Hardball with Chris Matthews, Transcript 03/20/15
JONATHAN CAPEHART, GUEST HOST: Monica Lewinsky takes on the culture
Let`s play HARDBALL.
Good evening. I`m Jonathan Capehart, in for Chris Matthews.
“Let Me Start” tonight with the return of Monica Lewinsky. It`s been
17 years since she became the face of the biggest scandal in the world.
Today, she`s 41 and speaking out about what she calls a culture of abuse
and humiliation on line.
In a Ted talk yesterday, she described what happened to her as an
early example of this new kind of abuse. Quote, “Overnight, I went from
being a completely private figure to a publicly humiliated one worldwide.
I was patient zero of losing a personal reputation on a global scale almost
instantaneously. I was branded as a tramp, tart, slut, whore, bimbo, and
of course, `that woman.` I was known by many but actually known by few. I
get it. It was easy to forget `that woman` was dimensional and had a
She told the crowd, “A marketplace has emerged with public humiliation
is a commodity and shame is an industry. How is the money made? Clicks.
The more shame, the more clicks. The more clicks, the more advertising
dollars. Public humiliation as a blood sport has to stop. We need to
return to a long held value of compassion and empathy.”
And she delivered this hopeful message.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MONICA LEWINSKY, FORMER WHITE HOUSE INTERN: Anyone who is suffering
from shame and public humiliation needs to know one thing. You can survive
it. I know it`s hard. It may not be painless, quick or easy, but you can
insist on a different ending to your story.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAPEHART: I`m joined now by reporter Jessica Bennett, who spent the
last month shadowing Lewinsky for a profile in “The New York Times,” and
Michelle Goldberg, senior contributing writer for “The Nation.”
Jessica, I have to say I`m very impressed by the moves being made by
Monica Lewinsky of late. And as I said in the intro, you shadowed her for
a month. Why is she compelled to publicly talk about all this now?
JESSICA BENNETT, “NEW YORK TIMES”: Well, you know, that`s sort of the
question mark in the air. She declined to comment about the Clintons at
all for this piece, but she has said publicly that it just felt like it was
the right time.
You know, she`s been in hiding, virtually, for the past decade, and
she wanted to come forward. She didn`t want to hide her past any more.
And as far as current events are concerned, it`s actually pretty good
timing. You know, there`s a lot of discussion about cyber-bullying right
CAPEHART: A lot of discussion. You know, she talks a lot about the
marketplace for public humiliation and shame. What`s causing that? I
mean, I know she said it`s about clicks and advertising, but is there more
to it than that?
BENNETT: Well, you know, she has a story that everyone wants to know
about. And I actually think she did a pretty brilliant job of combining
her personal story with some of the juicy details that everyone still wants
to hear with this larger narrative.
I think some of this has to do with just the proliferation of social
media. It`s easier to shame and harass people on line these days. But at
the same time, had her story unfolded today, I think what we would have
seen would have been different. I think there would have been a way to
push back against this echo chamber and have room for different voices and
maybe voices of defense.
CAPEHART: You know, I want to go to something Ashley Judd said
earlier this week. She was on MSNBC talking to Thomas Roberts, and she was
talking about the abuse she received on line after posting a tweet about a
college basketball game.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ASHLEY JUDD, ACTOR: The way things happen on social media is so
abusive, and everyone needs to take personal responsibility…
THOMAS ROBERTS, MSNBC HOST: Sure.
JUDD: … for what they write and not allowing this misinterpretation
and shaming culture on social media to persist. And by the way, I`m
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAPEHART: You know, Ashley Judd there, Michelle, speaking out about
this – how has it gotten – how bad has it really gotten here?
MICHELLE GOLDBERG, “THE NATION”: Well, I mean, I think that, you
know, getting death threats, getting rape threats is part of the price of
admission for being on Twitter, particularly if you`re a woman. You know,
it`s overwhelming for a lot of people.
I had a piece in “The Washington Post” a couple of weeks ago talking
to many women writers who were thinking about quitting because they find it
so demoralizing, and you know, sometimes so frightening. And there`s
actually – it`s only very, very recently that we`ve seen anyone in law
enforcement, you know, take these threats – you know, threats that would
be clearly actionable if they were made by phone or by mail – take them
seriously when they`re made on line.
CAPEHART: And speaking of the piece you wrote for “The Washington
Post,” you wrote, “Feminists of the past faced angry critics, letters to
the editor and even protests. But the incessant violent sneering
sexualized hatred their successors absorb is harder to escape.”
What`s – why – I mean, women are thinking about not going into
writing because of all this. How can they combat this?
GOLDBERG: You know, I`m not sure that anybody can or should be
expected to combat it on their own, right? Often you`ll hear, Well, grow a
thicker skin, or just, Don`t let it get to you. But that`s kind of (ph)
not how human psychology works, right? Very few people can disregard the
insults and messages that they`re bombarded with all day, every day. We
kind of know who we are in the world by the way other people react to us,
in many cases.
And so the people who can begin to address this are the platforms,
right? I mean, this is – you know, Twitter is not natural. It`s a
technology, and there are technological decisions that – that make the –
that make hate spread faster. We know from studies that anger is the
emotion that ricochets around the network the fastest. And there are some
technological fixes, if the network is willing to institute them.
CAPEHART: You know, yesterday in her Ted talk, Lewinsky said one
story in particular motivated her, and that was the 2010 suicide of a gay
Rutgers student after his roommate set up a Webcam and shared a video of
him with another man. That student, Tyler Clementi, jumped from the George
Washington Bridge days later.
And according to Lewinsky, “Tyler`s tragic, senseless death was a
turning point for me. It served to recontextualize my experiences. I
began to look at the world of humiliation and bullying around me and see
something different. Every day on line, people, especially young people
who are not developmentally equipped to handle this, are so abused and
humiliated that they can`t imagine living to the next day.”
Jessica, I mean, it`s very powerful, what she – what Monica Lewinsky
is saying there. What – what is motivating her to focus on this issue? I
mean, It`s Tyler Clementi, but there`s more to it than that.
BENNETT: Right. Well, she has a really riveting story about how,
when this happened to Tyler Clementi in 2010, she was talking with her
mother. And her mothers was just gutted and devastated about this death,
and it was sad and it was tragic, but Monica couldn`t quite figure out why
she was so upset. And she realized that her mom was actually sort of
replacing her with Tyler. This is what she thought might have happened to
And she talks about how during that era, you know, her mother made her
shower with the door open. She sat by her bed every night as she was
getting ready to go to sleep. You know, she did consider suicide at times.
And so I think by trying to broaden this to the larger landscape, what
she hopes is that she can tell her story and show that she did, indeed,
survive and maybe serve as inspiration for other people who are facing
CAPEHART: I want to close out with this and ask you both this
question. If Monica were to happen today, how would the coverage be
different? Start with you, Michelle.
GOLDBERG: Well, I think that on the one hand, she would probably face
even more abuse, in that her past would be excavated. You know, everything
she`d ever written on line or off line would probably be up for grabs. But
at the same time, I think, as Jessica said earlier, there would be more
pushback. There`s a lot more awareness of slut-shaming. You know, some of
the things that people in the mainstream media – I`m thinking particularly
of Maureen Dowd, you know, or “The New York Post” – I just don`t think you
could get away with some of that today.
CAPEHART: And Jessica?
BENNETT: You know, we didn`t even have a language to talk about this
CAPEHART: Right. That`s true.
BENNETT: The term “slut-shaming” didn`t even come to the fore until
around 1999. So I think that, in a lot of ways, we`re more sophisticated
now. And you see this new generation of young women who are journalists
covering this issue and bloggers who are talking about it in a way that I
think is just a lot more enlightened than we were back then. Some of this
just progress in a lot of realms.
CAPEHART: Absolutely, progress in a whole lot of realms. Thank you
very much, Jessica Bennett and Michelle Goldberg.
Coming up – President Obama is pushing hard for that nuclear deal
with Iran, and he`s appealing directly to Iranians to get it done despite
loud opposition from the right both here and in Israel.
Plus, now that Congressman Aaron Schock is resigning, the Ethics
Committee can`t investigate whether his lavish spending broke the law, but
the feds can. And we learned today they`re looking into the case.
And it`s not just the candidates running for president who need to
watch what they say. With the rise of social media, candidates are now
catching heat for things their staffers say. Rick Perry`s the latest after
he hired a guy who said it isn`t God`s will to have a female president.
Finally, is a woman`s place on the 20? There`s a growing movement to
replace Andrew Jackson`s face on the $20 bill with a woman.
This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
CAPEHART: The select committee investigating Benghazi today formally
asked Hillary Clinton to turn over her private e-mail server. The
committee`s chairman, South Carolina Republican Trey Gowdy, is asking the
former secretary of state to turn that server over to the State
Department`s inspector general or a neutral third party.
In a letter, Gowdy wrote, “Though Secretary Clinton alone is
responsible for causing this issue, she alone does not get to determine its
outcome. We have no interest in Secretary Clinton`s personal e-mails, but
the American people have a clear right to the public records from her time
as secretary of state.”
Clinton has pledged that all her work-related e-mail will be made
public but says she deleted thousands of messages related to personal
matters and has said her e-mail – private e-mail server will remain
CAPEHART: Welcome back to HARDBALL. It`s crunch time for a nuclear
deal with Iran. The deadline for reaching a framework agreement is the end
of March. Negotiators are set to resume talks next week. But according to
“The Wall Street Journal,” diplomats say there are still a lot of issues
that haven`t been resolved, including when and how to lift international
Yesterday, President Obama posted a message to YouTube celebrating the
Persian new year, and he spoke directly to the Iranian people, urging them
to support a deal.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The days and weeks
ahead will be critical. Our negotiations have made progress, but gaps
remains. And there are people in both our countries and beyond who oppose
a diplomatic resolution.
My message to you, the people of Iran, is that together, we have to
speak up for the future we seek. Iran`s leaders have a choice between two
paths. If they cannot agree to a reasonable deal, they will keep Iran on
the path it`s on today, a path that has isolated Iran and the Iranian
people from so much of the world.
On the other hand, if Iran`s leaders can agree to a reasonable deal,
it can lead to a better path, the path of greater opportunities for the
And this moment may not come again soon. I believe that our nations
have a historic opportunity to resolve this issue peacefully, an
opportunity we should not miss.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAPEHART: Howard Fineman is global editorial director for the
HuffingtonPost and David Corn is Washington bureau chief for “Mother
Jones.” Both are MSNBC political analysts.
All right, guys, it`s crunch time, as we know, for an Iran deal.
What`s at stake, Howard?
HOWARD FINEMAN, HUFFINGTON POST MEDIA GROUP, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST:
Well, what`s at stake is some measure of good news out of the Middle East
at a time when the rest of it is being torn apart by sectarian violence, by
problems in Israel and – with the Palestinians. This would be some
measure of advance toward some form of piece and lessening the possibility
of Iran becoming a nuclear power.
It`s very, very important the president is right. He`s right to be
pursuing an agreement, but the details are what matter. And my
understanding is the big problem now is over, as you said, when and how and
under what conditions to start lifting some of those sanctions.
I think the big purpose of Bibi Netanyahu`s speech here the other day
substantively was to say, Look, don`t lift those sanctions right away. If
nothing else, keep all of the sanctions on until the very end. That`s not
going to happen, but the question is what will.
CAPEHART: How does – how does Prime Minister Netanyahu`s reelection
complicate things or change the terrain in terms of the negotiations,
considering he`s so dead set against them?
DAVID CORN, “MOTHER JONES,” MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, you know,
I was reading “The Tehran Times” the other day, not something I usually
FINEMAN: Name dropper.
CORN: … but I was looking at – but – you know, and it`s actually
affiliated with the government there, no big mystery about that. And they
were – you know, the commentary, the lead commentary in it was that
Netanyahu`s speech and his reelection, you know, may make it easier for the
United States and Iran (INAUDIBLE) not just the United States, the United
States and the other nations and Iran…
CORN: … to cut a deal. I think it`s because, like, they both are
pissed off by Netanyahu, that he`s – you know, he has really sort of, you
know, driven, you know, his enemies in some ways, or people he disagrees
with, in the case of the United States, together, made them more committed
so that, you know, no one wants him to take credit for blowing up this
And so far, you know, it`s pretty amazing what`s been accomplished to
date. On some of the key issues, there`s already been pretty good
settlement. The Iraq (sic) plutonium production, the Friedel (ph) uranium
gas issue and on the centrifuges at the Natanz site – all this stuff has
been worked out. And Iran so far has agreed to very strenuous inspection
regimes that go far beyond anything that was ever done with North Korea…
CORN: … or with Russia in terms of nuclear weapons.
CORN: So we`re down to this, you know, issue on how to lift the
sanctions, and it`s tough because France and the United States now have an
internal disagreement about what to do over that. And that has to be
worked out before…
CORN: … the negotiations – the negotiations…
CAPEHART: Before the…
CORN: … proceed.
CAPEHART: Well, right. At the end of March. But you know, Prime
Minister Netanyahu isn`t the only one who`s against a deal. On Wednesday,
Congressman Louie Gohmert articulated the alternative to a deal. And
according to Gohmert, it`s time to stop talking and start bombing.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
REP. LOUIE GOHMERT (R), TEXAS: We need to encourage this
administration to go take out Iran`s nuclear capability. I don`t think
that we ought to put Israel in the position of having to save both
themselves and the United States. I think it`s time to bomb Iran.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
CAPEHART: You know, some other conservatives have been a little more
subtle when talking about the need for a credible threat of military force.
Here`s what Senator Tom Cotton said last week on “MORNING JOE.”
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. TOM COTTON (R), ARKANSAS: Israel struck Iraq`s nuclear program
in 1981, and they didn`t reconstitute it. Israel struck Syria`s nuclear
reactor in 2007. They haven`t yet reconstituted it. Rogue regimes have a
way of getting the picture when there`s a credible threat of military force
on the table that we will not allow the world`s worst regimes to get the
world`s worst weapons.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAPEHART: So David and Howard, how – how much is this Republican
right opposition here in the United States going to be a factor there in
CORN: I don`t think they`re a factor in what`s going to come out
between the talks on Iran and the United States, Russia, China, France,
Germany and Britain. There may be a fight afterwards. This is not a
treaty. It`s not even an agreement. There`ll be some sort of memo of
understanding that the president is fully authorized to do without
So I think you`ll see a fight here, though, with Congress trying to
find a way to intervene. But I think, right now, both sides are kind of
ignoring, to certain extents, the bombast and rhetoric coming from Bibi
Netanyahu and his pals in the Republican, you know, caucus of Congress here
and just working on the really hard substance of getting this deal put
CAPEHART: Right. Now, Howard, let me ask you, after Bibi Netanyahu`s
win this week, the Israeli leader was celebrated as a real leader by many
on the right here. Implicit in that was criticism of our own leader.
Congressman Gohmert had this to say about President Obama.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
GOHMERT: Maybe he`ll start being more helpful to Israel instead of
slapping them around as an unwelcome visitor and start treating them like a
(END AUDIO CLIP)
CAPEHART: Meanwhile, Mike Huckabee accused President Obama of having
disdain for Israel.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MIKE HUCKABEE (R), FORMER ARKANSAS GOVERNOR: This administration in
general and this president in particular has an extraordinary disdain for
Israel in general and Benjamin Netanyahu in particular, and it`s just
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why does Obama have the extraordinary disdain for
Israel in general? Why?
HUCKABEE: It`s hard for me to understand that. The only thing I can
fathom is that he has such an extraordinary sense of identity with,
sympathy for many of the other Middle Eastern nations. I think he resents
the strength of Israel. I think he resents very much the strength of
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAPEHART: So, Howard, clearly, Mike Huckabee is on that Dinesh
CAPEHART: Does it seem to you like that folks on the right here in
the United States wish Bibi Netanyahu was their leader?
FINEMAN: Well, I think the problem that Netanyahu has politically in
the United States and around the world is this. I don`t think anybody
would begrudge Israelis their sense of concern about the rhetoric coming
out of Iran, about Iran`s talk of wanting to destroy Israel.
The Israelis have every right to be skeptical, and so do we. But
Netanyahu has undercut his broad bipartisan appeal by, number one, making
common cause with the hard right of the Republican Party, by turning
himself into a wedge issue here in the United States to attempt to divide
the Democratic Party, and by saying in the last couple of days of the
election that he would reject the idea of a two-state solution in Israel
and Palestine, and also raising alarms about the number of Arab – Israeli
Arab voters who were going to take part in the election.
Those kinds of things get in the way of the Israelis being heard
seriously for their objections about any possible deal with Iran. So, what
Netanyahu has done politically in the United States and I think around the
world is to undercut his own political legitimacy in making those
And the people who are for the deal are perfectly willing to confuse
the two. They`re really somewhat separate issues about what you do with
the Palestinians and what you do in internal Israeli politics and what you
do about Iran.
FINEMAN: But Netanyahu has hopelessly, and to Israel`s detriment,
confused the two.
CORN: And the interesting thing, Jonathan, is this whole talking that
comes out about Obama disdaining Israel at large and Mike Huckabee
essentially accusing him of being a secret Muslim is sort of distanced from
If you go to Israel itself, Netanyahu only got a quarter of the vote.
There`s a lot of people there who hold him, his government and his view on
these issues in disdain as well. So to equate President Obama`s opposition
to Netanyahu`s approach to the peace process, to Netanyahu`s obvious
attempts to sabotage the Iranian talks, at least politically here, with
disdain for all of Israel is really perfidious.
And it shows that once again they`re trying to make Obama seem not
CORN: The other, something else.
CAPEHART: The other.
CORN: And that`s not the case.
CAPEHART: And if anything, the disdain is between the two leaders,
not between the two countries.
But, anyway, “The New York Times” wrote today that Bibi`s win this
week creates a real complication for, guess who, Hillary Clinton.
CAPEHART: According to “The Times,” “Clinton is now likely to be
under increased pressure from her own party to speak up against a
government that is openly hostile to Mr. Obama, but if she criticizes
Israel, she risks prompting an influential segment of more conservative
Jewish Democrats to withhold their support from her presidential campaign
or even to defect to a Republican candidate in 2016.”
Do you guys buy this?
FINEMAN: Well, yes, this is exactly – yes. And I think it`s exactly
– that`s what a wedge issue is.
It`s something you use to divide the other party. And the Republican
conservative strategists, in which I include the U.S. – the Israeli
ambassador to the United States, Ron Dermer, a very shrewd guy and a very
hardball politician trained in America, they`re using this idea of undying
and narrow support for Israel as a way to divide the Democratic Party, if
they can, not only get Jewish voters in the Republican column, but to
divide the Democrats.
And I think it`s going to have an effect and it`s something Hillary in
fact is going to have to deal with.
CORN: At the same time, though, this is also causing problems within
the Jewish community regarding its relationship to Netanyahu and Israel.
So there are wedges and wedges.
CAPEHART: A lot of wedges. Thank you, Howard Fineman and David Corn.
Thanks very much.
FINEMAN: Thank you.
CORN: Thanks, Jonathan.
CAPEHART: Up next: new information tonight about the investigation
into Aaron Schock of Illinois.
This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
CAPEHART: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
It`s been a tough week for Illinois Congressman Aaron Schock. The 33-
year-old rising star in the Republican Party announced on Tuesday in a
surprising twist of events that he would resign from Congress on March 31
over his questionable spending, from office decor, mileage reimbursements
and airplane flights.
But Schock`s legal troubles appear to be just beginning. NBC News
confirmed earlier today that federal law enforcement officials are
investigating the four-term congressman over campaign finance and tax
issues. The IRS and federal prosecutors are all looking into the
allegations that Schock improperly accounted for travel expenses and
contributions from political donors.
Now, the congressman`s father, Dr. Richard Schock, spoke candidly to
reporters outside his home in Illinois on Wednesday about his son`s growing
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RICHARD SCHOCK, FATHER OF CONGRESSMAN AARON SCHOCK: I know it`s a
law. So, yes, he`s broke the law. If they`re going to convict him on
paperwork, they`re going to convict him. And that`s their privilege.
It`s – if it`s the law and he broke the law and they want to convict
him on that, fine. But he has done a lot of good in his life. Ten years
from now, whatever he`s doing, he will be successful at. I will promise
you that. Two years from now, he will be successful, because – if he`s
not in jail.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAPEHART: Oh, boy.
For more on this story, I`m joined by Lynn Sweet of “The Chicago Sun-
Times,” who has been breaking news on this story. And Ken Vogel is chief
investigative reporter for Politico.
So, Lynn, what do you think about the details of a federal
investigation? Do you see jail time?
LYNN SWEET, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, “THE CHICAGO SUN-TIMES”: Well, I
think that`s getting ahead of ourselves as to speculate about prison or
I think that what he has is some very serious potential criminal
charges potentially looming. And when you talk about, you know, what the
sanction is on all this, a lot depends if there`s a plea agreement or not,
or if there`s a trial. But I don`t want to get ahead of ourselves, because
I think he`s in enough trouble right now as is without figuring out what
the sanction`s going to be, Jonathan.
And this is a very serious inquiry. Subpoenas have been delivered to
a lot of people who are familiar with his campaign and official spending.
FBI agents who are based in Springfield, Illinois, have been in Washington
this week. They have been wanting to talk to people. So I think he has an
enormous legal problem right now, and there will be a grand jury in
Springfield and very soon they will start hearing testimony.
Well, you know, Ken, one of the reasons why I guess we`re talking
about jail time is because his own father brought it up.
KENNETH VOGEL, POLITICO: Thanks, dad.
CAPEHART: Yes, thanks, dad, in that doorstep interview. What do you
make of those comments from his father?
VOGEL: Yes, a little bizarre. Certainly not helpful for the son if
he`s potentially mounting a defense here if charges are brought.
But you know what? There`s something to it, this idea that like
either he`s going be in jail or he`s going to be successful. This is a
really hard-charging dude. He was working with a ticket brokerage when he
was in middle school. He was elected to the school board when he was 19.
He was doing real estate deals when he was in college.
He was elected to Congress at a young age. So he really pushed the
envelope. He pushed the envelope on his spending when he was in office in
an effort to sort of build himself up as a personality and as a fund-
raiser. And it stands to reason that this is sort of inherent to some
extent in his personality and that whatever he does do next, he will sort
of charge at it in the same way that we have seen throughout his life.
CAPEHART: Well, when you look at the stories about the spending and
the mileage and the airplanes and everything, and we now know that all
these things ran against rules and laws, it makes you wonder, who was
minding the store? Why wasn`t anyone minding the store, Lynn?
SWEET: Well, in this case, he had a very weak staff. And,
oftentimes, it is a chief of staff who will go to a member and say, you
can`t do this. That`s part of the brief of being a chief of staff, is to
be able to make sure things are reported correctly and help make sure that
everybody on the staff knows about the ethics rules.
There`s supposed to be ethics training. Not everybody may have been
in compliance. We know that there was sloppy paperwork in how he reported
things on the campaign side. And I guess so people who are listening know,
there`s allegations concerning how he misused taxpayer money and campaign
Far more serious is any allegation dealing with taxpayer money,
because that has to do with conversion of taxpayer money to public use. I
think a lot of the campaign laws, as Ken knows and has done so much
reporting on, they`re a little looser. But on some of these things, when
it comes time, if federal prosecutors want to have a long list of
particulars against you, everything can be counted up.
VOGEL: You know, Lynn and Jonathan, it is that the campaign laws sort
of allow to have some ambiguity as to how you can spend this stuff, but
even as some of my colleagues reported in a story about the mileage
reimbursements, there`s not a whole lot of backstop on any of this stuff.
And so while there may be record-keeping problems and there may be
laxness in some of the enforcement, what we discovered is that,
particularly on the mileage thing, no one is really watching this stuff.
So unless you go through the particularly involved process of filing a
Freedom of Information Act request to a DMV in a state to check how many
miles were on the odometer of a car, you`re not going to be able to compare
these to things.
And no one is really doing it. So there is – I think it highlights
the degree to which some of this stuff is self-enforcing.
CAPEHART: Lynn, yes.
SWEET: Well, and also – and, again, we have the same information and
filed a Freedom of Information Act, too.
But, even without that, what this episode shows is that each member
gets a little more than a million dollars to run his or her office. And,
basically, there`s no audit. There`s very little compliance. If you put
in – most of us, if we have expense accounts, there might be some
oversight. You have a supervisor sign off on it.
In the end, Aaron Schock put in for expenses for which only he, as the
boss – there is no one over him. I`m not saying there has to be, but
Jonathan, when you asked about staffing before, usually, with a strong,
experienced chief of staff, they can help enforce doing the right thing
But the system is set up in a way that is unlike anything that really
exists in the private world.
CAPEHART: And so, as a result, a great fund-raiser and a political
talent, former rising star in the GOP, he`s now resigned his seat.
Thank you, Lynn Sweet and Ken Vogel.
SWEET: Hey, thank you so much.
VOGEL: Thanks, Jonathan.
CAPEHART: Up next: What happens when campaign staffers say the
You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MILISSA REHBERGER, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: I`m Milissa Rehberger.
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Britain`s Prince Charles and his wife, Camilla, are in Kentucky, where
they`re spending their final day of their U.S. tour.
It is a snowy first day of spring in the Northeast, where winter
weather has made travel difficult. More than 1,000 flights have been
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And an experimental Alzheimer`s drug from biotech firm Biogen Idec has
performed well in an early study, raising hopes for a treatment. The
medication slowed cognitive decline more aggressively than expected – back
CAPEHART: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
As the 2016 campaign heats up, it`s not just candidates who have
targets on their backs. Campaign staffers are now finding that the things
they say can and will be used against them and the candidates they work
Politico writes today: “The crosshairs are no longer trained solely on
the candidates themselves. Staffers are now also considered fair game for
opposition research hits. And campaigns are struggling to react to a world
in which the candidate isn`t always the focal point for attacks.”
There have been several casualties of this new form of campaign
warfare. Just this week, Republican strategist Liz Mair resigned her post
48 hours after starting her job leading social media and online
communications for Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker`s political action
committee after old tweets she wrote resurfaced and offended some Iowa GOP
officials. Mair tweeted in January, “The sooner remove Iowa`s front-
running status, the better off American politics and policy will be.”
Last month, Jeb Bush`s new chief technology officer Ethan Czahor
resigned under similar circumstances when it was discovered he was deleting
old tweets he had written referring to women as, quote, “sluts”.
And late last night, Texas Governor Rick Perry disavowed comments made
about women four years ago by a news staffer Perry hired just 24 hours
earlier. The aide, Jamie Johnson, questioned whether a woman should be
president in a 2011 e-mail leaked to the “Des Moines Register,” saying,
quote, “Is it God`s highest desire, that is, his biblically expressed will,
to have a woman ruled the institutions of the family, the church and the
With attack politics bound to only get worse, are political aides fair
Joining the roundtable tonight, Radhika Jones of “Time Magazine”, Josh
Barro of “The New York Times”, and Sabrina Siddiqui is with “The Guardian”.
So, Sabrina, I`m going to start with you. Are political staffers fair
SABRINA SIDDIQUI, THE GUARDIAN: I think whether people believe that
they should be fair game or not, the reality is that they are. And there
needs to be a more thorough vetting process on the part of these campaigns
because it`s really easy to unearth some of these tweets. Liz Mair`s tweet
was in January. It was just two months ago. So, it wouldn`t have taken
much more than five or ten minutes possibly to uncover that.
And some of these posts that are coming on Facebook and what are,
quote/unquote, “private social media accounts”, at the end of the day, if
you`re going to work for a high profile candidate nothing is private and
those views will probably be ascribed to your boss.
CAPEHART: Should they be fair game, Josh?
JOSH BARRO, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Well, it depends what the staffers do.
I mean, I think Liz Mair`s tweets should have fallen into the “reasonable
people can disagree” box.
CAPEHART: Right. That`s what I was thinking.
BARRO: And, you know, Scott Walker can say, well, you know, I think
the Iowa caucus is wonderful because he`s someone trying to win the Iowa
caucus. But it depends on what the staffer did and what they said. If you
had, say, a white supremacist staffer, you wouldn`t go out and say, well,
I`m not a white supremacist, my policy is anti-supremacist, then I expect
my staffer to fall in line.
The question is, there`s this – if we have the spectrum that goes
from like what order the nominating process ought to go in to white
supremacy, and then you have things in the middle, you want to figure out,
you know, what are the things where the candidate can say, I disagree with
my staffer, but that`s just a reasonable disagreement.
CAPEHART: Radhika, are candidates guilty by association? Is that
RADHIKA JONES, TIME MAGAZINE: I don`t know if they should be guilty
by association. But I think that in advance, when they`re doing the
hiring, they have to figure out am I willing to stand by this person and as
Sabrina says, like in the case of Liz Mair, those tweets are easily
findable. There`s not a lot of really private material online. And so, I
think if a candidate is hiring a staffer who is going to be public facing
in particular, but who also is going to be with them for a long period of
time, it`s up to the candidate to decide, can I stand by this person and
this person`s views?
CAPEHART: I mean, I just have to say Liz Mair, I mean, like you said,
we`re just talking politics.
SIDDIQUI: That to me seemed to be more like an orchestrated attack
that was personal probably on the part of an opposing Republican campaign
even though she suggested that it might have been Democrats. I also think
people want to start thinking about the implications if you do find
material that`s unflattering because it`s a distraction from the actual
campaign that you`re running. That`s why it`s important to not have
unnecessary headlines about allegedly racist or sexist staffers when you`re
trying to pitch a message.
BARRO: But the thing, though, is that, you know, people have much
bigger digital foot prints than they used to. And if we keep the same
standards about what`s disqualifying, more and more people are going to get
disqualified because everybody has said something publicly that somebody
can complain about. So, yes –
BARRO: – there are still things that staffers can say that ought to
be disqualifying, but we really need to think about how stringent do we
want those standards to be? And I think Jeb Bush has shown that you can
have staffers that people complain about and say, OK, well, you don`t like
this staffer, he has Jim Baker advising him. A lot of Republicans think
that Jim Baker is not hawkish enough on various aspects of foreign policy,
he has an openly gay communications director, or likely will if he launches
CAPEHART: You mean Jeb Bush, not Jim Baker.
BARRO: Jeb Bush, right. And so, he will take some flack for that but
that`s something he`s decided he`s going to do. Not everything that a
staffer does that somebody complains about is necessarily a reason that you
have to fire that staffer. I think Scott Walker made an error by
overreacting here. And I think that – you know, I think Jeb is hopefully
trying to chart that course where you can say well reasonable people will
CAPEHART: Well, speaking of the rules of the game, both Democratic
and Republican operatives agree that the rules of campaign warfare have
changed. Democratic strategist Tad Divine told “Politico”, “There`s more
awareness of the fact that if you`re going to hire somebody on the payroll
of a campaign, that person needs to be subjected to some kind of scrutiny.”
And Republican strategist Ron Kaufman said, people are getting caught
saying things in the past in their lives when maybe the rules were a little
bit different. That`s just the way it is.”
That`s just the way it is.
JONES: This is going to look very different a generation from now
when most campaign hires are digital natives who have lived their entire
CAPEHART: Uh-huh. Well, speaking of 25 years from now, I`m just
trying to wrap my head around this Meerkat thing.
JONES: Oh, gosh.
CAPEHART: Where you can live do whatever to Twitter and then it
SIDDIQUI: That`s sort of like a Snapchat for Twitter. Based on my
limited understanding, I`m having trouble. And I have grown up in the
digital world, keeping up with every new tool. But there are politicians
are using more of these innovative technologies.
CAPEHART: Is this going to make campaigning – I focus on Meerkat
because I`m sort of irritated by it. But is it going to make politics that
much uglier, that much more unwieldy?
BARRO: So this has non-pornographic users? People do this with their
BARRO: I don`t know. I mean, we`ve already got politicians using
Vine and we had – which House committee was it put out the memes today
about how mad they are about the president`s executive action on
immigration. They had all the GIFs acting surprised that the president
went around Congress.
BARRO: I don`t know. I mean – I don`t know how much this stuff
CAPEHART: Well, Sabrina, I got to stop you there. But we`re coming
back. The roundtable is staying with us.
And up next, the growing movement to put a woman`s face on the $20
This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
CAPEHART: As we mentioned earlier this week, Chris has been in Japan
as a guest of Ambassador Caroline Kennedy and the John F. Kennedy Library
Foundation for an international symposium honoring President Kennedy.
Chris joined President Bill Clinton, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe,
and others at the Waseda University in Tokyo to celebrate President
Kennedy`s accomplishments and his commitment to public service, global
citizenship and diplomacy.
Chris will be here, right back here next week.
And we`ll be right back after this.
CAPEHART: We`re back with our roundtable.
So, when it comes to cash money, it may be all about the Benjamins.
But take a look inside your wallet. And if you actually do have paper
money in there, what`s missing? A woman.
The group Women on the 20 wants to lose Andrew Jackson from the $20
bill and put one of 15 notable American women by 2020 to commemorate the
100th anniversary of a women`s right to vote.
So, let`s have our own straw poll here and ask Radhika, Josh and
Sabrina, which women they would pick to replace Old Hickory. Who would you
get, who would get your vote, Radhika?
JONES: First, I just want to say in honor of Andrew Jackson, that he
has great presidential hair, we`re learning at it on the $20. However, I
love this idea and I will vote for Harriet Tubman, hero of the abolitionist
movement, born a slave, rescued more than 300 people from the south during
the civil war, became a union spy, and a scout, and she retired
unbelievably with a pension of $20 a month. So, it`s perfect.
CAPEHART: Oh, wow. That`s great.
Josh, who replaces Andrew Jackson on your $20 bill?
BARRO: Well, from the list that we were given, I pick Rosa Parks who
I think had out of this list of 15 women, probably the biggest impact on
the direction of American history. But I would note that from – when you
look at who`s on money now, there is a strong bias toward figures from
government in politics, and I would love to see more people, men and women,
who make contributions in business or in the arts. I think we could put
CAPEHART: We`re getting there. We`re going to open it up, and I know
your other one, which I think is fantastic.
CAPEHART: But let`s go to you, Sabrina. Who do you want to put on
the $20 bill?
SIDDIQUI: Well, now, we have a tie because I also picked Rosa Parks.
I just think we were having this discussion right now at this moment about
civil rights, especially with the Supreme Court`s ruling on the voting
rights act last year, and anniversary for Selma, and I think that, you
know, having a civil rights icon like Rosa Parks, it sends a strong message
and we have honored her in so many other different ways Presidential Medal
of Freedom, congressional gold medal. There`s a statue now in Cngress. I
feel like this is the obvious next step that could be taken.
CAPEHART: Well, let`s put that $20 bill back up because I also said
Rosa Parks for all of the reasons you both articulate.
Now, let`s open it up to other people. You said before I cut you off,
BARRO: Georgia O`Keeffe.
CAPEHART: Who else?
BARRO: My other nominee was Estee Lauder, which probably sounds like
a strange option. But she`s one of the great American entrepreneurs of the
20th century. And, you know, so much of what makes America great is great
business ideas that come from this country. So, I think it would be really
I also like, people assume from that name she was French. She was
just pretending to be French, and I don`t think there`s anything more
CAPEHART: I was going to say, the very American thing.
SIDDIQUI: Well, rather than open up, I just want to make a point that
it seems like this is a long, delayed move. Actually, the president could
be within his own authority, and, you know, it is such a strong message I
think to children when we teach them about money, hand them their
allowance, all of the examples that they have are just men. And it`s so –
I feel like this is one very subtle way to honor the contributions that
women have made to this country. And it is sending a message to kids who
are, you know, getting their pocket money, their allowances, that there`s
no woman for them to look up to who`s been significant enough in our
CAPEHART: Yes, I had two women in my list who were from culture.
Marian Anderson, the opera singer who was denied entry to the DAR, to
Constitution Hall. So, Eleanor Roosevelt said, well, I`m going to – why
don`t you sing in front of the Lincoln Memorial.
And another opera singer, Jesse Norman, who is sort of our modern day
sort of operative treasure. But those are my two.
Wouldn`t you have any of the air, off the air?
JONES: Yes, Maya Angelo, great American voice, poet, writer, dancer,
incredibly inspiring figure to millions of people around the world.
CAPEHART: So, we`re having this discussion about putting a woman on
American money, on the $20 bill, but who carries cash anymore? Are we a
little late? A little late on this?
SIDDIQUI: You`d be surprised the number of cash only places I have
encountered here in New York. But it`s not just about how many people are
carrying cash, but the message you`re sending, which is the need to
acknowledge all of the contributions that would have made to this country
and this very, you know (INAUDIBLE)
BARRO: Is there a way to put a woman on Bitcoin?
BARRO: It does seem kind of funny that we`re putting woman on
currency at the time like people are giving currency.
JONES: But it`s symbolic and as Sabrina says, symbols matter.
CAPEHART: OK. But we have – it`s not like we haven`t had women on
money. We have Susan B. Anthony dollar, it`s a coin. Sacagawea is a coin.
Is it maybe –
BARRO: All these dollar coins we couldn`t get any –
CAPEHART: Was it because they`re coins and not the actual paper?
BARRO: Well, the other thing is, when I think about a woman on money,
it`s the queen.
CAPEHART: Right, Queen Elizabeth.
BARRO: You know, English or Canadian currency. And that`s what I
most associate with money. But I think it would be pretty anti-American to
put the queen of England on our money.
CAPEHART: I think it –
SIDDIQUI: To say the least.
CAPEHART: Thank you, Sabrina Siddiqui, Josh Barro, and Radhika Jones.
We`ll be back after this.
CAPEHART: That`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us. Chris
Matthews will be back on Monday.
“ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES” starts right now.
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