Guests: Robert Reich, Robert Cavnar, David Uhlmann, Eugene Robinson. Dr.
KEITH OLBERMANN, HOST (voice-over): Which of these stories will you be talking about tomorrow?
Day 43. The Reich plan: Put B.P. under temporary receivership and direct its money and expertise to the sole purpose of stopping this.
The president promises legal retribution.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: My solemn pledge is we will bring those responsible to justice on behalf of the victims of this catastrophe and the people of the Gulf region.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Top kill is dead. The next idea? Removing what‘s left of the blowout preventer, which is still somewhat functional, which means if you remove it, the oil flow could increase.
B.P.‘s next solution: hiring Dick Cheney‘s 2004 election press secretary as its new spokesperson. Job one? Getting CEO Tony Hayward his life back?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TONY HAYWARD, B.P. CEO: We‘re sorry for the massive disruption it‘s caused for their lives. And, you know, we—there is no one who wants this thing over more than I do. You know, I‘d like my life back.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
With drilling expert Robert Cavnar on the latest half-baked plan and former labor secretary, Robert Reich, on his proposal to take over B.P.
Sarah-noia. Political reporter Joe McGinniss answers Palin back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE MCGINNISS, POLITICAL REPORTER: Frankly, you know, it‘s revolting the things that she has caused people to say about me. The fact is, I would be living in this house if the Palins lived on the moon.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: “Tea Time”: Nevada tea party candidate, fiscal conservative, protect your money—files for bankruptcy.
“Worsts”: Actually said on national radio in all seriousness.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
MICHAEL SAVAGE, RADIO HOST: I don‘t know of an American president who‘s resigned. There may have been one.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Gosh, I wonder if he is right.
And the starting glorious news from the Cleveland Clinic: “We truly believe that a preventive breast cancer vaccine will do to breast cancer what the polio vaccine has done to polio.” Our guest and his new hopes of a breast cancer vaccine within the decade: Dr. Vincent Tuohy.
All the news and commentary—now on COUNTDOWN.
OLBERMANN: Good evening from New York.
Top kill has failed to even reduce the flow of B.P. oil into the Gulf. Naturally, the next brainstorm has temporarily at least increased that flow.
Our fifth story: this as a company spokesman this afternoon doubled down on CEO Tony Hayward‘s statement that there is no evidence huge plumes of oil are suspended under the water in the Gulf of Mexico, saying more proof is needed. One solution from Clinton Labor Secretary Robert Reich: putting B.P. into receivership. He will join us to explain.
First, B.P. is using a new phrase to describe its plan to saw through
the leaking pipe, then try to cap the spill and siphon oil up to a
containment ship on the surface—a procedure that used to be known as
LMRP, or lower marine riser package. B.P. now is calling it “cut and cap”
because how could something called “cut and cap” possibly be complicated or risky or bad or ineffectual?
Here‘s how: once there‘s a clean cut on the pipe, the flow rate out of the pipe will be about 20 percent greater than it was previously. Now with 20 percent more gushing!
No wonder the company and the Obama administration both refusing to estimate the risky operation‘s chances of success. According to some estimates, it‘s only a 50 percent chance.
And speaking of break-even at best, B.P. having hired Anne Kolton, Vice President Cheney‘s press secretary during the 2004 reelection campaign to become its new head of U.S. media relations. She then went on to run the public affairs office at the Department of Energy during the second Bush administration.
B.P.‘s British press office, however, is failing to plug the leak—that is CEO Tony Hayward‘s mouth. Hayward claiming that all of the oil spill in the six weeks since the explosion is on the water‘s surface in the Gulf, rebuffing scientists‘ claims of massive underwater oil plumes with two words, quote, “no evidence.”
B.P. spokesman Graham McEwen this afternoon is backing up his boss, saying that more evidence of oil under the water surface in the Gulf is needed.
Let‘s assume Mr. Hayward is right. There is now so much oil merely on the water‘s surface in the Gulf that you can now see it from space.
NASA releasing time lapsed photographs, the first showing Deepwater Horizon‘s position relative to the Mississippi River delta before the leak. That would be April 12th. Now, the day of the explosion, April 21st. Then, in approximate intervals of a week each, April 29th, May 10th, May 17th, and the most recent photo released May 24th. This is the near image and here‘s what it looks like from far away.
Tonight, Mississippi Governor Barbour announcing that oil is hitting the shores of his state for the first time since the spill. Admiral Thad Allen is no longer briefing alongside a B.P. official, at least giving an appearance that the Obama administration and the oil giant are no longer one and the same.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: We‘ve already mounted the largest cleanup effort in the nation‘s history and continue to monitor minute-to-minute the efforts to halt or capture the flow of oil from the wrecked B.P. well. Until the well is stopped, we‘ll multiply our efforts to meet the growing threat and to address the widespread and unbelievably painful losses experienced by the people along the Gulf coast.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Cut and cap and other physics in a moment. First, as promised, we‘re joined by Robert Reich, labor secretary during the Clinton administration, currently professor of public policy at U.C. Berkeley‘s Goldman School of Public Policy.
Mr. Secretary, thanks for your time tonight.
ROBERT REICH, CLINTON LABOR SECRETARY: Good evening, Keith.
OLBERMANN: You mentioned earlier this idea that you floated: B.P.‘s North American operations to temporary receivership. Receivership is—the little I understand about it—that‘s usually reserved for companies that are in bankruptcy. B.P.‘s profit for the first quarter is $6.1 billion. So, explain why we should do this and how it would be done?
REICH: Well, Keith, it‘s not only reserve for bankruptcy. When there is a national emergency, when a particularly company is responsible for a potential disaster, such as a nuclear meltdown of a nuclear utility for example, the government does take over. And this is that kind of an emergency. This is an opportunity and the responsibility of the government.
Remember, B.P. is answerable to its shareholders. And the president is answerable to the public.
OLBERMANN: The president defended himself and the administration defended itself for not taking over from B.P. by saying that B.P. has the technology and the know-how to plug the leak and it‘s almost unique in that capacity—certainly in terms of them being on-site and being familiar with the equipment and what has been damaged. Would any of that change under your vision of receivership for that company?
REICH: I don‘t see why it would, Keith. If the government were to take over, in terms of a temporary receivership, that same expertise would be there. It‘s important that all of the expertise, all of the knowledge, all of the resources of B.P. be directed right now in cleaning up this mess and making sure it gets no worse.
And it‘s very important also that the public get all the information that it needs that is accurate. Right now, there‘s a great deal of confusion because B.P. has that information.
OLBERMANN: Does—does it imply here that all their resources would, in fact, be then used under the government‘s direction towards—as priority one: stopping the flow of oil, repairing what can be repaired, making good what damage has been done to the economy of the Gulf?
REICH: Absolutely. I mean, B.P. is saying it can‘t do anything until August. Well, by August, the situation is going to be many multiples worse than it is right now. The government does have to be involved. In fact, not just be involved but be in control.
And now, it‘s something that perhaps the president doesn‘t want to do because he doesn‘t want to be too closely tainted by all of this. But I don‘t think he has a choice. Right now, the American people, the American environment, the coastline, a lot of businesses, are desperately, desperately in trouble right now.
OLBERMANN: And without something like this what, in fact—as much as the administration says it doesn‘t like what B.P. is doing, what Mr. Hayward is doing—if something like what you‘re proposing is not accomplished, if receivership is not forced, what authority does the administration have to change the way B.P. behaves?
REICH: Well, the administration doesn‘t have that much authority. I mean, under the Oil Pollution Act of 1990, Section 311, if I‘m correct, of the Clean Water Act, there is some authority for the administration, but not nearly the kind of authority under these emergency conditions that the president needs.
And honestly, the risks and benefits that are being weighed right now by B.P. in terms of cutting off this pipe, trying to put a new cap on, or putting dispersants, oil dispersants, attempting to actually disperse the crude, using a toxic chemical to do that—and the government, the president ought to be in charge of making those cost/benefit calculations, not a private company.
OLBERMANN: Last point, the knee-jerk response from the right about this. Oh, there‘s Mr. Reich, he wants the president to take something else over. How do you respond? You know, people look at this and go, oh, it‘s just a play to take over—the government is taking over every private business even B.P.?
REICH: Well, if it‘s matter of who do you trust less, big corporation, big oil company or the government, you know, everybody is going to have their own ideological fix, Keith.
But, look, the central importance here, using all the resources possible, getting the best information possible, making sure that the American public is being protected—that is the government‘s job. That is not the job of an individual private company that is reporting to shareholders.
OLBERMANN: Robert Reich, the Clinton labor secretary—great thanks for the idea and for your time and for your insights tonight.
REICH: Thanks, Keith.
OLBERMANN: Now, more on the science of B.P.‘s latest attempt to plug the leak. And let‘s turn to oil and gas industry expert, Robert Cavnar, who early in his career spent 10 years working on oil rigs before more recently serving as an executive in the industry. He‘s also a contributor to “The Huffington Post.”
Thank you for your time tonight, sir.
ROBERT CAVNAR, OIL AND GAS INDUSTRY EXPERT: Hey, Keith. How are you?
OLBERMANN: The top kill didn‘t work. B.P. has now moved on to LMRP, which at least—you know, it‘s improved on it at least in terms of convenience for newscasters, like calling it “cut and cap,” I don‘t if it‘s been practically improved upon.
But the company and official in the administration are refusing to give out an estimate on chances of success. Is this thing much riskier than the more risky operation? Where does it rank relative to top kill?
CAVNAR: Well, I tell you, Keith, the failure of top kill, they lost their only chance to kill this well before the relief well gets there sometime in August. So, their only chance here is to contain the flow and try to bring the oil to the surface. And that‘s what this operation does.
The problem is there are a number of risks involved—one being the fact that this blowout preventer has been very badly damaged and have flowed through for about six weeks now. So, the amount of damage to that blowout preventer is pretty—is considerable and I think it‘s a real problem.
OLBERMANN: So, if they cut it out and the oil flow increases by that 20 percent, which is the only estimate of anything we have at this point if that‘s what would happen, and this process doesn‘t work, we‘ve increased the amount of oil polluting the Gulf by 20 percent without any immediate prospect of relief?
CAVNAR: I think that‘s right. I think that‘s right. I think the chance of them getting the cap over the top of the wellhead is probably pretty good. I‘m more concerned about them being able to cut the riser off because of the complications involved with the damage on top.
OLBERMANN: Explain that in—talk to me like I‘m a kid here in the fourth grade.
CAVNAR: In English.
OLBERMANN: No. In the fourth grade.
CAVNAR: Yes. OK.
The riser is a 21-inch pipe that is attached to the top of the blowout preventer. One of the major failures when the well blew out was that that riser did not separate from the blowout preventer, which it‘s supposed to do with the emergency disconnect system. Because it didn‘t disconnect, it actually fell over, all 5,000 feet fell over, and put tremendous stress on that blowout preventer and complicated by the fact that there was drill pipe, 5 ½ inch drill pipe, on the inside of that 21-inch riser.
So, you actually have two pieces of pipe bent over there that they have to cut with a diamond wire saw.
OLBERMANN: A question about credibility. B.P. kept telling last week, oh, it‘s going to be another 48 hours before we know whether or not top kill work.
OLBERMANN: And they‘re be another 48 hours after that. How early do you think they had determined it had not worked?
CAVNAR: Well, I‘ve learned in this particular experience that when B.P. says everything is going according to plan, it‘s not. I figured that they knew probably after the first junk shot that this was not going to work. I began sensing kind of Friday that they had some real, real problems. And then I began hearing on Saturday morning that they had determined the top kill had not worked, but they were going to continue to pump on it until they had the next step, which was the cut-and-cap procedure in place.
OLBERMANN: I have not asked any expert this question yet and it‘s been asked of me a thousand times. Forgive me if it‘s trivial or if it sounds a little conspiracy theory in nature. But are you satisfied with that, with the feed, the video that we‘ve been seeing all along here? That it hasn‘t just been a pre-recorded loop or hasn‘t been messed with in some way? Are you convinced that that‘s actually what‘s happening down there?
CAVNAR: I think it‘s the actual feeds, Keith. There are about six and eight cameras on bottom at all times. I do think, though, that they manage the feeds and—let‘s just say—put more favorable pictures or more nondescript pictures for us to look at, rather than letting us see some of the more detailed operations.
As a matter of fact, I saw the top of the blowout preventer with the diamond wire saw mounted on the top this morning for the first time.
OLBERMANN: So, it‘s not completely a conspiracy theory question. I‘m really glad to hear that.
Robert Cavnar, the oil and gas industry expert, of “Huffington Post” as well—great thanks for your time, sir.
CAVNAR: Happy to be here, Keith. Thanks.
OLBERMANN: And then there are the human stories of this disaster. The man, his job, indeed, his company, turned on its head, pleading that he‘d just like his life back. Unfortunately, he‘s the chairman of B.P.
Plus, the effort to give him a whole new life behind bars—well, more like a really, really big fine. Next on COUNTDOWN.
OLBERMANN: I would like my life back—and thus the chairman of B.P. defines the cliche adding insult to injury while the world answers no. First step towards not giving his life back, but perhaps taking his freedom away.
Funny, it‘s her privacy that‘s threatened, but she‘s the one who posted pictures of him and where he lives and he refuses to do that to her. Joe McGinniss answers Sarah-noia.
If you have or you have lost someone to breast cancer, as have I, tantalizing news from the Cleveland Clinic, a vaccine perhaps.
And too much information, thank you. The world leader who brings a news conference to a halt by explaining saying he‘s had a vasectomy. Well, a world leader. He‘s from New Zealand. Ask him if he knows Mary Hewlett (ph).
Ahead on COUNTDOWN.
OLBERMANN: This will hard I will be a technical explanation of what appears to have happened just now at the remnants of the Deepwater Horizon rig in the Gulf of Mexico. But what we saw in the last few minutes and the live feed there and what‘s clouding out that picture rapidly appeared to be the blade, the saw blade that was working on separating the blowout preventer disconnecting the pipes of the blowout preventer.
It appeared to have cut through and instead of just seeing that nice shot we saw earlier, what looked like a delicatessen blade—for want of a better term—sitting on top of that rail or that pipe, it cut through and now you‘re seeing what looks like oil coming directly out of the blowout preventer. The meaning of this, we won‘t speculate at. We‘re just trying to point out that a change has taken place on the video being provided from the bottom of the Gulf at the Deepwater Horizon site.
It sounds serious. The U.S. president and the attorney general talking criminal charges in the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.
But in our fourth story tonight: How much do criminal charges matter against a company that already has a criminal record? Today‘s tough talk came after B.P.‘s CEO Tony Hayward‘s latest remarks suggesting he does not grasp the enormity of the crisis, except about how it affects him. Mr. Hayward—having downplayed the environmental impact and reportedly having asked what the hell did we do to deserve this—now, telling reporters his commitment to capping the spill is genuine because he‘s suffering.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HAYWARD: We‘re sorry for the massive disruption it has caused to their lives. And, you know, we—there is no one who wants this thing over more than I do. You know, I‘d like my life back.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Yes, maybe your next life. Today, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder confirming that prosecutors are looking into possible civil or criminal charges related to the spill. False statements or obstructing investigators could lead to charges. But Holder‘s focus is on environmental crimes.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ERIC HOLDER, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: We will prosecute to the fullest extent of the law anyone who has violated the law. We will prosecute anyone who has violated the law. Among the many statutes the department attorneys are reviewing include the Clean Water Act, which carries civil penalties and fines, as well as criminal penalties; the Oil Pollution Act of 1990, which can be used to hold parties liable for cleanup costs and reimbursement for government efforts; the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and Endangered Species Act which provide penalties for injury and death of wildlife and bird species; and other traditional criminal statutes.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: B.P., of course, has a considerable criminal record, including violations that led to the deadly explosion at the Texas City, Texas, refinery, and violation of its agreements made with the law made afterward, as well as criminal charges related to its Alaskan pipeline spill.
But despite B.P.‘s track record and despite the fact that the White House today refused to say whether it trusts B.P., the Justice Department is counting on B.P. itself to retain any documentary evidence it has related to the spill.
The president today is also promising justice after meeting with the co-chairs of his new commission on the spill. Mr. Obama is somewhat vague about co-chair Bill Reilly‘s knowledge of the oil and gas industry.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: Bill is chairman emeritus of the board of the World Wildlife Fund, and he‘s also deeply knowledgeable of the oil and gas industry. He also was EPA administrator during the first Bush administration, serving during the Exxon Valdez disaster.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Mr. Reilly sits on the board of directors of Conoco Phillips. In a 1989 report, he co-chaired on the Valdez oil, concluded, quote, “Some oil spills may be inevitable. The nation must recognize that there is no fail-safe prevention, preparedness or response system.”
That‘s true in a different sense than perhaps he met it then.
Let‘s turn to a veteran prosecutor of environmental crimes, David Uhlmann, now professor of law at the University of Michigan, who ran the Justice Department‘s environmental crimes division under both President Clinton and President Bush 43.
Much thanks for your time tonight, sir.
DAVID UHLMANN, UNIV. OF MICH. PROFESSOR OF LAW: Happy to be here, Keith.
OLBERMANN: When people hear criminal charges, I guess, a picture forms in the mind of Tony Hayward frog marched off in handcuffs. But, obviously, Mr. Holder was talking about a different category of prosecution, correct?
UHLMANN: That‘s correct, Keith. The attorney general was confirming or to some degree soft-pedaling to get today what has been going on for at least the last month, if not more, which is: Justice Department prosecutors working with investigators from the EPA, from the Coast Guard, from the Department of Interior, and quite likely, from the FBI, to develop a criminal case against B.P. and the other companies involved in the Gulf oil spill.
They‘ll probably be looking at environmental crimes, the violations or the statutes that the attorney general talked about. But as you mentioned, they‘ll also look at whether or not B.P. and the other companies involved have been playing it straight both before the spill in their dealings with regulators but also since the spill—looking at possible obstruction of justice charges.
OLBERMANN: B.P. refused to reveal the video feed, gave bad information on the spill volume repeatedly. It violated the agreements that it made after the blast at Texas City. And today, the White House refused to say that it believes the company is trustworthy.
When the prosecutors asked the company to preserve its own evidence against itself, does that raise any kind of red flag with you?
UHLMANN: It doesn‘t raise a red flag, Keith, because it‘s actually standard practice. What the prosecutors did is they sent B.P. what are called document preservation letters. They‘re basically trying to freeze everything in place within the company, make sure that no documents are destroyed, make sure that no e-mails are deleted, make sure that no hard drives are altered. They want as much as possible to be able to re-create the scene at the time the spill started, at the time the blowout preventer failed, so that they know everything that B.P. and the various B.P. officials involved knew.
Document preservation letters are issued in pretty much every criminal case. Prosecutors aren‘t—you know, they‘re not—they‘re not silly. They don‘t think they always work.
But once a document preservation letter is sent, if somebody does destroy a document or does destroy evidence, it‘s a whole lot easier for the government to pursue obstruction of justice charges.
OLBERMANN: The—can you explain in brief the principle that this country gives companies the speech rights of individuals, but companies and the people who run them don‘t have to worry about things like going to prison or “three strikes and you‘re out” or any of that stuff?
UHLMANN: Well, they do have to worry about going to prison, Keith. I mean, the environmental statutes that the attorney general talked about, the obstruction of justice charges that you and I are talking about, those are all charges that can be brought against individuals. But, obviously, the individuals have to be personally responsible before they can be criminally prosecuted.
OLBERMANN: David Uhlmann, the director of the environmental law and the policy program at the University of Michigan—great thanks for your help on this tonight.
UHLMANN: Happy to help, Keith.
OLBERMANN: And we‘re going to return to a previous guest, Robert Cavnar, who—of “The Huffington Post,” drilling expert with considerable experience in this field.
All right. You heard my speculation—what‘s just changed down there?
CAVNAR: Keith, while you and are were talking, I‘ve got the feed up on my laptop here. They‘ve been trying to get the riser cut away from the wellhead all afternoon. I‘ve been watching this jaw-looking thing is a shearing machine. And it makes a relatively imprecise cut. But the idea is to cut the pipe away from the wellhead to take some of the weight off the wellhead before they do the precision cut on top of the wellhead.
When you can see the picture clearly, the wellhead is off to the right. You can see it right there on the right hand side. And the shearing machine is cutting it about 20 feet down from the wellhead on that bent over riser we were talking about.
OLBERMANN: And thus, the darkness we are seeing is what? Is it oil?
Is it debris? What is it?
CAVNAR: That‘s oil and gas. That‘s—what you‘re seeing there is almost all of the flow. There‘s going to be some flow escaping from those cracks we saw earlier this weekend from right at the top of the bent over riser, but all the rest of that oil that was leaking out from multiple places is all coming out by the shearing machine now.
OLBERMANN: All right. So, they have cut the riser.
Robert Cavnar explaining what we thought we saw was indeed what we thought we saw. Much of (INAUDIBLE), sir. Thank you.
CAVNAR: Happy to do it.
OLBERMANN: Sarah Palin‘s response to all this has been to drill more, especially in wildlife reserves, onshore, because them is safer. Her neighbor Joe McGinniss answers her equally wacky response to his arrival in town and she shows up in the Twitter report—next.
OLBERMANN: Just who was spying on whom in Alaska? McGinniss v. Palin, next. First, the Twitter report and quelle coincidence, our Tweet of the day from Sarah Palin USA. And for some reason, she scrubbed this soon after posting it. “Governor Jindal, to avoid ravished coast, build the berms, ask forgiveness, later. Feds are slow to act. The local leadership in action can do more for the coast” Ravished? Ravaged, maybe.
Even on Twitter, that woman is an idiot. Let‘s play Oddball.
An ordinary news conference in New Zealand yesterday, where Prime Minister John Key took questions about his proposed budget cuts for early childhood education. When a hypothetical question was posed about the prime minister‘s own children, Mr. Key decided to over share about his own personal situation.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What would you personally prefer for your own children? Would you—
JOHN KEY, PRIME MINISTER OF NEW ZEALAND: I think if I sent my 15-year-old, 17-year-old to early childhood at the moment, they would have a meltdown. So probably I won‘t be doing that.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you had another one? Then what would you do?
KEY: I would be extremely worried, because I‘ve had an vasectomy.
Boy, that slowed things down. Any other questions?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: I‘ve heard of cutting government before, but this is ridiculous. That‘s transparency. Jermaine? Jermaine?
We‘re—I‘m sorry, I lost my place. I‘m so thrown by that. One of America‘s most notorious politicians unloads a series of unfounded allegations against one of its most respected political reporters. Joe McGinniss answers Sarah Palin, next on COUNTDOWN.
OLBERMANN: We know that journalist Joe McGinniss, who was writing a biography of Sarah Palin, rented a house next door to her home in Wasilla. But she took the picture of him, not the other way around. She unleashed thinly veiled allegations, not based in fact, which have led to death threats against the author, not the other way around. And a Wasilla newspaper has now ramped up the recklessness with an editorial which notes, humorlessly, it claims, that deadly force may be used in protection of life and property in the state of Alaska.
Our third story tonight, Mr. McGinniss has ended his silence. You‘ll recall that Palin posted a picture of McGinniss standing on the deck of the house he rented. And she wrote, “wonder what kind of material he‘ll gather while overlooking Piper‘s bedroom, my little garden, and the family‘s swimming hole,” which turned out to be a large lake that can be seen from space.
Palin also called into Glenn Beck‘s radio show. McGinnis received 5,000 messages in four hours after high pitched radio host Mark Levin gave out the e-mail address. McGinniss has received death threats. And over the weekend, Wasilla‘s “Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman” published an editorial which took a largely amused tone regarding the national media‘s fascination with the fence, the one that the Palin family built after Mr. McGinnis moved in next door.
The paper ended its piece with a reminder that doesn‘t seem to fit that well, and, of course, cuts both ways. “Finally, those who are fond of Joe McGinniss might remind him, if he doesn‘t already know, that Alaska has a law that allows the use of deadly force in protection of life and property.”
So when Mr. McGinnis appeared on “the Today show” this morning, he was the one who might have been feeling a little like prey.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE MCGINNIS, JOURNALIST: I think it‘s probably a lesson for the American people of the power Palin has to incite hatred and her willingness and her readiness to do it. She has pushed a button and unleashed the hounds of hell.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: McGinnis also explained that his attention had been to approach the Palins privately about having rented the house next door, so that it would not create such a flurry of publicity.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MCGINNIS: I wanted to tell the Palins directly, personally, face to face, and then hopefully work out with them some accommodation where we could all live peacefully, if not with great friendship over the course of the next three months or so, until Labor Day.
Sarah, hysterically, puts up this Facebook page with all sorts of ugly innuendo, which, frankly, is revolting, the things that she has caused people to say about me. She has created all the publicity. I didn‘t expect any publicity at all.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Palin has now—Palin has now again posted her Facebook page to update it to read that “the Today Show” had failed to use any part of the statements that the Palins had submitted to NBC News in lieu of an interview.
Let‘s call in associate editor, Pulitzer prize-winning columnist to “the Washington Post,” MSNBC political analyst Eugene Robinson. Gene, good evening.
EUGENE ROBINSON, “THE WASHINGTON POST”: Good evening, Keith.
OLBERMANN: Mr. McGinniss is writing a book. Obviously, he‘s researched his subject pretty well, but he‘s just now learning what Sarah Palin can do with a preemptive publicity bomb?
ROBINSON: You know, Joe McGinniss is a hero to my generation of journalists, but welcome to the 21st century. Welcome to the age of Facebook and social networking and polarization and really mean-spirited politics. And this is the world we live in now.
OLBERMANN: He also explained, it was their next-door neighbor who approached him about renting that house, knowing he was in the market for a place, and his motivation was low price. But, obviously, the creepy thing has become just that it is the nightmare come true of all the paranoids who follow Sarah Palin. Is this one of those classic cases of Palin getting ahead of and sort of trumping the facts? As we saw, last summer‘s edition was death panels and this one is, you know, Joe McGinniss, child molester?
ROBINSON: It seems to be. As far as I know, Joe McGinniss hasn‘t done anything except sit once on the deck. Nonetheless, creepy will develop a life of its own, just like death panels did. It‘s already being echoed by Drudge and the whole kind of echo chamber of the far right. And so it‘s going to be out there and she‘s going to continue it, in the absence of any sort of factual evidence.
OLBERMANN: In a subsequent interview with “the Washington Post,” Mr. McGinniss said that Todd Palin came over and got increasingly hostile as they talked about this, that Mr. Palin had asked Mr. McGinniss if he would be installing microphones and surveillance camera, and McGinniss said that was exactly what he would not be doing. The Palin Facebook post went up after that.
The right is presenting this as a cautionary tale about the mainstream media again. Is it more like a cautionary tale for the mainstream media, that the line about the pit bull might come back into play right now?
ROBINSON: I think it might. And I think it is a cautionary tale for journalists. Look, you know, we should be bold. We should be unafraid. And we should speak truth to power. And, you know, you don‘t shy away from the subject of your biography. Nonetheless, you have to realize that there are new resources and there are these folks out there with a lot of anger and so you need to, if not tread carefully, at least watch where you step.
OLBERMANN: If people say, I know that name, can‘t quite place it anywhere—you mentioned a hero to your generation, Joe McGinniss wrote “The Selling of the President,” which is probably the first—certainly the gold standard on the introduction of hard sale marketing into American politics. I studied it in high school, at which point he was only like 15 years older than I was. So I have long-standing respect for his judgment here.
But if you‘re the editor or the publisher of a political book and you want—and the guy wants to live—the writer wants to live in the subject‘s natural habitat, whoever the subject was, would you not deliberately stay further away, if your being there would feed this meme of borderline stalkerdom.
ROBINSON: Yes, I would look at it a bit differently, actually. Who wants the subject to know exactly what you‘re doing at any given time, Who you‘re talking to, who‘s coming in and out of your house? So I wouldn‘t want to be that close to the subject. There‘s a lot of skulking around that has to be done. You can‘t skulk if you‘re 20 feet away.
OLBERMANN: And that‘s “godfather ii,” where they bring the guy‘s brother in from Italy and sit him in the audience. That‘s what happens—never mind. It‘s too complicated. Gene Robinson of the “Washington Post,” great thanks, Gene.
ROBINSON: Great to be here, Keith.
OLBERMANN: The prospect, within a decade, of an actual decade to prevent breast cancer. The doctor behind the research joins us.
Seriously, again? Again, you‘re complaining that those mean old opinion shows crushed your perfect newscast. It had nothing to do with quality or added value or the Internet and stuff?
And when Rachel joins you at the top of the hour, Senator Orrin Hatch wants to make it illegal if you lie about your military service record, but if you‘re Republican Mark Kirk, Mr. Hatch can make an exception.
OLBERMANN: That‘s right, he criticized the leader of a Jewish group for the, quote, “kind of talks that led to the death camps in Germany.”
First, no, that‘s not your water coming to a boil, it‘s our nightly check up on the something for nothing crowd. It‘s Tea Time. Sometimes I really think the whole Tea Party thing is just this elaborate practical joke that everybody else is pretending to take seriously. And then one day, when I‘ve almost had enough, they‘re all going to say, surprise, it was just a gag. You know, like Rudy Giuliani‘s presidential campaign, or the Popular People‘s Front or whatever it was from Monty Python‘s “The Life of Brian.” Whatever happened to the Popular People‘s Front, John Cleese is asked. The response, “he‘s over there.”
Consider the Republican Senate primary in Nevada. Sue Lowden, who we all know about, chicken lady, got a free bus from a donor, turns out it would be an illegal donation, she denies it‘s hers. Her name turns out to be on the title. Sharon Angle announces I am the Tea Party, says she wants to eliminate Social Security and reportedly has times to Scientology.
Now meet John Scott Ashjian. He‘s the candidate for—of the Tea Party of Nevada. Hello, Mr. Ashjian. Mr. Ashjian‘s company was hoping to turn a block of Las Vegas into storage units. But exactly the kind of sign of fiscal responsibility, probity, and restraint that typifies the Tea Party; yesterday, Ashjian‘s company filed for bankruptcy. The bank says it‘s owed 750,000 dollars. Mr. Ashjian‘s company says it‘s assets are less than 50,000 dollars. Now we know why he‘s running. He needs the job.
This isn‘t a Senate primary. It‘s a sitcom.
OLBERMANN: The prospect of a breast cancer vaccine next, but first, get out your pitchforks and torches, time for tonight‘s Worst Person‘s in the World.
The bronze to Campbell Brown, the lame duck anchor over at CNN. I like her. We once co-anchored “Weekend Today” for a weekend. She‘s skilled at her craft, but this is I am a martyr to real news tour has got to stop. Her latest pity-me interview with the “L.A. Times,” quote, “people are drawn to the echo chamber and they want to have their opinions validated more often than they want to have their opinions challenged. And trying to present an unbiased perspective is simply harder.”
Firstly, enough with the false equivalency again between O‘Reilly and this show. I have never knowingly reported anything false, and we correct our mistakes. Secondly, she doesn‘t think the network‘s problems have anything to do with, you know, hour-long specials on Mick Jagger on primary night and the “American Idol” winner during the last hours of Topkill?
Thirdly, I‘ve done the two kinds of news hours that she references by implication, one where you just read what‘s handed to you and you pretend that both sides, correct and wrong, merit equal consideration, and you believe you, and you alone in the world are objective. And I‘ve done the news hour when you stick your neck out and you tell the echo chamber it‘s wrong, and you try to get people thinking and you get death threats in the mail and dirty looks in the hallway.
And trust me, of those two kinds, trying to present an unbiased perspective is not just easier, it‘s as easy as re-reading the Associated Press wire copy. CNN‘s 8:00 news programs haven‘t failed because they‘re competing with opinion and interpretive news programs. They‘ve failed because CNN hasn‘t figured out that everything it puts on the air is available to everybody who watches all day on the Internet. And if you don‘t bring something else to the table, they aren‘t going to watch. Let‘s hope they don‘t figure it out. Oh, and happy 30th birthday, CNN.
The runner up, Lonesome Rhodes Beck. Activist Simon Grier called him a con man for his comments equating social justice with evil. “When churches, synagogues, mosques and other houses of worship across this country advocate for social justice, advocate for the common good, advocate for America, they and we walk in God‘s path.”
Beck‘s response, “this leads to death camps. A Jew of all people should know that. This is exactly the kind of talk that led to the death camps in Germany. Put human kind and the common good first.”
That‘s right, Simon Grier is the president and CEO of Jewish Funds for Justice and Beck played the Nazi card on him. Grier‘s reply, “Glenn Beck has a history of recklessly invoking Nazi Germany and the Holocaust in order to advance his political agenda, but never before has Beck accused Jews, including survivors of the Holocaust, and their children and grandchildren, of paving the way for Fascism. Through his comments, Beck has demonstrated that he has no idea what leads to fascism. Jews and others who were victims of the Holocaust do not have the luxury of his ignorance.”
Glenn, the mistakes are coming more rapidly now, and they‘re more and more obvious, and they‘re more and more embarrassing, and more and more bewildering, even to the people who do not think you‘re nuts. Apparently an intervention helped you at some point in the past. Maybe it‘s time to ask your friends for that help again.
And our winner, radio‘s ultimate caricature Michael Savage. I can‘t remember the last time he was on this list because his rhetoric jumped the shark so long ago. But he is still eligible for his stupidity about history. While hallucinating about whether or not the president might resign, he actually said this—
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHAEL SAVAGE, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: It‘s way beyond anything he ever wanted and he really would like to get out of the kitchen. It was too much. I saw that. Now, it wouldn‘t be unheard of, but I‘ve never—I don‘t know of an American president who‘s resigned. There may have been one.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Nixon? Ring a bell? Nixon? As radio audiences are measured, Savage may be heard for a moment or longer by 10 million different people a week. And each of them is now this much dumber because of it. Michael “Didn‘t McGovern Win” Savage, today‘s worst person in the world.
OLBERMANN: It is the second leading cause of cancer death in women. Last year alone, it killed over 40,000. Among them, my mother. But in our number one story, newly discovered hope in the fight against breast cancer. Dr. Vincent Tuohy of the Cleveland Clinic says he‘s developed a preventive vaccine that will do to breast cancer what the Polio Vaccine has done for Polio. And it could be a reality by the end of this decade. In a moment, Dr. Tuohy will join us.
The findings published in the “Journal of Nature and Medicine,” in which cancer-prone mice were kept rumor free. Dr. Tuohy and a team of researchers at the Cleveland Clinic developing a vaccine that stimulates the immune system by helping it destroying the tumor-causing protein, Alphalactalbumine (ph). The mice that were immunized did not develop breast tumors, while the mice that were not immunized did.
The vaccine also helped shrink pre-existing tumors, suggesting the drug could be used as a treatment, as well as a vaccine. The goal is to offer the vaccine to women before they reach their mid-40s, when the threat of developing breast cancer increases. The vaccine would boost a woman‘s immune system without damaging healthy breast tissue. Clinical trials on humans expected within the year.
As promised, now joining me from Cleveland, Dr. Vincent Tuohy of the Cleveland Clinic. Thanks for some of your time tonight, sir.
DR. VINCENT TUOHY, CLEVELAND CLINIC: Thank you for having me. It‘s very nice.
OLBERMANN: Two words. How soon?
TUOHY: Two words, ten years. It‘s—there‘s a tremendous amount of regulatory issues that we have to confront. And the fact is, we don‘t have any funding right now to go into clinical trials. It‘s very expensive. So it‘s going to take some time even to—before we enter the phase I initial trials for safety, toxicity, dosage and so forth.
So we have quite a bit of work ahead of us. This is very, very preliminary, very, very early and it‘s certainly, I think, full of hope, but we have a long way to go.
OLBERMANN: You do seem to be, though, more hopeful than I‘ve heard people talk about this in the past. Are you—is there substance to this or instinct? What‘s involved in your assessment of it?
TUOHY: Well, we started working on this eight years ago. The concept was based on the childhood vaccination program, which we take for granted. But it‘s been the most effective, most powerful medical intervention in history. And it‘s eliminated diseases like Polio and Measles. They‘re gone. We take it for granted, but it‘s been wonderful.
And what we—but it ends when we‘re 13 with the vaccination against Human Papilloma Virus. We have no scheduled vaccinations until age 60 for Herpes Austor (ph) and Pneumoniacaucus (ph). And here we are in our middle age, around 40 years old, and we have no vaccinations scheduled. And yet we have diseases that we have to confront, like breast cancer and prostate cancer and ovarian cancer and colon cancer, and these are things that I thought that we should develop a vaccine that could prevent them.
Treating them has been terribly disappointed. It‘s very hard to eliminate a tumor once it takes root. But preventing it, I think, would be easier. We just have to overcome a few obstacles, one of which is if we have a preventive vaccine against these cancers, we have to avoid damaging normal tissues. And I think that‘s what I tried to do, and that‘s what my manuscript shows a way, one way—there are probably many ways—but one way to avoid the residual or systemic damage or local damage to breast or other tissues as a result of a prophylactic vaccine, and yet, at the same time, be protected from breast cancer.
OLBERMANN: Tell me about this other tantalizing aspect of this, the prospect of using this not merely as a vaccine, but that it might be treatment. You mentioned how difficult it is to stop the tumor once it started, yet you have some hopes this might impact that too?
TUOHY: Yes. We think the majority of breast tumors express this particular protein that we‘ve targeted. In our hands, it did work. It was statistically significant and effective in treating animals that had established tumors. But it was so much more effective—I mean, really so much more effective when it was used to prevent disease. And it did so whereby the animals had no—absolutely no sign of inflammatory changes in the breast or anywhere else we looked.
We looked exhaustively. We couldn‘t find it, and that‘s—I think that‘s where the key element is. I think we showed a way of vaccinating against cells—against breast cells in such a way that we have no peripheral damage. I think this could be done. I hope other investigators take up this type of approach, or similar approaches, and do it for other cancers. I think this would be wonderful and it would be a great way, I think, to really lower our health care costs. Don‘t you think?
OLBERMANN: Yeah, indeed. You mentioned Papilloma. There‘s also an FDA-approved cancer vaccines for cervical and for liver. Is there some sense—do you have some sense—in a very brief amount of time, do you have some sense that we‘re getting a handle, finally, on what to do about cancer?
TUOHY: : Those vaccines are really traditional vaccines against viruses that are associated very strongly with causing cancer. The vaccine that we produced is against cells, so it‘s another jump in terms of what we can vaccinate against safely and effectively.
OLBERMANN: Dr. Vincent Tuohy, immunologist at the Cleveland Clinic, congratulations in advance and congratulations for what you‘ve done so far. Thanks for your time.
TUOHY: Thank you very much.
OLBERMANN: Much appreciated. That‘s COUNTDOWN for this, the 43rd day of the Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf. I‘m Keith Olbermann, good night and good luck.
And now to discuss Senator Hatch‘s plan to make it illegal to lie about your military service, unless, of course, you‘re a Republican, ladies and gentlemen, here is Rachel Maddow. Good evening, Rachel.
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'Countdown with Keith Olbermann' for Tuesday, June 1st, 2010
Guests: Robert Reich, Robert Cavnar, David Uhlmann, Eugene Robinson. Dr.