'The Rachel Maddow Show' for Wednesday, June 17th, 2015
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Show: THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW
Date: June 17, 2015
Guest: Angelo Carusone, Jay Famiglietti
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Chris. Thanks, my friend.
CHRIS HAYES, "ALL IN" HOST: You bet.
MADDOW: And thanks to you at home for joining us for the next hour.
A few years ago, an activist named Angelo Carusone, he launched a
campaign to get the Macy`s Department Store to dissociate itself from the
real estate mogul Donald Trump. He had a whole list of reasons.
In the petition that he drew up, Angelo Carusone neatly sort of
summed up those reasons as follows. He said, quote, "Donald Trump engages
in especially unpleasant nasty and despicable behavior." He then gave a
big long specific list about Donald Trump perpetuating the racially charged
birther conspiracy and being publicly sexist, and being a hypocrite in
terms of complaining about jobs being shipped overseas when his own branded
merchandise is made overseas, it`s big long list.
So, Angelo wanted Macy`s to dissociate themselves with Mr. Trump.
Nearly 700,000 people signed that petition to Macy`s at moveon.org. It`s
an activist campaign. His name is Angelo Carusone. Now, Mr. Carusone says
that at one point, Donald Trump threatened to sue him for millions of
dollars because of that campaign to get Macy`s to drop Mr. Trump.
The lawsuit apparently never happened, though, and Angelo Carusone
has sort of carried on his work as being an anti-Donald Trump activist.
Well, when Donald Trump announced his presidential campaign
yesterday, you might remember one of the things he did right off the top,
was make a very big deal about how many people were there at the Trump
Tower in New York to see him make his presidential announcement. Here`s
how that announcement started.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Wow! Whoa! That is some
group of people, thousands. So nice. Thank you very much. That`s really
nice. Thank you.
It`s great to be a Trump Tower. It`s great to be in a wonderful
city, New York. And it`s an honor to have everybody here. This is beyond
anybody`s expectations. There`s been no crowd like this.
And I can tell you, some of the candidates they went in, they didn`t
know the air conditioner didn`t work. They sweated like dogs. They didn`t
know the room was too big because they didn`t have anybody there.
How are they going to be beat ISIS? I don`t think it`s going to
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Dog`s technically don`t sweat. They pant. Tongue out of
the mouth and everything.
But still, Donald Trump says he can beat ISIS because his rooms not
too big. Unlike Rick Perry who was sweaty at his announcement, Donald
Trump knew that the air conditioning was going to be on at Trump Tower. He
knew the size of the room. He knew how to fill that room. But him filling
the room that, turns out to be the story.
After watching the Donald Trump presidential announcement yesterday
morning, the anti-Donald Trump activist Angelo Carusone, that -- he posted
a story, basically, on Medium.com. "Donald Trump hired paid actors to
attend presidential launch event."
Talking about the crowd of people who were there at the event which
Donald Trump as you heard called thousands. He said there`s been no crowd
Mr. Carusone, writing about that crowd, said, quote, "Something just
felt off about it to me, but I couldn`t quite place it. Was it the
staging? The crowd? My initial thought was I bet Donald Trump is paying
some of the people to be there."
He says, "I talked myself out of that thought initially because, I
mean, come on. This was supposed to be a presidential campaign event. No
way he`d actually pay actors to participate. But something was off."
I have to say, did it sort of seem like something was off. CNN
reported a little bit of what seemed off when they noted in their story
about the campaign launch yesterday that there was somebody out on the
street, out on the sidewalk outside the Trump Tower before the campaign
launch started basically carnival barking, trying to persuade just
passersby in random New York City pedestrians that they should come into
the hotel and be there for the Trump presidential announcement. Right?
So, that was -- that was weird anyway. Right? That doesn`t happen
in a regular presidential campaign launch.
So, CNN had initially reported that something was off about the
effort to fill that room.
Our own RACHEL MADDOW SHOW producer who we sent to the event said
that he overheard people at the event in the VIP section of the press
section openly speculating about whether or not the people who were filling
that room might be paid actors.
And granted that seemed like just idle speculation. But something
was weird enough in the room that people who were there were asking each
other about it and talking about it at the event.
And then, Mr. Carusone, the activist, started cross-referencing
pictures from the event that were posted on social media. He says, quote,
"I stumbled across a photo posted on Instagram." He says he recognized the
gentleman on right in that Instagram photo as a professional actor, a man
who regularly posts photos online from his acting gigs. He said he then
realized that the other person in the photo, the person on the left, also
appears to be a New York City actor.
She does appear to be an actor, an experienced union actor. We
contacted her to day. She did not want to talk to us.
Honestly, I have to say, there is no intimation that any actors did
anything wrong here. Right? Getting paid to do an acting job and showing
up and acting, it`s not a crime. It`s not even necessarily wrong.
But we were just trying to figure out if somebody really did hire
paid actors to give the appearance of Donald Trump supporters when they
were not actually Donald Trump supporters, and there were not enough Donald
Trump supporters to fill that apparently filled room.
Angelo Carusone in his investigation yesterday says he heard
ultimately from sources who told him that a company called Extra Mile New
York City connected Trump`s campaign/event organizers with the paid actors.
Extra Mile is kind of a play on words here. It obviously means,
right? It`s a good company name. They`ll go the extra mile for you.
They`ll try really hard.
But it also means specifically extras. What you hire Extra Mile for
is extras, people who you want to be just warm bodies in the background of
a scene somewhere, especially when you need a lot of warm bodies, when you
want to hire people in bulk to show up at an appointed place, at an
appointed time, doing an appointed thing and dress in an appointed way,
this is one of those agencies that you call to get people.
Extra Mile New York City also would not speak with us today about
whether or not they as an agency hired extras, hired actors to pretend to
be Donald Trump supporters. But Angelo Carusone, this anti-Trump activist,
made this incredibly inflammatory claim today.
We spent all afternoon today chasing down everybody we could in
connection with this possible story. Everybody who we found pictures of at
the scene who seems to have been an extra for hire, everybody who is known
to be an actor who appeared to be a Trump supporter at that event. We
spent time badgering that agency today trying to get them to tell us
whether or not this -- the Trump campaign, the Trump event organizers might
be one of their clients. We got nowhere with that.
But then, bingo -- 6:00 tonight, the story breaks and naturally it
breaks in the "Hollywood Reporter", who else is going to have better
connections than the acting community, right? The story breaks in the
"Hollywood Reporter" that, in fact, quote, "The Donald Trump campaign
offered actors $50 to cheer for him at presidential announcement." It`s an
Donald Trump`s presidential announcement Tuesday was made a little
bigger with help from paid actors at $50 a pop. New York-based Extra Mile
Casting sent an email last Friday to its client list of background actors,
seeking extras to beef up attendance at Trump`s event.
According to the email, Extra Mile was reaching out to potential
extras and partnership with Gotham Government Relations and Communications,
a New York-based political consulting group that has worked with Donald
Trump in the past. Gotham Government Relations and Communications is not
commenting on this matter.
But when you are a casting company who hires lots and lots of extras
for events, right, and movies and stuff -- I mean, what do you when someone
hires you is a firm is you send out a notification to potential extras.
You send out a notification to actors that there is work available, if
people want that work. So, there is a trail here, right?
And somebody who got that e-mail, that basically -- that offer of
work from the extras casting company has now provided the e-mail to the
"Hollywood Reporter". So now we know how Donald Trump filled the room when
he announced he was running for president.
This is the e-mail. "Hi there." There is some misspelling there and
bad grammar here.
But this is the jest of it, "Hi there. We`re working with our
associates out at Gotham Government Relations. We`re working with them
with a big event happening Tuesday, June 16th. This is an event in support
of Donald Trump in an upcoming exciting announcement he`ll be making at
this event. This event will be televised. We`re looking to cast people
for the event to wear t-shirts and carry signs and help cheer him in
support of his announcement."
This is the good part, "We understand that this is not a traditional
background job," meaning a traditional acting job for extras, "but we
believe acting comes in all forms and this is inclusive of that school of
thought. This event is happening live and will be from 8:45 a.m. to 11:30
a.m. That`s less than three hours.
The rate for this event is $50 cash, at the end of the event. You
have to stay at the end. We would love to book you if you are still
interested and available. Please let us know. We will get back to us with
You know what? It is possible that this is a big conspiracy. That
this is a hoax, right? That all of the people at the Donald Trump event
are legitimately Donald Trump supporters and he just happens to have a lot
of actors among his base, right? Maybe somebody cooked up that e-mail and
shocked it to the "Hollywood Reporter" when really that room filled up on
its own with a lot of actors and some other people.
And, you know, maybe whoever CNN saw on the sidewalk trying to
bolster the paid extras with free pedestrians who maybe wanted a little air
conditioning for a half hour, maybe that was a coincidence, too, when CNN
But if this is what this looks like, it`s interesting, right? It`s
salient. I mean, Donald Trump`s campaign is denying this nine ways to
Sunday. His campaign manager told the "Hollywood Reporter" tonight, quote,
"Mr. Trump draws record crowd at almost every event which he is a featured
speaker. The crowds are large, often record setting and enthusiastic,
often withstanding ovations", end quote.
The campaign manager apple does not fall from the candidate tree,
right? But despite those claims, an inability to fill the room is a
problem that Donald Trump has had in the past. A couple years ago, "New
York" magazine published these very embarrassing photos of what the room
looked like when Donald Trump gave a speech at CPAC. That was CPAC 2013,
people just didn`t show up to hear him talk.
Now in 2015, apparently, rather than face an empty room again for his
presidential announcement, this time if the "Hollywood Reporter" is right,
Mr. Trump solved that problem the old fashioned way -- open checkbook,
And this is kind of amazing in its own terms. I mean, if you`re an
anti-Donald Trump activists, right, like Angelo Carusone, and you`re the
first guy who figured this out and it turns out your hunch was right, and
Donald Trump really did have to pay actors to fill his presidential
announcement with fake supporter, he`s got to be kind of the apex of your
Donald Trump experience, right?
But it is also substantively important terms of the Republican Party,
right, and what it means that Donald Trump really is running for prison
this year, and doesn`t seem to be faking it like he has in years past.
I mean, whether or not this is a celebrity PR campaign or an actual
political campaign, he is running. He`s declared candidate now for the
Republican nomination for president. Pollsters are polling on him. He is
likely to take a spot in the Republican Party, official televised debates,
which under the current rules will deprive another candidate in terms of
that candidate having a spot on the stage.
I mean, so even if he is kind of faking it, right, even if he is
paying people to pretend they are his political supporters, he`s going to
be there in the debates. He`s taking up almost all of the oxygen in the
room in terms of attention to the Republican candidates.
I mean, there`s Jeb Bush making the presidential announcement on
Monday. This incredibly carefully choreographed thing to highlight
minorities in particular, right? Jeb Bush, not just using a big section of
Spanish language in his speech but the whole event, and then going out of
their way to pick diverse introductory speakers, carefully picking really
kind words and positive imagery about immigrants, generally, and about
Latinos, generally, and about Latino immigrants in particular.
And that happens very carefully from the Jeb Bush campaign on money,
basically trying to rebrand the Republican Party as friendly to Latino
immigrants. That`s Monday.
But then on Tuesday, there is Donald Trump, with the actors and all
the media attention in the world saying that Mexican immigrants -- well
some of them are nice but most of them are rapists.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: When Mexico sends its people, they`re not sending their best.
They`re not sending you. They`re not sending you. They`re sending people
that have lots of problems and they`re bringing those problems with us.
They`re bringing drugs. They`re bringing crime. They`re rapists and
some, I assume, are good people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Some are good people. But basically, anybody immigrating
from Mexico is a rapist.
After Donald Trump said that in his announcement, theoretically, Jeb
Bush could have rebutted that assertion. He could have criticized Donald
Trump for having said. He could have said publicly that he was wrong about
that and Republicans shouldn`t talk like that about immigrants and Latinos
and Mexicans even, right?
But Jeb Bush did not do anything of the kind, nor did the Republican
National Committee when the spokesperson was asked about the comments.
None of the other Republican candidates have criticized Donald Trump for
saying that in any way.
And that`s for a reason. That`s because even though Donald Trump is
kind of a fake political figure, he is kind of just a celebrity running a
fake political campaign as a big PR exercise.
The Republican Party at the highest levels has really plighted their
trough with Donald Trump. They have been playing along with this ruse for
a long time. They have kind of created this monster. They`ve been really
happy to ignore the fact that Donald Trump`s public political persona is
mostly just a celebrity paid for PR exercise.
And instead, they tried to go along it with. They tried to
capitalize on his celebrity. They try to create a sense that Donald Trump
is not just a celebrity figure but a political figure to be taken
In 2012, after Donald Trump decided after hemming and hawing for
months that he himself would not run for president, Mitt Romney and his
wife made a big public show of going to kiss Donald Trump`s ring and get
his public endorsement and they signed Donald Trump up to do robocalls and
ads for Mitt Romney for president.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: It`s my honor, real honor, and privilege to endorse Mitt
And, by the way, this is a great couple. You look at this couple.
But Mitt is tough. He`s smart. He`s sharp. He`s not going to allow
bad things to continue to happen to this country that we all love.
So, Governor Romney, go out and get them. You can do it.
MITT ROMNEY (R), THEN-PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: There are some things
that you just can`t imagine happening in your life. This one is of them.
Being in Donald Trump`s magnificent hotel and having his endorsement is a
delight. I`m so honored and pleased to have his endorsement.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: It was a delight. Mitt Romney in 2012, super honored to
have Donald Trump`s endorsement.
And these days, this is how Donald Trump talks about Mitt Romney.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: You know, frankly, he just choked. He choked like a dog.
And, frankly, we cannot -- we cannot allow that to happen again.
I agree with him. I agree with him 100 percent. Romney did not -- I
supported Mitt Romney. He didn`t bring out the people. He choked in the
Mitt ran and failed. He failed. You can`t have Romney, he choked.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: It`s not like getting that man`s endorsement is a real
prize, right, especially if he`s willing to turn on you like that after he
endorsed you. But they all line up for him. It`s an interesting
phenomenon in mainstream Republican politics. They all line up for Donald
Trump during the 2012 primaries when Newt Gingrich was briefly the front-
runner to win the Republican nomination. That meant that Newt Gingrich had
to come to New York and kiss Donald Trump`s ring.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: The new Republican front-runner Newt Gingrich in New York
NEWT GINGRICH (R), THEN-PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I`ve come to New
York for two different reasons today. One is to make the case that if I do
become the nominee, we`re going to compete in all 50 states.
REPORTER: The second reason, to pay a visit to businessman Donald
GINGRICH: Donald Trump is a great showman. He is also a great
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: The Republican Party at the highest levels has built Donald
Trump up -- built him up and built him up, as if Donald Trump is a real
political figure who ought to be taken seriously. I mean, all the
candidates paying these pious visits to him in New York City in 2012, the
endorsement for Mitt Romney, he did those robocalls for Mitt Romney.
At one point, the Republicans were going to have Donald Trump
moderate a Republican presidential debate.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: But a month away from the Iowa caucuses, the Republican
race is far from settled and Trump`s plan to moderate a Republican debate
is making some mainstream Republicans uncomfortable.
KARL ROVE, GOP STRATEGIST: I think the Republican national chairman
ought to step in and say we strongly discourage every candidate from
appearing in a debate moderated by somebody who is going to run for
REPORTER: Karl Rove`s shot got a rise out of Trump.
TRUMP: Karl Rove gave us George Bush and George Bush crashed and
burned, and because of that, we have Obama.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Even though this is the way he talks about Republicans at
the highest level, Republicans keep going back, keep building him up and
building him up and building him up.
I mean, he did those robocalls for Mitt Romney in 2012, after that.
In 2014, Trump said more Republicans asked him to do robocalls for them
too. He did robocalls for Scott Brown when Scott Brown was running for
Senate in 2014 in New Hampshire.
He did robocalls for Mitch McConnell when running for reelection in
Kentucky. That was last year in 2014.
At one point, Donald Trump said on Twitter that in the Mitch
McConnell, he was proud to support Mitch McConnell specifically because he
wanted him to be the next speaker, which is funny because Mitch McConnell
is in the Senate. There`s no speaker in the Senate. But who cares? It`s
Donald Trump, we`ll do anything for Donald Trump.
The guy is a real estate developer and reality TV show celebrity.
He`s not really a politician or somebody who is really running for
political office. One of the ways you can tell he`s not a politician is
the way he talks about the country he supposedly wants to lead.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: The country is in serious, serious trouble. It`s a mess.
Our country is a total mess, a total and complete mess.
This country is a hell hole. We`re going down fast.
We`re not a brilliant country anymore. We`re a foolish country.
We`re a dumb country.
Sadly, the American dream is dead.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: People who talk like that aren`t necessarily really running
to try to lead the United States of America, right? This is something
else. This is PR. It`s paid celebrity PR.
I`ve been asking on the air for days, is this politics? Is this
something political that I`m looking at? Or this is basically an effort to
turn the political press into celebrity paparazzi?
Now, we know. Now we know. But he is technically in the race and
the Republican Party is going to have to pay a real price for that in terms
who have gets in the debates and what gets talked about and who else gets
heard and what the image of the Republican Party is.
But the Republican Party is not the victim here. They created this
mess. They created this monster.
I mean, if you have to hire paid actors to impersonate people who
politically support you, people don`t actually natively politically support
you. You are not a political animal that exists in nature.
But the Republican Party created Donald Trump. They made him into a
purported political figure. And now, they have to live with those
consequences. And that must be a strange realization. Not just for the
Republican Party that built up Donald Trump all these years and who is now
taking over the Republican presidential primary process.
It`s got to be a really strange realization for somebody who has been
standing on the sidelines of this process for years, basically telling
people to stop legitimizing Donald Trump.
I mean for an activist like Angelo Carusone, today has to be a very,
very strange day -- a vindicated day. He joins us in a moment.
MADDOW: Coming up next, we`ve got the guy that blew the whistle. Is
it whistle blowing? Yes. Blew the whistle, on Donald Trump paying actors
$50 cash to pretend to be his supporters at his presidential campaign
launch. That`s next.
We got lots more ahead. Stay with us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Wow. Whoa! That is some group of people. Thousands. So
nice. Thank you very much. That`s really nice. Thank you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
Donald Trump made a big deal yesterday about how big the crowd was
yesterday for his campaign announcement. Nobody else had that kind of
But what if some of the people in that room were actors? Paid by his
campaign to show up and pretend they supported Mr. Trump?
Mr. Trump and his campaign have denied this allegation, but it turned
out tonight in the "Hollywood Reporter", including a copy of the e-mail
reportedly sent to New York area actors, offering them $50 cash for less
than three hours work if they would show up and pretend to be supporters of
Donald Trump for president.
Joining us now is Angelo Carusone. He is the activist who first
alleged that Donald Trump hired actors to pose as his supporters at the
launch of his campaign. He is an executive vice president at the activist
group, Media Matters.
Mr. Carusone, thanks very much for being with us. I appreciate your
ANGELO CARUSONE, RECOGNIZED ACTOR AT TRUMP EVENT: Thank you for
MADDOW: So, you wrote this up at Medium.com. And I`m sort of
following your logic on this. But, basically, why did you feel like
something was off, that something didn`t seem right and deserved more
CARUSONE: Well, one, I mean I know that Donald Trump is pretty
disputable, and two, that he thinks money can basically solve any problems,
including not actually having a political base for being a presidential
And then, of course, the third was my own personal experience. I
have campaigned in the past. I`ve done events. I did an event one time at
Macy`s where from my perspective, it seems like there was an awfully large
number of suspicious, you know, New Yorkers that were casually going by the
event saying how they had to go inside to purchase some Donald Trump ties.
And from my perspective, I said, wow, they must be actors or paid
staff or whatever. And I sort of shrug off, but I`m aware of Donald
Trump`s chicanery and I didn`t that it would be absent here. And when I
saw that, one, he wasn`t highlighting the supporters in the stagecraft.
There was no photographs online, the video didn`t pan out at any point,
that was telling. It was a little bit of something I found curious.
And then, when I started to search around online, you know, when you
go to events, you post pictures of yourself at the events, because you
care. You`re happy to be there. I didn`t see any tweets from people
posting -- like selfies or pictures of themselves or pictures of Donald
Trump walking by them. I couldn`t find any of that stuff. And so, it said
it`s time to dig.
MADDOW: You say that you stumbled across one photo posted on
Instagram. So, did you find one image you felt like was key to unraveling
this plot. What`s the story there?
CARUSONE: And, basically, yes. So this guy, he uses social media to
post pictures of himself at gigs which makes perfect sense and recognized
him as an actor. I started doing digging. I discovered that other person
featured was an actress as well. That seemed coincidental. But again,
maybe actors like Donald Trump.
I still wasn`t going out on Twitter and saying, yes, I have this
smoking gun. I have some sources. I started to ask around if I could get
help to corroborate my suspicion and I did.
My sensitivity didn`t want anybody to get in trouble. I`m glad you
said that at the opening of the show. The actors didn`t do anything wrong.
I very firmly believe. That I knew this wouldn`t get throughout unless I
And so, basically, I wrote it up knowing that there are other outlets
out there like "The Hollywood Reporter" and MSNBC and others that would
have some clout to get a response from some of these -- you know, to get
some material to prove it.
So, but I did have some sources able to confirm that there were paid
actors there. So, I felt comfortable going forward with the post.
MADDOW: We weren`t -- we tried to follow your trail and some of our
own in terms of trying to talk directly with some these actors. Obviously,
the gold standard for us in understanding this story would be for somebody
to say, yes, I was paid $50 to be there. No, I`m not an actual supporter
of Donald Trump but I took this as an acting gig.
We`ve got nobody telling us. That the closest concrete information
we`ve got here is this e-mail blast reportedly posted -- a reported e-mail
blast posted tonight by "The Hollywood Reporter".
Is what the "Hollywood Reporter" posted tonight consistent with what
your sources told you in terms of how this was put together?
CARUSONE: Absolutely. And "The Daily Mail" also was able to
identify some additional source that they say confirmed that at least one
actor was, in fact, paid to attend and participate in the event. So, just
the fact that there are multiple reports with multiple sources, and I
checked with mine to make sure they weren`t the same as "The Daily Mail`s"
and they weren`t. So, you know, I felt like, yes, here is enough
information out there.
And so, again, it just -- I feel comfortable with the claim at this
MADDOW: Angelo Carusone, executive vice president, Media Matters,
thanks for helping us understand this tonight. We really appreciate you
being here. Thanks.
CARUSONE: Thanks so much.
MADDOW: Actors, really? I`ve been saying like, is this PR? Is this
a celebrity thing? Is this politics? Paid actors?
If this was a movie instead of my life, this would be the part that
would get X`d out for being too melodramatic and obvious.
All right. We`ll be right back. Stay with us.
MADDOW: This is a politics programming note for you. We`ve got a
scoop that we`re working on for tomorrow night. You might have seen that
we`ve been reporting for the last week on how the Republican presidential
primary process in kind of a quiet way is falling apart, largely because
New Hampshire Republicans are revolting.
New Hampshire Republicans are revolting against FOX News and the
Republican Party and how FOX and the RNC are planning to do the debate
process for the Republican presidential primary.
Now, as of today, it turns out that Republicans in Iowa and
Republicans in South Carolina have decided to join forces with the New
Hampshire Republicans in pressuring FOX News and the RNC and saying, no, to
the way they are planning to run the debates.
So, this is a heads up, essentially, that the primary process is
blowing up in all three early states in a big way now. We`re reporting
that out right now for tomorrow`s show. We`re doing our best to get
Republican guests. I know, here.
That`s our programming note for tomorrow. We`ll be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In my left hand, I have a feather. In my right
hand, a hammer. One of the reasons we got here today was because of a
gentleman named Galileo a long time ago who made a rather significant
discovery about falling objects and gravity field. And we thought that
where would be a better place to confirm his findings than on the moon?
And so, we thought we would try it here for you. And the feather
happens to be appropriately a falcon feather, for our falcon. And I`ll
drop the two of them here and hopefully they`ll hit the ground at the same
How about that? Mr. Galileo was correct in his findings.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: That video was taken on the moon in 1971. NASA astronaut
David Scott testing Galileo`s theory that gravity accelerates all objects
at the same rate. It worked, the hammer and the feather.
Galileo`s theory of gravity paved the way, of course, for Sir Isaac
Newton to develop an equation to determine how two objects interact
gravitationally. If you know the weight two of objects, say, the Earth and
that apple falling from the tree and you know the distance between those
two objects, then you should also know what the force of gravity is between
those two things. Apple meet head.
One way NASA has been figuring out ways to measure gravity and its
effects on Earth is through a program that`s called Gravity Recovery and
Climate Experiment, which becomes GRACE when you shorten it up.
GRACE is two satellites, each about the size of a small car orbiting
the Earth 150 miles apart from each other. The satellites circle around
the Earth and they`re designed basically to notice little dips and bumps in
Earth`s gravity. Basically, dense things, heavy things, things with a lot
of mass, exert more of a gravitational pull.
So, from space, using gravity, you can find dense and heavy things on
Earth. You know what is dense and heavy on Earth? Water.
It turns out if you want to find where the water is on Earth, gravity
can help. Specifically, if you want to find out where water is below the
Earth`s surface, satellites can use the force of gravity to figure that out
from space, which is so cool. I mean if you don`t know what you want to be
yet when you grow up, be a scientist. This stuff is so cool.
So, GRACE has been up there looking at the Earth, looking at water on
the Earth using the Earth`s gravitational field to figure out where it is.
And the GRACE scientists have just published two papers about something
amazing that they found and about what needs to be measured next.
So, you know that California is in a horrendous drought, right? When
California isn`t in drought, when the state needs water or drinking water,
water for irrigating crops, water for everything, it usually in normal
times, California takes about 60 percent of that water from rivers and
reservoirs above ground.
But we`re in a drought. And California rivers and reservoirs are dry
now because of the drought. And so, the state needs to get its water from
Yes, they`re trying to cut back dramatically in terms of consumption,
but California is also using water from a different source. They are
drilling for it. They`re pulling more and more water out of wells, out of
the groundwater. Rather than the rivers and the reservoirs that have
nothing left to give, they`re pulling the water out of the ground, out of
the aquifers that hold fresh water deep below ground.
Usually, only about 40 percent of California water comes out of the
ground, comes from drilling it out of the ground of water aquifers. But
now that they`re in drought, that`s where California is actually getting
most of its water now. They`re just pumping it out of the groundwater.
They`re pumping the groundwater out of the ground and using it.
The groundwater aquifer in the central valley in California is one of
the biggest aquifers on Earth. And GRACE, those two satellites, they`ve
been looking at it. GRACE for the last 10 years has been monitoring the 37
largest aquifers in the world, all over the world, including that big one
And they have found two things. The first one you are already
guessing. The first one is that we`re using up all the groundwater. All
over the world, aquifers are really stressed.
The worst one is apparently the Arabian aquifer which covers an area
where 60 million people live in the Middle East. Can`t imagine what might
go wrong there if everyone`s wells start to run dry and there`s no more
There is also a big one in India and Pakistan that is in very severe
trouble. That, of course, is the most densely populated regions on Earth.
And, yes, in the United States, our aquifer that is worst off in term
of being overtapped and not filling back up with water is that one in the
Central Valley where California`s tapping it so hard right now while
they`re in drought.
So, that`s one thing they have found. Ground water is in trouble.
Here`s the other thing that scientists found though, which is
slightly less mind boggling, I think, because it is way more solvable. And
it`s about measuring.
This neat trick they do with the satellites and using gravity to find
big deposits of ground water -- I mean, it`s neat, right? It helps you
locate and get basic information about fresh water that is underground.
The underground fresh water that you know makes human civilization
possible. It`s neat.
But apparently, it can`t give you super precise information about
exactly how much water is still in those aquifers. And that`s really
important to figure out, particularly if we are in danger of running those
thins dry. And, particularly, if essentially when and where those things
run dry, human beings aren`t going to be able to live there anymore.
I mean we need to know, right? If you have a ton of money in the
bank, you maybe don`t need to check the balance if you want to withdraw 20
bucks. If you have next to no money, you need to know what your balance is
before you go to the ATM.
So, we need to know what is left in terms of our groundwater.
Apparently what we need to do is drill them to figure that out. Drill the
groundwater aquifers, not to take the water out of them, but just literally
to count how many gallons are still down there, because we need to plan now
for how much is left.
The GRACE scientists writing in water resources research say this,
quote, "The depth and thickness of many large aquifers make it tough and
costly to drill or otherwise reach bedrock and understand where the
moisture bottoms out. But it has to be done."
The principal investigator of the study, the senior water scientists
at NASA`s jet propulsion lab, he makes it even clear. He says this, quote,
"We need to explore the world`s aquifers as if they had the same value as
oil reserves. We need to drill for water the same way that we drill for
What if we did that? What if we drilled, baby, drilled, not to
extract the stuff from the Earth but to figure out what was there so we
would at least know ahead of time where humans are and are not going to be
able to live from here on out, and by when they`re going to have to be
Joining us now is Jay Famiglietti. He`s a senior water scientist
with NASA, professor of Earth system science at the University of
California at Irvine, and he is the principal investigator on these two new
Professor Famiglietti, thanks very much for being here tonight.
Appreciate your time.
JAY FAMIGLIETTI, SENIOR WATER SCIENTIST WITH NASA: Thank you very
much for having me, Rachel.
And I have to say that you totally nailed that introduction. That
was a great synopsis of the papers and really a lot of the work that we
have been working really hard on, really over the last couple decade.
MADDOW: Thank you for saying so. I just want to give you a full
chance though if I got any of that wrong, you can correct me. It`s OK.
FAMIGLIETTI: No, no, you pretty much nailed it, and you actually
threw in a little recruiting for future environmental scientists which I
appreciate very much.
MADDOW: Well, here`s the part that I don`t understand, which you can
probably tell from the introduction I don`t understand, which is why is it
that you can see aquifers from space and you can tell when and where
they`re in danger. But you still say we actually need physically drill
them down here on Earth in order to figure out how much water they got
left? Can`t you see that from space, too?
FAMIGLIETTI: No, you really can`t. What we`re really seeing from
studying this gravity data is really the monthly changes in the water
storage. And so, we`re able to see how rapidly these aquifers are gaining
or losing water. And most of them are losing water. That`s what we found
in the study.
But it`s very difficult to assess how much water is there from space.
We just have no real way to do it. And I think that as you said, the only
real feasible way to do that is by exploration as if they were oil
MADDOW: Is it the same kind of technology that they would use to
test an oil reservoir`s size and characteristics?
FAMIGLIETTI: Absolutely. Absolutely. And if water had the same
value as oil, this exploration would have already been done.
MADDOW: If that value were privatized by corporations that could
gain governments to clear the way so that they could privatize the
resource, right? I mean, that`s the problem.
FAMIGLIETTI: Well, it`s -- you know, that`s a path that we probably
don`t want to go down with water. But we should in my opinion really be
thinking about charging. You know, it`s undervalued. So, we don`t give it
the respect that it deserves. We haven`t done the exploration. We waste a
lot of it.
MADDOW: In terms of the two different things that you have
identified, obviously one, that we ought to quantify what we got left
because it`s important and it`s finite in terms of human existence in
certain places on Earth. But then there`s other finding that there are a
lot of places where the aquifers are taxed and human persistence there
maybe getting towards its limits, is that a problem that is fixable? Are
we beyond any sort of human intervention in terms of stopping making that
FAMIGLIETTI: We can slow it down. I think that we are well past the
point with humanity, where we`re relying on what is renewable with respect
to water every year. We use more than we have available to us on a
So, the challenge now is to figure out at what rate we want to be
using what remains in these aquifers. I think for the big aquifers, we`re
not refilling them. And so, now, it becomes an issue of managing how much
we use in the future and also understanding how much is there.
Like you said, it`s the bank account. It is quite foolish to draw
checks and make withdrawals from a bank account without knowing how much is
MADDOW: Jay Famiglietti, senior water scientists at NASA,
professor of earth system science at U.C.-Irvine, thank you for helping us
understand it. It`s really scary. But you`ve written it in a way that`s
very clear. Thanks for helping us understand it.
FAMIGLIETTI: Thank you very much.
MADDOW: Appreciate it.
All right. There is a slew of giant news stories coming right at us,
including as promised a story from my mom.
Please stay with us.
MADDOW: OK. A little a peek into the newsroom here. There`s a
story that we`ve been watching tonight out of Washington that had an
embargo on it. It is a really important, totally history making
announcement that is going to be important basically to everybody in the
And everybody was saying we were not going to find out the details
until midnight tonight. Total embargo on the story. Apparently, that
embargo just broke just now and now we are getting the story in.
Standby, in just a second.
MADDOW: So, we have breaking news tonight about your wallet. This
is the story that had the freaking midnight embargo on it. But the embargo
just broke and so now we know.
OK. Here`s the story: more frequently than you might imagine, the
U.S. treasury redesigns our money. It`s how they protect against
counterfeiters by giving the bills a fresh new look once in a while.
Tonight, Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew has announced when the $10 bill
comes in for its next revision, check this out, it will emerge from that
process not looking like this, with Alexander Hamilton`s picture on it but
instead with the picture of a woman on it.
For the first time in modern history, a woman will appear on paper
money in this country. They are planning to release the new $10 bill in
2020, in time for the 100th anniversary of women getting the right to vote.
Now, which woman is it going to be? They`re not saying. Apparently,
they haven`t decided yet. They have decided on the gender but not the
Treasury is now saying they want to hear from the public about which
woman should appear on the new ten spot. One important consideration, she
should be a dead woman. We don`t know who they`re going to put on it, but
the next $10 bill will be a woman for sure.
They just broke the embargo on the story. We will post a link to
their suggestion site on our blog. Whew!
MADDOW: This has been an amazing week in the news. Hillary Clinton
announcing her campaign on Saturday. Jeb Bush announcing his campaign, but
without his last name on Monday. The Jeb launch totally squashed in the
news by the Donald Trump announcement, which we know is stacked with actors
paid $50 cash to act like Donald Trump supporters at that event.
Also, the number two guy in al Qaeda central got killed this week.
The manhunt for the escaped prisoners in upstate New York is still live,
which is incredible. Bernie Sanders is surging in New Hampshire. Oprah
Winfrey is being courted as a vice presidential running mate for a
It has been a very exciting news week already and it is only
Wednesday. But, tomorrow, potentially, is going to make us all forget that
anything else happened this week at all.
Tomorrow`s going to be nuts, because all in one day tomorrow -- first
of all, we`re going to have Supreme Court rulings. We don`t know which
ones yet, but at 10:00 a.m., we`re going to find out. The fate of lethal
injection, the fate of Obamacare, the fate of same-sex marriage nationwide.
We`re still waiting on rulings on all of those and a whole bunch of other
And it`s possible the court will put off the big ones until even
later and tomorrow won`t be any of the big cases but it is already June
17th. It`s getting kind of ridiculous.
So, that`s one thing. Tomorrow 10:00 a.m., potentially huge Supreme
In the other branch of government that is usually boring but
occasionally fantastically interesting huge news tomorrow from Congress.
This trade thing that President Obama has been trying to get passed, the
thing Republicans support but most Democrats don`t, looks like that trade
bill may be back up tomorrow.
You saw all those super melodramatic headlines about the Democrats
turning on the president on the issue and the president`s sway with his own
party. But Republicans have been a mess on this one, too. Yesterday,
Boehner fired three of the House Republicans on his team, people in charge
of counting votes for him. People who couldn`t count the votes on the
issue they themselves voted the opposite of the way they were supposed to
So, the trade bill is a big deal in terms of policy. It would affect
40 percent of the world`s economy. But the politic s around it are like a
hurricane without an eye. Nobody knows what`s going to happen. That might
be tomorrow, too, which will be a huge deal in Washington.
And, and, and -- if the Supreme Court isn`t big enough for you and
Congress and the huge bill aren`t big enough for you, we are also bracing
ourselves tomorrow for relatively huge news from God. From the guy whose
job description involves a direct line, apparently, though.
Tomorrow, Pope Francis is going to reveal his encyclical on the
climate. Parts of it have leaked already. It looks like it`s going to be
really aggressive, by which I mean really progressive.
But whether you like this pope or you don`t, whether you`re Catholic
or not, whether you`re worried about climate change or you`re not, what the
pope is about to do tomorrow with basically the highest level instruction
that the church ever gives to the 1.2 billion Catholics around the world,
this thing he`s going to do tomorrow has potential to change politics
around climate in profound, global, long-standing and possibly
We`re not going to know what`s in it until we see it, but we`ll see
it tomorrow, along with everything else that is going to happen tomorrow.
Honestly, tomorrow is going be too much. My recommendation, in terms
of dealing with tomorrow is that you should not even go to bed tonight.
You just stay up and wait for tomorrow`s glorious dawn of news to shine on
your face because you think this news week has been nuts, tomorrow`s done.
That does it for us tonight. We`ll see you again tomorrow.
Now, it`s time for "THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL."
Good evening, Lawrence.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY
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