'Countdown with Keith Olbermann' for Tuesday, March 27th, 2012
#ShowPlug 1: lead investigator reportedly wanted Zimmerman arrested that night; Sanford PD leaking to protect itself, Zimmerman?
#ShowPlug 2: Latest on Trayvon Martin including my special guest, Congresswoman Frederica @RepWilson
#ShowPlug 3: @JonathanTurley on Day 2 of SCOTUS vs Health Care Reform and the ominous implications of three questions by Justices
#ShowPlug 4: Sure Santorum thinks Romney worst in GOP to run vs POTUS on health care, but he'd share a ticket with him. WOW.
#ShowPlug 5: NOM's plan to pit African-Americans vs LGBT over Marriage Equality; Murdoch caught sabotaging British TV rival
#ShowPlug Last: the hypocrisy of @GeraldoRivera - his non-apology apology for "hoodie" remark. Short version: A black guy said it was ok
#5 'Justice For Trayvon', Adam Weinstein
#5 'Justice For Trayvon', Rep. Frederica Wilson
#4 'Mandate In The Middle', Jonathan Turley
# Time Marches On!
#3 'The Great Right Hopes', Ken Vogel
#2 'NOM Revealed', Brian Moulton
#1 'Hacks', John Dean
printable PDF transcript
On the show: John Dean, Jonathan Turley, Frederica Wilson, Brian Moulton, Adam Weinstein, Ken Vogel
KEITH OLBERMANN: Which of these stories will you be talking about tomorrow?
The second scandal of Sanford, Florida.
(Excerpt from video clip) BENJAMIN CRUMP: If the police want to leak information, why don't they leak the witnesses who say they saw him pursuing Trayvon?
(Excerpt from video clip) DARREN SCOTT: We have various aspects that we can proceed from, but as far as where the information came from at this time I cannot disclose.
OLBERMANN: There are simple answers, of course -
(Excerpt from video clip) RUSH LIMBAUGH: He wanted to protect his neighborhood, and he just got a little overzealous.
OLBERMANN: What would "a lot overzealous" have been? Taking 25 hostages?
And the tone deafness does not abate. Hoodie-wearing Geraldo Rivera blamed Trayvon Martin for wearing a hoodie, while on O'Reilly, wearing a hoodie. Today, he pretended to apologize: "I apologize to anyone offended by what one prominent black conservative called my 'very practical and potentially life-saving campaign."
Short version - it's okay I blamed a 17-year-old dead kid because one African-American guy says it's okay.
And, by the way, here's the National Rifle Association's hoodie, complete with a pocket for your concealed weapon.
(Excerpt from video clip) MAN: It's unstructured, casual design appears incapable of concealing a heavy firearm - but it does so with ease!
OLBERMANN: Day Two at the Supreme Court. The administration's lawyer stumbles, the justices pounce.
(Excerpt from video clip) ANTHONY KENNEDY: Assume, for the moment, that this is unprecedented.
(Excerpt from video clip) JOHN ROBERTS: So, can the government require you to buy a cellphone because that would facilitate responding when you need emergency services?
(Excerpt from video clip) ANTONIN SCALIA: You can make people buy broccoli.
OLBERMANN: The analysis of Jonathan Turley.
Remember the presidential election? A new tone from Santorum about the candidacy of the "worst possible Republican to run against the president on health care" - he would run with him.
(Excerpt from video clip) RICK SANTORUM: Of course. I mean - look, I would do, in this race, as I always say - this is the most important race in our country's history. And so, I'm going to do everything I can.
OLBERMANN: And Murdoch-gate, phase three - News Corp. hacked a pay-TV rival, gave its codes to a pirate site, pay-TV rival went out of business.
(Excerpt from video clip) LEE GIBLING: They delivered the actual software to be able to do this, with prior instructions that it should go to the widest possible community.
OLBERMANN: Now, on "Countdown" -
OLBERMANN: Good evening. This is Tuesday, March 27th, 225 days until the 2012 presidential election.
Trayvon Martin's family, fighting back against the steady drip, drip, drip of leaks supporting the man who shot and killed him - neighborhood watch captain George Zimmerman. That, against the background of more clueless comments from the commentariat.
The fifth story on the "Countdown" - Trayvon Martin was shot February 26. Character assassination, much of it from leaks that appear to be from the investigators, began over the weekend. Martin reportedly sprayed graffiti on a school locker and was said to be found carrying a screwdriver and women's jewelry, security officers supposedly calling the screwdriver "a possible burglary tool." But Miami Dade police saying the jewelry had not been reported stolen.
Martin family attorney Ben Crump pointing out the leaks so far serve to weaken the case against the shooter.
(Excerpt from video clip) CRUMP: If the police want to leak information, why don't they leak the witnesses who say they saw him pursuing Trayvon? But they have only did things that are beneficial to Mr. Zimmerman's claim of self defense. And the only reason we can think that - from Day One, they made a decision they were not going to arrest George Zimmerman.
OLBERMANN: That, even though ABC News reporting multiple sources say the lead homicide investigator in the shooting had wanted a different result.
Investigator Chris Serino reportedly recommending George Zimmerman be arrested for manslaughter the night of the shooting. This, after Zimmerman had been questioned for several hours. Serino even filing an affidavit saying he was unconvinced by Zimmerman's testimony. But State Attorney Norman Wolfinger, who later removed himself from the case, deciding there was insufficient evidence for a conviction. State and federal investigators revisiting that now, and Sanford interim Police Chief Darren Scott refusing to comment on the allegation that those leaks are coming from his department.
(Excerpt from video clip) SCOTT: We are looking into the leak - the so-called leak, if you will - and there is an internal process that's going to handle that situation. If there's something that I can bring to you all at a later time, I will. But as of right now, there's nothing to report on it.
OLBERMANN: Congressional Democrats taking their own look into Trayvon Martin's killing today. Florida Representative Frederica Wilson, our guest in a few moments, laying out her version of this case:
(Excerpt from video clip) FREDERICA WILSON: Trayvon is the victim of a botched police investigation full of incompetence or intelligent mismanagement. This investigation is laced with racial profiling, lies and murder. Trayvon was hunted, chased, tackled and shot.
OLBERMANN: Trayvon Martin's parents Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin and the attorney Ben Crump saying race was, indeed, at the heart of the botched investigation.
(Excerpt from video clip) SYBRINA FULTON: Of course my heart is broken, but it breaks even more to know that we have not gotten justice yet and that this man has not been arrested for shooting and killing my son.
(Excerpt from video clip) TRACY MARTIN: I believe he was racially profiled.
(Excerpt from video clip) CRUMP: And we believe the investigation also had racial profiling aspects to it.
OLBERMANN: The family, on Monday, collecting more than two million signatures demanding the arrest of George Zimmerman.
And first lady Michelle Obama praising the national attention devoted to this case:
(Excerpt from video clip) MICHELLE OBAMA: We are just happy that there will be a thorough investigation, that the Justice Department is involved, and it's also good that the nation is focused on this.
OLBERMANN: Perhaps there are parts of the nation that should focus on something else, starting with Rush Limbaugh, who said this of Zimmerman:
(Excerpt from video clip) LIMBAUGH: He is a self-appointed neighborhood watch commander and he wanted to protect his neighborhood, just got a little overzealous.
OLBERMANN: I'm assuming here that Limbaugh thinks "a lot overzealous" would be mass murderer.
And, Geraldo Rivera of Fox News claiming he was apologizing today for this first of several similar comments.
(Excerpt from video clip) GERALDO RIVERA: I think the hoodie is as much responsible for Trayvon Martin's death as George Zimmerman was.
OLBERMANN: Well, if anybody considers this an apology, here it is, in full: "I apologize to anyone offended what one prominent black conservative called my 'very practical and potentially life-saving campaign' urging black and Hispanic parents not to let their children go around wearing hoodies."
Imagine the scandal if minority kids dared to wear this National Rifle Association hoodie that allows the wearer to conceal a heavy firearm with ease. (Shows advertisement for NRA concealed-weapon hoodie.)
For more on the latest developments on the Trayvon Martin case, I'm joined by Adam Weinstein, reporter with Mother Jones. Thanks for your time tonight, sir.
ADAM WEINSTEIN: Hi, Keith.
OLBERMANN: The ABC News report that the initial homicide investigation and the investigator who conducted it wanted Zimmerman charged with manslaughter - do we know why he was not charged?
WEINSTEIN: We can venture a pretty good guess, and I'll say it in three words: Stand Your Ground, Keith.
The real problem here is the law in Florida and not only the law, but the way it's been interpreted by the courts. Essentially, a defendant can just argue self defense without really having any kind of proof. They just have to make a plausible case and then the burden shifts over to the prosecution to try and figure out how they can disprove that case, and if they can't do that, the case gets thrown out, it gets an acquittal.
And frankly, what's happened is, it's caused a lot of local police and law enforcers and a lot of local state's attorneys to just use their discretion and say, "Well, look, if we can't get a solid conviction probability here, then what's the point of taking it to trial?"
OLBERMANN: Good issue.
WEINSTEIN: So, there's a lot of space there.
OLBERMANN: You used the word discretion, which doesn't seem to have been applied very often in the other meaning of the word in this case. This flurry of leaks - graffiti, marijuana traces in a bag in a book bag, jewelry that somebody thinks was stolen, even though it hasn't been linked to any crime - if that is the worst anybody can find against this poor young man, is the effort really going to rebound on itself? Doesn't it further the case for his innocence?
WEINSTEIN: Well, you know, innocence on the part of Trayvon Martin is really not the question here.
WEINSTEIN: He's not on trial. The real big issue here - well, there's actually two issues.
The first one is - what are they trying to prove when they make these kinds of leaks? Are they trying to say, somewhere between buying Skittles and then walking over to his father's girlfriend's house, he was casing a couple of joints? Not exactly sure point of those kind of leaks were.
The only thing that we can say for sure, right now, is that there is some kind of a serious discipline problem emanating from the Sanford police department. For this kind of stuff to come out, whether or not it's intentional, they've definitely got a couple of house-cleaning issues that they've probably got to take care of now.
OLBERMANN: All right, in Washington, the hearing today on Capitol Hill, temperature seems to be rising there - the charges of racial profiling, of murder, of lying - does that reflect in part the anger out there in the country and, to that point, are there more protests planned in the immediate future?
WEINSTEIN: Yes, and yes. To be perfectly honest, there's a whole lot going on in this case that's giving people cause for anger, and it's bringing a diverse group of people together to sort of work out these issues.
Obviously, there's part of a national discussion on race that, I think, has been kind of problematic and sort of, we really haven't had in an intense sort of way, probably since I was in high school in the mid-90's, when all of this stuff came to a head.
And you know, you've also got the issues of the gun laws that have been pushed for the - self-defense kind of interpretations. All of these things are combining to really give people cause for concern.
And, of course, there's the victim-blaming which has just added a new layer that is bringing a bunch of other people out to this issue and getting angry. You know, Pew just had a poll that showed that something like 73 percent of Americans are inclined to think that George Zimmerman should be at least arrested for something. And I think that's going to continue.
OLBERMANN: The investigation in Florida - is the assessment now that Governor Scott, if he has not made it a priority already, is doing so - and what do we infer from the Attorney General of Florida Pam Bondi who said, "What we do know is a 17-year-old boy was walking home and now he's dead and when you have questions like that, they need to be answered." There seems to be a sort of cut to the chase there. Is Florida turned on this? Is Florida pushing for an investigation on a major scale?
WEINSTEIN: I think that they're trying. Rick Scott and Pam Bondi, to be perfectly honest, have a lot on their plates right now.
Last week, he signed a school prayer bill. He signed another bill into law that would drug test state employees. Pam Bondi has been on up the hill trying to fight against Obamacare. And somewhere in there, they started to make Trayvon Martin a priority.
But you know, you do have to question where their priorities are. They've up this task force to look at "Stand Your Ground" - all the folks that are on the task force are going to be appointed, or at least selected, by four of the leading conservative, pro-gun Republicans in the state.
So, you do have to question - it's not that they've done nothing, but the things they have done are sort of problematic, and I'm not sure they are going to get the job done or really satisfy Floridians.
OLBERMANN: The Mother Jones reporter Adam Weinstein. Great thanks for your time tonight.
WEINSTEIN: Thanks, Keith.
OLBERMANN: For more on the Trayvon Martin story, and the congressional hearing in particular today, it's a great pleasure to be joined again by Florida Democratic Representative Frederica Wilson, the congresswoman who has been a driving force pushing this case forward and, of course, a friend of the Trayvon Martin family. It's good to talk to you again, Congresswoman, thanks again for your time.
WILSON: Great to be with you, Keith.
OLBERMANN: What was the purpose of the hearing today, from your perspective?
WILSON: Well, it was to look at the law. We had experts there examining the law. We were looking at the crime scene and the botched investigation, and we were talking about hate crimes and how prevalent they are in the United States, and talking about racial profiling, and what we need to do as a Congress to prevent something like this from ever happening again.
OLBERMANN: You call the investigation botched - full of incompetence or intelligent mismanagement. It's an intriguing phrase, intelligent mismanagement. Expand on that. What did you mean by that?
WILSON: I mean that they didn't really know what they were doing and they thought that they did, and that they - maybe it wasn't intentional, but it was mismanaged, and it's just incompetence. It's - all of the above, in my estimation, is what happened in the Trayvon Martin case. There was never any yellow tape surrounding the crime scene. Have you ever heard of that?
WILSON: And the crime scene was 60 feet away from the home where he was living - or spending, you know, time, and it was just unconscionable. They never called anyone from the state attorney to the crime scene, no one was called, no homicide investigators. So there, this police - this one police officer - decided that this was self defense, and he told Mr. Zimmerman to go home. That was it.
Now, Mr. Zimmerman needs to be arrested. Here he is, 100 pounds heavier than Trayvon. This is a 26-year-old man who is dueling it out with a 17-year-old, in his estimation. And because his nose was bleeding, he shot him.
Now, first of all, Trayvon was not the aggressor. Mr. Zimmerman was told to stand down, leave the boy alone, do not follow him, but what did he do? He got out of his truck, and he followed him. He followed him and then he chased him, just like you chase a rabid dog, caught up with him, and what was Trayvon to do? If someone chases you, catches up with you, you've got to fight, and then he shot that sweet young man dead. Trayvon lives in my district.
OLBERMANN: Let me ask you something, bluntly, in light of what the initial state homicide investigation supposedly turned up - the ABC report that the investigator wanted Zimmerman charged with murder, and wanted him charged, or at least arrested that night. Let me ask you something bluntly - because I've been asked this question a lot, and I don't have any idea of the parameters of this - do you think George Zimmerman is some way being protected because his father was a retired magistrate court judge in Virginia or is that just too remote and just a coincidence?
WILSON: I think that he has endeared himself to the police department, and I think that they see him as a protector in that community. This is what I think, and I think that he has that first-name recognition and they're buddy-buddy and friends. So, he actually sees himself as a member of the police department and they have that code of silence, and he's probably a part of the code of silence, and I think that's what it is.
OLBERMANN: The congresswoman who has been at the core of all this coverage and the expansion of the coverage of the case, Frederica Wilson, Democrat of Florida, friend of the Trayvon Martin family. Once again, thanks for your time tonight, Congresswoman.
WILSON: Thank you. Thank you so much for having me.
OLBERMANN: Of course.
To the Supreme Court - and a shaky day for health-care reform, and the man defending it on behalf of the Obama administration. Professor Jonathan Turley joins me next.
OLBERMANN: When the presumed "swing vote" on the Supreme Court asks the attorney defending health-care reform a question beginning with, "Assume this is unprecedented. This is a step beyond what our cases have allowed" - should we assume then that the individual mandate is in trouble? Jon Turley next.
OLBERMANN: Though Clarence Thomas stuck to his six years and counting of silence on the bench - he's just auditing the Supreme Court - his silence was hardly noticed today, let alone deafening.
In our fourth story on the "Countdown" - the Court split along ideological lines in the second of three days of arguments over the constitutionality of parts of the health-care reform plan. Anthony Kennedy joined more conservative Justices Scalia, Alito, and Chief Justice Roberts in challenging Solicitor General Donald Verrilli over the heart of the health-care law - the individual mandate.
The Chief Justice led the charge:
(Excerpt from video clip) ROBERTS: So, can the government require you to buy a cellphone because that would facilitate responding when you need emergency services?
OLBERMANN: And Scalia continued where Roberts left off:
(Excerpt from video clip) SCALIA: Everybody has to buy food, sooner or later, so you define the market as food. Therefore, everybody is in the market. Therefore, you can make people buy broccoli.
OLBERMANN: You can't have sophistry on the Supreme Court. He went further, questioning the mandate's constitutionality.
(Excerpt from video clip) SCALIA: The federal government is not supposed to be a government that has all powers. It is supposed to be a government of limited powers. And that's what all this questioning has been about. What - what is left? If the government can do this, what - what else can it not do?
OLBERMANN: Meanwhile, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg signaled her support of the law, saying that a broader health-care market reduces cost for those participating.
(Excerpt from video clip) RUTH BADER GINSBURG: People who don't participate in this market are making it much more expensive for the people who do.
OLBERMANN: Joining me now to try to help us figure out what went on today, Jonathan Turley - George Washington University law professor, constitutional law expert, and "Countdown" contributor. Jon, thanks for your time again tonight.
JONATHAN TURLEY: Hi, Keith.
OLBERMANN: It seemed, yesterday, that the justices were not heading towards a ruling that might find all or part of this unconstitutional. Today, it looked like a completely different court with a completely different case. Give me your assessment on what happened today.
TURLEY: Well, you know - and we talked about this yesterday - I mentioned that, really, the two justices that were being watched most closely by most of us were Justice Kennedy, for the obvious swing vote, but also Justice Scalia. Many people did not realize that Scalia had said things in past cases that made his vote somewhat in play. and I think that the administration was trying to see if they could nudge him to stay consistent with that prior statement.
What we saw today is that Scalia does not appear to be in play, which means that it's a greater burden for the administration. They really need Kennedy, and Kennedy's questions seemed quite skeptical if not, at points, hostile. He really hit all the themes that were coming out of the briefs challenging the law, and he really did not get an answer to those questions by the solicitor general.
OLBERMANN: Reading what I was able to read on this today, it seemed as if the solicitor general did not have a good day, at least in terms of the armchair quarterbacks. Was he ineffective? Was - were - in fact, there was several assessments that the liberal-leaning justices almost took the case out of his hands and began to argue it for him.
TURLEY: Well, I have to say, you know, I feel very sympathetic for him. I've been in appellate arguments, and God knows there's few arguments that are - have this much pressure. So, you have to be built of titanium not to be a bit flustered. But the justices did seem to come to his aid a lot and, at points, they seemed to be more clear in their answers.
I think that the problem with the performance by the solicitor general is a problem that the Justice Department as a whole has had. The Justice Department has not covered itself in glory in this litigation. They changed their position on a number of issues, on the trial appellate level. That's never a good idea in a major case. And they lack a certain degree of clarity in their position.
And when Kennedy is asking you, "Give me a limiting principle, let me feel comfortable with this," there really wasn't an answer coming back, saying, "Here's a way we can thread that needle."
This was your one opportunity, in that sense. You know, Keith - most of these justices aren't swayed by the oral argument. In this case, you basically had a court of one, and whether you could give Kennedy a reason to feel comfortable with voting in favor of with the law. I think Kennedy left without being given that comfort factor.
OLBERMANN: Clarify it for us again - could they still wind up stripping out just the mandate from this? Would the rest of the reform remain in some measurable way, and what's the problem with just stripping out the mandate, since the mandate was the raw meat that was thrown to the insurance industry?
TURLEY: Yeah, I mean, that's going to be the issue - one of the two issues for tomorrow - which is called severability. There's a very weird thing in this law. Most of these laws have what's called a severability clause, that are - that is designed for this. Virtually all the major laws say, "If any part is found unconstitutional, the rest can stand."
For some reason, the administration or the Democrats decided to take out the severability clause, so this law doesn't have that provision.
So the question now is - if they take out the individual mandate, is it so important to the scheme that they might as well strike down the whole law? And it's a problem of the administration's making. They chose not to put in that severability clause.
It is also a problem that previously, they suggested that it was not severable. It was sort of a sticker-shock approach. They were told - the trial judge, you know, "If you turned down the individual mandate, the whole thing goes down in flames." And then they changed that position later and said, "You know what? Actually, you can take it out and the whole thing won't go down in flames."
Well, that's what I mean by a lack of clarity. At points, you sort of wonder whether the public should get a new lawyer, not for the solicitor general. But in terms of how this was presented in the courts, it was not the finest hour for the Justice Department.
OLBERMANN: Doesn't sound like it's going in the textbooks, at least not in a positive sense.
Jonathan Turley of George Washington University Law and "Countdown" contributor. As always, Jon, thanks again for helping us make some sense.
TURLEY: Thank you, Keith.
OLBERMANN: Talk about twisting health care. Governor Romney now saying maybe he is the godfather of health-care reform - and the hardest working man in show business, I guess - and thus, he has a right to kill health-care reform.
Meanwhile, Senator Santorum now saying, "Sure, Romney's the worst Republican to campaign on health-care reform, and maybe you'd want to stick with the incumbent president if he runs," but, sure, he'd still run on the same ticket with Romney. Coming up.
OLBERMANN: As late as last weekend, Rick Santorum was saying - at best - Mitt Romney was, on health care, the "worst Republican to run against President Obama." Now he says he might run with him.
First, the "Sanity Break," and on this date in 1899 was born perhaps the greatest of all American movie actresses - Gloria Josephine May Swanson.
Gloria Swanson starred as a comedienne at age 15. By 19, she was Hollywood's leading lady. At 28, she turned down a contract for a million a year. At 29, she was nominated for the first Academy Award. At 30, she made the leap to talkies.
After she faded out, she worked in getting persecuted Jews out of Europe before the Second World War, made a comeback in TV in 1948, and then gave maybe the single best performance in movie history - as the silent-film star driven mad by her career collapse - in "Sunset Boulevard" in 1950.
She kept acting, lived to be 84, and made her last film appearance in "Airport 1975," just 60 years after her film debut.
All right, Mr. DeMille, I'm ready for my close-up.
"Time Marches On!"
VIDEO: Pope Benedict XVI wears a sombrero on his recent trip to Mexico.
We begin, of course, with the pope wearing a sombrero.
While in Mexico over the weekend, the pope donned a sombrero. When in Rome - actually, when he's in Rome, he wears a different hat.
The pope said he liked wearing the sombrero. It was just like his favorite movie, "The Three Amigos."
The pope is now in Cuba, and we look forward to footage of him wearing a cap and smoking a stogie.
VIDEO: Pima, AZ Air Museum attempts to fly giant paper airplane.
Let's check in with the world of aviation. It's a bird! It's a plane - yeah, it's a plane!
It's a 45-foot-long paper airplane, made of material similar material to that of pizza boxes, but without that much cheese.
The Pima Air and Space Museum designed this airplane and attached it to a helicopter to see if it could fly. You'll notice the plane does fly for a few seconds on its own, but then again, if you dropped an anvil from a helicopter it' would fly for a few seconds on its own, too.
The sad ending here is that Arizona Governor Jan Brewer is now accusing people of trying to cross the border via paper plane. Of course, they're people trying to get out of Arizona.
VIDEO: Squirrel enjoys chewing headphones.
Finally, the TMO Adorable Clip of the Day.
How many times have you had this conversation? "My headphones aren't working." "The squirrel probably got to them."
That's right, apparently squirrels love chewing headphones. Or at least this one does. He says he finds something with a Latin flavor to be most delicious.
"Time Marches On!"
The newest Rupert Murdoch scandal - his pay-TV people hacked a rival, stole its secrets, gave the secrets to a pirate website, in order to put the rival out of business. Coming up.
OLBERMANN: First it was, "We might as well stick with what we have," in terms of presidents. Then Mitt Romney was "the worst Republican in the country" - of course, only when it came to health care.
And now, in our third story, Mitt Romney is something new in the eyes of Rick Santorum - a guy with whom he'd be willing to share the ticket. In an interview with the Christian Broadcasting Network, Santorum spoke supportively about the possibility of a Romney nomination. And he apparently decided that being second fiddle to the worst Republican in the country was better than going home.
(Excerpt from video clip) DAVID BRODY: If he, for some reason, asks you to be the vice presidential candidate on his ticket - I know, after is all said and done - would you even consider it? Would you consider it?
(Excerpt from video clip) SANTORUM: Of course. I mean - look, I would do, in this race, as I always say - this is the most important race in our country's history. And so, I'm going to do everything I can.
OLBERMANN: Of course, no one thinks Romney would choose Santorum as a running mate, unless he hopes that Santorum might help assuage fears about his - Romney's - religion.
But it turns out most Republicans are not even sure what Santorum's religion is. According to exiting polls conducted by Edison Research, only 42 percent of Catholic Republicans know that Santorum is Catholic. Eleven percent of Catholic Republicans - 35 percent of white evangelical Republicans - think he is an evangelical.
But, there does appear to be some positive buzz for Santorum. His outburst over the weekend drew support from one Republican whose own experiences with the media are - as is her own career, in her own mind - legendary.
(Excerpt from video clip) SARAH PALIN: Santorum's response to that liberal-leftist-in-the-tank-for-Obama, press character really revealed some of Rick Santorum's character. And it was good, and it was strong and it was about time. So, when I heard Rick Santorum's response I was like, "Well, welcome to my world, Rick, and good on ya."
OLBERMANN: I love Julianne Moore.
Let's bring in Ken Vogel, chief investigative reporter for Politico. Ken, good evening.
KEN VOGEL: Hey, Keith.
OLBERMANN: Santorum's willing to run with the "worst Republican to run with on health-care reform?" I mean, I know George H.W. Bush was able to come back from calling Reagan's policies in the '80 primaries "voodoo economics" to be his vice president. But, how could Rick Santorum say these two things in the same millennium?
VOGEL: Well, he can say the one - and he has said repeatedly that Mitt Romney is the worst candidate to run against President Obama on health care. And, that's a good point. It's a valid one, and one that really underscores the premise of his candidacy, which is to raise concerns about Mitt Romney among conservatives - among social conservatives, fiscal conservatives, evangelical conservatives.
So, to hear him say now that he would be willing consider running with them, is, at best, discordant and, at worst, really undercuts the whole idea of his candidacy.
OLBERMANN: Is it, practically speaking, moot? I mean, would Romney ever consider Santorum?
VOGEL: Well, I mean - on paper, Santorum might not be a bad running mate for Mitt Romney. He would have appeal in some of the sectors of the Republican base that Mitt Romney is sort of lacking in appeal - among those evangelicals, like you said, tea partiers, even. And, let's face it, he also knows how to deliver an attack line, and that is really a key thing for a vice presidential candidate to be able to do.
However, the fact that he continues to deliver these attack lines against Mitt Romney and drag out the process - the longer it goes, the less likely it is that Mitt Romney would even consider him.
OLBERMANN: Plus, would not what he has said to this point be, again, sort of - we've now had a list of maybe 317 of these - ready-made commercials for the Obama re-election campaign - would it simply be Rick Santorum discussing Mitt Romney, and then, it says "Romney/Santorum 2012?"
VOGEL: Yeah, that's right. I mean, he's the guy waving around the Etch A Sketch and going after Mitt Romney for being out of touch. In some ways, it's the same arguments that the Democrats will make, so it's nice having the running mate making them for you, and - obviously - that diminishes the chances that Rick Santorum would be selected.
In addition, he's got this whole stockpile of sort of fringy affiliations and things that he said along the way, that - surprisingly - Mitt Romney, to my mind, kind of laid off on of late, which suggests that he doesn't think that Santorum is as much of a threat.
OLBERMANN: Something else - the open mic story of the president and Medvedev, after which Mitt Romney called Russia, "without question, our number one geopolitical foe," which was news - probably relative to North Korea and Iran and China, perhaps, if you even want to look at it in those terms.
President Medvedev responded, "It's 2012, not the mid 1970s. No matter what party a candidate represents, he has to take the current state of affairs into account."
Is that as much of a slap to Mitt Romney as it sounds like? Or is that something, in fact, that Mitt Romney can take as a bloody shirt and hold up to his supporters and go, "Look, I got insulted by the president of Russia?"
VOGEL: Well, he's certainly trying, and the fact that he thinks that Russia is the number one geopolitical threat does, in some ways, hearken back to an earlier era. We talked to foreign policy experts, they say that there really isn't a number one geopolitical nation-state threat like there was during the Cold War in the form of Soviet Russia.
But this also underscores the challenge for any Republican presidential candidate running against President Obama - or really, any sitting president - which is that the president of the United States, by definition, has this vast foreign-policy experience. Even if he didn't have it when he was running in 2008, he has it now, and there aren't a whole lot of openings - with the death of Osama Bin Laden, and some of the other foreign-policy successes - to go after President Obama on foreign policy.
OLBERMANN: Governor Romney can see Russia from his split-level, four-vehicle garage, which brings us to the subject of his split-level, four-car garage. He has hired a lobbyist to hire - lobby the officials in San Diego so he can build this split-level, four-vehicle garage and it has a car lift that can transport automobiles between floors. Is there a point at which somebody taps him on the shoulder and says, "Ixnay on the oneymay things until the - after the campaign?"
VOGEL: Well, this has really been a long-running project for the Romneys and, you know, people have already had these conversations or, at least, that's a part of his thinking - because, in the run up to his campaign, he got rid of a few properties and tried to scale back his lifestyle. But, obviously, this is something that the Romneys care deeply about, and just plays in to this narrative that this is a super-rich guy who just has no clue how regular people are living.
OLBERMANN: Our vehicles need elevators.
Chief political investigative reporter for Politico, Ken Vogel. Always a pleasure, Ken. Thanks for your time.
VOGEL: Thank you, Keith.
OLBERMANN: What did an outfit calling itself "National Organization For Marriage" have to do with passing Prop. 8 in California in 2008, and specifically, trying to turn blacks against gays? Answers, next.
OLBERMANN: Rupert Murdoch's latest scandal - deliberately sabotaging another television network's smart cards, giving the data to a pirate website, and then watching the other network go out of business. Uh-oh.
OLBERMANN: Internal memos unsealed from the National Organization for Marriage expose detailed and deliberate plans to exploit racial divisions and foster a culture of homophobia in the United States and abroad.
In our number two story on the "Countdown" - one of the private documents admitting, "The strategic goal of this project is to drive a wedge between gays and blacks." The passage goes on to detail NOM's racially-driven tactics: "Find, equip, energize and connect African American spokespeople for marriage, develop a media campaign around their objections to gay marriage as a civil right, provoke the gay marriage base into responding by denouncing these spokesmen and women as bigots. No politician wants to take up and push an issue that splits the base of the party."
The documents were released as part of Maine's investigation into NOM's financial practices. Human Rights Campaign, one of the leading advocates for gay rights, uploaded the 40-page PDF file online.
The internal memos also highlight NOM's strategy for the 2010 election. It included plans to capture Latino votes by hiring "a Hispanic outreach coordinator," and also a PR firm to develop Spanish-language and TV ads that would spread anti-gay propaganda: "Will the process of assimilation to the dominant Anglo culture lead Hispanics to abandon traditional family values? We can interrupt this process of assimilation by making support for marriage a key badge of Latino identity."
Another section, called "Sideswiping Obama" calls for portraying the president as "a social radical." The memo talks about activist plans to "raise issues such as pornography, protection of children, and the need to oppose all efforts to weaken religious liberty at the federal level."
For more on this story, let's turn now to Brian Moulton - the legal director for the Human Rights Campaign. Thanks for your time tonight, sir.
BRIAN MOULTON: Thanks for having me.
OLBERMANN: First, give me the background. The National Organization for Marriage - what is it, where does the money for it come from? Do you know?
MOULTON: Sure. Well, they claim to be a large grassroots organization fighting the right of gays and lesbians to marry. But, we really don't know a lot about where their donors are and where their money comes from, because they have been doing what they did in Maine - and that's where these documents came from - fighting campaign disclosure laws all over the country.
We do know - from some of their IRS documentation - that, in reality, about 90 percent of their funding comes from eight large donors.
OLBERMANN: So, these documents, these e-mails, how did your organization get them?
MOULTON: Well, we've been following the case in Maine closely, and were expecting that the release would happen, and had someone there at the courthouse to pick them up so we could take a look at, you know, what we could find out about NOM.
OLBERMANN: The wedge strategy - Latinos versus LGBT. Particularly, blacks versus LGBT - that sounds a lot what - or like what Fox News had reported after Prop. 8 passed in California in 2008, although the voting exit polls suggested that really isn't what caused Prop. 8 to pass. Was part of selling the idea that that was what caused Prop. 8 to pass, was that part of the strategy too, or did they just tell Fox to assign credit to it? Or is that part of it a coincidence?
MOULTON: Well, I think this is a narrative that this organization has been trying to construct for years, that they keep trying to put forward and, you know, I think we've seen that bear out, that that's just not the case.
You know, in just the most recent marriage efforts in the District of Columbia, in Maryland, we see, you know, prominent African-Americans on the side of marriage equality - African-American legislators, clergy participating in these efforts - so, you know, they're certainly trying to paint a picture that there's a monolithic opposition among some minority groups. And, that's just simply not the case.
OLBERMANN: And there was another disturbing find in these documents - $120,000 budgeted for an outreach coordinator to identify the children of gay parents willing to speak on camera. Do you know what that was about?
MOULTON: Well, you know, I don't know for sure, but it sounds a lot like, to me, a deeply cynical effort to try and identify people who might, you know, speak out critically of their parents that are married gay and lesbian couples. And, I think it's just one more aspect of how deeply cynical and, frankly, ugly the tactics of this organization are, and now we're getting to see those in their own documents in black and white.
OLBERMANN: Distinct Progress reported today that NOM tried to boycott Starbucks over the company's support of freedom to marry, that that failed horribly. NOM also seems to be losing this battle in Maine. Are they getting through? I mean, if they had any influence on Prop. 8, have they had any influence on anything since?
MOULTON: Well, I think you've seen the numbers on marriage - supporting marriage equality - have moved, you know, all across the country in favor of the cause of equality. You know, you're seeing more and more states move in that direction, and sort of the three priorities listed in these documents - Iowa, New Hampshire, and D.C. - to stop marriage equality were all clear failures.
You know, we just saw the New Hampshire Republican-controlled legislature reject repealing marriage in that state. And they certainly invested a lot of time and energy there, so their track record isn't looking so good.
OLBERMANN: Brian Moulton, the legal director for Human Rights Campaign. Good luck with this, and great thanks for your time tonight.
MOULTON: Great. Thank you, Keith.
OLBERMANN: The Rupert Murdoch sabotage scandal - it moves his woes from newspapers to TV. Next.
OLBERMANN: Very suddenly, we might call a breaking side light to the Trayvon Martin case.
Coming out of the Los Angeles Times newspaper - the Times spoke to the special prosecutor in Florida, Angela Corey, and I'll just read you what The Times reports: "In a sign of how feverishly her team is working on the case, Corey said her probe could possibly result in state charges that bypass the need for the Seminole County grand jury, which is slated to convene April 10 to hear the case."
The quote - "It's possible that we'll just make a decision without the grand jury" - that's the LA Times quoting Angela Corey - a possibility that the special prosecutor in Florida might act before a grand jury hears evidence or hands down indictments in the Trayvon Martin/Zimmerman case in Florida.
Also, Rupert Murdoch's hacking scandal has been limited to his newspapers - well, it had been.
But, in our number one story - now, last night, the BBC revealed evidence of new claims of hacking not involving private cellphones, but top-secret info stolen from a competitor in an effort to force them into bankruptcy - a television competitor.
BBC's "Panorama" program alleges that, in the late 90s, NDS - News Corp.'s software-security arm - hired German hacker Oliver Kommerling to hack into ONdigital's smart cards. That would be a rival of News Corp.'s Sky TV.
Smart cards are used by cable companies to determine the digital TV subscription of a consumer. Once the codes needed to create counterfeit smart cards were obtained, those codes were given to Murdoch's head of British security for NDS, Ray Adams. Adams then fed the codes to where the hacker Lee Gibling, who ran a website called The House of Ill Compute.
(Excerpt from video clip) LEE GIBLING: They delivered the actual software to be able to do this, with prior instructions that it should go to the widest possible community.
OLBERMANN: Once the codes were released, consumers were able to create their own smart cards, which gave them free access to subscription TV stations, which cost ONdigital millions. ONdigital finally collapsed in 2002.
Murdoch's NDS does not deny it had those secret codes, which is not illegal. But, it said it had them "as part of the fight against paid-TV piracy.They also acknowledged that the material was passed on to Adams, but they deny feeding the information to Gibling.
Still, in 2002, Canal Plus - which created ONdigital's smart cards - sued NDS, but the suit never made it to court after Rupert Murdoch made a deal to purchase the assets from Canal Plus's parent company. The legal case was stopped, and Canal Plus was broken up.
Joining us now - "Countdown" contributor, columnist, author and former Nixon White House Counsel, and one of the experts on the many Murdoch scandals - John Dean. John, good evening.
DEAN: Good evening, Keith.
OLBERMANN: So, this just made the jump from a sort of theoretical invasion of privacy story about newspapers, however sometimes galling that was, to a very tangible one about Murdoch, and TV and trying to sabotage the competition. Do the templates here - do the backdrops matter?
DEAN: They do indeed. This is a - this is big-league industrial sabotage, Keith, and it's a highly-regulated industry here, but also, even more so in the U.K. And Ofcom, which is the regulatory body, has set up a special unit to look at whether or not the Murdochs should have 39 percent, which they now have, and whether they're fit and proper to run it. This is not going to play well for them in their current application process, as they really hope to get more of this, even.
OLBERMANN: Does it make prosecutors here sit up and wonder, "Did Murdoch's people try to sabotage TV competition in America as well?"
DEAN: I don't know if it did - it should. And the reason it should, Keith, is this is a pattern in practice. We have an example in the United States where News Corp. - one of their subs did the very same thing, where they hack the computers of a competitor, of somebody called Floor Graphics that they were in competition with - and they did it some 11 times, according to the civil complaint.
The case was settled - the same pattern again - they bought them out to silence them, put them under confidentiality agreements - it was actually referred, along the way, to Chris Christie's office. It kind of disappeared there, it went to the FBI. And this is the sort of, you know, repeating behavior that I would think prosecutors here would want to look at.
That case where Canal, for example - you mentioned - had brought a lawsuit. They brought that in the United States. So, there might even be jurisdiction here.
OLBERMANN: And what, if anything, is changed by the fact that Murdoch paid to have the allegations go away, bought the company that was suing him - made it good, in that sense, but still got rid of the competitor, no matter however else they got to that destination?
DEAN: Very telling. He didn't think he had a very good lawsuit. This is what they did in Floor Graphics - they paid $30 million for a $1 million corporation to silence them. I don't know the deal was with Canal, but we see this pattern and it's something that I think investigators should be looking at.
OLBERMANN: And does it tie into James Murdoch? Because, at the time that hacking was alleged to have occurred, he was a director - but not an executive director - but he was a director of this NDS News Corp. company.
DEAN: James Murdoch seems to be an executive that never sees any evil, hears any evil, but yet there's evil around him. He's either got a very low tolerance for understanding what is going on in his operation or its willful denial of what's happening. It's a sort of a willful ignorance, and that won't play too well with either investigators once they start pressing him.
OLBERMANN: So, once again, the $64 billion question - did this just move any closer to the United States today?
DEAN: I think maybe, a little bit, because - as I say, the pattern and practice is the sort of thing that would get the investigators here are on this case and the FBI is looking at it. It would give them another clue that this is the part of a culture an organization and it may well be in existence here.
OLBERMANN: "Countdown" contributor John Dean. As always, great thanks for your insight and for some of your time tonight, sir.
DEAN: Thank you, Keith.
OLBERMANN: That is "Countdown." Congratulations on getting through another day of this crap. I'm Keith Olbermann. Good night and good luck.