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The Ed Show for Thursday, January 17th, 2013

Read the transcript to the Thursday show

January 17, 2013

Guests: Marjorie Margolies-Mezvinsky, Tom Scocca, Howard Fineman, Jonathan Alter

ED SCHULTZ, HOST: Good evening, Americans. And welcome to THE ED
SHOW from New York.

A dangerous side to the gun debate rears its ugly head. And the hoax
at Notre Dame that has America talking.

This is THE ED SHOW -- let`s get to work.


SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R), FLORIDA: Do you think the president just
doesn`t have the guts to admit it. He`s not a believer in the Second

SEN. RAND PAUL (R), KENTUCKY: FDR had a bit of this king complex

SCHULTZ (voice-over): The Republican resistance to the president is
exploding. Tyranny. Hitler. Stalin.

And this --

child abuse.

SCHULTZ: The righties are off the rails. I`ll break down the rabid
reaction to the president with Eugene Robinson and Karen Finney.

country have been silent too long. Those 20 beautiful children who lost
their lives in Newtown are no longer able to speak for themselves.

SCHULTZ: Plus, the vice president kicks off the gun safety campaign.
But will the Senate Democrats have the guts to take the votes?

Tonight, I`ll remind Congress what courage looks like.

And there is either a major hoax, major lies, or both going on at
Notre Dame.

MANTI TE`O, NOTRE DAME LINEBACKER: I cry. I yell. I never felt that
way before. Last thing she said to me was "I love you."

SCHULTZ: Tonight, the latest on the Manti Te`o story with the people
who broke the story at Deadspin.

And Howard Fineman on how the rest of the sports world blew the story.


SCHULTZ: Good to have you with us tonight, folks. Thanks for

We knew it was coming. The conservative reaction to President Obama`s
common sense gun measures was far too predictable.


SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS: Today marked one of the most brazen attempts
ever by an American president to unilaterally implement new laws without
the consent of the legislative branch.

RUBIO: I actually think the president, he just doesn`t have the guts
to admit it, is not a believer in the Second Amendment.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There are certain things in his executive orders
that are un-American. In some ways, they`re even fascistic.


SCHULTZ: He`s a tyrant. He hates the Second Amendment. And he`s un-

Righties are up in arms over the executive action signed by the
president of the United States. The president`s biggest orders include the
nomination of an Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms director. He asks for a
study on gun violence prevention as well as reports on safety technologies
on stolen firearms.

Apparently, conservatives believe this is tyranny.

Today, Vice President Joe Biden detailed one of the major initiatives
of the president`s gun proposals.


BIDEN: How do we make our streets and schools safer? With regard to
our streets, I believe and the president believes that cops make a
difference. We`re going to push again for another $4 billion in grants for
the COPS program.


SCHULTZ: Four billion dollars for more cops on the streets and around
schools in America? This is what the gun lobby was demanding.

But the gun nuts -- well, they`re not so happy.

Texas Governor Rick Perry is trying to push himself into relevance
again. He said in a statement, "The Second Amendment of the Constitution
is a basic right of free people and cannot be nor will it be abridged by
the executive power of this or any other president." Kind of threatening,
isn`t it?

The national -- the Republican National Committee wrote, "President
Obama`s series of gun control measures amount to an executive power grab."

These statements did not mention a single action or proposal by the
president. They call these measures unconstitutional. But none of them
point to anything of any detail whatsoever.

Without the ability to attack specific proposals, conservatives
attacked the president personally instead. Four children attended the
president`s announcement yesterday. These concerned young people wrote
direct appeals to the president asking for changes to gun laws.


UNIDENTIFIED BOY: Dear President Obama, I think there should be some
changes in the law with guns.

UNIDENTIFIED BOY: I am very sad about the children who lost their
lives in Connecticut.

UNIDENTIFIED GIRL: I may not be that into politics, but my opinion is
it should be very hard for people to buy guns.

UNIDENTIFIED GIRL: I love my country, and I want everyone to be happy
and safe. No guns, no guns, no guns, no guns.

UNIDENTIFIED BOY: P.S., I know you`re doing your best.


SCHULTZ: Now, remember, Michele Malkin, she thinks that`s child
abuse. Some might call it education. Some might call it America.

Here`s how the Drudge Report rewarded the president of the United
States for allowing children to share their voices and opinions. A picture
of Stalin with a small child.

And if you had the bad sense to click onto the next page, oh, you were
treated to this charming picture of Adolf Hitler with a little girl.

On FOX News, the far right was just as unhinged.


MALKIN: I consider it a form of child abuse and political


SCHULTZ: So conservatives say the president is an un-American,
tyrannical child abuser. Is he really this bad? They must have a plan to
stop him.


HANNITY: After listening to the 23 executive actions the president
announced today, my next guest has decided to stand up to king Obama, and
in a "Hannity" exclusive, Senator Rand Paul is unveiling new legislation to
stop Obama`s assault on your Second Amendment rights.

PAUL: In this bill, we will nullify anything the president does that
smacks of legislation. And there are several of the executive orders that
appear as if he`s writing new law. That cannot happen.


SCHULTZ: No, it`s Rand Paul to the rescue. He has a bill to reverse
all of President Obama`s executive actions.

Talking Points Memo obtained Senator Paul`s proposal. There is no
mention of a single order in violation of the Constitution. Not one.

Maybe these righties just don`t know enough about the Constitution.
Perhaps there is someone who could help them out.

Let`s try former Bush Attorney General Michael Mukasey. He can help
righties confirm all of their worst theories about President Obama, don`t
you think?


HANNITY: It seems to be by definition an abuse of power, a power
grab, if you will. No?

politically, it is a power grab, yes.

HANNITY: Politically, is it then unconstitutional in some instances?

MUKASEY: I don`t think it`s unconstitutional in the sense that I
don`t think it`s something you that could get a court to find


SCHULTZ: Uh-oh. It`s not the answer Hannity was looking for. Maybe
he should try asking it in a different way.


HANNITY: So did you think that Obamacare was unconstitutional?


HANNITY: Did you agree with the majority opinion?

MUKASEY: The Supreme Court said it was unconstitutional --

HANNITY: I`m asking if you agree with that.


HANNITY: You did? So you agree with John Roberts?


HANNITY: You did. I`m surprised. Because I -- in that case -- so
through the use of the Commerce Clause, we can now mandate that people buy

MUKASEY: No, he didn`t say you could use the Commerce Clause. He
said you could not use the Commerce Clause.


MUKASEY: What he said was it was a tax.


HANNITY: Must have been a mix-up in the pre-notes of the pre-
interview. But let`s see a shot in freeze frame.

This is the face of a truly confused man. The elevator doesn`t go all
the way to the top here, folks. If only Sean Hannity would listen to his
boss, he might not be so confused.

Quote, "The constitutional right about guns is for self-defense and
hunting. Founders did not mean modern weapons of war."

Lining up the crazy is not a difficult task for the right wing these
days. But this rhetoric and hysteria I think is very dangerous. There is
no basis to call the president of the United States a tyrant or a dictator,
and no president ever deserves to be compared to Stalin or Hitler. But, of
course, it continues. It happened earlier this week.

Someone needs to be an adult in the room to tell them to cool it. You
know? This is America. But abusing the First Amendment really is not
good. There is a responsibility when you`re in front of a camera and you
have a microphone. And if this is the way they want to use it, what do you
think is going to happen?

Get your cell phones out. I want to know what you think. Tonight`s
question: will Republican leadership denounce this type of rhetoric?

Text A for yes, text B for no, to 622639. You can go to our blog at We`ll bring you the results later on in the show.

I`m joined tonight by Karen Finney, MSNBC political analyst and former
communications director for the DNC. And Eugene Robinson, MSNBC political
analyst and Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist and associate editor for "The
Washington Post."

Great to have both of you with us tonight.

Eugene, first with you. Do these people even understand what they
mean when they call the president a tyrant and a dictator?

don`t, Ed. This is an incredible freak-out.

Let`s have a little perspective here. First of all, there`s nothing
in the executive orders that they can name that smacks of legislation. In
fact, the executive orders are fairly mild.

And second, President Obama`s view of the Second Amendment is
precisely Antonin Scalia`s view of the Second Amendment. The president has
long believed it protects an individual right to keep and bear arms, but he
agrees with Scalia that you can restrict the ownership of, quote,
"dangerous and unusual weapons," like assault weapons.

So when they`re arguing with the president and calling him Stalin and
calling him Hitler, they are arguing with the most conservative justice on
the most conservative court we`ve had in 100 years.

SCHULTZ: Karen, where is the responsibility of Republicans? Do they
have an obligation to push back on this extreme rhetoric?

think about the cowardice. Here they are accusing the president of using
children as human shields. And yet I don`t -- I think maybe Chris Christie
is the only Republican we`ve heard actually come out and say how disgusting
it is that the NRA is using the president`s children in a web ad that does
two things -- list building and fund-raising.

I mean, if we`re going to talk about the use of children, I have not
heard a single one take responsibility for that. I think, overall, the
tone and the tenor of this conversation is going to be a big problem for
the Republicans because remember, we`ve got a number of battles coming up
where the Republicans are already on defense. When it comes to immigration
reform, we know the opportunity for their rhetoric to get out of control is
quite big.


FINNEY: On this, they`re not talking about gun safety, reducing, you
know, gun violence, and this kind of extreme rhetoric pulls them farther to
the right. And so, if the leadership of this party doesn`t get control,
they`re going to have to answer for the likes of Rush Limbaugh and some of
those other whack jobs.

SCHULTZ: You know, Eugene, you have a United States senator from
Kentucky who is making comments about the president. You wonder how
schooled he is on the Constitution. And you wonder why Republicans don`t
pull him off to lunch and say you know, what you`ve got to kind of correct
this a little bit.

I mean, their silence is deafening on this.

ROBINSON: Yes. I mean, he talks about it a lot. Rand Paul, Senator
Paul, has always talked about the Constitution a lot.

But clearly here, he`s not on thin ice. There`s no ice there at all.
There`s simply nothing there.

And he doesn`t mention one, single specific item in the president`s
list of executive actions -- they weren`t all executive orders as he claims
-- one single action that supposedly violates the Constitution. What is he
talking about?

FINNEY: You know, Ed, on the politics of this let`s be really --
let`s call this for what it is. Both Marco Rubio and Rand Paul are looking
at 2016. So they are speaking about the president with the same kind of
disrespectful rhetoric that we`ve been hearing from the Tea Party darlings
for quite some time.

So, clearly, part of their motivation is looking ahead for their own
political interest because there`s not a lot of substance here to back up
what they`re saying.

SCHULTZ: Why would a United States senator from Florida, Rubio,
question whether the president has guts? After what this president has
done and the tough calls that he has had to make? I can`t -- I think of
another word. Is it childish?

FINNEY: It is childish. Particularly -- I mean, what gutsy thing has
Marco Rubio done? Let`s see. He proposed some immigration reform ideas
that are pretty much like the president`s.

So I don`t think we`ve got an original idea out of him. I don`t think
we`ve gotten a bold idea out of him.

It doesn`t take a lot to go on FOX News and say that the president
doesn`t -- I mean, come on, right?

SCHULTZ: OK. The question to you, Eugene Robinson -- is this all

ROBINSON: Well, it is dangerous. It is dangerous when rhetoric heats
up to this level. It`s dangerous especially when you`re talking about
guns. And look, there`s an attempt to create the impression that Obama and
the mean Democrats want to take away your guns.

Very specifically, no one is talking about that. No one wants to do
that. And in fact, as I mentioned, the president`s view of the Second
Amendment is really quite conservative. So, he doesn`t want to take your
guns. He just wants to make this place safe so we don`t have Newtown
massacres every year.

SCHULTZ: Well, I don`t hear Democrats talking like this.


SCHULTZ: There`s no comparative vernacular that we can use that come
from the Democrats on this. It will be interesting to see if there are any
Republicans that might step forward and say, you know, let`s tone it down a
little bit. We all know what we want. We don`t have to say what has been
said so far.

Karen Finney and Eugene Robinson, great to have you on THE ED SHOW
tonight. Thank you so much.

Remember to answer tonight`s question there at the bottom of the
screen. Share your thoughts with us on Twitter @EdShow and on Facebook.
We always want to know what you think.

Coming up: a moment of truth for Democrats who were afraid to lose
their NRA class A rating. A former congresswoman will join me. And she
made a tough vote that ended her congressional career, but it was the right
thing to do.

Stay with us. We`ll have that story next.


SCHULTZ: A college football star`s emotional story turns out to be a
hoax? We`ll have the latest on Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te`o and the
mystery surrounding his online girlfriend, with Deadspin`s managing editor
Tom Scocca. And Howard Fineman of "The Huffington Post" will weigh in on
it tonight.

And another business owner comes out against Obamacare. Find out what
CEO of Whole Foods has to say about the Affordable Care Act later.

You can listen to my radio show on Sirius XM Radio channel 127, Monday
through Friday, noon to 3:00 p.m. Share your thoughts with us on Facebook
and on Twitter using #EdShow. We`re coming right back.


SCHULTZ: Welcome back to THE ED SHOW.

Gun control debate that is going on in this country is a leadership
moment for the president of the United States and for every single lawmaker
who has a vote.

Here is what Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid recently told a local
PBS station in Nevada. "Let`s be realistic," he said. "In the Senate,
we`re going to do what we think can get through the House, and I`m not
going to go through a bunch of gyrations just to say that we`ve done
something. If we`re really legislators, the purpose of it is to pass

Senator Reid did not show the same kind of hesitation with another
moral issue, relief for superstorm Sandy. The relief package was passed by
the Senate even though House Speaker John Boehner hadn`t brought it up for
a vote. In fact, the Senate passage helped to put pressure on the House.

Sandy relief passed in the House with a minority of Republican votes
and almost every Democrat. Speaker Boehner would not have brought the bill
to the floor if it hadn`t already been passed in the Senate.

There was similar pressure with the fiscal cliff deal. It passed in
the Senate first. Then Boehner was forced to bring it to the floor for a
vote in the House, even though only a minority of Republicans supported it.

Today, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid seemed to clarify his
position somewhat. In a statement he said, "I`m committed to ensuring the
Senate will consider legislation that addresses gun violence and other
aspects of violence in our society early this year. All options should be
on the table."

Well, that sounds a little bit better. But there should be no hedging
on this issue whatsoever, especially from Democrats. Because if they side
with the president of the United States think about what President Obama
has done for the progressive movement in this country in the Democratic
Party. How can you not stand with him on this?

How much more information do these lawmakers need? Have we not
covered it enough?

Other Democratic senators with high ratings from the National Rifle
Association have also refused to say if they support the president`s
package. Max Baucus of Montana, Senator Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota,
Senator Johnson of South Dakota, Senator Donnelly of Indiana, Senator
Begich of Alaska, Senator Manchin of West Virginia, and Senator Tester of

However, Senator Mark Warner spoke out in favor of the president`s
plan and said he believes it has bipartisan support.

Those senators all have A or A-plus ratings from the National Rifle
Association. Reid has a B rating.

These senators know they will lose their high rating and maybe become
a target with the NRA if they vote for a sensible assault weapons ban.

You see, we had the assault weapons ban back in 1994, but we`re so
screwed up in Washington right now, they`re even afraid to go back to that.

Every senator should explain to their constituency why they would not
cast a vote for the assault weapons ban. What`s the holdup? What are you
afraid of? Certainly, it`s not the NRA.

These senators should not fear the National Rifle Association. The
NRA didn`t affect any races in the last election cycle and it probably
won`t do it the next time around.

Now, if Senate Democrats cannot get over the hump of losing their A
rating from the National Rifle Association -- folks, this gun legislation,
it isn`t going to go anywhere.

Senator Al Franken of Minnesota is another Democratic lawmaker who was
somewhat puzzling in the last 24 hours who decided to clarify his position.
He says, "I co-sponsored legislation to ban large clips like those used in
so many mass shootings," he said in a statement. "I also support the
principle that we should reinstate a ban on assault weapons. And I will
carefully review any proposal to do that."

In principle -- can we get some straight talk? Because that in
principle kind of thing leaves a little wiggle room that maybe you might
not do it, Al.

There are other Senate Democrats ready to vote right now. There are
multiple Democrats sponsoring their own legislation. A background check
bill from Senator Chuck Schumer, an assault weapons ban from Senator Dianne
Feinstein, a magazine limit from Senator Frank Lautenberg. And an anti-
trafficking bill from Senator Kirsten Gillibrand out of New York.

Here`s Vice President Joe Biden today reminding the conference of
mayors what this legislation is really about.


BIDEN: That tragedy in all my years of public life I think has
affected the public psyche in a way that I`ve never seen before -- parents
in the streets, panicking, trying to find out if the child they put on the
bus in the morning had any prospect of getting back on the bus and going
home that afternoon.


SCHULTZ: Is that worth a vote?

I`m joined tonight by former Congresswoman Marjorie Margolies-
Mezvinsky, now an adjunct faculty member at the University of Pennsylvania.
She was a one-term congresswoman who -- I wish that wasn`t the case, but
that`s what happened. And you cast--


SCHULTZ: You cast the deciding vote for Clinton`s tax increase for
two decades, which took this country to surpluses. And you were targeted
because you voted for a tax increase. But at the time you said, "There are
times in all our careers when we must ask ourselves why we`re here."

Marjorie, great to have you with us tonight here on THE ED SHOW.


SCHULTZ: You are an example of courage, and the president has said
this is going to take courage. Can you apply what you went through to
today`s gun debate? What do you think?

MARGOLIES-MEZVINSKY: Oh, well, I was also targeted. I mean, they
just loaded both of the barrels and came after me also. I was just talking
tonight with somebody who worked for me in my congressional office, Arlene
Halpernin (ph). She said the phones never stopped ringing. And that`s one
of the problems.

But as a member of Congress you have to understand that people do not
call in when they`re satisfied. So nine out of 10 calls said vote against
this. And at that time, it was in `93 and we were talking about an omnibus
spending bill. It was a deficit reduction bill but of course it was called
the tax increase.

And there were things in the bill that I liked and there were things
in the bill I didn`t like. I didn`t think it went far enough with regard
to deficit reduction. I didn`t think it went far enough with regard to

So I was a no vote, and I walked into the house that night and the
Republicans were high-fiving saying they don`t have the votes and the
Democrats were figuring out how they could switch their votes and I said,
wait a minute, we came in with this president in `92, it was the largest
class of women, there were 24 new women, 21 Democrats.

And I -- the president was on the phone, and he said what would it
take? And I said a serious discussion about entitlements, further cuts,
and I`ll only be your last vote because there had only been two -- in the
House as you know, a tie vote goes down.


MARGOLIES-MEZVINSKY: So I said I`d only be your 218th vote and there
had been two votes I knew like this in history. One for the impeachment of
Andrew Johnson and the other one for the draft.


MARGOLIES-MEZVINSKY: And I said -- and they needed me. But I
represented the most Republican --

SCHULTZ: The president needed you, correct?


SCHULTZ: And the president right now needs Democrats to stand up the
way you did no matter what the ramifications are going to be in the next

Do you think Senate Democrats need to be willing to say good-bye to
their National Rifle Association rating?

MARGOLIES-MEZVINSKY: But they also have to be willing to vote and be
and stand up for what they believe in, and that`s the reason the public is
so darn angry with all of these representatives. It is a good job, but are
you -- are you there to make sure you deep it or are you there to be a

And there is a difference sometimes between representing and
leadership. And that`s what you have to understand. But, for me -- you
know, coming from me, I was such a lousy politician, and I represented the
most Republican district represented by a Democrat in the country, and they
came to me.

I mean, it just -- I had to roll my eyes. I was very surprised. But
it was really interesting the following day when there was all this hubbub,
I talked to one of my kids who was at camp. And he said, why did you do
that? You know, you`re going to lose everybody -- everybody said you`re
going to lose.

And I said, because it was the right thing to do. And it`s so rare in
life when you can say that to anybody, especially one of your kids.

SCHULTZ: And 92 percent of Americans right now favor background
checks, including Republicans and gun owners.

MARGOLIES-MEZVINSKY: And a majority of the NRA, people who belong to
the NRA.

SCHULTZ: What would you tell a wavering lawmaker right now in the
wake of what we have seen in this country, the carnage, the constant
shootings, the death on American streets? What would you say to a
lawmaker? Would you -- would you point to your experience?

MARGOLIES-MEZVINSKY: I don`t know if I`m a great example.

I just think that we have a window here.


MARGOLIES-MEZVINSKY: The people feel so strongly about this. The
stories and the -- you can`t -- I used to be a reporter. I know that I
watched people cover this. You can`t do it without weeping. It`s so --


MARGOLIES-MEZVINSKY: There is a window here. We can make change.
Step up to the plate. Have the cojones to do it. You need a spine. Get
it done.

SCHULTZ: That`s very good advice. Marjorie Margolies-Mezvinsky,
great to have you with us tonight. I think you speak for a lot of
Americans who would say just that to congressional members.

Coming up, we have the latest developments on the Manti Te`o hoax.
And it is unbelievable. There is actually proof he lied more than once.

The managing editor of and NBC News political analyst
Howard Fineman are here with all the details. Stay tuned.


SCHULTZ: Welcome back to THE ED SHOW. And thanks for watching
tonight. Well, it turns out the inspirational story of Notre Dame
linebacker Manti Te`O`s struggles this football season was a total hoax.
On September 12th, it was reported Te`O lost his grandmother to cancer and
his girlfriend to Leukemia, all within the span of six hours.

The next day, Te`O led Notre Dame to a big win over Michigan State,
racking up 12 tackles in the process. His play on the field and his
heartfelt story went on to be the focal point of Notre Dame`s near-perfect
season. Unfortunately, Te`O really did lose his grandmother to cancer in
September on that day. But as reports, his girlfriend, Lennay
Kekua, never existed. There is no record of her death, no obituaries, and
no funeral announcements.

In fact, aside from a fake Twitter account, there is no record of her
at all. Te`O says he was involved with a woman he met online whom he never
met. He claims they communicated through the Internet and over the phone.
In a statement, Te`O said, "to realize that I was the victim of what was
apparently someone`s sick joke and constant lies was and is painful and

However, on September 23rd "Sports Illustrated" asked the linebacker
from Notre Dame how he met his girlfriend, and he responded with this
answer: "we met just -- um, just she knew my cousin and kind of saw me
there so, just kind of regular."

His stories simply don`t add up. Te`O also gave a number of
interviews about his so-called girlfriend during the football season.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Emotional week, losing your grandmother and your
girlfriend on Tuesday. How would you describe your emotions on the field

MANTI TE`O, NOTRE DAME LINEBACKER: I mean, they`re with me. You
know, so I couldn`t do it without them. I couldn`t do it without the
support of my family and my girlfriend`s family.

I never felt that way before. Six hours ago, I just found out my
grandma passed away. And you take, you know, the love of my life, the last
thing she said to me was "I love you." and that was it.


SCHULTZ: As you see, the national sports media jumped all over this
story. They failed to verify the facts and played a major role in
promoting this false narrative. And this guy was up for the Heisman

A few simple Google searches could have avoided this entire mess.
Meanwhile, Notre Dame is sticking by their star linebacker. But it could
just be an attempt to save face.


about this until that day in the first week of December was real to Manti.
There was no -- no suspicion that it wasn`t, no belief that it might not
be. And so the pain was real. The grief was real. The affection was

The single most trusting human being I`ve ever met will never be able
to trust in the same way again in his life. That`s an incredible tragedy.


SCHULTZ: As Notre Dame`s athletic director pointed out, Te`O learned
it was all a hoax on December 6th. But the Associated Press is reporting
that he gave two more interviews pushing the lie.


TE`O: I don`t like cancer at all. You know, cancer -- I lost both my
grandparents and my girlfriend to cancer.


SCHULTZ: Coaches at Notre Dame found out about the hoax on December
26th. And of course they kept quiet because their national championship
game was on January 7th. We know for a fact that Te`O lied twice and Notre
Dame swept this under the rug to save face.

But something tells me there`s a whole lot more to this story. And
we`ve got a lot of questions coming up next about this hoax. We`ll get to
some of those answers next. Stay with us.


TE`O: Six hours ago, I just found out my grandma passed away. You
take, you know, the love of my life.


SCHULTZ: Coming up, the editor of the website that dropped the Manti
Te`O bombshell, Tom Scocca on how got the sports scoop of the

And Howard Fineman of the "Huffington Post" on how every other
journalist dropped the ball.

And another big-time CEO picks another fight over Obamacare.


JOHN MACKEY, WHOLE FOODS FOUNDER: In fascism, the government doesn`t
own the means of production but they do control it. And that`s what`s
happening with these reforms.


SCHULTZ: I`ll talk with Jonathan Alter about fascism and the founder
of Whole Foods.


SCHULTZ: Welcome back to THE ED SHOW. Thanks for staying with us
tonight. And this bizarre story, all-American linebacker Manti Te`O claims
that he is a victim of a heartbreaking hoax. But he`s going to have to
answer some tough questions in the future if he wants to convince some of
the sports fans he`s coming clean.

The Associated Press reports that Te`O kept the scam going. Te`O says
he`s found out he`d been scammed on December 6th. He talked about the fake
girlfriend in two interviews two days later. Te`O also gives conflicting
dates about the car accident and the time of her death.

Tonight it`s unclear who really got scammed and what this is all
about, how it started, who knew about it, and is he a victim or is he a

Let`s bring in Tom Scocca, who is the managing editor of,
and Howard Fineman, also with us tonight, NBC News political analyst and
editorial director of the Huffington Post Media Group.

Gentlemen, good to have you with us. Tom, you first. Rather bizarre
story. How long did it take your staff to unearth this?

TOM SCOCCA, DEADSPIN.COM: It took about five days from when we got
the first tip to being ready to publish it. Because we got this tip, and
it seemed like it had to be crazy, that this widely covered person didn`t
exist. So we put Jack Dickey, one of our reporters, on the records, and
Tim Burke went after the online side of it, to try to find any evidence
that she existed.

And it was -- it was sort of a scary or confusing thing to do because
what kept happening is we just kept not finding her. And then the question
was, at what point as you`re not finding this person -- you know, as you
can`t find her obituary, you can`t find her death in the Social Security
Administration records, you can`t find that she attended Stanford, because
she didn`t -- at what point do all these negatives add up to a positive?

SCHULTZ: So who started all this? What did your reporting find?

SCOCCA: We`re still trying to figure out exactly what happened, but
we found a woman whose picture had been used to represent this fictitious
girlfriend. And she had no idea. She had given the picture to a high
school classmate of hers, Roniah Toassasopo (ph), who`s either a friend or
a distant relative of Te`O`s.

And so the question is whether it was a friend pulling a prank on
another friend or whether they knew from the start what they were both
doing with this fake person.

SCHULTZ: Did you have a chance -- did your staff have a chance to
interview the linebacker, Te`O?

SCOCCA: We didn`t. We tried calling him when we were getting ready
to publish, but we sort of -- it was a situation where we figured this was
-- this was the kind of story, you know, that you can give to a friendly
reporter to try to spin out of at the last minute and --

SCHULTZ: So we really don`t know if he is a victim or a perpetrator.

SCOCCA: Right.

SCHULTZ: He could have been, speculating, part of some scam to put
him on the national scene, to get him plenty of visibility, a heartfelt
story because he was up for the Heisman. I mean, I`m speculating big-time
here. There`s a lot of crazy theories out there. But we really don`t
know, do we?

SCOCCA: No. One thing that we -- there are a couple of things that
we do know. One is just that if he and Notre Dame were victims, they`re
victims who really did quite well by being victimized, which doesn`t mean
that they weren`t. But this was a story that got tremendous benefits for
him and Notre Dame in the course of the season in terms of publicity and

The other thing we know is that as -- as some of these other things
you`ve been flagging tonight in the timeline show us, he was --

SCHULTZ: He lied.

SCOCCA: By the end, he was lying. And along the way, he was
certainly telling this very embellished story, where whether he knew he was
being scammed or not, he certainly was talking about this love of his life
as if it were someone he had actually ever been in a room with.

SCHULTZ: We really don`t know if he ever met her. I mean, there`s
some conflicting comments in interviews about whether he actually met this
woman or not, who obviously does not exist.

SCOCCA: Right. We know he didn`t meet her.

SCHULTZ: OK. That`s right. Howard Fineman, all I can say is
bizarre. Should Notre Dame have reported the hoax when they found out two
weeks before the championship game?

should have. And I think, once again, you have a situation of a much-
beloved -- much-beloved sports institution, a football institution in this
case, enveloped in myth and surrounded by friendly people telling them how
great they are, thinking that it was the right thing to do not to tell the
truth, because it might get in the way of a football game.

But what I would like to focus on is the journalism here, because I
know a lot more about that than I know about the Notre Dame --

SCHULTZ: How could an athlete get away with a story like this?

FINEMAN: Well, I think it`s a good question. First, I want to
congratulate Deadspin on some terrific, classic, shoe leather reporting.
Shoe leather`s online now, and it`s in the records. And they did it. And
they should be congratulated for it.

The mystery is how this gigantic empire of lies could have been
constructed without anybody noticing it before Deadspin did. Some very
major journalistic institutions fell for this hook, line, and chinstrap.
And it`s disturbing. And it happens all too frequently all across

None of us is immune to it. You know, in the old days, Ed, you had
the old game of telephone effect, where somebody would tell somebody else
and somebody else and the story would get distorted over time. In this
culture, in this instantaneous culture, it`s kind of the exact problem.

Digital copies are perfect copies. So once a story gets set in motion
in a perfect mythic way, it gets repeated verbatim. And it`s not that the
story changes. It`s that the story doesn`t change. From the beginning,
when the South Bend newspaper started printing these stories about this
heartbreaking story of this mythical girl -- what turns out to be the
mythical girlfriend, those stories in the South Bend paper, the sort of
small town, hometown paper, get replicated all over the country,
unquestioned by major institutions, by "Sports Illustrated," by the "New
York Times" --

SCHULTZ: He`s up for the Heisman Trophy. Yeah. He`s up for the
Heisman Trophy.

FINEMAN: And people -- I will say this in defense of Notre Dame. And
I don`t know if they deserve to be defended here, and I think Deadspin and
others will continue to ask the right questions. But Notre Dame doesn`t
need this kind of story to embellish its legend in football or in sports.
They don`t need it. The last thing they need is a guy like this.

But yet they got caught up in not telling the truth. He told them
about it. He realized the story on the 6th, if you believe his version.
He tells the coaches right away. It turns out that players on the team, I
think this is correct -- several players on the team and maybe many players
on the team knew this was a bunch of baloney and didn`t tell and neither
did the athletic director.

SCHULTZ: Needless to say, they did not play well against Alabama and
Te`O did not have a very good game. I think that there`s still a lot more
reporting to be done on this. And I think that this is big-time major
college athletics that has huge, huge ramifications when it comes to
dollars and Bowl Games and who knows. It is --

FINEMAN: Yeah, the journalism story is a big one here, Ed. The
journalism story is a big one. And we shouldn`t forget it.

SCHULTZ: No question. Tom Scocca and also Howard Fineman, great to
have both of you with us tonight. Thanks so much.

A health food store with a CEO against health care reform. I`ll tell
you who called Obamacare fascist. Jonathan Alter joins me. Stay with us.


SCHULTZ: ED SHOW survey tonight, I asked will Republican leadership
denounce the extreme rhetoric on guns? Five percent of you say yes; 95
percent of you say no.

Coming up, another day, another CEO comes out against Obamacare.
Jonathan Alter joins me for the discussion of the story. Stay with us.


SCHULTZ: And in the Big Finish tonight, back in 2009, Whole Foods
founder and CEO John Mackey wrote an op-ed in the "Wall Street Journal"
labeling President Obama`s Affordable Health Care Act a form of socialism.
As a result, the health food retailer`s left-leaning customer base staged
nationwide protests and boycotts.

Three years later, Mackey is back. He`s changed his mind a little


MACKEY: Technically speaking, it`s more like fascism. Socialism is
where the government owns the means of production. In fascism, the
government doesn`t own the means of production, but they do control it.
And that`s what`s happening with the health care program and with these


SCHULTZ: Well, as you can imagine, Whole Foods` left-leaning customer
base didn`t take too kindly to that label either. Mackey is already
walking it back.


MACKEY: I regret using that word now because it`s got so much baggage
attached to it from the middle of the 20th century when you had Germany and
Italy and Spain that were fascist. And people still associate that with
it. Of course I was just using the standard dictionary definition.


SCHULTZ: "The Merriam Webster Dictionary" defines fascism as "a
regime headed by a dictatorial leader that forcibly suppresses opposition."

Mackey, a self-professed libertarian, gets his definition from the Ayn
Rand school of thought. Listen, I believe Mackey regrets using the word.
But the most insulting thing about Mackey`s continued assault against
Obamacare isn`t the language. Mackey isn`t biting the hand that feeds him.

Despite this country being run by a socialist or fascist or whatever
word he`ll come up with next, Whole Foods is doing pretty dog gone good.
Under President Obama, Whole Foods` profits have risen 306 percent, profits
he seems unwilling to invest in the health of the employees that are with
him making all that money.

Let`s turn to Jonathan Alter, MSNBC political analyst and columnist
for "Bloomberg View." Why do these CEOs do this? Why would he do this
again and go down this road?

JONATHAN ALTER, "BLOOMBERG VIEW": Well, they can`t help themselves.
You know, he has a political philosophy, as indicated, of libertarianism,
where they think that it`s just because of their genius and their hard work
and their talent, and that they don`t get any help from anybody else. The
rugged individual making it alone in American life.

You know, as Warren Buffett or some of his fellow CEOs who are a
little more enlightened might tell him, the only reason that Whole Food or
-- Whole Foods or whole paycheck, as it`s sometimes called by those who are
a little --

SCHULTZ: Here in New York, that`s what they call it.

ALTER: The only reason that they have been able to be so successful
is because they`re operating in a country, this country, where they get all
kinds of public services, whether it`s the good roads that lead to the
Whole Foods near where I live, or all of the other things that make a
society work. And these guys just are oblivious to that. And they don`t
get it. And they don`t get that they do have certain social

So they have kind of a we`re all in it for ourselves ethic, which is
totally contrary to the ethic that he`s using to make millions of dollars
at Whole Foods. It`s a crunchy, you know, Earth tone ethic that they have
in those stores.

SCHULTZ: Why wouldn`t he want his employees to have the best health
care? According to, the average Whole Foods cashier makes an
average of 10.31 dollars an hour. Without Obamacare, what hope do these
folks have?

ALTER: Well, yeah. He`s kind of throwing them to the wolves. And
the sad thing, Ed, is there`s another way to do it. Look at Costco.
Excellent company, provides health care for its employees and other
benefits. Still manages to make plenty of money.

So the subtext of what people like Mackey are saying is, if we have to
actually do right by our employees, we can`t be in business. That`s false.
That is utterly false. And people need to understand that you can do well
and do good at the same time. You can be responsible and make a profit at
the same time.

And these CEOs, who get so much from this country, need to understand
that their customers are going to demand that they give something back.

SCHULTZ: At the end of the day, I think businesses are going to
realize what this is doing for their employees. But they all have this
mindset that they`re going to get financially stuck. And that`s simply not
the case, depending on the size of the company. But these bigger companies
are going to benefit as the employees are going toned up with health care.
Why don`t they see that?

ALTER: Well, because it does cost them a little bit more money to do
right. But they should be investing in their workforce. They will get a
better-quality employee if they do right by them. And if they don`t
believe that, they should ask Jim Sinegal (ph), who runs Costco, or some of
these other more responsible companies, and they would hear the answer.

SCHULTZ: Jonathan Alter, great to have you with us tonight.

ALTER: Thanks, Ed.

SCHULTZ: I`m anxious to see your next book. I know you`re working
hard on it. We`ll talk about it again.

That`s THE ED SHOW. I`m Ed Schultz. "THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW" starts
right now. Good evening, Rachel.


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