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PoliticsNation, Monday, December 29th, 2014

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Show: THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL
Date: December 29, 2014
Guest: Michael Kay, Robert Costa



ARI MELBER, GUEST HOST: Good evening and thanks for that, Steve.

It is 11:00 a.m. on Tuesday now in Singapore, 10:00 in Surabaya.
Families wait and crews are searching miles and miles of water and land for
any sight of AirAsia 8501. Tonight`s efforts are focusing on now reports
of smoke on an island in a search area.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The search for AirAsia Flight 8510 is about to
continue for a third day.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What went wrong? The latest on the rescue
effort over the Java Sea.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Fight 8501 disappeared more than a day and a half
ago now.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The plane disappeared Sunday morning, 42 minutes
after taking off from Indonesia to Singapore.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The pilot asked to change course and climb higher.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There was a very tall thunderstorm ahead of the
flight.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They wanted to fly at 38,000 feet to avoid bad
weather.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But then at 42 minutes into the flight, contact
was lost.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That`s when we lost contact with the plane.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No distress call was received.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Whatever happened here happened very fast for
there to be no emergency call.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There are a lot of questions as to what exactly
happened in those final moments.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: For those on board, it has been another agonizing
day of waiting and hoping for a miracle.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MELBER: Good evening.

It is day three of this search for the missing AirAsia flight.
Tonight, U.S. defense officials announced that the USS Sampson stationed in
the South China Sea, will now join the search for this missing plane.
Teams from France, China and Thailand will also join the international
search. And tonight, an official with the Indonesian air force is telling
NBC News that search crews will check on smoke that`s been coming from an
island within the search zone.

The plane carrying went missing about 40 minutes into a two-hour
flight from Indonesia to Singapore. Now, that was early on the morning on
Sunday local time.

Also we can tell you earlier today, Indonesian national search and
rescue chief stated that "based on the coordinates that we know, the
evaluation would be that any estimated crash position is in the sea, and
that the hypothesis is that the plane is at the bottom of the sea," end
quote.

Now, NBC`s Katy Tur has more on this search -- Katy.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KATY TUR, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Ari.

It is morning here in Singapore, the start of day three, with still no
sign of this plane. The search has resumed for the morning, but there are
concerns that bad weather could interfere with the effort.

(voice-over): Ships, helicopters and planes scoured the sea around
the Belitung Islands, halfway between Surabaya, Indonesia, and Singapore
for any sign of the missing plane. Flight 8501 took off from Surabaya at
5:85 local time Sunday morning, bound for Singapore.

But it abruptly dropped from radar after only 40 minutes in the air.
There was no distress call.

GREG FEITH, NBC NEWS AVIATION ANALYST: Right now, we don`t have a lot
of good data to pinpoint the actual location of the wreckage.

TUR: Pilots had asked to change altitude to avoid bad weather, a
request that was denied because of air traffic.

The Weather Channel`s Carl Parker.

CARL PARKER, THE WEATHER CHANNEL: We know this flight was traveling
at about 32,000 feet, and there was a very tall thunderstorm ahead of the
flight, which they did try to get around but were not cleared to. And it`s
possible that they encountered very strong vertical winds. There are
updrafts and downdrafts in thunderstorms that can exceed 80, even 100 miles
per hour.

TUR: At Surabaya, anxious loved ones were comforted by AirAsia`s CEO
Tony Fernandes who flew down to Indonesia only hours after the
disappearance.

TONY FERNANDES, AIRASIA CEO: We don`t really want to speculate.
Until we find the aircraft, we know what went wrong, and we`ll look into it
and see.

TUR: A marked different from the way Malaysia government handled
MH370, which disappeared in March.

Comparisons between the two flights are seemingly inevitable, but
there are a lot of differences. Unlike MH370 which flew undetected for
hours, air traffic control noticed immediately when this flight went
missing. AirAsia had been upgrading its satellite tracking systems, but
this particular plane was not yet modified.

FEITH: This aircraft will be found. It`s just going to take some
time.

TUR: And now, there are more concerns about the weather. It`s
monsoon season in Southeast Asia and rain is expected for the next few
days.

While anguished relatives wait in Singapore, the head of the
Indonesian search effort is preparing people for the worst.

"Our evaluation of the coordinates that we received suggest that it is
underwater. So our presumption is that the plane is under the sea," he
told reporters.

Tonight, more questions than answers and hope for anything but another
airline tragedy.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MELBER: NBC`s Katy Tur reporting and joining me now, Michael Kay,
retired senior British officer who`s logged 3,000 hours flying both
helicopters and jets. And Bob Hager, retired NBC News aviation
correspondent.

Good evening, gentlemen.

And, Bob, let me start with you. The real breaking news here this
evening has been the U.S. joining the effort. What does that do?

BOB HAGER, RET. NBC NEWS AVIATION CORRESPONDENT: Well, it just gives,
for the moment, another ship out there to look. But eventually, if they
locate some wreckage and can trace that back and find the area where they
believe that the main part of the wreckage is, then it would be time to put
out listening devices to try to pick up the pinger noise and eventually
robots or divers to go down and grapple and bring up the black boxes if
they can locate those.

So, when you get to sophisticated equipment like that, the U.S. has
it. A lot of it serves the petroleum industries now in the search for oil.
But the U.S. has those kinds of things and could provide them, and that
would be a good thing for the authorities in Indonesia.

MELBER: And, Michael, from the pilot perspective, for people
watching, this is not like driving a car where you turn on your turn signal
and move into a different lane. When we hear that there was the desire to
go from 32,000 to 38,000 feet, but they were waved off of that, how does
that work?

MICHAEL KAY, AVIATION EXPERT: Well, there are very strict protocols
and procedures, Ari, whether inclement weather in this region isn`t
unusual. And the procedures to navigate around inclement weather are not
unusual to the crew as well.

One thing I think is really important here, though, in a more broader
aspect, Ari, is the investigation. I`ve been involved in two crash
investigations in my military career. They`re basically broken down to
three principle pillars, this the where, the what and the why.

And when an aircraft goes missing to actually finding out why
something happened can take years. We know with MH370, we still haven`t
found out where it is yet, let alone the what and the why.

So, what we`re looking at, we`re looking to find this wreckage, the
wreckage will then hopefully take us to the FDRs and CVRs, the flight deck
recorder and the cockpit voice recorder. That will then allow us to work
out what happened. And then when we know what happened, we can work out
why it happened. It`s a long time.

MELBER: What do you make of a lack of a distress call?

KAY: I think it`s really interesting. The lack of a distress or
communications, it`s not just radios that allow the crew to communicate.
It`s things like transponders, which you can put 7700, which is an
international emergency squawk. It tells the world that there`s something
wrong.

It`s a great question. What it tells us is either the crew didn`t
know what was happening around them or it tells us that there was a very
quick, catastrophic event that prevented them from putting out a call.

Air France 447 was a classic example of the crew getting into a very
severe stall and the crew not knowing what was happening and it crashed
into the sea. No call went out.

A catastrophic event would be something like Pan Am 103 over Lockerbie
that was blown up. A call wouldn`t have gone out there.

And the other thing is here as well, Ari, is when we`re looking for
the wreckage, Pan Am 103 blew up at 31,000 feel and covered 845 square
miles. So, this is a vast area to be searched, whether it`d be on land or
whether it`d be on sea.

MELBER: Yes. And, Bob, put this in the larger historical context for
us because if this is indeed confirmed that it has gone down as we`ve been
reporting, the authorities have indicated, that would bring us up to the
most airplane related fatalities since 2005, and yet those aren`t always
apples to apples comparisons. When people watch and we`ve seen these
stories and they get a lot of attention, should people feel that air travel
is less safe?

HAGER: No, I don`t think so. And, in fact, if you look at the longer
range picture -- I mean, gee, I started as our aviation reporter, what, was
it about three decades ago, four decades ago. And there was a crash or two
major crashes in the U.S. every year. And by the time I retired ten years
ago, we`d go four and five years at a time without a major crash in the
U.S.

So, the long-range picture, certainly flying has got a lot safer.
This Malaysian incidents, the first one, I mean, that`s just such a
mystery, and the second one is a missile shoot-down, so its not a
mechanical failure on the plane or the fault of the crew.

So, I think it`s just inexplicable that this year happens to be a blip
in that long-range trend.

MELBER: Right. You see a blip, and it is true. I mean, the long
range is a big part of this. It is not simply looking at when we have a
story of a couple of these types of incidents.

The other thing I want to ask you is this discussion about the use of
auto pilot. And there have been many articles talking about criticism from
some in the pilot community that nowadays there`s a concern folks are too
reliant on it.

Can you shed any light on that?

KAY: Yes, I think it is a concern.

HAGER: Yes, I think the foreign --

MELBER: Go ahead, Bob. And then --

HAGER: -- the foreign pilots tend to use, I`m sorry, I think the
foreign pilots tend to use the auto pilot a little bit more than our people
do. And certainly, the Airbus being an all electronic aircraft has lent
itself to a more remotely-controlled kind of aircraft. But generally, I
think most pilots know, you know, if there`s an emergency, they`re going to
grab those controls. That`s my opinion.

MELBER: And, Michael, briefly?

KAY: Yes, just adding to that, these guys go through a really intense
simulator course every year. They go through emergency simulator
practices, and they will practice emergencies and practice emergencies. If
these guys fail, those procedures within the simulator, they`re not allowed
anywhere near a cockpit, let alone ferrying passengers around on airplanes.
So, there are very strict protocols, although I would agree there is, as
Bob was saying, there is more of a reliance by foreign pilots on the
automated systems than perhaps what we would see if we were flying in a
Delta flight in a domestic America.

MELBER: While the search continues, we will bring you any
developments on it as it happens.

Michael Kay and Bob Hager, I want to thank you both for joining us.

HAGER: Thanks, Ari.

MELBER: And up next, some breaking news from Congress on the word of
resignations that are on the way, breaking tonight. Bob Costa of "The
Washington Post" will explain.

And we have a story that Chris Christie does not want you to know
about, which is why the news literally broke over the Christmas weekend.
And which prominent braved the New Jersey traffic to meet with Christi and
helped him keep control of the Port Authority`s $7.8 billion budget?
That`s coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MELBER: And we turn to some breaking news out of Congress. "The New
York Daily News" and "The Washington Post" reporting tonight that
Congressman Michael Grimm, a Republican out of New York, will resign. This
is following his guilty plea last week on felony tax evasion. He
previously said he would not resign and would endeavor to continue serving.

Now, NBC News has not independently confirmed this resignation yet,
but joining me now by phone is reporter who has been working the story,
"Washington Post`s" Robert Costa.

Good evening to you. What are you hearing tonight?

ROBERT COSTA, THE WASHINGTON POST (via telephone): Good evening.

I hear that Representative Grimm spoke with the House Speaker John
Boehner today. He privately signaled to the speaker that he will step down
from Congress, and it comes after a mounting call from Democrats for him to
do so.

MELBER: And when you say signaled, does that mean in your
understanding that John Boehner now thinks he has a confirmed resignation?
Or this is still some sort of negotiation?

COSTA: Yes, I believe, the speaker, from everything I`ve been told
from those close to him and his allies, has been told by Grimm that Grimm
will step down from Congress. Grimm had said that he would not step down,
but he`s been under a lot of pressure not only from Republicans but from
Democrats to do so.

What I hear is that Boehner has resisted speaking publicly about
Grimm, and wanted to connect with Grimm by phone before he made any kind of
comment. And now that the two have spoken, it seems pretty clear from
talking to House Republican insiders that Congressman Grimm who has been
plagued by this scandal for years now will step down sometime this week.

MELBER: All right. Interesting breaking news there.

Bob Costa, I know you`ve been busy working the story. So thanks for
joining us with your reporting.

And up next, we have a report on one of the biggest developments in
Chris Christie`s bridgegate problem which coincidentally broke over
Christmas weekend, the ultimate time to try to bury bad news.

I will explain. That`s straight ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MELBER: When the news first broke that New Jersey officials blocked
traffic on the George Washington Bridge as some type of political payback,
Chris Christie was adamant on two points. Number one, he didn`t do it, and
number two, he`d fix anything that led to such antics.

Well, this weekend, I think we learn that one of those things isn`t
true. While no evidence is proven that Christie ordered those lane
closures, Christie just rejected legislation to clean up the Port Authority
as secretive, a multibillion dollar entity that helps fund (ph) bridgegate.

Now, this wasn`t just any legislation. Legislatures of New Jersey and
New York just passed bipartisan unanimous bills to reform the Port
Authority and try to exert better control over its massive $7.8 billion
budget.

Now, it is not every day that you can get every legislator in these
two shall we say argumentative states to agree on something. And yet,
while those bills waited for gubernatorial action, Governor Christie hosted
his New York counterpart, Governor Andrew Cuomo, just last Tuesday, for a
lunch at Il Villaggio, a massive hobnobbing spot that touts itself as,
quote, "one of the most authentic Italian restaurants in Bergen County, New
Jersey." I`d love to try it.

Now, we don`t know what was on the menu, but it was an unusual offsite
meeting and then four days later, both governors vetoed this Port Authority
reform bill. And they didn`t seem proud about it, timing the vetoes, of
course, for Christmas weekend, as I`ve mentioned.

Here`s how "New Jersey Star Ledger`s" Tom Moran puts it: "When
governors act righteously, they hold televised new conferences at noon.
When they act deviously, they issue written statements on Friday evening
and scurry home for cover. But when they act indefensibly and sink their
company of serpents and snakes, they make their move on Saturday night of
Christmas weekend, hoping the odor passes before the new week begins."

Well, happy Monday, everybody. The new week has begun. And these
governors maybe betting that most people are simply going to be tuned until
the New Year. And that`s not exactly leadership, but they clearly think
they`ll get away with it. And this is coming from two people often rumored
as presidential nominees for their respective parties.

Joining me to break it down, MSNBC contributor, Brian Murphy, a
professor at Baruch College, and the managing editor of PolitickerNJ.com,
relevant to this story, and former Vermont governor and MSNBC political
analyst, Howard Dean.

Good evening to both of you.

Brian, this is audacious. Even if people haven`t heard of the bill,
when you hear that you literally had everyone in both states for it, and
both these governors say, forget about it.

BRIAN MURPHY, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Six hundred twelve votes were cast
in favor of it. I mean, that`s the amazing thing. It`s a bi-state agency.
So, to do anything big and structural, you need both states, both houses of
the legislatures to pass identical bills in the same year.

So, getting -- we know that like getting Congress, getting one state
to do something is difficult enough. Getting these two states which have
really different calendars, New York had an election going on, so they
broke early this year. Getting both states to do the same thick in one
year nearly impossible and rejecting it late in the day, at the last
possible moment, when it`s impossible for states to have votes to override
the veto is shocking.

MELBER: And, Governor Dean, we can`t overstate how critical the
politics of these two states` vicinity is, because it`s been a piggy bank
and a unilateral mechanism for these governors, the budget bigger than
about 20 U.S. states entirely. So, I get why they want to control the
money, but shouldn`t this pressure have meant something? Or do you think
ultimately they get away with it?

HOWARD DEAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: I think they get away with it
in their own home states. If either one of these guys runs for president,
they`ve got a big problem, because what`s going to happen if any of them
get any traction, this goes in every attack ad on either side of the aisle.

I -- really, this sort of convinces me that Christie is not serious
about running for president. This is a power move, this is a huge
patronage organization that both states get enormous patronage and control
over a big, big budget. I can`t imagine doing this, if I was running for
president. I just cannot imagine doing something like this, that if I know
if I get traction in a presidential race, it`s going to end up in an
attack, not just -- not for the other party, but for your own party in a
primary.

MELBER: Yes. And, Brian, let`s just listen to what Governor Christie
was saying back in April about potential reforms.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: I`ve been very clear about the
fact that I think reform is needed and that we`ll work on that. But what
I`m not going to do is to respond to each idea that is thrown out there
individually. I think it`s the responsibility of Governor Cuomo and I to
go after this in a very thoughtful way, and to try to do it in the best way
to bring the best change that we can bring to that organization, and I`m
confident that given our relationship that we`ll be able to do that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: Brian, to Governor Dean`s point, that was the old strategy.
Hey, we`ll do something. Here, he was given, as I`ve said, I can`t
emphasize enough, an unusually bipartisan reform something, and he`s saying
no to it. That does mean in your view that he has a different presidential
strategy?

MURPHY: I think that he thinks he can cast himself as the chief
reformer of this. And just by redefining what reform is. If voters and
legislators thought that the Port Authority was patronage and conflicts of
interest and corruption, Christie and Cuomo are coming back and saying, no,
no, no, the problem is mission creep and the way to solve it is to give the
governors of this agency more control and to do reform, sort of structural
reforms that are going to -- they`ve got a good thing going here, right?

They can give away a lot of jobs. They can give away a lot of
contacts. They can hand-pick the commission.

MELBER: No, they love the patronage.

Governor Dean, you`re laughing. Go ahead.

DEAN: I mean, really. This does not pass the straight face test.

First of all, Chris Christie has an enormous problem in a place like
Iowa culturally. Forget about it. I`ve said before, it`s not a great
platform in Iowa, no matter what party you`re in.

Second of all, people believe that, fairly or unfairly, that New
Jersey and New York are not terribly honestly run states. That`s what they
believe, whether it`s fair not.

So, you have the general assemblies in both states passed -- both
Republicans and Democrats unanimously passing a reform bill, and the
governors are going to say no and then Chris Christie`s going to go to Iowa
and try to explain this to a bunch of a pretty straight-laced people who
are fairly serious about good government? I don`t see this. I just can`t
-- I just can`t understand how you can possibly even think that you`re
going to get away with this if you`re running for president.

MELBER: And then, Brian, I want to also get to Governor Cuomo here,
who, of course, comes from a strong family, Democratic name, everyone
remembers Mario Cuomo. He`s rumored as a potential presidential aspirant
of Hillary, isn`t running.

What do you make of him going to New Jersey to have this great North
Bergen Italian lunch and make what looks like a back room deal with this
prominent rising Republican?

MURPHY: The funny thing about that restaurant is there`s nothing
subtle about that. It`s a really public place. I`ve been in political
dinners before. I know the restaurant well.

If you go, they`re now trying to hide here. They`re hiding in plain
sight.

This alliance is completely interesting, I think, and it continues to
be perplexing to the people who cover both New York and New Jersey that,
you know, it seems like maybe it was opportunistic for Andrew Cuomo to
partner with Christie until his reelection. But since his reelection is
over now, it`s a remarkable thing.

I think it`s an alliance of mutual necessity that`s going on here, and
they both recognize that they have an interest in keeping things exactly
the way they are at the Port Authority.

MELBER: Yes, you get the feeling this is a joint bank account, and
even post-election, they`re going to continue to defend that prerogative.

Brian Murphy and Governor Howard Dean, thank you both for joining me
tonight.

MURPHY: Thanks, Ari.

MELBER: And next up, we`re going to look at a police dispute that has
been spending somewhat out of control. The mayor of New York City faces
some boos at a police graduation today and I will explain why at least a
small number of officers have gone too far.

And later, we`ll have the latest on the search for the missing AirAsia
plane and the moment of crisis onboard a Greek passenger ferry after a fire
broke out.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MELBER: Tonight, passengers say there were no fire alarms, no
warning, and virtually no instructions from crew onboard a Greek ferry that
caught fire in the Adriatic Sea overnight and it killed at least 10 people
while forcing a chaotic evacuation of more than 400 others.

NBC`s Keir Simmons has more.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KEIR SIMMONS, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Hundreds of
passengers were trapped on the burning ferry for more than 24 hours in
rough seas. Lower decks became boiling hot survivors said. Their shoes
melted.

In the panic, witnesses said some lifeboats were thrown overboard
empty. There was no help from the crew, this family says.

ATHANASIOS TSONAS, SURVIVOR: Not allowed, no communication, nobody to
tell us what to do. I had to look for myself to find the life jackets. I
have to put it on my kids by myself.

SIMMONS: Finally, they were airlifted to safety while wind speeds
reached 46 miles per hour. Here, a mother and her two children were
reached up to a helicopter. Her arms, a very young child. She smiles,
we`re OK.

The ferry was heading from a Greek port of Patras, to Ancona, Italy.
The ship`s manifest lists 478 passengers, but there`s confusion over
whether that`s accurate. It`s thought five broke out on the car deck,
flames burst from the ship`s windows. Some passengers died jumping into
the water. Others suffered hypothermia, with temperatures in the 30s.

The Greek and Italian prime ministers praised the rescue effort. And
the vessel had passed an inspection according to its owner.

But tonight, there are reports that inspectors had questioned the
ship`s fire safety. While Italian prosecutors have already begun a
criminal investigation.

Keir Simmons, NBC News, London.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MELBER: And up next, the backlash to turning their backs, the NYPD and
Mayor Bill de Blasio.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)


MELBER: In the "Spotlight" tonight, To Serve and Reject. That is how
the "New York Post," one of the highest circulation --

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

-- newspapers in the country, described the scene when uniformed
police officers turned their backs on Mayor Bill de Blasio outside funeral
for Officer Rafael Ramos.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

There had been calls for bridge building after a recent controversy
over the use of force by police around the country.

Clearly, that is not the approach of those using the funeral as a
chance to ditch the mayor, nor have police union leaders who have made the
incendiary and, frankly, bizarre claim that this mayor is somehow pro-
murder because he supports some policing reforms.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

Today, the mayor was back in front of a large police crowd for an NYPD
graduation. The cadets were, primarily and mostly respectful but there
were some boos and a handful of turnbacks out in the audience.

Yesterday, NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton, --

(END VIDEO CLIP)

-- who`s held this post under both Mayor Giuliani and the current
mayor and the current mayor, said that officers` funeral protests were
simply out of bounds.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FORMER MAYOR RUDY GIULIANI, NEW YORK CITY: He is the mayor of New
York. He was there representing the citizens of New York to express their
remorse and their grief at that death.

And it`s -- it wasn`t appropriate. And, at the same time, it`s
reflective, unfortunately, of the feelings of some our officers that -- at
this juncture.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: Now, with over 30,000 officers, the NYPD is the largest
police force in the country. There are, certainly, officers with a wide
range of feelings and views.

But after questionable incidents of excessive police force in
Ferguson, in Cleveland, in New Mexico and Staten Island, and after a
spotlight on a grand jury system that often treats allegations of crimes
within the police force very differently than all other allegations, we
should be wary of those who want to derail this debate.

We should be wary of those who claim there`s only a pro and anti-
police position. And we should be wary of the, frankly, dangerous
suggestion that the police are, somehow, above oversight or exempt from the
laws they enforce.

That is why these protests from uniformed officers are so troubling.
They blur the line between the officers` duty to act as the arm of the
government on the job, and their freedom to express their political views
off-the-job.

Finally, it is worth remembering that all these tensions spanned by
some police and some politicians and some in the media -- these tensions
are rising at the very time that crime itself is falling.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

Murders and shootings fell by about 20 percent in New York last year.
And in a city of 8.4 million, the 333 murders last year was the lowest
number in about 50 years.

That`s back when the reliable statistics we had were first collected.
And while police officers do face very real threats every day, no doubt, it
is also worth seeing that overall killings of police officers are down.

The FBI counts 27 such killings as the result of felonies across the
U.S. last year.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

Joining me now, two men who know a lot about the NYPD, Lou Colasuonno,
a former editor-in-chief of the "New York Post" and the "New York Daily
News," and Marq Claxton, who served in the NYPD for 20 years before
retiring as a detective. He is currently the Director of the Black Law
Enforcement Alliance.

Good evening to you both.

LOU COLASUONNO, DIRECTOR, FTI STRATEGIC COMMUNICATIONS: Good to be
here, Ari.

MARK CLAXTON, FORMER NYPD DETECTIVE (RET.): Good evening.

MELBER: Mark, let me start with you. Do you have any explanation why
we`re seeing this kind of police-civilian tension in New York and some
other cities, even as we know the statistics show crime falling.

CLAXTON: Well, you know, I think there`s a backdrop that has been
minimally covered. There`s a backdrop to some of the rhetoric that`s been
involved by the labor unions.

And that is the ongoing, very tense contract negotiations, as well as
a PBA Union election that`s upcoming.

So, if you add in all the focus and attention on a national level as a
result of Ferguson and Eric Garner, et cetera, and have those other things
in the backdrop, then you end up with this kind of powder keg environment
but I have to remind people --

MELBER: Marq, do you think -- I have to ask you -- do you think
though that the police union leaders then in New York are being tougher or
more incendiary than they would otherwise be because of the contract
negotiations, an issue separate from the policing policy questions?

CLAXTON: I think absolutely. I think if you combine the national
tension but, more specifically, locally in New York, the contract
negotiations or the failure they see in negotiations, I think that really
has spurred on this really venomous type of rhetoric and attack. Yes, I
do.

MELBER: And, Lou, you`ve been covering New York and these kind of
tensions in periods when crime was

And, yet, this is bad. It`s bad here.

COLASUONNO: Well, I think that there are a couple of -- a couple of
issues. Marq said that, you know, part of it is it`s a contract issue.

But, really, he`s shown this for a long, long time. He has a tendency
for a lot of high, high, loud rhetoric to raise up his union constituents.
So, I`m not sure that it`s a contract on this particular issue.

But the city is now a very different city than it was then.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

And we`ve had some -- the bad, old days, if you will. And during the
Dickinson administration, we had some terrible racial moments that really
divided this city.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

And if you look at the police force, it`s a different city now. In
1992, it was about 11 1/2 percent black in the New York City Police Force,
I think, when Dinkins was elected.

It`s now about 28 percent, I believe, which is higher than the actual
--

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

-- black population in New York. So, it`s a more diverse force now.
And I think that, in the long run, that`s going to help maybe to diffuse
some of this. I really do.

I think having black officers on the force changed the dynamic to a
significant extent.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: And let me pick up on the point, because that`s something
that Commissioner Bratton who, again, was under Giuliani and, now, is under
de Blasio, talked about at the funeral.

Marq, I want to play for you to get your response to some of what he
said on Saturday at Officer Ramos` funeral.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WILLIAM BRATTON, NYPD COMMISSIONER: Maybe it`s because we`ve all come
to see only what we represent instead of who we are.

We don`t see each other -- the police, the people who are angry at the
police, the people who support us but want us to be better, even a mad man
who assassinated two men because all he could see was two uniforms even
though they were so much more.

We don`t see eve other.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: Marq, how does that compare to your experience and,
particularly, the idea that police should be open to supporters who still
want some changes.

CLAXTON: Well, I think Commissioner Bratton was wise to point out
that we don`t -- we tend not to see each other or reject the differences in
each other, even the differences of opinion.

And that really gets into -- in the way of --

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

-- moving, policing, law enforcement, and the issues of justice
forward. So, it`s a key component -- is getting to see and appreciating
the individuality and also respecting, you know, the ideas and the beliefs
of each other.

I think it`s important. You cannot dismiss the concerns of entire
communities for prolonged periods of time.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

And I do want to point out that these issues -- many of these
racially-involved issues are nothing new. They have a historical presence
and that, oftentimes, has caused the friction between the police and the
community.

MELBER: They`re not new, Lou, and yet, the cell phone technology and
the social media has led to a reconsideration. We have some people in the
community saying, "Yes, I knew about this. This is the whole problem. We
don`t get a fair shake in the grand jury."

But other folks were able to look at these videos themselves with
their own eyes.

COLASUONNO: Yes, I think there`s a big difference between Ferguson
and Staten Island. And that video, certainly, was a big difference.

And a lot of reasonable people looked at that video and said, "I
didn`t see someone resisting arrest. I saw a chokehold," which has been
outlawed in the force for more than 20 years.

So, I think that, for Ferguson, there are a lot of questions -- for
shots fired in the car. That really -- that`s very different.

But, I think this type of -- this type of incendiary rhetoric is
defined by the era we`re in. We have no middle ground --

MELBER: Uh-hmm.

COLASUONNO: -- in politics or any other debates that we have.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

So, you go from zero to DEFCON 5 in one second. So, if I say that,
"Gee, I have a question with that one person`s behavior in that group.
That one officer, I think, might have done something wrong."

All of a sudden, I become anti-cop, against the cop. And it becomes a
-- and that is, I think, a microcosm of the society we live in today.

It destroys dialog. And it`s very difficult to move forward when --

MELBER: And, you know, Commissioner Bratton said something a lot of
people could relate to when he was pressed on whether de Blasio cared or
visited every injured officer.

And this is in "New York Magazine" interview that just came out. And
he said, "Cut the B.S.," that`s how I`ll say it on TV, and he and the mayor
have said the media has been a part of fanning these flames.

You know about that side of it as well. Do you agree with that.

COLASUONNO: Look -- yes, I mean I don`t want to blame the messenger.
I mean, I only get a proprium from anybody who`s listening and watching it,
including all my friends, by the way.

But we do. We`re sensational, sensationalistic. We are more now than
ever. And it used to be relegated to some tabloids, maybe where I once
lived.

But it`s across-the-board right now. And that is now an environment
to solve problems and to meet, find common ground, and solve these serious
issues that are going on in the streets of the cities, particularly in the
cities today, with a young man getting gunned down.

But it is not reflection of cops in general. And turning your backs
on the mayor, I think, the biggest problem with that for the police, is it
loses the middle ground.

Those of us who respect police, trust police --

MELBER: Right.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

COLASUONNO: -- those are the ones that become -- when you turn your
back on the mayor, I think that that denigrates their stand, the uniform.
And I think it hurts their standing in the community.

MELBER: Yes. And I think it confuses people who say, well, you`re on
the job, you`re working. And you have to --

(END VIDEO CLIP)

-- report up to civilian control. That matters. Lou Colasuonno and
Marq Claxton, thank you both for your expertise tonight.

CLAXTON: Thank you, Ari.

COLASUONNO: Thank you.

MELBER: Coming up, what the unorthodox release for "The Interview"
may mean for the future of Hollywood.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LIZZY CAPLAN, ACTRESS: The CIA would love it if you two could take
him out.

SETH ROGEN, ACTOR: Hmm?

CAPLAN: Take him out.

JAMES FRANCO, ACTOR: Take him out?

ROGEN: Like for drinks?

CAPLAN: No, no, no. Take him out.

FRANCO: Take out, like to dinner?

ROGEN: Take him out to a meal?

CAPLAN: Take him out.

ROGEN: From the town?

FRANCO: Party?

CAPLAN: No, uh, take him out.

ROGEN: You want us to assassinate the leader of North Korea?

CAPLAN: Yes.

FRANCO: What?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: What? It wasn`t easy, and it wasn`t normal but "The
Interview" did debut on Christmas Eve. Sony released the comedy featuring,
as you saw, Seth Rogen and James Franco.

After an extensive hack on the company, threats of violence and a wide
range of commentators advising the company on what to do, Rob Lowe said
claiming -- claimed, I should say, that Sony let the hackers win.

Michael Moore jokingly asked the hackers for a few romantic comedies
since they now run Hollywood. And even President Obama weighed in saying
Sony made that wrong decision initially.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

Well, now, the consumer verdict is in. After that unusual rollout,
the film did bring in $15 million online and almost $3 million more from
theaters.

"The Interview" cost a reported $44 million to make, plus promotion.
Domestic reviews --

(END VIDEO CLIP)

-- have been pretty split on the comedy. Some slammed it as a "half-
baked burlesque show about journalistic bottom feeders," while others
credited the film for "sparking an international response that shows life
reflecting art in a major way."

(END VIDEO CLIP)

Now, the film was leaked online in China, one of the only nations
allied with North Korea.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

And there, ignited a high 8.0 rating based on 10,000 online reviews.
But some Chinese are saying they hadn`t even seen the movie but they wanted
to register their support for any art that knocked the North Korean regime.

Well, joining me now is Dave Itzkoff, --

(END VIDEO CLIP)

-- culture reporter for "The New York Times." Good evening.

DAVE ITZKOFF, CULTURE REPORTER, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Thanks for having
me.

MELBER: You`ve been all over this and you interviewed Seth and James
about the movie earlier on. I want to read one question and answer. You
asked, "Would you have done anything differently in `The Interview` if you
knew --

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)


-- what would happen before its release." And Seth Rogen told you,
"That`s a tough question. I was thinking about that. And I honestly have
no idea."

I don`t know if that`s even true or a way of dodging. But explain to
us whether creatives and business executives will do something different
now having seen these results.

ITZKOFF: Sure. Well, I mean, this was a movie that was always
intended to be a kind of goofy comedy. It was not meant to have these
kinds of geopolitical ramifications that`s it had.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

But I think the impact it`s going to have on the creative community
and on the business community are going to be two very different things.

And we`re already seeing now other film projects that are getting
canceled because they have some kind of overlap with North Korea, or
they`re going to be set in North Korea.

Anybody who wants to make a movie that, in some way, knocks this
regime, is just not going to be able to go forward, at least not on a mass,
you know, a studio scale or Hollywood scale.

For the business side, it`s a very different thing.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

I think that this was a, sort of, a one-time scenario where, you know,
Sony had a product that, even President Obama was telling them, you know,
it should be released, you shouldn`t be, you know, interfering with the
rights of your own artists to express themselves.

And so, Sony got their act in gear, found ways to get it into
theaters, get it in front of people. Otherwise --

MELBER: But is it -- is it possible that this also serves as an off-
ramp for some certain type of project, that you have, at least, the off-
ramp of the online distribution, which is where the bulk of the money is
being made, which gets you out of some of the very real issues and
litigation threats around theaters, physical violence threats, insurance.
I mean, all the boring lawyer stuff --

ITZKOFF: Right.

MELBER: -- that actually was an issue here. Could this not be a one-
up, could this be a precedent for a way to do it.

ITZKOFF: I think we all want to know believe that this is possible,
that we could free ourselves from having to, you know, schlep out to a
shopping mall and spend $20 every time we want to see a movie.

But, I mean, Hollywood really does depend on those big theater chains
to get product in front of people on a mass scale. I think, with a movie
like this -- this is really a kind of a once-in-a-lifetime situation.

And it had this level of visibility to even -- you know, Karl Rove is
tweeting about doing his patriotic duty to watch "The Interview" over the
weekend.

That`s why it did even the $15 million that it did. To make a $44-
million movie then spend another $35 million promoting it, Sony still will
probably make its money back if I had to guess on, you know, between the
theatrical and online release.

It`s really a kind of a very singular scenario. And I think Hollywood
is definitely afraid of, you know, losing its business to the digital
marketplace.

MELBER: Right. And the diplomatic trauma has felt pretty singular.
Let me read one of the more recent statements from North Korea, saying that
--

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

-- "At the zealous prodding of the U.S. administration and wicked
conservative forces, Sony again buckled down to distributing the movie,
failing to guess the miserable fate to be faced by it in the future."

"U.S. President Obama is the chief culprit who forced the Sony
Pictures Entertainment Company to indiscriminately distribute the movie."

How wrong, I guess, is the question.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(LAUGHTER)

How wrong is North Korea`s understanding of the way this went down.

ITZKOFF: Well, I think that -- you know, of course, the way that
their entire country is run is completely different from ours. And that
it`s not only a dictatorship but it`s a personality cult.

If they`re afraid of, you know, James Franco and Seth Rogen, you
really have to wonder if they understand, --

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

-- you know, how politics work. These are two of the most, sort of
genial comedians that America can offer.

The movie itself is really more of a joke about their friendship and
when a third -- you know, a third wheel comes in between the two of them, a
third wheel who just happens to be the dictator --

(END VIDEO CLIP)

-- of North Korea, it`s not trying to make any larger points, I think,
about, you know, how that country should be run.

MELBER: Right. And James Franco fans will note he will do literally
any project on any medium, --

(LAUGHTER)

-- for any reason, pro or anti.

ITZKOFF: He`s got a pretty busy schedule. I don`t know how he finds
the time to, you know, to make one theatrical release a year.

MELBER: Well, you`ve got some vision after spending some time with
both of them.

ITZKOFF: Right.

MELBER: So, David Itzkoff, thanks for spending time with us as well.

ITZKOFF: It is my pleasure. Thanks a lot.

MELBER: Appreciate it. And, coming, up, we will have the latest on
the search for the missing AirAsia plane. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

We have an update on that "Breaking News" from earlier in the hour
about the reported upcoming resignation of Republican Congressman Michael
Grimm.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

The "Washington Post`s" Robert Costa had joined us by phone to say
that sources were telling him, breaking tonight, that Grimm was calling
Speaker Boehner today and telling him he would resign after pleading guilty
to that felony tax evasion, which happened last week.

Now, we can now tell you, NBC News has also confirmed that reporting,
originally from the "Washington Post" and the "New York Daily News,"
Congressman Michael Grimm will resign his seat and, thus, New York Governor
Andrew Cuomo would then call a special election to fill it.

Now, up next, we have some new news --

(END VIDEO CLIP)

-- just in from Indonesia on the search for the missing Air Asia
flight.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

It is now nearly noon in Singapore as rescue crews continue their
search for missing AirAsia flight 8501 today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

Now, a few minutes ago, Indonesia`s National Search and Rescue Agency
reported, the two emergency signals that were picked up were not, I repeat,
not from that missing AirAsia flight.

Joining me now is Alan Diehl, a former NTSB investigator and FAA
official and author of "Air Safety Investigators." Alan, we`re here --

(END VIDEO CLIP)

-- into Day Three of the Search and Rescue Mission. What would go on
at this point in the rescue process. What are they hoping to learn at this
point.

ALAN DIEHL, SAFETY EXPERT: Well, obviously, they`re searching for
debris. The floating debris may well be the, if you will, the breadcrumbs
that lead us back to the submerged wreckage and, therefore, to the pingers
and black boxes.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

But, obviously, whatever these signals were that were detected today
turned out to be not part of the aircraft.

MELBER: And as we get several days away from the original incident, -
-

(END VIDEO CLIP)

-- what more can they ascertain about the role of weather in this
crash.

DIEHL: Well, obviously, they`ve looked, Ari, --

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

-- they`ve looked very carefully at what, they think, the aircraft was
experiencing. But until they get those recorders, those recorders have
many, many channels.

The flight data recorder, for example, have the outside air
temperature. Obviously, they`ll have all the accelerations. And they`ll
know exactly what the aircraft was experiencing.

But recorders, Ari, are normally the key to solving any of these
mysteries. And, of course, that`s what happened in the 2009 Air France
Airbus crash in the South Atlantic.

MELBER: And, now, on the other big item that we`ve been reporting on
today here, again, several days in, is that --

(END VIDEO CLIP)

-- this evening, U.S. time, the U.S. did announce that it`s going to
help and it`s going to send this ship out there. Do you view that, at this
point, as somewhat symbolic.

I don`t mean to belittle it. But what difference does that one ship
make and what does it matter that the U.S. is trying to help now that it`s
been diplomatically requested.

DIEHL: Well, I think many nations in that region have offered even
more extensive resources. I`m glad to see the U.S. offer that. I was very
critical of the --

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

-- our lack of effort in the Malaysia 370. I think we should dispatch
a fleet of the Maritime Patrol airplanes to listen for sonar signals when
the pinger batteries are operating.

I think it`s probably more symbolic.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

But, you know, Ari, the thing that convinces me they`re going to find
this debris is all the commercial traffic -- commercial vessel traffic
that`s out in those waters.

I`m sure they sent out notices to mariners to be on the lookout and,
hopefully, the commercial fishermen, the freighters, et cetera, operating
in that sea lane, will be looking for debris.

And they may come up with a find before the government resources are
able to locate it. Because there`s many more commercial vessels out there
than there are government vessels, I`m sure.

MELBER: All right, Alan Diehl. Thank you so much for joining me on
this story.

I am Ari Melber, in for Lawrence O`Donnell. You can always reach me
if you want at ari@MSNBC.com. That is my e-mail.

Lawrence will be back tomorrow. "LOCKUP" is next. And, first, here
are the headlines.

END

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