Guests: Cenk Uygur, Chris Hayes, Asenath Andrews
LAWRENCE O‘DONNELL, HOST, “THE LAST WORD”: THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW is
Good evening, Rachel.
RACHEL MADDOW, HOST: Good evening, Lawrence. Thanks very much.
And thanks to you at home for staying with us for the next hour.
Did you hear about the big David Vitter scandal today? David Vitter, last 4th of July, when he was a candidate for re-election to the U.S. Senate, David Vitter made an appearance at a 4th of July event in Lafayette Parish, Louisiana. It was an event significantly funded by taxpayer dollars called the “Red, White, and Boom” concert by the Acadiana Symphony Orchestra.
Local Democrats saying now it was improper for David Vitter to be making campaign season appearances at events like that when they are taxpayer-funded events. It‘s like turning taxpayer money toward your own partisan gain.
The big scandal of David Vitter today, there are questions about whether he is going to be invited back to the “Red, White, and Boom” concert again this year after last year‘s controversy. That‘s the David Vitter scandal of today‘s news.
Kind of a high class scandal to have, right? It‘s kind of a high class problem to have if you are a United States senator who has been caught patronizing hookers, because after all, the should I or shouldn‘t I appear the “Red, White, and Boom” concert scandal is the kind of scandal that you can really only have if you are a member in good standing of the United States Senate, which David Vitter remarkably is.
No, Louisiana Republican, no Republican member of the United States Senate, no elected Republican at all, anywhere, ever, appears to have called on David Vitter to resign from the United States Senate once he was caught up in the big hooker scandal. That fact has, of course, not stopped Republicans from calling on for other members of Congress to resign for their sex scandals, even when their sex scandals didn‘t involve criminal behavior and paying for actual sex.
Of course, not calling on people to resign depends on the people caught up in the scandal not being Republicans. Because the point is, David Vitter is a Republican, and it‘s OK if you‘re a Republican. If you‘re not a Republican, though, if you are, say, a Democrat like Congressman Anthony Weiner—well, I‘m sorry, you have to go.
As David Vitter has undoubtedly pondered his luck throughout this Weiner scandal, Republicans have not only refused to hold Republicans accountable for the double standard, but they have joined—Democrats have joined with Republicans piling on with the demands that Anthony Weiner had to resign, even as David Vitter stays in the Senate, even as no national Republicans ever called for John Ensign to resign either.
Today, all of that piling on by the Democrats in particular, produced its perhaps inevitable results, and Anthony Weiner resigned. Our offices, you may know, are at 30 Rock here in New York City. And when we are at our offices here at 30 Rock, covering news events as they unfold across the country, or across the world, the way that works here technologically is that we see tape, we see footage as it‘s being fed in. That‘s what they call it. It‘s essentially just a fancy kind of uploading that uses satellites.
Sometimes, stuff gets fed in live. Sometimes tape gets fed in after the fact, after the event.
But what we see here at 30 Rock, in our system, in the control room or in our computer systems when we are awaiting for a feed, what we see always starts like this—these little color bars. This tells you that a feed is about to come in from a news event somewhere. This one is a generic one, NBC News Ch. It‘s NBC News Channel, which is where all of the NBC affiliates send their video. And that is what it says above that, Charlotte, North Carolina—that‘s located in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Here is a feed that we got in today out of Indiana. WTHR 13, which you see right there, that‘s one of our NBC affiliates in Indiana. This was a feed that we were getting in today from Georgia, a video of some wildfires that broke out there today. WTLV and WJXX, which you see there again, NBC affiliates who are covering that area in Georgia.
And this is sort of standard. This is how the color bars look. This is the way they are usually labeled.
When it came time for the Anthony Weiner is going to resign press conference feed today, here‘s what the color bars looked like. HA! H-A.
We thought at first, perhaps, this is some sort of internal NBC prank. No. The satellite truck that was covering the Anthony Weiner press conference today is an H.D., high definition, truck, that‘s the H, and it was truck A. Hence, H-A, HA—which broke everybody up when we saw it, because everybody has got this up in their computer screen. We are all waiting for the feed to start coming in, and this is what everybody is staring at.
And it is sort of the perfect, inadvertent commentary from within the machine about what just ended this congressman‘s career.
It is not some foregone conclusion that bad behavior in office leads to the end of a congressional career.
David Vitter and his hooker scandal, as we noted, David Vitter is still there getting caught up now in other lesser, friendlier controversies.
His former colleague John Ensign lasted for years after his sleeping with his staffer/cover-up/illegal lobbying/payoff thing was exposed.
Democratic Congressman Charlie Rangel of New York is still a member of the House even after he was found to have violated 13 separate House rules related to taxes and gifts.
Democratic Congressman William Jefferson of Louisiana, the “$90,000 hidden in his freezer” guy, he stayed in office until his constituents made the decision. They eventually voted him out.
John McCain won his party‘s nomination for president of the United States years after McCain was caught up in the savings and loan Keating Five scandal—an episode Mr. McCain called the worst mistake of his life, but not one, of course, that caused him to resign.
Republican Senator Larry Craig, he also stayed in office after whole wide stance airport stall thing.
You know, even the current speaker of the House, John Boehner—he did not quit when he just straight up got caught in a smoking gun corruption scandal handing out checks from tobacco companies on the floor of the House to members of Congress, while a vote was being taken in the House on tobacco industry subsidies. Wow!
Congressman Boehner was caught physically handing out those checks in that way, and he apologized for it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JOHN BOEHNER ®, OHIO: It was a big mistake. And I regret it.
I shouldn‘t have done it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: John Boehner apologized for that bad behavior. He did not resign. He waited it out, went on to become speaker of the House. Here he is yesterday on the South Lawn, at the White House enjoying tobacco companies in a whole different way.
In some of these cases, members of Congress caught up in scandal, caught up in illegal behavior or just bad behavior. In some cases, they had their careers ended by their constituents when they stood for re-election, like William Jefferson.
In some of these cases, they never left Congress at all. They are still there. More or less bruised by the scandal, sure, humbled for a minute, but they stay. They apologized, and life went on.
Anthony Weiner, though, who is not accused of corruption, who does not appear to have done anything illegal, who does not appear to have even had sex with any of the people with whom he had scandalous talk and picture taking, for him, a line was drawn. His behavior was intolerable.
None of those other scandals were intolerable behavior. But Anthony Weiner‘s behavior was intolerable. He had to go.
And in the end, the fact that he had to go, had much less to do with Anthony Weiner‘s behavior and the badness of his behavior in the scheme of things, had less to do with that than it did with the media‘s reaction to his bad behavior.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
REPORTER: Congressman, your wife is not here. Are you going to split up with your wife because of this?
REP. ANTHONY WEINER (D), NEW YORK: My—I love my wife very much.
REPORTER: Are you going to split up?
REPORTER: Where is she? Where is she? Sir, where is she?
REPORTER: You said you were on the phone. Did you have phone sex with these women?
WEINER: I apologize first and foremost to my wife and to my family.
REPORTER: Where is she right now? Where is she right now?
WEINER: She is not here.
REPORTER: Where is she?
These were young girls, very young -- 21 years old. Does that bother you that --
WEINER: I don‘t know the exact ages of the women. And they --
REPORTER: Young enough to be your children.
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
MADDOW: When Anthony Weiner initially copped to the online behavior that he previously denied and he apologized for lying about it, that press conference was frankly a circus from the screaming question about his wife, and girls who hypothetically could be as young as his nonexistent children, to the hijacking of the podium before he spoke by a right-wing blogger, to a man from the Howard Stern show screaming out profane interruptions throughout the whole thing.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Will you help to support Arnold‘s love child?
Were you fully erect? Were you fully or are you capable of more?
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
MADDOW: Anthony Weiner‘s press conference today, where he actually announced his resignation, was hijacked by the same sort of nonsense interjections, nonsense interjections that were in equal parts patently offensive and grossly appropriate profane satire of what this whole thing has become.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
WEINER: Today, I‘m announcing my resignation from Congress.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yay! Bye-bye, pervert!
WEINER: So my colleagues can get back to work. My neighbors can choose a new representative. And most importantly, that my wife and—
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Senator Weiner! The people must now! Are you fully erect? The people demand to know!
WEINER: -- I can continue to heal from the damage I have caused.
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
MADDOW: This was not a congressman having to resign because of his bad behavior. This was a congressman having to resign because of the media treatment of his bad behavior.
When that same Howard Stern show side kick guy started screaming pornographic jokes essentially at Anthony Weiner today, and then the TV cameras cut right to him, and then he ended up getting interviewed after the press conference as a source of information about what was happening with this congressman‘s career—that was not a departure from the story. That was the story. That was the perfect culmination of the story—the snake circling around and starting to eat its own tail.
This is the media covering the media, ending a man‘s career. The media‘s own coverage in both its volume and its character creating the circumstances that forced his resignation, which, of course, they all gathered to cover. Anthony Weiner‘s behavior online was gross. His lying about it was gross, too.
And Anthony Weiner‘s resignation carves in stone the partisan double standard about whether immoral behavior ends careers, whether illegal behavior ends careers. Despite which party it is that makes personal sexual morality its political platform, Anthony Weiner‘s resignation also frankly feeds the beast.
If the key to ending somebody‘s career is not the severity of their bad behavior, but rather how much press coverage you can generate about any level of bad behavior, then congratulations, Democrats. In an era of unhinged, ideological, big money conservative media that is wholly and admitted divorced from the precepts of journalism, in hounding Anthony Weiner into resigning because of the distraction of all of this coverage, and hounding Anthony Weiner into resigning, you have just fed and unleashed this beast against yourself, probably for a generation.
Joining us now is Cenk Uygur, host of MSNBC‘s 6:00 p.m. “LIVE” show and, of course, of the “Young Turks.”
Cenk, thanks very much for being here.
CENK UYGUR, MSNBC HOST: Thanks for having me, Rachel.
MADDOW: Cenk, I wanted to talk to you about, because you have been one of the few people in our business really aggressively advocating that Anthony Weiner should not resign. What do you think he should not have resigned? And how do you feel now that he has?
UYGUR: All right. Let me address it in two different ways.
First of all, it‘s a scandal about his private life which I don‘t give a damn about. JFK had endless mistresses. FDR had mistresses. Who cares? Did that affect the New Deal? Did that affect the Cuban missile crisis?
This has nothing to do with substance. He did nothing illegal.
And the second reason is more important. This is what Republicans do.
They come after the strongest people in your party. And if you back down -
and that is what Democrats do—they will keep coming and they will keep coming.
Right before I came on here, Rachel, I thought I had written about this before. I went and checked. Back in 2005, one of the first blogs I ever wrote, it‘s called “Seven Step Plan for media Domination and Opponent Destruction.” And it explained what Republicans do.
And step one was attack the strongest Democrat. At the time, it was Howard Dean. Now, we see Anthony Weiner, one of the strongest progressives attacked.
And then step six is something I was amazed that I wrote this six years ago. Quote, “Get your opponents to take down their own people for fear that they will keep getting asked the same annoying, senseless questions from you and your proxies in the media. And the reason they will give is the one you conveniently planted.”
The target has become a distraction. Look at that unfold. It‘s unfolded over and over. And at the time they had done it to Howard Dean. You know why? Because he said that Tom DeLay might—maybe should go to jail.
You know what happened? Tom DeLay got convicted many years later.
Howard Dean was absolutely right.
But at the time, they turned up the outrage machine. How can the head of the DNC say something like this? And what happened?
I got quotes from Biden, from Bob Strauss, who used to be the head of the DNC, and John Edwards saying, oh, we can‘t have a Democrat doing things like this. It‘s a distraction.
On that distraction issue, Nancy Pelosi today held her usual weekly press conference, right? All of the networks including ours cut away—we‘re taking it live, and they cut away from it when she said instead of talking about Anthony Weiner, she would be talking about jobs.
That was it. That was the end of the coverage today.
Do you think they are going to take her next press conference on jobs live now that Anthony Weiner had resigned, because now the distraction will be over?
UYGUR: The answer to that question is hell no, they‘re not. OK?
And look, I get it, right? Because it‘s titillating—oh, it‘s funny. And it‘s actually what I call the snicker rule.
You‘re in a lot of trouble in this country if you‘re a politician and what you got caught doing, whether it‘s pictures—and look at the pictures. Chris Lee, Anthony Weiner. Shirtless pictures, gone, right? Mark Foley, funny text, Weiner, funny text—gone, right?
If it makes the media snicker, they are going to cover it. Did you see those mikes that they had for Weiner? One of the mikes was Extra. When Extra and things like Access Hollywood show up at your press conference, you‘re done for.
The problem with Vitter, it was just phone records. Phone records aren‘t titillating. They don‘t make you snicker. That‘s why he‘s still a senator.
MADDOW: We get John Ensign, though. We get the special council report on John Ensign.
The special council report on John Ensign, I felt like I had to wash my hands after reading it, not because the special council has done anything wrong, but because the details in it were the sexual equivalent of gory, in terms of what he had done, the level of detail they had on the behavior, that got him chased out of the Senate. He resigned just a few inches ahead of the pitch forks that were chasing him out of there.
And the John Ensign scandal, it sort of made side bar stories for 24 hours and then it‘s gone. I mean, I get that the picture thing makes a difference, that it is a visual medium. But I believe there is a partisan agenda pushing different sex scandals more than others.
UYGUR: You know, I had Pat Buchanan on the show today at 6:00. And he said, you know who I defended? Richard Nixon. Why? Because he was my guy—and he laughed at us. He laughed at progressives saying, you guys never defend your guys.
And it makes it so much easier. Republicans always circle the wagons. And you know what they do? Which is very important and, again, what I wrote about six years ago—they use the media. They say, how dare you not cover this terrible scandal about Anthony Weiner?
Later, Boehner would say what a distraction, right? How disingenuous.
But when it comes to Republicans, they say, you know what? This is so salacious, how dare you cover this? You know, I am ashamed of you in the media.
And the media goes along with it every time.
MADDOW: Cenk Uygur, host of MSNBC‘s 6:00 “LIVE” and, of course, of “Young Turks”—Cenk, I have been wanting to talk to you about this for a while. Thanks for your time tonight, man.
UYGUR: Thank you, Rachel.
MADDOW: Yesterday we reported some intense news given the reaction in particular from our viewers to this story as we have been covering it over time. We recorded some intense news yesterday that the Catherine Ferguson Academy, which is a public school for pregnant girls and young mothers in Detroit, the Catherine Ferguson Academy was closing down today.
Today, I have much, much, much better news about that same subject—a little jolt of joy coming up next.
MADDOW: All spring, we have been following the story of Catherine Ferguson Academy, a public school in Detroit for girls who get pregnant while they are in school or have kids of their own while they themselves are still school aged. Catherine Ferguson Academy is a school specifically for girls in that circumstance.
For a group that is generally almost expected to drop out of school, this particular school expects that they will not drop out, that they will graduate, that they will go to college.
Detroit public school says that 90 percent of Catherine Ferguson‘s students graduate. And for the past nine years, every single graduate of Catherine Ferguson Academy has been accepted to college, every single one.
Despite its successes, Catherine Ferguson Academy has been on the verge of being shut down on the orders of a state appointed emergency manager in Michigan.
We have been covering the story for a few months now, even at times when local media was not covering it. No blame on them for that. Detroit obviously has a lot on its plate.
But when the Detroit media has covered this story, it should be noted that the story about Catherine Ferguson Academy, the work of local Detroit media has been often just extraordinary.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When I first found out I was pregnant, I was 14.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I did not believe it. I was just—I was in so much denial. My family didn‘t even find out until I was like six, seven months. I was just scared.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I was really thinking, what am I going to do?
What should I do?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Initially, we were just a short term program, you need to go back to regular school six weeks after you had your baby. And girls were coming back saying, I can‘t find child care and I don‘t know what I‘m doing. And my mother is at work and nobody to take care of the baby.
So, we started letting those kids stay a little longer.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So, like I‘m truly grateful for the support that I have at this school. To help me, you know, try to better myself for me and my son, because I don‘t feel like I‘m getting that nowhere else.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Now, like, yes, you know, I‘m going to go outside and milk the goats. It‘s natural. It was nice to have that exposure. And in time, I exposed my child to it.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We have beaten the odds. Every kid who walks across the stage beats the odds. Ninety percent of girls who drop out of school do so as a result of pregnancy or parenting. So if you walk across the stage, have you beaten the odds tremendously.
MADDOW: That video I think was excellent. It was produced by the Detroit Free Press.
All week, we have been expecting today to be the Catherine Ferguson Academy‘s last day ever. That was what the emergency manager had ordered. The principal, Asenath Andrews, had been told to say goodbye to the students today, to hand in her keys to the school tomorrow, on Friday.
There was to be a protest at noon today at the school. The actor Danny Glover was expected to be there, as well as lots of other people.
Principal Andrews went to bed last night thinking this was it, her school was done. But early this morning, her phone rang. The emergency manager wanted to see her for a meeting at 10:45 a.m. Then another call, meeting changed to 10:00. No, another call, please get down to the emergency manager‘s office right away.
Ms. Andrews said she walked in to find them finishing up a deal to keep the Catherine Ferguson Academy opened. They asked if she minded, and she said no.
Just under an hour before the protest was to begin, Detroit‘s public schools made the announcement. DPS announces new operator for Catherine Ferguson Academy. The emergency manager telling the world, quote, “We are pleased to announce that we have found a solution.”
Principal Andrews gets to stay. Teachers get to stay if they want to. The students get stay. The farm and its animals that are at the school all staying.
Catherine Ferguson Academy is still a school for girls who have kids. And, yes, they celebrated today at Catherine Ferguson, the planned noon protest turning into kind of a party.
Catherine Ferguson will still exist, at least for now. It will be run as a charter school. And that‘s the important fine print here. Charter schools sometimes work, they sometimes don‘t. Sometimes, they give teachers more freedom and better pay. Sometimes they pay less and do less.
Teachers with Detroit public schools are union. Teachers with the new company that will be running Catherine Ferguson Academy will not be union.
The fate of the Catherine Ferguson Academy is in this private company‘s hands now. But this time yesterday, this school was due not to exist. As of today, Catherine Ferguson Academy has a tomorrow.
Joining us now is Asenath Andrews, the only principal that Catherine Ferguson Academy has ever known.
Ms. Andrews, thank you for interrupting what I imagine is your celebration to be with us tonight.
ASENATH ANDREWS, PRINCIPAL, CATHERINE FERGUSON ACADEMY: I just can breathe. Thank you for having us.
MADDOW: Let me just personally say, congratulations. I feel like I am very invested in you as a principal because of all I have learned about this school.
Am I right that you had no idea this was coming at all?
ANDREWS: Not at all.
You know, everybody has had some scheme or some way they said they were going to save us. And I had gotten really excited and then I gotten deflated. And so I just—I couldn‘t—I couldn‘t imagine that they would wait so long.
So, I—my office is packed. Well, sort of packed. And I just thought I‘d be gone, and my girls would be just thrown to wind. So, we are excited. We‘re excited.
MADDOW: When you were heading to the protest about the school closing, I understand this decision was really made within something like an hour of when that protest was due to start. Instead, when you‘re headed to that protest, you know that the school is going to be kept open.
Did you in fact have to break the news to people in part when you got there?
ANDREWS: Yes. I was so surprised. The media beat me there. But everybody thought the media was there for the rally.
And so, I asked the assistant principal to pull all of the staff into the library as well as Aretha Marshall, who was the person who asked me to start Catherine Ferguson Academy. And when I told them, they just jumped up and applauded and everybody was just so relieved. You know, it was—it went from just absolutely desolation, depression, anxiety, crazy to celebration. It was just—it was incredible. It was incredible.
MADDOW: Ma‘am, how do you think the new—I guess it‘s really ownership is the right term, is going to affect what happens at Catherine Ferguson? This won‘t be a Detroit public school anymore in the way that it was anymore. It will be run by a charter school.
ANDREWS: You know, I have done a crash kind of personal crash course in charters in the last 40 days.
I think that we‘ll do better. We‘ll have more resources. We‘ve had a lot of people who have wanted to be a part of what we‘re doing, and who have said that they want to contribute to the school, contribute to our early education program, provide some other kinds of programming for our infants and toddlers, our pre-K.
So—and the group that we are being chartered by is the same—they‘re the same people that we went to South Africa with last year.
So, I—they get it. They don‘t think in small little boxes. They really want kids to experiment and discover and do a lot of things.
So, I think we‘ll be better off. I‘d be really surprised if I‘m calling you in a week saying—or in a year going, help me. But I don‘t think so. I think we‘re going to do—I think this is a step up for my girls and the school.
MADDOW: The staff that you have now is union staff. They are in the teachers union. Under the new owners, they will not be union anymore.
Do you think that will affect your ability to keep your staff?
ANDREWS: I think for some people, this will just not be a good time for them to resign or pull their membership from Detroit public schools. And so, those people we will lose.
But I think that it is so—this mission is so important that we‘ll get people who want to be there, who recognize that it takes more than just teaching content. It is—you must be responsible for a relationship with your girls.
And I‘ll miss some of the people that we may lose. I‘m praying that some of the people that are just so, so very effective will be able to stay with us. But right now, I just need a day to kind of be happy. And hope that things go well.
I cannot tell you how many people there are to thank, first of all. There are just hundreds and hundreds of people to thank. But I—it is the idea of not saying goodbye to all my girls, and not closing down and not trying to barbecue those goats. It just, you know, is a happy thought, happy thought.
MADDOW: Asenath Andrews, principal of Catherine Ferguson Academy in Detroit and it‘s 249 students—thank you again for making time for us on this night when I bet you just want to be basking. And I do hope that we stay in touch, ma‘am.
ANDREWS: I hope so. Come visit us.
MADDOW: I will. I absolutely will. That‘s a promise.
ANDREWS: All right. We have honey. We have apples. We have all kinds of stuff. You‘ll get a gift basket.
MADDOW: OK. Do not barbecue the goats until I get there.
ANDREWS: There you go.
MADDOW: All right. Utah Republican Jon Huntsman was once in a rock band called Wizard. According to a band mate that, is Mr. Huntsman with his fellow Wizards on the top right. He is the one rocking the vest. Oh, yes.
Jon Huntsman also now running for the president of the United States -
and the Wizard Band and Wizard Band photo and the vest do not seem to be weirdnesses to be avoided by this campaign. The Jon Huntsman campaign rather seems to be embracing the weird, which is awesome news in so many ways. More details on that ahead.
MADDOW: I‘m so glad I‘m getting another chance to do this. I‘m so glad that the news gods have given me another reason to do this. Are you ready?
MADDOW: This ringtone is Newt Gingrich‘s ringtone. It‘s “Dancing Queen” by ABBA. Duh!
This ringtone is once again relevant tonight. Newt Gingrich as a
presidential candidate is becoming less and less relevant, but his ringtone
MADDOW: -- lives on in the news.
All right. That‘s enough. That story is next.
MADDOW: Just a little more.
MADDOW: Yesterday, Jon Huntsman‘s soon-to-be campaign for president launched something great. Great because I think it means that Jon Huntsman‘s presidential campaign this year is going to be a little weird.
They said yesterday that Mr. Huntsman would announce his campaign on Tuesday. And then they put out this video of a person on a dirt bike. It says in six days on the left side there. On the right side, “did not become famous with his band Wizard.” And that‘s it. Paid for by Jon Huntsman.
Jon Huntsman hired the “I am not a witch” ad guy. And his campaign is, if judging by their first video, anything to go by, his campaign is going to be also super weird, which is kind of awesome news.
So, today, I wanted to see if there was a second installment in the “I am not a Wizard” ad series. And I went to go look for it. I went to JonHuntsman.com.
It turns out this, this is JonHuntsman.com. A Web site covered in hearts, showing a handwritten original version and a typed version of a gushy, you‘re an awesome president letter, that Jon Huntsman once wrote to President Obama. Making nice with President Obama—obviously a sensitive subject for a man who wants to run against Mr. Obama, but whose most recent job was being the Obama administration‘s ambassador to China.
Republican primary voters motivated by animus against Mr. Obama are probably a little suspicious of that.
So, for this “I heart you Obama pretty pink hearts” thing to be what‘s at JonHuntsman.com—that is not good for Mr. Huntsman.
JonHuntsman2012.com is not really any better. It‘s just one of those, “Hey, pay me if you want this Web site” things.
Same deal with Huntsman2012.com. It just takes you to nowhere-ville, please buy this site.
Finally, after poking around at this for a while, granted I was doing
I was eating a sandwich at the time and not paying very much attention.
But finally, I put down the sandwich and focused and realized that you have to type in JonHuntsmanjr.com, as in junior. Don‘t type in Jon Huntsman Junior. That‘s a whole different thing. JonHuntsmanjr.com in order to get to his campaign ads, in order to get to the wacky I am not a witch, wizard on a dirt bike video.
There‘s no new installment as far as I can tell. But I am worried by hard it was for me to figure this out today. That Jon Huntsman‘s campaign which I now have an investment in because I‘m hoping it‘s going to be the weird one and therefore very fun to cover, I am worried that Jon Huntsman‘s campaign does not have Internet savvy, since they have left all of their likely URLs dangling all over the place.
Newt Gingrich‘s campaign has had some of the same trouble this year. You may remember Mr. Gingrich launching NewtExplore2012.com, which everybody understandably remembered rather as ExploreNewt2012.com. And because Mr. Gingrich does not have the Internet savvy, either, even though he likes to say he does, he did not buy ExploreNewt2012.com when he announced his Web site, and instead somebody else bought it, and they put up this video of marbled newts eating bugs very slowly.
Then during this whole Tiffany‘s revolving charge account scandal, ExploreNewt2012 started redirecting to this Tiffany‘s jewelry page.
Now, Mr. Gingrich still does not own ExploreNewt2012.com, and if you go there now, this is what happens.
MADDOW: All right, all right. You remember when Newt Gingrich had his phone go off at that speech in New Hampshire and it was the ABBA song, “Dancing Queen,” right? Now, it‘s my ringtone, too. Well, now, Explore Newt 2012 has a better ABBA song, “Gimme! Gimme! Gimme!”
And, of course, the implication here I think is that “Gimme! Gimmie! Gimme!” is an appropriate sound track since Mr. Gingrich‘s campaign is falling apart because his staffers say they couldn‘t get him to stop his “I‘m running for president” money-making scams long enough for him to actually seriously run for president.
And it turns out he‘s not the only candidate that has a “gimme, gimme, gimme” problem right now. More ahead on that.
MADDOW: Spare a thought for Tim Pawlenty. The former governor of Minnesota is running for the Republican presidential nomination. But as much as he would like to be president, it does not seem that very many voters or at least poll respondents want him to be president. The Tim Pawlenty fan club is mired in single digit territory, consistently.
Look at the four most recent national polls: 6 percent, 4 percent, 9 percent—oh, so close to a double digit, oh, and then another 6 percent.
Herman Cain, the former pizza CEO guy, he has better poll numbers than that.
After a—what‘s the opposite of breakthrough performance at this week‘s debate? Things are not only going bad for Mr. Pawlenty right now, they do not look like they are getting any better.
But wait—silver lining. One way that things are not really going badly for Tim Pawlenty right now, this is a home page of Leading Authorities, a company that represents people who give speeches for money. And there, front and center, Tim Pawlenty announces presidential bid.
Tim Pawlenty is one of their speaking talents.
So, what does running for president translate to? Why promote that your client is running for president? It translates, of course, to higher speaking fees.
While running for president, Tim Pawlenty is giving speeches for money. Not stump speeches but paid speeches—which means income for his speaking agency and income for him. Mr. Pawlenty delivered one such paid speech today in San Francisco, to the lobbying group that represents health insurance companies.
So running for president, even if it only gets you 3 percent in New Hampshire after you have been running this emphatically for this long, it can still have a benefit—a cash money benefit.
Likewise, Minnesota Republican Congresswoman Michele Bachmann having announced his candidacy mere days ago reportedly has now sealed up a book deal, again making sure she can monetize any notoriety she gets from this presidential campaign.
Michigan Republican Congressman Thaddeus McCotter—remember this guy? Thaddeus McCotter, the Congress‘ would-be guitar hero, not a very famous guy, he has reportedly mulling a White House bid. Thaddeus McCotter‘s mulling also handily coincides with the promotion of his book released this year.
So, to the extent to which Thaddeus McCotter can convince anyone he is important enough to credibly run for president can be directly monetized now by “Seize Freedom!” book sales.
The question is: Is this the new normal? Is this now an accepted part of politics now that running is a racket now? That people run not to win necessarily, people run to make money on the concept of winning. People run to make money based on the conceit that they are running, that they could conceivably have a chance, even when really they have no chance. Is that normal?
Or do people still think that‘s disgusting?
Because for Newt Gingrich, I think some people may still think that‘s disgusting. And by people in this case—I mean Newt Gingrich‘s staff, who quit en masse last week. According to them, the people who once liked and supported Newt Gingrich enough that they wanted him to be leader of the free world, according to Gingrich staffers, Gingrich prioritized the things that brought in money for Mr. and Ms. Gingrich, not the Gingrich for president campaign.
One senior staffer sent an email saying, quote, “We didn‘t sign up to be hucksters for products for sale.” Those products include Newt‘s dozens of books and many DVDs—many, many DVDs. Gingrich Productions.
As recently as 2008, candidates who might have been seen to be taking the same ka-ching approach to running for president were sometimes at least not as blatant about it. Rudy Giuliani, for example, stopped giving speeches for money when he was running for the nomination that year. Of course, after he dropped out, he returned to his high-paying gig as consulting company and he is now a regular commentator on FOX News.
But at least in stopping doing it during the campaign, he made a show of some deference toward the idea of running to run. Not just running to up your fees.
Also different subject: Why is Tim Pawlenty still being taken seriously when his numbers look like this?
Joining us now is Chris Hayes, Washington editor of “The Nation” magazine and an MSNBC contributor.
Chris, it is good to see you. Thanks for being here.
CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Great to see you, too, Rachel.
MADDOW: The Tim Pawlenty question, a bit of non sequitur, I recognize. But is it just like it‘s so early he could eventually get above 3 percent? Is that why he is still being taken seriously?
HAYES: You know, I think he seemed plausible. Like if you were to say, OK, let‘s cook up a plausible presidential candidate in a lab, having a governor, right, because governors tend to produce good presidential candidates, and a governor who was able to win and be relatively popular in a blue state. OK. That sounds like someone who maybe could be president.
I think because Tim Pawlenty had that profile, he was given a certain amount of deference. And there was a period where he was a real kind of comer. He‘s a real rising star.
I think that the press is kind of catching up to the Republican primary voters in this respect, which is that they‘re not that enthusiastic about Tim Pawlenty, and I think that there‘s like a kind of lagging indicator.
But I don‘t think we‘re seeing like a ton of like Paw-mentum happening in beltway outlets recently.
MADDOW: Do you think it matters that he is still giving speeches for money? He got paid by the health insurance industry to give this speech today. Is that important?
HAYES: Yes. I think it matters tremendously. And I actually think there‘s like a few different ways not to get all like Randy Cohen ethicist on it.
But there are a few different ways I think in which to think about this confluence of money and running for president. I think the most kind of devastating charge, right? Is that the outside income that you are getting creates an improper dependence. It is—it is an opening for some sort of systematic corruption.
And I think in the case in which you are getting a mass—a large check. We don‘t know the amount, the dollar amount, but I‘m sure it‘s quite large—from the health insurers. Even though the FEC has basically said candidates can do that, it doesn‘t violate campaign finance law, it seems clearly to violate the spirit of the fact that you do not want to create conditions under which people who might be president of the United States, owe, you know, a large part of their personal income to some interest that has a huge vested interest in their decisions.
So, I think it‘s incredibly problematic. And I‘m sort of surprised it‘s not a bigger scandal.
MADDOW: Well, on the other side of this, though there is—I‘m thinking about Mitt Romney having told voters in jest in New Hampshire today that he could really feel their pain because he was unemployed, too.
MADDOW: He‘s like this multi-zillionaire investment candidate.
HAYES: Poor guy.
MADDOW: Is there a risk you create a situation in which it takes someone a couple years to run for president and unless they‘re independently wealthy, you need to afford them a way to make money otherwise you on the have rich guy candidates?
HAYES: You know, this is actually a filtering device for who gets into public life in America that I don‘t think we think enough about. It came know when I had a friend running for Congress. He said, look, there‘s two options, you can quit your job, right? But then you have to pay yourself through the campaign and then it looks kind of shady because you‘re cutting yourself a check through the money you‘re raising. Or you can keep some sort of job but that job is going to create all sorts of conflicts.
So, the best option is just to be independently wealthy so that you can spend a certain amount of time just on the phone raising money and going around talking to voters. And if you look at the percentage of people, particularly serving in Congress, who are millionaires who have these vast stores of wealth, you see a larger and larger percentage of them are in fact extremely wealthy people.
And that is part of what we are doing right now in the current system we have. It filters for people that have a lot of personal wealth at their disposal. And I think that creates a real problem with democratic representation. Are we only going to get this class of politicians who are multimillionaires?
MADDOW: One of the reasons why public financing of the elections, including structuring livable systems like that would make our country less corrupt.
Chris Hayes, Washington editor of “The Nation” magazine, MSNBC contributor, and person wearing a very particularly lovely purplish-blue shirt this evening, that‘s a good one, Chris.
HAYES: That‘s very kind of you. Thank you, Rachel.
MADDOW: Thank you, my friend.
HAYES: Have a good night.
MADDOW: All right. Get ready. It is the return of “Moment of Geek.” Put on your conspiracy hats for this one. We have Watergate, Nixon, 18 ½ minutes of erased tape, and the handwritten notes that could blow this whole thing wide open.
The truth is out there. This is a really good one. Next.
VOICE: Very interesting.
MADDOW: What did President Richard Nixon and his chief of staff say to each other in the Oval Office in June 1972, just three days after the Watergate break-in? We know most of what they said because in the investigation of the Watergate scandal, the tapes from the Oval Office recording system were made public. Most of them were.
In the recordings that were made public, there was an 18 ½-minute gap. The president‘s secretary, Rose Mary Woods, claimed she accidentally erased those 18 ½ minutes one day when she just happened to hit the foot pedal on the tape recorder while stretching out to reach for her phone for 18 ½ minutes.
Yes, I don‘t buy that one either.
So far, nobody has been able to recover the sound from that gap, that 18 ½-minute gap in those erased tapes.
But back in November 2009, the National Archives got a tip from an amateur historian that there were also some pages missing, some pages missing from the careful, detailed notes that the chief of staff, Bob Haldeman, had taken during that meeting with Nixon—notes written in ballpoint pen on a pad of yellow lined paper.
The pad overall was saved in the National Archives. It‘s now known as “Government Exhibit 61.” Notes that nobody realized might be incomplete until an intelligence veteran and amateur Watergate historian named Phil Mellinger realized that not every page was there on that pad of paper and there might be a way, he said, to use the pages that were still there on that pad to figure out what had been written on the pages that were torn out.
Great mystery, right? Great.
In an early “Moment of Geek” on this show in November 2009, we had Phil Mellinger, that historian guy, we had him on the show, to talk about how one might go about figuring out what was written on those pages, those crucial pages before they were torn out of that yellow legal pad.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PHIL MELLINGER, HISTORIAN: Like when you were a kid maybe, you might have taken a pad that somebody had written on and traced it over with a lead pencil and you could see the writing come back up. This is a more scientific, a more technical way to do the same thing so that you actually see the impressions from the writing that somebody made on the page that is now missing.
MADDOW: Phil Mellinger—I‘m sorry. Go ahead.
MELLINGER: So, these two pages, the second page, my belief was when I looked at it I had the end of the Watergate meeting, but I thought was that there were impressions from the previous two, three pages of notes, and that we could actually go back and recover the notes that I think were missing that were taken during the 17 ½ minutes or so.
MADDOW: Oh, this is so cool.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Once the missing pages were noticed, the National Archives gathered a forensic document examination team to find the secrets hidden in government exhibit 61. They teamed up with the library of Congress, the Treasury Department, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. The new stuff like hyper-spectral imaging, photographing the notes in different spectra of light. They did electrostatic detection analysis, vacuum sealing the pages in plastic, applying an electrostatic charge to the plastic and then pouring what looks like copier toner onto the plastic to see if any of the hidden words might appear.
It all started in November of ‘09 when we did our “Moment of Geek” segment, right?
Now, more than a year and a half later, those tests are complete, the National Archives have released the results of their investigation. After more than a year and a half, what does it reveal?
Here‘s the big announcement.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DAVID PAYNTER, NATIONAL ARCHIVES: We were unable to recover any additional information regarding the content of the meeting between Mr. Nixon and Mr. Haldeman.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: So, that‘s it.
Government exhibit 61, you teased up.
Now, it is time for “THE ED SHOW.” Have a good night.
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