Guests: John Feehery, Michael Grunwald, Bernard Charbonnet, Valerie Plame
Wilson, Joan Walsh, Howard Dean
CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: Shirley sues him.
Let‘s play HARDBALL.
Good evening. I‘m Chris Matthews down in Washington. Leading off tonight: See you in court. Shirley Sherrod, the victim of Andrew Breitbart‘s right-wing slime campaign, is hitting back. She announced today that she‘s suing Breitbart. That as President Obama appeared on “The View” and blamed the media and his own administration for overreacting before getting the facts straight.
Howard Dean has been highly critical of Fox‘s role in this story, and he‘ll be here in just a minute.
Plus: Remember how Democrats promised to drain the swamp of Republican scandals when they took control of the House? Well, now one of their own prominent members, Charlie Rangel of New York, has been charged with 13 counts of violating congressional ethics. We‘ll get into that much more, that problem, and we‘ll get to the problem for his party.
Also, what is the damage from the BP oil spill? Is it less drastic than we thought at first? A “Time” magazine reporter says the worst fears have not been realized, but some gulf residents beg to differ.
And countdown to zero. Valerie Plame—remember the CIA official famously outed by the Bush administration during the debate over Iraq? -- is now the face and voice of a new documentary about the dangers of nuclear proliferation. She says we should be scared. And she joins us tonight here.
And there are—well, are there any amendments to the Constitution (INAUDIBLE) the Republicans don‘t want to get rid of? Well, a major Republican senator, Lindsey Graham, wants to repeal—catch this—the 14th Amendment, which guarantees our rights to life, liberty and whatever, property.
Let‘s start with Shirley Sherrod. Forward Vermont governor Howard Dean is the former chairman of the Democratic National Committee. He had a lot to do with the Democrats taking power. And Joan Walsh is editor-in-chief of Salon.com.
Well, let‘s watch. Here‘s Shirley Sherrod today talking to the National Association of Black Journalists. This was out in San Diego today. Let‘s listen to her.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SHIRLEY SHERROD, FORMER USDA OFFICIAL: He had to know that he was targeting me. Now, whether he was also trying to target the NAACP, he had to know that he was targeting me. And at this point—you know, he hasn‘t apologized. I don‘t want it at this point.
SHERROD: And he‘ll definitely hear from me.
QUESTION: And just to follow up on that, there have been reports that you are considering a lawsuit. Have you decided whether you‘re going to pursue that action?
SHERROD: I will definitely do it.
QUESTION: So you don‘t...
SHERROD: I will definitely do it, yes.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, that‘s Shirley Sherrod saying she‘s going to bring a suit against Andrew Breitbart, the blogger who put out that original story. By the way, just in fairness, here‘s Breitbart‘s defense. He says now that he was going after the NAACP, not after this government official. Here he is telling his story to NBC last week. Let‘s listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANDREW BREITBART, BIGGOVERNMENT.COM: So my motivation was to say, I have evidence that shows, based upon your standard, of people in the audience behaving racist. We have an NAACP-sanctioned event in which the speaker is talking in a racist narrative, in which the audience, when she refers to a white farmer—when she refers a white farmer to a white lawyer to send it to one of your own kind, and when she talks about not giving him the full weight of what she could do with her position, the audience cheers.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, you can‘t sue everybody. She‘s suing the blogger that started this, Andrew Breitbart. He makes the defense that it wasn‘t her that he was after, it was the NAACP, which had been charging the tea party people with being racist. And here he thought he was showing, he says, an example of where they have racial attitudes which are negative towards whites. That‘s his defense.
Your reaction, Governor?
HOWARD DEAN, FMR. DNC CHAIR, FMR. VERMONT GOV.: I‘m not a lawyer, but the fact—there‘s two things about this. First of all, he cut off the tape. He didn‘t show the whole story.
MATTHEWS: He didn‘t? What did he cut out?
DEAN: No. He cut off the stuff about—the redemption part of all that.
MATTHEWS: I thought that was in there.
DEAN: No, not on the tape—not on the tape that was aired...
MATTHEWS: Yes, it is.
DEAN: Not on the tape that was aired on Fox News.
MATTHEWS: Yes, it is.
DEAN: Not on the Fox News stuff. It was not on what Fox News reported on their blog. He cut the tape off...
JOAN WALSH, SALON.COM: Or on Breitbart.
DEAN: So it shows...
WALSH: It was not on Breitbart.
DEAN: ... the supposed...
MATTHEWS: Yes, it was on Breitbart. It was—it was in there, yes.
He didn‘t edit it. Not that I know about.
WALSH: No. Chris? Chris? He did.
DEAN: He did.
WALSH: He says he didn‘t edit it.
DEAN: He absolutely edited it.
MATTHEWS: Well, he didn‘t edit it. There‘s no evidence he edited it.
MATTHEWS: What did he edit.
WALSH: It‘s a 43-minute tape. I‘m sorry, Governor Dean. You can do this.
DEAN: Go ahead. No, go ahead, Joan.
WALSH: It‘s a 43-minute tape, Chris. It walks through her whole racial history. He clipped about two minutes where she seems to be saying, I didn‘t do the best for this white farmer because he was white. And that‘s where it ends. And then later, Chris, she goes on to tell this amazing...
MATTHEWS: Oh, I thought that in the tape that he did put out that it did include that part in it.
MATTHEWS: What he did to mischaracterize it was to suggest it was in current time in her role as a federal official.
WALSH: ... he did two things.
MATTHEWS: ... was with the cooperative.
DEAN: He did that, too.
WALSH: He did that, too. There were two lies. But he absolutely clipped or someone clipped the tape before she could say the powerful message of redemption that Democrats, at least, believe in.
MATTHEWS: I am right. You‘re wrong!
MATTHEWS: Let—do we have the tape here, we could show this?
Because I believe...
DEAN: Yes, show the tape that was on Fox.
MATTHEWS: ... his mischaracterization is the problem, where he said -
no, where he said that this was something because he said this is what goes on in this administration and then suggested heavily that this was her point of view as a government official, an appointee of this administration.
DEAN: He did that, but he also clipped the tape, so...
MATTHEWS: No, it includes the tape that she understood...
MATTHEWS: ... that she changed.
WALSH: No, it doesn‘t. Chris, really, you got to trust me and the governor on this. He really didn‘t because she goes on at the end to say, I‘ve learned that it‘s about poor people. It‘s not about black versus white always...
MATTHEWS: I think that‘s in the tape!
WALSH: It‘s in...
MATTHEWS: That‘s in the tape!
WALSH: It‘s not the tape Breitbart put out. It‘s not.
MATTHEWS: Yes, it is! Yes, it is!
DEAN: No. It‘s not. We promise.
WALSH: We promise.
DEAN: Check Drudge. Check the Fox blog.
MATTHEWS: I don‘t watch Drudge. I mean, I don‘t know—you check Drudge.
MATTHEWS: But let me go on here, this question here. Let‘s look at the situation as it goes now. Is she going to win this suit, Joan? Is it possible you can win this suit?
WALSH: You know, what? I don‘t know...
MATTHEWS: You‘re going—you‘re a public official. You‘re working for an administration. You give a speech at a public event, and then you make a statement and then that‘s used against you, whatever way it‘s used against you. Can she be successful in this suit?
WALSH: I have no idea. I‘m not a lawyer. I think the real issue here is that she is a person who has been wronged, horribly wronged. And she‘s looking for—she‘s looking for some kind of judgment. I‘m not going to get into a debate about the merits of her suit because I think, Chris, we get distracted. I—you know, this happened to me over the weekend, and Governor Dean knows this, where you get—you get distracted over, Is Shirley Sherrod doing the right thing, as opposed to, Why did Andrew Breitbart do this to this woman? Why did Fox then run with it, at least on their Web site? And Bill O‘Reilly was all ready to go with it before she resigned. Why are we fighting over this—this Fox-driven narrative of racial division, where you‘ve got...
MATTHEWS: OK, let‘s get back to that...
MATTHEWS: How do you—how do you argue that—I know this came out from Andrew Breitbart‘s Web site. I know he put it out. I know that Fox Nation put it out on their Web site. How do you say it‘s a Fox-driven article—a Fox-driven story? Tell me that.
WALSH: I think...
MATTHEWS: Because apparently, the administration moved to fire her, to push her out, long before this was on the air. What do you...
DEAN: But not before it was on the Web site.
MATTHEWS: It was on the Web site?
WALSH: It was on Foxnews.com...
DEAN: It was on—they put it up on the Web site long before...
MATTHEWS: Right, that Monday morning, yes.
DEAN: Right. That‘s right. So Fox...
MATTHEWS: So you think by putting it up on their Web site...
DEAN: Yell, yes.
MATTHEWS: ... they‘re responsible for her being pushed out.
DEAN: Well, they didn‘t pull the trigger. She was fired by the administration. So they‘re—but it was their story, which turned out to be false...
WALSH: And which Bill...
DEAN: ... that led the administration to do this.
MATTHEWS: But they hadn‘t put it on the air.
DEAN: They put it up on their Web site.
WALSH: Bill O‘Reilly had taped it.
DEAN: The Web site—not only did Bill O‘Reilly tape it...
MATTHEWS: No, they didn‘t. Bill O‘Reilly—Bill O‘Reilly‘s story didn‘t even run until that night at 8:00 o‘clock, which obviously...
DEAN: It was their intention to show it, whether they—but here‘s...
MATTHEWS: I understand...
DEAN: The point is, Chris...
DEAN: The Fox Web site is a major Web site that people read...
WALSH: A major news...
DEAN: ... just as the MSNBC...
WALSH: They call it a news Web site.
DEAN: Right. Well, we don‘t...
MATTHEWS: Fox Nation.
DEAN: But look, let‘s get back to the lawsuit thing because I think it‘s a very...
MATTHEWS: I heard the story went that her boss told her, This is going to be on Glenn Beck tonight, therefore, we have to push you out the door. They didn‘t even have evidence for sure that it was going to be on Glenn Beck. I don‘t even know if it was on Glenn Beck at 5:00 o‘clock.
WALSH: It wasn‘t. No, it wasn‘t.
MATTHEWS: So she was fired because somebody heard a whisper that it might be on. Whose fault is this again? You say Fox‘s.
DEAN: I think...
WALSH: No, I...
DEAN: When people put stuff up on their Web site that‘s not true, then...
MATTHEWS: How many—how many organizations now just are receptacles? This is my problem with the blogosphere. Somebody blogs something without an editor, like Breitbart, who has a point of view, obviously, to nail the left. He puts it up. Fox grabs it. They put it up. Do other organizations check out every...
DEAN: They ought to.
MATTHEWS: ... blog they put on?
DEAN: They‘re not doing their job, if they don‘t.
MATTHEWS: They edit them.
DEAN: Left, right or center...
WALSH: It wasn‘t just...
DEAN: ... you‘ve got to do that.
WALSH: It wasn‘t just Fox. And let‘s be honest here. It wasn‘t just Fox. I think MSNBC ran it, corrected it quickly. CNN ran it, corrected it quickly. You did a great show about it the day—the day the true story...
MATTHEWS: Well, we were straight on it.
WALSH: ... came out.
MATTHEWS: We didn‘t make any mistakes on this show.
MATTHEWS: That‘s a fact. And I‘m not part of this. I don‘t believe this, We‘re all guilty, crap that goes on around here.
DEAN: Do you want to go back to...
MATTHEWS: I want to know who does this stuff.
DEAN: You want to go back to the public stuff for a second...
DEAN: ... because I think it‘s an interesting legal question. If she is deemed to be a public figure, she doesn‘t have a case because you can say anything you damn well please about a public figure.
MATTHEWS: How about a—how about a speech in a public—a public arena like she did?
DEAN: I‘m not sure that makes you a public figure.
DEAN: She‘s not somebody who‘s been in the news on a regular basis.
Most in America had never heard of her.
DEAN: That will be—and I‘m not a lawyer either...
DEAN: ... but that will be—the case will turn on the question of whether she‘s a public figure. You cannot do what Breitbart did to a private citizen.
MATTHEWS: I understand that. Let‘s go right now to the president here at the Urban League today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: She deserves better than what happened last week...
OBAMA: ... when a bogus controversy based on selective and deceiving excerpts of a speech led her—led to her forced resignation. Now, many are to blame for the reaction and overreaction that followed these comments, including my own administration. And rather than jump to conclusions and point fingers and play some of the games that are played on cable TV, we should all look inward and try to examine what‘s in our own hearts.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Joan, why do you think he says cable TV and not Fox? What‘s his problem there? What is this, We‘re all guilty, stuff? I mean, if I were to say, every time a politician went before the Ethics Committee, that all politicians are to blame...
MATTHEWS: ... that would be nonsensical. It would have no meaning.
Why does the president say cable television when he‘s talking about Fox?
He‘s not talking about CNN or the History Channel or C-Span or Bravo.
WALSH: Because I think...
MATTHEWS: Why doesn‘t he just say what he has in mind, if he does have in mind—or is it that he doesn‘t like people talking about him or public discussions? Does that bother him?
WALSH: No, I...
MATTHEWS: Does he not like the 24/7 news cycle in which he was born, politically? Why would he have a problem with what brought him to the White House, the 24/7 discussions that go on?
WALSH: I think he‘s trying to do something that he does politically, Chris, and it aggravates many Democrats. He says Washington. He bashes Washington when he means the Republican Party that‘s obstructing him. And in this case, he‘s bashing cable news when he‘s really talking about Fox. But he‘s trying not to pick a fight with Fox because he did that earlier and it didn‘t go so well. But I think he (INAUDIBLE)
MATTHEWS: Does he think people will bundle bouquets and bring them to him because he doesn‘t name Fox when he means Fox?
WALSH: You know what? I‘ve criticized this president for not being tough enough...
MATTHEWS: OK, here it is. Let‘s take a look. Let‘s move right now.
We want to straighten this out.
MATTHEWS: Here‘s the original chunk that was put out by—on Shirley Sherrod on Breitbart‘s blog. Let‘s watch what went out by Breitbart, the original piece of stuff on this.
MATTHEWS: Let‘s watch it together.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SHERROD: The first time I was faced with having to help a white farmer save his farm, he took a long time talking. But he was trying to show me he was superior to me. I knew what he was doing. But he had come to me for help.
What he didn‘t know, while he was taking all that time trying to show me he was superior to me, was I was trying to decide just how much help I was going to give him. I was struggling with the fact that so many black people had lost their farm land, and here I was faced with having to help a white person save their land. So I didn‘t give him the full force of what I could do. I did enough so that when he—I assumed the Department of Agriculture had sent him to me, either that or the Georgia Department of Agriculture, and he needed to go back and report that I did try to help him.
So I took him to a white lawyer that had attended some of the training that we had provided because Chapter 12 bankruptcy had just been enacted for the family farm. So I figured if I take him to one of them, that his own kind would take care of him.
That‘s when it was revealed to me that it‘s about poor versus those who have. It‘s not so much about white—it is about white and black, but it‘s not—you know, it opened my eyes because I took him to one of his own.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, there you go—It opened my eyes, I realized it wasn‘t about black and white. It was, but it was about other things, about poverty. So Joan, that part—that part in there about redemptive revelation was actually in the initial tape.
WALSH: Chris, that little snippet was, but it ends with, I took him to one of his own. What she goes on to say is one of his own didn‘t help him. He came back to her. She wound up helping him. She saved his farm. And then she goes on to tell this story, which is a story that I‘ve told, and to some extent, Governor Dean has told, it took, about the way black and white people in the South were pitted against each other...
WALSH: ... and always taught to fight one another, when they really had more in common. She goes onto say repeatedly it‘s about poverty. It‘s about...
MATTHEWS: Yes, but why do you think—if this was a complete slime job, why do you think Breitbart kept that in there, Governor? Why‘d he keep in that part...
MATTHEWS: Let me let the governor in here.
WALSH: Sure. Sorry.
MATTHEWS: Why did he put the redemptive part in here at all?
WALSH: That‘s—I did not see that in the original—on the original Web site...
MATTHEWS: But it is.
DEAN: ... or the original Fox...
MATTHEWS: That‘s the original.
DEAN: That‘s—well, that‘s not what I saw on Fox.
MATTHEWS: Well, what are you saying? We‘re not showing the right thing here?
DEAN: I don‘t know what you‘re showing, but that was not...
MATTHEWS: Well, you‘re challenging us now.
DEAN: I‘m saying I didn‘t see that...
MATTHEWS: You‘re saying we‘ve made this up, that we put this in Breitbart‘s blog and it wasn‘t there?
DEAN: No, I—you sound like Chris Wallace.
MATTHEWS: I‘m asking you.
DEAN: What I said was that‘s not what I saw on Fox. I didn‘t see that last piece about the redemption on Fox.
WALSH: It‘s been...
MATTHEWS: Go ahead, Joan.
WALSH: It has been played...
MATTHEWS: The governor doesn‘t believe us now. What do you mean?
You‘re saying we just put something...
WALSH: No, the governor—the governor believes you.
DEAN: I don‘t know—I don‘t know...
WALSH: Chris, come on!
DEAN: Chris, I don‘t know what that was. All I know is...
MATTHEWS: You don‘t know what that was? I‘m telling you it was from the Breitbart blog.
DEAN: That‘s not what I saw on Fox.
MATTHEWS: OK. Joan, will you help me out here?
MATTHEWS: I thought Fox picked up—Fox had further edited the Breitbart blog? I didn‘t know that.
MATTHEWS: On the Web site.
WALSH: Different—Chris, you know what happens in TV. And I‘m not going to say this part is malicious. Different versions of the shortened clip were shown. And so I think that sometimes it had the part about, I realized it wasn‘t about black and white. But the point was why it ended there was it ends with him—her taking him to one of his own, and doesn‘t go on to tell this—it‘s a long story.
MATTHEWS: I understand it‘s not full. And then the question, of course, is, Did Breitbart get the full blog...
MATTHEWS: ... I mean the full bite from somebody who gave it to him?
WALSH: Right. And he says...
WALSH: He says it was edited when he got it. And we don‘t know. But
the point is that the woman was depicted as a racist. She was depicted as
a federal official who was discriminating against white people. And this
is the narrative that they‘re putting out is that white people are the ones
who are being oppressed. White people are in danger of being treated with
you know, with racist animus by our black president and all these black people that he‘s associated with.
MATTHEWS: I understand.
WALSH: This is a consistent story from Fox. We‘ve got the New Black Panther Story, which is a non-story. It‘s a ridiculous story.
MATTHEWS: I know. I know.
WALSH: And they‘re peddling that.
MATTHEWS: Let‘s stay—let‘s stay on this. Governor, here‘s the problem. That is what I remember was in the original. That was the original, and I just showed you what was in the original Breitbart blog.
DEAN: When I saw the story, that wasn‘t—the last piece about poor white people wasn‘t it.
MATTHEWS: Yes. Well, it was in (INAUDIBLE)
DEAN: Nor, I might add—the most interesting thing about that...
MATTHEWS: That‘s why we had that dispute 10 minutes ago...
MATTHEWS: ... because that‘s what I saw on the original blog.
DEAN: OK. But that‘s not what I saw on the network. I didn‘t see the original blog.
MATTHEWS: OK. Well, that‘s what Breitbart put on—that‘s what he‘ll have to...
DEAN: He may have.
MATTHEWS: ... defend in court.
DEAN: He may have. Maybe Fox...
MATTHEWS: Well, he did!
DEAN: Maybe Fox edited it further.
MATTHEWS: I‘m just telling you, that‘s a fact. I knew what came in...
MATTHEWS: ... you could go check it and come back if it‘s not true.
But that is in fact...
DEAN: OK. I‘m not disputing you. I never looked at the Breitbart...
MATTHEWS: That‘s where it gets murky here.
DEAN: ... the Breitbart...
MATTHEWS: Anyway, thank you, Howard Dean. Thank you, Joan Walsh.
DEAN: Thank you.
MATTHEWS: Coming up, Congress holds a hearing into Charlie Rangel‘s alleged ethics violations. And for the Democrats, who promised to drain the swamp after Republicans‘ ethics violations, the political stakes run high. We‘ll get to that next.
You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: Well, Michele Bachmann has drawn the ire of tea partiers in Missouri. Bachmann‘s campaigning there this weekend for Roy Blunt, the Republican congressman now running for the Senate. Trouble is, Blunt voted for the TARP bank bill. And many tea party people in Missouri support his primary challenger, state senator Chuck Pergason. One tea party leader even says it‘s baffling that Bachmann, the founder of the Tea Party Caucus on Capitol Hill, would be supporting someone with Blunt‘s record. Not the first time someone‘s been baffled by Bachmann.
We‘ll be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. CHARLES RANGEL (D), NEW YORK: I survived a Chinese attack in North Korea. And, as result, I wrote a book that, having survived that, that I haven‘t had a bad day since. Today, I have to reassess that statement.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, there‘s a sad man.
Welcome back to HARDBALL. That was New York Congressman Charlie Rangel this morning. And, this afternoon, the House Ethics Committee presented 13 hard charges against Rangel. Is this a big problem for Democrats?
MSNBC political analyst Karen Finney is a Democratic strategist and former spokesperson for the DNC, and Republican strategist Tom Foreman is a former top aide to House Speaker Dennis Hastert.
Let‘s take a look at this. Here‘s the problem, what he just said.
And that really doesn‘t exculpate anything.
KAREN FINNEY, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: No.
MATTHEWS: That‘s a personal plea for: I have served this country.
Give me a break, basically.
MATTHEWS: But, boy, this is a sad case.
FINNEY: Absolutely. It‘s a very sad case. It‘s a sad day. And, look, I think they were trying to avoid having it come down to this.
But clearly there was no way to reach any kind of agreement, so the Ethics Committee felt like that they had to move forward and go ahead with the 13 charges that they announced today.
MATTHEWS: John, do you expect—I will be hard-nosed on this. I really like Charlie Rangel. I have known him forever. I worked on the Hill when he was up there. He was a good pal of Tip O‘Neill. He was a friend of mine, I think. And I‘m a friend of his. So, let me just state that up front.
I‘m very saddened by this whole thing. So, let‘s talk the HARDBALL politics right now. Is there any chance in hell—and we‘re in hell for poor Charlie.
Don‘t chuckle too much, John.
JOHN FEEHERY, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: I‘m not chuckling.
MATTHEWS: Are we in a situation now where we‘re not going to get this resolved? Because you have got, what, five Republicans on that Ethics Committee and five Democrats. And unless they‘re unanimous—certainly they were in putting these facts out on the table today, these charges.
Unless they‘re in agreement, unanimously basically, this thing is not going to go away, that as long as there‘s some Republicans on that Ethics Committee who don‘t like a deal that‘s struck, it ain‘t going to be a deal that strikes. Is that fair?
FEEHERY: I think that‘s fair. I think this is going to stretch on for a while. I do think they offered...
MATTHEWS: Well, why? Just to back my point up, is the problem that the only way Charlie gets away with this is, if he is going to try to cop a plea or apologize or something, whatever he‘s willing to give, it has to be accepted by all the Republicans, not just one to make a majority, in other words? One joining the five Democrats wouldn‘t enough to make this work.
FEEHERY: Well, I think this is going to go on to further investigation, and I think that that‘s a problem for the Democrats.
I think that they did offer a deal for Mr. Rangel, and he turned it down. And I think that this is going to stretch on for quite a while now, into August.
This reminds me very much of what happened in 1994 with Dan Rostenkowski. And he fought it and fought it and fought it. And all of a sudden it was really a problem for him in the election and a problem for the Democrats. And I think the same thing is going to happen this fall.
I like Charlie Rangel, too. I think that he‘s well liked by all of his colleagues. And he has served the country very well. But, Chris, we have seen the story before, where people who serve a long time in Congress get a sense of entitlement and feel they can do anything they want, and then the rules change, and they don‘t keep up with the rules, and then they get caught.
And I think that that‘s what happened with Charlie Rangel in this really sad case.
We will see if that‘s all true.
Let‘s take a look at the speaker today. Let‘s listen to Nancy Pelosi, the speaker.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: But I am going to comment on what we did do to “drain the swamp,” because I will describe the swamp. The swamp was described in the press as a “criminal syndicate” operating out of the Republican leader‘s office.
And what we did when we came in was to implement the toughest ethics reform in a generation.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: That was about Tom DeLay.
Let‘s take a look at her today on the process of draining the swamp. Here‘s some more of Nancy Pelosi. Then I want to get back to our two guests.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PELOSI: Drain the swamp we did, because this was a terrible place.
And we have made a tremendous difference and I take great pride in that. Are there going to be individual issues to be dealt with? Yes. I never said that there wouldn‘t be. But we would have a process to deal with it and it would be internal and it would be external.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, here are the charges that have been drafted and put out by the committee today. I have got to tell you, they‘re very generic in the way we‘re presenting them.
But these are basically—if you have been reading the press for the past last couple weeks in this case, you are going to recognize them -- 13 charges against Rangel cover four areas, improper solicitations for donations. I think that has to do with that institute he set up, up there and getting money from an oil company.
Errors and omission on financial disclosure forms. That‘s obvious. Improper use of rent-subsidized apartment. Apparently, he has four apartments up in New York that are rent-subsidized he has been using for his political work up there. And not reporting or paying taxes rental income from a vacation home. He had a vacation home or has one down in the islands somewhere, and he hasn‘t been paying the taxes on the income from that.
John, put this up against—is the kind of thing that would cause an expulsion? Is this up there in Traficant country or something like that or Ozzie Myers country, where he was in Abscam? Would this be at that level?
FEEHERY: That‘s a great question, Chris. And I honestly don‘t know.
I think that the fact that he‘s the Ways and Means chairman and hasn‘t paid his taxes is pretty devastating, if not legally, then politically. The financial disclosure stuff, that‘s a federal offense. And you have to file those things correctly.
And once again, I‘m not a lawyer. I‘m like Howard Dean. I‘m not a lawyer.
FEEHERY: But, in the court of public opinion, this could be very devastating, because I think it bespeaks to the arrogance of power. The rent-subsidized apartments, misusing that, that just drives people absolutely bonkers, especially up in New York. And I think that, once again, it bespeaks to the arrogance of power.
MATTHEWS: Are the Democrats in trouble here on this? Do they have to bounce Charlie Rangel or get him to do something really drastic, like apologize and worse, like say he‘s not going to run again? Do they have to do that to get this off the skillet for them?
FINNEY: No, I don‘t think they do. I think they need to let the process play itself out, as it has been.
MATTHEWS: For this election?
FINNEY: The process has been playing itself out.
MATTHEWS: With a public hearing?
FINNEY: There‘s going to be a public hearing. That‘s the process the Democrats set up when Nancy Pelosi did come in and drain the swamp. And, frankly, the fact that we‘re at this point shows that the process is working.
And I know Republicans want to try to...
MATTHEWS: Oh, they—they want a hearing.
FINNEY: Well, they do.
MATTHEWS: A trial.
FINNEY: But they‘re also trying to compare it to what we were talking about in 2006, which was dramatically different.
MATTHEWS: OK, quickly, yes or no, does your side want a trial, a public trial, John?
FEEHERY: Well, I think that we want the process to move forward and that justice be done. I don‘t know if we necessarily want a trial. But I think we want all the facts to get out there to the best we can. And I think that we would like some justice here.
I think they would also like to keep this thing flying right through the election.
Your side like would like to have it over with. That‘s the big difference.
FINNEY: Well, and his side doesn‘t want Bush‘s big book to come out in October. So...
MATTHEWS: You always know you‘re in trouble when you change the subject.
MATTHEWS: Thank you, Karen Finney, for letting me know that. Change the subject means, please don‘t keep talking about this.
FINNEY: Public hearing. Public hearing. Public hearing.
MATTHEWS: John Feehery, thank you.
Up next: You might be surprised to hear which Republican senator—
I‘m shocked and I‘m offended by this guy that wants to get rid of the 14th Amendment, which has so much to do with the quality of justice and liberty in this country, and he wants to get rid of it.
Stick around for the “Sideshow.” One of my heroes has let me down.
You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: Back to HARDBALL. Now to the “Sideshow.”
First up: What‘s in a birthright? Once thought a moderate on immigration, Republican Senator Lindsey Graham now says he‘s in favor of changing the 14th Amendment, the one that says children born in the U.S., anyone born in the United States is automatically a citizen.
Here he is last night on FOX.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, “ON THE RECORD WITH GRETA VAN SUSTEREN”)
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM ®, SOUTH CAROLINA: I may introduce a constitutional amendment that changes the rules if you have a child here. Birthright citizenship I think is a mistake, that we should change our Constitution and say if you come here illegally and you have a child, that child‘s automatically not a citizen.
People come here to have babies. They come here to drop a child. It‘s called “drop and leave.” To have a child in America, they cross the border, they go to the emergency room, have a child, and that child‘s automatically an American citizen. That shouldn‘t be the case. That attracts people here for all the wrong reasons.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, this is going to be a major issue.
On a lighter note, the president talked about Chelsea Clinton‘s upcoming wedding this morning on “The View.”
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, “THE VIEW”)
BARBARA WALTERS, CO-HOST, “THE VIEW”: And were you invited to Chelsea Clinton‘s wedding?
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You know, I wasn‘t invited because I think that Hillary and Bill properly want to keep this as thing for Chelsea and her soon-to-be husband.
And I am going to have the exact—I am letting you guys know now, you all probably will not be invited Malia‘s wedding or Sasha‘s wedding.
WALTER: Have boys entered the picture yet for your girls?
OBAMA: Thankfully, no.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Wow. No more comment.
Up next: A new report in “TIME” magazine says the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico may not be as catastrophic as once feared. We are going to talk to the author of that report in “TIME” and see if it stands up when we return.
You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
JULIA BOORSTIN, CNBC CORRESPONDENT: I‘m Julia Boorstin with your CNBC “Market Wrap.”
Stocks seesawing to a negative close, the Dow Jones industrials falling 30 points, the S&P 500 slipping 4.5, and the Nasdaq losing about 13 points.
A rocky session today, the Dow bouncing around in a 200-point range on some uneven corporate earnings.
ExxonMobil posting a better-than-expected 91 percent jump in quarterly profits boosted by strong earnings from its refining operations. Sony shares surging nearly 8 percent after returning to a profit in a big way last quarter. Sales of Sony Ericsson cell phones doing very well in emerging markets.
RadioShack shares moving 3 percent higher after posting better-than-expected profits, helped by strong sales of Apple‘s iPhone 4. And chipmakers Nvidia and Symantec plunging around 10 percent after lowering their quarterly outlook on slowing demand.
Kellogg‘s shares tumbling nearly 7 percent after delivering lower-than-expected earnings and a weak forecast.
That‘s it from CNBC, first in business worldwide—now back to
MATTHEWS: Back to HARDBALL.
Has the environmental damage in the Gulf of Mexico from the BP oil spill been overblown? Reports this week show that the oil slick on the Gulf‘s surface is dissolving rapidly.
And “TIME” magazine reporter Michael Grunwald spoke to several marine scientists who say that the impact to the sea life and the ecosystem is not as great as everyone feared.
Well, Michael Grunwald joins us now, along with Bernard Charbonnet, who was chairman of the New Orleans Port Authority.
Let me go to Michael first.
I must have been wrong, because I kept asking for weeks ever since this spill occurred, will this biodegrade? And I was told over and over again it wouldn‘t biodegrade, that we would be stuck with this up to perhaps 60,000 barrels a day, accumulated up to about four million barrels, we would be stuck with it in perpetuity, until it finally did something, eroded.
You‘re saying that the evidence so far is that it has eroded rapidly?
MICHAEL GRUNWALD, “TIME”: Well, look, all oil is biodegradable. Some more than others.
This is pretty light stuff. It‘s not like that thick, tarry glop that you had in the Exxon Valdez. Now, there‘s still a lot of oil in the water. And we don‘t know what we don‘t know. There could be really severe long-term impacts. But when you look at the wildlife count so far and you look at how many marshes have actually been affected by the oil so far, there really isn‘t a lot of evidence of severe environmental damage, certainly compared to oil spills in the past, and certainly compared to the ongoing environmental catastrophe that‘s happening in Southern Louisiana, which is really the disappearance of the state‘s coastal marshes.
MATTHEWS: Mr. Charbonnet, your assessment based upon being on the ground down there on the shoreline?
BERNARD CHARBONNET, FORMER NEW ORLEANS PORT AUTHORITY CHAIRMAN: I
have read the article, Chris. I think it‘s too early to tell.
The article is written. He has two experts. One is a federal contractor and one is an indirect employee of BP. I don‘t—I don‘t—
I‘m not feeling this article.
You don‘t just measure a disaster by how many fish and how many oysters are gone. I mean, pelicans—at the end of June, there were 1,550 pelicans that were captured -- 835 of them were dead. We lose one pelican, it‘s too many.
Pelicans were on the endangered species list until a year ago. So, I can‘t agree with this article at all. And it‘s just completely too early to tell.
MATTHEWS: What was it that led you to decide to put the lead in this positive fashion, Michael? What led you to believe you would have to put a piece together? What—what, on balance, led you to think that there‘s reasonable—reasonable plausibility that this is going to end up rather well, compared to what we thought it was going to be like? What led you that way?
GRUNWALD: Well, this wasn‘t the story I went to write. I was actually reporting something very different.
GRUNWALD: But, in fact, all the scientists I‘ve talked to, and he‘s wrong. There were four scientists quoted in that pretty short article—talked a lot about how, you know, they showed me the data. And they said that this wasn‘t the kind of impact they were expecting.
It‘s really funny now to hear everybody saying, like, well, we have no idea what‘s going to happen. It‘s way too early to tell if this, you know, what kind of the impacts we‘re going to see. What I keep saying is, now you tell us? Because for the last three months, all I‘ve heard is that this is the worst environmental catastrophe in the history of the country.
MATTHEWS: Well, the question I have is what we‘ve—is the question that has loomed now for all these weeks and months now is that, the Gulf of Mexico is pretty deep. And that oil sinks. And it goes out there.
And we were always wondering how many years or months certainly would it be coming back to haunt us over its own time span. We wouldn‘t get all the damage right away. It would come in depending on storm conditions and currents.
How do you know it‘s not out there in bulk just as bad as we thought it was, perhaps 4 million barrels of it still out there?
GRUNWALD: Well, we don‘t. There‘s a lot that we don‘t know. That‘s certainly true. It‘s kind of nice to hear the kind of alarmists finally admitting that we don‘t know how bad this is going to be.
And in oil spills in the past, there have been some long-term impacts. Exxon Valdez, for example, the fisheries haven‘t entirely recovered. There have been some birds that have some reproductive problems -- but certainly not the kind of environmental catastrophe that we‘ve been hearing about. This is lighter—and this is lighter oil. It‘s a much warmer Gulf. And the Mississippi River water kept a lot of the oil away from the shore.
We heard that this was going to be a catastrophe for the coastal marsh lands, when, in fact, so far, there have been about 350 acres of oiled marsh lands. When every year, Louisiana is losing 15,000 acres, you know, just through manmade processes that were already happening. Like one of the scientists for the Audubon Society of al places told me this is like a sunburn on a cancer patient.
MATTHEWS: Well, let me go back to Mr. Charbonnet.
Give me the anecdotal—what‘s been happening on the shoreline down there in the New Orleans area? What are you getting in terms of daily reports on damage to the wildlife, the fisheries, everything you‘re trying to get down there in terms of food and employment?
BERNARD CHARBONNET, FMR. NEW ORLEANS PORT AUTHORITY CHMN.: Well, Chris, let‘s talk about the 358 acres he‘s talking about. That has everything to do with not wanting to lose 358 more acres. The oil is in the marsh, which means it‘s in the grass. If it‘s in the grass, it‘s in the seminal environment of the ecosystem. It‘s directly related to do the food chain.
If there‘s no grass, there‘s no shrimp. If there‘s no shrimp, there‘s no oyster—and on and on and on and on.
Today, you cannot buy an oyster in the city of New Orleans. The largest oyster distribution fresh water shop in America is closed.
Now, that‘s a direct affect on this storm. And this storm cannot just be calculated in fish and shrimp. There‘s a psychological damage here. There‘s a layering of depression that goes on and on. Our very vortex of our culture is at risk.
MATTHEWS: Your reaction, Michael? I also want to know about if this—if this oil has gone below the surface and is largely disappeared so we don‘t know if it‘s still there. My question is this: can it—can it evaporate below the surface of the water? Does it need the sunshine to evaporate? Can it evaporate under water, in depth?
GRUNWALD: Well, let me first—I mean, I‘m sorry. I‘m sorry if he‘s depressed about 350 acres of oiled marshes. But Louisiana has lost more than 200,000 square miles of coastal marshes in the last century. That‘s why he should be depressed. And a lot of that was because of the oil and gas industry.
This oil is really just—you know, it‘s a blip on the scale. And some of the worst critics of the oil industry in the scientific community were telling that.
As for the oil under the water, you know, that‘s certainly a question. I think there was a lot of—there was a lot of fear that you‘re going to start seeing much lower dissolved oxygen levels. And, in fact, you have seen some slight oxygen depletion. But nothing compared to the kind of hypoxia that you already have in the Gulf from agricultural runoff in the Mississippi basin.
So, again, this is not to—you know, I hold no grief for BP in this. I think, you know, they‘re just as—you know, they screwed up just as badly if there‘s not a lot of environmental damage as they would have if there‘s huge amount of environmental damage. You know, these rigs are not supposed to blow up. And 11 people have died. And that‘s a real tragedy.
GRUNWALD: But the fact is, you know, we‘re not seeing the kind of environmental damage that—and if people are depressed, it may be because people are making such a big deal about this environmental damage.
MATTHEWS: Well, you know what? I made a big deal about it. I may continue to because I fear for it. I haven‘t hyped it for any reason. I got to tell you, I am worried about the damage to our environment, especially North America. It‘s the only one we‘ve got. This land mass of ours, these waterways, and I am worried about it.
And this is the first positive report I‘ve gotten, Michael. That‘s why I have been concerned, not because I want to hype this baby, because there‘s nothing to hype about it. To me, it‘s been a tragedy from day one.
Bernard Charbonnet—sir, thank you for joining us with your reports on life down there.
CHARBONNET: Thank you, Chris.
MATTHEWS: Michael, thank you. I guess, congratulations if you turn out to be right, because if you‘re right, that‘s great news.
Up next: it‘s the scenario you that keeps the country‘s intelligence community up at night, a nuclear attack either by a rogue nation or loose nukes in the hands of terrorists. How real a threat is it? How imminent? Valerie Plame Wilson, the former CIA officer famously outed during the Bush administration comes here next.
This is HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: It‘s midsummer and the races for governor and senator out in California are completely up for grabs.
A new poll with the Public Policy Institute of California shows former Governor Jerry Brown leading Republican Meg Whitman by three points now, 37 to 34 -- a lot of undecided there. And in a Senate race, Democrat Barbara Boxer has a five-point lead over Republican Carly Fiorina. California is one of those states the Republicans need to win to get control of the Senate.
HARDBALL will be right back.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
A new documentary “Countdown to Zero” takes an in-depth look at the ongoing threat from nuclear weapons and the length terrorists and rouge nations have gone to procure them. In the film, former CIA operative, Valerie Plame Wilson, says that just before the 9/11 attacks, Osama bin Laden and his number two sat down with Pakistan nuclear scientist and discussed nuclear weapons.
In this clip we‘re about to see, nuclear expert Graham Allison talks about al Qaeda‘s continuing mission.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, “COUNTDOWN TO ZERO”)
GRAHAM ALLISON, NUCLEAR EXPERT: The objective of al Qaeda is to kill 4 million Americans including 2 million children. This is in his calculation the—what‘s required to balance the scales of justice. He takes various incidents from Shatila to the war in Iraq and counts up the body count and says, that‘s how many people we‘re out, 4 million.
You‘re not going to get to kill 4 million people by hijacking airplanes and crashing them into buildings.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Joining me now is Valerie Plame Wilson.
Valerie, thanks for joining us tonight.
This is an important film, obviously. I guess one of the questions most of us of my generation have been asking is: why didn‘t the bad guys—in this case, al Qaeda—simply go over to the former Soviet Union, sort around—I don‘t know if they do it online or some other way—and look around for some desperate Russian former nuclear engineers, give them a couple million bucks and buy a weapon from them, buy a nuclear weapon from them.
Why hasn‘t that happened?
VALERIE PLAME WILSON, FORMER CIA OPERATIVE: Hi, Chris. Thank you for having me.
This is really important. This film is such a chilling wake-up call. That scenario might have happened. As the film points out, you can buy a bomb, steal a bomb or build a bomb. And, in fact, in the republics of the former Soviet Union, it is really very much a free-for-all. There‘s a great clip in the film where one of our experts talks about potatoes are guarded better than highly enriched uranium, which is, of course, a fissile material used in nuclear weapons.
MATTHEWS: And let‘s talk about Iran. Now, that hasn‘t happened yet, thank God.
Let‘s go to Iran right now. Is it your—my sense people talk to me have told me that the mullahs over there or the secular people, or the reformers, they are united in that country. They want a nuclear weapon to bolster the prestige of that country in the region.
If that‘s the case, no matter what happens to the politics over there, it seems to me, Valerie, we‘re facing a real challenge of having a country like that with a nuclear arsenal—eventually.
WILSON: Indeed, I don‘t think there‘s any—I don‘t think there‘s any question that Iran is seeking a nuclear weapon. The question then becomes: if they get it, then you begin an arms race in that entire region. And it just continues to build, which is why “Countdown to Zero” not only talks about the horrors of nuclear weapons, the proliferation, either through terrorists or madness, miscalculation or accident, but that you need ultimately to get to zero.
And that is—it‘s not going to be done easily, unilaterally, but in a very well-orchestrated disciplined way. But ultimately, that‘s the path we have to be on.
MATTHEWS: Well, let‘s take a look at this clip. This deals with Iran. Let‘s look at the Iran nuclear program here.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WILSON: Without question, Iran is trying to get a nuclear bomb. They‘ve made that very clear—despite their promises they‘re only pursuing civilian, peaceful objectives for their nuclear program. They‘re really good at trying to bring things in that can be used for their nuclear program.
The Iranians have worked very hard at disguising and hiding their facilities. Many of their facilities are in crowded urban areas and underground, extremely well-protected from any sort of aerial bombing.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If Iran were to acquire nuclear weapons capability, the impact is across to the whole of the region, you will get a whole set of other countries deciding they‘ve got to acquire nuclear weapons capability.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, Valerie, you‘ve been—you‘ve been a spy, an intelligence officer, watching this for a long time now we know. What do you worry about most? What‘s the most like—I know you want to get to zero, but short of that, what‘s your biggest concern about a nuclear—
WILSON: Before that.
MATTHEWS: Well, obviously, before that. But which—we only have 10 seconds, what‘s your worry? Is it Iran, Pakistan, terrorists, which one?
WILSON: I think people who think about this and look at this. I think Pakistan is very worrisome because it‘s such a volatile region. And we cannot have a lot of confidence in their command and control.
WILSON: So, that‘s where I would worry.
MATTHEWS: Hey, we hope to have you back for this as the movie comes out. Thank you, Valerie Plame Wilson, so much. Great to have you on.
WILSON: Thank you for having me.
MATTHEWS: I‘ve always been a fan.
When we return, let me finish with the real reason why Shirley Sherrod was forced to resign.
You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight with a very short, sharp statement of why Shirley Sherrod was forced to resign from the Department of Agriculture.
On this point, she‘s right and President Obama is wrong: the villain was not some amorphous entity known as the media. That‘s like an old cliche, the one we used to hear after every national tragedy, “We‘re all guilty.” No, we‘re not.
Certain people did certain things. If they hadn‘t done those things, this episode would not have occurred, the attack on Shirley Sherrod that led to her resignation.
The fact is this whole episode consists of a decision of Andrew Breitbart to put on his Web site a presentation of Ms. Sherrod‘s statement that made it appear as if it were made in her role with the Department of Agriculture. Not 24 years ago in the private sector. That is one person‘s decision, without which this matter would not have been a matter.
The second decision was made by the person working for the FOX Nation Web site to act as the receptacle to the Breitbart blog without the checking the facts. That I assume is how the people in the Obama administration got word that the Breitbart blog was going viral.
As Walter Cronkite once said in his broadcast, “That‘s what the way
it is.” That‘s the way it laid out there: scaring somebody to put the
pressure on Shirley Sherrod to quit and thereby relieve the Obama
administration of responsibility. She was told simply, “You‘re going to be
on ‘Glenn Beck.‘”
Again, Shirley Sherrod is right. It wasn‘t the media that made these decisions that victimized Shirley Sherrod. It was the blogger who put out is the story, the network Web site that sent the story viral.
We are not all guilty, Mr. President, any more than all politicians are guilty when one of you screws up.
That‘s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us.
Right now, it‘s time for “THE ED SHOW” with Ed Schultz.
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