'The Rachel Maddow Show' for Monday, April 20th, 2015
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Show: THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW
Date: April 20, 2015
Guest: Dion Nissenbaum, David Brock
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Chris. Thanks, man.
CHRIS HAYES, ALL IN: You bet.
MADDOW: And thanks to you at home for joining us this hour.
The terrorist group ISIS has released another new very disturbing video
showing its members beheading and shooting dozens of people.
What is different about this latest video from ISIS is that it appears to
combine footage from ISIS`s home base in Iraq and Syria with new execution
footage which appears to have been very shot far away in the nation of
Terrorist groups all over the world have pledged allegiance to ISIS in
recent months but it has not always been clear that that meant there was
some sort of operational relationship between is headquarters in Iraq and
Syria and these far-flung groups in plays like Nigeria or Somalia or Libya
or anywhere else.
But in this latest propaganda film, the footage of these murders in Libya,
this massacre of people in Libya, is not only interspersed with other
footage that seems like it was clearly shot in Syria and Iraq, the whole
thing also appears to have been produced by the same ISIS media production
team that has made all of the other scarily slick videos we have seen from
them. So somehow the Libyan branch of ISIS got their execution footage to
the guys in Iraq and Syria to produce this movie.
So, this is not just some random group of fighters in Libya calling
themselves ISIS because it`s a cool new thing to call yourself as a
terrorist organization. This actually appears to be an operational wing of
ISIS working with ISIS headquarters, but in a totally separate
In the video, the ISIS narrator explains that the dozens of men who are
shown being killed in the video were targeted by ISIS because they are
Christians. It was reporting over the weekend that the men in the video
are Ethiopians. The Ethiopian government confirmed today that its citizens
were among the men killed in the video.
Even though Libya is still for all intents and purposes a war zone, even
though Libya is mostly ungoverned space at this point, Libya still does
attract large numbers of migrants from other parts of Africa either because
people come there looking for work in the Libyan oil industry, which has
survived, even as the government has collapsed, or they make their way to
Libya for another reason which is that Libya has become a place from which
human smugglers pack up ships full of desperate refugees to take them on a
very, very, very dangerous sea crossing from Libya across the Mediterranean
Sea into Europe.
The closest European land they`re trying to get to is the tiny Italian
island of Lampedusa, which is completely isolated in the middle of the
Mediterranean, very far from everything but it is technically Italy and
Lampedusa has therefore seen hundreds of thousands of refugees risk their
lives to try to set foot on that tiny island as a way of getting themselves
Well, that human smuggling industry this weekend produced what may be the
deadliest single incident of what is a very deadly illegal human smuggling
industry. Nobody knows exactly how many hundreds of people were crammed
onto a fishing vessel that rolled over and sunk Saturday night 70 miles off
the coast of Libya, about 120 miles from the island of Lampedusa, but it is
feared that the number of people who may have died when that ship went down
is in the range of 700 to 900 people.
A commercial special ship that was passing by the fishing boat said that
the rollover might have been caused when people on deck all ran to one side
of that overloaded fishing boat to the try to signal to the passing
commercial vessel that they needed help. But when all of those people
moved to one side and all of that weight shifted that reportedly is when
the boat went over.
So far, only a couple dozen people have been found alive, and a couple
dozen bodies. The Italian coast guard and every ship in the region has
been called in to try to help find any survivors.
Well, that just overwhelming search and rescue effort was under way
starting Saturday night. The Italian coast guard and the coast guard of
the nation of Nalta were also called out.
While that disaster was underway, and that rescue and effort was under way,
they were also called to respond to two distress calls from two other boats
that were also completely overloaded with desperate refugees trying from
Africa into get to Europe, simultaneously in that same area, the coast
guard from Italy and Malta moved in to rescue people on an inflatable raft
that had been packed with 100 to 150 people.
Also, another distress call from a separate vessel nearby that they said
had something like 300 people on it. And simultaneous to that, further
east in Greece, in the Aegean Sea, this incredible rescue effort was
mounted. This is in the Aegean Sea. It`s off the Greek coast near an
island called Rhodes and a wooden sailboat overloaded again with migrants
crashed into the rocks off the Greek island of Rhodes.
And local people and the Greek coast guard waded in to rescue people off
the rocks after the boat they were in grounded and then broke up in the
sea. As you can see the footage is just incredible -- people holding on to
the wreckage as the boat is sinking. There`s tons of kids among the people
who were on that boat. They rescued more than 90 people.
So, this is not a new problem, but this is a problem that is getting worse.
Until last year, the Italian coast guard maintained a large and pretty
effective search and rescue operation in the Mediterranean, actively
searching for undeclared overloaded boats like this to try to reduce the
loss of life as people would try to do anything to get themselves to
And that effective effort sort of, I guess, counter-intuitively ultimately
led to criticism that maybe it was making the problem worse, that maybe the
Italian coast guard was being too effective at rescuing people and keeping
them alive and they were nearby emboldening the smugglers to take more and
more people out in more and more dangerous conditions can because they were
starting to be convinced that the Italian coast guard would be there to
rescue them when things went wrong.
And that criticism led to domestic pressure in Italy, that Italy should
stop that program last year simply because of its effectiveness. That
proactive Italian coast guard effort was disbanded last fall. Now, today,
European corrupts are considering true basically restart it, maybe a sort
of joint, beefed up European search and rescue effort to replace what the
Italians stopped doing last year.
So, there`s this question, right, of whether or not you can keep people
alive once the human smugglers have shoved them out into the open
Mediterranean on these rickety overloaded boats. The question of whether
you can keep people alive there, or whether your efforts to keep them alive
might inadvertently put more of them at risk.
There`s also the more fundamental question of whether or not the human
smuggling industry can be stopped. And today, after what looks like it may
end up being the deadliest disaster of its kind ever with this fishing
boat, with 700 or 900 people onboard, many of them women and children,
after that and the simultaneous twin rescues of more than 400 people on the
two boats off the coast of Libya, and the terrifying rescue on the rocks in
Greece, today essentially as all of those things happened essentially at
once, the prime ministers of Italy and Malta proposed doing something else.
They called for what the "New York Times" described today as targeted
nonmilitary intervention against Libya`s human traffickers, targeted but
nonmilitary, a crackdown on the human smugglers in Libya somehow, as the
demand is higher than ever, right? As migrants and refugees flood into
Libya from all over Africa, from all over the Middle East, from all over
that part of the world, trying to use Libya as a launching point to try to
get themselves into Europe to save themselves and save their families.
How would you crack down on that industry in Libya if you wanted to?
Unless you were physically going to stop the smugglers loading people on to
these boats, unless you`re physically going to stop them, which would
effectively be a military action, it is hard to imagine how else you would
do it because there are no authorities in Libya to crack down on them by
any other means? Libya doesn`t have a government that controls its whole
territory. It has a few competing groups that say they govern specific
places, but nobody controls Libya. There is no governing authority, let
alone one capable of taking apart a big lucrative international criminal
syndicate that is handling now tens of thousands of people for years. I
mean, just for scale here -- in the first 17 days of this month, more than
11,000 people were rescued while trying to make that crossing from Libya.
How many more got through?
So this is a huge international humanitarian crisis made all more difficult
to solve because it has to be solved in one of the world`s ungoverned
But ungoverned or under-governed territory is where the largest
humanitarian disasters seem to emerge these days, particularly the ones
that are really hard to solve. Ungoverned and undergoverned spaces are
also increasingly where we tend to have our wars.
This is some remarkable footage, a very short piece of tape. This was the
capital city of Yemen, Sana`a, earlier today.
(VIDEO CLIP PLAYS)
MADDOW: What was apparently a Saudi air strike on the capital city of
Sana`a in Yemen today had an unexpectedly huge blast. It`s not exactly
clear why that explosion was so big. Whoever was filming this outside his
window, the reason the camera gets all shaky at the end there and
everything goes dark is because the debris from that blast hits the camera.
Nobody exactly knows why that was so big. It may have been an airstrike
that hit a munitions dump or something, but that bomb today in Sana`a is
said to have flattened multiple buildings in a residential neighborhood in
that country`s capital city.
Saudi Arabia has been bombing Yemen, including its capital city for about
four weeks now. The U.S. has been providing logistical and intelligence
support to the Saudis for this bombing campaign, although U.S. personnel
have been not been flying bombing raids alongside the Saudi pilots.
There are reports today, though, that the U.S. military has become
increasingly concerned that those Saudi jets dropping bombs on Yemen might
be at risk of getting shot down over Yemen. "Wall Street Journal" reports
today that the U.S. military, quote, "is especially concerned about the
possibility that Iran might ship into Yemen surface to air missiles that
are capable of shooting down those Saudi bombers."
So, Iran is siding with the Houthi rebels trying to take over Yemen. The
Saudis are siding against them, or with the Saudis on this one. "USA
Today" reports that since last week, the Pentagon has been tracking the
progress of a convoy of Iranian ships headed toward Yemen, headed
specifically toward the Gulf of Aden. And the Defense Department believes
what`s on that flotilla of Iranian ships might be a shipment of weapons for
those Houthi fighter in Yemen that Iran is supporting.
If that`s true and it`s a big cache of weapons and they can successfully
delivered them to the Houthis in Yemen and if those weapons include game
changing technology like surface-to-air missiles that could neutralize the
air threat from Saudi Arabia, which is basically how that war is being
waged right now, that seriously affect both, of course, of the civil war
inside Yemen and the international war on and around Yemen of which the
U.S. is now a part.
So, as those eight or nine Iranian ships steam toward the Gulf of Aden,
what they will find when they get there is a very crowded neighborhood
already. The Saudis have ships in the Gulf of Aden. Egypt has ships on
the Gulf of Aden right now. They`re sitting there off the coast of Yemen
to essentially impose a blockade to prevent weapons from being brought in
to help the side that they`re fighting.
The U.S. is also participating in that blockade. The U.S. already has
seven navy vessels in the Gulf of Aden right now. Two destroyers, the USS
Forrest Sherman and the USS Winston Churchill, two mine sweepers USS Sentry
and the USS Dextrous. We`ve also got three amphibious ships, the Iwo Jima,
the New York, and the Fort McHenry.
Collectively, we`re told, those three amphibious ships are carrying about
2,200 U.S. Marines. If you add up the navy personnel on board the other
ships they have about 750 U.S. sailors on board roughly.
So, that means already right now in the Gulf of Aden, the U.S. has about
3,000 U.S. sailors and marines already there, as that convoy of eight or
nine Iranian ships heads right for them. And those 3,000 or so U.S.
sailors and marines already in the Gulf of Aden, they are about to get a
very large influx of friendly neighbors into this crowded neighborhood,
because in addition to the Saudis having ships there and the Egyptians
already having their ships there, and the seven U.S. Navy vessels already
there in addition to all of that, the navy has now decided to send, as well
a guided missile cruiser called the USS Normandy, which has about 400 U.S.
Navy personnel on board and also this little guy, the USS Theodore
Roosevelt, which is an aircraft carrier. And that guy has approximately
6,000 U.S. personnel on board.
So, the full complement of U.S. sailors and marines participating in
whatever we`re calling this off the coast of Yemen right now is, I don`t
know, ballpark roughly 9,000 U.S. personnel.
The Pentagon and White House thus far are declining to state what exactly
this is besides a show of force. What`s going to happen when those Iranian
boats get there? What`s the interaction going to be between the Iranian
flotilla that the U.S. thinks is probably carrying weapons and the aircraft
If the U.S. military determines that those Iranian boats are full of
weapons, that Iran is planning to deliver to the Houthis and the U.S. is
participating in a weapons blockade, where nobody is allowed to give
weapons to the Houthis, is the U.S. going to stop delivery by force? And
then, is that war with Iran?
In order to get this aircraft carrier, the USS Theodore Roosevelt in
position off the coast of Yemen, which is where it`s heading right now, for
whatever is about to happen there, the U.S. military had to take the
Roosevelt out of where it had been, which was in the Persian gulf. Since
early march the Roosevelt in the Persian, in support of the U.S. air war
against is in Iraq and Syria.
So that aircraft carrier is leaving the theater where we`re at war in Iraq
and Syria to go to Yemen instead.
Now, the air war in Iraq and Syria we`re about eight months into it. The
Pentagon says there have been about 3,400 air strikes in that campaign in
Today, in Washington, this letter was sent to House Speaker Boehner calling
for a congressional vote to authorize that air war in Iraq and Syria eight
months after it the started.
What`s notable about that call today is that for the first time, it`s
actually a bipartisan call for a congressional vote. For the first time, a
Republican has said we ought to vote on that. This letter is consigned by
Democratic Congressman Adam Schiff, who has been trying to get a vote on
the war in Iraq and Syria from the very beginning, but also by a
Republican, by Tom Cole, who is not only a Republican congressman, he`s
also a vey close ally of House Speaker John Boehner.
So, that could politically be important. This is the first time a
Republican has joined in the calls for Congress to vote on authorizing that
air war in the House.
I don`t know if that`s going to make that debate and that potentially vote
more likely or not, but it`s becoming increasingly clear by the time
Congress finally does get around to it, if they do get around to it, it`s
entirely possible that by then, we will be involved in a whole new war all
together, one in which we`ve got 9,000 U.S. personnel deployed already in
another part of the world that is basically a hole in the map where the
U.S. is involved without any domestic debate whatsoever, in a complicated
fight, not against any recognizable government, but with a complicated set
of allies fighting against what emerges when governments disappear.
Joining us now is Dion Nissenbaum. He`s a Pentagon reporter for "The Wall
Mr. Nissenbaum, thank you very much for your time tonight. I appreciate
having you here.
DION NISSENBAUM, WALL STREET JOURNAL: Thanks for having me.
MADDOW: In terms of the U.S. show of force in the Gulf of Aden, we expect
that we`re going to be looking at nine U.S. naval vessels there all
together and about 9,000 U.S. personnel.
Is that your understanding?
NISSENBAUM: Yes, well, the Navy tells me there`s up to a dozen ships
heading there. They`ve got some resupply ships sitting there but obviously
the big one is the Roosevelt here. That`s what they`re hoping that they
will send a message to Iran. They want to put in an aircraft carrier in
there. That`s a big ship, as you said.
They want that to be a deterrence to say to Iran, look, if you want to
bring in weapons in here, we`re here, and we want you to stop and to
ratchet down the tensions here, and let`s get to the peace negotiations,
and not have things get out of control in the Gulf of Aden.
MADDOW: Is that an empty threat? Or is there actually a plan wherein U.S.
Navy personnel or marines would actually board those Iranian ships if it
came to that?
NISSENBAUM: I don`t think you`re going to see U.S. navy personnel board
any Iranian ships. You know, that`s probably out of the question. But you
do have Saudi ships there, and you do have Egyptian ships there. They`re
the ones that are really taking the lead here in enforcing this blockade.
So, I think they want a U.S. carrier there to support them. If there was
going to be some kind of provocative showdown in the Gulf, I think you
would see the Saudis and the Egyptians take the lead on that part. But
they`re really hoping this flotilla will go by and there`s not going to be
a showdown. This is -- this is pretty serious.
MADDOW: Is this a ratcheting up of the U.S. presence there that is likely
to be quite temporary? Is this specifically about this flotilla or Iranian
ships, and if they do pass by and nothing happens or they`re deterred from
doing something they might have otherwise done, that that aircraft carrier
and some of those other vessels will leave?
NISSENBAUM: Yes, certainly the aircraft carrier moves throughout that
region. They`re transiting to the Mediterranean. Some Pentagon officials
were trying to downplay this move early on, saying, look, this is just a
normal rotation moving from the Persian Gulf to the med. They do this all
the time. They transit back and forth.
This is the kind of thing they`re there to do. But we are really watching
what the Iranians are doing here. This is a provocative step. They are
trying to prevent more arms from getting in. And if they need to camp
there for a while, they`re certainly ready to do that.
But this is, you know, as the U.S. military likes to say, the enemy has a
vote in this, and so what Iran does is going to really affect what happens
over the next few days.
MADDOW: In terms of timing, how quickly do these ships move? And how --
when do we expect that this encounter of whatever kind is going to happen
NISSENBAUM: It could happen over several days. They think it could happen
as soon as this week, but the coast of Yemen is long. And, in fact, it
runs up through the Red Sea, so they could try to put those weapons aboard
any of those places.
So, there`s going to be several days of watching the ships as it`s along
the coast there.
MADDOW: Dion Nissenbaum, Pentagon reporter for the "Wall Street Journal",
thanks for helping us understand it. Fascinating stuff. I appreciate you
NISSENBAUM: Thank you.
MADDOW: Thank you.
It is weird to me there`s all this political debate right about technically
about foreign policy and about whether or not President Obama is a strong
leader -- all the stuff that`s going on around 2016 politicking and
Republican candidates in particular trying to position themselves as the
new strong guy on policy issues. And the debate is really not about all of
the super-strategic, complicated, undebated stuff that`s happening right
now, not hypothetically, but really in foreign policy.
This thing in Yemen is on. There`s 9,000 personnel there.
This thing in Iraq and Syria is on. Congress hasn`t said beep about it.
This stuff is happening right now. The Afghanistan war has just been
ramped up again. They`re going to keep 10,000 person they there through
the end of the year.
And the talk in American domestic politics is like about things that might
happen. Someday we`ll have a debate about the things that are.
We`ll be right back.
MADDOW: While we`re talking aircraft carriers, just one more thing. In
1946, the U.S. government gathered over 90 ships in the middle of the
Pacific Ocean and dropped an atomic bomb on them. The U.S. military had,
of course, destroyed two Japanese cities with his nuclear weapons the year
before, but they still wanted to know what effect atomic bombs would have
in the ocean dropped on war ships. And so, we gathered together dozens of
our old ships and we nuked them.
One of the ships that was nuclear bombed was an aircraft carrier called the
USS Independence. The USS Independence had recently returned from service
in the Pacific theater in World War II. This is what it looks like after
it was nuked in all its radioactive glory.
After that experiment, the beleaguered USS Independence was moved to a
naval shipyard in San Francisco, where the military studied how to
decontaminate something like that after all its radioactive blast exposure.
But then in 1951, so five years after they nuked it at Bikini Atoll, they
ended up towing the thing 30 miles out to sea and they sunk in a secret
location, they sunk it in a location off the northern California coast that
until now has been secret.
Last month, the U.S. government teamed up with the Boeing Corporation to
try to map the wreck of the USS Independence using a little submersible
craft. And they did find. They found it sitting upright about a half mile
below the surface of the ocean. They say it is, quote, "amazingly impact."
And believe it or not, there may even be a plane still sitting on the
flight deck a half mile below the sea.
We posted a link to the sonar images of this thing at MaddowBlog.com
tonight, if you want to check it out. It is pretty amazing to see. It`s
also a pretty amazing ship.
I mean, we sent this guy to do hard combat in the Pacific in World War II,
then we nuked it, then we sunk it and now, it`s sitting upright, still
basically intact and proud. An aircraft carrier`s work is never done.
We`ll be right back.
MADDOW: Would you like to see what New Jersey Governor Chris Christie
looked like in 1994? Oh, hello.
That`s a screen shot from a 1994 campaign ad that Chris Christie ran in New
Jersey when he was running for local office there.
This is a picture of Rand Paul back in his college days in Texas wearing a
Ready for this one? That`s Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker in high school
with his beautiful long mane of enviable black hair.
Welcome to the world of oppo research. All of those pictures and more are
contained in a whole book about the 2016 Republican presidential contenders
that was put out recently by the liberal group American Bridge. They
called it their scouting report on the candidates.
What it actually is, is opposition research. It`s a collection of dirt and
unflattering angles that they`ve been able to find on Chris Christie, or
Rand Paul, or Scott Walker, and any of these other guys dating back to
their college days, sometimes dating into back to high school days, good
hair days and bad hair days.
Oppo research is a thing that political parties and political organization
do. And they have for a long time. It`s not, however, usually a thing
that news organization do. But there`s a weird nexus in the news today,
between political oppo research and some of the biggest and most respected
news organizations in the country.
And that`s next.
MADDOW: In the September before the 2012 election, Karl Rove`s super PAC
American Crossroads released this damning ad.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
AD NARRATOR: A president who skips half of his intelligence briefings, but
finds time to play more than 100 rounds of golf.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: No. Half of his intelligence briefings?
Before it appeared in that attack ad, the same claim appeared in this op-ed
of "The Washington Post." It was not long before it made its way to the
whole universe. The president playing hookie, the president doesn`t do his
daily intelligence briefings, he plays golf instead, and the country is so
unsafe with him.
And just as your crazy great uncle was e-mailing about it with the caps
lock key on it and posting about it all over his MySpace page, "The
Washington Post" fact-checked their own piece on this matter and ended up
setting the record straight.
It turns out President Obama did not miss more than half his intelligence
briefings. Tada! The president does get the daily briefings every day,
every single day. The scandal is that sometimes he reads them. I know,
reading, very suspicious in a leader.
It turns south that breathless, but not exactly factual bit of reporting
with all that political purchase which "The Washington Post" had to debunk
from its own pages, that bit of news came from a right-leaning research
group called the Government Accountability Institute. They released a
report titled, "Presidential Daily Briefs: A Time-Based Analysis", complete
with not accurate charts and tables, showing how President Obama was having
fewer and fewer daily briefings by the year, except he wasn`t.
The guy that heads up that research group that wrote that report is named
Peter Schweizer (ph). That auld happened with the presidential daily
briefing stuff, that was 2012. The following year, Mr. Schweizer
resurfaced in this column for Politico.com. This was showcasing his
reporting, something else he group had discovered, another damning bit of
news about President No-Bama.
As you can see, the piece was titled, "When Barry Met Kathy", almost never
it turns out. This time what his group says they uncovered was that
between July 2010 and November 2013, President Obama had zero one-on-one
meetings with the head of Health and Human Services, Kathleen Sebelius,
which is right in the midst of this roll-out of Obamacare, that`s a
terrible scandal. They said they delved into President Obama`s public
schedule. They found that he only saw her only once in that whole time,
once, and it was a joint meeting with the treasury secretary, Tim Geithner.
Once in three years, Gosh, President Obama didn`t even care what was going
on with Obamacare.
Wrong again. Turns out cabinet secretaries who regularly visit the White
House do not always appear on a visitors log or get listed in public
schedules. Kathleen Sebelius did visit the White House tons of time during
that time period, despite what Peter Schweizer and his institute made up
and convinced oftentimes reasonable outlets to print as if it were fact.
So that`s Peter Schweizer and his research group, the Government
Accountability institute. And now, they`re back in the news in a very big
way, because Mr. Schweizer is releasing a new book on May 5th that`s titled
"Clinton Cash". "Clinton Cash: The Untold Story of How and Why Foreign
Governments and Businesses Helped to Make Bill and Hillary Clinton Rich."
The book reportedly delves into the donations given to the Clinton
Foundation run by former President Bill Clinton, while Hillary Clinton was
secretary of state, and it looks into whether or not Secretary Clinton did
any resulting favors for the people making those donations. The author`s
conservative research group is already calling it their new book.
And you kind of see how this fits into a pattern of things, right? This is
not a surprising turn. When you take a closer look at Mr. Schweizer`s
organization and who is backing him, it is a who`s who of big right-wing
funders, including one of the guys behind the media site Breitbart.com, for
which Mr. Schweizer has previously written. Also, the billionaire family
that`s currently bank rolling Ted Cruz` presidential run.
So, again, none of this is particularly surprising. Mr. Schweizer
previously served as an adviser to vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin.
He`d also been a speechwriting consultant to President George W. Bush. So,
there`s -- if you were expecting where the new tell-all book on the Clinton
foreign donations was going to come from, this is where you pick, right?
It`s sort of a new Citizens United stylebook length attack on Hillary
And there`s no real surprise that before this book hits the shelves, none
other than the FOX News Channel has an exclusive television deal to report
on the explosive contents of the book. Tonight, the host at FOX News who
is called Bret Baier had a special report on this new book.
If that`s not enough for you, this Friday an hour-long special on it, "The
Tangled Clinton Web".
All right. So that`s all exactly what you would expect, right? All par
for the court, what is not par for the course, what is surprising is that
along with the FOX News Channel having some sort of exclusive deal to
advance hype this anti-Clinton book from this conservative activist who has
a history of doing stuff like this, we are also now learning that "New York
Times" and "The Washington Post" have also entered into some kind of
arrangement with the author, with Peter Schweizer, to pursue the material
included in his book, in advance of its release.
So, FOX News Channel, OK. And "The New York Times" and "The Washington
Post"? Running with this guy`s thesis and an arrangement they made with
him in advance of the book being published?
We reached out to the news outlets to get information on the deals that
they made with this author. They told us they stand behind the agreements
that they reached with him. They told us there was no payments involved or
no financial aspect. They both said essentially that they were taken
material from the book to further their own independent reporting on the
But it is -- it is strange or at least striking, given this particular
author`s history with inaccurately reporting things in the past, but
reporting them in a way that is appealingly exclamatory, and exciting
enough to the political press, that he sometimes gets past the standards of
real news outlets and gets stuff in print and then those outlets have to
correct him later.
So, while "New York Times" and "The Washington Post" seem to be working
with the author, there`s an effort on the other side to -- to undercut the
author`s credibility, I guess we could say? To promote this guy`s past?
To put this guy in context? It`s headed up by a media watchdog on the left
called Media Matters.
And we`ve got more on that fight, next. Stay with us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: Your reaction please to these book allegations. Did foreign
embassies receive any special treatment for making any kind of donations to
the foundation or your husband?
HILLARY CLINTON (D), 2016 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, we`re back into
the political season, and therefore we will be subjected to all kinds of
distraction and attacks, and I`m ready for that. I know that that comes
unfortunately with the territory.
It is, I think worth noting that the Republicans seem to be talking only
about me. I don`t know what they would talk about if I weren`t in the
race, but I am in the race, and hopefully, will get on to the issues, and I
look forward to that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton today in New Hampshire
today, addressing questions about reported allegations in an upcoming book
that`s not released yet called "Clinton Cash". The book is basically
opposition research from a conservative group led by a guy who does this
stuff and has for a long time. The family bankrolling the Ted Cruz
campaign are on the board of his organization, which is promoting this book
as its own.
The surprising twist in this story, though, this whole shopping the oppo
research story, the twist that doesn`t make much sense to me yet at least,
is that in the midst of celebrating their multiple Pulitzer Prizes today,
the two most esteemed newspapers in America, "The New York Times" and "The
Washington Post," both outlets today said they have made agreements with
the author of that oppo-research book against Hillary that they will follow
up on his reporting.
Joining us is a combatant on the other side, David Brock is the founder of
the liberal group Media Matters, and also founder of American Bridge, a
liberal PAC that has conducted a considerable amount of oppo research on
2016 Republican presidential hopefuls.
Some Brock`s group has put out a dossier on Peter Schweizer, the author of
this Clinton book, and Mr. Schweizer`s history of getting things wrong.
David Brock, thanks for joining us this evening.
DAVID BROCK, MEDIA MATTERS: Thanks for having me on.
MADDOW: So, it is not unusual for campaigns or partisans who support or
oppose specific campaigns to try to shop oppo research to media
organizations to try to get it to cover it as news. Do you think there is
something different about what Peter Schweizer has done with his Clinton
BROCK: Well, I don`t know if it`s different, but I would say it`s
disappointing that the "New York Times" is chasing the same story as FOX
News. I think what we have here that might be unique is a convergence of
millions of dollars being spent by Republicans on opposition research, and
a press corps that`s so competitive on the Clinton beat that they`re
looking for any anti-Clinton crumb.
What happens in the situation, which may be happening here, is that, you
know, I have no problem with "The Times" vetting books. I`ve written
books. That`s not really unusual. But I think they didn`t set the bar
particularly high here, into you this author has a rap sheet, as you have
already set up, as long as my arm.
And we did a 7,000-word report for Media Matters today. We found ten
instances of really seriously botched journalism, and retractions,
corrections, media getting burned by picking up this material, and these
weren`t our words, but people saying sources that don`t exist and facts
that don`t check out, and not meeting the standards of journalism 101.
So, I think you have the journalistic story, and then you have the
political story that you`ve covered, which is to say this is much more of a
coordinated political attack than it is a typical book tour.
MADDOW: In terms of the way this -- the way this campaign is shaping up,
it is very unusual to have a de facto nominee pre-primary on the Democratic
side. That may change, but for right now, it looks like with a 50-point
lead over anybody else, she is the de facto nominee.
And this weekend in New Hampshire, there were, I kid you not, 21 Republican
candidates in appearance at one of the Republican forums, there are so many
How is that going to drive the part of this process that is paying for
opposition research? I mean, back in your conservative days, you were one
of the hired hands on the anti-Clinton oppo-research side. How do you
think that`s going to be, how do you think that`s going to work this year
with this dynamic?
BROCK: Sure, yes. I mean, that`s right. That I was once involved in what
was correctly called the vast right-wing conspiracies, but "Atlantic"
recently updated that to say a right-wing conglomerate. I think that`s
what we have right now.
Now, the Republican strategy here is very clear to me, which is they do
this all the time. They take the good works of someone, in this case the
good works of the Clinton Foundation and try to turn it into a liability.
So, what we are seeing is swift boats docking early. This is a political
campaign. It`s very sophisticated. They have briefed Marco Rubio. They
briefed Rand Paul.
But I would say if those folks think that a winning political strategy is
attacking a foundation that`s done things like so much to stop the AIDS
epidemic in Africa -- let`s have at it.
MADDOW: David Brock, founder of Media Matters, thanks very much for your
time tonight, David. Nice to see you.
BROCK: Thank you.
MADDOW: All right. Much more ahead. We`ll be right back. Stay with us.
MADDOW: This is an exciting programming note. Tomorrow night on this very
network, my colleague Chris Matthews has a big exclusive interview. He
has, in fact, the big exclusive interview that everybody wants. Tomorrow
night, Chris Matthews will be interviewing President Obama, a one on one
Mr. Matthews will sit down with President Obama tomorrow. You can catch
the full interview tomorrow night on HARDBALL at 7:00 Eastern Time, again
tomorrow night at 7:00.
Don`t miss it, huge deal. We`ll be right back.
MADDOW: Do you have any friends that are active in Republican politics?
Your friends are probably very excited right now, specifically tonight,
because there`s news tonight about what everybody considers to be the very
important invisible primary this year among Republican presidential
hopeful. The invisible primary is not for real voters. It`s for the love
and affection and money of the billionaire Koch brothers.
That all-important primary may now be over. The Koch brothers,
billionaires of them all in Republican politics, appear to have chosen
their candidate for 2016 and it is Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker. That`s
the reporting from Nick Confessore tonight at "The New York Times."
Governor Walker and David Koch both spoke at a gathering of top Republican
donors in New York City today. And according to two people who were there,
Mr. Koch told that group of donors, quote, "We will support whoever the
candidate is, but it should be Scott Walker."
The sound you are hearing is champagne corks popping in every corner of
Scott Walker-ville. He won billionaire bingo apparently and he hasn`t even
announced his candidacy yet. Might be time to get on that.
We`ll be right back.
MADDOW: Here`s something to watch: next week, the Supreme Court`s going to
hear a couple of blockbuster cases. The one that`s gotten the most
attention so far is the one about same-sex marriage. That case
theoretically could result in marriage equality all across the country, all
50 states, or the opposite. The court hears that case on Tuesday.
But then the very next day, Wednesday of next week, the court`s going to
hear a second blockbuster case on the death penalty. The court is going to
hear a challenge about the way states kill prisoners now, lethal
injections. So, those arguments happen on Wednesday.
Heading into that case, a few states have put the breaks on the death
penalty and stopped killing prisoners for the time being, Florida, Alabama,
Oklahoma. They`ve all put executions on hold ahead of this big case next
Even among states that don`t want to be hold, that want to keep executing
people ahead of that court case, those states are finding that they can`t
get the drugs they want to use for lethal injections, by hook or by crook,
they just can`t get them. It`s getting desperate.
First, it was the companies that make the drugs. They stopped shipping
them to prisons saying the prisons were deliberately misusing those
pharmaceuticals by using them for executions. Some turned to compounding
pharmacies, which handmixed drugs in small batches, compounding pharmacies
used to make drugs for patients who might need a particular medicine but
maybe you have some allergy to one of the ingredients that used as a filler
in the drug. So maybe they`ll make you a batch of the drug without that
filler in it. A compounding pharmacy can come in handy in a case like
But compounding drugs is a delicate business with life and death
consequences. And there has been trouble in that industry over the past
few years. In 2012, there was a huge problem. A compounding pharmacy in
Massachusetts sent out contaminated batches of steroids that were meant for
spinal injections. That botched medication gave hundreds of people fungal
meningitis all over the country, from New Hampshire to Idaho. Dozens of
In December, the federal government arrested 14 people associated with that
compounding pharmacy in 131-count criminal indictment. They charged the
two top executives from the firm with murder. Yes, that Massachusetts
case, and other recent instances of the compounding pharmacies running into
the sharpened of the law, it has made for a bad patch for the compounding
Perhaps sensing that their industry was in need of an image upgrade, so
people stopped thinking of them like this, late last month, the leading
trade group for compounding pharmacist in the U.S. announced that just like
the drug industry had stopped providing prisons with drugs to kill people
and executions, compounding pharmacies should opt out of that process too.
That was the new message from the compounding pharmacist association. Stop
making drugs for killing prisoners.
So, the states are really up against it now. States can`t buy drugs to
kill prisoners from the drugs manufacturers. Increasingly, they can`t go
with the plan B either, where the get compounding pharmacies to make them
the drugs. So, states that want to kill their prisoners by injecting them
with pharmaceuticals, they`re getting to be out of options here, almost.
But look at this. This is amazing.
This is an inventory of the drugs on hand at the Mississippi execution
chamber. You can see right there. Pentobarbital sodium power.
Pentobarbital is one of the drugs they use to kill prisoners for lethal
injection, but not as a powder. You have to be able to inject it, it has
to be liquid, right?
Well, Mississippi for some reason has it on hand in powder form. But if
you wanted to inject it into somebody to kill them, you have to get it
mixed into injectable form by a pharmacy, right? With pharmacies getting
out of that kind of business, who`s going to do that work for Mississippi?
Who`s going to cook them up that drug and why do they have the active
ingredient on hand in a different form?
Today, we learned about a new court filing raising the super provocative
prospect that the state of Mississippi has been thinking about home brewing
their own execution drugs. This new legal challenge says the state either
intends to mix the stuff up itself for the next prisoner were there does
not appear to be a compounding pharmacy, or maybe they plan to send that
raw ingredient for the drug which they have obtained, maybe they`re going
to send that raw ingredient to God knows what pharmacy if the state can
find one that`s still willing to do that work.
So, prisoners challenging Mississippi plan to kill them have now been able
to figure out that Mississippi has raw drug making ingredients stashed at
the prison but not the drugs themselves. They`re on hand at the prison
where they kill people. The prospect is therefore raised that Mississippi
is going to make home brewed lethal injection drugs.
As the Supreme Court gets ready to hear a case that could get rid of the
whole, chaotic, collapsed, increasingly impossible system of lethal
injection, that apparently is the one way that one state is trying to get
around of the hurdles.
On tomorrow night`s show, we`re going to have an exclusive report on
something even more radical that one other state is about to try, something
no other state has done ever. But one pioneering state has cooked up
something even more intense than Mississippi allegedly trying to home-make
their own injectable drugs. The story is strange, it is exclusive and it
will be here tomorrow night on a little show that we call THE RACHEL MADDOW
That does it for us tonight. We will see you again tomorrow.
Now, it`s time for "THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL."
Good evening, Lawrence.
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