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PoliticsNation, Wednesday, March 25th, 2015

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Show: POLITICS NATION
Date: March 25, 2015
Guest: Anastasia Pittman, Jay A. Reed, Patrick Murphy, Stephen Karns,
Jason Johnson, Alyona Minkovski

ED SCHULTZ, MSNBC ANCHOR, THE ED SHOW: That`s THE ED SHOW, I`m Ed Schultz.
"PoliticsNation" with Revered Al Sharpton starts right now. Good evening,
Rev.

REV. AL SHARPTON, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Ed. And thanks for tuning in.

We begin tonight with breaking news. One of the Oklahoma students caught
on video singing a racist chant on a frat party bus making a very public
plea for forgiveness.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LEVI PETTIT, FORMER SAE FRATERNITY MEMBER: Let me start by saying that I
am sorry, deeply sorry. I am so sorry for all of the pain that I have
caused. I want you to know that directly from me. Although I don`t
deserve it. I want to ask for your forgiveness. There are no excuses for
my behavior. I never thought of myself a racist and never considered it a
possibility. But the bottom line is that the words that were said in that
chant were mean, hateful and racist. I will be deeply sorry and deeply
ashamed for what I`ve done for the rest of my life.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: That apology came after 20-year-old, Levi Pettit, sat down today
for a private meeting with African-American community leaders, politicians
and clergy. Earlier this month, the video of Pettit and others sent shock
waves across the country.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There will never be a n----- S-A-E. You can never hang
them from a tree, but they`ll never sign with me. There will never be a n-
----

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Since the video came out, Pettit and another frat member were
expelled from the University of Oklahoma. Their chapter of SAE fraternity
was also closed down. But today, an apology and a promise to do better.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PETTIT: I`m also upset and embarrassed that I failed to stand up as a
leader and stop this chat. I now have a clear understanding of what lives
behind the words. From this point forward, I`ll be the leader that I
should have been on that bus and stand up against any racism in any form.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: A reporter later asked about it, where he learned the chant.
But he wouldn`t answer that question. The meeting was hosted by State
Senator Anastasia Pittman, the chair of the Oklahoma black caucus who said
today that this is just a beginning.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. ANASTASIA PITTMAN (D), OKLAHOMA: We believe that Levi Pettit is ready
to make that difference. He has made a commitment to working with the
students at the University of Oklahoma. Whatever activities they have
developed and designed to be culturally sensitive and linguistically
sensitive, we welcome that. We`re going to guide him through that process
and this is just the beginning. We`re not going to leave Levi Pettit. He
is committed and we`re here to give him freshness for that journey.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: A very public apology after a hateful moment. And now the
question, where do we go next?

Joining me now is "The Washington Post"" Jonathan Capehart.

Jonathan, what do you make of Levi Pettit`s statement?

JONATHAN CAPEHART, MSNBC AND THE WASHINGTON POST CONTRIBUTOR: Well, for
what I`ve been able to see in here, Rev., it sounds like a heartfelt
statement, it sounds like someone who has learned an incredible lesson and
has done so in a very public way. My hope is that he is young enough and
that we will see action put behind those words. Not necessarily, you know,
later tonight or tomorrow or next week but he`s a young man. He has an
entire lifetime to make those words ring true.

SHARPTON: Now, I mentioned this earlier. Reporters asked Levi, where he
learned the chant. Here`s what he said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PETTIT: I`m not here today to talk about where I learned the chant or how
it was taught. I`m here to apologize for what I did because the truth is,
what was said in that chant is disgusting and it should never -- and after
meeting with these people and everybody else I`ve met with, I`ve learned
that these words should never be repeated, joked about or ever used in any
form ever again.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Jonathan, when we`re hearing that this chant has been used years
ago, similar chants that other frat houses have had similar allegations
that are being checked into, wouldn`t it have been helpful if he tells us
where he learned the chant?

CAPEHART: Well, yes. I mean, as far as, you know, all that nice things I
just said about him, it is rather frustrating that even now he won`t shed
any light on where he actually learned this chant. I mean, he is a very
young man to be singing a chant that has, you know, the lines in there,
particularly the lynching line. You know, this goes back decades, if not a
couple -- if not at least a century. That`s not something that was just
taught. That`s something that goes down through the ages in this
fraternity and it would be very helpful for -- not just Levi but for that
fraternity and for that school if we found out who taught the chant or how
everyone learned it. And so to ensure that the chant is excised and not
used again and that everyone knows -- I`m sure everyone knows now that that
chant is despicable, as he said.

SHARPTON: All right. Let me interrupt you because I want to bring in
State Senator Anastasia Pittman, who help organized today`s event and Dr.
J.A. Reed, pastor of the church where this was held. Thank you both for
being here.

DR. J.A. REED, PASTOR OF FAIRVIEW BAPTIST CHURCH: Good to be here, Revered
Al.

PITTMAN: Thank you for having us.

SHARPTON: State Senator, are you satisfied with Levi Pettit`s apology.

PITTMAN: Yes. Yes I am. I`m satisfied with the apology because not only
was it done in private, it was also done in public and then I believe it.
I believe he`s sincere and his parents were with him as well.

SHARPTON: How did this come about, State Senator? I understand you`ve
been very key in bringing this about, how did today happened?

PITTMAN: Well, today happened as a culmination of events and activities.
We sent out a press release supporting President Boren swift actions on
expelling the students and shutting down the SAE fraternity house and I
received a text message from Levi Pettit and I responded. And so he said
in his text message "I want to meet with you. I want to speak with you
face to face and I want to apologize to you personally. Will you meet with
me to give me an opportunity to do that?" And we did. We fostered an
environment for him to come to my church, met with my pastor, Arnillo
Screenshop (ph) from the northeast church of Christ in Oklahoma City. So
his parents drove down from Dallas, Texas, and we met and that`s where we
had a long conversation.

SHARPTON: Reverend Reed, Dr. Reed, we are all saw community leaders and
pastors standing there and saying that this was an important first step.
Do you think it also would have been helpful if he told us where he learned
this from, being that there are fraternities all over the country that are
now being looked into for similar chance and we`re told that this was done
by this fraternity years ago?

REED: Well, I think that he said today that he wasn`t here to explain
where he learned the chat because we all understand. And, you know,
Revered Al, that this young man is acting on acquired behavior. So he had
-- we know that somewhere along the line that he has been taught this
slant. Because, number one is all the students on the bus along with
himself could not relate to really the chant and could not relate to what
they were saying in the chant because they are too young. That so we know
it`s acquired behavior. We don`t know -- we don`t know where it started,
when it started, how it started. But we do know that it`s acquired
behavior of these young people.

SHARPTON: Senator, I heard the young man say that he had met with the
football team. What about the young students on campus? I had on the show
a couple of nights, the group Unheard, some of the other student leaders.
Has he talked to them? What will their reaction be, have you talked to
them? Will the people his age group, the students that were being chanted
about, will they accept this apology and move forward or are they part of
this process?

PITTMAN: Yes. They are part of the process. He has not yet had an
opportunity to meet with from Unheard. He has met with Isaac Hill, the
black student association president at the University of Oklahoma and other
student leaders. However, sentiments were expressed in a private meeting
prior to the press conference that students from the Unheard group will
accept his apology. They are expecting an opportunity to work with him,
educate him and work together as we move forward.

He has not had an opportunity to do that yet because he is expelled from
school and he`s not allowed to go on campus. So these students are
becoming creative on how to figure out how to get him to be able to work
with him. President Boren has offered the opportunity for Levi Pettit and
any students of the SAE fraternity to come on the university campus this
Friday and just have heart to heart talk with students only. There`ll be
no elected officials, no professors, just the student body and President
Boren.

SHARPTON: Should he be allowed back in schools or should he continue to be
expelled?

PITTMAN: I fully support the president`s decision to expel anyone who
breaks the code of conduct. I think students ought to be responsible and
held accountable for their actions. So as the expulsion stands this is not
the end of the road for him. He can take his transcript and enroll at
another university. He does not have to attend the University of Oklahoma
to be an ambassador for change. And this is what we`re expecting of him
and we want to hold him accountable for that.

SHARPTON: Pastor Reed, I think one of the things tonight, certainly the
young man if what he says holds up and as he moves forward in the future,
he builds on that. But also it showed community leaders and the senator
who took the front here and, as she said to us, young groups like Unheard
really are about healing, not about trying to continue contention if in
fact there`s a point to do that. I think this could be important if it
continues in the course that it`s going.

REED: I think also, Revered Al. Of course, that`s the concern of the
leadership, the pastors of all of the Oklahoma City community. It is that
there will be healing and we want to move in that direction to, most
certainly, give our support to all of the students of the University of
Oklahoma. Let them know that we are supporting them in any way, every way
in the direction that they are pursing now when it comes to the matter of
justice on that campus.

SHARPTON: And I think part of the healing is dealing with the injury,
Senator, which is why I`m glad you say Unheard in some of the young people
being involved and certainly we invite them and Mr. Pettit to come on the
show after they talk because, I think again, we need to deal with the
culture. Where did they learn this from? Where is this part of the
institution of these fraternities? We need to get justice by digging deep
and not just deal with the surface part, which you said and would pastor
Reed has said.

PITTMAN: Yes, Sir. We`re thankful that President Boren took swift
actions. We will not find put where the chat came from now as the SAE
fraternity house has been shut down. So I think, as a part of the
investigations that are going on at the University of Oklahoma, they may
lead the charge in finding out where the chant came from.

SHARPTON: Well as you see, this is wide spread. We`ve heard about
investigation of racist incidents and other SAE chapters but this is not
limited to one school or one fraternity. Look at the stories from the last
two years.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Dartmouth College is looking into a so called Creeps
and blood parties sponsored by Alpha Delta fraternity and Delta, Delta,
Delta sorority.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Members of Lamb are say that Delta are seeing
performing to the Justin Timberlake song, students tie but then this. One
of them appears in a black face.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The frat held an MLK party last weekend where students
dressed up like gangsters and then posed for pictures holding watermelons.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Five Delta sent out this picture showing fraternity
members posing with a dark-skinned blow-up doll.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: So Jonathan, this is not just an Oklahoma problem or one frat
problem. This is a mammoth kind of challenge. How do we deal with this?

CAPEHART: Well, by talking about it. I think President Boren at Oklahoma
University set a fantastic example of what a college president; university
president should do when confronted with situations like that. And so if
more university presidents followed his lead, I think that, you know, a lot
of these problems can be ameliorated. And also it sends a message to
students at other campuses if presidents follow President Boren`s lead that
such act that such conduct will not be tolerated.

SHARPTON: Senator, you`ve shown real leadership here. What is your advice
to people in other areas that are facing these situations, some of what I
have shown, what should they do to, A, establish justice but at the same
time keep the community moving towards healing?

PITTMAN: One of the things I`d do, Reverend Al, is I always consult with
my pastor. But as a student on a college campus in the heat of the moment,
I think you ought to go to those administrators of that campus, get your
student policy handbook, look and see if there`s gray areas in there or if
there`s black and white areas that address that misconduct of racism. It`s
not to be tolerated on any level in any form and what we have to do is make
sure that we have policies in place. And we have to hold lawmakers and
policy makers accountable for not making policies that protect every
individual. We are supposed to embrace diversity and we`re supposed to
make sure that we`re inclusive of educational opportunities. And if we`re
not doing that, then we`re doing a disservice to the public.

SHARPTON: Well, we`ve heard his words. We`ll watch and see where it goes
and, again, we invite him to come on as well as the Unheard group can be
heard here because I think these young people with the dignity they showed,
as they protested, ought not be in any way forgotten.

Oklahoma State Senator Anastasia Pittman, thank you for coming on and I`ll
always like somebody that give their church a plug. I want Revered
Screenshop and I heard that. Dr. J.A. Reed, thank you. And Jonathan
Capehart, thank you all for your time tonight.

CAPEHART: Thanks, Rev.

SHARPTON: Ahead, breaking news. The U.S. sergeant who left his point in
his post in Afghanistan, Bowe Bergdahl, charged with desertion. Will he
face time in prison?

Plus, House Republican voting today on a budget that repeals Obamacare,
five years after President Obama signed it into law. Whatever happened to
all their doom and gloom predictions?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We have been promised a lot
of things these past five years that didn`t turn out to be the case --
death panels, doom, a serious alternative from Republicans in Congress.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: Breaking news tonight, Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl has been charged
with desertion. Where does this case go next? More on that straight
ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: Breaking news tonight, the army will charge Sergeant Bowe
Bergdahl with desertion. Sergeant Bergdahl disappeared from his base in
Afghanistan in 2009 and was held captive by a Taliban affiliate for five
years.

The Obama administration released five Taliban prisoners from Guantanamo
Bay in exchange for Bergdahl`s release last May. Bergdahl`s disappearance
has been the subject of a lengthy military investigation and he will face
serious charges of desertion, which carries a maximum penalty of five years
confinement and misbehavior before the enemy charge, which carries possible
confinement for life. The question now, where does the case go from here?

Joining me now are former Democratic Congressman Patrick Murphy, the first
Iraq war vet elected to Congress, and Stephen Karns, an attorney who
specializes in defending U.S. military personnel in the military legal
system. Thank you both for being here.

PATRICK MURPHY (D), FORMER FLORIDA REPRESENTATIVE: Thank you, Reverend.

STEPHEN KARNS, ATTORNEY: Thank you.

SHARPTON: Congressman Murphy, let`s talk about these charges. Is this how
you expected this case to play out?

MURPHY: It is, Reverend, because we need to hold Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl
accountable. I mean, this is a person who deserted his fellow men and
women in that unit when he was at Afghanistan. And put members of the
military in harm`s way because he deserted them and then obviously the
second charge of misbehavior.

But this is the first step of three phases here. The first step was this
investigation. It`s now going to an article 32 hearing, Reverend, which is
a preliminary hearing or grand jury and then the third part of it will be
the actual court-martial and that`s where the odds are proved beyond a
reasonable doubt that he committed these crimes that he`s being charged
with.

SHARPTON: Steven, give me your reaction to these charges.

KARNS: Well, it`s not surprising. I think the army`s hands were tied. I
think that they would assume that they get rid of this case. I don`t think
that they this case to send a message, they prosecute soldiers every day
for desertion. But I think that their hands are tied because they do
prosecute soldiers every day for desertion and what do they do if they
don`t prosecute Sergeant Bergdahl.

The thing is, with this case, is the amount of time that the army is going
to have to put in this case is probably equivalent to a murder case. But I
have a feeling that the result, that is the length of the sentence, is not
going to compare to the time that they put in the case and is not going to
come close to a murder-type sentence.

SHARPTON: Stephen there`s been talk about a possible plea deal. What`s
your take on that?

KARNS: Well, based on what I`ve read today is basically, the command has
suggested by stating that they don`t want to see this process drag out, to
me that tells me that they are asking Sergeant Bergdahl to submit an offer.
Tell us what you think is fair. We`ll take a look at it. And, frankly,
that`s what happens in 99 percent of desertion cases. It`s easy to prove
desertion. It`s really just a matter of the sentence.

So by submitting an offer, Sergeant Bergdahl could potentially limit his
exposure. And I think that that`s what he`s going to want to do because
he`s going to be found guilty if it goes to court-martial at this point,
it`s damage control. And if you`re looking at life, you probably submit an
offer, I`d say, two years to start and see if they take a bite at that.

SHARPTON: Congressman, there`s been a lot of talk about six soldiers dying
while searching for Sergeant Bergdahl. Last year, his former squad leader
said, quote, "if he wouldn`t have deserted us, these soldiers very well
could have been in a different place at a different time rather than the
place at the time of their death.

Now, Congressman, the details here are murky but could this factor in to
the case against Sergeant Bergdahl?

MURPHY: Revered, yes and no. Yes in a sense that when you`re proving
beyond a reasonable doubt that he committed these crimes, these two crimes
that he`s being alleged to have committed, it won`t go into that factor.
But in the sentencing part of the trial, the court-martial itself,
Reverend, it will because there`s what is called aggravating and mitigating
factors. This is clearly his behavior has aggravating factors and results
potentially the loss of six other soldiers.

So that`s very important to consider but I also want to say one other thing
that, I want to disagree with Stephen really quick, Reverend. If this case
of bringing Sergeant Bergdahl to justice sends a message that we do not
outsource American justice to our enemy overseas. We bring them home and
we try them here. So no matter what the cause, no matter what -- how
difficult this might be to put forth this case, and it will be, justice
will be served and it sends a very clear message to those in the military
and out of the military that they must abide by uniform code of military
justice.

SHARPTON: Well, on that point, that is exactly what the president said
upon the release of Sergeant Bergdahl. Let me play this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: We also made an Iran clad commitment to bring our prisoners of war
home. That`s who we are as Americans. It`s a profound obligation within
our military and today, at least in this instance, it`s a promise we`ve
been able to keep.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: That`s what the president said, Stephen, last year when the
announcement was made that Sergeant Bergdahl had in fact been released
based on that deal. Your reaction to the Congressman`s statement and as
well as to what the president said, has not that been fulfilled, whatever
the outcome?

KARNS: Well, I agree and that`s why I don`t think that there`s any more
reason -- well, I mean, there`s certainly reason to send a message. I
mean, that`s clear. I mean, a message does need to be sent for multiple
reasons. But as a practical matter, what I think that they`re going to be
concerned about is they`re going to be focusing so much on sending a
message that ultimately a judge or panel might not end up agreeing with
them. And so I think in this case and what were going off as well is we
don`t even know what Sergeant Bergdahl is going to say.

Has anyone heard his story? I mean, maybe the government knows more about
his story or mitigating circumstances that cause them to lead possibly
mental health issues. Who knows? But it certainly is odd that the
government would already come out and state, we want to see this case move
quickly. I mean, you don`t say that in a case when you`re looking to get a
lengthy sentence.

SHARPTON: Patrick Murphy, bottom line, is this the right thing that has
happened?

MURPHY: Absolutely. This is the right call. Justice will be served.
It`s a time to get him brought to justice and I am confident that a panel
or jury will find him guilty of the crimes that are alleged.

SHARPTON: Congressman Patrick Murphy and Stephen Karns, thank you both for
your time tonight.

KARNS: Thanks, Reverend.

MURPHY: Thank you, Revered.

SHARPTON: Coming up, President Obama slams Republicans for their partner`s
attempt to gut the safety net. We`ll go live.

But first, Senator Ted Cruz is signing up for Obamacare. We`ll show him
how his new coverage is sure to cure all that ails him. You will not want
to miss this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ANNOUNCER: Tonight, it`s Rev Al`s guide to using ObamaCare. What happens
after you sign up?

SHARPTON: Tonight`s guide is dedicated to Senator Ted Cruz. He`s been the
number one critic of ObamaCare.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. TED CRUZ (R), TEXAS: We need to repeal every single word of
ObamaCare.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Do everything humanly possible to repeal ObamaCare.

CRUZ: Repeal every single word of ObamaCare.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: But the times are a changing. Ted Cruz is signing up. He
claims he`s forced to. But not to worry, Senator. You`re going to love
ObamaCare. There are so many benefits, like covering pre-existing
conditions. You won`t have to worry about staying up all night with a
nasty case of shutdown-itis.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CRUZ: And that`s something for me that is personal and real.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Help is on the way with ObamaCare. You`ll finally get a cure
for that contagious whacko bird flu Senator McCain stuck you with.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CRUZ: It should embarrass all of us.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: It sure ain`t, Senator. ObamaCare will even cover a visit to
Dr. Seuss to cure you of that pesky green eggs-ema.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CRUZ: It ain`t good.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: It does but ObamaCare can help. Maybe you can even talk to a
doctor about your persistent migraine Ted aches.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CRUZ: You`re exactly right.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: It`s what we`ve been trying to tell you. He`s going to love the
ACA so much, he may even campaign for president by renaming it Cruz care.
We`ll have much more on the law changing millions of lives, including Ted
Cruz`s, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: It`s time for "Conversation Nation." Joining me tonight,
MSNBC`s Abby Huntsman, political analyst Jason Johnson and HuffPost Live
host Alyona Minkovski. Thank you all for being here tonight.

ABBY HUNTSMAN, MSNBC CO-HOST, "THE CYCLE": Thanks, Rev.

JASON JOHNSON, POLITICAL ANALYST: Good to be here, Rev.

SHARPTON: We start with some breaking news. Just minutes ago, House
republicans passed a budget plan that slashes taxes for the rich, making
drastic cuts to the safety net and repeals ObamaCare. Today, President
Obama tore into the plan as he marked the fifth anniversary of ObamaCare.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PRES. BARACK OBAMA (D), UNITED STATES: For folks who are basing their
entire political agenda on repealing the law, you`ve got to explain how
kicking millions of families off their insurance is somehow going to make
us more free. Or why forcing millions of families to pay thousands of
dollars more will somehow make us more secure? Or why we should go back to
the days when women paid more for coverage than men? More pre-existing
condition locked so many of us out of insurance.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: All day today, republicans took to the House floor claiming
their plan would help American families.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. TOM PRICE (R), GEORGIA: Our vision for tax reform is positive, robust
and making sure that all Americans, all Americans benefit, that`s what our
budget does. Let`s up all Americans, we don`t pick winners and losers
because they`ve been estimated it, if the Obama recovery had mirrored the
Reagan recovery, millions more Americans would be working today.

REP. DAVID SCHWEIKERT (R), ARIZONA: Let America begin to grow, allow it to
begin to prosper and that is what the republican budget is doing.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Begin to grow? Win the longest streak of job growth since 1938.
This plan is not about jobs. It`s about priorities. It includes $270
billion in tax breaks for 6,000 people with multimillion dollar state. To
pay for it, they`d have to cut Pell Grants for college students by 75
percent for a decade and shut down school nutrition programs for 31 million
children, also for a decade. This budget fight will reach the Senate
tomorrow where it`s already heating up. Just listen to Senator Barbara
Boxer pull out a POLITICS NATION trick to make her point.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. BARBARA BOXER (D), CALIFORNIA: They hide defense spending in an off-
budget account called Oco? Oh, no. Oco. They hide it but we`ve got their
number, as I think Al Sharpton says on his show, we gotcha. We know what
you are doing.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: We gotcha is right and this fight is not over. Jason, this vote
on the GOP budget was close. What do you think about the plan?

JOHNSON: I mean, look, this is another example of sort of wasted
government. They`re passing a budget, first off, they had to do this sort
of legislative trick where they voted on one and then voted on the other.
It`s going to have difficulty in the Senate and the President is not going
to sign anything that repeals ObamaCare. And so it`s frustrating to me as
an American taxpayer that I have a government entity, the House of
Representatives that keeps trying to pass laws that will not come into
effect. I think it`s a waste of time, another example of the republicans
wasting their majority in symbolic acts rather than actually running the
government.

SHARPTON: But why Abby, do they keep wasting their time? I mean, are they
trying to just send messages to their base? I mean, why go through
something they know that is not going to be signed?

HUNTSMAN: I think it`s a mix of all of that but the biggest reason is,
yes, sending a message to their base. People they campaigned with saying
this is all we`re going to continue to fight on. We`re not going to let
this go, as Ted Cruz as we`ve seen will not that down on ObamaCare. That`s
the real thing that sticks out in this plan. I think it`s fine for both
parties to disagree in terms of how we move forward on the economy. But
ultimately you have to find some sort of a compromise, right? You have to
find ways to move forward and as long as ObamaCare is in there, this plan
is not going anywhere. Republicans are now talking about speaking to the
middle class. Yes, Rev, the economy is doing much better but the middle
class is where many are still struggling. So, how do they find that right
message? Is this a plan that`s going to speak to the middle class?

SHARPTON: Well, Alyona, I mean, yes, the middle class is still struggling
and the poor is struggling even more. But is the republican plan something
that will give any comfort or any light at the end of the tunnel to the
middle class or the poor?

ALYONA MINKOVSKI, HOST, "HUFFPOST LIVE": No. I think that`s the biggest
problem with the republican plan here, it`s not actually couched in
reality. Right? If you want the economy to grow, then you have to give
people purchasing power. You have to put money in their pockets and not be
cutting social programs and programs that those who are lower income
Americans need the most right now. We already know that the rich don`t
need more money at this point. They are making it just fine and they are
getting by. But in order for the greater economy to grow, you need
everyone to have an ability to spend.

SHARPTON: You know, what, Jason, with the whole nation talking about
income inequality, are they tone deaf to pass this kind of legislation,
even though it won`t be signed, they are giving such blatant tax breaks to
the rich and clearly tries to cut things like Pell Grants and other things
that are really necessarily for middle class and poor people?

JOHNSON: Well, this is the internal conflict that we`ve been seeing with
the Republican Party even during midterm elections last year. Remember,
you had red states electing senators who said, I will never raise the
minimum wage and then you had voters passing minimum wage bills for the
state. So, this is the problem. They cannot come up with any sort of
ideological consistency. The American public wants to go back to work,
people want affordable health care and they want their incomes to allow
them to live a certain lifestyle and the republicans are in this pie in the
sky, talking about philosophical budget issue and not what matters on
mainstreams.

HUNTSMAN: Well, we can`t get a budget passed, Rev. That`s is a huge
problem, we just keep kicking the can further and further down the road and
the big question I have to Speaker Boehner is, why time and time again we
know the outcome of this.

JOHNSON: Right.

HUNTSMAN: Why do you continue to let the budget pass when ObamaCare is
still in there?

MINKOVSKI: The thing is, you know, it`s not even making the Republican
Party look good. You`re talking about trying to repeal to certain factions
of the base. The Republican Party is divided and split here, which is why
they had two different budgets that they had to vote on. Because there`s
also some hypocrisy there. You can`t be deficit hawks and also called for
in lift and increasing
Defense spending which exactly what the party is battling over at the
moment.

SHARPTON: Let`s turn to some disturbing comments from a presidential
contender, Dr. Ben Carson who announced just a few weeks ago that he was
forming a 2016 exploratory committee. He was recently profiled by GQ
Magazine. GQ reports that while watching President Obama`s State of the
Union, an adviser to Carson noted how elegant the President looked.
Carson`s response, quote, "Like most psychopaths, Carson grumbled, that`s
why they are successful. That`s the way they look. They all look great."

Abby, since when is it acceptable to compare the president of the United
States to a psychopath? I mean, is there any excusing this kind of talk?

HUNTSMAN: I mean, I guess when Ben Carson decided he wanted to run for
president, he realized this is okay, there`s no way he actually said
something like this. Either Rev, he believes everything that he is saying
or he really, really wants to make headlines and be all the talk in the
media which would --

SHARPTON: He`s a smart guy.

HUNTSMAN: He is a smart guy and that`s the strange part about this, I`m
not sure what he`s trying to get out of this whole thing. The bottom-line
is, he`s not a credible candidate, he`s just not. But he`s doing
reasonably well in the polls because people just don`t know enough about
him. They see him as a Washington outsider potentially a fresh face. And
as you`ve said maybe a smart guy but beyond that, when he makes comments
like that, that is already defined the campaign and the type of person that
he would be, I`m not sure how many people would want that.

SHARPTON: But you know, Jason, there ought to be boundaries on where we
talk.

JOHNSON: Right.

SHARPTON: I mean, like Carson is one that we`ve heard a lot of outrageous
stuff and frankly I think causing another as smart and should be heard.
But when we start doing these kinds of over-the-top name calling, don`t you
really take away from your message and potential to be viable politically?

JOHNSON: Well, it doesn`t make you a viable candidate. And I got to say,
as a doctor given the conscience of what he`s talking about. He should
know the difference between a psychopath and a sociopath. I think he meant
sociopath. The point is, he shouldn`t be making any of these comparisons.
The point is, for a guy who his entire foreign policy experience include a
trip to Israel recently.

HUNTSMAN: Right.

JOHNSON: For a guy who would never actually been an elected to office,
throwing a bunch of bomb to Barack Obama who won`t be on the ballot next
year, that`s an indicator that you`re a serious candidate. So, he can
continue to say all the ridiculous things he wants. Maybe he`s trying to,
you know, get a speaking tour or something else like that in 2016 but this
is a waste of time for anybody who actually thinks they can run the
country.

HUNTSMAN: But to your point, I mean, to the point of we`re always
complaining about Washington Insiders and I think there`s a point here. He
doesn`t have political experience, he doesn`t have foreign policy
experience. I think there is something --

JOHNSON: That`s a problem.

HUNTSMAN: There`s something to our candidate that have worked in politics
--

SHARPTON: But Alyona, I think there`s another point here, and I think that
point is, if you really believe in something, when you get to center stage,
you leave the theatrics. I mean, I ran for president. A lot of the things
that you do to get to that stage, to get the attention, when you get to the
stage, if you really believe in something, you leave the accesses and try
to get a message of course and when you don`t, people can then say, maybe
you really don`t believe in something.

MINKOVSKI: As I was saying, the Tea Party absolutely loves the theatrics
and Ben Carson is certainly not the first time that we`ve seen use extreme
kind of language like this to try to get the attention. You`re right, he
definitely overstepped and he should not have done this time around but I
think there`s really some danger. As long as people are saying that he is
not a viable candidate, it doesn`t mean that going down the line he won`t
maybe push other candidates to avoid some of the same kind of rhetoric.

SHARPTON: Go for substance. You`re better than that. Everyone, stay with
me.

JOHNSON: Exactly.

SHARPTON: Up next, we`ll talk about the smash hit "Empire" and the push
for more diversity on TV. One critic is actually saying it could be too
much of a good thing. That`s next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: We`re back with our panel. Abby, Jason and Alyona. So,
Hollywood is finally addressing its diversity problem. But not everyone is
on board. The success of new diverse shows like "Empire," "Blackish" and
"How To Get Away with Murder" means we`re finally seeing shows that reflect
more on the audience. Now an article on the "Dateline" website was
sparking a heated debate asking if the increase in ethnic casting and
television is, quote, "about time" or, quote, "too much of a good thing."
And claiming there would be fewer parts for white actors. Alyona, what`s
your response?

MINKOVSKI: I think this is ridiculous. I mean, I hear the world`s tiniest
violins playing somewhere for all of these white actors, industry insiders
who feel that there aren`t enough roles available for them anymore. The
reason that these shows like Empire keep breaking records and seeing more
viewers on every single episodes that air is because they are good and
because they are diverse and they better reflect the audiences out there
that are wanting to watch them.

SHARPTON: Jason?

JOHNSON: Simple numbers. Fifty percent over 50 percent of the U.S.
population under 15 is black and brown. You have to have television to
actually look like real people and the idea that, you know, the article
would have just been -- if it wasn`t for the fact that she`s expressing
what some people really think. That any time there`s a television show
that isn`t 99 percent white people somehow has to be a fluke. But the
reality is, this is the future of television. No network will survive if
they don`t start having shows that look like the audience that actually
wants us to watch.

SHARPTON: Abby?

HUNTSMAN: Right. This is the future of television. It speaks to the
demographic changes that are happening right now in our country. I`m a
huge fan of all of Shonda Rhimes shows. Ultimately, we want to watch shows
that reflect our lives, we want to be able to relate to these shows. So, I
think we`re going to see more of this people are upset about it. I don`t
have the choice. This is the direction that we`re going in.

SHARPTON: Abby, Jason and Alyona, thank you all for your time tonight.

HUNTSMAN: Thanks, Rev.

MINKOVSKI: Thank you.

JOHNSON: Thank you, Rev.

SHARPTON: Be sure to catch Abby on "THE CYCLE" weekdays at 3 p.m. right
here on MSNBC. We`ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: Breaking news on that plane crash in the Alps. NBC News
confirming that three Americans were on board the flight. Mother and
daughter Yvonne and Emily Selke from Virginia lost their lives along with
148 others. One other American has not yet been identified. One black box
recorder has been recovered from the scene and is now being analyzed.
Responders continue to search for the flight data from a second recorder
after finding its case today. Our thoughts and prayers continue to be with
the families of the victims on board.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: Finally tonight, remember the successes and the sacrifices of
the civil rights movement. Fifty years ago today, the historic march from
Selma to Montgomery came to an end at the steps of the Alabama State
Capitol. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered a powerful speech in front
of 25,000 people, a speech that was instantly recognized as a classic.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DR. MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. (1929-1968), CIVIL RIGHT ACTIVISTS: I know
you`re asking today how long will it take? Somebody`s asking how long will
presidents blind the vision of man? How long? Not long. Because no lie
can live forever. How long? Not long. Because you shall reap what you
sow. How long? Not long. How long?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Today, 50 years later, his daughter Bernice King stood on those
same steps and read her father`s speech. Moments later, she prayed with
the current Alabama governor and the daughter of former Alabama Governor
George Wallace, a testament of just how far we have come. But today, we
also must remember the sacrifices that paved the way, the tragic passing of
a civil rights icon Viola Liuzzo. She was a mother of five who became
disgusted with the violence she saw on TV against black protesters. She
joined the march from Selma to Montgomery and near the end of that march,
she was shot and killed by the KKK. Dr. King attended her funeral five
days later. Liuzzo was the only white woman to lose her life working for
that civil rights movement.

Her life and death showed that all Americans had a stake in moving America
forward. Next month, her daughter will be a guest at my National Action
Network Convention receiving an award on behalf of her mother, because as
we struggle with continued inequality as we struggle with continued
challenges of civil rights, yes, it`s hard, yes, we`re going to be
castigated and criticized, yes, there will be disagreements, but it`s
nowhere near as hard as it was for Jimmy Lee Jackson and Goodman Chaney and
Schwerner and Viola Liuzzo who paid a price so we are where we are and we
have a much less painful price but a hard price to pay to keep it going.

Thanks for watching. I`m Al Sharpton. "HARDBALL" starts right now.


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

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