The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 10/28/15
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: And thanks to you at home for joining us
this hour. Great to have you here.
So, a broadcast network, television network is offered a multimillion
dollar ad buy. That`s an ad buy for multiple blockbuster ads to run across
the network, to run on the super successful super high-profile late-night
comedy show, and the ads will also run on their evening newscast and on
their morning newscasts. The ads will run on their world famous weekly
news magazine show.
It`s a multimillion dollar advertising deal, and it`s to run ads for a
new movie made by Sony Pictures. This is a mainstream movie. Obviously,
Sony Pictures is a mainstream movie studio.
But in this case the broadcast network does the unthinkable in
business terms. The broadcast network in this case turns down the money.
Turns down the deal, and says they will refuse to run any of those ads on
any of their programs.
At the same time, the conservative cable news network you might have
heard of called the FOX News Channel, FOX News and the raging right-wing
New York City tabloid newspaper owned by the same billionaire who owns FOX
News, “New York Post,” both FOX News and “New York Post” go on the warpath
against this movie. “The New York Post” denounces the film as wacko. The
FOX News Channel brings out not just Karl Rove, but Chris Wallace as a host
to both denounce the movie on “FOX News Sunday”.
What is going on is a provocative confluence of events between this
new movie and up-to-the minute current political events, and the trailing
ends of a scandal that once afflicted the Republican Party that may not be
over, in a way that`s freaking some people out, because just as the Jeb
Bush for president campaign has started to roll out reformed President
George W. Bush as a key element of the Jeb Bush for president campaign,
George W. Bush has been raising funds for Jeb all along, he`s been making
statements of support for his brother all along, but now they`re at the
point in the campaign where they`re actually having Jeb Bush and George W.
Bush do joint political appearances for the first time as the Bush family
coalesces around Jeb`s presidential campaign to try to rescue it.
Just as the Bush family and the Jeb Bush campaign and the Republican
establishment more broadly is banking on former President George W. Bush
being sufficiently politically rehabilitated in the public eye, so much so
he could potentially be a plus and not a minus for his brother`s
presidential campaign, just as that is happening in our current politics,
one of the great unresolved scandals of George W. Bush`s public life`s just
been acted out on film by Robert Redford, Kate Blanchett, Elisabeth Moss,
Dennis Quaid, Topher Grace, should I go on?
And they big movie is freaking out not just the players involved in
that old scandal to the point where one broadcast network is turn down
millions of dollars free for nothing. They don`t watch the ads for that
movie on their air. It`s not just freaking people out connected to the
scandal, but freaking people out who have anything to do with this story.
Here it goes. One of the interesting and new things about the last
presidential race we had in 2012 is that it was the first election since
Vietnam in which neither major party candidate had any military service at
all. Neither Barack Obama nor Mitt Romney ever served in the military.
That was the first election like that since Vietnam. But that dynamic is
likely to be the similar dynamic this year. None of the Democratic
candidates for president who are still left in the race have ever served in
On the other side, the only way the Republicans will nominate somebody
who served I that they pick either Jim Gilmore, who is reported to still be
running for president, but there`s no proof of that, or Lindsey Graham, who
is making a real go of it and will not quit the race, but he is roughly if
you`re rounding, at zero percent in the polls. He did spend last night
prepping, but getting drunk in front of a whole bunch of reporters in a bar
in Boulder, Colorado.
So, maybe they`ll pick Jim Gilmore and Lindsey Graham and the streak
will be going, the streak will pick back up again. But in all previous
elections before 2012, the military service record of one or more of the
candidates came up as an issue. Not just as an issue as to whether or not
it was a good qualifications for that candidate becoming commander-in-
chief. Since Vietnam, the military service of various candidates in every
election since that war has been an issue about which there has been some
political discussion or some controversy. It happens in every single
Take, for example, the race in 1988. That race was then Vice
President George H.W. Bush to succeed Ronald Reagan as president. George
H.W. Bush himself obviously had a heroic and storied military career as a
naval aviator in World War II. He really went through some of the horrors
of World War II, and served with incredible distinction. But Vice
President Bush picked as his running mate Dan Quayle.
In that 1988 race, I think it`s kind of forgotten now, but the
Bush/Quayle campaign got criticism that during Vietnam, young Dan Quayle
did not serve in the Vietnam War. Instead, he got himself a coveted
position in the Indiana National Guard, which had the effect basically of
insulating him from any real threat of being sent over to the fight.
That criticism of Dan Quayle apparently stung the Bush/Quayle campaign
enough in 1988 that they decided to hit back on that exact issue. And so,
they sent the Bush/Quayle campaign cochairman out on to TV in August of
that year to say that actually Dan Quayle was not the scandal. The real
National Guard scandal from the Vietnam era was on the Democratic ticket.
That year, the Democratic presidential nominee was Michael Dukakis, his
running mate was Lloyd Bentsen, and the Republicans that year alleged that
Lloyd Bentsen had done something terrible, he had pulled strings in 1968 to
get his own son, Lloyd Bentsen III, into the Texas Air National Guard, so
that Lloyd Bentsen`s son could avoid serving. That was the counter punch
from the Bush/Quayle campaign after the questions were raised about Dan
Quayle avoiding service in Vietnam.
That counter punch ended up going horribly wrong when it turned out
one of the people who Lloyd Bentsen`s son served alongside in the Texas Air
National Guard while busy not going to Vietnam, one of the other people in
that unit was Vice President Bush`s son George W. Same unit. He also
somehow miraculously found himself with a coveted spot in the Air National
Guard unit in Texas along with the sons of other Texas prominent families,
rather than in a jungle in Southeast Asia.
In that campaign, despite all that back and forth and lots more
besides, ultimately Poppy Bush and Dan Quayle won that election. They lost
the next one to Bill Clinton who his own controversies around his own
decisions around the Vietnam service or lack thereof. Bill Clinton went on
to serve as two terms for president.
By the time the Republican Party was ready to take the White House
back again, the Republican candidate was the next time around the
aforementioned George W. Bush, Poppy Bush`s son.
And the story of his service in the Texas Air National Guard, how he
got that spot in the Texas Air National Guard, what was the character of
his service once he was in the Texas Air National Guard. That issue
simmered as sort of an intriguing back-burner biographical/political story
through out his first effort to become elected president and throughout his
first term in office. And after 9/11, the start of the Iraq war, Democrats
picked John Kerry to run against George W. Bush in 2004.
And when Republicans and conservative groups in 2004 decided that they
would attack John Kerry that year on the basis of his war record, claiming
that John Kerry didn`t deserve his medals, he had somehow faked his
apparent heroism in Vietnam, once that happened, it was bound to be next
that George W. Bush`s contrasting experience from a that time period when
he was not serving in Vietnam and instead was serving under somewhat
mysterious circumstances in what was called the champagne unit of the Texas
Air National Guard, after the whole swift boating thing, it was bound to
happen this aspect of George W. Bush`s life was going to become an object
of political focus and ultimately a lot of really, really aggressive
reporting in that election of 2004.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BRIAN WILLIAMS, NBC NEWS: Now, P Bush`s own record of service in the
National Guard is tonight once again under a microscope. Some have
requested whether a young George Bush failed to report for a time during
the early 1970s.
REPORTER: The key question, whether then-Lieutenant Bush showed up
for required duty between May of 1972 and May of 1973. That`s when
political opponents like the Democratic Party chairman Terry McAuliffe
accuse the president of being, quote, “AWOL”. The White House has never
been able to produce a fellow guardsman to confirm that Mr. Bush performed
And there`s a contradiction. While the record show Mr. Bush performed
duties in Alabama and Texas during the key period, his superiors don`t
recall him showing up.
JOHN KERRY (D), THEN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: He owes America an
explanation of whether or not he showed up for duty in the National Guard.
They should prove it.
TOM BROKAW, NBC NEWS: Late this afternoon, word that some of
President Bush`s missing military service records now have been found.
REPORTER: The newly found record showed that Bush received no pay
from the National Guard for the months of July, August and September 1972.
REPORTER: Today, a “Boston Globe” investigation found more gaps in
George Bush`s service. In Boston in 1973, when the young George Bush
promised to meet his guard commitment while attending Harvard Business
School. “The Globe” found no proof he did. That say critics proves Bush,
as the son of a prominent politician, got special treatment.
In 1988, during the debate over Dan Quayle`s guard duty, Bush was
asked if someone made calls for him.
GEORGE W. BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT: If you want to go into the National
Guard, sometimes people made call. They probably should have called up the
National Guard up on those days, maybe we would have done better in
REPORTER: On “Meet the Press” last winter, the president defended his
BUSH: I put in my time, proudly so.
REPORTER: Today, the White House responded to Democratic criticism.
DAN BARTLETT: He met his obligation. So, we don`t great with “The
Boston Globe`s” assessment of the story.
REPORTER: Under pressure from “The Associated Press”, also
investigating the president`s guard service in Alabama, the White House
last night released 17 pages of newly found documents to prove he did show
up for duty there at least eight times.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Newly found documents.
This was a major story in the 2004 campaign. That was a bunch of
different news stories. On for months and months and months in the 2004
campaign, lots of different news organization coming at it from lots of
different angles were all working this particular story, all trying to
tease apart of different threads of the sort of mysterious time in George
Bush`s life, as groups were trying to dismantle John Kerry. They were
going after John Kerry as if there was also some dishonorable or something
to be embarrassed about.
On the other side of the aisle there were intriguing and unanswered
question. Did he get into the guard unit? Did he eventually get saved
because he dad was a congressman and his grandpa was a senator? Once he
got into the coveted National Guard unit, did he get a coveted job as a
pilot as some sort of a political favor to his family as well? That was a
hard job to get. He didn`t get good scores on the aptitude test you had to
get in order to become a pilot. How did he get the pilot gig?
Has he served his time in the National Guard, and got a transfer at
one point to the Alabama guard so he would work on a political campaign in
Alabama that his family was interested in? Did he meet his obligations
when he was in Alabama? Did he meet his obligations when in Texas?
All the other candidates with considerable military service records
have just released all their records, and the press at least has had those
records to go by. With George W. Bush there were really lots of gaps in
his record, lots of things that were missing, lots of stories that just
didn`t have clear answers to them. There was a lot for the press to chew
on. In the campaign the press really did chew on this for months. The
papers did. The TV news organizations did. This was a major journalistic
ever. The earliest ones from that clip just from our archives, the
earliest were February of 2004.
The last one I showed was from September of 2004. This kind of
reporting was going on all year long. In fact the last story I showed you
was specifically from September 8th, 2004. That last clip with Andrea
Mitchell reporting on the new reporting from “The Boston globe” and newly
found documents, September 8th, 2004, NBC Nightly News, September 8th.
“Nightly News” airs at 6:30 p.m. That night, September 8th, 2004, 90
minutes after that nightly newscast, another network aired their own
original story on that subject that night. And it was just one in a series
of stories, right? They added their own original story to the mounting
people of aggressive reporting on this issue that so many news agencies
were so interested in at the time.
After that “Nightly News” broadcast we just showed many from 6:30, at
8:00 that night, September 8th, 2004, CBS aired a story on “60 Minutes 2”
basically the version of “60 Minutes” that aired on Wednesday night instead
of Sunday night. They ran their own story on George W. Bush`s military
service during Vietnam, and after months if not years of interest in this
as an issue, in the midst of this mounting and widening tide of
journalistic interest in this story, in this part of George W. Bush`s past,
I mean, even that night the White House still producing what had previously
been thought to be long lost documents, from the `70s, from George W.
Bush`s military reports documents they hadn`t found before, they were still
fending them that night.
In the midst of this crafting wave of intense political and
journalistic interest in this very sensitive subject, when CBS ran its
story that night on September 8th, 2004, that ended it. That ended all of
it. It`s like the story had been this spewing volcano of scandal and
political consequence, unanswered questions, and intrigue, murky
implications, and it had been simmering for years, it had been boiling for
months, this volcano had been spewing throughout the 2004 campaign, and
then that “60 Minutes” piece aired that Wednesday night, and it was like
somebody stuck a cork in the volcano. It`s all over, it came to a
screeching halt. It`s done.
Instantly without one report, that one night, that story changed from
George W. Bush`s Vietnam era military service and how he got into the Air
National Guard and whether he showed up and what happened to all his
missing records, that was all swept out. In its place, the whole story
became fonts and typewriters and CBS.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BROKAW: Now to the political storm over a CBS News report Wednesday
night that contained documents that raised new questions about President
Bush`s service in the Texas Air National Guard. The documents themselves
are the story tonight. The questions is, are they fakes or real?
REPORTER: Are the new documents real? One computer Web site says the
type style is too modern to have used more than 30 years ago.
REPORTER: The address of the fighter squadron is perfectly centered,
difficult for a typist. Two other red flags, the use of curly apostrophes
and a reduced size “th” both markings rarely available on early `70s
REPORTER: So, were the documents forgeries? Today, one of the
experts CBS News initially asked to examine the memos, Linda James, said
that she expressed serious misgivings about the validity of the documents,
but said she was ignored by CBS News producer who went on to other experts.
REPORTER: Tonight, White House officials who maintain the president
fulfilled duties cannot say where the documents are fake, but they argue
the suspicions alone have undermined their importance.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: The suspicions alone have undermined the importance.
Whatever those documents are about doesn`t matter anymore if we cast doubt
on the documents.
The scandal following that “60 Minutes” segment on September 8th,
2004, the scandal about fonts and the specific documents, that scandal
about that broadcast, about that specific reporting on that specific part
of that broader story, that ended the whole broader story. That CBS
scandal just supplanted months and months and months of reporting by lots
of different organization about George W. Bush`s National Guard service
record. Now, all of a sudden, the whole story wasn`t about President Bush,
it was about CBS.
It was that backlash that ultimately ended the long and storied career
of one of the giants of American journalism, who will be with us here in a
moment to talk about this.
But the question that CBS was addressing in that report, the questions
about George W. Bush`s time in the National Guard, those questions really
did just disappear in the uproar over CBS and its fonts and the documents
that they used in their report. The overall story fell away into
nothingness for a long time, not just past the presidential election that
year, but for the rest of George W. Bush`s time in office.
Now, there are three things happening related to that scandal which
absolutely engulfed the news media in late 2004 right before the
presidential election that year. Now three things happening. Number one,
George W. Bush is back as the rehabilitated hero of the Republican Party
who`s going to save his brother Jeb`s presidential campaign. Number two is
that this freaking movie just came out about it starring Robert Redford and
Cate Blanchett, telling the story again, for a lot of people the first time
they have heard it.
And number three, the third thing that was going on here, is that what
the scandal was about, those documents that allegedly show George W. Bush
going AWOL during his time at the National Guard, that issue of the
realness or fakeness of those documents, that issue was never actually
A bunch of people lost their jobs over it, including ultimately Dan
Rather at CBS, but nobody was ever able to say with authority whether or
not the documents used by CBS in that report were actually fake. That
continues to be unresolved to this day. So, that lingering mystery about
the story and now the resurfacing of that story all these years later, that
is coming at a pivotal time in U.S. politics right now, and it`s freaking a
lot of people out.
We have just the right person to talk about it all. Dan Rather joins
MADDOW: We`ve got a big show tonight with two very big guests.
First, we`ve got legendary news anchor Dan Rather, who is here live, next.
He`s going to sit right there with me.
And then, we`ve got Democratic presidential candidate Martin O`Malley
here. Lots coming up tonight.
And we`ll be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BROKAW: A mistake. CBS News now admits it was wrong about documents
on a report on the president`s National Guard Service. The man who
provided them admits he misled CBS.
Today, CBS News anchor Dan Rather and the news division acknowledge
they cannot prove the authenticity of documents they used in a story about
George W. Bush`s National Guard service.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: That was 11 years ago, during the 2004 presidential campaign.
All of that is now back in a whole new way, with help from some very
attractive actors like Robert Redford and Cate Blanchett. Watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What are the chances you have something alcoholic
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Better than average.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How long have we known each other?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, Jesus, is it that bad?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They`re going to start an investigation and CBS
wants to appoint an independent panel to take a look at how the story is
put together. And I`m going to announce it tomorrow. I`m going to
apologize for the story on air.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Andrew asked you to apologize?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He didn`t ask.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Dan, that`s surrender –
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ever since Burkett changed his story, Andrew feels
CBS can`t afford the risk to his reputation.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, God, he knew even before we went down there,
just wanted to put them on tape.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mary, you`ve got to promise me something, stop
worrying about me.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That`s not going to happen.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You`ve got to protect yourself now. We all do.
Thank you for the drink.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: That was a lawyer`s name on a business card that he threw
down on the table there. That was Cate Blanchett as producer Mary Mapes.
That was Robert Redford as Dan Rather. It`s the new movie called “Truth”.
Joining us now is the real Dan Rather, who`s imminently better looking
than Robert Redford. He`s now the president of News and Guts Media.
Dan Rather, thank you so much for being here. It`s nice to have you
DAN RATHER, NEWS AND GUTS MEDIA: Well, thank you for having me,
MADDOW: I`m sorry to pander to you there with the Robert Redford
crack. But I don`t know what you say to someone who had Robert Redford
portray them in a film.
You did not – you didn`t make this film. This isn`t your movie.
MADDOW: But I have to ask if it tells the story in the way that you
remember it, broad strokes. Do you agree with the basic case of the movie?
RATHER: I do. The movie is accurate, based on a book that Mary Mapes
did. I was pleasantly surprised that Hollywood didn`t take some of the
liberties that it sometimes take. It`s accurate. What happened is I
remember this first person witness.
But keep in mind, Rachel, this has been 11 years ago. For someone who
may be sitting in a living room tonight and asking, well, this happened 11
years ago, why should we – I think it resonates today, because when people
say what`s happened to the news, what this film is about, more than it`s
about Mary Mapes, me or even former President Bush, it`s about what`s
happened to the news, why it happened, how it happened, and why everybody
should care about it.
MADDOW: I thought that movie could have just easily been called
“Courage” not only because of you using that as an on-air sign off in that
functioning as motif in the film, but because of the some criticism you
raised since this all happened. You had a legal battle with CBS over this
and other matters –
RATHER: I did.
MADDOW: – in which you basically said that CBS broke protocol for a
news organization in not defending your reporting, and not having the
instinct to stick up for you. Is that still how you feel?
RATHER: Yes, not only how I feel. It`s what the facts dictate.
Look, make no mistake, you know, I had 44 years at CBS News, and it didn`t
end all that well, but I had 44 great years, 24 years in the anchor chair.
It`s so far behind me now. I`m doing my own work, working full time,
that until this movie got made, frankly I didn`t think about it very often.
But the great tradition of CBS News, what made it a great news institution
and a national treasure, which I think in some ways it still is, but it had
a long history, the whole history was the corporate entity separated itself
from the news division, said there was a firewall between the corporate
entity. For the first time in history, they didn`t back their reporters on
a story that was true.
The reason this movie is called “Truth”, there`s no question, it`s a
fact that the basics of the story was correct. It was true.
MADDOW: The stories of the – the allegations in the story about the
RATHER: Well, what are facts – one, through political influence, a
younger George W. Bush at a younger time in his life, which he himself said
was a troubled time, political influence, basically his father`s influence
got him into the National Guard. That`s a fact.
Fact two – once he got into the Air National Guard and performed at
least fairly well, and by some accounts fairly well, he disappeared for a
year. Nobody disappears in the U.S. military without some consequence, but
he did. And then interesting enough, the records of that period were
That`s – those two things are true. That`s what the story was about.
Now, those who didn`t like the story – we were in the middle of a
political campaign, presidential campaign, they couldn`t attack the facts
of the story, the truth of the story.
So, they shifted, very successfully, giving credit in that`s the word,
they shifted the argument, not whether the story was true, but whether in
the process of putting the story together, whether we had made any mistakes
in the center of the documents. Now, we made mistakes in the process, but
the mistakes we made in the process don`t deter the fact – don`t erase the
fact that the story itself was true.
MADDOW: But the scandal around the reporting problems in the story
had the political effect of exhausting the entire issue.
RATHER: Right. And, for example, those who didn`t like the story for
political or ideological, or some other reason, they attacked the documents
as forgeries. In fact, “The Wall Street Journal” recently in discussing
the film said that the documents were exposed to be forgeries.
That is untrue. Here we are 11 years later, and nobody is – has
proven yet that the documents were forgeries. It`s a fair argument to
argue, well, Dan, you and CBS didn`t prove the documents were what they
were. I think we did, but that`s open to argument.
But again back to the point, see, having this kind of discussion, this
is exactly what they wanted. They wanted to discuss documents. They
wanted to discuss – there`s no question, saying, the two basic facts were
true, and a lot of people who were in that unit, so-called, quote,
“champagne unit” of the Air National Guard, which was put together for the
specific purpose of making sure that people who joined that unit wouldn`t
have to go to Vietnam.
And so, the story is true. But I recognize, a lot of people this far
back would say, well, I don`t know, it was a scandal, something wrong with
it. The basic truth of the story there was nothing wrong with. “The
Boston Globe” had put it in print as early as 2000, and they had – but
nobody in television, nobody in television had ever touched the story until
about the time we got to it. Now, as you pointed out, NBC did 90 minutes
before we were on the air, did a version of the story.
MADDOW: Right, there was a lot of different threats of that story
RATHER: I think it`s important to also node up to and including this
time, former President Bush has never denied the basic facts of the story,
nor has anybody in his family or anybody close circle around him. They
say, well, the documents were forged, that`s game, set and match, but it
isn`t for any thinking person. But up to and including now, they have
never denied the story, because the story was true, it was truth.
MADDOW: That characterization by you in your own term and in this new
film is causing a lot of political agita, that this may be 11 years ago,
but it is today as well.
Dan Rather, former “CBS Evening News” anchor, president now of News
and Guts Media, thank you for talking this through with me. I appreciate -
- I know it take trust to talk about this issue because it`s been so froth
for you. Thank you for being here.
RATHER: Well, thank you very much for having me.
MADDOW: Thanks, Dan.
We should note that CBS News has maintained all the along that they
stand by the results of their independent review into that report back in
2004, which found flaws in the reporting process. I should tell that you
in terms of their response to this movie tonight. But there`s a reason
there`s so much agita being caused by this film, why CBS is refusing to
advertise it on their air. There`s a lot to this.
We`ll be right back.
MADDOW: Governor Martin O`Malley is a Democrat running for president
of the United States. But tonight, he decided to crash the Republican
debate in Boulder, Colorado. Quite uninvited, and I`m sure quite
unwelcome, but also quite unrepentant about it. And Governor O`Malley is
going to join us live from there, next.
MADDOW: So he said he would marry Carly Fiorina. A Republican
candidate for president of the United States played a game, some of you
might have heard of, a game that I can`t name on TV, even on cable.
The gist of the game is you have to pick among three people who you
would date, who you would marry and who you would make disappear forever.
In this case, the candidate was playing among Carly Fiorina, Sarah Palin
and Hillary Clinton.
His choice was that he would date Sarah Palin, he would make disappear
Secretary Clinton, and he would marry Republican presidential candidate
Carly Fiorina, quote, “because she`s rich”.
That was a charming window into the mind of senior senator from the
great state of South Carolina. That was Senator Lindsey Graham.
Last night, he was out and about late night, late night, kind of
partying, and playing that game about women in politics. He at one point
climbed behind the bar in a drinking establishment in Boulder, Colorado.
He did shots with reporters.
He poured rounds of whiskey. He very poorly poured glasses of beer
that were just whole glasses full of foam. At one point, he raised a toast
to Donald Trump and ask everybody in the bar to toast Donald Trump with
him. That was Lindsey Graham`s debate prep last night. And tonight, he
took his seat at the kids` table at the third Republican presidential
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Without the
sacrifice of the veteran, all of our hopes and dreams are at risk. Just a
few days ago, Hillary Clinton said the problems with the V.A. are being
exaggerated by Republicans. They are not. They are real.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: What Senator Graham was talking about right there tonight is
something that happened on this show last week. I had Secretary Hillary
Clinton here for the interview, I asked her about this newly fashionable
idea in the Republican circles that the V.A. should abolished, that it
should be privatized.
Here was her response.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Do you – do you have any new ideas for trying to fix it? I
mean – there – you can`t find a person in politics who doesn`t say we
shouldn`t do right by our veterans. But for some reason, this can`t get
fixed fast enough.
HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Yes, and I don`t
understand that. You know, I don`t understand why we have such a problem,
because there have been a number of surveys of veterans. And overall,
veterans who do get treated are satisfied with their treatment. Now –
MADDOW: Much more so than people in the regular –
CLINTON: That`s exactly right.
MADDOW: Yes. Right.
CLINTON: Now, nobody would believe that from the coverage that you
see, and the constant berating of the V.A. that comes from the Republicans,
in part in pursuit of this ideological agenda that they have.
MADDOW: But in part because there has been real scandal.
CLINTON: There has been. And – but it`s not been as widespread as
it has been made out to be.
Now, I do think that some of the reforms that were adopted last year
should be given a chance to work. If there is a waiting period that is
just unacceptable, you should be able to, in a sense, get the opportunity
to go out, have a private physician take care of you, but at the cost of
But I think it goes deeper than that, because if you look at not only
V.A. health care, but the backlog on disability determinations, there`s
something not working within the bureaucracy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Secretary Clinton went on to talk in that interview about
some of her ideas for fixing the V.A. She also talked about her belief
that the V.A. is unfunded.
But since she gave that answer here on Friday night, presidential
candidate Jeb Bush, and now tonight, Senator Lindsey Graham, also Senator
John McCain, they`ve all criticized Secretary Clinton as underplaying the
problems in the V.A. Since that interview and since that criticism, the
Clinton campaign has come out to clarify Secretary Clinton`s comments
saying that wait time and mismanagement in the V.A. are, quote, “systemic”.
They also said that her comments on this show were, quote,
But that has not stopped the conservative criticism. Today, Senator
John McCain with a conference call with reporters in which he told them
that Senator Sanders has a better record on veterans issues than Secretary
Clinton does. That, of course, generated a flurry of headlines like these
in the conservative media, “Bernie Sanders, not Hillary Clinton has report
of advocacy for vets.” “Bernie is better than Hillary on veterans.”
“Bernie`s up on veterans care, Hillary`s done nothing.”
Here`s the thing, though. Senator Bernie Sanders has essentially said
basically the same thing as Secretary Clinton has said about the V.A., and
he has also said it right here on this show.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: I remember talking to you about the scandal in the V.A. of
wait times and V.A. facilities lying about wait times while that scandal
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I), VERMONT: Yes.
MADDOW: You were supportive of General Eric Shinseki staying as head
of the V.A.
MADDOW: Long time after some veterans groups and some other people
are really calling for his head. Now, that he is gone, do you think it was
right that he stepped down? Has Robert McDonald then doing any better at
trying to fix the V.A.?
SANDERS: The answer is – I think McDonald is trying his very best to
deal with an enormous bureaucracy that is out there. One of the other
things, Rachel, which I learned as chairman is that it is very easy – the
V.A. has 152 medical centers, and some 800 community-based outreach
clinics. Every day there`s a problem, but every day there`s a problem in
every medical facilities in America. If all you talk about are the
negative things, then people get a certain view of the V.A.
I, when I was chairman, I had all of the major veterans organization
in front of me, American Legion, all of them, I said, tell me, when
veterans get into the V.A., do you think of quality of care is good? And
they said it is good to excellent. That is how most veterans feel.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: OK, there you have it. Senator Bernie Sanders basically
saying the same thing as the comments from Hillary Clinton that
conservatives have tried to turn into a scandal for her, and tried to
during into a wedge in the Democratic presidential field particularly
between those two candidates. We have heard now on this show from Hillary
Clinton and from Bernie Sanders on this very touchy subject. They both
said very similar about things about it. We have not, however, heard on
this issue from the Democratic candidate who is my next guest here.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FORMER GOV. MARTIN O`MALLEY, DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:
Secretary Clinton and Senator Sanders, and their sniping and bickering back
and forth about who`s shouting and who`s not, who is sexist and who is not
are distracting from the life-and-death importance of this issue. There`s
not another nation on the planet that allows as many of its citizens to die
deaths because of guns, as we do. And we need to – the sort of bickering
they`re engaged in is part of the reason why you have so much dysfunction
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: The entire Republican presidential field is in Boulder,
Colorado, tonight for the third Republican debate. But Democratic
candidate Martin O`Malley crashed it tonight. He chose to be there today
and tonight to talk about the issues of guns specifically and to go after
his Democratic opponents on the issues of guns.
Joining us now for the interview is Democratic presidential candidate,
former governor of Maryland, Martin O`Malley.
Governor, it`s great to have you here. Thank you so much.
O`MALLEY: Thank you, Rachel. I`m sorry I`m not in studio.
MADDOW: Yes, we`ll get you here –
O`MALLEY: But I`m out here –
MADDOW: Go ahead, sir.
O`MALLEY: I`m out here in Colorado. You know, they have beautiful
outdoors, and I`ve been searching for the elusive species called a
Republican candidate with the spine to take on the NRA. So, we`ll see if
we can find one here tonight. It might emerge, like Bigfoot.
MADDOW: Why make the case for gun reform at the site of the
Republican debate, specifically? I mean, the place where there isn`t a
consensus on gun reform is in the Democratic Party. The Republican Party
is 100 percent unified on this, totally all against reform all down the
O`MALLEY: Because before Colorado became the site for tonight`s
Republican debate, Colorado was the site of Columbine, and Colorado was the
site of Aurora. And there were a lot of moms and dads who lost sons and
daughters in those massacres, and they want this to be an issue that we
address as a people.
And our country works best when both parties are actually addressing
the pressing issues facing our country. So, so far, there had not been a
direct question asked in the Republican debates, and I emphasize the plural
of debates, about gun safety. So, I wanted to be out here with the moms
against gun violence to try to elevate this issue and to – that`s how you
bring people together and forge a consensus. We`re not going to solve our
problems if we can`t talk about them and address them.
MADDOW: You`ve been really specific about what you think should be
basically the gold standard for gun safety reform. You`ve been very
specific about what policies you think would make a real difference.
You`ve also been through the battles over this governmentally in Maryland
in terms of passing gun reform in your state.
What did you learn in passing such aggressive gun reform in your state
in terms of how to beat the NRA when them and all of their forces are
arrayed against you?
O`MALLEY: What I learned was this – that the vast majority of us
have come to understand that we`ve got a problem as a nation, that there
are far too many Americans that are dying because of guns and gun violence.
So, we kept inviting people to come back to the table of democracy, if you
will, and offer your solutions. I mean, after the slaughter of the
innocent in Newtown, Connecticut, I made a top priority of my
administration to pass comprehensive gun safety legislation, and it
included elements like universal background checks, fingerprinting licenses
in order to purchase new guns and also banning combat assault weapons.
Yes, we also addressed mental health issues and better sharing of
information. And we also addressed school perimeter safety. But we were
constantly bringing back people to that belief we share and the dignity and
the importance of every human life. And we found that by focusing on the
importance of saving lives, that that`s what allowed us to pierce through.
We also acknowledged that there are people with hunting traditions.
Not a single hunter was ever denied a hunting permit or told that they
couldn`t register or renew their permit. In fact, I encourage hunters to
keep hunting traditions alive in our state.
So, that`s what we did. I mean, there`s no way to kind of pole vault
over the fear and over the division and over the lives and the mistruths of
the NRA, and the truth, I found, can actually defend herself. But we have
to have the guts and the courage to state it, especially on this issue.
And when we did, we were able to bring forward a lot of people in my
own party who initially started off as not wanting to pass this
legislation. But we had to. And that`s what we`ve got to do as a nation.
Look, the vast majority of us as a people actually believe we need to
take action and not just have bickering and debates. I mean, Secretary
Clinton and Bernie Sanders, instead of replaying the old cultural wars of
the past, shouting – who`s shouting, who`s sexist, who`s not, I think we
need to focus on the elements that can actually save lives and keep guns
out of the hands of psychopaths and mass murderers. That`s what we need to
MADDOW: Let me ask you, sir, about another question where
conservatives have lobbied a lot of criticism at Secretary Clinton and some
at Senator Sanders. Veteran groups like IAVA have criticized them both for
playing down problems at the V.A.
O`MALLEY: Ah, yes.
MADDOW: On the other hand, conservative, including a big bunch of
Republican candidates this year have also said problems at the V.A. mean
that we should abolish the V.A.
Do you think the V.A. needs defending? Or is it defending it just
excusing and apologizing for the problems there?
O`MALLEY: No, the V.A. needs improving. And you could say that about
any number of departments in our federal government. Unlike Senator
Sanders, and unlike Secretary Clinton, I`ve actually run big governments.
I`ve actually been responsible for oftentimes very, very dysfunctional big
departments. So, I do know something about process backlog. I knew – I
had known something about using modern technology so that people don`t slip
through the cracks and fall through the cracks.
This is what I see happening in the V.A. and we, by the way, in my
state made full employment a strategic goal of my administration for the
last year and a half. Not because we were doing well, but because we were
losing too many of our veterans when they came home and they were falling
through the cracks.
What I see has happened in our Veterans Administration is this –
there is a sort of double squeeze that`s gong on right now with aging
veterans who are using the V.A. more and a whole lot of veterans coming
home from Iraq and Afghanistan, from a long tour of duty, with really
But the V.A. has not updated the sort of feedback loops, the linkages
by way of technology so you don`t have a separate database over in the
Department of Defense and a brand-new database in the V.A., and then
without the openness and transparency to actually tell the V.A.
administrators and managers that hey, we have a growing backlog, especially
for veterans who need help because they have a cancer diagnosis. We don`t
have enough doctors that can actually fill this need, therefore we need to
do some emergency vouchers or what-have-you so that people can get the
medical help they need.
And these are all things that I`ve learned to do and other department
and agencies, parole and probations in our own state and corrections with a
unified case management system, we had the worst backlog actually for
processing building permits in the city of Baltimore. We went from the
worst to the best. And V.A. (ph) wait times.
Look, these are things you learn to do as an executive. And what we
need in our federal government is a new way of governing, a new way of
management that embraces openness and transparency, doesn`t try to hide
waiting lists, and does things in ways so that citizens can actually get
customer service numbers or patient service numbers and so that we embrace
this new technology to hold everybody accountable for serving individuals
That`s something I`ve learned how to do. That`s something Secretary
Clinton and Senator Sanders, God bless them, have never had any experience
MADDOW: Democratic presidential candidate, former governor of
Maryland, Martin O`Malley – thank you so much for being here, sir.
O`MALLEY: Thank you, Rachel.
MADDOW: And I will see you next week in South Carolina.
O`MALLEY: Hey, looking forward to it. Thanks a lot.
MADDOW: Me too. We`ll be right back. Thank you, sir.
MADDOW: A scandal of me running off to South Carolina with Martin
O`Malley next week is true. Next week, all three Democratic presidential
candidates are going to be joining me in South Carolina at the Democratic
Candidates Forum at Winthrop University in Rock Hill, South Carolina,
Friday, November 6th, next Friday here on MSNBC at 8:00 Eastern.
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.>