Avenatti says client was physically threatened. TRANSCRIPT: 03/16/2018. The Beat with Ari Melber
THE BEAT WITH ARI MELBER
March 16, 2018
Guest: Maya Wiley, Jonathan Capehart, Nancy Erika Smith, Liz Plank; Michael Isikoff, David Corn, Tony Schwartz, Pia Glenn, Jarrett Hill, Steven Brill
CHUCK TODD, MSNBC HOST: THE BEAT WITH ARI MELBER starts right now. Good
ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: You know, Chuck, I love a little redaction here in
TODD: Fair enough.
MELBER: Great show –.
TODD: My reaction is redetected.
MELBER: That could be a bad sign for me, Chuck. Great show. We will be
Tonight the White House is facing mounting questions about whether a
potential witness was, yes, physically threatened in order to create a
contract to keep her silence. This is a big and unusual story and the
development is coming.
And, of course, the Stormy Daniels` case. Her lawyer saying she was
physically threatened to stay silent about an alleged relationship with
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Was she threatened in any way?
MICHAEL AVENATTI, STORMY DANIELS` ATTORNEY: Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Was she threatened physical harm?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can you tell us whether it came from the President
directly, the physical threats?
AVENATTI: I`m not going to answer that.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Will you deny that the President of the United States
threatened your client?
AVENATTI: I will not confirm or deny it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: That is unusual news that broke as you saw right on the set of
morning show today. And it ricochet quickly to the White House where
reporters asked about and the White House denies Trump had any
relationship. And they also addressed the allegations.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I`m wondering if you talked to the President about that
if he knows who might have threatened her. And more generally if he has
more concerns about women accusers being threatened in that way.
SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Obviously, we take
the safety and security of any person seriously. Certainly, would condemn
anyone threatening any individual. But I have no knowledge of that
situation and would refer you to the President`s outside personal
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Now to be clear, that is the right answer, of course, condemning
even the prospective of that kind of threat ad violence. And I also want
to tell you we don`t have any more details here about what Stormy Daniels`
lawyer is alleging or who he is even alleging it about.
Now we can report that Donald Trump does have a history of working with
people and maintaining them on staff even after there are public accounts
of both verbal and physical threats. His longtime lawyer, Michael Cohen,
who is at the center of this deal with Stormy Daniels was known to carry a
pistol, which is his right. He also told reporters in 2011 his role is to
fix any problem. If you do something wrong I`m going to come at you, grab
you by the neck. Note the imagery. And I`m not going to let you go until
I`m finished. Now those are his words. And you can put those to the side
of you want as aggressive lawyering which I will tell sometimes does happen
especially in the passionate heat of rhetorical debates.
But I want to show you more. Look at actions from a different Trump
associate, his long-time bodyguard Keith Schiller. Now he left the White
House in September. But he remains on the RNC payroll. You can see his
interaction right there with a credentialed journalist he was removing
Jorge Ramos from a very famous press conference. Schiller also punched a
protester outside Trump tower.
(VIDEO CLIP PLAYING)
MELBER: I`m joined by Maya Wiley, former counsel to the mayor of New York
City, Liz Plank from Vox Media who has covered these stories a lot. And
also by attorney Nancy Erika Smith. Now she represented Gretchen Carlson
in the sexual harassment lawsuit against FOX News CEO Roger Aisles.
Welcome to each of you. This is an unusual story to be covering. As you
know, it`s important in the journalistic side to be clear that it`s an
explosive allegation. But as I say not one with a ton of detail on it.
And I want to be fair about that.
But Maya, what do you make, first legally, of this lawyer going into what
we expect to be a very controversial “60 Minutes” interview in the future,
making this allegation?
MAYA WILEY, FORMER COUNCIL TO NEW YORK CITY MAYOR: I was surprised by it,
quite frankly. And one reason is because legally speaking since they are
litigating over the question of whether or not the temporary restraining
order around the nondisclosure agreement was appropriately issued by an
arbitrator, normally you would use a claim of physical force or coercion or
duress as one of the things you would state, would give you the right to
actually null and void the agreement. So that was ten days ago that they
went into L.A. superior court. And so it`s interesting and kind of
confusing that we are just hearing this today.
MELBER: So let`s get right to it because we chop it up. We are going to
open with some legal skepticism, Nancy. I had a similar thought which is
the current claim from this same lawyer for voiding the contract is a
missing signature and a vague claim of unconscionability which lawyers know
you can kind of throw in anything. If they had this physical duress claim
wouldn`t it be in, and as Maya said, in the papers?
NANCY ERIKA SMITH, GRETCHEN CARLSON`S ATTORNEY AGAINST ROGER AISLES: You
would think so. But we haven`t really seen the restraining order. So we
don`t know what he has been restrained about. And he was very circumspect
in what he said. And he was answering a question. He wasn`t – he didn`t
put it out there. He was answering a question. So, you know, it`s hard to
tell what`s going on when we have secret corporate courts in this country
where you have arbitrations for something this important to our whole
nation is taking place in secrecy.
MELBER: You think this is too important to be kept out of court?
MELBER: Let me show an exchange from another one of our friends of the
show, talented journalist Shelby Holliday, who pushed Michael Avenatti the
same lawyer on this kind of similar line of questioning earlier in the show
about why she signed.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SHELBY HOLLIDAY, REPORTER, THE WALL STREET JOURNAL: Why did she sign this
agreement in the first place if she wanted to tell her story?
AVENATTI: Well, I think she is going to disclose that. In fact, I`m
highly confident that if this interview is aired at some point in time,
that answer will be given.
MELBER: You are saying in the “60 minutes” interview, she is going to
reveal details as to why she took the money at the time and a logical
reason for why she wants to do undo that?
AVENATTI: I`m not going to state exactly what`s in the interview.
MELBER: I think you did just allude to it.
AVENATTI: I`m going to say that issue, I`m confident, will be touched
upon. How about that?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Too many lawyers. But it seems when we connect all these dots
that he is moving forward and he`s obviously doing this in the public
forum, revealing little bits and bits more what he was previewing there and
what he made official today is this other argument that apparently we are
going to get a lot of detail on in “60 Minutes.”
LIZ PLANK, SENIOR PRODUCER, VOX MEDIA: Right. And you know, Donald Trump
loves to criticize the media. And so there is a risk in putting all of
this and letting the media sort of litigate this instead of courts because
he can just say it is fake news, right.
But I still think this is an important story. It`s the first time that,
you know, there is a story that involves a woman and Donald Trump in a
post-Me Too era, where men can`t necessarily buy off women`s silence and
powerful men, you know, who were friends with Donald Trump, like Bill
O`Reilly and Roger Aisles, you know, buying off the silence of women. And
now we are listening to what women say and, and, and, you know, you are
kind of wondering, what does Stormy Daniels know that Donald Trump doesn`t
want us to know?
MELBER: Well, and Nancy, I wonder if you could broaden this out for us in
terms of where the legal fight and women`s advocates and feminism figure
in. Because what we are hearing a bout, you know, people talking about
receipts. We are hearing a lot about what I think is so important, which
is legal receipts, whether it`s at the Oscars and we are talking about the
inclusion rider or your client, Gretchen Carlson, talking about these NDAs.
Why do you think women`s advocates now are in this place talking about
these details and how to fix them?
SMITH: Well, we are in this place now because I have been a lawyer for 38
years and we haven`t made a dent in sexual harassment until we had
journalism reveal these secret deals. And the women don`t want them.
MELBER: Maybe you and Liz need to pound, I don`t know.
SMITH: Yes. My clients don`t want them. But they have been sexually
harassed. They are hoping to keep their jobs. They learned early on once
we complained that they are not going to keep their jobs. Maybe they are
not going to keep their careers. And then they are told to shut up about
it. We are tired of that. And the light of day is what is changing it.
WILEY: This is a critically important point. I couldn`t agree more. The
concern I want to raise is actually 19 women did complain.
WILEY: In fact, their complaints, and many of their complaints in New York
would be a class a misdemeanor of forcible touching. And this, well before
Stormy Daniels, they have been trying to raise attention to this issue for
months now, including as recently as December.
MELBER: And there is a connection, though, right? Because those women
were also threatened with litigation by Donald Trump. They were told in
public, I will sue you to prove I`m right. I think some Trump voters may
have believed that and they may have been wrong. This is still being
litigated. But that sounded tough.
Let me play and then I want your response, Maya. This is how Donald Trump
worded that on the campaign trail.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Every woman lied when they
came forward to hurt my campaign. Total fabrication. The events never
happened. Never. All of these liars will be sued after the election is
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILEY: Well, and as we know, Summer Cerbos has sued Donald Trump for
defamation. Look, 19 women, 19. Some of those were teens in a beauty
pageant that he where literally walked in to watch them changing their
clothes and then told them not to worry about it, at least allegedly.
Right? And so, I think the point is that if anyone else in this country
had that number of complaints against them, we would all be pointing to the
number of complaints as a strong indication that there`s some very
problematic behavior there.
SMITH: This is a man who is admitting this behavior. He admitted the Miss
Universe, peeking in on young girls. And he admitted grabbing women who
don`t want to be grabbed.
WILEY: Multiple times, actually. More than once. Not just “access
SMITH: Yes. So why aren`t we believing the women?
MELBER: Let`s continue the conversation. I want to add in some voices
from Washington Jonathan Capehart, of course, part of the Pulitzer-prize
winning team at the “Washington Post” as well as NBCnews.com contributor
Howard Fineman. And the panel stays.
Jonathan, your view of the import of this story in Washington?
JONATHAN CAPEHART, OPINION WRITER, WASHINGTON POST: It`s very important.
I think in the sort of whirlwind hurricane that is the Trump
administration, it`s amazing that the original Stormy Daniels story didn`t
even, in some major newspapers, didn`t even make the front page. It was
buried on like a-5, a-17.
But I think what is happening here is there is a lot of anticipation
building up to this Stormy Daniels` interview that she taped with “60
Minutes.” I believe it was last week. It`s due to come out in another
week from now. And what her attorney is doing, I think you talked about
this a moment ago, is teasing out what could possibly come out from that
interview. And I think in Washington, a city that at this point, I think
people are like, what could you possibly tell me that is going to shock me
a year and a few months into the Trump administration?
We could be looking at a situation where what Stormy Daniels says in that
“60 Minutes” interview could either change the entire narrative and
conversation or it could just be one more drop in an oversized bucket of
MELBER: Yes, a large, a large bucket.
Howard, I wonder if you could respond to some of the points that the
panelists made here at the top of the show, including Nancy`s point that
there has to be interaction between the litigation and journalism.
HOWARD FINEMAN, NBCNEWS.COM CONTRIBUTOR: Well, couple of things. First of
all, I think Liz and company are absolutely right that post Me Too adds an
extra dimension to this. And we shouldn`t underestimate that as far as the
general public is concerned, which isn`t always following the ins and outs
of the court case the way we are. That`s the first thing I would say.
This guy – to me, this story is very much more than people realize about
Mike – excuse me, about Michael Avenatti. This guy is the polar opposite
of prosecutor Mueller. Mueller never operates – no, listen to me.
Mueller never operates in public only below the surface legally. The guy
in Los Angeles is an L.A., Hollywood lawyer but with substantial corporate
experience. This guy is a piece of heavy, legal artillery. He really is.
Because he knows how to try the case in public, which is what he is doing
right now. And in a sense, Donald Trump, the biggest picture here is that
Donald Trump is in the pincer (ph) – the subject of a pincer (ph) move by
the guy who is operating legally on low level but serious stuff. And the
lower guy who is operating on something that the public, if this comes out
the way it could, will just be riveted by.
Donald Trump cannot fire enough people from his cabinet between now and a
week from Sunday to keep people from watching that thing. And that`s what
Avenatti is doing. And I would disagree with you, Ari. I hate to disagree
on a legal point.
MELBER: Go ahead. Go ahead.
FINEMAN: OK. That Avenatti is being very shrewd about sticking to the
procedural thing first. You say why, if he has an abuse claim, why did he
put it out now? Think about that. He is trailing this out as long as he
can, he is sticking with procedure first, which is the NDA, and then going
to the substance, which he will try first on “60 Minutes” before he does
anything else. He hasn`t filed a case against Donald Trump on the
substance. This is all procedure.
This guy has had two topics of his, two cases of his already on “60
Minutes.” And he began his career as an Opo (ph) guy for Rahm Emanuel.
And by the way, Rahm Emanuel did not hire, to use a technical term, putzes
(ph), which is what Michael Cohen actually is.
SMITH: Well, what is interesting is that Donald Trump went on the air and
called all these women liars. And some of them who had NDAs, he waived his
right to go to arbitration because he entered into self-help and paid all
these opinions and all these threats and he said all this stuff. And now
they are supposed to shut up in a secret arbitration proceeding. He waived
that. He is not going to be able to say we should be in arbitration now
that I blew off all my steam.
CAPEHART: Ari, I wanted to jump on something that Howard just mentioned
about Michael Avenatti. Michael Avenatti is playing this in two courts,
the legal court but also the court of public opinion.
CAPEHART: And this is where I agree with Howard. There`s only one court,
really, that Donald Trump truly cares about in terms of his public persona
and that is the court of public opinion.
MELBER: And the people`s court because it`s televised.
CAPEHART: Right. And so I think the President may have met his match in
Michael Avenatti because he is going up against someone who is basically
peer to peer when using television in the case.
MELBER: Liz, take it home to that point. That Avenatti, if anything, is
speaking the President`s language by making this all about a sequential
strategic media march.
PLANK: Absolutely. And that`s what Donald Trump has been doing well of
two years now. And I think that his silence also speaks volume. Donald
Trump talks about everything, right? He tweets about everything, even
things he doesn`t know anything about. Why is he being completely silent
WILEY: All I was going to say is actually in the lawsuit they do claim
some coercion. It`s the suggestion that it`s actually Michael Cohen. So
I`m still confused about why we are just hearing about it even on the march
MELBER: Yes. And it is very elliptical, though, I would say. It`s not a
direct claim to invalidate it.
MELBER: And since you all made such great points, I wanted to end on a
very lame technical point.
MELBER: I`m very grateful to what I think was a very (INAUDIBLE) panel. I
learned a lot from you, Liz Plank, Nancy Erika Smith, Jonathan Capehart,
and Howard Fineman. And Maya, please stay with me for fallback Friday.
Coming up, the White House says no one has been fired even on Friday night.
We are going to speak exclusively to “Art of the deal” ghost writer Tony
Schwartz about fear and how it works in America.
Also tonight, a new plan on what Facebook maybe won`t do but could do. I
have an entrepreneur launching a new program to stop into fake news.
And another deep dive into why Bob Mueller is targeting that faithful trip
to Moscow. The two journalists who are literally writing the book on the
Russia probe are here.
All that here plus, as I mentioned, fallback Friday. It is going to be a
I`m Ari Melber. You are watching THE BEAT on MSNBC.
MELBER: More scandals rattling the Trump White House. These questions
surrounding, of course, Russian interference in 2016, Stormy Daniels, which
we have been discussing. Mueller now eyeing Trump`s own business. A lot
of these questions come up, of course, in the Christopher Steele Russia
And my special guests tonight live journalist David Corn and Michael
Isikoff have been on it from the beginning. They have a brand-new book
with new revelations. Now on the dossier, it shows some of these claims
have borne out, some have not been verified.
Meanwhile Trump`s lawyer, Michael Cohen, as we reported this week, suing
Buzz Feed for their original publication of the document. In fact, last
night we broke the news that Buzz Feed is going right after the President
in response, demanding he preserve all materials related to Stormy Daniels.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: What Mr. Cohen told me is he do the right thing. Do you read that
as the White House will then provide all of this or not? He also mentioned
to me that tonight was the first time he had seen your letter.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I`m not convinced the White House is going to give me
anything without a fight and I`m ready to fight that fight.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: So in this new book, “Russian Roulette,” there`s the inside story
of Putin`s war in America and they talk about the 2013 Miss Universe
pageant in Moscow. A trek to Russia was the birth of bromance or was it
something worse that would soon upend American politics and they write
quote “scandalize Trump`s presidency.” The authors are here now.
Let me start with you, David. The Miss Universe pageant is something that
many point to as an origin story. And yet, your book recounts how Donald
Trump nervously seem to keep question whether Putin would even show up. Is
that, in some way, exculpatory to Trump?
DAVID CORN, MOTHER JONES: No. It shows that Trump had an obsessive desire
to meet with Putin. He had been tweeting about him coming to Miss Universe
contest. And once he got there, he kept asking everyone around him, will
he meet with me? Will he come to the contest? Will I hear from him? It
shows that he had two things, an aspirational affinity for the strong man
leader but also a real concern to forge a bond with him because he was
committed to this lifelong desire of building a tower in Moscow. That was
the whole point of Miss Universe. It was a stepping stone to working with
a billionaire oligarch who is sponsoring the package don`t build a tower.
And those guys whom he forged a bond with then were the ones who helped his
campaign make connections with the Kremlin in 2016. So it`s all connected.
The business ties to the campaign association with Kremlin cut outs.
MELBER: Michael, what would you say in your view is the most significant
revelation you have unearthed for the book?
MICHAEL ISIKOFF, CHIEF INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT, YAHOO! NEWS: Well,
there is actually quite a few. But I think just picking up on what David
is saying, the relationships with the Agilarovs (ph), Aris Agilarov (ph),
the billionaire oligarch who is known by the way, as Putin`s builder, his
son and that publicist (INAUDIBLE).
Go back to what`s the most significant – one of the most significant,
certainly, developments in the Russia investigation, the Trump tower
meeting. Right? The notorious Trump tower meeting where they offer
derogatory information on Hillary Clinton to the highest officials in the
Trump campaign. That was set up by Agilarov (ph), and his father Aris
Agilarov (ph) and Goldstone who sends the fateful emails to Donald Trump
MELBER: Right. And we were just looking at some of that footage.
MELBER: I mean, your point being these weren`t just any guys. These were
ISIKOFF: No. These were guys who Trump had a relationship with. Trump
personally going back to actually before Moscow. Las Vegas, when he first
meets them. And then they go out partying at this raunchy Las Vegas
You know, there was – before that famous Trump tower meeting, there was an
initial Trump tower meeting in January 2015, which we disclose in our book
for the first time.
MELBER: David let me ask you – David, let me ask you, does your book show
that the Obama administration was not strong enough in responding to this
in real time?
CORN: Chapter 14. It`s my favorite chapter in the book, Ari, because it
goes into the August and September of 2016 when the Obama White House gets
this top secret intelligence indicating that Russia is behind the attack on
the election and they have to consider what to do.
There are people in the NSC staff, the National Security Council staff, who
want to have strong counter measures, cyber-attacks on Putin and his
cronies and Russian new sites. Obama is worrying about disruptions to the
election. And we just learned in the last day that the same time, they had
intelligence indicating the Russians were probing and perhaps in a position
to threaten the electrical grid and nuclear power plants in the United
States and Europe.
And in those high-level meetings in the White House in the sit room,
director of national intelligence James Clapper says if we strike back with
cyber. We could escalate into a cyberwar and they might be able to take
down our grid. So, lots of dilemmas. I would commend people to read that
chapter and think.
MELBER: You`re not answering the question. I don`t know why. How about
both of you answer it, David yes or no, should they – hold on. Gentlemen?
MELBER: David then Michael, yes or no, should they have done more in real
CORN: What I believe they should have done is been more public and
forceful in their statements and tell the public early on what was
ISIKOFF: Yes. And as we report in the book, there were people on the
White House staff who believed very strongly that if you don`t strike back
in real time, you are going to - you are sending a signal that they can get
away with it.
Michael Daniel, the White House cyber security coordinator who developed
these really creative options for going after the Russians, shutting down
their news sites, dumping information, information about Putin`s corruption
and secret bank accounts in Latvia. Susan Rice, Obama`s national security
director calls him in and says stand down. Knock it off. We don`t want to
box the President in. That was a fateful move that basically, you know,
sent a signal to people who wanted a more forceful response.
MELBER: And that`s what I thought the book did in fascinating detail. It
showed a road to Trump Russia that is damning for the current
administration but also perhaps with the benefit of hindsight showed a lot
of problems with the prior administration given what we know now.
David Corn and Michael Isikoff, thank you. Congratulations on the book.
ISIKOFF: Thanks, Ari.
MELBER: Up ahead, the White House claiming no new firings tonight. I have
a special guest on how Donald Trump continues to exhibit fear. Tony
Schwartz, the co-author with Donald Trump of “art of the deal” is here.
That`s a live picture. And je joins me next.
Also, how does Jay-Z`s advice on charity help stop fake news? There is a
media mogul with a brand new plan he says he might even get Mark Zuckerberg
involved. I will tell you all about that.
And of course, it`s Friday so it is time to fall back. Fallback Friday
MELBER: This week the story in Washington has been dominated by staff
changes, rumors of those changes, Trump aides leaking against each other
and a mounting sense of chaos followed by denials. But on this Friday
night, let`s pull back from that daily and even hourly story. We want to
do something different in this next conversation and explore how a looming
sense of chaos is broader than any single story, how fear itself permeates
our emotions, organizes the way we see world. And want to do it with a
special guest and friend of the show, bestselling author, and journalist
Tony Schwartz. He specializes in addressing how emotions define our lives
and how we interact with other people.
Tony is also known for some writing he did briefly in his 30s, ghost-
writing the book that put Trump on the map, the Art of the Deal. He now
donates the profits from that book to immigration groups. Now he recently
observed Trump`s made fear, the dominant emotion of our times. And as we
move into fight or flight mode, we can become more self-centered, our
vision narrows to the threat, we lose the capacity for empathy,
rationality, and proportionality. Now, Trump says he doesn`t read much but
he certainly grasps the focusing power of fear and he used campaign rallies
to narrate how the MS-13 gang deploys violence.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: But MS-13 is particularly
violent. I was reading one of these animals was caught and explaining they
like to knife them and cut them and let them die slowly because that way
it`s more painful and they enjoy watching that much more. These are
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: But focusing on Trump can obscure the much wider dynamic. We live
we live in a world now that`s more stable, more prosperous, less disease
ridden than a century ago, but which is also a more complex and then
features global problems that are profoundly scary from the very real
prospect of climate change and pandemics wiping out large parts of the
population to technology stoking a nuclear standoff that gets out of
control. Democratic politician Lyndon Johnson ran an ad to scare voters
about his opponent, Barry Goldwater. The ad was actually created by media
consultant Tony Schwartz, no relation. You see it there, the famous daisy
ad. Ronald Reagan had his iconic bear which scared voters about the threat
of the Soviet Union, represented by a bear to suggest fear was rational and
should animate a tough foreign policy.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: For some people, the bear is easy to see. Others don`t
see it at all. Since no one can really be sure who`s right. Isn`t it
smart to be as strong as the bear if there is a bear?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: If there is a bear. You know, that ad is provocative because the
picture`s certainty, scary bear on screen, overrides any caveats from that
narrator, at least most viewers thinking yes, let`s be ready for the bear
that`s already advancing on that dude. But this isn`t just about ads or
campaigns, it`s about the emotion that drive our world view.
There`s a Yale study that showed people who imagine they have more physical
safety found their attitudes moved left while a perception of fear moved
people to the right. Now, is there a way to stop fear from controlling us?
And why is fear so dominant in America right now? Well, for answers I turn
to the person whose ideas informed much of what a just said. Tony Schwartz
is back on THE BEAT. Thanks for being here.
TONY SCHWARTZ, CO-AUTHOR, ART OF THE DEAL: Thank you for having me.
MELBER: Why so much fear?
SCHWARTZ: Well, why not? I mean, we`re living in a world – you know,
fear is basically caused by uncertainty, by change, and by insecurity. All
those are rampant in the world right now. And you know, what was
interesting after we spoke last week is that we ended up, subsequently, off
the camera talking about what is a different perspective, what`s a wider
perspective that we could bring with this and bring to the national
conversation that goes beyond fear?
Because fear is what`s narrowing us and what`s putting us in this
contracted state and it`s not a good state from which to operate. And I
think that what`s interesting is to imagine what is a perspective that
wouldn`t be, and an emotional state so polarized and so black and white and
so focused on where our differences are as opposed to where our
MELBER: And you look at that, you have also talked me a little bit about
freeze – we`re talking about fighter flight. Then there`s the concept of
freeze which is the situation where you concluded you can neither defeat
this dangerous opponent confronting you but you also cannot safely bolt it.
You can`t do the flight. I`m sure some people watching at home may feel to
some degree if you live in America that they`re in a fear freeze as a long-
SCHWARTZ: Yes, I think that – I think freeze is the most extreme version
of flight in the fight, flight, freeze, freeze is the end game. It`s when
you just feel you`ve given up and you`ve turned over.
MELBER: It`s a type of flight but it`s the surrender flight?
SCHWARTZ: It`s the surrender. And listen, you know, I think the answer is
for us to ask this question, what are we not seeing? I think that`s the –
that`s the question that gives us the potential to escape this place that
we find ourselves in. And that`s – essentially, first of all, what I`ve
been doing 15 years at the energy project which is my company, you know,
helping leaders to see more, to take more variables into account, to be
less narrowly focused so they can be bigger, better and more capable human
And what that involves is a perspective that`s about less about –and you
talked about this difference between what happens to people when – on the
right and the left, less about protecting what you`ve got and more about
expanding what you can become.
MELBER: So I love that because that was also in the politics this week in
Pennsylvania. It was white working-class voters. It was people who have
all these reasons we`re told to feel fear and economic anxiety. I want to
show an ad that didn`t work but was against the Democratic Conor Lamb,
appealing to fear.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Conor Lamb has a weak record. As a Prosecutor, Conor
Lamb`s efforts ended in plea deals, allowed a drug kingpin who flooded our
streets with cocaine and heroin to receive a lighter sentence. Can we
really trust Conor Lamb to do the right thing?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: As long as I`ve been in and around politics, that voice and that
rhetorical question is devastating at the end of ads and are often run, not
exclusively, against Democrats, but often against Democrats, and there`s
something along the lines of “Can you really trust this person with your
kids?” They`re talking about a soldier and a prosecutor so you can point
out why it`s factually wrong. But you`re saying it`s deeper than the
facts. It`s not letting people fall into that fear trap?
SCHWARTZ: And the way you fall into the fear trap is that you know, as we
grow up, get more and more tied into the stories that we begin to tell
ourselves about who we are and who we`re not, and at a certain point, we
begin to think that the story we`re telling ourselves is actually who we
are when in fact it`s really just a way in which we`ve learned to protect
It`s a way in which we`ve defined reality but it is not reality. So what
happens is that once we locked into that story about who we are and about
what we believe, we stop growing and we stop learning. And that a place
where that kind of ad can really lock people in and prevent them from, in
effect, spreading their wings, from seeing, again I`m going to say, seeing
more because what happened is you know, you have the phenomenon of
And in confirmation bias, basically, the way you look at the world is to
have it confirm what you already believe. So Clinton supporters have found
a way to rationalize what Clinton did in terms of women and sexual abuse.
Trump supporters can justify 19 women – 19 women you know, sexually
assaulted. I mean, it`s basically the (INAUDIBLE) and the boxer. A man
hears what he wants to hear and disregards the rest.
MELBER: Disregards the rest. Are we going to Graceland?
SCHWARTZ: You`re going forward ten years or 20 years. Yes, we are.
MELBER: Tony Schwartz, you`re fascinating to listen to on the show, off
the show and you said something very important that resonates with I think
what I hear from other people and people who watch THE BEAT sometimes which
is that desire to grow, to go beyond what we think we already know or just
be confirmed. And so I hope – I hope you`ll come back and let`s continue
SCHWARTZ: Thank you.
MELBER: Up ahead, there is Facebook and fake news but there`s also
solutions. This Friday, I want to bring you the story of a prominent mogul
calling their bluff with a plan to combat fake news online. He`ll be here,
but first I have for you a special edition of Fallback Friday that`s back
in 90 seconds.
MELBER: It`s Friday on THE BEAT and you know what that means. It`s time
to fall back. And for this special edition, I have Jarrett Hill from the
Hollywood Reporter, our friend Maya Wiley and Pia Glenn who writes for
Comedy Central`s The Opposition with Jordan Klepper. She also famously
portrayed Condi Rice and Will Ferrell`s play about George Bush. There it
is. We dug it up.
PIA GLENN, ACTRESS AND WRITER: Yes, you dug.
MELBER: Good to see you all.
JARRETT HILL, CORRESPONDENT, HOLLYWOOD REPORTER: How is it going?
MELBER: Pretty good, long week. Jared, who needs to fall back?
HILL: Mine is for Snapchat. Snapchat has had quite a couple of weeks.
And they came up with advertisement, you can see here, it`s for a would you
rather slap Rihanna or punch Chris Brown.
MELBER: Are you serious?
HILL: Obviously social media was having none of this.
MELBER: I hadn`t seen that.
HILL: For anyone –
MELBER: I don`t want to see that.
HILL: You don`t want to see that. You have to wonder like what am I
selecting? Like, where am I going to go from here? If you don`t know the
context of it obviously, Chris Brown and Rihanna have this history of
domestic violence. And Rihanna actually clapped back at them on Instagram
story which was its own controversial piece. Snapchat their value has gone
down $800 million in just two days from her clap back.
MELBER: Who needs to fall back?
WILEY: Tucker Carlson needs to fall way on back, way on back for actually
comparing teachers talking about guns with students to teachers having sex
MELBER: I believe we have it. So, let`s take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TUCKER CARLSON, POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, FOX NEWS: Kids who are under the
care of a teacher, who has control of their grades in life are not free
agents. They can`t act fully independently, as you and I can because they
are under the control of an authority figure. This is really simple. This
is why teachers aren`t allowed to have sex with students because they`re in
power and the kids aren`t. So why are teachers allowed to direct kids
toward a political ideology? It`s really simple.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILEY: No. Just no. Just no.
MELBER: I mean –
WILEY: Talking about an actual issue that is being discussed around policy
versus sex with a child.
MELBER: It`s so – yes, it`s so problematic.
WILEY: It`s so problematic.
MELBER: Now, what would you say to the famous question defense that we all
use it from time to time? We were just asking a question.
WILEY: We were just asking a question.
MELBER: Just asking.
WILEY: Just asking about an issue. I don`t know. I`m just saying.
MELBER: For you, it`s just a hard no?
WILEY: It`s just a no.
MELBER: Pia, who needs to fall back?
GLENN: Orenthal James Simpson. O.J., the juice –
GLENN: – needs to hardily fall back. In a new interview, I think it was
today came out that he felt the need to state that he thinks Colin
Kaepernick made a mistake and was wrong. Yes, we have the – Colin made a
mistake. I appreciate what he was trying to say. Cool. I thought he made
a bad choice in attacking the flag. So A, not only – please, please, sir,
keep Colin Kaepernick`s name out of your mouth. Apologize to the families
of the people that you killed, allegedly. I`m supposed to say that, right?
MELBER: Well, it is – well, he was not convicted but you have your view
GLENN: I do. My view is that he is a murder, who also needs to not talk
about Colin Kaepernick so it`s a spectrum –
MELBER: There was a lot of DNA evidence.
GLENN: – of reasons why he needs to fall back. And if I may, a secondary
MELBER: Go for it. What do you got? You got another one?
GLENN: Well, we know that since I`m talking about the juice, at least a
portion of his defense was to pack the jury with black women and, you know,
ride on the assumption that they would just hate him because he married a
white woman and to everyone who tries to get a murderer off or get clicks
for your Web site, or do anything based on your misconceptions of what
black women are and what we do and what we think, fall back. You don`t
know us. You didn`t invite us to speak for ourselves or you can leave us
alone are your options.
MELBER: This is why I like Fallback Friday because it`s guest driven,
which is expert-driven, so people just bring it. I have a – I have a
really, really basic one which is drone bees. I don`t think we need them.
Walmart just patented them. They want to have drones for these high-tech
bee farms. You can look at some of this footage of other drones we`ve
already seen out and about. These drones, the idea that they would get
smaller and smaller and harder and harder to detect, I love tech, viewers
know we do a lot on tech here, but I`m just saying drone bees, fall back.
We don`t want to see it.
WILEY: What if they make honey?
MELBER: I`m sure they make something.
HILL: (INAUDIBLE) by all the places that those could pop up. I`m already
worried about Alexa being in my house and like drone, bees can just pop up
anywhere. Like how do you even know that they`re there? There`s a camera
and microphone, I don`t like that.
MELBER: Yes, I mean, I just think that we`re going – I mean, the old
robots were big. Smaller robots if they`re really smart and small and
undetectable, they`re going to be – I`m just putting it out in the news,
they`re going to be dangerous. My thanks to Jarrett Hill, Maya Wiley and
Pia Glenn on “FALLBACK FRIDAY.” Up ahead as promised, this is a new
solution being offered to tech companies to finally get serious about fake
news. The famous entrepreneur Steven Brill joins me on that next.
MELBER: It`s Friday so let`s turn to be solutions. There is developing
news on an actual solution to try to combat the fake news problem which, of
course, benefited the Trump campaign and that many tech companies have
simply failed to address. Facebook and Google insist they`re not media
companies but they are the largest providers of media in the world.
But now, a prominent media mogul basically calling their bluff and offering
some help. Lawyer and entrepreneur Steven Brill who founded the successful
channel Court T.V. and magazine American Lawyer is launching a private
company to combat fake news, verify real news and help tech companies
figure out the difference. Now, that intrigued us here on THE BEAT so we
invited Brill in to explain the idea and why he thinks it will take another
corporation to fix fake news.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STEVEN BRILL, FOUNDER, NEWSGUARD: Why is it a for-profit company? Well,
the tech companies and the platforms that we hope to partner with to help
solve a problem that they created. Last time I looked a for-profit, the
very good and public interest-oriented network that I`m speaking on right
now last time I looked is for profit. And I think those are good examples
of why a for-profit company can attract talent and in our case, we need
tech talent and journalism talent and management talent.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Now, by talent, he`s referring to journalists who will in this new
company police fake news and ratings that everyone can see. But for this
to work, the tech industry has to buy in.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: If I say the names of a few companies can, Google, Twitter,
Facebook, Youtube, part of Google, would it be fair to say that you have
reason to believe any of the leaders of those companies want to work with
BRILL: Very much so and you`ve left out quite a few but yes. We wouldn`t
MELBER: Steven, that`s what I do. I`m very incomplete.
BRILL: We wouldn`t have started this if we didn`t think that it was going
MELBER: Right, you`re a heavy hitter. You think you can fix this problem
and make money doing it?
BRILL: Yes. We think we can do well and do good.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Note Brill`s capitalist optimism there. He thinks fighting fakes
news is a good thing. And given his track record in journalism, I think
these media street credit there. But he`s candid this is about doing good
and making money. You could say Brill is channeling another wealthy
optimist Sean Carter who said I can`t help the poor if I`m one of them. I
got rich and gave back, that`s a win, win. Now, the tech companies are
rich in capital but frankly quite poor in factual information so maybe they
do need his Brill`s help. Now, while I had Brill on, he`s, of course, one
of the nation`s leading legal experts. I also had to also ask him about
BRILL: The most important thing about how Mueller is moving forward is
he`s doing it apparently without any leaks. So everything he does comes as
a complete surprise. The leaks are coming from the witnesses and defense
lawyers but not from him.
MELBER: Do you think Donald Trump would be able to prevail in avoiding
BRILL: Based on the Clinton case, the civil case, which you well know,
that seems unlikely. I mean, he could always take the Fifth Amendment.
MELBER: Sure, but is that good or bad for Donald Trump?
BRILL: It depends on what his testimony is.
MELBER: Spoken like the careful lawyer and journalist that you are.
Steven Brill, thanks for coming on THE BEAT.
BRILL: You`re welcome. Thanks for having me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: It always depends. Now up ahead, we`ve got breaking news on
breaking news, some of it from THE BEAT this week. That`s next.
MELBER: Well, sometimes the news can`t stop and it won`t stop and some of
it was made I got to tell you right here on THE BEAT this week. You think
about Stormy Daniels and Trump, that exploding with the allegation on
physical threat. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson bounced from his job,
Mike Pompeo tapped to take over. Then we have this Roger Stone filmmaker
break the news right here at this table that they were preparing a trip to
London to meet with the WikiLeaks Founder Julian Assange undercutting some
of Stone`s public denials.
Then there was the blue upset in Trump country which has Democrats quite
excited. Here on THE BEAT just last night, we broke the news of this
BuzzFeed legal action that takes a shot at the White House and Donald Trump
himself as a punch back against Michael Cohen`s definition suit. If you
want so see our view of the highlights, all of that is on our special video
THE BEAT this week.
We post it at our Facebook page at THE BEAT with Ari. It has even more
than what I just said, the week was that long. That does it for us. I
will see you right here Monday night 6:00 p.m. Eastern if you come on back.
But don`t go anywhere right now. I can tell you HARDBALL with Chris
Matthews is up next.
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