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PoliticsNation, Thursday, June 13th, 2013

Read the transcript from the Thursday show

June 13, 2013

Guests: John Burris; Faith Jenkins; Hank Johnson, Lena Taylor, Lauren Ashburn, Michelle Ebanks

REVEREND AL SHARPTON, MSNBC ANCHOR: Tonight`s lead, the tricky
business of picking an impartial jury. Day four of jury selection, and
there are big developments in the state of Florida versus George Zimmerman.

Lawyers questioned ten potential jurors today. So far 75 people have
been rejected out of a toll jury pool of 500. It`s clear that many people
have at least some knowledge of the case. Keep in mind lawyers have just
ten peremptory challenges each that they can use. That means that they can
dismiss up to ten potential jurors without giving any reason. After that,
they must request someone not serve on the jury, and the judge must agree.

Today, with the stakes so high and the challenges so few, lawyers
again and again peppered potential jurors with questions about what they
knew about the high profile case. And whether they could be fair and

In one gripping exchange, lawyers closely questioned one woman for an
hour. She said she thought Mr. Zimmerman was innocent because of what she
had seen on the news about Trayvon Martin.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I knew that -- that he was learning how to be a
street fighter.



RIONCA: And where did you come to that conclusion?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Just from the news.

RIONCA: What news? Do you remember specifically saying that Trayvon
was learning to be a street fighter?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, nobody directly said that. It was just
pictures that they had shown.

RIONCA: Which pictures?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I saw pictures of him refereeing a fight.


SHARPTON: Could this be an impartial juror? As of this hour, we
don`t know if she is still part of the jury pool, or if she has been taken

On the other hand, some potential jurors had misgivings about Mr.


RIONCA: The question is, and I think you answered the question, if
you have not formed an opinion at this time whether he is in terms of the
guilt or innocence of Mr. Zimmerman, that correct?


RIONCA: Yes, sir.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Nobody can take nobody life.


SHARPTON: Given how much publicity this case has received, it`s a
dramatic time in the courtroom as lawyers try to pick this jury. Also
today, the judge announced she will sequester the jury once it`s seated. A
huge decision. We`ll talk about what it means for the trial.

Joining me now is former criminal prosecutor Faith Jenkins, NBC news
legal analyst Lisa Bloom, and criminal defense attorney John Burris.

Thank you all for joining me tonight.



SHARPTON: Faith, let me start with you. We just heard one juror who
talked about street fighting. Isn`t this an example of a juror being
shaped by what she is seeing in the media?

JENKINS: Absolutely, because a part of e defense strategy was to
release information about Trayvon that would never get put out in front of
the juries at trial because their message is Trayvon is not only the
initial aggressor, but he is just an all around bad individual, and
therefore George Zimmerman was justified in killing him. And you can see
from this one woman`s comments, she actually incorporated that into an
opinion she formed about Trayvon and the trap. She is not going to be on
this jury. She is not going to be fair. She is not going to be impartial.
I think they will remove her for cause.

SHARPTON: John Burris, let me play something to you. We heard this
jury that Faith is referring to. Talk about Trayvon Martin street

Now, three weeks ago, George Zimmerman`s attorney Mark O`Mara went on
FOX News and said something similar. Watch this.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE REPORTER: He was a potentially violent guy who
had some past violent episodes. What do the texts show, in your view?

MARK O`MARA, GEORGE ZIMMERMAN`S LAWYER: Well, Trayvon was 17-years-
old, and it seems from the text messages that he involved himself in some
street fighting.


SHARPTON: Now, John, does it strike you that this jury used the same
phrase that O`Mara used and we had never heard of street fighting connected
to Trayvon until that interview we just heard O`Mara do on FOX? Never came
up about Trayvon before that.

JOHN BURRIS, FORMER PROSECUTOR: Well, certainly no coincidence. And
what it means is that the defendant`s strategy of releasing this
information and trying to prejudice the jury pool against Trayvon worked,
at least as it worked in relation to this particular juror. And the
concern is how many other jurors has it worked. And so it was a definitive
strategy that was employed. At the end, more recent accounts, and so the
defendant certainly has laid the groundwork for polluting the jury pool in
the sense of turning them against Trayvon at the very outset. This is an
unfortunate chain of events, but that`s how this case is being tried.

SHARPTON: Now Lisa, we don`t know if she is on the jury or not, but
what is your take on this?

BLOOM: I`m shocked that the judge spent an hour with this woman.
When I`m picking a jury and somebody says at the outset I`ve already made
up my mind about the case, I usually just give a little glance over to the
judge. The judge says you`re dismissed, and that`s the end of it. She has
already reached a decision. She is not qualified to be a juror in this
case. The end.

SHARPTON: Faith, same juror, spent an hour on, as Lisa says. Same
juror talked about Trayvon Martin`s street fighting. Also commented on
other photos released by the defense. Watch. This.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There were pictures on his phone of him smoking.
And that was on TV. And there was also a picture of a gun that was taken
off of his cell phone too. And that tells me that smoking pot, you know,
getting involved in guns, learning how to street fight, I mean, I know his
family loved him. I know they did. And I think that he probably had just
started getting in with a wrong crowd.


SHARPTON: Now, I don`t want to spend a lot of time on this juror
because two or three -- two of the three of you have said she might not be
on the jury. My point is that was this O`Mara strategy to put enough out
there, that even though he can`t bring into it the trial, that clearly some
potential jurors in the public see some of these things that were put out
as fact.

This woman is speaking as though these are facts about Trayvon, not
something that might have been used by the defense to set up their self-
defense. And they`re all not true. He didn`t referee a street fight.

JENKINS: Well, they`re speaking about it as if it`s going to be
evidence in the case. And that`s the problem, because none of this is
evidence in the case. None of it is relevant. The law is the law about
self-defense. It`s about what is in your mind at that moment when you
decide you need to shoot someone and kill them in self-defense. What
happened at that moment to make you come to that decision? It does not
matter who the other person is, what their character. They can be a priest
or prostitute. The law does not make a distinction. You are protected
under the law, and the burden is on the prosecution to show beyond a
reasonable doubt that George Zimmerman did not act in self-defense.

BURRIS: And that`s all true.

SHARPTON: John, let me ask you. I want you to weigh in here.

I want you to explain to me how in this particular situation, you have
this juror, and possibly others with an opinion. Wouldn`t you have wanted
to get her out of the jury pool right away because she may poison other
potential jurors? I mean, how much of this is a problem to have someone
with this opinion even sitting around the jury pool?

BURRIS: OK. It`s a real problem, and typically, we have more people
sitting in the jury box. So you obviously want to g that person out right
away. On the other hand, there may be something to be said here to find
out what all these views are so that the next juror and the jurors after
that you may be in a better position to focus questions around what they
may or may not have heard. And so in many ways, this is just a teaching
tool. This is an informational gathering process. There is some reason to
allow that to happen.

On the other hand, I guess most lawyers and myself included would
prefer not to happen. But given that is out there, other jurors may have
heard it. So it`s probably best to explore it as far as can with this
particular juror and then be ready for the next juror.

SHARPTON: Lisa, your take on this.

BLOOM: You know, it`s not fatal. It`s all going to be cleaned up
during the trial, and especially in closing argument. Both sides are going
to remind the jury about the evidence that they heard in the case. That
they have to decide the case based on the evidence. And most jurors are
skeptical of the media, and they know they get wrong information sometimes
from the media. I`m glad you`re clearing this up, Reverend Al. But
sometimes media gives out false information. And most jurors are aware of

SHARPTON: Now, Faith, let me go to another issue, another big issue
today that another big part of this that was discussed.

The judge said that she will sequester the jurors. And this could be
-- this could mean that they could be kept together with court security at
all times, can`t go outside of the group, and have limited access to the
media, the general public and their families. How does this affect the

JENKINS: Well, so now this is going to be a factor that they`re going
to take into consideration when selecting jurors for this trial, because
they know now that they`re going to be separated from their families, from
their children, if they have them, and now do nothing for an entire month,
put their entire lives on hold and sit in judgment of George Zimmerman for
this case.

This tells me that this judge is going to move this trial along
quickly. The days will be long. They will be intense, but she is going to
be focused on getting this trial through from beginning to end.

SHARPTON: John, does the sequestration affect jurors wanting to get
out of there sooner than taking their time to deliberate?

BURRIS: I certainly think it could have a negative impact on the
deliberateness of a jury making a decision. Because they have been
together a long period of time. They may or may not like each other.
They`ve been away from their families. They`re tired of this whole
situation. And so, I think you could have a clear rush to judgment at the
end of this case, one way or the other because of concern. And one thing
you cannot prevent is they`re going to talk about this case, probably when
they`re in close quarters all this time, which then causes, you know, the
violation of the orders. And so, you know, I have real concerns about
whether it`s really will result in a fair verdict and an impartial verdict
if they`re sequestered.

SHARPTON: Lisa, does it favor one side or the other?

BLOOM: Well you have to think about who gets more favorable treatment
in the media. And there is certainly media that is very pro-Zimmerman.
But I think there is more discussion in the public discourse that is pro-
Trayvon Martin.

So, I think sequestration helps the defense because the jurors will
not be listening to a lot of public discussion, about what a terrible
person George Zimmerman. They certainly won`t be aware of rallies that may
take place in support of Trayvon Martin. So, overall, I think this is a
little bit helpful to the defense to have the sequestration.

SHARPTON: Faith Jenkins, Lisa Bloom and John Burris, thank you for
your time tonight.

BURRIS: Thank you.

BLOOM: Thanks.

SHARPTON: And in full disclosure in civil court, George Zimmerman has
sued NBC Universal for defamation, and the company has strongly denied his

Ahead, we`re shining light on the shameless priorities of house
Republicans. They`re ready to drop food stamps for millions of Americans.
But Democrats are proving just how hard it is to live on food stamps.
We`ll talk to one, next.

And a day after a Republican congressman talks about rape, Governor
Walker says he doesn`t have any problem with ultrasounds. Really? Didn`t
really, knew you had so many.

And for 43 years, "Essence" magazine has empowered African-American
women. It`s known as a black woman`s bible for all aspects of life.
"Essence" music festival has featured the brightest stars for years. This
year something new and something exciting. We have a big announcement

And I love hearing from you, "Politics Nation." friend or foe, I want
to know. E-mail me. "Reply Al" is ahead.


SHARPTON: Breaking news tonight. The White House has confirmed the
Syrian government has used chemical weapons against Syrian rebels.
President Obama recently said chemical weapons by the Syrian president was
a, quote, "red line that would impact action from the U.S."

Tonight, we`ve learned the United States will provide military support
to rebels in Syria. Over 90,000 have been killed in this Syrian civil war.
We`ll continue to follow this story.


SHARPTON: Republicans have come up with a whole bunch of ugly names
for people who need a little putting food on the table. Well fed queens,
takers, the 47 percent, and now House Republicans are poised to pass a bill
that would cut more than $20 billion from food stamp programs and take away
benefits from two million Americans. We`ve seen it over and over again.
Republicans putting politics over people.


REP. STEPHEN FINCHER (R), TENNESSEE: The role of citizens, of
Christians, of humanity is to take care of each other, but not for
Washington to steal money from those and the country and give it to others
in the country.

REP. STEVE KING (R) IOWA: It appears to me that the goal of this
administration is to expand the roles of people that are on SNAP benefits.
Another purpose for that is just to expand the dependency class.

SEN. JEFF SESSIONS (R), ALABAMA: Why don`t we just pay for your
clothes, pay for your shoes, pay for your housing?


SHARPTON: These Republicans are shameless. They have no idea what
it`s like to wonder where your next meal is coming from. Why don`t they
try to live on the average food stamp benefit of just $31.50 a week?
That`s exactly what 26 house Democrats are doing, starting today. With the
SNAP food stamp challenge, it`s not easy that they have to make, and they
have to make some hard choices. One lawmaker drove the point home last
night by unpacking his groceries on the floor of the U.S. House of


REP. HANK JOHNSON (D), GEORGIA: It`s going to be a challenge. I
certainly will not be eating three meals a day. I will eat in the morning,
and then I will eat in the evening.


SHARPTON: Three meals a day. That hardly seems like too much to ask
in the greatest and most powerful nation on earth.

Joining me now is that lawmaker you just saw, Congressman Hank Johnson
from Georgia, and Richard Wolffe, executive editor of

Thank you both for being here tonight.


JOHNSON: Thank you, reverend.

SHARPTON: Congressman, do you think Republicans would pass these food
stamp cuts if they had to live on $31.50 a week?

JOHNSON: No, I really don`t. And the problem is that we have so many
millionaires over there on the other side of the aisle that they will never
have to worry about where their next meal is coming from, or trying to
stretch dollars so that they can eat for the period of time that they have
the finances to pay for it.

SHARPTON: You know, Richard, when the congressman says that let me
give you the facts, the numbers, that food stamp recipients versus
lawmakers, weekly food stamps benefit, $31.50, as I said, $31.50 a week.
The medium net worth of a member of Congress is $966,000 a year. You are
talking about almost a million dollars a year medium income. I mean,
you`re talking about net worth here, not a year, net worth of about a
million dollars median income for members of congress. And you`re talking
about these are the people that are going to vote to cut $31.50 for people
that receive food stamps. This is outrageous.

WOLFFE: You can earn a lot less than $900,000 a year to understand
that $31 a week is not enough to feed anyone, really. And there is not a
dependency culture that comes out of $31 a week.


WOLFFE: We`re talking about millions of hungry people in the world`s
richest country. And, you know, it wasn`t so long ago it was Republican
who said you shouldn`t balance the budget on the backs of the poor that
Republican was George W. Bush when he was running for president as a
compassionate conservative.

You know, hunger is not partisan issue. And what they`re doing now is
trying to turn into it a partisan issue. And that`s not the Republican
party of even George W. Bush.

SHARPTON: Congressman Johnson, not only is it not a partisan issue,
look who it impacts, 45 percent people who receive it are children, 8.5
percent elderly, 20 percent disabled. These are people that are the most
vulnerable. Children, seniors, disabled.

JOHNSON: And Reverend Al, many of the people who receive food stamps
are employed. They`re working as much as they can, but they`re working for
minimum wage. They can`t make ends meet. And they need the food stamps to
help. And it`s just -- so we`ve got working poor. We`ve got poor. But
regardless of what your status, $31.50 a week adds up to about $1.50 a meal
per day. And it`s just -- to take $20 million, $20 billion, excuse me,
away from this program, which serves as a safety net for 47 million
Americans is just callous. It`s -- especially when we are looking at
spending $3 billion on an east coast missile defense shield for a threat
that does not yet exist.

SHARPTON: $3 billion.

JOHNSON: And the defense department does not want is just -- I mean,
if we can find that $3 billion, we certainly can find how we can keep the
$20.5 billion from going away.

SHARPTON: Let me ask you this, congressman. You unpacked your bags
last night. Very little food showing dramatically what you can do with
$31.50 a week. Explain to the audience what you were able to buy.

JOHNSON: Well, for -- I focused on breakfast first. I bought two
packs of bacon, because I could get two packs for one. And that`s going to
basically be my meat for the day. I did bring -- I did buy some hotdogs
also, maybe about eight of those hot dogs. Then I`ve got some waffles in
the morning, some syrup in the morning. Some oatmeal in the evenings. And
also some bananas and some tea. I splurged on something to comfort me,
some tea. And also, the ramen noodles. I got an eight-pack of those. And
so, I have a little bit of variety, but I`m going to have to do my best to
stretch this food. And I can tell you, I`m already feeling weak today from
just having --

SHARPTON: And you just started today?

JOHNSON: Jus started this morning. I don`t know. I don`t know how
I`m going to.

SHARPTON: And Richard, election time is coming.

WOLFFE: Yes. I got to tell you. The congressman made the choices
many people would choice. But what he is talking about, apart from the
bananas and the oatmeal, you`re talking about a lot of unhealthy food
there. And this is a paradox of what we have in this country. A lot of
hungry people who are also eating bad food. You can be obese and hungry at
the same time. And that is a sad case in America today.

SHARPTON: And I have to go. But I also wanted, not only do we show
the most vulnerable, the makeup of the people in this country on food
stamps, 35 percent white, 23 percent black, 15 percent Hispanic. Because
we seem to color this all one way. And the facts speak for themselves.
That`s the graph of the racial breakdown of food stamp recipients from the
department of agriculture, this racial breakdown was given.

Congressman Johnson, thank you for being with us. And thank you for
your dramatic example with your other colleagues.

Richard Wolffe, thanks for your time tonight.

WOLFFE: Thank you.

SHARPTON: And congressman, good luck with that food stamp challenge
this week.

JOHNSON: I`m going to need it, Reverend.

SHARPTON: All right.

Ahead, wait until you see how we caught Marco Rubio after denying he
knew the congressman who was talking about rape. He`ll be reaching for the
water again after this.

And I`ve got very exciting announcement to make about this show,
coming up.

Stay right here.


SHARPTON: Tomorrow marks six months since 20 children and six adults
were gunned down at Sandy Hook elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut.
Some of the families of Newtown victims are in Washington this week.


CARLEE SOTO, SISTER KILLED IN NEWTOWN: I`m going to be reading the
names of the 26 people that were murdered in Newtown shooting. Victoria
Soto, age 27 was murdered in her first grade classroom on December 14th,


SHARPTON: The Newtown families are still fighting for stronger gun
safety laws, including improved background checks. But they`ve got a tough
road, with Republicans afraid to do anything the NRA doesn`t want.

The NRA is already running ads against senator Joe Minchin, the
Democrat sponsor of the background check bill that Republicans blocked
earlier this year.

Remember, the Republican argument against better background checks?


SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: Well, my belief is universal
background checks are going to require universal registration weapons. And
my belief is that that`s the wrong road to take.


SHARPTON: That`s right. Republicans didn`t trust the federal
government, didn`t think the government could handle all those records.
But lately a lot of Republicans don`t have a problem with government


GRAHAM: I`m glad the NSA is trying to find out what terrorists are up
to overseas and inside the country. I`m a Verizon customer. I don`t mind
Verizon turning over records to the government if the government is going
to make sure that they try to match up a known terrorist phone with
somebody in the United States. I`m glad the activity is going on.


SHARPTON: He is glad the National Security Administration is keeping
records. That`s the NSA`s job. Do anything to stop terrorists. But what
about stopping terrorists from getting guns?


GRAHAM: I think anyone who is on the terrorist watch list should not
lose their second amendment rights without the ability to challenge that


SHARPTON: These guys want to keep a close eye on everybody except gun
owners. Is one set of rules for the NSA, and a totally different set of
rules for the NRA. It`s not hard to see that one. I don`t even need a
magnifying glass for that. In fact, it wasn`t even a nice try. But one
thing is clear. We got you.


SHARPTON: Everyone knows the Republican Party has a woman`s problem.
Everyone except the Republican Party, that is.


UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Next week, the House will take up the issue of
abortion. And it stands as of now, no chance of passing in the Senate. Do
you think that you guys should be spending so much time on these issues
that have no chance of going anywhere?

REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R), OHIO: Listen, jobs continues to be our number
one concern.


SHARPTON: Jobs are our number one concern. That`s right, jobs, jobs,
jobs. Soto`s 19 republican men had jobs in mind when they voted to
restrict women`s rights yesterday. And Congressman Franks was concerned
with jobs when he made those rape comments. Here is a job, Speaker
Boehner. Get your story straight. But the GOP women`s problem doesn`t end
there. Remember Governor "Ultrasound" Bob McDonnell?

Well, it looks like he is getting a buddy. Governor Scott Walker is
on track to sign a bill requiring all women seeking abortions to get an
ultrasound. Why? Well, Governor Walker says, I don`t have any problem
with ultrasound. Few! I`m glad you don`t. But the women in your state
might. This news just comes days after Democrats tried to continue debate
on this very bill. But they were shut down by the republican Senate


UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Call the role. Darling?

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: You`re out of order.


UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Step down. You`re not recognized.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: The question before the House is not debatable.
Call the role!


SHARPTON: Something is out of order, all right. The GOP`s priorities
when it comes to women.

Joining me now is democratic Wisconsin State Senator Lena Taylor and
Lauren Ashburn, editor-in-chief of The Daily Download. Thank you both for
coming on the show tonight.


STATE SEN. LENA TAYLOR (D), WISCONSIN: My pleasure. Thank you for
having me.

SHARPTON: State Senator Taylor, let me start with you. Why would
Democrats silence on something as important as this bill?

TAYLOR: Why were we what, Reverend? I`m sorry.

SHARPTON: Why were Democrats silenced from debating on something as
important as this bill?

TAYLOR: Well, know that it was not because we chose to be silent. It
was because the Republicans, although they say they want to change their
ways, they are singing from the same hymnal which is to take women
backwards. They silenced us. They refused to allow anyone other than two
women to speak on the bill, and then they called the question, which
ultimately shut down debate, shut down discussion, would not answer any
questions, and slammed the gavel so hard, Reverend Sharpton, that he broke
the gavel, the president did.

SHARPTON: Wow. So, this legislation would force women to have an
ultrasound before they could get an abortion. Is that what the bill calls

TAYLOR: That`s exactly -- that`s exactly correct. As a matter of
fact, we did not accept, our governor did not accept the Medicaid expansion
dollars. So we`re going to actually make it where 40,000 or more residents
will lose medical coverage. So at a time that we`re doing that, we`re
going to mandate an unnecessary medical procedure that is not even done by
anybody who is skilled or trained as a technician or in the medical field.
And we`re going to --

SHARPTON: Go ahead, go ahead.

TAYLOR: We`re going to require people to-- we`re going to require
women to take this ultrasound. And this is really not just the abdomen
ultrasound. It could also be a vaginal probe ultrasound that we`re going
to require women to take that insurance is not required to pay for. This
is really, you know, overreaching. It is big government at its worst.
It`s in the womb of women of Wisconsin.

SHARPTON: Now, Lauren, when you look at this governor, he has, aside
from endorsing this ultrasound bill, he has a long history of anti-women
legislation. He signed several bills restricting abortion. He has pushed
through the defunding of Planned Parenthood. He repealed Wisconsin`s equal
pay for women`s law. And as I just pointed out, he believes in small
government, but it would take big government to execute this bill.

ASHBURN: Like it or not, abortion is the law of the land. And to go
at it through these back doorways is just cheap. It`s politically cheap to
try to get votes. And they know that something like this, I would be
surprised if something like this wasn`t overturned once passed. And so the
problem, the bigger problem with all of this is the fact that legislators
are getting in between people and their doctors. And politicians don`t
have any place being in there.

Does a doctor say that this is a medically necessary procedure? If
the doctor says something is medically necessary, then by all means do it.
But if they don`t, politicians can`t say that it should be so.

SHARPTON: Now, state Senator, let me tell you about this. You know
the GOP has gone to extremes to distance themselves from Congressman Trent
Franks` rape comment. In fact, when he was asked about Congressman Franks`
comment, Senator Marco Rubio said, quote, "I don`t know who that is,"
talking about Congressman Franks.

The problem is here is a picture of the two of them at a dinner
together. That`s not enough. They`ve also shared a stage as the only
keynote speakers at an event in May of 2010. And more recently, Senator
Rubio signed a letter that Franks wrote to President Obama. So, I mean, so
much for him not knowing him. But they`re trying to get away from an
extreme statement. But at the same time, you have people like your
governor saying they`ll sign extreme legislation.

TAYLOR: Well, I think one of the reasons, Reverend, that they shut
us down is because they were trying to get away from the extreme statements
that the author of the bill made, Senator Mary Lazic. One of her comments
was that having an abortion was the thing that you had to do to be a woman.
It was the hip thing to do in the `60s. How ridiculous.

SHARPTON: Wait a minute. She said this? The sponsor of the bill
actually said this?

TAYLOR: Those are her words. Those are her words.

SHARPTON: It`s amazing.

TAYLOR: And I have to say that immediately the president went through
the process of gaveling to the point that he broke the gavel. Clearly,
they knew that her statements were going to encourage other individuals to
speak. But her statements were all the way to the extreme, all the way to
the far right. The extremist kind of view. And I don`t believe that
anybody wanted to be associated with that.

But it clearly is not them rebranding themselves for women if this is
the way that they think and these are the kind of bills that they`re going
to be doing. We heard the same thing, that they`re all about jobs. This
is not going to create jobs. This is not going to help women to have
access to health care. And it surely is not allowing women to have a
choice for themselves.

SHARPTON: Yes. You know, Lauren, it`s not just legislation. I mean,
listen to this main lawmaker explain why he is against expanding Medicaid
coverage in the state. Listen to this.


UNIDENTIFIED MAN: In my mind, a man`s mind, I -- I hear really two
fundamental issues. From the other side of the aisle, I hear the
conversation being about free. This is free. We need to take it, and it`s
free. My brain, being a man`s brain sort of thinks differently, because I
say well, it`s not -- if it`s free, it really free? Because I say in my
brain, there is a cost to this.


SHARPTON: In a man`s brain, my brain, a man`s brain. I mean, Lauren,
this is 2013. This is unbelievable.

ASHBURN: What`s that book? Women are from Venus, men are from Mars,
or it might be the other anyway. This guy is from a different galaxy.
What was he trying to say? I guess because I`m a woman, I just don`t
understand. Right?

SHARPTON: Well, I have a man brain and I don`t understand either.
But state Senator Lena Taylor and Lauren Ashburn, thank you both for your
time this evening.

TAYLOR: Thank you, Rev.

SHARPTON: Thank you, Reverend.

SHARPTON: Ahead, "Essence" magazine has empowered women for decades,
and so has their annual music festival. Tonight we have a very special
announcement to make about that festival. Stay with us.


SHARPTON: "Essence" magazine, Beyonce and POLITICS NATION. Our
announcement is next.


SHARPTON: Fierce, fun, fabulous. That slogan has defined "Essence"
magazine for almost half a century. "Essence" has been known as the black
woman`s bible for life. And for nearly 20 years, its essence music
festival has brought together the brightest stars and the greatest
performers for a summer weekend to remember. This year some big changes
afoot. The essence music festival is now the essence festival. But there
will still be music, lots and lots of music.

And tonight I am very proud to announce on behalf of MSNBC that this
network will be sponsoring the Essence Festival. This show and others in
the MSNBC family, we will all be in New Orleans to cover the festival next

Joining me now is Michelle Ebanks, president of Essence Communication.
Michelle, thanks for being here tonight.

having me. It`s quite a pleasure.

SHARPTON: You know we are really thrilled on working on the festival
with you. Tell people how it will be a little different this year.

EBANKS: Well, it will be a little different. First of all, you know
we did change our name.


EBANKS: You know, we`re no longer the Essence Music Festival. It`s
the Essence Festival. You know, we wanted to step into more of who we are
this year. Nineteen years ago when the festival was started as a
celebration of the 25th anniversary of "Essence" magazine, Susan L. Taylor,
then the editor-in-chief said we`re Essence. We can`t just have a party.
Well need to give back to the community. And that`s when the daytime
convention center programming was born. And this year the programming at
night in the superdome and during the day will both be extraordinary.

SHARPTON: And I mean extraordinary, because at night some of the
musical acts will include Beyonce, LL Cool J, new addition, Brandi, Jill
Scott, Maxwell. They`ll be performing at night. But during the day, some
of the panelists that will be featured will be Myrlie Evers-Williams, the
widow of Medgar Evers, Congressman John Lewis, Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes
Norton, Dr. Steve Perry, Iyanla Vanzant, Steve Harvey. I`ll be speaking.
And I`ve spoken at every Essence since you started these festivals. So I`m
batting a thousand.

EBANKS: You are. Every single one. And it`s one of the highlights
of each festival. And the convention center each day, we attract over
100,000 people. And it`s extraordinary with the Essence empowerment
experience stage to have the greatest community leaders and thinkers, you
know, who are there helping to empower women to improve their day-to-day
lives. So it will be something truly special.

SHARPTON: So we`re having mayors there to talk about gun violence.
We`re going to be talking cultural issues, motivation. No one can beat
Iyanla Vanzant on that. Politics will be talking. Voter rights, John
Lewis and myself and others will be talking. And then at night we go and
get our groove on.

EBANKS: We get our groove on.

SHARPTON: Get a party on.

EBANKS: Of course. You know, the one and only Beyonce returns to the

SHARPTON: You know, you`ve seen me do the James Brown. You`ve never
seen my Beyonce.

EBANKS: I have never seen your Beyonce.

SHARPTON: You`ve got to watch her.

EBANKS: I may need to bring my camera, have my phone ready. But it
will be -- it`s shaping up now to be the biggest festival in our 19-year
history. So we couldn`t be, you know, happier, and we couldn`t, you know,
be more thrilled to partner with MSNBC, because the day-time programming
has been, you know, one of the best kept secrets. But now having POLITICS
NATION, other daytime programming from MSNBC really showing the commitment,
the importance of community. Everyone will see what is happening and see
the best, the best of African-American community.

SHARPTON: "Essence" magazine, which started 43 years ago.


SHARPTON: And has been really the drive behind this. And it really
shows excellence among women, black women, but women period, and men read
it. I mean, it shows a celebration of American life unlike anything I`ve

EBANKS: Absolutely. And, you know, writer Sheila Radford Hill said,
African-Americans need community more than any other group. It`s an
important part of our discussion. It`s an important part of our optimism
and our joy. And so what, you know, when this audience comes together,
it`s to celebrate those traditions that have propelled us forward. It is a
moment each year to be proud, to be very proud of.

SHARPTON: Well, it`s a great weekend. I mean, you see gobs of people
as they used to say, and generations, grandmothers, mothers, daughters, and
their husbands and boyfriends and some of the most beautiful but brightest
smartest people in the world.


SHARPTON: We gather in New Orleans for this. Michelle Ebanks, I`m
really excited about it. And we can`t wait to get to New Orleans. And we
going to be there and we going to be sharp of mind in the daytime, and we
going to party hearty at night with the Essence Festival.

EBANKS: That`s right.

SHARPTON: And look here at the schedule. All the times are eastern.
On Friday, the 5th of July at noon. Now with Alex Wagner kicks off
coverage, followed by "HARDBALL" at 1:00. News nation at 2:00. We`re on
at 3:00. "THE ED SHOW" at 4:00. And over the weekend is Melissa Harris-
Perry from 10 to noon. Then Ed Show at noon. And we`ll close it out with
a special edition of POLITICS NATION at 1:00 p.m.

So, we`re going to be working hard. We hope you join us. Send your
questions in to reply Al. It`s coming up. Remember, friend or foe, I want
to know. Coming up.


SHARPTON: Now it`s time for reply Al. Your e-mails are rolling in.
And it`s great to hear from so many of you.

Anthony writes, "Dear Reverend Sharpton, I appreciated your updates on
what Rush Limbaugh and the political right are up. But do you think we
give them too much credit or power by even mentioning them?"

Well, they have an audience and people listen to them. I believe if
you`re going to step in the ring you call names and you deal with your
opponents straight up. Don`t become bullied. Say I`m addressing you so
people are clear that we`re not ducking and we`re not avoiding issues.
We`re taking them head-on so people can respond head-on. We`re being very

Sharon writes, "I wish I could lose weight like you did. You look
great. But don`t lose anymore."

Well, Sharon, I`m about where I`m going to stay. I wanted to get down
to a certain size. I`m there. I`m very determined and disciplined in
terms of having the will power to lose weight. It takes even more power to
stay there. But I`m not getting any lighter until I go to New Orleans with
Essence Festival. I may dance off one or two pounds. But other than that,
I promise you I`m going to stay right about here.

Tom asks, "Reverend Al, can you update any plans concerning the 50th
anniversary of the civil rights march?"

It`s interesting you ask. Martin Luther King III was here with us
today, and we are going to have the march on August 24th, the 50th
anniversary weekend. The whole week, the King Center, elder Bernice King
has five days of activities. The march will be that Saturday. You can go
to and get all of the details.

But and all of us that believe in making the dream a reality, and not
just commemorate, but continue fighting for what is right. You should plan
to be in Washington with us in August. I love hearing from everyone. So
please keep your e-mails coming. Send me your questions to

Remember, friend or foe, I want to know.

Thanks for watching. I`m Al Sharpton. "HARDBALL" starts right now.


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