Hardball With Chris Matthews, Transcript 12/8/2016
Date: December 8, 2016
Guest: Glenn Thrush, John Feehery, April Ryan, Kellyanne Conway, Scott
CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: The right stuff.
Let`s play HARDBALL.
Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Washington.
Well, we`re getting a clearer picture of what the Trump presidency will
look like, both in terms of the people he`s picked to be in his cabinet and
the actions he`s taken since winning the election.
When it comes to the government he`s forming, the picture emerging is of a
traditional conservative one. He picked Jeff Sessions to be attorney
general, former Goldman Sachs banker Steve Mnuchin to be Treasury
secretary, retired general James “mad dog” Mattis to run the Defense
Department, avowed “Obama care” critic Tom Price to head the Health and
Human Services administration (sic), retired general John Kelly to head the
Department of Homeland Security, Dr. Ben Carson to lead the Department of
Housing and Urban Development, school voucher proponent Betsy DeVos to head
the Education Department, billionaire Wilbur Ross to head Commerce, Elaine
Chao at the Transportation Department.
And just today, he announced his pick for labor secretary, former fast food
executive Andy Puzder. Mike Pompeo is going to lead the CIA. South
Carolina governor Nikki Haley`s going to be at the United Nations. His
choice to head the EPA is someone who has sued the agency, is suing it,
Scott Pruitt. Another retired general, Mike Flynn, will be his national
security adviser. And wrestling executive Linda McMahon will be the head
of the Small Business Administration.
Still undecided, U.S. secretary of state, of course, and also Interior and
Meanwhile, Trump`s penchant to use the bully pulpit continued yesterday
with a stinging Twitter rebuke of a local union leader out in Indiana who
criticized Trump`s numbers on how many Carrier jobs were saved. Here was
Chuck Jones, by the way, just yesterday, the labor leader.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHUCK JONES, UNITED STEELWORKERS 1999 PRES.: I appreciate Mr. Trump
getting involved and saving as many people`s livelihoods as he did. So I
don`t think that can go without being said. I just wish that he`d have had
the numbers down.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, minutes later, Donald Trump took to Twitter himself.
Quote, “Chuck Jones, who is president of the United Steelworkers 1999, has
done a terrible job representing workers. No wonder companies flee
country.” And then he went, “And if United Steelworkers 1999 was any good,
they would have kept those jobs in Indiana. Spend more time working, less
time talking. Reduce dues!”
What does this latest back and forth tell us about the Trump presidency?
Joining me now, Trump`s campaign manager and senior adviser to the Trump
transition, Kellyanne Conway.
By the way, Kellyanne, I don`t think you hear much of this, but in the
feminist world, we talk about it a lot, me and my senior executive
producers and others. And that is, you`re the first woman to win, actually
to break the glass ceiling and manage a successful winning presidential
campaign. So hurrah, if you haven`t heard that before.
KELLYANNE CONWAY, TRUMP TRANSITION SENIOR ADVISER: Thank you, Chris. I
appreciate that. You`ve got other people in print and on your network
criticizing me because yesterday I dared say I may not go into the West
Wing because my children are 12, 12, 8, and 7, and all these childless
people`s heads were on fire. So I appreciate you saying that.
MATTHEWS: Well, let`s talk about your boss, your – well, once and future,
perhaps, Donald Trump. Why does he – I understand the old Pat Buchanan
rule – it was actually Dick Nixon`s rule, President Nixon`s – was always
attack up. Always go after other big guys. (INAUDIBLE) like Nixon attack
– you know, Johnson made the mistake of attacking Nixon and got Nixon
basically nominated by doing it back in `66. Nixon was the nominee by `68.
Why does Donald Trump, who`s a big guy, attack this little labor leader out
CONWAY: He`s just correcting the record.
MATTHEWS: Ha! He`s saying the guy`s a joke!
MATTHEWS: OK, go ahead.
CONWAY: Well, he is. Look, with the Steelworkers, like the coal miners,
when Hillary Clinton promised that she would put the coal industry out of
business, mark my word, it was a big inflection point in the campaign
because the Steelworkers heard that, the pipe fitters heard that, the guys
in the unions where you and I grew up together, Chris, heard that. And it
was a very important part of his centerpiece, really, of his campaign,
helped him win states like Pennsylvania, Ohio, Iowa, Wisconsin, Michigan.
And he`s just setting the record straight. You know, people feel like with
Donald Trump, they have license to say whatever the heck they want about
this guy with no consequences, with no blowback. The guy has a right to
defend himself. And he rarely draws first blood. It`s when he is
attacked, he likes to set the record straight.
MATTHEWS: OK, let me ask you about this real situation – he`s out there
at Ohio State University, the Ohio State University tonight, part of the
victory tour. But of course, there was a – they were victimized out there
by a terror attack. What is his latest position on dealing with Islamic
terrorism? I know the phrase is something that he`s familiar with and
likes to use, and I have no problem with that.
The question is, how do you deal with people that come into this country,
are born in this country, who somehow find themselves radicalized here by
al Maliki (sic) or somebody on social media – somehow they become
radicalized, when they weren`t – when their parents came here or when they
came here. How do you catch them in the act, then?
CONWAY: Well, and that`s what happened in Orlando, really. You have the
lone wolf terrorism – you have the lone wolf program that I don`t think is
as good as it could be or Omar Mateen would have been stopped. So you have
You have the San Bernardino situation, where they come in, otherwise –
newly, not born here, and I guess the woman came in through a fiancee visa,
I believe it was, a K1 visa. So there`s all different types of terrorism
here and abroad where he`s going to look at that very clearly.
He had put out probably four or five months ago now, Chris, his speech on
defeating radical Islamic terrorism. It`s there for anybody to see. They
can pull it up tonight, four or five points on how to do that. It also
includes better vetting from countries that have a known history of
exporting and harboring and training terrorists.
And look, the country responded to that. I think security and his
toughness on this was a big centerpiece of his win.
MATTHEWS: But what do you do about people who are American as you and me,
they grow up, maybe their parents came from somewhere in Mideast, but they
went to school, got along with everybody, and things went wrong for them in
life, in some cases, they became – they felt like misfits in this country,
they got angry and they did terrible things. They committed terrorism.
How do you stop that, or is that just an unanswerable question?
CONWAY: Well, part of it`s unanswerable…
MATTHEWS: Like in Ohio State – like that area, where he`s going to
CONWAY: Well, that`s right. But part of it is really to always have that
proper balance between our civil liberties and the need for the government
to have surveillance, where they have a reason to be – to surveilling
individuals. And so that`s always going to be a delicate balance. It`s
not going to be perfect. But I think most people can agree it hasn`t been
– it`s been far from perfect over the last several years.
MATTHEWS: Well, I wonder if it can be…
CONWAY: It really hasn`t worked.
MATTHEWS: … in a free society.
CONWAY: And actually – well, and it actually hasn`t gone well in Europe,
either. I mean, look what`s happened there.
The idea that President Obama referred to ISIS as contained and no longer
advancing and the JV team shortly before they enacted some of their
murderous savagery, the idea that Hillary Clinton referred to them in her
convention speech in our Philadelphia, Chris, as, quote, “our determined
enemies.” Why not just call them what they are, murderers, savages. You
know, she called – she referred to pro-life Republicans as terrorists.
She doesn`t refer to the terrorists as terrorists. No wonder she lost.
MATTHEWS: OK, well, you got that shot in there. Fair enough. Let me ask
you about Romney. I have a feeling Romney`s not going to get it. I still
have a feeling that Rudy Giuliani`s going to get it. Correct me if I`m
CONWAY: I can`t say. That`s Donald Trump`s decision. I will respect the
president-elect`s decision either way.
I can tell you the field has really expanded. And look, for me, it was
never Rudy versus Romney. I don`t know why people were making it that kind
of cage match. I know it`s great on TV and it`s great because they`re two
big personalities who had different levels of loyalty to Donald Trump, the
MATTHEWS: I`d say!
CONWAY: But the fact is, he`s really expanded the search. He`s really…
MATTHEWS: Well, “different levels of loyalty” – what level of loyalty
would you ascribe to Mitt Romney? He tried to kill the guy! He devoted –
it was like a vendetta. It was like a crusade, if you will, to get rid of
Trump! And now Trump`s considering him to be his top cabinet member? Is
that for real?
CONWAY: Well, we know where I come down on this, but my opinion doesn`t
matter, Donald Trump`s opinion matters. And I`ve been very passionate
about this privately and somewhat publicly.
But here`s the thing. The search has expanded. You know other people have
been coming in to Trump Tower to interview for this position…
MATTHEWS: Yes, I know.
CONWAY: … General Petraeus, Senator Corker, who would probably face
fairly easy confirmation in the Senate, who`s the head of the Foreign
Relations Committee. You have Alan Mulally here today. You had Rex
Tillerson here on Tuesday.
So you`ve got captains of industry, you have generals, you have former
governors, mayors. And I like the fact that this field expanded because
it`s an incredibly important position, Chris. I mean, the one thing Donald
Trump is doing is he`s not just rewarding donors and personal friends with
cabinet positions. These are people who are qualified to do the job. And
that has to apply to secretary of state.
MATTHEWS: Well, I definitely have to give credit to a guy who brought back
Ford Motor Company. It`s amazing what Mulally did out there.
Anyway, Trump`s pick to head the labor department is kind of curious,
Andrew Puzder, the CEO of several major food chains. In the past, Puzder
has argued against raising the minimum wage. Fair enough, that`s a
Republican position. But he`s also championed the use of machines to
replace human workers at his restaurants.
He said earlier this year, quote, “Machines are always polite. They always
upsell,” whatever that means. “They never take a vacation. They never
show up late. There`s never a slip and fall or an age, sex or race
discrimination case. “
Well, excuse me, of course there isn`t. They`re not human beings. They
don`t have the rights of citizens under the law! That doesn`t sound like a
friend of the working guy or the working woman to me, Kellyanne.
CONWAY: Oh, he is, indeed! The man has created thousands and thousands of
jobs, as you know. He`s created enormous wealth for his…
MATTHEWS: For robots?
CONWAY: No, he`s created enormous wealth for his employees. He`s just –
I think that comment is based on the realities of the workplace in some
instances, Chris. But nobody can deny this man is in touch with how to
create jobs, the importance of labor…
CONWAY: … and management roles and responsibilities. I think he`s a
MATTHEWS: OK. We`re going to talk later about this artificial
intelligence thing because I don`t like going through LaGuardia Airport –
which I do like LaGuardia Airport. I like – I don`t like going through it
and seeing every single job that used to be serving you a donut or a coffee
replaced by a little computer thing. And you know what I`m talking about.
CONWAY: I get it.
MATTHEWS: It`s very troubling. Anyway, after-
CONWAY: It`s also very embarrassing when I – it`s also very embarrassing
when you can`t figure out how to do it.
MATTHEWS: Yes, you`ve got to figure out how to get a – and some guy comes
over with a hamburger and – anyway, after the sharp exchange you had with
Clinton communications director Jennifer Palmieri, primarily from her end,
at that Harvard forum last week, Palmieri wrote an op-ed in “The Washington
She said, among other things, “I don`t know whether the Trump campaign
needed to give a platform to white supremacists to win, but the campaign
clearly did and it had the effect of empowering the white nationalist
Your – I think you call it in law your surrebuttal, your final rebuttal to
the op-ed piece, which is a rebuttal to what you and to what your campaign
did. Is this going to end?
CONWAY: Ask Jen Palmieri that. She`s writing an op-ed, somebody else in
“The Washington Post” today has a scathing headline about me, which is not
true bit did lead to some death threats today, so that will be on –
that`ll be on their doorstep.
The fact is that this campaign ran a race where we reached into those
working class voters who felt like they were the forgotten man or forgotten
woman. They were the base of our support.
We also managed what could have been bigger deficits among women, since we
were running against the first female president. We figured out a way to
reach women in our messaging. Otherwise, how in the world do you explain
Hillary Clinton only getting about 55, 56 percent among women and not 60,
65 percent, Chris, where she would have won.
We ran the tables among union households, among rural voters. We did much
better with white working – excuse me white women, in which Hillary
Clinton is in that demographic, than people expected, 53 percent of them.
We managed our – we managed to win voters over the age of 55, I believe,
55 to 64, 65-plus.
I mean, you can`t take that away from us. We busted the blue wall in
states like Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin. And for them to pretend it
was because of this issue is not just insulting, it`s empirically false.
And Chris, all they needed to do was have a compelling sticky, persuadable,
aspirational message to the American people. If you can sit here right now
and tell me as a brilliant political mind what Hillary Clinton`s message
was, I`m listening. What was it? All I heard was, We`re not Donald Trump.
That`s not a message. That`s a screed! They lost…
MATTHEWS: Well, that`s right. By the way, James Carville said that on
election night right here…
CONWAY: But it`s true!
MATTHEWS: … when I was sitting with Rachel and Brian.
CONWAY: It`s true. And scapegoating, scapegoating white supremacy,
scapegoating Jim Comey, Russian interference, fake news, Bernie Sanders.
He had the audacity to run! Why did he do that? How about he won 22
states and 13 million voters, and they never fully assimilated back in.
And anytime I respond, anytime I defend myself against these specious
allegations that are now leading to death threats – so I really resent it
– anytime I try to respond, I`m seen as ungracious. Why are we sore
winners? I`m not a sore winner, I`m a winner.
CONWAY: My guy`s a winner. He`s the next president of the United States.
This has to stop, Chris, this incendiary rhetoric of people who just can`t
admit that they lost. It has to stop because it`s causing a lot of angst.
MATTHEWS: I agree with you. I also hope – - and I don`t think you have
any control of this. I hope the racists and the bad guys and the white
nationalists stay away from your inauguration because they will show up…
CONWAY: Let me say for the record…
MATTHEWS: … with a Confederate battle flag, they`ll be…
CONWAY: We agree.
MATTHEWS: … bombing around this city. You can know that`ll happen. You
don`t want it to happen. I know you don`t.
CONWAY: And Chris – and Chris, I really hope that the rabble-rousers and
protesters on both sides stay away. In other words, this is a president
who is trying to reach out. He`s working with the current president.
He`s working with – he works with Secretary Clinton. She didn`t just
congratulate him on election night. I was right there. He was on my
phone. She conceded to him.
And it`s time for people one month later, who just can`t get over the
election results to realize that he is their president and that – take a
clue from Hillary Clinton. Take a clue from President Obama. Try to give
this guy the berth (ph) that he needs to form his government and try to
have a peaceful transfer of democracy.
He has – Donald Trump has denounced many times, including recently…
CONWAY: … and very passionately, these white supremacists, these white
nationalists, the alt-right. He`s done that many times. For those who
want to hear it, they should hear it.
CONWAY: For those who refuse to listen to it, please stop using it as an
MATTHEWS: OK, thank you, Kellyanne.
CONWAY: Thank you.
MATTHEWS: And on the other point, teach him to dance. Anyway, thank you,
Kellyanne Conway of the Trump transition. Great to have you on. Thank
CONWAY: I`m dancing with you at the inaugural.
MATTHEWS: Well, let`s bring in NBC`s Katy Tur right now. She`s in Des
Moines ahead of another Trump rally tonight. You know, the beat goes on,
Katy. You`re right in the middle of it. You`ve been watching this
aggravation now for a couple years. And it does seem like – it`s like a
car, when you turn the car off, but the engine stays on. The attitudes
from the campaign are still hot right now.
KATY TUR, NBC CORRESPONDENT: Yes, and they have been for quite some time.
And it`s really only increased since Donald Trump won the presidency. And
you see that from a number of his supporters, as well, you know, yelling at
members of the press at times, and saying, We won, and then saying, You
didn`t, as if the press had a card to play in this.
In terms of talking about Chuck Jones, the union leader that Donald Trump
tweeted last night, to correct the record, is what Kellyanne Conway was
saying. That`s not quite fair because Chuck Jones was trying to correct
the record with Donald Trump.
Trump said he saved more than 1,100 jobs from going to Mexico. In reality,
Chuck Jones was saying it was closer to 730, 800 jobs, something around
that, that were staying and not going to Mexico.
And Carrier confirmed that today, that it was about 800 jobs. Three
hundred others were never slated to go to Mexico. So saying that Donald
Trump was trying to correct the record is not really correcting the record.
But it does show you that he is going to use his position as president-
elect, as president, to bully who he needs to bully in order to maintain
this image of a job saver, a job creator, a successful president. We`ve
seen him already, you know, sway some of the news in his direction, use it
to his advantage, even though it`s not necessarily – the details aren`t
necessarily as beneficial to him as they might seem on the surface.
We talk about Masa and SoftBank being one of those, Donald Trump saying
that they were never going to invest $50 billion into the American economy
unless he won. That`s not entirely true. They were already planning on
doing it. They had announced it a few months ago, and it was in
conjunction with Saudi Arabia actually pouring $100 billion into the
But he`s using his influence and his position and Twitter to claim
successes where successes aren`t necessarily there. And in that way, he`s
already selling himself as a successful president even before he takes the
oath of office.
MATTHEWS: It`s not surprising. Anyway, hyperbole is not new with Trump.
He beats all the records beforehand. Thank you so much, Katy Tur at her
post out there in Des Moines.
Coming up now, we`re going to remember one of the popular figures, most
popular figures, perhaps, of the late 20th century, John Glenn, the first
American to orbit the earth. He later served as a Unite States Senate from
Ohio for a quarter century. And that`s ahead.
Plus, the dangerous game of fake news. We`re going to talk more about
that, Hillary Clinton speaking out against it, and now a woman in Florida
is under arrest for making death threats against the parent of a victim of
the Sandy Hook school massacre. The woman under arrest says that the
attack never happened, that it was a hoax. And by the way, that`s a thing
being pushed by the extreme right wing. It never happened up there in
Sandy Hook. Well, that`s interesting, and it`s a horrible thing to say.
And Trump set to hold his latest thank you rally tonight in Iowa. Will the
hoopla never end? The HARDBALL roundtable will be with me.
Finally, “Let Me Finish with an American hero, you know who he is, the
right stuff, John Glenn.
This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: Well, Hillary Clinton returned to Capitol Hill today.
The former first lady, secretary of state, and New York senator was on hand
this afternoon as the Senate paid tribute to Democratic Leader Harry Reid
of Nevada, who`s retiring, of course, right now.
As Clinton began her remarks, she struck a self-deprecating tone. Let`s
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This is not
exactly the speech at the Capitol I hoped to be giving after the election.
But after a few weeks of taking selfies in the woods, I thought it would be
a good idea to come out.
CLINTON: And I am very grateful to Harry for inviting me to be part of
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, Clinton also spoke about what she called the epidemic of
fake news. And we will get into that later.
HARDBALL back after this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The day the United States begins paying tribute to
Colonel John H. Glenn Jr., the first American to ride a spacecraft around
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
Well, today, 54 years after he became the first American to orbit the
earth, we again pay tribute to John Glenn. Known as an astronaut, a U.S.
senator, an American pioneer in the golden age of space exploration, John
Glenn died today at the age of 95.
Author Tom Wolfe once said that Glenn, who was the product of a small town
in Ohio, was the last true national hero America has ever made, and for
good reason. After the Soviets had maintained an early lead in the space
race during the depths of the Cold War, it was John Glenn who leveled
things off with the success of the Mercury-Atlas 6 mission in 1962.
He circled the Earth three times, risking his life on the five-hour flight
to push the limits of human exploration into a new frontier, which of
course was the name of that administration.
Upon his return, Glenn was hailed as a hero, and one who ultimately helped
to fulfill the promise that then President Kennedy had made to send a man
to the moon within a decade. Boy, it`s great when we meet our promises.
Glenn later reentered public life representing his home state of Ohio in
the U.S. Senate, where he served for a quarter-century. In 1984, he ran
unsuccessfully for president, a loss that he, as someone who had already
reached great heights, took in stride. Here he is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN GLENN, FORMER NASA ASTRONAUT: It`s better to have tried and failed
than to have failed to try. I guess that`s the way I look at it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
But through all his years in public life, he never lost his pioneering
spirit. He made one final launch in 1998, when he was 77. He became the
oldest astronaut to enter – or to ever journey into outer space.
Joining me right now is Democratic strategist Steve McMahon to my left, and
Howard Fineman, of course, global editorial director, appropriate title
tonight, global editorial director of The Huffington Post and MSNBC
political analyst, as well as Scott Altman, Commander Scott Altman, who is
a retired astronaut and shuttle commander.
So, tell me, Shuttle Commander, what it was like to meet John Glenn and
what he meant to you.
SCOTT ALTMAN, FORMER NASA ASTRONAUT: Well, John Glenn was a hero of mine
from earlier days, as far as back as I can remember.
He had the career I always dreamed of, fighter pilot, flying World War II,
Korea, then test pilot and astronaut. So, meeting him in the astronaut gym
and working out with him was a real thrill for me. And he just fulfilled
every expectation I ever had of somebody that lived up to it.
MATTHEWS: OK. So let`s do a couple of things. We didn`t think we would
do it on an occasion of a tragedy like this. This is not really a tragedy.
It`s the death of a guy, 95, but a great man.
How come guys like you are laughing as they`re going into the spacecraft
and about to take off? I mean, everything can go wrong, everything. It
has horribly gone wrong. And you`re all chuckling away. We`re going off
there. We`re going on a little picnic here.
How do you guys do that, psychologically?
ALTMAN: Well, you have been training for the mission for so long, and
you`re getting ready. You come downstairs to go out to the Astrovan to go
to the launch. It`s like coming downstairs on Christmas morning.
ALTMAN: This is going to be great. I can`t wait.
My only worry was, would I screw up? I don`t care what happens, as long as
it`s not my fault. And…
MATTHEWS: OK, last question, and then I`m going to go to our regular
friends of mine here.
And it`s very nice to meet you, sir.
What is it like to be up there to look down and see the Earth? Because I
have always wished – as Norman Mailer once said, can`t we have a poet go
up sometime? What`s it like to look down and see Earth as this green ball?
ALTMAN: I totally agree with you there. It would be great to have someone
with a little more artistic bent than I have, because I am moved by looking
down at it.
You see thunderstorms over Africa flashing like bulbs, the thinness of the
atmosphere. It just makes me think of the planet as alive. And that
perspective is amazing.
MATTHEWS: Unbelievable. And the millions of people in places like India
and China, can you see that, movement?
ALTMAN: Well, you see evidence of people down there, especially at night.
The lights as you look around the world are really amazing.
Write that up, will you?
MATTHEWS: I want to read that.
Anyway, in 1963, John Glenn appeared on “Meet the Press” and spoke about
what the space program meant to him and to the world.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, “MEET THE PRESS,” 1963)
GLENN: I can`t even begin to pinpoint what we may run into or what we may
prove of most benefit.
But I think man`s participation in this guarantees one thing. If we can
see things, perceive them, analyze them, relate them back to our
experiences here, this is the main thing that man brings to the program.
He can see things, new things that now are completely unforeseen or
This to me is probably what`s going to be the biggest advantage of having a
man in the space program, are things that we don`t even foresee right now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Howard, I remember when we finally turned the corner. The damn
Soviets were beating us, Gherman Titov and Yuri Gagarin. They`re getting
all the – Sputnik.
And, finally, he goes up there, goes around the world three times, and
we`re back in the race.
HOWARD FINEMAN, NBC CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, not only that,
I was alive in that time, during the Kennedy years. And John Glenn became
the small-town Ohio expression of Camelot, if you will. He wasn`t the
fancy guy from the fancy family in the East.
MATTHEWS: Yes, the square.
FINEMAN: He didn`t go to Choate and Harvard. He was a guy from small-town
Ohio who became a hero to the world and to all of America.
So, politically, it was – he was, himself, a kind of fulfillment of the
Kennedy promise. That`s what gave him the original lift to get into
MATTHEWS: Yes. Bobby asked him to.
FINEMAN: First with Robert F. Kennedy. He campaigned with Robert F.
Kennedy. And then, of course, where I came in was covering him in the
Senate and covering his presidential campaign.
STEVE MCMAHON, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: And you know who…
MCMAHON: And you know who understood that being near a hero could benefit
him politically was John Kennedy and Bobby Kennedy.
MCMAHON: When he got back, they instantly befriended him, and they
launched his career.
MATTHEWS: But didn`t he seem more like a Republican to you guys? I never
thought of him as a lefty, certainly. But it seems to me, if he had a
different set of friends, he would have – he might have gone the other
FINEMAN: I don`t think it was political. It`s just who he was.
ALTMAN: Yes. And space typically has been very bipartisan.
ALTMAN: So, I think he just wound up – that`s what he grew up with and he
stayed where he was, grounded.
MCMAHON: You know what he was? He was somebody who actually rejected this
notion of identity politics. He was somebody who was an American icon, an
And one of the reasons he didn`t do better in 1984, probably, is because
Walter Mondale understood identity politics better than he did. And he was
running a different kind of campaign. He was running as the America can,
we can win guy.
MATTHEWS: What was better?
MCMAHON: Well, I mean, I…
MATTHEWS: I think he`s better. Anyway, I don`t like this identity
politics. I used to go to Mondale fund-raisers and watch him name each
table and how much they gave. And he would go through each table, but he
never, ever said anybody that everybody stood up for, just the different
FINEMAN: Well, there weren`t that many people then or now who could
bestride the whole country.
FINEMAN: And John Glenn was one of them.
MATTHEWS: Well said.
Hillary Clinton, by the way, paid tribute to Glenn today during her visit
to Capitol Hill. Let`s watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CLINTON: Senator John Glenn, a friend to many of us and a genuine American
hero, passed away today.
And I know the tributes will be flowing. I`m sure the congressional record
will be filled with pages of appreciation and recognition of this
extraordinary American`s life.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, president-elect Donald Trump also made a brief statement
about Glenn while on his trip to Ohio.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT-ELECT: Of course, Senator John Glenn today,
the passing of – he was really – to me, he was a great American hero, a
truly great American hero. I met him on two separate occasions, liked him,
always liked him. But he was, indeed, an American hero.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: What makes guys be like you?
I mean, I`m thinking about this. John Glenn fought as a fighter pilot in a
couple of wars. He survived, which is pretty tough to do in those wars.
You could be somebody else`s kill. He did that.
Then he became a test pilot, you know, like Mach 1 or Mach 2. That`s
another thing that`s very dangerous. And when people die in that, you
don`t even know. Oh, I don`t know who that guy is.
So, he did all of these things that wouldn`t have made him famous. And
then he went on and he had to go out there and do this. And when he`s 77
years old, he had to go up in space again.
What`s the drive in your machinery that makes you want to do these kind of
things? You did it, what, four times in the space shuttle?
ALTMAN: Four shuttle flights, but same as John, you just keep wanting –
he didn`t do it to be famous. He didn`t do it to get his name in the
papers. He did it because it was something that needed to be done.
He wanted to go higher. He wanted to go faster. That`s the same way I
felt with my career, as I worked from being a Navy fighter pilot to a test
pilot, and then an astronaut. So…
MATTHEWS: Howard, would you visit the space station if you got a free
FINEMAN: Well, I was telling the shuttle commander here that I applied for
the journalist in space program.
MATTHEWS: Oh, well, then you already – you already have the cojones.
FINEMAN: Because I was a child of Sputnik, as you were.
FINEMAN: And I don`t know how much time we have. I hope we get to mention
his love of his wife.
MATTHEWS: Annie, the great Annie, 73 years.
ALTMAN: Oh, yes.
FINEMAN: Just to see the two of them together…
MATTHEWS: You knew they were in love.
FINEMAN: She had a terrible stutter. She was shy in public. He protected
her with all his will and his fame. He threw it like a cloak over her to
protect her, her whole life. They were married for 73 years.
MATTHEWS: I`m going to leave it at that.
ALTMAN: She`s still alive.
MATTHEWS: Thank you, Howard Fineman. What a – you`re the man of schmaltz
MATTHEWS: Anyway, thank you, Steve McMahon.
And thank you, Scott Altman, commander, shuttle commander, sir.
ALTMAN: Thank you.
MATTHEWS: Up next: the dangerous game of fake news. The latest? The
arrest of a woman who made death threats against the parent of a victim of
the Sandy Hook massacre. She says she believes the school shooting was a
hoax, that it never happened. That`s something, by the way, being pushed
in the fever swamps of the far right. What a rotten thing to sell, that
that horror didn`t happen.
Anyway, this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ALEX JONES, HOST, “THE ALEX JONES SHOW”: I don`t know what really
happened. I know there are real mass shootings. I know people lose
children. I`m a father. It hurts my heart.
So I don`t know what the truth is. All I know is, the official story of
Sandy Hook has more holes in it than Swiss cheese.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: That`s sick.
Anyway, welcome back to HARDBALL.
That was Infowars host Alex Jones, the liar in chief, just two weeks ago
calling into question the 2012 massacre at Sandy Hook, really suggesting it
didn`t happen. The self-described libertarian traffics in disinformation
and unfounded innuendo.
The Southern Poverty Law Center has called him the most prolific conspiracy
theorist in contemporary America. And that`s saying something.
Yesterday, a Florida woman was charged with making death threats against
the parent of a child who died in the Sandy Hook rampage because she
thought the attack was a hoax. How`d she get that idea?
Well, this is just the latest episode in the damaging influence of fake
news. Over the weekend, a North Carolina man entered a Washington, D.C.,
pizzeria – there it is – with an assault rifle looking to self-
investigate – that was his phrase – a false conspiracy theory – well,
all conspiracy theories are false – about Hillary Clinton.
In her second public appearance, by the way, since the election, Hillary
Clinton weighed in today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CLINTON: The epidemic of malicious fake news and false propaganda that
flooded social media over the past year, it`s now clear that so-called fake
news can have real-world consequences.
This isn`t about politics or partisanship. Lives are at risk, lives of
ordinary people just trying to go about their days to do their jobs,
contribute to their communities. It`s a danger that must be addressed, and
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: For more on the real-world impact of fake news, I`m joined by
chief political correspondent for Politico Glenn Thrush.
Glenn, I think you can usually figure out the motive of deniers. Holocaust
deniers are anti-Semitic. I would think that is pretty clear, because you
go to Yad Vashem in Israel, all the names are there. You have got the six
million names there. You go to the museum here, you see the shoes of
millions of people, thousands of people.
GLENN THRUSH, POLITICO: And I`m missing a couple of great-grandparents.
MATTHEWS: Yes. Well, you`re a firsthand – thank you – well, you`re a
And we have all met people who are survivors, so, Martin Goldsmith, for
example, a great guy on radio here, on Sirius radio.
I – why do you say something that Sandy Hook didn`t happen, when you see
the horror, you see the parents, you see the teachers who stood up to the
shooter, and there`s no reason – what`s the goal here?
THRUSH: The goal is to undermine the credibility of institutions.
Like, in the meta sense, this is a guy who thrives, who – I don`t know if
he makes money. I don`t know if he gets a modicum of fame or influence.
This is a guy Donald Trump had traffic with. This is a guy that Flynn`s –
General Flynn`s son retweeted copiously.
THRUSH: So, essentially, what this is, is, you undermine these
institutions. You cast doubt on everything, mainstream media, all the
institutions in the country.
And then you get to get your fame and following.
MATTHEWS: If you put them in a lie detector, what would happen? Do they
believe their own stuff?
THRUSH: I will tell you this. I don`t know about him. I don`t know the
But I do know I get hit by trolls. I get a lot of e-mails. I think a lot
of people believe this stuff.
MATTHEWS: No, they believe what they`re told.
MATTHEWS: But the people who tell them this stuff, do they believe it, the
creators of this stuff, this fake news?
THRUSH: I don`t know.
I will tell you, I deal with – then again, look, there`s a whole continuum
of stuff. There`s fake news, flat-out fake news, and then there are people
who sort of distort stuff. And then there are people who have a partisan
point of view. It`s a whole spectrum of stuff.
I think some people believe this, and I think some people are really
MATTHEWS: So, do you think the door is closed on that? I always worry
about the slopping up of this stuff over the wall, and so a quality
newspaper will pick it up. Maybe a not-quality newspaper will pick it up.
MATTHEWS: And then a real paper will pick it up, or the AP will pick it
up, the Associated Press.
MATTHEWS: And, all of a sudden, this germ will work its way through the
system, where real newspapers and real networks and real wire services will
run stuff that`s totally fabricated.
THRUSH: And the denial of it.
I had an interesting talk with – I did a podcast with John Dickerson from
CBS a couple months ago.
THRUSH: And his opinion on this – and I don`t know if I agree with this,
but it`s a provocative point – that even correcting this stuff gives it a
THRUSH: And I think people…
MATTHEWS: How`s that work?
THRUSH: He just – his idea. And I think this was based on some research,
is that just the repetition of this lie, there are certain people who have
selective hearing on this stuff. They`re not hearing it being debunked.
They`re just hearing the original lie.
MATTHEWS: Do you think people can tell the difference between a straight
newspaper report by you and an opinion column?
THRUSH: No. I think that is the big problem.
MATTHEWS: I think it is. That has to be clarified.
THRUSH: I think people, the way that they consume stuff, the fragmentation
of the media and the fact that they`ve been fed a lot of stuff. By the
way, Chris, you know this. There`s been a 30 to 40-year systemic attack on
the legitimacy of the news media.
MATTHEWS: I just hope when people watch this show, and I know we have to
do more every day to do it, but when you look under the name, who is this
person? It says “New York Times,” “Washington Post,” that`s what it means,
journalist, reporter. When it says Democratic strategist or whatever,
advocate, surrogate, you see who`s talking.
THRUSH: Look at Katy Tur, what she did, in terms of correcting the record
on what Trump said, that`s a good journalism.
MATTHEWS: That`s the job.
MATTHEWS: Anyway, thank you, Glenn Thrush of “The Washington Post”.
Up next, the HARDBALL roundtable and what we heard at the top of the hour
from Kellyanne Conway and the Trump transition, as Trump pushes ahead with
his “Thank You” tour. He`s in Iowa tonight. Look at the crowds building
You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: Well, with President-elect Trump continued his “Thank You” tour
today out in Ohio. He`s holding another rally tonight in Des Moines. He
heads to Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and Grand Rapids, Michigan, tomorrow and
Hershey, Pennsylvania, next week.
But the campaign`s over and a new administration is set to take shape on
January 20th, six weeks away.
So, is it time for rallies and speeches to come to an end and let the
Let`s bring in the HARDBALL roundtable. David Corn, Washington bureau
chief for “Mother Jones” and an MSNBC political analyst, April Ryan is
White House correspondent and Washington bureau chief for American Urban
Radio Networks. And John Feehery is a Republican strategist.
OK, for the defense, when were the bread and circuses or – how about the
circuses ended and the bread begin?
JOHN FEEHERY, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Listen, I remember when George W.
Bush tried to get Social Security passed by doing a bunch of rallies and
wasn`t very effective.
I think Trump can be effective by doing these rallies to energize people
for his agenda, but he also has to play the inside game. The outside game
works to a certain extent. The inside game, to get the stuff done. And
it`s a little easier, because he has Republicans running for both the House
and Senate. And he`s got a majority, a big majority –
MATTHEWS: Do you think “lock her up” will work after January 20th?
FEEHERY: You know, we`ve got to dispense with the “lock her up” stuff.
But we do – I mean, there are some legislative things on his agenda that
he wants to get done. And Republicans are going to be a little bit
reluctant on some of them and the only way he`s going to push it through is
MATTHEWS: How is he going to turn off the really bad stuff? I mean, there
are some people on the alt-right, the new term for the racist part of our
country, the white nationalists, they`re going to show up on January 20th
with their Confederate license plates and riding around town acting like
crazy people. And that`s going to send a signal to the world that this guy
is bringing in the hard right with them.
APRIL RYAN, AMERICAN URBAN RADIO NETWORKS: And it`s very interesting you
say that because a lot of people, to include a lot of people in Congress
are saying they`re not coming.
MATTHEWS: To the inauguration?
RYAN: To the inauguration.
MATTHEWS: Because of that. I talked to some people today.
But how does he counter that? He counters that by what he`s doing now.
There are some people within the transition team that are reaching out to
the Congressional Black Caucus. There`s not a meeting set yet, but the
MATTHEWS: Who`s black on the new ticket, the new team? Who, besides Dr.
Carson? Anybody else?
RYAN: Right now, Omarosa is working –
DAVID CORN, MOTHER JONES: Oh, God –
RYAN: Let it go, let it go, let it go.
MATTHEWS: I`m looking at the cabinet level positions.
RYAN: I`ve got something for you for something you don`t know.
MATTHEWS: When are people going to start beating the drum and say you
ought to mix it up a little? I`m serious!
RYAN: It`s interesting you say that, because George W. Bush had the most
diverse Republican administration there is and we`re wondering to see what
Donald Trump is going to bring –
MATTHEWS: That`s the tallest building in Kansas city, right? No, really,
you`re really saying that W. had a good diverse –
RYAN: W. had – no, no, no, he had the most diverse administration,
Republican administration. Not – yes, Republican.
CORN: Low bar. Very low bar there.
Listen, Donald Trump has not changed his tone. He`s punching down, he`s
attacking labor leaders –
MATTHEWS: Why`s he doing that?
CORN: Well, because that`s who he is. He`s a bully! He`s a bully. He
can`t help himself!
CORN: Of course it does.
But also, you talk about – you had Kellyanne on earlier and she was
talking about, oh, she takes offense when they talk about white nationalism
and nationalists with the campaign. The chief strategist in the White
House, Steve Bannon, said that he wanted to promote the alt-right at
Breitbart. So he wanted to promote racists and white nationalists.
So, right there, you can`t tell me that, oh, boo-hoo-hoo, this is not a
proper claim that Jen Palmieri and others are making. Then you have
Michael Flynn, he and his son, they both have done this, they tweeted out
fake news that led to violence –
MATTHEWS: How much are they responsible for what happened at the pizza
joint down the –
CORN: They`re all responsible for promoting this.
MATTHEWS: Is Michael Flynn responsible for this? The guy with the gun?
CORN: No, he`s responsible, as is his son –
MATTHEWS: Edgar Welch walked into that pizza joint on Sunday because of
what Michael Flynn`s son did?
CORN: No. What I`m saying is, they are contributing to an environment
which they`re passing around bad information that then riles up people.
Alex Jones, who you talked about in the last segment, does this, and they
echo him. You invite Alex Jones to the convention, they make him a special
guest. He was a special guest –
MATTHEWS: OK, explain this. Holocaust – not Holocaust denier, but it`s
like the Holocaust denier. Why do people say Sandy Hook didn`t happen?
We`ve got all those horrors, those parents, those poor kids gunned down.
What do you get out of saying it didn`t happen?
FEEHERY: Look, I think there are some people who are certifiably crazy out
MATTHEWS: Alex Jones?
FEEHERY: Listen –
CORN: He is!
FEEHERY: I think there are things on his website that are just made-up.
MATTHEWS: Why is that?
FEEHERY: I don`t know. I don`t know why.
CORN: I know why.
MATTHEWS: It`s like Westgate Baptist Church that goes to military funerals
because they don`t like –
CORN: Chris, it`s not surprise. He does this to make a lot of money and
gets a lot of traffic. He`s also a gun rights advocate –
RYAN: That`s the point.
RYAN: He`s trying to – right, he`s trying to dismiss any evidence that
they have factual evidence to create a problem for the Second Amendment.
MATTHEWS: OK. Thank you. Well said.
The roundtable is sticking with us.
And up next, these people will tell me something I don`t know.
This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: You`re looking at a live picture now from Des Moines. It`s the
latest stop on Donald Trump`s self-styled “Thank You” tour. We expect
Trump will appear with the governor of Iowa, Terry Branstad, who`s now
going to be ambassador to China. Actually, it`s a good pick.
We`ll keep an eye on any memes, or any news that comes out of that event.
Not any memes.
We`ll be right back.
MATTHEWS: We`re back with the HARDBALL roundtable.
David, tell me something I don`t know.
CORN: I`d like to get personal. February 20th, 1962, I was 3 years old.
MATTHEWS: John Glenn?
CORN: My birthday. My birthday party. We watched him go up in space with
Walter Cronkite saying, “Go, baby, go.”
We then ran to the window to look for John Glenn. My first public memory,
my hero, my first public hero. It was an honor to meet him at this
building years later. I just want to say, Godspeed, John Glenn. America -
MATTHEWS: I was in the Peace Corps with a guy, when he went to the moon,
my friend Steve Hank (ph), you got the whole village, watch to the sky, was
that great? Go to the moon with the Peace Corps.
RYAN: I don`t think mine is as hot as –
RYAN: No, no, in the mix for the Department of Ag, to the head the
Department of Ag, former Congressman J.C. Watts.
MATTHEWS: Is it coming?
RYAN: He`s in the mix. He`s in the mix.
MATTHEWS: Diversify a bit more.
RYAN: Diversify. Yes. Yes.
CORN: Billionaire, though?
RYAN: He`s one of the first –
FEEHERY: He`s a great guy, great guy.
Two things: Harry Reid secretly admires what Mitch McConnell did on Merrick
Garland, second thing, Democrats are refusing – Democrat senators are
refusing to meet with Trump nominees in the Senate.
MATTHEWS: Is there going to be a filibuster next year or is it gone?
Harry Reid said it`s gone pretty soon.
FEEHERY: He helped killed it.
MATTHEWS: They`re going to be gone. Maybe we`ll get appointments and
we`ll get stuff moving.
We don`t want everything to move too fast under Donald Trump.
Anyway, David Corn, thank you, April Ryan, John Feehery.
When we return, let me finish with American hero, John Glenn. I got some
things to say I know about him.
You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight with a tribute to a square, you know, the
guy who gets married young to the girl next door, stays married for life,
tries to lead a regular life, have dinner with the kids, spending evenings
with his wife, getting a kick out of life, but somehow managing not to get
distracted from the basics.
For John Glenn who died today, that was the deal. He once said he didn`t
have a fire alarm religion, he said his prayers on a regular basis, not
when the panic hit. He was real about this. His heartbeat stayed pretty
much the same as his space capsule fresh from circling the globe roared
back into the atmosphere – his heat shield, the only thing keeping him
from being cooked alive. He was that calm, that confident, that
Glenn spent years as a fighter pilot in two wars then a test pilot which
would have been scary enough for most of us. Then, in February 1962, he
went into space, around the earth, the first American to do it. And, boy,
did he make his country proud.
People forget in the years after Sputnik, we consider ourselves behind in
the space race. We`ve watched Yuri Gagarin and German Titov and several
monkeys go up in space while our Vanguard missile crashed again and again
and again. Moscow was beating us.
People like President Kennedy didn`t like it. He declared the United
States was going to not just catch the Russians, we`re going to leapfrog
them for all the world to see. The United States was going to put a man on
the moon within a decade and we did it.
John Glenn who died today was part of all that. The America/Russia
greatness in the 1960s. You know, you read about the `60s being about
drugs and shootings and hippies. But the history books will say and
rightly, it`s about men with the right stuff, discipline, commitment, guts.
John Glenn was one of them. His success, what it meant to this country is
a tribute to the squares of the world, men and women with the guts to show
up and do the job.
That`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us.
“ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES” starts right now.
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