'The Melissa Harris-Perry Show' for Saturday, November 15th, 2014
Read the transcript to the Saturday show
Show: MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY
Date: November 15, 2014
Guest: Bill Nye, Michael Peppard, Yolanda Pierce, Jamie Kilstein, Danyel
Smith, Deon Haywood, Vikki Ziegler, Kierna Mayo, Salamishah Tillet, Jamie
Kilstein, Amy Howe, Janai Nelson
MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY, MSNBC ANCHOR: This morning my question, is there
anyone not talking about Kim Kardashian this week? Plus, what the billion-
dollar divorce tells us about the value of women`s work, and spotify.
Taylor Swift and the battleground of intellectual property. But first, God
versus science. Let`s get ready to throw down.
Good morning. I`m Melissa Harris-Perry. We have a lot to get to this
morning. But first, as Ferguson, Missouri, waits a decision from a grand
jury on whether to indict police officer Darren Wilson in the shooting of
unarmed teenager Michael Brown, "The St. Louis Post-Dispatch" obtained new
footage of Wilson entering the police station after the August shooting.
And "The Post Dispatch" has also obtained recordings of police calls and
reports that the fatal encounter between Wilson and Brown happened in less
than 90 seconds. Also overnight, Ferguson Police Chief Tom Jackson told
our St. Louis affiliate that if the grand jury does not return an
indictment, Officer Wilson may immediately return to duty. But he says
Wilson could be fired if there is an indictment. A decision could come any
Joining us now from Ferguson, Missouri, MSNBC`s Trymaine Lee. Trymaine,
what are the reactions to this latest revelations? Not only the audio and
the video, but specifically what the chief said about the possibility of
Officer Wilson returning to work?
TRYMAINE LEE, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Melissa. Right now it`s
kind of a cold, quite morning in Ferguson, as everyone is still on pins and
needles waiting for word of the grand jury`s decision. Now, the audio and
the video recording that have been released, now, they don`t add much to
the story that we didn`t already know. That that was a brief encounter.
But you actually do get a chance to hear Wilson and to see Darren Wilson
moving in and out of the police stations for the very first time in live
motion. Now, the idea that Darren Wilson if not indicted could return to
the streets certainly will cause some controversy. Certainly, the legal
system will determine, the grand jury will determine whether the prosecutor
can move forward charges of Darren Wilson. But in the community, he`s
guilty. And I`m sure he`ll be guilty once the jury makes the decision.
He`ll be guilty after that. And so, the idea that he`ll return to this
community certainly is just kind of fuel on the kindling of this community
that`s been on fire for more than 90 days so far.
HARRIS-PERRY: Trymaine, I think that`s really useful. Thank you for
helping us to think through that. There`s guilt as determined by a legal
system, but there`s also a question of perception and emotion within the
context of community. MSNBC`s Trymaine Lee in Ferguson, Missouri, thank
you so much for joining us.
LEE: Thank you for having me.
HARRIS-PERRY: We are going to turn now to breaking space news of the week.
On Wednesday a small spacecraft landed on the surface of a comet. Comet
67-P to be precise. The first time scientists accomplished such a fit.
And the fit it was. The European Space Agency launched the craft Philae
more than ten years ago. It traveled a total more than 4 trillion miles.
Its target, a block of ancient ice and cosmic debris that`s just 2.5 miles
long and speeding through space at 75,000 miles an hour. On Wednesday it
landed, and it`s already sent back photographs of the comet`s surface.
That`s where technology is today. A spacecraft is riding a comet 317
million miles from Earth. It took ten years to get there, and it`s able to
send pictures that reach Earth in less than half an hour. The scene at the
ESA on Wednesday was one of jubilation.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: So it`s a real accomplishment. But it does lead us to ask,
well, why? I mean why do this? Why spend ten years and almost $2 billion
sending a little box hundreds of millions of miles into space to see what a
comet looks like up close? To borrow a phrase from astronomer Fred
Whipple, it`s just a big dirty snowball, isn`t it? So, why? Well, one,
it`s just kind of freaking cool, and two, scientists are hoping to learn
more about the early years of the solar system. The formation of the Earth
and possibly even about the beginnings of life. Comets are thought to be
among the oldest bodies in our solar system. Chunks of ice leftover from
when the solar system was formed 4.5 billion years ago. A time when huge
masses of rock and gas were hurdling into each other all the time and you
know, making the planets.
A major question from that time is how did Earth get its water? And water
is not only essential to life now, but it is also likely the ocean is where
life first began on this planet. Some scientists hypothesized it was
comets, those giant speeding snowballs that smacked into the forming Earth
and deposited chunks of ice, which became the ocean. Science is the search
for answers. And scientists are hoping for some answers, some hints, at
least, to some of the enormous questions from the surface of Comet 67-P.
And one of them is how did life on earth begin?
The beginning of life is one of the biggest unanswered questions in
science. Another one, how did the universe begin? What sparked that big
bang? Beginnings, or put another away, creation with a capital "C."
Science is one way of seeking answers in what seems like chaos. Religion
is another. Consider the opening texts of the book of Genesis. In the
beginnings the God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was
formless and empty. Darkness was over the surface at the deep and the
spirit of God was hovering over the waters and God said, let the water
under the sky be gathered to one place, and let dry ground appear, and so
it was. God called the dry ground land and the gathered waters he called
the seas and God said let there be lights in the vaults of the sky to
separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark times
and days and years, and so it was. He also made the stars. God set them
in the vault of the sky to give light on the earth, and God saw that it was
Science and religion in this case, Christianity, may have very different
creation stories, but that doesn`t mean the stories are mutually exclusive.
Take it from this guy. That`s right, the people`s pope himself, Pope
Francis made headlines recently when he said, quote, "the beginning of the
world is not the work of chaos that owes its origins to something else, but
it drives directly from a supreme principle that creates out of love. The
big bang that today is considered to be the origin of the world does not
contradict the creative intervention of god. On the contrary, it requires
it. The pope also spoke about evolution. Evolution in nature is not
opposed to the notion of creation. Because evolution presupposes the
creation of beings that evolve. Now, this is actually not a radical
departure for the Catholic Church. Previous popes have said the scientific
theory of evolution does not necessarily contradict the church`s teaching
on capital C creation. But the Vatican has a pretty bad wrap when it comes
to science. I mean you condemn the scientific findings of one dude named
Galileo and you can`t live it down for 400 years. Is there an epic
struggle between religion and science? Must one vanquish the other? Or
can the two coexist? Perhaps even as the pope suggests, support and enrich
Joining me now, Bill Nye, author of the new book, "Undeniable: Evolution
and the Science of Creationism." Of creationism. Yeah.
HARRIS-PERRY: I was like, wait a minute. I actually don`t think that`s
the title. Yolanda Pierce, associate professor of religion and literature
at Princeton Theological Seminar.
HARRIS-PERRY: And Michael Peppard, the theology professor at Fordham
University and a contributor for "Common Wield" magazine. So, Bill, maybe
I`ll start with you, have been flubbed the title. Because there`s a
creation versus creationism discourse that I think ends up setting up this
dichotomy. Science versus God.
BILL NYE, "UNDENIABLE": Well, you tell me. I don`t - if no, one of the
great discoveries in evolution. When we have organizations like MSNBC or
the Catholic Church, it`s top down. It`s 6-1. It`s top down. There`s
somebody at the top. And he has or she has people working for him or her.
And then people - but that`s not how nature works apparently. Instead it`s
bottom up. This is to say you have a bunch of designs. You see which ones
make it to the next generation. And whoever gets through that`s where we
all are today. So it`s a different way of organizing things. So you could
argue right there that these things are separate and have nothing to do
with each other.
But the problem, everybody, comes when you have religious beliefs that you
want to tell other people how to live and so on, and then you get into
disagreements in the Middle East, in Ireland, in South America, people
disagree about these details.
HARRIS-PERRY: So I love the idea that creation in the context of evolution
is somehow socialist and that creation in the context of religion is
somehow authoritarian. And that - and that`s just like my political
NYE: Everybody. You couldn`t have this coffee mug without an
organization. Without a corporation. I mean, you can`t just have - OK,
you guys. Just go ahead and start messing around. There has got to be top
down some place. I mean this is how humans get things done in large
groups. There`s tribes and leaders of tribes. That`s all good. But in
the big, big, big picture, evolution is a bottom-up process.
HARRIS-PERRY: Yolanda, so as much as I love hearing you read the Bible,
YOLANDA PIERCE, PRINCETON THEOLOGICAL SEMINARY: It just brings joy to my
heart, you know, I was thinking that there`s actually just a small vocal
minority of people that are trying to say that there`s no space for there
to be distinctful faith and science.
I think the vast majority of us love science. And the Bible, we understand
it not to be a science textbook, right? That it isn`t trying to tell us,
you know, the origins of the universe. It`s trying to point to something.
And so, as I was thinking about this comet, right? And what it reveals and
the awe and the mystery, that`s something that science and religion share.
So instead of creating this dichotomy, I think it`s just a very small,
unfortunately quite vocal minority that`s trying to say, wow, how can we
talk about these two contradictory things? We`ve always talked about them.
HARRIS-PERRY: OK, so, Michael, I want to push on this a little bit.
Because precisely what Yolanda`s laid out here. The sense of awe of
mystery and the search for answers seemed to me to be animating forces of
most world religious practices and of the scientific method. Right?
There`s the thing that we don`t know the answer to - until we strive
towards it. But the challenge it seems to me, that`s a quite important
one, is what counts as evidence? And so that in the context of faith,
there are faith-based claims that do not require empirical evidence to hold
them. But in the context of science, there must be empirical evidence in
order to either falsify or confirm a claim.
MICHAEL PEPPARD, THEOLOGY PROF., FORDHAM UNIVERSITY: That`s right. In a
Christian tradition we would say that there are multiple valid ways of
knowing. And science as scientism links onto this one valid way of
knowing. That is demonstrated through experimentation, that`s repeatable
and that serves some benefit to society. And in a Christian tradition, we
are not anti-science. We supplement scientific ways of knowing. IF you go
back in a Christian tradition, I know you said Galileo.
PEPPARD: And that`s an easy one. But in the more modern history, Gregor
Mendel is a monk founder of genetics, all right, Georges Lemaitre is the
founder of the big bang theory. In fact, before Hubble, he discovered
Hubble`s law and Hubble`s constant, he`s a Belgian priest. Guy Consolmagno
just recently received the Carl Saga medal. He`s a Jesuit brother who`s a
Vatican astronomer, holder of the Vatican`s media right collection, which I
just wanted to get in there.
PEPPARD: And so, there`s a long history of computability between the light
of reason and the light of faith.
HARRIS-PERRY: So, if - if though, that`s in part because of this
organization that comes - as the Catholic Church. And then in fact the
relatively more Democratic with a little "d" version of particularly
American conservative religious thought, which you quite personally - like
sat on a stage and had a debate with. So, like on the one hand, that seems
like it`s not incompatible. But then, in fact, it does begin to feel
NYE: In science, you know, we evaluate claims. That`s our business. This
is skeptical thinking. So if someone claims the earth is 6,000 years old,
there is nothing to support that idea. And so my concern, as I may have
mentioned many times is young people. You don`t want to raise a generation
of science students that doesn`t understand the fundamental idea on all of
life science, which is evolution. Natural selection, sexual selection,
homology, analogy, all these fabulous things.
So that`s where it crosses the line for me. They have a big curriculum.
They have got DVDs. They have got workbooks, they`ve got quizzes that look
just like science till you get to the bottom of the page - and the earth is
6,000 years old. And so, it`s this abandoning your critical thinking
skills. Abandoning your ability to reason that is troubling.
HARRIS-PERRY: All right, so when we come back, I want to talk about
specifically to this question of young people and how we balance the value
of skepticism that science gives us and the value of hope and faith that
comes to us from religious practices together into one super generation of
post millennials. I just love it. When we come back.
HARRIS-PERRY: In his essay "Message in the Stars," the theologian and
Presbyterian minister Frederick Bittner conducts a thought experiment.
What if God decided to prove dramatically and irrefutably that god does
exist? By arranging the stars to read God is? Bittner imagines the hope
and terror, regret and joy and other astonishment that such a message would
bring. He fantasizes that God would rewrite the message in all the
different languages in the world so that on my given night you might go
outside and look up and see it in French or Arabic, God is. And then he
imagines this, I would have a child look up at the sky some night, just a
plain, garden variety child with perhaps a wad of bubble gum in his cheek.
I would have the child turn to his father or maybe with the crazy courage
of childhood, I would have him turn to god, god self, and the words I would
have him speak would be words that would make the angels gasp. So what if
God exists, he would say? What difference does that make? The essay is a
reminder to me that in the struggle between religion and science, most
people are not really seeking the message of the stars, but instead want to
understand what difference those answers make. What does it all mean, and
how are we supposed to live with one another? And so, Michael, that`s part
of what I wanted to come to you on. Let`s talk about just the environment
to begin with.
HARRIS-PERRY: So, if I am to believe that God is the creator, does that
change my relationship of either dominion or stewardship towards the earth?
In a way that knowing that it is evolution we change it. I mean in other
words, what difference does that make?
PEPPARD: If we are to move towards climate action, towards social
injustice that relates to the environment, environmental degradation, care
for the poor, religious communities are going to have to be involved, and
not just progressive ones, but conservative ones as well. Religious groups
have shown, starting especially with the civil rights movement in the
United States, but even going back to the abolitionist movement that
coherent narratives and cohesive communities that religious communities can
bring about are essential to any kind of social change in the United
States. I think that`s starting to happen with environmentalism, and not
to be just too catholic here.
PEPPARD: We want to pause and say the pope is writing an encyclical on
ecology. This is unbelievable. Really. If you think about what you might
imagine a pope to do. He`s looking at the science of "The Times," he is
reading, what is the problem presented to humanity in my time, my few years
here as pope. And specifically what is the problem two worlds (INAUDIBLE).
And the problem is one of environmental degradation. And he`s trying to
deal with it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: And that feels to me, Yolanda, like part of the residual
value that remains, no matter what one`s claims, empirical claims are about
the capacity to organize activity towards justice or towards inequality.
And yet, we also know that religion has a very long history of promoting
and creating inequality throughout world history. And so part of what I
keep thinking is, do we want to give our children a God to strive towards
in order to do good, or do we want to eliminate a god that is divisive on
PIERCE: So, again, it`s the question of do we have to make a choice,
right? So do we want to affirm that - it`s called faith for a reason?
It`s not certainty. It`s faith. You believe. You hope. You wish. You
pray. But do we also want to have space for the affirmation of scientific
evidence, proof, data, empirical evidence? And we want to be able to give
our children, I think, both. We want them to have the mystery, the wonder,
the awe. The awesomeness to aspire to something that is above and beyond
them, even as we want them to be grounded in the tools that they need to do
that. I want children to aspire to be astronauts, right? Because wow,
wouldn`t that be a cool job? Wouldn`t it be great to be Bill Nye the
science guy, right? But I also want them to have a sense of calling,
vocation, that God put me on the earth to do something and I`m important
and I`m unique and that I can be a steward of this earth, right? And so,
instead of creating these contradictory spaces, I want to create a space to
allow both to be a part of the conversation.
HARRIS-PERRY: And Bill, in your book, you really do think of children as
being sort of the what`s at stake? We were looking at this Politico story
from March that it`s talking about the vouchers that are going to private
schools. These vouchers go to schools where the course materials nurture
disdain of the secular world. Distrust of momentous discoveries and
hostility towards mainstream scientists. They also distort the basic facts
about the scientific method, teaching, for instance, that theory such as
evolution are by definition highly speculative because they haven`t been
elevated to the status of scientific law.
NYE: People confuse the words laws and theories. I like everybody - I
love you all more than life and so, but it`s bombshell time.
NYE: OK. So do you for me as a scientist, skeptical thinker, it sounds
like what you`re trying to do is take your religion and get it to fit in
science understanding. Understand that I`m not the first guy to point this
out. Altruism, community, tribalism exists in species way less complicated
than humans. The argument you have to are religion in order to be
philanthropic, in order to care about your fellow species, person. That is
reasonable, but I don`t think it`s backed by a scientific observation. So
we have disagreement here. We will not mix church and state. Right? So I
am all for engaging religious communities. Because clearly people get so
much support out of their communities and stuff. But the claim the thing
that we have an issue with is that because religion provides this
community, therefore we have to have religion, furthermore, we have to have
my religion, my specific religion. And then to get to these school people.
The vouchers are just a way to -- as few scientists are suppressed .
HARRIS-PERRY: But I just wonder. Is there really no evidence that there`s
a transformative capacity for religious belief in the human life that can`t
be accounted for purely through the kind of empirical evidence we typically
NYE: You tell me. So here`s the bat flying around at night. Doesn`t get
enough to eat. Comes back to the roost. The other bats regurgitate with
their mosquito barf and the other bat lives through the night. Now, why do
they do that? Is it because they have - the pope has given them an
authorization to do this ..
HARRIS-PERRY: No, but .
NYE: Or because it`s deep within them and if they try - do it, if their
group doesn`t do it, then they eliminate too many genes.
HARRIS-PERRY: So, they are screaming at me in the control rooms, so we`ve
got to go, but you have got to stay afterwards. I want to talk about ..
NYE: It`s a great question.
HARRIS-PERRY: It`s a huge question, it`s just - still, just TV. But thank
you to Bill Nye and Yolanda Pierce and to Michael Peppard. Everyone, be
sure to check out Bill`s new book, "Undeniable: Evolution and the Science
of Creation." Somehow this morning, we`re going to make the transition all
the way from God and science to the photo of Kim Kardashian that broke the
Internet. So, stay with us. It`s going to be quite a show.
HARRIS-PERRY: Over the summer America`s biggest tech companies after
releasing reports showing their industry to be overwhelmingly white and
male explain their diversity problem, in part by pointing to the challenges
posed by the pipeline problem. Now that`s the claim that there are too few
people of color on the employment end of science, technology, engineering
and math fields because there are too few students of color learning about
those subjects in the classroom.
Well, this weekend in Philadelphia, three deviant. They kicked off
yesterday and it`s looking to change all of that. The "My Brother`s
Keeper" hackathon is bringing young people of color together with some of
the brightest minds in the tech industry to create mobile and Web apps that
will empower themselves and their communities. Right there, in the middle
of all that hacking, is the host of MSNBC`s "The Reid Report" and our
Nerdland friend Joy Reid.
Joy, I hear you`re really into this. What`s this hackathon all about?
REID: Well, it`s really actually - really terrific, Melissa. And
basically the background for this is yes we code. And that`s an initiative
that came out of a conversation in the wake of the Trayvon Martin case
between Prince, that Prince, and Van Jones. And Prince asked Van Jones, he
said listen, how come when you see a young black man in a hoodie, people
see a thug, but when you see a young white man in a hoodie you see Mark
Zuckerberg. And he challenged Van Jones and he said listen, we just need
to create more black Mark Zuckerbergs. So, they challenged - the challenge
was to create 100,000 tech ready young black men essentially coming from
low-opportunity communities. So, "Yes we code" launched. They did this
hackathon in Oakland, California. They got together, they got kids
together. They had them learn how to make apps. And then, of course, when
a good idea happens people come and they latch onto it. So the "My
Brother`s Keeper" initiative decided, hey, we`d like to have a hackathon
for ourselves. Can you come to Philly and do one with us? So, that`s what
the one that I mean now.
So, last night, 60 kids, mostly boys, pitched idea- they got up on stage
and they said, this is the app that I would create. I`m going to walk over
real quick if I could and introduce you to Durad, Faro and Daud who`s right
over there. I have name Alzheimer`s. I can never remember much of the
names. And they have an app- what`s the name of the app, Durad?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: c, y, c.
REID: It`s called CYC. So, their idea was to, you see abandoned
buildings, buildings that are falling apart. You can use the app to take a
picture of it. It will give you ideas for how you could redevelop it. And
that can allow communities to thrive. So, it`s really a great idea. And I
think the mind for those "Keeper Folks" thought, hey, this is a great idea.
We want to latch on. But there are other hackathon that they do around the
country, that`s really yes, we code that`s doing the initiative.
HARRIS-PERRY: Thank you to MSNBC`s Joy Reid in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Up next, Taylor Swift`s rebellion.
HARRIS-PERRY: Normally in Nerdland if we are going to be paying attention
to any pop star, you know it`s going to be our girl Beyonce. But this week
we had to set our sights on a different star, who if we are measuring by
album sales alone is even bigger than our beloved Beyonce. Taylor Swift
had already made news this month when in a year that had so far not seen a
single new album reach platinum status, she became the first and only
recording artist to reach the million mark. Her fifth album, "1989," sold
1.287 million copies by the end of its first week of sales in late October.
And Nielsen SoundScan reported that one week of sales represented 22
percent of all album sales in the U.S. Taylor`s singular success in a
music industry that has been struggling with shrinking sales prompted both
"Time" magazine and "Bloomberg Business Week" to make her their cover girl
this month. And it has given her the influence to change the conversation
about how we all consume music. When she decided last week to yank her
entire catalog from music streaming service, Spotify.
Streaming is on track to outpace more traditional sources of music
consumption like CDs and downloads, and projections of a music revenue
rebound driven in large part by streaming subscriptions have made the
industry look to services like Spotify, potentially as their saving grace.
But those assumptions about the future of recorded music were interrupted
by Taylor`s decision. Which as she explained to "Time" magazine was both a
business and artistic choice saying "I think there should be an inherent
value placed on art. I didn`t see that happening perception wise when I
put my music on Spotify. Everybody is complaining about how music sales
are shrinking. But nobody is changing the way they are doing things. On
Spotify, they don`t have any settings or any kind of qualifications for who
gets what music. I feel that people should -- and I think that people
should feel there is a value to what musicians have created. And that`s
that. Joining me now, Danyel Smith, author, journalist and co-founder of
"Culture" magazine, of the "Culture" magazine HRDCVR. And Jamie Kilstein,
cohost of Citizen Radio and coauthor of the new book "#newsfail."
So, Danyel just for viewers, so, you know, my daughter has everything on
CD, but - my mom Debrah turned on to Spotify. So, help us understand what
streaming is. How that is different.
DANYEL SMITH, CO-FOUNDER HRDCVR: I mean the best way you can explain it to
me is when you`re downloading a song, you`re buying it and when you`re
listening to a Spotify-like service, you`re kind of renting it. You know,
renting the experience.
HARRIS-PERRY: And so, why does Taylor has a beef with that?
SMITH: Because Taylor says listen, this is your experiment. I`m an
artist. I want my art to be valued. I want the art of other musicians to
be valued, and I don`t think that I want to be a party to your experiment
as you try to figure out how best to sell or allow people to experience my
HARRIS-PERRY: So it`s an interesting kind of position to have. Jamie,
part of the reason I wanted you at the table for this is when I think about
people who are experimentally delivering content, I mean citizen radio is
right there. Because you call it radio, but it`s not really on a radio
JAMIE KILSTEIN, CO-AUTHOR "#NEWSFAIL": Right.
HARRIS-PERRY: And so, you know, and I`m working in a cable news industry.
So people are starting to think about what we should do differently?
HARRIS-PERRY: So it seems like experiment should be exactly what artists
KILSTEIN: Yeah. I mean first of all, thank you for saying that`s why you
are having me on and not because I`m a Taylor Swift superfan .
KILSTEIN: And the whitest person you know at the moment because I`m so
excited to talk about her. Yes, so, the problem is this. I think people
would get mad at Taylor Swift because she`s so rich and she doesn`t need
the money. Right? But the problem is when young artists try to rebel and
say take me off Spotify. OK. They`re just losing audience, right? But
experimentation is good when you`re in charge of the experimentation. For
example, Alison, my partner in Citizen Radio is a great journalist, has
been on this show, has written for the big lefty publications. I`m a
successful standup comedian, on TV all the time.
KILSTEIN: If we didn`t have this podcast, which we created by ourselves,
which is the listener supported, we would still be in like a studio
apartment in Queens. It would be really rough. And the problem is like
the young indie garage band on Spotify isn`t getting the money. It`s the
CEO of Spotify that`s getting the money.
HARRIS-PERRY: OK, so, it`s interesting that you make that distinction
between kind of the Taylor Swift who is - I mean she`s done something. And
with this kind of like almost low-key way of doing it. But I understand,
Danyel that you actually think that part of her power to do this is because
she comes out of country. She`s fully pop, but she comes out of country.
And country is still buying CDs at the Walmart.
SMITH: They are serious business. They still go to the store, they still
buy hard CDs. They`re hanging out with your mom. OK?
SMITH: They are definitely going in there, buying the hard CDs. They want
the jewel box, they want the experience of the actual CD slided in the car,
slided in the CD changer. That`s what they want to do.
And but the thing is now, Taylor is - she`s part of a - just it`s a dying
breed of pop star, frankly. She`s become a pop star sort of what - at the
time that most people are calling it maybe the end of pop stars period.
It`s just Beyonce. It`s just Taylor. "Cold Play" didn`t even go platinum
this year. It`s very hard right now to get people to buy music. It`s
Spotify or Spotify like platforms, is that the way? I don`t know.
HARRIS-PERRY: Well, so, it does feel to me then like, I mean so on one
hand we`re talking about Spotify and music, but it`s an also an
intellectual property rights issue in the largest sense. I mean so, for
folks who are writers in the context of the end of books. For people who
are delivering speeches at a time when anybody can YouTube you and put your
speech out there. Like, is there a new way we should be thinking about
what constitutes intellectual or in this case artistic property and new
ways we ought to be thinking about protecting it?
KILSTEIN: Yeah, I mean that`s a really good point that you made. Like U2
had to really break into people`s iTunes to put their music on this year.
And, you know, I - didn`t sign something that put all my albums on Spotify.
And when I get my royalties. I know like my CD did really well this year.
Like number one on iTunes, if someone buys them from me, I get 15 bucks.
If they listen to it on Spotify or if they get it on iTunes, I literally
have like a Spotify employee come to my house and take a piece of
KILSTEIN: It`s like cents, it`s cents.
KILSTEIN: And I want my music to get out there. If I`m doing the show and
there`s a fan who doesn`t have money, I will literally give them the CD and
say please burn this for your friends. So I`m fine with word of mouth.
I`m fine with getting out there. But on my terms.
HARRIS-PERRY: Yes, right, right, which is different than somebody else
getting rich on your artistic capacity.
SMITH: I feel like the essential question right now is how much is music
worth? What is it worth? And if it`s not going to be worth money that can
pay for studio time, that can pay for food, that can pay for a heat at an
apartment, then are people going to continue to make it? And what does
that mean for music and, of course, what does that mean for music fans?
HARRIS-PERRY: Yes, and then ultimately, what does it mean for our whole
HARRIS-PERRY: If the music is so central. Danyel Smith, that`s a great
big question. I love that. Thank you for joining me on this today. And
Jamie is going to be back in our next hour.
Still to come this morning, Kim Kardashian is citational. Don`t worry.
I`m going to explain. But up next, my letter of the week.
HARRIS-PERRY: Last week Emory University suspended all fraternity social
activity after a woman reported being raped at a fraternity Halloween
party. Here on MHP, we have reported about the many universities under
fire for their failure to respond adequately to sexual assault on their
campuses. But Emory responded swiftly. The university`s inter-fraternity
counsel issued a statement that read in part, "this pause will give our
community time to re-evaluate how we address the intolerable issues of
sexual violence, substance abuse and discrimination on our campus." The
administrators at Emory are setting this standard of how to respond to the
epidemic of sexual assault on campus.
Lincoln University Leadership transformed itself into an icon of failure.
As a result of the words of its president at an all -woman`s convocation in
September, his words became public this week.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. ROBERT JENNINGS, LINCOLN UNIVERSITY PRESIDENT: We handled this campus
last semester, handled this campus last semester three cases of young
women, who after having done whatever they did with the young men, and then
it didn`t turn out the way they wanted it to turn out, guess what they did?
They then went (INAUDIBLE) and said he raped me. #.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: And he was not done. He went onto say this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JENNINGS: Don`t put yourself in a situation that would cause you to be
trying to explain something that really needs no explanation had you not
put yourself in that situation.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
JENNINGS: And that is why my letter of the week goes to Lincoln University
President Robert Jennings. Dear President Jennings, it`s me, Melissa. I
noticed that after a firestorm of protests about your comments at the all-
women`s convocation in September, you issued an apology. You wrote, "My
message was intended to emphasize personal responsibility and mutual
respect. I apologize for my choice of words. I certainly did not intend
to hurt or offend anyone."
Personal responsibility, well, how about you take personal responsibility
for failing your students? Your words show an utter lack of respect or
empathy for the women who pay up to $11,000 a year to seek an education at
Lincoln University. Women who come to college expecting an opportunity to
learn and grow. Women who are protected under title 9 of the education
amendments of 1972, which ensures that all students are able to pursue
their educational goals free of violence, harassment and hostility and
mandates that when a college knows about a hostile environment, they must
take immediate action to eliminate it.
Well, President Jennings, it is you who created that hostile environment.
When you blamed women for sexual assault and implied that they regularly
lie about rape. What you said was offensive, appalling and wrong. A woman
always has a right to say no. It doesn`t matter if it`s late, but she`s in
his room, if they`ve been on a date, even if they have had sex before. A
woman has a right to say no. If she`s forced to have sex when she says no,
it is rape. And a woman must actually say yes. If she`s been drinking and
can`t say yes, if she`s unconscious and can`t say yes, if she`s sick and
can`t say yes, if she`s being threatened or hurt and can`t say yes and
she`s still forced to have sex, it is rape.
When you suggest otherwise in such a public setting, and when you take a
more than two months to offer a halfhearted apology, well, President
Jennings, not only are your words shockingly ignorant, but also your words
disgrace the legacy of your school, Lincoln University, our nation`s first
degree granting historically black college and your words undermine the
legacy of Lincoln alumni Thurgood Marshall. Marshall`s groundbreaking
career was committed to protecting, not shaming the vulnerable, and seeking
justice, rather than offering excuses for those who are predatory. And
your words degrade the legacy of Lincoln alumni Langston Hughes who used
language to give voice to those who are rarely heard, rather than to
silence them with accusations and blame. Speaking of silence -- now that
was just five seconds of silence. Five seconds maybe of confusion. Five
seconds of wondering when words would be spoken again. Five seconds of
feeling a little uncomfortable. Five seconds of worrying about what would
happen next. President Jennings, you implied that an accusation of rape
can ruin a young man`s life. Maybe what you need to think about is what an
act of rape can do to a young woman`s. You should be held accountable for
encouraging survivors to be silent. For telling them they would not be
believed. That they would be subjected to your scrutiny and disrespect.
Five seconds of silence changed everything about this letter. What do you
think a lifetime of silence does to a life? Sincerely, Melissa.
HARRIS-PERRY: According to Justice Department statistics, the majority of
sexual assaults in this country go unreported. Part of the reason may be
because of how the issue was handled by police. A new report finds that
police in New Orleans failed to properly investigate hundreds of reports of
sex crimes. The city`s inspector general examined nearly 1300 cases
assigned to five police officers between 2011 and 2013. 840 calls or 65
percent were designated as miscellaneous with no further action taken. No
report, nothing. 271 calls were designated as sex crimes, but there was no
supplemental information beyond the first brief initial report. And only
179 cases, 14 percent of the sexual assault or child abuse calls were
followed up on with supplemental reports. The inspector general`s report
does not identify the five officers, but it does detail some of the cases
one detective identified only as detective "A" was assigned to 13 cases of
potential sexual abuse involving minors. 11 of the cases had no follow-up
information beyond the initial report, including a case involving a toddler
brought to the emergency room after an alleged sexual assault. The report
says "a review of the victim`s medical records reveal that the juvenile who
was under three years old had a sexually transmitted disease." However,
detective A wrote that the victim did not disclose any information that
would warrant a criminal investigation and closed the case.
According to the report, another detective identified as detective D told
at least three different individuals that detective D did not believe that
simple rape should be a crime. The five officers in the report have been
reassigned and the New Orleans police superintendent says the investigators
will determine whether the officers should face discipline or criminal
But what about the alleged victims whose quest for help simply went
unanswered? Joining me now Deon Haywood, executive director of Women with
a Vision, a New Orleans based community organization dedicated to improving
the lives of marginalized women. Deon, I`m wondering if you think this
tells us anything beyond New Orleans? Is this just a New Orleans problem
or is this a problem about the diminishment of the importance of rape as a
crime in police departments?
DEON HAYWOOD, EXEC., DIR, WOMEN WITH A VISION: No, I agree. I agree that.
I think it`s the way we as a society in this country look at rape. We keep
talking about rape culture. But there are so many things that promote rape
culture that those of us fighting against it kind of can`t get a heads up.
So what`s happening this is just a symptom of what`s happening across the
HARRIS-PERRY: You know, obviously we`ve been in an ongoing conversation
since August and it brought up by the events in Ferguson, Missouri, about
the lack of trust between communities and police forces. How has this been
received in my beloved New Orleans? What are people saying about this?
HAYWOOD: Well, Melissa, you know New Orleans. And you know how we feel
about - What we have all experienced for years with in OPD. I think what -
I think many of us are not shocked, but angry. I - I feel like what`s more
shocking is the number of children named in this report makes it a little
bit more shocking.
HARRIS-PERRY: Yeah, the detective A who doesn`t follow up not only on the
one story that I`ve told you about of sexual assault, but all these other
victim, circumstances and an infant brought into the emergency room with a
skull fracture. And the emergency room nurse wrote that wasn`t suspected -
it was suspected non-accidental trauma. But the detective A didn`t even
conduct an investigation and simply closed the case.
HAYWOOD: Right. Right. So many of us are trying to figure out like what
went wrong? What went wrong or what was happening inside NOPD that any
human being could ignore the pain and abuse of a child? And not
investigate. And I don`t know if I have an answer for that one. You know,
we can say it`s management, we can say it`s from the top to, you know,
down. Who didn`t do what? Who didn`t follow through? But I think we have
seen in the past how, which is why we have the consent decree. Wow, NOPD
has treated women, how they`ve treated members of the LGBT community, the
immigrant community and African-American men. But this one really stands
out because it was children. And still we got the same results.
HARRIS-PERRY: Yeah, it does make me wonder if, you know, if part of this
is that we`ve got to put the victimization, the survival of women in
circumstances like sexual assault even more at the forefront of our public
community activism as we`re trying to work around questions of police and
HAYWOOD: We do. We do. You know, the fact that I don`t think NOPD or
most police departments has a gender analysis. They don`t have one. And I
think it`s going to be important moving forward for them to get one. How
they do that, I think we`re going to have to work closely with
organizations like the New Orleans Family Justice Center, metropolitan
Women with a Vision. You know, we`re all working really hard here. We
have the sexual assault response team. And it`s been going really well.
And we`re all excited about the outcome.
HARRIS-PERRY: And then .
HAYWOOD: We just need NOPD to do better.
HARRIS-PERRY: Yes. Absolutely. Thank you to Deon Haywood in New Orleans,
HAYWOOD: Thank you.
HARRIS-PERRY: Still to come this morning, her share after the divorce was
$1 billion. But she says she deserves more. Assessing a woman`s worth is
more Nerdland at the top of the hour.
HARRIS-PERRY: Welcome back. I`m Melissa Harris-Perry. It`s one of the
largest divorce judgments in U.S. history. Early this week, Sue Ann Hamm,
the ex-wife of Oklahoma oil man, Harold Hamm, was awarded nearly $1 billion
in cash and assets.
The Oklahoman newspaper says the precise amount is more like $995 million,
but you get the idea. We`re talking about a billion dollar divorce here.
Now she will be one of the richest women in America.
Still, she plans to appeal the judgment, seeking more money she feels she`s
entitled to. You see that billion dollars is a mere fraction of her ex-
husband`s wealth. He is worth an estimated $13 billion, according to
That $13 billion figure is based on Hamm`s ownership of 253 million shares
of Continental Resources Inc. He`ll get to keep all that stock. But he
has to pay Sue Ann $322.7 million by the end of the year. How Hamm made
his billion with a focal point of the divorce trial? Was it expertise and
skill or more passing circumstances, a bit of plain old good luck?
You see, according to Oklahoma state law where this case played out a
spouse is entitled to money a partner earns through skill. This
distinction left Hamm and his company trying to portray the CEO. A man
named one of "Time" magazine`s most 100 influential people in the world as
someone who stumbled into success.
So that the judge in the case would limit the amount of marital capital to
split between the two parties, it all gets to how much one`s spouse is
responsible for the success of the other. Now it brings to mind this
moment for me.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: If you are
successful, somebody along the line gave you some help. There was a great
teacher somewhere in your life. Somebody helped to create this
unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive.
Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you got a business, you didn`t
build that. Somebody else made that happen.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: You see, that was President Obama back on the campaign trail
in 2012, saying no business succeeds in a vacuum isolated from the public
services that provide the necessary support, allowing that business to
engage with the rest of the world.
But whether it`s from the government in the form of infrastructure or
education or customers, or in the case of the Hamm`s a spouse who worked in
the office and in the home. One simply doesn`t succeed all alone is a
constant question. How did you make yourself?
It`s that question that makes the Hamm`s divorce proceedings more than a
Dallas soap opera style sensation. Sue Ann Hamm worked as an attorney at
her husband`s company during two decades of their 25-year marriage.
She left in 2008 and helped to raise the couple`s three children. How
exactly does one determine what is the value of making a home or you know,
the economic value of pillow talk, eagle support, of child care, being the
personal chef. Furthermore, how will that value be recognized?
Joining me now, Salamishah Tillet, associate professor of English Studies
at the University of Pennsylvania and cofounder of "A Long Walk Home,"
Jamie Kilstein, co-host of "Citizen Radio" and author of the new book,
"Newsfail," Vikki Zeigler, who is a celebrity divorce attorney and CEO of
divorcedating.com, and Kierna Mayo, who is the vice president of Digital
Content for "Ebony" magazine.
Thank you all for being here. I want to start with the divorce attorney in
that sense because it does feel like that argument about you didn`t build
that by yourself. It took more than, you know, there`s a value of the
other spouse that has to be accounted for in the division of marital assets
so that`s part of what you do.
VIKKI ZIEGLER, CELEBRITY DIVORCE ATTORNEY: Absolutely, all day long. The
problem is there`s no real formula. Nobody can I say I cooked every day
for you, that I gave you emotional support. We had relations each week.
So unfortunately judges sit as subjective individuals trying to apply to
law and take the facts. It doesn`t always work to somebody`s advantage.
That`s exactly why we are seeing Sue Ann Hamm saying, almost a billion
dollars is not enough for me. I`m sorry.
Judge, I`m going to make -- I am filing an appeal because I`m worth more.
The question becomes does the appellate division do something differently?
Does a three-panel judge say wait a second, we see it a little differently.
Is this a passive asset, which means that, all of your hard work
necessarily affected the increase? Not only Mr. Hamm`s or was it not his
role? It was team work. It was some of the assets that were done before,
the decision making before they got married so she`s not entitled to 50
percent structure of the company.
HARRIS-PERRY: And you know, I think it can be hard to feel a lot of the
angst for Sue Ann Hamm because she is going to have a billion dollars sort
of no matter what. You said it`s hard to put a value on it.
Actually meant, you know, the kind of economic software did try to put a
valuation on what a homemaker`s real salary would be. If we just, $96,000
a year, right, for an ordinary person living their life as a homemaker.
And you know, the reason I want to talk about was you know certainly her
billion dollars. But less that, this model that is gold digger. And if a
woman is married to a wealthy man or a man wealthier than her, she`s
necessarily a gold digger as opposed to she`s part of the mine creating the
KIERNA MAYO, VP, DIGITAL CONTENT FOR EBONY: Listen, my girlfriends and I,
we, joke that we all need a wife. Who doesn`t need a wife to succeed? I
mean, listen, I`m nobody`s bible scholar, but I know that in the bible it
says a noble wife is worth more than rubies, right.
So which is to say this is an ancient concept. You cannot quantify the
value of support. I mean, support at home is really what the underpinning,
anyone who has been in a relationship, in a marriage understands inherently
what the value is of that kind of connection and daily support.
It`s a kickstand for your life so you don`t become a billionaire by
accident without this woman giving you 26 years of her life, two children.
I think there`s no question she`s entitled to at least whatever the
HARRIS-PERRY: All right, so on the one hand we have that. I want to
trouble that with sort of the foundational feminist texts, right. If we
think of one of the bibles of optimism being the second sex and that idea
is marriage is along a continuing prostitution.
That women because they are unable to have the same economic standing in
the world as men, have to trade their nurturing, their care and their sex
to men because that`s how our economic system is set up.
So marriage is inherently troubling because it -- so there`s a way we all
want to hold onto the joy of companion, marriage and then when it comes
time for the marriage to break up, it starts sounding like that argument.
SALAMISHAH TILLET, ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR, UPENN: Yes. I think both are
true. I think the idea of heterosexual marriages being part of a
patriarchal contract is true. I mean, that`s the history of it as you
pointed out in your way of putting it out.
What I think is interesting about this particular case is two things. One,
she did work for the company for 20 years. Imagine if the employees of his
company actually sued him for, you know, equal compensation to his own
worth, right? That`s a different strategy.
HARRIS-PERRY: But I love that. I in fact keep thinking that I was like,
yes, but what about all the other folks, right?
TILLET: Yes, that`s what the Obama quote made me think of. But the other
thing is, you know, they didn`t have a pre-nup agreement and part of that
was because of the fact that, you know, maybe they didn`t think about it.
Maybe they thought their marriage would last forever or maybe when they
actually got married his standing wasn`t what it is now.
He was a kind of a midlevel executive on the rise. So I do think that
there`s no way to fully quantify or quantify what she has given to him.
But over time, and this is part of the idea about whether it was his skill
or pure luck, over that time he made significant purchases.
He grew economically and she was part of that process, but intellectually
and socially and culturally. I`m not one whoever thinks that, you know,
when it comes to these cases these women shouldn`t get anything. I think
that it should probably be fair and equal.
And if he was really concerned, imagine his employees actually suing him
for what they think they are due.
HARRIS-PERRY: What do you think, Jamie Kilstein?
JAMIE KILSTEIN, CO-AUTHOR, "#NEWSFAIL": And I didn`t think I had anything
to say on this story. I hope she bankrupts every oil man. When I first
read it, who do I hate more, an oil man or the wife of an oil man? Give
her more money if she promises she can only invest in solar. I don`t know.
But it is true. If I was single, I would be living in an ally with a sign
that`s like, we`ll tell jokes for hugs and pizza. I mean, a relationship
it`s a lot. It`s so much even if she didn`t work for the company.
Just those days it doesn`t matter how successful you are. You go home and
you`re sad and you need someone to tell you to go in the next day. This
guy seems like a sort of cartoonish oil man. I`m glad he`s losing all of
HARRIS-PERRY: We`re going to stay on this and bring someone who has been
to her own divorces. We`re going to bring in the Kim Kardashian picture
that broke the internet. I want to stay on this a little bit. We`ll talk
about what assets women have in the marketplace.
HARRIS-PERRY: We`ve been discussing the economic value of a domestic
partnership. I want to turn now to the valuation placed on the bodies and
sexuality of women. Splashed on the cover of paper magazine this week is
Kim Kardashian`s impossibly tiny waist accentuated by her most celebrated
This photo and the others included in the spread attempted to, quote,
"break the internet." Not only people quite do that, but it does reveal
much about what has the potential to send folks into a tizzy. Kim
Kardashian understands what she`s able to sell, and sell she does.
This week the online publication "Quartz" explained why Kim Kardashian is
the world`s best marketer. Instead of breaking the internet, she`s
breaking the bank. She has more than 25.4 million Twitter followers, 21.5
million on Instagram, who have undoubtedly contributed in some way to her
reported $45 million personal wealth.
In his piece for "Quartz," Jason Lynch writes, "Those eye popping figures
are a direct result of her relentlessly marketing her image and her brand.
Even if you don`t look at those "Paper" photos in the past day, you are
likely aware of their existence and probably talked about them. Once
again, Kim wins. No matter how hard you may try, you cannot ignore her."
Now Kardashian`s critics are also hard to ignore. An op-ed says Kardashian
doesn`t realize she`s the butt of an old racial joke. The photographer of
Kim`s latest photo shoot is Jean Paul and the champagne photo, the creation
of Caroline Beaumont in New York 1976. The iconic photo was found in his
book, titled "Jungle Fever."
That book and other works of his have been criticized for fetishizing black
women`s bodies. Still, love Kim Kardashian or hate her, it`s hard to deny
she`s marketed herself well beyond her initial 15 minutes of reality star
I actually do sort of like I have been having all kinds of feelings about
this. It feels connected to me in that you can`t break the internet with a
new book written by a woman and yet she could. There she is trafficking in
the thing that she can traffic in and then still getting, you know, critic
MAYO: There are several issues at play. On one hand you have a woman who
has figured out her marketing ability and tied it to her rear end. This is
not new. I mean, you had a generation of dancers in hip-hop and I go back
to the `90s.
And you think about black women`s bodies being exploited and sold all day,
every day and yet, they were not able to walk away with more than $500
check from the set.
Here you have Kim Kardashian`s example. One could argue this is a
brilliant American business story. And perhaps even feminist in that this
woman has decided she owns her body, and she has agency.
On the other hand, you consistently see this reckless -- I`m at a loss for
words even when it comes to the assault on the black female body. This is
really about race.
This is about the black woman`s body. I almost would argue that we`re now
having the conversation about the black woman`s body without the black
woman. This is the image that she is now selling that we are essentially
spending money for.
HARRIS-PERRY: Right. So folks who don`t know, it`s Sarah Bartman, who was
sort of put on display throughout Europe, and those images, which actually
aren`t going to show here, but they were fully exploited. She never made
any wealth from it.
For me, Kim Kardashian, also this is an interesting version of the gold
digger narrative because she`s often the wealthiest one in her partnership.
Not true in her marriage with Kanye West. But this question of sort how
she may protect herself and her assets.
And yet, they are assets that often about the way in in which the male gaze
looks back on her. I`m wondering when we see a woman made wealthy through
this form, how that then tells a different story about marriage and
ZIEGLER: Well, I think probably Kim Kardashian getting into this marriage
thinking Kanye was and is more wealthy than she, then the tables may be
turned in the future because they do have a prenuptial agreement, as we
believe, I read about it and it`s pretty iron clad.
And it appears that she would be getting more than Kanye at the end of the
day. So again we go into a marriage thinking one way like the Hamm
divorce, which there was no prenuptial agreement.
Unfortunately now she could have set how much she would have received in
the event of the divorce. That would have been much likely that she would
have gotten more than a billion.
So for me, I look at marriage as a business enterprise. I think most
people don`t look at it so much so, but it`s important that they do. For
me to comment on Kim Kardashian because I don`t have (inaudible), I don`t I
What I can say certainly is that I think it`s a teachable moment for women
as role models. No matter what 25 million people following her, people are
watching her every move especially young women out there.
They need to understand you don`t have to look like her to get ahead in the
world, to make money, to actually get educated, use your brain not
necessarily your mind and not necessarily your body and if you can use your
body, do it in an elegant way.
HARRIS-PERRY: On the one hand, you have the paper mag cover. You have web
traffic that is just enormous over whatever the previous web traffic was.
It was like November 12th, 6.6 million page views and up to 15.9 compared
to what they used to average about 25,000 a day.
But she actually didn`t break the internet. It turns out you compare the
Kardashian image to the comet. And the comet beat Kim Kardashian, and yet,
I guess, part of what I wonder and it goes back to the idea of what is
women`s work worth?
What we pay women who do domestic labor that seems like it`s the work that
wives and mothers do is a pittance what preschool teachers make versus a
college professors make.
But what we pay women who provide us with the desire to control or see or
view their sexuality. Like we have created a marketplace where this is a
more valuable way to be a woman.
TILLET: Again, yes and no. Obviously for women who are working in strip
clubs around the country, who are being coerced into prostitution, it`s not
an economically viable alternative, right, so that there is -- with Kim
Kardashian and at this particular moment.
It`s really kind of vexing for feminism because on one hand, you know,
there`s this idea of agency and the other idea of exploitation. And where
does Kim Kardashian fit into that?
I mean, the reason that she feels so comfortable at this point exposing her
body in this way is because we all got introduced to her under duress. She
didn`t expect that video of her and Ray Jay to be leaked. And that`s what
they turned it into a profitable thing.
So her body was already exposed and consumed by millions of people around
the world. Now she`s determining how we consume it, how we receive it.
This is to your point about the invisibilizing of black women`s bodies,
So here Kardashian, even if it`s a kind of back handed compliment is seen
as an innovator. (Inaudible) is seen as a dynamic innovator and at the
same time, the black women whether it`s Grace Jones, it`s not seen as a
Their bodies are used as part of his repertoire to create an aesthetic and
then someone like Kim Kardashian comes in and both references the black
woman`s body and then -- at the same time.
MAYO: Do you think she knew about it?
HARRIS-PERRY: I promised I was going to explain this. That she was citing
back that previous picture. Speaking of which is another citational thing
is a tweet that cited the "Paper" mag cover. When we come back, I`m going
to get my comedian on, on what I thought was one of the funniest tweets in
this front this week.
HARRIS-PERRY: New York City`s Metropolitan Museum of Art is one of the
largest museums in the world. It`s home to the extraordinary Washington
crossing the Delaware in 1851 and the intricate guilded bronze Buddha, 524.
And the passionate cypress trees of the master Van Gogh, 1889.
But this drew our attention to a piece that may have been overlooked
before, but likely never will be again. It shows a fertility figure
display with the text, here at the MET we have artworks that could
Jamie, it was a kind of -- I mean, of all the responses, of all the
parodies, I`ve did sort of love that they were also -- they were being
citational of her citation of the feminist fertility -- the feminine
KILSTEIN: All right, well, first of all, it`s about time we got to the
white guy talking about this issue.
KILSTEIN: What`s going on? What do you guys know about this? Yes, I love
the idea of the MET being like we have to get in on this. I have so much
stuff to say. Everything you said was really interesting. I want to say
something about the eloquent thing.
I feel like at this point everyone has a different definition, right. If
that`s what Kim Kardashian considers eloquent, if that`s what she wants to
do with her body, I think that`s fine.
I would rather see Kim Kardashian break the internet than some of these
even intellectual female politicians who support war crimes. You know what
HARRIS-PERRY: That`s interesting.
KILSTEIN: I mean, kind of, right?
HARRIS-PERRY: I don`t know what her politics are, but we don`t know that
they are regressive?
KILSTEIN: What if she`s so progressive?
HARRIS-PERRY: She identifies as a liberal Republican.
KILSTEIN: All right. I take that back. I don`t support it anymore. I`ve
been watching guys react. And that`s what I`ve been focused on, which sort
of taints anything beautiful about anything.
I found it interesting that she, Kim Kardashian, will still get shame for
voluntarily, race issues aside, for voluntarily doing something like this
by the same guys stealing photos from Jennifer Lawrence. I thought that
was really shady.
HARRIS-PERRY: Part of this has to do, I think, with sort of not only what
this figure represents and interestingly enough sort of how the MET goes
back when they tell us, by the way, this is a figure that has been valued
for a very long time.
But you know Alyssa Milano responded by critiquing the ways in which --
there have been criticisms of her breast feeding selfies. So she`s got
these, you know, breast feeding selfies.
And she says, look, nothing to take away from Kim Kardashian, but why am I
getting crap for showing the side of my breast with my infant on it,
whereas there`s such enthusiasm and excitement, particularly from men?
I keep thinking, because it`s how the body part is being used, right, for
titillation and experience presumably of heterosexual men versus the
feeding of a child.
KILSTEIN: Yes. I mean, guys are probably like, gross, a baby. But I
think they`re very different. I think they are very different things. I
don`t think either of them should have gotten criticized for doing this on
I`m glad Alyssa Milano doesn`t sound like she`s criticizing Kim Kardashian.
That`s a white lady thing to do is like post a picture of breast-feeding
and compare the two. I don`t know. Guys are creeps so guys are obviously
going to gravitate towards the one that is more sexualized.
HARRIS-PERRY: But the problem with guys are creeps, right, whatever the
empirical evidence is to support that, they`re also -- right. They`re also
heavily engaged with the control of resources and wealth. The way men
respond to women matters as economic and political and social life.
ZIEGLER: What I`m more shocked about is that Kanye was there at the shoot,
apparently, and he was endorsing it.
HARRIS-PERRY: All day.
ZIEGLER: All day every day. I think he loves his wife and thinks she`s
the most beautiful thing to walk the earth. But what is he doing actually
to propel the sexism that goes to the man. We have a male saying I don`t
know if you liked it, didn`t like it.
I don`t know you`re married so you don`t want to say that on air. I think
a lot of men would say, I would never want my wife to do that. But is it
perpetuating the brand?
HARRIS-PERRY: But still the idea of allowing your wife to show her body.
The idea that -- even though she has a child and a husband, it`s still her
MAYO: A husband or agency. But we can`t forget that vogue just said this
is the era of the booty. You ask why Alyssa Milano versus Kim Kardashian.
The emphasis right now is on the black girl`s behind. But it`s via
HARRIS-PERRY: Forget about the base and then discovering that song is --
right. So there`s an angst about that and yet, so there`s a feminist
question about agency, but also a question about race and capitalism and
guys being creeps.
Thank you to you to Salamishah Tillet and to Jamie Kilstein, and also Vikki
Ziegler and to Kierna Mayo. Nerd land, don`t go anywhere. Still to come
this morning, fun with funny looking shapes.
HARRIS-PERRY: When the history books are written on the Obama presidency,
much will be made of this moment, March 23rd, 2010, President Obama signed
into law the Affordable Care Act. Much will be made of the political
capital the president spent to pass implement and get people to buy into
One of the more than 50 times House Republicans tried to repeal and alter
the law. In 2012 Chief Justice John Roberts was the deciding vote on the
Supreme Court to uphold the law, and how when the website first rolled out,
the failure seemed to put the entire log at risk.
Today is the first day of the new period of open enrolment. But the fate
of the Affordable Care Act is not about the lines of code this time. It`s
not about the presidents campaigning or the Republicans in the House.
The next chapter for the history books sure to be written about the Obama
presidency and its signature legislative accomplishment could all depend on
this man, Scalia, associate justice of the Supreme Court.
He just might be the person who saves Obamacare because of what he calls
the fundamental cannon of statutory construction. It sounds nerdy, right?
Join us next. We`ll talk about it.
HARRIS-PERRY: This is a time of year when a lot of you at your jobs, us
here at MSNBC included, get worried it is open enrollment time. When we
all have the freedom to enroll in or make changes to our medical coverage.
That includes those covered and not covered by the Affordable Care Act or
Obamacare. That open enrollment period starts today and lasts until
February 15th of next year. While at least 20 million people got new
insurance or gained coverage under the law, there`s still an estimated 32
million uninsured people in the United States.
And according to "The New York Times," up shot law, nearly all of them are
eligible for some form of coverage under the new Affordable Care Act
programs. The Congressional Budget Office projected 13 million people
would be enrolled in Obamacare by the end of 2015.
But the Department of Health and Human Services downgraded those
expectations on Monday, releasing a report that said between 9 million and
9.9 million would be enrolled before the end of next year.
But that may only be if nine Supreme Court justices don`t rule to eliminate
the Affordable Care Act`s health insurance tax credits in most states, thus
making that insurance all but impossible to afford for millions of people.
The challenge revolves around wording that declares subsidies be made
available to help those enrolled in Obamacare. Quote, "Through an exchange
established by the state."
Now the claim that is being made in King versus Burwell, the lawsuit the
Supreme Court is taking up is that the words "by the state" signify a
mandate that a state established a health care exchange.
And that only people in states with their own exchanges are eligible for
subsidies, while residents enrolled in the federal Obamacare exchange are
With that interpretation of the law, you essentially end subsidies going to
more than 4 million people in the 37 states, which didn`t establish their
own exchange, and instead rely upon the federal one.
The states you see in orange on this map. Nope, didn`t see that map. But
that`s OK. But in 2012, when the Supreme Court up held the SCA, Justice
Scalia, joined a descent, but it seemed to fly in the face of the challenge
of the court just took up.
The justices wrote, quote, "Congress provided a backup scheme. The state
declines to participate in the operation of an exchange the federal
government will step in and operate an exchange in that state."
To boot, on the November 7th blog post from Yale law professor, Abby Glock,
cites Justice Scalia`s dedication to textualism. Noting, quote,
"Textualists have repeatedly emphasized that textual interpretation is to
be sophisticated, holistic and contextual.
Not "wooden" or "literal" to use Justice Scalia`s words. The outcome of
this Obamacare challenge may come down to Justice Scalia, arguably the most
conservative of the Supreme Court justices and whether he takes his own
Joining me now is Janai Nelson, who is the associate director counsel for
the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund, and from Washington, D.C. is
Amy Howe, editor and reporter for the Scotusblog.
Amy, I want to start with you. What do you make of this fundamental
argument that Scalia, if he`s true to textualism as a theory, as opposed to
opposition to the Affordable Care Act, would have to side with the ACA in
AMY HOWE, EDITOR AND REPORTER, SCOTUSBLOG: Well, he certainly used those
words. He also said elsewhere that when the language is clear courts
shouldn`t rewrite it. So I think really the challenge will be to convince
Justice Scalia that that language isn`t clear so that he then goes on and
moves to look at the rest of the statute.
HARRIS-PERRY: Do you buy that or is -- is the kind of ideological opinion
of these justices simply more important than the legal reasoning they often
HOWE: I think with cases involving the interpretation of a statute, it`s
hard. Because you can also find some sort of statutory interpretation to
support the position that you would be inclined to produce.
I think one thing to look at is just the decision to hear the case. I
haven`t heard anyone suggest that the Supreme Court, four justices need to
vote to review a case like King versus Burwell.
And I haven`t heard anyone suggest that the court`s four more liberal
justices would have been those four votes. So then the question is, did
the votes come from the five more conservative justices? The answer is
And they likely would have taken this case because they think that there`s
a plausible argument to be made to reverse the lower court decision,
upholding this IRS rule.
HARRIS-PERRY: OK, it also feels to me, Janai, there`s a fundamental
question that I think linked in part to the marriage equality question that
the state decided around the California ruling, which was when people are
already married, you can`t take it away.
And you know, had this been decided in the first ACA decision, but now
we`re talking about millions of people who already have health care, and
they have it provided through subsidies that come from the federal
government because they live in states that didn`t set up the exchanges.
Isn`t there also like a justice question about taking away a subsidy that`s
currently provided? Would the court see it in that way at all?
JANAI NELSON, ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR, NAACP LEGAL DEFENSE: We hope they would.
There are 20 million people that have registered for health care under the
ACA and so to reverse course at this point and say that these federal
subsidies cannot support the federal exchanges would be a great harm to
those 20 million and the 32 million that anticipate looking for health care
and are without health care now.
So we hope that the justices will consider that in their interpretation of
the statute. And it`s funny because we were all quite surprised in some
ways when the health care act was upheld in a non-political way. The
Robert court is for moving above politics.
I think this is going to be the real test to see if they turn which upside
down. If he`s really true, Justice Scalia and his more conservative
comrades on the court to the concept of textualism, they should abide by
the dissent that they wrote initially upholding the act.
HARRIS-PERRY: All right, so let me go to the Roberts` piece for a moment
with you, Janai, because it does also feel to me like, you know, we talk
about second-term presidents wanting a legacy. But Supreme Court,
particularly chief justices also want a legacy.
And Roberts threw in his hat with the ACA. He undermined the portion
around Medicaid expansion, which has been devastating for many communities,
but doesn`t Roberts now basically have now his legacy tied up with ACA
NELSON: That`s right. And the worrisome part, though, as you pointed out,
is that initial opinion upholding the individual mandate did not up hold
the portion of the act that forced states or encouraged, incentivized
states to create their own exchanges with the threat of having their
Medicaid moneys being reduced.
So there is that opening, right? That perhaps states may not get the same
protection they ought to, but again, we are talking about the federal
exchange here that supports those states that decided not to open up their
And any understanding of the original intent behind this law would lead
anyone to believe that clearly these subsidies should apply to the federal
exchanges as well.
HARRIS-PERRY: Can I just ask, when we say the word "the state", it means
the government. It doesn`t mean the state`s littlest when we say, you know
given by the state. We mean by the government.
HOWE: Yes, and I think certainly the Obama administration will make that
clear. And they`ll point to the other provisions of the statute. This
goes back to how do you interpret the statute? You point to the other
Obviously Congress set up this backup scheme that allow the federal
government to step in and you have to look at the whole statute, not just
one word in the provision that the challenges are relying on.
HARRIS-PERRY: Because the Supreme Court is just too interesting for us to
quit, because it is simply too legit. We are going to continue to talk
about the Supreme Court when we come back. This time about the part that
could put a big part of the Republican power grab in check.
HARRIS-PERRY: The Supreme Court is considering another high-profile case
right now, and to get into our discussion about it, let us have a little
bit of fun with shapes. Now, these are the shapes that we all hopefully
recognize, square, circle, and triangle.
These are as fundamental as you can get. Now we`ve got those. But let`s
see if you can come up with words for these. There`s this odd thing that
sort of looks like, maybe an abstract dog or something drawn with the edges
of a ruler.
And then there`s this. It`s something that maybe looks a little bit like
juice spilled on your table that then dribbled off the edge. And this,
well, I don`t know what that is. But it turns out there is a name for the
shapes. It`s called gerrymandering.
All of those were congressional districts, redistricted by their respective
state houses, Ohio, Texas, and North Carolina. The word gerrymander comes
from a Boston newspaper that published this image in 1812, alleging a new
voting district in governor resembled a salamander.
Hence, you see a gerrymander, salamander, hence, gerrymander. After the
2014 elections, one of the aspects of the Republican red wave is its
success in state legislatures.
Part of what happens when the state legislatures are won is gerrymandering,
the capacity to twist and turn districts as they see fit. So you see a lot
of red. Democrats control outright only seven of the 50 state governments
from the governor`s mansions to state legislature. Republicans have total
control in 24 states.
One of those GOP states, Alabama. The focus of a lawsuit in which Supreme
Court justices will decide whether a 2012 redistricting plans violates the
rights of African-American voters.
So Janai, let me come to you on this, two big questions, the first, why
does gerrymandering matter when most of what we`re looking at, at least in
the most recent election, was statewide contests for the Senate, for the
gubernatorial office, those aren`t gerrymandering, those are states.
NELSON: It matters a great deal. I mean, the idea of just what you said,
when the legislature changes power, changes control, you recognize there`s
a great amount of consequence when this redistricting occurs.
Redistricting happens every ten years, following the census.
And it involves moving people from district to district, changing district
lines and how that is done is enormously consequential not only in terms of
state elections, but even in local elections that are within that state.
It`s really about the balance of power. It`s no surprise that this latest
case has come from the state of Alabama and Alabama is no stranger to the
Supreme Court. There was just a significant case last year involving the
Voting Rights Act.
This in many ways is the next phase of looking at what remains to protect
particularly African-American voters in the state of Alabama and in parts
of the south and countrywide.
HARRIS-PERRY: But it is legal to gerrymander based on partisanship. It`s
kind of a presumption, if your party win, to the victor goes the spoils.
But can you, particularly in the U.S. south, but maybe across the country,
can you separate partisan and racial gerrymandering or in a place where the
Democrats are blacks and the blacks are Democrats, is it always the same
NELSON: It`s interesting. Partisan gerrymandering is lawful to a point.
The Supreme Court has said there can be a limit to how much we place an
emphasis on partisanship. There comes a point where the partisan overlay
is just too strong. This case is about race.
This case is where the Republican-led legislature basically rubber-stamped
the same plan that was in existence following the 2000 election and put
that same -- the same black population percentages into the plan for this
The problem with that is that political conditions have changed. Black
people did not need to be forced into 65 percent or 76 percent black
districts in order to elect their candidates of choice. In fact, by doing
so, you`re minimizing their ability to elect candidates of choice.
HARRIS-PERRY: All right, so this important. Amy, I want to come to you,
to kind of impart to help our viewers understand this a little bit.
Because there is -- we are familiar with the language of majority minority
districts, some of which have the odd shapes in part.
Because there was an effort post-1965 Voting Rights Act to allow African-
Americans living in districts where they might be 35 percent or 45 percent,
but simply couldn`t get African-Americans elected to the U.S. House of
Representatives, most importantly, an opportunity to elect those members.
But then if it becomes 65 percent or 70 percent, does it take away black
power? How do we figure out thousand to maximize black political influence
in the capacity to elect candidates of choice?
HOWE: Right. This really is -- this case before the Supreme Court is a
twist because the original racial gerrymandering cases were challenges to,
for example, the North Carolina 12th district. And Republicans were
challenging the Democrats` redistricting plan.
The Democrats` effort to create majority minority districts, and since
Republicans have decided that turnabout is fair play, their argument is we
were just trying to comply with the Voting Rights Act. We had to keep the
same percentage of African-Americans in these districts. Certainly wasn`t
that race was a factor.
We were just trying to comply with the Voting Rights Act and comply with
the principle of one person, one vote. But the net effect of that is that
African-Americans have been concentrated in these districts, in essence,
the white districts have become whiter.
The African-Americans are concentrated in these districts when they could
have perhaps been spread out a little bit more and had political influence
HARRIS-PERRY: I guess part of what I wonder is whether or not the solution
is a legal one, Amy, or whether it`s a political one, in other words, to
say, what we need is for the Democratic Party in the south to be actively
challenging for white voters and we need the Republicans party to be
actively challenging for African-American voters.
HOWE: Right. You know, it`s an interesting question and certainly it`s
become tougher since the Supreme Court`s 2013 decision in another case out
of Alabama because now Alabama when it redistricts -- even if the Supreme
Court were to say that this redistricting plan violates the constitution.
It would go back to the same Republican-controlled legislature. This time,
they would not have to go to the federal government first to get
preclearance for the plan. The other thing to keep in mind is that this is
not happening in a vacuum.
The Supreme Court has another redistricting case before it out of Arizona.
Arizona voters decided to take the legislature out of the redistricting
process, in effect. Handed it over to an independent commission and now
the Arizona legislature is challenging that as a violation of the
HARRIS-PERRY: And it all comes back to preclearance. Thank you to Amy
Howe in Washington, D.C., and to Janai Nelson here in New York. That`s our
show for today. Thanks to you at home for watching. I`ll see you tomorrow
morning, 10:00 a.m. Eastern.
We`ll look ahead to the president`s anticipated executive action on
immigration reform and zero in on the city that has all eyes upon it,
Ferguson, Missouri. But right now, time for a preview of "WEEKENDS WITH
ALEX WITT." Hi, Alex.
ALEX WITT, HOST: Thanks so much, Melissa. It rocked a small Massachusetts
town, a public meeting that officials halted because the crowd had gotten
too raucous. What they were complaining about might surprise you.
Plus, what`s the real impact of the U.S. climate change deal with China.
Will it help stop the massive smug in Beijing? Why doesn`t any of it go
into effect now in China?
The U.S. troop drawdown in Afghanistan is almost ending. Why is there talk
of a deal between the government there and the Taliban government the U.S.
fought to overthrow?
All that and my interview with "The Daily Show`s" Jon Stewart about his new
film so don`t go anywhere. I`ll be right back.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY
<Copy: Content and programming copyright 2014 MSNBC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
Copyright 2014 Roll Call, Inc. All materials herein are protected by
United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed,
transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written
permission of Roll Call. You may not alter or remove any trademark,
copyright or other notice from copies of the content.>
WATCH 'THE MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY SHOW' SATURDAY AND SUNDAY AT 10:00 A.M. ET ON MSNBC.
MORE FROM MSNBC
Add msnbc headlines to your news reader: