THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL
December 2, 2014
Guest: Pia Glenn
LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Rachel, we`re getting ready to talk about
the mainstream Republican family here. Will there be another President
RACHEL MADDOW, "TRMS" HOST: Oh, gosh. Yes, probably.
O`DONNELL: Thank you, Rachel.
Well, Jeb Bush wants to be the next President Bush, but he only wants it if
he can run on his own terms, Republican primary voters be damned.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: On the Republican side, it`s going to be a gang fight.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Jeb Bush talking about 2016.
JEB BUSH (R), FORMER FLORIDA GOVERNOR: I kind of know how a Republican can
win, whether it`s me or somebody else.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Opening up about his possible presidential run.
BUSH: Lose the primary to win the general without violating your
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, if you lose the primary, you don`t get to the
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Does Jeb have the stuff, the cojones perhaps you could
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s a very fine needle to thread.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tell the party of Ted Cruz and that sort that he, Jeb
Bush, has no intention of joining the clown car.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s very difficult to see how that strategy succeeds.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Romney was bloodied. He limped to the finish line.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The crazies run the primaries.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He`s doing a really good job of scaring the living
crap out of a lot of people in the party.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Republican Senator Rob Portman of Ohio has ruled out
a run for president in 2016.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He will instead focus on keeping his U.S. Senate
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This sort of sends Portman straight to the top of the
potential vice presidential pick list.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Senator Rand Paul will seek reelection in his Kentucky
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You may be considering a run for the White House.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Kentucky actually has a law on the books that says
that no person`s name can appear on the ballot more than once.
SEN. RAND PAUL (R), KENTUCKY: We`ll see what happens.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Aren`t they watching Hillary?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What does your 2015 schedule say about possible 2016
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There`s no law that says you can`t run for president
and do paid speeches.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She`s by far, you know, the formidable opponent, you
know, the prohibitive favorite.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Clinton versus Bush. Both get closer to deciding if
that matchup will be a reality.
O`DONNELL: Tis the season for presidential campaign announcements
apparently, starting with one senator who`s taken his name off the list.
Ohio Republican Rob Portman released this statement today, "While I
appreciate the encouragement I have received from many to run for
president, my focus will remain on Ohio and running for re-election to the
Senate in 2016."
Also today, Republican Rand Paul officially announced that he will run in
2016 for reelection to the Senate. That is what Rand Paul told "The
Lexington Herald Leader". He said he was still four to six months away
from making a decision about a White House run.
Kentucky law does not allow a candidate`s name to appear on a ballot more
than once, which means Rand Paul cannot run for both his Senate seat and
the presidency at the same time. Unless that law changes, which is an
unlikely possibility since Democrats control the state house there.
"The National Journal" reports that Rand Paul`s team has, quote, "developed
backup plans for their backup plans in an all-out effort to safeguard
Paul`s Senate seat should he falter in the presidential sweepstakes. The
contingencies range from changing Kentucky into a presidential caucus
state, to filing a lawsuit challenging the law, from daring Kentucky
Secretary of State Alison Lundergan-Grimes to keep him off the ballot, to
taking her out next November if she does."
But it may be Rand Paul`s foreign policy stance that keeps him out of the
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I`ve asked a lot of Republicans around the country
about your candidacy and here`s what they tell me almost to a person. They
say, fascinating person, saying interesting things about the party. We
need to reach out, agree with much of his economic message.
But I don`t think he`ll ever make it out of the primaries because of his
foreign policy positions and security positions. And a super PAC will come
in and take your positions and just hit them one after another. It`s a
practical question. What`s your response to that?
PAUL: Yes. You know, I think the thing is that, one, that fails to
understand where the people are in the country. But, two, it also fails to
understand who I am and what I support. Peace through strength is
something that I believe viscerally. Do I believe that defense is the
number one thing we have to do in the federal government? Absolutely. So,
anybody who comes in and wants to say otherwise will have to argue with the
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: At that "Wall Street Journal" CEO council`s meeting today --
yesterday, Jeb Bush said that if he runs, he will run on his own terms.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BUSH: I`m thinking about running for president. And I`ll make up my mind
in short order. You know, not that far out into the future. I don`t know
the exact time line.
I don`t know if I`d be a good candidate or a bad one. I know -- I kind of
know how a Republican can win, whether it`s me or somebody else, and it has
to be much more uplifting, much more positive, much more willing to be
practical now in Washington world, lose the primary to win the general
without violating your principles.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: But it`s the Republicans` most recent presidential loser who is
actually leading in the polls now. In a new poll, Mitt Romney wins 20
percent of voters. Ultraconservative, retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson is
polling at 10 percent, followed by Jeb Bush at 9 percent, Chris Christie at
8 percent, and Mike Huckabee at 7 percent. Rand Paul and Paul Ryan are
pulling in 6 percent. Ted Cruz and Scott Walker are at 5. Rick Perry at
4. Marco Rubio is at 3.
On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton leads the Democrats with 65 percent
of voters. The next closest contender is Elizabeth Warren who gets 10
percent, followed by Joe Biden at 9 percent. And Vermont Senator Bernie
Sanders wins 5 percent of those voters in that poll.
Joining me now, MSNBC political reporter Kasie Hunt, and former Vermont
governor, Howard Dean, an MSNBC political analyst.
Howard Dean, what about another insurgency from Vermont, Bernie Sanders for
HOWARD DEAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: You know, Bernie, I`ve known Bernie
for a long time. I`ll tell you one thing about an insurgency from him,
he`s going to put some issues on the table that have to be talked about by
everybody, and it`s mostly going to be the issue of the 90 percent of the
public is not getting ahead of the expense, I mean, because of the 10
percent who are. And that`s a big issue, and that`s going to be a major
issue in the race.
So, I think it`s great if he gets in. He also runs clean campaigns. He`s
a relentless campaigner. I don`t think I`ve seen a negative ad that he`s
run. I could be wrong. But I -- he`s just not a negative campaigner.
O`DONNELL: Just describe for us for a moment, the dynamic of Bernie
Sanders and Hillary Clinton alone on a Democratic primary debate stage,
since they`re at the moment no other possibilities.
DEAN: It would actually be very, very interesting because they`re both
very, very bright. Bernie is the most person who`s been -- he`s been on
the same message for 35 years. But in a sense, that time has come for that
So, I think it would be a fun primary. I don`t think Hillary would win,
but I think it would be a fun primary, and I think it would be an important
primary because of the issues that he`s going to raise are really
O`DONNELL: Kasie Hunt, the next possible Bush presidential candidate has
crossed the coy line. He`s not doing that avoid and evade it thing. He`s
saying, yes, I`m thinking about running for president.
KASIE HUNT, MSNBC POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Lawrence, you know, I
watched that whole sort of back and forth he had at that "Wall Street
Journal" event, and I was really struck by how much candor seemed to be on
display. It`s something that`s been sort of missing from our politics.
And while I had been hearing for a little while behind the scenes that
these were some of the lines that Jeb Bush is thinking about, whether or
not he was going to mount a bid, it was striking in some ways to hear him
say out loud, I just don`t know if I have the skills to do this, he said,
without getting sucked into the vortex. Those were his words.
And then he went on to say, as you outlined, that he`s not sure if a
Republican at this point can win a general election if they have to go
through that primary, that they need to, in fact, lose the primary in order
to go on to win the general.
I think, you know, Mitt Romney, the other thing that Bush did was sort of
take a veiled swipe at Mitt Romney, because he said approaching it in the
opposite way hasn`t happened recently. And Romney really tacked hard to
the right on immigration to get through that 2012 primary. And if you
listen to how he talks about his campaign now, he describes it as something
that ultimately hurt him when it came time to actually try to win a general
O`DONNELL: Howard Dean, your assessment of Jeb Bush and where he stands
now, verbally, that`s a whole different stage of the way he`s been playing
the game. Actually saying yes, I`m thinking about it.
DEAN: Yes, I`ve been on stages with him a few times in the last couple of
years. He is much -- he`s pretty candid. He doesn`t really sound like a
politician. He`ll give you some opinions which he may well give on the
stump which will be anathema to the right wing.
On the other hand, who better to face down the right wing than Jeb Bush. I
do think there`s going to be a struggle inside the Republican Party. They
normally nominate the more moderate candidate. Romney was moderate. He
did his best to convince people he was a, quote-unquote, "severe
conservative", which did kill him in the end.
But, you know, I think if Jeb runs, and I have no insight on whether he
will or not, what you see is what you get. And you`re going to see a lot
of that kind of stuff and there`s going to be a big uproar in the
Republican Party about it.
O`DONNELL: Kasie, what was betting at that event, the people actually
listening to Jeb Bush openly talking about the possibility of running?
HUNT: Well, think about who the crowd is. It`s a CEO council. So, it`s a
gathering of basically members who are running big corporations.
So, Jeb Bush in some ways is the kind of candidate they`re looking for.
He`s somebody who could be seen as pro-business. He`s been supportive of
Common Core, for example, which is something that the business community is
very supportive of, but something that the base of the party is opposed to.
And the same thing goes for immigration. You know, businesses are looking
for more ways to get employees for their businesses into what the United
States. They`ve been supportive of immigration reform. That is another
thing that the base of the party is just completely against.
And so, I think that was the tension that Bush was pretty directly
referring to. You know, can you run as somebody who`s going to be with the
establishment of the party and to, you know, be moderate, be in a place
where you can potentially draw broad support, or does he need to turn to
the right. So, I think the reaction in the room was pretty supportive of
the way Bush came across.
O`DONNELL: Howard, it looks like we`re going to find out just how much
Rand Paul likes being a senator or doesn`t like being a senator, because I
didn`t hear one thing on their crazy wish list about how he can run for
president and Senate that will work. He`s going to have to make that
DEAN: This is a big problem. Other people have faced this problem as
well. Joe Lieberman faced this problem. Connecticut does not have a law
like the one in Kentucky. But there are other -- this may not hurt him in
Kentucky. It will make him look bad.
You know, Rand Paul`s strength is that he`s kind of a fresh face and he has
interesting ideas, which may turn out to be a little goofy, but they are
appealing on a superficial basis. What`s not appealing is a politician
who`s so anxious to be in the political game that he`s willing to try to
skirt the law and get it changed. That is very unappealing.
So, the glow is now coming off Rand Paul as he seems like just another
politician. And that`s a very, very bad thing for him.
O`DONNELL: A Republican debate stage without a member of the Paul family
just isn`t right. Ron Paul might have to get out those old campaign ties
(ph) and run.
Kasie Hunt and Howard Dean, thank you both very much for joining me
HUNT: Thank you, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: Thank you.
Coming up, Ray Rice talks about his suspension and about what he didn`t say
at that press conference in May when he appeared with his wife.
And in the rewrite, what you have to do if you want to write an article
saying that Michael Brown deserved to die. That`s coming up in "The
O`DONNELL: And now for good news, good police news. A Washington state
woman is alive today thanks to a 911 dispatcher and a quick thinking police
officer. The woman hit a patch of ice while driving her car. She lost
control. She ended new a canal. She called 911 as water started to fill
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CALLER: I hit black ice coming off from Vail and I`m in the roadway and
the water is up to my knees and I`m in the driver`s seat and I can`t get
out of my car.
DISPATCHER: OK, ma`am.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Four minutes later, a police officer showed up, broke out her
back window and with the help of a deputy, they pulled the woman out. She
was cold but OK.
Up next, hear Ray Rice in his own words on what he thinks was his
O`DONNELL: This morning, Ray Rice broke his silence on "The Today Show."
The former Baltimore Ravens running back spoke with Matt Lauer about what
he says he`s learned and the criticism he`s received since that May press
conference with his wife.
MATT LAUER, NBC NEWS: We didn`t see a ton of anger on Janay`s face. We
also heard her apologize. And at that press conference, we didn`t hear you
apologize to her. And that upset a lot of people.
Do you understand that?
RAY RICE, NFL PLAYER: Yes. I definitely understand that.
And the reason why the press conference was the way it was, because we were
still under legal situations. So, there wasn`t much that could be side.
But I`ll be honest. We were nervous, I was nervous. And that was the
first time we were available to speak. And I made a horrendous mistake not
apologizing to my wife.
We was going in. We were given what to speak out. It wasn`t truly coming
from us, if you can understand.
But -- I, you know, made that clear in my last time I was able to speak
that my wife is an angel. She can do no wrong. I take full responsibility
for my actions.
LAUER: In hindsight, did it bother you to hear her apologize?
RAY RICE: In hindsight, I think she was doing it because she knows what
kind of -- she knows what I do for a living. She understood my job and my
profession, and they were -- I think it was her doing that to try to take
light off the situation.
LAUER: Protect you.
RAY RICE: Yes. And I appreciated it, but that`s not -- that`s not what
the big deal is.
The big deal is for me to always protect her. And that`s why I say I take
full responsibility. She can do no wrong.
This is something is that, you know, as a man, you have to own and, you
know, and we`re horribly sorry. I`m horribly sorry for everything that I
had to put my family through.
I`ve still got to live every day, go take my daughter to school. She`s
going to grow up. And the way the Internet works now, she`s going to
Google her father`s name and the first thing that`s going to come up is --
you know, we know what`s going to come up.
LAUER: Not highlights from the field.
RAY RICE: That`s the reality of it. And that`s what I`m more worried
about fixing is that I want my wife, my daughter, my family to -- we all
want to just gravitate -- we all just want our lives back.
I don`t -- you know, I don`t -- I realize football was one thing, but now I
realize that the amount of people that we`ve affected, the amount of
families we`ve affected, that, you know, domestic violence is a real issue
in society. You know, we could take one bad night. It just happened to be
on video. But we are truly sorry to the people that`s really going through
It`s a real problem. And I know when the time is right I know my wife
wants to help. I know I want to help.
LAUER: I have to ask her directly. I said, Janay, other than that
incident we saw in that videotape, was there ever a moment in that marriage
or this relationship before or after that where you were the victim of
RAY RICE: Yes, and I understand that. And I truly understand that. And
one thing you learn is that, you know, we weren`t in a perfect
relationship. No relationship is perfect. We`ve had arguments.
But when you talk about abuse, you know, that`s something that, you know,
we know that we never crossed that path. But then, did we say things to
each other that we want to take back at times? Yes, we crossed that line
before. But it never got to an altercation where that went that far. You
know, that was just very uncharacteristic of, you know, myself. I never
like -- I take responsibility. That was very uncharacteristic.
LAUER: You know what people said about your wife. She`s a woman in
denial, right? Or she`s just hanging on to Ray Rice because he`s a
football player and he`s got a big paycheck and he`s got fame. And in many
ways, they`ve been diminishing Janay.
RAY RICE: Yes.
LAUER: How do you feel about that?
RAY RICE: I knew my wife before I had anything. I say this in a way where
she -- she knows where I`m from. She knows -- we both know where we came
And just to be honest with you, she`s very independent. My wife can
survive in this world without me. She can survive in this world, in
society without me. She could have done it on her own.
The one thing I want people to understand that she sacrificed her wellbeing
for me. And now, the role is a little bit reverse. I will sacrifice my
wellbeing for her because --
LAUER: So, if you never play football again?
RAY RICE: If I never played football again, I`d be honest with you, I
would adapt into life and I would sacrifice more so she can have a better
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: You can watch all of Matt Lauer`s exclusive interview on
Coming up, Lady Gaga revealed meaning of the lyrics of her song "Swine"
today when Howard Stern asked her about rape.
O`DONNELL: In "Spotlight" tonight, Lady Gaga`s very personal revolution
about the lyrics to her song "Swine."
O`DONNELL: Here`s what Lady Gaga told Howard Stern about that song today.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
LADY GAGA: I wrote a song called "Swine." The song is about rape. The
song is about demoralization. The song is about rage and fury and passion,
and I had a lot of pain that I wanted to release.
HOWARD STERN: I feel like you were raped by someone. I think that`s what
LADY GAGA: You know, I went through some horrific things. It happens
every day. It happens every day and it`s really scary and it`s sad and,
you know, it didn`t affect me as much right after as it did about four or
five years later.
HOWARD STERN: I have talked to other women who have gone through a similar
experience where they were raped and they actually don`t even -- it almost
doesn`t register for a couple of years.
LADY GAGA: Yes.
HOWARD STERN: Until they`re willing to talk to themselves about it.
LADY GAGA: I wasn`t even willing to admit that anything had even happened.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Joining me now is Pia Glenn who had written about sexual
assault for "xoJane".
Pia, it`s so interesting to listen to, because I listened very carefully, I
never heard that moment where Lady Gaga says I was raped. She doesn`t say
that clear declarative sentence. She lets Howard Stern do it. Interpret
what you heard.
PIA GLENN, COMEDIAN & ACTRESS: I heard many, many things. You were
absolutely right. She did not in that interview today say the three words,
"I was raped." She didn`t.
O`DONNELL: She said the song was about rape. She says everything but
GLENN: Right. However --
O`DONNELL: Is that something that -- that actual statement, is that
something that rape victims tend to avoid?
GLENN: It is incredibly hard to say those three words in that order.
O`DONNELL: First of all, it`s so important to believe. I can`t say that
enough. In this interview we heard today, she was asked specifically about
the performance of the song "Swine" at South By Southwest. She was there
to talk about Tony Bennett and to talk about what wonderful, this album is,
she`s done and her nostalgia, and eleventy million things other than a
And Howard pressed and that`s his job, and no criticism there from me. But
she clearly, if we listen to what led up to it, she did not want to talk
about it. And she actually says, let`s not talk about this.
GLENN: So when pressed, no, she doesn`t say the words I was raped. She
talks about how she had to reclaim her power as an artist. She talks about
how she moved forward in that time. She talked about how young she was.
She was 19.
And you know, speaking from personal experience, it took me about seven
years to say I was raped. As a survivor myself, I didn`t say anything to
anyone. Not a soul.
I put myself together. I remember very vividly even questioning myself.
And that`s something Lady Gaga does say in that interview today. And Robin
even chimes in talking about survivors, about how sometimes our first
instinct is to question ourselves.
In my instance, I was drugged and raped. And even now, it`s difficult to
say. I`ve written about it for "xoJane", as you said. Speaking about it,
and especially in the context of promoting a happy, new album at the
holidays, no she didn`t want to say it and she doesn`t want to talk about
And I wasn`t there, and I can`t speak for her, but I can speak for myself.
It took me a decade to tell anyone. And I never told the authorities. I
would never press charges.
I mean, we look at the statistic, the actual fact that 3 percent of rapists
will do a day in prison, will do time. Forty percent of them aren`t
reported because we know what`s coming. All I could think was, "What were
you wearing?" "What have you had to drink?" "Well, you knew him."
GLENN: "Were you scared?" "It was in your home."
GLENN: You know. And I actually -- and I said this recently publicly for
the first time. In my experience of being raped by someone that I knew, I
was grateful that violence had occurred because that`s what made it
unquestionable to me.
O`DONNELL: You could prove to yourself --
GLENN: Yes, I had tangible evidence. I couldn`t say the words.
O`DONNELL: -- that there was no doubt about what this was.
GLENN: Exactly, Lawrence. I couldn`t even tell close friends, but my
clothes were torn from my body. I had threw them away. And he knocked me
into my coffee table, which was broken.
And those were the memories that came back the fastest. And I was
grateful, and I`m still grateful, because that`s what I hear when I still
O`DONNELL: Lady Gaga said today, "I was 19," she said, "I was 19 and I
wondered, well, maybe this is just the way adults are."
O`DONNELL: "This is what they do."
GLENN: Yes, particularly in the industry. She was talking about --
GLENN: -- the context of being in the recording industry.
O`DONNELL: Howard was talking about these predatory producers that --
O`DONNELL: -- exist in that business.
GLENN: Right. And, again, it`s -- you know, I would never --
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
-- impugn all record producers or sling accusations. As an actress myself,
I know that context. I know the -- even today, in my lifetime, I`ve
absolutely experienced violence from a very prominent director.
And it is that thought of, "Maybe this is how they do it in the big
GLENN: And it`s terrible. You know, I don`t mean to make light but I`ve
had that thought myself.
So, when I heard Lady Gaga say that -- "Maybe this is how adults behave,"
at 19, in my experience with the director, prestigious theater company, you
know. And I`m thinking, this is my first time working. I had to travel to
work there --
(END VIDEO CLIP)
-- "Maybe this is accepted?"
O`DONNELL: When I hear you say that, it kind of answers my question of how
helpful, useful, is it for Lady Gaga to talk about this this way on that
And what I hear you saying is -- this is a message that`s going out to 19-
year-olds and others going into the entertainment business and other
businesses that no, no, no, this is not the way adults behave. And it`s
not the way you allow them to behave.
GLENN: Exactly. That`s why it`s important. And that`s why, when we say,
we can absolutely parse her statements and say she did not say those three
words in that order.
However, that message that you just articulated is so important. It`s so
important for me to say I`m ashamed that I haven`t spoken up about things
that I`ve seen or experienced.
But it`s not too late, you know. We`re still here now. And to say to any
young person, entertainment industry or not, male or female, it`s not just
a young girl thing.
It`s not just -- it`s not just a young thing even. But we have to say this
is not acceptable.
It`s not OK to experience violence, sexual assault, you know, as sort of
the course of doing your work if you`re in entertainment, if you`re a
younger person working with an older person as Lady Gaga was mentioning.
It`s not OK. And you, person who`s experiencing it, you are OK. We are
OK. We can speak up.
It`s time to start snitching and start naming names and just -- you know,
because this has been going on for -- it`s a daily occurrence. And it has
O`DONNELL: Pia Glenn, thank you very much for joining us tonight. Thank
you for your strength --
GLENN: Thank you.
O`DONNELL: -- in dealing with this subject. Thank you.
Coming up, the reason why if you try to prove that Michael Brown deserved
to die, you`re going to have to lie. That`s in the "Rewrite."
O`DONNELL: We are in the final hour and a half of "Giving Tuesday." New
York`s 92nd Street Y and the United Nations Foundation established "Giving
Tuesday" in 2012 to encourage people around the world to donate to worthy
Members of this audience started giving last night to the K.I.N.D. Fund,
Kids in Need of Desks. K.I.N.D. is a partnership that I created with
UNICEF to supply students in Africa with much needed desks in classrooms
that have never had desks. The desks, like this one right here on the set
tonight, not only help to get the students off of the floor of those
classrooms, they also provide jobs for workers in Malawi where these desks
The K.I.N.D. Fund also provides scholarships for free high school tuition
for girls in Malawi. High school in Malawi is not free. It costs too much
money for most families. And because of your generosity, so far, on this
"Giving Tuesday" alone, we have raised $63,330 for the K.I.N.D. Fund.
Lorraine Krofchok posted, "We donated a classroom of desks. It is for the
Children of the World Community."
Randy Schweitzer posted, "I gave a desk also."
Donna West twitted, "Lawrence, on `Giving Tuesday,` I`m donating another
desk to the UNICEF K.I.N.D. Fund in honor of my grandsons."
You can contribute by going to the K.I.N.D. Web site,
LASTWORDDESKS.MSNBC.COM. And you can also call 1-800-the number 4 and the
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: In the "Rewrite" tonight, the proof that Darren Wilson needed to
shoot Michael Brown. That proof all comes down to witness number 10,
according to an article on "The Washington Post" Web site titled, --
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
"Witness Number 10 Proves that Darren Wilson Had to Shoot Michael Brown."
The author of the piece is a law professor who clerked for Antonin Scalia
and worked in the Reagan and Bush Justice Department, and now blogs for
"The Washington Post."
(END VIDEO CLIP)
Witness number 10 is the only witness who was specifically quoted by
District Attorney Robert McCulloch when he announced the grand jury chose
not to bring any charges against Officer Darren Wilson for shooting and
killing Michael Brown.
This is what the district attorney said that witness number 10 said about
Michael Brown threatening Officer Wilson --
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MCCULLOCH, ST. LOUIS COUNTY PROSECUTING ATTORNEY: One describes his
movement toward Officer Wilson as a "full charge."
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: We know he was talking about witness number 10 there because
witness number 10 is the one and the only witness to use the words "full
charge" to describe Michael Brown`s movements.
On this program last week, I revealed all of the weaknesses in witness
number 10`s testimony. Not one of which are mentioned in "The Washington
Post" article that claims Darren Wilson had to shoot and kill Michael
What that headline proves is that "The Washington Post" Web site headline
writers don`t know what proof is. The article includes a few carefully-
edited statements that witness number 10 made to the grand jury.
But not one word of what witness number 10 said to the police just two days
after the shooting. Instead of quoting what witness number 10 told the
police, the article simply offers this completely false statement --
"Witness number 10`s later grand jury testimony is consistent with the
statement he gave police just 48 hours after the shooting."
Now, in order to get away with that lie, the article must not include what
witness number 10 actually told the police two days after the shooting.
Witness number 10 told the police where he first saw Michael Brown, quote,
"I seen the two young guys walking down the street on the same sidewalk
that I was on."
Six weeks later, witness number 10 testified to the grand jury and changed
his story about where Michael Brown was walking. He told the grand jury,
quote, "I seen Mike Brown and his friend walking down the street closer to
the curb, not on the sidewalk."
By that time, one of the basic public facts of the case was that Michael
Brown and Dorian Johnson were walking in the street, not on the sidewalk.
So, you can see how the public facts of the case changed witness number
10`s testimony, moving Michael Brown from the sidewalk that the witness
himself was on -- to the street.
That kind of change in testimony to conform to public facts is something
the district attorney criticized in other witnesses, but he did not
complain about that very same thing from witness number 10.
And "The Washington Post" article does not reveal that inconsistency in
witness number 10`s testimony while making that false claim that witness
number 10`s grand jury testimony, quote, "is consistent with the statement
he gave police."
Was the law professor blogger who wrote this for "The Washington Post"
being lazy or willful in hiding the inconsistencies in witness number 10`s
Well, the editing of the quoted testimony is certainly willful. And we all
do that. Whenever we use quotations, we have to decide where to begin the
quotations and where to end the quotations.
The article offers this quote from witness number 10`s testimony about a
gesture that Michael Brown made -- "He, Mike Brown, stopped. He did turn,
he did some sort of body gesture. I`m not sure what it was but I know it
was a body gesture. And I could say for sure, he never put his hands up
after he did his body gesture. He ran towards the officer full charge."
Now, here is the sentence right before that quote that "The Washington
Post" article decided, willfully decided, not to include. I can`t say for
sure what sort of body gesture. I cannot fully recall."
That is how witness number 10 began his description. But you would never
know that by reading "The Washington Post" article.
As I said last week, in real courtrooms, witnesses who begin answers with
"I can`t say for sure," and then say, "I cannot fully recall," and then
say, "I`m not sure," twice within the body of that answer, do not survive
real cross examination in real courtrooms.
Answers that begin with "I can`t say for sure" and "I can`t fully recall"
are of very little value in real courtrooms. And that sentence, "I can`t
say for sure," "I cannot fully recall," was of very little value to an
article that claims witness number 10 proves that Darren Wilson had to
So, the article just excluded that sentence because it was painfully
inconvenient to the unsupported theorizing in the article. "The Washington
Post" article says, "Witness 10 was a neutral observer who saw all the same
things that Officer Wilson saw (albeit, from a safe distance)."
Notice how the "safe distance" is a minor point. It`s just squeezed into a
parentheses. So, how safe a distance was it?
A distance so safe that it renders witness number 10`s testimony virtually
useless. Two days after the shooting, when his memory was fresh, he told
the police that the distance from which he saw the action was, quote, "To
guess, maybe a hundred yards, I would say. Maybe less."
What distance does "The Washington Post" article say witness number 10 was
watching from? The article very deliberately leaves that out.
"The Washington Post" readers were told nothing in that article about that
distance, which is just the single most important fact to know about any
eyewitness testimony. How far away was the eyewitness.
And here`s an eyewitness who tells police he was a hundred yards away from
the action, and this "Washington Post" article believes that he is the very
best referee for what happened on that street.
Now, just think about that. There`s a football field, with the referee on
one goal line and two players a hundred yards away on the other goal line.
There is no one in the history of football -- no player, no coach, no fan
who would accept the judgment of that referee about that action that
happened a hundred yards away from that referee.
And witness number 10 might have realized how much that hundred yards
weakened his whole story to the police because, six weeks later, in front
of the grand jury, under oath, he changed that distance and he changed it
When asked that same distance question, he said, quote, "I would give it 50
to 75 yards." He just cut the distance in half to the grand jury, cut the
distance in half, under oath, to that grand jury.
A hundred yards became 50 yards just like that. This is the most
inconvenient fact that "The Washington Post" article could possibly be
forced to acknowledge in its factually incorrect story that aims to prove -
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
-- that Darren Wilson did, indeed, have to kill Michael Brown. And so, the
article simply left that inconvenient fact out.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
It is the most important fact about an eyewitness, how far away. And the
article didn`t just leave that witness number 10 -- didn`t just leave that
witness number 10 was a hundred yards when he first told the story. And
then at least 50 yards away and, possibly 75 yards away the second time he
told the story.
The article insisted on telling this lie about his testimony. Witness 10`s
later grand jury testimony is consistent with the statement he gave police
just hours after the shooting.
Actually wrote that in the article when he changed his distance by half, by
half, from one story to the next. That falsehood about the consistent
story is the linchpin, it is the basis of "The Washington Post" headline,
"Witness 10 Proves Darren Wilson Had a Reasonable Belief He Had to Shoot
There has been a lot of lazy reporting, a lot of lazy analysis, a lot of
lazy editing in newspapers around the country in the coverage of the
killing of Michael Brown.
This is not "The Washington Post`s" first failure in the coverage of the
killing of Michael Brown, but it is, certainly, "The Washington Post`s"
In order to make the case that Michael Brown deserved to be shot, that he
deserved to die, "The Washington Post" article had to lie. The article had
to carefully shave the coats of the witness.
It wants to pretend as the hero truth-teller of the grand jury. And the
article had to ignore the distance the eyewitness claims to be from the
action, and certainly not reveal that the eyewitness cut that distance in
half, under oath.
The article had to tell the lie that witness number 10`s story is
consistent when he told it two days after the shooting, and six weeks after
It turns out, it really is impossible to prove that Michael Brown deserved
to die, unless you`re willing to lie.
Coming up next -- coming up next, a special report from Alex Wagner who`s
here. Why don`t you get a -- she`s right here. This is where she is.
She`s here, yes.
Forty-seven million Americans rely on food assistance. This year, Congress
passed a massive farm bill that included an $8.7-billion cut in food stamps
over the next 10 years.
In her new series "The Invisible Us," MSNBC`s Alex Wagner takes a look at
the importance of food assistance and emergency food programs across the
ALEX WAGNER, MSNBC ANCHOR (voice-over): Not all of them are massive
operations like the one in New York City. In Eastern Kentucky, Owsley
County Outreach keeps its food in the back of a thrift store.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE OWSLEY COUNTY OUTREACH STAFF: Most of this side is
WAGNER: Donated food is stored anywhere there`s space. Meals can be made
out of just about anything the center receives.
OUTREACH STAFF: These are all R.E.M.s, ready-to-eat meals. The children
WAGNER: Ready-to-eat meals. That`s what they serve in the army, isn`t it.
OUTREACH STAFF: Yes, yes. This is what we`re giving the children because
they have nothing else to eat.
WAGNER: Nine years ago, Cleda Turner started Owsley County Outreach as a
backpack food program for children.
CLEDA TURNER, DIRECTOR, OWSLEY COUNTY OUTREACH: Our first priority, of
course, is the backpacks, the children.
OUTREACH STAFF: A lot of times, children have said that when they leave
school Friday, they don`t get fed again until Monday morning when they get
back to school.
O`DONNELL: Alex, one of the big challenges of the story, this population,
is that they are invisible. I remember Michael Harrington wrote this book
called "The Other America," about poverty and in Appalachia when America
didn`t know that that existed.
WAGNER: And it still exists. And yet, the narrative around people who are
on assistance has become one of this kind of layabouts who are lulled into
the culture of dependency in the government hammock.
We went down to one of the poorest counties in the country, the Owsley
County in Eastern Kentucky and I talked to a mother of four who for whom
the choices at the grocery store are between a nickel, a penny, a dime. I
mean, they are living on the edge. And, look, this woman works 20 hours a
week as a volunteer.
Everyone there wants to work. There is no industry down there. There are
men who drive two and a half hours each way in the summer to lay asphalt.
This is not a bunch of people who want to be poor this is circumstance and
they are trying their very best to survive.
O`DONNELL: And there`s no subway, there`s no mass transit --
O`DONNELL: -- system, so everything is -- every job is automobile-
dependent. There`s this whole other level of difficulty in getting to work
WAGNER: Yes, and you see kind of -- I mean, you really understand the
necessity of community. I mean, we showed that, that this kind of
storeroom in the back of a thrift store where children go to get meals on
Friday afternoon because they will not be fed again in their homes until
Monday. That`s called the Backpack Program and we`re sponsoring some
outreach and donations to that group of people because, I mean, they
operate on like $50-80,000 a year, and the service they provide is
critical. I mean, can you imagine being a second grader and going home
from school on Friday and not eating again until Monday morning when you
went back to school. I mean, it`s unconscionable.
O`DONNELL: Holden (ph) had a hearing where he actually had a food stamp
recipient testified to him about the difficulty of her life. And, you
know, she`s testifying to a committee where a lot of those members think
that one danger of this program is that we`re just too generous.
WAGNER: Right. And the idea -- and as a result, last year, the House
Republicans passed a $40-billion cut to food stamps. Didn`t go anywhere in
the Senate, which is a good thing.
It would have cut the program in half. You can see, Lawrence, there have
been about $13 billion worth of cuts this year.
Dollars and cents are the difference between dinner or no dinner. I cannot
imagine what would happen to American families, there are 47 million people
on this program, if food stamps were cut in half.
It is antithetical to who we are as a country to leave people at the bottom
of society and give them no way of climbing up the ladder.
O`DONNELL: And it`s a program that always had support from Republicans and
O`DONNELL: Republicans like Bob Dole, who thought this made perfect sense.
WAGNER: But what`s amazing is this narrative of the makers and the takers
just because the plank of Mitt Romney`s candidacy in 2012 has taken hold.
And, I would say, some of the onus lies on Democrats, too, for letting the
Republicans move this dialogue far, far, far to the right of the playing
O`DONNELL: You can see more of Alex Wagner`s reporting on her show, "Now."
"Now" is the name of the show. It`s not this moment. It`s going to be
tomorrow at four o`clock.
WAGNER: It`s true. It`s happening all the time.
O`DONNELL: Right now, 4:00 p.m. Eastern, Alex Wagner almost got tonight`s
"Last Word" until I --
WAGNER: Wait, that was -- those were important last words. And there I
O`DONNELL: Well, you know, why don`t you say, "Chris Hayes is up next,"
and you`ll really have the last word.
WAGNER: Chris Hayes is up next.
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'The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell' for Tuesday, December 2nd, 2014
THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL