tv The Rachel Maddow Show MSNBC January 5, 2013 3:00am-4:00am PST
to that rather surprising development just a couple of hours later. >> would you have preferred that he not go public? >> well, would i have preferred. does it matter in the case of congressman frank what i would have preferred. i have treated those conversations as confidential. and i think in every other case the person has treated them as confidential. and in congressman frank's case, he has chosen not to on his end. i'm going to keep my end. >> it is probably true that deval patrick has had the conversation about the senate seat with a bunch of people. but barney frank is just going on tv and talking about it and saying that he wants the job. really, nobody does it that way. the serving massachusetts senator john kerry of course has been nominated to replace hillary clinton at state. we learned this week he is starting to prep for confirmation hearings. he was at the state department all day wednesday. the staff there now say they expect him to start reporting to the department regularly. they say they're now working
with the foreign relations committee to pick a date for his confirmation hearings. should he be confirmed, what happens to mr. kerry's senate seat is this. the massachusetts governor you see on the right side of your screen there, deval patrick will appoint somebody to fill the seat. so without any sort of political contest, that person gets to hold the senate job for a few months, until a special election will be held this spring or summer in massachusetts. now barney frank is saying that while he would like to be the interim senator for a few months, he doesn't want the permanent gig. he says he will not run in the special election when it happens. the democratic party in massachusetts, including barney frank, have now pretty much coalesced behind who they -- or coalesced around who they want their senate candidate to be for the senate seat in the special election. who they want to hold the seat long-term, right? and it's this guy. his name is ed markey. ed markey is currently a member of the house from massachusetts. and what ed markey is doing right now to prepare for a potentially very difficult, very high stakes battle for this very
high profile senate seat, a race that stand alone on the political calendar in the springtime, a race that will get a ton of national attention. what is ed markey doing now to get ready for that? he is picking a huge fight with the single most profitable industry on the face of the earth, woo-hoo! ed markey is known in washington for essentially being the sheriff of the oil industry. he is the top democrat in the house on energy issue, and he has been really confrontational with the oil industry, particularly on safety issues. at a time when lots and lots of his colleagues in congress have been quietly and happily awash in oil money. but ed markey has just been a bulldog on the oil industry over the years, particularly on public safety. during the deepwater horizon disaster in 2010, for example, it was ed markey who brought national attention to the fact that the big oil companies, including bp, had basically just mailed it in when it came to their oil response plans. these documents that were supposed to describe in great detail exactly what they would
do in the event of a disaster, ed markey hauled the oil industry's executives up to capitol hill to call them on what was really in those plans, to do this -- >> these five companies have response plans that are virtually identical. the plans cite identical response capabilities and out the identical ineffective equipment. like bp, three other companies include references to protecting walruses, which have not called the gulf of mexico home for three million years. two other plans are such dead ringers for bp's that they list a phone number for the same long dead expert. it just it seems to me that for each of your companies, the only technology you seem to be relying upon is a xerox machine to put together your response plans. >> to the extent that ed markey
is nationally famous, it is for that sort of thing. and he is now -- think about this for a second. he is now look at a hugely high profile senate race in a couple of months that depending on who he is running against, maybe scott brown, it could be a multi, multi, multimillion-dollar special election involving lots of outside cash. elizabeth warren was just officially sworn in as a u.s. senator yesterday. in her run for u.s. senate for massachusetts, she made herself the nation's most high profile opponent of what is second the most profitable industry in the nation, the banking industry. the only industry that is scarier than that in terms of the power and influence they throw around in washington is the most profitable industry on earth, the oil industry. and the most pugnacious confronter of that industry is now going for the other massachusetts senate seat. wow. ed markey has not just been an aggressive watchdog on the oil industry at times when there are high profile spills like the deepwater horizon spill, but
also when the industry has stuff going on that does not get as much national attention, like, for example, the situation we have going on right now in remote, hard-to-get-to alaska, where a shell oil rig laden with 150,000 gallons of oil and fuel has run aground in one of the most pristine, ecologically sensitive bodies of water in the country. emergency response teams have been dropped on to that rig in each of the last three days. they report that the rig is upright and stable. they say that no fuel has leaked out to the ocean yet. but this is an ongoing crisis. and the response so far from washington, led by congressman ed markey, has been swift and rather loud. congressman markey is now demanding that shell turn over whatever contingency plans they had for this rig operation. he provided a statement to us tonight in which he says that given this accident, given the safety failures in the past, he does not support any -- he does not support issuing any new permits to drill in the arctic. yesterday more than 40 of his colleagues in the house came out and publicly called for a
federal investigation into this incident. and over the course of this ongoing situation up there, the news has just gotten worse and not better for shell. shell currently has two rigs in operation in the arctic. the one on the left is the one that just ran aground off the coast. the one on the right is now as of today reportedly the subject of a criminal investigation. cbs news reporting tonight that the u.s. coast guard has opened up a criminal investigation into that shell rig as a result of, among other things, serious issues with the ship's safety management and pollution control systems. tonight shell personnel in alaska who are responding to this latest accident appear to be doing everything they can to limit press coverage of what is going on up there. a reporter with "the anchorage daily news," which is a great paper and has been doing intensive coverage on this, the reporter attempted to get close to the command center today for this incident, and reported that, quote, guards are stationed outside a meeting room that has been turned into a command post. they said no reporters were
allowed inside and they wouldn't even let a photographer snap a quick picture or allow a reporter to glance at the sign-in sheet. this industry that has been facing pressure from washington over and over again in recent years, again with yet another one of these incidents is in full damage control. again. joining us now is jerry beilinson, editor at "popular mechanics." with a no-fly zone by shell, it is impossible to get firsthand reporting from the scene. but he follows the gas and oil industries for "popular mechanics." and he spent four days on board this specific shell rig in october. he is well versed in the technological challenges that a company in oil exploration and drilling in the arctic. you're looking at some of his footage of the kulluk pipe deck as it passes through the beaufort sea north of alaska. you obviously know these things better than i do.
it's nice to have you here. >> thank you. >> the unified command team in alaska which includes the coast guard and shell, they have put up five-mile no-fly zone, a one-mile no boat zone around this stranded rig. i tend to trust the coast guard, even if i don't trust the oil companies, but i don't know if that is overkill or that is appropriate given how much that will crimp the ability of any reporters to actually cover what is happening there. >> yeah, it's a little hard for me to second guess the coast guard, which i really love. those guys are really good, especially in alaska. their helicopters are flying around and they are putting people on and off that rig. i would assume that it's for safety, and those helicopter pilots are risking their lives every time they go out to that rig. so i would assume that they're trying to keep tourists and probably journalists away, but not so much to limit information as to limit access for safety reasons. i don't read too much into that. >> and i don't know whether or not or not to. i'm inclined to trust the coast guard in situations like this if
only purely on the basis of expertise. it is also striking to see how much shell is trying to keep this quiet, and trying to keep reporters out, and trying to keep journalism away from this, trying to downplay it. how big a risk do you think this is to this ecologically sensitive area? we're talking about 150,000 gallons of fuel and oil. >> it's a really great question. so there are two different issues, i think. one is this oil rig with this amount of fuel on board in this area. and the other one is arctic drilling. and they're really two separate things. >> yeah. >> so this is not a large amount of fuel compared to freighters that run aground a coupe of years ago or several years ago there was a freighter in the allusions that ran aground. and often those carry a lot of fuel, bunker fuel, which is very bad. it's dark, gooey, disgusting stuff, and it's terrible to get into the water. freighters and tankers also run aground, pose great risk. so i think that the kulluk has run aground. we don't want any of that fuel in the water. the thing that politicians will be looking at and regulators will be looking at is whether or not we want drilling in the arctic, which is entirely
different and much bigger in my mind issue. >> and that has sort of a new pointiness to it with the prospect of ed markey not just being the top democrat in the house on this issue, and as a person who is being so willing to be confrontational with the companies on this. but potentially going into a very high profile race and joining the senate. that puts a real political edge on it. do you feel the political concerns expressed around the arctic are well informed? do you feel there is reason to have real political concern over that? >> oh, well sure. one of the things that happened this year, shell went through one mistake after another and just had a terrible year. there was air permits that they weren't able to comply with, a containment vessel that broke in a really dramatic fashion. and a lot of shell's biggest critics were surprised shell didn't do better this year. everyone thought they would be able to pull off drilling really smoothly. there is a lot of well informed in alaska and especially on the north slope about whether we should be drilling for oil in the arctic or not. shell is only the first of several companies that have
leases out there, and they're kind out in front. behind them is conocophillips, statoil and other companies. they're talking about real offshore industry which has really existed up there. that's an issue that will be a big one in the next few years. >> it's going to be continually a big one in the next few days has this situation continues to not get resolved in alaska. we hope that it will. will you come back and talk to us about this more? >> sure. there is some reason to think if kulluk will be pulled off where it was grounded in the next few years. that isn't confirmed, but that's what they're hoping to do. jerry beilinson spent four days aboard the kulluk in october. appreciate your time. >> thank you. lots ahead tonight, including an end to the show tonight that is slightly epic. hold on. you turn for legal m? at legalzoom, we've created a better place to handle your legal needs. maybe you have questions about incorporating a business you'd like to start. or questions about protecting your family
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anything about the rules being changed yesterday on day one of the new congress is that harry reid decided to redefine what counts as day one of the new congress. he redefined the first day of the legislative session. the first day will now last until, quote, later this month. which is most likely january 22nd. it started yesterday. it goes on for a while. so you did not remember that detail wrong. it was day one starting yesterday. but so far there has not been the day one vote on filibuster changes, and that still might happen. also, while we're talking about the political and news calendar, this is tentative as yet, but chuck todd of nbc news is reporting that interested parties have been given a heads-up that hbo is likely to make his nomination for the next secretary of defense on tuesday. maybe monday, but probably tuesday. the smart money in washington says that the nomination is going 20 be former republican senator chuck hagel. while that is the smart money in washington, it is not the only
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if news tonight out of washington, nbc confirming that president obama is likely to nominate this man, nebraska republican chuck hagel to be the next secretary of defense. mr. hagel served in the u.s. senate for two terms, starting in 1997. he was considered in some ways a member of that vanishing species, the moderate republican back when it was not nearly so vanishing. senator hagel served on the intelligence committee and the foreign relations committee. after 9/11, he supported the patriot act with its sweeping new powers of surveillance. he also supported the war in iraq. at the time those were reasonably centrist positions for a republican to hold. but a couple of years into the iraq war, senator chuck hagel came out and said that america's war in iraq was starting to look to him like the war he himself fought in as an army infantry officer.
it was starting to look to him like vietnam. he said that between those two war, quote, there is a parallel emerging. a couple of months later, he laid down this gauntlet to those on his own side who had gotten all over him for questioning the iraq war. he said, quote, to question your government is not unpatriotic. to not question your government is unpatriotic. america owes its men and women in uniform a policy worthy of their sacrifices. a couple of years later when the president announced that he wanted to send another 20,000 american troops into the war in iraq, senator hagel responded the next day by saying that escalating the war in that way could become, quote, the most dangerous foreign policy blunder in this country since vietnam. because he was a republican, because he was a decorated vietnam combat veteran, because he had originally supported the iraq war, chuck hagel became one of the highest profile iraq war critics in the country. even as a republican, he was talked about as a potential vice presidential running mate for
barack obama in the '08 campaign. on the other side, it was interesting. the republican nominee that year, john mccain said that chuck hagel could have a place in a john mccain presidential administration. mitch mcconnell said at the time, quote, in two terms in the senate, chuck has earned the respect of his colleagues and risen to national prominence as a clear voice on foreign policy and national security. so through all of those years, through all of his willingness to criticize his own side on the most highly politicized issues in the country, senator chuck hagel was able to hold on to the good graces of his fellow republicans for all of those years, until now. now they say they are over him, because now republican chuck hagel is looking like the person president obama would like to put in charge of the pentagon. josh rogan at foreign policy first breaking the news on the nomination and noting in the same breath all the republican senators that are against the nomination. john cornyn saying he can't support chuck hagel because he has a, quote, problem with israel.
senator dan coates said chuck hagel has had so much disrespect for the military which is a pretty rich thing to say about a veteran. he would lack experience he would need for the job. senator mccain says his colleague barely even counts as a republican. senator mark kirk says he is, quote, concerned about mr. hagel. mr. hagel also faces opposition from the democratic side for the time back in 1998 when he opposed an ambassador nominee for being what mr. hagel described at the time openly aggressively guy, for which he finally apologized last month. there is also opposition to a lesser extent just because chuck hagel is a republican. this is not ideological opposition. it's partisan. but in the technical sense of that. why is it that democratic presidents always appoint republicans to run the pentagon, but republican presidents never appoint democrats to do the same? why would democrats do that again? why would democrats keep underscoring that caricature that republicans are the only ones to be trusted on defense? you can see just counting on your fingers that the nomination
of chuck hagel should it go through could be a whale of a fight. maybe the first really big fight of 2013. hold on there is more. ♪ [ male announcer ] how could switchgrass in argentina, change engineering in dubai, aluminum production in south africa, and the aerospace industry in the u.s.? at t. rowe price, we understand the connections of a complex, global economy. it's just one reason over 75% of our mutual funds beat their 10-year lipper average. t. rowe price. invest with confidence. request a prospectus or summary prospectus with investment information, risks, fees and expenses to read and consider carefully before investing.
we better be damn sure we know what we're doing, all of us, before we put 22,000 more americans into that grinder. you better be sure as you can be. and i want every one of us, 100 senators to look in that camera and you tell your people back home what you think. don't hide anymore, none of us. >> then senator chuck hagel, republican senator of nebraska, breaking ranks very publicly with his party and with the bush administration over the war in iraq. for a long time afterward, his republican colleagues continued to call him a dear friend and a respected public servant. but now, now that mr. hagel seems to be the likely obama administration's second term nominee for secretary of defense, his previous republican friends seem to be changing their minds about him. joining us now is steve clemons from the new america foundation. he writes at "the washington note" and the "atlantic magazine" where he is washington editor at large.
hi, steve. it's nice to see you. >> great to be with you, rachel. >> what are you hearing from sources in washington and the white house and elsewhere about the likelihood that it is going to be senator hagel who gets this nomination? >> well, i talked to a couple of folks today in the white house today who said, steve, the president has not yet made up his mind on who he will select, and no one has been offered the job yet, but the president is going the offer it to senator hagel. and that will happen, as chuck todd reported, on monday or tuesday. >> of all the issues that senator hagel's critics may bring up against him, which ones do you think might significantly threaten his nomination, if any? >> i think the biggest issue that he has to contend with is a very large franchise of opposition that is concerned about his views on israel and middle east issues. i think senator hagel has always stood by israel's security and israel's support, but he is also a person who is very blunt about the point that america can't afford to make choices between one nation and it's neighbors who are vital partners to the united states. he is very blunt about that issue as he was about the iraq war. and i frankly think it's smart foreign policy.
but i do think that that's where he is going to get the bulk of his opposition. >> steve, you are a guy who speaks bluntly as well. do you feel like that, the source of the criticism against him on issues of the middle east and israel, do you feel like that he has sort of refused to be politically correct in his language in the sort of gesture politics that you're supposed to make on that issue, or do you think that it is about his substantive policy beliefs and what he might be like as defense secretary? >> chuck hagel more than any other senator i have known is not someone to jump on media bandwagons. i had a talk tonight with the former chief of naval operations in israel who became the head of the friends in israel of the uso. chuck hagel used to be head of the uso. and he had a long relationship with hagel over the years. and he approached hagel and said i hear that you're not signing on to a press statement that other senators have signed on about getting jews out of
russia. and hagel sent him a letter that he had privately sent to president clinton, as well as president clinton's response, and he said the much more effective way to push my government and to push my president is to handle it this way. i have no interest in jumping in the press. he was fully supportive of the effort, but he had very little interest of playing the puffery games in the media. what do you make of the criticism from the other side, particularly the criticism that democratic presidents, in some cases have almost reflexively chosen republicans to run the defense department. and republicans are the national defense and democrats are not. >> leon panetta is secretary of defense now and he has put himself between bob gates and chuck hagel. but the second thing, and i mean this as no negative. this are very qualified, competent people in the democratic party who are more than competent to run the department of defense.
that said, the democrats, many of them that came in with president obama, that were also part of the concern that americans don't trust democrats to deploy power, to be forceful in the world have adopted in many of the institutions they have built in the last four to five to six years a pentagon-hugging strategy of not wanting to reform or cut because of the fear that they will be considered vietnam democrats, anti-military democrats. so to send in a republican in an era of austerity to slash budgets and to basically send a message that at the end of this, we're going to apply intelligence and technology to our security platforms and come out with more security deliverables, even though we're spending less is something that i think president obama thinks a republican like chuck hagel can do better than other candidates that are in the field. >> that's fascinating. the politics here are fascinating.
i would love to get blunt assessments of how they're viewing those politics in washington, and we never will. but you can see them better close up. steve clemons, "washington note," "atlantic magazine," steve, as always, thank you. >> thanks. we have a department of corrections coming up. and if that doesn't sound epic to you, then you are the one who is wrong. the truth about mascara is... it clumps.
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what is going on in american politics on that date? okay. it's 1996, so it's an even numbered year. that means it's an election year, and '96 was a presidential election year. those were the clinton years. so right, bill clinton was president. 1996 he was running for reelection. and in late august, that would mean we're getting close to labor day, which means it's getting to be time for the conventions. august 29th, 1996. here was on that date the white house press briefing. peter knight, the national campaign manage over the clinton/gore campaign, and leon panetta, who was white house chief of staff at the time. now he is secretary of defense. but then he was bill clinton's white house chief of staff. and on this date, on august 29th, 1996 in american politics, leon panetta was white house chief of staff. and that night his boss, bill clinton, was due to give his big speech, his speech at the democratic convention, accepting his party's nomination to be reelected president of the
united states. huge day for the clinton white house, right? and on that date at the white house press briefing, seven of the first ten questions that leon panetta and company got asked by the press were not about president clinton and his big night. the press was totally distracted from that that day. the country was totally distracted from that. what was it that rained on the clinton campaign's big parade? this day, the day he should have been triumphantly starting his march to reelection, what was it? it wasn't a war breaking out, an international incident. it wasn't anything the republicans had done to derail the attention from president clinton on the most important day of his reelection campaign. what was it? it was something else that just submarined that whole moment in presidential politics, that whole crucial day in that campaign. what was it? that's next, because it turns out it is still around now.
in the last 100 years, the only democrats to have been elected president and then reelected president are fdr, bill clinton, and barack obama. that's it. there are only three of them. truman doesn't count because he doesn't get elected president for his first term. he got to be president when fdr died. so truman himself only ran for president once. same thing for lbj. he could have run for his own full second term, but he decided not to. so in the end there have been only three democrats elected to two terms in the whole last century. and of those three, we think about the clinton one. we think about the clinton reelection as having been kind of a gimme, right? because he ended up beating bob dole by so much. but in the middle of that campaign, it did not necessarily seem linebacker it was going to be so easy. president clinton's opponent, mr. dole, had the luxury of competing for his party's nomination that year in a primary that kind of looked like bob dole and the seven dwarves, no offense to dwarves. his competitors in the early primaries that year were pablo, oh, uncle pat! steve forbes, lamar alexander,
whose main campaign trope was he wore a plaid shirt everywhere. shockingly, that was enough to propel him to the nomination. so bob dole locked it up without too much work. he had national name recognition and was a truly inspiring war hero who had been wounded in world war ii. and he is a very likable guy. and heading into the election it did not seem like this young first term president bill clinton was going to be storming to a massive reelection victory over war hero bob dole. after senator dole locked up his party's nomination, he made a surprise announcement that he was going to resign from the senate after three decades in congress in order to devote himself fully to the race for presidency. that was a really big deal. he also picked for his vp a man named jack kemp, who was really, really conservative, but who was also seen as a popular choice,
an interesting choice at least in that it totally locked up the conservative base behind that ticket. it also added the whole football hero thing to the whole war hero thing on that side of the ticket. so that's what was going on on the republican side. they had a lot going their way. on the democratic side, there was some trouble. you remember whitewater? the whole whitewater sort of wild goose chase sort of scandal that was breaking open that spring and summer? the governor who took over in arkansas after bill clinton left to become president, that governor got convicted in the whitewater case. the president's business partners on the whitewater deal got not just indicted but convicted in the case. so at that time back then, bob dole was making some smart decisions, running a pretty good campaign, and there was this long simmering scandal roiling the clinton white house. and yeah, president clinton was ahead. but it was not a sure bet in
1996. and so rolling toward that election, at the end of the summer, 1996, the nominating conventions for both sides ended up being important, and also sort of unexpectedly entertaining. >> tradition holds that this speech be delivered tomorrow night. but president clinton asked me to speak tonight. and you can probably guess the reason why -- my reputation for excitement. this is some crowd. i've been watching you doing that macarena on television. and if i could have your silence, i would like to demonstrate for you the al gore version of the macarena. [ cheering ] would you like to see it again? >> al gore's single best moment of the 1996 campaign. but the thing he referenced at the top there about the timing
of his speech supposed to be tomorrow night, that ended up being really important. al gore did give his speech a night earlier than would have been normally expected based on tradition. it was the next night that bill clinton ended up giving his speech, not al gore. and overnight, in between al gore silently doing the macarena on wednesday night and everybody in washington waking up on thursday morning, overnight, that overnight the clinton campaign had a political disaster. it was the day of president clinton's acceptance speech at the democratic convention, and out of the blue, with no warning on that day that the president of the united states is due to address his party's convention to give his big acceptance speech, on that day, this long-awaited thing and the suspenseful campaign, the crowning moment of the reelect, what happened that day to overshadow the president? what happened all of the sudden that particular crucial day? hooker scandal. >> tonight the man widely credited with bringing president clinton back from a political near death experience is gone.
he has been forced from the campaign by a tabloid newspaper's claims that he had a long-standing relationship with a washington call girl that included sharing with her inside information from the white house and the first family. he is dick morris, and although he is little known to the general public in politics, he has been a very effective hired gun for republicans and democrats alike. >> that was day four of the democratic convention, the day the president gave his acceptance speech, the reelection campaign's moment in the sun. but instead of covering that as a moment in the sun, all the questions from the press that day, all the coverage of his big speech that day had to include stuff like "clinton's day was marred by the resignation of dick morris, his chief political strategist in response to a published report that he had maintained a relationship with a $200 an hour prostitute and had let her listen in while he talked to clinton on the phone." that year when papers did tick-tocks of what happened during the course of the campaign, what they had to say than date, about august 29th,
1996 was clinton accepts democratic party nomination on the same day that his chief campaign strategist dick morris resigns amid tabloid newspaper reports of liaisons with a prostitute. that was "the hartford current's" tick-tock of the campaign that year. their lead editorial. what happened was this. dick morris spoils the coronation. now we think of dick morris as just this guy on fox news who is part of the conservative pundit sphere, right? but at the time when he was all but ruining the re-election campaign he was supposedly helping to manage, he was a big deal. this was the cover of "time" magazine, the week after the democratic convention. the morris mess, how it could hurt clinton. after the fall. the week before that the immediately previous "time" magazine cover had dick morris on it, the man with clinton's ear, a particularly awful image when the details of the dick morris hooker scandal emerged, including the details that he
let the woman he hired for sex listen in. the woman he tired told a tv show called "hard copy" she decided to sell her story and go public "because it has to be told, whether it's a call girl who will blabber, whatever they want to call it, fine. but wake up, america, if he told me, who else did he tell?" . week one on the time magazine and here is week two. nice timing. a blockbuster, humiliating political fall in the middle of the political campaign. and president clinton did recover after accepting mr. morris' resignation and mr. morris went on from hooker scandal to become a vociferous conservative who write books about how sleazy the clintons are. the green room at the fox news channel, for example, has a lot of room for people with that type of expertise.
and that's how fox news came to feature dick morris, tearing a hilariously wide path of misprogremi misprognostication. >> there is no chance that obama will be re-elected. obama will win by a wide margin and we'll win ten seats in the senate. a . >> nice try, no president romney getting ready to start his first term with his republican supermajority in the senate this is what fox news sold before the election. the electoral map that dick morris predicted and this is what actually happened. thank you. yeah. a lot of people were wrong about this year's election, but dick morris was one of the more spectacularly wrong. he quickly became a touchstone for how bad the right had been this past year at reading the polls and the other political
basics of covering the election. why were they so bad at it? it was connected to their roles as pundits, but activists and political operatives. not just opining in mitt romney, but guys actively working to help mr. romney win. an interesting question is that why they were so wrong? in that context, we did a segment on mr. morris' fundraising and activism needing up to this past year's election in response, we got this letter from mr. morris' lawyers, demanding a correction and our policy on the show, anything we get wrong on the air, we're happy to correct. always glad to correct our mistakes. but what is weird here in the specific instance what we did not get wrong. these guys are very upset about. check this out. we're talking about a superpac for america. this is a superpac for america fund-raising appeal from dick
morris on november 24, 2010. the note outlines what dick morris says is his plan to get republicans elected to congress. mr. morris asks for donations and says "my organization, superpac usa.com is targeting 24 seats in tv ad buys going on the air set to run until election day. we're short of what we need to fulfill the entire mission, including opposing barney frank. the boston media market is very expensive. so please give us as sizable a donation as you can as quickly as you can. we are raising almost half a million dollars a day and we need to keep it going." if you click through the donate to my organization, you get sent to the superpac for america website. this is what dick morris described as my organization in the october 2010 fund-raising note. what's weird is the letter his lawyer sent us insists that even though dick more race called it
my organization he insists that the superpac should not be described as dick morris' superpac. he did not organize, control, or make any decisions for superpac for america. what's weird, it says he was only involved to the extent that the group asked him to help out with a specific fund-raising drive to help elect mitt romney as president, which mr. morris agreed to do. yeah, but, dude there, he is. back in the 2010 election campaign when mitt romney wasn't even running. there is dick morris, saying he is using this to elect republicans to congress this is weird. for whatever reason, dick morris is trying to distance himself and he's demanding i help him distance himself from the superpac that he called his organization. okay. for the record, i am happy to clarify that the national chairman of the organization is a man named michael reagan and dick morris' title is chief
strategist, but he is the one called his organization. if he wants to deny he ever called it his organization, he can take that up with whoever signs the name dick morris to letters that get posted at dickhor rhys.com. he can take it up from the donors. you can tell those donors that that was not really his organization. you can tell that to those donors. and that is one of the most interesting things about the whole story and whole saga. one of the reasons we reported on this in the first place as a broader effort to try and understand the conservative movement. relationship with the republican party and conservative media and conservative groups do or to not ultimately contribute to republicans winning office. superpacs are designed for big donors, right? if you want to donate $100 or $200 to help mitt romney get
elected, it makes sense to give it to mitt romney directly. only if you are allowed to donate directly to a campaign, only then does it make sense to donate to a superpac. they are the realm of the mega donor for a reason. that's not the case with this one. as open seats grits noted, the last filing showed superpac for america pulled in small contributions in droves. raising $2.1 million in donations of $200 and under. and that's why people took notice when the same s.e.c. filings showed that it showed such a huge proportion of money on fund-raising. where does the money go? raking it in in $50, $100 checks. is it really going to defeat president obama and elect mitt romney? where is it going? one of the largest expenditures
for the superpac went to a group called news max. underline items as fund-raising. we reported that in the story that earned thus letter from mr. morris' lawyers, we reported it, and it's true. in the last weeks before the election, last period reported to the fcc, the superpac raised just over $3 million and paid $1.7 million to news max for fund-raising. but that money that goes to news max, does any of that money goes to news max for advertising come back to dick morris' own enterprise, to dickmorris.com. since pays news max for the dick morris.com e-mail list is one of the ways dick morris raised money, we raised the prospect that a substantial amount that dick morris was raised was just being redirected back to himself through expenditures to news max, and i use that word on the air, substantial. in truth we don't know what proportion of the money raised
by dick morris and his superpac, supposedly to defeat barack obama was redistricted to mr. morris himself. we don't know how much. nowhere does it say how much of the money went to news max went back to dick morris under the auspices over brokering the e-mail list. mr. morris' lawyers confirm news max is the broker and confirm that superpac money was paid to news max and some of the what the payment was for was to broker the mailing list, but they dispute it was a substantial portion. i don't have evidence if it was a substantial prorportion, so i shouldn't have used it. but on the rest of the stuff? no. when we don't get stuff wrong, i will not take it back because you don't like the way it sounds, even though it's true and why you don't like the sound of something, sometimes ends up being news worthy itself. what we learned in this case,
one of the most visible republican pundits trying to put distance himself and the fund-raising vehicle he has claimed as his own to donors. why is that? and as we continue to watch and report on the republican party trying to find i was, as we continue to watch the party figure out its relationship to conservative funding, that monetizes conservative celebrity, and from the most unlikely blast from the bold faced name, the most interesting thing to watch next is the response on the right to people questioning the extent to what their lucrative slick fund raising tactics are about electing republicans or something else. "weekends with alex witt" starts now. the so-called fiscal cliff may be behind us, but the next round of the debt ceiling debate
looms large in the near future. i'll ask the co-chair for the campaign to fix the debt what lies ahead. and report that tim geithner will leave before that battle has many wondering how that could affect the economy. if you think hillary's departure of the secretary of state will leave the country without a clinton on center stage, think again. and "office politics." i talk to al roker from everything from the fiscal cliff to the first one-on-one he scored with the president after his short inauguration. good morning, welcome to "weekends with alex witt." we have front page politics. with the fiscal cliff deal behind us, president obama is turning his attention to the next battle in today's weekly address, the debt ceiling. >> one thing i will not compromise over is whether or not congress should pay the tab for a bill they already wracked up. if congress refuses to give the united states the ability to pay its bill on time, consequences for the entire global economy
could be catastrophic. >> meanwhile, during a closed door meeting on friday, john boehner told members of the gop conference he plans to use the upcoming battle over raising the debt ceiling as leverage for more spending cuts. insiders on capitol hill have been told to prepare for chuck hag hagel's nomination for defense secretary. at the same time, a white house spokesperson says the president has not made a final decision yet. congress passed a hurricane sandy relief bill that provides 9.7 billion to the national flood insurance program, nearly out of money, republican leadership took heat from both parties. the house is set to vote on additional sandy aid. worth nearly $52 billion on january 15th. the senate is recessed until the 21st. president obama and the fi