'The Rachel Maddow Show' for Wednesday, November 25th, 2015
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Show: THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW
Date: November 25, 2015
Guest: Jamie Kalven
CHRIS HAYES, "ALL IN" HOST: So I want to thank you, the viewers, for
coming back night after night, and to all the amazing staff and crew here
who make this show happen. I`m very grateful to be able to do this job.
THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW starts right now. Good evening, Rachel.
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: I`m very grateful that do you this job,
HAYES: Thank you, Rachel.
MADDOW: Thank you. Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family, Chris.
HAYES: You, too. You, too.
MADDOW: Thanks to you at home for joining us tonight. It`s really
good to be with you.
On the eve of the holiday break, I should tell that you as you could
just tell, Chris Hayes was doing his show live after my show tonight.
Lawrence O`Donnell is also going to be here live.
So, officially, I know that we are sort of -- nearing the holiday
break, but your holiday break does not start until after Lawrence`s live
show is over tonight. So, buckle in. This is sometime technically part of
a school night, which makes me all the more happy that you`re here.
In 2004, our friend Al Sharpton, who now works here at MSNBC, Al has a
show here Sunday mornings at MSNBC, Al Sharpton as you may remember in
2004, he ran for the Democratic nomination for president of the United
States that year. Al Sharpton did not win that nomination, but his
campaign was a hoot. And every debate he was in was a better debate and a
lot more fun because he was in it.
And during his campaign for the presidency in 2004, the Reverend Al
Sharpton was asked to host "Saturday Night Live." and he said yes and
naturally, he did great. Look at him. It`s great.
But that invitation and in accepting that invitation that led to an
interesting TV asterisk in the 2004 presidential campaign that year,
because it led to an equal time claim from one of Al Sharpton`s competitors
in the Democratic race that year. Basically, the FCC rules kick in after
an appearance like that because Al Sharpton did not have to pay for all
that air time on NBC that Saturday night in the 2004 campaign.
And it wasn`t just NBC or some other network covering him as a news
story, it wasn`t a interview with him as a candidate, it was this other
thing that NBC did on its comedy show that he did not have to pay to be
And so, under the rules, that gave all the other candidates running
against him for the Democratic nomination, it gave them the opportunity to
say, formally and legally, hey, we want just as much time as you just gave
to Al Sharpton. Give us equal time. Or in the case of the 2004 race, the
way it went down, it was give me equal time. Because the only candidate
who put in an equal-time claim after Al Sharpton hosted "Saturday Night
Live" that year was -- Mr. Charisma himself, Joe Lieberman. Remember Joe
Lieberman was a Democrat, kind of?
Joe Lieberman was successful in his equal-time claim in the 2004
campaign. And what that meant was that NBC affiliates in a couple of
states, I don`t know why it was only a couple of states, but I think it was
only two states and I think weirdly, it was Missouri and California for
some reason, that reason seemed to be lost in history, but NBC affiliates
in those states had to spend part of their Saturday night showing a
scintillating Joe Lieberman town hall on the subject of taxes for exactly
the same amount of time that they had shown Al Sharpton being hilarious on
"Saturday Night Live."
So, great deal for Joe Lieberman`s campaign. Not really a great deal
for anybody else. But them`s the rules, that`s how it works.
Now, it is a decade later, and this time the more fascinating than
most candidates is a very different kind of candidate it is Donald Trump
and Donald Trump, too, was asked to host "Saturday Night Live" during his
run for the presidency this year. Mr. Trump hosted "Saturday Night Live"
earlier this month on November 7th.
And we wondered at the time whether or not any of the other Republican
candidates would put in a claim for equal time and we know that five Donald
Trump competitors, five candidates for the Republican nomination did put in
claims for equal time. One of them, George Pataki, is apparently still
negotiating the terms of his equal time claim.
But four of the candidates have now resolved the issue with NBC and
now today, for the first time, we are starting to get an inkling of what
they are going to get.
So, buckle up for the holiday break because it`s going to involve a
whole lot more Jim Gilmore than you were expecting.
Donald Trump got 12 minutes and 5 seconds of air time when he hosted
"Saturday Night Live." And so, 12 minutes and maybe the five seconds, too,
12 minutes, at least is about to be dished out for free to Jim Gilmore, who
is still running, Mike Huckabee who is still running, John Kasich, who is
still running, and Lindsey Graham, who is still running.
And I feel the need to tell that you they are all still running
because you otherwise might not know. These are not high-tier, top-tier,
high falutin` candidates at this point. John Kasich edging toward that for
a while. Now, they are all sort of at the bottom of that stack of
And here`s how we think it`s going to happen for those little
pancakes. In -- this is amazing. This is amazing. This is part of what
your holiday break is going to be like.
In primetime on Friday night, primetime is 8:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m.,
primetime Friday night and primetime Saturday night, again, 8:00 p.m. to
11:00 p.m., and then also later that night, during "Saturday Night Live,"
right, after primetime, a late-night show, so, Friday primetime, Saturday,
primetime, and Saturday late night this weekend, right after Thanksgiving,
18 NBC broadcast stations in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina are
going to have to air 48 solid minutes of Jim Gilmore, Lindsey Graham, Mike
Huckabee and John Kasich.
Now, apparently, it is not going to be done Joe Lieberman-style. They
are not going to each get a show that`s 12-minute chunk of a scintillating
town hall. Apparently, the way they work it had out, going to work with
each of those four candidates, is that they all get their 12 minutes but
they get them broken up. The way they are getting them broken up, they
will all get to run ads on those networks, on those affiliates, on those
But in order to make up the full 12 minutes, it means they are going
to run a lot of ads. And what we think is actually going to happen is that
each of those four candidates is going to get to run, for free, one 30-
second ad, but they get to run it 24 times over the course of Friday night
and Saturday night. And each of them gets to do that.
So, if you watch one of the stations, you will see over Friday and
Saturday night, you will see the same Jim Gilmore ad 24 times, plus Lindsey
Graham 24 times, plus the same Mike Huckabee ad 24 times, plus the same
John Kasich ad 24 times. Forty-eight minutes of free ad time for those
candidates, who otherwise are not running a lot of ads, if you know what I
I mean, all those guys deep down in the polls, that one of the
fascinating things about this settlement that they have apparently just
come to today is that we really have no idea what these guys are going to
run with this time that they are being given for free. I mean, it`s not
like there are a lot of national Mike Huckabee TV ads thought this year we
can choose from to see what he might rerun.
We contacted all of the campaigns to find out what they are going to
do with their bonanza of 24 free ads in the three early states. The Jim
Gilmore campaign told us tonight they have never run an ad before so they
are making one right now, they are still cooking it tonight. We don`t even
know what it`s going to be about. I`m not sure they know yet.
In Ohio, "The Columbus Dispatch" asked that state`s governor asked
Ohio`s governor, John Kasich, his plans for what he is going to do with his
12 minutes of free ad time, his 24 free ads, his campaign would not tell
the dispatch what they are planning on nor would they tell us.
If you think about it, because he has the ad time courtesy of Donald
Trump, one might expect it could be poetic justice if John Kasich decided
to use his 12 minutes of free ad time in all the early states running maybe
a 30-second version of this web ad that was put together by his campaign
specifically for the purpose of dissing Donald Trump.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, POLITICAL AD)
COL. TOM MOE: I would like anyone who is listening to consider some
thoughts that I paraphrased from the words of German pastor Martin
You might not care if Donald Trump says Muslims must register with
their government because you`re not one. And you might not care if Donald
Trump says he is going to round up all the Hispanic immigrants because
you`re not one. And you might not care if Donald Trump says it`s OK to
rough up black protesters because you`re not one.
And you might not care if Donald Trump wants to suppress journalists
because you`re not one.
Now, think about this -- if he keeps going and he actually becomes
president, he might just get around to you and you better hope that there`s
someone left to help you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: You wouldn`t know it, but that is a John Kasich for president
ad. It`s an anti-Donald Trump ad purely, as you saw there. It is just
slightly over a minute.
As far as I can tell with this equal time claim, that is about to come
due on Friday and Saturday night, John Kasich, Mike Huckabee, Jim Gilmore,
and Lindsey Graham will all be cashing in their free air time with a
repeated 30-second ad that will air 24 times over the course of two nights
I mean, maybe John Kasich will cut that ad down to a 30-second
version, we don`t yet know. But Friday night and Saturday night in Iowa,
South Carolina and New Hampshire are about to experience a whole ton of
some previously very obscure, very invisible Republican presidential
candidates. And they are all getting it for free. Thanks, Mr. Trump.
We got lots more ahead tonight. Stay with us.
MADDOW: So, for some reason, I have a hard time getting Republicans
to come on the show. In election season, that sometimes extends to having
a hard time getting Republicans to answer my calls, even when I am calling
for comments on reporting about that candidate.
And so, we have been trying to get comment from a leading Republican
presidential candidate recently about his views on a surprising and
surprisingly violent matter of public policy. We`ve been asking and asking
and asking, sort of losing hope that we were going to get a response.
But tonight, we have received a response. We have gotten an answer --
ask and ask and ask and you shall finally get something at the last minute.
This is a story about the Ted Cruz for president campaign.
The response from the campaign to our reporting is really not what I
was expecting, but that story, including campaign`s response, is next.
Stay with us.
MADDOW: So, Pope Francis began his first papal visit to Africa today.
His trip starts in Kenya where immediately upon arrival today, he once
again made news related to his car. All the Kenyan officials who had come
to greet him traveled to the airport in big, shiny Mercedeses and SUVs, but
the pope he rolled off in a tiny gray Honda.
This is a three-country tour for the pope. He starts in Kenya, he
ends in war-torn Central African Republic. In between, on Friday, he is
going to head to Uganda.
In Uganda, it is expected the pope might have tough words on the issue
of government corruption. In addition to that, the gay community in Uganda
is hoping that Pope Francis might, on this visit, take the opportunity to
preach tolerance on the issue of sexuality or at least he might speak out
against the frequent and fairly horrific violence faced by LGBT Ugandans.
There are few places in the world where it is harder to be gay than it
is in Uganda. A few years ago, that country came very close to enacting a
law that prescribed the death penalty for homosexuality. And we covered
the fight over that bill extensively on this show, not just because of the
extreme nature of that bill but because the architects of it were Americans
-- radical, anti-gay American preachers went to Uganda and lectured Ugandan
politicians on the evils and dangers of homosexuality and told them how
Uganda needs to take drastic action to stop this terrible western
homosexual agenda from invading their country.
And that`s where the "kill the gays" bill came from in Uganda. It was
American anti-gay, right-wing preachers going to that country to sell what
they couldn`t get here.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
PASTOR KEVIN SWANSON: They`re talking about bringing biblical law to
bear in the area of homosexuality, and that`s like -- apparently, somebody
made the mistake of opening up the Bible in Uganda and found something
about, you know, a civil penalty towards homosexuality, you know, big
mistake, big mistake. And now, you`ve got everybody up in arms in the
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: That`s an American pastor named Kevin Swanson. That was him
speaking in 2012 during the fight over the "kill the gays" bill in Uganda,
there wishing everybody would calm down about that "kill the gays" bill
because, in fact, the bible says gay people should be killed.
If that voice, that guy sounds familiar to you, it may be because he
is the same pastor who hosted a really big political event in Iowa this
year, an event that also, at time, veered back into impassioned "kill the
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SWANSON: Yes, Leviticus 20:13 calls for the death penalty for
homosexuals. Yes, Romans Chapter 1:32, the Apostle Paul does say that
homosexuals are worthy of death, his words, not mine. And I am not ashamed
of the gospel of Jesus Christ. And I am not ashamed of the truth of the
word of God and I am willing to go to jail for standing on the truth of the
word of God.
And I know I`ve taken the counsel, many told me this weekend, you be
careful, you choose your words carefully. We have presidentials coming
down to this conference this weekend. I understand that.
But I am not ashamed of the truth of the word of God. And I`m willing
to go to jail for it.
Then they ask me, yes, but do you advocate for our civil leaders to do
this today? And my answer is -- no.
But why? Here`s why, because that`s not such a big deal. We are not
to fear those who can kill the body.
Yes, Jesus says fear rather the one who can cast body and soul in hell
forever. The discussion concerning the capital punishment and homosexuals
is nothing, is not all that important when contrasted with hell fire
You say, why wouldn`t you call for it? I say it`s because we need
some time for homosexuals to repent. That`s why.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: That`s why. It`s very kind of him to give the homosexuals
the time to repent before the executions start.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SWANSON: This is the highest level, the very highest level of clarity
where the word of God has spoken, both Old Testament and New Testament are
not to be any debate whatsoever about it, and you know what that sin is, it
is a sin of homosexuality. Romans 1, First Corinthians Chapter 6, First
Timothy, I think it`s chapter 4 and, of course, Leviticus 18 and Leviticus
20, the word of God speak there is both -- in fact, Romans Chapter 1, Paul
affirms that this particular sin is worthy of death in Romans Chapter 1.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Over 1,700 people attended that conference a couple of weeks
ago in Iowa and a significant theme of the event was the practical
challenges and the timing and the sequencing of how exactly and when
exactly the United States of America should start rounding up gay people to
execute them because the appropriate punishment for the crime of being gay
is that the government should have you killed, just a question of whether
we do it now or whether we do it later.
And here`s where this all becomes important to American law and
politics today, because at that conference, that conference, where you saw
that person speaking, Kevin Swanson personally welcomed to the stage, that
same stage where he called for gay people to be executed, if not now then
after they have time to repent -- he brought to the stage with him at that
event three Republican presidential candidates, one of whom has since
dropped out, that was Bobby Jindal. One of whom was Mike Huckabee, who is
getting about as much traction in the presidential race as I am. He didn`t
even make the main debate stage the last debate.
But then there was the third one, Ted Cruz. And Ted Cruz is not a
nobody in the race anymore.
As Ben Carson fades, Ted Cruz is making huge gains in the polls,
especially in Iowa. He has been working diligently over the last few
months to court specifically the evangelical votes, held what he calls
rallies for religious liberty at mega churches, the deeply conservative Bob
Jones University in South Carolina, appeared at events like Kevin Swanson`s
death penalty for homosexuality discussion event.
Ted Cruz recently touted endorsements from over 200 faith leaders. We
talked about one of this show last night, Troy Newman, head of a radical
anti-abortion group, Operation Rescue, that has decades of ties to violent
anti-abortion extremists, including the vice president of that group being
a convicted clinic bomber who spent time in prison for that.
The Cruz campaign didn`t respond to our request for comment on the
endorsement of his proud welcoming of the endorsement of Troy Newman from
Operation Rescue or our request for specific for specific comment on Troy
Newman`s book that calls for abortion doctors to be put to death in this
When we asked the Cruz campaign a couple of weeks ago for comment on
Kevin Swanson`s kill the gays sermon at the conference where he hosted
Senator Ted Cruz and interviewed him on the stage, Ted Cruz`s national
spokesman, Rick Tyler, wrote back to us, this, quote, "Send me a video or
audio where he explicitly says this and I will look at it".
Great. So we did, we sent along that video of Kevin Swanson, the one
we just showed you. We sent along a transcript of those remarks, and then
Mr. Tyler responded with just two words. Quote, "Not explicit."
The implication being, I think that Kevin Swanson was not, in the eyes
of the Ted Cruz campaign, explicitly enough, calling for the execution of
homosexuals in the United States and therefore, it doesn`t require a
Today, we asked Mr. Tyler if he had any further comment on this
matter. He responded as follows, quote, "I`d invite to you look at Senator
Cruz`s remarks to Ellen Page at the Iowa state fair, where Cruz is speaking
for himself about what he believes instead of trying to hold him
accountable for something he did not say nor believes."
In that conversation with the actress Ellen Page this summer, Mr. Cruz
said, in part, that if Ellen Page were really concerned about
discrimination against gay people, she should ask President Obama why he
continues to send funds to regimes that execute gay people.
But this statement today from the Cruz campaign is, in fact, the
closest we have had to an explanation from him as to what he was doing
there with the kill the gays pastor at this event that featured extensive
discussions of the death penalty as the only just punishment for
homosexuality. And it should be noted that Kevin Swanson, the guy who
interviewed Ted Cruz and hosted the conference, he was not the only
personality this conference who was openly advocating the death penalty for
There was also another pastor named Phillip Kayser, you might that
name because during the last presidential election, the Ron Paul campaign
proudly touted Phillip Kayser`s support on their website for a while until
somebody dug up a pamphlet written by Mr. Kayser that called for executing
gay people in America because of biblical law.
The Paul campaign promptly scrubbed than endorsement from the Web
site. But the pamphlet still exists and Phillip Kayser was at this
National Religious Liberties Conference last weekend, which is attended by
these three Republican presidential candidates, he was manning a table
there. He was handing out his pamphlet.
A reporter from Right Wing Watch wrote about seeing him there, sent us
a photo of it, helpfully, geotagged at the Des Moines City Center on Friday
morning, right around the time that Mike Huckabee was on stage with the
"kill the gays" pastor guy.
Here`s just a sampling from the pamphlet, quote, "It is not just the
sinfulness of homosexuality that is known but also the justice of the death
penalty for homosexuality." Quote, "The results would not be as dire as
people often predict. For example, while many homosexuals would be
executed, it would not be nearly as many as critics try to imply because
homosexuals would likely keep silent about their lifestyle." If they knew
they would be killed in America if people knew they were gay, right?
See, don`t worry, there won`t be too many mass executions once this
law goes into effect because the fear of execution will keep gay people in
the closet. It`s kind of a side benefit.
And Pastor Phillip Kayser was not just some kook on the edges handing
out literature for this thing. The schedule for the event attended by
three presidential candidates, lists him as speaking at three separate
events at that conference.
It`s not necessarily news anymore that there are people like this on
the right who view homosexuality, according to their version of biblically
ordained judicial principles. But it is news, always news when people from
the purported mainstream of American politics, people who are vying to be
the next president of the United States, show up at events like this and
speak from the same stage where pastors are justifying the death penalty
for gay Americans.
I mean, I`m not sure anybody wants to ask Bobby Jindal anymore now
that`s back to just being governor of Louisiana for five minutes and I`m
not sure anybody wants to ask Mike Huckabee because Mike Huckabee is not
all that relevant in the campaign.
But for Ted Cruz, he can`t really say he didn`t know what was going on
at that conference, and there is a case to be made he should be ready to
answer some real questions about it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Why are you not asking
President Obama, why are you sending $100 billion to the Ayatollah Khamenei
who murders homosexuals? You want to talk about an assault on gay rights,
how about not murdering the homosexuals?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: How about it, Senator Cruz, how about not murdering the
Senator Cruz said that apparently without irony a week after appearing
at an event in Iowa that had, for a significant theme, the practical
challenge of when and how the U.S. should start rounding up gay people in
this country for execution because biblical law demands it.
Tonight, the Ted Cruz campaign gave us the closest thing we had to an
explanation for what the senator was doing at that the "kill the gays"
event in Iowa. But I expect ours will not be the last question on this
Joining us is Joy Reid, MSNBC national correspondent.
Joy, it`s great to have you here. I was so happy you were in New York
tonight and you could be here. Thank you.
JOY REID, MSNBC NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Thank you. Thank you.
MADDOW: Liability for Ted Cruz on this, or is this one of those
things where he only sees upside?
REID: Yes. No, I think that for Ted Cruz, he is attempting to do on
the religious right what Donald Trump has managed to do in the blue collar
wing of the Republican Party, meaning that he is the guy who is going to
speak sort of the deep truths, unfiltered by political correctness.
And I think that you do have a market among members of the religious
right for, if not that kind of extreme speech, more straight talk what they
feel is the denigration of their liberties as Christians and that paranoia,
that sense of being left behind, including by the Republican Party, which
has promised for deck this case it was going to do things like outlaw gay
marriage, like outlaw abortion and do things the Christian right wants and
they never delivered.
MADDOW: The difference though or maybe not the difference it is not
qualitative difference, maybe it`s a quantitative difference, is that what
-- these endorsements that Ted Cruz just announced, the event he has gone
to, the endorsement from the Operation Rescue guy is called for the death
of abortion providers in this country who the vice president of this
organization is a convicted clinic bomber. He`s touted the endorsement of
a guy who is a convicted stalker of abortion doctors, the guy named Flip
He just touted an endorsement of another pastor who says he doesn`t
hate gays, wants to save gays because then, I`ll quoting, "they`ll stop
And now, he`s done this event, and refusing to denounce the kill the
gay comments from this guy. And so, you know, siding with Kim Davis,
saying I want to -- the federal Constitution on gay marriage this kind of
political stuff is one thing, but he is really -- he is out there into the
REID: He is and I am struck as you`re describing those incredibly
extreme, incredibly troubling things he is associating himself with the
apoplexy with which the comments of Pastor Jeremiah Wright was greeted in
2008 and the vast difference and scrutiny whether or not the comments meant
then-candidate Barack Obama was some sort of a radical, black nationalist
radical intending to foist himself off on the United States, and really the
ease with which Ted Cruz has been able to navigate so far, other than
yourself, not being held to account necessarily for these views.
And some of the more extreme views like this unfortunately do find an
audience. Ted Cruz, I think, in -- we can call it desperation, we can call
it whatever you want.
REID: Yes, ambition to get ahead in the Republican Party, is saying
he will take any pocket of this religious right piece because he can take
it from Ben Carson, he can take what little Mike Huckabee has, and he can
corral that third.
And then if he can combine that third with being able to take Donald
Trump`s third once, you know, in the imagination of a lot of Republicans,
somehow Trump disappears, well, he`s got two-thirds of that Republican
three-legged stool. I think the calculation is literally that cynical.
MADDOW: And the question is, as it is with Donald Trump and
immigrants and on race and refugees and some other things, the question is
whether -- when they get this far out to do something like that, whether
there is any small-G governor in the Republican Party that says actually
that is a place you can`t go and with him, at least, we have not seen it
MSNBC national correspondent Joy Reid -- Joy, it`s great to have you
here, particularly on the eve of a holiday break. Thank you.
REID: Yes, happy Thanksgiving.
MADDOW: Thank you very much. I appreciate it. I`m thankful for you.
And we`ve got a best new thing ahead. I`m thankful for that too.
We`ll be right back.
MADDOW: Tonight at the White House, President Obama pulled a classic
holiday eve news dump when he very quietly signed the big defense bill that
he had just recently vetoed. So, tonight as, you know, Washington emptied
out and newspapers plans their front pages for tomorrow, fully expecting
that nobody will read tomorrow`s front pages and everybody will be flipping
through the sports pages and sales coupons instead, President Obama quietly
signed basically the same defense bill he vetoed before because, among
other thing, it blocked him from taking steps to close Guantanamo.
The president did put out a statement expressing his dismay about
those Guantanamo provisions but he did just sign it.
So, tomorrow, another thing to watch for in your undercovered
Thanksgiving news will be particularly poignant, because a group of
activists is due to stage a big protest, a fast actually, right at
Guantanamo, at the perimeter fence in Guantanamo in Cuba.
This is something activists did a decade ago, ten years ago as well, a
bunch of American activists snuck into Cuba basically illegally and
protested outside the gates of Guantanamo. They actually marched across
Cuba 70 miles to engage in that civil disobedience 10 years ago against
Guantanamo. It`s a little bit of a surprise then back in 2005 when the
Bush administration decided no to prosecute them for breaching the U.S.
travel ban on Cuba.
But now, it`s ten years late entered a U.S. travel been a to Cuba is
basically gone. So, the activists this time around will not be facing that
kind of legal jeopardy. Still though, it is likely to cause some military
consternation that these folks are planning to set up basically a tent city
right on the outskirt, right outside the perimeter fence of Guantanamo.
They are apparently due to be there tonight and they are due to start
their fast there at the gates of Guantanamo tomorrow. We will see how the
government and military react to that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SUBTITLE: Today at the TRMS production meeting --
MADDOW: Got a backstory on turkey, the turkeys --
KELSEY DESIDERIO, PRODUCTION ASST.: I`m so obsessed with the turkey
pardon, I can`t even.
MADDOW: Why are you obsessed with it? Wasn`t it Truman?
DESIDERIO: No, like, I mean that and the whole thing. You know they
stay at the Willard Hotel. Yes, there are all these pictures of, like, a
beautiful hotel room with, like, wood chips on the floor for the turkeys, I
MADDOW: Keep telling me more about your passion.
DESIDERIO: No, no, no, I`m just -- like, it`s so stupid.
SUBTITLE: That story is ahead.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: When medical examiners produce autopsy reports, a lot is
technical language and lab test results and things that civilians generally
don`t know how to make much of. The reports are opaque to those of us who
aren`t expects at that sport of thing.
But even us lay observers are accustomed to seeing the diagrams used
by medical exam mothers document what has happened to a person`s body.
There`s a few different kinds of them used as templates. There`s a woman
without hair, there`s a woman with hair. We have a few different templates
for a man and a few different poses.
Including one template for a man who is not just standing in the usual
autopsy pose in this one, which I have found very unsettling, look at the
pitch picture of the right, bottom of the body, the man is showing us the
soles of his feet, looks like he is floating or flying, the effect is a
little ethereal, it`s a little unsettling.
But that is the autopsy template that they used in the case of Laquan
McDonald in Chicago. Medical examiner on that autopsy report -- it is
interesting, you can see handwrote a little key at the top of the autopsy
report explaining what each of the marks means. The bullets that were
fired into the entry wounds were marked with an O, exit wounds marked with
an X and recovery marked with a triangle, for some of the bills there
wasn`t an exit wound, the bullet was still in the body and they had to
remove it on the autopsy table.
As best we can tell from the picture, looks like seven of the bullets
fired into this 17-year-old, seven were still in his body and had to be
taken out of him on the autopsy table.
But if you just count the circles in terms of the entry wounds, in
terms of the bullets that entered him, whether or not they exited, there
are 16 entry wounds. Yesterday afternoon, prosecutors in Chicago announced
first-degree murder charges against the officer, the single officer who
fired all 16 of those bullets, those charges were announced yesterday, more
than a year after the shooting itself, and just hours before the court
forced the city of Chicago to release a dashcam videotape showing the
circumstances of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald`s death.
So, you may have seen this already. For my part, I am only going to
play this video once tonight. That is it. There are parts of it that I
will not show at all this shows, after all in real-time, a young man`s
death. So, I`m only going to show it once, if you want to see it stop
doing the dishes or whatever else you are doing, and come over and watch it
now, you don`t want to see it, this is the time you will want to look away.
The footage begins with a police car moving around Chicago, speeding
around traffic to get to a call.
Ultimately, you see Laquan McDonald, 17 years old, walking in the
street, police say the glinting object you can see ultimately in his right
hand was a small folding knife. The officers are on his left. He is
walking and then as he falls, it becomes clear that Laquan has been shot.
He is being shot, round after round after round.
Prosecutors say Laquan never spoke to those intersection the officer
who shot him emptied his clip into that young man, 16 bullets. So, that
was the tape from the Chicago police cruiser that was released last night,
just hours after first-degree murder charges were announced against the
officer who fired the shots.
And the resulting demonstrations in Chicago last night were big, as
you might expect, and they were very emotional. They were mostly peaceful.
And there are a lot of people out there again tonight.
But now, as Chicago continues to react and as the story continues to
reverberate in that big city and around the country, there is now this
question hanging like a sword of Damocles, or like a wrecking ball, over
Chicago and specifically, over the police department and the administration
of Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and the prosecutor`s office. And that is the
big obvious question here of why and how they thought they were going to
get away with this, right?
Because there is that dash cam video, which the city has known about
since the incident happened. There is that autopsy report which the city
has had since the autopsy happened. The autopsy was performed the morning
after Laquan was killed and it shows 16 bullets being fired into that kid`s
But for months, despite that evidence, when no one inside the Chicago
Police Department and nobody inside the Chicago city government knew that
that video or that autopsy report, whatever, be made public, even though
they knew they had them, for months, the only explanation offered for why
Laquan died on that street was that an officer had fired at him in self-
defense and Laquan McDonald had been shot in the chest. That was the
public story about this case.
The only thing that interrupted that public trajectory is that some
very aggressive journalism happened in Chicago. The first the public
learned that this young man had been shot 16 times was this autopsy report,
when it was obtained and made public in February by a local reporter named
And the first the public learned that a videotape existed of the
shooting, that a dash cam video in a patrol car had captured the shooting,
the first the public knew it had happened was when that same reporter Jamie
Kalven called for the release of that tape. He said he had been told that
the tape existed, that people somewhere inside city government and law
enforcement of Chicago had seen it and knew that it contradicted the public
impression that had been given about this case.
Without reporters prying that autopsy report that showed the 16 shots
and without reporters prying that video out of the hands of the people who
had seen it but weren`t talking about it, where would this have ended?
That`s the question here now and that`s the question going forward for
Chicago and for other cities who have similar problems. I mean, thank God
Chicago has journalists like this working on cases like this, but without
that in this case, what would Chicago have done?
Joining us now Jamie Kalven. He`s founder of the Invisible Institute.
He`s first to report the findings of the Laquan McDonald autopsy report.
Mr. Kalven, thank you very much for your time tonight. I appreciate
you being here.
JAMIE KALVEN, INVISIBLE INSTITUTE: It is good to be with you.
MADDOW: You have been chase the information on this case for so long,
I`m curious to hear what you`re able to tell us about the first tip that
you got about the video, that there was potentially a dash cam video of
KALVEN: Several weeks after the -- after the shooting, a close
colleague of mine, civil rights lawyer Craig Futterman and I received a tip
from somebody within the city that you described well in the setup, that
the realities of the incident were sharply at odds with the official report
and reports in the media, that it really was -- can`t recall now if he used
the word "execution", it had been used by eyewitnesses of the event. But
he used very strong language, and there was dashcam video.
So, we -- I did some additional reporting, found a witness to the
incident. Very credible. A motorist who had been stopped by the unfolding
action at 41st and Pulaski in Chicago. And he gave a very vivid account
which completely aligns with what we now know on the basis of the video.
So, we, at that point, this would be early December of 2014, issued a
statement calling on the city to release the video. And the basic premise
of the statement, which really resonates today, is that information belongs
to the public. This is public information that the city was withholding
A couple of months later, I was able to get the autopsy report and
there you have just -- you know, an autopsy is an extraordinary document,
really. And you described it vividly in your setup.
It`s a kind of narrative of what happened to the body of the deceased.
And this narrative of the 16 gunshot wound front and back in this young
man`s body was completely at odds with the official story that had been put
out by the police department.
MADDOW: Do you believe that this was being covered up? Or do you
believe that it took this long to get to a result that would have happened
whether or not you`ve been able to basically, you and other journalists had
been able to force the publication of the video.
KALVEN: Well, the person who gave us the information, who led us to
look hard at this case was within the city and had his doubts about how
vigorously this case was going to be investigated. I think the record
speaks for itself. There`s lots of local questions.
But imagine if this were a gang shooting and you had evidence of this
nature that came readily at hand. You had a video and multiple witnesses,
in this case, both police and civilian witnesses. You had the autopsy.
How long would it have taken for an in .indictment to come down in a case
So, you know -- this has been -- and then I think you use the word
cover-up. I think it applies.
There`s also been a dramatic illustration of how the culture of the
police department works in that at every level and at every turn in this
process from cops on the scene, officers on the scene to higher levels of
government, to the highest levels of government, the impulse, the initial
impulse, the default impulse has been to circle wagons and to kind of
double down on the false narrative.
So, you know, there there`s a cultural dynamic at work here that I
think is catastrophic in its impact. And also, we have this pattern that
has been much commented on in the last 48 hours of investigation of this
cover-up. You know, as long as you have a pending investigation, you can
say, that`s all you need to say.
MADDOW: Yes, you can deflect the results with that.
MADDOW: Jamie Kalven, founder of the Invisible Institute, who`s
reporting on this ended up being just world changing in terms of this
story. Congratulations on a dark achievement. I mean, it`s a very dark
story, but you pushed it into the light. Congratulations on this as a
journalist. Thank you.
KALVEN: Thank you very much. I appreciate it.
MADDOW: We`ll be right back.
MADDOW: OK best now thing in the world today. This is the at least
annoying things you will hear today about the freaking presidential turkey
pardon. I know you`re sick of the whole thing.
But we do have a new thing that nobodies about it that we found in the
archives that`s amazing. Depending on who you ask, different sources
credit different presidents for starting the presidential turkey pardon
Bill Clinton apparently credited Harry Truman for starting it. But
Harry Truman didn`t. In 1947, the National Turkey Federation did give
Harry Truman a live turkey for Christmas, not for Thanksgiving. That did
start the tradition of presidents and the families getting live turkeys
delivered to them. That did start with Harry Truman in `47.
But Truman never pardoned any turkeys for Christmas or Thanksgiving or
anything. We know this because the Truman library looked back and said so.
JFK is actually the first president to spare a turkey from the White
House dinner table during his turkey ceremony. He did send a live bird
back to the farm to keep living. But he didn`t say anything like he was
giving it a presidential pardon.
After that, there were some other presidents, including Nixon, who
sometimes spared the live bird from having to go to the dinner table, but
again, nobody called it a pardon until 1987.
Ronald Reagan, president, nearing the end of his two terms, his
administration, this is important, is embroiled in the Iran Contra scandal.
So this was President Reagan`s seventh turkey celebration at the White
House and in the middle of it, ruining the holiday feeling is ABC`s
absolutely tireless reporter Sam Donaldson, right?
He just corners Reagan while Reagan standing there with the turkey
about whether or not he`s going to pardon two key figures in the Iran
Contra scandal. Whether he`s going to pardon Oliver North and John
And Reagan is somewhere between bewildered and furious, but we found
the tape of President Reagan and Sam Donaldson and Charlie the Turkey and
the actual origin of presidential turkey pardoning. Watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What`s going to happen to that bird?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What`s made for that turkey?
RONALD REAGAN, FORMER PRESIDENT: He`s going to a pet farm.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He`s going to a pet farm.
REAGAN: So, I can say, Happy Thanksgiving right in front of him and
it doesn`t matter.
SAM DONALDSON, ABC: Are you going to pardon North and Poindexter,
DONALDSON: Are you going to pardon North and Poindexter?
REAGAN: Sam, that`s a question no one can answer at this point.
DONALDSON: You can, sir.
REAGAN: No, no, I can`t.
DONALDSON: What has to happen, Mr. President?
REAGAN: If they had given me a different answer on Charlie and his
future, I would have pardoned him.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. President, do you intend to pardon them on
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: It was Reagan. President Ronald Reagan avoiding talking
about the Iran Contra makes a joke about a Thanksgiving presidential pardon
for a turkey that`s going to live anyway. And that tape confirms the
actual origins of the presidential turkey pardon.
And I know, I`m sorry, you`re sick of hearing about it. But tell me
that wasn`t the best new thing in the world. Tell me that wasn`t it. Have
a wonderful Thanksgiving.
That does it for us tonight. We`ll see you again very soon.
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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