Multiple members of Congress are intensifying calls for the expulsion of their colleagues in the wake of a new report which may shed new light on the degree to which Republican members of Congress and their offices and staffers may have had an active role in planning the protests leading up to the January 6 insurrection. NBC News has obtained tens of thousands of pages of Facebook`s internal documents first shared with the SEC and Congress that`s suggesting the social media giant knew it was being used to spread misinformation and harmful content but ignored red flags from its own employees.
JOY REID, MSNBC HOST: Isn`t that exactly what we saw from Trump and now with Baby Don Death-Santis. Killer Ron has gone all in. He isn`t even pretending to care about Floridians staying alive anymore making the jump from anti-mandate to anti-vax even as almost 60,000 Floridians have died. DeSantis who`s sacrificing citizen`s lives for career as a want to be death cult leader and who`s throwing down the COVID welcome mat to lock in the anti-vax vote. Can dead people vote? Asking for a friend, Ron DeSantis, once again, you`re the absolute worst.
And that`s tonight`s "REIDOUT." ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES starts now.
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REP. BENNIE THOMPSON, (D-MS): that we identified.
CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: New details on what was happening inside the Trump war room during the insurrection and why new reporting on Republican members has AOC and others calling for expulsion.
REP. MO BROOKS (R-AL): Today is the day American patriots start taking down names and kicking ass.
HAYES: Then, Carol`s journey to QAnon. Explosive new reporting on what Facebook knew about how it radicalized users.
And writer, producer and director Ava DuVernay on her new Netflix collaboration with Colin Kaepernick and this American moment, when ALL IN starts right now.
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Good evening from New York I`m Chris Hayes. Multiple members of Congress are intensifying calls for the expulsion of their colleagues in the wake of a new report not yet confirmed by NBC News which may shed new light on the degree to which Republican members of Congress and their offices and staffers may have had an active role in planning the protests leading up to the January 6 Insurrection.
Now, before we get to that rolling stone report which is precipitated these new calls for expulsion -- again, NBC has not confirmed that, it`s worth assessing all of the available facts that we have confirmed, things that we do know from a variety of sources.
Even prior to this reporting over the weekend, all of that information already painted an incredibly damning picture of the ways in which Donald Trump and his allies including Congressional allies work to overthrow the results of a free and fair election. So, just to reset, we know that Donald Trump called the Georgia Secretary of State urging him to find enough missing votes to reverse the outcome of the election in that state.
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DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: So, look, all I want to do is this. I just want to find 11,780 votes which is one more that we have because we won the state and flipping the state is a great testament to our country because you know and there`s just -- it`s a testament that they can admit to a mistake or whatever you want to call it.
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HAYES: Whatever you want to call it. You come up with the justification for giving us one more vote than we need. Trump of course also called a member of the Wayne County board of canvassers in Michigan after she agreed to certify Biden`s win there having initially refused to, remember? She flipped, then he called her.
Trump also called the chairman of the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors in Arizona. That individual says he never returned the president`s call because he presumed Trump was similarly trying to pressure him to change the results of the election that he oversaw.
Now, we`ve been talking about this conduct for so long can be easy to lose sight of how wildly inappropriate it is. I mean, the sitting president united states the most powerful man in the country if not the world calling up these local officials brow-baiting, berating people without a natural platform, and at least one case explicitly pressuring them to overturn the election results in his favor.
But again, that`s just one small set of what he was up to, the President and his allies. There`s of course the John Eastman memo which provided Trump with a clear road map to destroy American democracy on January 6 by tasking Vice President Mike Fence with refusing to certify the election sending the results back to the states where as Eastman notes in the memo, Trump-aligned legislators could overturn the will of their constituents over bogus allegations of fraud.
We also know that Eastman attended meetings at that so-called command center at Washington`s Willard Hotel along with Trump allies Rudy Giuliani and Steve Bannon where they work to push that conspiracy both inside and outside Trump world. As the Washington Post reports, "Their activities included finding and publicizing alleged evidence of fraud, urging members of state legislatures -- again, remember, that`s part of the plan here -- to challenge Biden`s victory and calling on the Trump-supporting public to press Republican officials in key states.
To that end, we know Trump met with sympathetic legislators from Pennsylvania at the White House after phoning into one of their hearings to declare that he "won Pennsylvania by a lot. Thanks to the recent report by the Senate Judiciary Committee, we also know Trump made multiple attempts to get the Department of Justice to interfere, speaking with the DOJ according -- again, to that Senate report -- nine times just between December and early January where he repeatedly asked officials "To initiate investigations, file lawsuits on his behalf, and publicly declare the 2020 election corrupt."
The acting attorney general at the time, a man named -- the Acting Attorney General -- the acting head of the Civil Division in the Department of Justice, a man named Jeffrey Clark is set to testify before House committee investigating January 6 this week, so we could look to -- learn more about the nature of those calls from the president soon.
But it was not just Donald Trump and his legal advisors pushing to delegitimize the results the election and placing January 6 in the forefront of their attempts to do so. Back in December of 2020, it was contemporaneously reported that House Republicans led by avid Trump super Congressman Mo Brooks of Alabama were meeting with the White House about ways to overturn the election results. Again, not a secret, not doing this behind closed doors, in Politico.
And Congressman Brooks wasn`t really like sneaky about this. You may remember that he said this in the rally on stage leading up to the insurrection on January 6.
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BROOKS: We are not going to let them continue to corrupt our elections and steal from us our God-given right to control our nation`s destiny. Today is the day American patriots start taking down names and kicking ass.
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HAYES: He just said it there in public quite loudly into the microphone. Now, Congressman Brooks has since tried to distance himself from the events of January 6, but it is worth remembering he admitted to wearing body armor to that speech somewhat strange perhaps a sign that he was concerned the day`s proceedings might not be entirely peaceful.
On January 4th, Congressman Madison Cawthorn of North Carolina tweeted, "January 6 is fast approaching. The future of this republic hinges on the actions of a solitary few. Get ready. The fate of a nation rests on your shoulders, yours and mine. Let`s show Washington that our backbones are made of steel and titanium. It`s time to fight."
On the morning of the six, Congresswoman Lauren Boebert of Colorado tweeted, "today is 1776" which it is, I mean it`s obvious, but worth pointing out nonetheless. That`s a reference to the American revolutionary war when a government was being violently overthrown. Perhaps the most damning tweet came later that day from Congressman Paul Gosar of Arizona, a picture of the pro-Trump crowd in DC in the capital. The caption "Biden should concede. I want his concession on my desk tomorrow morning. Don`t make me come over there."
Think about that. What`s that mean come over there? And do what exactly, Congressman? Or better yet, maybe you should tell the committee of your colleagues investigating the events of that day because it sure does look like you were encouraging this mob to use threats of physical force to overturn the reluctant results of the election.
Now, in the wake of the attack on the Capitol and Donald Trump`s second impeachment for his involvement in inciting it, there were calls for these pro-insurrection members of Congress to be removed from office. Again, just based on what was known publicly on those tweets and the things they said and the meetings they took. Those calls for them to be expelled are intensifying again today.
And that comes in response to that new reporting from Rolling Stone. Again, we`re going to be very transparent here. The reporting has not been confirmed by NBC News, it`s based on multiple anonymous sources, but it has precipitated these renewed calls by members of Congress who appear to be taking it seriously because it alleges that a number of their colleagues, sitting colleagues and staff including Representatives Gosar and Boebert and Cawthorn and Brooks as well as Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor-Greene and then White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows communicated with the people planning the protests leading up to the insurrection with one -- again, anonymous protest organizer telling the magazine "We would talk to Boebert`s team Cawthorn`s team, Gosar`s team, like back to back to back.
Now, I should tell you. Congresswoman Lauren Boebert of Colorado has called the story false and said, "I had no role in the planning or execution of any event that took place at the Capitol or anywhere in Washington D.C. on January 6."
In a statement, Congressman Louie Gohmert of Texas also named the article denied that he or anyone in his office participated in the planning of the Stop the Steel rally on January 6 or any criminal activity. NBC has reached out to the offices of Congressman Gosar and Brooks, we have not yet heard back.
But again, take that Rolling Stone report which has prompted these new calls from members of Congress and just take that entirely to the side and pretend it didn`t happen. Just look at the public record of what we know. Donald Trump and his allies did what they did and the many attempts to sow distrust in our elections and facilitate a coup. And on that alone, there - - I think is a pretty good argument that many of these people aren`t fit to hold public office.
Betsy Woodruff Swan is a national correspondent for Politico where she has exhaustively covered the fallout from the January 6th insurrection. Robert Costa is a national political reporter for the Washington Post, co-author of Peril with veteran journalist Bob Woodward about the closing weeks of the Trump administration which of course includes this period of time.
And Robert, maybe let`s start there. Your book includes quite a bit of reporting on this and you have done quite a bit of reporting specifically on the president`s inner circle and their coordination about the date of the sixth. Give us a sense of what you found and how much outreach there was to members of Congress?
ROBERT COSTA, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER, WASHINGTON POST: At times, looking at all these events and episodes can be like looking at an abstract painting on the wall with a lot of colors and different points. But the one to focus on I would suggest as a reporter is Trump himself.
What is Trump doing? He`s the commander-in-chief, the president at the time, January 5th calling into the war room as we depict in our book talking to Bannon and talking to Giuliani, also talking that night to Senator Ted Cruz of Texas trying to whip up Senate Republicans to object to every state.
This is an effort that would had a lot of players but let`s never forget, it`s Trump himself driving this from the top with lawmakers pressure on the VP on DOJ and so many other fronts.
HOLT: Betsy, you`ve been doing so much reporting on this. And one of the things -- the reason that I think we`ve seen this reaction from members of Congress to this report is that the context here is a suspicion not I think harbored but not established at all, in fact denied by certain members, that there was essentially active collusion by Republican members of Congress with the folks who are storming the Capitol.
I think some Democratic members have sort of intimated that, they`ve kind of you know walked up to the line of making that accusation. That hangs over this entire investigation right now and you see it in how quickly those calls got made by Democratic members. What do you think?
BETSY WOODRUFF-SWAN, NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT, POLITICO: Yes, it highlights why there`s such a focus and such a massive level of interest in the January 6th Select Committee. This Rolling Stones story is based on anonymous sources. We don`t know who`s making these claims. What we do know is that the Select Committee is endeavoring to interview on the record and under oath the people who organized the January 6th rally, one of their first batches of subpoenas that they sent out went to the rally organizers. As we`re all very well aware, lying to Congressional investigators is against the law.
They have an opportunity to bring in these people who know whether or not this reporting is correct, get them under oath, and get them to tell the whole story. And remember, these rally organizers were not executive branch officials. They don`t have any way of claiming that executive privilege covers the information that they have regarding the events of that day.
And we also know that the committee is moving really quickly to try to enforce its subpoenas with exhibit A being Steve Bannon and the contempt vote against him. So, that`s why reporting like this and stories along these lines that have come out in recent months is part of the reason that this investigation is so important because it`s a rare opportunity and perhaps the last opportunity to get all these folks who are involved who know the whole story and to get them to tell the story.
HAYES: Robert, there`s a lot in your book on that Willard Hotel meeting. And again, that`s one portion of the sort of plan here. But it`s pretty clear that Meadows at the very least is in touch with the folks that are in that war room and planning to make the sort of big last stand on the sixth.
So many people in the present circle were involved, certainly Mark Meadows was chief of staff to Trump at the time and was intimately involved with everything that was going on about the sixth. And you have to think about what they were trying to do. It was prevent Biden from taking office, that there is the violence that happens on the six and the committee is probing were there connections between some of the organizing to prevent Biden from taking office with the direct violence that happened on the Capitol and that`s still an area of reporting.
But Meadows himself was directly involved with the efforts driven by the president to have the rally to pressure lawmakers, to pressure Pence.
HAYES: Yes, and there was one of those organizers who`s an associate of Bannon as Dustin Stockton was talking to the committee today, Betsy, in the days and weeks leading up to that rally. Stockton heavily promoted the event. In the aftermath, he`s defended some of the militia groups with significant contingents charged with participating in the attack on the Capitol. What can you tell us about Stockton?
SWAN: Yes, that`s right. Stockton goes way, you know, quite far back with Steve Bannon. He`s written for Breitbart News which of course is one of the conservative media outlets that really laid the groundwork for Trumpism. Stockton was also connected to the effort that got Bannon indicted, a group called We Build the Wall that purported to get donations from grassroots conservative activists and try to use the money to build the wall in the Southern Border.
Federal prosecutors alleged that Bannon and others actually uh misappropriated that money and used it for stuff not related to building the wall. Trump pardoned Bannon before that could go to trial. Stockton has not been charged with any crimes in connection to this. But it shows that he very much has a close long-standing relationship with Bannon who of course was also deeply connected to the outside efforts by Trump`s non- government supporters to really foment a very high level of dissension and pushback against the legitimate outcome of the 2020 election results.
HAYES: Yes, that`s I think the key point to stay focused on here, Robert and Betsy, is that the entire project from the President on down was to overturn a free and fair election and install the loser over the winner essentially by whatever means at his disposal.
The question that sort of is called by this reporting and I think the committee`s going to look to is how much of their -- how much operational foreknowledge of the actual storming of the capitol existed and who might have been a party to that. Betsy Woodruff Swan and Robert Costa, thank you both.
COSTA: Thank you.
SWAN: Thank you.
HAYES: So much more to come tonight, including the amazing producer Director Ava DuVernay on her new collaboration with Colin Kaepernick. And up next, one of the House Democrats who`s re-upping the call to expel Republicans from Congress in the wake of the insurrection. We`ll be right back.
HAYES: As we learn more and more about how sitting members of Congress may be possibly implicated in the big planning of January 6, those members are still in Congress right now. Many of them are still out there propagating the lie the election was stolen, others are on the floor of the House of Representatives starting fights. Like last week when according to Congressman Jamie Raskin, Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia screamed at Congresswoman Liz Cheney Wyoming following the floor vote to hold Steve Bannon in contempt.
There`s a lingering question here which is what are we doing here? What are we going to do about this? Yesterday, Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio- Cortez suggested that "Any member of congress who helped plot a terrorist attack on our Nation`s Capitol must be expelled. There is a resolution in Congress to investigate and expel members who helped incite the insurrection. It has 54 co-sponsors including our next guest.
Congressman Mondaire Jones, Democrat of New York, one of the original co- sponsors of that bill, a member of the House Judiciary Committee, and he joins me now.
It`s good to have you, Congressman. The -- I think there`s a kind of key distinction. I don`t want to slice this tooth in, but worth talking about. Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez uses planning I think in that tweet. Corey Bush`s resolution that you are part of as well says incite. To your mind, has that threshold already been cleared in terms of incitement by members of Congress?
REP. MONDAIRE JONES (D-NY): Well, Chris, it`s great to be on your show again. You know, there is a fine point and I think that that`s why it`s so important to conduct the investigation that Corey Bush and so many of -- other of my colleagues including myself called for early this year. I appreciate the reporting done by Rolling Stone.
Obviously, there needs to be further investigation. And of course, this was the entire point of the Select Committee which we had hoped would be done on a bipartisan basis earlier this year, but we couldn`t get enough support from our Republican colleagues in the United States Senate to do a simple bipartisan investigation of what happened on January 6.
And so, that`s why you`re seeing Democrats lead the way, issue subpoenas that are uncovering day by day the kind of information that we are seeing reported in Rolling Stone.
HAYES: What -- but expulsion from Congress, I mean, the 14th amendment allows for it because obviously they were dealing with the idea of essentially traitors, the country insurrectionists serving in Congress that`s contemplated and stipulated in the 14th amendment. You know, explosion from Congress is obviously an incredibly dramatic step. It`s been contested before the Supreme Court. Like, take me through your thinking about what that threshold should be. How seriously should we think about that as a remedy?
JONES: We should think about it very seriously. Let`s be clear. January 6 was an attempt to overthrow the federal government to stop the certification of that free and fair presidential election last November. And, of course, it was an event a violent insurrection that nearly took my life and the lives of so many of my colleagues and of course, staff persons at the Capitol including the Capitol Police. And so, we`ve got to make sure that we take this very seriously.
I realize that it`s been a few months since it happened, but it is no less serious today than it was on January 6 itself and what we are learning through this investigation by the select committee and increasingly through public reporting on that investigation is that the folks who tried to kill us on January 6 came dangerously close to doing so of course but also came dangerously close to overthrowing the federal government.
Expulsion has to be on the table. It is one of the most severe consequences, if not the most severe consequence that Congress can engage in. And it is I think appropriate in such an instance.
HAYES: What is the temperature of Capitol Hill right now on this question? I`ve been interviewing members of Congress and it was it was so raw after January 6th. There was -- there were the sort of fracas over the metal detectors on the floor. And there was, you know, these sort of incidents, these kind of world wrestling incidents by certain members of Republican caucus particularly confronting members. What are things like there now as this of course hangs over all your interactions?
JONES: The fact is, Chris, it`s been a tense environment for the duration of this year. Many of us as your earlier guests noted have been suspicious of our Republican colleagues who we know from their public statements and general behavior were at a minimum supportive of what happened on January 6. The question is, in what ways did they provide support? Did they indeed plan or help plan that violent insurrection?
And so, I think that`s why you`re seeing a lot of folks say we would not be surprised if this reporting by rolling stone turned out to be true. And it`s why the Select Committee has to continue to do its important work. We`ve got to get to the bottom of this to ensure that it never happens again.
If we don`t have a democracy moving forward, then we cease to be the United States of America that the world and that we know ourselves as.
HAYES: Congressman Mondaire Jones, newly elected and serving in New York, thank you very much.
JONES: Thank you.
HAYES: Coming up, a stunning new report about how much Facebook knew about the ways it radicalized users and how quickly it can happen. Brandy Zadrozny has a story and she joins me next.
HAYES: During the summer of 2019, Carol Smith signed up for Facebook. According to her profile, she was a politically conservative mother from North Carolina, said she was interested in politics, parenting, and Christianity and she followed accounts for Fox News and then President Donald Trump.
NBC News`s Brandy Zadrozny reports, Though Smith had never expressed interest in conspiracy theories, in just two days, Facebook was recommending she joined groups dedicated to QAnon, a sprawling and baseless conspiracy theory movement that claimed Trump was secretly saving the world from a cabal of pedophiles and Satanists."
But it didn`t end there. Smith didn`t follow the recommended QAnon groups but whatever algorithm Facebook was using to determine how she should engage with the platform pushed ahead just the same. Within one week, smith`s feed was full of groups and pages that had violated Facebook`s own rules including those against hate speech and disinformation.
That`s all really bad but it gets worse because Carol Smith isn`t real. Her account was created by a researcher employed by Facebook who was specifically studying how Facebook misinforms and polarizes its users. The company knew what it was doing. They knew they were driving people to those extreme viewpoints and they knew it years ago.
A senior reporter for NBC News who brought Carol`s story to our attention is Brandy Zadrozny and she joins me now. Brandy, take us through the context of this. What is your reporting based on and what were the researchers trying to do in creating these profiles?
BRANDY ZADROZNY, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Hey, Chris. So, this was one of tens of thousands of documents that we have been pouring over the last three weeks as part of a consortium with 17 other news organizations, looking at the documents that whistleblower Francis Haugen has handed over to the SEC and Congress.
A lot of this -- a lot of these documents were also the basis of those blockbuster Wall Street Journal reports that we saw. So, we`ve been pouring over these documents and this is one of many examples of internal research that we saw that genius researchers really inside Facebook we`re talking PHDs who really know their stuff had been doing to sound the alarm to Facebook`s product divisions and Facebook`s features and Facebook executives to say you are causing harm on your platform.
Now, also what this highlighted is that this was in the summer of 2019. Now. that -- it wasn`t until October of 2020 that Facebook said, oh hey, we`re going to take QAnon down, they`re actually quite dangerous. This is after several violent incidences including some shooting. So, it`s not like it was any mystery to them. We know now that they knew for over a year this was a violent conspiracy theory thriving on its platform through its own recommendation algorithms and it waited and waited and waited until a month before the election just call it quits.
HAYES: So, here`s -- I want to ask a very finely parsed question that I`ve been mulling on as I read your story. And let me see if I can articulate this specifically. Like, so the algorithm is predicting that this woman with this profile would like this QAnon stuff, right? And it keeps pushing it towards her even when she doesn`t affirmatively say yes, get me into that group.
But at some level, it`s like the algorithm is correct. Like, I mean they have her pegged as the kind of person who might be Q curious. Like, I`m trying to get it. Like, what -- at what level is the Algorithm doing here, and at what level is the work being done by people`s nested preferences and trust relationships external to Facebook.
ZADROZNY: Yes. That`s a very well-worded question. You know, earlier this year, I think about it a lot that`s Facebook`s VP of global comms. He made a blog post where he said, hey, it takes two to tango. And basically, it`s almost like to me someone -- Facebook is polling these people across the dance floor. And when they finally get them on the floor, hey, dancing is pretty fun.
So, you know, you relent and join these groups. It`s hard to say chicken or egg here, but the fact is that even people who didn`t get it in first and didn`t want to be a part of these groups first, slowly made the transition over. And for what it`s worth, you know, Facebook has this interesting project going called Project Drebbel, and it`s named for the 17th century Dutch inventor who invented the first navigable submarine, so you can get the metaphor.
And it`s diving deep to find out how do these people get in these Facebook groups. How do they get to QAnon? Is it a crunchy mom`s group? What is this third degree of separation that really pours people into these rabbit holes? And can they, these researchers task with understanding, can they somehow cover up or turn down the algorithm on those initial rabbit holes and maybe fix it that way? It`s a really interesting research project. But as we know about Facebook`s research projects, they don`t translate into any policy.
HAYES: Well, that`s -- and that to me is what is so striking and in many ways, damning about so much of the reporting including this which is the -- what you`re seeing a consistent theme are reflection of internal to Facebook precisely the same concern about public reporting about the nature of the tools about essentially doing whatever gets the most engagement even at the cost of social harm, about pushing people towards disinformation and more conspiracy sites. And that is exactly what the researchers from Facebook are looking at while this reporting is outside and their PR people are saying like we have a problem here.
ZADROZNY: Yes. I mean, the first step that I did when I got all of these documents is I made a list of all the researchers that I`ve been talking to for the last half-decade who had been calling these warning signs and then calling out the platform, especially for the recommendation engine. And you know, I got one Stanford researcher on the phone and I was looking over these documents with her and she was so angry because you`re exactly right. Facebook, comms and Facebook top brass has had been gaslighting us for years saying, oh, that`s not happening on the platform. You really can`t say that. That`s not fair. It`s actually quite nice for your grandchildren. And they knew the whole time. They knew the whole time.
HAYES: Yes. Brandy Zadrozny, great reporting and thanks for sharing it with us. I appreciate it.
Coming up, my interview with a great filmmaker Ava DuVernay on her new series with Colin Kaepernick and the National reckoning he sparked in the five years since he took a knee. Do not go anywhere. Ava DuVernay joins me in just ahead.
HAYES: The Dallas Independent School District is among the largest in the country serving nearly 150,000 students, employing 22,000 staff members. One day last month, many Dallas teachers woke up to an e-mail asking them to rat out their colleagues who promote so called critical race theory and what the e-mail referred to as predatory gender fluidity.
The right has turned critical race theory or CRT into a kind of catch all term for the teaching of just about anything having to do with the history of racial hierarchy and slavery in this country. The Daily Beast obtained a copy of the e-mail sent by a group that`s calling itself Save Texas Kids and calling for teachers to snitch on each other.
They say, "The game is rigged against kids, parents, and teachers who want to do the right thing. But with your help, it doesn`t have to be." We`ve been seeing stories like this all over the country people emboldened by right-wing officials like those in Texas where an anti-critical race theory law recently went to effect, organizing groups to go around naming and purging those they disagree with.
Save Texas Kids cloaks this as a fight for our children claiming liberal educators, school board members, and city leaders have decided to brainwash our children. Now, that same group has blast out another e-mail to Dallas educators, and if you thought last month`s was bad, this one`s actually worse.
It landed in teachers inboxes on Friday. It says, thanks to you. We have received multiple reports of illegal critical race theory incorporated in orientation materials for school staff at Dallas Independent School District. It is unacceptable for staff to be taught to treat kids differently based on their race or ethnicity. As the district is well aware, this is expressly prohibited by Texas law. We will be demanding a full and complete investigation to all staff trainings at DISD.
Unfortunately, there are some teachers were angry. We are shining a light on their illegal activities. We want to mention one such teacher, and they named the teacher, for not only slandering members of our group but also appearing to violate Texas law through her admitted instruction of illegal critical race theory.
Specifically, she made an assignment out of reading and critically analyzing our letter from last month. That`s against the law? We are thick skinned, and don`t mind criticism, but this was not criticism. This was a clear attempt to indoctrinate children with a political ideology. Save Texas Kids is filing a grievance against this teacher and demanding the DISD immediately terminate her.
So, for the Dallas Independent School District has not commented on this last e-mail, but it`s in my opinion, having read the e-mail, creepy as hell. This kind of targeted attack on teachers is rooted in the right-wing freaked out about children learning the real history of our country, history of racial oppression, hierarchy, its enduring power today.
You could argue that the contemporary modern movement fight over this, over this terrain specifically, was really sparked in part by the former quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers, Colin Kaepernick and his kneeling protests in the national anthem to highlight police brutality and racial injustice.
Renowned filmmaker Ava DuVernay has been working with Kaepernick on a new drama series from Netflix about his life experiences that led him to take the actions you took. Ava DuVernay joins me next.
HAYES: It`s hard to pinpoint exactly when our most current era of racial reckoning and backlash to that reckoning began. It`s a perennial feature of American life since the dawn of the country. But I would say the events of 2014 were pretty big part of it. Remember, that`s the year that a police officer shot and killed 18-year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri.
That shooting resulted in huge protests in that city but also across the country. And those protests was part of what inspired the then-quarterback of the San Francisco 49ers Colin Kaepernick to remain seated during the national anthem during the 2016 preseason. He explained, "I`m not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses Black people and people of color. To me this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street, people getting paid leave and getting away with murder."
Kaepernick started getting bad backlash for sitting including from a former NFL player named Nate Boyer who also served as a Green Beret. Kaepernick reached out to him and Boyer suggested taking a knee instead of sitting.
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NATE BOYER, FORMER NFL PLAYER: In my opinion, and in my experience, kneeling has never been in our history really seen as a disrespectful act. I mean, people kneel when they get knighted, kneel to propose to your wife, and you take a knee to pray, and soldiers often taken a kneel in front of the fallen brother`s grave to pay respects. So, I thought if anything besides standing, that was the most respectful but of course, that`s just my opinion."
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HAYES: Out of that, Kaepernick started kneeling. The practice was quickly adopted by other players in the league and became a point of grievance famously for presidential candidate Donald Trump among many others. Kaepernick will not play again after the end of the 2016 season. He filed a grievance claiming the league was shutting him out.
Now, Netflix limited series Colin in Black and White helmed by award winning filmmaker Ava DuVernay explores Kaepernick`s early life through dramatization in Kaepernick own narration.
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COLIN KAEPERNICK, FORMER NFL PLAYER: Growing up with white parents, I assume their privilege was mine.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You two good?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We`re OK.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We`re fine. Thanks.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, I`m good too. Thanks.
KAEPERNICK: I was in for a rude awakening.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What`s up with Kaepernick?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The hair.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There`s something climbing out the back of his head. It`s not acceptable.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You`re just going to have to prove them wrong.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why am I always the one that has to prove them wrong? Sometimes I just feel uncomfortable.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Chin up, Colin.
KAEPERNICK: I couldn`t rebel because I didn`t know how. But now, trust your power. Love your blackness. You will know who you are.
HAYES: Ava DuVernay directed the first episode along with all the present- day scenes with Colin Kaepernick. She also has a new dramatic series Queen Sugar on the Own Network. And Ava DuVernay joins me now. It`s great to have you here.
AVA DUVERNAY, FILM DIRECTOR: Thank you. I`m happy to be here.
HAYES: It`s a -- it`s such a fascinating and novel kind of way of doing this project. And to me, it was great because I`ve been wanting to hear from him on this for so long. Here`s this person who did this, you know, remarkably seismic thing from a social perspective, has largely not given interviews. Like, how did the project come together to begin with?
DUVERNAY: Yes, I think it`s in line with the way that he`s been expressing himself, which is very selective, in some ways, obscuring his main point purposely to let people kind of have a dialogue without switching his narrative.
So, in this, I think that`s the reason why he purposely said, I want this to be in my early life, I don`t want to speak directly to what`s happening right now. But let`s talk about the early life in the foundation of where this all started. And when we first -- when he first approached me about it, I wasn`t sure I was interested in. What do I do with a famous person`s childhood story? That`s kind of kind of not my thing.
But as I start to hear his stories, and all the microaggressions, and all the little things that make up someone who had eventually become an American icon, a singular figure in American culture, it became really fascinating me to use his life as a springboard into larger conversations about race, caste, class, identity, representation, all that good stuff. And so, we collaborated in that way. And through that, he was able to speak and express himself.
HAYES: As we showed in that little clip, I mean, he is -- has white parents, he`s growing up in a universe --
DUVERNAY Adoptive parents.
HAYES: Adoptive parents, yes -- universe that`s predominantly white, and is kind of working through what his own identity is. And you kind of get a sense of this incredible arc of this person who`s sort of been on this journey from a very young age.
DUVERNAY: It`s remarkable to think where he start and where he is now. Like, how did that boy --
DUVERNAY: -- you know, a biracial kid adopted by white parents moved from Wisconsin, dairy country, to Turlock, California, dairy country, predominantly white, three sport athlete, always kind of -- and when you say three sport athlete, that`s something to be said. That someone who`s following the rules and staying within an institution, three different ones at a high level.
HAYES: And that -- when you`re that -- when you`re competing at the level he was competing at, that`s all you`re doing.
DUVERNAY: That`s all you`re doing.
HAYES: I mean, there`s no time -- like, athletics at that level, at the level he was, which we should say he`s incredible athlete ---
DUVERNAY: Incredible, three sports, at that high level. That is a kind of training, that kind of aptitude for, you know, staying in the lines. That`s what we teach our athletes to be, right, in these American sports institutions. For that -- for someone to break out of that into what he`s doing now is remarkable. And that`s what this interrogates.
HAYES: Well, at that point, I think, you know, the context, specifically football. I mean, we just saw, you know, these Jon Gruden e-mails came out and he`s, you know, saying all kinds of bigoted things about all kinds of different groups of people. There`s a quote particularly about Kaepernick that they should, you know, cut this F word.
There`s a sense in which that culture, particularly I mean -- even of all the major sports cultures is one of the most, I think, freighted with like machismo reactionary instincts kind of --
DUVERNAY: Yes, strait of racism.
HAYES: Strait of racism, exactly. Yes.
DUVERNAY: Yes, absolutely. And so, he`s so steeped in that. And it`s makes -- I feel like this piece in laying the foundation of who he is before he even gets to the point where he breaks out of that. I mean, this doesn`t even get into the NFL, it doesn`t get into, you know, college football. This is starting with the very formative early years where you are becoming who you will be.
And that for many people of color, people who are outside of the box or outside the dominant culture, these little microaggressions, these little things that just feel like paper cuts are looms large in the -- in the formation and construction of who we are as, you know, larger societal institutional issues.
And so, I think for me, it`s someone who`s often you know, analyzing and interrogating race in class and my work, the idea that we can look at the small infractions, right, and to see how much that is molding us to become who we are, became really interesting to me.
HAYES: There is -- I mean, Kaepernick kneeling really was his kind of seismic social and political event, right? It has all sorts of cascade effects, it has cascaded in the league. You`ve got -- all of a sudden now, this thing that`s been in everyone`s household you know across the country that comes, you know, awkward chatters of national anthem of the, you know, the sportscasters and Donald Trump.
And we`ve seen several rounds now I think of racial justice protest and backlash -- racial justice protests and backlash. We`re going through one of those backlashes now with this attack on critical race theory. And as someone who I think so much of your work is about basically critically encountering race through the work you do, I`m curious what you make of the backlash?
DUVERNAY: Oh, gosh. I think it`s ridiculous. It`s pedestrian. I think it`s also pretty expected. It`s in the continuum of the idea that progress can be stopped, right? It may be slowed down, but it can never be forwarded. With that, I saw -- what`s her name, Governor Ivey I think it is.
HAYES: Kay Ivey of Alabama.
DUVERNAY: She tweeted, this has been banned. Learning these things has been banned forever. Like, oh, we`re going to teach our kids to read and write. Yes, good luck. Like, good luck with that. So, at array, my place, we`re thinking about ways to push against it. But really, its parents, it`s forward-thinking people.
And I was talking to a friend the other day. He was saying, you know, what have we learned in school anyway about being black people about being an indigenous people, about being Latin X, Philippine X people, about being anyone that`s not in a dominant culture? You learn outside of the school.
And really, when we`re talking about critical race theory, we`re talking about what white children will learn about the rest of us, right? That`s what -- that`s what these protests are about or these -- I don`t even say protest, letters about save our kids -- save our kids. And -- you know, but when you really look at what people of color have been taught in schools, nothing about ourselves, and yet we`re educated by our families, by our community by, you know, our own interests.
And so, that will continue. That will continue. And so, all this talk is this talk and it`s like you said, it`s a backlash to something larger.
HAYES: Yes. I mean, that`s -- I mean, Kaepernick in interviews that I`ve seen with him talks about his own journey of sort of self-education on many things. You know, books that he hadn`t read before, thinkers that he hadn`t been introduced to, histories that he had --
DUVERNAY: I mean, that`s the case for all truly -- I think not just conscious people of color, but just in general. I mean, even like, folks who think outside of what`s been put in front of them, you have to learn that outside of school, right? You have to watch the film or talk to someone who`s experienced it, or travel, or walk a mile in someone else`s shoes, or read. And so that will continue, and that this will not be stopped. And all of this is a just a little bit of hysteria.
HAYES: I mean, there`s also -- you know, in some ways too, what I keep coming back to is these fights are because there`s real things at stake at some level. Like, what people learn about this country`s history, or what stories they`re told, or what`s stories or teachers tell them, like, are going to be the site of political conflict in any iteration of any society anywhere, particularly as the society grows more diverse.
DUVERNAY: I agree. I just feel like foundationally that the conversation excludes the kind of education that Black and Brown kids in this country, right? It really privileges the idea that this is something that can`t be taught to a certain kind of people because it`s risky and dangerous, and how dare you jeopardize our children`s pure minds with this race stuff. It`s wrong, don`t do it, I`m going to have teachers telling each other, right?
HAYES: No, and in fact --
DUVERNAY: Like, that`s what they`re doing.
HAYES: And that it`s explicitly a psychic harm to white children. I mean, that`s the --
DUVERNAY: That`s what I`m saying. So, I`m saying, you`re leaving out the entire experience I had as a child and any --
HAYES: For the vast majority of schoolchildren in the top 10 metro areas in America and public schools system particularly in New York.
DUVERNAY: Yes. So, that`s why I say it`s a little hysterical. And we spend so much time talking about it. We`ve given it so much.
HAYES: Do you think that an average -- do you think that the kinds of stories that you can tell whether it`s Netflix on TV or movies has gotten bigger, widened to the scope over say, the last 510 years of your career?
DUVERNAY: It`s interesting, because you were talking about Ferguson. And I remember when Ferguson was happening, Selma was being released. And when we talk about Kaepernick, and that was right around the time that I was working on 13th. And, you know, when they see us, you know, we`re in the midst of Trump. And so, these things they were made before those moments, each of those moments, but somehow they seem to line up.
So, I wouldn`t say that each moment instigated the ability to make the thing, but there`s something -- I think moving in the air in the last 10 years that allows a filmmaker like me that`s interested in, you know, approaching these kinds of subject matters. The ability to do with a bit more flexibility and freedom than the people before me, filmmakers before me for sure.
HAYES: Ava DuVernay, it`s so great to have you here. Thank you.
DUVERNAY: Thank you so much.
HAYES: Come back anytime.
DUVERNAY: I`m happy to.
HAYES: That is ALL IN on this Monday night. "THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW" starts right now. Good evening, Rachel.