PoliticsNation, Tuesday, December 30th, 2014
Read the transcript from the Tuesday show
Show: POLITICS NATION
Date: December 30, 2014
Guest: Michelle Cottle; Jason Johnson; Jim Tilmon, Ryan Grim, Greg Meeks,
Angela Rye, John Burns, Zerlina Maxwell
REVEREND AL SHARPTON, MSNBC ANCHOR: Good evening, Ed. And thanks to you
for tuning in.
Tonight`s lead, Speaker Boehner is standing by a powerful house Republican
who spoke at a white supremacist convention in 2002.
Today, Louisiana congressman, Steve Scalise, the third ranking Republican
in the House, confirmed that he spoke before the European American unity
and rights group back in 2002 as a state lawmaker. The group, known as
Euro, was founded by one-time Ku Klax Klan leader David Duke.
In a statement today, Scalise said, quote, "it was a mistake. I regret and
I emphatically oppose the divisive racial and religious views groups like
And Speaker Boehner said, quote, "Representative Scalise made an error in
judgment and he was right to acknowledge it was wrong and inappropriate.
He has full confidence as our whip."
But today, many questions remain unanswered. Scalise said he didn`t know
about the group when he spoke at the event. David Duke`s long-time
political adviser said he was the one who invited Scalise to the event, but
that Scalise did know about euro`s philosophy.
Quote, "he was my neighbor. I don`t think Scalise knew anything about
Euro. Steve was someone who I exchanged ideas with on politics. We
wouldn`t talk about race or the Jewish question."
But David Duke himself today said, quote, "it would seem likely he did
know. But that doesn`t mean that he did. And if he had known, I can
understand why his memory would fail him a little bit. It would seem to me
that he would have realized that it was our group. But I can`t swear to
Either way, there are serious new questions about a congressman who just
weeks ago was about boasting about diversity with the new GOP.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. STEVE SCALISE (R), LOUISIANA: If you look at this new class,
especially, such a great new diverse group of members with great
backgrounds too. And they`re going to come and I think give us a really
strong boost in the new congress.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: Joining me now are Jason Johnson and Michelle Cottle. Thank you
both for being here.
MICHELLE COTTLE, WASHINGTON REPORTER, THE DAILY BEAST, NEWSWEEK: Thanks,
JASON JOHNSON, POLITICAL SCIENCE PROFESSOR: Glad to be here, Rev.
SHARPTON: Jason, there`s still so much we don`t know about this story.
Why do you think Speaker Boehner is standing by Scalise today?
JOHNSON: Because the Republicans don`t care. Because they can say bad
things about women, they can say bad things about gays, they can say bad
things about black people, and they keep winning Congress. So they have no
electoral consequences for supporting people with this kind of behavior.
It`s clear Steve Scalise is lying. He knew where he was. He`s not fooling
anybody. But the Republican won`t suffer any consequences for it, so
Boehner will have his back and they`ll still give Obama a lot of trouble in
the next two years.
SHARPTON: Now, be clear, Michelle, we`re not talking about all
Republicans. We are talking about one buy. But he is the third top
ranking guy in Congress. And many people make mistakes. All of us have
said things we didn`t do. But we talk about a pattern here that`s a little
more when we thought when we first heard this from a blogger yesterday.
For example, 1999, a newspaper talked about then state lawmaker Steve
Scalise about David Duke possibly running for Congress. Quote, "state
representative Steve Scalise said he embraces many of the same conservative
views as Duke, but is far more viable." Scalise said, quote, "Duke has
proven that he can`t get elected and that`s the first and most important
And that same year, Michelle, Scalise was one of just three Louisiana
lawmakers to vote against making Martin Luther King Day a state holiday in
Louisiana. He voted against it again in 2004. So does Scalise need to
provide a fuller explanation for his past, including voting against state
holiday for Martin Luther King, including he didn`t attack David Duke`s
apparent racism, but that he just said, I`m a more viable candidate than
him, he can`t win, I can win? I mean, this starts to build up a little
COTTLE: I am certain that the Democrats are going to come at him and want
to have a little bit more explanation. I think what`s going to save him
is, we are talking about events that happened 12, 13, 14 years ago. And
you know, to be honest, Louisiana back then, that`s not so far away from
when David Duke was a Republican candidate for state-wide office.
COTTLE: I mean, this is a state where race was a very tricky issue, and
you had to kind of play in those dangerous waters. And I think probably
what the congressman would say is that he has matured since then. And I
think that that`s probably kind of what the party line is going to be.
That he learned his lesson or whatever.
SHARPTON: Jason, isn`t that more acceptable to say I`ve matured, than to
say, I didn`t know where I was going?
JOHNSON: Yes. The problem with this for me is that he`s lying. Look,
David Duke got half of the white vote in Louisiana when he ran. You can`t
run as a Republican in the state of Louisiana -- ask Mary Landrieu --
unless you can appeal to a certain segment of the population that happens
to be racist. And I`m tired of these Republican candidates coming up
saying I didn`t know, I didn`t know. It`s like the guy who gets caught
coming out of the strip club, saying, oh, I thought it was the DMV. We
know where you were. Just be honest about it and move forward. And that`s
the real problem here. He knew what he was doing.
SHARPTON: Now Michelle, David Duke told "the Washington Post" that his
political adviser was friendly with Scalise. Quote, "Scalise would
communicate a lot with my campaign manager, Kenny Knight, that is why he
was invited and why he would come."
Kenny knew Scalise, Scalise knew Kenny. They were friendly. At the very
least, does this raise questions about Scalise`s judgment, that he was
friends with a white supremacist?
COTTLE: I think this probably should just remind people of what politics
in Louisiana were like, you know, as recently as then. I mean, David Duke
was actually fairly prominent in the party for longer than a lot of people
remember. You know, he had party chairmanship issues, you know, like in
county seats and stuff like that. So you know, you had to kind of be aware
of who he was, and you had to handle him carefully if you were a state
politician back then in the Republican party.
SHARPTON: No I did that, Jason, and that`s the reality of politics. But
then do you then make this person the third highest ranking member of your
party in the Congress and say you`re trying to reach out and you have an
autopsy done and the chair of the party and say, now we want to be more
diverse and you roll him out to talk about with diversity?
I mean, fine, people have their past. But you can`t use him if you`re
trying to reach out and if he`s not even going to say, yes, I`ve made
mistakes and I`ve grown. I didn`t know where I was.
JOHNSON: Well, yes. Rev., you`re exactly right. This shows how
disingenuous the Republican Party is about this issue. And I will be
honest, you know, part also the reason why Boehner probably doesn`t want to
go after Scalise is because this happens all the time. We had Trent lot.
We just had Rick Perry who had a ranch called (INAUDIBLE) for 30 years and
no one saw it.
Boehner doesn`t want to go after him because he realizes you have a lot of
other Republicans with the bad background. And until they clean up this
issue, until the Republican Party says we are going to purge open racists
and bigots, they`ll never win another national election. They can keep
winning Congress, but you can`t win over the country if you keep faltering
it and pandering the bigots.
SHARPTON: And I think, Michelle, again, we`re talking about one person
here. We are talking about some of the party leadership, not all
Republicans. But if Republicans are going to win an election, they`re
going to have to break out of the boundaries that they`re in, in terms of
the demographics. And how do you reach out without being transparent, open
about who you`re dealing with, and having leadership that has the capacity
of delivering that message?
COTTLE: Well, this does put Scalise in a particularly tricky situation. I
mean, the party is desperate to overcome its image as a bunch of cranky old
white guys. And he is going to have to be careful. I mean, maybe we`ll
luck out and he decides he has to try extra hard and they`ll work on, you
know, kind of overcoming these issues. But yes, no question this puts a
crimp in their current rebranding plan.
SHARPTON: You know, Jason, does Scalise need to hold a press conference
and take on questions and end it once and for all? I mean, put it all out
there, deal with it, and admit if he made some errors in judgment and go
on. I mean, does he need to stand up, rather than hide behind Boehner and
text statements or written statements?
JOHNSON: I mean he could show up with Will Hurd (ph), Neil Love (ph), And
Sandra Richmond (ph). He can sing Kumbaya. He can sit down and do a
Donald Sterling-type interview if he wants to. But the damage has been
done. Because no matter what he says and no matter what policies he tries
to promote once he is in his leadership position in the new Congress, the
public still sees this as the Republicans not being able to police their
Then public still sees it as Republican Party that on the one hand says, we
want diversity, but we don`t want the ideology that goes along with that
diversity. So I don`t think he can fix this problem. And I don`t think
he`s going to step down from his position.
SHARPTON: I think also, Michelle, the issue here is not just race. And
clearly that is the basis of it, but its transparency and honest. Because
as you said it`s a time ago, if he was honest and dealt with it, it may be
different. But when people feel like you`ve done things that I don`t like
or that I`m uncomfortable with and now you`re also going to try to mislead
me, I think that`s an underlying issue that a lot of people are saying,
well, wait a minute now. You did know and you voted against King Day, you
did know and you disguise your friend. Now, it`s one thing for me to say,
look, that`s all in the past. It`s another for you to tell me today
something that I feel that you don`t respect my intelligence.
COTTLE: Look, in politics, we learn time and again, it`s not the sin, it`s
the cover-up. And yet people constantly do things that then they don`t
come clean about, until somebody catches them. And then they have to kind
of hem and haul or back pedal or whatever. It`s just always been that
SHARPTON: Jason Johnson, Michelle Cottle, thank you both for your time
tonight and Happy New Year.
JOHNSON: Thanks, Reverend.
COTTLE: Thanks. Happy New Year.
SHARPTON: Coming up, new questions tonight about the wreckage of AirAsia
and the flight 8501. Why aren`t there life vests on the bodies being
found? Plus, Republican recovery, you won`t believe how the right is
trying to take credit for the millions of jobs created under President
Also, why is an airline suing a 22-year-old kid over a Web site that helps
you find cheaper tickets?
And the White House photos of the year. What`s your favorite? It`s all
ahead in "conversation nation."
SHARPTON: Breaking news. Investigators are widening their search for the
main wreckage of AirAsia flight 8501. And tonight, some big questions, why
aren`t the bodies wearing life vests? And can searchers find the black box
before more bad weather moves in? That`s next.
SHARPTON: Breaking news. Investigators are ramping up the search for the
main wreckage from the missing AirAsia jet. This after searchers recovered
six bodies and the various pieces of debris from the northern Java sea
The U.S. military is sending help to assist in the search effort. Already
the USS Sampson is in the recently and two more Navy ships, plus two dive
teams are expected to join as well. But in the meantime, the family of
those who lost loved ones continue to look for answers.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TONY FERNANDES, CEO, AIRASIA: Until we have the investigation, we cannot
make any assumptions as to what went wrong. All I can say is that the
weather in Southeast Asia is bad at the moment.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: Searchers are in a race against time as more bad weather is
expected to move into the region throughout the weekend.
Joining me now is Jim Tilmon an aviation expert and former American
Jim, now that they found the debris, what are investigators looking for
JIM TILMON, AVIATION EXPERT: Well, there are all kinds of clues. Of
course we know about the black boxes giving us a tremendous amount of
information. But then, there is a lot more to the wreckage itself will
tell a story. IT will be able to, if you can recover enough from it to
literally reassemble the airplane to a certain extent, and find out,
really, what it looks like in terms of where the problem started and where
they ended and what we end up with. So there`s information with every
little piece of material that they`re able to recover from that sea.
SHARPTON: Now, Jim, reports say the bodies that were found were not
wearing life vests. Does that tell us anything about the crash?
TILMON: It may tell us whatever happened, happened very quickly and with a
catastrophic result. I don`t think anybody had enough notice or time or
anything else to get those passengers all equipped with their life vests
on. I even wonder what it would have been like for flight attendants going
up and down the aisle, trying to instruct people how to do that sort of
thing in very, very to severe turbulence. So, no, I don`t think they had a
chance to do that.
SHARPTON: Now, does finding the debris mean they`re close to the larger
wreckage of the plane?
TILMON: Yes, it does. And it`s a matter now of mapping that whole ocean
floor that`s involved here to determine what is wear, and did come up with
some explanations about why it is where it is.
Lots of impact from the ocean itself in terms of the currents and the wind.
And then, of course, the debris itself, the pattern that was set up. The
really heavy stuff is not going to be affected as much by the wind or the
SHARPTON: Now, this type of plane, an A-320 airbus, it has very good
safety record, 0.14 fatal accidents per one million takeoffs. Does that
give us any indication of what likely caused this crash?
TILMON: No, I think the design certainly should not be in question here.
I mean, you know, the airplane has proven itself over and over and over
again, every single day it`s been in operation. So I don`t think the
airplane is really where we want to go to find a clue to what happened
here. I think we want to think in terms of the crew response to a very,
very difficult situation. Maybe it was a response that the best anybody
SHARPTON: The pilot apparently requested permission, talking about the
crew, he had requested permission to change altitude to avoid storms, but
was denied. What kind of issues could thunderstorms pose to a plane?
TILMON: Well, some severe issues. I mean, I`ve been in very, very heavy
turbulence before. And I got to tell you, to a certain extent, the only
thing you`re doing as a pilot, as you`re holding on, keeping the wings
level. There`s not a lot more you can really do. You can`t control the
climb or the descent, because that`s what the wind currents are doing.
You got currents inside those storms, moving over 100 miles per hour, some
down, some up. As you move from one to the next, you can end up with a
sheering situation that can really be disruptive and very, very
SHARPTON: And you`re dealing with thunderstorms there and then turbulence
also backing that up, which only further complicates matters and makes it
even more dangerous.
TILMON: And I got to tell you about this business of altitude change.
I`ve had some questions in my mind as to whether or not the crew really was
asking for 38,000 feet, when actually the airplane was being pushed up,
rather than just being at the assigned altitude of 32,000. They may not
have had any choice. They may have been just all but saying to the air
traffic controller, I`m going up, how about giving me clearance for 38 so
I`ll at least be legal.
SHARPTON: Captain Jim Tilmon, thank you for your time tonight.
TILMON: Thank you, Reverend.
SHARPTON: Still ahead, who should get credit for the millions of jobs
created over the last six years? The facts said President Obama, but some
right-wingers have other ideas.
But first, Jeb Bush tries to run away from Obamacare, but instead falls
right into tonight`s Got You.
SHARPTON: Jeb Bush is starting to get serious about running for president,
so he`s doing a political check-up on all his business dealings ahead of a
potential 2016 campaign. He`s cut ties with a big bank, Barclays. And
he`s leaving the board of a real estate and timber firm too.
But one move by Jeb really caught my eye. He`s stepping down from the
board of Tenet Healthcare, it`s a company that`s been booming ever since --
drum roll, please -- you guessed it, you guessed it, since Obamacare.
Tenet has saved millions. And their stock has more than doubled since the
affordable care act passed.
We know Obamacare is helping millions of people, and now we know one of
them was Jeb Bush. He made nearly $300,000 last year as a tenet board
member. A big pay day for Mr. Bush, thanks to a company that`s booming
under the same health care law that he`s been bashing.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JEB BUSH (R), FORMER FLORIDA GOVERNOR: The best way to repeal Obamacare
is to have an alternative. We never hear the alternative. Show how
Obamacare, flawed to its core, doesn`t work.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: It sure seemed to work for Mr. Bush`s bank account, though.
Perhaps it didn`t work in a GOP primary debate.
Did the governor think we wouldn`t notice his sudden allergy to the
affordable care act? Nice try, but here`s a diagnosis from Dr. Sharpton,
we Got You.
SHARPTON: 2014 was President Obama`s sixth year in office. The year
where he faced some of the biggest challenges of his presidency. But it`s
also the year where he realized some of his greatest achievements. Here`s
what he was up against. Confronting the terrorist group ISIS and
establishing a solution to fight them. Staving off the global health
threat of Ebola. And facing the crisis of thousands of unaccompanied
minors crossing our southern border. He was dealing with all those
problems, but 2014 was much more than that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PRES. BARACK OBAMA (D), UNITED STATES: In last year`s final press
conference, I said that 2014 would be a year of action, and would be a
breakthrough year for America. And it has been.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: In the breakthrough year, the President`s health care law
helped ten million more Americans get insurance. His executive action on
immigration, protected up to five million people from deportation. The
economy`s roaring back with the Dow closing today at nearly 18000 points.
Up more than a thousand from last year. The unemployment rate is less than
six percent, its lowest level since before the Bush recession, and a gallon
of gas now costs around $2.27. It`s a big drop and making a real impact on
families` budgets. These numbers don`t lie. And the President isn`t done.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: My presidency is entering the fourth quarter. Interesting
stuff happens in the fourth quarter. And I`m looking forward to it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: It`s the fourth quarter and the President`s got a whole lot
planned for 2015. Joining me now is Ryan Grim, Washington bureau chief for
the Huffington Post. And Congressman Greg Meeks, democrat of New York.
Thank you both for being here.
RYAN GRIM, THE HUFFINGTON POST: Good being with you.
REP. GREGORY MEEKS (D), NEW YORK: Thank you, Reverend.
SHARPTON: Congressman, despite headlines about Ebola and ISIS, this
year, this was a year of real achievements really for the President. Am I
MEEKS: Yes. Absolutely right. And the President, you know, has been
on point, cool, calm, and collected, meaning what he says. And when you
check out his pre-election statements, you`ll see that he is living up to
the promises. When you talk about health care, it`s done. When you talk
about ending the war in Iraq and Afghanistan why this came back, he`s doing
that. When you talk about the improving economy, it`s there. And what`s
funny, Reverend, is that all of a sudden when republicans were talking
before about nothing happening with the economy, now I see Grover Norquist
admitting that the economy is turning around, but they`re trying to take
credit for it. That`s laughable.
SHARPTON: Now, here`s Ryan on that point. Here`s a funny headline.
It`s not the Obama recovery, Grover Norquist says, it`s the GOP recovery.
That`s right, "The New York Times" says, anti-tax crusader Grover Norquist
may well have heralded a republican shift on the economy. He credited the
budding revival to the party`s austerity push. He wants republicans to
take credit for the improving economy. I mean, what`s next, Ryan? Taking
credit for ObamaCare?
GRIM: I mean, you know, the stimulus in early 2009 is, you know, what
really stemmed the bleeding and started the turnaround. And at the time,
yourself and a lot of others were saying, look, it ought to even be bigger.
GRIM: Grover Norquist was not one of those people who was saying we
need more stimulus. They started calling it the job-killing stimulus
SHARPTON: Right. And it wanted austerity plans.
GRIM: Right. Then they started calling it job-killing ObamaCare. So
we got the job-killing stimulus, we got job-killing ObamaCare, now the
economy is starting to rebound and all of a sudden they want credit for it.
Now, I think a lot of republicans aren`t going to go along with him because
they`re on the record so many times as saying that all of these
regulations, ObamaCare, et cetera, all of these things are going to crush
the economy. So it`s much more difficult for them to make that pivot.
That doesn`t mean some of them won`t try, though.
SHARPTON: You know, Congressman, we need to keep in mind, while the
President was dealing with immigration reform and get millions of people
insurance, I need to remind everyone what the House republicans were
focused on. Watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Are you planning to initiate a lawsuit against the
Obama administration and President Obama over his use of executive actions?
REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R), OHIO: I am. So the House I`m sure at some
point next year will move to repeal ObamaCare. We`re determined to get to
the truth regarding the terrorist attack in our mission in Benghazi, Libya.
I believe that the path we`re going down is the correct one.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: I mean, repealing ObamaCare, reinvestigating Benghazi,
suing the President. I mean, it`s kind of funny things to be focused on
Congressman while we`re dealing with all these critical issues.
MEEKS: Could you imagine how far we would be if the republicans just
would have worked with the President? Supposing we`d have passed the
infrastructure bill, supposing we didn`t have sequestration where we had to
lose thousands of jobs on the public sector. Our unemployment rate would
be down below or right around five percent or below. More people would be
working and we would be even better off than we are now. The President has
done this despite the republicans being obstructionists and focusing on
issues of all of which are nothing. Benghazi. Their own report came out
to show that the President did not hide anything, there was nothing done
there. And so if they would just -- so the verdict is out on them now. If
they really want to help America, the next two years, they should work with
President Obama and we`ll get that much further.
SHARPTON: Well, they`re in the majority. Do they have a
responsibility to govern? They`re in the majority of the House and the
MEEKS: They absolutely do. This is, you know, not a time, before
they talk about is rhetoric, and they`re trying to make up things. But
now, they have to deliver. And the question is, will they deliver? The
only way they can deliver is working with the President. That`s what has
to happen here.
SHARPTON: Ryan, the President made a big push this year to raise the
minimum wage. And on Thursday, workers in 20 states will see an increase
in the minimum wage. President Bush signed the minimum wage hike. Will
democrats keep the pressure on this issue next year?
GRIM: They will. And, you know, the way that politics works
nowadays. Even if something is dead in Washington, and we can be pretty
certain that Mitch McConnell and John Boehner aren`t going to help raise
the minimum wage, that doesn`t mean it doesn`t move on the local level.
And even if it doesn`t move at the state level, it can move at the city or
the town level. And like you said, on January 1st, in 20 states, they`re
going to be people that are getting a raise. More than 1,000 stores,
Walmart stores across the country, they`re having to adjust their pay
schedule, so they can boost the wages of some of their workers. So we`re
seeing, you know, real people`s lives made better by the pressure that`s
being put on here, even if nothing is happening in Washington.
SHARPTON: You`re a member of Congress and a senior member now.
You`ve been there a while. I remember when you went in. And the pressure
and the movements around minimum wage, around immigration, around policing,
does that register even in a republican Congress? You`re there every day.
MEEKS: I think it has to. You know, when you think about middle
class and poor people wanting to get into the middle class, minimum wage
doesn`t have color on it. It helps families. And that`s what the American
people need. We had this wage disparity. It`s not only in communities of
color, it`s throughout the country.
MEEKS: And so when you talk about issues that`s going to affect
families, and that`s what minimum wage does. When you talk about bringing
communities together, making sure that police and communities work
together, that makes for a more peaceful neighborhood. So those things
resonate with everybody across the country.
SHARPTON: Ryan Grim, Congressman Greg Meeks, thank you both for your
time tonight and happy New Year to both of you.
MEEKS: Happy New Year to you, Rev.
SHARPTON: Still ahead, Speaker Boehner`s statement on a republican
who spoke at a white supremacist event. What happens, next?
Also, airlines sue a website that finds cheap flights, and they say
they are being untreated unfairly about airfare.
Plus, the best moments of the year from the White House photographer.
It`s all ahead in "Conversation Nation."
SHARPTON: Time now for "Conversation Nation." Joining me tonight are
political strategist Angela Rye, legal analyst John Burns, and The Grio`s
Let`s go right to our first topic, Speaker Boehner`s leadership. The
speaker was reportedly pivotal in forcing out GOP Congressman Michael
Grimm, who`s resigning after pleading guilty to a felony, and after making
this notorious threat to a journalist.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: No, no. You`re not man enough. You`re not man
enough. I`ll break you in half like a boy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: But today Speaker Boehner is standing by republican
Congressman Steve Scalise, even though Scalise admits he spoke to a white
supremacist group in 2002. Angela, are you surprised the speaker is
standing by Congressman Scalise today?
ANGELA RYE, POLITICAL STRATEGIST: I`m not. Actually republican
member and new whip Steve Scalise has actually also received support from
the Louisiana delegation, so it doesn`t surprise me at all. And similarly,
when Nancy Pelosi took over as speaker in 2007, you had a similar situation
where she came out really hard against ethics and any types of ethical
issues. So it`s also not surprising that he stood by or stood against and
encouraged Michael Grimm to step down.
SHARPTON: And when Angela says that he stood -- that he got the
support of the whole Louisiana delegation, that includes Cedric Richmond
who is an African-American, well respected.
JOHN BURNS, LEGAL ANALYST: That does. Rev, I think you`re directly
on point there. And I think it`s disingenuous for the speaker to come down
and say that this gentleman simply made a mistake. Rev, you know, you
speak all of the country and I speak from time to time. And the first
thing that you do is, you ask who you`re speaking to, just even to tailor
your points. So I think for them to come out and say that he had no idea
he was talking to a whole room of white nationalists is just unfounded.
ZERLINA MAXWELL, THE GRIO: Well, I think part of the thing that I`m
focusing on here, is that the problem for the Republican Party and this has
been since the beginning of this administration, but also all the way to
the present, it`s not that they end up having individual racist in their
party, it`s that they pander to racist voters. And so you have situations
where he ends up at a white supremacist conference because he`s trying to
reach out to that constituency. And that`s the problem that the Republican
Party has not properly dealt with.
SHARPTON: But Angela, and you know politics very well. One of the
top strategists now in the country, don`t you really hurt your announce
plans to broaden your base, reach out for more diversity after the autopsy?
Whether it was rhetorical or not, don`t you even lose the ability to say
that when you have this kind of situation?
RYE: Rev, I think you and I would both agree that they lost us at
autopsy. There`s not been anything genuine about their approach, their
outreach or anything else.
SHARPTON: No, but I`m asking a different question. Because I don`t
know that they were trying to get us, in quotes, I think maybe they were
trying to get independents to feel like they were trying to be more broad-
RYE: Sure. And by "us," I mean American people with sense.
RYE: I thought you meant progressives. We were never the targets.
You know, I think that the reality of the situation is it`s just another
case in point where they continue, to Zerlina`s point to, pander, to
outreach to folks who will tout their message regardless of if they should
be audiences that they should even be talking to. I think that`s the real
issue. When you have an autopsy report and you say you need to reach black
and Latinos and you need to reach gay folks and young folks, and you
continue to go not only to your base, but also to the fringe audiences that
continue to further divide this country, I think you only further
exacerbate the problem.
SHARPTON: Yes. All right. Let me move on. John, a young man being
sued for helping people find cheaper flights. United Airlines and Orbitz
are teaming up to try to shut down this 22-year-old`s travel website.
Here`s how it works. The site looks for cheaper flights with layovers in a
city you actually want to visit, then you just never get on the next
connecting flight. John, there`s nothing actually illegal with this. So
what`s the kid doing wrong?
BURNS: Well, the kid`s doing nothing wrong, Rev. I think you hit the
nail on the head. He`s doing nothing illegal, but he`s taking money away
from the airlines. We all know that the airlines uses really complex price
insurance I`m sure. So, what his website does, it circumvents that whole
pricing structure. And so, at the end of the day, it`s affecting the
airline monetarily. So, all the time in the courtroom, we see that this
big companies file lawsuits as more of intimidations. So, I don`t think
there`s any legal basis. I think it`s done just to prevent him from moving
forward with the website. So, I think it`s more an intimidation factor
than anything else.
SHARPTON: I mean, Zerlina, I travel a lot and believe me, I don`t
know who doesn`t try to look for cheaper airline tickets.
MAXWELL: Right. I mean, he deserves a medal, not to be sued.
I think that, you know, anybody who is looking for solutions to make
airline travel a little bit more bearable like I said deserves a medal.
And I think that certainly there are a number of problems particularly in
the last five years that are popping up. It`s more expensive to check your
bags. It`s more expensive for the actual flights. There are long delays.
You get to the door of the gate and they`re like, there`s no seat for you
on this flight. I mean, airline travel needs to be easier. And, you know,
any 22-year-old out there who wants to make it easier for us, I think he
deserves an award for that.
RYE: Yes. I think that number one, I applaud this gentleman and this
website, I thought I was the only hustler on the go that, you know, going
from Seattle to D.C., Rev. Atlanta is my hub for Delta. And I would often
stop there and see my god kids. So, I didn`t know there was a website for
this. I`m definitely behind the ball, but I do it all the time.
SHARPTON: Well, confession is good for the soul, Angela.
But I think that doesn`t this really risk, John, public sentiment
getting behind the kid, 22 years old, doing something that Angela says she
does all the time, that Zerlina says people want to see done. I mean, I
understand what you`re saying about intimidation, but couldn`t this
backfire on the airlines?
BURNS: Well, it definitely could. But you have to remember, Rev,
it`s so expensive to defend lawsuits. And we know that the young man is
trying to get crown, funding from different people. But I mean, typically
it costs millions of dollars to defend a lawsuit like this. And we know
Orbitz and United have tons of money. He might have public support, but in
terms of, you know, courtroom support to defend a lawsuit, that`s a
SHARPTON: Yes. And is there any airline more unpopular Zerlina, than
the airlines industry?
MAXWELL: I don`t think so. I mean, we had the neat offender earlier
this year and that made everybody focus on just the horrible experiences
that we all have while traveling. I mean, essentially airline travel is
being herded into an airplane like you`re cattle. And it`s really
unpleasant. So, I just think that, you know, the airline industry needs to
focus back on what their job is, which is to serve the consumer, and I
think that this young man is solving a necessary problem.
SHARPTON: I`m going to have to hold it there before they turn my show
off on all the airports around the country. Our panel is going to stay
with me. We`ll be right back with the year`s hottest political date for
New Year`s. And the best photos of 2014 from the Obama White House.
SHARPTON: We`re back with our panel, Angela, John, and Zerlina.
Tomorrow night, is there any politician who you`d want to ring in the New
Year with? Hillary Clinton topped a poll here in New York. Thirty seven
percent say she`d be their date of choice for New Year`s. Zerlina, which
politician would you want for your New Year`s date?
MAXWELL: Well, I actually want a little bit of a group date. And I
thought Hillary Clinton would be a fun politician, but also I would love to
just get some wine and then also get Senator Elizabeth Warren to join in,
sort to have a power duo feminist discussion to bring in 2015.
BURNS: You know, Rev, I`m a D.C. guy. So, I think I`m going to join
the first lady and the President and kind of cruise on down to the White
House. I`ve been to a few galas, and they`ve had a good time. So, I`d
like to ring in the New Year with them.
RYE: Well, Rev, since John stole my answer with the first lady,
although I still want her to help me pick my outfit. I will still pick the
new Congressional Black Caucus chair GK Butterfield, also known as dad
three for me.
SHARPTON: Yes. Well, Butterfield is a lot of fun. Well, I`ll be in
church. So unless somebody wants to go to church, I won`t get on that
SHARPTON: Finally, we just got a batch of the best photos of the year
from the Obama White House. Like this candid moment of the first couple
laughing together. And this shot from Easter. The President told a
photographer that it was the two most famous sets of years in Washington.
Here he is getting a check-up. I`m not sure the doctor went to medical
school. And here`s the President meeting with the koala cute. And helping
a one-year-old girl walk across the Oval Office. Angela, which photo did
you like best?
RYE: Well, I love the ones you just showed us, but I picked one that
was a little more serious and that was from the Ferguson, the day-long
meetings I know that you participated in, Rev. It was so important to see
the President step up in that way, so that`s my favorite moment.
BURNS: You know, Rev. I think it`s important to see when you see the
President get on in the community. And I remember there`s a picture of him
going to a local zeek shack in D.C. And it actually hit close to home
because my office is one block from there. And I was walking by the zeek
shack that day and I saw how engaged people were. And I think it`s really
important to see the President separate himself from the executive
SHARPTON: Why didn`t you go?
BURNS: Secret Service was blocking the door, Rev. I tried my best.
SHARPTON: All right. Zerlina?
MAXWELL: I think the perfect combination is the President plus small
children. Usually magic ensues. I also like the young little boy who was
face planting on the Oval Office couch. And I`m certain that a lot of the
staffers in the White House have had that feeling in the past and maybe
wanted to do a face plant of their own. So I thought that picture was
really, really funny.
SHARPTON: Yes. I thought so as well. There`s a lot of -- you know,
it`s funny when you look at these pictures and you think of the scenes that
people don`t see, and it tells you a lot about the human side of the
President and the first family. And I think sometimes people forget
they`re parents, they`re a married couple, they have feelings, they have
hopes and desires. And when they release these photos, I think it just
gives people more of a sense of, these are real people.
SHARPTON: Interesting. Well, let me also say that I want to wish all
of you a happy New Year, and I have enjoyed having all of you on the show.
RYE: Thank you, Rev.
SHARPTON: We`ll be right back with the biggest story of the year and
the reason to be optimistic about race relations in this country.
SHARPTON: Finally tonight, turning the biggest news story of the year
into positive change. The shooting death of Michael Brown Jr. in Ferguson,
Missouri, sparked more twitter mentions than anything this year, any other
story. A new report says the Ferguson grand jury decision and the Ferguson
shooting were the number one and two most tweeted stories in 2014. People
care about what`s happening in this country. And they want to talk about
it. In a recent NPR interview, President Obama said that conversation is
good for the country.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: I think that the fact that there`s a conversation about it,
and that there are tools out there that we know can make a difference in
bridging those gaps of understanding and mistrust, should make us
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: The President also said he thinks progress is coming in
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: And what`s been striking to me in the conversations we`ve had
is that their interest in solving a problem, as opposed to simply stewing
in the hopelessness of race relations in this country and I`m convinced
that we actually are going to see progress on this issue next year.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: And we will make progress but only if we`re willing to talk
about it. We can`t turn our backs on each other. We need to have this
conversation. And if each side approaches the other with respect and an
openness to problem solving, we can make real progress, and that would be
something big to celebrate in the New Year. We don`t need to limit the
conversation. We need to have the people in the room that have different
views, but understand we got to solve this. We`ve got to have justice for
everyone. Equal protection under the law and equal opportunity. Why do I
believe it? Reverend Al, you`re always out there protesting and you
believe it will be better? Yes. Because when I look at the protests and
see all races protest, but also, all races mourn the shooting and
despicable act of two policemen being shot, it makes me understand that
people are not locked in the lines of some of those of yesterday that want
to pick and choose who ought to be in the conversation and what ought to be
in the conversation. Real people having real talk will lead to real
change. And that`s what 2015 must be about.
Thanks for watching. I`m Al Sharpton. I`ll be back tomorrow with the
fourth annual Revvie Awards. You won`t want to miss it. "HARDBALL" starts
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