ALL IN with CHRIS HAYES
May 14, 2013
Guests: Marjorie Cohn, Nicholas Confessore, Lizzie Stark, Rep. Karen Bass
CHRIS HAYES, HOST: Good evening from New York. I`m Chris Hayes. And
thank you for joining us.
All right. President Obama said the IRS should be prepared for a full
investigation after targeting conservative groups. Tonight, we already
have the results of the investigation. I have the report here, right? In
my hot little hands. And it`s a stunning look at an organization and
bureaucracy completely overwhelmed in the aftermath of Citizens United.
Also, I`ll tell you about Angelina Jolie`s brave admission "The New
York Times" and the spotlight it shines on the high costs of affordable
Plus, in #click3, a revelation from Newt Gingrich that is as jaw
dropping as the time he was leading the polls for the Republican
But lest you still not believe that today was a really large, massive,
big, enormous news day, we begin with a rare and remarkable occurrence.
Simultaneous, top level, super newsy press conferences.
This is our air during Andrea Mitchell`s 1:00 p.m. show. As you can
see, they were essentially simulcasting the live White House briefing with
Jay Carney and the press conference being held at the very same moment by
Attorney General Eric Holder.
Andrea did not, of course, have the sound up on both press conferences
at the same time, although that would have been awesome and kind of fun.
You know what? Actually, OK, here`s what it would have been like.
Dueling press conferences. Go.
(VIDEO CLIP PLAYS)
HAYES: All right. That is fun, but also really important.
See, the reason that our network carried both of those press
conferences simultaneously is because everyone was waiting for both the
White House and Justice Department to answer questions on the blockbuster
story that dropped last night when "The Associated Press" revealed the
Justice Department had secretly obtained two entire months of telephone
records of reporters and editors, including incoming and outgoing calls for
both work and personal phone numbers of individual "A.P." reporters,
general "A.P." office numbers in New York, Washington and Hartford,
Connecticut, and the main number for "A.P." reporters at the U.S. House
In a letter to the Justice Department demanding an explanation, "The
A.P." called the spying on its reporters a massive and an unprecedented
intrusion for which there could be no possible justification in which it
considers a serious interference with its constitutional rights.
All right. So, with the a brand new spying on reporter scandal
churning around Washington, suddenly, two of the people we most like to ask
strongly worded questions about that scandal, appeared in front of a TV
camera exactly at the same time. It was almost enough to break cable news.
That`s saying something.
In all simulcast press conference mash up jokes aside, Jay Carney and
Eric Holder may well have been synced up when it came to answers to those
strongly worded questions about spying ion the "A.P." because they said
essentially the same thing. They both denied knowing anything about it.
Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: We are not involved at the
White House in any decisions made in connection with ongoing criminal
investigations, as those matters are handled appropriately by the Justice
ERIC HOLDER, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: I`m not familiar with all that
went into the formulation of the subpoena. I was recused from that matter.
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
MADDOW: OK. Now, I know what you`re thinking. I suspect I know what
you`re thinking because I was thinking the same thing. At first blush,
that sounds -- let`s say it -- ridiculous.
There`s a big Obama Justice Department scandal breaking open, and
neither the White House nor the top guy at the Justice Department knows
anything about it? It just sounds not plausible.
I`m here to tell you it might be true and it were to understand how it
might be that neither the president nor the attorney general knows anything
about this big spy operation, you need to understand what got the big
scandalous spy operation going, and this is a very interesting story,
because it started in May of last year with this scoop from the "A.P." that
the CIA had foiled an al Qaeda suicide bomb plot being planned around the
anniversary of Osama bin Laden`s death.
"The A.P." reported at the time the plot was being orchestrated by an
al Qaeda affiliate in Yemen that involved an upgrade of the underwear bomb
that failed to detonate aboard a jet liner over Detroit on Christmas Day in
2009 and get this -- that the FBI actually had the bomb in its possession,
had managed to get its hands on the bomb and was examining it to see
whether it could have passed through airport security.
"The A.P." did not publish this when it first had the information
because the White House, the CIA asked them not to, because intelligence
operation was still underway. So, "The A.P." holds the story and they
finally report on the thwarted plot only after they learn the White House
itself planned to release the information in a public announcement.
"The A.P.`s" report was published one day ahead of the White House`s
All right. Now, while this all sounded like a good news kind of
story, I mean, they managed to get the bomb, right? The fact "The A.P."
got a hold ahead of time and the CIA was saying the operation was not
incomplete, well, that got Capitol Hill very worried.
Lawmakers from both parties rushed to the microphones as they want to
do to demand investigations, criminal charges and prosecutions in what they
were now calling a leaked case.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I`ve ordered a preliminary review and this has
been a damaging leak. We shouldn`t underestimate what really happened
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The FBI has to do a complete investigation because
this is really criminal in the literal sense of the word to leak out this
type of sensitive, classified information on really almost unparalleled
penetration of the enemy.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The leak, I think, has to be prosecuted. So the
investigation is being done. Hopefully, it can be concluded and criminal
charges will go to the Department of Justice.
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
HAYES: So, it appears the Justice Department looks like they followed
that, that call for investigation. Investigate, they did.
When Eric Holder said he`d recused himself this morning, that is what
he meant because as someone who actually knew the information that had been
leaked, he knew about this plot that ended up in "The A.P.", he, himself,
was being investigated as a potential leaker.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HOLDER: I had been interviewed by the FBI in connection with this
matter and to avoid a potential appearance of a potential conflict of
interest and to make sure the investigation was seen as independent, I
recused myself from this matter. This matter is therefore, there after
been conducted by the U.S. attorney in Washington, D.C., under the
supervision of duty attorney general. The deputy attorney general would
have been the one who had to ultimately authorize the subpoena that went to
(EDN VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: So, when Eric Holder said this morning he wasn`t familiar with
his own Justice Department`s reasoning in secretly grabbing the personal
and cell phone records of "Associated Press" reporters, he meant he wasn`t
familiar with that reasoning by design, because this guy, the deputy
attorney general, James Cole, is in charge of the leak investigation.
Mr. Cole in fact responded to "The A.P." scathing letter today,
shedding at least some light on his decision-making process, quote, "The
Department undertook a comprehensive investigation including other
investigative steps, conducting over 550 interviews and reviewing tens of
thousands of documents before seeking the phone records at issue."
So, Eric Holder and apparently 549 of his closest friends have been
questioned as part of this leak investigation, all before the deputy
attorney general took to secretly seizing reporter`s phone records for two
The Justice Department, even thought it is part of the executive
branch, is one of those agencies from which we expect a level of
independence from the White House, right? I mean, we don`t want to
president deciding for instance who should and shouldn`t be criminally
indicted. That`s a really important principle.
Our nation`s biggest moments of abuse of presidential power have come
when that separation was violated and it is possible that was the case
here. And if so, it is a massive and huge scandal.
But that is not what it looks like at this early stage. Right now,
based on what we know, what we found out today, my big question is less
what did the White House know and more what the heck was James Cole
thinking and is this legal? And is he really allowed to do this?
Joining me tonight from Washington, Michael Isikoff, NBC News national
And in San Diego, Marjorie Cohn, former president of the National
Lawyers Guild. She`s professor at Thomas Jefferson School of Law.
Michael, I want to begin with you. What do we know today that we
didn`t know last night in terms of the circumstances of this, in terms of
who was doing this and how it came about?
MICHAEL ISIKOFF, NBC NEWS INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT: Well, first of
all, we know that Attorney General Holder did recuse himself. We know that
James Cole oversaw this investigation, the deputy attorney general, not
somebody most people know about that.
And we know that little snippet that you read from Cole`s letter to
"The A.P." which I thought was so revealing -- 550 interviews, tens of
thousands of documents. What it suggests is they really don`t know who the
leaker is and not being able to find the leaker, they issued this dragnet
fishing expedition subpoena for "The A.P.", covering offices where over 100
journalists work, eight different offices, cell phones, home phone numbers
I could be wrong, but what it sounds like is an act of desperation to
find something that they weren`t able to find through standard
investigative techniques. And --
HAYES: Well -- yes?
ISIKOFF: I just want to make this one point. What`s distinctive
about this subpoena, from other examples where they have gotten the phone
records of reporters is just how broad it is. It`s not narrowly focused as
the guidelines say. It is not -- it doesn`t seem aimed at finding a
specific leak from one report, from one source to one journalist. It`s
let`s look at everything hoping we can find something.
HAYES: Right. And Jim Cole says in his letter, oh, yes, don`t worry.
Don`t worry. This went by the guidelines at the department, be narrow and
the focused, and "The A.P." wrote a response, bro, not true. Like check
out what you told us about. There`s a huge amount of information you
Marjorie, here`s my question for you. I want you to talk me through
the law at issue here starting with just this basic question. OK? Before
we get to the First Amendment issue.
The government subpoenaed phone records from the phone company. Can
the government just do that when they want to see the phone records of
MARJORIE COHN, THOMAS JEFFERSON SCHOOL OF LAW: Well, no. I mean,
they have to have probable cause to believe that a crime has been committed
and under the regulations, which hark back to the Watergate days and were
actually passed in light of Watergate, it`s important -- it`s necessary to
negotiate with the reporter, to pursue less drastic alternatives than
actually a subpoena.
And the only time that a subpoena can be issued to subpoena the phone
records of a journalist is when the assistant attorney general decides that
it might pose a substantial threat to the integrity of the investigation to
negotiate and let the reporter know they`re investigating.
But the attorney general has to sign off on this. Now, evidently, the
attorney general recused himself. So, now, the deputy attorney general has
signed off on it, which may also violate the regulations.
But bottom line is do we trust them? Do we -- but the secrecy, the
extreme secrecy of the Obama administration that we`ve seen violations of
civil liberties, which leads to these whistleblowers and leaks to inform
the public about what`s happening, do we trust them to actually follow this
loophole in the regulation that says that there`s a substantial threat and
could be a substantial threat --
HAYES: Let me translate that slowly. Hold on a second.
So, what we`re seeing is the Department of Justice says, look, there`s
a kind of heightened status of First Amendment operations for the press,
right? You don`t want to go around subpoenaing reporter`s records, because
that really poses some First Amendment problems, right? I can`t be a
reporter, I can`t do my constitutional duty if every source I talk to is
worried that the FBI is listening on the other line or getting their phone
number and call records, right?
So, in order to clear that bar, here`s what you got to do. You`ve got
to go through X, Y and Z steps. And one of those steps is, you`ve got to
go to the press outlet and say, hey, can we negotiate a way for us to look
at some stuff?
They never did that because there`s a loophole as you just called it,
Marjorie, in the regulation saying, if it will threaten the investigation,
then you don`t have to do that. And I thought it was so interesting today
that even though Holder was distancing himself from this, he said I recused
myself. He basically defended the decision that his deputy made.
Take a listen to what he says about this leak and the leak
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HOLDER: This was a very -- a very serious leak, and a very, very
serious leak. I`ve been a prosecutor since 1976 and I`d have to say that
this is not among, if not the most serious, it`s top two or three most
serious leaks that I`ve seen. It put the American people at risk, and that
is not hyperbole. It put the American people at risk.
And trying to determine who is responsible for that, I think required
very aggressive action.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Marjorie, what`s your response? They say, look, this was a
really big deal and this is what we had to do.
COHN: Well, everything is a big deal to the Obama administration when
it comes to leaks and whistleblowers. I mean, keep in mind that this
administration has indicted more so-called -- indicted in these leak
investigations, more people than all prior administrations combined.
We have Bradley Manning, who revealed war crimes. We have Julian
Assange, who`s been investigated. They would like to indict him. We have
John Kiriakou who is an ex-CIA official who is serving 30 months now for
giving information about the Bush torture policy.
And when Holder decided to investigate this leak about the Yemen
incident back in June, he also evidently, reportedly, opened investigations
on two other matters, first of all, when McClatchy revealed that the Obama
administration`s claims that it was only targeting with the drone attacks
on the basically assassinating high level leaders that posed imminent
threats, that that was false. McClatchy revealed that was false and, in
fact, lots of low level people had been targeted as well. And also,
apparently, these investigating during this same time period David Sanger`s
report in "The New York Times" --
HAYES: Right, on Stuxnet in Iran. So, there has been --
COHN: Cyber attacks on the --
HAYES: There have been a wide array of these investigations.
COHN: These incidents as well.
Michael, is there -- is there political traction for this? It`s
interesting to me as we look at these scandals rotating around Washington,
this seems to have less political traction, because lots of Republicans
were calling for the head of whoever leaked this in the fist place.
ISIKOFF: Right, but that hasn`t stopped Republicans today from saying
that they are concerned about what the Justice Department has done. Holder
is scheduled to testify tomorrow morning before the House Judiciary
HAYES: Yes, we`ll have more that.
ISIKOFF: I spoke with Chairman Goodlatte this afternoon and says he
has some, a lot of questions for the attorney general. He was very
concerned about the broad breadth of this subpoena.
Michael Mukasey, the former attorney general under President Bush,
said he had real concerns about this subpoena, thought it was a way too
So, look, there`s inevitably going to be politics, but you got to say,
look, the timing of this for the Obama administration was not good, coming
on top of the IRS scandal --
HAYES: It may get buried because Washington has a real instinct for
the trivial over the substantive.
Michael Isikoff of NBC News and Marjorie Cohn of Thomas Jefferson
School of Law -- thank you so much.
COHN: Thank you.
HAYES: All right. We now have a full report from the treasury
inspector general on the revelations that the IRS targeted conservative
groups. I`ll have the details, next.
HAYES: An update tonight on a story we`ve been following. The
premature closing of the Buena Vista Schools in Saginaw, Michigan, because
the district just ran out of money.
Last night, we told you about the plan to start a voluntary skills
enhancement camp instead of reopening school. A source close to the
controversy told ALL IN the state can`t backtrack fast enough on this day
camp idea. Now, they are working to get the schools open ASAP, apparently
for the remainder of the year. They took a beating in the press yesterday
and they now realize the whole camp idea is a PR nightmare. Well, yes,
yes, it is, Michigan.
We will continue to follow the story on the show and on our Web site,
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CARNEY: He had no tolerance for targeting of specific group,
conservative groups, if the reporting is true on this.
REPORTER: The president did use the word if these activities are
taking place. But there has been an acknowledgment on the part of IRS
leadership that these things did indeed occur. So I wonder why the
president used that phrasing.
CARNEY: What we have to do, responsively, is wait for the independent
inspector general`s report to be released before we assess next steps.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: That was White House Press Secretary Jay Carney who took a
grilling from the press this afternoon, talking about how the president was
waiting for the much talked about and anticipated treasury inspector
general`s report to come out before the inspector general decided what to
do next. That`s recording the malfeasance in which the agency admitted
that its staff in Cincinnati improperly targeted conservative groups
applying for tax exempt status.
Well, tonight, that report is out. It was released a couple of hours
ago and it blames, quote, "ineffective management for the Internal Revenue
Service`s political targeting of conservative groups." It also states the
IRS began using inappropriate criteria to identify organizations applying
for tax-exempt status to review for indications of significant political
Now, in its entirety, the report is also a fascinating document that
lays out how the IRS in the wake of the Citizens United decision, has been
put in the position of trying to decide who is and who is not a primarily
political actor. And how the agency is left flailing to decide if a given
organization qualifies for tax-exempt status.
Joining me tonight, Nicholas Confessore, political reporter for "The
New York Times", who has done the best reporting, some of the best
reporting on dark money in politics, has a fantastic piece in "The Times"
today about the context of this, which I want to talk about.
But first, all right, you and I both read this report. We`ve had a
long series of tweet and it is -- I mean, saying like, oh, my God, this
Treasury, IRS inspector general report is fascinating, it sounds
ridiculous. But it is really fascinating.
NICHOLAS CONFESSORE, REPORTER, NEW YORK TIMES: Well, it`s fascinating
if you`ve been watching this process from the outside, with little hints of
what`s happening and how it works. And then, finally, you have 54 pages of
here`s how it worked, here`s what happened, and it`s like peering into the
recesses of the most secretive agency that isn`t involved in intelligence
in the government.
HAYES: So, here, I want to just set the table for folks and then I
want to hear what you found what you`ve learned from this report. And the
table is just the one I sat yesterday. Citizens United says corporations
can spend out of their general treasury on political advertising in a
CONFESSORE: That`s right.
HAYES: Corporations aren`t just ExxonMobil, right? There are non-
profits as well.
And so, there are a bunch of people that incorporate as 501(c)(4)s,
which is the kind of tax-exempt organizations, that are social welfare
HAYES: But are going to be getting a lot of ads in, in the political
CONFESSORE: That`s right.
HAYES: And don`t have to disclose their donors.
And so, all of a sudden, the question is, wait a second, these things
that say they`re 501(c)(4)s and aren`t primarily political are also going
to do all these political stuff, the IRS has to say, what is the standard?
What do you learn about what exactly the IRS is supposed to do when faced
with this very genuinely difficult definitional question?
These people say they`re going to be a social welfare organization.
They`re also clearly political. Which side of the line do they fall on?
CONFESSORE: Here`s the main thing I learned from this. The people in
Cincinnati who are charged with looking at the applications and deciding if
a C4 group is going to do permissible political activity, don`t themselves
understand the IRS rules for what is permissible political activity. It`s
right there in their report.
Now, it`s not totally surprising. I`m not going to go --
HAYES: No, I mean, literally, it said in the report, we don`t know.
CONFESSORE: In their report, it says, there`s a bunch of accountants
in Cincinnati, and the lawyers are in D.C. and the guys in Cincinnati
aren`t totally sure what C4s are allowed to do.
Now, I`m not a lawyer and if I`m ever writing a story about this
stuff, I call like 10 lawyers just to make sure I`m not making a mistake
and I still make a mistake. That appears to be a lot of what happened
here. These guys just didn`t -- people actually processing at the ground
level these applications didn`t really know what was OK and was not OK.
And then they go and they ask all these questions that are totally
irrelevant to the processing of an application for tax exemption. Who are
your donors? Give us a list of all the people -- of other organizations
you`ve worked with.
HAYES: Your spouses.
CONFESSORE: To a layperson, you can understand, OK, I guess it goes
to how you figure out, you know, what kind of political activity they`re
involved in. But it doesn`t go to their job, which is, are you doing the
right thing to get tax exemption?
HAYES: Right. And they are -- and you made this point today. You
said they`re not -- they`re a collection agency, not a regulator.
CONFESSORE: This is a tax collection agency.
HAYES: Their job is to get the dollars rolling in.
Quickly, this is a passage from the I.G. report. We asked the acting
commissioner -- tax-exempt governor, (INAUDIBLE) division -- director,
executive and determinations unit personnel if the criteria, this is when
they start saying, like, oh, Tea Party, patriot, you get heightened
If the criteria were influenced by any organization outside the IRS,
all these officials stated the criteria were not influenced by any
individual organization outside the IRS.
That seems to say this is not something coming top down. This is not
calls from the White House. This is something that is happening in this
CONFESSORE: Right. I mean, we should probably say there are a couple
more investigations to come. Who knows what we`ll find out? Well,
according to this report.
HAYES: This is not definitive, right?
CONFESSORE: According to this report, a couple of line employees in
Cincinnati decided you know what? This will be a great way to figure out
if groups are doing permissible activity. Let`s search for the ones that
have Tea Party in the name.
And then, even worse, when the head of the entire part of the IRS does
exempt organizations, said, guys, that`s crazy, you can`t do that, and made
them change it, they went around behind her back and she didn`t figure it
out for three months. And then they went back and forth a couple of more
times and finally, after something like two years, came up with a
consistent set of standards that was more or less compatible with IRS
rules, as had the judge on these things.
HAYES: And we should just put the context here. In 2010, there were
about 1,700 applications for this kind of status. 2012, 1,700. By 2012,
it jumped a thousand. It was up to 2,774.
So they are seeing a real rising tide of these applications as the
election is coming in.
Finally, you wrote a great piece in "The Times" today in which you put
this in context, and you basically said, look, here`s the craziest thing
about this whole thing. These little groups that didn`t have much money
were getting really raked over the coals while the biggest groups that were
spending millions of dollars by Karl Rove and Bill Burton, you know,
Republican/Democratic strategists that we all knew were doing primary
politics, not a thing happened to them.
CONFESSORE: That`s right. I mean, we should say we`re not sure if
anything happens to them because an actual audit when the IRS says this is
not good can take six years. Karl Rove`s organization was two and a half
years old, three years old, let`s say. It could be five more years until
we know if the IRS thinks they`re (INAUDIBLE) or whatever.
But all of these basically are mom and pop groups that the Manassas
Tea Party of Virginia, or some local county group are getting dumped on
here, and they`re these big groups that spent, that are in the FEC records,
spending hundreds of millions of dollars on political campaign ads. The
purest kind of election intervention we can do --
HAYES: And we all know, you guys reporters, like we all know what
Karl Rove is up to and they`re doing.
Nick Confessore, political reporter for "The New York Times" -- thank
you so much.
CONFESSORE: Thanks, Chris.
HAYES: Coming up, I`ll tell you why everyone loves a scandal,
especially around this time of year.
Stay with us.
HAYES: Here is today`s breaking news in the Benghazi scandal -- I put
scandal in quotation marks. All right, here`s the breaking news; ready?
Never mind everything we`ve been saying for four days. No, seriously.
Remember the big White House talking point e-mail revelations that had the
media in full on Benghazi frenzy?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The Obama administration on the defensive after
ABC News obtained e-mails showing extensive edits to the disputed talking
points issued after the attack.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: ABC`s Jonathan Carl obtained 12 different edits
to talking points that were the basis for the administration`s misleading
message after four Americans were killed by Muslim terrorists.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We now have the documents. We have the e-mails.
This is clear.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And we know now that it was a document completely
ran through by the White House and the State Department, reflecting all
their objections. And the bottom line is that, in the end, they redacted
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: All right, that fire sound was about a set of e-mails about
talking points that were shown to Congressional staffers, OK? I just want
to make sure we`re clear on this. Those staffers then took notes,
paraphrased those notes and discussed them with a reporter.
Well, today, we have one of the actual e-mails from Deputy National
Security Ben Rhodes, thanks to a great scoop by Jake Tapper. All right,
here`s what he wrote: "there is a ton of wrong information getting out into
the public domain from Congress and people who are not particularly
informed. Insofar as we have firmed up assessments that don`t compromise
intel or the investigation, we need to have the capability to correct the
record as there are significant policy and messaging ramifications that
would flow from a hardened misimpression. We can take this up tomorrow
morning at deputies," deputies being a meeting of deputies.
The story on Friday was that the White House was nefariously figuring
out how to dupe the public. This e-mail from Rhodes shows the White House
saying essentially, hey, it`s really hard to know what`s going on right
now. There`s a lot of misinformation being spread and a lot of different
agencies have a stake in what is to be said. Let`s all get together and
see what we can agree on.
Now, you might ask yourself -- and in fact, I am asking myself why am
I talking about an e-mail about a talking point? No, I mean that
seriously. Tell me, why am I on national television talking about this
right now, about emails about talking points? Because believe me, I don`t
want to be. I really don`t want to be.
And here is the answer. This chart, posted by Nate Silver, shows
Google searches for political news around the low end of where they`ve been
over the last nine years. I`ve talked with bloggers and web editors about
the incredible traffic drop off on website. I`ve even heard cable news is
experiencing something similar.
It is under these conditions that scandals explode. Political
scientist Brendan Nihan (ph) offers great analysis, writing "new scandals
are likely to emerge when the president is unpopular among opposition party
identifiers." Nihan also found that media scandals are less likely to
emerge as pressure from other news stories increases.
In other words, when there`s a lot going on in the news politically,
scandals are unlikely; when there`s not a lot of political news, well, you
get the point. And Nihan adds, Obama is in his second term, which is when
scandals are most likely to take place.
So there you have it. Republicans don`t like the president. There`s
an empty news cycle. The president is in his second term. We`ve got the
perfect storm. In fact, it is predetermined that reporting on an overblown
scandal is what the media are going to be doing.
Of course, these conditions don`t excuse what the IRS has done to Tea
Party groups. These conditions do not excuse the outrageous overreach by
the DOJ in what they did to the A.P. Both of those stories should get the
media`s full attention and scrutiny. That`s why we`ve been covering them.
Yet, it is still worth noting that now that we are dealing with an
empty news cycle, we are also getting stories about emails about talking
points, when there is actual scandalous news out there. You know what, in
fact, you want scandalous? How about this? This is my nominee.
Efrain Rios Montt, the ruler of Guatemala in the early 1980s. On a
Friday, he was found guilty of genocide. He oversaw the slaughter of
nearly 2,000 indigenous people, men, women and children. A Guatemalan
court yesterday ordered the government to apologize for these atrocities.
It`s a horrific, terrible story.
Of course, no one pays attention to the story of a murderous dictator
named Rios Montt in a place like Guatemala, unless -- oh, I don`t know --
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RONALD REAGAN, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I know that
President Rios Montt is a man of great personal integrity and commitment.
I know he wants to improve the quality of life for all Guatemalans and to
promote social justice. My administration will do all it can to support
his progressive efforts.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: He`s talking about a guy that tried to extinguish an
indigenous people. So Fox, you want to take it from here? We`ll be right
back with Click Three.
HAYES: Actress Angelina Jolie is being applauded for the admission
she made today in an incredible "New York Times" op-ed. But what she wrote
about raises a lot of questions about women`s health and whether
preventative care is only available to those who can afford it. That`s
But first, I want to share the three awesomest things on the Internet
today, beginning with former presidential candidate Newt Gingrich`s puzzle.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NEWT GINGRICH, FORMER HOUSE SPEAKER: We`re really puzzled. Here at
Gingrich Productions, we spent weeks trying to figure out what do you call
this. Think about it. It`s taking pictures. It`s not a cell phone. Yet
you can get Wikipedia or go to Google. That`s not a cell phone. Think
about it. This device is something new and different. I`ve been cling it
a hand held computer.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: No, this is not some clever Newtonian joke. The man who ran
for the nation`s highest office, the man who said he would challenge
President Obama to seven Lincoln/Douglas style debates can`t figure out
what to call this device because it does so many other things.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GINGRICH: Now, we`ve been here before. When we first developed the
automobile, it was called the horseless carriage. And it took a little
while to get a new word for it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Yes, Newt, we`ve figured out a name for it, the automobile.
Just as we have for years now called those things smartphones. For the man
who seemed so tech savvy as Speaker failed to even acknowledge the term
smartphone in his nearly three minute portentous spiel.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GINGRICH: Please leave a comment. What would you call this? So that
we could explain to people --
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Please stop it. You`re killing me. Also, you can use it to
take pictures of your feet, FYI.
The second awesomest thing on the Internet today, a commonplace
problem, writ large. From Twitter fan Barbara Smith, "Florida DOT shortens
yellow light time below Fed min and doubles revenues for red light ticks."
It links to what at first appears to be a standard local news package from
WTSP, 10 News, Tampa Bay, Florida.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You won`t believe what we found, proof of
intentionally shortening the length of yellow lights. And that of course
creates more tickets.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: A state agency allowed localities to shorten the yellow light
by fractions of a second, pumping up revenue from automated red light
cameras by 50 million dollars last year.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I never thought of such a thing, that I was
doing anything wrong.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: OK, from there, it evolved into a great seven-minute
investigative piece explaining how yellow light times are normally
calculated to the revenue stream and why legislative efforts to tighten
yellow light times might be failing because of that perpetual pot of gold,
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why? You can thank red light camera company
American Traffic Solutions. Ten News found they`ve donated more than half
a million dollars to political campaigns in Florida alone, and upwards of a
million dollars lobbying.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Check out the whole piece and drive slowly when you`re in
And the third awesomest thing on the Internet today, rise of the
machine. From "Mother Jones`" Kevin Drum, computers may not kill us, but
they`ll take our jobs. The rate at which computers have been gaining on
the human brain has been exponential. And by 2025, they are here,
something close to artificial intelligence. There. And they won`t just
beat us at chess, says Drum. They will increasingly take our jobs. Robots
will outnumber human beings sometime in the 2030s. Worker displacement and
income inequality could be worse than even before.
All hope is not lost, though. We must be adequately prepared if this
guy comes around.
You can find links for all of tonight`s Click Three on our website,
AllInWithChris.com. We`ll be right back.
HAYES: Today, we saw an amazing and courageous and just really
gracefully written op-ed in "the New York Times" by actress Angelina Jolie.
Under the title "My Medical Choice," Jolie explains her decision earlier
this year to undergo a preventative double mastectomy, having both of her
breasts removed to minimize her risk of getting breast cancer later in
life. Her decision to opt for the multiple surgeries came after she
underwent genetic testing and discovered she had the BRCA1 gene, which
greatly increases the risk of getting both breast and ovarian cancer.
Jolie`s mother died after a long battle with ovarian cancer at just
the age of 56. And Jolie writes about her children asking if the disease
that killed their grandmother could affect her. "They`ve asked if the same
could happen to me. And I`ve always told them not to worry. But the truth
is I carry a faulty gene."
She says doctors told her she had an 87 percent risk of breast cancer
and a 50 percent risk of ovarian cancer. Earlier this year, Jolie began
three months of surgeries, including reconstruction, and says she now faces
a dramatically lower risk, from 87 percent to under five percent.
She writes "I can tell my children that they don`t need to fear they
will lose me to breast cancer. It is reassuring that they see nothing that
makes them uncomfortable. They can see my small scars and that`s it.
Everything else is just mommy, the same as she always ways. And they know
that I love them and will do anything to be with them as long as I can."
"On a personal note, I do not feel any less of a woman. I feel
empowered that I`ve made a strong choice that in no way diminishes my
It`s an extremely brave admission. And this type of genetic testing
is amazingly expensive. But Jolie hopes her op-ed will lead to more women
with a family history and the means to get tested. "Today, it is possible
to find out through a blood test whether you are highly susceptible to
breast and ovarian cancer, and then take action."
Now, most women`s experiences do not make it into the "New York
Times." But in her decision to get tested and take preventative action,
Angelina Jolie is not unique. Experts estimate there has been as much as a
50 percent rise in the surgeries in recent years, meaning more and more
women armed with genetic information are making the decision to undergo
major invasive surgery now to minimize their risk of cancer later.
When we come back, I`ll speak with a journalist who found herself in
the same circumstances as Angelina Jolie, and with a congressman who is
working to do something about this issue.
HAYES: We`re talking about Angelina Jolie`s revelation that she went
a preventive double mastectomy earlier this year. Joining me tonight,
Congressman Karen Bass, Democrat from California, who worked as a physician
assistant for nearly a decade. And here at the table, Lizzie Stark,
journalist and author of the forthcoming book, "Pandora`s DNA, How the
Breast Cancer Gene Changed Everything."
Lizzie underwent a preventative double mastectomy at age 27. to have
you both here. And Lizzie, I want to begin with you. Having gone through
this, reading the op-ed today, what was your take away? What is your
reaction to it?
LIZZIE STARK, JOURNALIST: Well, first of all, I just really feel for
anybody who has to make this decision, make the call to have a preventative
double mastectomy. So my first reaction was sympathy. I also think that
it`s great. It`s going to be great for women who are thinking about
testing for the gene. This raises awareness about hereditary breast
cancer. And it can help women decide whether taking the gene test is right
for them, of course, in consultation with a genetic counselor or doctor.
And then I also really liked what she said about not losing her
femininity. I think that`s a really important message, not just for women
who have had a preventive double mastectomy, but for many women who have
had a mastectomy, that there is life after mastectomy.
HAYES: You found yourself in the position, you had -- you -- you did
genetic testing. You found that you had this. I should be clear, I was
slightly erroneous before. It`s a mutation on that gene. Everyone has
that gene. It`s a mutation, a fairly rare mutation.
I just can`t imagine what -- what goes through your head in making
that decision? It seems like the starkest kind of risk management for an
individual to face.
STARK: Well, there`s the decision to test and then there`s the
decision about what to do about the results that you get. For me, I come
from a family with a lot of cancer in it. My mother had cancer at 30. Her
mother had cancer in her 30s, and again in her 40s and then ovarian cancer
in her 50s. And both of her sisters died of cancer, one quite young, in
her early 30s with breast cancer. The other one survived breast cancer to
die horribly of ovarian cancer. So I think that`s one thing that --
HAYES: It was just so stark looking around your family.
STARK: Yes. Every woman on my mother`s side of the family has either
had her breasts taken off voluntarily or because she`s had cancer. So when
you have that kind of odds, it really does feel like cancer`s coming for
you and that you have to be extra cautious.
HAYES: Congresswoman, I couldn`t help but note that 3,000 dollars is
the cost for just the genetic testing that would -- that Angelina Jolie
underwent and that Lizzie underwent. That is a lot of money. That is not
something a lot of people can afford. And it`s not necessarily covered by
REP. KAREN BASS (D), CALIFORNIA: Well, absolutely. And let me just
say to your guests, you know, I really think she`s very brave and I really
appreciate her coming forward and talking about this. When I watched the
news this morning, the first thing that came to my mind, I have to say, is
that I lost two maternal aunts to breast cancer. And I was like, wow,
maybe I could get that test.
At 3,000 dollars, that`s just the screen. Then you`re talking about
the mastectomy and then most important for women is the reconstructive
surgery that comes afterward. And I am sure that that really is a barrier
in three areas, the cost of the screen, the surgery and then the
So to me, as we move forward implementing health care reform, I really
want to look forward to the day that all women have access to this test, to
the surgery and to the reconstruction that happens afterwards.
STARK: It may be worth noting that my test was not 3,000 dollars,
because they tested my mother first, and so instead of having to sequence
my entire gene, they only had to look for the part that -- they only had to
look to see if my mutation was the same as her mutation.
HAYES: This is a really interesting statistic on this: white women
are almost five times more likely to undergo BRCA12 counseling than
African-American women. So there`s a massive racial disparity. That
massive racial disparity also reflected in the fact that black women have a
41 percent higher mortality rate and lower incidence rate than white women
from 2005 to 2009.
So there`s some real equity issues around this. There`s also this --
I mean, this to me is the most striking aspect of this. There is a single
company that owns this gene. And if that -- it sounds like I`m
misspeaking, I am not. There is a single company, even though they did not
make this gene -- evolution made this gene. Miriad Genetics has patented
the gene. They have claimed that they can patent this gene.
A district court told them that`s crazy. An appeals court said, no,
no, you can It has been argued before the Supreme Court. We will find out
soon. But this is really something, that this technology is right now in
the hands of one company, Lizzie.
STARK: Yeah, that it`s incredibly extraordinary. I`m really looking
forward to seeing what the Supreme Court decides this June. My
understanding is what Miriad is the genetic sequence and isolation.
They`re arguing that you can`t patent things out in nature, so they haven`t
patented a whole string of DNA. They`ve just patented the specific cancer
causing mutations on the specific gene.
HAYES: And that`s a real question, whether they can do that.
Congresswoman, this is a case I think you`ve been following closely.
BASS: Right, absolutely it is. And it`s a case that we`re also
following in the Judiciary Committee, to see what the outcome will be. You
know, again, you would think that something that would save lives in such a
manner really should be opened up, and there should be access to everyone.
You know, it`s difficult when you`re thinking about a disease that you
would hold on to a patent for X number of years before you provide access
to the general public. I think it`s something that we should address in
HAYES: There`s been a big question -- and Lizzie, you`re researching
this. How much are we going to see this increase over time? We`ve already
seen a huge amount of increase. Are we going to see an explosion in this
kind of testing? And are we going to see testing in all sorts of other
areas like this?
STARK: I think so. We`re learning more about genetic causes of
disease every day, is my impression. There aren`t just genes for breast
cancer. There are genes that can raise your risk of Alzheimer`s or of
colon cancer or of -- I mean, or or or or or. So I think that what we`re
seeing now with BRCA women is going to become much more widespread. I
think this is part of the future of medicine. And it`s complicated and
it`s uncertain. And that`s one of the really problematic things about
HAYES: So the first person experience of Angelina Jolie, I thought
laid out very movingly today, that you yourself have experienced and had to
act on -- looking down the barrel of genetic probability is something I
think a lot of us are going to be experiencing for ourselves.
Author and journalist Lizzie Stark and Congresswoman Karen Bass, thank
you both so much.
That is ALL IN for this evening. "THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW" starts now.
Good evening, Rachel.
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