'The Rachel Maddow Show' for Friday, August 28th, 2015
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Show: THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW
Date: August 28, 2015
Guest: Patrick Murray, Gina Womack, Jason Mitchell, Madeleine LeCesne
MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY, MSNBC GUEST HOST: And thanks to you at home
for joining us this hour. Rachel has the night off.
Just a few minutes ago in Norwood, Massachusetts, a half hour south
of Boston, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump wrapped up a
rowdy speech and press conference. During the conference, he talked about
gun violence, how many jobs he`s going to create as president, his feelings
for New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and his fellow Republican
candidate for president.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: What do you propose to do about the problems with gun
violence in this country?
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You have a problem of
mental health in this country. We have to take care of people and we have
to find out who these people are.
We also have an illegal immigrant problem. You know, a lot of the
gangs, it`s true, a lot of the gangs if St. Louis and Ferguson and Chicago
and the toughest and the meanest, the worst dudes in Baltimore. You have
seen it. They are illegal immigrants.
I`ll tell you one thing -- if I get in, they are going to be gone so
fast out of this country. They are going to be gone so fast.
I mean, you take a look at what`s happening. You have illegal
immigrants and gangs that you wouldn`t believe. They are going to be gone.
REPORTER: Why is Jeb Bush a frequent target of yours? And what do
you think about --
TRUMP: I would say Jeb Bush is a frequent target because when this
whole thing started, I thought he was going to be the primary competition.
But he`s drifted very much to the middle of the pack and he`s rapidly
disappearing. So, we`re going to have to start looking at somebody else.
REPORTER: Do you think Brady should settle with the NFL?
TRUMP: Leave Tom Brady alone, right? We love Tom Brady. As you
know he`s a very good friend of mine.
I know Tom Brady. Tom Brady is an honest guy. He`s a great guy.
He`s a great champion and winner. Leave him alone.
You know, we had a tremendous crowd at the airport. It was amazing.
I hope they were able to come over here, but we were greeted with hundreds
and hundreds of people at the airport.
There`s something happening. There`s a movement going on. Call it
silent majority, whatever you want but there`s a movement going on. Thank
you all very much.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: Fascinating. Donald Trump playing to the crowd and
the cameras at an event billed as a private fund-raiser in Norwood,
Massachusetts, although Donald Trump tonight said this was not a fund-
raiser and that he is doing just fine without raising money for his
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: You have said, you boasted that you didn`t need any money
to run for president.
REPORTER: Yet here we are at a fund-raiser. What happened?
TRUMP: This is gnat fund-raiser. Just so you understand. We are --
I guess they are paying for some of the basics in terms -- we have food, we
have I guess 1,500, 2,000 people, but this is not a fund-raiser. We are
not doing anything in terms of fund-raising.
REPORTER: What about the checks payable to you?
TRUMP: I think what they are doing is some of the people -- many
people are coming in they can pay whatever they want. They are doing
something to offset the tremendous cost of food for 2,000 people but this
is nothing -- this is not a fund-raiser.
REPORTER: How`s your money situation for the campaign? You`re
accepting donations, obviously.
TRUMP: It`s going great. It`s going great. I`m turning down
millions of dollars for the campaign. Millions.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: OK. It is clear that Donald Trump does not want
minute to think he is raising money, even though the signs at the entrance
of his event reminded folks to make checks payable to Donald Trump for
President Incorporated, or just have cash ready at the door.
In advance of tonight`s may be a fund-raiser, the host of the event,
a local car dealer named Ernie Boch Jr. told "The Boston Herald" that,
quote, "hundreds and hundreds of people have reached out to him, including
his enemies, to get a ticket to the event", and, quote, "You`ve got to
admit, Trump has changed the game."
All right. I mean, there`s kind of something to the last point,
because Donald Trump has insisted that he is so wealthy he doesn`t need
anyone else`s money to be competitive in this race. And this has become a
cornerstone of his stump speech. That he`s so wealth, he doesn`t need to
cater to lobbyist, or special interests, or donors. That he is a self-made
man who`s really, really rich and therefore beholden to no one but himself.
And that insistence on this immense wealth is made more believable
when he asks $100 to cover the price of food at a campaign stop, as
compared to other candidates who, of course, are busy headlining fund-
raisers charging up to $100,000 a head.
Here`s what`s most surprising about Donald Trump`s insistence on the
vastness of his personal wealth, it`s attracting voters who are anything
but wealthy themselves. As pointed out in the "New Yorker Magazine"
recently, billionaire Donald Trump reminds us from time to time again just
how rich he really is, has in a way become the candidate of choice for
working class voters.
A recent "Washington Post"/ABC poll shows that Trump holds a sizable
lead among Republican voters who do not have a college degree.
So, what is the appeal of Donald Trump to so many working class
voters? Now, there is no doubt that his populist and nativist rhetoric
play a role, but they like he is portrayed as, quote, "someone who embodies
the American dream", making your own fortune. And that can be a draw for
Donald Trump has managed to win over a sizable portion of the
Republican primary electorate by being the ultra rich guy, which is
something that even Mitt Romney had a hard time doing just four years ago.
And perhaps in an effort to further his appeal to that part of
electorate, tonight, Donald Trump will appear as a guest of former Alaska
governor and vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin who currently has a
hosting gig on a conservative cable network that is not FOX News.
So, against rather steep odds, Donald Trump has been able to frame
himself as the man of the people, independent of contributors or donors or
special interest, self made, the embodiment of the American Dream.
Now we find ourselves in the unexpected position of asking, can
Donald Trump really win the Republican nomination by being the choice of
working class voters?
Joining us now is Patrick Murray, who`s director of the Monmouth
University Polling Institute.
Thank you for being here.
PATRICK MURRAY, MONMOUTH UNIVERSITY POLLING INSTITUTE: My pleasure,
HARRIS-PERRY: All right. So, when you look at Trump`s polling
what`s the single most surprising finding that you have?
MURRAY: The biggest finding that we had is, if we go back just a few
months ago, as late as June, a majority of Republican voters said, "I do
not like Donald Trump, I do not like him here or there."
HARRIS-PERRY: I don`t like him on a train.
MURRAY: Right. And within six weeks, a majority of GOP voters said,
oh, yes, I do like Donald Trump. I think he` s somebody that I want to
look at for president, which means at least a quarter of Republican
electorate went from saying no way no how to Donald Trump, to Donald Trump
is my guy.
HARRIS-PERRY: OK. So, political science 101 tells me one of two
possibilities are at work here. One, that any kind of polling this early
is, is really a name recognition test. Whose name do you know best? And
that somehow Donald Trump who with I thought was at saturation point has
managed to have more of a name.
The other possibility is one that I think would be the more
surprising, that people have actually learned something about him as a
political candidate and, in fact, are the valance, the actual likes, not
just the no who he is, is now something that`s higher.
MURRAY: Yes, I mean, usually when we see a big change in somebody`s
approval rating, when they`re running for president, is because they
started out as unknown and they did something to become known. They burst
unto the scene somehow, and either positively or negatively.
What Donald Trump, when we were talking about into those June
numbers, everybody knew who he was. This was not an unknown commodity.
So, what did he do in the meantime? Well, the big thing he did is
say he was announcing for president and said he was going to build the
classiest wall that we`ve ever seen, and that somehow sparked people. And
I spent sometime out in Iowa recently, actually interviewing individual
voters to try to get a handle on this.
And there does seem to be a dichotomy. There`s the Trump voter and
the non-Trump voter, somebody who would never vote for Trump. And the
Trump voter, there are other people that they go to, but they tell me that,
I think we need somebody mean, I think we need somebody who`s tough, I
think we just need somebody who`s going in there to go kick some butt.
And that`s what really the appeal is. It has nothing to do with
ideology or issues. It really has to do with him coming off as someone who
doesn`t talk like a rich person and someone that talks like -- that we
never see in politics.
HARRIS-PERRY: So, has the Republican Party -- are they basically
reaping the whirlwind of the "government is awful" sort of narrative? I
mean, part of what Donald Trump is, is not playing by the typical rules or
behaving in way that we expect a politician or government official to. So,
given that there`s been a strong discourse coming out of the right that
government itself is bad, that government itself is the actual problem, is
this kind of natural outlook of --
MURRAY: Yes. I mean, this is the problem that`s happened in
Washington. When we ask Democrats and Republicans what they think of the
Democratic and Republican Party in Congress, Democrats have a better
opinion of their own parties representative than Congress than Republicans
have of their own party`s representatives.
And yes, that`s what seems to be happening right now is that we don`t
need a real Republican. All these news about Donald Trump and his former
liberal policies and sending money to the Clinton, that just doesn`t matter
to them anymore because they say he`s outside of politics, and the career
politicians have been lying to us all along, so why not go with this guy?
HARRIS-PERRY: How much of this is about in the discourse around
nativism, though? So, on one hand, we need someone mean but he`s mean in a
very specific way. Discourse has been about immigration and about sort of
these bands of gangs of illegals, even dropping Ferguson in that part of
it. Is the white, working class vote just an anti-people of color vote? I
don`t want to think it is but it feels that way.
MURRAY: There`s certainly a segment of that that he`s latched on to
and he`s gotten people out. You`ve got to remember that, you know, in most
polls Donald Trump is talking out at 30 percent, which means 70 percent of
Republicans preferring somebody else. In fact, we`re looking at the polls
right now, the one surging the most is Ben Carson.
He is tapping in to that. It is because we`re talking about a 17-
candidate field, I think we are seeing more because it is coalescing around
one candidate, whereas voters of other issues and concerns are dispersed
among the rest of the field.
HARRIS-PERRY: Although, of course, Ben Carson shares with Donald
Trump being not a politician, not being an elected official, not being sort
of -- not even having specific policies for the most part.
MURRAY: Well, this is what was interesting because when I went to
Iowa, I would say that more than half of the Iowa voters that I talked to
said, we do want somebody who is not in politics, but they were split into
two camps. There was a Trump camp and then there was a Carson and Fiorina
And the Trump camp said, yes, I might consider Ben Carson. But the
Carson and Fiorina camps said, no way, no how, would I ever vote for Donald
Trump. So, there is a difference there. They feel that Carson and Fiorina
are presidential in their bearing. Donald Trump is not.
So I think what we will see -- and here`s the key -- is that what we
saw in 2012 through the six-week trend where candidates like a Rick Perry
or Santorum or Herman Cain would rise on a six weeks and then plateau. And
then at the end of the six weeks, we`d see them go down over a few weeks.
Donald Trump just hit six weeks this week.
So, let`s start looking, we`re going to pay close attention next week
to see what happens with the polls coming out --
HARRIS-PERRY: If he ticks up, you`ve got to come back and explain.
MURRAY: Yes, we`re going to stump even further.
HARRIS-PERRY: Patrick Murray, director of the Monmouth University
Polling Institute, thank you very much for joining us tonight.
MURRAY: My pleasure.
HARRIS-PERRY: And there is a lot more ahead, including Hillary
Clinton ramping up her campaign with a page out of President Obama`s
Plus, on the tenth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, there`s one
person visiting New Orleans today that might make you say, really?
Stay with us.
(VIDEO CLIP PLAYS)
HARRIS-PERRY: The star of this summer`s hit movie "Straight Outta
Compton", New Orleans born and bred, Jason Mitchell, is going to join me
tonight to talk about the journey he and his city have taken over the last
ten years. You do not want to miss this.
Stay with us.
HARRIS-PERRY: Back in early 2007, this was one of the most unlikely
things happening on the political landscape.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: On a frigid morning, Senator Barack Obama fired up a crowd
BARACK OBAMA, THEN-PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I stand before you today
to announce my candidacy for president of the United States of America.
REPORTER: At the state house, where Abraham Lincoln called on a
divided nation to unite, Obama pledged to bridge a political divide,
offering himself as part of a new generation that can build a more hopeful
OBAMA: Let`s be the generation that makes future generations proud
of what we did here.
REPORTER: Facing a field of political veterans, he played his
newcomer status as an asset. Early polls show him third, trailing both
Senator Hillary Clinton and John Edwards.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: Yes, on the day that Senator Obama entered the race,
he was rated 16 percent -- 16 percent.
Senator Hillary Clinton meanwhile looked unstoppable, 61 straight
polls showed her as the inevitable Democratic presidential nominee.
Eighteen months later, the Democratic nominee was not Hillary
Clinton. The win and nomination belonged to Senator Obama.
Now, it`s been more than eight years since his campaign kicked off.
So, it`s reasonable that most people have forgotten how he actually secured
the nomination. Most of what we remember is soaring rhetoric, the
innovative social media, memorable speeches, the utterly cool, compelling
campaign captured on glossy magazine covers.
Undoubtedly, we think those are the things that won the nomination
that year. But behind the flash and the Facebook of Obama `08 was a good
old-fashioned war room where old fashioned campaign professionals assessed
every single step on the path to the nomination.
Flash is great for media minutes. But what wins campaigns is rolling
up the sleeves and slogging through. And for all of the virtues, that is
what the Obama campaign really excelled at in 2008. They knew that in
order to win a nomination, they needed to count delegates, not votes.
Obama `08 worked tirelessly to get delegates they needed because
those are the people select the presidential nominee at the convention and
delegates come from everywhere. Even small overlooked places like North
Dakota. They come from caucuses, as well as primaries. The Obama team was
working on delegate math long before Hillary ahead in 61 polls Clinton was.
Here`s what senior Clinton staffer had to say ahead of Super Tuesday,
quote, "It`s very hard to gain a big advantage in small states."
Well, as "The Washington Post" noted at the time, "Of course, he was
wrong. The small states did matter between Idaho, Nebraska, Vermont,
Maine, Mississippi, North Dakota, Washington, D.C., Hawaii, Alaska, Senator
Obama would amass 118 delegates to Clinton`s 57."
This was strategy, targeting delegate by delegate. Senator Obama`s
campaign manager said it this way, "every delegate counts". Every delegate
counts. It was that strategy and that focus that led to this moment.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TV ANCHOR: Senator Barack Obama is as of this hour the presumptive
Democratic nominee for president of the United States. As the polls close
in South Dakota, NBC News projecting Obama has cleared the plateau of 2,118
delegates needed to clinch.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: We are in the midst of deciding who will be the next
Democrat to clinch the party`s nomination. And there is a sense among many
people that Hillary Clinton could lose her front runner status yet again
because she doesn`t have the flash that President Obama had in 2008.
There`s a sense that despite her lead in the polls, despite her fund-
raising, that she is vulnerable. Because someone more compelling like, I
don`t know, maybe Vice President Biden they might be able to take her down.
Well, maybe, but despite the growing focus on a possible Biden bid,
one thing is crystal clear. Hillary Clinton seems to have learned the
lessons of 2008. This time, she is taking a page from the Obama playbook.
Today, senior Clinton campaign officials claim she has already
secured one fifth of the delegates needed for the nomination. Every
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This is really about
how you put the numbers together to secure the nomination. As some of you
might recall, in 2008, I got a lot of votes, but I didn`t -- I didn`t get
enough delegates. So I think it is understandable that my focus is going
to be on delegates, as well as votes this time.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: Still ahead tonight, one of the stars of the movie
"Straight Outta Compton" will be here live. You`re not going to want to
And if that weren`t enough, there will also be an explanation ahead
of this. Yes, that`s former President George W. Bush. Yes, that is George
W. Bush dancing.
No, I`m not planning to teach him any new moves, but I will offer an
explanation of what we are watching there, coming up.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
INTERVIEWER: Is there someone out there today that isn`t on the
court but would consider for the court?
TRUMP: Well, I don`t want to mention names. I think it`s
inappropriate to mention names. It`s certainly at this stage, you know,
it`s so early.
INTERVIEWER: How about your sister?
TRUMP: My sister is great. I have a sister who`s on the Court of
Appeals, and she`s fantastic.
INTERVIEWER: She would be a good Supreme Court justice?
TRUMP: I think she would be phenomenal. I think she`d be one of the
best. But, frankly, I think she is -- we`ll have to rule that out. But I
do have a sister who`s very smart and very good person.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: That was Donald Trump this week praising his sister,
Mary Anne Trump-Berry, a senior judge on the third circuit court of
Most people had no idea that Mr. Trump has a sister who`s a federal
But after that interview, "The National Review" labeled her, quote,
"a pro-abortion extremist judge", and wrote, quote, "when candidates praise
relatives who have served in public office, voters are entitled to keep the
relatives records in mind."
The Jeb Bush campaign apparently agrees. Bush`s spokesman and
campaign manager both retweeted "The National Review" piece and both made
it sound like Mr. Trump had said he would nominate his sister to the high
Look, even when you are battling Donald Trump, it`s a little low to
go after someone for praising his sister.
When you are Jeb Bush, I`m thinking it is not best to talk about
people`s siblings because when you are Jeb Bush, you have a sibling with a
little baggage of his own. And when you are Jeb Bush today, this is what
your brother is doing, dancing in New Orleans on the tenth anniversary of a
disaster that is synonymous with his administration`s inept and callous
mismanagement of one of the nation`s defining moments of loss. Oh, yes,
also encouraging people to remember that moment as a time when good things
(BEGIN VIDEO CLPI)
GEORGE W. BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT: Hurricane Katrina is a story of
loss beyond measure. It is also a story of commitment and compassion. I
hope you remember what I remember and that is 30,000 people were saved in
the immediate aftermath of the storm by U.S. military personnel, by
Louisiana law enforcement and by citizens who volunteered.
I hope you remember what I remember is the thousands who came here on
a volunteered basis to provide food for the hungry and to help find shelter
for those who had no home to live in. There are people all around our
country who prayed for you. Many of whom showed up. So they could say
they helped a fellow citizen who was hurting.
Laura and I are in New Orleans to remind our country about what
strong leadership means. And we`re here to salute the leaders.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: All right. For some of us, that was nearly impossible
So let me just say what I hope we`ll remember is a bit different. I
hope you will remember that more than 1,800 people died. I hope you
remember what I remember, that it took three days before anyone was
evacuated from the Superdome or the convention center.
I hope you remember, what I remember in the aftermath of the storms,
survivors were given one-way tickets to evacuate, so many could never find
their way home.
I hope you remember what I remember that as the waters of Lake
Pontchartrain were pouring over the levee at the 17th Street canal
President Bush was delivering a birthday cake to Senator John McCain.
And I hope you remember what I remember that as thousands found
themselves trapped with no food, or water or sanitation, President Bush
remained on vacation for two days, hanging out with a country music star
among other things.
Just part of why it is so hard to hear and to watch as President Bush
seems to be taking a victory lap ten years after his decisions undoubtedly
contributed to the suffering and loss in the city of New Orleans.
And President Bush is not the only one taking a victory lap. New
Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu has a project called Katrina 10, touting the
city as America`s best comeback story. There are plenty of people who see
a more complicated narrative in the last decade, and that`s where Katrina
truth comes in.
Here`s their website. As you can see, it`s designed as the mirror of
Katrina 10, with a couple of tweaks, resilient New Orleans becomes
resistant New Orleans.
Joining us now is Gina Womack, executive director of Families and
Friends of Louisiana`s Incarcerated Children, and her organization, along
with the Advancement Project, are behind the Katrina truth initiative.
Gina, thank you so much for being here tonight.
GINA WOMACK, KATRINA TRUTH INITIATIVE: Hi, Melissa. Thank you for
HARRIS-PERRY: So, talk to me about why you felt and the Advancement
Project and others felt that it was necessary to offer some alternative
truth to a lot of what we have been hearing in recent days.
WOMACK : Yes, I think it could be summed up perfectly when one of
our parents said that listening to what is going on and what`s happening in
the city this week is much like visiting some people are celebrating like a
wedding and for some, it`s a funeral. So, I think that sums up why the
katrinatruth.org website was so important to give a narrative to what was
being said and making it feel that this situation was more like a wedding
or a celebration, where many black Americans were really focusing and
seeming like a funeral.
HARRIS-PERRY: So, one of the biggest claims that we have heard made
from local leadership and national leadership is that the school system of
New Orleans is fixed. That it is a model for the nation.
You work with young people and families there in the city and have
for many, many years. What`s your experience?
WOMACK: Yes. So, our experience is definitely like a tale of two
cities. So even post, pre-Katrina, we knew some of our families, their
children were attending failing schools. However, what is happening even
after Katrina is that many of those children now are having to travel
across the city to attend failing schools.
So, when we`re putting forth that parents have choice, many of our
black families actually do not have a choice because none of us would
choose to send our children to a failing school.
HARRIS-PERRY: You talked about the continuing racial divide that
exists in the city. And one of the big demographic shifts is about a loss
of African-American population, sort of a 100,000 African-American persons
lost in the city versus fewer than 20,000. And also, of course, a loss of
political power that has been part of that.
How does that loss of power and population for African-Americans
figure into this narrative about a better, stronger New Orleans?
WOMACK: Well, I think it is really exacerbates the situation that
we, as Families and Friends of Louisiana`s Incarcerated Children have been
working for a long time. Our black families have been left out of the
narrative for decades, right? And so, black families whose children have
been caught in a juvenile justice system have really been not having the
power necessary to change the laws that see their children as children and
actually see the families as humans and people that have been looking for
And so, rather what we are continually seeing is that our families
have been are being erased and they`re easily forgotten. What the
katrinatruth.org Web site intends to do is resist that narrative and to say
that Black Lives Matter and their voices actually need to be heard.
HARRIS-PERRY: So, Gina, talk to me a little bit about this
challenge. Obviously, you live there in the city of New Orleans. You
actually have seen the resilience of people. That language used over and
over again, resilience.
People have come back under tough circumstances. They have made
lives in that city and it does feel like a decade out, we want to celebrate
the work that ordinary people have done. On the other hand, three
presidents in town in three days, all sort of saying that everything is all
How do you -- how do you balance that?
WOMACK: Well, for us, if you are black and if you are in New
Orleans, if you are in Louisiana, if you`re in this country, we actually
have always had to struggle and we`ve made do and have come and tried to
work through this situations that have been presented.
And so, for me, and for our families, it`s really a time that we
really want to say, again, that what our families -- what we are
experiencing as black people need to continue to be part of the narrative.
HARRIS-PERRY: Gina Womack, executive director of Families and
Friends of Louisiana`s Incarcerated Children, or FFLIC, thank you very much
for joining us this evening. And take care of yourself at the moment of
this tenth anniversary.
WOMACK: Thank you, Melissa. Thank you for having me.
HARRIS-PERRY: Thank you.
There is much more to come tonight. New Orleans native and "Straight
Outta Compton" star Jason Mitchell joins us live in just a moment.
We`ll be right back.
HARRIS-PERRY: Programming notice about a big weekend here on MSNBC.
Tomorrow morning on my show, we`re going to have an interview with senior
adviser to President Obama, Valerie Jarrett. She was with him every step
of the way in New Orleans and I had a chance to ask about the president`s
visit to the Crescent City. That`s tomorrow at 10:00 Eastern, right here
We`ll also have Lieutenant General Russel Honore on the show
tomorrow. Now, you remember that General Honore`s leadership after
Hurricane Katrina earned him the respect of the nation. Again, that`s also
tomorrow 10:00 a.m. Eastern, right here on MSNBC.
And on Sunday, I`m going to be a guest on "Meet the Press" with Chuck
Todd. Tune in to see my first appearance on the nation`s longest-running
And then catch MSNBC Sundays "MHP" show live from D.C. at 10:00 a.m.
Yes, two days, three shows, summer vacation is over. I hope you join
us for all of it.
And, oh, yes, there`s more to come on this show, including Jason
Mitchell, the star of "Straight Outta Compton."
Stay with us.
HARRIS-PERRY: In 2005, Madeleine LeCesne was a third grader at
Lusher Elementary School in uptown New Orleans. Creative and smart, she
was high achieving. Madeleine particularly loved writing.
That same year, 18-year-old Jason Mitchell, a recent graduate of
Fortier High School spent his days washing dishes at the Ritz Carlton Hotel
on Canal Street and hustling in his Hollygrove neighborhood to get by.
Madeleine and Jason were just two young people living in New Orleans.
Ten years ago, when the levee failed and the city flooded and their lives
changed decisively as their homes and belongings were destroyed and their
Now, Madeleine and her family evacuated first to Nashville and then
to Texas and eventually they found their way back to New Orleans.
Jason and his people landed in Texas. But Jason was back in New
Orleans within six weeks of the storm. Like so many other New Orleanians,
they came back and found both their city and themselves transformed.
Ten years later, these two young people are each making their own
very unique mark on the world.
Madeleine has become an accomplished poet and creative writer. Next
month, she`s going to begin her first year as a college student at
Princeton. She was among an elite group of young writers appointed a
national student poet at the White House and introduced at the event by
First Lady Michelle Obama.
Madeleine also had the honor of producing another former teen poet at
the White House poetry workshop.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MADELEINE LECESNE, NATIONAL STUDENT POET: I would like to thank Mrs.
Obama who`s been a champion for the National Student Poets and all
students. And now, introduce former teen poet and president of the United
States, President Obama.
OBAMA: Thank you. Thank you so much. Thank you. Everybody, please
have a seat.
Well, first of all, let me thank Madeleine for the wonderful
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: All right. And you may have already seen what Jason
Mitchell is up to these days. After working with for a few odd jobs, he
enrolled in acting classes and has a talent that has taken him to Hollywood
and right now, he is giving a command performance as hip hop legend Eazy-E
in the number one movie in the country right now, "Straight Outta Compton."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They want MWA? Let`s give them MWA. This is
only the tip of the iceberg, gentlemen.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What is going on? What do you have in the bag?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you kidding me? You can`t take that on the
(EN VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: "Variety Magazine" just named Jason one of the ten
actors to watch in 2015. By the way, that is an honor received in previous
years by eventual Oscar winners, LIKE Lupita Nyong`o and Adrian Brody.
Tonight, I have two New Orleans natives joining me, Jason Mitchell,
who stars in the number one movie "Straight Outta Compton" as rapper Eazy-
E, and Madeleine LeCesne, who`s the national student poet.
So nice to have you both.
JASON MITCHELL, ACTOR: Nice to be here.
MADELEINE LECESNE, NATIONAL STUDENT POET: Thank you.
MITCHELL: Thank you for having us.
LECESNE: Thank you for having us.
HARRIS-PERRY: Jason, let me start with you.
Your performance in "Straight Outta Compton" is extremely powerful.
Let me ask --
MITCHELL: Oh, wow. Thank you.
HARRIS-PERRY: It was incredible. Let me ask you a little bit about
-- do you draw on your experiences growing up in New Orleans to inform that
MITCHELL: Absolutely. Absolutely. It`s been a gift and a curse
that I say, you know, because I`ve lived so much life, and as an actor it
helps you. It helps me find certain things that I could put out, you know.
It turns into gold on camera.
HARRIS-PERRY: Now, Madeleine, speaking of gold, you are headed to
LECESNE: Thank you. Thank you.
HARRIS-PERRY: Did you write about New Orleans in your experiences in
New Orleans in your college essays?
LECESNE: I actually didn`t write about New Orleans. I don`t write
about New Orleans very often just because it has such an intimidating
history of inspiring art, but I would say that in my writing there are
always themes of displacement, loss and genuine concern for homes. So, it
definitely permeates everything that I do.
HARRIS-PERRY: That idea of displacement and loss, but also this idea
of home, Jason, you and I met when you were in New York to do the "MHP"
show. One of the things I asked is where you went to high school. Because
in New Orleans, that`s the first way you form where somebody is, where they
are from, what`s important to them.
HARRIS-PERRY: There`s a funny thing about the high schools both of
you went to, Lusher and Fortier --
MITCHELL: Oh, man, you went to Lusher? They didn`t tell me this.
HARRIS-PERRY: Maybe you want to tell the rest of America what`s
going on there.
MITCHELL: Yes, the school that I went to, it was kind of infamous
for being pretty much the worst school uptown. After the storm, they
didn`t bring it back. They gave it to Lusher. They were more of the nerd
kind of people.
Yes, they gave it to them and it`s a beautiful school. It was more
like lean on me when I went. There but it is a beautiful school now. It
is immaculate to see where it came from. So, it`s good.
HARRIS-PERRY: So, Madeleine, talk about that a little bit, what it
mean to be at Lusher and it did serve different students in a very
different kind of space.
LECESNE: Well, I can say when I originally attended Lusher
Elementary School, the majority of the students were students of color and
low income. Since Katrina, the demographic has definitely shifted. And I
can say that`s it is not representative of the student body and school I
grew up in.
It is majority white and majority of students that live in a
neighborhood that was heavily gentrified following Katrina. So, I would
say that Katrina definitely shaped the school that I went to, and I can`t
say that it`s for the better. I`m very lucky that I did get to go to such
an amazing school, but I`ve seen both sides of it and I prefer it before
HARRIS-PERRY: I want to ask you both about being artists.
Madeleine, you are a poet and writer. Jason, you are an actor.
How is your art help you to navigate this world that is post-Katrina
MITCHELL: I think in art, everybody speaks from an honest place. In
life, you don`t always get to speak from an honest place. Everybody has a
job they work at that they can`t talk over. You know, there`s just a
protocol in life and, you know, manners that people have to follow.
But in art, it helps you express those things you have built up
inside. For us, I think we are in a special position because even though
we were together on something and we seen our city come together with
Katrina, it was unlike anything we had ever seen. It builds up something
in you that you don`t really know how to release.
In art, it kind of -- it helps you ground. It helps you ground.
LECESNE: I would probably say that the way that I approach art is
just considering it as pure emotion, something that doesn`t have to be
explained. I was only 9 when Katrina hit. So, that was really the first
time that my world kind of became inexplicable. It was something I
couldn`t put back together.
And it was the first thing I really lost. So, to lose your entire
city is -- having that be the first thing you lose is an incredible lesson
in life and you can`t piece it together no matter how hard you try. So, I
approach art as seeing a place where I don`t need to make sense. I can do
whatever I want and I can kind of find beauty in the chaos that I create
myself and it is chaos I control, which is something that I need after
being a child of Katrina.
HARRIS-PERRY: Jason, what`s your next project?
MITCHELL: I just got the news that I booked "Scar Island" yesterday.
So, I will be working with Samuel L. Jackson and Corey Hawkins again to do
the new King Kong movie and it`s going to be great. It`s going to be
great. I`m really, really excited.
HARRIS-PERRY: Congratulations. Madeleine, you know, if you are at
Princeton, that means you are 45 minutes from 30 Rock here. Come and see
us. We`d love to see you again during your time at Princeton.
Jason Mitchell and Madeleine LeCesne, thank you so much for
everything that you have done and continue to do.
MITCHELL: Thank you for having us.
LECESNE: Thank you.
HARRIS-PERRY: Thanks for being here tonight.
Coming up --
MITCHELL: Thank you.
LECESNE: Thank you.
HARRIS-PERRY: Coming up, a very special edition of Debunktion
Junction where we ask who else is wearing this cap? Who does that?
Stay with us.
HARRIS-PERRY: Debunktion Junction, what`s my function?
We have got so many good ones tonight. Rachel is letting me drive
the train in her place. So, here we go.
I would like to introduce you to Pennsylvania Attorney General
Kathleen Kane. She`s a Democrat, elected in 2012 and took office in 2013.
She landed on the national radar when she refused to defend Pennsylvania`s
ban on same-sex marriage.
More recent headlines about her, though, have been more of the -- is
she going to prison variety? Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane
was just charged with illegally leaking secret documents from a grand jury
in order to embarrass a rival. She was also charged with lying to
investors to cover it up.
So, this has been the year of states attorney general indicted in
Pennsylvania, Utah, Texas. Attorneys general have been getting in trouble
all over the country.
But in the case of Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane, this
week, she had to appear personally in court to find out if she would have
to stand trial over the charges. Now, it must be daunting if the top law
enforcement officer in the state to have to stand trial and to stand there
as a potential defendant on the wrong side of the courtroom.
So, true or false, this was Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen
Kane reporting to the courthouse this week in Pennsylvania? Is that true
HARRIS-PERRY: That`s right. False.
Weirdly, this is not Kathleen Kane. Let`s roll the whole tape.
OK. The woman walks by who looks a lot like Kathleen Kane and then
another woman in red follows who also looks like Kathleen Kane. You see,
the first woman distracted the press and had a lot of pictures taken of
That`s not AG Kane. That is Kathleen Kane`s twin sister Ellen.
Ellen goes out and gets a lot of pictures and then, Kathleen follows behind
her in red and everyone is confused and don`t quite know what to do.
Genius, just like "Parent Trap", except instead of a zany plot to get
your parents back together, this is about a high-ranking official facing
seven years in prison. The twin sister switcheroo did work to distract
some of the media from Pennsylvania`s attorney general who was ordered this
week to stand trial. Her next court appearance is scheduled for October.
Note to Rachel, send two cameras.
Now, next up, Maine Governor Paul LePage recently crowned America`s
craziest governor by politico.com. Governor LePage is currently facing
potential impeachment by the Maine state legislature. He memorably
responded to that threat by saying publicly, he doesn`t need to be
impeached. He`ll simply quit if enough Maine residents write him letters
telling him they want him to go.
The Maine governor is also one of the only politicians in the country
to endorse fellow Republican Governor Chris Christie`s long-shot
presidential campaign. Now, he made that endorsement right after Governor
Christie announced he was running.
But then, this week, Governor LePage stabbed Chris Christie in the
back, maybe. At a conservative talk radio interview in Boston, look at
what happened, Maine Governor Paul LePage wearing the trademark Donald
Trump for President "Make America Great Again" baseball cap and he got it
in black, very slimming.
That has to be a shocking photo for Chris Christie to see. But is it
true? Did Maine Governor Paul LePage switch his support from Chris
Christie to Donald Trump? True or false.
HARRIS-PERRY: That is false. According to Howie Carr radio show,
the governor is backing Christie. It was just a little fun with a good
And while the jury is still out on whether this qualifies as a good
hat, apparently Chris Christie can breathe easy. He still has the support
of Governor Paul LePage, although you have to wonder if it is a bit shaky.
And, finally, gerrymandering gone wrong. In April, the Columbia,
Missouri city council voted to create something called the Business Loop 70
community improvement district. It was a district drawn with no registered
voters, which was supposed to give local business owners the power to
impose a small sales tax. Revenue from which would go towards, well,
improving the district.
However, this week, it was reported that the council, oops,
accidentally left one registered voter inside the district lines. Meaning
the fate of the proposed tax rate is in the hands of one voter. One,
deciding whether to raise taxes in this part of Columbia, Missouri.
Now is that actually true or false?
HARRIS-PERRY: Yes, that one is true. Allow me to introduce you to
Business Loop 70`s voting majority. Her name is Jen Henderson. She`s a
college student at the University of Missouri. Go Tigers!
Here`s the district that was drawn up in April. And you can see that
the city council left Ms. Henderson`s home squarely inside the boundaries.
Luckily, once the group found out they made a mistake, they decided
to bring the district`s only voter in and present their ideas to her as
fairly as possible. No, just kidding. They have tried to get her to give
up her vote but Henderson says, the more she researched the situation, and
the tax thing just didn`t seem as good as they were telling her, and it
culminated with them trying to get her to unregistered her vote.
Well, she has not relinquished her vote. She says she`s not sure
what she will decide she is leaning away from the tax.
And as for the Business 70 community improvement district, well, they
have learned that every vote truly does matter.
Now, that does it for us tonight. Rachel is going to be back on
Monday. I`m going to be back in the morning, a few hours on my own show
"MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY". That`s 10:00 a.m. tomorrow morning.
But now, as Rachel would say, it is time to go to prison.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY
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