Hardball with Chris Matthews, Transcript 03/06/15
CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: Hillary`s war.
Let`s play HARDBALL.
Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Washington.
The sharp focus on Hillary Clinton seen all this week in front page
headlines, none of them good, heads into this weekend. Why, the newspapers
demand, did the former secretary of state keep her e-mail records out of
public reach? Why did she do her business – diplomatic, political and
otherwise – on a private e-mail server beyond public access?
And how can investigators ever be sure of ever getting access to all
of it? And if not, how will any of her critics be satisfied and how will
her supporters ever be able to clear her of the charges her critics always
make against her?
Beth Fouhy`s the senior editor of MSNBC.com, David Corn`s Washington
bureau chief for “Mother Jones” magazine – you`ve had a hell of time this
month, buddy – and April Ryan covers the White House for American Urban
Radio Networks. Her new book – it`s fabulous – is just out a week or so
ago, “The Presidency in Black and White.” You know her. Buy this book.
Anyway, let`s start with everybody`s view of this, if there is such a
– I`m going to go to Beth because you`re a wire reporter at heart. You
know how to get the facts. Getting the facts to this story are so
There were guidelines – tell me where I`m wrong – in 2009, when
Hillary Clinton became secretary of state, that people like her should have
known about, I think it`s fair to say, that you`re supposed to operate on
your government e-mail account. You`re supposed to have everything
available, retrievable, Freedom of Information use by the press. It`s
supposed to all be there.
She chose to create a separate server, her own brand, really, of e-
mail, where she does it all on her own and – and that`s what she decided
to do. Where is the wrong, the right, the murky, the what here, what is
the story, and why does it persist?
BETH FOUHY, MSNBC.COM SENIOR EDITOR: Well, it persists because of
politics, primarily, Chris. But let`s go back to the 2009 rule that you
just referenced. It was a much broader rule that governed the maintenance
of e-mail accounts in 2009. It was very fuzzy language. It says that
people in the State Department should do their business on government e-
mail. However, they could use private e-mail if they chose, they just
needed to keep it in a way that it could be archived and searched.
It was only in 2014 that a much stricter rule came down saying all
government business needs to be done on the government account unless it`s
an emergency for some reason. So technically, she was operating within the
rule that existed in 2009 when she became secretary of state. And the
State Department has never said that she`s violated that policy. They`ve
simply said that they`ve got to go see what`s in the e-mail that she`s
turned over to them.
If there`s sensitive information that might have been compromised by
the fact that it was not on a secure server, that opens up a whole other
can of worms. But right now, it does not look like she violated that 2009
MATTHEWS: Well, let me read you these things because then I want you
to vet them first, then to other two people. This is “The Washington
Post,” Karen Tumulty and Anne Gearan. “Former secretary of state Hillary
Rodham Clinton appears to have violated or operated in violation of what
the White House said Tuesday was, quote, very specific guidance that
members of the Obama administration used government e-mail accounts to
carry out official business.” So there you have somebody at the White
House saying – I guess Josh Earnest – she violated very specific
guidance. So they`re saying she did.
MATTHEWS: Then you have, of course – let me read you (INAUDIBLE) –
Associated Press, where you used to work – where you used to work. “Even
if Hillary Rodham Clinton`s use of a private e-mail server to conduct
official business as secretary of state was not illegal, it violated Obama
administration guidance and undermined his pledge of historic
transparency.” That`s the Associated Press.
Now, the last one is Politico. “The State Department has had a policy
in place since 2005 to warn officials against routine use of personal e-
mail accounts for government work, a regulation enforced during Hillary
Clinton`s tenure as secretary of state, that it appears to be at odds with
her reliance on a private e-mail for agency business, Politico has
So you`ve got three sources there saying it was some kind of
violation. Your response to that?
FOUHY: My response to that – look, I`m not here to defend her at
all. I`m simply saying that she`s a smart enough person and knew at the
top – being the top of this – you know, she`s the most important diplomat
in the United States. She got guidance from someone, legal guidance that
she could stay within – she could run her e-mail this way.
I`m not saying it was a smart thing to do. It probably did violate
rules, but she was advised at some point that she could do this. It was
clearly a stupid political move, if nothing else.
MATTHEWS: You know, one technical thing I`ve been trying to find out
all day is, if you have a private server, not just like, you know, Gmail a
lot of people have, I have AOL, a lot of people use different stuff – but
she had her own, basically. It was a Clinton something or other.
Does that mean you can always get that – when you said you can keep
it on your own e-mail but it had to be retrievable – is it retrievable?
Can you delete, delete, delete whenever you want? I don`t even know that.
APRIL RYAN, AMERICAN URBAN RADIO NETWORKS: As a public official, she
should never delete, delete, delete. She needs to keep everything, no
matter what, just for posterity`s sake, for herself.
But the issue is – and this rule is kind of murky. What she should
have done, if there was something on an e-mail from a private server, she
should have forwarded it to her State Department account. That`s what`s
Like, for instance, Josh Earnest said that because he even said in the
briefing, he said, Look, you know, many of you still have my personal e-
mail account. But what I do is to make sure everything is on the up and
up, I take it and forward it into the White House account. So it`s not
just about the server, it`s about what she didn`t do. But we also have to
MATTHEWS: But legally, how do you know…
DAVID CORN, “MOTHER JONES,” MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Chris –
MATTHEWS: If you`re her worst enemy and you don`t trust her for two
seconds, how do you know that she didn`t secretly do some kind of…
RYAN: That`s the problem.
MATTHEWS: … e-mail traffic that she`s never going to give away to
anybody. How do you know that? If you`re a bad guy – even if you`re Trey
Grayson (sic), who…
CORN: You don`t.
MATTHEWS: Or not Trey Grayson, Trey Gowdy. Trey Gowdy is
investigating her right now. How do you know?
CORN: Chris, you don`t. And the answer to your question is, if she
has her own e-mail server set up in her own home, there`s no guarantee that
anything that went – any e-mails that went there were preserved and were
not deleted, deleted, deleted. There`s no reason to think that they were,
MATTHEWS: Could a forensic expert get it? Could a forensic expert
CORN: Well – well…
MATTHEWS: … it or dig it up somehow out of the machine, on the
CORN: If you have control of the server, you can pretty much delete
things if you want. There may still be some trace, and maybe the NSA can
get to it, but in all practical, you know, terms, you can control what is
saved on the server. If there`s really something you want to get rid of,
you probably can get rid of it. You may have to even destroy machinery to
do it. But the point is, it`s out of – the chain of custody is tainted
CORN: That`s the real issue. So…
CORN: So her – her – her – the people who don`t like her, don`t
trust her, will always be able to say that we don`t know for sure that she
handed everything over.
RYAN: But she gave 55,000 documents from that personal server. So I
mean, she still might have more than 55,000…
MATTHEWS: Well, that doesn`t tell you all…
CORN: Well, Jeb Bush…
RYAN: That tells you a lot, 55,000…
MATTHEWS: But I consider that a bluff, by the way. That`s what you
normally do when you don`t want to give all the information, you say how
much you`re giving, which is a – let me ask you – I`ll start with Beth.
You know (INAUDIBLE) much about this. You`ve been covering all these
years. Is this story really about who do you trust, do you trust Hillary,
or she`s up to something, or she`s just a secretive person, a person who
likes to keep her private being as private as possible, just an instinct on
her part learned over years?
Is it about she did something wrong that she knows about? That
wouldn`t make sense because this decision to go private in this case with
the e-mail server was made before anything happened. So she wasn`t hiding
anything. So what is it really about, this story, about her – what does
it say about her being a good president?
FOUHY: Well, you know what it says to me right now is the fact that
she`s basically not said anything about this at all week except for that
one little tweet, where she said she wants the State Department to hand
over the e-mail. That`s the only…
MATTHEWS: Which they don`t have.
FOUHY: … she has said all week, which is – is – points to the
fact that she doesn`t even want to explain why she did this. That strikes
me as odd because to tell you the truth, Chris, as somebody who has covered
her quite a bit, she is secretive, she is not – she doesn`t like the
press. She wants to keep matters as private as possible.
But she`s also somebody who follows rules. She, as the secretary of
state, knew that she was representing this country, this government, this
president, and to do some sort of, like, sleazy end game around the rules
for no reason makes no sense, which is why I think she probably did this on
the up and up, and the fact that she`s not coming out to explain it or to
have somebody who is a senior person in her world explaining it, and rather
than – than…
FOUHY: … than sort of – sort of hiding behind this one little
tweet doesn`t make sense to me.
MATTHEWS: So no IG or anybody – inspector general – no one ever
came to her, no counsel from the White House or anywhere ever came to her
and said, Madam Secretary, you`re in violation of the rules. I know you
don`t want to be. Fix it. Nobody ever did that, apparently.
RYAN: Well, apparently, in August, there was – there was a
notification that they need to deal with this.
MATTHEWS: August of when?
RYAN: August supposedly of this year. Supposedly, we`re hearing that
she was notified around August…
MATTHEWS: But that`s a little late in the game.
RYAN: … very late in the game, but that`s why she – and I good
back to she needs to go out and talk because this – she needs to talk
before she even becomes – even talks about becoming…
MATTHEWS: David Corn, you`re one hell of an investigative reporter,
we know, and I want to ask you about this story. Is this – we had the
two reporters on last night. We had Anne Gearan of “The Post,” “Washington
Post,” and we had Mike Schmidt, who broke this story for “The Times,” both
denying there was oppo involved, which is always…
MATTHEWS: You know, David Brock`s been pushing that story on behalf
of the Clintons, the MediaMatters, that somehow, a bunch – and it looks
like – you know, everybody in politics thinks all stories are dumped.
They don`t assume any reporter enterprise (ph) or does any homework. It`s
always dumped on the door and…
MATTHEWS: Here, dummy, write this, will you? It`s – and they denied
it completely on the show, on the air – We did not get this dumped from
Republican oppo. Your thoughts.
CORN: Well, Chris, we`ve been looking at this cycle or this pattern
for almost two decades now. Something happens in the Clinton world, one of
the two Clintons, they do something wrong, and the right wing – their –
their – their opponents jump on it and say it`s the worst thing that`s
ever happened since the Holocaust. And then their defenders rush in and
say, Look at what the right wing and the media are doing, they`re attacking
And the thing itself, which maybe on a scale of 1 to 10 might be a 4,
is now being argued about as if it`s a 13.
CORN: And we lose sight of what it really is about. I mean, even if
this came from oppo research, it shouldn`t matter. As secretary of state,
she had an obligation to make sure her records were kept in a way that they
were not totally within her control…
CORN: … and that the public could have access to it. And that
didn`t happen. And that is a problem.
MATTHEWS: Let`s talk the primordial. I want to suggest the
possibility – everybody, starting with Beth. You know how when you have
kids in the back seat and you – you all – we all remember being one of
them, one of the kids in the back seat. I was – I had four brothers. We
were all in the back seat together sometimes. Sometimes, its a sister, and
she`s sitting on my side or he`s sitting on my side and he just touched me
MATTHEWS: It`s almost like that with the media. I don`t mean the
right and left. The big mainstream accusedly liberal media and Hillary
Clinton seem to have this – they`re on my side. He`s on my side. This
looks like it`s going to be all through the next 10 years if she`s the next
president. Your thoughts, Beth.
FOUHY: Well, one thing…
MATTHEWS: This natural sense of, I want to fight, I really do want to
fight. I don`t want to get along, you know? That`s what I`m thinking.
FOUHY: One thing that struck me as very strange about this week is
the fact that “The New York Times,” which Republicans thing is the most
liberal newspaper ever…
MATTHEWS: Oh, yes.
FOUHY: … that they broke the story…
FOUHY: … and that Hillary Clinton and her – I mean, not her
personally, but her team is fighting back and calling what they did sloppy
journalism. I mean, suddenly, you`ve got, you know, supposedly, the
liberal presidential candidate and the pro-Democratic newspaper at odds
with one another. I mean, it`s just a – it`s just a complete sort of
MATTHEWS: Yes. I think David Brock, who`s a smart fellow, should
look at the fact that in 2000, guess who “The New York Times” endorsed for
MATTHEWS: Hillary Rodham Clinton. Who did they endorse in 2006 for
the Senate? Hillary Rodham Clinton. Who did they endorse in a fight
against Barack Obama?
RYAN: Hillary Rodham Clinton.
MATTHEWS: So this notion that somehow “The Times” is sitting up
CORN: Well, you know…
MATTHEWS: … on Times Square thinking about how they`re going to get
RYAN: This is beyond – go ahead, David.
CORN: The Clinton camp has always been incredibly sensitive and even
paranoid in some quarters about press coverage going back to Whitewater and
other things. They really think that they`re always being targeted. And
so as soon as something comes up, it`s their natural inclination, and all
of us reporters who have dealt with their – with her communications team,
you know, we get this day in, day out from them. They, you know, close
ranks. They attack – always on the attack, and I think in some ways, it
doesn`t serve them well.
MATTHEWS: Last word from April.
RYAN: Chris, this is more than the term of “You`ve got mail.” This
is an issue of transparency and honesty, and she`s got to get out in front
of it no matter who`s for her or who`s against her. This could hurt her.
She`s got to come out and talk about it and show what`s going on with that
MATTHEWS: And this weekend, the book stores that are still open in
MATTHEWS: … both the chains and the great local ones that save our
civilization are carrying on their book shelves your book…
RYAN: “The Presidency in Black and White.”
MATTHEWS: That`s why you`re here. Thank you. No, it`s not only why
you`re here. Thank you so much for coming on, April. April Fouhy (sic),
David Corn and – David, I watch you. You are the gladiator of the 21st
century. You`re something.
MATTHEWS: Coming up…
CORN: Thank you.
MATTHEWS: David Corn.
Coming up, confronting ISIS. President Obama`s strategy increasingly
relies on the most unlikely of allies, Iran. It`s Iranian military leaders
right now working with Iraqi forces in their battle against ISIS.
President Obama seems to have a plan. It`s called Iran.
Plus, tomorrow is the 50th anniversary of the march at Selma. Back
then, the fight was over the right to vote. And today, well, thanks to an
unprecedented assault on voting rights across the country led by
Republicans and their leader, Reince Priebus, it still is.
And the high-ranking Democratic senator Bob Menendez of New Jersey,
the top guy in foreign relations, could be indicted this month on federal
criminal corruption charges. Menendez denies any wrongdoing, but his case
is the latest in the ugly string of public corruption realities.
Anyway, finally, “Let Me Finish” with Attorney General Eric Holder`s
report on the death of Michael Brown and the conduct of the Ferguson police
And don`t forget, coming up Monday, Kevin Spacey – there he is, that
evil man! All – I mean, evil – a guy playing an evil actor, I should say
– all “House of Cards” fans will want to tune in for that one. He is
This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: The February jobs report is out today with better than
expected news. Catch this – 295,000 jobs were added last month, far
exceeding expectations of about 240,000, and the unemployment dropped down
to 5.5 percent. The unemployment rate hasn`t been that low since mid-2008,
when guess who was president. Analysts had predicted slower growth due to
the barrage of winter storms, but it`s looking good out there for the
And we`ll be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER: When it comes to Iran and
ISIS, the enemy of your enemy is your enemy.
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. That in a nutshell is the
challenge for President Obama. Does Iran help in the fight against ISIS,
or shouldn`t we be doing it?
“The New York Times” reports on Iran`s expanding role fighting ISIS in
Iraq. Quote, “More openly than ever before, Iran`s powerful influence in
Iraq has been on display. As the counteroffensive against Islamic State
militants around Tikrit has unfolded in recent days, at every point, the
Iranian-backed militias have taken the lead in the fight against the
Islamic State here.” Wow!
And “The Wall Street Journal” hammers home the point. Quote, “When
fighters from the Islamic State staged a lightning offensive into northern
Iraq in June, weapons and advisers were en route from Iran within hours.”
Anyway, joining me right now is the BBC international affairs
correspondent Kim Ghattas, author of “The Secretary” about Hillary Clinton,
and David Rothkopf, who is editor of the “Foreign Affairs” (sic) magazine.
What a prestigious group. Thank you so much.
I want to start with David. Is this the plan for the ground war
against ISIS, Iran?
DAVID ROTHKOPF, “FOREIGN POLICY”: I don`t think it`s the plan, but
it`s the reality. The reality is the boots on the ground are Iranian,
they`re Iraqi and they`re Kurdish. The 60-person coalition we`ve heard
about is not the point of the spear that`s going in against ISIS. And
we`re relying on them. We`re flying air support for Iran, which is a kind
of bizarre twist…
MATTHEWS: Close air support? Are we, like, fighting them – are we
strafing the other side?
ROTHKOPF: I don`t think we`re doing that. You know, we say we`re not
coordinating with them, which means, you know, she`s an Iraqi, I call her,
you`re an Iranian, she calls you.
MATTHEWS: So we`re going through that gamesmanship.
ROTHKOPF: It is a game. Iran is having a great Obama presidency.
MATTHEWS: Yes. Well, in this instance, it`s two forces with Iranian
– there`s the Shia militia, who are real fighters, who are at least –
well, they are nationally Iraqi, but then you have very quickly arriving
Quds Force coming in – Quds Force coming in, as if it`s, like, a commuter
ride. They`re there, right?
ROTHKOPF: They`re there. And the head of the Quds Force is
everywhere. And he`s doing photo-ops.
And there are pictures of the Iranian supreme leader in downtown
Baghdad. They`re getting credit for the gains of this coalition.
MATTHEWS: Well, here we are.
And I keep thinking, having not grown up during, but having grown up
after it, our Soviet coalition with us, the four years of the European war.
It was Soviets fighting Nazis, not us. We got in there in June of `44 on
the European continent after Normandy, but they`d been fighting them since
they were treacherously attacked by the Panzers in `41. And that was four
years, 20 million people dead.
Are we going to use them as our surrogate fighting force?
KIM GHATTAS, BBC CORRESPONDENT: Well, tactically, in the short-term,
it works for the U.S., because the Pentagon doesn`t want to be any more
closely involved than it already is.
But there`s a long-term price possibly to pay for having Shias at the
forefront of this fight, when you have a group like ISIS that feeds a
narrative that the Sunnis are under attack.
MATTHEWS: Is this land that they`re fighting for Sunni or Shia land?
GHATTAS: Well, it should be known as just Iraq.
MATTHEWS: But is it?
GHATTAS: And it – the Iraqi army is trying to retake it from ISIS.
MATTHEWS: But do they have the – are the people who live in those
areas that are in dispute now, is that considered Sunni territory or…
GHATTAS: Well, Tikrit and to a large extent – to a large extent,
Mosul are Sunni. And that`s why it`s a problem if you have Shia militias
that are part of this fighting force, because Sunnis who want to come back
to their towns want to know, what happens the day after? What happens
after the Shia militias come in?
GHATTAS: So that`s why I say there is a long-term price to pay for
this short-term tactic, unless there is a plan that we`re not aware of and
the Obama White House has a plan to outmaneuver the Iranians. But the U.S.
doesn`t have a great track record when it comes to outmaneuvering the
MATTHEWS: Looking five years out, are we likely to simply see
different battle lines, that this is not going to be over with in the near
ROTHKOPF: No, no.
MATTHEWS: The next president perhaps will still see – well, the line
moving out from the Iraqi border into ISIS will be several thousand –
several miles deeper into the West, and there – but there will still be
this territory controlled by Islamic State.
Is there any chance that the Iranian forces going in there could
defeat the Islamic State, ISIS?
ROTHKOPF: Look, I think this is going to go on for a few years. I
think there will be victories of the Iranian and Iraqi forces against the
But as Kim says, if it`s Shia victories, this plays into the ISIS
narrative. This is going to strengthen ISIS in some other places. And I
think what you`re going to see is not just shifting battle lines. You`re
going to see shifting borders.
I think we`re going to redefine what these countries are based on who
they see their enemies are and who they see their allies are. And this –
these shifts could go on for the next 10 years, because the Kurds are
another group that`s fighting on our behalf who want independence, and
we`re going to be in a tough spot also by taking advantage of that.
And then when they turn to us and say, well, do we get our country now
out of this, and if we say, yes, then we alienate the Turks.
MATTHEWS: The irony is – the thing is, there`s so many historical
echoes here, because when the Nazis rolled through much of Russia on their
way to Moscow, they found a lot of people at least initially glad to see
them. They hated the communist system.
But after they met the Nazis and the S.S. came in and started killing
all the priests and the Jews and the gypsies and the gays, they said, wait
a minute, this is worse than Stalin. Right? And they didn`t have a happy
situation as they retreated, obviously.
And could that happen here with the Shia? Are they going to be worse
than the ISIS forces? Who is going to be liked? Is anybody going to like
anybody over there?
GHATTAS: I`m not a big fan of historical comparisons like that.
I think this is very particular to the region, very particular to what
we`re seeing unfold right there now. But I think that we need to take a
step back and look at the bigger strategy of how you bring the violence to
MATTHEWS: Forget my parallel. Where does the loyalty of the people
lie at some point? We found Iraq come apart because the Sunnis didn`t want
to fight ISIS when they came in, because they preferred the ISIS Sharia
crowd to what they were getting from sort of revanchist government of the
Well, where do people of ISIS, or the Islamic State, want to be? Do
they want to be under Islamic State?
GHATTAS: Sunnis in Iraq or Sunnis in Syria don`t necessarily want to
be ruled by ISIS, but they also don`t want to be ruled by a Shia militia.
So, it`s about how are you putting your coalition?
MATTHEWS: Who do they want to be ruled by? Who do they want to be
GHATTAS: And that goes to the point of, what do you do about ISIS
once you push it out of Iraq?
MATTHEWS: Good question.
GHATTAS: Let`s say there are a few victories in Tikrit and in Mosul
and you start pushing out of Iraq and it goes to Syria. What do you do
then? Do you just cauterize the wound there and let ISIS and the rest of
And that`s where the Americans and the Europeans have a big difference
of opinion. For Iraq, for the U.S., ISIS is an Iraq problem. For the
Europeans, it`s a Syria problem. And they want to know what happens when
it becomes just a Syria problem and they have jihadi fighters going in and
out of Europe into Syria. And there`s no strategy for Syria at the moment,
ROTHKOPF: And you said, what is the Obama plan?
At the very beginning, the president said one of the most important
things we can do is to find representation for the Sunnis in Baghdad, to
find an alternative narrative for the Sunnis…
MATTHEWS: Yes. I agree.
ROTHKOPF: … in other parts of Iraq. And we haven`t done it. And
the Baghdad government hasn`t stepped up to it. They have moved actually
closer to Iran.
And this is the critical thing in the whole region, because ISIS isn`t
the problem. Violent extremism is the problem. And you need moderate
Sunni stabilizing alternatives in these places. You have got to build
these grassroots organizations from the ground up. It`s tough, but I don`t
see any progress. I don`t know if you see progress. But I don`t see any
GHATTAS: I don`t see any progress.
And the growing narrative is that Sunnis are the victims. And we have
gone from Shia victimhood to Sunni victimhood and we`re stuck in a cycle.
MATTHEWS: Yes. Thank you so much for your expertise, Kim Ghattas.
I only have historic references. I`m not a local from Levant, like
you are. You can speak for the community over there.
MATTHEWS: Thank you.
GHATTAS: History`s important. History`s important.
MATTHEWS: I do my Eurocentric…
MATTHEWS: … every night here, but I like it.
GHATTAS: And ISIS is going to destroy that as well.
MATTHEWS: And I ain`t going to change.
Anyway, thank you, Kim Ghattas.
Thank you, David Rothkopf.
Anyway, we will be right back after this.
TOM COLICCHIO, MSNBC FOOD CORRESPONDENT: I hear people say, we`d like
to improve school lunch program, but the kids, all they want to do is eat
pizza and burgers. If we give them good food, they won`t eat.
Come on, people. We`re adults here. It`s up to us to do better. My
kids would happily live in front the Xbox and never take a shower for as
long as they lived. But that`s not going to happen either.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
That was Tom Colicchio from Bravo`s “Top Chef” testifying before the
Congress about improving the nutritional value of school lunches.
President Harry Truman first started that school lunch program, by the
way, back in his term in this country after doctors found that many of the
young men recruited to serve in our military in World War II were failing
their physicals due to malnutrition.
And that effort was later boosted by President Kennedy`s – quote –
“Youth Fitness Program,” which promoted physical activity and healthier
eating in schools. Look at all that.
Now first lady Michelle Obama has followed their lead with her Let`s
But promoting good nutrition is not just an investment in our health.
It`s also an investment in America`s economy. According to the Department
of Agriculture, healthier diets could save $87 billion in medical costs and
lost productivity a year.
And the Centers for Disease Control estimates that obesity is
responsible for $147 billion in medical costs a year.
As part of MSNBC`s 7 Days of Genius Festival this week, we`re
exploring the people, ideas and leaders who change the world.
And, tonight, we`re talking about the role that politics, poverty and
the food industry play in our nation`s health.
I`m joined right now by MSNBC food correspondent Tom Colicchio, a
restaurant entrepreneur and judge on Bravo`s “Top Chef,” as well as Nathan
Myhrvold, who is founder of The Cooking Lab and author of “Modernist
Well, we only have a few minutes, gentlemen, but I do – this is such
a departure from what we talk about. But it seems to me two things are
going on right now. One is this fascination with food. All of a sudden,
young women want to go out with chefs. Chefs are cool. I don`t remember
any of that growing up. Chefs were cooks. Now they`re cool.
And the other thing is there is recognition that in a lot of poor
areas, African-American, inner city areas, whatever you want to call them,
there – I know this to be a fact. There are food deserts, where the only
thing you see is a KFC or some kind of Burger King if you`re lucky, if
you`re lucky, no restaurant, no real Giant Foods or Safeways, no easy way
to get lettuce.
I think you`re a mile away from a head of lettuce or a tomato in a lot
of these neighborhoods. So what people are relying on is like Chinese food
at 6:00 at night or fast food.
So, let me start with you, Tom. Put it together, this sort of elite
concern about good food and then the gourmands out there and this
recognition that bad food and food deserts is killing people.
COLICCHIO: Right. Sure, Chris.
So I guess we have to put this into context of genius. And all week
long, MSNBC has been focusing on what genius is and how to define it, but I
think we should focus on food and the role that nutrition plays and the
loss of potential and who is out there, what kid is out there that was at
the bus stop this morning who didn`t get dinner the night before, who is
not getting a nutritious breakfast, and then are going to school and it`s
impossible for them to learn?
And so what`s the lost potential out there due to hunger and due to
the – and the ideas of food deserts? Roughly 16 million children are
living at homes that are at or below the poverty line. And so it`s very
easy to demonize a parent for making those bad choices, except what`s
affordable and why are things affordable?
And I think, if you want that answer, you can actually go to Iowa this
weekend to the Republican Ag Conference and you will see food policy that`s
actually not benefiting people, but benefiting large corporations, for that
MATTHEWS: Let me go to Nathan on that.
Same question. How do you put together this new concern, focus really
on quality food for people with money and good food for people that don`t
have a lot?
NATHAN MYHRVOLD, FOUNDER, COOKING LAB: Well, it`s a tough problem
because people are voting with their mouths, effectively, in what they eat.
So, you step back and say, well, why is it that food that`s ultimately
killing us and costing all this money, why is that popular? And it`s a
combination of factors. It`s not available, as you pointed out, Chris.
And there are also – it isn`t necessarily delicious, or at least there`s a
perception that it isn`t, because no matter how hard we try to legislate
some things – and I agree with Tom there`s a huge policy component –
people have to want to eat it.
And it has got to be affordable and it has got to be convenient.
Telling everyone they should plant organic vegetables in their backyard and
cook all the dinners themselves doesn`t work for the single mom who is
raising a couple kids and holding down two jobs.
But I go back to that – back to you, Tom, and your expertise. You go
to the – you sit down at a meal – my wife is fabulous at this. You have
like a really good salad. And you know if you`re reasonably hungry around
7:00 at night or 7:30, it`s great.
But you also wouldn`t mind going to a Chinese restaurant and knocking
back some sweet and sour pork, which requires no effort, except sheer joy,
and your carb numbers go through the roof. So, lot of it is choices you
have to make yourself.
You have to say, damn it, I`m going to have a decent salad tonight.
I`m not going for Chinese.
Chris, I agree, but if you have that choice, if you have the necessary
means to make that choice. We`re talking about people who don`t
necessarily have the means to make that decision. And yet you have to look
at, what is affordable? What`s affordable is highly processed foods.
MATTHEWS: Yes, I agree, in packages.
MATTHEWS: Thank you so much, Tom Colicchio. And, thank you, Nathan
Myhrvold, for joining us.
MATTHEWS: This is an unusual topic. You have made it delightful.
Coming up: Fifty years after the march on Selma and voting rights are
again under siege in this country. They really are. And that`s in our
roundtable. Why do we have to fight Selma and Reince Priebus and the GOP
all over again?
You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.
PAGE HOPKINS, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: I`m Page Hopkins. Here`s what`s
New Jersey`s senior senator, Robert Menendez, the top Democrat on
Foreign Relations Committee, is in serious legal jeopardy tonight.
Multiple outlets, including WNBC`s Jonathan Dienst, are reporting that
Menendez could face federal criminal corruption charges later this month.
Menendez has been under investigation for taking gifts in exchange for
political favors. Senator Menendez spoke just moments ago.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. ROBERT MENENDEZ (D), NEW JERSEY: Let me be very clear, very
clear. I have always conducted myself appropriately and in accordance with
Every action that I and my office have taken for the last 23 years
that I have been privileged to be in the United States Congress has been
based on pursuing the best policies for the people of New Jersey and of
this entire country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HOPKINS: That is Senator Bob Menendez of New Jersey on the possible
criminal corruption charges he could be facing later this month – and now
we`re taking you back to HARDBALL.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: When you think about
the principle that was upheld that day and in subsequent days at the Edmund
Pettus Bridge, it was the promise of an inclusive America. It was the
promise of an America where everybody is equal under the law, where
everybody has opportunity.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
That was of course President Obama this morning actually on the Joe
Madison radio show talking about the importance of the march on Selma,
which took place 50 years ago tomorrow.
The president and his family, former President George W. Bush and
roughly 100 bipartisan members of Congress are headed to Selma to pay
tribute and commemorate the historic anniversary of that demonstration for
voting rights, which turned violent, of course, and became known as Bloody
Sunday. We`re looking at a picture of it.
But for now, the right to vote has again come under assault by the
GOP. Republicans in nearly three dozen states passed laws to suppress the
voting rights of minorities and young people. Listen to Republicans here
in their own words here before the 2012 election, Pennsylvania`s Republican
leader Mike Turzai said their voter ID law would give the election to Mitt
Romney. Here`s Turzai.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STATE REP. MIKE TURZAI (R), PENNSYLVANIA: Voter ID, which is going to
allow Governor Romney to win the seat of Pennsylvania, done.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
After the election of Pennsylvania`s Republican Party chair gloated
about how those laws took away votes from President Obama.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you think all the attention drawn to voter ID
affected last year`s elections?
ROBERT GLEASON: Yes, I think a little bit. I think we probably had a
better election. Think about this – we cut Obama by 5 percent, which was
big. A lot of people lost sight of that. He won, he beat McCain by 10
percent. He only beat Romney by 5 percent. I think that photo ID helped a
bit in that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: And North Carolina Republican precinct chair Don Yelton
said, quote, – this to “The Daily Show” back in October after his state`s
new voter suppression laws were in effect.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DON YELTON, NORTH CAROLINA REPUBLICAN PRECINCT CHAIR: The law is
going to kick the Democrats in the butts. If it hurts a bunch of lazy
blacks that want the government to give them everything, so be it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And it just so happens that a lot of those people
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Joining the roundtable tonight: Michelle Bernard, she`s
president of the Bernard Center; Michael Tomasky is the contributor to “The
Daily Beast”, and Cherylyn Harley Lebon is the co-host of nationally
syndicated talk show “America”.
Anyway, thank you both for joining us.
You have sort of a Republican background. I want to know what you
think of those three guys. They admit the goal of the thing wasn`t to
prevent cheating, but to take the black vote down. They just said it.
CHERYLYN HARLEY LEBON, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: You know, Chris, I
don`t want to defend those guys. I don`t want to be in the business of
defending every Republican who makes an ignorant comment. Here`s the
bottom line –
MATTHEWS: Thirty-six states are doing this under Republican
leadership. They`re reducing the ability to vote.
LEBON: No, I don`t think they`re reducing the ability to vote. Voter
ID laws, in fact, have been proven to increase black voter participation,
as they did in the state of Georgia. Are you aware of that, Chris?
MATTHEWS: No, I`m just aware of Republican leaders trying to reduce
the black vote.
LEBON: Wait a minute. In the state of Georgia, black voter
participation increased after they passed –
MATTHEWS: Which black leaders agree with you? Who is out there
saying this is good for the black community to have more difficult to vote?
LEBON: I`m a black leader, I`m in favor of voter ID. I don`t really
care what the other black leaders are saying.
MATTHEWS: Here`s the problem. If you live in a row house in a big
city, like I grew up in and you don`t have a car, what`s your ID card at
the age of 80? What ID card do you have to flash to vote? You ever have
to do it before. The people vote, they know you, you never had to show an
ID card before. Where do you get that ID card? Tell me about it.
LEBON: Chris, when you – if you get any sort of government
assistance, if you get a Medicare card, you have to show ID. People do
have photo IDs. How do you get any sort of government assistance? How are
people flying on the plane?
Listen, Chris, you have to get –
MATTHEWS: These people don`t fly on airplanes.
LEBON: My mother, my mother 79 years old and she has photo ID. Does
your mother have photo ID?
LEBON: Do any of your siblings have voter ID? Come on.
MICHELLE BERNARD, BERNARD CENTER: It`s not just the voter ID laws.
MATTHEWS: It is the voter ID laws.
BERNARD: If we have seen the Supreme Court begins the dismantling of
everything that people fought for 50 years ago. When the Supreme Court
struck down part of the voting rights act, states were led by Republican
governors basically said now we have carte blanche to pass laws to suppress
the votes of anyone who votes Democratic. So, that is Latinos, it is
overwhelmingly African-Americans. It is a horrible, horrible thing to do.
And we just saw evidence of three people who are gloating about the
fact that they know that this hurts Democrats because it is suppressing the
MICHAEL TOMASKY, THE DAILY BEAST: If you`re looking for federal
benefits, then, of course, you have to show who you are because there`s a
lot of fraud in that world.
LEBON: Right, absolutely.
TOMASKY: There`s no evidence, nobody on the right has induced much
evidence that there`s any kind of widespread fraud in the voting booth.
All you have to do to vote is be a citizen of the United States. There`s
even a movement on the extreme fringes of the right, Ben Carson put this in
his book, here`s a black –
LEBON: I don`t want to defend –
TOMASKY: Ben Carson put this in his book. He doesn`t understand why
people who don`t pay taxes have the right to vote. Well, you have the
right to vote –
MATTHEWS: That`s rather Hamiltonian.
TOMASKY: You have the right to vote –
MATTHEWS: You have a position. That`s fair enough. It may not be
right. It`s fair enough.
LEBON: No, no, we can agree to disagree.
MATTHEWS: I`m not doing that. I don`t do that here.
But you know what? It`s interesting just to get back to the stakes
here, because – I don`t like this, but the white vote – I don`t even like
talking identity, but we have to live with it. The white vote was against
Now, we wouldn`t have an African-American president if blacks couldn`t
vote. It does matter. It doesn`t solve all of America`s problems.
You have black members of Congress now all over the place, you have
50-some. You wouldn`t have them if blacks couldn`t vote. You wouldn`t
have a black caucus. There`s a lot of realities out there that are
different because of the right to vote. It comes down to ethnic
representation really in many cases.
BERNARD: But the nostalgia that we hear so many white Republicans and
others talk about, that they yearn for yesteryear, 50 years ago neither you
nor I would have been able to get a job other than being a housekeeper.
Not that anything is wrong with that, but if you wanted to do something
else, you could not do it. That`s where we`re going back.
I think there are members of the Republican Party who have decided
that it is much easier than to rather come up with a platform that will
attract African-Americans to the Republican Party, platform, just take away
the vote and we`ll move back the clock a hundred years.
MATTHEWS: Jack Kemp was on the direction, enterprise zones, ways of
developing neighborhoods that don`t have much going on. We just talked
about it, food deserts.
LEBON: Why isn`t Trader Joe`s or whole paycheck going into inner
cities? Well, because they don`t see – they`re can looking at desolate
buildings, they`re looking at people who are taking public transportation,
they think – these people can`t pay for it.
But you know what? If you brought back enterprise zones and you gave
people some motivation to clean up the neighborhood and bring those big
stores in, then you`re providing jobs and you`re providing other revenue
and other stores that come in.
MATTHEWS: The roundtable`s staying with us.
Up next, the U.S. Justice Department has issued a report on the death
of Michael Brown in Ferguson. We`re going to talk about that next.
This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: Coming up this Monday, it`s a “can`t miss” edition of
HARDBALL. We`ve got the great Kevin Spacey joining us. That`s must-see TV
for all of you “House of Cards” fans out there.
Kevin Spacey, Monday, at 7:00 right here on HARDBALL. And we`ll be
MATTHEWS: We`re back.
The U.S. Justice Department has issued a report on the death of
Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, and found serious problems with the
local police force in terms of relations with the African-American
community there. The officer in the incident had the right to believe he
was acting in self-defense.
I`m back with the roundtable, Michelle, and Cherylyn and Michael.
Let`s go with Cherylyn first.
I don`t know what you think. So, tell me what you think.
MATTHEWS: The whole result. The way that Eric Holder, the attorney
general, handled this. The report itself, it was sort of two parts,
systemic but also it didn`t just the judgment of the jury in the trial.
LEBON: Right. One of the things I think it highlighted is this I
think systemic problem in urban communities with these traffic violations.
I think this is really a problem. So –
MATTHEWS: Why do you think police officers, white, black, and brown,
stop young African-Americans kids for – why do they stop them?
LEBON: This is not necessarily young black men, it is everyone being
stopped for traffic infractions, and then they`ve got a $70, for example,
administrative fee, and these people in low income communities can`t pay
LEBON: Well, it can go up to $150 or $160. But, listen, if you don`t
pay those, then they issue arrest warrants.
MATTHEWS: That`s called a bench warrant. I know all about that.
That happens when you`re single. But here`s the question – are these
people stopped for DUI? Or are they stop for making wrong right turns?
Are they stopped for speeding or what?
LEBON: They`re being stopped for a variety of reasons.
BERNARD: Well, look, on paper, they`re being stopped for a variety of
reasons. If you look closely at the report, it is motivated by money, and
they`re stopped, and yet, it is because of money and it is because they are
BERNARD: One gentleman that they talked about in the report was, I
think either fell asleep in his car or was resting in his car, and the
police pulled him over and he said he was a pedophile, accused him of being
MATTHEWS: Did he have a boy in the car with him?
BERNARD: No, he was just near a park, but he was asleep in his car.
And the only earthly reason they could have pulled him over was because he
was just a black man sleeping and he was arrested.
There was an African-American woman who I also think was leaning on
her car. They talked about this in the report. She had a traffic
violation. She either paid part of the traffic violation –
MATTHEWS: Leaning on her car?
BERNARD: Just leaning on her own car.
MATTHEWS: What was the charge?
BERNARD: I don`t remember what the charge was, but she got a traffic
violation. She partially paid it and ended up spending six days in jail
because she didn`t pay it in full.
LEBON: Exactly. So, I mean, this is not just happening in Ferguson.
This is happening in a number of communities across the country where there
are black leaders.
MATTHEWS: Can I ask an honest question? Is there a predilection in
the black community for aggressive driving?
MATTHEWS: So, you think it`s pure racism. Explain.
BERNARD: I use the language of the report says that I`ll be milder
than normal, than I normally am on this topic.
The report says that there is nothing to indicate that in the city of
Ferguson, black people commit crimes more often than whites. Nevertheless,
you got a 67 percent minority community, 94 percent of the people who are
arrested are black, and the report said it is because of the fact that
people believe in stereotypes in Ferguson.
MATTHEWS: Did the cops get the stereo types from experience in crime
fighting or from racial background where they grew up? Are you saying they
went in to the police force as racist or they became that attitude
developed through crime practice?
BERNARD: I don`t think there`s a way to know. I think this is
indicative of the stereotypes of African-Americans that people all over the
MATTHEWS: Like cab drivers in New York don`t want to take you to
lower places. Black cab drivers don`t want to do it, third world drivers
don`t. So, it isn`t like they don`t like black people, they don`t like
taking people those – what they call them, fares, they don`t want those
fares. When they go out of those neighborhoods, there is no fare back from
those neighborhoods, you know? I`m just trying to find out what you think
are the motives for this bad behavior.
LEBON: Well – and here`s the other thing, I think increasing
revenue, right? I mean, these places want revenue.
MATTHEWS: Do you live in the District of Columbia?
MATTHEWS: Let me tell you, for years, they have made money by parking
BERNARD: But if you`re black in Ferguson, and the cops think that you
fit a stereotype –
MATTHEWS: There is no racial discrimination for a parking ticket.
MATTHEWS: All right. Well, thank you. These are serious issues.
I`m a big fan of Eric Holder, and I think the way he wrote this report
is something we all should agree. Thank you, Michelle Bernard, Cherylyn
Harley Lebon, and Michael Tomasky.
And I have something to say about Attorney General Eric Holder`s
report when we get back in a minute, and the death of Michael Brown and the
conduct of the Ferguson police. All that when we come back after this.
MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight with Attorney General Eric Holder`s
report on the death of Michael Brown and the conduct of the Ferguson police
I start with the conflicting eyewitness accounts that found their way
into the news story and that whole tragic episode. People were saying
things about what happened in those terrible seconds that spiraled into
folklore. People began holding their arms on the air, in public acts of
surrender, to make the point that a police officer killed a man in cold
blood, killed him just because he was angry or out of sense of racist
Well, the Justice Department report found no truth to this public
lore. Witnesses who had contributed to this picture of what happened could
not stand up under scrutiny. Or to put it another way, we`re willing to
stand up for the truth once they believe they were liberated to do so.
Look, this is all for the whole sorry mess, but even a story mess with
all of the bad atmospherics of attitude, experience and reputation, we have
to find the truth in the incident itself. And even when we find that there
is a systemic problem with the police officer, we still must come to a
reckoning about one instance of police conduct. What happens between
Michael Brown and Officer Darren Wilson?
I was taught in school by the judge that there are two kinds of
justice, both of which we need to honor. One is distributive justice, how
society treats its various communities. Do the police force of Ferguson,
Missouri, generally offer fare treatment to its African-American citizens?
And then there is community justice. The kind that governs the one-
on-one relationships we have with each other. Was there this kind of
justice, one-on-one justice, in the tragic encounter of Michael Brown and
Officer Darren Wilson? And offering split judgment here in hitting the
Ferguson police force for its day to day conduct but not condemning Darrell
Wilson, the U.S. Justice of Department of Eric Holder came as close to
human justice as we`re likely to get.
And that`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us.
“ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES” starts right now.
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