The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 02/25/15
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Wow, this is a big night here at MSNBC.
Thank you for joining us tonight.
What you just saw was President Obama with Jose Diaz-Balart, for both
Telemundo and MSNBC. That conversation just happening at Florida
International University in Miami.
President Obama I think making news in a bunch of ways in that
appearance. This is my take on what just happened. I think he made a
bunch of news. And not just for his super inflammatory accusation that
Jose dyes his hair. Rest assured we will get to the bottom of that
President Obama also tonight in his appearance is taking a direct
shot at likely 2016 presidential candidate Jeb Bush. I`m not sure I`ve
ever heard him talk about Jeb Bush before tonight. But he did so directly
tonight in a very negative way. That was a bit of a shock.
President Obama tonight also saying bluntly, and with – for him what
counts as a lot of emotion, that it is the Republican Party specifically
that is to blame for why this hasn`t been immigration reform in the
country. He said it is the Republicans` faults specifically, calling
Republicans out by name.
And the president also tonight got mad twice by my count at questions
suggesting that he and the Democrats share some of the blame with the
Republicans, the president totally rejecting that tonight.
President Obama tonight weighing in on the current drama in
Washington as we speak. I don`t think he has done this before. This
appearance with Jose that he just did. But tonight, the president flat-out
dared Republicans in Congress to take a vote, to try to pass a bill on
whether or not his own actions as president on the issues of immigration
The president tonight explicitly dared the Republican Party to take
that vote. And he said if such a vote passed, quote, “I will veto that.”
President Obama also making this tonight, not just on the politics,
but on the substance, and this is the first sound byte I want to play here.
The president got this very intense question, emotionally powerful moment
at this event, when a wounded Afghanistan war vet posed this direct
question to him. The president responded personally to this young vet on
his direct question. But then I think he also made some news for the whole
country in terms of what he said next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ERIC NARVAEZ, U.S. ARMY VETERAN: When I was 17, I joined the U.S.
Army. Actually, my mom had to sign because I was so young. My 18th
birthday I would spend in basic training. And my 21st birthday was spent
in Afghanistan. And I was actually shot at on my birthday.
You know, I came back. I`m a wounded warrior. I was medically
discharged from the military in 2011. And I come back home and only to
find out that I`m fighting another war with my mother trying to keep her
So, I just want to ask you, Mr. President, if there has to be some
kind of gray area for a situation like this, because I put in a lot of time
and I love this country and I just feel like if it wasn`t for her signing
those papers, I would never have been able to join this great American
So, I want to ask you if there`s any way that situation could be –
could be handled a little better.
OBAMA: Well, first of all, let me just say thank you, Eric, for your
incredible service to our country.
OBAMA: I`m confident that your mother qualifies under the executive
action program that I`ve put forward.
Right now, the judge has blocked us initiating the program where she
can come and sign up and get registered. But in the meantime, part of the
message that I`m sending is, if you qualified for the executive action that
I put forward, then we`re still going to make sure that your mom is not
prioritized in terms of enforcement. And, you know, she should feel
confident about that.
So, I just want to assure her short-term.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: President Obama making some news tonight here on MSNBC,
saying that even though a federal judge in Texas has blocked his executive
action, that would have protected from deportation people like this young
wounded veteran`s mother, even though that new program is blocked right now
by that federal judge in Texas, President Obama tonight said that he has
still taken action despite that judge`s ruling basically to de-prioritize
deportation proceedings against people like that guy`s mom, against people
who would qualify for that program, if that program were allowed to be in
This is going to make Republicans nuts, right? I mean, this is the
president effectively saying, that he is making this change in U.S.
immigration policy. He is making it. Even though they are so mad about it
in Washington, and even though that federal judge has formally blocked his
This is President Obama saying he`s going to do it with his executive
authority to decide what becomes an enforcement priority or not, regardless
of the Republicans being so mad, and regardless of that federal judge.
He also went on at the end of that specific Q&A to say that his
previous executive action on immigration was called DACA is not blocked by
what this Texas judge just did. He said, there are hundreds of thousands
of kids and young people who qualify for that previous executive action.
And the president tonight encouraged them to all come forward and get legal
status right now. This also is going to make Republicans crazy.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: Those who already signed up, you need to understand that has
not been challenged in court. What`s also important is we still have
several hundred thousand young people who qualify for that original
executive action back in 2012 who have not yet taken advantage of it, and
now is the time for all of you to take advantage of it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: In Washington, the Republicans thought if they showed
sufficient anger about President Obama`s executive actions on immigration,
he would back off, change his mind, or at least get less aggressive about
acting on his own.
Well, their actions have seemed to have the opposite effect. Here`s
the part where he dared them to say what he has already done on his own
terms is illegal. He dared them to act on that. And these comments from
the president tonight, this is about what`s going on in Washington right
now as we speak.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: We`re going to be as aggressive as we can, because not only
do we know the law is on our side, but history is on our side. In the
meantime, what we said to the Republicans is, instead of trying to hold
hostage funding for the Department of Homeland Security which is so
important for our national security, fund that and let`s get on with
actually passing comprehensive immigration reform.
So, in the short term, if Mr. McConnell, the leader of the Senate,
and the speaker of the House, John Boehner, want to have a vote on whether
what I`m doing is legal or not, they can have that vote. I will veto that
vote, because I`m absolutely confident that what we`re doing is the right
thing to do.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: President Obama tonight daring Republicans to take a vote,
specifically on blocking him on immigration, saying, quote, “I will veto
that”, if it passes.
The president tonight also showing a little bit of temper when Jose
Diaz-Balart and the questioners at this town hall repeatedly questioned
whether President Obama himself and the Democratic Party, not just the
Republicans, but the Democrats, too, could have done more to try to get
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOSE DIAZ-BALART, MSNBC HOST: Owen from Houston said, “Why do the
Democrats and GOP play political ping-pong when American families suffer as
OBAMA: Wait, wait, wait. I appreciate the applause. Let me just
say, that`s just not true – the notion that Democrats and Republicans play
Democrats have consistently stood on the side of comprehensive
Democrats have provided strong majorities across the board for
comprehensive immigration reform.
And you do a disservice when you suggest that, ah, nobody was focused
on this, because then you don`t know who`s fighting for you and who`s
fighting against you.
But let`s not be confused about why we don`t have comprehensive
immigration reform right now. It`s very simple. The Republican Speaker of
the House John Boehner refused to call the bill. Had he called the bill,
the overwhelming majority of Democrats, and a handful of Republicans, would
have provided the majority in order to get that done.
DIAZ-BALART: Mr. President, I want to –
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: It`s one of a couple of times tonight that President Obama
got sort of visibly exasperated by the suggestion that Republicans and
Democrats somehow share the blame for immigration not getting fixed while
he has been president.
He also tonight – this is interesting 2016 politics here –
President Obama tonight also took a question in Spanish about whether Jeb
Bush, who has a pretty good chance of being the Republican nominee for
president in 2016, he was asked whether Jeb Bush might be a cause for hope
on the Republican side, because of his relatively more moderate position on
the issue of immigration reform. He`s in fact championed comprehensive
immigration reform in the past. Is that a cause for hope?
President Obama was having none of that. Watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: I appreciate Mr. Bush being concerned about immigration
reform. I would suggest that what he do is talk to the speaker of the
house and the members of his party because the fact of the matter is that -
OBAM: – even after we pass bipartisan legislation in the Senate, I
gave the Republicans a year and a half – a year and a half – to just call
the bill. We had the votes. They wouldn`t do it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: President Obama taking a bit of a shot at Jeb Bush tonight,
saying he appreciates that Jeb Bush says he`s concerned about immigration
reform, but when it came time to actually get it done, he didn`t lift a
finger with his own party to actually get it done, when it actually could
have been possible.
So like I said, the president made a lot of news tonight. Even
before he got to the part about Jose`s hair –
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: The people who are least likely to vote are young people.
So, young people, you need to think ahead, too.
OBAMA: When we work on these issues, most of us – I`m going to
include Jose – I`m going to include Jose in the category of being old.
DIAZ-BALART: We`re the same age.
OBAMA: He looks a little better because, you know, I don`t dye my
hair. But –
DIAZ-BALART: I know.
OBAMA: I`m messing with him.
DIAZ-BALART: Well, it`s called “the Obama”.
OBAMA: No, no, man, that`s natural. That`s natural.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Usually, these – the presidential forum things, town hall
things are an opportunity for everybody to repeat their talking points,
right? Tonight was not like that. Tonight was a friendly version of it.
But it was basically rock `em sock `em robots with Jose Diaz-Balart and
President Obama down at FIU in Miami.
Joining us now is Jose Diaz-Balart.
Congratulations, Jose, on this event. You made a ton of news
DIAZ-BALART: Thank you, Rachel. Thank you so very much.
DIAZ-BALART: It was a night of hair color, and a whole lot more.
And you know what, Rachel? One of the real privileges of being able
to do this tonight with the president was that we were able to ask
questions that a lot of people have on their minds, and don`t often get a
chance to ask. My staff went through – combed through hundreds, hundreds
of questions on our Facebook and Twitter, Instagram accounts in Spanish,
and in English, and we were able to distill some of the questions that we
brought to the president.
And you know what, sometimes, it may seem as though it`s
uncomfortable to ask questions of the president, questions that aren`t
DIAZ-BALART: And the fact is that it was really a privilege to be
able to do that. And I felt that he was very open tonight.
I think that as you say, he was very combative, and I think he said
some very clear delineations about what he believes and how he believes
thing. I think it was very interesting that he said that he was still
optimistic that maybe immigration reform could be achieved within the two
years that he has left of his administration.
There are so many subjects that we talked upon – touched upon
tonight, even though it was focused on immigration, and so many stories of
real people, because, Rachel, when it`s all said and done, when we`re
talking about immigration and immigration reform, it`s not just numbers,
and it`s not just politics, and it`s not just how did the president do,
it`s also about people, people who are directly affected by this, people
whose mother and father are in danger of being deported as we speak.
We mentioned tonight on that town hall someone who said that their
husband was deported just last week as he was getting his papers in order.
I think that it was an important opportunity for the president to speak
clearly, and he did so.
MADDOW: Jose, let me ask you about one of those personal back-and-
forths that the president had, the first question you took in person from
the audience. The young veteran who is wounded in Afghanistan, medically
discharged from the Army, talked about having signed up when he was so
young his mom had to sign off and OK him signing up.
MADDOW: And then he said, yes, I came home from fighting that war,
now the new war I`m fighting is trying to keep my mother from being
When the president answered that very, very intense question, I`ve
got to ask if you think he made some news there when he said, I think your
mother should know that she`s safe, that she is the person we are de-
emphasizing in terms of enforcement priority, that even though this judge
blocked this program, we will still not be deporting somebody who`s in her
Was that news to you?
DIAZ-BALART: Yes, it certainly was.
And then the follow-up, which was – well, where are the consequences
and what are the consequences if people don`t agree to do what you have
asked them to do in the federal government? Because, Rachel, the fact is,
that last week, somebody was deported when they were going through their
paperwork through legalization, because they had married an American
citizen. They had a child together in this country. And they were
deported just last week.
Are there consequences to the president`s decisions and orders?
And I think he was very clear tonight that there will be, and that
he`s very, very categorical on, that this is not a position to take just
for politics, even though I pushed him on it, because it was one of the
most requested questions that I received, which was, folks asks me, when is
it going to be not about politics, and about people.
MADDOW: Jose Diaz-Balart, host of “THE RUNDOWN”, weekday mornings on
MSNBC, also an anchor of Telemundo.
DIAZ-BALART: Rachel, can I just tell you one last thing?
DIAZ-BALART: I don`t know if you have HD at home. But can we zoom
in on this? There is what I call the Obama color, which is his salt and
pepper hair. That`s exactly what I have. Did you see that?
MADDOW: Are you saying that you do dye your hair but dye it to look
like his? Or are you saying you`re denying the whole dyeing accusation
DIAZ-BALART: (SPEAKING IN SPANISH)
MADDOW: My friend, Jose, we are so lucky to have you.
Congratulations again. I`ll vouch for your hair to anybody.
DIAZ-BALART: Thank you.
MADDOW: Amazing. Amazing stuff here on MSNBC tonight. We`ve got
lots ahead. A very big show. Please stay with us.
MADDOW: All right. We`ve got lots to come on tonight show,
including the reporter who broke open this Bill O`Reilly FOX News story
that`s got everybody so upset.
That`s ahead. Please stay with us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DIAZ-BALART: Mr. President, when you had absolute control of
Congress, you really didn`t fight for immigration. And then, when you had
the situation where you lost majorities, then you take action.
Is there political implications behind something that affects so many
people, so close to their hearts?
OBAMA: I don`t know if anybody remembers, Jose, that when I took
office and I had a majority, we had the worst financial crisis since the
Great Depression. The global economy was collapsing.
OBAMA: The unemployment rate in the Latino community and the
immigrant community had soared. People were losing homes, and entire
communities were being devastated. So, it wasn`t as if I was just sitting
back not doing anything.
DIAZ-BALART: No one said you were sitting back.
OBAMA: We were – we were –
DIAZ-BALART: You did do ACA, for example.
OBAMA: We were moving very aggressively on a whole host of issues.
And we moved as fast as we could, and we wanted immigration done. We
pushed for immigration to be done. But ultimately, we could not get the
votes to get it all done.
Now, this is one of the challenges of being president, is there are
crying needs everywhere, even within the Latino communities, even within
the immigrant communities, there are crying needs.
I don`t regret having done the ACA. I just described for you there
are millions of people who are not going to go bankrupt because they got
sick because we got that done.
So, if the question is – would I have loved to get everything done
in the first two years? Absolutely! Because then for the next six, I
could have relaxed.
OBAMA: But what we do is we choose to push as hard as we can on all
fronts. Some things are politically easier. Some things are politically
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: President Obama tonight defending the fact that he didn`t
get immigration reform done when Democrats had full control of Congress,
saying he wished he could have. But now, he is still trying.
Joining us now is Cristina Jimenez. She`s the cofounder and managing
director of United We Dream. Ms. Jimenez came to the United States with
her family when she was 13. She graduated high school and college as an
Cristina, it`s really nice to see you. Thanks very much for being
CRISTINA JIMENEZ, UNITED WE DREAM CO-FOUNDER: Thanks for having me
MADDOW: So, what`s – how did you feel about President Obama`s town
hall today? This was a solid, like 45 minutes, a full hour of discussion
almost entirely about immigration. How did you feel about what the
president said today? What was your takeaway?
JIMENEZ: I thought this was a good first step. In the midst of a
legal challenge of the actions that the president took on immigration,
again, after so much pressure from organizations like United We Dream, and
others within the immigrant community, I think this was a good first step
to instill confidence in our community, that the president is going to use
everything in his power to make sure that we`re able to get through this
legal hurdle and be able to implement the deferred action programs that he
announced in November of last year, that could benefit people like my mom
and my dad, who have been here with me for the last 17 years, and who are
really eager to be able to apply for the deferred action program, because
they will be able to qualify for DACA.
So, I was really encouraged by that, and by looking at the president
standing firm on his decision, and proceeding with legal action
immediately. What I would have loved to see more, or get more clarity from
the president is, how do we ensure that our community is not going to fall
in the trap of deportations and detentions when we know that the agency has
not followed, really, guidelines before, the Department of Homeland
MADDOW: That seemed like that was a real theme, in terms of
especially what Jose was pushing him on it. He said he had a lot of
questions for the president that he got on Facebook and Twitter and other
places. People wanted to say, listen, you know, the policies that we`re
hearing from you are not what we`re seeing on the ground in terms of
enforcement priorities, in terms of this whole idea of felons, not
families, and people not having their families split up as a matter of
It seems to be – I`m not sure the president was totally prepared for
those questions, I`m not sure he hears those very often, basically, people
are saying to him – what you are expressing as policy is not what is being
carried out by the various agencies of Homeland Security that are doing
this stuff on the ground.
JIMENEZ: Yes. And the question is, how are you going to ensure that
your own agency, right, Mr. President, is going to be able to implement the
guidelines that they have set up? And the people like my parents in the
midst of legal limbo right now, because we have a temporary hold on the
DACA and DAPA programs, how do people like my parents could still live, you
know, without fearing that they could be detained or deported? And also,
what about the people who did not qualify for DACA and DAPA, including the
people who are LGBTQ immigrants that were not able to be part or benefit
from this program?
And I don`t feel like the president really answered that question.
So, you know, from the United We Dream perspective, that`s one of the
things that we`re going to be really watching out for, and continue to ask
the president, how would you ensure that for our communities?
MADDOW: Cristina Jimenez, managing director of United We Dream,
which is one of the organizations that`s done so much to keep this a front-
burner issue to press people on both parties, with very aggressive direct
action. Cristina, it`s really nice to see you. Thanks very much for being
JIMENEZ: Thanks for having me, Rachel.
All right. Meanwhile, on Capitol Hill today, it was Republican
versus Republican, deciding whether or not no shut down Homeland Security.
That`s ahead. Along with David Corn, he`s going to be here.
Please stay with us.
MADDOW: On the list of journalists who FOX News`s Bill O`Reilly is
threatening for questioning his account of past reporting assignments, on
that list are upcoming guests, ranks right up top. He is David Corn for
“Mother Jones” magazine. He joins us live tonight in much more fraught
circumstances than we usually see David in.
Please stay with us.
MADDOW: OK. I got something wrong on this show a couple nights ago.
I said two nights ago that Duke Energy was forced to clean up its big toxic
coal ash in South Carolina because they got sued over them.
What actually happened is environmentalists sued the other two
utility companies in that state. Once Duke Energy saw those lawsuits and
once the group that brought the lawsuits made clear that Duke was probably
going to be next, Duke actually settled with the groups out of court and
agreed to clean up their giant toxic coal ash lagoons. It was an out-of-
court settlement, not a lawsuit. I got that wrong. I`m sorry.
Also, the fine that Duke Energy is now paying for one of their giant
toxic coal ash lagoons bursting in North Carolina, looks like it`s not the
second largest fine anybody`s ever paid under the Clean Water Act. Maybe
it`s the fourth largest? It`s hard to find a definitive score for this
kind of stuff it turns out. Other people have reported that Duke is paying
the second largest fine here ever. But I think now looking at it again,
that they`re probably fourth largest and not second largest – in which
case I got that wrong, too, I`m sorry.
I`m honestly very sorry about that. I regret the error. I`m wearing
a hair shirt under my $11 blazer right now. You just can`t see it because
it`s a V-neck.
See, that`s how it goes. It`s not that hard to do. It actually
feels – I mean, it feels terrible, right? But it feels good to do it.
You don`t want to get stuff wrong, but it happens. But then you
correct it, and then you can move on. Chastened, but clean. That`s how it
And then there`s this kind of problem, for which the hair shirt
apparently does not fit. We`re still waiting to see if there will be some
sort of apology, some sort of corrective action concerning the biggest
kahuna in all of cable news, a man with any other news organization would
be in a fight for his professional life right now. But so far for him –
apparently, no consequences.
Cable news controversies are not the sort of thing that usually rise
to the level of national news. This one, though, has now become a national
news story, in part because it has put the biggest news network in cable
news in the position of not behaving like a news organization at all.
And, you know, I will tell you honestly, from my personal heart, I
know that all of us in this business snipe at each other and criticize,
right? And sometimes, we criticize each other in very harsh terms.
But there is a certain level that we all recognize that we`re doing
the work. We have reporters, and correspondents, and press credentials,
right? We participate in basic stuff like pooled coverage of national
events and speeches at the White House, right? We all stand for freedom of
the press, because we all count on freedom of the press to be able to do
our work that we all do.
We have our differences, yes, but in the most fundamental ways we are
the same species. Except now, maybe not.
This story started Thursday when David Corn and Daniel Schulman at
“Mother Jones” magazine that said that the FOX News host Bill O`Reilly over
time and frequently, in multiple venues, including his current gig on FOX
News, he had misrepresented his reporting for CBS News in the 1980s during
the Falklands War.
The Falklands War was a war fought between Argentina and the U.K.,
but it wasn`t fought on the mainland of either country. It was fought on
the Falkland Islands, which are an isolated place. They`re hundreds of
miles off the Argentinean coast.
What David Corn and Daniel Schulman pointed out was that Mr. O`Reilly
had described himself as reporting from, quote, “an active war zone”. He
has said that he was in a war zone in Argentina, in the Falklands.
That does not appear to have been the case. Mr. O`Reilly did report
on the Falklands War, but he reported on that war from mainland Argentina,
from the country`s capital city, which is more than 1,000 miles away from
the fighting in the Falklands.
Mr. O`Reilly has tried to defend himself by saying, well, he did
cover a rowdy protest while he was in the capital of Argentina, which, OK,
sure, but covering a protest about a war is not the same thing as covering
the actual war, or being in a war zone, which is how he has repeatedly
described what he did.
So, that`s not good. No correction or apology, though. Instead, the
response has been – attack!
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BILL O`REILLY, FOX NEWS: Basically David Corn, a liar, says I
exaggerated situations in the Falklands War and Salvadoran War.
Here`s the truth: everything I`ve said about my reportorial career,
everything, is true. I had to spend hours last night on the phone with
various reporters, and crawling around my basement covered with dust,
trying to find documents from 33 years ago.
Again, it was a miracle I found them – all because an irresponsible
gutter snipe, a far left zealot, who has attacked FOX News many times
before, spit this stuff out on the net.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: An irresponsible gutter snipe, a far left zealot, a liar.
Mr. O`Reilly then went further than that. He gave an interview in
which he said that when the truth came out about this story, David Corn
would be, quote, “in the kill zone, where he deserves to be.”
When “Mother Jones” challenged that comment as basically out of
bounds, asked for retraction or apology, Bill O`Reilly said that was just
slang, it was just a figure of speech, didn`t take it back.
Mr. O`Reilly has since gone on to threaten other reporters who had
simply tried to report out this story. After the kill zone comments about
David Corn, Mr. O`Reilly then told a reporter from “The New York Times”
that if he saw any of her coverage was inappropriate, quote, “I`m coming
after you with everything I have. You can take it as a threat.”
FOX News has reporters on staff. FOX News reporters have to believe
that their news organization would have their back if they got threatened
for just doing their job as reporters.
FOX News, I am sure, does not want its reporters threatened for doing
their jobs. But FOX News has not said anything about their flagship host
issuing these threats to reporters at other news organizations.
And that just seems untenable for a news organization. Not just for
Mr. O`Reilly who issued the threats, but for his employer, who is
effectively endorsing them with this statement of unqualified support they
put out for Mr. O`Reilly in the midst of all this. I mean, this has got to
send a chill down the spine of anyone who reports for FOX in dangerous
And for Mr. O`Reilly himself, the problem is getting worse and not
better over time. Since David Corn`s report last week and Mr. O`Reilly`s
loud and bombastic threats, FOX and Mr. O`Reilly have had a different
response to new allegations that had been raised about Mr. O`Reilly`s
reporting since then.
There were questions raised about events that he raised in his book
about the JFK assassination. In the book, he describes traveling to
Florida in 1977 to try to interview an acquaintance of JFK assassin Lee
Harvey Oswald. He says that as he knocked on that man`s door in Florida to
try to interview him, he, quote, “heard the shotgun blast that marked the
suicide of the” man.
This is not just a story that Mr. O`Reilly told in his book. He has
told it on the FOX News Channel as well.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
O`REILLY: I reported on this guy when I was working at WFAA TV in
Dallas, Mr., Mohrenschildt, because he taught at Bishop College in Dallas.
I can put that together. Now, I chased de Mohrenschildt to Florida, and I
was about to knock on the door where he was, his daughter`s house, and he
blew his brains out with a shotgun.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Really?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh my goodness.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Oh, my goodness, really? No, not really. At least not
according to colleagues of Bill O`Reilly`s at the time who said this week
that he was not actually in Florida when that man killed himself at his
Florida home. Let alone standing on the guy`s doorstep and able to hear
the shotgun blast.
Mr. O`Reilly was actually, according to his colleagues, in Dallas,
Texas, at the time the suicide happened in Florida.
That account appears to be corroborated by one of Bill O`Reilly`s
sources at that time, a congressional investigator, who wrote in his
autobiography in 1993 that he got a call from this Dallas TV reporter named
Bill O`Reilly the day of the suicide. And this reporter, Bill O`Reilly,
calling from Dallas, wanted to know if the reports about this Florida
suicide were true.
Is this thing true that I now claim I personally witnessed?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
O`REILLY: I chased de Mohrenschildt to Florida and I was about to
knock on the door where he was, his daughter`s house, and he blew his
brains out with a shotgun.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: We reached out to the FOX News Channel today to see if they
had any comment on this latest challenge to Mr. O`Reilly`s reporting, and
the way he has talked about it on the FOX News Channel. They so far have
not responded to our requests for comment on that. They appear to be
deflecting requests for comment on this matter to the publisher of Mr.
O`Reilly`s book about the JFK assassination.
So, we also reached out to the publisher of Mr. O`Reilly`s book about
the JFK assassination. The publisher told us this, quote, “We fully stand
behind Bill O`Reilly and his bestseller `Killing Kennedy`, and we`re very
proud to count him as one of our most important authors. This one passage
is immaterial to the story being told by this terrific book. And we have
no plans to look into this matter.”
It doesn`t matter. We don`t care if it`s not true. We`re not
looking into it.
Mr. O`Reilly has also faced criticism on another matter, for saying
that he saw nuns killed in El Salvador. Here`s him making that claim on
FOX News right after the Newtown Elementary School massacre, in a wide-
ranging discussion about the nature of evil.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
O`REILLY: I don`t think a lot of people understand. My mother, for
example, doesn`t understand evil. When I would tell her, hey, mom, I was
in El Salvador and I saw nuns get shot in the back of the head. She almost
couldn`t process it. She couldn`t process it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Mr. O`Reilly did not see nuns get shot in the back of the
head in El Salvador, even if that is what he told his poor mom. American
Catholic nuns were killed in El Salvador in December 1980. Mr. O`Reilly
did not see them killed. He did not visit El Salvador until the following
Tonight, FOX News gave a statement from Mr. O`Reilly about where that
came from. Since there`s no way he could have actually seen what he said
he saw. Their statement is this, quote, “While in El Salvador, reporters
were shown horrendous images of violence that were not broadcast, including
depictions of nuns who were murdered. The mention of the nuns on my
program came the day of the Newtown massacre, the segment was about evil
and how hard it is for people to comprehend it. I used the murder nuns as
an example of that evil. That`s what I was referring to when I say `I saw
nuns get shot in the back of head`. No one could possibly take that
segment as reporting on El Salvador.”
That statement from Mr. O`Reilly tonight saying he was not literally
talking about El Salvador, he was talking about evil in the context of
Newtown. The only reason he brought it up. That does not explain,
however, why Mr. O`Reilly said the exact same thing seven years before
Newtown never happened.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
O`REILLY: I`ve seen much worse behavior on the masculine side than
the feminine side in my life. I`ve seen guys gun nuns in el Salvador.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
MADDOW: No, he hasn`t. But as of right now, he`s not correcting
As for whether or not FOX is taking any action about not just this
stuff, not just the factual stuff, but whether or not FOX is taking any
action about the threats to reporters, that have characterized their
anchor`s response to the scandal so far, we have just heard from FOX on
that tonight. We`ve got that statement from them, next. Along with David
Corn here live, the reporter who started this whole terrifying thing
rolling with his reporting.
Please do stay with us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
O`REILLY: Basically, David Corn, a liar, says I exaggerated
situations in the Falklands War and El Salvadoran War. Here`s the truth:
everything I`ve said about my reportorial career, everything, is true.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: David Corn, a liar.
David Corn`s reporting on Bill O`Reilly from the FOX News Channel has
so far, I have to tell you, not been materially factually disputed. But
Mr. Corn has been called a lot of names, and he has been directly
threatened, along with some other reporters who have picked up the story
over the past few days.
I have to tell you, FOX News gave us a new statement tonight about
the scandal surrounding Mr. O`Reilly.
They told us this, quote, “Bill O`Reilly addressed several claims
leveled against him.” Excuse me, “This is nothing more than an
orchestrated campaign by far left advocates, `Mother Jones` and Media
Matters. Responding to the unproven accusation du jour has become an
exercise in futility. FOX News maintains its staunch support of O`Reilly
who is no stranger to calculated onslaughts.” Calculated onslaughts.
Joining us for the interview is David Corn, Washington bureau chief
for “Mother Jones” and MSNBC political analyst, and full disclosure, my
Hi, David. It`s nice to see you.
DAVID CORN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: It`s good to be here tonight,
MADDOW: So, how is it going? Just normal week for you?
CORN: Yes, everything`s fine on team gutter snipe. What can I say?
MATTHEWS: What has this been like for you? I mean, I know you are a
thick-skinned guy. You have been a reporter for a long time. You`ve been
involved in some very high stakes reporting over the years, including in
very recent years.
Has this been difficult for you, being threatened and attacked like
CORN: I mean, you`re right, I am thick-skinned, and I`ve watched
Bill O`Reilly and FOX News over the years. In fact, I used to work there
from 2001 to 2008, and was often on Bill`s show and often was praised by
Bill when I was on his show, not as a liar but as a good reporter. But
that was then, this is now.
So, it didn`t surprise me that the tactics that Bill O`Reilly and FOX
News resorted to after the story came out was insult, bombast, denial. But
I have to say, I was surprised by the use of rhetoric that had a violent
tone to it. And the fact that after saying that, neither Bill O`Reilly or
anybody at FOX, including some of the people I used to work with there
quite amicably, you know, felt obligated to say, “Well, you know, that`s
going too far.” Apparently they think id`s proper for one journalist to
call another one names, but also to say they ought to be put in the kill
And, you know, the thing that bothers me most about that is, you
know, not that it scares me off the story or anything, but I have family
members, I have friends who are concerned about me now. And why? Only
because I`m doing my job as a reporter in Washington, D.C., not in a war
zone, and yet they now, you know, fear that, you know, that language like
that might have repercussions.
I don`t know. I don`t want to be all doomsaying about it. But I do
know it`s highly inappropriate and just from a sake of humanity – you
know, he can call me a liar, even though he doesn`t disprove, as you noted,
a single fact in the story that Dan Schulman and I wrote.
But talking about putting me in a place of death? I mean, if he
can`t recognize that`s going too far, then I guess that speaks for itself.
MADDOW: I feel like – and this is just my – this is just my
impression, and I haven`t been in the business as long as you have and I
haven`t been in this exact kind of situation. I feel like that part of it,
the threats – the explicit threat to you and the explicit threat to this
“New York Times” journalist, I feel like it is untenable that FOX would
stand by those, if only because they employ a lot of journalists, including
those who work in risky situations.
And FOX is a good place to work for journalists. And they –
MADDOW: And they – part of the way they`re able to attract real
talent, especially on the straight news side, is because they are an
organization that will stand up for their reporters, just like any real
news organization will.
So, I feel like – I feel like that is untenable for FOX as an
organization. I think it is a much more open question as to whether or not
the substance of your reporting that Mr. O`Reilly has misrepresented
himself over the years, whether that`s something they feel like they`ll
have to correct.
CORN: I do think they`re separate issues. And there – a lot of
different ways that Bill O`Reilly could have responded.
He could have gone through it point by point and say, you`re wrong,
here`s my explanation. He could have just ignored it. Maybe the story
would have gone away for him. Or, you know, he could have said, I
misremembered some things. He got me. Not a big deal.
And, you know, there are a lot of different ways to do this. But
they went, you know, all-out, and I think, you know, what is the obvious
thing here is that the story itself is not an allegation. “Mother Jones”
isn`t claiming, you know, that Bill O`Reilly said or did these things. We
are actually presenting videotape and his own words.
People can – you know, on the right, left, in the middle, can look
at it and come to a decision all of their own. We`re reporting
inconsistencies, we`re not making allegations.
And yet Bill O`Reilly, we have video of him saying, “When I was in
the war zone in Argentina in the Falklands.” And then he comes out and
says in the last couple of days, “I never said I was in the Falklands.”
Well, people can compare and contrast and come to whatever conclusion
they want. And – but, you know, yes, I guess you can call me a liar for
putting up his own video, contradicting what he says. But that really
doesn`t – you know, I hate to say this, but it shouldn`t win the argument.
But for his audience, it might be effective.
MADDOW: Right, exactly. And that`s the strategic – that`s the
strategy, right? To say that you have disproven something without
bothering to actually do it and hope that the loudness of your voice wins
And, you know, bombast is easy to come by in our business on all
sides of the ideological spectrum, but threats against other journalists
for being journalists is not tenable in this business for any news
organization, unless they`re not going to pretend to be a news organization
David Corn, Washington bureau chief at “Mother Jones” – thank you
for helping us understand this and I`m sorry that you got threatened.
CORN: Well, thank you for having me and giving a very good
explanation. I appreciate it, Rachel.
MADDOW: I appreciate it, David. Thanks.
All right. We`ve got lots still to come. Please stay with me. And
yes, I can hear you screaming on Twitter from here. I can hear you.
Stay with us.
MADDOW: So, while President Obama was on stage today answering tough
questions from Jose Diaz-Balart, back in Washington today, it was chaos –
strategic chaos, procedural chaos, one party erupting in a huge fight
itself, people going out of the way to stop things they like and help
things that they hate.
It was really weird today, birds of a feather not flocking together.
Peanut butter rejecting jelly. Thieves unthickening. It was a weird,
weird political day.
For example, that`s nobody Republicans hate more in the Obama
administration than, stay it with me now, Eric Holder. That said, by their
own actions, Republicans in Congress have now apparently decided to keep
Eric Holder on as attorney general indefinitely, even though he would like
to leave that job.
Tomorrow, there will be a vote on the woman who would replace Eric
Holder as attorney general if the Republicans would only let her.
Republicans and conservatives have spent the last two days lobbying
furiously for Republican senators to vote against that nomination, and
there is no clear indication at this point that Loretta Lynch will tomorrow
get enough votes to be confirmed when that vote happens tomorrow afternoon.
It`s not because of anything about her, it`s because of how much
Republicans hate the current attorney general. They hate Eric Holder so
much that they are making sure that they keep Eric Holder as attorney
general for the foreseeable future.
It`s really weird, right? But that is under way. And that strategy
is going to bear its perversely incomprehensible strategic fruit tomorrow
All eyes are on the Homeland Security Department and whether or not
they can come up with something to keep it from shutting down on Friday.
But in the midst of that big fight, tomorrow afternoon, they`re going to
take that vote on Loretta Lynch and nobody knows what is going to happen
with that vote. Total chaos. Tada!
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.
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