January 15, 2015
Guest: Michael Kay; Michael Sheehan; Emanuel Cleaver, Caroline Modarressy-
Tehrani, Seema Iyer, Chris Witherspoon
ED SCHULTZ, MSNBC ANCHOR, THE ED SHOW: That is "the Ed Show." I`m Ed
Schultz. "Politics Nation" with Reverend Al Sharpton starts right now.
Good evening, Rev.
REVEREND AL SHARPTON, MSNBC ANCHOR: Good evening, Ed. And thanks to you
for tuning in.
We start with breaking news in the fight against terror on two separate
In Belgium, police killed two terror suspects in a raid to stop what
authorities say was an imminent attack on police buildings.
And in Ohio, investigators analyzing laptops and cell phones seized from
the 20-year-old man accused of plotting to blow up the U.S. capitol.
But we start tonight in Belgium. That`s where we`re seeing another terror
plot, a new one, foiled. Belgian police launched about a dozen raids aimed
at terrorists who had come back from fighting in Syria. They say they
stopped a terror cell about to launch attacks on a, quote, "grand scale."
Video posted to You Tube appears to show the raid as it happened.
(VIDEO CLIP PLAYING)
SHARPTON: The shootout happened in a town in eastern part of the country
called Verviers. Two suspects were killed, a third injured. So far
authorities say these raids are not linked to the attacks in Paris. But
right now, all of Europe is on edge while active terror investigations in
at least four countries following the Paris attacks.
Joining me now is Michael Sheehan, former deputy commissioner of counter
terrorism for the NYPD and Michael Kay, retired senior British officer and
Thank you both for being here.
So Michael Sheehan, let me start with you. These Belgian terror raids
targeted jihadists who come back from fighting with ISIS in Syria. This is
something that people have been worried about for a while, am I right?
MICHAEL SHEEHAN, COUNTER TERRORISM ANALYST: Reverend Al, actually they`ve
been actually worried about foreign fighters coming back from the Iraq
Theater to Europe since around 2004. This is starting to unfold as perhaps
the nightmare people from predicting for a long time. We have one attack
in Paris. It looks primary connected with Al-Qaeda in the Arabian
Peninsula. Actually we`re not even sure the full connections of these guys
to Syria-Iraq or what as of now.
So this is a nightmare scenario, that we`ll have to see the depth of it and
whether we`re able to sustain these types of attacks. As I said, people
have been predicting these types of things since 2004. We`ll see if this
is the beginning of a wave of these attacks or just a short spurt.
SHARPTON: Now Michael Kay, the raids targeted, as I said, extremists who
had been to Syria, 3,000 westerners are fighting in Syria, 250 of them are
from Belgium. How do you keep track of these people? I mean, to stop
these attacks before they happen, how do you do this?
MICHAEL KAY, RETIRED SENIOR BRITISH OFFICER/MILITARY STRATEGIST: Well, the
numbers themselves just pose a massive problem because they require
I think one of the big issues that we got now, post to "Charlie Hebdo"
attacks Rev., is the way that the intelligence community and security
forces actually posture themselves. So what we saw post-"Charlie Hebdo" is
very reactive response. It was a dynamic situation, as we know, the
(INAUDIBLE) has spread out to (INAUDIBLE), 30 miles outside of Paris. And
it was a very fluid situation. That then put the intelligence services and
security forces on a heightened alert. So they have to switch from a
reactive posture to a proactive posture. That require --
SHARPTON: Because of what happened with "Charlie Hebdo" in Paris?
KAY: Absolutely. Because this increase risk. So what that means, though,
is that logistically that takes a lot more funding, a lot more resource and
a lot of manpower. We saw 10,000 French troops deploying on the streets
around France and Paris. That is a huge logistical tail in terms of
So I think that the real sticky situation at the moment is this posturing
of forces on what we are seeing is we are seeing going to a more proactive
start. So we`re seeing the results now of days, weeks and months of
intelligence, this all coming together post-"Charlie Hebdo." And security
forces want to take action before something like "Charlie Hebdo" happens
SHARPTON: Michael Sheehan, how do you see that they can track these
amounts of people to have a prohibitive strike and to continue to stop and
foil these things before they happen? I mean, how is it possible given
SHEEHAN: Reverend Al, it`s a difficult challenge. And the number are much
greater than they were in 2004 when I mentioned. We are talking hundreds
now. Now we`re talking thousands.
The good news is when you have a name and that person comes back, it`s a
little bit easier to find them and then try to track them and see where the
cells are. So it`s not that we`re totally in the blind here.
However, with those types of numbers, it`s going to be very, very
difficult. And they`re going to need aggressive intelligence operations.
So deploying 10,000 police on the street isn`t going to get it done.
They`re going to need to have investigations, piece by piece with skilled
detectives, to identify cells, track them as the cells attach to other
cells, and have the patience to uncover these people, and then the timing
to when to take them down.
SHARPTON: Now, Michael Kay, I want to raise this to you because this I
found very interesting and troubling.
Reports suggest that one of the Paris attackers, Amedy Coulibaly, who did
the kosher supermarket attack, may have terror connections all over Europe.
He reportedly spend three days in Madrid just a couple of weeks before the
attack. The same city his wife used as part of her escape route to Syria.
And police in Belgium have arrested a man who they say may have sold
ammunition used in the Paris terror attacks. This kind of similar travel
pattern, similar map is very interesting, if not troubling.
KAY: Yes. And Al, you are talking about one person here. Mike already
alluded to the fact that we are talking about thousands as a potential
overall problem. We`re talking about one person, Coulibaly. And the
amount of resources that goes into working out what his trail has been over
the last week, the last month, understanding what borders he`s crossed,
where he has traveled to, what his finances and resources are, who he has
been talking to, that takes a lot of time, a lot of manpower just to
investigate that one person.
I used to operate in Baghdad on a nightly basis. And we used to go in and
target high-value assets, insurgents and Al-Qaeda. We were working off
intelligence that took months, if not year to collate. So this is
something that is going to take time.
The other thing I add is well, is that there`s a very fine balance between
apprehending someone and once you`ve arrested them and charged them, making
sure you have enough evidence, enough intelligence to make it stick and
actually get them convicted. Otherwise they`re walking the street again.
And that is a delicate --
SHARPTON: On that note, let`s turn to the threat here at home.
20-year-old Chris Cornell, who the FBI says wanted to bomb the United
States capitol and used an assault rifle to gun down employees as they fled
the building. Tonight, we are learning more about him and his evolution
from high school wrestler to alleged terrorists.
Cornell is unemployed. He doesn`t have a car or driver`s license. His
father says he converted to Islam about six months ago, but insists his son
isn`t a terrorist.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN CORNELL, SUSPECT`S FATHER: People that really know Chris, they know
he`s a good guy. I don`t think -- like I said, you know, I was completely
blindsided by this. This came as a complete surprise. You know, Chris is
-- I mean, he never leaves the house. He`s a mommy`s boy. He never showed
any, any signs of any, any kind of violence or anything. I mean, quiet,
shy, good kid.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: Police raided the Cornell family home yesterday. They took two
desktop computers, a laptop, and four cell phones. The FBI said Cornell
claimed to have been in contact with people overseas, and made pro-terror
comments on social media.
Right now, he`s being held in isolation in an Ohio jail. So how did an
apparently normal teenager allegedly become a would-be terrorist seeking an
alliance with ISIS in a plot to bomb the U.S. capitol.
Michael Kay, does this young man hit the profile of someone who might be
drawn to radial violent ideologies?
KAY: I think it`s a very, very hard question to assimilate and process.
Again, going back to the intelligence conversation, you know, knowing that
this chap has converted to Islam versus actually wanting to go and commit
an active violence and trying to prove that he was trying to do that,
whether it be the possessions of arms, whether it be looking at emails,
actually understanding that process and where the law fits in and what you
can prosecute that person for and how long you can prosecute them for, I
think is what the legislation is grappling with at the moment and how we
SHARPTON: And we`ve got have to caution we don`t get into Islamophobia, or
by saying him converting to Islam automatically makes him -- which too many
make that connection.
SHARPTON: Michael Sheehan, explain to me how this journey could be
possible from where he started to where he`s alleged to now? What happens?
SHEEHAN: Well, it`s just as simple as being a dumb, young kid who was
adrift and somehow was attracted to it. Actually a very powerful
narrative, that these Islamists put out. And he was attracted to that
narrative in Syria and Iraq, to join the brotherhood after he converted to
Islam very recently. And he was drawn up on that as a young man, a lot of
energy, perhaps nowhere to expend it.
And it is unfortunate, this kid is clearly not a hard-core terrorist. We
found him on social media. He made all kinds of mistakes, but
unfortunately, when we went to buy those weapons and ammunition, that made
him a serious threat, and he was arrested.
SHARPTON: But I want to press you right there, Michael Sheehan, because
you were in government. And as you described this young man, there`s got
to be millions of young men around the country just like that, same
How do you deal with that? Was this the kind of thing that when you in
government would keep you up at night, the lone wolf, the one that wasn`t
part of an organized body, that would end up in a lone wealth (ph) attack
or planning an attack like this being alleged here?
SHEEHAN: Yes, the lone wolf was my principal concern back then. And the
lone wolf becomes more dangerous when he travels overseas, makes
connections with a terrorist organization, receives further training,
either weapons or explosives like or Paris terrorists were. They got that
training ad radicalization overseas then came back and conduct their
Normally, one will say don`t do that, might not be as effective, but some
of them have been. So that was our -- they`re very hard to find if they
don`t create a much bigger cell. So that was our worry.
SHARPTON: Michael Kay, you wanted to weigh in?
KAY: Yes. I just want to point out, there`s no silver bullet on this,
Rev. It`s a multifaceted problem which requires a multilayered approach.
And we have the compartment to as we have look at what we are doing in
terms of our foreign policy. We have to look at the disenfranchisement of
young individuals like this guy, and how that occurs. Is that through
toxic preaches through hate clerics? Is it through media chat rooms? Is
it through what ISIS is doing on social media? IS it due to socioeconomic
SHARPTON: Is it all of the above?
KAY: Or is it all of the above? Absolutely.
And so, there is a multi-layered approach that we need to take. We need to
take each one of them called compartment lies, bit by bit and slowly eat
away at what we think is producing the problem.
But it`s -- there`s no short-term solution. It`s not a silver bullet. It
will take a long time. And the one thing I would like to, Rev., we are
trying to end this. We`ve spent trillions on foreign policy in Afghanistan
and Iraq. What I would suggest is maybe taking some of that budget and
putting it towards the intelligence community and some of the resources
that require to actually address this at the root cause and not overseas.
SHARPTON: Well, I`m going to have to leave it there. But we certainly
going to stay on top of this story.
Michael Sheehan and Michael Kay, thank you both for your time tonight.
Coming up, a big announcement for the Republican, best known for this ad
about castrating hogs.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JONI ERNST, STATE SENATOR, IOWA: I`m Joni Ernst. I grew up castrating
hogs on an Iowa farm, so when I get to Washington, I`ll know how to cut
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: We`ll tell you what she`ll be doing while the president is
giving his state of the union.
Also, if you liked the GOP`s presidential field in 2012, you`ll love what
they`re cooking up for 2016. It`s deja vu all over again, with a twist.
Plus, (INAUDIBLE) from the academy nominations. We will talk about all the
surprises and the snubs, from the Oscars. Stay with us.
SHARPTON: Our social community is on fire about the Oscar nominations,
controversy, controversy, a snub for actors in the civil rights film
"Selma" and a major lack of diversity. We`ll have much more on this,
But first please keep the conversation going on our facebook page, or tweet
us at "politics nation."
SHARPTON: Developing today, Republicans just announced their pick to
respond to President Obama`s state of the union address next week. And it
says everything about the party. They made the announcement during the big
GOP retreat. They`re going with newly elected Iowa Senator Joni Ernst.
You may remember here from this ad.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ERNST: Joni Ernst. I grew up castrating hogs on an Iowa farm. So when I
get to Washington, I`ll know how to cut pork.
Washington is full of big spenders. Let`s make them squeal.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: And when she`s not busy shooting colorful campaign ads, she is
busy with an agenda that includes abortion rights being attacked,
abolishing the department of education and the EPA, and opposing the
federal minimum wage. And don`t forget, impeachment.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ERNST: Absolutely. He is overstepping his bounds. And I do think that,
yes, he should face those repercussions on whether that`s removal from
office, whether that`s impeachment. But as a U.S. senator, absolutely. As
a U.S. senator, though, we have to push that issue. He has become a
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: Fighting the president on minimum wage and flirting with
impeachment. A perfect choice to represent a party that claims it wants to
show it can govern, but is still obsessing over the same old losing right-
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: Our challenge, our
opportunity is to pass a common-sense solutions. The solutions are replace
Obamacare and replace it with patience center reforms --
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: Republicans rode buses to their retreat in Hershey,
Pennsylvania, but they`re still searching for the direction to a winning
Joining me now is Congressman Emanuel Cleaver, Democrat from Missouri.
Thank you for being here, Congressman.
REP. EMANUEL CLEAVER (D), MISSOURI: Good to be with you, Reverend.
SHARPTON: Congressman, the GOP has gathered in the sweetest place on
earth, Hershey, Pennsylvania. So why does the agenda still sound so bitter
CLEAVER: Well, because there are no new ideas coming from the retreat.
And there`s nothing that we have heard so far coming from the retreat that
would suggest they are going to come after Washington and redirect their
energies towards accommodating the hopes and dreams of the American public.
I mean, it`s still more anti, I mean, they`re still talking about repealing
Obamacare. And I`m assuming that the voters out there understand that they
can`t repeal it. It`s not going to happen, but they continue to talk about
it. And they`re talking about repealing his executive orders. So it`s not
-- there`s nothing new happening in Hershey, Pennsylvania.
SHARPTON: That`s what I want to ask you, when you say there`s nothing new
happening, what do you expect will come out of the this retreat? Or is
this just the same old same old from the Republicans?
CLEAVER: Well, I think a small minority of them will speak out all through
this retreat about the fact that they have not been conservative enough.
And so far, they`ve been able to hold a party back, those who have wanted
to go and try to compromise.
I think you`re going to find more anti-Obama rhetoric coming out of
retreat, and that`s unfortunate. And I think -- I will be stunned, and I
hope the rest of the world will be stunned, too, if from this retreat, they
come out and say we have a proposal to figure out a new way to go to the
moon, whatever, something that`s new, dramatic, and helpful to the American
public. And I want them to do that, because they have the majority. I
don`t think it`s going to happen.
SHARPTON: Now, Congressman, one U.S. senator of the Republican Party who`s
skipping the retreat is Rand Paul. But he`s still making headlines.
Here`s what he said about people on disability. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. RAND PAUL (R), KENTUCKY: Everybody in this room knows somebody who`s
gaming the system. I tell people that if you like me and you hop out of
your truck, you shouldn`t be getting a disability chuck. Over half the
people on disability are either anxious or their truck hurts. Join the
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: Now, the inspector general, Congressman, found that disability
fraud was less than one percent, less than one percent, not 50 percent. I
mean, to your knowledge, did Republicans commission a report that the rest
of us don`t know about?
CLEAVER: No, but I think what they like to do is say the same thing over
and over, even though it`s erroneous. They say the same thing about the
SNAP program. The fraud in the food stamps or SNAP program is under three
percent. It`s the same deal. But they will continue to talk about fraud,
widespread fraud. It doesn`t exist.
But I do think it appeals to a certain segment of their base. It gets them
riled up, and it -- it provides them, frankly, with a base that is so
ridged that even when they want to compromise, they can`t. The old story
is, if you say it long enough, some people will believe it, and that is
what they do, long enough and strong enough.
SHARPTON: Let me go to the president. He`s been running out his state of
the union platform. He is expected to champion his economic policies,
including promoting homeownership, free community college, expanded
broadband high-speed Internet, paid sick leave.
Will Republicans really fight the president and Democrats on all of this?
CLEAVER: Well, here`s the deal. Many of those proposals that the
president will roll out are proposals that the American public supports, so
we will know fairly soon whether or not there is reform after the retreat.
And by that, I mean if those issues end up on the floor in the house and
the Senate, they will pass. All of those issues you just laid out,
Reverend, they will pass.
And so, the test will come if whether or not Boehner and McConnell will
allow legislation to come to the floor. If they do, I`ll be happy, the
world will probably celebrate, but in the past anything that was going to
pass, they wouldn`t bring it to the floor.
SHARPTON: Congressman Cleaver, thank you for your time tonight.
CLEAVER: Good to be with you.
SHARPTON: Coming up, Mitt Romney`s 2012 loss left the party vowing change.
You won`t believe where he will be tomorrow night.
And the Oscars nominations controversy. Why was the civil rights movie
"Selma" overlooked? Please stay with us.
SHARPTON: We start tonight`s "Got You" a little different, with a clip
from the 1980s classic "Ferris Buehler`s day off".
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Does anyone know what vice President Bush called this
in 1980? Anyone? Something d-o-o economics? Voodoo economics.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: Voodoo economics, the idea championed by Ronald Reagan that you
can cut taxes for the rich and the effects would magically trickle down to
everyone else. But it doesn`t work. It never has worked. And the state
of Kansas just proved it.
Republican governor Sam Brownback finished his first term slashing taxes
for the rich, promising it would lead to boomtowns for everyone else.
But guess what? It didn`t. The state`s budget deficit is projected to be
at $648 million next fiscal year. In 2013, the average Kansan earned $4.43
less per week than before the tax cuts went into effect. And 31 states
have had faster rate of job growth than Kansas.
The GOP fantasy has come crashing back to reality. And now, Brownback has
admitted it. He is planning to raise taxes to help fill the massive gap in
the state`s budget, a total flip-flop.
So we`re done here, right? We can say good-bye and adios to this failed
Republican experiment? The GOP will finally shake off the trickled down
spell cast by Ronald Reagan over three decades ago. No, they are bringing
Voodoo economics to Congress.
In the House Republicans just changed the budget rules, so the magical tax
cuts for the rich look better for the economy. Basically, they`re cooking
Did Republicans think we wouldn`t notice their voodoo economic spell is
only an illusion? Nice try but abracadabra (ph) because we got you.
SHARPTON: After the GOP shellacking in the 2013 election, the party knew
it had problems. They called for a reboot, had an autopsy and vowed
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REINCE PRIEBUS, RNC CHAIR: We`ve done a really lousy job of branding and
marketing who we are.
I believe that our primary process is a way too long. I think we had way
to many debates of their candidates slicing and dicing each other and I
think they had to wait too long to get to the convention.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: And today RNC Chair Reince Priebus is rolling out these changes
as they went to meeting in San Diego. Announcing the 2016 Republican
Convention will be in mid-July, about a month earlier than normal. And
they`re scaling back debate so there will fewer Republican on Republican
But if they`re going for change it`s surprising to see who is headlining.
Mitt Romney, yes, the guy who sparked that -- reboot an autopsy will be
front and center tomorrow night. He was added to the schedule earlier this
week as rumors fly about a third run for president.
Interesting for a committee that said this after the election.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PREIBUS: Focus groups described our party as narrow-minded, out of touch,
and "stuffy old men." The perception that we`re the party of the rich
unfortunately continues to grow.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: For a lot of people, that perception is still there, and so is
Mitt Romney. So why would the RNC agree to do this? And how might it play
Joining me now are MSNBC`s Kasie Hunt and former Pennsylvania Governor and
DNC Chairman Ed Rendell, thank you both for being here.
FRM. GOV. ED RENDELL, FRM. DNC CHAIRMAN: My pleasure Rev.
KASIE HUNT, MSNBC POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Nice to see you Rev.
SHARPTON: Kasie you`re at the RNC meeting, and just post at this piece,
"Can Mitt Romney rally the support of this party in time for 2016?" What`s
the mood like out there, does it seem like he could rally that support?
HUNT: They`re certainly trying Reverend. I mean he`s sort of core
supporter, the people who`ve been around him for years and who would really
form the center of any -- of Romney campaign in 2016, they`re making calls,
they`re talking to donors, they`re doing their best to sort of round up as
much support as they can. But if you get, you know, a ring or two out from
that immediate circle, you start to hear a lot of skepticism.
And a lot of these people were already thinking about who they were going
to jump on board in 2016 that wasn`t Romney. And if you remember in 2012,
you had Romney on one side and possible conservative challengers on the
other. And the establishment really only had one horse to choose from and
that`s not shaping up to be true in 2016. We`re looking at Romney, we`re
looking at Jeb Bush, we`re looking at Chris Christie, potentially Scott
Walker, even Rick Perry, all of those people could potentially draw support
from the establishment of the party.
And, I`ve encountered a lot of skepticism about whether or not this is
really a good idea. That even though, people seems nostalgic for Mitt
Romney because of the way President Obama has handled crisis after crisis
in the Republican view, that it might not extend to them, thinking that he
is the best horse for them to pick in 2016.
SHARPTON: Governor, what`s your take on this?
RENDELL: Well my take is that -- Kasie is right, I think the establishment
is very worried because Mitt Romney runs number one in the polls, maybe
that`s name recognition, but there are a lot of Republican -- registered
Republicans who like Mitt Romney still, and they think he deserves another
chance, and that upsets the apple card (ph) of having one established
candidate to go against again three or four right-wing people candidates.
And it might throw the nomination to one of the right-wing people
candidates. But Mitt Romney has every right to run if he wants to run, if
he believes in himself and believes he can do the job, and let`s see where
it goes. I mean the process should be open, and Mitt Romney certainly has
the credentials to be a candidate. I think their concern -- if he was 5
percent on the polls Rev, that they wouldn`t be worried at all. I`d say go
do it Mitt.
SHARPTON: You know, Kasie are the speakers at RNC meeting include Dr. Ben
Carson, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, and soon to be former Texas
Governor Rick Perry, what are they saying or expected to say?
HUNT: Well I said Reverend we`re supposed to hear from Walker later
tonight and Perry is supposed to speak tomorrow. We`re expecting from
Walker to hear more of what you heard from earlier this week and his State
of the State talking about his accomplishments as governor in Wisconsin.
We heard earlier today from Ben Carson. He raised a few eyebrows when he
compared American patriot in the American Revolution to ISIS, saying that
ISIS today believes so strongly in their principles that they`re willing to
die for them.
And then Americans today are so worried about political correctness that
they`ve lost a sense of that. And I think that raised some eyebrows here
at the meeting.
Carson also walked through a series of other controversial...
SHARPTON: That Americans have lost their sense of what? Of being willing
to die for something?
HUNT: Yes, essentially saying that, you know, today Americans are
concerned about political correctness and don`t believe strongly enough in
their ideals that they would be willing to die for something.
SHARPTON: Very interesting. Governor, you know, Reince Priebus, the chair
of the RNC is cutting back on the number of debates in the GOP primer. You
chaired the DNC. Here`s the kinds of thing that I think he`s trying to
avoid, look at this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. RICK PERRY, (R) TEXAS: Mitt, we need for you to release your income
tax so the people of this country can see how you made your money.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN LEAD POLITICAL ANCHOR: Is he still the most anti-
FRM. REP. NEWT GINGRICH, (R) GEORGIA: I think of the four of us, yes.
FRM. SEN. RICK SANTORUM, (R) PENNSYLVANIA: What Governor Romney just said,
is that government-run top-down medicine is working pretty well in
Massachusetts and he supports it.
GINGRICH: I don`t know if any American president has had a Swiss Bank
account. I`ll be glad for you to explain this sort of thing.
FRM. GOV. MITT ROMNEY, (R) MASSACHUSETTS: Rick, I tell you what? 10,000
bucks? $10,000 bet.
PERRY: I`m not in betting business.
(END OF VIDEO CLIP)
RENDELL: Now, Romney really got beat up in those debates Governor. You
know, when limiting these amount of debates whoever becomes a GOP nominee,
I think they`re trying to minimize that you shared (ph) the party, is that
a strategy here?
RENDELL: Well, I think it`s not a bad strategy. The more debate you have,
the more times are for the candidates to cut each other up, and more times
there are for someone to make a stupid statement. But I don`t think it`s
the number of debates, I think it`s the quality of the people into debates.
And I go back to the debate they had where there were 10 candidates on the
platform and they asked them, would they take deficit reduction, debt
reduction where it was 10 to 1 in cuts and spending as opposed to increases
And that one of the 10 had the courage to raise their hands and say they
would take that. All of the time that the audience booed the gay
RENDELL: ... who was in Afghanistan. And that 1 of the 10 had the guts to
say, hey wait a second this young man is putting his life on the line for
us, he deserves our respect. Until the candidates get a message that`s
comparable to the American people they can limit the two or three debates
then they`re not going to do themselves any good.
SHARPTON: All right, Kasie Hunt and Governor Ed Rendell, thank you both
for your time tonight.
HUNT: Thanks Reverend.
RENDELL: Have a good night.
SHARPTON: Still ahead, controversy over the lack of diversity in today`s
Oscar nominations. That`s next.
SHARPTON: We all stopped this morning and watched as the Oscar nominations
were given for this year. And exited me when we saw all kinds of movies
that had tracked different stories in this country, our minds would go from
"Boyhood" to the Civil Rights Movement with "Selma". And, it was over and
over again, we saw in the best picture category many things, incredible
But this morning, it was something that got my attention. Take a look at
these nominees in the acting categories. Best actor features some
incredible talent including Bradley Cooper and Michael Keaton. Best
actress has everyone from Reese Witherspoon to Julianne Moore.
The best supporting actor category recognize among others Edward Norton and
J.K. Simmons. And the best supporting actress here in nominees includes
Emma Stone and of course Meryl Streep, her 19th Oscar nomination.
Congratulations to all of the nominees. But look at all the list. Easy to
see not one person of color was nominated in these categories. That`s a
problem, a problem that needs to be addressed.
Journey me now our trial attorney Seema Iyer, "The Grio`s" Chris
Witherspoon and "HuffPost Live" Caroline Modarressy-Tehrani. Thank you for
you being here tonight.
CHRIS WITHERSPOON, HOST OF THE DISH: Thank you.
CAROLINE MODARRESSY-TEHRANI, "HUFFPOST LIVE" HOST: Thanks Rev.
SHARPTON: Chris you are writing tonight about the black actors and
directors getting shut off. I mean what`s your reaction and the reaction
from your readers?
WITHERSPOON: I mean, I think like you said, you were shocked then, our
readers were shocked, I was shocked this morning. I was watching and my
heart was beating waiting for actors like David Oyelowo...
MODARRESSY-TEHRANI: Right. Right.
WITHERSPOON: ... (inaudible) recognition as director. And Oscar could
have made history nominating Ava DuVernay as the first black female
director, they didn`t. And it was disappointing to see, with that said I
love a lot of actors that were nominated. I`ve seen a lot of these films,
it had been a great year in Hollywood.
But there was a huge oversight and it felt like you were watching an award
show only recognizing white actress and white Hollywood.
SEEMA IYER, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: You know, I actually haven`t gotten
over last year Oprah not being nominated for the Butler.
WITHERSPOON: Agree, agreed.
IYER: And I`m being completely serious. I still -- that perplexes me and
now looking at this year, not only was she shut out again...
IYER: But all her co-actors...
WITHERSPOON: Co-stars -- yeah.
IYER: ... everybody shut out and...
SHARPTON: You`re talking about Selma.
WITHERSPOON: Yes. Right.
IYER: Yeah, but I`m saying...
SHARPTON: But there were more great act, well, let me hear from you
MODARRESSY-TEHRANI: Well, I mean, I just think, now what kind of message
was this sending really? What -- were kind of message was the academy
sending, by putting this out particularly by shutting out (inaudible), I
mean for me that was absolutely shocking. Particularly on Martin Luther
WITHERSPOON: Yes, yes.
MODARRESSY-TEHRANI: I mean, like what kind of message do we take away?
When they do something like that?
IYER: I think...
SHARPTON: Well, let me...
IYER: I think they`re assuming that they`re trying to send a message,
maybe they`re not, maybe they just don`t care.
SHARPTON: No, but maybe we got the message and I think that well, when you
look at -- it`s important to look at the make up of the academy members who
voted for the nominees.
And you remember now, we had a time where we just saw the Sony...
IYER: Hacking, yes...
SHARPTON: ... e-mails...
WITHERSPOON: Yes, yes.
SHARPTON: ... that show the climate. Some of us came out and said the
problem in Hollywood is that there`s no diversity. Well let`s look at who
the academy members are who vote for their nominees. The latest data is
2012. Oscar voters are 93 percent white.
SHARPTON: 76 percent male and have an average age of 63-years-old. I mean
is it time for the academy to be more diverse in membership, should the
membership reflect the demographics in the country?
WITHERSPOON: ... business really.
SHARPTON: These are old white men.
MODARRESSY-TEHRANI: Yeah, they could go...
WITHERSPOON: This is really a wake up call for Hollywood. And as you
watch Cheryl Boone Isaacs, the president of the academy, a black woman
giving his nominations, it was so rare because even as a black woman, she
had to be shocked to see all the consistency of white actors, you know,
I think, as in the Sony e-mail hack. That was another moment first to wake
up and to say hey.
SHARPTON: Which many of are dealing (ph).
MODARRESSY-TEHRANI: ... about diversity. So it`s only just about, you
know, kind of black or white. It`s also about man and -- we got male or
SHARPTON: That`s why rid it all.
SHARPTON: It`s male...
SHARPTON: ... female as well.
WITHERSPOON: Even a major white actress remains a usual list. She was...
SHARPTON: Right. And you`ll...
WITHERSPOON: ... not just black as...
SHARPTON: When -- I think again -- rather than -- because we -- I`d say
nothing from these nominees, they did a great job.
SHARPTON: But when we look at the exclusion which is normal when you look
at the exclusion of who decides the academy. And then you look who goes...
SHARPTON: ... to the theaters, then this time now they have this
conversation and to really take some movement for the thing (ph).
IYER: I am just saying that why don`t we expand this argument and look at
what happened last year. Why was "12 years a slave" such a winner in...
IYER: ... various categories. I`m being serious. I`m not the Pop
WITHERSPOON: Last year was a banner year. That was a great film. I think
last year we saw a lot of films recognizing a lot of black actors at the
Golden Globes and the Academy Awards.
This year I don`t know what happened. We`re all...
MODARRESSY-TEHRANI: ... 76 percent of the Academy voters are men. 52
percent of movie goes in this country are women...
MODARRESSY-TEHRANI: ... and it`s like, come on wake up. You go...
SHARPTON: ... Latino, Asian. But again, let me show you the nominees. I
want it to be clear while we`re talking, look at the nominees. Thirty
years from now, Chris...
SHARPTON: ... thirty years from now Seema and Caroline, America will be
talking about the age of Obama...
SHARPTON: ... about the age of Ferguson and Staten Island and these will
be the nominees in Hollywood. Imagine people look at it and they say what
this couldn`t be at that time...
SHARPTON: ... and the only one making at the best picture was "Selma" who
did the story of blacks not being allowed to vote.
WITHERSPOON: (Inaudible) a real story back (inaudible).
SHARPTON: So we`re going to duplicate it in Hollywood...
SHARPTON: ... because they are not voting in the academy and you can`t
have a director female or black director at all even nominated. There`s
WITHERSPOON: And I think when you think about...
SHARPTON: ... about this that begs for us to deal with it.
WITHERSPOON: I mean I think about young kid who watch these awards with
their parents. What does it say of young kids when they see these
categories and they don`t see someone who looks like them? You know, in
IYER: Do you remember Oprah always gives the story that when she watched
the academy awards in Sydney Poitier won...
IYER: ... she looked at the television and she said, if he could do
WITHERSPOON: I will not do that, yeah.
IYER: ... what can I do?
SHARPTON: Well when people look whether you are woman...
SHARPTON: ... whether you`re gay, whether you`re black or Latino. When
you see somebody that looks like you or have the same...
SHARPTON: ... they gives you -- it gives you hope. What are we saying to
young people of color tonight with the Oscar nominee? I would go on to
this in actors. What do we saying to them, but the -- let`s go to the
institutional of problem.
There are three ways to become a candidate for membership. If you land an
Oscar nomination, now you`re landing it from the set up I told you about,
they`re overwhelmingly old white men
SHARPTON: If you apply and received a recommendation from two current
members, same crowd or if you earn an endorsement from a membership
committee or the academy staff. Now how hard is it for person of color to
join a group of mostly older white males if these are the criteria?
WITHERSPOON: You know what`s crazy? I was reading an article today,
(inaudible) was interviewed recently. She said she doesn`t even know one
person who is a part of the academy. About over 5,000 people that are in
the academy. No one knows who they are. I don`t know any member who ...
IYER: So if Oprah, Oprah is not...
WITHERSPOON: ... we very rarely hear them talk about or ever come on the
record about being the voter but I think...
SHARPTON: But even if they are. They`re less than 76.
WITHERSPOON: Totally. I think what they said just like we`ve seen stories
happened this year, I mean there were stories that kind of shocked us, wake
up calls to the black community. This is another wake up call and I charge
(ph) Cheryl Boone Isaacs, the president of the academy who`s a black woman
to see these numbers, to hear this outrage. Every major publication is
covering this story. It`s the same headline white gold or the academy
IYER: It was a biggest white...
WITHERSPOON: This is the message...
Yes, for almost 20 years. So I think this is a wake up call and this is
one of those moments that we can learn from ..
SHARPTON: No doubt about it.
WITHERSPOON: ... what will we do and...
IYER: Yeah, but I`m sick of learning from things
WITHERSPOON: I agree, you do.
SHARPTON: Seema, Chris and Caroline, thank you for time tonight.
WITHERSPOON: Thank you.
SHARPTON: And catch Selma on "The Doctor", Tuesdays at 11:00 A.M. Eastern
on Shift by MSNBC. We`ll be right back.
SHARPTON: How was your commute today? Bet it wasn`t as memorable as this
one. This Seattle bus line is going to the dogs, literally. Meet Eclipse
when she wants to get to the dog park nothing can stop her.
She rides the bus alone. She even knows what`s stop to get off.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Meet Eclipse, a black Lab/bull mastiff mix, who like
human riders uses Seattle`s buses to get around.
She often roams the aisles of the D Line, looking for a seat and will hop
up next to a stranger, which makes perfect sense for a dog who rides the
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: What a dog. But it could she figure out the New York subway
SHARPTON: 86 years ago today, a dynamic leader was born named Dr. Martin
Luther King Jr.
We celebrate Dr. King for his lifelong work, voting rights, economically
quality and police relations. But today we should also think about the
progress this country has made since his assassination.
Who would have thought Dr. King would have had his own memorial in
Washington D.C. overlooking the Potomac River? Who would have thought the
work of Dr. King would -- who would once a year be, celebrated by closing
down of court houses that once jailed him to honor his birthday?
On the fact that on January 20th 2009, America saw first black president
being sworn in, putting his hand on Dr. King`s on bible. How Ironic that I
talked about the lack of diversity in the Oscars today but the one film
presented depicts the life of Dr. King.
On his 86th birthday we remember him for everything not only what he
accomplished but also because he proved we can win this fight. He was a
winner. Yes, we must be committed to his dream. Yes, we must finish that
path that he left but we must walk that path knowing that he want and that
if we fight and, if we do not become what we are fighting we can win like
Monday is a federal holiday in his honor, it`s is BLK day. Be like King,
fight for what`s right but know we can win.
Thanks for watching. I`m Al Sharpton.
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