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'The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell' for Tuesday, January 27th, 2015

Read the transcript to the Tuesday show

Date: January 27, 2015
Guest: Gary Berntsen, Shane Harris, Alyssa Rosenberg, Courtney Duckworth,
Susan Crabtree

LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Well, Rachel, now I`ve seen
everything. "THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW" playing with balls in men`s

RACHEL MADDOW, "TRMS" HOST: Yes, you wouldn`t expect it from
everything you heard with this show, would you?


O`DONNELL: I`ve seen everything.

MADDOW: Thank you, my dear.

O`DONNELL: Thank you, Rachel.

I need a recovery minute here.

Let`s start with what`s in prompter.

With President Obama`s poll numbers steadily increasing, Republicans
who thought they could run for president by bashing President Obama have to
think again.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: President Obama`s at 50 percent on a new poll.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think he`s on his way up to 55 percent.

and creating jobs --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He declared that the American economy has

OBAMA: -- at the fastest pace since 1999.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This looks to be a very good year for the

OBAMA: This is good news, people.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It really is around the issue of economic

prescriptions for dealing with income inequality --


BOEHNER: -- have actually made things worse.

MCCONNELL: Top of the income recovery.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Very heart-warming to see Mitch McConnell standing
up for the little guy.

JON STEWART, COMEDIAN: What do you got for us?

SARAH PALIN (R), FORMER ALASKA GOVERNOR: Anybody would be interested.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Chris Christie is starting a presidential PAC.

GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: There is economic stagnation in
this country.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Republican Governor Scott Walker took his first
formal step towards a presidential run.

GOV. SCOTT WALKER (R), WISCONSIN: We`re going to keep lowering taxes.

JEB BUSH (R), FORMER FLORIDA GOVERNOR: Portfolios are strong, but
paychecks are weak.

MITT ROMNEY (R), GOP 2012 PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: The rich have gotten

RICK PERRY (R), FORMER TEXAS GOVERNOR: We need to stop strangling
small businesses.

SEN. TED CRUZ (R), TEXAS: We need to repeal every word of Obamacare.

STEWART: Oh, it`s the exact same (EXPLETIVE DELETED) thing.

PALIN: Of course.


PALIN: I mean, of course.


O`DONNELL: President Obama`s approval rating has reached 50 percent
in another poll. It is this time the gallop presidential approval poll,
the first time the president`s number has been that high in 20 months in
that poll. This good news for the president follows a period of stronger
economic growth for the country, including falling oil prices, and an
increase in consumer confidence.

A recent NBC News/"Wall Street Journal" poll shows that 49 percent of
Americans approve of President Obama`s handling of the economy, that is the
highest that has been since he won re-election in 2012. Nate Cohen from
"The New York Times" writes, "The modest improvement in Mr. Obama`s
standings suggests that the Republicans cannot count on an easy midterm-
like victory if the economy continues to grow at a healthy pace."

Republicans running for president now face the choice of updating
their talking points or denying reality.


ROMNEY: Under President Obama, the rich have gotten richer, income
inequality have gotten worse. Their liberal policies are good every four
years for a campaign but they don`t get the job done.

build a strong economy when we punish productivity and reward reckless

BUSH: Obamacare is clearly a job killer.

CHRISTIE: There is uncertainty in our country, and it is a product of
the failure of leadership and that failure has happened at 1600
Pennsylvania Avenue.



O`DONNELL: On Friday, Chris Christie launched a political action
committee, a standard step in running for president. Today, another
Republican governor, Scott Walker, launched his PAC.

This weekend, Scott Walker spoke at the Iowa Freedom Summit where he
walked on the stage to the tune of "I`m Shipping Up to Boston" by the
Dropkick Murphys.



WALKER: Thanks. Thank you.


O`DONNELL: The Dropkick Murphys responded to that moment in a tweet:
"Scott Walker, Governor Walker, please stop using our music in any way. We
literally hate you. Love, Dropkick Murphys."

Joining me now is Washington Post columnist and MSNBC political
analyst E.J. Dionne, and co-host of MSNBC`s "THE CYCLE", Krystal Ball.

So, Krystal, Republicans, they`re never careful enough in choosing the
music. There`s a lot of potential problems in there on --

KRYTAL BALL, THE CYCLE: Yes, they have a tough time with this. This
is not the first time that a Republican candidate --

O`DONNELL: I literally hate you, they say.

BALL: You have to admire that they`re very direct. They just laid it
out there, and, you know, they support union rights and maybe should have
checked that out before he picked the song.

But, you know, Scott Walker, of all the candidates that went to Iowa,
seem to have a breakout performance. People talk about Chris Christie
being able to kind of win over the crowd, which is a key test in a
conservative state.

But Scott Walker has, I think, a good talking point for the Republican
primary electorate. He can say I won three times in a blue state in four
years. I think that`s compelling, and he is kind of an icon in terms of
the union-busting stuff that he`s done and the Koch brothers seem to really
like him, which doesn`t hurt.

O`DONNELL: E.J. Dionne, we should preface any discussion of
Republican presidential primary possibilities with this confession from me,
which viewers of this program will remember. I predicted early on that Tim
Pawlenty would get the Republican nomination last year, and I did it
through a process of elimination showing there was something horribly wrong
with every other candidate and nothing particularly wrong with Pawlenty,
which made a lot of sense to me, proving that I know nothing about the
Republican primary electorate.

But I`m starting to suspect, and remember, this is coming from me --
OK, so for what it`s worth -- that Scott Walker may be the Tim Pawlenty of
this group, meaning, yes, OK, on paper you can see the case for him. But
on a stage, he won`t find a way of rhetorically standing up.

E.J. DIONNE, THE WASHINGTON POST: You know, I was going to say, until
you read that e-mail, that Scott Walker had finally done something I agreed
with, which is to pick that Dropkick Murphys song. Theory and practice, I
think your theory on Pawlenty is still right. It didn`t work out, but it
was an intelligent theory.

BALL: Sound theory.

DIONNE: I think that is true of Scott Walker. I am actually starting
to hear your theory from other Republicans, and that his positioning in the
Republican Party may be just about right, because he is to the right of Jeb
Bush a little bit. He`s to the right of Chris Christie. And he`s probably
-- he can position himself if he wants to the right of Mitt Romney, because
you`re never quite sure where Romney is positioned.

But there`s a question about him. He has won a lot of campaigns,
Krystal`s right about that. But you just wonder what`s the depth there?
Does that sort of last?

We haven`t -- you know, how do these scandals, sort of scandals that
have never quite gotten there in terms of campaign finance, do those heat
up? The connection to the Koch brothers, maybe that helps him in
Republican primaries.

So, I think there are some vulnerabilities there. But, yes, he`s the
remainder guy in this race, just like Tim Pawlenty.

BALL: If I could. If the ethics stuff, the question marks around
that, if that doesn`t heat up more, I don`t think the stuff that`s come out
so far is going to be hard for him to overcome. I think there`s a bigger
question about how he`s done in terms of jobs in the state of Wisconsin,
it`s ranked somewhere around 35th in terms of job creation. So, his record
in terms of growth and trying to run on that is not particularly stellar.

DIONNE: All right. I`m going to put -- if you compare it to next
door in Minnesota, which pursued a very different Democratic policy,
there`s already been stuff written about it, I think we`re going to see
that comparison a lot, as well as a comparison to the country quite a lot
if Scott Walker gets somewhere.

O`DONNELL: Next door in Minnesota where Tim Pawlenty was governor.

So, Chris Christie, we can be very grateful, is continuing to make
every necessary move for his presidential campaign. He`s started the PAC,
and I need him to run, because my prediction for Chris Christie is -- and
he should take heart that the prediction`s coming from me -- that he`s the
Giuliani of this campaign. He`s going to flame out just as quickly as

BALL: I agree with that prediction for what it`s worth.

I mean, I don`t think the bridgegate stuff in and of itself would be
enough for the Republican electorate to kind of write him off, but I think
because they already had some question marks about whether he was really
one of theirs, there was enough to start of tarnish the brand. I really
feel like Christie`s time to run was the last election cycle. He was on
the upswing. He was the new, exciting governor, taking it to the people.
He was straight talking.

Now that style has worn a little thin, and it just feels like him
yelling at people rather than being the tough straight shooter, and
conservatives do rightly have some questions about exactly where he is on
the issues. And we`re talking about Scott Walker with 35th in job
production. New Jersey is like 48th, 49th, somewhere in there in terms of
job growth. So, not exactly a great record either.

O`DONNELL: E.J., the way I look at candidates this bigger group this
far out is how are the others going to attack a particular candidate? I
don`t care what they`re going to say as their positive campaign, and it`s
how they`re going to attack.

With Chris Christie, I think the way bridgegate brings him down, the
other candidates can run tapes of him saying these words, I delegate
enormous authority to my staff and my cabinet. That`s what he said in
response to bridgegate. He then also said that staff humiliated him and
New Jersey.

And so, you don`t have to teach people in Iowans or New Hampshire the
details of bridge gate. You just need to hear Chris Christie say that`s
how he governs.

DIONNE: That`s another one of your longstanding predictions. And I
so hope you get to run the footage of that in somebody`s political ad.
There`s one extra problem for Christie, which is his big claim on the party
is, I`m actually pretty conservative, and I`m really popular in a blue

Well, guess what? He`s not popular in New Jersey anymore. His
numbers are way down, and I think that has an effect on him.

If I can take my flyer, if he decides to run and Scott Walker doesn`t
prove to be the Tim Pawlenty of this year, the guy I`m watching is Mike
Pence, the governor of Indiana. He hasn`t made any moves yet. He says
he`s going to wait until after the legislative session in that state. He
could be the same guy if Scott Walker doesn`t make it.

BALL: He`s the one I think might be the Tim Pawlenty this time. You
both forgot the liability for Chris Christie --

O`DONNELL: When we say Tim Pawlenty, do we mean the loser --

BALL: Yes.

O`DONNELL: -- or the guy who should win on paper?

BALL: Who should win on paper. Got everything lined up on the
resume, but doesn`t really do it for the voters.

But we did forget the number one liability for Chris Christie, which
is that hug with President Obama. That is not going to go away.

O`DONNELL: And, Krystal, this thing about, I do well in a blue state.
Since when have any Republican primary voters cared about that?

BALL: I think there is maybe a moment right now to make the case for
this and play devil`s advocate, where Republicans are concerned that they
are becoming this regional party, and they want to feel like they can
expand their coalition and be able to potentially win over states that
weren`t winnable before. And, you know, frankly, they have to think that
way, because if they don`t, they`re going to lose. So, I think the
electability argument is ultimately the one that Mitt Romney made and was
successful for last time around.

O`DONNELL: And, E.J., quickly, before we go, the Republicans, lot of
them were planning to simply run against President Obama. That was all
they figured they were going to have to do. That`s not looking like it`s
going to work quite so well.

DIONNE: No. If this economy keeps going the way it is, what`s really
striking in that Gallup poll is that some of Obama`s biggest gains are
among the youngest voters, under 30s. There has been a little bit of
weakening in that group. That group may not vote in midterm elections, and
now, he`s way up in that group. That group may not vote in midterm
elections, but they do vote in presidential elections. And so, that`s good
for Obama, but it also could have -- it could be really good for the

O`DONNELL: E.J. Dionne and Krystal Ball, thank you both for joining
me tonight.

BALL: Thanks, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Coming up, federal agents uncovered some real Russian
spies here in the United States. Not quite the way they`re being portrayed
on "The Americans," that TV series about Russian spies.

And also coming up, the details about the real American sniper that
are not in the big box office movie.

And in the "Rewrite" tonight, what I think about during blizzards.


O`DONNELL: Boston got buried under two feet of snow overnight and
today. And the staff at Brigham Women`s Hospital in Boston posted this
picture on Instagram. "Our sincerest thanks to all employees who have gone
to extraordinary lengths to get to the hospital during the storm."

Here`s a photo of pathology technician Vivian Chan who snowshoed into

And there`s this one. "We love our staff." Dr. Kelly Loughlin of
BWH`s department of emergency medicine cross-country skis into work.

And also this one. "We are so thankful Boston police officer gets BHW
nurse to work safely during the blizzard."

Two feet of snow can`t keep heroes like that away from work.

Coming up, drunk droning. How President Obama had to respond to a
drunk guy landing a drone on the White House lawn.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We`re running out of time. Why can`t we do this

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Because I`m the KGB officer. Don`t understand
that? After all these years, I would go to jail, I would die, I would lose
everything before I would betray my country.


O`DONNELL: Life tried to imitate art, that art this week.

The U.S. Department of Justice charged three men with running a
Russian spy ring in New York City. But the complaint filed last Friday
showed that being a Russian spy isn`t always like the brilliant FX series
about Russian spies, "The Americans."

Two of the Russians charged were recorded complaining about the
mundane aspects of their job. The three men are charged with running the
spy ring, are accused of trying to gather intelligence on the U.S.
sanctions on Russia, and how the New York financial systems work.

One of the defendants, who posed as a banker in New York City,
appeared in federal court yesterday. Two other men are Russian diplomats
who are no longer in the United States.

Joining me now is Gary Berntsen, a former CIA operations officer, and
Shane Harris, senior correspondent for the "The Daily Beast", and author of
the book, "War: The Rise of the Military Internet Complex."

Shane, how did these guys get caught?

SHANE HARRIS, THE DAILY BEAST: Well, they finally got caught when
they saddled up to somebody that they thought was a would-be casino
investor, who was an informant for the FBI. They thought they were getting
involved with him in some kind of a potential deal in finding some
information that would be useful to Russia.

In reality, he was feeding them what they thought were official U.S.
documents. And he was basically setting them up to finally get pinched.
But they`ve been under surveillance for a couple of years before that and
the FBI was recording their phone calls and catching them in other illegal
acts of espionage on U.S. soil.

O`DONNELL: Gary Berntsen, what is your reaction as an intelligence
professional to the information that`s been uncovered?

were not the highest level case officers that the Russians have. This was
terrible trade craft on the Russians` part.

Usually, their best assets in the U.S. would be illegals. These were
not illegals. These were standard case officers under diplomatic cover at
the U.N., and they were really sloppy and they got caught.

O`DONNELL: Gary, let me stop you, what do you mean by the term

BERNTSEN: An illegal, which was the old sort of term we used is like
the Russians would take an individual, they move them out of Russia, they`d
live in Brazil for two or three years, they`d get Brazilian passports, they
change their identity, and then they would emigrate to the United States
and they would burrow deeply into our corporations or the U.S. government
to steal secrets. Those were the most dangerous agents that we had inside
the United States. Not the ones operating out of the embassies. The
illegals were the real dangerous ones.

O`DONNELL: There`s a passage in the criminal complaint that has
details about some of the things these guys have said to each other. One
of them was talking about trying to use college girls somehow.

He said, "I have lots of ideas about such girls, but these ideas are
not actionable because they don`t allow you to get close enough and in
order to be close, you either need to have sex with them or use other
levers to influence them, to execute my requests. So when you tell me
about girls, in my experience, it`s rare that something workable will come
of it."

Shane, I guess the question there is, he`s talking about getting them
to execute his requests. What kind of requests might he have been made
then to these girls if he had been able to recruit them?

HARRIS: Well, it`s sort of baffling. The complaint doesn`t go too
much into that, why in the world they would want to be recruiting college
students, why they thought they would be able to get information about
sensitive economic and financial matters, which is what they were after.
You know, it`s hard to imagine. Maybe they envisioned themselves as James
Bond Lotharios trying to recruit young women sort of into their service and
manipulate them.

But it`s not clear from the complaint whether they thought maybe they
would be working in some capacity, in some company where they might be able
to provide information they later found someone who they thought would be
useful in that way.

But you`re right, they sort of complained about the fact that they
can`t get them to do what they want and puff up their own egos talking
about how, you know, stupid these college girls are, but in reality,
they`re the ones who can`t seem to recruit anybody to do their bidding

O`DONNELL: So, Gary Berntsen, we have these guys that don`t appear
very professional to you and they`re trying to recruit actual amateurs.

BERNTSEN: Lawrence, they sound like morons. The truth is, you
recruit people that have access to intelligence that your government needs
or you want to collect, or someone you believe had a high chance of seated
into an organization. These guys had absolutely no idea what they were
doing and it`s almost comical. Like a version of the gang that couldn`t
shoot straight. You may recall that movie from 25 years ago.

But look, on a more serious note, the Russians have a professional
intel service. They run very sophisticated operations. This is the
exception, not the rule.

O`DONNELL: And, Gary, do you think they run sophisticated operations
in the United States?

BERNTSEN: Oh, you bet. Look, I bet today 24, 25 Russian agents
around the country were stealing intel from companies and people and doing
things and weren`t caught today. Count on it.

They`re here in large numbers. They would be in this country. They
have a great interest. We`re the only country that threatens them, you
know, militarily, strategically, financially. They`re here and they`re
collecting with a large number of assets on the ground.

O`DONNELL: Shane, is there some reason to believe that the two
diplomats who were involved got wind at some point, or a sensation that
there was a possible investigation or close to a prosecution and that`s why
they left the country before this arrest?

HARRIS: Yes, there is. And the complaint talks about when this
would-be casino investor got close to them, there did seem to be some
suspicion about him. There`s a third individual we haven`t talked about
who has been arrested. He actually was someone who was here on what`s
called an artificial cover. So he would be one of these illegals we`ve
been discussing.

That individual met with the would-be casino ambassador. And so, it
was at that point that these other two guys seemed to get the feeling that
something was amiss. They weren`t sure why he was approaching them. That
may be the point where they left the country, we don`t know for sure yet.

O`DONNELL: Go ahead, Gary. Quickly.

BERNTSEN: I would like to add you would never have an illegal in
contact with normal case officers. The illegal would be out far away,
handled out of country, if you were really using good trade craft. These
guys used awful trade craft, and I`m sure they`ll probably be fired when
they get home.

O`DONNELL: Gary Berntsen, thank you for your experience and

And, Shane Harris, thanks for joining us.

Coming up, the Secret Service is trying to figure out how to protect
President Obama from drones flying near the White House. Drunk droning is
part of that problem.

And next, the truth about the movie "American Sniper."



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Would you be surprised if I told you that the Navy
has credited you with over 160 kills?

Do you ever think that you might have seen things or done some things
over there that you wish you hadn`t?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, that`s not me, no.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What`s not you?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I just was protecting my guys. They were trying
to kill our soldiers and I`m willing to meet my Creator and answer for
every shot that I took. The thing that haunts me are all the guys that I
couldn`t save.


O`DONNELL: In the spotlight tonight, what "American Sniper" teaches
us about war.

Joining me now is Alyssa Rosenberg, pop culture writer for "The
Washington Post". Also joining us via Skype is Courtney Duckworth,
freelance journalist who fact-checked "American Sniper" accuracy for

Alyssa, your piece in "The Washington Post" was entitled "American
Sniper`s Missing Element, the Man Behind the Gun."

What do you -- what is behind that headline?

things that I thought was interesting about "American Sniper" is that, in
life, Chris Kyle is -- was very comfortable with who he was.

If you read his memoir, you know, he is outspokenly politically
conservative, he has very negative views of Iraqis. He, you know, tells
all of these stories about getting into bar fights after the war.

If you read profiles of him, he claims that he went to Katrina and
shot people from the roof of the Superdome. So, he tells all of these
larger-than-life stories about himself.

He`s very clear and confident in his politics. And yet, much of that
didn`t make it into Clint Eastwood`s movie.

I may be the only person in the country who thinks that "American
Sniper" might have been a more interesting movie if it was more
conservative and more specific to who Chris Kyle was, how he wanted to be
seen, and what he believed.

O`DONNELL: Yes. You know, it`s fascinating. Having seen the movie,
there`s a lot of choices there in that screenplay that could have gone in
the directions you`re talking about in your article.

And it is just -- it`s a more difficult movie to write, and it`s a
more difficult movie to make work. I think this movie works very well on
its own terms from start to finish.

Courtney, I read your piece, studying what`s true in the movie and
what isn`t true in the movie.


And it seems like some of the essential glue of the screenplay is the
stuff that isn`t true.

like, more than any specific detail, --


-- what isn`t true is -- is like Alyssa was saying, the character of
Chris Kyle and that climactic moment where he killed the Iraqi sniper. You
know, those moments, sadly, didn`t happen.

And much of the emotional way that the movie is based on, on those
factual inaccuracies like the character of Mustafa.


O`DONNELL: Yes. You know, --

ROSENBERG: Well, if I can jump in --

O`DONNELL: -- let me just -- let me just make this point here. I,
for one, don`t care ever about these precise historical accuracy of so-
called historical films.

None of them are perfectly accurate. And all you`re dealing with is,
you know, who gets the prize this year for the least accurate one --


-- or for the most accurate one. And what I`m seeing here are a bunch
of screenwriting decisions that just hone the drama in the direction that
the writer -- and, by the way, we`ve invited the writer and Clint Eastwood,
the director, on tonight.

They couldn`t make it, which is not surprising in any way.


But it just hones it, Alyssa, and it makes it a smoother road from
start to finish in the movie. You have the motivation being 9/11 in this
movie, even though he joined the military years before 9/11.


But, without that 9/11 moment, you`ve got a much more difficult
motivation to write in the script.

And then this climatic moment where he gets, you know, from tremendous
distance away, this other sniper, the opposing sniper -- which is not true
-- is just a kind of book ending and climax stuff that screenplays need.

ROSENBERG: But, at the same time, Eastwood doesn`t entirely take
advantage of the potential involved in that choice, to set up Kyle and
Mustafa as sort of rivals, right.


It`s common in screenwriting these days to create a double for the
main character, who forces you to reflect on the character`s motivations
and how his choices are different, you know.

And the way that Mustafa is set up in the movie, he shot like a serial
killer. You have him lovingly looking at his gun, he`s twirling bullets on
the table, you see him putting his headscarf as this, you know, almost a
super villain costume.

But the movie never really gruffles with whether or not Chris Kyle is
like this guy is. He`s presented as a sort of impassive, incredibly
impressive killer but maybe with morally dubious motivations.


"American Sniper," in part, by taking away some of those other details
of Kyle`s wife, doesn`t really explore what`s set up as the movie`s central
question -- is Kyle a sheepdog or has he become a wolf?

O`DONNELL: You know, my general advice to people involved in these
kinds of projects, be it Bradley Cooper or others, is just don`t talk about
the real person. Just try to -- in the public presentation of it, just try
to -- just try to get away from that because it`s never really what it`s

I mean, this is a work of inspired fiction, inspired by a lot of non-

ROSENBERG: At the same though, there`s challenge with this movie.
And Cooper and Eastwood have talked about it being a character study, in
part, to avoid trying to make the movie into a partisan football.

Cooper said very specifically, "This is meant to be a nuanced
character study of Chris Kyle, not --


-- a commentary on the war in Iraq." Eastwood has said that it`s,
more broadly, an anti-war film. But I understand the desire to say, "Oh,
this is a character study."

The problem though is that Eastwood and, you know, --


-- his writer, made a number of choices that make this less a specific
character study, and turned Chris Kyle more into a stand-in for everyone
who fought in Iraq.

They -- you know, to promote the movie, they needed to say that it`s a
biography, that it`s a character study, that it`s psychological. But to
make the movie work at all, they needed to sand off made Chris Kyle unique
and turned him into a generic stand-in.

O`DONNELL: Courtney, before you go, could you just rattle off some of
the major inconsistencies with the known truth that the movie presents.
And I invite that not to, in any way, attack the movie but just to let
audiences know what they`re seeing.

They`re seeing what they might still find to be a highly enjoyable,
dramatic experience from start to finish. But there`s a bunch of stuff in
it --


-- that they should not think as true.

DUCKWORTH: I think, well, for one, the opening sequel, in which he
killed the woman and the child. The woman was never going to send the
child to kill American soldiers with a bomb.

So, Kyle doesn`t kill a child, only a woman. Also, he`s never invited
in by a family that is actually secretly hiding weapons.

I thought that was particularly suspicious of innocent Iraqi families.
Mustafa existed but Kyle didn`t kill him. He was killed but someone else

And the (inaudible) -- that that isn`t a character that Kyle talked
about in his Navy days, real life character.


O`DONNELL: Alyssa Rosenberg and Courtney Duckworth, thank you very
much for joining us on this controversial subject.

Coming up in the "Rewrite" -- the person whose life was changed by a
blizzard. It started him on the road to great success and great fame.

Now, tweet me your guesses on who you think that is. The answer will
be in the "Rewrite."



BILL MURRAY, ACTOR: This city is headed for a disaster of biblical

DAVID MARGULIES, ACTOR: What do you mean, biblical.

DAN AYKROYD, ACTOR: What he means is Old Testament, --


AYKROYD: -- Mr. Mayor. Real wrath-of-God type stuff.

MURRAY: Exactly.

AYKROYD: Fire and brimstone coming down from the skies. Rivers and
seas boiling.

HAROLD RAMIS, ACTOR: Forty years of darkness, earthquakes, volcanoes.

ERNIE HUDSON, ACTOR: The dead rising from the grave.

MURRAY: Human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together. Mass


O`DONNELL: Breaking show business news -- "The Hollywood Reporter"
has revealed the stars of the all-female "Ghostbusters" will be Melissa
McCarthy, --


-- who is already in talks for one of the leads, has signed on for the
Paul Fieg-directed reboot. And Sony is now negotiating with Kristen Wiig,
as well as "Saturday Night Live" players, Leslie Jones and Kate McKinnon.

So, just like the first "Ghostbusters," most of the cast, coming
straight out of this building and "Saturday Night Live."


Coming up next in the "Rewrite," the man whose life was changed by a


Terrible things happen in terrible storms. Lives can be lost, dreams
dashed. But wonderful things can happen, too.

Nine months after big blizzards, maternity wards always have at least
a few more babies than they would have had without that blizzard. Lives
can be changed, futures rewritten by the unpredictable effects of wild

I always think of Tim Russert during blizzards because Tim had the
best blizzard story I ever heard. Tim was in --


-- his 17th year of hosting "Meet the Press," with what should have
been 17 more years ago, when he died suddenly of heart failure. You might
never have heard of Tim Russert were it not for a blizzard.


In 1976, Tim Russert got his start in politics in the Buffalo campaign
office of Harvard professor, Daniel Patrick Moynihan, who was running for
Senate in New York in a crowded field of celebrity Democratic candidates
that included former Attorney General Ramsey Clark and Congresswoman Bella

The Moynihan campaign was a risky bet for a young guy in Buffalo, who
had just worked his way through law school and has fumed his way around

But the bet paid off and, in January of 1977, when Senator Moynihan
took the oath of office, Tim Russert took that same oath of office as a
Senate staff employee, running the new senator`s Buffalo office.


Three weeks later -- just three weeks later, Buffalo was hit with the
blizzard of `77, which made front-page news all over the country. Snow
drifts were as high as 25 feet.

The snow was so high at the zoo that three reindeer were able to just
step over the fence and wander around Buffalo. The mail delivery was
suspended for almost a week.


Tim Russert urged the Harvard boys, running the senator`s Washington
office to get Senator Moynihan up to Buffalo as fast as possible. Tim
started researching the possibilities for emergency federal assistance for

When Senator Moynihan arrived in Buffalo, Tim made sure the local
media knew it. Federal judge, Richard Eaton, who was then running Senator
Moynihan`s other upstate New York office, told me tonight, quote, "Tim did
such a great job with the Buffalo press that it sounded like Pat Moynihan
was shoveling your sidewalk."

When the Senator got on the plane back to Washington, he took Tim with
him. Tim got on the plane in his Timberland boots and his parka. He
wasn`t dressed for the formality in the Washington Senate office.

And, later that day, in the Washington office, for the first time, Tim
Russert wrote a letter to the President of the United States that the
senator would sign, asking for federal assistance.

Tim then went to the White House and hand-delivered the letter to
Hamilton Jordan, President Carter`s chief-of-staff. Tim tells what happens
next in his book, "Big Russ and Me."


"I spent the night in a hotel above the Dubliner, a great Irish bar.
I took my first shower in days and showed up at Moynihan`s office in the
morning, where I called in the Buffalo reporters and helped arranged
interviews for Senator Moynihan, with every and television station in

"After a day or two, Liz Moynihan turned to me and said, `You know,
you`re pretty good at this. Why don`t you stay here and help us out with
the press.`"

The senator`s wife, Liz Moynihan, was always his best talent scout.
And she is still the best political analyst I know.


Tim rushed back to Buffalo, packed a bag and drove his 1972 Gremlin
down to Washington, where he became Senator Moynihan`s press secretary.
Two years later, he was the senator`s chief of staff.

Four years after that, in 1982, he ran the senator`s first reelection
campaign, winning 66 percent of the vote. By then, everyone in Washington
politics knew who Tim Russert was.

When Senator Gary Hart`s presidential campaign was struggling in 1984,
in a private strategy session, Senator Hart said, "Get me a Russert." That
is the line that every political officer (ph) in Washington dreams of, "Get
me a Russert."

They all want their name at the end of that sentence -- "Get me a
Russert." But Tim certainly didn`t think he was on his way to becoming
that kind of legendary political figure in his first year in Washington.


About that first year, he wrote, "My difficult moments came not with
the press, but with a few of Moynihan`s other staffers. They were serious,
high-powered intellectuals, Ivy League graduates. I was sometimes
intimidated in their presence."


One day, Tim confessed this to Senator Moynihan, saying that, half the
time, he didn`t understand what some of the staff was talking about. The
senator burst out laughing.

There was no one in his Senate office that he felt closer to than Tim
Russert. Pat Moynihan and Tim Russert were a couple of Irish guys, who
grew up in cities where no one handed them anything.

Tim Russert worked in a garbage truck to pay for his education. Pat
Moynihan shined shoes in Times Square.

Tim`s father always had a steady job, driving a newspaper delivery
truck for "The Buffalo Evening News." Pat Moynihan`s father abandoned the
family when Pat was 10 years old.

Pat`s mother was a bartender in Hell`s Kitchen. Pat Moynihan
appreciated and respected education and expertise.

But he also valued political instinct and street smarts -- the stuff
that can`t be taught, the stuff you learn shining shoes and tending bar,
and earning your own way through life.

Senator Moynihan didn`t say any of that to Tim. He just put his arm
around Tim and said, "Let me tell you something. What they know, you can
learn. But what you know, they will never learn."

So, that`s what I think about during blizzards.


It seems nothing stimulates a dating app quite like a blizzard. The
people at a mobile -- a mobile dating app, Hinge, reportedly saw an
increase of 22 percent in activity yesterday, including a record number of
log-ins per user.

According to this chart provided by "The Huffington Post," --


-- a significant lift in the Hinge sessions began around 3:00 p.m. and
fell off around 10:00 p.m. Aaron Find, Director of Marketing at Hinge
said, quote, "Most of our users are young professionals, and New York will
be closed on Tuesday. Who wouldn`t want a play date on a snow day?"

That`s what she said. Up next, new details about drunk droning in
Washington and how a drunk drone landed on the White House lawn.


Well, at least one person in Washington learned a very important
lesson this week -- never drink and drone. The drone that landed --


-- on the White House lawn in the wee hours of Monday morning was
operated by a drunk off-duty National Geospatial Intelligence Agency

Investigators say, the worker lost control of the drone while he was
playing with it at a nearby apartment. Law enforcement officials say, the
two-foot, two-pound drone was too small to be detected by radar at the
White House.

The National Geospatial Intelligence Agency will not --


-- identify the worker who turned himself in on Monday, nor will they
comment on what kind of action, if any, has been taken. President Obama
responded while in India.


F.A.A. and a number of agencies to examine how are we managing this new
technology because, the drone that landed at the White House, you buy at


O`DONNELL: Joining me now is Susan Crabtree, White House
Correspondent for the "Washington Examiner." Susan, they were lucky this
time, it was just drunk-droning. But that drone you buy at RadioShack
could also be carrying something harmful.


That`s right. This is a real game changer for the Secret Service. It`s
sort of a nightmare scenario come true.

They`ve been planning for this type of issue for many years, and
remote controlled IED, explosive devices, too. And they`ve been working on
jamming technology, but there are so many different problems -- you know,
the jamming technology would kind of present a force field, sort of Batman-
like, around the White House grounds.


But that would cause problems because a jamming technology, which is
military grade, would interrupt tourist phone calls, --


-- some say 9/11 phone calls for safety purposes. And so, it`s really
not quite there yet. And the Secret Service, as you know, Lawrence, has
had a very difficult year.

And this is just one more thing that they have to deal with now -- how
to stop these, you know, would-be drone from coming in over the fence.
We`ve already talked about how the fence needs to be raised and higher.

And, now -- but you cannot protect -- have a higher fence to protect
against this type of drone, dropping in on the White House lawn.

O`DONNELL: So, Susan you`ve done a lot of work.


And what the Secret Service has been going through this year, and all
of their problems -- I`m listening carefully here -- it sounds like they
don`t have any idea what to do about this.


CRABTREE: Well, I think that they`re working with the Military on,
like I said, this jamming technology. But they haven`t come into an
agreement with other organizations that are concerned about tourists and
keeping the White House as open as possible and accessible.

You know, it is the people`s White House, and they want to keep it
accessible to tourists and not prevent, you know, phones from being jammed
when they get near it.

So, they haven`t worked it out. And it`s been a difficult situation
for the Secret Service. As you know, they`ve had a tumultuous year this

And they just lost all of their top officials, five of them exactly,
just this month when the acting director, Clancy, told them that they
needed to leave and be reassigned in the Department of Homeland Security.

So, you know, what I had asked the Secret Service, --


-- and they haven`t been able to answer me yet, is whether those
officials are still remaining in their jobs.

And if that`s the case, we have some people who know that they`re not
wanted, in charge of making decisions, top level positions for the Secret
Service, and are still there but they`re not -- haven`t been replaced yet.

So, I just don`t think that`s a good scenario for a long period of

O`DONNELL: Susan, I can imagine how the First Family feels about
this, that there`s not a lot more information that the Secret Service is
probably capable of giving them, about how they will be protected from

CRABTREE: Well, they know --


-- that the motorcade, currently, is protected by a jamming device.
We don`t get too much information at the White House Press Corps.

We often joke amongst ourselves that we feel like our own cell phones
are being jammed by the Secret Service when we get too close to the
presidential motorcade or we`re in the motorcade itself and we need to send
our full reports in.

But, you know, I do think that there`s great concern on Capitol Hill
about the security of the President in light of these security lapses. And
we`re not talking about fence jumpers anymore.

This is a sort of a game-changer. We`re talking about drones going
over the White House fence. You know, you have the Park Service that
imposed -- recently made a decision and said, "No more drones in the Park
Service because they interrupt," you know, "the wildlife and the tourist

You had drones dropping on Mt. Rushmore and, you know, I talked to a
Park Service official and she said this is a big dilemma among them. But
this is -- this, rather than just an experience, a natural experience,
we`re dealing with the security of the President of the United States.

O`DONNELL: Susan Crabtree, thank you very much for joining us


O`DONNELL: Chris Hayes is up next.


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