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The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 12/30/2015

Guests: Scott Bolden, Jamilah Lemieux, Katon Dawson

Show: THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW Date: December 30, 2015 Guest: Scott Bolden, Jamilah Lemieux, Katon Dawson

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That they could go into court and look at that murderer and say, "I forgive you," was stunning.

CHRIS HAYES, "ALL IN" HOST: My winners, Lin-Manuel Miranda, who made "Hamilton", and Steph Curry, every time I get bummed. Like at the very least, the earth is going to melt, but we got Steph Curry.

Jason Bailey, Nancy Giles, Rembrandt Brown (ph), thank you all. That is "ALL IN" for this evening.

THE RACHEL MADDOW starts now with Melissa Harris-Perry, in for Rachel.

Good evening, Melissa.

MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY, MSNBC GUEST HOST: Thanks, Chris. Have a happy New Year.

HAYES: You too.

HARRIS-PERRY: And thanks to you at home for joining us this hour. Rachel has the night off.

Last year on Veterans Day, the city of Philadelphia invited one of its native sons to give a speech. He was a former Navy man who had gone on to make the city proud in the entertainment world. And the city asked him to speech at Philadelphia`s All Wars Memorial to Colored Soldiers and Sailors.

That speaker, that native son was Bill Cosby, and they saluted him. Mayor Michael Nutter and former Governor Ed Rendell thanked him for all he had done for the city. Congressman Chaka Fattah declared, quote, "We need to have Bill Cosby month in Philadelphia."

That right there is how Philadelphia felt about Bill Cosby as recently as a year ago. It`s hard to overstate how beloved Bill Cosby has been, for decades in his native Philly. Here he is being presented with the distinguished Pennsylvania Artist award by Governor Dick Thornburgh in 1984. He`s featured in murals around the city, including one that puts him up there -- well, the late Nelson Mandela.

Bill Cosby regularly headlined Philadelphia civic events and youth athletic events and benefits for education and local games. When there was a spike in homicide in Pennsylvania in 2007, it was Bill Cosby who led the march against violence.

At his Philadelphia alma mater, Temple University, Cosby gave commencement addresses and attended games. He served on the university`s board of trustees for more than three decades.

And in 2004, a former Temple employee accused Bill Cosby of drugging and sexually assaulting her at his home in Montgomery County, in the Philadelphia suburbs. Cosby denied the indication and the Montgomery County district attorney declined to file charges against Cosby, saying there was not enough evidence. The woman filed a civil lawsuit against Cosby, which got settled out of court, and Bill Cosby`s defense lawyer in that case was the chairman of the Temple University board of trustees.

That was ten years ago. And if you want just one barometer of how much the public attitude towards Bill Cosby has changed since then, I give you the newly elected district attorney of Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, Kevin Steele.

Now, Steele won his election this past November, an election in suburban Philadelphia, an election in the county where Philadelphia`s favorite son, Bill Cosby, lives, he won that election by running against Bill Cosby.


AD NARRATOR: For district attorney in Montgomery County, Kevin Steele. First assistant D.A. with a 98 percent conviction rate and tough sentences for sexual predators.

Or Bruce Castor, a former D.A. who refused to prosecute Bill Cosby. Castor said, we don`t charge people for making a mistake or doing something foolish.

Many more victims came forward and Castor admitted they could have used his testimony against Cosby, but Castor didn`t even try. Bruce Castor was not looking out for the victims.


HARRIS-PERRY: Today, Kevin Steele made good on his campaign promise and Bill Cosby appeared at Montgomery County magistrate court to face three charges of aggravated indecent assault, a second-degree felony.

The statute of limitations on the alleged 2004 assault was due to expire next month and the alleged victim in the case is Andrea Constand.

Now, she had been the director of operations for the Temple women`s basketball team, where she had developed a friendship with Cosby. And according to the criminal complaint filed today, Constand, quote, "considered Cosby, 37 years her senior, to be a mentor, and described instances in which he invited her to his home for dinner, invited her to restaurants, invited her to events, introduced her to people, and provided her with guidance and career advice."

Constand says Cosby invited her to his house one night in January 2004 to discuss her future career plans. And while she was there, he gave her pills, he said would help her with her stress. Instead, according to Constand, the pills nearly knocked her out. And while she was barely conscious and unable to resist or consent, Cosby assaulted her.

When Andrea Constand first made these allegations in 2004, she was very much on her own. But over the last year, dozens of women have made similar allegations against Mr. Cosby, allegations that span decades, many of which are strikingly similar to Constand`s -- a mentor/mentee relationship, unwanted advances, pills, sexual assault.

And in a deposition unsealed this past summer, a deposition Cosby gave in that civil suit Constand filed in 2005, the one where Cosby was represented by the chair of the Temple Board of Trustees, in this newly unsealed deposition, Bill Cosby admitted that he developed relationships with women in order to pursue sex. He admitted that he gave Quaaludes to women. But he insisted it was always consensual. And the pills were kind of a party drug, not the malicious tool of a sexual predator.

Bill Cosby and his representatives have always denied all of these allegations. He has sued some of his accusers for defamation. This is the first time he`s ever been charged with anything related to these accusations.

His lawyer released a statement today, reading, quote, "The charge by the Montgomery County District Attorney`s Office came as no surprise, filed 12 years after the alleged incident can coming on the heels of a hotly contested election for this county`s D.A., during which the case was made the focal point. Make no mistake, we intend to mount a vigorous defense against this unjustified charge, and we expect that Mr. Cosby will be exonerated by a court of law."

By a court of law.

Twelve years after Andrea Constand stood up and accused Bill Cosby, America`s dad, public moralist, Philadelphia`s favorite son, of sexual assault, 12 years later, Bill Cosby is going to be tried in a court of law.

He`s no longer on Temple University`s board. His name has been removed from various college scholarships and buildings. Two dozen colleges and universities have rescinded honorary degrees they gave him.

Cosby show reruns have been yanked from TV and a new Cosby sitcom canceled. His statue has been taken down at Disneyworld. The Navy had even rebuked his honorary chief petty officer status. And that mural of him in Philadelphia, it`s been painted over.

The removal of Bill Cosby from his cultural pedestal seems pretty complete, but the legal saga, and what it means for Ms. Constand and potentially for all of Bill Cosby`s other accusers -- well, that story is just beginning.

So, joining us now is Scott Bolden, criminal defense attorney and former New York City sex crimes prosecutor.

Mr. Bolden, thank you for your time tonight.


HARRIS-PERRY: Talk to me first about whether or not you think there will be a trial, or whether or not this is likely to be settled out of court in the way that the civil suit was?

BOLDEN: Well, I doubt it will be settled out of court like the civil suit, because it`s either a plea bargain or it`s not. And I got to tell you -- Mr. Cosby and his team don`t seem to be in a settling mood or a plea bargaining mood. They`re countersuing the other women and they`ve said and indicated in their public statement that they`re going to mount a vigorous defense.

And so, there will be a trial. There`ll probably be a preliminary hearing on January 14th. The victim will probably have to appear, even though hearsay is admissible to prove a prima facie case before the judge, at least, for the case to go forward. So, a lot to watch between now and January 14th.

HARRIS-PERRY: So you did a little legal narrative there that if you hadn`t gone to law school, you might have missed. Talk to me what you mean when you talk about hearsay and about this case. What does that mean we might actually be seeing in this case?

BOLDEN: Well, hearsay is not allowed in the court of law. I mean, in the court of public opinion, you can make all kinds of accusations and believe what you want, but it gets real tough in criminal law, because the government has the burden of proof, beyond a reasonable doubt.

And hearsay, that is, if you heard a second or third person say something, that`s usually not reliable. But there are exceptions to that, to prove modus operandi., to prove mistake or to disprove that this was a mistake or some misunderstanding between Cosby and the victim here. And so -- or if it`s a prior inconsistent statement, or prior statement that`s sworn in another court, like you have here with the deposition, there are ways through witnesses to get those statements in.

Then, secondly, you have the other victims, who will want to testify. The prosecutor will want them to testify, because that will buttress their claim. Without them, and without the deposition testimony, it`s her word against his word. And the government has a lot of challenges.

This was reported about a year ago. They were friends. She went to the house after she had spurned his advances on several occasions. She actually took the wine, took the drugs, and so forth and so on.

Now, that doesn`t mean she wasn`t raped or violated. I`m not suggesting that at all. But these are challenges, because the facts -- because the government has to prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt, and the Cosby defense team is investigating her right now and will put her under withering cross-examination to attack her credibility.

Because in the end, it will be up to the jury. Do they believe Bill Cosby or do they believe the victim? And those are the challenges for both sides.

HARRIS-PERRY: So, what you`ve just said there, I think, is probably one of the reasons that a majority of rapes and sexual assaults go unreported altogether, much less ever finding their way into a courtroom. When you talk about the withering kind of discourse that is likely to occur relative to this young woman, now 12 years older than she was at that time.

But the very idea that it is so difficult to make a case here, given your work as a prosecutor, what is the key for when a jury believes the accuser versus the person who is accused?

BOLDEN: Well, her statements have to be consistent, over a 12-year period of time. Secondly, she`s got to have a lot of support around her. It`s one thing to say, I`m going to testify on behalf of the prosecution, it`s a completely another thing to stay on the team, to stay in the game.

So many victims, even if they testify before a grand jury, walk away. Whether it`s because of their family situation or the stress or what they`re facing. And here, I don`t think there`s going to be a bigger case since O.J. Simpson, and she`s going to be under a lot of stress and a lot of media spotlight.

And so, the government has to support her in the sense of keeping in touch with her, doing their own investigation, in regard to corroborating her statements, when she told her family members, follow-up conversations with Cosby, because her mom is going to be a key witness. Her mom had followed conversations with Cosby, and if you believe what`s in the allegation or in the charge, he made certain ambitions to her.

And so, you`ve got to stay close to her, even though she`s in Canada, you`ve got to support her and empower her and make sure she gets on the stand, tells the truth, and prepare her for cross-examination. She does well in that regard, the jury is going to have a hard time not believing her.

HARRIS-PERRY: A. Scott Bolden, criminal defense attorney and former New York City sex crimes prosecutor -- thank you for your time tonight.

BOLDEN: Thank you for having me.

HARRIS-PERRY: Bill Cosby`s arrest today is complicated. And there is more on that ahead.

Plus, the growing fight among the Republicans who want to be president that really just doesn`t have anything to do with Donald Trump.

We`ll be right back.


HARRIS-PERRY: Today, we watched as Bill Cosby was charged with sexual assault. Arraigned in a Pennsylvania courthouse and released on a $1 million bail.

Now, he`s denied this charge in the past as he has denied all the accusations from other women. But no matter the outcome of this case in Pennsylvania, this moment is an important public acknowledgement that even though many years have passed, there`s still the responsibility to take charges of sexual assault seriously.

For those interested in justice, maybe this moment seems like a victor. But the images today were also of a black man and one who`s been an icon of American culture for more than four decades, taking a perp walk. And that is uncomfortable, even if you believe it is right for him to be charged, it is particularly jarring when just two days ago, yet another grand jury decided not to indict officers involved in the fatal shooting death of an African-American child in Cleveland, 12-year-old Tamir Rice.

Even if you think it is right for Bill Cosby to face charges, it`s impossible to ignore that the system which just charged him is a system that has been indicted by a national social movement, as being unable or unwilling to deliver meaningful and just outcomes.

Bill Cosby will stand trial for sexual assault. The officer in Cleveland who shot and killed a 12-year-old boy will not.

Data from the Department of Justice show that for every 100 rapes, only two assailants will spend anytime in jail. The other 98 will not. As shocking as those numbers are, it`s even more unlikely that a police officer who shoots and kills a civilian will spend anytime in jail. New data compiled by "The Washington Post" show that although thousands of American civilians have been killed by police officers in the past decade, only 11 officers have been convicted -- 11, out of thousands, in an entire decade.

The reaction so far should be sober and complicated. Perhaps what we saw today was the first step towards justice for dozens of alleged victims, or maybe it was just another black man walking into a system that so rarely seems to offer justice.

Joining me now is Jamilah Lemieux, who is the senior editor at "Ebony Magazine".

Jamilah, thanks for being here.


HARRIS-PERRY: So, this one`s hard for me. I`m a sexual assault survivor. I have long felt like Mr. Cosby needed to be held accountable. But I keep wondering if this is a system that can bring that accountability.

LEMIEUX: Yes, I think your framing is so important, sober and complicated is this moment. This isn`t a victory lap. No one`s excited, for those of us who have been covering this story for quite some time. We`re not whooping and saying, yes, got him.

There`s no joy to be had seeing any black man, any black man taking a perp walk, let alone some of whom meant so much to us for so long. And yet, this is an important moment and I can`t say I`m not glad it`s happening, because accountability is important. And that`s for us as close to justice as we`re going to get.

HARRIS-PERRY: One of the most extraordinary moments over the course of this year as we`ve seen the change in American public opinion towards Mr. Cosby was the "Ebony" cover of the shattered Cosby show. And I don`t think of us who were kids in the `80s can feel anything other than that. And although it`s Mr. Cosby who`s shattered in the middle, it`s all of those young actors who were part of that ensemble past.

How much of us is broken at this moment?

LEMIEUX: I think there`s so much of us broken for Americans and particularly African-Americans, right? And so just as those cracks went across Felicia Rashad and those child actors, I think they were felt all across Black America, right?

So, we looked up to this man. We wanted to believe the things he said to us, prior to his respectability politics, big reveal, you know, the things that he wanted to teach us about being a black family and having class aspirations and supporting HBCUs and those in many ways were valuable, important things.

But this legacy is one that is incredibly complicated. And frankly, I think it`s impossible to separate fully some 50-plus allegations of sexual misconduct or sexual assault from who he is as a philanthropist or an actor.

HARRIS-PERRY: And we don`t want to separate them, right? It`s important to me that it`s Hannibal Buress making a joke about the respectability politics thing that ultimately undoes this. And I keep thinking to myself, we were ultimately more interested as a people, not just black folks, as Americans, in preserving this image, this imagined notion of Bill Cosby, than in understanding actual women`s experiences and allegations.

And I don`t mean that one is true or not. We don`t know, but that we were simply more -- we didn`t even engage. We didn`t even go into and figure out if it might be true.

LEMIEUX: And I can`t help but to wonder, say if Mr. Cosby didn`t have that sort of respectability politics, you know, heavy-handed against single mothers and complicated-sounding names and wearing your pants low and listening to hip hop, say that wasn`t who he was.

Say that he was a supporter of the Black Lives Matter movement, right? Say that he was elected. Say that he was really on our side, quote/unquote, "politically. Would we be having this conversation? How willing would people be to turn their backs on him? Or to say, you know what, I may love what you stand for here, but I cannot stand in solidarity against you when you have these allegations against you? It`s not about me not liking your personality, it`s about me not being OK with sexual assault.

HARRIS-PERRY: And not being OK with respectability politics either. And there`s that fissure, I would -- I don`t mind if it breaks open and makes us feel as if someone can earn equality as a citizen. You don`t earn it. It`s the gift of citizen.

LEMIEUX: Or so it should be.

HARRIS-PERRY: Or so it should be.

Jamilah Lemieux, who is the senior at "Ebony Magazine" -- thank you for your time tonight.

We have much more ahead. Stay with us.


HARRIS-PERRY: A lot can happen in a year, and here`s what we`ve reported on this show, exactly one year ago today. Check it out, it`s kind of amazing.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush surging to the top of the field in a new poll of likely Republican presidential contenders. Bush winning 23 percent of the vote. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie trailing him by ten points.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: On the Republican side, former Governor Jeb Bush now breaking away a bit from the field, ahead of Governor Chris Christie by double digits.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Could we be looking now as we turn to politics at another Bush versus Clinton showdown? We have a new poll that shows Jeb with a commanding lead as the GOP front-runner for president.

STEVE KORNACKI, MSNBC HOST: The bush surge. The Jeb Bush surge. That was the other big story, maybe you heard this week. There was a new poll that came out from our friends at CNN.

And a lot of people interpreted it not just at CNN, but everywhere, interpreted it as Jeb Bush. He announces a few weeks ago he`s really interested in running for president. Now we have a new poll. Now he`s ahead.

I don`t think we`re in interpreting this thing the right way. I think there`s a lot more to this Jeb Bush story. Take a look at this. These are all the polls in national polls that have been taken in the last few months, that match up, Mitt Romney, Jeb Bush, Chris Christie, sort of the three big hitters on the Republican side.

And look at this, every single one of these polls in the last few months, reputable polls, shows Mitt Romney beating Jeb Bush by 11, by 9, by 5, by 8. So this idea that Jeb Bush has suddenly surged to the front of the Republican pack and is this commanding front-runner right now, I`m not buying it.


HARRIS-PERRY: A year ago today, everyone was talking about how Jeb Bush was surging in the polls with a commanding lead.

But our own Steve Kornacki, the prescient young mind that he is, was skeptical of just how commanding that lead was. And he made sure that we knew not to believe the hype.

Turns out Steve was right. Jeb`s front-runner status was short lived, to say the least. But who could have predicted that the Republican front- runner today would be someone that we were not even thinking about a year ago.

Donald Trump was not even on anyone`s radar back then and Mike Pence was getting more attention than he was. In so many ways, the Republican presidential field, even the whole Republican Party today looks nothing like it did a year ago.

In other ways, it looks just the same. And there`s more on that coming up, so stay with us.


HARRIS-PERRY: Take a look at this. This is the preliminary round at the World Darts Championship this month. Yes, many people consider darts a sport, with a live audience and very excited fans and competitors who aren`t hitting the bull`s-eye.

Remind you of something?


GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R-NJ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: He said, a week or so ago, that he was completely opposed to the new spending bill in Congress, absolutely opposed. It`s awful, it`s terrible.

So I`m like, this is great, OK, Marco`s opposed to this. That`s good. I can`t wait to turn on C-Span 2, but he gives a good speech, Marco. And I want to hear his stirring speech that`s going to try to persuade people on the floor of the Senate not to vote for this awful spending bill. Except he never showed up.

Dude, show up to work and vote no, right? Show up to work and vote no. And if you don`t want to, then quit.

REPORTER: Senator, this morning, Chris Christie said to you, "Dude, show up to work, show up to work and vote no, and if you don`t like it, quit." Your response?

SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R-FL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, you know, look, I`m running for president because I want to change the direction of this country, and it will require me for the time being to miss some votes in the U.S.

You know, Chris has been missing in New Jersey for half the time.

AD NARRATOR: Which governor laid out a tough plan to destroy ISIS months before the Paris attacks? Jeb Bush.

AD NARRATOR: Over the last three years, Rubio has missed important national security hearings and missed more total votes than any other senator. Politics first, that`s the Rubio way.


HARRIS-PERRY: OK, so do you get it? A big part of the Republican 2016 race is now basically a bunch of establishment Republicans going after each other. Jeb Bush going after Marco Rubio, and the governors, Chris Christie going after Marco Rubio. Rubio firing back, John Kasich going after Jeb Bush.

And if all of that is not enough, today, Rand Paul jumped into the mix, calling on Marco Rubio and Chris Christie to show up or resign.

And while the establishment Republican candidates are busy doing this, attacking each other, and doing everything they can to bring each other down, they seem to be missing the bull`s-eye. They`re missing the targets.

The leading non-establishment Republican candidate for president, Donald Trump, is just sailing past them in the polls. He is still surging. He is basically killing them all.

And as we watch Republican candidates like Scott Walker and Rick Perry and Bobby Jindal and George Pataki, and even Jeb Bush and Chris Christie, guys who are either out or who are really struggling to stay in, it might seem like the Republican Party is no longer a very strong party. There may be people who use the Republican label, but the party itself might feel like it`s in a bit of disarray.

And that might be true, if the single measure that you use for understanding the health of a party is its ability to choose its presidential nominee. Listen, that`s one good measure, but that is clearly an insufficient measure of health.

So, let`s take another temperature reading of the Republican Party. The Republican Party currently controls 32 governorships across the country. And then they control 30 state houses. And between those two numbers, they have a total control of 23 states. That means statehouses and governorships.

Democrats by comparison, have seven. It`s a whole part of the country that is entirely red. And if you don`t know how important that is, ask yourself about Obamacare.

So, maybe this Democratic president did and can get comprehensive health care reform passed, but notice, Medicaid is not expanded in any of these dark red states. The Republican Party may not be able to repeal Obamacare, but it certainly, through its state legislatures and governorships, has managed to halt Obamacare`s full impact. Its ability, if it had been completely implemented and understood, as the Democratic president imagined it would be.

And, yes, there are some overwhelmingly conservative states that have managed to take the expansion, and no, where has that been a bigger story than in the great state of Kentucky, where the state became a national model, taking the Medicaid expansion and then a Republican one, the governorship of Kentucky, and said that he would roll that expansion back, which is currently in the works.

And so while that is in motion, the most recent news out of Kentucky is that a Democrat in the Kentucky legislature, who just switched parties. He`s a Republican now. He`s the second Democrat since November, when the Republican Party made gains in the state, to switch over to the other side.

So, elections, state and local elections, man, do they have consequences, partly for people who are governed, because when a certain party wins, everybody wants to play on your team. And even when you`re not winning, even if you have a strong chance of holding on to the very top post for Democrats, the question starts to become, what is happening further down there, where the Republicans seem to be winning.

Joining us now is the former chairman of the South Carolina Republican Party, Katon Dawson.

Mr. Dawson, nice to have you with us tonight.


HARRIS-PERRY: All right. So talk to me a little bit about this. Because I do feel like there`s this Republican Party establishment is in disarray. That`s the story that the Donald Trump surge seems to tell. But, man, y`all are kind of running the board in the rest of the country.

DAWSON: You know, I would say, nationally, we`re a little dysfunctional. And that is not unusual. This has been a cycle, Melissa, that you and I talked about before on your other show, that Donald Trump has changed the rule and so have the stations and the media coverage.

The folks like myself that do this for a living, we were expecting a regular campaign had built the databases, done all the new social media, learned our lessons from Obama whipping us twice on how to do voter contact, and then Donald Trump gets in it and turns it into a national election.

So, we were looking for the Rick Perries, the Scott Walkers, the Bobby Jindals, all to probably still be on the stage now. They`re all gone and Trump has sucked the oxygen out of this race right now and made it a national race courtesy a little bit of NBC making him a celebrity, second of all, just his personality.

And he`s got really good numbers now, but just like you said earlier, when Steve came on and started handicapping the race a year ago, there`s a lot of time left in this race. I would agree if the race were today, most likely, our nominee would be Donald Trump, but it isn`t today.

So, there`s a lot of life left in it. To transform over to what we`re doing locally and in the states where Republicans are dominating public policy, Republicans are winning the governors` mansions.

That`s because your Republican parties there, these aren`t national races. Their state races, they`re controllable, they`re understandable. You`re not dealing with the national press. You`re not dealing with big personas of people.

So, there is a dysfunction and a disconnect between the national party and your local parties and your local operations.

HARRIS-PERRY: So, Katon, I appreciate that you blamed my parent company for Donald Trump. That`s -- I`m down for that.

But, listen, part of what is interesting to me is that you`re saying, look, we learned from these earlier races. We learned from `08. We learned from 2012. We watched how President Obama won.

So, let me ask this, are you watching fast enough with what is now happening with Donald Trump, are these other more establishment candidates going to be capable of shifting? Because what I see in them attacking one another is what looks like what they had expected to do at this moment, rather than being responsive to what`s actually happening in this campaign.

DAWSON: You know, and I wasn`t just NBC. I`m going to give out all on FOX for the first debate, Melissa. Because when I did a debate in 2008, you had to have a state number, and you could run state campaigns. That`s what caught everybody by surprise, by the way.

What caught them by surprise was last night Donald Trump got an hour on MSNBC, an hour on CNN, and an hour on FOX. That -- you just can`t compete with that.

And so, at the end of the day, the race has changed, the rules have changed, the Democrat Party just doesn`t have a race. Bernie Sanders has got the angry liberal side locked down and done, Hillary`s the nominee. You know, soon to be 30-something primaries by the end of April and these races are going to start gelling and be over.

But with Donald Trump, you know, what I would tell you is that he`s got shelf life like I never would have guessed. And the establishment Republicans so-call it, or everybody but sort of Donald, I hadn`t heard Ben Carson`s name in two weeks. So that`s how quick this can fade.

I think the interesting part is, all the news this week has been Donald Trump`s getting all the air, and the Republicans below him are all sniping and griping. That`s not going to last long.

So maybe endorsements, I think, Melissa, will really start mattering. I know they will in South Carolina. If Donald Trump wins South Carolina, I predict he`s well on his way to winning the nomination. And these endorsements of -- Trey Gowdy endorsement today, yesterday, of Rubio, what Nikki Haley is going to do, Tim Scott is going to do, go on down the line to the other states in Texas.

But this -- one thing that you and I have talked about before is this is going to be a very fast cycle.


DAWSON: Thirty-one primaries will be under the belt or caucuses, 24 of them are primaries. Seven are caucuses by April Fools Day.

HARRIS-PERRY: Look, I`m going to tell you this, Katon Dawson, you can blame the media for his rise, I`ll give you that, but if he wins South Carolina, I`m blaming you.

Katon Dawson --

DAWSON: I know you will.

HARRIS-PERRY: Katon Dawson, former chairman of the South Carolina Republican Party, thank you for your time tonight.

And there`s more ahead, so stay with us.



DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You can`t use hair spray, because hair spray is going to affect the ozone. I`m trying to figure out -- okay, I`m in my room in New York City and I want to put a little spray, so that I can -- all right? Right?

But I hear they don`t want me to use hair spray, they want me to use the pump, because the other one -- which I really like better than going, bing, bing, bing. And then it comes out in big globs and it`s stuck in your hair, and you`re like, oh, my God, I got to take a shower again, my hair`s all screwed up, right? I want to use hair spray.



HARRIS-PERRY: We have an update tonight on a story that Rachel`s team has been following out of southern California. By now, you`ve probably seen these infrared time lapse images of that massive natural gas leak in Porter Ranch. Methane has been seeping from this underground gas well since October.

And not only is it making residents sick, but it has also become a significant environmental disaster, because it`s leaking tons of carbon dioxide, and it`s releasing about 1,200 tons of methane into the atmosphere every day. Thousands of residents have been relocated, nearby schools have been forced to shut down, and the FAA has banned planes from flying near the leak.

For weeks now, the gas company, which maintains the well, has been doing everything they can to try to stop the leak. But the well is buried more than 8,000 feet underground, and they have not been able to pinpoint exactly where the problem is. Until now.

Crews have been drilling a relief well and when they reach a depth of about 3,800 feet, they discovered the target. Officials from Southern California Gas Company say they used a special technology that helped them find the leak. It`s the same technology that was used in the BP oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico.

The technique is known as active magnetic ranging and it creates a magnetic field underground that allows workers to find their targets. The gas company says they are now closer to plugging the leak. But they still don`t expect to finish the job until possibly the end of March.

We`ll keep you posted, so stay with us.



INTERVIEWER: What about the idea that the Olympics are to be free of politics?

TOMMIE SMITH, U.S. TRACK & FIELD ATHLETE: Right. That`s impossible. As you know, politics are a part of athletics now. And I don`t think the next 10 or 12 months will change this at all. Politics is a part of everything. And athletics is no exception.


HARRIS-PERRY: Politics is a part of everything and athletics is no exception.

That was Olympic runner Tommie Smith in September of 1967.

Later that year, Smith would join other black athletes in voting to completely boycott the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico City. They vowed to do so in protest of racial inequality here in America. At the time, smith told reporters why, saying, quote, "On the track, you`re Tommie Smith, the fastest man in the world, but once you`re in the dressing rooms, you are nothing more than a dirty Negro."

Ultimately, the entire American delegation did compete at the 1968 Olympics, but it was not without protest.


TV ANCHOR: John Carlos and Tommie Smith, Negro runners, who won medals in the 200-meter race today were ordered by the United States Olympic Committee to leave Mexico. Earlier, they were suspended for raising black- gloved fists while "The Star Spangled Banner" was being played at an awards ceremony.


HARRIS-PERRY: That picture, that picture of Tommie Smith and John Carlos, heads bowed, with their hands raised in protest, black-gloved fists. That became one of the most enduring images in sports history.

But it is far from the only example of racial politics in sports. Three decades earlier, in the 1936 Berlin Olympics, there was Jessie Owens. Adolf Hitler had planned to use those games as proof of Aryan dominance, but instead he was forced to watch as Owens took the stand four times.

In the 1960s, it was Mohammad Ali who refused to be drafted into the U.S. Army on the grounds of being a conscientious objector to the Vietnam War.


MOHAMMAD ALI: They say actually every time I enter the ring, in a way, I`m going to the war. They say to me daily, you are a prized fighter, what`s the difference? And I like to say to those critics of the press and the others that there is one hell of a lot of difference in fighting in a ring and going to war in Vietnam.


HARRIS-PERRY: Ali was later tried and convicted of draft dodging, stripped of his title.

But we had these moments where sports and social protests have intertwined. In the 1990s, Michael Jordan was the preeminent athlete in the country. And when the product with his name on it seemed to be linked to crime and violence in poor communities, many called on him to address it. They asked him to weigh in on robberies, on kids robbed for their high-priced Air Jordan sneakers. But he wouldn`t.

And that is where race and politics and sports has kind of stayed for a long time. Quiet.

Until recently, when we`ve seen a version of athlete activism that`s reminiscent of that earlier era. In the wake of George Zimmerman`s acquittal and the shooting death of Trayvon Martin, players from the Miami Heat took a photo wearing hoodies, their heads bowed in mourning for the slain teen.

After audio tape surfaced of NBA clippers owner Donald Sterling making racist remarks, his team staged visible protests, wearing their gear inside out, so as not to display the team name or logo. Sterling was later banned for life from the league.

In the wake of the shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, players from the St. Louis Rams took to the field with their hands raised, as if in surrender. A nod to the hands-up, don`t-shoot protests.

Chicago Bulls player Derrick Rose was the first to wear an "I can`t breathe" t-shirt in reference to the death of Eric Garner, the man who died after being placed in a chokehold by a New York City police officer.

And this fall, dozens of football players at Mizzou refused to play until the school`s president stepped down. He shortly, thereafter, resigned.

Now, in Ohio, activists are calling on LeBron James, one of the NBA`s biggest stars to put his season on hold, to sit out until the Justice Department, quote, "imprisons the police officers involved in the Tamir Rice shooting."

Now, whether or not LeBron should sit out is not the question I want to ask, because, when you look at the history, you get why these young activists want LeBron James on their side. You can understand how they can see the power of the cameras and the profits and the position of the black athlete. Here`s the question I want us to ask. Not should LeBron sit out, but what does it tell us when the athlete is still considered the best ally of a movement a movement of racial justice?

In a moment when young black voters were key to the election and the reelection of a black president, when the Department of Justice has been led these years by the first two African-American attorneys general, when many big cities boast African-American league prosecutors and police chiefs and mayors, even in this moment, why is it that it still feels to so many young people that there is more power for change on the court than in the courts?


HARRIS-PERRY: 2015 is drawing to a close. We`re here not far from Times Square in New York. It`s already starting to get to be festive out there.

But it` important as we start the festivities right here at THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW and as we want to wish you a happy New Year and thank you for tuning in tonight and all year, I want to remind you there is a live "LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL", it`s coming up in a moment. And that is a good thing, because although we`re at the end of the year, there was a lot of news today.

But I also want to point out that what you guys see at home, usually the one host, maybe sop guests at the table, that might be what you think the to have show is, but, man, a TV show requires a lot of people. Few people have better teams than Rachel.

And there are amazing folks that help to get this show on air every night. And so we take one moment in the year to tell you guys a bit what`s happening back here.


HARRIS-PERRY: Thank you to all the incredible folks who helped to put this show on an thanks to all of you at home who joined us tonight, including my daughter who we like to call Baby Nerd. Happy New Year.

Right now, it is time for "THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL". Hey, Lawrence.

LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, "THE LAST WORD" HOST: Hey, Melissa, I just tweeted a picture of you and Anna during the commercial break. So she made her debut on Twitter like a second before her TV debut.

HARRIS-PERRY: That`s good. I`m for it.

O`DONNELL: Happy New Year, Melissa.

HARRIS-PERRY: Happy New Year, Lawrence.