The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 02/10/15
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Chris. Thanks, man.
And thanks to you at home for joining us this hour.
We do have some breaking news tonight, awkwardly, concerning our own
network. NBC News has just announced that they are suspending longtime
“NBC Nightly News” anchor Brian Williams for six months without pay. Brian
Williams will be suspended both from his role as anchor of the evening
newscast and the show`s managing editor, which means he`s in charge of the
Tonight`s announcement, which has just happened within the last hour,
comes less than a week after Mr. Williams publicly apologized for saying he
had been on board a helicopter in Iraq in the very early days of the Iraq
war in 2003, a chopper he said that came under RPG fire, when, in fact, he
had not actually been on that helicopter.
In his apology, the anchor said he`d made a mistake, that he was
instead in a following aircraft, not the one that took fire. He said that
he essentially conflated the memory with his – he had conflated the story
with his memory. But he apologized.
After that apology, NBC opened an internal review of Mr. Williams`
reporting. Meanwhile, this weekend, on Saturday, Brian Williams announced
this. He said, “As managing editor of NBC Nightly News, I have decided to
take myself off of the daily broadcast for the next several days.” He
said, quote, “Upon my return, I will continue my career-long effort to be
worthy of the trust of those who place their trust in us.”
NBC News` review is still underway, that review is still ongoing.
But, again, the breaking news tonight is that the network has announced
that they are suspending Brian Williams without pay for six months.
In a statement tonight, the president of NBC News, Deborah Turness,
she said the suspension without pay is effective immediately.
Quote, “While on Nightly News on Friday, January 30th, 2015, Brian
misrepresented events which occurred while he was covering the Iraq war in
2003. It then became clear that on other occasions, Brian had done the
same while telling that story in other venues. This was wrong and
completely inappropriate for someone in Brian`s position.
In addition, we have concerns about comments that occurred outside NBC
News while Brian was talking about his experiences in the field. As
managing editor and anchor of Nightly News, Brian has a responsibility to
be truthful and to uphold the high standards of the news division at all
times. We felt it would have been wrong to disregard the good work Brian
has done and the special relationship he has forged with our viewers over
22 years. Millions of Americans have turned to him everybody and he has
been an important and well-respected part of our organization.”
We also have a statement from the head of NBC Universal, Steve Burke.
Mr. Burke says, in part, quote, “This has been a painful period for all
concerned and we appreciate your patience while we gather the available
facts. By actions, Brian has jeopardized the trust that millions of
Americans place in NBC News. His actions are inexcusable and the
suspension is severe and appropriate.
Brian`s life work – excuse me – Brian`s life`s work is delivering
the news. I know Brian loves his country, NBC News, and his colleagues.
He deserves a second chance and we are rooting for him. Brian has shared
his deep remorse with me and he is committed to winning back everyone`s
Again, that statement from Steve Burke, who`s the head of NBC
But, again, the breaking news tonight. NBC News announced tonight
that “Nightly News” anchor and managing editor, Brian Williams, is
suspended, without pay for six months.
Here is the awkward part for us. I said at the top, this was a little
awkward. Here`s why this is awkward for us on this show and for me as its
So, we are MSNBC. The NBC in that means we operate under the NBC
umbrella, and there is a good reason why you see so many faces from NBC
News on our air. It`s because we really are working partners with them.
We are working partners. We are partner organization with them within the
But tonight, even as we are reporting on this breaking news about the
news division of which we are a part, no, NBC News will not make anyone
available to discuss this story with us on the air. Now, that may change
in days ahead. You`d think if they`re going to talk to anybody about this,
we might reasonably get a leg up on getting interviews with any NBC News
executives to explain this decision, if only because we`re right down the
hall. But so far, no one.
Again, I hope in days to come that that might change. But as of yet,
we are not talking to NBC News executives about this yet. I live in hope.
And we`re going to have more on that in just a moment. But this has
been sort of a wild night of late breaking news, late breaking big news
about the media.
The other big breaking news to report tonight about the media is some
honestly really unexpected news, and that is that Jon Stewart, long time
host of “The Daily Show” on Comedy Central is stepping down from that job.
He`s stepping down from that job. He`s leaving “The Daily Show”. This
news just broke late night. Jon Stewart actually broke the news himself
during tonight`s taping of “The Daily Show.”
He told the audience that was there in person for tonight`s show that
he would be leaving the show. And, then, of course, the news very quickly
filtered out to the rest of the world.
Jon Stewart has been host of “The Daily Show” since shortly after its
funding. He has been host since 1999. He has been the one constant on
that show since then, even as a revolving cast of contributors and co-
conspirators and correspondents have come and gone.
The Comedy Central confirmed through a statement tonight that Jon
Stewart will be stepping down from that job by the end of this year. They
said, he will remain at the helm until later year.
And that`s a big deal, right? That is a big deal for the comedy world
since this news comes at the same time as comic legend David Letterman is
leaving his job at CBS. It`s also a big deal for the news and information
world broadly because for a whole generation of people, Jon Stewart has
been in the news, right?
I mean, yes, there is a whole news enterprise separate from what he
calls his fake news enterprise. But he has legitimately been source of
news and information and zeitgeist for nearly two decades running now. He
doesn`t like to talk about it that way. He doesn`t like to admit it that
way, but it`s true.
And maybe the most amazing thing about Jon Stewart`s run on the
national stage art is that it started like this. This is from the 1997
White House Correspondence Dinner when Jon Stewart at the last minute was
essentially the only guy they could get to be the comedy act for that
unpopular gig that night. Watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TERENCE HUNT: Now, we turn to a veteran of the stand up comedy
circuit and television. Jon Stewart is considered one of America`s top
young comedians. He has hosted his own night time talk show for MTV, aptly
titled “The Jon Stewart Show.” There is a lot more about Jon Stewart that
I can tell you, but one of the nicest things is simply this: he showed up
when someone else didn`t.
JON STEWART, COMEDIAN: I am very happy to be here and let me just
say, this is the nicest Seder I`ve ever been to.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Jon Stewart was the third choice at the White House
Correspondence Dinner that year. Rosie O`Donnell had been asked, she said
no. Dennis Miller had been asked, he said no. And so, they got this guy
nobody had heard of named Jon Stewart. And Jon Stewart since then had
simply been one of the most influential comedians on the planet. And it`s
because of stuff like this that he does on a nightly basis.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STEWART: There was some individuals who were wrong about the whole
(EXPLETIVE DELETED) thing, just wrong, just dead wrong, like, about
everything – all of them.
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: Let`s act now to get rid of
a tyrant who`s abused and killed his own people, who is procuring weapons
of mass destruction, substantial evidence to that effect.
BILL KRISTOL: The choice is disarming them by war or letting them
have these weapons of mass destruction.
PAUL WOLFOWITZ: Dealing with a country that can really finance
reconstruction and relatively soon.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Baathists who use their power to repress the
Iraqi people will be removed from office.
STEWART: By the way, you can have all of these memorable screw ups
and more. Just call now and order. That`s what I call being totally
(EXPLETIVE DELETED) wrong about Iraq.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: By the way, for all you kids watching at home,
Santa just is white. But this person is just arguing that maybe we should
also have a black Santa. But you know, Santa is what he is. And so, just
so you know, we`re just debating this because someone wrote about it, kids.
STEWART: (EXPLETIVE DELETED) just got real. Santa is just white.
And who are you actually talking to? Children who are sophisticated enough
to be watching a news channel at 10:00 at night, yet innocent enough to
still believe Santa Claus is real, yet racist enough to be freaked out if
he isn`t white.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: I should be noted, and I think it does need to be noted that
Jon Stewart himself at times veered out of the “just doing fake news here
lane” that he ascribed to. In 2010, Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert held a
joint rally in Washington, D.C. called the Rally to Restore Sanity and/or
Fear. It was sort of bluntly a response to the Tea Party maybe, a response
to the extremes in politics that were starting to take over the
Whatever it was, something like 200,000 people turned out for that
rally with Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert, and Jon Stewart sort of broke
out of his comedian role for a few moments at that very weird, very cool
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STEWART: But we live now in hard times, not end times.
And we have animus and not be enemies. Most Americans don`t live
their lives solely as Democrats, Republicans, liberals or conservatives.
Look – look on the screen, this is – this is where we are, this is who we
These cars – that`s a school teacher that thinks his taxes are too
high, he is going to work. There is another car, a woman with two small
kids can`t think about anything else right now. But this is us – every
one of the cars that you see is filled with individuals of strong belief
and principles they hold dear – often principles and beliefs in direct
opposition to their fellow travelers.
And yet these millions of cars must somehow find a way to squeeze one
by one into a mile long 30-foot wide tunnel carved underneath a mighty
river, carved by people, by the way, who I`m sure had their differences.
And they do it, concession by concession. You go, then I`ll go. You
go, then I`ll go. You go, then I`ll go. Oh my God, is that an NRA sticker
on your car? Is that an Obama sticker on your car? That`s OK, you go,
then I`ll go.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Jon Stewart speaking at the rally that he held with Stephen
Colbert couple of years ago that was sort of billed as a satire of
political rallies, but ended up being kind of political rally of its own.
I had a chance to interview Jon Stewart in 2010 after that rally, and
we talked about the difference between news and fake news, the difference
between news and social commentary, and how him as a comedian fit into
This is what he had to say about what he has been trying to do every
night on “The Daily Show”.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STEWART: I feel more of a kinship to Jerry Seinfeld than I do to, you
know, what you guys do, or what CNN does or what NBC does, in that he is
able to comedically articulate an intangible for people. When they see it,
they go: God, it`s been in my head, and it`s – I know it`s been in there,
but I never put it together with that kind of rhythm in four levels, and
that`s hilarious that you were able to articulate that.
He is a craftsman at that, like he is the best at being able to craft
those moments of sort of these intangible, esoteric thing and put them
together into something that really connects with people.
We try and do the same thing, but with a more political and social
avenue. But it`s still, if you were to look at our process, he is much
more our process than the news is. Does that make sense?
MADDOW: But what I know of your process seems similar to the way that
I put my show together.
STEWART: Then you really need to change that.
MADDOW: I know. I mean –
STEWART: You – we have to – because we`re parodying a news
organization, we have to have the logistics and mechanics of one –
STEWART: – but the process that the material goes through is not a
news process, it`s a comedy –
MADDOW: But it`s fact-checking.
STEWART: Well, we do that not to be journalists. We do that because
it wouldn`t be that funny –
MADDOW: If it was a lie.
STEWART: Yes, if it would be like, I think it`s pronounced Baltimore,
not Baltimore (ph), you know? You do that because untrue things stand out
like a sore thumb in –
MADDOW: Even though you identify as fake news, and having a – built
with a fake news process –
MADDOW: – I think –
STEWART: We don`t say fake – fake is wrong. That is a misnomer that
we use, it`s glib. It`s not – we`re not news anything. We`re commenting
on the news, comedically.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Commenting on the news comedically. That was Jon Stewart
back in 2010.
But again, the breaking news tonight is that Jon Stewart is leaving.
Jon Stewart is stepping down from his role as host of “The Daily Show” at
the end of this year. This does not appear a temporary stepping away like
he had when he took off time to go do a movie. No, this seems to be him
Jon Stewart announced the news himself during the filming of his show
tonight. It has been confirmed in a statement by Comedy Central. That
news, somewhat incredibly, is coming at almost exactly the same time that
NBC News has announced that America`s most iconic news anchor Brian
Williams is being suspended from his role as anchor of “NBC Nightly News”,
suspended for six months without pay after he misstated his role in a
combat incident in the early days of the Iraq war, in which he said he was
in a helicopter that came under fire when he, in fact, was not.
Joining us now to talk about all this and more is David Carr, “New
York Times” media columnist.
David, thanks very much for being with us tonight.
DAVID CARR, THE NEW YORK TIMES (via telephone): Nice to be with you,
MADDOW: So, this came as new news at the end of about a week now of a
lot of news about Brian Williams. Is this what you expected as a media
observer in terms of how NBC would handle this?
CARR: I think it was a good outcome. I do – I wanted to hear both
as a consumer and as a reporter from somebody besides Brian Williams about
this. It was – you know, him saying he was story, sort of kind of, and
then him saying he was taking himself off of the news.
And even though I know and like Brian, I thought to myself – well,
you really should not be in charge right now. You`re not the managing
editor of much of anything. You should sit still, and quiet, and find out
what is going to happen.
MADDOW: In terms of – it`s weird you know that this is happening at
the same time, within a few minutes of us getting the same announcement
about Jon Stewart leaving under very different circumstances on leaving
forever at “The Daily Show.”
But, I mean, just watching Jon Stewart`s coverage of this last night
on “The Daily Show” – I mean, I found it striking that his essential
defense of what happened to Brian Williams was that the news should not be
so high and mighty about getting stuff wrong, that it`s not that everybody
believes that the news, in particular, sort of the voice of god news is
always correct. In fact, the news has been wrong about some really
important stuff. And so, what explains the intense personal focus on
Brian Williams, given all of the things that come across as wrong on the
news all the time.
CARR: Yes, I think that Mr. Stewart did a good job as he often does
of proportionality is that, is it bad because you said you`re on a
helicopter that got hit or didn`t, or because you said another nation was
armed with weapons of mass destruction when that turned out not to be true,
which of those errors is worse? Which deserves really to be looked into?
I think it`s – I think it`s interesting what is going on with Jon
Stewart and Brian Williams because Brian Williams actually lived on that
continuum between the so-called real news and celebrity culture, those
commenting on the news, and is able to move through all of those worlds
with a great deal of gracefulness. As it turned out, he kind of got
tripped up, trying to make the trip back and forth.
MADDOW: David Carr, “New York Times” media columnist, joining us on
short notice tonight – David, thanks very much for your time. I
CARR: Oh, it was an absolute pleasure.
All right. Joining us now is Chris Smith, contributor editor for “New
York” magazine. He interviewed Jon Stewart for a piece just this past
Chris, thanks for being here. It`s nice to see you.
CHRIS SMITH, NEW YORK MAGAZINE: Thanks for having me, Rachel.
MADDOW: The thing that has been fascinating in the media about “The
Daily Show” is trying to find a niche for it, trying to find a way to
describe it, that accounts for its influence among newsmakers and among the
rest of the media, even as it maintains itself to be a comedy show.
Do you feel like that has been an appropriate focus or were we all
sort of missing the point about what Stewart was doing?
SMITH: Well, in that clip you showed from John talking with you, I
mean, he did a bad job of defining what he does, which in a crazy way is
the beauty of it, is he blurred a lot of these lines.
Yes, at the core, it`s jokes about the news. But over the course of
16 years, he really expanded what that meant. I mean, it sounded (ph)
satire, it sounded just stupid gags. It is at times straight out
commentary. It became over the years much more – in the past five or
eight or so years, a criticism of the media. And that was an interesting
But the fact that Jon never really pinned it down and didn`t want to -
- didn`t want the show to, is part of why it has been so successful.
MADDOW: That was actually going to be my next question to you, even
before you pointed that out, that the media criticism turned there. I
think – I felt like within the media, I don`t know a lot of people in the
business. I think I`m actually a little bit more isolated from my
colleagues that most mostly by choice because I`m shy.
SMITH: NBC won`t even come –
MADDOW: NBC won`t come to us about the Brian Williams decision for
example. I don`t have anybody`s phone number. But I feel like when Jon
Stewart turned his lens toward media criticism, it affected the way the
media thought about its own job, because I think we saw in him very
effective ridicule of the ways we get stuff wrong. Do you think that`s
SMITH: I think it`s very true, and a friend of mine and another
reporter pointed out today that when I wrote a piece about Jon in 2010, I
interviewed Brian Williams, and then about – Brian talked about why he
envied what Jon was able to do, and that`s ironic or comic or just weird
But yes, certainly people in the so called mainstream news business
took their queues from what John was doing, both to try to get larger
audiences, but to try to stay ahead of t he curve. He`s media criticism
grew in large part because Fox News was so successful, I mean it gave him a
great target about something he disagreed with, philosophically the
politics, but also how successful they`ve been in actually selling their
message, gave him a great target to pull apart whether, you know, it was
more serious stuff than Megyn Kelly and Santa Claus, or, you know, Cheney
and the run up to the Iraq war.
MADDOW: One of the things I have to say is somebody sort of obsessed
with how we got into the Iraq war. He, I feel like is the only other
person who is in the media at the same time that I am, who is as obsessed
with that topic.
MADDOW: So very gratifying to me that he`s never let that he has
never let that go.
MADDOW: Meeting him recently is last night. He`s been tenacious on
some issues like that in which I think he has changed the way that people
think about them across (inaudible). But I wonder what will happen when he
leaves. I mean, obviously he span off the (inaudible) party, he span off
John Oliver, he span off the, The Night with…
SMITH: Larry Wilmore.
MADDOW: … Larry Wilmore and…
MADDOW: … his brand new show, which is just starting to wave
reviews. Does somebody follow in Jon Stewart`s footsteps or does – is his
influence now wide instead of direct?
SMITH: Yeah, I mean that`s going to be a very hard chair to fill, how
much of a vote Jon gets in picking that person versus Comedy Central. It`s
going to be really interesting. You know, I think if it`s up to Jon, he
would like to open it up, broaden it in weird and interesting ways.
Brian Williams was on the show last night. But if people stuck around
The Daily Show, there was a guy named Bassem Youssef who is a doctor, I
think by profession who became a comedian and satirist in Egypt. Jon, in
filming his movie this past summer spend some time in Jordan, spend some
time in Egypt.
And saw places where what Jon does, what you and I do even is not
allowed by and large.
SMITH: And not that he`s going to turn the “The Daily Show” into an
overt, you know, small deed revolutionary machine, but – that he, you
know, has some notion of helping people like Bassem or, you know, taken the
show in an unexpected direction.
MADDOW: Chris Smith, Contributing Editor for New York Magazine.
Thank you for being here. Especially, again, on short notice to discuss
news that I did not expect at all.
MADDOW: I appreciate it. All right we got much more ahead on this
very, very, very, very, very, very busy news night. Please stay with us,
we`ll be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SUSAN SELKE, CLAY HUNT”S MOTHER: I know a lot of that, we`ll be
seeing news coverage about the bill this week and that is good news. I
want our guest to know that we care about you and your life, and that is
why we have fought all year for you, to get this bill passed and to get you
the care that you deserve. So please don`t give up, don`t loss hope. If
you need help, ask for it. And trust now, we trust now that it will be
there for you.
America is a nation that`s full of hope. Today, I pray that we have
started to give that hope back to our veteran. Thank you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: On Thursday, President Obama will sign it and that will
formally make it law. But even before that, Congress signed it today.
They held a big bipartisan on camera, bicameral signing ceremony, even just
for Congress, even just for the part where they send the bill they`ve
already passed formally to the President.
Why did they do that today? I think A, it`s rare enough that Congress
passes anything, time to make a big deal out of it. But B, this happens to
be something that they really want people to know has passed. The Clay
Hunt veteran Suicide Prevention Act will become law this week, at a time
when nothing passes through Congress and becomes law, today that was his
mother, Susan Selke and his stepfather who is on hand, as that bill heads
to the White House for President Obama`s signature.
They`re making a big deal out of this, because they can – they`ve got
nothing else to make a big deal out of, but also because this is something
that deserves, I think as much publicity as they can get it. It`s almost
there, it`s almost done. Thursday, it will be law. Stay with us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, 44TH AND CURRENT PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF
AMERICA: She was an outstanding young woman, had a great spirit. And I
think that spirit will live long. I think the more people learn about her,
the more they appreciate what she stood for and how it stands in contrast
with the barbaric organization that held her captive.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: This is President Obama today speaking in an interview with
BuzzFeed. That was his fist opportunity to comment on the news. Now,
confirmed by the White House and the intelligence community that Kayla
Mueller, the last American known to be held hostage by ISIS. The only
American woman known to have been held by the group, the news not confirmed
by the White House and by Kayla Mueller`s family that she died while being
held by ISIS.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REV. KATHLEEN DAY, MUELLER FAMILY FRIEND: People told us that Kayla
try to teach the guards crafts, to make origami, little cranes, little
piece cranes. And that they told each other stories and they sang each
other songs, that they try to exercise in that small space, and that Kayla
would stand on her head. Let me just – does of us who know her know what
a free little spirit she was. We`re just delight on that, that Kayla
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: After Reverend Kathleen Day, who`s a friend of the Mueller
family, she was speaking in Ms. Mueller`s hometown of Prescott, Arizona
this afternoon. She and family members of Kayla Mueller related stories
that the family had heard, in part from fellow hostages who had been
released from captivity, even as Kayla was not.
Now, Kayla Mueller`s family had made a public plea to ISIS on Friday
night, after ISIS said on Friday that Kayla had been killed by a coalition
airstrike. The terrorist group did not make public any information that
would have proven that accretion they were making about her. But
apparently ISIS did provide a photo to the family this weekend, which U.S.
government sources verified as real, and which apparently confirmed her
Although, not the means by which she died. That`s still unknown.
President Obama vowed today, “No matter how long it takes, the United
States will find and bring to justice the terrorist who are responsible for
Kayla`s captivity and death.”
President Obama`s language to authorize the military campaign against
ISIS, goes to congress as early as tomorrow. Lots ahead tonight, stay with
MADDOW: This past November, Buffalo, New York, you might remember,
they got pummeled with a lot of snow. Even for Buffalo, New York. See the
little people inside all the white stuff?
They got hit by something like four to five feet of snow in a single
storm, and that`s not even including the blowing and drifting, which left
like seven feet-plus of snow piled in some areas. Home to the Buffalo
Bills, the Ralph Wilson Stadium where the Bills play, that was totally
snowed in, and four days after that storm, the Bill had a big home game
planned against the New York Jets.
So, they reached out to their fans, they offered 10 bucks an hour,
plus free tickets if anybody would come help and shovel out the stadium?
People did step up to come shovel, but it was not nearly enough to clear
out the 220,000 tons of snow from the outdoor stadium.
And so, what they brought in was these beasts – snow dragons. High
tech industrialized snow melters that were hauled in to clear those 220,000
tons of snow from the Bills stadium.
Well, now those are being deployed to the great city of Boston, to
take on the ginormous piles of snow, some of which are now 10 to 20 feet
tall that have grown ominously throughout the city of Boston. The city of
Boston, along with the whole state of Massachusetts, has been hit with a
continuous, never ending onslaught of snow for the past couple of weeks.
The state is now basically throwing up their hands. They`re calling
up 500 national guard troops. The governor of Massachusetts had asked the
state of Vermont, and the state of New York, and the state of New Jersey,
and the state of Pennsylvania for help.
The city of Boston has also started farming. They opened what they
call snow farms. Five giant snow farms that are basically huge piles of
snow they make in vacant lots and then build continuously with tractors.
Crews there unload thousands and thousands and thousands of dump trucks
full of snow that they pick up around the city throughout the day, and they
built all of that snow into a giant, dirty cold mountain, and that`s called
a snow farm.
Boston has got so much snow, though, that even the snow farm mountains
are overflowing at this point. And so, cue the snow melters. Boston has
fired two of these guys up now. They have two snow dragons on loan, but
there is so much snow to melt in the city that the governor of
Massachusetts says he may buy another two snow dragons for the state.
So far, the melting capacity is not enough, particularly because
Massachusetts is about to get even more snow on top of the many heap that
are already on the ground. I mean, the snow that`s there now already is
disappearing cars and dwarfing people and making travel in many places
Now, what`s happening is that cities all over the state, cities that
are faced with this problem on what to do with snow, they got nowhere to
put, cities are considering dumping the snow into nearby bodies of water.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s not exactly something these communities want
to do, but they are forced to do it and they`re allowed to do it in these
exceptions. With storm after storm, and more snow piling on top of that
old snow and more on the way, they literally have no place to put it.
Marblehead, Salem, Lawrence and Lowell had already have received the go
ahead to go ahead and dump this snow in the Atlantic Ocean. That is video
you see of the snow going in and then underwater. State law prohibits it
because of pollution concerns of what`s mixed into that snow, but in
extreme circumstances like we`re dealing with now, where public safety is
an issue, towns and cities are asked to simply notify the Department of
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: When all else fails, dump it into the sea?
Boston is supposedly not planning on dumping their snow into Boston
Harbor at this moment, although they used to do that back in the day.
We`re leaning tonight that in addition to the cities of Marblehead and
Salem and those other places listed on that news report, the city of
Newburyport has also obtained a waiver to dump their snow into river. The
mayor says they`re doing it just because they`re maxed out in terms of snow
and places to shove it. So, why not shove into the Merrimack River?
What does this strategy mean for Massachusetts? Especially
considering that Massachusetts is expected to great another foot of snow
before this week is over. Will all of the cities start dumping their
polluted snow into bodies of water? And when the snow problem is gone,
what happens to all that water? Is this really the only way?
Joining us now is Bruce Berman. He`s communications director for Save
the Harbor/Save the Bay.
Mr. Berman, thanks very much for joining us.
BRUCE BERMAN, SAVE THE HARBOR/SAVE THE BAY: Thanks for having me,
MADDOW: So, as Save the Harbor/Save the Bay guy, I have to ask what
you think of this decision to dump the excess snow and anything it`s been
sitting into bodies of water that include the ocean and rivers?
BERMAN: It depends on what the circumstances are. We spent $5
billion cleaning up Boston Harbor. It is sort of the forefront of civic
life here. We really care about it. We have some of the cleanest urban
beaches in the country.
That said, we have to keep a sense of perspective. We have had an
extraordinary series of storms, 70 inches. I`m 5`10”, that`s 70 inches of
snow in the past couple weeks, a public safety crisis. And as a last
resort, and when the water is deep and when it`s fast moving, it doesn`t
concern me that much. You have to keep a sense of perspective here.
Today, I think the mayor announced that we`re going to be moving 2,000
truckloads of snow to the snow farms. And that is terrific. We`re very
glad that we haven`t had to take that step here in Boston yet. But if we
did have to do it, that would be about 2 million gallons which is about 1
percent of the daily flow of the Charles River.
Certainly, snow if filthy, urban snow is dirty, and it`s not our
favorite resort. But at the end of the day, public safety first.
MADDOW: Is there anything they can do to be dumping into rivers or
any of the towns that are going to be dumping into the sea, is there
anything they can do to mitigate any potential environmental worries about
what they`re doing? Are there cleaner or better ways to do this if you
have to do it?
BERMAN: Absolutely, I mean, the critical thing from our perspective
is that snow is fairly heavy when you dump trailer truckloads into the
water. So, we`re concerned that it not be done in shallow water, that it
not be done in embayment, that it be done in deep water.
Boston Harbor has got an average depth of about 40 feet at low tide.
We have a nine-foot tide. So, you know, you want to do it at high tide,
with the tide falling. And to be honest, you also want to be alert. There
is a lot of crap that you can see.
We have a tradition here in Boston of putting space savers in our
space once we dug out our car. You know, a dinette set or –
BERMAN: – you have to be careful, otherwise, we`re going to end up
with floating infrastructure in the harbor.
But on the very serious level, you know, this is a very unusual
circumstance. I`ve been the bay watcher for Save the Harbor for 25 years,
and I have never seen anything like it. They`re calling it stormaggedon
and it feels like we`re under assault by Mother Nature.
MADDOW: Bruce Berman, communications director for Save the
Harbor/Save the Bay, thanks for some perspective on this. Really
appreciate your time tonight. Thanks.
BERMAN: Thanks for having me.
MADDOW: Got to tell you, my usual commute from Western Massachusetts
to New York, I come down – I go home on the weekends and I come down here
Monday morning. I usually leave at about 8:00 in the morning and I`m at my
office by noon. So, I left early, I left about 7:30 yesterday morning in
order to get to work. I arrived at my office at 7:45 p.m. That`s how long
it took to get here, in part because we now live in a snow cave.
Yes. In Massachusetts right now, if you haven`t seen the pictures, I
mean, if you don`t believe those pictures, they`re for real, man. It`s
like nothing I have ever seen.
All right. Stay with us. We`ll be right back.
MADDOW: The good people of Salem, Oregon, named their owl today, the
one that keeps attacking their joggers at a park in the state capital city.
They took a poll on what his name should be. Owlcapone won.
“The Statesmen Journal” newspaper is calling him Salem`s winged wise
But you are beautiful, Owlcapone, and Salem got you something else
today, too. They also got you the best new thing in the world. Sorely
Stay with us.
MADDOW: One of the things I did not expect to be covering this year
is one of the strangest trends in American politics, which is very
prominent Democratic politicians having shocking and unusual injuries.
This is now becoming a series and the next installment in this series is
Stay with us.
MADDOW: When last we checked in on Democratic Senator Harry Reid of
Nevada, the top Democrat in the Senate, he looked like this. On New Year`s
Day, Harry Reid was working out at home in Nevada when he had some kind of
bizarre workout accident. He was apparently using a resistance band,
stretchy thing, the band snapped and Harry broke a bunch of bones in his
face, broke a few ribs, and he sustained some serious damage to his right
Well, Harry Reid has soldiered on. He has returned to work. But it
has remained unclear whether or not he will regain any vision at all in his
right eye. He had surgery on that eye last month. We just learned today
that he will now undergo another round of eye surgery tomorrow at George
Washington University Hospital, again to try to restore the vision in his
right eye – the second surgery to try to save that vision.
We wish Senator Reid, of course, the best of luck with that procedure
and what is turning out to be a health ordeal for him.
Also, news today of another workout accident involving another very
prominent Democratic politician, and I`m not kidding. This one involves
former Democratic Governor Martin O`Malley of Maryland, who is best known
nationally because he`s very, very publicly testing the waters for a
possible presidential run on the Democratic side.
Martin O`Malley, we have now learned, suffered some kind of workout
accident over the weekend in which he broke his elbow. Governor O`Malley
tweeted, quote, “broke my elbow over the weekend at the gym. Thanks to the
staff at Union Memorial, surgery went well and I`m on the road to a quick
His staff says he broke it while lifting weights. If you`ve ever seen
YouTube videos of weightlifting injuries involving broken elbows, you`re
probably cringing right now. But there`s no indication that it was one of
those super gruesome ones.
We reached out to a spokeswoman from Martin O`Malley tonight. She
told us the governor was lifting weights at the time of the accident, but
she wouldn`t provide any further details about how the accident happened.
She says the governor`s right arm will be in a brace for the next three to
Who says politics is not a dangerous sport, especially if you like to
remain fit while you`re doing it?
We wish a speedy recovery to both of you, gentlemen.
MADDOW: In Eastern Oregon, when it rained this week, it looked like
it rained milk. The rain was all chalky and dirty and opaque. The
National Weather Service office in Pendleton, Oregon, took pictures of the
guck that rained from the sky, pronounced it milky, and said they were
looking into where it came from.
Apparently, the best guest so far is that the rain of milky ickness
falling from the sky in Eastern Oregon was a weird weather byproduct of a
dust storm in Nevada. OK. The world works in mysterious ways.
Also in Oregon, if you want to become a major political party, a major
political party, you have to submit the membership list of your party to
the state. If your membership list equals 5 percent of the total number of
people who voted in the last statewide election, you can be a major
Well, here`s the threshold last year. That`s 5 percent of the total
number who voted for governor in that state last November. That`s the
number you have to hit in terms of your membership list if you want to be a
major political party, just like the Democrats or the Republicans. That`s
Here is what the independent party of Oregon just turned in. They
made it by three people. And so now, Oregon is the latest state in the
country to have another major political party on the ballot and running
primaries and everything alongside the stand by red and blue.
You know, you spend enough time rooting around in some random state`s
news, it turns out there`s weird stuff going everywhere all the time.
Oregon, though, I think is better than everyone else right now when it
comes to weird news in this news cycle, for whatever reason. But on that
front, there is a best new thing in the world.
As we`ve been reporting, there is a park in the state`s capital city
of Salem where four people so far have been attacked by a big barred owl
while they were out jogging. We`re talking a big owl, four foot wingspan,
talons several inches long. You should also know that they`re totally
silent when they attack, you don`t hear them coming at all.
This thing has been probably protecting its nest for what it believes
are marauding joggers that threaten it somehow. Sometimes, the owl just
steals a guy`s hat. Sometimes it`s knocked a guy down. One case, it
punctured a guy`s scalp and hurt him so badly he thought he was having an
aneurysm or maybe he was dying. It`s a big owl. Four attacks so far on
the same park.
And these are the warning signs that the city of Salem put up about it
afterwards. I just thought, you know, pretty tame, given what`s been
Well, we asked for your help in redesigning the Salem warning sign.
This was a good one. “Beware of owl”. Or this one, “Here be owls.” It`s
right there in the bottom, kind of like here be dragons. But with this
one, you had a very close up view of the owl`s feet.
This one was really good. I think this one has to be like oh, no,
it`s Mr. Bill. Oh, no, it`s the great barred owl.
But then there`s this one. Owl not only attacks you, it picks you up
and carries you to its nest and feeds you to its terrifying young.
In the end, we settled on this one, which I love. Allegra Flores –
there we go. Allegra Flores made it, she`s our in-house artist. We all
love what she did.
We put this on the show a couple of days ago, and then the Salem,
Oregon surgeon, who was the first owl victim in the park, the guy who
thought he was having an aneurysm when the owl got him, some friends of his
made our suggestive sign into a shirt. They`re now selling them online in
Salem, which is awesome.
But meanwhile, we sent this proposed owl attack warning sign to the
nice folks at the Parks Department in Salem, Oregon, in part, because we
enjoyed making it. But in part because we did really think it might be a
better public service than what they had.
So, we sent this to them asking basically if we got it right, if this
was inaccurate in any way, if they suggested that we change it at all. We
also, and this is a little cheeky, we asked them if they want to use it.
Turns out, they want to use it. They did ask us to make one change.
Look, see if you can tell the difference, they asked us to drop the little
lanes to show the jogging trail. See? Because you never know where the
owl may decide to descend. You don`t have to be on the trail. It can get
But they said they like it and they`d like to use it.
This is what they said to us, quote, “It is our hope that installing
the attack owl signs will, of course, warn park users of the possibility of
an owl encounter, but also celebrate the unique presence of the owl.”
Yes. I agree. Celebrate it. And they want the sign!
And so, we are happily passing this on to them. It`s in the mail,
Salem, Oregon Parks Department. It`s in the email in terms of the digital
file and we`re also I think just mailing you the big one if we can care off
the postage. Thank you for being so cool about this whole thing.
I have to say, you know what? To all of Oregon, from the giant,
adorable gay bear couple that owns jebbushforpresident.com, to your
governor`s bizarre girlfriend scandal, which is apparently the biggest
scandal in Oregon political history, to your rain that looks like milk, to
your Republican Party chairman, whose day job is collecting people`s urine
by mail, to your attack owl and the way that you love them, to your jogging
surgeons who sometimes wear homemade Green Bay Packer suits with a cape.
To all of Oregon, I don`t know why we`ve been so into Oregon news
lately, but I`ve got to say thank you.
The rest of the news in the world right now sucks. The rest of the
world has news that is terrible. But Oregon, you are freaking excellent –
best new thing in the world. We are sending you the sign.
That does it for us tonight. We`ll see you again tomorrow.
Now, it`s time for “THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL.”
Good evening, Lawrence.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY
United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed,
transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written
permission of CQ-Roll Call. You may not alter or remove any trademark,
copyright or other notice from copies of the content.>