'The Melissa Harris-Perry Show' for Saturday, September 20th, 2014
Read the transcript to the Saturday show
Show: MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY
Date: September 20, 2014
DORIAN WARREN, MSNBC HOST: This morning my question. Is it too little too
late to curve the deadly Ebola outbreak? Plus, NFL commissioner Roger
Goodell`s stunning press conference. And the man who broke the color
barrier in pro sports before Jackie Robinson. But first, the president`s
authority and Congress` responsibility when going to war.
Good morning. I`m Dorian Warren in for Melissa Harris-Perry. We have
breaking news from the Middle East this morning. Dozens of Turkish
hostages who had been held by ISIS in Iraq since June have been released.
They returned this morning to Ankara at the cheering crowds. It was fear
for the hostages` safety that has kept Turkey from getting directly
involved in the fight against ISIS. And that fight, of course, has been
led by the United States. And this week Congress voted on that very fight,
agreeing to authorize the United States military to train and arm Syrian
rebels. It was the first fulfillment of a request made by President Obama
as part of a broader battle against the group known as ISIS. The support
was overwhelming. A vote of 319 to 108 in the House and 78 to 22 in the
Senate. We heard Republicans saying things in support of the president and
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R), OHIO, SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: I frankly think the
president`s request is a sound one. I think there`s a lot more that we
need to be doing. But there`s no reason for us not to do what the
president asked us to do.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What would our enemies and allies think if we rejected
the president`s authority to do this? I urge support of this amendment and
I yield it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WARREN: So yes, Congress did something in between its vacations. And
that`s news in itself. The president was quick to portray the votes as
evidence that America is united behind this campaign to destroy ISIS.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: The strong
bipartisan support in Congress for this new training effort shows the world
that Americans are united in confining the threat from ISIL.
These terrorists thought they could frighten us or intimidate us or cause
us to shrink from the world, but today they`re learning the same hard
lesson of petty tyrants and terrorists who have gone before. As Americans,
we do not give into fear. And when you harm our citizens, when you
threaten the United States, when you threaten our allies, it doesn`t divide
us. It unites us.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WARREN: But here is what Congress did not do. Congress did not authorize
airstrikes against ISIS in Iraq. Congress did not greenlight airstrikes
against ISIS in Syria. Congress did not give permission to the president
to wage war against ISIS. But the president didn`t ask for their
permission. This is the same president who as a candidate spoke very
clearly about the limits on a president`s power to go to war. In one
interview with the "Boston Globe" in 2007, then Senator Obama said, quote,
"The president does not have power under the Constitution to unilaterally
authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping
an actual or imminent threat to the nation," and yet here we are.
Despite President Obama`s repeated statements that ISIS does not pose an
immediate threat to the nation the war has already begun. United States
Central Command has already launched 176 airstrikes across Iraq. And the
Pentagon has a plan in place when the president orders attacks in Syria.
But this is not just a President Obama issue. Every president is faced
with the question of whether to go to war. And often an unrelenting push
to say yes, whether or not Congress approves. In 1983, under President
Reagan, the United States invaded the Caribbean Island of Granada without
asking for authorization by Congress. In 1989, the first President Bush
ordered thousands of U.S. combat troops into Panama, again without asking
Congress. In 1999 President Clinton sent the military to assist NATO in
the war in Kosovo. Congress debated several resolutions that would have
authorized the mission to different degrees and some that would have
prohibited military action, but never came to a consensus. President
George W. Bush got congressional approval for both of his wars against al
Qaeda and against that Hussein regime in Iraq. But the Bush administration
also took the view that under the Constitution, the president could
unilaterally make war in order to prevent any future attacks on any
American at home or overseas.
It was President Bush`s excesses, in fact, that helps set up President
Obama to make history.
But it`s precisely the urge of commander-chiefs to go to war. But the
founders tried to protect against. The Constitution splits the power to go
to war between the president and Congress, so it is not just one person who
makes the decision of whether to bring an entire country to the
battlefield. As then Senator Obama said when he was running for
president, "It is always preferable to have the informed consent of
Congress prior to any military action."
Joining me now from Washington is NBC News White House correspondent
Kristen Welker. Kristen, is the president feeling any pressure to come
back to Congress later this year and ask for broader authorization for the
war against ISIS, and is there any indication he`s planning to do that?
KRISTEN WELKER, NBC CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think he`s feeling the
pressure, Dorian. But there`s absolutely no indication that he`s planning
to do that at this point in time. Well, President Obama has said that he
believes he has the authority to act unilaterally. To wage these
airstrikes against ISIS targets in Iraq and Syria because of legislation
that was signed under George W. Bush in 2001, which essentially gives the
president the authority to go after al Qaeda and its affiliates. This
White House argues that ISIS is an affiliate of al Qaeda. But of course,
ironically President Obama has argued that that legislation should be
repealed. So the White House finds itself walking a very fine line right
now rhetorically. But when it comes to that pressure, Dorian, it is
mounting. More and more lawmakers are saying that they want a vote.
Lawmakers in the Senate. Senator Tim Kaine introducing legislation that
would give the Senate and Congress a vote on whether or not the president
can move forward with military action. And a group of bipartisan members
of the House urging leaders Pelosi and House Speaker John Boehner to bring
legislation to the floor that would give President Obama the military
authority, the authority to wage military action against ISIS. So, what I
can tell you is that pressure is mounting. Lawmakers are saying they are
going to debate this if they want to vote on it when they come back in
November, but there`s no indication that they are actually going to do
anything more than debate. That`s the big question mark and that`s what
we`ll have to see when they get back from their recess, Dorian.
WARREN: So after November, of course. After the midterm elections.
Kirsten, I just want to shift gears for a moment and ask you about last
night. Someone was able to jump the White House fence and actually get
inside the White House and you were there. Can you tell us what happened?
WEILKER: Well, it was stunning. As you say, someone who has been
identified by Secret Service as 42-year-old Omar Gonzalez jumped the fence
of the White House last night at 7:20 p.m. He ran all the way up the north
lawn. And the stunning part is that he made it into the doors of the
portico. So essentially entered into the residence of the White House. He
was apprehended immediately right after he walked through those doors. And
the first family wasn`t home at the time. They had already left for Camp
David. But this is clearly a huge breech, Secret Service say that it is
not at all acceptable that he was apprehended in that location. So,
they`re launching a large investigation to determine exactly what happened
and to try to prevent it from happening in the future. Dorian.
WARREN: NBC`S Kristen Welker at the White House. Thank you.
I want to come back now to the issue of executive authority and bring in my
panel here in New York. Ryan Goodman, professor of law at New York
University and co-editor of the national security blog Just Security. Amy
Davidson, executive editor of newyorker.com. And Bob Herbert,
distinguished fellow at Demos. Distinguished senior fellow at Demos. So I
want to turn to you first, Ryan. Does the president have authority for this
RYAN GOODMAN, PROF. OF LAW, NEW YORK UNIVERSITY: Unfortunately not. So,
the best argument by the administration so far has been that the
authorization was given right after 9/11 in this 2001 Congressional
statute. But that theory doesn`t hold up. In fact, I would even put it
this way. The theory that they`ve articulated had never been heard before
- so, before last week. And the idea that ISIS as a part of al Qaeda is a
real stretch for a number of reasons. First, they didn`t even exist on
9/11. Second, the two groups have fallen out with each other. Everybody
acknowledges that. Secretary Kerry said it was a political stunt,
something like a rebranding. But it`s no political stunt, the two groups
are actually fighting each other. They are in some sense mortal enemies
right now in Syria. So it`s a little difficult to call them part of al
Qaeda, a successor to al Qaeda when in fact they`re up against each other.
WARREN: So, Amy, I want to bring you in to this - to it. Why is it
important for us to believe the president might be acting legally? And
does it matter anyway when the majority of Americans support this plan and
we have a recent poll that shows that 62 percent of Americans actually
support the president`s decision on ISIS. 22 percent oppose it. Does it
even matter if you have a legal authority and why?
AMY DAVIDSON, EXEC., EDITOR, NEWYORKER.COM: It matters a great deal.
WARREN: And why?
DAVIDSON: Well, because the law matters. Because the Constitution
matters. Because of how - what we call these conflicts matters. It also
matters because it distorts how we go into it. In order for the president
to say that he has the authority to do this he said that ISIS is what
isn`t. And he`s also said that this conflict is what it isn`t in order to
not get into position where anybody would say yes to go to Congress. He
keeps - we heard in the clip him calling this a training effort, or a
counterterrorism effort. Where does that set up the consent and the real
debate about what this might become? It means that it constrains the
president from speaking as honestly and openly about what we`re doing as he
can and should because he`s trying to find a space between the language of
(INAUDIBLE) laws, between the - in the language of the Constitution. And
that shouldn`t be what chains how he presents what he`s doing to the
American people. What he needs to do or wants to do should set the
language. Not a kind of loophole seeking exercise. I mean, if, you know,
you are trying to think, if the authorization to use military force against
al Qaeda applies here, one kind of wonders where it doesn`t apply.
WARREN: So there`s legal and constitutional questions. Bob, I want to
turn to the political optics. How does this play politically for the
president and for Democrats, especially if something goes wrong?
BOB HERBERT, DISTINGUISHED SR. FELLOW, DEMOS: It plays terribly for both
president and the Democrats. I mean it`s part of the game that`s being
played in Congress. I mean the thing that upsets me the most is that we
now go to war basically haphazardly, which is insane. So the president is
allowed to proceed with his plans, in this case bombing ISIS, but Congress
has no responsibility involved here because they haven`t officially
authorized it. I mean the Constitution seems to be clear that Congress is
the branch of government that can declare war. So, what happens is if
things go haywire, then they blame Obama. They say that he should not have
done that. And that sort of thing. But the real important thing for the
American people when it comes to Congress authorizing military action is
that they`re considered more the representative of the people themselves.
And so when they -- at the time that they hypothetically authorize this
action, it should come after a robust debate so that the public is fully
informed. The polls at this point are meaningless because most of the
people responding to those polls have no understanding of everything that`s
WARREN: So, that`s a very important point. I want to come back to the
question of Congressional authority. Of course, we won`t have a debate
until after the midterm elections. But I`ll come back to that in a minute.
Still to come this morning, we have major admissions from NFL Commissioner
Roger Goodell and the news broken in a new bombshell report that puts Ray
Rice - the Ray Rice abuse story in a whole new light.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. RAND PAUL (R) KENTUCKY: There are valid reasons for war. They should
be few and far between. They should be very importantly debated, not
shuffled into a 2000 page bill and shuffled under the rug. When we go to
war it`s the most important vote that any senator will ever take.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WARREN: That was Senator Rand Paul speaking in a fiery 45-minutes speech
against arming the rebels in Syria. Before his colleagues in the Senate
voted to do just that. So I want to come back to the question of Congress.
Is this a two-way street? I mean shouldn`t Congress be the key institution
under the Constitution that is pushing the president to seek authorization?
DAVIDSON: Absolutely. I think that both the president and Congress are
making it too easy for each other. In the way that`s also going to make it
hard later on. Is a lot of people in Congress and the Senate are worried
about how a vote would play. And remember, the thing that Rand Paul was
speaking about wasn`t a vote on military, the use of military force, it`s
just on - it was a sort of general gesture in the direction of support for
the operation, specifically about training the rebels. But you know, they
are making it too easy for the president to do this. Some of them for
ideological reasons. Republicans who believe it should be easy for the
president to do it. And a lot of them just because they`re worried about
how their vote is going to play in the next election. The interesting
thing about that is that it`s very unpredictable how it`s going to play.
Hillary Clinton voted for the authorization to use military force in Iraq.
And came for political reasons, because she thought it would help her, and
she came to regret it. She`s now said that she did regret it. In that
case maybe it`s crazy, but it`s possible that they should just sort of vote
on what they believe on.
WARREN: Well, speaking of Rand Paul and Hillary Clinton, I just want to
indicate some of the key votes of potential 2016 presidential candidates.
So, Ted Cruz voted no. Rand Paul voted no. Marco Rubio voted yes. Bernie
Sanders no. Elizabeth Warren no. Ryan, what power does Congress have if
they disagree with any military action?
GOODMAN: Look, if they actually disagree with the military action they do
have the power not to fund it. But the reverse is also true. So that if
there are appropriations where presidents have done in the past. You had
mentioned President Clinton in Kosovo. They used the appropriations bill
to say, well, Congress has approved. How can you say you don`t approve of
this, but you have given us the money to conduct the strikes? So, that`s
the problem here. The legislation that was passed this week is just an
appropriation, but if you look at the White House`s website right now it
calls it an authorization. Not just an appropriation. So, they are
playing with those words. And as everybody has already said, it`s true
that they did not authorize anything. They just approved the funding of
the training and arming of the rebels and not just that, but in the
legislation, even Marco Rubio has a little bit of nail at the bottom of the
legislation that says there`s nothing in the legislation should constitute
authorization for American forces being used in hostilities. So even if
they took it that far, they still ducked on the question of authorizing
WARREN: I want to get to this question of Congress ducking. And Bob, in
the political science there`s a well-known empirical finding that there are
in many ways two presidencies. There`s the presidency around foreign
policy in which presidents tend to have much more latitude and then there`s
a presidency around domestic policy, in which Congress plays a much more
active role and we know on this case obstructing much of this president`s
agenda. What is the political benefit to Congress in this case of not
voting on military authorization and why are they stepping back and
essentially letting this particular president, but all presidents have such
latitude around foreign affairs?
HERBERT: I think this - one, I think the president should have a great
deal of latitude when it comes to national security. And there seems to be
General agreement on that. In this case I just think Congress is so all
over the map. I mean both parties actually seem to be split. I think
Congress does not understand the situation very well. And we had not
decided to make air strikes against ISIS until those videos came forward.
The videos were horrible. And these are hideous acts. But you don`t go to
war on that basis. You know, if we wanted to go to war against ISIS after
the videos, we should have wanted to go to war against ISIS before those
videos. So I think that Congress really wants no part of this. Frankly,
I`m not sure how much the president wants a part of this. He even seems
ambivalent. So there is really an absence of political leadership. One of
the most important issues facing the country.
DAVIDSON: It`s the product - yeah, you walk into that room very quietly
without really thinking about it. But then you`re there and then you have
to see what happens next. And that`s something that hasn`t been discussed.
Nobody really wants to think about what`s behind the door. But they`re
WARREN: To be continued, obviously, because we - it looks like we`re going
to war and this is not going to end shortly. Let me say very much thank
you to Ryan Goodman, Amy Davidson and Bob Herbert. Up next, it is not
alarmist. It is not hyperbole. Thousands and thousands could die and the
world needs to understand why.
WARREN: One month after the World Health Organization called the West
African Ebola outbreak a global health emergency that same organization is
now sounding the alarm again, saying the spread of the disease is growing
faster than the response to contain it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BRUCE AYLWARD, ASSISTANT DR. GENERAL, WHO: This health crisis we face is
unparalleled in modern times. The gravity of the situation is difficult to
get across with just a few numbers. But with 5,000 now infected. Twice
the number when we met a couple of weeks ago, over 2,500 dead. Nearly
twice the number of when we met a couple of weeks ago, you start to get a
sense of the rapid escalation now we`re seeing of the virus as it moves
from what was a linear increase incases to now almost an exponential
increase in cases.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WARREN: And those numbers according to the WHO are "an underestimate." A
worst case scenario road map released by the WHO predicted nearly 20,000
people could ultimately be affected by the Ebola virus. And the
organization warned that the global resources that have so far been
marshalled to fight the spread of disease fell far short of what is
actually needed. Now, if you`ve been following our coverage of this story
in recent weeks here on MHP, you`ve already heard that same warning from a
guest who has become one of our go-to experts on this outbreak. And two
weeks ago, that guest Laurie Garrett with the Council on Foreign Relations
appeared on this program when she put the U.S. government on notice about
taking the lead in the fight against Ebola.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LAURIE GARRETT, COUNCIL ON FOREIGN RELATIONS: I`m going to speak now to
the Pentagon and to its counterparts in other wealthy nations. Here`s our
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WARREN: Let`s pause there for a second. Because now I want to show you
what Laurie said next and what President Obama then announced just nine
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We need to act .
GARRETT: There`s needs to be an increase in the commitment. In the
personnel on the ground. In the logistic concern. We need U.S. Army to
fly in the medevac units that they`re so good with.
OBAMA: We`re going to establish a military command center in Liberia to
support civilian efforts across the region. Our forces are going to bring
their expertise in command and control in logistics and engineering.
GARRETT: Ghana is saying we`re prepared to be the air bridge. You can use
the Accra Airport as a staging ground.
You know, Ghana doesn`t have the capacity to actually take care of all the
kind of logistic and supply issues. That`s a great role for the United
States Air Force.
OBAMA: We`re going to create an air bridge to get health workers and
medical supplies into West Africa faster.
GARRETT: They know how to fly right in, set up a medical response
capacity, and boom, it`s on the ground and it`s running in 24 hours.
OBAMA: We`re going to establish a staging area in Senegal to help
distribute personnel and aid on the ground more quickly.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WARREN: Joining me now is Laurie Garrett, senior fellow for Global Health
for the Council of Foreign Regulations. She received the 1996 Pulitzer
Prize for her coverage of the Ebola epidemic in what was then Zaire.
Details of her coverage can be found in her book, "Betrayal of Trust."
Thank you, Laurie, for coming back. The U.S. is sending 3,000 troops to
fight Ebola, and it`s the first military team that arrived in Liberia on
Thursday. But of course, this is several months after the outbreak. Is
this too late too late?
GARRET: Well, first of all, it`s not clear it`s 3,000. That was a number
made up by the White House. DOD people tell me we haven`t done the
situation report to determine how many of our responders we actually need
to deploy. So we`ll see. It could be considerably more or considerably
less. Secondly, the first deployment is a major general who is setting up
a command post in Monrovia. But that`s a far cry from building the
hospitals, getting the runway links and then across so that C5A transports
can land and then redeploy it on smaller planes to specific locations
inside the epidemic. And a far cry from deploying necessary health
personnel. You know, on Thursday I was at the Security Council, at the U.N
for a true historic moment where 130 nations, the largest consensus in the
history of the U.N. for any vote on any issue backed a resolution to stop
this epidemic. And the resolution had embedded it at some things that
might have seemed controversial two weeks ago but now are considered
essential. And it calls for every nation in the world to follow the U.S.
lead and mobilize to the ground. The problem is the virus is running on a
curve that`s going like this. And the response is running on a curve
that`s going like this.
WARREN: So I want to play sound from Thursday of David Nabarro who is the
U.N.`s coordinator for the Ebola response.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DAVID NABARRO, SENIOR U.N. EBOLA COORDINATOR: I estimate that the response
to the outbreak has to be increased by as much as 20 times in the coming
weeks. So that it is going to be possible to get ahead of the outbreak and
stop it as quickly as possible.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WARREN: So as you just said and as the U.N. has said, there`s an
exponential increase in terms of how fast the virus can spread. And it
seems like the global community vast in underestimated the scope of this
epidemic. How much worse can things get?
GARRETT: Let me go a step further. You played, in the beginning of this
segment you talked about the WHO road map, which forecast a dire scenario
of 20,000 cumulative cases. I think that almost all parties would agree
we`re almost there already. All right? And when Margaret Chan, director
general of WHO, spoke to the Security Council this week, she said all of
our numbers are, quote, vast underestimates. The best guess is that at
this moment we have more than 15,000 cases already. Now if it`s doubling
every 21 days, that`s the conservative guess. Some think it`s doubling
every ten days. But let`s go with the 21. Let`s not go too wild. So just
do your math. Every 21 days means by the end of the months of September
we`ll be up to 30,000. By mid-October we`ll be at 60,000. By Halloween
we`ll be at 120,000, by Thanksgiving we`ll be at 250,000. By Christmas it
will be 400 some thousand. Just do the math. So if we don`t scale up at a
pace that for every responding institution is unprecedented in the history
of that organization, never gotten to the people to the ground that fast
before, never moved supplies that fast before, if we don`t achieve that
scale, the virus will win.
WARREN: Laurie, so much more to say about this. I hope the president and
the global community is listening right now and watching and hanging on
your every word. Thank you so much. I`m sure we`ll have you back.
GARRETT: Thank you for your concern.
WARREN: Up next. Time for an installment of this week in voter
suppression badger state edition.
WARREN: Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker is supposed to be on the short
list for the 2016 presidential contenders. He was elected governor in the
Tea Party wave of 2010 and quickly became a true darling to the national
conservative wing of the GOP. Especially with his fight against labor
unions and public sector collective bargaining in 2011. You probably
remember scenes like this when the capital in Madison, Wisconsin, was
flooded on a daily basis with protesters pushing against Walker`s
legislation. Walker went on to face a recall campaign over his efforts,
but he won that race, too. Becoming the first governor in the U.S. ever to
face a recall election and win. In fact, the recall campaign may - well
have made Walker even more of a darling to the right. Teeing him up for a
strong dark horse run for the party`s nomination in 2016. But here`s the
thing about 2016 and Scott Walker, 2014 comes first. And for Governor
Walker 2014 is proving to be quite a challenge. The latest Marquette
University Law School poll shows Walker tied with his Democratic challenger
Mary Burke, a Wisconsin businesswoman and former head of the state`s
department of commerce. They each have 46 percent of the vote, with 5
percent undecided, the poll said. A loss at home will all but squash any
national ambitions Walker may have. And so it will be up to the voters of
Wisconsin to determine if Scott Walker has a political future either at
home or beyond. At least it will be up to some of them. Because a three-
judge panel ruled last Friday that Wisconsin`s new voter I.D. law can go
into effect immediately.
The law was passed in 2012 but has been blocked by legal challenges until
now. And according to lawyers, challenging the voter I.D. rules, come
November, the law could impact as many as 300,000 Wisconsin voters who lack
MSNBC reporter Zach Roth has been reporting extensively on this story as
well as other voting rights cases around the country. Dale Ho is the
director of the ACLU`s Voting Rights Project, which is involved in the
Wisconsin case. They both join me now to explain what exactly is going on
in Wisconsin and what happens next. So. Zach, what happened?
ZACHARY ROTH, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: Well, what happened is as you said, a
three judge panel, all Republican appointed judges, by the way. Re-imposed
these voter I.D. law that had been blocked for over two years, almost since
it went into effect. And so, this is a law that was designed to be rolled
out gradually over an eight month period. Now unless this decision is
reversed. This law will be in effect. And they`ll have to implement it
over the next seven weeks. That`s an incredibly short timeframe. The
election is already under way. You have absentee voters having already
received ballots. A few hundred have already sent them back in. So, those
people would have to go back, find out about this new change, show their
I.D., otherwise they will be disenfranchised. So, there`s a potential for
enormous chaos from this decision.
WARREN: Dale, the courts said the rules have been changed to make it easy
enough to get a voter I.D. Do you agree with that?
DALE HO, DIR., VOTING RIGHTS PROJECT, ACLU: Not at all. Here`s what we
know. As you said, there are 300,000 registered voters in Wisconsin who
don`t have an I.D. that`s acceptable under this law. Because a little over
six weeks left until the election. You would have to get thousands of
people I.D.s every day in order for that to happen. Now, there are only 92
DMV offices throughout the entire state of Wisconsin. More than half of
those are open two days a week or less.
WARREN: Two days a week. Two days a week.
HO: In two counties the DMV will not be open at all until after the
election. So we have a really, really serious problem here.
WARREN: So what happens next? Is there a chance to stop this? What are
the next steps?
HO: So we have asked the full court of the seven circuit, three judges
ruled that the law could go into effect immediately. But we`ve asked the
full court, which consists of 11 judges to reconsider that decision. The
state has until Tuesday to file its response. But as - this election is
under way. A number of voters have already cast their absentee ballots.
And they didn`t receive I.D. instructions, their ballots were not
accompanied with I.D. and they`re going to be disenfranchised.
WARREN: Now, you said, this - it goes to the full court, 11 members. One
of those members is Judge Richard Posner, who is conservative judge, but
has said publicly that he regrets his previous position on this. Will he
matter? And might he recuse himself from this case?
HO: I think every judge on the 11 member court matters. And I don`t
expect anyone to recuse themselves. I don`t think anyone has said anything
- that would indicate whether or not they`ve prejudged the question of can
this law be implemented in six weeks? The answer is clearly no.
WARREN: Zach. How important are these 300,000 voters?
ROTH: Well, they could be extremely important in the governor`s race.
Where Scott Walker is facing a very tough challenge from a Democrat Mary
Burke. Polls show that race is very close. If you have 300,000 voters,
actually 370,000. Because that`s - there are 70,000 who are not
registered, but who are expected to take advantage of same-day registration
and be able to register on the day. So, if you have that number of voters
or some fraction of that number of voters who are disenfranchised, that
could make a difference.
WARREN: And we should say, Wisconsin is one of 15 states that have passed
voter I.D. laws. That will be going into effect this November. How
important - or how does Wisconsin`s voter I.D. laws back up again those
other 14 states?
HO: Well, it`s one of the strictest in the country. A lot of states have
identification laws that are broader than Wisconsin`s in terms of the
number of - and forms of I.D. that they`ll accept. Other states like
Indiana`s I.D. law, which was upheld by the United States Supreme Court,
had an opportunity for people who don`t have I.D. to cast a ballot and then
sign an affidavit attesting to who they are. Wisconsin has no such option.
So it`s one of the strictest in the country.
WARREN: We are going to keep an eye on this. Thank you very much. Zach
Roth, Dale Ho. Still to come this hour, Attorney General Eric Holder has
launched a historic study of police bias. And we`ll have one of the men
he`s asked to lead it. But first my letter of the week.
WARREN: Long before I was a Columbia professor, MHP show panelist and
occasional guest host, I played a part in breaking down a dynasty of my
undergraduate alma mater, the University of Illinois in 1998. They
university ended its long-held tradition that year crowning a homecoming
king and queen, due in parts to the controversy that overshadowed the
celebration of the coronation. You see, the year before during my senior
year I was the last and final person to be named homecoming king at U of I.
Because I used my platform together with the homecoming queen to protest
the school`s mascot. Chief Illiniwek, which since 1926 has been
represented at home football and basketball games by a student dancing
around wearing a buckskin costume and head dress. I deeply believe then
that Chief Illiniwek to be racist and an offensive caricature of Native
American people and saw the homecoming coronation as an opportunity to take
a stand. It took another ten years before the university finally relented
and did away with the chief and his on court antics for good.
But I am proud of the very small part I played in the long history of
resistance that led to that change. Which is why this week my letter goes
to someone I see as a sister in that struggle. The student editor of the
Southeast Pennsylvania high school paper who was punished for taking a
similar stand for what is right.
Dear Gillian McGoldrick, first, I want to commend you and your staff at the
Playwickian newspaper for your vote last year to ban the word Redskin, the
name of the Neshaminy High School`s mascot, Neshaminy High School`s, from
being printed in its pages. Last year your paper`s board wrote in an
editorial explaining the decision that "The evidence suggesting that
Redskin is a term of honor is severely outweighed by the evidence
suggesting that it is a term of hate." It`s clear you have already learned
one lesson from the history of American journalism, that as a journalist
your first obligation is to speak the truth about injustice, even when and
especially when doing so is unpopular or inconvenient. But your school
administrators have also taught you another lesson from that history, that
speaking truth of power can also come with consequences from those
resistant to change. And I know you learned that the hard way this week
when your school`s superintendent responded to your refusal to print the
offensive word by suspending you for a month from your position as editor
in chief of the Playwickian.
Gillian, I hope you recognize that this setback represents a failure, not
on your part, but on the part of the superintendent, the school board that
challenged your decision and your school principal who has insisted you
reverse it, because a school newspaper should first and foremost be an
educational endeavor for student journalists about the press freedoms
guaranteed by the First Amendment. But instead of teaching you how the
press acts as a dissenting voice against unchecked state power, your
educators have used the power granted to them by the state to shame you
into silence. What`s worse, they have done so in defense of a term you and
your staff rightly recognize as racist. Gillian, I want you to know that
although these administrators singled you out for punishment that you are
not standing alone. Because journalists at nearly two dozen news outlets
across the country have made the exact same decision about using the name
of the NFL team in Washington. From the "Washington Post" editorial board
to "Mother Jones" magazine to the San Francisco "Chronicle." They`re all
with you in your choice to respect human dignity over dehumanization. And
for whatever it`s worth, Gillian. I want you to know that I stand with
you, too. Keep fighting the good fight. Because even if they continue to
try and silence your voice, your refusal to back down speaks volumes,
WARREN: The criminal justice system is once again under scrutiny after a
controversial police shooting in Saratoga Springs, Utah. 22-year-old
Darrien Hunt was shot and killed by police on September 10th. A lawyer for
the family says he will ask the Department of Justice to investigate.
Police say Hunt lunged at officers with a Samurai type sword and then fled
several dozen yards before being shot. His family says the sword was a toy
like decorative object. And according to the family`s attorney, an
independent autopsy found that Hunt was shot six times from behind. The
chief deputy at the Utah county attorney`s office told "The New York Times"
he hadn`t seen the autopsy report and couldn`t comment. He says an
official autopsy could take six weeks. His mother told "The Deseret News,"
quote, "they killed my son because he`s black." Hunt`s mother is white and
his father is black. Saratoga Springs is more than 90 percent white. But
police deny that race was a factor. This is just the latest in a string of
controversial police shootings including the death of Michael Brown in
Ferguson, Missouri. In an effort to improve relations between police and
the community they serve, Thursday, Attorney General Eric Holder launched
an historic initiative to focus on police bias and profiling. A three-year
$4.7 million partnership between the Justice Department and the consortium
of national law enforcement experts, social scientists and evidence based
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ERIC HOLDER, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: Events in Ferguson reminded us that we
cannot allow tensions, which are present in so many neighborhoods across
America. Not just in Ferguson. But in many neighborhoods across this
country. We can`t allow these tensions to go unresolved, these issues,
these problems to go unresolved.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WARREN: Joining me now is one of the researchers leading the consortium of
law enforcement experts. Phillip Atiba Goff, Professor of sociology at
UCLA, director of the Center for Police Inequity and visiting scholar at
Harvard`s Kennedy School of Government. Phil, you have described this
initiative as a quantum leap forward. Why is it so significant?
PHILLIP ATIBA GOFF, PROF., OF SOCIOLOGY USLA: So, we have for the past 20
or so years, had three kind of revolutionary advances in the science of
doing effective and fair policing. Procedural justice, which gave us the
insight that cooperation and compliance with the law begins with trust in
it and not fear of it. Racial reconciliation, particularly with David
Kennedy, says we have got to be honest with our history and that troubled
neighborhoods have a few, a very few troubled people. But the rest of the
neighborhood is OK and should be treated as such. And implicit bias. The
mind scientists that say our minds are vulnerable to the stereotypes of the
culture. So, imagine that each one of those is like a super hero.
ATIBA GOFF: This initiative is like putting together the justice league.
These are the super friends. So, for the first time all three are
together. And we`re going to be trotting out all these initiatives that we
know have worked individually together in cities all across the United
States that want this. The chiefs and the communities want this
WARREN: OK, super friend, so this is - this is - that`s exciting in terms
of ending police bias in this country. So, how are you going to use your
super powers to build some data? Talk to me about data bases, explain what
that is, what do you hope to accomplish in terms of the research end.
ATIBA GOFF: OK, so this initiative, the national initiative to build
community trust and justice. What that is, is these are the initiatives to
do transformative interventions with police departments. We`re going to
give them training. We`re going to get them to look at their policies.
We`re going to be doing the things that these three different sort of
avenues, procedural justice, racial reconciliation, implicit bias, that
they all say. Separate from that, independent from that, completely
different from that, the National Science Foundation has also funded the
ability to put together the first ever national data base of police stops
and use of force.
WARREN: Because this is all decentralized.
ATIBA GOFF: That`s right.
WARREN: We don`t have that.
ATIBA GOFF: That`s right. So these two separate initiatives are going
along in parallel. But this new national initiative has no data
collection. It`s going to be using - taking advantage of the other data
base that does have data collection in it.
WARREN: OK, now when you started, you talked about data, you said trust.
And we know that bridging this trust divide is going to be incredibly
difficult. We have some data on this, in a recent Pew study, 70 percent of
African-Americans said police do a poor job of treating racial and ethnic
groups equally compared to only 25 percent of whites. How can we change
stats like that around?
ATIBA GOFF: When you have a terrible reputation within a community,
there`s usually at least two things you need to start with. One, there`s a
degree to which you earned it and you have got to claim that. That`s what
the racial reconciliation component is. That doesn`t mean that you,
Officer Warren did anything, but it means that the officer that used to
patrol your bid did, and you can scream and holler that it wasn`t me,
right? But you want to do is you want to say, no, I`m going to take
ownership of that. The second thing you`ve got to do, is you have to tell
your kids that policing belongs to us. So the community needs to take that
WARREN: So just on this last point that you just made about communities.
We about 30 seconds, the Attorney General says this is also about
communities engaging constructively with police. Tell us how that can
ATIBA GOFF: So, I think one of the things that the people who are involved
in this movement. It`s not just a moment, but a movement, want. They want
the legacy to say that parents no longer teach their children to fear law
enforcement. Because the police are the public and the public are the
WARREN: Phillip Atiba Goff, professor of social psychology at UCLA,
visiting scholar at the Kennedy School of Government. Thank you very much
for joining us. Good luck on using your super powers to solve this problem
of racial bias in policing.
Coming up, the NFL commissioner takes questions in a stunning press
conference promising to get it right. But the question remains, does he
get it at all?
More Nerdland at the top of the hour.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROGER GOODELL, NFL COMMISSIONER: There`s no reason we cannot be as
transparent and as effective on these issues as we are with the game on the
field. I believe in accountability. I understand the challenges before
me. And I will be held accountable for meeting them.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WARREN: Welcome back. I`m Dorian Warren in for Melissa Harris-Perry.
When NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell addressed the media Friday afternoon in
New York, we hadn`t heard from him in a while, ten days.
It had been 11 days since video footage of Ray Rice knocking his then-
fianc‚, Janay Palmer, unconscious in an Atlantic City elevator back in
February was published online. That video reignited the controversy around
the league`s initial punishment of the now former Ravens` running back and
put a national focus on domestic abuse incidents involving other players.
The other stories adding to the NFL`s off-field (ph) pileup include
Vikings` running back Adrian Peterson`s recent charge of injury to a child
after hitting his four-year-old son with a switch, Panthers` defensive end,
Greg Hardy, who authorities say choked and threatened to kill his
girlfriend in May and whose team later deactivated him, 49ers defensive
lineman, Ray McDonald, who was arrested on domestic violence charges on
August 31, three days after Goodell announced new harsher penalties for
domestic violence. Also, Cardinals` running back, Jonathan Dwyer, arrested
just this past Wednesday on aggravated assault charges for allegedly head-
butting and punching his wife, breaking her nose and throwing a shoe at his
17-month-old son. Dwyer has also been deactivated.
Having come under fire from fans, journalists and now league and team
sponsors alike for his handling of all this, Commissioner Goodell emerged
from his media hibernation on Friday apologetically.
GOODELL: Unfortunately, over the past several weeks, we have seen all too
much of the NFL doing wrong. That starts with me. We will do whatever it is
necessary to ensure that we are thorough in our review process and that our
conclusions are reliable.
We will get our house in order first.
WARREN: Goodell announced long-term league partnerships with two
organizations, a domestic violence hotline and a sexual violence resource
center. As far as other changes, the commissioner said that all options
were open but one.
QUESTION: Have you considered resigning at any point throughout this?
GOODELL: I have not. I`m focused on doing my job and doing the best of my
ability. I understand when people are critical of your performance.
But we have a lot of work to do. That`s my focus.
WARREN: Joining me now is Joe Anderson, Senior Sportswriter for "BuzzFeed,"
Amy K. Nelson, Contributing Editor at "Animal New York," and Chester Pitts,
former NFL player for the Houston Texans and Seattle Seahawks and a former
player representative with the NFL Players Association.
Thank you for joining us this morning. What do you think Roger Goodell was
trying to accomplish yesterday? And did he get it done?
CHESTER PITTS, FMR. NFL PLAYER: I`ll negate. The first out (ph) was he is
trying to find a way to calm the storm, calm the waters. There`s a lot
going on right now, rightfully so.
I think we`ve got to start the conversation right out of the gate and let
it be known. There`s never a moment in life when it`s OK to hit a woman --
never, ever OK.
There`s going to be a lot of conversations. And I`m going to say things
along the way. But I want to -- I want to make sure everybody knows out of
the gate, that`s where I come from.
That`s my stance. But I mean, we have -- we have the whole show to really
kind of get into what (ph), again, with Roger`s comments, what he was
trying to do is, you know, calm -- calm the waters, calm the storm. It`s
really fiery right now.
The temperature is very hot right now. And he`s just trying to find a way
to calm it all down.
WARREN: OK, but should he -- I want you -- I want you to listen to this and
now get you to in this. Should he have even bothered at all because it just
seems like everytime he comes out of hibernation.
AMY NELSON, ANIMAL NEW YORK: That`s the point.
WARREN: He just -- he just keeps digging, you know, and just keeps digging.
So I want you to listen to this. This is him responding to a question from
QUESTION: Can you justify not having an African-American as part of that
group of women that you`ve hired to look into sexual assault and domestic
GOODELL: Well, that`s not true. We have internal experts that have been
working on this that are people of color, that are women and men.
And they have been involved in this process from the beginning.
WARREN: Amy, does he have the right people in the room for this?
NELSON: Thank you for identifying it -- not identifying those people of
color, Roger. I don`t -- I`m so grateful to this reporter for asking this
question because it was one of the first things that I noticed when they
announced this -- this social responsibility community and these women who
are being brought in.
Congratulations, Commissioner Goodell. You`ve actually tried to just create
more eyewash (ph) around this entire issue.
And one of the things that`s upset me so much was it not having a black
woman as part of a committee that is representing and working with a league
that a huge percentage of its players are black. And I`m guessing a huge
percentage of their partners are black as well.
And the face of this issue and the victim of violence is a black woman.
It`s just another sign that this -- or another signal or, you know, just
another chapter that the league isn`t completely, entirely tone deaf.
And any sort of -- any sort of outreach or -- or sort of public display of
concern and a proactive, you know, things -- there are things that they`re
trying to put in place. It really doesn`t mean anything.
And it carries very little weight.
JOE ANDERSON, BUZZFEED: Yes, I think most importantly, like listening to
the responses of people yesterday, as (ph) the people just want Roger
Goodell to be better. And like maybe it`s not within him to be better in
And he`s being exposed in a time of crisis. And so they`re putting him out
front. He really doesn`t have a lot to say that, you know, he does appear
to have the support of the owners.
PITTS (ph): Yes.
And so all he really -- all they`re really asking him to do is like take
these punches for us right now until this goes away. And then he.
NELSON: He had 10 days. He had 10 days to show up to that press conference.
And what did he come with? Absolutely nothing.
WARREN: OK, but let`s -- let`s talk about what -- what got him out of
hibernation. And you said, people want him to be better.
Clearly, sponsors are important here. So my question is that what role did
sponsors play? And I want to just read a quote from
"The Wall Street Journal" on Wednesday.
Indra Nooyi, CEO of long-time NFL sponsor, PepsiCo, said she is deeply
disturbed that the repugnant behavior of some players in the league`s
mishandling of the case is casting a cloud over the NFL`s integrity. Other
companies, sponsors (ph) -- many companies have tried to distance
themselves from the controversy -- Campbell Soup Co., Procter and Gamble,
CoverGirl, McDonald`s Corp. issued statements condemning domestic violence.
Is this all about the money, then? Is this what got them to take action?
ANDERSON: Well -- well, yes. Well, I mean -- I mean, you know what, these -
PITTS: The NFL is a business.
WARREN: Let`s get back to that.
ANDERSON: These companies are distancing themselves in words only. But
they`re not taking away any money. And like that`s what -- I mean, right
now, the only -- the only company.
WARREN: So is -- is the threat real then? Or is this just public relations
for the company?
ANDERSON: Well, I mean, they could be putting pressure. I think the way
that it works is they`re putting pressure on the NFL to act and to look
And maybe part of that is getting rid of Roger Goodell. But right now,
like, you know, they`re just saying, hey, look, we want you, guys, to clean
this up and to look better about it.
But they`re not -- there`s -- there`s not been any money. The only company
so far that has made -- taken any action is Crest. And they haven`t moved -
- removed their money.
ANDERSON (ph): No, but -- no, there`s a.
NELSON: I think Procter and Gamble pulled out of the -- the Breast Cancer
Awareness Month. You know what I mean? That -- and I -- I was -- you know,
my initial reaction was like, OK, we`re going to see all these statements
saying, we condemn, you know, domestic violence and you know, we think the
league really needs to take this seriously.
And we`re monitoring the situation, right? I mean, we`ve seen that so many
times through sponsors. But, you know, as you saw in the case of Adrian
Peterson, Nike suspended its contract to the former NFL MVP.
ANDERSON (ph): That`s right.
NELSON: I mean, Radisson, I believe, a local sponsorship pulled out of the
Vikings. So I mean, there are a few -- this -- this.
WARREN: So that`s real action. That wasn`t just threat (ph).
NELSON: Well, that`s only going to -- that`s the only thing that`s going to
make the NFL pay attention.
ANDERSON: Well, the -- the players were expendable, though. It`s -- it`s
taken money away from the league because, I mean, Adrian Peterson has like
missed a year before with injury, right?
We know the NFL, the money train is still going to go on whether Adrian
Peterson is there or not. I mean, we see that the league can withstand the
absence of Peyton manning, Tom Brady and Adrian Peterson.
We`re talking about three of the best players, three of the most marketable
players in the league. So like it`s taking money (ph) from the league.
PITTS: And -- and let`s not -- and let`s not forget about the lockout as
well. I mean, that`s right. The NFL machine -- it`s strong. It`s pumping.
It`s going. It`s kind of just, you know, they -- they found a way to create
a business model where people love what`s going on. They tune in to watch.
They care so much.
And at the end -- how mad can you be at them for creating their business
model? And the other side of the coin is when you`re a player or when
you`re an athlete or whatever you have going on, you`re an NFL player,
you`re held to a higher standard.
That`s just the way it is. To whom much is given, much is expected. My mama
told me that since I was, you know, knee-high -- knee-high to her, that
that`s the way it was always going to be.
To whom much is given, much is expected. We have to hold ourselves to a
higher standard and a higher level of accountability. Now, in the grand
scheme of things, you went through a list of players that have done
something awful, terrible and are in hot water at this moment.
But if you compared those numbers to the entire population of the United
WARREN (ph): Right.
PITTS: .or the world, for that matter, our numbers as a -- as a percentage
of the population for knuckleheads and screw-ups is a heck of a lot smaller
than it is for the rest of the population. The only difference is we`re
really great at our job.
And a lot of people like to watch what we do when we are playing that game
WARREN: And you`re in the public eye. OK, so everyone stay with me. We have
a lot more to discuss. The league, its players and the union -- that part
of the story is next.
WARREN: Until (ph) this most recent uproar, the NFL`s bad press usually
involve labor disputes that could keep teams off the field. The last time
that happened was three years ago when current NFL Players Association
Head, DeMaurice Smith, helped negotiate a new collective bargaining
agreement that ended the league`s nearly five-month lockout of the players.
Now, Smith and Commissioner Roger Goodell are working together to solve a
number of problems the league is facing. The league of the union this week
agreed to a new drug testing and substance abuse policy that promises to
test for human growth hormone and shorten some current player suspensions.
And in a letter to teams Friday, Commissioner Roger Goodell stated that
educational programs for all 32 teams would begin within the next 30 days
on preventing domestic abuse and sexual violence. As Goodell said in the
press conference, all league staff will also receive training.
That said, the league and union disagree on one big thing, the new
indefinite suspension Goodell gave former Baltimore Ravens running back,
Ray Rice, after of course the video of him knocking his then-fianc‚
unconscious was published online on September 8. The NFLPA appealed the
Smith told CBS Sports, quote, "The union has an obligation to defend the
rights of its members. And we not only take that obligation seriously.
But when we look at the facts and reach a determination that there are
appropriate grounds to appeal any decision, any disciplinary decision, that
is the role of the union. That is the duty of the union.
And we really don`t shy away from that role at all." We should also note
that Smith was not at that Goodell press conference yesterday but that the
commissioner said he would meet with Smith next week to begin evaluation of
the league`s policies.
So how might it have helped if the players union had -- did a joint
presscon (ph) with the commissioner yesterday? Helpful? Hurtful?
NELSON: I don`t think anything would have -- no one was going to be served
being on that base (ph) with Goodell yesterday. I mean, I think the reason
why Roger Goodell is in a situation, why NFL is in a situation it`s in
today is because of Roger Goodell.
He made a very specific and calculated decision when he was negotiating
with the NFLPA a few years ago, that he was going to oversee all this and
(ph) he was going to be the arbiter of that discipline. There was not going
to be an independent person, body, to come in and rule either for or
against the players.
And because of that, he instituted that very week two-game suspension
against Ray Rice initially. And it`s all sort of barreled out from there.
So he has only himself to blame for this entire situation. And I`ve always
been uncomfortable with the power that he wielded because it`s very rare.
The other sports leagues don`t have that system in place.
WARREN (ph): Right.
NELSON: I mean, "Time" magazine put him on the cover a few years ago saying
"the enforcer." And he -- he projected himself as this sort of morally --
this moral arbitrator of the league when, in fact, he`s representing a
league that`s morally vacant.
WARREN: You -- you just said that keyword, power.
And Chester, I want to bring you in on this plane as a former player rep
for the union. What are some steps that you need to take to help with not
just the short-term crisis but to make sure that none of this happens
PITTS: Before I address the union, I have address morally vacant. There has
been permission (ph).
NELSON: Address it.
PITTS: .I`m a former player. I played a very long time in this league. I
have one issue one time that was completely taken care of and expunged off
It happens. I could have said nothing happened but full disclosure. There
are a small number of people that are finding a way to not do things
There are a ton of guys, and when I say a ton of guys, a lot of guys are my
friends. I know them. I played with them a very long time, spent a lot of
time around these guys.
They are good guys. They are good people. They`re good human beings. So to
say morally vacant, I`m -- I kind of have to reply to that. I`ve got to
NELSON: Absolutely (ph). I meant -- I meant the league. I mean the way in
which Goodell runs the league and the way in which he tries to say, oh,
well, I`m going to discipline players because, you know, we have sort of a
moral code here that can`t tarnish the shield. And then.
PITTS: I -- I get what you`re saying.
NELSON: .but -- no, and actually, I -- I agree with you. I think it is by
and large really unfair generally speaking that the majority of players are
They aren`t -- you know, they aren`t committing crimes. I mean.
PITTS: They go above and beyond when it comes to charitable work and
charitable giving and giving back. look at our numbers compared to the rest
of the population.
WARREN: OK, but I want to get back to the union question.
WARREN: So what`s the role of the union in this process?
PITTS: Well -- well, their -- you know, their statement that they gave out
today (ph) was a very strong statement. That`s why I`ve really been, you
know, a fan because of DeMaurice`s because of his energy and the way he
believes in protecting the players with vigor.
But that`s the job of the union. That -- that`s your responsibility.
PITTS: If you`re a person that you get in trouble somehow, some way, and
you hire an attorney, guess what, you are completely innocent. You`ve done
And it`s that attorney`s job to make sure that you come out as squeaky
clean as you can. That`s the role. That`s the responsibility.
I`m not saying that everybody and every time that you are innocent or that
you haven`t done anything wrong. But at the end of the day, the union`s job
is to fight for you like nobody`s business to make sure the best outcome
for you and your situation happens.
ANDERSON: Well, it`s interesting now that the commissioner is in hot water,
that now, he wants like this cooperation from the union and.
ANDERSON: .because I mean, this is something that he`s like intentionally
tried to -- to congeal (ph) all this power to himself. And it sort of
speaks to the arrogance of the NFL and -- and Roger Goodell, that they say,
well, you know, the law is a really complicated thing.
Like people go to school and then people have to take a test so like
passing, like -- and these laws differ by state. And like Roger Goodell was
essentially saying, hey, look, I can handle it all here.
Like in addition to leading the league and trying to make money for my
owners, I`m going to do that, too. And like now, you`re just seeing sort of
like the problem with the arrogance.
And like this is really difficult. And maybe from the beginning, he should
have involved the union and worked with them to come up with a CBA (ph)
that would allow them to have a voice and -- and not displacing (ph) this
NELSON: Make no mistake, this is a negative situation for the league. And
it`s certainly a negative situation for the players association.
WARREN: Let`s -- let`s just put up something just to -- to reveal this.
WARREN: There`s a recent NBC Marist Poll that shows that 53 percent
disapprove of the NFL`s handling of recent reports of domestic violence.
Twenty-nine percent believe Commissioner Goodell should resign.
But 85 percent say recent news hasn`t changed the amount of football
they`re going to watch. So there`s a public perception problem, even though
viewers aren`t going to stop watching.
But they believe that Goodell needs to go.
NELSON: Well, this is why I said it`s a chess game, right? I mean, that`s
what they`ve doing all along, trying to calculate how -- how bad will the
That`s -- that comes to sponsors. It comes to Goodell. It comes to the
union everyone (ph). I mean, I would just say, though, you know, even
though this is a very terrible situation for everyone involved, you can`t
tell me that the guys in the union aren`t secretly sort of or you know --
you know what.
WARREN (ph): That`s (ph) true?
NELSON: .if -- if there -- you know, if there couldn`t any sort of win-win
for us here, you know, behind the scenes anyway, this isn`t a bad -- this
isn`t a bad deal because of what we`ve been.
WARREN: Well, (inaudible). Does this set the union up for more leverage in
the next collective bargaining agreement negotiations?
PITTS: I think everything that goes out into the public and if you have the
right attorney and you have smart people behind you, pretty much, every
word that is said somehow, someway can be used against you later, I mean,
how many times have you heard if you get in hot water, keep your mouth
shot. And don`t say anything because anything that you can say can be used
against you later.
WARREN: I know you wanted to get on this.
ANDERSON: You know (ph), well, speak (ph) -- just we`re talking about like
what the league thinks about this and the numbers that are rolling in. Just
think about the fact that earlier this week, Cowboys owner, general manager
and head coach in absentia (ph), Jerry Jones, was in the United Kingdom and
said, I think things are going so well that we`re going to be able to
expand to have a team in London someday.
WARREN (ph): Wow.
ANDERSON: Like that`s how worried these guys are, like that`s how -- that`s
how out of touch they sort of are with what`s going on here.
PITTS: So one thing I learned, back -- back when I -- I spent a lot of time
with the owners and we were going through the -- the collective bargaining
agreement with the lockout and everything, the owners -- they don`t think
about things a day from today, a week from today.
No, they think about things 10 years down the road.
WARREN (ph): Right.
PITTS: They are the longest-term thinking individuals and smartest
businessmen I have ever seen or ever been associated with. And I don`t
intent (ph) because I know a lot of guys, a lot of them (ph) have done very
But that crew of NFL owners, that`s the way they think. So this was
happening right now and as high as the temperatures are right now and as
much as -- as inflammatory this situation is, the -- you know, what do they
say, the -- the sea will calm. The storms will go away.
It`s -- it`s a part of it. It happens.
WARREN: Well, I`m glad you said the season will calm because I`m not so
sure about that.
Up next, a blistering new report reveals just how much the league`s
leadership knew about the Ray Rice case and when they knew it.
WARREN: Shortly after NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell finished his press
conference Friday afternoon, ESPN`s "Outside the Lines" published an
investigative report that alleges, quote, "purposeful misdirection" by the
Baltimore Ravens and the Ray Rice domestic assault case, stemming from
claims the team knew exactly what happened in that elevator and quickly. We
should know that NBC News has not independently confirmed, be told (ph) of
But I want to read a portion of it to you. "Just hours after running back
Ray Rice knocked out his then-fianc‚, the Baltimore Ravens` director of
security, Darren Sanders, reached an Atlantic City police officer by phone.
While watching surveillance video, the officer who happened to tell Sanders
he was a Ravens fan, described in detail to what -- to Sanders what he was
seeing. Sanders quickly relayed the damning videos play-by-play to team
executives in Baltimore."
I should underscore, this reportedly happened not within days, not within
weeks, not months -- hours after the incident. The report adds, "Ravens
executives, in particular, owner Steve Bisciotti, President Dick Cass and
General Manager Ozzie Newsome, began extensive public and private campaigns
pushing for leniency for Rice on several fronts, from the judicial system
in Atlantic -- Atlantic County, where Rice faced assault charges to
Commissioner Goodell, who ultimately would decide the number of games Rice
would be suspended from this fall, so within their own building, where some
were arguing immediately after the incident that Rice should be released."
Late Friday night, the Ravens issued this statement in response to the
report, quote, "The espn.com "Outside the Lines" article contains numerous
errors, inaccuracies, false assumptions and perhaps misunderstandings. The
Ravens will address all of these next week in Baltimore after our trip to
Cleveland for Sunday`s game against the Browns."
Now, I have to ask you to listen to what the Ravens` owner told WBAL on
September 10. A few days after the elevator video was posted and they
terminated Rice`s contract. Take a listen.
STEVE BISCIOTTI, BALTIMORE RAVENS OWNER: If we had seen that video, we
would have probably had to -- we would -- we would have probably been told
that we should wait until the court case came out. They had it.
The police had it and gave them equal misdemeanors that night. Again,
that`s astounding to me. And every -- for me to tell you the truth, it
makes me look like I`m pointing fingers at other people.
But they gave them equal misdemeanors.
WARREN: OK, then this. I want to read one more quote really quickly because
this is too good. This is from the ESPN article, quote, "Rice`s phone
buzzed (ph). He could scarcely believe what he was looking at -- back-to-
back text messages from Bisciotti.
Rice read them aloud so everyone in the room could hear them. "Hey, Ray.
Just wanted to let you know, we loved you as a player.
It was great having you here. Hopefully, all these things are going to die
down. I wish the best for you and Janay. When you`re done with football,
I`d like you to know you have a job waiting for you at the Ravens, helping
young guys getting acclimated to the league."
Rice was flabbergasted. One minute, Bisciottie and the Ravens were
essentially calling him a liar. The next, Bisciotti was quietly offering
him a job."
What does the league do with the Ravens if anything?
PITTS: There`s a lot going on in there. But this is what I will say. I
don`t take shots at anybody`s credibility. But the way this system works
today, when you can always attribute stories to the word sources, you`re
always going to have ambiguity. You`re always going to have issues.
You`re always going to have issues. You`re always going to have, well,
who`s telling the truth? So I`m -- I`m going to reserve my comments for
knowing because I don`t -- because I don`t know yet.
WARREN: Let me ask -- let me ask -- let me ask you like this, Chester. So
as a former players rep, how does this new information affect the union`s
appeal to the league around the crisis (ph).
PITTS: OK, you put me -- you put me in a tough one there. Not an attorney
by any stretch of the word.
But I will say this. When you say that you don`t know, you say that you
don`t have it, you`ve never seen the tape, you say that you would have done
something differently had you seen the tape, if the information comes to
light that you had seen the tape, if information comes to light that
contradicts any statement that you said, obviously, that`s going to help
Ray in his case, you know, just -- you know, I get it, you know, the whole
commissioner`s list and having to be away from the league and waiting for
everything to die down. I understand all of those things.
But he`s going to have a very strong case to get paid his money than he
would have been due minus the two games. That was his original suspension.
And he followed all the rules for that suspension, all -- and everything
that kind of went down the pipeline with that.
ANDERSON: Sure. As bad as everything has been for Ray Rice, I mean, and
deservedly so since February, like the last couple of days have actually
been about good of news as you could hope in terms of him, you know,
getting his career back. Now,
I mean, the odds of another NFL team signing him -- signing him are really,
But like he does have -- he would seem to be a stronger case for, you know,
getting his suspension lifted and maybe, you know, that work (ph) in some
sort of way, right (ph), working around that in some sort of way. But
everything you`ve seen in terms of like the public face of the league, like
I think what was interesting about that report, if you -- if you believe
everything in there is that you see sort of the machine behind everything,
behind, you know, that nothing gets in the way of the game, even the -- the
They think that everything in that report is a lie. But wait, we`re just
going to wait a few days until we play the game.
WARREN: So I want to play one more thing and then get you to respond to
this. This is from the response of Goodell to a reporter asking about Ray
Rice. Let`s take a listen.
QUESTION: What exactly did Ray Rice tell you happened in the elevator? And
how did what you thought in your mind happen in the elevator differ from
what we saw in the video?
GOODELL: Well, Judy (ph), a couple of things. But first off, as I said that
we got new information.
QUESTION: Commissioner, what did he say? What did he tell you what
GOODELL: Well, this -- the -- the one issue of this is now a matter of
QUESTION: What about transparency? You keep talking about transparency? Why
not say what he said?
GOODELL: Well, I`m telling you right now that it`s inconsistent with what
he told us.
WARREN: Amy, is this the sort of thing that gets the commissioner fired?
NELSON: That -- that`s a nice dodge. I mean, he was dodging the best he
ANDERSON (ph): In the matrix (ph).
NELSON: I know right. What`s going on? Again, I -- you know, in terms of
getting Roger Goodell fired, I think it`s still a very -- a long shot.
The owners I think, as we sort of talked about, will most likely still
continue to have his back. I wear this T-shirt this morning from my
favorite TV show, "The Wire," because there`s a phrase after reading the
ESPN article that keeps circling through my mind ever since last night and
that`s "Chain of Command."
"Chain of Command" -- look at that entire story. By the way, I also want to
say, I -- the people who wrote that story for ESPN, I used to be in that
unit, the enterprise investigative unit there.
I can guarantee you that that story went through very -- many levels of
vetting, including lawyers for ESPN. And all the people who work within
that unit are great journalists and great people.
So separate from that, though, it`s unbelievable to me that essentially,
you know who looks the best coming out of that story, it`s Ray Rice.
WARREN (ph): Right, right.
NELSON: I mean, and, by the way, the most savvy. That passage about someone
giving him advice to take a screen shot of the phone without the owner`s
name and -- and the cell phone, which the ESPN -- which allowed the ESPN to
confirm that, in fact, it was and the Ravens had to admit yes, in fact, our
owner did text message Ray Rice that ridiculous sort of contradictory
statement, just sort of proves that only underscores how terribly the
league has handled this entire situation and the Ravens as well.
WARREN: That will be the last (ph) for now on this. People on Twitter want
to know where you got that T-shirt.
NELSON: I see that. You know, I don`t know if I want to give it up.
WARREN: All right, all right, all right.
NELSON: I`ll go on Twitter. How about that?
WARREN: Tweet Amy on Twitter. Thank you very much to Joe Anderson, Amy K.
Nelson and Chester Pitts.
Still to come this morning, a completely different NFL story than the one
you`ve been hearing about all week.
WARREN: OK, nerd land, pop quiz. Who broke the color barrier in
professional sports? Did you think immediately of Jackie Robinson?
Jackie Robinson is after all a fixture of American culture. His story is
told in history textbooks and Hollywood movies. His name is on middle
schools and post offices.
Today, there`s even a Jackie Robinson day where every major league baseball
player in the league wears Robinson`s number on his jersey. It seems
everyone knows the inspirational tale about how Jackie Robinson broke the
color line and paved the way for African-Americans in major league baseball
for generations to come.
And given the treatment of Robinson`s story over the years, you might think
he was the first in pro sports to do what he did. But he wasn`t the first.
He wasn`t the second.
He wasn`t even the third or fourth. That`s because a year before Jackie
Robinson made baseball history in 1947, four African-American athletes
endured the taunts on a different field and made history in their sport.
They are the forgotten four and their story is next.
WARREN: Bill Willis, Marion Motley, Kenny Washington and Woody Strode.
Theirs are not household names. Their stories are not widely known.
But their role in shaping the history of America`s favorite sport is
unmatched. In 1946, a year before Jackie Robinson made history in
professional baseball, these men broke the color barrier of professional
Now, a new documentary is looking to bring the four players out of the
History by telling their stories.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There (ph) had (ph) been a segregated America. And that
happens in sports as well. Even if you were a star athlete, the rules of
segregation were still enforced.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It had to be awful knowing that you were better than
everyone and not being allowed to play.
Before Jackie Robinson, there was Kenny Washington.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When Kenny Washington set foot on the UCLA campus, he
was already a star. He could do everything.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Marion Motley.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He was just a minimum voice.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A guy like that coming through the line, it would scare
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Bill Willis.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Bill was a great player.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: His style was giving all out effort all the time.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Woody Strode.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He had the reputation of being the perfect physical
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: His development as an athlete was just natural.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: These four men were celebrated on the fields on
Saturday. But they were not drafted in the NFL because the league was
WARREN: The documentary "Forgotten Four" premiers September 23 on the Epix
Network. Joining me now on studio was the film`s Executive Producer, Wes
Smith and from Cleveland, the sons of history-making player, Bill Willis,
Clem Willis and Bill Willis, Jr.
Thank you, all, for joining me.
Bill, tell me a little bit about your father as a person and as a player.
Did he see himself as part of civil rights history?
BILL WILLIS, JR., SON OF BILL WILLIS: Dad was as great a football player as
he was, he was three times as great a father. And that`s mostly how we
We didn`t get to see him play very much. But we heard about his
achievements through everyone else who knew him and came into contact with
us as well.
WARREN: Clem, part of the film talks about your father`s relationship with
Cleveland Brown`s coach Paul Brown. And there was an interesting part in
the film where they recount the story of (ph) the Browns want to play
another team in the segregated south. Let`s take a listen.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Willis and Motley were left behind in Cleveland when the
Browns played in Miami on December 3, 1946. Paul Brown paid him $500
according to Willis.
They got to stay behind. But it was just the indignity of the whole
situation that still resonates today when you think that in the segregated
south, players could not go. And Paul Brown made the decision based on what
he felt like his ultimate responsibility was.
And that was to protect his players.
WARREN: So Clem, how supportive of your father was he? Did you hear the
story growing up in your -- in your household?
CLEM WILLIS, SON OF BILL WILLIS: Well, no, we didn`t talk much about that
type of story. But Paul Brown was extremely supportive. Before each and
every game, he would send his front people out to the city where the game
was going to be played to make sure that, in fact, my father and Marion
Motley would be able to enter the front door and, you know, be a part of
that hotel as much as the other players as opposed to coming in through the
rear in the kitchen or something like that.
Paul Brown looked out for them in every -- every way imaginable because
Paul Brown was about family. He was about inclusion, to include their wives
So they were very much a part of the success of the team because, as I say,
he brought them into activities, picnics, social events, so forth and what
have you. But Paul Brown looked out for all of his players and no less my
father and Marion Motley.
WARREN: So Wes, I want to turn to you, all four players in the film broke
the color barrier playing for two different teams, the Los Angeles Rams and
the Cleveland Browns. And part of the film discusses how the community in
L.A. really put pressure on the Rams to draft Kenny and Woody because they
were in many ways local heroes.
Can you tell us how different were Kenny and Woody`s experience in L.A.
from Bill and Marion`s experience in Cleveland?
WES SMITH, PRODUCER: Well, those experiences were night and day. The Los
Angeles experience was really forced by African-American sportswriters and
the public at large to require the Los Angeles Rams to hire African-
American football players if they wanted to play in the Los Angeles
coliseum. And the argument was that the Los Angeles Coliseum is a publicly
And it`s run with public tax dollars. Those tax dollars also come from
African-American residents. If the Los Angeles Rams wanted to play in the
coliseum, they needed to integrate and not discriminate based on race.
WARREN: So seeing the -- the heroic nature of these four players and their
restraint and obviously, we cannot discuss this devoid of the current
moment of the NFL scandals, I`m -- I`m just wondering if there`s something
different about the culture of the league today than in that moment in
SMITH: Well, there`s a lot that`s different obviously. And I think one of
the primary differences is the amount of money that is generated by the
league and by the sport and by sports in general.
Back then, as Bill and Clem alluded to, their father was embraced by the
Cleveland Browns primarily because Paul Brown played such a high regard for
character of the players. And he welcomed them into the team, into the
fold, whereas they were not welcomed into the fold in Los Angeles.
And those different approaches actually played out in the outcomes of the
team. The Cleveland Browns won five championships in a row.
WARREN: Five championships, wow.
SMITH: You know, four in the all-American football conference, one in the
NFL because they were fully accepting of all the players. And both Bill
Willis and Marion Motley played key roles in those championships.
WARREN: Such an important point to make in terms of a major social -- a
major moment of social transformation, which is also -- leads to winning,
right? That`s our highest level.
SMITH: You -- you get the right outcomes when you do the right thing. And
so one of the -- the other takeaways from the film is that character
These players -- all of them had tremendous character. And they had to rely
on that character as they went through their struggles, those first few
seasons in the league.
WARREN: Clem, I want to come back to you and ask, do you think as football
becomes more important to American culture, more people will know your
father`s name and his story?
CLEM WILLIS: Well, I -- I hope so. And the risk to sounding clich‚, I hope
everybody has an opportunity to see this documentary and get the takeaways
that Wes was just talking about because the documentary is not just about
football. It`s about people, how people working together, wanting to
achieve a goal can do so as opposed to people working under duress.
So hopefully it will become a household word for the right reasons. And
that is because of character. That is because of commitment.
That is because of social coming together as opposed to just physical
prowess on the athletic field.
WARREN: Wes, I have to ask you, do you see any parallels between the story
of these four courageous men, these four players and Michael Sam?
SMITH: Sure. There are a number of parallels. Willis, Motley, Washington
and Strode carried the burden of race with them when they entered
Michael Sam is carrying the burden of sexual orientation as he enters the
league. Now, the primary parallel is that it`s the reaction of the outside,
of others towards these individuals.
It`s the ignorance and the bias that is exhibited towards them that they
have to deal with. And so that`s the primary parallel I see between these
two -- these situations.
WARREN: Thank you so much to Clint Willis, Bill Willis, Jr., and of course,
the Executive Producer, my friend, Wes. Thank you again.
The documentary premiers September 23 at 8:00 p.m. on -- on Epix. Up next,
our foot soldier of the week.
WARREN: Sometimes, big change can come from the smallest people. Our foot
soldier this week is a 10-year-old cancer survivor who has turned her
trials and tribulation into positive action for other children in difficult
Grace Callwood is from Hartford County, Maryland. And on her seventh
birthday, she was diagnosed with lymphoma. Grace underwent chemotherapy and
was in constant pain for three years.
In spite of it all, when she discovered two young girls in her neighborhood
were homeless, she decided to give them her new back-to-school clothes.
From there, she founded "We Cancerve," a charitable organization which set
about to bring happiness to homeless, sick and foster children.
Grace has a board of advisers made up of young people ages seven to 18 who
help her brainstorm and develop upcoming projects to provide services for
kids in need. These services include collecting more than 70 back-to-school
outfits for children living in a homeless shelter, donating more than 100
pounds of school supplies to orphanages in both Kenya and in her community
in Maryland, collecting cash donations from her -- from her community for
the Sinai Hospital`s pediatric hematology and oncology outpatient clinic,
which took care of Grace during her illness and crafts kids, which she
calls transfunners (ph) -- transfunner (ph) kits, pillowcases that young
patients can decorate to cover their I.V. poles. For all her incredible
work, Grace Callwood is our foot soldier of the week.
And to tell us more about what she is currently focused on, Grace and her
mother, T`Jae Ellis join us live from Baltimore, Maryland.
T`JAE ELLIS, MOTHER OF GRACE CALLWOOD: Good morning.
GRACE CALLOWOOD, FOUNDER OF WE CANCERVE: Good morning.
WARREN: Grace, how did you get the idea to create "We Cancerve?"
CALLWOOD: I first got the idea to create "We Cancerve" when I was seven
years old and I had just started taking chemo. And it was near back-to-
And I heard about these two little girls who -- who were homeless. So I
decided to donate my back-to-school clothes since the medicine made me gain
And that`s how I started to think that I can help more.
WARREN: And why do you specifically want to help kids?
CALLWOOD: Because it just seems really special. And like I -- I have -- I
have special connection I feel with different kids if I get to meet them.
And I`m just really happy that I`m able to do this.
WARREN: Well, tell me what projects your group is working on now. I know
you have a lot on your plate. So what are you doing right now?
CALLWOOD: Right now, we are working on a new project called books and
buddies, where we have different characters in books where we have the
books and then we have a little stuffed animal that`s the main character.
WARREN: And you are now cancer-free. How did you feel.
WARREN: .when you found that out?
CALLWOOD: I was super excited and very grateful. I was grateful to my
hospital, Sinai, and for my supporters and to my church family and to all
my friends and family.
WARREN: T.J., I want to ask you, how did you feel when Grace wanted to
create this charity group?
ELLIS: Well, honestly, at first, I was a little reluctant because I think
that as an adult, I started overthinking the process and -- and just
probably thinking too much about logistics and administrative and
considerations and liabilities. But what I came to realize is that Grace
clearly has a vision.
And this gift was given to her. And when I just decided that I would just
strengthen my humility muscle, I was able to just follow -- you know, I
guess you could say fall in line and follow her leadership.
And I think it`s been probably the most rewarding thing I`ve done in my
life besides giving birth to her.
WARREN: And -- and what have you learned from this experience? And I love
that phrase by the way, humility muscle. What have you learned from this
ELLIS: I didn`t know I could become more humble. I guess we all think we`re
already there. But when you lay aside whatever degrees you have or the
accolades that fill your resume and you recognize that someone else has a
vision and you can actually decide to follow it and not just really infuse
your own thoughts and agenda into it, then I guess, you know, I`ve realized
that there`s so much more growth that I have as a human being.
And I`m just excited about our journey through mother-daughter
WARREN: Grace, really, really fast, I hear you have a big run tomorrow. Can
you tell us about it?
CALLWOOD: Yes. We -- I am one of the special racers, We Cancerve is. And we
are joining the race for our kids at Sinai Hospital.
WARREN: Thank you to Grace Callwood and T`Jae Ellis in Baltimore, Maryland,
our foot soldier of the week. We`re all very inspired. That is our show for
Thank you at home for watching. Special thanks to my big brother who
hopefully today remembered to watch. It`s his birthday.
So happy birthday, Brent (ph). Melissa Harris-Perry will be back here
tomorrow morning at 10:00 a.m. Eastern. Now, it`s time for a preview of
"WEEKENDS WITH ALEX WITT."
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY
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