The Beat with Ari Melber, Transcript 8/25/17 Hurricane Harvey Live report
Show: THE BEAT WITH ARI MELBER
Date: August 25, 2017
Guest: Michael McFaul, Jamil Smith, Jonathan Lemire, Evan McMullin, Aisha
Moodie Mills, Farai Chideya, Robert Faris, Travon Free, Lauren Duca
CHUCK TODD, MSNBC HOST: THE BEAT with Ari Melber, though, starts right
now. Good evening, Ari.
MELBER: Good evening, Chuck. We will be watching “Meet the Press” this
Sunday. Thank you very much.
It is another Friday night and again we`re reporting on some breaking
Friday night news on the Trump Russia inquiry. New reports right now
breaking from “NBC News” and a separate story in “The Wall Street Journal”.
We also, of course, are monitoring this hurricane heading towards Texas.
Officials at this hour advising evacuation. We have a report from the
ground on THE BEAT tonight. That is later.
But our top story is these two breaking reports tonight on Trump`s Russia
investigation. “NBC News`” Ken Dilanian reporting this. Special Counsel
Robert Mueller is now issuing his first grand jury subpoenas to get
testimony from PR executives who worked with former Trump campaign chairman
Paul Manafort on what`s described as an international campaign touching
Also tonight, “The Wall Street Journal” with a new report that Special
Counsel Mueller is bearing down on a big question. Did Russian hackers try
to pass Clinton emails to Trump aide Mike Flynn. “The Journal” reporting
intelligence showing “Russian hackers discussing how to obtain emails from
Mrs. Clinton`s email server and then transmit them to Mr. Flynn via an
A lot to report on and we`re going to get right to it with “NBC`s”
intelligence reporter Ken Dilanian who has broken this story. As everyone
knows, who has ever followed a major federal investigation, there is the
time before grand jury subpoenas and the time after.
Your reporting suggesting Robert Mueller is heading past that line. What
can you tell us about your exclusive?
KEN DILANIAN, “NBC NEWS” INTELLIGENCE REPORTER: Absolutely right, Ari.
And I should say, my colleague Carol Lee contributed to this reporting.
So, it`s a team effort.
And you`re absolutely right. Robert Mueller is now issuing grand jury
subpoenas for testimony. We`ve known for some time that he`s been
subpoenaing documents from various places. Now, he`s trying to compel
people to give testimony before the grand jury.
And what`s at issue here is a lobbying campaign involving Paul Manafort`s
work for a pro-Russian Ukrainian politician, who was trying to burnish his
image in Washington back in 2012 to 2014.
Now, Manafort filed a disclosure earlier this year saying that he got $17
million from this pro-Russian Ukrainian party over a two-year period for
his work and various public relations firms in Washington were paid money
to do some work on behalf of this party and these politicians and trying to
have meetings with various newspapers and politicians in Washington.
And that`s what`s at issue here. Robert Mueller is very interested in what
happened because initially they didn`t register as a lobbyist for a foreign
entity. And they later were asked to do that by the Justice Department and
they did so. So, that raises some questions. And also at issue is how the
money flowed through this effort.
MELBER: Right. And your reporting also suggests at issue is the tentacles
from Paul Manafort to all of these foreign projects, some of which may be
completely innocent and unrelated, some of which apparently Mueller wants
to scrutinize for the links.
To that end, I want you to stay with me with your big story here, but I
want to bring in former US ambassador to Russia in the Obama administration
Ambassador, number one, what do you make of the implications of this story
and, obviously, the Ukrainian piece of it? And number two, what do you
want to ask or touch base with Ken on given his reporting?
MICHAEL MCFAUL, FORMER US AMBASSADOR TO RUSSIA: Well, of course, the most
important question Ken just raised. Why did they not register under the
Foreign Agents Registration Act when they were doing this work and who is
paying for it, right?
So, we know the number. We know that, by the way, because of great
investigative reporting and work by parliamentary officials in Ukraine.
That happened six months ago. That $17 million, that`s a good job for a
couple of years of public relations work.
But did they register? It appears they did not. Why did they not? And
who actually paid for that work to be done?
DILANIAN: Ari, actually, on paper, the lobbying was paid for by a European
NGO, and so the firms in the United States said, hey, as far as we`re
concerned, we didn`t have to register. But it`s starting to look like that
NGO had connections to this Ukrainian political party.
And when you work for a political party, a politician or a foreign
government, you have to register. And there are very particular set of
disclosures to the Justice Department because there`s a higher hurdle when
you`re lobbying Washington for a foreign government, and that didn`t happen
in this case.
And now, it subsequently happened and now Mueller is asking further
questions about what they did, how they got paid and what was Manafort`s
MELBER: Right. And to your point, it is not that hard legally to
register. These companies, particularly those with international projects,
they have their own legal and compliance departments. It`s a matter of
In my experience, anyone who wants to comply with FARA can easily do so,
which raises again the investigative question why not. Why does it go back
to Manafort? What is going on with this money trail?
Ambassador, in your experience, what do we know about people who take on
these contracts? How easy is it for them to do the work and then unhook
from whatever pressures there are because it seems that one of the things
we can glean from Ken`s reporting is that Mueller is interested.
And I don`t say this to presuppose the outcome. We never do.
But he is at least interested in trying to understand whether things that
occurred before Manafort even hooked up with the Trump campaign could have
been the first step towards potentially illicit contacts with a foreign
power during 2016.
MCFAUL: Well, these are all questions that need to be answered. And I
want to be careful here. I don`t want to get ahead of my skis and
speculate about what we don`t know about those, but those are all the right
First of all, let`s be blunt. No NGO has $17 million to pay for a public
relations campaign for the president of Ukraine, Mr. Yanukovich.
Obviously, somebody else put that money there. And we need to know where
that money came from, including from Russians, from Russian business people
that may have been asked to pay that money on behalf of President
Yanukovych, who after all, at that time, was very close to Vladimir Putin.
So, that`s the first thing.
Number two, I don`t think Mr. Manafort somehow cut all his ties. Lots of
stories about his relationships with various people. One in particular,
Oleg Deripaska, a Russian businessman, who they did some business together
and then Mr. Deripaska tried to sue Mr Yanukovich. That was all going
years after the contract we`re talking about.
We need to get to the bottom. We need to know what those relationships
were and what, in particular, might people like Deripaska have been doing
on behalf of the Kremlin, working with Mr. Manafort.
They`re all questions. I don`t want to pretend I know the answers, but
there`s a lot of different kind of open questions here that need to be
MELBER: I want you to stay with me on this breaking story. And I want to
bring in more reporters on the panel. Jamil Smith, a contributing writer
for “The Daily Beast” and Jonathan Lemire White House reporter for “The AP”
are joining the discussion here with the four of us.
Jonathan, how does this square with the reporting you`ve done and the way
the White House looks at these issues because, earlier this week, we hear
Trump obsessed with Russia.
Tonight, “The Wall Street Journal” bearing down on the idea that Mike
Flynn, a Trump associate, who reportedly Donald Trump interfered on his
behalf with Jim Comey. Why so much interest in Flynn? That he was
directly linked to the email effort, according to intelligence intercepts?
Again, I always say, as chief legal correspondent, doesn`t tell us the end
of the investigation, but the intelligence there is something Mueller is
JONATHAN LEMIRE, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, “THE ASSOCIATED PRESS”: That`s
right. And let`s remember, Donald Trump himself, from the podium at a
campaign press conference, asked Russia for their help in finding Hillary
And one would be following the path here that perhaps they heard that call.
They heard that inquiry. And then, according to the reporting, potentially
sending it towards Michael Flynn, who eventually national security advisor.
Paul Manafort also has always been a flashpoint this. Repeatedly, the
president and people around him tried to downplay Manafort`s role in the
Both Trump and former press secretary Sean Spicer both suggested that he
was on a short time, that he wasn`t a vital role in Trump`s effort to
become the Republican nominee, when, of course, he ran their convention and
was the campaign manager for a short time.
He`s always been someone that they have been nervous about. He, of course,
was in the famous, or infamous, June 2016 meeting in Trump Tower that had
also involved the president`s son.
And that in particular is for the president, seems to obsess about Russia,
seems to lash out about Russia when it seems to be hitting close to home,
whether it`s with himself or members of his own family.
MELBER: And then, Jamil, put that in the context that, according to the
public reporting, there`s only one person who has had his home raided first
thing in the morning by the FBI, which is assigned under a court order
because that`s what they had to get from a judge that either you have
material incidental to a federal crime in your house or you are not being
trusted in the view of the FBI to comply.
So, you have to be treated like a common criminal or a drug dealer because
they don`t think you`ll comply with a grand jury request. The only person
that`s happened, according to public accounts, Jamil, is Paul Manafort.
JAMIL SMITH, CONTRIBUTING WRITER, “THE DAILY BEAST”: Right. And there`s
been no time in my life that I`ve ever wanted to be Paul Manafort, but
I think that he`s in incredible legal jeopardy, obviously. And seeing now
that this is the first time, as you mentioned earlier, that Mueller is
calling for people to testify before the grand jury, now people are in
jeopardy if they lie.
And so that, I think, puts this into a completely different phase and I
think it really shifts the burden upon his associates and potentially
Manafort himself to tell the truth. So, we`re going to see how the
president reacts to that. That might be the one thing we can actually
MELBER: And on that point, Jonathan, there`s also a lot of talk about how
do you comply with these requests now that the grand jury subpoenas,
according to Ken`s “NBC” reporting, are going out.
Anyone at the White House has to know this ongoing proceeding is in a
serious place and you revise your statements at your own peril.
LEMIRE: Right. There is definitely a sense of nervousness, in the
interviews and the reporting that we`ve done, at the White House.
MELBER: You think people in the White House are nervous?
LEMIRE: I think yes. There`s a sense that this is growing. They know
that the grand jury is convened and now appears that the first subpoenas
are going out.
It could be a matter of days, weeks, months before anyone in the White
House receives one, maybe no one ever will, but there is certainly a belief
that they need to prepare, they`ve been told to preserve their documents,
they`ve been preserved to keep the communications from last year during the
Those are people who cannot help, but look around and wonder - it admits
all the day to day political storms that seem to consume this White House
that the big one is still over the horizon.
MELBER: And, Ken, I know that you as a seasoned “NBC” reporter and a
former “AP” reporter, former colleague of Jonathan`s aren`t going to tell
us anything about your sourcing other than that it`s true.
But I do want to note, as a general matter, the reason these things do tend
to come out is that, while what happens inside the grand jury room and with
those jurors is top secret, the grand jury requests as they go out to
different institutions are not legally secret.
That is to say, if you get one, you can talk about it to some degree. You
can`t talk about what goes on inside the room.
Can you speak to us about whether you would expect more such leaks about
grand jury subpoenas if they are indeed continuing to go out?
DILANIAN: Oh, absolutely, Ari. And you`ve covered federal investigations.
I`ve covered federal investigations over the years. This is how the news
of a federal investigation emerges.
Defense lawyers, witnesses, anyone besides the prosecution is free to talk
about what they`re saying to a grand jury, what questions are being asked
of them, and that`s how we`re going to learn much more about what the
Mueller team is doing.
It`s not that the Mueller team is out there leaking. In fact, Mueller has
made it very clear to his troops that leaking is a firing offense.
MELBER: So, Jamil, finally, do Democrats just get out of the way on the
politics of this or do they use these steps to try to build the case that
while you can`t pre-indict anyone, in particular, not fairly any way, you
can certainly say that where there is smoke, there is more that needs to be
done, particularly the contrast between Donald Trump calling people earlier
this week, according to “Politico” and saying he wanted any bill that
protected Mueller to be stopped and then what you see here in what`s
SMITH: Yes. I think Democrats would be wise to make sure that they keep
their foot on the pedal here.
I think that when you have all these different factors starting to emerge
through the investigation, all these different things, I think Democrats
would be amiss if they simply ignored it or simply said let Bob Mueller
take care of it.
They want Bob Mueller to hurry up. Or at least they want the public
perception that this is actually ramping up to take hold, I think really
what they need to probably be doing is going out to their constituents,
especially in this time before the hurricane takes over the news, and make
sure that people understand how important these steps are.
MELBER: And you mentioned the hurricane. We have more on that later in
our hour as well. I want to let Ken Dilanian get back to working the
phones and I know we`re going to see you back on air with your big story
tonight. Appreciate that, Jonathan Lemire as well.
Ambassador McFaul and Jamil Smith, please stay with me because we`re going
to come right back to another piece of this.
Next, more on these breaking stories in Russia. And we`re going to bring
in a former CIA operative to talk about the pressure on Mike Pompeo.
I`m Ari Melber and you are watching THE BEAT on MSNBC.
MELBER: More breaking news on the Russia investigation on this Friday
night. “The Wall Street Journal” reporting Bob Mueller now probing whether
Russian hackers specifically tried to hand Clinton emails to Trump aide
A fascinating development considering Mike Flynn already publicly requested
criminal immunity because he had “a story to tell.”
And what I was just discussing with “NBC News`” Ken Dilanian, reports here
from “NBC News” tonight that Mueller issued his first grand jury subpoenas
targeting associates of Paul Manafort.
Both these reports come amidst brand-new scrutiny of the CIA under Donald
Trump where Director Pompeo faces concern about what he might do if the CIA
uncovered new information potentially damaging to Trump.
“The Washington Post” reporting there are concerns Pompeo can`t resist the
impulse to be political. So, as reports break tonight that Mueller is
bearing down on Russia`s unprecedented and damaging election interference,
Trump`s CIA director under pressure for comments like these where he plays
down the very actions that Russia took.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did Russia intervene in our election?
MIKE POMPEO, CIA DIRECTOR: I have been asked it a million times. It`s
true. Of course. And the one before that and the one before that.
They`ve been at this a hell of a long time and I don`t think they have any
intention of backing off.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: I want to welcome back former US ambassador to Russia Michael
McFaul. And joining this conversation former CIA operative and an
independent presidential candidate Evan McMullin.
Evan, your views of these breaking reports I just discussed as well as
comments like that Pompeo and the apparent pressure he`s under in that
“Washington Post” account?
EVAN MCMULLIN, FORMER CIA OPERATIVE: Well, as far as Pompeo is concerned,
I have been also troubled by some of his remarks that seem to cast Russia`s
multifaceted, broad efforts to influence our elections as something that`s
It is true as he points out that Russia has attempted influence our
politics for years and for decades. That`s not new. But the scale is
something that is absolutely new by orders of magnitude. So, for him to
present it in any other way, I think, is a disservice to the American
But I`ll note that sort of at the end of that statement, he also says
Russia has, he thinks, no intention of backing off. So, if we`re to unpack
sort of what he`s doing there, he may be trying to placate his boss, which
is a difficult man to satisfy in President Trump, while at the same time
stressing the importance of efforts to prevent and deter Russia from
carrying out these kinds of activities in the future.
MELBER: Is the CIA supposed to placate their bosses? In the run up to the
Iraq War, wasn`t that the whole issue that the intel started to get cooked
by political demands?
MCMULLIN: Well, absolutely. That`s something that you constantly have to
watch in intelligence, is political influences.
Somebody like Director Pompeo comes from a very political background, but
he`s not the first CIA director to have that background. George Tenet, who
was a long serving director, a very good one in my view, who served under
Republicans and Democratic presidents, he also spent a lot of time on the
Hill, but then went to serve the agency there. Porter Goss was another
The important point here is just that, you can come from a political
background and lead the CIA, but you`ve got to check the politics really at
Pompeo has gotten himself involved in political situations that he just
shouldn`t be involved in, whether it`s reports that he was willing to or
did engage off-the-record with media outlets trying to downplay reports of
significant contact between the Trump campaign and Russian officials or
whether it`s his portrayal of the Russian influence campaign as less
significant than it truly was or his remarks about the president - his
defense of the president`s comments after Charlottesville.
These things would lead to believe, and do lead many to believe, including
at least myself, that he has still a tendency to be more political than he
should. And I think that`s something that he`s got to be very careful.
He`s a very intelligent man. He`s very strong willed. I believe he has a
lot of respect for the men and women of the Central Intelligence Agency and
its mission, but he`s got to be very careful about his engagement in any
kind of political activities.
MELBER: Well, and ambassador, as for the other piece of this “Post”,
basically, he`s got special oversight of counter-intel in a way that either
means he cares a lot about it or he has some special Russia interest, which
seems to be a recurring issue in the Trump administration. Here`s his
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
POMPEO: Was meant to send a signal to the workforce that this was
important and we weren`t going to tolerate misbehavior in our organization.
It was meant to send a signal to those around the world that we were
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Your view of these accounts, ambassador, and whether they`re
getting the right proportion on Russia or that too is becoming a kind of an
obsession that might start from Trump and then filters through the
MCFAUL: Well, I appreciate his sentiment that he wants to show its
importance to the agency and to the director. But just to echo what Evan
said, one has to be very careful about politicizing intelligence.
Those lines have to be drawn. Every new CIA director, if they come from
one place and then move to that job has to adjust. I witnessed it when I
worked with John Brennan at the White House and then he became the CIA
director. That`s a different job.
You can`t sit in the Situation Room and have the CIA or any other
intelligence officer putting a spin, either for political or policy terms,
when those deliberations are being made and he needs to be careful not to
do that in this case, of course.
MELBER: Right. And he is under that pressure. Here we are. I just want
to revisit the news of the night. He`s under that pressure at a time when
the grand jury is, for the first time, sending out subpoenas demanding that
people comply under the threat of law under Mueller, as “NBC” reports.
And “The Wall Street Journal” says, oh, wait a minute, the reason we`ve
been hearing so much about Mike Flynn may be Mueller wants to know, related
to intelligence assessments new, showing Russian hackers wanting to get
Clinton emails to Mike Flynn.
Looks bad. Doesn`t mean it is bad, but it`s certainly what they`re going
to looking into. Ambassador McFaul and former CIA operative Evan McMullin,
thank you both.
MCMULLIN: Thank you.
MCFAUL: Thank you.
MELBER: That`s a big and important story. And there`s another one, of
course. This gigantic storm bearing down on the Gulf Coast. Hurricane
Harvey is now hours away from landfall. You`re looking at live pictures
there, 5:23 PM local time in Texas. It`s 6:23 here on the East Coast.
And you can see the furious water. This is the first time in 12 years that
the mainland United States have been bracing for this kind of storm.
Thousands evacuated. Officials are saying get out to everyone in this
path. I want to bring in “NBC`s” Catie Beck live in Corpus Christi. What
can you tell us, Catie?
CATIE BECK, “NBC NEWS” CORRESPONDENT: Well, the conditions here have been
steadily getting worse all day and they continue to do so. There are about
30,000 people already in Corpus Christi who are without power right now.
Lots of downed (INAUDIBLE) and tree branches all over the roadways. Most
of the roads don`t have any cars on them, but there are a good number of
folks who stayed home. There was not a mandatory evacuation order here in
Corpus Christi despite the fact that this is a Category 3 storm.
So, some people have decided to just try and brave it out. As you drive
through the streets in these residential neighborhoods, you tend to see a
lot of the homes boarded up. Some of them have spray paint, indicating how
many men, how many women, how many children are inside, sort of reminiscent
of Katrina, but there is a fair amount of people who really just felt like
they could stick this one out.
The main eye of the storm is supposed to come around 1 a.m. this morning.
And that is when they are expecting to see those 125 mile an hour winds.
As you can see here, all of the homes boarded up, prepared for that wind,
that rain, and the storm surge. They say the storm surge here in Corpus
Christi could be anywhere between 6 to 12 feet, so that is some significant
damage on the way for these folks, as they brace for the worst yet to come.
MELBER: Catie Beck, I hope you stay safe and responsible there. I know
you are in the car for that reason. Appreciate your reporting. We`ll have
more on this on the show tonight. Thank you.
Ahead, the first high profile Trump advisor to publicly criticize his boss
a tiny bit on Charlottesville. We`ll explain next.
MELBER: Breaking news tonight in the Russia investigation. These reports
that Bob Mueller zeroing in on whether Russian hackers tried to give Trump
aides dirt on Hillary Clinton.
“NBC” separately reporting Mueller now using grand jury subpoenas against
associates of Paul Manafort.
And now bad news coming from within the Trump White House itself. Economic
advisor Gary Cohn now saying the Trump administration can “do better” to
stand up to neo-Nazis and that he considered resigning after
Charlottesville, drafting a resignation letter that he never actually
Now, Trump spokesperson says they`re not surprised by what Cohn said about
all this in a new interview.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Everybody wants to
focus on a really small part of that interview.
Gary has not held back how he feels about the situation. H`s been very
open and honest, and so I don`t think that anyone was surprised by the
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Gary Cohn is speaking about a draft letter of resignation that he
never submitted. Critics say standing up to neo-Nazis requires a bit more
than tough sentences that remains stuck in your draft email folder.
But even that may be too much. Axios reporting that the mild step could
still make Trump “explode”. The way Trump will see it, Cohn is siding with
the fake news.
All this tension comes amidst a major risk, of course, facing Americans
today. We were just reporting on it. The first Category 3 hurricane aimed
for the US mainland in 12 years.
And there is currently no director of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric
Administration or Secretary of Homeland Security which oversees the key
agencies here. Trump meanwhile tweeting, “Storm turned hurricane is
getting much bigger and more powerful than projected. Federal Government
is on the site and ready to respond. Be safe.”
Now, this is not the time to address these federal government vacancies.
Critics say when would be the time, pointing out that Trump still has 81
percent of vacancies across federal agencies according to the Washington
Post. And more disturbingly he hasn`t put forward names for 368 of the key
management posts. With me now is Aisha Moodie Mills President and CEO of
the Victory Fund Institute the nation`s largest resource for openly LBGTQ
public officials in government. I want to start with Mr. Cohn. He thought
about it and weeks later his news to everyone is he thought about it.
AISHA MOODIE MILLS, VICTORY FUND INSTITUTE PRESIDENT, AND CEO: Well,
action speaks louder than words. You know, I have been waiting for someone
in this administration to stand up and surface as the conscious, right?
Someone who has values, who has some moral principles that they hold true
to. And I just knew that after Charlottesville, somebody would say enough
is enough. We have got to stand up to this President and say enough is
enough. And to hear that he has an e-mail sitting somewhere in draft,
eight, that that`s what he wants to come out and publicly disclose as if
it`s opposed to wash him of the sins of his master if you will, is really
disappointing because I would expect people to have a little bit more
courage than they`ve shown.
MELBER: Well, I think it was the Dalai Lama who said a lot of people have
draft e-mails, right? I mean so what you have a draft e-mail. And then he
puts out a very odd statement where he cited the people marching saying we
will not be replaced by Jews. And he said as a Jewish American, he was not
going to leave his job. The issue is not whether he`s Jewish or not. The
issue is whether his boss gave comfort and support by saying there were
good people of white supremacist rally and whether in government you feel
obligation to stand up and speak for that. And if you`re not going to
resign by the way, which a perfectly defensible moral position some would
advocate, then why are you talking about resigning. Why are you trying to
get credit for that draft e-mail?
MILLS: Right. And what does that e-mail have to do with anything? Right?
So here`s the thing. Personnel is policy. This is what we always say at
the Victory Institute because we actually had a personnel program where we
staff the Obama administration with LGBT personnel in order to drive policy
that was equality and we did. So, when I look at this administration and
the people who are working there, presumably they are there because they
fundamentally believe they can drive policy that matters to people`s lives.
So when we have an incident like Charlottesville, and then you have a guy
that says, well, I have a draft of an e-mail and I`m not going to quit my
job, the question becomes what policies are you as personnel really trying
to affect in this role that you are determined to stay in. And that`s
where it all gets hazy and where it`s all gray because no one has doubled
down and said what they want to do to bring America together.
MELBER: Right. And the other personnel policy issue that may not have
been on people`s radar this week is this big clash over environmental
relations, business, person and billionaire call icon resigning his post
after attacking a woman named Janet McCabe. Now, we were able to interview
her. This has never played yet. This is exclusive to THE BEAT. A former
environmental regulator talked about her clash with icon take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JANET MCCABE, ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY: People have personal
interests that could be advanced through their access. And that`s not what
government is supposed to be about. People serving the President are
supposed to be doing their best for American people. That includes
business of course because we need a strong economy and of our
environmental regulations and laws have been implemented with a lot of
attention to our economy and to growing our businesses in this country.
And that`s been very successful. But that`s what the business of
government is about is serving everyone.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: This being the issue that a businessman wanted her to do one thing
and attacked her publicly by name over it. And she said the job of the EPA
is not listen to those business interests. Since you talk about staffing,
how important are all these staffing fights going on because they`re not
always getting the attention with all the other Trump drama?
MILLS: Well, I think the other Trump drama it`s a smoke screen for the
imperative that he`s trying to push for his business cronies, right, which
why we aren`t hearing about him. The EPA put out a report. In fact, it
was agencies wide across the government that had a whole host of
environmental regulation that we should maintain or we should put forward
that we haven`t really heard too much about. And all that is intentional.
Trump came in and he said, I`m trying to do what I can to fatten by pockets
and to fatten the pockets of my friends. And he pretty much told us that
everything he`s doing is demonstrating that. So, I`m not really surprised.
And I`m thankful that she came forward and she called a spade a spade.
MELBER: Aisha Moodie Mills always great to get your perspective even on
one of these busy breaking news Fridays. Thank you.
MILLS: Good to see you, Ari. Thank you.
MELBER: Thank you. Amidst the breaking news on this Russia inquiry,
there`s a brand new report out of Harvard about the e-mails. Those are the
e-mails we`re just reporting. The Wall Street Journal says Russian hackers
might have passed to Michael Flynn. We have the latest on that and this
MELBER: In the breakdown tonight, we have a very different angle on this
breaking news. The Wall Street Journal reporting Special Counsel Bob
Mueller looking into whether Mike Flynn was trying to work with Russian
hackers to get Hillary Clinton`s e-mails and learning what a crucial role
those played in the election. Here is what is new this week. Research
from Harvard University says the media was tilted for Donald Trump in the
2016 election. Now, that could be a surprise for Trump supporters who hear
him complain about the press. Harvard`s findings though are based on
numbers and not opinions and they have three key points. First, Trump got
more coverage. No surprise there.
But second, it wasn`t just volume. Harvard says when the press covered
Trump, they covered his policies and when they covered Clinton, they
covered his attacks on her. Take a look. In a count of hundreds of
thousands of articles in the election, the press covered Clinton scandals
more than her policies but for Trump, the press covered his policies like
immigration more than his alleged scandals. That could be a surprise to
Democrats and Republicans alike. We`ve heard of conventional story that
Trump gets attention for all of his antics. But stop and think. These
numbers show there was more coverage of his policies like immigration in
the Muslim ban as some result was according to this brand new Harvard study
that the media presented one candidate on defense and the other on offense.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HILARY CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I have turned over 55,000
pages of e-mails.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: I will build a
great, great deal wall on our southern border and I will have Mexico pay
for that wall.
CLINTON: That was a mistake and I take responsibility for using a personal
TRUMP: Anyone who has entered the United States illegally is subject to
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: This brand new study is 140 pages. But you know what, the short
version boils down to but her e-mails. And here is the third and final
point in the data. And this may sound harsh but this is what the numbers
show. On the internet, Clinton supporters shared actual news stories from
news outlets that they liked. And Trump supporters shared opinion pieces
from partisan and propaganda outlets. So, Clinton`s top sources were
journalist like the New York Times, Washington Post, and Politico while
Trump supporters according to this massive amount of data, chose partisan
outlets like The Daily Caller and Breitbart.
Indeed, like it or not, on the election`s most widely covered policy,
immigration, the numbers show Breitbart was the most prominent site over
all journalistic outlets. And this is a map from the study which shows the
top stories. That big, big red blob, the most influential blob it`s
Breitbart. Of course, Breitbart was literally run by the Trump Campaign
Manager Steve Bannon. It`s the liberal equivalent of it for site run by
James Carville was literally your top source for election information all
election long. You know Pat Moynihan used the say, “everyone`s entitled to
their own opinion but not their on facts.” The new research shows, 2016
was an election where people felt entitled to let their opinions dictate
their own bubble, perhaps a big red bubble of alternative facts.
Bob Faris conducted that news study with colleagues at Harvard Center for
the Internet Society and Veteran Political Reporter Farai Chideya, covered
six Presidential cycles, reporting from 49 states, 28 countries and she`s
currently studying the 2016 election at Harvard. I appreciate your both
being here for an important conversation and one that involves self-
reflection and criticism if we`re so capable. Mr. Faris, beyond what I
just laid out, what is the key finding here going forward especially for
people who want better or more accurate information?
ROBERT FARIS, HARVARD`S BERKMAN KLEIN CENTER FOR INTERNET AND SOCIETY
RESEARCH DIRECTOR: Thank you so much, Ari, for having me on today. So
what we found you summarized quite well is that we`re seeing juxtaposition
of what`s essentially too distinct to me disappears that is (INAUDIBLE)
tied. And that the conservative media sphere is more partisan, it`s more
insular, it`s more tilted towards the right than the left wing media
sphere. And what they dis is they were – they stayed on message and the
take away from their coverage was unmistakable. It was the Trump good
Clinton bad, corrupt, self-serving, dishonest. While the mainstream media
covered both sides.
MELBER: Right. Let me bring in – I want to bring in Name then. I mean,
this is not what people think. The numbers are fascinating. People think,
trump personality and you count it up and says, actually they`re talking
about Trump`s policies and they`re talking her scandals.
FARAI CHIDEYA, SHORENSTEIN CENTER ON MEDIA, POLITICS AND PUBLIC POLICY:
Right. Well, part of it is you have to understand that there`s that
principle you know, no advertise – no press is bad press. And so, even
when Donald Trump was talking about immigration in the context and later
people would go on and rebut him and say that was factually incorrect, he
was still getting his message across to his supporters and it was still
sinking in. So I covered, for example, Sheriff Joe Arpaio in 2010 and very
hard liner on immigration, he loved doing press and he loved doing hostile
press because people still listened to him. They listened around the facts
to his sound bites. And some news outlets just ran wall to wall Trump and
didn`t really moderate what he was saying.
So, why did we hear a million times about building wall? We could say once
instead and you know, and some outlets did this but it could have been done
more. Once again Donald Trump makes his argument for building the wall but
instead, we heard it again and again and it became essentially free
advertising which changed people`s minds.
MELBER: So Rob, did these findings surprise you?
FARIS: Somewhat, yes. We were surprised at the degree of partisanship and
asymmetry there. The typical story was the left is moving left and the
right is moving right. And we found that to be wrong. We were surprised
by the amount of coverage on Clinton scandal across the election but the
data is very strong and very telling on that point.
MELBER: Yes. Data is amazing. I want to read a little more from your
study for folks who don`t read the whole thing although I recommend it.
Top stories for Trump all told, all media Farai, trade, jobs, immigration.
It`s like what he said he was running on. Top stories for Clinton, jobs
then Clinton foundation scandals, then number one, I know you know it.
CHIDEYA: The e-mails.
MELBER: Clinton e-mails.
CHIDEYA: Well, I mean, this is part of the false equivalencies. And I
remember, I can`t remember which specific reporter but there was a reporter
or editor from the New York Times who is said we did make an effort to
really talk about the Clinton e-mails in order to be nonpartisan. So there
was this idea that everything should – the scale should be weighted
MELBER: That being partisan about giving extra scandal coverage made you
CHIDEYA: Correct. In retrospect because –
MELBER: What did they say in Scooby-Doo? Like how is that make you more
nonpartisan? Well, I mean, it was – it was this idea that, I mean, I
think there was a lot of builds up where people thought that Clinton was
inevitable but that then weighted the scale so that some journalists began
to say, well, we`ve got to do every negative story to be – to be
MELBER: You put it so well because we do have a job to be hard on anyone
in the sense of what facts show but you can`t play the perception game of
whether people are going to say that you`re unfair because then you just
play yourself. And so, you have all these reporters that someone said what
you`re saying here. Someone said to you, I did that to look better. I
mean, that`s wild. Mr. Faris, you`ve done a great service I think by
letting the data lead the conversation. And Farai, a very veteran
journalist, I hope you come back on THE BEAT.
CHIDEYA: Thank you both.
MELBER: Thank you both. More breaking news tonight, we got to give you an
update on this. North Korea has now fired an unidentified projectile into
the sea of Japan. This is breaking this hour, the news confirmed by NBC
News and according to a South Korean Military Official saying they`re
analyzing the details. There`s much we don`t know and we`ll wait to report
the rest as the story comes together. And I want to tell you this, it has
been a busy week all week in the news and you know we have a lot to talk
about on FallBack Friday like who needs to fall back. I`m proud to say we
have comedian and daily show veteran, now writer for the Full Frontal with
Samantha Bee, Travon Free along with Lauren Duca and the Daily Beast`s
Jamil Smith. You won`t want to miss this Fallback Friday.
MELBER: It has been another long week and we`ve reported on some serious
stories all week and especially today. So we`re going to take a few
moments like we do every Friday for FallBack Friday
FallBack Friday is a chance for us to tell someone, anyone you want to pick
to chill out, to relax or even reassess their choices this week. And we
have really good panel this time for it. Back with me is Jamil Smith, a
Contributing Writer from the Daily Beast, Travon Free, a veteran on The
Daily Show and now with Samantha Bee and Lauren Duca a reporter for Teen
Vogue. Hi, everybody.
TRAVON FREE, COMEDIAN, ACTOR, WRITER: What`s up man?
MELBER: We need this. name, who needs to fall back?
FREE: I think the – I think the NFL, I wanted them to fall back, man.
It`s – the fact that Kaepernick – Colin Kaepernick is not playing
football, it`s not assigned to a team is insane, especially guys like Brock
Osweiler is assigned to a team, and that guy couldn`t draw a lock at the
ocean. Meanwhile, Kaepernick touchdown to interception ratio is 4:1 and
were still like rallying and begging for this guy to get a job. There`s
like 20 quarterbacks not better than Kaepernick who were playing football.
MELBER: Jamil, do you agree?
SMITH: Yes. As Browns fan, I definitely think Brock Osweiler needs to
fall back. But I think that you need to also put blame on the fans. You
know, the fans are the ones who put the pressure on the owners to make
these kinds of business decisions. And so, you know, fans need to reassess
their choices in this regard too.
MELBER: Choices, we`ve all got choices. Lauren, who needs to fall back?
LAUREN DUCA, TEEN VOGUE COLUMNIST: Philip Rucker from the Washington Post
MELBER: Sure viewers know him.
DUCA: – who is phrasing Trump after his Afghanistan military speech as a
new – a new President. And I just – I don`t really know what threw him
off, maybe the President`s ability to read from a teleprompter without
causing a national disaster.
MELBER: I think we have Rucker`s tweet. He said, tonight, a new President
Trump acknowledging a flip-flop and taking – excuse me – talking about
the gravity of office history and substance.”
DUCA: I just – I think that this is so indicative of the need to
normalize, desperation for respectability, to have something that`s so
mundane and so ordinary, we receive a pat on the back is very unnerving.
And then I have a bonus one if I can do one more.
MELBER: Bring it.
DUCA: James Cameron, talking about Wonder Woman is my other thing that
needs to fall back. He was saying that Wonder Woman is setting women back
is James Cameron`s opinion. And I just think that the significance of that
movie and having a female super hero was hugely significant even if there
is a sexual, you know, it`s a super hero, OK, so it`s good to be fit.
MELBER: My understanding, and Travon, you are a Hollywood guy. My
understanding is James Cameron never falls back.
FREE: Well, it`s funny how guys, especially in Hollywood, guys like him
who come forward and say things like this about women, you always find out
that they`ve treated women terribly in their lives.
DUCA: (INAUDIBLE) and you`re going to need to him talk about the fact that
he pulled his all-male crew repeatedly to make sure the aliens were you
know, something they would hook up with in Avatar.
FREE: Like who does that?
MELBER: I like how smart the aliens were in Avatar but that`s just –
DUCA: OK (INAUDIBLE)
MELBER: Jamil, who needs to fall back?
SMITH: Taylor Swift needs to fall back. Not just the video teaser for
whatever is going to be released on Sunday looks like (INAUDIBLE) version
of Lemonade but also the song itself is rubbish and just further his feud
with Kanye West which she already lost. I mean, we already know that you
lied about you know, consulting with this line with Kanye, Taylor so just
stop trying to convince us.
MELBER: Let me ask – let me – can I push you, Jameil?
MELBER: I prefer personally, I prefer Beyonce to Taylor, that`s just me.
SMITH: I hope so.
MELBER: But what if – what if when you look at the photos too, what if
it`s tribute? What if it`s Taylor saying oh, Beyonce is awesome. That was
an awesome look in formation and she wants to give tribute because we know
in music, you do give tribute to earlier looks and beats.
SMITH: I think it`s a little too soon for tribute. At this point it looks
like plagiarism so –
DUCA: I have a thing, too, which is this woman has been campaigning on
this girl power brand where just feminism is an accessory to her. And her
silence during the election was absolutely deafening coming out of that PR
positioning. And this song needed to make me like be unable to not dance.
And it just wasn`t very good.
FREE: Yes, I mean, she`s never said – that`s such a great point. She`s
never said a thing about anything related to any type of issues going on in
the last five years.
DUCA: Think big or go home.
FREE: Right. The idea that that can be some type of homage to Beyonce is
MELBER: OK, so my idea so – I was just – it`s a crazy question.
FREE: No, no, no. I`m saying if somebody – if somebody said – that
might be her excuse now because she`s singing on the back ledge she might
say it`s an homage.
MELBER: So you`re saying – I get it. You are saying the host of THE BEAT
needs to fall back. That`s fine. I got a quick one. I got a quick one.
My nominee is Flat Earthers needs to fall back. Because this is a special
edition of FallBack Friday.
DUCA: I`m here.
MELBER: Look at this these. There are people – this is real – who said
if eclipses are real, why do you need NASA glasses to see them? Throw away
your glasses, expose the lies. These are people who believe, if you didn`t
wear your grasses, you`d find out the earth is flat. And that just blew my
mind. Thank all the time we had. Jamil, Travon, and Lauren, thank you for
SMITH: Thank you.
MELBER: And now we go to of course another great question. Who said it?
Here is our quote for you. “Keep others in suspended terror, cultivate an
air of unpredictability.” The answer after the break.
MELBER: We`re back with Who Said It? The quote, ” Keep others in
suspended terror, cultivate an air of unpredictability The answer? Author
Robert Greene. This is his book Seminole book the 48 Laws of Power, a
Machiavellian (INAUDIBLE). Published back in 2000 which has influenced
many power players, business executives, entertainment folks and maybe
Donald Trump. Ronald Greene will be on here THE BEAT on Monday to talk
about whether Trump is cultivating an area of unpredictability in his
governing style, what people can do about it.
That does it for our show, I will see you back here Monday night at 6:00
p.m. Eastern or tonight at 9:00 p.m. when I`m filling in for Rachel Maddow
and “HARDBALL” with Chris Matthews starts right now.
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