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Melissa Harris-Perry, Transcript 11/01/15

Guests: Wes Lowery; Ras Baraka; Joo-Hyuan Kang; Phillip Atiba Goff; EugeneO`Donnell; Clay Cane; John Opdycke, Cristina Beltran, Susan Del Percio,Diane Horvath-Cosper, Shana Knizhnik

MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY, MSNBC HOST: This morning, my question -- just how notorious is RBG? Plus, the GOP establishment strikes back. And, playing politics with the police. But first, President Obama refutes the so-called Ferguson effect. Good morning, I`m Melissa Harris-Perry. And it is a decade-long trend that`s baffled researchers` attempts to explain it. Certainly around 1993, the violent crime rates in the United States started to fall, and continue to falling, on and on until two decades later, the crime rate has dropped by almost half. But what may be more remarkable even than this dramatic decline is the explanation. Because the answer is that no one exactly knows why it happened. There are a lot of theories floating around, everything from an aging population to declining alcohol consumption, to a decrease in children`s exposure to lead. But the cold, hard numbers, one single data point that says this is the answer -- well, that just doesn`t exist. Turns out it is just not that easy to take something like the crime rate, a phenomenon that is likely driven by a complex and overlapping effecters and distill it down to one theory of everything. And the same thing holds true for more recent turn in that decades-old trend. As reported in August by "The New York Times," over the last year, some U.S. cities that seen their murder rates increase. In major cities like Milwaukee, St. Louis, Baltimore, Washington and New Orleans, the number of murders as of August of this year had already surpassed the numbers recorded the same period last year. The uptick in murders in these cities is unquestionably troubling. And the urgent need to stem the tide of violence has prompted political and law enforcement leaders to ask again, why? Why is this happening? And the answer again is -- we don`t have a precise answer. Because we don`t have all the data. Not that an absence of concrete facts has ever stopped anyone from jumping to a conclusion, especially when some of the cities that have experienced the highest increase in murders are also cities that experienced social unrest in the wake of police violence against unarmed African-Americans. It is the kind of coincidence researchers like to keep in mind with the old adage that, of course, correlation does not equal causation. In other words, two related events that occur at the same time do not necessarily mean that one thing is causing the other to happen. But it`s that coincidence which has prompted speculation about the so-called Ferguson effect. By now you`ve heard of the idea that increased scrutiny of people violence has led to more aggressive policing and in turn more aggressive criminals. So far there`s no data to conclusively confirm that the Ferguson effect is an actual thing, but the idea is starting to catch hold. Earlier this month Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel fleeted the theory to explain the spike in homicides in his own city, and then FBI director Jim Comey co-signed it starting with an address at the university of Chicago law school last Friday. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JAMES COMEY, DIRECTOR, FBI: In today`s You Tube world our officers reluctant to get out of their cars and do the work that controls violent crime. Our officers answering 911 calls but avoiding the informal contact that keeps bad guys from standing around especially with guns. The suggestion, the question, that`s been asked of me is, are these kinds of things changing police behavior all over the country? I do have a strong sense that some part of the explanation is a chill wind that`s blown through law enforcement over the last year, and that wind is surely changing behavior. (END VIDEO CLIP) HARRIS-PERRY: So let`s just catch this for a seconds. Because Comey`s implication was the equivalent of a record scratch to the Obama administration which has sought to balance a message of support for police with action to enforce police accountability. You see, his remarks certainly seem to have landed like by a lead balloon at the justice department because according to the "New York Times," he quote "caught officials by surprise" and quote "several officials privately fumed at Mr. Comey`s suggestion." And by Monday, the "Times" reported that the DOJ and the White House were just plain angry at what they saw as Comey undermining the administration`s policies on criminal justice. For his part, Comey, who President Obama hand-picked partly because of his reputation for standing up to presidents, stayed true to form. He doubled down on his comments in another speech on Monday before a gathering of law enforcement leaders at the international association of chiefs of police annual convention. President Obama was scheduled to speak before that same audience of police chiefs just a day later. And Comey`s unwavering conviction had set the stage for a moment of delicious anticipation. With the president channel the frustrations of his administration and come straight at Comey`s comments? Yes. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: What we can`t do is cherry- pick data or use anecdotal evidence to drive policy or to feed political agendas. If we stick with the facts and we maintain effective coordination across federal, state and local agencies, then we are going to continue the hard-fought progress that you and so many law enforcement officers have made over the past two decades. That saves lives. And keeps families intact. (END VIDEO CLIP) HARRIS-PERRY: See, no data cherry-picking. And amid unsubstantiated theories flying all over the place the president grounded his analysis in empirical evidence. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) OBAMA: It is true that in some cities, including here in my hometown of Chicago, gun violence and homicides have spiked. And in some cases they spiked significantly. But the fact is that, at least so far across the nation, data shows that we are still enjoying historically low rates of violent crime. (END VIDEO CLIP) HARRIS-PERRY: So once he got that out of the way, President Obama did something more than just stick to the facts. He also acknowledged that there is a place for experience that acknowledges the human interaction behind the statistics. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) OBAMA: But, you know as well as I do that the tensions in some communities, the feeling that law enforcement isn`t always applied fairly, those sentiments don`t just come out of nowhere. I mean there`s a long history here in this country. It`s not something that any individual person here is responsible for. But we all have a responsibility to do something about it because it`s part of our legacy. (END VIDEO CLIP) HARRIS-PERRY: And that message that the collective experience of American citizens matters when those experiences tell a story of profound injustice is especially powerful. Coming from this president when the experiences of those citizens are among his own. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) OBAMA: There were times when I was younger -- and maybe even as I got a little older but before I had a motorcade -- where I got pulled over and I confessed. I told Chief Beck, most of the time I got a ticket, I deserved it. I knew why I was pulled over. But there were times where I didn`t. (END VIDEO CLIP) HARRIS-PERRY: Joining me now is Phillip Atiba Goff, president of the center for policing equity. And from Chicago, Eugene O`Donnell, former New York police officer and professor of law and police studies at John Jay College. Thank you both for being here. Phillip, I want to start with you because it feels like the president was crystal clear about not cherry-picking data. So talk to me about what data we would need to have in order to begin to understand what is actually going on in cities where we have seen an increase in the number of homicides. PHILLIP ATIBA GOFF, PROFESSOR, SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGY, UCLA: OK. So it`s hard to know where to begin but let me begin with this. Part of the assertion of the way the Ferguson effect is existing in the culture right now is incredibly infantilizing to black and brown communities. And the reason is because it suggests that the only reason people aren`t committing crimes is because police officers are out there catching them. There is no data to suggest that has ever been the case. Never, ever, never not once. So part of the data would be demonstrating that police behavior doesn`t just respond to crimes, but that it reduces it. Now, some work David Weisberg (ph) and others shows hotspot policing can in fact disperse crime which ultimately brings it down a little bit. But there is the second part which drives me to distraction, shall I say, which is that the comments -- the worst case comments of the Ferguson effect suggest that be law enforcement somehow are too cowardly, too afraid to go where they are told to go. So a hotspot policing is -- they call it cops on dots. You get a map, they says here is where bad things are happening. You go there. That`s the most rudimentary form of it. Law enforcement are going and doing that in every city. There is truth to the idea that law enforcement experience, a sense of erosion of trust in the community and that that has a profound effect in how they think about their jobs and how they relate to people. But the idea that, one, they`re not going where they`re told because somehow they are so craven is an insult to law enforcement everywhere. And two that people in black and brown communities are just itching to go do a crime until they see a batch? That makes assertions that prey on people`s fears. HARRIS-PERRY: So Eugene, let me come to you exactly on that because, you know, I think he`s laid out exactly sort of - I mean, there is a variety of things that I find distressing about this Ferguson effect, but that latter one is the one I want to talk to you about. The idea that it not only infantilizing communities but also police officers saying that these men and women who we knew take tremendous courage to do the work that they do on a daily basis are suddenly so afraid of iPhones and of You Tube that they are now unwilling to intervene in meaningful ways in the communities where they`re asked to police. EUGENE O`DONNELL, PROFESSOR, JOHN JAY COLLEGE: Well, it is a real issue. I mean, tying homicides is a little bit of a stretch. But the cops are concerned that their job is now being portrayed in a way that`s problematic, that the work that they do which involves really being in conflict with people, using force, that somehow if they`re captured on video with something that appears to be bad that the political establishment will throw them overboard. I think the most important news we`ve done this on your show numerous times in the last year is the police mission. The tremendous amount of (INAUDIBLE) of policing going on in the country where police are simply used for everything. They use to go after deadbeat dads, cigarette sellers, classroom management in South Carolina, to raise revenue in Ferguson. So the mission needs to be defined. Before we get in what we seem to be going on this in some ways I get we should do it simultaneously. We`re doing it backwards a little bit or upside down, if you will. We need to be saying what is the right role for the police in America and obviously clearly over the last year we haven`t seen desperados coming in contact with the police and bad endings for those people. We`re seeing ordinary people coming in contact with the police and that is the conversation we need to have. There`s political dysfunction. There`s overuse of the police. And this is the root of some of the dramatic video that captures all the attention. Poor policy decisions. Bad politics. GOFF: So, Gene, I just want to pick up on something that you said in there. And I want to make sure that we don`t gloss over it, which is that it is a real experience that there are law enforcement that are concerned about doing their job in a new media landscape. But the connection to homicide, that`s a little bit iffy. It`s really important to get that that`s more than iffy. Because the idea that something has gone on and now there is a danger that`s coming from black communities, it`s coming to kill you, is one that politicians have used for generations to do bad to law enforcement and bad in black communities when there have been no data to suggest it whatsoever. HARRIS-PERRY: In fact, I have to say for me some of the most striking data seem to demonstrate exactly the opposite of a Ferguson effect. We know for example that in St. Louis, if we`re going to call it a Ferguson expect, if there is a hotspot, it ought to be in St. Louis, right? GOFF: Ferguson, right? HARRIS-PERRY: But that the number of murders actually begin to rise prior to the death of Michael Brown, prior to the protests that occurred there. And just by definition, something that happens after cannot cause something that happened before. GOFF: That`s exactly right. So there`s nothing to suggest that in these communities where law enforcement might feel under siege that they are not doing their jobs, and, further, that not doing their jobs leads to higher rates of murder. About a year ago I came on this show and I said one of the things that`s most concerning to me is that we`re going to get to a point where maturity and subtly and nuance are going done required. We are at that point. There`s a story that Chuck Ramsey told me when we were on a panel together where he went to the bedside of an officers who had been shot. It is a deep graze right by his right eye. And he said what happened? And the officer said the first thing is I saw the man with the gun and then I thought about Ferguson. I hesitated. That`s real. That`s scary. But he went. He was there. He fought crime. He did the most noble thing that men and women in law enforcement can do. And so, while it is real that law enforcement is at an unprecedented height of scrutiny, and while accountability and change is incredibly scary for people who are putting their lives often the line to keep all of us safe, while all of that is real, let`s be sure when we go a little bit off reservation, right? That we`re easily brought back. Because what I don`t want to see happen is I don`t want the scare tactics of the scary black folks and scary brown folks to become a political football that anybody grants any more legitimacy than the crazies who are saying it. HARRIS-PERRY: All right. So stick with us, Gene. Stick with me. Much more on this and there are more voices, in fact, to bring into this discussion, including the man who President Obama`s going to visit tomorrow to discuss criminal justice reform. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) HARRIS-PERRY: President Obama has made criminal justice reform one of the hall marks of his second term. Over the course of the past few months he has met with top-ranking law enforcement as well as inmates and corrections officers. And tomorrow he will be in New Jersey to continue his campaign for reform as he explained in his media address this week. Joining the conversation now, Joo-Hyun Kang, who is director of communities united for police reform and the mayor of New Hope, and then also, the mayor of Newark, New Jersey Ras Baraka. I was like she`s totally not the mayor -- who will be meeting with the president tomorrow and Wes Lowery, political reporter for "the Washington Post." Nice to have you all here. So Mayor, he`s coming to Newark. As part of that is going to be talking about what happens on the back end of incarceration. Talk to me a little bit about the work you all have been doing in this city for that. MAYOR RAS BARAKA (D), NEWARK, NEW JERSEY: Well, we kind of focused a lot on re-entry in the city of Newark. We have - I heard earlier you talked about hotspots, but we`re not just doing hotspots in terms of crime, we`re doing that in terms of following prisoners as they come back to their families to figure out where they`re going, what they`re doing, services and resources that they have. We have a project called hope where we transition them into jobs and begin to try to help them re-enter into society. We helped them with everything from IDs to transitional housing, to employment, to all of these things to make sure their transition back into Newark is a good and safe one. It`s a difficult job, because we still trying to get employers to buy into the fact this they need to hire ex-offenders. But we are working very hard to make that happen. But we also help folks on a lot of other things from education, like I said earlier to re-introduce them to their own families, to many things as we possibly can to make their transition a good one. HARRIS-PERRY: So this is - it seems to be a critical point that the president is both talking about policing on one end, but then also criminal justice reform and even recidivism on the back end. Gene, back to you for a quick second. Because part of what the president did back in Chicago was also to make an argument that gun reform, reform about gun control, ought to be an argument that police should be out in front of. And so, I`m wondering how you see even that policy as linked in to this broader conversation we`re having. O`DONNELL: Totally. I mean, what we see in New York and where there are zones of tension is because the police stepped in in the vacuum because you had gun violence and the police became the default setting so they were doing these stops which are very inefficient. It is worth saying just quickly, that in Chicago the police chiefs in the country deserve a shout- out for coming forward and saying, we are going to advocate for criminal justice reform, also. So that`s going to help make this nonpartisan. We got to think of our ideological prism detector, and try to put everything into an ideological prism. This should be nonpartisan. This should be humane and pragmatic. And the police chiefs, to their credit, are helping to drive a reform agenda and saying there are a lot of things we just shouldn`t be doing, the mentally ill and other issues like that. HARRIS-PERRY: All right. So, hold for me. I want to play for you a little bit of the president`s weekly address where he`s talking about what his plans are in Newark. Then your response in terms of this overall movement. So let`s take a listen to the president`s weekly address. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) OBAMA: So on Monday I`ll travel to Newark, New Jersey to highlight efforts to help Americans who paid their debt to society, reintegrate back into their communities. Everyone has a role to play from businesses that are hiring ex-offenders, to philanthropies that support education and training programs. And I`ll keep working with people in both parties to get criminal justice reform bills to my desk, including a bipartisan bill that would reduce mandatory minimums for nonviolent drug offenders and reward prisoners with shorter sentences if they complete programs that make them less likely to commit a repeat offense. (END VIDEO CLIP) HARRIS-PERRY: So when you think about the long trajectory of criminal justice reform movement work, how does what the president`s saying there fit into that? JOO-HYUN KANG, DIRECTOR, COMMUNITIES UNITED FOR POLICE REFORM: First, it is incredibly important that he`s making a comment on this in the way that he is. HARRIS-PERRY: Repeatedly over the past months. KANG: In an environment that`s not necessarily open to that in all quarters of the country. But secondly, he`s leading with a message in what we need to change in terms of criminal justice reform. And I wish we are seeing that more happening locally. In New York city, what we`re seeing, unfortunately, is a mayor who actually just put out a very regressive call about a week ago saying that we should actually roll back Rockefeller drug laws basically in terms of it diversion programs and that`s out of fear right now. And we have a president and an opportunity in this nation where there`s a movement that`s trying to operate from a place not of fear, not of politics of fear but really politics and dignity and respect for all people. HARRIS-PERRY: So, because part of what I need to understand, do you mean a political fear or a corporal, like a fear of --? KANG: I think it is both. I think what we are doing right now or what we are seeing, unfortunately, is because we`re in a moment right now where any kind of a social movement that makes gains, there are reactionary forces that try to roll it back. And the way it gets rolled back often is through really perpetuating a myth and culture of fear. So what you were talking about earlier in terms of the Ferguson effect, Wesley just told me the first person who used that term was Heather McDonald. That`s no mistake. You have a person who`s known for her racist reactionary writings and announcements. And that is really actually not taking data, not taking (INAUDIBLE) experience, but creating a myth that people are afraid of to really promote progressive social policies. HARRIS-PERRY: So then, how do you promote progressive social policies in a city, for example, like Newark? BARAKA: Well, first of all, you have to understand that there`s been proof and data that you can reduce incarceration rates and also reduce crime at the same time. One does not relate to the other. You don`t have to have mass incarceration to reduce crime. In New Jersey that`s happened. In California that`s happened. In many states in America crime has reduced and incarceration levels has reduced at the same time. So there`s opportunity to do that through jobs, through social programs, and everything. HARRIS-PERRY: I mean, the president even said in that same address he was saying that you have to make sure that young people have a set of possibilities in front of them. Stick with us, we have so much more to get to. More voices at the table to bring in, including the confrontation of black lives matter activists and Hillary Clinton. But after the break, I`m going to get you the latest on that Russian passenger plane that crashed in Egypt killing everyone on board. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) HARRIS-PERRY: Investigators are combing the site of a Russian plane crash in Egypt today. The passenger jet crashed shortly after takeoff yesterday killing all 224 people on board. Teams have been working to recover the bodies transporting them to a morgue in Cairo before they will be flown back to Russia. Investigators have also found the plane`s black box which should give them the best evidence yet in determining what caused the crash. Joining me now from Cairo, NBC News chief global correspondent Bill Neely. Bill, have investigators begun to rule out any of the causes? BILL NEELY, NBC NEWS CHIEF GLOBAL CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Melissa. No, they have not ruled out any of the possible causes, including even terrorism, although they have poured cold water on a claim by ISIS that it shot the plane out of the sky. The officials both Russian and Egyptian are saying that there is no terrorist group in the Middle East that has the missile capable of hitting a plane at an altitude of 31,000 feet. Egypt`s president el-Sisi within the last few hours has cautioned against drawing any quick conclusion. He says this investigation could take months. And a Russian aviation minister who visited the scene of the crash also cautioned against early conclusions. But he did say that the plane clearly broke up in mid-air. He said debris was scattered across 12 square miles. But cautioning again not to jump to conclusions. It is only the investigation of those two flight recorders that will bring us the hard evidence, and they are not being looked at by investigators from Russia and Egypt. Also, French investigators because airbus manufactured this plane. And Indeed the U.S. national transportation safety board is also involved because, of course, the engines were manufactured in the United States. So they are looking at those black boxes, trying to answer the basic questions why on earth did this plane descend so quickly and so rapidly, why was there no distress call from the pilot, and no communication with air traffic control. So it is a tragedy. It is a national day of mourning in Russia and it remains for the moment, Melissa, a mystery. HARRIS-PERRY: Thank you to NBC`s Bill Neely in Cairo. Up next, the police and presidential politics. See how Governor Chris Christie is finding his way to stand out from the pact. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) HARRIS-PERRY: At Wednesday night`s debate, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie did pretty much everything he could to stand out in front of a crowded are field which he languishes in seventh place. Including taking a question about presidential moral authority and turning it into a moment of police politics. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You know, the FBI director, the president`s appointed FBI director, has said this week that because of a lack of support from politicians like the president of the United States, that police officers are afraid to get out of their cars, that they`re afraid to enforce the law and he says, the president`s appointee, that crime is going up because of this. (END VIDEO CLIP) HARRIS-PERRY: Wes. WESLEY LOWERY, NATIONAL REPORTER, THE WASHINGTON POST: So Chris Christie made three statements there, none of which were true. He characterized the FBI director`s statements as claiming that the -- that because of a lack of support from people like President Obama police officers are not getting out of their cars. I was in the room for the FBI director`s speech. While many people, including the national director of the fop, as well as civil rights groups had real issue with what the FBI director said, he didn`t is a you any of those things. If we`re going to have an argument or discussion about crime rates potentially going up as it relates to viral videos which was the argument the FBI director was making, we can have that conversation and you had the conversation earlier today where there certainly is anecdotally not impact in some places with police officers feeling more scrutinized and therefore maybe being more hesitant. We don`t have any data to link that to rises in violent crime. And again, the FBI director certainly wasn`t at any point claiming this was President Obama`s fault. HARRIS-PERRY: But let me just say. There was a little bit of something. So, that was right. Chris Christie is mischaracterizing what the FBI director said. On the other hand the FBI director did see in that moment to be running counter to what the president and the administration`s message had been, not just for a day or a week but really for quite some time. And given that Mr. Comey and governor Christie will been U.S. attorneys together you understand the Bush administration, there was a little bit of like gut-wrench to watching that happen during the debate. GOFF: Yes. There was a ton of gut wrench watching that happen in the debate. This is what I was talking about when I say that there`s a moment during this process when maturity is what`s called for and the difficulty when you go off the reservation, when you begin your statements with, I don`t have any data to speak to this. Even when you are the repository for all of the data having to do with crime in the United States, right? It allows for mischaracterizations like the one that Christie made which is just a vile political play that undermines any chance of having community trust between law enforcement and the communities they`re sworn to protect. HARRIS-PERRY: All right. So, I want to pull Gene in here. Also, I also want to acknowledge -- I know for some of my viewers the off the reservation term in particular can be anxiety producing, I just want to put a pin on that. But Gene, I want to come to you for a second. Because I want to ask about what Philip was saying substantively there about sort of the way politics can make it so difficult to build these relationships. Because I think in the end, Democrat or Republican, conservative or liberal, there`s meaningful necessary relationship to be built between law enforcement and communities. And I`m wondering the extent to which when this shows up in any debate, any political arena, it becomes more difficult to build that. O`DONNELL: Yes. So the important side, the police -- the president gave a great speech at IECP, was well received. And if you read the speech, there`s very little to argue about. Yes, and the truth is that, again, I think this is -- the further we get away from ideology on this the better off we are. You cannot ignore the reality if you go into some communities on the ground there is a fear factor and they`d like to see the police more engaged and they are concerned about that. And if you saw some of the comments mayor de Blasio is making of recent vintage, it is because of situations like the officer getting shot in east Harlem. And then you go into the neighborhood, you go into public housing there, city of New York had this great renaissance but it`s not a uniform renaissance and there is a fear factor. So while we`re doing criminal justice at the top we can`t get paralyzed in a root cause conversation. There`s absolutely a history here and absolutely a set of root causes we have to look at, but we also have to come down on the ground and see what people say and hear what they want. And I think some people would be surprised to hear that they want to see the police more, out of their cars and they want them engaged. And the truth is, we do have police who runs in the country that are little more than employment agencies, really, where the police simply don`t engage. And that is a real issue. HARRIS-PERRY: So mayor, I also want to come to you because I think Gene`s point here about getting down to the ground. You know, one of my favorite nerdlicious data points is that shootings can be up even while murders are down. So we saw this for an example in 2014 in New York, the number of shootings rise at the same time that the number of murders plummets. And it is because getting shot does not necessarily mean being murdered. And the main thing that intervenes there is an ambulance and high-quality EMT response system. So you`re thinking like as mayor you can actually bring down the murder rate not even by changing the crime rate but by changing things like street access, the number of ambulances and the ways in which we actually are responding to crime in neighborhoods. BARAKA: And gun control. So the less guns, less access to automatic weapons, smaller the gun, right, contributes to all that. So the shootings should necessarily become murders but because of the things you said it reduces the amount of murders. But also in access to weapons, the immediate access to weapons kind of allows people to have the opportunity to shoot which then causes murder. HARRIS-PERRY: So stick with us. I want to bring in a couple more things. But just really important to know, it is just not happening on the GOP side. Up next secretary Hillary Clinton is confronted by Black Lives Matter activists even as she tries to outline an agenda designed to appeal to African-Americans. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) HARRIS-PERRY: At a rally Friday at Clark Atlanta University, as Hillary Clinton talked about her plan for criminal justice reform, she was interrupted by Black Lives Matter activists. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Using nonviolence, using the power of the feelings that come forward. And yes, they do. Yes, they do. CROWD: Black lives matter! CLINTON: Yes, they do and I`m going to talk a lot about that in a minute. Now, my friends, I`m going to get to some very important points that actually prove that black lives do matter and we have to take action together! (END VIDEO CLIP) HARRIS-PERRY: Atlanta mayor Kasim Reed and Congressman John Lewis are seen trying to talk to some of the protesters. About ten minutes into the chanting, the crowd started is cheering "Hillary!" and let her talk and the activists left the university gym. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) CLINTON: Thank you. CROWD: Hillary! Hillary! CLINTON: Thank you all very much. I really appreciate it. And I appreciate the congressman and the mayor having my back. (END VIDEO CLIP) HARRIS-PERRY: OK. So let`s just back up for a second to the substance of what she was talking about before that moment. Because she is talking about bringing sentencing disparities between crack and powder cocaine down to zero. And it already reduced under President Obama. She was talking about bringing it all the way down. How important would that be in this big story about criminal justice reform? KANG: I think that`s important and (INAUDIBLE) which she also talks about is important. But it is also really important to put in context that she`s only really talking about some policies that`s really politically safe at this point. When we are looking at racial disparities in sentencing, we got to look at the entire game and look also, especially in terms of drug policy for marijuana. We already know. Study after study shows that white Americans and black Americans use and people of color use marijuana at about the same rates. But the people who are most likely to face the criminal justice system are going to be black Americans. And that`s actually what`s unacceptable that Hillary doesn`t address. So what everyone is just criticizing protesters for using direct action which is a completely legitimate tactic, this is something that we should keep in mind. That the only reason some would argue that she and other Democratic candidates are even addressing racial justice or criminal justice is because of direct action tactics. HARRIS-PERRY: What do you make of the direct action tactics? LOWERY: Of course there`s still a divide. I remember as that protest was taking place I was receiving e-mails from our reporter in the room as well as text messages from activists, some of whom were saying make sure you are checking this out. Other who were saying, what`s in world`s going on? We`re doing this again? There is a real divide in the movement space about the best way to continue to provide pressure on these candidates is. I think that a more sober kind of analysis of it is that you have some activists who are really working to have these behind the scenes meetings and sit-downs, but that space in fact is created by these direct actions. But if you don`t have people standing up and interrupting Hillary Clinton or setting up in interrupting Bernie Sanders or Martin O`Malley, maybe those candidates are less likely -- you know, it`s key. Hillary Clinton was rolling out the beginnings of her criminal justice reform platform and even in that space was still interrupted. That provides a new pressure, potentially creates a new space for even more political gains by some of these activists. HARRIS-PERRY: You know, we had a big conversation about this inside/outside strategy last week on the show with two black lives matter activists. And so Mayor, you`ve been both inside and outside. And so, I`m sort of wondering at what you are seeing as you watching these, continuing both interruptions and sit-down meetings. BARAKA: Well, I think it is great, actually. I think it is the democracy at its best. The dynamic, the kind of pressure from the outside, that forces policy. It is absolutely what needs to happen. I think that none of these things would be going on if folks weren`t yelling "black lives matter" all over the country. They would still be saying "all lives matters," except black people are the ones getting shot in the back by police. So it is important to say black lives matter. And I don`t think this discussion wouldn`t have been a part of any national political debate if it wasn`t for these protests. HARRIS-PERRY: Yes. I just also want to say, I know Congressman Lewis absolutely had Hillary Clinton`s back there. But I also want to point out that he had the back of the black lives matter movement activist a bit. Let`s just listen to him for a moment. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REP. JOHN LEWIS (D), GEORGIA: I think they represent another time, another period, and they were trying to make a point to dramatize what they are concerned about. I was not taken back. I`m not offended. I told him that I would meet with him, and I will, in my office or here on the campus. (END VIDEO CLIP) HARRIS-PERRY: So I always love that about Lewis. He doesn`t say they`re not at all like us civil rights activists. He`s just like they are just like the way we were. And it is kind of do of both of those strategies. GOFF: Yes. It was lovely to see him say, look, we want to hear the candidates speak. And at the same time these folks have some legitimate concerns here, right. So, it is the crack powder cocaine disparity like we`ve known for a long time that is racist and there is no scientific merit to it whatsoever. But the other things, while they may be politically safe, are still kind of problematic in terms of what consequences you are going to have on the ground. So I was saying during the break, the box, on principle makes a lot of sense. But Steven Rafael (ph) and other economists have looked and an experiments, controlled experiments. Sometimes what happens if you remove that, the people`s racial prejudice is not taken away. In fact it gets worse. They don`t have the assurance this person hasn`t been in jail and they assume because you`re black that you are, right. HARRIS-PERRY: Right. This is (INAUDIBLE) pages-worth demonstrating that white men who do check the box, who do in fact have a criminal record are still more likely to get a call back than black men who don`t have a criminal record even (INAUDIBLE). So it is a complicate set of questions and one that deserves inside and outside strategy to continue to be part of the conservation. Thank you to Eugene O`Donnell in Chicago. Also here in New York, thank you Phillip Atiba Goff for bring us the data and the (INAUDIBLE), Joo-Hyuan Kang and Mayor Ras Baraka. Have a good time with the president tomorrow. And Wes Lowery is going to be back in our next hour. But up next, the compelling new documentary when your church makes you feel rejected and judged instead of supported and loved. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) HARRIS-PERRY: What do you do when forced to choose between your faith and who you are? A new documentary from BET entitled "Holler if you hear me, black and gay in the church," tackles that exact issue. Produced by`s Clay Cane. The documentary examines the intersections ever race, gender, sexuality and religion. Holler if you hear me paints a vivid picture of the reality of LGBT youth often face while examining their role within African-American churches. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We see LGBT people coming in to our worship spaces but we won`t haller or we won`t speak it or name it or we won`t acknowledge their presence. And when at times that we do, it`s oftentimes in derogatory situations. I will never find (INAUDIBLE). UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I`ve already tried to commit suicide probably four times. It is not worth -- it is not worth taking -- it is not worth taking your life. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The ability to look at every single person that is breathing and living and moving and understand that there is a god presence in that person, for me is love. (END VIDEO CLIP) HARRIS-PERRY: Joining me now Clay Cane, entertainment editor of and producer of "Hollar if you hear me, black and gay in the church." I`m so happy about this film. Tell me why this project is important now. CLAY CANE, ENTERTAINMENT EDITOR, BET.COM: For me I wanted to put the narrative in the hands of black LGBT folks in the church. I also wanted to push the narrative beyond same-sex marriage, beyond Don`t Ask Don`t Tell. And those things are great and those are great wins. But in "holler if you hear me," I went to LGBT youth homeless shelter and interviewed folks and they said we`re not thinking about same-sex marriage. We`re trying to get a job. We`re trying to love ourselves right now. So it was really putting the narrative in the hands of LGBT folks because like someone says doc, one of the reverends, he says, if we are so right that we are damaging people, it is undermines all of our rightness. So I wanted to know their narrative, their stories, their journeys. HARRIS-PERRY: I want to play just a little bit more of it. In part because there was a discussion here about what would constitute salvation around sexuality that I think is just critical for this piece. Let`s take a listen. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I just knew that I would experience deliverance in the form of heterosexuality. I just knew one day not necessarily that I was going to wake up but if I stayed true to the process, that God would reward me with heterosexuality. Never thinking that I would be delivered here into a different way of thinking, knowing that my salvation is not compromised, knowing that my walk with Christ is not compromised, but in fact it is strengthened by me walk in my truth. (END VIDEO CLIP) HARRIS-PERRY: Such a powerful moment in the film. CANE: Yes. You know, it is one of those - it reminds me of (INAUDIBLE) when she said I am not tragically colored. They are not tragically gay. They are not these LGBT tragedies. And that was one of the big things that I learned is that while they went through spiritual violence, they went through theological violence, they don`t lose their faith. And for those where faith is important to them, that is incredible that they still -- it actually strengthened their faith through it all. HARRIS-PERRY: It actually feels to me like what I always think of as the great gift of African-American Christianity to world religion and to U.S. context was always the ability of black communities, enslaved communities, communities living in Jim Crow to see that God loved them even when the rest of the world said that they weren`t worthy. That`s like actually one of the theological gifts, that capacity to do that. And so, I kept seeing that in these queer folk who were saying yes, I know the world is even quoting scripture to me that I am not loved but I recognize a God that is bigger than that. CANE: Right. And that`s so powerful because black LGBT folks have been serving the black church since there was a black church, right. So we have always - and I saw something you did a while ago at school talking about slavery. There must have been LGBT folks back during slavery. It is a consistent thing of where we are. There were people in the doc who were afraid to do it, like "I hope I don`t lose my job, but it is important to have my story out there." And I didn`t want to show the stereotypical angry black preacher screaming and hollering. And say let me just humanized this. Let me start with what the human story. HARRIS-PERRY: Because it is more complicated. You know, it is often just about a kind of closeting or silencing or push-aside, part of what I like about the "holler if you hear me," recognize me, see me, acknowledge that I am standing in your presence. CANE: Yes, because if you`re not being heard, if you are not being seen, you`re not being loved. And one of the takeaways that I really hope people really understand is that theological violence and spiritual violence, it is just as damaging as physical abuse, as emotional abuse. Where does your soul go if you were taught you were an ado abomination? And we talk about suicide in the documentary. Once you decide you don`t want to commit suicide, then how do you live? And that`s really important. HARRIS-PERRY: It is a central question that in fact black churches have been trying to answer for a long time. How do you live? And so, this is another frontier. But thank you so much for the piece. And thank you to Clay Cane, "holler if you hear me, black and gay in the church," will be available on BET now app tomorrow and on Tuesday. Still to come this morning, the GOP establishment strikes back. And we see if the authors of notorious RBG can keep up with the workout of an 82-year-old Supreme Court justice. Spoiler alert -- they can`t. There is more Nerdland at the top of the hour. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) HARRIS-PERRY: Welcome back. I`m Melissa Harris-Perry. The Republican presidential primary has been dominated by unlikely outsider candidates whose total lack of political experience seems to be their primary political appeal in their bid for president. And as we saw this week, the establishment candidates, the good on paper candidates, the governors, the men whose resumes include successful political campaigns and years of experience running state governments, well, they`re angry that they`re losing to the outsiders. Very angry. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The talk about we`re just going to have a 10 percent tithe and that`s how we`re going to fund the government? We`re going to just fix everything with waste, fraud and abuse? Or that we`re just going to be great or we`re going to shift 10 million Americans or 10 million people out of this country? Leaving their children here in this country and dividing families? Folks, we got to wake up. We cannot elect somebody that doesn`t know how to do the job. JEB BUSH (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Don`t vote for me if you want to keep the gridlock in Washington, D.C. GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Let`s stop fooling around about this. Let`s tell people the truth. For once, let`s do that and stop trying to give them some kind of fantasy that`s never going to come through. BUSH: It troubles me that people are rewarded for tearing down our country. It`s never been that way in American politics before. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This stuff is fantasy, just like getting rid of Medicare and Medicaid. Come on! That`s just not -- you don`t scare senior citizens with that. It`s not responsible. BUSH: We have to offer a compelling alternative that is based on hope and optimism and grounded in serious policy which I`ve laid out and you can go get it at UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you, Governor. (END VIDEO CLIP) HARRIS-PERRY: So, these are the guys who have every reason to believe that they should have been leading the field and they`re not going to take it anymore. We`re calling it the establishment strikes back! Joining me now, John Opdycke who president of Open Primaries, a group dedicated to an open and nonpartisan primary system. Cristina Beltran, associate professor of Social and Cultural Analysis and the director of Latino Studies at New York University. Susan Del Percio, a republican strategist. And Wes Lowery, political reporter at "The Washington Post." So, Susan, I think the last time you were here, actually you expressed some concern about what happens if the establishment don`t really like kind of show up in the primaries and in fact, it looks like they showed up at this last debate. I`m wondering sort of where you are on this right now. SUSAN DEL PERCIO, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Well, it`s funny, we did this autopsy, the political autopsy after 2012 which has now become infamous. And what it did is we had to have broader appeal. The other thing it said was governors are better candidates because they have executive experience and yet they`re not associated with Washington, D.C. So they did everything right. Now I understand their frustration, but what I think the missing component that no one played -- realized was, people are so frustrated because our elected officials are not being held accountable. And that`s the tide that brings these former governors or current governors in to Washington experience and government experience. We don`t hold our government officials accountable and that`s Donald Trump`s message right there. At the end of the day, no matter how you look at it, I happen to think he`s very weak on offering the specifics. I think Kasich is right about that, I think Christie is right, those were are all good points. But he says, if you don`t do the job, you`re fired and that`s what people want to hear. You`re going to hold people accountable. Sure, you may not get it right, sure we may not agree, we need to switch your positions and all that but at the end of the day, you`ll going to be held accountable. That`s what at least the republican voters want. HARRIS-PERRY: So, it`s an interesting point. John, I`m wondering if what we`re seeing here in this moment, so kind of the rise of these unlikely candidates, if that is unusual or if it is sort of an anomaly in this particular 2016 moment, or if you see it actually as a feature of partisan primaries that might be different if we were in an open primary system. JOHN OPDYCKE, PRESIDENT, OPEN PRIMARIES: I think that it is directly tied to the fact that the primaries themselves are closed, they`re run by the parties, they`ve created a situation that the will of the American people is very difficult to express itself and you end up with candidates that don`t really reflect that. However, this is not just about 2016. There is an anger in this country that has been building. Look at 1992, Ross Perot was at 42 percent in the polls at that time. The American people are deeply frustrated with both political parties for the ways in which they silo and corral people into these different segments that are doing war with each other and there`s no opportunity or little opportunity for constructive, honest developmental dialogue that can move the country forward. HARRIS-PERRY: So, I`m so interested in that idea of frustration. And I`m wondering, in part, if that frustration sometimes also emerges from a lack of information about how the process works. So I both want to acknowledge that I think that frustration does exist and that part of it is in part descriptive about an idea about accountability. But I also wonder if some of it is also just rooted like in not quite getting and I don`t mean this - - like, oh, they`re dumb -- I just mean, it`s actually complicated to understand how an idea goes from an idea to policy. CRISTINA BELTRAN, ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR, NEW YORK UNIVERSITY: To policy. And I think this actually tells us a story about how rhetoric matters and how governing versus running for office matters. Because I actually think that for the Republicans, this is a hell of their own making. Right? Because I think basically -- and this includes the establishment -- that if you run for office and you say that government is the problem, not the solution, if you say Washington is a cesspool, if you demonize your opponents and you say things like, you know, ObamaCare marks the end of freedom as we know it and you speak about government in these apocalyptic terms, and then you turn at the point when you`re in office and you have to then tell voters, you know, compromise is necessary, change takes time, yes, you`ve been offering simple answers to complex problems. And all of a sudden you say that, voters not surprisingly feel lied to and they feel betrayed. And I think what that tells us is that political rhetoric matters. And that if we have simple answers, then if you offer simple answers they`re going to balk at complex solutions. And I think that if you run for office and you try to produce fear and anger and resentment you end up with fearful, scared and angry voters. HARRIS-PERRY: But that`s exactly the hell of their own making. The hell of their own making. For 40 years since Reagan. DEL PERCIO: But the problem is you can just take a recent example with the House having to elect a new speaker. HARRIS-PERRY: Yes. DEL PERCIO: Is that those folks, that -- HARRIS-PERRY: The freedom caucus. DEL PERCIO: Freedom caucus wouldn`t compromise a scintilla. HARRIS-PERRY: Yes. Right. DEL PERCIO: So, it`s almost opposite they believe but they go home and they say, if we don`t get everything, we were going to fight and they`re the ones who actually caused more the problems than the folks who say we have to compromise. HARRIS-PERRY: Right. Exactly. And so, I was going to say, as much as I agree on the deep relevance of discourse and the way that that like government is the problem, can then make it hard to be part of the government, let me also say, I feel like I have also seen some of that happening on the left even with the hope and optimism about sort of, you know, I can go and solve it, right? Or me and my crew can solve it. But when in fact it can`t just be solved by a better person. Like the system itself. And so part of what I`d be interested in knowing from you, just as you talk to voters, folks in Iowa, in New Hampshire, like what part of what you`re hearing here ends up getting reflected? LOWERY: Of course. And I think you`re both making this point. This idea that we`ve had a conversation now for a long time. And I used to cover Congress. And so, I covered a lot of these -- HARRIS-PERRY: I`m sorry! LOWERY: It`s all right. So there was always this, you know, we have to remember even just our recent history. The push, the Republicans coming in 2010 and taking control of the House largely on the back of a, you know, this being a mandate to obstruct President Obama. Mandate to try to overturn ObamaCare, something that arguably was never going to happen legislatively. And yet this was what Republican voters were being sold for the last eight years was this idea that we are going to undo these things and change these things. Now there is a deep frustration about among republican voters who I`ve spoken with because those things didn`t happen. And so you had this promising from both Democrats on the Left of things that were going to be accomplished that have not been accomplished and the Republicans on the right of things that were going to be accomplished that have not been accomplished. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I mean, that explains Bernie Sanders. HARRIS-PERRY: Yes. That explains Bernie Sanders. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It really does. LOWERY: -- are deeply distrustful of GOP establishment, they see as hypocritical and just flat-out lying. Progressives are concerned that Clintonism is a complete sellout of progressive ideals. Independents are now 45 percent of the whole country. That`s surging. So you have an environment in which there is deep, deep dissatisfaction with the political institutions, with the political parties, and yet the political system, starting with the primaries, is set up to give maximum control to the parties. HARRIS-PERRY: To the parties, right. LOWERY: And that is creating a gap between the people and how the parties govern that`s widening every day. You just don`t have an income inequality gap. We have a political gap in the country. HARRIS-PERRY: It`s really because I want to come back and as we come back, I want to talk a little bit about Jeb Bush and the questions of the parties. But the thing that you just laid out there about the relevance of parties, that`s a historical reality about how those institutions have grown. I keep thinking about John Aldrich`s book "Why Parties?" And the answer is because hard to organize a big country like this into just two groups. Okay. More. More. More. We`ll get nerdy in that break. Jeb Bush is ready to launch his Jeb can fix it tour. What is it he`s trying to fix? (COMMERCIAL BREAK) HARRIS-PERRY: Things that are good signs for your presidential ambitions. A $100 million war chest. Nearly universal name recognition. More endorsements than any of your opponents. Something that is a bad sign for your presidential ambitions, being forced to repeatedly explain, that no, you are not dropping out of the race. Here`s former Florida Governor Jeb Bush on "Meet the Press" this morning. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you still want to be president? BUSH: I do. I do. I see great possibilities for our country. I honestly believe we`re on the verge of greatness. We have to fix some really big complex things and I have leadership skills to do it and I`m fired up about that. (END VIDEO CLIP) HARRIS-PERRY: Is he just a -- I think he actually probably don`t have leadership skills to be a decent actual president but boy, he does not sound fired up when he says he`s fired up. DEL PERCIO: He is a candidate that needs a lot of work. He`s not campaigning when like he did when he was running for governor of Florida. The environment has drastically changed. Jeb Bush needs to change with the times, or double down and being his nerdy little self that he is. Because that`s what he is. HARRIS-PERRY: Just go full Ross Perot on it. DEL PERCIO: Well, because he`s trying to be something to everyone and that ends up with that, you know, Chuck Todd saying are you fired up? Yes. It`s just doesn`t work. That`s not how you advise a candidate. HARRIS-PERRY: Uh-hm. DEL PERCIO: And I think he does have -- Jeb Bush has the chance to play out time unlike some of these other candidates. HARRIS-PERRY: Because he`s got $100 million and name recognition and -- DEL PERCIO: Exactly. Let them start firing their shots at other folks. And let him just keep doing these town halls where he can answer people`s questions and gives good answer. HARRIS-PERRY: So, John, let`s say it was an open primary. And all the Dems and Republican were in there together and everybody was making the choices and all the debates had everybody. Would it be a different story for Mr. Bush? Would it be a different story for Mrs. Clinton? OPDYCKE: I don`t think it would be a different story for Mr. Bush. I think he profoundly misread the country. I think he`s looked at his run for president similar to his brothers. And that eight years of a Democrat in the White House, the country was ready for the Bush brand of compassion and conservatism, he completely read that. HARRIS-PERRY: Yes. OPDYCKE: I think to your point though, about whether there would be a different story, if you put together Democrats and Republicans, if you mixed it up, if you opened it up and let everybody vote in the primaries, right now independents are shut out in many states. You`d have a whole different political conversation taking place in the country. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And really long debates! HARRIS-PERRY: And really long debates! Although maybe you`d have a different threshold for getting into them. So, let me ask this. The other person emerging as a potential establishment striking back candidate is Marco Rubio. He was on face the nation this morning. Let`s take a quick listen. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JOHN DICKERSON, CBS HOST, "FACE THE NATION": Bush campaign called you the republican Obama. Is that an insult or a compliment? MARCO RUBIO (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, I don`t think they mean it as a compliment and I certainly wouldn`t take it as that. Look, campaigns are going to say whatever they think gives them an advantage. And obviously someone has convinced Jeb that attacking me is going to help his campaign. It won`t change the way we run our campaign. (END VIDEO CLIP) HARRIS-PERRY: We`re talking about discourse. The Republican Obama, and then the response of being, people are convincing Bush of something, there`s a lot of like analytic discourse going on there. BELTRAN: It`s a lot of really crazy back and forth and watching those two sort of spar it out is going to be fascinating. But, you know, I thing I think, you know, what Rubio has been able to say, I`m not a legacy candidate, you know, I am not part of this Bush-Clinton. But I think one thing we keep forgetting, is that, okay, the Clintons are a powerful ambitious power couple who have been on the public stage for like 20 years now. HARRIS-PERRY: A long time. BELTRAN: The Bush family is a political dynasty. Jeb Bush`s grandfather was in the Senate. I mean so this is a family, and we are in a political moment. I think you are exactly right. Where the idea of political legacies like that is not attractive right now. And I think the other issue is, I think there is a real hope that Jeb Bush would be Jeb, that Jeb would be sort of Bush 2.0, he would be George Bush without 9/11. He would be the multicultural George Bush because the Bush family has this very long history of promoting conservative multiculturalism. HARRIS-PERRY: Yes. BELTRAN: I think there`s a real hope that Jeb Bush could do that. (CROSSTALK) He looks so annoyed that this is not being decided by big donors. (CROSSTALK) He doesn`t like dealing with voters. HARRIS-PERRY: So he does to me come off as peevish in moments but I`m not sure that it is about donors. It does however feel like the establishment shifted under him and I think that for me is part of what`s interesting to watch here was. LOWERY: Of course. And I think so, too. And I think that Jeb`s play right now honestly is that he needs to tread water. He`s trying to tread water. HARRIS-PERRY: Yes. Just keep it up. Just keep it up. LOWERY: We can get a debate stage with more than a dozen candidates on it. You know when we get to the convention there, he still not going to be 12 candidates in there. Only so many of them will be funded. Marco Rubio seems to be building some momentum. Ted Cruz certainly will have the backing. You know, we keep a tracker of who is the front-runner of this point. HARRIS-PERRY: Yes! We took a look at it, too. Who was leading at this time in our various GOP campaigns? I know we`ve got that. Go ahead. LOWERY: All right. So today, in 2012 Herman Cain was leading the republican presidential primary. HARRIS-PERRY: Yes. LOWERY: In 2008, Rudy Giuliani was up 12 points. Hillary Clinton was up 23 points. Howard Dean in 2004 was up a point. HARRIS-PERRY: Colin Powell in `96 -- Colin Powell was leading! I love this. DEL PERCIO: These are historically different times and environments that these candidates are running in. Howard Dean was probably, because he was so forward thinking on how he used the internet when it came to fund- raising, but none of the other folks that we just mentioned had any -- have any idea how to run in this environment. HARRIS-PERRY: But Iowa is later. So, to go back to the ways in which primaries make a difference, right? Typically Iowa is early January. Now we are talking early February. It actually means that they have a bit more breathing room before they show up in those -- DEL PERCIO: Well, it also gives them one other advantage, take someone like Ben Carson. Everyone is saying, well, in recent republican history Rick Santorum and Mike Huckabee both won and look what happened to them. Ben Carson is in a drastically different situation. Because he has a lot more money than it -- they raised money after their win and couldn`t get it on the ground. Ben Carson can be doing well in Iowa, spending relatively little money, and building up other states. And that is also a big difference when you have that much longer to be -- before the election. HARRIS-PERRY: So then part of what I`m wondering is, have the parties now crafted for themselves a primary system that will actually undo them? Like that we have a primary system now where so few Democrats jumped in because Hillary Clinton was -- had such a big foot -- OPDYCKE: She`s the heir-apparent. HARRIS-PERRY: Right. She`s the heir-apparent. So then folks don`t get in. So you don`t have a competition in a real way on the democratic side. And then on the republican side you end up with a potential Carson or Trump winning some of these early catching fire. Like have they -- you were talking about the seeds of their own destruction. I`m wondering if the actual structure is the seed of the party, it`s destruction. OPDYCKE: Yes. I think that if you look at Congress for example, less than 50 members of Congress are elected in competitive elections. The primary is the only competitive election and that`s how the parties guarantee party loyalty on both the Democratic and Republican side. HARRIS-PERRY: Right. But it`s how that`s because the state parties are drawing in their centennial census years is this heavily gerrymandering -- OPDYCKE: It is not just gerrymandering now. The parties use the primaries as a way to control the nominating process. And that is the bread and butter of partyism. But to your point about, have they created something that`s undoing them, the presidential primaries offer opportunities for the American people to make certain statements. That happened in 2008. When independents, when President Obama put together a coalition of not just Democrats but Republicans and Independents to challenge the Democratic establishment in Hillary Clinton. And this year I think the action has shifted to the republican primary and you see -- HARRIS-PERRY: Republican establishment is going to need to go out and get independents to challenge the competitive -- man, it is getting good! Thank you to John Opdycke and to Cristina Beltran, to Susan Del Percio and to Wes Lowery. Up next, the latest into the investigation into a Russian Airliner crash. Plus, more on the President`s visit to Newark tomorrow. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) HARRIS-PERRY: A make shift memorial is growing this hour at Russia`s airport in St. Petersburg. Two hundred and twenty four people were killed, including 17 children, when a Russian airliner crashed into a mountainous region of the Sinai Peninsula yesterday. Grieving families await the return of recovered bodies. The first of which are expected to arrive in Russia today. The plane`s black boxes have also been recovered and they`ve been transported to Cairo for further investigation. Joining me now from Cairo, NBC News chief global correspondent Bill Neely. Bill, what are investigators hoping to learn from that black box? NEELY: Yes, the black boxes are in good condition apparently and they were opened at Egypt`s aviation ministry this afternoon. We don`t have a readout on what they`re showing but the investigators, both Russian, and Egyptian and French, will be listening for the last words and sounds from the cockpit and any other noises within the plane. That`s from the cockpit voice recorder. The flight data recorder should give us an idea of the real speed, the real altitude, how quickly the plane fell. Because it seems it fell dramatically and that the speed went from 500 miles an hour down to 70 miles an hour before it hit the ground. A Russian aviation ministry person who was at the scene has said that the plane split up in mid-air. It at least broke up in two, indeed the tail section and the nose section were at least three miles apart. Now we don`t know why that happened and he is cautioning against drawing any early conclusions from that. The same is from Egypt`s president. They`re all saying it is too early to draw conclusions. But the search area is wide and the questions, Melissa, still are many. It`s not just a national tragedy for Russia. It really is a great national mystery. Back to you. HARRIS-PERRY: Thank you, to NBC`s Bill Neely in Cairo. Now, as we mentioned in our first hour, President Obama will travel to Newark, New Jersey tomorrow to discuss criminal justice reform. He`ll be joined by Senator Cory Booker and Mayor Ras Baraka in highlighting the re- entry process of formerly incarcerated people who are trying to find jobs. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) PRES. BARACK OBAMA (D), UNITED STATES: I believe we can disrupt the pipeline from underfunded schools to overcrowded jails. I believe we can address the disparities and the applications of criminal justice from arrest rates, to sentencing, to incarceration and I believe we can help those who have served their time and earned the second chance, get the support, they need to become productive members of society. (END VIDEO CLIP) HARRIS-PERRY: Joining me now from the White House, NBC`S Kristen Welker. Kristen, this is the third high-profile event that the President has done in recent weeks addressing criminal justice reform. How important does this seem to be this issue for the legacy the President is trying to build? KRISTEN WELKER, NBC NEWS WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes. It is a really important question, Melissa. This is a key part of President Obama`s legacy. And he`s become increasingly focused on criminal justice reform but also on finding ways to decrease tensions between police departments and communities of color. You mentioned these recent visits that the President has made. Just this past week, the President spoke to police officers in his hometown of Chicago, and while he was there he called for reduced mandatory minimum sentences for nonviolent offenders. He also praised legislation that`s bipartisan legislation that seems to actually be making its way through Congress. That legislation would decrease some prison sentences. But looking even further past in that Melissa, this spring the President met with police and young people in Camden, he talked about community policing. And then you recall this, this was a really big visit over the summer, he became the first president to visit a federal prison. During that trip he spoke to inmates as a part of a vice special that aired on HBO. Take a look at the clip. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) OBAMA: I did a lot of stupid stuff when I was young. But I`ve said this before, I was just in an environment where you could afford to make some mistakes. (END VIDEO CLIP) WELKER: So the President really speaking in personal terms about this, Melissa. And I believe this is personal for him. Last year in the wake of the Trayvon Martin shooting death, the President established My Brother`s Keeper. That`s an initiative aimed at making sure young men of color have more opportunities. So back to your initial point, this is clearly a key legacy issue for this president. And what`s interesting, Melissa, is that officials here have indicated that it`s something that he`s going to really continue to focus on once he leaves office. This will continue to be a key focus for him. HARRIS-PERRY: Yes. It`s one of the first times I`ve heard him actually say, you know, during the 15 months I have left as president and as a private citizen. You know, he doesn`t normally even sort of use that language. But when he has, it has been in relation to this question of criminal justice reform. WELKER: That`s absolutely right. And I think you can expect him to even once he leaves office really focus on that my Brother`s Keeper Initiative. This is something that not only tries to set up support systems for young men of color, but also tries to improve and enhance community policing in law enforcement communities all across the country. He acknowledged it, it is a work in progress and it is something that`s slow going. But again, I think that we are getting a preview of what we can expect to see from President Obama once he becomes a private citizen. HARRIS-PERRY: Yes. And we were reminded by a panel of young women who we had on the show yesterday, that in fact, not just young men but also young women and young women of color who are in need of this kind of effort relative to incarceration and school push-out. Thank you so much to Kristin Welker at the White House -- WELKER: Thank you. HARRIS-PERRY: And up next, the Supreme Court may not be the biggest issue when it comes to access to abortion services. And we`re going to explain so stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) HARRIS-PERRY: In the coming week, the Supreme Court could decide to take up one of several cases that would lead this court to its first ruling on abortion since 2007. The most likely case focuses on regulations that would limit Texas, the nation`s second-most populous state to ten health care clinics that provide abortions. The regulations like those aren`t the only threats to abortion access in this country. Many medical professionals who perform abortions face threats that could hamper their ability and willingness to do their jobs. Many face threats of bombings, physical violence, destruction of property, or even harm to family members. Simply for providing a legal medical service that three in 10 American women will seek and receive by the age of 45. My next guest wrote a moving piece this week in the Washington Post which she describes one of the cause of her profession. Constant fear that her life, along with her family, might be in danger. She recently found a website that accused her of being part of a quote, "Abortion Cartel." The webpage posted her office address, along with photographs of her with her then-15-month-old daughter. And she wrote, "I fear for the safety of my child. I worry the protesters may someday show up at her daycare focused on hurting her as a way to punish me. Seeing her face on the anti-choice website made me consider that maybe she would be safer living apart from me and that my presence in her life might cause her more harm than good. And while I refuse to be intimidated from doing my job, this assault on my confidence as a mother has been particularly distressing." The doctor who penned those words, Dr. Diane Horvath-Cosper and despite these threats. Despite the near constant pressure not to do the work she does, she continues. And she`s kind enough to join me this morning to explain why. Dr. Diane Horvath-Cosper joins me now from Baltimore. Doctor, nice to have you. DR. DIANE HORVATH-COSPER, OB-GYN: Thank you so much for having me, Melissa. HARRIS-PERRY: Can you talk to me a little bit about how you as a young person deciding to be an M.D., then decided that you wanted to be an OB- GYN? HORVATH-COSPER: You know, I always wanted to take care of women. And that was kind of the way to do it. It had a little bit of everything that I liked. It`s fun to deliver babies. It`s fun to do surgeries. And I really felt like I wanted to be with women especially in times when no one else wanted to be with them, like when they are seeking an abortion. HARRIS-PERRY: So, part of what we`ve seen over the course of the past decade as anti-choice strategies have evolved is that one of the efforts has been actually to attack the ability even of doctors to get trained to do this work so there are some states where the state medical schools don`t even teach DNC procedures, for example. So, I am wondering if in your training there was ever a time in medical school or during residency where people talked about the possibility of harassment or being targeted if you did choose to perform abortions. HORVATH-COSPER: You know, I was very fortunate in that I sought out a residency program that provided the training specifically. Many do not. And that was a priority for me. And we did actually talk about safety and security when we would rotate through the clinics. We got some training in how not to be easily recognized, not to wear your scrubs in and out of the clinic, to be identified as a provider. So, I was fortunate to get that training but also very sad that I had to have that training on safety. HARRIS-PERRY: I think the thing that makes me most sad having read your piece is that the photo often used to depict you in these spaces for anti- choice people includes your daughter. Can you talk to me a little bit about finding that and then the conversations that you`ve been having with yourself and your family since then? HORVATH-COSPER: Yes. You know, I had gotten used to, for better or for worse, walking through protesters, being escorted from my car by security guards. And I think I just saw it as something that wasn`t -- wasn`t so much directed at me personally, it was directed at the role that I was playing and the service that I was providing. But when I saw my daughter on that webpage in the evening when I was kind of combing through the sites that I check periodically, that really crossed a line for me because then it became extremely personal. And the conversation I`ve had so far with friends and family, people have been overwhelmingly supportive and I`m very fortunate to have that. But you know, I`ve talked about what would happen if something happened to me and who is going to take care of my child and who`s going to be able to help out with her if, you know, something terrible were to happen and I wasn`t there. HARRIS-PERRY: When we were having a conversation among the producers about inviting you on the show, I kept saying, is she sure? Does she know how bad it can get after you`ve appeared on air? Talk to me about whether or not this harassment has ever impacted your decision to do your work. HORVATH-COSPER: You know, I think that there`s two ways to respond to bullies. One of them is to be intimidated and to stop doing what you`re doing, even though -- I know that what I do is the right thing for women. Women will get air abortions, whether or not they`re safe, whether or not they`re legal. And I think that I feel very called to this work. So my response to bullies is to continue to provide this service, to continue to help women understand that what they`re having is a very normative experience and that I`ll be there for them no matter what. HARRIS-PERRY: Dr. Diane Horvath-Cosper, you are extremely brave and I am extremely pleased that you took a moment to join us. Thank you for joining us and for telling the story. HORVATH-COSPER: Thank you so much. I really appreciate it. HARRIS-PERRY: Thank you. HORVATH-COSPER: Thank you. HARRIS-PERRY: Up next, the story behind the notorious RBG. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) HARRIS-PERRY: You might know her as the notorious RBG. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the second woman ever to serve on the highest court in the land, has inspired memes portraying the diminutive lace- collared octogenarian as a total OG. And she kind of loves it. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- what`s it like to be the notorious RBG? RUTH BADER GINSBURG, ASSOCIATE JUSTICE, SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES: When this started and my law clerks had to tell me about notorious BIG, we do have in common having grown up in Brooklyn. (END VIDEO CLIP) HARRIS-PERRY: Justice Ginsburg gained her internet notoriety in recent years for her scathing dissents on major court opinions like Shelby v. Holder. Shelby was the case in which the Supreme Court struck down the core of the 1965 voting rights act. The court invalidated the VRA`s preclearance formula to determine which states must get federal approval for any changes to their voting laws and by declaring it outdated they basically declared it unusable. Justice Ginsburg was steamed so she wrote, throwing out preclearance when it has worked and is continuing to work to stop discriminatory changes is like throwing away your umbrella in a rainstorm because you`re not getting wet. Now there`s a new book tracing Justice Ginsburg`s life from her time as one of the only women in law school in 1950s, to launching the ACLU`s women`s rights projects in 1971 to her 22 years and counting on the Supreme Court. And it is titled, appropriately, "Notorious RBG." Joining me now are its authors, MSNBC national reporter Irin Carmon. And Shana Knizhnik who is a clerk on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, and the creator of the "Notorious RBG" blog. So, nice to have you all. IRIN CARMON, MSNBC NATIONAL REPORTER: Thanks for having us. HARRIS-PERRY: All right. So, this book is different in a lot of ways from what you might normally imagine a text about a sitting Supreme Court justice to be. I mean, this is like, you know, just sort of open it and there are like great photos and why take this route for talking about Ginsburg? SHANA KNIZHNIK, CO-AUTHOR, "NOTORIOUS RBG": Oh, I think something that the Tumblr was trying to achieve and that we tried to bring to the book as well is this really subtle combination between substance and fun. And I think one of the things we`re most proud of with the book and sort of the phenomenon itself is that it`s creating a space for people that care about these issues to talk about this amazing woman, but also to talk about these issues and still have fun with it which is something that I think young people are searching for these days. HARRIS-PERRY: You know, we are in the midst of a presidential election cycle so the Supreme Court is always that critically important thing that`s sitting out there but that rarely actually has much substantive conversation. And look, Justice Ginsburg is in her 80s. Everybody has an opinion about whether or not she should step down. What are your thoughts after having worked on this text? CARMON: Well, there couldn`t be more at stake. You mentioned the case that might come up in Texas that may leave only ten abortion clinics in one of the most populous states in the country where 5.4 million women of reproductive age live. There are racial justice questions. There are employment and discrimination questions. But I think Justice Ginsburg is still very much in her prime as a jurist and as the voice of the liberals on the court. She has no intentions of stepping down until she can`t do the job anymore. So, I think people who are interested in carrying on her legacy should look to next year as the crucial year for what is going to happen in the future and work to elect a president that shares their values. HARRIS-PERRY: How exactly did this woman become this notorious? What were the surprising moments for you in writing this? KNIZHNIK: Well, you know, I think in terms of the phenomenon why everyone is so drawn to her, I think it is partly because of how inspirational her life has really been. She`s gone through so much. And it is really, you know, looking back from 2015, it`s like you don`t even think about the fact that she was one of nine women at Harvard Law School. Was asked by the dean to justify why it was she thought she could, you know, take the place of a man. So I think that people are drawn to that. And especially young women are searching for this voice, for you know, role models, inspirational people that are doing this work and she`s been doing it for so, so long. HARRIS-PERRY: I think the other -- you`re talking about the fun and the substance. For me, Erin, part of reading her dissents, reading these textes, it was almost like this is what it would look like if a woman gave absolutely no damns about what other people thought of her and instead just stood on her own, you know, space. And it is kind of extraordinary to see that level of intellectual and jurisprudential freedom. CARMON: Well, unlike Scalia who likes to call people idiots when he disagrees with them, she`s always very reasoned, and rational in her decent. But at the same time, she packed such a punch. So, she`s doing it politely. She`s kind of like, pushing you back with the force of her reason and I think people respond to that. You know, one of the things we realized with the book is that for decades she stood for these values. She`s remarkably consistent and has had so much integrity in pursuing these, that by the time we`re hearing her dissenting, it`s after she`s tried everything else. She`s tried to get an outcome that won`t erode these very fundamental rights particularly for marginalized people in society. But if that`s not going to happen that`s when you get the DJAF moment. That`s the moment where she is speaking to the public and the dissents are not just for the court watchers and our book is not just for the court watchers. HARRIS-PERRY: Yes. CARMON: It is to engage the public. HARRIS-PERRY: Yes. And it is deeply engaging in that way. There`s one other audience that strikes me as important and that is she is of course not alone on the court. There are two other women, relatively new justices, the newest justices of the court, Justice Kagan and Sotomayor. When you look at them and the work that they`re currently doing, do they have a chance of someday becoming notorious? KNIZHNIK: I hope so. I mean, people ask me, you know, why not Sotomayor or why not Kagan? I think, you know, I`m like more than happy to share -- I think RBG is more than happy to share the celebrity. She`s always, you know, she`s been the firsts in a lot of her life but she`s never been one to only -- to be the only one. She wants to bring other women along with her. And she`s taken an active role in mentoring the other female Supreme Court Justices. And she was very happy that Obama appointed them. HARRIS-PERRY: Yes. It is one of the questions of leadership when you are the first to trying to make sure that you are not the last. We got a little bit more. "The Notorious RBG" co-authors even got the scoop on Justice Ginsburg`s regular workout from her long-time personal trainer. And here`s the Justice herself back in February throwing down a workout challenge to Irin. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) CARMON: So, as you know, I met with your trainer. I interviewed him. Lovely gentleman. GINSBURG: He said you wouldn`t try out my routine. CARMON: Someday. I mean, I can`t keep up with you Justice Ginsburg because I heard you can do 20 pushups? GINSBURG: Yes. But we do ten at a time. And then I breathe for a bit. And do the second set. (END VIDEO CLIP) HARRIS-PERRY: Well, you can`t just let something like that lie. So Irin and Shana took up the RBG workout challenge. We got it on video and that`s up next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) HARRIS-PERRY: Did you know the 82--year-old Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg can do 20 push-ups? Ahah! And she challenged the co- authors of the new book, "Notorious RBG" to try her regular workout. She even sense her own personal trainer Bryant Johnson up to New York to put them to the test. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BRYANT JOHNSON, JUSTICE RUTH BADER GINSBURG`S PERSONAL TRAINER: Let`s start off with the push-ups. Best exercise known to mankind. I want you to get down. I want your heads up looking at me and your shoulders (INAUDIBLE) out to here. Down and up. That`s how you want to do it. Okay. Go ahead. Inhale, good. And up. Awesome. Good. And again. Good. And go to your knees. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She can do 20 of these? JOHNSON: She does 20. Again, head up. Here we go. Down and up. I`ve got you. Good. Going here and going here. And go. One, two, three, four, five, six. Justice wants to extend her apologies for not being able to make the workout herself but she did tell me to make sure that I worked you hard. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh my God! JOHNSON: Oh, yes. We sit on the stability ball right here and we do a little shoulder work. Dumbbells to the side. Bring them up. Take them to the front. Bring them back out. There you go. That`s the rhythm. Looking good. Looking good. Looking good. Looking good. We do leg presses. I lay down. I am in this position here. I lay on her feet. She comes down and pushes up. Push. Oh, yes, push. Down, slow. Up. And again, two more. All right. From here we straight into one-legged squats. Leg between my leg. Stand up, back down. Touch and go. Good. Touch and go. Two. Looking good. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You got my weak side. JOHNSON: Now you realize you have to do planks. Squeeze everything tight. Thirty seconds. Thirteen, 12, 12, I mean 11, 10, 9, 3, 2, 1. Relax. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, my goodness. JOHNSON: Very good. Very good. Awesome. Awesome. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: All right. You win, Justice Ginsburg. You win. (END VIDEO CLIP) HARRIS-PERRY: Okay. You could not get through the workout. What in the world! CARMON: You win Justice Ginsburg. That`s it. KNIZHNIK: Yes, I think she did. She actually won. That`s kind of extraordinary. CARMON: People call her frail because she`s older and she`s had cancer twice but I think she`s shown that she`s more than up to the task. HARRIS-PERRY: It is my thought as I was watching that. I was like, well, the First Lady is really a wonderful ambassador for Let`s Move, but I`m wondering if it ought to be RBG because she put you two under apparently. CARMON: Yes. One of our favorite stories in the book, actually, Shanna got in the process of reporting, was about how when she was about 60 years old, they went whitewater rafting and they told her, you had to sit in the back because, you know, you`re going to fly over because you`re so light. And she said I don`t sit in the back. KNIZHNIK: We have an amazing photo of her in the front of the boat, with her like guns-a-blazing with her oar up, it`s amazing. HARRIS-PERRY: Nobody puts the Justice in the corner. No. No. There`s not have been. If there`s one thing that she is talked to you all about her legacy, despite the fact that she`s not ready to go. She`s in her prime. What is the legacy she wants to leave on this court? CARMON: She says in her life, the thing that is most valuable is that she worked in a movement that made life better for all people. For men and for women, she always says, it`s not just women`s liberation, it`s men`s and women`s liberation. And she wants to fight so that everyone can have equal citizenship stature under the law. HARRIS-PERRY: I`m wondering if its feeling like that slipping away from her in the context of this particular court. KNIZHNIK: Absolutely. I mean, I think that`s something we talked about the idea that she never wanted to be the great dissenter. Right? I mean, this is what happened in 2013 that launched this blog. Is that, you know, the majority opinions were going in the complete opposite direction. She had to stand up and not only, you know, write these opinions but speak out about them. HARRIS-PERRY: Well, it`s a great text and it`s really is a lot of fun. Definitely is for the general population, we`ve got incredible picture of the young Ginsburg in here. And also, I almost wondering even if the New York marathon was written like, maybe we`ll even just see here like, you know, bringing not in the rare. But maybe in the middle of the pack out there somewhere. Thank you to Irin Carmon and to Shana Knizhnik. And the book once again is the "Notorious RBG." That`s our show for today. Thanks to you at home for watching. I`ll see you next Saturday at 10:00 a.m. Eastern. But right now, it`s time for a preview of "WEEKENDS WITH ALEX WITT" but that`s not Alex. That`s Richard Lui. Hi, Richard, how are you? RICHARD LUI, MSNBC HOST: Melissa, good Sunday to you. We`ll going to talk about presidential hopefuls up next hitting the Sunday talk shows. We`ll compare some of the candidates in the Black Lives Matter Movement. Also, the new focus for President Obama this week as he pushes for criminal justice reform across the country. Plus, what does the U.S. hope to accomplish in Syria with boots on the ground? And what can we accomplish? We`ll talk about all of that. Don`t go anywhere. We`ll be right back. (COMMERCIAL BERAK) THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END