Hardball with Chris Matthews, Transcript 12/22/2016
Date: December 22, 2016
Guest: Karen Tumulty, Ted Johnson, Lizz Winstead, William Barber, Matt
JOY REID, GUEST HOST: The reality TV White House.
Let`s play HARDBALL.
Good evening. I`m Joy Reid in New York, in tonight for Chris Matthews.
In the 1980s, it was getting his name in the paper any way he could. Then
it was reality TV. These days, Donald Trump`s go-to medium and his
communication tool of choice is Twitter. He used it to announce
appointments, suggest policy, and mainly, to start beefs with politicians,
late-night comedy shows, former beauty pageant winners, and of course, the
casts of Broadway shows.
Twitter has also given us a window into Trump`s thought process, mainly how
frenetic it often can be. For example, this morning, with the span of 10
minutes, Trump tweeted out a rebuke of one of his staunchest supporters,
and an unprecedented call to expand the nuclear arsenal.
At 11:41 AM, Trump tweeted in an apparent response to Newt Gingrich, quote,
“Someone incorrectly stated that the phrase `drain the swamp` was no longer
being used by me. Actually, we will always be trying to drain the swamp.”
Nine minutes later on a very different topic, Trump said, “The U.S. – the
United States must greatly strengthen and expand its nuclear capability
until such time as the world comes to its senses regarding nukes.”
The call to expand the country`s nuclear capabilities is something no
president has suggested in decades. In fact, quite the opposite.
Presidents from Eisenhower to Reagan to Obama have called for reducing the
threat of nuclear war.
Meanwhile, there was news today about the coming Trump administration`s
Trump – the coming Trump administration. Campaign manager Kellyanne
Conway will take on the role of presidential counselor and former RNC
spokesman Sean Spicer was named press secretary.
One person who has not been named to a post in the administration is former
U.S. ambassador to the U.N. John Bolton. But his absence apparently is not
due to his controversial views, such as his advocacy for bombing Iran.
According to “The Washington Post,” Donald Trump believes that those who
aspire to be in the most visible spots in his administration should not
just be able to do the job, but also look the part.
And for Trump, Bolton did not look the part. Quote, “Several of Trump`s
associates said they thought that John Bolton`s brush-like mustache was one
of the factors that handicapped the bombastic former United Nations
ambassadors in the sweepstakes for secretary of state. `Donald was not
going to like that mustache, said one associate,` who spoke on the
condition of anonymity to speak frankly. I can`t think of anyone that`s
really close to Donald that has a beard that he likes.”
I`m joined now by “The Washington Post`s” Karen Tumulty, who co-wrote that
article, also former chairman of the Republican National Committee Michael
Steele and Washington bureau chief for “Mother Jones” David Corn, and both
are MSNBC political analysts.
Karen, I have to go to you first on this because this is your story. This
is kind of remarkable. I think we`ve heard lots of reasons for presidents
choosing members of their team, but looks has not been among them. Talk a
little bit about that.
KAREN TUMULTY, “WASHINGTON POST”: Well, first of all, I am so happy that
you balanced this panel with a man with a mustache.
REID: It`s important. We have to defend the stache. This is what we have
to do. Very important.
REID: There you go. Rock it, Michael, rock it.
TUMULTY: Well, I mean, we certainly knew all the way through the campaign
how important appearance was to Donald Trump. Don`t forget, near the end
of the campaign, he said that people wouldn`t vote for Hillary Clinton
because she didn`t have a, quote, unquote, “presidential look.”
He talked – in introducing his running mate, he said that, you know, he
might – Mike Pence`s economic record was the reason he picked him, on top
of the fact that he looked good and had a good family.
And certainly, this focus on looks, his own team acknowledges is a factor
in who he picks and why he picks them, that he really does believe that the
way a person presents themselves publicly is sort of part of the message
that he is trying to send as he builds this team.
REID: Yes, well, John Bolton actually had a response to this. He tweeted
this afternoon, “I appreciate the grooming advice from the totally unbiased
mainstream media, but I will not be shaving my mustache.”
TUMULTY: Well, and for the record, by the way, we were quoting people near
Trump. That was not our own opinion. I think his mustache is perfectly
REID: Yes, no, the stache – I don`t know if the mustache has its own
Twitter account yet, but I`m quite sure someone is working on that…
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It probably will.
REID: … even as we speak. I`m going to go to…
DAVID CORN, “MOTHER JONES,” MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Here we go. I`m
doing this right now, Joy.
REID: Absolutely. Let`s go to our mustache panelist, Michael Steele,
because Michael, indeed, it was not the mainstream media`s suggestion, the
shaving of the mustache, it was more Donald Trump.
But what do you make of this? I mean, you know, you, as chairman of the
RNC, one of the sort of great things about what you were able to accomplish
was that you are good on TV. You`re somebody that could be interviewed
that can present yourself well. I mean, it`s not irrelevant to doing a
person`s job in this modern and very visual era.
But does it mean that Donald Trump cast aside, let`s say – you know, can
we then draw the conclusion that maybe a Chris Christie or Rudy Giuliani,
that maybe – or a Newt Gingrich – maybe the reason they didn`t make it
into final dance after having been really staunch supporters, is that
Donald Trump, despite their loyalty, may have looked at them and said, No,
wrong visual image?
MICHAEL STEELE, FMR. RNC CHAIR, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes. I mean, I
think that`s a valid part of the packaging that Donald Trump is looking to
present to the country as he rolls out his administration. It does matter,
just as much how you look as well as how you sound and what you say. And I
think that`s consistent with what Donald – what we`ve seen Donald Trump
And the way you opened the segment – in the 1980s, he was about one thing,
getting his brand up and running. And since that time, it has always been
about building on and expanding that brand. And the reality television
market was where that all came together for him.
So when he sat around that conference table and you were on the hot seat,
it mattered how you look as much as what your product was or what you were
saying or what you were doing. So yes, I think that plays a little bit
into this job-hunting process that he`s unfolded.
REID: But David Corn, does that mean that qualifications for the position
are taking a back seat to aesthetics?
CORN: Next question.
CORN: Listen, I am happy that a mustache saved America from John Bolton.
That`s a good development, even though it comes about from the wrong
But I do think it shows that he`s a superficial guy. You know, he rates
women on numbers. He said Carly Fiorina looked bad. He made fun of Rand
Paul`s – not his ideas, which would be fair to do, but of his looks. This
is a guy who is, you know, a sexist, misogynist, a lookist, whatever you
want to call it.
And so yes, Rick Perry may look like he should be, you know, in government
somewhere because he comes from central casting, but the last two
secretaries of energy have been nuclear scientists, scientists who
understand the hard issues of handling nuclear weapons, which brings us
back to the other tweet today in which Donald Trump shows that he knows
nothing about bipartisan policy on nuclear arms control.
CORN: So everything with him is superficial. It`s about impressions,
impressions, impressions. Good for politics, maybe really bad for nuclear
REID: Yes, and it also sort of casts new light on Ben Carson for HUD. I
wonder if the stereotype may be driving that. I hope that`s not the case.
Karen, let`s go back to you for a second because according to your story,
there`s more to that. People close to Trump have also been eager to
appoint a, quote, “telegenic woman” as press secretary or some other
public-facing role in the White House both because he thinks that it would
attract viewers, which is an interest way to put it, and would help
inoculate him from the charges of sexism that trailed his presidential
Some names under consideration at the time were Laura Ingraham, Kimberly
Guilfoyle, Monica Crowley, all of whom are conservative pundits familiar to
Fox News viewers.
But Karen, we do know now that Sean Spicer is going to be the press
secretary. So he didn`t go for a sort of pretty blond woman. But what do
you make, Karen, of this idea that he`s trying to cast – and it really is
sort of casting – to cast his administration with attractive women?
TUMULTY: Well, in fact, what we were told is that “central casting” is
actually a phrase he uses quite a bit behind the scenes. It was – for the
exact two reasons that I mentioned, it was important. His first preference
for the job, I have from multiple sources, was Kellyanne Conway. She was
not interested in doing the job. She wanted another post, which she got.
Again, it is a way of sort of, in Donald Trump`s mind, putting yourself
And when it comes to the credentials of people, he`s putting a lot of non-
traditional choices in jobs. You know, Nikki Haley is not somebody you
would normally have thought of, the governor of South Carolina, for U.N.
representative. Rex Tillerson is the first secretary of state in modern
history to come to the job with absolutely no government experience – by
the way, as does the president-elect.
This is a strategy. These are people who – you know, he`s determined to
shake things up, and he really thinks that going by the old standards of
what constitutes a resume, what constitutes qualifications, is not the way
to do that.
REID: Yes, absolutely. Well, one of the people who was passed over got
into a little bit of a contretemps with Donald Trump apparently this
morning via Twitter. Donald Trump promised throughout his campaign to,
quote, “drain the swamp” in Washington, but in the last 24 hours, a couple
of his supporters have downplayed that language.
Here`s Trump`s former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski this morning.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Where does “drain the swamp” stack up on things to
adhere to in the Trump camp?
COREY LEWANDOWSKI, TRUMP`S FORMER CAMPAIGN MANAGER: Look, I think if you
had to put them in a chronological order, “drain the swamp” is probably
somewhere down at the bottom, as opposed to getting tax reform done, making
sure middle class people have more jobs. So draining the swamp is a larger
narrative, but what it`s really about is putting people back to work.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
REID: And yesterday, Newt Gingrich had a similar message to NPR. Let`s
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You say you`ve been working on these issues. Others
might say you`ve been working in the swamp, to use Donald Trump`s language.
NEWT GINGRICH (R), FMR. HOUSE SPEAKER, FOX CONTRIBUTOR: Yes. Although he
– I`m told he now disclaims that. He now says it was cute, but he doesn`t
want to use it anymore.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He doesn`t want to us “drain the swamp” anymore?
GINGRICH: I don`t know. (INAUDIBLE) somebody sent me that note last night
because I had written a – what I thought was a very cute tweet about the
alligators are complaining, and somebody wrote back and said they were
tired of hearing the stuff.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
REID: Well, as I said explained earlier, that message got a rebuke from
Donald Trump on twitter this morning, saying “drain the swamp” is here to
stay, and a chastised Newt Gingrich took to Facebook to walk it back.
Let`s take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GINGRICH: I want to report that I made a big boo-boo. I talked this
morning with President-elect Donald Trump and he reminded me he likes
“drain the swamp.” I mischaracterized it the other day. He intends to
drain the swamp. So I want all of you to know I goofed. Draining the
swamp is in. The alligators should be worried.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
REID: David Corn, what does it say that, you know, a very cowed Newt
Gingrich had to walk that back?
CORN: It`s kind of like a hostage tape, right?
But you know, let`s go back to what Corey Lewandowski was saying because
this – yesterday, he announced he was becoming an alligator. He`s opening
a lobbying shop one block away from the White House.
You know, when he was running the Trump campaign, he was going on and on of
how he had to drain the swamp of consultants and influence peddlers and
lobbyists. So I`m waiting to see Donald Trump or Newt Gingrich or anybody
else start rebuking Corey Lewandowski. I don`t expect Fox News to do it,
but others might.
And we see people from Goldman Sachs and all the other folks who seemed to
be part of the swamp before the election now getting high-powered jobs. So
I really think that, you know, Trump, whose hotel here in D.C. is in the
middle of the swamp and makes money off the swamp, doesn`t really care much
REID: Well, we needed more time to continue talking about mustaches and
swamps. We are out of time. Karen Tumulty – Michael Steele, keep that
stache forever – and David Corn.
STEELE: You got it. Ho, ho, hey (ph).
REID: Hey, hey!
REID: Coming up – Donald Trump`s dream of being the celebrity president
is turning into the nightmare of being a president shunned by celebrities.
We will talk the star-free inauguration and rumors of a star-studded
alternative event on the same day.
And later, “Time” magazine`s top stories of the year and our panel`s top
This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
REID: In a House Intelligence report released today, Congress called
Edward Snowden a liar, accusing him of being a serial exaggerator and
fabricator, arguing that he isn`t the whistleblower he claims to be, and
adding that he continues to be in contact with Russian intelligence.
Snowden pushed back against the report, tweeting that the report`s, quote,
“core claims are made without evidence,” unquote.
Here to explain, NBC News justice correspondent Pete Williams. All right,
Pete, explain what that report said today.
PETE WILLIAMS, NBC CORRESPONDENT: Well, we`d seen a preview of it in
September when we got an unclassified summary of what it would say. Now
we`ve gotten the unclassified report, although it`s got heavy redactions to
remove classified material.
This supposedly is a list of 13 things the Defense Department identified in
the material that he took from the NSA that could jeopardize troops
overseas, but we don`t know what they are because it`s redacted.
But the report does say, as you note, that it believes that Snowden is
still in contact with the Russians. It says, “Since Snowden`s arrival in
Moscow, he has had and continues to have contact with the Russian
intelligence services.” Now, Snowden today says that`s not true. His
lawyer says it`s not true.
But there`s some interesting new things in the report, Joy. It says, for
example, that when he was working in the government, he repeatedly failed a
test about how one of the programs worked for doing surveillance on e-
mails, a program that Snowden would later leak material about and seriously
criticize. The report says the part he failed was the part about privacy
protections for Americans.
So the theme of the report is that he took a lot more than what he said he
was all about, that he said he was a whistleblower, that he wanted to alert
Americans to civil liberty violations, but the report says the 1.5 million
documents that he took, that if printed out would be three miles high,
dealt with a lot more than that, and that only about less than 1 percent
that have been published talk about the kind of civil liberties protections
that he was worried about.
So they say he`s been misleading, casts himself as a whistleblower, but
they say that`s not true. Both he and his lawyer pushed back against it
REID: All right. Very interesting. Pete Williams, thank you very much.
WILLIAMS: You bet.
REID: And HARDBALL returns after this.
REID: Welcome back to HARDBALL. That was how Donald Trump presented
himself to the country when he was merely a reality TV star on “The
Now, having been elected to this country`s highest office, he`s set to
reintroduce himself as the 45th president of the United States. And as we
saw with his Trump Tower escalator announcement and his over-the-top
entrance at the Republican national convention, it wouldn`t be a Trump
production without high drama and showmanship.
In planning his inauguration, Trump has again teamed up with the executive
producer of “The Apprentice,” Mark Burnett, but according to The Wrap, the
preparations so far have fallen short of Trump`s high expectations. Quote,
“Donald Trump is so displeased with his team`s inability to lock in A-list
talent for his inauguration events next month that he`s ordered a `hail
Mary` shakeup of his recruiters to try to book performers.”
Among those who have declined requests to perform, Elton John, Garth Brooks
and opera singer Andrea Bocelli. The Wrap also reports they couldn`t book
Celine Dion. TMZ reports that the band KISS turned down a request, too.
And “The Washington Post” reports that David Foster has also declined.
However, “The New York Post” reported that the Beach Boys have been asked
and have yet to make a decision.
I`m joined now by Lizz Winstead, comedian and co-creator of “The Daily
Show,” as well as Ted Johnson, senior editor at “Variety,” sitting next to
each other, I believe, in Minneapolis.
REID: … you guys about that while you`re there.
But Ted, let`s start off with this because it does look like this is
shaping up to be an inauguration free of celebrities, which would be kind
of unprecedented. I mean, Barack Obama had every celebrity imaginable, and
Hillary Clinton did at her convention.
TED JOHNSON, “VARIETY”: Yes, I keep on thinking back to 2009, when
President Obama had a concert at the Lincoln Memorial and it was just A-
list talent after A-list talent. Bruce Springsteen was there. Beyonce was
there. U2 was there. Pete Seger was there.
It`s just not going to happen for Donald Trump because where we are right
now is – Hollywood leans left. There was a lot of people who showed up
for Hillary Clinton, and they still have a lot of hurt feelings. They`re
not going to all of a sudden say, Well, in the name of unity, I`m going to
show up in Washington. That seems to be the mentality right now. I mean,
they`re more worried about how – what – what`s going to happen under a
Donald Trump presidency than, Oh, well, maybe we should show up and – and
support his White House.
I think that Hollywood will probably turn out to be kind of a voice of
opposition in large part.
REID: And you know that`s ironic given the fact that Donald Trump was a
celebrity, right, until not too long ago.
Lizz Winstead, for these artists, when you talk to people in the media
world and celeb world, are they more concerned about the underlying issues,
things like, you know, the potential for a Muslim ban, the wall, the
comments about Mexican-Americans, attacks on Planned Parenthood, that kind
of thing, or are they more concerned about a backlash for themselves,
meaning boycotts of them if they show up to this event?
WINSTEAD: I mean, I think when you look at – first of all, when you look
at “Celebrity Apprentice,” those were crummy celebrities. So, like, the
basis of his celebrity outreach is terrible.
But I think to your point, so when you think of the A-list celebrities that
are out there now, women, black and brown people, immigrants, like, for
somebody who ran a campaign and won an election saying the rights – I`m
going to strip rights away from you, I think they`re human beings who said,
you want to know what, I don`t think I`m going to celebrate you when you
want to literally destroy the lives of me and my family.
REID: Yes, and Ted, you know what I find really sort of fascinating about
this, and it does say a lot about Donald Trump`s psyche, right, I mean,
every biography of him describes him as the Queens rich guy who wanted the
Manhattan wealthy folks to respect him, that sort of craves the adulation
of the press and of Hollywood.
But the reporting that we`re hearing is that he`s blaming his team for not
being able to pull these celebrities in, and looking to shake up the team.
Why is it that Donald Trump does not reflect back and say, maybe the reason
these celebrities don`t want to be involved in his inauguration is
something about his campaign and his own brand?
JOHNSON: Well, yes, there`s a naivete to Donald Trump and thinking that
all these A-listers, especially people who showed up for Hillary Clinton,
like Elton John, is going to actually show up for the inauguration.
Look back in 2001 when George W. Bush was inaugurated that year. And there
weren`t a whole lot of celebrities who showed up. You did see country
music stars, the people you would expect to show up for a Republican
president or an incoming Republican president.
One of the few that kind of diverged was Ricky Martin. And Ricky Martin
got a lot of flack for it. And I often look back to that and think, well,
that was actually slightly less controversial than Donald Trump`s
candidacy, where you have, you know, genuine concerns about what it`s going
to mean for a number of these groups, Muslims, what he said during the
And there hasn`t been any kind of, kind of a unifying speech that has come
from Donald Trump since then, since his victory. Maybe that will come in
the inaugural address, but I think that a lot of these celebrities want to
see something like that, if they`re even going to probably consider showing
up to the swearing in or the inaugural festivities.
WINSTEAD: Well, and remember, Elton John performed at Rush Limbaugh`s
wedding, and it was the same thing, horrible backlash. It`s like, why
would you help celebrate somebody who literally, completely criticizes
everything that you`re about and your way of life.
REID: Yes. Let`s talk about some of the people that they have been able
to secure in Trump world. So far, the team has announced 16-year-old
Jackie Evancho, whose career was launched on “America`s Got Talent,” a
reality show, will sing the national anthem.
The Mormon Tabernacle Choir, which is interesting, because Mormons seemed
so resistant to Trump during the primary. They have announced that they`re
going to perform. And also the Radio City Rockettes will participate in
the inaugural festivities.
Of course, that`s a huge contrast since Barack Obama had Aretha Franklin
perform at his swearing in back in 2009, and, of course, had Beyonce at the
Ted, you know, for those on the right who sort of look at celebrities as
unwanted intruders into the political process, for their side of the aisle,
so what, right? If there are no celebrities at Donald Trump`s
inauguration, if his inauguration is basically a couple of people from
“America`s Got Talent,” et cetera, does that have a broader meaning in some
JOHNSON: Well, actually, you know, if I were Donald Trump`s camp – or
Donald Trump`s team, I would say, why don`t we just go for a traditional
inauguration? Don`t obsess so much about getting these A-list
Have the Marine Band play a few more hymns or numbers, you know, out there
at the swearing-in ceremony and just make it as traditional as possible and
just kind of move on and don`t be so obsessed over which big name actually
shows up and really get that message out there.
REID: Yes, and I have to ask you about this, Lizz Winstead. There is word
that there might be a counter concert. According to Politico, Mark Ross,
who is a concert promoter and the son of the late Time Warner CEO Steve
Ross, is in the process of putting together a large-scale concert called
“We the People” which would directly counter this inauguration.
And according to Ted Ross (ph), he`s saying that celebrities are actually
clamoring to get in. He said the talent is banging on our doors to do
this, said a source familiar to the planning.
I Googled, in my geekery, Lizz Winstead, that back in 1973, in January of
1973, Leonard Bernstein did a peace concert to counter the Nixon
inauguration. So it`s not like it`s unprecedented.
But what do you make of this attempt to get all the stars Trump couldn`t
get and have them in Miami doing their own concert?
WINSTEAD: I mean, I think it`s great for a number of reasons. I think it
shows solidarity. I think it gives people who literally don`t want to
watch this person get sworn in something to watch.
I think it`s always nice to gather around and feel like, hey, we can move
forward. And I think it`s a reminder that Trump couldn`t get people. I
mean, not only could he not get A-listers, he can barely get B-listers. I
don`t think he can get Craigslisters at this point.
So I think – I`m thrilled that people are trying to do anything to counter
REID: Yes, it is surprising that he can`t get people that are alum of the
“Celebrity Apprentice.” They would seem to be the obvious first people to
call. But we will wait and see. Lizz Winstead and Ted Johnson, thank you
guys both very much. We`ll figure out why you guys are in Minneapolis
WINSTEAD: Thanks, Joy.
REID: Thank you.
All right. Up next, North Carolina`s lawmakers voted down an attempt to
repeal the law limiting bathroom access for transgender people. Well, now
there are some who want the NAACP to call for an economic boycott against
the state of North Carolina. Will it happen? We will ask the man pushing
for that boycott. This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Shame on you! Shame!
CROWD: Shame! Shame! Shame!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
REID: That was the scene at the North Carolina statehouse last night after
lawmakers failed to repeal the state`s controversial HB2 law which limits
bathroom access to transgender people, among other things.
Despite previous agreements between members of both parties to revoke the
law, which has cost the state potentially hundreds of millions of dollars
in lost business and sporting events, the special session ended after nine
hours, preserving the status quo.
In reaction, Reverend William Barber, the North Carolina president of the
NAACP, announced today that he will ask the national board of the
organization to consider a national economic boycott of the state until HB2
And I`m joined now by the Reverend Dr. William Barber, president of the
North Carolina NAACP.
So Reverend Barber, walk me through, first of all, how the deal fell apart
to repeal HB2, if you could, quickly.
REV. WILLIAM BARBER, PRESIDENT, NORTH CAROLINA NAACP: Well, there probably
was never really a deal that they intended to honor. Charlotte should have
never had to repeal their good ordinance in order for the state to repeal a
bad unconstitutional bill in the first place.
But you just have this out-of-control extremism that has been operating in
our state now for more than four years. And they do not have integrity
when it comes to keeping their word and they do not care about fundamental
Thirteen times, Joy, this legislature has voted on things that have been
proven to be unconstitutional.
REID: And so tell us, sir, what you plan to ask the NAACP. Walk us
through what your request will be and how likely you think it is that they
will do it?
BARBER: Yes, well, I feel very good about it. In fact, it`s broader than
the HB2. We are going to go into serious deliberations after Christmas and
put before the national board a formal request to engage in an economic
boycott of the state for four different reasons.
Number one, we believe that until they repeal the policy coup d`etat, that
we – that after we won our fight against voter suppression, they then
changed the state board of elections across the state, local boards of
election, and changed access to the supreme court after now two African-
Americans are placed on the supreme court. That`s a fundamental violation.
Number two, we want an economic boycott until they repeal the changes they
made to the state board of elections that undermined the power of the
We want to boycott until they pass non-race-based redistricting plans that
give the people a fair chance at elections and complies with the rulings of
the federal court, which is due before March of next year. They haven`t
even begun to work on it.
And then, we want a full repeal of all aspects of HB2. It never was just
about bathrooms. We want them to repeal the anti-living wage that doesn`t
allow cities and municipalities to raise to living wages. We want them to
repeal the anti-civil and -employment rights portion of that bill that
denies access to even straight people, even veterans to state court.
And we want them to repeal all of the LGBT part that denies equal
protection under the law, and undermines it for a host of people, not just
the LGBT community.
So we have this attempt to have a kind of – one lady called it today a
rising of kind of a new policy Confederacy. And we have to stop it here in
North Carolina, otherwise, other state legislatures will feel like they
have the freedom to do it.
So we`re going to fight them legally, Joy. We`re going to have a mass
march on Raleigh February the 11th. We invite people to come too. But we
believe we need to ask for an economic boycott.
REID: Well, Reverend Dr. William Barber, thank you so much for being here.
We will definitely be following your progress and we`ll talk to you again
Merry Christmas to you, sir, and thank you.
BARBER: Thank you so much. Take care, have a great day.
REID: Thank you.
And up next, a look back at 2016, a year filled with political highs and
lows. So which were the best moments and which were the worst? You`re
watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT-ELECT OF THE UNITED STATES: They`re bringing
drugs. They`re bringing crime. They`re rapists.
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The American
people are sick and tired of hearing about your damned emails.
HILLARY CLINTON (D), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Thank you. Me too!
SANDERS: You know?
TRUMP: Such a nasty woman.
CLINTON: And to all the little girls who are watching this, never doubt
that you are valuable and powerful.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
REID: Welcome back to HARDBALL. That was a highlight reel, if you will,
of some of the more memorable moments of 2016 in the presidential campaign.
This past year in politics was filled with plenty of memorable highs and
lows, so which were the most notable and what can we expect from 2017?
Let`s bring in our roundtable.
Joan Walsh, MSNBC political analyst and national affairs correspondent for
The Nation; Matt Vella, executive director of TIME magazine; and former
Congressman Harold Ford Jr., who`s also an MSNBC political analyst.
And you usually get up super early for “Morning Joe,” so thank you for
hanging around. Have you been working like 18 hours today?
HAROLD FORD JR., MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: When it`s you calling, it`s easy
REID: Oh, well, that`s very kind. Very kind. And but I`m going to start
with Matt first, as much I enjoyed the compliment, I`m going to go to Matt
REID: That was good. OK, that`s OK.
Top stories of the year. What does TIME determine to be the top story of
the year, the high and the low?
VELLA: Sure. Well, we had a presidential election. You may have heard.
REID: Did that happen?
VELLA: Yes, certainly. But I think in general, the rise of populism in
the United States, but all over the world, really sort of shook a lot of
people up and will be a story that`s definitely going to continue into
REID: Yes, absolutely. And, Joan, you know, that is something that I
think Americans – you know, we`re very compartmentalized in our own
country, but there really is a broader trend that`s taking place of these
nationalist movements. They`re very anti-immigrant. They have these
They`re all sort of triggered by the flood, the exodus of migrants and
refugees out of Syria and that part of the world and of Muslim immigrants.
What do we make of that in the United States, that we`re just a part of
JOAN WALSH, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: I think we have to be clear that
we`re a part of that wave. And I think what we saw happen in this election
for the first time outside of the South is that you had a cohort of white
people who really did vote as white people, who self-consciously chose
Donald Trump because he promised to make things great again, make things
white again, however you want to phrase that.
And I think it`s really important, as you say, to put it in the context of
a global movement, a global white nationalist movement against Muslims,
that`s also being aided and abetted by Vladimir Putin.
JOY REID, MSNBC GUEST HOST: Yes.
WALSH: Putin has links to a lot of these far-right characters, and has
sponsored meetings in St. Petersburg for some of these same folks. So, I
think it`s something that we really – in terms of looking backwards and
looking forwards, we really have to be walking and also thinking about what
to call it.
REID: You know, Harold Ford, Jr., I think that the rise of Russia, sort of
out of nowhere, Russia certainly roaring back to the sort of front row of
world dominant, world leadership, it`s got to also be considered a big
story for 2016.
HAROLD FORD, JR. (D-TN), FORMER U.S. CONGRESSMAN: Huge, obviously, so much
of this began with the vote in Great Britain, around Brexit, and we now
have a few other votes that will take place next year in some important
nations that can help determine the stability there and the kind of policy
we`ll have towards there.
I also think, in addition to the election and the rise of populism, and
we`ve seen a kind of tribal kind of approach and focus on voting and
elections, politics in the Democratic Party, in the Republican Party, have
changed dramatically, and it`s going to cause a rethinking and I think
almost a re-imagination and reinvention for Democrats.
If we were hitting here six to eight weeks ago, we would say, the
Republicans are going to think long and hard about what their party looks
like next year. In fact, it`s the Democrats, my party, that`s having to do
that. So, I think there are a lot of stories and pivot off Matt`s primary
point, politics, and the outcome of this election.
REID: Absolutely. And speaking of Donald Trump, here`s Donald Trump back
in July during the Republican National Convention, accepting his party`s
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT-ELECT: I have joined the political arena so
that the powerful can no longer beat up on people who cannot defend
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
Nobody knows the system better than me – which is why I alone can fix it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
REID: Matt, you know the rise of the American strong man form of politics,
where it`s all about, I am the state, I alone can fix it, which is a bigger
story? That rise of the strong man form of politics, or the sort of
flipping of that on its head, now that Donald Trump is putting together an
administration that mostly is comprised of the 0.1 percent.
MATT VELLA, TIME: Well, I think the conventions are really interesting
thing to look back at this year, because that point, specifically, that
line, “I alone can fix it,” I think was misread by so many people. So many
people after that said, it looks like the performance of power. It looks
like the performance of competence. It`s not the same thing.
But that message really cut through, as we saw during the election. And
actually, both conventions, if you look back at the coverage, there was a
lot of negative coverage of the Republican convention for being kind of
haphazard, compared to the Democrats, more well-planned convention.
But I think if 25 years of reality television has taught us anything, it`s
that the hot mess is always way more interesting to watch than the
pageantry. And I think we`ve seen that in the rollout of his cabinet,
we`ve seen that in the Twitter statements about the nuclear arsenal. This
sort of chaotic and unconventional approach to messaging is something that
has captivated people in a way that the traditional –
FORD: And the role.
WALSH: And again, you know, in terms of how politics change this year,
there used to be a truism that the party with the more forward-looking,
optimistic message did better. And I remember thinking, and I think,
saying to you, in Cleveland, it was a hot mess and it was a really dark,
dystopic mess, you know? It was not morning in America, anymore. It was
midnight. Or, you know –
REID: It was called the “midnight in America” speech.
WALSH: Right. It was really designed to scare you. You had people who
had lost their children to – allegedly to violence by illegal immigrants.
And it was really, really just kind of scary and creepy. And I really –
you know, again, I missed a lot last year, I`ve got to admit it. I felt
that this was going to bode really poorly for them.
But that message carried.
REID: Well, let`s talk about the other thing I personally think was the
big one of the campaign. People thought it was the “Access Hollywood”
tape, Harold Ford, Jr., but it turned out it was James Comey. Do we have
time to play James Comey in July?
Let`s play James Comey talking about Hillary Clinton`s e-mails.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAMES COMEY, FBI DIRECTOR: Although we did not find clear evidence that
Secretary Clinton or her colleagues intended to violate laws governing the
handling of classified information, there is evidence that they were
extremely careless in their handling of very sensitive, highly classified
(END VIDEO CLIP)
REID: Harold Ford, Jr., that was certainly unprecedented. When we look
back on the 2016 election, will the FBI director making himself a part of
the campaign be looked at as the moment or one of the top moments that
changed the outcome of the campaign?
FORD: It would have to be viewed as one of the top moments. And I
actually think that moment was bigger than a moment a few days before the
election, because I thought it was unprecedented for an FBI director whose
job is not to do – he did his job and made the recommendation, his job was
not to come out and then explain that, because it was still up to the
Justice Department to do whatever they chose to do. They didn`t have to
follow the recommendation. But there`s no doubt that that was one of the
In addition, I think, unfortunately, for my team, two moments that rank
with that, unfortunately, one was that we didn`t have an economic message
that was clearly understood by a vast majority of the country, and it
didn`t resonate. We had a position on every position you can imagine. But
we didn`t have a coherent, cohesive message.
FORD: And two, I don`t think Secretary Clinton meant as much harm as it
was perceived, but when she used the term to describe some of his
supporters as being deplorables.
FORD: If you look at the data, that move more independent-leaning voters,
that moment more than any moment in the last 30 to 40 days of the campaign.
REID: Yes, it also changed Twitter. About 4,000 gazillion Twitter handles
with deplorable were born.
Thank you very much. Everybody is staying right here.
When we come back, our panel is going to tell us, we`re going to completely
change the tone and have these three tell of their favorite movie of the
This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
REID: Tonight, Rachel Maddow sits down one-on-one with Kellyanne Conway,
to discuss the Trump transition and her newly announced role in the Trump
White House. That`s tonight at 9:00 p.m. Eastern on “THE RACHEL MADDOW
SHOW”, right here on MSNBC.
HARDBALL`s back right after this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, “HOME ALONE”/20TH CENTURY FOX)
MACAULAY CULKIN AS KEVIN MCCALLISTER: I took a shower washing every body
part with actual soap, including all my major crevices, including in
between my toes and in my belly button, which I never did before but sort
of enjoyed. I washed my hair with adult formula shampoo and used cream
rinse for that just washed shine. I can`t seem to find my toothbrush so
I`ll pick one up when I go out today. Other than that, I`m in good shape.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
REID: We are back.
That was a scene from 1990s classic “Home Alone”, where Kevin McCallister
famously made his family disappear.
Some of you won`t be that fortunate. But before we father our families
together, we really like to celebrate the holidays and consume massive
amounts of eggnog, we want to talk about our favorite Christmas movies.
And for that, I`m back with our panel, Joan Walsh, Matt Vella and Harold
All right. Matt, you`re the newbie at this table. What`s your favorite
VELLA: It`s “Home Alone.”
REID: That is your favorite.
VELLA: What kid doesn`t dream about –
REID: We`re geniuses in putting together the opening sound bite.
VELLA: Yes. But what kid doesn`t dream about being emancipated from his
family for Christmas.
REID: Yes, but only for like a day or two until you realize no one will
cook your food or do your laundry.
VELLA: But then it`s a story about him and his relationship with old man
Marley and the power of forgiveness.
REID: And he was so adorable back then.
WALSH: He was super adorable.
REID: Joan, what`s your favorite Christmas movie?
WALSH: “Elf.” Can`t beat “Elf.” He`s a little big to be an elf. And
just hooks up with his father, who`s, you know, kind of a Grinch figure and
melts his heart and brings us Christmas spirit. We watch it every year at
REID: Yes, absolutely. It is a very heart-warming movie. I will say the
executive producers of my other gig have designated him an elf, because his
middle name is Olaf and that`s a very elfy name. So James is an Elf.
How about you, Harold Ford?
FORD: Mine is a little unusual, “Trading Places.” It`s a Christmas movie.
You had the rich guys take on the little guys and the little guys won.
It`s a little complicated how they became little guys together, but it
takes on stereotypes and if you provide people a little opportunity, they
can overcome things. I`m a big Eddie Murphy fan. So –
REID: Yes, absolutely. I actually got two entries in. One I think is
important is all of the different versions of “A Christmas Carol”, right?
I mean, it`s a classic tale of the haves and have-nots and finding your
humanity after cruelty and greed. I think we`re also going back to the
Dickens era so we might as well go ahead and start watching it.
But my favorite Christmas movie is “A Charlie Brown Christmas.” I think we
might have a clip of my favorite scene of it. Oh, I can – there it is.
Do you hear that? Do you hear them singing?
Merry Christmas, Charlie Brown. That is my favorite scene in the movie.
My kids and I sing that version of that song around our house.
What is your favorite Christmas tradition? What do you do that`s special?
WALSH: We watch “Elf.” We do stockings the night before and I guess
that`s mainly it.
REID: Yes, how about you, Matt?
VELLA: Well, I actually like to put on the Vince Giraldi album of that
REID: Yes, a Charlie Brown has one of the greatest soundtracks ever.
FORD: My kids are little so we`re starting – my daughter turned 3 today,
happy birthday, sweetheart. She`s watching. And my son is 1 1/2.
We go to church at 11:00. I go to church at 11:00, my wife and I do. The
kids, we play with them. We get home, my wife and I listen to a “Little
Silent Night” by the Temptations, which I did as a kid. And we continue
All right. The roundtable is going to stay with us.
And up next, these three will tell me something I don`t know.
You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.
REID: All right. And we are back.
Joan, tell me something I don`t know.
WALSH: The DNC chair race is shaping up. Ilyse Hogue of NARAL decided not
to run this week.
WALSH: And unfortunately, it really is being set up as a proxy battle
between Labor Secretary Tom Perez and Congressman Keith Ellison, which I
think is unfortunate because I think they`re great people. There are other
great people –
REID: Like a proxy for Bernie versus –
WALSH: Sanders/Clinton or, you know, President Obama versus Sanders.
And Keith Ellison stepped out to try to take himself out of that box, I
believe it was this morning, tweeting a story about how people have to stop
passing on right wing memes about Hillary Clinton being corrupt or losing
the election because she was corrupt. And he was completely attacked by a
lot of people, a lot of former supporters on Twitter. He got a lot of
support but he also got a lot of negativity.
REID: He`s his own person. He existed before Bernie Sanders. Hello?
WALSH: There are two great people. There are four or five great people in
the race. It should be interesting.
REID: Should be very interesting.
VELLA: Well, over 1,000 babies were born this year in refugee camps in
Greece of Syrians who fled the conflict there. The refugee crisis is an
easy story to forget when there`s not something like the fall of Aleppo
happening. But I certainly think it`s going to be important next year and
that`s why “Time” is following four families, four children throughout the
year next year to see what happens.
REID: It`s an important story in and of itself. It is also the thing
that`s feeding the rise of right wing nationalism in Europe. It`s a huge
story. It`s very important.
FORD: I think one of the things that will strengthen the Democratic Party
over the next year, picking the right chairman. That market will work
itself out. But I think the re-emergence of something in the party that
speaks to the middle of the country and middle class voters, not in
antagonistic way to the DNC, but something that speaks directly to voters,
and it could be run by somebody that might have run against Nancy Pelosi in
the Congress who tries to give voice to how we expand this party.
REID: Tim Ryan.
FORD: Tim Ryan.
REID: But I think you cannot leave behind the real base of the party,
which is African-Americans, which is people of color. I think any message
that spurns black and brown people –
FORD: But that message is – I`m one of those people, too. No doubt about
Well, thank you very much, Joan, Matt and Harold.
That is HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us. And from all of us at
HARDBALL to all of you, our wonderful crew here and everyone, merry
Christmas, happy holidays, happy Hanukkah, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.
“ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES” starts right now.
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