Show: ALL IN with CHRIS HAYES Date: August 7, 2017 Guest: Christina Greer, Keith Ellison, Gabe Sherman
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s going to be a lame duck Presidency already.
STEVE KORNACKI, MSNBC HOST: Caitlin very quick.
CAITLIN HUEY-BURNS, REAL CLEAR POLITICS NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER: (INAUDIBLE) Keeping close eye on retirements that might come out from members of Congress. We already saw a few that have announced for governor. Keep an eye on that because it`s an indication of mood.
KORNACKI: All right, Caitlin, Evan Tara, thank you. "ALL IN" with Chris Hayes starts right now.
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CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: Tonight, on ALL IN.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Hopefully you`ll be so proud of your President.
HAYES: 200 days in, a rage tweeting President tries to shore up his base.
KELLYANNE CONWAY, PRESIDENT TRUMP`S COUNSELOR: The approval rating among Republicans and Conservative Trump voters is down slightly. It needs to go up.
HAYES: Tonight why President Trump is lashing out amid reports his Vice President is already gunning for his job. And my interview with the Senator targeted in Trump`s Twitter tirade. Then -
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If he finds evidence of a crime, can he look that?
HAYES: The Deputy Attorney General`s public defense of the Mueller investigation. Plus, the FCC decision that could give the President access to a vast television empire.
BORIS EPSHTEYN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST FOR SINCLAIR BROADCASTING GROUP: And that`s the bottom line.
HAYES: And about that working vacation.
TRUMP: Everyone having a good time?
HAYES: When ALL IN starts right now.
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HAYES: Good evening from New York, I`m Chris Hayes. On the 200th day of his Presidency, on the collapse of his first major legislative effort, a cascade of staff shake-ups and new Chief of Staff installed to discipline the White House, the President of the United States kicked off the first full day of summer vacation with a long string of rage tweets. His approval rating now stands at 38 percent in Gallup`s Daily Tracking Poll, 33 percent in the latest Quinnipiac survey. So early this morning, the President tweeted "the Trump base is far bigger and stronger than ever before despite some phony fake news polling. Look at rallies in Penn, Ohio, Iowa and West Virginia. The facts is the fake news Russian collusion story, record stock market, border security, military strength, jobs, Supreme Court pick, economic enthusiasm, deregulation and so much more have driven the Trump base even closer together will never change."
Coming from the chief executive of the country of almost 330 million people, it`s a remarkable emission about who this President cares about, who he considers his true constituents. Even among his core supporters, however, there are real signs of erosion. In that Quinnipiac poll, for example, Republican enthusiasm, the president has fallen sharply. From 67 percent who strongly approved of his job performance last month down to a 43 percent today, a 14-point drop. Even the White House Counselor Kellyanne Conway who coined the term alternative facts acknowledged there`s a problem.
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CONWAY: His approval rating among Republicans and Conservative Trump voters is down slightly. It needs to go up. They are telling him, just enact your program. Don`t worry about Congress that isn`t supporting legislation to get big ticket items done and don`t worry about the all the distractions and diversions and discouragement that others who are still trying to throw logs in your path are throwing your way.
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HAYES: The President is concerned about shoring up his base comes just as he seems to be losing his grip on the Republican Lawmakers who have been increasingly willing to defy him in public. While the President has demanded the Senate try again on ObamaCare repeal before moving on to other business, Republican Orrin Hatch, Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee and a frequent defender of the administration responded we`re not going back to health care, we`re in tax now. As far as I`m concerned, they shot their wad on health care and that`s the way it is. Senators Office later explained that was an old-fashioned military metaphor.
Meanwhile, the New York Times reports that a number of high profile Republicans including notably the current Vice President of the United States have already begun a shadow campaign of 2020 amid new doubts of the President`s political future. The Vice President strenuously denied the Time`s conclusions calling the article disgraceful and offensive but he did not dispute any of its reporting on his recent political activity. It is no coincidence that those early rumblings have begun just as the Russian investigation seems to be accelerating. There are reports that Special Counsel Robert Mueller is now making use of a Washington, D.C. based Grand Jury. Democratic Senator Blumenthal responded to those reports in an interview this morning.
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SEN. RICHARD BLUMENTHAL (D), CONNECTICUT: There is no minimizing or underestimating that attack by Russia. It was purposeful and relentless and it involved propaganda and hacking into our voting machines or at least an attempt to do it and potential collusion by the Trump campaign and obstruction of justice. That investigation must be pursued.
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HAYES: Almost exactly ten minutes later the President tweeted interesting to watch Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut talking about hoax Russian collusion when he was a phony Vietnam con artist. Never in U.S. history has anyone lied or defrauded voters like Senator Blumenthal. He told stories about his Vietnam battles and conquests, how brave he was and it was all a lie. He cried like a baby and begged for forgiveness like a child and now he judges collusion? Now, much of that is untrue. Blumenthal was called several years ago misrepresenting his military service. He did serve in the Marine Reserves during the Vietnam Era after taking several military deferments but never saw combat overseas.
We should note the also President received multiple deferments but did not serve in the military despite coming of age during Vietnam years. Now, this afternoon, the President took one more shot at Blumenthal. (INAUDIBLE) "I think Senator Blumenthal should take a nice long vacation in Vietnam where he lied about his service so he can at least say he was there. And joining me now is Senator Richard Blumenthal, Democrat from Connecticut, Member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, your response to the President`stweets?
BLUMENTHAL: There is an ongoing Special Council investigation. It is real. It is based on real facts. That`s the issue that really matters and that`s where our focus. Should be national security and rule of law are at risk and those challenges ought to be where our attention goes. It really is not about me.
HAYES: I understand that and I understand why you`re saying that and it`s a substantive matter that I understand why you would - you would hold to that. As a human being, what is your reaction when the President of the United States goes on a rant about you?
BLUMENTHAL: I won`t be distracted by these bullying tweets. If anything, they strengthen my resolve and determination to work for protecting the Special Counsel against exactly these tactics of bullying and intimidating and that`s the reason that I have joined with two other Republicans and four of us Democrats in sponsoring bills that would protect the Special Counsel required judicial review. The three-judge panel who would have to find good cause, which is defined in the statute, before Donald Trump could fire Bob Mueller. And there are growing ominous threats, tweets and warnings that we`ve seen, the world has seen that we`re heading toward a collision between Bob Mueller and the President of the United States.
HAYES: Do tweets like today change your assessment of the President`s fitness for office?
BLUMENTHAL: My determination is to make sure that Special Counsel investigation which will uncover the truth about Russian meddling in our election, about potential Trump campaign collusion with it and the later allegations of obstruction of justice are fully uncovered. And the criminal charges are sought where appropriate. My opinions don`t matter as much as what facts are. There are real facts here and the Special Counsel has to uncover them. And his credibility and capacity to do this investigation are very much at stake. That`s one of the reasons why we want to send a message to Republicans for Democrats that this kind of constitutional crisis can be avoided and must be avoided and the investigation will continue.
HAYES: What makes you say, you say there is a collision course here? Obviously, there were signs the President was interested in getting rid of Jeff Sessions and he launched a similar kind of barrage of tweets and Jeff Sessions and kind of aggressively - passive aggressive fashion for about a week. He seems to have laid off there. Do you think the coast is clear?
BLUMENTHAL: The coast is by no means clear. He has drawn red lines around his financial dealings. He`s called the investigation a witch hunt and a hoax and he has said or tried to urge that other areas be declared out of bounds but the point is, nothing should be out of bounds for this Special Prosecutor in pursuing and uncovering the facts. And obviously he may well be reacting to what the Special Counsel is doing, assembling a team of highly expert and seasoned prosecutors, battle tested as well as now using a Grand Jury. And the Grand Jury affords some permanence and protection to the Special Counsel because it is an arm of the court. The President can take the extreme step and egregious step of trying to fire Bob Mueller but he can`t fire the Grand Jury and he can`t fire the District Court.
HAYES: I admire your discipline here. And I`m going to try to ask this one more way because I think a lot of people wake up to tweets like from the President of the United States and (INAUDIBLE) they`ve been an assessment of his character still find it shocking frankly. So I guess, do you understand why people see something like that. This volley of extremely mean-spirited aggressive and almost obsessive tweets, do you understand why people ask the question, what is wrong with this individual when they see tweets like that?
BLUMENTHAL: I understand a lot of the frustration and disappointment with the administration when I view policies on immigration. The failed health care proposal that was truly cruel and costly. The absence of an infrastructure plan which is a tragedy if we fail to take advantage of this opportunity as well as really important policies on tax reform and improving our health care, those challenges are where our focus should be along with the Special Counsel investigation. And I think that it is truly not about me, but about challenges this nation faces and has to address successfully.
HAYES: All right, Senator Richard Blumenthal, I appreciate your time tonight.
BLUMENTHAL: Thank you.
HAYES: I`m joined now by Jennifer Rubin, Conservative Columnist from the Washington Post and Lanhee Chen, a Research Fellow at Hoover Institution at Stanford University and Adviser to Mitt Romney and Marco Rubio`s Presidential Campaigns. Lanhee, let me start with you. The report in the New York Times about the shadow 2020 campaign was very interesting. The response from Mike Pence was of great umbrage and offense but the actual reporting that he has this super PAC vehicle, that he`s been raising money, that he goes to Iowa, all of that was not disputed. What do you make of that report?
LANHEE CHEN, THE HOOVER INSTITUTION AT STANFORD UNIVERSITY RESEARCH FELLOW: I think there are two sides to this, Chris. On the one hand, he`s got a constituency of one that he`s looking at which is the President of the United States. He`s got to be sure to make absolutely clear publicly what his position is. On the other hand, he is no fool. He understands the political circumstances that we`re in. He understands where we`re at in terms of the Russia investigation and potential problems that President may have going forward. So he is doing the prudent thing and that is investing in politically what his future might be with or without Donald Trump. So, I think we have to understand this through two different lenses and his response as fervent as it was, was clearly aimed at the President.
HAYES: Right. That was clear to me. And Jennifer it seems there`s - you know, there`s two kind of constituencies here the President has it keep his eye on. One is the base and one is the sort of the institutional Republican Party. So if Pence and others represent the institutional Republican Party, I thought Kellyanne Conway`s admission on a TV show that President`s approval rating among Trump voters was remarkable because she is not inclined to ever give an inch on that. And that to me said that they have a very keen eye on where that base is.
JENNIFER RUBIN, THE WASHINGTON POST CONSERVATIVE COLUMNIST: Yes, they do and they do have a problem. They have a problem not only in their overall numbers going down, they have a problem that even with the - in their base, they`re much less enthusiastic about the President. So I`m sure this is of concern to them. You know, it`s very interesting how sensitive the President is to anyone else who gets any amount of attention. Whether it is Steve Bannon, whether it`s his new Chief of Staff, whether it`s his Vice President, so it is a difficult task to assert oneself in this administration without getting knocked down to size.
That said, I think actually the most important thing that Mike Pence could do to prepare for 2020 would be to stay as far away from the independent - with the Special Prosecutor as possible. He shouldn`t comment on it, he shouldn`t attack, he may be President one day sooner than we think. And if anything on his, I think, focus should be on steering clear of that, doing his job, addressing policy issues, and yes he`s going to have to get out and do some politicking. But really the real danger for him is he gets immersed in this and then come, I don`t know, 2018, 2019, 2020, the two of them are then implicated and that would be disastrous for the party and for him personally.
HAYES: You know, the President Lanhee, was tweeting a lot about his record and there is one part about that that I think is true, right, which is the macroeconomic numbers are quite good. They`re - this is the first six months of Trump job creation which are almost exactly the same as job creation in the last six months of Obama but a million new jobs at it, the Dow is very high. There are these sort of broad macroeconomic indicators which the President is trumping and any President would because president`s get blamed when the economy is bad but it also is a reminder that these are his numbers when the economy is good and I wonder if you think that is in the back of the mind of the White House?
CHEN: It`s a big challenge. I mean, going forward if the economy hits any kind of difficulty and by the way, one measure that we haven`t seen much progress on is wage growth. We`re still seeing a large scale of wage stagnation particularly amongst middle-income people and working class Americans, people that might be in the Trump base. And you`re absolutely right, the concern that is, if the economy goes south, by the way, be the stock market is historically fickle. I don`t think anybody really wants to be claiming credit one way or the other for the stock market.
I get that it was irresistible for Presidents to do but at the end of the day, the stock market is a very fickle measure but if you look at wages, if you look at the growth of the economy, the growth our gross domestic product, if you look at the jobs numbers, all of these look fine now. The question is how are they going to look if they begin to turn south particularly in the wage front that I said earlier. So, this is a very difficult situation and all of these Trump voters, the people who supported the President, their biggest issue is going to be the economy. The manager of that economy is going to be critical.
HAYES: Well, that`s - that`s the question I think for you, Jennifer is ultimately you know, this bedrock - the bedrock question of whether people feel like they`re doing better or not is going to be about to some extent the material conditions and in some sense, they`re sense of whether the President is looking out for them. I wonder what you think ultimately wins out in the end.
RUBIN: I think there is a reality that is beginning to set in that is, he is not doing very much for them. The fact that stock market is going gang busters is not really of much consequence to the guy in a rust belt town who thought Donald Trump would was going to bring back the steel industry or coal industry or whatever else he promised. So, this was a guy who tried to take away their health care, this is a guy whose trade policies are going to hurt rural America because agriculture exports are essential for them. They haven`t seen an infrastructure bill. They haven`t seen much at all. So at some point, these voters do say as voters are always want to say, what about me? What have you done for me lately? And to the extent he does not do that and does not deliver, there will be a diminishment of enthusiasm for him.
HAYES: Lanhee, do you anticipate that Republicans in the sort of upper echelon of the donor class will continue a kind of game of hedging behind the scenes about what is going to happen should the President get into serious trouble?
CHEN: I don`t see why they wouldn`t. I mean, donors are notorious for hedging their bets in less volatile political situations than this one. So it wouldn`t surprise me at all if they are trying to think at the back of their minds, what are we doing as we go towards 2020? The big bell weather is going to be what happens in 2018. If Republicans get pasted, if they don`t do particularly well at the ballot box in November of 2018, that`s going to send a lot of these donors s running and those that place their bets earlier are going to be in a better position than those that placed them later.
HAYES: All right, Jennifer Rubin and Lanhee Chen, thank you both.
Still ahead, why Trump TV is coming into your home, whether you like it or not inside the FCC`s controversial decision on Sinclair Broadcasting coming up. But first, one of the key figures in the Russia investigation breaks his silence on the Special Prosecutor, next.
HAYES: Arguably the most crucial figure in the unfolding Russia investigation isn`t Special Counsel Robert Mueller but the man who has the power to fire him. That would be the Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein who also happens to be the man who hired him. And yesterday, Rosenstein appeared on television and answered questions about whether he agreed there were red lines that Mueller`s investigation should not cross.
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ROD ROSENSTEIN, DEPUTY ATTORNEY GENERAL: The Special Counsel is subject to the rules and regulations of the Department of Justice and we don`t engage in fishing expeditions.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In the course of his investigation of the issues that he is looking at if he finds evidence of a crime, can he look that?
ROSENSTEIN: If he finds evidence of a crime that`s within the scope of what Director Mueller and I have agreed is the appropriate scope of the investigation, then he can. If it`s something outside that scope, he needs to come to the Acting Attorney General at this time, me, for permission to expand his investigation.
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HAYES: Joining me now, Nick Akerman, former Assistant Special Watergate Prosecutor and former U.S. Attorney for Southern District of New York and MSNBC Terrorism Analyst Malcolm Nance, Author of the Plot to Hack America. What do you make of that response?
NICK AKERMAN, FORMER ASSISTANT SPECIAL WATERGATE PROSECUTOR: I think it just shows how broad this investigation is. If you look at the Justice Department guidelines that set up the Mueller Special Counsel, I mean, it really gives him incredibly broad power. It talks about anybody who is involved in the collusion with the Russians between Russians and Trump campaign but then goes on to say anything arising out of that directly arising out of that investigation. So, wherever this investigation takes them, he`s pretty much going to be able to go there. I mean, you`re not going to have a situation like he did with Ken Starr, where and all of a sudden there`s a Monica Lewinski shows up, which has nothing to do with what they were investigating in the first place. But if you just take exactly what they have, there is a lot of ground to cover.
HAYES: The question I have for you Malcolm is about the time line here and it`s something that you`ve spoken about before, about the way that the sort of threshold, the evidentiary threshold in the intelligence versus the evidentiary threshold in the U.S. Court, which is are quite different, and the latter could take a lot more time in terms of working through something that you could bring before court.
MALCOLM NANCE, MSNBC TERRORISM ANALYST: You`re right. And John Brennan said this in testimony before Congress. He said, I`m not in the evidence business, I`m in the intelligence business, which is absolutely correct. You know, Trey Gowdy -
HAYES: You should read that in a lot of different ways, by the way.
NANCE: Well, it`s true. But you know, Trey Gowdy which tried to goad him into saying, what is the evidence that you have? And people are actually arguing today that well, there`s no evidence. Intelligence is data points of information which may be come from a myriad of desparic points, that, until they are in the hands of someone like my associate here, Nick, is not evidence.
NANCE: It`s within the constellation of information and once it`s in Justice Department`s hands and they work it up as part of a case, then it becomes evidence.
HAYES: Well, but then there`s a - there`s a constitutional bar that you have to cross here which we`ve seen at the beginning of that process of the Grand Jury, right, because that`s part of the sort of procedure that you meet these evidentiary thresholds. But here`s also this question of time. I mean, I think that`s in the front line now for everyone is. Are we looking at two months, 12months, 18 months, what - and to have this hanging over everyone it`s almost intolerable to all different sides of the political spectrum.
AKERMAN: It took two years from the appointment of Archibald Cox, who was the Watergate Special Prosecutor until Nixon resigned. So, I mean, the criminal system and criminal justice system and investigative process take a lot of time. If I had to compare this entire investigation to anything that I had done in the past, it really comes down to these Mafia investigations where I would be investigating organized crime, bosses, trying to figure out who the legitimate businessmen supposedly were that were involved with them.
I mean, there you had very long investigations, you had individuals with long relationships with the individuals that were being investigated. And these are not one-shot crimes with people who just come in and out. I mean, it`s very much like we have here. You got Donald Trump going back to 1980s with the Russians. The Russians are very much like the Mafia. You`ve got people who`ve been in there for a long time. Look at Putin, I mean, he is somebody who has risen up from the KBG, it`s kind of like the capo di tutti capo.
AKERMAN: And you`ve got all of these other people that are around him and then you get to the G-9 meeting and who shows up but the people who brought Trump in in the first place back with the Miss Universe Pageant.
HAYES: Not only - not only that that, you have and we saw this in that meeting, right. You have ways if operating that have been developed for the - explicitly for the purpose of plausible deniability for dual meanings to every - I mean, when you talk about organized crime and in fact in Russia there`s quite a connection between the state and organized crime are in many nations. But that`s what the issue.
NANCE: Vladimir Putin made his bones using the ex-KGB to reign in the St. Petersburg Mafia and then weaponize them as a component of the state up until this day. He knows how to run an organized crime ring. But can I just call attention to the fact that you know, Special Counsel Mueller has brought in some of the top organized crime and criminal financial squad of experts in the history of the United States? 16 of them and only one specialist in counterintelligence, which means -
HAYES: That`s fascinating. Right, which means what?
NANCE: Which means that he is going to find out, just any of these links, any of these relationships related to finance were they originated as part of a Russian intelligence operation does, are they marionette puppets of the Kremlin.
HAYES: But now to go back to your point is I remember growing up in New York City in the 1980s where there were always these big high profile Mafia trials, right?
HAYES: And a lot of them resulted in acquittals.
AKERMAN: Not all of them. No.
HAYES: No, but -
AKERMAN: There are few.
HAYES: But pointing they are hard cases to make.
AKERMAN: They are.
HAYES: A bunch of reasons precisely because the mechanisms by which these operations are run are precisely run to avoid detection and to sort of conviction.
AKERMAN: You have to be very creative to convict these people. I mean, using the racketeering statutes, being able to put a lot of cooperating witnesses together. When I was an assistant, I was able to convict Fonzitere who was the boss of the Genovese family in the capo di tutti capo. I mean, you have to really go out and be very creative to do this and you`ve got the same thing here. Look at Donald Trump, Felix Sater, he was involved with the Russian mob and the Italian mob.
HAYES: Let me just say this. For the record, it`s the same thing here. We are talking about people who have not been charged with any crime, they have not been indicted. They are American citizens who are innocent until proven guilty, thank God under the constitutional system.
HAYES: Just to make that clear.
NANCE: Absolutely. You shift from intelligence, this counter intelligence investigation, this spy hunt which is where this operation started. With the FISA Warrant looking for somebody who`s in direct communication, continuous communication with Russian intelligence. That can be worked out for a very long time before you pass on and start doing the RICO Act type operations against them in the Justice Department.?
HAYES: And you have now Michael Flynn information being sought about him from the White House which is also I think an indicator of which where things are going. Nick Akerman and Malcolm Nance, thank you, both gentleman.
AKERMAN: Thank you.
HAYES: Still ahead, the controversial decision to allow a conservative take over for a local television news. How the FCC got to the brink of creating a pro-Trump monopoly, next.
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The bottom line is this. General Kelly will bring more organization and precision into the White House. Having said that, he is not coming in to revamp the Trump Presidency but to unleash the full potential of it.
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HAYES: That was former Trump Campaign Senior Adviser Boris Epshteyn, who now has a job as Chief Political Analyst at a powerful media entity that has largely flown under the radar. Sinclair Broadcast Group is the Nation`s largest TV broadcaster and owns more than 170 local TV stations around the country. If you live in say, Scranton, Pennsylvania or Syracuse, New York, three of your local stations are owned by Sinclair. And they take a pretty hands-on approach. Boris Epshteyn`s segments with their decidedly pro-Trump administration spin are designated as must-run when they`re distributed to all of those 170 stations.
Meaning those stations must include them in their local news broadcast, and they are. Sinclair also makes its stations run scare mongering terrorist alert desk segments which often feature stories of questionable news value. During the campaign, its station is a package that suggest in part that voters should not support Hillary Clinton because the Democratic Party was historically pro slavery. Sinclair also sends out packages on the news of the day often with a pro Trump spin for local news anchor who read word for word as noted on the recent addition of Last Week Tonight with John Oliver.
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UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Did the FBI have a personal vendetta in pursuing the Russia investigation of President Trump`s former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Did the FBI have a personal vendetta in pursuing the Russia investigation of President Trump`s former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did the FBI have a personal vendetta -
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: - in pursuing the Russia investigation of -
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: - President Trump`s former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Sinclair`s Vice President of News Scott Livingston cast its coverage as a corrected to mainstream media bias.
SCOTT LIVINGSTON, SINCLAIR BROADCASTING GROUP VICE PRESIDENT OF NEWS: I`m sure you know about the troubling trend of irresponsible and one-side news stories plaguing our country. The sharing of bias and false news has become all too common on social media. More alarming, national media outlets are publishing these fake news stories without fact checking.
Unfortunately, some members of the national media are using their platforms to push their own personal bias and agenda to control exactly what people think. This is extremely dangerous to our democracy.
(EDN VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Now, it would be one thing if Sinclair was up front about its own personal agenda and bias, but most viewers don`t know whether Sinclair owns their local station or if their local anchors are being forced reading to what amounts to pro-Trump propaganda between the sports and the weather.
Now, the Trump administration is poised to reward Sinclair by changing FCC regulations to allow the company to own more stations. That is next.
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have a message for certain students. Listen up closely, snowflake. Yes, I`m talking to you, you, the social justice warning who whines for trigger warnings and safe spaces, college isn`t baby sitting service. It`s time to grow up, snowflake.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: OK. That`s a taste of what you might have seen on your local news, at least if your local news station is owned by Sinclair Broadcasting, a relatively obscure media behemoth that unbeknownst to most of its viewers insists its stations run these right-leaning commentaries and news packages.
Now, Sinclair already owns more than 170 stations in 81 markets, covering an estimated 38 percent of U.S. households and it wants to get bigger.
A proposed $3.9 billion deal to buy Tribune Media would give Sinclair another 42 stations and ability to reach 72 percent of U.S. households. Now, that level of dominance of the airwaves by a single company is supposed to be outside the bounds of the law. But this spring, President Trump`s very pro-business FCC chairman, Republican Ajit Pai invoked a controversial loophole in the law that would allow the deal to go through. And now, despite heated opposition, the deal is widely expected to be improved.
Joining me now, MSNBC media analyst Gabe Sherman, social correspondent for Vanity Fair.
So, I want to start with the -- just how people know whether they are watching a Sinclair station, which is that -- I mean, how do they know?
GABE SHERMAN, VANITY FAIR: The truth is, they don`t. I mean, Sinclair owns affiliates all over the country affiliated with the big networks. And if you are watching your local ABC, NBC or Fox affiliate in a market you may have no idea that the corporate owner of this network has a political point of view. Sinclair does not brand its networks. We are -- like Fox News would say, we are a conservative network where Fox News, the viewers would know that. Sinclair does not market itself as the owner of these networks.
HAYES: Yeah, and there is a difference between local affiliates -- I mean, when I grew up in New York I would think of the network as the association, right?
HAYES: But outside of the major markets like you could watching ABC in one market that is Sinclair owned and NBC in another, or CBS in another, and they`re just owned by Sinclair, that those numbers -- those letters don`t really mean anything in terms of the news program.
SHERMAN: Of course. And that is really why this is such a sea change possibly in the American media landscape where you have ideologically predisposed company that could push its message behind the curtain of objective news.
I mean, this also we should just put in the context of a generational quest by Republicans to change the media landscape in their favor going back to 1987 when Ronald Reagan FCC -- Ronald Reagan`s FCC repealed the fairness doctrine, which allows one point of view, which gave raise to talk radio. We are seeing the rise of potentially right wing broadcasting in television.
HAYES: Sort of a talk radioization of local news.
HAYES: And how -- I mean, controversial is the approval of the deal itself?
SHERMAN: Well, you talk to people in the media industry whether or not they are ideologically aligned with Sinclair and they say this is very controversial. And in fact Rupert Murdoch has now made overtures for Fox to acquire more local stations because they don`t want a corporate competitor like Sinclair to be competing with them.
You know, there used to be laws in place that prevented the corporate overlords to buy up all the local markets, because you did not want to have a homogeneous point of view. And now that these regulations are being repealed there is nothing to say that NBC or Comcast could go and buy up local stations.
HAYES: Yeah, we should be clear that part of that deregulation was the Telecommunications Act under President Bill Clinton, which allowed multiple outlets in markets to be owned.
There is also -- I mean, it seems like there is a little bit, at least, a faint whiff of quid pro quo here.
SHERMAN: Well, this is -- you know, I`ve been thinking about this a lot today. You know, this is in a certain way the definition of the swamp that Donald Trump wanted to change when he came to office. You know, Sinclair is pushing pro-Trump segments. They hired one of his former campaign staffers, Boris Epstein, and now the Trump White House is passing regulation to favor their media ally.
I mean, this is, you know, a sort of symbiotic relationship that should be, anyone who is on the position of being against crony capitalism, they should not reward this behavior.
HAYES: Yeah. We should note that decision, the final decision has not been made. There are still public comments that you can make on the FCC`s website one way or another. And then there will be responses. So, the decision is not yet made, although a lot of people placing their bets it will be approved.
Gabe Sherman, thank you.
SHERMAN: Thank you.
HAYES: Coming up, good news and bad news for Democrats with eyes on taking back the House in 2018. Congressman Keith Ellison on the state of play ahead.
But first, what a working vacation really looks like in tonight`s Thing 1 Thing 2 next.
HAYES: Thing 1 tonight, meetings and calls. The President is spending 17 days at the golf club he owns in Bedminster, New Jersey. The President had to vacate the White House during these two weeks for preplanned renovations.
It is not at all abnormal for a President to vacation in August. President Obama vacationed in Martha`s vineyard every August, except during his 2012 re-election campaign.
Now, President Trump really does not want to admit this is a vacation. Tweeting on Saturday, "This is not a vacation, meetings and calls."
Dan Scavino,the President`s social media director and, fun fact, his former golf caddy, is helping reinforce the President`s hard work at the golf course.
"Rainy day at summer White House in Bedminster, New Jersey. #TeamTrump keeping very busy working with @POTUS @realDonaldTrump to #MAGA", along with the photo of a rainy golf course.
Just another day of meetings and calls on this non vacation, right?
There would be no way to know if it weren`t for the members and visitors of Trump`s golf club and their copious social media accounts.
President Trump doing exactly what his golf club advertised he would do. That`s thing 2 in 60 seconds. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
HAYES: When the New York Times profiled President Trump`s golf course in Bedminster, New Jersey for the style section in June, this nugget on weddings held at the club stuck out.
"When I was there I was given a marketing brochure that made the following pledge. If he is on site for your big day, he will likely stop in and congratulate the happy couple. He may take some photos with you, but we ask you and your guests to be respectful of his time and privacy".
A spokeswoman for the club says the brochure has been discontinued. Advertised or not, by now, everyone knows the President crashing your wedding is a feature. He has done it before at Trump properties, so naturally photos and videos popped up this weekend of President Trump taking time away from meetings and calls to greet paying customers.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Everyone`s been cleared.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Is my star doing a good job for you all over here? Where is the bride and groom?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They`re off taking pictures, but maybe later.
TRUMP: Well I`ll be right over here. Everyone having a good time?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Having a great time. Beautiful course.
(END VIDEO CLIP) . HAYES: There`s good news and bad news for Democrats in the mid term elections.
President Trump`s approval ratings are hovering around historic lows, hitting 38% in the Gallup tracking poll, with 57% disapproval.
In this year`s special elections, Georgia, Kansas, South Carolina and Montana, Democrats beat past performance and expectations, and in various state races Democrats are winning seats previously considered bright red.
Last month Democrats won two state legislative seats in Oklahoma, a state where Donald Trump beat Hillary Clinton by more than 36 points.
In May a former Bernie Sanders delegate won a New York State Assembly seat in pro Trump district, and in traditionally Republican New Hampshire district elected a Democrat for State House for the first time ever according to the state Democratic party.
That`s all good news for Democrats. The bad news about next year`s election? Well, to quote Dave Wasserman at FiveThirtyEight today, "even if Democrats were to win every single 2018 House and Senate race for seats representing places that Hillary Clinton won or that Trump won by less than 3 percentage points, they could still fall short of House majority and lose five Senate seats."
How on earth that math is possible, next.
HAYES: While Donald Trump`s low approval ratings could hurt Republicans in 2018, there are more than a few factors working against Democrats in the 2018 midterm elections. Chief among those is the simple reality of the election map. In the Senate, 23 Democratic seats, as well as two belong to Independents who caucus with Democrats will be up for grabs.
Ten of the seats come from states that voted for the President last year. In contrast, only eight Republicans total will be on the ballot. And of those, only Deen Heller in Nevada represents a state won by Hillary Clinton.
The Senate favors sparsely populated rural states over densely populated urban ones. Every state gets two Senators regardless of the population.
In the Senate, Wyoming`s not even 600, 000 people have the same weight as California`s more than 39 million people.
So, if the Democrats cluster in those highly urban, densely populated states, they wind up with less representation in the U.S. Senate.
All of that left led one political watcher to tell Business Insider, quote, "If the Democrats avoid a net loss that would be a significant victory and Republicans can make a small Senate gain even under poor conditions next year."
Joining me now, Congressman Keith Ellison from Minnesota, he`s the Deputy Chair of the Democratic National Committee, and Christina Greer, Associate Professor of Political Science at Fordham University who tweeted about attending gerrymandering camp today, which I`m going to ask you about in a moment.
I`m going to start with you, congressman. Before I get to the topic at hand, I do want to ask about the bombing of a mosque in Bloomington, Minnesota which is adjacent to your district.
The governor has called it an act of terrorism. The White House has said the President is being briefed on it. I want to know if the President has reached out to you or to your knowledge anyone in Minnesota about that attack.
KEITH ELLISON, DEMOCRATIC NATIONAL COMMITTEE: No, the President has not reached out at all. We`re looking forward to hearing from him.
The fact is that when leaders stand silent when people are targets of terrorists attacks, that in the minds of some may be interpreted at condoning that, and so we definitely am looking forward to the President condemning this cowardly act of terrorism against religious institution of mosque.
I was there yesterday, Governor Dayton has responded with tremendous leadership, along with representatives Omar and representative Carlson and Mayor Gene Winston, who is a Republican by the way has been on hand and has been wonderful.
There`s been a spike in anti-Muslim hate and hate crimes. It`s not just this incident but for the whole rash of anti-Muslim hatred that`s been happening under the Trump administration`s watch, it is important for the President to make it clear that he does not approve of this.
HAYES: Let me segue off of that -- I should note that as far as I know no one was injured in that attack.
ELLISON: Nobody was physically injured but there`s a psychological and emotional damage that`s been inflicted.
HAYES: I want to ask a related question which is about how the Democrats work on this map. In places where the various parts of the very diverse base that constitute the Democratic party are not necessarily present.
So, Democrats won by 3 million votes in the popular election but if they want to take back the House and the Senate they`ve got to win in lots of places that are not rich with the kind of voters that tend to vote heavy Democratic.
What is your read on how the party goes about doing that?
ELLISON: The Democratic party has to compete in every single precinct in the United States by talking about the core issues that affect people and going door to door and going directly to people and delivering that message that we`re the party who believes you should be able to go to the doctor when you`re sick. They don`t believe it.
We`re the party that believes we need to do something about climate. They`re pulling out of the Paris Climate Accord.
We`re the people who believe we need good jobs and increasing in the minimum wage. They`re against that. They`re the ones who want to give tax break to big corporations. We believe working people need a break.
So the bottom line is that what we`re talking about sells every single inch of this country, but what we`ve got to do is what we`ve been doing this summer. We have a program called Resistance Summer, which puts canvassing all over the map in the United States and where the Democrats are telling the story to Americans everywhere all of the time.
So we`ve been able to be active in New Hampshire recently. Oklahoma, we`ve been active and on the ground winning local and state seats which is where we`ve really got to win.
So, I feel the real secret sauce of the Democratic party is got to be activism, Grassroots engagement, up front relationship building.
HAYES: So, Christina, you`re at gerrymandering camp and one of the obstacles despite however well you want to make campus and however persuasive one might be, is the nature of House districts (inaudible), what are you learning about how big a structural impediment the current constitution of those districts is?
CHRISTINA GREER, FORHAM UNIVERSITY: This is -- you know, this is the new frontier and obviously something we need to be vigilant about. Local and State House races, especially State Houses are incredibly important because they`re the ones after the census, they`re the ones that get to decide how we redraw the districts.
It`s not just about going door to door and making sure that we galvanize everyone, it`s also making sure we have people in the pipeline so that they`re ready to run for these offices in the State House.
It`s clear that black women, as Jason Johnson who`s a friend of the show has said many times before, black women are the kryptonite to the Republican Party, and so it would behoove the Democratic Party to cultivate black women as not just voters but also as candidates so they can win some of these seats because these are the elected officials who can decide how the districts get redrawn.
HAYES: There`s a lot of districts Democrats are going to have to win that are overwhelmingly White.
I mean there`s places where in order to flip the house, right, that you`re talking about huge swaths of districts that are 90% white, 92% white where obviously turn out of people of color and leadership and political engagement people of color is crucial.
But the way the map works and the way that sort of racial geographic segregation of America works, there`s these districts that the Democrats -- a nut they have to crack, right?
GREER: Right, and I think we have to look at partisan gerrymandering we`re looking at racialized gerrymandering, but we also have to recognize that yes, if this is a majority White country , then let`s actually cultivate some talent. Either younger talent, female talent. Because right now the Democrats are chasing this white working class male voter that in many ways is like the Loch Ness monster.
You know, they have left in a lot of ways, so we need to figure out another strategy to recapture some of these State Houses. If not, in 2020 when the census is taken again and in 2021 and 2022 when the State Houses have the opportunity to redraw the districts, the Democrats will be yet again be left out in the cold and even worse than it was after the 2010 census.
HAYES: Alright, Congressmen Keith Ellison and --
ELLISON: You know, Chris, I would have to say that I agree with much of what was said but I would disagree that the Democratic party is chasing white male voters.
We`re chasing candidates who can speak to the economic realities of the people who live near them, their voters, and some of those people may not be the same race as the people who are the majority who live there. And so we`ve got to get people who can speak authentically about the fact that so many people are just struggling to get food on the table in this economy. And of course we need black women candidates. I`m all in favor of that and want to promote that. But we`ve got to get candidates who can really address the serious problems everywhere, all across this country, whether it`s in Detroit, Minneapolis, or in Western Ohio and Appalachia.
HAYES: All right, Congressman Keith Ellison, Christina Greer, thank you for joining me.
That is All In for this evening. The Rachel Maddow Show starts now with Joy Reid in for Rachel. Good evening, Joy.
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