'The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell' for Monday, October 20th, 2014
Read the transcript to the Monday show
Show: THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL
Date: October 20, 2014
Guest: Mark Warren, Dewan Smith-Williams, Oretha Bestman-Yates
LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Rachel, one of the joys of my Boston
weekends the last several weekends is being seeing all the Charlie Baker
ads and the Martha Coakley ads and, of course, the Scott Brown ads and all
that stuff from New Hampshire because it`s all the same TV down there.
RACHEL MADDOW, "TRMS" HOST: It`s amazing. In Western Massachusetts,
watching people walking around dazed, wondering if Democrats are going to
lose that governorship again. It`s a great race actually.
O`DONNELL: It is. It is. It`s going to be a great night.
MADDOW: Appreciate it.
Well, Elizabeth Warren is now rushing to the rescue for the Democrats in
the Senate, and we will count the votes in two weeks. But election day has
already started for President Obama and many others who cast his vote
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I`m here to vote!
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: President Obama cast his ballot --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: First day of early voting gets under way in his home
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Fifteen days before the midterm election.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Things could go either way.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Voting is already under way in dozens of states.
OBAMA: You`ve got to grab your friends. You`ve got to grab your co-
BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT: We`re all in this together.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Democrats are urging their voters to get to the polls.
OBAMA: You`ve got to find your cousin Pookie, hadn`t voted in the last
five elections, you`ve got to grab him and tell him to go vote.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The president is right. People have to vote.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was before on the campaign trail.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She brings an aggressively populist message.
SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D), MASSACHUSETTS: I am the daughter of a janitor
who ended up in the United States Senate.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She fired up a crowd in Iowa yesterday.
WARREN: Because I grew up in an America that was building a future for all
of its children.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It turned out in anyway in the next two weeks.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Things are right on the edge.
O`DONNELL: With the Democratic Party`s control of the United States Senate
hanging in the balance in the last two weeks of campaigning, the most
popular Democrat in the Senate is rushing to the rescue. Senator Elizabeth
Warren shared her personal story with Iowa voters as she campaigned for
Iowa Senate candidate Bruce Braley yesterday in Iowa.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WARREN: I remember the day that I walked in to my folks` bedroom, and my
mother had her best dress out and was trying to figure out what this meant.
I was 12. She was crying, talking to herself. You will not leave this
And finally, she wiped her face. She pulled on that dress. Put on her
lipstick, stepped into her high heels, and she walked to the Sears Roebuck
where she got a minimum wage job in an America where a minimum wage job
would support a family of three. And that`s --
I am the daughter of a janitor who ended up in the United States Senate
because I grew up in an America that was building a future for all of its
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: No Democratic senator has a better story to tell on the
campaign trail, and Elizabeth Warren does not have to campaign for herself.
And so, candidates are desperate to get her out there to help their
Senator Warren`s rescue effort moves to New Hampshire on Saturday to
campaign once again against Republican Scott Brown whom she defeated in
Massachusetts to win her Senate seat.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WARREN: What matters here is how senator brown votes. So he`s gone to
Washington, and he`s had some good votes, but he`s had exactly one chance
to vote for equal pay for equal work, and he voted no. He had exactly one
chance to vote for insurance coverage, for birth control and other
preventative services for women and he voted no. And he had exactly one
chance to vote for a pro-choice woman from Massachusetts to the United
States Supreme Court, and he voted no. The women of Massachusetts need a
senator they can count on, not some of the time, but all of the time.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Joining me now, Joy Reid, host of MSNBC`s "THE REID REPORT",
and E.J. Dionne, "Washington Post" columnist and MSNBC political analyst.
Joy Reid, you`re Scott Brown. You moved up to New Hampshire to try to run
from the United States again, and here comes Elizabeth Warren after you
and, boy, she knows how to take out, Scott Brown.
JOY REID, THE REID REPORT: Yes. It`s like his worst nightmare, in a state
that he never lived in before, and now that he`s done that, now she`s
coming the most popular Democrat in the country and has been very popular
with the base.
We are now at the point where this is no longer a persuasion campaign
really. This is a get-out-to-vote base campaign wherever there are
Democrats running in, and nothing gets at the base at this part of the
country, particularly in the Northeast, like Elizabeth Warren, that
populist about minimum wage. That`s her bread and butter.
O`DONNELL: And, E.J., I`ve seen Elizabeth Warren in Massachusetts.
Actually, I recently watched her walk into a restaurant, and the way she
works a room is, I mean, she`s as enthusiastic and up close a politician as
I`ve ever seen. Very personal, takes, gets information out of people who
she meets and really closes in on them in a very personal way, and New
Hampshire is a place to do that.
E.J. DIONNE, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Right, and that`s the one thing
Scott Brown has been good at in New Hampshire. He`s very good at retail
campaigning, and it`s a small state, but she`s got both those skills and,
as she showed in that debate, an ability to challenge his views in all the
areas where he`s weak.
But I think, that when of watch Elizabeth Warren out there, you realize the
sort of mischance of this election. Democrats had hoped to move the
campaign to populist economic issues, places where they are clearly on the
side of the vast majority of people, minimum wage being a classic issue.
And for all kinds of reasons, this individual candidates have done that a
little bit, but they have not been able to fashion a national message
around economics, and Elizabeth Warren is the one person who can the
consistently do that. Bill Clinton does it a fair amount. And that`s why
the Clintons and Elizabeth Warren are on enormous demand out there on the
campaign trail by Democrats.
O`DONNELL: What I find so striking about Elizabeth Warren is she`s the
fresh face of the party, and she does make this argument without
reservation and I think more effectively than any other Democrat out there.
Let`s hear more of what she had to say in Iowa.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WARREN: We now live in a world where the kids whose parents can`t afford
to write a check for college, Lord knows, people need those scholarships.
They need that for a chance to be able to get in the middle class.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: And, Joy, she knows what she`s talking about. To be out there
talking about growing up the daughter of a minimum wage worker, her father
was a janitor. This is a classic American story she`s telling about her
REID: Yes. And you know what? To E.J.`s point, she`s doing it in a local
way, because remember, this race in Iowa is turning a lot on Joni Ernst`s
disparagement of the idea of the minimum wage, and Braley`s mistake that he
made, sort of seeming to talk down to farmers. So, you`ve got sort of the
And I think for Democrats, these are really state by state races. This is
all politics is local. And in that particular race, which is razor thin
and close, they need to get out their base as much as they can, this kind
of a populist message works in that state. And I think you can`t say
enough. Democrats have not nationalized at all, Elizabeth Warren,
O`DONNELL: Now, E.J., we cannot leave the subject of Elizabeth Warren,
Iowa and New Hampshire in that order without, without, of course, throwing
a spark or two in the direction of Elizabeth Warren running for president.
There`s certainly a demand in a certain sector of the party to see her try
DIONNE: Right. It should be said for the record she also campaigned, I
think the day before, for Al Franken up in Minnesota. So it`s not a
uniquely Iowa --
O`DONNELL: That`s right.
DIONNE: But, look, a lot of Democrats love Elizabeth Warren. People on
the left end of the party, the left side of the party, we kind of like her
to challenge Hillary Clinton, if only to push Clinton toward a more
populist economics. I don`t think she`s, Elizabeth Warren`s going to do
it, but I think her message is going to get to Hillary Clinton, because
something like what Elizabeth Warren is saying is going to have to be
something like what a Democratic nominee says.
And, you know, we talk about not nationalizing the campaign. One issue
that Elizabeth Warren pioneered, which is how do you fix these awful
interest rates that students are paying on these student loans, that`s an
issue that`s working in red states and purple states and not just in blue
states. Kay Hagan down in North Carolina and a lot of other Democrats are
using that student loan issue.
So, I think if she doesn`t oppose Hillary Clinton, she`s going to go to
school on some on what she`s saying.
O`DONNELL: Now, voting is underway. This is election night, and tomorrow
is going to be election night, too. We all count them for a couple of
weeks. But I think Minnesota actually started voting a couple weeks ago.
President Obama voted today in Illinois. Let`s listen to what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: This is the most important office in the democracy, is the office
of citizenship. So, exercising our franchise, that`s where all of us are
the same, and everybody has that right. It`s terrific.
OK. Early vote, everybody. Make it happen.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Joy, early vote. They`re pushing the early vote.
REID: I love the lady`s just doing her job, yes. The president`s talking,
but I got to do this here. I got to do this job.
No, I mean, the early vote is really important to Democrats. Democrats
typically do very well in early vote. They`re actually pretty well
apparently in Iowa, getting out their vote. But --
O`DONNELL: After Elizabeth Warren visited.
REID: After Elizabeth Warren -- but notice that this is really a tale of
two parties. You have a southern Democratic Party whose only goal is to
get out that African-American vote, and also the Midwestern part of the
party, the Ohio/Illinois corridor, it`s all about finding African-American
voters who voted in `08 but didn`t vote in `10 but came back in `12. That
is actually what the party is doing now. They are redirecting a lot of
that information to the grounds, to physically go and if they have to get
people out of their homes to make them vote, President Obama is very
effective about that in Illinois.
Up in Iowa and New Hampshire, that`s more about getting out white liberal
voters, and so, they`re playing to populist issue that matter to them. But
you`re really seeing the Democratic Party and all of its particles, and
it`s fascinating how different it is in these different states, because
they really are trying to narrow down to what that state wants to hear.
O`DONNELL: And one of the things the Democratic Party has been good at is
getting out the vote.
REID: Very effective, very effective at early vote, and if they win,
that`s why they win.
O`DONNELL: Joy Reid and E.J. Dionne, thank you both very much for joining
DIONNE: Good to be with you.
O`DONNELL: Thank you.
Coming up, "Esquire" magazine actually asked 90 members of Congress what
they hate most about Congress. This is a great article. An "Esquire"
editor actually spoke to 90 members of Congress. It`s an amazing project.
That`s coming up.
And also, in the re-write tonight, I will have to re-write once again a
"New York Times" article about the killing of Michael Brown.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ARTHUR T. DEMOULAS, MARKET BASKET CEO: The workplace here at Market Basket
is so much more than just a job.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: That was Adie T. DeMoulas this summer, shortly after he re-
gained his position as CEO of the New England supermarket chain Market
Basket. Adie T. owes his job now to the thousands of workers who risked
their jobs by going on strike for him and demanding the return of Adie T as
CEO of the company.
Labor Secretary Thomas Perez gave Adie T and his loyal workers a shout out
today at the National Press Club during a speech on economic equality.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
THOMAS PEREZ, SECRETARY OF LABOR: They really have captured the
imagination of the nation. They have done, really, a service. And they
have demonstrated that you can do good and do well.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Coming up. What Rachel Maddow thinks of this cover. Seriously.
O`DONNELL: "Esquire" magazine interviewed 90 members of the House and
Senate, and asked them what`s wrong with them, meaning what`s wrong with
Congress. And the one thing that members on both sides agree on -- this
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. TED CRUZ (R), TEXAS: Do you like green eggs and ham? I do not like
them, Sam, I am, I do not like green eggs and ham.
Then say in a deep voice, Mike Lee, I am your father. This is a fight to
restore freedom to the people.
Most Americans could got any of a flying flip about a bunch of politicians
in Washington. Who cares? You know, almost all of us are in cheap suits
with bad haircuts. Who cares?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: "Esquire" quotes one Republican House member saying, "If you
talk to Ted Cruz, tell him to stay on his side of the Capitol, we have
enough problems without that idiot coming over here and screwing things
Joining me now is Mark Warren, executive editor for "Esquire" magazine.
Mark, you spoke to 90 members of Congress. You know what that means? You
are the only person alive who has spoken to 90 members of Congress.
There`s no member of Congress now who`s done that, which is part of the
horror of being in Congress.
MARK WARREN, ESQUIRE MAGAZINE: One member told me that the only other
person that`s spoken to them is the House psychiatrist, which I took as a
joke, because I don`t know that there is a House psychiatrist. But there
should be one.
WARREN: One doesn`t set out to talk to 90 members of Congress on purpose,
but I was animated by the public mood and the anger at the intransigence of
the Tea Party and those who are determined to sow dysfunction.
So, I just wanted to get them on the phone for a few minutes, a few of
them, just to ask them why they were so bad at their jobs. And then a few
interviews into that, I realized these were deeply anguished people.
WARREN: This was a deeper, more interesting story than that. And they all
have a lot of common pressures being brought to bear on them, external and
internal, that were just crushing them.
O`DONNELL: Yes. I mean, this is a story of people who hate their jobs.
Now, they`re still out there running to hold onto them, which is really --
after I read this, it`s even more peculiar to me. When you see them all
desperately running for reelection, to this thing that they can talk
endlessly to you about how much they hate it.
WARREN: It took on a therapeutic air after a well. Keep in mind, that
gentleman you quoted before was a Republican, talking about another
Republican. And that was reflective of something very interesting that I
found. The difference, the split, the very real deep divide between these
self-described governing conservatives and those who are somewhat less
interested in governing, and there was a real extraordinary divide,
reflecting, they were both, the Republicans I spoke to were both more, had
a deeper sense of grievance, and they were more apt to be self-critical.
O`DONNELL: And you spoke to Senator Pat Leahy, a Democrat from Vermont who
has been there for decades and remembers quell when it worked well, and
when he used to work with Republicans all the tile. His is this kind of
sad voice in the piece, looking back at the way it was.
WARREN: It`s heartbreaking. He reflected his first trip to Moscow when he
was a freshman senator and Humphrey said we`re going on Jerry`s plane
because Senator Leahy thought he would have to pay for his airfare. And he
said, Jerry`s plane, who`s Jerry? Jerry Ford, he`s the president, don`t
you read the papers?
And he -- there`s a real yearning for comity. That kind of comity,
bipartisan groups worming together, really trying to govern, even through
O`DONNELL: Now, you also had the idea of doing another piece in here about
how to make Congress better, and you sat down a few people, wise old hands,
myself included. I was the young wise hand at the table.
But you managed to get Tom Daschle who had been a Democratic leader of the
Senate, Trent Lott, Republican leader of the Senate, Bob Livingston, who
was the House Appropriations chairman, Barney Frank, also a House chairman.
You wanted leadership people. You wanted people who had worked in the
leadership, and people who run committees, because that`s the way the work
is really done there, and we sat down and actually at your suggestion ended
up figuring out a few ways to try to change this that could help. And
we`re going to talk about that on the later shows.
But what`s really stunning to me is the desire that it`s very clear in
this, in your piece, of interviewing these guys and women, that there`s a
tremendous desire to try to fix this place, and have it work better, but
none of them are individually empowered to make any kind of move to do
WARREN: That`s right. There`s a common complaint was the evolution of
power away from the members in committee work to leadership, leadership
bills, foregone conclusions, preventing them from working together and
disincentivising them working together actually. And as I said before, the
Republicans that I spoke to, both more inclined to have grievances, a real
sense of grievance, and also to be more self-critical, as if they are aware
that they have more to answer for, for this current break down.
O`DONNELL: You were in the room when you saw Barney Frank agree with Trent
Lott and Tom Daschle agree with Bob Livingston across that table. That`s
the kind of thing that Pat Leahy was lamenting. That`s type of thing that
happened all the time. It wasn`t easy to make those things happen, but
they did happen, and we knew how to do it.
And it`s an art that I`m not sure how you could re-teach that to the House
of Representatives and the Senate now. There may not be enough people left
who know how to teach that.
WARREN: There is a sense of that. After this round of elections, more
than half of the entire Congress will be in Congress for less than five
O`DONNELL: Yes. That`s a big problem.
WARREN: Senator Leahy has talked about two offices in the Capitol, one of
them being --
O`DONNELL: A so-called hideaway, as the senators called it.
WARREN: Hideaway, he shares the speaker`s balcony.
WARREN: He hosts something called prayer hour and holy water. He invites
everyone. He some green shoots --
O`DONNELL: And prayer hour and holy water does not include any actual holy
WARREN: They have a 12 year old holy water.
He sees green shoots. He invites everyone, across the ideological the
spectrum. And those that say to their constituents back home, things that
make it impossible to govern when they get here, there`s a deep yearning to
solve problems. He sees small reasons for hope.
I don`t know -- I don`t know if it will take elections to solve this
problem or the fix that you guys came up and the commission to fix Congress
can do it.
O`DONNELL: Now, we will talk about that at another time.
Now, there`s a great thing you do in "Esquire", which is you have someone
critique your entire the issue. It`s Rachel Maddow this year. I`m going
to hold it up here so you can see.
Here`s Rachel. There she is right there. She`s written her critique of
the entire magazine, everything in it, including, including her take on
this cover of Penelope Cruz as the sexiest woman alive.
So, you`re going to have to buy "Esquire" magazine or get it. If you read
nothing else in this magazine, you`re going to want to read Rachel`s take
on Penelope Cruz, sexiest woman alive.
Mark Warren --
WARREN: Who`s the best editor we have.
O`DONNELL: That I think is your greatest accomplishment on this, is
getting Rachel to write about all of that.
Mark Warren, thank you very much for joining us.
WARREN: Thank you, Lawrence.
Coming up: a NFL wife will join me to talk about the NFL`s problem with
domestic violence and the problem she`s lived with, with domestic violence.
And the Ebola panic in America is making life very difficult for people
from Liberia who live here in the states, including right here in New York
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No more "it`s none of my business".
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No more "he didn`t mean it".
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No more "not my problem".
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No more "she was flirting with him".
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No more "she was asking for it".
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No more "boys will be boys".
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No more I`ll say something next time.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No more by standing.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No more ignorance.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No more excuses.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No more.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: In the spotlight tonight, the NFL domestic violence and a
cover-up culture. For the past month, the NFL has devoted airtime for that
public service announcement you just saw by the No More Campaign and plays
during NFL games.
This Thursday, the NFL and the No More Campaign will start airing a new set
of PSAs starring dozens of former and current NFL players, such as New York
Giant`s Eli Manning, with a message tailored to fit the new climate. A new
"Washington Post" article describes the culture of he NFL as an insular and
intensely secretive organization where loyalty extends only in one
direction, everyone protects the NFL brand, but the NFL protects its own
interests over everything else."
It`s an environment that my next guest says forced her to remain silent
about the abuse that she says she endured at the hands of her former NFL
player husband Wally Williams.
Joining me now is Dewan Smith -Williams.
Thank you very much for joining us tonight. I know this is not easy to
talk about. But you discussed it with the "Washington Post" in that
article in which this, this culture of -- it was all about this culture of
cover-up in the NFL.
Tell us in your experience how that works, and how it affected you.
DEWAN SMITH-WILLIAMS, WIFE OF RETIRED NFL PLAYER: Well, first of all, I
want to say thank you so much for having me on today and allowing me to
share my experience. When it comes to the NFL, it`s all about protecting
the brand. And in my experience, everything was done to make sure that the
NFL was untarnished. And so, whatever needs to be done to keep that brand,
the NFL, is what is done.
LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC ANCHOR: And what are some of the things that
you`ve heard about in terms of the way they process domestic violence
stories before they become public, say.
SMITH-WILLIAMS: You know, I don`t -- I can`t even give an answer to that,
because they were never, ever addressed. Myself, through my experiences,
when I looked to the league for help, I was -- I was listening on deaf
ears. I mean, they listened, but nothing was ever done. And, again, when
you call the authorities, they don`t do anything either. They choose to
talk about the sporting events of the game and who had what touchdown and
things like that.
O`DONNELL: There`s an anonymous source quoted in the article in "the
Washington Post," another NFL wife who says there`s abuse on every team.
Everybody knows it, but you know not to tell.
And one of the issues that`s involved here is there`s an awful lot of
financial pressure involved in the decision to tell, because there`s a
possible income at stake and a substantial income. That means child
support. That means educational support for children in the family.
Talk about what that pressure is like, considering domestic violence
bringing complaints of domestic violence versus the economic pressure not
SMITH-WILLIAMS: Well, fortunately enough, I, the young lady that was in
the article is a personal friend of mine. And it is the culture as such.
The NFL, if you leave, as a woman that has children, you walk away with
nothing. And not only do you have to fight your spouse or your boyfriend
to take care of your children, but you also have to fight the NFL as well
to make them take care of their families.
People always say to me, well, why didn`t you leave? I have a friend that
said, you know, you really weren`t abused, you know. It`s just the way
that you`re viewing this. And it`s your perception. But, you know, unless
you have your teeth broken, or, you know, a crushed jaw, then I guess
that`s not considered abuse. But people don`t leave because we`re
financially, you know, depending on these men to take care of our lives.
I, myself, was a nurse. I walked away from my nursing job, and I became
his dependent. And because of that I was under his control. When he said
that we were going to do something we did it. If he didn`t want me to do
anything, he didn`t do it.
I started two businesses, P.J.`s coffee shop, and I also started a clothing
line, but when I stepped out of line and I was heard and seen instead of
seen and not heard, he pulled the money from all of those things.
So it`s all about, you know, not only are you fighting the problem within
your relationship, you know, there`s two folds with, you know, are you
really being abused, you know, are you calling the abuse yourself? And,
you know, just where does it end? Where do you get help? You don`t. And
that`s why I`m sitting here talking to you tonight, because for years I
never got help.
O`DONNELL: Yes, I can understand. And, Dewan, I`ve heard some criticize
NFL wives say oh, they stay because there`s millions and millions of
dollars involved. But you know, I got to say, when I was a kid growing, I
saw women staying in marriages like this when there was very little money
involved that leaving the marriage would have been a collapse into instant
poverty. And so, the economic issue plays across income levels.
SMITH-WILLIAMS: Correct. You`re absolutely right. And yes, money does
have something to do with it. But for me, when you fall in love with
someone, and you want a family, and you want to provide your children with
what you had in your home as far as a mother and father, you do whatever
you can to make that happen.
Unfortunately for me, I stayed until I just couldn`t do it anymore. I
could no longer use drugs and alcohol to cope with the situation that I was
living in. To cope with, you know, the women. It`s just a whole another
lifestyle. It`s a whole another lifestyle. And these men have money.
They don`t know what it means to be told no. And they do what they want.
O`DONNELL: Dewan Smith-Williams, thank you very much for joining us
tonight. We understand how difficult this is to talk about. Thank you
SMITH-WILLIAMS: Thank you.
O`DONNELL: Coming up in the rewrite, "The New York Times" published some
leaks from the investigation of the killing of Michael Brown. But "the
Times" is a little confused about how to interpret those leaks.
O`DONNELL: And now for the good news. Gabe White is a 8-year-old first
grader in Wisconsin. He is the honorary manager of his big brother`s
freshman high school football team at Rhinelander high school in Wisconsin.
Last Thursday, Gabe who has down syndrome did something most football
players can only dream of. He ran an 80-yard return of a kickoff for a
(VIDEO CLIP PLAYING)
O`DONNELL: Big credit to the guys from (INAUDIBLE) high school on the
opposing team who tried, tried to tackle Gabe but just couldn`t. The
rewrite is next.
O`DONNELL: On Saturday, "The New York Times" published what it calls quote
"the first public account of officer Wilson`s testimony to investigators."
And if you think that that means that "The New York Times" quoted "Ferguson
police officer Darren Wilson`s testimony to investigators about how and why
he shot and killed an unarmed teenager, Michael Brown, you will be sadly
disappointed once again in the "New York Times" coverage of the killing of
In Saturday`s Times article, the only descriptions of what happened that
day that appear in quotes come from witnesses who have already told their
stories, publicly on this program and elsewhere. In fact, the "New York
Times" article did not have an account of officer Wilson`s testimony to
investigators. It simply had some leaks by, quote, "government officials
briefed on the federal sift rights investigation."
And those leaks included a summarized version of what Darren Wilson had to
say about what happened inside his police car, which is essentially what
the Ferguson police told us two months ago. The Times pretended that it
had a scoop in the first sentence of the article when it says the police
officer who fatally shot Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri two months has
told investigators that he was pinned in his vehicle and in fear of his --
for his life as he struggled over his gun with Mr. Brown.
Now, that`s not news. We heard that before from authorities in Missouri.
The Times adds, officer Wilson told the authorities that Mr. Brown had
punched and scratched him repeatedly leaving him swallowing on his face and
cuts on his neck. Again, not news, except for those people who rushed to
believe the completely the fraud length story that officer Wilson had a
fractured ice socket.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BILL O`REILLY, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: We also hear today that officer Wilson has
an orbital blowout of hissy so eye socket. The Factor has not been able to
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: No, it hasn`t. The useful information in "the New York Times`
article is the circumstantial evidence leaked by the government officials
who told the Times that the FBI forensic tests show that officer Wilson`s
gun was fired twice inside the car with the first bullet hitting Michael
Brown in the arm, and the second bullet missing him completely.
The Times days the forensic tests showed Mr. Brown`s blood on the gun as
well as on the interior panel and on officer Wilson`s uniform. The Times
then gets very confused about what those forensic findings mean. The
article says it contradicts some witness accounts but then fails to point
out any contradictions because "The New York Times" and its reporters do
not seem to understand what an actual contradiction is in eye witness
When a witness says, as Michael Brown`s friend did, that one shot was fired
inside the car and it turns out two shots were fired inside the car, that
does not contradict an eye witness who says a shot was fired inside the
car. It is very common for conscientious witnesses to get shot counts
slightly wrong. One instead of two, six instead of ten.
Listen to this audio of a video text message that recorded what many
believe are some of the shots that officer Wilson fired.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You are pretty. You`re so fine. Just going, how could
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Now I`ve explained before what you were hearing in the vocal
part of that was a guy doing a video message where he didn`t realize the
shots were being fired in the background. And if you just listened to that
audio without consciously trying to count every one of those shots, you
will not get the number right when we ask you how many shots you heard, and
you might not get it right even if you are consciously trying to count
every shot the first time you hear it.
And, remember, if you`re on the scene, on the street as an eye witness and
a gun is being fired, your ability to flawlessly record every distinct
sound while trying to protect your own life might be imperfect, and the
courts understand that. Juries understand that. The law and juries do not
demand perfect consistency between circumstantial evidence and eye witness
evidence, but the "New York Times" does.
The "New York Times" has demonstrated that its reporters and editors have
been woefully incompetent in evaluating the evidence in this case. It
pains me as much to have to say as much on this program eight weeks ago,
the next day, "the New York Times" public editor agreed with my criticism
of the Times article that I ripped apart for you that night right here at
The important thing about the forensic evidence that the Times revealed on
Saturday is that it is consistent so far with every version of the story
we`ve heard, including officer Wilson`s. That`s right. Forensic evidence
can be, and often is, consistent with more than one version of what
happened in a shooting situation, which is something that the "New York
Times" does not seem to know.
The forensic evidence is consistent with officer Wilson`s claim that
Michael Brown reached inside the car and tried to hit him and tried to grab
his gun. But it is also consistent with Michael Brown`s friend`s testimony
that the officer Wilson tried to pull Michael Brown inside the car where
gun went off.
The forensic evidence is also consistent with Tiffany Mitchell`s testimony
that she saw some kind of struggle at the car.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TIFFANY MITCHELL, EYEWITNESS: As I get closer, I see Michael and the
officer wrestling through the window. Michael was pushing, like trying to
get away from the officer, and the officer`s trying to pull him in.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: I see Michael and the officer wrestling through the window.
That`s what she saw, and that`s what the forensic evidence shows. And we
know that at some point Michael was pushing to get away, because he did in
fact runaway. His body was not found at the door of the officer`s car.
Michael Brown ran away from the officer, and while he was running away,
officer Wilson fired several shots at Michael Brown. There is not one word
in The New York Times article that claims to be the first public account of
officer Wilson`s testimony, not one word of why officer Wilson fired ten
shots at Michael Brown after he ran away from officer Wilson.
And according to the law, each one of those shots has to be justified.
Each one of those shots has to be fired because officer Wilson is
protecting himself from imminent threat of death or serious physical
In "the New York Times" article which claims to be officer Wilson`s account
does not contain one word of explanation as to why officer Wilson fired
anyone of those ten shots. Officer Wilson`s friends at the Ferguson police
department would love to offer an explanation as to why he fired those ten
shots. They never have. They have never leaked such an explanation.
On the stake of the evidence tonight, there is not a hint of justification
for any one of those ten shots. That is the point that former federal
agent Jim Cavanaugh and I have been making for the last past couple months
that there were at least two separate decisions to fire officer Wilson`s
gun. The first firing in the car we have never been able to offer a
judgment on that, based on the evidence as to whether those shots inside
the car were justified. And we`ve never suggested that we know whether
they were justified or not. They may have been justified. We have never
argued that point.
What we have been searching for and have never found is any kind of
justification for officer Wilson to fire at Michael Brown after officer
Wilson got out of the car to fire at Michael Brown, who he knows, then, is
unarmed and fleeing.
When Michael Brown is running away from him, not one explanation has
emerged as to why officer Wilson fired his gun when Michael Brown was
running away from him.
And with Jim`s and mine combined experience in studying these cases over
decades, we have not been able to come up with any legal theory of those
ten shots, any legal justification. And the "New York Times" hasn`t
either. And Saturday`s "New York Times" article concentrated entirely on
the first two shots that were fired and never mentioned the last one. The
last one was the shot that killed Michael Brown.
Officer Wilson fired it into the teenager`s head as he was falling to the
ground. Some witnesses say stumbling forward to the ground with his hands
up in a clear sign of surrender. Officer Wilson had already shot Michael
Brown five times, including once in the face, but he wasn`t finished. He
fired that final shot right into Michael Brown`s skull and killed him. And
when the "New York Times" can explain why officer Wilson fired that last
shot, then we will finally have the answer we`ve all been looking for.
O`DONNELL: What America`s Ebola panic means to Liberians living here in
the United States, that`s next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We get the news every day from Liberia that
somebody`s family member has just got Ebola, and the whole household just
died. Every day we get news from Liberia, every day.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Everyone is no longer at ease in his or her home
because of fear of losing their loved ones.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I lost eight aunties, one uncle. And the rest of
them are cousins.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Fifteen already. All in one month.
I wish I could help them.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Those people you just heard from don`t live in Liberia. They
live on Staten Island right here in New York city, but they are from
Liberia and still have many relatives there where more than half of the
people killed by the Ebola outbreak are located in Liberia.
Joining me now is the president of the Staten Island Liberian community
association, Oretha Bestman-Yates.
Aretha, first of all, Staten Island is my favorite part is you get to live
there. But so, it is the center of the Liberian community in New York
city. What are some of the problems people are running into now here in
New York once people discover are you from Liberia?
ORETHA BESTMAN-YATES, PRESIDENT, STATEN ISLAND LIBERIAN COMMUNITY
ASSOCIATION: The whole community has been stigmatized by this Ebola
crisis. When you are asked about where you`re from, when you speak, you
know, open, when you say Liberia, people pull away from you. And many
people are losing their jobs, you know.
I had a community member that was on a train on one of the subway cars.
And he was on the phone talking to a friend. And everyone just cleared the
whole car because of him. So this is getting serious, and it has to stop.
We have talked about this in the news, you know. We have a campaign that
most Liberian have on their social network pages talking about I`m a
Liberian and I`m not a virus, you know. We are already worried and in dire
need of help for our people. And to be coming, to be coming to this is
just ridiculous. And we just think it is just wrong.
O`DONNELL: And you were last in Liberia in July. Things were pretty bad
in Liberia then. Were you worried about going to Liberia in July?
BESTMAN-YATES: Before I went to Liberia, it was not as bad as they were
saying here. When I got there, I went to get my nieces from Monroeville to
another city, and because of the Ebola crisis in Monrovia at the time. But
when I got back to the states, like the Liberians are first to take the
Ebola epidemic seriously, it was not a joke. They didn`t believe that we,
you know, had Ebola in Liberia. So we`re trying to talk to people in the
community, this is real, you know. Not till Mr. Patrick Ebola, and the two
healthcare workers from the Samaritan Purse got infected with Ebola before
Liberians actually believe we had Ebola.
O`DONNELL: Even from what they were hearing from their relatives in
Liberia, they still weren`t worrying about it here.
BESTMAN-YATES: They were not worrying about it.
O`DONNELL: Wow - that`s amazing! Oretha Bestman-Yates, thank you very
much for joining us tonight. Really appreciate it.
Chris Hayes is up next.
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