ALL IN with CHRIS HAYES
April 8, 2014
Guests: Laura Bassett, Ed Fitzgerald; Simon Ostrovsky, Etan Thomas, Paul
Hewitt, Dave Zirin
ARI MELBER, MSNBC GUEST HOST: Good evening from New York. I am Ari Melber
in for Chris Hayes. Today is Equal Pay Day, a day that marks how long a
woman would have to work into the new year to make as much as a man pulled
in all of last year. Pay parity has been a priority in the Obama White
House since day one. It was the subject of the very first bill he signed
in law, you may remember, in 2009. And today, the president fortified that
approach with two executive actions.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITEDS STATES: I`ve said this before. I`ve
got two daughters and I expect them to be treated just like anybody`s sons.
I think about my single mom working hard, going to school, trying to raise
two kids, all at the same time. I think about my grandmother trying to
work her way up through her career and hitting the glass ceiling. They put
up with stuff, and they don`t say anything. And they just take care of
their family and they take care of themselves and they don`t complain a
lot. But at a certain point, we have the power to do something about it
for the next generation. And this is a good place to start.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Here are the facts. Full time and salaried female workers make
just 81 percent of the median income of men working full time. That`s
according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Now, the president has
compared this whole state of affairs to the antiquated norms of "Mad Men"
when women were supposed to be happy with whatever they got.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So you got The Clio.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s your job. I give you money, you give me ideas.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And you never say thank you.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That`s what the money is for!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: That`s what the money is for. Well, if the money is sending a
message to female employees, that message is usually this, you`re not worth
as much as men in your office.
The economic factors here are complex; to be sure, discrimination is not
the only cause of pay inequities. But even within different professions,
women are still systematically underpaid. Look at this. The government
tracks about 111 different occupations; women only outearn men in three of
them, three categories, of bakers, wholesale and retail buyers, and certain
types of computer related jobs.
Now that`s the overall data. In an individual office, it`s hard to know if
you`re being undervalued. Today`s orders tackle that by targeting pay
secrecy. The goal is to ensure women employees can find out if they`re
making less or facing potentially secret discrimination. The actions
govern federal contractors. One executive order basically bans companies
with federal contracts from retaliating against employees for talking about
how much money they make or their colleagues.
President Obama also ordered the government to gather new data on federal
contractors are paying their workers. The rules require pay parity which
include looking at gender and race. The idea is to use the tremendous
government`s influence as a customer to put more pressure and scrutiny on
prviate companies. The number of workers a company with some government --
some kind of government link ranges up to potentially a quarter of the U.S.
work force depending on how you count.
And to cover the entire labor market, if you wanted to do that, you would
need a federal law. President Obama has been pushing that as well. He`s
been urging Congress to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act since his first year
in office. The Democratic House did pass it that year back in 2009 but it
never made it to his desk. Tomorrow, the Senate is going to hold a vote on
that bill, but it has scant Republican support. Still, the president kept
on pushing today, and Democrats hope that pressure will either turn the
tide or clarify a contrast heading into the midterms.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: If Republicans in Congress want to prove me wrong, if they want to
show that they, in fact, do care about women being paid the same as men,
then show me. They can start tomorrow. They can join us in this, the 21st
century, and vote yes on the Paycheck Fairness Act. Vote yes.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Joining me now is Cecilia Munoz, assistant to the president and
director of the White House domestic policy. Thanks for joining us.
CECILIA MUNOZ, DIR. WH DOMESTIC POLICY COUNCIL: Thanks for having me.
MELBER: Let`s start with what happened today. Why is it important? Why
now? What will it do beyond what I mentioned?
MUNOZ: Well, today is all about equal pay for equal work. What the
president did, as you said, is sign an executive order that requires
federal contractors not to retaliate if people share their paycheck
information. In Lilly Ledbetter`s case, she works for many years before
someone passed her an anonymous note that told her that she was being paid
much less than her male counterparts who were in the same kinds of jobs.
So what this does is basically say, an employer can`t retaliate against
workers who share that information; that way women can know whether or not
they`re being treated unfairly in the work force.
MELBER: What do you say to the concern people have that if this is so
systemic, as we`ve been reporting, knowing it and going to talk to your
employer about it won`t necessarily change much for many women employees.
MUNOZ: Well, it gives you a very important tool to be able to address any
inequity that`s out there. It essentially gave Lilly Ledbetter the ability
to go to court, but hopefully it shouldn`t have to come to that. And
hopefully, frankly, because of transparency, employers will be in a better
position to just know that they`re doing right by the workers.
The second thing that the president signed today was a direction to the
Department of Labor to issue a regulation that requires federal contractors
just to report salary data, not individualized data, but just salary bands
so that employers that want to do the right thing, and women that want to
know whether they`re being paid on an equal basis, can look at the salary
information, can have the data to know whether they`re not doing right by
their workers and whether or not they`re being treated well.
MELBER: Right, and I think it`s clear that when that information is
readily available, at least for companies, consumer-facing companies, for
example, that also can hopefully set off a kind of arms race around
equality. It`s those kind of transparency rules that have gotten some
conservatives attacking the White House today for the pay inequities there.
And I want to give you a chance to respond to that, basically the data
showing -- and we`re going to talk about this more in the hour, wanted to
get to you first -- the data showing women making less at the White House.
MUNOZ: Well, we do have equal pay for equal work at the White House and
we have transparency at the White House. All of our salary information is
published and we know that for people who have the same jobs, they also
have the same salaries. What we also have is a higher proportion of women
in entry level positions that get paid less, and that is the second issue
with respect to equal pay in this country, is that we need to make sure
that women are moving up the ladder and that they`re getting into
occupations where they are -- that are paid more, like engineering, like
science and technology, like construction trades.
So, the president has an equal pay task force that`s working exactly on
this, to make sure that more women move into fields that are higher-paid
and where women are underrepresented.
MELBER: And just to jump in -- Cecilia, briefly, do you think it`s a fair
criticism though to say the president should have even more women in those
more senior positions that pay more?
MUNOZ: Well, the president does have a lot of women in the senior
positions that pay more. The issue is that we`re over-represented among
the entry level positions, but we also are working very aggressively to
make sure that people move up the chain, that women are moving up and that
they`re getting qualified to move up the ladder and to earn higher
salaries. And for that matter, the women at the very top, including
myself, are all folks who got promoted from within. And that is very, very
important to making sure to that we`re providing women with the training
that they need in order to reach the highest levels within government but
this is also true in the corporate sector.
MELBER: Well, I know you`ve been working on this issue for a long time and
this was a big and busy day for you, so Cecilia Munoz, appreciate you
making time for us from the White House Domestic Policy Council. Thank
MUNOZ: Thanks for having me.
MELBER: As I mentioned, the politics on this issue did teak some weird
turns this week as conservatives did attack the president for not paying
female employees enough, and, yes, I want to be clear. These are attacks
coming from the some of same folks who say we don`t need more laws
governing pay parity. In other words, they should be fine with employers
who, for whatever reason, decide to pay some workers less for whatever
Now, to get into these gender-bending jiujitsu politics, we have Josh
Barro, a national correspondent for "The New York Times". He`s also -- you
may have seen him on MSNBC, he`s a number cruncher contributor here. And
"Huffington Post" reporter Laura Bassett. Welcome to you both.
Let me start with this, as I mentioned, "The New York Times" article today.
It highlights the pay gap within the White House, has a study from a
conservative think tank, American Enterprise Institute, that shows the
median salaries for women working in the White House were 88 percent of the
male employees. We just discussed it, of course, with Ms. Munoz. Here`s
how White House press secretary Jay Carney also responded.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: We have, as an institution here,
aggressively addressed this challenge. And obviously though, at the 88
cents that you cite, that is 100, but it is better than the national
average. And when it comes to the bottom line that women who do the same
work as men have to be paid the same, there is no question that that is
happening here at the White House at every level.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Now, I got to say, Laura, I think Carney basically bobbled that
explanation, though it is good, I think, to have all employers, including
the White House, or Democratic offices, responding to this kind public
scrutiny on pay inequities. What do you make of all this right now?
LAURA BASSETT, THE HUFFINGTON POST: Well, we absolutely should hold the
White House to the same standards as everyone else in terms of wage
fairness. But I think we`re talking about two different issues here. The
Paycheck Fairness Act really goes after employers who are paying women
lower than men who are working the same jobs, and that`s not the kind of
discrimination that`s happening in the White House. What`s happening in
the White House is, as Ms. Munoz said, more women are in the entry level
positions than men.
And so the Paycheck Fairness Act really gets at a kind of different issue,
and the White House question is a bit irrelevant here. Although, I do
agree with Republicans saying it`s disingenuous to use that 77 cent number,
because you could say the same thing that Obama`s saying about the White
House. You could say, well, if you control for all those different factors
and say let`s talk about the wage gap only for women working the same jobs
as men, it gets a lot smaller, down to about 7 percent. So I do think we
need to have a more nuanced discussion about this.
MELBER: And, look, that goes to the politics here, Josh, which is, this is
highly disingenuous from a lot of conservatives who, I can`t mention it
enough, actually hold the position that you shouldn`t put pressure on these
employers. That`s their position. Having said that, there is an issue
here, right, if what we`re having is a confusion around whether we need to
hire more women in different jobs.
JOSH BARRO, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Well, I think Mark Perry at the American
Enterprise Institute, who put together this study, I don`t think he`s going
for a hypocritical attack against the White House. I think his point was
to draw out this response from Jay Carney, which is, look, these people
have different jobs. In a given job, they`re being paid the same amount.
And then you have these other drives of the difference.
And that`s the response he got. And when you add all those things up,
that`s where you get to that 77 cents on the dollar thing; you have
disparities in pay within the same jobs, which 7 or 9 or some percent,
depending on whose numbers you trust, and then differences in hours worked
and difference in job types, and that`s what gets you up to the 23 cent pay
Now, they`re all valid questions for public policy. We should be looking
at whether there are forces in the economy that are pushing women either to
work fewer hours or to work in certain occupations that are undesirable
forces, and whether those can be combated, in addition to looking at what
could be done to prevent discrimination within the workplace.
But then I`d also note, even in Sweden, which is a country that has some of
the most aggressive policy responses toward gender equality and pay, still
has a substantial gender pay gap, around 14, 15 percent. Suggests to me
that, even in absence of any these policy pressures on women, you do have
some amount of simply different preferences about work-life balance that
are going to lead to differences.
MELBER: Let me probe that with Laura. First of all, even in Sweden,
always a great way to begin an international policy parity discussion.
But, look, the problem though is not just the idea that there may be some
preferences. I think the argument from the White House here and a lot of
scholars is that we`re not weighting things fairly and there are a lot of
places where if you just count hours, right, and you don`t look at the fact
that a woman may leave and work less hours, two or three instances to have
children and come back, and you just counted for example annual hours and,
say, promotions -- and that`s, by the way, what law firms and sometimes
police departments do -- then in those kinds of structured environments,
women are going to be systematically discriminated against for promotions.
BASSETT: Right, and if you look at -- I mean, across the top executives in
the S&P 500, only 8 percent of them are women and those women are making 18
percent less than their male colleagues. And we`re talking about top
executives, CEOs, women that have not left to had families and just worked
part time and made different choices.
To that other point, you know, Democrats have a lot of policy proposals
here to get at different aspects of the wage gap. It`s not all about pay
discrimination here. In terms of women making different choices and
needing more flexibility, they`ve proposed the Paid Family & Medical Leave
Act, which would not force them into choose between lesser hours to take
care of their children and making the same amount of money as men. There`s
also raising the minimum wage. There`s affordable child care for working
So I feel like Democrats are really kind of going at this from all angles
and Republicans are coming back with the attack of this isn`t going to do
anything to solve the wage gap. But they`re not proposing anything on
BARROW: It`s been the strange thing about the conservative response,
right? It`s pointing out that, oh, it`s not really a 23 cent gap if you
adjust, it`s 7 or 9 cents. That`s still 7 or 9 cents, which suggests that
there ought to be something you can do policy-wise.
And I think there are some things here in the executive orders and in the
law that Republicans ought to be able to embrace, such as this issue of pay
transparency, making it easier for workers to figure out what they and
their colleagues are making. I do think Republicans have some good reasons
to object to other things in the law which have to do with the standards
when you sue a company for pay discrimination that would essentially put a
much stronger burden on companies to demonstrate why they set up their
salary scale where they did, essentially having government come in and
second-guess business decisions about how companies set up their pay
scales. So I think that`s a reasonable thing to debate, but there are
other things in here that should be less controversial.
MELBER: Yes, and briefly let me put up something the RNC says since we`re
talking about the Republican response. Their statement is, "The truth is
the Paycheck Fairness Act is a desperate political ploy. Democrats are
cynically betting Americans aren`t smart enough to know better. The
Paycheck Fairness Act doesn`t provide paycheck fairness women. In fact, it
will cut flexibility in the workplace for working moms."
Yadda, yadda, yadda, basically. And the problem I think with that, Josh,
is, as I mentioned, this has been one of the president`s biggest
priorities. Four years. And, yes, the Democrats have done better with
women. Obama was reelected by a 10 to 11 point margin there. But
obviously, this has been a long term policy goal.
BARRO: Yes, and you see this all over all sorts of policy issues with
Republicans. You say, OK, don`t do this. That`s fine. What do we do?
MELBER: What is your answer (ph)? And, Laura, any thoughts on the vote
tomorrow that we mentioned?
BASSETT: Well, I think -- I don`t think it`s going to pass. I think it`s
not going to get the 60 votes it needs to overcome a filibuster.
MELBER: All right, well, there you have it. A little good news and a
little bad news, depending on your perspective.
MSNBC contributor Josh Barro and Laura Basset from the "Huffington Post."
Thank you to you both.
BASSETT: Thank you.
And coming up, an official Ohio is asking the federal government to
investigate alleged voter suppression there.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ED FITZGERALD, CUYAHOGA COUNTY, OHIO EXECUTIVE: The only things we talked
about doing here in Cuyahoga County is to try to protect people`s right to
vote and make it easier for people`s right to vote. For them to actually
try to extort us and blackmail us by talking about cutting our funds, it`s
outrageous, it`s disgusting, and I think it`s illegal.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: That was Cuyahoga County executive Ed Fitzgerald. And he`ll be
with us, straight ahead.
MELBER: We know voter suppression is very real, continually advanced by a
very persistent part of the political spectrum. It remains a current
threat to our Democratic process.
In Ohio, a Republican legislature and Republican governor recently pushed
through three new laws on voting that Democrats are calling outright voter
suppression. But a there`s something different today. Today, there was a
small victory there in Ohio.
House Republicans just scrapped a proposal to cut Cuyahoga County funding
over ballot applications. Now, that`s the headline. Let me explain what
this means. Republicans were trying to do something that looked a lot like
blackmail. They were proposing cutting that particular county`s local
government funding by 10 percent, an estimated $1.7 million this year. And
It was because the county was considering sending out early voting
applications in violation of a law that it thinks is illegitimate.
This threat by Ohio Republicans was so out of line, it was so extreme, that
the state`s Republican governor, John Kasich, has now said, quote, "I just
don`t think you use the local government fund. It`s not there to be used
like that. I just think it was not a well-conceived idea." The state`s
Republican secretary of state, John Hudson (ph), also spoke out against
this latest Republican tactic. And today, House Republicans in Ohio, they
backed down. Of course, the larger battle is very much ongoing.
Now joining us is Ed Fitzgerald, a Cuyahoga County executive. He`s also a
Democratic candidate for the governor of Ohio. Tell us what this is all
about and why were seeing something that looked like blackmail, looked like
basically trying to withhold unrelated funds to help people vote and why
this has changed tonight?
FITZGERALD: Sure. Well, we`ve had kind of a crazy 48 hours. It was
yesterday that we found out that the legislature had inserted a provision
and then passed it out of committee that was gonna cut 10 percent of our
local government funding for the sole reason that we were talking about
trying to protect people`s right to vote by sending out vote by mail
And for 24 hours, basically, we scrambled to try to figure out what kind of
legal recourse we could come up with to try to stop this. Now, we`ve
beaten them before, Ari, in court.
But this was a different tactic. Instead of fighting us in the courts
where we have won consistently, they said, "Well, let`s -- let`s hit them
in the pocketbook." And by the way, these funds are the funds that we use
for police and fire services, for EMS. I mean, this is the cheapest of
And so this morning at 10:30, we contacted the Justice Department,
submitted a memo that basically said that what they`re doing is coercion.
It`s extortion. We think it`s a violation of the Equal Protection clause.
It`s a violation of the Voting Rights Act. We asked for a Department of
After we did that, then the dominos started to fall. And the good news is,
as of tonight, they`ve backed off.
MELBER: And of course part of this -- part of the Voting Rights Act has
fallen under the Supreme Court ruling last year. But what part and what
argument did you make that this violates what remains on the books?
FITZGERALD: Well, basically, because what they`re talking about changing
has had a disproportionate effect, particularly, among African-American
voters. So if you look at the early voting provisions that they have tried
to -- tried to reduce in recent legislation, that`s something where
African-Americans in this state were three times more likely to avail
themselves of using those provisions than non-African-Americans. And so,
it clearly has had a discriminatory effect.
And again, we`re used to fighting that -- that battle with them in the
courts. This was the first time where they tried to coerce us by actually
taking the funds away that we use to provide services for -- for all of our
residents on a daily basis.
MELBER: And do you think that the problem they had politically within the
Republican party in your state was this tactic? I mean, this is what we`re
emphasizing, this sort of blackmail or this attempt to withhold the money.
Because we know that Republicans have been very aggressive about limiting
aspects of the vote.
MELBER: That`s not controversial. So is that sort of what backfired on
FITZGERALD: Well, let me -- let me point out. We reacted to this
yesterday as soon as we heard it. The governor -- Governor Kasich refused
to comment on it yesterday.
FITZGERALD: And so did the secretary of state. It wasn`t until -- I mean,
literally we were at federal court at 10:30. And it wasn`t until after we
did that, Ari, that the secretary of state came out about an hour later,
and then the governor came out an hour after that.
The bottom line is, I think they know that this was a violation of the law.
I think they know -- I think they know damn well what they were doing with
this. And I think they did it intentionally. And I think once we called
them on it, and once we stood up to them on it, I think that`s the lesson
to be learned here, that when these types of attempts at voter suppression
happen, we have to be just as strong and just as determined on the other
MELBER: And what -- when you look at that ruling -- I mentioned with John
Roberts and many conservatives on the court said and a lot of folks in the
conservative, you know, philosophical conversation said, "Look, we don`t
need all the Voting Rights Act anymore because we`re in a different world
today. We don`t have these kind of problems." Do you have a different
view of that after this week?
FITZGERALD: I mean, absolutely. I mean, we`ve learned -- we learned two
things in recent weeks, unfortunately in Ohio.
Number one, is that they`re willing to pass laws and pass voter
restrictions that disproportionately affect certain portions of our
electorate, particularly African-Americans. That`s number one.
And number two is, they`re willing to go to extreme lengths and not just
within the court system. They`re also use -- willing to use political
pressure as well. It was really pretty shameless, and luckily we had a big
outcry about it. We brought in the Department of Justice and notified them
about it. And they backed down.
MELBER: Yeah, and I couldn`t -- I cover voting rights issues a lot. I
couldn`t think of another recent instance in the modern area where you had
this kind defunding over access to the polls. Pretty -- pretty strong stuff
and interesting to see the responses you`re getting.
Ed Fitzgerald, Cuyahoga County executive, thank you for your time tonight.
FITZGERALD: Thank you, Ari.
MELBER: Now you may have heard something about the situation in Ukraine
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN KERRY, SECRETARY OF STATE: It is clear that Russian special forces
and agents have been the catalysts behind the chaos of the last 24 hours.
Some have even been arrested and exposed. And equally as clear, must be
the reality that the United States and our allies will not hesitate to use
21st Century tools to hold Russia accountable for 19th Century behavior.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: It is not quiet anymore. There are some are new developments in
the region; there you heard Secretary Kerry speaking today. We have the
report from the ground. That`s enxt.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: On the issue of Ukraine, my hero, Teddy
Roosevelt, used to say "Talk softly but carry a big stick." What you`re
doing is talking strongly and carrying a very small stick. In fact, a
KERRY: Your friend Teddy Roosevelt also said that the credit belongs to
the people who are in the arena who are trying to get things done. And
we`re trying to get something done.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Secretary of State John Kerry was on Capitol Hill today parrying
Republican criticism over the president`s approach to Ukraine. It had
seemed like all was quiet on the Eastern front of Ukraine for a time.
Conversations between President Obama and Russian president Vladimir Putin
just last month seemed to ease some Western fears that Russia would take
more than Crimean peninsula. But, Ukrainian cities have now seen a violent
few days in the capital Kiev. A fist fight broke out in parliament
reflecting some tensions between the communist party and the far-right
party coming to a boil. And, in the eastern part of the country, pro-
Russian protestors have taken to the streets. Sec. Kerry says Russia is
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KERRY: And, everything we have seen in the last 48 hours from Russian
provocateurs and agents operating in eastern Ukraine tells us that they
have been sent there, determined to create chaos.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: On the other hand, Russia`s foreign minister Sergei Lavrov denied
that charge tweeting, "Stop laying the blame at our door." In Ukraine,
pro-Russian separatist in the cities of Donetsk, Kharkiv and Luhansk are
calling for referendums. Somewhat similar to the one infamously held in
They are also clashing with pro-Ukraine demonstrators and occupying
government buildings. Here in this video, posted by Ukrainian reporters,
armed men are shown occupying security headquarters in the city of Luhansk
calling up to 60 reported hostages. In Kharkiv, a local T.V. station was
attacked, and police have disarmed pro-Russian activist after they took
over an administration building in the city of Donetsk. Meanwhile, pro-
Russian demonstrators have taken over a different building and reportedly
declared some kind of People`s Republic and that is where we find Vice News
correspondent Simon Ostrovsky
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SIMON OSTROVSKY, VICE NEWS CORRESPONDENT: I have just been inside the
regional administration building. It is completely taken over. It is full
of people wearing masks with sticks, vest. They are wearing protective
gear that they made themselves. They put a whole load of Molotov
cocktails. And, it looks like they are preparing for the Ukrainian
authorities, if they decided to come -- to come and take the building back.
They are -- they want to stay in the building until a referendum on
independence and they already said that that means to happen before May
11th. And, they definitely want to be a part of Russia. No surprise
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: That is a new footage. And, joining us now by phone from Donetsk
in Eastern Ukraine is VICE News Correspondent Simon Ostrovsky. Welcome and
tell us what you are seeing on the ground today.
OSTROVSKY: Hi, Ari. Well, today, in Eastern Ukraine in Donetsk, we have
been inside the administration building, which is still occupied by
supporters of Russia. And, we have actually seen them meet and try to
hammer out an interim government. And, asked the international group for
recognition. We were at the meeting where they were deciding all of these
things earlier today.
But, I think it should be pointed out about what they are calling the
Donetsk People`s Republic is that it is not a very huge country. And, that
it probably just consists of the people inside the occupation building and
a few hundred people outside on the square and the rest of the city is
pretty much carrying on with life as usual. I actually spoke with the Kiev
pointed government on the region who is also very much still here too.
And, he told us that he thinks that this thing will -- well, at least, in
Donetsk that the people who have declared the People`s Republic here will
probably last for a couple of days. At least, that is their perspective.
But, they are still holding the building. It is filled with people who
support Russia. And that is certainly something that the authorities here
will need to be dealing with.
MELBER: Yes. And, some of the footage is dramatic and even reminiscent of
what we have seen earlier in other parts of the region in these conflicts.
And, yet as you are reporting, obviously we are talking about a huge gap
here between some of the separatist rhetoric if you will and the actual
scale of this thing, what is your view being on the ground of what we
reported on in the back and forth between Russia and the U.S. and whether
this reflects a direct Russian operations.
OSTROVSKY: Well, you know, it is hard to see with the naked eye if the
Russians are directly involved in what is happening here. I think the
people who are now saying that they want this part of the country to be
part of Russia definitely encouraged by what Russia has done in Crimea, and
are encouraged by the rhetoric coming out of Moscow.
But, whether or not they are actually being given an instructions or being
financed by Russia. It is hard to tell. I feel like a lot of people who
are out there and again this is a few hundred people or may be up to a
thousand people in and around the administration building are genuinely
want to be a part of Russia.
And, I think for them, though, the interesting thing is going to be what is
going to be the Russian response to their action. Now, that they have come
out and very openly told the world, and perhaps in the process, broken some
Ukrainian laws. What is the interesting things is what is going to happen
MELBER: But, would you interpret the Russian statements here as less
aggressive than they were when we saw much larger types of incidents in the
OSTROVSKY: Yes. Well, in terms of what is happening here, it is still
very early days. And, so, there is a lot of uncertainty amongst the
protesters themselves and the people who have declared this People`s
Republic. So, I think they are much more ensured of themselves than the
Russian supporters in Crimea were.
And, as a consequences that they are, you know, less sure about harassing
people like me who show up with a camera. So, it is been a lot easier to
work here than it was in Crimea up until now. But, you know, if the
situation changes, that might change too.
In Luhansk, with the city that is not far from here, the protesters took
over a building that actually had an arms store in it, so they are now
armed. So, the situation over there might be a little bit different. And,
that is where we are heading tomorrow to find out what is going on.
MELBER: All right, VICE News Correspondent Simon Ostrovsky on the phone
with us, thank you for your reporting from Eastern Ukraine. I appreciate
it. Coming up, should student athletes be getting paid? Or is having a
college scholarship enough payment? We have a big debate on that, straight
MELBER: If you have been watching "All In" hoping to catch the host of
"All In," Chris Hayes. We have some good news. He is back here on MSNBC
this Thursday, look out for that. And, that is not all. Chris is also
debuting an important documentary series, which premiers this Sunday on
It is called "Years Of Living Dangerously." It is a nine-part thorough
investigation into the human impact of climate change in the aftermath of
hurricane Sandy and deadly wildfires across the United States. The impact
of deforestation and political consequences of droughts all around the
The special series features Harrison Ford, Jessica Alba, and Leslie Styles,
just to name a few. It`s executive producer is Oscar winning director,
James Cameron. And, he sat down with Chris for an interview today to talk
about the series and a few other things.
Cameron has toured the wreckage of the Titanic, and is submersible a few
times. He revolutionized deep sea diving. So, Chris naturally asked him
for some of his thoughts on the ongoing search for the missing Malaysian
Airline Flight 370, which is believed to be somewhere at the bottom of the
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST OF "ALL IN": As you are watching all of this
coverage of the missing flight, the fact that there are things now that
appear to be coming. With your fairly intimate knowledge of what the
bottom of the ocean looks like, what are you thinking about the probability
of finding this and how you would go about finding the plane?
JAMES CAMERON, OSCAR WINNING DIRECTOR: I do not want to be personally
involved in that kind of expedition because I think there are some things
that you cannot not see, you know?
CAMERON: But, I mean there are people who are hard and experts at doing
that sort of things. And, I think it is critical that they find the
aircraft and find out what happened. We want have these lingering
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: And, you can see Chris`s entire interview with James Cameron,
executive producer of the "Years Of Living Dangerously," when Chris Hayes
returns to "All In" this Thursday.
MELBER: Last night, University of Connecticut star guard Shabazz Napier
capped off an outstanding NCAA men`s division won basketball tournament.
He scored 22 points in Yukon`s championship game victory over the
University of Kentucky. The March madness tournament is enormously popular
and for the NCAA enormously lucrative T.V. writes for the tournament were
sold in 2010 for $10.8 billion over 14 years. That is just one piece of
There are also deals with sponsors like the Ladder manufacturing and
clothing company on display. In this picture, Connecticut Guard Ryan
Boatright cutting down the net just last night along with ticket sales for
office from selling replica`s of the player`s jerseys, conference T.V.
deals and all the over revenue sources attached to big time college sports.
That money has made a lot of folks rich and it is not like the situation is
confined to the private sector here. All four schools in this year is
final four were public universities. Big name coaches can make more than
the University President. Take a look at this map from last year showing
the highest paid public employee in the vast majority of states is a
football or basketball coach.
In fact, the losing coach in the last night`s game, Kentucky`s John
Calipari is being paid more than $5 million this year and had his team won
last night, he would have earned a bonus of $375,000. Without the players
of course, none of these would be at all possible. One study last year,
found the average men`s basketball player in a top year program would have
economically speaking a fair market value of over $1 million over four
And, so, Shabazz Napier, the star of this year`s NCAA tournament would be
probably worth more than that. The NCAA insists that Napier is a student
athlete with an emphasis on that word, "Student" and thus should not get
paid beyond that scholarship even if it means he goes to bed hungry.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SHABAZZ NAPIER, UNIVERSITY OF CONNECTICUT COLLEGE BASKETBALL PLAYER: That
is the best thing to get a scholarship to our University. But at the end
of the day, this does not cover anything, you know? We do have hungry
nights that we do not have enough money for food. Sometimes, you know, we
needed money -- When you see things like that, you feel like you want
something in return.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: UConn had to respond to the idea that its players are hungry. And
they said in a statement to the Connecticut mirror, Napier is provided food
through a meal plan. We should know however the dining hall does close
around 7:00 p.m. Napier says that while he does not support some kind of
big pay checks systems for players, he does back the effort by North
Western University football players to form a union that fights ground the
The players are employees working long hours for little compensation.
Short of paying college athletes, an idea that has gained a lot of
attraction over the past year would be to at least have greater brain
trauma protections, increase scholarship money to cover full cost of
attendance, cover long-term medical expenses and guarantee scholarships
will not eliminated year by year.
The NCAA, meanwhile, opposes the effort to unionize players as well as any
idea around paying them. In a statement just last month that said, "The
players participate to enhance their overall college experience and for the
love of their sports, not to be paid." Easy to say -- adding that, "while
improvements need to be made, we do not need to completely throw away a
system that has helped literally millions of students over the past decade
alone attend college.
Joining us now is former NBA player, Etan Thomas. He also played
basketball for Syracuse University and he is the author of "More Than An
Athlete Poems" by Ethan Thomas. Paul Hewitt, the head men`s basketball
coach to George Mason University and Dave Zirin Sport`s Correspondent for
the Nation. Welcome to you all. Paul, let me start with you as a coach.
What do you think about star players saying they are literally hungry,
despite the ways these programs work?
PAUL HEWITT, HEAD MEN`S BASKETBALL COACH TO GEORGE MASON UNIVERSITY: Well,
that is obviously disappointing. I think if you poll the most coaches,
they would tell you, it is time to go beyond just room for books -- I think
it is time to go to cost of attendance and maybe some other stipends. It
is beyond time.
But, unfortunately, what you have is, much like we have in congress, you
have five power conferences who want to see that system put in place and
actually in fall of 2011, there was a vote to allow to give $2,000 stipends
to all student athletes. In January of 2012, however, that idea was
And, a quirky thing happened in the following year. The 2012-2013 Season,
I actually had a young man, Monte who signed who got a $2,000 stipend. The
kid who signed in the late signing period, April 2012, did not. You have a
dysfunction between the power conferences and the smaller conferences.
The smaller conferences do not feel they can afford to give that stipend.
The power conferences want to give it. Steve Spurrier, the football coach
of South Carolina actually went come out and his SEC immediately last
August and said the coaches voted unanimously to do that. So, you have a
mix here that obviously has produced a dead-end.
MELBER: Yes. Etan, when you look at this and when you look at the way we
treat the athletes. I mean they are put in the pedestal. Many of them
become super famous. Some of them will have opportunities later and yet it
seems like increasingly, they are voicing a feeling of a real mistreatment
and oppression within the system.
ETAN THOMAS, FORMER NBA PLAYER: Well, I mean when once you look at the
actual numbers, and you realize you are being exploited. You know, Bill
Maher recently tweeted a few weeks ago, he said that March Madness is the
stern reminder of what this nation is founded on, making tons of money off
of the labor of unpaid black people.
Now, you know, that might be a little bit of a strong analogy, and they are
a definitely parallels and of course, you know, the student athletes are
not forced against their will. But a better example, when a company goals
into an economically underdeveloped country and sets up a factory there and
then pays the workers penny while they makes millions.
And, it tells them that you know, we are doing this to give you a
tremendous opportunity that you will not normally have. And just focus on
that opportunity. Do not worry about the millions that we are making, just
focus on the tremendous opportunity that we are giving you. And, that is
pretty much what the colleges are doing.
You know, they tell them to value the education. You know, focus on
education. We are going to inundate you with knowledge and give you
opportunities that you would never have. But you are looking at your
jersey being sold, and you are looking at the ticket sales, and revenue
when they are going through the roof. And, you are looking at the fact
that TNT and CBS just split a billion dollars for March Madness alone last
year. And, you are looking at all this money. You are like, "Wait a
minute, the numbers are adding up."
MELBER: Yes. And, you talk about that from the racial context to
disparities there as well as the labor context, which is how much do we
trust employers to tell us what is best for their employees without any
rules or anybody watching. I want to go to Dave on this. We are going to
take a break. Bring Dave in, and continue this conversation. So, stay
with us everybody.
MELBER: We are back with Etan Thomas, Paul Hewitt and Dave Zirin. Dave,
we have been talking about exploitation here in the NCAA, the rights of
student athletes. Your thoughts on this and some of the racial points that
were raised just before the break?
DAVE ZIRIN, SPORT`S CORRESPONDENT FOR THE NATION: No question. I mean
sometimes I wonder if the Koch Brothers really run the NCAA because it
seems to be built foundationally on the idea of disempowering the very
people who are generating all of the remarkable wealth at play.
Look, I mean I do not think it is some vast conspiracy theory to point out
the fact that the two revenue-producing sports that produced all of these
billions of dollars are dominated by poor, overwhelmingly African-American
athletes. I am not saying the NCAA created poverty and institutionalized
But, I think you would have to be blind to not to see the ways in which the
NCAA benefits from that by taking advantage of the fact that a lot of these
young people feel like they have very few options other than to keep their
mouth shut and go along with the program.
And, that is what makes what Kain Colter in Northwestern are doing -- All
the more remarkable and that is why it has electrified people and that is
why it is inspiring people and student athletes, so-called student athletes
on campuses around the country.
MELBER: Coach Hewitt, what do you think of that? And, what do you think
of the fans that watch, you know, your team, your players as the debate
unfolds around the nation?
HEWITT: You know, I think it is unfortunate that people do not give the
full picture and tell the truth quite frankly. Again, I think coaches and
administrators understand is more to be done, but there is -- there are
quite of few benefits come up being a student athlete. My daughter just --
Seshan decided where she is going to go to school.
She got her acceptance letters back last week. And, quite often the
athletic scholarship is a vehicle just like if somebody has a family member
on aboard or somebody whose family members are large contributor to a
school. This discussion unfortunately, I think what happen is probably too
short to cover all the, you know, the points. But, the bottom line is I
think the athletic scholarship has done an awful lot for a lot of people.
Should there be some tweaks in it? Absolutely.
But, to compare it to slavery, that is a really hard analogy. I think
there are a lot of kids who feel like they have a good deal. There are
clearly some kids like Johnny Manzel or even Shabazz Napier who clearly
could get more. But, I think if we change the system, the only people that
will lose are the kids who are somewhere in the middle and the bottom part
of the NCAA. The top kids will get the benefit from it.
MELBER: Coach, let me go to Etan there and speak to that point if you
would. I mean when I went to the University of Michigan, if you told a lot
of the students that it was rough for the student athletes on the
basketball and football program, they would have thought you were crazy.
And, they may have been wrong for the labor organizing reasons I have
mentioned, but what is your thought on that point?
THOMAS: Well, I remember being in economics class, and I remember looking
at different models. And, that is why I made the analogy of a company
going into an underdeveloped economic area and building a factory because
that is really what is happening. And, they are really giving all the
workers` penny while they are making millions.
And, I think that definitely something can be done, they just do not --
they do not want it to be. The system is working the way that they want it
to work. If you change anything, unionizing the players, just the thought
of unionizing would blow up. I think that is the word he used, "blow up"
the model of collegiate athletics. And, yes, that is the whole point. We
want to blow it up.
I mean the way that it works great is now great for you, because you are
swimming in your pools of scrooge McDuck dollars. You are getting
everything, and keeping all the revenues, of course it works there for you.
You do not have to talk about things of basketball or football-related
income or football-related income or you will not have to discuss terms
sharing profit margin or things like that.
You will not have to discuss any of those terms at all. You do not even
just say those terms. Just focus on the tremendous opportunity that we are
giving to you. And yes, I went to Syracuse. I got my degree. And, my
wife got her degree from Syracuse and that was a blessing. But, when you
look at the actual numbers that is going on and the numbers that are being
made, you see that, "Wait a minute, you are getting exploited."
MELBER: I appreciate that point and the experience that all of you had and
brought to this. Former NBA Player Etan Thomas, Coach Paul Hewitt and from
George Mason University and Dave Zirin from the Nation, thank you all.
That is the end of the program of "All In" this evening. I am Ari Melber
in for Chris Hayes. You can find me on Facebook, facebook.com/arimelber,
even better, "THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW" starts right now. Good evening,
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