The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 10/18/2016
Show: THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW
Date: October 18, 2016
Guest: Harry Enten, Ben Jacobs
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC ANCHOR: Happy Las Vegas, my friend. Don`t abuse the
CHRIS HAYES, “ALL IN” HOST: Oh, I won`t.
MADDOW: Thanks, Chris.
And thanks to you at home for joining us this hour.
May 21st, 2011, was a Saturday. And that turned out to be awkward for a
couple of reasons.
First, there were 5,000 of these billboards that went up all over the
country in the spring of 2011 telling us all that we needed to save the
date for May 21st, 2011. At least make a note of May 21st, 2011.
But this is exactly what the billboard looked like. You see there`s a sort
of handwritingy headline at the top, and then the multiple fonts thing
displayed on that. But then on the right, you see, they used clip art.
They used clip art to show somebody actually making a note, actually saving
that date in their date book, but that clip art shows that person penciling
in that date on a Monday.
So, that was very awkward from the start because that day they were asking
us to save, that was a Saturday. Why is that lady writing it down on
Considerably more awkward was the fact that even though there were 5,000
plus of these billboards all across the country and at least 20 other big
RVs and buses and other vehicles that were vinyl wrapped with this same
message, “Save the date, May 21st, the return of Christ.” Despite all of
that nationwide advertising alerting us all that the end of the world was
coming, despite that multimillion dollar very visible ad campaign in 2011,
sure enough, Saturday, May 21st, 2011 rolled around and the world did not
end. It was not apparently that date on which we would experience the
return of Christ.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LESTER HOLT, NBC NEWS AN CHOR: Chances are you heard this was predicted to
be our last day on earth – a doomsday scenario from a California minister
who spent millions in contributions from his followers to advertise the end
of days all over the world.
NBC`s George Lewis reports now on what did and did not happen.
GEORGE LEWIS, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Times Square, New York, at precisely
6:00 p.m. tonight. Nothing out of the ordinary happened. The world did
That had been the prediction of Oakland, California pastor Harold Camping,
spreading the doomsday word through billboards, pamphlets and radio, and TV
HAROLD CAMPING, PASTOR: It will begin with a huge earthquake and probably
on the other side of the world where the day begins.
LEWIS: But on the other side of the world in the Philippines, Camping`s
followers waited and again nothing happened.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: It was Pastor Harold Camping. And his Christian broadcasting
outfit called Family Radio out of Alameda, California, quite near Oakland.
And he emphatically and loudly promised and broadcast that at 6:00 p.m. on
May 21st, 2011, Christ would return to earth, all the good people would be
raptured up to heaven. For those of us who weren`t good enough, all of
those who were left behind, the earth would immediately become a fatal
So, Harold Camping and his ministry, they were very successful in
persuading people not just around the country but around the world to go
along with his prophecy. Some of his followers spent their life savings
paying for these billboards and these RVs and advertisements to spread the
word about the end of the world. And the end of the world did not come.
And so the next day, on Sunday, May 22nd, 2011, reporters staked out the
home of this apocalyptic preacher from Family Radio. They went to his
house down by the airport in Oakland, California, and for most of the day,
the preacher would not come out. Eventually had did open his front doors
and he told the reporter standing on his doorstep, that he was, quote,
“flabbergasted,” that the world had not come to an end.
He told the “San Francisco Chronicle”, quote, “It has been a really tough
weekend.” Yes, but not as tough a weekend as you said it would be.
So, Saturday was supposed to be the end of the world. Sunday, he was
flabbergasted that it wasn`t the end of the world. By Monday, though, he
had recovered. He got on the radio once again on Monday to do his regular
radio show. Bet they were surprised to have to do that one.
And he said on Sunday, after the world was supposed to have ended that
weekend, he said on – sorry, he said on Monday that he had basically
become unflabbergasted since Sunday. He just needed a day to think about
it and when he did think about it and he checked his notes, turns out he
did his math wrong. It`s kind of a prophetic typo.
What Pastor Harold Camping explained the Monday after the weekend the world
was to end, is that the world actually had on Saturday secretly invisibly
started to end exactly on the day he said it was going to, but it turns out
it was going to take a few more months for the whole thing to play out, it
would take a few more months until we got to actual physical doomsday on
earth, but he did have a new date for that, the new end of the world was
going to be October 21st, 2011.
“New York Times” ran a story about it at the time, “An Autumn Date for the
When October 21st rolled around and the world did not end then either,
Harold Camping and his Family Radio ministry, they didn`t talk about it at
all for a very long time. It was not until the following spring, the
following March when they discovered a little bit of humility on the
subject. They put out a statement that said, quote, “We humbly acknowledge
we were wrong about the timing.” Quote, “We have no new evidence pointing
to another date for the end of the world.” So, stop calling.
It`s one thing to come back from making a bad prediction about who is going
to win an election or who`s going to win a Grammy Award or something,
right? Coming back from predicting the end of the world twice, that`s like
the definition of humbling.
And that experience five years ago with Family Radio in Alameda, California
– I mean, there`s a reason that`s the last anybody ever heard of Family
Radio in Alameda, California. If they ever wanted to gin up another
swindle like this and get people to spend their life savings donating for
advertisements and billboards and RVs spreading the word, how would you
ever persuade anybody to do that again after it happened the first time and
the second time?
And I think that humiliation principle holds. You would think, at least,
the world over.
One of the hallmarks in al Qaeda`s evolution as a terrorist organization
was when they started publishing a fairly high quality English language
online magazine. The al Qaeda magazine included basically just lots of al
Qaeda propaganda. It was sometimes used for making official al Qaeda
statements or for publishing laudatory obituaries for al Qaeda fighters or
leaders who had been killed. It also sometimes had scary things in it like
Al Qaeda`s Internet magazine, English language magazine, was meant to
inspire al Qaeda wannabes all over the world. And it was fittingly,
therefore, titled “Inspire.” That`s al Qaeda.
When ISIS decided they wanted to do something similar, they wanted to do a
magazine with the same aim, they wanted to inspire ISIS wannabes all around
the world, they wanted a venue in which they could put out official
statements and they wanted to be able to spread their propaganda, they
wanted to memorialize their fighters and their leaders when they got
killed, they, ISIS, interestingly, they did an English language magazine
very much like what al Qaeda did, but they did not pick an English language
title for their magazine.
When ISIS created its magazine, they called it “Dabiq.” And Dabiq was
their ISIS equivalent of prophesying the end of the world.
In 2014, shortly after ISIS started taking territory in the part of Syria
that included a small village called Dabiq, ISIS seized – its
propagandists seized on an obscure Islamic prophecy that declared not a
specific date for the end of the world but a specific location where the
end of the world would start. This little unassuming town of 3,000 people
in Syria called Dabiq, about nine miles from the border with Turkey, that
was supposed to be the site of an apocalyptic end times battle between the
true believing Muslims of the world and a crusader army of infidels.
Now, this is not a mainstream part of Islamic theology. This is as
mainstream to the Islamic theology as radio preachers proclaiming specific
dates for the end of the world in Christian theology. Like, sure, you can
kind of get there, but that`s not where most people go with it.
ISIS, though, they made it a central to who they are. They made a central
part of their theology and their propaganda. And after they captured the
actual city of Dabiq in 2014, they started closing out their propaganda
videos with this image of an ISIS fighter carrying the group`s black banner
in front of a hillside overlooking Dabiq. They brought their captives,
particularly Western captives, from other territory that they controlled.
They brought them into Dabiq so they can be executed in Dabiq so they can
make their freaking execution porn videos where they bragged about killing
these people in Dabiq.
As I mentioned, they named their English language magazine Dabiq, they even
named their international press agency, Amaq. They called it Amaq. And
Amaq is the region in Syria that includes Dabiq.
Now, Raqqah, a city in Syria called Raqqah, that`s still reportedly the
headquarters for ISIS. In Iraq, the city of Mosul is their biggest
stronghold on that side of the Iraqi/Syrian border. But Dabiq is also
important. Dabiq is the spiritual bull`s-eye for ISIS` theology and ISIS`
propaganda and who they say they are and why they say they matter and, not
incidentally, how they say the world will end and how their followers
worldwide can get on the right side before the apocalypse that they`re
going to bring about in Dabiq with their final battle.
And they have been telling their followers for years now that when they
finally get to fight a battle in Dabiq as ISIS, that will be the definitive
battle of earth. That battle in Dabiq, if they fight it as ISIS in Dabiq,
that will start the global apocalypse.
Well, on Sunday this past weekend, did you save the date? Because on
Sunday, ISIS did actually have its battle in Dabiq and now, ISIS no longer
controls Dabiq. They lost it.
Turkish forces and a Syrian rebel group took Dabiq from ISIS control this
weekend. And you know what? The world did not end.
And so, since then, it`s been theologically awkward. It`s been
propagandistically awkward. ISIS reportedly published a “do not worry”
message to their followers in their Arabic language newsletter, telling
their followers that the great battle of Dabiq that`s going to start the
end of the world, they`re still expecting that, that`s still going to
happen, they`re still promising it will kick off the end of the world when
that battle happens but this just wasn`t it yet. Hmm, minor setback, but
we promise Dabiq will still be really important some day.
So, now, there`s this question of what this does to ISIS` whole propaganda
message, right? I mean, people are always disappointed when you don`t make
good on your promises, especially when you`re asking people to sacrifice a
lot based on your promises. But it`s one thing if you`re promising them,
you know, jobs or election win or the return you get in a Ponzi scheme.
It`s another thing if you literally promise them the world, the end of the
world and you go to the good place and everybody else burns. If that`s
what you`re promising and then you can`t deliver?
If this were not election season in the United States, biggest story in
this country right now would be what`s happening to ISIS. The biggest city
that ISIS controls, it`s one of the largest cities in Iraq, Mosul, is now
facing an assault between 80,000 and 100,000 Iraqi troops. The previous
battles to take back big Iraqi cities from ISIS in places like Fallujah and
Ramadi and Tikrit, those battles involved like 10,000 or 15,000 Iraqi
troops, this one is 80,000 to 100,000. This is the biggest operation in
Iraq since years before the U.S. forces left a war in Iraq.
It`s the last major stronghold that ISIS has in the whole nation of Iraq.
It`s the largest city they hold anywhere by far. Iraqi and U.S. leaders
have been telegraphing for months that this attack on Mosul was coming.
ISIS fighters and their families reportedly have been fleeing Mosul in
advance of this operation. They`ve been fleeing other places that ISIS was
holding and they`ve now lost, places like, for example, Dabiq in Syria.
They have been losing territory in both Iraq and in Syria ahead of this
massive operation against Mosul.
And there are lots of reports that ISIS has been basically been fleeing,
been sending its fighters and its fighters` families to their last
stronghold and their headquarters, the city of Raqqah inside Syria. There
are already reports that after Mosul is taken back in Iraq, the next major
ground operation against ISIS will likely be in the last major place ISIS
is, Raqqah because by that point they`ll have nowhere else to go. There`s
nowhere left that they control that they can retreat to.
There are about 5,000 American service members in Iraq, about 500 of them
are reportedly involved in this operation to take Mosul back from ISIS.
American involvement has been described as some imbedding by American
Special Forces but also artillery support and importantly, air strikes.
And American air strikes in this battle for Mosul, that means not just
drone strikes but U.S. piloted aircraft attacking ISIS sites from the air
in support of this Iraqi ground operation.
And no matter how about the Iraqi forces on the ground are or the ISIS
forces on the ground, no matter how good either force is on the ground, the
fact one side of this fighter there`s American air power in support, that`s
almost impossible to overstate in terms of the advantage it`s going to give
the Iraqi side as they go to take back this huge city from ISIS.
So, let`s imagine this really big, really important military effort against
ISIS goes well. Let`s say they get wiped out of their last stronghold in
Iraq. What remains of ISIS then is expected to be a retreat back to their
one last power base that they`ve got in Syria.
Let`s say this goes well and ISIS gets consolidated inside Syria in Raqqah,
what`s going to happen then? And this was the part you`re going to have to
really listen too hard for at tomorrow night`s debate because both of our
American presidential candidates, both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump,
they both love to talk about fighting ISIS. They love to talk about being
tougher on ISIS than we`ve ever been before.
But one of those two candidates lives inside an elaborate fantasy world
where his conceptions, where what he thinks about what`s going on in the
world about fighting ISIS is not just not true, it makes no sense.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Putin`s going wild with bombing
ISIS and that`s a good thing, not a bad thing. Who needs to take the
credit? Let him have some credit.
So, Russia is not a fan of ISIS. Russia is bombing the hell out of them.
If you look at Syria, Russia wants to get rid of ISIS. We want to get rid
of ISIS. Maybe let Russia do it. Let them get rid of ISIS. What the hell
do we care?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: What the hell do we care?
In tomorrow night`s debate, watch – watch, watch, watch for Donald Trump`s
answer when he inevitably starts talking about fighting ISIS. Just watch
for it, and then remember this: Today, “The Washington Post” reported that
Russia has completed its elaborate interconnected comprehensive anti-
aircraft system in Syria. It`s a system of anti-aircraft missiles, an air
defense system. It`s designed purely and only to shoot down airplanes.
ISIS does not have any airplanes in Syria where Russia just set up this
anti-aircraft missile defense system. ISIS does not have any airplanes.
But we do. We`re using American aircraft to help this big Iraqi ground
operation against ISIS right now right next door in Mosul. Donald Trump
believes that Russia is our great ally against ISIS in Syria, but what
Russia is doing in Syria is setting up missiles that only shoot down
planes, which ISIS does not have.
Donald Trump does not appear in the mainstream media all that much anymore.
You might have noticed. He doesn`t really do normal cable or network TV
shows or interviews anymore. He mostly on TV now he just does the FOX News
Channel and even just on the FOX News Channel, he pretty much does the late
night show that`s hosted by a guy who is explicitly a Donald Trump
supporter. Beyond that, Mr. Trump has blacklisted so many that he`s
reduced to doing really out there conservative talk radio.
He just did an interview with conservative radio host Michael Savage in
which he told the host that after he Donald Trump wins the election on
November 8th, he`s planning to meet with Vladimir Putin personally one on
one, even while Barack Obama is still president. That`s how much he likes
and trusts Vladimir Putin because Trump either believes or at least he`s
prepared to say that Russia is our great ally in fighting ISIS, while U.S.
pilots right now tonight actually are fighting ISIS. And Vladimir Putin`s
Russia has just finished erecting a massive anti-aircraft missile defense
system to shoot them down.
This will come up at the debate tomorrow unless the debate is completely
insane. Donald Trump has previously been bizarre and sometimes
impenetrable on both ISIS and Russia, but tomorrow night in the third and
final presidential debate, this has got to be his last chance to start
making sense on this issue, while American pilots are in the battle.
I mean, I`m not going to say it`s the end of the world if he doesn`t start
making sense on this issue, but it`s the end of the world if he doesn`t.
Save the date.
MADDOW: Usually, the single-most boring thing about covering any big
election is endorsements because he all pretty much go the way you would
expect them to, right? This year, it`s been fun and weird to cover
endorsements for Trump versus Clinton in the presidential race, because
until recently, Donald Trump was in the unenviable position, historically
unprecedented position of being a major party presidential candidate who
had zero newspaper endorsements for the general election.
We were first to report that he had none. We were first to report when he
got his first one on Friday. We then reported yesterday that he got his
second one this weekend and now, he`s gotten his third. And, boy, are you
going to like watching me try to pronounce the name of the third one.
That story is ahead. Stay with us.
MADDOW: In 2012, two days before the presidential election, an Irish
bookmaker called Paddy Power made just an incredibly bold, brash, cocky
move. They started paying out on their bets that Barack Obama was going to
beat Mitt Romney in that election and they started paying out on those bets
two days before the election was even held. And it got all sorts of
headlines and I`m sure all resentments from Republicans at the time. The
election hasn`t happened yet and you`re already paying out the bets.
Well, now, they have done it again. Except this time, they did not wait
until two days before the election. This time, they did it 21 days before
Quote, “Paddy Power believes it`s a done deal and that Hillary Clinton is a
nailed-on certainty to occupy the Oval Office.” They`re paying out a
million dollars that people bet on the U.S. election already, three weeks
When it comes to forecasting elections, bookmakers and political prediction
markets, they have grown steadily in stature and the amount of attention
they get over the last few years. A lot of people see their crowd source
wisdom as maybe more reliable than traditional polls. Well, for what it`s
worth, like the polls, the prediction markets right now believe that
Hillary Clinton has a very high chance of winning. The bookmakers maybe
even more so given that at least one of them is already paying out.
That said, this year has been a god awful year for the prediction markets.
They have two really bad failures this year. The first thing they were
wrong about this year was Donald Trump. Prediction markets absolutely
failed to anticipate Donald Trump marching to the Republican nomination
this year despite all the polls that consistently showed him ahead.
Prediction markets still in February had Marco Rubio with a 58 percent
chance of winning the nomination. That was even after the Iowa caucuses.
Prediction markets this year were also really wrong about Brexit, about the
U.K. vote to leave the European Union. A lot of polls showed a very tight
race that could go either way. But the prediction market said there was
next to no chance that Britain would vote to leave the E.U. Hours before
the results were announced, prediction markets pegged the probability of a
vote to leave the E.U. at just a 12 percent probability.
And then, in fact, Britain voted to leave the E.U.
Well, now, today in Colorado, Donald Trump is clinging to those failures,
saying that`s what we should expect to happen next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Now, even though we`re doing pretty good in the polls, I don`t
believe the polls anymore. I don`t believe them. I don`t believe them.
And if there`s ten and if there`s one or two bad ones, that`s the only one
Believe me, folks, we`re doing great. If we keep our spirit and if we go
out and win, this is another Brexit, believe me. They are so worried.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Are they so worried? Are you worried? Either direction?
Who do you believe – what do you believe your gut 21 days out from this
election? What counts as good data for you?
Do you believe the latest polls which show Hillary Clinton with a healthy
lead nationally and in most of the swing states? Do you believe the
election forecast models which boil the race down to a single odds of
winning number? Do you believe the experts who look at that same data and
then tell you what they think?
Today, polling expert Stu Rothenberg of “The Washington Post” proclaimed
the race definitively over. He said, quote, “It would be a mistake to call
Trump`s current path to an Electoral College victory narrow. It is
Maybe you go with that. Maybe you go with the kids – the actually kids
who can`t vote. Kid voters have taken part in the quadrennial scholastic
poll, the scholastic study saying who they think is going to win the
election. They`ve correctly predicted the last 13 elections since 1940.
The kids in the scholastic poll have predicted the presidential race
wrongly only twice. They thought it was Dewey over Truman in 1948 and in
1960, they thought Nixon would beat JFK.
But other than that, they`ve nailed it every time. This year, over 153,000
kids took part in the scholastic poll. They said overwhelmingly that
Clinton will win and by the way, she will in a landslide.
Maybe do you trust the kids? They have a pretty good track record.
Maybe you trust Texas. We`ve now got two news organizations in the last
couple of days tilting Texas from solid Republican to lean Republican.
Texas is pink? How do you guys feel about that in Texas?
First, it was NBC News, now, today, it`s FOX News saying that Texas – yes,
Texas is now lean Republican. This comes after a handful of polls show a
narrow, low single digits race between Trump and Clinton in the Lone Star
I don`t know if Texas is ever going to get to toss-up status with any news
organization. But if it does, would that settle it for you in terms of
what you expect? What do you believe? What is worth trusting at this
Joining us is Harry Enten. He`s a senior political writer at
Mr. Enten, thank you for being here.
HARRY ENTEN, FIVETHIRTYEIGHT.COM SENIOR POLITICAL WRITER: My pleasure.
MADDOW: So, you do this for a living?
ENTEN: I try to.
MADDOW: Let me ask you first about the Brexit thing that Donald Trump said
today. He said he doesn`t believe the polls and the polls and the
prediction markets in particular were wrong when it came to Brexit.
Is there anyway – anything that we should be looking for in terms of
trying to assess whether a Brexit misfire is possible in this election?
ENTEN: Well, I should point out that Mr. Trump, in many of the instances,
is wrong in this case. When it comes to the polling, Brexit, in fact, if
you look at the final polls in June, I believe it was 17 had Brexit
passing, 14 had them remain winning, then 3 were caught. That`s very
different than what we had here.
MADDOW: And it was in fact a close result.
ENTEN: And it was a close result. Here, we have the polls agreeing with
the prediction markets and that`s an overwhelming advantage for Hillary
MADDOW: What is your take on the prediction markets and the bookmakers
which is sort of another way of aggregating people`s predictions? Is there
any reason to believe that those things are anything other than just
prejudice and common wisdom? Is there actual wisdom there?
ENTEN: Not really. I mean, look, they`re gathering the same data that we
are. What I will say is they understand, unlike the polling which is
obviously just in this point in time, that there`s probably going to be
more allegations made against Donald Trump, whether it`d be sexual assault
allegations or something perhaps even crazier and they take that into
account. So, I think the markets may be a little ahead of our forecasts in
this particular instance.
MADDOW: When it comes to actual polls, if we want to be better consumers
of polling information at this point, what do you look for in terms of, you
know, the four-way race versus a two-way race, likely voters versus
registered voters, what are the relevant variables that we should train
ourselves to look for?
ENTEN: Well, I tend to look at the four-way race. Remember, Gary Johnson
is on the ballot in all 50 states. Jill Stein is pretty close. I look at
those. I also do look at the likely versus the registered numbers.
But I will point out there`s not much of a difference right now anymore.
As you might expect, Democrats are really enthusiastic after that first
debate. The enthusiasm went through the roof. And right now, there`s just
not much of a difference. All of the numbers suggest that Hillary Clinton
is a heavy favorite at this point.
MADDOW: With those Texas numbers that I brought up, I think a lot of
Democrats are sort of chortling over those numbers.
ENTEN: They love it. They love it!
MADDOW: Going pink if not blue.
Do you see – do you see that sort of thing, that sort of I guess what we
call outlier states, do you see them of predictive of a potential electoral
landslide or should we just see that specific as to what`s happening in
ENTEN: I think if you look at the Texas polling, it backs up what you see
in Utah and that is that the traditional red states are leaning perhaps a
little pink, perhaps there`s a chance Hillary Clinton might win or a third
party candidate might win, and then it says to me, you know what, those
national polls, like the ABC News poll that have Hillary Clinton up by 11,
maybe they`re not too far off the mark.
MADDOW: It bolsters what you`re getting about in terms of other –
MADDOW: Harry Enten, senior political writer at FiveThirtyEight.com, very
helpful. Thank you for being here.
ENTEN: Thank you.
MADDOW: Nice to see you.
ENTEN: Nice to see you.
MADDOW: All right. We`ll be right back. Stay with us.
MADDOW: We asked and now we have received. As of Friday, we had this
remarkable phenomenon on our hands where for the first time in modern
history, one of the two major party nominees for president found himself
with zero newspaper endorsements. Hillary Clinton has a zillion newspaper
endorsements, but until Friday, Donald Trump had none.
Then, on Friday, he got his first one. This is from a small paper in Santa
Barbara, California. Then last night, our official tally of Donald Trump
endorsements by daily newspapers in this country rose from one to two when
we learned that, after getting the “Santa Barbara News Press” endorsement
on Friday, he then got “The St. Joseph News Press” endorsement out of
Missouri on Sunday.
Well, now, today, we can report he just got number three. Today, a nice
viewer named Rob sent us a third Donald Trump endorsement which we
otherwise would never have found. It`s from a place that is 30 miles south
of Dallas, Texas. It`s “The Waxahachie Daily Light”. And they say “Trump
And here in part is their argument. Quote, “No candidate is perfect, but
in Mr. Trump`s case, we believe his willingness to surround himself with
nose that know what they`re doing and that his intent to reverse course of
nearly every direction down which we`ve been dragged is exactly what
America needs at this point in her history,” which is about as easy to trip
off the tongue as the word “Waxahachie.” But I`ve been getting better at
it. I`ve been saying it all day. Waxahachie.
With this endorsement, the “Waxahachie, Texas Daily Light” moves Donald
Trump`s from two newspaper endorsements to three. It also gives him the
first daily newspaper he`s got that`s not from a paper called the news
I want to thank Rob in Harrison Township, Michigan, for the tip on this
one. If you, fair viewer, if you, my friend, if you see something out
there that we ought to know about, particularly for this campaign, please
tell us. You can do to so via sendittorachel.com. We check it all the
time, I swear.
We`ll be right back.
MADDOW: Tonight, we`re going to play what might be my favorite interview I
have ever done on camera on this show. It`s one of those times when you go
out to ask a simple question, what comes back at you from your simple
question is a hydra-headed sea monster wolf dog from a bottom of a
nightmare you never thought possible because you didn`t know you were
asleep. It was crazy.
And I don`t – I hope I`m not sounding like a jerk when I say I think this
was possibly the best interview I`ve ever done on camera, but tonight, we
have reason to go back to it. Because tonight, it ends up being back in
the news for the presidential race for a reason I really, really, really
did not see coming.
MADDOW: The election of 2010 was the great Tea Party wave of leaked. So
many great congressional races to cover that year. At one point, before
the 2010 election, I took a crew all the way up to Alaska. This was our
video I shot from the plane.
We got all the way to Alaska in advance of that election to cover a weird
turn in the Senate race up there. A Tea Party guy called Joe Miller
knocked out the incumbent Alaska Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski in the
Republican primary. Joe Miller just scrambled the entire race. That`s me
and Joe Miller on an escalator.
And Senator Lisa Murkowski was trying to hold on to her seat but she had to
do it with a write-in campaign. That`s me talking to Lisa Murkowski. It
was just wild. It was totally worth the trip.
And when we went up there to Alaska to cover what was going on, I also did
what I thought would be run-of-the-mill man on the street interviews with
people explaining what they thought about this crazy election. But instead
of having run-of-the-mill interview answers, I got an earful about, woo, a
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The voter intimidation with the Black Panthers.
That`s what I`m upset about Holder for, and Lisa Murkowski supported him.
When they had those people out there in their military uniforms and their
night sticks and he refused to prosecute them because they were black and
that`s what`s happening in our judicial system right now.
MADDOW: Do you think the New Black Panther Party made a difference in that
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: In that precinct, they did. You betcha.
MADDOW: You think they did?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: People were there and they were intimidated by it.
MADDOW: Do you think the New Black Panthers are having an effect on this
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don`t know. We haven`t heard the results yet.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It could, you it could. We haven`t heard yet. I`m
only here –
MADDOW: You think in the lower 48 the New Black Panthers are making a
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You won`t have them up here.
MADDOW: How come?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It just, the way how the country, this state is set up.
It`s not conducive for what they`re trying to do.
MADDOW: Do you think the New Black Panthers are active in a lot of the
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Major cities. I`ll just say major cities because I
doubt they all have the support in the suburbs and in the counties outlying
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: You can see my thought process evolving during that conversation,
right? That was in Alaska in October 2010. Those were folks that wanted
to oust Lisa Murkowski, Republican senator, get her out of the Senate,
replace her with a Tea Party guy named Joe Miller.
Their main reason for wanting to do that, what they were most upset about
when it came to their home state senator was this video. It`s about 80
seconds long. It was taken on Election Day 2008 outside a polling place in
Philadelphia`s 14th Ward.
And it became one of the great boogiemen of the American right. And the
whole thing was pretty much what you see here – two kind of crazy looking
half homeless guys who braid their beard hair standing outside this polling
place in a black neighborhood in Philadelphia on Election Day. They were
there for maybe an hour. Somebody called the cops at some point and they
And when George W. Bush`s Justice Department looked into that video, they
decided it was not worth pressing charges against anyone. It`s kind of a
local thing. That weird thing happened for an hour at a precinct.
But that`s something nuts happened. That video, that little 80-second
video taken in a Philadelphia neighborhood 2008 became such a huge national
issue not just in local voting issue resolved in an hour in Philadelphia`s
14th Ward, it became such a huge issue people were talking to me about it
3,400 miles away in Alaska two years later in the 2010 leaked as evidence
that Barack Obama`s Justice Department was a monstrous plot under Eric
Holder to have militant black people steal the election all over the Lower
They couldn`t probably pull it off in Alaska! This video, this one squib
of video of the guys with the braided beard hair in Philadelphia turned
into the rallying cry of Tea Party supporters all across the country,
including Alaska. It was a remarkable thing, and it was a remarkable study
in something called how the FOX News Channel works, because that little
tiny squib of tape didn`t look random and inconsequential on FOX News.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Two members of the Black Panther Party, one
brandishing a night stick intimidating poll watchers. Race and politics
are driving DOJ decisions when it comes to enforcing the law.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: These men were accused of intimidating white voters
but the state department dropped all charges against them despite the
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The Black Panthers also stood guard at polling
places, as I just mentioned 2008 in Philly. The group`s leader with a
night stick in his hand.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Serious allegations today that the decision to drop
virtually all of a now infamous voter intimidation case against members of
the Black Panther Party may have reached all the way to the White House.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Whole squads of the FOX News Channel were built on this story, in
that 80 seconds of tape. I mean, for a while, you could not avoid that
tape on the FOX News Channel.
In 2010, the liberal watchdog Media Matters, they counted 95 different FOX
News Channel segments in the span of just over two weeks all based on that
60-second, 80-second video.
So, that video became a study in how FOX News works. But it`s also a study
in the roots of the Donald Trump campaign because FOX News got that video
from a man named Mike Roman who runs a right wing website called Election
Journal, where he describes himself as a veteran political consultant and
private investigator. And he shopped that video to FOX News where they ran
90 seconds of it over a two-week period and beat that dead horse for years.
Mike Roman went on to be a regular contributor to right wing fever swamp
Breitbart.com. He wrote lots of articles about how the New Black Panther
Party was undermining American elections, those two guys.
And all the while, the Justice Department was turning a blind eye because,
well, you know why.
We tend to think of the New Black Panther thing as a ridiculous FOX News
story and rightly so, but if you were looking for the root of this, how
people in Alaska were telling me that Barack Obama and Eric Holder were
part of a big black conspiracy to steal elections all over the country and
the New Black Panthers are operating in every city of the country, how a
crisis of confidence and the integrity of American democracy gets its start
with accusations of scary black nationalists engage in voter intimidation,
if you are looking for the root of all that, you are looking at this guy,
Mike Roman. This merchant of doubt, this guy Mike Roman who started that
And Mike Roman is who the Donald Trump campaign has just hired to run its
nationwide election protection operation for the presidential election this
year three weeks from today. “The Guardian” newspaper reporting today that
Mike Roman is the guy who will oversee all poll watching efforts for Donald
Trump. What could possibly go wrong?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: They even want to try and rig the election at this polling booths
where so many cities are corrupt and voter fraud is all too common. And
then they say, there`s no voter fraud in our country. There`s no voter
No, no, there`s no voter fraud. Take a look at St. Louis. Take a look at
Philadelphia. Take a look at Chicago, and then I have even the Republicans
saying oh, this is a wonderful – look, look, if nothing else, people are
going to be watching on November 8th.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: And now we know who`s goal to be in charge of that watching for
the Trump campaign to oversee their election protection efforts the Trump
has reportedly hired a guy named Mike Roman, who`s best known as the
conservative activist who promoted the FOX News theory that those homelessy
guys from the New Black Panther Party somehow stole the whole election in
2008, along with other voter fraud and intimidation conspiracy theories.
Ben Jacobs at the Guardian was the first to report this hire by the Trump
Ben Jacobs, appreciate your time joining us tonight. Thanks very much for
BEN JACOBS, THE GUARDIAN POLITICAL REPORTER: Thanks so much for having me,
MADDOW: We reached out to the Trump campaign to confirm what you reported,
to confirm that they have brought Mike Roman on board. We did not hear
back from them, which is not all that unusual for us sadly. They don`t
always get back to us in terms of our queries.
Have you heard anything from the campaign about this? Have they officially
JACOBS: They haven`t officially confirmed it. But this is something that
has been reported from a number of sources confident that Mike Roman`s been
brought in, that he`s been involved in the campaign for a few months, that
he`s – you know, since the New Black Panthers worked for the Koch brothers
putting together their now disbanded intelligence unit. But he is
definitely overseeing their election protection efforts.
And what`s particularly interesting is that with all Trump`s talk about
Philadelphia, Mike Roman is from the Philadelphia area, which adds a new
edge to that.
MADDOW: Hmm. What do we know about, or do we have any reason to have
expectations in terms of what the Trump campaign is going to do for its
election protection operation? Obviously, every campaign does some version
of this. Do we know what Trump`s version will be?
JACOBS: That`s still a little unclear, that they`ve been actively
recruiting people to be poll watchers, election watchers. You can go to
their website now and sign up and this is a far more active effort than
almost any other campaign has been doing, because normally on Election Day,
the priority is that people knock doors or do phone calls to turn people
out, rather than showing up at a polling place and just staring at the
people who do show up and vote. That it`s not necessarily a top priority
and that normally its biggest use is for monitoring things, to get a sense
of turnout earlier in the day so you can distribute resources
MADDOW: In terms of your – just you`re reporting on this, your sources
telling you about the hiring of Mike Roman, and what you understand about
his history, for those of us who weren`t familiar with him. Clearly, I was
familiar with how FOX went hog-wild on that New Black Panther story. I
didn`t know much else about him before reading your reporting about it
Is there anything that it says to you, this hire says to you in particular
sort of the direction that the Trump campaign is taking or what parts of
the conservative movement in the Republican Party they`re tapping for this
last 21 days?
JACOBS: Well, it certainly says something with the level of the rhetoric
that he`s put out about voter fraud in the last week, two weeks, that it`s
not something that we`ve seen in modern American history and that this is
something seriously being pursued. And Mike Roman is a writer, has written
for Breitbart, which is the website that Steve Bannon, its CEO, now runs
the Trump campaign, that Trump is really appealing to this sort of doubling
down, tripling down, going for the most hard core possible message, and
that this is a campaign that`s running solely on right wing id over the
next three weeks, and that we`re not going to see a moderate Trump, a
softer Trump, more responsible Trump, that this is going to be someone
howling about voter fraud until the polls close and afterwards.
MADDOW: “Then afterwards” is the part that I think that`s starting to get
Ben Jacobs, reporter with “The Guardian” who broke this story today – Ben,
congratulations on the scoop. Thanks for being here tonight.
JACOBS: Thanks so much for having me.
MADDOW: All right. Still ahead, something to keep your eyes on ahead of
tomorrow night`s big final debate. Stay with us.
MADDOW: Couple weeks ago, we hosted on this show a former United States
Marine special operator named Peter Kiernan. He`s a very accomplished
young man. He`s an Afghanistan veteran. He`s back home in the United
States now. He`s pursuing a college degree at Columbia.
And as a student, as a veteran, he put together a remarkable effort to try
to persuade Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump to release his
People from all over the country, from all 50 states pledged as part of
Peter Kiernan`s effort, pledged more than $6 million that will be donated
to American veterans organizations if Donald Trump chooses to release his
ten most recent years of tax returns, just like Mike Pence released his
returns. If Trump releases those returns, more than $6 million will get
dispersed to veterans groups.
Now, there`s a deadline on this. The deadline for Mr. Trump to do his part
set from the very beginning is tomorrow night, before tomorrow night`s
debate. So, tick tock, we`ll see.
The third and final presidential debate of this presidential election, you
should plan to watch it here, commercial free tomorrow night. Chris Hayes
kicks off our primetime coverage tomorrow at 6:00 live from Las Vegas,
followed by a special edition of “HARDBALL” with Chris Matthews at 7:00
Eastern, and Brian Williams and I will take over at 8:00. The debate
starts in Vegas at 9:00 Eastern. We`ll also then, of course, bring you
special post-debate coverage after the debate ends, probably starting
around 10:30 Eastern and going until we`re all dead.
So, that`s your plan for tomorrow night. It will be very exciting. It`s
the last debate of the year, the last debate of this election. You must be
there. See you tomorrow night.
Now, it`s time for “THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL.”
Good evening, Lawrence.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY
United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed,
transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written
permission of CQ-Roll Call. You may not alter or remove any trademark,
copyright or other notice from copies of the content.>