The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 10/12/15
MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY, MSNBC GUEST HOST: Hi, Chris.
Thanks to you and thank you for joining us this hour. Rachel has the night
We begin tonight with – sweat. Yes, sweat. I mean, it has played a
bigger role in our political life than you might think. Famously, it
played a big role in America`s first televised presidential debate when
Richard Nixon`s pale perspiring face may have cost him the election against
the telegenic JFK.
And this year, sweat has made something of a political comeback. Donald
Trump seems to be a little obsessed with it, specifically how much of it
his rivals for the Republican presidential nomination produce.
It was in the very first moments of his campaign launch speech that Mr.
Trump mocked Rick Perry for how sweaty he was at his campaign kickoff,
claiming his inability to control his perspiration would make him bad at
After last month`s debate, the Donald claimed Marco Rubio was the
sweatiest, quote, “young guy he`d ever seen.” Then, he sent the Florida
senator a care passenger of Trump-branded water bottles and towels.
And that`s just on the Republican side. This weekend in an interview on
the podcast “Another Round”, it was Hillary Clinton`s turn to answer some
questions on the sweat subject.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
HEBEN: In preparation for this interview, I watched a lot of your
interviews and I noticed you never sweat like physically.
TRACY: We are the sweatiest humans on the planet.
HEBEN: I`ve done a little bit of press and I get so hot, TV lights, stage
TRACY: I`m sweating right now, I`m sitting still.
HEBEN: Like what is your deodorant situation?
HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, first of all, you`ve
only done a little bit. When you`ve done as much as I have –
HEBEN: But like, what is your secret?
CLINTON: My secret is you do it so often – you didn`t see me 40 years ago
when I did my first ones.
HEBEN: I don`t mean like sweat because you`re nervous. I just mean
physically hot. It`s hot.
TRACY: Lights are very, very hot.
HEBEN: I`m genuinely curious what your deodorant is.
CLINTON: I just turned off the thermostat. I don`t know.
HEBEN: Do you have a spray situation? Is that a liquid? I am not joking.
I`m sweating right now, guys.
CLINTON: Solid. Solid block. I like the solid. Solid block is much
HEBEN: OK. I got to work on the solid.
TRACY: OK, this is an odd question that I lobbied for a lot because it`s
one of my favorite questions to ask people. If you don`t have an answer,
that`s fine. But I will be a little sad.
HEBEN: OK, Tracy.
TRACY: What`s the weirdest thing about you?
CLINTON: The weirdest thing about me is that I don`t sweat.
HEBEN: Yes! Best argument for Hillary as a robot, zero sweat.
CLINTON: You guys are the first to realize that I`m really not even a
human being. I was constructed in a garage in Palo Alto a very long time
HEBEN: This explains a lot.
CLINTON: People think that Bill Gates and Steve Jobs, they created –
HEBEN: They don`t even know.
CLINTON: Oh, no. I mean, a man whose name shall remain nameless created
me in his garage.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: Election 2016.
So, when Hillary Clinton takes the stage in Las Vegas tomorrow night at the
very first Democratic presidential primary debate, that`s one thing she
won`t have to worry about. Sweat.
But if you listen to the pundits, she may have to be worried about
everything else. Just as in her previous campaigns for office, Hillary
Clinton is getting every piece of advice you can imagine. Don`t be too
stiff, don`t be too folksy, don`t be too lefty, don`t be too centrist,
mush, don`t be too weak, but don`t attack a 74-year-old socialist from
Vermont who everyone in the base basically likes.
How she engages with Bernie Sanders will obviously be one of the main
things to watch tomorrow night. We know from the 2008 face-offs with then-
Senator Obama that Hillary Clinton is a debater who can really land a punch
when she wants to.
But even though Senator Sanders is her main rival few people expect her to
go on the attack. Senator Sanders has, of course, been drawing massive
crowds. Just this weekend, he spoke to 9,000 supporters in Colorado and
13,000 in Arizona. Those are medium-sized crowds for him. He leads in
recent polls in New Hampshire and he raised almost as much money last
quarter as the Clinton campaign.
But Hillary Clinton is still far and away the front-runner. In the latest
national poll out yesterday, Bernie Sanders is Clinton`s closest rival with
Joe Biden in third. Though to be fair he`s not yet declared.
Everybody else is 2 percent or less. But Clinton still leads Sanders by
almost 20 points. Now, take Joe Biden out of the equation and she leads by
almost 25 points.
In the early voting states beyond New Hampshire the story is the same. In
new polls out today Hillary Clinton captures 50 percent of the Democratic
vote in Nevada with Sanders and Biden splitting the rest. And in South
Carolina, she beats Bernie Sanders by over 30 points and Biden scores a
rare second-place ranking.
Bernie Sanders is doing better than anyone expected, but in the context of
tomorrow`s debate he has nowhere to go but up. Whereas at least according
to the conventional wisdom, Hillary Clinton can only be hurt by her debate
performance. When your numbers are good, any change is likely to be bad.
So we`re expecting Hillary to aim for that goldilocks zone – don`t
disappoint supporters, don`t repel any potential voters, just keep things
Now, the idea that Clinton only has something to lose in a primary debate
is the basis for her opponent`s demands that there be more debates. They
all agree there should be more than the currently scheduled six. And
Martin O`Malley has practically made the push for more debates his campaign
platform, charging that the Democratic National Committee is limiting
debates specifically to help Clinton. Even Secretary Clinton herself has
said she`s open to more debates.
But DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz has been adamant about only having
Congresswoman Schultz was nearly shouted down at a convention in New
Hampshire last month by Democratic primary members chanting “we want
debates.” And now, demands are coming for from high in the DNC`s own
ranks. Congresswoman and DNC vice chair, Tulsi Gabbard, was on this
network one week ago, calling for more Democratic debates. She now says
the next day, she was disinvited from tomorrow night`s debate.
Now, a person close to the committee told “The New York Times” that wasn`t
true. “She was not uninvited. The DNC team wanted this first debate to
have all the focus on the candidates and Gabbard`s people were told that if
they couldn`t commit to that, since Tulsi was trying to publicly divide the
DNC leadership last week, then they should consider not coming.”
You see, it`s not that I`m disinviting you to my party, I just think you
should consider not coming.
So, as that passive-aggressive battle continues, for now, there are only
going to be six debates. And so, the candidates who are not Hillary
Clinton are obviously hoping to break through in some way. Maybe Bernie
Sanders will come out swinging to try to knock Hillary Clinton off her game
“The Washington Post” is suggesting that Jim Webb could be the wildcard who
really shakes up the debate. Jim Webb? The guy who has such a low profile
a magazine actually did an investigation into whether he was really running
for president. Maybe he`s just been hunkering down and preparing for his
big debate moment.
But of all the things Hillary Clinton has to worry about, the biggest
unknown is Vice President Joe Biden. CNN is actually touting the fact that
they have a podium ready for the vice president if he decides to jump into
the race at the last minute tomorrow afternoon. And honestly, it must be
driving Clinton crazy that Biden gets to eat into her poll numbers and
media attention while not even actually running.
But if Biden weren`t a potential rival, he might actually have some good
advice for Clinton. Because seven years ago, Biden was in a similar
position to hers when he went up against Sarah Palin in the vice
presidential debate in 2008. Look, it was a foregone conclusion he was
going to win. Whatever your feelings about Governor Palin, no one expected
her to do well in a national debate against a gifted speaker like Biden,
someone who`d been known to be able to cut down opponents on a debate
So, Biden`s challenge was how to manage expectations and how to get through
the debate and win without seeming like a bully or an elitist. He had
nothing to gain in the debate, but he came off as obnoxious or
condescending he could do great damage.
Well, Biden pulled it off. And now, it`s Hillary Clinton`s turn. Her
rivals are doubtless going to land some punches tomorrow night. Most of
them have nothing to lose. So, what is she going to do?
Joining us now is MSNBC political correspondent Kasie Hunt live from Las
Kasie, great to have you with us tonight.
KASIE HUNT, MSNBC POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Good to be with you, Melissa.
HARRIS-PERRY: All right. So Hillary Clinton has reportedly been going
through really heavy debate prep in the past few days. Bernie Sanders
claims to be taking a laid-back approach. How do you think that factors
into the debate tomorrow night?
HUNT: Well, look, I think it fundamentally underscores the differences
between these two people as politicians. You think about Bernie Sanders`
long history in the Senate. He`s somebody who has really held the same
policy platform for many years.
For a long time, it didn`t work. He ran several times for local office and
lost. When he finally won, it stuck. He stayed. And he`s very
comfortable going back to those core messages he`s been talking about all
Hillary Clinton, on the other hand, has been someone who`s been a studier
her whole life. If you look at, you know, how she was back when she was a
student, at Wellesley. This is something that comes very naturally to her.
And it was something that was on display quite a bit even in the debates in
We focused to a certain degree on some of the mistakes she may have made,
but she really delivered a series of strong performances on policy issues.
So, she`s in many ways going back to that. It`s a way for her to be on
ground that`s really comfortable for her. And I think those two styles are
going to come into play tomorrow on the debate stage.
HARRIS-PERRY: Let me ask you, though, about that Clinton style in the
context of a 2016 campaign.
So, again, obviously, this is the first time we will have seen the
Democrats together on stage, but the Republicans have set a bit of a tone
in this particular primary season for the theatrics. And it does not sound
like Hillary Clinton will be bringing theatrics.
HUNT: Even CNN has come out and said we don`t think the ratings are going
to be as high for the Democratic debate as they were for the Republicans.
What`s been going on on the debate stages on the Republican side is pretty
unprecedented. And this is going to be something that I think focuses in a
And while we`ve looked at the way these candidates might jostle up against
each other, we`ve heard from people inside Bernie Sanders` camp that this
is going to focus on policy, if there`s contrast from him they`re going to
be focused on where his policy differs from where Hillary Clinton has done
over the years. And I think you`ve started to see that over the course of
the past couple of days with him emphasizing he voted against the Iraq war
originally. That`s obviously a pretty central contrast. If you look at
issues like the TPP, like the Keystone pipeline, those are the kind of
things we`re going to see between the two of them.
I do think one question mark on fireworks is Martin O`Malley. He`s
somebody to watch in this regard. He has been trailing in the polls. He`s
down around the same kind of areas where Lincoln Chafee and Jim Webb are.
Even as somebody who was a popular governor of a blue state in Maryland,
he`s really struggled to break out.
And so, I think the question that – and what I`ve been hearing from people
here on the ground is they`ve thought about how he might enter into this is
if you remember back in 2012, Tim Pawlenty threatened to take the stage
against Mitt Romney, who was a strong front-runner, and he previewed an
attack ahead of time and then he failed to deliver on the debate stage, and
it really helped end his candidacy.
And I think that`s what we`re going to look for tomorrow from Martin
O`Malley. Is he going to actually come out swinging, land a punch or two
on Hillary Clinton in a way that makes him look bigger, like a stronger
candidate, like somebody who might break out, or are you going to see him
step back and fade even further into the background?
HARRIS-PERRY: Yes. This question of being on a stage with folks who are
polling as poorly as Mr. O`Malley or Mr. Webb, it really does set up a
circumstance where those folks have really nothing to lose and it does feel
like here we are in Vegas where the fights happen and the theatrics happen,
that they may be the ones that can draw that attention.
HUNT: It`s possible. I think you were talking a little bit earlier about
how Hillary does – Hillary Clinton, excuse me, does have quite a bit
potentially to lose, and the reality is that`s just the set of expectation
that`s go along with being a front-runner. Especially a front-runner that
is so dominant as she has been despite the stumbles that she`s made,
despite the problems, whether it`s Benghazi, whether it`s the e-mails.
She`s simply in a position of strength. And if she makes a mistake, she`s
going to contribute to that sense that there are problems going on in her
And as we`re waiting for Joe Biden to make a decision, that`s simply going
to add fuel to that fire. Whereas for all of the other candidates who are
going to be on the stage, they still are taking an opportunity to introduce
themselves to the American people. In many cases, it`s going to be one of
the biggest audiences they`ve ever spoken to. So, it`s hard to go down
from where they are. And I think, you know, for Clinton, the stakes are
extraordinarily high and the people around her know it very well.
HARRIS-PERRY: Just a one-word answer. You think VP Biden is going to come
and take that empty podium?
HUNT: That is not for me to say, Melissa. I will report. The rest of you
can decide –
HARRIS-PERRY: Can conjecture.
HUNT: Those that I have spoken to here I think are pretty convinced, the
Democrats, that several of them were on the same plane I flew out with this
morning, they`re in the halls at the Wynn, and they I think are leaning
toward him getting in at this point.
HARRIS-PERRY: MSNBC political correspondent Kasie Hunt live tonight from
Las Vegas – thanks for your time tonight.
HUNT: Thanks, Melissa.
HARRIS-PERRY: There`s a lot more ahead tonight, including America`s next
speaker of the House, Dick Cheney! No, really, somebody`s suggesting Dick
Cheney. These are desperate times among Republicans in Washington. And
HARRIS-PERRY: Remember when Eric Holder tried to step down as attorney
general, but even as he resigned he promised he would stay on until the
Senate confirmed his replacement? I mean, after all, how long could that
But then, Republicans stalled by creating false barriers predicated on
entirely unrelated legislation and refused to hold a vote on Loretta Lynch
for five months after her nomination, which meant that not only did she
face one of the longest waits to become attorney general ever, not only was
she stuck waiting around, but Eric Holder was stuck too.
Holder could not quit his job when he wanted to. Republicans professed to
hate him. But because of that epic delay by Republicans, Eric Holder could
So, inside the Justice Department among members of his staff these became
the new must-have item, “Free Eric Holder” wrist bands. Free Eric Holder
became a rallying cry for the man who couldn`t quit the job he no longer
And who aim to say, but maybe it`s time to order another batch for this
guy, John Boehner. Seemed really zip-a-dee-doo-dah happity when he quit
his job as house speaker, but now he can`t leave because of the utter
dysfunction of his Republican Party.
Now, Boehner wants to leave but he can`t find a Republican to replace him.
Is it time for a “Free John Boehner” wrist band?
Now that President Obama is saying nice things about him, maybe the White
House could have them printed up. Free John Boehner, y`all.
Pick a new house speaker. Let him go.
HARRIS-PERRY: It`s hardly news that the congressional Republicans are
having a bad week. But you know it is really bad when President Obama
seems nostalgic about his years with Speaker John Boehner.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STEVE KROFT, CBS: Are you going to miss John Boehner?
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: John Boehner and I disagreed
on just about everything. But the one thing I`ll say about John Boehner is
he did care about the institution. He recognized that nobody gets 100
percent in our democracy.
I won`t say that he and I were ideal partners. But he and I could talk and
we could get some things done.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: He and I could talk. We could get some things done, says
the president on “60 Minutes” yesterday.
OK, maybe they could talk to each other. But there was actually a fair bit
of evidence that they could not get some things done. John Boehner took
control, and I use that term loosely, of the House in 2011.
And as speaker, he has had the dubious distinction of presiding over the
least productive Congresses in modern history. The 112th Congress passed
286 bills. The 113th got a little more done with 296 bills. But the
combined productivity of the 112th and 113th Congress is the lowest back-
to-back of any congresses on record, which is 581 bills passed.
Compare that to the 110th and 111th Congresses under Nancy Pelosi, where
she ushered through 843. John Boehner`s tenure included a 16-day
government shutdown and a few more near shutdowns, a debt ceiling crisis.
And as speaker, he`s never really had any bill-signing ceremonies he could
actually take pride in.
John Boehner took his very first flight on Air Force One just this past
summer, when the president went to Charleston, South Carolina, to attend
the funeral service for the nine victims of the shooting at the AME Church.
That was his very first time flying with his president, just this past
And if there is one thing that President Obama and John Boehner do agree
on, it`s a shared love of golf. And during their years together, they went
golfing a total of one time, in 2011. After that it became clear they
couldn`t go again.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: If I go down to see
President Obama, the right begins to wonder what I`m up to. The left
begins to wonder what the president`s up to. You know, the president`s
suggested, hey, you think it`s too much trouble if we play golf again? And
I have to look at him and say yes. Because it just – everybody gets –
INTERVIEWER: Bent out of shape.
BOEHNER: Bent out of shape, worried about what we`re up to. Well, we
really want to do is play golf.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: They`re trying to play golf and people are getting bent out
No, they are the reason, these people getting bent out of shape, they`re
the reason John Boehner decided to quit his job. They`re the reason Kevin
McCarthy decided to pull out of the speaker race. They`re the reason the
race for speaker is in a state of utter chaos right now.
They are 40-some members of Congress who want to make sure that whoever is
speaker never golfs or works with President Obama. They`re called the
Freedom Caucus, and their membership is unknown. But we do know about them
is that there isn`t any public list of the members but that vaguely 4/5 of
the Freedom Caucus was elected after President Obama took office on an
anti-Obama, anti-Obama Tea Party wave. The third were elected in the Tea
Party heyday of 2010 and now they`re causing the current leadership crisis
in the party.
Now, there are 435 members of the House, 247 are Republicans. To become
speaker, somebody`s going to need 218 votes. Right now, 40-some members
are blocking any speaker from getting elected.
And that is why we have a slew of people being floated as possible
speakers. As of Friday we had 20-some candidates. Now we can add Texas
Congressman Bill Flores to that group and Texas Congressman Michael McCaul.
And I have one more to add from Texas, Congressman Pete Sessions. That
makes five total from Texas.
We also got Utah Congressman Rob Bishop`s name being floated over the
weekend and Congressman Mike Pompeo from Kansas increasing our number of
potential speakers to 25.
That isn`t including the non-congressional candidates like Newt Gingrich,
who said he would do it. And the junior senator from the great state of
Arkansas, Tom Cotton, excuse me, telling “Politico” today that he would
like to see former Vice President Dick Cheney as the speaker, which would
be kind of amazing.
But there really is only one candidate that`s being taken seriously, and
that is Congressman Paul Ryan, who does not seem to really want the job.
Former presidential candidate Mitt Romney reportedly lobbied him to run
this weekend, though it hasn`t seemed to have made much of an impact, other
than maybe influencing Ryan`s Halloween costume choice. Paul Ryan now
saying he will be going as Mitt Romney for Halloween.
Truth is it`s unclear if Paul Ryan`s actually going to get in. His
spokesman preemptively tweeted that nothing has changed regarding the
congressman and not to anticipate any news this week.
And so, we`re at a bit of a standstill. I`m sure we will get more
candidates to add to our ginormous chart here. But for the moment, we`re
in limbo and it`s unclear exactly what happens next and when the
Republicans will actually get just one, one speaker.
Joining me now is Jake Sherman, senior congressional reporter for
Thanks for being here.
JAKE SHERMAN, POLITICO: Thanks for having me.
HARRIS-PERRY: OK. So, when you hear the president talking about all that
he and Speaker Boehner were able to get done, is he just – is he trolling
the Republicans? Is he stirring the pot because he knows that`s precisely
what they don`t want, is a speaker who will work with him?
SHERMAN: I think what he was trying to say is he could at least have an
honest conversation with Boehner, and that`s what people say about Boehner
and that`s what people say they`re going to miss about him in that
position, is that he was able to talk about what he could and could not do
in an honest way. And that`s refreshing because there`s a lot of people
who overpromise in Washington.
So, John Boehner knew his limitations, knew the limitations of his power,
which were – you know, everybody knows they`re on display a lot on Capitol
Hill and I think the president appreciated that.
HARRIS-PERRY: So, Paul Ryan actually seems to share some of those
attributes, somebody who`s a bit of a straight shooter, someone who can
have these conversations even if there`s a great deal of disagreement, and
there are now some Freedom Caucus members suggesting they could get behind
Ryan. Will that help to change the congressman`s mind?
SHERMAN: That`s unclear. I mean, there`s really almost nobody that`s been
able to get to Ryan to get a real answer out of him, and you showed his
spokesman`s tweet that we shouldn`t expect any news this week.
I think if I were a gambling man at this point I think Ryan, he`s looking
at it and the calls might become too overwhelming.
But in conversations with people that talked to Ryan that I`ve spoken to, I
think he wants to be the consensus candidate. He doesn`t want to fight.
He doesn`t want to take heat. He wants to be the guy that everyone wants.
And he`s close to that.
I mean, this is someone, you talk about 218 votes. He would get very close
to that if not over that. I mean, he is a very popular figure.
Now, there are some people on the right that are beginning to say he`s a
squish, he`s a RINO, he`s not a really conservative. You can say what you
want about Paul Ryan, but he`s a pretty big conservative in a well-known
conservative, someone whose conservative credentials are kind of
HARRIS-PERRY: So, Jake, I`m a feminist, so I fundamentally believe that –
SHERMAN: Me too.
HARRIS-PERRY: Right? So I fundamentally believe that no means no.
But I do have to wonder if Congressman Ryan is playing a little here, if
there is a kind of theater to this so that in fact he becomes a consensus
candidate because everything seems to be falling apart and that actually
allows him to do kind of a power play in walking into the speaker role.
SHERMAN: I think you kind of – you might be over-reading it a bit. He
really does not want to be speaker. He has resisted several requests over
the years to join House Republican leadership. He hates it. He doesn`t
like the fund-raising. He wants to go home to Janesville.
The people I talked to who know his life back there, he`s really going to
his kids` soccer games and stuff like that. This isn`t an act.
If he were speaker, his job would kind of blow up. It would be all
consuming and overwhelming.
And for somebody with young kids, it`s difficult. I mean, Boehner is in
his 60s. He has two grown children. And so, he`s able to go out on the
weekends and raise money and travel all around the country.
Ryan does not want to do that. Now, whether he could – he`s wooed by
these calls from pundits and from lawmakers and from Mitt Romney and
friends and family, that`s to be seen. My guess is yes, but I`ve been all
over the place on this on the last couple of days.
HARRIS-PERRY: All right. So, Jake, the question for me, then, is in three
months, in six months, in twelve months when we`re at the presidential
election, will this have been just kind of a news cycle blip or is this
really a meaningful disintegration of how we`ve understood how the
Republican Party operates in the U.S. House of Representatives?
SHERMAN: This is a true boil over. I mean, I`ve been covering this House
Republican conference since 2009, when the Republicans were in the
minority. This is truly kind of the moment – we`ve seen a bunch of these
moments, the government shutdown which you mentioned earlier, the near debt
This is kind of the culmination of all of those things. This is the really
come to Jesus moment, if you will, of the House Republican conference. And
they`re going to have to figure out together where they want to go because
they are paralyzed and unable to govern at this point.
And I think a lot of people that I`m speaking to, members of Congress,
think that Ryan really could be the transformational leader that the party
needs at this point, somebody who`s not wanted the job but who`s being
called to it, somebody who has the policy credentials the party`s seeking.
I think he wants people to follow him because they believe in him as a
leader. And I think a lot of people are coming around to that. So, I
think this is more than just a blip in the cycle. This is a kind of
existential moment for the House Republican conference. And I think if
Ryan takes it, this party kind of might go in a new direction.
HARRIS-PERRY: Yes, it`s fascinating to watch. And my sense is, I get the
young children and the family thing. I also know when people are called to
public service, it could be very hard not to answer that call.
Jake Sherman, senior congressional reporter for “Politico” – thanks for
your time tonight.
HARRIS-PERRY: Still ahead tonight, Dr. Ben Carson speaks. And you know
how that goes. The gory Carsonian details are coming up.
HARRIS-PERRY: OK. Let`s say by some chance you are called upon to
christen some enormous new marvel of military hardware. Keep in mind the
struggle of First Lady Bess Truman, seen here demonstrating the ceremonial
champagne smashing is nowhere near as easy as you might think.
Come on! Break, stupid bottle.
Our current first lady, Michelle Obama, faced the same daunting challenge
this weekend, and we shall see if she learned any lessons from Bess Truman,
Swing from the shoulder, Bess. Come on, now. Follow through.
HARRIS-PERRY: Nearly one year ago, 12-year-old Tamir Rice was fatally shot
by a police officer in Cleveland after a 911 caller reported someone waving
a gun in a local park.
We now know that Rice did not have a gun. What he had was a realistic-
looking pellet gun. But within seconds of officers arriving on the scene,
Tamir Rice had been shot and killed.
It`s been nearly a year since 12-year-old Tamir died, but the officers
involved have faced no charges. Prosecutors say they`re continuing to
And over the weekend, they released two outside reports. Both of those
reports found that the shooting was justifiable. Yes. Two outside
experts, both from law enforcement backgrounds, both commissioned by the
prosecutor, write that it was reasonable to shoot Tamir Rice just seconds
after pulling up to the park where he was playing.
These reviews are not a legal finding. A grand jury may still bring
indictments. But it has been nearly a year. A 12-year-old is dead. And
yesterday, we woke to the news that there are experts who believe his
killing was justified.
For me, for many living in communities of color, these realities, a dead
child, no indictment, and report findings about possible justifiable
killing cause trauma. The video of his death plays again and again, and
we`re reminded that it is quite possible that no one will ever be held
And yet, empathy for this community trauma seemed absent in a meeting last
week between dozens of city leaders, top law enforcement officials, and
U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch in D.C.
They were discussing the recent rise in violent crime across the country.
And they were discussing the so-called Ferguson effect – the theory that
an uptick in violence in the months following police killing of Michael
Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, resulted from protests against police
misconduct and that police as a result backed off and then used less
aggressive policing, which has emboldened criminals.
Here`s the problem with the so-called Ferguson effect. This report from
the Sentencing Project details the lack of credible and conclusive evidence
about the Ferguson effect. This chart shows that homicides and violent
crimes had already begun to increase before Michael Brown was killed in
August of 2014 and homicide rates had begun climbing in June and violent
crimes started escalating in May.
Richard Rosenfeld, a professor at the University of Missouri-St. Louis,
wrote this brief and found that events in Ferguson were not responsible for
the rise in homicide in St. Louis. And today, this report from St. Louis
shows that crime there is on the decline. Crime declined from July to
August and also declined again in September.
But in that three-hour meeting last week between top law enforcement
officials, politicians and Attorney General Loretta Lynch, another theory
emerged, sort of a first cousin to the Ferguson effect. According to the
second theory, as “The Washington Post” put it, quote, “Officers in
American cities have pulled back and have stopped policing as aggressively
as they used to, fearing that they could be the next person in uniform
featured on a career-ending viral video.”
“The Post” says New York City Police Commissioner Bill Bratton, whose
officers were seen on camera putting Eric Gardner in a chokehold, called
it`s YouTube effect. A former top police official in Boston suggested it
has led to a reduction in proactive policing.
So, while American families buried their beloveds, who have died at the
hands of police, who have largely not been held accountable for those
deaths, we learned that the country`s top law enforcement is discussing
their fear of YouTube. This last week in Texas, a black city council
member was tasered by officers outside his home, and one witness says he
was kneeling and had his hands at his side.
The incident, which was captured on cell phone video, happened in the same
small town where a police officer arrested Sandra Bland this summer – in
the video now seen by millions of people. And now, officials say that one
of the officers involved in this latest tasering was also involved in the
arrest of Sandra Bland. She later died in custody. And the footage from
her arrest were shown continually in media outlets around the country.
So, whatever the fear of officers in Prairie View, Texas, might have been,
whatever fear they had about the YouTube effect, does not seem to have
stopped them from tasering that city council member last week.
So, it is pretty clear to me that the fears that fuel the Black Lives
Matter protests, those protests are fueled by fears that unarmed civilians
will encounter undeserved violence at the hands of police. But given that
at least one officer who has already been caught on tape seems undeterred
from aggressive policing, just what is it that officers are afraid of?
I`ll ask a retired police officer next. Stay with us.
HARRIS-PERRY: If you believe in the Ferguson effect, then you believe that
the protests over police killings of Michael Brown and protests like them
over other police killings in other cities have led police to back off from
doing their jobs and that that has led to a rise in crime. That theory is
known as the Ferguson effect, and along with it the related YouTube effect
has been the talk of police officers and politicians for months now.
But is the Ferguson effect real? Do officers hold back from their duties
because they fear ending up on YouTube? Or is something else at work?
Joining me now is Marquez Claxton, who is director of Black Law Enforcement
Alliance, and he is also a former New York City police officer.
Thanks for being here, Marq.
MARQ CLAXTON, FORMER NYPD DETECTIVE: Thanks, Melissa.
HARRIS-PERRY: So, I think there are many reasonable things for police
officers to be afraid of in their work. That makes perfect sense to me.
But I`m not quite sure what to do with |I`m afraid that I might be seen
doing my work”. I mean, it`s a democracy. We should be able to see the
police doing their work, right?
CLAXTON: Yes, you would think so. It really is an absurdity. And even
the theory about this Ferguson effect and how police officers, the
documentation – video documentation of police officers engaged in all
types of behavior would have a direct impact on a police officer`s
willingness to actually work, it is really offensive and it speaks poorly
to the profession itself.
I mean, the nature of police work is pro-activity, and it is not contingent
upon whether or not you accept or believe in reform or change or
adaptations that people may demand. It is a requirement based in what you
swore to uphold and protect.
HARRIS-PERRY: So, Marq, this is one of the challenges I feel we always
have when we`re having this conversation, because we don`t have an
opportunity usually to talk to men and women who are policing at this time,
right? You usually can`t talk to folks until they`re retired.
And so, I wonder, given that these are top brass officials, given that
these are politicians, if they`re actually saying things about front line
officers that just aren`t true, in other words, the front line officers are
still out there doing their jobs and this is just kind of a way of almost
blaming them for the rise in crime in these cities.
CLAXTON: It`s really a crazy situation. Many of those individuals who
will come out with these theories about the Ferguson effect, and I`m
talking about legislators and other supposedly – you know, government
officials and other supposedly responsible individuals are really
attempting to continue this thing about lionizing police officers, about
venerating police officers, and in essence and for all practical purposes
granting police officers diplomatic immunity.
And so, they behave in such a way that is blind to the realities, and
that`s why there`s some pushback when you talk about YouTube or these cell
cam – these videos that come out of the cameras or other evidence itself
because it really shatters their attempts to lionize law enforcement. And
to go a little further than that, that would be a huge mistake if this
trend towards lionizing or venerating law enforcement continues because
police officers are public servants paid by the public dollar. They are
not victims. They are volunteers who get paid and they should be held to a
It is the profession that has taken a tremendous hit when you have
individuals who will not recognize what is wrong with the profession
HARRIS-PERRY: Yes, and I have to say the other thing that`s surprising to
me is this language of career-ending YouTube videos when much of what, for
example, the Black Lives Matter movement is about is actually the non-
If you think about, for example, in New York. Those big protests did not
occur immediately after Mr. Garner`s death. They occurred after the grand
jury did not indict. It`s been a year and still no indictment in the death
of Tamir Rice.
I think it seems odd to think that officers are the ones sort of fearing
the end of their career.
CLAXTON: Well, you know, police officers, law enforcement community,
police officers in particular become very defensive when they`re questioned
or God forbid criticized. And the reaction, the natural reaction is to
invoke what I mentioned earlier, and that`s like as if they have diplomatic
immunity. Like because we assume this dangerous position, we took this
job, we took this oath, we wanted this career, and it`s dangerous, then we
should be allowed to do all manner of things and not be criticized or
questioned about it.
It just – like I said, it doesn`t bode well for the profession, and it
really indicates a clear lowering of professional standards across the
nation. And many of these incidents have also exposed that there is no
professional – national professional standard for police agencies, what
they do in Cleveland or what they do in California or New York could be
vastly different and the response oftentimes is vastly different.
HARRIS-PERRY: Yes, a little bit of a dust-up about whether or not the
Department of Justice should in fact enforce collection of this use of
force data. What do you say? Should it have to be collected by the –
HARRIS-PERRY: Yes. All right.
CLAXTON: Absolutely. You can`t fix it if you can`t chart it. So they
should definitely collect the data.
HARRIS-PERRY: Marq Claxton, director of the Black Law Enforcement
Alliance. Thank you for your time tonight. Always a pleasure to talk to
CLAXTON: Thanks, Melissa.
HARRIS-PERRY: And still ahead tonight, the strange but true intersection
of Republican presidential politics and the guy who plays Pornstache on
“Orange is the New Black.” I swear to you those two worlds collided today,
and we have the tape to prove it. And that is just ahead.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JUDD HIRSCH: Giving your kids even one chore a helps them build a real
sense of responsibility. And that`s something they can carry with them the
rest of their lives, unlike garbage.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: Well, thanks, Judd Hirsch. Everyone remembers NBC`s classic
Well, with all deference to the genius of that campaign, THE RACHEL MADDOW
SHOW has borrowed the idea. And now, I`m borrowing it from Rachel.
When a story becomes a cliff-hanger and you finally learn the rest, you
know more now. Right, right, right, right. Oh, hey, Nick.
OK. So, anyway, last week Rachel did a preview of First Lady Obama`s event
this weekend where she was set to christen the USS Illinois, our Navy`s
newest, most technologically advanced newest sub.
In doing, so she reminded us things don`t always go as planned for the
first lady in this situation.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RACHEL MADDOW, TRMS HOST: Poor Bess Truman.
Turns out the bottle is supposed to be scored, kind of scratched with some
cuts before christening to allow for a clean break. And maybe they forgot
to do that for Bess Truman which is what happened there.
Honestly, even if they forget to scratch up the bottle for Michelle Obama,
if there were ever a first lady who could handle it, right, if there were
any first lady who were ever ready for a recalcitrant battle and its
planned meeting with a giant nuclear powered submarine, I think it`s
probably the one we have now. Honestly, I think I feel bad for the bottle.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: And that was where Rachel left the story. But now, we know
how it turned out. On Saturday, where the stage was set for a showdown in
Connecticut between the first lady, a bottle of bubbly, and a nuclear
submarine, I`ll let the video tell you the rest.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHELLE OBAMA, U.S. FIRST LADY: In the name of the United States, I
christen Illinois. May God bless her and all who sail on her.
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
(CHEERS & APPLAUSE)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: If there were any doubt, now, after two, let`s call them
warm-upswings, the first lady was able to bless that boat. Look at that
We don`t know whether the bottle was prepped and scored properly for Mrs.
Obama but it did not make a difference. She powered through it anyway.
And no wonder, I mean, we saw her training and now we know what she was
training to. Probably a brand new Spotify playlist that she put together
in honor of International Day of the Girl. Let me tell you, it has nothing
but certified bangers. Beyonce`s “Run the World,” “Girl On Fire” by Alicia
Keys, “Respect” by Aretha, and FLOTUS even has “No Scrubs” on there. I`m
So not only did she bash that bottle on the submarine, but she also dropped
a girl power Spotify playlist this weekend. And, thus, you know more now.
HARRIS-PERRY: So if you happen to be flipping through the channels earlier
today, you may have noticed there was a big political convention taking
place in New Hampshire, so big that eight candidates from both parties
decided to be part of it – including some big names like Donald Trump and
And if you did happen to be matching, you may have noticed vaguely familiar
faces in the crowd. Once in a while someone familiar would pop upholding a
microphone for the questioners in the audience. People like this guy, and
while he may look like your mailman, he`s not. He played one on TV. Yes,
that`s Newman from “Seinfeld”. Jerry Seinfeld`s biggest nemesis was
working the crowd in today`s political forum in New Hampshire.
This next guy might be a little bit harder to identify because right now he
looks decidedly less pervy than in “The Orange is the New Black”. Believe
it or not, that is Pornstache, the prisoner officer warming up the crowd
just a few minutes before New Jersey Governor Chris Christie.
Here`s another – if you get this one there`s a chance you`re watching too
much PBS. That is Richard Kind, he was in “Spin City” and “Mad About You”,
and it seems like everyone on the staff knows him best for the best
character in “A Bug`s Life.”
So, that was the scene in New Hampshire politics today, a room full of
people that you can`t quite put your finger on. And it bring this up
because you may experience the same thing during tomorrow`s Democratic
Yes, Hillary Clinton and Senator Bernie Sanders will be there. You might
also know this guy, Governor O`Malley.
But some other candidates are about recognizable, probably less so than the
guy from “Bug`s Life.” And the only saving grace is there are only five of
those to keep track of in the Democratic debate.
On the Republican side, that`s another story altogether. There`s still 15
candidates. Either the voters don`t want them or they don`t want them.
Here`s the latest CBS News Republican presidential poll. As you can see,
Donald Trump is still in the lead with 27 percent. Dr. Ben Carson still
pulling in second with 21 percent of the vote.
Take a look at the rest. None of the other candidates polled in double
digits, not a single one. Bobby Jindal and George Pataki are polling as
asterisks. That means they`ve got less than 0.5 percent of the vote. Sit
down to actually do the math, and that means one or maybe two people would
actually pick Bob Jindal or Pataki to be president, one or two people.
Senator Lindsey Graham and Jim Gilmore would kill for those numbers. They
did not even register on this latest CBS News poll. They get whatever is
less than an asterisk. They get a dash.
What is also interesting is if you look at this latest data, who has the
highest favorability in the field? Dr. Ben Carson is in second place in
the race but he has the highest favorability of any of the candidates at 62
percent, remarkably high actually, even though he says things like this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
BEN CARSON (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I would not just stand there and
let them shoot me. I would say, high, guys, everybody attack him. He may
shoot me but he can`t get us all.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What did you mean when you said, I would not just
CARSON: I want to plant in people`s minds what to do in a situation like
this, because unfortunately this is probably not going to be the last time
The likelihood of Hitler being able to accomplish his goals would have been
greatly diminished if the people had been armed.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s not just hyperbole to use Nazi analogies.
CARSON: It`s not hyperbole at all.
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
HARRIS-PERRY: There`s something disturbing about that but I have to say
the most troubling part is the fact that Dr. Carson is not only a top tier
candidate, he is also viewed in a deeply favorable light.
America, I`m going to need us to do a little better.
And that does it for us tonight. Rachel will be back 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
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