Guests: Andrea Mitchell, Nicolle Wallace, Michael Moore
ANNOUNCER: Live from 92nd Street Y in New York City, this is a RACHEL MADDOW SHOW special event: “Leadership in America.”
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
RACHEL MADDOW, HOST: Good evening. It‘s nice of you all to be here. Thanks for joining us tonight, everybody here live at the 92nd Street Y, and thanks to you for joining us at home.
I‘m nervous. There‘s a ton of people here.
But we begin tonight with President Obama on the cusp of securing one of the biggest achievements of his entire presidency, one of his fundamental goals.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This is the moment when we must renew the goal of a world without nuclear weapons. It is time to secure all loose nuclear materials; to stop the spread of nuclear weapons; and to reduce the arsenals from another era.
Today, I state clearly and with conviction America‘s commitment to seek the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons.
It will take patience and persistence. But now we, too, must ignore the voices who tell us that the world cannot change. We have to insist, “Yes, we can.”
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
OBAMA: It is a centerpiece of my foreign policy and I‘m working with President Medvedev to reduce America and Russia‘s nuclear stockpiles.
Even as we prosecute two wars, we‘re also confronting perhaps the greatest danger to the American people—the threat of nuclear weapons. I‘ve embraced the vision of John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan through a strategy that reverses the spread of these weapons and seeks a world without them. The United States and Russia are completing negotiations on the farthest-reaching arms control treaty in nearly two decades.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Today, the United States Senate got within one legislative step of achieving one of the president‘s most important priorities, by a vote of 67 to 28, they needed 67, the Senate agreed today to move to a final vote on the new nukes treaty with Russia tomorrow. Eleven Republicans joined with Democrats today to move the treaty forward.
MADDOW: President Obama‘s main goal—main goal for this lame duck session of Congress was to get a vote on that treaty and it now appears that this will happen and that it will be ratified.
This was the reaction today from Democratic Senator John Kerry, who has been the driving force behind this treaty in the Senate. I should note if you‘re worried or confused about why you see subtitles on your screen, they are mostly here for the benefit of our live audience here tonight at the Y.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN KERRY (D), MASSACHUSETTS: This is not over. And, you know, we have to count every vote and stay on this and continue to deal with the amendments appropriately. And if, in the end, the Senate, in its wisdom, ratifies this treaty, it‘s a victory for the country, not a victory for anybody else.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: “A victory for the country, not a victory for anybody else.” Half true—because if the START Treaty gets ratified tomorrow, it would be political malpractice to not call it an unqualified victory for this president and for this presidency.
Reducing the world‘s nuclear stockpiles, working toward Ronald Reagan‘s goal of a world without nuclear weapons, locking down loose nuclear materials so it doesn‘t end up in the hands of terrorists, the whole smoking gun could be a mushroom cloud except this time for real—that is what Barack Obama worked most intensely on in the United State Senate before he became president. That‘s what he campaigned on during the ‘08 presidential race; that is what he has pushed for aggressively ever since taking office. It is a signature issue—a signature concern of his.
For the last year ever since the last treaty with Russia elapsed, we have not been doing on the ground inspections of Russian nuclear facilities. Where does most black market nuclear material come from? Russian nuclear facilities. The Russians have accepted our help in trying to stop that from happening, but for a year while Senate Republicans hemmed and hawed, we have not been able to do that. This treaty changes that.
There‘s also the slight issue of not just nuclear materials but actual full-grown nuclear weapons. Ours along with Russia‘s, still essentially on hair trigger alert pointed at each other. Decades after the end of the Cold War, the United States and Russia still have hundreds of nuclear warheads aimed at each other on hair trigger alerts, in shelters and launching facilities that were built—oh, say, 60 years ago. What could possibly go wrong?
MADDOW: Fifteen years ago we almost found out. Check this out.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NARRATOR: On January 25th 1995, the United States launched a rocket from Norway to study the northern lights. We told the Russians that we were going to launch that rocket. But somebody in Moscow forgot to pass word on it.
JOE CIRINCIONE, PLOUGHSHARES FUND: That fit exactly the characteristics of the beginning of a nuclear strike. One missile coming over, exploding in the atmosphere, sending out an electromagnetic pulse that would fry all the electronics, radar, surveillance, computers in the country to be attacked, followed by an onslaught of nuclear weapons.
And for the first time in the nuclear age, the Russians actually opened up the nuclear football. They went to President Yeltsin. They opened the command and control launch codes, the button, put it on the desk and said, “We‘re under attack.” Fortunately, Yeltsin wasn‘t drunk and he didn‘t believe what the military was telling him. He said, “There must be some mistake.”
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: The difference between a relatively uneventful January day that year and nuclear end times, the difference is our good fortune that Boris Yeltsin hadn‘t yet hit the bottle that night.
MADDOW: Hey, how about we point a few less thousand nuclear weapons at each other these days, huh?
Getting this nuclear treaty with Russia ratified is a huge foreign policy victory for President Obama and it is something that Republicans said they would absolutely deny him. It is a political win for the president because it has been on his agenda for a long time. It is a signature issue for him. It is a tactical win because Republicans said he definitely was not going to get it.
It is also a “save the world” win because if you care about—oops, it‘s the nuclear end of the world, then you care about treaties like this getting passed.
MADDOW: If the Senate ratifies the START Treaty tomorrow, it caps an astonishing period in American political history.
For the last two years, Democrats have held the White House as well as big majorities in both the House and the Senate. Their record of achievement in that time, even in the face of unified, at times totally random Republican opposition, Republican opposition even do things Republicans had proposed in the first place, unified Republican opposition even to their own ideas—their track record even in the face of that is historic.
Whether you agree or disagree with what Democrats have done in the
first two years of President Obama‘s presidency, they have freaking done
it. The Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act for women, expanding children‘s health
insurance, new hate crimes legislation that they said could not be done,
tobacco regulation, credit card reform, student loan reform, the stimulus -
which in addition to helping pull this country back from the brink of a Great Depression was also the largest tax cut ever, the largest investment in clean energy ever, the single largest investment in education in our country ever.
There was also a little thing you may have heard of called health reform. Also, Wall Street reform, the improvements to the new G.I. bill, the most expansive food safety bill since the 1930s.
MADDOW: And tomorrow, President Obama will officially sign a repeal of “don‘t ask, don‘t tell.”
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
MADDOW: Did I mention that I have a live audience?
I poke fun at myself on this show last night for having gotten it wrong when I said Congress would not be able to repeal “don‘t ask, don‘t tell” in the lame duck session. Wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong, glorious wrong.
MADDOW: But the bigger point here is not just that I was wrong, that
I didn‘t think it could get done and it got done. The larger point here is
that it got done. President Obama not only made a commitment to get it done and refused to cave on that commitment, but he also devised the strategy by which it could be done.
From the beginning of his term, he worked with Admiral Mullen and Secretary Gates to create the conditions in Washington, painstakingly, to create conditions under which it was more likely that “don‘t ask, don‘t tell” would be repealed than not—the conditions under which killing that policy was more possible than keeping it. It took two years of solid work. He did not waver on it and in the end, he made it happen.
There are big things this administration said that it wanted to do that it hasn‘t done yet—energy reform, immigration reform, the Bush tax cuts for the rich have been extended, closing Guantanamo. Those are some of them. Just today, it looked like one of the president‘s important judicial nominees, Goodwin Liu, will not get a vote to become a judge this year.
But there is territory that this White House has said it would like to cover that it has not yet covered. But by my estimation, it is halftime, right, in the first term, and with this vote tomorrow, they will have gone 85 percent of the distance they said they wanted to go in the first term of this president.
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
MADDOW: And the second half of the first term is going to be a lot harder. Nancy Pelosi becomes the minority leader in the House. John Boehner becomes House speaker. Every committee in the House falls under Republican control—a not insignificant thing given that the battles the Republican Party to lead those comities essentially turned into a competition between Republicans about who wants to investigate the White House the most, who wants to embarrass the White House the most, who wants to undo most of what has—more of what has already been done.
In the Senate, Republican Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has now quadrupled down that on his bet that the Republican Party should admit that its primary goal in Washington, above jobs, above, say, the wars and everything, their primary job is to make Barack Obama a one-term president. Senator McConnell told “Politico” today, quote, “If Democrats think it‘s bad now, wait till next year.”
Also news today from the U.S. Census Bureau that the redistricting happens when we get the new census means that in the next election, there will be more seats from Republican states and fewer seats from Democratic states. Of the 10 states that are going to lose House seats in 2012, of those 10, eight were won by President Obama in 2008. There are eight states that will gain House seats. Five of those eight were won by John McCain.
What Democrats face over the next couple of years was on clear display today in one detail. Today, the Senate approved a stop-gap spending bill to keep the government funded until March. That measure which Republicans agreed to pointedly does not include any funding to implement two of President Obama‘s biggest domestic achievements this year—no funding to implement Wall Street reform. No funding to implement health reform. Welcome to the next two years.
The entire second half of President Obama‘s first term is going to be about Republicans trying to dismantle and repeal all of the stuff that Democrats have gotten done over the last two years—health reform, Wall Street reform, stimulus, you name it. They will probably try to un-negotiate nukes with Russia. That will be good.
MADDOW: Democrats have taken all of this territory on the field over the last two years. And now, the next two years, what they‘re going to be doing is defending it—defending it from a Republican Party that is intent on undoing all of these things.
What sort of leadership is that going to take? That‘s next.
MADDOW: Welcome back. We are live at the 92nd Street Y in New York City where we thought we would be doing lazy days holiday shows because there would be nothing going on in politics. We are stupid that way because, of course, politics is off the hook right now, it is beyond the cutting edge and it has lots of other nonsensical things that Michael Steele says that are meant to convey the word intense.
Joining us now is someone who understands Washington and America‘s role in the world better than most, and by most I mean just about everybody, a woman who raises the median I.Q. of any room she walks into and is very kind to join us here in front of our live audience, NBC News chief foreign affairs correspondent, Andrea Mitchell, the host of “ANDREA MITCHELL REPORTS.”
MADDOW: Andrea, thank you so much.
ANDREA MITCHELL, NBC NEWS CHIEF FOREIGN AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Great to be here. This is fabulous.
MADDOW: We do it all the time. This is totally normal.
MITCHELL: Do they follow you everywhere? They should.
MADDOW: These are my family members.
MADDOW: Either this nukes treaty that looks like it‘s going to be passed tomorrow is a miraculous political achievement by this president in this political climate, or this should have been a gimme and the fact that it was hard at all is a diagnosis of how tough things are. How do you see it?
MITCHELL: A little bit of both, really. And I think it is a tremendous achievement from this administration, a united, very intense effort, a lot of unsung heroes here along the way—Republican and Democratic. But it should not have been this difficult.
MITCHELL: There is a long tradition of bipartisanship in foreign policy, especially on treaties, especially with Russia or the former Soviet Union or whatever you call those guys over there. And the fact that we came this close up until the last week or so of lobbying, and pushing and pressing and Condoleezza Rice became, finally, the last secretary of state to join the rest of her colleagues, Democratic and Republican, it should not have been this difficult.
MADDOW: You know, the objections from the Republicans sometimes sounded substantive and sometimes they did not. When they were proposing all these amendments, I thought, oh, they do have real concerns about the language. And then I realized what they were trying to amend was the non-legally binding preamble. It was like they were photo editors and they were fighting over the caption and they don‘t get a say over that.
And what made me worry about that is they didn‘t have real objections. They were probably maybe even going to vote for it in the end. They just wanted to stall it as long as possible. That‘s sort of OK when you‘re talking about light rail or you‘re talking about some other issue that gets debated day in, day out. But when it‘s a treaty, when it‘s a national security issue like this, that seems like uncharted territory.
MITCHELL: In fact, there are some who still have real objections. Whether they are politically motivated or real objections, they are still objecting. Jon Kyl is not going to vote for this treaty. Mitch McConnell is not going to vote for this treaty.
They did get—Kyl persuaded the president to go along with $4 billion for modernization of nuclear weapons, not a bad thing to do. We want them to work. You were pointing out what happens when potentially things go awry. And these are very old systems. They do need modernizations.
MADDOW: We don‘t need $4 billion of new red phones, but still.
MITCHELL: Yes, and it‘s a little suspicious that it happens to be in Tennessee, you know, at the weapons labs and those were the senators that were holding out for more.
MITCHELL: And you do wonder about the Tea Party inspirational, you know, budget cutting when it comes to money for their own particular states, but that said there‘s also politics going on.
MITCHELL: I‘m not so—I‘m not absolutely certain whether Mitch McConnell would have taken this position had Jon Kyl who some say is kind of the person—the pretender to become the next Republican leader down the road, if Kyl hadn‘t staked out this position.
We have yet to hear from John McCain as to how he will vote and he did not show up for today‘s news conference with Kyl and Lindsey Graham. So, he may still be trying to find a way to work his way back.
MADDOW: It‘s going to be fascinating to watch the vote tomorrow. Even on the previous treaties, there are always—you know, there‘s always one, two, three, four, five senators who have some objections. To see if there will be dozens of Republicans who vote “no” on this, I think, and watching John McCain‘s vote is going to be—it‘s three days before Christmas. It‘s going to be this huge deal.
And bigger picture question: do you agree with the big picture I see in Washington right now that essentially the Democrats are going to be defending ground for the next two years that Republicans will be trying to take away?
MITCHELL: Absolutely. And you quoted something that caught my attention, the “Politico” interview with Mitch McConnell when he said, you know, it‘s going to be that much tougher. They are going to see what angst really is—whatever the quote was.
The fact is: they are going to face much smaller margins in the Senate and a Republican House. And the continuing resolution that was passed to keep the government open past midnight tonight which the president will be signing by midnight which the House is now concurring and that continuing resolution is keeping spending at current levels.
MADDOW: Yes, a preview of what they will be doing.
MITCHELL: And there is no money in that for health reform and for financial services or anything else. So until March, none of that additional money will be plugged in. And I think they‘re going to have to fight for everything they want to get.
MADDOW: NBC News chief foreign affairs correspondent Andrea Mitchell, the host of “ANDREA MITCHELL REPORTS” here on MSNBC everyday at 1:00 p.m. - - thank you so much for being with us. Thank you so much.
MADDOW: If you are a connoisseur of spectacular shamelessness, I advise you to lick your chops. Oklahoma Senator Tom Coburn will definitely be not joining us next.
MADDOW: And now, let us praise the FOX News channel.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SHEPARD SMITH, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: We called a lot of Republicans today who are in office at the moment. These are the ones who told us “no.” Senators Alexander, Barrasso, Cornyn, Crapo, DeMint, Enzi, Grassley, Kyl, McConnell, Sessions, Baucus, Gregg and Inhofe. No response from Bunning, Coburn, Ensign, Graham, Hatch and McCain.
I‘m not really surprised, but what is your take on why does no one want to talk about this?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Why does no one want to talk about this? All hail Shep Smith at FOX News and I‘m not kidding.
MADDOW: Because FOX News has announced they can get return calls from Republican senators most of the time—unlike some other people I know who shall remain nameless but who are me—because FOX News can get call-backs from Republican senators, Shep Smith making a hullabaloo on his show about Republicans who are not supporting health care for 9/11 first responders means that those Republicans might feel compelled to explain publicly why they don‘t support health care for 9/11 first responders.
And sure enough, even though Oklahoma Senator Tom Coburn would not respond to one particular FOX show‘s question about what it is he has against 9/11 first responders, Mr. Coburn was willing to explain himself to another FOX show and it was a doozy.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. TOM COBURN ®, OKLAHOMA: This bill hadn‘t been even been through a committee. We haven‘t had the debate in our committee on this bill to know if it is the best thing to do. We haven‘t had the testimony to know whether—this is a bill that‘s been drawn up and forced through Congress at the end of the year.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Senator “Cuddly Beard” Tom Coburn of Oklahoma says the reason he is committing to block health care for 9/11 first responders is because the bill did not go through a committee, didn‘t have a hearing. Total bullpuckey.
MADDOW: Senator Coburn, bull, capital P, puckey. The 9/11 first responders bill did go through committee. It did have a hearing.
Senator Coburn, you are on the committee that held the hearings on it!
MADDOW: And you did not bother to show up for the hearings. Here I present to you is June 29th in the United States Senate, the hearing at which the 9/11 first responders bill was discussed. The hearing that Tom Coburn says did not happen and because he says this hearing didn‘t happen, he said he‘s going to block 9/11 first responders‘ health care.
Want to see Tom Coburn‘s chair during the hearing on the 9/11 first responders bill? His chair during the bill is empty because Tom Coburn did not bother to show up at that hearing.
We confirmed this with the committee itself this afternoon. The hearing happened. Tom Coburn did not show up. Now, he says, oh, if they had only held a hearing.
If you had been wondering what the substantive argument is against funding health care for 9/11 first responders, you are not alone. Keep wondering.
It is paid for. It is not on the deficit. It has been in the works in Congress for more than a year. The only reason it‘s being jammed right now at the end of the year is because Republicans have been delaying it all year long. It has been on the books for more than a year. It is 9/11 first freaking responders, but Republicans are still dug in against it.
What does that tell us about Republican strategy, Republican leadership for this new Congress for the next two years?
Joining us now is one of my favorite guests, Nicolle Wallace, former communications director for President George W. \Bush, former security advisor to the McCain/Palin campaign, a very nice person and author of the novel, “Eighteen Acres.”
Nicolle, thank you for crossing the ideological divide.
NICOLLE WALLACE, AUTHOR, “EIGHTEEN ACRES”: I wish my mom was out there.
MADDOW: That‘s the big secret. You mom is secretary here (ph).
That‘s the deal.
All right. So, tell me when you look at Tom Coburn‘s behavior here that there is some rational explanation, something greater at work here that I just don‘t understand.
WALLACE: In the secret Republican strategy box?
MADDOW: Please tell me.
WALLACE: Well, there isn‘t. But, look, the problem is—Tom Coburn is someone that I think even the Obama team finds a constructive senator. And so—
MADDOW: Senator Obama and Senator Coburn worked on a lot of things together in the Senate.
WALLACE: Right. So, I don‘t want to single him out. But the entire Senate minus the two New York senators, I think, has carried some of the blame here. When did 9/11 become New York‘s responsibility? I mean, remember after 9/11, that was an attack, right?
WALLACE: That was an attack on the whole country. And on September 12th and 13th and 14th, 9/11 was always something we experienced as Americans, not as New Yorkers, not as residents of Manhattan.
So, I‘m appalled by Republicans and Democrats who don‘t stand next to Senator Schumer and Gillibrand and fight for the first responders, because they weren‘t running into the buildings to save New Yorkers. They were running into buildings to save Americans, but Republicans are filibustering.
MADDOW: This is a bigger question for me, right? If it was up for an up or down vote, it would pass handily, even if it would only with Democrat votes, it would pass handily.
And Republicans are filibustering it, and what we have seen is the filibuster of everything now. And so all of these things that pass with overwhelming numbers. Even “Don‘t Ask, Don‘t Tell” repeal passes with 65 votes.
WALLACE: Huge number - all these great bipartisan accomplishments.
MADDOW: But why filibuster it? Why filibuster it when it‘s going to
get back -
WALLACE: Because they can. I don‘t know.
MADDOW: Because passing nothing is better than passing something you agree with?
WALLACE: Look, why do senators do what they do? I don‘t know. But I think the Obama White House ends the year with some of its most popular and powerful accomplishments being the bipartisan ones.
I mean, he had a very difficult first two years but he‘s had a triumphant last eight weeks. And some of the power of what he‘s doing in the final weeks of the year is that he has bipartisan support.
And I know there is a lot of consternation about the tax cuts being extended to all brackets but the truth is that gives this president a chance for independents to take another look at him.
The bipartisan support for “Don‘t Ask, Don‘t Tell” - and I‘m proud of the members of my party that supported that. I think if you tried to explain how that ever became the law of the land to someone who is in college, they would look at you like you‘re crazy.
WALLACE: That was Clinton-era policy. It hardly makes sense right
now. And you know, we have future generations to thank for making these
things easier. You know, I think we see the Congress really lagging behind
the times on some of these issues. But Obama is ending the year in a much
stronger position than he started it -
MADDOW: So but - as every -
WALLACE: Despite the filibustering going on.
MADDOW: And the only reason things are happening now is because, finally, Democrats have some leverage against the filibuster. They‘re saying, “We won‘t let you go home.” That‘s the only leverage that they‘ve got. Now, Republicans want to go home. They love to go home.
WALLACE: We all like to go home. Democrats love to go home.
MADDOW: I‘m going home right now inside my head. That‘s the way it
works. But as every Tom, Dick and Haley starts running for president -
WALLACE: Oh, I‘m not going to go there.
MADDOW: I spent all day working on that.
You want to know why we have a staff of 5,000 on the show? It took 4,000 of them to come up with that line. With everybody running for president right now, what you just described that President Obama‘s strongest accomplishments at the end here especially in the lame duck are ones for which he got Republican votes.
What‘s the Republican strategic calculation there? Because President Obama is the one who ultimately gets credit for the START Treaty passing because it was such a priority.
MADDOW: So do Republicans come under even increasing pressure to not do anything that even they might agree with if the political capital from that redounds to Mr. Obama?
WALLACE: I think you‘re going to see two Republican parties. You have the - you know, there are senators in both parties who go there to govern. Coburn is one of them.
WALLACE: Lindsey Graham is one of them and McCain, hopefully, will be one of them now that his presidential aspirations are behind him.
MADDOW: On alternate Tuesdays.
WALLACE: Yes. But you will see the pack that will be running for
president and they‘ll be real focused on taking apart, repealing parts of
Obama-care. I don‘t think they will be well-served to do it in a general
capacity. I think Republicans will be best served by being specific and
technical, not by being, you know, engaging in theatrics -
MADDOW: Calling it Obama-care.
WALLACE: Right. Well, I think they are specific and technical and legal. I think if they probably build some alliances with states‘ attorneys - they make me nervous.
MADDOW: Oh, I know. That‘s the idea. They‘re my heavies.
WALLACE: Wow. Yay, 92nd Street Y. I mean, I love this place.
MADDOW: You think it‘s a small bore on health care.
WALLACE: It does. I think the last time I was in a room this big I walked Sarah Palin onto the stage at the Republican convention and we know how that ended.
MADDOW: No wonder you were shocked.
WALLACE: Yes. So - what was I saying?
MADDOW: You were saying that Republicans need to go small bore on health care.
WALLACE: Right. Trying to undo things, I think, makes people anxious. So I think to the extent that Republicans want to discuss repealing the health care reform, they‘d be best served by doing it in a technical and legal capacity, being extremely specific and working with the states attorneys general who are going to be the ones who bring the lawsuits that will end up ultimately in the Supreme Court.
MADDOW: Nicolle, I agree with you on, like, four percent of your
politics, but I - I have to say talking to you -
WALLACE: I‘m sure it‘s more than four.
MADDOW: About 100 percent of politics. You‘ve been a really good sport. I really appreciate that. Thank you.
WALLACE: Thank you.
MADDOW: Nicolle Wallace is former communications director for President George W. Bush, former senior adviser for the McCain-Palin campaign which inspired her greatly. Her new novel is “Eighteen Acres” and I very highly recommend it.
All right. On our special show edition of “The Interview” just because I wanted to bookend Nicolle Wallace and Michael Moore, it‘s Michael Moore right here next at 92nd Street Y. Please stay with us.
ANNOUNCER: Live from the 92nd Street Y in New York, this is a RACHEL MADDOW SHOW special event “Leadership in America.”
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
MADDOW: My next guest is someone about whom the Internet is wrong right now. On the Internet machine and even in the newspaper machines, there are many, many stories right now about Wikileaks revealing that Cuba banned my next guest‘s movie, the movie “Sicko,” Michael Moore‘s expose of the U.S. health care system.
The story is saying that Wikileaks has revealed that that movie was banned in Cuba. That‘s according to Wikileaks. It was leaked so it must be true, except it‘s not.
Mr. Moore‘s movie was not banned in Cuba. It, in fact, was shown in Cuban movie theaters where Cubans saw it in Cuba. It was even on Cuban TV, which I also have on good authority, is in Cuba.
But if you look at headlines about this Wikileaks cable, you would not know that. The State Department cable that they published said something that wasn‘t true about Michael Moore‘s movie. The cable said “Sicko” was banned.
“Sicko” was not banned. But because the claim was in a secret government document that was leaked, that was not supposed to see the light of day, it makes it seem like it must be true, that it‘s been revealed, right? It‘s not true. It was leaked, but it‘s false.
And that is one of the thorny, complicated, doesn‘t-fit-on-a-bumper-sticker points about Wikileaks. When you leak stuff, the fact that you are bringing to light something that was supposed to be kept secret makes what you are bringing to light seem both true and important.
It makes leaking stuff a really great way to distribute false information. If you want to spread a rumor, for example, that some foreign ruler, say, King Hamentashen(ph) of Fakestan(ph) - you want to spread the rumor that he‘s secretly a woman, that he‘s secretly selling out his country to Fakestan‘s sworn enemies, if you put out a press release saying that, nobody is going to believe you about King Hamentashen(ph) of Fakestan(ph).
However if you arrange for that information to be leaked - oh, no, we didn‘t want you to find out that we knew that about the king - then it ends up being a bad day for the king.
It is a great way to spread disinformation. Even normally skeptical sources suspend their disbelief. Oh, my god, “Sicko” was banned in Cuba. There‘s the headline in “The Guardian” newspaper. It‘s not true, even it was in the leak.
Here‘s something else about Wikileaks that does not fit on a bumper sticker. On the 28th of November, Wikileaks dumped all these State Department documents, right?
The next day the United States government came out guns blazing calling the leaks an attack on the international community. Within a week, Sweden issued a European arrest warrant to go get the guy behind Wikileaks in the U.K. to answer questions about rape charges originating in Sweden.
The timing could not be more suspicious. The man accused says he‘s being pursued for political reasons and it‘s pretty easy to follow his logic. But even if you are suspicious about the timing, there are two women who went to the police with what are essentially date rape charges against this guy. That does not fit on a bumper sticker.
Can your suspicion about the forces arrayed against Julian Assange and Wikileaks, your suspicion about the timing and the pursuit of these charges co-exist with respect for the women making these accusations against him and with a commitment to take rape allegations seriously even when the person accused is someone that for other reasons you like?
Joining us is one of the great filmmakers of our times who has emerged as a stalwart defender of Wikileaks. He‘s the man who just posted Julian Assange‘s $20,000 bail. He is my friend, Michael Moore.
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
MICHAEL MOORE, FILMMAKER: Hi.
MADDOW: Thank you for doing this.
MOORE: 92nd Street Y!
MADDOW: Do you believe it?
MADDOW: I know.
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
MOORE: Thank you. Thank you.
MADDOW: Pretend they‘re not here.
MOORE: All right. We‘re not going to discuss your art collection, are we?
MADDOW: Yes. In great detail, actually.
MOORE: Not just for people who don‘t know, you know, Steve Martin was
here, talked about his art collection and then they had to give everybody
their money back. So -
MADDOW: I will, however, be acting out “The Jerk.” I‘m thinking
about what will happen there. So let‘s talk about this because I know -
MOORE: I did hear that the teamsters that night had to put Steve Martin in the trunk of his limo just to get him out of here. They were so angry.
MADDOW: The Julian Assange bail situation has been - has gotten a lot of attention. It‘s blown up in lots of different directions, left, right and center. I would love to hear why you posted his bail.
MOORE: Well, I just - first of all, I think Wikileaks has done such an important job to get the truth out about some of the things that we haven‘t been told the truth about. It‘s very interesting the memo, the cable that you - about the Cuba screening of my film.
That was - even that cable, which was a lie, was good to see
because you saw how the Bush administration people, located in the
intersection in Havana, were sending back cables to the State Department
assuring them that, you know, that “Sicko,” that Michael Moore isn‘t really
liked by the Cubans. So now, you know -
MOORE: Which you would think is kind of weird. You would think they
want to actually put that on me, you know, that Castro and I are sleeping
with each other. So -
MADDOW: Well, you would think they would also want to get it right if they are promoting it to the government as useful information for the government. You would think they would check to see if it is true.
MOORE: Yes. But this is all part of a sort of when the smear takes
place. And you‘ve had Wendell Potter - Wendell Potter on this show. This
is a health insurance executive who‘s come forward -
To talk about how they spent millions of dollars trying to smear me, trying to put things out there about me that weren‘t true in order so people wouldn‘t go see “Sicko.”
So I‘m very sensitive to when I see anyone accused like this, especially when the government, in this case, our government, has something very much at stake in stopping Wikileaks.
And man, when you‘ve got the vice president of the United States on Sunday calling him a high tech terrorist, you‘ve got people in Congress calling for, you know, him to be arrested. Sarah Palin, people, other pundits wanting - saying it would be OK to assassinate him.
It‘s just like - you know, I don‘t know. I just was - I was raised a certain way. And I was raised to be a good Christian and if I can say that here.
MADDOW: Yes. Look at me. It‘s the YMCA. Do you want to know what the C stands for? Don‘t worry.
MOORE: I was going to say the Islamic Community Center is represented well here in Manhattan. No, but that‘s true with all religions. I think they teach the same basic thing, and especially that you have to stand up for those who are considered the worst.
And in this case, as an American, you have to believe that that person has a right to be heard, a right to a trial and to be presumed innocent until proven guilty.
Now, I know nothing about what happened between Mr. Assange and
these two women. And I have to say quite clearly - and I have been a huge
advocate of this. When I was 19 years old, I helped start the first rape
crisis center in Flint, Michigan. So this has been a very serious issue
for me -
For a very long time. Every woman who claims to have been sexually assaulted or raped has to be, must be taken seriously and those charges have to be investigated to the fullest extent possible.
And for too long, too many women have been abused in our society because they weren‘t listened to. And they just got shoved aside or whatever. And it‘s just - it was not - the older people here remember the way it used to be. It‘s not that much better now. It got a little better because of the women‘s movement made that happen.
So I think these two alleged victims have to be treated very seriously and Mr. Assange has to answer the questions. That‘s not what‘s at issue here. I‘m much more concerned about that there is a concerted attempt to stop Wikileaks.
And I think Wikileaks, OpenLeaks - anybody that is trying to do the job of telling us the truth and how about - I mean, poor Bradley Manning, the soldier who sits in Quantico tonight. He‘s been in solitary confinement for seven months - seven months.
And his crime is - his crime is that he did what they said at Nuremberg were to do. If you see something happening, especially during wartime, that is illegal, immoral, you have a responsibility as a human being to stand up and say something.
And he came across, allegedly, a video of our soldiers firing from a helicopter and murdering two reporters from Reuters along with a bunch of Iraqi civilians.
That is being done in my name and with my tax dollars. I want to know when that‘s going on. And I admire anybody who stands up and tells us that‘s going on. He should be rewarded, not be imprisoned.
MADDOW: Hundreds of thousands of documents, if they all came from Manning, and if what you are describing there in terms of exposing that is one thing among hundreds of thousands of over things he exposed, do you want to hear the answer from him about why he chose to release everything wholesale rather than releasing the one thing that outraged him? I mean, the cable about Muammar Gadhafi having a busty Ukrainian nurse was not an outrage.
MADDOW: This was not him blowing a whistle on something. This was him personally taking it upon himself to declassify hundreds of thousands of documents.
MOORE: Well, I don‘t know. Again, I wasn‘t there.
MADDOW: Yes. I want to hear the explanation.
MOORE: But I would like to hear it.
MOORE: And I would assume that, you know, that is young person. And so one‘s level of maturity maybe isn‘t at the level, say, of a Daniel Ellsberg‘s maturity was at during the Vietnam War.
But we are a better people as a result of knowing the truth of what took place in Iraq and Afghanistan. And now, with the wider Wikileaks cables that - I mean, Rachel, this never gets said. I mean, we talk about the two wars we are in, Iraq and Afghanistan.
We‘re not in two wars. We are fighting six wars. Why isn‘t this said every night on the news? It‘s not Iraq and Afghanistan. Our military is performing actions in Pakistan. It‘s performing actions in Yemen, in the horn of Africa, in Colombia. We are involved in six wars right now. We are a six-war country. That‘s what‘s going on.
Why isn‘t that being said? I want to know about that. That‘s why I want Wikileaks and (UNINTELLIGIBLE) whistleblowers to come forward and tell us the truth about what‘s being done in our name and with our money.
MADDOW: We‘ll be right back with Michael Moore live at the 92nd Street Y here in New York. Please stay with us.
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
MADDOW: We are back at the 92nd Street Y here in New York City, with Academy Award-winning filmmaker, Michael Moore, talking about Wikileaks.
Is there - should government be allowed to keep anything secret?
Is there anything that governments should be allowed to keep secret?
MOORE: Yes, absolutely. Yes. But the problem with us is that we behaved very badly in the last decade, and we went to war essentially based on a group of lies.
Because of that, and because of the calamity that we have caused, the deaths we are responsible for, both of our own soldiers and the Iraqis, I think if I were king of the world I would say, “You know what? United States, we love you. You‘re great, but you‘ve misbehaved here, and we‘ve got to turn the lights on now, and we have to pay attention to what you‘re up to.”
So I think the lights have to stay on us for a while, because the people in power can‘t be trusted based on what they have done in the last decade.
MADDOW: Are you - one of the Wikileaks cables that just - that just surfaced, just posted at “The Guardian” Web site - we were just talking about this - is about your movie “Fahrenheit 911,” a screening of it being stopped?
MOORE: Yes. This was just while I was waiting backstage. And it just came across the wire. There‘s a Wikileaks cable tonight with me in it again, and the Bush administration - the State Department heard that a cabinet minister, the minister for environment in New Zealand, was going to host a screening of “Fahrenheit 9/11.”
They send a cable to New Zealand telling the ambassador to get on phone with the prime minister, who he calls, to tell him, get this cabinet minister to stop having the screening of Michael Moore‘s film.
And then, the cable kind of brags about how, due to the series of calls that they made to the government of New Zealand, they were able to stop - or not. They were able to get the cabinet minister to withdraw being the host of Michael Moore‘s screening.
Now, if they were micromanaging me that much over - they were
that concerned about the truth in “Fahrenheit 911,” that they had to go
after a screening in a place I don‘t even really know where it is? I know
it‘s way, way, like, too long to sit in coach for me. It‘s like - I just -
I don‘t -
MADDOW: You want to know, yes.
MOORE: Yes, I want to know, well, because I think it speaks to the larger issue. If they had time for that, what else, you know, are these guys up to? And that‘s why full disclosure, transparency is absolutely critical.
And we need to not only support Wikileaks, which is more than
just about one individual. And let me just say again, if that individual
is guilty of those crimes, I hope he suffers the full extent of what the
law can do to him for that. Everybody agrees with that, right? I mean,
this is - you have to -
But Wikileaks is more than just this one man. It‘s a whole group of people around the world trying to do this great work of transparency.
MADDOW: Michael Moore, Academy Award-winning filmmaker, I am not as much - I am not 100 percent with you on this. I think you‘re making an incredibly articulate case for it and you being persuasive about it is going to change the way I think about it.
MOORE: You mean about full disclosure?
MADDOW: About full disclosure. I just - I think that - I think that we believe stuff that is leaked to us in a way that is - can be dangerous. If people choose to do it in a malicious way. It hasn‘t been done in a malicious way, but it could be.
MOORE: And I agree, but the point of what happened to me with the Cuba cable is that‘s why “The Guardian,” “The New York Times” and these papers have to take these cables and then do real journalism.
MADDOW: Real journalism.
MOORE: Real investigative reporting. That‘s what we‘re missing these days.
MADDOW: Michael Moore - now, (UNINTELLIGIBLE) 100 percent. RACHEL MADDOW SHOW live in 92nd Street Y in New York City.
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