'Countdown with Keith Olbermann' for Tuesday, November 1st, 2011
Guest host: David Shuster
watch whole playlist
#5 'Occupy General Strike', Barucha Teller
#5 'Occupy Security', Ryan Hoffman
YouTube, Current.com (excerpt)
#4 'Money For Nothing', Brian Beutler
# Time Marches On!
#3 'Cain's World', Nia-Malika Henderson
#2 'Spin to the Right'
YouTube, Current.com (excerpt)
#1 'A Tortured Reality', Matthew Alexander
YouTube, Current.com (excerpt)
printable PDF transcript
Categories: Show Transcripts
Guest Host: David Shuster
Contributors: David Shuster
DAVID SHUSTER: Which of these stories will you be talking about tomorrow? Occupy Raleigh. The mayor expresses concern that the rights of the protesters are "not being given adequate weight."
(Excerpt from video clip) CHARLES MEEKER: On the one hand, the protests need to be orderly. On the other hand, people ought to be allowed to express their rights. So, we need to have the right balance here. I just want to be sure we have it.
SHUSTER: Occupy Portland, nine arrests today as police again raid a peaceful Portland encampment. Occupy Wall Street -
(Excerpt from video clip) BLOOMBERG: It's not the banks that created the mortgage crisis, it was - plain and simple - Congress.
SHUSTER: This, as the Security team for Zuccotti Park sets standards of conduct to combat the drunks and drug addicts the NYPD are sending there.
Occupy Oakland, preparations begin in anticipation of the general strike planned for tomorrow and plans for Occupy Foreclosed Homes moves forward. Occupy, Day 46.
You get what you pay for. Details emerge on the finances of Congressional members, with their net worth rising 25 percent in two years. Their 10 percent approval rating proves - they're worth every penny.
And the Cain Train rolls on, continuing his Sexual-Harassment Denial Tour as his campaign claims its largest single-day fundraising total. And calls of support bellow from the right wing.
(Excerpt from video clip) BRENT BOZELL: The one thing the left cannot bear is an uppity conservative black man leaving the liberal plantation.
(Excerpt from video clip) RUSH LIMBAUGH: Sexual harassment is a political tool of the left to get rid of people.
(Excerpt from video clip) ANN COULTER: That's why our blacks are so much better than their blacks.
SHUSTER: With friends like these, who needs opponents? All that and more now on "Countdown."
(Excerpt from video clip) HERMAN CAIN: Didn't touch you.
SHUSTER: Good evening from New York, this is Tuesday, November the 1st, 371 days until the 2012 presidential election. I am David Shuster, sitting in for Keith Olbermann.
Occupy Wall Street took to the streets in New York again today protesting the NYPD's "Stop and Frisk" policy that mostly targets black and Hispanic males, arching against Governor Andrew Cuomo's pledge to let a tax on millionaires die and working to keep the peace in Zuccotti Park.
While in Oakland, preparations are underway for a general strike called by Occupy protesters.
Our fifth story on the "Countdown" - the Occupy protests keep moving forward despite police pressure in some cities, including more arrests in Portland Oregon. And in Brooklyn, New York, where as many as 36 people were reportedly arrested today in a second Occupy protest against "Stop and Frisk."
This, after The New York Daily News reported Occupy Wall Street had formed - not a police squad - but a security team to enforce rules against stealing, sexual harassment, weapons, fuel, and drug use at Zuccotti Park.
Ryan Hoffman, the co-author of Occupy Wall Street's declaration, says that security group has been around for a while, with a dual mission of keeping the peace and changing what - at times - has been an adversarial relationship with the NYPD. Ryan will join us a little later in the program.
Earlier, Occupy protesters and a coalition of community groups marched and voiced their opposition to Governor Cuomo's pledge to let a temporary tax on higher earners expire. And a charter member of the 99 percent - New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg - dismissed Occupy Wall Street in an appearance before a New York business group this morning:
(Excerpt from video clip) BLOOMBERG: It's fun and it's cathartic. It's - I don't know. It's entertaining to go and to blame people and look to the past. But it doesn't do anything for the future, and most of the protesters down there are complaining. I think they should be out there trying to change the world and make it better.
SHUSTER: They are making the world better, Mr. Mayor.
Bank of America today became the latest bank to drop plans to impose a $5.00 monthly fee on debit cards. Do you think that would have happened without pressure from the Occupy movement?
In Oakland, efforts are now underway for one of the most ambitious Occupy protests yet: a general strike aimed at shutting down banks and corporations that refuse to close along with the Port of Oakland. Occupy Oakland voted in favor of the strike last week. Major labor unions say they support it. And while their members cannot legally walk off the job, some told the San Francisco Chronicle, they plan to take part any way they can.
The Oakland police, however, doesn't seem pleased with Occupy's plans, or Mayor Jean Quan - who's giving city workers the option of using vacation time to take part in the Occupy protests. The Oakland Police Officer's Association sent an open letter to the city's citizens that reads, in part, "As your police officers, we are confused - aren't the Mayor and her Administration part of the establishment they are paying city employees to protest? Is it the city's intention to have city employees on both sides of the skirmish line?"
Let's hope it's a skirmish line without the violence that saw Occupy protester Scott Olsen sent to the hospital with brain damage after being hit with a police tear-gas canister last week.
Elsewhere in the Occupy movement, back to New York - where Occupy ghouls marched in the Greenwich Village Halloween parade - and Portland, Oregon, where at least one protester was arrested Monday for disorderly conduct as Occupy zombies infested a Bank of America branch. That arrest followed by 10 more this morning for violating a midnight curfew, as police pulled down Occupy tents in the Terry Schrunk Park.
On to Burlington, Vermont, where Occupy protesters say they're getting mixed messages from the city as to whether or not they can stay in City Hall Park. Mayor Bob Kiss says he's taking a "wait and see" approach while refusing to approve camping in the park.
And Raleigh, North Carolina, where Mayor Charles Meeker wants to know why a woman in a wheelchair was arrested in an Occupy protest next to the state capital last week.
Occupy also has new allies - the "South Park" kids, though not Cartman to his eternal shame.
(Excerpt from video clip) WENDY: We are here because of you Eric, so just keep your mouth shut.
(Excerpt from video clip) CARTMAN: Oh, my God, why doesn't everyone just back off. I know how this works. You're the 99 percent ganging up on the one percent.
SHUSTER: Funny, he sounds just like Mayor Bloomberg.
For more on Occupy Oakland's plans to stage a general strike tomorrow, we're joined by Barucha Teller, a protester with Occupy Oakland. Barucha, when is the strike supposed to start tomorrow? Which unions have offered support, and what do you hope to shut down?
BARUCHA TELLER: We - we don't know when the strike is going to start in reality. We have a convergence - the first convergence is at 9:00 AM. Of course, people, you know, as early as 7:00 AM are probably going to be trickling into downtown, as they're not going to work. You know, we're - we're looking at major blockades of circulation of capital - you know, transit circulation all over the city.
And, as we said in the declaration for the strike, if, you know, the banks and corporations don't shut down, that we will march on them. And so far, we have a lot of support from unions - the SEIU 1021, which is the biggest union in Oakland, it's the city workers - they encouraged their workers to not go to work that day. You know, the Teachers' Association, the utility workers - you know, tons of unions are, you know - are supporting the resolution for a general strike.
SHUSTER: What sort of numbers do you think you have? What sort of numbers do you think you need to shut down corporations and banks that refuse to honor the strike?
TELLER: I think we have tens of thousands. I don't think we need very many, because the people are determined.
SHUSTER: Mayor Quan, she's giving city workers the option of using paid time off to take part. The Oakland Police Department seems to be furious about that. Is the mayor trying to make amends for the brutal clearing of Frank Ogawa Plaza that saw hundreds tear gassed and Scott Olsen in hospital with a fractured skull?
TELLER: I mean - the mayor is irrelevant. You know, the real problem is capitalism, and that's why Occupy Oakland is making a call out to the entire country and the entire world to start planning general strikes. We know that we create the wealth for the one percent through our labor, and so what we need to do is retract our labor and the value that it creates for the one percent by general striking. Occupy Oakland does not - we have a no-cop policy - no politicians, no political parties - and so, you know, the mayor is very irrelevant for us because it's the entire system that we're fighting so we can reclaim our lives.
SHUSTER: Still, give us a sense as far as how do you measure success for a strike?
TELLER: Excuse me?
SHUSTER: The question is, how do you measure success? You have a strike. How do you determine - is it successful merely because you're calling for a strike, or how much of the strike has to, essentially, be effective for you to say, "This is what we wanted?"
TELLER: You know, any blockades of the flow of capital from - you know, blockading the banks to blockading the Port of Oakland is gonna be a major success. But also, there's 300 teachers that are going to come out of the schools. There is at least four schools are going to be shut down, community members are involved, community organizations, and then the workers.
So, you know, all of Oakland is going to come together into the streets and see what they can do and what their response will be, you know, to the banks and the corporations and, of course, we have a 4:00 PM and a 5:00 PM march from 14th and Broadway - Oscar Grant Plaza down to the Port of Oakland. It's already a success that a general strike has been planned and a grassroots, non-hierarchical assembly, which retook Oscar Grant plaza after the police violence on Tuesday. The people ourselves organizing this way is already a huge success.
SHUSTER: Any plans yet - or any thoughts - on how Occupy will follow this up?
TELLER: We're gonna follow this up. We've already passed a resolution saying that, you know, people taking back their foreclosed homes and - you know, neighborhoods, we're repossessing property owned by the banks or the corporations or foreclosed on. Occupy Oakland is going to provide direct material and, plus political support, to any groups, organizations, families or neighborhoods who are going to retake those spaces, as well as school occupations.
So, we're moving forward by directly, materially, taking back spaces - you know, and reclaiming public resources and reclaiming our lives really from the capitalists, from the banks and the corporations.
SHUSTER: Barucha Teller with the Occupy Oakland, so many - we appreciate you coming on tonight. Many thanks.
TELLER: Thank you. I have to go to a meeting now actually.
SHUSTER: Okay. Carry on. For the latest from the Occupy movement's epicenter - Zuccotti Park here in New York - we're joined by Ryan Hoffman, an Occupy Wall Street protester and co-author of the group's declaration. Ryan, good to meet you and thanks for coming in today.
RYAN HOFFMAN: So great to meet you David, thank you for having me.
SHUSTER: So, The New York Daily News reported today that Occupy Wall Street has established its own security system at Zuccotti Park. Now what's going on with the park's security? What rules do you enforce and how do you do it?
HOFFMAN: Well, it's actually more of a community alliance rather than a security team, and basically what we have is - we have, sort of, basically the - we have the guidelines out, basically, that is, nobody who - don't touch anybody that doesn't necessarily give you verbal consent to do so. Don't necessarily assume that person wants to be touched because of the way they are dressed. Many of them are doing it to make a point. And don't necessarily assume anything about a person's specific gender identity, or anything like that, in approaching them and talking to them.
And then we have a system set up - where that if there is a disagreement, first we talk to the individuals, one on one, and we see if we can try to diffuse that situation. And if that doesn't work, then we go towards a community watch, which is actually comprised of members from the surrounding community of Zuccotti Park. And then, if that doesn't work, then we come back to the community alliance and see if we can diffuse the situation. And then from there, we go to a peace council to decide whether or not an individual needs to be removed from the park or - you know, how they're going to go about doing it, what the best way is, how we can make this a positive experience for everyone. So, try and salvage the situation.
SHUSTER: It sounds like this is a very thought-out set of protocols and processes that you'll be - that you'll be using there. What do you make of The New York Daily News, with the NYPD saying that officers have not - according to the NYPD, they deny the allegation - that the police has been sending homeless people to Zuccotti Park. You're down there. What's your impression?
HOFFMAN: It's irrelevant. Whether they are or they're not, it's irrelevant. Because we're part of a movement that is against a violent system that has disenfranchised many people and felt that a lot of people don't have a voice. And - you know - whether or not they are sending people down there - we'll take them, because if they have been wounded by the system that we're in - that creates a systemic, sort of, foreclosure mill, kicking people out of their houses and, sort of, oppressing them and taking away their voices, taking away their enfranchisement to speak - well, guess what? That's what our movement is about. And we're not going to turn those people away.
So, whether or not they're sending them down there, whether or not they're, sort of, trying to subvert us by putting their disenfranchised and their undesirables into our movement - it's not going to make a difference in how we operate. And that's giving people a voice. People who have not had a voice, people who have been feeling too apathetic to get involved in their local government, people who have been feeling too hopeless that there isn't a solution for them. This movement is so that everybody can have a voice. And we lift each other up, and we're not about to start a class war about who's being sent to our park, who's being sent to stir up trouble. These people are vagrants, these people are undesirables - that's not what we're about. We're about lifting everybody up and giving everybody a voice. So, whether or not they're doing it doesn't make a difference to us.
SHUSTER: There were more arrests today in the "Stop and Frisk" protest in Brooklyn - this was civil disobedience, where arrests are part of the program. Given that, how are relations right now with the NYPD? And does that matter?
HOFFMAN: Well, my personal relations with the NYPD always varies. Speaking only for myself, I've run into a few officers who have been willing to give me conversation time and have been willing to talk to me. And some support us.
When we took down Broadway last week, and we marched up Broadway dancing in the streets, there were officers taking video cameras of us - smiling, cheering us on. When we took the net away and were marching up Broadway with it like a trophy, they were laughing and they were going along with it. So, there's good parts.
And then you see some of the ugly things, some of the few individuals that decide to go above and beyond the call. And I talked about this last time I was on the show, but - you know, people who are going above and beyond their call - trying to hurt people and using their badge as an excuse to do so. And they're giving the rest of the police department a bad name, as well as the individuals up in the Bronx who are protesting the ticket-fixing scandal and being bullies and thugs.
It's very hypocritical for the NYPD to engage in such behavior. Being very, very - sort of bully-ish and thuggish up in the Bronx, and then macing people for exercising their - their First Amendment rights peacefully down in Zuccotti Park. It doesn't look very good
SHUSTER: Real quickly, we heard what was going on Oakland, anything similar planned for New York?
HOFFMAN: I know a lot of people - there was a member of the Longshore Union that came to speak to the general assembly, and we do support the November 2nd general strike, and solidarity to Oakland. We are with you. Oakland is New York and New York is Oakland.
SHUSTER: Ryan, thank you so much for coming in. Ryan Hoffman, Occupy Wall Street protester, co-author of the Occupy Wall Street declaration. Great to meet you in person, Ryan.
HOFFMAN: Thank you so much for having me.
SHUSTER: Coming up, Herman Cain's story has changed again regarding those sexual harassment allegations. And later, Halloween is not quite over in Canada. You are watching "Countdown," on Current.
SHUSTER: A new report shows that all Members of Congress now have a net worth together of more than two billion dollars. That's a 25 percent increase in two years, yet another reason their nine-percent approval rating may be a bit generous.
The flip flops continue in Herman Cain's Sexual-Harassment Denial Tour. Cain versus Abel has nothing now on Cain versus Cain. Meanwhile, right wingers are flipping out over the media's reporting on the story. Is it because Cain is a Republican? You bet. We'll take a stroll down memory lane.
And several aid workers say they will never forget the torture carried out by U.S. allies in Afghanistan across the street from American diplomats. A State Department investigation has begun.
SHUSTER: Dysfunction in Congress is reaching new heights, and so is the personal wealth of the lawmakers who hold those jobs on our behalf.
In our fourth story on the "Countdown" - even though Congress is barely able to keep the federal government functioning, a new report reveals the members' own financing is just fine. According to Roll Call, the total net worth of lawmakers has soared 25 percent since 2008. Their approval ratings, on the other hand, are hovering around 9 percent.
Today, the Senate did approve a $182 billion spending bill for some government agencies but there's still another eight spending measures the chamber was supposed to have passed by September. Now, of course, the first day of November. The federal government is only functioning because of a series of budget extensions. Many of them are set to expire this month. In other words, it's government by a thousand Band-Aids.
Congressional Democrats are accusing Republicans of playing politics with the economy. DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz wrote today, "Republicans need to get off of the sidelines and ... stop rooting for the economy's failure in order to win an election."
In fact, some of the only concessions the Republicans made in the debt-ceiling debate - allowing payroll tax cuts and the extension of unemployment benefits - will expire at the end of the year. Senate Democrats are now reportedly concerned Republicans will refuse to renew them, potentially dragging the economy down even further.
While Congress may be having trouble getting the American economy in order, personally, they seem to be doing just fine. According to a Roll Call report today, members of Congress had a collective net worth of more than two billion dollars in 2010. That's a nearly 25 percent gain from 2008. Just like the country they represent, though, their wealth is disproportionately concentrated at the top. Nearly 90 percent of the increases since 2008 went to the 50 richest members of Congress.
Joining us now - Brian Beutler, senior congressional reporter for Talking Points Memo. Brian, thanks for being on tonight.
BRIAN BEUTLER: Good to be here with you, David.
SHUSTER: Brian, the spending bill the Senate approved today, is it reason for hope?
BEUTLER: You know, the Senate seems to have its act together much more than the House. And what we saw today in the House was that the Democratic Whip sent a letter - signed by almost every Democrat in the House - saying there is going to be a big problem coming up with the spending bills because speaker John Boehner and the Republican appropriators have entered all these policy riders into their spending bills, and these would defund the health care law, and limit women's access to women's health clinics and roll back environmental protections. And those are gonna be the flash point.
They have - they have, I guess in theory, enough time to draft and pass legislation, since they've already agreed on spending levels. But Republicans - whether they're throwing meat to the their base, or they're going to really try to jam Democrats with these policy measures - are really sort of stuffing those into the House versions of the bills, and it's sort of a matter of whether they can get through November - I believe it's 23rd - when the current funding expires and have a resolution on that, or else we have another government shut down fight or - as you mentioned before - another Band-Aid to drag funding another two weeks, another a month - whatever it happens to be.
SHUSTER: To the timing, I mean - is it reasonable? My experience is that, trying to get all of that done in just three weeks - for Congress to do that is a rough haul. But, as far as keeping the federal government afloat with the series of budget extensions, is that a reasonable solution even short term right now?
BEUTLER: Nobody wants that, particularly, the White House. They're sort of fed up with having to run the government on two-week extension after two-week extension. Republicans have, sort of, jammed themselves a little bit - because they pledged, to their voters and to their members, that they weren't going to do these omnibus spending bills - these, sort of, giant, you know - "combine all 12 appropriations bills into one and pass it on one vote." So, they're doing these sort of - they're trying to figure out workarounds to that, and do minibuses that have 8 instead of 12. And that's kinda complicating things for them, because it really drags out the amount of time that it takes.
But really, I think - I think a more reasonable place to look, I mean, would be the end of the year. There have been some indications that they might do another temporary extension. But really, once you get to the end of the year - Congress leaves for a month, and then you're sort of in a new budget cycle already and there's only nine months left before - before the new fiscal year. So, I could see us blowing through the November deadline, but I imagine there's gonna be a lot of pressure on these guys to get it done before late December.
SHUSTER: Brian, Congress members are richer than they were four years ago, even as most Americans continue to struggle. How out of touch is this Congress, in your estimation?
BEUTLER: You know, I think Congress always has this problem. Like - as you mentioned, there is a - you know, a wealth disparity within Congress itself. And when you replace an Arlen Specter with a Pat Toomey, suddenly the numbers skew a lot. You know, I think that - that what happened since 2008 - between 2008 and now - is that Congress went from being out of touch to being out of touch-er. Bu,t I don't know that was necessarily about having gotten richer. I think it was - had a lot more to do with the 2010 sweep of, you know, 80-something ideological Republicans in the House and - and six or seven in the Senate that have, sort of - you know, gridlocked the Congress and really kind of focused the party's minds, but particularly the Republican Party's minds, like, on long-term ideological goals and not the immediate needs of the country.
SHUSTER: And, as far as those 87 new ideologues - how much power do they still have, and is that one of the reasons we see compromise essentially being so difficult, even within the Republican caucus?
BEUTLER: I think that - it - it sort of stymies things. You know, Speaker John Boehner isn't willing to just say, "Okay, I just have to accept that there are 50, 60 people on my caucus who aren't going to deal with me, who don't think I am conservative enough - so I am going to govern in the center and find a coalition of Democrats and Republicans to do everything."
So, every time we come to one of these must-pass things, he has to go through all the motions to ensure that flank of his caucus that he's trying for them - that he's trying to get something through that will, you know, maximize what they want while also not shutting down the government, or causing a debt default or - you know, whatever the - whatever that current hostage happens to be.
But, I think there is also a growing acceptance of the fact that those guys are just never going to be with him. And so - there's a lot of kabuki leading up to these deadlines - of Boehner and the Republican leadership kowtowing to these guys, and that has the effect of creating all these crises, and also dragging legislation to the right.
But in the end, he knows that he needs Democrats to pass all of this must-pass stuff. So, in that sense, the right flank of his party still has a lot of power, but - in the end - all of the governing is happening, sort of, with a coalition of Democrats and Republicans.
SHUSTER: Brian Beutler, senior congressional correspondent for Talking Points Memo. Brian, always great having you on the program, thank you.
BEUTLER: Thank you, David.
SHUSTER: Just ahead, if you think members of Congress are too wealthy - we will show you somebody in Canada who is not wealthy enough. His skills are truly impressive in "Time Marches On!"
And later, the right-wing nuts can not stomach the questions about Herman Cain, and there are more questions today. That's ahead. This is "Countdown."
SHUSTER: Coming up, the right's downright shameful reaction to the accusations against Herman Cain.
But first, the "Sanity Break." It was on this day in 1512 the Sistine Chapel ceiling was first opened to the public. Michelangelo was commissioned by Pope Julius the Second in 1508 to paint the great ceiling of the Vatican chapel. The masterpiece took the artist four years to complete, despite promising the Pope he'd have it done in six weeks. Isn't that the way it always is with contractors?
"Time Marches On!"
We begin with some record breaking. This is Ben Gross. The one on the left, not the one dressed as Curious George's friend. Ben is attempting the most wall flips in 15 seconds. He's in position, and - that's one. And that's two. And that's three. Really, this record is mostly about having a good pair of sneakers. Ben breaks the record with five flips in 15 seconds. His parents must be very proud - of some of the other things he's doing in life.
To the Internet, where Mom and Dad have brought home little baby Isabelle for the first time, and Billy the dog is trying as hard as he can to get a look. "I think I saw her." "Yeah, there she was." "She's small, right?" "If I could just get a little higher." Try as he might, Billy just was not able to get up onto the bed. And of course nobody was there to help him. He was last seen trying to construct a small flight of stairs.
Finally, Halloween's over, but what to do with all of those pumpkins that are sitting around? There's only one logical thing you can do. Balance them on your chin. This Nova Scotia man - that's up in Canada - he's attempting to balance almost forty pounds worth of pumpkins on his chin. And - they're up. Yes, it does not get much more exciting than this in Nova Scotia. I'm just shocked the guy found someone willing to film this.
"Time Marches On!"
Just ahead, the media blitz is getting messier for GOP presidential candidate Herman Cain. His rolling disclosures over the sexual harassment allegations are not helping him. You're watching "Countdown."
SHUSTER: "Countdown" airs every weeknight here on Current TV at 8 PM. You can also catch our primary replays at 11 PM Eastern and 11 PM Pacific.
There are two main ways politicians can approach a scandal - they can refuse to comment and hope the story goes away, or they come out strong in the media and try to take control.
In our third story in the "Countdown" - the Herman Cain Sexual-Harassment Denial Tour continues. But his effort to take control is not going smoothly. By most accounts now, Cain has changed his story about what he remembers about the sexual-harassment allegations. Still, the scandal is helping his campaign fundraising effort as conservatives see a grand media conspiracy and should be met by giving Cain campaign cash. Tuesday began as Monday had ended, with Herman Cain touring different news shows giving different reasons for the harassment charges. But the added wrinkle today was an explanation for yesterday's different responses.
(Excerpt from video clip) HERMAN CAIN: If I could do it over, Robin - I would start with the last interview I did last night, and make that the first interview of the day. Because - after 12 hours during the day, many events, many interviews - I was able to gradually recall more and more details about what happened 12 years ago.
SHUSTER: Right now, for Herman Cain, there appears to be no such thing as bad publicity. Today, the Cain campaign announced that yesterday was one of the largest fundraising days in its history, raising 250 thousand dollars. And now, Cain sees an opportunity to leverage all the attention from the sexual-harassment allegations and keep the attention going.
(Excerpt from video clip) CAIN: You will meet my wife publicly in an exclusive interview that we are currently planning and anticipating.
SHUSTER: I guess it depends on the word "exclusive." An exclusive interview Friday on Fox News with Mrs. Cain, a woman who rarely makes a public appearance and has not even appeared at her husband's debates - - something Mr. Cain has pointed out more than once. Saying in May, "My wife is one of the most unassuming, not-looking-for-the-limelight-people you've ever met. And I'm going to keep it that way. I'm not going to push her out there to try to do things she doesn't want to do. That's not her personality."
So, he won't push her out there, unless he needs her to come to his defense.
Let's bring in Washington Post national political reporter and "Countdown" contributor Nia-Malika Henderson. Nia, thanks as always for your time.
NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON: Good to be here.
SHUSTER: Nia, why is the Cain campaign bringing out his wife now? If she was reluctant to come out before, why bring her out in the high-pressure situation of a brewing scandal?
HENDERSON: Well, this is a standard Washington play - bringing out the wife when the husband is embroiled in some scandal. And it's usually around sex, or some sexual impropriety, which is where we find Herman Cain now.
And - you said that it looks like this interview is going to happen this week - and, you know, the idea is to humanize Herman Cain, the idea is for this woman - his wife of 43 years, a mother of two kids, grandmother of three - is to really validate him, seve as a validator, sort of, you know - vouch for him in some ways. So, we'll see how it goes.
I mean, the thing that you touched on earlier - this idea of rolling disclosures, a two-, three-day media gauntlet - this is a guy that has done many more interviews than, I think, anyone expected. And with each interview, he only seems to damage his case, he only seems to reverse himself with key details - whether he knew about the settlement or not knew about the settlement, now he says he knew about the settlement but he didn't think it was a settlement, he thought it was an agreement - so, it's - it's just not helpful so far, even though we have seen this uptick in fundraising and a circling of their wagons for a lot of right-wing folks, who are saying that he essentially represents a version of Clarence Thomas.
SHUSTER: And we're going to get into that in our next segment. The lawyer for one of the accusers came out and said the accuser wants to talk about the events that led to the sexual-harassment charges, but she can't because of a confidentiality agreement. If the facts - even rolling facts - rolling disclosures - are really the way Cain is describing them, shouldn't he ask the National Restaurant Association to release that accuser from that confidentiality agreement?
HENDERSON: Right. And what you've seen so far is him really being able to hide behind a) her anonymity, and also the National Restaurant Association. Tonight, he actually said, "Well, it would be up to the National Restaurant Association."
What I am hearing from reporters who are digging into this at the Post, James Grimaldi, basically said - this is a woman who wants to, in some ways, keep her anonymity but get her story out here. A difficult thing to do, obviously, in this media environment. An alternative would be, maybe, to release some of these documents that go along with this settlement. But this, I think, would be a really damaging shoe to drop.
Obviously, Cain has done a lot of damage himself with all of the reversals on what he knew and when he knew it and - finally, saying that he recalled some of these details. But having someone actually come out and give a face and a name to these allegations and really fill them in - because, as much as he's talked over these last days, we actually don't know what happened. We don't know what the allegations are. It isn't like the Clarence Thomas case in some ways, because in that case you had very specific allegations - Anita Hill recalling specific incidents that she said she found to be a hostile work environment that Clarence Thomas created there. But with this, we just don't know. He's had some allusions to conversations they had, comparing one of the women to his wife's height which, you know, is baffling - and really hard to understand how that would end up in a sexual-harassment case or charge.
But I think this, if this happens - the attorney says he's going to get some of these documents tomorrow - the documents related to the case - so, we'll have to see what happens with this. But you're right - if he's so confident that these were false allegations - then he should be pushing this woman to come out, to further discredit her.
SHUSTER: Cain was on Fox News earlier tonight. He was asked, specifically, about the role that race played in the allegations, and here's what he said:
(Excerpt from video clip) REPORTER: You think that race - being a strong black conservative - has anything to do with the fact that you have been so charged? And if so, do you have any evidence to support that?
(Excerpt from video clip) HERMAN CAIN: I believe the answer is yes. But we do not have any evidence to support it.
SHUSTER: Nia, fair to say that's exactly what his supporters want to hear from him?
HENDERSON: Yes. Exactly. And this is something that you've heard from the right since day one - that these are trumped up charges by the liberal media, that it amounts to a witch hunt. But the fact of the matter is, these charges - these accusations - were brought by specific women. It's something that he obviously knows about. He knows about the settlement. He knows these things actually happened, meaning that he knows that these charges were brought.
So, I don't know if he means that that was racially motivated 12 years ago - that those criticisms or complaints were racially motivated - or that, somehow now, the media is in on this - and that this is racially motivated from Politico's standpoint, or all the reporters who are now doing this story.
You know, every time I hear these sorts of charges from the right wing or the left wing - basically, charging a conspiracy theory from the media - I say, "Wouldn't it be great if news rooms and news organizations were as organized, to actually follow through on any conspiracy?" I tell you, we're not.
SHUSTER: "Countdown" contributor and Washington Post reporter, Nia-Malika Henderson. Nia, thanks as always, great stuff and we appreciate it.
HENDERSON: Thank you. Take care.
SHUSTER: Just ahead, we will show you how the right-wing media is handling the Cain controversy. The hypocrisy is mind blowing. And later, there are new reports tonight that U.S. allies in Afghanistan carried out a policy of torture right across the street from U.S. diplomats. A State Department investigation has begun.
SHUSTER: There are new allegations tonight that U.S. diplomats in Afghanistan looked the other way at torture being carried out by U.S. allies across the street in Kabul. But up next, the conservative view of Herman Cain and the allegations of sexual harassment. And conservatives wonder why the GOP has such a difficult time with voters who are women?
SHUSTER: Right-wing media figures have been going crazy this week over the Herman Cain sexual-harassment story. In our number-two story in the "Countdown" - Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter, Brent Bozell and others have accused media of being inconsistent and unfair. That's right, these right-wing stars are accusing the mainstream media of being unfair. For example Rush Limbaugh said, the Cain story "is war and that's how they" - meaning the Democrats - "fight it."
(Excerpt from video clip) RUSH LIMBAUGH: Just like political correctness is a political tool of the left to shut people down, sexual harassment is a political tool of the left to get rid of people, or to score money gains - whatever is most desired.
SHUSTER: Rush Limbaugh, of course, has never tried to use sexual scandal to score money gains. Hmm, Democrat Anthony Weiner?
(EXCERPT FROM VIDEO CLIP)
LIMBAUGH: Weiner is the face of Democrat - of Democrat family values. He is the epitome of a Democrat culture of corruption, the Democrat culture of erection. He is wrong on policy. He is an admitted liar. He used his orifice in Congress to conduct his lurid e-perversions.
SHUSTER: Look, I know the Weiner and Cain stories are not the same. They are not mirror opposites. But - given the opportunity to make political hay - Republicans cannot resist when it's a Democrat and they cannot complain loudly enough when it's a Republican under the harsh spotlight. Brent Bozell is the founder of the conservative Media Research Center. His center claims to be a media-watchdog organization.
(Excerpt from video clip) MAN: Could this be another Clarence Thomas-style smear from the left?
(Excerpt from audio clip) BRENT BOZELL: I've said exactly that. As a matter of fact, Herman Cain ironically predicted - in May - that this exact same thing would happen. Look, the one thing the left cannot bear is an uppity conservative black man living - leaving - the liberal plantation.
SHUSTER: Bozell also wrote a column demanding the media not give the Cain allegations any oxygen. The problem is that he wrote several columns about Anthony Weiner - complaining about the media giving that story, about a Democrat, too little oxygen. "Weiner's social-media sex scandal was underplayed by the national media - the old media were clearly slow to jump on this story."
Limbaugh, Bozell, hmm - how about right-wing author and pundit Ann Coulter? She is always a paragon of fairness and consistency. Or is she? Asked by Sean Hannity about Herman Cain, Ann Coulter attacked the liberal media.
(Excerpt from video clip) ANN COULTER: All they see is - conservative black man. Look at how they go after Allen West. Look at how they go after Michael Steele. I mean, all of them with wonderful qualities. I mean, that's why our blacks are so much better than their blacks.
SHUSTER: Our blacks are better than their blacks? Coulter even told Hannity the scrutiny of Cain is related to the Democratic Party's history.
(Excerpt from video clip) COULTER: It's coming from the exact same people who used to do lynching with ropes. Now they do it with a word processor.
(Excerpt from video clip) REPORTER: Meaning the Democratic Party.
(Excerpt from video clip) COULTER: Yes, yes.
SHUSTER: Hmm, so what did Ann Coulter say during the Weiner scandal?
(Excerpt from video clip) COULTER: Conservatives respond to their sex scandals differently, because we don't elevate our leaders, there isn't sort of messiah worship - a mob characteristic.
SHUSTER: And what about reporters digging up these stories?
(Excerpt from video clip) COULTER: The basic Republican response is not to attack the person who just releases information.
SHUSTER: Except, Ann, this week you attacked Democrats, even though they didn't release the information about Cain. That reporting came from Politico - and yet you accuse Politico and Democrats of being one and the same, and of being connected to one of the ugliest chapters in American history.
The point in all of this is simple - these right-wing gasbags are hypocrites. They will reflexively defend any Republican under fire and reflexively smear any Democrat. In the perverted world view of the right wing, reporters should only raise questions about Democrats, and reporters must always be condemned if they raise questions about Republicans. That's not the America I know. And, thankfully, many of you are with me on this, and believe the proper role of the media is to report like hell, lay out the facts and let the chips fall where they may. And right now, on some levels, they are falling against Herman Cain.
To Ann, Rush, Brent and all the rest - you can do your party, and your country, a favor by demanding clear answers from Cain instead of muddying the waters everywhere else.
SHUSTER: Over the last decade, as the United States fought for the hearts and minds of Muslims around the world, one of the biggest setbacks came from what happened at Abu Ghrayb Prison in Iraq. Diplomats and policy experts say the images of torture and humiliation turned millions of people against us.
In our number-one story on the "Countdown" - The Washington Post is now reporting charges that American allies in Afghanistan also tortured some prisoners who were first captured by Americans. The Post reported the suspects were housed in a building across the street from the U.S. military headquarters in Kabul. Despite multiple warnings about the alleged torture, the United States continued to transfer detainees to Afghan intelligence. The allegations were made by the United Nations and the International Committee of the Red Cross.
The U.S. is not accused of the torture - the article cited the National Directorate of Security, the primary intelligence service of Afghanistan, as doing the dirty work. Still, that Afghan intelligence service is one the United States has been working with.
"The United Nations recounted detainees' stories of interrogators hanging them by their hands for hours, beating them with metal pipes, shocking them with electricity and twisting their genitals until they passed out."
The Post also quoted a flat denial from the deputy director of the Afghan agency, who called his department "a rising star for our country."
"The National Directorate of Security deputy director of operations, Ahmed Zia, described the U.N. report as an inaccurate attack on the agency and said insurgents are trained in Pakistan to lie to human rights groups."
According to the Post report, coalition troops stopped transferring Taliban and Al-Qaida suspects to this and other facilities after the U.N. brought allegations of widespread abuse to General John Allen, the top U.S. military commander, there on August 30th. The man ranking just below him told the Post, "I'm confident we are taking the appropriate steps now. I don't see it as a systemic problem, as some have said it might be."
Let's bring in Matthew Alexander, a former senior military interrogator and author of "Kill or Capture: How a Special Operations Task Force Took Down a Notorious al-Qaida Terrorist." Good evening, Matt. We appreciate you coming on.
MATTHEW ALEXANDER: Great to be here, David.
SHUSTER: Given what you know about interrogation practices, do you believe the Afghan interrogators were torturing prisoners that we brought them?
ALEXANDER: I do believe that they were torturing prisoners. I've reports from friends, who have served recently in Afghanistan, who have said as much - that we know these practices have been occurring in Afghanistan prisons.
And I don't think it should come as a surprise to us. I mean, we're the ones who essentially set the bar in Afghanistan for torturing abusive prisoners, just like we did in Iraq. In Iraq - where we tortured and abused numerous prisoners, not just at Abu Ghrayb - we later saw that the Ministry of Interior was torturing prisoners in the same way, emulating the same methods that we used - the enhanced interrogation techniques, as well as others. So, this shouldn't come to a surprise to us.
SHUSTER: It seems as if there were plenty of hints, even before the U.N. issued its report - whether it's through various channels, or folks like the ones you are hearing from. Did the Americans say the right things while turning a willful, blind eye to what was really going on?
ALEXANDER: Well, I think this has been the repeated pattern that we've had with torture and abuse when it's committed by our allies. As we say - we didn't know about it.
But at the same time, you know, I think we also have an obligation to be aggressive about searching out and seeing if these types of practices are taking place. You know, Rumsfeld issued an order well back, when we were still in the heat of the fight in Iraq - Frago 242 - which said that we wouldn't aggressively pursue or look into allegations of abuse by our allies in Iraq. And that set a precedent, I think, to the military personnel - that we would turn a blind eye to such types of activity.
SHUSTER: And it sounds like that precedent remains, even though we have a change of administration - the Obama administration - it sounds like there has not been an affirmative effort to reverse what President Bush's Defense Secretary essentially put in motion.
ALEXANDER: Yeah, David, the bottom line is - when we have impunity for torture in our own country, how can we go to other countries and tell them that they can't torture people? They'll look at us as if we're just hypocrites.
As recently as two months ago, former Vice-President Dick Cheney was on TV, boasting about water-boarding prisoners, and saying that he would do it again. We have every candidate on the Republican side in the presidential race - with the exception of Ron Paul - saying that they would bring back enhanced interrogation techniques. In our own country, we've had this culture of impunity for torture and that had set an example for our allies - that we don't take this issue seriously.
SHUSTER: Never mind a lot the Republicans - a lot of people who watch fictional television might think that torture is an efficient way to extract information. Is it ever?
ALEXANDER: No. We can definitively say that torture never works, when we consider the long-term ramifications of torture. Number one being that it helps our enemy to recruit new fighters who will carry out many more attacks than we'd ever stop by using torture, assuming that it was effective.
But professional interrogators have said - time and time again - that we don't even need to use torture, that we can get our enemies to cooperate with us without it. And we have been doing that since at least as far back as World War II.
SHUSTER: Is it possible that the prisoners were exaggerating or fabricating their claims to the Red Cross and to the United Nations?
ALEXANDER: Well, I know some of these investigators. I've met them and I've talked to them. And yeah, I was an interrogator and an interviewer - a criminal investigator - and I have been impressed with the types of methods that they use for interviewing people, to weed out the ones that are lying. They have methods that they use to ensure that those people who do make up false claims can be separated from those who are legitimately reporting torture and abuse.
And so, I do believe these claims. I do think they are doing a good job of vetting the sources, and the consistency within the different types of abuses that the prisoners are reporting points to the fact that they probably are valid.
SHUSTER: Matthew Alexander, a former senior military interrogator and author of "Kill or Capture." Matthew, thank you very much, we appreciate it.
ALEXANDER: Thanks for having me.
SHUSTER: That is it for this edition of "Countdown." I'm David Shuster. On behalf of all of us at Current TV, thanks for watching, everybody, and have a great night.