Skip navigation

All In With Chris Hayes, Friday, December 19th, 2014

Read the transcript from the Friday show

  Most Popular
Most viewed

ALL IN with CHRIS HAYES
December 19, 2014

Guest: Mitch Singer, P.J. Crowley, Lesley Clark, Adam Frankel, Jonathan
Alter, Jonathan Shapiro



(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ARI MELBER, MSNBC GUEST HOST (voice-over): Tonight on ALL IN --

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Yes, I think they made
a mistake.

MELBER: President Obama says Sony was wrong to pull the plug on "The
Interview".

OBAMA: I wish they had spoken to me first.

MELBER: An ALL IN exclusive: tonight, a former Sony executive
responds to the president.

Plus, Bob McCulloch speaks. The St. Louis County prosecutor defends
why he put lying witnesses before the Ferguson grand jury.

BOB MCCULLOCH, ST. LOUIS COUNTY PROSECUTOR: Some that, yes, clearly,
were not telling the truth. No question about it.

MELBER: And it`s the end of an era.

STEPHEN COLBERT, COMEDIAN: OK, that`s the show.

From eternity, I`m Stephen Colbert.

MELBER: We`ll look back at Colbert through the years as truthiness
takes a bow.

COLBERT: What do I do now?

MELBER: ALL IN starts right now.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MELBER: Good evening to you. I`m Ari Melber, in for Chris Hayes.

President Obama got right to the point when addressing the Sony hack
for the first time today, telling Americans he believes Sony pictures made
a mistake in pulling the theatrical release of its film "The Interview",
which depicts that plot to assassinate North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. It
was supposed to be opening Christmas Day, but Sony folded, in self-
censorship after anonymous hackers attacked the company, stole valuable
internal data, and began releasing it in order to damage and intimidate
Sony.

There were also terror threats made against any theaters that wanted
to show the film.

It was an unusual day in Washington and L.A. to say the least. And
we`re going to have more on President Obama`s year-end press conference in
a minute.

But the other big news in this Sony story is a new message that the
company received, according to a source close to the studio, providing what
appears to be the hackers` response to Sony`s capitulation.

Now, we have not verified the authenticity of this message but its
authors praised Sony`s decision to pull the movie as, quote, "very wise"
and doubled down on those ransom threats, telling Sony they have even more
sensitive data they can release if the company fails to keep "The
Interview" hidden forever. Quote, "Now we want you to never let the movie
be released, distributed or leaked in any form of, for instance, DVD or
piracy", the message read. "And we want everything related to the movie,
including its trailers, as well as its full version down from any Web site
hosting them immediately."

Now, do you see what that means? The hackers, according to this
message, are demanding that Sony, which produced this movie, now act as the
enforcement arm of the hackers to permanently suppress the company`s own
movie. It is a turn of events that is both dangerous and bizarre. As of
this afternoon, the official Web site for "The Interview" has been taken
down.

Earlier today, the FBI formally linked the Kim Jong-un regime to the
hack, citing links to malware and infrastructure that were used in previous
cyberattacks by North Korea, and similarities to last year`s cyberattacks
against some South Korean companies.

Now, State Department`s spokesperson Jen Psaki today declined to
outline exactly how the U.S. plans to respond to the attack.

The president walked a strong but strategically vague line at the
press conference. He rebuked Sony and he slammed North Korea. But he
avoided telegraphing his foreign policy plans and he distinguished between
the core values of free expression and principle that many have been
debating this week, and the way it was being tested through an admittedly
goofy cast of a film very few people have seen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: I think it says something interesting about North Korea that
they decided to have the state mount an all-out assault on a movie studio
because of a satirical movie starring Seth Rogen and James Flacco. I love
Seth and I love -- and I love James, but the notion that that was a threat
to them I think gives you some sense of the kind of regime we`re talking
about here. We will respond proportionally and we`ll respond in a place
and time and manner that we choose.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: Now, that actor`s name is James Franco, by the way, which may
be a sign the president doesn`t love him all that much. But at the presser
today, President Obama also took a direct shot at Sony itself. He said he
was sympathetic to its concerns but --

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: Sony is a corporation. It, you know, suffered significant
damage. There were threats against its employees. I am sympathetic to the
concerns that they faced.

Having said all that, yes, I think they made a mistake. We cannot
have a society in which some dictator someplace can start imposing
censorship here in the United States, because if somebody is able to
intimidate folks out of releasing a satirical movie, imagine what they
start doing when they see a documentary that they don`t like, or news
reports that they don`t like. Or even worse, imagine if producers and
distributors and others start engaging in self-censorship because they
don`t want to offend the sensibilities of somebody whose sensibilities
probably need to be offended.

So, you know, that`s not who we are. That`s not what America`s about.
Again, I`m sympathetic that Sony as a private company was worried about
liabilities and this and that and the other. I wish they had spoken to me
first. I would have told them, do not get into a pattern in which you`re
intimidated by these kinds of criminal attacks.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: And then the president said something else today that was
very important. He contrasted Hollywood`s profit-driven surrender here to
the bravery of regular American citizens who stood up to the murderers and
the terrorists at the Boston marathon.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: We can`t start changing our patterns and behavior any more
than we stop going to a football game because there might be the
possibility of a terrorist attack -- any more than Boston didn`t run its
marathon this year because of the possibility that somebody might try to
cause harm.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: Joining me now is Mitch Singer, former chief digital strategy
officer at Sony Pictures.

Good evening to you.

MITCH SINGER, FORMER CHIEF DIGITAL STRATEGY OFFICER, SONY: Good
evening. How are you?

MELBER: I`m good.

How do you respond to the president there?

SINGER: Well, you know, it pains me in many ways to actually say
this, but -- and my friends will take this of note, I`m sure -- but in this
particular case, President Obama is just simply wrong. I -- you know, when
you think about what Sony faced, quite frankly, or any company, for that
matter, might face, this is the first time we`ve actually had what I would
consider to be cyber extortion. And the rules under cyber extortion, which
no company has ever had to manage before, are very, very different than
anything else we`ve ever seen.

And quite frankly, the dialogue that Sony pulled it is often simply
incorrect. If there`s no exhibitor that wants to release the movie, did
Sony really pull it? I would probably say no.

MELBER: I`ve got to tell you, I`ve got to tell you, Mitch, that is
the weakest place to start. I`ll read, though, from your former colleague
and current CEO, if you want to take that approach.

Michael Lynton who said today, "We have not caved, we have not given
in, we have persevered, and we have not backed down. We have always had
every desire to have the American public see this movie."

That`s the current Sony argument. That`s the argument you`re
proposing. But, of course, put aside the distributors, put aside the
insurance clauses you could release this online, at least to make a
statement separate from the money motive if you wanted.

SINGER: Well, Ari, yes, I mean, I can`t disagree with that. But, you
know, only Sony knows what additional documents have not yet been dumped.
And the question really is -- the question really is this, and this is what
I wrote, you know, a few days ago.

The question is, why do we expect Sony to be the one responsible for
fighting the fight against North Korea? Is it really Sony? Is it really
the corporation`s obligation to fight this fight? You know, I`m surprised
at this. We know corporations fiduciary responsibility is to shareholder
value. We know that.

And, in fact, I think Sony pictures, even assuming for a moment they
had an opportunity to release it theatrically, had to kind of make a
decision here, because their decision is to make sure of the viability of
Sony pictures. That they can move forward. That they can move -- actually
make more motion pictures in the future.

And if we`re talking about cyber espionage here, which is what we`re
really talking about, the question is, it`s a cost benefit analysis that
only Sony pictures can make. The president can`t make it. I can`t make
it. Certainly, talking heads on news can`t make it.

This is only a decision for Sony Pictures to make.

MELBER: So, on that point, and it is an important distinction you
make, but which is it? Is it that this was about many other players and
the local theaters, and all of that, or is it that under the cyber
extortion and the damage hanging over their head, they were simply
protecting themselves? Is it Sony or is it everybody else?

SINGER: I think any company put in this situation would face the same
decisions to actually protect the entity. I mean, of course, we want
companies, we want people to stand up for First Amendment. Oh, by the way,
the First Amendment is alive and well in America. Of course we do.

But not at, you know, possibly critically injuring the messenger. We
don`t ask -- we don`t ask that of anyone. And I don`t know why we would
ask it here.

And the bottom line, Ari, in this, is that if you think about it, if
there`s a threat to an exhibitor, whether it`s a physical threat of an
explosion or a bombing or the 9/11 threat, or there`s actually a threat of
another cyber attack, why would an exhibitor take the risk over a single
movie. You know, and even if Sony could release it online over the top
direct to home, which I read about as well, give me an over-the-top service
that would also take the risk of actually being attacked by North Korea?
You know --

MELBER: So, I push -- let me because of our limited time, I push you
a little. Let`s push the government, then.

SINGER: OK.

MELBER: Do you think the Obama administration, if it wanted to put
its money where its mouth is on free speech here, should join and formally
help create a government-sponsored platform and government protection to at
least put this out, so there isn`t this endless self-censorship of the film
under debate?

SINGER: Well, look, I mean, you use self-censorship. I just want to
quickly comment on that.

First, let me answer the question, I guess. The answer is, yes, I
would like to see what the Obama administration thinks could have been done
differently here other than blaming Sony for not standing up for, you know,
American values and freedom of expression.

But the bottom line here on self censorship is, there`s all kinds of
censorship that goes on all the time. I mean, China being the number two
box office country in the world now, I guarantee you, big mega hits are not
going to be critical of China because they economically need that market.

So, the bottom line is, we do it all the time. We`ve never been
forced, though, to change behavior based upon cyber attack like this.

MELBER: Right. And let me -- I want to also --

SINGER: Ari, I want to add one thing.

MELBER: Go ahead.

SINGER: That`s what I think bothers us the most, that North Korea was
actually able to reach across the Pacific --

MELBER: Yes.

SINGER: -- and carry this out.

And we don`t like the idea that they may have actually been successful
at it. And we know the U.S. government has probably very limited options
in what they can do. And the last hope was, was Sony -- like why won`t
Sony just stand up for the rights?

I think that`s the wrong way to approach this. I think we have to
really ask ourselves, is this a corporation`s fight to fight or is this
something we really have to look at the government?

MELBER: And to that end, final question to you -- George Clooney put
out a very interesting piece of information today. I`ll read from that.
He said, "The most powerful people in Hollywood were so to place themselves
in crosshairs of hackers that they refused to sign a simple petition of
support" which he and his agent, a powerful agent, CAA`s Bryan Lourd, had
circulated to what they say were the top people in film, TV, records, music
and other areas.

Does that surprise you, given your knowledge and your work at Sony?
And do you think there`s the other piece, the so-called creative class,
which has political clout and plenty of money, I should mention, should
have stood up more as an alliance and not just a question of a single
company?

SINGER: I mean, if you think about what just happened, you know,
terabytes of documents were stolen and many of them dumped. And again, we
don`t know how many were dumped, embarrassing e-mails were disclosed with
respect to Amy Pascal.

If I`m -- if I`m a studio head or an industry head, I think I`d like
to whole thing just to go away because I don`t want any of my e-mails
disclosed. I don`t want my business shut down by a cyberattack.

I mean, North Korea did it. We may not like the fact that they did
it, but they actually did it. And I`m not sure it was Sony`s fight to win.

I mean, you know, even Newt said the other day with Sony collapse we
lost our first cyber attack.

It`s like, really? Really? We expected Sony to fight back and
possibly, you know, lose their business in the long term? It`s not a
corporation`s fight to fight. It`s really something that happened. I
think Sony`s fighting right now to survive. And I think that`s the right
approach.

MELBER: Well, Mitch Singer, I appreciate your time and your expertise
here. That was the corporate perspective. Thank you for that.

And we are going to go to the government perspective to P.J. Crowley,
a former spokesperson for the State Department.

First, what did you think of that argument Mitch made?

P.J. CROWLEY, FORMER U.S. ASST. SECY. OF STATE: Well, in answer to
Mitch`s corporation, is this a corporation`s fight to fight? In part, yes.
I mean, we now live in a world where individuals or private entities can
have geopolitical impact. Whether it`s, you know, three hikers that walk
across an unmarked border from Iraq to Iran or a pastor in Florida who
decides to put the Koran on trial, or a corporation that is in the
crosshairs. And as the president said, we are sympathetic to Sony`s
plight.

And now, the question is, you know, how does Sony respond? I think we
have -- Sony should have enlisted broader support and found a way to work
with government, enlarge the challenge so that we can respond not only as a
private sector but as a people, you know, and address the implications of
what North Korea is trying to do. And at least so far, has been successful
in doing.

MELBER: Why didn`t the president directly support a way to put the
film out today?

CROWLEY: Well, I think -- I think -- if I look at Sony, I understand
the dilemma they were in, in terms of not having partners to show the film
on December 25th. You know, but I think their mistake was in making a
decision to postpone the debut of the film, but not having an alternate
strategy.

And I think, you know, as the president said, had Sony, you know,
enlisted the support across the entertainment industry, perhaps the support
of government, we could have figured out, how do we respond to this, you
know, collectively as Americans.

MELBER: And, P.J., Sony --

CROWLEY: And as a government --

(CROSSTALK)

MELBER: Sony was not prepared. Do you think the State Department was
unprepared as well, basically?

CROWLEY: Well, the government has seen the threat of cyberattacks
coming at us. I mean, this is an act of aggression. I don`t think it`s an
act of terrorism necessarily. I don`t think it`s an act of war.

And I do think that we need to continue as a government to press for
greater information sharing from the private sector to the public sector
and higher standards of protection of private and public networks. You
know, businesses across the spectrum have kind of resisted that higher
standard. John McCain this week said we need a more comprehensive approach
to cyber security.

So -- you know, but that gets back to the point that Mitch raised. Is
this Sony`s fight to fight? Yes, to the extent that whether you`re talking
about, you know, state-sponsored cyberattacks, criminally sponsored
cyberattacks or high school students in their basements, you know,
businesses are under siege and need to respond in ways that protect their
interest, and then protect the broader interest at the same time.

MELBER: Former U.S. assistant secretary of state, P.J. Crowley --
thank you so much tonight. Really appreciate it.

CROWLEY: Pleasure, Ari.

MELBER: It could have been your standard issue presidential press
conference, but President Obama was actually in rare form this afternoon
and he used his year-end presser to make some history at the White House.
We`ll explain, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MELBER: For the first time since the Ferguson grand jury declined to
indict Officer Darren Wilson in the death of unnamed teenager Michael
Brown, St. Louis prosecutor Mike McCulloch is now speaking out, and he
actually admits that some grand jury witnesses, people who are called to
testify under oath, that they lied.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MCCULLOCH: Early on, I decided anyone who claimed to have witnessed
anything was going to be presented to the grand jury. I thought it was
much more important to present everybody and anybody and some that, yes,
clearly, were not telling the truth.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: We`ll have much more on why he did and that interview, coming
up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MELBER: The presidential news conference has become a staple of the
modern presidency, with not much changing over the years except for the
composition of the press itself.

Here is President Lyndon B. Johnson with reporters in the Oval Office
back in 1978. You see it, Helen Thomas there, the lone woman up front.

Here is President Obama today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)

OBAMA: Josh has given me the who`s been naughty and who`s been nice
list. And we`re going to start with Carrie Budoff Brown of politico.

Cheryl Bolen, you`ve been naughty. Cheryl, go ahead, go ahead.

Julie Pace.

Lesley Clark.

Roberta Rampton. There you go.

McCain Nelson.

I think this is going to be our last question, Juliette Eilperin.

April, go ahead.

(END VIDEO CLIPS)

MELBER: It was a historic day. President Obama only took questions
from female reporters at this, the solo White House press conference in
this afternoon.

And the president seemed particularly relaxed and confident, it was a
little more than a month ago that he was meeting with Republican leaders
after that GOP sweep and the backdrop was threats from ISIS, the problems
with Ebola.

Today, Ebola seems contained on the home front for now, and with a
stream of good economic news, the job numbers, falling gas prices, and
steady show of presidential power on executive action and breakthroughs in
foreign policy, the president basically presided over a jam-packed
successful year-end press conference.

Joining me to explain it all, Adam Frankel, former speechwriter and
former special assistant to President Obama, and Lesley Clark, White House
correspondent from "McClatchy", who was one of the reporters who asked a
question at today`s presser.

Let me start with you on that note, Lesley. The president felt he had
a lot of good news to spread and he went through the list of reporters that
we saw there.

LESLEY CLARK, MCCLATCHY: Yes, he did seem to do a victory lap on the
economy and a number of things. But we tried to hit him on a number of
issues.

MELBER: And what did you make, though, of what he got across today?

CLARK: Well, he seemed to hit everything he wanted to do. I think by
selecting some of the reporters he did, he got to go to questions that he
wanted to talk about. I asked him about Cuba. I worked for McClatchy
newspapers and one of our biggest newspapers is the Miami Herald. So,
that`s sort of an obvious interest area for us.

MELBER: Yes, let`s play actually his part of his Cuba answer.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: I think that ultimately we need to go ahead and pull down the
embargo, which I think has been self-defeating in advancing the aims that
we`re interested in. But I don`t anticipate that that happens right away.
I think people are going to want to see how does this move forward.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: And your thoughts on his response there, obviously,
continuing to push the executive approach to this breakthrough.

CLARK: Yes. Well, that wasn`t a surprise. I tried to cram in about
20 questions into about two seconds of questioning. So, I didn`t get all
the answers I would have liked but it`s a start.

MELBER: And let me go to Adam, get your thoughts on how the White
House approaches this. You`ve been there. You`ve consulted and written
for this president. But let me play the sort of series of some of the
other domestic good news here that he was able to tout. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: The strongest year for job growth since the 1990s. America is
now the number one producer of oil, the number one producer of natural gas.
We`re saving drivers about 70 cents a gallon at the pump over last
Christmas. We`ve now repaid taxpayers every dime and more of what my
administration committed, and the American auto industry is on track for
its strongest year since 2005. Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, about 10
million Americans have gained health insurance just this past year.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: That`s all true. I mean, those are just facts he`s listing
more than high-sailing rhetoric. And I know when you were at the White
House, you weren`t specifically on the president`s approach to the auto
sector.

ADAM FRANKEL, FORMER OBAMA SPEECHWRITER: I did. Yes, and when we --
when the president gave the speech about auto restructuring, he said
afterwards, I asked him, how do you think that went? He said, I just want
to give the American people some good cheer. I`m tired of giving all this
tough news.

And there was some good cheer that was delivered today. You know, I
think that when historians look back on this period of the presidency,
they`re going to see a period when there`s a playing out of the reforms and
investments that he made early on. Whether it`s the economy, strongest
year of job growth since the `90s as we just heard, health care, 10 million
new people covered, and auto industry and a range of others.

We talk about the climate agreement he reached with China. I mean,
that was a commitment he made in the early days of the campaign. In Iowa,
he talked about climate -- addressing climate change. So, I think you can
look at presidential terms and phases. And this phase is really sort of
the sowing of the seeds that were planted early on.

MELBER: And so, walk us through that. How do you do that? Because
they used to say in media, if it bleeds, it leads. With health care, you
know, if it`s broken, it`s the top story with the Web site. Now, you have
-- the rate of the uninsured crashing in a way that no other modern
president has achieved, but we all know it`s not the lead story.

FRANKEL: And this was all predicted. When we were talking about
health care reform, when we were trying to get it done, the president would
say in just about every speech, you know, this is all controversial now,
but look at what happened when we were trying to pass Medicare. Look at
what happened when we were trying to pass Social Security, people were
tearing it apart, calling LBJ, calling FDR, socialists, communists.

This is familiar language. And yet, it becomes a part of the American
fabric, part of the social compact, people`s lives improve, and that`s what
we`re seeing today play out with health care.

MELBER: And, Lesley, briefly, since you were in the room, was there
any question you felt the president just didn`t answer?

CLARK: Well, we got responses to everything. I`m sure there are
several things he didn`t answer. I mean, I asked him whether or not he got
assurances from the Cuban government, whether or not they would try to
repeat in times past sabotage overtures from American presidents, and he
sort of said that, you know, they might do things we don`t like. So,
that`s to be seen, but I guess on that question.

MELBER: Yes. And sometimes it is the open questions that are
interesting. He clearly is reserving judgment on how he`ll deal with the
North Korea deal as well.

Lesley Clark and Adam Frankel, thank you both for joining us for the
end of the year presser review.

In the first interview since he announced he was not charging Officer
Darren Wilson for killing unarmed Michael Brown, St. Louis prosecutor Bob
McCulloch said he did know some of the testimony he put before the grand
jury was, quote, "not accurate". It`s a pretty interesting interview, his
first time speaking out. That`s coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MELBER: The last question President Obama took in his last press
conference of the year today was simply, what`s the state of black America
and racial issues in this country?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Like the rest of
America, black America in the aggregate is better off now than it was when
I came into office. The gap between income and wealth of white and black
America persists and we got more work to do on that front.

We`ve seen some progress. The education reforms that we`ve initiated
are showing measurable results. We have the highest high school graduation
that we`ve seen in a very long time.

Now, obviously how we`re thinking about race relations right now has
been colored by Ferguson, the Garner case in New York, a growing awareness
in the broader population of what many communities of color have understood
for some time and that is that there are specific instances, at least,
where -- where law enforcement doesn`t feel as if it`s being applied in a
color-blind fashion.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: There is new evidence that law enforcement was not applied in
the normal fashion in Ferguson.

Today, the prosecutor in that case spoke out for the very first time
since the original grand jury decision. He says he knew that he was
putting witnesses before the grand jury who were not actually witnesses to
that killing and who were lying. Now, why he said that and whether it
could lead to improvements in criminal justice, up ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MELBER: Today for the first time since the Ferguson grand jury
decision in the shooting death of unarmed teenager Michael Brown came down,
prosecutor Bob
McCulloch is now speaking out. He`s defending himself after scrutiny over
who he put on the stand.

All In has been reporting on problems with the testimony from witness
40 for over week. That witness said Brown went, quote, "running right at
the cop like a football player" and many in the media seized on that quote.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEAN HANNITY, HOST, HANNITY REPORT: Quote, and I`m reading, "like a
football player with his head down charging."

That Michael Brown, you know, was charging like a football player full
force.

One witness described it as charging at Officer Wilson like a football
player with his head down.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: Chris Hayes has been reporting on why that witness`s
credibility is suspect as have other journalists. And the grand jury
documents show a special problem with this witness, they show that the
investigators knew at the time that her story didn`t add up. Today
McCulloch felt compelled to address critics who says he shouldn`t have put
such a suspect witness on the stand at all. In a 30-minute interview with
the St. Louis radio station, he answered a question apparently referring to
those problems with Witness 40.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BOB MCCULLOCH, ST. LOUIS COUNTY PROSECUTORY: There`s talk of one
witness now, this is a lady who clearly wasn`t present when this occurred
and she recounted the statement that was right out of the newspaper about,
you know, Wilson`s actions and right down the line with Wilson`s actions
even though I`m sure she was nowhere near the place.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: That is remarkable. The prosecutor saying he knew the person
he called as a witness to the incident was not a witness. She wasn`t even
there.

I want to read that quote back, quote, "I`m sure she was nowhere near
the place."

Now, this was meant to be some kind of explanatory interview from Mr.
McCulloch but it`s also a pretty remarkable admission. He`s now saying
that getting this testimony from people like Witness 40, though, this was
all part of the official plan.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MCCULLOCH: Well, early on I decided that anyone who claimed to have
witnessed anything was going to be presented to the grand jury.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: So, anyone who claimed to be a witness got to speak
apparently regardless of evidence that showed they weren`t a witness to the
killing. And today McColloch said he would be criticized if he didn`t let
these would-be witnesses testify.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MCCULLOCH: I knew that no matter how I handled this, there would be
criticism of it. And so, if I didn`t put those witnesses on, then we`d be
discussing now why I didn`t put those witnesses on, even though -- and you
know, even though their statements were not accurate.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: You don`t need to be a lawyer to know that doesn`t make any
sense. It is wrong for a prosecutor to put forward witnesses he believes
are lying. And I think it`s hard to imagine anyone criticizing him for
sticking to only, you know, the reliable witnesses, the ones who were
there, the ones who saw the incident. That after all is his job.

Joining me now, Jonathan Shapiro, a former federal prosecutor and
special assistant to former U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno.

Good evening to you.

I want to mention you`re the author of a book "Lawyers, Liars and the
Art of
Storytelling." I don`t want to talk too much about storytelling with you
but more about truth and why would a prosecutor say that he should put
people on the stand in a grand jury that he didn`t think were telling the
truth?

JONATHAN SHAPIRO, FRM. FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Well, he shouldn`t. And
no lawyer should. The rules of professional conduct prohibit it, rule 3.3
specifically says a lawyer shall not put a witness before a tribunal,
including a
grand jury, if the lawyer, including the prosecutor, knows the person is
not telling the truth. You can`t do it. It`s illegal. It`s called
suborning perjury.

If you do it, the sanctions that you face are contempt of court,
sanctions by your state bar, in this case the state Missouri, or prison.
You`d be indicted for it.

The question is what did this prosecutor know and when did he know it?
If he knew that that witness, number 40, was lying and wasn`t there, he had
an ethical, legal and professional duty not to put the witness on the
stand. If he found out about it later, he had a separate obligation to
notify the tribunal, that is, going to the grand jury and say, that witness
lied to you.

The idea that you are able to sort of open up the grand jury witness
stand to anybody who wants to have a say, like it`s -- like it`s a group
meeting or something, is outrageous. I`ve never heard of a prosecutor
suggest that that`s an
appropriate way to handle what is, after all, in the constitution by law,
our founding fathers said that you cannot be charged with a crime unless
you have been indicted by a grand jury or had a public probable cause
hearing.

MELBER: So, Mr. Shapiro, just to be clear, what you`re saying is not
that this was not simply bad lawyering or an incompetent presentation of
the case, you`re saying based on the record available that it could rise to
an actual ethical violation or sanctionable offense by this prosecutor?

SHAPIRO: I go back to what I -- well, first of all again, I say it
depends on what he knew and when he knew it. If he knew the witness he was
putting before the grand jury was lying, he had an ethical and legal
obligation not to put that witness on the stand. If for no other reason
that he`d be tanking his own case, which raises an interesting question.

MELBER: Well, and the externally available evidence, that is to say
the material they had apart from her own statements, suggested that she
wasn`t there. The diary entries that she purportedly provided had these
bizarre explanations, racially tinged, for why she went to that
neighborhood 40 minutes away. She had no other reason to be there.

And, as we`ve reported extensively, she also had this history of
inserting herself in other cases and has a host of problems, that are her
problems.

SHAPIRO: Right.

MELBER: So, it seemed they knew then.

SHAPIRO: Which raises all kinds of flags as to why you would put that
witness on the stand. If you had serious doubts about this witness, about
their
credibility, at the very least you had an obligation, I believe, to notify
the grand jurors that this witness came with this baggage.

But I have to say, based on the record that we have, I think there are
a number of questions that suggest that this prosecutor -- and just so
we`re clear, prosecutors are, by law and by their oath, required to follow
the same rules as a
criminal defense lawyer or any other attorney.

MELBER: Right.

SHAPIRO: If any attorney put a witness before a tribunal, knowing
that that witness was a liar and didn`t tell the judge they would be
guilty, in my opinion, of possibly subordinating perjury, certainly they
should have a contempt hearing. And they should be looked at by their
state bar for violation of their ethical obligations.

MELBER: Right. And those are strong rules that are supposed to be
enforced
uniformly. I want to mention as well, there are state lawmakers now there
in response to this interview calling for a state investigation.

Jonathan Shapiro, we thank you for your expertise and your time
tonight.

And we`re going to turn to some better news tonight in All In America
story, that`s coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MELBER: The nation is saying goodbye to a man who brought us the
meaning of the word truthiness, a patriot who helped us better understand
Super PACs, a television host who interviewed both the president and of
course a fire breathing dragon. And he did it all over the course of half
an hour every night. That`s coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MELBER: If you ever wondered just how big alternative energy can be,
a
feral cattle ranch in Kansas gives you some idea of the sheer enormity of
these wind turbines on the ranch is pretty awe-inspiring. They`re towering
over those bison grazing beneath begging the question, how on earth did
something that big even get from a factory all the way to the wind farm?

Well, All In America traveled to North Dakota this fall to find out.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I`ve had people ask me what these things are.
Best result I ever came out with was s that it was a prosthetic limb for a
whale.

CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC ANCHOR: The shear scale of these blades boggles
the mind.

KEITH LONGTIN, GENERAL ELECTRIC: Each one of these blades, they weigh
about 9 tons. The diameter is about 300 feet, so that`s about the length
of a football field.

HAYES: And they are everywhere.

LONGTIN: In the U.S. we have about 15,000 wind turbines.

HAYES: GE got into the wind business in 2002. it now makes 40 percent
of all wind turbines in the U.S. And it`s constantly refining its
technology to safely harness the wind.

LONGTIN: When you look at a wind turbine, that wind flow creates
two forces, one is a torque -- torque turns the gearbox, which turns the
generator which puts the kilowatt hours onto the grid. It also creates a
thrust. And the thrust that is being created is equivalent to five F-18
engines trying to pull the
turbine over. We invest in a lot of technology to be able to develop new
controls that allow you to operate the turbine in those conditions.

HAYES: Those designs are made into reality at factories like L.M.
Wind Power in Grand Forks, North Dakota.

Business is good: the plant employs 630 workers and runs seven days a
week. And they expect to produce 1800 blades this year alone.

BILL BURGA, LM WIND POWER: About six blades are coming out, sometimes
five, are coming out every single day.

HAYES: And every single one of these blades needs to be loaded and
transported to its final destination often thousands of miles away.

It`s a massive undertaking. Literally.

DAVE DEVINES: A normal truck and trailer are 80 foot. We`re almost,
you know, at times we`re almost three times longer than that.

HAYES: This September the final destination for three of those blades
was just 255 miles away, a brand new community wind farm in South Dakota.

A drive that normally takes four hours took almost twice that long.
Down the freeway, through small towns until finally reaching Oak Tree Farm.

BILL MAKENS, OAK TREE FARM: This is the first of the delivery of the
11 turbines that will be here. It`s kind of like Christmas morning,
opening up all these big presents and big packages.

HAYES: A sixth generation family farm, Oak Tree is now branching out
into wind.

MAKENS: We`ve been farming wheat and corn and soybeans, so we thought
we`d give a chance to farm the wind.

HAYES: When all 11 turbines are up and running, the wind farm is
expected to
power 5,000 homes.

MAKENS: Well, there`s one thing you can count on in South Dakota is
the wind.

HAYES: Wind energy supports an estimated 50,000 jobs across the
country and is the fastest growing source of power in the United States.

LONGTIN: The U.S. has about 5 percent of electricity generation
coming
from wind power. Put that in perspective, the whole nuclear industry is
about 12 to 15 percent and they have been doing it since the `50s.

HAYES: And who knows what the future growth trajectory for wind power
could look like.

BURGA: We`re at a point where energy independence is what we`re
looking for. We`re virtually there.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MELBER: That was Chris Hayes reporting.

It has been three months since All In followed that first wind turbine
blade. And we have an update for you tonight, all 11 wind turbines are now
up and running at Oak Tree Farm in Clarke, South Dakota feeding energy into
the grid, powering 5,000 homes this winter.

And you can read much more about this story Chris has been tracking
and all the other All In America reports from this entire year on
AllinAmerica.MSNBC.com, or AllInwithChris.com. It`s the internet, use it.

One of the great cultural figures of the last decade says good-bye,
that`s
next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

STEPHEN COLBERT, HOST, COLBERT REPORT: This show is not about me.
No, this program is dedicated to you, the heroes. And who are the heroes?
The people who watch this show, average hard working Americans. You`re not
the elite, you`re
not the country club crowd. I know for a fact that my country club would
never let you in.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: That was the premiere of The Colbert Report in October 2005.
And nine years and over 1,400 episodes later it was time to say goodbye to
the show and its fictional host last night.

Colbert fashioned, of course, a bombastic conservative anchor as a
living parody of Papa Bear Bill O`Reilly. The character dies, but his
creator lives taking over The Late Show for David Letterman.

There was a touching musical sendoff last night from a huge array of
former guests -- Barry Manilow, Henry Kissinger, Gloria Steinem, the Cookie
Monster and our next guest who you can see right there, right there,
Jonathan Altar, singing.

He is of course an author and MSNBC analyst, executive producer of the
political satire Alpha House and, we want to say, Alter`s wife is an
executive
producer of The Colbert Report and has worked there from the very start.

It`s so nice of you to make time for us.

JONATHAN ALTER, EXECUTIVE PRODUCER, ALPHA HOUSE: Good to see you,
Ari.

MELBER: What did you make of that sendoff last night? That was
vintage Colbert in that it was very funny, but also was earnest.

ALTER: Yeah, it was -- I have to say it was one of the more fun
evenings I
have ever spent and with strange bedfellows of that event where you had
like Gloria Steinem with Toby Keith or Andy Cohen with Henry Kissinger.
And all night people taking selfies, celebrities very anxious to take
selfies with other celebrities.

But a lot of people who were who were not celebrities, but authors,
journalists who have written important pieces, intellectuals, the head of
the National Institute of Health. The reason I mention that is one of the
unique things about The Colbert Report is that they were able to give
intellectual life a chance in America. You know, there are not very many
shows that cover books, for instance, that cover serious ideas yet and he
did it in such a hilarious way that
I think he did make some television history.

MELBER: Right, and he would serve vegetables but without robbing them
of their nourishment and keeping it entertaining.

I want to play his whole parody of Super PACs. Let`s look at that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

COLBERT: Are you here to offer to take over Colbert Super PAC?

JON STEWART, HOST, THE DAILY SHOW: I`m not even going to diminish. I
won`t offer. I`m honored. I would be honored. But can I, if I may, can
we do this because you and I are also business partners?

COLBERT: Yes, we`re business partners.

STEWART: We`re about to open up that combination bagel shop.

COLBERT: And travel agency.

STEWART: From Smear to Eternity.

COLBERT: Is that a problem?

Trevor, is being business partners a problem?

TREVOR POTTER, ATTORNEY: Being business partners does not count as
coordination, legally.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: That`s Trevor Potter, the FEC and John McCain`s lawyer. And
the Annenberg looked at this, the Annenberg Center, and they found that
more Americans
learned about this issue from the Colbert coverage than any other source.

ALTER: That`s not surprising really. It`s a myth that Americans get
their news from Colbert and Stewart. If they didn`t have a basis of
knowledge, the jokes wouldn`t mean anything. But on arcane subjects like
campaign finance reform, Colbert did something really masterful, which was
to take a terribly complex, often boring subject and turn it into comedy is
and make it educational at the same time.

MELBER: And he went to the White House Correspondents Dinner there
within the first year of launching the show and did something that was
incredibly funny but also had a strong political message during the Bush
era. Let`s look at that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

COLBERT: Most of all, I believe in this president. Now I know
there`s some polls out there saying that this man has a 32 percent approval
rating. But guys like us, we don`t pay attention to the polls. We know
that polls are just a collection of statistics that reflect what people are
thinking in reality and reality has a well known liberal bias.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ALTER: I think that will be known as one of Colbert`s classic lines,
"reality has a well known liberal bias."

I was in the room. It was -- I was sitting with people from the Bush
administration. They were not amused. There was a lot of, you know, hand
wringing afterward that this was somehow disrespectful to the president,
which I think told us a lot more about Washington than about Stephen
Colbert.

But this was also the dawn of YouTube. It`s hard to believe, but
YouTube had only been around for a year in 2006. And he immediately went
to most watched video, he was not well known at the time.

MELBER: Right, as you say, some people didn`t like it that`s
something Washington and North Korea have in common.

ALTER: It was a transformative and very important signifier in
American...

MELBER: Satire is powerful.

We`re out of time. Jonathan Alter, thank you. That is our show.

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY
BE UPDATED.
END

<Copy: Content and programming copyright 2014 NBC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
Copyright 2014 CQ-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 CQ-Roll Call. You may not alter or remove any trademark,
copyright or other notice from copies of the content.>






Sponsored links

Resource guide