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The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell, Transcript 02/16/15

Guests: Phyllis Bennis, Jill Filipovic, James Traub, Asra Nomani, IrinCarmon, Jill Filipovic, Dianna Hunt

LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Rachel, rumor has it that you are Chris Matthews` official pincher during State of the Union addresses. (LAUGHTER) O`DONNELL: Any truth to that? You want to -- RACHEL MADDOW, "TRMS" HOST: Not during the State of the Union but other times. O`DONNELL: OK. (LAUGHTER) O`DONNELL: Thanks, Rachel. MADDOW: Thanks, Lawrence. O`DONNELL: Well, today, the Egyptian military struck back against Islamic State. And it was day four on the American sniper trial. Irin Carmon will join me later with her exclusive interview with Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. And Lorne Michaels will talk about the 40 amazing years of "Saturday Night Live". (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A dramatic escalation of Egypt`s role in the battle against ISIS. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The first time it`s taken military action against the militant group. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It follows the release of a video showing ISIS terrorists executing nearly two dozen Egyptian Christians. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In Denmark tonight, two men are under arrest, suspected of aiding the gunmen in a pair of deadly terror shootings. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The Danish nation is strong, and we will not accept any attempt to threaten or intimidate our liberties. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This latest terror attack comes as our Department of Homeland Security runs out of money in just 12 days. SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: We cannot cut funding for the Department of Homeland Security. REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: One more time, the House has done its job under the Constitution. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And what if the Department of Homeland Security funding runs out? BOEHNER: Well, then, Senate Democrats should be to blame, very simple. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And you`re prepared to let that happen? BOEHNER: Certainly. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A disaster unfolding right now in snow-bound West Virginia. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A single CSX train car went off the tracks causing a massive explosion. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Jurors watched a videotaped confession from the man accused of killing American sniper Chris Kyle. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Routh has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Punishing snow, brutal wind and dangerous ice brought much of the South to a stand still today. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We`re in South Boston. You see the mound behind me, 100 feet high. The excavators and the backhoes are pushing the snow back. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Haven`t been the best for business, but the kids have fun, and everybody gets to take a break. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, yes, yes, yes! We got it, baby! We got it! Woo! (SINGING) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Forty years of comedy and pop culture packed into a three and a half hour show. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And today, everyone is sharing their favorite moment. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A dramatic escalation of Egypt`s role in the battle against ISIS. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Punishing snow, brutal wind and dangerous ice brought much of the South to a standstill today. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And what if the Department of Homeland Security funding runs out? BOEHNER: Well, then Senate Democrats should be to blame. (END VIDEOTAPE) O`DONNELL: After the Islamic state in Libya released a video last night, showing the beheading of 21 Egyptian Christians, tonight, a Libyan newspaper is reporting that some 35 Egyptian farm workers have been kidnapped by the Islamic State in Libya. Earlier today, the Egyptian military launched air strikes against Islamic State in Libya in retaliation for the beheadings. In Denmark, police continued to investigate Saturday`s terrorist attack. In Copenhagen, earlier today, Danish police said they arrested two men suspected of helping the 22-year-old Muslim gunman who attacked a meeting on free speech, killing a filmmaker and then later attacked a synagogue, killing a Jewish guard before he was killed by police. Tonight, President Obama spoke to the Danish prime minister who said today that there was, quote, "no indication that the gunman in Saturday`s attack was affiliated with a terrorist cell or the Islamic State. Here`s more from the prime minister today. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) HELLE THORNING-SCHMIDT, PRIME MINISTER OF DENMARK: I want to underline that this is not a conflict between Islam and the West. This is not a conflict between Muslims and non-Muslims. This is a conflict between the core values of our society and violent extremists. (ENBD VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: Joining me now, Phyllis Bennis of the Institute for Policy Studies in Washington, Jill Phillipovich. JILL FILIPOVIC: Filipovic. O`DONNELL: Filipovic. You`d think we rehearsed this. Jill Filipovic, senior political writer for James Traub, weekly columnist for "Foreign Policy" magazine. And Asra Nomani, and journalist and author of "Standing Alone: An American Woman`s Struggle for the Soul of Islam." Asra, your reaction to the events in Denmark this weekend? ASRA NOMANI, JOURNALIST: Well, I watched a video of the sad burning of the Jordanian pilot earlier this month. And last night, I watched the video, every second of it, of the beheading of 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians. And while people may say that these are actions and the actions in Copenhagen are part of a network, there is a network of ideology that is fueling this kind of violence. It`s very clear that these men who are acting in the name of Islam are using the theology of the Koran and the Hadith, the sayings of the Prophet Muhammad. But something else, Lawrence, is happening. If viewers think they`re in the twilight zone, it does feel a little like that. These folks are literally chasing the apocalypse. They are chasing their vision of eschatology or the belief of what end times should look like. The video of the Coptic Christians beheading was just filled with so many symbols and signals from Islamic theology, from the return of Jesus praying behind the Muslim messiah, to so many other accounts, that we have to be very clear that the danger we have before us is very real and of a kind that we have to take very seriously. O`DONNELL: James Traub, your article on "Foreign Policy" is entitled "The World War Inside Islam", and you say this is a war inside a non- Western civilization that has overtaken and consumed the West. JAMES TRAUB, FOREIGN POLICY: Well, yes. And I think when you think about the Danes, you know, or any of the countries where this has happened in the West, you ask yourself, what can they do? And you think about what Asra said, this is an apocalyptic theology. And so, the idea that the West can, in some say, cure that, in the way that in the Cold War, we were able to project positive images of capitalism and win an ideological war. This is an ideological war also, but it`s inside Islam. And so, there`s a great deal that Denmark is going to have to do, and France is going to have to do, and the United States is now doing. Those are defensive actions they have to perform. But I think the only way this is going to end is by some sort of change, either in Islamic regimes or in Islam itself. And that`s not going to happen any time soon. O`DONNELL: Phyllis, your reaction? PHYLLIS BENNIS, INSTITUTE FOR POLICY STUDIES: I think it`s true there is an ideological and religious basis to this crisis. But I think it`s important that we understand that many of the people who are followers here are not theologians. They`re not theologically experienced in this. I would imagine that this 22-year-old kid in Copenhagen who is apparently responsible for the shootings knows nothing about the eschatology, about the ideological differences between what are the standards of ISIS versus al Qaeda. He was in prison until very, very recently. He was radicalized very quickly by some preacher who had access to the prison. This is not someone who is reflecting a different reading of the Koran than he learned earlier. This is somebody going after the violence. So, I think when we talk about what can we do, we have to get away from the idea that we can somehow bomb extremism out of existence. You can`t do that. You can bomb extremists, you can kill people, but that creates more. And instead, I think what we have to do is deal with the circumstances that lead other people to think that this sort of atrocity is somehow not such a bad idea. That`s something that can be done. TRAUB: I think that`s a very important point. The thing that European countries -- it hasn`t happened in the U.S. so much, it may -- I mean, we can talk about why it hasn`t so far. But France and Denmark and other countries are going to have to do is how do we distinguish between the kind of police and maybe even in some cases that military actions against that very small number of extremists from doing something about the toxic brew of alienation and anger and embitterment that you find for example in Paris when people go in there. A famous French anthropologist who spent years in Sandini (ph), which is the place near Paris, and the level of embitterment he finds towards Paris, towards France, towards the republican idea, towards the West, towards Jews, is really, really deep among people who are not going to kill somebody. But they are going to be the support mechanism. What do you do about that? BENNIS: Well, one thing, if I could just answer that question, what do you about that? I think we start in places like Iraq where what we do is, for example, stop the Iraqi government, which the U.S. funds, has created arms, stop them from doing things like bombing Sunni communities, which they are still doing, even with the new prime minister who talks the better talk about includivity and that sort of thing. They`re still attacking Sunni communities. There still is a Shia government, not a national government in power that the U.S. is maintaining and arming and perpetuating. As long as that goes forward, the idea that we can somehow both bomb ISIS and expect Sunnis to break with ISIS is simply never going to happen. O`DONNELL: Jill, to Phyllis`s point, there`s been a long discussion, certainly since the Iraq war and since the discovery of no weapons of mass destruction and so forth, that American military actions in the region actually have had a hand in fomenting a lot of this. And there was no Islamic State before this kind of military action. And it`s hard to see where in the Washington policy-making discussions there is any reaction to that possibility. The menu options always seem to be the same. JILL FILIPOVIC, COSMOPOLITAN.COM: Right. Well, no U.S. politician wants to get up and say we`re not popular. O`DONNELL: I know, you can`t come up publicly and say it. But if you stare at the policy choices that they end up advancing and selecting, it`s hard to detect that there`s any conversation going on behind closed doors about that possibility. FILIPOVIC: Right. I mean, one certainly hopes that there is and that conversation is certainly happening in media. But strategically having the U.S. go in and drop more bombs and create more acts of violence, I mean, that`s about the best recruiting mechanism we could offer ISIS right now. That`s why it`s important to have the Arab states leading this right now. And they realized it`s very important, too. It`s not as if ISIS is particularly regionally popular. I think the U.S. taking a back seat on this and offering aid where we can, but really letting folks who frankly have the most at stake and the most to lose lead the effort is probably the smartest thing we can do right now. O`DONNELL: I want to get some of the details of what happened. I want to listen to Lars Vilks who was actually the target when this gunman came in to kill. Let`s listen to his description of what happened. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) LARS VILKS, SWEDISH ARTIST: What happened that day was we were surprised. I mean, it was unbelievable. When things happen, it takes you a few moments before you understand, this is real. This is real. People are shooting. I mean, that`s a strange experience. But this was an occasion which took the police surprise because they, this guy was better equipped than the police. So, he had an advantage. So when he starts shooting there, the police had really nothing to go back with, because they were shooting through glass. And these handguns police had was not very efficient in that firing. (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: Asra, there has been an expectation that there could be some sort of copycat action somewhere in Europe about ha happened at "Charlie Hebdo" when the cartoonists were assassinated. This seems to have elements of that. NOMANI: Yes, and I`ve been listening very intently to the others, and I have to say that, sure, American foreign policy is littered with all sorts of mistakes and aggression, all, justifiable or not, from Central America to Latin America to Africa, to Japan. You can justify it. You cannot. But I will say that the one remarkable threat that we are seeing here is that copycat action or the act of the Islamic State, there is an ideology that is very much at play here. And what I still see us doing is tap dancing around that very fact. You know last time I came, I brought the Koran. And this time I bring these various copies of the Hadith, the sayings of the Prophet Muhammad. These aren`t just actions occurring because of bombing actions of the U.S., they are occurring because of an ideology that`s happening and spreading through our world. Over the next few days, the Obama administration is going to have the summit on countering violent extremism. It`s dancing around this idea of Islamic ideology. You know, the leader of Denmark is right. We are not at a war with Islam but we are at a war with an interpretation of Islam that wants to destroy us. In that way, we better pay attention, otherwise, we`re really going to end up with troubles here at home also. And I don`t try to put fear into people, but this is a very true reality that we face today. O`DONNELL: We`re going to take a break right there. We`re going to come back on that point. We`ll be back with more on this subject. And also, later, the trial of the real -- the killer of the real American sniper in Texas today. The jury heard the defendant`s confession, his video confession in court. That`s coming up. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (VIDEO CLIP PLAYS) O`DONNELL: That was the dramatic scene in West Virginia after a train carrying more than 100 tankers of crude oil derailed today about three miles south of the state capital of Charleston. And at least 14 tankers caught fire, and a few hundred people have been forced to evacuate. At least one of the tankers went into the Kanawha River, upstream from a water treatment plant that provides water for about 2,000 people. That plant had to shut down. The tanker cars were loaded with crude oil from North Dakota. One car plowed into a house which triggered an explosion. So far, only one person has been injured, treated for smoke inhalation. We`ll be right back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) O`DONNELL: We`re back with Phyllis Bennis, Jill Filipovic, James Traub and Asra Nomani. Asra, I just want to go back to you on that. You`ve cited the Koran on this program and also you just talking about various things that Muhammad has said, and you approach those things critically, and yet, you are a Muslim woman. How do you balance your faith and your religion with these criticisms you have of these elements of it? NOMANI: Well, I, you know, find kindred spirit in folks like feminists in the Catholic Church and feminists in Mormonism, who challenge the traditional doctrine as I am doing in my own faith. What I ultimately believe is that Islam was brought into the seventh century as a progressive faith. And we need to return to that spirit of progress and basically remove hundreds of years of antiquated interpretations of religion mostly by men, and ones that really are not compatible with the 21st century. So, I am a liberal Muslim. I believe in a school of Islam that we call Islamic feminism, one in which women do not have to cover their hair with a scarf, where women can marry outside of the faith, where you can interact with peace and prosperity, with others of other faiths. And, you know, women can drive cars. I mean, there`s just so many interpretations of Islam that we`ve now inherited into the 21st century that are basically the work of men who want to use religion to suppress women and others. And the Islamic State, is, to me, enemy number one in -- among Muslims like myself who want to have a progressive feminist interpretation of Islam in the world, because we also are their enemy, and, you know, they would as quickly want to remove us from this earth as they would a Coptic Christian or a Jordanian air force pilot. I mean, this is truly a battle within Islam. And the place that others outside of the faith can help us is by having honesty and being very real about the issues. Not giving Islam a pass in the way they wouldn`t their own faiths. O`DONNELL: James, I want to go to what happened with the attack on these Egyptians, and now capture of more Egyptians. This looks like a dynamic that`s going to continue. TRAUB: Right. Here`s my concern. So, Jill rightly said that it`s important that regional powers be part of this, including the military aspect of it. But I actually think that they`re acting even less strategically than the United States. So, you have the Egyptians as well as the Emiratis who decide that there`s a battle between the good guys and the bad guys. The bad guys are called Islamists, the good guys call themselves secular, and the Egyptians and Emiratis have been basically helping the so-called good guys. You know, you`re not going to solve the problem until there`s some kind of political solution where these two sides, neither of whom are going to conquer the other, in some way, get together. And if the local states are going to be giving tremendous military aid to one side, it`s going to keep that conflict bubbling forever. There is a U.N. negotiator whose trying to bring these two sides together. It`s unlikely, it`s not impossible. To me, that`s the big game in Libya right now. BENNIS: I think this is exactly the kind of conversation that needs to be going on in the United States. This is what needs to be happening in Syria. You know, the idea that there were two negotiating processes in Syria that failed. OK. We recognize that. You don`t stop and say well, I guess we can`t do negotiations, we`re just going to start bombing again. Except now we`re not bombing to get Assad out of power, because Assad`s on our side. We`re bombing these guys because they`re the worst ever. A year from now, we`re going to seeing one else, the Khorasan Group. Remember, they were about three days, the Khorasan Group, was we were told, worst than ISIS, and they sort of disappeared, not because they were bombed out of existence, it`s because they weren`t need for the propaganda value. So, we have to get back to saying, what is going to end the war in Syria. That means there has got to be negotiations, there`s got to be diplomacy, and we have to stop using military force that doesn`t work. TRAUB: Do you think the U.S. should actually agree that Assad is going to stay there and work with him? BENNIS: I don`t think it`s up to the U.S. to decide whether Assad goes or stays. That`s up to Syrians. What the U.S. needs to do is to be doing is pushing all of its regional allies and its regional opponents, and its global opponents and allies to start new negotiations over what are the terms of a cease-fire, first local, then national, and then an arms embargo to make it real. O`DONNELL: And we`re out of time on this for tonight. That will have to be THE LAST WORD. Phyllis Bennis, James Traub, Asra Nomani, thank you very much for joining me tonight. BENNIS: Thank you. O`DONNELL: Irin Carmon will join me with more of from her exclusive interview with Ruth Bader Ginsburg. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) O`DONNELL: On the day before Valentine`s Day, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg told Irin Carmon how to keep romance alive. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) RUTH BADER GINSBURG, U.S. SUPREME COURT JUSTICE: Perhaps because we married, today would be considered -- rather on the young side, I was 21, Marty was 22. And Marty was an extraordinary person. Of all the boys I had dated, he was the only one who really cared that I had a brain. And he was always -- well, making me feel that I was better than I thought I was. So, we went to law school. And he told everybody, all of his friends, and he-- he was one year ahead of me. His wife was going to be on the Law Review. And people looked at me and said, "She doesn`t look like the type that`s going to be on the Law Review," whatever that type was. And -- but in the -- in the course of a marriage, one accommodates the other. So, for example, when Marty was intent on becoming a partner in a New York law firm in five years, during that time, I was the major caretaker of our home and -- and then -- a child. But when I was -- when I started up the ACLU Women`s Rights Project, Marty realized how important that work was. The kitchen is another story. (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: Joining me now is MSNBC national reporter Irin Carmon. Back with me is political writer for "Cosmopolitan", Jill Filipovic, and co-host of MSNBC`s "THE CYCLE", the man who needs no introduction here, Ari Melber. Irin, congratulations on the big get. And we learned among other things that from this interview that Justice Ginsburg has not cooked dinner since 1980. IRIN CARMON, MSNBC NATIONAL REPORTER: That`s correct. Well, the personal is political here. She`s been up to a lot since 1980. So, one of the things that she told me was that her daughter says we need to save mommy out of the kitchen. O`DONNELL: Yes, and they`ve done that. CARMON: But, you know, behind every great person, you know, is a team of people and, potentially, a partnership that makes it possible for them to devote so much to their work. And I think, you know, even Justice Ginsburg`s personal life speaks to the fact that she was able to sort of achieve everything that she did in the feminist movement. (END VIDEO CLIP) It was a team effort. It involved what is, yes, even still a very egalitarian marriage by today`s standards. O`DONNELL: Let`s listen to what she said about the big question of just exactly how tipsy was she at the State of the Union Address. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) CARMON: Everybody`s talking about the State of the Union. RUTH BADER GINSBURG, SUPREME COURT ASSOCIATE JUSTICE: Yes. CARMON: They`re saying, you said yesterday that you were not a hundred percent sober. GINSBURG: Oh. (LAUGHTER) What I meant was that I had a glass of wine with dinner. And that, on top of having stayed up all night writing something. And -- CARMON: So, you`re a little bit of a lightweight, as we call it. GINSBURG: I said, I thought to myself, "Don`t stay up all night." But then, my pen was hot, and so I couldn`t stop what I was doing. And then I said, "Just drink sparkling water, no wine." But the dinner was so good. (LAUGHTER) And it needed to be complemented. (END VIDEO CLIP)O`DONNELL: Ari Melber has never been a hundred percent sober, so he gets that. (LAUGHTER) He gets that completely. But, Jill, what is this she`s pulling all nighters. I mean, what is this -- over 80. And this is -- this is nuts. JILL FILIPOVIC, COSMOPOLITAN.COM SENIOR POLITICAL WRITER: I mean, she`s a phenomenal woman. And she`s an icon for a reason. And I don`t think any one of us were sober during the State of the Union, so I appreciate -- (LAUGHTER) -- her disclosure. But, I mean, you know, like Irin was touching on, here is this woman who has had a phenomenal career, who has had this whole team of people behind her, -- (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) -- including a husband, including, you know, a daughter who, you know, pulled her out of the kitchen. You know, she`s now hitting this point where it seems like she`s really -- she`s looking back, she`s realizing, you know, she`s not going to retire before she`s ready. But she does have an opportunity here, as she`s aging, to really start kind of spelling out what she wants her own legacy to look like. And it seems like that`s kind of what this interview was about. It seems like it`s been what several of her other recent interviews have been about when, for years, she was, you know, sort of still quiet about what she was doing on the Court. So, it`s really interesting and, I think, pretty inspiring to see a woman who`s had a career like hers saying, you know, even at 80, "I`m going to go ahead and take control of," you know, "the narrative, of the history of my life." O`DONNELL: Ari, she said she doesn`t expect Roe versus Wade to be overturned. (END VIDEO CLIP) ARI MELBER, MSNBC ANALYST: Yes, she said that. And I thought what was very interesting in her discussion with Irin was her emphasis on the fact that these are not just gender issues, although they come from a history of sexism in her view and something she`s fought on. But they also are class issues. And so, she said that, in situations where women`s rights and women`s health decisions are being encroached upon, often by Republican State legislatures, wealthy women can still travel, leave or arrange some other type of private alternative. And she said this is a class issue, at this point, in our history as much as it is a gender issue. (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: And, Irin, I was a little Surprised at her, what seemed like confidence, about Roe versus Wade not being overturned. CARMON: Right. I wonder if, in some ways, she`s kind of exhorting her colleagues, -- O`DONNELL: Yes. CARMON: -- she`s kind of playing a long game here and saying, "They would never do something so radical." O`DONNELL: Right. CARMON: The truth is though, that Roe v. Wade will not have to be overturned to make abortion accessible. There`s an incremental strategy that`s happening right now. And the Court is likely to rule on one of these cases that`s coming, so we`re challenging state level restrictions that make abortion inaccessible in a practical sense without making it actually illegal. So, the Court is likely to hear a Texas case. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) And, I think, the probably the Justice just doesn`t want to say too much about it. But it really looks like -- (END VIDEO CLIP) -- they could overrule Roe in all but name. O`DONNELL: Does she -- is it your feeling that she kind of gets what sort of celebrity she is. I mean, you showed her the tattoos -- CARMON: Uh-hmm. O`DONNELL: -- and she kind of knew about that and talked about it, she felt sorry -- (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) -- for the people who were tattooing themselves. (LAUGHTER) CARMON: That`s when she`d get a little Jewish -- O`DONNELL: Yes, yes. Talk about that. CARMON: You know, she is definitely really amused by all of the adulation. But, more importantly, she`s really interested in having a dialogue with young women and encouraging them to take out with energy the same causes that she`s devoted her life to. So, I think she sees this as an opportunity to speak with young women. I wonder whether it`s one reason that she agreed to speak with me because it`s something that I both cover and that, you know, I exemplify in my life. In fact, I`m working on a notorious RBG book. Might I mention, it`s available for pre-order on Amazon. O`DONNELL: Uh-hmm. CARMON: And so, I think that this is a point where she can say, the Court is so cloistered, you know, because we see so little about what happens outside of the opinions and maybe/or argument. (END VIDEO CLIP) And there aren`t any cameras allowed in there. But here`s an opportunity to talk to people about what can be done in the court and how she is fighting for people who are poor, who are left out of the original Constitution and figuring out how to enlarge our society to make room for other people. O`DONNELL: All right. We`re going to take a break right there and come back with more of this. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) CARMON: So, as you know, I met with your trainer. I interviewed him. GINSBURG: Yes, yes. CARMON: Lovely gentleman. GINSBURG: He said you wouldn`t try out my routine. (LAUGHTER) CARMON: Someday. I mean, I can`t keep up with you, Justice Ginsburg, because I heard you can do 20 push-ups. GINSBURG: Yes, but will do 10 at a time. (LAUGHTER) And then I -- and then I breathe for a bit and do the second set. (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: OK, well, I guess, she`s 20 push-ups ahead of me today. (LAUGHTER) CARMON: Yes. To all the people who are saying she`s frail and she should retire, -- O`DONNELL: Right. CARMON: -- see if you can beat that. O`DONNELL: Yes. That`s one of the important things about this interview -- a lot of talk about her health, specific talk about her health -- her problems with cancer, where she is now. And that has been, you know, to put it mildly, grumbling -- loud grumbling in Washington about why doesn`t she get out of the way, so Barack Obama can put -- (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) -- someone in, you know. And this is a pretty strong answer to that. CARMON: She has no intention of stepping out of the way. O`DONNELL: Yes, yes. CARMON: I mean, none of us can predict what will happen. O`DONNELL: In fact, all that -- all that talk has stopped. I think she has convinced people, Ari, -- CARMON: Uh-hmm. O`DONNELL: -- she`s not kidding. She`s staying, so you can stop talking about this. MELBER: Yes. I think she wanted to answer that directly. I think what she said, and I know she spoke to Irin about it, is the fact that she, very openly doesn`t think, in the political climate today, -- (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) -- where this is a criticism of the President or the way the Senate works, that someone like her, an ACLU feminist, would be the likely pick of any Democratic president. She thinks there`s a regression. And I think there`s stats to back that up in terms of how you define what`s an -- (END VIDEO CLIP) -- acceptable liberal nominee for the Court. O`DONNELL: Let`s listen to what she said about how things have changed for her in their deliberations on the Court. And there`s a little bit of sexist stuff there when she started. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) CARMON: In 2009, you said that, sometimes, you`re in a room with your fellow justices, and you something and no one listens. And then you say it again. Do you still experience sexism. GINSBURG: Yes, less than I wanted to. Once, it happened all the time that I would say something and there was no response. And then a man would say the same thing and people would say, "Good idea." (LAUGHTER) That happens much -- much less today. (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: And, Jill, I`ve got to think she`s speaking for millions of women out there. (LAUGHTER) FILIPOVIC: Yes. I think a lot of us have experienced that. And I was actually really impressed that she went on record and said that. You know, I, like Irin, talk to a lot of people about sexism they experience. And, I think, a lot of women are really hesitant to say, "I experience sexism in my job now," especially in a venue where their coworkers and their bosses might see it. So, I guess, that`s, you know, one -- one to think about -- O`DONNELL: And we all know -- (LAUGHTER) FILIPOVIC: -- a lifetime appointment. (LAUGHTER) O`DONNELL: -- we all know the names of her coworkers, -- CARMON: Right. (LAUGHTER) O`DONNELL: -- you know. I mean, this is just not -- it`s not some anonymous group she`s talking about. CARMON: I know, she`ll do like initial -- (LAUGHTER) -- M.E.K. Yes. I mean, I think it`s so fascinating because when she was first appointed by Bill Clinton, he actually said she`s going to be -- (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) -- neither liberal nor conservative, blah, blah, blah. You heard this a lot. But she actually had a very moderate voting record on the D.C. circuit. And her first few years on the Court, she was not a liberal firebrand. She`s really come out of her shell. (END VIDEO CLIP) She`s become the leader of the liberal wing of the Court. And she`s enjoying now really, like making her voice heard in the way of the ACLU feminist that she was before this. She`s kind of kept that light under a bushel. And, now, she`s saying, "You know what, I`m going to talk about this life I`ve experienced and I`m going to talk about the things that really animate me and that matter to me." O`DONNELL: And, Ari, that kind of evolution on the bench is such a common story in the history of the Court among justices. MELBER: You see that a lot. And what you see now is the Court has become a highly professionalized technocratic Court. These are all people who have been judges used to that. It used to be that we had politicians, governors, other types of individuals who, at least, as one positive, would have had a very clear idea of what they`re willing to fight for. That`s something that politicians have to do. I think, judges have a lot of tools if they want to lay back or be careful. John Roberts, highly careful before he got out of the Supreme Court. FILIPOVIC: Elena Kagan, highly careful. MELBER: Exactly. So, I think she is someone who has used the time, though, in power to speak very clearly. And even when she`s lost some recent cases on civil rights, voting rights, reading her dissents strongly from the bench, trying to speak not only to the American public but, I think, to law students around the country, looking forward to where these cases may go. O`DONNELL: A very special thanks to Irin Carmon for this interview and joining us tonight. Jill Filipovic, thank you. Ari Melber, thank you. MELBER: Thank you. O`DONNELL: Coming up, the murder of the -- (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) -- the confession of murder by the man who killed the real "American Sniper," Chris Kyle. (END VIDEO CLIP) (COMMERCIAL BREAK) A Texas jury heard the confession today of Eddie Ray Routh, a former Marine accused of murdering the real "American Sniper," Chris Kyle and Chad Littlefield. During the testimony of Texas Ranger Danny Briley, prosecutors introduced the nearly hour-long video of Eddie Ray Routh`s confession the night he was apprehended. The judge has refused to make the audio of the video available to the news media. Before Eddie Ray Routh confesses, he tells Texas Ranger Danny Briley, -- (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) -- "I Keep talking to Chris, you know. There are a few dozen Chrises in the world. I talked to another man named Chris who gets sent to another man named Chris." "I was thinking about talking to the Wolf, you know, the one in the sky. The ones in the sky are the ones that fly, you know what I mean, the pigs in the world." (END VIDEO CLIP) When he finally admits to killing Chris Kyle and Chad Littlefield, Eddie Ray Routh says, -- (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) -- "I told my sister I had to kill men today. It wasn`t a want to. It was a need. I had to, get out of that situation today. If I didn`t, I was going to be the next one up there getting my head chopped." (END VIDEO CLIP) Joining me now is Dianna Hunt, who was inside the courtroom today, covering the trial for the "Dallas Morning News." Dianna, one of the points raised about the confession is, does it show that this person is insane, was insane at the time of this incident. How was that evidence delivered today. DIANNA HUNT, DALLAS MORNING NEWS REPORTER: I think it`s -- it was quite a contradictory set of comments from him. He clearly told the ranger he knew that what he had done was wrong. He clearly was exhibiting signs of rather severe mental illness at the time. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) The question is going to be whether the jury believes he was so mentally ill at the time of the killings that he didn`t know what he was doing was wrong. He went back and forth. A couple of times he said, "Yes, I know I was wrong. I know I was wrong." And then, a couple of times, he said, "Well, if I had stayed there, would that have been the right thing to do." So, he clearly was confused about it. We`ll just have to see what the jury thinks." (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: And, Dianna, this is the first time that the jury is hearing his voice, isn`t it. HUNT: Yes, it is the first time that they`re hearing his voice. He had kind of a low, gravelly -- he was kind of speaking off the cuff, kind of tossing lots of really random, -- (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) -- nonsensical stuff. It sounded like complete sentences but it didn`t make any sense. O`DONNELL: A sample of it is, from his confession, -- (END VIDEO CLIP) -- him saying, "I can`t just keep eating my soul up about this, you know. You can`t just let people keep eating up your soul for free, -- (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) -- you know. It`s not what it`s about. It`s about having the soul that`s in you, for yourself. I`ve got tons of people eating on my soul right now. Look, I haven`t been able to sleep because I keep waiting for them to come back and take my soul." That`s just one -- (END VIDEO CLIP) -- example, Dianna, of what you heard as all over that confession. I assume, both sides, prosecution and defense, think there are benefits to them in that confession. HUNT: Clearly, they do. The investigator, Danny Briley, the Texas Ranger, said, clearly, he knew what he was doing was wrong. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) He confessed to the killing. He wanted to apologize to the family. He said, "If I could talk to the family, I would tell them I`m sorry for what I`ve done," that, "if I could do it over, I could do -- I would do it differently." But, then again, he also went -- said they were stealing and that he had to kill them before they killed him. It was a very contradictory tape. I think it probably offered help to both the prosecution and the defense. O`DONNELL: Dianna Hunt, thanks for joining me again tonight. HUNT: Thank you. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: Coming up, Lorne Michaels, the man who everyone thanked last night for 40 years "SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE," tells Matt Lauer how he does it. (END VIDEO CLIP) (COMMERCIAL BREAK) A new poll shows presidential hopeful, Chris Christie`s approval numbers in his home state of New Jersey are at a record low. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) A new Rutgers Eagleton poll has Governor Christie`s job approval among New Jersey voters at 42 percent approve and 52 percent disapprove. And only 37 have a favorable opinion of Governor Christie, and 53 percent have an unfavorable opinion of the governor. (END VIDEO CLIP) Lorne Michaels, in his own words, next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MIKE MYERS, ACTOR: Number two, Lorne Michaels. (CHEERS AND APPLAUSE) What can be said about Lorne Michaels that he himself has not already said -- (LAUGHTER) -- about himself. (LAUGHTER) I mean, the man is a genius. For 40 years, -- DANA CARVEY, ACTOR: Minus five. MYERS: Yes. (LAUGHTER) He would say things like, "OK, we`re going to lick all the laugh. But did it get the right laugh." (LAUGHTER AND APPLAUSE) (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: The "SATUDAY NIGHT LIVE" 40th Anniversary Special was seen by more than 23 million people, making it NBC`s highest primetime entertainment special in 10 years. Matt Lauer talked to Lorne Michaels, Creator and Executive Producer of "SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE." (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) MATT LAUER, NBC HOST: You oversee this show literally and figuratively. LORNE MICHAELS, "SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE" CREATOR AND EXECUTIVE PRODUCER: Yes, totally, yes. LAUER: Figuratively but, literally, your office -- (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) -- is right up there. MICHAELS: Yes, well, the first -- (END VIDEO CLIP) three days, Monday to -- (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) -- Wednesday, we`re up on the 17th floor. (LAUGHTER) That`s where the writing is done and, mostly, early production. And then, we move down here on Thursday, and then it gets fairly intense Friday night late because you`re locking in the show and changes are still coming in. And then the host, very often, is filming until 5:00 in the morning, and might have started at 6:00 in the morning that day, filming something else. (END VIDEO CLIP) It`s always sort of coming together. LAUER: I`ve worked in this building for 22 years, not as long as you, but a long time. So, I`ve heard a lot of Lorne Michaels story. MICHAELS: I bet, yes. (LAUGHTER) LAUER: OK. And I`ve heard a lot of words associated with you. I`m going to throw a couple of them at you. MICHAELS: Sure. LAUER: Give me a yes or no, -- MICHAELS: All right. LAUER: -- OK. Youthful, -- (LAUGHTER) -- handsome, youthful. MICHAELS: Yes. I`ve heard those. LAUER: Creative. MICHAELS: Yes, yes. Creative, yes, yes, sure. LAUER: Powerful. MICHAELS: Inevitably, now, yes. Yes. LAUER: Controlling. MICHAELS: Controlling, you know, sort of has a negative context. I`d say in-charge. I think people have to know who`s in charge because -- and everyone has to have a direct route to you. You know, pretty much, I talk to everyone. And that`s -- and then I listen, I absorb it. But, at some point, you make a decision and then you move on. LAUER: Unflappable. MICHAELS: Calm, yes. LAUER: Yes? MICHAELS: Yes. LAUER: The other word that I hear a lot -- MICHAELS: Uh-huh. LAUER: -- used with you that surprises me -- MICHAELS: Uh-huh. LAUER: -- is serious. MICHAELS: I`m a serious guy, yes, but I`m also -- nothing makes me happier -- Steve Martin and I -- he called yesterday and he was going over the jokes, the monologue, and I was so happy laughing because you get -- you can get lost in detail. And then you go, "Oh, right, that`s the reason we`re all here," is we`re going to make people laugh. And that generally starts with you laughing yourself. And that`s joy. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) CHEVY CHASE, ACTOR: Live from New York, it`s "SATURDAY NIGHT." (APPLAUSE) UNIDENTIFIED MALE VOICE-OVER: Joy that began 40 years ago with a cast that reads like a who`s who of comedy, Chevy Chase, John Belushi, Dan Aykroyd, Jane Curtin, Gilda Radner, Lorraine Newman and Garrett Morris. (END VIDEO CLIP) LAUER: I always think that when you plant that seed and those roots take hold -- MICHAELS: Uh-huh. LAUER: -- from that first season, that that`s the foundation. Was that first group of people that you put together the reason we`re sitting here 40 years later. MICHAELS: Oh, no question. The show stands on their -- (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) -- shoulders. They were, them and the designers, the -- you know, the musicians, every aspect of the taste of the show came from really, -- (END VIDEO CLIP) -- you know, seriously creative people. LAUER: It`s hard to gather and get your arms around those egos. How did you manage it. MICHAELS: I think that there was a sort of pseudo-egalitarian aspect to the show, which was, part of that was the `70s. And part of it was, -- (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) -- you need the others. Everyone, we were all working together. It wasn`t fair. Sometimes, you cut someone`s piece, and they`d -- they`d think there`s a bias or they`d -- (END VIDEO CLIP) -- but, mostly, everybody understood that I was just trying to go for the best show possible each week. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) LAUER: It`s well-documented that a couple of the brightest stars of this show, in the past, -- MICHAELS: Uh-huh. LAUER: -- flamed out -- MICHAELS: Yes. LAUER: -- tragically. MICHAELS: Yes. LAUER: When they did, did you take it personally. (END VIDEO CLIP) MICHAELS: No, because, you know, the weirdest part about this show is you`re just here. And you don`t much leave the building except to go home. So, when people go away or people go to Hollywood or leave the show, you stay in touch. But, mostly, they come back. And you see them or -- but they were in a different world then, so -- (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) -- when John died, he was -- he had gone three years, you know, so it`s a different -- (END VIDEO CLIP) -- power structure out there. Here, it`s a very clear thing of we have a job to do, we have to get it done. LAUER: So, do you think, in some ways, leaving that structure, that power structure here was the biggest problem? MICHAELS: Yes, and I think structure is incredibly important to creative people. I think boundaries and structure have to exist. LAUER: Does it ever bug you when people take a nostalgic view of the show. In other words, -- (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) -- you hear people say a lot, -- MICHAELS: Yes. LAUER: -- "Oh, the cast today is not like -- MICHAELS: Oh, yes, yes. LAUER: -- the cast it was when I was in college." MICHAELS: Yes. LAUER: Or, "when I graduated from college." MICHAELS: Right. LAUER: We all have kind of a sweet spot -- MICHAEL: Right. LAUER: -- where we view the show. Does it bug you. (END VIDEO CLIP) MICHAELS: No, not at all. I think that, generally, when people talk about the best cast, I think, well, that`s when they were high school. Because, in high school, you have the least amount of power you`re ever going to have. You don`t get to drive, you don`t have any money. Staying up with friends late on a Saturday is great. And people attach to a cast. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) LAUER: Do you worry about your legacy. Do you -- MICHAELS: No. I think the thing about -- the moment you begin to, first of all, talk about yourselves in the third person or begin to think about where you are or worry about where your museum is going to go, you know, I think it`s just a major art of the game. And I love the game too much. And why would you want to leave the game if you`re good at it. When you`re no longer good at it, then you disagree for a while and then, -- (LAUGHTER) -- gradually, you will leave. LAUER: So, you`d segue perfectly into the last question, which is, you`re here on the 40th Anniversary, -- MICHAELS: Yes. LAUER: -- will you be here on the 45th Anniversary. MICHAELS: Yes. I would expect so, yes. LAUER: So, we end with the best headline we could have. You`ll be here for the 45th. (LAUGHTER) END