ALL IN with CHRIS HAYES
April 9, 2013
Guests: Faith Bautista, Alexis Goldstein, Eliot Spitzer, Ryan Grim, Errol
Louis, Mark Glaze, Dorsey Levins, Dr. Teena Shetty, Eric Frumin, Mike
CHRIS HAYES, HOST: Big, surprising and welcome news on gun
legislation today, as I speak to you.
And a trial in Philadelphia that could be the beginning of the end of
football as we know it.
But, first, the most shocking piece of news today is this seemingly
innocuous document. A simple, sterile page of print out of a spreadsheet
with numbers -- boring.
But what the numbers represent is a massive nationwide crime scene.
No, I mean that. That document is a summary of widespread and systemic
error, malfeasance and reckless lack of care on the part of our nation`s
What those numbers show are banks foreclosing on military service
members who are entitled to relief, of banks foreclosing on homeowners who
have been approved for loan modification, of banks even foreclosing on
homeowners who are not behind in their payments, not on default, current.
In fact, amazingly, on that sheet of paper is the number 53, which
there are at least 53 documented cases of homeowners who are completely
current on their payments being successfully foreclosed on. Not just
having foreclosure proceedings initiated against them, but these are people
who are making their payments, paying their mortgage and actually have
their homes taken from them for no reason.
According to the findings posted today by a federal bank regulator as
part of a settlement agreement with a number of major banks, between 2009
and 2010, foreclosure proceedings that were wrongful or in some way
contained bank error commenced against nearly 4 million homeowners. About
30 percent of foreclosures had -- those being foreclosed on, had to battle
potentially wrongful efforts to seize their homes, 30 percent. More than
244,000 eventually lost their homes.
Today, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, the regulator
who compiled these statistics and came to settlement with the banks, it was
supposed to be announcing good news. It was supposed to be announcing
money to those who had been victimized by the banks` practices.
But given the scale of the deception and error, the amount of money on
the table for those who had been victimized is in most instances,
cartoonishly small. A pittance compared to the billions of dollars about a
dozen banks and their affiliates likely saved by getting this settlement
For example, there`s the category of homeowners who were foreclosed
on. That is successfully kicked out of their homes, even though the
borrowers had worked out a new payment plan with their bank to stay in
their home and they`d stuck to it. There are 234,000 of them.
Another 865,000 of them were in the process of foreclosure, even they,
too, had gone to the bank and worked out a new payment plan.
That by the way is euphemistically known as dual tracking, where a
bank is processing your loan modification while also simultaneously
pursuing a foreclosure against you. A better term would simply to be
called it double dealing or double crossing.
So the 1,099,000 victims of dual tracking get $500 each, $500. It`s a
number so hilariously low, it has spawned Alexis Goldstein`s what can you
buy for having your house stolen. One of her suggestions, these two meter
dome for those homeowners lucky enough to get $5,000 from the settlement --
which brings us to our next notable category, homeowners in which the
servicer initiated completed foreclosure on a borrower who was not in
The foreclosure was completed on a homeowner who is not in default,
$125,000. Now, $125,000, that is a lot of money. But that`s $125,000 for
taking your home away, from you, without any justification.
These are people who did nothing wrong. They were not in default.
They were current on their payments and their homes were taken.
In any other context, we would say they were stolen. They`ll get
$125,000 for their trouble. The outraged matched perhaps only by this one.
Servicer foreclosed on, borrower eligible for Service Member`s Relief Act.
Translation: wrongfully foreclosing on active duty members of the Armed
Forces. It`s a criminal felony.
The banks merely pay out $125,000 to those victims. All the other
awards in all of the other categories pay out mostly nominal amounts. Many
of the 3.5 million homeowners who received some kind of payment were
supposed to get an independent review from the government. But the Federal
Reserve and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency or OCC punted.
They punted because this independent review process to look into a system
that was so deeply flawed and messed up that everyone around the country
was scratching their heads.
This deeply flawed system, as "The New York Times" characterized it.
Instead, the OCC engineered a mass settle. They got halfway through it and
they said, you know what? No. Let`s come to the table. What should the
And that is represented by this document. What it represents is, in
any intuitive sense, the evidence of a crime wave that once again the banks
will not have to answer for.
Joining us from Sacramento, California, is Faith Bautista, who is a
victim herself of a wrongful home foreclosure in 2009. At the table, Eliot
Spitzer, former New York Governor and attorney general, and Alexis
Goldstein, former vice president in Merrill Lynch and Deutsche Bank. Now,
an Occupy Wall Street activist.
It`s g to have you here.
Faith, I want to begin with you.
As someone who -- if my understanding is correct -- would qualify for
the terms of this settlement, as someone who is wrongfully foreclosed, on
what is your reaction to this big news today about what the settlement
FAITH BAUTISTA, HOME WRONGFULLY FORECLOSED: Well, as a victim, I`m
happy to receive something, because I have applied since January of last
year and it`s now April. I have haven`t gotten anything. And if I waited
for their system without OCC unplugging the plug, I probably would not get
anything. So to me, whatever I would get, I will be very happy, but I`m
hoping I would get more than $500.
HAYES: Are you looking at $500? Is that what you`re looking at for
being foreclosed incorrectly, wrongly?
BAUTISTA: You know, at that time in 2009, I was with award savings
and I have a pick of pay type of payment and I lost my job. So I can only
pay the minimum and then after a while, I really cannot pay, so I have like
$12,000 in arrears. I asked (INAUDIBLE) Saving, which is now U.S. Bank, to
help me with the loan modification.
In 2009, there was no program. So I was wrongfully foreclosed because
for $12,000 in arrears, 20 percent down on my house, always been a great
borrower since 1986.
BAUTISTA: To take my house away, you know how devastating that was?
Being a single mom and having two kids and being taken my house away? That
was pretty sad. I need to get more than $500.
HAYES: Alexis, how do we get here? How do we get here, right? So,
there`s -- we have the housing bubble, OK. The housing bubble, everybody
goes out and they get mortgages and then the mortgages all blow up and the
blow up makes the financial crisis. And what blowing up looks like on the
backside is that banks are foreclosing left and right and they`re
foreclosing on so many properties they cannot deal with how many properties
they have to foreclose on, then what happens?
ALEXIS GOLDSTEIN, OCCUPY WALL STREET ACTIVIST: So, the OCC, which is
one of the bank regulators that used to be responsible for what`s called
mortgage servicing, which is just getting your monthly payments and giving
you a loan modification if you need one.
HAYES: I have a mortgage and there`s someone I send a check to every
GOLDSTEIN: That`s your servicer.
HAYES: That`s my servicer, OK.
GOLDSTEIN: Right. So, the OCC is in-charge of regulating them. They
look really bad because there are all these people being wrongfully
foreclosed on. There was the robo-signing scandal where the banks were
fraudulently filling in documents.
So they`re like, what can we do to make ourselves look better? What
can we do to make the banks look better and what can we do to restore faith
to the mortgage markets? Which was one of the stated goals of this thing
called the independent foreclosure review we`ve just seen the settlement
HAYES: So, there`s all these news that sweeps the country. This
robo-signing scandal is huge thing, right?
And it turns out, the banks are saying we`re foreclosing on you and
when you say to them, wait a second, wait a second, wait a second, you`re
foreclosing on me, do you have the documents to foreclose on me? They say,
yes, this document right here and that document right there isn`t the
actual document you need.
In fact, it`s an affidavit that`s been signed by a robot or someone
they`ve been paying minimum wage to, to just sign documents, saying, oh,
yes, don`t worry about it. We have it. Right?
Huge scandal. Blew everything up. Was in the "Wall Street Journal"
and everybody looked embarrassed.
And the OCC says, OK, we`re going to conduct a review.
GOLDSTEIN: Right. So they do this in April 2011, just a few months
before the CFPB comes on board. The CFPB would have done this if they had
HAYES: OK. The CFPB is the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau,
which is part of the Dodd-Frank legislation passed by President Obama and
by the Democrats in, well, a little bit of Republican in the House.
GOLDSTEIN: So, one could argue the OCC, the Office of Comptroller of
the Currency did this because they didn`t want the consumer financial
production barrel under Elizabeth Warren to be in charge of this, because
they have been known to be very kind to the banks. They have been known to
bury the banks bodies and they have been known to lie on behalf of the
banks, which they did in this independent foreclosure review.
Recently, they came out with a number that said 4.2 percent of
borrowers had an error.
HAYES: Right, we did this whole review and this got huge headlines,
oh, don`t worry, it`s only 4.2 percent of the people have an error.
GOLDSTEIN: But just last week, the government has had an auditor.
It`s called the Government Accountability Office and they basically said
that the OCC did not come up with the systemic methodology. They didn`t
tell each bank how to figure out where they were errors. They didn`t have
a series of consistent categories and they basically found out that there
was no way you could have figured out one consistent error rate across all
of the banks because there was no consistent methodology. It was like
reverse-engineered to make the banks look as good as possible.
HAYES: How surprising is it to you, Eliot?
ELIOT SPITZER (D), FORMER NEW YORK GOVERNOR: Not at all.
Two points. First, the amount of money involved and the totality of
the settlement, and this is why Faith only gets $500. It`s less than the
Treasury Department gave to Goldman Sachs to cover Goldman`s exposure to
AIG, which is over $12 million. Nobody said anything. Goldman just got a
check for $12 billion. All the mess and wrongful foreclosures in the
country only about two-thirds of that. So, the amount of money is insanely
Let`s put the OCC in historical context. It is the paradigm of a
broken, fraudulent regulatory body. It has been in the bank pocket of the
banks. Historically. Three chapters to this. It`s tragedy.
One, pre-crash. In `03, I and all the other A.G.s went to court to
try to open up the subprime scandal. The OCC came in on the side of the
banks to stop us. We have to litigate all the way to the Supreme Court.
HAYES: Against the regulators. Chapter two. The OCC opposed
mortgage write-downs. The sort that would have benefited Faith, that would
have saved the economy. The OCC said, no, we`re here to protect the banks,
not the entirety of our economy. Chapter three, what Alexis just
described, their grotesque failure to do an appropriate review. So the OCC
should be eliminated, write it off the boards.
GOLDSTEIN: It`s just the whitewash. It is 4.2 percent rate, they
were lying. It`s a bunch of lies. So, Morris Morgan is from the OCC says
to the American banker, do I think there were a significant number of
people who were foreclosed, where the banks did not have legal right to
foreclosed on them. At this point in time, I don`t think that was a
I guess my question to you, Faith, is do you feel there is anyone who
has your interest at heart as one of the people who are represented on the
spread sheet as one of the statistics, is there anyone in Washington you
feel has your interest at heart who is looking out for you?
BAUTISTA: Yes and no. You know, Tom Curry, he inherited this problem,
just like President Obama inherited this problem.
So, he only can do what he can do. He unplugged it. And for me as a
homeowner that was a victim, I`m finally going to get something.
My problem is $3.6 billion that will all go to all of us that were
victim and the independent auditors are getting $2 billion. I really have
a problem with that. They`re getting more than half?
HAYES: Let me explain that. These consultants hired to conduct this
big review, they`re walking away with $2 billion in fees for conducting it.
The sum of cash going to the people that were wrongly foreclosed on is --
SPITZER: -- independent, the word independent, but not really
GOLDSTEIN: So, say, you`re a borrower, who`s going to get $500, there
was a consultant hired by a bank who was paid $250 per hour to review your
file and they walked away with $10,000 to look at your story of tragedy and
they now get $500 to the consultants $10,000.
HAYES: Quickly and finally, Eliot, why do the banks skate away with
paying money and going off to do it again? What has to change in that?
GOLDSTEIN: We heard it from Eric Holder a couple of weeks ago. We
can`t possibly bring a case against to the banks because it would bad
things to the economy. A flawed premise, the too big to fail has become
too big to prosecute. To big to indict. To big even to exact a meaningful
They walked away without even admitting wrongdoing. The whole
paradigm of prosecution has to change.
HAYES: Yes. And no amount of writing checks is going to change.
SPITZER: Money doesn`t it.
HAYES: Former Governor Eliot Spitzer, Alexis Goldstein, and in
Sacramento, Faith Bautista, thank you.
All right. What I`m about to say was viewed as an impossible pipe
dream for months and now, listen to this, it looks like a senate vote on
gun legislation will happen on Thursday and a filibuster threat appears to
be on the ropes. Why it happened and who is responsible and how it can
still fall apart, next.
HAYES: If you have ever wondered what sheer political pressure in its
purest form looks like up close, you will find it tonight on Dawn
Hochsprung`s daughter`s Twitter page. Dawn Hochsprung was the principal of
Sandy Hook Elementary School. She was gunned down in the massacre there in
Dawn Hochsprung`s daughter Erica Lafferty has been calling each of the
14 Republican senators who have promised to filibuster gun safety
legislation to make a case that they not do that. And, apparently, most of
them have not been returning her calls, so Erica Lafferty started reaching
out to them in the more public forum of Twitter.
"Senator Rand Paul, here`s a pic of my mom on her wedding day. I
don`t get one of these at my wedding in July."
"Senator Pat Roberts, my mom was gunned down at Sandy Hook. Alison
will never know her grandma. We don`t deserve to be heard."
"Marco Rubio, I`ll never see my mom again because she was gunned down
in Sandy Hook. I don`t deserve to be heard."
Erica Lafferty tweeted individual photos and messages like those to
each of the 14 senators who are on the record planning to block
consideration of gun safety legislation.
And then this one, to all of them collectively, "Paul, Lee, Cruz,
Rubio, Moran, Burr, Inhofe, Johnson, Enzi, Risch, Crapo, Coats, Roberts and
McConnell, call me back. I`m not going away."
At one point, Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy stepped in and sent
his own tweets to each of the senators in question, asking them all to call
Erica Lafferty, and ultimately, NBC Connecticut reported that Ted Cruz did
agree to call her back. Eric Lafferty is just one of the many sources of
political pressure applied today on Capitol Hill in a way that help turn
the corner on the gunfight that until day look like it might never end.
When we left this story yesterday night, the president was just
getting off Air Force One with 12 people who lost a child or a spouse in
the Newtown massacre. Twelve people ready to become congressional
lobbyists for the week, just like Erica Lafferty, ready to put tangible
political pressure on opponents of expanded background checks and the
pressure was being directed primarily of those 14 senators who said they
were going to filibuster, including Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who
just added himself when we spoke yesterday, that to that list yesterday
afternoon, which is generally speaking not a good sign for a piece of
legislation because if Mitch McConnell wants something filibustered, it
tends to get filibustered.
But today, there was a full spectrum of political pressure. There was
pressure from everywhere. There`s pressure from the White House, where
Vice President Biden spoke to an audience of law enforcement this afternoon
urging them to go to Capitol Hill in uniform and lobby for universal
There was pressure from the Senate where Harry Reid announced he is
not waiting anymore. He is setting up a vote on gun safety legislation on
Thursday. There was pressure from outside groups with those 12 Newtown
family members descending on Capitol Hill to lobby Congress and with Mayor
Michael Bloomberg`s pressure group, Mayors Against Illegal Guns, releasing
an ad urging Pennsylvania Republican Pat Toomey who`s been working with Joe
Manchin on the background check compromised bill to move forward with that
legislation, and amid all that pressure, there was movement from
By "The Huffington Post" count, as many as eight Republican senators
have publicly spoken out against a filibuster of gun safety legislation,
which means Harry Reid very likely has the votes he needs to overcome the
promised filibuster from those now infamous 14 Republicans and to start a
debate on a bill on Thursday.
Yesterday, we talked about the genius of the president`s political
strategy on this issue was that from the very beginning of the fight, he
was focused on defeating the inevitable filibuster. He made sure the fight
was about getting an up or down vote. And today, it`s looking like that
strategy might just be effective. Which is an amazing thing when you think
about how disciplined Republicans have been in their lockstep filibustering
throughout the Obama presidency. That lock step discipline is crumbling on
Joining us from Washington, Ryan Grim, "The Huffington Post" bureau
chief and at the table, Errol Louis, host of New York 1`s "Inside City
Hall". And Mark Glaze, executive director of Mayors Against Illegal Guns.
Ryan, the developments today, I have to say, I had been something of a
skeptic from the beginning. I woke up to being a skeptic. What has
altered the dynamics to the point where we now look like we`re going to get
-- Republicans do something they never do, which is to let something have a
vote even when they oppose it?
RYAN GRIM, HUFFINGTON POST: I think actually Rand Paul surprisingly
deserves a lot of the credit and not necessarily on purpose. He was the
first one to come out and say I am filibustering any bill that deals with
gun control. Before he had even seen it, before it had been written,
before negotiations had come out of any gangs, I`m against it, we`re not
even debating it.
He`s then joined by Ted Cruz and Mike Lee, two other Tea Partiers.
And that is just an absurd position to take, to say that we`re not
evening going to debate this after Sandy Hook. And so, that set them up.
It allowed Obama to say, look, they don`t even think that you deserve a
fair hearing. What people want is a fair shot. They want to legislation
to get passed. No question about it.
But what they really want, they want the opportunity for their voices
to be heard and they want a chance to count the votes on the floor of the
Senate and if you come up short, you know who`s on your side, you know,
who`s against you and then you know who you need to go and find for the
next round, so if Paul hadn`t made such a huge deal about it to begin with,
Obama might not have been able to knock him down.
HAYES: He was really feeling his ohs (ph) from the whole -- you know,
from the filibuster. I think he had a lot of political success striking
out ahead of everyone else, so he struck out ahead here.
Someone who did not struck out ahead, who has from the beginning been
a possible get essentially, a possible yea vote, is Pat Toomey, Republican
from Pennsylvania, we have word now that Joe Manchin of West Virginia,
Democrat, and Pat Toomey from Pennsylvania, have called a press conference
for tomorrow morning at 11:00 a.m.
Mark, you guys ran an ad, which I want to show, pressuring Pat Toomey
to come to the table on this. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
AD NARRATOR: On gun safety, Pennsylvania has a strong background
system, but guns don`t respect state borders. Now, the U.S. Senate can
pass comprehensive background legislation that will stop criminals and the
dangerously mentally ill from using loopholes to get guns. Senator Toomey
understands how important that change is.
SEN. PAT TOOMEY (R), PENNSYLVANIA: I`m in favor in making changes to
a background system.
AD NARRATOR: In Pennsylvania, almost 90 percent of us support
comprehensive background checks. Call Senator Toomey. Tell him it`s time
to take the Pennsylvania solutions to Washington.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: I love this ad. It`s like hug him so close.
MARK GLAZE, MAYORS AGAINST ILLEGAL GUNS: Right.
HAYES: Giving so much love, he can`t get away.
GLAZE: Well, you know, it`s one of those rare instances when you tell
somebody, look, your state has largely done what the federal bill will do.
In fact, in some respects, it goes farther.
In Pennsylvanians are going to buy a hand gun from an unlicensed
seller, you`ve got to get a background check. And as a result,
Pennsylvania`s crime stats have dropped in comparison to the states that
have closed that loophole. So, it`s actually a very friendly case to make,
which is the way we intended it -- to say to Senator Toomey, take
Pennsylvania common sense to Washington. We hope he will tomorrow.
HAYES: Do you think there`s an interesting lesson here about the
strategy on this? We`ve been talking on the staff so much. More than any
other domestic political priority, the president and the Democrats have
been out front on this. They`ve been applying intense and constant
political pressure as opposed to the way they`re dealing with immigration
right now, which is let people come to an agreement behind closed doors.
It`s been a really interesting thing to watch this play out.
ERROL LOUIS, NEW YORK 1: They`re in their sweet spot when they
involve the public.
LOUIS: I mean, watching the president usher those folks off the
plane, you know, sort of saying, OK, you go ahead and do it. This is how
you do it. I think they also got the right mix of carrot and stick. I
mean, you know, some of these ads are really quite intense, when you think
about the individual situation of the legislators that they`re aimed at.
But there`s also this new $235 million for, you know, some kind of
mental health program nationally. Senators look at that stuff, too.
There`s the money that`s going to be for school safety and $440 million.
That makes a big difference.
HAYES: I want to get your thoughts, Ryan, on what it was like, what
the scene was like today in D.C. and how that might have changed things and
what can with we expect tomorrow at 11:00 from Manchin and Toomey, right
after we take this break.
HAYES: Looks like tomorrow, there`s going to be, at 11:00, a press
conference between Joe Manchin and Pat Toomey, Democrat and Republican from
West Virginia and Pennsylvania, announcing, it looks like some kind of
compromise can come together.
Ryan, you were in D.C. today, how has the presence of the Sandy Hook
victims altered that conversation there?
GRIM: I mean, it makes it a lot harder for the same partisan games to
be going on and it allows these kind of Manchin and Toomey talks to
continue be going on in much serious way. What I`m hearing from a top
senate source is that they were announcing a bipartisan background check
announced tomorrow, which would be a very big deal, which that would allow
a number of other Republicans who might not be up for re-election the next
term or two to come along.
And Democrats in the Senate think that they need about 10 Republicans.
They think they`ll get 50, give or take, Democrats. So, they need 10 to
get all the way to 60, since they didn`t do filibuster reform fully and
still need 51 to get through.
HAYES: Do you think you guys -- and by that I mean Mayors Against
Illegal Guns. How much of a difference do you think you have made in this?
You and I were talking during the break. There was a very robust gun
safety movement in this country in the 1990s. It crescendoed. It won a
lot of victories. It went into remission, partly because it had a lot of
victories and partly because it was demobilized.
Now there`s this kind of second wave, new crop. How much do you think
that is -- how much role do you think you`re playing?
GLAZE: Well, first of all, I think the survivors and families of
those we lost always play the biggest role because they`re the ones who
make the case as you saw on the Hill today, that this is not just a dry
policy problem, but this is about people`s lives. So we first give respect
But the second is, you know, I think what Mayor Bloomberg and Mayor
Menino and 15 other mayors in 2007 thought was Congress doesn`t think about
this issue in the way we do. And the reason is we get the call at 2:00
morning when a police officer is gunned down, a child is hit by a stray
bullet. Members of Congress don`t get those calls. And they see this as
an ideological issue about money and talking points. They don`t see it as
a question of crime control and how you respect the Second Amendment, but
do much more to keep guns out of the wrong hands.
And out of that basic frame, I think you`ve now got almost 1,000
mayors, more than 100 Republicans, who are changing the conversation,
because they`re having an elected official to elected official
conversation. They run and they get reelected on these issues all the
time, because they know how to talk about it and they know that people care
HAYES: Johnny Isakson and Kelly Ayotte today said they`re not going
to filibuster. I want to play the sound for you, Errol. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHNNY ISAKSON (R), GEORGIA: We have not seen the final draft of
the legislation that was produced. I understand last night. But I think
it deserves a vote up or down.
SEN. KELLY AYOTTE (R), NEW HAMPSHIRE: I don`t support a filibuster
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: So I was hammering on this yesterday, right? Why should this
be any different? This is what they do on everything. And Erik Erickson
of Red State wrote this post today that was absolutely honest and true. He
said look, if you vote against the filibuster, you`re voting for the bill.
Right? Like that`s -- those two are not separable. You don`t get to like
play cutesy and say, oh, we oppose a filibuster but then they`re going to
vote against the bill to protect themselves. .
I remember Democrats making the exact same argument about Supreme
Court nominee Alito, right, when there was a question. I mean, they --
what`s irremarkable is everyone`s acting like it`s such a big deal they`re
not filibustering. But this has been the M.O. of the Republican party from
the first day the president was sworn in.
LOUIS: Exactly right. I think this gets back to what you were saying
before about the White House strategy, which let`s just make it about the
vote. Because if you win the vote, everything else falls into place.
HAYES: Right, what I love about it is that what it has done is it has
set the precedent for this to unnormalize the filibuster. Right? When we
said that -- when that rousing moment at the State of the Union, it was
about -- what he was talking about was the filibuster and not the content
of the bill.
LOUIS: Look, outside of Beltway strategy. For regular Americans,
that makes all the sense in the world.
HAYES: Of course if makes sense.
LOUIS: And what Isakson just said is actually an honorable position,
which is like, look, I`ll allow you to have a vote and then I`ll tell you
what I think about it. I don`t want the substance of it. Absolutely
normal for most people.
GLAZE: That hadn`t been said before we get too enthusiastic about
Washington being fixed, although I hope that it is, it`s not every day you
get an issue where 90 percent of the public is all asking for the same
thing. So I hope that this is a marking of the beginning of a good trend,
but we`ll see how it goes on other issues that don`t have 90 percent
HAYES: Errol Louis of New York One, Mark Glaze of Mayors Against
Illegal Guns, and in Washington, the great Ryan Grim of "Huffington Post."
We`ll be right back with Click Three.
HAYES: When former NFL player Junior Seau took his life last year,
family members said he killed himself because of the sustained violent
nature of his job. They are not alone. More than 4,000 former players had
a day in court today in a case that could absolutely transform one of
America`s most lucrative industries. That`s coming up.
But first, I want to share the three awesomest things on the Internet
today, beginning with a Click Three update. Last week, we told you about
students at one Georgia high school coming together to organize the
community`s first -- that`s right, first integrated prom. And since every
good prom needs a good band, the Root is pitching and collecting ideas,
asking people to Tweet their fair musician and encourage them to consider
You can join it, too, using the hash tag #PlayIntegratedProm, an
amazing hash tag in 2013.
The second awesomest thing on the Internet today came to us from
twitter fan Grayson Johnson (ph), 73 year old grandma locking her neck to
an excavator in a No Keystone XL blockade. That`s right. Meet Oklahoma
grandmother Nancy Zorn. Ms. Zorn changed herself to an Earth mover in an
attempt to stop construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline`s southern
segment. Ms. Zorn`s environmental bad assery comes on the heels of the
disastrous tar sands pipeline spill in Mayflower, Arkansas.
Ms. Zorn was arrested, but her civil disobedience managed to halt
construction for several hours. She says she hopes her one small action
today will inspire many to protect this land and our water.
And the third awesomest thing on the Internet today, a truly
remarkable and amazing response from my colleague and dear friend, the
great Melissa Harris-Perry. First, a cliffs notes version of what exactly
Melissa is responding to. In her latest Lean Forward ad, Melissa makes the
argument that caring for our children is not just a parent`s job. It`s a
community`s job, as well. It`s an idea that most Americans agree with and
believe in. See also Hillary Clinton`s "It Takes a Village."
Yet to the right wing noise machine, this common sense idea is
tantamount to Maoism. No, no, seriously, I`m not exaggerating. Here`s
Rush Limbaugh giving this measured reaction. "What she is saying here is
as old as Communist genocide."
Even more thoughtful analysis was provided by folks over at Fox.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: MSNBC has declared war on the American fabric.
They`re determined to change our life, our lifestyle, how we think, how we
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She`s passing the buck to Chairman Mao. This is
basically a way to advocate responsibly to the government. It`s the
laziest communism you could ever find.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When you get to be a teenager, what do you do?
You grow up and you turn to the collective and say, I never asked to be
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Melissa responded to the conservative distortions with an
epically measured, generous blog post that read, in part, "of course,
parents can and should raise their children with their own values, but they
should be able to do so in a community that provides safe places to play,
quality food to eat, terrific schools to attend and economic opportunities
to support them. No individual household can do that alone. We have to
build that together."
Amen, Melissa. Haters gonna hate.
You can find all the links for tonight`s Click Three on our website,
AllInWithChris.com. Submit your Click Three nominees on Twitter using the
hash tag #Click3. We`ll be right back.
HAYES: Opening day today in a remarkable lawsuit that could
completely transform how we do professional football, professional sports,
and just how much risk and potential injury we think as a society is
acceptable when doing a job. More than 4,000 former players have filed
concussion related suits against the NFL. And today in a packed federal
court in Philadelphia, in front of former players and their families, a
judge heard arguments from some of the nation`s most high powered attorneys
on whether the suits have the legal merit to go forward.
Before we get to the details of the lawsuit, I want to give you some
context. In 2011, according to preliminary numbers from the U.S. Bureau of
Labor Statistics, a total of 4,609 people died on the job. That same year,
there were 3.6 million non-fatal work related injuries. Day in and day
out, Americans get up and go to jobs where they risk life and limb. And in
historical terms, the risk they take on today is far, far better than the
bad old days before our modern labor laws.
It`s agencies like OSHA, the Occupational Safety and Health
Administration, one of the great accomplishments of our labor laws, that
tends to make sure workers aren`t maimed, killed or disabled because their
employers are looking to cut corners. Though what was at issue today at a
federal court in Philadelphia is what might be one of the most dangerous
workplaces in all of America, the football field.
The complaint of these former players is that they are alleging the
company for which they used to work, the NFL, for years literally looked
the other way and hid the risk of concussions and their long-term affects.
But the pivotal legal argument here is about whether this case should be
even heard in court. The NFL contends that claims that the league hid the
risk of concussions before -- belong before a label arbitrator.
Paul Clement, who just argued before the Supreme Court defending DOMA,
represents the league. And he told U.S. District Judge Anita Brodey that
quote, "this case is at bottom case about workplace safety in an industry
where issues about workplace safety were addressed in collective bargaining
The attorney for the players disagreed and said that when the NFL
began to glorify and monetize violence on the field, it, quote, "breached
its duty of due care." The judge allows the case to go forward, a nine
billion dollar industry stands to be revolutionized. And with it, our
culture`s tacit acceptance of the routine violence that money is made off
Joining me live from Decatur, Georgia, retired Green Bay Packer Dorsey
Levins. He`s also the host and executive producer of the documentary "Bell
Rung, an Alarming Portrait of Professional Football." Dorsey, thank you so
much. And you were in court today. And I want to ask you, as someone who
has joined this suit, how it felt to actually be in court?
DORSEY LEVINS, FORMER NFL PLAYER: It was weird. I`ve only been in
court one other time, as a character witness for a friend. So it was
weird. But it was interesting, too, to hear all the back and forth, all
the information that both sides gave and to hear what the judge had to say.
It was very interesting.
HAYES: I think for a typical NFL fan or even a casual observer of the
sport, when you hear about this lawsuit, there`s an instinct to say, look,
we know just watching, this is a violent game, that you`re taking on risk.
And you`re quite well compensated relative to the median earner. Why
should -- what is there to sue here over? You know what you were getting
into and you got well paid for it. So why should people care about this?
LEVINS: I think the most popular misconception is that we knew what
we were getting into. I think you know going in that it is a violent
sport. It`s a physical contact sport. When you`re done, when you`re
retired, there`s a good chance you may have a limp or you may have some
serious aches and pains or some joints that don`t really work together.
No one knew about any risk about traumatic brain injury or Chronic
Traumatic Encephlopothy. No one knew this. All this information has just
come out in the last year or two. I didn`t find out until I started doing
research for my documentary. That`s when I really started to get worried.
But that information wasn`t readily available. There were risks involved,
but the risks weren`t head injuries. You know, they were physical
ailments, but it wasn`t -- it didn`t jeopardize your quality of life moving
HAYES: So, the next step that you`re alleging in the lawsuit isn`t
that there were these risks to your brain capacity, right, and the risk of
degenerative illness and senility and possible depression and -- that the
league actually knew about that or they tried to make sure you didn`t know
about that. And that seems like an even sharper claim. How do you defend
LEVINS: Well, I ultimately will find out what happens in the
courtroom. But in 1994, the NFL put together a team of doctors, some of
the best in the country, to see if there`s any relationship between
repeated head blows and traumatic brain injury. And they came back and
they categorically denied any relationship whatsoever. What we`re trying
to find out whether or not that`s true. Because common sense says if you
hire the best doctors in the country, you`re going to find something.
But they came back and they didn`t. So what we want to know is if
they did know back in 1994 that there was an issue and if they did know,
why didn`t they tell us? and if they did indeed know, then take care of
the guys who are really hurting right now, who need help and can`t afford
help, or don`t have health insurance and who are suffering. If they knew,
then they should be held accountable and these guys should be taken care
HAYES: I want to read a 2007 NFL memo to players. This is 2007. At
this point, there was quite a bit of brain science about the risk that
concussions can pose. It`s an FAQ, "if I have more than one concussion, am
I increased risk for another injury? Current research with professional
athletes has not shown that having more than one or two concussions leads
to permanent problems if each injury is managed properly. It is important
to understand that there is no magic number for how many concussions is too
Is that the kind of document you`re talking about?
LEVINS: Well, yes, sort of. I mean, it`s still -- all this
information is still relatively new. We still don`t know a lot as to why
some guys, you know, get CTD and they have it really bad and some guys who
have passed on, they`ve had the brain scan and they showed the black cloud
or dust that`s on the brain, which is CTD, and some guys have dementia.
You know, I`ve talked to guys in their early 20s or mid-20s who have
dementia, but there`s the same guys who can live a long, healthy life and
have this CTD and never have any effects.
So we still don`t know why it affects some people and it doesn`t
affect certain people, because we`re all exposed to the same head blows
time and time again. So we`re still trying to figure out exactly -- it`s
not an exact science. So we`re trying to figure out exactly why it happens
to certain people and why some people are OK.
HAYES: Dorsey Levins, thank you so much for joining me.
LEVINS: Thanks for having me.
HAYES: We`ll be right back.
HAYES: Joining the conversation on the NFL concussion lawsuit, Doctor
Teena Shetty, neurologist at the Hospital for Special Surgery and
consulting physician for the New York Giants, Mike Pesca, sports
correspondent for National Public Radio, and Eric Frumin, health and safety
director for the labor federation Change to Win.
Mike, what is the significance of this lawsuit today?
MIKE PESCA, NATIONAL PUBLIC RADIO: The NFL makes money, so money
talks. And if you want to get their attention, sue them for a billion
dollars. So, the NFL would probably say hey, we take our players safety
seriously. Now there are some complex legal issues. So even if the suit
loses on an issue like, you know, this was collectively bargained --
PESCA: The important thing to know is that that doesn`t mean that
concussions aren`t this serious issue. And that analogy I always make is,
yes, that huge cigarette lawsuit won. But remember all the cigarette
lawsuits beforehand that lost? When they were losing, it doesn`t mean that
smoking was a good idea or safe then. So concussions are a big issue.
This is perhaps a symptom of it. And it could take 10 years to settle the
suit, but it really could get the NFL moving and changing on the concussion
HAYES: The irony was that today in court, the NFL`s attorneys were
the ones arguing this is a work issue, this is a labor issue, this is a
workplace safety issue, and so it should be dealt with through the context
of the collective bargaining agreement and put into arbitration. And as
someone who works in the labor movement on these issues, I`ve got to ask
you how that made you feel.
ERIC FRUMIN, CHANGE TO WIN: Well, we know that employers have way too
much power, whether it`s in collective bargaining law or job safety law,
worker`s comp law. And they are very comfortable figuring out how to put a
box around someone else`s problem and get rid of it.
It`s really a stunning commentary on the dangers of our workplaces
today, that we have millions of workers injured, thousands killed every
year, and really no one taking responsibility for them on the employers`
side, so many of them just wanting to push it to the side like these
employers, instead of standing up, taking responsibility and caring about
HAYES: The league would say they are standing up, right, Mike. They
say we`ve changed other things. You as a doctor who is affiliated with the
New York Giants, right, you`re part of policies that have been put in place
in which you are allegedly or said to be providing independent diagnosis of
what is happening to players on the field.
DR. TEENA SHETTY, PHYSICIAN CONSULTING WITH NEW YORK GIANTS: Correct,
yes. And we see changes every year because of these concerns. And we know
that doctors are increasingly focused on these issues. And we are
completely concerned with safeguarding the brains of these players.
HAYES: But the question comes down to can your employer be looking
out for your health? Right, that`s where at, this kind of bedrock place
about this. Is it possible to create a situation in which your employer,
A, can be looking out for your health credibly, and b, when the violence of
the game is part of what is making the money for that employer.
FRUMIN: Look, there`s violence in a lot of workplaces. People lift
up boxes hundreds, thousands of times a day. Their bodies are taking a
beating. They`re running a marathon every day. Truck drivers, warehouse
workers, people do that -- nurses have incredibly high injury rates.
These are like professional athletes. The difference is their employers
are not living up to their responsibilities to prevent these injuries. And
the employers have the same responsibility whether it`s a playing field, a
nursing home or a warehouse.
PESCA: And the NFL talks about things like good, clean hits and
teaching best practices in tackling. But it`s a possibility that the sport
of football might carry with it so many inherent risks that not only is
there no way to eradicate all head injuries -- that`s the argument they
make. But it is quite possible that a significant number of people who
play, no matter what you do, no matter how good the helmets become or much
the rules change, will get these head injuries. And that can threaten the
long-term viability of the sport.
HAYES: Does that --
SHETTY: Eradicating head injury is not right now a realistic goal.
But so our goal is really to provide as much protection and to enforce the
regulations as much as possible, to carefully view each player as an
individual to evaluate them in an unbiased setting, and to decide if this
is -- if it`s really safe for this person to continue to play and if
they`re receiving adequate both mental and physical rest before they`re
actually put on a protocol to even evaluate whether or not they can return
HAYES: And that is a fairly new policy. Right? I mean, it wasn`t
always the case there were these independent physicians who were put in
place who were making these evaluations.
SHETTY: Some of these guidelines have definitely been evolving over
time. So --
PESCA: At the Super Bowl this year, Roger Goodell said we`re going to
have independent neurologists on the field. I was talking to Teena before.
She might be one of them. So that`s new. I`m confident that they`re going
to try to change. I don`t know if some version of perfection or a safe
environment can be achieved. But they are very much trying to change.
HAYES: I`m curious to hear your thoughts on the question that I asked
Dorsey, which is this question about what does a labor contract look like?
When I come and we-- you and I, you`re going to hire me and I`m going to
work for you, and I know it`s going to be a risky job. I`m going to be a
fisherman. Can we show these death rates annually. per 100,000 workers?
They`re crazy. I mean, 121 fishing or related fishing workers, 12 logging
workers per hundred thousand. Those are very dangerous jobs, right?
So the idea is I know what I`m getting into. I`m getting into a
dangerous job. The market price is setting the right price for that risk
and then what happens is what happens. Why is that not the right model?
FRUMIN: There is no market price for the human life. Workers take
the jobs they need to take to feed their families. Most people don`t have
a choice in that matter. You can`t just tell someone, well, you know, we
are hiring you today, but it`s dangerous then go find another job. We`re -
- our society says, you know, theoretically that workers have a right to a
safe job, whatever their job is, whether they`re a roofer, a fisherman.
You have --
FRUMIN: Or linebackers, for that matter. And the tragedy is that too
many employers have decided, you know what, it is really not my
responsibility and I`ll just take my chances.
HAYES: But how do you figure out what the unacceptable level of risk
is, right? That`s the question I think that the league is facing at an
existential level, is this is a -- there are jobs that are dangerous,
right? Being an NFL quarterback is one of them. Where do you cross the
line from it being unacceptably dangerous to acceptably dangerous.
FRUMIN: Well, if it affects me personally, you know what, it`s
unacceptable. If it affects the boss`s kid, it`s unacceptable. It all
comes down to who`s ox is being gored. It doesn`t affect people
personally. We have a lot of bosses who -- like they don`t really think it
affects them personally.
HAYES: Do people view this as a workplace, Mike?
PESCA: They absolutely do. And the thing that you see is that a lot
of current players are saying yeah, it`s acceptable for me, but not for my
HAYES: Dr. Teena Shetty, NPR`s Mike Pesca and Change to Win`s Eric
Frumin, thank you so much.
FRUMIN: Thanks, Chris.
HAYES: That is ALL IN for this evening. And "THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW"
starts right now on time. Good evening, Rachel.
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC ANCHOR: In three, two --
HAYES: Exactly. Boom.
MADDOW: -- temporal precision now, the new MSNBC.
HAYES: Patting myself on the back.
MADDOW: Thank you, man. Thanks, Chris.
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