice. British Prime Minister David
Cameron echoed that sentiment this morning.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DAVID CAMERON, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: We need to understand we cannot
ignore this threat to our security and that of our allies. There is no
option of keeping our heads down that would make us safe. The problem
would merely get worse as it has done over recent months, not just for us,
but for Europe and for the world. We cannot just walk on buy if we are to
keep this country safe. We have to confront this menace.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: Stay with MSNBC throughout the day for the latest on this
But how we`re going to turn to football in America. As you are well aware,
today is Sunday, and the NFL on any given Sunday wants us focused on
football. That`s certainly how NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, wants it.
Watch the game, the strategy, the action, pay attention to the running, the
throwing, the hitting, you know, the stuff happening on the field and not,
say, in the NFL`s bank accounts. That`s where you`d see that the league
makes about $10 billion, with a b, dollars annually.
According to CNBC, much of that money is thanks to television. The
football we watch each weekend is available on TV because four networks,
including NBC, pay for it, amounting to $42 billion in total revenue
through 2022. Now, the league, not the member clubs, but the league has
been tax exempt since 1944. Other things the commissioner surely would
rather have you not thinking about before kickoff today, well, for one, Ray
Rice. The now former Baltimore Raven running back who knocked his future
wife unconscious in a casino elevator in February. He was suspended for
two games for his actions at first and then his team terminated his
contract and the league suspended him indefinitely after a second tape of
the actual punch surfaced on Monday.
Now the commissioner also probably doesn`t want you thinking about the head
trauma his players suffer either. The legions of retired players suing the
league for allegedly hiding the dangers of concussions or even what the
league itself now admits that it expects nearly a third of retired players
to develop long-term cognitive problems and that the conditions are likely
to emerge at notably younger ages than in the general population. Now, if
I were Commissioner Roger Goodell, I probably wouldn`t want you focusing on
the fact that several cheerleaders had to take their teams to court just to
get paid a fair wage. The league says cheerleader pay is a team matter.
If I were Roger Goodell, I wouldn`t want you focusing on my defense of Dan
Snyder, the Washington franchise owner, who wants to keep the team`s
racially offensive name.
And if I were Roger Goodell, I wouldn`t want you focused on Jerry Jones,
owner of the Dallas Cowboys, who`s now facing a civil lawsuit alleging he
sexually assaulted a woman and force her to watch a sex act performed on
him. An attorney for Jones calls the allegations completely false. And if
I`m Goodell today, I certainly don`t want you thinking about possibly the
best player in the league, a former MVP Adrian Peterson. The Minnesota
Vikings star was indicted in Texas on the charge of injury to a child. His
four-year-old son, who he spanked with a switch. Peterson turned himself
in on Saturday, was booked and released after he posted bail.
The Vikings deactivated him for today`s game. His attorney, Rusty Hardin,
issued this statement. Quote, "Adrian is a loving father who used his
judgment as a parent to discipline his son. He used the same kind of
discipline with his child that he experienced as a child growing up in East
Texas. It`s important to remember that Adrian never intended to harm his
son and deeply regrets the unintentional injury." Here`s what Montgomery
County District Attorney had to say on Saturday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PHIL GRANT, FIRST ASSISTANT DISTRICT ATTORNEY: There is a defense to
injury to a child and that is reasonable discipline. Obviously parents are
entitled to discipline their children as they see fit, except for when that
discipline exceeds what the community would say is reasonable. And so a
grand jury having indicted this case looked at the injuries that were
inflicted upon this child and determined that that discipline was not
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: The NFL with Roger Goodell as its leader may be enduring its
worst stretch of publicity ever. And while today may be Sunday, game day,
the action on the field for this now beleaguered league is hardly the thing
capturing anyone`s attention.
Joining me now is Jason Page, host of "Up Late with Jason Page" on NBC
Sports radio. Also MSNBC contributor Karen Finney, former NBA player and
radio host Etan Thomas, author of "Fatherhood: Rising to the Ultimate
Challenge" and -- I`m thinking about my poor husband with the baby that
won`t sleep and TV host, activist and former NFL quarterback Don McPherson.
Thank you so much for all being here today.
JASON PAGE, NBC HOST, "UP LATE WITH JASON PAGE": Have you got anything
HARRIS-PERRY: I know, I know. And, oh, yes, breaking news.
PAGE: Not everybody.
HARRIS-PERRY: Yes. So seriously, like how bad is this? I mean, you know,
major league teams have had problems before but is this particularly bad?
PAGE: Yes, it is. And what makes it so bad now is everybody is piling on
it. And I don`t see any way for the NFL -- I don`t know how you unravel
this at this point. It`s like when you go behind the TV and you find that
big jumbled mess of wires. And you`re like, oh yes, I`ll get to that
eventually. I, you know, un-jumbled this mess of wires right now if you`re
the NFL. I don`t know what the answer is.
HARRIS-PERRY: Do they have to unravel it? I mean, Karen, part of what I`m
wondering is, you know, radio play for R. Kelly increased during the time
that he was on trial potentially for -- or, you know, allegations for the
injury and rape of a child. You know, Chris Brown`s musical career has not
been hurt as a result of what we know about the domestic violence
circumstances he had with Rihanna. We have seen this week people -- women
who themselves are domestic violence survivors wearing Ray Rice jerseys.
Do they have to untangle the mess or does it work just as well without it,
they can all jumble it?
KAREN FINNEY, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: I think they do because the brand of the
NFL is about families, about, you know, families getting together and
watching the sport right together. The NFL has been trying specifically to
attract women. Yes, a few women may have taken Ray Rice`s side, but a lot
of women did not and were offended by the way this whole thing has been
handled. So, just from the perspective of the brand of the NFL, this is
not what you want because it feeds into that sense of entitlement and
violence, which are two issues that we`ve been dealing with professional
sports for a very long time.
HARRIS-PERRY: My experience with football is that kind of family
narrative. I mean, I came to love football because my dad was a high
school and a college player. On Sundays was one of the few times when my
workaholic dad would finally just sit down and pull that chair up. He`d
sit and watch, I`d sit on his lap and I learned to love the game as a
result. My own daughters now watch the game on Sundays with me. Can this
unravel the set of things? Would it potentially unravel NFL football, or
is it just too much emotional attachment?
DON MCPHERSON, FORMER NFL PLAYER: I think there`s a tremendous amount of
emotional attachment that will keep the NFL moving in the direction that
it`s been going, but Mark Cuban said this back in March, that the NFL was
being hoggish when you talk about that $42 billion in revenue and that was
going to create an implosion in the NFL. He thought it was going to happen
ten years from now. When I heard him say that, I thought about what`s
currently in the NFL, which are a lot of players who if you start to
scrutinize their behavior and people, when you start to scrutinize their
behavior, will not stand up to those family values, will not stand up to
what we`ve been sold in sports in general. This is not just an NFL issue.
We`ve been sold sports builds character and integrity and builds men for
others, it sounds very lofty goals about what sport does. Sport does not
do those things. That`s an illusion. That`s always been a live sports.
The guys of yesteryear whose lives were not scrutinized. The way today`s
lives is scrutinized. The guy is like Mickey Mantle and those guys, we
didn`t know about those personal lives. But when you start to pull back
the veil, you said pay no attention to the man behind the curtain like the
"Wizard of Oz." Pay no attention to the coward behind the curtain who`s
using smoke and mirrors to make himself look grand.
HARRIS-PERRY: But sports -- I have a question but let me pause because I
mean we know when we look at the data about sports participation that kids
are more likely to finish school. We know that girls who are involved in
team sports, part of why Title IX is so important, less likely to get
pregnant out of wedlock. I watch my own daughter who`s a seventh grader
running on the cross country team and being part of a team for the first
time, you know, it`s hugely important.
MCPHERSON: I know where you`re going at this and it makes sense. At the
fundamental levels why it was so great for women is because women did not
aspire to go to pro sports. Donald (ph) -- said years ago that if women
follow the male model of sports, that was her fear that was going to
happen, that women would follow the male model. If sports builds character
and integrity and all those great things, why do we see so many problems
the further you go up the food chain in the sports world.
HARRIS-PERRY: Are sports like hip-hop? In other words, is it destroyed by
money? I`m sorry, that was a little --
ETAN THOMAS, FORMER NBA PLAYER: First let me say thank you for having me
on the show.
HARRIS-PERRY: Of course.
THOMAS: I`m a big fan.
HARRIS-PERRY: Wow, thank you.
THOMAS: You know, we have to make sure that we understand that everything
that happened with Ray Rice, that doesn`t represent the entire NFL, the
same way that ISIS doesn`t represent all of Islam. The same way the KKK
doesn`t represent all of Christianity or the fundamentalists who are
praising what`s going on in Gaza right now, the murder of, what, 3,000
Palestinians, the Zionists, they don`t represent all of Judaism. So we
can`t extrapolate too far and think that this is Ray Rice. OK? Now, there
have been other instances as well but we have to also remember that in
society as a whole right now, domestic violence is a serious issue.
HARRIS-PERRY: OK. So I`m with you. Ray Rice doesn`t represent the NFL.
But the commissioner`s decisions post Ray Rice literally represent the NFL.
THOMAS: But this is the thing, though. We can`t have selective outrage.
Because domestic violence is not a new issue, you know what I mean? We
have to also understand that, you know, the statistics right here in our
society, one out of four women in society as a whole are victims of
domestic violence. That`s not a Ray Rice problem, that`s a societal
HARRIS-PERRY: Right, so I`m on that in the sense that like here we are
asking, how many abusers are going to take the field today. And I`m
thinking how many abusers are going to walk into the halls of Congress
tomorrow, how many abusers are going to take to the air waves tonight.
That is a truth.
FINNEY: But I think where you`re going is when you talk about professional
sports, and you know, I went to UCLA and you know, PAC-10 football, those
boys got everything and anything they wanted. Why? Because they`re a
revenue generator for the school. The NFL with the level of profits that
they`re making, I think there is a lot of behavior. I agree with you that
not -- I think sports does do great things. It did great things for me, it
does great things for a lot of people, but it`s the institution. This is
again, I think, the example of an institution trying to protect itself and
its profits. I think that`s where the tension comes in and maybe there was
-- there have been, you know, excusing certain behaviors rather than
saying, no, we are going to demand more from our players.
HARRIS-PERRY: Stick with me, we`ve got more on this. But as we go to
break, I want to play a clip of Vice President Joe Biden talking to my
colleague, Tamron Hall, earlier this week for the "Today" show.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
VICE PRES. JOE BIDEN (D), UNITED STATES: And then when the video was out
there and saw how brutal it was, the Ravens did the right thing, fired him
immediately. Now, you can argue they should have done it sooner, they
didn`t want it, whatever the reason is, it`s happening.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: While the focus is on Ray Rice right now, he is not the only
NFL player to be accused of domestic violence. But unlike Rice, some
others are expected to take the field today, including for now Greg Hardy,
number 76, a defensive end for the Carolina Panthers, who was convicted of
abusing and threatening to kill his ex-girlfriend, Nicole Holder. Hardy
has denied the allegation and the NFL says, it is awaiting the outcome of
Hardy`s pending appeal. Wednesday the owner of the Panthers, Jerry
Richardson, grew emotional while addressing the issue of domestic violence.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JERRY RICHARDSON, CAROLINA PANTHERS OWNER: To those who would suggest that
we`ve been too slow to act, I ask that you consider not to be too quick to
judge. Over the course of our 25 years -- 20 years, we have worked
extremely hard to build an organization of integrity.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: Well, the team may have some work to do. An editorial in
"The Charlotte Observer" makes this observation. Quote, "The reason Hardy
still plays while star running back Ray Rice was cut from the Baltimore
Ravens and suspended by the NFL indefinitely, video. There`s a video of
Rice knocking out his girl friend but no video so far of Hardy grabbing
Holder by the hair and clutching her throat. Is that what it takes to make
folks to do the right thing?" I have been arguing on this show for taking
Janay Rice seriously as a decision-maker, as an adult person within the
context of all of this, but the Adrian Peterson thing takes me to a
different place. I recognize it is all still alleged at this point, but --
my capacity to cry about something would occur in the context of at least
of what I`ve seen, again also allegations of that child`s potential or
alleged injuries, and yet there are so many people defending it as
THOMAS: Well, let me say this. There is a place where that comes from and
we have to understand where it actually stems from. Now during slavery,
the slave master would beat the slaves mercilessly, you know, with whips,
tie them to a tree in front of everybody, and that got passed down in our
culture to how we handled our own children. And it`s a sickness. It`s
something that we have to rid ourselves of. And this is something -- and
before, I can even say before I`m not, you know, FOX News, I`m sure they`re
saying also what you`re trying to blame what Adrian Peterson did on
slavery. OK, all right. It`s deeper than that. I`m not blaming it. It`s
the same thing that happened with the fascination of Michael Vick and the
There`s a reason why that came from. You know, that`s the way they used to
do us when we were the slavery but we were the dogs. So, we have to
understand where that actually came from and how we have to rid ourselves
of that. Now, that being said, my mother was a single parent. Right? I
had my mom raised me and my brother by herself. She had to enforce the
rules, and she would enforce whatever way that we would understand it.
Now, I never looked like the pictures and everybody saw the pictures. They
were actually horrendous and he`s four-years-old. That`s absolutely
amazing. But my mother had times where she had to use the paddle. She had
to spank me. She had to let me know that, listen, these are the rules.
You cannot be disrespectful, you have to learn how to treat women, all of
those things and I am thankful for it right now, but there`s a difference
between discipline and abuse. All discipline is not abuse and abuse has
absolutely nothing to do with discipline.
HARRIS-PERRY: Right. So I hear you on both a long-term sort of cultural
inequities that create patterns of violence and more recent context of
practices in our households that lead us to make parenting choices. That
said, Don, it`s also true that racism and patriarchy and beating one`s wife
were also normative behaviors at a certain point and it took us
collectively, not just individuals making different decisions but
collectively saying, you know what, in our society we`re going to say no to
MCPHERSON: That`s right, that`s right. And I think to Etan`s point,
that`s old school parenting, that`s old school discipline. There`s a
history my father was the same way. There`s a history that comes along
with that. However, as each generation progresses, we get better. We
learn, we evolve, we start to make out some of those things that did not
belong in our culture and our society. And that`s the problem that I have
with what`s going on in the NFL. And what I meant before about how we`re
not doing a good enough job raising and training these young men while
they`re in school. Adrian Peterson went to the University of Oklahoma,
outstanding institution. Where was the socialization that taught him how
to behave in the larger society where it says if you beat your child like
this, it is a crime? So we`re not doing a good enough job of raising these
guys so that they can carry that mantle where we start putting their jersey
on young kids.
HARRIS-PERRY: All right, so part then, and this could -- so if you`re
going to make a connection that far back, right? If you`re going back to
an antebellum moment, let me just go to a much more recent one.
HARRIS-PERRY: We love watching these people hit guys on Sundays. We cheer
for it, we put bumper stickers on our car, bring back our bounty saints.
Right? We love --
PAGE: She`s still feeling it.
HARRIS-PERRY: I have a lot of emotions about last week. So we love to
watch these guys hit people. So is it surprising then, right? If we can
make a tie back to an antebellum, would it be surprising that if they are
rewarded for hitting people, you know, on Sundays that on Monday through
Saturday we might also see hitting?
PAGE: Yes, but going back to something Etan said a little earlier, it`s
not every player.
PAGE: You`re still talking about the tiniest percentage of the league that
is involved in these things. And I`ll go back even further back and say
this. As somebody who does a show five hours a day, five days a week, fans
MCPHERSON: They don`t.
PAGE: I hate to be the one to break this all to you.
HARRIS-PERRY: I know.
PAGE: They don`t care. I can`t count the number of tweets, the number of
phone calls that I get from people saying stop talking about it, please.
HARRIS-PERRY: You`re being politically correct, just tell me who is going
to win. Yes, right. The Saints are going to beat the Browns, and that`s
what we care about.
PAGE: Over and over and over. And there`s one other thing here that Don
talked about in the first segment. The implosion, this idea that the NFL
is going to implode because of the money and all these different issues.
No. What`s going to make it implode? I don`t see sponsors backing out
based on the way the NFL has handled this domestic violence. If sponsors
don`t back out, the money still coming in. The owners are happy. They`re
not going to get rid of Roger Goodell. What`s the impetus for change?
HARRIS-PERRY: OK. I have a potential answer to that.
HARRIS-PERRY: When we come back, I am going to suggest what I think will
make the NFL change. It`s going to be a surprising answer to you. And
also still to come, Ntozake Shange is coming to "Nerd Land." Don`t miss
HARRIS-PERRY: All right, so some ancient history here. Back in 1996 when
the New England Patriots drafted Christian Peter, the owner, Robert Kraft`s
wife upon finding out about his history of violence against women demanded
that he be released. And he was the first NFL draft pick ever released
before training camp. So here is my answer to your question. What if
Condoleezza Rice became the commissioner of the NFL? Would that be the
impetus for change?
MCPHERSON: Are you looking for transparency?
HARRIS-PERRY: I`m not so much looking for transparency. I am suggesting
that a woman would be -- and Condie is the only woman I know who is very
openly said, I want to be the commissioner of the NFL. You went to a
MCPHERSON: Sorry about that.
FINNEY: The point I think you`re getting at is really important, and that
is we know that violence against women is underreported. Women, part of
the reason they don`t come forward is they don`t think they`re going to be
believed, so I think we have no idea how bad the numbers really are in
professional sports. And you know, you were talking about sort of building
character, but also I go back to from high school, from college, kids are
rewarded for how violent you hit, right? Like you`re saying, we watch
that. You`re rewarded for that. So then there`s a level of violence and
we don`t teach people -- how do you deal with that when you`re then dealing
with a confrontation with your kid or your spouse. I think there`s that
problem. But I also think that someone like a Condoleezza Rice or a woman
in general is going to be more sensitive and more aware of the fact that
this is a much bigger --
HARRIS-PERRY: I`ve got a full hmm-mm.
FINNEY: All right. But I think, you know, the bigger opportunity that I
think the NFL has here is we`ve talked a lot about punishment. But how
about intervention. How about trying to take this family and say, you know
what, we`re going to help you, Ray Rice, learn different behaviors. We`re
going to help you, Janay, understand why it`s not your fault you got
HARRIS-PERRY: OK. I don`t know that I want the NFL doing that work. Like
it makes me nervous to think of the NFL as being the arbiter -- or actually
anyone`s employer, NBC Universal, I don`t know if I want them to be the
arbiter. In fact I was irritated that 16 women senators sent a letter to
Roger Goodell saying, we need a zero tolerance policy. And I get it. But
to go to your point about it`s everywhere, I could think in, well, lady
senator people, that`s nice when you want to have a zero tolerance policy,
how about a zero tolerance policy on cutting food aid and a zero tolerance
policy on voting against reproductive rights because all those are
precisely the things that put women into the circumstances that then allow
the domestic violence to continue. I`m just like are we kind of baptizing
ourselves and feeling better because the NFL is the violent place.
FINNEY: But particularly in the case of the NFL and this happened with
Michael Vick, right? That my point is the leverage you have. You want to
come play again, there`s the leverage to say, all right, here`s what you
would have to do for us to consider it.
THOMAS: But it`s hypocritical, though. That`s selective outrage. You
look at the Alabama federal judge, Mark Fuller right now. That he was
accused and he actually did it. He beat his wife in an Atlanta hotel last
month. Now, you didn`t see that on the news. You didn`t see that as a big
HARRIS-PERRY: And right now, because he`s got lifetime tenure --
THOMAS: Lifetime tenure.
HARRIS-PERRY: There`s every reason to believe he`ll be staying on the
THOMAS: You talked about the video before. There was an officer, you`re
talking about crimes against women. There was an officer in California,
Daniel and I forget his last name --
HARRIS-PERRY: Oklahoma, Holtzclaw.
THOMAS: No, no, no, no. Not the one who is abusing all the women, another
one who was beating the woman on the side of the highway.
HARRIS-PERRY: Oh, yes. You can name a lot of stories.
THOMAS: And you saw videotape of it was my point. But he got paid
administration leave, which is a paid vacation, the same paid vacation that
officer Darren Wilson is on who killed Mike Brown over a month ago.
HARRIS-PERRY: But I mean, I love this point, we make ourselves feel better
by having rage about this space, but it is precisely because of what the
NFL is to us. It is precisely because it is the place where we want to
bring our kids, wear the jerseys, and feel good and get our Americana on.
The fact that the Congress is a mess, we knew that. And, you know, the
fact that the police are kind of a mess, at least some of us already knew
that. But we want football to be the place where we can all come together
and then suddenly --
MCPHERSON: Yes. And that`s the piece -- I don`t think it`s selective rage
for people like myself who have been involved in the prevention of violence
against women for the last 20 years, this is not selective rage, this is
HARRIS-PERRY: Just rage.
MCPHERSON: -- right, that has been going on for a long time. And so what`s
going to be rage for those of us who care about this issue is when this
becomes a story about the NFL. And this is not a story about the NFL.
What happened in that elevator was not an NFL moment.
HARRIS-PERRY: No, it`s Janay Rice`s moment.
MCPHERSON: Exactly. And so, that`s where the attention needs to be placed
and the NFL needs to handle its business. I don`t think Roger Goodell
should lose his job. I think he should be kept in place and held
accountable for upholding the rules of the NFL.
HARRIS-PERRY: You don`t want to see Condie Rice be the NFL commissioner?
When we come back, I`m going to ask whether or not we`re being overly rage
full about a memo that had some people stressed out. But I read it out and
felt differently. Still to come, the utterly confusing Atlanta Hawks
HARRIS-PERRY: Top ten best-selling NBA jerseys last season, LeBron James
and Kevin Durant. Kobe Bryant and Derrick Rose. Steven Kerr and Carmelo
Anthony. Dwyane Wade, Chris Paul, Kyrie Irving and James Harden. Notice a
theme? All black men. Like more than three-quarters of the league`s
players. And yet one soon-to-be former team owner who has profited thanks
to African-American players on the court suggested that the way to even get
more profits is to get black fans out of the stands because in his mind a
white fan will buy a black man`s jersey but won`t sit next to him at the
game. So is that racially problematic thinking or just savvy marketing?
HARRIS-PERRY: Last Sunday the owner of the Atlanta Hawks basketball team
Bruce Levenson, announced he would sell the team. A sort of penance for
sending a certain e-mail back in 2012. Levinson`s e-mail focused on
demographics, specifically how to sell more season tickets, and Levenson
said he had been told by the primary buyers of season tickets are middle-
aged white guys.
Levenson himself, a middle-aged white guy wrote, quote, "I start looking
around our arena during the games and notice the following. It`s 70
percent black. The cheerleaders are black, the music is hip-hop. At the
bars it`s 90 percent black. There are few fathers and sons at the games.
We are doing after game concerts to attract more fans and the concerts are
either hip-hop or gospel. And then, my theory is that the black crowd
scared away the whites and there are simply not enough affluent black fans
to build a significant season ticket base. The solution, I want some white
cheerleaders. And while I don`t care what the color of the artist is, I
want the music to be music familiar to a 40-year-old white guy, if that`s
our season tixs demo. I have also balked when every fan picked out of the
crowd to shoot some shots in the time out contest is black. I have even
bitched that the kiss cam is too black."
Now, I know that sounds kind of like racist but when I read the whole thing
it feels more like a kind of marketing memo. And at various points when
he`s talking about racist it sounds more like he`s saying bad things about
white Atlantans who don`t want to sit next to black folks and he is
actually about black folks but you read it differently.
THOMAS: Of course. You know, I played for the Hawks and --
-- shout out to Jeff Teague and Al Horford, the two Hawks that were still
there when I was there in 2011. And I looked at that and it sounded very
familiar. I remember hearing integration, a lot of the talk was just, you
know, this is just business. It`s not that we don`t like you, it`s not
that we`re raising against you, it`s just your black face is going to bring
down our property value. So, we don`t want you moving into our white
neighborhood. And you know, you can`t hide behind the umbrella of it`s
just business right now in 2014, you just can`t. I mean, you can make the
same cases saying, OK, no slavery. Well, it really wasn`t that we thought
you were less of a human being and we were able to, you know, make you
human chattel, it was just business.
It was profitable for us to be able to do this and build our country on
your backs. So we can`t excuse and say that, OK, it`s racism in the form
of business but we can`t say it doesn`t have anything to do with racism and
is not racism at all. And you have to understand, what he did is the same
exact thing that -- from the Clippers Donald Sterling and his wife Shelly
Sterling were doing when they said they don`t want black or brown people to
move into their apartment complexes which resulted in one of the biggest
settlements of discrimination in California history, if not the biggest, so
there`s a definite racial component that we can`t deny.
PAGE: But if you`re bringing this all the way back to the NBA and you read
through that memo again and what he`s saying, he`s trying to make money.
It`s a business, he`s trying to make money. What is he supposed to do?
The fans don`t go to games. You know that. The attendance there is
abysmal. He`s looking at trying to find ways to bring more people into
that arena, spend money when they`re in the arena. What would you suggest
he do if not make the suggestions he`s making?
THOMAS: OK. Well, he used the example of the Washington wizards, who I
also played for. And when the Wizards were winning more, more people came.
You know, of course I played there when Michael Jordan was there but I saw
right before Michael Jordan where we won 19 games something like that, and
the attendance was down. You know, so there`s different things that
happened. Right now they`re in the playoffs. Right now they`re doing
better. You know, things are doing better in Atlanta. But for him to use
the actual example of changing, whitening up the entire arena, whitening up
the cheerleaders, whitening up everything like that is in the form of a
HARRIS-PERRY: OK. So this is interesting to me like because in part I
always want to think of racism as something that is about policy and
actions and power. And I want us to stay focused on that. So the Donald
Sterling is such a good point that you bring up. He ends up having to sell
the team as a result of words he says, not as a result of the massive
housing settlement, which to me is far more important than the words that
he says. And so when I look at this memo, I think, yes, there`s some
problematic stuff going on here, but I also don`t want it to be that a
racial analysis equals racism. Right? So even if it comes to a different
conclusion, in part because I feel like, you know, those are the critiques
often leveled at me and others. If you talk about race, then you are
inherently racist, is there a way to tease yourself, or you`re race
FINNEY: Well, I mean, look, I think if you read the home memo, I mean, I
sort of agree with both perspectives. Number one, I mean, he`s a
businessman. Right? He`s trying to figure out how am I going to make more
HARRIS-PERRY: But so too were slave owners.
FINNEY: Yes, true. And you know, we buy tickets and we go to basketball.
I mean that is -- that is his business. And I think, you know, there is a
racial component to that, there`s a reality to that. I would have liked to
see him talk about it maybe more from a -- get the data. You know, have
the facts. Don`t just make your own assessment about, you know, too many
blacks on the kiss cam and too much rap music. I mean, I know plenty of
white folks who listen to rap music --
HARRIS-PERRY: Actually --
FINNEY: That`s an observable fact.
HARRIS-PERRY: No, no. But actually more white folks do listen to hip-hop.
Like I mean particularly in Atlanta, one might not --
THOMAS: Not this one.
HARRIS-PERRY: Yes. Well, but look here. So maybe -- maybe both can be
true at the same time. Maybe it is both that there was a racial analysis,
which is not itself inherently racist, but that the solution --
HARRIS-PERRY: -- which is the solution to a racial problem is to get rid of
the black folks is a deeply problematic racialized solution.
THOMAS: But the facts won`t even support what he`s saying. Because the
fact is that more white people do listen to hip-hop as far as the numbers -
- percent of the population.
FINNEY: It seems like he kind of popped off -- here`s what I`m thinking.
HARRIS-PERRY: Yes. It`s not even well capitalized.
FINNEY: I want to study the problem of how do we need to increase ticket
sales, how do we do that? Can we find more affluent African-Americans if
that`s who`s coming?
HARRIS-PERRY: But the truth is, here`s my real theory. My theory is this
guy wanted to sell the team and he saw that Don Sterling got to sell his
team for being racist and he was like I wonder if I got anything I ever had
wrote that was racist so I can sell my team, because who tells on
themselves about an e-mail they sent two years ago.
FINNEY: He tried selling the team three years ago.
HARRIS-PERRY: But he hadn`t written the racist e-mail three years ago.
PAGE: He looks at how much Donald Sterling got for the Clippers. And
remember, that team was only evaluated for $500 million, he got $2 billion.
I think the Hawks are for like 425. They`ll get more than that.
HARRIS-PERRY: That is my kind of punishment, please punish me for being
racist, I`d like two billion.
Thank you to my panel, Jason Page and Karen Finney, also Etan Thomas and
Up next, I am seriously about to check a box on my black feminist bucket
list. Ntozake Shange is here.
HARRIS-PERRY: After Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson shot and killed
Michael Brown, this show took a moment to remember some of the other
unarmed black men who have died at the hands of police. What we didn`t do,
we did not name any black girls or women. Girls like Iona Stanley Jones,
the seven-year-old shot by police while sleeping on the couch when they
raided her home in Detroit, Michigan, in 2010. Women like Shawna Francis
who suffered with mental illness and died in 2012 after being handcuffed
and held face down by the police who were responding to her sister`s call
for help in getting her to the hospital. It is too easy and too common to
mark racial suffering only with men`s stories.
Trayvon, but not Renisha. Ferguson, but not Oklahoma. We must assert.
Black women matter. And no single work of artistry has been more
influential for establishing that black women matter than Ntozake Shange`s
choreopoem "For Colored Girl Who`ve Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is
Enuf." The first stage in Berkeley, California in 1974, this year is the
40th anniversary of "For Colored Girls" which unflinchingly forces
audiences to contend with the brutality, complexity and sheer humanity of
black women`s lives in their own words.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NTOZAKE SHANGE, PLAYWRIGHT "FOR COLORED GIRLS": Because I had convinced
myself that colored girls have no right to sorrow. And I lived and loved
just that way and kept sorrow on the curb, allegedly for you, but now I
know I did it for myself because I just couldn`t stand it. I couldn`t
stand being sorry and colored at the same time. It`s so redundant in the
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: "For Colored Girls," it won an Obie Award in 1977 and
received Tony, Grammy and Emmy nods. It has been staged across the world
from college campuses to Broadway. It inspired the title of my own second
book, "Sister Citizen: For Colored Girls Who`ve Considered Politics When
Being Strong Isn`t Enough." And on September 19th, the New York Public
Library Schomburg Center for Research and Black Culture will begin
celebrating the choreopoem`s 40th anniversary with an exhibition called "I
Found God in Myself."
I`m so thrilled to welcome to the table the incomparable Ntozake Shange,
author of "For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow
SHANGE: Well, thank you, Melissa.
HARRIS-PERRY: This is such an honor. Because I remember when the
choreopoem opened in Richmond, Virginia.
HARRIS-PERRY: And my father who had an extraordinary person, a lot of
ways, nonetheless had a lot of anxiety about it. Because it displays an
unflinching wave of violence that black women experience at the hands of
black men. Over the years, how did you manage with that particular
critique that you were somehow telling the race`s business?
SHANGE: Well, in the United States census, it`s not as if it was a secret.
And I think what (INAUDIBLE) towards wanting to express my feelings about
women in situations where they were in danger was from one apartment
building to the next and discovering in every building there was a
batterer. And every building I lived in, there was someone who was beating
his girlfriend or his wife, and I could hear her screams. And it disturbed
me to the extent that one day I just started writing about that. And
that`s how I came to write Beau Willie Brown.
HARRIS-PERRY: The Beau Willie Brown, I went back and was reading it this
week in the context of preparing to discuss the Ray Rice and Janay Rice
story. It is brutal, for those who have not seen or read "Colored Girls."
The end of it when the children die is a --
HARRIS-PERRY: -- of the abuse. How have you been responding to the Rice
SHANGE: Well, I`m very disturbed with the NFL and with Ray Rice. Because
the kind of egregious violence that he manifests on Janay Rice is activated
assault. And it should be punished by jail, not by a loss of your NFL
HARRIS-PERRY: It`s so key. If she were not his beloved. If this weren`t
domestic. If he had perpetrated that violence on another man who was a
stranger, it would be a very different story.
SHANGE: Right. Exactly.
HARRIS-PERRY: When I realized that even here in this black feminist space
that we like to think of "Nerd Land" as being -- that we had talked about
the death of black men without talking about that of black women.
HARRIS-PERRY: I go back to the end of the poem that "I Found God in Myself
and I loved Her Fiercely." Why is it so hard for us as black women to love
our god inside of ourselves?
SHANGE: Because it`s been beat out of us not to be flippant. But we`ve
been told all the time the danger men were in. And they are in danger.
And we can`t deny that. But because the men are in danger doesn`t mean
that we have to bear our vulnerability as a sin. Our vulnerability comes
because we`re human. And the fact that some men take advantage of us when
we`re into situations is, is fodder for the lackadaisical attitude people
take toward battered women.
HARRIS-PERRY: As some of my whole carrier on college campuses, almost 40
years later, they`re still performing this. Why do you think it still
carries over four decades? Is it because the violence is still so
prevalent that it`s still such a marker for who we are?
SHANGE: I think it`s gotten worse. I know about 30 years ago, I wrote a
poem about rape, and the statistics from the FBI said that rapes happen
every two minutes and 51 seconds. I rounded that out to three minutes and
now it`s even worse. Rapes occur more frequently than they did 30 years
HARRIS-PERRY: I find that -- I find that horrifying. That for 40 years,
this play, this has existed telling these stories. And yet, things get
HARRIS-PERRY: Not better. But I appreciate the strength and power of your
voice and I want you to know it has meant so much to me in my work and I
appreciate you being here today.
SHANGE: Oh, thank you.
HARRIS-PERRY: Ntozake Shange, thank you for joining us this morning. I
also want to offer one correction. In my introduction to this segment, it
was Charice Francis who died in 2012. I apologize, it was her sister
Shawna who have been trying to help her. And we mistakenly reversed those
two names in our conversation.
That`s our show for today. Thanks to you at home for watching. We`re
going to be back next Saturday at 10:00 a.m. Eastern. But right now, it`s
time for a preview of "WEEKENDS WITH ALEX WITT." Hi, Alex.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY
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