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'The Rachel Maddow Show' for Monday, January 11th, 2010

Read the transcript to the Monday show

Guests: Tricia Rose, Chris Hayes, Zachary Roth, John Dean, Kent Jones

RACHEL MADDOW, HOST:  Good evening, Lawrence.  I feel the joy even from here, I have to tell you.


MADDOW:  Sure.

Thank you at home for staying with us for the next hour as well.


The Republican Party is going after Senator Harry Reid on the issue of race, specifically, the Republican Party has put out the guy who just said “honest Injun” on national television.  They‘ve put him out to go after Harry Reid for Harry Reid‘s racially insensitive language.

Yes, Liz Cheney tries to cram inconvenient recent history down the memory hole.

Chris Hayes of “The Nation” will be here to help us get it back out.

And President Nixon‘s spy inside the press corps.  John Dean, will be here to talk about one Nixon dirty trick he will not soon forget.

That is all coming up this hour.

But we begin tonight with the political firestorm over comments by

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, reported in a really, really gossipy,

salacious, tabloidy new book about the 2008 presidential campaign.  Senator

Reid was—has publicly apologized today after saying he was—excuse me

after he was quoted saying that Barack Obama had a good chance at becoming president because he was, quote, “light-skinned” and didn‘t have a, quote, “Negro dialect, unless he wanted to have one.”



SEN. HARRY REID (D-NEV), MAJORITY LEADER:  I apologized to the president.  I apologized to everyone within the sound of my voice that I could have used a better choice of words.  That‘s where we are and I‘m going to move forward.


MADDOW:  Republicans are not moving forward on this.  They have seized on Senator Reid‘s comments.  They‘re demanding that he resign, saying Mr.  Reid should step down because former Republican Majority Leader Trent Lott resigned back in 2002, after Mr. Lott said that the nation would have avoided decades of problems if only we‘d elected Strom Thurman when he ran for president on a segregationist platform in the ‘40s.


THEN-SEN. TRENT LOTT (R-MS), MAJORITY LEADER:  When Strom Thurman ran for president, we voted for him.  We‘re proud of it.


LOTT:  And if the rest of the country had followed our lead, we wouldn‘t have had all these problems over all these years, either.


MADDOW:  Substantively, what Mr. Lott said and what Mr. Reid said are different.  I mean, they‘re both obviously embarrassing, but Trent Lott was saying the country would have been better off if we had a segregationist president.  Harry Reid was reflecting on the political viability of a black candidate today describing the limits that racism puts on electability.  There‘s a big difference between the content of the two comments.

Now, Mr. Reid did use language in making his point that if not racist was at least super awkwardly and antiquatedly racial.

Leading the charge against Senator Reid and in the wake of these embarrassing comments has been Republican Party Chairman Michael Steele.


MICHAEL STEELE, RNC CHAIRMAN:  It‘s inappropriate—absolutely.  So if the standard is the one we saw with Trent Lott as speaker—as leader at the time, then I think this absolutely falls in that category.


MADDOW:  It is, of course, awkward right now to have Michael Steele be the man out front making the case that someone should resign for using racially insensitive language.

Maybe Republicans could have picked someone other than Mr. Steele given Mr. Steele‘s own recent.


STEELE:  Our platform is one of the best political documents that‘s been written in the last 25 years.  Honest Injun on that.


MADDOW:  Honest Injun.

Does the fact that Michael Steele recently made a really racially insensitive remark on television mean that he can‘t be offended by somebody else‘s other racially insensitive remark?  Of course, it doesn‘t mean that.  But it does highlight the complications here.  It highlights that a politician or a public figure using really inappropriate language about race is not exactly a rare occurrence these days.

And the consequences for people when something like this happens in public, the consequences are all over the map.  For example, remember this one?


FORMER GOV. GEORGE ALLEN ®, VIRGINIA:  This fellow over here with the yellow shirt, Macaca, or whatever his name is, he‘s with my opponent.


MADDOW:  The Macaca moment.  That was former Republican governor of Virginia George Allen.  That single Macaca moment pretty much doomed his run for a Virginia Senate seat and any future political aspirations he might have had.

Then there was former Republican House Speaker Newt Gingrich, waxing ineloquent about the Spanish language back in 2007.


FMR. REP. NEWT GINGRICH ®, HOUSE SPEAKER:  We should replace bilingual education with immersion in English so people learn the common language of the country, and so they learn the language of prosperity, not the language of living in a ghetto.


MADDOW:  Spanish, the language of living in a ghetto.  Unlike George Allen, Newt Gingrich survived those comments politically, made an apology that he delivered in Spanish.  Mr. Gingrich continues to be one of the most sought after Sunday talk show guests in the Republican Party for what that‘s worth.

On the Democratic side, there is noted race fumbler Joe Biden.


THEN-SENATOR JOE BIDEN (D), DELAWARE:  You cannot go to a 7-Eleven or a Dunkin‘ Donuts unless you have a slight Indian accent.  I‘m not joking.

I mean, you‘ve got the first sort of mainstream African-American, who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy.  I mean, that‘s a storybook, man.


MADDOW:  Mr. Biden, of course, survived those racial gaffes and went on to become vice president of the United States alongside the clean guy.

Then there are those who not only survive racially charged statements but sometimes seem to have their careers thrive in part because of them.


PAT BUCHANAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST:  White men were 100 percent of the people who wrote the Constitution, 100 percent of the people that signed the Declaration of Independence, 100 percent of the people who died at Gettysburg and Vicksburg, probably close to 100 percent of the people who died at Normandy.  This has been a country built basically by white folks.  If I look at the U.S. track team in the Olympics and they‘re all black folks, I don‘t automatically assume it‘s discrimination.


MADDOW:  That was Pat on this show last year, Pat Buchanan.  We ran a correction on some of the factual errors made in those statements, but—I mean, as you can see, Pat was back on the air today talking about Harry Reid‘s race problem.

Sometimes racially charged comments just fly under the radar.  That appears to be the case with Republican Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina.


SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM ®, SOUTH CAROLINA:  I have 12 percent unemployment in South Carolina.  My state‘s on its knees.  I have 31 percent African-American population in South Carolina.


MADDOW:  Unemployed and black.  Yes.  Senator Graham is making the case for how much it hurts his state to have so many black people in it.  Senator Graham also suggesting that having a lot of black people in his state would somehow make health reform harder to do there.

It‘s not just people who are in politics and political commentaries.  Some of the most severe punishments for racially insensitive comments have come in the world of entertainment and sports.


HOWARD COSELL, BROADCASTER\:  That little monkey gets loose, doesn‘t he?


MADDOW:  Famed broadcaster Howard Cosell referring to an African-American football player.  Mr. Cosell stepped down from “Monday Night Football” about two months later.

Also, remember football prognosticator Jimmy the Greek?


JIMMY “THE GREEK” SYNDER, FOOTBALL COMMENTATOR:  They take over coaching like everybody wants them to, there‘s not going be anything left for the white people.  I mean, all the players are black.  I mean, the only thing that the whites control is the coaching jobs.  Now, I‘m not being derogatory about it but that‘s all that‘s left for ‘em.


MADDOW:  Yes.  Mr. Snyder was fired from CBS Sports soon after, in the wake of similar comments.

There was, of course, also the abbreviated career of Rush Limbaugh football commentator on ESPN.


RUSH LIMBAUGH, THEN-FOOTBALL COMMENTATOR:  I don‘t think he‘s been that good from the get-go.  I think what we‘ve had here is a little social concern in the NFL.  I think the media has been very desirous that a black quarterback do well.


MADDOW:  Mr. Limbaugh consequently resigned from ESPN and many in the NFL recently almost revolted after there was talk of Mr. Limbaugh buying an NFL team.  Mr. Limbaugh‘s radio show however continues to thrive and continues to provide an outlet for him to do things like playing a song called “Barack the Magic Negro.”

Actor Mel Gibson disappeared into rehab for a while after his drunken rant to police officers against, quote, “F-ing Jews.  The Jews are responsible for the all the wars in the world.”  Mr. Gibson blamed the tequila for that.

Then there‘s talk show host and FOX News personality Glenn Beck.


GLENN BECK, FOX NEWS HOST:  I‘m not saying that he doesn‘t like white people.  I‘m saying he has a problem.  He has a—this guy is, I believe, a racist.


MADDOW:  After Glenn Beck said that about President Obama, advertisers fled from his FOX News show, even though it gets very good ratings.

And in putting together this list today of recent or prominent racial gaffes in America, I have to say, there are about 25 more we came up with, without doing too much research.  Public figures using really racially insensitive or downright racist language or comments happens a lot, so much so that there is a big data set for trying to understand the likely consequences for a person being caught out saying something like this.

But even with that big data set, even with all of these examples, from which to build some sort of predictive model, there really is no predictability to the consequences.  It seems like it is different for everyone and in every circumstance.

In the case of Harry Reid, Democrats seem pretty unified in support of him, his very positive public policy record on civil rights might be a big help for him there.  President Obama had already said that he accepted Harry Reid‘s apology for his recent remarks.  Mr. Obama elaborated on that tonight in an interview with TV One.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  This is a god man who has always been on the right side of history.  For him to have used some inartful language in trying to praise me, and for people to try to make hay out of that makes absolutely no sense.


MADDOW:  Joining us now is Tricia Rose, a professor and chair of the Africana Studies Department at Brown University.

Professor Rose, it‘s good to have you on the show again.  Thank you for joining us.


MADDOW:  Let me ask you about the president‘s remarks on TV One.  He said—he started by saying, “This is a good man who has always been on the right side of history,” putting the issue of Harry Reid‘s recent comments in the context of Reid‘s overall history on race relations and public policy.  Is that the most substantive way to approach this?

ROSE:  Well, I think it‘s appropriate for Obama to contextualize him -

which is to say language is complicated and intent matters and your history and relationship to a set of issues matters a great deal.  I mean, there are many African-Americans in this country, right now, particularly, over a certain age, who still call themselves Negro.  So, it‘s not inappropriate entirely.  It‘s very much about context, intent, situatedness.  So, it makes sense for him to have made that choice.


MADDOW:  Let‘s talk about Harry Reid and Trent Lott.  Politically, there is a direct line being drawn between them as if their comments were substantively similar.  I explained in the introduction that I do not see them as substantively similar.  Do you?

ROSE:  Not at all.  You did a wonderful job with that.  I mean, I‘m actually kind of flabbergasted by the degree to which these vastly different statements with entirely different meanings, contexts, and intents can be collapsed.  And it‘s really quite dangerous, frankly.  It‘s only enhancing what is already a deep level of illiteracy and fear and anxiety about really addressing race.

Trent Lott was calling for a contemporary pride around voting for Strom Thurman—as you pointed out—a segregationist, which is not just separate, but separate and incredibly violent and unequal and discriminatory system.  And to say that things would be much better off now if we had followed him.  This is a pro-segregationist, pro-racial hierarchy, pro-white supremacy political platform that Trent Lott supported in the contemporary moment.

Reid was basically making an observation using a term—again, Negro is a term that people don‘t particularly like anymore and a lot of political reasons for that that are very legitimate—but there is a color hierarchy in American society, Rachel.  And that color hierarchy operates within race and across race.

And so, of course, lighter-skinned people often illegitimately benefit extra.  It‘s not that they‘re unqualified.  It‘s like masculinity and feminine.  Being women don‘t benefit to the same degree as men for the same reason.  They can all be qualified, but hierarchical systems produce structural injustice—the same thing is true for cultural specificity around blackness.

So, nothing he said was untrue.  It was a statement of fact that helped Obama‘s brilliance become more viable as a candidate and that‘s really what‘s at stake here.

I mean, I have one other thing I think is really important to focus on.  You know, there‘s a lot of suffering that structural discrimination has caused and I think a lot of the anger from many African-Americans who‘ve been frustrated by the comments is the pain associated with that history, which is much more important, it seems to me, than is getting credit now.  And we should be talking about the reality of this injury, pain, and discrimination, and not just be angry at the fact of someone pointing it out.

MADDOW:  It is interesting, too, to talk about even just the distance between the words being used to describe, to make an observation, and the content of the observation, itself.  Of course, when Trent Lott made those comments in 2002, he didn‘t use any racially charged language at all.

ROSE:  Right.

MADDOW:  Harry Reid making a completely opposite point but using language that sets us off and that we assume means offense when it does—as you say—sort of reflect a much more complicated relationship with language and race.  I think reflecting our overall discomfort in talking about it at all.

ROSE:  Right.  It‘s not only discomfort but a certain level of illiteracy.  And that‘s why the consequences are so vast and weird and uneven, because we don‘t have a real exposure and confrontation with the reality of structural racism and how it operates at so many levels.  At this point, we seem content with proper language but structural inequality.

So the question is: where is the outrage for the extraordinary range of unequal circumstances for African-Americans?  I mean, the literature is filled with it.  Not only for the specific support for Reid‘s point—which is that color matters and that there‘s a color hierarchy and that the blacker someone is somehow considered to be, whether it‘s dialect, whether it‘s style, whether it‘s clothing, no matter, you know, dance, whatever it is, that those associations serve to reduce one‘s viability no matter the gift, those facts are all over the literature.

So, where are we in our conversation about that matter?

Now, maybe it would have been more helpful if Reid had said to me and I think in my opinion, his apology had been included with a statement, something like—well, you know, the fact of this is what is in crisis and we should be putting our time and energy in addressing the injury, pain, suffering, and inequity that results from these realities.  Now, we‘re having a conversation.  Now, we‘re getting somewhere.

MADDOW:  It seems to me like we will—we will know that we‘ve started to grow up when we have fights about racism instead of fights about calling one another racists.

ROSE:  Yes, indeed.

MADDOW:  And we‘re some distance away but hopefully moving that direction.

ROSE:  Certainly hopeful.

MADDOW:  Tricia Rose, professor and chair of the Africana Studies Department of Brown University—it is really a pleasure to have you on the show.  Thank you for your time.

ROSE:  My pleasure entirely.  Take care.

MADDOW:  OK.  I remember the Bush administration‘s record on fighting terrorism.  You remember the Bush administration‘s record on fighting terrorism.  Liz Cheney—remembers something totally, completely, weirdly, wrongly different.  That‘s coming up with “The Nation‘s” Chris Hayes.

And later, rival tea parties are fighting amongst themselves.  The good news is that somebody has figured out how to get rich off of that.

Stay with us.


MADDOW:  Up next; new thing.  We are debuting the new RACHEL MADDOW SHOW slow-motion talk show smackdown replay.  Next.


MADDOW:  A remarkable political moment to share with you.  You know that former Vice President Dick Cheney‘s daughter, Liz Cheney, has formed a neoconservative pressure group, right?  That‘s the ostensible reason why she gets on TV so much these days.  Remarkably, on one of those myriad TV appearances, someone actually confronted Liz Cheney about something she‘s been arguing for that makes no sense.

Amazing.  Somebody confronted her.  It finally happened!


GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC NEWS:  I want to show our viewers a little bit of this ad you all are running in the wake of this, hitting the president for a tardy response to all of this.  You show him playing golf, 24 hours later, the president coming out and finally saying something another day after that, 46 hours later.


OBAMA:  But what already is apparent is that there was a mix of human and systemic failures that contributed to this potential catastrophic breach of security.


STEPHANOPOULOS:  Arguing that the responses were much better under President Bush, yet as many Democrats have also pointed out, President Bush waited I think six days before doing much about Richard Reid, the shoe bomber.

LIZ CHENEY, KEEPAMERICASAFE.COM:  Well, I think you‘ve got to go back here and look at the way this president has dealt with terror since he‘s been in office.  And the point of that ad was this notion that you cannot win a war if you‘re treating it as sort of an inconvenient sideline.

MADDOW (voice-over):  Wow!  What a rhetorical duck.  It‘s like she didn‘t even hear the question.  Let‘s see that again on the instant replay.

STEPHANOPOULOS:  President Bush waited I think six days before doing much about Richard Reid the shoe bomber.

CHENEY:  Well, I think that you‘ve got to go back here and look at.

MADDOW:  OK.  Stop.  Freeze it.  All right.

This is the key part of the interview.  Liz Cheney, why are you hitting President Obama for waiting four days before he talked about an attempted attack when President Bush waited six days?  That‘s the question.  And it‘s a good one.

So, here‘s her answer.  Now, watch her mouth as she opens it and closes it and words come out.

CHENEY:  The way this president has dealt with terror since he‘s been in office.

MADDOW:  That‘s it.  Right there.

CHENEY:  .that ad was.

MADDOW:  She gets asked about President Bush and his record on responding to terror and then she completely ignores the question and starts talking about Obama again.

CHENEY (distorted voice):  . this president has dealt with terror since he‘s been in office.


MADDOW:  Tada!  She just completely ignores the question about the double standard for Bush and Obama.  Just completely ignores it.  And the interview plods on and they move on.  Just amazing.

And for the record, the president was in front of cameras on Monday, December 28th, talking about the Christmas Day bombing, which according to my math is three and not four days after the attempted attack on Christmas Day she was implying for.

I don‘t know if Ms. Cheney will ever feel a need to answer questions about the things that her pressure group does, but the questions worth asking about that group and its activities are mounting.  For example, there was their pseudo mini-documentary about the people of Standish, Michigan, about how Standish was being railroaded by evil politicians who wanted to flood their little town with prisoners from Guantanamo that these folks in Standish really didn‘t want.

I would love to hear Liz Cheney explain how she squares the people of Standish being forced into this mini-movie plot with the fact that the City Council of Standish, Michigan, unanimously passed a resolution asking for Guantanamo prisoners to be sent there.  I don‘t think she‘s ever going to feel like she needs to explain herself, but I am curious.

There was also this ad released by Cheney‘s group in October, deriding this very TV network for criticizing Liz Cheney but refusing to debate her, which was very awkward, because we kept asking her to come on this show to, you know, debate.  And she kept turning us down.


MADDOW:  I understand, a lot of people say “no” to being on this show but not a lot of them do so while claiming that MSNBC is afraid to debate them.  Be not afraid, Ms. Cheney.  I promise I will not bite.


MADDOW:  So far, the Liz Cheney pressure group has demanded to debate people who are perfectly willing to debate her but she won‘t do it.  They have tried to get us to pity the poor, pushed around people in a small town in Michigan who asked for what Cheney wants us to pity them for.  And they‘ve attacked President Obama for something that President Bush did.

If that were my record, I would want to be good at ducking questions, too.

Joining us now is Chris Hayes, Washington editor for “The Nation.”

Chris, thank you very much for being here.

CHRIS HAYES, THE NATION:  Thanks for being here, Rachel.  I was impressed with your telestrator skills.

MADDOW:  It took me sort of all day.  I will admit to figure out how to do that.  But I just felt like this was this incredible moment.  Nobody ever makes Liz Cheney sort of holds her to account for the double standard and just about everything that they‘ve done since she founded this pressure group.

And it was this great moment because she got asked but then she didn‘t answer.  And I wonder if that‘s—if she just knows that she‘s good at evading questions and that makes her more confident at putting things out that have double standards.

HAYES:  Well, I think that what makes Liz Cheney confident is the fact that there is no earthly reason that anyone should be listening to Liz Cheney on anything, other than the fact that she is the prodigy of an alleged war criminal.  I mean, she is able to go out there and spout about whatever it is she wants to spout about because the Washington establishment has incredibly feudal conceptions of what earns someone a spot on a Sunday show.  But aside from that, you know, there are thousands of people that are as qualified as Liz Cheney to talk about anything.  And I mean across the political spectrum.

The only reason she is there is because she is Liz Cheney, she‘s Dick Cheney‘s daughter.  I think that, you know, kind of intuits you from worrying about the kind of petty concerns of answering questions or logic or anything like that.

MADDOW:  After she did start getting quite a bit of face time, after she and her father both started speaking out very early on in the Obama administration, she did form this organization.

HAYES:  Yes.

MADDOW:  Keep America Safe is the name of the group.  What is—what is its purpose?  What is it for?

HAYES:  I honestly think, I mean, there are two things.  One, its purpose is to demagogue terrorism and to kind of pursue this terribly atavistic view of the war on terror that Dick Cheney had.

But really—I really think it is there so that there‘s some putative reason other than her being Dick Cheney‘s daughter to put her on TV, like all the—like—when Keeping America Safe got up and running, all of a sudden, there was like a new chyron underneath her that seemed sort of more -- less embarrassing and more credible than just, you know, Dick Cheney‘s daughter.

I mean, I was doing—I‘m trying to find on the Internet if there is any tabulation of actually how many points that they‘ve purchased of advertising, because I don‘t even—it‘s very unclear how much they‘ve actually spent and where.  And that‘s incredibly hard to come by.  I couldn‘t find it anywhere.

So, I don‘t even know, like, whether these are the kinds of ads that people produce so that they get re-run on television shows, or actually, they‘re actually doing anything at the first order level that they say they‘re doing.

MADDOW:  A new CNN poll that came out today on the issue of terrorism, said a majority of Americans, it was like 57 percent, approve of the way that President Obama responded to the Christmas Day attack.  And in addition to the Liz Cheney stuff, there was a unified, screaming.

HAYES:  Yes.

MADDOW:  . chorus of Republicans hitting him over this issue.

HAYES:  Yes.

MADDOW:  Did it just—did it just not work?  Did they not do enough? 

What happened?

HAYES:  You know, I think your—I mean, I think the 57 percent, given how just colossally earth-shatteringly stupid the news cycle was in the midst of the Christmas Day, you know, attempted underpants bomb, that‘s a really heartening number, because I do think that everybody is kind of operating on the Republican side, whether it‘s Pete Hoekstra or Peter King or Liz Cheney, or whoever is operating off this old playbook in which you kind of press these buttons and the public reacts in this Pavlovian way.

And I do think that that number, you know, and these polls, who knows how deeply that‘s registering.  But I do think it shows that kind of press and response has weakened over time.  And I think that‘s really a positive thing and I hope the Democrats take note that they don‘t need to be in this defensive crouch whenever something like national security or the ersatz war on terror comes along.

MADDOW:  I think it also means, for journalists, that they can get out of the defensive crouch, too.  That it‘s OK to ask follow-up questions and point out double standards in those things and nothing bad will happen.

HAYES:  Absolutely.

MADDOW:  Hopefully.

Chris Hayes, Washington editor of “The Nation,” tonight gets points for using atavistic, thank you very much for joining us.  It‘s always a pleasure.

HAYES:  I always try to bring one to you, Rachel.

MADDOW:  I know.  You‘re our vocabulary gnome.  That‘s why we love you, Chris.

HAYES:  Thanks, Rachel.

MADDOW:  All right.

The tea party movement is having to divert time and energy away from calling President Obama a socialist, commie, Nazi, fascist who wasn‘t even born here.  They need to avert time away from that important project in order to find time to fight each other.  They are having disunity.

That‘s coming up next.  Tea?  Get it?


MADDOW:  It was a clarion call from the nationwide tax day tea party to the citizens of Detroit.  Come protest at the auto show.  Come to the North American International Auto Show and let the Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, hear what you think about the government takeover of General Motors.  Let‘s go protest. 

“” posted an article about the expected protest this morning, “Tea Partiers to Greet House Dems.”  House leaders will be greeted by tea party protests.  Seeing that article, we put that item on the agenda for our news meeting here for this show this afternoon thinking this might be an important hook for talking tonight about the end of the congressional recess.  Lawmakers protested in Detroit before heading back to D.C. 

But then, the first AP story on the protests in Detroit hit the wires.  And this is how it led.  Quote, “Charlie Gennara thought there would be a sizable showing for a planned tea party protest outside the annual international auto show in Detroit on Monday.  For the first 45 minutes, though, it was just him and one other person.” 

Apparently, later the tea party turnout swelled to nearly two dozen.  “Politico” says there were about 20 people there ultimately.  Why was the turnout so low?  Well, it was 18 or so degrees in the Motor City this morning.  That could have played a part. 

But also consider the efforts of another Michigan tea party organizer, a person named Joan Fabiano.  Ms. Fabiano sent out E-mails to tea partiers asking them to please not show up to the tea party protest arguing, quote, “It only hurts fellow Michiganders and Michigan commerce.  Businesses are already hurting.” 

Ms. Fabiano told the Associated Press she would like to think that her efforts were responsible for the bad turnout at the auto show tea party.  So we have one group of tea parties organizing a protest and another group of tea partiers organizing to stop that protest.  Tea partiers working at cross purposes.  Tea party on tea party torpedoing. 

Now, it isn‘t just limited to Detroit.  A group called the Tea Party Nation is taking heavy fire from the Tea Party Patriots and other activists for its tea party convention that‘s due to be held at the Opry Land Gaylord Hotel in Tennessee next month. 

Tickets to that event, as we have described here on the show before, cost $549 per person.  Sarah Palin is keynoting.  We do now have a little more insight into why that convention is so expensive to attend.  Tea party nation‘s president, a criminal defense lawyer in Nashville, telling “” today that he hopes the convention turns a profit.  It is a for-profit enterprise. 

Remember when Freedom Works was selling speaking slots at the 9/12 tea party in Washington for $10,000 a pop?  The tea party movement isn‘t just pro-business.  It is a business.  But don‘t let that spoil the grassroots-y feel.

Joining us now is reporter Zachary Roth - Zach Roth from “Talking Points Memo.”  He has been talking with the aggrieved anti-Tea Party Nation tea partiers while reporting on the tea party movement.  Zach, thanks very much for being here.


MADDOW:  What are the main complaints about the tea party convention? 

It seems to be getting people‘s hackles up.

ROTH:  The main sort of ostensive complaint is the price tag which you just mentioned in your lead-in, $549 per person.  I talked to a conservative activist in Nashville, Tennessee, which is where the convention is being held who told me she can‘t even afford to go, even though she doesn‘t have to pay for travel and hotel and so on because it‘s just too expensive for her. 

And obviously, the tea party movement, as a whole, has always billed itself as the movement of the sort of working man and woman of America.  So a lot of people are feeling like this is not consistent with that tea party ethos to be charging people $549 and to be holding it in this sort of swank hotel in Nashville. 

But what‘s interesting also is that that turns out to be sort of a proxy for other more kind of vague concerns.  And the first of those is that this movement is being kind of co-opted by the people who are organizing this event and turned into a money making venture which you alluded to. 

And that‘s in part because the guy organizing it, Judson Phillips hasn‘t been very clear about what the financial arrangements are and what he‘s planning to do with this profit that he hopes to turn.  He said vaguely that he hopes to set up a 527 to put money back into conservative politics.  But he hasn‘t really talked about how that‘s going to work and so on. 

The other thing though is that there is a fear that this is a way for the Republican Party to kind of move in and co-opt the energy of the tea party movement.  So for instance, I was told that the organizers had voted to invite Michael Steele, the RNC chairman, to come and speak at the convention. 

So there is a lot of fear among the more sort of grassroots types in the movement that this is the Republican Party‘s kind of play to take over the tea party movement.  And that also is against sort of everything that the tea party movement has always stood for.  

MADDOW:  It seems like there are two different ways to look at this.  One is to say that there is a bunch of different types of organizations within the tea party movement.  There is the guy running it as a business which is happening with the convention. 

There is a group, another tea party group, the Tea Party Express and its associated PAC that is set up essentially by a Republican PR firm that seems to be turning all of its money, its donations back to that PR firm - at least most of them.  TPM - I‘ve been getting a lot of reporting on that. 

But then, there is also - there are also groups that do seem to be legitimately grassroots.  The question is, can they symbiotically work together or is there animosity?  Are they - is one group going to try to fight to beat out the other types of organizing? 

ROTH:  Well, there is definitely animosity right now.  But the interesting thing is, it‘s not like those distinctions that are completely clear because the - as you said, the Tea Party Patriots, which is the group that can make sort of the most legitimate claim to be a kind of grassroots group, has from the start been working with a group called Freedom Works which, as you know, is Dick Armey‘s group, the former Republican majority leader and whose group, Freedom Works, is backed by corporations. 

So there‘s never been some sort of original, pure tea party movement that was absolutely free from this taint of politics and corporate money.  And I think that‘s probably true of any kind of movement like this.  There are shades of gray.  And right now, the different parts are not working too well together. 

MADDOW:  Although I would say the original, like the sort of pre-this-election cycle, libertarian tea party folks - that really it‘s almost a completely separate movement.  But they know - they feel ripped off, in part, by the folks who have come around in this cycle. 

So it seems like it‘s one of the most interesting things going on in American politics right now because it is changing so much, but also because every new bit of reporting seems to set off yet another firestorm within the movement. 

You‘ve helped us cover it a lot with your reporting.  So thanks a

lot, Zach,  

ROTH:  Thanks for having me. 

MADDOW:  Zach Roth is with “Talking Points Memo.”  All right.  Since leaving her post as governor of Alaska last summer, we all have the same concern.  Will Sarah Palin find a job?  Well, rest easy, America.  Her ship has come in.  Stay with us.


MADDOW:  Still ahead, President Nixon‘s White House counsel, John Dean, joins us live.  But first, a couple of holy mackerel stories in today‘s news.  On Election Day 2008, Californians voted in favor of Proposition 8, thus rewriting the California State Constitution to add a ban on gay marriage. 

The passage of Prop 8 came as a surprise and a wakeup call to gay rights supporters.  So now rulebook, meet window.  Two lawyers most famous for representing the opposing sides in Bush versus Gore, David Boies and Ted Olson, have teamed up to take Proposition 8 to federal court. 

Opening statements in the trial began today in San Francisco.  Mr. Boies and Mr. Olson also asked the judge in the case to make the trial public.  They asked for video coverage of it to be posted on YouTube and to be broadcast live at federal courts across the country. 

The judge, a Republican appointee, agreed to that request, which apparently scared the bejesus out of gay marriage opponents.  The gay marriage opponents, the defenders of Prop 8, filed an emergency appeal with the U.S. Supreme Court, which was successful. 

The Supreme Court blocked the plans to broadcast the trial.  Now, this is only chapter one in this court case.  Much more to come.  But it is a rather unsettling beginning for the opponents of gay marriage that their first victory was earning the right to not be seen in public making their case.  I know there‘s gay pride.  But isn‘t there anti-gay pride, too? 

And finally, yes, more from the sieve of unflattering leaks about Sarah Palin from people who worked with her on the McCain-Palin campaign.  


JOHN HEILEMANN, AUTHOR, “GAME CHANGE”:  Her foreign policy tutors are literally taking her through.  This is World War I.  This is World War II.  This is the Korean War.  This is how the Cold War worked.  This is the new war on terror.

They‘re trying to teach her everything because Steve Schmidt had gone to them and said, “She knows nothing.”  She still didn‘t really understand why there was a North Korea and a South Korea.  She was still regularly saying Saddam Hussein had been behind 9/11.  


John Heilemann, the co-author of the book “Game Change,” speaking on “60 Minutes.”  She did not understand why there was a North Korea and a South Korea.  Hoping it seems to big foot too many headlines about that, Fmr. Gov. Palin made a big announcement today of her own about what she is going to do for money next.  More on that coming up at the end of the hour.  Stay with us. 



MADDOW:  Inside the press corps, a real-life sordid spy saga, coming up next. 


MADDOW:  It‘s the kind of day that presidential history geeks dream about.  Today, the Nixon presidential Library made public about 280,000 pages of new material.  We bow to you, disclosure gods. 

Today‘s document dump included a Nixon memo ordering that Kennedy-era modern art be purged from American embassies around the world.  President Nixon called the art, and I quote, “the uglies.”  There is also a handwritten note suggesting that “G. Gordon Liddee” - misspelled, be hired for a project that later became the Watergate break-in. 

But the nugget that caught our eye was a story that historians have known about for years but which often gets over shadowed by Watergate, its vastly bigger and more historically importantly cousin. 

It‘s something called Chapman‘s Friend.  “Chapman‘s Friend” was the code name for a spy the Nixon campaign planted among the journalists covering his Democratic rivals on the campaign trail.  Chapman‘s Friend worked undercover in the press corps covering the Hubert Humphrey campaign in 1968 and George McGovern‘s campaign in 1972. 

The mission of Chapman‘s Friend was to look for signs of trouble on the campaigns and to gather any gossip and report it back to a political consultant at the Nixon campaign. 

Who was Chapman‘s Friend who was the spy?  There are actually two of them.  The first was a reporter named Seymour Freidin who later claimed he was doing it while writing a book about the campaign though he never managed to get a book out of it. 

The second Chapman‘s Friend was Lucianne Goldberg.  Yes, that Lucianne Goldberg, confidante of Linda Tripp, Monica Lewinsky‘s frenemy.  Ms. Goldberg may have begun her career in underhanded shenanigans for Richard Nixon, but she later became famous for encouraging Linda Tripp to record her phone conversations with Monica Lewinsky. 

Joining us now is John Dean, former Nixon White House counsel who testified against his boss in a Senate inquiry that eventually led to President Nixon‘s impeachment.  He is also the author of “Blind Ambition” which was just recently reissued.  John Dean, thank you so much for being here.  It‘s great to have you on the show.  


MADDOW:  You were in the White House when some of this was going on. 

Did you know at the time about Chapman‘s Friend? 

DEAN:  Didn‘t know about Chapman‘s Friend.  Learned about that much later.  I don‘t know who Mr. Chapman or Ms. Chapman might have been.  I do know, of course, that you reported the two friends who filled that task.  They worked for Murray Chotiner, who was a, sometimes, aide at the White House and a longtime mentor of Richard Nixon. 

He goes back to his very first campaign, a lawyer.  And he always claimed that Chapman‘s Friend was a totally legal operation.  And I think it really probably was. 

MADDOW:  Totally legal or totally illegal? 

DEAN:  No, legal. 

MADDOW:  Legal? 

DEAN:  I don‘t think there‘s anything - I don‘t think there‘s anything improper in having somebody follow where - with press credentials or claim press credentials on other‘s campaign.  

I think it‘s probably a rather common trait.  I think if we had stopped at that level, that history might have been much different.  When you look at Gordon Liddy and his activities as opposed to Chapman‘s Friend, were in very different leagues. 

MADDOW:  I understand that in addition to the Humphrey campaign and McGovern campaign spying, one of the things that comes up in the documents that we‘ve seen today is the Nixon campaign keeping a very, very, very close eye on Sen. Ted Kennedy, essentially tailing him.  What can you tell us about that? 

DEAN:  Yes.  That - when I got to the White House, I slowly learned that this had been in place since the Chappaquiddick incident that Kennedy was involved in.  And the Nixon people had thought it very important to get all these facts out since they believed that Edward Kennedy was the most threatening potential opponent that Nixon might face in ‘72. 

So they actually had an investigator there who posed, again, as a journalist, asked all the embarrassing questions at press conferences.  He was actually a former New York City detective who knew his way around this sort of things and was able to dig up an awful lot of information. 

And after that, it continued, and the document I saw today is when they wanted to increase it to seven - to 24 hours a day, almost constant coverage of Kennedy.  I happened to shoot that down, Rachel.  I thought it was absurd.  The whole Ted Kennedy covering had really faltered under my tutelage when they alerted me to these things and asked me for my thoughts. 

And I just thought it was insane.  And fortunately, the man who was doing it thought it was insane, too.  So it finally did dwindle down to nothing and there was very little coverage at the end. 

MADDOW:  Was the reason that you thought it was insane is because there was a risk of getting caught or because there was not going to be anything useful that would come out of it that would justify even minimal risk?  

DEAN:  I think it was al those things.  The few reports I had been shown - and I‘ve since looked at them in the aftermath of Watergate - they really are just gossip.  They‘re speculative.  They didn‘t have any hard information. 

In fact, Kennedy was behaving himself and they were very distressed about that.  That comes up in a couple of the tapes that they‘re not happy with the results they‘re getting, that he‘s being a good boy. 

So I just thought, one, there‘s a high likelihood that somebody could get caught doing this.  Two, it would take an awful lot of talent to do it.  I did get wind later that there was a plan when I had sort of shot it down to get the Secret Service to go up and provide protection to Kennedy and use that as a spying technique.  But Kennedy was smart enough to turn down the president‘s invitation to provide some protection for him. 

MADDOW:  John Dean, former White House legal counsel to President Nixon.  It‘s always great to have you on this show.  Thanks, John. 

DEAN:  Thank you, Rachel.

MADDOW:  OK.  Coming up on “COUNTDOWN,” Melissa Harris-Lacewell on the Harry Reid racial comments firestorm.  Next on this show, she left her last job halfway through to, quote, “fight for what‘s right for Alaska.”  And apparently, for Sarah Palin, fighting for Alaska means joining Fox News.  That‘s next.  Stay with us.


MADDOW:  To local sports caster, Miss Alaska beauty pageant runner-up, city councilor, oil and gas commissioner, mayor of Wasilla, half-term governor of Alaska, second place vice presidential candidate and co-author, you can now add paid pundit to Sarah Palin‘s illustrious resume. 

Sarah Palin will now be a paid contributor on Fox News.  She will also host periodic episodes of Fox News channel‘s “Real American Stories,” a series FOX describes as “exploring inspirational real life tales of overcoming adversity throughout the American landscape.”  Sounds like mad libs.

Gov. Palin released a statement saying, quote, “It‘s wonderful to be part of a place that so values fair and balanced news.”  What does this new gig tell us about what it takes to be the most famous Republican in America, to be the biggest brand name on the whole American right wing?  Well, Kent Jones has been looking into it.  Hi, Kent. 

KENT JONES, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT:  Hi, Rachel.  You know, thanks to Sarah Palin, we now have a whole new game book for how to get to the top of the Republican Party.  Here‘s some lessons to take away. 



JONES (voice-over):  One, don‘t worry about where you came from.  It‘s where you‘re going that matters.  Pedigree, wealth, what fancy colleges you did or didn‘t go to - throw that stuff off a bridge.  Your dad doesn‘t have to be president anymore. 

Two, smile.  Chisel a smile on your face early and leave it there.  Poise, personality, grooming and fitness will get you so much further than knowing the North Korea-South Korea thing.  Because honestly, how often does that come up? 

Three, cultivate the common touch.  Get dirty.  Drop your G‘s.  Remember you‘re an outsider untainted by the corruption of Washington and the east coast media elite.  And that‘s why you‘re wearing hip waders when you‘re not wearing a cunning Valentino frock bought for you by the party. 

Four, aim high.  Always be advancing to the next level.  With enough focus and drive, you, too, can go from being a commercial fisher to city council, to mayor, to governor, to candidate for vice president of the United States of America. 

And here‘s the great part.  If any of those gigs stop advancing you to the next level, just quit.  It‘s not like she swore an oath or - any who.  Embrace the media.  Then, and this is key, claim to hate it. 

Here‘s how it works.  You give interviews to the media so you can criticize the media, so you can give interviews to the media, so you can criticize the media, so you can give interviews to the media, so you can criticize the media until you finally criticize the media so much you wind up as the media.  And then, everybody wins. 



JONES:  You betcha. 

MADDOW:  Thank you very much, Kent.  Appreciate it.  It‘s a whole new world. 

That about does it for us tonight.  We‘ll see you again tomorrow night.  “COUNTDOWN” starts right now.  Have a good one.



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