Show: THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW
Date: October 13, 2014
Guest: Angela Hewlett
CHRIS HAYES, "ALL IN" HOST: THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW starts right now.
Good evening, Rachel.
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Chris. Thanks, man.
HAYES: You bet.
MADDOW: And thanks to you at home for joining us this hour.
The book was called "For the Record." And even before page one of the
book, in the foreword of the book, the author made clear that he had tales
to tell and the tales that he had to tell were going to make the president
of the United States very unhappy.
So, in the foreword of the book, he said this, quote, "Because actions
that would otherwise bewilder the reader, cannot be understood in its
absence, I have revealed in this book what was probably the most closely
guarded domestic secret of the Reagan White House."
OK, it was May 1988. The book was called "For the Record." The
author of the book had been chief of staff to then-President Reagan for the
previous two years. And the most closely guarded domestic secret of the
Reagan White House that he gave away, it was this one, "Astrology in the
First Lady Nancy Reagan and President Ronald Reagan were not just
believers in astrology but astrological forecasting was being used to
determine the daily schedule and the travel schedule of the president of
the United States when Ronald Reagan when Ronald Reagan was president.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TOM BROKAW, NBC NEWS: "Newsweek" magazine reports that former White
House chief of staff Donald Regan writes in his forthcoming book that
President and Mrs. Reagan sometimes consult astrologers when making
NBC`s Chris Wallace has been looking into that report. He`s at the
White House tonight.
Chris, what`s the story?
CHRIS WALLACE, NBC NEWS: Tom, sources tell NBC News that the
president and Mrs. Reagan have consulted an astrologer several times while
they`re in the White House. And the changes in the president`s schedule
have been made based on the advice from that astrologer. According to the
sources, scheduling of major events would be changed because the first
family said the astrologer indicated another time would be better.
According to the sources the staff would go to Mrs. Reagan as they often do
and say, we can do an event or the president can go on a trip on a Tuesday
or a Wednesday and that she would come back sometime later and say, don`t
do it on Tuesday, do it on Wednesday. And the sources say the president
was aware that his schedule was being changed on the basis of astrological
BROKAW: Chris, what`s the official White House reaction to all of
WALLACE: Tom, a spokesman for the White House tells NBC News they
have no information whatsoever that the president used astrological advice.
But I am told this information was, in fact, closely held. As you say,
"Newsweek" reported and there have been some rumors around town that Don
Regan was going to report this in his new book. An administration official
told me this afternoon that recently, he went to the White House and
talked to a top White House official and said, this is a crazy story, and
the White House official told him it isn`t crazy. It`s true.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: So there have been rumors before about the Reagans consulting
astrologers to make important decisions.
January 1967, Ronald Reagan sworn in as governor of California. The
Reagans insisted that that inauguration happened at a really strange time.
They said they wanted him sworn in at precisely 12:10 a.m., 10 minutes
after midnight. As "The New York Times" put it somewhat delicately, that
decision was made to take advantage of favorable astrological portents.
So, it had been rumored before, but when it broke once he was
president, it really broke in a huge way. The story of Reagan being
organized around the movement of the planets and people`s horoscopes and
what astrologers were telling the first lady the president should be
allowed to do and not be allowed to do. It became a really big story about
the Reagan White House.
And part of it became a huge story because it was true. I mean, they
were initially very angry that the news was out about this. But the White
House? The president and the first lady did not deny the basic truth of
the story. So, that`s part of the reason it was a big deal. It was a true
The other reason that became a big deal is because the man who broke
the news was in a position to be so specific about it. The guy who broke
this news for the country was not just talking in general about astrology
influencing President Reagan`s schedule. He was able to confirm the
details up to and including the fact that one of the things the Reagan
White House did to prepare for President Reagan`s big summit with Mikhail
Gorbachev in 1987 is that the White House prepared a detailed horoscope for
Gorbachev. Apparently he`s a Pisces.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: The White House fired back at Regan. A spokesman denounced
his book as a breach of confidence, seeking to exploit the first family for
personal self interest. Mrs. Reagan was quoted as saying, "It`s come
through to me that Don Regan doesn`t really like me."
But for all the attacks, officials say the first lady will continue
consulting an astrologer about the president`s schedule.
Regan charges that almost every major decision made during his two
years as chief of staff was first cleared with the astrologer. Regan says
he quickly approved the dates for the first Reagan-Gorbachev summit, even
did a horoscope of the soviet leader. He also charges the first lady kept
the president from making almost any public appearances for three months
after the Iran Contra scandal was revealed on the astrologer`s advice.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: This was a big story in 1988. Those are two clips from the
"Nightly News". Those were a week apart, because the story was still
percolating at that sort of a level. This was kind of a big story of this
part of the Reagan presidency. And it was all first made public by Don
Don Regan had been chairman of Merrill Lynch. He was a really big
wheel in the business world, who came to Washington in 1981 after 35 years
at Merrill Lynch in order to become Ronald`s treasury secretary. And then
in 1985, he became the president`s chief of staff.
He contended that First Lady Nancy Reagan did not like him. If that`s
true, the feeling was certainly mutual. He blamed her for forcing him out
as chief of staff in 1987.
But apparently, while they were kicking Don Regan out the door, he was
already hard at work on this tell-all about President Reagan, about
President Reagan being a dim bulb who was easily manipulated, this book
about how the first lady was not just unelected, but somewhat bizarre power
behind the throne in the White House and, of course, the news about
astrologers being allowed to prescribe what the president of the United
States could and could not do.
Every major decision in the Reagan White House made in consultation
The book was published just a few months after Don Regan left as White
House chief of staff.
And he`s not the only very high level White House source to turn
against his president and write the tell-all while that president was still
in office. But it was a very rare thing to do when he did it. It wasn`t
unheard of, but it`s rare. It`s still rare.
It did happen again when Bill Clinton was president. 1997, Dick
Morris had been a Republican strategist in the `80s and `90s before he
joined up with the Democratic Clinton administration, halfway through
Clinton`s first term. By the time President Clinton was running for re-
election in 1996, Dick Morris had gone from being Bill Clinton`s literally
secret Republican adviser to being, instead, one of the most influential
and high-profile advisers in the Clinton White House and he effectively
became the senior strategist organizing the whole Clinton reelection effort
One week in 1996, this was the cover of "Time" magazine. We`re
talking "Time" magazine cover. You see that`s the little guy there, that`s
Dick Morris. It says, Dick Morris, the man who has Bill Clinton`s ear.
But then, the very next week, the following week, same magazine, this
week the cover, "After the Fall: The Morris mess, how it could hurt
Clinton." That was quick. The night before Bill Clinton gave his speech
to the Democratic National Convention in 1996, accepting his party`s
nomination to be reelected for position of president of the United States,
the night before that speech, Dick Morris, the senior strategist for the
whole reelection campaign had to quit, had to quit the Clinton campaign
because of a particularly bad and lurid hooker scandal.
Dick Morris was exposed as having a regular relationship in a very
specific sense of that world, with a very expensive prostitute. That
included him letting the hooker listen in on conversations that Dick Morris
was having with the president of the United States while the president did
not know that, notion Dick Morris being an the phone, a hooker was also on
the phone listening in.
So, it`s not like, you know, being chased out of the White House by
the president`s wife who is fixated on astrology and doesn`t like you. But
the way Dick Morris got run out of Washington wasn`t all that pleasant
Like Don Regan, Dick Morris hit the ground running after he got run
out of Washington. Within six months after his hooker scandal and him
resigning, Dick Morris had his tell-all book out as well. President
Clinton was still in the White House. Dick Morris was freshly kicked out
of the place.
And here`s how "The New York Times" reviewed his tell-all book when it
came out. Quote, "As the first of the Clinton White House insiders to
publish his memoirs, Mr. Morris reveals much new detail. The president`s
childish temper, Mrs. Clinton`s cold vengefulness, its amply an display.
The portrait of Mr. Morris` rival and the president`s former deputy, Harold
Ickes, is scathing and George Stephanopoulos fares only better. One can
only sympathize with Mr. Clinton as he presides over what seems like an
endless backstabbing and squabbling by his White House staff.
So, yes, Don Regan maybe broke some new ground, when he turned against
his president, President Reagan, while that president was still in office.
Dick Morris, a few years later proved not only could you get away with
something like that. You can turn it into the basis for a lucrative new
career in which people paid you to bash the president you used to serve
specifically because that president had once trusted you and held you
close. And, therefore, that put you in a position to know things about
that president you could later blab about for money and to advance your own
So, this is a thing that happens in Washington. There`s modern
tradition of this stuff in Washington. It`s not like this has never been
done before. It dates back to Nancy Reagan`s least favorite Ronald Reagan
chief of staff.
But the latest one of these just happened to President Obama. It
happened in the form of Leon Panetta. Panetta had come up in the Clinton
Ironically, this is interesting, it was Leon Panetta as White House
chief of staff in the Clinton era who had to face all the questions about
Dick Morris and the hooker. He had to face all those questions from the
press corps the day those revelations broke open during the 1996 campaign.
Leon Panetta was sort of a Clinton lifer who President Obama first
tapped to be his CIA director and then to be his secretary of defense.
Leon Panetta published a book last week talking all sorts of smack
against President Obama. He has since been doing an aggressive series of
national media interviews talking about how President Obama is a bad leader
and he`s weak and he`s made bad decisions about national security issues
that Leon Panetta would have done better.
This time around, there`s something weird going an. We`ve something
like this with Don Regan and the Reagan era, and we saw something like this
with Dick Morris, and the Clinton era. But this one in the Obama era has
something weird going on, because the criticisms that Leon Panetta is
lobbying levying against President Obama do not seem to be his own
criticisms. And I mean it this way. When Leon Panetta was defense
secretary, he staunchly defended and argued for President Obama`s decision
to take U.S. troops out of Iraq.
Now that Panetta has fled Washington and written his tell-all book, he
says taking troops out of Iraq, that was a terrible decision. He wouldn`t
have taken troops out of Iraq at all.
He`s also complaining now that President Obama was basically too slow
on decisions about Syria, too deliberate. He`s taking in too much
information and just not acting fast enough when it came to the question of
getting involved in Syria. President Obama is basically saying that the
beef on Panetta is Obama is too darn careful.
Leon Panetta knew better. He would have rushed right in on Syria.
That`s what he says now that he`s selling his tell-all, right?
Here`s what he said about it when he was actually defense secretary.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LEON PANETTA, FORMER DEFENSE SECRETARY: It`s not that easy to deal
with some of the concerns that are out there. But nevertheless, we`re
working at it. We are trying to engage with these other countries.
There are other countries that are interested in trying to provide
provisions. We are working with them. We are talking with them. And we
are looking at every option to try to put that in place.
Can it happen today? Can it happen now? No, it`s going to take some
work. It`s going to take some time. But when we do it, we`ll do it right.
We will not do it in a way that will make the situation worse. That`s what
we have to be careful of.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: And then the same guy wrote a book about how President Obama
is just being too darn careful about these things. Going too slow.
Since leaving the administration, Leon Panetta, I have to tell you,
has a new job. He`s become senior council at something called Beacon
Global Strategies. The managing director and co-founder of Beacon Global
Strategies is a guy named Philippe Reines who has been part of Hillary
Clinton`s political operation since her time in the United States Senate
and her time at the State Department.
Philippe Reines is widely expected to be the spokesman for the Hillary
Clinton campaign once she officially starts running for president again.
For now, he runs the firm that employs Leon Panetta. And Leon Panetta has
just written a book making the patented Hillary Clinton anti-Barack Obama
campaign charge that Barack Obama as president is weak on national security
and he hasn`t been enthusiastic enough and fast enough when it comes to
using force. Obviously, that means someone like Hillary Clinton who would
be much more hawkish would therefore be a much better president.
Leon Panetta does not seem to have believed those things about Barack
Obama when he was working for Barack Obama, when he was running the CIA and
running the Pentagon for him. At least he did not behave that way as an
But now that he`s out and he`s working for a global strategy firm
that`s essentially the Hillary Clinton campaign in exile, now, he`s flying
the same exact anti-Obama flag that the hawkish Clinton wing of the party
has been flying all year trying to position themselves for the next stage
in their own political careers by stepping on President Obama`s neck.
George Zornick at "The Nation" has been writing about this since he
noticed all the same criticisms of President Obama were being made on the
same day using almost the same language only sometimes it was former
President Bill Clinton making those criticisms and sometimes it was Leon
Panetta talking about his new book which otherwise makes no sense if you
compare it to his own positions that he took when he was an administration
So, this is a small thing that`s happening in Washington but it gets
at the biggest question of all for Democratic politics right now. Is the
future of Democratic politics, Democratic Party politics, is the future of
that anti-Obama? Is the Democratic Party positioning itself right now as
anti-Obama for the elections that are happening three weeks from tomorrow?
The midterm elections this year. Is the Democratic Party setting itself up
as anti-Obama for 2016?
Parties decide to do this sometimes. We see it happen over and over
again. After eight years of Bill Clinton, the Al Gore campaign for the
presidency in 2000 essentially decided to run away from Bill Clinton.
That`s part of what picking Joe Lieberman meant. After eight years of
George W. Bush, the Republican Party has only just now in the last few
weeks stopped run away from the legacy of George W. Bush and started
embracing him again.
The common wisdom is that Democratic Party is now doing that to Barack
Obama as well right now. Democratic senators running for re-election are
running away from President Obama. The only surefire, top tier 2016
candidacy that`s already under way on the Democratic side is setting itself
up as an anti-Obama candidacy, they`re also drafting loyalists from the
Obama cabinet to do that work for them so those punches will land with a
With more than two years left of the Obama presidency, how self-
defeating is this for Democrats, right? Why are Democrats right now giving
up on this presidency? Giving up on the Obama presidency and trying
instead to use President Obama for their own purposes instead of defending
human and defending his legacy?
It`s not coming -- the defense of the presidency of Barack Obama is
not coming right now from Democratic politicians. It`s not happening in
Democratic Party politics. The defense of President Barack Obama and the
Obama presidency is coming from somewhere you`d not expect. It`s not
coming from the Democratic Party and its politicians. It`s instead coming
from places like "Rolling Stone" magazine?
This is the new cover story in "Rolling Stone" magazine. "In Defense
of Obama". The lefty former critic of President Obama, Nobel Prize winning
economist Paul Krugman, writes a defense in "Rolling Stone" right now about
how good the Obama presidency has been.
Obama faces trash talk, left, right and center and does not deserve
it. Obama has emerged as one of the most consequential and, yes,
successful presidents in American history. This is what a successful
presidency looks like. When all is said and done, he says, President Obama
has achieved a lot.
"Rolling Stone" bolsters it with this big long litany of statistics
they published. They call it the Obama hope and change index. Six years
of progress by the numbers, 55 figures that prove President Obama has
accomplished more than you may realize.
More than you may realize because the only place anything like this is
being published is "Rolling Stone" magazine. That`s where this sort of
thing has to come from because Democrats have decided they`d rather be
against this president, because they believe that will be to their own
gain. They`d rather be against this president to try to help themselves
than be on his side.
Is that an inevitable political decision? And just in terms of pure
strategy, are they try to try to do it?
Joining us is now Sam Stein, political editor and White House
correspondent for "Huffington Post".
Sam, it`s great to see you. Thanks for being here.
SAM STEIN, HUFFINGTON POST: Thanks, Rachel.
MADDOW: Is it an historical inevitability that presidents in their
sixth year in office tend to be unpopular and their parties turn against
them or do Democrats have a choice here?
STEIN: Well, it is an historical trend of the six-year itch
essentially where Democrats or presidents of their own party, they are
unpopular. Bill Clinton in 2000 -- sorry, 1990, was probably the exception
to the rule.
I think what the president is dealing with in this case is that he
isn`t popular in several of these swing states for Senate. But also, you
have to acknowledge, the Republican playbook against him has worked to a T.
They stopped any legislative advancements essentially since they`ve taken
over the Congress or the House in 2010.
And what`s that`s resulted in is a vacuum of sorts, so Democrats can`t
sort of latch on to a major domestic policy achievement that`s happened in
the past two years. Immigration reform was supposed to be that. But it
was stopped in its tracks.
Instead, all you have in this vacuum are various foreign policy crises
the president is moving around and jumping around to, and that`s created
this narrative which is that the president hasn`t done a lot. That he`s
besieged by crises. And that he`s floundering. So, I think a lot of this
is the Republican playbook working really well.
MADDOW: At the same time, the president in this midterm has decided
that, all right, if Senate candidates don`t want me, and if more
gubernatorial candidates don`t want me, if it`s not going to help them for
me to go out and campaign for individual candidates, what I`m going to give
a lot of speeches about how much better the economy is doing than everybody
thought it would.
And then it`s the same argument made by Krugman in this remarkable
cover story. I still can`t believe it`s a cover story in "Rolling Stone"
about how listen the economy under President Obama is one of the greatest
success stories in presidential leadership in the modern era. And so,
there`s a narrative to tell about the economy if Democrats want to talk
about that. It`s weird they wouldn`t want to talk about that and would
prefer talk about stuff like ISIS and Ebola.
STEIN: So, the back story on this is there`s been great polling done
by Stan Greenberg and James Carville about how difficult it is to talk
about an improving economy when you`re still close to a recession. And
that`s primarily because a lot of voters will say, well, you`re talking
about how this economy is improving but I don`t feel it in my pocketbook or
my home. I feel left behind. So, you have to be very careful.
And in 2010, Obama was incredibly careful about this. He rarely
talked about how well the economy was doing. This year, he`s leaning into
it. He`s saying, look, the international community would have loved our
recovery. We`ve had so many months of straight positive economic growth,
job numbers growth, unemployment rate below 6 percent. We should celebrate
this. We need to build an it but celebrate it.
And you`re starting to see some Democrats take up that argument. But
you`re right. There`s not a chorus here. People are timid. They`re still
very afraid about touting the economic growth because they`re worried a lot
of people still don`t feel it.
MADDOW: Sam Stein, political editor -- White House correspondent for
"Huffington Post", Sam, thanks for being here.
STEIN: Thanks, Rachel.
All right. We got lots more ahead tonight, including new information
that we`ve just gotten in a last few minutes about the nurse who appears to
have contracted Ebola in Dallas. And the interview tonight is a doctor who
has treated one of the Ebola patients who has been successfully treated in
this country. That issue about health care workers and whether or not they
themselves are at risk. How they deal with their own worries and their own
safety while providing life-saving care, newly on the front burner because
of this new patient.
There`s lots still to come tonight. Stay with us.
MADDOW: Today, a liberal PAC called the Agenda Project released an
ad, a new ad they say they`re going to run in Kentucky, as well as other
states ahead of the midterm elections three weeks from now. The ad is
about Ebola, which ought to be a hard thing to make politics about. But it
essentially blames Republicans in Washington for cutting the parts of
government that we`re now counting on to fight against Ebola, fighting
against Ebola both here and abroad.
As ad goes, this is pretty brutal.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R), KENTUCKY: Washington actually can cut
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The CDC says its discretionary funding has been
cut by $585 million since 2010.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Cut. Less government.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Cut.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Cut.
DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, NIH: Our budget has been flat since 2003.
Responding to an emerging infectious disease threat, this is particularly
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Cut.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Cut.
FAUCI: That was the left hook.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Cut.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Cut.
FAUCI: The right cross was the sequestration.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The NIH saw its budget slashed by $446 million.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Cut.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Cut.
DR. THOMAS FRIEDEN, CDC DIRECTOR: There are outbreaks happening today
that we`re not able to recognize, stop or prevent as effectively as we
should be able to.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Cut.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Cut.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Cut.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Cut.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Cut.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Cut.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Make a cut.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: That ad started running today from a liberal leaning group
called the Agenda Project. That does not mind being that controversial in
their political work. They said they`ll Republican that ad in Kentucky in
the hopes of influencing the Mitch McConnell/Alison Grimes Senate race.
They said they`re also going to run it in other states.
Separately tonight, Bloomberg just reported an a new bipartisan plan
in Washington to increase the amount of money Congress allocates to the
National Institutes of Health. A staffer saying increasing the funding for
the NIH and other agencies is now the top priority of the appropriations
committees in both houses of Congress. Better late than never.
The head of the NIH told "Huffington Post" if there had not been a
ten-year slide in research funding from Congress, U.S. agencies would
probably have developed a vaccine for Ebola by now, one that had gone
through clinical trials and would be ready to use to try to combat this
outbreak had they again not been shorted in their research funding for a
The American part of dealing with Ebola in this country took a 90-
degree turn this weekend when the CDC confirmed for the first time somebody
contracted the virus in this country. When health officials said they were
tracking 48 people who had contact with Thomas Eric Duncan in Dallas, who
fell ill with Ebola several weeks ago, we did not know until now that they
were not counting health workers who treated Mr. Duncan among those 48.
They should have been.
A 26-year-old nurse who treated Thomas Eric Duncan at Texas
Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas is now confirmed to have been infected with
the virus. On Friday, the nurse discovered she had a fever. She called
the hospital where she works. She drove herself to that hospital. Within
an hour and a half, she was put into isolation.
On Saturday night, her blood results came back positive for Ebola. By
yesterday morning, a hazardous materials crew had decontaminated public
areas outside her apartment complex in Dallas, as well as her car, and the
parking lot of Texas Presbyterian Hospital. They later cleaned her
apartment, reverse 911 calls were then made to homes around her apartment
telling residents a health care worker who lived in their area had tested
positive for Ebola but there`s no ongoing danger to the public`s health.
An investigation is under way to try to figure out how this nurse in
Dallas became infected. There`s speculation about how the virus might have
breached the protective gear she was wearing. But as of yet, there are no
Now we have several people who contracted the Ebola virus in West
Africa who are diagnosed in West Africa and brought here for treatment. We
have one person who contracted the virus in West Africa and was not
diagnosed until he got here. He, of course, has since died.
We`ve also one person who contracted the virus here. She got it from
the patient who died. She`s now being treated at the same hospital where
the other patient was treated, where the nurse herself works and where she
was also infected with the virus while on the job.
OK. That`s the lay of the land. Two questions. First one -- if
anyone else is treated for Ebola in this country, should it be done in
normal local hospitals like Texas Health Presbyterian in Dallas? They are
now dealing with their second case which is one of their own workers
infected on the job.
Should hospitals like that be handling cases like this? Or should
anybody who needs treatment in this country be sent to a specialty unit
like the one at Emory or bio containment unit in Nebraska. Facilities
built specifically to handle high-risk pathogens like this. Should they
get all of the cases instead of what`s starting to feel like just the lucky
cases? Just the lucky patients?
And second question -- if you are a health worker in this cannot, is
it reasonable for you to expect you can do your job safely if you are
called an to be a front line worker in fighting this disease? Can you do
so without unacceptable risk to yourself?
One of the doctors who has done just that, who has been involved in
the successful treatment of one of these patients has a remarkable personal
story to tell about having been in that situation. She`s our guest for
"the interview" next.
Stay with us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: The lead authority, the CDC, offers this basic diagram of a
crucially important process. How to put on and take off protective gear.
But in real life, it`s complicated. NBC News recently observed a
demonstration at Emory University.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We tape our first set of gloves on.
REPORTER: It`s a meticulous task where suiting up can take 20 minutes
and a second worker watching every step. Workers can be most at risk
removing the equipment.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Nobody knows yet exactly how one of the nurses from Texas
Health Presbyterian hospital in Dallas ended up herself getting infected
with Ebola when involved in the treatment of an Ebola patient there. It`s
still under investigation.
Meanwhile, the Centers for Disease Control says they`re planning a
nationwide training conference call for American health care workers
tomorrow. They say they`ll also issue more specific instructions for
health workers in terms of how to put on and take off protective equipment
that may have been contaminated in dealing with an Ebola patient.
With this news about this Dallas nurse, there`s only one known case of
Ebola being transmitted in this country. But if it happened to that nurse,
could it happen to other health care workers as well? Has it happened
already as well? And what does this mean for people who work in the health
care field who face the prospect of being both key to the confrontation of
this illness but also being at risk themselves from doing that work.
Joining us now is somebody who has been in this position. Joining us
for "The Interview" is Dr. Angela Hewlett. She`s the assistant medical
director for the Nebraska Medical Centers Bio containment patient care
unit. At that specialist unit, Dr. Hewlett and her team successfully
treated an American doctor named Dr. Rick Sacra, who was evacuated from
Liberia after being diagnosed with Ebola there. The Nebraska unit right
now is treating the freelance cameraman for NBC News who also contracted
Ebola in Liberia.
Dr. Hewlett, thanks very much for being with us. I appreciate your
DR. ANGELA HEWLETT, NEBRASKA MEDICAL CENTER: Thank you.
MADDOW: First of all, I should ask if you can tell us anything about
the condition or the treatment plan for Ashoka Mukpo, who`s that freelance
cameraman working for NBC. His family says he`s sitting up and improving.
Anything you can tell us about his care?
HEWLETT: I can tell you that he is definitely improving. He`s
feeling a lot better for sure than he did when he arrived at our facility.
And he`s making a gradual improvement. But we`re also cautious with this
disease. We want to make sure we don`t get too excited about improvement,
but it does excite us.
MADDOW: Is there a fear factor for you as a physician and as the
leader of a team of health workers in being involved in this kind of care?
Obviously, you have the best possible training and best possible facilities
but is there a personal level of worry that you have to overcome to be able
to do this work?
HEWLETT: I think there`s definitely some worry, some anxiety. I
think these are normal human emotions when dealing with this sort of
situation. I also know there`s some excitement as well. And they are
really mixed emotions when you are in a situation like this where you`re
dealing with a highly infectious patient.
MADDOW: Having lived through these precautions at a nuts and bolts
level, having practiced medicine under these protective conditions with
protective gear and knowing what the risks are, do you have any insight for
those of us who are just watching this story unfold, worried about that
nurse in Dallas? Do you have any insight in terms of what`s the hardest to
do in terms of keeping yourself safe from infection?
Where are the potential pitfalls, where even someone that knows what
to do and has the right gear, they might still potentially be at risk?
HEWLETT: Well, I think we also have to recognize this is not a zero
percent risk situation no matter what we do. However, we pride ourselves
in our protocols and standardization of practices and I think those are the
things you really have to do in order to keep yourself safe. We have a lot
of checks and balances in place with our health care workers to ensure we
put on our personal protective equipment and take offer personal protective
equipment without incident.
We really try to take the human element out of it by having a person
who is in charge of removing or personal protective equipment for us. And
they basically stand across and say now it`s time for you to remove your
mask. Now, it`s time for you to remove your gloves. And we really try to
take that human element out of it so that we can follow protocols
MADDOW: Right now we have one person who has been treated for Ebola
in this country who has died. And that person was treated at this
facility, this local community hospital in Dallas. That is also the same
facility where it seems like the one case of Ebola transmission in this
country also happened.
The CDC is reportedly considering sending all future patients
diagnosed with Ebola to your unit or to another unit, another hospital
specifically trained for this kind of treatment. Do you think it`s wise
that they should sort of consolidate treatment in a specialty unit like the
one that you work at?
HEWLETT: Well, I do think that`s a reasonable idea. However, I
really do firmly believe that this disease can be taken care of at a
regular hospital. They just have to have a lot of plans in place. I don`t
think our physical structure makes us more effective at caring for this
disease. I think it`s all of our protocols that we have.
If a regular hospital can work out those issues with the staffing,
with the disposal of waste, with the laboratory and personal protective
equipment, then other hospitals can be well-equipped to care for this
disease. It takes a lot of preplanning in order to do so.
MADDOW: Yes, and that`s exactly where we`re at right now. That
people may know what the gold standard is. You may be living the gold
standard at the bio containment patient care unit at Nebraska Medical
Center. Just a question as to whether or not other facilities and run-of-
the mill facilities can get up to that level of -- up to that standard.
Dr. Angela Hewlett of the bio containment patient care unit, Nebraska
Medical Center -- thank you so much for helping us understand all this.
Best of luck to you, ma`am. Appreciate it.
HEWLETT: Yes, thanks for having me.
MADDOW: Sorely needed best new thing in the world coming up, also a
tribute to the power of persistence. Stay with us.
MADDOW: When you are the entity that`s responsible for this scene,
the scene of -- well, let`s call it devastation that was visited upon a
pretty good sized American city recently, you`d think if you were
responsible for that, that might preclude you from being involved in any
big decision-making in that city for a while. You would think that.
Wouldn`t that be nice? It`s not the case.
A scene from the intersection of politics and unmitigated corporate
gall. That`s coming right up. Stay with us.
MADDOW: As a general rule, you do not want the sky line of your city
to look like this. This is the city of Richmond, California, just outside
of San Francisco. This was August 2012.
The thing that turned that otherwise peaceful day in Richmond into a
scene more closely resembling a war zone is what`s at the base of that huge
cloud of black smoke. You can see some of the smokestacks.
That billowing cloud was coming out of an oil refinery owned by the
giant oil company Chevron. Chevron refinery snugs right up to the city of
Richmond. It`s been there for more than a century.
That August day in 2012, Chevron`s oil refinery just ignited. A
corroded pipe was the cause of the explosion, but the fire stretched on for
nearly five hours. They couldn`t get it put out. Ultimately, that
incident sent more than 15,000 residents of Richmond to the hospital, as
toxic chemicals spread all across that city.
Since that day in August 2012, a little more than two years ago, the
city of Richmond, California, and Chevron have more or less been in a state
of war with each other. It`s not so much the residents of the city of
Richmond but more like the mayor and city council.
The city of Richmond sued Chevron a year ago over that explosion and
more than a dozen other incidents like it over the past three decades.
Chevron`s response was to personally attack the Richmond mayor for,
quote, "failed leadership|. They also labeled the city dysfunctional.
More recently, Chevron and city council of Richmond have sparred over a
billion-dollar plan Chevron has been trying to get through to essentially
modernize and enhance and kind of turbo charge their giant refinery there,
the same one that blew up in 2012.
The Richmond City Council and specifically the more liberal wing of
the city council has been a thorn in Chevron`s side for years. They want
to put all sorts of conditions, safety conditions on Chevron upgrading its
What is the world`s most profitable industry do when something or
someone is standing in the way of their interest and bottom line? Guess
what they do. This November 4th, otherwise known as election day across
the country, there are, of course, big marquee races for Congress and
governor across the country.
But there`s also tons of local elections, including an election for
mayor and city council in good old Richmond, California. In the lead-up to
that election in Richmond, California, billboards like this one have been
popping up across the city. Lots of them.
This is one of the candidates for mayor in Richmond. As you can see,
his name is Nat Bates. That`s the big print. If you read the really,
really, really teeny tiny fine print, you will see something else. Major
funding by Chevron. Tah-dah! Very subtle when you put it in print that
In the lead-up to this election for mayor and city council in
Richmond, California, Chevron is now trying to pick Richmond a new mayor
and their new city council. And, why not? They`ve got a refinery there.
They would prefer their own candidates to run local government there in
order to get out of Chevron`s way.
And so, they are trying to install their own local government.
They`ve been putting up these billboards, sending out glossy mailers like
this one to the city`s residents and running lots of TV ads against city
council members, the ones they, Chevron, would like to see ousted.
Because California is one of those states where you have to say right
on the ad who is paying for it you can follow this as they do it. Major
funding by Chevron.
Just for context in terms of what they`ve done, the candidate who
chevron is supporting for mayor, the guy an the billboard, he`s had so far
$1.3 million of Chevron dollars, Chevron cash spent on his behalf for small
ton mayor, $1.3 million so far. His opponent? Last count, he had about
$22,000 cash on hand. So, $22,000 versus $1.3 million for a small town
Chevron has run up against a city and certain elected officials that
it would very much like to get out of its way. Right now, they are trying
to remove those obstacles by basically backing a Brinks truck up to that
beleaguered city and opening the doors. After the Citizens United decision
cleared the way for unlimited corporate spending in federal campaigns, it
didn`t feel like it was that much of a sort of earth-shaking, national
update when the court followed up the citizens united decision with the
news that it`s not just federal elections. Actually corporations can spend
unlimited money in local elections, too.
But little old Richmond, California, right now is living that dream
right now as one of the richest corporations in the history of the earth
unloads money on that town. Not like it`s coming out of a spigot but more
like gushing out of an out of control blown well.
MADDOW: The great state of Georgia has some of the tightest races in
the country this year. There`s new polling out that shows the Republican
governor in Georgia is tied -- tied with his Democratic challenger for
governor. Also the other top of the ticket race in Georgia is the one for
the open Senate seat that has belonged to the Republicans in the past.
New polling shows that the Republican and Democratic candidate for
Senate in Georgia are also tied. It`s kind of incredible, right? They
both top of the ticket races in Georgia right now are dead even in the
latest polling. They are polling the same in both of those races. And
this is a year when every vote counts.
In a place like Georgia when the top of the ticket races are this
close, both sides are scrapping and hunting for every possible vote they
can get. Well, specifically in the case of a Democratic leaning group
that`s been registering new voters in Georgia, they are simply trying to
find the names of new Georgia voters on the voter rolls.
Last week, Georgia State Rep Stacy Abrams of the New Georgia Project,
she told us that her group, New Georgia Project, has turned in applications
for at least 40,000 people whose names have not appeared yet an the rolls
or on the list of voters whose applications are pending. Where did those
names go? What happened to those people who registered to vote and then
their name never popped up anywhere and it doesn`t seem like they`re
Georgia`s top elections official, the Republican secretary of state
says that everybody who applied to register to vote by the deadline will be
enrolled in time for the election. His office says they aren`t aware of
any backlog in processing applications, but Georgia says they`re missing
roughly 40,000 people.
After our interview last week, after that state lawmaker who worked an
that voter registration drive told us about the missing tens of thousands
of voter applications, and told us about their frustration in trying to get
answers from the Georgia secretary of state, the day after that interview,
the voter registration campaign, the new Georgia folks, they sued the state
of Georgia, sued the secretary of state trying to make sure that everybody
who ought to be qualified to vote on this election actually gets to vote.
The group moved the fight from e-mails and meetings that were going
nowhere into a court of law where they`ll ask a judge for answers and for
action as we get closer and closer to voting day.
In the polling places of Georgia, the voting is already in full swing
as of today. Early voting started in Georgia today. But in the courtroom,
in the case of those missing tens of thousands of voter applications, that
fight is just getting started.
Georgia`s story, when liberal groups and Democratic leaning groups
started talking about the fact there were hundreds of thousands of
nonregistered but eligible voters in Georgia, it sent this ripple to
progressive politics in the country, and Democrat politics, as people
started to think of Georgia as land of possibility. If the way that state
is going to handle that threat of Democratic enfranchisement in Georgia is
by just disappearing tens of thousands of proper voter registrations, that
is a scandal of significant national proportion.
All right. I promised you a best new thing in the world today but
then this other thing happened. I promise there will be mucho best new
things here at the same tomorrow time show.
But now, it`s time for "THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL"
Good evening, Lawrence.
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