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The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 02/10/15

Guests: Bruce Berman, David Carr, Chris Smith

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Chris. Thanks, man. And thanks to you at home for joining us this hour. We do have some breaking news tonight, awkwardly, concerning our own network. NBC News has just announced that they are suspending longtime "NBC Nightly News" anchor Brian Williams for six months without pay. Brian Williams will be suspended both from his role as anchor of the evening newscast and the show`s managing editor, which means he`s in charge of the content overall. Tonight`s announcement, which has just happened within the last hour, comes less than a week after Mr. Williams publicly apologized for saying he had been on board a helicopter in Iraq in the very early days of the Iraq war in 2003, a chopper he said that came under RPG fire, when, in fact, he had not actually been on that helicopter. In his apology, the anchor said he`d made a mistake, that he was instead in a following aircraft, not the one that took fire. He said that he essentially conflated the memory with his -- he had conflated the story with his memory. But he apologized. After that apology, NBC opened an internal review of Mr. Williams` reporting. Meanwhile, this weekend, on Saturday, Brian Williams announced this. He said, "As managing editor of NBC Nightly News, I have decided to take myself off of the daily broadcast for the next several days." He said, quote, "Upon my return, I will continue my career-long effort to be worthy of the trust of those who place their trust in us." NBC News` review is still underway, that review is still ongoing. But, again, the breaking news tonight is that the network has announced that they are suspending Brian Williams without pay for six months. In a statement tonight, the president of NBC News, Deborah Turness, she said the suspension without pay is effective immediately. Quote, "While on Nightly News on Friday, January 30th, 2015, Brian misrepresented events which occurred while he was covering the Iraq war in 2003. It then became clear that on other occasions, Brian had done the same while telling that story in other venues. This was wrong and completely inappropriate for someone in Brian`s position. In addition, we have concerns about comments that occurred outside NBC News while Brian was talking about his experiences in the field. As managing editor and anchor of Nightly News, Brian has a responsibility to be truthful and to uphold the high standards of the news division at all times. We felt it would have been wrong to disregard the good work Brian has done and the special relationship he has forged with our viewers over 22 years. Millions of Americans have turned to him everybody and he has been an important and well-respected part of our organization." We also have a statement from the head of NBC Universal, Steve Burke. Mr. Burke says, in part, quote, "This has been a painful period for all concerned and we appreciate your patience while we gather the available facts. By actions, Brian has jeopardized the trust that millions of Americans place in NBC News. His actions are inexcusable and the suspension is severe and appropriate. Brian`s life work -- excuse me -- Brian`s life`s work is delivering the news. I know Brian loves his country, NBC News, and his colleagues. He deserves a second chance and we are rooting for him. Brian has shared his deep remorse with me and he is committed to winning back everyone`s trust." Again, that statement from Steve Burke, who`s the head of NBC Universal. But, again, the breaking news tonight. NBC News announced tonight that "Nightly News" anchor and managing editor, Brian Williams, is suspended, without pay for six months. Here is the awkward part for us. I said at the top, this was a little awkward. Here`s why this is awkward for us on this show and for me as its anchor. So, we are MSNBC. The NBC in that means we operate under the NBC umbrella, and there is a good reason why you see so many faces from NBC News on our air. It`s because we really are working partners with them. We are working partners. We are partner organization with them within the news division. But tonight, even as we are reporting on this breaking news about the news division of which we are a part, no, NBC News will not make anyone available to discuss this story with us on the air. Now, that may change in days ahead. You`d think if they`re going to talk to anybody about this, we might reasonably get a leg up on getting interviews with any NBC News executives to explain this decision, if only because we`re right down the hall. But so far, no one. Again, I hope in days to come that that might change. But as of yet, we are not talking to NBC News executives about this yet. I live in hope. And we`re going to have more on that in just a moment. But this has been sort of a wild night of late breaking news, late breaking big news about the media. The other big breaking news to report tonight about the media is some honestly really unexpected news, and that is that Jon Stewart, long time host of "The Daily Show" on Comedy Central is stepping down from that job. He`s stepping down from that job. He`s leaving "The Daily Show". This news just broke late night. Jon Stewart actually broke the news himself during tonight`s taping of "The Daily Show." He told the audience that was there in person for tonight`s show that he would be leaving the show. And, then, of course, the news very quickly filtered out to the rest of the world. Jon Stewart has been host of "The Daily Show" since shortly after its funding. He has been host since 1999. He has been the one constant on that show since then, even as a revolving cast of contributors and co- conspirators and correspondents have come and gone. The Comedy Central confirmed through a statement tonight that Jon Stewart will be stepping down from that job by the end of this year. They said, he will remain at the helm until later year. And that`s a big deal, right? That is a big deal for the comedy world since this news comes at the same time as comic legend David Letterman is leaving his job at CBS. It`s also a big deal for the news and information world broadly because for a whole generation of people, Jon Stewart has been in the news, right? I mean, yes, there is a whole news enterprise separate from what he calls his fake news enterprise. But he has legitimately been source of news and information and zeitgeist for nearly two decades running now. He doesn`t like to talk about it that way. He doesn`t like to admit it that way, but it`s true. And maybe the most amazing thing about Jon Stewart`s run on the national stage art is that it started like this. This is from the 1997 White House Correspondence Dinner when Jon Stewart at the last minute was essentially the only guy they could get to be the comedy act for that unpopular gig that night. Watch. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) TERENCE HUNT: Now, we turn to a veteran of the stand up comedy circuit and television. Jon Stewart is considered one of America`s top young comedians. He has hosted his own night time talk show for MTV, aptly titled "The Jon Stewart Show." There is a lot more about Jon Stewart that I can tell you, but one of the nicest things is simply this: he showed up when someone else didn`t. JON STEWART, COMEDIAN: I am very happy to be here and let me just say, this is the nicest Seder I`ve ever been to. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Jon Stewart was the third choice at the White House Correspondence Dinner that year. Rosie O`Donnell had been asked, she said no. Dennis Miller had been asked, he said no. And so, they got this guy nobody had heard of named Jon Stewart. And Jon Stewart since then had simply been one of the most influential comedians on the planet. And it`s because of stuff like this that he does on a nightly basis. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) STEWART: There was some individuals who were wrong about the whole (EXPLETIVE DELETED) thing, just wrong, just dead wrong, like, about everything -- all of them. SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: Let`s act now to get rid of a tyrant who`s abused and killed his own people, who is procuring weapons of mass destruction, substantial evidence to that effect. BILL KRISTOL: The choice is disarming them by war or letting them have these weapons of mass destruction. PAUL WOLFOWITZ: Dealing with a country that can really finance reconstruction and relatively soon. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Baathists who use their power to repress the Iraqi people will be removed from office. STEWART: By the way, you can have all of these memorable screw ups and more. Just call now and order. That`s what I call being totally (EXPLETIVE DELETED) wrong about Iraq. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: By the way, for all you kids watching at home, Santa just is white. But this person is just arguing that maybe we should also have a black Santa. But you know, Santa is what he is. And so, just so you know, we`re just debating this because someone wrote about it, kids. (LAUGHTER) STEWART: (EXPLETIVE DELETED) just got real. Santa is just white. And who are you actually talking to? Children who are sophisticated enough to be watching a news channel at 10:00 at night, yet innocent enough to still believe Santa Claus is real, yet racist enough to be freaked out if he isn`t white. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: I should be noted, and I think it does need to be noted that Jon Stewart himself at times veered out of the "just doing fake news here lane" that he ascribed to. In 2010, Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert held a joint rally in Washington, D.C. called the Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear. It was sort of bluntly a response to the Tea Party maybe, a response to the extremes in politics that were starting to take over the conversation, maybe. Whatever it was, something like 200,000 people turned out for that rally with Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert, and Jon Stewart sort of broke out of his comedian role for a few moments at that very weird, very cool event. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) STEWART: But we live now in hard times, not end times. (APPLAUSE) And we have animus and not be enemies. Most Americans don`t live their lives solely as Democrats, Republicans, liberals or conservatives. Look -- look on the screen, this is -- this is where we are, this is who we are. These cars -- that`s a school teacher that thinks his taxes are too high, he is going to work. There is another car, a woman with two small kids can`t think about anything else right now. But this is us -- every one of the cars that you see is filled with individuals of strong belief and principles they hold dear -- often principles and beliefs in direct opposition to their fellow travelers. And yet these millions of cars must somehow find a way to squeeze one by one into a mile long 30-foot wide tunnel carved underneath a mighty river, carved by people, by the way, who I`m sure had their differences. And they do it, concession by concession. You go, then I`ll go. You go, then I`ll go. You go, then I`ll go. Oh my God, is that an NRA sticker on your car? Is that an Obama sticker on your car? That`s OK, you go, then I`ll go. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Jon Stewart speaking at the rally that he held with Stephen Colbert couple of years ago that was sort of billed as a satire of political rallies, but ended up being kind of political rally of its own. I had a chance to interview Jon Stewart in 2010 after that rally, and we talked about the difference between news and fake news, the difference between news and social commentary, and how him as a comedian fit into that. This is what he had to say about what he has been trying to do every night on "The Daily Show". (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) STEWART: I feel more of a kinship to Jerry Seinfeld than I do to, you know, what you guys do, or what CNN does or what NBC does, in that he is able to comedically articulate an intangible for people. When they see it, they go: God, it`s been in my head, and it`s -- I know it`s been in there, but I never put it together with that kind of rhythm in four levels, and that`s hilarious that you were able to articulate that. He is a craftsman at that, like he is the best at being able to craft those moments of sort of these intangible, esoteric thing and put them together into something that really connects with people. We try and do the same thing, but with a more political and social avenue. But it`s still, if you were to look at our process, he is much more our process than the news is. Does that make sense? MADDOW: But what I know of your process seems similar to the way that I put my show together. STEWART: Then you really need to change that. MADDOW: I know. I mean -- STEWART: You -- we have to -- because we`re parodying a news organization, we have to have the logistics and mechanics of one -- MADDOW: Yes. STEWART: -- but the process that the material goes through is not a news process, it`s a comedy -- MADDOW: But it`s fact-checking. STEWART: Well, we do that not to be journalists. We do that because it wouldn`t be that funny -- MADDOW: If it was a lie. STEWART: Yes, if it would be like, I think it`s pronounced Baltimore, not Baltimore (ph), you know? You do that because untrue things stand out like a sore thumb in -- MADDOW: Even though you identify as fake news, and having a -- built with a fake news process -- STEWART: Yes. MADDOW: -- I think -- STEWART: We don`t say fake -- fake is wrong. That is a misnomer that we use, it`s glib. It`s not -- we`re not news anything. We`re commenting on the news, comedically. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Commenting on the news comedically. That was Jon Stewart back in 2010. But again, the breaking news tonight is that Jon Stewart is leaving. Jon Stewart is stepping down from his role as host of "The Daily Show" at the end of this year. This does not appear a temporary stepping away like he had when he took off time to go do a movie. No, this seems to be him leaving. Jon Stewart announced the news himself during the filming of his show tonight. It has been confirmed in a statement by Comedy Central. That news, somewhat incredibly, is coming at almost exactly the same time that NBC News has announced that America`s most iconic news anchor Brian Williams is being suspended from his role as anchor of "NBC Nightly News", suspended for six months without pay after he misstated his role in a combat incident in the early days of the Iraq war, in which he said he was in a helicopter that came under fire when he, in fact, was not. Joining us now to talk about all this and more is David Carr, "New York Times" media columnist. David, thanks very much for being with us tonight. DAVID CARR, THE NEW YORK TIMES (via telephone): Nice to be with you, Rachel. MADDOW: So, this came as new news at the end of about a week now of a lot of news about Brian Williams. Is this what you expected as a media observer in terms of how NBC would handle this? CARR: I think it was a good outcome. I do -- I wanted to hear both as a consumer and as a reporter from somebody besides Brian Williams about this. It was -- you know, him saying he was story, sort of kind of, and then him saying he was taking himself off of the news. And even though I know and like Brian, I thought to myself -- well, you really should not be in charge right now. You`re not the managing editor of much of anything. You should sit still, and quiet, and find out what is going to happen. MADDOW: In terms of -- it`s weird you know that this is happening at the same time, within a few minutes of us getting the same announcement about Jon Stewart leaving under very different circumstances on leaving forever at "The Daily Show." But, I mean, just watching Jon Stewart`s coverage of this last night on "The Daily Show" -- I mean, I found it striking that his essential defense of what happened to Brian Williams was that the news should not be so high and mighty about getting stuff wrong, that it`s not that everybody believes that the news, in particular, sort of the voice of god news is always correct. In fact, the news has been wrong about some really important stuff. And so, what explains the intense personal focus on Brian Williams, given all of the things that come across as wrong on the news all the time. CARR: Yes, I think that Mr. Stewart did a good job as he often does of proportionality is that, is it bad because you said you`re on a helicopter that got hit or didn`t, or because you said another nation was armed with weapons of mass destruction when that turned out not to be true, which of those errors is worse? Which deserves really to be looked into? I think it`s -- I think it`s interesting what is going on with Jon Stewart and Brian Williams because Brian Williams actually lived on that continuum between the so-called real news and celebrity culture, those commenting on the news, and is able to move through all of those worlds with a great deal of gracefulness. As it turned out, he kind of got tripped up, trying to make the trip back and forth. MADDOW: David Carr, "New York Times" media columnist, joining us on short notice tonight -- David, thanks very much for your time. I appreciate it. CARR: Oh, it was an absolute pleasure. MADDOW: Thanks. All right. Joining us now is Chris Smith, contributor editor for "New York" magazine. He interviewed Jon Stewart for a piece just this past November. Chris, thanks for being here. It`s nice to see you. CHRIS SMITH, NEW YORK MAGAZINE: Thanks for having me, Rachel. MADDOW: The thing that has been fascinating in the media about "The Daily Show" is trying to find a niche for it, trying to find a way to describe it, that accounts for its influence among newsmakers and among the rest of the media, even as it maintains itself to be a comedy show. Do you feel like that has been an appropriate focus or were we all sort of missing the point about what Stewart was doing? SMITH: Well, in that clip you showed from John talking with you, I mean, he did a bad job of defining what he does, which in a crazy way is the beauty of it, is he blurred a lot of these lines. Yes, at the core, it`s jokes about the news. But over the course of 16 years, he really expanded what that meant. I mean, it sounded (ph) satire, it sounded just stupid gags. It is at times straight out commentary. It became over the years much more -- in the past five or eight or so years, a criticism of the media. And that was an interesting evolution. But the fact that Jon never really pinned it down and didn`t want to - - didn`t want the show to, is part of why it has been so successful. MADDOW: That was actually going to be my next question to you, even before you pointed that out, that the media criticism turned there. I think -- I felt like within the media, I don`t know a lot of people in the business. I think I`m actually a little bit more isolated from my colleagues that most mostly by choice because I`m shy. SMITH: NBC won`t even come -- MADDOW: NBC won`t come to us about the Brian Williams decision for example. I don`t have anybody`s phone number. But I feel like when Jon Stewart turned his lens toward media criticism, it affected the way the media thought about its own job, because I think we saw in him very effective ridicule of the ways we get stuff wrong. Do you think that`s true? SMITH: I think it`s very true, and a friend of mine and another reporter pointed out today that when I wrote a piece about Jon in 2010, I interviewed Brian Williams, and then about -- Brian talked about why he envied what Jon was able to do, and that`s ironic or comic or just weird now. But yes, certainly people in the so called mainstream news business took their queues from what John was doing, both to try to get larger audiences, but to try to stay ahead of t he curve. He`s media criticism grew in large part because Fox News was so successful, I mean it gave him a great target about something he disagreed with, philosophically the politics, but also how successful they`ve been in actually selling their message, gave him a great target to pull apart whether, you know, it was more serious stuff than Megyn Kelly and Santa Claus, or, you know, Cheney and the run up to the Iraq war. MADDOW: One of the things I have to say is somebody sort of obsessed with how we got into the Iraq war. He, I feel like is the only other person who is in the media at the same time that I am, who is as obsessed with that topic. SMITH: Yeah. MADDOW: So very gratifying to me that he`s never let that he has never let that go. SMITH: Yeah. MADDOW: Meeting him recently is last night. He`s been tenacious on some issues like that in which I think he has changed the way that people think about them across (inaudible). But I wonder what will happen when he leaves. I mean, obviously he span off the (inaudible) party, he span off John Oliver, he span off the, The Night with... SMITH: Larry Wilmore. MADDOW: ... Larry Wilmore and... SMITH: Sure. MADDOW: ... his brand new show, which is just starting to wave reviews. Does somebody follow in Jon Stewart`s footsteps or does -- is his influence now wide instead of direct? SMITH: Yeah, I mean that`s going to be a very hard chair to fill, how much of a vote Jon gets in picking that person versus Comedy Central. It`s going to be really interesting. You know, I think if it`s up to Jon, he would like to open it up, broaden it in weird and interesting ways. Brian Williams was on the show last night. But if people stuck around The Daily Show, there was a guy named Bassem Youssef who is a doctor, I think by profession who became a comedian and satirist in Egypt. Jon, in filming his movie this past summer spend some time in Jordan, spend some time in Egypt. And saw places where what Jon does, what you and I do even is not allowed by and large. MADDOW: Right. SMITH: And not that he`s going to turn the "The Daily Show" into an overt, you know, small deed revolutionary machine, but -- that he, you know, has some notion of helping people like Bassem or, you know, taken the show in an unexpected direction. MADDOW: Chris Smith, Contributing Editor for New York Magazine. Thank you for being here. Especially, again, on short notice to discuss news that I did not expect at all. SMITH: Anytime. MADDOW: I appreciate it. All right we got much more ahead on this very, very, very, very, very, very busy news night. Please stay with us, we`ll be right back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SUSAN SELKE, CLAY HUNT"S MOTHER: I know a lot of that, we`ll be seeing news coverage about the bill this week and that is good news. I want our guest to know that we care about you and your life, and that is why we have fought all year for you, to get this bill passed and to get you the care that you deserve. So please don`t give up, don`t loss hope. If you need help, ask for it. And trust now, we trust now that it will be there for you. America is a nation that`s full of hope. Today, I pray that we have started to give that hope back to our veteran. Thank you. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: On Thursday, President Obama will sign it and that will formally make it law. But even before that, Congress signed it today. They held a big bipartisan on camera, bicameral signing ceremony, even just for Congress, even just for the part where they send the bill they`ve already passed formally to the President. Why did they do that today? I think A, it`s rare enough that Congress passes anything, time to make a big deal out of it. But B, this happens to be something that they really want people to know has passed. The Clay Hunt veteran Suicide Prevention Act will become law this week, at a time when nothing passes through Congress and becomes law, today that was his mother, Susan Selke and his stepfather who is on hand, as that bill heads to the White House for President Obama`s signature. They`re making a big deal out of this, because they can -- they`ve got nothing else to make a big deal out of, but also because this is something that deserves, I think as much publicity as they can get it. It`s almost there, it`s almost done. Thursday, it will be law. Stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BARACK OBAMA, 44TH AND CURRENT PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: She was an outstanding young woman, had a great spirit. And I think that spirit will live long. I think the more people learn about her, the more they appreciate what she stood for and how it stands in contrast with the barbaric organization that held her captive. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: This is President Obama today speaking in an interview with BuzzFeed. That was his fist opportunity to comment on the news. Now, confirmed by the White House and the intelligence community that Kayla Mueller, the last American known to be held hostage by ISIS. The only American woman known to have been held by the group, the news not confirmed by the White House and by Kayla Mueller`s family that she died while being held by ISIS. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REV. KATHLEEN DAY, MUELLER FAMILY FRIEND: People told us that Kayla try to teach the guards crafts, to make origami, little cranes, little piece cranes. And that they told each other stories and they sang each other songs, that they try to exercise in that small space, and that Kayla would stand on her head. Let me just -- does of us who know her know what a free little spirit she was. We`re just delight on that, that Kayla remains Kayla. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: After Reverend Kathleen Day, who`s a friend of the Mueller family, she was speaking in Ms. Mueller`s hometown of Prescott, Arizona this afternoon. She and family members of Kayla Mueller related stories that the family had heard, in part from fellow hostages who had been released from captivity, even as Kayla was not. Now, Kayla Mueller`s family had made a public plea to ISIS on Friday night, after ISIS said on Friday that Kayla had been killed by a coalition airstrike. The terrorist group did not make public any information that would have proven that accretion they were making about her. But apparently ISIS did provide a photo to the family this weekend, which U.S. government sources verified as real, and which apparently confirmed her death. Although, not the means by which she died. That`s still unknown. President Obama vowed today, "No matter how long it takes, the United States will find and bring to justice the terrorist who are responsible for Kayla`s captivity and death." President Obama`s language to authorize the military campaign against ISIS, goes to congress as early as tomorrow. Lots ahead tonight, stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: This past November, Buffalo, New York, you might remember, they got pummeled with a lot of snow. Even for Buffalo, New York. See the little people inside all the white stuff? They got hit by something like four to five feet of snow in a single storm, and that`s not even including the blowing and drifting, which left like seven feet-plus of snow piled in some areas. Home to the Buffalo Bills, the Ralph Wilson Stadium where the Bills play, that was totally snowed in, and four days after that storm, the Bill had a big home game planned against the New York Jets. So, they reached out to their fans, they offered 10 bucks an hour, plus free tickets if anybody would come help and shovel out the stadium? People did step up to come shovel, but it was not nearly enough to clear out the 220,000 tons of snow from the outdoor stadium. And so, what they brought in was these beasts -- snow dragons. High tech industrialized snow melters that were hauled in to clear those 220,000 tons of snow from the Bills stadium. Well, now those are being deployed to the great city of Boston, to take on the ginormous piles of snow, some of which are now 10 to 20 feet tall that have grown ominously throughout the city of Boston. The city of Boston, along with the whole state of Massachusetts, has been hit with a continuous, never ending onslaught of snow for the past couple of weeks. The state is now basically throwing up their hands. They`re calling up 500 national guard troops. The governor of Massachusetts had asked the state of Vermont, and the state of New York, and the state of New Jersey, and the state of Pennsylvania for help. The city of Boston has also started farming. They opened what they call snow farms. Five giant snow farms that are basically huge piles of snow they make in vacant lots and then build continuously with tractors. Crews there unload thousands and thousands and thousands of dump trucks full of snow that they pick up around the city throughout the day, and they built all of that snow into a giant, dirty cold mountain, and that`s called a snow farm. Boston has got so much snow, though, that even the snow farm mountains are overflowing at this point. And so, cue the snow melters. Boston has fired two of these guys up now. They have two snow dragons on loan, but there is so much snow to melt in the city that the governor of Massachusetts says he may buy another two snow dragons for the state. So far, the melting capacity is not enough, particularly because Massachusetts is about to get even more snow on top of the many heap that are already on the ground. I mean, the snow that`s there now already is disappearing cars and dwarfing people and making travel in many places totally impossible. Now, what`s happening is that cities all over the state, cities that are faced with this problem on what to do with snow, they got nowhere to put, cities are considering dumping the snow into nearby bodies of water. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s not exactly something these communities want to do, but they are forced to do it and they`re allowed to do it in these exceptions. With storm after storm, and more snow piling on top of that old snow and more on the way, they literally have no place to put it. Marblehead, Salem, Lawrence and Lowell had already have received the go ahead to go ahead and dump this snow in the Atlantic Ocean. That is video you see of the snow going in and then underwater. State law prohibits it because of pollution concerns of what`s mixed into that snow, but in extreme circumstances like we`re dealing with now, where public safety is an issue, towns and cities are asked to simply notify the Department of Environmental Protection. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: When all else fails, dump it into the sea? Boston is supposedly not planning on dumping their snow into Boston Harbor at this moment, although they used to do that back in the day. We`re leaning tonight that in addition to the cities of Marblehead and Salem and those other places listed on that news report, the city of Newburyport has also obtained a waiver to dump their snow into river. The mayor says they`re doing it just because they`re maxed out in terms of snow and places to shove it. So, why not shove into the Merrimack River? What does this strategy mean for Massachusetts? Especially considering that Massachusetts is expected to great another foot of snow before this week is over. Will all of the cities start dumping their polluted snow into bodies of water? And when the snow problem is gone, what happens to all that water? Is this really the only way? Joining us now is Bruce Berman. He`s communications director for Save the Harbor/Save the Bay. Mr. Berman, thanks very much for joining us. BRUCE BERMAN, SAVE THE HARBOR/SAVE THE BAY: Thanks for having me, Rachel. MADDOW: So, as Save the Harbor/Save the Bay guy, I have to ask what you think of this decision to dump the excess snow and anything it`s been sitting into bodies of water that include the ocean and rivers? BERMAN: It depends on what the circumstances are. We spent $5 billion cleaning up Boston Harbor. It is sort of the forefront of civic life here. We really care about it. We have some of the cleanest urban beaches in the country. That said, we have to keep a sense of perspective. We have had an extraordinary series of storms, 70 inches. I`m 5`10", that`s 70 inches of snow in the past couple weeks, a public safety crisis. And as a last resort, and when the water is deep and when it`s fast moving, it doesn`t concern me that much. You have to keep a sense of perspective here. Today, I think the mayor announced that we`re going to be moving 2,000 truckloads of snow to the snow farms. And that is terrific. We`re very glad that we haven`t had to take that step here in Boston yet. But if we did have to do it, that would be about 2 million gallons which is about 1 percent of the daily flow of the Charles River. Certainly, snow if filthy, urban snow is dirty, and it`s not our favorite resort. But at the end of the day, public safety first. MADDOW: Is there anything they can do to be dumping into rivers or any of the towns that are going to be dumping into the sea, is there anything they can do to mitigate any potential environmental worries about what they`re doing? Are there cleaner or better ways to do this if you have to do it? BERMAN: Absolutely, I mean, the critical thing from our perspective is that snow is fairly heavy when you dump trailer truckloads into the water. So, we`re concerned that it not be done in shallow water, that it not be done in embayment, that it be done in deep water. Boston Harbor has got an average depth of about 40 feet at low tide. We have a nine-foot tide. So, you know, you want to do it at high tide, with the tide falling. And to be honest, you also want to be alert. There is a lot of crap that you can see. We have a tradition here in Boston of putting space savers in our space once we dug out our car. You know, a dinette set or -- MADDOW: Right. BERMAN: -- you have to be careful, otherwise, we`re going to end up with floating infrastructure in the harbor. But on the very serious level, you know, this is a very unusual circumstance. I`ve been the bay watcher for Save the Harbor for 25 years, and I have never seen anything like it. They`re calling it stormaggedon and it feels like we`re under assault by Mother Nature. MADDOW: Bruce Berman, communications director for Save the Harbor/Save the Bay, thanks for some perspective on this. Really appreciate your time tonight. Thanks. BERMAN: Thanks for having me. MADDOW: Got to tell you, my usual commute from Western Massachusetts to New York, I come down -- I go home on the weekends and I come down here Monday morning. I usually leave at about 8:00 in the morning and I`m at my office by noon. So, I left early, I left about 7:30 yesterday morning in order to get to work. I arrived at my office at 7:45 p.m. That`s how long it took to get here, in part because we now live in a snow cave. Yes. In Massachusetts right now, if you haven`t seen the pictures, I mean, if you don`t believe those pictures, they`re for real, man. It`s like nothing I have ever seen. All right. Stay with us. We`ll be right back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: The good people of Salem, Oregon, named their owl today, the one that keeps attacking their joggers at a park in the state capital city. They took a poll on what his name should be. Owlcapone won. "The Statesmen Journal" newspaper is calling him Salem`s winged wise guy. But you are beautiful, Owlcapone, and Salem got you something else today, too. They also got you the best new thing in the world. Sorely needed tonight. Stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: One of the things I did not expect to be covering this year is one of the strangest trends in American politics, which is very prominent Democratic politicians having shocking and unusual injuries. This is now becoming a series and the next installment in this series is next. Stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: When last we checked in on Democratic Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the top Democrat in the Senate, he looked like this. On New Year`s Day, Harry Reid was working out at home in Nevada when he had some kind of bizarre workout accident. He was apparently using a resistance band, stretchy thing, the band snapped and Harry broke a bunch of bones in his face, broke a few ribs, and he sustained some serious damage to his right eye. Well, Harry Reid has soldiered on. He has returned to work. But it has remained unclear whether or not he will regain any vision at all in his right eye. He had surgery on that eye last month. We just learned today that he will now undergo another round of eye surgery tomorrow at George Washington University Hospital, again to try to restore the vision in his right eye -- the second surgery to try to save that vision. We wish Senator Reid, of course, the best of luck with that procedure and what is turning out to be a health ordeal for him. Also, news today of another workout accident involving another very prominent Democratic politician, and I`m not kidding. This one involves former Democratic Governor Martin O`Malley of Maryland, who is best known nationally because he`s very, very publicly testing the waters for a possible presidential run on the Democratic side. Martin O`Malley, we have now learned, suffered some kind of workout accident over the weekend in which he broke his elbow. Governor O`Malley tweeted, quote, "broke my elbow over the weekend at the gym. Thanks to the staff at Union Memorial, surgery went well and I`m on the road to a quick recovery." His staff says he broke it while lifting weights. If you`ve ever seen YouTube videos of weightlifting injuries involving broken elbows, you`re probably cringing right now. But there`s no indication that it was one of those super gruesome ones. We reached out to a spokeswoman from Martin O`Malley tonight. She told us the governor was lifting weights at the time of the accident, but she wouldn`t provide any further details about how the accident happened. She says the governor`s right arm will be in a brace for the next three to five weeks. Who says politics is not a dangerous sport, especially if you like to remain fit while you`re doing it? We wish a speedy recovery to both of you, gentlemen. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: In Eastern Oregon, when it rained this week, it looked like it rained milk. The rain was all chalky and dirty and opaque. The National Weather Service office in Pendleton, Oregon, took pictures of the guck that rained from the sky, pronounced it milky, and said they were looking into where it came from. Apparently, the best guest so far is that the rain of milky ickness falling from the sky in Eastern Oregon was a weird weather byproduct of a dust storm in Nevada. OK. The world works in mysterious ways. Also in Oregon, if you want to become a major political party, a major political party, you have to submit the membership list of your party to the state. If your membership list equals 5 percent of the total number of people who voted in the last statewide election, you can be a major political party. Well, here`s the threshold last year. That`s 5 percent of the total number who voted for governor in that state last November. That`s the number you have to hit in terms of your membership list if you want to be a major political party, just like the Democrats or the Republicans. That`s the number. Here is what the independent party of Oregon just turned in. They made it by three people. And so now, Oregon is the latest state in the country to have another major political party on the ballot and running primaries and everything alongside the stand by red and blue. You know, you spend enough time rooting around in some random state`s news, it turns out there`s weird stuff going everywhere all the time. Oregon, though, I think is better than everyone else right now when it comes to weird news in this news cycle, for whatever reason. But on that front, there is a best new thing in the world. As we`ve been reporting, there is a park in the state`s capital city of Salem where four people so far have been attacked by a big barred owl while they were out jogging. We`re talking a big owl, four foot wingspan, talons several inches long. You should also know that they`re totally silent when they attack, you don`t hear them coming at all. This thing has been probably protecting its nest for what it believes are marauding joggers that threaten it somehow. Sometimes, the owl just steals a guy`s hat. Sometimes it`s knocked a guy down. One case, it punctured a guy`s scalp and hurt him so badly he thought he was having an aneurysm or maybe he was dying. It`s a big owl. Four attacks so far on the same park. And these are the warning signs that the city of Salem put up about it afterwards. I just thought, you know, pretty tame, given what`s been happening. Well, we asked for your help in redesigning the Salem warning sign. This was a good one. "Beware of owl". Or this one, "Here be owls." It`s right there in the bottom, kind of like here be dragons. But with this one, you had a very close up view of the owl`s feet. This one was really good. I think this one has to be like oh, no, it`s Mr. Bill. Oh, no, it`s the great barred owl. But then there`s this one. Owl not only attacks you, it picks you up and carries you to its nest and feeds you to its terrifying young. In the end, we settled on this one, which I love. Allegra Flores -- there we go. Allegra Flores made it, she`s our in-house artist. We all love what she did. We put this on the show a couple of days ago, and then the Salem, Oregon surgeon, who was the first owl victim in the park, the guy who thought he was having an aneurysm when the owl got him, some friends of his made our suggestive sign into a shirt. They`re now selling them online in Salem, which is awesome. But meanwhile, we sent this proposed owl attack warning sign to the nice folks at the Parks Department in Salem, Oregon, in part, because we enjoyed making it. But in part because we did really think it might be a better public service than what they had. So, we sent this to them asking basically if we got it right, if this was inaccurate in any way, if they suggested that we change it at all. We also, and this is a little cheeky, we asked them if they want to use it. Turns out, they want to use it. They did ask us to make one change. Look, see if you can tell the difference, they asked us to drop the little lanes to show the jogging trail. See? Because you never know where the owl may decide to descend. You don`t have to be on the trail. It can get you anywhere. But they said they like it and they`d like to use it. This is what they said to us, quote, "It is our hope that installing the attack owl signs will, of course, warn park users of the possibility of an owl encounter, but also celebrate the unique presence of the owl." Yes. I agree. Celebrate it. And they want the sign! And so, we are happily passing this on to them. It`s in the mail, Salem, Oregon Parks Department. It`s in the email in terms of the digital file and we`re also I think just mailing you the big one if we can care off the postage. Thank you for being so cool about this whole thing. I have to say, you know what? To all of Oregon, from the giant, adorable gay bear couple that owns, to your governor`s bizarre girlfriend scandal, which is apparently the biggest scandal in Oregon political history, to your rain that looks like milk, to your Republican Party chairman, whose day job is collecting people`s urine by mail, to your attack owl and the way that you love them, to your jogging surgeons who sometimes wear homemade Green Bay Packer suits with a cape. To all of Oregon, I don`t know why we`ve been so into Oregon news lately, but I`ve got to say thank you. The rest of the news in the world right now sucks. The rest of the world has news that is terrible. But Oregon, you are freaking excellent -- best new thing in the world. We are sending you the sign. That does it for us tonight. We`ll see you again tomorrow. Now, it`s time for "THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL." Good evening, Lawrence. THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END