Melissa Harris-Perry, Transcript 08/22/15
JANET MOCK, MSNBC ANCHOR: Good morning. I`m Janet Mock.
ARI MELBER, MSNBC ANCHOR: I`m Ari Melber. Melissa is off today.
MOCK: This morning, our question. If you can shoot, reload and fight with
the best, can you serve with them too?
MELBER: And also the mega turnout for supposed GOP front-runner Donald
MOCK: And why for September magazines, black is the new black.
MELBER: But first, the one thing that is constant when changing the
Good morning to everyone out there and thank you for joining us. Lately
the Republican Party primary has felt more like a constitutional law class
as they`ve all been weighing in on the 14th Amendment to the U.S.
Constitution. Yes, that is the foundational 1868 ruling granting
citizenship to everyone, quote, “born or naturalized in the United States.”
And that clause was originally written to establish that all formerly
enslaved and free African-Americans were unquestionably citizens. And
since then courts have read it to mean that anyone born on American soil is
automatically an American citizen no matter who their parents are or where
their parents came from.
And while it may be news to Donald Trump, that has been the precedent for
more than a century. As the Supreme Court held in 1898, the 14th Amendment
affirmed “the fundamental principle of citizenship by birth in the most
explicit and comprehensive terms,” end quote. But Donald Trump and many of
his fellow Republican presidential contenders are saying that`s not how it
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You want to get rid of birthright citizenship?
DONALD TRUMP: You have to get rid of it, yes. You have to.
I will propose we join every other developed country in the world, save
one, and put an end to the automatic citizenship for children born here to
I think that`s something we should, yeah, absolutely going forward.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We should end birth certificates?
TRUMP: To me it`s about enforcing the law.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I`m not a big fan of the idea that you come here, have
a child, you`re automatically a citizen.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It doesn`t make any sense to me that people can come in
here and have a baby and that baby becomes an American citizen.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Birthright citizenship is sort of a forgiveness. You
break a law. You come in and have a child, but then we - that`s fine, the
child is here now. The child is a citizen. I think if you have an open
border, that`s a mistake.
SEN. CRUZ: We should end granting automatic birthright citizenship to the
children of those who are here illegally.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: It`s a long list of people holding that position. But because of
the precedent here, the federal precedent I was just mentioning before the
Supreme Court, to change this would basically require a constitutional
amendment. Now, while that amendment is not likely to get very far, you`d
need a super majority in the Congress and the states, it is worth pausing
to understand just how radical this Trump approach would be. I don`t mean
radical on today`s political spectrum left and right. I mean radical as
compared to every other amendment involving citizenship or voting in our
Look at it like this. Of the 17 total amendments passed since the Bill of
Rights, seven, governed citizenship and political power, give or take.
Every one of those operates not too narrow what it means to be an American,
but to protect and expand it. The 26th Amendment ratified in 1971 lowered
the voting age from 21 to 18, expanding the franchise to 11 million people
at the time. The 24th Amendment, 1964, allowed all eligible people to vote
whether or not they had the means to pay those poll taxes. The 23rd
Amendment, 1961, that was the first time that people living in the nation`s
capital had the right to vote in presidential elections, so that was new
for them. 1920, the 19th amendment, gave women unquestionably the right to
vote, expanding the franchise to 20 million people that year. 1913, the
17th amendment allowed voters to directly elect their U.S. senators for the
very first time, removing that power from state legislatures. The 15th
amendment that was back in 1870 gave the right to vote to all citizens
regardless of race or color although, of course, we know the imposition of
Jim Crow laws in the South curtailed that, a battle that continued for
But the bigger point here is all of these amendments enhanced the legal
definition of who is an American. Who exercises power in our democracy
and, thus, essentially who belongs? And that brings us back to the 14th
Amendment ratified in 1868, which for the first time in nation`s - in our
nation`s history gave American citizenship to black Americans, 4.9 million
of them in 1870, whose compelled labor had built the U.S. into an economic
powerhouse, who had been bought and sold as chattel, who were counted not
even as full people, as we know, as 3/5 of a person in our original
They finally became citizens for the very first time under the 14th
Amendment`s guarantee of citizenship to people born here regardless of who
their parents were. And now 150 years later we find ourselves talking
about whether to revoke that constitutional guarantee mostly because of
this guy, Republican Presidential Candidate Donald Trump. And last night
he reiterated his claim that birthright and citizenship is in his view
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: So we have 300,000 babies a year. 300,000 that you have to take
care of. We all have to take care of. And, you know, in the case of other
countries including Mexico, they don`t do that. It doesn`t work that way.
We`re the only place just about that`s stupid enough to do it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Joining us now to deal with that stupid, Jamal Greene, professor
of law and vice dean at the Columbia Law School. Also with us Juan
Cartagena, president and general counsel of the civil rights organization,
Latino Justice. Good morning to both of you. Jamal and Janet Mock will be
with us for all two hours as the co-host since we are sitting here - we`ll
get as well. But Jamal, Donald Trump says it`s stupid. We just walked
through the history. What is going on that mainstream figures and
conservative politics want to go this far backwards?
JAMAL GREENE, VICE DEAN COLUMBIA LAW SCHOOL: Well, it`s a good question.
You know, usually when conservatives talk about the Constitution they say,
well, we can`t change this document. We can never change it. But suddenly
when it comes to the 14th Amendment and a provision of the Constitution
that`s actually expanding rights to people of color, suddenly it`s an
archaic document, we have to change it and amend it.
MELBER: Can you think of anytime that we`ve had an amendment to actually
narrow citizenship or political power like this?
GREENE: No. As you mentioned in the lead-up, all of the amendments that
deal with what it means to be an American, questions of citizenship, have
been expansive. There is a constitutional amendment that restricted rights
and that was prohibition. And, of course, we repealed that shortly after.
So, it`s really not been within our tradition to restrict rights through
MOCK: I find it so interesting this idea that we`re trying to restrict
instead of expand the idea what is American. I want to bring you in here.
Some of these people are saying that we don`t actually have to change the
Constitution to revoke birthright citizenship. Is that true?
JUAN CARTAGENA, PRES. & GEN COUNSEL, LATINOJUSTICE PRLDEF: It`s
inconsistent with every case, the side of this issue. Going back to the
1800s, a famous case of Wong Kim Ark, which the child of Chinese parents in
the United States was deemed to be a citizen of the United States because
born in the United States. Even though the Chinese parents in that
particular time, in 1800s, were excluded from citizenship because the
Chinese exclusion law that defines citizenship at the time. So, it will be
- not only inconsistent with what the letter says, as Jamal says, the
actual meaning of - of the 14th Amendment, it will be inconsistent with
every decision by the Supreme Court.
MELBER: And that - I mean this is an important conversation, but this is
being brought up in such a silly way with Donald Trump. And as you`re
explaining, the federal precedent doesn`t match what he`s saying. It`s the
way that he has this sort of fantasy baseball approach to politics,
anything he doesn`t like he just pretends it isn`t there.
MELBER: I do want to be fair to the Republican field and show – although
there were many candidates who feel this way, Jeb Bush has staked out a
little bit of a different ground here. Let`s look at that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JEB BUSH (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE : Look, this is a constitutionally
protected right, and I don`t support revoking it to suggest that people
born in this country are not United States citizens and they don`t have
this in the Constitution, I just reject out of hand.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: So, there`s not only a bit of an ideological division here, there
seems to be a division over dealing with facts as they are. Jeb Bush,
whatever you think of his politics, seems to understand the history and the
precedent you just referred to and Donald Trump either doesn`t or doesn`t
CARTAGENA: Well, because he thinks it`s a quick fix. We can do it tomorrow
if we wanted to. Let`s just pass the law. Actually - president sign an
executive order. It makes no sense. There is no quick fix to this. It`s
a constitutional amendment. It will take - the last time this country even
tried the constitutional amendment was equal rights amendment. It took
seven plus years to try to get women`s rights enshrined in the
Constitution. It didn`t succeed. It was a long, arduous, and lengthy
MOCK: So, Jamal, if we didn`t define citizenship as from birthright, how
would we define it then?
GREENE: Well, the main alternative is defining citizenship based on
whether your parents were a citizen. That`s how some other countries do
it. I just spent time in Japan this summer. And that`s how it basically
works there. And it`s really difficult to overstate how much that goes
against the American tradition of saying we don`t define citizenship in
ethnicized terms and bloodlines terms and racialized terms. The Dred Scott
decision of 1857, which is what the 14th Amendment was designed to overturn
did exactly that. It`s that if you`re an African slave or descendent of an
African slave, you can never be an American citizen. And we were trying to
go away from that precedent with the 14th Amendment and saying, look, we
don`t do bloodlines here.
MELBER: Right. And you look at the scale of this. We were looking at
this in our “Nerdland” research, U.S.-born children with at least one
immigrant parent, that`s 15 million people. And we`re thinking about that
community, and so this isn`t just rhetoric. At a certain point it`s really
concerning to have a political conversation and saying we need to amend
this to go backwards, to make these people un-American it seems to traffic
somewhere else - uncomfortable at the conversation, which is the feeling
that it`s appealing to some antiquated notion of white ethnic politics.
GREENE: Right. If you look at the Statue of Liberty, right, it says - you
know, bring your poor, your tired, your huddled masses. It doesn`t say
bring your white, your Anglo-Saxon, your Protestant.
GREENE: It`s that`s the ideal that the Civil War was fought over.
MELBER: All right. Let`s continue on this. We have a lot more to
discuss. So, stay with us. When we come back, the story of how all this
radical talk about immigration can turn in some cases violent.
MOCK: In Boston, on Tuesday night two men were arrested for allegedly
beating a homeless man so badly that he was hospitalized. Both suspects
are white, the victim is Latino. Massachusetts state police said the
suspects targeted the victim because they thought he was an undocumented
immigrant. Police told the “Boston Globe” that one of the suspects
allegedly said, quote, “Donald Trump was right. All these illegals need to
be deported.” A spokesman for the state police declined to comment to us
on “The Globe`s” report. We want to be really clear here that we cannot
claim - and we are not claiming that Trump`s stump speech caused this
alleged attack directly or indirectly, but rhetoric doesn`t exist in a
vacuum. Words can matter. Trump has built his presidential campaign on
bombastic rhetoric around immigration and immigrants. In his campaign
announcement alone he declared that undocumented immigrants are drug
dealers, criminals, and rapists. And says that we should build a big,
beautiful wall to keep them out. Here is how Trump responded when asked
about the Boston attack at a press conference on Wednesday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I haven`t heard about that. I think that would be a shame. But I
haven`t heard about that. I will say, the people that are following are
very passionate. They love this country. They want this country to be
great again and they are very passionate. I will say that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MOCK: We reached out to Trump`s campaign yesterday to clarify those
remarks and asked, does your candidate believe that this is the right way
for his followers to express their passion? Soon after Trump tweeted this
quote. “Boston incident is terrible. We need energy and passion, but we
must respect each other, treat each other with respect. I would never
So, Juan, for me as a writer, the power of words, I believe that they carry
something. So I wanted to know how much does a campaign`s rhetoric – a
candidate`s rhetoric affect that? What is that power? What weight does it
CARTAGENA: It`s not just candidates. It`s all of - it`s every elected
official who believes that being anti-immigrant – so Mr. Trump is doing it
because he`s running for office. But all these words, all this rhetoric
does not help. We can`t make cause and effect here, of course, as you said
at the opening. But the fact of the matter is, we have to change the
hearts and minds of Americans, and recognize the value that all immigrants
give to this country. And we`re not going to get that far if we continue
to hear this rhetoric about generalizing on entire nation of Mexicans as
rapists is completely unheard of and completely uncalled for. It doesn`t
help move the dial. And that`s the problem. We expect more from our
leaders and we expect more from our candidates for presidential office.
MOCK: So, we`ve been kind of talking about the idea of, you know, about
the Constitution. So what are the obligations of a public figure to - with
GREENE: Well, it`s a good question what their obligations are. They, of
course, have a right like anyone else has a right under the law to say
whatever they want. The Constitution gives you the right to make an ass of
yourself if that`s what you want to do. But when you`re running for a
public office, when you are a public figure, especially if you`re running
for president, you`re really running, I think, to be kind of grown-up in
chief. So, the fact that you`re able to do something doesn`t mean that it
should be done. And it`s very important for public figures to understand
that they have a platform and people are watching and watching what they
say and people – Donald Trump talks about political correctness as if it`s
a dirty word. But it`s really just about responsibility. It`s about being
a respectful person, being a decent person and using that as an example.
MELBER: Well, yeah, you mentioned political correctness and that`s his
intention, right? The wider context of this - presidential politics is, we
have crimes of violence related to hate and racism and ethnic tension.
Hate crimes in 2013 against Latinos alone, according to the FBI 331. So
you`re talking about that, essentially at a daily rate and that`s what`s
reported. Of course we had this terrible incident of domestic terrorism
and mass murder at a black church, which exists in context.
And yet when you look at what the candidates are saying there and the sort
of the mood of Donald Trump, what he`s tapping into is something very
different than that, a notion that the people who are actually somewhat
oppressed, are Americans who feel whatever you want to call it, social
pressure not to say certain things. How do you put that spirit that he`s
trying to appeal to? Because every time he`s called on anything, he says,
oh, well, this is political correctness. That was literally the start of
the famous Fox News debate fight where he said, oh, because he`s being
called on sexism that`s politically correctness.
GREENE: Well, this is the kind of politics of victimization and saying
that anyone on your side is being victimized in a particular way and we`ve
seen it before. This is not the first time we`ve seen this.
MELBER: Do you think, though, that he`s speaking to something that also,
on the other hand has some sort of resonance? Because people say, oh,
yeah, I want to be able to say what I want to say?
CARTAGENA: Well, his first remarks it`s a shame. By the way, my followers
are passionate. So, he`s trying to basically say there`s a number of
people who follow me who feel this way and he`s trying to reach those
individuals, well, also in a way to describe what is ridiculous extreme
expression of passion. So we`re looking at a person who actually believes
that a lot of his followers are prepared to do anything to get the country
MELBER: Or make America …
MOCK: … great again.
MELBER: This thing is, Jen, you have to put the great in question marks
and then you`re good.
MELBER: I want to thank Jamal Greene and Juan Cartagena. Thanks so much
for joining us.
CARTAGENA: Thank you.
MELBER: This morning on MHP. Still to come, sex, drugs for ladies at long
last, but a new pill coming packed with controversy. And Donald Trump`s
big campaign rally last night. We`ve been showing you the pictures. What
did you see, a stadium half full or half empty?
MELBER: Welcome back. We have a pretty amazing story and an update here
on heroism abroad. Two U.S. military veterans and another American
civilian confronted and took down a dangerous gunman on a train in France
yesterday. Listen to this story if you haven`t heard it. The gunman
walked in with an AK-47, opened fire aboard a train that was headed to
Paris and wounded a passenger. So, Specialist Alek Scarlatos of the Oregon
National Guard and Airman First Class Spencer Stone rushed that would-be
terrorist and disarmed him.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ALEK SKARLATOS, NATIONAL GUARDSMAN: Spencer ran a good ten meters to get
to the guy, and we didn`t know that his gun wasn`t working or anything like
that. Spencer just ran anyway, and if anybody would have gotten shot, it
would have been Spencer for sure. And we`re very lucky that nobody got
killed, especially Spencer.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Stone was injured, but is expected to be all right. A British man
Chris Norman and another American, a college student named Anthony Sadler
held down the gunman until help arrived.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANTHONY SADLER, AMERICAN COLLEGE STUDENT: Just a college student, it`s my
last year in college, I came to see my friends on my first trip in Europe
and we stopped the terrorists. It`s kind of crazy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Joining us now from London is NBC`s Kelly Cobiella. Kelly, the
details still pouring in about this act of bravery exciting a lot of people
here and everyone glad there weren`t more injuries. How are these people
doing and what else can you tell us today?
KELLY COBIELLA, NBS CORRESPONDENT: Oh, it`s extraordinary, isn`t it? The
actions of these young men on this train from Amsterdam to Paris last
night. The guys appear to be doing quite well, if a little stunned by it
all. In fact, two of them doing so well, those two right there, Anthony
and Alek that they`re preparing to speak to reporters again in the next
half hour or so. Spencer Stone, their friend, the member of the Air Force
who was the first to go after the gunman, is still in the hospital today.
He has a pretty serious cut on his neck and also on his thumb. He was
expected to have surgery, but fully recover. The mayor of Arras in France
said that Spencer is doing relatively well considering. Anthony Sadler`s
parents spoke from their home in California. They said they are stunned
and relieved and can`t wait to have Anthony back home.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SADLER: As for the incident itself, (INAUDIBLE) went to have fun with his
buddies and he comes back France`s national hero. I`m still wrapping my
head around that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COBIELLA: And a British businessman also helped. He helped to tie up the
suspect. All four of these men were given medals by the mayor of Arras and
they have an invitation to meet the president - the French president late
this week in Paris.
MOCK: Thank you to NBC`s Kelly Cobiella in London.
Now to news here at home, the 29,000 firefighters battling about 100
different raging wildfires across the West are getting some expert help
from across the globe. More than 70 firefighting experts from Australia
and New Zealand will arrive in Idaho tomorrow before being dispatched to
California, Oregon, and Washington states. These crews are experienced in
dealing with large wildfires on similar terrain. Earlier this week three
firefighters were killed in Washington when their vehicle crashed and was
overtaken by flames. Joining me now from Pateros, Washington, is NBC`s
Leanne Gregg. Leanne?
LEANNE GREGG, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Janet. Resources have been a
huge issue from the very beginning because there are just too many fires
and not enough people even though they`re using active duty military,
National guardsmen, every wildfire crew in America is here somewhere in the
West fighting a fire. It`s still not enough. You mentioned the contingent
from Australia and New Zealand. Those experts will be a help. In
addition, unprecedented actions from the Department of Natural Resources
asking volunteers to join in this fight and they had a huge response, 3,000
people signed up immediately. Today, 200 of them will undergo some
training for deploying emergency fire shelters and some other basics.
They`re really hoping to get people who are already certified firefighters
and people who know how to use heavy equipment, that will be a huge help
whether they are used and when they can be used, the volunteers, that is,
will be based on firefighting personnel. Those who can monitor them, take
them into the areas, and direct them because that is an issue, just having
enough people to do that.
Currently, evacuation orders remain in effect for at least six towns and
multiple rural areas. Thousands of homes in this region continue to be
threatened. They know that homes were lost within the last 48 hours
because of the huge wind that whipped up in some areas gusting up to 60
miles an hour, but at this point they just don`t know how many homes.
The fire behavior and performance and meteorology, all is now under
investigation as it led to the death of the three firemen Wednesday. That
could take months. Again, firefighters will be back on the lines today
hoping to make some progress. Janet, Ari?
MOCK: Thank you to NBC`s Leanne Gregg in Pateros, Washington.
MELBER: And now we are updated on the big stories. Up next, Donald Trump
takes Alabama by storm.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: You know, if it rains, I`ll take off my hat and I`ll prove …
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
TRUMP: I`ll prove …
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
TRUMP: I`ll prove once and for all that it`s mine, OK?
MELBER: Welcome back to the “MHP” show. Ari Melber and Janet Mock in
today, and if you`ve been thinking that Donald Trump`s campaign is
basically media buzz or it`s just about his money or a little unreliable
August polling surge, then his event in Alabama last night may have you
rethinking Donald Trump`s staying power. He drew a crowd so bit there`s
really no comparison to any other candidate in his party. You`d have to go
over to Bernie Sanders or, even, perish the thought, Barack Obama in 2007,
to actually find a crowd count during a primary of crowds this size.
20,000 people last night. And the event was full of bravado with Trump
flying his private jet over a football stadium in Mobile on arrival. And
while 20,000 people is a huge show of force, that`s just a political fact,
Trump`s aides still managed to undercut their own success with some
premature bragging. They suggested he draw 40,000 and fill that stadium.
Now, that didn`t happen. But Trump did recount the swelling interest in
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: We had a hotel - about 250 or 300 people, and the hotel was great.
They called, they said something is happening here, we can`t hold this.
This is crazy what`s going on. And then we went to the convention center
and they can have 10,000 people. And we`re all set and we are excited, and
the next day, they said too many people. We can`t put them in. So we came
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: And joining me now from Mobile, Alabama, on the trail NBC News
campaign embed Ali Vitali. You look at this, Ali. Talk to us from your
experience in reporting out there from the vantage point of a skeptical
viewer who says, look, I get it, he`s famous. There`s buzz, but is this
really a real political momentum at this point? Tell us what you found.
ALI VITALI, NBC NEWS CAMPAIGN EMBED: Yeah, all right. I mean you and I
were talking yesterday before the event. And you could hear that there was
a party atmosphere in here. And a lot of the people that I spoke to
outside actually echoed that sentiment. They all really seem to be saying
that they were there both for the experience, but also to hear what he had
to say and what the likes that he had to say is, his policies on
immigration, they talked a lot about how he seems to really support
veterans. How he wants to bolster the military. I was talking to one
female veteran outside who was saying that she feels that he`s really the
person to represent her and to give her what she needs as a veteran and as
someone who has ties to the military. And then another woman actually this
morning while we were standing here came out saying that she missed the
event last night, she came right from work, she hadn`t slept yet, but she
just wanted to be here to see what it was all about and be close to what
she said was greatness.
So, people are coming out because they feel that he`s resonating in a
political way as well. I mean one of the local officials that I talked to
hear said that the unfiltered talk is really cutting through the people
that maybe otherwise wouldn`t be motivated by this process.
So, I think that when you see crowds of this size, I mean, I wasn`t
expecting to see thousands of people so early on especially in the late
days of summer when the focus isn`t always on politics like it is for
people like you and I.
But I mean …
MELBER: Speak for yourself, Ali.
VITALI: But I mean when you see people of - coming out. Yeah, no. We
MELBER: Please, you know, speak for yourself.
VITALI: But really …
MELBER: I don`t want to be profiled as a political junkie. I don`t think
that`s fair to my diversity, but go on.
VITALI: You`re right. You are right. I`m sorry to pigeonhole you.
VITALI: But really when you see crowds of this size coming out here, you
really have to take a look at it in a serious way and say, you know,
something is really building here and Trump calls it a movement when we
were up in New Hampshire. And I think that there is some believability to
that. When you see people turning out here, whatever their motivation to
see him at this early point in the campaign, it`s huge and it really is
something that we should be taking notice of.
MELBER: Yeah, and that`s the big political question as those numbers now.
Thanks, as always, Ali. It was Ali traveling with Trump in Mobile,
Alabama. We turn now to syndicated columnist Bob Franken, a veteran
reporter who has covered many presidential campaigns. So we want your
expertise here. Does the crowd size and the field momentum present
something of a turning point for a candidacy that many had initially
BOB FRANKEN, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: Well, is it premature to wonder who his
vice presidential nominee is going to be?
MELBER: I think so. But does it matter that he can get these people in
states that are part of the GOP primary calendar?
FRANKEN: Well, I think that right now he continues to be in the minds of
many, the flavor of the month. Maybe the flavor of two months or anything
like that. But he is also somebody – and I`m sort of getting into Janet`s
wheelhouse here, he`s somebody who scores very high when it comes to the
search engines, that type of thing. He hasn`t really needed an
organization. He`s been able to rely on his celebrity. It was a
masterstroke to have him buzz in his jet to the stadium. But there`s also
a danger when you have to suddenly go into a stadium because some of the
stories today we`re talking about the fact that the stadium was half empty,
not half full. And there`s always a danger with that and look no further
than 2012 and Mitt Romney where he gave a very important speech in Detroit
about his economic plan and all that kind of thing, but he did it in a
65,000 seat stadium, Ford field in Detroit.
MELBER: Yeah, we`re putting up some of that Romney footage in 2012.
FRANKEN: Right. Right.
MELBER: It looks silly.
FRANKEN: To see. But you don`t remember anything about that economic
plan, but you do remember everything about those 64,000 empty seats. That
was a real mess-up when it came to the staff scheduling it there.
MELBER: But we do know that in presidential politics, which is different
than other races, when you run for the house, there is not as much emphasis
in the media or in the political class on crowd size. It`s just not a
dynamic. And it is in presidential politics because of the necessity of
finding people and turning them out in the primaries. And also then it
becomes interactive with your message. We know that Barack Obama`s early
crowds reflected something that hadn`t caught up yet in the polls, it was a
big part of what they said was a movement campaign. Donald Trump is doing
something very different, much more top down, much more as a celebrity.
But take a listen to him invoking his crowds in New Hampshire as a
distinction with Jeb Bush.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I love these rowdy crowds. Isn`t it great, this spirit?
TRUMP: This spirit. You know what - I`ll tell you what - you know, it`s
happening to Jeb`s crowd as you know, right down the street? They`re
sleeping. They`re sleeping now. My group. These are my people.
TRUMP: These are my people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Bob, how important is it to his candidacy that he invoke all these
real people to distract from the fact that in many other ways he`s not like
a lot of American voters being worth $10 billion and being a celebrity?
FRANKEN: Well, you know, there is sort of a paradox here. He has marketed
the fact from the get go and certainly now on the campaign that he is not
like the American people. He`s more like their aspirations. And he`s been
very successful with that. He`s very quick to talk about how rich he is,
how smart he is. We all know all that. And it`s a kind of thing that
coming from somebody else would probably antagonize people. But they are
loving it. And as far as the crowds are concerned at the stadium last
night, he looked out at the crowd at one point and said it reminded him of
Billy Graham that he was reminding himself with Billy Graham who could pack
a stadium, too, that kind of thing.
Right now I think developing crowds, attracting crowds is something that is
kind of self-feeding, it`s self-fulfilling. And it means that he can go
out and say that he has a groundswell coming up. And he has some
credibility when he says it.
FRANKEN: Right. And that`s something Republicans will ultimately test when
they vote. Thanks to Bob Franken for the analysis coming to us from
MOCK: Still to come this morning there`s the little known political figure
starting to give Trump a run for his money in Iowa.
The story of the presidential candidate known simply as …
MELBER: Well, and how to make a billion dollars in a day. As if we needed
more proof that sex sells.
MOCK: On May 9, 1960, a sexual revolution arrived in a form of a tiny pink
tablet when the Food and Drug Administration approved the use of a drug
called Enovid as an oral contraceptive. The pill, the first ever drug
prescribed for use by healthy people, gave millions of women unprecedented
control over their reproductive health, by providing an easy and effective
way to plan for or avoid pregnancy. The pill helped to usher in a new era
of economic and sexual freedoms for women. Nearly 40 years later in 1998
came the launch of what “The New York Times” called the second sexual
revolution, when the FDA gave approval to drug maker Pfizer to sell Viagra
as a treatment for impotence. The main ingredient in the little blue pill
was originally studied for its ability to decrease high blood pressure, but
earned its reputation as a cure for male sexual dysfunction when it was
discovered to increase blood flow. Blood flow below the belt. In the
first year alone sales of the drug that became known as Pfizer`s riser
totaled $1 billion. But that billion dollar value has already been matched
in one day by a new tiny pink tablet that is being welcomed by some as the
next evolution in sexual healing. We`ll tell you what it is, who it
possibly could help, and the controversy surrounding it when we come back.
MELBER: Welcome back to “Melissa Harris-Perry`s story - Show.” We`re
looking at a live shot here of a story that we want to tell you about.
We`re expecting a press conference at some point in the next few minutes
hearing directly from those Americans who thwarted that attempted terror
attack in France, a story we`ve been keeping an eye on and a harrowing one.
So we will bring that to you. Now, we go back to the discussion we wanted
to have that Janet kicked off on sex drugs.
MOCK: Here we go, sex drugs. This week the Food and Drug Administration
gave its stamp of approval to the first drug designed to bring sexy back to
women who have lost their sex drive. The pill created by drug maker
Sprouts Pharmaceuticals. It`s called Flibanserin and will be sold under
the brand name Addyi beginning on October 17. It is designed specifically
for women with hypoactive sexual desire disorder condition that causes a
loss in libido that`s unrelated to a medical or psychiatric condition. A
2002 study published by the National Institutes of Health reported that the
disorder may occur in up to one-third of adult women in the United States.
But while the tiny pink pill has been celebrated by some advocates as the
biggest thing to happen to women`s sexual health since the birth control
pill, it doesn`t exactly live up to the hype of being the female equivalent
of Viagra. First, Viagra fixes a mechanical problem by helping men achieve
an erection while Addyi addresses a mental one. It targets the chemicals
in a woman`s brain to stimulate desire. Addyi was originally abandoned in
its initial development as an antidepressant. It was seen as a failure
there. No one is sure exactly how it turns women on, but Addyi increases
the brain supply to - of dopamine and serotonin, which is believed to be
what actually flips the sex switch.
A woman who takes Addyi won`t get the same sexual - the same instant
gratification delivered to men taking Viagra. The drug must be taken every
day to be effective. And in clinical trials women who were given Addyi
reported just one more sexually satisfying experience per month than those
who took a placebo. But for women struggling with low libido some
improvement may be better than none, even at the cost of some serious
complications. It will be sold with the FDA`s black box warning, which
indicated that Addyi has very serious side effects. Addyi can cause low
blood pressure, fainting, nausea, dizziness and drowsiness risk can be
increased if taken with alcohol.
Those side effects are part of the reason why the FDA previously rejected
approval, not once but twice. The third time was apparently the charm for
Addyi largely because of an organized lobbying campaign for women`s health
groups who believe the drug represented a step toward gender equality,
equity in sexual health.
That campaign was funded in part by Sprout Pharmaceuticals and the pill has
already paid off big for the company. On Thursday, just two days after
Addyi was approved by the FDA Sprout was acquired by Valeant
Pharmaceuticals International for $1 billion. Cash.
Here at the table is Emily Nagoski, director of Wellness Education at Smith
College and author of “Come As You Are: The Surprising News of Science That
Will Transform Your Sex Life.” Joining us from Atlanta is Lynda Blount,
president and CEO at Black Women`s Health Imperative and from Washington,
D.C., is Cindy Pearson, executive director of the National Women`s Health
So, Emily, I want to thank you. I want to thank you all for being here.
But Emily, I want to start with you. Does Addyi live up to the hype?
EMILY NAGOSKI, AUTHOR, “COME AS YOU ARE”: Well, what the FDA analysis of
the data found was that 90 percent of the women who take the drug do not
get any benefit from the drug. Ten percent of the women taking the drug
got at least minimal benefit. So, there`s a small proportion of the women
in the study who did experience some benefits.
MELBER: We want to continue the conversation in a minute, but as we
mentioned earlier, we do have some breaking news, and we want to go right
now to France. We are hearing from those who helped take down that gunman
on a train traveling there yesterday. They are addressing the press, let`s
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tried to get him down then simply sit in the corner and
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: As it happened, were you in fear of your own life?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Initially, but then once you start moving you`re not
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: At what point did you realize it was a possible terror
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The moment I stood up and I saw a guy with an AKk-47.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: [ speaking in French ]
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oui, je parle Francais.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (speaking in French).
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, no, no, no, no. [speaking in French ]
MELBER: And they`ve shifted back into French. Again, a little more about
this story and why we`ve been following it so closely. An attempted terror
attack on a train yesterday in France. A man with an AK-47 barged into the
train, injured one person and then three people, two American service
members and a Brit, who I believe we are seeing there speaking, basically
rushed him, even though they didn`t have weapons, they beat him with one of
his guns, subdued him. Other passengers helped hold him down and the
incident ended with a few injuries. No fatalities. It could have been
obviously far, far worse. Those individuals, the two Americans as well, as
Chris Norman, the Brit who I believe we`re hearing speak right now,
although he`s in French and we`ll go back when he`s in English, but those
three men being hailed as heroes in averting something that could have been
much, much worse.
“The New York Times” reported on the story today. We can see a shot of
three of them there earlier at a different press availability. In “The New
York Times” reporting, reading from it they said, the suspect entered the
train car carrying an AK-47 and a handgun. And Alek Skarlatos, one of the
man said, I looked over at Spencer and said let`s go, and then they rushed
him, risking obviously their own lives trying to avert disaster. Let`s
listen in a little more to the press conference and see if they`re going to
English or not.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How do you feel?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Shaky. Shaky. [Speaking in French]
MELBER: So, we are listening more to it. They`re still speaking in
French. I want to be clear for American viewers, they started the press
conference partly in English, which is why we listened in. Again, a little
more on why the story has captivated people really obviously in Europe as
well as in the United States, an attempted terror attack thwarted by these
Americans as well as a Brit. One of them, we want to mention, still in the
hospital recovering from wounds that he sustained in thwarting the attack.
A thumb injury as well as some potential surgery. We are told he will be
Reading more from what Alek Skarlatos, the Oregon National Guardsman told
“The Times”, he said, in recounting this story of thwarting attack, he said
“The assailant jumped, I followed behind him by about three seconds.
Spencer got to the guy first, grabbed him by the neck. I grabbed the
handgun. Obviously, from what little we do know about these events
recently unfolding you would think that Mr. Skarlatos` military training
helpful there. As for Mr. Stone, the other person who helped thwart the
attack, he was severely cut by the suspect in the neck and hand, so he`s in
a hospital in northern France. Again, his injuries not life-threatening.
You can see on the screen there on our upper corner, the photo of these
men. The other American, is a young man whom his father here in America
was saying is a hero, was over in France basically as a student, and joined
in and helped out in this emergency.
MOCK: It seemed like such an obviously powerful story and an exhibit of
heroism, of course. Especially now that there are so many people who are -
- terrorism is on top of people`s minds. I know this is a suspected
MELBER: Right. As you say, Janet, it`s suspected terrorism when someone
walks onto a train, and we`ll listen back in. I think they`re back to
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Salute the courage of the French train driver, who was
actually sitting in the row just next to me.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Have you thought now that you`ve had time to absorb it,
have you thought about what might have happened had you not intervened?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now, yes. I don`t know. I mean, it`s very difficult
to really understand, I think.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When did it sink in?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When did it sink in? When I tried to close my eyes
[ speaking in French ]
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What my family said to me? They`re proud of me.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you married?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I`m married. In fact, my wife is currently looking
after our two grandchildren. I`d like to get back to be able to look after
them and help her. Her name is Martinne Di Amady (ph).
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What did they say to you about that?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don`t really know. I haven`t really spoken very much
to them. I`d just been able to – I wanted to deal with that privately.
[ speaking in French ]
MELBER: Again, we`re listening now to a live press conference from one of
the individuals who thwarted this attempted terror attack on the train in
France. They`ve been switching back and forth from English to French, and
we`ll go back in live when it is in English.
I want to mention as well, Janet, we`ve been talking about this big
breaking story over yesterday, and reaction is pouring in literally from
all over the world. The White House had put out a statement about this
saying we want to echo French authorities, President Obama expresses his
profound gratitude for the courage and quick thinking of several
passengers, including U.S. service members who selflessly subdued the
attacker. That`s the White House talking about this and President Obama
having been briefed on it.
The statement continues, while the investigation into the attack is in its
early stages, it`s clear that their heroic actions may have prevented a far
worse tragedy. We will remain in close contact with French authorities as
the investigation proceeds. That train was headed into Paris, and we know
Paris, like New York City and many other parts of the United States, has
experienced terror, has faced it, has seen it in various forms, bombs,
guns, solo, so-called lone wolf attacks, as well as wider planned attacks.
So we`ve really seen this in a great degree of ways. Early in the
investigation, we all know you can`t say too much with the authorities not
putting much out there about what this person was trying to do. Let`s
listen back in to this live presser.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was nothing more than that. We`ve seen enough of
these kinds of attacks to understand that they will kill everybody once
they get started. My point of view was that two guys who already started
working, already started tackling him, maybe they needed some help, and
mine was purely a survival. I said to myself, OK, maybe I have a chance if
I get up and I help as well.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did he put up much of a fight?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He put up quite a bit of a fight. But Spencer Stone is
a very strong guy. He actually held him very well, and Alek and Anthony
had a pretty good go at hitting him. In fact, what I did is I helped hold
his arm so he couldn`t get hold of his gun.
MELBER: Listening live to Chris Norman. One of the people being called a
hero, no overstatement there, in thwarting what looks to be an attempted
murder, attempted potential terrorism on a train heading into France.
Chris Norman has been going back and forth from English to French, and
we`ve been taking the English parts.
If you`re just joining us, I want to tell you some of the pretty remarkable
statements he just made. He said the reason why they were so willing to
immediately rush this attacker who had an AK-47 and walked on the train
they, quote, they will kill everyone when they get started. That was his
assessment in the moment. Obviously, a quick thinking situation, Janet.
MOCK: A popular train.
MELBER: Of what they had to do and Paris has seen some of these attacks.
I think many remember the ISIS sympathizers who used automatic weaponry to
execute. Everyone remembers the “Charlie Hebdo” attacks. He also said his
instincts, when people I mentioned earlier, everyone has been calling him
heroes, President Obama praising them. He said, quote, “This was purely
That is something I think anyone can relate to and yet, Janet, you just put
yourself in a situation based on what we do know about it. A lot of people
look up and see an assailant, they wouldn`t know what to do. Let`s listen
CHRIS NORMAN: We got him on the floor and I tied him up while Alexander
went to look for other terrorists.
REPORTER: What were you doing on the train –
NORMAN: No, I tied him up with a tie.
MELBER: Again, they`re alternating between English and French there,
listening to Chris Norman. As I was saying, Janet, he was referencing his
heroism in thwarting this attack along with these Americans, including two
service members and saying it was a survival instinct.
Quite honestly, I think that`s wonderful. I don`t know that everyone has
that quick thinking ability combined with the agility to go when you`re
unarmed and confront someone holding an automatic weapon.
MOCK: There always seems to be this thread between people who do heroic
acts and there`s this humility based there, right? Oh, no, no, we were
just going based on instinct. I agree with you, I don`t think that many
people`s instinct would be to just jump in and attack someone. He said
held – he, his part of it, talking about the incident, he held his arm so
that the other guy could grab the gun.
MELBER: Yes. And so, this was a quick thinking team effort, what they`re
calling survival, what many are calling heroism. We don`t know much beyond
the altercation about the motivations of this shooter when we talk about it
being potentially terrorism.
Authorities obviously thinking of that possibility because this seemed
wanton, it seemed to be an individual rushing a train. This is a high-
speed train. Chris Norman speaking in French live about this amazing,
I want to read as well from Secretary of State John Kerry saying, quote,
“Incredibly proud of the three American heroes who subdued the attacker on
the French train and wishing speedy recovery to those injured.”
As we mentioned earlier in the hour, NBC can confirm one individual in the
hospital, one injury on the train, no fatalities which, again, the start of
this story someone walking onto the train with an AK-47 to attack people
and subdued with no fatalities, many calling that something approaching a
MOCK: And the climate in France, we have to also be clear, French
lawmakers have passed tough surveillance laws in the wake of these attacks
in order to hopefully secure their country and ensure that citizens feel
safe at home. So, could you just imagine being on this train that is a
popular commuter train between France, Belgium and the Netherlands and
Germany and seeing something like this happen in this undertake?
MELBER: And I believe we`ll go back to the press conference.
NORMAN: Excuse me, I think I`d like to leave it at that. OK, guys? Thank
NORMAN: No, I don`t.
MELBER: We`re seeing there the conclusion of really a dramatic press
conference in Arras, France. Chris Norman, one of the people being held as
hero in helping subdue that attacker on the French train, the British
civilian. Now, he helped two take down a gunman traveling through France
If the U.S. servicemen come out and speak, we want to mention, we will
bring that as well. They`re receiving praise, as I mentioned, from
everyone from President Obama to Secretary of State John Kerry.
One of the other things I wanted to mention as we wrap the story, one of
the other people on the train talking about this, saying because of the way
this attack began, being stuck on a train, you`re obviously in a confined
space, one individual said I thought it was the end, that we were going to
die, that he was going to kill us all. We were all prisoners on the train.
It would have been impossible to escape that nightmare.
And that is why so many praising the heroism there.
That is what we have so far. We will continue to stay on the story as we
have all morning, Janet. I think we want to take a quick break and then
will reset. We have a lot more in our hour including some other stories of
very different nature and a lighter note. We`ve been talking about the
female sex drug. We have a lot of Beyonce.
So, stay with us.
MELBER: Welcome back.
We`ve been following that breaking story in France, hearing from the
individuals who helped thwart that attempted attack on a train yesterday.
We heard from Chris Norman, the Brit, recently and are expecting further
statements from some of the American servicemen who also confronted that
would-be attacker. We will bring that to you live.
But also, Janet, we want to continue with some of the other important
stories also going on, including the segment that we cut away from to take
that live news.
MOCK: Yes, before the breaking news we were discussing the controversial
new drug Addyi to treat low libido in women.
Here at the table still with us is Emily Nagoski, director of wellness
education at Smith College and an author of “Come As You Are: The
Surprising New Science that Will Transform Your Sex Life”.
Joining us from Atlanta is Linda Blount, president and CEO at Black Women`s
Health Imperative and from Washington, D.C., is Cindy Pearson, executive
director of the National Women`s Health Network.
So, Emily, I`m going to start back with you again. Thank you for being so
patient during all of this breaking news.
We were – I was describing how Addyi seems to be something that`s not so
much fixing a physical problem like Viagra with its instant gratification
after popping a pill. Addyi is something you have to take every single day
in order to achieve kind of what is a 10 percent increase?
EMILY NAGOSKI, SMITH COLLEGE: So, 10 percent of the women taking the drug
experience at least minimal benefits, and 90 percent of the women taking
the drug experience not even minimal benefits.
MOCK: So, is it even living up to the hype of the female Viagra
NAGOSKI: It certainly is not as effective as doing what it`s supposed to
do, as Viagra is supposed to do. It`s not as remotely close to effective
as pill is doing what it says. Imagine if only 10 percent of people found
that it was at least minimally effective at preventing birth.
MOCK: So, I wonder if it says something about our culture, right? The
fact that we`re making a big deal out of a 10 percent increase in this
Cindy, I actually want – I`d love to bring you into this discussion. How
much of demand for this drug is about a sexual dysfunction versus how women
feel about the perception that they may have a sexual dysfunction?
CINDY PEARSON, NATIONAL WOMEN`S HEALTH NETWORK: That`s a great question,
Janet, because so much of our experience of sexuality is entangled with our
experience of the culture around us at the time, 100 years ago women were
criticized if they expressed sexual desire as that being abnormal. Now
with the development of Viagra and now Addyi, women are being positioned,
some of them, to potentially feel an externally imposed problem. Not to
deny that some women themselves do experience lack of desire as a
So, it`s not simple but you`re right to point out that the external
creation, the marketing, the hype is not going to play out well for all
MOCK: That`s a great nuance that you bring into this. Linda, your work
centers the health of black women. Does Addyi, however imperfect it is, do
some good for more research in conversations about what turns many kinds of
LINDA BLOUNT, PRES. & CEO, BLACK WOMEN`S HEALTH IMPERATIVE: Well, it does.
It`s a great start and it`s a conversation we need to have but I probably
take a slightly different perspective on this. As an epidemiologist, I
look at what this may mean for black women. For hundreds of years, black
women have villanized and we`ve been perceived as hypersexual or even over
So, my concern is with Addyi or any effective drug that legitimately treats
female sexual dysfunction, black women may not get it prescribed because
providers, physicians, are subject to the same negative perceptions as
others about black women, and they may feel as though black women either
shouldn`t have this or, frankly, don`t deserve to have this drug.
MOCK: Emily, what does the current – the modern science and research tell
us about where women are in terms of their sexual desire? You know, I
hear, what is the term about – the hypoactive sexual disorder, is that a
NAGOSKI: So, one of the difficulties is in the process of this drug being
brought forward and rejected multiple times is while that was happening,
the American psychiatric association`s bible of diagnosis actually
eliminated hypoactive sexual disorder as a diagnosis. It doesn`t exist as
a diagnosis anymore. It was replaced with female sexual interest and
arousal disorder, specifically because what the science over the last 20
years has taught us is that this standard narrative of how sexual desire
works which is a sort of – there`s a cartoonist Erica Moen, who
illustrates it as a lightning bolt to the genitals, just like kablamo, you
want sex, you go and get it, it turns out that`s just one of the normal,
healthy ways to experience desire.
There`s also responsive desire, which spontaneous desire emerges in
anticipation of pleasure. Responsive desire emerges in response to
pleasure. And a lot of people who were participating in the drug panel
actually had that intact, so it`s solving a problem that isn`t actually a
problem, it`s just not conforming to the cultural narrative.
MELBER: So, taking that point to Linda and then Cindy, speak to the
context of the power and economic dynamics in this type of research because
we all know – put the sexual issues even to the side, we know generally a
lot of the pharmaceuticals that are pursued are the ones thought to be
profitable. And there seems to be that dynamic that then feeds into,
Linda, what you mentioned first which was some of the other biases that may
already exist, speak to that in the context of a drug that isn`t for
everyone, but is coming out of imperfections to begin with.
BLOUNT: Yes, you`re right. I mean, there is big money in pharmaceuticals
and, frankly, if we had a drug that we knew was effective not at 10 percent
but at 90 percent there would be plenty of women lining up to get the drug.
But the concern that we have is how this study – how the research takes
We`ve got 28 drugs on the market for men, one now on the market for women,
not much money relatively speaking has been put into this research. So,
clearly, there`s a great opportunity for more serious research from
academic institutions not just pharmaceutical companies to investigate what
Women are very different. We`re very complex. Our sexuality is very
complex and you think about black women who have on average a higher
cortisol level than white women, the kind of drugs people are pursuing need
to take that into effect. They need to take into effect the lived
experiences of black women so that we can make sure that they`re effective
for black women and for all women.
MOCK: I really do hope that the interest in the drug does push forward in
terms of more research around women`s sexual desire.
Thank you to Linda Blount in Atlanta. Thank you to Cindy Pearson in
Washington, D.C. And, of course, here in New York, to Emily Nagoski.
MELBER: Really an interesting discussion, and also thank you for hanging
with us as we balance the breaking news.
Also still to come, they`ve proven they can do anything that their male
colleagues can do. But will the history-making women soldiers serve
alongside men in combat?
MOCK: And later, Beyonce and all the black girls on magazines, Ari and I
will have a great panel for all things Queen Bee.
MOCK: Listen to what is involved in the ultimate endurance test – 62
days, 49 push-ups, 59 sit-ups, a five-mile run in 40 minutes, six chin ups,
a swim test, land navigation test, obstacle courses, parachute jumps, air
assault on helicopters, a 12-mile foot march in three hours or less with a
35-pound rucksack, carrying soldiers on your back, extreme mental and
physical stress, scaling mountains and slogging through swampy terrain in
I`m exhausted just saying that.
So, can you imagine executing it? Which is exactly what Captain Kristen
Griest and First Lieutenant Shaye Haver did this week, along with 94 of
their male counterparts, making them the first women to ever complete the
most demanding combat leadership course the army has to offer.
Captain Griest and First Lieutenant Haver both West Point grads, were among
a group of 19 women who began the course and the only two, the only two to
At their graduation ceremony yesterday in Ft. Benning, Georgia, they
received their coveted black and yellow U.S. Army Ranger tab, a mark of
distinction described by the Army as proof positive of proven leadership
under the toughest conditions possible. This Ranger class hails from the
Elite Army Ranger School, the school`s first ever gender integrated course
which began April 20th.
On Thursday during a press conference in Ft. Benning, they spoke for the
first time since overcoming the last hurdle of the course.
First Lieutenant Haver, a 25-year-old Apache helicopter pilot from Texas,
talked about why she chose to attend the famously punishing Ranger school.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SHAYE HAVER, FIRST LIEUTENANT U.S. ARMY: The reasons why I chose to come
were the same as these men here, to get the experience of the elite, a
leadership school the army has to provide to give me the opportunity to
lead my soldiers the best I can. We didn`t come with a chip on our
shoulder like we had anything to prove. I think we came our best prepared
we could possibly be.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MOCK: Captain Griest, a 26-year-old military police platoon leader from
Connecticut, who has served in Afghanistan, talked about the impacts of
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KRISTEN GRIEST, CAPTAIN, U.S. ARMY: I do hope with our performance we`ve
been able to inform the decision what they can expect from women in the
military, that we can handle things physically and mentally on the same
level as men and we can deal with the same stresses and the training that
the men can. I was thinking of really of future generations of women that,
I would like them to have that opportunity so I had that pressure on
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MOCK: The course based in Georgia and Florida includes training in the
woodlands, mountainous terrain and Florida swamplands.
Out of 400 soldiers including 19 women, only 96 soldiers completed the
There are no modifications for gender in ranger school said Colonel David
Fivecoat, a commander of the Airborne and Ranger Training Brigade.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DAVID FIVECOAT, COLONEL, U.S. ARMY: Each and every one was treated as a
ranger. It didn`t matter if they were a male or female, they were treated
the same. I`d be proud to serve along each and every one of the ranger
graduates tomorrow in combat or elsewhere.
The women impressed me. They met the standard and they are ranger
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MOCK: Despite the honor, despite all they endured, the two women cannot
apply to join the 75th Ranger Regiment, an elite Special Ops force. Women
are not allowed to apply and serve in position that would put them in
direct frontline combat.
A U.S. Army spokesperson told us, in 2013 then Defense Secretary Leon
Panetta, formally lifted the official ban on women in combat. However, all
branches of the military have until January 1, 2016, to decide which
position, if any, they want to keep off limits to women.
Despite being barred from combat positions, women have served in hazardous
jobs and found themselves in combat since the beginning of our current
conflict. A total of 161 women have been killed in action in Iraq, in
Afghanistan since 2001. More than 1,000 were wounded in action. Captain
Griest who also spoke Thursday about the lack of women mentors in the
military says she may pursue civil affairs, a unit under the Special
Operations umbrella that is currently open to women.
First Lieutenant Haver says she will continue her role as an aviator and
serve as far as leadership will allow her to.
Joining us now Anu Bhagwati, former captain in the U.S. Marines and founder
of the Service Women`s Action Network.
And joining us from Atlanta, Georgia, is Anna Mulrine, defense and national
security correspondent for the Christian Science Monitor.
And from Washington, D.C., Jessie Jane Duff, retired gunnery sergeant for
the U.S. Marine Corps and a senior fellow at the London Center for Policy
First of all, thank you so much for being here.
Anu, I want to start with you because I know so much of your advocacy and
your work in your organization is about gender equity specifically within
the armed forces. Does this path clearing work when these two women –
does it help eliminate any of the barriers that are going on right now in
the armed forces?
ANU BHAGWATI, FORMER CAPTAIN, U.S. MARINES: It does. It`s a huge game
changer and I want to say these women have relieved generations of work and
collective trauma on the service women`s community. We are absolutely
elated and so proud of them.
It`s a game changer because these women accomplished the requirements of
ranger school at the same standard, the same level, the same thing guys
did. As you mentioned, you know, that`s part of the story that they won`t
be able to go on and be assigned to the ranger regiment if they choose to.
And so, that`s really the final bit of the end of sex discrimination in the
military. Really, it`s up to Secretary Carter as to whether he wants to
allow women to be assigned to the jobs that they`ve qualified for by the
standards of these schools.
MOCK: And so what factors would you say – I would love to bring Anna into
the conversation. What factors should President Obama, actually the
secretary of defense, consider in making that call? What are those
ANNA MULRINE, DEFENSE CORRESPONDENT, CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR: Well, I
think it`s what we heard in this press conference. You know, when you look
at these women and what they`ve accomplished, you heard their Ranger
buddies say in essence these women did everything we did.
They carried the big guns when they asked each of their teammates in their
unit, hey, listen, can you haul this load for a while? And, you know, they
said, no, listen, we`re too tired, but these women stepped forward, we can
carry the load. We can plan these battles.
And so, I think when we heard, you know, these two women talk yesterday
they said, you know, we hope this – what we`ve accomplished about inform
this discussion, the fact that we`ve gone through this program and not only
have they met these standards but you have all of their ranger buddies,
almost to a man, saying they did it. We were right here beside them, and
we would be proud to fight alongside them any place anytime.
MOCK: And, Jessie, as a retired marine, I`d love – I know you have a
different point of view on this. I`d love to hear your position on how far
you believe women should go in terms of combat and the front lines.
JESSIE JANE DUFF, GUNNER SERGEANT, U.S. MARINE CORPS (RET): I really
appreciate that everybody is so supportive of women. I think that`s
commendable and particularly these two women who are West Point graduates,
but they have to understand close to 95 percent of the Army that was
surveyed, the women do not want to be in ground units that are in combat
Women have served in combat, but fighting in combat, kicking down doors, is
completely different. And what we have to remember, we are going to send
these women to be the tip of the spear, we do not have any long-term combat
operation a operational data on women, and their rates of attrition,
Many women and any woman who served in the marine corps can tell you we
have a very high attrition rate just in our officer candidate school. It
can be as low as 40 percent. But for physical disability or injury is
three times that of males. Women in army combat training sustain 167
percent increase in injury.
So, here is my question to everybody. It`s not about what she wants or
what we want, it`s for the best interests of our readiness, and I`ve seen
nothing that tells me that a woman in hand-to-hand combat with ISIS is
going to have a higher rate of survival than that of a man, because they
fight on methamphetamines. In Fallujah, I saw marines were killed and
If you want to stick them in that cage like MMA against a man, you`re
basically advocating for women to be murdered, raped, and killed by the
MELBER: Let me ask you this and then bring in Anu as a response. When you
say all that, wouldn`t that logic you provided go towards how you deploy
and whether women are up to these standards, as we`ve just been reporting
they are rather than having a blanket and total ban and 161 women according
to the congressional research, of course, already have given their lives in
Afghanistan and Iraq.
So, we pay the ultimate price, they pay this price, why not let the
military decide case-by-case rather than saying never, never a woman?
DUFF: Exactly. Right. Let the military decide but that`s not what`s
happening. The military is being pressured to make the decision. The
Marine Corps stated that they are considering lowering the standards.
Equal opportunity doesn`t exist on the combat field. When did it have
become about fairness? You want to be the best when you go and swing that
first punch. And as far as we have –
MELBER: Let me take it to Anu for a response, specifically what we just
heard – lowering standards. Your response?
BHAGWATI: Yes, the Marine Corps has its own separate set of problems. It
is right now the backwards force in the military. They are not – they`re
not interested in meritocracy.
There are over 100 women who have passed infantry training battalion.
That`s the Marine Corps enlisted infantry training school, that`s
phenomenal. That`s a story you`re not hearing much about because the
Marine Corps doesn`t want the media to know much about that.
We`re talking about two women officers who graduated ranger school which is
a phenomenal thing and really shows that women can lead, Jessie said, the
tip of the force, they are leaders in the army.
But on the Marine Corps side, we have almost two platoons worth of infantry
women who can do the job. It`s the schools, it`s military leadership that
determines what makes an infantry men and so all of a sudden, now, people
are saying these schools don`t count. Those Rangers, you know, standards
have not been lowered. Standards have not been lowered at ranger school.
Standards have not been lowered at infantry training battalion. These
women can do the job. These myths about rape on the battlefield really are
a thing of another era, a bygone era.
MOCK: Anna, I want to give you the final word here.
MULRINE: Well, I think to the point about what`s best for the military. I
mean, the military has had a voice in this and they`ve said essentially, we
need these women on the battlefield and our current wars, these women can
go where we can`t go. You know, you had commanders who are pulling women
out of other units to put them, you know, in these positions, working with
special forces in order for us to be able to do our jobs at war. Why
should they not have this training that`s only logical and they`ve proven
they can do it.
MOCK: I want to thank Anu here in New York City, Anna Mulrine from
Atlanta, Georgia, and Jessie Jane Duff in Washington, D.C. There`s so much
to unpack, of course.
Stay with us. Later in the show, we have a whole panel devoted to Beyonce
and how she`s changing a lot more than just music.
MELBER: It`s true.
MELBER: Now we turn to an update on new details emerging into how two U.S.
military veterans and another civilian confronted and took down a dangerous
gunman on a train in France yesterday.
In a “New York Times” report one of the men involved explained how it went
down saying the suspects entered the train car carrying an AK-47 and a
handgun. “I looked over at Spencer and said, let`s go. And he jumped. I
followed behind him by about three seconds. Spencer got the guy first,
grabbed the guy by the neck. I grabbed the handgun.”
That is Specialist Alek Skarlatos. He`s in the Oregon National Guard,
talking about Airman First Class Spencer Stone and how they disarmed that
obviously dangerous gunman. Stone was injured but he is expected to be all
Also, a British man, Chris Norman, and another American, Anthony Sadler, a
college student, helped hold the gunman down until more help arrived.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANTHONY SADLER, AMERICAN COLLEGE STUDENT: Just a college student, my last
year in college. I came to see my friends on my first trip to Europe and
we stopped a terrorist. It`s kind of crazy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Crazy and many saying heroic.
Joining me now from London is NBC`s Kelly Cobiella.
Kelly, minutes ago, we were hearing live from Chris Norman, and we are also
waiting to see if two of those three Americans are going to speak.
What do we know about how everyone is doing right now?
COBIELLA: Well, the two Americans who were not hospitalized, Alek
Skarlatos and Anthony Sadler, appear to be doing well, possibly a little
stunned by it all, but well enough to potentially speak to reporters in
just a little bit.
Spencer Stone, a member of the Air Force who was the first to go after the
gunman, is still in the hospital today. He`s expected to undergo surgery
for a cut to his hand. But the mayor of Arras in France said he`s doing
relatively well considering.
Anthony Sadler`s parents spoke from their home in California earlier today.
They said they were absolutely stunned and relieved. They can`t wait to
have Anthony back home.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANTHONY SADLER, SR., FATHER: know, he leaves here a young man on an
excursion to broaden his world view and have fun with his buddies, and he
comes back as France`s national hero, still wrapping my head around that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COBIELLA: And, Ari, as you mentioned, we heard from the man who helped to
hold down the suspect and as he put it, tie him up with a necktie. He also
says that he was than thanking Alek Skarlatos and Spencer Stone, saying
without them I don`t think I`d be here today. He also said his first
reaction was to sit down and hide but when he saw those two guys go for the
gunman, he thought I`m probably going to die anyway. Maybe I have a chance
if I help, so let`s go – Ari.
MELBER: Incredible story. Thank you to NBC`s Kelly Cobiella for following
Really something amazing there.
What do we have next, Janet?
MOCK: Up next, we explain why the big fashion mags say this fall black is
actually the new black.
MOCK: This week, the September issue of “Vogue” hit newsstands and none
other than Nerdland`s favorite Queen Bee graced the cover.
Unlike most icons featured on the coveted cover, Beyonce did not grant
“Vogue” an interview, making her the only cover star in at least five stars
to evade a “Vogue” reporter.
Instead, Beyonce spread with the company by an essay about her star power
in a cover shoot video released on “Vogue`s” website.
But the lack of an interview isn`t the only thing that makes it special.
There`s also the fact that most “Vogue” cover girls especially those
featured on the September have been white. Beyonce is only the third black
woman to be featured on the magazine`s coveted September issue in the
magazine`s 123-year history. And looking beyond “Vogue”, at least five
other black women are members of the September cover star squad this year,
a noteworthy number considering only 14 percent of major U.S. magazine
featured women of color on their covers in 2014. But this year, Serena
Williams won the title of cover star for “New York Magazine`s” fall fashion
issue released last week.
Kerry Washington served `80s aerobics realness, while handling “Self”
MELBER: That`s a nice one.
MOCK: Right? It is. I know you love her.
Sierra on “Shape” magazine, and the list goes on and on and on.
Now, Beyonce has appeared on two other “Vogue” covers, April 2009, March
2013 spring fashion issue, and Serena, Kerry and Sierra have each been on
numerous fashion mag covers in the past, “Elle”, “Vogue”, “Allure”, and the
list goes on.
But the September issue carries a certain distinction in the world of style
magazines as noted in documentary, “The September Issue”.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One in ten American women, almost 13 million people
will get a September issue of “Vogue.”
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: September is the January in fashion.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MOCK: I love that sound bite.
The “Vogue” September issue in particular is known in the fashion industry
as the “fashion bible” and is sometimes filled with more than 800 pages of
cover story material, articles, photos, photo spreads and of course ads.
September issues are a big deal for readers. “Vogue” for example, has an
average total circulation of more than 1,200,000. But as stated in the
documentary “The September Issue”, leadership shoots up to nearly 13
MOCK: – for “Vogue`s” September edition, right? That`s a captive
audience, a 13 million potential customers for the companies advertising
their products in the fashion books.
So if it all boils down to revenue, perhaps this year`s striking display of
black women September cover stars proves this – black girls are bankable.
That`s the thesis most concretely exemplified by the major sales Rihanna
brought in for 19 magazines in a year span between March 2014 and March
2015. When the singer was on the March 2015 cover of “Harper`s Bazaar”,
the magazine sales increased by 0.8 percent and that is a huge jump.
MELBER: It could have been the shark, though.
MOCK: It could have been – yes. Maybe jaws. Maybe shark-nado. Who
But this is a huge increase for an industry typically plagued by declining
revenue. When she was on the cover of “Vogue” in March 2014, she beat out
the Taylor Swift team selling 11.2 percent more magazines. That is
bankability and perhaps the power and presence of black women could spark a
change in the fashion world.
Joining me now are Kierna Mayo, editor in chief of “Ebony” magazine and VP
of digital contempt, and one of my loves, and Joyce Chang, editor in chief
of “Self” magazine.
So, Kierna, I want to start with you. Your cover just came out for a
September issue with, what, is that seven, six black new supermodels, up-
and-coming, who are killing the scene. What is it with magazines that are
not targeted to a black audience like “Ebony” that is making them
recognized or at least put black women and women of color on the cover of
their magazine in this particular month?
KIERNA MAYO, EBONY: You know, I thought about it long and hard. I really
don`t know. And I say that because there have been moments in popular
culture where black women have led. Quite frankly the last 25 years have
been led by – Janet Jackson, let`s say, she never made a “Vogue” cover
there were huge moments in black female life in America and how we kind of
shaped the cultural paradigm that got missed. So, what is it that is
making this moment so keen for everyone? Beyonce`s a huge X-factor, right?
Let`s just say that she really is the queen of the universe.
MOCK: She`s an outlier.
MAYO: She`s an outlier, but what she indicates and she symbolizes is
permission for other publications that don`t typically cover women of color
to say maybe we can take a chance. I worked at the magazine for four years
and I think in the four years, we did one cover that featured as Cosmo girl
that featured a black woman and, you know, not only that, I was only one of
maybe two women in the building who were black, who were making editorial
MOCK: And I think that is a powerful distinction, right? We have two
editors in chief of magazines, major magazines, who are women of color.
How important is that to have a staff that is as diverse as its readers?
JOYCE CHANG, SELF MAGAZINE: Well, I think it`s important to have every
kind of woman at the table. And at “Self” what we want to cultivate is a
strong sense of self. And certainly that comes from within.
But we recognize that there are many external factors that also influence
your sense of self. We want our readers to feel their strongest, their
best, their most beautiful and most comfortable in their own skin and so we
chose Kerry for our September issue because she is Kerry Washington,
because she handles everything, because she has an amazing hit show that
millions of viewers watch and because she takes care of herself and makes
time to be the person she wants to be.
But, of course, as a person of – who grew up, it`s in the back of my mind
we want to reflect the world that we live in and I think as the world
becomes increasingly multicultural, we want to make sure we give platform
to a wide array of role models.
MOCK: When these issues particularly hit all at the same time particularly
for this month, I was shocked because I grew up with – I grew up in a
magazine/journalism, that`s what I studied. That was my master`s degree.
And I heard the myths that usually black girls go on January or June and
July, which tend to be the fill-ins. I wonder what it is about this
climate. Is it empire? Is it Chanda Land? Is it all of those convergence
of shifting dynamics?
MAYO: It`s happening on television, it`s happening in music, it`s
happening – actors, singers, rappers. There`s Nicki Minaj. All of these
moments that come back to black girls at center. What`s interesting to me
is how black women of these moments affirm themselves. Black Twitter, all
about black girl magic. We`re filling in the space when these moments
But, you know, for us at “Ebony” and other black magazines we`re doing this
every single month. We`re kind of making these affirmations. It`s
interesting for me to be both – I`m a magazine aficionado. I love
I have since I was a very young girl. But there`s a time when you`re
actually making magazines that you do say to yourself, you know, what is it
that we have to do to really drive home the importance of black life, black
culture? You know, what is it that it will take for other publications to
really understand this isn`t just a once a month thing, it`s not a once a
year thing, rather. It`s not a once in a ten-year thing.
And we want to go to a conversation about beyond just the cover but the
actual content of these magazines. What`s inside these pages? That`s
MOCK: Well, several black stars covered this year`s September issues, a
casual flip through the magazine reveals that hundreds of pages of
advertisements, articles, and spreads are overwhelmingly white. Some
magazines may include articles that feature blackness, but seem to
specifically address non-black readers.
Take, for example, the “Allure” hair tutorial which was seen on every piece
of black Twitter of the Internet, released earlier this month, displaying a
curly fro kind of like mine modeled by a white actress and a headline that
read “you, yes, you can have an afro even if you have straight hair.”
“Allure” gave a statement to “BuzzFeed” a statement about its faux pas, I
kind of love, you now, which read in part, “In this story we show women
using different air styles as an individual expression of style. Using
beauty and hair as a form of self-expression is a mirror of what`s
happening in our country today. The creativity is limitless and pretty
But what happens when magazine covers begin to mirror the diversity we see
across the country while magazine content lags behind.
So, with me is Kierna and Joyce from “Self” and “Ebony” magazines
So, what – how do we move, I`ll start with you, Joyce – how do we beyond
tokenization of a star and actually have the content reflect the star
that`s actually covered?
CHANG: I am very proud of the content in “Self” because are really
committed to reflecting the world that we live in. And one of the most
common comments I get from my readers – I have been at “Self” for about a
year now and it has been a top priority for me to represent the world we
live in in the pages of the magazine.
And so they often comment at how diverse the pages are for us. And, you
know, tokenization is something that as a minority myself, I would never
want to celebrate anyone simply by virtue for the color of their skin and I
would not want the same. People often ask me, you know, how do you feel
about being a representative of the Asian-American community.
And everything I do I do because I love doing it. I don`t do it because
I`m Asian, I do it because I love why I do and the reason why Kerry
Washington is on the cover is because she`s an amazing star. And within
our pages, all of the content, all of the entrepreneurs we features, all of
the models we feature, they represent a healthy balanced life-style which
is what we talk about at “Self”.
MELBER: I wonder though if there`s a little bit of a tension of what`s
important in the culture and the politics, because the political space if
you talk to black activists or civil rights activists, there`s an obvious
rejection of any attempt at so-called color blindness because of what is
it`s associated with, a conservative attempt to push off the uncomfortable
conversations and challenges that need to be dealt with by attending to
And yet when you look at the September issue and why it matters, it`s
precisely, I have heard from some, because Beyonce is there not as a black
woman, as you mentioned in some other month and not put in some box or
category but just there as this incredible obviously fashion forward
cultural icon who also happens to be black and it`s important to her and
part of who she is but it is not otherized or compartmentalized in that
So, is there tension there and when you think about it with “Ebony” being
in a different place than the September issue, how does that shake out and
since we`re not hearing directly from Beyonce as much lately, we don`t know
where she came down on that.
MAYO: I dare not speak for her. But I guess I have to process that
because for me race does inform and I believe as editors where we come from
informs decision making. It`s lovely to see Joyce as an editor in chief of
a major national magazine that speaks to all kinds of women because that`s
not typical, that`s very atypical.
And again, it comes back to my central issues that the decision makers tend
to look alike. There`s a certain – there`s no accident that people
reflect the things that are important to them and the things that are
familiar to them.
But magazines getting it wrong didn`t just begin. I remember in the `90s,
maybe the late `80s but there was a “Mademoiselle” and they did a hair
story and they featured locks and it was a white girl and a poodle. The
faux pas have been happening because the editors have not reflected all of
America for a very long time.
This is very new. I`m just afraid this is just a season and that we don`t
know when we`re going to get this again. And I`m here to represent black
magazines who really do this and are committed to recognizing the
importance of these women every single day.
MOCK: An important conversation, a lot of nuance. Thank you so much to
Kierna Mayo and Joyce Chang.
That is our show for today. Thanks to you at home for watching. Ari and I
will see you again tomorrow morning 10:00 a.m. Eastern.
MELBER: Now it`s time for a preview of week ends with Alex Witt. Page
Hopkins is filling in.
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