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All In with Chris Hayes, Transcript 04/21/15

Guests: Jayne Miller, Paul Butler, Sherrod Brown, Dan Savage, John Ridley,Mimi Lemay, Joe Lemay, Kate Snow

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST (voice-over): Tonight on ALL IN -- (CHANTING) HAYES: Protests erupt in Baltimore. And a family searches for answers after Freddie Gray died in police custody. We`ll have the latest. Plus, open warfare in the Democratic Party. BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I love Elizabeth. We`re allies on a whole host of issues. But she`s wrong on this. HAYES: Why President Obama is taking on Elizabeth Warren. And it`s precisely the reason why Democrats need a primary. Then, why same-sex marriage is making 2016 Republicans sound like 1992 Bill Clinton. THEN-GOV. BILL CLINTON (D), ARKANSAS: I experimented with marijuana a time or two, and I didn`t like it, and didn`t inhale and never tried it again. HAYES: We finally know whatever happened to predictability. UIDENTIFIED MALE: Netflix came around and said let`s do 13 episodes. HAYES: The troubling implications of the "Full House" reboot. UNIDENTIFIED GIRL: How rude. HAYES: ALL IN starts right now. (END VIDEOTAPE) HAYES: Good evening from New York. I`m Chris Hayes. Protesters were out today in Baltimore, Maryland, following the death of Freddie Gray. A 25-year-old black man who died on Sunday, a week after suffering a spinal cord injury in police custody. Earlier this evening, several members of Gray`s family including his mother marched with protesters just hours after the Justice Department announced they have officially opened a civil rights investigation into Freddie Gray`s death. Witness video showed the 25-year-old being pulled off the street and put into a police van. Court documents said he had, quote, "fled unprovoked" upon noticing police presence. When he was apprehended after a brief foot chase, quote, "the officer noticed a knife inside his front right pants pocket. The defendant was arrested without force or incident," end quote. Joining me now by phone is Jayne Miller, investigative reporter at NBC`s Baltimore affiliate WBAL TV. Jayne, there are so many questions here. Part of the issue is getting any account out of the Baltimore Police Department about what exactly happened to Mr. Gray. It looks like in that video he is already unable to use his lower half of his body. Do we know what happened? JAYNE MILLER, WBAL-TV REPORTER (via telephone): Actually, Chris, if you look at the video carefully, you`ll find he`s able to get into the police wagon the first time under his own power. That`s important because it starts to help establish the timeline in this case. He`s obviously not happy about being arrested. Let`s start right there, because one of the questions that, if the feds will review this, one of the questions prosecutors are reviewing is the probable cause to put him under arrest to begin with. This was a guy who on Sunday morning, April 12th was in a neighborhood. Yes, it`s known as a high crime neighborhood. He does have an arrest record involving mostly minor offensives for drug possessions, and they make eye contact and he starts running. They catch up with him and he stops and said, "You got me". At that point, they put him on the pavement, put him in handcuffs and then they find the knife. So, the question is, did they have probable cause to begin with to make that arrest? HAYES: And there`s also now the question of what the heck happened in custody. I mean, we have -- I mean, this is someone who his family says his spinal cord was 80 percent severed. That we have six officers involved in the arrest who have been essentially suspended pending further review, but we still don`t have any clear picture of what happened once that video stops. Once Mr. Gray is placed in the van, we don`t have any account from anyone, as far as what I can tell, of what happened next. MILLER: That will be difficult to get. Mr. Gray was no longer with us. There was a second prisoner picked up late in the 30-minute period in which Mr. Gray was in the transport van, but it`s not clear what that witness -- what that suspect saw, if anything, or noticed, if anything. The van is divided in the middle. But, you know, what this boils down to -- and the question I put it here in custody, proper policy requires police officers to take a prisoner to custody to take care of them. To make sure they`re safe if they request medical attention, if medical attention is necessary, they have to get it. That`s where the case rests, is what did they do or what didn`t they do when it became fairly obvious that Mr. Gray was in trouble? HAYES: Well, the question is, another question you have to ask is, you know, whatever injuries there were that ultimately appears to have caused a death, were those sustained before the interaction with the police, during the interaction with police, once in the van in police custody, et cetera? I mean, what is so strange to me, what is maddening, I can understand the family`s frustration is, in these cases we`ve covered in other environments, there`s at least some public account of how this came to be. And as of yet, we don`t have anything. MILLER: But that`s not entirely correct. There has been a timeline released by the Baltimore police department, and there`s been reporting released by us that WBAL TV that filled in some of the timeline. So, we do have an idea of when the van stopped, where it stopped. We have witness accounts of what may have happened at a second stop, which may be critical to the story, because we have a witness who says that when the van stopped the second time so he was taken out of the van so the shackles could be applied to his legs, the police officer, quote, "threw him back in the van head first." Did that cause the injury? Perhaps. Because he was shackled and handcuffed, did he fall down and that caused the injury? The -- so far, the information has been provided about the autopsy shows that very severe spinal cord injury high in the neck area, it does not -- but it does not -- it has no other bodily injury, least according to what`s been released about the autopsy. So, there has been some information out, obviously. The key question is what happened to him and how did it happen? I`m not sure we`re going to clearly know that, the answer to that. HAYES: Jayne Miller, thank you so much for joining me. I really appreciate it. Joining me now Paul Butler, former prosecutor with the U.S. Department of Justice. I feel like there`s a kind of pattern, rhythm to this as bleak and frustrating as it may be, in which there`s a case of alleged police misconduct, announcement of Justice Department investigation, but then a question of what it means. So, maybe in this case, as someone who worked at the Department of Justice, you can walk us through what it might mean in this case. PAUL BUTLER, FORMER PROSECUTOR: Well, the department will wait until the state completes its investigation in order to decide whether to bring federal charges. So, in a case like this where there`s violence by a police officer allegedly, the most obvious, charge is something like voluntary manslaughter, murder, negligent manslaughter. And frankly, those cases are a lot easier to prove than federal charges. Not saying they`re easy, because with any police officer case, it`s hard to get juries to convict. But easier than a federal prosecution where you have to prove willful and intentional violation of a constitutional right. That`s a high standard. That`s why we haven`t seen announcements of investigations in the Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Eric Gardner, though we haven`t seen federal criminal prosecutions brought in those cases. Again, it`s a really high standard. HAYES: And one of the things about this case in particular, and it was true of the case in California when the man on the horse was beaten, I remember having someone on the program tell me that in some ways it`s easier to make a criminal case on beating or a death in custody than it is for a fatal shooting because the sort of argument of self-defense is not present, right? A police officer beats someone or in this case if someone dies in police custody while shackled, the argument we`ve seen in other cases which is I feared for my life, I had to use lethal force would seem to be inapplicable. BUTLER: Yes, that`s exactly right, Chris. And then the other concern is you don`t have a witness who can at least give his version of the events. But guess who knows what happened? One of these six officers who is now on administrative leave knows what`s happening. What is going on with them? They`re lawyered up. Their lawyers are saying what any defense lawyer would say, don`t talk to the police, ironically. Don`t talk to the investigators. Don`t say what happened. Somebody is going to cut a deal, is my prediction. And that`s how this mystery will start to unravel. HAYES: Yes. The investigator`s best friend in this case is that so many people -- this is not obviously in the case of Walter Scott, the fatal shooting. There was one officer and one suspect in a small bit of space. The video captured what happened. In this case, we have a variety of officers even involved in the initial arrest, but throughout and what you`re saying is someone is going to talk about what happened. BUTLER: Yes. So, you know, that`s going to be the best way to find out what went on inside this van. One of the things I don`t get is where is the videotape in this case? Baltimore is famous for having cameras on every street corner, especially in, quote/unquote, "high crime areas". So if there are allegations that Mr. Gray was thrown into the wagon while he was handcuffed and with his legs shackled, that would explain how he got the injuries, you know, hopefully there`s a video of what actually happened. HAYES: Paul butler, thank you for being here. BUTLER: Great to be here. HAYES: We`ll be right back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) HAYES: President Obama`s exclusive interview with MSNBC where he takes on people in his own party on a hot button trade deal. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) OBAMA: When you hear folks make a lot of suggestions about how bad this trade deal is, when you dig into the facts, they are wrong. (END VIDEO CLIP) HAYES: Senator Sherrod Brown will be here to respond. Plus, some people are not psyched about the "Full House" reboot. You`re going to have to stay tuned to find out if I`m one of those people or else -- (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED GIRL: You`re in big trouble mister! (END VIDEO CLIP) (COMMERCIAL BREAK) HAYES: In an exclusive interview with MSNBC and our own Chris Matthews, the president today responded to harsh criticism from Senator Elizabeth Warren and other progressives over administration`s attempt to push through the biggest trade deals since NAFTA. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) OBAMA: I guess they don`t want it to happen. And I love Elizabeth. We`re allies on a host of issues, but she`s wrong on this. Now, I would not be doing this trade deal if I did not think it was good for the middle class. And when you hear folks make a lot of suggestions about how bad this trade deal is, when you dig into the facts, they are wrong. (END VIDEO CLIP) HAYES: Trans-Pacific Partnership, the final details are being hashed out now between the United States, Japan and other nations in this 12- nation deal is a trade agreement that the Democratic leader in the Senate is staunchly against. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SEN. HARRY REID (D-NV), MINORITY LEADER: I`ve never ever in my 33 years of Congress ever supported, ever supported a trade agreement, and I`m not going to start now. They`re not good for the American people. They`re not good for working men and women. It puts us at a disadvantage. So, the answer is not only no but hell no. OK? But no I`m not going to be doing any single-handed trying to defeat it. I`ve told everybody how I feel. That`s the way it is. (END VIDEO CLIP) HAYES: So, while Senator Reid is a hell no, he also said he wouldn`t single-handedly try to defeat it. All this debate is intensifying on Capitol Hill, the debate among presidential contenders has been tepid at best since there is obviously a dearth of such contenders. Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton supported the Trans-Pacific Partnership as secretary of state and has not renounced that support to date. Although today in New Hampshire, she talked more broadly about the principles abstractly of a good trade deal. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) HILLARY CLINTON (D), 2016 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, any trade deal has to produce jobs and raise wages and increase prosperity and protect our security. And we have to do our part in making sure we have the capabilities and the skills to be competitive. (END VIDEO CLIP) HAYES: Governor Martin O`Malley who hasn`t yet declared a run for the presidency is against TPP, calling it a, quote, "bad trade deal", and today released an ad today saying just that. Meanwhile, the Republican Party stands broadly in support of the deal, so much so that the GOP also supports giving President Obama fast track authority so the deal could pass relatively quickly in Congress without amendments. Let`s be clear -- that is something that on almost any other issue would be inconceivable from the Republican Party. Republicans have been consistently clamoring for more power over whether or not a nuclear deal with Iran is ever reached. And tonight, I spoke with Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio and asked him what he thought are President Obama`s main pitch on the trade agreement that we should trust him on this. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) SEN. SHERROD BROWN (D), OHIO: Show me something. I trust the president of the United States. I think she`s been a good president. I supported him on everything from Iran sanctions to health care to Dodd- Frank and enthusiastically. But on this one, this fast track legislation is hardly different from one ten years ago. We see presidents of the United States, because of their legacy or for whatever reason, think they need to leave trade agreements behind for the American people, and evidence for years is that these cost us jobs. We -- our trade deficit since we passed PNTR with China went from about $12 billion or $15 billion a year to 15 -- more than $25 billion a month with China, and that`s directly lost jobs, because we`re buying things from them that we used to make in the United States. HAYES: But folks say, look, yes, it`s not zero sum and consumers are gaining. So, the trade deals we`ve done, particularly the trade with China, there are some lost jobs, but there`s huge amounts of consumer savings that are being reaped on the other end, and those consumer savings mean essentially money in people`s pockets in households throughout the country. BROWN: Well, things might cost less, maybe, but we know that people have less income to pay for those things. We`re moving because of these trade agreements to a low-wage economy instead of an economy that we used to be post-war from the `40s into the `80s, maybe even into the early -- maybe even into `90s where wages went up and people could afford to buy things. And now we`re not. HAYES: What`s your theory? You said something interesting and this goes back to NAFTA, which -- you actually wrote a book about NAFTA and free trade, which I`ve read, which is quite good. BROWN: Thank you. HAYES: About presidents always want this. It doesn`t matter the party over the last, you know, 20 years, even as data comes in saying the gains the economy from NAFTA were nowhere near what was promised. What is your theory for why it is every president essentially acts the same as every other president in pushing these deals? BROWN: You know, I was in Dayton and Youngstown in the last week or so talking to workers about these trade deals. And a number of people looked at me who support the president. These are often -- these are often union members and said, why is he doing this? I don`t have the answer. I don`t know. I think that -- I mean, the president is clearly is too close to Wall Street. I think we have seen that in other kinds of decisions, and the people advising on the trade agreements, I guess they study their economic textbook and say -- textbooks that say free trade is always a good idea. But President Bush, who I don`t quote that much -- the first President Bush said a billion dollars in trade surplus or deficit turns into 13,000 jobs. So, if you have a billion dollar trade deficit, it means 13,000 lost jobs. Multiply that times 5 and 600, and you get a huge number of lost jobs. I think maybe the president thinks about policy, micro -- kind of macro political -- geopolitical policies and things with China that makes him think differently about this. But, clearly, this is not something that works for American workers. It works for the communities that get devastated by lost manufacturing jobs. HAYES: Let me ask you this. I was going back just before we started speaking, and looking at coverage of Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama in your state of Ohio during the contested primary back in 2008 when each of them were essentially trying to out-NAFTA the other one. And my question if we had a competitive primary right now, like we had in 2008, would we have a different discussion and debate in the Democratic Party about this issue? BROWN: Well, you might. All though, if you remember both candidates in response to a question at Cleveland State University. My wife and I were in the audience. Both candidates answered the question, yes, I will renegotiate NAFTA. And, you know, so, what they say, I might generally believe them. (LAUGHTER) BROWN: What they say in the campaign isn`t always translated. But, you know, they`re getting a lot of pressure from the largest corporations in the country on this. But fundamentally here is what happened, Chris, that bothers me the most, is we`ve seen the typical business plan for thousands of American companies now to shut down production in Steubenville and Toledo and move it to Wuhan and Xian (ph), China or Mexico City and then sell those products back into the United States. That`s pretty much a first in world economic history. You shut down production, move overseas, make those products and sell it back to the home country. These trade agreements -- these trade agreements grease the wheels to do that. That`s the problem. HAYES: Sherrod Brown, senator of Ohio, thank you very much. BROWN: Thank you, Chris. (END VIDEOTAPE) HAYES: Taking page from the Bill Clinton presidential playbook, potential 2016 contender Scott Walker says he went to the reception for a gay wedding, not the ceremony. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BILL CLINTON: (AUDIO GAP) England, I experimented with marijuana a time or two and I didn`t like it, and didn`t inhale and never tried it again. (END VIDEO CLIP) HAYES: Dan Savage will be here to talk about not inhaling at gay weddings, next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BILL CLINTON: When I was in England, I experimented with marijuana time or two, and I didn`t like it, and didn`t inhale and never tried it again. (END VIDEO CLIP) HAYES: Bill Clinton`s answer to a question in 1992 about whether he had smoked marijuana has been the source of jokes for decades now, because it`s so manifestly preposterous. But, of course, his answer "I didn`t inhale" wasn`t about whether he had smoked pot. It was about the larger battle over not just marijuana shifting social norms, about what it meant to have the first presidential election which plausible candidates could be more aligned with baby boomers than the greatest generation. I was reminded of Clinton`s attempt to thread the needle when I saw the response that Scott Walker gave over the weekend when he was asked if he would attend a same-sex wedding. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REPORTER: Would you attend a gay wedding? GOV. SCOTT WALKER (R-WI), CONSIDERING 2016 BID: Well, in terms of -- that`s certainly personal issue. For a family member, Tonette and I and our family have already had a family member who`s had a reception. I haven`t been at a wedding. That`s true even though my position on marriage is still defined between a man and woman. I support the constitution of the state. But for someone I love, I`ve been to a reception. (END VIDEO CLIP) HAYES: Got that? He skipped the wedding but went to the reception. Walker was reportedly away on business when the wedding occurred, leaving open whether he would have attended had he been around. And this was not some random question for Scott Walker. Five different 2016 Republican presidential hopefuls have now been asked if they would attend a same-sex wedding. All oppose marriage equality, and all five are trying to figure out how to navigate some very uncomfortable, as social norms, around marriage equality and gay rights are changing. Even as the GOP remains at least institutionally largely stuck in the past. Joining me now, syndicated columnist Dan Savage, host of the "Savage Love" cast. Dan, I love -- I thought that Walker answer was actually a fairly elegant attempt to thread a very, very fine needle. DAN SAVAGE, SAVAGE LOVE: It was. It`s very amusing to watch this issue of same-sex marriage divides Republicans. Not just against each other and themselves but against their own family members and the bigoted Republican base. But for me, it really calls the question why you would invite someone to your wedding who didn`t think you should have one. It`s like inviting someone to your birthday party who didn`t think you should have another birthday. It`s a little awkward. (LAUGHTER) HAYES: So you want the campaign press corps to start grilling the inviters rather than the invitees. SAVAGE: Right, and the hypothetical gay friends. You know, when the anti-gay bigots like Rick Santorum were challenged on their anti-gay bigotry, or Cruz or Huckabee, they always point to their imaginary hypothetical gay friends who might apparently invite them to a gay wedding. In Walker`s case, it was his own sister. That`s interesting about this. We saw with Rob Portman in Ohio, when it comes to flesh and blood and family versus base, a lot of Republicans are having a hard time now choosing base over family. That`s really the whole trajectory of the LGBT civil rights movement right there in a nutshell. HAYES: And that`s I think this question is so interesting and illuminating. We have an approval matrix style sort of grid here for where the candidates on this, are -- do they support marriage equality and would they attend a same sex wedding. So, of course, Hillary Clinton is in the yes, yes category. Scott Walker sort of straddling the no-yes, and no-no. Rick Santorum, this was his answer. Take a listen. (BEGIN AUDIO CLIP) HUGH HEWITT: Would you, Rick Santorum, attend a same-sex wedding of a loved one or a family friend or anyone you were close to? RICK SANTORUM: No, I would not. HEWITT: Why not? SANTORUM: As a person of my faith, that would be something that would be a violation of my faith. I would love them and support them but I would not participate in that ceremony. (END AUDIO CLIP) HAYES: So that`s in the no-no quadrant. I actually think that`s in some ways the most philosophically consistent, right, or the most honest in some ways. SAVAGE: In some ways, yes. I wouldn`t want to take up the gay friends Rick Santorum in 2012 claim that he had to ask them if they would invite him or had been invited him to any sort of wedding reception. It`s important note, though, that Rick Santorum, the fait that he ascribes to, the one that he cites, his Catholicism, and he`s out of step with American Catholics. American Catholics are by a wide majority supportive of marriage equality, supportive of full civil rights for LGBT Americans. And I think that`s really interesting. Of all religious denominations in the United States, Catholics are the most progressive on LGBT civil rights issues. So, not only is Rick Santorum out of step with the broader American public, he`s also out of step with members of his own church in the United States. HAYES: So here is -- here is the opposite quadrant. And, this is what you`re going to see a lot of the GOP candidates actually respond with. This is John Kasich, whose an as yet undeclared but possible candidate, talking about the same issue. Take a listen. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JOHN KASICH, GOVERNOR OF OHIO: In fact, I have a friend who is gay, who asked me if I would go to his wedding, and I said, well, let me think about it. And I went home and I said to my wife, you know, my friend is getting married, what do you think? Do you want to go? And she goes, oh, I`m absolutely going. I called him today and said, hey, just let me know what time it is. (END VIDEO CLIP) HAYES: Now, at some level -- that`s in that lower right quadrant, right? And, at some level, that`s the no, I don`t support marriage equality, but sure, I`ll go to the wedding. And at some -- or the upper left quadrant. At some level, like, that`s more humanizing but it`s also, like, a complete ideological and philosophical basket case. What the heck is the rationale for showing up at something that you think is deeply violation that should be illegal. SAVAGE: It kind of just, it goes back to the birthday party thing for me. Okay, I`m at your birthday party. I wish you didn`t have a birthday to celebrate but, here we are. Happy birthday. Next year I hope I`m not back here. I hope you don`t have another one of these. It`s just a little bit in conflict. A lot of us who are gay, lesbian, bi, who have had same sex weddings, we have been in the position where we`ve invited family that had not yet come around on our full civil equality, on our relationships, and it wasn`t for many until they were at the wedding and they saw how we were treated by our friends and other family members that they finally did come around. So, hope for John Kasich. HAYES: Hope for them all. (inaudible) the conversion experience of a big, festive gay wedding. Dan Savage, thank you very much. Still ahead, a story you won`t be able to stop thinking about tonight. The incredible journey of one family and their transgender 5 year old child. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JOE LEMAY, FATHER: I explained to him that, look, we can bring you to a new school, and everyone will know you as a boy from the beginning. Right then he said, that`s what I want. MIMI LEMAY, MOTHER: He said, I want to be a boy always. I want to be a boy named Jacob. (END VIDEO CLIP) (COMMERICIAL BREAK) HAYES: If you talk to gay and lesbian adults, the vast majority will tell you they knew they were gay or lesbian when they were children. And there was a time in this country when talking about a gay child would have seemed absolutely taboo or terrifying or bizarre. No longer. Well, guess what? There are transgender children across this country. MBC`s Kate Snow talked to one family about what it means to make a world accept that. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You look handsome. Are you ready for today? Are you ready to school? JACOB LEMAY, SON: Yeah. M. LEMAY: Okay. Jacob is your typical, energetic little boy who loves to run around, loves to play in the dirt, loves to get his hands into things. J. LEMAY: He`s just like the funnest kid and a great buddy to have around. Who is also born in a girl`s body. M. LEMAY: Jacob is transgender. J. LEMAY: The doctor said that we had a girl. M. LEMAY: Clearly a girl. J. LEMAY: Yeah. So, we started thinking of girl names. F. LEMAY: Mia was born in 2010. Go to dada. [ laughter ] J. LEMAY: Good job. Mia, um, really wanted to change her clothes a lot. Right? Constantly, like 12 times a day. M. LEMAY: But then the doggie sweater came and she became obsessed about wearing this one garment for six months straight, over the ballet tutu. Over the Christmas clothes. In hindsight, I think what she was trying to do was dispel a sense of discomfort in her -- the way was -- her image was being shown to the world. J. LEMAY: She would take on boy personas, and always want to, just always want to play with boy things, and we thought, well, it seems like we have a tomboy on our hands, right? She didn`t fit in with the boys and she didn`t fit in with the girls. And, it was obvious to her and the other kids. M. LEMAY: I think she felt that and so she withdrew from people, and wouldn`t look people in the face when they talk talked to her. You look beautiful right now. You look awesome. What do you think, Mia? MIA LEMAY, DAUGHTER: I want someone to cut my hair and I want it to be like that. M. LEMAY: Her need to play boy roles and her need to be seen or spoken to as a boy at home became very persistent and very consistent. Those are the hallmarks of a possibly transgender child. Consistence, persistence, and insistence. And she was meeting all those markers. I was confused and concerned, and I hoped that this obsession with being a boy would go away. I remember crying because I imagined her being in the playground and nobody playing with her. I imagined her going through high school not having a date. A mother`s heart knows when her child is suffering. He was talking about hating his body. I even found him kind of poking at himself at some point angrily. Wanting to be something different. Saying things like, why did God make me this way. Why did god make me wrong? A child shouldn`t have to live like that. I was driving up the street and a car was going really fast and it made it, but we had to slow down really rapidly, and I said to myself, if this was the moment where I lost her, what would I have want to have done? Would I have wanted to force her to be Mia for that one last day, or would I want her to have gone happy, being who she really was? And I think, at that point my mind was made up. It was April of last year, we hadn`t yet transitioned Jacob, but he had short hair and he was wearing entirely boy clothes. We had a glorious trip. We bought him a prince charming costume. And he would be stopped everywhere, oh, how handsome. Oh, your son, he is so cute. He just glowed. J. LEMAY: The look of pride on his was like he just, he had a ball. And it was a lightbulb or something clicked. M. LEMAY: He was really happy in that moment. He was being perceived as he wanted to. There had been a video that had gone viral of a adorable little boy out in California, Riley Whittington, and his parents had made a video of him explaining the process of their transitioning him and clearly, this boy is so happy now. So adorable. So full of life and animation, and we were very struck by that. We talked about it and we said, what if we showed him this video of this boy? When the video finished, we asked him what do you think about that boy? I said, do you think you might like to be like? Do you think you might like to have a new name and everyone know that you`re a boy? And he said I can`t. I have to be Mia at school. I can be what I want at home, but I have to be Mia at school. J. LEMAY: I explained to him, that look, we can bring you to a new school, and everyone will know you as a boy from the beginning. Right then he said, that`s what I want. M. LEMAY: He said, I want to be a boy always. I want to be a boy named Jacob. Before the transition, he didn`t smile a lot. I had never seen him throw his head back and laugh, like, really loudly. J. LEMAY: He`s just a different person who is becoming himself. M. LEMAY: He started looking people in the eye. He started talking about people. That`s my friend. J. LEMAY: Striking up conversations. M. LEMAY: Yeah. And I realized how much he had come out of his shell. And how much being Jacob suited him. And I realized he had never really been Mia. That had been a figment of my imagination. J. LEMAY: I couldn`t ask for a better son. He`s amazing. M. LEMAY: I want him to know how proud I am of him. How brave I believe he is. And how, no matter what, I am in his corner. And I love him. And I always will. Because he`s my son. (END VIDEO CLIP) HAYES: NBC`s News national correspondent, Kate Snow joins me now. Kate, this is just phenomenal, phenomenal work. KATE SNOW, NBC: Thank you. HAYES: And I can`t thank you enough for it. How did you find these parents? They`re incredible. SNOW: Good question. Yeah. They actually had made a decision to go public with their story. A short time ago, she wrote this, to me, the mother, she wrote powerful letter to my son and posted it online, and we saw that. And, it`s on our website now, actually, and I was in tears reading very similar to what you just heard, her journey, you know, as she described not knowing how to accept, or whether to accept, or what to do. HAYES: Well, I mean, I have a 3 year old and 1 year old. In any circumstance, gender in little kids is -- they`re constantly trying on identities. There`s all these insane messages that you don`t control, and it`s a very difficult terrain to navigate when you have your own sort of vision or politics about gender, and gender equality. SNOW: Absolutely. I`m a mom of two kids, and there have been days where I make my daughter wear a dress because we`re going somewhere fancy. Yeah, I think every parent -- I think that is why we wanted to examine this through the eyes of parents and families. Because, parents can relate to the idea of not understanding what your child is going through, whatever it is. In this case it happens to be that they`re transgender. HAYES: This is part of a series. You got more reporting tomorrow, right? SNOW: Tomorrow morning on the Today show. Tomorrow night we`re actually telling the story of 8 year old Melissa. A little bit older. She`s 8. She transitioned on her eighth birthday last summer. She happens to be the granddaughter of a United States congressman, Mike Honda, from Northern California, who tweeted about her. HAYES: An amazing tweet about her. SNOW: Yeah. And that`s how we found their story. HAYES: Yeah, I can`t wait -- there it is right there. I can`t wait to watch it. Excellent, excellent work. SNOW: Thank you so much. HAYES: Appreciate it. NBC News national correspondent, Kate Snow. Still to come, fans of the late `80s slash early 90`s TBC sitcom Full House are rejoicing, I guess, if they are out there, after Uncle Jesse announces the show is coming back. But, is it a good thing? Someone who has worked in Hollywood for decades and won an Academy Award for screenplay of 12 Years a Slave, John Ridley will be here with me ahead. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) HAYES: Okay, so here`s what goes through my head every time I see a movie poster or a new show or an article about something, how did that pitch meeting go? Like, who said yes to that? Or, who said no to all the awesome things that never got to air. I`m going to talk to someone who`s been in many of those pitch meetings ahead. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGING VIDEO CLIP) JOHN STAMOS, ACTOR: Five minutes ago they called and we sealed the deal. We`ve been working on this for many years. The original creators, Jeff Franklin and Bob Boyett and Tom Miller, we were trying to do some sort of spin-off and, you know, we wanted to give credit to the legacy. We didn`t want to just sort of throw it away. And so, Netflix came around and said let`s do 13 episodes. (END VIDEO CLIP) HAYES: John Stamos, still known to so many fans as Uncle Jesse, unveiled the big news last night. Full House, the beloved family sitcom that went off the air in the 1995 after an 8 year run is getting a much anticipated revival, courtesy of Netflix. The new show, Fuller House, will focus on the oldest child, DJ Tanner, now widowed with two boys and another on the way, who`s sister, Stefanie, and childhood friend, Kimmy Gibbler, now all grown up, move in to help out. While those three actors, plus Stamos, have all signed on, not yet known whether the Olsen twins, or anyone else from the original will make an appearance. Now, before we go any further, I have an admission to make. When I first came across this news floating around the internet, I actually couldn`t tell if it was a joke. There does seem to be such an epic waive of nostalgia in American pop culture right now. It`s getting on the verge of self parody. Icons from the past have been popping up in commercials, like this one for Geico starring hip hop group, Salt and Peppa. Or this Statefarm campaign with Dana Carvey and Kevin Nealon as Hanz and Franz, characters they created on SNL back in the `80s. And, these days just about every new shoe Nike releases seems to be a rehash of the classic Air Jordans, including the ones I`m wearing. And now Buzzfeed has an entire vertical, Rewind, dedicated to stuff Millennials miss from childhood. Nowhere is this nostalgia more prevalent than in TV and movies, where comic books in the 1992 editions of TV Guide seem to be the main source of material. The X Files and Twin Peaks revivals, now in development for television to the reboot slash sequels of Mad Max, Jurassic Park, Star Wars coming to the big screen, to the many super hero franchises on every single platform, so many they`re impossible to keep track of. Everything old is new again. We seem to be living in both the best and worst times for pop culture innovation. It`s the post Sopranos era of television, of golden age, of smart, serious shows, while democratizing force the internet gives just about everything the chance to reach an audience. But, as we see new platforms like Netflix become more established, I worry what began as innovative upstarts will become increasingly risk adverse. And, before you know it, every show will just be a different permutation of Superman, or Full, Fuller House. Up next, I`ll talk to someone who managed to have it both ways. A producer and an Oscar winning screenwriter, who`s currently got an edgy, original show on network TV, and who`s also teaming up with Marvel on a new series. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have a right to be here. Justice for Carter Knicks. [ chanting ] (END VIDEO CLIP) HAYES: It was a scene from the new episode of American Crime, which airs on ABC. It`s a pretty risky show for one of the broadcast networks. As you can see, this weeks episode in particular deals with subjects that are currently vital and exploding in America. In fact, we have a live shot right now we could probably show you, what`s going on in Baltimore that looks not that different from that. The show was created by my guest John Ridley, who`s worked in Hollywood for more than two decades as a writer, producer and director, and who won an Academy Award in 2014 for the screenplay of 12 Years a Slave. Great to have you here, John. JOHN RIDLEY, WRITER, PRODUCER AND DIRECTOR: Thank you very much. HAYES: Congratulations on American Crime, which I do think, which is this show that sort of takes all these live wire social issues and sort of runs them through the conduit of this, I would say, nontraditional crime drama. RIDLEY: Absolutely. It`s not about procedural. It`s not about the police. It`s not about prosecutors. It`s about families, and their journey through the system. It is a bit odd, looking at that bit of tape that you showed from our episode that is going to show this week, Thursday, to know that is actually happening right now. And, that was, I would say, very much a guiding principle for everybody on this show. It is a piece of fiction, but we wanted to make sure that we had an emotional honesty. HAYES: So, alright, what do you think about -- you`re someone who has been in all different parts of showbiz. You have worked on a variety of stuff. You know, Oscar winning stuff. You got your start writing for Martin -- RIDLEY: Martin Show, Fresh Prince of Bel Air back in the day. HAYES: Fresh Prince of Bel Air. What do you think about this sort of, best of times, worst of the times, kind of analogy of, you know, it does seem to me there is so much interesting, fresh stuff getting made and then there`s also this pull towards, like, franchises, retreads, bringing stuff back. RIDLEY: Absolutely. There`s an element of brand, you know, that you`re going put out something like a Star Wars or Avengers and folks know that there`s a brand and there`s a level of entertainment that they can expect. And, I think that`s really good. I am stunned to a degree even now that ABC, to their credit, took a show that is nontraditional in so many ways, that deals with things about faith that normally is a third rail in broadcast entertainment, race. But even beyond that, the way we shoot the show, our lack of music. Some of our actors wear very little makeup. Things like that -- HAYES: Could you have sold this ten years ago? RIDLEY: That`s an interesting question. I don`t know that ten years ago we could have done this show. But, even now, this is a show, people talk about it as being cable quality television. But even cable does not necessarily do shows that are principally about people of color, about our points of view, perspectives. We were talking just a moment ago about things behind the scenes. We`re very proud of the fact that on American Crime the majority of our directors were female. There is still issues of access. So it`s things that I`m so proud about that are obvious with the show that it deals with race, that it deals with faith. There are so many things about American Crime -- again, I`m not trying to be a show for ABC. But they took a chance all the way around with the show. HAYES: What have you learned about -- you talk about the systemic things. You talk about there`s a big discussion about the Academy, right? And, the Academy is one thing, but there`s is also like a who is in the room when you`re making the pitch, right? Who is reviewing the scripts? And, how much has that changed? RIDLEY: Unfortunately it has not changed a lot. And, when I started writing Fresh Prince of Bel Air and The Martin Show, that was the early mid `90s. We really thought, a lot of us -- people who look like me, we were sitting in a room as writers, as young writer producers, thinking 20 years from now there`s going to be so many stories that we`re going to have an opportunity to tell. So many things we`re going to do. And I look around and I feel alone. HAYES: Really? RIDLEY: Yes. And, that`s not right, because I have to be honest, I certainly think I`m a talented person, but I`m not that much more talented than other people. I don`t have that much more to say than other people. And it`s -- there are moments I leave at the end of the day, I`m thankful for the opportunity I have, but I look around, why is it this way still? And I don`t have a good answer and quite frankly there is no answer. There are only excuses at this point. HAYES: And, what I`ve found about television, which I think is kind of fascinating -- I always joke that there are three kinds of TV shows, there`s hits, intimations of hits, and failures. Like, that`s all there are. Right? Every once awhile there`s a hit. And then everyone`s like, well, let`s try that. RIDLEY: We need our that. And then we need our empire. Where`s our empire. HAYES: That`s exactly right. And then sometimes you can get caught in an updraft where a hit is made that does focus on stories by African American people and then it`s like, let`s do a bunch of those. And that`s going to last until, like, they start failing and then someone going to look for the next hit. RIDLEY: Absolutely. And then people, unfortunately, people start to blame that thought of, like, well, you know, shows with black people and music, they`re not into that. Let`s not do buddy buddy because they`re not into that. But, when you have the show like, as an example, Fresh Off the Boat, because it is the first show with Asian Americans at the center of it in about 20 years, there`s so much focus on that rather than is it just funny? Is it entertaining? Is it fresh and unique in some kind of perspective. HAYES: And then it becomes, in the minds of executives, it becomes essentially proof of concept test case. Like, right? Because then if it doesn`t work, you will hear someone in some meeting say, we did Fresh Off the Boat. And if someone comes in and says, well, I have a story, you know, about a Vietnamese nurse in Houston. It`s like, no, we did Fresh Off the Boat. RIDLEY: So, it is one of the things where it can be self-fulfilling prophesies as opposed to 80 percent of television that goes up it fails within the first two years. HAYES: That`s right. Most stuff fails. That`s the fact about culture. It`s a fact about restaurants, in fact. Capitalism. John Ridley. Great to have you, man. Always a pleasure. That is All In for this evening. The Rachel Maddow show starts right now. THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END