November 12, 2014
Guest: John Brabender, John Morse, Aaron Sorkin, Jay Newton-Small,
CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: Battle of the planet.
Let`s play HARDBALL.
Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Washington.
And depending on your view of science, today is a landmark date in world
history, human history. If you believe that man is hurting the future of
life on this planet by the burning of fossil fuels, affecting climate and
therefore the human habitat, today is a day to remember with pride.
President Obama just announced an historic deal with China to cap emissions
by the largest carbon polluter in the world.
If, however, you are the new incoming chairman of the Senate Environment
Committee, all this science and all this deal-making is just a hoax, just
like evolution and others advances in human understanding of life on this
More than that, it`s an affront to God, an abomination of scripture. Here
is James Inhofe of Oklahoma on the impossibility of climate change. It`s
from Genesis. Quote, "As long as the earth remains, there will be seed
time and harvest, cold and heat, winter and summer, day and night." In
other words, man, no matter his destructiveness, intended or not, cannot
hurt the health of the planet. He cannot affect the environment.
This from a man who claims to represent Oklahoma, scene of the Dust Bowl of
the 1930s, when fields turned to dust thrown by the winds until people
couldn`t see and had to flee to California. Droughts alone, by the way,
didn`t cause that horror. It was man`s abuse of the land, over-grazing and
exhausting the topsoil.
Now to the real world of today. China is pledging to cap its carbon
emissions by the year 2030. They will also invest heavily in clean energy.
In exchange, the U.S., which is currently the second biggest carbon
polluter, has pledged to slash emissions by up to 28 percent by 2025.
Well, "The New York Times" described the deal as remarkable. The
Associated Press called it groundbreaking.
On the Republican Planet of the Apes, however, the deal is being called a
charade. Just hours after it was announced, Senator Mitch McConnell
slammed it as a failure and a partisan attack. Watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MINORITY LEADER: The problem is the president
continues to send signals that he has no intention of moving toward the
middle. I was particularly distressed about the deal, apparently, he`s
reached with the Chinese on his current trip, which as I read the
agreement, requires the Chinese to do nothing at all for 16 years, while
these carbon emission regulations are creating havoc in my state and other
states around the country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, today`s deal is just the beginning of the president`s war
on the Republican Flat Earth Society of climate change deniers. Politico
reports that the Obama administration is set to roll out a series of
climate and pollution measures that rivals any president`s environmental
actions of the past quarter century.
David Corn, of course, is the Washington bureau chief with "Mother Jones"
and John Brabender is, of course, the Republican strategist. He`s been
dubbed the political guru to Rick Santorum`s entire career.
MATTHEWS: Let`s talk about this because climate change is often put on the
back burner politically, but this is a pretty big deal. I mean, if the
president`s going to get anything on record, cutting a deal with China
reminds me of the old SALT talks with the Soviet Union, where we did get
them to stop building weapons. Go ahead.
DAVID CORN, "MOTHER JONES," MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: This is a big deal
because it a conceptual breakthrough because up to now, China has been
reluctant to pledge any details about cutting back emissions. And what
they`re going to -- their emissions will grow and cap and then come down,
and ours are coming down because we`ve already polluted our way to
prosperity. They`re still in the middle of doing so.
So Republicans are making a big deal out of this asymmetry. But the
nations of the world --
MATTHEWS: What`s the Republican plan?
CORN: There is no plan. They don`t believe in science. And the big --
you know, you got to this in your great intro, Chris. The big point here,
are we going to have policies that are based on science and rational
thought, or are we just going to read the Bible, which people are free to
do, and say everything will work out? That seems to be a pretty clear
divide, and that`s really what`s happening here.
So when Mitch McConnell gets out there, he doesn`t have a plan. He has
nothing to say about the science and the policy. It`s just a partisan
attack because dealing with climate change means dealing with coal.
MATTHEWS: Why does Jim Inhofe -- I don`t know the fellow. I know he`s
from Oklahoma, which makes sense. Why is he using the Bible to oppose
climate change, saying, We can`t --
JOHN BRABENDER, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: I`m not --
MATTHEWS: Why is he doing that?
BRABENDER: That`s a Jim Inhofe question, but I will say this. First of
all, it`s very clear that, evidently --
MATTHEWS: If that`s --
BRABENDER: Evidently, the president must have whispered in the ears of the
Chinese that he could be more flexible on negotiating climate change after
the election because The deal that he just negotiated, as Senator McConnell
pointed out, was ridiculous. You give the Chinese 16 years to try to --
MATTHEWS: How many years would you give them?
BRABENDER: That`s not the whole point.
MATTHEWS: No, it is the point!
BRABENDER: The negotiation was we made a commitment to what the United
States is going to do, and the Chinese made a commitment to try --
CORN: No, no, no, no, no --
BRABENDER: -- and India wasn`t even at the table!
CORN: No, no. Wait, wait. John, if this how you guys are going to go
about this, it`s never going to happen. Right now, China has hundreds of
thousands of people still living in abject poverty. They`re using coal-
fired stoves inside their own houses! So it`s not unfair for China to say,
We have to, you know, build our way out (sic) of prosperity, and we`ll
start tapering off because you have already done that.
BRABENDER: There`s a lot of Americans who are worried about their job.
And let me ask you this. If you`re a coal miner in West Virginia, are you
sitting there today and saying because of what Obama did, your job, your
family`s income which puts food on the table for your family is more
BRABENDER: If you`re a small business owner? No! So I don`t care as much
about China as I do the United States --
MATTHEWS: -- being in the arms business justify wars?
BRABENDER: No, that doesn`t --
MATTHEWS: No. You say if a guy makes a living doing something, we have to
keep doing it.
CORN: No, the question --
BRABENDER: What I`m saying, though, is we have to look at American
perspective. Second of all, what this president did --
CORN: But tobacco --
MATTHEWS: OK, let me ask the question --
CORN: Tobacco farmers are a good example here. We came to the point where
we realized that tobacco was killing people. And yes, doing something
about it, doing education efforts, would hurt those farmers and --
BRABENDER: And you know what? Coal --
BRABENDER: Coal and shale are making us energy-independent!
CORN: But it`s also killing the planet!
MATTHEWS: Let`s take a look at Mitch McConnell. He`s one of the leaders,
of course, the Republican Party right now, and he is very much a guy
against this whole discussion we`re having, which now includes a new batch,
by the way, his new allies, of elected senators like Joni Ernst of Iowa.
Let`s watch McConnell in action here because he`s right at this fight.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MINORITY LEADER: I`m not a scientist. I am
interested in protecting Kentucky`s economy.
JONI ERNST (R), IOWA SENATOR-ELECT: I -- I don`t know that science behind
climate change. I can`t say one way or another what is the direct impact.
I do believe in protecting our environment, but without the job-killing
regulations that are coming out of the EPA.
REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: I`m not qualified to
debate the science over climate change. But I am astute enough to
understand that every proposal that has come out of the this administration
to deal with climate change involves hurting our economy and killing
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: You know -- you know, let`s go to something very basic here.
U.S. senators and U.S. congresspeople -- I used to be one of them, have a
lot of staff people. They do a lot of work for them. They can do
executive summaries. They can make it easy. They give a little reading
list to take home at night. They do have some free time to read, and
they`re legislating on issues of the environment. Why do they keep saying
in your party, "I don`t know"?
BRABENDER: Because --
MATTHEWS: How can you keep saying "I don`t know"?
BRABENDER: The arrogance of the Obama administration --
CORN: No, no!
BRABENDER: They`ve come to a conclusion that all the scientists have said
one thing, when that`s not true!
MATTHEWS: Well, 97 percent.
BRABENDER: -- not true. It`s not 97 percent. There`s very prominent
scientists who say --
CORN: You know, John --
BRABENDER: -- they don`t know.
CORN: John, you know, there was a great ad during the Reagan years -- If
there`s a bear in the woods, what do we do? In this instance, a
predominance of scientific thought says there`s a bear in the woods, and
it`s going to chew up the planet, so what do you do about it? If you want
to -- you can always find two or three scientists who deny anything, but
the predominant thought is that this is happening, it`s real, and we have a
MATTHEWS: All right, let me ask you this --
CORN: But are you saying then we should just ignore that?
CORN: What would you do differently?
BRABENDER: I`m saying the arrogance of this president --
CORN: That`s not --
BRABENDER: -- to not even let leaders of -- of -- of Republican or
Democrat party know what he`s doing! Second of all --
CORN: That`s not the issue here, John!
BRABENDER: -- let me ask you this. Why down in Louisiana now is Mary
Landrieu coming out saying we need the XL pipeline?
MATTHEWS: Because she represents the oil industry!
BRABENDER: She understands what it represents --
MATTHEWS: -- the oil industry. That`s why. Let`s take a look. Well,
if you`re a Republicans with ambition these days, denying science is your
ticket. This is how a sampling, by the way, of the 2016 field has some
full-fledged climate deniers among it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. RAND PAUL (R), KENTUCKY: We have, you know, real data about 100
years, so somebody tell me what 100 years` data is in an earth that`s 4.6
billion years old. My guess is that the conclusions that you make from
that are not conclusive.
SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R), FLORIDA: I do not believe that human activity is
causing these dramatic changes to our climate the way these scientists are
RICK SANTORUM (R-PA), FMR. SEN., FMR. PRES. CANDIDATE: It`s really a
beautifully concocted scheme because I know the earth is going to cool and
warm. And so it`s been on a warming trend (INAUDIBLE) let`s take advantage
of that and say that we need the government to come in and regulate your
life some more!
JEB BUSH (R), FMR. FLORIDA GOVERNOR: It is not unanimous among scientists
that it is -- it is disproportionately manmade. What I think on the left I
get a little tired of is this idea that -- the sanctimonious idea that
somehow, science has decided all of this, and so therefore, you can`t have
DANA BASH, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Do you believe climate change
SEN. TED CRUZ (R), TEXAS: You know, I am always troubled by a theory that
fits every perfect situation. You know, back in the `70s -- I remember the
`70s -- we were told there was global cooling.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, you got to hand it to Ted Cruz. He`s got a hell of a
memory. He was actually born in December of 1970. He was between the ages
of 0 and 9 back when he remembered all this debate about the climate
CORN: Yes, you know --
MATTHEWS: I was older than him then, and I don`t remember it, but he
remembered it when he was, like, 2!
CORN: Every --
MATTHEWS: What is he talking about?
CORN: Everything we heard about in that super (ph) cut (ph) is disproven
and has no basis in what we know about the science. Rand Paul is wrong
about 100 years of data. We have scientists who`ve drilled down, have
gotten thousands and epoch -- epochal time --
MATTHEWS: And what was this about --
MATTHEWS: -- protecting the Koch brothers oil industry?
CORN: You know --
CORN: The question is --
MATTHEWS: Why is the Republican Party the party of oil and gas?
CORN: I don`t know why. Maybe because -- I don`t understand why the
Republican Party so anti-science. And the idea that, like, Well, I have a
different view, it`s just you`re sanctimonious if I say (sic) my
unscientific view is not as legitimate as that based on the science. You
know, these talking points they come up with seem to be effective, but at
the same point, they`re irrational and they are just --
MATTHEWS: Let me -- let me talk about the Republican Party. Is the
Republican Party --
MATTHEWS: Wasn`t it the party of Teddy Roosevelt and conservation? That
was Teddy Roosevelt. Your party used to believe in conservation.
BRABENDER: The problem you have is the American people agree (sic) with
you. Tom Steyer spent $70 million making the exact point --
MATTHEWS: OK --
BRABENDER: -- David is trying to make in all the targeted Senate races.
Where were the people marching to the polls, saying, Oh, my gosh, we got to
MATTHEWS: Every time we talk climate change, you say, It won`t sell, the
people aren`t interested, it affects jobs. Why don`t you talk about
science and talk about if it`s true or not?
BRABENDER: I`m happy to talk about science. And the truth of the matter
is, science doesn`t agree on this issue! And there`s two issues --
CORN: There is such an overwhelming consensus, you can`t say that! There
is an overwhelming consensus on --
MATTHEWS: OK, let`s take a look --
CORN: -- on this point
MATTHEWS: Let`s (INAUDIBLE) about Inhofe, the guy who`s going to call the
shots. He`s head of the science committee now, as of this January, coming
in. The biggest climate denier in the Republican Party now is going to
run, as I said, the Senate`s committee on the environment. Here`s Senator
Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma in his own words.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JAMES INHOFE (R), OKLAHOMA: The notion that man-made gases,
anthropogenic gases, CO2 caused global warming is probably the greatest
hoax ever perpetrated on the American people.
This 97 percent -- that doesn`t mean anything.
Regulating cap-and-trade is a bureaucrat`s dream. If you regulate carbon,
you regulate life.
My point is, God`s still up there. And this is -- and the arrogance of
people who think that we human beings would be able to change what he is
doing in the climate is to me outrageous.
You might remember it was 2003 when I made the statement that the idea that
the idea that man-made gases, CO2 are causing catastrophic global warming
is the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people. And I was
hated at that time, but now people realize I was right.
The fact that all this is happening is due to man-made gases I really
believe is the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: What do you make of him using Genesis?
BRABENDER: Well, look, what he wants to use as an illustrative point --
that`s up to him. I`m not going to play that game here. I don`t think
it`s right. But I do think that we have to understand is this argument
comes down to three different points on climate. Number one is, is the
numbers too small of a time period to know if it`s accurate or is an
aberration? Number two is, is it man-caused? And there`s disagreement on
that. And number three --
CORN: There`s not disagreement!
BRABENDER: Number three --
CORN: You can`t say that.
BRABENDER: -- is, what is the net effect? Is it really that dramatic or
CORN: But we have science that has been studying this for 30, 40, 50
years, and they`ve answered these questions, John, if you care. George
H.W. Bush went to Rio because he accepted the science. George W. Bush
accepted the science!
BRABENDER: See, this is why --
CORN: Now --
BRABENDER: Where do you think this is as far as --
MATTHEWS: OK --
BRABENDER: -- issues that American people care about?
CORN: I`m not talking -- I`m talking about should policy and the
politicians who advocate policy be based on science or not? Put aside
public opinion for now. It`s important, but it`s not always the most
CORN: And Rick Santorum, who ran as a principled conservative, would agree
with that point. He wasn`t always in line with --
MATTHEWS: OK, we have to stop now.
CORN: -- popular opinion.
MATTHEWS: But I (INAUDIBLE) remind everybody why this is the Republican
Party`s position in the next election. They`re not going to let anybody
like you or me moderate a debate because they don`t want questions about
evolution and these basic information questions to be asked of them because
they`re embarrassing. I think your party doesn`t want to be debating this
BRABENDER: What they don`t want --
MATTHEWS: They don`t want to be debating evolution and all their other
BRABENDER: I think they`re happy to -- what they don`t want to do is, like
last time, have 20 debates where the main topic is things on contraception,
where there`s nobody in the Republican Party that thinks we should do
anything to limit contraception, but all of a sudden, you start debating it
MATTHEWS: Who brought up the issue of contraception in the last election?
MATTHEWS: Rick Santorum brought it up.
BRABENDER: The first time it ever came up was in a debate by a moderator -
MATTHEWS: OK, we have the tape, and we`ll play it for you tomorrow night.
BRABENDER: Go right ahead.
MATTHEWS: Just in your honor, we`ll play it. This is (INAUDIBLE) We ought
to be talking about birth control, as Rick Santorum said.
Anyway, thank you. We have tape here, and I`m not sarcastic. Is it fair
to say we can use tape here?
BRABENDER: Well, it dates you a little bit.
MATTHEWS: Oh, thank you. David Corn and John Brabender for the defense.
Coming up: Democrats have just won victory over the NRA out in Colorado.
Do you believe it? They got back two seats from the NRA. Last year, the
gun lobby and its allies recalled two Democrats in the middle of their
terms and rammed through two pro-gun Republicans. Well, last Tuesday, it
was pushback time for the Democrats and the gun control people.
And Aaron Sorkin, the man behind "A Few Good Men," "The West Wing," "The
American President," "The Social Network" is here to talk about the final
season of his hit HBO drama "The Newsroom."
This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: Well, it`s been more than a week now since election night, but
we still have some results to report. NBC News has projected Republican
Dan Sullivan as the apparent winner in the Alaska Senate race. The former
state attorney general holds a slight lead over first-term incumbent Mark
Begich, who has yet to concede. Sullivan`s win brings the Republican gain
in the U.S. Senate to eight seats, with Louisiana still to go.
And we`ll be right back.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. Last month, in a school shooting
outside, Seattle we were reminded once again of the horror that can be
caused by gun violence. Three 14-year-olds were killed by a classmate
armed with a gun in their school cafeteria. And this past Friday, the
death toll rose when Andrew Fryberg, the shooter`s cousin, died as a result
of wounds sustained in that massacre.
The battle over guns continues, of course. Last year in Colorado, two
Democratic state senators were subject to recall elections and ousted in an
NRA-led revolt for their support of the new state`s new gun control laws.
And one of those state senators, John Morse, joined us on HARDBALL the day
after he was recalled.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN MORSE (D), FMR. COLORADO STATE SENATOR: But if you lift the hood just
a skosh, you see they only got 9,100 votes turned out. They actually
didn`t do a very good job of this at all.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, Morse was right. During the midterm elections last week,
Colorado voters defeated the pro-gun Republicans, and handily elected their
Democratic opponents. In Washington state, a ballot measure to increase
background checks for gun owners -- gun buyers, actually -- won 59 percent
to 41 percent. Pretty strong lead there.
It`s not an accident that both Colorado and Washington state both have
mail-in ballots, which allow far greater voting access. More people vote
in those states. It`s a two-step process here, really. Step one, let
people vote easily by mailing them their ballots. Two, let them vote on
issues like this, and then perhaps the will of the people, four out of five
of whom nationally support expended background checks, will finally be
reflected in the law.
Joining me right now is the former president of the Colorado State Senate,
the aforementioned John Morse, and MSNBC contributor Ron Reagan.
Senator, thank you for joining us.
Let`s just talk about the way -- this two-step process. You get more
people to vote by mailing them ballots. You don`t make it complicated, no
voter suppression, and then you let them vote on key issues themselves, so
they can`t be lobbied. It`s hard to lobby a citizen. It`s easy to lobby a
JOHN MORSE (D), FORMER COLORADO STATE SENATOR: Well, there are millions of
dollars spent lobbying those citizens.
I mean, in Colorado, we have the easiest ballot initiative process in the
country, the easiest way to change a constitution, a state`s constitution
in the country. We have ballot initiatives on every two years. Sometimes,
seriously, we have 16 or 18 individual issues on the ballot.
Millions and millions and millions of dollars are spent with television
ads, and they obviously boil those things down to 30-second sound bits,
some of which aren`t actually very accurate as to what really goes on with
that particular issue. And sometimes they are.
MATTHEWS: Were the issues accurate on guns? Those elections --
MORSE: Well --
MATTHEWS: This was in Washington State, actually. They had a very clear
vote for greater -- greater background checks. And that succeeded this
year, this past Tuesday.
And I`m not as intimately familiar, obviously, with what goes on in
Washington, but it does seem like it`s pretty easy to say, shall we require
folks to get background checks before they buy a gun? And as you
suggested, 80 percent, 85 percent of the people agree with that.
And yet legislators across the country, legislatures across the country
haven`t been able to accomplish it.
MATTHEWS: Well, explain that.
MORSE: Well --
MATTHEWS: Why is there a differential between people and what they want
and what their representatives agree to? What interrupts that passage of
people`s thinking one thing, wanting one thing and somewhere between that
in our representative democracy the people they vote for get cooperated by
the gun owners -- the gun manufacturers in many cases?
MORSE: And it`s incredibly frustrating. That did not happen in Colorado.
And obviously the gun lobby is using Colorado as an example that if you do
take a stand, just a commonsense stand -- we didn`t do anything all that
profound in Colorado, but if you take that commonsense approach, we will
What we did, background checks, limiting the size of magazines, all of that
save lives. And that`s worth doing. It`s in the public interest to do.
In my view, every legislator across the country ought to stand up and do
it, because it`s the right thing to do.
But those that oppose us, just like those 9,100 people that voted against
me, they managed by 319 votes to actually oust me because the folks on the
other side are not as passionate about, hey, we need to stop killing
MORSE: Well, nobody I know has died, so it`s not that big a deal. When
somebody you do know dies, believe me, it`s a huge deal. And we can
MATTHEWS: I know.
MORSE: So, we need to do it ahead of time.
MATTHEWS: I agree. The gun people, the gun -- people who think only about
that issue are hard to beat.
Anyway, Washington State`s initiative, it`s called 594. It increased
background checks. It spearheaded by a campaign manager that had enough of
political inaction -- quote -- "We really believe that elected officials
are elected to basically compose solutions to really complicated social
problems, but they have totally punted on this one. They have completely
avoided responsibility. In the absence of their action, we decided to take
Ron Reagan, thank you. Your thoughts about how we get citizens back into
the world of gun safety. I know somebody -- you know him quite well --
people that should have never had a gun in their hands gets access to it
because they just -- nobody wants any checks on this. They want anybody
who wants to have a gun to have one in their hands. That`s the only
justification for avoiding a background check.
RON REAGAN, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Well, the leadership of the NRA feels that
way, but remember the NRA doesn`t even represent their membership
accurately. And 70 percent of NRA members would like universal background
And, as a matter of fact, if your background check system isn`t universal,
it`s essentially worthless. If you know you can just go across the street
and avoid a background check, then it makes no sense to have a background
check at the official gun store at all. You`re not stopping anybody from
getting a gun that you don`t want to have a gun.
But this is a perfect example in Washington State of how state governments
are -- and states are ahead of Washington, D.C., and the people in the
states are ahead of their own government. The government here in
Washington, the state government in Washington here twice in the last two
years didn`t -- failed to pass a universal -- universal background check
The people insisted putting it on the ballot. And it passes with 60
percent of the vote. The NRA is a paper tiger at this point, Chris. They
have been floating along on a big cloud of political cravenness for years
now, but the people, and, as I said, even NRA members don`t agree with NRA
MATTHEWS: Let me get back to the -- let me go back to the senator.
Senator Morse, it seems to me that one of the arguments of the gun people
is we`re regular folk out there in the country and we represent the people,
but yet when you let the people vote, the regular people out there are
regular people, they`re not gun nuts, and the regular people say, sure, I
don`t mind having a shotgun, my neighbor having one, me having one. I
don`t mind them using them for all kinds of hunting, and practicing and
But you ought to have a check on whether crazy people have a gun or not or
criminals get a gun or not. That`s only common sense. We make sure people
that get on airplanes are the people they claim to be. What`s -- I guess I
don`t understand. Can you ever explain to me -- can anybody why anyone
would be against a background check as a principle?
MORSE: And, no, except that they say the Second Amendment means you can`t
have any restrictions, no matter what, under any circumstances, which we
all know the Supreme Court even in the Heller decision, which allowed some
more gun rights than really the Constitution, in my view, suggests -- it --
even it says, of course government can regulate guns and restrict them and
keep them out of the hands of dangerous people.
But it really is an ideology, because you`re exactly right. And everything
that we did -- we did five separate things in Colorado. Every one of them
had majority support with the electorate in the state or the with citizenry
in the state, and background checks by 85 percent, but they didn`t like it.
Magazine limitations by over 50 percent, but they didn`t like it. And so
they`re lying, truthfully, when they say, hey, we represent people and this
is what people think. No. It`s what some people think. It`s what a
minority of people think.
But they show up and they vote every single time religiously, and the rest
of us that believe differently sometimes sit out an election or don`t cast
a ballot on a particular issue or a particular contest, and we pay the
MATTHEWS: I understand. I got to go -- I got to go back -- Senator, I got
to go to Ron on this.
You live up in Washington State. Is that state leading the way or is it
just an odd liberal state that thinks gun control is normal?
REAGAN: No, I think it is leading the way.
Again, if 70 percent of NRA members wants universal background checks, that
tells you something, it seems to me. This is commonsense stuff. Now, I
can answer your question, by the way, about the ideology. You know why
these people don`t want universal background checks?
REAGAN: They see it. They`re peddling the paranoid delusion that
universal background checks will create a registry of guns and that our
fascist government is going to come and confiscate all those weapons.
That is the paranoid conspiracy fantasy that they are peddling to insecure
males throughout America who see guns as a vital part of their anatomy, and
they don`t want to take it away. That`s the reason.
MATTHEWS: Well, maybe they`re afraid somebody -- Ron, maybe they`re afraid
somebody is going to come and collect that vital part of their anatomy,
along with a gun.
REAGAN: That`s --
MATTHEWS: They could well be. Who knows what they`re thinking.
MATTHEWS: Thank you, buddy. Thank you, Ron Reagan in that beautifully
enlightened state of Washington State.
And, thank you, Senator Morse.
Up next, politics, news, conflict, and drama. Screenwriter legend Aaron
Sorkin is coming here to play HARDBALL.
And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back.
Well, the third and I`m sad to say final season of HBO`s "The Newsroom"
premiered this past Sunday.
A key storyline this year revolves around a leak of stolen government
documents. In this scene from this coming week`s episode, journalists and
lawyers debate whether or not to run the story for the TV show. Let`s
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "THE NEWSROOM")
JEFF DANIELS, ACTOR: Two lawyers in the room say no.
UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: The two journalists in the room say yes.
DANIELS: There are three journalists.
UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: Did I count that one?
DANIELS: If you think being an ass is going to make me less inclined to
protect you, think again, Motbo (ph). I can out-ass anyone in the tristate
UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS: He`s telling the truth, Neal.
DANIELS: You know, it feels like you`re on my side, but just barely.
UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS: You make that poor girl work on a Saturday?
DANIELS: She`s a recent journalism school graduate. I`m just completing
her education. What she is learning from me can`t be found in books.
UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS: Yes?
DANIELS: I would like a Doctor Pepper, please.
UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS: Sure.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Aaron Sorkin is the writer and executive producer of "The
Newsroom." He joins me now.
Well, you like to mix in the comic relief and the serious question, but
here it is. What`s a journalist to do when they`re confronted with an
illegality and the need to make news?
AARON SORKIN, EXECUTIVE PRODUCER, "THE NEWSROOM": I don`t know. You
tell me. I just like the conflict.
MATTHEWS: You always say that.
SORKIN: Well, we -- I don`t try to answer these questions. I just -- I
throw them out there and let the arguments happen someplace later.
MATTHEWS: Well, let`s talk about the thing you do deal with regularly in
this program in this show, "Newsroom," which everybody likes, which is the
battle between getting the ratings up -- in fact, there was a great scene
last week where he thought he had put on a fabulous show.
I know what that is like.
SORKIN: Yes, they thought they did everything right and they ended up in
MATTHEWS: I had a recent experience with that, so I know all about that,
when you think -- I always say it`s like a necessary, but not a sufficient
You do the show of your life, and it might get a great rating. You do a
term show, and you realize it later it always gets a bad rating.
MATTHEWS: So, it`s only necessary, but it`s not sufficient to getting a
good number, doing great news reporting, at all.
MATTHEWS: Your thought.
SORKIN: Well, listen, I believe in market forces. I`m a capitalist, But
we know that there are some places where market forces don`t work. One of
those places is the news. So what do you do?
MATTHEWS: Yes, we did climate change tonight. And we had a guy on from
the right. Brabender is a good guy, but he`s a conservative, and he says
nobody cares. He kept saying all through the show and afterwards, nobody
cares, nobody cares. But we did it anyway because it`s damned important.
MATTHEWS: Because the president of the United States and the Chinese
leadership decided for whatever good reason -- I think a good reason --
we`re going to protect the planet. I think that`s important.
SORKIN: I think it`s important too.
And if nobody cares, isn`t it the job of journalists to get people to care?
MATTHEWS: Well said.
SORKIN: To say -- in other words, if you said this is the top story
tonight, the world is coming to an end because of climate change, that is
going to get people to care.
MATTHEWS: But first the Kardashians. Anyway --
MATTHEWS: -- here`s another clip from an upcoming episode of "Newsroom"
dealing with another major plotline this season, the sale of the channel.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "THE NEWSROOM")
UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: The buyer is a man named Lucas Pruitt (ph).
He`s 43 and lives --
UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS: In Palo Alto, no wife, no kids.
UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: Stanford `92, Harvard MBA.
UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS: Goldman for five years as a tech analyst. Then he
left to start his own company.
UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: Yes, I don`t know what they do.
UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS: They made a Wi-Fi accelerator.
UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS: He`s the 1,398th richest person in the world.
Can I ask some questions? Did they try to Twins` ownership stake by
changing the bylaws?
UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: Yes. Lawyers said no.
UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS: Offering long-term contracts.
UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: What about selling another division? Why us?
UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: Tax consequences, we were the right price, and --
UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS: It`s a trophy sale.
UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: Yes.
Owning a news network is cooling than owning a location detection software
DANIELS: Would you coven of knee-jerk lefty bigots not condemn the man
until after he`s said hello? I know he`s committed the unpardonable crime
of making a lot of money, but perhaps in spite of his talent, hard work and
enormous accomplishments, he`s still a decent guy.
UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: Yes, whose ideas are worth listening to.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: This is so close to home in D.C.. We have Channel 7 here. My
wife was the anchor there for 15 years, Aaron. And they just got bought by
this conservative guy. And he`s already putting his point of view
everywhere. This is what is going on here. This is what happens in the
Well, before we tackle that, I just want to say that in that scene was a
young actor named Thomas Matthews, who of course hails from one of
America`s most prominent theatrical families.
MATTHEWS: Well, news families anyway.
But answer the question. Do you see evidence when you research for "The
Newsroom" this sense that you do find influence being peddled by owners?
SORKIN: Yes, I have found that when I have researched the show.
But I want to say about the show that it`s never been about my telling
people like you, my telling the pros how they should be doing it. It`s
more a romanticized, idealized group of people, a workplace drama, just
like "The West Wing" was or like "Sports Night" was, who are on this
quixotic quest to try to do the news well in the face of all these
challenges that you`re bringing up.
And they hardly ever succeed.
MATTHEWS: Well, like "West Wing" -- I had an experience working in the
West Wing of the White House and working in this business. I have got to
tell you, the good secret that nobody seems to believe is that everybody
who works in this business wants to get the truth out. They really do.
That`s why they`re here in this business. Anyway, the -- that`s a fact.
SORKIN: And I have found that.
As I have gotten to -- from doing this show, I have gotten to meet a lot of
journalists, people who are in front of the camera, behind the camera, out
in the field. And everybody wants to get the truth out. Everybody wants
to do the important stories. And everybody feels like there`s another
force out there that won`t let me somehow.
MATTHEWS: Anyway, this election we just had had some drama, but it wasn`t
really in doubt. It was clear to a lot of people that Democrats were going
to lose a lot of seats.
MATTHEWS: It wasn`t a stunner, like some on the right like to say.
Here I was back in February looking at what was going to happen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: To the Democrats this election, a rosy scenario is to lose five
Senate seats, not six. They could lose 10.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: So, they lost -- it looks like they may lose nine. They have
only lost eight as of tonight. Begich loses. Landrieu might lose. She`s
fighting for her life down there and good for her.
MATTHEWS: But the drama of election night, there wasn`t a lot of interest
in it. And here`s my question. Every new television that I like, whether
it`s "Madam President" or it`s "Newsroom" or its of course "The Good Wife"
or "Scandal" -- there`s of course "Veep" -- there`s so many -- what
happened to make politics sexy?
SORKIN: Gee, I don`t know.
It used to be that politics was taboo on television, that you absolutely
couldn`t do a political show, you couldn`t set a show in Washington, you
couldn`t say the words Democrat or Republican.
"The West Wing" was supposed to last about five minutes before it got
canceled. And through some kind of miracle, we stayed on the air for seven
years. And I love all the Washington shows that are on now. I`m a big fan
"Veep" and "House of Cards." I don`t know. We changed our minds.
MATTHEWS: It`s not as bad as "House of Cards." I have been in --
SORKIN: No, I know.
MATTHEWS: People don`t put people in their cars and turn on the exhaust
pipe. They don`t do that. They do terrible things.
SORKIN: They don`t push them -- they don`t push them in front of trains?
MATTHEWS: No, they don`t. I don`t think so. Not even when nobody is
SORKIN: All right.
MATTHEWS: Aaron Sorkin, you`re great. Good luck with the next project.
SORKIN: Thanks very much, Chris.
MATTHEWS: Thanks for having me on as a consultant for this project. And I
am glad to play any part I could in this. It was an honor. Thank you.
SORKIN: It was a thrill for us. Thanks a lot, Chris.
MATTHEWS: Coming up, make room in the Republican clown car. The freshman
class came to something today, including Joni the castrator. The
roundtable is coming up next.
You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
And time now to get our roundtable. We have Eugene Robinson, a Pulitzer
Prize-winning opinion writer with "The Washington Post", a brilliant
columnist. "Time" magazine`s Washington correspondent Jay Newton-Small,
who has been everywhere in the world. Nick Confessore of "The New York
Times", can`t beat that.
The GOP`s right-wing clown car return to Washington today and it was full
of familiar faces like the Senate`s number one troublemaker Ted Cruz,
former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, she doesn`t have to have a job to talk,
and Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann or birthers like Donald Trump,
of course, he`s everywhere, Iowa`s Steve King and Texas` Louie Gohmert.
But at least one new passenger has arrived, Joni Ernst of Iowa, the
castrator. She bragged about carrying her Smith and Wesson anywhere she
goes to use against government she doesn`t like and pushing impeachment of
the president, of course.
Here she is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JONI ERNST (R), IOWA SENATOR-ELECT: I have a beautiful Smith and Wesson .9
millimeter and it goes with me virtually everywhere, but I do believe in
the right to carry, and I believe in the right to defend myself and my
family, whether it`s from an intruder or whether it`s from a government
should they decide that my rights are no longer important.
So, yes, absolutely, he has overstepped his bounds. And I do think that,
yes, he should face those repercussions, whether that`s removal from
office, whether that`s impeachment, but as a U.S. senator, absolutely. As
a U.S. senator, though, we have to push that issue.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: As David Gregory used to say, let`s unpack that. I love that
phrase, unpack there.
Let me start with you, Jay. She`s saying basically I have a gun. Now,
she`s going to have to go through a metal detector when she goes on Capitol
Hill, thank God. But she says she`s going to use that gun not just for
intruders in her home, you know, my home is my castle, wherever she goes,
she has to protect herself from the government, the government. So, she`s
in the government now, and somebody in the wrong branch of government says
something nasty to her -- it`s serious business. Is she going to shot up
the government if they don`t impeach Obama? What a pile of stuff she
brings in with her.
JAY NEWTON-SMALL, TIME: Well, it`s certainly the most colorful -- or one
of the most colorful senators we had for a while, though Ted Cruz also is
pretty colorful right from the get-go when he came in. It will be
interesting to see how she tries to moderate these tones, if she tries to
moderate these tones, when she gets to the Senate because this is a much
more -- even when she entered the general election, like all those clips
are from the primary, even when she got into the general election, she
tried really hard.
When I interviewed her to say, no, no, no I don`t want the president to be
impeached. No, I don`t really carry my gun with me everywhere. You know,
I really am a moderate. I`m going to make deals. And so, you know, we`ll
see if she`s still going to be --
MATTHEWS: Well, I think they do damage, Gene, even when they don`t shoot
people, when they go around saying the president of the United States isn`t
here legally, the president of the United States is some kind of foreigner,
the dribble of crapola that they put out all the time about Obama and still
do. I think that`s dangerous. I think it`s bad for the country.
EUGENE ROBINSON, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: I think that is dangerous, that
is damaging, but I do think Jay asked the right question. Which Joni Ernst
will we see? Will see Joni Ernst who was way out there, or will we see
general election Joni Ernst, who was much more sort of mainstream
Republican, which is virulently anti-Obama, right? So, it`s not as if it`s
MATTHEWS: OK. So, we`re talking makeup. We`re talking makeup. People
give Hillary a hard time for not having a hair dresser around. Are these
political makeup people running after them? You`re going to be on the
Senate Committee on Agriculture. Don`t say anything stupid about food. Is
there going to be somebody who`s going to be with them correcting them
about guns, you have to leave the gun at home?
NICHOLAS CONFESSORE, THE NEW YORK TIMES: There`s extraordinary pressure on
this, on all the candidates that were selected to kind of take on Democrats
this cycle, to be the new face of the post-2012 GOP. I think they`ll be on
their best behavior. I doubt we`re going to see a lot of gun comments from
Joni Ernst --
MATTHEWS: Who is doing the house training? The dog -- the house training,
like the dogs?
CONFESSORE: You know, they did these are politicians.
CONFESSORE: They`re smart people. They can do it themselves. They know
what it takes to --
ROBINSON: I think in the Senate, I think Mitch McConnell is going to do a
lot of house training. I mean, I think he`s going to lay down the law as
to what the line is, and how his caucus is going to proceed.
Now, Ted Cruz is not going to pay any attention to what he says, right?
Ted Cruz is off to himself.
MATTHEWS: He`s a lone ranger.
ROBINSON: But I think others who want to do better, and who want to do
well in the Senate, who want to be there for a while, who might want
committee assignments and stuff like that --
MATTHEWS: I love the way you talk. Anyway, there`s some wacky thinking on
climate change from some of the incoming members of the new Republican
Senate majority. Here it is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
MODERATOR: We`ll begin with Mr. Gardner. Do you believe humans are
contributing significantly to climate change?
CORY GARDNER (R), COLORADO SENATOR-ELECT: Well, I`ve said all along
climate is changing --
MODERATOR: Yes or no?
GARDNER: This is an important issue and I don`t think you can say yes or
ERNST: I don`t know the science behind climate change. I can`t say one
way or another what is the direct impact from whether it`s manmade or not.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don`t necessarily think the climate is changing,
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
MATTHEWS: Is this the talking points, Jay? I don`t know? This
agnosticism is a safer place to hide than being a Luddite.
NEWTON-SMALL: It absolutely seems to be sort of like, I don`t know about
the science, calling into question, and then going on and saying, but I do
know is that it damages the economy, what I do know is it does do this, or
at least the solution for the Democrats are --
MATTHEWS: Or you can quote the bible.
NEWTON-SMALL: That`s certainly what Inhofe does. He told me 10 years ago
the greatest hoax to the American people is, you know, climate change right
after the separation of church and state, because that`s the first grade
(INAUDIBLE) some American people.
MATTHEWS: How about evolution? I think he`s down on that one, too.
NEWTON-SMALL: He`s down on that one.
MATTHEWS: How about gravity?
CONFESSORE: Or flu shots.
MATTHEWS: How about gravity?
CONFESSORE: Stay away from a flu shot.
NEWTON-SMALL: The terrifying thing is that he`s actually a moderate these
days in the Republican conference. He`s the one doing deals with Barbara
Boxer on transportation and --
MATTHEWS: Wouldn`t the Chinese and other countries like India who are
competing with us around the world love to hear we have people like?
MATTHEWS: These guys act like they never learned it.
ROBINSON: No, they follow this stuff.
MATTHEWS: They`re laughing at us.
ROBINSON: Well, it`s not quite actually. Look, they have issues of their
MATTHEWS: I know.
ROBINSON: Chinese political system has its issues. The Indian political
system has its issues. We have our issues, and they`re weird, frankly,
because this posture -- you know, well, gee, I don`t know the science, no,
because you`re not a climatologist. You do not spend your life studying
this, but neither you`re an economist, by the way.
MATTHEWS: Pope Francis who I adore and obviously accept as my spiritual
leader, but he`s also smart with politics. He said there`s nothing wrong
for believing in evolution, if you`re a Christian. That`s when we were
taught in high school biology class, but he`s out there. And he`s out
there including knowledge with the human spirituality and good and bad.
How can you have truth if you don`t have truth?
Anyway, the roundtable is coming back. Up next, crossing over from the
dark side, the White House rejects a Bush era policy that allow tortures of
prisoners overseas even when it went against U.S. treaties. The quote the
State Department now, the U.S. is prohibited from engaging in torture at
all times and in all places.
This is a big development for President Obama. They`ll put him in the
history books, if nothing else does, ending torture as a national policy.
We`ll back with HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: The U.S. Supreme Court has rejected a request from the state of
Kansas to delay same sex marriage in that state. The decision from the
highest court brings the number of states where same-sex marriage is
permitted to 33.
And we`ll be right back.
MATTHEWS: We`re back with our roundtable. Eugene Robinson, Jay Newton-
Small, and Nick Confessore.
Well, the Obama administration today clarified -- that`s the word for it --
its position on the treatment of prisoners, announcing before the U.N.`s
Committee Against Torture that the United States does not condone cruel,
inhuman, or degrading treatment of those under our control outside the
boundaries of our country. It represents a departure from the Bush
administration which interpreted the ban to apply only on U.S. soil.
ROBINSON: Well, as a practical matter, I`m not sure this has an immediate
effect, because one day, two days after taking office in 2009, President
Obama signed an executive order ending torture, period, by U.S. personnel
anywhere, anytime, anyhow.
And -- but this seems to clarify upped this U.N. convention and to the
satisfaction for the U.N. that no, we do not any longer think that
potentially we have the right to either condone or practice any sort of
torture outside of our borders, given this it`s illegal in some --
MATTHEWS: We only have a little time. Does that mean no more
CONFESSORE: Well, it says Gitmo included. That was --
MATTHEWS: Can`t do it there either.
CONFESSORE: The question, where at the site that is not under our
authority or our state authority --
MATTHEWS: Where would that be?
CONFESSORE: But it`s operated in a foreign country, Eastern Europe, I
don`t know. Operated --
MATTHEWS: But we`re still in Iraq. We`re still in Afghanistan. Are they
CONFESSORE: We`re not the government of Iraq or Afghanistan. I think it`s
a little unclear from this.
NEWTON-SMALL: I think it`s absolutely unclear. So, the question is, when
are you responsible for torture? If you`re an American official who is
president of interrogation by a foreign official who is torturing subjects,
are you responsible to step in and say you can`t do this by American laws?
Or do you say, no, go ahead and do it?
ROBINSON: No, it is I mean, you know, why now --
MATTHEWS: He argued the principle we should be able to do it.
ROBINSON: Why now? Maybe two reasons, one, apparently, the U.N.
Convention on Torture, people had asked questions of the U.S., so this is a
But second, you know, the Senate report, intelligence committee report will
probably come out some time in December on torture and President Obama said
we tortured some folks, this could be pretty bad. This could be --
MATTHEWS: You mean under his watch.
ROBINSON: Under Bush watch.
MATTHEWS: Under Bush watch.
Anyway, it`s easier to do it over the guy you succeeded.
Anyway, Eugene Robinson, Jay Newton-Small, and Nick Confessore.
When we come back, let me finish with manned stewardship on this planet.
Remember, there`s a religious notion, stewardship. We ought to think about
You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHWS: Let me finish tonight on manned stewardship on this planet.
You know, when you go camping, you face the usual rule -- leave the
campsite the way you found it, better if you can. You know, when you go
hiking, you`re encouraged not to leave anything bury along the way. You`re
supposed to take with you what you brung. That way the wild areas are
there for the next people to come, the next generations to come.
I don`t like people using religion to argue against conservation. Teddy
Roosevelt was the American leader who got us started in this duty. He was
the lover of the American wilderness, the lover of the blessings of this
continent. He was the one to say that it won`t be there in the future if
we don`t protect it in the present.
So, what is it with these science deniers, these people who quote
Scripture, who ignore human history and what mankind has learned from the
ages? Why is it better spiritually to pretend to ignore science? Why is
God used to make the case for oil and gas producers, for the Koch brothers?
Isn`t there enough money to buy influence over Congress, you need to throw
in the Bible?
That`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us. Make sure to join us
tomorrow night, by the way. We`re going to ask a big question -- should
we, the United States military, stay in Iraq?
"ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts right now.
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