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'The Melissa Harris-Perry Show' for Saturday, March 22nd, 2014

Read the transcript to the Saturday show

March 22, 2014

Guests: Bob Hager, Adrian Karatnycky, Richard Kim, Earl Catagnus, Dave
Zirin, Michael Goldfarb, Richard Kim, Ann Rosen Spector, Daria Burke, Lisa
Cook, Alison Wilkinson

JONATHAN CAPEHART, MSNBC ANCHOR: This morning my question, is there really
any such thing as a student athlete? Plus, it may not be a return to the
Cold War, but it is certainly getting chilly. And what Beyonce means when
she says she`s the boss. But first, more than two weeks - more than two
weeks in the search for flight 370 and the 239 people on board continues.

Good morning, I`m Jonathan Capehart sitting in today for Melissa Harris-
Perry. Today, in a new development in the search for missing Malaysian
Airlines Flight 370, a Chinese satellite has spotted a large floating
object in the region of the Indian Ocean that has been the focus of a
multi-national search effort for the plane. The Malaysian transportation
minister made the announcement shortly after he received the news from the
Chinese this morning.


received is that the Chinese ambassador received satellite image of
floating objects in the southern corridor, and they will be sending ships
to verify.


CAPEHART: The object discovered by the satellite measures about 74 feet by
43 feet. And it was found along one of the two possible routes believed by
investigators to be the flight path taken by Flight 370. News of this
latest discovery comes just two days after Australian officials announced
that a different satellite spotted two other objects that they called their
most credible lead in the investigation into the plane`s disappearance.
Those satellite images announced on Thursday by Australia`s prime minister
Tony Abbott shows two whitish colored objects, one measuring 79 feet and
another about 16 feet floating in the ocean about 1400 miles southwest of
the city of Perth in Australia. This morning, after a third day of visual
and radar searches, Australian officials said they still had no luck in
finding the objects. Joining me now from Washington, D.C. with the latest
on the ongoing search for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 is NBC News
correspondent Kerry Sanders.

KERRY SANDERS, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jonathan, first of all, let`s
go back and take a look at that image released by state-run television in
China. Because as we look at that picture, we need to note that this image
is four days old. The question would be, why does it take so long?
They`re looking at so many images just the way, as we take a look at these
images here. These were the satellite images that were released by the
Australian minister, prime minister. It`s that it takes a long time to go
through the analysis of what they`re looking at because these are narrow
images that start out much larger. And as you noted, this one here
specifically falls into the same general size as the one that the Chinese
have released in their picture. What we`re looking at, of course, is an
area down here southwest of Perth. If we get a little bit closer it`s
about 1500 miles from Perth, so the aircraft that are traveling out there,
especially the propeller aircraft, take about four hours. They travel a
little bit slower. So, the military uses the term on station, which means
over the area. They`re on station for about two hours before they have to
return. If we get a little bit closer here and take a look at the area
where the Australian pictures showed potential debris, this about 79 miles
to the southwest of where the Australians found their debris is where it
appears the Chinese have found their debris.

Unfortunately, the Australian military has now returned. It`s nighttime
there. All their flights are back. They have six aircraft. They have two
commercial as well as four military aircraft. Most of them relying on eyes
on. They`re flying at a very low altitude with spotters looking out the
window. They have seen nothing that is promising. There was one piece of
what turned out to be a piece of floating wood pallet. The New Zealand
military flew to that area with an electronic equipment that radar pictures
can take a picture of. And they confirmed that it was a piece of wood and
not the debris that the Chinese believed that they have seen. And so as we
continue to watch what the military is looking for, the goal is to try to
ultimately find debris that will then take them back to find this. This is
what`s known as the black box. Obviously, you can see it`s orange. And
it`s right here, Jonathan, that is the pinger. And it will last for about
30 days, or maybe even longer from the day the plane went down. So, we`re
looking at a possibility of another 20 or so days if we`re lucky of this
thing pinging.

One potential problem, when it goes down and the item is in the water, if
the debris settled like this, and this is buried in the sand, potentially
you`re not going to hear it that well, because it`s emitting a signal down.
So, the hope is that if they ever find the debris that then leads them to
the site where this may have gone down, that this rested like this, like
this, like this. But certainly not like that, Jonathan.

CAPEHART: A lot of information from you. NBC News Kerry Sanders in
Washington, thanks.


CAPEHART: Let`s go now to Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia where NBC News
correspondent Keir Simmons has been reporting on how the government there
is proceeding with its investigation and how families of those onboard the
flight have been responding to developments in this story.

KEIR SIMMONS, NBC CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Jonathan, good morning. The
transportation minister here pledging at a news conference that they will
do everything they can to make sure that relatives with loved ones on
Flight 370 are informed after just those angry, furious scenes at meetings
were relatives demanding answers and feeling as if they`re not really being
communicated with effectively. Meanwhile, we do hear that the airline is
making some insurance payments. That is part of the regulations when a
flight disappears for this long. But it is a grim reminder that Flight 370
has now been missing for more than two weeks. Jonathan?

CAPEHART: Thank you, Keir Simmons in Kuala Lumpur. Joining me now is
former NBC News aviation correspondent, and I have to say legend, Bob
Hager. Thanks so much for being here this morning.


CAPEHART: So, what do you make of the latest satellite image? The signs
of the object and its location.

HAGER: Yeah, well, in a case where we haven`t had many breaks at all, I
mean it`s another straw here that might turn out. Who knows? I have a
couple of thoughts. Number one, I`m intrigued by the fact that it`s not
that many miles from where the other satellite photo was, so it could be
the same piece that`s just floated, you know, another 80 or 100 miles away
from where it was four days earlier when the other satellite took a picture
of it. That dimension. That could be a wing, the 75 feet long, about
matches the wing of a 777. Yeah this might turn out to be other kinds of
debris. So, don`t want to raise hopes for the investigators, but it could
be a wing. A wing doesn`t tell you that much, I mean about the
investigation, about solving this, but at least gets you in the area where
you may look for more important stuff.

CAPEHART: But do they add to maybe our understanding of what may have
happened to Flight 370?

HAGER: No, the wing wouldn`t. I mean one thing you could check, is there
any charring, you know, in case there`d been a fire. You might look on it
for that. The way a plane would hit - if it ran out of fuel, as I believe
this one did, because this is about the end of the fuel supply. So, the
way the plane would hit, it spins down and probably one engine runs out of
fuel before the other, so it hits wing-down, so it could easily snap off a
wing. But it doesn`t really tell you anything important. I mean, you`ve
got to trace it back, figure out where the main wreckage is, hopefully you
get the black boxes before those pingers quit. That would be a

CAPEHART: And as Kerry Sanders pointed out, he had one of those black
boxes and demonstrating it. If the search goes past 30 days, and that`s
the life of the black box, the pinger on the black box, how will the loss
of the data that`s on their affect the investigation?

HAGER: Oh, drastically. I mean, you really need those black boxes. But
there is a little hope on the pinger, that even though 30 days is a
specifications, they`ve been known to go 15, maybe even a little more days
than that, so you have got a little extra time in there. But still in the
scope of this investigation in that ocean, that`s not much time.

CAPEHART: And talk a little bit - well, briefly about the types of - type
of information that`s on the black box that`s so vital.

HAGER: Well, the main thing, first, the cockpit voice recorder picks up
the two black boxes. Cockpit voice recorder keeps the private
conversations in the cockpit. So, you know, if something came down in the
cockpit, pilot does the co-pilot in, or vice versa, that would be on the
voice recorder, unless they disabled it ahead of time. The flight data
recorder, we just got all these vague little radar blips. You don`t really
know, well, if this plane - we don`t know where it went and did it go to
extreme altitudes and drop down. That would all be on the flight data
recorder. You might very well be able to figure out what went on, even if
you didn`t have the voices from the flight data recorder.

CAPEHART: Bob Hager, thanks so much.

HAGER: OK, Jonathan, nice to be with you.

CAPEHART: We`ll have more on this story, focus particularly on the people
involved later in the program.

But first, we turn our attention to the still growing tension between the
United States and Russia. The rhetoric is heating up, even as the
diplomatic relations keep getting icier.


CAPEHART: When we think of the Cold War of yesteryear, it often conjures
up images of kids ducking for safety under their desks during air raid
drills in the 1950s. We remember it as an era when the threat of global
nuclear annihilation seems like a real thing. That`s not what is happening
now. What`s going on right now between the United States and Russia is not
a return of the Cold War. But there is certainly a big chill under way.
The tensions are not playing out on the battlefield or in the waters off
the coast of Cuba, but, rather, in a war of words with serious economic
impact. The showdown over Russia`s move to annex Crimea has gone from a
game of geopolitical chess to a game of tag, you`re it. On Monday,
President Obama sanctioned 11 Russian and Ukrainian officials for their
role in the crisis. Tuesday saw of Vice President Joe Biden in Europe
reassuring key U.S. allies and announcing Russia`s move to annex Crimea as
"blatant, blatant disregard of international law. Also on Tuesday, in an
emotional speech Vladimir Putin reclaimed Crimea as part of Russia and
vowed to protect Russia`s interests from Western actions. Putin prided
himself on the fact that not one shot had been fired in the military
intervention in Crimea. That was complicated only hours later when one
Ukrainian soldier was fatally shot and another was wounded at a base in
Crimea. According to Ukraine`s Ministry of Defense the assailants were
"wearing military uniforms of the Armed forces of the Russian federation."
Then on Thursday, hours later after Russia`s lower parliament ratified a
treaty to make Crimea part of the Russian - Russian Federation, President
Obama responded.


executive order that I signed in response to Russia`s initial intervention
in Ukraine, we`re imposing sanctions on more senior officials of the
Russian government. In addition, we are today sanctioning a number of
other individuals with substantial resources and influence, who provide
material support to the Russian leadership. As well as a bank that
provides material support to these individuals.


CAPEHART: To which Russia responded by imposing their own entry bans on
nine U.S. officials including House Speaker John Boehner, Senate Majority
Leader Harry Reid and Senator John McCain. And leave it to social media
maven Senator McCain to quickly tweet out his pleasure over having been
sanctioned with "I`m proud to be sanctioned by Putin. I`ll never cease my
efforts and dedication to freedom and independence of #Ukraine, which
includes #Crimea." That tweet was only rivaled by his statement of short
time later, which said, "I guess this means my spring break in Siberia is
off, my Gazprom stock is lost and my secret bank account in Moscow is
frozen. Nonetheless, I will never cease my efforts on behalf of the
freedom, independence and territorial integrity of Ukraine, including
Crimea." But the sanctions back and forth game didn`t stop there.
European Union leaders also expanded their list of people targeted with
sanctions by 12 and warn further economic measures could be taken if the
situation worsens.

And what may be the biggest developments of all came yesterday. With Putin
signing a law that completed the annexation of Crimea as part of the
Russian federation. Ukraine made a bold move of its own Friday when that
country signed a pact with the European Union. If successful, it is a move
that can position Ukraine`s economic future towards the West and away from

At the table, Earl Catagnus, an assistant professor of history and security
studies at Valley Forge Military College. Lisa Cook, associate professor
of economics and international relations at Michigan State University,
whose dissertation and current research are on Russia and the former Soviet
Union including Ukraine. Richard Kim, executive editor of
and Adrian Karatnycky, a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council`s Program on
Transatlantic Relations. So, a lot to talk about here. Lisa, I want to
start with you. So, while we can laugh at what Senator McCain did and some
other U.S. politicians did finding out that they were sanctioned. Do these
sanctions have any teeth to get Russia to change course at all?

could. It really depends on how broad they become, but if they are on just
these individuals, it`s unlikely. But we saw some trouble yesterday with
Bank Rossia being on that list, it`s one of the largest banks in Russia and
Visa and Mastercard were not honoring their bank cards. So, you know,
things can start whittling away to individuals, but it will really take a
larger set of sanctions and more commitment from a broader set of people
and institutions for them to work.

CAPEHART: How far can these sanctions be ratcheted up? I mean we talk
about the ping pong back and forth, but does the administration and the
European Union have a whole host of other things that they could do?

ADRIAN KARATNYCKY, ATLANTIC COUNCIL: Absolutely. I mean I think, you
know, it depends on how far Putin goes, it depends on how tough they want
to be, but there`s a number of things they can do both individually and in
tandem. Let me just list a few of them. Ukraine has about $30 to $40
billion in debt to Russia. It can declare what is called an odious debt.
Because of an active war invasion, it can basically cancel all its debt
service and claims to repay Russia because of the losses in Crimea. If
European institutions support that claim, that means Ukraine can continue
borrowing in international markets and substantially relieve its debt
burden. Secondly, there`s Cyprus. Cyprus is a place where many Russian
oligarchs hid their money. A lot of their money was frozen because of the
economic crisis, some of it is becoming unfrozen, but Cyprus used to be
called the place where the Russian government hides money from the Russian


KARATNYCKY: And, you know, it is place where, you know, it is an E.U.
member, and institutionally, we can search, the E.U. can search there. So,
and sort of the final thing is that there are other sanctions against
specific banks that are being considered. And it`s really the financial
sanctions and the financial transactions that are the biggest card that the
West has to play.

COOK: But we don`t want an all-out trade war. I think that`s where
restraint is being exercised. Nobody wants that. Especially on the
financial side. My dissertation that Jonathan is talking about, was
talking about the fact that over 100-year period Russia really didn`t
develop a banking system. It didn`t need to. France, the U.K., and
Germany provided it. And this is what is happening now. They just
outsourced this banking function. And that`s where it`s going to buy .


COOK: And the banking and financial system.

KARATNYCKY: One brief point. I`m not suggesting - I`m suggesting that the
point is to deter Putin. And to have in your quiver a lot of options that
he and the Russian establishment are aware of. Not to deploy it, but
simply to have a range of options depending on what he does.


I`m sucking the point is to deter Putin. And to have in your quiver a lot
of options that he and the Russian establishment are aware of. Not to
deploy it, but simply to have a range of options depending on what he does.

COOK: It`s interesting.

RICHARD KIM, THE NATION.COM: Let me say it - to the point is to deter
Putin. Because another possible point is to convince the oligarchs to turn
against him. And to withdraw their support. And I don`t see any level of
these sanctions, actually, accomplishing that. There might be some capital
flight from Russia. It`s annoying to have a travel ban, but, you know, the
immediate report suggests that the oligarchs have kind of doubled down on
their support for Putin. The level of sanctions that might actually start
to have teeth. You`re looking at gas and oil. The E.U. has no appetite to
go there. 30 percent of Germany`s, you know, energy comes from Russia.
And so, it`s just -- to me, this is largely kabuki theater for the domestic
politics for a kind of, you know, international kabuki theater, but in
terms of actually effecting the levers in Russia, the options are
incredibly limited.

think it`s these are one - there are two purpose, two-fold purpose with
these individual sanctions. One is that it`s for domestic audience to show
that President Obama is taking a stance. At least, he`s taking a stance.
Second, is to support the allies in the region, specifically Poland and
then Baltic region. And here`s what I`m going to tell you that nothing
more - no more sanctions are going to be ratcheted up, and if they are,
they will be on individuals as opposed to large scale. That`s because the
United States can`t afford to push Russia too far away because they are
holding two key cards, strategic cards in Iran and Syria right now. One,
Russia supported us with the non-nuclear Iran and they could very easily
reverse that and then it changes the whole game. And Crimea and Ukraine,
we`re going to see that Crimea will be just given away. And then Ukraine
will turn to the West. And I think it will end up being a stronger Ukraine
because of it. Just a sacrifice of the Crimea.

CAPEHART: Adrian, we have less than 30 seconds left. But I have to ask
you about the Russian stock market. It fell 2.1 percent yesterday and more
than 10 percent this month. How bad could things get real fast?

KARATNYCKY: They can get worse. Certainly the currency can move even
further. So, I think Russia will be feeling the bite and the cost of
borrowing to Russia is already going up. Their credit ratings are being
pulled down by the international rating agencies.

CAPEHART: In 1990, something happened between the United States and
Russia. If you are of a certain age, you might remember it as seeming to
be the biggest story of its day. One simple event far less dramatic than a
wall coming down or an empire crumbling that made it seem like our two
countries would be forever intertwined and on better terms. That story is


CAPEHART: When it comes to relations between the United States and Russia
or even the former Soviet Union, if you are of a certain age, this may be
one of the stories that is most memorable to you.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now, thanks to his own reforms he can walk out of the
Kremlin and get that break. At the Golden Arches, McDonald`s in Moscow.
Today the doors open. NBC`s Peter Catonit (ph) on the Soviet Union`s
McDonald`s revolution.


CROWD (cheering)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The grand opening hype was as foreign to Moscow as the


CAPEHART: Incredible. It has been 24 years since McDonald`s arrived in
Moscow. And now, we are not saying it was the Big Mac that ushered in the
fall of the Soviet Union, which occurred the year after McDonald`s opened.
But those golden arches, so clearly identified with American capitalism,
had a symbolic presence when they went up in the heart of Moscow. Even if
the government there continued to embrace a centralized economic model.
So, Richard, I have to ask you if we get past the posturing, or as you
called it, the kabuki theater. There`s an economic interdependency between
Russia and the United States from what we export to each other, to the U.S.
companies that are active in Russia. Can the U.S. or Western European
economies afford for Russia to be isolated?

KIM: I don`t think they can. But I think most importantly, our European
allies cannot - cannot afford to have Russia isolated. The problem is some
of this is asymmetrical, right? Like Ukraine matters so much more to
Russia than it matters to us. And frankly, that it matters to the European
allies. So, that`s - that`s really what`s at stake here, that Putin`s
investment and interest in holding Crimea and having an influence over the
rest of Ukraine is a top priority for him.

CATAGNUS: I think one thing that we`re making assumption here is that
Putin is going to keep moving forward and trying to push the envelope. And
I think that` s- I don`t think that you are going to see Putin, actually,
move forward and try to actually go into Ukraine. You`re going to see some
movement across the board or some border towns trying secede, but I think
he`s happy with what he has, and it was a strategic - it was a good move
strategically to keep the Crimea. And I think that he`s going to use his
negotiating skills. He`s a very astute, very good statesman. He`s very
smart. Many analysts, they see him as either a Cold War warrior, which is
not the case. He`s a pragmatist. And he has a vision for Russia to be a
world power. And he may employ Soviet style tactics, but he is not an
ideologue with his view. He`s a very pragmatic ruler.

CAPEHART: Do you buy that, Lisa?

COOK: Yes. I actually agree. I mean if you look at - I have this paper
on what happened with the boycott of the Moscow Olympics. And you see who
was a strong adherent, which countries were strong adherents to the ban and
which ones were weak ones. And basically, what he`s doing is he`s going
back to his old friends. So, it`s almost like a divorce. You pull out
your black book, OK, so I have these other people I can court and he`s
going to China. So, China is the second largest economy. And so, China
can`t afford to be isolated. China is also pragmatic. And I think he
thinks that he`s found a real player, a real counterpart with respect to
China. They have natural resources. They need natural resources. So, I
think that there is -- you know, I don`t know enough about sort of
strategic relations to say more, except with respect to economics. And I
know that the second largest economy in the world would be courting Russia.
And I would not let it be isolated.

CAPEHART: Well, Lisa, you anticipated the question. I was going to ask
you. So, I`m going to turn to Adrian. U.S. companies have $14 billion in
direct investment in Russia and even higher mutual fund in hedge fund
investments in Russian companies. How do we successfully navigate this
mess without hurting U.S. businesses and companies?

KARATNYCKY: Well, it`s, you know, that`s a pitifully small amount. That`s
sort of the net worth of one of the top 20 richest Americans. It`s not a
dramatic impact. You know, yes on the margins, and yes, in particular
funds there might be some tremors, but again, you know, look, we are not -
I also don`t believe that there will be an all-out trade war and an all-out
ratcheting up of complete sanctions. I think the issue is to ratchet them
up in response to concrete aggressive actions by the Kremlin and to
stabilize the situation, to stabilize Ukraine. And again, I keep reminding
people that, you know, this is an economy - as we - between Hollands and
Italies. It is not one of the world`s most powerful economies. That said,
Russian influence is asymmetrical. It is extremely influential in France
on defense sales, it is extremely influential in Germany and Southern and
Central Europe on energy sales and in London it`s on the financial markets.

So, even though Russia overall has weak impact in specific countries it has
a fairly disproportionate impact to specific markets.

CAPEHART: When we come back we`re going to look at the military angle on
this story.



For the Euro-Atlantic community, for NATO and for all those committed to a
Europe whole, free and at peace. This is the gravest threat to European
security and stability since the end of the Cold War.


CAPEHART: That was the Secretary-General of NATO on Wednesday. Russian`s
military incursion and annexation of Crimea leaves NATO weighing its
options on how to provide assistance to Ukraine. And Russia would be well
served to think about its next move. It`s boarded by many NATO member
states including former Soviet Union republics Estonia, Latvia and
Lithuania, which joined NATO in 2004. Though President Obama has ruled out
U.S. military involvement in Ukraine, keep in mind, it`s not a NATO member
state. Vice President Biden made this telling statement on Thursday while
visiting Lithuania.


VICE PRESIENT JOE BIDEN, UNITED STATES: Madame President, Mr. President,
the reason I travel the Baltics was to reaffirm our mutual commitment to
collective defense. President Obama wanted me to come personally to make
it clear what you already know. That under Article 5 of the NATO Treaty,
we will respond. We will respond to any aggression against the NATO ally.


CAPEHART: Earl, can you explain how this concept of collective defense

CATAGNUS: Sure. NATO in its inception, it was supposed to be the counter
to the Soviet juggernaut. And if you - you can just look at any map and
see how big it is and massive amounts of resources and men and material
that can be put in play. And the big thing that people have to understand
is that when the Soviet Union collapsed so did the power of NATO because
NATO was never, ever, ever intended to confront the Soviet Union or any
type of Russian incursion as a conventional force. The old trope is that
55,000 Soviet tanks to 5,000 of the NATO`s - of NATO tanks. Really, it was
about the employment of tactical nuclear weapons. And once the Soviet
Union collapsed, the tactical nuclear weapons are off the table so now they
can really never, ever confront on a conventional level any kind of move by

CAPEHART: But should we be concerned about a possible NATO versus Russia

CATAGNUS: No. I think this is - What you see is political and diplomatic
posturing. The language of fear used by the vice president is dangerous,
that kind of language, because then it pokes the bear and then there`s a
response in kind and it could lead to escalation. Not in a full out- or a
hot war, but an escalation in arms race or something of that with the anti-
ballistic missile defense systems.

CAPEHART: Let`s take a look at what National Security Advisor Susan Rice
had to say yesterday.


SUSAN RICE, NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISOR: We`ve indeed been taking note of
developments along Ukraine`s border, including the Russian border. The
Russians have stated that they are intending military exercise, obviously
given their past practice and the gap between what they have said and what
they have done, we are watching it with skepticism.


CAPEHART: The U.S. has been really careful about how it -- how it
approaches Russia in all of this. Why is that?

GATAGNUS: Well, there`s two -- two reasons. One is that because of the --
of President Obama`s stance with taking away the ground forces and trying
to cut back on that and then hyping up with the air and the naval campaign,
this type of engagement just -- we couldn`t handle it right now. Two, is
that Russia in a world spectrum, they have a very, very - I said it before,
they have two strategic punk cards. They have Syria and Iran. They have
been a strong supporter of us in Iran in a nonnuclear Iran. And very
easily they could switch and actually share more technology than they`ve
already shared, nuclear technology, but share more technology and then
create a very tight alliance between Iran, Russia and then solidify it with
China, and not only create an economic bloc because you can imagine
national - natural resources that hold sway over, but - it`s then a
military bloc, and if this stabilizes the region in many different areas,
they can start in the Pacific .

CAPEHART: As I mentioned in the intro, Ukraine is not a member - not a
member of NATO, but could Ukraine - could NATO be recognized -- could NATO
recognize Ukraine as a member state. And if so, how long would that take?

CATAGNUS: My estimate would be decades long. It would be decades. One,
it has to transition into the E.U. And once that settles, the corruption
and the government, the E.U. has very strict standards of governance, so
how member nations have to maintain governance. And if once they clear
that up, they can then go into E.U., perform as a member state and then
possibly with NATO, move into NATO. But this is decades, I think in the
future. Mainly again because they don`t want to push Russia too far. And
I think the U.S. is sort of holding back Ukraine and a lot of the rhetoric,
with the exception of individuals like what Vice President Joe Biden said.

Thank you, Earl Karatnycky Jr. and - I`m sorry.


CAPEHART: You`re Adrian Karatnycky, I`m really sorry. Lisa and Richard
will be back in our next hour. Up next, my letter to one of the few people
praising Vladimir Putin, but first, the latest breaking news on the search
for Malaysian Airlines Flight 370.

This morning officials in Malaysia said that a Chinese satellite has
spotted a large object about 74 feet long and 43 feet wide floating in the
Indian Ocean. This image was released by China state television but has
not been verified by NBC News. The object is nearly 80 miles away from
where another satellite image captured two floating objects. Military
planes and ships have been searching the area of that discovery for three
days, but so far it has been no sign of the flight that vanished 15 days
ago carrying 239 people on board.

First lady Michelle Obama who is visiting China, addressed the plane
mystery during a speech today to students.


MICHELLE OBAMA: As my husband has said, the United States is offering as
many resources as possible to assist in the search. And please know that
we are keeping all of the families and loved ones of those on this flight
in our thoughts and in our prayers at this very difficult time.


CAPEHART: We`ll have more on the plane mystery throughout the show.


CAPEHART: Quick note of caution for viewers. The story I`m about to tell
includes offensive language. I`m using it only because it is relevant to
the story itself. Westboro Baptist Church founder Fred Phelps died this
week. Phelps was strident in expressing his antigay views, so strident
that he and his family picketed funerals, particularly military funerals
with messages like "God hates fags." Phelps and his followers were
decidedly fringing extreme, but their sentiment, the overall antagonism
toward the LGBT community is not far into the mainstream. And that was
brought home in a recent column written by the evangelist Franklin Graham,
in which he said that Russian President Vladimir Putin is right on gay and
lesbian issues. Putin`s laws banning the expression of homosexuality,
however loosely defined, right. His laws banning advocacy for equal
treatment, right. His laws that have stoked a climate of fear among LGBT
Russians, right. Right. And that`s why my letter this week is to Franklin
Graham, the son of famed Evangelist Billy Graham and president and CEO of
the family ministry.

Dear Mr. Graham, it`s me, Jonathan. Here`s what you wrote in your monthly
column in the March issue of "Decision" magazine. "In my opinion, Putin is
right on these issues. Obviously he may be wrong about many things, but he
has taken a stand to protect his nation`s children from the damaging
effects of any gay and lesbian agenda." Yes, taken a stand by making it a
crime to promote so-called homosexual propaganda to minors. That could
mean just telling a young person that same sex couples are equal to
opposite sex couples. No, you can`t say that in Putin`s Russia because
he`s taking a stand. According to Human Rights Watch, the law passed last
year has coincided with an increase in discrimination, including
psychological abuse and physical violence against LGBT Russians. State-run
media outlets have called LGBT Russians perverts and one leading talk show
host said the hearts of gay organ donors should be burned or buried rather
than used to continue someone`s life. That man, by the way, has been
appointed by the Kremlin to head the new Russian state-run media
Conglomerate. This is the law that you, Franklin Graham, say Putin has
right. You also said, "Our president and his attorney general have turned
their backs on God and his standards and many in the Congress are following
the administration`s lead. This is shameful. The world used to look to
America for moral leadership, but those days are long gone."

Mr. Graham, you`re the son of Billy Graham, America`s preacher, spiritual
adviser to every U.S. president since World War II. Your father when he
was running the show was careful to strike an inclusive even nonpartisan
note. And even though he opposes same-sex marriage, he has never called
for oppression of or violence against gays and lesbians. In fact, in 1997
during a revival in San Francisco, your father said, "What I want to preach
about in San Francisco is the love of God. People need to know that God
loves them no matter what their ethnic background or sexual orientation."
And yet you accuse our president of turning his back on God, of abandoning
the nation`s children to the gay and lesbian agenda. Now, let`s be clear
about what we`re talking about here. About what exactly is on that agenda.
Its things like guaranteeing that we be able to work and make a living
without being fired for who we love or for how our families look. That we
can enjoy the modicum of economic security for our families that comes with
being married. That we can raise our children without the fear that they
could be taken away from an intolerant government and that we can walk down
the street without being humiliated, beaten bloody or killed just because
of who we are. That is our agenda. It`s a human agenda. And quite
frankly, it`s the American dream. That you found it so critical to protect
children from that, that you embraced Putin is breathtakingly offensive.
Sincerely, Jonathan.


CAPEHART: This week President Obama, as he does every March, took some
time to make his predictions for the NCAA tournament which started on


OBAMA: I`ve got Michigan State going all the way. It`s been a while since
he won one and he knows how to motivate folks. And he knows how to coach.
So, my pick, Michigan State, bring it home for me. It`s been a while since
I won my pool.



CAPEHART: And as of this morning, Michigan State is still in. So, he`s
got a shot. The fan-in-chief also picked UConn to win the women`s
tournament. But as ThinkProgress reporter Travis Waldron noted, the winner
of March Madness has already been decided. It`s the NCAA. In 2010, the
NCAA received $10.8 billion from CBS and Turner Sports for 14 years of
broadcast rights to the men`s tournament. That`s about 770 million for
this tournament alone. But what about the players, what do they get?
According to sports labor attorney Jeffrey Kessler and a group of former
college athletes, not enough. On Monday, Kessler filed a class-action
lawsuits against the NCAA and the five richest conferences alleging that
they have unlawfully capped player compensation at the value of an athletic
scholarship. Joining me now is Dave Zirin, sports editor at "The Nation"
magazine. Dave, thanks for being here.


CAPEHART: So, I know you wrote about this earlier this week. Here`s one
quote I want to focus here. "The NCAA has somehow created two economic
systems side by side. There is the indentured servitude of college
athletics and the free market - free willing - anything goes life of a
seven figured salary-college coach. It is a house divided and these have a
tendency to not stand." So, David, could this be the lawsuit that brings
down the NCAA`s house, so to speak?

ZIRIN: Well, Jonathan I`m not a lawyer, nor do I play one on TV. But I
can tell you this. This is the first time in six decades of settled law
that we could see the NCAA system of indentured servitude meaningfully
challenged. See, that phrase, student athlete, it`s actually a legal
designation created by the NCAA in the 1950s to deny the widow of a
football player named Ray Denison who died on the field of play, workers
compensation. She sued the NCAA to say my husband just died on a football
field and their response was, well, we have no responsibility because he`s
not a worker. He`s a student athlete. And it would take a judge saying,
well, wait a minute, the system is so fundamentally different now, compared
to the 1950s that we need to revisit this settled law. And it is very
different. Back then the top paid college coaches made $10,000 a year.
Today Mike Krzyzewski, coach of Duke, makes $7 million a year. And by the
way, as we see, he doesn`t really have to work too hard in March these

CAPEHART: David, I know you`ve said on this program, actually that the
NCAA is a cartel.


CAPEHART: This lawsuits says it, too. What could this accomplish?

ZIRIN: Well, it could crack the cartel. I mean one of the things about
the lawsuit that`s particularly interesting and provocative is that it
seeks an injunction against the NCAA for interfering between the
relationship between colleges and conferences and teams that choose to
organize themselves and ask for some form of either compensation or
guaranteed scholarships or guaranteed health care if they get hurt on the
field. Now, what this is so interesting is it connects to the Northwestern
University football players who organize themselves into a union filed with
the national labor relations board. And the reason why Northwestern
University is saying, well, we`re very reticent to actually negotiate with
the players, is because they`re worried about the NCAA intervening and then
shutting them out of all the conferences and all the money and whatnot.

CAPEHART: Dave, this is truly a labor issue, players as voluntary labor.
And giving your understanding of labor deals in pro-sports, how much of the
pie do you think collegiate athletes deserve?

ZIRIN: There was a terrific article in "The Atlantic" that actually tried
to work this out economically, relative to how much money is put into the
different programs through these revenue-producing sports, particularly
basketball and football. And I`ll tell you, the top players in the NCAA,
their value to a school is anywhere between $700,000 and $2 million a year
in terms of what they actually bring in. Now, the bigger question is what
are they getting right now? And I think viewers really need to understand
that these scholarships they get, because that`s what everybody always
says, these big money scholarships, hundreds of thousands of dollars,
they`re only one-year scholarships and they are renewed on an annual basis
at the pleasure of the Athletic Department. And given the level of travel
that players have to go through, the actual value of the education is,
frankly, negligible at best.

CAPEHART: Real - the only athletes in sports making big money, football,
basketball, gets a share in the bonanza?

ZIRIN: Well, I think you have to figure out a way to make sure that
everybody gets a fair stipend and that football players and basketball
players have the right to be treated, frankly, like the campus employees
that they are at this point.

CAPEHART: Great. Dave Zirin, thank you very much for coming in.

ZIRIN: Great talking sports with you, Jonathan.


CAPEHART: Coming up next, the latest on the search for the missing
Malaysian Airlines flight and the anguished families waiting for answers.

Plus, women, money and power. Yes, it`s time to talk about Beyonce.
There`s more "Nerdland" at the top of the hour. But first, a special
message from two young women who have a special place in Melissa Harris-
Perry`s heart.


UNIDENTIFIED GIRL: We`re MHP`s daughters. And we have a special letter
for you when "Nerdland" returns.


CAPEHART: Welcome back. I`m Jonathan Capehart in for Melissa Harris-
Perry. This morning we have a new development in the search for Malaysian
Airlines Flight 370.

Malaysian officials announced that a Chinese satellite has found a large
object floating in the region of the Southern Indian Ocean that has been
the focus of a multinational search.


HUSSEIN: They news that I just received is that the Chinese ambassador
received satellite image for floating objects in the southern corridor.
And they will be sending ships to verify.


CAPEHART: The object measures about 74 feet by 43 feet and the Chinese are
sending ships to the area to verify it today. This latest discovery comes
after an Australian investigator said earlier today that they had still
found nothing at the end of a third day of searching for two different
objects spotted in the region by an Australian satellite earlier this week.

For the families of the 239 passengers who boarded Flight 370 on March 8th,
each of these developments brings yet another emotional turn in an
alternating cycle of hope and despair they`ve endured for two weeks.

At a press conference today in Beijing, a furious relative of one of the
Chinese passengers demanded answers from Malaysian representatives.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are here waiting for you, 14 days. We want to know
what happened. What the reality is. We`re not here only to listen to you.
We want to ask you.


CAPEHART: On Wednesday, some of those relatives disrupted a media
gathering in Kuala Lumpur in an outburst of grief and anger, where they
accused the Malaysian government of concealing the truth. And yesterday,
Malaysia`s acting transport minister talked about the inability to provide
the single most important piece of information to the families of the


very difficult because the one question they really want to know is the
answer we do not have, which is where are their loved ones and where is the


CAPEHART: Until there`s a definitive answer to that question, the family
and friends of those 239 people are left wondering and waiting for
information about their fate.

On Thursday the mother of Philip Wood, one of three American passengers on
the plane, expressed that uncertainty when she heard the news of the
Australian satellite discovery.


anything until we get it from an official. So, we`re hopeful. We remain
hopeful. Of course, you know, this is another new twist I want to know.
One way or the other, I want to know.


CAPEHART: In a few moments I`ll talk with my guests as they await news of
their loved ones.

But, first, joining me now from Washington, D.C. is NBC News correspondent
Kerry Sanders.

Kerry, what`s the latest?

KERRY SANDERS, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Let`s take a look, first of all, of
the picture the Chinese have released. This is from state-run television.
When you look at this picture taken from a satellite, it shows something
floating in the water.

The indication is it`s about 74 feet by 42 feet. So, it`s a rather
sizeable piece of something that`s out there. It could be something from
the airplane. It could also be garbage.

Now, take a look at this picture here. This is a satellite photograph
taken and released by the Australian government. And again, we see two
pieces of potential pieces of debris that may have come from this wreckage,
if indeed it is in the southern ocean here, the southern Indian Ocean.
These pieces, one is 79 feet. The other is 16 feet.

So, let me just take you to the location we`re talking about. This is it,
southwest of Perth, Australia. Where in Perth today, not only have the
Australian aircraft that are out searching, six different aircraft have
returned but also two aircraft from China have now landed to continue
joining in in the search.

The area that they`re searching southwest is about 1,500 miles. It`s an
area about 22,000 square miles, but interesting to note that as we get a
closer view here, that the area where they found the debris, or they think
they found some debris from the Australian photographs is here. The
Chinese photographs are here, southwest about 79 miles away.

So, is it the same piece of debris? Is it even debris from this aircraft?
Nobody knows. And right now much of the effort is not based on electronics
but rather on aircraft with volunteers and others who are on board
literally looking out the window with eyes on, trying to see if they can
spot a piece of debris. There are ships in the area, not only military
ships but civilian ships, plus, the Chinese are sending more ships there,
so that if somebody sees something that looks like it is debris, those
ships can then get a little closer.

They did spot something in the daylight hours off Australia today. It
turned out to be a wooden pallet in another area where it was nothing more
than seaweed. But there are certainly a lot of efforts and eyes on to see
if they can find anything that leads them to Flight 370 -- Jonathan.

CAPEHART: NBC`s Kerry Sanders in Washington, D.C. -- thanks.

Joining me now from Perth, Australia, is NBC News correspondent Ian

Ian, it`s night time there now after the third day of the search for the
two objects spotted earlier this week. What happens next in this

IAN WILLIAMS, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Well, the search effort gets beefed
up. We`re seeing planes from China and Japan join the search, also more
ships in the area, a warship from the Australian navy and two Japanese
ships joining the search. So, we`re going to see the efforts stepped up.
And certainly that information, that satellite information from China will
be one of the first things they look to check out. Although they did say
today the locations of that piece of debris is in an area where they have
been searching Saturday.

So, it`s not in an area outside their current search area but smack in the
middle and they never spotted anything today. Intriguingly as well, as
Kerry said, there were reports of a pallet in the water and other small
debris which was spotted by civil aircraft which is part of the search.

Now, one of the more sophisticated military aircraft then went into that
area to check it out. And all they found was seaweed. They are going back
tomorrow and take another look. They have tasked one of those ships and
pick up whatever was in the water.

Now, today, they benefitted from pretty good weather, calm seas. But
that`s not going to last. There`s warning of storms on the way, a tropical
cyclone. So, things are going to get much choppier as this effort gets
stepped up. But, certainly, an encouraging development with the Chinese
satellite image, but certainly people here on the ground are being very
cautious before reading too much into it, Jonathan.

CAPEHART: NBC News correspondent Ian Williams in Perth, Australia. Thank
you for that report.

Joining me now from Washington, D.C., Michael Goldfarb, former FAA chief of
staff and president of MGA Aviation consulting.

Michael, thanks for being here.


CAPEHART: What do you make of the latest satellite image, the size of the
object and its location?

GOLDFARB: You know, I mean, we`re really grasping as straws here. We have
no idea if it is debris. It seems to logically follow the plotting the
NTSB did if the jet ran out of fuel in that particular area and off the
other satellite image. Have I to tell you, the worst ocean currents in the
world, the weather, the resources we`re putting against it just aren`t
sufficient to really fully find this. We may not find anything in this
search and that adds to the tragedy of the tragedy.

CAPEHART: Michael, we still don`t know. Let me ask you this, I`m going to
change my question. Can you help us understand the urgency around the
battery life of the black box?

GOLDFARB: Well, we lost so much -- I mean, this is -- this investigation
is quite frankly is how not to conduct an investigation. I know we`re
beating up the Malaysians a lot, it`s the first experience doing something
of this size. But we lost so much critical information in the first
several days. Had we had robust data reporter on that -- in that cockpit,
we would be in the Air France situation of knowing much more precisely,
Jonathan, what part of the ocean that we need to look at.

So, we know the ping from the so-called black box. There`s 30, sometimes
it can last 45 days. But, you know, we`re not even there yet.

You notice the low-tech way. We have low-tech humanized search of the
area. We`re not even at a point to begin to think about the black boxes.
We want a piece of debris.

The one encouraging thing is that one piece of debris, if it is that big,
it could be a wing of a 777. That wing could be floating because it has
air compression inside. And that would tell us a lot. But without
forensic evidence, we are back to square one on this investigation.

CAPEHART: Michael, there`s several theories that have been floated about
what happened to the plane. But let me get your thoughts on this one
posited by a 20-year-old pilot this week for

Chris Goodfellow writes, "The loss of transponders and communication makes
perfect sense in a fire. And there most likely was an electrical fire. It
probably was a serious event and the flight crew was occupied with
controlling the plane and trying to fight the fire. What I think happened
is the flight crew was overcome by smoke and the plane continued on the
heading probably on autopilot until it ran out of fuel or the fire
destroyed the control surfaces and it crashed."

GOLDFARB: Yes, I mean, you know, it`s interesting. We`re speculating on
speculation here. Invariably we`re wrong, Jonathan, because each craft as
a unique kind of DNA to it. It`s always a series of things.

But, you know, what`s interesting about this particular hypothesis it would
explain a plane on autopilot flying for six or seven hours. It reminds me
of both the Payne Stewart plane where there was decompression and the crew
lost consciousness but there`s every reason to believer, and that`s why the
NTSB, the FAA and others keep the safety part on air safety on the table

There`s every reason to believe there was a gradual problem -- aviate,
navigate, communicate. So, even though we focus on and fixate on that turn
and was the transponder on, was the ACARS on. The pilots, very seasoned,
could have been thinking about an alternate airport because they were
beginning to experience anything, smoke in the cabin, probably not those
lithium ion batteries. That would have been more catastrophic like the
Value Jet crash in the Everglade.

But smoke and the lessons would be to gradually turn off all the electronic
buses, and very well could have been. But once again, without data,
without forensics, we`re all just one -- two weeks later in a guessing

CAPEHART: Michael Goldfarb in Washington, D.C. -- thanks.

GOLDFARB: You`re welcome.

CAPEHART: I want to go to Kuala Lumpur where NBC News correspondent Kier
Simmons has been reporting on the investigation being conducted by
Malaysian officials and how families involved are responding to
developments in this story.

SIMMONS: Hey, Jonathan. Yes, good morning.

That potential Chinese sighting will just cause more anxiety for relatives
and families, to be honest. Already they are really frustrated, we have
seen more scenes in Beijing at a meeting with Malaysia Airline officials
where relatives got so furious because they felt as if the meeting had been
finished early, as if they hadn`t been allowed to ask all of their

One after another stood up and demanded that they get at least the
opportunity for that meeting to carry on. Meanwhile, here we are told that
there are insurance payments being made by the airline.

Now, this is part of the regulation when a plane has disappeared for this
long. It isn`t a reflection on what might have happened to the passengers
but it is like, yes, a grim reminder that we are now more than two weeks
since the Flight 370 disappeared and for the relatives, aside from all of
that, they are just left here waiting, hoping for news.

They are -- they do have counselors in place to help them, particularly if
the worst kind of news comes along. But before then, they are left with
the painful process of everyday waking up and not knowing what happened to
flight 370, what happened to their loved ones -- Jonathan.

CAPEHART: Thank you, Kier Simmons in Kuala Lumpur.

We need to take a quick break. But when we come back, I want to pick up on
what Kier was just talking about, particularly families of the 239 people
onboard that flight.


CAPEHART: For the last two weeks, the world has been focused on the
mystery of the missing. But for the relatives and friends of those aboard
Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, the focus has been on the 239 people who
vanished that day without a trace. The latest satellite discovery has
brought us no closer to the answers about what happened to the plane or the
people, which has left the loved ones of those on board with lingering
questions and unresolved grieft.

Back with me at the table: Richard Kim, executive editor of

Joining me now is Dr. Ann Rosen Spector, a clinical psychologist.

Dr. Spector, thank you for being here today.

So, these families have now spent two weeks trying to process various
unsubstantiated theories again today, we`re talking about new satellite
images, trying to figure out what may or may not have happened to their
loved ones. Can you give us a sense of what they maybe enduring

roller coaster, the human experience is to complete the circle, to get a
complete narrative with the complete beginning, middle and end. They have
no idea what`s going on. Every day, they`re transposing their feelings
between anger and fear and loss and sadness and hope again.

I`m sure none of the family members are eating or sleeping and it just adds
to their stress levels.

CAPEHART: Now, there`s been a lot of criticism of the Malaysian government
in terms of the information they`ve been passing along. How should
institutions support individuals in an evolving disaster crisis like this
when there are no definitive answers?

SPECTOR: Well, obviously, the people want the answers. But in addition,
they ought to be providing some mental health services and some counselors
who can help the people structure their feelings and process it in some

CAPEHART: So, it`s going to be -- let`s say they do find piece of the
wreckage. Let`s say they do find the black boxes. It could take days or
months before any of this happens. So, what does that mean for the
grieving process of the families and friends, and in particular, the
traditions of various cultures of the passengers on the plane?

SPECTOR: Well, it`s a very attenuated process because you never, there`s a
very likely they`ll never know the answer, they`ll never going to know what
happened to their loved ones and no ending to the story. It`s very hard to
grieve fully when you don`t have a ceremony, when you don`t have a ritual,
when you don`t have a body.

So, there are certainly stories of people who have been kidnapped or away
at war where they suddenly return decades later. People continue to have
hope as long as they can. At the same point, they have to deal with the
fact that someone isn`t there.

CAPEHART: Richard, you know, so much of the media coverage has been
focused on the mystery and the various theories of what happened to
Malaysian Airlines Flight 370. Has the coverage lost sight of the fact
there were 239 people on board?

RICHARD KIM, THE NATION: Yes, absolutely. I mean, you know, I think here,
you know, in the U.S. we`ve sort of looked at this as kind of a conspiracy
theory and circulated whether it`s the rapture or black hole. And I think
that is a little callous to the families involved. I will also say if you
look at the coverage in China and Malaysian, beyond the families who I
absolutely sympathize with and can`t imagine being in that situation, it
has tapped into a much broader, generalized sense and anger at government
for being incompetent.

There were schools that were built in China that people were told were safe
and collapse, buildings go up and construction is shoddy. And so, this
sort of happens frequently where government guarantees a certain level of
safety and people can`t get answer about that.

So, the coverage there has been about that generalized distrust of
government officials.

CAPEHART: Very good point. Thank you, Ann Rosen Spector.

Stay right there. Up next, Beyonce, you can call her Mrs. Carter. Can you
call her Queen B, but there`s one word she says you should never call her.


CAPEHART: How many famous CEOs living or dead can you name? A few
probably spring to mind. Steve Jobs of Apple. Warren Buffett of Berkshire
Hathaway. Lloyd Blankfein of Goldman Sachs, Bill Gates of Microsoft, Mark
Zuckerberg of Facebook. Titans of industry, entrepreneurs and innovators,
household name, big vision leaders.

Now, what about the ones with less glory, the ones who slog it out running
the day-to-day operations? Not CEOs but COOs, chief operating officers.
Can you name a famous one, one who generates headlines and intrigue with
every move?

Well, based on our very unscientific survey, there really is just one.
Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg. In an unglamorous job, you just don`t get
any more famous, than Sandberg. Sandberg runs a company whose product is
used by 757 million people worldwide every day.

But that`s the least of her fame. Sandberg`s book "Lean In" has sold 1.6
million copies. It has been on "The New York Times" best seller list for
nearly a year and it has inspired an unknowable number of think pieces,
blog posts and, yes, television segments.

Sandberg is worth more than $1 billion and joined "Forbes`" annual list of
billionaires this week. She`s covered in the press like a bona fide
celebrity, especially when it comes to what she might do next. In just the
past month or so, we`ve seen rampant speculation that Sandberg may join the
Walt Disney Company as CEO when Bob Iger steps down, or that she`ll
challenge Senator Barbara Boxer for a U.S. Senate seat in 2016, rumors that
were later debunked with just as many headlines.

And we pay attention when Sandberg uses her fame to draw other bold face
women to her "Lean In" campaign, like the latest which includes actor Jamie
Lynch -- Jane Lynch, sorry, designer Diane von Furstenberg and, yes,

Here`s Queen B in a spot for "Lean In".


BEYONCE: I`m not bossy. I`m the boss.


CAPEHART: More on banning bossy and the way we talk to girls and women,
coming up next.


CAPEHART: Research done by the Girl Scouts in 2008 found girls were twice
as likely as boys to say they didn`t want to seem bossy when asked why they
didn`t want to be a leader. It wasn`t the only reason girls and boys were
much more likely to say they didn`t want to speak in front of other people
but the fear of appearing bossy was one area with a major gender gap.

Boys don`t worry about it as much. So, if the fear of being a gender
disparaging terms keeps girls from being leaders, why not ban the term?
That`s what the campaign from Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg`s "Lean In" is
trying to do -- to stop teachers, parents, coaches, troop leaders and
bosses from calling girls and young women bossy.

Now, of course, there`s a debate on just how effective that might be and
how we talk to women in politics in particular.

Joining me is Daria Burke, founder of Black MBA Women, Lisa Cook, associate
professor of economics and international relations at Michigan State
University, Richard Kim, executive editor of, and my buddy
Krystal Ball, co-host of MSNBC`s "THE CYCLE".

So, thank you all for coming in.

Daria, I`m going to start with you. Is this the right idea to ban the word

DARIA BURKE, BLACK MBA WOMEN: I think it`s the right idea. I have to say,
though, you know, personally, when I`ve been called bossy, I take it as a


BURKE: But I want to point out that I think that words are powerful and
labels matter. And so, to hone in on the insight from the Girl Scout
research is correct. I think, though, unfortunately, it came across as a
marketing campaign, something that seemed slightly more superficial than
what the campaign is really meant to serve.

So, one, it`s, you know, making sure we understand it`s rooted in real
insight and real research. More importantly, stopping and asking
ourselves, what is it that we really want to come out of this? What are
the real action steps?

The call to action there was a little thin. And so I think, again, you
know, the "Lean In" organization, I applaud them on creating templates and
reports and suggestions for managers as well as for teachers and parents,
but --

CAPEHART: Well, maybe part of the action plan is to just get us talking
about it and you anticipated one of my questions.

Bella Hooks is someone who said, rather than ban the word, why don`t we
embrace it? In her words, "to be bossy and proud of it."

KRYSTAL BALL, MSNBC HOST: Well, and that was kind of my response because
in my household we celebrate bossiness. I have a daughter who`s very
bossy. I`m very bossy. My husband is bossy. We are all bossy. And we
sort of celebrate it and we love it.

So, I relate to this in a little bit of a different way. When I hear the
term, I don`t have a negative association with it, I don`t use it and we
don`t use it in my household in a gendered way.

But to your point, Daria, I think it`s important to realize that language
matters and research shows from a very young age, we compliment boys and
girls in different ways. We praise girls for being sweet, for their social
skills. We tend to praise boys for being smart.

So, these messages we`re sending to boys and girls matter. But I do feel
like with a lot of what Sheryl Sandberg has done, it just slightly misses
the point. And I would love to see her with all of her power and ability
to get attention and press and influence to push for some more policy
changes, things that would help women in the workforce, like helping with
child care or flexible work schedules or paid parental leave -- things that
would make an immediate impact and be a game-changer for a lot of folks.

COOK: I think it`s important. I don`t think we -- I think it`s important
for the reason you`re exactly saying, it`s gotten us talking. So at
Harvard, at Berkeley and at Michigan State, I have to coax women in my
economics classes and in my quantitative classes to say something.

This is at Harvard, at Berkeley, at the top institutions in the country.
So, I think that the confidence that that survey is speaking to is missing
still and that this has to be nurtured. This is, by the way, despite the
objections of the women in my classes, because I get teaching evaluations
back that say, Professor Cook is intimidating. That might be something


COOK: That might be something else. That`s fine.

I`m just saying that I call on people just irregularly and I don`t
emphasize men over women. And they find this intimidating. But things are
changing. The women are coming to the class talking -- informed, talking
and confident. So, I think this is what the term ban "bossy" or the
campaign is supposed to be getting at.

And I think there are a lot of things that would follow from this, like
thinking about the minimum wage and how many women are in low wage --


KIM: I`m with Krystal, language does matter. But, you know, we know we
cut $8 billion from food stamps this year. If Republican had their way, it
would have been $40 billion. Seventy-five percent of food stamp
beneficiaries are families with children.

When you go to school hungry, when you go to school with warm clothes, when
you go to schools that are overcrowded, those are the biggest barriers to
achievement. I worry that the sort of gendered focus, ban "bossy" on one
hand, My Brother`s Keeper initiative on the other is a somewhat distraction
from dealing with the core economic issues that lead to children
underperforms and not reaching the opportunities we know they can.

CAPEHART: We keep talking about Beyonce and what she said about this. Why
don`t we take a listen to what she actually says in this PSA.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When I was growing up, I was called bossy.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think the word bossy is just a squasher.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Being labeled something matters.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: By middle school --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Girls are less interested in leadership than boys.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And that`s because they worry about being called

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We need to tell them, it`s OK to be ambitious.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We need to help them "Lean In".


CAPEHART: And, of course, you know, this has generated some controversy.
Bill O`Reilly didn`t exactly like what Queen B had to say.


CAPEHART: How about we run -- let`s run both of those clips from Bill


BILL O`REILLY, FOX NEWS: She`s very talented and we like Beyonce, but her
new recordings and video is -- is pretty raunchy. And a lot of young girls
who don`t have responsible parents idolize her.

Right now in the African-American community, 72 percent of babies are born
out of wedlock. Back when Motown was hot in the `60s, there was like 10
percent or 12 percent.

So, what we`re seeing then is a deleterious effect on American society.
I`m saying to somebody like Beyonce, look, these girls love you. These
idolize you. You have all the money you need. You are very talented. Do
some uplifting stuff. You`ll sell as many records.


CAPEHART: Just to be clear, he was talking about Beyonce and her music
videos and de crying the raunchiness and out of wedlock births even though
Beyonce is married --


BALL: Has a performance with her husband.

CAPEHART: And her husband, performance with her husband and she`s married
and had a child in wedlock. Just want to put that out there and make that

But, Daria, what`s your reaction to Mr. O`Reilly?

BURKE: Well, he loves Beyonce apparently because she just comes up for him
on a regular basis. I think, first of all, I don`t know if he`s actually
listened to the lyrics of the song that he mentioned, but that`s, you know,
takes you back to sex ed. That`s not quite how one gets pregnant.

But moving on from that, I have to say, what he`s saying in his attack is a
little of the problem that I have with the conservative right, which is
that women are complex. And we are confident and sexual. And yes, we`re
bosses at work. And we run households.

And to, you know, try to simplify her role as, you know, a mom and a pop
star and a wife all in one, it`s -- you know, it`s a cheap shot.

CAPEHART: Right. And as you said, it`s a whole lot more complicated than

Stay with us because it`s not just about how we talk to girls, but also how
we talk to and about women and the advice from some women this week that
raised a few eyebrows. We`ll get into that when we come back.

But, first, a reminder that the nerd land scholar challenge is under way.
This week, we`ve been investigating women framing themselves as mother to
advocate for suffrage and temperance. On Thursday, we looked at how these
arguments for political inclusion by several white feminists were framed
against African-Americans.

On Thursdays, Melissa selects three of the most thoughtful responses to the
assignment. Here are her picks for this week.

Sara wrote, "This struggle leaves women of color at a crossroads."

Veronica A. wrote, "Over the past year we have had a tough conversation
happening about criticism within the feminist community, especially online
feminism. Today`s piece is evidence that intellectual dueling between
feminist movements has been going on for generations.

And Minerva wrote, "Audre Lorde came close to modern incarnation of Ida B.
Wells as fathomable. She felt it the responsibility of all feminists to
understand the connections between unrelated experiences women have of
oppression. There are still three more weeks left in the challenge and
someone you might know has a request to make.


PARKER: Dear Nerdland, it`s me, Parker. I`m MHP`s daughter. I`m writing
to you because I need your help. Ever since my little sister AJ was born,
my mom`s been on maternity leave. That means she has lots of extra time to
help me with my homework. She uses vocabulary words to ask me what I want
for dinner. She makes up math problems at the grocery store. And since
it`s March, she quizzes me on women`s history facts every single day.

I need your help. Please sign up for the Nerdland scholar challenge, the
mother of all politics. Please give my mom something else to do besides
check my homework. Let her check yours

MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY: It`s time for homework, dear!

PARKER: Hurry. Sign up now. Sincerely, Parker.


CAPEHART: Parker, don`t worry, mommy will be back here next week.

Still to come, putting the "ha" in Harvard with the president of the
legendary Harvard Lampoon.


CAPEHART: We`ve been talking about Sheryl Sandberg`s campaign to change
the way we talk to girls.

But we only have to look at the Republican Party to see the challenges in
talking to and about grown women. Listen to Minnesota State Representative
Andrea Kieffer last week. She was discussing a series of bills that would
create paid sick time, extended maternity leave and provide protection for
family caregivers.


STATE REP. ANDREA KIEFFER (R), MINNESOTA: We heard several bills last week
about women`s issues. I kept thinking to myself, these bills are putting
us backwards in time. We are losing the respect that we so dearly want in
the workplace by bringing up all these special bills for women. And almost
making us look like whiners.


CAPEHART: Or the executive director of the Texas Republican Party, Beth
Cubriel, explaining her party`s opposition to a state`s version of the
Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act.

She said and I quote, "Men are better negotiators and I would encourage
women instead of pursuing the courts for action to become better

Yes, let that marinate. It`s all part of a theme in the Republican Party
to counter the idea of a war on women by arguing that women can get equal
pay and other benefits on their own and that public policy need not

I mean, come on. I can`t -- I can`t even.

COOK: When 80 percent of the low wage workers in America become men, I`ll
stop talking. I`ll stop -- and everybody else should stop talking.

When there is parity in pay, when there`s parity in the distribution of
jobs, then we can stop complaining and we can start negotiating. But I
think this is outrageous.

And I think this argument was also made in the civil rights movement if
blacks would just negotiate, if blacks would just learn to do things more
differently, they wouldn`t seem like whiners.

Well, there was something structurally wrong.


COOK: So, that`s what you need to address. I think this is undermining
any sort of women`s movement there could be. We`re not whining and
complaining. We`re actually identifying places where policy or action by
firms, I`m talking just from an economic realm, could make a big

KIM: This is a little bit of progress for the GOP. In the sense, it`s not
Todd Akin talking about rape or Ken Cuccinelli. What you`re seeing is
Republicans putting women forward to articulate anti-women policies.

You see this also in the ads the Koch brothers have for Obamacare. They
have paid actresses now, it turns out, articulating this sort of message
that Obamacare is damaging for you. So, just -- you know, I mean, we`re
starting from a really low bar. They learn one lesson not put 60-year-old
white men talking about women`s reproductive -- rape and women
reproductive`s health on TV.

BALL: In some ways, this is even more insidious because when Todd Akin
talks about legitimate rape, the entire country goes, oh, my goodness, what
are you thinking about? It`s so clear-cut.

But when you have, man or woman, up there saying things like, women don`t
need these special protections, right? That is a lot more insidious and it
is a bit more complex and harder to combat.

What she`s talking about is not special protections. We`re talking about
basic ability to defend yourself in court if you are being discriminated
against, and basic ability to be able to work and have a family. I mean,
these are not special bills for women. So, in that way, I think this is an
even more challenging area for women and for families to deal with.

BURKE: This is civil rights. Listen, yes, there`s this tension between
what women can be doing more of in work. Negotiating, finding that
confidence to be more assertive.

BALL: Right.

BURKE: But there`s a need for policy to come into play. When you can`t
actually have affordable child care, you can`t have paid family leave, you
-- I mean, the Minnesota Women`s Economic Security Act is not just about
equal pay. This is about giving women an opportunity to advance beyond
what`s possible.

And never mind the fact that when we engage women in the economy, I think a
study came out two years ago from Goldman Sachs, the U.S. GDP would
increase by 8 percent.

CAPEHART: Right, right.

BURKE: This is a civil rights issue and this is an economic issue beyond

CAPEHART: Absolutely.

You know what? The president had something to say about this and related
it to men. Let`s take a listen to that.


know, if men were having babies, we`d have different policies, right? I
mean, we know that. That`s for certain.


CAPEHART: Is he right?

BALL: Oh, yes. No question.

COOK: There would be a nursery for everybody.


CAPEHART: Daria, is he right?

BURKE: Oh, absolutely. I mean, if -- and also if men could lose the money
that women lose on average.

CAPEHART: Krystal?


CAPEHART: Richard?

KIM: Of course.

COOK: And especially --


CAPEHART: We have to go.

Thank you, Daria Burke, Lisa Cook, Richard Kim and Krystal Ball.

Up next, she has broken barriers at one of Harvard`s most prestigious
institutions and to her, it`s all one big laughing matter.


CAPEHART: Conan O`Brien, BJ Novak, Colin Jost, notable writers for shows
like "The Simpsons," "Saturday Night Live" and "The Office".

These kings of comedy all share something in common besides the propensity
for puns in the way with wit. They all spent their bright college years
within the ivy gates of Harvard University. In fact, their commonalities
go one step farther. Each one of these comedic powerhouses once honed
their craft at "The Harvard Lampoon".

"The Lampoon" is an undergraduate humor magazine that is quite different
from the university`s other student-run publications. Now it`s true,
alumni from publications like, say, "The Harvard Crimson" and "Harvard Law
Review" also brought their knack for words and leadership to the national

Take this former law review president, for instance. Yes, he looks good,

But "Lampoon" writers focus less on campus news and legal scholarship than
on "The New Yorker" inspired laugh inciting short stories. "The Lampoon"
is now sparking national buzz because of its history-making editorial board
since February. Alexis Wilkinson has been leading the comedic charge at
"The Lampoon" as the first black female president in its publication`s 138-
year-old history.

As it happens, Alexis was planning a trip to New York City this weekend and
contacted us here at Nerdland to see if she any come by and see how the
show is put together to which we said, uh, no. How about you come by and
be on the show?

And so, joining me now is Alexis Wilkinson, head of the "Harvard Lampoon",
and this is your first live television interview.


CAPEHART: Which I`m surprised by that. How do you feel?

WILKINSON: I`m really, really nervous. I`ve just been eating the fruit,
you know?

CAPEHART: How do you feel about this historic appointment? First black
female chief of "The Lampoon?"

WILKINSON: I mean, it`s an honor, really. It`s been a really humbling
experience. And I didn`t expect to win and I ran against very qualified
people. And the response, you know, just from the media has been
overwhelming in so many ways. So, it`s just an honor.

CAPEHART: And the response from classmates and professors in particular
have been terrific. Your professors like Henry Louis Gates. In fact, he
gave you a shout-out in class for being the first black female "Lampoon"
president. So, but not to embarrass you -- let`s watch that again.



WILKINSON: Hi, guys. I`m Alexis Wilkinson. I`m new president of
"Lampoon" so they`re doing a story about --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: New president of "Lampoon", give it up --



CAPEHART: What does it mean to you to have such an acclaimed author and
educator come out and commend your new role?

WILKINSON: I mean, you saw I was pretty embarrassed. I was doing that
hand-floppy thing I do when I get nervous. And I mean -- again, it`s just
sort of really humbling and really makes me think more about what this
larger conversation is, and why people think my appointment is important,
because -- I mean, it`s surprising to me. And so, you know, it`s just an
honor, the whole experience.

CAPEHART: What have people said to you in terms of the importance of your
new role?

WILKINSON: Well, I know, at least when I was a freshman, there is a
certain reputation that "Lampoon" has of being sort of an old boys club,
primarily white comedy institution. A bunch of white guys in a castle all
messing around.

Not that that`s not what happens. It is what happens. But the people
reached out to me that sort of have expressed that it makes them think a
little bit differently about the place. And as someone who kind of had
that same idea when I was applying to be on staff, it means a lot.

CAPEHART: So I`m going to ask you about the "I, Too, Am Harvard" Campaign,
the experiences of black students on campus. Campuses like Harvard. As a
black female Harvard student with your own personal set of experiences on
the campus, can you add your voice to the broader discussion? Have you
been at times -- have you been made to feel you were other than of Harvard?

WILKINSON: I mean, I think for a lot of people, especially people of color
who come to Harvard, unless you come from an elite background, it`s going
to be a really big culture shot. I know it was for me. I`m from Wisconsin
and I`m the first of my family to go to the Ivy League. So just getting on
campus, you`re going to feel sort of as though there`s this whole new set
of cultural rules and things.

And, you know, people with way more money than you could ever imagine. Or
walking the halls with you and going to class with you.

And so, that`s definitely a journey. And I`m so glad that the "I, Too, Am
Harvard" campaign happened because it allowed students of color to express
these minor -- micro aggressions in ways we`re made to feel other on the

And I was really fortunate to be one of the students that (INAUDIBLE) the
creator of the performance, and one of the students she interviewed and she
is great. We took a class together. She`s amazing.

CAPEHART: Before I let you go, I have to ask you, after the "Lampoon,"
after Harvard, what`s next? Pie in the sky. Big dream.

WILKINSON: Employment.

CAPEHART: OK. Certainly, you`re going to be employed.

WILKINSON: That`s all I want.

CAPEHART: There`s no question, you`ll be employed. But what`s the big

WILKINSON: Film or television. That`s kind of my next goal. I love
comedy. And so I would love to write for a show. Or eventually, you know,
have my own show or be working for a night program. So that`s the dream.

CAPEHART: Well, if you go up to the eighth floor.

Thank you, Alexis Wilkinson.

That is our show for today. Thanks to you at home for watching. I`ll see
you tomorrow morning at 10:00 a.m. Eastern. Misty Copeland from the
American Ballet Company will be here.

And don`t forget, the live chat with Melissa about the Nerdland scholar
challenge`s first week is starting now. You can join in by going to

Now, it`s time for a preview of "WEEKENDS WITH ALEX WITT". Filling in
today, Betty Nguyen.



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