'The Melissa Harris-Perry Show' for Sunday, April 12th, 2015
Read the transcript to the Sunday show
Show: MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY
Date: April 12, 2015
Guest: Khalil Gibran Muhammad, Soledad O`Brien, Neera Tanden, Robert
Traynham, Bakari Sellers, Cherrell Brown
MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY, MSNBC HOST: This morning my question, ladies, is it
time to negotiate for a raise? Plus my letter of the week is going to
Kansas. And what happens when the police lie?
But first, it seems she is running -- again.
Good morning. I`m Melissa Harris-Perry. This morning we have breaking
news! Come on, put that away, put that away. This is not breaking news.
In fact, let me see. No, it hasn`t happened yet. Latest tweet is still
from April 8th about the death of Walter Scott in South Carolina. But
probably any second, today may be the day for the big news. Come on. This
is something we`ve all been expecting for months, even years.
Former first lady, former U.S. senator, former presidential candidate and
former secretary of state Hillary Clinton is expected to make a big
announcement on Twitter any minute now. And unless she`s about to drop her
secret new album with a hit track featuring Jay Z, nobody will be caught
off guard by what she has to say.
Despite making statements about when she will decide, Secretary Clinton has
clearly been mounting a campaign for the presidency of the United States
for some time now. The Clinton 2016 campaign almost feels like it`s been
in the works since the day after President Obama`s re-election in November
Sharp political observers could not miss the beginning stages of the
campaign structure this past February as counselor to the president John
Podesta and communications director Jen Palmieri both left their jobs in
the White House to work presumably for the then-not official, still
technically not official, Clinton campaign.
After that the not-yet-official campaign made headlines when it leased a
campaign office in downtown Brooklyn, just two subway stops away from wall
STREET. That`s when the FEC became a factor. You see, the Federal Election
Commission has rules saying that once you`ve done something as official as
leasing a campaign office space, you have about two weeks to file paperwork
that says yes, it is official, you are running for president. So the final
countdown began. Within a few days, speculation about when and where it
would happen narrowed until we eventually found ourselves here,
participating in this very strange post-modern election ritual of
refreshing a Twitter page, you know, live on television over and over.
Nope, still hasn`t happened yet. But let`s keep going.
Following the Twitter announcement, we expected video, perhaps not unlike
the one we saw in 2008.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HILLARY CLINTON, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: Forming a presidential
exploratory committee. I`m not just starting a campaign, I`m beginning a
conversation with you, with America, because we all need to be part of the
discussion if we`re all going to be part of the solution.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: Then, as now, she will enter the Democratic field as the far
and away presumed front-runner. When she announced in 2007, she led the
man in second place, then-Senator Barack Obama, by 24 points among
Democrats. This time around she will enter the field 54 points above her
two closest competitors. And as far as we know, neither of them are even
So what of the rest of the field that is running? Small as it is, there
are, in fact, some folks who will be coming at Mrs. Clinton from one
consistent place; her left. To her left on foreign policy is former
Republican-turned-independent-turned-Democrat Lincoln Chafee. He told my
colleague, Lawrence O`Donnell, that Hillary Clinton is disqualified from
the party`s nomination for one reason.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FORMER GOV. LINCOLN CHAFEE (D), RHODE ISLAND: To make this decision to go
into Iraq was just so bad that I will stick with what I said, whether it`s
John Kerry or Joe Biden or Hillary Clinton.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: And to her domestic policy left is Martin O`Malley, the
former governor of Maryland. This week he sat down in Des Moines, Iowa,
with MSNBC`s Ari Melber and said this about his own party`s relationship
with Wall Street.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FORMER GOV. MARTIN O`MALLEY (D), MARYLAND: I think our Democratic Party has
come up short. People expected us to put some common sense regulations in
place. There are more repercussions for a person being a chronic speeding
violator in our country than there is for a big bank being a chronic
violator of SEC rules.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: But perhaps the largest challenger to Hillary Clinton is the
one who is not running against her. I`m, of course, talking about Senator
Elizabeth Warren who, despite unequivocal pronouncements that she won`t run
for president, has inspired a movement among economic populous in the
Democratic base. With her bold support for things like student debt reform
and expanding Social Security, Senator Warren has been the star of the
party`s liberal base whether she wants to be or not.
Grassroots movements like Ready For Warren have sprouted up to urge the
senator from Massachusetts to run. Everyone on the Left from moveon.org to
New York`s working family`s party to actor Mark Ruffalo have called on
Warren to get into the race. And perhaps because Warren has made it clear
she will not heed those calls, that she will not run, there is a rallying
on the Left for Hillary Clinton to introduce herself in a new way, a
movement for Hillary Clinton to embrace the populist issues that will
excite the Democratic base. And so we wait.
Control room, can you hit refresh just one more time? Nope, not yet. But
later today when Hillary Clinton tries one more time after 23 years in the
national spotlight to reintroduce herself, it will be interesting to see
just who she turns out to be and whether Hillary 4.0 can sustain momentum
all the way to the White House.
Joining me now, Soledad O`Brien, award-winning journalist and CEO of
Starfish Media Group, Neera Tanden, president of the Center for American
Progress and Robert Trayhnam, MSNBC contributor and former Bush/Cheney
Nice to have you all here.
SOLEDAD O`BRIEN, CEO, STARFISH MEDIA GROUP: Thank you so much.
NEERA TANDEN, PRESIDENT, CENTER FOR AMERICAN PROGRESS: Morning.
HARRIS-PERRY: Neera, I feel like I have to start with you. Tell me, why is
Hillary likely running for president?
TANDEN: I imagine it`s because she thinks the country still has challenges
and she thinks that she`s the best person to solve them. She will, I
think, today talk a little bit about her vision for the country and
continuing challenges we have of rising income inequality, stagnant wages,
squeezes on the middle class and people who are trying to get into the
middle class. But I think mostly we`ll hear from her in the coming weeks
about those issues. But really, she`ll also hear from American people
about the challenges they`re facing. So she`s not new to politics, but
these are different times.
HARRIS-PERRY: That is perhaps the understatement of the entire week.
TANDEN: Is it?
HARRIS-PERRY: She is not new to politics.
TANDEN: She`s definitely not new to politics and there are values that
she`s held for a very long time, but these are new times and it`s important
for her to discuss where she would take the country in the future.
HARRIS-PERRY: It`s interesting. This idea of Hillary Clinton being not new
to politics, but she holds honorific of secretary of state and of first
lady and of senator, that she has a very, very long track record.
But Soledad, I wonder, part of what we`ve seen for people who successfully
become the president on the Democratic side is actually people who are not
very well-known at this point in an election cycle because part of what a
campaign is meant to be is a learning curve. You want to be somewhat known
but not calcified, people either love or dislike her. But very few people,
except maybe for millennials, just don`t know her. Part of what I`m
wondering is if she does have the capacity to reintroduce herself.
O`BRIEN: First of all, she would do wonders if she actually did announce
she was dropping a track with Jay Z.
HARRIS-PERRY: Oh yeah, man. That would be amazing.
O`BRIEN: That would be so ridiculously game-changing and it would make all
the Washington, D.C. reporters have to start talking about rap.
HARRIS-PERRY: Maybe next year.
And that would be news. We would just stop whatever was happening on MHP
O`BRIEN: I think truly that would be a game-changer. You`re pointing out
the biggest challenge which is there is an upside and a downside to being
well-known in Washington and people`s opponents obviously use that against
them, right? It becomes you`re an insider, it`s problematic. She even said
as you rolled the tape, "I want to have a conversation with America." This
person has been in politics for a long time, kind of late in the game to
have a conversation in 2008. Well, here is something similar. It`s a
reframing. I think this stage is always about here is who I am, what you
think you know is not necessarily the thing that I`m pitching. I ma now
reframing the debate as x. Look at her web page, wife, mom, lawyer, women
and kid`s advocate. I will take money from anyone on this table who wants
to tell me that`s how she`s reframing herself. Wife, mom, children`s
HARRIS-PERRY: Right. Nor, by the way, do I think that - I mean, you know,
the average guy is not husband/dad. Usually husband/dad show up later in
the Twitter bio. There is one interesting reframing that I`ve noticed. So
in 2008 the discourse was "Hillary for president." Makes sense. This
time, apparently, it will be "Hillary for America." And I wonder just,
Robert, about that, that slightest reframing, still kind of the
commonality. You know me, I`m Hillary, I`m your girl, right, I`m your
friend. Instead of being about for me for president, this time it is about
for you, for America.
ROBERT TRAYNHAM, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Right. What`s interesting about all of
this is, and Neera and Soledad alluded to it, this has been a 25-year
conversation we`ve been having with Hillary Clinton as relates to her being
on the public stage. The question becomes is what Hillary Clinton do we
know? What Hillary Clinton do we have a relationship with? Is it Hillary
Clinton, the former First Lady of the United States, secretary of state,
senator, even former first lady of Arkansas? The question becomes is, and I
think this will be central to her argument whether or not she gets the
nomination, which I think she is, is look, at the end of the day women will
probably vote for her in large numbers, there is no doubt about it. The
question becomes is whether or not they come out to vote, according to the
HARRIS-PERRY: I want to pause this on that because I actually think this is
among the Democrat`s biggest confusion problems. There is not a gender gap
toward the Democratic Party. There is a racialized gender gap. White
women chose McCain and chose Romney in clear majorities. It was only
because African-American women and Latinas were overwhelmingly in support
of President Obama that that gender gap appears at all.
TANDEN: That`s true. But there`s a gender gap between white women and white
men, but not as large. There is a gender gap between white women and white
men and there is a question of whether a woman running for president would
ensure that more white women, more women --
O`BRIEN: People vote for individuals. You can`t sort of just do the math
on it and say Democratic versus Republican. You have to say who are the
TRAYNHAM: Here is the political dilemma that Mrs. Clinton finds herself in.
The last time that a third presidency was announced and won, meaning the
incumbent political party that won the White House, was back in 1988, that
was George H.W. Bush, the Reagan third term.
HARRIS-PERRY: Right. But this is coming directly out of --
TRAYNHAM: And two other quick things. That was the first time since world
War II. So it`s very, very, very difficult. So the question becomes is
whether or not Hillary Clinton is going to have a separate conversation
about economic rights, about economic equality and so forth.
HARRIS-PERRY: Have you been reading the rundown? Because I swear, that`s
where we`re going next. I want to talk a little about Hillary Clinton -
HARRIS-PERRY: We`re not done with Hills just yet. But as we go, I do want
to take a look because I think, perhaps the single best thing about Hillary
Clinton likely announcing her run for the U.S. presidency today is that now
SNL is just going to have such great material. We saw it last night.
Let`s take a look at that as we go out.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Since we`re announcing your candidacy via social
media, we thought it would be fun if you actually filmed the video yourself
on your own phone.
Maybe soften a little. A little more. Maybe a lot more. Great. And
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Citizens, you will elect me, I will be your leader.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: I have a whole script I`m going to read in just a second
about Social Security, but before I do that, there has been a whole Neera
Tanden/Robert Traynham show going on in the commercial. We need a moment
with you two. We left on a word that I, in part, introduced into the
conversation and I don`t want to lead just yet, which is this language of
polarizing. I introduced in the conversation is often used. I promise
I`ll introduce my new guest, all that, in a moment. But I would like to
hear from the two of you a little bit (INAUDIBLE) commercial break, this
insight about -- for you, Neera, you`re saying it`s wrong for us to be
thinking about Hillary Clinton as polarizing.
TANDEN: Right, because I think what`s fascinating about this is her numbers
today, her negative-positive numbers, she has higher favorabilities and
lower negatives than every Republican candidate running today. We don`t
just roll (INAUDIBLE) Jeb Bush is polarizing, even though she has higher
positives. There was a great "New York Times" piece this week, people just
say politicians are polarizing, thinking it may have some impact
(INAUDIBLE) women when we do that. But the facts are that she`s less
polarizing than anyone running.
TRAYNHAM: Here is why. And Neera has a good point, but there`s a caveat to
that. The reason why she`s less polarizing today in the political
spectrum, she hasn`t taken positions on anything such as controversial as
immigration or Jeb Bush has, or common core..
TANDEN: That`s not true. She supported immigration -
TRAYNHAM: Let me -
HARRIS-PERRY: So let me - No, go ahead, Robert, and then I`m going to jump
TRAYNHAM: But to give context to the whole entire conversation, I brought
it up, I said what`s interesting about this is is that from a branding
standpoint, in my opinion, Hillary Clinton, the last time a presidential
candidate has been reintroduced so many times, as Richarard Nixon from a
historical standpoint, that`s an interesting conversation to have. And so
the question then becomes, as I said before, what Hillary Clinton is going
to show up in a couple of weeks when she announces for president? Soledad
mentioned a few moments ago, wife, mom, lawyer -- Clearly she`s rebranding
herself as someone that`s a softer individual that`s being reintroduced to
the American people.
HARRIS-PERRY: Right. But the one thing I want to say I when I say
polarizing, I just want to be clear what I mean by that, which is just I
think there are three categories. One category is positives,
favorabilities, one is unfavorable and then one is simply don`t know. One
of the reasons she has higher net favorabilities is because there`s still a
large proportion of Americans who have not yet had any feelings about many
of the Republican candidates. My issue is that people either feel very
strongly or very negatively about her. For me, it literally is about an
issue, it`s a descriptive term of being at the polls as opposed to having
the middle. Okay, I promise, we`ll stay on this.
But I want to introduce everyone that`s on the table. If you have watched
this season`s "House of Cards" then you know that the fictional Democratic
president of the hit Netflix series, Frank Underwood, kicked off his
unlikely presidency and bid for re-election by doing something long
considered unthinkable in D.C. He sets out to slash Social Security.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The programs that you want to scale back or dismantle
are the bedrock of the American dream. You work hard, you pay your taxes --
KEVIN SPACEY, "HOUSE OF CARDS": No, I`m sorry. They were the bedrock of
the American dream, but they`re not anymore, certainly not for the 10
million people who out of work.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Practically speaking, a thousand special interests,
organized labor, opposition in both parties, we can do a version of what
SPACEY: I don`t want a version. I want a vision.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: "House of Cards" is, thank goodness, not an accurate
representation of policy making in the Capitol. But there is a movement
afoot to rethink the entire Social Security question, not in a Frank
Underwood entitlement reform way, but instead in a fully progressive `let`s
change the whole discourse` kind of way. A new crop of activists are making
the case that Social Security should be expanded. They`re pressing the
any-moment-to-be-declared Democratic candidate for the presidency, Hillary
Clinton, to embrace a position that Senator Elizabeth Warren took back in
November of 2013.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D), MASSACHUSETTS: Seniors have worked their entire
lives and have paid into this system but right now more people than ever
are on the edge of financial disaster once they retire and the numbers
continue to get worse. That is why we should be talking about expanding
Social Security benefits, not cutting them.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: I want to bring two more people to the discussion. Here in
New York, Nancy Altman, co-author of the book "Social Security Works: Why
Social Security Isn`t Going Broke and How Expanding It Will Help Us All,"
and from Washington, Veronique de Rugy whose article for the National
Review this week is entitled "Are Democrats Going to Try to Buy Votes With
Ridiculous Promises to Expand Social Security?"
So, Veronique, let me go to you. Are Democrats going to try to buy votes
with ridiculous attempt to expand Social Security?
VERONIQUE DE RUGY, SENIOR RESEARCH FELLOW, GEORGE MASON UNIVERSITY: I think
the jury is still out on this one because I think there`s a group within
the Democratic Party who is clearly talking about this. I think the center
of the Democratic Party isn`t there. After all, President Obama has been
putting on the table some proposals to scale back the growth of benefits.
I think there are a lot of Left-center organizations who are very much
aware and sounding the alarm about the insolvency of the program. It`s
going to be kind of interesting to watch the battle between those two
HARRIS-PERRY: Hold for me. Nancy, whenever I hear someone say the
insolvency of the program, I think, well, this is the easiest problem we
have to solve. Right? You simply increase the cap on which Social Security
can be taken out, so instead of stopping at 118, you know, everybody pays
it to 200 or 250 or something
And the other thing was when we look at the charts about poverty, the only
group for whom we have had anything that looks like a solution to poverty
are the elderly, who we`ve seen their poverty rates drop, they`re the only
people in 2009, 10 didn`t see an increase in poverty and all of it is
Social Security. Why wouldn`t we make it universal, basically?
NANCY ALTMAN, CO-AUTHOR, "SOCIAL SECURITY WORKS": Well, it is universal,
and it should be expanded.
HARRIS-PERRY: Expanded, yes.
ALTMAN: I`m glad was here for the conversation about polarization because
American people are polarized about many, many issues but the one issue
they`re not polarized about is Social Security. They understand it`s more
important than ever and that it should be expanded. 79 percent of likely
voters have said in polls they favor expanding Social Security. It`s also
profoundly wise policy. It`s common to call it a problem. Social Security
is a solution. It`s a solution to a moving retirement income crisis. It`s
a solution to income inequality. Back in the 1920s when we had this income
inequality, we enacted the minimum wage and Social Security. Now it`s time
to raise the minimum wage and raise Social Security.
HARRIS-PERRY: So Soledad, why would Hillary Clinton make this a central
campaign issue if no one runs against her? Right? Part of what`s happening
is people are saying Elizabeth Warren said this, but if no one is running,
if there`s no Democratic primary, why would she move to the Left?
O`BRIEN: I think it`s partly those statistics, right, you`re talking about
an issue that, in some ways, the American voters feel very strongly about.
I do think, I mean, the title of that long article about will they
basically try to get votes from people by going to something that voters
really like -- so that`s my version of the title of that. I think that`s
one reason and I think she`s going to have to.
Elizabeth Warren could make things very tricky for Hillary Clinton. If you
listen to what she has said, right, she`s like, well, she hasn`t said she`s
running yet and I guess I`ll have to see what she has to say on some very
important issues which means, as always, I want to hear what she
specifically delineates about the issues that I feel very, very strongly
about, Hill, before you go on the record, you might want to call me.
HARRIS-PERRY: Hold on for me, everybody. We`ll stay on this topic.
Veronique, stick with us in D.C. We`re going to come back, we`re going to
talk more Hillary Clinton who hasn`t announced just yet, but any moment now
and more on Social Security.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CLINTON: I do not want to fix the problems of Social Security on the backs
of middle class families and seniors. If you lift the cap completely, that
is a $1 trillion tax increase. I don`t think we need to do that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: That was Hillary Clinton in 2007 during a debate in the
presidential primary back when Democrats had presidential primaries. So
let me come back to you, Veronique, on this. We heard candidate Clinton at
that time saying she didn`t want to raise that cap which is, again, many on
the Left suggest that as a kind of solution. She says, look, it
constitutes a tax increase.
DE RUGY: It`s a major tax increase, it is. It wouldn`t actually fix the
overall problem of insolvency. Just to give you an idea of the scale, the
program is running a cash flow deficit since 2010 which means the payroll
tax doesn`t cover all the benefits and will never again unless we raise the
payroll tax a significant amount. But worse, the benefits can only be paid
using the trust fund as long as there`s a balance. That trust fund is
going to be empty in 2034. What it means is then the program will revert
to a pay-as-you-go and will only be able to pay benefits to the level of
taxes that it collects. That means a 25 percent, roughly, cut to benefits
and who is going to be hurting the most is poor people. The cumulative gap
between promises and tax rates over 75 years is over $10 trillion which,
even for Washington, is big. If you extend it to infinity, it`s over $25
trillion. There is a problem -- the imbalance means the program is going
to have to be reformed.
HARRIS-PERRY: Okay. So I get that that is one side of it. I do want to
point out that others really do see these numbers differently.
Neera, you wanted to jump?
TANDEN: First of all, I`d just like to clarify that Hillary did talk about
a shared set of responsibilities just at $250,000 and above. She was
concerned about lifting the payroll cap between $100,000 to $215,000.
HARRIS-PERRY: And we`re talking eight years ago.
TANDEN: And we`re talking awhile ago. And we`ll see what she does going
forward. She was talking about people paying their fair share into the
system and protecting middle class folks. But I would say Social Security
is a fascinating issue we`ve gone back and forth on over the last couple
years. Republicans, as part of an austerity agenda, have wanted to cut
Social Security. They use these scare tactics of $25 trillion over
Honestly, just listening to this, what does that mean? $25 trillion over
infinity. This is a problem we should address. There are reasonable steps
we can take. The scare tactics of $25 trillion over infinity or $10
trillion, et cetera, there are reasonable steps you can take too address
the payroll cap, have people pay their fare share and solve this problem.
We have problems today like rising inequality and challenges of poverty.
We should be thinking about ways we can address them as well.
HARRIS-PERRY: So let`s talk about it.
ALTMAN: We are the wealthiest nation in the world and we are at the
wealthiest moment in our history. There`s no question we can afford Social
Security. It`s approximately 6 percent of our GDP going out through the
21st century. Many other industrialized countries spend much more on their
counterpart programs than we do today. In fact, they spend more on their
children as well. The question is one of values and priorities and
choices. This election, the American people will finally, I hope, have a
choice. Governor Martin O`Malley has come out strongly for expanding
Social Security, Senator Bernie Sanders, who reportedly will run, has come
out for expanding Social Security. All the Republican candidates from the
Senate are now on record against expanding Social Security. Virtually all
the Democrats in the Senate and the House of Representatives are there.
The question is where will Hillary Clinton be if she comes out for expand,
the American people will finally have a choice.
TRAYNHAM: Melissa, I know you`re out of time, very quickly, the frustration
I have with this, and I just wrote a note done, there`s no shared set of
facts. I think we all know --
HARRIS-PERRY: No, no, there is.
TRAYNHAM: No, there isn`t.
HARRIS-PERRY: There really is a shared set of facts that if you raise the
payroll cap, if instead of saying after $118,000 of income you no longer
have to pay into Social Security, if you raise that, then these issues
about the deficit go away for the very long foreseeable term that is
shorter than infinity. That does constitute a tax increase, a tax increase
on a particular set of people and as soon as you start talking about taxes,
it is an issue of values about whether or not we think we should increase
taxes for that purpose. It`s not a fact problem. We know if you raise it,
you have solvency.
TRAYNHAM: What we know is that Social Security either needs to be
strengthened or saved or whatever you want to say.
ALTMAN: It`s a solution.
TRAYNHAM: What we can agree on is whether or not it`s really going to be
insolvent in 2033 or whatever the figure.
ALTMAN: There is no disagreement on the facts. The trustees put out a
report every single year and those --
HARRIS-PERRY: It`s like saying there`s a disagreement about climate change.
There just isn`t. The question is whether or not you think we should
address it by raising taxes.
DE RUGY: Can I --
HARRIS-PERRY: Veronique, I promise, we will have you back to talk about
this. I`m just simply out of town. Veronique de Rugy in Washington. I
would love for you to be able to, next time you are able to come to New
York, I`m hot and passionate about Social Security, would love to continue
DE RUGY: I`d like your panel to talk about how unfair it is.
HARRIS-PERRY: I`m sorry, nobody in the panel is going to say anything
either. Here in New York, I want to say thank you to Nancy Altman.
Up next, we`re going to talk to the ladies about the fact that it may be
time to ask for a raise.
HARRIS-PERRY: The gender wage gap is a complicated phenomenon, but at least
part of the reason women on average make less money than men do is because
of what happens at the negotiating table. We know women are far less
likely to negotiate for better compensation than men are. We know when
women do negotiate, they suffer a social cost that men do not. They`re seen
as not nice enough or too demanding. There`s been a lot of suggestions for
women on how to close the negotiation gap. Lean in, speak up, ask for it!
But the interim CEO of social media site Reddit, Ellen Pao, has another
tactic. She`s banned any pay negotiation for prospective employees. She
told "The Wall Street Journal" this week, quote, "Men negotiate harder than
women do and sometimes women get penalized when they do negotiate. So as
part of our recruiting process, we don`t negotiate with candidates. We
aren`t going to reward people who are better negotiators with more
Joining the table now to talk about whether it`s a good idea is Dolly Chugh
who is Assistant Professor of Management and Organizations at NYU`s Stern
School of Business.
So Dolly, what do you make of this, alright, we will generate a gender
equality by saying no negotiation?
DOLLY CHUGH, ASSISTANT PROFESSOR, NEW YORK UNIVERSITY: It`s bold and gutsy.
I love that. What we`re dealing with here often is unintentional bias.
Those things aren`t going to go away by us just hoping they do. We need
bold and gutsy experiments. I think that`s what this is. This is an
experiment. What I want to see her do is track the data. And what I want
to see the next CEO that`s bold and gutsy do is something crazier. I want
to see them mandate that everybody negotiate. That would be an interesting
direction. Instead of mandating that nobody negotiate, what would happen if
we said everybody needs to make the case?
HARRIS-PERRY: It`s an interesting way to go. When I was teaching at
Princeton University, I had this incredible woman president, Shirley
Tillman, and part of what she did was mandate parental leave for both the
men and women on faculty so you couldn`t be punished for taking parental
leave. Everybody had to take it. I wonder -- this kind of approach,
versus a lean-in approach that just tells women to do better.
O`BRIEN: I love the mandating because one, I think you should judge people
on their ability to go in and advocate for themselves in an interview. I
like that. Now I`m in a position, I run a company, I hire people all the
time. No. 2, I think we see in the data that women have to learn to become
better negotiators and lean in does approach it. I don`t think you can put
it all on the lap of do better, somehow over come systemic bias in the
system all by yourself. But what you do see is that when people negotiate -
First of all, the statistics show men go in and start negotiating. 7
percent of women, something like 50 percent of men. Just negotiate. So No.
1, women have to think about that. No. 2, from personal experience and
some of the data you see, you have to learn how to negotiate. I`ve had
people come in and say, listen, I want a raise because I`ve been here for x
number of years. It doesn`t work like that. You have to say here is my
value, how do you hit my bottom line.
TANDEN: The worry I have about mandating or negotiating or saying to women
you need to do more in the spaces, I worry that women do get punished. You
know, if you mandate negotiating, then the women are negotiating, the men
are negotiating. But if you still have a system in which women who
negotiate are looked at as hyper-aggressive or rude or mean, then they`re
still going to be punished in that system.
I think the challenge we have is there`s really a cultural problem in the
workplace. I have women who work for me and men who work for me, and
they`re all great. But the men do negotiate a lot tougher, and we all have
-- in different workplaces, women can be punished even when they do the
exact same thing a man does. So we have to change that -
O`BRIEN: -- talk about likability, the thing back in fourth grade. In the
workplace, we`re still assessing, do they like me?
HARRIS-PERRY: But for me, I`m always, when I get to this moment in the
conversation I always think, okay, but what about all the women we are
leaving out of this story through this kind of class bias? I think about
undocumented immigrant women who are doing the domestic labor at home for
the women who are leaning in at the workplace negotiating and if they try
to negotiate, we know they are vulnerable to all kind of negative
externalities. So I also wonder about building in kind of broader,
structural fairness questions.
CHUGH: Absolutely. And I think we also, as researchers, we need to build in
a richer understanding and start teasing out this backlash effect that you
so beautifully summarized. The backlash effect is not true for all women.
Likability -- there`s great research that`s been done that shows that the
agency penalty, the assertiveness penalty, is true for white women, it`s
true for black men, it`s not as true for black women that in fact, this is
one of those cases where the stereotype actually weirdly enough works for
HARRIS-PERRY: Don`t make me go get angry black woman out of my back pocket.
You don`t want me to go get her.
CHUGH: So there`s plenty of times where the woman of color may be
overassumed to be assertive when she`s not. But in some ways it can work in
TANDEN: It`s also important to address the issues that lower income women
face. One of the challenges we have in our society today is that the
people who have the most resources, higher income women and men, get paid
leave, get sick days. So people who are at the bottom end or even in the
middle income have no paid leave, very little access to sick days. That`s
why we also have to ensure that we have those benefits for everyone.
HARRIS-PERRY: We have one more woman we`re going to talk about when we come
back. When we come back, #setthedate, because it is 155 days and counting.
Thank you, Dolly Chugh.
CHUGH: Thank you. Thanks for having me.
HARRIS-PERRY: It has been 155 days since President Obama nominated Loretta
Lynch to replace Eric Holder as the next U.S. Attorney General. After all
that time, the Senate Republicans, in other words, the Senate majority
leader, Mitch McConnell, have refused to hold a vote to confirm her.
It started back in November, November 8 to be exact, President Obama`s
historic nomination would make Loretta Lynch the first African-American
woman to hold the post. Now the story is shadowed by a different type of
historical relevance. At 155 days, Lynch has waited longer than any cabinet
nominee in the last three administrations. By tomorrow when the Senate
returned from Easter recess, Lynch`s wait time will be longer than the
eight previous AG nominees combined.
For this reason we have had our eye on Senator McConnell, the person who
has the power to call a vote, which is why we called his office twice this
week asking if the Senate has plans to set the date. On Thursday we were
told that Senator McConnell had made no announce. We called again on
Friday, McConnell spokesman, Michael Brumas, sent us statement via e-mail.
"The only thing holding up the Lynch vote is the Democrats` filibuster of a
human trafficking bill that would help prevent kids from being sold into
sex slavery. The sooner they allow the Senate to pass that bipartisan
bill, the sooner the Senate can move to the Lynch nomination."
There you go. No Loretta Lynch confirmation until there`s a vote on this
bill. Now, I`ve said it before, but maybe it bears repeating. The
confirmation of Loretta Lynch has nothing to do with the substance of the
human trafficking bill. But Senate Republicans insist they can`t move
forward until they pass the bill, known as the Justice For Victims of
Trafficking Act of 2015. Democrats are blocking the bill over an abortion
funding provision that they say Republicans tucked in to restrict the use
of fines paid as restitution for funding abortions for survivors.
Meanwhile, Republicans have shot back that the amendment language has been
in the bill all along. Again, none of this has actually anything to do
with Loretta Lynch. But until it`s resolved, Lynch remains caught in the
crossfire that has left the two-time Harvard-degree-earning U.S. attorney
in political purgatory.
Up next, we`ll take a closer look at that human trafficking bill that`s
clogging up the Senate and delaying this historic vote.
HARRIS-PERRY: Senator Mitch McConnell`s office says there will be no vote
to confirm Loretta Lynch as our next attorney general until the Senate
breaks an impasse over a human trafficking bill. That bill is known as the
Justice For Victims of Trafficking Act.
So what`s in it? It would fund law enforcement initiatives and specialized
training to identify victims and acts of human trafficking, expand
immigrations and customs enforcements mandate to fight cybercrime and
establish anti-child human trafficking law enforcement units to investigate
child human trafficking offenses and to recuse the victims.
So joining the table now is Malika Saada Saar who helped to craft the
original bill and "T" Ortiz Walk Pettegrew, a trafficking survivor and
Still with us, Neera Tanden and Robert Traynham.
So let me go to you first, Malika. We`ve heard so much about this bill, but
nothing about it, right?
MALIKA SAADA SAAR, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, HUMAN RIGHTS PROJECT FOR GIRLS:
HARRIS-PERRY: It just keeps being the thing. So tell me why it`s important.
SAADA SAAR: First and foremost, this is a child trafficking bill. We have
at least 100,000 American children who are bought and sold for sex every
day in this country. The majority of them are girls between the ages of 12
to 14 and they are girls of color disproportionately. What plays out is
that when our girls are bought and sold for sex, there is a culture of
impunity for purchasing girls. Those individuals, those so-called Johns
who buy children for sex, are rarely arrested and when they are arrested,
it`s for misdemeanor solicitation. It is not for something more serious,
even though what these individuals do to these children in any other
context would be considered statutory rope, sexual assault of a minor.
HARRIS-PERRY: Yeah, I was going to say. Isn`t it already illegal? So part
of what I want you to help me with here is, aren`t these actions already
illegal actions? What is it that this bill does that`s unique as a
SAADA SAAR: It ends impunity for buyers, right, because the focus on
culpability in the law has been the traffickers.
HARRIS-PERRY: The sellers.
SAADA SAAR: The sellers. The focus has not been on those who buy our
children. And so it is important to say that buying our children is not
simply a misdemeanor, buying our children for sex should be a felony.
HARRIS-PERRY: Okay. You have been doing this activism work for a long
time. Knowing that this bill is now standing in the way of Loretta Lynch`s
confirmation, even though it`s not -- it isn`t actually, both things can be
happening at the same time. Does this strike you as genuinely about really
wanting to pass this? I`m wondering how you feel given all the work you
have done to get this bill to where it is now and right now it`s being held
WITHELMA "T" ORTIZ WALKER PETTIGREW, SURVIVOR OF CHILD TRAFFICKING: I think
that for me as a former survivor and as well as an advocate, I think the
arguments surrounding the bill is just kind of diverting from the main
focus. The issue is that my story is unlike many other young people as we
sit on this show and talk, there are other young people that are being
victimized. They are often young people who come from minority
communities, some of them from cross systems. I think what`s relevant
about my story that is so important to highlight is that I was born here in
the United States and I was trafficked as a child. That`s the focus.
That`s what we need to realize, that the focus is on the fact that there is
no persecution or any type of, I would say -- there`s nothing done to the
HARRIS-PERRY: Right. We stay focused on the global as opposed to thinking
about American children in these circumstances. One more piece on this, as
I was reading the bill, there is a lot of language about strengthening
local police departments. Honestly, I am of at least two minds on that.
We`ll spend the next hour talking about what looked like human rights
violations to me by local police departments.
Tell me what it is about this bill that can make me feel confident that it
will lead to protections as opposed to more investigations into these very
SAADA SAAR: So a couple of things. One is that it is $150 million in
funding for services for our kids. Right now there are more shelters for
animals than children who are trafficked. We desperately need services to
protect and help our kids who are being trafficked.
Here is the other piece. The funding around law enforcement is to train
law enforcement to be able to see the girls as victims of child rape, to be
able to train them to understand that what you do for any other child of
child rape, you must do for these girls as well.
And then the other piece of it is that this is not a bill to criminalize
our kids for being bought and sold. This is a bill to go after those who
buy our children. In all of the laws that we have so far, there is a
criminalization of the trafficker, of the seller, who often are men of
color who we put behind bars anyway. The focus has not been on the buyers
who are disproportionately white married men who are professionals. So we
need to be able to say that they, too, who buy our kids, are criminals, and
we have to be able to train law enforcement to recognize how to
appropriately go after the buyers.
HARRIS-PERRY: We only have about 20 seconds but I want to give you the last
word here. What would you say to Democrats and Republicans right now in
the Senate about this bill?
ORTIZ WALKER PETTIGREW: That this has to be passed. It has to be passed for
the betterment of our children. It`s an understanding that this is how we
make changes and difference in getting opportunities to really get to the
root of things, the supply and demand. Let`s end it.
HARRIS-PERRY: Set the date. Confirm Loretta Lynch and then cope with this
bill. It is necessary.
Thank you to Malika Saada Saar and "T" Ortiz Walker Pettigrew.
Neera and Robert are back in our next hour.
Coming up next, when we report on a crime scene, we like to think that
citing a police report gives us a sense of the facts. When it doesn`t,
everything is in question.
There`s more (INAUDIBLE) at the top of the hour.
HARRIS-PERRY: Welcome back. I`m Melissa Harris-Perry. You`ve heard it on
the news hundreds of times. You`ve read it in news stories so often that
you may have stopped noticing that it`s even there. When recounting the
story of a criminal investigation, it is the attribution reporters tag on
to details of the case to indicate that the information comes from an
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: According to police reports, the officer --
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Police claimed in their report --
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Legal document required to search his Houston home has
a lot of revelations according to police.
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: In this police report that`s just released --
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: According to police, the police report indicated, police
authorities said, in the midst of what can sometimes be confusing and
chaotic, early moments and days after a crime is been committed, these are
the words that can help us to feel like we have a sense of clarity and
security, a feeling that things are under control that we can be certain in
our understanding of how events unfolded because the source is trustworthy
and reliable. In fact, in our criminal justice system, the word of a sworn
officer of the law carries with the so much weight that is often all that
it takes to the scales. Because we rely upon the veracity of the police at
almost every level. It`s the police who write the official report of what
happened in a crime or accident. It`s the police who can determine whether
or not evidence should be introduced at trial. It is police who could
influence whether or not a case should be sent to grand jury and whether or
not a grand jury chooses to indict.
During a criminal trial police testimony can sway a jury`s decision of
guilt or innocence and when the crime in question is whether or not the
police themselves are justified in the use of deadly force, quite often the
word of the officer involved is sufficient to satisfy the law that, yes, it
was. So earlier this week when media reports surfaced about South
Carolina`s 11th police shooting of 2015, the story of what we believe to
have happened was the story of what the police said. According to police,
last Saturday North Charleston Police Officer Michael Slager fatally shot
50-year-old Walter Scott after a struggle in which Scott took Officer
Slager`s taser and attempted to use it against him. Police allege that it
was at that point that the officer resorted to his service weapon and fired
the fatal shots.
On Monday police publicly identified Slager as the officer involved in the
shooting, released documents revealing the details of the encounter. A
police spokesman says, the police stopped Scott after noticing a brake
light was out on his Mercedes Benz Sudan and Scott they said ran from the
car during the stop at which point Officer Slager began the chase that
ended when he fired his gun multiple times. "The New York Times" reports
Officer Slager said he opened fire after fearing for his life when Scott
took his taser. Police documents said that backup officers attempted to
administer first aid and performed CPR on Scott until the paramedics
arrived but Scott was pronounced dead at the scene.
That was, as of Monday, what we believe to have happened according to the
police. But the next day we saw this, and I want to warn you, many of you
have already seen this video, but it remains disturbing for many of us.
Video shot on a cell phone camera by a witness to the encounter between
Scott and Slager. The footage begins with, as police said, a confrontation
between the two men before Scott runs away. But the point at which Officer
Slager opens fire, the point before which Slager said he feared for his
life because Scott had taken his taser, Scott is not in close proximity to
him. In fact, he has his back turned and is running away.
After Scott is faced down on the ground and had been handcuffed by the
officer, the officer walks away and retrieves an object from the ground and
he comes back and drops what appears to be that object next to where Scott
is lying. The video then shows a second officer wearing disposable gloves
who calls in the shooting as he kneels over Scott`s body pulling on his
clothes as he lies face down and handcuffed on the ground. There does not
appear to be any attempt at CPR made by officers on the video. On
Wednesday, the bystander who recorded the incident, a man named Feidin
Santana said he didn`t witness the officers` attempt any lifesaving
measures while he was near the scene.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FEIDIN SANTANA, SOUTH CAROLINA POLICE SHOOTING WITNESS: The only thing I
witnessed is taking, first, you know, they take his pulse. One of the
officers took the shirt up to check maybe the wound on the bullet and the
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: But they never tried to resuscitate him to bring back to
SANTANA: No. I never saw that. I don`t know if they did it after I left.
But I never saw that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: On the same day the video was released by a lawyer
representing Walter Scott`s family, Officer Slager was fired and charged
with murder. And the Justice Department and the FBI are now working with
state authorities in the investigation and prosecution of the case.
Yesterday an overflow crowd of mourners including South Carolina Senator
Tim Scott and Representative Jim Clyburn and Mark Sanford gathered at a
South Carolina church to pay their final respects at Walter Scott`s
funeral. But now, as we await the outcome of the investigation and the
movement to end police violence adds another name to its list of the
fallen. The discrepancies between the police narrative and the video of
Scott`s death open up this question, not only about the value of black
lives but also about how we are to value the police account of how those
Joining me now is Khalil Gibran Muhammad, director of the Schomburg Center
for Research and Black Culture. Soledad O`Brien, CEO of Starfish Media
Group. Neera Tanden, president of the Center for American Progress. And
MSNBC contributor Robert Traynham. Khalil, this officer lied, just not got
it wronged, not got confused moment, lied. What does it do to our whole
KHALIL GIBRAN MUHAMMAD, DIRECTOR, SCHOMBURG CENTER: It puts it on trial.
My colleague, Heather Thompson wrote in "Time" recently in a quote. She
basically said that cover-up is the first line of defense, and the
interesting thing about this is we know after report after report, decade
after decade, going back nearly a century, we have a Chicago report from
1922, we have the Kerner Commission Report from 1968, we have the Mullen
Commission report from 1994, now the Ferguson report, Philadelphia report,
so on and so forth. And in every instance when we shine a laser on the
problem, we see time and time again that police officers will cover up.
There is a blue wall of silence and dishonesty. It is not universal, but
it is baked into the system to the point where we have to find new ways of
getting the official record.
HARRIS-PERRY: And this dishonesty, Neera, it feels to me like this is such
an important crumbling point. In the DOJ Ferguson report which you just
brought up. Untruthfulness as they call, they don`t use the language of
dishonesty but untruthfulness as many departments are finding
untruthfulness pursuant to internal investigation resulting in an officer`s
termination. Because the officer`s credibility on police reports and in
providing testimony is subsequently subject to challenge. In other words,
lying is the thing. Like lying is the thing that undermines the whole
NEERA TANDEN, PRESIDENT, CENTER FOR AMERICAN PROGRESS: What`s amazing
about this case is you have a victim who was shot in the back eight times.
Right? Just on its face that seems surprising. If you`re in a tussle, why
is a victim shot eight times in the back. And what`s amazing about the
level of confidence that the local folks had about the wall of lies is that
other police officers corroborated the lies. I mean, it`s not just the
police report that says the police officer and witnesses, and there are
other police officers there who all knew it was lies because he was shot in
the back. That`s what`s amazing about this case is that they put forward
the lies and they felt that the whole system would back them up, even
though you`d have an autopsy and obviously shot in the back.
MUHAMMAD: Yes. It`s a culture.
TANDEN: It`s a culture where everyone was in on it. And that`s what makes
people -- people don`t understand, when you don`t live in these communities
or you`re not subject to that, people don`t recognize that basic faith that
you have in the police system working for you is the opposite. That`s why
someone is going to get up and run. Because God knows what`s going to
TANDEN: -- when the fact is that you can be killed for nothing.
HARRIS-PERRY: And the point that you`re making, Amir, it feels so
critical. The part of how we`ve talked about many of these cases in the
context of Black Lives Matter, is the problem of implicit racial bias which
I think is an important question, right? About how in a moment of anxiety
and fear and concern, an officer makes a decision based on something that
is not explicit. And there are ways to combat that. But this ain`t that.
I mean, this is just lying.
SOLEDAD O`BRIEN, CEO, STARFISH MEDIA GROUP: There are two groups that I
think really have to do a lot of self-examination. And as you point out,
the police officers, not the one who shot Mr. Scott, but everybody else who
absolutely felt perfectly comfortable reading the reports, reading the
police report and felt like, yes, that`s what happened, that`s what went
down, when it clearly did not, number one. So, I would be very interested
in seeing what happens to them. But also, I`d wanted to know what was
going on, like, tell me the culture, why did you feel like you had to go
along with the story? But two, the reporters. When you read the original
-- go back and read the original newspaper account of what happened, and I
really hope the reporters say, wow, we framed -- we were tricked into
framing a narrative about, you know, here is -- it went like this.
HARRIS-PERRY: This is what we do. The first thing we do when we`re
reporting before we go, we check out the official reporting.
ROBERT TRAYNHAM, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Because that is supposed to be the
authority of record. That we assume that they`re all telling the truth.
And the reason why we assume that is because these men and women, and the
vast majority of them, I think I should say this, we all know this. But
the vast majority of them are honest, decent people. But they have a
badge, and they are in the public domain, if you will. They take an oath
to keep all of us safe. If you take a look at a police badge, each bag, it
says civility and respect. But the question becomes is that, do we have
that? Do we have --
TANDEN: Well, I don`t assume --
HARRIS-PERRY: Okay. And I don`t want to miss what you`re saying here.
Because I think what you just said, I just don`t want to miss this.
Because often in this this conversation, the next thing that happens is a
discourse about so-called black-on-black violence. And I just want to
point out that no matter the race of the officers or of the victims in any
of these cases, the issue is that when the state takes your life, it is
something different. The state is set up to protect us. When this is hubs
101, right? So when the state does it, there is a different layer of
accountability no matter the race.
O`BRIEN: We don`t assume they`re telling the truth. You say when we read
the account, we assume the police are telling the truth. I don`t think
that`s true. I think there is no other account that we officially give the
weight to as reporters.
HARRIS-PERRY: That`s right. Until we have the video.
O`BRIEN: I don`t think reporters say, well, I believe the police -- I
think they say there is this official document which we give naturally more
weight to, not because we believe it`s necessarily truthful, this is just
how reporters operate under official documentation.
TRAYNHAM: I`m not saying reporters are some of that -- I`m saying all of
us collectively. I think I`m under the assumption that the vast majority
of people say, well, the police report says this, so, therefore, it`s true.
Reporters are a little bit different because I think they inbred to be a
little bit skeptical. But I think the average American -- black people are
different when it comes --
HARRIS-PERRY: We`re going to be a little more skeptical of that police
report. Everybody stay with me. We`re going to stay on this topic. But I
do want to bring in a voice from the ground in South Carolina when we come
HARRIS-PERRY: Before the police shooting of Walter Scott brought the
protest movement against police violence to North Charleston, South
Carolina, tensions had long been simmering between the city`s police and
its citizens. In 2012 the "Post and Courier" newspaper reported that after
North Charleston was labeled one of the most dangerous cities in the nation
by the Washington based CQ Press, its Police Department stepped up its
crime prevention tactics. According to the paper`s report, quote,
"Desperate to shake the distinction, city officials enacted a policy of
aggressive patrolling, incessant stops of motorists from minor violations,
seemingly random interviews with residents, a virtual police occupation of
neighborhoods in the days just after violence occurs." A decline in the
killings in the city was considered proof positive to the North Charleston
police that the strategy was working. But the department`s critics said
the improvement came at a cost, the harassing and profiling of its poorest
Joining me now from North Charleston is Bakari Sellers, former member of
the South Carolina house and former candidate for lieutenant governor of
South Carolina. So, Bakari, is this the context -- when I read that story,
it felt an awful lot to me like the Ferguson report, actually incentives
for this kind of policing?
BAKARI SELLERS (D), FORMER CANDIDATE, SOUTH CAROLINA LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR:
Well, you know, for us in South Carolina, this is not an isolated incident.
This is not surprising at all. Many of us understand our journey for
justice, our journey for justice for Walter Scott, changing these police
tactics, looking for body cameras, having independent reviews of police
actions, these things require follow-through. And that`s what we`re
looking forward to from this point forward. We`re not surprised by what
happened last week. We all shed a tear. My heart aches for Walter Scott`s
family. But we`re not surprised here in South Carolina. We understand
that this journey for justice is going to take many steps forward.
HARRIS-PERRY: Bakari, is it your belief that if Officer Slager had been
wearing a body camera that was activated, that he knew was on, that he
would have not shot Mr. Scott?
SELLERS: Well, you know, for me the trouble is that -- and you can`t get
around this, Officer Slager did not see a human being. And I think people
fail to realize that. Officer Slager looked at Walter Scott as something
less than a human being. So, in answering that question, I`m not sure that
he wouldn`t have shot. But my only hope is when police wear body cameras,
maybe they will hesitate to act. What we saw was beyond cold, what we saw
was beyond callous, what we saw was someone who was basically out on a deer
hunt. And I don`t believe that to be a police tactic. What we found in
South Carolina and throughout the country is that that is something that is
happening on a regular basis.
HARRIS-PERRY: Bakari, hold on for me for a second. Khalil, I want to pull
you in here. Obviously to say that the officer in that context was hunting
and this just got is pretty intense characterization.
MUHAMMAD: No. It`s a very strong way of thinking about it. But it misses
a really big point --
MUHAMMAD: -- that we don`t have to reduce this problem to an individual
racist or a culture of racism that animalizes black suspects in order for
us to understand it. One of the great things about the Ferguson report is
to help us understand that we have taken for-profit business models and
applied them in our criminal justice arena, which means that it`s not so
much whether they`re people or not people, they are products, they are our
means to promotion, they are our means to productivity, our means to
legitimation. When we talk about the militarization of policing in
Ferguson, we talked about a program, a federal program that said you have
to prove that you deserve to have this equipment. How you prove that you
deserve to have this equipment? Every civil disturbance becomes an
opportunity for occupying local community residents. So, we have created
systems that it doesn`t matter whether Slager thought he was on a deer hunt
or not. The system essentially protects him and makes it inevitable that
this will happen next week, the week after next and next month.
HARRIS-PERRY: And yet in one context, I just want to put a pin in. It
doesn`t protect him in one sense. I mean, part of the reason was that the
news in this way, was because he was arrested and charged with murder which
is different than what we have seen.
O`BRIEN: He`s not convicted.
HARRIS-PERRY: No, no, he is not yet convicted.
SELLERS: Dr. Harris-Perry, if I may.
HARRIS-PERRY: Yes, Bakari.
SELLERS: In South Carolina we`re very used to police officers getting
SELLERS: Police officers getting indicted. We have a very low bar for
justice in this country. In South Carolina, we haven`t had any officers
HARRIS-PERRY: Oh, I see.
SELLERS: When I`m talking about the follow-through for justice, that is
what we`re looking for.
HARRIS-PERRY: Oh, I see. So, even though --
SELLERS: That means the things have to be done from this point forward.
HARRIS-PERRY: Right. So, we`ve been comparing this I think to moments
like the Ferguson one where there was not even an indictment, also here in
New York where there was not an indictment over the death of Eric Garner.
But you`re suggesting that is the wrong standard for -- hold on one second,
Bakari. Let me get Soledad in here.
O`BRIEN: We also like to frame, I mean, as Bakari pointed out, there was a
sense of -- maybe you pointed out, that you know, they saw the crime go
down, and that encouraged everybody that yes, this tank and more force. In
New York City, under stop and frisk, we saw a very similar thing. Right?
I actually thought you were going to draw parallels to Eric Garner`s case
where we saw a very similar thing, which is look, it`s gone down. The city
is safer than ever, and they were still continuing to think that these
policing tactics were really, really effective.
TANDEN: But we stopped stop and frisk here in New York and it hasn`t gone
O`BRIEN: Well, it`s actually a very complicated analysis. It`s not as
easy as do this and this happens. Right?
HARRIS-PERRY: That`s right.
O`BRIEN: The economy matters, unemployment plays a role. So, I would say,
we`d like to think that it`s a very simplistic formula. They`ve fall it
into that same trap. More guns, more police, more aggressive behavior.
Look, this happens.
HARRIS-PERRY: I promise I`m going to get you in. I do need to take a
break. Bakari Sellers in North Charleston, South Carolina, I want to say
thank you now only for being here, not only for -- to do that work. But
also for helping us to put it in context a bit. Thank you so much, Bakari
SELLERS: Thank you for having me, Dr. Harris-Perry.
HARRIS-PERRY: Thanks. Up next, another police shooting caught on camera.
New video just released. It`s all over your social media feed I bet.
HARRIS-PERRY: On Friday, new video released by the Tulsa Oklahoma
sheriff`s office shows the fatal shooting of an unarmed man who was killed
when he was shot by a reserve deputy who says he thought he was pulling his
taser and instead grabbed his gun. The video recorded by a camera worn by
an officer on their glasses was released nine days after the fatal shooting
on April 2nd. Now, I want to warn you again that the video may be
disturbing to some viewers. It shows police in pursuit of Eric Harris who
the "New York Daily News" reports was fleeing from police when they tried
to arrest him for allegedly selling a semi-automatic pistol and ammunition
to undercover officers.
When the officers apprehended him, Reserve Deputy Robert Bates, a civilian
volunteer pulled his gun and fired a round into Harris. Shortly after the
sound of a gunshot on the video, Bates can be heard on the tape saying I
shot him, I`m sorry. The Tulsa world reports and the Tulsa County
Sheriff`s Office said Harris was absolutely a threat when going down
because the deputies believed him to be armed. The sheriff`s office
characterized the shooting as an inadvertent mistake and called Bates, the
shooter, the victim of a phenomenon called slips and capture in which
officers confuse their tasers for guns. Tulsa police said Bates did not
commit any crime or violate policy in the shooting. Bates who the "Tulsa
World" reports is an insurance executive who has donated thousands of
dollars` worth of vehicles, guns and stun guns to the sheriff`s office, was
not an active member of the violent crimes task force, but according to the
paper, Bates volunteered his time as an advanced reserve, a qualification
that requires at least 800 hours of training to perform the duties of a
O`BRIEN: This is a crazy story I`ve ever heard --
MUHAMMAD: So, this is George Zimmerman`s story playing out in Tulsa,
Oklahoma. If George Zimmerman had the resources to buy his way into a
special program which helps to subsidize public expense of crime control,
George Zimmerman very well would have been that gentleman in this case.
HARRIS-PERRY: Right. So, I will just say that`s not a legal truism, that
you`re offering that, in part, because we know Mr. that Zimmerman wanted to
be an officer. And right, well, I get your point here, yes.
MUHAMMAD: Yes. And it`s a critically important point, because at the end
of the day, the universe that makes possible this expansive shooting of
unarmed people or suspected people is held up by Supreme Court decisions,
Tennessee versus Garner in 1985 and Graham versus Connor in 1989, both of
which were born in the midst of the war on drugs. In other words, if we
really want to think about what makes it possible to shoot fleeing suspects
who we think are dangerous to officers or to innocent people, or if we want
to use the standard of objective reasonableness, that in those split second
decisions, I had to shoot this person, that`s the Supreme Court
jurisprudence that underlies all of this.
HARRIS-PERRY: So, I want to come to you on this because, you know, you`ve
been testing us a little bit in the commercials about what are undoubtedly
some fairly aggressive discourse around this, particularly this idea of
hunting, for example. And so, that came from Bakari Sellers. But let me
just say, for me, this story, the idea of an insurance executive who
literally provides resources to a local police department.
O`BRIEN: Caught with the camera that caught him, I`m not exaggerating.
O`BRIEN: -- that caused him shooting this guy.
HARRIS-PERRY: Can do this ride-along, get some training.
HARRIS-PERRY: Whoa! Like, yes, what are we talking about here?
TRAYNHAM: What`s your question?
HARRIS-PERRY: Because honestly, that does feel like a safari.
TRAYNHAM: It`s a hobby.
HARRIS-PERRY: Right. And my point being, to go back to Khalil`s point,
that we can`t just make this as an individual -- like this is some
individual bad guy. No, this is a system that allows all of this to be
TRAYNHAM: I agree. It feels like a cowboy culture where if, in fact, you
have the resources to do this, and I would never use the word hunting, but
it does feel like --
HARRIS-PERRY: Or adventure. You know?
TRAYNHAM: A game.
TANDEN: I mean, I think the true issue here, though, is we give, and the
Supreme Court cases demonstrate this, but what they`re speaking to is we
give police incredible responsibilities.
TRAYNHAM: And the vast majority of time they get it right.
TANDEN: Exactly. And they do get it right. They can make those
decisions. What is scary here is that you have someone who does not have
any of the training, we can argue about whether the training today is
sufficient. This person doesn`t have the training. It`s like, they does
this as an avocation.
O`BRIEN: No, he does have the surveillance -- he has 800 hours.
TANDEN: Hasn`t gone through what everyone else has gone through. It`s an
avocation for him. His life is something else generally. And we`re
letting come in to this. And it seems to me, you can`t have it both ways.
You can`t have it like, this is the most important thing and people deserve
this responsibility and then you just shew somebody in to kind of do this
on the weekend.
HARRIS-PERRY: And let me just also say, Robert. It is possible that the
vast majority of police the vast majority of time get it right. That
certainly seems to me to be an empirical question though for which we do
not have the data. So, part of the problem is, we actually do not because
of the way we do federal reporting --
In fact, Khalil has some data.
So, hang out a little bit. Hang out a little bit. Apparently I`m saying,
thank you Robert Traynham.
TRAYNHAM: Okay. Thank you.
HARRIS-PERRY: Because we have somebody coming in to sit here. But don`t
go too far because we`re going to answer some of that questions. The rest
of the panel sticking around.
When we come back, I`m going to bring you one of the young activists who is
a leading voice in the Black Lives Matter movement to ask this question
about whether or not we`re beginning to see an impact.
HARRIS-PERRY: This past week we saw the effects of the protest movement
that began after a police officer shot and killed Michael Brown in
Ferguson, Missouri. Tuesday, in the first elections since Brown`s death,
voters in Ferguson elected two African-American candidates to that city
council. That means half of the six seats on the council will be filled by
African-Americans. Voter turnout in Ferguson was more than double to turn-
out rate for the last municipal election in 2014. And on a national level,
the protest movement has raised awareness of questionable police tactics to
the point that when a bystander saw a South Carolina officer chasing and
then shooting a fleeing suspect in the back, he knew he couldn`t just
standby. He used the most powerful tool he had at the time, the camera on
Joining my panel now to talk more about the impact of the protest movement
is Cherrell Brown, a community organizer.
CHERRELL BROWN, COMMUNITY ORGANIZER: Thanks, Melissa.
HARRIS-PERRY: Okay. So, I want to do a kind of Khalil thing here for a
BROWN: Okay. Right.
HARRIS-PERRY: So more African-Americans on the Ferguson City Council.
That`s fantastic. You see this big turnout, but do elections matter when
the system is, as we see from the DOJ report, structured in a way that,
black members of the council or not, may be making the same kind of
BROWN: Right. Right. Well, I think that whether or not you measure
success as something that is inside the system, outside the system or both,
I do think that this is a testament to the hard working organizing of
several organizations in Ferguson, organization for black struggle, of
male, and heads up united and their tireless work. You know, we have two
new black city council members, the first black woman to serve on city
council. And I think voter turnout went from some 12 percent, to nearly 30
HARRIS-PERRY: Which is extraordinary given that it is not -- it is not
during, I mean, they purposely have elections in a way that depresses
turnout by having them on a random off year that is not a presidential
election or, I mean, it is a suppressive tool and yet, all of a sudden this
BROWN: Right. So, I think it`s a step. But you`re right. We have to
start looking at systems and systemic and institutional white supremacy.
I`m afraid that when we have the videos that come out, if we don`t
accompany them with institutions, changed in conversations about
institutional change, we`re only heightening the anxiety about black people
in America. Right? Because its anomalies. We say that these are just bad
cops, just a few bad cops caught on camera. And it`s not just bad cops.
What happened with Walter Scott is a systemic issue. When you have
officers citing from a script, I feared for my life, that isn`t it
individual choice but institutionally backs guys on how to get away with
HARRIS-PERRY: Yap. That moment, though, is only available to us -- we
started this whole thing by talking about the police report being one
thing. The only reason that we take very seriously that that police report
is dishonest is because of that video, and it does feel to me like that
video is directly a result of the Black Lives Matter Movement which, in
addition to all the other things that it did, basically said, when you see
it going down, take out your camera.
TANDEN: Look, I think we shouldn`t underestimate the importance of having
more places that are actually represented. I think the fact that you have
people of color now being more represented -- I mean, it`s majority of
people of color area in Ferguson, and it`s been out of whack that it hasn`t
had equal representation. And if you look at the Ferguson report, the
Ferguson report really demonstrated whether there was institutionalized
racism in a system that profited on basically criminalizing poor people.
And the hope is, not just that we elect African-Americans, but that the
newly elected officials take down that system, the institutionalized
systems which basically created pressures to criminalize people who really
shouldn`t be criminalized.
HARRIS-PERRY: Yes. That`s just a tall order for a city council. I mean -
TANDEN: A lot of this is established at city council, like the quotas are
HARRIS-PERRY: Sure. Well, they picked -- look, let me be clear, I think
voting matters, I think elections matter, all of that. I also now have 40
years of black mayors of major cities, we now have 40 years of African-
American representation in spaces where poverty has increased, where
homelessness and dispositions where these kinds of things continue to
exist. I just want to be careful that we don`t presume on the one hand,
that we make the point about the critical importance of people engaging in
their system. But also that we not fall into just putting this body.
O`BRIEN: I think technology has changed, and I think the Black Lives
Matter, I`m always hash tagging Black Lives Matter all the time. But
people have been shooting these things on cameras for -- been able to
actually, you know, carry (INAUDIBLE) small enough, that you could conceal,
that you could put in your pocket, that you could hold down. So I think
that when you see this great confluence of these events, a narrative that
tells people like this matters, this is important, you have a voice, you
can leverage it on social media that can carry this message from a small
town to everyone very quickly, and the technology now enables you to do
that yourself, you don`t have to run necessarily to a newsroom, you can
just do it yourself and put it on YouTube.
TANDEN: Yes. I think -- go ahead.
MUHAMMAD: Here is a cautionary note, so the technology of photography
accompanied the lynching era.
MUHAMMAD: And in hindsight we have all these post cards, that are
grotesque gothic images of black people strung up on trees in front of
thousands of people. But let me finish, they did not the photography
alone, the technology at the time was not sufficient to the political work
and the moral claims necessary to save black people`s lives.
O`BRIEN: They were in the hands of the people who supported the people
MUHAMMAD: But it doesn`t matter. They documented and were well
celebrated. My point is that voting has to be tied to a set of politics
that will protect and change black people`s outcomes.
HARRIS-PERRY: Which I would argue it isn`t the Ferguson case, that that
voting was about --
O`BRIEN: And step one is, more people have to vote.
MUHAMMAD: It`s not just black people in the city council, right? So, we
have to be mindful --
TANDEN: Well, you saw 30 percent increase in the number of people who
turned out. It will be next election when these city council members
should be held accountable as to whether there was change or not.
HARRIS-PERRY: But again, I think, so again, when you have a Department of
Justice providing militarized basically weaponry to local communities, when
you have a Congress that is cutting the budgets of cities and states such
that poor people have to become the economic, you know, sort of groundwork
in order to keep the schools open, to then hold accountable freshmen city
councilmen -- this is my point about it being a tall order. It`s just that
like -- so precisely what happens is that our capacity to hold those people
accountable is closer to us because they`re more proximate, but the
problems, right, the institutional structure is maybe higher.
TANDEN: Yes. My concern about this conversation is that it`s basically
saying there`s nothing we can do because there`s always some terrible
force. Right? Or the implication --
TANDEN: We can work to change the Congress, but if you look at what the
Ferguson report, the way that they`ve criminalized poor people to the
extent where they get trapped in these systems of being late for a fine and
then it increases -- these are decisions local folks can make and people,
we should be --
HARRIS-PERRY: Look. I really don`t know which hurt here, Neera. But I
have never sat here and said -- the amount of time I spend away from my
family and children trying to make a difference, I`m actually offended by
the idea that my discourse would ever say we can never make a difference.
But what I will do every single time is to say that it`s exclusively a
Ferguson problem, or a city council problem or an individual racist cop
problem is going to always move us down the road of a kind of individuated
decision making and identification of the problem.
Thank you to Khalil Muhammad, to Neera Tanden, to Cherrell Brown, and to
Soledad who`s going to be back a little bit later in the program. I`m all
fired up now. And my letter of the week is next. So you know you better
HARRIS-PERRY: We`re just three days shy of the big day. Now, all of you
high organized, get it done early types have already met the deadline. And
we procrastinators are going to be up very late for the next few evenings
as we face April 15, tax day. Filing and paying taxes is not fun, but is
part of being an American. But some are so offended by the idea of taking
a portion of our individual resources and pooling them together to do
things like build roads and provide public education, that they make
cutting taxes -- their one and only solution to all social economic and
political problem they encounter.
Now, the standard bearer for the slash the taxes approach is Kansas
Governor Sam Brownback. He promised that zeroing out corporate taxes and
trimming the rate for the rich would produce a Kansas economic miracle.
But that promised boom has been a bust. Creating deficits so
insurmountable that the state`s credit has been downgraded and it`s
bottomed out public school budgets have been deemed unconstitutionally
insufficient. Governor Brownback`s response, restrict poor people in his
state from going swimming. And that is why my letter of the week, goes to
the governor of Kansas.
Dear Governor Brownback, it`s me, Melissa, now you seem to be preparing to
sign Kansas House bill 2258 and thereby issued dozens of restrictions on
how poor people using government assistance can spend monies they receive.
If you sign it, families who receive temporary aid to needy families or
TANF will be legally barred from spending money at jewelry stores, tattoo
parlor, massage parlor, body piercing parlor, psychic or fortune telling
business, bail Bond Company, video arcade or any retail establishment which
provides adult oriented entertainment in which performers disrobe or
perform in an unclothed state.
Well, okay. But Governor, there`s virtually no evidence that poor people
in Kansas or anywhere else spend their money this way. If anything, poor
people tend to be to be pretty good at managing money. Because, well, they
have a lot less of it. In Kansas, the maximum cash assistance received by
a family of four is only $497 a month. And when a family of four is trying
to make it on less than $500 a month, they`re not planning a lot of cruises
which your new law also bans, along with spending money at movies and
swimming pools. So, the bill also limits individuals from withdrawing more
than $25 at a time. Now, many poor people do not have bank accounts. And
this law will limit them to $25 per transaction. So, to get their full
benefits, they`re going to need to go to the ATM more than a dozen times.
Each time they go to the ATM they pay a dollar transaction fee.
So even people in Kansas who are counting every dime and doing everything
they can to make it on a meager monthly income will by law be forced to pay
at least $12 just to access the money that they and their families need to
survive. These are pretty good deal for the banks, but for families and
children, this is food off the table. So, while this law may be moralizing
about boozing and strip clubs, it`s actually stripping poor people of what
they need to survive. Hey, hey, I get it. At this time of year all of us
understand just how precious those tax dollars are. It`s important to
ensure that those who are subsidized and supported by tax dollars are
making good decisions, decisions we think they should be making. So, I
have a few suggestions for even greater accountability to taxpayers.
How about a morality clause for families who take the home mortgage
increase deduction that they file this year, that deduction is a huge
taxpayer giveaway to the wealthy. So, if you take that deduction, no
Netflix rentals, no swimming pools visit and no wine with dinner this year,
and while we`re at it, let`s make sure all those corporations receiving
generous tax breaks are also on the straight and narrow. No massages or
tattoos for any CEO of any company getting tax relief this year. But to
truly ensure the ethical use of tax dollars, I propose that you, your staff
and all elected officials who draw salaries from hard working taxpayers
refrain from purchasing any video games or taking any family vacations
while you`re on the public dole. After all, those are our tax dollars,
Governor. Sincerely, Melissa.
HARRIS-PERRY: Okay. So now this is just me having fun because this is the
part of the show where I get to sit and talk one on one with Soledad
O`Brien, the award-winning broadcast journalist, CEO of Starfish Media
Group and recently one of the voices in "Women on Top," a short documentary
produced by Hello Beautiful`s HB studios, interviewing women of color about
their experience of femininity, sisterhood, sexuality and power.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
O`BRIEN: The definition of power changes over time as you sort of grow and
mature. I think when I was younger, I thought of power as sort of the
ability to make people do what you wanted them to do. And now I define
power as the opportunity to open up other opportunities for people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: Okay. So I love that. We were laughing because, of course,
once you have children, you realize you have no power to make other people
O`BRIEN: This toddler has power, and I have nothing.
HARRIS-PERRY: That`s right. I mean, toddler, man, they`re like three days
old and they`re in total control.
O`BRIEN: Yep, yep.
HARRIS-PERRY: But tell me about that definition of power of creating
access for others.
O`BRIEN: Yes, you know. Really, what I have found kind of exciting as we
look back at this obviously, women`s mystery month and kind of analyze and
get to that age where people are like, I`m interested in your analysis on
this, is that you start off thinking power is this. I want people to do
it. I`m going to yell at them. They`re going to do what I want. I`m
going to get paid a lot of money.
O`BRIEN: And then as you grow and hopefully mature, you start realizing,
like, real power is about the ability to drag people with you, it`s about
being able to open doors. It`s about not yelling at people actually
specifically, it`s about not being able to make people do something for
you. It`s actually about being able to allow the circumstances to do
something for other people. So I think it`s just part of a growth and
maturing process. Because if you would had asked me that definition like
15 years ago, I would have given you something totally different.
HARRIS-PERRY: Right. And that notion of growth and of power existing in
that way, it`s sort of part of what Starfish is. Right? Tell me a little
bit about what Starfish is.
O`BRIEN: We started a production company after I left doing a morning show
for CNN. Because we felt there were a lot of voices that I had an
opportunity to report on in my many years there that were just under-
covered. There would be a moment, a Walter Scott moment where suddenly
you`d jump in and you do a story, but I really felt like actually there`s
communities that have all these interesting and amazing stories and we`re
never sharing them. They very rarely get covered like mainstream
communities, red, white, male communities. Whether it`s women who are
firefighters who help rescue folks during 9/11, our black in America
series, Latino in America series. We`re doing a documentary that will air
tonight on Al Jazeera that looks at kids who are incarcerated in New
Mexico, juvenile detention facilities. And the ACLU sued them back in 2009
saying these kids are in unsafe, dangerous, physically sexually alleged
O`BRIEN: So what do we do to actually try to deal with this recidivism
problem? You get this opportunity to kind of approach stories in a
HARRIS-PERRY: You know, that is, for us, I think always the mission we`re
trying to do. Like I always say Nerdland, you see me sitting at the table.
Nerdland is really just this whole collective of young men and women,
mostly women, who are trying to figure out those stories. And the kind of
the power of media to be a story teller.
O`BRIEN: Well, you know, I will, all hail to you for a moment, if I may,
because I think what you do by bringing people of different voices around a
table, you elevate their voice. Right? You say, this person has an
interesting perspective, and we`re going to let it be heard. And it`s
going to become part of the narrative, not this, let`s find out what
Latinos think. Let`s go to our Latino reporter for the one moment that
they`ll have about the election.
HARRIS-PERRY: That`s right. What do you think about immigration as a
Latino? That`s right. Yes.
O`BRIEN: Yes, thank you, Jose.
O`BRIEN: Now let`s move on and talk about everything else. And that`s
really the way really it`s been. But we all know that the dynamics and the
demographics of the country have changed.
O`BRIEN: That`s not, you know, the mainstream is not the mainstream.
There are lots of voices that are making up a very dynamic and
demographically shifting country.
HARRIS-PERRY: Well, I`ll tell you, if that`s what power is, you are
terribly powerful. Because there`s no question that I get to sit here and
do some of that voice elevation because of all of the work and ground that
you`ve laid. And of course, both of us having teenagers are also
O`BRIEN: The eye rolling. I could do without the eye rolling.
HARRIS-PERRY: We are not powerful at all. Thank you, Soledad O`Brien.
And that`s our show for today. Thanks to you at home for watching. I`m
going to see you next Saturday at 10:00 a.m. Eastern.
Right now, it`s time for a preview of "WEEKENDS WITH ALEX WITT." Hi, Alex.
Have you checked Hillary`s Twitter page? Isn`t she up yet?
ALEX WITT, MSNBC HOST, "WEEKENDS WITH ALEX WITT": Yes. You think? I
mean, like every two seconds. Can I just say two words to Soledad though?
Morning blend. Do you remember the show?
O`BRIEN: We worked together for a lot of years.
WITT: A lot of years. And then when she decided to take off, she seated
things to me --
O`BRIEN: How come you`re not ageing at all?
WITT: How come I`m not ageing? Go to the makeup room.
They have all the secrets right there. I`ll tell you. Anyway, it`s good
to see you both. Ladies, thank you so much. And ready to run, as MHP was
saying, we are waiting for Hillary Clinton to make it official and
monitoring that twitter page. What she needs to do differently this time
Plus, the President and what he said about her impending run, how their
delicate relationship is about to get more complicated. Welfare recipients
eating steak and taking cruises with government aid. Two new bills are
trying to prevent it, but is this really happening? A woman who was once
on food stamps gives us her take. Don`t go anywhere. I`ll be right back.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY
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